When is it Time to Replace Your HVAC System?

HVAC systems are expensive but they certainly make our lives more comfortable throughout the year. Knowing when it will be time to replace your HVAC system is important information because it can help you to plan ahead. Saving up for a replacement will allow you to have the money set aside when it is time to replace your HVAC, putting less stress on you, your wallet, and your household’s budget. Talking to an HVAC specialist can help you to determine the current health of the system, any repairs that might be needed in the near future, and if you will have to make a replacement sooner than expected. Here are some factors to consider if you think your HVAC may be in need of a replacement soon.

  • Age – knowing the age of your HVAC system is really important because it can help you to plan out and save for a replacement. Depending on the quality, maintenance, and overall condition of the HVAC, most systems live from about 10 to 20 years. That is a pretty big range but you should start saving for a new HVAC before you reach the 10 year mark. Systems that are over 10 years old may seem like they are running well but they could actually be really inefficient, which puts a lot of strain on the machine and uses a lot more energy. Regular maintenance from a trained HVAC specialist will improve the efficiency of the system and it will probably help it to last longer. If you start to have issues with your HVAC and it is over 10 years old, you may consider buying a new system, rather than putting money into repairs. Your HVAC specialist will be able to advise you on what would be the best use of your money.
  • Temperature – if you notice fluctuations in temperature throughout your home, or in specific areas, it could be caused by your HVAC. The system may be worn out and working inefficiently if it is older or if it is the wrong size for your home. Other causes for temperature fluctuations could be due to poor insulation in certain spaces or a thermostat that needs replacement. You can have an energy audit done to make suggestions to improve energy efficiency within your home. They can measure how much air escapes due to bad insulation and cracks in doors and windows. You can also upgrade to a smart thermostat to improve energy efficiency and to make sure the thermostat is accurately reporting the temperature. If these don’t improve the temperature through your home, it could be caused by the HVAC system. Talking to a trained HVAC specialist will help you determine which steps you should take.
  • Noises – odd noises coming from your HVAC are generally a sign that something is wrong. There are the sounds your system makes as it turns on and shuts off, and then there are other, more ominous noises. Clangs, bangs, whistles and any other new or weird sound could be cause for alarm. If you do hear anything strange, contact your HVAC specialist immediately. If caught quickly, these issues can sometimes be repaired. However, strange noises often mean that it is time to replace the entire HVAC system.
  • Bills – keeping track of your energy bill is a great habit. It can help you shave off a few dollars by making a few simple adjustments in your daily life. It can also help you to see if there is a problem with your HVAC system. Large jumps in energy bills can be caused by a system that is on its last legs or that has a major issue. You should be monitoring your monthly energy bill but also compare the same time of year. For example, compare your January 2021 bill with your January 2022 bill. Winter months when you are running heat should be similar in cost and summer months with air conditioning should all be close too. An older system often just can’t keep up with demand, and it uses a lot more energy to produce heated or cooled air. If you notice this, it might be time to replace your system. Rather than spending money on increased energy bills, put that money toward a new and more efficient HVAC. 
  • Repairs vs. Replacement – the general rule for any big ticket item is if the repair is more than 50% of the cost to replace it, you should pay for the replacement. This is true for HVAC systems. The average cost of a new system ranges from about $5,000 to $10,000 depending on the size and quality you go with. Repairs can be costly for parts and labor so they can easily add up to more than 50%. Talk to your HVAC specialist to determine if a repair is worth it, or if it makes more sense to put the money toward a new HVAC system. 

The team at Weather Crafters is a group of highly-trained professionals who can answer all your questions when it comes to replacing an HVAC system. Don’t wait until it is the hottest day of the year and your air conditioning fails. Call Weather Crafters today to schedule a maintenance appointment and start planning for the future. 

 

How to Winterize Your HVAC System

Most professional HVAC companies recommend a visit twice a year: once in the spring, before turning on the air conditioning, and once in the fall, before switching over to heat. Staying warm over the winter months is key to your family’s comfort. The Weather Crafters team is made up of highly-trained individuals who can make sure that your heating system is prepped and ready to do its job this winter. Don’t wait until the heat cuts out in the middle of the night, call today to schedule your maintenance visit. There are a few other things you can do to prepare your HVAC system for winter:

CHANGE HVAC FILTER

One of the best and easiest things you can do for your heating and cooling system, throughout the year, is to stay up to date on changing your HVAC filter. Its job is to filter out particles in the air, like dust, mildew, pet dander, bacteria, and other airborne irritants. If the filter isn’t replaced regularly, it becomes clogged and air cannot flow freely through the filter. This causes your HVAC to work less efficiently and puts stress on the system, shortening its lifespan. A clogged filter is also unable to remove irritants properly, which means the air you and your loved ones are breathing is not as clean as it could or should be. Most filters need to be replaced every three months, but the filter itself will tell you how often to change it out. Some factors might decrease the lifespan of a filter, and that is something to think about. If you have pets, smoke indoors, have a wood burning fireplace or stove, live in an area with high air pollution, or if you live with someone with respiratory issues, you might want to consider changing the filter more often, or upgrading to a higher-quality filter. Having a good filter is especially important during the colder months because we spend much more time indoors, viruses are floating through the air during flu season, and we don’t often open windows to allow fresh air in. If you are unsure of how to change your filter, or you want to discuss upgrading to a higher quality one, give Weather Crafters a call and we can walk you through the process.

CLEAN VENTS
Make sure all vents are clean, with no cobwebs clinging to them. You can clean them yourself by removing the grate coverings and using a long-necked vacuum to reach down and vacuum any accumulated dust or debris. If you aren’t interested in the dust and mess that cleaning vents comes with, contact Weather Crafters and one of our highly-trained professionals will handle it for you. The average family generates up to 40 pounds of dust in a year, and much of it gets stuck in the air ducts and vents. No one wants to spend the year breathing it in, yuck!

OPEN AND UNBLOCK ALL VENTS 
While it may seem like a good idea to close vents in rooms and spaces that you don’t often use in order to save energy, it is actually not a good idea. Take a walk around your home and make sure that all vents are in the open position, and that none are blocked by furniture, drapes, or other obstructions. A blocked or closed vent creates a buildup of air that cannot escape through the vent it has been sent to. As more air builds up, this puts pressure on the HVAC system, which begins to work harder and less efficiently. It can also lead to condensation which grows mold and mildew inside the duct-work. If you do have a significant space that you do not want to heat all the time, contact Weather Crafters and ask about zone heating systems.

CHECK, CLEAR, AND COVER CONDENSER UNIT
With most HVAC systems, outside there is a metal box that is part of your air conditioning. This is called the condenser unit, and you need to make sure it is taken care of during the cooler months, even though it isn’t running. Check to make sure it is clear of leaves, sticks, and other debris so that when the warmer months return, it is ready to go. You can also purchase a cover to place over it to ensure that no debris gets in it. Just don’t forget to take the cover off when you are ready to turn the A/C back on.

SCHEDULE A HEATING SYSTEM CHECK
If your home uses a furnace as part of the heating system, it is important to have it checked out before you begin using the heat. Debris builds up throughout the year and needs to be cleaned out each fall to make sure the furnace is operating efficiently and to keep the air in your home healthy. Carbon monoxide is created when your gas-powered furnace is running, and is safely vented outside the home. A cracked heat exchanger can cause carbon monoxide to leak, which can be dangerous or even deadly. Having an annual check up scheduled for your furnace will lower the risk of carbon monoxide issues, and you can also purchase a carbon monoxide detector. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas, which makes detection very difficult for people.

CHECK THE THERMOSTAT
After completing everything on the list, give your thermostat a quick test. Switch the thermostat to “heat” and set it to 70 degrees. Once it has reached that temperature, switch the thermostat to “air conditioning” and set it to 66 degrees. If you do not hear your system switch over and begin to cool your home within a few seconds (maybe a minute), then it is probably time to purchase a new thermostat. Consider a smart thermostat that can be controlled remotely with a phone, smart speaker, tablet or other internet-connected device. They allow you to set the temperature of your house according to your needs verbally using a smart speaker or from work or while on vacation using your phone or tablet. Some can diagnose when there is a problem with your HVAC system, or monitor your energy consumption.

The Importance of Checking your Heating System

Temperatures are slowly starting to cool down and the leaves are starting to change. This means that the cold months are coming and it is time to go through your fall checklist. Not only do you need to rake the leaves and put out the autumn decorations, it is also time to schedule your annual HVAC check up. Here are some reasons why preventative maintenance on your heating system is important:

  • Health – when your heating system runs off fossil fuels there is the potential for a gas leak that could be deadly. The most common problems come from carbon dioxide leaks, but methane and sulfur dioxide are dangerous too. According to the CDC, over 400 Americans die each year, and 20,000 people visit the emergency room due to accidental carbon monoxide poisoning. It is hard to detect carbon monoxide because it is an odorless, colorless gas which means you can’t see it or smell it if there is a leak. Common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include dizziness, vomiting, chest pain, and a feeling of weakness. By having your heating system checked annually, you can reduce the risk of gas leaks in your home. If the heat exchanger becomes cracked, it could leak gases into the home. Trained specialists will check for any signs of leaks, damage, or faulty parts that could lead to bigger issues in the future. You can also protect your loved ones by installing a carbon monoxide detector next to each bedroom.
  • Lifespan – regular preventative maintenance is the best way to ensure that your heating system lives as long as possible. Replacing your heating system can cost anywhere from about $3,000 to $10,000, so the longer your current system can operate, the more money you are saving. When completing a preventative maintenance visit, technicians will thoroughly check all the parts of the furnace or heat pump and look for any signs of wear and tear. A worn out part could cause damage to the rest of the system, or make things work harder than they should be. This can greatly reduce the lifespan of your heating system, which means you end up spending a lot more money. An $8,000 system that lives 8 years costs you $1,000 a year. The same system that lives 18 years costs you less than $450 a year. The longer a heating system runs efficiently, the less it costs overall. Preventative maintenance may seem like an upfront cost that you don’t want to pay for, but it will save you a significant amount of money in the years to come.
  • Energy Efficiency – keeping your heating system operating as efficiently as possible is great for many reasons. Efficient systems use less energy and don’t put as much stress on the machine as a system that has not been taken care of. Using less energy is great for the environment and great for your wallet. Not only do you save money on your energy bill, you also save money by not having to buy a new heating system.
  • Warranty – many heating systems come with a warranty, but the warranty is only good if you have documented maintenance completed every year. Schedule your annual check up with a certified HVAC specialist and make sure you save the paperwork so that your warranty stays valid.

What does an inspection check?

  • Look for a clean pilot light and ensure that flame sensor works
  • Make sure there is no dust or debris in burner compartment or in other moving parts
  • Inspect blower wheel and check that filters are all in good condition and clean
  • Check size of burner flame and ensure there is a steady flame
  • Check the condition of heat exchanger or combustion chamber, no signs of wear and tear
  • Check for carbon monoxide or other gases in furnace or boiler
  • Ensure exhaust vent is unobstructed and that it is correctly sized
  • Apply oil to motors and provide service to belts as needed

Don’t wait until your heater cuts off in the middle of a particularly cold stretch this winter. Many of the parts and equipment needed to make repairs on heat pumps, furnaces, and other HVAC systems are difficult to get in a timely manner these days because of backups in the supply chain. Waiting until a problem comes up is not a good idea, plan ahead. Schedule an appointment today with Weather Crafters and don’t get left out in the cold this winter!

Time for Fall Maintenance

While many of us aren’t ready for summer to be over, the season is winding down, and cool weather will start to creep in over the next month or so. It is time to begin prepping your home for winter by completing fall maintenance for your heating and air conditioning. Get your HVAC system ready for the switch from air conditioning to heating by following a quick checklist, and by scheduling a tune-up with one of our certified technicians. Here are a few things you can do, on your own.

  • Clean your outdoor unit – The condenser unit is the part of your HVAC system that is outside, the big box that blows hot air when the air conditioning is running. Check that it is clear of any obstructions or debris. Leaves, grass clippings, and fallen branches can obstruct the flow of air and this makes the HVAC system work harder to push air out. You should check that the condenser is clear of debris periodically throughout the year, but it is especially important in the fall, when the trees start to lose their leaves.
  • Check thermostat – Give your thermostat a little test by adjusting the temperature and checking to see if the proper temperature is displayed. If you have a programmable thermostat, it is a good time to review what has been programmed and make adjustments. Fall mornings tend to be chilly, so you may want to adjust what temperature has been set for your wake up time.
  • Change filter – you should be changing the filter in your HVAC about every 3 months. It is especially important in the fall because of the increase in allergens in the air. In the mid Atlantic ragweed is one of the most common and most irritating allergens in the autumn. This is because this weed can grow almost anywhere, and when released, it’s pollen can travel for miles through the air. It is hard to get away from. If you or a loved one suffers from seasonal allergies, changing your filter will help improve the air quality in your home. You can also look into purchasing a higher quality filter to remove more irritants from the air. Talk to your HVAC specialist about what type of filter would be best for your home.
  • Adjust ceiling fans – during the summer, your ceiling fans should rotate counter clockwise, to push air down and create a breeze in your home. In the fall, it is the opposite. The fans should rotate clockwise, slowly, to pull cool air upward to reduce heating costs. Most fans have a small, black switch that should be up in the winter and down in the summer. The switch controls the fan’s rotation.
  • Regular maintenance – Most HVAC technicians will recommend that you have regular maintenance completed on your system twice a month – once in the spring, before turning on your air conditioning, and once in the fall, before switching over to heat. The average lifespan of an HVAC system can range from 15 to 25 years. A system that has been well cared for will save you a lot of money over the years, as new HVACs cost anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000. Having regular tune-ups with a trend technician will ensure that your system is running as efficiently as possible. An efficient system uses less energy and causes less wear and tear – meaning you pay less on your energy bill and your system will live longer. Technicians are also trained to be on the lookout for any warning signs and can fix small issues before they become big problems.

Getting your home ready for fall can be intimidating but having a checklist to follow will help you to know how to get started. Your HVAC system is one of the most important and most expensive parts of your home. Take care of it, and it will take care of you. Give Weather Crafters a call today to schedule a semi-annual HVAC maintenance appointment with one of our highly trained staff.

HVAC Repair Costs on the Rise

HVAC Repair Costs on the Rise

Due to issues caused by the pandemic, the cost of materials are on the rise in almost all areas – manufacturing homes, vehicles, and in the HVAC world. Materials have become harder to find and the wait time for certain items has increased from a few days or weeks to multiple months. The cost of raw materials has gone up, as well as labor rates and transportation and fuel prices to move materials. As a result, over the past few months, HVAC suppliers have raised the prices on new units, parts, and materials – anywhere from 3-9%. The demand for efficient heating and cooling systems have also increased because more people are staying home and opting to work from home when possible. Due to all these factors, buying a new HVAC or having repairs done to your existing system will most likely be more expensive than you anticipated.

How can you combat the rising prices when it comes to your HVAC unit? Give your system a little more TLC. There are many things you can do on your own to help your unit function more efficiently, and an efficient unit leads to a longer lifespan and less repairs in the long run. If you have questions about your HVAC system contact us! Here are some ways you can help your heating and cooling system:

Change the filter

You should change the filter of your HVAC system about every 3 months, depending on what the filter’s label says. The filter is supposed to remove particles from the air to allow you to have cleaner air in your home or office. If a filter becomes too full of particles, it no longer filters things properly. It also causes the system to work harder, trying to push air through a clogged filter. This means the HVAC is not running efficiently and that can decrease its efficiency and put strain on the machine.

Clear out the outdoor condenser unit

The condenser unit is the big box that is usually outside your home, which blows hot air when the air conditioner is on. It moves hot air to the outside. Because it is outside, it can become clogged with debris, such as leaves and sticks. Check to make sure that nothing is blocking air flow around the condenser unit every month or so. If air is not flowing efficiently, this can lead to overwork of the system, and parts may wear out more quickly.

Check your vents

Make sure all the vents are open and clear in your home. You may think that closing a vent in a room you don’t use helps to not waste heated or cooled air. However, that’s not the case. Your HVAC system is made to heat or cool enough air for a specified amount of space. If you live in a 1,500 square foot home your HVAC is rated for that amount of space. If you close off the guest room, then your system is still producing the same amount of hot or cold air. The closed vent prevents air from flowing, and then a back up is caused. So in reality, the system must work harder to push past the air that is becoming backed up from the closed vent. A similar situation can occur if you have a vent blocked by a couch or a curtain.

These are simple checks that you can do on your own. For a more in depth analysis of your system, you should schedule an appointment with a certified HVAC specialist. We recommend that you schedule twice a year, once before turning on the air conditioning, and once before switching over to heat. By working with an HVAC specialist, they can help you by recommending changes that will help your system run more efficiently and be on the lookout for any warning signs of upcoming issues. By catching a problem early, a small repair could solve the issue, before it becomes a bigger, more expensive fix. Call Weather Crafters today to schedule your next maintenance visit!