Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in Your Home with Regular Furnace Tune-Ups

The most common way carbon monoxide can leak into your home from a natural gas furnace is through a cracked heat exchanger.that is heated up when the burners are ignited. The outside of the heat exchanger is where the cold air passes, becoming warm and distributed throughout the home’s ductwork. Inside your furnace, natural gas is burning to create the heat, and the heat exchanger keeps the by-products of the burning natural gas, including carbon monoxide, from mixing with the air you breathe. If a crack appears in the heat exchanger, there is an increased potential for the carbon monoxide to leak into the distributed air and circulate around the home.

The heat exchanger is the only barrier separating the toxic gases from your air supply, so if it cracks, that could pose a major risk to your family’s health if the problem does not get addressed in time.

The tough part about these situations is you don’t see or smell carbon monoxide and you may not see a visible crack in your furnace, let alone remembering the last time you even had someone look at your furnace. However, as the metal of the heat exchanger is continuously heated then cooled when shut off, the expansion and contraction can open the crack even more.

What Causes a Heat Exchanger to Crack?

There are a lot of reasons, and the heat exchanger is meant to fail eventually, typically after about 15 to 18 years of use. That’s the case with any major appliance in your home. Age and constant use will wear it. The issue is premature failure, which often results from misapplication or poor furnace maintenance.

Misapplication of Your Furnace

Sometimes, the furnace in a home is too big for the size of the home. This can lead to short cycling or cycling on limit, causing the heat exchanger to heat up and cool down too often. The heat exchanger will be overworked and show that stress with a crack.

Poor Furnace Maintenance

More often than not, though, poor maintenance is the culprit of premature heat exchanger failure. When was the last time you had your furnace checked? Do you know what your furnace filter looks like? A lack of airflow to your furnace due to a dirty, dusty filter will result in your furnace overheating. In turn, your heat exchanger will endure the same overheating and cooling until, eventually, it cracks.

Furnace Tune-Ups and Maintenance

All of these causes are preventable, extending the life of your furnace and keeping your family and home safe. The easiest way to prevent your heat exchanger from cracking is by scheduling furnace tune-ups and heat exchanger inspections every six months. Contact Mt Vernon Heating and Cooling to check your furnace before you need it this winter. These inspections will warn you if any part of your furnace, including the heat exchanger, needs to be replaced. If an inspector finds a crack in your heat exchanger, the industry standard is to replace that heat exchanger right away. A repair won’t solve the problem. A full replacement is necessary to ensure your safety.

 

IS IT TOO EARLY TO SCHEDULE HEATING MAINTENANCE?

While in this part of the country we use our heaters just as much as much as we do our air conditioners. We know those those uncomfortably freezing cool temperatures are something that we do not look forward to but they will be here before we know it.  While our current daytime temperatures are certainly still high enough to warrant the use of our air conditioners, it is dipping down into the low 60’s and even the high 50’s during the nighttime hours. With that in mind, you should remember that those nighttime temperatures are only getting cooler from here on out.

Even if you like to sleep in relatively chilly weather, now is a good time to schedule professional to check out your heater. You don’t want to wait until last minute and are unable to get a HVAC specialist without paying a premium price.

YOU ASK WHY IS HEATING MAINTENANCE NECESSARY?

As we said, it can get cold in this part of the country and at some point in time your heater is a must! Having it checked out is the best way to guarantee that your system will be ready for you when you need it most. Just because your heater was fine when last you shut it off does not mean that it will be ready to come roaring to life the next time that you need it. Even simple inactivity can lead to operational problems as well as mechanical issues. Allowing a trained professional to thoroughly inspect and tune up your heater is the only way in which you can be sure that it will operate at optimal performance and efficiency.

Need an appointment, we are here to help and look forward to assisting you with your safety and comfort. Give us a call today!

When Should I Replace My Air Conditioner?

When should I replace my A/C?

Below are some guidelines as to when it maybe time to replace that Air Conditioner. Wondering about how a timely replacement can actually save you money and trouble? When you rack up two, three, or more repairs. Often seeking replacement is a faster and less troubling solution, and far more cost effective than shelling out for three repairs that still don’t quite fix the issue.

The following reasons indicate why it might be time to schedule AC unit replacement:

1) AGE OF AIR CONDITIONER

The general rule of thumb is if your central air conditioning system is 10+ years it’s time to consider replacement. Cooling systems that are older than 10 years are far more susceptible to breaking down during the dead of summer when they’re forced to work overtime. As AC equipment ages the parts including wiring can deteriorate and all together.

2) FREQUENT AC REPAIRS

As your cooling system ages, you’ll probably notice more frequent repairs including major parts like the motor or air handler. When the repair costs are mounting, or you’re facing a very expensive repair, an AC repair verses replacement calculation should be performed. Bottom line is if your air conditioning system constantly needs repairs or if the cost of AC repair is a third or more of a new unit, it’s time to replace the old one.

3) COST OF REPAIRS

Air conditioner repair costs go hand in hand with the age of your air conditioner; if your equipment is over eight years old and it costs more than $500 to repair it—it’s worth looking at replacement. If your system is older than eight years, the repair cost could be less than $500 for a replacement to make sense.

4) CLIMBING ENERGY BILLS

If your AC unit doesn’t seem to be running as efficient as it used to or if you’re noticing a steady (or sudden) increase in your utility bills, your central air conditioner probably lost the gusto behind its efficiency. Older units in general were terrible about efficiency, however today the air conditioning systems available and far more energy efficient and can save you money on your monthly energy bills because they costs less money to operate compared to the older inefficient equipment. The initial investment in a high efficient air conditioning system or geothermal cooling system will cost more than a single stage air conditioning unit, but they can pay for themselves in just a few years. In fact, a newer energy efficient air conditioner can save you as much as 20% – 40% on your energy bills! Year after year this translates to significant savings, making the initial investment well worth it!

5) STRANGE NOISES

Odd noises are alarming, for sure. And in fact, they should be! The vast majority of strange or loud sounds will relate to component damage or extensive wear. Squealing and squeaks tend to be busted belts, banging and clanking is often loose or damaged parts, and buzz or hum noises are usually electrical issues. Left alone these can become seriously insidious and will only worsen, necessitating in at least AC repair, and just as commonly replacement.

6) UNEVEN COOLING

Uneven cooling and hot spots in the home indicate that your Milwaukee area home’s central AC system is having trouble in one of a few ways. The unit could be short-cycling and not getting the job done thoroughly—a common problem with systems that are oversized. It can also be an air flow restriction due to age or debris buildup, or even a refrigerant leak.

7) NOT COLD ENOUGH

Just not getting the cold air you need to stay comfortable in the heat of our scalding summer afternoons? If you aren’t getting what you need, you shouldn’t be paying for it! Systems that get too old often fail to cool well enough, as do improperly sized AC units. If you’ve been relying on a window air conditioner or a portable AC unit to keep your house cold, it might be time for an upgrade to central air conditioning. It is important that you actually stay cool and comfortable when you engage your system, so be sure to seek a professional for all of your installation services!

8) HARMFUL REFRIGERANT

R-22 refrigerant is harmful to our respiratory systems and the ozone layer. Beginning 2020 R-22 is prohibited for new air conditioning systems. If your system currently uses R-22, we recommend replacing. Keep an eye out for refrigerant leaks too—depending on the severity, a replacement may be needed.

Now that you know the warning signs, it’s time to decide if you want to take your chances and wait until your central air conditioning unit completely breaks down before looking into AC replacement costs.

Protect your A/C unit in the summer heat by looking out for these common causes of freeze.

We all know the drill during summer months. It gets really, really hot. We crank down the thermostat and send our air conditioner into overdrive to try and keep us cool. Everything is great until your air conditioner freezes up. And a frozen A/C unit can ruin a hot summer day very fast.

How does an A/C freeze even seem possible?

There are two fairly common reasons for homeowners to know about A/C freeze.

Problem 1: Blocked air flow

The first potential problem of a frozen air conditioner is typically the air flow in your home. When your home’s air flow is restricted, there’s no air moving through the air conditioning system to keep the condensate on the coil from freezing. The culprit is usually a dirty air filter. This is a simple problem to prevent.Best advice? Set reminders to regularly change your air filters and get two A/C tuneups each year to keep your system clean and efficient. Earlier in the season is better for maintenance, before HVAC contractors get busy with service calls.

How to fix air flow when A/C freezes up?If your air conditioner freezes up due to an air flow issue, first thing to do is switch it off to start the defrosting process. Next thing you should do is turn on the fan. Let it run for 60 to 90 minutes. Check and change your air filter during this time. After that, turn your air conditioner back to cool and it should start working again.

Problem 2. Refrigerant leaks

If air flow isn’t the concern, then there’s the issue of refrigerant leaks. This is another common cause of your A/C freezing up. Whenever you’re leaking Freon or other coolant, it’s a decision point for homeowners. When you have a leak, it’s best to either get it fixed or invest in a new A/C depending on the age of your current system.
Yes, you can get an HVAC company to top off your coolant and get your system up and running again. However this maybe only a temporary fix and there’s no telling how long it will last. It could go a couple of months or a couple of weeks or a couple of hours before your A/C is frozen again. If you suspect a leak, contact a professional HVAC company as soon as possible. Let a  professional licensed technician pinpoint and repair the A/C issue before it causes any  other headaches.

Tips & Tricks

THINK BEFORE CLOSING VENTS IN UNUSED ROOM

In many homes, the HVAC vents have fins that can be adjusted with a sliding switch. These fins can be used to direct airflow at a particular angle, but if you push the switch all the way to the side, they can be used to close off the vent entirely. You might think that you can save energy by closing off the vents in unused rooms, but that’s not the case – not only can this cost you more on your utility bills, it can cost you more in repairs over the long haul.

A Counterproductive Strategy

It’s not an unreasonable hypothesis — if cooled or heated air isn’t escaping through the vents into one or two rooms, it should take less energy to produce the amount of treated air needed for the remaining rooms. But HVAC systems just aren’t designed to work that way.

Closing vents increases the pressure in your ductwork, backs all the way up to your HVAC systems, forcing them to work harder. This causes the same types of problems as having a dirty air filter — your furnace or air conditioner uses more energy to produce the same level of treated air, driving up your monthly bills. It also puts a stress on fans, motors and other equipment, reducing maintenance intervals and leading to more frequent repairs.

Excessive duct pressure also creates another problem — duct leaks. Weak spots in your ductwork can turn into open gaps, allowing treated air to escape and forcing your system to work even harder.

Fortunately, the concept behind closing vents in unused rooms can be safely put to work with the right HVAC equipment. Certain systems called “zone HVAC systems” give you unprecedented control over which rooms receive treated air. Using a more sophisticated interface than an ordinary thermostat, zone systems allow you to assign different temperatures to different zones, which can be as small as a single room.

This is especially handy when you want to save energy by treating a room to a higher or lower temperature without shutting off the flow of air to those rooms completely. While there’s no need for an unoccupied room to receive the same level of comfort, a total lack of HVAC can lead to mold and humidity damage in the summer or frozen pipes in the winter.

If you’re interested in learning more about HVAC zone control and what it would take to upgrade your home system, get in touch with us.