Archive for the ‘Heating’ Category

Your Branches Hammock HVAC System and the Gas Line

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

What happens if you lose your gas line? What relationship does that simple copper pipe have to the comfort control of your Branches Hammock home? It depends largely on the scope of your HVAC system and what time of the year you lose gas, but the answer is almost always that it will have a pretty big impact.

What Uses Gas in Your Home?

There are a number of components that use gas in your home. The first and most common is your furnace, but you will find that your water heater may also use a gas line and some packaged air conditioning systems use gas for heating components.

  • Heating – If you have a gas line, it’s very likely that your heating system uses gas as an energy source. It’s the least expensive of the three major energy sources (oil, gas and electricity) and gas furnaces are extremely efficient. In terms of how much gas you will use, one cubic foot of gas contains 1040 BTUs of heating energy per hour.So, if your furnace offers 100,000 BTUs of heating capacity, it would use 96.15 cubic feet of natural gas when running at full capacity. Keep in mind, though, that a gas furnace is rated with an AFUE rating. This is the percentage of the fuel consumed that is actually converted to heat. So, if your AFUE rating is 90%, your actual BTU production would be 90,000 for the same 96.15 cubic feet of gas. The cost of natural gas varies by location, but is generally around $1 per cubic foot.
  • Water Heating – For a water heater, gas rates are charged by kWh. Your water heater should have a placard or sheet that lists its maximum production per hour so you can determine how much gas it uses per hour when your hot water is in high demand.

Gas is a highly volatile substance and while there are a number of safety measures implemented in your Branches Hammock home to protect your family, it’s important to ensure the gas lines are well maintained. Annual maintenance is a must to keep the gas working properly. If you do notice a leak or sudden loss of gas, don’t call a contractor – call the gas company immediately as it could be an emergency.

Southgate HVAC Installation Question: What Is Involved in Replacing an Old System?

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

When your Southgate home’s HVAC system starts to fail — or if it already has — your options essentially come down to two: replace or repair. There are a lot of factors that go into making such a decision, but in general, if it is a newer system with a small problem and you haven’t had much trouble with it, then a simple repair clearly makes sense.

For older systems, or ones that have been repaired all to often lately, or ones that seem to be on their last legs, repair may be the only reasonable course of action.

Surely you know that a total system replacement would be a big job, but have you ever thought about just how big? Sure, you know you will have to swap out the failing furnace, and you may as well replace the air conditioning unit while you’re in there, but that’s it, right?

Actually, there is a lot more to an HVAC system than just those two machines. Think about all the behind-the-scenes components and the little components that are often overlooked, such as:

  • Ducts – Keep in mind that your ducts are probably as old as that furnace you are replacing, and that a new, efficient unit cannot operate at nearly its full potential with faulty duct work.
  • Thermostats – Your old ones may not even be compatible with a new furnace or air conditioner.
  • Wiring – For the thermostat, among other things.
  • Insulation – Many homeowners forget that insulation is part of an HVAC system, too. Just like we said about duct work, old insulation does not help a new system achieve maximum performance.
  • Piping – Such as refrigerant piping on a geothermal system or a ductless air conditioning system.

You can see that the job starts to get pretty complex pretty fast. This doesn’t mean you should shy away from a necessary replacement, just make sure that you fully consider the scope of what you need done, as well as the budget and time frame you have to work with. If you have any questions about replacing your Southgate home’s HVAC system, give Baker & Sons AC a call today!

West Bradenton HVAC Installation Guide: Programmable Thermostats

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

Programmable thermostats are one of the best ways to save on heating costs, especially if you have a hard time remembering to turn down the heat in your West Bradenton home. Installing a programmable thermostat will allow you to set the times you want the heat turned up or down. Not only will this make heating your home more consistent and save energy, but it will also allow you to tailor your heating needs to your schedule.

For instance, you can set the thermostat to turn on before you get up in the morning so that the house is already warm when you get out of bed, and conversely, set it to turn down after you go to bed or leave the house for work. Depending on the brand and setting options, programmable thermostats are relatively inexpensive and easy to install.

Although all styles are slightly different, here are some basic instructions that show you how easy it is to install a programmable thermostat.  Remember, this is only a general guide; always check the instructions inside the packaging of your new thermostat before you install it, or check with an electrician.

1. Remove the Old Thermostat

Before you remove the old thermostat, check to see where it’s mounted. If it’s mounted to an electrical box, the voltage used to power the old thermostat may not be compatible with the new one. Ask a certified electrician or West Bradenton heating technician if you aren’t sure.

CUT THE POWER TO THE HEATING SYSTEM TO AVOID ELECTRIC SHOCK. You should always turn off the main power supply to your heating system before installing any new thermostat. If you aren’t sure how to do this, ask your HVAC contractor. Once you unscrew the mounting plate for the old thermostat, just unhook the wires. Don’t throw an old mercury controlled thermostat. You should ask your local waste management facility how to properly dispose of mercury products.

2. Locate all Wires

Wrap the loose wires around a pencil to keep the wires from falling back into the wall. Identify and label each corresponding wire with a letter (do not use color coding since this is not always accurate). Strip the plastic off the ends of the wires about ¼ inch if you need to.

3. Install and Insulate Wallplate

If the area around the new wallplate is larger than the plate, insulate the hole with non-flammable insulation. Take the wallplate off the programmable thermostat and hold it against the wall to mark the screw holes with a pencil. Pull the wires through the large opening at the bottom and screw the plate to the wall.

4. Wiring

Make sure you are comfortable with wiring before you attempt to do any electrical installations. Check the manual for your programmable thermostat for instructions on wiring that specific model. In general, you’ll want to make sure you match the wire labels with the corresponding terminals on the thermostat. Sometimes there will be extra wires that aren’t needed. Always test it before completing the installation. Don’t forget the battery!

5. Install the Faceplate

Once you have it wired correctly, all you need to do is align the brackets on the faceplate with the corresponding slots on the wallplate and fasten the faceplate to the rest of the mounting. Lastly, tighten the screw at the bottom of the thermostat to hold it in place.

If you have any questions regarding programmable thermostats, give Baker & Sons Air Conditioning, Inc. a call.

Bird Island Heating Installation Tip: What You Should Consider Before Upgrading

Friday, January 20th, 2012

Many Bird Island homeowners who heat their homes with an older heating system—whether it’s a furnace or a heat pump—may want to consider upgrading to a more efficient system. Older furnaces with an AFUE rating of less than 80%, for instance, could be costing you a lot more than you realize in heating bills.

While it is a significant initial investment, upgrading to a more efficient furnace or heat pump will pay for itself in energy savings. Before you decide on whether or not an upgrade is right for your home, here are some things to keep in mind.

Fuel Costs

Some types of fuel, such as electricity, are more expensive in certain areas. Depending on where you live, you may want to compare the cost of fuel before choosing a heating upgrade. In fact, natural gas may or may not be available to your home. Check with your utility company to find out what types of fuel are available and which ones would be more cost-efficient for heating your home. You can always call a qualified HVAC technician at Baker & Sons Air Conditioning, Inc. if you have any questions about a heating system upgrade or the products we offer.

Insulation

Whenever you are thinking about upgrading your heating system, you’ll want to make sure your home is properly insulated and sealed. If you purchase and install a highly efficient furnace, it won’t save as much in energy bills if your house is poorly insulated. Get a home energy audit with a local energy resource organization if you aren’t sure. You might want to also consider upgrading your old windows and doors, or installing storm doors and windows to improve air tightness.

Property Value

A lot of homeowners forget that any upgrade or remodeling project will increase the value of their home. Not only will a heating system upgrade lower your heating bills; it will also add value to your home and property. Always make sure you choose the right system for your home so that it lasts as long as possible.

If you are considering upgrading the heating system in your Bird Island home, call us today to speak with one of our HVAC experts to ask about our quality products and installation services.

Ellenton Heating Installation Guidelines: Heating System Ventilation 101

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Maintaining Proper Ventilation for Combustion Systems

Anytime you maintain, retrofit, or replace a gas heating system in your Ellenton home you also need to be concerned with air quality. Combustion air is needed by all oil and gas heating systems to support the combustion process. This air is provided in some homes by unintentional air leaks, or by air ducts that connect to the outdoors. The combustion process creates several byproducts that are potentially hazardous to human health and can cause deterioration in your home. You can protect yourself from these hazards, as well as maintain energy efficiency, by ensuring that your chimney system functions properly and that your gas heating system is properly ventilated. In some cases, installing a sealed-combustion furnace can also help.

Chimneys

Properly functioning chimney systems will carry combustion byproducts out of the home. Therefore, chimney problems put you at risk of having these byproducts, such as carbon monoxide, spill into your home.

Most older gas furnaces have naturally drafting chimneys. The combustion gases exit the home through the chimney using only their buoyancy combined with the chimney’s height. Naturally drafting chimneys often have problems exhausting the combustion gases because of chimney blockage, wind or pressures inside the home that overcome the buoyancy of the gases.

Atmospheric, open-combustion furnaces, as well as fan-assisted furnaces, should be vented into masonry chimneys, metal double-wall chimneys, or another type of manufactured chimney. Masonry chimneys should have a fireclay, masonry liner or a retrofitted metal flue liner.

Many older chimneys have deteriorated liners or no liners at all and must be relined during furnace replacement. A chimney should be relined when any of the following changes are made to the combustion heating system:

When you replace an older furnace with a newer one that has an AFUE of 80% or more. These mid-efficiency appliances have a greater risk of depositing acidic condensation droplets in chimneys, and the chimneys must be prepared to handle this corrosive threat. The new chimney liner should be sized to accommodate both the new heating appliance and the combustion water heater by the installer.

When you replace an older furnace with a new 90+ AFUE appliance or a heat pump. In this case, the heating appliance will no longer vent into the old chimney, and the combustion water heater will now vent through an oversized chimney. This oversized chimney can lead to condensation and inadequate draft. The new chimney liner should be sized for the water heater alone, or the water heater in some cases can be vented directly through the wall.

Other Ventilation Concerns

Some fan-assisted, non-condensing furnaces, installed between 1987 and 1993, may be vented horizontally through high-temperature plastic vent pipe (not PVC pipe, which is safely used in condensing furnaces). This type of venting has been recalled and should be replaced by stainless steel vent pipe. If horizontal venting was used, an additional draft-inducing fan may be needed near the vent outlet to create adequate draft. Floor furnaces may have special venting problems because their vent connector exits the furnace close to the floor and may travel 10 to 30 feet before reaching a chimney. Check to see if this type of venting or the floor furnace itself needs replacement. If you smell gases, you have a venting problem that could affect your health. Contact your local utility or Ellenton heating contractor to have this venting problem repaired immediately.

Chimneys can be expensive to repair, and may help justify installing new heating equipment that won’t use the existing chimney.

North Port HVAC Tip: What Makes a Furnace High Efficiency?

Friday, January 13th, 2012

You’ve probably heard about the new lines of high efficiency furnaces being released by popular home heating companies in North Port, but what exactly is different about these high efficiency devices from your current furnace? Let’s take a closer look at what a high efficiency furnace offers and why it can save you money.

Added Features

A high efficiency furnace uses familiar technology in a new way to reduce the amount of energy lost when combustion takes place. This means:

  • Sealed Combustion – Instead of open combustion which allows heat to escape during and after the combustion process, a high efficiency furnace uses a sealed chamber with carefully measured and fed airflow to burn fuel and produce heat. Exhaust heat can then be recaptured and used to heat air transferred to your air vents.
  • Two Stage Gas Valves – With a two stage gas valve, your furnace can respond to the temperature outside. There isn’t just one “on” switch. The furnace will regulate gas flow based on how much energy is needed to produce heat for your home. So, if there is a sudden burst of cold outside, the furnace will respond accordingly, but for most days when heating needs are low, it will use only the minimum amount of needed gas.
  • Programmable – High efficiency furnaces are now programmable, meaning you can set specific time limits for operation, change thermostat settings digitally and inspect the device through an electronic read out. The level of control given to you by a programmable high efficiency furnace can greatly reduce gas or electricity consumption.

Cost Benefit

The real reason many people are interested in high efficiency furnaces in North Port is that they are so much less expensive to operate. Instead of costing hundreds of dollars to run through the winter, they operate the bare minimum needed to heat your home. Using up to 95% of the fuel they consume to produce heat and regulating gas to cut how much is consumed during milder days, these furnaces are built to save you money.

If you have an old furnace that chews through energy like nobody’s business, now might be the time to consider the benefits of a brand new, high efficiency model.

Casey Key Heating Installation Tip: Comparing High-Efficiency and Mid-Efficiency Furnaces

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Whenever you are in the market for a new furnace for your Casey Key home, there are many models to choose from.  Many of the furnaces manufactured within the last few years are high-efficiency furnaces with a high AFUE rating (AFUE measures the amount of fuel the furnace converts into heat). When people refer to a mid-efficiency furnace, they are usually talking about older furnaces.

Single-stage furnaces were considered to be an efficient heating system when they were manufactured, but compared to newer furnaces, they use up a lot more energy than they need to. Single-speed furnaces are designed to run at full capacity until the temperature inside the home reaches the thermostat setting. After they shut off, the home not only loses heat, but the furnace will also take longer and burn more fuel when it cycles on again.

Newer, two-speed and multispeed models run consistently at lower speeds, and the ones with variable-speed blowers are even more efficient because they can operate at various levels. These models will also automatically adjust to the thermostat to maintain a constant temperature, which saves energy by keeping the home at a consistent temperature so that there’s little heat loss.

When shopping for a new furnace, keep in mind that the AFUE ratings for multispeed and variable-speed furnaces only determine the efficiency of the actual furnace. If you are upgrading your old, mid-efficiency furnace to a high-efficiency furnace, you should make sure that your Casey Key home is properly insulated and sealed.  You could also consider upgrading any older doors and windows to more efficient double-paned ones, or you can also install storm doors and windows.

Longboat Key Heating Maintenance Question: How Often Should I Replace My Furnace Filter?

Monday, January 9th, 2012

Just like the filter in your air conditioner, replacing your furnace filter is the key to a healthy and comfortable Longboat Key home. By keeping a good filter replacement schedule, you will reduce wear and tear to the furnace and keep your home warm, while keeping your family healthy and controlling energy costs all winter.

But when does your furnace filter need to be changed? Well, each system is different, but there are some general guidelines and recommendations to follow that can help you keep it all straight and stay on top of your furnace filter situation.

Conventional Wisdom

The long-standing rule of thumb on furnace filters is to change them every month. This is good practice if you are using older fiberglass filters, but for newer, more efficient filters, you should do it a little differently. These should be inspected and cleaned at least once a month, but you may need to replace them that frequently also.

Sometimes it is a little more complicated than these general guidelines, so it pays to be aware of some factors and conditions in your home that may affect how frequently you need to change your filter.

Things to Consider

As mentioned above, the first thing to consider is the efficiency of the filter. Because new filters are so efficient, when they get dirty or clogged with dust and debris, they actually restrict airflow, making your furnace bog down and work harder. So, it is important to stay on top of a monthly inspection and cleaning schedule with these filters.

Also take into account air quality and sources of allergens both inside and outside your home. If you live in an area with a lot of pollutants in the air, you’ll want to replace your filters often to keep those out of your home. If you own a lot of pets, the dander and hair will wind up in your furnace filter and you may have to replace it more often.

Complicated enough for you? It doesn’t have to be. Simplify the whole process by doing the following: check your filter monthly and be prepared to change it that often, clean high-efficiency filters regularly, replace the filter at least every three months and again at the start of heating season.

If you do those things at a minimum, you will be in pretty good shape.

Essential Components of a Gibsonton Home Comfort System

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

Indoor comfort is defined by several factors: temperature, humidity, and air quality. If any one of the three is out of the “normal” range it can affect the quality of life in your Gibsonton home.

The ultimate goal of any heating & cooling contractor is to ensure that customers are comfortable – meaning that all three factors are addressed when servicing, replacing, or installing new equipment in a home. This equipment includes furnaces and air conditioners but also extends to electronic filters, ultraviolet (UV) lighting, etc.

Obviously, the essential component for most U.S. households is a furnace. Air conditioners may not be essential for all parts of the U.S., namely the northern states, but are still considered an integral part of any home comfort system. Add-ons like electronic filters are important for controlling the air quality.

Let’s look at the furnace first. There are several choices but most can be found in two different classifications: single-stage or variable speed two-stage. Your choice depends on the indoor square footage, your own comfort needs, and possibly the cost of energy units (gas or electric for example). Forced air is a common method of moving heated air to all parts of the home via an air handling unit and through a duct system. But gaining in popularity is radiant heat (electric), which does not utilize a duct system.

Air conditioners also come in a variety of sizes, including window/room air conditioners or central air conditioning, which is likely a “split” system including an outdoor unit and indoor coil. The size of the air conditioner is determined by square footage, which is part of a load calculation performed by qualified heating & cooling contractors while planning the equipment replacement or new installation. An oversized air conditioner may produce high humidity levels and an undersized unit may not provide enough cooling to all areas of the home. High humidity levels contribute to higher indoor temperatures in the summer, and can also lead to respiratory problems.

If someone in your home has allergies or is sensitive to certain pollutants in the air, it may be important to include extra filtration in your heating & cooling system, such as electronic filtration and UV lighting mounted in the buildings duct system, to kill germs and contaminants.

And speaking of an essential component, duct systems are keys to maximizing efficiency and comfort. Properly sized, insulated, and sealed, the duct system is a key to comfortable, healthy indoor air – and energy efficiency. It is also important to keep your duct system clean, too.

As always, it is best to consult with a qualified and licensed heating and cooling contractor who can offer the best solutions for your home comfort system.

Harbour Heights Downflow Gas Furnace Tips

Monday, December 19th, 2011

Proper care of a downflow gas furnace starts with proper installation and continues through routine cleaning and maintenance. But before you can even have a downflow gas furnace installed, you need to make sure it’s the right fit for your Harbour Heights home.

Downflow gas furnaces are so named because of the direction that air flows through them. The cooler air is taken in at the top and directed downward, heating up as it travels, and then is expelled through the bottom of the furnace into ducts that feed the rest of the house. Because of this configuration, downflow  gas furnaces are typically installed in attics as opposed to basements.

If you have a basement and you’d rather install your furnace there, then an upflow furnace is probably the better choice for you. However, as many newer homes don’t have basements at all, downflow gas furnaces are growing in popularity and usefulness.

As with any other furnace, it’s important to have a downflow gas furnace professionally installed. This will ensure that the venting system is properly in place and that your house will be heated as effectively and efficiently as possible.

Of course, there are some other things you can do to help your furnace heat your home and keep your energy bills down. For instance, make sure you have proper insulation everywhere, particularly in the attic and crawlspaces where much of the normal heat loss in a home occurs.

You can also make your home more airtight in the winter by sealing up any unused windows and doors with plastic and making sure all storm windows are in place. Basically anyplace that a draft could develop, you could be losing heat and that costs you money. So to ensure that all of the money you’re spending to heat your house is actually going to that purpose, check periodically to make sure your home is still sealed up tight.

Also, just like any other type of furnace, a downflow gas furnace will require regular maintenance to make sure it continues to run efficiently and to replace any parts that may have worn out over time. Having a Harbour Heights professional technician come out once a year to carry out this type of service will wind up saving you a bunch of money and can help catch problems before they are able to get out of hand.