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fall furnace tune-ups vital homeowners

Why Fall Furnace Tune-Ups Are Vital for Homeowners

September is upon us, and that means many Utahns are beginning to prepare for fall season and, eventually, the upcoming winter. Homeowners have several important areas to consider this time of year, one of which is the furnace that’s likely been sitting unused for the majority, if not all, of the summer. At Airtime Heating & Cooling, we offer a wide range of HVAC tune-up services, including high-quality furnace tune-ups that feature inspections and several potential improvements to your system. Why are these kinds of inspections so vital for your home this fall? Let’s take a look at several reasons.

Health and Safety

For starters, regular inspections of the furnace and overall HVAC system keep everyone in the home safe and healthy. While certain furnace problems might just lead to temperature issues or discomfort, others – such as a cracked heat exchanger, for instance – can be much more serious. In these cases, the risk of carbon monoxide gas entering the home in dangerous amounts is a very real one. However, our HVAC technicians will detect issues like these early and immediately repair them on the spot, heading them off before the main heating season is in full swing.

Detecting Issues and Improving Lifespan

Another benefit of this kind of early issue detection: It improves not only the short-term functionality of the furnace, but also its long-term lifespan. Issues in furnaces that aren’t regularly inspected will simply grow over time, often resulting in large-scale problems that require costly repairs or even an early replacement of the system. When you have pros on hand to catch the signs of these problems early, however, you don’t face these risks. Many well-maintained furnaces well exceed their general 15-year average lifespan, and many can work for 20 or more years.

Pressure and Efficiency

A common issue for furnaces that have been unused for several months at a time is a lack of pressure, which can limit the efficiency of the system and raise your energy bill. But our technicians can use professional tools to test your system’s pressure and locate any issues that might be limiting it, improving efficiency and bringing you quality heat for the minimum possible cost.

Cleanliness

Another common result of a furnace sitting idle for the summer: It builds up dust, which if uncleaned will give off a foul burning odor for the first several uses of the furnace during the cold season. Our basic tune-ups will include cleaning these buildups and lubricating any parts that require it.

Warranty Adherence

Finally, if your furnace is on the newer end and is still covered by a manufacturer’s warranty, most such warranties actually require these kinds of regular inspections and tune-ups. If you neglect to schedule them and something goes wrong with the system, requiring replacement, you might find that you’ve voided your warranty and have to cover the cost yourself. For more on why fall furnace inspections and tune-ups are so important, or to learn about any of our HVAC repair services, speak to the staff at Airtime Heating & Cooling today.
signs air conditioner refrigerant leaks

Common Signs of Air Conditioner Refrigerant Leaks

The average air conditioner does quite a bit of work over the course of the hot Utah summer, and by August and the later months of the season, it’s good to check it over to ensure it’s still in good shape. There are a few minor issues you might be looking for, and one of the most common is a leak in refrigerant – the solution that helps the AC cool your home or building to begin with. At Airtime Heating & Cooling, we’re here to help with any AC repair and service, including refrigerant leaks or related issues. What are some of the telltale signs that your refrigerant might be leaking and could require patching and recharging? Let’s take a look.

Indoor Humidity Levels

Even before you begin to notice cooling issues, which we’ll get to in a moment, you may notice that your space also becomes a bit more humid when refrigerant begins to leak. This is because refrigerant not only pulls hot air from the space, but also moisture content at the same time. Particularly if you notice any condensation or dripping water in strange areas, this could be a sign.

Limited Cooling Capability

Particularly during the hottest parts of the day, have you noticed that your air conditioner just can’t keep up? The thermostat says a lower number as the target, but the actual temperature stays high. Now, to be clear, this could be due to a refrigerant leak – or one of several other issues. But if you notice this problem along with any of our other signs in this blog, you’re on the right track to finding the cause.

Rising Bills

Even if you don’t notice specific issues with your cooling or humidity, you might notice them on the next month’s utility bill. Systems that are compromised have to work harder and harder to cool, which raise your bill in a hurry.

Extended Cycles

Another physical sign you might notice is an air conditioner that runs in extremely long cycles. If your AC is running for a half-hour at a time without stopping, for instance, this is a clear sign that it’s running behind the thermostat and has an issue like a refrigerant leak.

Hissing or Bubbling

If you want to test whether one of the issues we’ve listed above is due to a refrigerant leak, turn off your AC system temporarily and go outside to your outdoor condenser unit. Can you hear a bubbling or hissing sound? If so, the issue is almost certainly a refrigerant leak. One note: No hissing or bubbling doesn’t necessarily mean refrigerant isn’t the issue, but in cases where it is, it’s likely not severe – more significant leaks will almost always create this noise.

Ice on Coils

Finally, another clear sign that will help you narrow down refrigerant leaks versus other issues is the presence of ice on the evaporator coils of your outdoor unit. There’s no reason frosty ice crystals should be forming out there in the sun – unless they’re coming from leaking refrigerant, of course, at which time you should call our team. For more on telltale signs your AC has a refrigerant leak, or to learn about any of our HVAC services, speak to the staff at Airtime Heating & Cooling today.
hvac-related preventing dust mite

HVAC-Related Areas for Preventing Dust Mite Invasion

For those with allergies, asthma or any other respiratory condition, air quality is even more of a vital concern than it already should be for the general population. Ensuring proper filtration, air flow and ventilation is important for ensuring air stays fresh and clean, and doesn’t include contaminants or allergens. At Airtime Heating & Cooling, we’re here to offer several services related directly to indoor air quality in your home or building. In today’s blog, we’ll dig into several HVAC and other areas for people with a specific common allergy: Dust mites, which are particularly common during the spring and early summer period we’re in right now. Dust mites lead to itchy skin, hives, congestion, cold symptoms and even asthma attacks in those who are prone to them. Here are several pointers for preventing dust mites from entering your home through intelligent cleaning and use of your heating and cooling system.

Humidity Control

One of the simplest ways to limit or completely eliminate dust mites is to control the humidity in your home. Dust mites thrive in higher humidity environments, especially anything above 70 percent; however, they simply cannot survive when the humidity drops below 50 percent, and anything up to 55 percent will not encourage their growth. If you’re concerned about dust mites, head to your local home improvement store and buy a basic humidity detector – they’re very cheap. From here, test the various rooms in your home for their humidity. If rooms are too high, consider purchasing a dehumidifier or simply leaving windows open for a few days to even things out.

Clean, Clear Ducts

One of the top areas for harboring several allergen types, including dust mite excrement or skin? Dirty, unkept air ducts. Not only will cleaning these regularly help keep your system functioning at peak capacity throughout the year, it will also limit any allergen deposits and help you control air quality more effectively.

Vacuuming Considerations

If you have carpet in your home, it should be vacuumed regularly for the sake of those with allergies. While doing so, if you’re one of the people in the home with allergies, we recommend wearing a mask and then leaving the room for a few minutes afterward.

Floors

We mentioned carpet above – if you’re moving into a new home soon and have a choice in the matter, we recommend hardwood flooring instead. If your current home has major dust mite or other allergy issues, you could consider replacing carpet with a hard floor.

HVAC Pros

On top of everything we’ve discussed here, it’s important to speak with our heating and air professionals about the ways you can go about preventing dust mites and other allergens from becoming a problem. We’re happy to offer high-level expertise on the proper filters needed, air purifier options, humidity control and any other areas you need assistance with. For more on any of our air quality services, or to learn about our HVAC programs today, speak to the staff at Airtime Heating & Cooling.
HVAC-related tips property landlords

HVAC-Related Tips for Property Landlords, Part 2

In part one of this two-part blog series, we went over some of the approaches and tips we recommend from an HVAC standpoint if you’re a property landlord. It’s important for landlords to maintain HVAC equipment both for tenant comfort and the long-term viability of the structure, and there are a few areas where standard maintenance here might differ slightly from a standard homeownership situation. At Airtime Heating & Cooling, we can offer a wide range of HVAC services for landlords, from furnace tune up services to air conditioning repair and much more. In today’s part two of our series, we’ll go over several other areas that are important for landlords from a day-to-day perspective when it comes to keeping the HVAC system running optimally.

Changing Filters

Changing filters in the HVAC system is vital for a couple reasons. For starters, it ensures that the air remains clean and healthy in the home. For another, clean filters prevent the buildup of dust and other debris – buildups that, over time, can wear down several major HVAC components while also raising your monthly heating or cooling bills. Changing furnace filters is extremely easy, and landlords with trusted tenants can usually rely on them to do this as necessary. Most filters require changing roughly once a month, while some others may last for multiple months. As a landlord, you should always have at least one backup filter on hand at your rental properties, and more than one if possible. If your tenants are not reliable, you can place a clause in the rental agreement that allows for you to come and change the filters regularly.

Replacing HVAC Components

For some landlords, it can be tempting to let certain HVAC issues linger – you aren’t living in the space, after all, and many HVAC issues are relatively minor. This is a major risk, though, in large part because you could be risking the health of various components in the system. Replacing or repairing worn down components will increase your energy efficiency, plus make it last longer.

Vacant Properties

As a landlord, you may deal with periods of vacancy in between your tenants. These periods allow you to be a bit more relaxed with your HVAC system – you can turn the thermostat off during the summer if no one is living there, for instance, and you can lower it to between 50 and 55 degrees during winter. The only reason you must maintain this temperature during winter is to prevent frozen pipe issues. Just be sure to check in regularly during vacant periods to make sure there are no building issues, such as rising humidity or mold growth.

Checking In

Speaking of checking in, this is a great way to keep things functioning well during the day-to-day operations with a tenant in place as well. By “checking in,” we really just mean regularly communicating with your tenants – actually showing up to the property unannounced is almost always prohibited under standard rental agreements. But simply asking your tenants about any issues regarding the HVAC system or heating and cooling concerns can go a long way. For more on maintaining your property’s HVAC system as a landlord, or to learn about any of our heating or cooling services, speak to the pros at Airtime Heating & Cooling today.
hvac-related tips property landlords

HVAC-Related Tips for Property Landlords, Part 1

If you’re considering renting your property out and becoming a landlord, or even if you’ve been doing this for years, one of the most important areas of maintenance and upkeep will be your HVAC system. It’s vital that tenants have proper air quality and comfort within a rented home, but also very important that tenants understand which areas of maintenance are in their court as well. At Airtime Heating & Cooling, we’ll provide landlords and their tenants a full range of air conditioning and heating services, from basic tune-ups to any major replacements or installations your HVAC system needs. This two-part blog will go over several tips we can offer landlords on maintaining an effective, low-hassle HVAC system – from buying the home in the first place to your general approach and, finally, some specific areas to keep an eye on.

Initial Inspection Before Buying

First things first: Whether or not you’re planning to rent a home after buying it, a major part of your inspection process should involve the HVAC system and its various components. All home purchases should be made after a professional third-party inspection and appraisal, one where this objective party can let you know if there are any issues with the air conditioner, furnace, water heater, vents and several other related areas. If such issues are present, you have a couple options. The first will be to demand a price reduction, which you’ll often get. The second would be to require that the seller attend to the issues themselves before you pay their original asking price. In either case, don’t allow yourself to be taken advantage of and discover HVAC issues after you’ve already signed the paperwork.

General Landlord Approach

We’re often asked by our clients, particularly those attempting landlord services for the first time, how to approach this situation. Our broad recommendation: Proceed as if you expect nothing out of your tenants. Of course, many good tenants will be diligent about their HVAC responsibilities. They will change furnace and AC filters regularly if you provide replacement filters, for instance, and will keep an eye out for signs of HVAC issues and report back to you. Unfortunately, though, not all tenants are like this – many will neglect these responsibilities, even if they’re in the lease. You have to be prepared for the lowest common denominator here: Assume you have to do everything when it comes to HVAC care, and adjust accordingly if your tenants prove otherwise.

Standard Maintenance

Generally speaking, the primary role of a landlord with regard to the HVAC system is checking in for standard maintenance. The landlord is in charge of bi-annual tune-ups, for instance, during which components can be inspected to ensure they’re functioning properly. This will not only keep you in compliance will all laws and regulations, but will also extend the life of several components and save you money in the long run. For more on how to operate as a landlord when it comes to HVAC care, or to learn about any of our heating or air conditioning services, speak to the pros at Airtime Heating & Cooling today.
HVAC warranties

Understanding and Applying HVAC Warranties

There are many product and amenity areas where warranties are an element to consider, and the HVAC world is a great example. Certain elements involved in your HVAC system, including furnaces, air conditioner units, water heaters and others, are high-value items that are expected to work for many years, and will often come with warranty protections of some kind. At Airtime Heating & Cooling, we’re happy to explain any and all warranties offered on our various AC and heater installations, plus any other components you may need. Let’s go over a few things that are important to know about HVAC warranties – the types out there that might be presented to you, plus some important clarifying questions to ask to make sure everything is kosher as you move forward.

Different Warranty Types

Not all warranties are created equal in the HVAC world, and not all are even termed in the same ways either. Here are some broad warranty types to consider:
  • Guarantee: Generally provided by manufacturers, this is less a warranty and more a promise that covers previous equipment and manufacturing processes. Essentially, it guarantees that everything was made properly and will function as expected, with no additional charge to you as a customer. If this guarantee is not met, a free exchange is usually allowed.
  • Manufacturer’s warranty: Unlike a guarantee, this is a specific legal document provided by the manufacturer that states a few specific things. For one, it identifies a period of time the warranty extends for. From here, it states that certain faulty parts or products will be covered during this period of time, with specifics on which kinds of damage are covered (some warranties will cover user error while others won’t, for instance).
  • Labor warranty: In some cases, HVAC companies like ours will offer labor warranties that cover system installations and any resulting issues.
  • Extended warranty: Sometimes available from either manufacturers or installers, an extended warranty provides additional protection, usually for an extra cost.

Areas to Consider

As we noted above, not all warranties are created equal when it comes to HVAC materials – they can differ between areas, components and even manufacturers. Our HVAC installation technicians are happy to answer any questions you have on warranties, which can often make the difference in which product you select and which you discard. Here are some areas to consider asking about:
  • Sold home: If you happen to sell your home during the life of a warranty, what will happen to the warranty? Will it transfer to new owners?
  • Invalidation: Are there any behaviors or events I need to avoid that might invalidate or void my warranty?
  • Lifetime warranty: This is a term used by some manufacturers, but it can be misleading in some cases. Does “lifetime” refer to the person buying the part, the part itself, the home, or what? Ask for specifics here if this kind of warranty is being offered.
  • Warranty access: If something does go wrong that’s covered by a warranty, how easy is it to utilize the warranty quickly and efficiently?
For more on HVAC warranties, or to learn about any of our heating and air services, speak to the staff at Air Time Heating & Cooling today.
furnace burning odor

Understanding and Addressing Furnace Burning Odors

At Airtime Heating & Cooling, air quality and odors are just some of the many HVAC-related elements we can assist you with at a moment’s notice. Not only are we here for areas like furnace and air conditioner installation and repairs to help keep you and your family comfortable throughout the year, we’re also here to ensure none of these solutions creates air quality issues or leaves you inhaling undesirable odors. One odor that some homeowners or their families may notice during the winter and cold months is a burning smell that’s coming from the furnace or heating system. If you’ve never experienced this before, you might be concerned that it’s a major issue and signals something actually ablaze in your HVAC system – we’re here to tell you that in all but extremely rare situations, this is not the case. Let’s go over what the general cause of this kind of odor is, when it might be present, and what you can do in cases where it’s unusual or signals a risk.

What the Smell Means

In the vast majority of cases, a burning smell from the furnace is completely normal, and relates to the furnace “warming up” again after some period of inactivity. This inactivity might be as little as a few hours, or could be as long as weeks or months in other cases. It’s one of the single most common issues homeowners have relating to their furnaces. To get a bit more specific, the smell is generally caused by the accumulation of dirt and dust in and around the heat exchangers in your furnace, or the air ducts and registers air passes through. When the furnace is turned on, this dust burns off and releases the odor in question.

Times When It’s Appropriate

The most common time for experiencing this burning smell is at the beginning of the heating season in fall – when the furnace has been off for much of the last several months and has had time to accumulate dust and debris. However, this can also take place due to shorter periods of inactivity, especially if your furnace filters are not changed often enough and there’s lots of dust in your home.

How Long it Lasts

The burning smell should not last long, especially if the furnace has only been off for a few hours – the smell should only last about this long as well, in this case. In situations where the furnace hasn’t been used in weeks or months, you can expect the odor to last for a day or two.

Irregular Burning Smells and What to Do

If you notice a continuous burning smell from the furnace that doesn’t go away even after a reasonable period of time, or if burning smells are taking place even without recent inactivity, you could have another issue. If changing your furnace filter doesn’t solve the problem, call our professionals for an inspection. For more on what a burning smell from your furnace means, or to learn about any of our heating and air services, speak to the pros at Air Time Heating & Cooling today.
importance replacement furnace sizing

Importance of Proper Replacement Furnace Sizing

At Airtime Heating & Cooling, furnace replacement is among our specialties, particularly during the colder winter. Whether you’re looking to reduce your monthly heating bill, increase your heating capacity or stop spending on the same repair over and over, our pros are on hand to assess your damage and provide you with a cost-effective solution. One of the key factors to consider when installing a new furnace? The size of the unit, which will play a big role in everything from heating capacity to your utility bill. Let’s go over some of the risks you run with an improperly sized system, why you should always consult with professionals here, and the tools and calculations we’ll use to find the right size for you. importance replacement furnace sizing

Issues With Poorly Sized Systems

Just like with air conditioner units, you run into several specific risks when you purchase a furnace that’s either too large or too small. Oversized furnaces will provide too much heat in many cases, making rooms – especially those closest to the furnace itself – far too hot. They’ll also turn on and off too frequently, which will stress the entire HVAC system and result in additional service calls. On the flip side, furnaces that are too small will have to run far too often to keep up with your home’s heating needs. They’ll put a huge stress on your vents and ducts, upping your energy costs in a huge way just to provide the same amount of heat as a properly sized system.

Proper Calculations

It’s generally possible to find basic charts or calculations on the websites of furnace manufacturers, and these can be a good guide when it comes to furnace size. However, you should know that HVAC technicians like ours are trained with much more detailed calculation methods here – for a system that truly fits your home, you should consult with us. We’ll take measurements and inspections in several important areas:
  • Square footage of the home
  • Cubic feet of indoor air space
  • Integrity of home “envelope”
  • Exposure to sunlight
  • Ductwork efficiency
  • Type, quality and amount of insulation
  • R-value and U-value of windows, doors and other air passage elements

Upgrading Models

In many cases, you’ll love your current furnace and its performance, but it will come time to replace it based on age. Many homeowners default to just buying the same size model – but hold on a moment. You might be able to upgrade to a more efficient model that’s smaller but still provides the same benefits for a lower cost. Speak to our HVAC technicians about this next time your furnace is up for replacement rather than just defaulting to the same size. For more on properly sizing your replacement furnace, or to learn about any of our HVAC services, speak to the pros at Airtime Heating & Cooling today.

Tips for Combating Airflow “Stack Effect”

Your home isn’t a skyscraper, but did you know that if you have even two stories in your building, you could experience a similar air effect as some of the world’s tallest buildings? It’s true, and this is an event called “stack effect” – one that can lead to air loss, rising utility bills and a few other issues. At Airtime Heating & Cooling, our various furnace and HVAC tune-up services include checking for various indoor air effects, including stack effect. But in case it appears during another part of the year when your inspection is past, here are some basics to know about stack effect and what you can do about it.

Stack Effect Basics

Stack effect, as we noted above, is most common in skyscrapers and other very tall buildings. It refers to a state where the peak of the structure, whether a home or building, acts as its own gigantic chimney – it funnels warm air (which naturally rises) upward, where it eventually is able to escape due to air openings that form over time. Why does stack effect happen? Because of temperature imbalances. When the temperature outside the building is much lower than the temperature inside, cold air will enter the structure at the bottom and push the warm air up. This leads to a worsening cycle where more air coming in just makes the drafts stronger, and so on. This is a larger and larger issue the taller the building is, and is part of the reason nearly all skyscrapers currently use revolving doors – because previous door types created air suction conditions so significant that people couldn’t even pull the doors open due to stack effect.

Why It’s an Issue

Within a home, stack effect is a problem when it begins to impact your air sealing. As stack effect worsens and pressure increases on the upper parts of your home, pressure will be put on the roof, insulation and other upper areas – these may crack, crumble or otherwise wear down, allowing air to escape as it rises. And as we noted above, this will only get worse with time, raising your utility bill each month and also potentially forcing you to spend on repairs for your roofing, insulation or even your foundation.

Possible Solutions

The primary combatant to stack effect is strong insulation. Stack effect may take place to some small degree in your home regardless, but if you have great upper insulation, it won’t matter. Warm air will reach the upper parts of your home and simply have nowhere to go. When you use fans and other formats to recirculate it, it will get right back into the entirety of the home instead of being lost. The most important insulation level here is the barrier between your top floor and either your roof or your attic. However, we recommend having your insulation across the home checked or upgraded regularly. For more on fighting off the stack effect, or to learn about any of our furnace repair or other HVAC services, speak to the pros at Airtime Heating & Cooling today.
high winter air quality

Tips for High Winter Air Quality

The winter is here, and that means that some of our typical avenues for freshening up the air in our homes are either removed or heavily restricted. It’s not as easy to just open a window or door for a few hours and let some fresh air in, at least not without causing huge increases to your heating bill based on heat escaping the home. At Airtime Heating & Cooling, we’re here to help with this and other HVAC-related areas this winter. We can help you with everything from properly sealing your structure to helpful tips for indoor air quality, including our whole-home solutions. Here are some basic pieces of advice we can offer on keeping the air quality in your home high over the winter despite fewer avenues for fresh outdoor air.

Vents and Registers

All air that makes its way to you in the home will pass through your vents and registers within the HVAC system, so caring for these areas is very important. Without attention, vents and registers will build up dust over the course of the year, which in turn makes your air tougher to breathe. Luckily, preventing this is easy. Just use the wand attachment on your vacuum, or even a traditional duster attachment, to reach to these areas and cut down on dust flowing around your home’s air.

Filters

Another element your air will pass through before reaching you is the filter in your furnace. You should be taking care to check and replace filters throughout the year, to be sure, but this job just takes on increased importance during the winter when there are fewer paths to fresh air in the home. If you have pets, you should be changing your filters even more often than the factory recommendations state.

Thermostat Fan

As long as you have updated filters in your furnace, running the fan on your thermostat is a great way to cycle air and clean it out. The fan will automatically run during heating cycles, but you can turn it from “Auto” to “On” and cause it to run all the time. This will continuously run the home’s air through the filter and make it cleaner – but it will also raise your utility bill, so use this tactic sparingly.

Ceiling Fan Blades

Another common area for dust accumulation is on ceiling fans, so you should clean these regularly during winter. In addition, consider flipping the direction of the ceiling fan in winter so the blades move clockwise – this will create an updraft that helps with warming.

Duct Cleaning

The worst dust and allergen buildups in the HVAC system often take place in the duct system, where it can be tough to reach on your own or even see in many cases. If you think this might be an issue in your home, talk to us about professional duct cleaning.

Air Filtration

Finally, consider a whole-home indoor air quality machine like our “Clean Effects” device from Trane. Not only does this technology clean all contaminants from your air, it also helps with humidity control as well. If you have consistent air quality issues, this is a great outlet to consider. For more on keeping indoor air quality high during winter, or to learn about any of our HVAC services, speak to the pros at Airtime Heating & Cooling today.

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High-Efficiency Experts / Service & Installation
(801) 396-2446 High-Efficiency Experts / Service & Installation
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