Steps to Follow Before Turning on Your Heater

Home Covered in Snow

On the first cold fall or winter day, people will turn their furnaces on for the first time this heating season. It is not uncommon for people to experience different problems because their heating systems have sat unused since spring. When there are problems, phones will ring off the hook at our heater repair company the following day for emergency repair service.

Long before you need to fire up the furnace, it is a good idea to do your own DIY heater check to make sure everything is in proper working order. Discovering problems before you need to keep your home warm and the cold out not only will make it easier to get a repair technician, but it also avoids those emergency service calls.

Turning on Your Heater

Step 1: Change your air filters.

Proper air filtration is essential to keep the furnace running correctly. If the air filters are dirty and clogged, it causes your furnace to work harder to heat your home. This can lead to premature aging, overheating, and system failure.

Depending on the type of heating system installed in your home, you could have multiple air filters to replace. The most common one is the filter used on the return air vent—that big air vent in your home. A second type of filter some heating systems have is right on the furnace. It can be on the front or side of the unit.

Change your air filters

You should use high-quality filters that are the right size for your system. It can be confusing deciding what MERV rating to use or what level of filtration you require. Keep in mind, some so-called “high-end” filters could be more damaging to your heating system because they are not porous enough to allow proper airflow and can cause your furnace to overheat.

If you are not sure what filters you require, call your home heater repair technicians for advice and their recommendations. You can also have them come out and replace the filters for you if you are not sure how to do this yourself.

Step 2: Clean around the furnace.

You need to make sure there is nothing stacked next to or near the furnace. If there is, it is a fire hazard and could result in a home fire. Keep the space around your furnace clear of boxes, totes, flammable objects, brooms, mops, and so on.

You should also clean the floor around the furnace. Sweep and mop it to remove dust and dirt that could get sucked into the unit. You can also dust off the entire unit, including the tops and sides. Just be careful to not pull on any wiring or venting.

If you have a heat pump that is outside your home , make sure all leaves, branches, and other debris are removed. Trim back any shrubs so there are at least five feet of clearance on the sides and front of the unit. If tree branches are hanging above the unit, trim those back, too.

Step 3: Check carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they are working.

Change the batteries in each detector in your home. This is also a great time to change the batteries in all the smoke detectors. If you do not have a carbon monoxide detector in the home, you should get one installed for any type of fuel-burning heating system.

carbon monoxide detectors

Step 4: Verify the pilot light is lit on natural gas heaters.

There should be an access door on your furnace you can open to see if the pilot is lit. Some people will shut off the natural gas line to the furnace at the end of the heating season to save money. If you do, remember to turn it back on, and light the pilot.

If you did not shut off the gas and do not see the pilot lit, turn off the gas immediately. DO NOT attempt to light the pilot, as gas has been filling the area in and around the furnace. You want to ventilate the room, first, and wait several hours for the gas to clear before lighting the pilot light.

If the pilot is on, you are ready to move on to the next step. If the pilot will not light or will not stay lit, then turn off the gas and call a professional heater repair technician right away.

Step 5: Do a pre-season heater system check.

Once you have completed the previous four steps, you want to do a system check. Turn on the furnace and let it run a complete cycle. While it is running, listen to the sounds the unit makes. Does the blower fan sound louder or is it making squealing or squeaky sounds? Is there any unusual clanking or banging coming from the unit?

If something seems wrong, shut off the furnace and call a professional repair technician for assistance. Unusual noises, clanking, and banging indicate a problem that needs to be fixed. For instance, the blower motor belt could be loose or the fan blades could be unbalanced.

pre-season heater system

Step 6: What is that burning smell coming from my furnace?

Dust can accumulate inside the furnace and ductwork in the home when the furnace is not in use. When you fire it up for the first time during the pre-check, you may notice a burning smell. This is normal and should dissipate after one or two full cycles. If not, then there can be a bigger problem with the heating system that needs to be repaired. Shut it off and call a professional.

Step 7: Have a home heating technician give your furnace a tune-up.

Scheduling an annual tune-up before the start of the heating season ensures everything is in working order. Your technician performs numerous system checks and a complete inspection and makes any necessary repairs needed to keep you warm all winter long. Plus, you can avoid emergency breakdowns on those cold winter days.

home heating technician

Other Home Heating Considerations to Help Keep You Warm

Aside from verifying your furnace is going to work correctly, there are other things you can do to stay warm throughout the winter and maintain the indoor air quality of your home.

  • Have your ducts cleaned. If you notice your home seems very dusty, and dust accumulates quickly, chances are the ducts need to be cleaned. Dust can reduce air quality and cause allergies and other problems. In some cases, your ductwork could have leaks and is drawing in dirt and dust into the system. Plus, excessive dust requires more frequent air filter changes.
  • Check for cold air leaks around doors and windows. You can check for these by placing your hand near the window or door and slowly moving it around the perimeter. On windows, also check the seal where the windows close. If you notice a change in air temperature or if you can feel air drafts around windows and doors when they are closed, there are air leaks.
    • TIP: You can seal air leaks by recaulking around doors or windows, installing new weather stripping, or putting up plastic insulation over windows. For doors, you can roll up a thick towel and place this at the bottom of the door to stop cold air from coming into the home from under the door.
  • Upgrade your thermostat to an energy-saving model. Modern thermostats have programmable features where you can set different temperatures for various times of the day or days of the week. For instance, you can have it adjust the temperature down a few degrees during the day when everyone is gone. It will then automatically adjust it back up just before you get home so you come home to a warm house.

indoor air quality

  • Get a humidifier and humidistat installed. In the winter months, the air is drier with little humidity. Maintaining humidity inside the home is healthier and improves indoor air quality. There are stand-alone units, as well as models that can be connected to your furnace to add humidity to the heated air. Humidistats are similar to thermostats but, instead of controlling temperatures, they control the humidity level.

heater repair technicians

Getting your home ready for the colder winter months is something you should do now. If you wait, you could wake up to a cold home on the coldest day of the season.

For assistance in ensuring your home’s heating system is functioning correctly and optimally, or to schedule a furnace tune-up with one of our heater repair technicians , please feel free to contact Barstow and Sons at 410.777.9185 today!

Five Reasons Why Smart HVAC Is the Right Choice

Five Reasons Why Smart HVAC Is the Right Choice

Smart homes help their owners live better, saving them time by automating routine tasks and saving them money by regulating the use of electricity and other resources more efficiently. Nowhere are the benefits of smart home technology more evident than in home heating and cooling systems.

When most people think of smart heating and cooling systems, they think of high tech thermostats that can sync with their smartphones to allow remote programming and access or regulate usage based on whether people are present in the home or facility. There’s more to smart HVAC systems than that, as some other smart technology used in home heating and cooling systems include zoning systems that heat and cool only portions of the home that owners want climate-controlled.

If you’re not quite sold on purchasing a smart heating and cooling system for your home or business yet, consider these benefits of smart air conditioning systems:

  • Save Money – Smart homeowners are always looking for ways to save money on routine household expenses, and a smart heating and cooling system offers a great way to do it. Smart heating and cooling systems ensure that your air conditioner only runs when needed, avoiding unnecessary operations that cost you money.

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that heating and cooling accounts for about 48 percent of homeowners’ monthly power bill and is the single largest energy expense for homeowners. Altogether, air conditioners use about 6 percent of all electricity consumed in the U.S. Unfortunately, a lot of the energy used in heating and cooling homes and other buildings is wasted. Leaking ducts, clogged air filters, and inefficient operating schedules can result in hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in excessive energy bills each year for the average homeowner.

  • consider all the times you’ve left the air conditioner or heater running while you were away from home. Smart heating and cooling systems put an end to the waste.

Buildings.com estimates that systems incorporated into an overall building energy management system can result in energy savings of between 24 and 32 percent , depending on several other factors affecting energy usage in the building. The older and more inefficient the system you’re using now is, the greater the savings you’ll see as a modern heating and cooling system represents a significant leap forward in technology from old systems that are more than a decade old.

  • Comfort – Smart heating and cooling systems that allow homeowners to control which rooms are heated and cooled will help them feel more comfortable in their homes. For couples who have different temperature preferences, a zoned system will help keep the peace, as they will no longer have to fight over the thermostat.

Some smart heating and cooling systems also have features that help homeowners better control humidity and air quality in their homes. Indoor air quality is a big concern in the U.S. The air inside our homes is often two to five times more polluted than outdoor air , but we spend about 90 percent of our time indoors.

Air conditioners that can improve air quality can have a big impact on health, particularly that of people with allergy or respiratory problems. New air conditioning systems have filters and other options that can ensure the air circulating through your home is fresh air.

  • Convenience – A smart HVAC system is far more convenient than a traditional heating and cooling system or even an advanced thermostat that allows you to program a heating and cooling schedule for the device. With a smart heating and cooling system that syncs to your phone, you can remotely control your heating and cooling system.

This means never coming home to a house that’s too hot or too cold, or having to worry about whether you turned the unit down or off when you left the house. With a smart heating and cooling system, all you need to do is access your system via phone when you’re not home and adjust the temperature as you desire.

For people who own vacation property, the ability to remotely regulate the air conditioner can be convenient for their guests—property owners can cool or heat the property in anticipation of a visit. It can also help them save money by avoiding operating the heating and cooling system when no one is present in the property.

  • Increase the Value of Your Home – Improvements made to your home boost its price when it’s time to resell. As energy efficiency and environmental responsibility are big concerns these days, a smart heating and cooling system will greatly increase the desirability of your home and the price you can command for it.

Prospective homeowners want new energy-efficient systems, but they don’t want to have to be the ones to directly pay for them and oversee their installation. If your home already has a smart system, buyers will be more interested in purchasing your home. Combined with other smart renovations and a good sales pitch, a new air conditioning system can greatly increase the chances that you get the price you want for your home.

  • Help the Environment – When heating and cooling units run, they’re consuming electricity that may come from sources of energy that cause carbon emissions like coal or natural gas-fired power plants. Air conditioning units themselves release potentially harmful chemicals into the air. Finding ways to operate air conditioners more efficiently will help reduce the environmental impact of heating and cooling your home or place of work.

How Much Does It Cost?

How much your smart HVAC system costs will depend on what you choose to purchase. Smart thermometers typically cost between $200 to $300, while replacing your HVAC system with a new energy-efficient system that offers zone control can cost several thousand dollars.

When considering a smart system for your air conditioner, it pays to consult with experienced heating and cooling contractors. They can help property owners develop a realistic idea of how much they can expect to save with a new smart thermometer or brand new air conditioning system.

When choosing a contractor, be sure to ask about the company’s experience in installing energy efficient heating and cooling systems and check out online reviews to ensure you’re working with a qualified, reputable company.

Additional Smart Technologies for Your Home

Heating and cooling system manufacturers have just begun to explore the options made available by internet technology and advanced sensors. Future products may include systems that can detect when leaks in ductwork are present, allowing property owners to call heating and cooling contractors to fix problems before they become severe.

Advanced air conditioning thermostats and systems aren’t the only forms of smart technology that can make your home more efficient. Energy management systems do for your home’s overall electrical use what smart thermostats do for its heating and cooling system.

With energy management systems, homeowners can reduce energy use during times of peak demand, lowering their power bills. Energy management systems can also turn lights off when they’re not in active use by residents and cut power to unused appliances.

If you’re ready to begin enjoying the benefits of a smart HVAC system, contact Barstow and Sons today for a free quote. Barstow and Sons is a heating and air conditioning firm that has served the Annapolis area for more than 30 years.

Barstow and Sons combines experience and expertise with great products to ensure all customers have the quality air service they deserve. To install a smart air conditioning system or for any other heating and cooling needs, don’t hesitate to call Barstow and Sons.

Sources

1. https://energy.gov/public-services/homes/heating-cooling

2. https://facilityexecutive.com/2017/01/staying-cool-with-intelligent-hvac-systems/

3. https://cfpub.epa.gov/roe/chapter/air/indoorair.cfm

4. https://www.navigantresearch.com/blog/green-house-gas-emissions-and-hvac

The Importance of Having Your Air Ducts Cleaned

Worker in Ceiling 2

Owning a home is an exciting experience that comes with a variety of responsibilities. One of these responsibilities is the proper maintenance of your home’s HVAC system. It might be obvious when a furnace or air conditioner malfunctions, but what about the cleanliness of your air ducts? How can you tell when they need to be cleaned, and how often should it be done?

In this article, we’ll take a look at how air duct cleaning works, how it can be beneficial, and how to determine whether your ducts need to be cleaned.

the importance of having your air ducts cleaned

What Does an Air Duct Cleaning Involve?

Although the term “air duct cleaning” sounds like it targets only the ductwork of your HVAC system, it usually includes the cleaning of most or all of the system elements. Generally, technicians will clean the ducts, registers, blower, heat exchanger, air filter, coils, and other components to ensure the best possible result. HVAC professionals can also advise you on ways to prevent any future contamination or infestation by pests, as needed.

With regard to any chemical products used to clean home HVAC systems, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) prohibits the use of substances not registered with their agency and mandates that such chemicals only be used when absolutely necessary. As the customer, you should make sure that you are aware of the pros and cons of any substance used in your internal air ducts. At present, the EPA has not registered any chemical biocides for use in air ducts.

The Potential Benefits of Clean Air Ducts

The most apparent benefit of having your air ducts cleaned is making sure that air flows properly through your system and does not introduce additional dirt or debris to your home. If your air ducts are filled with dust and debris, this can be re-circulated around your home roughly five to seven times per day , ultimately settling on your things.

Similarly, it could help reduce the buildup of such dirt on the other elements of your HVAC system. If you have pets, you may also find that a cleaning reduces the amount of fur and dander floating around in your home.

In some cases, the air ducts can be infested with rodents, insects, and/or mold. In addition to serving as a home to such unwanted house guests, the air that blows through the infested ducts could become filled with various contaminants (not to mention a variety of odors). Even if you don’t notice any odd smells or other noticeable issues, you’ll want to get rid of these pests as soon as possible to prevent further damage to your home.

Another great reason to have your HVAC system cleaned is that it can help improve the overall efficiency of your system’s components. Although cleaning just the ducts alone may not be enough to make a noticeable change in efficiency, having your full system cleaned can lead to improved function and, ultimately, energy cost savings if you’ve been changing your air filter appropriately.

importance of having your air ducts cleaned in annapolis

It is important to note here that claims of health benefits directly related to duct cleaning have not been substantiated. Even so, many homeowners believe that their allergies, asthma, and/or other health issues have improved as a result of HVAC cleaning. Barstow and Sons makes no claims that our air duct cleaning services will improve your health.

Do I Need to Have My Air Ducts Cleaned? How Often Should I Do it?

While experts agree that air ducts should be kept appropriately cleaned, there isn’t one single answer to the question of how often cleaning should be performed. Unlike some other elements of your HVAC system, air ducts don’t necessarily need to be cleaned on a routine basis. Ultimately, the necessity of cleaning depends upon the kinds of symptoms you’re noticing, as well as the determination of a professional HVAC contractor.

You should absolutely consider having your ducts cleaned if you begin to notice evidence of mice or other pests, clogs caused by dust and debris, and/or the visible growth of mold (or what appears to be mold). If you believe that there is mold growing in your ducts or elsewhere in your HVAC system, you should have the substance tested by a professional laboratory to confirm whether it is or is not mold. If the substance is found to be mold, you’ll need to have it removed professionally to ensure that it is properly taken care of.

Although there is no overall guideline for how often your air ducts should be cleaned, you should keep an eye out for symptoms of HVAC trouble, including reduced air flow, climbing energy costs, difficulty heating or cooling the home evenly, etc. Even if the problem is not directly related to your air ducts, these are important signs that something may be wrong with your HVAC system.

cleaning your air ducts in Annapolis

Get Trusted, Professional Air Duct Cleaning from Barstow and Sons

As a family-owned-and-operated HVAC business in the Annapolis area, we understand the importance of making sure that your home is clean, comfortable, and efficient. When your HVAC system gets dirty, and you start to notice problems with your air quality or heating and cooling efficiency, Barstow and Sons stands ready to help. From furnace installation to air conditioner repair and general system maintenance, our trained technicians are available 24/7 for all your HVAC needs. All of our work is backed with a guarantee of complete customer satisfaction.

With more than 30 years of history as a trusted HVAC company in Anne Arundel County, we have the knowledge and experience to get the job done right. We not only provide installation and maintenance services with a specialization in high-quality Lennox systems, we also offer our customers the best in customer service and fair, competitive prices. Our technicians can help you identify any issues in your system, as well as help you keep an eye on its overall efficiency.

To learn more about the various services we offer or to set up a time to have an experienced HVAC technician examine your air ducts, request an appointment via our online form or call us today at (410) 777-9185. We look forward to working with you!

why having your air ducts cleaned in annapolis is important

The Benefits of Having a Trustworthy HVAC Company for Maintenance

Generally, your overall HVAC system should be looked at by a professional at least twice a year. This overall inspection can reveal any pressing issues that need to be repaired or determine whether cleaning or other basic maintenance is required. Although it may seem like a bi-annual HVAC inspection would be an extra expense, it can actually help you avoid costly A/C or heater repair later on (much like an annual preventative health visit with a doctor).

As the seasons change, you’ll also want to have your heating and/or cooling units inspected and serviced. Ideally, you should have the appropriate unit serviced just before regular use starts up; have the air conditioner serviced in spring and the furnace serviced in the fall.

You could certainly have a technician come in and look at both at the same time, but keep in mind that one unit may be left unused for some time after the inspection. During that idle time, problems could develop. A well-meaning air conditioner inspection in November could still end with air conditioner repair in May.

The Benefits of Having a Trustworthy HVAC Company for Maintenance

Why Quality Matters

Although there are similar elements in every home, HVAC systems come in various shapes and sizes; ductless split systems, packaged heating and A/C systems, hybrid heat split systems—it’s hardly a one-size-fits-all situation. For that reason, it’s important to choose an HVAC maintenance company that knows how to deal with all kinds of units and arrangements. An experienced technician brings personal knowledge of a variety of systems to every inspection.

It’s also extremely important that any HVAC technician you hire has the right knowledge and education to not only service your system but help you heat or cool your house in the most efficient manner. Without a strong understanding of how air moves through the home and how it affects overall temperature and humidity, a technician could be missing key aspects of home comfort.

Just as important as knowledge and experience are the simple virtues of reliability and common sense. Some HVAC companies fail to treat customers like human beings, choosing instead to stick to scripts and do only the minimum amount of work required. A quality maintenance company will go above and beyond to help you figure out what your home needs in order to be cooled and heated efficiently.

The Tangible Benefits of Proper Regular HVAC Maintenance

Similar to the way in which proper medical care helps to extend our own lives and improve the quality of our experience, proper HVAC maintenance helps to extend the lifespan of your appliances and ductwork. Plus, keeping ducts and units properly cleaned and in good working order can keep your family safe from potentially life-threatening malfunctions, fires, or other unexpected disasters.

Perhaps the most exciting benefit of appropriate regular maintenance is that it saves you money both in repairs and energy bills. By keeping your system operating at or near peak efficiency, you can ensure that you’ll be getting the heating and cooling effects you want without losing energy and paying more than you should.

Once you begin an appropriate regimen of HVAC system maintenance with a reliable, trustworthy company, you’ll notice a number of other benefits:

  • Faster heating and cooling of rooms due to optimally-efficient movement of hot or cold air
  • Stronger blowing and better air movement (no cold spots/rooms in winter)
  • Quieter system operation
  • Improvement in allergies (thanks to clean ducts)

How to Find a Trustworthy HVAC Company

How to Find a Trustworthy HVAC Company

Finding the right HVAC maintenance company for your home is more than just searching the web for the cheapest service in your area. If you’re in the process of searching for a decent HVAC servicing company, there are a few things you should look for before you decide:

  • A good rating from the Better Business Bureau

The Better Business Bureau is well-known for its ratings of business quality and ethics. If a company does not have a good rating with the BBB, you may want to rule them out as an option, as this could reflect poor practices. You can also read relevant customer complaints that have been filed with the BBB against a given company.

  • Fair rates and clear pricing information

Make sure you do some research regarding the average cost of HVAC maintenance and repairs in your area. If it seems like a company is overcharging for no particular reason, they probably are. If a company makes it difficult to find out how much their work costs, or they flip-flop on prices, that should be a red flag, as well.

  • A professional guarantee of work

A company that does not guarantee the quality of their work in some way is likely not confident in their quality to begin with. Make sure that you select a maintenance company that guarantees the work that they do. Otherwise, you could find yourself paying even more for follow-up repairs.

  • Straightforward language

Make sure that the company is able to talk to you in a language you understand—and give you all the information. Someone who uses a lot of lingo or says “it’s too difficult to explain” may be trying to keep you from getting the whole story.

  • Real evidence of problems

A trustworthy technician should be able to show you exactly why he or she believes a certain issue is the cause of your problems. Be wary of those who jump to blame bad parts and suggest replacement without showing decent evidence.

By taking the time to look for these details in a given HVAC company before trusting them with your heating and cooling systems, you can avoid headaches like price-gouging, repeated repairs, communication issues, and more.

Get Reliable Air Conditioner Maintenance and More from Barstow and Sons

If you live in the Annapolis, MD area, the HVAC experts at Barstow and Sons can help you keep your heating and cooling system clean and efficient for years to come. With more than 30 years of experience, affordable pricing and high-quality Lennox products, we’re confident your research will show that we exemplify all the characteristics of a trustworthy HVAC maintenance company.

We place a strong emphasis on honest, straightforward customer interactions and skilled, experienced work. Our technicians will work with you to meet your home’s unique heating and cooling needs, building a lasting, reliable working relationship. With reliable maintenance for A/C systems, furnaces, humidifiers, thermostats, boilers, air quality systems, and more, you can rest easy knowing that we’ve got your back if anything should go wrong.

In every job we do, we strive to provide an exceptional quality of work and make sure every customer is completely satisfied. Don’t just take our word for it; call us today at (410) 777-9185 or fill out our online form to make an appointment for a full HVAC inspection.

Get Reliable Air Conditioner Maintenance and More from Barstow and Sons

Too Much Home Humidity Makes Us All Feel a Little Gross

Excess humidity in your home can promote mold and mildew growth and make staying indoors uncomfortable, making managing humidity levels an important task for homeowners. There are different ways homeowners can reduce humidity levels in their homes, including hiring an air conditioner repair service to upgrade or maintain their HVAC unit to limit moisture.

reduce humidity levels in annapolis

We’ve all been in homes that are too humid. The air smells musty. Your skin feels clammy, and your scalp may itch. Your clothes may also stick to your body. Too much indoor humidity isn’t just a comfort issue, however. Spending time in too-humid indoor environments can also have a negative impact on your health and cause structural damage to your home.

Humid homes create an environment where mildew and mold can thrive. Mold and mildew growth in homes have been linked to many illnesses. According to the Centers for Disease Control, exposure to indoor mold has been linked to upper respiratory tract infections , coughing, wheezing, asthma, and other illnesses. Studies are also ongoing to determine whether a link exists between exposure to indoor mold and symptoms such as memory loss and lethargy.

Excess indoor humidity can also cause damage to your home. Humidity can severely damage woodwork inside your home, such as steps, stairs, and even beams. Prolonged exposure to excess humidity will cause wood to weaken and warp. Stairs that sag or floorboards that creak are examples of woodwork damaged by humidity. Humidity can also cause paint and wallpaper to peel and can cause wet stains on your walls. Too much humidity can also run up your electrical bills by making your air conditioner work harder to effectively cool your home.

humidity can cause damage to your home in annapolis

You can monitor the humidity in your home with a device called a hygrometer. Experts advise that the ideal level for indoor humidity is around 40 to 50 percent. In winter months, it’s okay to let humidity levels dip below 40 percent to prevent condensation on your windows.

Remediating mold or repairing structural damage caused by excess humidity can be quite costly. For example, the average cost of just inspecting your home for mold runs between $600 and $6,000. Limiting humidity in your home is more cost-effective and will prevent you from having unexpected bills related to mold, moisture damage, or related problems.

Servicing Or Upgrading Your HVAC Unit

One of the most effective means of reducing humidity levels in your home is by replacing obsolete HVAC units or having your unit serviced. While HVAC systems’ primary purpose is not dehumidification, these devices can lower humidity levels in a home.

In particularly humid climates, homeowners can install dehumidifying heat pipes on their HVAC unit to reduce indoor humidity. Dehumidifying heat pipes resemble a pair of heat exchangers and are installed on either side of your HVAC unit’s evaporator coil. HVAC units equipped with dehumidifying heat pumps can extract 91 percent more water vapor than regular HVAC units can, significantly reducing indoor humidity.

dehumidifying heat pipes on their HVAC unit to reduce indoor humidity in annapolis

HVAC systems that are too large for the home they are cooling can contribute to excess indoor humidity. Replacing inappropriately sized units with the right system or reconfiguring duct work to better accommodate the system can result in better dehumidification.

Air conditioner repair companies can also check that systems’ condensate capture and draining systems are working properly, as faulty condensate capture and draining systems contribute to excess humidity indoors.

Reducing humidity levels in annapolis

Reducing Humidity Levels

HVAC repair and replacement isn’t your only option to reduce humidity levels in your home. There are many other changes large and small you can do to eliminate excess moisture inside your residence:

  • Installing ventilation fans to port moist air outside can help you reduce humidity in your home. Install ventilation fans in parts of the home that create moisture, such as your kitchen and bathroom. Be sure to turn the fans on when you’re engaged in activities that create moisture, such as cooking or showering. Leave the fans on, after you’re finished, to vent the excess moisture outside your home.
  • If you’re unable to install fans, opening a window in the bathroom or kitchen while you’re showering or cooking can also help vent moist air outside.
  • Taking colder, shorter showers can also help reduce excess moisture in your home. Using a low-flow showerhead will also reduce the amount of water used when you take a shower.

ways you can reduce indoor humidity in annapolis

  • Use dehumidifiers in your home to reduce excess moisture. Dehumidifiers come in several varieties. Desiccant dehumidifiers use substances that absorb moisture, such as the packets of silica gel packaged with electronics to prevent excess humidity in the packaging.
  • Mechanical dehumidifiers are similar to refrigerators and HVAC units in that they use coils and condensers. Air moves past a coil, which condenses airborne moisture. This moisture is then transferred into a water tank. Peltier dehumidifiers use the thermoelectric effect to reduce the humidity level in your home.
  • Where you place dehumidifiers is important. Be sure to place your dehumidifier where it can do the most good, such as the basement or another area of the house prone to humidity.
  • Windows can be a huge source of moisture in your home. Retrofitting your windows with storm windows or adding plastic film to your windows can help, as can weatherstripping and caulking your windows.
  • Carpet can retain moisture, increasing the indoor humidity in your home. Replacing old carpet with new or tearing out the carpet and installing tile or wood flooring can reduce moisture in your home.
  • Waterproofing concrete basement walls with Xypex or Drylock can help reduce moisture in your basement.

barstow and sons air conditioner repair can help you reduce humidity in annapolis

  • When cooking, cover your food to prevent excess moisture from escaping into the air and increasing humidity levels.
  • Adding wrap insulation on your pipes can help prevent excess humidity in crawl spaces under your house.
  • Make sure your dryer is properly vented to outside your home. Improperly vented dryers can be a major source of humidity inside your home.
  • Improving the draining outside your home can help prevent excess moisture in your basement . Make sure that soil slopes away from the foundation of your home. Also, make sure that the downspouts from your gutters empty a sufficient distance away from your home. Be sure not to overwater flowers or shrubs planted near your home’s foundation.
  • Reducing the number of houseplants in your home may also help to reduce humidity. Houseplants release more moisture into the air than they absorb, so having a large number of them inside your home will only increase humidity levels. By reducing your number of houseplants, temporarily placing some of them outside, or by placing them all in a single room, you can reduce humidity levels in your home.

When you reduce the humidity levels in your home, you’ll notice an almost immediate improvement. You’ll no longer have that clammy feeling, and the air in your home will seem crisper and clearer. In the long run, the time you invested in reducing humidity will save you money, as you will enjoy better health, and your home will experience fewer problems.

Barstow & Sons is a family-owned air conditioner repair and maintenance company serving the greater Annapolis, MD area. With more than 30 years in the business, Barstow & Sons has the training and experience needed to handle any job, large or small.

Open 24 hours a day, the company specializes in Lennox products but can capably install and service nearly all HVAC products. Contact Barstow & Sons today to learn more about how the company can reduce excess humidity in your home or handle your other HVAC installation, repair, and replacement needs.

13 Ways to Dramatically Cut AC Costs This Summer

Person with Tablet

Summer has arrived and, if current trends hold, it will deliver some of the hottest temperatures on record. That could send homeowners’ cooling costs skyrocketing unless they follow better energy habits and make sure their HVAC unit is in good working order.

Cut Air Conditioning costs this summer in Annapolis

Energy costs associated with operating air conditioners cost homeowners in the U.S. an estimated $30 billion per year. Electricity used by HVAC systems accounts for about 48 percent of all residential energy use, making it the single largest energy expense for most homeowners . Energy costs have been trending upward in the past decade—between 2005 and 2015, residential electricity prices have increased by 34 percent.

The numbers make it clear—homeowners who want to find a way to reduce their monthly expenses would do well to reduce energy used for heating and cooling their homes.

As most of the U.S. is located in temperate areas, many Americans spend far more on cooling their homes than heating them. The good news is that homeowners don’t have to endure miserably hot temperatures to realize savings on their monthly energy bills during the summer. With upfront investment in new technologies and some time spent on preventative maintenance, homeowners can enjoy lower power bills even during the dog days of summer.

Good Energy Habits

Lower power bills start with good energy habits. Homeowners who leave their doors and windows open on hot summer days with their air conditioners set to low can’t expect a drop in energy bills. Smart homeowners know a little discipline and common sense are required to enjoy lower cooling costs. Here are a few smart solutions for lowering cooling costs and overall energy bills:

  • Turn it up a degree or two – The easiest way to reduce heating costs is to turn the thermostat up a little. A temperature setting of 78 degrees is within most people’s comfort range and will avoid using too much power.
  • Keep curtains closed – Too much sunlight can cause your home to warm more quickly, increasing air conditioner usage. Good, stout curtains will help keep sunlight from causing the temperatures inside your home from requiring your unit to run more to maintain comfortable temperatures.

How to cut Air Conditioning costs this summer in Annapolis

  • Don’t cool an empty house – If you’re going on a vacation or an extended business trip, don’t leave your unit on the same setting you maintain when you’re at home. Turn it up a few degrees or shut it down entirely. You can ensure that you return to a cool home by having a neighbor turn it back to its usual setting a few hours before you arrive or by changing the setting remotely with an automated system.
  • Dry clothes at night – Running your clothes dryer can make your home hotter, particularly if you live in a small home. Wait to run your dryer until night time, when temperatures are lower, to keep your air conditioner from having to do extra work during the day to maintain your desired temperature.
  • Cook outside – Cooking can also increase temperatures in your home. Summer’s a great time for outdoor cooking. Invest in a grill and cook outside to avoid adding to your air conditioning unit’s workload.

Cutting air Conditioning costs this summer in Annapolis

Heating & Cooling Maintenance

Maintaining your heating and cooling system is also important to reduce your summer energy bills. Your unit has a big workload; most units run for hours each day to keep energy costs low. By properly maintaining the unit, you improve its operational efficiency and lower its energy consumption. Try these maintenance suggestions to ensure your unit is in good working order:

  • Change your air filters – Regularly changing your air filters is one of the easiest and most effective means of keeping your unit operating properly. In general, you should change your air filter once a month. Air filters that absorb too much dirt will cause air flow obstructions and may allow dirt into the system, which can damage it.
  • Have your ducts inspected – The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that about 30 percent of air that flows through heating and cooling system ductwork is lost because of leaks. Having an HVAC professional inspect your duct work can ensure that leaks aren’t losing you money.

In addition to leaks, your ducts may also have excessive dirt and dust that can reduce heating and cooling system efficiency and impact your home’s indoor air quality. Heating and cooling technicians can do several things to improve your ducts, including cleaning them thoroughly with special brushes and vacuums, treating them with chemicals that will resist mold and bacteria growth, and sealing tiny holes that can cause air loss.

Homeowners should have their ductwork inspected and maintained every few years to ensure optimum efficiency and to ensure they don’t have dirty, polluted air circulating through their homes. lower your Air Conditioning costs this summer in Annapolis

  • Install a smart thermostat – Modern thermostats help homeowners better manage their heating and cooling energy usage. The newest thermostats allow homeowners to program when they want to system to be most and least active. High-end thermostats can even learn their owners’ schedules and preferences and adapt to accommodate them.

Some thermostats integrate with owners’ smartphones and allow their owners to adjust thermostat settings from anywhere—a big convenience for workers who commute or are frequently out of town.

  • Unit maintenance – At least every other year, you should have heating and cooling system technicians visit your home to service the unit. They’ll inspect the unit to ensure it has adequate coolant and, also, check the coils and other mechanical components of the unit to ensure they are working properly.

ways you can lower your Air Conditioning costs this summer in Annapolis

Home Improvements

Changing your habits and maintaining your heating and cooling system aren’t the only ways to reduce power bills associated with cooling your home. There are also several home improvement projects you can undertake to improve your home’s energy efficiency, including:

lowering your Air Conditioning costs this summer in Annapolis

  • Seal your windows – Installing new windows isn’t the only window-related task you’ll need to do. Windows are a leading source of heat loss in homes, with leaks or cracks around the edges of the windows being the primary cause of this problem. By caulking around your windows and installing weather stripping, you can keep cold air in and hot air out.
  • Install insulation – Homes that aren’t properly insulated will be more costly to cool in the summer and heat in the winter. Check your attic to see if it has enough insulation, and consult with a contractor to determine if the walls in your home are sufficiently insulated. If they’re not, have a professional insulation company add sufficient insulation. Many older homes are not properly insulated, so taking care of this problem could save you a lot of money.
  • Install ceiling fans – Ceiling fans take less energy to run than air conditioners and can help cool your home. By adding ceiling fans, you won’t have to turn your thermostat down as low to achieve desired temperatures, thus reducing your energy bill.

Barstow & Sons is a family-owned heating and cooling installation and repair service operating in the Annapolis, MD area. Founded in 1980, Barstow & Sons has built a reputation for outstanding customer service and satisfaction.

Available for emergency repair work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Barstow & Sons specializes in Lennox products but can also provide maintenance, installation, and repairs for nearly any HVAC system. Learn how Barstow & Sons can help you save money on your energy bills today by contacting the company via phone or chat.

11 of the Most Frequently Asked HVAC Questions

HVAC Units Outside

To most people, how air conditioners work is a matter of magic. They don’t know how HVAC systems make temperatures bearable in their homes and offices, but they’re awfully glad they do.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 75 percent of all homes in the U.S. have air conditioners . These devices use about 6 percent of all the energy produced in America. U.S. homeowners spend about $29 billion on energy costs each year related to controlling the temperature inside their homes.

Air conditioners work by applying the principles of refrigeration. They remove heat from an area of the home to the outside, and the cold air created by this process is distributed by a fan through ducts throughout the home.

Heating and cooling units are very durable devices. Most run several hours per day and have a useful life of 15 years or more . Considering their workload and the fact that the units are exposed to wind and rain and hot and cold temperatures outside, that’s pretty impressive.

When homeowners’ air conditioners aren’t working properly, they get curious about how these devices that they often take for granted work. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about heating and cooling units:

How often do I need to change my air filters? Once a month is a pretty good rule of thumb for most people. Depending on where you live and how much dirt, pet dander, and other contaminants are present, the answer could be more or less. Check your filter frequently to determine if it’s dirty. If it is, change it.

changing air filters in Annapolis

What size unit do I need? There’s no easy answer for this one. A lot of factors will go into what size heating and cooling unit you’ll need. The type of house you own, its walls, insulation, attic space, and more can go into determining what size unit is required. A system that is too large could result in a home that’s too humid, causing problems with moisture and mold. A system that is too small will run constantly, running up your energy bill. Only a qualified heating and cooling technician can determine what size unit is best for your home.

If I replace my outdoor unit, do I need to also replace my indoor unit? In most cases, the answer is yes. There are a variety of reasons why you should replace both the outdoor and indoor unit simultaneously. For starters, air conditioner and heat pump outdoor units are manufactured to work with a matched indoor unit. When you mix and match units, it can result in reduced efficiency and performance.

Also, if you bought your indoor and outdoor units at the same time, your indoor unit will probably be approaching the end of its useful life at about the same time the outdoor unit. By not replacing the indoor unit too, all you’re doing is delaying the inevitable and likely paying higher energy bills at the same time.

By purchasing indoor and outdoor units simultaneously, you’ll get a warranty covering the whole system, meaning that you won’t have to cover the full cost of any needed repairs to your unit during the warranty period.

HVAC repair and replacement in Annapolis

Should I cover my unit in the fall and winter? While covering your unit can prevent unwanted debris from accumulating on the unit, it can also cause problems if you try to operate it with the covering in place. If you’re going on a long trip and plan to turn the unit off while you’re gone, feel free to cover it up. Just make sure you disconnect the power source before leaving.

Why should I replace my R-22 outdoor unit with an R410A? R-22 refrigerant and equipment are being phased out as Montreal Protocol regulations intended to reduce the impact on ozone take hold. As time passes, replacement parts and refrigerant for old R-22 units will become harder to find and more expensive, so replacing your unit now can save you some headaches in the future.

What causes AC units to freeze up? There are a lot of reasons why your air conditioning system might freeze up, and all of them require help from a professional technician to resolve, as only they have the training and correct tools to fix the problem.

Ironically, low refrigerant can cause your system to freeze up. Over time, wear and tear to your system can result in leaks that cause the system to lose refrigerant. When your unit loses refrigerant, it causes the system to freeze up because of low pressure inside the system.

When freon levels are low, the refrigerant still is forced to expand to the same amount. The more that expansion occurs, the cooler the temperature produced. The colder temperature will cause moisture in the air around your unit’s evaporator coil to freeze, eventually icing up the coil and impeding its function.

Dirty evaporator coils can cause units to lose airflow and, eventually, cause the system to freeze up. Defective blower motors can also cause freezing.

How often should I have my unit serviced? Heating and cooling units need to have scheduled check-ups to make sure everything is operating properly. HVAC experts recommend an annual inspection and service call by your heating and cooling company. Technicians should inspect your system, lubricate components, and repair or replace any malfunctioning components.

Why are my ducts making a popping sound when the furnace starts or stops? Popping noises are usually indicative of ducts that are too small to manage the airflow your system is generating. Qualified air conditioner repair specialists can evaluate your ductwork and make necessary adjustments.

HVAC and indoor air quality in Annapolis

What is a zoning system? Zoning systems separate your air conditioning system’s ductwork into different segments, allowing you to exercise temperature control in each segment, thus allowing for more targeted and efficient air conditioning.

For example, you may have a room with many windows that gets hot in the summer and which may need more air to cool down, while you may also have a rarely occupied guest room on the other end of the house. With a zoned air conditioning system, you can direct more cold air to the many-windowed room and less air to the unoccupied room. This allows more efficient use of your AC system and a more comfortable home.

What can I do about indoor air quality? Indoor air quality is a major concern, as many studies show that air pollution is much worse indoors than outdoors. You can improve your indoor air quality with frequent dusting and vacuuming, and you can also have a qualified technician install devices such as UV light units, special air filters, and electronic air cleaners to improve indoor air quality. Poor indoor air quality has been linked to many illnesses, so improving your home’s air quality is an investment worth making.

HVAC fix and repair in Annapolis

How do I find out if my unit is under warranty? Check the label on the outer surface of your equipment to determine its manufacture date. If it’s less than five years old, there’s a good chance that your equipment is covered by warranty. Contact the manufacturer for more details.

What’s the best way to extend the life of my unit? Heating and cooling units are a big investment, so it’s understandable that you’d want them to last as long as possible. Reducing usage is always helpful, so turn the thermostat up or down, as needed, to reduce use when you’re not at home. Changing air filters will prevent clogs. Regular check-ups can also help you ward off any potential trouble spots.

These are just a few of the questions air conditioning and heating specialists answer every day. When you have questions about your heating and cooling system, it pays to get help from experienced professionals.

HVAC installation, repair, and maitenance service in Annapolis

Barstow & Sons is a family-owned HVAC installation, repair, and maintenance service helping customers in the greater Annapolis area. Available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Barstow & Sons services all makes and models of HVAC equipment, as well as water heaters. For answers to your heating and cooling problems, contact Barstow & Sons today at (410) 777.9185.

The Homeowner’s Guide to HVAC Systems

HVAC filter

If your air conditioner has been having mechanical troubles lately, it is important to make sure that your air conditioning system is up and running properly, before the summer gets into gear. When you experience significant furnace or air conditioning problems in your home, it may be time to install a new HVAC system for your property. A company that offers HVAC services near Annapolis will be able to guide you through every step of choosing and installing a new system for your household. Let’s walk through a brief guide to what every homeowner needs to know about HVAC systems. HVAC Systems repair maintenance and installation services in annapolis

Heating Elements

Nearly every HVAC system is equipped with a heating element, which is designed to raise the temperature of a home’s indoor air. As you are shopping for different HVAC systems, you may want to consider whether you would prefer a heating element that relies on ductwork or baseboards. Most conventional furnaces heat through a home’s ductwork, whereas boilers require baseboards in order to transfer heat around the home.

Cooling Elements

During the summer season, your air conditioning system will keep your home cool and comfortable. Air conditioner technology has advanced to include energy-efficient features in recent years. When you are shopping for a new air conditioner, you will want to look for a unit that has a SEER, or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating. Units with higher SEERS are able to save money and energy during the peak summer months.

Repair Options

When you are considering replacing your HVAC system, you may also want to ask your technician about the possibility of repairing or retrofitting your current unit. HVAC systems that are experiencing only minor mechanical troubles can become more efficient and reliable when they are retrofitted with certain components. For example, your HVAC technician may be able to upgrade your furnace’s ignition system, so that it is able to turn off at different intervals. Your air conditioner may cool your home more effectively if it is equipped with a new dehumidifier.

Is It Time to Consider AC Replacement?

Group of HVAC Units

When outdoor temperatures start to soar, your air conditioner is your best defense against the summer heat. Instead of waiting for a major mechanical emergency to replace your air conditioner, it is a better idea to purchase a new ductless air conditioner before your old unit has a chance to fail. A company that offers air conditioner repair and services for HVAC near Annapolis can help you decide when the time is right for you to install a new AC system.

There are a few signs that you may be ready to purchase a new AC system for your home. If you have started to notice that your air conditioner is barely able to produce enough air to cool down your indoor spaces, it may be time to consider replacing your system. Poor indoor air quality is another indication that your AC needs to be replaced. It is also a good idea to replace your system when you start to hear it make strange noises while it is operating.

air conditioner replacement in annapolis

Steps You Can Take to Maintain Your Air Conditioner

Cooling System

If you want to beat the heat during the upcoming summer season, it is important to take the time to clean and maintain your air conditioner. A poorly maintained air conditioner will be less reliable, and it can also compromise the indoor air quality of your home. Whether you have a ductless air conditioner or a conventional unit, it is a great idea to schedule seasonal services with a technician that specializes in HVAC near Annapolis. To help you get ready for the summer months, here is a look at some steps that you can take to maintain your air conditioner. steps you can take to maintain air conditioner in annapolis

Vacuum the Condenser Coils

The box-like air conditioning unit that is located on the exterior of your home is designed to safely house your AC’s condenser coils, refrigerant lines, and other essential systems. After your air conditioner has been out of use throughout the winter and spring seasons, its condenser coils may be filled with debris. A standard household vacuum with a hose attachment can be used to clean out the condenser coils and get them ready for summer.

Replace the Air Filter

Much like the air filter in your home’s furnace, your air conditioner’s air filter must also be cleaned and maintained at routine intervals. At least once every month during the peak summer season, you will need to either clean out or replace your air filter. By taking the time to replace your air filter, you will be able to make sure that your system operates with better efficiency.

Check the Drain Channels

Your air conditioner contains a series of drain channels, which allow it to get rid of excess moisture. If the drain channels get clogged or otherwise compromised, they may cause serious mechanical issues in your air conditioning system. To maintain your air conditioner, it is a good idea to check its drain channels to ensure that they are not clogged. If you find a blockage, it can be cleared using a thin metal wire.