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.

5 Signs You Have an Airflow Problem (And How to Fix It)

When your air conditioner stops working during a hot July weekend, you can tell almost immediately. But there are 11 other months in the year, when the outdoor temperatures aren’t so severe. Losing a few degrees here or there might not be as noticeable. And what if your units appear to be running properly, but you start to notice other signs of a potential problem? It could be that you’re having a problem with airflow.

Not catching an airflow concern immediately can lead to a host of potential HVAC issues. By the time you reach this awareness point, you’re ready to call in a professional, even on a Sunday, just to get relief. The truth is airflow problems are pretty common and can be avoidable in some instances. Recognizing these five signs early on can help ensure you catch the airflow mishap before it turns into a costly service call later.

1. Airflow Problems Can Result from Normal Wear & Tear

Recommendation: Schedule that seasonal maintenance visit for a proper unit cleaning.

There’s no avoiding some HVAC problems, including the occasional airflow failures that result from normal wear and tear. So, just knowing how old your unit is or recognizing how many years your ductwork has gone uncleaned can be reason enough to call in a professional for an inspection. All units, new or old, benefit from routine seasonal maintenance, which is your first line of defense against poor airflow and other mechanical failures.

2. Hot and Cold Spots Throughout Your Home

Recommendation: Change your filters.

Airflow problems can most commonly be the result of a clogged filter. This breakdown in how well the air moves through your unit can result in hot and cold spots around your house. If you experience fluctuating temperatures in various rooms of your home, it could be the filter is prohibiting your unit’s proper operation. It’s easy to forget about changing those filters on time, but it’s an oversight that can lead to these significant airflow and temperature fluctuations. If it’s been a while since you’ve changed your filter, take care of that now. If a fresh filter doesn’t resolve your airflow concerns, you can then explore other culprits.

3. Ductwork Blockages

Recommendation: Schedule a thorough cleaning of your home’s entire ductwork system.

You would be surprised at just how much dust, debris, and contagions get caught up permanently within your ductwork. Older homes might present with layers of old debris along the ductwork walls that essentially takes up space and can hinder how well air flows through to various areas of your home. And there is always the other possibility of a rodent or critter taking up residence in your ductwork somewhere, blocking airflow with a nest. You often hear about how clean ductwork is essential for indoor air quality, which is absolutely true. But blockages or airflow hindrances in your ductwork can lead to airflow problems, as well.

4. Blocked Vents & Registers

Recommendation: Check every register and vent in your home to remove any blockages.

If you’re experiencing temperature fluctuations, room to room, you can always check your home’s vents and registers. When your house was built, the ductwork was designed based on the layout to promptly deliver air into each of the rooms in a strategic way. Blocking a register with a piece of furniture or clogging a vent with a child’s toy inadvertently can lead to disruptions in your airflow altogether. Even cold air return vents need to be free from coverage.

5. Pressure Imbalances within the Home

Recommendation: This usually warrants a call to a professional for an inspection.

If you notice that your interior or exterior doors slam closed on their own, you might assume it’s because there’s wind presence. But when you realize there is no direct wind source, it could be a sign of pressure imbalances resulting from poor airflow. Check to see if you’re experiencing little to no air from your vents, and then call a professional. You might only need to have your coils cleaned, or the squirrel cage within your unit cleaned. But not addressing the pressure issues when they arise can lead to more significant potential unit damage later.

Airflow problems can be common. To stay on top of potential problems, you can be mindful of these five signs of airflow issues. And if you can’t get to the bottom of it, let the professionals at Briggs HVAC help. Call and schedule your maintenance today, too. Preventing the airflow issues before they arise can help prolong the life of your unit and keep your home comfortable year-round.

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. 

 

How to Cut Heating Costs and Stay Warm at the Same Time

It shouldn’t surprise you to hear that you can stay warm and cut heating costs at the same time. After all, mankind survived thousands of winters before HVACs were even invented. Besides that, a lot of people aren’t using their heaters as efficiently as they could be.

Still, if you’re struggling to balance comfort with cost this winter, we can help. Below are several easy tips on how to cut heating costs without freezing to death. In fact, these tips are so easy, you can apply most of them the second you read them!

Follow these steps to keep warm without breaking the bank.

1. Keep Your HVAC Maintained All Year

Go ahead and look everywhere else on the internet if you want to. You’re never going to find a better tip than this on how to stay warm while saving money.

The fact is, your HVAC works better when it’s properly maintained, which is actually two facts. One, your heater does a better job keeping your whole house warm. And two, that means that it costs less to run it.

Think about it. When your house warms faster, the HVAC doesn’t have to run as long per cycle.

Also, a poorly-maintained, inefficient HVAC has to work harder to perform the same job, which uses more power. So, ultimately, when you neglect regular maintenance, your HVAC costs more to run and it runs for longer each day.

Plus, you won’t stay very warm if your HVAC breaks due to lack of maintenance. Thus, do your yearly HVAC maintenance in fall and spring, before the seasons in which you need it most.

2. Change Your Air Filters More Often In Winter

As important as your yearly, professional HVAC inspection is, you need to do your part, too. Specifically, your HVAC won’t run well when it’s clogged by a dirty air filter. When the filter is completely full of dust, it just sits there, blocking the heated air from blowing into your house.

Also, most people run their HVAC more frequently the colder those winter days get. Thus, your air filter fills up more quickly. You should check it at least once a month in winter and change it when necessary.

3. Get an Energy Audit

A high energy bill isn’t just a problem for you. It’s an even bigger problem for your local electric company. Between the Christmas lights and the increased heater usage, it’s always a struggle to provide everyone with enough energy this time of year.

Thus, your electric company will be overjoyed to perform an energy audit. This tells you exactly how you can cut heating costs, and then some.

For example, they might suggest better insulation for your home or your HVAC ducts. They can also point out air leaks in your home that let your expensively-heated air escape.

4. Bundle Up

This tip is so easy and obvious, it should go without saying. But, since it’s also easy to become a slave to convenience, we’ll say it anyway. Lower your thermostat as much as you can stand.

Since your first thought at that suggestion is probably a crying emoji, here’s a way to soften this blow. Remember that running your heater is a recurring cost. But stocking up on warm, comfy blankets is a one-time expense.

Thinking about it that way, you’ve no reason to suffer. Go ahead and spoil yourself with a cold-weather shopping spree. Don’t forget to grab yourself some slippers and a few soft, fuzzy footie pajamas.

Oh, and don’t forget the most important part, either. Keep the thermostat as low as you can, as long as it doesn’t impede the health of persons or pets in your home.

5. Program Your Thermostat

Don’t just set your thermostat at 68 degrees and call it “done.” That might be good for tonight, but what about tomorrow?

If you’re at work for 8 hours while no one else is home, you can set it even lower. Why heat an empty house?

Better yet, keep it programmed appropriately according to your schedule. If your thermostat is not programmable, consider getting a different one.

Take note, though: don’t freeze your pets. Make sure they stay within their ideal temperature range.

6. Maintain Control Over Your Thermostat

Well done. You’ve made the strong decision to keep your thermostat at a lower temperature throughout the winter. Unfortunately, that doesn’t do you any good if others in your household, or the thermostat itself, change the setting the moment your back is turned.

First, let’s address the thermostat itself. How reliable is it?

Does it work the way it’s supposed to? More importantly, do you understand how to use it properly? 

All of these factors may thwart your plans to keep your home at the temperature you choose. So, check your manual and test your thermostat. If it doesn’t work reliably, replace it.

7. End the Thermostat War

Next, defiant teenagers and other members of your household can also sabotage your efforts to control the temperature. Make sure everyone living with you knows to keep the thermostat set to the way you programmed it. Or, if not you, designate one person to be in charge of the thermostat settings.

Make sure you enforce this plan. For example, those who wish to keep the house warmer can pay for half the bill.

8. Close/Open the Appropriate Vents

Next, stop heating rooms you don’t need to. If you have an empty guest room, close the supply vent in that room so you’re not wasting energy keeping it warm. Also, keep the door to that room closed and stuff a towel under it to block it off completely.

On the other hand, open up the vents and doors of the rooms you do want to heat. Make sure nothing is obstructing any of these vents.

Also, keep the intake vents clear of any cobwebs or dust that will obstruct airflow. That way, the circulated air flows freely and the heater can warm your house more easily.

9. Get a New Heater

Lastly, consider how much a new heater will save you on your monthly energy bill. (Or, better yet, get a price quote.)

This is especially a smart idea if your HVAC is very old. Replacing your 12-year-old HVAC with a new, ENERGY STAR certified HVAC could save you 30% off your monthly heating cost.

Stay Warm and Reduce HVAC Costs With These Tips

Don’t let old man winter get the best of your holiday season. Remember and follow these tips to stay warm and reduce your heating costs.

Need some more tips on maintaining the proper temperature in your home? Then read this next: 7 Ways to Avoid Hot and Cold Spots in Your Home.

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.

A Detailed Guide on the Different Types of HVAC Systems

If you’re in the market for a new heating and/or cooling system, you may be overwhelmed by your choices. Fortunately, you’ll find all the help you need in the following HVAC systems buying guide.

The comprehensive list below describes all types of HVAC systems that are commonly used today. You’ll learn all about how they work and what features they provide. We’ll also tell you the ideal type of residence/climate that each system is suited for.

Furthermore, we’ll touch on the installation cost and efficiency of all these systems as well. Discover which HVAC system is right for you with this guide.

Types of Cooling Systems

There are about 8 main types of residential AC systems, each with pros and cons of their own. Here is a brief overview of their features and advantages.

Central Air Conditioners

The most common AC system for houses is the central or whole-house air conditioner. These systems include one indoor and one outdoor unit. 

The refrigerant in the indoor evaporator unit absorbs heat from the indoor air. The cooled air is blown to each room in the house through the ducts. Then, the indoor unit pumps the refrigerant, with the heat it absorbed, to the outdoor unit.

The outdoor compressor unit compresses the refrigerant to cool it back down. Then it sends the cooled refrigerant back into the house to start the cycle over again.

These are usually incorporated into one with the home’s furnace or heating system. These systems are convenient, effective, and inexpensive to install. But they aren’t quite as efficient as some of the other systems.

Window Units

Window units work the same way as central AC. However, they are comprised of only a single unit that is half inside and half outside the building, installed in a window.

These are even more common than central AC because they are the system of choice for most apartment complexes. They are usually cheaper to install than central AC since they include no ductwork.

But they are mostly only effective in very small or single-room dwellings like a studio apartment. To cool multiple rooms in a large home would require more than one window unit.

Through-the-Wall Air Conditioners

These are essentially the same as window units except they are installed into a wall of the building instead of a window. This type of unit may be installed as an alternative when there are no suitable windows in which to install a window unit.

Portable Air Conditioners

Another single-unit system that works like a window AC unit is the portable air conditioner. The main difference is that it can be picked up and moved to other rooms in the house at any time. 

These are the cheapest air conditioning solution. But they’re not quite as convenient as they sound.

Like window units, they still require a window to let out the heat they pull from the indoor air. This means you’ll have to seal the open window area around the exhaust port somehow. The process is a lot more involved than simply placing it in a room and plugging it in.

Swamp Coolers

Swamp coolers or evaporative coolers use ancient technology to cool air with water instead of refrigerant. These units pull hot indoor air through water-moistened pads that cool the air down.

These are cheap and surprisingly effective, but only in very hot and dry climates. Naturally, the water in the cooler humidifies the air while cooling it. Thus, swamp coolers are a bad choice for already humid climates.

Types of Heating Systems

Now, we’ll look at the most common heating solutions for homes. Since heating is generally a much simpler process than cooling, there are fewer types of heating systems than cooling systems.

Furnaces

This is the most common residential heating system. It uses electricity, heating oil, or natural gas to heat indoor air.

Then it blows the air through the ducts. If the building also uses central AC, the furnace will use the same ducts. 

Boilers

Instead of circulating heated air, boilers circulate heated water. The water in boilers works a similar way (but in reverse) to the refrigerant in central AC units.

The heated water or steam is pumped to radiators throughout the house where they give off heat. This cools the water down. So, it is pumped back to the boiler where it can be heated again.

Space Heaters

These small heaters are available as portable units or permanent installations. They simply use gas or electricity to generate heat, warming the immediate area. Each of these units is only useful for heating one small room.

Combination Heating and Cooling Types of HVAC Systems

Finally, there are some HVAC systems that use a single unit to both heat and cool the building. All of these use very recent, and very efficient, technology.

Hybrid Systems

These systems are so named because they are powered by both electricity and fossil fuels using hybrid technology. This is said to make them more energy-efficient than other cooling systems.

In summer, they work like central AC to pull heat from your indoor air and blow cooled air through a network of ducts. In winter, they reverse the process, pulling heat into the home from outside.

Geothermal Systems

Geothermal systems work almost the same as hybrid systems, except they use no fossil fuels. Also, instead of pulling heat from the outside air to heat your home, they pull it from a geothermal coil installed far underground. In the same way, in summer, heat is pulled from your home and transferred to the earth surrounding the coil.

Mini-Split Systems

Lastly, ductless mini-split systems are becoming more and more popular because of how efficient they are. Rather than using one large system with a series of ducts to reach every room in the house, mini splits use multiple small systems and no ducts.

Each indoor unit works like the indoor evaporator unit of a central AC system. They pull heat from each room in the house individually and transfer it to a single outdoor compressor unit. This process is reversed to heat the home in winter. 

What makes this so efficient is that each system is only responsible for cooling one room. This requires a very small amount of energy.

Plus, if one side of the house tends to be warmer, only the units in that half of the house will run more often. Central AC would keep trying to cool the whole house simply to reach half of it. Also, the lack of ducts eliminates the possibility of duct-related energy loss.

Furthermore, each room has a separate thermostat. So, each room can be set at different temperatures. Units in empty rooms can be shut off.

However, despite their efficiency, they can be very expensive to install if you need many indoor units for your home.

Keep This Guide

If you’re currently shopping for heating and cooling solutions, don’t forget about this guide. Also, if you have a friend who is wondering about the different types of HVAC systems, please share this page.

Now, click here to learn about The Various Parts of an AC Unit and What They Do.

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.