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Home Safety Tips for the Holiday Season

By on Nov 9, 2018 in Cleveland, Heating, Residential |

The holidays are just about here! Although many of us will immediately think about delicious food, family gatherings and gift giving for the little ones, it’s smart to take a step back and make sure your home is a safe place to celebrate. While many of these tips are common sense, they can be easy to forget because life is so busy or we are in a rush. Spend a few hours this month making sure your home is ready to welcome guests. Furnace and Heating Equipment Tips   1. Get your furnace serviced and/or repaired by a professional. Don’t attempt to make repairs yourself. 2. If you are using space heaters, plug them directly into the wall. Don’t use extension cords with them. Now is a good time to inspect the cord for any damage. 3. Never hang fabric or decorations near your space heaters, radiators or other heat sources. Make sure you leave plenty of space around the heat source. 4. In case of a power outage, never use your oven to heat your home. Holiday Decorating Tips   1. Keep open flames from candles at least three feet from anything flammable. 2. If you plan to use your wood burning fireplace for the ambiance, make sure your chimney has been serviced and you’re given the “okay” to use it. Make sure you use a sturdy screen to prevent sparks from flying into the room. 3. If you display a live tree, make sure to keep it watered regularly. 4. Do not overload your electrical circuits or extension cords. Typically, three strings of lights is the maximum amount you can string together. Inspect the wires before you decorate as well. 5. Use caution when decorating elevated sections of your home. Always use a sturdy ladder and have a spotter on the ground.   General Safety Tips   1. Make sure that vents for your dryer, furnace, stove and fireplace are clear of snow, paying extra attention during and after a heavy snow. 2. Gas and charcoal grills should only be used outside. They can produce carbon monoxide, so don’t use them in your garage. As you can see, some of these tips are very easy to implement...

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Is it Time to Replace My Steam Boiler?

By on Oct 22, 2018 in Boilers |

Just like a furnace, in some homes, steam boilers are used to provide heat and comfort throughout the cold months. And, just like an HVAC system, annual maintenance can help keep steam boilers working effectively and efficiently when they’re needed most. However, there may come a time when you’re wondering if it makes sense to replace the boiler altogether. 5 Signs Your Boiler Needs Replacing Simply being aware of the common signs it’s time to replace your boiler can not only keep you and your family comfortable in the winter, but it can also save you some money on your monthly energy bills. Here are five common signs you should consider steam boiler replacement: Your energy bills have been steadily on the rise. If you’ve noticing lately that your energy bills are getting higher and higher every month, this could be due the costs associated with the efficiency of your boiler. Maybe you’ve had it serviced regularly, but it’s still not working as well as it should and costing you more money as time goes on. This is a clear sign you should consider replacing it for a newer, more efficient model. The steam boiler is starting to look worse for the wear. Do a visual inspection of the boiler. Do you notice rust spots and discoloration? You might even notice some of the operating controls and safety devices are becoming faulty. The boiler is getting up there in years. The age of the steam boiler is one of the most important things to consider in regards to replacing it. Different types of boilers have different life expectancies. For instance, cast iron boilers can last around 20 to 30 years with proper maintenance, although it’s important to remember that the older the boiler, the less efficient it generally becomes. Today’s modern cast iron boilers are often far more efficient than those that are over 20 years old. You’re noticing some leaks. When visually inspecting the boiler, check for any signs that leaks are present. Rust colored stains on the floor under the discharge piping, for instance, can indicate excessive feedwater is causing a leak. This can easily lead to damage in your home, and replacing the boiler in this...

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4 Ways Smart Thermostats Improve Energy Efficiency

By on Oct 8, 2018 in Thermostats |

The cooler weather is well on its way to northeast Ohio, and this means people all across the region will find themselves cranking up the heat in their homes sooner rather than later. As you know, the more your furnace needs to run to get rid of that chill in the air, the higher your monthly energy bills get. However, what if there was something you could do to ensure your furnace is running as efficiently as possible? Lowering Your Energy Bills with a Smart Thermostat Most homes these days already utilize a programmable thermostat, which allows you to set specific times throughout the day for your furnace to run. If no one is home between eight in the morning and five in the evening, it doesn’t make sense for your system to kick on and heat up an empty home. Programmable thermostats ensure the heat turns on at the most important times of the day, such as in the morning before your shower and in the evening when you get home from work. However, smart thermostats actually take things a step further. A smart thermostat is basically a digital thermostat that learns your daily routines using analytics. They can also be accessed remotely via a smartphone, tablet or computer. For instance, if you’re always adjusting the thermostat before you go to bed at night, the smart thermostat learns this behavior. Or, if you get stuck in traffic after work one day, you can use your smartphone to remotely access the thermostat so the furnace doesn’t go on unnecessarily. Here are a few specific ways smart thermostats can help improve the energy efficiency of your home: Monitoring your energy use preferences. Smart thermostats learn how often you’re turning the heat up and down in your home, and are able to fine-tune the settings for optimal energy efficiency. In other words, even if you think you’ve discovered the perfect temperature, the smart thermostat can make small adjustments to ensure the most efficient setting possible. Showing your energy usage in real time. By using the smart thermostat app on your smartphone, you’ll be able to take note of peak energy use times. This allows you to understand how much your HVAC...

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How to Maintain Your Furnace for Winter

By on Sep 24, 2018 in Furnaces |

Even though fall just officially began this past Saturday, there’s no time like the present to get ready for the inevitable colder weather that’s just ahead. This means not only doing some regular fall maintenance tasks, but also learning how to best prep your furnace for the winter. A properly working furnace is key to your and your family’s overall comfort, especially when those temperatures drop below zero. Furnace Maintenance Tips for a Warmer Winter It’s Murphy’s Law at its finest: your furnace works perfectly until that first really, really cold day when you need it most. This is not only extremely inconvenient, but it’s also extremely uncomfortable. Even with layers of blankets and warm clothing, a non-working furnace means everyone in the house will be freezing. Plus, we can guarantee that HVAC companies are going to be slammed on that first cold day helping others experiencing the same situation.   The good news is there are a few things you can do right now, while the weather is still cooperating, to ensure your furnace is working when you need in most. Use these furnace maintenance tips to keep it running well in the cold months ahead: Inspect the system, inside and out. Give your entire HVAC system a visual once-over, looking for cracks in belts, faulty connections and dusty, dirty components. All parts should be free of dust and debris and in good working order. Replace the filter. Neglecting to change the air filter is one of the top causes of problems with HVAC systems. Set a reminder somewhere – on a calendar, in your phone, a sticky note, etc. – to change your filter on a monthly basis. This will not only keep your furnace running more effectively, but it will also improve indoor air quality and reduce your energy bills. Test the thermostat. Before the true cold weather sets in, test out your thermostat. Turn up the heat to a few degrees warmer than the current air in your home and make sure the system kicks on within a few minutes. Clean the air vents. Take a few moments to clean out the air vents in your home. Use a screwdriver to remove the vent covers,...

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5 Tips to Get Your Home Ready for Fall

By on Sep 11, 2018 in Furnaces |

After a long, hot, and muggy summer, it’s time to welcome in the cooler weather and vibrant colors of the fall season. While it may still be a while before the snow starts to fall, while the temperatures are still warm there’s no time like the present to do a little fall home maintenance. This way, you can rest easy knowing you’ll be fully prepared for the arrival of that cold weather that is inevitably on its way to northeast Ohio. Fall Maintenance Tips for Your Home Start these fall home maintenance tasks now, and you’ll be ready to kick back with some hot cocoa on the couch on those frigid days. Here’s are five easy tips to get your home properly prepped for fall and beyond: Schedule your annual furnace maintenance check. Fall and winter are some of the busiest seasons for HVAC companies, and the last thing you want on a chilly autumn day is for your furnace to be on the fritz. You may call for service only to find out you’re on a list a mile long, and a technician can’t come for several days. Beat the rush and call now to schedule annual maintenance on your furnace to ensure it’s in great shape for the cold months ahead. Clean up the landscaping. Did you know that fall is actually the best time to reseed your lawn? It’s true – the roots actually grow deeper in the fall to prepare for winter. Additionally, you should prune your trees and shrubs to promote healthy growth in the springtime, and watch for any tree limbs that are getting too close to power lines or your roof. Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Having working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are key to your and your family’s safety throughout the entire year, and you can use the changing of the seasons as a reminder to make sure they’re in good working order. Swap out the old batteries for fresh ones regularly so there’s never any doubt that they’re in perfect condition. Seal up drafty doors and windows. Save some money on your energy bills this fall by making sure you’re preventing drafts from causing your furnace to...

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A Day in the Life of an HVAC Technician

By on Aug 27, 2018 in Air Conditioning, Furnaces |

Every home and commercial building utilizes HVAC – heating, ventilation and air conditioning – systems to control the temperature, humidity and air quality indoors. This means residential houses, offices, schools, stores, restaurants, factories and so on all rely on the same basic type of system to keep the people indoors comfortable throughout the entire year. An HVAC technician, therefore, is trained in all three components, and uses those skills to install, maintain and repair heating, air conditioning, ventilation, and refrigeration systems. What Does an HVAC Technician Do? A typical day in the life of an HVAC technician will begin with learning about which types of specific jobs are on the schedule for the day. The technician may be required to fix a broken component, advise whether an entire new system is needed, or simply adjust settings so the system is working more efficiently. Here are a few more tasks HVAC technicians are responsible for on a daily basis: Installation: HVAC systems need to be installed by licensed professionals to ensure their safety and effectiveness. Additionally, a technician will understand and recommend the right size system for both residential and commercial sites, completing the necessary calculations to determine that information correctly. He or she will connect the systems to water lines, fuel lines, air ducts, electrical wiring and more to ensure everything is working effectively. Repair: HVAC technicians are often called in to troubleshoot issues with the HVAC unit itself, the thermostat, compressors, refrigerant levels, air handling systems and more. He or she understand how all components work and can fix the problem or recommend the necessary solution. Maintenance: Properly maintaining an HVAC system is key to keeping it working efficiently for as long as possible. This is why it’s recommended to schedule an annual furnace check or an annual air conditioning check. In these checks, usually performed in the spring and fall, the technician will test and clean the blower fan, inspect the level of coolant, and test the system’s overall operation and functioning. HVAC technicians generally travel to several different customers every day. They might have a fairly regulated schedule if they’re working on a construction site. Or, they may not know what tasks are ahead for the...

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5 Upgrades that Boost Your Home Value

By on Aug 13, 2018 in energy efficiency |

There’s really only one word to describe the current housing market in Cleveland: HOT. It’s truly a seller’s market, with newly-listed houses getting snatched up by eager buyers practically overnight. This is a trend that’s actually sweeping across the nation, with home values up nine percent year-to-year. If you’ve been thinking it’s time to sell your current home, whether because your family is growing and needs more space or because you’re ready to downsize to a more manageable option, now is definitely the time. However, it might be a seller’s market, but you still want to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck when you list your home. The Best Ways to Increase Home Value If it’s a seller’s market, why should you be concerned with making any changes to your home? Well, for that same reason! Because the market is so hot, you might be faced with paying slightly more for your dream home right now. And that means you’ll want to make sure you’re getting as much for your current home as possible, so you can put that money into your new home. However, you should focus only on the upgrades that provide the biggest return on your investment. Here are the top five upgrades that can increase the value of your home: Make it energy efficient. The average American spends over $2,000 on home energy every year, and letting potential buyers know your home is energy efficient can definitely increase your profits when you sell. Focus on adding energy-efficient lighting, replacing drafty windows and doors, or upgrading to energy-efficient appliances that will stay with the home. Make it smart. Smart home technology is all the rage these days, and you can bet potential buyers will be looking for these upgrades in a home. Most smart tech isn’t very costly, and it can add a lot of appeal to those buyers. Consider swapping out your old thermostat with a smart thermostat, for instance, or adding smart door locks and lighting. Add some curb appeal. First impressions are everything, and if your home looks drab on the outside, some potential buyers may not even consider checking out the inside. Paint your front door an eye-catching...

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Why Isn’t My Central Air Conditioner Blowing Cold Air?

By on Jul 30, 2018 in Air Conditioning |

Summer in northeast Ohio is hot, sticky and let’s face it, there are some days that are just downright uncomfortable. You can cool down by jumping in a pool or spending a day at Lake Erie, or you can head to your favorite ice cream shop for a few of your favorite scoops. However, there’s nothing quite like coming home to a cool, refreshing home after a long day out in the sun. Central air conditioning is many homeowners’ saving grace this season, but sometimes you might notice that the air blowing out of the vents doesn’t quite seem as cool as it could be. On these hot, humid days, this can be a real issue in keeping your family comfortable inside. The Top Reasons Your Central A/C isn’t Cooling Your Home If you’re dealing with lukewarm or even hot air coming out of your vents this summer, there are a few things you can do to troubleshoot on your own before seeking professional air conditioning services. These include: Check your air filter. A dirty air filter is often the culprit for a variety of issues with your central air conditioning, including blowing lukewarm air from the vents. This is because when the filter is clogged with dirt, dust, pet dander, etc. less air passes through the system. Your central air is actually working just fine, however, there’s so little air getting back into your home that it feels warmer than it is. A simple fix is to replace the air filter; in fact, set a reminder to replace it every month to ensure your system is working as efficiently as possible. Check the vents. Take a walk around your home and inspect the return vents – those metal vents that suck air in, not the supply vents that blow cool air. The return vents should be totally clear of any type of obstruction, including curtains and furniture. If they’re blocked, they will take in less air which can weaken the output from the supply vents. Check your thermostat. Perhaps someone inadvertently changed the settings on the thermostat, or maybe it was never set correctly in the first place. Take a look at your thermostat, specifically checking the fan...

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5 Ways to Protect Your Home from Carbon Monoxide

By on Jul 28, 2018 in Indoor Air Quality |

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a natural byproduct found in fuel burned in cars or trucks, stoves, grills, gas fireplaces and furnaces. When it builds up in the air indoors, it can poison the people and animals who breathe it. This silent danger affects thousands of individuals every year, with more than 20,000 people visiting the emergency room due to carbon monoxide poisoning. It’s even the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in the United States, with 400 people dying every year from CO poisoning. Safeguarding Your Home from Carbon Monoxide “It won’t happen to me” is a common thought regarding carbon monoxide poisoning. However, the statistics above prove differently. Carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless, and many of those affected by it don’t realize it’s building up in the air until it’s too late. This is why it’s so vital you take measures to protect your home and family from being exposed to CO, including: Install a carbon monoxide detector. The easiest and most effective way to protect yourself against carbon monoxide poisoning is to install a CO detector in your home. They cost as little as thirty dollars but can be priceless in keeping your family safe. Place the detector in an area that will wake you up if it gets set off, and replace it every five years with a newer, more effective model. Understand the risks. Educate yourself about the dangers of carbon monoxide, and know the symptoms. Inhaling CO can cause serious health issues, and at lower concentrations you might experience dizziness, headache, weakness, nausea and vomiting, and chest pain. Keep vents clear. Check your vents outdoors and ensure nothing is blocking the airflow of your dryer, stove, furnace and fireplace vents. During storms, debris like leaves and dirt can build up around these areas, so make sure you’re inspecting them regularly to keep them clear, allowing an exit for any carbon monoxide that might otherwise collect in the air inside. Check your appliances. If appliances like gas dryers, ranges and ovens are not installed properly, carbon monoxide easily gets produced within your home. This goes back to making sure they are vented effectively, as well as ensuring pipes are fitted tightly to prevent leaking....

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The Most Energy-Efficient Thermostat Settings for Summer

By on Jun 25, 2018 in Thermostats |

When the temperatures outside soar, it’s always nice to come inside to a cool, comfortable house. However, cooling down your home could mean a major increase in your energy bills over the summer, and you might start to wonder if it’s a better idea to just sweat it out these next few months.  This is why it’s important to figure out exactly what temperature settings will provide the most comfortable conditions for your family – without the need to dig too deep into your savings account this summer to pay for it. What Thermostat Settings Equal Energy Efficiency for Your Home? By making a few small tweaks to your thermostat settings and following a few other energy-efficient tips, everyone will stay calm, cool and collected on those hot, muggy days. Here’s how to ensure you and your family enjoy a comfortable living situation without breaking the bank this summer: Test some different temperatures. One general rule of thumb is that the closer the temperature the air on the inside is to the temperature outside, the more money you’ll save on your energy bills. However, that temperature may not be ideal for cooling down your home, so do some testing and figure out what temperature is most comfortable for you. Keep in mind that the recommended temperature for your home while no one is there is 78 degrees. reports that turning your thermostat lower by 10 to 15 degrees for 8 hours per day will help you see an energy usage reduction of 5 to 15 percent per year on your bills. Properly program your thermostat. Programmable thermostats certainly play a major role in improving the energy efficiency of your home. Take into account the times of day when no one is home and when you’re all sleeping and program the temperatures accordingly. Don’t forget, allow for a 30 minute grace period for your system to kick on before everyone gets home. Plan ahead for vacations. Going out of town? There’s no need to keep your home as cool as it is when you’re all there. Even if you have pets you’ve left behind, you can leave the thermostat set to 78 degrees and program it to run only...

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