Buying a house can be stressful. With so many things to consider, it’s hard to know what to prioritize. Aesthetics are important, but don’t let the look of your prospective home overshadow the more vital structural elements. Faulty or outdated electrical components can quickly turn your new home into a headache as you try and bring it up to code and make it safe.
Do you know what to look for when prospecting? Here is a handy list of the top 5 HVAC-related things to look for when buying a home.
The electrical panel is one of the most integral parts of the home. It’s important to thoroughly check the electrical panel before buying a home to avoid paying thousands of dollars in unexpected costs.
Many older homes have undersized electrical panels, meaning that the number of amps is too low to accommodate modern demands. The electrical current should be between 100-200 amps in order to heat the home properly and for a home to be considered safe.
Make sure to inspect inside the electrical panel as well before taking the leap into home ownership. It’s a key safety feature when it comes to the electrical current running through your home, so you want to be sure it’s up to the job. Newer homes generally have a circuit breaker installed, but some older homes may still use a fuse box. A circuit breaker is the preferred option as circuits can be reset if they trip because too much current passes through them. But if a fuse blows in a furnace’s fuse box, the fuse will have to be replaced each time and could leave you without heat at an inopportune time. An outdated or faulty fuse box will need to be replaced before it begins to cause you problems.
Proximity to Hospitals
When it comes to the electricity that is supplied to a house, location is everything. Living in close proximity to a hospital is not just beneficial during a health emergency, it is also helpful in the event of an electrical scare as well. When power outages occur, emergency services such as hospitals are the first to get their power back, followed by surrounding areas. For those of you who desperately rely on power, living close to a hospital can help ensure that you are next in line to get your power restored and your HVAC systems back online.
Ground fault circuit interrupter outlets (GFCI) protect people against electrical shocks produced from an electrical system. These are used where water and high concentrations of electricity are present (primarily kitchens, bathrooms and occasionally outdoors). It is important to ensure these outlets are used in these areas of your home to ensure you and your family are safe. If GFCIs are not properly installed, it may be a good indication that there are other electrical or HVAC violations within the home.
Number of Outlets and Extension Cord Use
Placement of electrical outlets is something to consider when looking to buy a home. Outlets are one of the most overlooked features in a home, yet one of the most important. You may be sketching out your dream floor plan only to realize outlets aren’t properly placed to execute your vision. Skip the headache — remember to look at the location and number of outlets before making an offer. Otherwise, you may end up with extension cords snaking around your home to make things work.
Under no circumstances should you connect extension cords to air conditioner units or heaters with fans! Doing so can easily cause the HVAC units to overheat, leading to a hazardous fire.
You should also take note of whether the outlets are two-pronged or three-pronged. While most homes now have the three-prong outlet needed to power up your many devices and appliances, older homes may still have two-prong outlets. These will need to be upgraded to accommodate increased power requirements.
Wiring is another large component (and potentially expensive upgrade) of any home. If it’s not up to code it is potentially dangerous. Look out for knob-and-tube wiring when prospecting a home. Usually visible within the basement, knob-and-tube wiring runs through porcelain tubes designed to keep the wires secure. You will also notice that unlike today’s plastic insulated wiring, knob-and-tube wiring is insulated with rubber.
This kind of wiring doesn’t have a ground wire, so is often indicated by two-prong outlets throughout the home. Why does grounding matter? It protects your home and everyone in it from surges of electricity, decreasing the risk of experiencing an electrical shock or fire. If the power were to surge at your home for whatever reason, a non-grounded system cannot handle this increase in voltage and may cause harm.
When looking at a potential home, it’s important to keep an eye out for any of the key issues outlined above. If you do encounter one or more of these problem points, see if you can negotiate and come up with a mutually beneficial solution.
Finding a professional inspector to accurately identify any issues present is key! If you would like to know more about electrical safety, visit Electrical Safety Authority. For all other HVAC related issues — or if you’d like to maintain the services in your new home — contact us!
As the calendar begins to transition from the months of summer to fall, weather follows suit. Gone, for the most part, are the hot, clear days. We are left to face colder temperatures and spurts of rain and wind. Sometimes it is nice to have a break from the scorching heat, but what if it’s more than we bargained for? Fall may bring severe changes in weather that can cause damage to our properties and/or HVAC units.
While summer is behind us, we do still see some occasional warm and humid days. During these moments of heat, homeowners are tempted to drastically lower their air conditioner temperatures to escape the less-than-optimal outdoor weather. Doing so can often cause your unit to work harder than it needs to. To avoid unnecessary wear and tear on your air conditioner, raise your thermostat to 78 degrees Fahrenheit to keep you cool.
Our clients often ask us, “should we cover our air-conditioner to protect it from rain?” The answer is no, not really. Air-conditioners are designed and constructed with weather in mind. They are made to withstand rain, hail, and even snow.
Covering them can often cause more damage than having no protection at all. Tarp coverings (especially ones made out of plastic) can cut off air circulation to the unit, causing moisture to form on the underside of the casing. This moisture can rot and rust the metal exterior, wiring components, and even rubber within the air-conditioner. Over time, this will render your unit inoperable. If you wish to cover it, opt for commercially available covers with proper ventilation.
The only time you should really worry about water damaging your AC is during periods of severe flooding. If water levels reach or exceed 15 inches in depth, you should consult a technician before restarting your air conditioner.
Thunderous Power Surges
Thunderstorms can damage your unit in two ways. First, the high winds often associated with storms can send objects like leaves and branches flying into your air conditioner’s condenser fan grille. This blockage can prevent it from running properly. Second, if lightning strikes your air conditioner, power surges often incur.
To complicate matters, the severity of those surges is not often seen right away. You may not know your unit has been struck! But over the course of a few months, homeowners begin to notice that their air conditioner is not working as well as it was before.
The most common cause of air conditioner damage after a lightning strike is damage to the capacitor. If not taken care of immediately, this can lead to a compressor failure, which is a much more expensive repair. To limit the impact of a lightning strike, invest in some high-quality outlet surge suppressors!
Do you have more questions about how changes in weather can affect your HVAC units? Contact us! Our knowledgeable and friendly service technicians at Afterglow Ltd. would be happy to help!
You love when summer rays radiate down on you outside, but why don’t you feel the same way when you are inside?
When the sun permeates through windows, the temperature quickly rises, making a home feel more like a greenhouse by the minute. To counteract this effect, homeowners will resort to blasting their air conditioners excessively. This not only increases their energy bill but also wastes energy. Below are some helpful tips for saving on both!
Close Windows When AC Is Running
We all know those people that want the best of both worlds —fresh air and the nice blast of cool air from the air conditioner. However, running the AC while the windows are open makes your unit work harder than it needs to, taking your home longer to reach your desired temperature. If you want fresh air, open your windows during the evening when it is cooler outside.
Close Curtains & Blinds When Not At Home
We spoke about how the sun can turn your home into a greenhouse above, but how does that happen inside your home? When your windows are closed and the sun radiates through to the inside, the temperature in your home increases. The warm air rises, filling and trapping heat in any room it finds.
Investing in some solid blackout curtains and closing them during the hottest parts of the day can significantly decrease this effect. While they do not completely stop heat from entering your home, blackout curtains drastically reduce the impact of the sun’s rays.
Run Your Fan When At Home
A common misconception about fans is that they help cool your home, but they are actually quite inefficient. Fans circulate air throughout a room. When you feel hot and sweaty, this breeze can feel refreshing on the skin and help to lower your core body temperature. However, the actual temperature in the room remains unchanged.
Fans use a lot less energy than central AC (55-90 watts vs 3500 watts depending on the size of the unit), so using them while at home will save you a significant amount on your electricity bill. Avoid running the fan when not at home, however, because it won’t affect the temperature. You’ll just waste electricity.
Invest in a Programmable Thermostat
Programmable thermostats are a more expensive initial purchase, but their benefits far outweigh manual models. First, they save you time, which we all know is precious. Stop wasting time flicking between degrees. Programmable thermostats allow you to set them once, based on recommended levels or personal preferences, and be done with them! Second, they use less energy, saving homeowners upwards of $150 each year! Lastly, unlike some manual models that contain mercury, programmable models are mercury-free. Save the environment, one thermostat at a time!
Don’t let your discomfort overshadow your energy costs! Use the above tips in your home. For more savings tips, or for technical HVAC services, call us to schedule your very own appointment today!
Last month, you fulfilled your curiosity about how air conditioner parts function together to cool the air in your home. That knowledge is all good and dandy, but there are more questions to be answered. Do you know the reasons why an air conditioner would fail and what to do in the event that it does? Below is a breakdown of the top 5 reasons for an air conditioner’s failure.
Faulty Circuit Breaker, Fuse or Electrical Wiring
If your air conditioner fails, first check your fuse and circuit breaker to make sure that there aren’t any electrical issues present. Turn off your air conditioner, allowing 15 minutes of cool down time before replacing the fuse or resetting the breaker. If that doesn’t do the trick, your AC could have been improperly wired or you could have tripped a high-pressure limit switch. In those cases, call a trained technician to inspect the problem.
A refrigerant can leak for several reasons: natural wear and tear, formic acid buildup, or formaldehyde exposure. Over time, acid can build up, burning a hole through the copper tubing or coils of the air conditioning unit, resulting in a leak and a change in pressure. If an air conditioner does not reach an adequate pressure level, this can cause it to fail.
TIP: If you see a refrigerant leak, call a trusted HVAC technician immediately! Refrigerants are harmful substances to the environment.
Air conditioners need a passageway for warm air to travel in order to reach the cold coils that cool the air. If there is a blockage within this passageway, your coils can freeze from a lack of warm air passing over the coils. To prevent this issue, change your AC filter regularly and don’t skip your HVAC maintenance inspections! If you see frost, call us!
Age & Wear and Tear
Is your air conditioner 5 years or older and constantly toggling on and off? This could be a sign that there is damage to one or more parts within your unit, such as the fan blades, compressor, or electrical parts. Regular inspections can catch these issues before they become too large to fix.
If your thermostat is not properly calibrated, it can cause your air conditioner to work harder than it needs to. Thermostats exist to control the amount of air being circulated within your home. If the thermostat is faulty, it can send your air conditioner into overdrive.
Don’t let the humidity in your home get you down! Talented HVAC technicians are just one call away. Reach out to us and we will get that cool air flowing in no time!
You know that an air conditioner brings joy to your life during the hot summer months, but are you ever curious about how it works? An air conditioner essentially works by transferring heat and humidity found inside your home to the outside. In order to understand why an air conditioner would fail (covered in next month’s blog), you must first understand how it functions.
To break it down, there are 7 essential parts of an air conditioner.
The evaporator, comprised of cooling coils, removes heat from the air using a refrigerant. A refrigerant is a substance that changes states from a low-pressure gas to a high-pressure liquid as it absorbs heat. As a blower ‘blows’ air over the coils, this substance cools the air. At the exterior of the house, a condenser, made up of hot coils accumulates all of the hot air and releases it back into the outside world.
In order for the evaporator and condenser to work together in unison, a compressor, with the aid of a fan, exists to pump refrigerant between the two, chilling the air, dispersing and dissipating it as it travels. Within the air conditioning unit, there is also a filter whose job it is to remove particles, like dust and debris, from the air in your home. Lastly, a thermostat exists to regulate the level of cool air being distributed.
These 7 parts are essential for the lower temperature bliss you crave during the humid summer months. If you are in need of an air conditioner, contact us! Our knowledgeable technicians would be happy to help you find the right unit to fit your home!
HVAC systems keep your home comfort and safety in check, but do you know how they work to maintain this comfort and safety? For the average homeowner, these high-tech systems can be tricky to understand. That is why we have honed the expertise of our Afterglow specialists to answer our most frequently asked questions leading into the summer.
“We made it through the winter with our old furnace/boiler. Can we wait for the fall to replace it?”
We get it, everyone wants to save money if they can. But when it comes down to your furnace or boiler, we highly recommend that you don’t wait! Just because your furnace or boiler survived the winter does not mean it is working efficiently. You may be investing more money the longer you wait. Why? Your air-conditioner relies on your furnace to blow air throughout your home. If that furnace is not in good shape, it could cause your AC to stop working entirely. In the summer months —this is not a problem anyone wishes to have! Do not suffer from heat in vain. Replace your furnace or boiler now so that you are not rushed when the colder weather hits!
“Does the efficiency of an air conditioner really make much of a difference?”
If you like saving money and the environment, yes, air-conditioner efficiency matters! AC efficiency is measured in SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio), which is the rating calculated by the amount of cooling outputted during a typical cooling season divided by the electrical energy (BTU) inputted during that same time period. Essentially, the higher the SEER rating, the more energy efficient the unit is. For the average Canadian home running their AC from March to September, a bump up one point in SEER may result in savings of $10-$15 per month!
“If I have a boiler at home, can I even get air conditioning?”
Many of our clients think that if they have a boiler installed, they are out of luck with an AC system because boiler systems do not use ducts to transport heat throughout the home. That is not the case! Air conditioner technology is becoming more and more inventive! Ductless options with wall-mounted AC heads are available and can be quite cost-effective. These powerful systems can cool rooms or even entire floors quite rapidly, saving you at the hottest time of the year! Ducted systems are also available and can work alongside your boiler.
You asked, we answered! Do not suffer in the scorching heat this summer. Bask in the cool air you always dreamed of! Do you have any HVAC questions nagging you? Contact us —our HVAC specialists would be happy to help provide you with some clarity and expert advice!
The delayed winter snow has nearly melted, and you are giddy with thoughts of spring and summer adventures. Much to your surprise, your throat begins to itch in between bouts of coughing and sneezing fits. You think you can take refuge within the confines of your home but symptoms persist. What causes these torturous allergic reactions and is there anything you can do to limit their torturous effects? Find out below.
Spring and summer allergies are primarily caused by the release of pollen into the air. As the weather warms up, trees, grass, and weeds begin to grow, producing little grains of pollen. The pollen travels by wind for miles, settling on many surfaces in its wake, including up the nostrils of unsuspecting and undeserving allergy victims. The human immune system, in turn, reacts by releasing the antibody, histamine, into the victims’ bloodstream to combat the unwanted intruder. This is where the pesky symptoms kick in!
Remember, during this time, the wind will be your enemy and rain will be your best friend. Pollen spreads more profusely when winds blow, so during these times, close your windows tightly to reduce allergy flare-ups. It would also be wise to replace any wind-pollinating plants in your home or garden.
During these windy days, pollen can also land on the produce you consume! For those with allergies, make sure you wash all of your fruit and veggies to ensure that you are not consuming an unwanted kind of ‘snack.’
That being said, don’t avoid eating produce altogether! Eating bright coloured fruits and veggies, such as oranges, grapefruit, carrots, red peppers and watermelon can help you become you again. Rich in Vitamin C and bioflavonoids, these delicious treats lessen the punch of hay fever by tackling the symptoms that ail you. While you’re at it, try eating some apples and red onions as well! They contain a natural antihistamine, quercetin, which can relieve those itchy eyes and throat.
As the warmer weather approaches, insects appear! This might be great for the environment, but if you suffer from allergies, their presence could spell trouble. Fire ant, honey bee, hornet, and wasp bites are quite common in Canada during the warmer months. They can cause painful swelling, itching, redness, and in some drastic cases, anaphylaxis. Protect yourself by wearing insect repellants whenever walking through heavily forested areas and keeping an eye out for these pests. If you think you might have been stung and are having trouble breathing, do not wait! Seek help immediately.
Smoke & Smog Triggers
When you think summer, you think of roasting spider-dogs on the campfire or road trips to the beach, right? While these are exciting plans, both are known to trigger allergic reactions in humans. Inhaling campfire smoke and the air pollutant, smog, can affect the way you breathe. To be safe, avoid standing directly in the way of campfire smoke and car exhausts.
These next few months are full of excitement and adventures, but when those dreaded allergies hit, don’t let them cut into your time to explore! Protect yourself, your family and your home by tackling them head-on. Our dedicated staff at Afterglow would be pleased to assist you with removing allergens from your home. Book a maintenance inspection today!
Spring brings with it the joys associated with warmer weather: hiking, nature walks, lounging outside on the deck with a drink in hand. However, it is also the time when the dreaded C word comes out to play. Don’t let ‘cleaning’ get you down! Sometimes all you and your home need is a little TLC to raise your spirits. Here are 5 spring cleaning and housekeeping tips to get you back into the groove of things.
Dry Your Humidifiers & Dehumidifiers
Humidifiers and dehumidifiers are tremendously beneficial for adding and eliminating moisture into and from your home; however, they come with their own health hazards. The body of the units tend to store water residue within, creating the perfect breeding ground for bacteria to collect and for mould to form. It is important to dry these cavities fully after use in order to prevent unhealthy particles from infiltrating the air you breathe.
Poke AC Drainage Holes
Every once in a while it is a good housekeeping idea to poke a paperclip into the drain hole located beneath your air conditioner’s evaporator fins. This hole’s purpose is to drain condensation from the interior of the unit outwards. If it is blocked by debris, your AC will not run at full capacity, causing you to spend more money over-time.
Caulk Window & Doors
As many homeowners will be able to tell you, even the best of caulkings do not last a lifetime. Weathering takes its toll. Therefore, it is important to give your windows and doors a bit of a refresher every couple of years. If you notice the sealant cracking or changing into that gross yellowish colour, you can bet moisture is making its way into your home. Seal that moisture out!
Change Toilet Flappers
Toilet flapper or flush valve malfunctions are the most common reason for toilet leaks. Over time, this flapper—whose job it is to periodically turn the fill valve on-and-off, draining water within its core—ages and stops sealing the toilet valve, causing leakage into the bowl. Stop wasting money on water! If you notice your toilet’s flapper not sealing properly, save yourself the hassle of cleaning up a big mess in the future and get yourself a new one!
Replace Furnace Filters
Furnace or AC filters keep the air blowing into your home nice and fresh! If these filters are clogged with dust and debris, they will not do their job properly, spreading allergens into the air. If you don’t want to change your filters every month, invest in a HEPA filter which only has to be changed every 6 months and can be cleaned with a vacuum in between replacements!
The C word does not have to be overwhelming. The tips above are simple enough to get your home spring ready in no time! In need of more helpful HVAC tips? Contact us for answers to your questions! One of our knowledgeable and reliable HVAC specialists would be happy to assist you!
Keeping your family safe should always be a top priority, but what if you don’t know what types of dangers lurk within your own home? Sometimes good intentions are no match for unforeseen circumstances. Take the first step and educate yourself on any potential HVAC issues that may arise in your home. Below are 4 danger signs you should look out for.
Rotten Egg Smell
Did you walk into your home only to smell the stench of rotten eggs? Leave and call your gas company immediately. Natural gas furnaces are one of the most popular home heating choices due to their convenience, energy efficiency, and cost-effectiveness. However, be aware of the dangers associated with a gas leak. Natural gas in itself is odourless, so the harmless yet poignant chemical mercaptan is added to the compound in order to warn home occupants that a gas leak has occurred. Gas leaks are dangerous because they can not only spark fires, but inhaling large amounts of natural gas can also reduce the oxygen levels in your body, causing dizzy spells, shortness of breath, and in serious cases, even death! Do not look for the source, simply GET OUT!
Does your HVAC unit give off an electrical smelling odour as if something is overheating? It very well could be! If it is your first time turning on your furnace in a long time, this scent could just be built-up dust burning off. But if it does not dissipate after 30 minutes, it could signal something more serious. Turn off your unit if the smell continues, and first check your air filters for dust and debri. If your air filters are clear, your furnace or air conditioning motor may be damaged or burned out. If left unchecked, this can lead to a fire. Turn off your electricity on your master switch, and contact your trusty HVAC professional as soon as possible!
If you start to smell a musty whiff of air near your air conditioning unit that isn’t going away, this is a sure sign that there is moisture somewhere nearby. The biggest issue is not the smell. Built-up condensation from the unit can migrate up into your air-ducts, creating mould. Prolonged mould exposure can lead to respiratory issues if not dealt with in a timely fashion. If you notice this warning sign, contact your HVAC service agent to perform a much-needed duct cleaning!
Have you noticed a puddle of water pooling around your air-conditioning unit lately? This can happen as summer approaches. When the evaporator coil in your unit cools the warm air being blown over it, it creates moisture. This condensation drips into a pan and down a condensate drain pipe that leads to the outside. When this pipe is blocked up by sludge, mould, dust and debris, the water has nowhere to go, causing the water to back up. Taking care of this issue quickly is highly recommended to prevent water damage to your floor and foundation. This will also make sure mould does not begin to form.
Do not turn a blind eye to these warning signs! Keeping your family safe depends on your due diligence. If you smell rotten eggs, electrical overheating, must and mould, or see water leaking from your air-conditioning unit, seek help from HVAC and gas professionals who are trained to safely eliminate these issues.
January is a time to reflect and make some changes for the New Year. Sometimes, those changes can be small, like reading more or cutting down on alcohol; other times those changes can be monumental for one’s success and well-being. This year, make your health and home a priority. Set your standards high by being kind to yourself and your home. Below, we have outlined 3 simple ways to do just that.
Keep Boilers and Water Heaters Maintained
Boilers essentially work by pumping water through copper tubing, rapidly heating the water in the process. Unlike water heaters, boilers are used for larger scale heating initiatives such as heating pools, hot tubs, and whole complexes. On the other hand, water heaters heat and store water in tanks, and are generally used for smaller-scale heating projects. When you add heat to the mix, it is important to stay on top of maintenance, in case of any potential hazards from wear and tear. Regular maintenance inspections can mitigate the risk of fires caused by burners, pilot lights, gas pressure, and heat exchangers. They can also prevent water backflow and reduce safety concerns with venting, piping, and carbon monoxide gas.
Replace Furnace Filters Regularly
Furnace filters are used to collect dust, dirt and pollutants so that they do not circulate throughout your furnace and HVAC system. When these filters are clogged, it takes more time and energy to run a furnace properly, leading to more frequent repairs or replacements. As you can imagine, this can drastically increase your utility bills and the overall costs associated with continuous technical support. The simple and inexpensive act of changing your filter regularly can enhance your HVAC system’s efficiency and save on costs in the long run!
Don’t forget about the wonders clean furnace filters can have on your health! By changing your filters regularly, you can prevent the built-up debris from floating back into the air, polluting it, and introducing it back into the air you breathe.
Purchase A Humidifier
Humidifiers work by restoring moisture back into your home’s air. Air can become very dry and stale, particularly during the winter months. This can result in dry skin, congestion, allergies, and the spread of airborne viruses. Investing in a humidifier can help prevent all of those pesky ailments we associate with winter. We recommend consulting with an HVAC specialist before choosing a humidifier, simply because there are many different sizes and model options that work best in different environments.
Being kind to your home is a vital component of taking care of yourself. If you’re concerned about the air quality in your home, or are worried about how your HVAC systems are performing, contact us for support!