Tuckers Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing Blog: Posts Tagged ‘Darnestown’

Air Conditioning Question: Why Are Clean Filters So Important for Efficiency?

Monday, April 9th, 2012

Your air conditioner cost money to operate – even more when they don’t work at 100% efficiency. So, it is important to perform the various regular maintenance tasks that ensure the system uses as little electricity as possible. The first thing on your list (and the easiest) is cleaning those filters.

Keeping Filters Clean

Did you know that you can lower your air conditioner’s energy use by up to 15 percent by just keeping your filters clean? While that might seem surprising, it actually makes a lot of sense when you consider how the filter works.

The filter on your AC captures dust and debris that is circulated through your system. If you didn’t have a filter at all, the dust and dirt would not only cause problems with some of the mechanical parts of your AC but also reduce your indoor air quality. However, when a filter is clogged, your HVAC system has to work harder to draw air in. Your motor will need more electricity for the same amount of cooling.

It takes very little to clog the filter of an AC unit, especially if it is running 24 hours a day for two or three months out of the year. So, it’s best to check your filters once every 30 days regardless of what type of filter you are using.

Which Filters to Check

The main filter on your AC unit should be checked along with any air handler filters and any air cleaner filters you have installed in your system. Another thing to consider is the condition of your home and the area around your outdoor condenser. If you have pets, lots of plants or your condenser is located in a dusty area, you may need to check and change those filters even more often.

Most filters are located along the return length of the ductwork – sometimes in ceiling ducts and walls, though they may also be located in your furnace’s air handler or inside the air conditioning unit. If you have window units or mini splits, the filters are frequently in the unit.

Clean air filters are important for your health, your wallet and the longevity of your AC system. Stay on top of them and you will save money in more ways than you might expect. If you have any questions about how to best maintain your air conditioner this summer, give Tuckers Air Conditioning & Heating a call today!

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Heating Repair Guide: Flame Sensor Problems

Monday, January 30th, 2012

A flame sensor is a very small and specific component of your Darnestown home’s furnace, but when it is malfunctioning, it can completely shut down the operation of your furnace. To start with, let’s summarize how a flame sensor works.

The flame sensor is a rod that sits directly in the path of one of the burners in your furnace. When the burner is on, the flame passes by the tip of the flame sensor, heating it up. If the furnace is on but the flame sensor is not hot, the furnace automatically switches off to avoid a continuous gas leak. So, the flame sensor is a safety measure.

Sometimes, though, the furnace can be operating just fine, and the burners are firing perfectly, the flame sensor still sends the signal that there is no flame and shuts down the furnace. This is obviously a problem.

Often, this is just a symptom of build-up on the flame sensor that is insulating it and preventing it from heating properly. We strongly recommend that you call a professional to repair it, here are the steps that they will follow:

  1. Locate the flame sensor on the furnace. It is a thin metal rod that extends through a bracket and into the path of the flame as it is expelled from one of the burners.
  2. Turn off the power to the furnace.
  3. Loosen the bracket holding the flame sensor in place and gently withdraw it.
  4. Using fine grit sandpaper or emery cloth, gently rub away any combustion build-up that has accumulated on the end of the flame sensor.
  5. Making sure all the build-up has been removed, replace the flame sensor in the bracket. Turn the furnace back on to test it.

If all went well, the furnace should remain on now, until the desired heating temperature is reached.  Most often, the problem is as simple as giving the flame sensor a good cleaning up. Since you are dealing with quite delicate equipment, you can understand why it is so important to call in a professional if suspect a problem with your flame sensor.

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Heating Tip: Heat Pump Load Calculation

Monday, December 12th, 2011

When purchasing a heat pump in Chevy Chase, the first thing you should do is determine what type of heat pump you want and how big it needs to be to provide ample heating and cooling to your home. If you’re unsure what you need, here are some tips to size a heat pump for your home’s particular needs.

The Importance of Sizing

Before buying anything, consider the cost of an oversized heat pump. A lot of homeowners opt for the biggest device on the market, but they don’t realize that they’re paying more than necessary for their device. An oversized device cycles on and off more often than is necessary and wears down much faster, resulting in an increased electric bill and faster wear on the device. It’s not good for your heat pump or your wallet.

How to Size

To correctly size a heat pump, the first step is to perform a load calculation. This is done by measuring the total volume of the rooms being heated (in cubic meters) and then determining the heating factor based on the type of insulation used.

There are different measurements depending on the type and R-rating of your insulation. For example, a single external wall without any additional insulation has a heating factor of 15. The number of external walls, the insulation in those walls and/or the ceiling and the rating of the insulation will determine the total heating factor for the room.

You will then divide the room volume by the heating factor to determine the number of KW (converted to BTUs) needed to heat that particular room.

Professional Sizing

The reason it is so important to call a professional heating contractor is that certain things, like poorly insulated windows, cracks in the foundation, leaks in the ducts and other issues can have an impact on the overall heating factor measurement. Additionally, the type of heat pump you choose must be effective when connected to an air handler for your entire home. A professional can make these measurements and ensure the right sized device is selected.

If you’re unsure about anything related to sizing and selecting a new heat pump for your home, call an HVAC in. They will perform a full load calculation and present your options for a new heat pump based on those calculations.

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Furnace Safety Tips from Darnestown

Monday, October 17th, 2011

There are many advantages to a safely operating furnace in your Darnestown home. The most important are the safety and comfort of a home’s occupants and the cost of running the furnace. There are several things you can do to ensure the safe operation of your furnace.

Here is a checklist of ideas:

  • Clean or change furnace filters on a regular basis. Replace disposable filters and clean permanent filters using water or cleaning solutions. Your owner’s manual or a qualified heating contractor can suggest a regular maintenance schedule.
  • Check the exhaust vent from the furnace. Clear obstructions such as leaves, clothing, or animal nests from the vent pipe or chimney. Keep roof exhaust vents clear of snow. If there is a faulty exhaust system (like a blocked flue), of if there are cracks and leaks in the pipes or improper adjustment of the burner, or if there is lower air pressure indoors than outside, the furnace can create serious indoor air pollution.
  • A clear air intake is important too, since furnaces need fresh air to “breath” and complete the fuel burning cycle. Again, check for debris, snow, or animal nests in intake pipes.
  • If you have an older gas furnace, you may want to install a supplementary induced-draft fan that reduces the possibility of backdrafting. Some furnaces have automatic shutoff devices that turn off the furnace if it begins to backdraft.
  • Check internal components such as the blower motor and vacuum any dirt. Check belts and pulleys for excessive wear. You should consult your owner’s manual for any suggested maintenance tips on internal working components.
  • You may also want to check the pilot light to see if it is working and if it producing an even, blue flame. If the flame is uneven, it may be a sign of incomplete gas combustion, which can result in the creation of dangerous carbon monoxide gas.
  • Ensure that your thermostat is operating correctly by raising or lowering the temperature settings to make sure the furnace cycles on and off.
  • Install and maintain battery or hard-wired smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Externally vented natural gas furnaces, when properly designed and installed, will operate safely for years. But if you detect a problem, use the most common solution – contact a qualified heating professional to check out your furnace.

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Heat Pump Maintenance: A Guide From Ashton

Friday, October 7th, 2011

Heating and cooling your Ashton home is a priority. You need your home and family to be comfortable all year round, so you either got or are considering a heat pump. These machines are great because under the right circumstances, they are essentially all-inclusive and incredibly efficient solutions for all your home heating and cooling needs.

Notice the “under the right circumstances” part. A number of things have to be considered when choosing a heat pump, such as the climate and the size of your home. But these are not the only circumstances that influence how well your heat pump works for you. Proper maintenance is a vital component of heat pump ownership, ensuring that you get the best performance out of your heat pump for the longest time possible.

A major part of properly maintaining any machine is to keep it clean. A heat pump is no exception. Dirt and dust can affect the efficiency of your heat pump, as well as speed up corrosion problems. Keep the compressor and coils clean. Check them monthly or so and remove any accumulated dirt. Also, consistently check and change filters according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Simple cleaning is an easy and effective first step to heat pump maintenance, but there are some things that you just won’t be able to do on your own. For more intensive maintenance, it is best to call in a professional for an annual inspection.

During a routine maintenance check of your heat pump, a technician will inspect the whole heat pump system for problems. He will clean the compressor and coils, tighten any connections that may have loosened up and change the filters as needed. In addition, a skilled technician will be able to detect any early signs of trouble and make necessary repairs to prevent break downs. These small repairs can prevent big problems later on, thereby preventing some serious discomfort and a possible big expense.

If you are considering a heat pump as a heating and cooling solution for your home, great. If you have already decided on one and had it installed, congratulations on making a smart decision. Now, make another smart decision to protect that investment by keeping your new heat pump properly maintained.

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Most Commonly Asked Questions about Heat Pumps: A Guide From Kentlands

Friday, September 30th, 2011

If you’re thinking about buying a new heat pump for your Kentlands home, chances are you have some questions about these types of products and how they work. In fact, because these types of home comfort systems are relatively new to a lot of people, there are a quite a few misconceptions out there about how effective and efficient they can be.

Recently we’ve gotten some good questions from our readers, so we thought we’d like to pass along the answers so that others can benefit from the information as well.

If I Buy a Heat Pump, Do I Have to Buy an Air Conditioner Too?

That heat pumps are only able to heat your home is probably one of the biggest misconceptions about this type of equipment. Heat pumps work by extracting heat from the air in one place and transferring it to another. That means that in the winter, your heat pump is able to heat your home by taking heat from the outdoor air and moving it inside.

However, in the summer, the heat pump is able to do the same thing only in reverse. When you switch on your heat pump’s cooling function, it will be able to take the heat out of your indoor air and transfer it outside. In this way, the same heat pump system can keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer without you needing to purchase an air conditioner or other supplemental comfort systems.

If I Choose a Heat Pump System, Will I Also Need to Install Supplemental Heat?

That depends on what the climate is like where you live and how warm you like to keep your home. In general, heat pumps can keep any home comfortable as long as the outdoor temperature is above 32°F or so. If the temperature outside drops below that, you may want to have some type of supplemental heating system just in case.

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What Types of Air Conditioning Systems Are There? A Question From Brinklow

Monday, September 5th, 2011

Picking out the right air conditioning system for your Brinklow home can actually involve a lot of steps. There are many factors to consider and you will need to understand how each type of air conditioning system functions to know what will be best in your house. Of course, before you can compare them, you need to know what the different types of air conditioning systems actually are.

Packaged air conditioning systems are probably the type that the majority of people are most familiar with. They consist of an outdoor compressor unit that is connected to an indoor air handler or furnace through ductwork within the house. The air is cooled by the compressor and then blown into the house where it is circulated through the ductwork by the air handler.

Packaged air conditioning systems are appropriate for most residential buildings and they come in a variety of sizes so that it is easy to match one to the size and dimensions of your home. However, these types of air conditioning systems do require ductwork, so if you do not already have it installed in your house, putting it in can add considerably to the overall installation costs.

If you do not want to have ducts put in or if you are only trying to cool a small space within your home, you may want to opt for a ductless split system. These types of air conditioning systems are becoming more and more popular because of their excellent energy efficiency and flexibility when it comes to installation options.

Ductless splits also require an outdoor compressor unit, but this is connected to one or more indoor units through refrigerant lines rather than actual air ducts. These refrigerant lines are much easier and less costly to put in place than ducts are, so mini-split systems can be installed for much less than a packaged air conditioning system in a home that does not already have ducts.

These ductless split systems can include only one or many indoor units. Each of these units is controlled independently of the others, making it possible to maintain different temperatures in different parts of your home.

For larger buildings and commercial spaces, central air conditioning systems are generally the preferred option. They are set up essentially the same way as packaged air conditioning systems but on a much larger scale. However, just like packaged air conditioning systems, central air conditioners rely on ducts to get the cooled air to the various areas of the building.

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Why Choose a Programmable Thermostat? A Question From Darnestown

Friday, August 26th, 2011

There are many types of thermostats available for your Darnestown home, but which is the best for your particular needs? It depends largely on how often you are home, how many rooms you have and how people in your house use each of those rooms.

A programmable thermostat in particular is a great option because it allows home owners to control when and how much heat or cooling is introduced to their indoor air. Normal thermostats lack this level of control, largely because they are built as simple switches that flip on whenever your temperature gets too low or too high.

Situations for a Programmable Thermostat

When you leave your home every day, you have two options. Either set the heat and AC so you’ll be comfortable when you return, or turn them off completely and suffer through the first half hour or so when you get home that night.

If you choose the former, you’ll pay a lot more in energy bills to heat or cool an empty house. And if your humidity levels need controlling as well, this may be your only option. Those in the second camp are forced to endure uncomfortable temperatures right when they get home and want nothing more than to relax. Not much better.

That’s why so many homeowners are opting for programmable thermostats to overcome this issue. With a programmable model, you can actually tell your home’s comfort system when to turn on and off each day, depending on when people will be there. Imagine going on vacation for three or four days and coming home to a nice and toasty living room and a smaller heating bill to go with it. That’s the kind of control a programmable model offers.

Zone Control and Beyond

Some programmable thermostats even allow you to section your home off into zones and choose specific temperatures for different areas of the house. This allows a great deal more control over when and how your system will operate each day, depending on the individual comfort needs of your family.

If you’re making dinner and don’t want the heat blasting you while you’re standing over the stove, just set the kitchen temperature lower. And with a programmable thermostat, you can tell it to come back on an hour after you leave the kitchen so that it’s comfortable later when you need a glass of water.

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Different Types of Room Air Conditioners: A Guide From Brinklow

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

If you are like most people in Brinklow, you probably picture the air conditioner hanging out of the window when you think of room air conditioners. However, while these are by far the most popular type of room air conditioners, they are not the only option. When you are shopping for a room air conditioner, it is a good idea to explore all of your options before you make a purchase.

The traditional window mounted air conditioners have plenty of advantages, and that has helped to keep them at the top of the room air conditioner market for a long time. These types of units can be installed in windows of multiple sizes and you can just about always get them in yourself. These units are available in a wide variety of sizes too, so you will be able to match the unit to the size of the space you need to cool.

No matter what type of air conditioner you get, it is very important to make sure it is the right size for the task you have laid out for it. Bigger is not always better and you do not want an air conditioner that is too powerful for the space any more than you want one that is too small. Also, be sure to check the energy efficiency rating of the air conditioner you are considering before making your purchase. That can save you a lot of money over time as well.

Another type of room air conditioner to take a look at is a wall mounted unit. Many of the window mounted units can actually be used in this way as well, but the installation involves actually making a hole in the outer wall of your home so you will most likely need some professional help to get it in place.

Just like window mounted units, wall mounted air conditioners come in all sizes and with all different energy efficiency ratings. Always take care to check out the specifics of the model before you buy it to make sure it is the right choice for your home.

Portable air conditioners are a third option in the room air conditioner category. They typically have wheels so that they can be easily moved from one room to another and they have an exhaust hose that must be hooked up to a window to ensure adequate ventilation. These types of room air conditioners are usually more expensive than wall or window mounted units, but it is definitely convenient to be able to move them from one place to another.

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Is it Possible to Vent Hot Air from a Garage? A Question From Bethesda

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

If you have a garage in Bethesda, you know how hot it can get in there on a warm summer day. In fact, the air in your garage is likely hotter and more humid than the air right outside. Of course, you may not spend a lot of time in your garage, so reducing the temperature in there might not be an immediate concern for you.

But just like heat buildup in your attic, higher temperatures in your garage can have negative effects on the temperature in the rest of your home. Heat seeping into the house from the garage will cause your air conditioning system to work harder to keep it comfortable indoors. And that’s going to cost you money.

Getting the Heat Out

For all of these reasons, it’s a good idea to reduce the temperature in your garage as soon as possible. Of course, if you’re actively working in the garage or right outside, you can always leave the door open. This allows an influx of fresh, cooler air to clear it out.

But that’s not really a practical solution when you’re not immediately on hand. After all, you can’t leave your garage door open indefinitely and as soon as you close it, the heat will start to build right back up again.

Vents and Fans

One thing we don’t want to forget is that heat rises. That means installing a vent and fan in the roof where the hottest air will be can help remove the majority of the excess heat building up in your garage. Just like an attic fan, this fan can be triggered to come on when the temperature inside the garage reaches a certain point. Usually, the fan comes on when the indoor temperature reaches a point that is likely higher than outside – 90 degrees F or higher.

The fan then draws hot air out through your vent, reducing the temperature inside the garage to equalize the outdoor temperature. This will be effective in and of itself, but if you want even better results, you can also install another vent towards the bottom of your garage door. That way, as the hot air is pulled out of the top of the garage, fresh air will be drawn in through the vent, providing a constant stream of cooler, fresh air and promoting healthy circulation within your garage.

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