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November is the month when the really cold weather takes hold of our region and you begin relying heavily on your furnace. Your heating system is the workhorse of your home, keeping your family warm and safe when temperatures plummet.
Besides scheduling a maintenance appointment, one of the most important things you can do to make sure your furnace is running at peak efficiency is to change the air filter regularly during the heating season. But a common question we get from homeowners has to do with how often to change the air filter.
The filter should be changed every 1-3 months the furnace is in use. Let’s go over why it’s so essential to change the filter on a regular basis and how doing so helps keep your furnace from breaking down unexpectedly.
A-1 Mechanical is your local heating and cooling specialist in Lansing, Michigan, we help homeowners design systems for both hot summers and cold winters. Heat pumps provide cool air by circulating indoor air across very cold indoor coils. During the winter heat pumps condense outside air and circulate indoor air across hot indoor coils. Because Michigan winters become extremely cold, most homeowners use a heat pump for most of the winter and supplement warmth through a furnace on very cold days.
The goal of using your heat pump is to provide complete comfort while consuming the least amount of energy. Heat pumps are rising in popularity because they are driven completely by electricity. This means the heat pump does not create direct emissions and therefore, is considered renewable energy. When you work with a professional heat pump specialist from A-1 Mechanical you will discover the heat pump’s thermostat plays a large role in reducing energy bills.
Many homeowners wait until an AC unit fails beyond repair. While A-1 Mechanical provides excellent air conditioning installation services even in emergencies, knowing the warning signs of a faltering air conditioning system is important to save money. If you notice cooling costs are rising, performance is wavering or you experience frequent breakdowns then you should begin to consider new air conditioners.
Signs Your Air Conditioner Needs Replaced
As summer heat rises, older units can often show indications of failure. Beyond monitoring energy use be alert to these top signs your air conditioner is going to break:
Uneven temperatures throughout the home
Shutting down before the desired temperature is achieved as known as short cycling
Refrigerant leaks, frozen lines and odd noises from outdoor unit
Odd smells from vents when the air conditioner is running
As the weather gets colder, you may wonder what the best settings are for your home thermostat. After all, you want to stay comfortable without wasting energy on your heating system. A programmable thermostat is a fantastic way to bring convenience to your home’s heating system, however, they are not necessary.
Here are a few tips to help you find the perfect balance this winter. Of course, these are just general guidelines – you may need to adjust the settings based on your specific needs.
A sudden rise in your monthly energy costs can be caused by a number of reasons. The most common causes that lead to unexpectedly high heating bills are:
Colder outdoor temperatures than what’s typical for the area
Lack of heating system maintenance
Air leaks in the home
Dirty furnace filters
Top Ways to Lower Heating Bills
These energy-saving strategies help homeowners improve home energy efficiency to lower heating bills.
Schedule a Preventative Maintenance Tune-Up
Ideally, before the busy heating season arrives, schedule a preventive maintenance tune-up for your Lansing or Grand Rapids heating system in the fall. Gas furnaces, electric furnaces, heat pumps – no matter your heating system type, a maintenance tune-up helps the system function more efficiently throughout the season.
The average Lansing and Grand Rapids area home loses 20 to 30 percent of its heated air through duct leaks. Damage, gaps, loose fittings, and disconnected sections allow heated air to escape before it reaches your rooms while letting chilly air into the ducts.
Because of this loss, the heating system compensates by expending more energy to replace the heat lost. This extra heat production uses 20 to 30 percent more energy. Duct repair eliminates these costly leaks to lower your heating and cooling costs significantly.
Seal Air Leaks
An issue that homeowners often overlook is the amount of air they lose through air leaks. Heated air is also able to escape through other areas of the home, such as:
Windows and doors that don’t shut tightly
Gaps and cracks around window frames and door jambs
Vent, piping, or wiring holes through exterior walls
Uninsulated or under-insulated attics, basements, and crawl spaces
To reduce heat loss, air leak sealing is a must. Add weatherstripping to all exterior doorways. Seal windows and door frames both indoors and out. Seal around the exterior wall penetrations outdoors as well as on the interior of the wall. This will help your home to keep in its heated air and help keep your monthly energy bill down.
Heating and cooling your home can be a significant expense, particularly if your home is not well insulated. Many homeowners are surprised to learn that their homes are not as energy efficient as they could be. Older homes are especially prone to this problem, as they were often built before modern insulation standards were put in place.
As a result, upgrading your insulation can be a great way to improve your home’s energy efficiency, and lower your monthly electric bills and heating costs. In addition, proper insulation can help to reduce noise levels and create a more comfortable living environment.
Upgrade Your Thermostat
We’ve met many homeowners who bought a smart thermostat at a big box store and found it doesn’t work well with their existing system. For example, do you have a single-speed or variable-speed system? It makes a difference in which smart thermostat is best for your home and we can help you find the right one. The addition of a programmable thermostat can help bring your costs lower than the typical electric bill.
Curious about modern thermostats? Call us, and we’ll send a Comfort Consultant to your home. They will evaluate your current HVAC system, ask you about your energy goals, and recommend a thermostat.
Change Your Furnace Filter
Dirty furnace filters block the flow of air through your heating system. This forces the blower motor to expend more energy to pull air through the system and push heated air into your living areas.
Avoid this problem when you regularly replace your furnace filter. How often depends on the type of filter, heating usage, and other factors specific to your home. Most people get by with furnace filter changes every two to three months.
Upgrade Your Heating Unit
If you’re among the millions of Americans who’ve been hit hard by high heating bills this winter, you may be looking for ways to lower your costs. One option you may want to consider is installing a new furnace or heat pump. Though the initial investment may be higher than simply continuing to use your current system, new furnaces and heat pumps are much more energy efficient.
This means that they’ll use less fuel to produce the same amount of heat, resulting in lower monthly bills. Additionally, newer models are often able to better maintain a consistent temperature, which can also help to reduce costs.
Put an End to Expensive Heating Bills
If you’re wondering why is my heating bill so high, you’re not alone. Many homeowners struggle with high energy bills in the winter. Fortunately, there are things you can do to help lower your costs and make your home more comfortable.
Get in Contact with A-1 Mechanical Today
Contact us today for assistance making energy-saving improvements to your home. We’ll work with you to create a plan that fits your needs and helps you save money on your heating bill this winter.
The first thing to consider is exactly how old your home is. If your home was built before the 1950s, there is a good chance it does not have the ductwork needed for today’s HVAC systems. This eliminates traditional central air conditioning and heating systems as a viable method for your home’s heating and cooling needs unless you want to spend thousands of extra dollars on having a new duct system installed.
We are well aware of the difficulties of living in an old house and have come up with the best solutions to optimize an older home’s heating and air conditioning system.
A solution we often recommend for homeowners in older homes is a ductless system, also called a mini-split system. As the name suggests, these HVAC systems do not use any ductwork at all! Ductless systems use individual air handler units in each room; this allows for complete control over the temperature in separate spaces or “zones.”
Since there is no need for ductwork, homeowners of older houses absolutely love the convenience of ductless HVAC systems. When paired with a heat pump, they can also be used for both your home’s heating and cooling while helping to cut back on your monthly electric bills.
Ductless mini-split systems are versatile and can be operated on a by-room basis. This is because each “zone” has its own thermostat that can be controlled independently of the others. If you do not want a particular room to have heating or cooling, but the rest of the house should, you can simply adjust the temperature in that room. This also makes them energy efficient and one of our favorite modern HVAC options.
High-Velocity HVAC System
In today’s homes, ductwork is usually in areas of the house that we cannot see. Meaning, that if your home was not built with the intention of having central heating and cooling, then you probably do not have the space necessary to make ducts work.
Fortunately, high-velocity systems operate differently, using dedicated units connected to “mini-ducts.” Unfortunately, high-velocity systems also typically come with a price tag that is higher than ductless systems.
High-velocity HVAC systems are similar to traditional HVAC systems in that they provide heating or cooling using a heat pump or compressor and then distribute the air into a home’s living areas. The most significant difference is how the air is distributed in a high-velocity system.
Instead of traditional ductwork, high-velocity HVAC systems use much smaller tubes and vents, which are about 5 inches in diameter and much smaller than vents that are about 6 inches tall and 12 inches wide.
Using the smaller tubes and vents allows them to need less space in the home to be effective, making them a perfect choice for an older home that cannot support modern-day HVAC systems. Homeowners also love that the smaller size allows them to be better hidden in the home, adding to the home’s overall aesthetic appeal.
Why Trust A-1 Mechanical?
When dealing with something as important as your home’s heating and cooling, you do not want to work with just any company you find on Facebook. A-1 Mechanical has been one of the most trusted HVAC companies in the area for years. We have built a solid reputation for high-quality work and fantastic customer service.
Older homes can be tricky to work on and, and when installation is performed incorrectly, it could result in irreversible damage, which is why it is crucial to work with an experienced company that has done it before. Our team is well-versed in HVAC solutions for older homes and would love to help walk you through the process and get you exactly what you need.
Contact Us Today
If you are ready to upgrade your home with a new HVAC system from the state’s premier HVAC company, do not hesitate to reach out!
We would be happy to answer any questions you may have and schedule an appointment!
The extreme temperature changes in both the spring and fall time mean that for most Michigan homeowners, a working heat pump is more than just a comfort. It is a necessity. This is why we believe it is so important to never be in a position where your heat pump may be compromised. At A-1 Mechanical, we are eager to help homeowners understand how heat pumps work. We also strive to answer every day questions and understand the issues they can cause, like short cycling. However, we understand that you’re not an HVAC expert and may have questions yourself, such as: “Why does my heat pump cycle on and off?” We’ll explain.
What Is Heat Pump Short Cycling?
Simply put, when a heat pump short cycles it is able to turn on, but it does not complete its full cycle. This causes the heat pump to quickly shut down and turn back on again. This eventually can turn into a vicious cycle that leaves your heat pump in worse shape due to excessive wear and tear from turning off and on too frequently.
Reasons a Heat Pump Can Short Cycle
Like any machine in your home that receives daily use, there are a plethora of reasons why your heat pump is short cycling. A few of them include:
Faulty Electrical Components
Trouble with the electric control board that controls your home’s HVAC system is a common cause of heat pump short cycling. The electric control board not only is in sync with your home’s thermostat, but it is in complete charge of when your HVAC system turns on or off.
There could be a number of electrical connection issues or faulty components that are causing the short cycling issue. Regardless, get in contact with an experienced technician before tackling any of the electrical problems you may be having.
Any blown fuses or problems with your home’s breaker board could also affect your heat pump’s ability to perform.
While we are all about smart home automation and upgrading your home into the 21st century, new home technology is not without its faults. A thermostat leaves plenty of room for error. So, if you begin to notice your heat pump short cycling, there is a chance your thermostat is not working as it should, causing the heat pump to turn on and off uncontrollably.
An easy way to check on the status of your thermostat is to check its batteries and connections. An issue with either of those things could lead to short cycling.
Low Refrigerant Levels
You may notice that your heat pump is not keeping your home as cool as you would like it. This could be due to a low level of refrigerant. This can add extra stress to your unit and not allow it to work as optimally as it should, leading to short cycling.
Clogged Air Filter
A dirty or clogged air filter can greatly impact the efficiency of your heat pump. When the level of dust and other contaminants is too high in a filter, your heat pump is unable to perform, which can lead to short cycling. Swapping out your air filters often can help prevent this and further issues with your machine.
What to Do when Your Heat Pump Short Cycles
Once you have come to the conclusion that what your heat pump is doing is in fact short cycling, you have a couple of options.
If the issue is easily recognizable, such as issues with the thermostat’s battery or connection, then you may be able to solve the problem yourself. However, we almost always recommend contacting a team of professionals that you can trust if your heat pump is short cycling. Your home is one of the most important things in life, so don’t trust just anyone with it.
Choose A-1 Mechanical for Any Heat Pump Problems
A-1 Mechanical has been serving the Lansing and Grand Rapids community with pride for years and are excited to continue to do so. With the industry standard for technology and the best team of technicians in the business, we are excited to have the opportunity to show you the difference of working with the best.
If you are experiencing any issues with your heat pump or HVAC system, don’t hesitate to give us a call or schedule an appointment. We are eager and ready to serve you and keep your home safe and comfortable!
For far too many homes, some areas of the house will be the perfect temperature, while other rooms suffer from hot and cold spots creating an uneven temperature throughout the room. This is a frustrating issue that can not only cause discomfort but also much higher heating and cooling bills.
In the latest blog post from A-1 Mechanical, we’ll discuss how an HVAC zone control system can fix these issues with dampers, as well as how they’re installed. For more helpful information about HVAC zone control dampers, reach out to A-1 Mechanical.
What Are HVAC Zone Control Dampers?
Zone control dampers allow heated or cooled air to spread amongst the rooms in your home, leading to more even and regulated temperatures. Zone dampers are plates that are used to redirect air to all areas of the home, ensuring that warm or cool air reaches the areas that it is supposed to.
In an HVAC system without zone dampers, air freely flows through your ductwork and out of the vents within your home. This can cause uneven distribution, as there is not any equipment in place that could otherwise ensure that all areas of the home receive the same access to the air from your heating and cooling system.
Why Should You Install HVAC Zone Control Dampers?
A zone control system offers significant energy savings, as your HVAC system won’t need to stay on as long in order to bring your home to the set temperature. As heated and cooled air is evenly distributed throughout the home, a zone control system makes it much easier for the house to reach your set temperature.
In addition to the energy savings, you’ll also find that a zone control system can affect the comfort of your home. For homes that struggle with hot and cold spots, dampers can provide a very effective solution. Zone control systems help to keep each room of the home at the same temperature.
Installing HVAC Zone Control Dampers
Installing zone control dampers is a job that is, ideally, left up to professional HVAC system technicians. There are many things to consider, such as the size of your ducts, the type of dampers that your ductwork requires, the location of the dampers, and more.
When you contact an experienced professional to install your zone control dampers, they’ll help answer any questions you might have. They’ll provide the best location for the dampers, as well as the best type of dampers, to provide the best results. Once you’ve had a zone control system installed into your HVAC system, you’ll notice an upgrade in energy efficiency. When you control airflow to all the rooms in your house, you’ll notice a decrease in heating and cooling costs because you won’t waste energy heating unoccupied rooms. Some zone control systems include their own thermostat, or all the dampers can be controlled with a central control panel.
There are a lot of different features and options available for zone control systems. If you’re interested in upgrading your HVAC equipment, talk to the professional technicians at A-1 Mechanical to learn more about For HVAC zone control damper installation in the Lansing and Grand Rapids, MI areas.
Contact A-1 Mechanical for HVAC Zone Control Dampers
Keeping all areas of your home the same temperature is key to a safe, happy, and healthy household. Installing HVAC zone control dampers can be exactly what your home needs to increase comfort and safety levels.
Contact us today to learn more about the benefits of dampers, or to schedule an appointment for installation services.
With winter approaching, the last thing Grand Rapids area homeowners want to encounter is a lack of heat. To avoid this cold weather crisis, there is one important question you should be asking – when should I replace my furnace? The heating professionals at A-1 Mechanical explain the expected service life of this equipment and how to determine when replacement is needed.
How Long Does a Furnace Last?
While no two furnaces are alike, this type of equipment does have an average expected service life. Knowing how many years you can anticipate using your current system is helpful.
Gas furnaces usually last between 15 to 20 years.
Electric furnaces typically last between 20 to 30 years.
The reason electric furnaces tend to run longer than gas units is that electric models are usually more durable, and they don’t require as much maintenance. When choosing a new efficient furnace or heating system to purchase and install at home, you want to consider expected service life as well as other important factors, such as utility costs.
When Should I Replace My Furnace?
Additionally, you don’t want to use average service life as the only factor in your decision to replace your electric or natural gas furnace. The actual lifespan of any furnace unit is greatly impacted by factors including:
Household heating habits
Indoor air quality
Furnace maintenance regularity
Depending on the factors above, your furnace’s service life could exceed the average range – or fail to come close to it. As you decide whether or not to replace your furnace, consider the following furnace attributes:
Did your furnace receive a professional tune up each year? Units that receive regular preventative maintenance are often found to last to the upper limit of the average service life range or even beyond it. Maintenance tune ups counteract wear and tear damage as well as other system issues that can take your furnace out of service sooner. If you have skipped on regular maintenance, your furnace may not last as long as the average unit.
How do you use your furnace? If you like to keep your home at 73 degrees in the winter, the unit will run longer than a furnace in a home kept around 68 degrees for the season. It experiences more run time and more wear and tear which can lead to an earlier breakdown.
What’s your home’s air quality like? If your home has a high level of dust and other types of particle pollution, these contaminants can harm the furnace and cause it to break down sooner than a unit in a home with less indoor air pollution.
What was your experience when you first had the furnace installed? Did you work with a licensed contractor who sized the new furnace correctly? A furnace that is too big or too small for the home will fail sooner than a unit that is the correct capacity. Installation quality can affect the longevity of a furnace, which is why it is so important to hire a licensed, qualified HVAC contractor to perform this work. Also, not all furnaces are created equal – some brands and models are more budget-friendly, but they may not have the durability that a more expensive unit can offer, causing them to fail sooner than the alternatives.
Furnace Replacement Warning Signs
With the above information in mind, you should also be aware of the warning signs a furnace can give that tell you replacement is needed soon. Observe your HVAC system, and see if you notice any of these symptoms:
Higher heating bills without explanation. Furnaces lose efficiency as the years go on, causing energy bills to rise. Also, older models likely don’t offer the initial efficiency ratings as available through current equipment, meaning it costs you more to keep using that old furnace than if you were using a new heating unit. If your heating costs have gone up each year without another explanation like increased use or higher fuel costs, an aging furnace is a likely culprit. Consider ongoing costs to heat the home when considering installing a more efficient heating system.
It’s difficult to keep the home comfortable. Struggling furnaces are notorious for poor comfort control, causing symptoms such as uneven heating, not enough heat, and cold spots throughout the home. Sometimes the root of these issues can be repaired, but if poor comfort control isn’t your only symptom, you likely need to replace your furnace.
Frequent repairs. Furnaces typically need more repairs in their final two years of life. If you’ve called us for furnace repair more often over the last year or more, it’s time to figure out a replacement plan.
Costly repairs. If your furnace needs expensive repair work, sometimes repairs aren’t the best option. If the needed furnace repairs total around half the cost of a new system, or more, you may decide this money is better spent investing in a new furnace. Due to the expense, weigh major repair needs before you decide whether to replace your furnace.
Furnace Replacement in Grand Rapids, MI
Trying to decide when it’s best to repair or replace your furnace can be a difficult decision to make. However, no matter what you decide, the heating and air conditioning pros at A-1 Mechanical are ready to help. We’ll help you know when it’s time to replace your furnace to ensure that you can keep your house warm for many years to come.
Contact our team today to learn more about furnace options and request an estimate for furnace replacement in your home.