Safety Tips For Heating Options In Your Home

When the weather gets colder, people need to start using their heat. It is important to understand the heating options you have for your home. With the Iowa weather getting colder, many people are utilizing their heat. There are many factors to take into consideration when purchasing heating options for your home. Do you have smoke alarms installed around your home? Can they detect levels of carbon monoxide poisoning? Fortunately, many tragedies are preventable. It only takes a little education to protect your family and your home. Learning how to identify potentially hazardous situations is what will protect you and your home. Safety Should Always Come First. Safety and protection is crucial when it comes to a heating emergency. There are no rules to follow, however, these guidelines will help protect yourself and your home from preventable fire hazards. Listed below are a few examples of heating options. We will discuss the proper usage and prevention you can have with all heating options.

General Safety

  • DO NOT use your kitchen stove top or oven to heat your home. This is a severe fire hazard.
  • If you don’t already have them, install smoke alarms that have a battery back up. You should have one installed for every floor in your home. We recommend that you test your alarms once every three months.
  • Ventilation is very important when handling flames, fire places or candles. We recommend that you open a window or a door to help circulate the air.
  • Always remember to turn off heating options before leaving the room or going to sleep.
  • If you smell gas in your home, leave immediately. Do not use flammable items. We recommend that you contact your local fire department.
  • Never leave burning candles unattended.

Electric Space Heaters

  • Children should not have direct access to any type of portable heater, whether electric or fuel powered.
  • Space heaters need their own space. Everything should be kept at least 3 feet away.
  • NEVER refill your space heater while it is on and operating or currently hot.
  • For any type of portable heater, check if it is equipped with “tip switches.” Tip switches are designed to automatically turn off the heating element if the heater were to fall over. This safety switch protects your home and fabrics from catching fire.
  • Extension cords are not ideal for portable heaters. They should be plugged directly into the electrical outlet to prevent potential fire issues.
  • Your portable heater should have a thermostat control. This will prevent the heater from getting to a high degree of heat.
  • Always unplug the portable heater if not in use.
  • Use the correct type of fuel, specified by the manufacturer.

Fireplaces:

  • Your fireplace should be protected with glass doors or metal screens. This helps prevent hot ashes from igniting fabrics or other combustible items in your home. It is common to see sparks from the fire as well.
  • Do not use charcoal, for outdoor grills, in a fireplace. They will release odorless toxins and carbon monoxide into the air.
  • Clean your fireplace and chimney annually. Just like your air conditioning system, you should have an annual inspection.
  • Always have the damper open prior to lighting a fire.
  • Do not burn paper, trash or other items in your fireplace. These materials will cause buildup in your fire pit, which could be difficult to control.
  • Do not go to bed with the fireplace still lit. The fire should be completely extinguished before leaving the room.

Generators:

  • Always use your generator outdoors. Be sure the area is open and dry.
  • Carbon monoxide buildup can be preventable. Keep the generator away from windows, doors and air vents.
  • Do not use your generator while it’s raining.
  • Cool down the generator before refueling. Look for spilled gasoline on the engine parts. This could cause a fire.
  • We recommend that you follow the manufacturer’s instructions. This will provide information and directions on how to use and maintain the generator.
  • Plug directly into the generator. For appliances or other heavy duty machines, plug into generator instead of a regular extension cord. However, you can use an outdoor-rated extension cord that had watts or amps equal to the connected appliances.

It’s always nice to come home to a warm cozy house on a cool day. With these heating options, there are many ways to provide heat for your family. Safety is important when dealing with heating elements. If you are not careful when handling these heating devices, you could lose control of the situation. Educate yourself and contact us if you have any questions.

 

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.