Oct 06

Heating Season is sneaking up…

Believe it or not, the weather will cool down before you know it and you’ll want your heating system to be working properly. Regularly scheduled maintenance by a professional is essential for keeping your system in top operating condition. Check out Energy Star’s maintenance checklist at the bottom of this article to see what your technician should be servicing.

Filters should be checked monthly, especially in times of high usage. Dirty filters can result in your system running inefficiently and raising your energy costs. Dirt and dust trapped in your system can also lead to expensive repairs if allowed to build up over time. Use the best quality filters for the best results.

Check your duct-work for cracks or loose seams where your heated air can escape. Seal all seams and connections with metal-backed or duct sealant (mastic) tape. You can then wrap ductwork with insulation to keep your ducts leak-free. Speaking of insulation, having the proper wall and ceiling insulation in your home can result in energy savings in both summer and winter. Both the U.S. Department of Energy and APS provide guidelines for proper insulation in specific geographic regions.

Check your condenser as well. First remove any grass, weeds or vines that may have grown up around your condenser, obstructing air flow. Also remove any leaves or other debris. Using a dry, soft brush, clean the exterior of the condenser to remove accumulated dirt. If you are reaching the fins, use care when brushing away dirt. Fins are lightweight and easily damaged. Don’t use your hose, as the dirt can turn to mud packed between the fins.

The concrete pad on which your condenser rests should be level. You can check this by setting a carpenter’s level front to back and side to side on top of the condenser. If you need to level your pad, you can pry it up slightly and fill underneath with a little gravel. These easy, common-sense measures will keep your home and your wallet comfortable this fall.

Maintenance Checklist

Maintain your equipment to prevent future problems and unwanted costs. Keep your cooling and heating system at peak performance by having a contractor do annual pre-season check-ups. Contractors get busy once summer and winter come, so it’s best to check the cooling system in the spring and the heating system in the fall. To remember, you might plan the check-ups around the time changes in the spring and fall.

A typical maintenance check-up should include the following.

  • Check thermostat settings to ensure the cooling and heating system keeps you comfortable when you are home and saves energy while you are away.
  • Tighten all electrical connections and measure voltage and current on motors. Faulty electrical connections can cause unsafe operation of your system and reduce the life of major components.
  • Lubricate all moving parts. Parts that lack lubrication cause friction in motors and increases the amount of electricity you use.
  • Check and inspect the condensate drain in your central air conditioner, furnace and/or heat pump (when in cooling mode). A plugged drain can cause water damage in the house and affect indoor humidity levels.
  • Check controls of the system to ensure proper and safe operation. Check the starting cycle of the equipment to assure the system starts, operates, and shuts off properly.

Cooling Specific

  • Clean evaporator and condenser air conditioning coils. Dirty coils reduce the system’s ability to cool your home and cause the system to run longer, increasing energy costs and reducing the life of the equipment.
  • Check your central air conditioner’s refrigerant level and adjust if necessary. Too much or too little refrigerant will make your system less efficient increasing energy costs and reducing the life of the equipment.
  • Clean and adjust blower components to provide proper system airflow for greater comfort levels. Airflow problems can reduce your system’s efficiency by up to 15 percent.

Heating Specific

Check all gas (or oil) connections, gas pressure, burner combustion and heat exchanger.

  • Improperly operating gas (or oil) connections are a fire hazard and can contribute to health problems. A dirty burner or cracked heat exchanger causes improper burner operation. Either can cause the equipment to operate less safely and efficiently.

Actions To Do Yourself

  • Inspect, clean, or change air filters once a month in your central air conditioner, furnace, and/or heat pump. Your contractor can show you how to do this. A dirty filter can increase energy costs and damage your equipment, leading to early failure.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.sterlingheating.com/blog/2015/10/769/

Sep 22

Would I Benefit from a Humidifier?

Humidifiers can augment and enhance your air conditioning unit by maintaining comfortable levels of moisture in the air. Most people are comfortable with humidity levels between 30% and 65%. In our area, that’s not usually a problem in the summertime when humidity levels are high. In the winter, however, humidity levels can drop severely as heating systems and furnaces dry out the air inside your house. In those situations, would you benefit from the addition of a humidifier in your house? Chances are, you will.

First and most importantly, a humidifier will help you maintain your personal health and comfort levels. Dry air can irritate the mucus membranes in your nose and throat, making you more vulnerable to colds and infections. Nosebleeds are not uncommon with low humidity, and people with asthma or allergies may notice their symptoms becoming worse. Low humidity can also damage furniture, wallpaper and other home furnishings: wood can contract when it becomes dry, leading to cracks in hardwood floors and wooden furniture.

A humidifier counters that by introducing water vapor into the air, mitigating the dryness brought about by your furnace or heater. In addition, it helps your body feel warmer and more comfortable, aiding the heater with its job and helping your system function more efficiently. Humidifiers list their capacity in gallons; a home between 1000 and 2000 square feet, for example, should use a humidifier with 8 to 9 gallon capacity.  A trained professional can find the right size humidifier for you, as well as explaining options such as hydrometers, which measure the moisture in the air.

If you’ve decided that you need a humidifier, call the experts at Sterling Heating & AC to talk about installation options. We have served the area for more then 30 years, and we have considerable experience in installing humidifiers into people’s homes. We can size your home for the right humidifier to meet your needs, then discuss your options for brands and models. Call us today to set up a consultation.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.sterlingheating.com/blog/2015/09/would-i-benefit-from-a-humidifier/

Aug 11

5 Types of Air Purifiers

4 different types of air purifiersCongratulations on your decision to invest in an air purifier! Air purifiers can significantly decrease the volume of dust, dander, dirt and even mold, germs, and viruses circulating through the air in your home. Eliminating indoor air pollution can improve the health of your family by reducing your likelihood of catching the cold or flu. If anyone in your home suffers from allergies or asthma, air purifiers can really be a godsend.

However, you should know that not all air purifiers are created equal. There are several different types of air purifiers; some have the ability to filter out larger particles like dander, hair, and dirt, while others trap teeny tiny particles like germs, viruses, odors, and mold.

This blog post describes the five most popular types of air purifiers. Which kind of air purifier do you prefer for use in your home?

A Honeywell UV air purifier

1. Ultraviolet Air Purifiers Ultraviolet (UV) air purifiers use ultraviolet light to remove potentially harmful viruses, bacteria, and pathogens from your home. The inspiration for UV air purifiers came from hospitals that use special ultraviolet lightbulbs to disinfect patient rooms and laboratories. Residential UV air purifiers are small, compact machines that filter the air in your home through a chamber filled with UV light. The UV light destroys pathogens by breaking molecular bonds in their DNA. Ultraviolet air purifiers can cost as little as $50 or as much as $800 depending on the model that you purchase.

Pros: Ultraviolet air purifiers like the Honeywell UV Treatment System, kill 99.9% of mold spores that pass through your furnace or air conditioner. UV air purifiers help prevent illnesses by destroying tiny micro-organisms like germs, viruses, bacteria and mold.

Cons: Some UV air purifiers produce ozone, which is a health hazard. UV air purifiers that do not include air filters cannot remove allergens, dust, smoke, fumes or gasses from the air.

A Honeywell HEPA air purifier

2. HEPA Air Purifiers HEPA air purifiers use an advanced air filter to remove 99.7% of all particles larger than 0.2 microns from the air in your home. That means that HEPA air purifiers are highly effective at removing particles like pollen, dander, mold, and dust from the air. HEPA air purifiers cost between $30 and $300 depending on the model that you buy.

Pros: HEPA air filters are a consumer favorite because they’re effective at removing the vast majority of irritating particles and pollutants from the air.

Cons: HEPA air filters must be replaced after every month of use. HEPA air filters cannot trap micro-organisms smaller than 0.2 microns like germs, viruses, and bacteria.

An activated carbon air purifier

3. Activated Carbon Air Purifiers Activated carbon air purifiers are effective at removing smoke, odors, fumes, and gasses from the air inside your home. People who are sensitive to odors or exposed to smoke or gas should consider an activated carbon air purifier. Most activated carbon air purifiers include HEPA filters that remove particles from the air as well. Activated carbon air purifiers are priced at $100 and higher.

Pros: Activated carbon air purifiers are the only type of air purifier that removes odors, chemicals, fumes, smokes, and gasses from the air.

Cons: Activated carbon air purifiers do not remove pollen, dander, dust, or mold from the air unless the model includes a HEPA air filter.

An ionic air purifier

4. Ionic Air Purifiers Ionic air purifiers are extremely quiet and operate without a motor. They emit negative ions into the air, which bond with positively charged, airborne particles like dust, making these particles so heavy that they eventually fall out of the air. Some ionic air purifiers have electrostatic precipitators that trap positively charged particles to a metal plate inside the air purifier. The price of ionic air purifiers range from $30-$300.

Pros: Ionic air purifiers can remove just about anything other than odors from the air. That includes dust, dander, allergens, smoke, viruses, bacteria, and fumes.

Cons: Ionic air purifiers cause air pollutants to fall to the ground – they are not actually removed from your home. Ionic air purifiers that have electrostatic precipitators must be cleaned regularly in order to maintain functionality and fully remove air pollutants.

An electronic air cleaner

5. Electronic Air Cleaners An electronic is a whole-home solution that works with your furnace or air conditioner to charge and trap airborne particles using static electricity.

Pros: Electronic air cleaners are effective at removing just about anything other than odors from the air. That includes dust, dander, allergens, smoke, viruses, bacteria, and fumes.

Cons: Electronic air cleaners are the most expensive type of air purifier because they are not portable and must be professionally installed. The filters must be replaced and ionizing wires or collector cells must be cleaned after every month of use.

Are you ready to invest in a cleaner and healthier home? Contact the professionals at the Ray N. Welter Heating Company for more information and advice about which type of air purifier is best for you.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.sterlingheating.com/blog/2015/08/5-types-of-air-purifiers/

Jul 14

How Does Central AC Work?

We pretty much just take the fact of central air conditioning for granted these days. It is present almost everywhere and it is hard to imagine getting through a long hot summer without it. But if you are like most people, you probably do not actually know how central air conditioning works. While you can certainly take advantage of it without understanding it, the basic concept is pretty simple.
Basically, central air conditioning systems are composed of an outdoor unit that typically houses the compressor and condenser and an indoor unit that manages the flow of air throughout your house or other building. This indoor unit is typically either an air handler or a furnace, and it directs the flow of air through a series of ducts that feed into the various rooms of the house.

The cool air originates in the outdoor unit and is blown into the house, gradually absorbing heat as it goes, and that air is then returned to the outdoor unit to be re-cooled. What actually happens in the outdoor unit involves the cycle of a type of refrigerant from a gas to a liquid and back. In the condenser area of the outdoor unit, the pressure on the refrigerant is lessened and it is able to absorb heat from the air returning from the house.

This gas, while warmer than the liquid refrigerant, is still quite cold and acts to cool the air being passed back into the house. As that refrigerant moves along to the compressor area, the gas is converted to a liquid and is forced to release the heat it had been holding. In that way, the air conditioner is able to remove heat from the inside of your house and release it outside.

Your air conditioning system is also generally hooked up to a thermostat, which is what controls when the unit switches on and off. You can set the thermostat at the temperature you would like to maintain inside your house and the thermostat will signal the air conditioner to switch on when the indoor temperature rises above that level. And once the indoor temperature is again below the preset level on the thermostat, the air conditioner will switch off again.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.sterlingheating.com/blog/2015/07/how-does-central-ac-work/

Jun 23

Ways to Avoid Air Conditioning Repair This Summer

If we could offer you an air conditioning system that was guaranteed never to break, we’d do it in a Pittsburgh minute. We can’t do that because such an air conditioning system doesn’t exist, but what our experts can offer you are some great tips on how to avoid air conditioning repair and reduce your incidence of repair. None of this entails working on your system yourself – leave that to the experts. These are just some simple suggestions from our AC professionals here at Sterling Heating & AC to help you get ahead of an air conditioning repair:

Tip #1: Don’t ignore that strange sound.

Homeowners know when something is off in the house, whether it’s your dishwasher or your heating system, so when you hear something odd coming from your air conditioning system, take it as a sign that it’s likely an issue has developed. Your next step? Call for your technician and schedule an appointment.

Tip #2: Change the air filter.

You’d be amazed what a clogged air filter can do to an air conditioning system. One of the first things it does is restrict the air flow in the system, making it difficult for your system to operate. Another thing a clogged air filter can do is create icing, because restricted air flow causes an imbalance with the heat release/cooling process. By following the industry recommendation of changing your air filter every 3 months, you can save yourself a lot of hassle and problems with your AC.

Tip #3: Schedule maintenance.

It’s as easy as a phone call, and only has to be done once a year (twice if you own a heat pump), but many people forget about scheduling maintenance for their AC system. Maintenance helps keep your system energy efficient, working optimally and in good working order for the entire cooling season. Don’t skip it – schedule it!

We hope these tips help you keep your air conditioner in great shape this summer, but if you do have service needs for you AC system, call us right away and let our experts help keep you cool!

Permanent link to this article: http://www.sterlingheating.com/blog/2015/06/ways-to-avoid-air-conditioning-repair-this-summer/

Jun 02

Air Conditioning System Replacement

At a certain point in the lifespan of your air conditioning system, replacement might become necessary. It happens to all air conditioners eventually. Parts and motors wear out, the casing erodes, or it simply doesn’t have the necessary energy efficiency your home and energy budget require.

Sterling Heating & AC takes AC replacement in the South Jersey area very seriously because we know your new unit will be used for years to come. Our product offerings are chosen carefully to provide a variety of different sizes, installation methods, and cooling levels. Here are some factors you should keep in mind when making the decision about replacing your current air conditioner.

Pittsburgh Air Conditioning Tip

Did you know that older homes tend to have oversized HVAC systems? Especially if you have made your home more energy efficient by adding more insulation or new windows, your current air conditioning system might be much larger than you need. If you are replacing your air conditioning system, don’t just get a unit with the same capacity as your old model, have a professional do a load calculation on your home to determine the size you need.

Warning Signs

Most people don’t go out and pick up a new air conditioner on a whim. There are usually circumstances that lead to the need for a new cooling unit. It’s also important to recognize potential warning signs that your air conditioner is on its last legs. Here are a few red flags you should keep an eye out for:

  • Inconsistency: If the basement is a sauna and the third floor is an ice skating rink, it could be a thermostat issue or it could be your air conditioner starting to lose its edge. Not only does an aging model cause inconsistent cooling, it can send your energy bills through the roof. Replacing your air conditioning system will almost always lead to more energy efficiency, leading to reduced costs.
  • Age: Old air conditioners wear out. It’s a natural part of the appliance life cycle. On top of reduced efficiency, older air conditioners (anything beyond 10 years) will have lower efficiency than modern, high energy–efficiency models. Especially if you know you’ll need a new unit within a couple years, the savings you’ll gain from replacing your air conditioner now may be enough to warrant moving up the replacement date. Never underestimate how nice a quieter, more efficient unit will be.
  • Humidity: Old or decreasingly efficient cooling systems will start to churn out excess humidity in many rooms as well. It can be a result of reduced cooling capacity or it could be due to a broken part in the core unit.
  • Noisiness: Old machines will start to grow noisier as well. Sometimes, this is a result of overdue maintenance, but in some extreme cases it can be a sign that your motor is wearing down or that the machine simply cannot keep up with your cooling needs any longer.
  • Increase in cost: Watch those energy bills. When you see them starting to spike in the midst of the hottest summer months, more so than they ever did before, it could easily be a result of an old, out of date machine starting to fail. Not only does the increased cost signal a drop–off in cooling efficiency, it generally serves as a warning sign that your machine is about to break and needs to be replaced. Don’t wait for your air conditioner to completely break down–jump on the problem now.

There are many reasons you might consider air conditioning system replacement. When you do make the decision that your old unit just isn’t cutting it any longer, give Sterling a call.

Our team of expert, highly trained cooling experts can help you determine if your cooling system is really ready for replacement or if it simply needs a good round of service and cleaning. Sometimes, symptoms of age are merely the result of being overdue for maintenance. Rest assured that you will receive top notch service and the best prices from our expertly trained technicians.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.sterlingheating.com/blog/2015/06/air-conditioning-system-replacement/

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