Summer may be rapidly approaching, but it certainly doesn’t feel that way yet. While our temperatures have not been soaring the way they sometimes can early in the season, the fact is that you should still have AC maintenance on your mind. In fact, you should have scheduled AC maintenance already. Don’t wait for the heat to strike before doing so. Get out in front of it if you really want to enjoy the full benefits of air conditioning maintenance.
Routine air conditioning tune-ups have a lot to offer, not the least of which is keeping the need for air conditioning repair in Clifton, NJ, at bay. Contact a member of our team today if you are ready to get your air conditioner in great working condition. Our Makes $ense Maintenance Program is just what you need to make air conditioning maintenance as simple and beneficial as possible. With our help, you can cool your home with well-earned confidence.
What if I Just—
If you were about to complete that sentence with “tune up my air conditioner myself,” then we’re glad that we stopped you when we did. Just because AC maintenance is a preventative service, just because it’s not an emergency situation like a broken down AC in July might be, does not mean that it is a job that you can handle on your own. Air conditioning maintenance is much more complex and involved than many homeowners seem to realize.
When we tune up your air conditioner, we really go over it with a fine-toothed comb. We’ll check refrigerant levels to rule out leaks. We test electrical components like relays and capacitors for proper operation. We clean coils and replace filters as needed. It’s just not the type of job that a nonprofessional can handle on his or her own.
Well, Maybe Next—
Yikes. We really don’t want to be rude here, but we’ve got to interrupt again. If you were about to suggest that you’d just wait for next year before scheduling routine air conditioning maintenance, you seriously need to reconsider. The longer that you wait to schedule professional maintenance, the greater the risk to your air conditioning system. Just consider the benefits of what maintenance has to offer.
Improved energy efficiency. When every component in your air conditioning system functions properly, it requires less energy to do its job. That saves you money when cooling your home!
Improved performance quality. An air conditioner isn’t really worth all that much if it doesn’t cool your home effectively and reliably. When properly maintained, yours will!
Improved equipment lifespan. When you invest in an air conditioner, that should be a long-term investment. If you fail to schedule routine air conditioning maintenance, however, your AC simply won’t last as long as it should.
Don’t take chances with something as important as your air conditioner or its performance. Let us get it back in fighting shape.
With no shortage of DIY articles on the internet, many homeowners take it upon themselves to try and fix their own problems in the home—including their plumbing. And that includes tracking down and fixing plumbing leaks.
However, we really can’t condone this strategy. Not only can it cost you more money in the long run, but it can also cause more damage to your property—you’ll be wishing you found a plumber from the very start.
But even with all that being said, we don’t believe in holding any information back. Knowing the signs of a leak could be what helps you prevent a major plumbing disaster in the home.
But First, Always Turn Off the Water and Call a Plumber
The best course of action is always to turn off the water and call up an expert of plumbing in West Orange, NJ. That’s because the worst thing you can do for a leak is to give it more time. More leaking water leads to a higher water bill and a higher potential for water damage.
It’s best to know where your water’s shut off valve is before an emergency comes up. That way, instead of panicking, you’ll know exactly where to go. They’re typically located outside in a box on your property, but location can vary depending on the home.
Signs of a Leak on Your Property
If you suspect that you have a leak on your property, here are some of the signs that can help you locate it.
1. Sounds of Rushing Water Behind the Walls
If a pipe bursts inside your home, there’s a strong chance that it occurred behind one of the walls. You’ll know it if you can hear the sound of running water, despite not using any water appliances for several minutes. You may even be able to follow the sound all the way to the source of the leak, at which point you might find…
2. Wet Spots in the Yard
If that leak occurs beneath the ground just outside your home, you’ll feel it when you walk over it. The ground will become spongey and saturated with the leaking water. In the event that it’s the sewer line that has broken, you’ll smell it before you even get close—make sure to call a plumber immediately since this can be a health hazard.
3. Hot or Cold Spots on the Floor
If you’re walking across tile or concrete flooring and find a spot that is abnormally cold or warm, it’s a strong indicator that you have a burst pipe beneath the ground. The temperature of the floor will be an indicator of which kind of pipe has broken and can help the plumber assess the situation.
4. Water Damage
Leaks behind walls tend to create water damage since the pipes are very close to the wall. You may see mold on the walls or baseboards, visible stains, peeling paint, or warping.
Think fast! Your reverse osmosis system just broke. Water is flooding all over your kitchen and spreading across the home. What do you do?
Hopefully, you would rush to the shut-off valve and turn off the water. But if you’ve never had the pleasure of having to use the shut-off valve before, it would be easy to panic and not know what to do.
In this post, we want to talk about two plumbing fixtures that are essential for emergencies. One is the water meter, and the other is the shut-off valve.
How to Find and Read the Water Meter
If you suspect a leak, the first place you should check is your water meter. If you don’t know what the water meter is, you might be able to guess that it’s a tool that measures the amount of water flowing through your home. Here’s what you should do if you suspect a leak:
Ensure that no water is being used in your house. That doesn’t mean you have to go turn those appliances off—just ensure that everyone knows not to use them in the minutes leading up to the test.
Check your meter to see if the indicator is moving. Some meters might show a dial or a rotating wheel. Either way, a moving meter means that water is moving, too.
You can then wait between 1 and 2 hours (still making sure not to use any water!) and double-check it to confirm.
Finding the water meter is going to vary depending on the household, but it shouldn’t be difficult. Try these two common areas:
Near the curb in front of your house. It will likely be contained in a box with a concrete or iron lid, which you can remove with a large screwdriver (watch out for spiders)!
Alternatively, it might be inside the home, such as in a basement.
So, if you’ve confirmed that you have a leak, you’ll want to know where the shut-off valve. That will cut off the flow of water into your home and stop the leak from incurring more expenses.
Likewise, if there’s a flood in your home—such as that from a broken toilet or reverse osmosis system—you should rush to the shut-off valve immediately. You’ll have no time to waste, so it helps to know exactly where yours is located.
Fortunately, shut-off valves are typically located right next to the water meter, so it shouldn’t be hard to find. However, that’s not a guarantee—you should check to make sure that it’s not located separately.
Keep in mind that automatic shut-off valves also exist. This is a device that will be able to detect changes in water pressure, like that felt from a leak or burst. The valve will automatically shut off even if you’re away on vacation.
Statistically speaking, you’re most likely someone who owns a storage tank water heater. And since you’re reading this article, you may be someone who is considering replacing their water heater with a tankless model. It’s not surprising that you are—tankless water heaters are touted for their efficiency and convenience.
Of course, before investing money into one of these devices, you should know whether all the claims are true. We can help you determine if a tankless water heater will truly serve you better than your current tank model.
Benefits Over Tank Water Heaters
By losing the storage tank completely, tankless water heaters are able to introduce a host of benefits to homeowners. This makes them especially popular for homeowners who want to open up more space in their home or want to practice more energy-efficient behaviors.
On-Demand Heating: Tankless water heaters only activate when the hot water tap is opened. Not only does this save money, but it means you can use as much hot water as you’re willing to pay for.
Smaller Appliance: A tankless model is a few feet tall and wide and can be affixed to the wall, inside or outside of the home. This frees up plenty of space from the garage and from the ground.
More Efficient: It takes a lot of electricity to keep a tank water heater hot. With a tankless system, you only need to worry about that energy being used during operation.
But Be Careful of These Drawbacks
We’d be lying if we said any one water heater was better than the other. A good plumber in Wayne, NJ will assess your home, your needs, and the demands of your family to determine what kind of water heater is best. During their inspection, they can tell you about all the factors you may not have considered, such as:
Family Size: Before installing any kind of water heater, you’ll need to know the size of the family and how that affects the demand for water. If they all tend to use hot water around the same time, you need to know that it uses a lot of power. If it’s too much, it might require another tankless water heating unit to meet the demand. Otherwise, it can overtax the system.
Upfront Costs: Tankless water heaters will eliminate standby heat loss, an inefficiency commonly experienced by storage tank water heaters. However, they’ll also be more expensive to install up front. Price can also change based on whether you decide to install a natural gas heater or an electric one.
Electrical Requirements: Using an electric model can be an environmentally friendly choice. However, you’ll need to consider how that fairs with your current electrical system. An appliance of this size might require that your home’s electric system be updated.
The Bottom Line
At the end of the day, the most important thing is whether your appliance of choice will be compatible with your home. We’ll be able to help you find out for sure if a tankless water heater is able to complement your lifestyle with its functionality and benefits.
There are many costs involved with running a heating system. Installation is just the first cost. After that, you’ll need to think about the cost to run it every month—this is where a high-efficiency model can really make a difference.
Then, there’s the cost of maintenance and repairs. We suggest getting annual maintenance in order to severely reduce the occurrence of repair issues. But even with maintenance, there’s a slim chance that the heater will suffer from a repair issue at some point during its life.
From a purely technical standpoint, that heater would have to be the radiant heating system. Allow us to explain.
But First, A Disclaimer
We can’t go on without mentioning that there are several reasons why a heating system might develop repair issues. There’s no guarantee that one kind of system will need fewer repairs than another.
Factors like the quality of the manufacturer, how often the system receives maintenance, and how frequently the system is used will all contribute to its overall lifespan.
Why Radiant Heating?
The reason a radiant heating system would need fewer repairs is because they’re incredibly simple.
For example, an electric in-floor radiant heating system consists of nothing more than a set of heating panels beneath your floor. As long as the connections stay in-tact, there’s no reason it shouldn’t be able to heat your home reliably for its entire lifespan.
Compare this to forced-air heating systems, such as heat pumps and furnaces. There are numerous components involved such as gas burners, refrigerant lines, blower motors, duct systems, and fuel lines. If one of these components stops functioning, it creates a chain reaction that severely reduces efficiency and might even prevent the system from running.
It Depends on the Type of System
Electric in-floor radiant heating is just one type of system. If you decide to use a different fuel source, the complexity of the system increases.
For example, a natural gas radiant heating system is cheaper to operate, but it requires the use of a boiler. Boilers still require fewer repairs than forced-air heaters, but they can develop issues due to their constant exposure to water. Otherwise, their operation is very similar: they both use in-floor components that heat your home in a similar fashion.
Choosing the right system will depend on how much you’re willing to invest in the installation.
Forced-air systems will be less expensive to install, but they have many more mechanical parts. Annual maintenance is essential to keep them running.
Radiant heating systems are much simpler, but their installation can be costly. After all, you’ll need to be prepared to rip up the floors or walls in your rooms to install them.
When it comes to choosing a water heater in Cedar Grove, NJ, the classic debate is usually about tank vs. tankless water heaters. One uses a tank, the other doesn’t.
However, things get complicated even further when a new challenger approaches: the heat pump water heater.
For now, tank and tankless will have to join forces against this new enemy as we answer the question: Which is better, traditional tank and tankless water heaters or a heat pump water heater?
What Tank and Tankless Have in Common
First, let’s get on the same page about what tank and tankless water heaters have in common. Without understanding this, we can’t possibly compare them against a heat pump water heater.
The main thing that these two systems have in common is their ability to heat water with electricity or natural gas. Other than that, they’re very different.
Storage tank water heaters store the water in their tank and then heat the water. The water is then distributed to the home when requested by the warm water taps.
Tankless water heaters create hot water on-demand, heating it near-instantly.
Despite the differences in how they prepare the hot water, the most important thing is that they both use a fuel source to warm the water up directly. This is what makes them fundamentally different from a heat pump water heater.
What Makes a Heat Pump Water Heater Different?
A heat pump water heater might not look all that different from a standard tank water heater. It also can use electricity, just like a tank or tankless heater. What makes them different is how they heat the water in the first place.
Understanding Heat Pumps
Heat pump technology is something that was first used in air conditioners. Air conditioners use a chemical called refrigerant to initiate a phase change between two sets of copper coils: one outdoors, and one indoors. As air passes over the indoor coils, it removes warm air. The warmth is transferred to the outdoor coil and is released into the air. The absence of warm air in your home makes you feel cooler.
A heat pump is an air conditioner that can reverse the flow of refrigerant. Instead of sending warm air outside, it can take warm air from outside and bring it indoors. This is the same process used by a heat pump water heater. The water is not heated by combustion or electrical resistance, but rather through this process of transference. Essentially, it “recycles” warm air instead of creating it from nothing.
Which is Better?
In terms of efficiency, the heat pump water heater is better. It can use electricity far more efficiently than a tank or tankless heater. The only issue is when temperatures get too cold—it might not be able to recycle enough warm air to heat the water. But if that does happen, a backup gas or electrical source can make up for the difference. Even with that downside, the amount of money you’ll be saving throughout the summer and through the mild winters will more than make up for it.
Of course, we don’t want to make any promises too soon—your home and situation might not be ideal for one of these water heaters.
Natural gas furnaces are one of the most common heating systems in our nation. Not only are they very effective heaters, but it’s just what people are used to—why install a different system if what they’re using already works?
But that logic doesn’t mean you should ignore potentially better systems. “Better,” of course, meaning better for the needs of the individual. Each heating system has its own range of features that may prove to be more beneficial than that offered by a natural gas furnace.
Some people just don’t want to use natural gas. That can be for safety concerns, an environmentally-conscious attitude, or simply due to limited access. Those people can still get the same style of heating, but they’ll need it in the form of an electric furnace. These furnaces are actually more efficient than gas furnaces, but the cost of electricity might make them more expensive to operate. If you want an easy and inexpensive installation, however, an electric furnace is the way to go.
For all the rustic charm of a traditional fireplace, they’re terribly inefficient. Modern fireplaces, however, are several times better. Whether you’re replacing an old fireplace or installing one brand new, you’ll have a choice between several kinds: gas, electric, pellet stove, wood burning… The important thing is that you have it installed by a professional to ensure that it is properly vented. Otherwise, this is an efficient and attractive means to heat your home.
These are classic heating systems. Those who swear by boilers say that forced-air heaters, such as furnaces, just can’t compare. Part of the reason for that is because boilers provide hydronic heating. Rather than heating the air and blowing it around, these systems heat the room through radiators. The general opinion states that this form of heating is far more comfortable, on top of being quieter and providing more even heating throughout the rooms.
Radiant Heating Systems
“Radiant heating” is the scientific name for a method of heating. Likewise, a “radiant heating system” is one that uses radiant heating as its main means of heating a room. These systems consist of tubes or electrical cables installed behind the floor, walls, or ceilings. Depending on which fuel source is used, they’re heated either by hot water or electricity. The heat that radiates from them is used to heat the room.
Although quiet and effective, these systems require an extensive installation process.
Heat pumps are forced-air systems that have both heating and cooling functions. A traditional heat pump is installed just like a central air conditioner—one indoor unit, one outdoor unit, and ductwork.
On the other hand, ductless heat pumps are also popular. These systems consist of multiple units—usually one for each room that you plan to heat or cool.
If your aim is to use an electric heating system, the heat pump might be your best choice thanks to its unmatched efficiency.
Heat exchangers are used in a variety of appliances, both industrial and in the home. The most familiar examples will be found in your refrigerator or HVAC systems, specifically in furnaces.
However, the type of heat exchanger we want to focus on is the one found inside your natural gas furnace. The heat exchanger is the most important component in your furnace, but if they develop issues, they need to be taken care of immediately.
First, What Is a Heat Exchanger?
According to its simplest definition, a heat exchanger is a device that transfers heat. And according to a more specific definition focused on HVAC products in the home, a heat exchanger is a device that turns combusted gas into hot air.
How it looks exactly will depend on the brand of furnace, but for the most part, heat exchangers consist of a coiled set of metal tubing.
Is the Heat Exchanger Dangerous?
Heat exchangers on their own are nothing to worry about. They’ll work silently and efficiently for the majority of their lifespan, but after several years, they can wear down and become dangerous. At that point, they make create the risk of carbon monoxide leaks.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, and poisonous gas that can endanger everyone in your household. It’s mandatory that you also have a carbon monoxide detector installed alongside your furnace in the event that a leak was to occur. When dangerous levels of carbon monoxide are detected, the alarm will go off, alerting you to evacuate.
How Does a Carbon Monoxide Leak Occur?
The main reason this may happen is due to cracks developing in the heat exchanger.
Heat can have a surprising effect on metallic objects such as the heat exchanger. The heat exchanger will expand when its heated, and then contract back to its normal shape as it returns to a normal temperature. This is all just part of its normal function in creating warm air for your home. However, this process can be taxing on the heat exchanger, making it brittle—enough that it may develop cracks after several years of usage.
From those cracks, fuel that is not completely burned—carbon monoxide—will be able to escape into your home.
The bad news is that cracks are inevitable—it’s just a part of how metal reacts to fluctuating temperatures. The good news is that heat exchangers are made to withstand this wear and tear for several years, typically giving you well over a decade of home heating without issue.
Can the Heat Exchanger Be Replaced?
Yes, the heat exchanger can be replaced—but it’s not always the best option. Simply replacing the heat exchanger is a lengthy process that can cost nearly $3,500. In some cases, it makes more sense just to have the furnace replaced, but there are exceptions.
If your furnace is younger than 10 years old and heats the home without issue, then replacement is your best bet.
If your furnace is older than 10, however, you’re better off with getting a new furnace installation in Cedar Grove, NJ. An aging furnace will simply not be able to give you the same standard of efficiency and comfort that it could when it was brand new.
Most homeowners opt for furnaces in Clifton, NJ. Their low cost of installation, operation, and ease of use makes them an obvious choice for the homeowner who knows only one thing: they need heat.
As the years go on, those same homeowners may learn about the benefits of systems like the heat pump. Depending on their needs and preferences, a heat pump may just be exactly what they need. So the question they must face is:
Keep the furnace, or switch to a heat pump?
The answer isn’t as straightforward as you’d expect, but we can help you make the right decision.
When to Replace
One of the biggest appeals of a heat pump is its ability to switch between heating and cooling. Getting ready for the season simply means flicking the switch. Of course, that means that you’ll no longer need a furnace or central air conditioning system. Therefore, you’ll want to consider the timing of your new replacement:
If you have a furnace, but no air conditioner, you’ll want to wait until the furnace is old enough to warrant replacement.
If you have a furnace and an air conditioner, you run the risk of replacing a system that is not quite old enough yet to warrant replacement.
However, a professional can help you get around this by calculating costs. If the cost to run your current AC and furnace is more expensive than the cost of a new heat pump, replacement becomes a far more logical decision.
Efficiency in Winter
Heat pumps can be just as efficient as furnaces in winter, if not more efficient. However, there is a caveat to consider.
Most brands of heat pumps are more efficient than furnaces in temperatures above 30°F. When temperatures drop below that, the heat pump may use an auxiliary heating system to help assist in heating your home. Since this uses a different form of electricity, it can be a bit more expensive.
However, other brands of heat pump have conquered this issue and can run efficiently as low as -13°F, without the use of auxiliary heating.
Regardless, the heat pump will always be more efficient than the furnace when outdoor temperatures are above 30°F, meaning you’ll still save more money on average in the day to day heat pump usage.
When it comes to the initial installation, the heat pump will require a bit more of an investment. This is especially true if you’re looking at ductless heat pumps, which consist of several individual air handlers. Each air handler is a separate cost.
However, if you do choose to install a ductless heat pump, it can greatly increase your efficiency.
The duct system is essentially a “middleman” between the HVAC unit and the rooms of the home. By removing the ducts, you no longer have to worry about the leaks, air quality issues, or unevenly heated/cooled rooms.
Plus, each air handler gets its own set of controls, meaning you can use energy far more efficiently when you only provide power to the necessary units.
When it comes to gas-burning heaters, they share several of the same components. Likewise, they also share several of the same common repair issues. We’re looking at gas furnaces and gas fireplaces in particular in this post. Since working with gas can be dangerous, always get in touch with a professional if you notice any worrisome problems.
When starting up your fireplace or furnace for the first time in the fall, it’s not uncommon for the burners to ignite dust, dirt, and pet dander. This creates a distinct odor that may circulate through the home for a few hours. Rest assured, however, that there’s no harm in this odor.
If this smell persists while using a gas furnace, it could be an indication that it’s time to replace the air filter.
In gas-burning appliances, it’s not uncommon for strange noises to follow—especially if you haven’t had regular maintenance performed on the system. Strange noises are almost always an indicator that something is wrong with one of the components in the system. It’s best to have it checked by a heating repair expert in Clifton, NJ than to ignore it.
Screeching or grinding: This could be due to a blower motor in need of repairs. Not all gas fireplaces have these blowers, and the modern ones that do are usually quieter than ever before.
Rumbling: If you hear a rumbling after the burners turn on, it most likely means that you need to have them cleaned.
Roaring: A pilot light with an improperly adjusted flame could be the source of a roaring noise.
Ventilation and Carbon Monoxide Risks
Ensuring proper ventilation is one of the most important parts of owning a gas-burning appliance. Without it, deadly carbon monoxide can leak into your home and endanger your family. Any home that uses these appliances needs to have carbon monoxide detectors installed in the home, but preventing the leaks from happening in the first place is always ideal.
Ventless Fireplace: While some gas fireplaces don’t use any vents at all, that doesn’t mean they can be carelessly operated. Some states have even outlawed these types of fireplaces because of the danger. But as long as you operate them properly, there’s little issue with them.
Vented Fireplaces and Gas Furnaces: These appliances will use a flue pipe to send any exhaust into the outdoors. And of course, fireplaces can be installed with a chimney to complete that aesthetic appearance, but one must always remember to open the flue or chimney damper before burning.
When gas appliances fail to operate, it’s almost always due to one of the various starting components. While not difficult to fix, they can become worn out over time and will need maintenance or replacement. At other times, it could be a simple operational issue.
Gas valve: If the gas valve is closed, you can be that there won’t be any combustion. Make sure that the valve hasn’t been shut off.
Thermopiles and Thermocouples: Which one you have in your appliance depends on its age, but they both essentially perform the same function—to ignite the gas. These parts can wear out with age or need adjustment.
Burners: A buildup of dirt can prevent the gas burners from firing properly.