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Heating Tips & Advice

Heating Tips & Advice (22)

Monday, 30 October 2023 18:21

Advice On Choosing a Furnace Air Filter

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When it comes to maintaining a comfortable and healthy indoor environment, your furnace air filter plays an important role. Here ere are five essential things you need to know about furnace air filters to optimize HVAC performance and keep your air clean

The Importance of Regular Replacement

Over time, furnace air filters collect dust, pollen, pet dander, and other airborne particles. As a result the filter will gradually become clogged, reducing airflow, and forcing your furnace to work harder. This will not only increase energy consumption, it can also lead to premature wear and tear on the internal parts of the furnace. Most experts recommend replacing disposable filters every 1-3 months, while washable filters should be cleaned on a similar schedule. Check with the filter manufacturer for the replacement interval for your filter.

Different Types of Filters

Furnace air filters come in various types, each with its own set of advantages:
Disposable Fiberglass Filters: These are the most common and are effective for blocking large dust particles. However, they might not be the best choice for filtering out smaller particles like pollen or mold spores.

Pleated Filters: Made from polyester or cotton paper, these filters can trap smaller particles and are more efficient than fiberglass filters.

HEPA Filters: High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters can capture at least 99.97% of particles 0.3 microns in diameter, making them ideal for households with allergy sufferers.

Washable Filters: These are reusable and can be a cost-effective choice in the long run, but they need regular cleaning to maintain efficiency.

MERV Ratings Matter

The Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating indicates a filter's ability to capture and hold particles and pollutants. Ratings range from 1 (least efficient) to 20 (most efficient). For residential furnaces, a MERV rating between 8 and 11 is typically sufficient. However, if someone in the household has respiratory issues or allergies, consider a filter with a higher MERV rating.

Can Furnace Filters Improve Indoor Air Quality?

The main purpose of a furnace filter is to keep dirty air from damaging your heating system. However, a clean and efficient furnace air filter can improve indoor air quality. By trapping pollutants, it prevents them from recirculating in your home. This is especially crucial for households with pets or sources of indoor air pollution.

If you are concerned about particulate matter in your home, a quality HEPA filter or indoor air cleaner will do a better job of reducing the risk of respiratory issues and allergies caused by indoor air pollution.

Cost vs. Value

While it might be tempting to opt for the cheapest filter available, investing in a higher-quality HEPA filter can lead to energy savings, a longer-lasting furnace, and improved indoor air quality.

Furnace air filters are more than just a routine maintenance item; they're a crucial component in ensuring a healthy and comfortable living environment.
Tuesday, 10 October 2023 16:40

Furnace Buyer's Guide

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When the Chicagoland winter sweeps through, having a reliable and efficient furnace becomes crucial for your safety and comfort. But with so many options available, how do you ensure you're making the right decision? The home heating experts at MR Plumbing Heating Air Electrical have put together a guide to selecting a new furnace for your home.

The Importance of Expert Advice

Before diving into features, it's important to understand the significance of partnering with an experienced HVAC company. The furnace you choose must be perfectly suited to your home's size and requirements. An oversized furnace will cycle on and off frequently, leading to wear and inefficiency, while an undersized one won't heat your home adequately. An experienced team like MR Plumbing Heating Air Electrical will ensure that you get a furnace tailored to your home's unique needs.

Efficiency Matters

Furnace efficiency is gauged using the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating. This percentage indicates the amount of fuel converted to heat. For instance, a furnace with an AFUE of 90% turns 90% of the fuel it uses into heat, with the remaining 10% lost.

A higher AFUE means more savings on your utility bills. Not only does this translate to financial savings, but an efficient furnace also has a smaller carbon footprint, making it environmentally friendly.

Furnace Features To Consider

1. Variable-Speed Blowers

Unlike traditional blowers that operate at a fixed speed, variable-speed blowers adjust their speed based on your home's heating needs. This results in consistent temperatures, quiet operation, and energy savings.

2. Variable Heat Output

Furnaces with this feature can adjust their heat output, ensuring optimal comfort levels. On colder days, the furnace operates at full capacity, while on milder days, it reduces its output, conserving energy.

3. Air Filtration

Modern furnaces come with enhanced air filtration systems that capture dust, pollen, and other pollutants, ensuring better indoor air quality for your home.

4. Dual Heat Exchanger

This component captures additional heat that would otherwise be lost, enhancing efficiency. With a dual heat exchanger, you get more warmth from the same amount of fuel.

5. Ignition System

Gone are the days of pilot lights. Today’s furnaces use electronic ignition, which is safer, more reliable and energy-efficient.

6. Zoned Heating

This system divides your home into zones, each with its thermostat. It ensures that each area is heated according to its needs, preventing energy wastage.

7. Humidity

Maintaning healthy relative humidity levels during the cold, dry Chicagoland winters is important for comfort and health. Dry air is more than just an annoyance. It can cause respiratory irritation that can exacerbate health issues such as asthma. A whole-home humidifier can be integrated with your home's heating system to provide comfortable humidity levels throughout your entire home.

8. Manufacturer's Warranty

A new furnace is a significant investment. Make sure to look for a model that offers a solid warranty, guaranteeing you peace of mind for years to come.

Buying a gas furnace isn’t merely about choosing the latest model. It's about making an informed decision that guarantees comfort, energy savings, and longevity. At MR Plumbing Heating Air Electrical, we're committed to helping you make the right choice.

Looking for expert HVAC solutions in Chicagoland? Search no further than MR Plumbing Heating Air Electrical. Call us today!
Friday, 15 September 2023 17:47

8 Tips To Lower Your Heating Bill

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Heating a home during a long Chicagoland winter can be costly. Having a reliable and efficient heating system is essential. However, just having a newer heating system isn't enough; regular maintenance is crucial for ensuring it runs efficiently, keeping your home cozy and your energy bills manageable.

Whether you reside in an older home with a boiler, or a new home energy efficient furnace, the experts at MR Plumbing Heating Air Electrical have put together a few tips that will help keep your heating system running as efficiently and reliably as possible.

1. Routine Maintenance Inspections

Schedule a professional inspection of your heating system at least once a year, preferably well before winter sets in. A NATE certified technician will be able to detect and address any potential issues early on before they lead to problems down the road.

2. Change the Furnace Filter

One of the most straightforward yet effective maintenance tasks, replacing or cleaning the furnace air filter regularly improves air quality and ensures optimal system efficiency.

3. Check the Thermostat

Ensure your thermostat is functioning correctly. An outdated or malfunctioning thermostat can lead to uneven heating and increased energy bills. Have a programmable thermostat? Make sure the settings match your household routine. Better yet, invest in a smart thermostat that learns your routine and preferences automatically, automating efficiency and comfort control.

4. Seal Leaks

Drafts and leaks can significantly affect the efficiency of your heating system. Ensure windows, doors, and ducts are sealed properly to keep the warm air in and the cold air out.

Did you know that air ducts can be sealed from the inside? This special spray-on treatment can greatly reduce heat loss throughout your home.

5. Duct Cleaning

Dust and debris can accumulate around vents, causing blockages and reducing the efficiency of your system. Regularly clean vents, ducts, and other components.

Schedule professional duct cleaning very few years or so to keep the air healthy and improve system efficiency.

6. Ensure Proper Ventilation

Blocked or covered vents and returns can strain your heating system. Make sure all vents are clear of furniture, carpets, or curtains.

7. Upgrade When Necessary

If your heating system is getting long in the tooth and frequently requires repairs, or your home has rooms that are too cold, consider upgrading to a newer, more efficient model. Today's systems often come with energy-saving features that can reduce your heating bills.

8. Improve Airflow With Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fans not only circulate warm down air into your living space, they can also add style and light to complement any style.

By following these tips you make a significant difference in the performance and lifespan of your heating system. Regular maintenance not only ensures consistent warmth throughout the colder months but also contributes to energy efficiency and safety. So, as winter approaches, give your heating system the attention it deserves!

Looking to replace your old furnace? The HVAC pros MR Plumbing Heating Air Electrical can assess your current system and provide a comprehensive heating system analysis to help you find the system that's a perfect fit for your home.
Wednesday, 10 November 2021 22:06

MR Plumbing Fall Heating Season Checklist

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Fall Heating Season Checklist With energy costs on the rise this winter, many Chicagoland residents are looking for ways to save on their heating bill this season. Here are a few tips to keep your home warm and cozy while also maximizing your energy dollars.

Home Heating Checklist

1. Call to schedule your furnace tune-up

Regular furnace maintenance will help your heating system last longer and enable it to heat your home more efficiently. 

2. Replace your furnace filter
A dirty air filter can cause unhealthy air and shorten the life of your furnace. Change your filter once a month, or as recommended by the filter manufacturer.

3. Turn down your thermostat to 68 degrees
For every degree you lower your heat in the 60-degree to 70-degree range, you'll save up to 5 percent on heating costs. 

4. Program your thermostat
If you're on a regular schedule, set your thermostat to turn the temperature down when you are away from home. Better yet, upgrade to a smart thermostat. Smart thermostats learn your household routine, tuning the heat off when rooms are unoccupied.

5. Reverse the direction of your ceiling fans
In the fall, set the fan to direct the warm air downward towards the living space. 

6. Check your smoke and CO detectors
Replace the batteries annually. 

7. Check that air ducts are not blocked by rugs or furniture.
Keep all air registers open to help your heating system work efficiently.

8. Seal air leaks around windows and doors
Add additional attic insulation if needed. 

9. Keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is burning. 
An open chimney can allow a lot of heat to escape from your home.

10. Add an insulation blanket to your water heater tank

To retain heat and conserve hot water wrap your water heater in blanket designed to retain heat.
Wednesday, 27 October 2021 19:52

How Long Does a Gas Furnace Last?

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How Long Does a Gas Furnace Last?

How long does a gas furnace last?

As winter weather settles in and you get ready to turn on your old furnace you may wonder just how much longer it will keep running. The general answer is about 20 years. But the answer is more complicated and depends on a lot of factors. Some of these factors include how well made the furnace is and whether it is a lower cost or more expensive higher end model. If it's a lower cost furnace it may be ready for replacement in as little as 8 years.

Thankfully, many of the factors that determine how long a furnace will last are under your control. The most important thing you can do is have your furnace professionally maintained every year. This will not only make the furnace last longer, it will help it operate more efficiently and reduce the cost of unexpected repairs.

Because most gas furnace parts can be replaced as they wear out, it's usually a good idea to repair the unit as parts wear out. The one part that usually ends the life of a furnace is the heat exchanger. Constant heating and cooling will eventually cause the heat exchanger to rust out or crack, leading to failure. With new gas furnaces operating at much higher efficiency than units made just 10 years ago, replacing the furnace may be more cost effective in the long run when compared to the repair cost of keeping a 10-15 year old furnace running.

For all your home heating needs, call M/R Plumbing. We'll keep you warm all winter long.
Tuesday, 12 October 2021 18:59

Is Your Furnace Ready For the Heating Season?

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Is Your Furnace Ready For the Heating Season?

If your home has a gas furnace, it’s important to learn how to check your system for potential problems to prevent unexpected breakdowns or inefficient operation. 

Replacing Your Furnace Filter

Paper or fiberglass furnace filters should be replaced every three months, or as recommended by the filter manufacturer. The furnace should be turned off before changing the filter. Never operate the furnace without a filter in place. Open the cover of the unit and then remove the filter.  If the filter is reusable, vacuum it to clean the surface, or wash and dry it following the filter manufacturer's instructions. 

Turning the Furnace On

A gas furnace is typically controlled through the same thermostat as the air conditioner.  This means that when the weather turns cold, you can simply turn your thermostat to the 'warm’ or 'heat’ setting and then adjust the temperature to your liking.

Ensure There Is Airflow Throughout the Home

Ensure that all vents are open in every room and that the vents are not obstructed by rugs, drapes or furniture. If the inside of the vents appear dirty, have the ducts professionally cleaned to remove dirt and debris that can restrict airflow and cause unhealthy indoor air quality.

If Your Gas Furnace Will Not Ignite

First, check that the thermostat is turned up a few degrees above current the room temperature. It may need to be 3-4 degrees higher. If it still does not turn on, check the electrical panel.

What To Do If You Smell Gas

If you ever smell gas coming from the furnace, leave the home and call your gas company right away.

Schedule Annual Heating System Maintenance

Regular system maintenance is important for ensuring that the furnace is operating safely and reliably.  During an annual heating system inspection your technician will lubricate the furnace ports and bearings, reducing the amount of energy the unit needs to operate. Your technician will also clean the burners if they appear dirty and check for carbon monoxide leaks.
Saturday, 20 February 2021 22:03

Why You Should Upgrade Your Thermostat

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Why You Should Upgrade Your Thermostat

Smart Thermostats Improve Comfort and Save Energy

Upgrade to a Smart Thermostat

Wireless technology has connected virtually every aspect of our lives. As our homes have become more and more connected with wi-fi devices managed from digital voice assistants and smart phone apps, the thermostat has also become more much smarter and capable.

Traditional thermostats adjust the indoor air temperature by working as a simple control input for a home's heating and cooling system. You simply set the temperature and the device keeps your home within that range near the thermostat's physical location. With the arrival of programmable thermostats homeowners could tailor the temperature of their home by programming the thermostat to turn on and off based on the day and time when the house would be occupied. This meant the heating or cooling system could be adjusted when you were away from home, saving energy.

Today, "smart" thermostats take the programmable thermostats to the next level by learning a household's routine and allowing homeowners to monitor and change the temperature automatically. They can also provide real time feedback on energy consumption, weather forecasts and even adapt the temperature based on conditions like humidity levels. Smart thermostats offer many advantages over conventional thermostats, from increased comfort, improved energy savings and remote access to temperature controls. 

The Nest Thermostat

One of the first smart thermostats to market was The Nest® thermostat. It combines sleek design with a bright full color display to provide homeowners with useful information, combined with convenient remote apps designed to help cut energy consumption. The Nest is a learning thermostat that senses if a home is occupied, whether the air is suddenly getting humid, and other factors that allow it to custom tailor the indoor environment.

Choosing a Smart Thermostat

When choosing a smart thermostat you will have many brands to choose from, and there are differences between manufacturers that you should be aware of. Here are a few questions to ask when shopping for a smart thermostat.

Does it work remotely from your phone?
If you plan to use it from your phone make sure that the app works on your device.

Is it compatible with Other Technology in Your Home?
One of most convenient features of smart thermostats is their ability to interact with voice assistants like Google Home, Alexa® and Siri®. Check the manufacturer's website to see if your assistant is compatible with the thermostat models you are considering.

Tracking Savings
If you're primarily interested in improving efficiency and lowering energy costs, consider a model with data tracking and reporting. You'll be able to see hour-by-hour and day-by-day how often your heating and cooling system are operating.

Where Should My Smart Thermostat Be Installed?
When installing the thermostat it's important to keep it away from vents and sources of heat that could affect the temperature readings. Place the thermostat in an area with minimal disturbance such as an interior wall.

Do you have a "C-Wire"?
A C-wire, or common wire, provides continuous power to your smart thermostat display and WiFi connectivity. If you don’t have one or aren’t sure, give us a call and we can help install one if needed.

No Heat? Here's what to Check Before Calling For Service

Furnace Inspection

Furnace Won't Turn On? Boiler Not Heating? Before you call us for service there are few items you can check first. It could be a simple fix.

  1. Check That the Power Is On - Even though they are natural gas powered, your furnace requires electricity to start and keep running. Look for the circuit in your electrical panel. If the circuit has tripped and is in the OFF position, switch it back to the ON position. If the circuit trips again after resetting, DO NOT RESET IT MORE THAN ONCE, circuit breakers are a safety device to prevent an electrical fire in the event of a malfunction. Call us to inspect the furnace and electrical connection.
  2. Is the Thermostat Is Turned To the HEAT Position? If it is in the heat position, try turning the temperature up a few degrees to see if it turns on.
  3. Check the Furnace Condensate (Drain) Pan During normal operation water drains from the air conditioner or furnace into a condensation pan. If the drain for the pan is clogged the pan will fill up and trigger a float switch, which will prevent the operation of the furnace. If the float switch is up (activated), you will need to clear the obstruction from the drain line to allow water to empty and then reset the switch.
  4. Is the Furnace Filter Dirty? An excessively dirty and clogged filter will cause the furnace to overheat, which in turn will cause it to shut down as a safety precaution. Installing a new filter should solve the problem.
  5. Is the Pilot Light On? This only applies to older gas furnaces. Most newer units have electric ignition. If your pilot light is out consult your owner's manual for the correct way to light the pilot.
  6. Check the Natural Gas Supply. If there are other gas appliances in the home, such a gas range or fireplace, check that they are functioning. You may have an issue with your gas service.
If none of the above steps helps and the furnace won't turn on, call MR Plumbing. We'll find the cause and get your heat back on FAST.
Saturday, 12 December 2020 18:42

Furnace Filters and Indoor Air Quality

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Furnace Filters and Indoor Air Quality

Furnace Filters and Indoor Air Quality

When it comes to choosing the right furnace air filter there are many options available. The efficiency of furnace filters is measured on the MERV scale, or Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values, which rates filter efficiency on a scale of 1-20. On the low end of the cost scale and MERV scale with a rating of 1-3 are disposable fiberglass filters. Made of 1-inch thick fiberglass, these filters are designed to prevent larger particles of dust, lint, and other debris from damaging your furnace.

Filters are tested and rated for for their ability to trap pollen, dust mites, mold spores, dust, pet dander, bacteria and tobacco smoke. Here are how effective the different MERV ratings are at removing various contaminants from the air. Here are

MERV 1-4 : Filters out pollen and dust mites.

MERV 5-8 : Removes mold and dust.

MERV 9-12 : Traps lead dust and most bacteria

MERV 12+ : Filters out all bacteria and tobacco smoke

When choosing an air filter for your HVAC system it may seem like a good idea to buy the filter with the highest MERV rating, since you want to have the cleanest air possible, right? In most cases, you should use a filter in the 5-8 range. The reason is that filters with a high MERV rating will have the smallest pores for air to pass through. This can make it harder for the HVAC system to push air through the filter, reducing system performance. To avoid restricting the air flow, filters with a higher MERV rating should be changed more frequently (at least every three months) to prevent damage to the HVAC system.

Ultimately, if your home's air is dirty enough to require a higher MERV rating, or you're changing air filters more than once a month, you may be better served by having a whole home air filtration system. A furnace air filter is really just designed to keep your HVAC equipment clean to prevent wear and tear. A whole house air filtration system is designed to actually clean the air inside the home.

How Good Is My Furnace Filter For Cleaning the Air In My Home?

Disposable pleated furnace filters are probably the most popular option. These filters are made from polyester or cotton paper and remove smaller particles like mold spores and mites, but should be changed frequently to avoid clogging and reducing airflow to the furnace. Pleated filters have a MERV rating of 6 and cost more than fiberglass filters.

The most effective furnace air filters are disposable or permanent electrostatic filters. With a MERV rating of 10 or higher, they offer highly effective filtration and are recommended for homes where allergies or upper respiratory conditions are a concern.

Have questions about furnace filters and indoor air quality? Call MR Plumbing and Electric we're here to help.
Wednesday, 11 November 2020 22:12

Gas Heat Pump Or Furnace?

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Heat Pump Versus Gas Furnace - What's The Better Choice?

With heat pumps gaining in popularity in some parts of the U.S., many homeowners are asking if a heat pump is a good option for their home heating and cooling needs. Here is an overview of how heat pumps work and how they differ from traditional gas furnaces.

The Differences

The main difference between a furnace and a heat pump is that a heat pump can be reversed to either heat or cool a home. A heat pump consists of two parts: an indoor unit called an air handler and an outdoor unit that is similar to a central air conditioner – called a heat pump. A compressor circulates refrigerant that absorbs and releases heat as it travels between the indoor and outdoor units.

Depending on the season a heat pump exchanges the cool air with warm air, or the other way around. Even air that's seems cold can have heat energy. When it's cold outside the heat pump extracts the heat and transfers into the home. When it’s hot outside, it reverses the flow to work like an air conditioner, removing heat from your home.

When considering a heat pump it's important to understand that, unlike a gas furnace which creates heat, a heat pump can only exchange heat, and will be unable to deliver a high level of warm air that is required to heat homes in cold climates like the Chicago area.

Have home heating questions? Call MR Plumbing and Electric. We're here to help.
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