Basements can be tough to keep warm.  Warm air rises and the insulation of the ground on three or four sides of a home keep the space MUCH cooler.  Adding return air vents can help the balance of air flow however it likely will not help increase the basement temperature and can also detract from the effectiveness of cooling the upstairs of the house.

The best thing to do is to ensure the joints are sealed properly and insulate the exposed pipes in the basement to make sure as much cool air as possible goes upstairs.  Another option is to add a small electric heater in the space.  This is recommended in cooler months so as not to detract from cooling the rest of the house in warmer months.

The Life Of An HVAC: How Long Do Heating & Cooling Systems Last?

Heating and cooling systems don’t last forever. It’s a bummer, we know! It would be nice if we never had to worry about replacing them, but there comes a day and a time when every system—no matter how well maintained—has to be put out to pasture.

But when is that day and time? Take a look at this handy chart to find the average lifespan of each type of system:

  • Furnace: 15 – 20 years
  • Heat pump: 16 years
  • Air conditioning unit: 10 – 15 years
  • Tankless water heater: 20 years
  • Electric or gas water heater: 10 years
  • Thermostat: 35 years (but usually replaced sooner due to technological improvements)

Learn more:




Check Your A/C Unit
Don’t wait until the first heat wave to have your cooling system checked. Spring is the best time to make sure your unit is ready to keep you cool all summer long.

Clean or Replace Your Siding
Clean siding with a pressure washer to keep mold from growing. Make sure no paint is peeling or any wood is showing through and sand and apply primer coat before repainting.

Check Your Roof for Damage
High winds, snow and ice buildups can cause damage to shingles, flashing and even cause damage to the interior infrastructure of your home. Performing regular roof inspections can help identify issues prior to them becoming potentially major problems.

Reseal Your Window Edges
The winter snow and ice can cause window sealant to crack, break or completely fall away. Before the spring rain hits, reseal the exterior of your windows with a high-quality polymer.

Replace Damaged Screens
Unfortunately, spring showers bring along insects and if there are holes in your screens, your home can become a perfect place for them to nest. Screes can be patched or replaced fairly easy.

Seal any Accesses Under Your Home
If you have any openings beneath your home, you could be inviting a number of animals to come in and nest, which could lead to torn insulation, broken pipes and faulty wiring.

Prune Landscaping
Cut back and trim all vegetation and overgrown bushes from structures before they cause damage to your home’s siding, roof, and windows.

Check Your Lawn Equipment
Make sure your lawn mower and trimmers are ready for summer use. Sharpening the blades now will make your yardwork much easier.


Change the Air Filter
Continue to change your air filter every one to three months so your cooling system will continue to run efficiently and keep the air in your home cleaner.

Adjust Your Ceiling Fans
Change the direction your fan rotates. During the spring and summer, ceiling fans should rotate counterclockwise when looking up. This creates a downdraft that makes you feel cooler.

Check Your Attic
Check your attic for proper ventilation and birds’ nests. Make sure there are no obstructions over vents, or any wet spots on the insulation.

Test and Replace Batteries in Smoke Detectors
Smoke detectors should be tested monthly, and the batteries should be replaced every daylight savings time.



Clean Gutter and Downspouts
Make sure gutters and downspouts direct water away from the house. It will ensure proper flow of water from the roof and the home’s foundation and help prevent damage to your landscaping and siding.

Check Your Lawn Sprinklers
Look for leaky valves, exposed lines, and improperly working sprinkler heads.

Have Your Septic Tank Inspected
Having annual inspections will prevent costly and messy sewer backups.

Flush Out Your Drain Waste and Vent System
Plumbing air vents prevent sewer gases from entering the home and allow wastewater gas and odor to escape so it’s important to keep them clean and clear.

Check Outside Faucets

Make sure there is no freeze damage. If the flow of water stops by placing your thumb over the opening, you most likely have a damaged pipe inside the home. 


Check for Plumbing Leaks
After the last winter freeze, check your water meter for leaks. Main culprits for leaks are toilets, outdoor spigots, irrigation systems and pipes on exterior walls.

Consider Adding a Backup Sump Pump
Of course make sure your sump pump is functioning properly and consider adding a battery operated back up in case the electricity goes out. This could save you thousands in water damage.


Before You Call

Sometimes there is a simple solution to fixing a heating or cooling system. If your air conditioner or heat isn’t working, use the checklist below to troubleshoot common problems. If your system still isn’t working, or if you’re unsure or uncomfortable troubleshooting, give us a call!

Atlas Butler is the home of the Same-Day Comfort Pledge. Call us anytime, day or night, weekends or holidays, and a technician will be out to get you up and running the same day without any after-hours or overtime service fees.

My air conditioner isn’t working.

  • Check the thermostat. Make sure it is set to “cooling” or “auto” and set to the desired temperature.
  • Check the air filter. A dirty air filter can reduce the airflow coming out of the register. Replace with a new, clean filter.
  • Are all registers open and unobstructed?
  • Check the power switch near each unit. For an indoor unit, the switch should be near the unit. It should be clearly marked, but it may look like a regular light switch. If it’s off, turn it on.
  • Check the fuse in the circuit breaker.

My heat isn’t working.

  • Check the thermostat. Make sure it is set to “heating” or “auto” and set to the desired temperature.
  • Check the air filter. A dirty air filter can reduce the airflow coming out of the register. Replace with a new, clean filter.
  • Are all registers open and unobstructed?
  • Check the power switch near each unit. For an indoor unit, the switch should be near the unit. It should be clearly marked, but it may look like a regular light switch. If it’s off, turn it on.
  • Check the fuse in the circuit breaker.
  • If you have a gas furnace, check that the gas service has not been terminated. Gas companies will turn off service if a leak is detected, sometimes without notice.
  • If you have a gas furnace, make sure the gas control valve to the furnace is open.
  • If you have an older gas furnace with a pilot light, make sure it is lit.
  • If you have a newer gas furnace with electric ignition, check the display. The panel should have an explanation of the codes on the display.

Getting Ready To Turn Your A/C On? Wait Just A Minute!

The first day that heat gets turned off and the air gets switched on really should be a national holiday—the true last day of cold weather. But before you run to the thermostat to celebrate the arrival of summer, there are few things you need to do beforehand to ensure that your A/C unit works all summer long.

Check The Condenser. Walk outside and look at your air conditioning system’s outside unit, called the condenser. Did you put a cover on it for the winter? If so, take it off. Next, move any nearby objects at least 18 inches away. Finally, remove debris by using a hose with a nozzle to spray the coils at a 45-degree angle.

Change The Filter. Walk back inside and change the filter. You should install a new filter before you first turn on your cooling system, and filters should be changed monthly during the summer. Regularly changing the filters is one of the best things you can do for your A/C. It can save you a lot of money and hassle down the road.

Close The Basement Vents. It’s not crucial, but it’s a good idea to close the vents in the basement and concentrate the cool air on the warmer upper levels of your home.

Turn It On. This is it, the moment we’ve been waiting for! Gather the kids around the thermostat, regale them with fond childhood memories about grandpa turning on the A/C for the first time every year, and as soon as the anticipation reaches a fever pitch, turn that sucker on!

Check For Abnormal Noises. As every parent knows, there’s just as much work after Santa comes as before. Fortunately, you’re not staring down drifts of wrapping paper and a mountain of dishes today. All you have to do is walk outside and make sure the fan is spinning, and then walk back in and make sure everything sounds normal. If it doesn’t, turn the system off and call a professional.

An annual tune-up and cleaning can go a long way in keeping your system running worry-free all summer, and it can save you in future repair costs as well. Contact Atlas Butler to schedule your tune-up today.

Are You Using The Right Filter?

The air quality inside your home can play a large role in the health of your family, and better air quality starts with a better filter. Over the last decade, technology has made filters better and more efficient, but it’s also made choosing the right one even more confusing. Read on for a brief primer on the different types of filters available.

Fiberglass filter. While fiberglass filters are the most common, they’re not the best choice. Sure, they’re cheap, but they remove less than 10 percent of pollutants—they’re throwaway filters that mostly just throw your money away.

Polyester and pleated filters. Both of these filters work similarly to fiberglass filters, but they remove much more debris for just a little more money.

Washable filters. Most pros will tell you not to bother with these types of filters. They’re expensive, they require a lot of work to keep them functioning, and they don’t do a great job of keeping your air clean.

High-efficiency filters. Known as HEPA (high-efficiency particulate arrestance), these filters are great at trapping mold, dust, and other particulates. They’re most commonly found in commercial buildings.

Atlas Butler offers indoor air quality assessments and a wide range of solutions for every budget. Click here to schedule an assessment of your home today.

What’s Your Home Efficient At, Saving Energy Or Wasting Money?

Who doesn’t want more efficiency in their life? More efficiency at the gym, more efficiency with email, more efficiency with your to-do list. But there’s one thing that you physically can feel the efficiency, or lack thereof—your home’s energy consumption.

An inefficient house leaves you sweltering in the summer and shivering in the winter, and it leaves your wallet drained all year long. Fortunately, there are four steps you can take to make your home more energy efficient.

Go green, literally. Plant trees around your home, particularly on the west-facing side. During the warmer months, leafy branches will block the heat-producing infrared radiation, and during the colder months, the bare branches will let that heat in.

Screw in a new light bulb. Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) can save 75 percent of the electricity used by incandescent lights. These new energy-saving light bulbs cost just a little more, but they’ll save you much more money than the extra cost.

Do laundry smarter. Does your laundry machine have a medium setting? While it seems like an energy saver, in reality it’s not. The medium setting uses more than half the energy and water as the full setting. Wait until you have a full load. And when you do wash the laundry, don’t use the high temperature setting unless your clothes are very soiled. Water at that temperature is not much better at cleaning clothes, but it’s much better at sapping energy.

Schedule an energy audit. Professionals have specialized tools and skills to show you exactly where and how your home is losing its energy, and they’ll provide the solutions that make the most sense for your house and budget. Contact Atlas Butler and schedule an energy audit today.