Preparing Your Home For Spring

Spring has sprung, Waterloo Region! The sun is shining, the snow is melting and it’s time to not only transition your wardrobe, but your home as well! With warmer weather on the horizon, it is important to follow Afterglow’s steps for a quick check-up to make sure you can enjoy the sun without any looming potential-headaches.

Go for a walk (around your house)

During the winter months, the exterior of your home will be exposed to more potential damage than the inside so this is where your check-up should start! Walk around your home and examine caulking around the outside of windows and doors. You should also open those windows and doors and examine the weather stripping. Replace old or cracking caulk and worn weather stripping where necessary to prevent drafts and increased HVAC bills.

Clear the gutters

While you’re walking around your home, you should also take a second lap to check your gutters! Loose or leaky gutters can lead to improper drainage, which can result in water seeping into your basement or crawl space. Finally, make sure downspouts drain away from the foundation and are clear and free of debris.

Double check the AC unit

Nothing is worse than when the first heat wave hits and you realize your AC unit has been damaged during the winter. Before the heat is here to stay, contact your local qualified heating and cooling contractor to clean and service your outside unit of the air conditioning system. When the AC unit has clean coils it will operate more efficiently.

Out with the old, in with the new!

With so much more sunlight filling your home, it’s easier to see just how much dust has settled throughout the winter. One thing that may not visibly need cleaning and is easily overlooked is the indoor air quality. Springtime means the return of airborne allergens such as pollen and mold spores, which can cause a lot of unpleasant allergy-related symptoms. Open up your windows to let the stale air out and the fresh air in! Afterglow can also provide maintenance on your air ventilation systems to ensure you and your family is breathing in only the freshest air.

Contact Afterglow for your Spring-prep needs! You can count on us for honest, professional service to keep your home comfortable and a low-pressure sales team to answer all your questions. For service emergencies, call 519-747-7732 for a guaranteed response time of four hours or less.

Preparing Your Home for March Break

With March break right around the corner, it’s easy to get excited about spending quality time relaxing with your family — and forget about protecting your home. Afterglow has five tips for prepping your home before you pack up and go so you can enjoy your well-deserved vacation worry-free.

Unplug before you unwind

The majority of your appliances don’t need to run while you’re out of town. Microwaves, lamps, floor fans, internet modems, gaming consoles, and computers can all take a power-nap in your absence. But just turning them off isn’t enough — unplug to cut off power drain to save money on your electric bill.

Attending to your devices isn’t just about protecting your finances. If a power surge occurs while you’re away, it could fry your appliances and electronics or even cause a malfunction. Sometimes a surge will cause a garage door to open on its own, which can make your empty house an easy target for curious animals or thieves.

Turn off your water supply

You may also want to consider turning off the water supply. Once the water supply has been turned off, pipes should be drained of any remaining water by turning on all of your faucets until they run dry. Make sure to also flush all toilets to clear water from the tanks and bowls. For peace of mind, you can also put nontoxic plumbing antifreeze in the tanks and bowls to prevent any remaining water from freezing and cracking the porcelain or piping.

If your home uses a boiler system for heating, you’ll want to first consult a professional to ensure it’s safe to cut off the water. If your home has a fire sprinkler system, keep the water supply on.

Adjust the thermostat, stat!

When you leave your home during the winter months, it isn’t efficient to keep it toasty warm inside. Home advisor recommends turning the thermostat down to about 14 degrees Celsius (55 Fahrenheit) when you are away. Lowering the temperature will not only cut back on unnecessary energy costs but also maintain a comfortable environment for your plants, pets, electronics, and plumbing systems.

Call in a favour

Give a trusted friend, neighbor or relative access to your home so they can regularly monitor heating, electrical and water systems and be available in case for emergencies. You should also leave them with your contact information and a list of local contractors they can reach if repairs or service are needed.

If you want to take extra precautions, notify the police department that your home will be vacant, and provide emergency numbers.

Routine maintenance

Keeping up with regular maintenance in your home can help with a smooth transition for a week away. Periodically do an interior walkthrough of your home to check any weather stripping for leaks and drafts near windows and doorways. It’s also very important to ensure there are fire and smoke detectors on every floor and all have fresh batteries.

Last but certainly not least, double check that all exterior doors and windows are closed and locked, including pet doors!

Whether you are spending your time skiing down mountains or flying south to escape the cold, Afterglow can make sure your home’s HVAC is safe, secure and ready for your return.

Winter Energy Saving Tips for Inside and Outside Your Home

A survey conducted by Environics Research found that 78% of Canadians are looking for ways to boost energy efficiency in their homes. As the temperatures plummet in winter, home heating costs can rise. Here are a few ways to stay nice and cozy with your home, energy bill and environmental footprint:

Winterizing your home on the outside

It may seem counterintuitive that what’s going outside of your home affects what happens with your energy efficiency inside your home, but little things on the outside can make a big difference to managing indoor comfort and energy costs.

Check the frames around exterior windows and doors (including your garage door). If you see cracks or gaps, seal them up with acrylic, latex or rubber caulking (avoid fast drying varieties for outside) or weather stripping (standard or tape format).

If you have storm windows, change the screens. And if you have siding on your home, check to see if it’s in good condition with no cracks or gaps. Any small leaks will cause you to lose heat from your home. These little leaks will make your furnace work harder and drive up your winter heating bill.

One more place to check — your gutters or eavestrough as we like to call it in Canada. Leaves, dirt and debris from shingles can clog gutters. In winter this can lead to ice jams that have the potential to damage your roof. Not only is this an expensive repair, a gap in your roof can also be a heat leak.

Home energy savings tips for inside

Inside your home, check the windows and doors for gaps, using caulking or weatherstripping to fill any spaces you find. If you have a drafty window, install blinds or heavy curtains. Conversely, take advantage of direct sunlight to get an energy and mood boost from Mother Nature.

Ideal indoor temperatures for Canadian homes in the winter

Another way to save money on home heating during the winter is to set your thermostat to the ideal temperature. If you’re home during the day, the ideal temperature is 20 to 22°C. When you’re away or asleep, the ideal range is 17 to 19°F.

If you can hack it, put on a sweater and turn down the heat another degree or two during the day. Every degree you can lower the heat during the day or night will help you lower your home heating costs.

A digital or smart thermostat also lets you set daytime and nighttime programs to control the temperature in your home.   

More ways to boost the energy efficiency of your furnace

Before winter’s freezing temperatures arrive to stay, schedule a winter check-up for your furnace. This will ensure that your furnace won’t fail during when the mercury drops and that your furnace is working at peak performance. Changing your filter on a regular basis also helps maintain the efficiency of your furnace.

If you’re planning to replace your furnace, newer furnaces are more energy efficient. Furnace efficiency is measured by something called Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE). The higher the AFUE, the more efficient the furnace. Furnaces with an AFUE rating of 95% or higher are considered Energy Star certified.

Advanced features, like variable speed and multi-stage blower motors also boost energy efficiency.

Warm up to saving energy

While winter’s already begun, there’s still time to have your furnace serviced or find out more about replacing an older furnace. Contact Afterglow for your winterizing needs! You can count on us for honest, professional service to keep your home comfortable and a low-pressure sales team to answer all your questions. For service emergencies, call 519-747-7732 for a guaranteed response time of four hours or less.  

Spring Cleaning & Housekeeping: HVAC Edition

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!

4 Danger Signs You Need to Know In Your Home

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!

Electrical Overheating

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!

Musty Smell

 

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!

Leaks

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.

6 Furnace Fail Warning Signs

When it comes to HVAC systems, the changing weather of autumn can bring some unexpected problems. At the first sign of chilly fall winds, homeowners find themselves turning on furnaces that haven’t been used for several months. Have you ever turned on your furnace to discover that it’s not heating your home the way you expected? There are a few potential reasons why your furnace could be failing you:

Older Unit

Your furnace could simply be running on its last legs. Have you moved into an older home recently, or simply haven’t replaced your furnace in a while? It may be time to do so. Furnaces usually only last between 15-20 years, so if you are not feeling the warmth, your furnace may be telling you it’s time for an upgrade. You can check information about its age on the serial label posted on your furnace.

Cold Air Flow

Cold air flowing through your furnace could be another warning signthat your system is due for a revamp. If you find cold spots in your home, it’s time to contact a professional, as your blower fan may be malfunctioning!

Yellow Pilot Light

Behind the front panel of your furnace, you can find your pilot light. Check the colour; is it yellow? If so, this could be a sign that your heat exchange is leaking carbon monoxide, which poses a huge risk for you and your family. Seek professional service immediately, if there’s any potential for a carbon monoxide leak. Just remember, BLUE means GO, YELLOW means Oh NO!

Unusual Noises

Although furnaces do tend to generate sounds when running, pay attention to any sound that’s out of the ordinary for your furnace. In particular loud and high pitched pops and squeaks could indicate that there is something loose in your unit.

Dust

Finding an unusual amount of dust buildup in your furnace could mean that your furnace is not able to clean your air properly. If you are experiencing this issue, call one of our technicians for assistance – your family will be happy you did!  

Increased Heating Bill

Are you experiencing a spike in your heating bill lately? Inspect your furnace to ensure that all of the above furnace fail signs are not occurring. No matter what the problem with your furnace might be, we can find it!  Contact us to reach one of our friendly, experienced technicians.

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