Why Fall is an Important Season for HVAC

Is your current HVAC unit old or unreliable? Have you been putting off necessary repairs on your heating system? There is no better time than now to schedule a service visit with an HVAC technician from Butler Heating and Air Conditioning. Fall is an important season for your HVAC system because your air conditioner has worked hard all summer and is about to work hard again to keep your home comfortable during the winter. To avoid any surprise breakdowns when you need your heater most, homeowners should have their HVAC unit inspected and repaired while the weather is more mild in the fall.

Fall HVAC Checklist

Here are some things that homeowners should do in the fall to ensure that their home comfort system will last through next fall:

  • Schedule your annual HVAC system tune-up with a technician to ensure that your system is clean and running smoothly.
  • Turn on your heater to make sure it’s working properly, and call an HVAC tech if you notice any issues such as loud noises or burning smells.
  • Make an appointment for necessary repairs as soon as possible to avoid wasting energy or causing further damage to your system.

If you have been considering upgrading your HVAC system, you may also want to take this time to explore your options for a new heating and cooling system. Fall is one of the best times to replace your heater or air conditioner because the weather is more moderate.

Fall HVAC Savings from Butler Heating & Air Conditioning

One of the reasons that fall is such a great time for HVAC services is that Dayton homeowners get the opportunity to experience significant savings from Butler Heating & Air Conditioning. Right now we are offering the following fall promotions to help you save on HVAC services:

  • Fall Gas Furnace Check Up – You can get your furnace ready for winter with our special fall pricing of just $98.95 for a furnace tune-up. Offer expires 11/30/16.
  • $25 Off Any Service Repair – Butler is offering $25 off any service repair. This offer is not available for diagnostic-only repairs, and it expires 11/30/16.
  • Two Free Air Filters – Get 2 free custom fit Weather-Rite filters when you buy 12 custom fit Weather-Rite filters from Butler Heating & Air before the new year. Offer expires 12/31/16.
  • Save on a New Humidifier – Get $50 off when you purchase a new humidifier from Butler and get it installed by our expert HVAC technicians. This offer also expires on 12/31/16.

In addition to these special promotions from Butler, Ohio homeowners may also be eligible for significant factory rebates from Carrier. Now until November 15, 2016, homeowners can get up to $1,450 in factory rebates when they purchase qualifying Carrier systems or equipment from Butler Heating and Air.

For more information on our fall specials or how you can take advantage of Carrier factory rebates, contact us today. The team at Butler Heating and Air Conditioning is ready to help you find the right home comfort system to fit your needs, and we would love to help you save money in the process.

How to Diagnose HVAC Problems

If you’re having an issue with your heating or cooling system, there are some things you as a homeowner can do before deciding whether to call in a professional.

Check the Breakers

The first step is to check the power. Locate the fuse box and examine the breakers. Look to see if any of them are flipped in a different direction than the rest. Both the furnace and air-conditioning unit should have independent breakers that are (hopefully) labeled.

If the breakers look normal, flip the switch for whichever unit is not working properly. Wait about 10 seconds before turning it back on. If you’ve got fuses instead, switch off the main power to the box and replace any blown or burnt fuses.

Check the Thermostat

If that does not solve the problem, check the power to the thermostat. Most models receive power from your home’s electricity, but some rely on batteries. Switch the batteries if you can. If there is still no power, it may be the cause of the issue.

It Could Be the Filters

It’s also important to check the filters. If they’re clogged, broken, or incorrectly sized, they could restrict airflow. This puts extra stress on the system and can prevent it from circulating air properly.

Other Possible Problems

Begin by checking the unit for any signs of damage, such as mildew or broken wiring. Next, place your thermostat to the heat setting, about five degrees warmer than the current temperature. After 30 seconds to one minute, check for heat at an open vent. If you cannot feel any heat, turn the unit off again.

Go to the furnace and check to make sure the panel door is closed. If it is not, close it and try again. If the door was already shut, open it and perform a reset on the furnace by pressing a button or turning off the gas. After five minutes, start the unit back up and try again.

Tackling the Air Conditioner

Your first step is to make sure there is no visible damage, such as a broken coil. If it seems to be in fair shape, set the unit to the proper mode and adjust the temperature. You should aim for about five degrees below the current temperature of the room. Wait about 30 seconds and check the air at an open vent.

If the unit is running but not blowing cold air, check the physical components. Low refrigerant levels, poor ventilation, or coil damage could cause the system to freeze up and stop blowing cool air. If you find ice on the coils, shut the unit down for about three hours. Wipe off any dirt and moisture from the coils and restart the air conditioner.

Know When to Call a Professional

These simple troubleshooting steps will solve most routine HVAC problems. However, if you’ve followed all these steps with no improvement, it’s time to call in trained help. Contact the HVAC experts at Butler Heating & Air Conditioning today for help with any heating or cooling issue you may be having. Our friendly and experienced HVAC technicians are ready to help you get your air conditioner or heater back up and running in no time.

 

Will my Heating System Last Through Winter? Here’s How to Tell

 

You cannot overlook your heating system during winter because it’s the system you rely upon to keep your family warm and safe. During this time of the year, a breakdown in your HVAC system is not only inconveniencing but can cause serious discomfort and health problems for your family. Unfortunately, there are a number of things that can go haywire with a central heating system, particularly during freezing temps, when it is needed the most. The good thing is that there are several maintenance checks you can do to ensure the heating system keeps running smoothly throughout winter.

How to Test HVAC System for Winter

No one wants to get left out in the cold. Here are a few steps that you can take to test your heating system for winter:

Check whether your pipes are insulated.

Water pipes running through your home may or may not be insulated. Non-insulated pipes are more likely to burst when they freeze than those that are insulated. Having your pipes covered with foam pipe insulation safeguards them from the issues caused by cold weather. A bursted pipe can easily ruin your boiler. The boiler also struggles to work if the pipe is moist. This is why it is worth the investment to insulate your pipes to ensure that your system makes it through the winter.

Check the jacket on your hot water cylinder.

If your hot water cylinder is not wrapped with an insulation jacket, you need to do so before winter to boost its efficiency. The main advantage of the jacket is that it minimizes the stress on your boiler when temperatures begin to plummet. If you have exterior water tanks, give them the same treatment so that they don’t freeze over.

Clean out your old boiler.

Old HVAC systems can become less efficient because of accumulations and natural buildups over time. For instance, black sludge easily builds up in radiators, resulting in cold spots. HVAC dealers use special flashing pumps that exert high pressure through radiators, removing any accumulation of dirt or sludge to optimize the entire system. This quick treatment will make your whole system more efficient and protect it from potential malfunctions and blockages due to excess buildup of dirt and grime.

Check up on the boiler.

This may sound obvious but it is one of the most critical things to do with your boiler. Check the critical operation points of the boiler to ensure all connections are working properly. A Dayton heating professional can help you check inspect your unit to ensure that everything is ok. This kind of routine maintenance always costs less than repairing a broken system.

Do not turn off the boiler; keep it running.

While it’s okay to turn off your boiler at any time during any other season, winter is a very different story. Turning off the boiler can actually cause pipes to freeze, which is a perfect recipe for disaster. Keeping it running ensures that it doesn’t have to work so hard when you turn it back on. Maintain your system above freezing to avoid this costly pitfall.

Still worried about your heating system for this winter? Contact Butler Heating & Air Conditioning and we will make sure that your family is safe and sound this winter.

My Thermostat Stopped Working – HELP!

A dysfunctional HVAC system can often cause a lot of discomfort in a home. Whether it’s an unbearable cold temperature or a sticky warm breeze, we rely on our heaters and air conditioners to keep our indoors as comfortable as possible. But there are times when these appliances don’t deliver the kind of satisfaction we are looking for. Often the cause behind this is a faulty thermostat.

Troubleshoot Your Thermostat

Here are some easy to follow steps to help you troubleshoot your home thermostat:

Change the thermostat batteries.

There are a number of different thermostats available in the market, so before you go ahead and wrench out the panel in your wall, make sure you know where the batteries are located. Modern thermostats or “smart thermostats” don’t come installed with batteries, so you might need to call in an expert. However, most systems still run off of batteries. A simple replacement of the worn out cells can have your home feeling as snug and cozy as ever.

Thoroughly clean thermostat.

As with most electrical appliances, dust and dirt can collect in the interior, causing them to display inaccurate readings. Using a soft dry brush or cloth, it is important to regularly clean your thermostat and all the delicate components inside, like the coils and contact panels. It is important to remember that these devices are electrical and even a small amount of water could cause the device to malfunction, so stay away from damp cloths and wet brushes.

Try moving the location of thermostat.

While most people overlook this facet of proper thermostat care, it is one of the most important things to remember when installing a thermostat. The device needs to be placed in a cool area where external heat or sunlight cannot affect its reading. Placing the thermostat near a furnace will force it to read the temperature of the room as higher than it really is and will accordingly send wrong commands to the HVAC system in your home. Similarly, if the thermostat is placed near an air conditioner, its readings will be inaccurate and it will trigger premature blasts of warm air into your home.

Balance your thermostat.

Those that have invested in a smart thermostat or modern devices do not have to worry about leveling their thermostats, but for those with mechanical thermostats it is one of the most common causes of misreadings. Because most of the older thermostats have a mercury switch in them, they need to be perfectly level when installed. A slight tilt, either way, could result in an uncomfortable experience at home.

Adjust the anticipator.

If you don’t know what an anticipator is, open up the cover of the thermostat and look for a metal tab that sits on a scale which is usually marked as “shorter” and “longer”. It can be set to “longer” when the heat cycle continuously switches on and off, or when the furnace doesn’t seem to be reaching the preferred temperature. Changes can be made if the temperature is still not comfortable.

If all these steps prove ineffective, you can always call in the experts and have our Dayton HVAC team handle any problem in installation, replacement, temperature control, and any other HVAC system issue. Contact Butler Heating and Air Conditioning today!

 

Home Improvement Projects that Require a Pro

Home improvement projects are a great way to increase the value, functionality, and appearance of the home. Many of them are DIY-friendly and can be carried out by the homeowner without any issues. However, there are some projects that need a professional to do, not only for safety reasons, but for potential legal ones as well.

What are some Professional-Only Home Improvement Projects?

Whenever you’re going to be cutting into the walls, roof, or removing parts of them it’s always a good idea to know what is inside them and if they’re load bearing.

Knocking out an interior wall is a project that requires a professional. First they will need to determine if the wall can even be removed or not. If it is a load-bearing wall, then there’s no way it is going to be knocked down no matter how much you want an open floor plan.

Installing a skylight is another project that is professional-only. Cutting into the roof is not something that should be done by just anyone. There can be all sorts of infrastructure running through the area of the roof you want the skylight installed in. If you happen to cut into an electrical line, or disturb some old, asbestos installation, you’re going to have a bad time.

Anything that involves a gas line is an improvement project that you’re going to want to leave to the pros. Changing from an electric to a gas range, or the reverse, installing a new water heater, or installing a new furnace are definitely all projects the homeowner should not attempt. Not only do the utility companies advise against messing with their infrastructure, it is exceptionally dangerous if you do not have the proper training or tools.

If your HVAC system is in need of repair or maintenance for anything more involved than replacing a filter, you will need to hire a professional to handle it for you. There is risk of electric shock as well as the potential release of refrigerant that is illegal to vent into the atmosphere.

If you have been thinking about repairing your HVAC system, don’t. Give us a call at Butler Heating & Air Conditioning to come and service your equipment for you and our trained professionals will be glad to assist you.

Servicing HVAC Expansion Valves

The thermostatic expansion valve, or TXV/TEV, is an essential component of any HVAC system. Paying attention to how it is behaving, and servicing any issues, will ensure efficient functioning of your HVAC system.

When to Service the TXV

For the most part the thermostatic expansion valve will not need any maintenance if it was installed properly. The only real time it will need servicing is when something is wrong. And when something is wrong, it is a great tool to help diagnose what is wrong with the system, when looking at it symptomatically.

There are three main symptoms that the TXV will manifest when something is amiss: starving, flooding, and hunting.

Starving is when the TXV is not feeding enough refrigerant into the evaporator to equal the rate at which the refrigerant is being evaporated off. Symptoms of starving will include load temperature and superheat being too high. Superheat measurement is the more accurate way to verify this. The causes of starving include moisture being frozen in the valve, or foreign material in the lines which became stuck in the valve, blocking the flow of refrigerant. Installing a filter-drier ahead of the TXV will prevent this.

The next symptom that can manifest in the TXV is flooding. This occurs when the TXV releases too much refrigerant and the evaporator is unable to evaporate all of it off. When this happens, liquid is sent to the compressor which it is unable to compress and will make a lot of noise. The superheat will also be too low when flooding is a factor. As with starving, installing a filter-drier will help to prevent this.

Hunting is a combination of both flooding and starving. It will starve first, then flood to overcompensate, then starve, overcompensating again. The remedy for this is to ensure the installation was correct, check all seals and the bulb placement.

Many modern systems will have safety features that will not allow the system to operate if there is an issue with the TXV and alert you that way. A solid installation and a filter-drier will prevent nearly all issues with a TXV.

Follow the Butler Heating & Air Conditioning blog for more HVAC maintenance information.

Understanding The Ratings For Furnace Efficiency

If you’re in need of a new furnace, one factor to take into account when weighing options is the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating of each unit. That rating explains how much heat the furnace will produce, in comparison to the amount of energy it requires to produce that heat.

Understanding the AFUE rating

If a furnace is rated at 85 percent AFUE, that means that 85 percent actually becomes heat, while 15 percent of the energy used is lost. It’s important to know that the AFUE rating does not include the potential heat loss that can happen through ductwork, because ductwork in homes varies. Ductwork can lose up to 35 percent of their heating efficiency.

How to figure approximate AFUE ratings on older equipment

While the Federal Trade Commission requires manufacturers to include AFUE ratings on all new furnace systems, older systems may not have a rating or it may be difficult to find that information on older units. Low-efficiency furnaces can be identified by the use of a continuous pilot light. Typically, these units are between 56 and 70 percent efficient. Older models that use a fan to control airflow and have an electronic ignition fall between 80 and 83 percent. Meanwhile, older furnaces that use heat exchangers – where water is removed from the exhaust gas in a condensing unit, and the gas is then sent through a second exchanger – are considered higher in their efficiency. Ratings for this type of furnace fall between 90 and 98.5 percent.

What are your minimum furnace efficiency requirements?

There are government-based minimum furnace efficiency requirements every homeowner needs to be aware of. Non-condensing furnaces are required to be 78 percent efficient, except for those designed for use in a mobile home. Those units are required to be 75 percent efficient.

The Department of Energy (DOE) raised the efficiency requirements for many furnace styles in June of 2011. And while they were set to go into effect in 2013 and 2015, a January 11, 2013 court ruling has put a hold on the DOE increase pending the outcome of the lawsuit.

The requirements for mobile home oil furnaces (75 percent), electric (78 percent), gas-fired hot water boilers (82 percent), oil-fired hot water boilers (84 percent) and oil-fired steam boilers (82 percent) have not changed.

One of our expert HVAC professionals at Butler Heating & Air Conditioning will be happy to help you navigate current laws and what’s necessary for your own home.

In need of a new furnace? Call Butler Heating & Air Conditioning

While condensing systems are more expensive initially than non-condensing units, you save a significant amount in fuel costs over the unit’s life span because they are usually 10 percent more energy efficient. If you need to buy a new furnace, one of our HVAC professionals at Butler Heating & Air Conditioning can help you choose the best system for your needs. Call us, your Dayton HVAC experts, at (937) 262-4846.

Do Programmable Thermostats Really Benefit Me?

If you’re still using a manual thermostat, you may be wondering whether it’s time to switch to a programmable variety. Programmable thermostats have a number of features and benefits that can help you save money on your utility bills and also experience increased comfort at home.

Preset Solutions for Heating and Cooling

A programmable thermostat allows you to set your heating and cooling for a specific temperature instead of having to manually change the setting. To shave money of your utility bill, have a “setback” period for at least eight hours each day. If you set your thermostat back just one degree for eight hours, you can shave 1 percent from your heating and cooling bill. Each additional setback back will save 1 percent more. Many people have their thermostats set to decrease by 10 degrees at night or at work, which lowers their expenses.

Increased Comfort

The ability to program your thermostat means you can set it to begin heating or cooling your home before you get there, or before you wake up in the morning. With this convenience, you don’t have to wait uncomfortably for your home to reach the ideal temperature. It’ll also save you money, as it prevents you from having to leave the HVAC unit on all day and night.

Different Options

Programmable thermostats often have digital displays that are user friendly. They make it easy to preset certain temperatures for certain times of the day. Some also let you select different temperatures for weekends. Other options include:

  • Wi-Fi capabilities, to change the settings from any mobile device
  • Air filter alerts, so you don’t forget to change it
  • Manual overrides, which lets you manually change the setting any time without changing the preset program

When Programmable Thermostats Don’t Save You Money

While programmable thermostats are extremely convenient, in order to take advantage of the convenience and save money on your energy bill, you’ll have to be proactive about using it. For example, having a programmable thermostat and not setting it to reduce heating or cooling at specific times of the day will result in either the same energy usage, or even increased usage. If you’re unsure how to use your programmable thermostat, contact your HVAC technician or service representative. These thermostats have the potential to make your life easier, as long as you know how to take advantage of their features.

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Here are some Energy Saving Tips for your Home

Saving Energy, will save you money in the long run. Will help your system run smooth and have a comfortable home or office year long. Call us today and we can help you with anything HVAC related.

How Ductless Mini-Split Heat Pumps Work

Today, homeowners have an unprecedented array of choices when the time comes to replace a heating/cooling system. For example, instead of installing a standard centralized system, you can opt for a new type of system arranged around something called a ductless mini-split heat pump. Here are a few details that help explain why this temperature control system has a broad-based appeal.

Heat Pump Basics

Heat pumps don’t directly generate heat like a traditional furnace or an electric furnace. Instead, they pull heat from the surrounding environment, concentrate that heat and conduct it into your home’s interior. Depending on the model in question, a heat pump may pull heat from the ground, from the outside air or from a lake or some other water source. Despite their names, heat pumps can also cool your home in the summertime. They achieve this goal by reversing the direction of their air flow and pulling warmth out of the interior of your home.

Ductless Systems

Most homes in America have a standard, centralized indoor ducting system that carries air to and from all connected rooms at the same time. The individual ducts in this type of system are usually placed behind walls, above ceilings and/or below floors. As its name implies, a ductless system does not contain indoor ducts that run to a centralized point. Instead, the heating/cooling units mounted directly in individual rooms are equipped with relatively small tubes called conduits, which exit straight from the room to the outside via a hole in the wall or floor. Outside the building, the conduits in each room run to heat pump’s location.

Mini-Split Systems

Unlike a standard, centralized air system, a mini-split system lets you set up individual temperature control zones inside your home by separately controlling the function of room-mounted heating/cooling units. You can use this increased control to do such things as increase or lower the temperature in only certain parts of the house, or even avoid sending any heat or air conditioning at all to specific rooms or entire areas of the house. While basic mini-splits may only let you set up two separate temperature zones, more sophisticated mini-splits will allow you to set up five or more zones.

To sum things up, a ductless mini-split heat pump lets you direct heat from the surrounding environment to separately controllable zones inside your home without taking up the interior space required for a traditional ducting network. Unless winters in your area bring especially harsh temperatures, this type of setup may be just the ticket for advanced, efficient home heating (and cooling).

For more information on the latest innovations in home heating and cooling, make sure to bookmark this blog and check back with us often.