Kentuckiana Heating Tip: How Humidifiers Can Help During Winter Months

Louisville heating and coolingThe creeping in of the cold winter season can mean lots of things, piles of snow, heavier coats and the cranking up of your Louisville furnace. But winter can also bring a host of other issues like flu season, dry, itchy skin and endless shivering. There is one solution that can help with many of these things; a humidifier. During the winter months humidity levels can decrease to 10% indoors. Normal indoor humidity levels are 30-40%. The benefit of added humidity can also improve some other things as well.

  1. Prevent Illness – Keeping moisture in the air helps your tiny nose hairs function properly and keep out airborne bacteria that is more prevalent during winter months.
  2. Treat Illness – Moist air helps soothe the symptoms of a cold and flu including nasal irritation and the throat and bronchial tubes. When these areas are properly hydrated you sleep easier and soothe the ailing parts under attack.
  3. Warmth – Humidifiers help fight dry skin and keep your home warmer by adding more moisture. The more moisture there is in your home the warmer it will feel.
  4. Reduce Snoring – Believe it or not, low moisture is one of the major reasons snoring persists. By increasing water intake through drinking and hydration in the air, you can reduce snoring.
  5. Control Static – Petting your cat can be a big shock when suddenly the electricity snaps back at you. It’s also frustrating to have a new hairstyle that stands straight up. Having a humidifier can help with these static issues as well as reduce the risk that static shock can bring to electronics. Keeping the air moist can drastically reduce the possibility of encountering a shock that could damage the internals of a computer.

Although some of this information may be shocking, it is helpful as the winter months stick around to implement some basic things to help you stay well and warm.

Heating Tips: Make Sure your Carbon Monoxide Detector is in Place

Louisville heating and coolingAs colder weather begins to roll around, many preventative measures in our homes are important to protect us from the elements and common indoor hazards. One hazard that is more prevalent in the winter season is gas leaks. These leaks can come from a furnace or water heater and may produce carbon monoxide (CO) fumes that can be deadly.

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that is produced by incomplete burning of fuels like coal, wood, charcoal, oil, propane or natural gas. If your furnace or water heater’s burners become dirty or are not working properly, you could be at risk.

Since carbon monoxide can’t be detected by the senses, you might not even know it’s there until you begin to experience symptoms. With low-level exposure you may begin to detect:

  • headache
  • fatigue
  • shortness of breath
  • nausea
  • dizziness

When exposure becomes ongoing, symptoms worsen and become more severe:

  • mental confusion
  • vomiting
  • loss of coordination
  • loss of consciousness
  • death

Experiencing these symptoms inside your home is very serious and requires further investigation by a professional. Here are some common tips to avoid furthering carbon monoxide invasion.

  • Have electrical and burning appliances inspected and serviced regularly
  • Never use portable generators with gas engines in an enclosed space
  • Never leave the car running in the garage (even with the door up)
  • Don’t use appliances for warming the inside of your home
  • Never use portable fuel or burning camping equipment inside your home or garage

Most importantly, buy and install a carbon monoxide detector. Most detectors will sound before the CO reaches a dangerous level, which will allow preventative measures to be taken. Having a carbon monoxide detector can literally save your life.

 

Three Ways to Improve the Performance of Your HVAC System

Louisville furnace That old saying that the chains only as strong as the weakest link holds true for the electrical equipment in your house also. If one system gets neglected or lacks routine maintenance, it will effect the way all your electrical systems work together. In order to keep your Kentuckiana HVAC system running smoothly, we have already learned that as a homeowner there are several things you can do to improve your HVAC’s efficiency, like regular service check-ups and filter changes.

There are also three things you as a homeowner can do behind the scenes to ensure a properly suited environment for running your system.

  • Check Your Ductwork Air -is it literally delivered through your house’s ductwork. It must be properly designed to work properly in your home. Check for areas in the ductwork that might allow for leaking or obvious gaps. A contractor can seal any area that causes your air, cold or hot, to leak out. For maximum efficiency, install ductwork that is better insulated and the load requirement to get the air to you will be significantly reduced. Less effort equals less energy and less cost.
  • Upgrade Insulation – If your ductwork or your home is not properly insulated, you will lose a portion of your conditioned air. Your HVAC generates air to be distributed where it is supposed to go, but poor insulation will disburse air where you don’t need it. To keep your air where you want it, give your insulation an overhaul and transfer your air efficiently into your home.
  • Seal Your Attic – Your venting system is critical to the overall health and performance of your HVAC system. It is critical to seal leaks that occur in the attic space that might allow hot or cool air outside to infiltrate your systems. These kinds of leaks can lead to extreme temperatures placed on the unit followed by spiking energy costs. Seal the attic to protect your system from added invaders taking over your ductwork and breaking down your system.

By monitoring these three simple areas, your HVAC system stands a much improved chance of running like a champ throughout the winter season.

How to Avoid Airflow Issues with Your Furnace

Louisville heating and coolingThe cold, brisk winter months are not the time to discover that your  HVAC has shut down or is struggling to work. You may find yourself shivering, layering up clothes, and trying to crank the heat up, all to no avail. Unusual odors may begin to fill the air and unfamiliar noises may sadly signal the fact that your furnace is in trouble. The general reason this happens is usually the same: neglect. Homeowners can neglect a variety of maintenance issues that eventually can lead to system failure.

The indoor unit of the furnace houses the air handler. Inside the air handler the blower, filter, coil, condensation pan, and ductwork extensions are held. Neglect can affect any of these major areas, but here are a few of the most common areas where neglect can cause problems.

  • Dirty Blower – Inside the air handler, dirt can build up and collect on the fan blades and the motor. The accumulated dirt causes friction, which leads to wear and tear on the motor and reduced efficiency. Cleaning the fan blades and motor drastically improves performance.
  • Full Filter- Filters are designed to protect the air handler from dirt and pollutants, but if the filters become overloaded with debris, they will create tremendous problems for the blower and coils. Filters must be changed regularly.
  • Dirty Coil – Inside your handler there is a cooling coil that absorbs heat from the inside of your home, but if it gets dirty, operating efficiency will decrease and there will be much less capacity for proper cooling.
  • Leaky Ducts – Ducts that are not properly connected or insulated allow conditioned air to leak out and become key contributors to poor airflow. Heat and air will continually escape before it reaches your living spaces.

If you want to keep your air toasty warm this winter and blowing in the right direction, let VanKleef Heating and Air Conditioning, Inc., your Kentuckiana heating company, service your furnace and keep your air warm inside.

Call VanKleef Heating and Air Conditioning, Inc @ (812)280-0510 for furnace repair in the Kentuckiana area.

Why MERV Ratings Matter

MERV Ratings and my air filterMERV is short for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. Every air filter has a rating like this that tells you how well it will filter the air passing through it. When you are comparing lower MERV rated filters to those of a higher rating the difference is clear. Literally, it is clear. If you can see your hand on the other side of a new filter do you think it is capturing most of the dust particles or very few? Very few is the correct answer. The higher MERV rated filters are often white in color and have the texture of fabric. They are engineered to still let air pass through efficiently, yet they capture much greater amounts of dust particles.

The higher the MERV rating will not necessarily require more frequent filter replacement. Most high MERVrated filters recommend they be replaced every 3-6 months in comparison to the lower MERV rated filters that recommend and average of 2-3 months between replacing. According to Nordic Pure, a air filter manufacturer,  MERV 12 rating represents the best balance between airborne particulate removal of dust, pollen, airborne pathogens, etc. and overall HVAC system efficiency. You do not have to go the high in MERV rating to enjoy good air quality. Read the chart on every filter you consider for information on what types of particles they are able to capture.

Here is the decision you will have to make, how important is the air quality in my home to me? Higher MERV rated filters work a whole lot better and they cost a little more. The lower MERV rated filters will cost less but will allow much more dust and other particles into your home. Here is a link with a MERV Chart that shows what particles get filtered at different MERV ratings. Take a look at it and call us with your questions regarding your air filter. We would be glad to make recommendations.

Cleaning or replacing your air conditioning filter at the recommended intervals ensures your air conditioning system is always operating at peak efficiency and delivering cleaner air. Typically filters should be washed or replaced every 1 to 3 months.

812-280-0510

VanKleef Heating and Air Conditioning, Inc.

What You and Your Technician Should be Doing to Keep Your Furnace in Check

Louisville heating and coolingThink of it like a relay. One runner hands the baton off to the other and together they finish the race. Although there are huge expectations of the first runner to come out of the gate on fire, all the runners are important. That’s basically the role you play with your heating and cooling professionals.

When you hire a professional to service your heating and cooling system, safety is the most important benefit you receive when a certified technician takes over. However, as a homeowner, your responsibilities to maintain your system will boost the results of a professional service.

Servicing your furnace this winter is extremely important. Without regular maintenance your heating components wear out sooner which leads to breakdowns or even system failure. This can be avoided with regular tune-ups.

When you schedule your next tune-up here are several things to make sure your technician evaluates.

  • Check the duct work for leaks and seal if necessary
  • Test the air flow through the heating system and ducts
  • Calibrate the thermostat
  • Clean burners
  • Check heat exchanger
  • Verify vent system safety
  • Check gas pressure
  • Test for correct refrigerant charge and heat pump leaks
  • Lubricate moving parts
  • Check system controls to make sure cooling mode is locked out during heating mode
  • Inspect motor belts and bearings
  • Check electrical terminals

Throughout the year, your job as a homeowner is to:

  • Change the air filter when it appears dingy or dirty
  • Keep debris away from the outdoor unit, ensuring proper air flow
  • Check that your indoor supply vents and return grills are unobstructed

If any of these areas get neglected, you risk system failure or even break down. The big difference is, with a cooling system the air just doesn’t cool. With a heating system or furnace, even if it is broken, it can continue to produce heat, even if the heat exchange is cracked or the flue is broken, still allowing deadly carbon monoxide fumes to enter your home.

Keeping the proper relay team in place working together, you can be very confident in extending the life of your heating and cooling system, achieving peak comfort and ensuring safe operation of your  furnace this winter.

Electrical Mistakes That Cost You Money

Louisville HVACIt’s wintertime in Kentuckiana and that means higher heating bills for most of us. Our HVAC units are working overtime and it might feel like you’re just throwing money out the window when the utility bill arrives each month.

We can all stand to save a little money here and there, and that may be possible by making a few simple changes. There are many things we can do inside the house to save money on electricity. Most of them are simple practices that just require discipline and a little effort. Here are the most important.

  1. Running Ceiling Fans – This is the number one offender of wasting electricity. Ceiling fans use an incredible amount of electricity and most of the time they are kept running non-stop even when nobody is in the room. The solution is simple. Flip the switch. Turn off the fan when you leave the room or invest in a timer that is programmable.
  2. TV watching – Even though a television gives off a more evident signal of being in use, televisions are still regularly left on when not being watched. Usually, multiple televisions are running at once and not being watched. The second biggest waste of energy is televisions running endlessly. When not being watched, they should be turned off and for ultimate conservation, put on a power strip. When not in use televisions still use energy, so place them on a power strip and turn that off when not in use.
  3. Lights – This is common sense, but not common practice. Lights inside and outside the house are left on when not necessary causing needless energy use and expense. For optimal usage put lights on a motion sensor or a timer.
  4. HVAC and Bathroom Fans – Never leave a bathroom fan running for more than 30 minutes, it’s not necessary. Also in the fan department, check your thermostat setting and make sure it is set on “auto” not “on” or your HVAC will run continuously.
  5. Light Bulbs – Lots of debate still lingers over which light bulbs to use, but CFL and LED bulbs are much more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs. The prices are coming down and the quality continues to go up, so make the switch. It will pay off.

Keep your energy costs under control this winter by making a habit of turning off unused appliances, lights, and fans.

Call VanKleef Heating and Air Conditioning  (812) 280-0510 for all your furnace repair in Southern Indiana and Louisville, KY.

How to Extend the Life Span of Your HVAC System

Louisville HVACThe homeowner’s manual for giving your HVAC system a longer life is a short one. It can actually be summed up in just one word: maintenance. That’s the secret. Maintain your equipment by monitoring its performance and scheduling routine check-ups by a HVAC technician.

As a homeowner, your job is to create an environment that is conducive to extending the life of your system. A large part of that responsibility includes scheduling regular tune-ups from your local HVAC company. These tune-ups are critical in detecting potential problems and repairing existing ones. Your check-up takes care of three critical areas of maintenance.

Dirt Build Up – Your technician will remove dirt build up from the heat pump, furnace or central air. Any dirt build up leads to serious problems. Dirt on the coils slows down heat transfer and the unit’s ability to heat, cool and dehumidify. Dirt on the fan blades will create an imbalance and poor air delivery. All of these issues will cause increased energy consumption and higher utility bills.

Replacement –Worn parts can be replaced before wear and tear causes a complete break down. Technicians are trained to detect worn belts, low lubrication and rapid deterioration. Replacing worn components wards off system failure and ensures efficient system operation.

Air Filters-  Although some homeowners take care of air filter replacement routinely, a service visit can also ensure that the filters are clean and that the rest of the equipment is protected from airborne dirt. Scheduled preventative maintenance keeps you ahead of the game.

By maintaining your HVAC regularly you will energize your system and possibly extend its life span. According to a report by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development given by manufacturers and industry experts, with good maintenance, you should expect the following from your system:

  • Central Air 15 years
  • Furnace 18 years
  • Air Source Heat Pump 15 years

For a small investment, you can receive a huge return.
Invest the time to schedule your regular tune-up from your local HVAC company.

Call VanKleef Heating and Air Conditioning (812) 280-0510 for your furnace maintenance and repair. We serve the Southern Indiana and surrounding counties, and including Greater Louisville .

What is the Difference in Filters?

Louisville HVACYou have heard us talk a lot about the benefits of changing your filter frequently. Changing your filter out at recommended times helps your system run more efficiently and helps with the overall air quality in your home. You have probably  went to the store and seen the same filter sizes at different prices.  If you have been indecisive about which filter to buy, this may help you to decide.

According to the EPA (Environmental Protective Agency), Guide to Air Cleaners in the Home article (https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/guide-air-cleaners-home) April 3, 2017:

Flat or panel air filters with a MERV of 1 to 4 are commonly used in residential furnaces and air conditioners. For the most part, such filters are used to protect the HVAC equipment from the buildup of unwanted materials on the surfaces such as fan motors and heating or cooling coils, and not for direct indoor air quality reasons. They have low efficiency on smaller airborne particles and medium efficiency on larger particles, as long as they remain airborne and pass through the filter.

​Some smaller particles found within a house include:

  • viruses
  • bacteria
  • some mold spores
  • a significant fraction of cat and dog allergens
  • a small portion of dust mite allergens
  • Pleated or extended surface filters
    • Medium efficiency filters with a MERV of 5 to 13 are reasonably efficient at removing small to large airborne particles. Filters with a MERV between 7 and 13 are likely to be nearly as effective as true HEPA filters at controlling most airborne indoor particles. Medium efficiency air filters are generally less expensive than HEPA filters, and allow quieter HVAC fan operation and higher airflow rates than HEPA filters since they have less airflow resistance.
    • Higher efficiency filters with a MERV of 14 to 16, sometimes misidentified as HEPA filters, are similar in appearance to true HEPA filters, which have MERV values of 17 to 20. True HEPA filters are normally not installed in residential HVAC systems; installation of a HEPA filter in an existing HVAC system would probably require professional modification of the system. A typical residential air handling unit and the associated ductwork would not be able to accommodate such filters because of their physical dimensions and increase in airflow resistance.
    • Filters with a MERV between 7 and 13 are likely to be nearly as effective as true HEPA filters.
    • (https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/guide-air-cleaners-home) April 3, 2017

 

(HEPA is short for High Efficiency Particulate Air (filter). Simply stated, a HEPA  filter gets more particulates out of the air than your standard air filter. )

Airborne particles smaller than 1 micrometer can, fall slowly, and take days to years to settle out of a quiet atmosphere. In a turbulent atmosphere, they may never settle out, and include viruses, small bacteria, metallurgical fumes, soot, oil smoke, tobacco smoke, clay, and fumes. See the list of airborne particulates online at the Engineering Tool Box.

What about the cost? Higher efficiency filters for the home usually run between $25-$35. They may help increase your overall health, especially if you deal with respiratory issues or have allergies year round. Even if you deal with allergies on a seasonal basis, you may want to switch your traditional filter out to a Higher efficiency filter for those troublesome months you typically have allergy problems. There are a whole host of products that will improve the overall air quality of your home. If you would like more information, call us or schedule an appointment for us to sit down with you and share about YORK™s line of air filtration systems. 812-280-0510

Fun Fact
-A micron is 1 millionth of a meter [link http://www.hepafilter-pro.com/Filter_Ratings.php] , or about 0.00003937 inches, which means there are 25,400 microns in an inch. This dot (.) on your computer screen is about 615 microns.

Keeping your Southern Indiana/Louisville Heating and Cooling Costs Down: How to Choose Insulation

Louisville heating and coolingYou would never consider going outside in the dead of winter in just a simple light-weight jacket. Instead, you pile on the layers to keep warm: coat, scarf, hat, gloves, several shirts, and boots. The same theory holds true for your home. If you want to keep your Louisville heating and cooling costs down, your home needs the proper protection against the elements.

Choosing the right insulation affects many aspects of your home including curb appeal, resale value, and the quality of the master bathroom shower. Most importantly, the proper insulation affects long-term efficiency and energy costs. If your home is not properly insulated, heat will escape and gravitate to colder areas like the basement and the attic. If you have cracks or leaks in any of these areas, the heat will find them and make a quick exit, leaving your home shivering cold.

If your home is struggle to keep warm, it may be time to check into re-insulating, especially in the attic area, which is the most heavily insulated area in your home. Insulation is measured in terms of resistance to heat flow, or an “R” value. Attics generally require an R35-45 rating for proper protection.

In the past, fiberglass insulated rolls were the only way to insulate. Today, there are many options including spray foam, foil-faced reflective paper, polyethylene bubbles and straw core panels. New construction is now made with concrete forms in which the insulation is built right in to the home’s structure. But if you aren’t building a new home, the best form of insulation for remodeling is the spray foam method. This version provides the maximum energy efficiency.

When selecting the insulation that’s right for your home, evaluate the appropriate R-value for your home’s needs. A home in Montana has different needs than a home in Florida. Take into consideration:

  • The age of your home
  • The structure make up of your home
  • The location of your home

Although the needs are different, the goals of insulating are the same: to effectively resist the flow of hot and cold air. Protect your home against old man winter this season by bundling up with an extra layer of warmth.