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HVAC Tips from Sears Heating and Cooling

We’ve been in the HVAC business since 1950, and with that experience comes a lot of knowledge. Read our professional tips here.

Winterize Your Home

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It's Time To Winterize Your Home! With the cold weather finally starting to set in, now is the best time to winterize you home! It's that time of year again to get your home ready for the cold winter ahead! Here are a list of a few things you can do to make sure your home is all set for the upcoming cold months. Change Your Furnace Filter The number one cause of HVAC breakdowns is dirt. By changing your furnace filter on a regular basis, you are saving yourself from needing a costly furnace repair. Standard one inch filters should generally be changed every 30 days. If you have a thicker media filter, they can usually last 6-12 months. Filter lifespans depend on the home however. If you have several pets, you will find yourself needing to change the filter more often. Check Your Thermostat Check your thermostat to ensure proper operation. If your thermostat takes batteries, it may be worth putting a fresh set in now to save yourself from a dead thermostat. Verify the furnace kicks on in heating mode as well so you're not surprised if it doesn't work when you need it.  Check & Replace Weather Stripping Make sure your furnace doesn't need to work harder than it needs to by checking any weather stripping in your home. This can usually be found on doors and windows to help keep the cold air out when they are closed. If you find cracked or wearing weather...
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Reasons for Furnace Breakdown

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Common Reasons For Furnace Breakdowns It’s the middle of winter and our phone lines hum with calls from homeowners who are without heat or not enough heat and need a furnace repair. Our knowledgeable technicians will diagnose precisely what’s wrong with your furnace or heat pump. The first step in any diagnosis is to look for simple things first. Here are some of the most common problems we find when troubleshooting. Dirty or clogged filters. The single most important thing you can do to ensure adequate heat in cold weather is to change filters regularly. Dirty filters restrict air flow. This means your furnace must work harder to circulate warm air throughout your home. This puts unnecessary strain on your furnace and may result in a breakdown, along with excessive utility bills and diminished equipment life.  Change filters at least every three months, and even monthly is not excessive, especially if you have a pet that sheds. Filters are cheap. You can buy a year’s supply for less than the cost of a single service call. Ignition problems. Today’s heating systems typically have one of two types of ignition systems: hot surface ignition or intermittent pilot. Hot surface ignition uses a heating element, kind of like a filament in a light bulb, which is controlled electronically to ignite the gas burner. This element wears out over time. The intermittent pilot also is controlled electronically but uses a high voltage electric spark to ignite the gas pilot and then the main...
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Do Heat Pumps Save Money?

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Will a Heat Pump Save Me Money? Heat pumps are a great option for someone looking for a unit to both heat and cool their home! What Is a Heat Pump Anyway? A heat pump is a pretty cool piece of equipment. It is capable of both cooling your home in the summer and heating your home in the winter. It looks pretty much identical to an air conditioner but utilizes an air handler to move air throughout your home. A heat pump is a type of forced air HVAC system.  Some customers have a gas furnace as well that they use for "emergency heat" in the winter as heat pumps are designed to heat a home as long as the temp is above 30 degrees outside. Heat pumps work by moving warm air from one place to another. In the summer it moves the warm air out of your home, and in the winter it moves warm air into your home. Even when it is cold outside, heat energy is still present! By moving heat instead of generating heat, it can be a cost effective alternative to heating.  Can a Heat Pump Save Me Money? This really depends. Although you can certainly save money on fuel consumption in the winter, a heat pump will use a bit more electricity than a standard furnace and air conditioner as it is both cooling and heating your home. Also, heat pumps are generally more expensive to install than a normal air conditioner as...
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Should I Cover My Air Conditioner In Winter?

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Should I Put A Cover On My AC Unit During Winter? Putting a cover on your air conditioner during the winter can actually do more harm than good. It a way it makes sense right? When you are done with your air conditioner for the year, you put a cover on it to help protect the internal parts and keep it free from debris. Well, it turns out this actually is not the best thing to do when it comes to your air conditioner. Believe it or not, air conditioners of today are built to be quite durable and endure some harsh conditions all year long. Although you may think it will help to cover your air conditioner from the snow, you actually run the risk of harming it if you do. I mean, don't you think manufactures would recommend you utilize a cover if it was truly necessary? Yet none of them do. Here are some popular reasons why covering your air conditioner when not in use is not recommended. Mold, Mildew and Condensation By placing a cover over your air conditioner, you actually run the risk of trapping condensation in the unit and it turning into mold or mildew over time. The best place for mold and mildew to grow is in a damp, dark and warm place and by using an AC cover you are creating this exact situation. Home For Rodents During the cold winters, many rodents seek shelter from the cold. What a great little...
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When Should I Change My Furnace Filter?

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How Often Should I Change My Furnace Filter? Both your furnace and air conditioner depend on a clean furnace filter to operate at maximum efficiency. Dirt and dust are the #1 cause of HVAC breakdowns. Who knew you could save your self so much money in the long-run by just changing an air filter! Failure to change your furnace filter on a regular basis could lead to such HVAC problems as ice build up on your air conditioner. Check Those Filters! It is recommenced to always check your furnace filter at least once per month, regardless of the size of the filter. Even if you have a large, media filter, debris can sometimes become caught inside of it and hinder air flow, making your furnace or air conditioner work harder than it needs to. We have even found pet toys inside filters before! Standard One-Inch Filter Furnace filters vary on when they should be changed. If you are utilizing a standard one-inch filter, these are recommended to be changed once per month. One-inch filters may need to be changed more frequently if you have pets or your home is dustier than usual.  Media Filters If you have a thick media-filter installed, these should generally be changed every 6 months. These filters don't need to be changed as often due to the size of them and the dirt they can hold. However, it is still recommended to check this type of filter on a monthly basis for debris and large build...
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How Does A Humidifier Work?

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How Does A Humidifier Keep My Home Comfortable? Humidifiers are very popular in the winter months when the air becomes dry both outside and inside your home! During the winter, the air in your home can be quite dry and cause damage to both your possessions and your body. A humidifier works with your furnace to keep the water level in the air of your home consistent all winter long. How a Humidifier Works The operation of a humidifier is actually quite simple. The unit itself is attached the the duct work just above your furnace. Inside of the humidifier is a water panel that is moistened with water via a water line. The dry air from the furnace flows over this water panel, collects water, and then is distributed throughout your home. How Do I Control It? You are able to set the desired humidity level in your home via a humidistat. Some of today's higher end thermostats have this included in them so that you don't need two boxes hanging on your wall. In general, an overall humidity level of 35-40% is what you should be aiming for. Anything more than this and you risk condensation forming in your home. Did you know that it's possible for it to rain inside a home if the humidity level is too high? Yep. Why Humidifiers Are Neccessary Dry air is not good for your body or your furniture. If you frequently suffer from static shocks in your home, dry lips,...
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Why Does My Furnace Filter Get Dirty So Fast?

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Why Is My Furnace Filter Getting Dirty So Quickly? Furnace filters can become dirty quite quickly depending on your home and living conditions. Your furnace filter is one of the most important parts of your HVAC system. Not only does it help cut down on dust in the air, but it also helps protect all of the important parts of your furnace and air conditioner. Depending on your home and living conditions, you may ending up changing your furnace filter more or less frequently than others. If your furnace filter is getting dirty faster than usual, here are some things to check: Dust In Your Home Cleaning and dusting your home on a regular basis is a good way to extend the life of your furnace filters. It's advised to dust and vacuum your home at least once per week to cut down on the overall dust level of your home. Having your carpets professionally cleaned at least once per year is recommended as well as they are able to clean much deeper than a regular vacuum. Did you know that your carpets are the biggest filters in your home? Fan Is Set To "On" Instead Of " Auto" This setting is found on your thermostat. If you have the fan in your furnace set to "on", this means that the fan will run continuously until you turn it off at the thermostat. Some people prefer this setting as it helps filter the air in the home and also helps...
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What Is A Gravity Furnace?

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What Is A Gravity Furnace & How Does It Work? Gravity furnaces were one of the most popular ways to heat homes way back in the day. Gravity furnaces were quite popular back in the day. These types of furnaces were installed from the late 1800's to approximately the mid 1900's, before gas and electric furnaces became the standard. If you've ever seen one, you know they can look quite intimidating due to their size! How Do Gravity Furnaces Work? Gravity furnace operation is quite simple. A fuel is inserted into the combustion chamber which would then heat the air surrounding it, and then this air would then rise through the duct work to heat the rest of the home. Heat naturally rises, so there was no blower or motors involved. The original gravity furnaces ran on coal, which would have to be replaced on a regular basis to keep the heat flowing. In essence, it was a giant stove that heated the home at the time. As technology progressed, new fuel sources such as propane, oil, and natural gas replaced the coal to heat the furnace.  Disadvantages of Gravity Furnaces Most gravity furnaces today are due to be replaced just based on their age alone. If that's not convincing enough, here are some other good reasons to replace: Low Efficiency - Today, furnace efficiency starts at 80% and go all the way up to 98%. Meaning at least 80% of the fuel burned is used to heat the home....
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Why Does My Furnace Have A Burning Smell?

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Why Is My Furnace Producing A Burning Smell? Have you started up your furnace for the first time this year only to find it is producing a burning type of smell? This can actually be a normal occurrence! So the weather finally starts to cool down and it's time to start up the furnace for the first time. Yet, when you turn it on, it starts to smell like your house is on fire. What is going on? Let's look at some common scenarios below! Dirty Evaporator Coil During the year, it's normal for your evaporator coil (the coil that sits on top of your furnace used to cool your home via your air conditioner) to become a bit dirty. Despite changing your filter regularly, some dust may begin to accumulate on the coils. When you fire up your furnace for the first time, the hot air then flows over these coils after being heated by your heat exchanger. This hot air can begin to burn off some of this dust, hair and other particles that may have accumulated on your coil over the summer months. Although you will notice this smell the first couple times your furnace runs, the smell should begin to dissipate rather quickly over time. It is a good idea to have your evaporator coil cleaned at least once every couple years to prevent costly air conditioner repairs. Dirt Air Filters This one is simple enough. Check your furnace filter to make sure that it is...
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Pilot Light On Furnace Keeps Going Out

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Why Does The Pilot Light On My Furnace Keep Going Out? A pilot light going out can be an annoying issue to deal with in the cold weather. If you have a furnace that was made in the early 1990's or earlier, chances are you have had to deal with the pilot light going out on your furnace at least once. Why does this happen though? Is there anything that can be done to prevent a furnace repair? Let's find out! Faulty Gas Valve A standing pilot light is really nothing more than a slow and steady flow of gas that helps ignite your furnace when it's time to come on. One of the first culprits that come to mind would be a fault with your furnace's gas valve, possibly with it's power unit. If the gas valve on your furnace is starting to go bad, it might not be providing enough gas to the ignition system to keep your pilot light flame going. Without the proper HVAC tools, a bad gas valve is nearly impossible to diagnose. Improper Flow Of Gas This problem can also be caused by a faulty gas valve. If your furnace's gas pressure is not set properly, the pilot light may not be receiving the correct amount of gas needed to stay light. You are able to adjust the gas pressure via the furnace's gas valve. A proper gas pressure is usually around 3.5" WC. Any deviation from this may cause your furnace's burners to...
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