Posts by erinHVAC

Running Simple Efficiency Tests for Your HVAC

routine hvac maintenanceOwning a home comes with a number of bills you have to take care off. If you don’t look for ways to keep these bills low, they can really begin to pile up. One of the most expensive bills is your energy bill. If your HVAC system is inefficient, it can drastically increase your energy bill and take away money that you could be spending in other ways.

Whether you just bought a new home, or haven’t checked your HVAC system’s efficiency levels in a while, it is important to know if your HVAC system is wasting energy. B&L Ott in Reading, PA is here to help with this guide to testing your HVAC’s efficiency levels.

Why is it Important to Know the Efficiency Levels of My HVAC System?

Make Sure Your System is Functioning Properly, Not Just Functioning

It is easy to just make sure your HVAC system is running and call it a day. However, if you stick to this tactic, you may not realize that there is something wrong with your system. Not every problem is obvious and if left unattended, small problems will turn into major repairs. Be sure to call B&L Ott at least twice a year to make sure your system is running properly.

Save Money

When a system isn’t functioning properly, its ability to heat or cool the home effectively and efficiently is reduced. Then it will spend more energy to warm or cool your home to your desired temperature. If left without maintenance for long enough, you will end up with high energy bills and expensive repairs.

Make Sure Your System Reaches Its Full Life Expectancy

A problem that reduces efficiency can eventually lead to a total system shutdown. Think about your HVAC system like a car. If you neglect oil changes, that car will still drive, but may not be functioning properly. Before you know it the motor will seize before the car reaches its life expectancy. A neglected HVAC system will do the same. That is why B&L Ott recommends testing your system biannually to make sure it is producing the correct amount of heat or cooling.

What Factors Contribute to an HVAC System’s Efficiency?

As your system ages, it can often suffer from efficiency degradation.  Many factors can cause this.

Dirt Buildup

Over time the dirt that runs through your system will build up, especially if you don’t change your filter often enough. This dirt will clog your system and cause more wear and tear on the components. The best ways to avoid problems is to change your filter regularly and contact B&L Ott for routine maintenance.

Failing Components

Over time, the mechanisms in your system will experience wear and tear. Eventually, certain components will fail and make it more difficult for the other parts to work efficiently. This can lead to more costly problems. By scheduling an inspection with B&L Ott regularly, we can catch failing parts and replace them before they cause problems with the rest of the machine.

System Not Installed Properly

Just because a system is rated at a certain efficiency, does not mean it will run at that efficiency. Systems that were not properly installed, commissioned, tested and balanced will not operate at their rated efficiencies.

Every home or business building is different, and that means that each HVAC system may need to be installed in a slightly different way. When systems are not properly set up, rated efficiency and delivered efficiency become two very different things. B&L Ott understands this principle and will thoroughly analyze your home or building’s needs and plan for a proper HVAC installation.

How Can I Tell If There Is an Efficiency Problem?

The best method for an owner to realize there might be an efficiency problem with their system is to monitor their energy bills.  If you notice a drastic change in your energy bills, you should call B&L Ott for a diagnostic evaluation.

You should compare your energy bills month by month, as well as compare the same month each year to last year of the same month.  If you have a heat pump and notice a huge increase in your electric bills, you should call B&L Ott right away.

How Can I Help Maintain My System’s Efficiency?

There are two important things you should do to make sure your system runs at its top efficiency.

Change Your Filter Regularly

The first thing you can do is to make sure your filter is replaced routinely. If you have a 1″ filter, change it every 30 days.  Ignore whatever the filter says. Some say 60-day or 90-day, but make sure you replace the filter every 30 days!

Call B&L Ott for Maintenance

The best way to make sure your system is running in tip-top shape is to have B&L Ott’s professionals take a look at it. Our technicians are trained to catch even the smallest of problems. We can improve your efficiency in a variety of ways including:

  • Routine maintenance checkups.
  • Installing systems that improve the air quality in your home.
  • Cleaning the air ducts.
  • Cleaning the coils.
  • Balancing the airflow.
  • Verifying that you have an accurate, digital, programmable thermostat.

B&L Ott will also help verify that all of these tools and systems are being used properly. We can teach you how your system works by addressing any concerns and answering any questions you may have.

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How to Assess an Existing HVAC System

There are a lot of important questions that come with moving into a new home. There are also dozens of aspects you need to ensure are in order so your family can adjust. You want them to be happy and relaxed. The best way to keep them comfortable is to make sure the HVAC system is functioning properly.

When you move into a previously owned home, you may have no idea what condition the HVAC system was left in. It is important to assess the system and make any necessary repairs. If you don’t know where to start, B&L Ott is here to help!

What Should I Be Concerned About?

There are many reasons to get your system inspected, cleaned, and repaired by B&L Ott. You will want to make sure that your family is healthy, your system is healthy, and your bills are reasonable.

Family Health

Does anyone in your family have allergies, asthma, or respiratory problems? If so, you will want to make sure the air is clean. If the previous owners had pets, there could be pet dander or hair in your air ducts. B&L Ott can help you clean the air to make it healthier for your family to breath.

You will also want to be concerned about humidity. Berks County summers bring high humidity that can make the air feel sticky. On the other hand, winter air can dry out your skin. B&L Ott offers various systems that can help you improve your family’s health and comfort.

HVAC Heath

HVAC systems are a big investment. You want to make sure they stay as healthy as possible for as long as possible. One question you will want to ask yourself is: When was preventative maintenance last performed? If your new home was on the market for a while before you moved in, the HVAC system may have been neglected. B&L Ott’s biannual maintenance can help ensure your system is running at full efficiency. This will help keep your energy bills low and your family’s carbon footprint small.

How Do I Start Assessing the System?

Before calling B&L Ott there are a few ways to start assessing your HVAC system.

  • Even Heating – Walk through your new home to see if there are spots that are warmer or cooler than others.
  • Accurate Thermostat – Test out your thermostat and make sure that the reading is no more than a few degrees off from the actual room temperature.
  • Check for Obvious Problems – Look for loose electrical connections, leaks, or rust. Listen for strange sounds and check for strange odors.

If you notice any of these problems, be sure to let the B&L Ott technician know during their visit.

Avoid Tinkering With Your HVAC Yourself

You can’t stop the previous homeowners from tampering with the system. However, you can help ensure the HVAC system the best it can for the rest of its life by contacting B&L Ott for regular maintenance. While there are some simple aspects you can check to determine if you need any repairs, you should avoid tinkering with the system yourself. Trying to repair or clean your HVAC system yourself can cost you more down the line.

Reasons to Avoid Working on Your HVAC System Yourself

  • You can make problems worse.
  • You may decrease system efficiency.
  • You may decrease your HVAC system’s lifespan.
  • It can be dangerous.
  • You may void the warranty.

routine hvac maintenanceHow Can B&L Ott Help?

When you call B&L Ott for maintenance, we will clean your system, perform a diagnostic evaluation, provide maintenance if necessary, and give you a report of our findings. We will get rid of the dirt, dust, pollen, and bacteria in your system that the previous owners may have left behind. We will also help ensure that your HVAC system will run efficiently for your family.

If we find any problems we will consult you before making repairs. We will also make suggestions, based on your input, to help customize the system to your family’s needs.

What Happens If I Need a New System?

After assessing the HVAC system, if we find that the system is nearing the end of its life, we can help you plan for installing a new system. B&L Ott’s System Replacement Planning service will help you find a model within your budget that will work well in your home. B&L Ott will also help ensure that your new HVAC system is installed properly. This will help decrease the number of future repairs and ensure that your system runs efficiently for many years.

You may not have expected to have to replace your HVAC system when choosing your new home, but B&L Ott will try to make the process as simple and stress-free as possible. You can also use this situation this as an opportunity to better customize your system to suit your family’s lifestyle. There are plenty of new options on the market that make controlling the air in your home easier than ever before.

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B&L Ott’s Guide to Temperature and Temperature Control Systems

When you have control over your environment, you have the power to keep your family comfortable no matter what the conditions are outside. A quality HVAC system and temperature control system can give you this power. There are many options on the market today that provide you with even more options. With this in mind, you may have many questions. B&L Ott is here to help with this guide to choosing the right temperature and temperature control system for your home.

Why is Choosing the Right Temperature Important?

Comfort should be your primary concern. You want your family to be healthy and sleep soundly. After that, your main concern should be the efficiency and capability of your HVAC system. A system that is not operating properly will not adequately remove temperature or dehumidify the home. When this happens, your home will either get hot and sticky like a sauna or cold and clammy like your basement. Either situation can leave you or a family member saying, “I don’t like air conditioning.”

However, if you keep your thermostat within B&L Ott’s recommended temperature range, you can help keep your system operating properly. It will control both the humidity and the temperature in your home so your family can be comfortable.

Choosing an Appropriate Temperature

Your HVAC system is like a television. You usually keep it around the same volume, but sometimes you turn it up or down for various reasons. In Berks County, the temperature can change pretty quickly from day to day. One day you may be in shorts and the next you will need a sweatshirt to stay warm. With this in mind, your desired temperature may change from day to day. However, in winter most people are comfortable between 68-72 degrees with a relative humidity of around 30-35%. Then in summer, many choose a temperature between 70-75 degrees with a relative humidity around 50%.

If it’s a hot summer day with high humidity, you will typically lower the temperature in your home. Alternatively, if you have a system that enables dehumidification (contact B&L Ott for more info), you can just set your desired humidity level instead. This way you can feel comfortable without having to lower the temperature of the home. B&L Ott offers a variety of other solutions for customizing your system to suit your individual needs.

B&L Ott Temperature Control Options

If you want to gain more control of the temperature and humidity in your home, B&L Ott offers several different comfort control options. Depending on what HVAC model you choose B&L Ott will install a comfort control system that functions seamlessly with your system.

Programmable Thermostats

One option that can give you more control over the temperature in your home is a programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat gives you greater customization of your home’s comfort. You can create a schedule based on your family’s daily routine and rarely have to adjust the temperature ever again. You can set a specific temperature and humidity level for each time of day. Newer models have an even greater sensitivity to temperature changes and humidity levels. They can help you maintain a more accurate temperature in the house.

Trane’s XL line of thermostats are all fully programmable and can be controlled with a free app on Android or IOS mobile phone operating systems. This will give you peace of mind while you are away from home, as you will gain the ability to control your home’s temperature remotely. Additionally, you can pair an Amazon Echo (Alexa) to control the temperature by voice. Just imagine lying in bed and simply saying “Alexa, turn the temperature down”. Before you know it your room will reach your ideal temperature without you having to lift a finger.

Home Zoning

Home zoning is another option that gives you more control over specific areas in your home. It is a system that uses additional thermostats and automatic power dampers in the ductwork to send conditioned air to only certain parts of the home. It is a great solution if you notice any uneven heating throughout your home. It can also help in the summertime when the heat rises to the second floor and makes it much hotter than your first floor. A home zoning system will improve the air flow and even out the temperature difference in your home.

B&L Ott offers several different zoning options. Depending on what type of system and duct setup you have, B&L Ott can customize a zoning solution for your home. If we have access to your ductwork, we can install zone dampers in the duct. The thermostats will control which zone dampers open or close. If you are interested in a home zoning system or have any questions please contact B&L Ott.

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Why Does My System Need Maintenance Even Though It Is New?

So, you just got a new HVAC system installed by B&L Ott. Everything is brand new and in working order. So you don’t need to pay any attention to it for a while, right? Not exactly. This is a question our B&L Ott technicians receive quite frequently. While it is unlikely that you will run into any major problems right away, maintenance is still important. When you schedule a maintenance visit with B&L Ott, we don’t just fix existing problems; we help prevent future problems from occurring.

When Should I Start Scheduling Maintenance?

Your system should start receiving preventive maintenance within the first year of installation. Like your car, your HVAC system needs to be inspected, cleaned and maintained regularly. When you neglect to change the oil in your car, the oil becomes contaminated and its ability to properly lubricate the internal parts is reduced. If neglected long enough, the engine will eventually fail. HVAC systems are very similar. Without preventive maintenance from B&L Ott, you can experience mechanical failures, reduced capacity, reduced efficiency, reduced comfort and reduced lifespan.

Systems should have maintenance performed twice a year regardless of their age. This includes once during the heating season and once during the cooling season. During the heating maintenance, the system will be cleaned and checked to ensure it is operating at the highest efficiency as possible. Then, during the air conditioning maintenance, the outdoor condenser coil will be washed and cleaned.

Why Is Maintenance Important So Soon?

Cleaning is one of the most important aspects of a new air-conditioning system’s maintenance. Small critters and other elements tend to push contaminants like pollen, grass, dirt, dust, twigs and leaves into your outdoor condenser. These contaminants clog your system, reduce efficiency, and affect its ability to function properly. B&L Ott’s maintenance program will make sure your system operates at the highest efficiency on a yearly basis. It can prolong its life as well was keep your energy bills and need for repairs low.

Preventive maintenance is also a requirement from every manufacturer to uphold the warranty. All systems need maintenance to stay at their peak efficiency and to operate properly. Every brand name system comes with some kind of warranty. All manufacturers require maintenance be performed in order to keep that warranty intact.

What Happens If I Neglect Maintenance?

Maintenance during the first year isn’t just for cleaning. Even a brand new system can encounter problems or challenges. You might not see these problems right away, but they are developing. Dirty coils will create expensive repairs in the future.

Also, replacing an HVAC system is not like replacing a refrigerator or microwave. You don’t just plug it in and have everything operate how it did before. New technology allows HVAC systems to be more customizable to fit the needs of your Berks County home. This means that many changes can take place in how your home is conditioned. For instance, if you have forced-air, your duct system might not be perfect or might have different airflow needs. Your new system may need some adaptations to ensure your family is comfortable.

B&L Ott Makes Sure Your System Is Operating To Your Liking

One of the many differences between B&L Ott and other HVAC companies is our emphasis on customization and perfection. When we install your system, we adjust the operation to fit your needs. Our comfort consultants perform a needs analysis during your initial consultation. Using your feedback, we make adjustments to the newly installed system to make you as comfortable as possible.

We then schedule a follow up within 1-2 weeks of the installation. This enables you to test the new system and determine if there are any additional comfort concerns you would like addressed. Some adjustments include air balancing, humidification, dehumidification, filtration, scheduling, air velocity, on/off cycling, thermostat operation, etc. In short, your new system will operate much differently than your old system. It is important to maintain the new equipment so that the changes we made during the installation continue to provide you with comfort.

Preventing Problems

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” -Benjamin Franklin.

There are two main ways you can help prevent system failures and reduced efficiency. The first is to have B&L Ott install your system so everything is set up properly from the beginning. We come back about a week after the install and check everything again. The second is to enroll in our automatic preventive maintenance program. This helps catch small issues before they turn into costly repairs. It also ensures that your system keeps achieving the high-efficiency standard it is rated at.

B&L Ott’s Preventive Maintenance Program

By signing up for our preventive maintenance program you will receive two maintenance visits each year, one for the heating system and one for the air conditioning system. You can opt for the automatic renewal so you never have to worry about remembering. At the conclusion of each visit, the B&L Ott technician will schedule your next visit. It is important to always schedule your next visit at this time because we are always scheduling maintenance visits 6 months in advance. You can learn more about B&L Ott’s maintenance program here: http://otthvac.com/hvac-routine-maintenance/.

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HVAC Tips for Homes with Pets

Adopting a pet changes your life. They create memories with you, fill your heart with joy, and become part of your family. You would do anything to protect your furry friend from harm and keep them happy. However, you also need to protect your home from pets with a mischievous nature. If you have a pet in your home, your HVAC system needs some extra attention to keep it running efficiently. Check out these useful B&L Ott tips to protect both your pet and your HVAC system!

Guarding Your HVAC System

Some pets have a tendency to chew on different HVAC components or use the outdoor unit as a fire hydrant. These issues can cause the outdoor coil to leak and lose refrigerant. Then your system will not be able to operate properly. You may end up needing costly repairs or even a system replacement. Contact B&L Ott in Berks County if you are experiencing any problems with your system.

Trane protects their outdoor unit with a special sloped coil guard. This guards your system against acidic urine. However, you should still take precautions to protect your system. The best way to protect your system is to keep your pets away from the unit. Fencing can also help you guard your outdoor unit.  You should talk to a B&L Ott specialist before installing a fence, though, as it can reduce airflow and damage your system.

Pet Hair

The inside of your HVAC system also needs attention. Pet hair and debris can cause internal damage without proper maintenance. It can clog standard filters as well as the indoor coil. This reduces the airflow and leads to decreased efficiency, performance, and reliability. B&L Ott recommends getting a high-efficiency air cleaner installed on your system. This will help trap pet hair before it enters your system. If you have any pet odors in your home, you may also want to talk to B&L Ott about installing the Trane Clean Effects or and Air Scrubber.

Filters

Filtration is crucial when we have pets. Not only do your pets shed hair and create pet dander, but they track in outside dirt and germs. Even short-haired pet’s fur will get pulled into your system. Changing your filter allows your system to breath. When the filter gets clogged, your system’s efficiency, air flow, and efficiency all decline. This also shortens the longevity of your system, costing you more in the long run.

When you have pets in your home, it is crucial to change your filter routinely. A standard 1” filter should be changed monthly; ignore any markings on the filter packaging that tell you otherwise. A 1″ filters should cost less than $10 per piece and are an absolutely critical component for your HVAC system’s performance. Despite what the packaging says, 1” filters do little to clean the air in your home. They are actually the bare minimum needed to keep your system operational. They are not helping the air quality in your home, though. Most models only stop the larger particles.

Get a Cleaner Home

When you have pets in your home, you may want some extra help keeping the air in your home clean. Below are some extra ways you can improve the air quality in your home and keep your HVAC system running efficiently. Contact B&L Ott to learn more.

Media Filter

A media filter is 5″ thick instead of 1″. It is 20 times more effective at cleaning the air. Instead of replacing the filter every 30 days, B&L Ott will check the filter every 6 months during preventive maintenance visits. A media filter typically requires replacement every 6-12 months. However, if you have multiple pets or pets with long hair, it may need to be changed 2-4 times per year.

Electronic Air Cleaner

An electronic air cleaner, like the Trane CleanEffects, will capture 99.98% of the particles in the air down to 0.1 microns in size. Be wary of a trick that many air filter manufacturers use. They say “99.9% efficient”, but may only be talking about large contaminants. They only tell you half of the story. Smaller contaminants may easily pass through their filter. A Trane CleanEffects will capture microscopic particles, 1/20 millionth the size of the period at the end of this sentence. It will capture dust, pollen, the flu virus, smoke, pet dander, odors, and more. This type of filter requires quarterly cleaning, performed by B&L Ott.

Air Purification vs. Air Filtration

indoor air cleanersAir filters do exactly what the name implies – they filter particles from the air that pass through the filter. But what about the air and particles that never make it to the filter? To really purify the air, you need an air purifier like the Air Scrubber. This device was originally developed for NASA to use on the International Space Station.

It uses specialized germicidal UV light waves along with a proprietary catalytic process to create enviro-scrubbing molecules of oxygen and hydrogen; just like nature’s outdoor scrubbers. This helps reach the air and particles that are not pulled through your HVAC system. It works 24/7 to reduce airborne and surface contaminants in your home. An Air Scrubber sends scrubbers into your home to reduce contaminants on surfaces as well as airborne pollutants. It is also highly effective on gasses, vapors, VOCs, and odors.

B&L Ott’s Preventative Maintenance Service

B&L Ott’s preventive maintenance service can make cleaning your home and HVAC system easy. All B&L Ott’s filtration options (other than 1″ filters) can make cleaning and maintenance easy for our customers because B&L Ott does everything for you. It’s that simple. A skilled technician can install a media filter, electronic air cleaner and/or an air purifier in just a few hours. If you sign up for our maintenance agreement, we will let you know when you are due for maintenance, schedule the appointment with you, and perform all necessary maintenance.

Better filtration can provide both long-term and short-term benefits. In the long run, you will keep your system running efficiently so your system lasts longer. Short-term, you will experience better system operation and cleaner air for your family and pets.

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B&L Ott’s Guide to Condenser Coils

How much do you know about your air conditioner and how it works? When it comes to your HVAC system, it is important to know the basics. Understanding how your system works allows you to take better care of it. To learn how your entire system works, it is best to start with understanding what each part and its function. In this B&L Ott guide, you can learn how to identify and care for the condenser coil. With the right maintenance, your system will last longer and save you money.

The Basics

A condenser coil is a part of the refrigeration system inside your air conditioner. It aids in transferring and exchanging heat in your home. It is filled with a substance called refrigerant that circulates through both an indoor and outdoor coil.

The refrigerant is cool when it is sent inside your home. The indoor fan blows the air in your home across the indoor coil. During this process, the refrigerant absorbs the heat. Then it is transported back outside. This leaves the air in your home cooler. Once outside, a fan blows air across the coil and a compressor changes the pressure of the refrigerant. This helps dissipate the heat and cool the refrigerant.

It might sound bizarre, but this process can still cool your home, even when Berks County summer hit 100 degrees. The key is the refrigerant which can operate at different temperatures and pressures. It can still dissipate heat when the temperature outside is much hotter than the temperature inside.

Location

The condenser coil is located in the outside unit where your compressor is. It looks very similar to the radiator in your car. However, it may look a little different if you get a Trane all-aluminum spine fin coils. Basically, these coils look like a tube with a bunch of little fingers coming off of them. This design allows the coils to operate at a higher efficiency than most other coils.

B&L Ott Recommendations

B&L Ott uses Trane systems that have protected coils. This way, the outdoor placement of your unit is not as critical. However, we do recommend installing the outdoor unit away from trees and falling debris. If too many leaves, pollen, dirt, or dust fall into your unit, it can clog the coils and prevent proper ventilation. In fall, B&L Ott also recommends covering your outdoor unit with a Trane-specific condenser cover. These covers keep dirt and debris out but still allow air to circulate inside the unit.

Trane specific units use a powder coated cabinet to house the condenser coil. These cabinets are like no other in the industry. They greatly resist rust and corrosion to keep the condenser coil well protected, without starving the system for air. Remember, there should not be anything on these units during the cooling season.

Maintenance

The only maintenance required for outdoor condenser coils is a yearly cleaning. Cleaning removes all the debris from your unit so it can work at the highest possible efficiency. A well-maintained, efficient unit will save both energy and money. On the other hand, a neglected system may experience improper refrigerant pressures, efficiency issues, or premature failure of key system components. Give B&L Ott a call for all your heating and air conditioning needs.

You should not try to clean the coil yourself. Not only is cleaning it yourself dangerous because of high-voltage, but you could also damage your unit. You have to be careful about which company you choose to clean your unit as well. Some other companies may not use the correct cleaners or may not remove all the dirt from your unit. This can damage your unit and cost you more. Calling B&L Ott is the best way to ensure that your system is cleaned and maintained properly.

What to Expect from B&L Ott

On average, air conditioners last about 8-12 years. However, most well-maintained Trane models installed by B&L Ott can see an average of 15+ years. If your coil fails, it is probably time for a new system. An evaluation by B&L Ott will help you determine the best course of action. Proper maintenance is the key to ensuring you get the most from your coil and unit.

All of B&L Ott’s technicians have gone through specific training for this type of service. To clean the unit properly, we use a foaming degreaser to loosen the dirt first, then wash away the dirt with a hose. This is a process that is proven to work and takes about an hour. Our goal is to keep your HVAC system clean and running efficiently so your family can live comfortably.

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B&L Ott’s Guide to Indoor Humidity

Everyone wants their home to be comfortable. It allows for better relaxation and a happier atmosphere. There are three main factors that contribute to indoor comfort. These are temperature, cleanliness, and humidity. Knowing about your home’s humidity is important. Humidity affects almost everything, including your family, pets, plants, and furniture. If you need help understanding your home’s humidity, check out B&L Ott’s guide for indoor humidity. If you have any additional questions, feel free to contact us through our website or call us at 610-816-6026.

Effects of Low Humidity

Lack of Comfort

When your home’s humidity is too low, you may notice a variety of side effects. Even if your thermostat is set between 68-72 degrees, you may feel like your home just isn’t warm. Your family may experience problems with dry skin, dry hair, or static. The ideal indoor winter environment has a humidity between 30%-40%. This level will allow more comfort and help keep your family healthy.

Dry Skin

During winter in Berks County, the air outside can steal the moisture from the air in your home. The air can also steal moisture from your body, usually from the skin. Moisture evaporates off of your skin and makes you feel cold. Our bodies are approximately 60% water so maintaining moisture in your body is important.

Colds

The air will also steal moisture from your mouth and sinus passages. This causes them to dry out and crack. Your lips dry out and get chapped. Your eyes and nose also get dry and itchy. The cracks allow germs to pass through and you end up getting a cold. This is one reason why it is more common to get sick in the winter.

Effects of High Humidity

Lack of Comfort

When summer hits the Leesport area, the humidity is high. Conversely to winter, the drier air in your home will steal the moisture from outside. This makes the air in your home feel sticky and clammy. Even if you have an air conditioner, it may not be dehumidifying properly. Your house may be reaching your desired temperature, but your home can still be uncomfortable due to excess humidity. If you don’t have an air conditioner or your system is not functioning properly, it can be uncomfortably warm and humid in your house.

Dehumidifying Your Home

B&L Ott can help you fix the problems of high humidity by air conditioning the home; cooling AND dehumidifying. We can install a whole-home humidifier. An upgraded thermostat will also provide more control over the humidity in your home. If you are using a dehumidifier in your basement, you should talk to us about a whole-home dehumidifier. A portable dehumidifier is not the answer, and it wastes a tremendous amount of energy.

How Humidity Affects Your Property

Humidity also affects the items in your home. Wood is highly sensitive to humidity. If you have wooden furniture, lack of humidity can cause the wood to shrink and crack. Conversely, excess humidity can cause wood to swell and expand. Your wood floors and cabinets may also buckle and warp. Musical instruments are greatly affected by moisture levels.

Your windows and doors may also begin to stick and become difficult to open. Too much moisture can cause rotting. Too little can cause windows to shrink and lose their effectiveness and efficiency. Having B&L Ott help you control the humidity levels in your home is the best way to keep your property in good condition. A new humidifier is much cheaper than having to replace your floors, doors, windows, and furniture.

What Models Does B&L Ott Recommend?

If you think you need a humidifier, talk to a trained B&L Ott comfort consultant. We can make the appropriate recommendations for your home and family. All of our systems are simple to use. One of our technicians will teach you everything you need to know. We will show you how to set the humidity and how to properly maintain your humidifier.

B&L Ott also recommends installing a professional-grade humidifier rather than a “homeowner version” found at a lower price in a big box store. These humidifiers may be cheaper, but they also have a greater failure rate. They also do not provide an accurate method of measuring and controlling humidity.

Getting a New Humidifier Installed by B&L Ott

The number one problem we see with humidifiers is homes that don’t have one and need one. The number two problem we see is bad installation practices. Even if you have a quality humidifier, if it is not installed properly, you may still experience problems.

Let B&L Ott help. A 30-minute conversation with one of our comfort specialists can provide you with the education you need to make an informed decision. We have all of the tools, training, and experience necessary to properly install this important device. You will receive a warranty, peace-of-mind, and a properly functioning humidifier.

Our options start at $840 for a basic model and installation typically takes 2-4 hours. You can rest assured that your new humidifier will be placed on the appropriate part of the system and tested to ensure proper operation. If you would like to schedule a consultation, you can do so here: http://otthvac.com/contact-us/. You can also call 610-816-6026.

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Repair vs. Replace

Choosing between repairing and replacing your HVAC system can be a difficult task. There are many aspects to consider. You may not know how much life your current system has left. Then you have to calculate and compare costs before making a decision. You may not have all of the tools or time to figure everything else. Don’t worry, though, because B&L Ott is here to help!

Below are some common questions and answers that can help you make a decision. If you live in the Berks County area, you should schedule an appointment with us. We will send a trained technician to inspect your system, explain the situation, and answer any questions you may have.

Signs Your HVAC System Needs a Repair

The best way to know if your HVAC system needs to be repaired is to sign up for B&L OTT’s exclusive preventative maintenance program. Our technicians will be able to easily show you, explain, and make repairs that need to be made. However, there are some problem signs you can look out for on your own. These include:

  • Holes in the ductwork.
  • Unusually high utility bills.
  • Your system is not working at all.
  • Your system is making loud or strange noises.
  • You can see dirt buildup on your outdoor condenser coil.

All these issues can signal decreased efficiency which may be costing you with your energy bills. B&L OTT’s exclusive preventative maintenance program is one of the best ways to ensure that your HVAC is clean and running efficiently.

Signs Your HVAC System Needs to Be Replaced

There are many factors that signal that your HVAC system should be replaced rather than repaired. The most common one is age. If it is only a few years old, you will likely want to repair it. On the other hand, systems that are 8-10 years old are nearing the end of their life and should be replaced instead.

You will also want to compare costs. If you have to make a costly repair of 500-1000 dollars, we recommend saving that money and investing it into a more comfortable reliable system. Other problems that signal replacement include needing many repairs and the physical appearance. If you notice rust, corrosion, or deterioration, you may want to consider replacement.

Typical Lifespan

The typical HVAC system lasts 8-10 years. However, this is directly proportional to how well the system has been maintained. If you take good care of your system and it is a quality system, it may last longer. On the other hand, neglected HVAC systems may only last 5-7 years.

An HVAC system is like a car; it needs proper care if you want it to last. If you think about it, your system runs year round, constantly turning on and off. This process causes wear and tear to the parts over time. Environmental elements make an even bigger impact and add to the deterioration of your system.

Run-time can also affect your HVAC. During Berks County’s hot summers, you may be putting extra stress on the compressor and outdoor fan motor. To help keep your system running efficiently, give your system a break from time to time and contact B&L Ott for regular maintenance.

Deciding to Repair or Replace

B&L Ott can help arm you with the information to need to decide whether you should repair or replace. We can help you compare the costs of repairing vs. replacing. If the costs of repairs are more than 25%-35% of the cost of a new system, you have to ask yourself is it worth it to replace. A comfort specialist can help you look at what savings you can realize from replacing the system.

Not every repair automatically signals a need for replacement. Not every consultation results in a recommendation of replacing the system instead of repairing. B&L Ott’s goal is to educate and empower you to choose what works best for you.

We take many factors into account when helping you with a recommendation. This includes how long you intend to remain in your home, your budget, what financing options are available, and the true costs. We estimate the annual cost of ownership and give you the facts. In the end, it is your decision to make.

Benefits of Installing a New HVAC System

If you end up replacing your system, you can look forward to a variety of benefits. The first benefit is being able to customize your new system to your home and family’s needs. You can correct comfort issues and add the latest technology. Your new system will be quieter, more comfortable, more efficient, and more reliable.

To ensure that your new system will work to its full potential, you will need to make sure that it is installed properly. According to a study by the North Carolina Alternative Energy Institute, 93% of all systems are installed improperly. Having a new system installed by B&L Ott guarantees that your system will be installed properly. We will correct the comfort and efficiency robbing errors of the previous installation.

Choosing a New System

When it comes to choosing your new system B&L Ott believes in delivering the customer the best choice based on their needs. A comfort consultant will provide literature and explain each system’s benefits and function. They will also ask you a variety of questions to help customize your new system to your home. You will be asked about your needs and priorities. Then we will evaluate the potential energy savings and comfort improvements. Then we will make model recommendations.

We will sit together and add or remove components to provide you with the system you want. We will help make sure the solutions you need are within a budget you are comfortable with. A system installed by B&L Ott can last 15 years or more – often double the average life of systems installed by other companies. We won’t give you booklets and tell you “here are 3 options”. We will sit with you and together we will customize a solution to your family’s needs.

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What to Expect When You Schedule B&L Ott’s Duct Cleaning Service

When was the last time you had your air ducts cleaned? If you have noticed excess dust or poor indoor air quality in your home, your ventilation system may be the culprit. The air in your home is circulated through your air ducts daily.

If your air ducts are dirty, the air blowing through will push the dust into your home. This is why it is important to change your filter regularly and get your air ducts cleaned every 2 years. However, if a high-efficiency air filtration system is installed, they can be cleaned every 5 years.

B&L Ott highly recommends having a high-efficiency air filtration system installed.  If you have your ducts cleaned and you don’t have a media air cleaner or electronic air cleaner, your ducts will immediately get dirty again. Contact B&L Ott to learn more about keeping your air clean and your HVAC system running efficiently.

Why Should I Get My Air Ducts Cleaned?

Cleaning your air ducts can bring a variety of benefits. First and foremost, it will help ensure that the air you and your family are breathing is clean. If anyone in your family has asthma, allergies, or respiratory problems, dirty air can cause sneezing or breathing issues. Pets or smoking can make these problems worse.

Another benefit is increased efficiency. Dirt and dust block the air from moving through the ducts. This causes your HVAC system to work harder and costs you more. By having your ducts cleaned by B&L Ott, you can experience better efficiency and lower energy bills.

Preparing for Our Service

Any time of the year is a good time to get your air ducts cleaned. You can choose a time that works best for you. Be sure you have time to take care of a few tasks you should take care of before we arrive, though.

If there are boxes or other equipment near your HVAC unit, be sure to clear the area. This way, the B&L Ott technician can access your system to inspect and clean it. However, furniture that is on vents should be left where it is. This will allow us to diagnose any airflow issues that are caused by the furniture. If there is an issue we can then make suggestions to improve the airflow in your home. Pets and kids can be kept wherever is comfortable for you.

Cleaning Your Ducts

B&L Ott uses a special high-efficiency vacuum with a rotating brush head to clean the ducts. We control this machine remotely as the hose and brush go through the ductwork. Together they clear out almost all the debris. We start with the branch ducts first and push the dirt into the main line. Then move to the main supply ducts. The dirt is then stored in our machine so that it will not be recirculated through your house. Finally, B&L Ott will supply you with before and after pictures of the ductwork.

We also use a machine to fog your ducts with an antimicrobial cleaner.  This will kill contaminants in your ducts that cannot be removed from cleaning alone.  We will clean the grilles, registers, and diffusers with a degreasing agent as well.

How Long Will It Take?

For an average-size Berks County home, the process will take approximately 4 hours. Larger homes with multiple systems will take longer as there is more to clean. B&L Ott prefers that the homeowner stays there the whole time. This way, if we come across any problems, we can make sure you are aware of it right away and fix the problem for you. This also allows you to see what goes into the duct cleaning process.

Fixing Problems

B&L Ott’s service can also help you find problems that are affecting the efficiency of your HVAC system. If we find mold, rodents, excess dust, unnecessary penetrations, or failed duct work we can address these issues right away. We will provide you with the best recommendations to fix each issue.

Why Choose B&L Ott?

There are many aspects to consider when choosing a company to clean your air ducts. One feature you should look for is the consideration for your home and family. B&L Ott technicians will treat your house as if it is their own. We take extra precautions to make sure your floors, walls, and ceilings are protected. We will leave your house as we found it, except you will have cleaner air ducts.

Another aspect you should look for is what is included in the service. B&L Ott will be sure to be thorough with our work. We will remove each individual grille from the ceiling or wall and clean it with 409 or another cleaner. This will remove any bacteria, mold, or dust from the registers.

A shop vac can only reach about 40% of your ductwork. B&L Ott uses a specially-designed machine to help us clean every square inch of your ducts. We will leave you with a before-and-after picture of your ducts and recommendations to keep them cleaner. By following these tips you can improve your HVAC system’s efficiency, save money, and increase the time span between cleanings.

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Furnace Warning Signs

Take a minute to think about what it would be like to spend a winter day in Berks County without heat. Your family would have to wear many layers and bundle up in blankets just to keep warm. Luckily, you will never have to know a full day without heat thanks to B&L Ott’s emergency repair service. Yet, if you regularly inspect your furnace, you can catch a failing system before it is too late. Watch for these warning signs and be sure to take care of them as soon as possible.

Pilot LightYellow Pilot Light

Typically the pilot light on your furnace should be blue. A yellow pilot light can signal a variety of problems. The most common fix for a yellow pilot light is a good cleaning. As the pilot burns, it creates deposits on the pilot. If too much ash builds up, it begins to cause problems. These deposits should be cleaned off every year to ensure proper operation.

If you notice a yellow pilot flame, you should call B&L Ott to set up a cleaning. B&L Ott will clean the furnace/pilot to ensure proper operation.

Skyrocketing Energy Bills

If your energy bills have been on the rise, but you haven’t been using more energy than usual, your HVAC system may be having efficiency issues. Higher energy bills could mean a number of things. If something is causing problems within your system, your unit will have to work harder and longer to reach your desired temperature. This causes your system to use more energy and costs you more.

High energy bills can occur for many reasons, but the most common reason is old age. The best solution is to call B&L Ott for a diagnosis. One of our trained technicians will inspect your furnace and find the issue. If the problem can be fixed, we will repair it for you. If not, we will help you choose and install a replacement.

Loud Noises

If you hear strange noises coming from your furnace, there could be a variety of problems. Scraping sounds may mean that there is something wrong with the blower or motor mount. Banging or popping sounds typically signal a dirty furnace blower or expanding air ducts. Squealing or whining sounds can be caused by problems with the blower belt, shaft bearings, or blower motor.

The best way to ensure that your system gets properly diagnosed and fixed is to schedule an appointment with B&L Ott. Our technicians are trained to find even the smallest of details that could mean trouble. Be sure to get your furnace inspected before it’s too late!

Strange Smells

Bacteria buildup may be your problem if you notice a strange smell coming from your furnace. It can build up on the inside or outside of your unit. This problem typically occurs when the system has not been cleaned often enough. You may also notice this problem if you do not have the proper air filtration in place to destroy the bacteria. B&L Ott can help you properly clean your system and install the right air filtration system.

Unstable Thermostat Readings

Does the temperature in your home match the temperature on your thermostat? If not, your thermostat may be malfunctioning. This issue can occur if your thermostat was not installed properly or if your system is getting old. A certified technician from B&L Ott has to knowledge and skills to find the cause of the problem and fix your thermostat.

Frequent Repairs

Another sign that your HVAC system is nearing the end of its life is needing frequent repairs. This problem can also be caused by lack of maintenance. The parts deteriorate after a while and your system becomes less reliable. Talk to a B&L Ott technician to help you decide if you should fix or replace your system. If your system is failing, consider our system replacement planning service.

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