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HVAC Air Filters: All Your Questions Answered

If you own or rent a home, you’ve likely changed your air conditioning unit’s air filter. If not, you might want to go take a look now. Depending on where you live in the United States, you’ll need to replace your air filter every month or just a few times a year. When to replace your air filter is dependent on a number of factors including:

  • AC run time
  • Number of people living in your home
  • Health conditions that might require cleaner air such as allergies or asthma
  • Number of pets living in your home
  • The location and environment of your home

Let’s answer some other common questions we receive from our customers and home owners about air filter replacement.

Why is replacing my home’s air filter important?

Replacing your air filter will improve the comfort levels of your home by improving Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) and the longevity of your AC unit by filtering out dust, allergens, and other debris that can be harmful to both you and your HVAC system.

 

How often should I replace my home’s air filter?

There are many factors to answering this question but here are some general guidelines:

  • Typical house with no pets: every 3-4 months
  • House with pet(s): 1-2 months
  • Vacation property with limited use: 6-12 months

 

Does climate have an effect on my home’s air filter?

Yes, it most certainly does. In warmer clients where your AC unit is running consistently, you’ll need to change out your air filter every 1-2 months. In areas with high levels of dust, sand, or other particles, you’ll also want to change out your air filter on a monthly basis for best results. 

 

What direction should I install the air filter in my HVAC system?

When installing a new air filter directly into your furnace or AC unit, you want the arrow facing up into your main duct work and away from your return ducts. Air will flow from your return ducts, into your HVAC system, and then back into the main vents of your home.

 

If you still feel uncertain about the upkeep of your HVAC system or replacing your home’s air filter, Contact Us and one of our experts would be happy to assist you.

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4 Reasons to Own a Smart Programmable Thermostat

1. Remote Accessibility

Most homeowners only have 1 thermostat in their home, meaning there is only one place to control and access the temperature throughout their house. Smart thermostats fix this problem by allowing users to access their thermostat from any device capable of connecting to WIFI. Whether you prefer to use your phone, laptop, tablet or Amazon Alexa – there is a solution for you. There are many examples of people who benefit from this technology, but remote access is an especially wonderful tool for people who have a tough time getting around their homes. Once the thermostat is synced up to your preferred technology,  you can easily access the thermostat controls from anywhere with WIFI. Technology isn’t always about making the lazy people, lazier! It is fair to say, once you own a smart thermostat you’ll never go back.

2. Temperature Control

There are many reasons for investing in a smart thermostat, but this is really what drives most people to upgrading their home thermostat. Remote temperature control not only offers improved comfort, but it also saves you on your monthly utility bill. There are likely hours that go by everyday where your house sits vacant. For many homeowners, they leave their heat and air running during these times, wasting energy and increasing their utility costs. A programmable thermostat allows you to setup a schedule for your thermostat – 7 days a week. You can control the times your HVAC unit kicks on and off, and set different temperatures for your home throughout the day. While you are at work, keep your home in the high 70s and when 5:30 hits and you are pulling into your driveway, have your A/C kick on so you can enjoy a comfortable home.

3. Reliable Diagnostics

Have you ever found yourself wanting to check the health of your HVAC system but unsure of where to start? We’ve all probably changed out the filters in our home HVAC system, but for many of us that’s where our knowledge ends. Smart thermostats now offer real-time diagnostics capable of monitoring the health of your entire HVAC system. Many of the new innovative thermostats even notify your HVAC company when there is an issue. This is a pretty nifty feature when you think about it and can help catch issues with your HVAC system sooner rather than later, potentially saving you money and improving the longevity of your system.

4. Multi-Functional

Nowadays, thermostats are used for more than just controlling the temperature of your home or office. As with any industry, HVAC manufacturers are constantly looking for new ways to innovate their products and make them more appealing, user-friendly and functional for their users. Steve’s Heating’s featured thermostat is the Trane ComfortLink II XL1050. This piece of technology is a smart and programmable thermostat that packs a bunch of extra features beyond controlling the temperature of your home. Who knew HVAC products could be so cool! Companies like Trane understand thermostats aren’t the most beautiful wall decoration so some of their latest products utilize a new slick look that can be customized to better fit the appearance of your home. If a customizable appearance isn’t enough, you can turn your thermostat into a digital picture frame and even check the weather!

Are you interested in learning more about programmable thermostats? Give us a call and we’d be happy to answer any of your questions!

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HVAC Maintenance Check List for Your Summer Tune-Up

We all want the perfect amount of heat during the winter and just the right amount of cool during the summer. And while this is perhaps most obvious during the months of subzero temperatures and scorching heat waves, home heating and air conditioning is usually the last thing on our mind when the weather is nice. But now isn’t just a time to crack the windows in your home and enjoy 70-degree weather. Now is also the best time for an HVAC inspection and maintenance.

If your heat pump or air conditioner malfunctions, you may have to go several days without it while you wait for a repair or – worse – several weeks without cool air if it needs to be replaced. You can prevent this from happening! Best of all, routine HVAC maintenance will also improve your system’s performance, extend its life, and reduce your energy bill. Talk about comfort on multiple levels!

Here are steps that you can take now so you can be comfortable this summer.

HVAC Maintenance Checklist

Homes with an HVAC system either have a heat pump or a conventional air conditioner. While each functions differently in the way they heat and cool your home, they typically benefit from the same, general maintenance. Moreover, both typically consist of two halves: an indoor unit and an accompanying outdoor unit. For your tune-up, we’ll start with your outside unit.

#1. Turn the Power Off

Before you begin working on your HVAC system, you need to turn the power off. Most outside units have a disconnector located only a few feet away. Most disconnectors consist of a handle that is covered by a lid or panel. Pulling on this handle will cut off power to the unit, but not the flow of electricity to the disconnector. In other words, the disconnector will remain “live.” It’s imperative that you cover the disconnector and ensure that none of its other areas are exposed before proceeding. For added safety, you can locate the breaker that controls your HVAC system and switch it off.

Safety should be your highest priority. If you have concerns at any point during this process, contact an HVAC technician to handle your heat pump or A/C maintenance for you.

Maintaining the Outdoor Unit

#2. Inspect the Unit Panels

Extreme weather is harsh on outside units. As you would expect, outdoor units are enclosed in panels that protect their electrical components from the elements. Check every side of the unit to ensure that panels are intact. If panels are missing or misaligned, possibly due to a storm, you could reattach or realign the panel if it’s a simple fix. However, if electrical components are exposed, you should contact an HVAC technician to fix it for you. If so, avoid starting your system again until the unit is fully enclosed.

#3. Clear Away Debris

Winter may have left dirt and debris in the exterior condenser or compressor of your unit. In this case, you can use a heavy-duty degreaser, a hand vacuum, and good old fashioned effort to clean away leaves and other waste caught in the unit. In most cases, you will also need a screwdriver or wrench to reach the interior.

Take this opportunity to cut back any vegetation within 2 feet around your unit. While shrubs are other plants are not direct obstructions, they can still affect the airflow around your unit.

#4. Repair or Replace Pipe Insulation

Check the conduit pipe that runs between your outside unit and its inside counterpart. When this pipe is properly insulated, it will maximize your energy efficiency and consequently save you money. Otherwise, you could be making your HVAC system work harder to do less and be paying more as a result. If your insulation is thin or disintegrated, you can repair or replace it with a layer of fiberglass, foam rubber, or polyethylene foam.

#5. Clean or Replace Air Filters

Like insulation, a clean air filter provides significant benefits for relatively minor work. Depending on HVAC system, your unit will either have filters that can be cleaned or filters that are disposable and will need to be replaced. Either way, make sure to clean or replace your filters every one to three months, unless instructed otherwise by your manufacturer.

Maintaining the Indoor Unit

Now is the time to move inside to work on your blower or furnace. Like before, safety is your highest priority. You’ll want to make sure that the power to the unit is cut off before moving forward.

#6. Clean the Evaporator Coil

Locate and open the door to your unit’s evaporator coil, removing any screws or bolts as necessary. With a soft brush, remove any dust that is present and then spray the coil with a commercial coil cleaner. Next, clean out the drain pan with a mixture of soap, hot water, and a little bit of bleach. Then, pour a mixture of half a cup of bleach with a half a cup of water down the drain. When you’re done, replace and seal the door.

#7. Check the Drainage Line

Algae and mold can build up within your drainage line causing it to either flow slowly or stop flowing altogether. In order to address this, locate your drainage hose, which is usually a one-inch PVC pipe, and follow it to the end where it trains. In some cases, the line will drain outside near your other unit; however, most will end at a utility sink or floor drain in your basement. Once you’ve located the end of the drain line, attach a vacuum hose to the opening. Finally, run the vacuum for a few minutes to clear away any potential mold or algae buildup inside.

#8. Change the Air Filters

Just like your outside unit, your blower or furnace requires air filters that need to be replaced on a regular basis. This means that you should follow the same steps as you did before while still paying special attention to the type of filter you use and your manufacturer’s guidelines.

#9. Test the Unit

Finally, it’s time to start up your system to check to see if it cools your home adequately. Does everything run smoothly? Does the temperature in your home reach the degree you want it to? Does the temperature in your home change in a reasonable amount of time?

Remember, if you encountered any kind of damage that gave you a reason for concern, you’ll want to skip this step and contact an HVAC technician instead. Moreover, if you’re not fully satisfied with the quality of air in your home, turn to a professional.

Receive Professional HVAC Maintenance

While these steps will help keep your heat pump or air conditioner in good shape, keep in mind that there are some maintenance items that only a professionally trained HVAC technician can handle. These advanced procedures, together with the items listed above, will ensure that your units are in top form and fully prepare for the summer ahead. Moreover, there may be instances where you lack the tools to do some of the aforementioned steps yourself. In either case, it’s a good idea to call an HVCA professional to make sure your system is blowing cool air – and not just blowing air – when it’s sweltering outside.

At Steve’s Heating & Cooling, our goal is to provide residents of Northern Kentucky and the surrounding tri-state with ideal home comfort. We provide emergency HVAC repair maintenance as well as free estimates for system repairs and replacements. Our certified technicians are available 24/7, 365 days a year and just a phone call or e-mail away! Call us at (859) 795-2172 or e-mail us and rest assured that you’re in good hands.

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HVAC Replacement

Why Replace a Furnace Sooner Rather Than Later?

When a family comes into a bit of extra money, they may decide to take a trip or buy a new car. They rarely jump right to, “Let’s replace the furnace.” However, there are several reasons why HVAC replacement may be a necessity, including:

  • Impending cold weather – many homes in sub-freezing climes depend on the furnace to keep pipes from freezing and bursting. Furnace replacement can lessen the possibility of much more expensive repairs.
  • Keeping utility bills under control – older furnaces tend to be less efficient.
  • Keeping HVAC operation safe – older or faulty units can pose a hazard to the family.

Warning Signs

Many families wait until their furnaces fail before taking action. However, a better strategy for reducing repair costs and keeping the HVAC system in tip-top shape is to watch for furnace warning signs.  These include:

  • The age of the furnace – units have an average life expectancy of 16 to 20 years. If your unit is long in the tooth, consider an inspection.
  • Rising gas or electric bills – aging units operate less efficiently than new or well-maintained units. This means that they run longer to heat the homes to the desired temperature. The high costs of utilities can quickly approach the replacement costs for a new unit.
  • Frequent repairs – like a car, a furnace will need more frequent repairs as time goes on. If the interval between repairs reaches the two year mark, replacement may be a good option.
  • The burner flame changes from a healthy blue to a sickly yellow – a yellow or flickering flame is an indication of poisonous carbon monoxide. Homeowners should take immediate action.
  • Furnace making strange noises – an older unit tends to make popping, rattling, banging, or squealing noises. Before you call the Ghost Hunters, let us inspect your unit.

Before these signs appear, consider setting up a program of annual inspections, in order to maintain your unit properly.

Let Us Take Care of You

Our experts at Steve’s Heating & Cooling are well-qualified to inspect, and if necessary, perform your HVAC replacement. Contact Us today for more information.

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5 Ways A Nest Thermostat Could Save You Money

Maybe you saw it at your doctor’s office, or the first time you walked into your friend’s newly renovated home. Maybe you saw a story about it on the news, or it was in the background of a photo you saved to your “Home Inspiration” board in Pinterest. We’ve all seen one: that small, circular surface with the brightly lit interface that always seems to pop up in trendy spaces. What is it?
It’s a Nest brand thermostat, or more specifically, the Nest Learning Thermostat. The “learning” feature is perhaps the most innovative; the thermostat learns what temperature you like and builds a schedule around it. Something so high-tech has to be completely out of budget for the average homeowner, right? Wrong! A Nest Thermostat can actually save you money—here’s how.

1. Never forget to adjust the temperature again.

After using the Nest Thermometer for a week, it will remember your heating preferences. Do you turn the heat down when you leave for work in the morning, or adjust it to cool your home right before you go to sleep? By remembering these preferences, the Nest Thermostat automates these changes so that you don’t have to think about it, and more importantly, will save you from accidentally leaving your heat on all day and running up your bill.

2. Get rid of costly standing fans and heaters for priority rooms.

Maybe you like a warm home but a cool bedroom, or maybe you can only get work done in your office while it’s nice and toasty but the rest of your family hates the heat. With Nest thermostats, you can set up zoning in your home so that different areas can be heated or cooled differently. This means you can say goodbye to additional space heaters or standing fans. Those are notorious energy-wasters, and having a solution for those will save you money long term.

3. Have complete control over temperature with mobile app, wherever you are. 

It’s your house, so you should be in control. Never worry about the temperature of your home again. Your house can be set to “Away” mode for extended periods of time. This is great for things like vacations. Do you have pets at home, or maybe a relative will be in your home while you’re away? Nothing to worry about, your temperature can be easily adjusted and then readjusted to accommodate changing situations, even when you’re remote.

4. Safety features save you from costly home disasters.

If your home is experiencing extreme heat or cold, Nest will send you alert to avoid damage being done. This is a safety net against huge potential dangers–and thus, potential expenses– for your home, like pipes freezing or overheating your home. Never worry about an unexpected heat or cold wave again, with a Nest Thermostat, your home and your money can be safeguarded with the touch of a button.

5. The first thermostat to get the ENERGY STAR CERTIFIED.

If you’re not yet convinced, you can trust the experts at Energy Star. They are committed to putting their stamp on products that benefit the consumer and the planet, so having a thermostat be energy star certified is huge. One of Nest Thermostat’s ultimate is Eco mode, which can optimize and choose the best, most cost and energy efficient temperature for your home. This type of innovation is what earned them their energy star certification, and also makes them the best choice for cost-conscious consumers.

Those are just the obvious reasons a Nest Thermostat can save you money. Get in touch with the experts at Steve’s Heating to start taking advantage of this new, efficient, money-saving technology today.