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Friday, January 23, 2015

Cracked Heat Exchangers and Furnace Safety

If you have a furnace in your home that's more than a few years old, you need to have a trained and certified professional inspect it and provide you with an overall assessment of your heat exchanger and burners.  You and your family's lives may depend on it!  If a crack or pinhole in the heat exchanger is found by a technician, they will then inform you of this find and advise you on how to proceed. 

Cracked heat exchangers produce the odorless gas Carbon Monoxide, the silent killer.  Carbon Monoxide has no smell, color, or taste and can only be detected by CO detectors and specialized equipment.  There is only really two possible options after a crack is found, 1) replace the heat exchanger, or 2) replace the entire furnace.  Depending on how old the furnace is will determine the wisest path to take.  Most major brands of furnaces now offer 10 - 20 year heat exchanger warranties, in which case you should only be charged labor by the company you use to replace it.  At Environmental, we always work with the customer to figure out the most sensible option based on the age of the unit and your financial situation.

Remember, a cracked heat exchanger and/or deteriorating burners are a recipe for disaster!  Carbon Monoxide is very dangerous and at the very least you should have one CO detector present for every floor of your home.  Signing up for a Preventative Maintenance Plan will catch these dangers early and can also prevent them from happening in the first place, thus extending the life of your system.  Just give us a call and we would be glad to answer your questions and get you signed up today!


Monday, December 8, 2014

2015 SEER Rating Changes Notice

Coming up this new year 2015 will be some interesting changes to the U.S. Dept. of Energy's requirements for SEER(Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) ratings.  The new requirements state:

"Starting January 1, 2015, split system central air conditioners installed in the Southeastern Region of the United States of America must be at least 14 SEER. The Southeastern Region includes the following states:  Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. Similarly, split system central air conditioners installed in the Southwestern Region must be a minimum 14 SEER and 12.2 EER beginning on January 1, 2015. The Southwestern Region consists of the states of Arizona, California, Nevada, and New Mexico. Split system central air conditioners installed in all other states outside of the Southeastern and Southwestern regions must continue to be a minimum of 13 SEER, which is the current national requirement."

These new requirements are already being challenged by industry trade groups.  If you would like to learn more about SEER ratings and what they mean, just check out some of my earlier blogs on the subject.

The R-22 refrigerant phase out schedule is still on track for complete phase out by 2020.  Here is a link to the official EPA website with all the facts you need to know about this phase out and what it means for you, the consumer:  http://www.epa.gov/ozone/title6/phaseout/22phaseout.html

Hope this info helps you out!

Environmental Heating & Air of NC

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Equipment Costs Are Now At Their Lowest!

At certain times of the year, the price of purchasing a new heating and air conditioning unit is at it's absolute lowest.  Those times take place most often at the end of the year and when supply/demand dictates. You can always count on the lowest equipment costs in the month of December.  Manufacturers have to sell a certain amount of units by the end of the year in order to make room for the newer equipment.  Which in turn is very beneficial to the customer, that kinda goes without saying.

Not only during these times does the cost of a new system go down, but also the interest rate that goes along with financing that new system!  It's a well known fact that the economy is bad right now and couple that with the above mentioned closeouts, and you've got yourself a perfect time to purchase that new system that you've had in the back of your mind that you know will need purchasing soon.  So I'm just trying to help you folks out by filling you in on the best times of the year to get that new system!  Trust me, you don't want to wait until after first of the year and demand goes back up, because so will the prices and interest rates!  At Environmental, we offer free quotes on system replacements with no pressure or hassle.  Our quotes are good for 30 days, so if you're even thinking you might need a new system before too long, strike now while the iron is hot!  Give us a call! 


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

80% vs 95% Furnaces

Which furnace is right for you?  Do you know the difference between an 80% and 95% furnace?  In order to figure out the answer to the first question, you must first understand the answer to the second question.  Let's break it down further so you can be equipped to make the most cost efficient decision possible!

The best model furnaces to go with, efficiency wise, are Energy Star qualified.  The efficiency of new furnaces is measured by the annual fuel utilization efficiency(AFUE), which is a measure of seasonal performance.  Furnaces today are rated between 80% AFUE and 98% AFUE.  Above 90% AFUE, a unit is considered to be "condensing", which means it recaptures some of the heat that would be wasted in traditional systems by condensing the escaping water vapor.  80-89% AFUE furnaces are still good furnaces, they are much better and more efficient than older style furnaces and are more affordable up front than the 90-98% high efficiency furnaces.  However, the 80-89% furnaces do not qualify for Energy Star programs.  The 90%-98% high efficiency furnaces are more expensive, but they do qualify for rebate programs which can earn you some nice cash in return.  Not to mention, your gas/utility bill(s) will take a noticeable dip in usage.  At Environmental, we offer great financing on all of the furnaces and systems we sell.  Which in turn can make the 90-98% Energy Star rated furnaces much more affordable.  Just give us a call or your trusted heating and air company in your area a call and take advantage of the great costs and efficiencies before the actual cold season gets here.  You will be amazed at the results you see in the form of energy savings!

Environmental Heating & Air of NC, Inc.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Winterizing Your Home

As previously mentioned, now is a great time to to start preparing your home for the upcoming winter season!  A typical home is supposed to exhale about 33% of its air every hour, sparing your lungs from mold, dust and other tiny invaders.  But realistically it's estimated that most homes, especially older homes, on the average vent approximately 45% - 65% of it's air every hour.  Here are a few things you can do around your home to help make it winter-proof:

  • a cheap and effective way to target air leaks in your home is to wait for a breezy day outside, light an incense stick, and move it around all your doors, windows and fireplace.  You will be able to notice the stream of smoke flowing to wherever the draft is, and then correct as necessary.
  • there is nothing better you can do than have a professional service come and check out your furnace or heat pump system to make sure it is fit to handle the upcoming cold temperatures.
  • perhaps the most valuable thing you can have done by the aforementioned professional service is have them inspect your heat exchanger for cracks. A cracked heat exchanger is dangerous in that it is a leading cause of carbon monoxide in the home.  This is one of the first things that our technicians here at Environmental Heating & Air check when we inspect your system.
  • make sure there are no items that are flammable located anywhere near your furnace.
  • change your filters regularly.
  • when you first turn on your heat there will probably be a fairly strong odor which is completely normal, but if strange smells continue to arise, shut down your system immediately and notify the professionals.
  • your ceiling fan, believe it or not, is one of the best heat distributors you can use in your home.  Just flip the switch on your ceiling fan so that it pushes air up instead of the normal down airflow.  This is great because it will force the warm air that rises to your ceiling to keep moving about the room.  This can save on heating costs and it cuts down on the condensation that occurs on windows and glass doors.
  • no matter how old or new your gas furnace is, BUY A CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTOR!  It could save you and your family's lives.
  • your nice, new heating system won't make much of a difference if your insulation isn't up to par!  A well insulated home can save you a ton of money on heating costs.  Generally, R-30 insulation is the minimum a home should have.  Of course this depends on the location and age of your home, newer homes will have R-30 or better insulation while older homes might not, it's a good idea to check.
  • finally, it would also be a good idea to check the weather stripping on all of your windows and doors.  You'll want to replace it if it looks old and cracked or there is an abundance of gaps.
Remember, common sense is your best tool for safety and fighting high energy costs in your home due to your heating system.  If you have any questions or concerns, don't hesitate to give us a call or send us an email.  Until next time, stay warm!


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Proactive Maintenance Planning

Proactive maintenance planning means basically exactly what it says.  You are planning ahead to make the routine maintenance, that you should be having done to your heating and a/c unit(s), most worth your while.  Right now in the heating and air business we are in an in-between time.  That means we are currently in between peak seasons.  So if you are willing to get your fall Preventative Maintenance done a little early, the chances of getting any replacement parts you may need or any other service done that you may require as identified by your Preventative Maintenance technician, you will receive the fastest service available.  That often means same day parts replacement appointments.  Turn around time on these appointments is the fastest during this time of year.

A Preventative Maintenance Contract can more than pay for itself in fewer emergency repairs and lower utility bills alone.  There are a multitude of things that can cause your heating and a/c unit to fail as well as take years off it's life, and most of these things can't be found unless you are proactive and have someone with a trained eye who can spot the immediate warning signs.  Whether it's low refrigerant in your heat pump(which can cause your heat strips to stay on all the time during the winter = high energy bill) or a furnace with a cracked heat exchanger(which produces the deadly gas Carbon Monoxide), there really is no downside to signing up for a Preventative Maintenance Contract.  If nothing else it will be to have the peace of mind knowing that you don't have to worry about your heating and a/c, as we keep a detailed record of your system's specifications and tendencies.  To learn more about Environmental's Preventative Maintenance Plan or if you have any questions about anything else we can help you with, please visit our website or give us a call!

Environmental Heating & Air of NC

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Hottest Month Of The Year!

Typically, August is the warmest month of the year.  This year will probably be no exception.  If you are on a maintenance plan then you are already a step ahead and good for you.  If not, then cross your fingers your a/c doesn't go out!  Here are just a few things you can do around the house to make sure you get the most from your a/c this summer:
  • change your air filter(s) every 30 to 90 days.  Depending on how quickly your filter(s) get dirty
  • keep shades, blinds, windows closed to keep out sunlight as much as possible during the day when you aren't home
  • have a Preventative Maintenance Plan with a licensed, fully certified hvac company like Environmental Heating & Air
  • keep all bushes, grass, and other debris clear from around your a/c unit outside.  A 2 foot minimum clearance is best
  • take a quick look at your ductwork.  If it looks old and/or appears to be falling apart, have a professional take a look at it.  You would be AMAZED how much efficiency is lost because of loose and/or deteriorated ductwork
These are some of the major points that you at home can take care of in just a short amount of time.  If taken care of, these things can help ensure you stay cool in the hottest of weather and achieve the longest life possible from your a/c and heating system without getting HUGE electric bills.  Prices are also great right now on replacement A/C systems.  To inquire about getting a price on a new system or you would like to sign up for Environmental's Preventative Maintenance Plan, just give us a call at the number below or visit our website, thanks for reading and stay cool folks!