How Does Air Balancing Work?

The basic purpose of air balancing is to measure how well your HVAC system performs its duties, and while there are multiple ways to carry out air balancing, today we will focus on just two of them: Certified Air Balance, and Comfort Balance.

 


Let’s take a look at Comfort Balance first. As the name would suggest, with Comfort Balance we take a look at the level of comfort the conditioning brings to a room. How strong is the airflow? Do registers need to be added or removed, or simply adjusted? The circulation of the air will ultimately decide whether there is a problem with your unit or if all is working as it should.


Next, we have Certified Air Balance. Unlike Comfort Balance, this form of inspection will take a closer look at the unit itself, and will often be performed with newly purchased or built homes, or with other large-scale projects. Throughout the inspection process, the system’s capacity will be tested to ensure that all parts are compatible, and the overall performance is optimized for the building’s layout.


Certified Air Balance inspection goes something like this:

  • The HVAC Contractors in Philadelphia will research local regulations and AHRAE standards, and ask about your needs. Based on these details, they will then utilize their experience and training to draw up a detailed plan of the air conditioning system, including ducting, registers, requirements for the ventilation, exhaust vents, air flow, and the overall performance of the unit.

 

  • Blade dampers will be fastened to each duct branch, and behind the intake and exhaust openings.

 

  • An air balance technician will be brought in to replace filters and open up each damper before a reading is performed on all openings on the roof and inside.

 

  • With everything now optimized, all devices and dampers can be locked in order to fix the settings.

 


It should be noted that, even once locked, the occupants of the building can mess with the settings, should they neglect to replace dirty filters, drastically change the indoor layout, or otherwise mess with the factors which were considered during the optimization process. Questions and concerns in regards to your air conditioner, or air balancing specifically, can be directed at AC professionals in your area. If given the opportunity, they can come in and thoroughly inspect your unit to ensure everything is working as it should.


It is important to have the right professionals do the required services because they are licensed, insured and bonded. Apart from having years of experience, the HVAC contractors have the skill and knowledge to handle varied size units. If you have questions or queries, give Affordable Fixes LLC a call today.

How Can HVAC Duct Sealing Save You Money?

If you have been dealing with high energy bills, you may want to consider duct sealing. It’s a simple adjustment to make for the specialist who cleans your air ducts, or really just any AC service provider, and it can save you a lot of money in the long run, among other considerable benefits.


How Duct Sealing Can Increase Your Safety


With so many appliances in our homes that produce combustible gases, there is an ongoing risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and other threats that many of us live with. One single leak is enough to cause back drafting which describes the situation in which gases are pushed into your home instead of outside. When ducts are sealed, they are made to lead gases outside and away from anyone who could be endangered by them, including you, your family, and your pets.


How Duct Sealing Makes Your Home More Efficient


When ducts have leaks, the rest of the unit will require more energy to continue to function as needed. As a result, your bills will increase and your systems will be working overtime. Duct sealing has been documented to increase efficiency by a maximum of twenty percent, while also decreasing the risk of your home contracting mildew or mold.


How Sealing Ducts Will Improve Air Quality


When a duct is leaking, it allows for pollen, pesticides, car exhaust, and other harmful particles to freely enter your home, and as a result, your lungs as you breathe. By sealing air ducts, you will keep these harmful particles out of your home, where they belong. However, it is equally important to keep the ducting clean with regular maintenance. You might want to call in the experts to look at the various aspects of the ducts, if there is any infiltration of odors and smells inside the house.


How Sealing Ducts Increases Your Home’s Comfort


Leaking ducts will cause cool spots and hot spots all over your home, since optimal air circulation is impossible, when the system isn’t working as it should. Sealed ducts will allow for an even distribution of air and keep your home at an even temperature of your choosing.


How Duct Sealing Can Help Protect the Environment


Since sealed ducts are more energy efficient, they will require less fuel to work at optimal capacity. As a result, your home will cause less pollution, and thus decrease your influence on matters such as acid rain and global warming. Sealing your ducts is another step toward minimizing your carbon footprint. Call in a HVAC professional in Philadelphia PA today to check your air ducts for leaks so you can reap the benefits.

What To Do When Your Heat Pump Refuses To Work?

When your heat pump suddenly stops working, the best thing to do is, of course, to call a repair service. Specifically, a heating repair service, so they can send someone to come in and take a look at the heating system in question.


After all, a heating pump is complex in nature and an untrained person will not be able to spot the source of the problem. Once the contractor has arrived, you will be asked a series of detailed questions so be prepared to take some time out of your day to assist the contractor in their repair services. These are the most commonly documented heat pump malfunctions:


Outdoor Compressor And Fan Have Stopped Working


When the outdoor unit stops working, it is often due to a tripped breaker circuit, problems with the wiring, a blown-out fuse, a bad transformer, or an overloaded compressor. When this happens, you should pray that all you need is a furnace tune up, because the worst-case scenario would be the need for a whole new heat pump.


Humming Heat Pump That Won’t Start


The majority of the time, this is caused by a malfunctioning part, i.e. a bad start capacitor, compressor bearings, or compressor motor. Sometimes the cause will also be electrical problems. Regardless, you will likely need to replace the heat pump, unless the problem is electrical in nature, in which case the contractor may have a chance of saving it.


Outdoor Compressor Won’t Work


So, the compressor doesn’t work but the fan does. This is often due to improper phasing, poor voltage, a grounded compressor motor, or because of a bad capacitor. When it comes to such problems, it will be up to your contractor to determine whether your system needs replacing or if a repair job is sufficient.


Outdoor Pump Or Fan Aren’t Working


When there is an issue with the pump or fan relay, an issue with the timer, or a fault in the motor, then there is no getting around replacing the pump. However, if the issue is electrical, a straight up rewiring may get the job done.


However, don’t try to do it all on your own but call in the AC Repair experts in Philadelphia. They understand all aspects of the pumps and HVAC units and will be able to do what is necessary which will make sure that your unit is working again.


Indoor Fan Has Stopped Working


When there is a malfunction with the motor or transformers, you will not get around purchasing a replacement. However, if the problem is a blown fuse, bad circuit, or an issue electrical in nature, you will be fine with getting a repair job done.

Understanding the Importance Of Attic Ventilation During The Cold Season

If you wish to keep your home warm and protected throughout all of winter, you will need to have an attic in it that is properly ventilated. Lack of attic ventilation can lead to moisture build up which damages the very foundation and structural integrity of your roof and can bring along an urgent need for costly repairs. Additionally, proper ventilation will also allow for quality air flow throughout your home during the cold season. This is important to have fresh air while maintaining comfortable temperatures inside the home.


Benefits Of Attic Ventilation


There is an array of reasons as to why you should ensure proper ventilation of your attic, including the prevention and protection against:

  • the appearance of and spread of wood rot
  • popping roof shingles
  • the buildup of ice dams
  • the growth and spread of mold
  • moisture build up
  • frost build up


Since hot air rises while cold air sinks due to the differences in density, your attic will experience an increase in warmth during winter in contrast to the lower floors of your home. However, with the heat also comes moisture, at least it does when your attic space is lacking proper ventilation. And this moisture is then free to be soaked up by your home; it seeps into the materials which make up your roof, it seeps into the framing of your attic, it seeps into the boxes and furniture stored in your attic. In short: it brings mold and rot.


So how can proper attic ventilation fight this? Well, the installation of a ventilation system will lead to cool and dry air being pumped into your attic from the outside, while also transferring the warm and moist air from indoors to the outside. As a result, temperatures will remain even and moisture doesn’t get to build up. No more hot and cold spots. No more ice dams. Additionally, you will have turned your home into an environment protected against the growth of mold and mildew, as well as an environment unfriendly to rodents and insects. Calling on HVAC service in Philadelphia is important as they understand all aspects of the heating and cooling systems. Most of the companies offering these services have been in business for years and can offer regular maintenance and emergency services as well.


Understanding the Different Forms Of Attic Ventilation


It is recommended to have one square foot of ventilated space in contrast to roughly three-hundred cubic feet of regular, unventilated attic space. Additionally, you will also need an equal amount of intake and exhaust vents, in order to ensure functional airflow in and out of your attic.

Threat Of Refrigerant Leaks Throughout The Cold Season

All across the country, both businesses and homes depend on heat pumps to stay warm and functional throughout the cold season. Heat pumps function by transferring refrigerant through pipes in order to keep the indoors heated. Refrigerant works by changing its aggregate state between liquid and gas throughout the different stages of the heating system. However, due to these states of matter, refrigerant can also escape if a leak occurs in one of the system’s pipes. And such a leak can be more than just annoying. It can be dangerous. Especially if it occurs during the cold season.


Refrigerant Leaks During The Cold Season


Should a leak occur in a refrigerant line of your heat pump system, especially during the winter, you may be faced with disastrous consequences. Consequences that do not just impact your heating system, but may also pose a significant threat to the inhabitants of the home itself.


A sudden lack of heating, especially during dangerously low temperatures, can cause damage to property, but more importantly, pose a threat to the health and safety of people. Should a situation like this occur, it is vital to have a backup or auxiliary heating system to fall back on. It should be noted that it does not take something as severe as a leak to require the switch to the backup system. Simple inefficiency of your heat pump system is reason enough. The switch from the heat pump system to a backup is easily achieved by selecting the “backup” or “emergency” setting on your thermostat.


However, if a backup heating system is inaccessible or non-existent for you, you will need to get your refrigerant leak patched right away. No procrastinating. No evaluating. Contact a heating repair contractor as soon as possible so your refrigerant can be charged and your heating restored before temperatures become dangerously low in your home. Not only will that lead to uncomfortable temperatures but you can catch a cold and fall sick.


The Dangers Of Refrigerant Leaks Throughout The Cold Season


A sudden lack of refrigerant will cause a steady decline in the efficiency of your heating system, which in turn will cause a drop-in temperature in your home. Additionally, other malfunctions are also at an increased risk of occurring. Among these potential malfunctions are a frozen over heat pump and an overheated compressor which can permanently damage your system. Fixing such damage may require not just repairs, but full replacement. That is when you need to contact a HVAC service in Philadelphia PA so that they can offer you the best deal and subscription to maintenance services.

Benefits and Downsides Of Underfloor Heating

Over the course of the last few years, hot air systems and underfloor heating have slowly begun to replace radiators and fireplaces. This is largely due to the decrease in utility bills it brings. However, as with everything else, there are benefits and downsides that come with the installation of underfloor heating. Benefits and downsides which we are going to explore in the article below, so read on if you are curious.

The Two Basic Types Of Underfloor Heating

The market currently provides us with two main forms of underfloor heating; one making use of warm water pumped through pipes, the other making use of electric coils. While mainly affiliated with high end establishments like hotels and resorts, these systems can also be installed by a Heater Repair Service in Philadelphia PA in regular homes.


Warm water underfloor heating requires the installation of an interconnected series of pipes which starts at your home’s boiler and webs along below the floorboards of each room you wish to heat this way. While this form of underfloor heating requires lower temperatures than the other, electric, system, it is also costlier to install due to the more elaborate process of the installation itself. Additionally, the floors of the rooms may need to be slightly raised due to the thickness of the pipes.


The other option would be electric underfloor heating, which requires the installation of a web of wire coils below the floorboards of each room you wish to heat this way. You may also be able to opt for heat mats in certain rooms, though uncommonly shaped rooms will require individual wires if you wish to cover the entirety of the room. Additionally, you will also need insulation below the wires. While electric underfloor heating is cheaper to install, it should be noted that it cannot be installed under carpeted floors.


The Benefits Of Underfloor Heating


A lot of people choose underfloor heating to rid themselves of the constraints set by radiators which require to be free of furniture to heat the room. Additionally, radiators will also spread heat unevenly due to their location, and require more electricity to function in lower temperatures. In contrast, underfloor heating is more efficient in both operation and operating costs.


The Downsides Of Underfloor Heating


The lack of underfloor heating in regular homes can be traced back to three main reasons: installation costs, incompatibility with older buildings, and slower heat up time. You can always call on reliable HVAC contractors that have ample experience and expertise in handling such cases. If the underfloor heating system is old, they can remove and install a new one with ease.

A Guide To Charging Heat Pumps During The Cold Season

Refrigerant is a substance (or mixture) that is used to move heat back and forth between the in- and outdoors. However, since refrigerant is transferred through pipes, these lines may be damaged, which will lead to leaks, and thus a loss of refrigerant. As a result, the heat pump requires a recharge in order to restore the desired performance level.


The Complexity Of Charging Your Heat Pump During Winter


If you wish to, or need to, charge your heat pump in the depths of winter (or generally low temperatures), you will need to make use of what is called the “superheat method”.


This method can only be performed by HVAC Repair technicians in Philadelphia who have undergone the required training. “Superheat” is a term which is used when talking about the differences in temperature between refrigerant vapor in its actual state and refrigerant vapor’s temperature during saturation.


If you wish to keep your home warm and cozy, your auxiliary heating system needs to be up and running during the repair process of your heat pump. This is because the heat pump needs to be offline while the necessary repairs are made.


The charging process of a heat pump is significantly more difficult during the cold season due to the latent heat load being so minuscule around the evaporator.


Additionally, and as a result of this, the refrigerant charge of your heat pump cannot be perfect, but it will still be more than enough to restore efficiency to your system.

Charging Process In Low Temperatures

  • In order to keep the air inside the system from escaping, the condenser will be covered by a sheet of plastic.
  • Using the 4-way reversing valve, the heat pump’s mode is switched to cooling. To achieve this, its low voltage wire will need to be removed. This is because the thermostat will still be asking for heat which it will now be able to obtain through the auxiliary heating system. Once this set up is complete, your home will remain heated, even while the heat pump is down.
  • The refrigerant vapor in the refrigerant lines needs to be retrieved by bleeding air from the lines.
  • In order to capture this refrigerant, a refrigerant cylinder will be fastened to the gauge lines and switched upside down. Once this set up is established, the manifold valve can be opened and refrigerant liquid can be retrieved.

 

It is important that you discuss the details with a reliable and licensed contractor that has years of experience in handling varied sizes of HVAC systems. Usually, such services offer standard maintenance plans on a regular basis.

Winter and 6 of the Most Common Heating Problems

Winter is coming…and it has nothing to do with Jon Snow or a Game of Thrones episode! In fact, winter is officially here. It has a way of sneaking up on you, particularly if you are unprepared for it.

When cold weather sets in, you want to be able to rely on your furnace to keep your home and family warm. There are many reasons why your heating system may need repair. Mechanical household systems will break down periodically like any other and some are just a matter of age and daily wear and tear on the system. But there are some very common things that tend to break down with heating systems, some of which don’t need to happen with proper periodic system maintenance.

Lack of Maintenance

Your Philadelphia HVAC system is a huge investment and should be kept in proper working order, just like you keep your car maintained. Unfortunately, many homeowners neglect this maintenance and end up with unexpected breakdowns in the middle of winter. Don’t let this be you!

Clogged Air Filters

The simplest and most important thing you can do as a homeowner is changing your air filter. A clogged air filter will cut down on your system’s ability to do its job and can put unnecessary strain on the system leading to costly breakdowns. Manufacturers suggest that you change your air filters every three months but during the height of winter usage, you may want to do this more often.

Air Flow Problems

Other airflow problems can make your system work inefficiently and cause an eventual breakdown. Damaged ducts and large leaks can lead to a reduction in airflow that can cause wear and tear on the system.

Mechanical Breakdowns

There are hundreds of mechanical parts that are essential to the operation of your heating system. And like any other mechanism, these parts can wear and break down. Wear and tear on a mechanical system can cause problems with performance and cause inconvenient breakdowns. Fortunately, components can be easily replaced as part of a repair service call.

Ignition Control and Pilot Problems

Ignition problems can cause a system to malfunction and require a Philadelphia PA furnace repair call.

Thermostat Problems

A thermostat that is malfunctioning can create comfort issues and can result in no heat getting to your home. This can be quickly diagnosed and repaired by your Philadelphia HVAC repair specialist.

The Best Way to Avert Furnace Breakdowns

The best way a homeowner can keep Philadelphia furnace repairs to a minimum is to have the system inspected and maintained annually before winter sets it. Scheduling an annual maintenance visit can save money and frustration and reduce costly breakdowns when you need your heating system the most.

At Affordable Fixes LLC, our Philadelphia HVAC repair technicians will conduct a complete inspection and cleaning of your heating and cooling system to ensure that it is working efficiently to the manufacturer’s specifications. Don’t get caught with a furnace breakdown in the middle of winter! Call us today to schedule your inspection before a costly breakdown happens to your system.

9 Simple Ways to Save on Your Heating Bills This Winter

You’ve no doubt noticed that winter has come in full force in Philadelphia. And that always means those high heating costs. So how can you reduce those heating bills without breaking the bank? Here are some tips from your Philadelphia HVAC experts at Affordable Fixes LLC.

Lower the Thermostat Setting

This may be a “duh” answer, but most people don’t appreciate how much they can save with just a small thermostat adjustment. In fact, for each degree you lower your setting over a 24-hour period, you can save up to 3 percent during that time period. Consider especially lowering your setting while you are asleep.

Use Your Ceiling Fan

You heard right, use those fans on a low setting in order to circulate the air that gets trapped at the ceiling. Hot air rises. Getting it to circulate brings it down where it is needed and allows it to feel warmer.

Keep Vents Clear

Make sure your vents or radiators are free from obstructions and not blocked by furniture of floor coverings. You want warm air to be able to circulate freely around the room. You will also want to keep your vents and radiators clean and dust free. Not only does dust and dirt clog circulation but it can be a big allergen in the home.

Seal Your Windows

Your home can lose 10 to 25 percent of its heat due to windows. Make sure to seal around windows and doors and any leaks around your home. Open shades on the south side of the home facing any sun during the daylight hours to allow the natural warmth into your home. Make sure windows are covered especially at night when the temperatures dip. Other common places for air leaks are where wires and cables come into the home and around electrical outlets.

Add Insulation

Having adequate insulation is important to keep warmed air inside and cold air outside and can also be a tax-deductible home improvement. Don’t forget to insulate the basement as well.

Close the Flue

Make sure to close your chimney flue when your fireplace isn’t in use, otherwise, you are allowing warm air to escape.

Change Your Air Filters

In order for your furnace to work efficiently, it needs good circulation. A clogged filter is a sure-fire way to reduce the efficiency of your system. This should be done periodically for both furnace and air conditioning systems.

Invest in a Programmable or Smart Thermostat

Thermostats that can adjust your temperature at certain times, even when you aren’t home, can offer substantial savings on your energy bills.

Make Sure to Get Your System Maintained

Making sure your HVAC system is working properly should be something you do each year. Call the Philadelphia HVAC repair pros at Affordable Fixes LLC to see how having an annual maintenance program can ensure that your heating and cooling system is working properly when you need it most.

Can a Smart Thermostat Really Save You Money This Winter?

Heating and cooling your home accounts for approximately half of your energy costs. This means that the more efficiently you do this, the lower your energy costs will be. Enter the new generation of temperature control devices: the smart thermostat. But besides its gadget-worthiness, is a smart thermostat really worth it?

What They Do

A smart thermostat will allow you to change the thermostat settings in your home from an app on your smartphone, computer, or other voice-controlled device. This is a major convenience, especially if your schedule changes frequently and you would like to adjust temperature settings in your home when no one is there. If you’re feeling super lazy, you can even turn on the heat without leaving the sofa.

Another benefit of having a smart thermostat is that not only can you view your usage, but depending on your system, it may even eventually learn your habits and adjust your temperatures accordingly.

But Will it Save You Money?

Ask a Philadelphia HVAC repair technician and the answer you will get is YES. Smart thermostats can save from $131 to $145 a year, according to the Nest Thermostat. In fact, the Nest is so smart, it will encourage a homeowner to make smart choices with handy leaf badges and monthly reports.

Other Nifty Features

Most smart thermostats have features that help make your life easier. Some useful features include HVAC maintenance reminders and dirty filter detection capabilities. The ability to monitor usage can make you more aware of your family’s energy consumption and make you think twice about your family’s energy usage.

Some Important Considerations

When considering the pros and cons of a smart thermostat, there are a few things you need to weigh. Sometimes, a home with air conditioning and a furnace can require a more sophisticated thermostat and professional setup. If you are only planning on living where you are for a short period of time, the investment of a smart thermostat may not be worth it. As is the case with all thermostats, you will want to consider the placement of the unit since it will register the air temperature in that area and not necessarily in other parts of the home. So, placing it near a warm fire burning device or near the kitchen oven can affect its overall performance.

What is the Biggest Downside?

For most people, a smart thermostat has one important downside and that is the cost. While a regular manual thermostat will cost anywhere between $20 and $60, a smart thermostat can cost anywhere between $200 and $300. Some homeowners think that the cost savings would immediately justify the purchase whereas others may not. It is up to the individual.

Call an Expert

If you have questions about smart thermostat technology or are considering having a smart thermostat installed, call our Philadelphia HVAC experts at Affordable Fixes LLC.