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

Heating Contractor Secret: How a Ceiling Fan Can Help Heat Your Home

Friday, January 13th, 2012

Most people who have ceiling fans in Hillandale never turn them on in the winter. They assume that the fan is designed solely to cool the house – after all, blowing air feels pretty nice doesn’t it? But, a ceiling fan can actually help to move heat around your home and lower your heating bill if used properly. Here are some tips to do just that.

Rotating Warm Air

Warm air naturally rises. So, when you turn on your furnace and the blower fan pushes warm air through your ductwork into the various rooms of your home, the warm air immediately rises to the ceiling. So, for the room to feel as comfortable as you want it, you must wait for enough heat to circulate into the room to displace the cold air that was already there.

However, instead of waiting for warm air to fill the room, you can circulate the warm air as it arrives with a ceiling fan. By turning on your ceiling fan and changing the direction so it blows down (which most people already have it set to), the warm air will be pushed toward the floor, mixing it smoothly into the room and keeping you more comfortable without having the furnace on constantly.

This does two things. First, it keeps the room comfortable regardless of when the furnace cycles on or off. Second, it keeps the thermostat reading stable so the furnace doesn’t cycle on and off so quickly. If the warm air regularly rises up and the lower levels begin to cool, your furnace will frequently turn on and off as it tries to maintain the same temperature.

A Low Cost Addition to Your Home

Ceiling fans are inexpensive and aesthetically pleasing. They move air throughout the room, keep warmth low where you need it and can help reduce your energy bill in multiple ways. If you’re not sure whether a ceiling fan is right for you, talk to a technician about just how much money one of these simple devices can save you. I bet you’ll be convinced.

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What Size Heat Pump Is Right for My Home?

Monday, December 26th, 2011

One of the most important questions to answer when purchasing and installing any new heating or cooling system, no matter what type, is what size is best for your North Bethesda home. You need something that has enough capacity to heat or cool your whole home comfortably; otherwise your house will consistently be at an undesirable temperature.

Some people might think that the quickest solution to this problem is to just buy a system that they are sure has a capacity larger than the size of their home. You may even be tempted to get the biggest model out there, under the logic that the biggest is the best and it will be sure to be able to cover your whole house.

While this line of thinking might make sense to you, it’s actually not a good idea. The problem with this “solution” is that you can wind up with a heat pump that is considerably too large for your needs, which means your home will consistently be either too cool or too hot, and your energy bills will be unnecessarily high.

The best way to choose a new heat pump is to have a professional do a load calculation in your home. This can be a highly technical process, so it is best to leave it to the pros. However, here are some quick tips and other things to consider on the subject:

  • There are a lot of variable to consider in doing a calculation like this. A contractor doing a load calculation will consider the type of construction, what kind of insulation you have installed, what kind of windows you have, whether there is an attic, how many people live there and many more factors.
  • It never hurts to shop around. Get a few estimates from different area contractors, rather than just going with the first opinion.
  • Also, since heat pumps are used for both heating and cooling, different contractors may opt to do the calculation in different ways. Some will estimate capacity based on heating, while others will base it on cooling. Ask to see which is the case for each estimate you receive.
  • If you are getting a new heat pump as a replacement for an existing one, or even a different heating/cooling system, check the capacity of the unit you are replacing. That can be a good place to start. You will at least be in the right ballpark.

All of this means doing some extra leg work up front, but getting the proper sized heat pump is well worth the effort.

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A Question from New Market: What Are the Different Types of Furnace Maintenance?

Monday, December 19th, 2011

If you haven’t done so already, take your automobile owner’s manual out of your glove box and check out the section where it lists regularly scheduled maintenance. You will probably see that the most frequent maintenance tasks are changing the oil, checking fan belts, changing windshield wipers blades, checking all fluids, and checking tire pressure. These are regular, routine tasks. You will also see other tasks like changing fuel filters, flushing radiators, and changing transmission fluid.

Depending on its frequency, there are different types of maintenance tasks associated with keeping your automobile in tip top shape. Did you also know there are tasks that can be performed at various intervals to keep your New Market home’s furnace in peak running condition? Well, there are.

For example, the most frequent maintenance task is checking the filters in your air handling unit. These are often called furnace filters but in reality, they serve the same function to filter air to and from your air conditioner, too. It might be easiest to just call them air filters. The frequency of replacing or cleaning air filters usually depends on the type of indoor environment you live in – like humidity levels, number of household pets or occupants, etc. In general, filter maintenance should occur every one to three months.

A less frequent maintenance task is cleaning the moving parts of the internal mechanism. You may only need to have your furnace cleaned every six months to a year, depending on its use. In some cases you can perform the cleaning yourself or it is included in an annual cleaning as part of a service agreement with a qualified heating and cooling contractor. A furnace can typically run at peak efficiency when it is cleaned on an annual basis.

You can also make it a regular habit of checking the motor bearings and fan belt, too. You can lubricate the bearings and tighten or replace the fan belt on a same schedule as cleaning the moving parts.

Other maintenance tasks related to your furnace, which may require longer interval times include ventilation system cleaning, or more commonly known as duct cleaning. Some homes don’t require this type of maintenance more than every five to ten years – perhaps longer. Unless there are unusually high levels of dust, allergens, or contaminants in the air, most ventilation systems can remain clean for several years.

Of course, you can turn all of your maintenance tasks over to a heating and cooling contractor – and have the most peace of mind.

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Home Maintenance You Should Not Do Yourself: A Tip from New Market

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

Everyone wants to feel handy around their New Market house and there are a lot of great things you can do to help keep your home and its various systems in tip top shape, but not everything should be on your to do list. Some tasks are dangerous or require special equipment and should only be performed by professionals. Here is a list of some such tasks and why you should avoid them:

  • Service a Gas Appliance or Furnace – If it involves a gas line, call a professional. This goes doubly so for live electrical work. You should always call someone who has the specific certification and licenses needed to work on your gas or electricity systems. They know the safety precautions and if there is a problem they will recognize it immediately and act fast to keep everyone safe.
  • Annual Maintenance – Filter changes, cleaning and other small jobs can be on your to do list, but big time maintenance done annually on your exhaust pipes, furnace or air conditioner should be done by a professional who has the equipment for it.
  • Duct Cleaning or Patching – You can clean the vents and the entry lines at your air handler just fine, but how will you reach the middle of your ducts without an industrial strength vacuum and duct cleaning system? Duct repair is similarly hard without the right equipment.
  • Remodeling of a Room – Unless you have the necessary skills and know what permits are needed, heavy duty remodeling of a kitchen, bathroom or new room should be done by someone with plumbing certification and experience.
  • Roofing Upgrades – Even just a patch on the roof should be handled by someone who is skilled and experienced in this type of work. They know the pitfalls of walking on an unsteady surface high above the ground and they can ensure the new roof will last for as long as is necessary.

There are a lot of fun things you can do around your home to keep it in good condition, but for the big stuff, always call a pro – if not for the sake of your home, for your health and wellbeing.

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How Often Should I Have My Geothermal System Checked?

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

The beauty of a geothermal system for your Potomac home is that is requires very little maintenance. They have fewer mechanical components are than other heating systems – and most of these components are underground or inside, shielded from the outdoor elements. The underground tubing usually is guaranteed to last 25-50 years and inside components are easily accessible for servicing.

Nonetheless, keeping a geothermal system working at peak efficiency is very important. If the geothermal system loses some of its efficiency, it will cost home and building owners money in energy costs, which makes little sense since geothermal system installation costs are higher than most other heating systems.

Its key component is the ground loop system, polyethelene tubing which carries refrigerant from below the Earth’s surface and back to an above-ground compressor. When installed correctly, the buried ground loop can last for decades. A leak in the metal tubing is usually the only problem if the ground loop is not installed correctly. In the case of a leak, it may be necessary to dig up the tubing – often installed at least ten feet below the surface – and repair the leak.

Other geothermal system components include its air handling unit, compressor, and pump. These components require periodic system checks by qualified professional heating and cooling technicians. Maintenance normally requires filter changes and component lubrication, to name the most common. In some cases, building owners can perform their own filter replacement and refill of lubricants. However, it is recommended that an experienced technician perform a multiple-point inspection of the geothermal system components, usually during regularly scheduled service calls.

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Types of Air Filters (and Happy Halloween Weekend!)

Friday, October 28th, 2011

Happy Halloween weekend from everyone at Tuckers Air Conditioning & Heating! We hope you have a fantastically spooky time! And since bad indoor air quality can be quite scary, here is some information about the different types of air filters you can get for your home.

When choosing an air filter for your home, there are many options. Each type of material is designed to capture a different type of particle to a different degree, so make sure you choose carefully based on the specific air quality problems your home has.

  • Disposable – Disposable filters are the simplest and least expensive option on the market but they are usually rated as low as 1-5 MERV and don’t last very long. These types of filters are usually designed for basic mechanical filtration to stop debris from causing problems for your furnace or air conditioner and are therefore not ideal for actual air quality improvement.
  • Fiberglass – Fiberglass filters are very common in almost all HVAC systems and are more permanent than disposable filters. They come in MERV ratings of between 4 and 12 and are highly efficient at capturing larger particles like dust, pollen and dander. These can be dangerous, however, as they fragment and can send fibers into the air.
  • Polyester – These have a higher resistance rating than most fiberglass filters and are therefore more durable against larger particles like dust and pollen. They also don’t fray like fiberglass and are more durable over time.
  • Electrostatic – Electrostatic filters have a charge to help collect dust particles and are usually made with multiple layers of polypropylene material.
  • HEPA Filters – This is a completely different category of filters and is designed to capture everything as small as 0.3 microns – well below the threshold most commonly provided by standard HVAC filters. They can be purchased for your HVAC system or as standalone filters for individual rooms.

There are a number of different filter types to maintain the air quality in your home. If you’re interested in getting the most out of your home’s air quality control system, make sure you do it with the best possible device available to your system. Contact a professional if you’re not sure what options will suit you best.

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The Energy Star Label: A Guide from Garrett Park

Friday, October 21st, 2011

The Energy Star program is a joint program of the US environmental protection agency and the US department of Energy. The program’s goal is to help consumers, from Garrett Park to Sandy Spring,  save money and protect the environment through energy-efficient products and practices.

The best-known aspect of the Energy Star program is the Energy Star label, which is awarded to appliances and other items that are significantly more efficient than average. Energy Star efficiency guidelines vary depending on product category, but in general, Energy Star products use 20%-30% less energy than minimum federal standards.

The Energy Star guidelines were designed both with energy efficiency and performance in mind. While low energy use is one of the most important criteria for selecting Energy Star appliances, product performance, features, warranty, safety, and durability are also taken into account. Price is also a factor: if a product costs significantly more than other products in its category, it will only receive the Energy Star label if the up-front cost will be recovered through savings in operating costs within a reasonable amount of time.

The first Energy Star labels were given to computers and monitors in 1992. Now labels can be found on many other products, including:

Energy Star products can be found wherever appliances and electronics are sold. Look for the blue and white Energy Star label. You can also look for the yellow EnergyGuide label that is affixed to most heating and cooling systems and household appliances. This label is created by the Department of Energy and shows a product’s annual cost of operation compared to similar models. It will often indicate whether a product is Energy Star.

It’s important to note that while an Energy Star label indicates that a heater, air conditioner, or household appliance is more efficient than the minimum guidelines, it does not always mean that you are getting the most energy efficient option on the market. If you are making a major appliance purchase, use the Energy Star label to be sure every model on your “short list” is energy efficient. Then, look carefully at the EnergyGuide label to compare the efficiency of the models you are considering.

The EPA has also extended the Energy Star label to cover new homes and commercial and industrial buildings. To qualify for the Energy Star rating, a new home must use at least 15% less energy than standard homes (built to the 2004 International Residential Code). Energy Star homes usually include insulation, high-performance windows, energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, appliances, lighting, and water heaters.

The Energy Star standards and label have been recognized in many other countries, including Canada, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Taiwan and the European Union.

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How to Maximize Savings in Your New Market Home

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

When you are thinking about different ways you might be able to save money around your New Market house, the tendency is to think big. Maybe you need to upgrade to a more energy efficient furnace, or it could be time to install a new central air conditioning system. Maybe it is even a good idea to switch to geothermal heating.

But before you do any of that, you may want to try some quick and easy ways to save money around the house with the equipment you already have. Here are 8 great ways to cut your power usage and keep those energy bills down without investing a lot in new equipment.

  1. Seal Up Your House – No matter how energy efficient the heating and cooling systems are in your house, you will be using more energy than necessary if your house is not tightly sealed. Make sure there are not cracks or places where drafts can get in and you will start saving money right away.
  2. The Right Thermostat Setting – Are you really going to notice the difference between 72°F and 69°F? Probably not, but you will save about 3% off of your monthly heating bill for every degree you turn the thermostat down. The same goes in the summer too, just backwards.
  3. Programmable Thermostats – And while we are on the subject of thermostats, it is a good idea to invest in a new one with programmable settings. That way you will be able to set your house to be warm when you will be there and you do not have to pay to keep it warm all day long if it is empty.
  4. Ceiling Fans – Ceiling fans can help keep you cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Plus, they cost very little to run so they are a great investment.
  5. Light Bulbs – Switching to energy efficient fluorescent bulbs all over your house will save you a ton even though they cost a bit more to begin with.
  6. Lights Out – But energy efficient bulbs will only get you so far. You should also be sure to turn off the lights in any room you are not using.
  7. Power Strips – Many home appliances draw a small amount of power even when they are not turned on. Use a power strip to easily cut the power to them completely and eliminate that drain.
  8. Sealing Windows – Plenty of air can come and go through your windows as well. Upgrading to more energy efficient windows is certainly an option, but you can also help to seal up your home inexpensively by covering your windows with plastic.

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Why Is Ice in Central Air Conditioning a Problem? A Question From Kentlands

Monday, August 29th, 2011

If the air conditioner in your Kentlands home does not seem to be working as well as it should, your natural first reaction is to go out and take a look at the compressor to see if there is anything you can do quickly to correct the problem. Of course, you cannot assess the situation unless you know what you are looking for. For instance, if you see ice forming on the condenser coil or anywhere else on the air conditioning system, you will know you found the likely source of the problem.

Ice can form in your air conditioner for a number of reasons. The most common one is that your refrigerant levels are low. Since this refrigerant is contained in a closed system, a deficiency in refrigerant means that there must be a leak somewhere in that system. Only a certified professional can refill your refrigerant and determine where the leaks are in the system to make the necessary repairs.

Another reason that ice can develop in your air conditioner is because the air is not flowing fast enough through the system and across the coils. This can happen because of a problem with the fan or because there is an actual physical impediment to the air flow. Regardless of the reason, the ice will form because without adequate air flow the condenser coils will get too cold.

These coils are typically kept just above freezing by the constant flow of air across them. When the air passes by them at this temperature, the moisture from the air condenses on the surface of the coil. But because the coil is not quite freezing, the water then runs down into a collection pan. When the coil is too cold, however, the moisture from the air will freeze on the coil before it can run off.

This ice actually manages to insulate the coil and keeps it from properly cooling the air or removing any additional moisture. If left unattended, the ice in your central air conditioning system can cause real damage to the unit. Plus, it is not allowing the air conditioner to do its job and cool your house down. So if you notice any amount of ice at all beginning to form on any part of your air conditioner, be sure to call for professional service right away.

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2011 AC Federal Tax Credits: A Tip From Germantown

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

You’ve probably heard many arguments for why you should purchase an energy efficient air conditioner for your Germantown home. They may cost a bit more up front, but they’ll save you money in the long run by cutting down on your monthly energy bills. They’re also better for the environment because their lower energy usage means less fossil fuels are burned to keep them running.

But there’s another reason energy efficient AC units are better buys than your standard alternative. There are Federal tax credits available to consumers who purchase them. This tax credit can more than make up for the higher purchase price of the units, allowing you to enjoy your monthly savings much sooner and know you’re doing your part to protect the environment.

How to Qualify

In order to qualify for 2011 air conditioning Federal tax credit, you need to purchase an appropriate energy efficient AC system. Your HVAC contractor or salesperson can tell you which models and units qualify for this program. Just make sure you save all documentation and proof of purchase in case you need them to validate your claim.

The AC units that qualify you for this tax credit include those with a SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) of 16 or greater and an EER (energy efficiency ratio) of at least 13. These two numbers are the best and clearest indicators of the overall energy efficiency of the product and can easily be found on the packaging for any air conditioning unit. While a 16 SEER is very good, it is not the highest rating currently available, either, so you won’t be forced to buy the most expensive model available to get your credit.

Credit Details

The tax credit is good for up to 10% of the purchase price of the unit up to $300. Keep in mind, though, that you can only claim up to $500 lifetime towards this program. So if you’ve previously claimed $250, you can only claim an additional $250 for 2011. That’s still a significant savings, though, and well worth looking into if you’re in the market for a new AC unit or system.

So if you’ve been thinking about upgrading your AC system, but haven’t quiet gotten around to, now may be the time to take advantage of this great tax credit opportunity before it’s too late.

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