Furnace Maintenance Checklist for this Winter

Furnace Maintenance

Furnace Maintenance Tips to Avoid Heater Problems

HVAC professionals always recommend furnace and air conditioner maintenance programs and, since we say it so often, it might sound like background noise to your life. Each day, a massive amount of information clamors for the attention of American homeowners. However, technicians perform a variety of furnace maintenance tasks that are vital to keeping your furnace running strong all year long and for years to come. Furnace Maintenance tasks may include:

Changing the Air Filter

This simple chore is essential since the furnace requires the movement of air: the entire volume of air should move through your furnace about every 2 minutes of a heating cycle. A clogged filter can leave you feeling a little chilly on cold days. It also creates stress on your entire heating system.

Check the Ductwork

Only a portion of the network of ducts will be visible after construction is completed. However, observation of the visible portion can tell us:

  • How clean or dirty the ducts are. This is mostly an air quality issue.
  • Potential leaks in the portion that is visible. Repairing any leak that can be observed will improve efficiency and comfort.

Clean the Blower Fan

The amount of dust that collects on moving parts is crazy—how often does the ceiling fan need to be cleaned? The blower motor is a cylindrical fan that is responsible for moving air during heating and cooling cycles. Dust reduces the efficiency of the fan and reduces the amount of air movement.

Check Electronics Thoroughly

  • A series of sensors measure your indoor environment and send messages to the furnace system. The most noticeable sensor is in the thermostat; it measures air temperature and sends a signal calling for a heating cycle as needed. The thermostat needs to be tested and calibrated as needed. Other sensors are located throughout the system, sensing flame or the presence of smoke or carbon monoxide. These essential sensors need to be cleaned and tested regularly.
  • Beyond the sensors, a complex network of electrical switches and controllers manage the energy needed to keep occupants warm and comfortable. When one of these components weakens, it creates a cascade of stress on other system components. Simple voltage tests can detect stress or weakness, ensuring a small problem does not develop into a large problem.
  • Another set of safety controllers prevents damage or injury should a problem create an overload or short-circuit.

Gas System Furnace Maintenance

  • It is extremely important to regularly inspect your gas supply line and connections to prevent damage, injury, and death.
  • The gas pressure needs to be checked at the manifold to ensure adequate flow to the burner.
  • The most delicate part of a gas-powered system is the ignition/pilot light assembly. A pilot light should burn blue, with a hint of yellow at the base. This indicates complete combustion.
  • A flame sensor can accumulate soot and dust, interfering with burner ignition.
  • Rust and soot can develop on the pilot light and burner assembly and need to be cleaned away for good performance.
  • The heat exchanger and flue pipe need to be cleaned and inspected for damage regularly. Rust can weaken the walls of these structures, allowing carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide to leak into the home.

General Observations

Furnace Maintenance inspections will also test furnace function by measuring temperature changes during a heating cycle; these measurements will be taken from various spaces to ensure proper the system is heating efficiently.

Leave Furnace Maintenance and Repair to the Experts!

Schedule your furnace maintenance consultation by calling All Cool AC & Heating at 281-238-9292 or contact us via email and let our NATE-certified furnace maintenance and heater repair technicians put their experience to work for you.

3 HVAC Maintenance Tips to Improve Efficiency

3 HVAC Maintenance Tips to Improve Efficiency

3 HVAC Maintenance Tips for Homeowners

Air conditioning is such a comfort during the long, hot summertime. All winter long, we look forward to summer fun in the sun. However, since the heat and humidity are so relentless, we seek relief whenever we go inside. Air conditioning has become so essential to our summer. It would be nice to find ways to enhance the air conditioning experience. Here are a few suggestions to enhance your HVAC Maintenance experience.

1 Keep the Heat Outside and the Cool Inside

This seems like a no-brainer, but to do it well it takes intentional actions.

  • The quality of insulation will become very evident during times of extreme temperatures—both hot and cold temperatures. Getting into the attic to add insulation during triple-digit or single-digit temperatures is not a wise decision. However, preparing for extreme temps while the temps are mild is a wise decision.
  • Windows transfer a tremendous amount of energy in the form of heat into the home. Sunlight is not the problem; it is the accompanying infrared energy that creates the heat. Floor and furniture surfaces are heated and retain the heat. Additionally, heat passes through glass readily, heating the inside air. Keep blinds and drapes closed during the midday period, opening them in the mornings and evenings to enjoy the natural light.

2 Keep the Thermostat Steady

It is tempting to use the thermostat inside like the fan switch on our car’s air conditioner, turning it up when you enter and down when the temperature drops. That might work in the small confines of a car, but it doesn’t work for a home air conditioner.

  • When the thermostat is set at 740 and the temperature rises to 750, the thermostat instructs the air conditioner to begin cooling the air. The cooling cycle may last for 5 to 10 minutes if it is functioning normally. Dropping the thermostat to 640 will also instruct the air conditioner to begin cooling the air. It will also take 5 to 10 minutes or so—not a minute less. Dropping the thermostat setting does not cool the space faster, but it does put tremendous stress on the air conditioner.
  • A better approach is to schedule the temperature setting, including any changes you might desire, and let the air conditioner do its job. If your family has a steady summertime schedule—leaving and returning at regular intervals—temperature changes can be programmed to coincide with the schedule. Program temperatures change and do not alter the schedule.

3 Schedule Filter Changes and HVAC Maintenance

Homeowners can enhance their air conditioner system by keeping it clean. Change the air filter regularly to keep indoor air clean and ensure a free flow of air. Scheduling annual preventative maintenance increases the performance of air conditioners and uncovers small problems before they become big problems.

We Specialize in HVAC Maintenance to Reduce Your Utility Bills

Schedule your free HVAC Maintenance consultation by calling AllCool AC & Heating at 281-238-9292 or contact us via email and let our NATE-certified HVAC Maintenance technicians put their experience to work for you.

4 Furnace Maintenance for Homeowners

Furnace Maintenance

Furnace Maintenance Tips You Need to Know

When your HVAC system was installed, it was customed-fit to meet the heating and cooling needs of the space in your home with well-designed components. However, like every well-designed mechanical system, it needs periodic maintenance; some maintenance tasks can be completed by homeowners, and some will need to be completed by HVAC professionals. Here are a few helpful Furnace Maintenance tasks any homeowner can complete to keep their system functioning efficiently.

Furnace Maintenance: Replace Your Filter Regularly

You are very familiar with the heating and cooling function of your system, but it also provides a vital purpose in cleaning the indoor air. An air filter removes a significant amount of dust and dander, made more important during the winter when windows and doors remain closed. When too much dust accumulates on the filter, this creates problems for the system.

A clogged filter reduces the amount of air that can pass through the filter and, as you know, your heating system depends upon great air movement. So, to keep your air clean and your home warm, change your air filter regularly. You can find the air filter in the furnace cabinet, located where enters the cabinet from the rest of the house. The filter size is printed on all four sides of the filter. Purchase the correct-sized filter, slide the old filter out and slide the new filter into the slot. For most homes, the filter should be changed once every three months; if your filters are very dirty each time, consider changing the filter every two months.

Furnace Maintenance: Use Your Thermostat Intentionally

Old-style thermostats were merely switched on the wall to call for heat or AC as needed. Newer thermostats are programmable, and some come with Smart capabilities, so there is a little bit of a learning curve for using them properly. New thermostats use batteries and batteries will need to be changed—a good rule is to remove them annually. Occasionally, the thermostat setting does not match your indoor experience. If this happens, a professional may need to recalibrate the thermostat; this can be completed during an annual preventative maintenance visit.

Both programmable and Smart thermostats can be used to customize a schedule of temperature changes to improve comfort and save money. Research has shown that reducing your thermostat setting by 70 or more for at least 8 hours can save approximately 10% on your heating bill. Finding an 8-hour window is not as hard as it sounds: lower the temp at night while the family is sleeping or away during the day. Since it is programmable, you can schedule a warm-up 30    minutes before the alarm clock sounds to ensure a comfortable morning.

Furnace Maintenance: Keep The Ductwork Clear

Ducts supply warm air throughout the house and return cool air back to the furnace to be warmed again. Openings in the ductwork are scattered around the house strategically, including supply vents and cold air returns. It is not usual for furniture, accessory, or drapes to completely cover these openings and restrict the free flow of air. Do a regular inspection of the vents and returns to ensure they are all open. For best results, have your ductwork cleaned regularly—schedule duct cleaning every 3 to 5 years or as needed.

Furnace Maintenance: Schedule Professional Maintenance Annually

Even when you complete these simple maintenance tasks, your HVAC system should be inspected, cleaned, and fine-tuned annually. A technician will check the electrical and mechanical components to keep your system running efficiently, making needed repairs as they arise. Catching small problems early can avoid large problems, giving longer service life for the entire system.

Have questions about Furnace Maintenance? We can help!

Schedule your free Furnace Maintenance consultation by calling AllCool AC & Heating at 281-238-9292 or contact us via email.



Energy Efficient Heating Tips for Winter

Energy Efficient Heating

Energy Efficient Heating Tips for Homeowners

When the utility bill arrives, there is often a quick twinge of panic and a desire to find Energy Efficient Heating methods to result in energy lower costs. Oh, and if we could find some Energy Efficient Heating hacks that cost absolutely nothing, that would be even better! Well, hang on, because we have a few real Energy Efficient Heating tips. You might not be able to use them all, but see how many will help.

Energy Efficient Heating: Solar Energy Hacks. The sun delivers 10,000 times more energy to the earth than the amount of energy that people use. If you stand in front of a window on a cold, sunny day and you will appreciate passive solar gain. Capturing a portion of the sun’s energy inside your home will save you money.

  • Winter sun is low in the sky during the winter and high in the sky in the summer. A low sun pours more sunlight into your home on winter days.
  • The sun allowed inside warms the flooring, the furniture, and the walls. This energy radiates into the air in your home, raising the temperature by as much as 150 on a sunny day.
  • Windows are the key to solar gain. New double-paned windows trap heat in the space between glass panes and that costs nothing. Open the drapes and blinds during the day on South-facing windows between 9 am and 3 pm on sunny days. Close the drapes and blinds after the sun sets to reduce the amount of heat escaping into the cold, dark night.

Energy Efficient Heating: Fan Hacks. To maximize solar gain, move the free solar heat with ceiling fans. The wintertime setting for ceiling fans turns the fan in a clockwise rotation; this pulls air up and pushes the warm air toward the outside of the room, and potentially into other areas of the house. Set the fan at the lowest speed and move this air around. Also, use kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans sparingly. The air being pulled outside is warm, air—the kind of air you are trying to keep indoors.

Energy Efficient Heating: Thermostat Hacks. The thermostat is a switch that turns the heat on or off based on a pre-determined temperature setting. All but the oldest thermostats are programmable; that is, you can program the switch to change the temperature on a timed schedule. How does that help?

  • Be slow to switch the heat (or AC) on at the season change. Develop a little tolerance for a cooler temperature setting. Set the temperature at the lowest comfortable setting for your family.
  • The EPA has demonstrated that if you lower your thermostat setting by 7 to 10 degrees for a minimum of 8 hours, you will save 10% on your heating bill.1  That does not cost a thing and you enter the scheduled changes only one time.
  • There are two ideal times to program a reduction in temperature for 8 hours: overnight, while everyone is sleeping, and during the day, while the whole family is away from home. Try a few different schedules to see which works for your family.

Energy Efficient Heating: Appliance Hacks. Some of your household appliances create significant heat for cleaning and cooking. Wash dishes and clothes later in the day to fully appreciate the heat they generate. Exhaust the hot, moist air produced by showers during the summer, but retain it in the winter as much as possible. Cook and bake to your heart’s content on cold days; exhaust only the most disagreeable cooking odors.

Energy Efficient Heating: Maintenance Hacks. Make sure to follow your manufacturer’s user guides concerning regularly scheduled preventative maintenance visits; annual maintenance is usually the guideline. Be sure to change your air filter regularly, at least every three months. These steps keep your HVAC system functioning efficiently and this saves you money.

Have questions about Energy Efficient Heating? We can help!

Schedule your free Energy Efficient Heating by calling AllCool AC & Heating at 281-238-9292 or contact us via email.

Energy Efficient Heating

1 https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/programmable-thermostats#:~:text=Thermostat%20Operation&text=You%20can%20easily%20save%20energy,asleep%20or%20away%20from%20home

6 Tips HVAC Maintenance Tips for Homeowners

6 Tips HVAC Maintenance Tips for Homeowners

6 Tips HVAC Maintenance Tips to Better Energy Efficiency

Air conditioning is such a comfort during the summertime; stepping out of oppressive heat and humidity into a cool, dry environment is both welcoming and relaxing. The converse is also true.

Stepping into a home and expecting air conditioning but being disappointed is very stressful and troubling. Wise homeowners don’t just assume their AC will work but take the HVAC Maintenance extra steps to ensure it is kept in good working order.

Change Your Air Filter Regularly

A dirty, clogged air filter leads to two major problems for air conditioners. First, it causes your blower motor to work harder than it should. While the blower fan moves large volumes of air—the entire volume of your home every 2 or 3 minutes—a clogged filter reduces the airflow, and the blower motor must work harder to complete its task.

Second, the evaporator coils bring very cold refrigerant gas into the evaporator chamber. Warm air from the house is being drawn through the filter and exchanged the heat for cold.

Reduced airflow causes humidity to freeze on the coils and this reduces the exchange of heat and cold. Expect warmer air from the air conditioner with an extremely clogged filter.

 Clean Your Evaporator Coils and Drain Pan

In addition to exchanging heat with cold, the evaporator removes humidity from the air when it condenses on the coils. By tripping the circuit breaker-marked AC and removing a few bolts, you can access the evaporator chamber and do a little maintenance. First, observe the coils—often a V-shape—and vacuum away any accumulated dust.

Second, observe the drain pan, looking for debris or algae buildup. Carefully pour a cup of bleach or vinegar into the drain pan as a deterrent to algae growth. You may need a wet/dry shop vacuum to clean out algae buildup in the drain lines. After you have returned the chamber cover and flip the circuit breaker back to the ON position.

Clean Your Condenser Unit

Stepping outside, locate the air conditioner condenser unit, a small, boxy component with a prominent fan on the top. The refrigerant gas has collected heat from your home in the evaporator chamber and brings it outdoors for release. The entire box is composed of a network of tubes with very small fins.

Airflow through this network transfers the heat to the moving air and cools down quickly. Quickly, unless the airflow is restricted by the accumulation of dirt, grass clippings, and debris. Use a garden hose—not a power washer—to gently clean the spaces between the tubes and promote good airflow. Trim any hedges and remove any debris within about 3 feet of the condenser.

Check Vents and Registers

In order for air conditioning to work properly, air must flow in large volumes. A normal 15-minute cooling cycle will move the entire volume of your home 7 or 8 times, maybe more. It moves that volume of air unless, of course, the vents and registers in the home are covered. Check each room and find one or more registers on or along the floor.

Rooms with more square footage will have more than one register. Make sure they are not covered by furniture or drapes. Each level of the home will have one or more return air vents.

Observe the vents about ¾ of the way up walls, perhaps in hallways or open spaces. Make sure that furniture and drapes do not cover your vents and reduce air movement.

Program The Thermostat for Summertime

Many homes have programmable or Smart thermostats. This allows homeowners to customize the temperature settings to match the family schedule and comfort levels. Summertime schedules change, so make sure to keep the settings adjusted to the season.

Consider adjusting the setting while the family is sleeping or away, reducing the demand for energy. Create a 30-minute buffer right before the alarm clock sounds or the first family member returns.

Plan an Annual HVAC Maintenance Tune-up

Scheduling a visit from an HVAC Maintenance professional to clean, inspect, and test the system is a sure way to keep your system running for as long as possible. The additional HVAC Maintenance care ensures that components function properly, gas levels are appropriate, and connections are maintained. This HVAC Maintenance TLC lengthens the serviceable life of your entire system.

Time for HVAC Maintenance?

Schedule your upcoming HVAC maintenance appointment by calling AllCool AC & Heating at 281-238-9292 or contact us via email.

6 Tips HVAC Maintenance Tips for Homeowners

Heater Efficiency: Warming Your Home Naturally

Heater Efficiency

Increase Heater Efficiency By Tapping Natural Resources

As winter approaches days grow shorter and the temperatures will be cooler for a few months: it happens every year like clockwork. However, we have seen the cost of fuels increase at an unexpected clip this year; energy costs for heating are projected to be higher than this time last year. Before an increase in heating causes you to break out into a sweat and your blood pressure rise, let’s look at some Heater Efficiency tips you can implement to make your home more comfortable with little to no cost.

Since it has been a few years since your last Physical Science class, let me remind you of this principle about the physics of energy. Heat always moves towards cold. Scientists will state it differently, but for practical purposes the statement is true. When you remember this principle, consider all of the adjustments you can make to keep your home warmer and to increase your heater efficiency this winter.

Heater Efficiency: Learn How to Keep Your Heat

Since you have already paid to heat your home, it is in your best interest to keep that warmth from moving to the cold outdoors.

  • Fireplaces lend an atmosphere of warmth and beauty, especially during winter holidays. A fireplace might also come in handy when an ice storm takes out electricity for an extended period. However, unmodified fireplaces are energy hogs and if used day-in and day-out, result in a less comfortable home and high energy costs.

    A roaring fire pushes more than 20,000 cubic feet of hot air and gases through the chimney every hour. That air must be replaced, and your home will draw outside (cold) air through every opening available to replace the lost air. The result is cold, drafty rooms away from the fireplace.

  • If you make your fireplace a normal source of heat, make energy-efficient modifications to keep your home comfortable. Make sure to keep the fireplace flue closed when it is not in use. If open, it is a channel for warm inside air to move to the cold outdoors, the equivalent to leaving a 48” square window open.
  • Insulation and weather-stripping is the MOST efficient measure to prevent the movement of warm air to the cold outside. You have heard the old adage “warm air rises.” It is true. Do a quick check of your attic insulation with a ruler or tape measure.

    Expect 10 to 12” of insulation evenly spread across the surface. If insulation is deficient, adding insulation will improve comfort and efficiency. Make sure that the attic opening is properly sealed.

  • Improved building materials and techniques result in energy-efficient wall construction, but age and settling can create gaps for air to move freely. Here are some things to inspect:
    • Windows and doors can allow air to freely move. Caulk and weather-stripping are quite effective. When you feel a cold draft coming in, know that an equal volume of warm air is leaving the building envelope.
    • Put your hand near electrical outlets. If you feel a draft, faceplate insulation is available to reduce the amount of air movement.

Practical Steps to Increase Heater Efficiency

  • Solar gain is free! Glass is a poor insulator and allows heat to travel from the warm side to the cold side reducing your heater efficiency. Solar gain is radiant energy coming from the sun, even on cold winter days.
    • Open the curtains during sunny days on the south side of the house. While the sun appears to move from east to west, it will always shine on the south side during the winter months. Plenty of heat will radiate through the windows, moving inside, even when it is cold. It makes the space cheery and bright. Be sure to protect sensitive materials from UV light.
    • Once the sun sets, close curtains and drapes to prevent the warm indoor air from traveling outdoors.
  • Take note of appliances and activities that warm your home. Appliances that clean typically also generate heat. Adjusting your schedule slightly can contribute warmth at the right time.
  • Use the clothes washer, dryer, and dishwasher during cold, evening hours and take advantage of the residual heat from these processes. If you prefer not to hear the noise, set a timer to begin cycles as the family is getting ready for bed.
  • Remember that baking and cooking will contribute substantial heat during the winter months. Plan accordingly, but NEVER use unvented gas appliances as a heat source.
  • Consider skipping the bathroom exhaust vent during showers to keep warm, moist air indoors instead of sending it outside. Indoor air tends to be drier during the winter months, so that might be a bonus.
  • Learn to use ceiling fans appropriately for the season to improve heater efficiency. Look for the switch on each ceiling fan that changes the direction of the blades. Which way should it turn? Simply remember—cool down/warm up. Warm air moves up and is trapped near the ceiling. A slow setting with the blades moving in a clockwise motion will pull cold air up and push warm air down.

Need help with improving your heater efficiency?

Let us know how we can help with your furnace and heater efficiency, call AllCool AC & Heating at 281-238-9292 or contact us via email.

Heater Efficiency