Getting Your Home Ready For Fall

It may be only September, but here in New Jersey you can already feel the first hints of fall. This has us all thinking about all the things we need to do around the house to get ready before the cold weather settles in. You will benefit from preparing for the winter weather that is only a few months away.

1. CLEAN OUT THE GUTTERS

All the leaves and grime that you neglected while you were out swimming, hiking, or riding your bicycle this summer have built up in your gutters. If left full of debris, clogged gutters and drains can form ice dams that prevent your drainage systems from working properly. This can lead to water seeping into your home and can lead to all sorts of issues and extra energy costs. Save yourself the hassle of repairing a leak by simply cleaning your gutters and drains now. When you do, run water through the gutters to check for alignments that are off and could also cause water damage.

2. KEEP THE OUTSIDE AIR OUT AND THE INSIDE AIR IN

We talk about this a lot, but it is hugely important for your energy savings to ensure there are no air leaks in your home. Warm air will escape out of any cracks and can make your heating system work harder and cost you more to heat your home.  Use caulk to seal cracks and openings between stationary house components like a door frame and weatherstripping to seal components that move like an operable window.

3. SHOW SOME TLC TO YOUR FURNACE

Your furnace may be a distant memory since you last powered it on, but before the cold weather descends and you must reluctantly switch it on, give it some TLC. Clean your furnace  annually each autumn. Sediment build-up can cause your system to work less efficiently or potentially become a fire-hazard. Cleaning your system and getting it inspected will reduce the risks.
During the winter try to change your filter regularly; a dirty filter will decrease air flow and energy-efficiency. And if your furnace is ready to be replaced, buy an energy-efficient model. It will save you money and energy each month!

4. GET YOUR DUCTS IN A ROW

Your ducts are often times out of sight, out of mind, tucked away in the attic or basement, but a home with central heating can lose about 20% of the air that moves through the duct system. Make sure your ducts are in order by properly sealing and insulating them. Tightly sealed and insulated ducts can potentially reduce your annual energy bills by $120 or more!

5. LIGHT THE WAY

The fall and winter months mean less daylight. I know we are all keen on saving energy, but we don’t want any falls while you enter your home. Luckily, you can still use your outdoor lights without wasting money and energy. Because outdoor lights are typically left on for long periods of time, buying ENERGY SAVER products and bulbs to light your outdoor pathways or porches can save a lot of energy. ENERGY STAR even makes CFL and LED flood lights that can withstand snow and rain. As an extra energy-saving effort, look for ENERGY STAR products that come with automatic daylight shut-off and motion sensors. And be sure to decorate with LED holiday lights to reduce the cost of decorating your home for the winter holidays.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding any of your HVAC needs please feel free to call your friends at Green Apple Mechanical NJ toll free at 888-611-7191

Should I Cover My Central Air Unit In The Fall?

We are quickly approaching the fall season so we would like to cover one of our fall frequently asked questions-
To Cover or Not to Cover?
Covering your outdoor unit during the winter has been a “heated debate” in the HVAC field for years now.  There are pros and cons to both sides and each contractor will recommend something different. Here we will explain both sides and then we will give you our final recommendation.
Pros to covering your air conditioner:
* Keeps your air conditioner coils a little cleaner so it may run a little more efficiently when you use it again.
* Prevents heavy debris like sticks, branches and other yard waste from blowing into your AC unit.
* Helps prevent water from directly resting on your coils and freezing, which could be damaging.
Cons to covering your air conditioner:
* Covering an entire unit may actually trap moisture by creating a high humidity environment as the sun beats down on the cover.  Inside this moist environment is your electrical windings, wiring connections, and in some cases circuit boards.  None of these items do well in the moisture.
* During the winter months the temperatures cause small animals to find a warm place to nest away from the elements.  Covers provide a very tempting spot for these animals to call home.  Small animals can be detrimental to your unit by chewing the wiring harness for their bedding.  This can lead to a very expensive fix for you in the spring.
* Most AC manufacturers don’t specifically recommend covering the outside unit.
Our recommendation is that covering the unit is not necessary. If you do still want to cover your unit to keep out debris we have found that a simple piece of plywood across the top is a perfect fit.  It is inexpensive, will keep out most debris, and leaves the sides open to keep moisture and animals out. If you do insist on covering the unit there are short covers available which will work similarly to the plywood but will cost you a little bit more.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding any of your HVAC needs please feel free to call your friends at Green Apple Mechanical NJ toll free at 888-611-7191

The Must Know Fall Furnace Facts

As heating season approaches the New Jersey area, it’s time to get out your fall maintenance checklist. High on your list should be a comprehensive furnace tune up. Annual furnace maintenance by a qualified HVAC professional will save you money on energy costs and extend the life of your system, as well as help keep you warmer and your family safer this heating season. Here are 10 important maintenance tasks your HVAC professional will perform:
• Check and tighten electrical and gas connections to ensure your system operates safely.
• Check operational pressures.
• Clean condenser coils.
• Measure the current and voltage on the motor.
• Check safety switches.
• Clean and lubricate all moving parts to reduce friction.
• Check your thermostat for accuracy and proper operation.
• Check and clean blower assembly.
• Clean condensate drain lines.
• Check and replace the air filter.
In addition to a professional tune up, there are some things you can do this winter to help keep your system running smoothly and safely:
• Stock up on furnace filters and change your filter monthly to ensure proper airflow and extend the life of your furnace.
• Keep the area around your furnace clean and accessible in case of an emergency.
• Change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and test them to make sure they’re working properly.
• Keep the emergency number of your gas company posted on your furnace and call immediately if you smell gas around your unit.
• Know where your emergency gas shutoff valve is, and make sure it’s easily accessible.
Taking steps to maintain your furnace will help prevent carbon monoxide leaks, prevent breakdowns and save you the cost of replacing the unit.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding any of your HVAC needs please feel free to call your friends at Green Apple Mechanical NJ toll free at 888-611-7191

Fall Plumbing Prep

Fall is upon us, and many of us are busy unpacking warmer clothes, sending the kids off to school, and bracing ourselves for winter heating bills. Are you ready? You may have started raking leaves and doing yard maintenance already, but what about getting your house ready? Preparing your plumbing for the cold months now will help you avoid problems when the winter chill hits. Here’s how to get your plumbing ready for the fall and winter.

Stay Warm

Yes, it’s important that you stay warm all winter, but it’s also important to keep your pipes warm, too! If you’ve ever had to deal with a frozen, or worse, a burst pipe, you know how much of a hassle it can be. Take steps to insulate your pipes now before it gets really cold, and you won’t have to think twice about them freezing. Pipe insulation, made from heating cables or polyurethane pipe wraps will keep your plumbing toasty all winter.

Fix Leaks

A leaky pipe may start out as a minor annoyance, but a deep winter freeze can turn that small leak into a blowout. Examine your plumbing for leaking pipes, and have a professional plumber fix leaks before the cold hits. Check around toilets, tubs, showers, and sinks — this is where leaks commonly occur. Make sure to take a trip down to the basement as well, and look for pooling water in hidden areas.

Flush Your Water Heater

Fall is a great time to do some preventive maintenance on your hot water heater. Hot water heaters tend to build up sediment, especially in areas with hard water. This leads to inefficiency and leaks and will suck the life out of your water heater. Check for rust stains, which may mean it’s time to replace the water heater. Have a professional plumber drain and clean it before winter so you can enjoy hot showers on cold days.

Give Your Sump Pump a Checkup

The sump pump is a device in your basement that gets rid of pooling water. The pump is housed in the sump basin, or pit, where water collects for drainage. Locate the sump pump in your basement and give it a healthy check to make sure it’s working properly. Remove the lid and make sure it’s clean and not clogged. You can also check it by pouring water into the pit and making sure it drains properly.

Shut Off Outdoor Plumbing

It is common for homeowners to forget to shut off outdoor plumbing before winter. After all, fall is a busy time of year, so it’s no wonder that an outdoor spigot isn’t at the top of your to-do list. But it should be. When outdoor faucets and hoses are exposed to the cold, they run the risk of freezing and bursting. If an outdoor pipe connected to your indoor plumbing bursts, your whole house will suffer. Remember to bleed your outdoor plumbing, shut off faucets, and put away hoses for the winter. Many people also have outdoor pipes that can’t be shut off. In that case, be sure to insulate them with heat tape.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding your plumbing or any of your HVAC needs please feel free to contact your friends at Green Apple Mechanical NJ toll free at (888) 611-7191

Preparing Your HVAC System For Fall Weather

Like most homeowners, chances are you have been relying on your air conditioning unit to keep your home cool during the hot summer months. With fall fast approaching, however, it may be time to begin thinking about getting your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems ready for winter. After a long summer, HVAC maintenance check-up is important to keep your system at optimal performance.
Why you need fall maintenance for your HVAC units.
Just like any piece of home appliance, your HVAC units require routine maintenance to keep them running effectively and efficiently. There are many reasons why you need to make sure that your heating and air conditioning systems are properly prepared for the next season. Here are some of them.
To ensure the efficiency of your system
Keep your units running efficiently.
Even if you have not been routinely servicing your HVAC units, you can perform various maintenance tasks to keep your system running smoothly. For instance, routine maintenance of the furnace, or the part of the unit that is exposed outside, is quite easy and will ensure that your unit performs at its optimal efficiency. However, there are portions of the AC and heater that are inaccessible, so it is recommended that you get a professional to visually inspect your unit before the onset of the next season.
Keep your system trustworthy
Nothing can be devastating like your heating unit breaking down during winter. Proper heat exchanger checkup will certainly make your system trustworthy. Through proper servicing, you can count on your HVAC units to work for you when you need them most.
Protect your investment in your home
HVAC units are incredibly costly and can cost upwards of $10,000 depending on where you are buying them from. Properly inspecting furnaces and other components of the system will ensure that they last far longer. In addition, properly running units consume less energy thus saving you money in the process.
How to prepare your HVAC for fall
Summer is almost over and the cold season is well around the corner. By performing HVAC maintenance in time, you will be prepared to take on that first cold night, no matter when it comes.
Here are a few tips that can help you prepare your HVAC system for the cold months ahead.
Check the filters
As long as your heating and air conditioning unit is in use, be sure to change or clean the filters on a monthly basis depending upon the type of filter your system uses. If you did not replace the filter before you last used the furnace, it is recommended that you take it out and start the fall and winter months with a new one.
Inspect the furnace
Before turning the furnace on, ensure the area around it is clear. Routine furnace checks are important to help prevent it from overheating. In addition, this should be an opportunity to ensure that there are no flammables around the furnace, as these materials can pose safety risks to your home.
The HVAC units are a huge investment. By properly inspecting furnaces and routinely maintaining your systems and keeping them running smoothly, you will ensure that your systems have a long life ahead. In addition, you will ensure that your home is energy efficient, thus saving you money in the process.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding any of your HVAC needs please feel free to contact your friends at Green Apple Mechanical toll free at (888) 611-7191

The Best Way To Save Money With Your Central Air

Insulate Your Ductwork and Attic

Air leaking from your ductwork and warm air creeping in via your attic both cause your central air conditioner to work overtime, upping the power it uses and, subsequently, your bill. Insulate your attic with cellulose or fiberglass insulation to keep the hot summer air out. Seal off the seams of your ductwork with mastic tape to prevent air leaks, increasing the overall efficiency of the unit.

Proper Maintenance

In order to run as efficiently as possible, thus reducing the cost of keeping your home cool, properly maintain your central air unit. Once a year, have the unit checked and cleaned by a Green Apple Mechanical NJ professional in your area. Time the inspection for the spring if you want the unit fresh for the summer or save some money by scheduling it for the fall, when most professionals offer an off-season discount. Every month, replace your disposable air filter or clean your permanent one. Dust, pollen, and other debris can limit air flow, causing the fan in the unit to work harder, thus increasing electricity use.

Change the Settings

While a cool 72 degrees Fahrenheit may feel fantastic, you can save money by turning the temperature up just a few degrees. Many experts recommend 78 degrees Fahrenheit for when the home is occupied. You can save even more by going as high as 80 degrees Fahrenheit when the home is unoccupied and overnight, when the outdoor temperatures tend to be at least a bit cooler.

Increase Shade Indoors and Outdoors

Shading your home and your central air unit lowers your electric bill by reducing how much and how hard the unit has to work. Plant shade trees near the condenser to keep it out of direct sunlight, as well as along the east and west of your property, keeping your house cooler naturally during the summer. Inside your home, use energy efficient blinds and window treatments — and keep these closed during the day to keep hot air out.

Reduce Use of Heat Generating Items

A lot of focus is placed on keeping the hot air from the outside from getting into your home; however, what you do inside the home can also increase the temperature, thus forcing the air conditioner to work harder. Over the summer, cook outside as much as possible and line or air-dry clothing to avoid using the oven and dryer, two of the biggest heat generators in a home. Replace the bulbs in your home with compact fluorescent, which generate less heat than incandescent bulbs, and always turn the lights off when you aren’t in the room or at home to limit the extra heat.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding any of your HVAC needs please feel free to call your friends at Green Apple Mechanical NJ toll free at 888-611-7191

YOUR CENTRAL AIR MAINTENANCE CHECKLIST

Maintain your equipment to prevent future problems and unwanted costs. Keep your cooling and heating system at peak performance by having a contractor do annual pre-season check-ups. Contractors get busy once summer and winter come, so it’s best to check the cooling system in the spring and the heating system in the fall. To remember, you might plan the check-ups around the time changes in the spring and fall.

A typical maintenance check-up should include the following.

  • Check thermostat settings to ensure the cooling and heating system keeps you comfortable when you are home and saves energy while you are away.
  • Tighten all electrical connections and measure voltage and current on motors. Faulty electrical connections can cause unsafe operation of your system and reduce the life of major components.
  • Lubricate all moving parts. Parts that lack lubrication cause friction in motors and increases the amount of electricity you use.
  • Check and inspect the condensate drain in your central air conditioner, furnace and/or heat pump (when in cooling mode). A plugged drain can cause water damage in the house and affect indoor humidity levels.
  • Check controls of the system to ensure proper and safe operation. Check the starting cycle of the equipment to assure the system starts, operates, and shuts off properly.

Cooling Specific

  • Clean evaporator and condenser air conditioning coils. Dirty coils reduce the system’s ability to cool your home and cause the system to run longer, increasing energy costs and reducing the life of the equipment.
  • Check your central air conditioner’s refrigerant level and adjust if necessary. Too much or too little refrigerant will make your system less efficient increasing energy costs and reducing the life of the equipment.
  • Clean and adjust blower components to provide proper system airflow for greater comfort levels. Airflow problems can reduce your system’s efficiency by up to 15 percent.

Heating Specific

  • Check all gas (or oil) connections, gas pressure, burner combustion and heat exchanger. Improperly operating gas (or oil) connections are a fire hazard and can contribute to health problems. A dirty burner or cracked heat exchanger causes improper burner operation. Either can cause the equipment to operate less safely and efficiently.

Actions To Do Yourself

  • Inspect, clean, or change air filters once a month in your central air conditioner, furnace, and/or heat pump. Your contractor can show you how to do this. A dirty filter can increase energy costs and damage your equipment, leading to early failure.
  • If you have any questions or concerns regarding any of your HVAC needs please feel free to call your friends at Green Apple Mechanical toll free at 888-611-7191

PROTECTING YOUR CENTRAL AIR FROM THIEVES

As copper prices increase and high unemployment remains the norm, residential and commercial air conditioners are easy targets for desperate criminals. Air conditioning condensing units can be removed in less than five minutes by an experienced thief with nothing more than a pair of bolt cutters. In the past, thieves would break open the unit and cost the refrigerant lines to remove the coil, now they simply cut the refrigerant lines and the electrical feed and remove the entire unit. Some even dress like service repairmen to eliminate suspicion. The cost of replacing a condensing unit can be between $1000 and $2000 depending on the size. Investing a few hundred dollars to protect your AC equipment is a prudent move if you live in an area where copper thieves have struck.
There are a few options you can use to protect your condenser; some are decoys like alarm monitoring stickers, fake security cameras, motion sensing lights and audible alarms to actual refrigerant alarms and steel cages that secure your unit to the concrete pad or the structure of your home. You must consider the cost of each method and employ one or two to decrease the chances that your unit will be stolen.

Security Strategies
It is important to understand that you should never remove, bypass, or relocate your electrical disconnect to the condensing unit. The electrical disconnect is installed within arm’s reach so that it can be quickly shutoff in an emergency. Never allow anyone to remove or relocate your service disconnect more than 4 feet from the unit. The requirements vary by locale, so check with your building inspector to determine the requirements.
Cages
Determine if a locked cage or steel bars around your air conditioning unit can be installed securely. Several manufacturers make cages designed specifically for this purpose that are difficult to cut through. Most thieves will move on to an easier target. A simple web search will produce several companies to choose from. In most cases you can install the cage yourself. Verify the dimensions of your outdoor unit and review the installation instructions. Depending on how your unit was installed you may need to install a concrete AC pad so that you can mount the cage to it. Some designs allow you to install the cage to the side of the house.
 
Steel wire cages or bars offer the most secure method of protecting your AC equipment from damage and theft. The drawbacks to these are their looks and installation. Cages that are constructed of steel may require painting to prevent rust damage. A padlock is also needed.
Lights
Install an exterior light with a motion detector to keep the side of your home well lit. This may not be the best strategy as many AC thieves will steal the units during the day when people are at work.
Alarm Notices
You can install an alarm sticker on your air conditioner stating that an alarm will activate in the event of tampering. You may also want to install a notice on your front door or window stating that your home is monitored. Thieves are smart so they may be able to determine that the sticker is a fake, or they may not care since they work quickly. Some commercial buildings have placed decals on their units that say “THESE UNITS CONTAIN NO COPPER” which is not true. You may also place a sticker on the unit stating that an alarm will sound if the unit is tampered with.
 
Security Cameras
You can install a security camera in the area where your unit is located to discourage would be thieves. Install the camera high enough so that they cannot be reached from the ground. Post signs stating that cameras are recording. Some people have installed fake security cameras that actually move and have a red LED on the side. Cameras will not keep your unit from being stolen, but real ones may allow you to identify the thief.
Refrigerant Leak Alarms
To remove the condenser unit, the thieves need to cut the refrigerant lines causing the refrigerant to discharge from the system. A refrigerant alarm can be installed that will sound an audible alarm.  The unit will need to be repaired, but at a substantially reduced amount, maybe a few hundred dollars. Some systems offer notification through a dialer or connected to your existing home alarm system. The drawbacks to a refrigerant alarm are that they require professional installation, they can be expensive, and they do not prevent physical theft or damage.
 
Refrigerant Alarm that detects power shutoff and refrigerant leaks.
Whichever security device, or devices, you employ, it is important to remember that no single method is fool-proof, but multiple methods can significantly reduce the likelihood that your functioning air conditioning unit is stolen and sold for scrap metal.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding any of your HVAC needs please feel free to call your friends at Green Apple Mechanical NJ toll free at 888-611-7191
 

Get Furnace Service Done Before Harsh Winter Weather

There are a number of fun things to do in the fall, especially in your city. But, there’s also that big list of must-do’s before the cold weather comes. Although the outdoor yard work and home improvements are probably at the top of your list, there’s at least one indoor thing you should consider taking on early: getting your furnace service and tune-up appointment scheduled.
The team at Green Apple Mechanical NJ recommend that furnace service and maintenance be done at least annually to help prevent a breakdown in the peak of winter, when the furnace is needed most. There are a great deal of benefits to getting it completed before the cold and crisp weather comes to your city, too. Take a look at some of the top perks of furnace service:

  • Helps maintain your heating system’s energy efficiency. Regular maintenance can help make certain that your furnace operates at its top efficiency throughout the coldest months of the year, helping you save on your heating expenses.
  • Ensures your furnace is in peak shape. From checking airflow to full multi-point inspections, you can be certain your furnace is ready to handle whatever Mother Nature decides to throw at your city this season.
  • Decreases the chances of breakdowns. Just about the last thing you want to occur on a cool winter day is have your furnace stop working, especially when heating companies are limited in their capacity for new customers. A furnace service appointment now will allow the technician to find potential problems and solve them before they happen.
  • Helps keep your home safe. All furnaces burn some type of fuel to produce heat, and cracks and leaks around the fuel area could compromise your family’s safety. Inspecting the heat exchanger, gas burner and gas valve calibration are critical to keeping your home safe through the winter.
  • Keeps your warranty valid. Many manufacturers require that you have at least one furnace service appointment per year in order to maintain your warranty, so getting regular maintenance done can save you money if larger problems occur in the future.

Taking proper care of your furnace has plenty of additional perks, and getting furnace service done annually is just the first step. It’ll help keep your home comfortable throughout the cold season and save you time later because you’re less likely to need additional service, maintenance or repairs in the middle of winter when heating and cooling companies like Green Apple Mechanical NJ are at their busiest.
If you have any questions about furnace service or a tune-up in your town, give us a call at 888-611-7191 to schedule an appointment.

How to Prepare Your Furnace for Winter

Before winter arrives, the most important thing you need to do for yourself and your family is to ensure that your furnace is operational, safe, and as energy-efficient as you can make it. When that first cold day hits, you don’t want to turn on the furnace only to discover that it isn’t working. (A lot can happen during the warmer months to affect your furnace.)
No doubt about it, your best bet is to call an HVACR professional and have them come out and inspect your furnace. During a regular maintenance inspection, the repairman also will clean the furnace, change the filter, check for leaks and unhealthy gases, and ensure that everything is operational. You also can (and should if you can afford it) pay them to clean the furnace ducts.
Here are a few other things that you can do yourself:

  • Change the furnace filters regularly. Some suggest every three months; others suggest monthly. At least take a look at the filter after 30 days of operation. You’ll be able to tell if it needs to be changed. If your filter still looks pretty good, you can put off changing it.

  • Stock up on filters during the warmer months. You often can find a bargain on furnace filters and other winter items during those hot summer months.

  • Remove any items you have stored near the furnace, particularly anything that is likely to catch fire. Also remove any household items that are suddenly sitting on top of or in front of your air ducts and return vents.

  • If you have a gas furnace, contact your gas company and have them fill ‘er up. Gas is certainly much cheaper to buy during the summer than in the middle of a January cold spell.

  • If you have hot-water radiator(s), bleed the valves. Open the valves slightly and close them again when water starts to appear.

Having carbon monoxide and radon detectors are important for everyone’s safety. You can purchase these detectors at most hardware and big box, do-it-yourself stores. Also, call your friends at “Green Apple Mechanical NJ” at 888-611-7191 for any of your HVAC needs.