Changing the Air Filter Regularly Protects Your HVAC System and IAQ

changing the air filterChanging the air filter in your HVAC system is one chore that's easy to neglect. Learning the impact a clean filter has on your living environment and costly HVAC equipment can help you understand why it's vital to make monthly checks and regular filter changes a part of your routine.
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Have these Things Happened to You? Consider Professional Duct Cleaning

Do you need a professional duct cleaning? Many homeowners do not think about their ductwork. It is just there, doing its job of delivering conditioned air to living spaces. However, there are certain circumstances where having the ductwork cleaned is a good idea. If you have experienced any of the following situations, you may want to invest in professional duct cleaning.
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If Your Furnace or Ducts Are Going Bang, Bang, Bangity, Bang, You Could Have a Problem

furnace noisesBang. Bang. That's a noise that homeowners don't expect to come from the ductwork or furnace. When it happens, it can be startling and worrisome. Is something wrong with the furnace? Is something loose in the ducts? There may be no issue to worry about, however, in some cases, this unexpected furnace noise and duct noise can be a sign of trouble.

Causes of Banging or Popping in  Ductwork

Many residential ducts are rectangular in shape and made from metal. When the heating or cooling system comes on, there's an expected buildup in pressure within the ducts. The expanding pressure can cause the long sides of the rectangle to expand as the air is flowing. This can cause an initial popping or banging noise.

Once the air stops flowing, the pressure goes down. As the long sides of the rectangle contract with the reduction in pressure, the metal ductwork can react with a second popping or banging sound.

This kind of banging sound isn't a sign of trouble in most cases. It's just a sign that the ductwork is expanding and contracting with pressure changes.

Newer systems that have a layer of rigid insulation on the outside may not have this issue. An older system may not make this sound due to a buildup of dust on the inside of the ductwork. With older systems, it most often shows up after a good duct cleaning removes the sound insulation from the inside of the ducts. All of a sudden there's a banging sound that was never there before.

When Banging Ducts Signal Trouble

Now, there are a few cases when that duct noise is a sign of trouble. If you also hear a whistling sound, you may have a problem. This may be a sign that your duct covers aren't properly sized. Have a heating professional inspect the covers and make sure they're sized correctly. If they're not, replace them and the whistling should stop.

In some cases, however, the whistling may just be a sign the system is working at peak efficiency. It's a situation best judged by a trained heating professional.

Can Banging Be a Sign of Something Else?

If your furnace is fueled by oil or gas, a delayed ignition within the furnace may be causing unexpected furnace noise. Inside the furnace are a series of burners that ignite the oil or gas and generate heat. Older burners can rust or get clogged by debris. When the thermostat signals for heat, the burner's valves turn on and start emitting fuel.

In a healthy system, ignition would be instantaneous. With a clogged burner, however, ignition can be delayed. The fuel has to build up to a certain level before ignition happens. Once it happens, the built-up fuel will ignite with a sudden bang.

This kind of ignition isn't normal. It can be dangerous for anyone standing close. It can cause a fire if the fuel happened to escape the ignition chamber. Over time, this kind of ignition sequence can cause damage to the system's heat exchanger. If you suspect that the burners are clogged, you need to fix the situation as soon as possible.

The solution to this problem is to have a professional come out to inspect and clean the burners. If you have an annual inspection of your home's heating and cooling system, make sure the technician inspects the burners as part of the service.

If you have any furnace noise or duct noise that you can't identify, call in the heating and cooling professionals  at Thermacon Service Company. We provide air conditioning, heating and refrigeration services in Beaumont, Orange, and Port Arthur, Texas, as well as surrounding areas.

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Breaking Bad: What Can Void an HVAC Warranty

HVAC system warrantyMost HVAC systems come with a manufacturer's warranty and, possibly, a warranty on the installation. Unfortunately, you can void this warranty. To ensure you're fully protected, consider what can void an HVAC system's warranty and how to avoid these problems.

Problems Caused by You

As much as you'd hate to think it, you can cause problems that void your manufacturer's warranty. For example, one of the easiest ways to void your warranty is to fail to register it. Registering it is simple and takes just a few moments of your time. Remember to register within the deadline, too, so you can ensure you're protected when you need it the most.

Failing to perform annual maintenance is another common problem. An annual maintenance check from a qualified HVAC professional will help you catch problems before they develop into costly repairs. It'll also ensure you fix your leaks and replace your air filters so the system runs at its best, which will help you save money on your heating bill.

Problems Caused by Others

Actions others take with your HVAC system can also void the warranty. For example, if you hire a service technician and he or she doesn't use parts from the manufacturer, then the warranty may be void. If you purchase a unit and don't have it installed by a licensed HVAC contractor, and problems arise as a result, the warranty may be void as well.

So what can void an HVAC system warranty? Tampering with the unit or failing to install or care for it properly is almost always grounds for a voided warranty.

You can avoid these problems in your Beaumont or Orange area home by trusting the team at Thermacon Service Company. Contact us today for qualified HVAC services and repairs to keep your warranty in place and your unit protected.

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The Interdependent Systems in Your Energy-Efficient Home

energy-efficient homeAchieving an energy-efficient home involves looking at all the factors that account for its conditioning load. Homes that have adequate insulation, good windows, and low levels of air infiltration need less conditioning resulting in lower energy bills. Making home improvements that lower energy bills will keep more money in your pocket, while creating a more comfortable home.

Insulation

The amount of insulation in the attic and walls will make a big difference in the rate of heat transfer in your home. The DOE recommends that homes in our region have at least 10 inches in the attic to deter heat transfer. Batt and blown-in are affordable products and start working immediately. If you install your own, be sure you don't block the vents in the attic.

Windows

Unless you have upgraded thermal or Energy Star windows, they can be a source of tremendous energy gain or losses. In our region, the sunshine in the summer can add substantial heat to a room. Shade screens can block up to 90 percent of the UV light and heat entering through windows the sun hits. Reflective window film also works well, and will even keep your home warmer during the winter since the film blocks heat transfer.

Air Infiltration

Sealing the air leaks in your home's envelope and ductwork contribute a great deal to creating an energy-efficient home. It's possible to find the air leaks around windows and exterior door frames by visually examining them. Professional energy auditors and HVAC contractors can also conduct a blower door test that finds all the air leaks in your home and measures the amount of infiltration.

Duct leaks can be harder to diagnose unless the ducts are easy to access. HVAC professionals use special equipment to test the ducts and have the tools to permanently seal them. Ductwork leaks can happen at any time and will increase conditioning costs and lower indoor air quality.

To learn more about achieving an energy-efficient home, contact the experts at Thermacon Service Company. We provide outstanding HVAC services for the Beaumont, Vidor, Port Arthur and Orange areas.


Why and How Humidity Impacts Homes - Everything You Need to Know

HumidityEven when it’s warm and humid outside, it doesn’t have to be terribly sticky and uncomfortable inside your home. By understanding the conditions which relate to and affect humidity levels, you can make your home more comfortable and take a load off the A/C system.

Home Humidity

The long cooling season in our region can really tax the energy budget with high cooling bills. The air conditioner can drone on for hours, yet the home may not reach a desirable comfort level. Humidity levels play a large role in the discomfort and stickiness you feel in your home, and the A/C’s inability to keep up.

The relative humidity level is affected by the temperature of the air. Warmer air is less dense than cooler air. Therefore, warmer air can hold more moisture than cooler air. As warmer air from outside the home is cooled by the A/C, the air condenses, which means it can’t hold as much moisture. So, the freshly cooled air in your home is now even more humid.

The comfort paradox that humidity creates works the opposite during the heating months. As cool outside air is warmed inside your home by the heat pump or furnace, the air expands, allowing it to hold more moisture. At the same time, the expanding warmer air feels very dry, which can exacerbate comfort and health issues.

Why Managing Humidity Is Important

Properly managing home humidity is important for comfort, which is obvious, but it's also vital for the health of occupants, keeping energy bills in check and the integrity of home structure, possessions and any porous objects in the home. Here’s why:

  • Comfort - Overly humid air causes fatigue, affects comfort and mood, and it can be difficult to get a good night’s rest.
  • Health - High indoor humidity is certainly uncomfortable, but it can also be unhealthy. Mold and mildew are always an issue, which affects indoor air quality and exacerbates respiratory ailments. Common allergens, such as dust mites, thrive in humid conditions, and high home humidity creates an atmosphere welcoming to bacteria and germs.
  • Home - The porous wood structure and materials of home, furnishings and belongings absorb moisture from the air. You may notice doors are more difficult to close during the cooling months because they've swelled from absorbing moisture. Mold and mildew can form on and inside walls and other areas, which can be expensive to remedy.
  • Energy bills - It's difficult to stay comfortable when indoor humidity is high. This may prompt running the A/C more frequently, which contributes to higher energy bills.

Steps to Take

The annual average relative humidity in our region is around 80 percent—about 30 percent above the ideal levels of 35 to 50 percent. Lifestyle modifications, mechanical means and home efficiency upgrades are necessary to effectively manage the high home humidity in our area. Here’s some comforting tips:

  • Lifestyle - Household activities, such as cooking, cleaning and bathing, create heat and moisture. Try to do these activities in the late evening or early morning hours when humidity is high. Use ceiling fans daily. A ceiling fan can make a room feel about four degrees cooler with the wind chill effect. During the heating months, reverse the direction of the fan so that air is pulled up toward the ceiling.
  • Lighting - Replace incandescent lighting with CFLs and LEDs. Energy-saving bulbs produce substantially less heat, and save 25 to 80 percent lighting costs.
  • Air sealing and insulation - Seal air leaks around windows, doors, attic door, attached garages and your home’s exterior. Stopping air leakage is important to stabilizing indoor humidity, temperature and energy bills. When you plug air leaks, you stop air and moisture movement from outside and inside your home, making it easier to manage humidity.Make sure the attic and walls are well insulated. Insulation is more readily identified with colder regions, but ample insulation is important to keep you cool air conditioned air inside your home.
  • Whole-house dehumidifier - Batting cleanup is the whole-house dehumidifier, which attaches to the air ducts. It effectively removes moisture from ducted airflow and distributes optimally humidified air throughout the home. Dehumidifiers also ease the burden on the A/C system, which reduces cooling bills. Operation is easy, too. Just set the humidistat to the humidity level you desire, and everything works automatically.

Home humidity is manageable with the right strategy. For more information, please contact Thermacon Service Company. We serve homeowners in Beaumont, Port Arthur, Orange, Vidor and the surrounding areas.