heating and cooling

Our corner of Pennsylvania welcomed the new year with a stretch of unseasonably warm weather. At one point in early January, temperatures got into the high 60s.

But our luck can’t hold forever. Cold weather and winter storms will eventually return. And with those conditions comes the risk of property damage.

In this week’s blog post, we’ll look at some ways you can protect your home – and your heating and cooling system – this winter.\

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The Season of Dry Air

whole house humidifier

It’s the season for chapped lips, for itchy, dry skin. For waking up with sore throats and the occasional bloody nose.

In other words, it’s winter, when the air in your home is typically dryer than normal. In this week’s blog post, we’ll explore some ways you can make your home more comfortable, including investing in a whole house humidifier.

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Mom and Daughter with rabbit

With luck, you’ll never need the information in this article. Your furnace will perform admirably all winter, keeping you and your family warm.

But if you do have furnace issues, it helps to be ready and informed. In this blog post we’ll look at some issues you might want to watch out for, while also discussing the benefits of the Mitsubishi Electric heating and cooling system.

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schedule HVAC maintenance

Live in your house long enough and you’ll get used to the sounds it makes. The hum of the refrigerator. The garage door opening. That one step that always creaks.

Then there are the sounds you don’t expect, like the ones that emanate from your furnace duct work. If you’re wondering when to schedule HVAC maintenance, it’s when you hear things coming from your furnace like:

  1. Rattling sounds

This sound can be unsettling, but it’s not an end-of-the-world HVAC issue. Rather, it’s a sign that your ductwork is either sized improperly or has simply come loose. When your furnace is firing, it will cause loose ducts to rattle against each other.

Again, it’s not a huge issue, but it is giving you a bigger energy bill, as loose ductwork can lead to a loss of heat.

  • Whistling

We might associate whistling with feeling carefree, but this sound coming out of your furnace is in fact more like wheezing, likely the result of a constricted air flow.

Look to see if you need to replace your filter. If that’s not the answer, check your vents to make sure they’re clear of debris. Like the rattling sound, it’s not a serious issue, but this could lead to bigger problems. Have your HVAC tech look at the furnace during scheduled maintenance.

  • Vibrating or humming

These noises typically signal a clog in the air flow return section of your heating system, which can lead to a massive drop in air pressure. The smaller the blockage, the longer the humming or vibrating noise will last. If you have a near-total blockage, it will announce itself with a short, loud, sudden hum.

  • Buzzing or scratching

In this case, you’ll need to call an exterminator rather than wonder when to schedule HVAC maintenance. The buzzing and scratching is probably mice, insects and other pests making a winter home in your ducts.

  • Squealing

When you hear a loud squealing coming from the engine of your car, it’s often a sign that one of the belts is about to give. The same is true for your furnace. A loud, persistent squeal can be a sign that the fan or motor belt is about to break and needs to be replaced as soon as possible.

  • Booming

This might be a serious issue. When you hear a soft, infrequent boom, you might be hearing the furnace plenum, its air distribution box, expanding.

However, a loud, frequent boom is the sound of a delayed furnace ignition, which can be a threat to the entire system. When you hear this sound, call your local HVAC expert as soon as possible.

Nearly any unusual noise from your system is your furnace telling you when to schedule HVAC maintenance. (One exception: a snapping and popping noise when your system turns on, which is just the sound of ducts expanding and flexing because of a change in air pressure.)

Do you need to schedule maintenance on your HVAC system? Are you hearing weird noises from your ducts? Talk to All Seasons Comfort Control. Our team can examine your heating system for problems, allowing you to rest comfortably all winter.

Unless your job requires it – or you just really don’t mind the cold—we’re willing to bet you won’t be spending a lot of time outdoors over the next few months.

And while the idea of holding up at home to wait out the winter seems appealing, it’s important to make sure you have a healthy indoor climate. In this blog post, we’ll discuss ways to improve your indoor air quality and how products like the Air Scrubber Plus can give you the gift of clean air in 2020.

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Kids looking out window at snow

It’s one of life’s cruel ironies: Just as winter weather chases us inside, the indoor air quality in our homes begins to plummet.

And so begins a vicious cycle: we build our homes to keep out drafts, which keeps us warm but keeps allergens and pollutants in and prevents fresh air from circulating.

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Man turning down thermostat looking at high heating bill

Imagine if you opened your cable bill and saw charges for a bunch of channels you didn’t get. Or you went to a restaurant and were asked to pay for food you’d never ordered.

The same sort of thing might be happening with your energy bill each winter, as you shell out money to heat rooms you’re not using.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. You can save money on your heating costs – and make your home more comfortable – with the help of a zoned heating system.

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If you’ve ever gone looking for a new HVAC system – or even a window air conditioner or space heater – you’ve probably encountered the initials BTU.

BTU stands for “British Thermal Unit,” and it’s a part of the same system that includes things like pounds or inches, only instead of measuring weight or length, the BTU measures energy.

A BTU is the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of a pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit at sea level. BTUs allow you to track how much energy an appliance can process to make your space warmer or cooler.

BTU per square foot and determining furnace sizes

Platinum Furnace American Standard

To start with, the appropriate BTU per square foot measurement for your home will depend on where you live. People living in, say, Florida will need a lower number than someone living in Minnesota.

Here in the mid-Atlantic region, you’ll typically need 40-45 BTUs per square foot. To determine the proper furnace size for your home, multiply the appropriate BTU per square foot by the square footage you need to need.

Let’s say you live in a 2,000 square foot home in southeastern Pennsylvania, meaning your BTU per square foot number is at 40-45. That would mean you’d need an 80,000/90,000 BTU HVAC system to heat and cool your home.

BTUs are an important factor in home heating and cooling. Choose a unit with insufficient power, and you’re left feeling too warm in the summer, too cold in the winter and paying a higher than necessary energy bill.

However, there’s more to determining what size heating and cooling unit you need than just BTU per square foot. Consider these factors as well:

1. Your house

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In addition to the size of your home, you’ll need to consider some other factors. For example, if your living areas face south, you’ll get more sun – and therefore more heat – in the winter months.

Then there’s the construction of your home. If you’re living in a brick house, you’ve already got more natural insulation than someone living in a home with wood siding.

There are even some external factors that can affect your heating needs. If you’ve got a lot of trees or shrubs planted around your house, you’ll have an extra layer of protection against cold air.

2. Your local climate

House in Maine in Winter

As we indicated earlier, the part of the country where you live can determine the size of the furnace you’ll need. Someone in Maine, with its often brutal winters, would want a bigger, more powerful furnace than someone living in a more temperate climate.

3. Efficiency

Furnaces are required by law to have an efficiency rating of at least 80 percent, and higher-quality heating systems will usually hit 98 percent.

This means two furnaces could be the same size but provide substantially different levels of efficiency. You could purchase a smaller furnace with a higher efficiency rating and still get the same amount of heat as a larger unit with a lower efficiency rating.

Working out which size furnace to choose isn’t something you want to tackle on your own. A qualified HVAC contractor can look at all the factors we’ve discussed here—from home size to efficiency to BTU per square foot – and determine what sort of heating system is right for you.

If you’re preparing to switch to a new heating system, All Seasons Comfort Control can help. For more than 15 years, we’ve worked with Bucks County area homeowners to make sure they’ve had the HVAC service that’s right for them. Contact us today to learn more.