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Your HVAC Maintenance Checklist

It’s critical to take care of HVAC maintenance before the cold season so that your home is prepared for chilly, sweater weather. The importance of prevention really can’t be emphasized enough. Ideally, this home maintenance should be done on a regular basis to cut back on the need for expensive HVAC repairs in the future. It’s also important for your comfort and health!

In this blog post we’re going to share with you some things you need to keep an eye on when it comes to HVAC maintenance, as well as how a specialist can help.

Essential HVAC Maintenance

Even if your heating and cooling systems seem to be working just fine, they may not be as efficient as they could be. A yearly tune-up will ensure that your heating and cooling systems are working at their optimal efficiency levels; this can help you save money on your monthly electric bill too. A professional HVAC tune-up will also identify any issues with things like airflow or faulty parts.

Is Your Heater Ready?

The first step to making sure your home is comfortable during the coming cold season is to make sure your heating system is running effectively. This, of course, requires routine HVAC maintenance, like making sure the blower motor is working right.

If you have a gas furnace, the exhaust flue needs to be checked to verify that it’s clear as well. This is because carbon monoxide is a serious threat to our homes, but an HVAC specialist can help keep your household safe. If the exhaust flue becomes blocked, carbon monoxide can build up inside your house.

What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a deadly gas that is colorless and odorless. It’s created by the burning of fuel, such as leaving a car idling in a garage. It’s so dangerous to breathe in CO because it actually displaces oxygen in your blood. This can cause both short-term and long-term health effects, and even result in death.

Replace Air Filters

Air filters are typically replaced every three months (90 days), or as recommended by the manufacturer. A dirty filter that’s full of trapped dust and allergens obviously won’t be as efficient, and can actually increase your monthly energy costs. It’s also not great for your health, so be sure to change air filters regularly to remove dust, pollen, pet dander, and other allergens from the air that circulates through your home.

Clean AC Condenser Coils

Do you have an air conditioner? Have your AC condenser coils cleaned at least once a year. Dirty, clogged coils can decrease the efficiency of your HVAC system and lead to expensive AC repair work. Also, be sure to remove debris around an outdoor air conditioning unit, such as grass clippings or leaves that accumulate during yardwork.

Flush Your Water Heater

How do you know if your water heat needs to be flushed? In general, it’s a good idea to have this done once a year by a professional who provides HVAC maintenance. This will help make sure there are no sediment blockages in hoses or fittings that can lead to frustrating issues. There are some common signs to watch out for, including a lack of hot water, strange smells, and even rusty-looking water.

Check Hoses for Cracks or Leaks

An HVAC expert will also check hoses for cracks or leaks. If they’re damaged, they will need to be replaced with hoses that match the original equipment and specifications. This is essential because it can help prevent extensive damage in the long run. An HVAC expert should check all hoses to ensure they’re in good working order.

Swap Out Old Thermostat Batteries

A simple thing you can do on your own is check the batteries in your thermostat to make sure they’re still working properly. It’s usually not too tricky to swap them out for a fresh pair if it’s needed. But if your thermostat is not working properly or is showing signs of wear and tear, replacing the batteries may not fix the problem. If it’s still not functioning properly even after new batteries have been installed, then a professional can check the controls.

Inspect for Leaks with Gas Furnaces

If you have a gas furnace, you will also need an expert to inspect the entire system for any possible gas leaks. As mentioned above, this is one of the most important steps you need to take as a homeowner to protect your household.

Check for Faulty Fans

Faulty fans can act up in different ways, like continuing to circulate air at high speeds. This can really cause unnecessary wear and tear on some HVAC parts. Humming or rattling are a strong indication that your AC fan motor needs to be replaced or repaired.

Examine Ductwork and Vents

This is also the best time to have ductwork and vents examined. These parts need to be in good shape for your HVAC system to function at its best. Did you know that dirty ducts can harm the air quality of your home? It pays to remove the buildup and grime that accumulates over time. It’s also possible for air ducts to leak if they become loose or disconnected. In some cases, wild animals have even been known to build nests inside ductwork, which can cause issues as well.

Schedule HVAC Maintenance Today

It’s important to be proactive when it comes to the HVAC maintenance in your home. Keep in mind that a problem is much easier and (usually) cheaper to fix before disaster strikes, so schedule an annual HVAC tune-up to make sure you’re getting the most out of your system!

These tasks will help keep your living space as comfortable as possible during both the cold winter months and the hottest summer days! Preventative measures can also save you the hassle of needing an emergency HVAC repair or replacement that could cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Let’s Talk

Here at Palo Alto Plumbing, our team can solve anything from a drippy faucet to a cracked sewer pipe, and also take care of all your HVAC needs. Our friendly and knowledgeable staff will ensure your household’s health and safety by providing quality services.

Contact us at 650-405-1460 or fill out a contact form to chat with us today.

The Benefits of Working With Bryant® Factory-Authorized Dealers

We here at Palo Alto are proud of our designation as a Bryant® Factory-Authorized Dealer. Not only do we offer some of the best heating and cooling systems in the country, our team of certified plumbers and HVAC technicians are also dedicated to doing whatever it takes to provide exceptional customer service. Here’s an overview of the benefits of working with Bryant Factory-Authorized Dealers.

Will High-Efficiency Filters or High-MERV Filters Harm My HVAC System?

High-efficiency and high-MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) rating filters seem beneficial because they filter out very small particulates, such as pollen, dander, and other allergens. Yet these types of filters have some negative consequences too. Here are some benefits and drawbacks of high-efficiency and high-MERV rating filters.

The Role of the Filter in HVAC

The primary purpose of a heating and air conditioning filter is to prevent dust and debris from clogging the unit. Many homeowners also purchase filters for their air quality enhancing properties, making them a must-have purchase for allergy sufferers. High-efficiency or high-MERV rating filters may capture more particulates, but their construction may not benefit the HVAC system. Filtering smaller particulates may lead to decreased airflow.

Do These Filters Harm HVAC Systems?

Most systems use either PSC (permanent split capacitor) or ECM (electronically commutated motors) technology. PSC motors have two settings: “on” and “off.” ECM motors are variable speed motors that adjust according to the needs of the environment and thermostat.

In most cases, high-efficiency filters (i.e., restrictive filters) won’t harm HVAC equipment, but they don’t offer as many benefits as a homeowner might believe. A PSC motor can only provide a certain level of air output, regardless of filter conditions. If the filter is too restrictive or too dirty, it will slightly reduce airflow through the system and into the home. An ECM motor, on the other hand, always tries to compensate for differences between its running capacity and the home environment. A dirty or restrictive filter may cause an ECM motor to use more energy to force more air through the system. Instead of saving energy, this type of reaction can significantly reduce HVAC efficiency.

How Different MERV Ratings Affect HVAC Systems

Some of the most common MERV ratings for high-efficiency filters range from 8-14. The higher the MERV rating, the more a filter can capture. Some filters may even capture certain viruses. Most systems expect a pressure drop of up to 0.5 inches, but high-MERV rating filters may cause a pressure drop higher than 0.18 inches, rendering the system even more inefficient.

To account for these pressure-related differences, talk to a professional HVAC technician about compensating for a high-efficiency or high-MERV filter. A trained professional can recommend accommodations to offset the airflow and pressure consequences of a high-efficiency filter and to keep the heating and air conditioning system running efficiently over time.

Choosing an Air Filter

The next time you purchase an air filter at a big box store or online, take a moment to look at the specifications. Look for the MERV rating and any information about air flow speeds. A thicker filter may not always provide better filtration results. A high industry rating, such as a MERV rating, may not always tell the entire story.

If you have any questions about what filter will improve efficiency, contact Palo Alto Plumbing for a recommendation.

 

Carbon Monoxide: What You Don’t Know is Putting Your Family at Risk

“It started as a nagging headache,” Diane said. “And then it became worse before turning into a horror show.”

It was around 9 pm on a cold December night and both of them were sitting in front of their fireplace, decompressing from the hard day’s work. The baby June was in her crib. Suddenly, Liam, Diane’s husband, became sick – headache, vomiting, the works. That made Diane concerned for her husband’s health but she chalked it up to the bug that was going around the neighborhood. “Must be the flu.”

Two hours later, Diane felt her heart thudding in her chest, wanting to come out. She became nauseous and lightheaded, and her whole body went cold. She panicked and rushed to “Google” the symptoms – finding it just might be Carbon Monoxide poisoning. She called 911 after finding out that they were indeed being poisoned by the stealthiest killer: Carbon Monoxide.

Her family was saved thanks to Diane’s quick reaction and pure timing but, everyone is not so lucky.

What is Carbon Monoxide?

CO is a colorless, tasteless, and odorless gas. That means between 1999 to 2010 most of the 5,149 Americans that ended up in graves because of non-fire-related Carbon Monoxide poisoning had no idea what hit them. No bad odor, no horrible taste, nothing – except for the untimely death.

Although, like all accidents you can minimize the chances of dying from CO, most people avoid taking the right precautionary measures until it happens to them. When, unfortunately, it is already too late. And the damage is done.

CO is produced any time you burn fossil fuels like in cars, trucks, fireplaces, and good old furnaces. Everyone is at risk regardless of gender or age, but children and elderly and those with preexisting diseases of heart or lungs are at higher risk of developing complications such as permanent brain damage, life-threatening heart complications, and death.

How Does Carbon Monoxide Affect Our Health?

Once inhaled, it goes into the blood stream and displaces oxygen from hemoglobin, that results in a deficiency of oxygen which leads to hypoxia and eventually death.
The symptoms of CO are non-specific and often don’t tell anything by themselves. Most common symptoms include altered mental status, headache, nausea, weakness and chest pain.

Fortunately, science has made it really easy to prevent against CO exposure. Take steps to prevent accidental exposure to Carbon Monoxide. Because it is real. And it kills.

How to Avoid Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Here are just a few ways that you can avoid carbon monoxide poisoning:

1. Install and maintain a CO detector: This is the single most important thing you can do to protect your family against the possibility of Carbon Monoxide poisoning. Make sure to buy a battery operated detector with a loud enough alarm to wake you up. But that’s not all, replace the battery every year and change the detector once every 5 years.

2. Don’t use portable gas camp stoves indoors. Small appliances like these also contribute to the buildup of Carbon Monoxide and when indoors, the harmful gasses can’t escape and your family can’t escape from them. Get rid of them folks.

3. Get your gas appliances checked by an expert. Make sure that they are working correctly and all the stuff that is supposed to be inside is staying inside and not spilling out to kill you when you’re asleep.

4. Never ignore any unusual odor coming from your refrigerator. CO itself has no odor, but in this case, other gasses mixed with CO have a particular odor that might give it away.

5. Clean your chimney. Debris can clog up your chimney real bad. So, now all the gasses would accumulate inside your living room instead of escaping through the chimney. Get your chimney cleaned before it cleans you.

6. Be smart. Don’t burn charcoal indoors, use generators inside of your home or basement, or patch a vent pipe with chewing gum. We’ve seen it all and it’s always dangerous.

One last thing, if you ever suspect that you or a family member has been exposed to Carbon Monoxide, immediately evacuate the house and call 911. Learn more about how to maintain healthy air quality in your home and to have your HVAC system checked for safety, and contact us to schedule an inspection with us today!

10 Benefits of Living in Your Ideal Home Temperature

 

We all love a comfortable, secure, stylish home with just the right amount of heat or cold, be it a modest house or a lavish mansion. What constitutes comfort, security, and style varies from person to person and so does the perfect temperature. Below, we will discuss what the ideal room temperature is and the benefits of cooler and hotter home temperatures.

What is The Ideal Room Temperature?

Unfortunately, there is no exact answer to this question. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends 18C/64F for healthy individuals, 16C/60.5F for those with respiratory problems, and a minimum of 20C/68F for the very young, sick or aged.

When looking for your perfect thermostat setting, it might be a good idea to consider the following benefits of warm versus cold houses, noting of course, that this does not include extreme temperatures.

5 Benefits of a Warm House

Here are some of the benefits of making your home environment warmer:

1. Makes You Physically Active

A warm house makes you want to be up and about. You are more likely to think about dusting the book shelf and finishing the DIY project you started last summer, rather than cuddling on the couch.

2. Good for Your Memory
The reasoning is simple, with increased blood flow to your head and vital organs, you will be more alert and able to more easily remember things.

3. Reduced Respiratory and Allergic Conditions
Respiratory and allergic conditions are notoriously stubborn, and the last thing you need is a cold house to send you looking for your anti-allergy pills.

4. Heart and Lungs
Due to the need to keep your body at an optimum temperature, your heart and lungs have to work harder in cold surroundings to ensure this goal is achieved. Too much of this for too long could result in higher blood pressure and associated conditions.

5. Makes it Easier for Some to Sleep
It’s last on the list because it may boil down to your preferred bedroom thermostat settings and your sleeping habits. Some love to be under a duvet, while others love sleeping with their t-shirts only.

5 Benefits of a Cold Home

And if you love it when your house has a cold, slightly chilly ambience, you are not alone. Here are the benefits of living in a cooler environment:

1. Burns Calories

This is the realm of cutting-edge science, but it turns out that cold conditions tend to cause certain types of bodily fat to be combusted to keep us warm. Weight-watchers will love it.

2. Disease-Carrying Bugs Hate Cold Conditions
Disease causing insects such as mosquitoes and cockroaches find it inhospitable to be in cold surroundings. This helps keep your family safe and healthy.

3. Reduces Inflammation and Boosts Muscle Recovery
Ever wondered why ice is applied on swollen surfaces? Or why athletes immerse themselves in icy-water? Cold conditions tend to reduce inflammation of muscles and promote muscular recovery.

4. Promotes Better and Longer Sleep

When you lay down to go to sleep, the temperature of your body naturally cools off. Cold temperatures can help you cool down faster, leading to higher quality and long-lasting sleep.

5. Closer Together
One happy family. When it’s colder, we tend to huddle closer like all members of the animal kingdom, the only difference is we would probably be around the kitchen table or in the TV room.

Whether you like it warmer or cooler, it is important that you keep your HVAC system well-maintained so that it can keep you comfortable year-round. If you need help achieving ultimate home comfort, give us a call today.