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

Heating Replacement Tip: Signs of an Undersized Furnace

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

If you’re purchasing a new furnace for your Rockville home, you want to avoid buying one that is undersized for your particular space. To do that, here are some common signs that the furnace isn’t powerful enough for the heating needs of your home. These signs might appear for an older furnace as well, especially as it ages and loses its ability to provide adequate heat for your home.

Maintaining Temperature

The most common (and in many cases only) sign that your furnace is undersized is that the device simply doesn’t maintain the temperature in your home properly. This means that when turned on to full and left for a few hours, your furnace doesn’t heat your home to the thermostat setting.

This can be due to an improper load calculation or a load calculation that wasn’t taken at all. The perfectly sized furnace will heat your home evenly on the coldest day your area is likely to have. So, undersizing should be pretty evident – if it doesn’t heat your home evenly and it’s not exceptionally cold outside, you might not have enough BTUs under the hood.

How to Fix the Problem

The problem is one that varies depending on the severity of the undersizing. Modern furnaces are often available with two stages, meaning they can operate at both a low BTU rating (often around 40K or so) and a higher BTU rating (70K or higher). This is the perfect solution for homeowners worried about undersizing because it ensures that your home always has enough heat in reserve should the weather get exceptionally cold.

For example, most furnaces are sized for extremely low temperatures, but if the temperature jumps up to 50 degrees F outside, your furnace is now oversized for that weather. A two stage furnace offers solutions for both common conditions and extreme conditions and will resolve most of the concern you have about undersizing and not having enough heat to offset outdoor temperatures.

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What is a Downflow vs. an Upflow Furnace?

Monday, November 7th, 2011

When you go looking to buy a furnace, you may well be surprised by how many different elements go into making a good purchasing decision. There are simply so many different kinds of furnaces available now and they each are more appropriate for certain situations. That means that finding the one that’s right for you is less about finding the one best unit than it is about finding the one that is the best match for your particular circumstances.

This applies to the type of fuel the furnace uses, its energy efficiency, and whether it’s an upflow furnace or a downflow furnace. Energy efficiency and fuel types are probably things that you’re more or less familiar with. But what are we talking about when we classify a furnace as an upflow or downflow model?

Well, it’s pretty much what it sounds like. These terms refer to the direction the air flows as it is taken in and heated by the furnace. So in an upflow furnace, the cool air is taken in at the bottom, warmed, and then expelled at the top. A downflow furnace, on the other hand, takes in cool air at the top and expels heated air at the bottom.

While this is all very exciting, it may still not be obvious what impact this will have on your decision about what type of furnace to buy. The main thing you’ll have to think about when you’re deciding between an upflow and a downflow furnace is where the furnace will be placed in your house.

An upflow furnace is generally installed in the basement so that the heated air is directed towards the parts of the house you want cooled and so that the furnace can be appropriately vented outside of the house. On the other hand, a downflow furnace would be installed in your attic for the same reasons.

So where you want to have the furnace installed is probably the biggest thing to take into account as you’re comparing these two types of equipment. Of course, whether you pick an upflow or a downflow furnace, you’ll still have to select the appropriate AFUE, size and fuel source to best meet your needs. But making the choice between upflow and downflow can at least make it easier to narrow down your options. To make the right decision for your home, contact your heating contractor.

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Will Switching to Geothermal Save Me Money? A Question from Barnesville

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

There are simply a ton of different types of heating systems available in Barnesville and they are each more appropriate in different situations. However, some are certainly always going to be cheaper to operate than others, although that alone may not make one or the other right for you.

In the case of geothermal heating systems, the operating costs are definitely quite low. But those are not the only costs you will have to think about when you are considering what type of heating system to put in your home to keep your heating bills down.

Geothermal heating systems do not actually generate heat – they absorb it from the ground. Because of this, they actually use very little energy when they are running. All you are really paying to power is the fan that blows the heated air around your house. Also, because geothermal heating systems are more efficient at extracting heat in below freezing conditions than traditional heat pumps, they can continue to keep you warm on their own in more extreme conditions.

Traditional heat pumps, while they also cost very little to operate, do sometimes need to be supplemented by more conventional forms of indoor heating like a furnace when temperatures outdoors get too low. This is not the case with geothermal heat pumps, so if you live somewhere that has colder winters, a geothermal heat pump may be just what you are looking for. Of course, you can always opt for a furnace instead, but these will definitely cost more to run than either type of heat pump.

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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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How Does Central AC Work? A Question From Hillandale

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

We pretty much just take the fact of central air conditioning for granted these days in Hillandale. It is present almost everywhere and it is hard to imagine getting through a long hot summer without it. But if you are like most people, you probably do not actually know how central air conditioning works. While you can certainly take advantage of it without understanding it, the basic concept is pretty simple.

Basically, central air conditioning systems are composed of an outdoor unit that typically houses the compressor and condenser and an indoor unit that manages the flow of air throughout your house or other building. This indoor unit is typically either an air handler or a furnace, and it directs the flow of air through a series of ducts that feed into the various rooms of the house.

The cool air originates in the outdoor unit and is blown into the house, gradually absorbing heat as it goes, and that air is then returned to the outdoor unit to be re-cooled. What actually happens in the outdoor unit involves the cycle of a type of refrigerant from a gas to a liquid and back. In the condenser area of the outdoor unit, the pressure on the refrigerant is lessened and it is able to absorb heat from the air returning from the house.

This gas, while warmer than the liquid refrigerant, is still quite cold and acts to cool the air being passed back into the house. As that refrigerant moves along to the compressor area, the gas is converted to a liquid and is forced to release the heat it had been holding. In that way, the air conditioner is able to remove heat from the inside of your house and release it outside.

Your air conditioning system is also generally hooked up to a thermostat, which is what controls when the unit switches on and off. You can set the thermostat at the temperature you would like to maintain inside your house and the thermostat will signal the air conditioner to switch on when the indoor temperature rises above that level. And once the indoor temperature is again below the preset level on the thermostat, the air conditioner will switch off again.

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Air Conditioners and Energy Use by Percentage

Monday, July 25th, 2011

It’s no secret that air conditioners use up a lot of electricity and can add substantially to your energy bills during those warm summer months. But did you know that they actually account for an estimated 11% of the total energy used in all buildings in the US each year? This is a staggering figure and makes it easy to see why it’s best to invest in the most energy efficient system possible.

Keeping Your Consumption Down

There are plenty of reasons to try and keep your energy consumption down. You want to save on your energy bills, and the less energy you use, the better it is for the environment. The best and most straightforward way to go about this is to purchase only highly energy efficient appliances and equipment, and that includes air conditioners.

Because air conditioner usage accounts for such a substantial part of the total energy used in this country, putting more energy efficiency models into use is the best way to cut that usage down.

Supplementary Cooling

However, there are other ways to reduce the workload of your air conditioner. For instance, you can use a ceiling fan to maintain good air circulation and keep your home cool. Using a ceiling fan with an air conditioner, even on the hottest days of the year, allows you to turn up your thermostat a bit to conserve energy while still enjoying a comfortable indoor environment. And because ceiling fans use so little energy to operate, you’ll come out ahead on your energy bill.

Passive Cooling

There are also several passive cooling methods you can employ to keep the temperature in your home down. Blocking out sunlight is the most important of these, so keep your blinds closed on any windows that receive direct sunlight, particularly in the early afternoon. Alternately, you can have awnings put up, which allow you to block the direct sun while still keeping the blinds open.

Shade is another effective passive cooling device. Planting trees around your home to block out the sun at the hottest times of day is a totally energy-free way of keeping your home cool and reducing the workload on your air conditioning system. The less your air conditioner has to work, the less energy it consumes and the lower your energy bills will be.

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What Features Should I Look for When Buying an Air Conditioner?

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

There are so many different types and styles of air conditioners on the market these days, it can be difficult to figure out what features are worth paying attention to when it comes time to buy one for yourself.

Of course, the most important thing to do is make sure you get an air conditioner that’s appropriately sized for the space you’re trying to cool. But what should you look for beyond that? Here are a few features you might like to have on the unit you purchase:

  • Energy Efficiency – The more energy efficient your air conditioner is, the less your cooling costs will be. It’s as simple as that. So when you’re evaluating devices, remember that it’s worth paying a little bit more up front for a more energy efficient unit. It will save you money in the long run and you’ll be doing your part to help the environment.
  • Dehumidification – Just about every air conditioner controls humidity to a certain extent in addition to cooling. But some do this better than others. There are also air conditioners with separate dehumidification settings for those days that are more humid than hot. Even when you need both cooling and dehumidification, it’s nice to have control of each of these independently.
  • Timer – Being able to program your air conditioner to switch on and off at different times of day is more than just convenient; it will save you money. You don’t want to leave your air conditioner running all day when you’re not home, but it sure is nice to come home to the comfort of an air conditioned space. If your air conditioner has a timer, you can have both. Just set the unit to come on a half hour or so before you get home and you’ll enjoy cool, refreshing indoor comfort right when you get home without paying through the nose to keep your home cool when no one is there.
  • Easy-to-Use Controls – As simple as this one seems, you might be surprised at how inconvenient the controls on some air conditioners can be. So when you’re evaluating your options, make sure you research how easy each unit is to operate. This can definitely save you from plenty of frustration in the long run.

Air conditioners come in many different shapes and sizes. To make sure your decision works best in your home, do your research well in advance. When the summer heat kicks in, you’ll be glad you did.

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Whole House Air Quality System. What Is It? When and Why Do You Need It?

Monday, June 13th, 2011

There are many ways to control the indoor air quality of your home. The easiest way to is to clean your vents and ducts. This reduces the number of pollutants like mold and dust that get into your air each day. In some cases, however, you may need something more powerful and that’s where a whole house air quality system comes in.

What Does Whole House Air Quality Provide?

There are many filters and purifiers on the market that can be operated in a single room such as your living room or the bedroom of your child. However, if you have a more substantial contaminant problem, a whole house system actually attaches to the source of fresh air.

Most whole house systems integrate directly into the ventilation ducts and fans of your house. This ensures the air is purified and cleaned as it enters your home, not after it has circulated for some time. Air cleaners are also integrated into ducts where UV lighting and ionizers can remove bacteria, viruses, smoke and exhaust fumes that come in from outside.

Your furnace and air conditioner will also be filtered above and beyond standard manufacturer filtering, ensuring there are less contaminants traveling through your ducts to start with.

When Do You Need It?

The upgrade to a whole house system isn’t just for those suffering from dust, pollen and pet dander. These can easily be removed with regular cleaning of your ducts and a HEPA filter in each room affected. However, if your home tests high for various gases, exhaust fumes, or molds that are beyond your control, a whole house system is a great way to protect yourself.

In particular, these systems are useful when the contaminants come in from outside. Most indoor contaminants can be removed with careful maintenance of your comfort system, but if your neighbor has a leaky exhaust pipe or if you live near a busy highway, you can’t do much about it other than to filter the air as it comes inside.

Choosing a whole home air quality system starts with knowing what you need to filter. So, proper air testing is highly recommended. After testing, make sure your current systems will integrate well with the new air quality controls. If everything works properly, you’ll be well on your way to fresh, clean air in no time.

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