Changing Furnace Filters

Cold weather has arrived and that means it’s time to turn on the furnace for the year. That doesn’t mean you can just set it and forget it. It’s important that you regularly change your furnace filters to make sure the unit operates efficiently during the winter; this will reduce the amount of dust that’s released into your home and keep your energy bills as low as possible. The good news is that changing furnace filters is an easy DIY project and rarely needs a professional assist.

You should follow your furnace manufacturer’s recommendations for how often to change your furnace filters, but a general guideline is to check the filter every 30 days and change it every three months. This is going to vary depending on the type of filter you use, its composition, and its thickness. Other factors can affect how often you need to change the furnace filter, such as if you have pets, smoke, cook a lot, or frequently burn candles. 

Here are some signs that your furnace filters need a change:

  1. You and your family suffer from more colds and other respiratory illnesses, coughs, sinus problems, and allergies. Dust and other debris get trapped by the furnace filter, and if allowed to build up, will be released through the ducts to circulate through your house.
  2. Your house seems a lot dustier. This is related to the problem mentioned above. Not only do dirty furnace filters lead to illness, but you’ll probably find yourself cleaning the house more because it gets dusty a lot faster.
  3. The furnace is running longer and longer cycles, but you don’t notice your house getting or staying very warm. Trying to force air through dirty filters makes your furnace work much harder, which can put a strain on other parts of the unit.
  4. You are seeing higher utility bills. It’s natural to see higher bills during the winter, but if they seem excessive, dirty furnace filters may be to blame. Try changing them and see if you notice a reduction in your monthly bills.
  5. Your smart thermostat or other device notifies you. Some smart thermostats and devices such as Google Nest can be programmed to let you know when it’s time to change the furnace filters. If you have the technology, let it prompt you.

If you are experiencing furnace problems and changing the filter hasn’t made any difference, give the service pros at Atlas Butler a call at 614-681-2167, or schedule online. A live person answers our phones 24/7, and we can usually get there the same day.

 

2023-01-20T16:19:35-05:00January 23rd, 2023|Furnace Maintenance, home energy efficiency, Indoor Air Quality|

Things to Consider When Replacing Your Furnace

Winter isn’t the best time to think about replacing your furnace, but it’s better to get it over with before the really nasty weather sets in. There are many considerations when planning for a new furnace and the team at Atlas Butler can help you choose the best system for the size of your home, the climate, your family’s lifestyle, and more. The good news is that modern furnaces are much more energy efficient and longer lasting, so your investment will soon pay for itself.

Key points when selecting a new furnace:

Age of your existing furnace. The lifespan of a furnace is 15-20 years and if yours is that old or older and is on its last legs, then be reassured that it has met or exceeded its predicted duration. If you moved into a house with an existing furnace and don’t know how old it is, snap a photo of the serial number and contact the manufacturer. Odds are pretty good that they will know. If the furnace is old, but still running well, just keep up with the maintenance.

Type of fuel. Furnaces primarily operate on natural gas, electricity, and propane and work by heating air and forcing it through your home via the duct system. Of the three, natural gas is the cheapest. Electricity is an option if you don’t want to run the risk of carbon monoxide exposure, and propane is a popular choice if you live in an area where access to natural gas and electricity is limited.

Variable-speed blower. A variable-speed blower helps you better control the flow of warm air throughout your home as opposed to single-speed blowers. Variable-speed blowers regulate the temperature, so it remains constant; whereas single-speed blowers spew out hot air at one time, then shut off. That’s where you have situations where it can be too hot, then too cold, which means constantly adjusting the thermostat. Most newer furnaces have variable-speed blowers, but if you have an older furnace, you can weigh the cost-effectiveness of upgrading the blower or replacing the furnace entirely.

Zoning systems. You can expand on the variable-speed blower concept by implementing a zoning system. This is achieved by having separate thermostats control different parts of your house. This maintains an even level of heating throughout your home, eliminating hot and cold spots. Dampers within the ducts can open and close, thus regulating the flow of warm air.

Thermostat. The thermostat is the command center of the furnace and that is the first place to check if you’re experiencing heating problems. There are signs that your thermostat is worn out if you experience short cycling, the furnace not turning on or shutting off, fluctuations in temperature, and higher-than-average heating costs. One solution is to install a smart thermostat. These thermostats can be programmed to turn on and off when you’re not home, adjust during peak usage times, and some models can even be programmed to remind you when to change the furnace filters.

If you’ve decided that it’s time to replace or upgrade your furnace, reach out to Atlas Butler at 614-681-2167. Our phone is answered 24/7 by a live person, and in most cases, we can schedule a same-day appointment. Don’t tough out the winter, be warm and cozy with a new, modern, energy-efficient furnace.

2023-01-19T11:15:09-05:00December 15th, 2022|Furnace Maintenance, HVAC Topics|

Tips for Dealing with a Leaky Furnace

It’s time to turn your furnace on for the cold weather season and when you go to the basement to change the filter, you discover a puddle of water. What? First, don’t panic. While a leaking furnace isn’t common, there are several causes for it. The first step is to determine which type of furnace you have. A high-efficiency (condensing) furnace will have white PVC ducts and a standard-efficiency (conventional) furnace has metal ductwork. High-efficiency furnaces heat for a longer period, so the gases cool, then condense, and the water goes down the drain. With a “regular” furnace, all gases are dispersed through the ducts, so there is no condensation, and therefore, no water.

A leaking furnace isn’t a major problem but can quickly turn into one if not promptly addressed. Water can rust out furnace components and increase the risk of mold in your basement. In addition. Water can damage the electrical components in your furnace which can cause much more serious problems, such as shorting out the circuitry.

Here are a few causes of a leaking high-efficiency furnace:

  • Blocked condensate drain hose. The blockage can cause leaking and pooling water.
  • Leaking condensate pump. If the condensate pump is blocked, water has nowhere to go and will leak from the furnace.
  • Faulty inducer assembly. Condensate travels to the inducer assembly through a condensate drain hose. If there is a crack in the inducer, it can leak into the furnace.

Some causes of leaks in conventional furnaces:

  • Water leak in the humidifier. If your furnace has a built-in humidifier, any breaks, cracks, or clogs in the humidier’s drainage lines can cause water to leak.
  • Drain pan damage. This is actually an AC problem. The purpose of the AC drain pan is to collect condensation and if there is a crack in it, water will leak out. Check the furnace when your AC is running to see if the water problem worsens.
  • Problems with vent pipes. The flue pipes carry gases out of the house. If these pipes are too big or have no slope, too much air gets in, gases get trapped, then cool and condensate, causing leaks.

If you notice water around the bottom of your furnace, call Atlas Butler at 614-681-2167. We’ll come out and check your furnace and diagnose what’s causing the leak. Our phones are answered by a live person 27/4 and in most situations, we can come out the same day. To stave off leaks and other furnace problems, schedule regular season system maintenance with us or join the Atlas Butler Comfort Club.

2022-11-01T14:20:24-04:00October 12th, 2022|Furnace Maintenance|

Common Winter Furnace Emergencies

Don’t let a furnace emergency leave you in the cold

Central Ohio is in the throes of winter right now, so the furnaces are cranked, but a winter furnace emergency can hit at the worst times. You want to make sure that your heating system is running properly and safely to get you through the cold months. Atlas Butler offers furnace safety inspections and tuneups along with maintenance services. To ensure peace of mind for you and your family, here are some common winter furnace emergencies plus some safety tips and action steps if you feel that your furnace is malfunctioning.

Carbon monoxide

Whenever you are dealing with a gas furnace, especially an older one, there is the risk of carbon monoxide leakage. That’s why it’s important to make sure your ventilation system is in good working order. That means that ductwork should be intact and not rusting and corroded. If you see water around the furnace area, that’s a tip that your furnace needs attention. Also, make sure that your home has working CO2 monitors.

Electrical issues

In addition to natural gas, your furnace is powered by electricity. Oftentimes, when you first turn your furnace on for the season, you may smell a burning odor. That’s usually dust burning off after the unit has been dormant during the spring and summer. However, if you smell a burning electrical smell while your furnace is in operation, shut the system and breaker off and call for service. If it’s an emergency situation, call 911.

Gas leaks

If you smell gas, evacuate immediately and call either 911 or the gas company. Once they have assessed the situation and determined it’s safe, then go ahead and call us. We’ll come out and figure out the problem and whether it’s in your furnace or your gas line.

Furnace isn’t running

There are a number of reasons that may cause your furnace to not kick on, but when its 5 degrees outside, none of those reasons really matter. You need prompt service from an HVAC company that will fix it right and get your home warm again. 

We Service Furnace Emergencies

Atlas Butler is available 24/7/365, including weekends and holidays and there are never any overtime or after-hours charges. We have proudly served Central Ohio for more than 100 years, and our clients can attest to our responsiveness and professionalism. Call us at 614-681-2167 to schedule an emergency furnace appointment.

2022-02-13T16:27:13-05:00January 27th, 2022|Furnace Maintenance, HVAC Topics|

How to Safely Supplement Your Furnace Heat

Tips for heating cold zones in your home

Winter made an early arrival in many parts of the nation, and this preview may have you thinking about how you’re going to keep your house warm when winter really sets in. Ohio winters can be unpredictable and harsh, so it’s a good idea to start planning for colder days now. If you have specific zones in your house that are cold, even when the furnace is running, you may want to look into some supplemental heating sources. The service team at Atlas Butler can help you prepare for winter by doing an inspection and tune-up of your furnace, as well as recommend supplemental heating systems.

Fireplaces

There is nothing more relaxing than a crackling fireplace in the winter. Fireplaces can help heat rooms as well as lend a cozy ambiance. Traditional wood-burning fireplaces require annual maintenance for safety and functionality, and the chimney also needs inspection and cleaning in order to avoid chimney fires. If you don’t have a fireplace in your house, there are ways you can “fake it.” Gas and electric fireplaces can also add heat without the mess and upkeep of their traditional counterparts. Wood-burning fireplaces can be converted to gas and as a plus, gas fireplaces actually add more warmth to your rooms. The downside is increased gas or electric bills, depending on which model you choose.

Space heaters

Space heaters often get a bad rap because they are one of the most prevalent causes of winter house fires. However, if you use common sense and take safety precautions, a space heater can be a satisfactory and economical source of extra heating for your home. There are various types of space heaters.

  • Convection space heaters are the most common, and they heat up and disperse air throughout the room, are fan-driven and run on electricity.
  • Radiant space heaters heat up the element itself and “radiates” heat; they are better suited for small areas. Filled space heaters run on electricity and are filled with a substance, such as oil. Once they heat up, they will warm the area for longer periods of time compared to other space heaters.

Pellet stoves

Pellet stoves are the next generation of wood-burning stoves. Depending on the size, one of these stoves can heat an entire house. They burn organic wood-based pellets that emit clean energy. Pellet stoves are often less expensive than fireplaces and are easier to install. The drawbacks are that they need ongoing maintenance, such as being filled and cleaned out on a daily basis. They also require annual servicing.

Keep Your Furnace Running Smoothly

The goal of supplemental heat sources should always be to supplement the heat that your furnace puts out – not replace it. If your furnace is not working properly, the supplemental heat will be less effective and cost you more. Atlas Butler has been proudly serving Central Ohio for decades, and we can make sure that your furnace is running properly.  Schedule an appointment to have one of our heating technicians take a look at your furnace or call us at 614-681-2167.

2022-04-27T00:57:18-04:00December 21st, 2021|Furnace Maintenance|

Tips For Keeping Your Heat Pump Running Year Round

Even though it’s called a heat pump, your heat pump plays a vital role in keeping your home comfortable all year round. In winter, a heat pump moves heat from one location to another, usually from the air or ground and transfers it throughout a house or building. During the late spring, summer and early fall, the heat pump operates in reverse and cools your home. It’s the same concept — except the warm inside air blows through refrigerant-filled coils and the cooled air is distributed throughout your house. Heat pumps are more efficient than traditional HVAC systems as they don’t have to heat the air in order to warm your house, and you also don’t need separate heating and cooling systems.

Keeping Your Heat Pump Running

Like any other major home system, in order to get the best performance out of your heat pump, you need to stick to a regular maintenance schedule; usually spring and fall. That’s where the HVAC professionals at Atlas Butler can help. We will assess your heating and cooling needs, help you choose the best heat pump for you home, and advise you on how to get the best performance from it year-round. If you haven’t had your heat pump serviced in a while, contact our team to schedule an appointment

Here is what type of heat pump maintenance is performed:

  • Check motors and capacitors
  • Check air ducts, coils, blowers and indoor coil to make sure they are clear of debris
  • Check air ducts and refrigerant levels for leakage
  • Make sure the thermostat is working correctly
  • Check all electrical components
  • Test all safety controls

Between maintenance visits, there are several things that you, as a home owner, can do to keep your heat pump in top shape:

  • Change your air filter every month
  • Make sure that indoor registers are free of dust and debris
  • Remove foliage and brush from around the outdoor unit
  • During the winter, keep the heat pump clear of snow and ice
  • Schedule regular maintenance

Another tip to ensure optimal performance from your heat pump is to install a programmable thermostat to maintain a consistent indoor temperature. Follow the manufacturer’s recommended settings, but a general rule of thumb is to not go below 70 degrees in the summer and below 65 degrees in the winter. The service team at Atlas Butler is very familiar with the climate in Central Ohio and can give you the best advice about your thermostat settings.

Considering a heat pump?

A new heat pump is a good investment because it will pay for itself over time through savings on your heating and cooling bills.  In addition, you only have the upkeep of one system to deal with, which reduces costs — and headaches! If you are thinking of switching to a heat pump, Atlas Butler installs energy efficient heat pumps. We have proudly served the Central Ohio for decades and can help you select the best heat pump to keep your home comfortable during the scorching summers and brutal winters. Our motto through the years has been “Strength Through Service,” and we stand by it today. Call us at 614-681-2167.

 

2021-12-09T11:53:29-05:00August 27th, 2020|Furnace Maintenance, home energy efficiency|
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