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What is Indoor Air Quality Testing?

Indoor air pollution is common in homes and the causes vary widely—these include pets, poor ventilation, and mold, among many others. Indoor air quality testing is a helpful service that can benefit your home by helping you become aware of pollutants and irritants that you may not know even exist in your air.

Indoor Air Quality Testing generally involves a collection of samples from your home’s air and building surfaces and may even involve computer generated air flow models of your home. This type of testing can help you discover whether these substances are lurking in your home:

Radon:

This invisible radioactive gas is probably the most problematic regarding indoor air quality and is responsible for many deaths each year. Radon can enter buildings as a “soil gas” or through contaminated drinking water. Homeowners can mitigate radon by increasing ventilation, improving water drainage systems, and sealing concrete slab floors.

Carbon Monoxide:

This indoor air contaminate is colorless, odorless, and highly toxic. Carbon Monoxide is a byproduct of the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, such as from faulty HVAC systems, tobacco smoke, and even space heaters that use fossil fuels. These substances can cause many effects from Carbon Monoxide buildup, include headaches, nausea, and even death.

Pet Dander and Debris:

Pet dander and other debris are common in homes with pets, yet homeowners should be aware of the potential concerns regarding air quality. Pet dander, which is essentially tiny flakes of skin from your pet, along with pet hair, can cause buildup in your home and have a major effect on your home’s air quality. Dander and other microscopic debris can get trapped within your home’s ductwork and can circulate throughout your home each time your HVAC system is turned on.

Asbestos:

Although most buildings built after 1975 do not contain asbestos, older buildings may house some of this problematic material. Typically, the asbestos fiber found in these older buildings do not cause any health concerns until they are disturbed by remodeling or home improvement efforts, such as drilling, sawing, or other renovations. When the asbestos containing materials are damaged, tiny asbestos fibers are released into the air. This can cause significant concerns for your lungs, and unfortunately, most symptoms from asbestos exposure don’t surface until almost 20 years after a person’s exposure to asbestos.

Mold:

Mold can cause concerns for your home’s air quality and are almost always caused by excessive moisture. Mold’s growth can be inhibited by keeping a humidifier in your home and making sure that the humidity levels in your home stay below 50%. A thorough mold inspection could potentially require a bit of destruction to your home, since mold tends to hide in hard to see areas, such as behind drywall or within your home’s foundation. Mold should be taken seriously as it can affect your home’s air quality, and cause extra issues for family members who suffer from asthma.

All of these potentially harmful substances can be discovered (and subsequently controlled) through Indoor Air Quality testing. Your home’s air quality is important for your health and your comfort. Be sure to get your air quality inspected if you suspect any of the above concerns. If you need help finding the right indoor air quality products for your home comfort needs, contact us today.

Don’t Become a Victim of One of These HVAC Scams

Your home air conditioning and heating systems are vital to keeping your home comfortable throughout the year. When you experience a breakdown, you may be tempted to call the first HVAC technician you come across, especially if your system stops working when you’re experiencing extreme temperatures. However, it’s important to not make snap judgements when it comes to HVAC repair and maintenance as this could leave you open to a dishonest salesperson or disreputable HVAC company that may be running a scam.

Most Common HVAC Scams

Since most homeowners do not know the ins and outs of their HVAC system, they rely on the expertise of heating and cooling technicians to diagnose and repair their issues. Unfortunately, there are some dishonest and inexperienced HVAC companies that may try to take your money and run.

Here are some of the most common HVAC scams to look out for when you find yourself needing a new system or heating and cooling repairs:

  • Pushy salespeople who try to sell you an oversized unit. Larger units may be more expensive and powerful, but bigger is not always better when it comes to HVAC units as having an oversized system can actually make your energy bills shoot through the roof and cause premature wear and tear on your system.
  • The technician tells you that your system needs to be replaced when it’s a relatively easy and affordable fix. Some scammers will take advantage of the fact that homeowners know very little about their AC and heater. Instead of performing the simple and affordable fix, they will recommend that you have your entire system replaced.
  • The HVAC service person charges you for parts that were not actually replaced. One trick that many scammers employ is giving you a non-itemized receipt or trying to slip in extra charges for parts and services that were not performed.
  • Non-certified or untrained technicians work on your unit. Some HVAC scammers will offer to complete repairs when they are not actually certified or trained to work on HVAC systems. Sometimes they may even offer a discount. This can cause more problems for your unit that may be even more costly to fix.

How to Avoid Becoming a Victim of HVAC Scams

One of the best ways to avoid becoming a victim of HVAC scams is by doing your research. Find a reputable HVAC company that has a long-standing positive reputation in your community. Ask whether their technicians are NATE certified and trained to diagnose and repair your specific HVAC system.

Once you find a reputable HVAC company, ask any questions or voice any concerns that you have about the issue before you hand over your credit card. Experienced HVAC technicians will be happy to explain what is wrong with your system and what the fix will entail. They should also provide an itemized receipt that shows all of the repairs they’ve made and which parts you are being charged for. If you are ever in doubt about a repair or replacement need, ask for a second opinion before paying someone to work on your system.

At McMaster Heating & Air Conditioning, our customers trust us for an honest diagnose and affordable repairs every service visit. If you think that you may have dealt with a non-reputable HVAC contractor and want a second opinion, contact us today. We would be happy to show you what it is like to deal with an experienced and reputable HVAC company.

Know The Signs To Replace A Heat Pump

Heat pumps have a maximum lifespan, even when properly maintained. Various issues can cause a heat pump to fail before its time, however. Homeowners should recognize the signs of a heat pump that is nearing the end of its usefulness so that it can be replaced before it becomes an emergency call.

Average Heat Pump Lifespans

A heat pump usually lasts about 10 years. If annual maintenance is done by a professional and homeowners perform regular cleaning and air filter replacements, the pump can last 15 years or more. If your heat pump is getting near the 10-year mark, pay attention to some indicators that might suggest it’s nearing the end of its effectiveness.

Needs More Frequent Repairs

The costliest sign of an ailing heat pump is the need for repair. If homeowners notice their equipment needs considerably more work than it used to, it may be a sign the system as a whole is breaking down and cannot be completely repaired any longer.

While replacing a heat pump is an expensive prospect, frequent repairs can quickly add up. To keep costs at a minimum, homeowners should be proactive and replace the heat pumps while they are dying but before they are dead.  

Making Strange Noises

If heat pump equipment begins making unusual noises, that may be a sign it needs repair. However, should the system continue making noises after the repairs are done, or a technician says there is nothing wrong with the pump, this may mean the system has a larger fault than a simple repair can fix.

Creates Higher Bills

As a heat pump breaks down, it will have to work harder to keep a house comfortable. To work harder, it uses more electricity. This results in higher energy bills. While a single high bill may not mean anything serious, several months of higher energy bills can be a sign a heat pump needs to be replaced.

Generates Inconsistencies In The Home

If a homeowner notices temperature, airflow, or humidity fluctuations in different areas of their home, this may point to a problem with their HVAC system. The problem could be in the ductwork rather than the heat pump, but if the ducts are cleaned and the issues remain, the heat pump may be the cause.

Offers Less Comfort

A telling sign that a heat pump needs replacing is less conditioned air in the home. Failing pumps may produce less hot or cold air for a variety of reasons. Some of these may be repairable, others may mean the entire system needs to be replaced. If you notice you’re your home is less comfortable on a consistent basis, you should have a technician service your system and assess whether it needs to be replaced. Contact McMaster Heating and Air today for diagnosis and heat pump replacement.

 

Getting the Most Out of Your Programmable Thermostat

Programmable thermostats have the potential to improve the efficiency of your heating and cooling system, and reduce your overall utility bills. However, you have to use your thermostat wisely in order to reap the potential savings. If you use your programmable thermostat in unintended ways, you may actually find your energy bills growing instead of shrinking.

Programmable Thermostats Offer Potential Savings

Fundamentally, reducing the amount of energy that you use to heat and cool your home comes down to using your HVAC system less. There are two basic ways to accomplish this—the first is to turn your HVAC system off whenever possible, and the second is to set your thermostat for moderate temperatures that your system won’t have to work overtime to achieve.

Programmable thermostats can help you to do both of these things consistently, which will almost certainly mean energy savings. These devices allow you to turn your system off automatically while you’re at work or sleeping, and program energy efficient temperatures for different times of year. Many such thermostats will even allow you to program different settings for weekdays and weekends.

Irresponsible Settings Can Be Costly

However, studies have found that many people use their programmable thermostats in ways that largely eliminate potential savings or even cost them money.

One study of 400 Florida homes found that people with programmable thermostats saved cooling energy while they were away, but used more when they were at home because they set their systems to much lower temperatures.

Many people also use their programmable thermostats to pursue extreme comfort at the cost of energy efficiency. They may run their air conditioner during the day and their heater at night in order to keep their home at one perfect temperature at all times, which uses a significant amount of energy.

Overall, research has shown such minimal average savings with programmable thermostats that the EPA suspended the ENERGY STAR certification for these devices in 2009.

You Are Your Most Important Energy Saving Tool

If you are motivated to reduce your energy consumption and lower your energy bills, programmable thermostats will probably help you to do so. These devices can guarantee smart energy use on a daily basis, and take human error out of the equation. Instead of having to remember to turn your system on and off several times each day, your thermostat will take care of it for you.

Programmable thermostats are energy saving tools, but as with all tools the way you use them is important. Simply purchasing a programmable thermostat is no guarantee that you will lower your energy bills—it’s up to you to program them in a way that will maximize the efficiency of your HVAC system.

Thank you for reading, and please follow our blog for more energy saving insight!

What Is An Energy Management System?

Energy managment systems are computer software used in managing and optimization of energy grid systems to achieve higher efficiency. In the utility industry, it is used to manage HVAC and lighting systems across a wide area. This technology achieves its objectives through providing monitoring and metering functions to the building managers to enable them to make informed decisions.

The Use of EMS in Home Energy Management

Management of energy concentrates more on the commercial buildings, but residential homes are beginning to be wary of increasing energy consumption that is costly. Home heating and cooling account for a huge percentage of home utility bills. To best manage energy at home, the HVAC systems must be serviced from time to time. Interval data from the thermostat should be interpreted using the energy managment systems to inform the homeowners accordingly.

Importance of Energy Management Systems

This computer technology aids organizations to save energy through reduction of operational costs. This affects the organizational profitability that translates to energy efficiency. Therefore, management of energy helps governments formulate policies used to manage energy prices, carbon emissions among other global goals towards clean energy. For this reasons, energy managment systems help save the environment as well as reduce over-dependence on non-renewable sources of energy like fossil fuels. At the organizational level, energy management helps cut down energy use, lower risk of price fluctuations and also reduce carbon emissions. Even individual homeowners have targets aimed at reducing energy use. For this reason, identifying the best EMS is crucial for the achievement of this objective.

Best Ways to Manage Energy Using EMS

To manage energy consumption, collect more accurate and reliable data. For this case, choose the interval method over the conventional reading of the meter on a monthly basis. Manage waste in buildings by switching off equipment and gadgets when not in use as well as consider insulation or equipment upgrade. All these energy management strategies are crucial in reducing energy use. Tracking the above steps is possible through the use of energy management systems. They give real time data on a high level of accuracy.

To reduce utility bills in your home, be sure to follow us for more articles that will keep your heating and cooling systems running efficiently.

Reasons To Replace Your Attic Insulation

Correct home insulation is vital for the proper heating and cooling of your home. Insulation in a newer home will be of a much higher quality than insulation in an older home, due to wear and usage. A old, faulty or worn out insulation system will result in a higher electricity bill, or may be like a sauna in summer and a freezing cold house in winter, among other problems.

The air conditioning and heating units normally draw a lot of electricity. However, if you notice a higher electric bill than usual, it could be a sign that your insulation needs replacing. This is limit the amount of cold and warm drafts in the home as well as lower your monthly utility bill significantly. Some other signs that you insulation needs to be replaced include inconsistent room temperatures. You may experience your bathroom being extremely cold or your living room feeling too warm for comfort. This is a sure sign that your insulation needs to be checked. Insulation that was installed in previous years in older homes was not of the same high quality as the insulation that is installed in newer homes. The best way to check if insulation has gotten too old to function effectively, is to put on some gloves and feel the attic insulation. If it crumbles, then you need to get a newer and more superior system installed. Older homes also have the choice of green options, which can lead to energy savings too. Pests enjoy a warm an cozy home just as much as you do. So if you have a pest problem, be sure to check the insulation in the attic and the basement as this is where they like to get comfy. Water damage is another reason as to why you need to get your insulation replaced, if not mold can grow and spread throughout your home.

You may choose to have the insulation put in by yourself, however, you may encounter some challenges and leaving the task to professionals will give you more peace mind knowing that the job is done competently and professionally. Follow us for more info on how to keep your HVAC running smoothly and saving you money.

Energy Efficiency Tips For Your HVAC System

Turning off the AC

For those concerned more about energy use as opposed to quality of life, then turning off the AC would be the better option. For most people however, there are several considerations to keep in mind before leaving the unit off for the whole day. Depending on the size of the home and the equipment’s capacity, it could take some time before the house cools down to a comfortable temperature before one comes back. During the summer, the house could also become very hot and make life hard for pets.

A programmable setback thermostat allows one to automatically program their AC to run less when the house is unoccupied. This device has multiple time and temperature settings (for both heating and cooling mode) for various times of day and days of the week. Energy Star-rated thermostats come readily programmed for normal weekend and weekday use.

To make the most of this gadget, one could set the wake, sleep and return temperature to their desired level. The leave temperature should be set about 5 to 10 degrees higher than the desired level. The return time should also be set for about one hour before when one comes back. If the house doesn’t feel comfortable on entry, lowering the temperature or setting an earlier time could help. With some fine-tuning, one can achieve good energy savings without sacrificing too much on comfort.

 

Energy Efficiency Tips for Hot Days

When it’s very hot, most AC units run round the clock to maintain a reasonable indoor temperature. There are a few things one can do to lower the equipment’s power consumption. Such include cleaning the filters, vents and registers regularly, using a ceiling fan and closing the curtains during the day. Old HVAC devices typically consume more power as compared to their modern counterparts. Replacing an old unit with a newer Energy Star-rated A/C with a high SEER rating could help one realize significant savings on their energy bill.

 

A/C Fan Settings

Setting the fan to automatic as opposed to running it continuously helps save more energy. There may however be some valid reason why one may want to let the fan run continuously. This can be done to reduce the risk of fan failure, reduce dust and humidity or improve air circulation in the house.

 

Using Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fans used in conjunction with an A/C can help save energy. The fans create a chilling effect which allows for the A/C set point to be raised without affecting comfort. Because ceiling fans use less energy as compared to an air conditioning system, one can save about 20-50% this way.

 

Saving Energy Without Using a Timer on the Thermostat

Turning down the thermostat can save a significant amount on the heating bill. It can also be lowered during unoccupied hours and at night. Registers and vents should also be kept clean to enhance unobstructed air flow. Vents to unoccupied rooms should also be shut. If the house has a fireplace, the doors and dampers should also be shut. One also needs to insulate ductwork in unconditioned areas, such as the attic and crawlspaces. It should also be checked frequently for leaks. Plastic window insulation kits and a whole-house humidifier will also help save energy.

 

Heating Options

Space heaters are better at saving energy because one only heats a single room as opposed to baseboard heaters which heat the entire house. This however only applies when one is comparing between electrical devices. Steam baseboard heating would be cheaper because natural gas is cheaper than electrical energy. Follow us for more articles that your HVAC systems running comfortable and efficiently.

What It Means To Be A Carrier Factory Authorized Dealer

When you select a Carrier factory authorized dealer, you can expect exemplary quality, service and support. Relatively few HVAC contractors meet the performance standards needed to qualify for this distinction. All Carrier FADs employ highly skilled personnel and reliably uphold their equipment warranties. They offer the best in A/C and heating services.

 

Advantages

Customers gain a wide range of benefits when they hire installers or repair providers that have been authorized by this manufacturer. You will receive top-notch customer service, lasting repairs and reliable equipment. These dealers are known to surpass their competitors in three important areas:

  1. Knowledge: Every authorized contractor employs staff members who have obtained extensive training from Carrier. Their work meets high standards this manufacturer has established. These technicians know how to install and repair equipment so it works properly for years to come. They never take risky shortcuts to save time or money. These contractors have earned federal government certifications that confirm their ability to handle refrigerants safely.
  2. Advice: Carrier FADs also need to show they can accurately recommend the most suitable equipment for each client. Sales representatives must understand the features and capacities of each cooling or heating system. They apply this expertise to help customers select equipment that can efficiently provide adequate climate control for specific buildings.
  3. Reputation: This manufacturer expects its factory authorized dealers to operate in an ethical, honest manner. Qualifying contractors must consistently follow the terms specified in their warranties. They also need to verify they have purchased the necessary insurance policies and obtained all of the required licenses from state agencies.

Services

Factory authorized dealers provide an impressive assortment of cooling and heating services. They sell equipment ranging from heat pumps and furnaces to central air conditioning systems. Maintenance services, one-time repairs and service contracts are usually available as well.

The bottom line is that all factory authorized dealers deliver superb products and services on a consistent basis. Carrier backs them up with a guarantee that ensures 100 percent customer satisfaction. As always, please follow us to learn more about keeping your HVAC equipment running efficiently and reliably.

Do I Need Maintenance For My Heating And Cooling System?

Do you really need to have maintenance performed on your heating and cooling system? After all, HVAC maintenance can be pricey and there’s no guarantee that the person who comes out to see your unit will actually find anything wrong. Indeed, many homeowners who are on a tight budget tend to skip maintenance whenever possible, preferring instead to hope that their HVAC unit will run just a little longer. If you own a home, you need to understand that HVAC maintenance is just as important as any other kind of home maintenance. Without, you might suffer several problems.

The first set of problems that you might encounter without proper maintenance is related to your family’s health. An HVAC unit that has not been properly maintained can encounter several problems. At the very least, the air quality of your home might become inadequate, leading to respiratory issues. You might have to deal with something more severe, though, like loose electrical wires and even open flames. In a worst-case, though distressingly common, scenario, you might even have to deal with carbon monoxide leaks. If you keep up with your maintenance, you can avoid many of these problems before they start.

If you manage to avoid the physical issues caused by poor maintenance, you probably won’t avoid the financial problems that come from the same problem. A poorly maintained unit is more likely to break down and more likely to do so catastrophically. This means higher repair bills – generally much higher than the cost of having maintenance done. Even if the unit doesn’t break down, it won’t work as efficiently as the original design would suggest. That means higher energy bills for you across the course of the year and a shorter life for your HVAC system.

So, should you have HVAC maintenance done? Of course you should! If you fail to do so, you’re putting your HVAC unit and health in danger. All you need to do to avoid problems is get your regular maintenance done. For more information about HVAC units, HVAC safety and home needs, make sure to follow us.

Buying A New Carrier HVAC System? Use These Terms To “Talk The Talk”

When you want to purchase a new Carrier HVAC system, you should know the terms that you are likely to come across at a contractor’s shop. Educating yourself on the meaning of the terms can be beneficial and will help you know what to expect from a system you are purchasing. It is advisable to ask for recommendations from an experienced HVAC contractor on the best system to go for. You should also buy your unit from a Carrier factory authorized dealer in your area.

Some of the common HVAC terms that you will come across in your search for a new system include the following:

The refrigerant: This is a liquid substance that circulates through the AC. It absorbs and releases heat as required based on how the air conditioner has been set.

The coil and evaporator: These two AC components work together to enable refrigerant flow in the air conditioner and release heat. The coil may have fins to increase its surface area and thus release more heat within a short time. In the evaporator, the refrigerant absorbs heat from the surroundings and turns to a low-temperature vapor.

The compressor and condenser: These component work hand in hand to compress and condense the refrigerant respectively as it circulates in the system. When the refrigerant is compressed, its temperature increases and turns it to vapor. On the other hand, when it condenses, it liquefies and gives off heat to the surroundings.

The expansion device: This device causes the AC temperature to drop by releasing the pressure that the compressor creates. When the pressure is released, the refrigerant turns from vapor to a vapor-liquid mixture form.

The plenum: This is an air compartment that distributes warmed or cooled air all around the system. The component is generally located immediately above the heat exchanger.

Buying a Carrier HVAC Unit
Many stores stock Carrier AC units. Ensure the unit you are buying is original and comes with the manufacturer’s warranty. McMaster Air Conditioning in Orange County offers original units that will serve your home for a good number of years without needing replacement. McMaster has won the Carrier President’s Award 4 years running

Knowing the terms related to HVAC will enable you to better understand whether the system that you want to purchase will be efficient. If you are buying or replacing your HVAC for the first time, it is advisable to contact a local HVAC contractor for advice on selection.