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.

Air Balancing: 7 Ways to Avoid Hot and Cold Spots in Your Home

Did you know that the average American spends 87% of their lives indoors? This means that indoor comfort is of the utmost importance when you’re in your home.

This is typically achieved through your air conditioning and heating system. However, things can go wrong, which can really decrease your comfort.

To help you out, here are 7 ways to do air balancing in your home. That way, you can avoid hot and cold spots.

1. Check Your Air Filters

All HVAC systems have air filters. These are there to eliminate impurities in the air so you breathe in good quality oxygen.

However, over time, they can become clogged. This process can be accelerated if there’s been something detrimental in the environment, such as a forest fire nearby.

It’s important to either clean and/or replace your air filters regularly. This is one of the most important things to do when it comes to HVAC air balancing. Not only will this provide you with better quality air more frequently, but it’ll also help prolong the lifespan of your HVAC system.

And most importantly, it’ll get rid of hot and cold spots, plus keep your utility bills down. In fact, it can reduce your energy consumption by up to 15%!

2. Check Your Registers

The registers are what block or allow air to flow from your HVAC vents. One key piece of advice is to never completely close all vents, as this can cause other issues to occur.

In general, if you’re experiencing hot weather, you should completely open the registers on the 2nd floor. For the 1st floor, you should close them partway. Because hot air rises, during hot weather, you want to push as much cold air into the top floor to make up for that extra hotness. 

On the other hand, if you’re experiencing cold weather, you should close the registers partway on the 2nd floor. And on the 1st floor, you should open the registers all the way.

3. Get Good Clearance on Your Vents

It can be hard arranging your furniture and items within your house. But you just might have to rearrange once again.

Go through all your rooms and check that nothing is covering any registers. For example, you might have some furniture that’s blocking the vents. As a result, this can cause your HVAC system to work a lot harder than it needs to.

In general, you should allow for at least 18 inches of space for your vents. If this isn’t possible, you should consider purchasing a magnetic air deflector. These items have the power to redirect airflow so you get the best air circulation possible.

4. Check All Seals

One of the main things that can create cold spots in your home is leaky seals. This can definitely be the culprit if you live in an older home and haven’t performed maintenance in a while.

Go around to all your windows and doors and see if you can detect any drafts. Bring a lit candle with you to better visualize any leaks, as the flame will flicker or even go out if there are any.

Once you’ve found the leaks, seal everything up properly. This should fix the cold spots in your house.

5. Install Window Coverings

This HVAC tip is for addressing hot spots in your home.

During the summer, your windows can be a huge source of heat, since they can create a greenhouse effect. If you don’t have any drapes, shades, or blinds, this means you’re constantly receiving sunlight through these pieces of glass. In turn, your home will quickly heat up, especially the direct areas the sunlight’s hitting.

A simple way to fix this is to install window coverings. Not only will these block the heat better, but they’ll also add to the aesthetics of any room. Plus, you can shut them to get some privacy if you have lots of foot traffic outside.

6. Move Electronics Placed Nearby Thermostats

As you may already know, electronics generate lots of heat whenever they’re in operation. If they’re anywhere near your thermostats, this can give them false readings. As a result, your air conditioning might be on for longer than necessary.

Not only should you move your electronics if they’re near thermostats, but you should also adjust your vents. This will allow the hot air from your electronic equipment to be removed from the room more efficiently.

7. Try a 2-Degree Offset

This is one of the HVAC tips that will only work if you have a separate thermostat for the upstairs and downstairs.

As the name suggests, you’ll have a difference of 2 degrees between the floors. The difference will depend on whether you’re experiencing hot or cold weather, because again, hot air rises.

If you’re having hot weather, set the thermostat on the upper floor 2 degrees lower than the bottom flower. And in cold weather, you’ll want to set the thermostat on the bottom floor 2 degrees lower.

Both methods account for the hot air rising, which will help to make temperatures more even throughout your home. This works similarly to how opening and closing the registers works as well.

Try These Air Balancing Tips

If you’re getting hot and cold spots in your house, then you should give our above air balancing tips a try. However, these may not always work.

In that case, you should give Briggs HVAC a call. We can come out to your property to service your HVAC system. They can do professional air balance testing, which involves adjusting both the intake and output accordingly. As a result, that’ll have it up and running smoothly to keep you comfortable in your home.

Would you like assistance with your HVAC system? Then schedule an appointment with us now. We also have emergency services available.

Our Top 5 Fall HVAC Maintenance Tips

The average lifespan of a typical HVAC system ranges between 12 – 15 years. But experts agree that you can easily extend the life expectancy of your unit by properly caring for it. 

One of the main ways to extend the life of your heating and cooling system is to perform regular maintenance tasks. A good rule of thumb is to check your system before you switch between heating and cooling — so at least once in the spring and once in the fall. 

Keep reading to discover the top HVAC maintenance tips to keep in mind as fall occurs. 

1. Replace Your HVAC Filter

Replacing your HVAC filter is one of the easiest maintenance tasks you can do, but it’s also one of the most commonly forgotten tasks. 

It’s recommended that you should replace your air filter at least once every three months. If you have pets in the home or someone suffers from respiratory issues, you probably should be changing the filter at least once a month. 

If you’ve never changed your air filter, the process is pretty simple. 

To start, turn your HVAC unit off and remove the current filter. If you’re unsure about what size filter you need, look at your current filter before purchasing a new one for the correct dimensions. Most filters will have instructions on them to show the correct way to place the filter into your unit. 

Once the new filter is in your unit, check to see if there are any gaps around the filter. If it doesn’t appear to be a perfect fit, you either have the wrong size of the filter or the filter you purchased is damaged. 

Then, replace any seals or levers that secure the filter in place and then turn your HVAC system back on. Make sure the filter stays in place when it begins to run. 

Make sure you mark on your calendar the date of your next filter replacement.

2. Clean Up Around the Outside Unit

The next maintenance task you’ll want to perform is cleaning up around the outside unit. 

Start by clearing away any debris that’s built up around the exterior of the unit. This includes any leaves, vines, weeds, or tree branches. Anything surrounding the outside of the unit will impede the airflow, meaning your HVAC unit will have to work harder to regulate your home’s temperature.  

You can also take your cleaning a step further by turning the vacuum off and using a hose to spray any debris or dirt that’s built up on the unit. You can purchase a coil cleaner to spray on the unit after your initial rinse. Let the cleaner sit for about 10 minutes before rinsing it off with the hose again. 

Be extremely careful around the condenser fins of your exterior unit. If you do accidentally bend or damage these fins, contact your HVAC professional immediately. 

3. Prevent Clogs in the Condensate Drain Line

When preparing your unit for fall, you’ll also want to prevent clogs from forming in the condensate drain line. If this line does become clogged, this can lead to mold growth or water damage in your home. 

First, make sure your HVAC unit is completely turned off again. Then, locate the access point to the drain line, which is near your indoor air handler. Use the suction hose of a wet vac in an attempt to collect any build-up that may be in the line. 

You can also break up any mold or debris in the line by pouring a cup of white vinegar or a combination of hot water and dish soap. Let this sit in the line for about a half an hour before flushing the line with clean water. 

4. Clean Your Ducts and Registers

The next task on our list of fall HVAC tips is to clean both your ducts and registers. 

Throughout the year, it’s natural for dust and debris to build up in your ducts and registers. If you want to achieve proper airflow and keep your unit working as efficiently as possible, it’s best to clean out this build-up. Having clean ducts also ensures that your home is circulating clean air, which can help eliminate respiratory issues

Let the fan run for a few minutes to help loosen up any dirt before turning the system completely off. Use a brush or vacuum attachment to clear out any dust inside your registers. It’s ideal to use a vacuum with a long hose attachment to clear out as much dust as possible.

Then, wipe down your register cover with a gentle cleaning solution. 

5. Schedule a Maintenance Appointment 

To keep your HVAC system in the best possible shape, you’ll want to have professional preventative maintenance.

With Briggs’ HVAC Maintenance Agreement Plan, you’ll extend the life of your equipment while ensuring it works to its full potential. In addition, you’ll save money in the long run when it comes to repairs and catch small issues before your HVAC system stops operating. 

During your annual tune-up, our team will do everything from checking your system’s evaporator coil to evaluating safety controls. We can even clean or change your air filter for you as well as adjust your thermostat calibration. When you schedule a maintenance appointment, you can rest assured that your HVAC system is ready to keep you warm throughout the winter. 

Contact Briggs for More HVAC Maintenance Tips 

These are just the main HVAC maintenance tips to keep in mind this fall. Make sure you perform these simple tasks before you make the switch from air conditioning to heating. You don’t want to find out that you have a serious HVAC issue on your hands when the temperatures start to drop.

If you hear any abnormal sounds from your system or notice that your system isn’t properly warming your home, the team at Briggs HVAC is here to help. Our experienced HVAC service technicians have spent the last decade serving Woodbridge and the surrounding area. Whether you need emergency service in the middle of the night or an annual maintenance check-up, we have the expertise to get the job done right. 

Call Briggs at (703) 730-8444 or click here to schedule your next HVAC appointment.

Stay Warm By Maintaining Your Heater This Winter

During winter, your heater is one of the most important systems in your home. A properly maintained heater will deliver maximum heat output without wasted energy, or produce any harmful emissions. 

If you ignore maintenance for too long, your heating system could become inefficient, decrease indoor air quality, or even break down when you need it most. To ensure your home heater operates optimally when it’s cold outside, we have the following easy do-it-yourself maintenance tips.

Start Your Heater Maintenance Before Winter Begins

The coldest nights always seem to present the perfect opportunity for a heater failure. By using a proactive approach and starting your maintenance at the end of summer, you can get a jump on extra repairs before it gets too cold, and ensure that your heater is ready for winter. 

Administer the Eye Test

Before you start work on your heater, give it a quick visual inspection. In gas furnaces, the venting pipe should be securely fastened and angled. This is also a good time to smell around the system’s gas line, which is usually a flexible tube. If an aroma of rotten eggs is detected, it means the furnace has a gas leak.

For electric furnaces, checking on its power is a good first step. Look at the main entrance panel for any tripped circuit breakers or blown fuses. Depending on your furnace, there may be a separate power entrance usually located on a different panel near the main entrance one, or there are fuses mounted in or on the heating unit.

Furnace Filter Maintenance

Changing your filter is the most important thing to do to ensure your furnace longevity and performance. Dirty filters can:

  • Restrict airflow, which puts additional strain on the fan motor that after time can make your motor burn out, cause your system to overheat, or cause failure
  • Force your fan motor to overwork which uses more energy, can cause damage to your system and significantly raise your utility bill
  • Drastically reduce your indoor air quality
  • Clog ductwork with debris that can lead to costly repair or replacement expenses

The furnace’s filter was likely replaced when it was last inspected, but it should be replaced every one to three months unless otherwise instructed by the manufacturer of the furnace. Homes with smokers or pets will likely need to change their filters more regularly than other households.

Clear the Drainage Tube

Natural gas and propane furnaces produce small amounts of water as they heat. Some of this is blown out as exhaust steam, but the rest drains from the power exhaust manifold to a drip pan. Keep the drainage tube clear by detaching it from the manifold and blowing compressed air through the tube and drain pipe. You can also pour a cup of white vinegar through the drainage tube and pipe to help prevent a filmy build-up.

Inspect the Thermostat

A few reasons why a thermostat might not be working include improper installation, dirt build-up that interferes with calibration, or corrosion on loosened switches and wires near the bimetallic element. Wiping the thermostat thoroughly and giving the wires a light tug can ensure they are tight and properly fitted.

Dust and Vacuum

Dust, dirt, and debris can cause a heater to work sub-optimally or in some cases, not at all. To avoid this problem, use a soft-tipped brush applied gently against the inner components of the furnace to loosen dust and debris without damaging the furnace’s interior. Once the brushing is complete, remove the material with a portable vacuum.

Depending on where in the house your furnace is located, there should be no clutter or flammable objects stored anywhere near or placed up against the furnace. Remove and dispose of any materials that are touching or are near your furnace.

Consider a Professional for any Mechanical Maintenance

Proper maintenance tasks relating to your home’s furnace may be difficult if you don’t have a mechanical background. If you feel uncomfortable handling any of these tasks, bring in a professional furnace maintenance technician.

Common problems that a technician can address include:

  • Ductwork loosened due to normal thermal expansion and contraction
  • Blower motor bearings in need of lubrication
  • Replacing air filter and cleaning of dust from blower fan blades and AC condensing coil
  • Improperly firing burners
  • Blocked condensate drain
  • Loose wiring harnesses and improperly installed thermostats

Even in cases where you feel you can accomplish most maintenance steps alone, it is still a good idea to hire a professional to thoroughly inspect the system and ensure it is running properly. A yearly preventative maintenance inspection by a qualified service technician can keep your HVAC functioning at peak efficiency, and help you save money on your monthly bills.

Briggs HVAC: The Heating and Cooling Company

For professional residential HVAC sales and repair, contact us today. We service, maintain, and install heating and cooling systems to keep your home comfortable all year long.

Parts of an AC Unit and What They Do

Air conditioner (AC) units monitor and regulate air temperature inside your home, but have you ever wondered how? Although an AC is a comprehensive system of components, it’s not too complex. We’ll break down the major components for you.

Evaporator Coils

Evaporator coils are used to deliver cool air into your home during hot summer months. The process by which air is cooled by the evaporator coils is as follows:

  • Air from inside your home is forced over the evaporator coils
  • Since heat flows naturally from hot to cold, the heat from the air inside your home is absorbed by the refrigerant inside the coils
  • The refrigerant changes state from liquid to vapor or gas
  • Cooler air is forced back into your home

The efficiency of the evaporator coil relies on how much refrigerant is available. Too little refrigerant results in operation failure. When too much refrigerant is available, it results in a parched evaporator and causes more liquid to transfer into the compressor.

Compressors

In order for heat to transfer back to the outdoors, the temperature of the refrigerant must be higher than the outdoor temperature. The main purpose of the compressor is to pressurize the refrigerant gas or vapor, thereby bringing it back to its liquid form. In order to disperse heat from the system, the air outside your home then cools the refrigerant.

The compressor runs on a motor and is therefore susceptible to mechanical problems if not properly maintained. It can stutter, overheat, and eventually burn out. If there are unusual sounds coming from the compressor, or if the AC isn’t keeping your home as cool as you’re used to, it could be because of a failed compressor.

Condenser Coils

A condenser coil is the opposite of an evaporator coil, as it contains hot liquid for heat transfer. Located outside of your home, it receives the high pressure, high-temperature refrigerant from the compressor.

The refrigerant inside the condenser coil releases heat energy with the aid of the condenser fan, which blows air over the coils. As the heat energy leaves the refrigerant, the cooler liquid then flows to the expansion valve.

Since the condenser coil is located outside of your home, it’s important to keep it clear of falling leaves, branches, or other debris. Ignoring regular maintenance could result in poor AC performance or electrical failure.

Expansion Valves

Located between the condenser coil and evaporator coil, the expansion valve removes the pressure from the condensed liquid refrigerant. As the pressure is removed, the temperature is decreased and the refrigerant changes from a liquid to a vapor form.

Keeping your expansion valve in good working order will ensure that your system stays efficient. A faulty expansion valve can result in your AC blowing warm air or frost, or it may keep your compressor working too hard.

Refrigerant

Refrigerant is a special fluid that changes states from liquid to vapor at convenient temperatures for the AC cycle. As it moves through the AC’s cooling tubes and copper coils, it absorbs heat from the inside of your home and transfers the heat energy outside.

One of the most common problems that can happen in the AC system is leaking refrigerant. Signs that refrigerant is leaking include:

  • Water puddles form around the compressor, evaporator coils, or condenser coils
  • Lower than usual airflow from the vents
  • The air inside your home feels warmer
  • It takes longer to cool down the house

If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to call a certified AC technician. At Briggs HVAC, we can fix small problems caused by leaking refrigerant in order to save your AC system from much bigger problems down the road.

Putting it All Together

The return vents inside your home force hot air into the AC system. As the hot air flows over the evaporator coils, the cold refrigerant absorbs the heat energy from the air.

After moving through the evaporator coil, the refrigerant discharges to the compressor. By pressurizing the refrigerant, the vapor inside the compressor is heated up even further. The hot vapor then flows through the condenser coils to facilitate heat transfer to the outdoors.

The refrigerant then cycles back over the expansion valve, depressurizing and cooling down. The AC system then performs the same heat absorption process over and over again.

Briggs HVAC: The Heating and Cooling Company

For professional residential HVAC sales and repair, contact us today. We service, maintain, and install heating and cooling systems to keep your home comfortable all year long.

Prepare for Winter with a Fall Maintenance Check

When the warm days of summer give way to the crisper weather of fall, it’s a sign you should be getting ready for winter. Winter proofing your home keeps things running smoothly reduces energy waste and keeps your family toasty warm even on the coldest days. Here are our helpful tips to help prepare for winter with a fall maintenance check.

Air Leak Check 

Over the years, your home starts to show its age. This often means it can develop many sneaky ways for warm air to escape. Some of the most common places for air leaks are your windows and doors, as well as your attic. With the first signs of fall, perform an air leak check to look for spots that might interfere with your home’s heating:

  • Look at each of your windows for potential air leaks particularly around the frames and sill. These areas can be caulked inside and out with the proper seal for interior and exterior use.
  • Open and close your windows and see if they look like they could use some new weather stripping to help improve the seal. You will notice issues in any areas that pull away from the frame when the window opens and closes. A good test is to slide a dollar bill or piece of paper into the window and shut it. If you can pull it out, time for new weather stripping.
  • Do the same tests and inspection for any exterior doors. You can caulk gaps and add weather stripping to improve the seal.
  • If you have vines on your home overlapping siding, look for gaps. Pull the vines away and seal the gaps to prevent moisture and cold air from entering the walls.
  • Check your attic for signs of gaps along the roofline as well as dampness. Seal any obvious gaps using the appropriate caulking.

Look for Mold

Mold is a very dangerous, unhealthy intruder in your home. Because your home tends to remain closed up for the winter months, you really want to avoid sealing yourself in with mold. Look for mold in common areas where moisture occurs such as your bathrooms, sinks and windows. Use a strong mold spray to remove it and prevent further mold from growing.

Roof and Gutters

Make sure your gutters are debris free to ensure melting snow and ice have somewhere to go. Clogged gutters can lead to serious issues including giant icicles that can cause harm to your home not to mention put your family at risk for falling ice. As well, ice that builds up in the gutters can cause ice dams, which are very risky for causing roof damage and ultimately leaks. You’ll also be better prepared for thaws that occur in the spring to avoid water damage.  

It’s always a good idea to have a roof inspection. If you are comfortable on a ladder and with heights, you can do a once over of your roof to look for issues such as damaged or missing shingles. Otherwise, you can call in a roofing expert to look for areas in need of repair.

Furnace Maintenance Call 

The last thing you need is a furnace breakdown in the frigid winter. Set up a maintenance call with your HVAC specialist so they can do a complete check to make sure it is in top shape. You can do some preliminary checks by turning on your furnace to make sure it works, and that the thermostat allows you to turn the heat up and down. You can also do a quick clean up around your heater like vacuuming up dust. This is also a good time to change your filters to allow your furnace to run more efficiently. Your HVAC pro will handle the rest making sure all parts are in working order and letting you know if repairs or a replacement are required. Remember, if you want to reduce your energy bills, you need to make sure your heater is humming!

Inspect Duct Work

Your ductwork can also experience leaks that can lead to energy challenges. Wherever you have exposed ducts look for signs of issues such as loose screws, missing or loose duct tape and ducts that appear to be disconnected. Check your duct returns and supply ducts for debris and give them a quick vacuum to keep them free of obstructions.

Water Heater Check

If you want to improve energy efficiency, you can also add a water heater blanket and foam pipe insulator to help you save on water heating.

These fall maintenance tips will get your home winter ready so you and your family will avoid issues when winter makes its first appearance.

If you would like more information on fall maintenance for your HVAC system, contact our team of experts today. 

4 Tips For Taking Care Of Your Heater Before You Need It This Winter

With the passing of Labor Day and the school-age children going back to classes, this is the first sign that summer is over. Days will get shorter and, more importantly, temperatures will drop, especially at night.

Now is the time when homeowners will use their HVAC systems to keep warm, using the heater and furnace for comfort. But your HVAC system hasn’t been in use for a few months, so there are a few important things you should do to ensure you’re ready for another cold winter.

1 – Change The Filter

This is especially important if your HVAC system is integrated with your air conditioner. Even if your furnace hasn’t been running all summer, your AC has been pushing air through the furnace to flow through your air ducts. This means that the filter currently inside has been hard at work, screening out particles and contaminants from outside.

It’s always a good policy to maintain a seasonal routine when it comes to replacing air filters. At a minimum, you should put in a new air filter every three months, or with the change of season. Taking longer than this result in blockage to the filter that forces your HVAC system to stay on longer, and leads to a rise in your monthly bills. If you want to be sure of your filter efficiency, you can also change filters every month, but three months is adequate for most homes.

2 – Get The Ducts Inspected & Cleaned

There’s often a misconception that when things don’t have moving parts, that means that they take care of themselves, and don’t require much maintenance. In the case of your air ducts, however, that’s not necessarily the case.

In the same way the shingles of your roof are exposed to the elements; your air ducts have air constantly moved through them during the year. This can mean that blockages may occur in some locations that can have an impact on your heating for the winter. In some cases, wear and tear or even issues in the basement—if ducts are exposed—could mean damage that results in leakage. If you want to make sure your ducts are still airtight and efficiently transferring air throughout your home, call the professionals and have them checked and cleaned.

3 – Check Your Vents

The vents or “heat registers” are they are also called, are an important part of your comfort at home. Now that you’re making the switch back to heating, it’s a good time to take a walking inspection of your home and look at all the vents in the different rooms. Are they still clear? Has anything accumulated inside or on them?

 

One common problem that happens without people noticing is the blockage of these vents because of furniture. Moving a recliner or sofa, for example, may inadvertently block a vent, preventing the air from getting through. In bedrooms, it’s not unusual for people to sacrifice proper ventilation to get a shelf or desk just where they want it, but this will have an impact on bills now that free flow of air has been interfered with.

4 – Get Your Furnace Checked

Finally, it’s always a good maintenance and preventative measure to have the experts come in and look over your HVAC system. A gas furnace, for example, needs to be occasionally checked to make sure that gas delivery is still in order, and that no parts are out of place that could lead to the formation of carbon monoxide during the heating process, which can be dangerous to all residents of a home.

When you have experts come in, they have the tools and the experience to ensure that a thorough inspection takes place. They can make minor adjusts to the HVAC system to ensure small problems are eliminated. With proper testing, once everything is done, they make sure you’re good to go for the winter, rather than turning the heat the day it gets really cold and finding out that your furnace isn’t up to the task after all.

If you want to make sure that your heater is ready for another winter of comfort, contact us today. We have the people, tools, talent, and experience to make sure that your transition to the winter months is a smooth and warm one with no problems. Let us inspect and maintain your heater to get you ready for the next season.

Fall HVAC Maintenance Tips to Follow & Why

The summer months are all about trying to beat the heat and leaning heavily on the air conditioner in your home to keep things comfortable. If you have a traditional, centralized HVAC system, this means your chilled air is running through the ducts and into every room in your home.

However, this same series of ducts and vents is going to continue to be used in autumn and winter as temperatures drop and you switch back to your furnace to stay warm and toasty. Once the seasons change, you should think about conducting fall HVAC maintenance.

Your Filter Needs Changing

For central HVAC systems, a filter change is part of tried-and-true HVAC maintenance. The filter in your furnace works continuously, as long as your air conditioner is on. It screens out harmful particulates that can affect your air quality. However, as a physical screen, it can fill up eventually. When that happens, it can actively block airflow, causing your HVAC system to work harder and longer than it needs to. And that means you pay higher bills.

The recommended interval to change filters is every 90 days or three months. In other words, when you see that the season is changing, it’s time to put in a new filter.

Clean Your Vents

The air vent or “register” that you find on the floor of every room is the exit point where warm or cool air is pumped, helping to adjust the room temperature to the desired level. These vents receive dirt, dust, and other particles from two directions. They get dirty because of dirt in the rooms themselves, such as fur from pets or lint from fabrics. But they also trap any dirt coming from the ventilation duct network.

So, if you haven’t taken a close look at these registers in some time, now is your opportunity. Proper heating and cooling is about unobstructed airflow. Take some time to clean out those registers.

Check for Leaks & Drafts

Over the course of the summer, there may have been accidents in and around the house. Or, the weather may have blown through with an intense storm that took off shingles and damaged windows. Time and weather may have weakened some parts of your home’s structure, such as sealant around pipes and window frames. Rodents and other animals may have damaged the exterior or interior of your home, such as insulation barriers.

When your house’s seals and insulation are compromised, your air treatment system isn’t as effective. For instance, in the winter, warm air will start to escape areas of your house, and cold air can also enter. Don’t ignore even the smallest hole or other structural weakness. Leaving them open and exposed also paves the way for rodents and other pests to get into your home. If you don’t want your home to be a refuge for pests in the winter or to raise your heating bills, plug those holes up.

Get an Energy Audit

If you want to see how many ways you can reduce your energy bills, consider getting an experienced professional to conduct an energy audit. An energy audit is a specialized type of inspection. It’s where the energy auditor looks over your home and evaluates just how energy-efficient and well-insulated your home is.

A proper audit can track down leaks, tell you where you are losing money, and tell you what you can do to improve your energy efficiency. Improvements may include getting new insulation or upgrading your HVAC if it is very old. Regardless of the results, it’s up to you to decide if and how you want to follow the auditor’s advice.

Get an Expert Inspection & Maintenance

If you want to keep your home secure and your HVAC system running optimally, let the pros handle HVAC maintenance. This way, you have professionals examining your furnace and getting it ready for another season. They will also conduct important maintenance such as cleaning out the air ducts, which is difficult to do on your own.

If you’d like to have the peace of mind that comes from professional inspections and HVAC maintenance, contact us today. We’re ready to get your HVAC system back up to speed.

Noises that Your Heater Makes & What They Mean

Its definitely winter now as you can probably tell by the snow covering our area and the heaters in our house have been humming along for a couple months now with a couple to go. As with all things we are around often, when something doesn’t sound the same, it can be alarming. Just like our spouse with a hoarse voice or our car with a new noise, our heating systems can begin to make noises that we’re not accustomed to hearing and may raise concerns. We’ll cover some of the most popular noises that your heating system will make in it’s lifetime.

Sidenote: If your heating system is making noises that aren’t typical to it, call a professional. The issues we describe can lead to damage to the unit, your home, and possibly your family. Poor maintenance can result in failure of the unit or possibly fires. We recommend pre-season maintenance to prevent these issues.

The dreaded scraping noise that your heater makes

Is your heater making a scraping noise? That metal on metal noise that keeps you up at night is almost always the blower inside of your heater. Here are the reasons for this metal on metal noise in your home:

  • Loose Blower Wheel Nut
  • Broken Blower Wheel
  • Blower Wheel Mount is Hitting Casing

At any rate, it’s best for a professional to diagnose and repair this issue. Properly mounted Blower Wheels not only reduce sounds coming from the unit, but improve efficiency of the unit.

Squeaaaaaaaaling in the middle of the night from your heater

This one typically makes you pick up the phone right away. It sounds like a rubbery noise that makes your eye twitch when you hear it. This issue is usually the belt that runs the blower fan. It fails due to a lack of maintenance and causes the awful squealing that you’re hearing right now. The simple fix of replacing the belt will take care of this issue in a hurry and you’ll be back to harmony in no time.

Is your furnace popping?

If you’re hearing a popping or banging noise, consider giving us a call. This is the worst noise that your unit can make and is often a cause of your burners being too dirty to light, causing a buildup of gas before it can fully light that results in a pop or bang. It’s not a fun noise to hear and should be dealt with immediately.

If you have a boiler, it typically means the same thing as it does on a furnace, except, instead of a dirty burner it is scaling on the burner.

Prevent Heater Noises

Heater noises are preventable! Simple pre-season maintenance will help you keep peace of mind as you go into the winter season and endure it until Spring comes back around. We recommend hiring a professional to come in and do the typical winter prep pre-season work required to keep a heating unit running strong so that you’re not without heat or worse, dealing with house fires.

It’s not too late to get maintenance on your unit, take a look at our HVAC Maintenance Plan & Contact Us Today.

Get Ready, Winter is NEAR!

As the days are getting shorter and shorter, we’re beginning to see temperatures dropping. This means Winter is on its way! There is no better time than right now to ensure your heating equipment is up to par for this year’s fridged North Virginia temperatures.

Here is what you can do to ensure you’re ready for the cold:

  1. Replace your filter. It’s best to get started with a fresh filter as you go into the cold months.
  2. Turn on your heat, it should fire up in just a few moments and begin putting that sweet, warm air into your home. It may smell a little funny at first as it gets warmed up.
  3. Listen to the unit. Is it louder than normal? Acting funny? Call an expert, prevent major issues by acting sooner than later.
  4. After about 15-20 minutes, use a standard thermometer to test the air temperature. If it and the thermostat don’t match, it may be time to replace the thermostat.
  5. Call the pro. Every Spring & Fall is a great time to be on a maintenance plan to ensure your units are taken care of for the season ahead. Learn more about Brigg’s Maintenance Plan here.

Other things to consider in preparation for Winter

Air can find it’s way in or out of virtually anywhere. Inefficient homes can cost you money and comfort. These few items can quickly help your home run more efficiently and be more comfortable for your family year round.

  1. When it’s cold outside, turn on the heat in your home. The air temperature difference will help you detect leaks.
  2. Walk around your home, place your hand near doorways, windows, vents, pet doors, and attic spaces.
  3. If you feel a cold air pocket or breeze coming through, you have a leak.
  4. Mark the leaks with tape or post-it notes to come back and repair.
  5. Do the appropriate repair for each of the air leaks.

Air leaks in the home are a leading factor to heat loss during the winter and cause the heating units to work harder to keep the space at temperature.

When you’re ready to switch on the heat this year, call Brigg’s to come out and service your heating unit. We look forward to helping you stay comfortable this year!

Stay Warm!