Barron Heating AC Electrical & Plumbing Blog: Archive for the ‘Air conditioning’ Category

Our #1 Tip for Living Comfortably This Summer

Monday, April 19th, 2021
tech-working-on-outdoor-ac-unit

It’s natural for homeowners these days to be concerned with their home comfort, health, and safety. While there are many ways to ensure this is the case, there is one in particular that is important this time of year—air conditioning maintenance.

Professional maintenance is one of those services that homeowners often see as optional. However, much like maintenance on your car with oil changes, brake checks, and tire rotations, your cooling system cannot perform as efficiently and effectively as possible without this very important service.

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Get Your AC Unit Ready for Summer

Monday, April 23rd, 2018

Don’t wait until your family is uncomfortably hot this summer to check in on your air conditioning unit. Make sure its ready to beat the heat by following these simple steps below.

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Spring Maintenance Checklist

Monday, March 20th, 2017

Is your house ready for spring?

Man Cleaning Gutters on Ladder

Although this winter has brought us an unusual amount of school-canceling, perilous-driveway-navigating, and downright gloomy weather, spring is inevitable. And while this light at the end of the tunnel may seem miles and miles away, the last thing we want is for the warmer weather to take us (and our house) by surprise.

What are some steps to take towards a smooth spring transition?

Exterior Inspection

While we have the ability to don our heavy-duty rain apparel in wet weather, our houses are outside and without Gortex through rain, wind, sleet, and snow here in the Pacific Northwest. At the end of every winter season  it’s a good idea to do a walkaround of your property and visually inspect your property to catch issues, especially in the following problem areas:

Roof

Your roof takes the brunt of winter weather. You can even do a simple inspection of your roof without stepping on a ladder. If your eyesight isn’t the best, grab a pair of binoculars or even your iPhone camera to zoom in and check for obvious changes. Shingles popping up, buckling, cracking, or just not looking right? Better call in a roofer to tackle things.

Chimney

Although your masonry fireplace may have been cozy in the winter, water damage to your chimney joints can leave your house decidedly un-cozy if not taken care of. If you spot crumbling masonry, vegetation, or a calcium-like buildup on your chimney, you may need to reseal your chimney with a water-resistant barrier.

Gutters

Get rid of those leaves taking up residence in your gutters and downspouts. You wouldn’t want accumulated debris causing water damage to your eaves or trim, or pooling around your foundation, would you? Full gutters may also be inviting to critters who can wreak havoc on your attic space.

Windows

Check to make sure any caulking or weather stripping around your windows is intact and recaulk if needed; a tight seal around your windows will keep leakage to a minimum and will help your heating/cooling system to work more efficiently. It doesn’t hurt to give your windows a solid cleaning as well–but try to avoid harsh chemicals and abrasives when doing so as to not cause damage to the glass, sills, frames, or screens.

Deck and Porches

Decks, patios, porches, stairs and railings may need special attention after a long and wet winter. Check to make sure there is no warping, discoloration, splintering, loose boards or accumulated debris. Wood decks and fences should also be treated every 4-6 years, if the stain doesn’t look like it should or water has turned some of the wood a dark grey, hire a deck professional to treat your deck and fence.

Landscape

Trim vegetation back from structures; errant limbs and leaves can leave marks in your home’s paint and may require time and money to fix. You can also start planning or executing projects–like gardens, ponds, walkways, or any other landscaping changes you’d like to make on your property so that you’re not behind come summer.

Interior Upkeep

Bust out the Dustbuster, unearth the mop, and take a deep breath: spring is in the air. Or is that just the smell of Lemon Pledge? Cleaning up around the house is a great way to usher in a new season and get us ready for warmer weather. Now that the outside of our house is taken care of, what’s on the list for the inside?

General Cleaning

Here’s where that Pledge may come in handy. Doing a sweep of the house and cleaning the oft neglected things–dusty nooks and crannies, window coverings, tops of cabinets, ceiling fans, backsplashes, etc.–will not only make things look nicer, it was also improve your indoor air quality (IAQ) by eliminating some pesky allergens like dust and pet dander.

Read: Got Dust? The Spots You May Be Missing

Air Conditioner Maintenance

Speaking of limiting allergens–making sure your air conditioner is running smoothly and efficiently is an excellent way to keep you and your home healthy. You should change the filter, check hose connections for leaks, and make sure the drain pans are draining freely. You can always schedule a maintenance appointment with a professional if you suspect your unit is not functioning properly.

Attic Inspection

Mold, insects, and mice–oh no! Inspect your attic and crawl spaces to make sure none of these invasive issues have made your home <their home. The right ventilation and insulation will deter mold or pests from colonizing further (especially in the warmer months to come). If you’re not comfortable doing this yourself, bringing in a professional may be necessary to fully assess the situation.

Read: 10 Things You Don’t Know Are in Your Crawlspace

Basement Care

Much like your attic, your basement requires special seasonal attention as well. Basements are prone to dampness and insects and need to be ventilated properly. If you spot cracks in poured-concrete walls, find insect tunnels in any wood framing, or suspect other issues, you may need to call in a professional to keep your basement safe.

A new season means a new list of maintenance projects. Stay ahead of the curve by checking in with your home and catching potential issues before they get out of hand and cost you serious time and money. While many aspects of this list can be done by you, the homeowner, there are professionals to help you assess situations and perform more in-depth maintenance if need be. What’s on your spring cleaning list?

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Trends in HVAC: 3 Areas Driving Advancements in Technology

Thursday, December 8th, 2016
via PrincipiaConsulting.com

Leading and emerging trends in the air conditioning market

The market for technology in the HVAC market is rapidly ever-changing. Developments for future technology focus on convenience and the user experience. Although the evolution of these products in HVAC may be in their infancy, most organizations are predicting that user experience will define the industry for years to come. The emphasis on convenience is creating increased demand for technology that may not even exist yet.

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Which is the BEST HVAC brand?

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2015

Government and utility consumer protection authorities unanimously agree that your satisfaction depends much more on picking the right contractor than a particular equipment brand.


One question we are asked time and time again is “What brand of furnace or air conditioner should I buy?”

Once a homeowner becomes more informed about the secrets of the HVAC industry, they always realize that the brand question is almost irrelevant.

Regardless of brand, today’s equipment is very well made. Modern air conditioners and furnaces are similar to modern televisions. It’s almost impossible to buy a bad TV nowadays. All the major brands make really excellent products that rarely break down. Like a TV, modern heating and cooling equipment is also very well made and dependable.

Unfortunately, the comparison stops there. When you buy a TV you can take it home, unpack it and plug it in. While a TV works right out of the box, a central air conditioner, heat pump or furnace must be very carefully selected and installed in order to work as the manufacturer intended. It can’t be just plugged in. Unfortunately for consumers, the installing contractor is the weak link in the chain.

A replacement HVAC system is NOT a plug-in appliance. It is much more like a home renovation project – which depends much more on the contractor than on the renovation materials used.

Government and utility consumer protection authorities unanimously agree that your satisfaction depends much more on picking the right contractor than a particular equipment brand. Energy Star says a good contractor:

  1. Will ask lots of questions about how the old system performed, and what you are hoping the new system will do.
  2. Will measure and inspect your home and recommend the right size system for your home.
  3. Will inspect or test your existing air duct system, explain the possible impact your old ducts will have on your new equipment, and provide upgrade options.
  4. Will explain multiple options for equipment efficiency, comfort and noise reduction features, warranty – and brand.
  5. Will install and commission your new system properly to best industry practices.

Buying a new heating and cooling system is a big investment – both upfront and long term due to utility and repair costs. Invest the time to become an informed consumer. Focus on the contractor and their business practices, not on the equipment brand or brands they happen to prefer and recommend.

If you are in the market for a new system, give us a call. We’d be happy to come out and chat about your needs, and explain how we follow the best industry practices so that you are 100% satisfied!

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Is Your Home A/C Ready?

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

Wes Diskin performing a Home Performance Assessment

The first step in purchasing an Air Conditioner

Before you buy an Air Conditioning Unit, you’ll want to be sure the cool air you’re paying for is not being lost through faulty ducts, home air leakage, and poor insulation. There is a lot a green air conditioning contractor can do to get your home A/C ready!

Now, adding air conditioning CAN be as simple as calling the HVAC company to install a unit. But, as with all things HVAC, the most simplistic answer is not the smartest answer in the long-run. Having diagnostic tests run on your home (or a home performance test) is the only way to know the condition of the home and therefore the only way to install the most cost-effective, comfortable, energy efficient, and healthy air conditioning possible.

Here’s a sample run-through of what you should expect before an A/C install. Be sure to choose a Heating & Cooling company that has a thoroughly trained Home Performance team.

Assess the Current Situation: Furnace, Fuel, Investment

The first thing that should happen is to look at the heat delivery system currently in place. If the furnace and ducting system test well and are in good shape, it’s possible to use the ducting that’s already there. If not, ductless may very well be the way to go. Ductless also offers the option of zonal A/C, which can be handy for certain homes.

Next, it’s important to think about the fuel type. Folks who have natural gas as their heating fuel can pretty easily add an A/C unit to the existing system (if it tests well) and go with a less expensive installation cost. However, if a homeowner is using a more expensive heating fuel like electric, propane, or oil, it probably makes more sense to convert the whole system to a forced-air or ductless heat pump (which both include A/C) because the efficiency of the heat pump technology will allow that new system to pay for itself rapidly.

Diagnostics are Key

A Blower-Door Test is the key to understanding air flow patterns and problems. What is the heat gain in the home?

To be truly A/C-ready, you’ll want a trained Home Performance Technician (all estimators at Barron can do this) to run diagnostics on your house. They will use a blower-door, an infrared camera, a smoke-puffer, and/or other devices as needed to test the air flow and leakages in your home. There are a lot of questions to answer, such as:

  • What is the heat gain in the home?
  • Where does the sun come in, which direction is the home oriented, what kind of windows are in place?
  • What is the condition of the attic?
  • How much and in what rooms are there air leakage problems?
  • Can the ducts be used effectively (are they leaky?)
  • How much insulation is in the attic, crawl space, and walls?

Without first answering these questions (and taking action to address them), there is no way to ensure you’re dollars spent on conditioned air are being spent effectively. Attic insulation is especially important, as attic temperatures can run very high, making it harder for your A/C unit to do it’s job. If you’re using ducts to deliver your A/C, having them sealed tightly is also a pretty huge deal. Because duct-work is pressurized, leaky ducts can lose massive amounts of conditioned air; not to mention leaky ducts can carry in a bevy of nasty particulates from your insulation or dirty crawl space. A knowledgeable HVAC contractor will be able to apply the principles of building science to your specific home, to get a whole-house perspective.

The Benefits of A/C Readiness

Taking the time to truly be A/C Ready has the obvious benefit of getting the most bang for your buck, but it can be nice to see all the ways and angles that your home, health, and pocketbook will benefit from looking at the big picture. Having your home tested (with Home Performance) and analyzed for A/C Readiness in the end will mean:

  • You’re investing in a permanent and lasting change in your whole home, and not just adding an A/C unit that is more or less only a temporary fix (depending on the state of your home).
  • Any energy upgrades you make will prolong the life of the A/C unit, since it won’t have to work as hard, and there will be less repairs.
  • Big changes to the building envelope and energy upgrades can help when you decide to sell your home.
  • The equipment chosen is guaranteed to be properly sized for your particular home and cooling needs. Detailed diagnostics give us all the clues to choose the best possible system with dialed-in performance.
  • The air you breathe will be cleaner and healthier, which can often relieve certain types of medical symptoms suffered by you and your family.
  • You will be assisting the planet by creating a more energy efficient home!

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