Category Archives: Uncategorized

What’s That Smell? 5 Furnace Odors And What They Mean

Whenever you turn on your furnace, you expect your unit to circulate clean, fresh air throughout your house. On a regular day, you might not even notice your furnace at all, as it runs quietly and efficiently.

Lately, you’ve noticed an unusual smell emanating from your machine. Sometimes, the odor overwhelms you and your family, and other times, you only catch a faint whiff of the scent, making you question whether it comes from your furnace at all.

But no matter how strong the smell, some scents you should never ignore, as they often indicate unit damage or failure. To ensure your family stays safe, take a look at the most common smells a furnace makes and the causes behind them.

1. Rotten Eggs or Sulfur

Natural gas is highly flammable, and that combustibility makes it a good fuel source for appliances throughout your home. Unfortunately, natural gas is also dangerous when inhaled, causing dizziness, nausea, fatigue, and irregular breathing.

As natural gas has no odor of its own, many gas companies add the chemical mercaptan as a safety precaution. This sulfur-based chemical gives off the distinct smell of rotten eggs so you know when natural gas is nearby.

If you have a propane- or gas-powered furnace that smells like rotten eggs or sulfur, you may have a gas leak. Due to the risks involved, you should take gas leaks seriously and never try to pinpoint the source on your own. Call in a professional and exit your home until you know the area is safe again.

2. Dirty Socks or Locker Room

You are likely all too familiar with that overwhelming scent of corn chips, fish sauce, and old cheese, but you might never expect these locker-room scents to come from your furnace.

Dirty sock syndrome occurs when bacteria build up on your heating system coils. During the spring and fall seasons, the coils cool with outdoor temperature drops and reheat when you turn up the thermostat. This constant cycle between warm and cold often results in condensation buildup, and the moist environment, in turn, results in bacterial growth.

The best way to eliminate this foul odor comes from a good, old-fashioned cleaning. Start by replacing your unit’s air filter and by cleaning the evaporator coils with a non-acid coil cleaner. If the smell still lingers, you may need an HVAC technician to thoroughly clean your air ducts and the rest of your unit.

3. Electrical Burning or Ozone

If you’ve ever stood out in a thunderstorm, you’ve likely smelled the sharp smell of ozone, a scent reminiscent of chlorine. Your furnace might create a similar electrical or metallic smell when it overheats.

As your furnace ages, worn bearings may cause the blower motor to seize up or bind. Your furnace may then draw additional electricity to push through the resistance, and that additionally voltage may result in excessive heat buildup in the motor. The heat is often enough to melt away wire insulation, and soon your unit could produce electrical shorts and sparks that emit the smell.

If left untended, these sparks and melting wires create enough heat to start a fire in your home. If you smell electrical burning, cut the power to your unit and call a technician for help.

4. Diesel or Burning Oil

Your furnace could create a smoky or burning oil smell for a variety of reasons:

  • If you keep your furnace in a basement or storage area, nearby items (such as toys, decorations, and clothing) could fall too close to the pilot light. These items could catch fire or melt, resulting in the smell of smoke and burning plastic.
  • If you have an oil furnace, your unit might not ignite all the oil that passes through the burner. Instead, the oil creates a fog that smells much like a diesel engine. If that fog ignites, it could result in a large flame and excessive smoke.
  • If you filled the oil tank, any spillage may give off an odor as it dissipates. This smell should fade after a day or two. But if it continues to linger, you may have an oil leak.

Not sure why your furnace smells of burning oil? Let an expert pinpoint the problem for you.

5. Dust or Must

When you haven’t used your furnace for a while, your furnace might smell like a damp, dusty, or musty basement.  The odor may smell particularly strong for the first few uses of the season, and then it may fade gradually.

This musty smell occurs when dust, dirt, and other debris collect on your unit and in your air ducts. As your furnace warms, the dust and dirt may burn away and smell faintly of smoke. Though the smell may seem worrisome, you don’t have to panic about damage to your unit.

However, if the smell persists, you could have a clogged filter that allows dust and dirt to reach your motor. Check and replace your air filter as needed.

Your Nose Knows When to Schedule Repairs

As you can see, your nose can clue you into a broken or damaged furnace. If you smell any of the above, don’t hesitate to call in an HVAC technician for furnace repairs. Even if your furnace’s particular odor doesn’t make the list, you should at least have a professional inspect your unit to ensure it functions safely. 

5 Common Winter Heating Problems

Now that the temperatures are dropping, it’s time to turn off the air conditioner and prepare for the chilly winter. As you pile up the blankets and dust off your winter coats, you may fire up the heater and settle in for a cozy winter inside.

But even if your heater worked perfectly last year, it may have a few hiccups this year. To learn more about common problems heaters have during the winter, take a look at the information below. We’ll discuss a number of different issues and what might be the cause.

1. Heat Cycling

If you notice your heater is turning on and off far more often than usual, this is called heat cycling. Heat cycling lowers system efficiency and raises your utility bills, so even if you think you’re getting enough heat, you’ll want to get your heater fixed as soon as you can.

Heat cycling can indicate an excessively dirty blower or filter, or it could be the result of a
malfunctioning thermostat. Change your filter or take a look at your thermostat. If you notice your thermostat is broken or a fresh filter doesn’t solve the problem, call a professional to take a look. They can easily pinpoint the problem and clean various areas of the heater.

2. Carbon Monoxide Leaks

Whether your heater is brand new or a decade old, install a carbon monoxide detector in your home. Carbon monoxide can easily go undetected if you solely rely on human senses. It’s tasteless, colorless, and odorless, and it can be deadly in the right amounts.

Carbon monoxide leaks are most common in furnaces that are 10 to 15 years old, so if your furnace is at least a decade old, have it inspected just in case. Or, if your carbon monoxide detector catches a whiff of carbon monoxide, call a professional immediately. They’ll know how to effectively find leaks and provide proper repairs.

3. Dry Air

Dry air can be troublesome and uncomfortable, especially if your skin is sensitive or already unusually dry. When your home has an unusually low humidity, your skin might feel dry and itchy. The lower humidity levels can also dry out and crack woodwork and wood furniture. But dry air can affect the efficiency of your heating system too.

Dry air holds less heat, so it may take more for your home to be comfortable and cozy. To remedy this issue, use a humidifier. You can use an individual humidifier in a main room, or you can install a humidifier in your HVAC system for more even moisture levels throughout the home. Not only will this protect your wood furniture and features, but it will also make your home warmer and cozier through the winter.

4. Inconsistent Heating

Most likely, you want your whole house to be properly heated, so walking from a warm room to a chilly one can be irritating. While this could certainly be a result of a malfunctioning part or heating system, it could also be a problem with your home.

Look around doors and windows for holes or cracks, and ensure your weather stripping is intact. You could have a problem with your insulation.

If everything looks properly sealed and insulated, the system’s coils or filter might be overly dirty. The uneven heating can also be a result of grimy air ducts or clogged vents. Check the filter and get your system cleaned to see if that solves the problem.

Should you still experience problems with inconsistent heating, your air handler may have some issues. Air handlers help circulate air throughout the house, and when your air handler needs repairs, you might hear a grinding sound while the heat is on.

Sometimes, whole floors can be warmer than others. When your upper stories are warm while the lower floors are cold, consider closing the upstairs vents to direct warm air to the bottom levels. Because heat rises, the cozy heat downstairs will eventually drift upwards.

5. Lack of Heat

Inefficient heating can be troublesome, but at least it still keeps your home warm. When your heating system isn’t warming your home at all, it could be due to a number or problems. Before you check anything else, look at your thermostat to make sure it’s working and has fresh batteries. A lack of heat could easily be caused by a faulty thermostat.

If you have a heat pump, it could be struggling with the winter weather. Icy wind and snow can put heavy frost on your heat pump, which can prevent the heat pump from functioning properly. Be sure your heat pump has defrost settings to keep the ice and frost at bay. If it doesn’t have the right settings, you’ll have to clear the ice and frost yourself.

For a furnace, you may have a problem with your pilot light. If your pilot light isn’t on, check to see if it has a steady power source. If not, there may be a bit of gunk and grime in the assembly, and you should call a professional to carefully clean it out for you.

When your pilot light is on but you’re still experiencing a loss of heat, you may have problems with the main burners, gas valves, control board, or flame sensor. An HVAC specialist, such as Getzschman Heating, can detect the problem and offer the best solution. We may suggest you replace your furnace, or we may recommend a few simple repairs.

Is Geothermal Energy the Future of Home Heating?

As scientists and policy makers gain knew knowledge about climate change, there’s increasing focus on developing and implementing eco-friendly ways of producing energy. One proposed and promoted solution is geothermal energy. In fact, quite a few homeowners already use this type of system to heat and cool their houses.

Are you curious about how viable geothermal energy is as an alternative to fossil-fuel-generated electricity or natural gas heating? Consider this blog your introductory course: Geothermal Heating 101.

How Geothermal Heating Works

Did you know that soil around your home contains heat? While this soil isn’t nearly as warm as the layers of magma deep inside the earth, it still holds onto plenty of heat energy. Also, that warm layer of dirt (and sometimes water) keeps a consistent temperature, about 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, no matter the season of the year or the changes in the weather.

Given the constant temperature of the ground beneath our feet, scientists and engineers have figured out ways to use that heat as a source of energy. For homeowners, the most important use involves installing geothermal heat pumps. These heating systems transfer heat between the ground and a building such as your home. The heat pump replaces your traditional HVAC system and can both warm and cool your house.

It’s important to understand that geothermal heat pumps are distinct from geothermal power. To install a heat pump, a trained technician places pipes in a relatively shallow area beneath the ground. In a horizontal system, the pipes typically lie no more than 10 feet underground. In a vertical system, the pipes may extend down several hundred feet.

In contrast, geothermal power setups use hot underground rocks to transform water into steam. The steam then turns a generator and produces electricity. Generating electricity with this method requires holes that extend much deeper into the earth’s surface, usually about a mile or more down. This blog focuses on geothermal heat pumps, not geothermal power.

Benefits of Geothermal Heating

Geothermal heat pumps have many benefits for homeowners who choose to install them. These benefits include all of the following:

  • Renewable energy source. Unlike coal and natural gas, which are often burned to generate electricity, geothermal energy is a renewable source of energy. This amount of energy available from this source does not deplete when we use it, and the ground regularly absorbs more heat energy from the rays of the sun. This renewability makes geothermal heat pumps sustainable.
  • Efficient energy use. According to an article on Energy.gov, geothermal heat pumps use significantly less electricity than comparable systems-25 to 50 percent less. (That small amount of electricity moves the heat transfer liquid through the system’s pipes.) Consequently, geothermal heat pumps have a smaller carbon footprint than HVAC systems and boilers.
  • Humidity control. The amount of water in the air, or the relative humidity, affects how cold or hot air feels. In addition to heating or cooling your home, a geothermal heat pump also influences the relative humidity indoors, helping your house maintain a more consistent and comfortable temperature.
  • Durability. Although geothermal heat pumps are a relatively new technology, they have a long working life. This longevity occurs because the system has few moving parts, meaning less wear and tear overall. Plus, most of the system (except the parts underground) is placed inside your home, rather than outside where weather or vandalism could damage it. These systems can easily last 20 years or longer.

Based on these benefits, it’s easy to see why scientists, government agencies, and home heating professionals consider geothermal heat pumps a viable way to reduce our reliance on less renewable forms of energy.

Costs and Considerations

Although geothermal heat pumps have many advantages, there are several factors that affect how quickly homeowners adopt this green form of heating and cooling:

  • Installation price. The price to install a geothermal heat pump is higher than the price to install more traditional heating systems, such as furnaces, boilers, and air conditioners. However, the higher initial investment can be made up in lower utility bills. Energy.gov estimates that for many who switch to geothermal heat pumps, the installation costs can be recovered in 2 to 10 years.
  • Retrofitting. For homeowners who live in a house that is already several years old, switching to a geothermal heat pump may seem inconvenient. Installing a heat pump involves digging into soil and disturbing existing landscaping. However, these systems can be retrofitted into existing houses, and some only affect a small portion of the home’s yard space.

While a geothermal heat pump may not be within the budget of every homeowner right now, many are likely to adopt this technology in the next several years, including homeowners who live in existing houses.

Geothermal Heating in the Future

As people continue to search for greener, renewable forms of energy, geothermal heating looks to become a
major player. More than a million geothermal heat pumps already operate within the United States, and these systems can be installed practically everywhere.

Are you curious about how your home would benefit from a geothermal heat pump? Speak to the professionals at Getzchman-we proudly consult with homeowners who are interested in this cutting-edge heating and cooling method.

Want Cleaner Air? Go the Natural Route

Does the air in your home or office seem a little stuffy? Do you experience more allergies indoors than you do outdoors? Odds are your home or business’s air quality is poor. If you want to make your indoor air cleaner, you likely want to do it as naturally as possible.

In our previous blog, “7 Houseplants That Can Help You Breathe Easier,” we listed several common plants you can add to your home to improve the air quality. However, there are several other ways you can make your inside air cleaner. As a result, you can breathe better and experience fewer allergies. Read on to discover other natural methods for purifying your indoor air.

1. Salt Lamps

You’ll usually find salt lamps made from Himalayan pink salt. You plug the lamp in to heat up the salt, and the mineral draws moisture in the air to it. The heat of the lamp causes the moisture to evaporate, and this process releases negative ions into the air.

These negative ions find particles in the air with positive charges and neutralize them. Dirt, pollen, dust, and allergens all have positive charges that keep them suspended in the air. Once they’re neutralized, they won’t stay airborne. You’ll be able to vacuum or sweep everything away and remove these offending particles from your home or office to further improve the indoor air quality.

2. Beeswax Candles

If you burn candles, you likely pick some of your favorite scents from a local candle shop. You may even like to make your own unique-smelling candles. Either way, the candles you burn can worsen your air quality while improving how your interior smells.

Most candles are made from waxes that release petroleum byproducts. Those byproducts, including benzene and toluene, make your air much more polluted.

Instead, burn candles made from beeswax. This kind of wax burns without producing scents or smoke, and it also releases negative ions into the air. As an added plus, beeswax candles burn at a much slower rate, so one candle can last a lot longer than other candle types.

If you do make your own candles, use pure beeswax to form them. If you prefer to have some kind of scent in your home, you can add natural oils like lavender, citrus, or eucalyptus. Not only will you have a natural, succulent candle, but you’ll also further combat allergies as the candle burns.

3. Bamboo Charcoal

Another natural way to purify your air is to use activated charcoals, specifically bamboo charcoal. The product is incredibly porous, so it can absorb many kinds of pollutants and odors in the air. Additionally, you can use bamboo charcoal in water.

Essentially, bamboo is heated to a certain temperature. The heat chars the bamboo without eliminating its oxygen supply. What’s left behind is a material that attracts moisture, pollutants, debris, and microbes in the air and causes these particles to cling to it. Without these particles in the air, you air quality improves.

4. Plant Air Purifiers

As we noted in our previous blog, plants do a wonderful job of purifying air. However, you’d likely have to incorporate dozens of plants into your home or office space for them to clean your air effectively.

A plant air purifier, on the other hand, uses hydrocultured house plants to clean air. The plants are grown without soil in a small container that resembles a plain and mostly empty terrarium. A fan in the purifier pulls air from your interior into the device. The air then circulates through it, getting cleaned in the process. The purified air is then expelled from another side of the device.  

5. HEPA Filters

Your home’s HVAC system uses filters to keep the air quality as high as possible. Sometimes, though, the filters can be so dirty that dust and debris still move through your vents and pollutes your air.

While you can use regular filters to keep pollutants out of your air, high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters are mechanical filters made of a fine mesh. The air is pushed through the mesh while dust, mites, dander, pollen, and other particulates get trapped in the filter.

Just remember to change the filters every three months (or sooner if you have pets), to keep the system working properly.

The Most Effective Solution

While using these natural methods to purify your air can be effective, the best and most powerful solution is to invest in air quality appliances. These devices can quickly and more thoroughly remove toxins, allergens, and microbes in the air, providing you with much cleaner air to breathe.

For example, air cleaners, humidifiers, dehumidifiers, and UV germicide lamps all function to create cleaner, more breathable air indoors. If you need help deciding which device best works for your space and your budget, call Getzchman Heating and Air Conditioning.

We’ll work with you to discover your needs and find an appliance that works perfectly for your specific situation. We can also assist you with any other HVAC issues that may contribute to poor indoor air quality.

6 Simple Tips to Beat the Heat This Summer

When summertime rolls around, thoughts of swimming, picnics, and barbecues come to mind. But there’s one thing we just can’t seem to welcome with open arms: the ever-rising summer heat.

Let’s face it: it’s hot out and will only get hotter as the months roll on. But there’s no need to feel helpless against the sun’s relentless rays! Below are six tips and tricks that you can use to keep your home cool this summer.

kid-jumping-into-pool

Related Read: 4 Quick AC Tips to Save Money When You’re Away on Vacay

1. Shut Out the Heat

Did you know that 30% of heat in your home might be coming through your windows? This one may seem like a no-brainer, but a great way to help keep your home cool is to shut those blinds and curtains while the sun is out. Here’s some good news—you can save up to 7% on your electric bill just by utilizing blinds and curtains during the day! If you think you have a bigger issue, it may be time to get your windows checked out.

2. Get Grillin’

Most homeowners know that using your stove or oven will make your house hot. If you would rather have a hot meal over a cool salad for dinner, try taking it out to the grill to cook meals. This is a great way to keep your home cool, while taking advantage of the great outdoors and creating delicious meals this summer.

3. Change Up Your Sheets Routine

Everyone loves good silk or satin bed sheets, but not so much for those toasty summer nights. Swapping out those fancy slick sheets for a good old-fashioned cotton sheet set can definitely change the way you sleep this summer. Cotton is a naturally breathable material, so hitting the sack with cotton sheets is sure to help keep it breezy as you snooze.

4. Unplug & Unwind at Night

We all love our electronics, but when they’re not being used, they can emit heat that definitely makes a difference during those sweltering days. Unplugging electronics that aren’t currently in use will also save you a few bucks on your utility bill, and who doesn’t like to stash some cash for more summer fun?

5. Plant a Tree!

If you are a homeowner, you can make a long-term investment of strategically planting a few trees around your home to keep out the heat during the summer months. The shade created by the trees keeps rays away from windows while managing to cool your entire home a few degrees—kind of like natural insulation!

6. Check Your Filters

Air conditioning units come with a filter component that will eventually need to be changed routinely due to clogging by dirt and other debris. If left untouched, a dirty air filter can block the cool air the unit is attempting to put out. A dirty filter will also cause the AC unit to work harder, thus increasing that darn electric bill.  

Related Read: Keep Getting Sick? Improve Your Home’s Air Quality

 

Have a happy summer from our team at Getzschman Heating and Cooling! Contact us now, if you have any further questions about your AC or would like to schedule a visit from us for one of our many services.

 

Keep Getting Sick? Improve Your Home’s Air Quality

Do you suspect that the air in your home is making you sick? If you have health problems that improve when you leave your house and worsen when you return, you might be right. You need to take steps to better your air quality.

You have probably heard about air quality problems like asbestos, second-hand smoke, and radon. These issues are all dangerous, but they are not the only or the most common air pollutants. If you’re looking for everyday air quality issues, look for the following.

Bacteria and Viruses

Most types of germs don’t make you sick. However, other kinds of bacteria and viruses can give you the flu or a cold, or they can worsen problems like asthma. If you keep getting sick, you may have an issue with too many germs in your air.

If you have a large family in a small home, germs can spread easily when you’re all together. Additionally, many germs thrive in warm humidity.

To stop the spread of airborne germs in your home, make sure that your family is not continually passing on their germs. Everyone should sneeze into their elbows-this technique ensures that nobody launches viruses or bacteria into the air. Additionally, make sure your home is well ventilated and the humidity is not over
50 percent. Buy a dehumidifier if you do have high humidity levels

Building Materials

If your home is new or if you have recently remodeled, your home may have materials that emit fumes. For example, building materials made of pressed wood, like plywood, can emit volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. If VOCs are in your home’s air, your eyes, nose, and throat can get irritated. You can even feel nauseous and have trouble breathing. Some VOCs, such as formaldehyde, can cause cancer.

Plywood is not the only source of VOCs. You can also find these materials in products like paint, paint remover, cleaning chemicals, glue, and air freshener. When you purchase any of these materials, look for products that have low VOC levels. After your project, get rid of unused materials so they don’t stay in your home.

Ventilation can help your indoor air quality here, too. Let building materials like plywood air out before using them to get rid of most of the VOCs. After bringing these materials into your home or using paint, let your home air out by opening windows and turning on a fan.

Dust Mites

Dust mites are microscopic bugs that feed on dead human skin cells found in dust. They are not dangerousthey do not bite people-but they are everywhere. Most homes have at least some dust mites. However, if you or another person in your family has asthma or allergies, dust mites can trigger a reaction.

If you are only mildly allergic, you may get a runny nose and sneeze often. But some people react more severely. They can get a cough, sneeze constantly, become congested, or have a severe asthma attack. Those who are sensitive to dust mites should take steps to eliminate them.

Reducing your home’s humidity level to below 50 percent can help get rid of dust mites. The most effective treatment is to get rid of places they can live. If you remove upholstered furniture, curtains, and carpets, you should have better air quality. Additionally, wash your bedding once each week with hot water and use a damp cloth or rag for cleaning instead of a dry one.

Mold

As previously mentioned, extra humidity contributes to dust mites and germs spreading, but its most common effect is mold growth. Mold spores in your home’s air can cause nasal congestion, wheezing, coughing, sneezing, and sore throats. Additionally, like with dust mites, those with asthma or allergies may have particularly nasty reactions to mold.

You may see mold growing in places with extra water, like your bathroom. You might also smell a musty odor. If there’s a small amount of mold, you can probably get rid of it yourself.

To eliminate mold, you need to eliminate excess water, which can be caused by leaky pipes and windows and poorly ventilated bathrooms. Again, keep the humidity level in your home below 50 percent. Fix any leaks in your home or in your plumbing, run an exhaust fan in your bathroom, and increase air flow and ventilation. Clean the places where you see mold growing often.

If your reaction to the mold is severe or you fear that the mold is pervasive, talk to a mold remediation professional. You may need to get rid of what the mold grows in, like the carpet, and you’ll need help containing the mess.

 

Most of these problems can be fixed by lowering your home’s humidity and adding ventilation. Getzschman Heating can help you make the necessary improvements. Contact us, and we’ll assist you in bettering your home’s air quality.

Why Do You Need Seasonal HVAC Maintenance?

Whenever a new season rolls around, you prepare to make some changes. When winter shifts into spring, you put away your heavy jackets and thick socks. When summer transforms into fall, you dust off your boots and trade out your tank tops for longer sleeves.

You aren’t the only one who needs to evaluate the weather and make changes accordingly, though. You use different components of your HVAC unit throughout the year, but you can’t expect the unit to make the transition into a new season as smoothly as you do. In fact, your HVAC unit likely needs a little maintenance at the start of each season to get through the entire year unscathed.

Below, we’ll talk a little more about how seasonal maintenance benefits you and your HVAC unit, and then we’ll tell you what HVAC components you should take a look at depending on the season.

What Benefits Can You Get From Seasonal Tune-Ups?

It’s easy to forget about HVAC maintenance. You might get caught up in spring cleaning, summertime yard work, and winter snow shoveling to the neglect of indoor appliances. After all, usually, your air conditioner and heater both function at the flick of a switch or slide of a thermostat. You hardly have to worry about them at all.

However, when your HVAC unit does malfunction or break down, you notice the change in comfort immediately.
Unlike a weedy yard or an overstuffed garage, a broken HVAC unit quickly makes your life miserable.

Regular seasonal maintenance can help you stay comfortable in the following ways:

  • It can help you catch problems before they happen. If you only service your HVAC unit once a year (or once every few years), you likely won’t identify developing problems until they become full-fledged disasters.
  • It can make your home more energy efficient. If your unit is on top of its game, you won’t have to pay more than you have to for summer air conditioning and winter heating.
  • It extends your unit’s lifespan. Most units last for at least 10 to 15 years, but the more frequently you maintain your unit, the longer you can expect it to last.
  • It ensures your unit lasts for the entire season. If your air conditioner doesn’t work, wouldn’t you rather find out about the problem at the start of the spring rather than the middle of summer? The better (and earlier) you maintain your unit, the more comfortable you’ll be during the season.

In the long run, seasonal maintenance can ensure your unit lasts as long as possible and runs efficiently.
You’ll avoid expensive problems, save money on utility bills, and keep your home cozy year-round.

Which Maintenance Tasks Should You Perform Each Season?

In general, you should call a technician at the start of each season (or at least semi-annually, at the start of spring and fall) to handle any problems and ensure your unit runs correctly. Your technician can tighten wires and screws, test the unit’s efficiency, clean the unit, and catch problems you might not be able to identify.

Along with calling your technician, you can perform a few basic tasks to help your HVAC system help you.

Spring

Spring is the perfect time to check that your air conditioner works correctly. Most spring days are mild, but you encounter a few hot, sunny days where you’ll use the unit, which gives you time to test the unit before you assign it to full-time duty during the summer.

Take the following steps this spring:

  • Dust off your air conditioner. If you have an outdoor unit, remove the cover and clear away any debris.
  • Check for leaks.
  • Change your air conditioner’s filter.
  • Turn on the unit, adjust the thermostat, and make sure the unit blows a cool, steady stream of air.

If you identify any problems, contact your technician.

Summer

Hopefully, any problems with your unit got resolved in the spring, long before the truly hot weather hit. If so, you’ll only have to perform minimal tasks to ensure your unit stands up to summer’s heat:

  • Inspect the unit periodically to check for leaks or other problems.
  • Remove any debris (like grass clippings and leaves) that could gather around the unit.
  • Change the filter at least every three months, or change it every month if you have pets or family members with allergies.

Check up on your unit frequently to make sure it runs as efficiently as possible.

Fall

Just like tuning up your air conditioner in the spring, you should tune up your furnace in the fall with the following steps:

  • Dust off the furnace.
  • If you have a gas furnace, make sure the pilot light is lit and that you don’t have any problems with your gas lines.
  • Remove any items you might have placed around the heater. Find another place to store flammable items, and clear the area around the unit.

Since most furnaces run on gas, you should be particularly careful when performing any basic maintenance tasks on this unit.

Winter

Again, if you took care of any furnace-related problems in the fall, you probably won’t have too much to worry about this winter. Try the following tips to avoid problems:

  • Just like with your air conditioner, change your furnace filters at least every three months.
  • Make sure your air ducts are clear and clean so warm air can circulate in your house.

A technician can help you if any issues come up during the winter.

Get In Touch With Your HVAC Professional

When you have the right information, seasonal maintenance can be a breeze. Look over our checklist above and implement the simple, season-based tasks. Most importantly, contact your HVAC company to schedule seasonal maintenance and help your HVAC unit keep your home comfortable all year long.

7 Houseplants That Can Help You Breathe Easier

Did you know that indoor air is typically more polluted than outdoor air? Everyday items such as furniture, upholstery, cleaning products and even synthetic building materials can emit toxic chemicals such as benzene and formaldehyde into your home. Yuck!

Luckily, the Getzschman Heating and Cooling team has an affordable and aesthetically pleasing way to combat these dangerous chemicals in your home: houseplants. Many indoor houseplants have been known to reduce certain chemicals and VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and are a great alternative for purifying the air inside your home.

Check out these seven houseplants that can help you breathe easier today.

1. Aloe Vera

indoor-air-quality-houseplants-aloe-vera

This stylish succulent has been around for thousands of years and is known for the gel it produces that helps heal cuts and burns. Aside from healing skin, Aloe Vera helps clear air of formaldehyde and benzene, which can be emitted by certain paints and chemical-based cleaners in your home.

This plant is easy to grow and even easier to maintain. However, be careful: this plant is easier to overwater than underwater.

 

Related Read: Tips for Caring for Your Aloe Vera Plant

 

2. Snake Plant

snake-plant-indoor-air-quality

This plant is also known as mother-in-law’s tongue, and is also one of the hardest houseplants to kill. They are great for removing chemicals such as benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and xylene. These plants are typically used in bathrooms because they thrive in low light and humid conditions.

Helpful Tip: Snake plants follow the opposite process of most plants, absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen at night, rather than during the day. Put one in your bedroom to give yourself a slight oxygen boost and improve your quality of sleep.

 

 

3. Gerbera Daisy

gerbera-daisy-air-quality

This beautifully colorful flower helps filter out benzene that is found in fabric inks as well as trichloroethylene which may be brought into the house with dry cleaning. These plants love lots of sunlight and well-drained soil.

Try one in your laundry room or near a sunny window in the kitchen. You can find these at most nurseries, and they come in a variety of different colors.

Related Read: Gerbera Daisy Plant Care

 

4. Peace Lily

peace-lily-indoor-air-quality

The peace lily was at the top of NASA’s list for removing formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene – the three most common VOCs. This plant is very forgiving and likes shade and weekly watering in order to bloom.

Helpful Tip: The peace lily will even tell you when it’s time to water! You’ll know it’s time when the plant begins to droop slightly.

 

5. Azalea

azalea-flower-air-quality

This vibrant flowering shrub can help reduce formaldehyde throughout your home.

Azaleas are perfect for basements because they like cool temperatures, but make sure to give them some sunlight to feed on.

These gorgeous flowers come in a variety of different colors and sizes to fit your decor. However, keep these away from small children and animals because the nectar and leaves are known to be highly poisonous.

 

6. Spider Plant

spider-plant-getzschman-air-quality

This resilient plant is great for forgetful owners who have trouble maintaining plants. The spider plant thrives in cool-to-average temperatures and with bright, indirect sunlight.

This plant battles chemicals such as benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide and xylene. Unlike the azalea plant, this plant is considered safe for homeowners with pets and small children.

Fun Fact: Spider plants will grow flowers that eventually turn into baby spider plants, also known as spiderettes.

 

7. Chrysanthemum

chrysanthemum-mum-air-quality-getzschmanThese bright flowers are not only great for brightening your home, they also fight benzene, which is commonly found in plastics, detergent and paints throughout your home. In order for these flowers to bloom they need lots of bright light.

Chrysanthemums are also known for the wide variety of colors they come in, so pick a color that will give your home that extra pop of color you’re looking for.

Helpful Tip: When choosing chrysanthemums for indoor purposes, make sure to choose the floral variety instead of the garden variety.

 

Worried about the air quality in your home? Getzschman can help!  Find out more ways to improve your indoor air quality and visit our website to see how we can help.

Dehumidifiers 101: What This Appliance Does and Why You Need One

You love how comfortable you feel in your home. But recently, you’ve noticed moisture creeping along your walls, floors, and other surfaces. You’ve tried to dry off the surfaces, circulate more air throughout your home, and even keep fans running after you shower.

Despite your best efforts to keep the areas dry, moisture still clings to your walls and flat surfaces. Even if you try to clean up the damp areas in your home regularly, your home’s humidity levels could contribute to the constant dampness.

To completely rid your home of damaging excess moisture, consider installing a dehumidifier. Below, we discuss what this appliance is, how it works, and why you should consider investing in one.  

How Dehumidifiers Work

Since you live in the Midwest, you’re all too familiar with humidity. The outside air is typically humid year-round, though the humidity levels vary depending on the time of year. The humidity can also permeate your home, so your inside air can be just as humid (and sometimes more so) as the outside air.

For example, if you cook on your stove without the proper ventilation, the steam produced from cooking will add extra humidity to your home’s inside air. You can typically notice increased moisture and humidity by the condensation that builds up on windows and walls. If your home is too humid inside, then you’ll notice high amounts of condensation on your flat surfaces.

To reduce the amount of humidity in your home, you’ll want to install a dehumidifier. This appliance resembles a vacuum and an air conditioner combined. Dehumidifiers suck moisture out of your inside air to balance the humidity levels. However, the process is a little more complex, as outlined below.

A dehumidifier will pull air into it from one end of a room. Then, it removes the moisture from the air and puts that condensation or water into a collection tank. You’ll have to empty that tank every so often so that the appliance can continue to work properly. Finally, the dehumidifier disperses the humid-free air back into the room at the opposite end.

A few kinds of dehumidifiers exist, but the two most common types are refrigerant and desiccant.
Refrigerant dehumidifiers condense the moisture and allows it to drip into the tank. Desiccant dehumidifiers use a material that absorbs and extracts water from your inside air. The material then heats up to transfer the moisture to the collection tank.

Reasons to Get a Dehumidifier

Before you shop for a dehumidifier, you’ll want to make sure you actually need the device in your home. Take a look around your home and see if you notice the following signs:

  • Water runoff
  • Water stains on your ceiling or walls
  • Rotting wood
  • Regular condensation on your windows, walls, and other flat surfaces
  • Mold spores (black spots or specks) on the walls and floors in your bathroom, near sinks, or by other water sources
  • Mildew or must odors

Additionally, poor ventilation in rooms accompanied by continuous moisture on surfaces creates the perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew growth. If mold begins to grow in your home, you’ll notice black spots in areas found in the list above.

As mold continues to grow in your home, and as you and your loved ones are exposed to the spores, you increase your risk for becoming ill, experiencing minor allergies, or developing respiratory health issues.

Benefits of Having a Dehumidifier in Your Home

Like most appliances, you can expect a dehumidifier to provide you with a few benefits, such as those listed below.

Energy Efficient

When your home contains less moisture, your home’s HVAC system won’t have to work as hard. Increased levels of humidity tend to keep a space warmer than necessary, so your air conditioner will work overtime to keep your home cool. By reducing the humidity of your inside air, your A/C unit won’t run as often. As a result, you’ll see a drop in your home’s energy usage and your utility bills.

Versatile

Dehumidifiers can remove moisture from your home in a couple of ways. First, it can work on your house as a whole to suck out condensation and deposit the water in the collection tank. Second, it can work on a
specific room individually. So if you have a room that collects more condensation than other areas in your home, your dehumidifier can target that room to reduce the humidity level.

Additional Benefits

Dehumidifiers are also easy to conceal and maintain, and they provide several health benefits. For example, they reduce the chance for mold growth, which in turn reduces the health risks associated with mold exposure.

 

Now that you understand how dehumidifiers work, why you need to purchase one, and what benefits this appliance provides, you can better choose which appliance works best for your home and needs. Keep this information in mind as you browse different options and make a purchasing decision.

For more information about dehumidifiers, or to buy one and have it installed, contact your local HVAC professional. These experts can recommend the appropriate appliance for your home’s needs and budget, and they can also install the device properly to ensure it works to its full capacity.

HOW A ADD-ON HEAT PUMP WORKS

You might think of the add-on heat pump as an air conditioner that can operate in either direction. It consists of an inside and outside unit, each containing a coil.  The outside unit has a compressor.  Both coils are connected by tubing, and inside the tubing is liquid refrigerant, which has the ability to absorb and release heat. In the summer, warm air inside your home is absorbed by the refrigerant in the inside unit, which cools the air in the inside coil and then blows that cooled air into your home. The heat that is absorbed by the refrigerant is carried to the outside unit, where it is condensed and the resulting heat is blown out as hot air.  This is just the same as a high-efficiency central air conditioner.

In the winter, available heat is extracted from outdoor air and absorbed by refrigerant in the coil in the outside unit.  The refrigerant is compressed into vapor, which raises the temperature to provide heat. The heated refrigerant is then pumped inside, where the vapor condenses, releasing heat, which is distributed throughout your home by your furnace fan.  The refrigerant is then pumped back through the outside unit to restart the process. Because a heat pump moved heat instead of creating heat, it achieves energy-efficiency rating of 250 percent to 370 percent, depending on the outdoor temperature.  By comparison, gas furnaces-which create heat-range in the efficiency from 60 percent to 92 percent.