As a heating and cooling company we get a lot of very good questions from our customers about their furnaces, air conditioners, water heaters and you name it! One question we get repeatedly that I would like to address is: “Do I really need to have my heating and cooling system maintained or tuned-up?”
I (like most people) would like to think about my heating system as little as humanly possible – especially when it comes to preventative maintenance! In the past, maintaining my furnace has ranked very low on my “important things to do list”, but recently I have learned that putting off maintenance is not a good idea! I now realize that if I really want to think about my heating and cooing system as little as possible, then I need to keep it cleaned and maintained. Here is some of the information I have learned about maintenance that has rearranged my to do list, and helped me sleep a bit easier at night.
The truth is, if you really want to think about your furnace as little as possible then preventative maintenance, by way of a fall tune-up or a PMA (Planned Maintenance Agreement) with a reputable HVAC professional, is the only way to go!
Here’s a thought: What if I told you I that I have 50,000 miles on my brand new car and have NEVER taken it to get the oil changed? You’d probably say, “Well say good-bye to your new car, because it won’t last for long without an oil change”.
Conclusion: You would be right!
The reason I have given you this scenario is because most HVAC professionals would equate preventative maintenance for your heating and cooling system to be equally as important as regular oil changes for your vehicle! Much like your vehicle, your heating and cooling system is a mechanical system with moving parts and pieces that need to be cleaned, inspected and adjusted. Sure, you don’t have spark plugs in your furnace like you do your vehicle, but you do have things like: valves, pumps, motors, belts etc… Just like your vehicle, all of these parts and pieces will wear out with use and age!
So, what exactly are you paying for when it comes to a tune-up or maintenance visit for your furnace? Here is a general list of things your HVAC professional is expected to do during a tune-up or fall maintenance. This list may vary from contractor to contractor, but in general you should make sure that whomever you hire is doing the following things:
1. Check furnace or boiler for the presence of CO at the time the check is performed
2. Check combustion chamber/heat exchanger condition
3. Check burner flame for proper characteristics including gas and air adjustment; clean burner, as necessary
4. Check pilot/igniter operation; clean pilot as necessary
5. Check motors, oil as needed (oil pump if boiler); check belts
6. Check condition of vent pipe to chimney and draft intensity
7. Remove dust and scale from the burner compartment and other key parts as needed
8. Check flame sensor or pilot safety timing and replace thermocouple, as necessary
9. Check condition of blower wheel 10. Check furnace filters
11. Restart furnace or boiler 12. Check operational control sequence, including safety controls and thermostat
Now that we are on the same page about maintenance, here are some more benefits of preventative maintenance:
* Validates your current warranty and/or extended warranty. Some manufacturer and extended warranties can become voided or deny coverage if the equipment is not regularly maintained by a licensed HVAC professional.
* Increases the health and safety of those living in your home. Your furnace is a fossil fuel burning piece of equipment. When fossil fuels, such as natural gas, propane or oil are burned they omit combustion gases. These omissions contain harmful gases like: carbon monoxide, methane, VOC’s and small amounts of sulfur dioxide (very cursive). Your furnace is designed to properly exhaust these gases outside and NOT in your home. Unfortunately this design can become compromised, like for instance when your furnace has a cracked heat exchanger. A small crack in the heat exchanger will allow harmful combustion gases to leak out of the equipment and into the home. Inspecting the heat exchanger is one of many diagnostics tests performed during your tune-up.
IMPORTANT NOTE: all homes with fossil fuel appliances should have an updated and active CO detector located on each floor.
* Greatly decrease the chance of a break down. Systems tend to break when they are working the hardest. An example would be: a major holiday when you are hosting a house full of people. When doors are opening and closing on a cold day your furnace has to work harder to maintain the indoor temperature. This increase in run time enhances the probability for system failure. According to Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service, 9 out of 10 heating and cooling system failure as a result of dirt and/or dust.
* Increases the longevity of your system. According to Department of Energy, “proper maintenance extends the life of your furnace or boiler and saves you money”. The longer you can keep your system running at optimum performance, the more money you keep in your pocket! FYI: The average furnace replacement can range from $3,000.00 – $10,000.00! **price varies greatly depending on size of home, efficiency and location.
* Keeps your energy cost down. According to Energy Star.gov 46% of the cost for the average 3,000 sq. ft. single-family home’s utility bill derives from it’s heating and cooling system. Keeping your equipment maintained keeps your equipment running at its optimum capacity and therefore prevents a spike or increase to your utility bill that a poorly running HVAC system may cause.
Well, I hope this information has helped bring to light the importance of maintenance! For more information on who to call when you are choosing a heating and cooling professional look to Energy Star’s list. If you have any questions or concerns please call us directly at Green Apple Mechanical 888-611-7191
Extreme cold weather can be hard on both you and your home. Here are some tips to put into practice when freezing weather, snow, and ice hit your area.
How to Deal with Frozen Pipes
- Disconnect and drain garden hoses.
- Cover outside faucets with insulating foam covers.
- Turn off water to outside faucets, if available, and open valves on faucets to allow them to drain.
- Turn off sprinkler system and blow compressed air through the lines to drain them.
- Close or cover foundation vents under house and windows to basements.
- Close garage doors.
- Insulate exposed pipes (both hot and cold) under house with foam pipe insulation.
- Open cabinet doors under sinks.
- Drip hot and cold faucets in kitchen and bath. Drip single control faucets with lever set in middle.
- Set icemaker to make ice if the water line to it runs under the house.
- Don’t forget to check on pipes to your washing machine in the laundry room
- Locate water main cut-off valve, and have a cut-off key handy.
- Use a hair dryer, heat lamp, electric heat tape, or a portable space heater to thaw frozen pipes that have not burst.
- Keep the faucet open when thawing frozen pipes to allow water to begin flowing through it.
- After the weather has warmed above freezing and any frozen pipes have thawed, turn off dripping faucets and monitor your water meter to check for unseen leaks.
How to Keep Warm in Your Home
- Have your furnace inspected before cold weather arrives. Inspect the heat exchanger for cracks, install a clean air filter, and check the thermostat to see if it’s working properly.
- Inspect fireplaces, and chimneys before using, and have them cleaned if needed.
- Keep drapes and blinds closed, except when windows are in direct sunlight.
- Put up storm windows, or install sheet plastic window insulation kits on the inside of windows.
- Cover or remove any window air conditioners.
- Insulate electrical outlets and switches on exterior walls with foam seals available at home centers.
- Caulk any cracks or holes on the outside of your house.
- Repair or replace weather stripping and thresholds around doors and windows.
- Run paddle ceiling fans on low in reverse (clockwise when looking up) to circulate warm air.
- Put draft snakes on window sills, between window frames, and against doors.
- If you heat with propane or fuel oil, make sure the tank is full.
- If you heat with wood or coal, have plenty of fuel on hand.
How to Protect the Outside of Your Home
- Clean your gutters and downspouts before cold weather arrives to prevent ice from forming in them.
- Spray an ice repellent solution on steps and walks before freezing weather arrives
- Check antifreeze levels in cars. Add if needed, then run the engine to circulate the new antifreeze through the radiator and engine block.
- Add freeze resistant windshield wiper fluid, and spay to circulate it in lines.
- Check air pressure in tires, since cold weather causes the pressure to lower.
- Bring in container plants, add mulch around plants, and cover plants that are prone to frost damage. Remove covering when temperatures warm above freezing.
- Drain birdbaths and fountains
- Gently sweep snow off plants and shrubs in an upward motion with a broom.
- Use rock salt, sand, or clay based kitty litter on walks and drives (NOTE: Salt can damage grass and other plants).
- Don’t overdo it when using a snow shovel.
- Stay off your roof during freezing weather, but once the ice and snow have melted, inspect your roof for any damage.
How to Stay Safe in an Ice or Snow Storm
- Stockpile nonperishable food and water.
- Refill prescription medications in advance of storm.
- Fill car with gas.
- Charge cell phones.
- Have flashlights, batteries, a weather radio, and a manual can opener on hand.
- A portable generator can come in handy when the lights go out, but take precautions to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning when using.
- Make sure you have working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and the batteries powering them are fresh.
- Have a working fire extinguisher on hand for emergencies.
- A chain saw can come in handy for removing broken limbs after an ice storm.
With a blast of Arctic air set to sweep into New Jersey this weekend, now is the time to make sure furnaces are in working order and your home’s pipes are protected.
Low temperatures on Saturday night into early Sunday morning will approach zero and could slip below zero in our area, according to the National Weather Service.
“The combination of wind and cold will make for dangerous conditions for the homeless and those not properly dressed this weekend,” according to AccuWeather.
Dressing for cold weather is both an art and a science. Think layers and choose the right fabrics.
Recognizing the warning signs of cold exposure — hypothermia — could save your life.
Here are some tips on what to do to keep pipes from freezing — and what to do if it happens anyway.
How to prepare:
- Know what areas of your home, such as basements, crawl spaces, unheated rooms and outside walls, are most vulnerable to freezing.
- Eliminate sources of cold air near water lines by repairing broken windows, insulating walls, closing off crawl spaces and eliminating drafts near doors.
- Know the location of your main water shut-off valve. If a pipe freezes or bursts, shut the water off immediately.
- Protect your pipes and water meter. Wrap exposed pipes with insulation or use electrical heat tracing wire; newspaper or fabric might also work. For outside meters, keep the lid to the meter pit closed tightly and let any snow that falls cover it. Snow acts as insulation, so don’t disturb it.
When temperatures are consistently at or below freezing:
- If you have pipes that are vulnerable to freezing, allow a small trickle of water to run overnight to keep pipes from freezing. The cost of the extra water is low compared to the cost to repair a broken pipe.
- Open cabinet doors to expose pipes to warmer room temperatures to help keep them from freezing.
If your pipes freeze:
- Shut off the water immediately. Don’t attempt to thaw frozen pipes unless the water is shut off. Freezing can often cause unseen cracks in pipes or joints.
- Apply heat to the frozen pipe by warming the air around it, or by applying heat directly to a pipe. You can use a hair dryer, space heater or hot water. Be sure not to leave space heaters unattended, and avoid the use of kerosene heaters or open flames.
- Once the pipes have thawed, turn the water back on slowly and check for cracks and leaks.
Who to call for help:
- If pipes inside the home are frozen, call us at (973) 943-0927.
- If there is no water or low pressure, and neighbors are experiencing the same situation, it could be a water main break, and customers should call the 24-hour customer service line at 1-800-652-6987.
When you are away:
- Have a friend, relative or neighbor regularly check your property to ensure that the heat is working and the pipes have not frozen.
- A freeze alarm can be purchased for less than $100 and will call a user-selected phone number if the inside temperature drops below 45 degrees.
- Residents are also reminded to clear snow from hydrants. Substantial snow accumulations combined with the after-effects of plowing roads and parking lots can leave fire hydrants partially or completely buried in snow.In these conditions, extra precautions should be taken to protect against carbon monoxide poisoning. Pennsylvania has one of the highest rates of carbon monoxide-related deaths in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Prevent problems with an annual inspection and maintenance visit.
Your furnace system controls the temperature and moves air throughout your home to keep it comfortable while also filtering out dust and allergens. A yearly preventative maintenance inspection by a qualified service technician can keep your HVAC functioning at peak efficiency by identifying problems from thermal stress, movement, or dust. Common problems can be:
- Duct work loosened due to normal thermal expansion and contraction;
- Blower motor bearings in need of lubrication;
- Replacing of air filter and cleaning of dust from blower fan blades and AC condensing coil.
An inspection can also find and repair less than obvious problems like:
- Loose blower belt
- Improperly firing burners
- Blocked condensate drain
- Loose wiring harnesses
- Slowly leaking coolant from the AC system
The best way to keep your furnace efficient and reliable is to have it inspected before you really need it. Before cold weather strikes, set up an appointment to have your heating system inspected by an expert. Yearly fall maintenance can save you time, frustration, and money when it’s done right by inspection a licensed technician from Direct Energy. Our TSSA-certified, licensed technicians perform a comprehensive diagnostic check to ensure that your furnace is operating safely, efficiently and to manufacturer’s specifications.
From performing a safety test for carbon monoxide (CO) to checking the unit’s safe operating temperature, what’s most important is that when we leave your house we’re confident that we have done all of the checks to ensure your equipment is running safely and as efficiently as possible and to the specifications of the manufacturer.
What Can I Do Between Annual Maintenance Visits To Ensure My Furnace Continues to Run Efficiently?
Next to having your furnace checked annually by a licensed professional, changing your filter is the most important thing to do in between those visits to ensure your furnace and air conditioner?s longevity and performance. One of the biggest culprits behind equipment issues are dirty filters which can:
- Restrict airflow, which puts additional strain on the fan motor that after time can make your motor burn out, your system overheat or your equipment fail.
- Force your fan motor to overwork which uses more energy, can cause damage to your system and significantly raise your utility bill.
- Drastically reduce your indoor air quality which can aggravate allergies, asthma and other illnesses.
- Clog ductwork with debris which can decrease your equipment’s life span and lead to costly repair or replacement expenses.
How often should I change my furnace filter?
Manufacturers typically recommend that furnace filters be changed every three months. However, we suggest you check your furnace filters on a monthly basis to see if they are filled with dirt and other debris. Homes with smokers or pets will likely need to change their filters more regularly than other households. So our advice is to be prepared to replace your furnace filter every 3 months, however, check the filter every month and replace more frequently if required.
Often a service technician can tell you common minor issues about your furnace make and model that you can solve yourself in the future. Plus, they’ll perform a multi-point safety check to verify your system’s safe operation.
A yearly maintenance inspection keeps your HVAC running like new and improves your energy savings. And by monitoring your HVAC’s performance and condition, you’ll enjoy its longer life and lower chances for an expensive break down.
If you have any questions or concerns feel free to call your friends at Green Apple Mechanical NJ toll free at 888-611-7191
As one of the most important investments and pieces of equipment in your home, it pays to keep track of just how efficiently and effectively your warm air oil or natural gas furnace is running. You need to know when to replace it before it costs you more in repairs than a new purchase or if it becomes unsafe. A comfortable and healthy home environment requires an energy-efficient and safe heating system. One that heats the home without using large amounts of energy and that doesn’t endanger the indoor air quality.
How do you know when it’s time to consider getting a new furnace?
If your oil or natural gas furnace is 12 years old or younger, and has been properly maintained, you shouldn’t need to worry about replacing your unit just yet. Instead, you should spend some time and money to improve the energy-efficiency in other areas of your home and ensure that you perform regular, proper maintenance of your furnace to keep it lasting longer.
“Warning Signs” of a failing furnace.
It is important to be aware of some warning signs from your oil or natural gas furnace that indicate it may need replacing. It is especially important not to wait until it’s too late. A cold, snowy winter night with a failing or faltering furnace is not the time to assess your heating system. It pays to be prepared and information is the key to making a wise decision. Below are some “warning signs” that it may be time to consider replacing your furnace. Of course, not all of them may apply to your particular equipment but you may use them as a general rule of thumb to gauge just how much life left you have in your furnace:*
1. How old is your furnace?
A good place to start is to compare your oil or natural gas furnace age to the national average. The average life expectancy of furnaces in homes today is between 16 and 20 years. If your furnace is close to this age or older, you should begin shopping. Shopping for a replacement furnace in an emergency does not allow time for you to make your best decision. Most people prefer to replace their furnace as a planned home improvement rather than a panic replacement when your furnace is faltering or has already failed.The typical lifespan of a warm air furnace will vary based on its operating environment, that’s why it’s important to have the system serviced regularly by a qualified technician. They will be able to properly assess the condition of the furnace and make any recommendations.
2. Are your energy bills going up?
Rising energy costs are not the only reason for high bills. Furnaces often lose their efficiency as they age, especially if they have not been properly maintained. As a result your oil or natural gas furnace may run longer to provide the same amount of heat. This will cause your energy bills to go up. And, all of the money you pay your energy utility companies every month could be used to help you pay for a new, much more energy-efficient and energy saving furnace.
3. Have you had any furnace repairs in the last 2 years?
Furnaces are like cars. As they age, you can replace one part only need another part replaced or repaired next year. It doesn’t take long to spend $500 just to keep an old oil or natural gas furnace running. Furnaces incur the most breakdowns in the last 2 years of their lives. Another repair sign is whether you had to wait to get parts replaced. As a furnace ages, it gets harder to source replacement parts. Waiting that can be really cold on a below zero night.
4. Does your thermostat keep you comfortable?
Do you feel that some rooms are too cold while others are too hot? Or are you always trying to adjust your thermostat to make your home more comfortable? This is a sign that your furnace lacks the ability to properly distribute the air to keep you comfortable in your home.
5. If you have a natural gas furnace, is your burner flame yellow instead of blue?
All heating systems run the risk of carbon monoxide emissions. However, owners of older chimney-vented oil-fired furnaces don’t necessarily face the same safety concerns posed by natural gas and propane, since oil-fired boilers and forced-air furnaces tend to be much less likely to produce carbon monoxide. Because they were built like tanks and require regular annual maintenance and cleaning by a qualified service technician, many of these units hum along safely and reliably for decades. If you do have a natural gas or propane furnace, a yellow or flickering flame may be a sign that poisonous carbon monoxide could be created by your furnace. Other possible signs of carbon monoxide are:
- Streaks of soot around furnace
- Absence of an upward draft in your chimney
- Excess moisture found on windows, walls, or other cold surfaces
- Excessive rusting on flue pipes, other pipe connections, or appliance jacks
- Small amounts of water leaking from the base of the chimney, vent, or flue pipe
- Rust on the portion of the vent pipe visible from the outside
Always be mindful and monitor your furnace for any of the signs noted above and always make sure to have carbon monoxide detectors on every floor of your home, particularly close to your furnace room.
6. How have you and your family been feeling?
Furnaces as they age run the risk of developing cracks in the heat exchanger inside your furnace. Carbon monoxide, if present, could leak into your home undetected. Signs of this may be frequent headaches, a burning feeling in nose or eyes, nausea, disorientation, flu-like symptoms. Should you experience any of these, air out your house, open a window to the furnace room and immediately call a service technician. Cracks in the heat exchanger can occur undetected which is why no one advises waiting until they occur.
7. Is your furnace making strange noises?
Old furnaces often start to make some strange noises as they get toward the end of their life. Have you heard any banging, popping, rattling, or squealing noises coming from your furnace? Another noise is when you hear the furnace blower running excessively. Does your blower turn on and off frequently or does it blow cold air sometimes? If so, this is a sign that your furnace may need to be replaced.
8. Is your house dry or dusty?
Old furnaces often lack the ability to moisturize and clean the air in your home. Your house air may feel stuffy or stale. Does anyone in your family suffer from allergies to airborne dust, mold, pollen, viruses or dander? Or does anyone suffer from dry nose, dry throat, or dry skin? Other signs may be frequent dust accumulation, static shocks, drooping plants, furniture cracking and musical instruments that do not stay in tune. These may seem like trivial and somewhat silly observations but all suggest that your old furnace is not capable of providing you with the comfort you and your family may want and need. Poor indoor air quality may also not be associated with on old furnace, poor ventilation and other reasons can cause it, too. Please contact us to have one of our service technicians assess your situation as we may have other air quality services and solutions for you.
If any of these “warning signs” apply to you, it might be time to consider the purchase of a new furnace.
Think you need a few furnace? Don’t despair. It may end up helping you save!
It’s a fact that a new furnace for your home is one of the more substantial costs involved in home ownership. But, it should also be seen as a long-term investment. All of the latest furnaces are much more energy-efficient than those installed even 20 years ago. So, while it may seem like a short-term larger expense, a new, more energy-efficient home heating system will more than likely save you money in the longer-term by lowering your annual energy costs.
We’ve got the furnaces you need to help you save.
By installing a new home furnace or heating system from Green Apple Mechanical NJ you’ll improve your home’s value, enjoy fast installation and professional training on your new heating system and qualified customers can take advantage of some great financing options.
Count on us for all of your furnace maintenance and repair needs.
Whether you need to maintain the furnace you have or need to protect the investment in a new furnace purchase, the right service plan makes all the difference. Our multiple service contract and protection plan options provide the tune-up, repair and maintenance services required to protect your furnace investment. All backed by around the clock service and support – in any weather.
If you have any questions or concerns call your friends at Green Apple Mechanical NJ toll free at 888-611-7191
To save money in the past, many homeowners would close several vents in an effort to redirect their heat only to rooms that needed it. Today, many homeowners are still following this procedure. However, If you have a forced air furnace in your home, you may be making some costly mistakes in your efforts to cut costs.
1. Only Closing off the Supply Register: The supply register is the vent that supplies the heated air to a room. The return register that retrieves the air and delivers it back to the furnace to be heated once more. Oftentimes homeowners will forget to close the return register forcing the furnace to continually intake unnecessary air from an unheated room.
This cold air brought to the furnace causes the unit to remain in operation for longer periods of time. As a result, all the money you thought you were saving has been negated by these extended run times, and in many cases wastes more money than it saves.
2. Closing Registers without Sealing Duct work: Leaks in ductwork are difficult to spot, but they are far more common than many homeowners realize. When closing registers, this creates more pressure in the ductwork causing the forced air to escape through any cracks or holes with much more intensity.
3. Closing more than 60% of Registers: Furnaces weren’t make to heat single rooms. They were made to heat the entire home. If you close more than 60% of the registers, the furnace will lack the proper quantity of air to function and the proper outlet for the heat it generates. In a very short amount of time, the furnace can overheat and damage the unit.
4. Furniture Blocking Registers: It may sound silly, but our technicians discover this almost every week. When designing a room, many homeowners do not take their registers into account. Couches, chairs, and bookcases are placed in front of supply and return registers disrupting the entire heating system.
If you have any questions or concerns call your friends at Green Apple Mechanical NJ toll free at 888-611-7191
We’ve all felt the pinch of rising home heating bills. In 2010, the average cost of heating a home for an American family was about $1000, so anything you can do to reduce that number is obviously well worth the effort. One thing that can help minimize your heating costs is giving your furnace a tune-up to ensure it is working efficiently.
A Typical Home Heating (HVAC) System
Home heating systems basically consist of three parts. A heat sensor, or thermostat, measures the temperature in your home and determines when it needs to be raised. When the air temperature drops, the thermostat signals the heater and the blower to turn on. The combustion in the heater creates heat, while the blower moves air over the heat exchanger, raising its temperature and distributing it throughout the house via heating ducts. Cooler room air is returned to the furnace through return ducts where it is warmed. The warm-air-out, cool-air-in cycle continues until the desired temperature is reached and the thermostat signals the furnace to shut down.
Tune-up a Furnace System
HVAC systems are mechanical, so like all mechanical systems, they do need to be maintained. A thorough professional tune-up will cost you $100 or more and is definitely something you should do every few years. However, you can do annual maintenance yourself and save some of that money.
First take a look at your furnace. There shouldn’t be any black soot or combustion residue on or around it. Next, turn up the thermostat so your furnace comes on and check the flames in the burner. They should be blue and steady, not yellow or orange and flickering. Soot build-up or yellow flames are an indication of poor combustion, so if you see any signs of either, call a professional technician to fix the problem.
Next, turn the thermostat back down and let your furnace cool. For extra safety, turn off the circuit breaker that provides power to your furnace. When the furnace is finally cool, remove the sides and use a vacuum with a long nozzle to get rid of any dust that may have accumulated. Use a damp rag to clean the blades of the blower fan and any other areas the vacuum can’t reach. While you’ve got the sides off, check to see if your blower fan has oil cups at the ends of the central shaft (some pricier furnaces are sealed units and don’t need oiling). If there are cups there, give them a few drops of oil.
An electric motor and a fan belt drive many blower fans, while some are direct drive and don’t use a fan belt. If your blower does have a fan belt, check its condition and tension. The underside should be free of cracks, but over time, age and heat will dry out the rubber belt and cause cracks. If there are cracks in the belt, replace it with one of the same size.
Checking the tension of the belt is as simple as pushing down on it. There should be about half an inch of play in a properly adjusted belt. If you have more or less movement than that, adjust the tension by loosening the electric motor mounts and moving the motor to create the proper tension.
Reattach the furnace panels, and turn the circuit breaker back on.
Finally, changing your furnace filter once a month during heating season is a good maintenance practice. So when you’re doing your furnace tune-up, get ready for the season by installing a fresh filter.
Now your furnace is ready for “Old Man Winter.”
Combustion creates carbon monoxide (CO), a colorless, odorless gas that can be deadly. Normally the CO produced by the combustion in your furnace is exhausted up the chimney and out of your home. However, a furnace that is out of adjustment can leave CO in your home. You can help protect yourself from CO poisoning by installing a carbon monoxide detector in your furnace room. If the detector indicates any buildup of carbon monoxide at any time, shut the furnace down and have it professionally inspected immediately.
While doing your own tune-up will help keep your furnace running efficiently, a professional inspection and tune-up every few years is still a good investment. The pros are the people who have the skills and equipment to ensure that any parts that might degrade over time are still functioning properly.
If you have any questions or concerns feel free to call your friends at Green Apple Mechanical NJ toll free at 888-611-7191
HOME HEATING IN AMERICA
For the first 100 years home heating in a heavily forested America was dominated by biomass (wood) and it was not until 1885 that the nation would burn more coal than wood. Prior to 1885 the majority of homes in America were heated with wood burning brick fireplaces and derivatives of the cast iron Franklin Stove invented in 1742.
By the end of the 19th century the invention of low cost cast iron radiators would bring central heating to America’s homes with a coal fired boiler in the basement delivering hot water or steam to radiators in every room. At about the same time, in 1885, Dave Lennox built and marketing the industry’s first riveted-steel coal furnace. Without electricity and fans to move air, these early furnaces transported heat by natural convection (warm heated air rising) through ducts from the basement furnace to the rooms above. These two methods would dominate home central heating until 1935, when the introduction of the first forced air furnace using coal as a heat source used the power of an electric fan to distribute the heated air through ductwork within the home.
Shortly thereafter, gas and oil fired versions of forced air furnaces would relieve the homeowners from the chore of “stoking the coal fire” and relegate coal furnaces and cast iron radiators to the dust bin of history. Fast forward to today and about 60% of our homes are heated with gas fired forced air furnaces(FAU’s) and another 9% with oil fired FAU’s. In warmer climates, a quarter of our homes would be heated by FAU’s using electric “heat pumps” to supply both heating and cooling energy.
AIR CONDITIONING AMERICAN HOMES
The cooling of America’s homes follows a different timeline closely intertwined with the development of electricity as a means of delivering useful energy to our homes. In 1882, the first coal fired electric power plant opened in New York city delivering enough power to light 11,000 light bulbs and marking the beginning of the end for gas and kerosene lamps.
In 1886, Schulyer Wheeler invented the electric fan, which would become the primary tool for home cooling comfort until the post WWII economic boom.
In 1902 Willis Carrier would build the first air conditioner to combat humidity problems inside a printing company and in 1917 the first documented theater to use air conditioning made its debut at New Empire Theatre in Montgomery, Alabama. Between 1928 and 1930 the Chamber of the House of Representatives, the Senate, the White House, the Executive Office Building, and the Department of Commerce would be air-conditioned.
By 1942 the nation’s first “summer peaking” gas fired power plant would be built to accommodate the growing daytime electrical load from industrial and commercial air conditioning. However, residential air conditioning would remain a luxury item for the wealthy until the post WWII economic boom.
The early 1950’s would see the introduction of residential thru-window and central air conditioning systems. By 1953 room air conditioner sales would exceed one million units and by 1998 shipments of unitary air conditioners and heat pumps set a record of more than 6.2 million units.
Unlike the impact of the relative convenience of central heating, air conditioning would have a profound influence on both building design and population migration and development. The air conditioner’s widespread adoption would eliminate front porches, wide eaves and high ceilings from production housing and usher in the ranch house, “picture” windows, and sliding glass doors. Together, the inventions of central heating and air conditioning coupled with cheap and apparently abundant fossil fuels would free building designers from considering the external environment and allow them to use brute force heating and cooling solutions to overcome building designs totally inadequate for their local climates. Air conditioning alone would make possible the explosive post WWII growth of Sunbelt cities like Houston, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Atlanta, and Miami. These cities would owe their very existence to the invention and continued use of air conditioning. Air conditioning would also change our national patterns of living, turning us into 7/24 shoppers and gamblers trapped in giant malls and casinos without windows or any sense of time or place.
“Before air-conditioning, American life followed seasonal cycles determined by weather. Workers’ productivity declined in direct proportion to the heat and humidity outside — on the hottest days employees left work early and businesses shut their doors. Stores and theaters also closed down, unable to comfortably accommodate large groups of people in stifling interiors. Cities emptied in summers … Houses and office buildings were designed to enhance natural cooling, and people spent summer days and evenings on porches or fire escapes. They cooled off by getting wet — opening up fire hydrants, going to the beach or diving into swimming holes.” – National Building Museum
We would become a nation that spent over 5% of it’s gasoline consumption just to keep cars air conditioned while we drove from our air conditioned homes to air conditioned offices, factories, and shopping malls. Today, about 20% of the electricity generated in the U.S. is required to cool our buildings, most of the nation’s natural gas “peak demand” power generating capacity was built to satisfy air conditioning demands, and 70% of our GNP is dependent on the air conditioned “consumer”.
For all your HVAC needs call your friends at Green Apple Mechanical toll free at 888-611-7191
As the winter months press on and the cold temperatures stick around, many homeowners will start to rely on the myths and fables they hear to reduce their utility bills, or warm their home. Don’t be fooled by heating myths. Green Apple Mechanical NJ has four myths homeowners should be aware of during the cold winter months.
Myth: Reduce the heating bill by closing vents and registers.
Most newer model homes have forced-air heating systems, which balance pressure to equally distribute heat throughout the home. By closing off vents and registers the balance is thrown off causing the heating system to work much harder to heat the home.
Myth: Your house will heat up faster if you set the thermostat higher.
Heating systems deliver air at the same constant rate no matter how high the heat is set. If it is cold and the thermostat temperature is set to 80 degrees to “quickly” warm the house, you will find the heating system will just run at the same rate until it reaches the desired temperature.
Myth: Adjusting the thermostat while gone won’t do anything for your bill.
The warmer you keep the house, whether in it or not, the more your utility bills will cost. Reducing the temperature while you are out can significantly reduce the utility bill. According to experts, the ideal home temperature in the winter is 78 degrees. Setting the thermostat to 74 degrees can reduce the monthly heating costs by 32 percent because less energy is being spent on keeping the home at 78 degrees.
Myth: Cold floors are a part of winter.
A cold kitchen or bathroom floor during winter may be because your home is not properly insulated. Homes should be able to keep warm air in and cold air out during the winter months. If your floors are abnormally cold, check for air leaks around windows, doors and ductwork. It may just mean that you need to seal your home to reduce the cold drafts from occurring.
If you have any questions or concerns feel free to call your friends at Green Apple Mechanical NJ toll free at 888-611-7191
- gas leaks
- water heater
- furnace boiler
- gas grill
- combustible products
- glass containers
- cooking flour
. . . and we will be discussing what you can do to prevent explosions from each one of these.
While explosions from gas leaks are fortunately not very common, their impacts can nonetheless be devastating. To prevent an explosion from leaks of natural gas or propane, everyone in your home should be familiar with the smell of gas. Your gas company should be able to give you a “scratch & sniff” card to help you learn this distinctive odor. You should also have all of your gas appliances serviced and inspected each year by a trained professional. And you should consider installing a gas leak detector, especially if anyone in your home has trouble identifying smells.
It is important to note that if you ever suspect that you have a gas leak, that you should immediately leave your house, and do NOT touch any electrical switches and do NOT use your home phone or cellphone until you are a safe distance from your house. The reason is that even the slightest electrical connection can touch off the gas, and trigger an explosion.
A water heater tank that is over-pressured can generate tremendous force when it explodes. To prevent this from happening in your home, you should have your water heater serviced once a year by a trained professional. And you will want to check with them to be sure that you have a relief device installed on your unit that protects both against excessive pressure AND excessive temperature. Also, to be safe, you should have your pressure and temperature relief valve replaced every 3 years. And if you ever adjust the temperature limit on your water heater, be sure to never allow it to exceed more than 212 degrees Fahrenheit.
Similar to a water heater, if your home has a furnace boiler for creating hot water for your heating system, then you will want to take similar precautions to what we just described for water heaters.
6,000 gas grill explosions occur every year, causing severe injuries and sometimes deaths. To prevent you or your family from being part of this statistic, you should read all safety instructions before using your grill. You should do routine maintenance inspections, and replace any damaged parts immediately. Also, do not use a propane tank if it is dented or damaged in any way. And do not store your propane tanks near any heat sources, nor carry a propane tank in your car trunk on a hot day.
The next cause of too many explosions in the home is from combustible household products. You should be aware of which products that you use in your home are flammable, and be sure to store these combustible liquids, sprays and powders in cool locations. And you will want to be sure that these storage areas are very well ventilated, so that you don’t have a chance of fumes building up. Although it may be convenient, you should never store any cooking spray, flammable insect repellants, or any other combustible products near your stove. And get rid of any dented cans or damaged containers for any flammable products.
A frequent cause of eye damage in the home is from explosions of glass containers. To prevent glass container explosions, never shake carbonated liquids that are in glass bottles or containers. And especially keep carbonated beverages that are in glass containers away from children, who may shake or run with them. Also, before you use any glassware in your microwave or oven, you will want to be sure that they are a type of glass which is made for this use. Do not leave glass containers on stove burners, and never put glass containers of liquid in a freezer (unless they have very high alcohol content, which lowers the freezing point).
And lastly, cooking flour dust is highly flammable, and so you should avoid creating flour dust clouds around any heat sources in your kitchen, and you will want to especially keep open flames (such as candles, gas stove burners, cigarettes, etc.) away from your flour when preparing your baking.