Barron Heating AC Electrical & Plumbing Blog: Archive for the ‘Annual Maintenance’ Category

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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4 Steps to Reduce Spring Allergens in Your Home

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

It’s not called “allergy season” for nothing.

Spring is finally in the air! And with the arrival of birds, blue sky and warmer weather  comes pesky allergens that can aggravate you and your family and negatively impact health. Keep the pollen, dust mites, and pet dander at bay by regularly maintaining your HVAC system. The better it runs, the happier and healthier your home will be.

Change Your Filters

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: pay attention to your filters! Check your filters every month, and replace every 3 months or so depending on wear. You want to make sure your unit is working efficiently to keep particles and allergens out of your family’s space, especially when any members are particularly susceptible (like asthma sufferers).

Check for Mold

Mold is an unfriendly guest no matter where you find it. It can be especially irritating when it takes up in your HVAC system, worsening allergies and overall health. If you see mold or notice a musty smell coming from your vents, it may be time to schedule a duct cleaning.

Seal it up

To prevent excess pollen and other particulates from making their way inside your home, one DIY approach is to weatherstrip, caulk or spray foam around windows, doors, and other problem areas. Taking these measures can help your air conditioner or heating system run to its fullest efficiency (and save you money).

Call in a Professional

After you’ve made the rounds yourself, it’s never a bad idea to get a full system checkup from a trained professional. Much like your family’s health, your HVAC system is an investment; it needs to be treated with care and attention to be at its best.

Don’t wait until your whole family is sneezing and miserable, contact Barron Heating & Air Conditioning to schedule a maintenance appointment today!

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6 Tips to Keep Your Wallet Happy This Winter

Wednesday, December 14th, 2016

Don’t let your winter heating costs get you down


Sure, in the short walk from your heated car to your heated office the cold winter air may be refreshing, but I’m sure there are few among us who don’t appreciate the comfort of a well-heated house at the end of the day. I’ll also bet there are few among us whose energy bills don’t see some kind of spike in these winter months either. That part’s not so comforting.

But before you scramble to take up residence someplace more tropical, we’ve put together 6 tips to help keep your house warm and wallet happy this winter.

1. Go smart (with a smart/programmable thermostat)

Automatically control the temperature of your house when you’re working, sleeping, or otherwise occupied with a programmable thermostat, and you can save from 5 to 20% on your heating bill. No need to worry about remembering to turn your heat down when you leave the house–programmable thermostats take the hassle out of heating.

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Annual Furnace Service (Part I of our Annual Maintenance Series!)

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

Most of us are pinching pennies after the holidays. This means that home maintenance services that aren’t absolutely necessary often get pushed to the back burner. I’ve heard many folks (myself included!) wonder things like “Is annual maintenance really necessary for my furnace,” or “couldn’t I do that myself and save some money?”

These are great questions! Let’s demystify annual HVAC maintenance by going over: 1. Why an annual service might be important 2. Whether or not all HVAC maintenance is performed equally 3. What, exactly, your service tech (or, what a good one, anyway) should be accomplishing during their visit, and 4. Could annual maintenance be a DIY project?

Is annual maintenance important for your furnace or heating system?

The short answer is yes. But let’s not leave it at that.

Houses are like cars in many ways (except if you’re lucky, you don’t spend nearly as much time in your car as you do your home). So, why is it that most people agree regular car maintenance is critical, whereas it still seems up for debate that your home also needs scheduled care from a professional? Like a car, home heating systems are composed of many intricate parts that all have to work together to deliver healthy, warm, efficient, and cost-effective heat. And, like an inspection and oil change for your car, a regular inspection and maintenance for your furnace can undoubtedly extend the life of your heating system, and the overall health of your home.

Most people know what happens to a car without the routine recommended maintenance. But what happens to your home without an annual furnace maintenance?

A neglected furnace or heating system could result in:

  1. Utility bills going up. No one wants to spend more money on monthly heat bills than they need to. No one. A high heat bill is one major indicator that your furnace needs attention.
  2. Your furnace could need replacing sooner. ALL furnace manufacturers recommend a yearly service. Having to buy a new furnace could mean prematurely shelling out thousands of dollars to keep your family comfortable. If you can extend the life of your current system with under $150 per year, you probably should.
  3. A furnace that hasn’t been properly cleaned can overheat, become clogged, start a fire, release carbon monoxide into your home (cracked heat exchanger), or simply make your furnace shut off. I don’t know about you, but I’d prefer a yearly maintenance to breathing carbon monoxide, yikes!
  4. Illnesses and allergies can be (and often are) caused or exacerbated by faulty or dirty heating systems. This is the air your family breathes, after all.

Are all Annual Maintenance calls performed equally?

Will these items listed above be addressed when you schedule a service call? Unfortunately, the answer is maybe. The service you receive can vary drastically depending on who you call and what you pay. One company can give your furnace or boiler a clean bill of health; whereas another company could come in a week later and find that a multitude of things were not properly taken care of.

There seems to be no industry standard for what is included in an annual maintenance appointment. Many companies offer a “basic tune-up,” a “comprehensive maintenance,” or something by a different name or somewhere in between.  Your best bet is to ask the technician what they will be doing exactly. He or she should be able to quickly give a complete list of items they’ll be cleaning or checking; it should look something like the list below.

What exactly needs to be done annually?

This checklist is the minimum of what should be performed at a comprehensive service appointment. A good HVAC company will also take note of the home performance implications that arise. Technicians who are trained to identify home performance issues will recognize things like duct leakage, house leakage, excessive dust in the home or ducts, rodent issues, and other problems that won’t necessarily be resolved by routine furnace maintenance. Finding and addressing these home performance gaps will lead to a much more efficient, healthy, and warm home.

Basic Annual Furnace Maintenance:

  1. Test temperature rise through furnace
  2. Test all furnace safety controls for proper operation
  3. Test thermostat for proper operation
  4. Test and adjust furnace gas pressure if applicable
  5. Check furnace electrical connections and wiring condition
  6. Test furnace sequence of operation
  7. Clean furnace blower compartment
  8. Check and clean furnace burner compartment
  9. Check furnace blower wheel
  10. Check and clean furnace burners if applicable
  11. Inspect venting for rust and/or corrosion
  12. Check and clean flame sensor and pilot assembly if applicable
  13. Lubricate all moving parts if applicable
  14. Replace furnace filter
  15. For all fossil-fuel burning equipment: Carbon Monoxide Detection test performed in living area

Could the homeowner do all of this herself?

The homeowner could in fact do all of these things, but only if they know how to perform all or most of the items on the list above. I for one, don’t know anyone who isn’t an HVAC professional who can adequately execute all of these checks and cleanings. A heating professional should be able to complete and explain to you everything on the list above; which is what makes them worth the 100 to 150 bucks it costs to do it right!

Hopefully this post has helped to take some of the complexity and mystery out of the annual furnace maintenance. Keeping your annual appointment is all about preventative measures. Following recommended maintenance will likely keep you warm and healthy longer, and keep unexpected furnace shut-downs at bay!

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