Big-ticket items deserve big-ticket evaluations, so if you’re considering a furnace replacement, you’re wise to evaluate the problems your furnace is giving you compared to the cost of purchasing a new one. You may have heard that today’s Energy Star furnaces are superior to their predecessors, with some achieving more than 95 percent efficiency. As a consumer, this means that you can expect to shave about $17 for every $100 you spend to heat your home—a number that may help you determine how long it will take to recoup the cost of a furnace replacement. Other numbers, especially those surrounding future furnace repairs, are more difficult to forecast. Like most electrical systems, even well-maintained furnaces deteriorate over time. If you’ve already gotten 15 to 20 years from your furnace, you’re lucky. But certain conditions and warning signs usually indicate that your furnace is on borrowed time. Consider:
- A yellow burner flame intruding on the bright blue flame - These could signify dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. If you don’t have detectors in your home, be alert for outbreaks of nausea, headaches or disorientation—all signs of carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Your utility bills - Increases aside, if they’ve gotten bigger, it’s because an older, inefficient furnace costs more money to run.
- Your recent furnace repairs - A large Consumer Reports study found that when the vast majority of furnaces fail, they need significant (meaning costly) repairs.
- Inconsistent temperatures in your home, either between rooms or levels - This often is a sign that your furnace is struggling to circulate air properly.
- Uncomfortable air, whether it’s unusually dry, stuffy or humid - Poor air quality often indicates that your furnace can no longer sufficiently clean the air in your home.
- Loud or otherwise uncommon noises coming from your furnace - Consider this a literal cry for help.
At Gilman Heating & Cooling, we appreciate how difficult it can be to evaluate the need for a furnace replacement. And that’s why we’re eager to help. Call us for an appointment and we’ll diagnose the problems you're having. Then we'll work together to discuss a logical and sensible action plan, just as a big-ticket item deserves.
What are ductless mini splits? They're climate control units that don't use ductwork. They work well in home additions where no ducts are connected, as well as in historic homes whose original construction makes them hard to alter without changing the structural integrity of a building. Ductless mini splits can be used in almost any dwelling since they're so small and compact. Convenient and Economical Home Climate Control There are many convenient advantages to using ductless mini splits. First and foremost, they're great green alternatives to central heating and cooling units, using only a small proportion of energy compared to larger forced air systems. They only need to be used in rooms that have occupants, and they're cost efficient in that you're not paying for the energy spent used to heat unoccupied rooms like guest rooms. Though they're set up in individual rooms, like space heaters, they use less energy and don't present the same fire safety risks that space heaters do. Also, ductless mini splits don't blow in merely one direction in one specific area. They blow warm air onto the cold air that's low near the floor and warm it, evenly distributing heat. Getting the Most Heating Efficiency out of a Ductless Mini Split
- If ceiling fans are present, operating a ceiling fan in the clockwise direction will help disperse warm air near the ceiling downward so that it will recirculate.
- It's important to make sure that rooms already have thorough insulation. Whether it's wall insulation or sealing off windows, a room must be properly insulated for the best heating outcomes.
- Situate the outdoor component of the ductless mini split so that it's out of the way of snow. They must be raised off the ground at least two feet and have their own little roof so they don't get covered in snow.
If you'd like to learn more about how ductless mini splits can be used to heat or cool your home with optimum performance, or if you have questions about them in general, contact the pros at Gilman Heating & Cooling. We're proud to serve homeowners in and around the Virginia communities of Richmond, Ashland, Chesterfield, Hanover and Glen Allen.
Don’t let poor indoor air quality make you feel under the weather. Boost the indoor air quality in your home with the best air purifying plants available.
Best Air Purifying Plants for Your Richmond Area Home
- Spider plants - Spider plants remove poisonous gases, formaldehyde and xylene and are one of the best air purifying plants to place in the kitchen or near fireplaces where carbon monoxide accumulates.
- Boston fern - As natural humidifiers, Boston ferns release moisture into the air while removing pollutants like benzene, formaldehyde and xylene.
- English ivy - English ivy removes benzene, formaldehyde and various off-gas chemicals released by synthetics. This is one of the best air purifying plants for people with asthma and allergies.
- Areca palm - Areca palms are humidifying plants which remove formaldehyde and xylene.
- Golden pothos - This type of plant removes formaldehyde, benzene and xylene, but be careful, because this plant is toxic to small animals and children.
- Aloe vera - Air purifiers like aloe filter various gases from dangerous toxic materials. Its gel is used to help with skin burns.
- Chinese evergreen - One of the best air purifying plants, the Chinese evergreen removes benzene and formaldehyde.
- Snake plant - Snake plants have been found by NASA scientists to have the remarkable ability to absorb formaldehyde, nitrogen oxides and a variety of other airborne chemicals.
- Peace lily - Peace lilies reduce harmful indoor pollutants that may cause cancer. It's also one of the best air purifying plants for fighting pollution and absorbing excess carbon dioxide.
- Marginata - This plant removes benzene, formaldehyde and other toxins from the air. But beware—this can be poisonous to dogs.
Even the best air purifying plants need a little help! For the best indoor air quality, consider adding these features to your home's HVAC system:
- Whole-house air purifier - Whole-house air purifiers pull unwanted particles out of the air throughout your home.
- HEPA filters - HEPA filters remove 99 percent of unwanted particles 0.3 microns and larger from the air. Look for filters with a MERV rating of 17 to 19.
- Carbon filters - Carbon filters trap toxic gases in your home’s air.
- UV lights - Ultraviolet (UV) lights trap and kill bacteria and viruses in your home.
To learn more about improving the air quality in your home, contact Gilman Heating and Cooling. Our professional team proudly serves homeowners throughout Richmond, Ashland, Henrico, Chesterfield, Hanover, Glen Allen and surrounding areas.
A common problem that many homeowners face is the lack of temperature consistency throughout their homes, particularly between the upper and lower floors. During the summer months, temperatures may vary by several degrees, making the upstairs uncomfortable and undesirable. Here are some great tips on how to keep the upstairs cool in your Hanover home.
- Beef up your insulation. Make sure you have a minimum value of R-30 in your attic to stop the transfer of heat to your living space.
- Change the air filter. Dirty or clogged air filters decrease the efficiency of your cooling system. Change them every four to six weeks during peak season.
- Close your curtains. Keep window coverings closed during the day, particularly on windows that receive direct sunlight, to reduce heat gain through the glass.
- Check for leaks. Air leaks through windows, wall outlets or vents let the cold air out and the hot air in. Seal air leaks in problem areas with weatherstripping or caulking where applicable.
- Redirect the air. Partially close downstairs registers and fully open upstairs registers. It's important to note, however, that closing off any registers completely may create a pressure imbalance so be sure to maintain a sufficient degree of airflow.
- Use fans. Ceiling or floor fans can help make a room feel cooler, though they don’t actually change the temperature. Use them in conjunction with your A/C in occupied rooms to take advantage of the wind chill effect they produce.
- Call for an evaluation. Your local contractor can perform a home energy audit and recommend solutions to keep the upstairs cool in your home.
- Maintain the outdoor unit. Disconnect the power to the outdoor unit and gently hose off the coils to remove any accumulated dirt. Clean around the unit, removing any foliage or debris and trim long branches or grass within three feet on all sides including the top.
For more tips on how to keep the upstairs cool in your Virginia home, call the experts at Gilman Heating & Cooling. Since 1917, we've been providing top quality service to the residents of the Ashland, Chesterfield, Glen Allen, Hanover and Richmond areas.
Staying on top of your heat pump cooling system with routine maintenance will shave the cost of operating it. Hot temperatures in our region often extend into fall and when you give your cooling system a little attention mid-season, you might reduce energy consumption by as much as 25 percent, according to U.S. EPA estimates. The most important thing you can do to improve the efficiency of your heat pump is checking the air filter for the air handler monthly. Dirty filters slow the airflow through the air handler, slowing the cooling process. Dust can also enter the air handler and cover the evaporator coil, which insulates it. The cold refrigerant won't be able to remove as much heat from the air blowing over it and some of the refrigerant could return to the compressor as a liquid. This stresses the compressor and can cause premature failure. The outdoor condenser needs attention throughout the cooling season, as well. Hosing it off with a gentle spray will loosen the dust that collects on the coil, another simple maintenance job that improves cooling efficiency. Removing any vegetation or objects around the unit also improves airflow through it. Professional maintenance will improve the heat pump cooling system performance and lengthen the life of the equipment. When HVAC specialists service heat pumps, they inspect, clean and adjust all the parts, including:
- Measuring the refrigerant level and looking for leaks if it's low
- Lubricating the motors and checking the belt wear and tension
- Deep cleaning the evaporator and condenser coils
- Verifying the correct electrical sequences, making sure the heating function won't run when the heat pump is in the cooling mode
- Testing the airflow through the system and looking for ductwork problems if delivery is inadequate to a room or space
- Calibrating the thermostat
Maintenance is especially important for your heat pump cooling system because the appliance does double duty to keep you warm in the winter. If you'd like more information, contact Gilman Heating and Cooling. We've provided exceptional HVAC services for the Richmond, Ashland, Henrico, Chesterfield, Hanover and Glen Allen areas since 1917.