Do You Need to Replace Your Gas Furnace?

gas furnaceA frosty house is an unwelcome situation. The best thing to do when this happens is to check and assess your gas furnace before it fails. Do not wait when a problem comes up or when you have freezing indoor temperatures. It might be time to replace your gas furnace.

Checking Your Gas Furnace

  • Know the Age of Your Unit. Your gas furnace may have been there before you moved in and as old as the house. Look for the manual or call the manufacturer by giving the furnace’s model number.
  • Lifespan. The average lifespan of modern furnaces is 20 to 30 years. If the unit is more than 15 years old and not working properly, then consider replacing it.
  • Energy Efficiency. Compared to an ordinary or traditional gas furnace, a new Energy Star-qualified gas furnace is usually 15% more efficient and is 4% more efficient than a standard model. This is according to the U.S. Energy Star program. The Environmental Protection Agency added that a new Energy Star gas furnace would save every homeowner an average of $91 in energy costs each year.
  • Watch Out for these Signs of Gas Furnace problems as listed below.

 

Signs of Gas Furnace Problems

  • 1) Higher energy bills even if usage stays the same.
  • 2) Uneven heating in your house.
  • 3) Your furnace is cycling on and off more often than in the previous years.
  • 4) Humidity problems in your home.
  • 5) Excessive noise or your furnace develops buzzes, rattles, or hums.
  • 6) Excessive dust, dirt, soot, or rust particles.
  • 7) Visible signs of rust in and around your gas furnace.
  • 8) Any signs of cracks or corrosion in its components.

Call your local HVAC expert to inspect your home furnace once you see these signs on your unit. Your furnace may need just a simple repair or may require adding a new thermostat or changing the filter.

Know the AFUE Rating. AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency) is a rating to measures a furnace’s operating efficiency. An AFUE of below 8% means you need to replace your furnace with a more efficient unit. The new gas furnaces are commonly ranked by efficiency. The ultra-high-efficiency gas furnaces have up to 97% efficiency. These models have variable-speed controls and fans. The high-efficiency furnaces have a 90% efficiency while the mid-efficiency furnaces have an 80% efficiency.

It is better to have more information so you will feel more confident when you replace your gas furnace. Calling a professional and qualified HVAC provider will help evaluate your furnace and save you on costs.

The Benefits of the Ductless Heating & Cooling System

ductless heating and coolingEnergy efficiency performance for heating, ventilation and air conditioning or HVAC system has truly evolved. From having a traditional heat pump and a central air conditioner that force heated or cooled air through ducts, the newer ductless heating and cooling system may be preferred depending on your needs. So, what are the benefits of having the ductless type in your home?

Benefits of the Ductless Heating and Cooling System

  1. Ductless heating and cooling systems are more energy efficient, thus saving you money. A ductless system uses 25-50 percent less power than older central air conditioner or heating systems. Central systems also lose about 30% of its efficiency because of possible duct leaks and delivery. Moreover, since ductless systems deliver directly into a specific part of the house, there is no loss in efficiency.  You have control as to which areas or rooms need heating or cooling. Thus, you need not pay for heating or cooling unoccupied rooms.
  2.  Ductless systems are easier to install and offer a more flexible solution. A complete ductless system has one outside compressor to connect to either one or more indoor units. Either way, ductless system installation requires just a small hole in the wall, and installation can be complete in a day. Should there be a need for additional rooms, adding new indoor units takes only a little time.  In contrast, centralized systems take weeks to install, and need major construction work in installing ducts through the ceiling.
  3. Air quality is better with ductless systems. Central heating and air conditioning systems require regular professional cleaning. Even with regular cleaning, dust and allergens can still be present. With ductless systems, there is multi-stage filtration to greatly minimize bacteria, allergens, dust, pollen, and other air particles.
  4. Ductless HVAC systems are more environment-friendly than older systems. With advances in chemistry, ductless systems use a refrigerant that does not harm the ozone layer.

 

Looking for a Columbus heating and cooling specialist for an estimate, check-up, or HVAC repair? Contact American Air today.

Know How Your Electric Panel Works

electric-panelThe electric panel is a main component in your home, so it is necessary to know its structure. Also known as a circuit breaker, electric panels are usually mounted in an inside or back room, such as in a laundry room, in a garage, or in the basement. There are two columns in a circuit breaker. Above these columns is the main switch that controls the power to your home.

An electric panel controls the flow of electrical current to a specific outlet. It protects your home from current overloads or surges. A surge is a sudden trip in the electrical current in your home. It usually happens when large appliances, such as air-conditioners or refrigerators, had a rapid, forceful thrust or lightning strikes nearby. When more amperage passes across a circuit than it can handle, excess current occurs.

This is the reason why electric panels are created to fail safely, so they can prevent fires and other accidents. The switch automatically sets off once it detects an overload of current flowing through one of the breakers. This, in turn, protects everything beyond that switch. Power flows through the outlet when the switch is set in the “on” position. If it switches to “off” position, it means that there is excessive current. Excessive current will power surge and will automatically set the panel into the “off” position or if someone turned it off manually.

It is important to label your breakers so you can properly identify what circuits connect to each specific outlets. This will help you identify the specific appliances connected to a specific outlet, as well as the actual location of the outlets in the other rooms of your home. You can either do this yourself, or ask a licensed electrician to label your panel.

How to Label Your Electric Panel:

  • Leave the main breaker (located above the single switches) on.
  • Turn the other switches off.
  • Turn on one switch on at a time.
  • Look around your home for outlets or appliances that are working and label that switch.
  • Put the label on the inside cover of the panel or put the labels next to their corresponding switches.
  • Repeat the same process with each breaker in both columns.

 

Current leaves your electric panels on energized or “hot” wires. This works through the outlet or device. Then, the power returns to the panel along the neutral wires. When a person’s hands touch neutral and hot conductors, electrocution happens and this causes the current to complete its circuit through the person’s body. Electrocution is one of the leading causes of household death, where approximately 200 people die yearly.  

All of the neutral circuits connect to a neutral bar in your panel. They then connect to the main circuit neutral wire where it transmits the current to the transformers of the electrical company. The power from the utility company’s lines passes through your meter and into your electric panel. Remember to turn off the panel when working with electricity because it is very dangerous.

Electricity is the primary cause of approximately 4,000 injuries in a year. Therefore, it is best to seek the help of an electrician rather than trying to fix/adjust anything yourself.

How to Troubleshoot Common Plumbing Problems

plumbingTroubleshooting simple plumbing problems is one of the basics every homeowner should know. Even if you don’t have plumbing skills, knowing the basics will save you from bigger issues down the road and will help in maintaining your home.

Here are some of the most common plumbing problems:

  • How to handle a Water Leak. It is important for every homeowner to know the location of the main shutoff valve that supplies water to your house. You also need to know the location of all the shutoff valves that control the water supply to your appliances and utilities in the kitchen, basement, bathroom, toilet, and yard. To locate the shutoff valves, you need to inspect your kitchen sink, water heaters, heating systems, toilet pipes, tubs, and other appliances. If you are having difficulty finding them, ask a plumber or someone who knows a little more about plumbing.  By identifying the location of these valves, you will be able to turn them off in case you have an emergency water leak and/or a broken pipe. You will still need the help of a plumber to make the repair, but being able to put things under control first is a big help!
  • Here are the steps to take if you have a broken pipe. 1) Turn off every valve that feeds water to the leaky or broken pipe to stop the water from breaking the pipe. 2) If there is no exclusive shutoff valve to stop the flow of water to the broken pipe, shut off the main valve that supplies water to your whole house. And 3) if the flow of water did not stop immediately after shutting off the water supply, open all the cold-water faucets to release the water in the entire system. Remember you only need to open only the cold-water faucets and not the hot water faucets.
  • Here is some info about clogged drains: A clogged drain slows or stops water from flowing properly in your drainage system. The worst that can happen is when your plumbing systems blocks to a standstill and you cannot use water anywhere in your home without having water overflow. It is common to use chemicals to unclog drains. Be careful if you decide to do this, drainpipes inside the wall may get damage with continuous exposure to chemicals.  If you decide to use chemicals: 1) Dilute the acid by adding water before pouring it into the drain. 2) Use gloves and eye protection when pouring the chemicals. 3) Read the instructions carefully. Using a drain cleaning cable is another option that can help remove clogs in the drain line. This should be done by a professional plumber. So if the chemicals don’t work, call American Air to have one of our plumbers come help.

Being able to troubleshoot and act quickly when plumbing emergencies arise, will help save your home from further damage. Assess the situation, do what you can, and then call one of our plumbers at American Air to come and get your plumbing back to working order.

Home Heating: The Basics

heatingThe central heating system in your home comprises more than 1/3 of your energy bills. With that said, heating your home can cost you a fortune if you do not plan well. Following are the home heating basics that every homeowner should know before deciding which system to purchase.

The Home Heating Basics

There are 4 main methods used for home heating. Which does your home have?

Gas Furnace

Also known as the forced-air furnace, the gas furnace uses either natural gas, fuel oil, liquid propane, or electricity to warm your home. It circulates warm air through a series of vents and ducts and directs the warm air into the different rooms in your home. A powerful fan located inside the heating unit normally moves the air. Gas furnaces are usually located on ceilings, floors, or walls.

Electric Furnace

An electric furnace works the same way that a gas furnace does. The main difference is that it’s powered by electricity instead of gas- making an electric furnace a greener option.  These furnaces are a great option to have in warmer climates; but if you live somewhere that often reaches freezing temperatures, a gas furnace might be a better option as they reach higher heat temperatures.

Air-source Heat Pump

Unlike a gas or electric furnace, the heat pump does not generate heat. It is a 2-way air conditioner so you can use it during summer and winter. During summer, it moves the heat from the relatively cool indoors to the relatively warm outdoors. The process is reversed during winter. It generates warm air from outside and distributes it inside your home. Most heat pumps used forced warm-air delivery systems to transfer heated air throughout the home.

Hot Water Boiler

The hot water boiler system is typically oil or gas fired. It circulates hot water through a system of pipes in the floor, radiators, or baseboard-heating units. This system can be very comfortable, providing warmth without the breeze created by air circulation. If you intend to purchase a hot water boiler, make sure to get a 90% AFUE modulating boiler with an external temperature reset. This will give you optimal energy savings and comfort.

Another factor to considering when planning to purchase a heating system for your home are the available utilities. Is there a gas service to your house? Is it expensive or economical to have it installed into your house? You should also check the cost of energy of the heating system.

If you are still unsure of the kind of heating system suitable for your home, call one of our certified heating and cooling technicians at American Air today.