Heating

Q. Why is My Furnace Leaking?

Condensation

The most common culprit is a condensation leak. This type of furnace leak can occur as a result of the condensation you get from the cool exhaust on high-efficiency furnaces. If you’re not your unit is high-efficiency, there’s a quick way to tell: a white plastic vent pipe running into the furnace is a sure sign.

If you do have a high efficiency unit, you should also have a floor drain that helps remove condensation. Check to make sure that you do have a drain and that it isn’t clogged or covered. If it’s not that, you should check for a break in the condensation tubing line.

Other Possible Causes

If you have a metal exhaust pipe running into your furnace instead of a white plastic PVC pipe, you have a standard efficiency unit. These furnaces should not be producing condensation, so you can rule that out. An improperly sized flue pipe is one of the more common reasons for a standard efficiency water leak.

When it comes to high efficiency furnace leaks, condensation isn’t the only possibility. It could be that you have a faulty secondary heat exchanger. If this is the case, do it yourself options are probably out the window. That’s a serious issue that could likely require an overhaul or complete replacement of your Denver heating unit.

The furnace humidifier is another possible culprit. If a humidifier is leaking inside your furnace, it poses a real threat and needs to be dealt with quickly. Internal leaks can lead to expensive damage to your heating equipment.

Q. When Should You Replace Your Furnace Filter?

Each furnace filter has different recommendations for when they should be changed. Some are even reusable and require you to just wash them and put them back in your furnace. The general rule for filter replacement is once every month. Thicker filters don’t have to be changed as often, such as 6-inch filters, which can last between 6 to 12 months before they need to be replaced. The furnace filter is essential for keeping your heating and cooling system clean. The air in your home is pulled into the return ductwork via the blower fan, so it can be heated or cooled and pumped back into your home. The filter is responsible for cleaning the air that is pulled into your unit before it comes into contact with expensive components inside your HVAC system.

Q. Does Altitude Affect Home Heating?

Denver area residents are used to making little adjustments in their lives to fit the altitude. We have to tweak recipes in the kitchen, tinker with vehicle tire pressure out in the garage, and more. Did you know that some of your HVAC equipment also needs an adjustment to reach peak performance at high elevation?

It is suggested that homes at 2,500 feet elevation and above need to have furnaces that are capable of handling higher altitude. The problem is that thinner air is not as good at carrying heat. To maintain high efficiency in this type of environment you cannot just use the exact same furnace someone is using at sea level.

How big is the effect? Let’s use an example of a heating unit that puts out 35,000 BTUs at sea level. It is estimated that placing the same unit at an elevation of 5,000 feet should lead to roughly 20 percent loss in capacity. It works out to about four percent loss in capacity for every 1,000 feet above sea level. That’s a pretty big effect.

Thanks to our experience and expertise, this isn’t something you really have to worry about. At Grand Home Services, our professional installers have conversion kits that will allow new liquid propane gas and natural gas furnaces to operate just as efficiently as units positioned at sea level.

Q. Are Ductless Heat Pumps a Good Option in Colorado?

Heat pumps can be incredibly efficient and environmentally friendly, and make heating your Colorado home easy.

Many years ago any type of heat pump was not the best choice for colder climates as they would have trouble heating air that was 40 degrees or below. Thanks to technology this has changed. The new systems work extremely well to extract and produce heat from even the coldest of air. Refrigerant, coils and compressors have all been upgraded and manufactured to make the process of heating and cooling the air easier and this gives you a great heating system that can save you a whole lot on energy costs.

Q. What is a Forced Air Heating System?

Forced air heating systems work with a furnace and ductwork. You need ductwork installed in your home if you are looking to use a forced air heating system. The system cycles the air in your home through the ducts onto the furnace where the air is heated and filtered then back through the ducts and into your home. In conjunction with your thermostat, you can keep the temperature in your home consistent throughout by using a forced air heating system.

Q. Why Is My Boiler Making a Banging Sound?

When the pipes in your home grow old, it’s common for them to start making all sorts of noises. Some sound like the moans and groans of an old man and others just plain banging sounds. When your boiler starts to bang like a hammer, then it could be time to have it checked out by a professional. To learn what could possibly be wrong with your boiler, read on!

What the Issue Likely Is

Excessive water can be caused by it either leaking through the automatic fill or the automatic fill trying to make up for insufficient water that it thinks is occurring during a surge.  A surge of water happens when the water becomes dirty and is pushed into the pipes while warming up. Once the water comes back from the pipes, additional water is then added, making it too much.

How to Tell if This is the Issue

You can check this out by looking through the steam cage glass and seeing if it is 75 percent full, like it should be, to allow air inside to help create steam. If you notice that the water levels are falling or rising during the heating process, then you may see the water completely disappear. This is due to it being pushed through the pipes, causing surging.

When you notice this type of problem, it’s important to consult with a professional. Some people make the mistake of adding water to an empty tank that is very hot, which can cause it to crack or even explode.

Q. Is It Worth Replacing a Boiler With a Furnace?

If you live in an older home that has a boiler system in place to heat your home, you may be considering what other options you have. Common heating sources throughout the Denver area include boilers, however, most households now heat their home through a furnace.

Converting your boiler to a furnace system can be a big job and the cost is not cheap, but there may be some worthwhile benefits from undertaking these changes. Grand Home Services can provide you with a quote and information about switching your boiler system to a gas furnace, contact our team today to find out more.

Boiler to Gas Furnace Conversion

If you are looking into switching your system over, there are a few things you will want to consider.

  • If your home has always run on a boiler system, converting to a furnace may include the installation of ductwork, which can be a big job. The cost of the ductwork can vary depending on the size and design of your home.
  • You will want to have any conversions done before winter hits. This is due to the fact that switching from one system to another can take time and there will be days where you won’t have any heat available.
  • Converting from a boiler system to a gas furnace may increase your home’s value, especially if you are incorporating a full central heating and cooling system.
  • Many newer boilers offer energy efficiency levels that match those of a central ducted system. They can also provide cleaner air and even heating to your home. If your boiler is working fine and its efficiency seems to be good, you may want to put off changing to a gas furnace.
  • If you don’t want to deal with ductwork but would still like to switch out your boiler, you may want to consider  a ductless system.
Q. What is AFUE?

AFUE is a rating that can help you understand how well your furnaces system converts the fuel into energy to help your system heat your home. The higher the AFUE rating the more fuel is actually being used and the less fuel is being wasted.

AFUE stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. Most gas furnaces have an AFUE rating of between 89% and 98% making them a lot more efficient than an oil furnace. The remaining percentage of fuel used in your system will often escape through venting, or go back into the system to help fuel other areas.

The department of energy has set a minimum standard of 78 percent when it comes to the AFUE, however this number can change on a year to year basis as technology changes.

AFUE and Your New Furnace

When it comes to purchasing a furnace the higher the AFUE the better a gas furnace is going to be more efficient than an oil furnace. This is due to the fact that most oil furnaces have an AFUE of between 80 – 90 percent.

Here in Denver most furnaces used in housing are gas furnaces, this makes replacing your old furnace with a new gas furnace that has a high AFUE a lot easier.

Cooling

Q. How Do I Take Care of My Outside Air Conditioning Unit?

Outside air conditioning units are built tough and made to withstand the elements they are exposed to throughout the year. Still, there are things you should do as a homeowner to protect your outside air conditioning unit against damage:

  • Keep the exterior of the unit free of debris throughout the year. Periodically, check the unit and remove any buildup of grass clippings, leaves, and other items.
  • Do not allow vegetation to grow up on the unit. Remove any plants growing in the immediate area surrounding your unit.
  • Keep a 2-foot clearance surrounding the unit to allow air to move freely through it. Do not plant shrubs, flowers, or do other landscaping against the unit.
  • If installing fencing around the unit, keep a 2-foot clearance to allow access for service and repairs. Consider using an open design that will not restrict airflow to the unit.
  • Check your gutters and keep them well maintained to prevent water from leaking into the outdoor air conditioning unit.
  • Keep trees trimmed and remove dead branches to prevent a falling limb from damaging your outside air conditioning unit in a storm or heavy winds.
  • If your outside air conditioning unit is within a fenced yard, keep gates locked to help deter theft. If your unit is visible on the side of the house, you may consider installing a surround or landscaping to hide the unit – just remember to leave at least 2 feet of space surrounding your outside air conditioner.
Q. How Do I Extend the Life of My AC Unit?

As a homeowner, there are a few things you can do to help your air conditioner last longer:

  • Have preventative maintenance performed on your cooling system every year, preferably before the start of cooling season. Preventative maintenance tunes up your cooling system to counteract the effects of wear and tear, improves efficiency, and catches defects so they can be repaired before further damaging the system.
  • Change your air conditioning filter on a regular basis, at the frequency recommended by the filter’s manufacturer or sooner if needed. Clean air filters allow air to move correctly through the system, allowing the air conditioner to perform optimally.
  • Keep a clearance of at least 24 inches surrounding your exterior air conditioning unit to facilitate proper airflow. Do not store items against the outdoor unit.
  • Call your HVAC technician for repairs at the first sign of system trouble – do not continue operating your air conditioner when malfunctions are present. Operating a malfunctioning system can cause extensive damage, and even unfixable breakdowns.
  • Use energy efficient thermostat settings to reduce AC system use. With your air conditioner operating less and more efficiently, you’ll save money and conserve system life.
Q. Why Schedule An AC Tune-Up in Spring?

You may be wondering what purpose maintaining your AC system serves. Why take the time to schedule a spring tune-up when your Denver home’s AC system seems to be working just fine?

There are several reasons why scheduling a tune-up for your AC system in the Spring is a good idea.

  • Save Money – This is one of those times where spending a small amount can save you a lot up front. Not only will your system work more efficiently but having a tune-up performed can spot small problems before they turn into larger issues.
  • Comfort – When a system is running effectively it will keep your home comfortable. If you find you have hot spots throughout your home in the summer months, cleaning out your system and preparing it to work through the summer can keep your home a lot more comfortable.
  • Safety – Your AC system has many electrical parts, these electrical parts like any electrical pieces can become a safety issue if they are not working correctly. Having a professional check your AC system can help prevent safety issues from arising.
  • Less Repair Calls – Keeping your AC system running effectively and safely means making less repair calls.  No need to memorize the AC repair person’s number, your system will have a better chance at running efficiently and effectively all summer long.

This is just a small way having regular tune-ups performed can benefit your AC system and home.

Q. Why Does My AC Smell Musty?

There are many reasons why you may be smelling that musty smell coming from your home’s AC system.

  • Stagnant water sitting in your AC’s drip pan this could lead to mildew build up within your system. When water pools it often means there is a blockage somewhere in the condensate drain pipe.
  • Your AC system could be too big for the amount of square footage it is cooling, causing air to rush through the system without dehumidifying, leading to too much moisture in your pipes causing mold and mildew to build up.
  • High humidity levels due to dirty ducts and vents can cause mold and mildew build-up throughout your home, including in your AC ducts and vents. Mold can spread quickly and you will be able to smell that musty smell when your AC turns on.

If you switch your AC on, only to find there is a musty smell coming from your vents, it is a good idea to get your system checked. Leaving your system could not just lead to a smelly home, but may also cause health problems with those living in your home.

Q. Should I Have New Air Ducts Installed with My New AC?

While ducts shouldn’t need to be replaced every time you get a new AC system, here are the times we recommend replacing your ducts:

  • Mold – If you have mold in your air ducts, completely eradicating the problem from your current ducts is nearly impossible. When mold gets into your air ducts it can cause problems with your families health and although costly it is always better to start from scratch in this circumstance.
  • Uneven Cooling – If your current AC system cannot cool each room or area of your home evenly it may be that the ducts are damaged or they are just insufficient for getting enough cooled air into your home. If you have hot spots throughout your home in the summer you may want to consider upgrading your ducts with your new AC.
  • Bigger AC System – If you are installing a larger AC system to meet the demands of your home, new ducts will help increase the airflow throughout your home.
  • Damaged Ducts – If your old ducts have cracks, aren’t sealed correctly are rusty and they are leaking cooled air, updating your original ducts can help keep your energy costs low and the air inside your home cleaner.

If any of the above issues are happening with your AC system and air ducts, you may want to replace the ducts for a more efficient and effective cooling system.

Q. Why Is My AC Leaking?

While a drop of water here and there may be normal when it comes to your AC, constant leaking or pooling of water is not normal and is likely signaling that something is wrong. Water that is building up outside or inside of your home can cause damage to your home’s structure, so it is a good idea to have a leaking system taken care of promptly.

Here are a few reasons why you may be seeing water leaking from your system:

  • Poor Installation – An AC unit that is not installed correctly may not be level, if this is the case too much pressure may build up within your system causing many issues including the pooling of water.
  • Condenser Pump – If your condenser pump is broken, it won’t be able to do its job of pumping out excess water. This can quickly cause water to build up in the condenser pan, causing the water to overflow.
  • Condensate Drain Line Issues – If your condensate drain line is clogged or damaged, this can cause water to backup and overflow, drip, or leak.
  • Air Leaks – The sealing around your air conditioner prevents too much warm air getting in around your unit. When there are air leaks, the warm air meets the cool air and this can cause excess condensation to build up.
  • Frozen Coils – The coils inside your AC unit can freeze up. When this happens ice can form around the coil. Once you have turned your system off and it begins to defrost, the ice can melt causing a puddle to form around your unit.
Q. Does Rain Affect My Air Conditioning Unit?

Your AC unit is made up of aluminum, copper and/or other metals or metal alloys. This allows your AC unit to resist damage due to excess water from rain. These pieces are created in a way that they are protected and sealed so that your home can go on and keep on cooling even when it’s pouring outside.

So the answer to the rain question, no, it is not likely that rain will damage you AC unit. However, other weather occurrences may not be as kind to your AC unit:

Flooding – While heavy rain might not do damage, deep standing water can. Standing water that is around or above 15 inches can get into the moving parts in your AC unit. This can cause damage to your electrical components.  If your area suffers from flooding,  be sure to have your unit check out by an HVAC professional.

Storms – If you have bad storms that include hail or high wind this can cause debris to get inside your outdoors AC unit. This debris can then get into the different parts of your AC unit. If you suspect that damage has occurred after a storm, turn off your AC unit and call for maintenance.

Winter Snow and Ice – If  you are concerned about corrosion from winter moisture getting into your system you may want to choose to cover your AC system. For the most part, snow and ice will not do damage to your system however on the odd occasion moisture may get trapped and caused corrosion.

If Denver suffers from a bad storm and you are concerned that damage has been done to your AC system, be sure to switch it off first. Once you have switched it off, contact the team at Grand Home Services, we can inspect your AC unit, checking for and repairing any storm damage.

HVAC

Q. What Happens When Filters are Dirty?

You may not think too much about your HVAC’s system filters, but these filters do an important job in keeping your HVAC system running efficiently and effectively.

When your home’s air filters get dirty they can become clogged. This causes your HVAC system to have to work harder to push the heated or cooled air into your home.  This can put stress on your HVAC system and can also cause your energy bills to rise.

Dirty filters also do a poorer job at keeping the air entering your home clean.

Q. How Often Should I Replace My Home’s Air Filters?

How often you should change your air filter depends on your home’s individual circumstances. It is recommended you change your filter at least every 8 – 12 weeks, however, the following events may mean you need to change your filter out more often:

  • Pets – If you have pets you may want to change your air filter on a monthly basis. Pet fur and dander can quickly build up on and around your filter causing blockages.
  • Heating and Cooling Season – If you are having a particularly hot summer or cold winter, you may find your AC system is on more. This means more is being filtered out of the air and your filter is likely getting a workout. In this case changing your filter, every 6-8 weeks can help.
  • Allergies – If you or someone in your home has bad allergies, changing the filter out more often can help relieve some of the symptoms. In this circumstance, a monthly change will help.
  • Bad Air Quality – If the air quality in Denver is bad, and we do have those times, it is a good idea to change out your filter more often as more allergens will make their way into your vents.

Changing out your filter on a regular basis will protect your system from having to work too hard and prevent dirty air from entering your home.

Q. How Can I Lower My Energy Bills?

Lowering Your Energy Bills in Winter

  • Let the Sun In – We are so lucky to have plenty of sunshine here in Colorado. During winter open up your blinds and curtains during the day. The sun will heat up your spaces naturally and your furnace/heating system will cycle on and off a whole lot less.
  • Insulate – If you feel cold air coming in through the door and windows go to your local home improvement store and buy some weather stripping. Fill in the gaps where the air is coming in. You can also use heavy curtains at night to help keep the cold gushing in.
  • Reverse the Fans – Reversing your fans can help push the hot air that rises back into your space. Find the switch on the side of your fan and get your ceiling fans working for you.
  • Embrace Coziness – Embrace a little cozy in your life. Add cozy blankets to your space. You can do this in place of turning the thermostat up, it will also help you relax!

Lowering Your Energy Bills in Summer

  • Block the Sun – In summer you want to do the reverse of winter. You want to keep the blinds and curtains closed during the hottest parts of the day or when the sun is beating in.
  • Use Fans – Don’t just think ceiling fans. If you have a two-story home and your second story is always hot. Use fans to push the cool air from downstairs into your upstairs area.
  • Open Windows at Night – We are lucky to live in a place that cools off at night. Opening the windows and using window fans can help you cool off the house at night so that you can turn off the AC for longer periods of time.

Lowering Your Energy Bills Throughout the Year

No matter what season it is there are two things you can do to help reduce your energy costs.

  • Change Your Filter Out – Changing your HVAC system filter can help your systems run more efficiently. It will also keep the air in your home cleaner.
  • Have Your HVAC Systems Maintained – Maintaining your heating and cooling system will help you save money on your energy costs and will help your systems run more effectively.
  • Upgrade to a More Energy Efficient System – In the last decade, efficiency levels of HVAC systems has increased significantly. If your system is 20 years old or more, you could be paying twice as much to heat and cool your home!
Q. Is a Heat Pump Reliable In Denver, CO?

Heat pumps are a great way to both heat and cool your home. Yes, they do both, you can have one system that will keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer and do this efficiently.

In winter your heat pump will draw heat from the heat molecules in the air outside, this will then be heated to the right temperature and pumped into your home. In summer, your heat pump works in reverse by pulling heat out of the air and dispersing it outside. This method can be really effective in keeping your home comfortable.

So does this process work in Denver CO? Absolutely, thanks to the fact that the dry air in our area cools off at night and in the morning, drawing heat from the air inside your home can really work. Especially if you keep your windows open at night to let that cool air in as a base.

In winter we can get very cold days, a good heat pump, noticed I said good, can work well in place of a furnace. The key here is to install the right heat pump. Some heat pumps will not work well in a colder climate, however installing the right brand or model can certainly make a difference in your home in the winter months.

Q. What Is HVAC Zoning?

HVAC Zoning break your home up into different zones or areas. Each of these zones is then controlled by a separate thermostat. You may have different zones for your living and sleeping areas, or you may have an upstairs and downstairs zone. No matter how you decide to zone your home, zoning will allow you to direct hot or cold air only where you need it. Zoning is perfect for large or multi-level homes.

The system itself works through controlled dampers. These dampers are in your ductwork and work to control the flow of air throughout your home.

Your thermostats are the second parts of the zoned system. You can adjust each zone individually which then sends a message to the dampers on how you want the air distributed through your home at any one particular time.

Q. When Should I Have My Heating and Cooling Equipment Serviced?

Your HVAC systems should be serviced before the start of each heating and cooling season. So, your air conditioner should have regular maintenance performed at the beginning of spring, while your furnace should have its regular maintenance performed at the beginning of fall.

Q. Do I Need to Replace any Filters in my Humidifier, and if so, How Often?

Whole house humidifiers utilize a water panel, commonly referred to as a humidifier filter. Humidifier water panels should be replaced at least once per year and sometimes more than once per year depending on how much the humidifier runs and the mineral content, or hardness, of the water in your area. Higher calcium and other mineral content in your water will cause the humidifier filter to clog and deteriorate more quickly, calling for replacement of the water panel more often.

Financing

Q. Do You Offer Financing?

At Grand Home Services we now offer our customers financing through GE Capital for those who qualify. Click here for more information about GE Capital.