Understanding Your Air Conditioning Unit’s Seasonal Schedule

Regular AC seasonal maintenance keeps your appliance operating at top efficiency with indoor temperature and air quality controlled at comfortable levels. Depending on your air conditioner type and the climate zone you live in, your AC may be heavily used all year round or only during the summertime. Understanding your air conditioning unit’s seasonal schedule can help you lower energy bills and extend appliance life.

Why You Need a Seasonal Schedule for Your AC

Keeping your home temperature at optimum levels is entirely dependent on your HVAC equipment. If your air conditioning fails during hot weather, your indoor climate can become unbearable. The right time to schedule maintenance of your equipment is before peak season, when you may need it constantly.

Setting up an excellent seasonal schedule for your air conditioning unit will be centered around you and your family’s activities and needs in and out of the home. For example, during winter, you may want your reverse cycle air conditioning to start warming rooms 30 minutes before you’re due home from work. Likewise, you may want to begin cooling the house during summer at a very different start time. And if you happen to be working from home, you may need a completely different schedule to operate.

By controlling the duration that your cooling appliances run each day, you can minimize your energy costs. Equally, keeping your air conditioning unit running smoothly by scheduling AC seasonal maintenance can also save you money in the long run.

Using Smart Controls, Timers, and Programmable Thermostats for Different Seasons

Scheduling is easy with contemporary smart controls and programmable thermostats. However, it’s best if you first decide precisely when and for how long you want your AC unit to run each season. Energy usage is an area where you can almost certainly save money. The US Department of Energy states that you can save at least 10% off your energy bills by simply setting your thermostat back by seven to ten degrees for a few hours a day.

So, how might a programmable air conditioning schedule be set up? An example daily schedule could be as follows:

  • Turn off air conditioning 30 minutes before leaving home for work
  • Turn on the air conditioning unit 30 minutes before you’re due back home
  • Turn up the thermostat by 10 degrees 30 minutes before bedtime, and
  • Turn down the thermostat temperature setting by ten degrees when you’re expected to wake up.

Programmable thermostats and other smart controls allow you to set multiple daily settings and daily and weekly schedules. So, for instance, you can have a plan for Monday to Friday with a different set of timings for the weekend. You’ll just need to change the schedules seasonally.

Do Different Types of Air Conditioning Units Need Different Maintenance Schedules?

Taking control of your energy use involves you understanding how your specific type of air conditioning equipment operates and its maintenance requirements. Professional servicing is recommended at least annually for split systems, central air conditioning, portable units, and wall-mounted units.

On the other hand, a reverse cycle unit may be heavily used for most of the year and need two separate services. Preparing for warm weather means giving the appliance a thorough clean, removing debris, and ensuring no blockages to air vents. Winter maintenance is similar but emphasizes lubrication so that parts continue to operate during freezing weather.

There’s one thing that all types of air conditioners share in terms of AC seasonal maintenance, and that is to have air filters regularly changed. When in use, it’s recommended that the filters be changed every 90 days.

What Should be Done During AC Seasonal Maintenance?

When you hire a professional air conditioning company in Northern Virginia to service your equipment, you should expect the following:

  •  Fins inspected and cleaned
  •  Indoor and outdoor coils inspected and cleaned
  •  Drain lines flushed
  •  Drain pans and piping checked
  • Thermostat and controls checked and adjusted where required
  •  Bearings and motors lubricated
  •  Filters are checked and changed if necessary, and
  •  Loose electrical connections tightened.

You should also expect that service by technicians is carried out courteously and professionally.

Increase Your Air Conditioning Units Lifespan

Neglecting AC seasonal maintenance will result in your air conditioning equipment deteriorating, becoming inefficient, and eventually failing. At Briggs HVAC in Northern Virginia, we have built a solid reputation for quick and thorough air conditioning service and repairs. Get in touch to see how our scheduled maintenance plans can extend the life of your heating and cooling equipment.

How to Keep Your AC Working in Summer Heat

How to Keep Your AC Working in Summer Heat

Are you a Woodbridge resident that’s looking for ways to ensure your family’s comfort during each season? Are you especially worried about the summer heat and whether or not your air conditioning system can be counted on?

If so, then you need to learn all that you can about how to keep your AC working in the summer heat. Doing so can help you extend the life of your air conditioning system and ensure a cool climate all summer long!

See below for an in-depth guide on how to keep your air conditioner unit working, even when the intense summer heat is upon you.

1. Change Your Air Filter Often

Most homeowners just assume that the condition of their air conditioning system is out of their control. They believe that AC repair services are the only ones that have a part to play in how long the system lasts. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

There’s one simple thing you can do to ensure the functionality of your AC unit for the long haul: change your air filter often. Air filters help block out any dirt or dust from getting inside your AC system and cycled through your house once more.

But as the filter catches those dust and dirt particles, the filter itself gets too thick to suck air through. This forces your air conditioning system to work harder to cycle air through the system at the same rate.

Since it’s already working harder to keep the climate at your desired temperature during the hot months of winter, a dirty air filter can cause your hvac unit to break down.

Make sure that you’re generous with how frequently you change your air filter during the summer months. Set up a mental reminder for every time to replace your filter directly after you pay your mortgage or rent each month.

2. Schedule Routine HVAC Maintenance

Of course, not all of the burden has to fall on you for extending the life of your AC system. You should plan to have a professional oversee the condition and maintenance of your entire HVAC system regularly.

Take the time to schedule and hire a professional HVAC maintenance service to provide all of the necessary tasks that your air conditioning system requires. This will guarantee that you don’t experience any major setbacks all summer long.

At Briggs Heating and Cooling, we offer routine inspections that include:

  • Lubricate all bearings and motors
  • Inspect for any potential obstructions within the overall system
  • Assess the current condition of the system
  • Clean outdoor coils, piping, and evaporator drain to prevent clogs and leaks
  • Analyze the electrical components of the system, such as connections and voltage draw

The list goes on and on. We take pride in identifying any potential issues before they disrupt you and your family’s comfort. Once we find them, we take measures to fix them and/or prevent them as quickly as possible.

For best results, we recommend scheduling a maintenance visit every spring and fall, to make sure the HVAC system is running efficiently when you need it most.

3. Keep Your Thermostat at a Reasonable Temperature

Virginia summers can be brutal. We completely understand why you might be tempted to lower the temperature in your house to a very cool temp. However, setting it too low can compromise the efficiency of your system.

We recommend that you keep in somewhere between the 68º to 72º Fahrenheit window. You can do this by setting your programmable thermostat to the temperature you want, and by putting the fan speed on auto. This will ensure that your entire family is comfortable, while also giving your HVAC system time to breathe.

The lower the temperature that you set it at, the more energy that your HVAC system has to burn through to achieve it. Setting it in the predetermined temperature range might also help you save on your energy bill from month to month.

If you set the temperature to low, then there’s a change the AC system never gets it down to your desired temp. That means your system will be running non-stop, which can quickly lead to it overheating.

4. Control the Natural Lighting

Who doesn’t enjoy natural lighting in their home? It provides a beautiful light source that’s easy to look at and makes your home feel more spacious. It can also provide you with several health benefits!

However, it can quickly take a toll on your HVAC system during the middle of summer, if you’re not careful. The UV rays seeping into your home will quickly raise the temperature in the house, forcing your AC system to combat it.

The trick is to regulate natural light throughout the day. Be selective about the blinds that you open. If you feel one room getting too warm, close the blinds to provide your system some relief.

5. Up Your Insulation

Contrary to popular belief, insulation isn’t just for trapping in heat. It serves both sides to the same coin: keeping cool air in and blocking hot air from seeping inside your home.

If you have sufficient insulation in your walls, but still notice that the temperature is sliding in your home, then it means the cool air is escaping elsewhere. The most common area is the ceiling if your attic isn’t properly insulated.

Investing in more insulation can also help lower your energy bill each month, as it will retain the same temperature for longer, requiring your system to turn on less often.

Keep Your AC Working This Summer With These Tips

Now that you have seen all of the different ways that you can keep your AC working during the harsh summer months, be sure to use these tips to your advantage.

Be sure to read this article for more information on the 7 ways to avoid hot and cold spots within your home.

For more inquiries, please be sure to visit our A/C maintenance page and we will be happy to assist you further.

7 Questions to Ask an HVAC Service Provider Before Hiring One

Not all HVAC companies are created equal. It’s wise to make inquiries before getting your expensive home heating or cooling equipment repaired or serviced. Here are seven questions to ask an HVAC service provider before hiring one.

1. How Many Years of Experience Does Your HVAC Company Have?

Before you hire, a core question to ask is how long the HVAC company has been operating. If they’ve been in business for several years, it’s a good indicator they know what they’re doing. Poorly performing HVAC service provider companies don’t usually last long, incurring bad reviews, adverse press reports, and facing litigation by angry consumers. These impacts tend to eventually force bad players out of the industry.

What About Experience with My System?

Another question to add on here is ‘What experience do you have with my specific heating and cooling equipment?’ It may not be a deal-breaker if they don’t have experience with your equipment, as skilled technicians should be capable of working with almost any system. But it does provide some comfort where they have relevant know-how.

2. What Certifications and Qualifications Do Your Company and Employees Have?

You don’t want unqualified HVAC technicians working on your system, as the risk of your expensive equipment being damaged is too high. So, check to see that the company and their staff hold the appropriate licenses. In Virginia, HVAC contractors must get a state license issued by the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation.

3. As an HVAC Service Provider, What Service Guarantee Do You Give?

Customer-focused organizations give service guarantees, not just on equipment they sell and install but also on their labor. Ask the company what they will do if you’re not happy with the standard of service you receive.

Hey, What About Insurance?

Another question for HVAC service companies is, ‘Are you fully insured for any accidents, faulty parts, or mistakes that may happen?’ Even the best of technicians can make mistakes now and then, and you should be assured that you won’t be out of pocket if anything goes wrong. Ask them what guarantee will be written into the contract or order if you go ahead with their services.

4. Another Question for HVAC Service Companies — Do You Give Free Estimates?

Before you decide whether to hire an HVAC service provider, getting a free estimate is an essential part of your evaluation. Get at least two quotes from different companies and check the differences between the quotes. The lowest quote isn’t necessarily the one to go with, as you also need to consider the experience and skillsets of the service technicians. But the quote must be market competitive.

5. Do you have a maintenance program?

It can be tempting to leave service calls out of the equation until something goes wrong with your HVAC. Unfortunately, that will probably cost you more than if you’d had preventative maintenance in place. Getting your heating and cooling equipment serviced regularly is the best way to detect minor problems before they become large ones. This service prevents unnecessary significant repair costs and helps extend the life of your system. Check with the HVAC service provider, whether they have maintenance plans and what the prices are.

6. Can You Help Me with Finance Options If Needed?

Depending on why you need HVAC service, you may want to know about access to finance options upfront. For example, if there’s a strong chance that repairs or a new system could be beyond your budget at the moment, access to credit may be the right choice. Having peace of mind about being able to afford whatever is needed is important. Some companies provide a pre-qualified financial service. This service should quickly show you the amount you can borrow along with monthly repayments. Armed with this information, you can decide whether this option is best or whether you will need to seek out other financial options.

7. Do You Provide Emergency Services?

A valuable question for HVAC service companies is whether they provide a good level of emergency service. There’s nothing worse than knowing that if your newly repaired or installed system breaks down, you may be waiting for some time before help arrives. You need to know that the technicians who have done the work and know the intimate repair details will be available when you urgently need them. And this is particularly so where breakdown may happen in severe weather events.

Got More HVAC Service Provider Questions?

So, how is your intended HVAC service provider stacking up against all these questions? If they’ve answered to your satisfaction, you should be well placed to make that hiring decision.

At Briggs HVAC, we pride ourselves on our experience, competitive pricing, and after-care service in North Virginia. We’ll happily answer any questions you need answered and give you a free quote for HVAC maintenance and repairs.

Why Seasonal HVAC Calls Are Important to the Life of Your Unit

Like many things in life, getting around to regular household upkeep can be tiresome. Spring cleaning, clearing roof gutters, garden tidy-ups, and seasonal HVAC maintenance are such typical chores. They easily slip from the mind and move into “I’ll do that a bit later” territory. However, as with all home upkeep, regular maintenance is key to protecting your important assets. That’s why it’s essential to plan and schedule maintenance at the correct intervals.

How Seasonal HVAC Calls Can Extend the Life of Your HVAC

Your HVAC is a significant value home asset and worth protecting. Failure to keep your HVAC in tip-top condition by not doing regular maintenance at least annually causes premature breakdown. Parts that might have only needed tightening, oiling, or a light cleaning will corrode or fail as time passes.

You want your HVAC to last as long as practical so that you’re not shelling out for expensive repairs or a new system before time. For example, well-cared-for air conditioners can last between 12 to 15 years, while furnaces can have about 20 years. A little TLC by professional HVAC technicians carrying out preventive maintenance can help extend equipment lifespans.

The Best Time of the Year to Schedule Seasonal HVAC Calls

The heating and cooling components of your HVAC are most heavily used at different times of the year. As such, it’s best to do preventive maintenance at differing times for these major parts.

Air Conditioning

Early spring is considered the best time of the year to schedule maintenance and repairs for air conditioning units. This service call will have your equipment running at peak efficiency when needed in summer. It’s a good idea not to leave the service call till hot weather begins. You may find difficulties booking a service as the heat will have prompted many others to do the same.

Furnaces

The end of summer or the beginning of autumn is the recommended time to have your furnace serviced. Preventive maintenance at this time leaves plenty of wriggle room for any necessary repairs or replacement equipment before winter chill arrives.

Preventive Maintenance Plans

Many HVAC maintenance and repair companies offer annual preventive maintenance plans. These plans save you the hassle of scheduling service calls as the maintenance company takes this on. In addition, they will draw up plans showing you what equipment inspections and tune-up tasks will be done for each service call.

Other Benefits of Seasonal HVAC Maintenance

While aiming to extend the life of your HVAC system, there are several other benefits your household will receive from a well-tuned, optimized system. These include:

  1.   Achieving lower energy consumption and consequently receiving lower energy bills
  2.   Keeping mold and other fungi and bacteria from taking hold in ducts and other components, therefore maintaining healthy air quality in your home
  3.   Preventing HVAC failure at critical times (i.e., a well-maintained system should keep powering on through most weather events, even the worst that winter throws around)
  4.       Meeting warranty conditions for equipment maintenance. Manufacturers or retailers then have no excuses to refrain from repairing or replacing equipment as necessary.

What Can You Expect at a Seasonal HVAC Call?

Qualified HVAC technicians should have checklists for HVAC items to be inspected, re-calibrated, cleaned, replaced, topped up, and tested. You can expect that most parts of the cooling or heating system will be looked at, with particular attention paid to parts showing wear and tear.

Air Conditioning

Essential maintenance for air conditioning units should include:

  • changing the air filters
  • ensuring vents are clear
  • inspecting the thermostat controls and temperature accuracy
  • oiling any moving parts
  • checking drainage for condensation
  • cleaning and adjusting blowers, and
  • testing the overall unit.

If the air conditioner has both indoor and outdoor components, the technician will check and test both of these.

Furnaces

Much the same maintenance aspects will be carried out for the furnace, though checking the flue for obstructions and overall condition is an additional task. If necessary, the technician will clear off dirt and debris and vacuum inside the unit.

Heat Pumps

Heat pumps do both cooling and heating. The HVAC technician’s maintenance of heat pumps will include duct cleaning, a furnace check, and inspection and cleaning of the outdoor unit.

North Virginia HVAC Maintenance and Repairs

Besides the most straightforward Inspection and maintenance tasks (such as changing air filters), homeowners should rely on HVAC technicians. HVAC systems are too complex and dangerous for the unskilled to attempt repairs.

If you need expert advice about seasonal HVAC maintenance or any other issues related to home comfort, talk to us at Briggs. We provide cooling and heating services across northern Virginia, including attending to after-hours emergencies.

7 Common HVAC Maintenance Mistakes to Avoid for Homeowners

Did you know that the typical household consumes a lot, about 877 kWh every month? That’s a lot of energy for a single household!

One of the significant contributors to your energy bill is your residential HVAC system. While it is impossible to dismiss your HVAC system’s power usage, you can maintain it instead. 

It all boils down to regular HVAC maintenance. Preservation is crucial, but several homeowners wind up making HVAC maintenance mistakes. Air conditioning is very much beneficial in the extreme heat of summer. 

Maintaining your AC system is not only about switching on and off. Doing the correct process of working your AC will make you save money on repairs and electricity bills. So, here are seven common HVAC maintenance mistakes and how to avoid them:

1. Not Monitoring Your Filters

Once in a while, life keeps hold of us, and we neglect even the easiest of jobs. For instance, replacing or cleaning the AC filter every month. Depending on your filter, you have to either clean it or replace it weekly or monthly. 

All outdoor HVAC units carry air from outside your house into the unit and bring it into your home. It maintains and cleans the air all the time.

However, it could mean that any debris, allergens, and dust in the air outdoors can come inside your home. This is why advanced systems have a sequence of filters set to capture those impurities.

The longer your unit works, the more contaminants and dust those filters will trap. For most residents, filters should get checked and renewed once every quarter. 

Ignoring filthy filters doesn’t only harm your home’s air quality, but it also causes your HVAC to run harder. Filter replacement is necessary to keep your residential HVAC system work with ease. 

2. Disregarding Weird Noises

All air conditioners produce noises when it starts up. After having the system for a few weeks, you can identify the familiar sound and which are unusual. You should not dismiss any weird sounds. 

In truth, they’re a sure warning that your unit requires restoration without delay. By ignoring indications of harm, there’s a risk that your HVAC will unfold more severe issues.

The high risk is that it could stop working completely. When you hear weird sounds, it is necessary to arrange a repair date at the earliest time.

3. Adjusting the Thermal Real Low

Once you go inside, your first move might be to lower your thermal switch. We all like to walk into a cool house, and when dog days hit, we need relief right away. Regardless, one of the HVAC maintenance mistakes householders make is adjusting the thermal so low. 

We recommend setting your thermostat on 70 to 78 degrees for the ideal performance. In truth, your AC works hard when you drop the temperature, no matter if you drop it by one degree or even twenty degrees. It’s best to set your thermostat to a certain temperature, and not when you want your home to be colder and not lower than you want to.

4. Having an Obsolete System

Despite repairing HVAC units, in due course, you will have to replace them. In truth, the standard AC system has a 15 years lifespan with proper maintenance. When your system ages, it will begin to have difficulty providing the best quality and work less effectively. 

Using that old HVAC unit in your home is not a good idea. When your system is almost 15 years old or gets older than that, you shouldn’t wait.

Buy a new HVAC unit as soon as you’re able. The earlier you do, the earlier your energy bill will lessen, and the cozier your house will be.

5. Not Having Regular Tune-Ups

Whenever your air conditioner starts up, the elements experience deterioration. Regular tune-ups will help maintain your system running and lessen more costly upkeep through the years. Even if you think your unit is working without trouble, it does not mean it’s in its best condition. 

Ac systems typically require tune-ups at least twice a year to run better. Not getting routine AC system tune-ups is a quick way to reduce the life cycle of your unit and raise your chance of sudden malfunctions.

6. Neglecting to Clean Your Air Ducts

Your air ducts can gather a lot of debris and dust throughout the year. Whenever your AC unit turns on, the air gets pushed into those ducts and through your house. Any debris and dirt trapped in the ducts will get sent around your home anytime the AC system turns on.

While it doesn’t affect your AC’s efficiency, we recommend having your air ducts clean once monthly. It will give you high indoor air quality. The purer your air, the less you and your family will have allergies and other conditions.

7. Selecting Repair Technicians Due to Cost 

Each AC unit will demand repairs in the long run. Still, it’s essential to look around and get an appraisal from various HVAC contractors and not choose based on the cost alone. If it comes to the excellence of fixes, you can get the value for your money. 

Picking a contractor that gives the lowest charge often receives poor quality work. Instead, select a contractor with skill on your type of HVAC and stand near their task each time. You may pay a bit more, but you’ll get good service, and you don’t have to pay for a similar repair two times.

Prevent Making HVAC Maintenance Mistakes

Doing usual maintenance is the best way to lengthen the life of your HVAC unit. Acustom yourself to these common HVAC maintenance mistakes and avoid making them; if you’re troubled about your unit or realized that you’d made some of these mistakes, set up an appointment when you are able.

Need help with your HVAC system? Our crew is here to assist you at Briggs heating and cooling to keep your house comfy all year round. So contact us today if you need to set up a preventive maintenance tune-up for any air conditioning or heating emergency.

 

An Overview of the Most Common HVAC Repairs

It pays to invest in a quality heat, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system for your residence. 

HVAC systems control the climate of your home to make the interior more comfortable, improve air quality by regulating airflow, and much more. But no matter how much money you spend to get a quality unit, you’ll need to perform routine maintenance and get any needed HVAC repairs to make the most of your investment.

What follows is a look at common HVAC repairs that many homeowners face.

Dirty Filters Can Lead to HVAC Repairs

It’s important to get into the habit of changing your air filters on a routine basis. This means at least once every three months — and that’s the minimum. If the filters are left in place for too long, that will lead to issues.

Dirty filters will prevent air from flowing through. In addition to limiting airflow, a dirty filter might also cause your HVAC system to freeze. So you can prevent some serious issues by getting your filter changed regularly.

Refrigerant Leaks

Refrigerant leaks are also common HVAC problems that homeowners experience. When this problem rears its ugly head, your system won’t work properly. The temperature will go up and down like a roller coaster.

One thing to keep in mind is that the leaks can occur in different sections of the HVAC system. The location will factor into the cost of an HVAC system repair. A skilled technician will be able to do the diagnosis and repair.

Fuses or Breakers

It’s not uncommon for fuses or breakers to fail in HVAC systems. The fuses and breakers are critical since they are supposed to keep the air conditioner compressor or motor from getting excessively hot.

If you have problems with the fuses or breakers — whichever ones your unit comes with — the end result can be a failed motor. Getting routine maintenance can potentially prevent this problem from occurring.

Thermostat

Another common problem that will require HVAC service is a faulty thermostat. You can do a little troubleshooting on your own first to see if the problem can be easily corrected.

This means checking, first of all, to ensure that the thermostat is still on. It’s possible that someone might have accidentally switched it off. Besides that, you will want to check to see if the thermostat was programmed properly.

 

If these quick fixes don’t resolve your HVAC issues, you’ll want to contact an HVAC technician to have a look and to fix the problems.

Ignition System

Other issues that will warrant HVAC system repair include ignition problems. If you have issues with your ignition system, you will want to have an HVAC technician check out your system’s pilots, sensors, and burners.

The HVAC technician may only need to install new parts to your ignition system to get your unit working at its optimal capacity.

Frozen Components

When it gets cold outside, HVAC issues you could experience include frozen internal components. For instance, the water in the lines and coils could freeze. This frozen water will expand and may cause damage.

 

It’s important that you don’t drag your feet if you believe that any part of your HVAC unit has frozen parts. The faster you book a service call with an HVAC system technician, the better for your peace of mind and wallet.

Mechanical Issues

While a quality HVAC system will last for years, you’ll eventually need to replace it. But you’ll get even more use out of it if you maintain it and replace any parts that either are failing or have already failed.

Mechanical components will only last so long before you need to replace them. If you’re booking service calls for ongoing maintenance, you’ll be able to stay on top of things so that you don’t experience total system failure.

Blower Won’t Shut Off

Another issue that will warrant an HVAC system repair is if your HVAC blower runs and runs and runs without shutting off. 

Before panicking, you should check to ensure that no one in your household selected the thermostat’s fan position. Doing so will result in the fan running non-stop. But if this is not the case, your best bet is to call a technician. 

Water Leaks

Water leaks are another possible problem that can occur with HVAC units. It’s important to know that such units do come with drain pipes designed to facilitate necessary water drainage.

But what should you do if water is leaking from someplace other than the drain pipes? You will want to figure out exactly where the leak is coming from. An HVAC technician will be able to diagnose and fix the problem.

Strange Sounds

If you hear odd sounds coming from your HVAC system, you’ll undoubtedly and understandably be concerned. If there are strange sounds, chances are that there is some internal problem that needs to be looked into.

Something might need to be replaced or something might need to be tightened up. Whatever the reasons for the problem, you’ll want to get a professional to conduct a full assessment.

Do You Need HVAC Repairs?

If you want to keep your HVAC system in good working order, you’ll want to ensure it’s properly maintained. You’ll also want to get any needed HVAC repairs done sooner rather than later.

By so doing, you can save money and save yourself from needless frustration. Who, after all, wants their HVAC system to fail them because of a lack of proper maintenance and repairs?

When you need to have your HVAC system maintained or repaired, get in touch with us at Briggs HVAC. Our technicians will keep your system running so that you and your family get the service you want from your HVAC unit.

 

Your HVAC System Could Be Making You Sick

When you or members of your household start experiencing respiratory symptoms, it’s easy to blame the weather, seasonal allergies, or even other people’s germs. However, it’s always a good idea to inspect your HVAC unit. We routinely take this system for granted so long as it’s heating and cooling our homes optimally, but HVAC systems can impact our health in various ways. Here, we’ll explore how aspects of HVAC systems can detract from our health as well as what to do about it. 

HVAC Leaks

HVAC system leaks can be extremely detrimental to health. If you have a gas or oil furnace for heating your home, you should install a reliable carbon monoxide detector. A carbon monoxide leak can be deadly. As your furnace burns fuel, carbon monoxide is a naturally occurring byproduct of the heating process. When your heating unit is operating properly, that carbon monoxide is contained within the heat exchanger and then vented safely outdoors through the flue and vent. Sometimes, though, the heat exchanger can develop a crack that allows this dangerous gas to leak out. A problem with the venting system can also lead to this dangerous type of leaking as well. 

Unfortunately, many people don’t suspect that carbon monoxide is leaking because it’s odorless. The most symptoms that people may experience are flu-like symptoms such as nausea and headache. However, if you’re asleep, you may not feel any symptoms. This is why it’s so important to have a carbon monoxide detector. People can easily dismiss flu symptoms in winter, thinking they are coming down with the virus. Another helpful way to prevent this problem is to have your furnace inspected each year before the cold season. 

Also, if you suspect that your furnace is not functioning properly and is at risk for a carbon monoxide leak, open the windows of your home and call for emergency HVAC service. While the flu symptoms might quickly disappear, you may still wish to contact your healthcare provider, especially if you feel faint or severely unwell.

Headaches

Headaches are a common health complaint that can have many causes, including seasonal allergies, stress, insomnia, and illnesses like the cold or flu. If you come down with a headache and can’t quite attribute it to these issues, it could be caused by your air conditioning system. In fact, headaches and disease are associated with a problem known as ‘sick building syndrome.’ Central air conditioning systems, especially when set to a low temperature, can disrupt the building or home’s moisture levels. Typically, you can combat this problem by turning your thermostat up. It’s also a good idea to take breaks from your indoor setting and step outside periodically for fresh air.

Respiratory Complaints

Dirty vents and HVAC systems can trigger breathing difficulties. Once bacteria, allergens, and fungi multiply in your vents, they can be difficult to remove without professional HVAC maintenance. Dirty vents can substantially reduce the air quality of your home’s interior. If anyone in your household suffers from conditions like allergies or asthma, they may experience more frequent attacks. 

With periodic HVAC inspections and maintenance solutions like filter changing and air duct cleaning, you can eliminate this problem, ensuring that everyone in your home breathes easier. If you’re experiencing these health symptoms now, you can also get an indoor air quality inspection that can determine precisely where the triggers are coming from.

Itchy, Watery Eyes

Itchy, watery eyes are a common symptom of allergies. However, if you experience them at a time of year when you typically don’t, it could be a sign that your HVAC system ducts are dirty or have developed a leak that is allowing the offending particulates into your breathable air. On the other hand, your system could be removing too much moisture from the air. This may also trigger itchy, watery eyes. Invite your HVAC contractor over to perform an inspection. You may need some aspect of your unit adjusted to achieve better moisture balance. You might also need to introduce a good-quality humidifier to your home. 

Skin Irritation

Skin irritations, especially dry, itchy skin, can be caused by your HVAC system if it pulls out too much moisture. Rather than lathering up with lotions, it’s a good idea to use a humidifier. In fact, this issue can show up in the winter when your heating system is in full force or in summer when your air conditioning system is working overtime to beat the heat. In fact, the more time we spend indoors in our temperature-controlled climates, the more commonplace these skin irritations can be. If you have a chronic skin condition such as eczema or psoriasis, it can also become exacerbated when your interior air is too dry. 

A humidifier can be a great help in these situations. If you’re especially plagued by itchy, dry skin, consider using a portable humidifier in your bedroom as you sleep each night to help clear up this condition. Your HVAC provider should have whole-home humidifier solutions they can recommend. 

Stress

Is your HVAC unit stressing you out? Chronic stress is no joke, and if your unit is beginning to experience frequent breakdowns, especially during the middle of winter or summer when you need them to function optimally the most, you may feel troubled about the ongoing expense as well as the even greater expense that comes with a unit replacement. Alleviate your stress by consulting with a trusted HVAC professional. That way, you can get a clear idea about the condition of your unit and get help making a decision about whether to continue to repair an older unit or replace it. You may even be able to rely on financing options if you need to install a new unit. 

 

Don’t let your HVAC unit sabotage your health or peace of mind. Contact Briggs HVAC to have your system thoroughly inspected. Irritants like mold and allergens will only continue to plague your health if they aren’t addressed. And, a carbon monoxide leak is a life-threatening problem emergency that should be dealt with by your HVAC contractor immediately. Contact us to learn about our comprehensive HVAC maintenance, repair, and replacement services. 

 

8 Warning Signs You Need Air Conditioning Repair Services

As the weather gets warmer, there are endless opportunities for enjoying the beautiful weather. But after a long day out in the sun, you need to cool off ASAP. Your home should be in a comfortable climate at all times to stave off dehydration, heat exhaustion, and other problems. Keeping your home properly air-conditioned can also help improve the air quality of your living space and even keep mold and mildew at bay.

If your AC system hasn’t been functioning at its best recently, it may be time to call for professional air conditioning repair. The sooner you have Briggs HVAC perform repairs on your AC unit, the sooner you can return to a safe and comfortable living environment. Here are 8 major warning signs that you need air conditioning repair in Northern Virginia.

1. Insufficient Airflow

Airflow says a lot about the quality of your HVAC system. The air coming out of your AC unit should be powerful enough to cool your entire home. If it isn’t, you will likely feel a difference in the climate of your home.

There are multiple causes of insufficient airflow. Some of the most common culprits include a blocked air filter, a broken motor, leaks in the ductwork and a malfunctioning AC blower. Be sure to call a professional immediately to have the problem diagnosed correctly.

2. High Humidity

When you come back inside from the hot, sticky weather, you want to feel cool and refreshed. If you find that your home is just as humid as your backyard, this usually means something is wrong with your AC system. Your air conditioning unit should automatically regulate the humidity levels in your home when it’s working properly.

High humidity can trigger mold growth, allergic reactions, and other issues. It’s crucial to call for air conditioning repair as soon as possible to keep your home environment safe and comfortable for everyone.

3. Warm Air

If warm air is blowing out of your AC unit, this is a sure sign that your system is in need of repair. This could mean that your compressor isn’t cooling the air correctly or that your air conditioner is running out of refrigerant. No matter what the issue is, be sure to have a skilled Briggs HVAC technician look at your unit to get to the root of the problem.

4. High Utility Bills

If air conditioning problems persist for long enough, you might have to pay the price. High utility bills are a common consequence of faulty HVAC infrastructure. While it’s normal to experience higher costs in the summer months, it’s important to note any spikes in your utility bills that seemingly have no reason behind them. This could be a warning sign that it’s time to call for air conditioning repair right away.

5. Age of Your Air Conditioner

The age of your air conditioning system can also impact its effectiveness. You can expect a well-maintained unit to last 12-17 years on average. Once your air conditioner surpasses its seventeenth birthday, it’s likely that you’ll start experiencing problems.

Minor problems can usually be fixed with professional air conditioning repair. However, if you find that your HVAC system is constantly running into issues, you may be better off replacing the entire unit. This can help you significantly cut down on costs in the long run.

6. Excess Moisture

Not all air conditioning problems are visible. However, excess moisture around your unit is one of the most evident signs that something is wrong. This may point to a condensate leak, which is typically the result of a blocked or broken drain line. A more serious type of leak is a refrigerant leak, which can be hazardous to humans. It’s crucial to call for help immediately to prevent your HVAC unit from harming you or your loved ones.

7. Unusual Noises

It’s normal for air conditioners to make a little bit of noise as they turn on and shut off. However, loud, strange noises are often a cause for concern. If you hear buzzing and rattling, this usually means that a part of your AC system has come loose. Whistling and grinding, on the other hand, are telltale signs that there’s inadequate airflow or a problem with the compressor.

Don’t try to ignore these noises if they appear. Many unusual sounds are an indication of a bigger problem, and the best way to handle the issue is to seek out professional attention.

8. Unpleasant Odors

Unpleasant odors are another common sign that it’s time to schedule air conditioning repair. There are many different smells that can come from your air conditioners, such as chemical smells, burning or electrical odors, and musty smells. Burning or electrical smells often point to a problem with the electrical wiring or the insulation around your AC unit. Alternatively, musty odors are usually an indication of mold hiding in your system. This can become dangerous if the unit starts to spread mold spores throughout your home.

It’s important to address this issue as soon as it appears. A highly trained professional at Briggs HVAC can identify the specific problem at hand and issue the right kind of treatment for your needs.

Keep Your AC in Top Condition With Air Conditioning Repair

There’s no telling when something will go wrong with your air conditioning system. If you notice that anything has gone awry, be sure to trust your instincts and call for help as soon as you can. A skilled professional can handle these issues and others in a quick and efficient manner. The next time you’re in need of air conditioning repair in Northern Virginia, don’t hesitate to give Briggs HVAC a call to get your system up and running again.

A Complete Guide on When to Use a Dehumidifier

Your Complete Pre-Winter HVAC Checklist

Before winter sets in and your days get colder, make sure your HVAC unit functions properly. After all, you wouldn’t want to be trapped with a failed furnace when winters get chillier and temperature plummets. A detailed HVAC checklist will keep you safe and warm. It involves a few things that you can check yourself and others for which you’ll need a skilled professional. If you aren’t sure what to add to this list, here are the top things to do:

Check and Clean the Filters

Your HVAC needs thorough dusting before you resume its use in winters. It involves cleaning the filters before reactivating the unit. During the fall, the filters and ducts collect a lot of dust and grime when they are not in use.

You may clean the filters with a damp cloth and replace them every 3-6 months to prevent contaminated air from entering your home. When cleaning the filters, look deeply for any leakages too. If you find any, call your HVAC contractor immediately to fix the issue.

Start the Thermostat and Check the Heater

Even before you start carving the pumpkins for upcoming holidays, remember to switch your thermostat from cooling to heating. It will set the temperature a bit higher than the current room temperature. When you turn the thermostat on, listen closely for the sound of heat kicking in.

If it doesn’t make any noise and connections look secure, check the power source to see if the unit is turned on. And call a professional if it still doesn’t work because there may be an issue with the blower, heat pump, or furnace fan that’s better handled by a certified technician.

Check the Furnace

Add furnace checkups and tune-up to your HVAC checklist to keep your unit working efficiently. Clear the clutter around the furnace and make sure it has a few feet of open space on all sides.

When checking the furnace, use a flashlight to see if any critters or rodents have made their home inside it. If so, clean up the area or call a professional to do the chore.

Check the Humidifier

When you run the furnace, it may dry out the air. Hence, keeping the furnace humid is essential in the winters. That’s what a humidifier does. If you have a humidifier in your unit, clean its water panel and check that it has no mold growth or debris inside it.

Also, replace the carbon monoxide detector batteries to protect your unit from any unexpected furnace mishaps. Change the batteries every year and test the unit for its proper functioning after the battery change.

Winterize the AC Unit

In your HVAC checklist, make it a point to winterize your AC unit against winter elements. It will save you hundreds of dollars spent on AC repairs when summer gets back.

If your HVAC doesn’t have a heat pump, cover the condenser, so falling icicles won’t damage it. Cover the fan with a board instead of wrapping it in a plastic tarp that keeps the moisture inside.

Don’t Forget Draught Proofing

Though it may seem inconsequential, draught-proofing your home is essential for the proper functioning of your HVAC system. Any cracks or spaces in the walls, windows, and doorways can let the air escape and impede heat circulation inside the home. As a result, your unit might end up overworking itself.

Check and Clean the Heat Exchanger

Your HVAC checklist isn’t complete unless you add regular brushing and vacuuming the heat exchanger. However, this task should be entrusted to a skilled professional who can look for any cracks or leakages.

Check and Clean the Ducts

If the heating ducts gather dust or get damaged, your system will be overworked, increasing the utility bills and harming the air quality. Hence, inspect the ducts before winter starts and look for dents, mold, mildew, punctures, or broken wires. Though you can examine it yourself, call a professional for repairing or replacing the ducts properly.

Install a Programmable Thermostat

You can customize the temperature settings in your house with a programmable thermostat. It will allow setting the temperature back by 7-10 degrees F when you are asleep or not at home.

Experts also suggest keeping your house warm at 68 degrees during the day or whenever you’re at home. So, if you don’t have a programmable or Wi-Fi-enabled thermostat yet, it’s time to call your HVAC contractor to install one.

Change the Direction of Ceiling Fans

Mostly, the ceiling fans have a switch that allows you to change your blades’ direction to rotate clockwise. This way, the fans will push warm air down in the room and circulate the heat from the furnace throughout your house.

Check the Chimneys

The chimney’s flue is another item to inspect in your HVAC checklist. Make sure that it is properly closed to prevent drafty air. Sometimes, the chimney may harbor carbon buildup that needs to be cleaned well. Call a certified professional for chimney tune-ups and cleaning before you build the blaze in your fireplace.

Check the Igniter Switch

If the igniter in your HVAC system isn’t working, push the reset button. However, if it still doesn’t switch on, check the breaker or call a technician to examine the igniter switch and circuit breaker in your house.

Schedule a Professional Tune-Up

You can’t overlook the importance of a professional tune-up and inspection in your HVAC checklist. You may fix and check the smaller issues, but system faults, boiler issues, replacements, and draught-proofing are some specialized tasks best managed by certified professionals. Schedule a pre-winter inspection with your HVAC contractor to ensure that your unit is ready for the season.

Winters bring a lot of change to your outside temperature, your home, and your lifestyle. Cleaning your spaces to improve air quality is essential alongside this HVAC checklist to stay warm and protected inside your home.

With a professional examination, you can find and fix minor issues before they compound into a serious problem down the road.