Home Tips

HVAC Home Tips For Atlanta Homeowners

With cold weather knocking on the door, OK, beating on the door, you need to be able to rely on your heating system.  That’s a no-brainer.  What you might not know is that there are some simple things you can do to protect your system from the worst Mother Nature has to dish out, maybe get a few more weeks/months/years out of it, or at least help it keep you and your family more comfortable.

Tip 1: Keep Your HVAC System Clean

  It costs a lot of money to buy a new HVAC system.  It’s extremely complicated.  It has a lot of electronics and moving parts and parts that heat up really hot and others that get really cold and things that light up and things that shouldn’t.  And you depend on it to keep your home comfortable and your indoor air clean.  Doesn’t it seem logical that it should require some care during it’s lifetime other than when it breaks?  For best performance and a longer life, let us clean it and tune it up at least once a year.  Twice is better, once before the heating season and once before the cooling season, but even once will help.  

Tip 2: Care of Your Heat Pump in the Winter

Your heat pump sits outside all year doing what it’s supposed to do.  Most of the time it ignores the weather conditions and functions just fine.  However, it does not like ice.  Freezing up during an ice storm is a common problem and can be the death of your outdoor unit.  What happens is that a layer of ice forms on the fan and the blades outside.  When your thermostat calls for heat, the heat pump turns on, the motor tries to turn the blades but can’t and and burns itself out trying.  The best thing to do to prevent this is if you know there’s going to be an ice storm or sleet that’s expected to freeze, turn on your emergency heat.  This will turn your heat pump off and turn on the backup heat source.  Remember though that this backup heat source is the most expensive way to heat your house so don’t turn it on until the last possible minute and turn it back to heat pump (meaning turn the emergency heat off) as soon as you notice that the ice has melted off of your outdoor unit.

Note that this does not apply if you have a dual fuel system or a gas furnace/air conditioner system.  This only applies to a heat pump.

Tip 3: Care of your Furnace

If you have a furnace, about the only thing you can keep an eye on that’s affected directly by cold weather is the drain line.  If you have a high efficiency furnace, there is a drain line that runs from the unit to the outside somewhere or into some kind of drain.  Know where that line is.  In the winter it can freeze up and shut your furnace down.  If it does freeze, thaw it out, turn off the breaker to your furnace, and turn it back on again to reset it.  It should fire back up.

Tip 4: Designing a Home for Your Outdoor Unit

If you decide to build a lean-to or shed for your outdoor unit, remember to keep at least a four-foot clearance from the top of the unit so it can work and about two feet all the way around so it can be serviced.  We have some small guys on our crews, but not that small.

You can cover the outdoor unit with a tarp or a board or something if you know it’s going to ice but BE SURE TO TAKE THE COVER OFF BEFORE YOU TURN THE HEAT PUMP BACK ON!  You don’t want to waste all your hard work by burning up your outdoor unit because you forgot this little step.

Tip 5: Simple Safety Measure to Prevent Damage to Your Indoor Unit and to Your Home

It’s not a good idea to store anything too close to your indoor equipment.  It’s definitely not a good idea to store anything flammable near your HVAC system. And it’s NEVER good to store anything near your gas furnace or gas water heater. Particularly in the case of older or less efficient gas or oil furnaces and water heaters, they need air in order to burn properly and to draft, or carry the harmful by-products of combustion out your chimney which you already know because you read my article about combustion safety.  (A newer or more efficient furnace has a second pipe that brings in the fresh air it needs from outside.)  So do yourself and your house a big favor and give your indoor units plenty of breathing room.

And that’s about it.  Besides changing your filters regularly, which you should know already.  If you have any questions about how to care for your equipment or want to schedule an appointment for a cleaning and tune-up because I convinced you that it’s a really, really good idea, call Self Heating & Cooling at 678-909-6377.  

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Looking for the best HVAC company in Marietta, Smyrna, Atlanta and the surrounding areas? Call Self Heating & Cooling! For over 15 years, Self Heating & Cooling has been providing  the highest quality HVAC products and the most outstanding customer service available —  Call Self Heating & Cooling today to start enjoying your air! 678-909-6377. You can also check us out on Facebook, Google, Kudzu and Next Door to see what our customers are saying about us.

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This article will help you find strategies to help you save energy during the cool fall and cold winter months. Some of the tips below are free and can be used on a daily basis to increase your savings; others are simple and inexpensive actions you can take to ensure maximum savings through the winter.

If you haven't already, conduct an energy audit to find out where you can save the most, and consider making a larger investment for long-term energy savings.

LOWER YOUR WATER HEATING COSTS

Water heating accounts for about 18% of the energy consumed in your home.

  • Turn down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting (120°F). You'll not only save energy, you'll avoid scalding your hands.
    Find other strategies for energy-efficient water heating.

LOWER YOUR HOLIDAY LIGHTING COSTS

  • Use light-emitting diode -- or "LED" -- holiday light strings to reduce the cost of decorating your home for the winter holidays.
    Learn about the advantages and potential cost savings of LED holiday light strings.
    Find manufacturers and brands of ENERGY STAR®-qualified decorative light strings.

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF HEAT FROM THE SUN

Photo of a window with the curtains open. Sun is shining into the room and snow-covered mountains are visible outside. Copyright iStockphoto.com/Giorgio Fochesato.

  • Open curtains on your south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight to naturally heat your home, and close them at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.

COVER DRAFTY WINDOWS

  • Use a heavy-duty, clear plastic sheet on a frame or tape clear plastic film to the inside of your window frames during the cold winter months. Make sure the plastic is sealed tightly to the frame to help reduce infiltration.
  • Install tight-fitting, insulating drapes or shades on windows that feel drafty after weatherizing.
    Find out about other window treatments and coverings that can improve energy efficiency.

ADJUST THE TEMPERATURE

  • When you are home and awake, set your thermostat as low as is comfortable.
  • When you are asleep or out of the house, turn your thermostat back 10° to 15° for eight hours and save around 10% a year on your heating and cooling bills. A programmable thermostat can make it easy to set back your temperature.
    Find out how to operate your thermostat for maximum energy savings. Also see ENERGY STAR's June 5, 2008, podcastfor video instructions on operating your programmable thermostat.

FIND AND SEAL LEAKS

  • Seal the air leaks around utility cut-throughs for pipes ("plumbing penetrations"), gaps around chimneys and recessed lights in insulated ceilings, and unfinished spaces behind cupboards and closets.
    Find out how to detect air leaks.
    Learn more about air sealing new and existing homes.
  • Add caulk or weatherstripping to seal air leaks around leaky doors and windows.
    Find out how to select and apply the appropriate caulk.
    Learn how to select and apply weatherstripping.
REDUCE HEAT LOSS FROM THE FIREPLACE

Photo of a fire in a brick fireplace. Copyright iStockphoto.com/Oliver Malms.

  • Keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is burning. Keeping the damper open is like keeping a window wide open during the winter; it allows warm air to go right up the chimney.
  • When you use the fireplace, reduce heat loss by opening dampers in the bottom of the firebox (if provided) or open the nearest window slightly--approximately 1 inch--and close doors leading into the room. Lower the thermostat setting to between 50° and 55°F.
  • If you never use your fireplace, plug and seal the chimney flue.
  • If you do use the fireplace, install tempered glass doors and a heat-air exchange system that blows warmed air back into the room.
  • Check the seal on the fireplace flue damper and make it as snug as possible.
  • Purchase grates made of C-shaped metal tubes to draw cool room air into the fireplace and circulate warm air back into the room.
  • Add caulking around the fireplace hearth.
    Find out more techniques to improve your fireplace or wood-burning appliance's efficiency.
    Learn tips for safe and efficient fireplace installation and wood burning.

MAINTAIN YOUR HEATING SYSTEMS

  • Schedule service for your heating system.
    Find out what maintenance is required to keep your heating system operating efficiently.
  • Furnaces: Replace your furnace filter once a month or as needed.
    Find out more about maintaining your furnace or boiler.
  • Wood- and Pellet-Burning Heaters: Clean the flue vent regularly and clean the inside of the appliance with a wire brush periodically to ensure that your home is heated efficiently.
    Find other maintenance recommendations for wood- and pellet-burning appliances.
If you haven't scheduled your furnace maintenance yet, give Self Heating & Cooling a call today or schedule online!

Home Heating System: Is Yours Ready For Winter?

Maintaining your home heating system is crucial

Maintaining your heating system is quite similar to maintaining your vehicle. If you let either go without maintenance for too long, it’s likely that problems will ensue. The best thing you can do for your heating system is ensure that it is prepared for the coldest months of the year long before they actually arrive. These are simple tips for making sure your heating system is winter-ready!

Common Sense Money Saving Tips for the Winter
  1. Bundle up! You can keep the house a few degrees cooler by wearing warmer clothes inside. We suggest cozy blankets, slippers, and a sweatshirt.
  2. Many doors and windows go unused during the winter (patio and basement doors, spare room windows, etc), so consider covering them in plastic to prevent drafts. Window kits are sold at your local hardware/home supply stores for about $5 a window. Can't get to the store? Grab some old blankets and insulate.
  3. Turn the heat down when no one is home. Turning it down to 60-65 while you're away saves money and means you don't heat an empty house.
  4. After using the oven, leave the door open a crack to let heat warm your kitchen and the surrounding rooms.
  5. Use a space heater in the room you are using. This will take the nip out of the air without heating the rest of your home.
  6. Pick up some caulk or silicone from the hardware store and fill any cracks in doors and windows, and basement floors and walls. Heat escapes quickly through cracks and the small ones you see can add up!
  7. Close vents and doors to rooms not used regularly (spare guest rooms, patios, etc). Doing so can easily cut 100-200 square feet off your energy footprint and bill.
  8. Put weather stripping around windows and doors. You'd be surprised how the seals around your doors and windows can deteriorate over time.
  9. Cover the attic entry with old blankets, weather stripping, plastic, etc. Anything will help slow down the warm air from floating away through your roof.
And lastly, make sure your furnace is running as efficiently as it can be during the cold months. Call Self Heating & Cooling to schedule your maintenance today!

Imagine going to work every day in an office without any proper ventilation. There is no air circulation throughout the building, which means it’s swelteringly hot and stuffy in the summer and freezing cold in the winter. Such a simple thing can create working environments that are unpleasant or just downright uninhabitable, and often prevent new companies from leasing office space. The key to avoiding this situation lies in regular and on going maintenance of the buildings HVAC systems.

What Is HVAC Maintenance?

The systems that keep a building running are the key to maintaining a healthy and comfortable environment inside, and in this case that is the HVAC systems. HVAC (which stands for heating, ventilation and air conditioning) is an essential part of creating comfortable and legal living and working environments. Each unit varies, with some being simple and easy to maintain and others proving incredibly complex and intricate. Their size can also vary from very small units for individual offices to large central equipment designed to heat, cool, treat and condition entire factories, office buildings or schools. This equipment requires periodic maintenance to ensure it remains working at maximum efficiency and won’t break down. With some units you can conduct visual checks yourself, but we always recommend bringing in a professional to run more comprehensive checks and perform any tweaks or repairs the machines may need.

Why Is It Important?

Like any Mechanical and Electrical system, regular maintenance includes cleaning, topping up any fluids or other components and carrying out safety checks to ensure none of the elements are faulty.  This can prevent potential failures down the line. A well maintained HVAC system keeps your air clean, improves the life of the system itself and keeps it running efficiently. You can find more tips on why maintaining your HVAC systems is essential here.

Why Should I Invest In Preventive HVAC Maintenance?

When it comes to preventive HVAC maintenance, you should think of it in the same way as doing maintenance on your car. If you don’t change the oil, replace the belts and filters before they start to wear and damage and keep it running effectively then the car won’t run. But instead of waiting for the parts to fail and ending up without a car while you wait to replace them, taking steps to repair and replace them before that stage saves you time, money and stress.

The good news is that on going HVAC maintenance isn’t an expensive outlay, unlike the cost of replacing a full unit. While the cost of replacing a complete system can run into the tens of thousands, maintenance of that system will cost a fraction of that and keep your buildings in working order for longer. Not only that, but there is some evidence to suggest that well run HVAC systems could actually save you money in terms of energy and electricity used by your building.  By investing in regular maintenance for your HVAC systems you are ensuring lower payouts for repairs, reducing your emergency call outs (and their charges) and providing a cleaner, more comfortable environment for your tenants. For advice or help with your long term HVAC maintenance plan, call us at     678-909-6377

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1700 Cumberland Point Dr
Marietta, GA. 30067
Phone: (678) 909-6377
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