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.

Home Heating System Tips When You’re Away for the Holidays

Your home heating system is one of your biggest investments, and it’s probably also one of your biggest worries, especially when you’re away from home.
Whether you leave for a day, a weekend or a week or longer, you can alleviate these worries by taking steps to secure your heating system and your home before you leave. Follow this five-step process and you’ll find peace of mind so that you can enjoy your winter respite. It’s really that simple.

Make a list and check it twice to ensure that you:

  • Make an appointment for your fall maintenance checkup, if you haven’t done so already. Better to have any minor glitch found – and repaired – before you leave town than to risk a malfunction or breakdown while you’re away.
  • Lower your thermostat but keep the heat on while you’re away – say, from between 50 and 55 degrees. Set your thermostat fan to the “on” or “run” setting to keep the flow of warm air continuous and even.
  • Leave the cabinet doors in your kitchen and bathrooms open so that the pipes are exposed to heat.
  • Replace your furnace filter for good measure. (Remember your peace of mind; it’s worth the cost of a filter).
  • Leave the name and phone number of a heating system service company like “Green Apple Mechanical NJ” with a trusted neighbor – just in case.

With one of your biggest investments protected, you can take other measures to safeguard your home before leaving home this winter:

  • Shut off the main water valve to prevent flooding.
  • Close your chimney flue and damper.
  • Turn your water heater to the “vacation” or “pilot” setting so that you’re not heating water you don’t need. On a gas unit, the control is usually located at the bottom; an electric water heater can be turned off at the main electrical panel.
  • Unplug all of your appliances, except for the refrigerator, to protect against surges in the event of a violent storm while you’re away. And it bears repeating: Don’t just turn off computers and laptops; unplug them to protect them against lightning strikes.
  • Unplug your garage door opener so that no one can enter your home through the garage door or an adjoining door.
  • Lock all your doors and windows – and check them twice to be sure, even on the second floor. Insert a sturdy pole in the track of all sliding doors.
  • Close all your window treatments.
  • Take the extra precaution of hiding any valuables. Remember that a master bedroom is usually the first place thieves will raid, so you should either have a thoroughly secret hiding place there or secure jewelry, cash and other items in a safety deposit box.
  • Affix timers on several lamps on both the upper and lower levels of your home to give the impression that someone is still there.
  • Put a hold on your mail rather than let it pile up while you’re away.
  • Ask that trusted neighbor to train an eye on your home and even park in your driveway periodically to give the impression that you’re still at home.

If you’re already feeling calmer about leaving home, just imagine how relaxed you’ll feel while you’re away. If you have any heating system issues now or while you’re away for the holidays, contact Your friends at “Green Apple Mechanical NJ”  at 888-611-7191.

Furnace Isn’t Working? 3 Things You should Check

My Furnace Isn’t Working – 3 Things You Can Check

Here “Green Apple Mechanical NJ” we get a lot of phone calls throughout the winter from people who say, “My furnace isn’t working”.  More often than not we need to send one of our  highly trained technicians out to diagnose the problem, because it’s nearly impossible to do so over the phone.  From time to time, however, the problem can be resolved without even sending someone out to your home.  Here are 3 things you can check that might be causing your furnace woes.

Thermostat Batteries

One of the most common issues that people don’t realize can cause your furnace to malfunction is having old batteries in your thermostat.  We recommend you change your thermostat batteries at least once a year.  Obviously if you’re batteries are dead your thermostat won’t work at all.  What you may not know is that when there is just barely a little juice left in your batteries they might keep your thermostat lit up but can still cause it (and your furnace) act strangely.  If it’s been over a year since you’ve changed your thermostat batteries try popping in some new ones and that may solve your furnace issues.

Tripped Breakers

Occasionally your breakers can trip and cut off power to your furnace.  This is pretty simple to check and fix.  Just go to your breaker panel and find the breaker labeled “furnace”.  Flip the breaker to the off position and then back to the on position.  If this fixes your problem you may want get an electrical inspection and/or furnace inspection done to see what is causing the breaker to trip to begin with, otherwise you may experience the same issue again or it could even compound into bigger issues.

Furnace Switched On

This one is pretty self-explanatory; just check your furnace to make sure that it is switched to the on position.  From time to time you, a pet, or someone else from your house may have bumped the switch off without you even knowing it.  Again, this simple check could save you quite a bit of confusion on why your furnace isn’t working as well as a cold home. If still you are having problems call your friends at “Green Apple Mechanical NJ” at 888-611-7191

Fall is the Best Time of Year to Install Central A/C

The nights are beginning to cool and soon the winter heating season will be upon us. If you are looking to have central A/C installed in your home, now is the best time of the year for this type of project. Just as it is easier to find a good deal on a wood or pellet stove at the end of the heating season, fall is a good time to get a deal on an air conditioner. You can also find contractors who may be into the slow work season between summer and winter repair service.
Whole House Cooling
 
Central air conditioning is installed in many new homes that lie in areas that see intense heat and or humidity. Stepping into an air conditioned home from a muggy 90-degree day is indeed a relief. If you have an older home and have been using window units, a central A/C unit would be big improvement, for both convenience and efficiency. Central air conditioners are often more economical to run than many separate units installed in many rooms. The convenience comes with avoiding the seasonal installation and removal of these window units. If your home has a central forced air heating system, the installation of central air is a relatively easy task because the duct work and air handling fans that distribute the air are already in place. Adding a cooling coil into the existing air handling system saves the expense of a new or secondary air handler. Homes that have baseboard, radiant and other ductless systems will require a more involved A/C installation. If your home falls into this latter category, there are other options available that may prove less costly or intrusive to install.
Air Conditioning Basics
 
Conditioned air is air that has been “conditioned” this usually means that it has been cooled down. When air is cooled it also loses a lot of its humidity or moisture by the process of condensation. Lower levels of humidity in conditioned air allow our bodies natural cooling process of perspiration / evaporation to be more effective, and therefore make us feel cooler. Basic laws of physics and thermodynamics control how this whole process happens. Some people wrongly believe that air conditioners and refrigerators “make cold”, while in fact, they move heat from one place to another. In a refrigerator you can feel the heat that is removed from the inside by placing your hand near the outlet vent. In air conditioning, an evaporator coil removes the heat from the air that flows through it, this heat is then released somewhere else by a condensing coil. In split systems this condensing coil is usually located outside the home. Locating the condensing coil outside also minimizes the noise that accompanies the compressors and fans that these systems require.
New Ducts and Air Handlers
If your home is one that lacks a central forced air heating system, A/C can still be installed, it is just going to entail more work and expense. These costs will vary by the configuration of your home. Single story homes can be readily equipped from the attic, basement or crawlspace if present. Multi-story homes may need more complex ductwork to span the different levels or have redundant systems installed to be served from multiple areas. Obviously the more intrusive the work the greater the cost. The backs of closets often provide a “chase” that is used for running ductwork from a basement to a second floor. A large portion of the expense of these installations comes from new air-handling systems that are already present in existing forced air-heating systems.
Costs and Alternatives to Central Air
 
Retrofitting an older home can be complex. One alternative to a central system may be installing fixed wall units in just a few rooms. These work much like a window unit but do not need to be installed and removed each season. Cost for these systems run about $2500 per room, a central system can run $7000 to $8000 for a typical 3-bedroom home. Costs can vary by region so check with your local installers for your location. Designing your project based on costs, and impact to your home is something to do first. Ceiling fans by comparison are quite economical, with costs around $50 to $200. Home design can also play a role in heating and cooling, in the desert South West, adobe homes, which have been around for centuries, are naturally cool compared to other buildings. Super-insulated homes, earth sheltered and earth-bermed homes also have lower cooling requirements and may be completely passive in their cooling design. Evaporative coolers and whole house fans are other low cost options.
Should you retrofit this fall?
Ancient Romans ran cool water from aqueducts through the walls of some buildings to keep them cool. In more modern times people sat in front of fans and sipped iced lemonade to stay cool. When I was a kid growing up in the Midwest, we used to hide out in the basement in our home that lacked A/C to stay cool.  In Colorado, at 8500 feet, it rarely gets so hot that AC is needed, so they get by with a few open windows and ceiling fans. The cooling choices you make should reflect your home, your budget, and your lifestyle. If you are thinking about installing a central air unit call your friends at “Green Apple Mechanical NJ” at 888-611-7191

Keeping Your Holiday Guests Warm: Home & Furnace Maintenance

During the holidays, you can’t match the feeling of stepping out of the cold and into a loved one’s home. Now that the summer BBQs are over, it’s time to prepare your house for your fall and winter guests. Tune up your home heating systems with furnace maintenance and prepare the your rooms and fixtures for the upcoming chilly weather before a cold front hits.

Home Maintenance Tips

Reverse Your Ceiling Fan – Hot air rises. When you want to keep a house warm, reverse the way the blades turn on your ceiling fan. Have the blades turn in a clockwise motion to create an upward draft that forces the warmer air near the ceiling down into the living space. This trick has also been known to cut heating costs by up to 10 percent.
Seal the Cracks Around Doors and Windows – Gaps wider than the edge of a nickel along window and door frames let warm air escape from your home. Replace the weather-stripping around doors and windows as needed. If necessary, seal the exterior of windows and doors with silicone caulk, and use window-glazing putty if you need to seal the glass to the window frame.

Inspect Your Roof – Hire a roofing contractor to inspect your roof for shingles that are damaged, missing or loose. The roofer should also inspect the flashing shield around chimneys and vent stacks.
Clean or Change Your Air Filter – You use your home heating system the most during the fall and winter. Following the manufacturer’s instructions, clean and change the air filter to reduce the amount of dust in your home, improve its air quality and reduce energy costs.
Inspect Your Attic – If your home gets lots of icicles or ice dams during the winter this may be due to poor insulation in your home’s attic. Have a weatherization or home-energy auditor inspect your attic for air leaks.
Clean Your Chimney – A dirty chimney is a health and fire hazard. Before the cold weather hits, hire a sweep certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America to inspect and, if necessary, clean your chimney.

Furnace Maintenance Tips

Just as you would maintain your chimney and start the holiday season with clean air filters, it’s equally important to inspect your home heating systems with the help of a heating and air conditioning contractor. The furnace maintenance process involves:

Inspecting the Furnace and Heat Pump – The technician will ensure the components are clean, in good repair and do not leak carbon monoxide into the home.
Inspecting the Gas and/or Oil Connections – Connections that don’t work properly can cause health problems and are a fire hazard.
Inspecting the Electrical System – When electrical connections are tight, they promote the safe operation of your heating system. A technician will also make sure the system starts, operates and shuts down properly, and verify that the thermostat works well.
Inspecting the Heat Exchanger, Gas Pressure and Burner Combustion – When such elements are dirty or cracked, your system operates less efficiently and poses a safety hazard.

Verifying the Furnace Achieves Its Manufacturer-Rated Efficiency– If a furnace doesn’t work as efficiently as it should, you may be spending more money than necessary to heat your home. Reasons that a furnace may work inefficiently can include its age or a component that’s in need of repair or cleaning.
Don’t wait until the weather gets cold to maintain your home and furnace. The holiday months are the peak season for some contractors, and you don’t want to get stuck at the bottom of a list of 50 other homeowners who have the same emergency as you. Take action now to protect your investment so the only things you have to worry about are the baked goods in your oven for your guests.

Is your Heater Up for the Holidays?

A properly working heater is the key to a comfortable home this holiday season. Peak functionality also keeps your heating bills down, an important consideration when other costs climb around the holidays. To ensure you and your guests stay comfy and cozy while the wind whistles outside, perform the items on this checklist prior to the holidays.

Change the Air Filter

This is the first and one of the most important tasks to prepare your heater for winter. A dirty air filter blocks airflow, reduces efficiency and overworks the equipment. On the other hand, replacing the filter regularly promotes cleaner indoor air, lower your energy bills and helps your equipment last longer.
Plan to change the filter at the start of the heating season. Then, check it once a month during the winter and change it when it begins to appear dirty, waiting no more than three months between changes. Make sure you choose replacement filters of the proper size and efficiency for the best results.
If you run an electronic air cleaner in the winter, be sure to clean the unit’s air filter according to manufacturer directions.

Check for Gas Leaks

If your heater runs on natural gas, a leak could develop and create risk for you and your family. Before relying too much on your heater this season, inspect the furnace for worn or damaged connections. Be aware of natural gas odors. If you discover a problem – either with your eyes or your nose – call a professional for further investigation before you turn on the heater.

Check the Air Vents

Supply registers deliver heated air while return registers send cooled air back to the furnace for reheating. If these vents are blocked, heating efficiency declines and you tend to experience hot and cold pockets throughout your home. This can create great discomfort during a holiday get-together.
To promote better airflow and a more even temperature, walk around your home and check that all air vents are unobstructed. Move area rugs, reposition furniture and tie curtains back if necessary to allow for ample airflow.

Test for Proper Operation

Switch the dial on your thermostat to “Heat” and turn the temperature up a degree or two to trigger the furnace. Listen for any strange sounds coming from the heater or the ductwork. If you hear anything odd, it may be wise to contact a heating technician for a repair.
Place your hand over various registers in your home, including those located close to the furnace and those farther away. Make sure the air is plenty hot and exiting the registers with ample force.

Schedule an Annual Tune-Up

A complete furnace inspection includes other tasks that only a qualified technician should perform. That’s why the final item on your checklist should be to schedule preventative maintenance from Green Apple Mechanical NJ. We have the knowledge and experience needed to check fuel connections, test the gas pressure, clean the burners, inspect the heat changer, test system controls and more.
If you experience trouble with any of the items on this checklist, please contact Green Apple Mechanical to speak with a knowledgeable technician. Call your friends at Green Apple Mechanical NJ at 888-611-7191

Pros and Cons of an Electric Furnace vs Gas

At some point, you will probably need to replace your current heating system. If you live in a colder climate, you will probably choose some type of furnace over a heat pump because heat pumps do not perform as well as furnaces in cold climates. Once you have determined that you will purchase a furnace, you will next need to decide whether to purchase an electric or gas furnace. There are pros and cons associated with both types of heating systems.
Pros and Cons of an Electric Furnace
There are several pros and cons for purchasing an electric heating system. First, the purchase price of an electric furnace is generally lower than a gas-powered system. Your initial investment will be lower if you purchase an electric unit. However, the cost to operate the furnace will be higher than the cost of operating a gas unit.
Another pro of the electric system is that these systems are quiet and usually more durable than gas units. The lifespan of an electric furnace is between 20 and 30 years. The installation process is generally faster than with a gas unit. Therefore, an electric unit is often the choice for many homeowners because the household experiences only minimal disruption during the installation of the unit.
Maintaining an electric unit is very straightforward and does not require a great deal of effort. Many times, the homeowner is able to troubleshoot and resolve issues without the assistance of an HVAC professional.
Finally, electric units pose a lower risk to inhabitants of the home. Gas furnaces emit a low level of carbon monoxide and the homeowner must ensure that the unit is functioning properly at all times. Electric units do not need as much attention.
Pros and Cons of a Gas Furnace
A gas heating system is less expensive to operate than an electric unit. Natural gas is a cheaper form of energy than electricity and over the past few years, the cost of natural gas has actually decreased. However, a gas-powered unit will require a larger initial investment than an electric unit.
Gas heating systems generally heat the home faster than electric units. Gas systems tend to be more effective and efficient in very cold temperatures because gas systems will achieve a higher temperature than electric units in extreme temperatures.
Additionally, the lifespan of a gas unit is about half of that of an electric unit. The lifespan of a gas heating system is generally between 10 and 20 years. The installation process can be more involved than the installation of an electric unit.
Gas furnaces must be regularly and judiciously maintained. Because these heating systems emit a low level of carbon monoxide, the homeowner must ensure that the furnace is well-maintained for the safety of the home. Regular professional maintenance by an HVAC professional for your gas-powered furnace is essential.
If you have additional questions about the type of heating system that would be ideal for your home, contact “Green Apple Mechanical NJ” toll free at  (888) 611-7191 for more information.

Blast Levels New Jersey Home , Killing 1

An explosion in northern New Jersey that leveled a duplex “like a pancake” Wednesday and knocked a next-door neighbor out of bed killed one resident and left two other people in critical condition with severe burns, officials said.
In all, 14 people were taken to hospitals, including an 11-year-old who was one of the critically injured in the Elizabeth explosion, Mayor Chris Bollwage said. The names and ages of the victims weren’t immediately released.
A spokeswoman for the mayor said one person who was initially unaccounted for was later located and wasn’t in the home when the blast occurred at about 8 a.m. Wednesday, a spokeswoman for the mayor said.
The blast leveled the two-family duplex “like a pancake,” Bollwage said. Swarms of fire trucks and rescue vehicles crammed the street where the explosion occurred, a scant 100 yards from a busy corridor.
The explosion happened on the second floor, and the mayor described it as gas related. However, a preliminary investigation by Elizabethtown Gas hasn’t linked the explosion to a natural gas leak, said the utility’s spokesman, Duane Bourne.
The fire went out on its own. Bollwage and Elizabeth Fire Chief Thomas McNamara said that fact may have helped prevent the loss of more life and damage to neighboring buildings, which stand about 10 to 12 feet apart.
“There was a blast fire after the initial explosion, and we’re very fortunate we didn’t get a major fire afterward,” McNamara said. “It would have been a whole different ballgame. We would have had quite a few buildings involved, and the outcome for some of the people who were rescued wouldn’t have been the same.”
The blast damaged seven homes, and three will need to be demolished, Bollwage said.
Lisset Garcia, who lives about two blocks away, said she was in bed with her daughter when the explosion occurred.
“I heard a loud boom and the house shook a little,” Garcia said. “At first, I thought it was a small earthquake or something.”
Kayon Pryce, who owns the house next door, said the blast knocked him over.
“I got hit in the face by my TV set,” Pryce said. “The explosion actually tossed my bed upward, tossed me out of bed and knocked my phone out of my hand. I’m just happy to be alive.”
Pryce said he heard a woman next door screaming and saw her rescued by firefighters a few minutes later.
The Elizabeth Fire Department was assisted by about a dozen other fire departments, McNamara said. The investigation was continuing.

Who invented the Furnace?

Alice H. Parker was an African-American inventor who filed the first United States patent for the precursor to a central heating system. Parker was highly educated compared to most Americans during the early 1900s. She was a graduate of Howard University, a historically African-American university that accepted both male and female students since its founding in November 1866, shortly after the Civil War. While little is known about her life, her design for a heating furnace is a definite forerunner to what was developed decades later as a means of heating residential and commercial structures.
Parker was officially granted her patent on December 23, 1919, while she was a resident of Morristown, NJ. The drawings included in the patent filing show a heating furnace that was powered by gas. To heat an entire house, there were several heating units, each controlled by individual hot air ducts. The ducts were then directed to different parts of the building structure.
Although this design was never used in an actual structure, using gas to power a heating furnace was a revolutionary idea since coal and wood dominated at this time. This patent also marks the first time that a patent documents the idea that duct work could individually deliver heat to different areas of the house.