Keeping Away the Critters

It’s that time of year when creepy-crawlies start coming out of the woodwork and, believe it or not, could end up in your HVAC system!

If you live near a wooded area or a body of water, pest infestation is more likely and can lead to costly problems. Pests often want to burrow and tunnel. This can create holes in your HVAC system, which results in leaks that may be expensive to fix, and can cause your system to work harder to maintain a desired temperature.

In addition, dead pests can create a stench, which blows through your vents and can cause your home to stink. These decaying pest corpses can also affect the indoor air quality of your home and make breathing difficult for particularly sensitive occupants.

Check out these tips for keeping your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system free from infestation:

Tip #1:  Look for access points, gaps, or holes around your HVAC system, pipes, lines and foundation and use an expanding foam or caulk to fill the cracks (follow manufacturer recommendations).

Tip #2:  Install aluminum wire mesh screens over your exterior vents so small animals cannot wander in. Check periodically to make sure that the screens stay sealed and have not come loose.

Tip #3:  Periodically check your vents with a flashlight for signs of unwanted pests to help prevent colonization. Vacuum up or trap any unwanted intruders and remove them from your home. NEVER spray insecticides into your vents!

Tip #4:  To minimize the chances of pests entering your HVAC system from outside your home, bug repellent can be placed near the perimeter of your outdoor cooling and heating units. However, be sure to follow manufacturer instructions with any chemical repellent, and NEVER spray or spread them directly into/onto your HVAC units, filters or vents — this could permanently damage equipment, lead to serious health risks for your family, and degrade your indoor air quality. When in doubt, hire a professional exterminator to treat your property for insects and other pests.

Tip #5:  Make sure there is no standing water near your outside unit as this can attract bugs. If your unit is in a low area, take measures to prevent water from collecting during rainstorms.

Tip #6:  Keep the area clean. Walk around your outdoor unit every now and then to make sure that the area is free of debris that might attract  critters to make a home. Be sure to keep an eye out for anthills, reptiles, rodents and other pest nests.

Tip #7:  Maintain your ducts. Loose seals and cracks are one of the easiest ways for bugs to enter your ductwork. Call an HVAC professional to have your ducts cleaned and sealed this season!

Contact us today to schedule an appointment for your HVAC maintenance and ensure your ducts are pest-free this season!

Spring Cleaning Your HVAC System

Spring has sprung! There are birds chirping, warm breezes… and pollen in the air! Accompanying the warmer temps and colorful flowers is everyone’s least favorite part of the season — pollen — and with it comes allergies. By taking care of your home’s HVAC system you can ensure that the dreaded pollen stays outside, and you can breathe carefree inside. Plus, it’s always good to inspect your HVAC system at the start of any season. Preventative care now can eliminate more costly repair bills down the road!

Check out these tips for keeping your home pollen-free this season.

– Use the correct air filter. Typical air conditioner filters are designed to keep debris and large dirt particles out of the equipment and are not meant to keep plant spores out of your lungs. A high-energy particulate air filter (HEPA filter) will remove allergens from your home. For maximum effectiveness, change your filter every other month. Switch it out more often if you are located in an area with high pollen counts.

– Contact Us to Install a Whole-house UV Air Purification System. If anyone in your family suffers from severe allergies or has breathing issues, we offer a solution that can dramatically improve your indoor air quality. Our licensed installers can add a whole-house UV Air Purification System to your existing system to help eliminate harmful contaminants and improve the air in your home. Contact us today for complete details.

– Make sure your ducts are cleaned out. Pollen, dust, and debris can accumulate in your ventilation, cooling, and heating ducts over time. As air flows around your home, these contaminants also circulate. To keep your home pollen free and improve the air quality, make sure you have your air ducts cleaned out regularly.

– Check that your ductwork is properly sealed. If there are holes in your duct system, allergens and dust can easily invade the air in your home. Thoroughly sealing your ducts will prevent pollen from infiltrating your home’s ventilation system. Plus, build-up in your ducts can add up to 30% to your cooling bill.

– Consider a whole house humidifier. Humidifiers are designed to improve air quality in your home and can help minimize the effects of air particles, such as pollen, that get inside. These particles often need dry conditions to thrive and moisture in the air helps to eliminate them.

– Signup for our Annual Maintenance Contract. Did you know that having a professional service your unit 2 times a year can DOUBLE THE LIFE of your heating and air system? That’s a huge savings on your original investment, and can help minimize major service calls or break downs. Contact us today for complete details.

Clean ducts and air filters allow your HVAC system to run efficiently, decreasing energy costs and preventing your unit from failing prematurely. To avoid low air quality and extra costs this season, be sure to proactively contact your HVAC technician to pollen-proof your home. Remember – just because you can’t see airborne materials, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t there. Contact us today for more information or an on-site consultation.

Protecting Your HVAC from Snow & Ice

Winter weather can easily catch you off-guard, especially living in the south. With the threat of snow looming in the forecast (and winter having barely started), it’s important to know how to protect your HVAC and furnace from snow and ice. And while HVACs are built to withstand inclement weather, there are still basic steps you should take to make sure your system is working efficiently and effectively and to extend the life of your unit.

Problem #1: Ventilation: It’s important to make sure that the area around your HVAC is kept clear. Shovel away any snow accumulation, check that your gutters aren’t dripping on the unit, and carefully remove any ice build-up. Otherwise, snow and ice could block the system, potentially causing dangerous situations, such as carbon monoxide poisoning. But be sure you don’t chisel or scrape ice from your outdoor unit, as this could cause significant damage. 

Problem #2: Water Damage: After snowfall comes the inevitable: water. First, make sure that you have properly planned for drainage/ runoff, especially if your unit is not raised off the ground. If you think that there may already be water damage, be sure to contact a professional as quickly as possible.

Problem #3: Speed Heating: Turning your thermostat all the way up is unlikely to heat your home that much faster, but it is certain to place more wear and tear on your furnace. If you are in for a long winter, don’t be afraid to set the thermostat below balmy and pile on the blankets! This will extend the life of your system, as well as lower your utility bill.

Prevent damage from winter weather and reduce excessive wear and tear on your HVAC unit by following these tips:

  • Keep it clear: Make sure to keep 18” – 36” around your unit free of debris, snow, and ice. Check periodically during any snowfall, as well as afterwards.
  • Plan for runoff: Ensure that all melted snow and ice, as well as your normal rainfall, drains away from the unit and your house.
  • Raise it up: If possible, install your HVAC system on a raised platform rather than directly on the ground. 6” – 10” would account for average worst-case snowfall and will also help to reduce potential damage from run-off.
  • Be efficient: Adjust your thermostat down during the night and when you will be out of the house. During the other times when you are home, don’t try to heat your home as quickly as possible. Be patient and grab a few extra layers!
  • Call a professional: It’s a good idea to bring in an HVAC professional to inspect your system before the winter season starts. And if you have a problem you can’t troubleshoot, don’t hesitate to give us a shout!
Apex Heating and Air - Spring HVAC System Prep

Is Your Heat Pump Prepared for Spring?

With snow on the ground and cold weather still ahead in the forecast, you may not be putting much thought into warmer months. But it’s not too early to starting looking ahead to Spring. Follow these spring cleaning maintenance tips to smoothly transition your HVAC system into the next season and help to reduce energy costs.

  • Check the air filters: Changing the air filters is a simple fix and something that you should do at least once a season if not more. Clogged filters can increase energy costs by 15% or more and damage your system as it struggles to function. Swapping them out or cleaning them will also help to improve air quality and reduce allergens in your home, such as mold and dust.
  • Do some yard work: Clear sticks, branches, leaves, grass clippings, and other debris away from your outside unit. This will help to promote airflow and reduce damage to your system.
  • Examine the unit: While you are at it, inspect your outdoor unit for any damage that may have occurred over the winter, such as dented or missing panels. These panels are intended to protect you and the system, so be sure to notify your technician if there is a problem especially if electrical components are composed. If it’s safe to do so, you should also go ahead and hose down your unit to remove dirt and grime.
  • Inspect the ducts: Turn on your system and listen for unusual sounds, such as grinding, clicking, or rattling. These noises could indicate loose or leaky ducts, a frayed belt, or issues with the motor. Duct cleaning can also reduce the amount of wear and tear on your system and promote air flow.
  • Schedule a tune-up: While there are definitely preventative steps the homeowner can take, it’s important to also call in a professional. A certified technician will examine ducts for leaks, check refrigerant levels, lubricate unit components, inspect electrical connections, clean coils, and more.

Lastly, be sure to contact your HVAC technician to sign-up for an annual seasonal maintenance contract. Regular HVAC preventive maintenance is the best way to ensure trouble-free operation, peak performance, and priority during peak times and discounts off parts/labor.

Following these tips will extend the life of your unit and reduce monthly energy costs. Don’t hesitate to contact us for additional information!

Apex Heating and Air - heat pump, furnace, HVAC during winter

7 Hot Heating Tips to Prepare Your Home for Winter

Before the winter cold sets in, ideally in advance of that first hard snow, it’s important to make sure that that your furnace is operating safely and effectively. And your wallet will surely thank you for taking these dollar-saving energy efficiency-increasing measures.

  1. Flip your thermostat: Believe it or not, it’s easier than you think to forget this simple task. The fall weather fluctuates between scorching and chilly on a daily basis, you get caught up in end-of-year festivities, and before you know it, you are still cooling when you should be heating. While you are at it, make sure that your thermostat is still functioning correctly. When you turn it on, listen and make sure the system starts running immediately. And it should go without saying to test the system well in advance of needing heat regularly.
  1. Change your filters: Replacing your filters is something that should be performed seasonally, at a minimum, if not monthly. It’s a quick and easy task that can go a long way in preserving the life of your HVAC system. Failure to do so can result in a clogged filter, which reduces airflow so that your system has to work harder (thus increasing your utility bill) and decreases air quality.
  2. Clean the chimney: If you use your fireplace during the winter season, inspecting your chimney is an absolute must. If there is an obstruction or buildup of soot, you risk carbon monoxide poisoning, which can be deadly. And don’t forget, gas fireplaces need inspected as well.
  1. Check the cracks: Cold drafts coming in from doors and windows mean heat is also leaking out. In fact, industry estimates show that approximately 10% of a home’s heat loss occurs in these areas. Consider easy upgrades to conserve energy, such as weather stripping, caulking, and even heavy drapes.
  1. Test your carbon monoxide detectors: Carbon monoxide is a clear, odorless gas that is impossible to detect on your own. For your family’s safety, it is absolutely imperative to test your detectors and make sure they are working properly.
  1. Clear the area around your furnace: Don’t turn your furnace area into a storage area! Remove objects from around the furnace and on top of or in front of air vents, especially those that are flammable. And certainly never store items such as lawn mowers, gas-powered tools, and paints nearby!
  1. Get a tune-up! An annual tune-up on your furnace will ensure your system is in perfect working condition and operating at peak performance. Our qualified technicians will check and clean burners, check all safety controls, check all venting and terminations, check for loose or frayed wires, look for leaks or deterioration, and more! Schedule an appointment today!And remember: if you aren’t familiar with how your heating system works or are unsure, always contact a professional.