Posts by OttHVAC

Lower Your Home’s Humidity

trane heat pump unitSummer is here! As the weather warms up and we have more rain in PA, the humidity outside can skyrocket; but the humidity inside your home can increase, too. This increased indoor humidity can make your home feel hotter and, in addition to making you feel uncomfortable, can also lead to mold and mildew building up, your home’s wood swelling and cracking (that’s what happens when your doors get stuck), and many other things that can lead to health issues and costly solutions.

Luckily you can take the following steps to lower your indoor humidity.

  1. Set your thermostat to maintain ideal temperatures. You want your house cool when you’re home and inside, but you don’t want to go far below the recommended low temperature. You also want to make sure you increase the indoor air temperature when you’re not home or when you are sleeping and don’t need it as cool. Why do you want your house temperature to be just right and not too cool? In addition to easing the strain on your HVAC system and ensuring it survives the summer, relative humidity decreases as the temperature increases because warm air holds more moisture. When relative humidity decreases, it doesn’t feel quite as hot. Some thermostats also come with settings to measure and control humidity.
  2. Make sure your AC system is clean. Having clean filters and proper drainage will make your AC system run more efficiently so you don’t have to crank the AC all the way up to enjoy a cool home. This will also help keep your cooling bills as low as possible.
  3. Increase air circulation and ventilation. Make sure you open vents and turn on exhaust fans when cooking or showering. Don’t forget to make sure your vents take the air outside rather than simply recirculating the air inside. If you can’t do this, then crack open a window. This will help remove the moisture these activities create and will help air circulate. Also, make sure you use fans to help circulate air from your AC throughout the house.
  4. Check for leaking pipes. Leaking pipes lead to water which leads to moisture in the air. Increased moisture in the air will increase humidity.
  5. Limit use of vaporizers or humidifiers. If you need to use vaporizers or humidifiers to purify the air, limit your use of them. When you don’t need them, make sure they are off. Limiting use of these appliances will reduce the amount of humidity released into the air.

Reach out to us if you want to learn more about reducing your in-home humidity!

 

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HVAC Tips for Allergy Sufferers

hvac pollenSpring is upon us and, while Berks County’s beauty is flourishing as nature blooms, many of us are beginning to suffer our dreaded spring allergies. The pollen count is getting higher with grass, ragweed, trees, and various other plants in bloom; damp and humid temperatures will soon give way to mold; and those cool spring and summer breezes blowing through the windows we all enjoy will circulate dust and other allergens around our homes. But spring doesn’t need to be bleak for allergy sufferers; just follow these HVAC maintenance tips to ease your allergies.

  1. Purchase high quality filters. Filters are your HVAC system’s way of defending you against allergens; filters keep allergens out so they won’t circulate through your home. You want to purchase high quality filters so they do their job properly.
  2. Change filters regularly. Filters trap dirt, pollen, dust, and other allergens. At some point, those filters must be changed so they can continue to trap allergens while still allowing air to circulate effectively. Filters should be changed every couple of months, with the exact amount of time dependent on your specific filter and HVAC system. If you see the filters are getting dirty before the regularly scheduled change, you may want to change them early.
  3. Your ducts may need cleaning. If your home hasn’t had regular HVAC maintenance or if you suspect there is mold or debris inside of your ducts, then you should have your ducts cleaned to remove allergens. This is a good tip to keep in mind before cranking up the heat again in the fall. Your ducts accumulate dust and other allergens all summer, so when you first turn your heating unit on those allergens will circulate throughout the house.
  4. Get rid of debris around units. Keep the area around your indoor and outdoor units clean and free of debris. Outdoor units pull air, and while the filter is there to catch the debris you don’t want to make the filter work harder if it doesn’t need to. Excessive debris will cause your filters to get dirtier faster, which means you will need to change your filters more frequently. Indoor units will circulate the air that is already inside of the house and any other allergens that are already inside of the house. If there is dust, dirt, or pet dander in front of your unit, those allergens will get circulated around the house when the unit blows the air.
  5. Don’t forget to dust. It’s common for people to forget to dust registers and return vents, but they can’t be overlooked because they circulate all of the air from the HVAC system. You don’t want registers and vents circulating allergens with the air.

What are some of your HVAC tips to help improve allergies?

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Keep your HVAC system alive this summer

Summer is fast approaching, and in order to beat the heat outside you want to keep your home nice and cool inside. But is your HVAC system ready for summer? The tips below will help keep your HVAC system alive and running through the summer heat and can even save you money.

  1. Make sure your HVAC system is regularly inspected and maintained. Doing this helps you treat normal wear and tear issues before they become major issues. You may also want to consider an energy audit as part of or in addition to regular maintenance.
  2. Check your insulation. Proper insulation will help keep a home cool when you run the air conditioning and warm when you run the heat. Even if your home is insulated, it may be time for an upgrade.
  3. Get a programmable thermostat…and program it. Setting your thermostat for optimal daytime and nighttime temperatures is a great way to save money on your HVAC bills and to give your system some much needed rest and relaxation when it doesn’t need to be working hard.
  4. Replace old air conditioning units with energy efficient units. Energy efficient units can save you money, and you may be eligible for tax breaks. It’s also better to be proactive about replacing old units than it is to be surprised when your unit breaks.
  5. Check your fuses and circuit breakers. You may have a brand new HVAC system, but it won’t do you any good if your home’s electrical system is in need of care and you are constantly blowing fuses.
  6. Don’t block your air conditioning unit. If your unit is inside the house, don’t block the flow of air or use it as a shelf. Blocking the flow of air means you won’t feel the air, and if that happens you will likely crank up the AC and make the unit work harder than it needs to work. If your unit is outside, don’t let grass, trees, or shrubs block it; this can cause the filters to clog and impair the unit’s ability to drain properly.
  7. Check your unit’s filters often. If the filters are clogged or dirty, clean or replace them as soon as possible. Filters are in place to help you maintain good indoor air quality, so you don’t want to let the impurities filtered out of your air sit around in your machine and get re-filtered through the house. Clean filters also help your unit run easier.
  8. Make sure your AC units are draining properly. Removing any debris that is built up around the drainage area, keeping grass around the unit trimmed and not planting vegetation close to the unit are ways to keep the drain area open and unclogged.
  9. Turn off lights and heat-producing appliances when possible. If you reduce the amount of heat being produced inside of your home, you won’t need to run the air conditioner so much.
  10. Use fans rather than your air conditioner. Fans, especially a ceiling fan, will circulate cool air and use much less electricity.

What are your tips and tricks for keeping your HVAC units alive this summer?

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Buying a home? Ask these HVAC questions.

Spring is practically here, and chances are if you’re planning to buy a new home this year you will soon start looking; however when you’re looking for your dream home, don’t forget to dream with your eyes opened. Purchasing a home is one of the biggest financial investments you will make in your lifetime, and there are many things you can do before you purchase a home to make sure your financial investment doesn’t suddenly become bigger than you anticipated; one of the most important things you can do is to get adequate information about your potential home’s HVAC system.

Top 5 questions you should always ask about a home’s HVAC system

  1. How old is the system? – While proper upkeep can extend the life of HVAC systems and units, most have a lifespan of 10-15 years and can cost thousands of dollars to replace.
  2. What type of system/units does the house have? – Does the home have central air and forced heat? Are there separate air conditioning and heating units? Each system/unit may require different upkeep and come with different expenses.
  3. May I see documentation from the last time this was serviced?You want to know when the system or units were last serviced as well as how regular service has been (for example, did the seller get the unit serviced just before putting the home on the market? Or has the seller engaged in regular upkeep and maintenance of the units?). You also want to know if the technician noticed any problems or potential problems, and whether or not these problems have been resolved.
  4. What are your average monthly heating/cooling costs?Utility costs are an important monthly expense to consider. In addition to telling you whether or not you can afford these costs, the monthly heating and cooling bill may be a clue to other home issues (i.e. insulation, system issues, etc.).
  5. Is there a warranty that transfers when ownership transfers? – You want to know if there is a warranty on your system, but also the stipulations of the warranty. Will the warranty transfer to a new owner? What does the warranty cover? If you are told there is a warranty, be sure to ask for documentation.

Other HVAC and HVAC-related issues to consider

  • Does the system work? – This may seem like a very simple question, but we often assume it works without trying it out. Don’t be afraid to turn on the unit and walk around the house so you can feel the difference in temperature and air or heat flow. Also, take note of any odd noises or smells you experience once the unit is turned on.
  • Does the unit look like it’s in good shape? – While this won’t tell the whole story about how the unit is functioning, you should be on the lookout for signs of water marks, rust, or decay.
  • Is the system/unit energy efficient? – Is the system/unit helping you maximize your heating and cooling capabilities while minimizing your costs and its environmental impact? Energy efficient HVAC systems may results in tax rebates or credits you can claim.
  • How big are the heating and cooling units? – You don’t want something that’s too big or too small for your home because neither situation will be financially beneficial to you.
  • How well insulated is the home? – While insulation isn’t part of your HVAC system, it potentially impacts your HVAC use. If there are areas of exposed drywall, look for insulation. Ask about whether or not certain rooms are cold despite having the heat on or are hot despite having the air on.
  • Are the windows and doors properly sealed? – Check to make sure no air can leak in around windows and doors. This may also lead you to question how old the windows are in the house. Older windows with older seals may let in more air than newer windows.

Don’t forget that your realtor and a home inspector are your best friends during the home-buying process. If you have questions about the HVAC system, aren’t sure of the answers to questions, or want something checked out for you, tell them and they will help you out.

Do you have any other HVAC tips for homebuyers to consider? If so, comment below!

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