Archives for Maintenance

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 Routine Maintenance Service: What to Expect

routine hvac maintenanceDoes your B&L Ott HVAC system need routine maintenance? Every home and its air system can benefit from regular upkeep. A thorough inspection will help you find small problems before they become expensive repairs. So, what can you expect when you schedule B&L Ott’s preventive maintenance service?

Cleaning

If dirt gets into the functional areas of your system, it can cause problems that decrease the efficiency of your machine. Decreased efficiency means higher energy bills. That is why B&L Ott starts by carefully removing harmful debris. Unlike other companies in the Berks County area, our service includes coil cleaning as a standard! The coil handles heat transfer and is crucial for maintaining an operational system.

Diagnostic Evaluation

We also perform a diagnostic evaluation to determine the health of your system. We will estimate the remaining life expectancy based on the condition and age of the parts. One of our technicians will also teach you how to optimize the use, comfort and efficiency of your system.  If your system is nearing the end of its life, they will also help you plan and budget for a replacement.

Our diagnostic evaluation helps ensure your family’s safety. During your appointment, B&L Ott performs a variety of tests (including a carbon monoxide test) to check for potential gas leaks.  The critical components of your HVAC system will also be inspected to verify that your heater is safe to use.

Maintenance

When it comes to maintaining an HVAC system, B&L Ott believes that there is a right way and a wrong way. Any inferior form of maintenance is completely ineffective. There are many different styles of “maintenance programs” out there. We make sure that our examination is thorough and honest.

We will test every component in your system down to the outdoor air conditioner coil. You won’t find an asterisk in our program. We take various measurements to verify that each part is operating inside of design parameters. Some measurements include amp draw, voltage, microfarads, megohms, airflow, temperatures, pressures, and sound. These tests help us pinpoint problems and determine which factors need attention.

Inspection Report

After performing tests and maintenance, we can predict potential future failures. We will discuss our findings with you. Then a B&L Ott technician will make professional recommendations to keep your system running efficiently. Be prepared to answer a few questions about HVAC usage. Examples include,

  • Are you comfortable in every room of your house?
  • Are you suffering from any allergies or breathing conditions?

These questions will help determine if your needs are being met by your current system. Our job is to provide you with your ideal indoor environment.

How Often Should I Schedule Preventive Maintenance?

Preventive Maintenance should be performed annually for all equipment. Typically customers will schedule an appointment in the spring/summer for their air conditioner. Then in fall/winter, they will request service for their heating system. You wouldn’t let your car go without oil changes, tire rotations, and brake replacements. Just like your car, your HVAC system needs regular cleaning and repairs.

Why Should I Schedule Maintenance?

B&L Ott’s service has a variety of benefits. There are no tricks, no clever wording designed to confuse. We provide the most comprehensive maintenance program for the price it costs to do the job right. We will help you effectively condition your home to keep your system running efficiently. This will reduce operating costs, prevent breakdowns, and extend the life expectancy of your system. It will also decrease the overall cost of ownership.

B&L Ott teamWhy Use B&L Ott?

We understand the importance of maintenance. Just like your HVAC system, we use a rigorous schedule to keep our equipment in top shape. Given that we provide an emergency service, our trucks must be reliable. With regular cleaning and servicing, our trucks range in age from 1-12 years old.  Each truck typically lasts 250,000 – 300,000 miles in its lifetime. That is with a giant service box on the back and thousands of pounds worth of tools in it. You wouldn’t want a company who constantly had brand new trucks. Yet, you also wouldn’t want a company with a broken down, unreliable truck.

We believe in taking care of our equipment so that our tools work when we need them most.  If we have a rigorous maintenance schedule for all of our equipment, what does that tell you about the importance of your HVAC’s preservation? Keep your B&L Ott system running by scheduling routine maintenance from B&L Ott today!

 

 

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Pests in Your HVAC System?

Nobody likes a pest. They invade your home, eat your food and sometimes destroy your belongings. This is why we have exterminators. One of the most inconvenient items they can damage is your HVAC system. When they do, you’re left with a lack of temperature control and costly repairs. Berks County’s B&L Ott can help you repair any HVAC damage caused by pests. B&L Ott also recommends preventing HVAC damage using the tips below.

Why Do Pests Invade My HVAC System?

mouse-1335602_960_720There are many reasons why pests invade your home and HVAC system. One of the likeliest reasons is that they are looking for a protected place to nest. This is why it is important to stop the problem sooner than later. If you don’t get help when it’s just a few, you could end up with a colony of pests in your home. They want their offspring to be safe and protected from predators. Your vents and home are usually a good place for this. It is too small for most predators to enter and has walls to protect them. It is also warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

Many pests are also attracted to the smell of the food you store in your home. If you are cooking, the smell of the food will blow through your vents and bring hungry rodents. It is important to properly care for your HVAC system. Inspect all the components regularly and contact B&L Ott if you have any concerns. Proper care can prevent detrimental problems.

What Kind of Damage Do Pests Do?

To move around and build nests, vermin will often chew through your HVAC system’s components. This can cause leaks which can cost you in repairs. The holes also allow energy to escape. When the energy escapes, warm or cool air can be lost. Then your HVAC system has to work harder to reach a comfortable temperature. This can raise your energy bill drastically. If you are interested in selling your home, HVAC damage can also decrease the value of your home.

Pests can also cause air quality dips. If a rodent dies in your air ducts, after some time they will begin to stink and the smell will be sent through your vents. Your home will begin to smell. If you think you need your vents to be cleaned, you can contact B&L Ott. Poor air quality can also cause health issues. Pests bring dander and allergens which can aggravate those with allergies or respiratory issues. Certain pests nesting in your outdoor unit may also aggressively defend their territory. Passersby may experience stings or bites.   ­

How Do I Prevent Pests?

Use these tips from B&L Ott to help prevent pests from getting into your HVAC system.

Seal Ducts and Make Sure Outdoor Grates are Secure

One of the first steps you will want to take is to look for holes or cracks.  You should look both in your units and where the components connect to the outside. Openings give easy access to bugs and rodents and invite them into your home. Even if the hole is only the size of a pencil, pests will still be able to squeeze through them. You should inspect your units and look for openings regularly. If you find any cracks, be sure to seal them and search for vermin that may have already gotten into your system.

Install Flue and Vent Covers

Other places where pests sneak into your home include exterior flues, intakes, and vents. These are openings that you shouldn’t seal off. If you did your B&L Ott HVAC system would not work properly. Rather than sealing them off, you can buy special covers help block bugs and rodents. These covers can also help keep water out of your vents. Make sure the cover is tight and secure. If it’s loose resourceful pests will still find their way in.

Protect Your Air Conditioning Condenser

trane heat pump unitYou will also want to protect your air conditioning condenser. Pests may chew the wiring, create leaks or clog the system with nesting. A damaged condenser will affect your HVAC system’s ability to cool your home. If you notice problems, you should contact B&L Ott as soon as possible. If left untreated, damage can lead to cause catastrophic compressor failure. To prevent these issues, clear the area of vegetation that attracts vermin. You can also clean the unit with warm water and mild soap.

Use Bug Repellents

Another solution is to spray bug repellents. It is one of the best ways to keep pests out of the area. Repellents can affect the air quality, though. If you spray chemicals near the system, the unit can intake the molecules and blow them into your home. If you have young children, you may not want them breathing in these chemicals. The best solution is to check your units often and eliminate stray bugs before they colonize.

What to Do

If you notice any pests, the first step you should take is to call an exterminator or pest removal expert. They will know the best way to eliminate or relocate the pests. Afterward, you can clean out your system. If you need any help, you should contact B&L Ott in Reading. One of our technicians can inspect your system for you and provide an estimate for maintenance or repairs.

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7 Ways to Prolong the Life of Your HVAC System

One of the best ways to save money on an HVAC system is to make sure it last to its full life expectancy. An HVAC system, like all machines, will break down if you don’t take care of it. Therefore, B&L Ott has compiled this list of tips to help you maintain your system. By completing these tasks, you can both improve your system’s efficiency and save money on your electric bill. If you need any help along the way, B&L Ott in Reading, Pennsylvania can help.air conditioner installation

Inspection and Regular Maintenance

The best way to protect your HVAC system is to inspect it regularly. Look for cracks, leaks, and damaged parts. Regular maintenance also ensures that small issues, don’t turn into big problems. B&L Ott recommends that you have your HVAC system serviced 1-2 times per year. Doing so will help ensure that you have heating and cooling when you need it.

Pre-season Maintenance

When you live in Berks County, summers are hot and winters are frigid. During the summer you turn off the heat and during the winter you turn off the air conditioning. When your air conditioning is turned off for long periods of time, it can grow mold or begin to deteriorate. Having your system inspected by a B&L Ott technician before each new season can help you avoid breakdowns when you need your system most.

Clean Vents

If you have a forced-air system, you have air vents running throughout your walls to transport air from one room to another. Over time, all sorts of debris begin to collect in these air vents. When the piles get too large, they block the air flow. This causes your system to work harder to reach your desired temperature. The life expectancy also decreases. B&L Ott offers a duct cleaning service that you should use every 5-7 years.

Clean Air Filters Regularly

Like air vents, filters collect dust. If you let it go too long without cleaning, it will no longer do its job. When the fibers become clogged, dust will start to sneak past the filter. More dust will begin accumulating in your home and contaminating your air. If any dirt gets in your main system, it can also cause problems. B&L Ott recommends that you clean or replace your air filters at least once per month.

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Clean the Outdoor Unit

Your outdoor unit is the most likely to get dirty. When the wind blows, dirt, debris, and grass clippings may get into your system and cause issues. It also needs a clean coil to work properly. If your unit is in direct sunlight, it may also have to work harder. It is a good idea to put your outdoor unit in a shaded and away from the foliage.

Make Sure It Is the Proper Size

It is important to make sure that your unit is the right size. If it is too small, it will need to work overtime to keep your family cool. This will cause it to wear down and not last as long. When you buy a new system, you should discuss options with a B&L Ott technician. This will help you make the right model and size choice. If you think your current system is too small and you don’t want to buy a new system, consider a mini-split system. B&L Ott can install a small separate system to keep any small area cool without the need for vents.

Give It a Rest

Like you and any other machine, you can’t work 24/7. You need a break to relax and cool down and so does your HVAC system. Be sure to turn off your system every once in a while. This will give you a chance to inspect the parts for wear and tear as well as prolong the life of your system. A quality system should last between 15-20 years if it is maintained well.

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Vacation Tips for Your HVAC System

Going on vacation is a great way to relax with your friends and family. Unfortunately, the planning within the last few weeks before you go on vacation can be hectic. There are many tasks you have to remember to do. You have to pack, take care of your work responsibilities and make sure your home is in proper order. To help you take a little bit of the stress off your mind, B&L Ott has comprised a list of HVAC system vacation tips.

Raise the Thermostat

home automationWhile you are away on vacation, you won’t be around to notice the temperature of your home. If it is summer, you should set your home temperature higher. This way your HVAC system doesn’t have to work as hard. A good place to set the temperature is in the high 70’s or low 80’s. This will ensure that air continues to flow throughout your home and humidity levels that low.  If it is winter, you should lower your temperature for the same reason. This tip can also save some money on your electric bills.

You should not turn off your system, though. Excessive temperatures and humidity can damage the furniture and appliances in your home. You went on vacation to distress. Don’t let yourself return home only to learn that many of your possessions have been damaged.

Home Automation

Another option to consider is home automation.  By installing a programmable thermostat, you can schedule a temperature change ahead of time. This can help immensely when you are making sure everything is in order at the last minute. Some systems can even connect to your smart device. This allows you to control the temperature in your home from anywhere. Contact B&L Ott to learn more or have a new home automation system installed.

Close Your Curtains and Blinds

window-blinds-932644_960_720If you leave your blinds open, sunlight will heat your home. This promotes unnecessary work for your HVAC system. The sun can raise your home’s temperature at various rates depending on the size and amount of windows. Either way, your HVAC system will have to run longer to get the air to your desired temperature. The longer your HVAC system runs, the more you pay on your energy bills.

When you’re not home, you don’t need the sunlight in your home, so it is a good idea to shade your home with curtains. Doing so will also provide extra security by preventing people from snooping. If people know you are not home, they may be more tempted to break in and steal your belongings.

Surge Protection

If your home experiences a power surge while you are away, it could mean trouble for your HVAC system. HVAC systems are only built to withstand so much voltage. When a power surge occurs, high doses of electricity are sent into your appliances. This extra energy can damage your system’s circuits and cause them to malfunction. By purchasing a surge protector before you leave, you can protect your appliances. Another good idea is to unplug any devices you don’t need to run while you are away.

Maintenance

Another way to guard your HVAC system while you are gone is to perform maintenance before you leave. You should clean or replace your air filter to make sure dirt buildup doesn’t cause issues.  Also, be sure to look for issues such as damaged parts, rust, or refrigerant leaks. If you notice any of these warning signs, contact B&L Ott in Berks County for help. B&L Ott can also help you with making sure your HVAC system is properly maintained.  You don’t want to come home to a broken HVAC system.

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Why Is My Water Heater Leaking?

Your family relies on hot water for many different activities, so when there is a problem with the water temperature or water pressure, it can be a big inconvenience. One of the most common causes of these problems is a leaky water heater. There are many reasons why your water heater may begin to leak. Some problems require a simple fix that you can take care of yourself while others may call for a more experienced hand from a B&L Ott technician. The first step to fixing your water heater is figuring out what is causing the issue. Therefore, we have created this brief list of possible causes to help you decide whether or not you need to contact B&L Ott.

Drain ValveDrain Valve

One of the most common reasons for water heater leaks is due to a loose drain valve. When the heater comes on, it vibrates which can loosen the valve over time. If you think the leak is being caused by a loose drain valve, use a wrench or a pair of pliers and turn the valve clockwise to tighten. Be careful not to make it too tight; only turn the valve until it is snug and do not force it.

Damaged Parts

Just like any other machine, water heater parts don’t last forever and may begin to wear down after a while. They can become damaged and start to malfunction. When this happens, the entire system may experience trouble. Parts may not fit or mesh properly anymore, which can cause leaks and other water heater malfunctions. If you notice any damaged parts and need help replacing them, contact B&L Ott for help.

Sediment Deposit

After years of use, rust and minerals may begin to collect at the bottom of the tank. This sediment can cause corrosion which leads to breaks in the sealing that allow water to seep out. Rust can also create holes in the tank if left untreated. If you think sediment deposit may be your problem, B&L Ott in Reading can help you flush out sediment and provide a chemical treatment to fix your system. Getting your heater checked sooner rather than later can help you prevent costly repairs in the future.

Too Much Pressure

Another common issue is too much air pressure. If your water heater is set to high, pressure will build up within the tank and can cause water to leak out of the overflow pipe. This may also be a sign that you need to replace your hot water heater soon. If you let the problem go too long, you may risk total failure of your system and worse flooding. Contact B&L Ott to learn more about replacing and installing a new heating system.

Water Heater

Old Tank

Although water heaters are built to last for many years, eventually age will become a factor in decreasing your system’s efficiency. Different heaters may last longer than others, but a quality, well-maintained system will usually last between 10-15 years. When it reaches this age, you may notice more leaks and increasingly frequent problems with your system. Over the years, corrosion will likely take place within the tank and other parts may get worn or damaged. If your water heater is nearing the end of its life, B&L Ott can quickly install a new heater for you before you experience the inconvenience of a total breakdown.

Condensation

If you notice condensation on the outside of your heater tank, you may worry that your system is leaking. Visible condensation on the outside of the tank does not always mean there is a leak. When cold water and warm air meet, condensation often occurs. You can simply wipe off the condensation with a towel and return to your daily activities. If you still think there is a problem, however, B&L Ott would be happy to help by sending one of our experienced technicians to come and inspect your system for you.

 

Contact B&L Ott

B&L Ott provides quality water heater and HVAC system services to the Berks County area. You can learn more about our water heater maintenance and installation services by using the following link: http://otthvac.com/water-heater-installation-maintenance/. If you wish to schedule a repair, installation or discuss another service, you can fill out the form on our contact page, http://otthvac.com/contact-us/ or call B&L Ott at 610–816–6026.

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HVAC Savings with Berks County Home Energy Audit

air conditioner repairAre you looking to save money on your heating and cooling bills and maximize the comfort of your home environment? If you’re unsure where to start, a home energy audit is highly recommended for you.

Most Americans spend over $2,200 a year on energy costs.  A home energy audit will simplify the process to help you save. This program consists of a custom evaluation of your home to help identify improvements for energy efficiency. Many customers can even receive rebates for taking part in their local program.

A home energy audit can be beneficial for older homes, newer homes, and those in between. Older homes may have equipment that is worn or outdated, whereas newer homes might not have efficient equipment and install techniques.

What Happens During a Home Energy Audit

  • Evaluation of air leakage through windows and doors with a blower test
  • Proper insulation check
  • Inspection of heating and cooling system operations
  • Inspection of appliances and lighting
  • Possible installation of products such as LED bulbs, faucet aerators, and efficient showerheads
  • Personal recommendation of tasks to complete for great efficiency

Your technician will then recommend some custom upgrades or repairs based on the quality of your home, such as: Sealing air ducts, sealing vents and registers, adding insulation, and installing new HVAC equipment. This information will come to you in a comprehensive report. Once you receive the recommendations, you can look into additional rebates such as: wall and attic insulation, HVAC equipment replacement, air and duct sealing, and ENERGY STAR window replacements.

When HVAC Equipment Upgrade is Needed

Even if you consistently keep up with repairs of your HVAC equipment, upgrades eventually become recommended. The risk of expensive repairs and problems increase as the equipment becomes outdated. Skilled technicians can recognize that you could save considerably on your monthly bills and experience a better home environment simply by upgrading to the newest technology.

After the initial investment, the right HVAC equipment upgrades will provide you with increased efficiency and lower energy costs for years to come. It’s best to consult with a technician when choosing the new equipment for your home. A local company like B&L Ott can offer personalized service to provide the best advice for your specific home and needs. We offer the following general advice when choosing upgrades for your HVAC equipment:

  • When replacing a central air conditioner, make sure to replace both the outdoor component (condenser and compressor) and indoor component (evaporator coil) at the same time. Forgetting about half of this “split system” can actually result in lower efficiency or even equipment failure.
  • Choose an ENERGY STAR certified central air conditioner and a contractor that follows ENERGY STAR Quality Installation Guidelines for the best in efficiency.
  • Remember that bigger equipment does not always mean better operation. What’s more important than thinking big is choosing a properly sized unit for the needs of your individual home. The right fit for HVAC equipment is important for smooth operation.
  • Make sure the equipment is properly installed by a knowledgeable HVAC technician. Equipment that is improperly installed can actually reduce system efficiency by up to 30 percent.

Contact B&L Ott if you live in or near Reading, PA. We can offer you comprehensive home energy audits, knowledgeable recommendations, quality products and installation, and information about local rebates. Contact us today to schedule service.

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Prepare Your Berks County Home for Winter

winter power linesAfter a very mild autumn, winter has finally arrived in Berks County. That means freezing temperatures, frigid snowstorms, and plenty of time spent indoors. However, it doesn’t have to mean high heating costs. There are some steps to take to save energy, keep warm, and reduce your monthly bills this Winter. Check out some of our best tips to prepare your home HVAC system for the coldest season:

Conduct Routine Maintenance

The best time to fix potential issues with your heating systems is before they occur. Unexpected repairs during the dead of winter can drive up heating costs. Regular maintenance and check-ups with a professional technician can help prevent problems during the season that your system is working the hardest. Contact B&L Ott today to schedule service in Berks County.

Do-it-yourself maintenance should include replacing your filters. However, if you don’t have knowledge of HVAC systems or suspect a possible problem, it is recommended you consult with a professional. An experienced technician will clean the system, check for potential issues, perform a tune-up, and offer advice on needed repairs or upgrades.

Observe and Repair Air Leaks

Air leaks drive up heating costs because the hot air escapes through them, causing your HVAC systems to expel additional energy to keep your home warm. Seal up all the leaks and cracks in your home for reduced heating costs.

Routine energy audits and maintenance can help you identify and fix air leaks in your home. However, you can also do it yourself when you are short on time and winter is already knocking at your door.

Check door and window frames, electrical and plumbing outlets, and water and furnace flues. Feel for colder spots and areas. Cover up any cracks or leaks with caulk on solid areas. Window frames and cracks in other areas are best repaired with weather stripping.

Pad the Pipes

Pad the pipes in your house to help keep out the cold. Pipes in the basement and garage become especially sensitive to cold weather during the winter. These can freeze, burst, and at the very least need extra energy to heat.

Wrap pipes to keep them warm. Foam insulation, pipe wrap, or heat tape can all be used as materials for padding.

Tending to Air Ducts

Sealing and insulating air ducts properly will help reduce heating costs in preparation for Winter. Check the attic or basement to locate air ducts. Seal air leaks in the ducts using mastic or adhesive-backed metal tape. Insulate the ducts with duct blankets. For those with limited HVAC knowledge or for more complicated jobs, it is recommended you consult with a skilled technician.

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