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Heating Tips & Advice

Heating Tips & Advice (16)

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.

Humidity and Indoor Air Quality

During the cold fall and winter months the air inside our homes becomes much drier. When the heat is turned on humidity levels can drop even further, leading to a host of potential health problems.

Health Problems From Low Humidity

During the winter, dry skin, itchy eyes and respiratory irritation are just a few of the side-effects caused by low humidity in the home. With dry mucous membranes your body becomes more susceptible to infections and you're more likely to catch a cold or the flu. Dry air can also increase the time that airborne virus droplets remain in the air, increasing the chance of spreading the flu virus.

Problems Caused By Low Humidity

Wood furniture, floors and other woodwork are most susceptible to low humidity levels. If humidity levels fluctuate significantly wood can swell and shrink as moisture is absorbed and lost. Musical instruments, paintings and electronic equipment can also be harmed be overly dry conditions.

Improve Air Quality With a Whole-Home Humidifier

The best solution to low humidity levels in the home is a whole-home humidifier. By working in conjunction with your home's HVAC system a humidifier will provide consistent, healthy humidity levels throughout your home. A humidity level of 40-60 percent during the winter months is best for most homes.

Have questions about maintaining healthy humidity levels in your home? Call MR Plumbing, we can help with all your home heating and humidification needs.
Thursday, 17 September 2020 15:52

Get Your Gas Furnace Ready For The Heating Season

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Preparing Your Furnace For The Heating Season

Furnace Filter Replacement

If your home has a gas furnace, there are a few steps you should take to ensure that it operates safely and reliably. While performing professional heating system maintenance is important here is what you can do yourself.

How To Turn On Your Gas Furnace

Typically, a gas furnace is operated 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.

Inspect and Change Your Furnace Filter

To check the filter, open the cover of the unit and then remove the filter. You can use a vacuum cleaner to remove the surface dust from a plastic filter, then simply wash it and dry it before replacing it. Always operate the furnace with a filter in place. You will need to replace a cardboard filter every few months, or as recommended by the filter manufacturer.

How To Test Your Heating System's Airflow

Check each room in your home by feeling for the airflow that comes from the furnace blower. If airflow is insufficient to parts of your home, you may want to have a professional check your ductwork to ensure if it is sufficient for air delivery.

If Your Gas Furnace Fails To Ignite

A inoperable pilot light is one of the main reasons that a gas furnace will fail to ignite. To ignite the pilot, turn the gas cock off and then push the pilot reset button while turning the cock to 'pilot’. Get a match and light it, then hold it near the furnace pilot to relight it.

Furnace Troubleshooting Checklist

Cleaning the system every couple of years helps the unit to run more efficiently and last longer. 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 furnace burners if they appear dirty.

Removing Vent Blockages

Cleaning the vents and ducts will remove blockages that can interfere with heat flow in the home. In the winter, ice can block the outdoor vents. Make sure to turn off the unit before you attempt to remove the ice.

How To Stop Air Leaks and Prevent Heat Loss

If you notice air leaks emanating from your system, use caulk to seal off any gaps. In addition, placing weather stripping around doors and windows will keep your home from losing heat, which makes your furnace run more often.

What To Do If You Smell Gas

If you ever smell gas coming from the furnace, leave the area and call your gas company right away. Avoid lighting matches or using any electrical appliances until you are safely away from the area.
Monday, 10 February 2020 20:08

5 Furnace Filter Tips

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Keep Your Heating and Cooling System Working Efficiently and Your Air Healthier

5 Furnace Filter Tips

A common question we hear from our customers is, "How often should I change my furnace air filter?" The answer is usually once a month. Check with the filter packaging for details.  There are a few other things to consider as well:

1. Buy filters in bulk and keep them next to the furnace.

Having filters always ready next to the furnace will reduce procrastination and the tendency to wait too long between filter changes. Also, buying filters in bulk is usually less expensive than buying them individually.

2. Use the correct size filter.

An poor-fitting filter lets dirt and debris escape around the filter, contaminate the air in your home and the parts inside the furnace, leading to reduced efficiency of the unit which can shorten the lifespan of the compressor and other components.

3. Install the filter in the right direction.

Most filters have arrows indicating the direction of air flow. Putting a filter in backwards can cause the filter to work less efficently and in some cases may cause the filter to bend, allowing dirty air around the filter.

4. Always turn of the power at the breaker rather than the thermostat when changing the filter.

This will ensure that if you come in contact with any wiring inside or near the filter you won't get shocked.

5. Furnace filters are not designed as air cleaners.

While most furnace filters will keep a lot of dirt and debris out of the air, they are not going to keep the air free of smaller contaminates and allergens. If your home has excessive dust, pet dander, smoke or other pollutants, consider using a separate, high quality home air filtration system. A HEPA rated filter is designed to capture the smallest particles that can easily pass through most common furnace air filters.

Have questions about your furnace filter, indoor air quality or your home's heating and cooling system? Call MR Plumbing, Heating, Air Conditioning & Electric. We are here to help answer your questions.
Wednesday, 05 February 2020 19:29

Are Furnace Noises the Sign of a Problem?

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If you have an older furnace you’ve likely experienced a range of noises over time, especially as the furnace nears the end of it's lifespan. However, most newer gas furnaces are designed to run very quietly.

Are furnace noises a sign of a problem?

Here are some of the sounds you may hear from your heating system and what they could indicate:

Screeching Noises
If you hear a screeching noise coming from your furnace, it could be a problem with the motor, such as a worn bearing.

Pinging and Popping
Pinging or popping sounds often happen when the air ducts expand and contract and are usually nothing to worry about.

Vibrating or Whining noises
This can indicate a serious problem with the furnace, such as a loose motor mount, that you should have a technician check as soon as possible.

Crackling Sounds
When the furnace shuts down the hot metal parts will often make a crackling sound as they cool down.

Booming sounds
Loud booming sounds may come from air ducts as they expand and contract in very cold weather, especially when a basement is unheated. It can also indicate the furnace has dirty burners that should be serviced by a heating technician.

If these sounds are accompanied by a blower that is turning on and off more frequently or is blowing cool air, it may be time to call MR Plumbing to inspect the unit.
Thursday, 14 November 2019 15:38

Solving Uneven Temperture Problems In the Home

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Inconsistent heating or cooling in the home is one of the most common reasons homeowners contact us for service. Hot or cold zones around the home are not only an annoyance, they’re a sign that the air delivery system is not operating correctly. Many homeowners will simply close or open vents, or adjust the thermostat well above or below where it should be to maintain a comfortable setting. This wastes energy and can shorten the life of your HVAC system.

Uneven Temperatures In the Home

Several factors can contribute to uneven heating or cooling, but, fortunately, they can all be fixed. Here are a few things that you can do to address uneven heating and cooling in your home

Have Your Home's Ductwork Inspected

If airflow to certain parts of the home is imbalanced, you’ll experience uneven heating or cooling in those areas. An airflow imbalance also causes your system to work overtime in order to compensate, which in turn will shorten your system’s life and decrease its efficiency.

In order to create a balanced airflow M/R Plumbing, Air Conditioning & Heating will need to inspect and assess the adequacy of your home’s ductwork. If the ducts are not properly sized, it’s important to replace them with correctly sized ones.

Identifying leaks and blockages is also important, as leaks are a major contributor to inefficiency and uneven temperatures. If blockages are identified, they will be removed to restore airflow. Once the underlying causes of the imbalance have been identified, the appropriate repairs or replacement will be made to get your system functioning normally again.

Variable Speed Motors

Variable speed motors provide more even heating and cooling, and allow for more precise control of airflow throughout the home. By moving the air more slowly through the system, variable speed motors can help make a home’s air filtration and moisture control systems more effective. They adjust the system’s output based on the home’s heating or cooling needs. They can also be helpful in situations where uneven heating or cooling is actually desired. If there are rooms in your home that are rarely used, you can save money by keeping them at a slightly higher or lower temperature than the other rooms in your home. This involves “zoning,” which means customizing temperature settings for different areas of the home. In general, variable speed motors are the only systems that allow for zoning within the home.

Ensure Your HVAC System Is The Correct Size

Just as you’re experiencing discomfort due to uneven temperatures, your system is constantly trying to compensate, which means high utility bills and the potential for costly repairs.

Sometimes, an improperly sized HVAC system may result in uneven heating or cooling. This could be the result of either an incorrect load calculation at the time of the system’s installation or a home’s heating and cooling needs changing over time. For example, it is common that an extra room is added or an area like an attic or basement is converted into living space. If your HVAC system is too small to properly heat or cool your home, uneven temperatures and system failures could result. To determine whether your HVAC system is properly sized, contact an HVAC professional for an up-to-date load calculation.
Tuesday, 05 November 2019 15:22

The Importance of Replacing Your Furnace Air Filter

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Changing Your Furnace Air Filter Regularly Keeps The Air Clean and Your Heating System Running Reliably and Efficiently

Having a clean, properly sized furnace filter is critical for a number of reasons. A clogged or poorly fitting air filter will make your home's heating and cooling system work harder to move the air around your your home. The result is poor efficiency, higher utility bills and dirtier air.

Replacing Furnace Filter

How Often Should You Replace Your Air Filter?

The frequency of filter replacement will depend on the filter type, the size of your home and your home's air quality. A furnace in a larger home will move more air and clog the filter faster. If you have pets you’ll probably need to change your filter twice as often. Not only are pet dander and hair a leading cause of allergens, they also clog air filters more quickly.

Start with every two months for a standard 1” filter and twice as often if you have a large home, allergies or pets. Costlier filters often claim to last 90 days, but in our experience, these filters restrict air flow so much that they should be changed monthly. Your furnace and air conditioner will breathe easier and so will you!

Choosing An Air Filter

If you’re really interested in cleaning the air in your home, MR Plumbing, Heating, Cooling & Electrical can install a whole-house air cleaner in place of your standard furnace filter. HEPA filters clean the air better that any of the standard pleated filters and need to be changed much less frequently.

If you buy your air filters by the case and keep them near your furnace it will reduce the tendency to procrastinate about changing the filter. Buying by the case can also reduce the cost of the filters.

Never run your system with an incorrectly sized filter. An poor-fitting furnace filter will allow dust and other contaminates to sneak around the filter and into your home. This is also the primary cause of clogged air conditioner coils. Clogged AC coils reduce efficiency and compressor life, and can cause expensive problems down the road.

Always turn off your furnace at the breaker panel or disconnect (not just the thermostat) before replacing your filter. Some furnaces have electrical wiring close to the filter location which could shock you if the power is not disconnected first. furnace air filters

If you're uncertain about where your furnace filter goes, what direction to install it, or what size or type to use, give us a call. We're always happy to help.

For improved filtration and healthier indoor air quality, we offer whole-house air cleaners and other Indoor Air Quality systems. Our technicians can recommend the best solution based on your needs and your home.

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