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6 ways to keep your home warm this winter

It’s no secret folks, wintertime is here and heating season is truly in full swing. Our northern Nevada winters have many of us retreating into our homes to keep out of the winter weather. When your home isn’t kept warm, it can cause household issues like burst pipes and raise some health concerns related to the cold.

Even if your furnace is functioning correctly, your home may be losing heat, wasting energy, costing you money and making you uncomfortable. If this sounds like something you’re experiencing, you can try implementing some simple steps to keep your home warm.

1.  Change your air filters

Making sure you have clean air filters is one of the easiest things you can do to keep your system running efficiently. If your furnace’s air filter is clogged by dust, dirt, pet hair, or other particulates, your blower motor may be working longer and harder to achieve the desired temperature. An additional benefit of clean filters is that they will provide cleaner, healthier indoor air.

2. Switch your ceiling fan

As mentioned in a previous column, Ask Dirk: Will running my ceiling fan in the winter save money, your ceiling fans can be used in the winter to help boost your home heating system. Your fan usually works by pushing air down and creating a wind-chill effect that helps you feel cooler. If your fan has a switch to change direction, it will instead pull cold air up towards the ceiling and push the warmer air near the ceiling downward without uncomfortable drafts.

3. Cover wood floors

I haven’t yet found a person who enjoys stepping barefoot on a tile or wood floor during the cold months. These surfaces often feel colder than other surfaces in your home and, if uninsulated, can make the rest of your home colder. It’s estimated an average of 10 percent of heat loss occurs through the floors in our homes, but that number can be reduced a bit by utilizing rugs or carpet rolls during the heating season.

4. Use your window coverings

Even if your windows are well sealed, there is still some heat loss that occurs near them, especially on a frigid night. If you’ve got window coverings, use them as a layer of insulation to keep warmth in your rooms. In sunny areas of your home, you can open the same coverings up during the day to aid in heating your home.

5. Get your ductwork checked by a professional

Your ventilation system works by moving heated air throughout ductwork and into your home. Any tears, holes, clogs or disconnected parts can make the system use more energy and cause heat loss that leaves you feeling uncomfortable.

A final thought I’d like to leave you with that can go a long way in keeping your home comfortable:

6. Keep a maintenance calendar and look into a maintenance agreement

A maintenance calendar can help you keep track of your system’s repairs and recommended servicing schedule. Similarly, many HVAC professionals offer a maintenance agreement, so your system can undergo scheduled regular maintenance and inspections, ensuring everything is running smoothly. If you have a maintenance calendar and receive consistent service, you can financially prepare and schedule times to change out worn down or aging parts before they break. Be sure to ask your trusted HVAC technician about your maintenance calendar and find out if they offer a maintenance agreement.

 

2019-12-23T11:04:53-08:00December 21st, 2019|

Ask Dirk: Why do I need to have my furnace serviced?

It’s that time of year again, where temperatures are dropping, and we set our thermostats to heat, only to consider turning the AC back on a few days later, which makes it a great time to think about having your furnace serviced for the upcoming cold weather.

We rely heavily on our furnaces to keep us safe and warm during the cold season, and it can be a major inconvenience when they break or aren’t working properly. Regular, preventative maintenance to your system can help prevent those situations, potentially lower your energy bill, and protect your family.

I’ve discussed HVAC maintenance in a prior column “What happens during my HVAC maintenance service?” but there are some additional items we check off when servicing your furnace:

Igniter/Pilot light

Gas units utilize an ignitor or pilot light to light the gas and start the furnace burners. If either the pilot or ignitor is dirty, loose, or damaged, your furnace could shut down or fail to cycle on. Your technician will perform an inspection of these parts, clean and check connections to ensure they are working correctly.

Inducer Blower

The inducer blower is one of the most important pieces of your furnace. It draws the air used for combustion into your furnace and sends dangerous gasses created by the combustion process outside through the flue pipe. It starts before the rest of your furnace does, so if there’s a problem, the safety system will prevent the combustion process from starting and you will have no heat. Your technician will check for proper operation of the inducer subsystem.

Heat Exchanger

The heat exchanger is the part of your furnace that actually heats the air blown into your home. Once the burners ignite, the hot gases pass through the inside of the heat exchanger and make it hot. Your main blower blows air over the outside of the heat exchanger, heating the air that is then sent into your home via your duct system. Your technician will check the heat exchanger for cracks or damage that could cause carbon monoxide or other gases to pass from the inside to the outside of the heat exchanger and into the air that enters your home.

Additionally, the technician will also check your filters, look for any obstruction near your furnace and wipe the unit down.

I recommend getting your HVAC system serviced twice a year, once prior to or during cooling season and once prior to or during heating season.  That way, you’ll know your system is up to the task when you need it. Regular maintenance will alert you to failing parts, keep your system clean, and help you know when your system is due for replacement. Above all, preventative maintenance will keep you comfortable and your family safe.

P.S.

Regular maintenance is the best way to prevent furnace problems, but there are signs you can look out for that may indicate an issue. Call your HVAC servicer if you notice any of the following:

  • Unusual noises
  • Higher than normal utility bills
  • A persistent dirty or dusty smell
  • Frequent on and off cycles

If you have a question or comment, I’d love to hear from you. Please send it to me at dirk@roperhvac.whitepeak.xyz and I’ll try to answer it in an upcoming column.

2019-11-20T14:10:38-08:00November 17th, 2019|

Ask Dirk: Are portable air conditioning units a good alternative?

The summer heat has many looking for relief, but of all the options available, the portable AC unit doesn’t rise to the challenge.

Portability

Their packages and advertising show them without hoses and purported as no-installation needed, making portable ACs seems like a quick and easy solution to your cooling needs. However, portable units might not be just as portable as their name suggests.

For starters, the size of these units might deter users from wanting to actually move them. One of the smallest units on the market weighs 40 pounds in comparison to their heavier counterparts at more than 80 pounds. Additionally, if you plan to move the unit from room to room, an exhaust method is required in every room you wish to use it in.

Energy efficiency

The measurement for the amount of heat an AC unit can remove from a space is measured in BTUs (British thermal units). Generally speaking, a larger space or warmer climate would require a higher BTU AC unit to cool effectively. Unfortunately, the advertised BTUs of portable air conditioners aren’t always accurate.

Central air conditioners and window units use coolant to move heat from inside the home to its coils outside where the heat is then exhausted. A portable unit works similarly, except the warm air must get pushed through a hose and through the window vent before it gets outside. The mechanical components of portable units create heat as they operate. About one-third of the cooling power is consumed to make up for the heat the unit creates.

Most portable units are one-hose units. These units use air from the house to exhaust the heat to the outdoors. Any air that is exhausted from the house must be replaced. Typically, air will infiltrate into the house around doors or through other small openings to the outdoors. A two-hose unit is slightly more efficient than one-hose units because they use a hose to bring in air to cool the coil and another to vent the air outside. The window kit that comes with two-hose models to route the hoses through the window and block outside air from coming in often puts the two openings too close together. This causes some of the exhausted air to be drawn back in, so the air to cool the hot coil is warmer. The typical fix is to make a custom window adapter with openings for the two hoses separated as much as possible, but this fix might not be possible for all users.

Condensate draining

A portable unit collects condensate which must be periodically emptied. Depending on conditions, this can happen several times a day. Most units will detect that the container is full and shut off before it overflows. Draining the unit several times a day can be time consuming and reduce the run time of the unit.

Talk to your trusted technician to find an alternative that works for your budget and your comfort.

2019-09-11T14:38:52-07:00September 10th, 2019|

Ask Dirk Q&A: Common Questions Homeowners Ask

Ask Dirk Q&A: Common Questions Homeowners Ask

Over the past 30 plus years, we’ve been asked countless questions from customers throughout western Nevada. Many of them have been asked enough times that I felt it important to share.

Does a bigger HVAC system provide better performance?

In short, the answer is no. The size of your HVAC system depends entirely on the total square footage of your home. A system that is too small will run nonstop trying to reach and maintain your desired temperature, whereas a system that is too large will heat and cool your home in frequent, short cycles.  Either way, you may end up with a higher energy bill due to an inadequately sized system for your home.

 

How can I reduce my energy costs?

                    • Consider using a programmable thermostat to control temperatures throughout the day. Or if you’re leaving for more than a couple hours and able to remember, set your thermostat 10-15 degrees lower in the winter and 5-8 degrees higher in the summer. Energy Star estimates that users who do this can save 5-15 percent on their energy bill.
                    • Get your system serviced twice a year, once at the start of air conditioning season and once at the beginning of heat season.
                    • Make sure your vents are not closed, covered, or blocked by furniture.
                    • And last but not least, change your filters regularly.

How often should my filters be changed?

Your filters should be changed twice per year at least, during your summer and winter maintenance services. Even better—change them quarterly. Best—during high use periods, change them monthly.

 

 

 

conditioner 

How long will my HVAC system last?

The length your system lasts is reliant upon how well the unit is maintained. You can expect your HVAC system to roughly last between 15-25 years—IF—the recommended service and maintenance is performed throughout the last of the system. Certain elements of your total system may have different lifespans.

                    • A/C Units: 10-15 years
                    • Gas Heater: 15-30 years
                    • Heat Pumps: 10-15 years

 

If you have a question or comment, I’d love to hear from you. Please send it to me at dirk@roperhvac.whitepeak.xyz and I’ll try to answer it in an upcoming column.

2019-08-02T17:07:13-07:00July 15th, 2019|

Ask Dirk: What happens during my HVAC maintenance service?

Ask Dirk: What happens during my HVAC maintenance service?

Roper's Heating and Air Conditioning ServicesYour HVAC system is a mechanical system with lots of moving parts. Without regular maintenance and care, its performance will start to decline and eventually the entire system will just plain fail. A heating and cooling system replacement costs thousands of dollars, so regular maintenance can extend its lifespan and protect your wallet.

What does the technician do?

Inspect and Change Your Filters

We’ve talked about how important clean filters are regularly in this column, and we’ll probably keep talking about it – it’s that important. In our dusty climate, filters need frequent changing because they trap all kinds of dust, debris, germs. Dirty filters can cause inefficient heating or cooling, and poor indoor air quality.

Visual Inspection of the Entire System

A thorough visual inspection can identify problems before they happen, and it’s a good idea to get it done before peak cooling or heating season begins. Addressing minor problems found during regular maintenance service can greatly reduce potential emergencies.

Clean and Remove Debris

While filters help with dust and debris, particulates also collect on blowers, moving parts, condensing units, and other system components, interfering with smooth operations and potentially causing corrosive damage to internal systems.

Check the Condensate Drain

A clogged condensate drain in your air conditioner and heat pump can obstruct water flow, causing moisture to accumulate in the system. This can potentially lead to mold, water damage, uneven temperature regulation, bacteria, and compromised air quality.

Check the Electrical Connections and Voltage

HVAC connections and systems can come loose or break over time. Frayed and damaged wires should be replaced to minimize the risk of fire and component failure.

Inspect Exhaust Outlets

Gases like carbon monoxide escape through exhaust outlets. Clogs can lead to dangerous build-up, and possibly compromise your safety. Your technician will check for signs of corrosion, leaks, and backdraft in the system, chimney flue and vent stack.

Check Fuel Lines and Connections

Leaking gas and fuel lines in your system can be a fire hazard, and disconnected fuel lines, accumulated soot in the burners and cracked heat exchangers can impact on the system’s efficiency.

Check the Refrigerant Levels

If your air conditioner doesn’t have enough refrigerant in it to cool the air efficiently the compressor will have to work harder to achieve the desired level of temperature, which can damage the system. Losing refrigerant often means leaks, which need to be detected and repaired.

A final note

Regularly servicing your HVAC system is beneficial in many ways, with improved reliability, lower energy bills, longer equipment life, and a safer, healthier environment. Additionally, a thorough examination by a trained technician will help to ensure the whole system is healthy, and if it’s not, your technician will advise you of any needed repairs.

With summer rapidly approaching, it may be a good idea to get your system serviced early to make sure you’re covered before it gets too hot, so you have ample time to enjoy your air conditioner.

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Have a question for Dirk? Send it to dirk@roperHVAC.com and he’ll try to answer it in an upcoming column.

About Roper’s Heating and Air Conditioning: For more than 30 years Roper’s Heating and Air Conditioning has been providing essential indoor climate management services to the citizens of western Nevada. Roper’s is a family-owned, community-oriented business that specializes in the restoration and preservation of Total Home Comfort. Roper’s Heating and Air Conditioning is located at 2062 S. Edmonds Drive in Carson City. For more information, visit http://roperhvac.com/.

2019-07-23T10:55:44-07:00June 16th, 2019|