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choosing HVAC replacement brand

Tactics for Choosing the Right HVAC Replacement Brand

Within the world of major HVAC components, there are a number of well-known brands out there. From Honeywell and Lennox to Rheem and Carrier plus several others, you have a multitude of brand options when it comes to your next furnace, air conditioner, water heater or other HVAC materials.

At Roberts Mechanical, we’re here to help with all air conditioning and furnace repair services, plus numerous other HVAC contractor areas. We also offer high-quality replacement services for each of your major components, generally providing you with several brand options when you’re in need of an upgrade. Let’s go over several factors that will help you differentiate between brands and make the right choice for your home.

Utilize HVAC Pro Expertise

For starters, even if you’re a handy and experienced homeowner, we highly advise against buying major HVAC equipment on your own and without the assistance of licensed HVAC pros. There are a couple reasons for this, but the most important directly affects your bottom line: Many reputable HVAC companies won’t install new equipment unless it’s purchased through them.

In addition, HVAC professionals simply have an eye for factors that you won’t. They’ll prevent you from safety hazard risks that take place due to improperly-sized materials, plus the utility bill increases that often come from this same area. Most HVAC quotes will include several brand options at different pricing ranges.

Established Brands

Within the HVAC world, there’s no single brand that’s considered superior to the others. Rather, there are several established brands to choose from – and in this case, experience and reputation are important, as these areas often dictate the quality of warranties and materials. Specifically, HVAC components are meant to last decades; if you choose a lesser brand from a manufacturer that might not even be around in 10 years, what are you going to do if it comes time to claim a warranty?

Brands and Reputation

Within the major brands, however, there are often differentiating factors that will lead you to your final choice. Our pros will tell you which areas certain brands are known for strengths or weaknesses in, and you can match these with your needs and desires in the home.

Warranties and Other Perks

Finally, a major differentiator for many homeowners when choosing between brands is the various perks they offer. One major area here is the warranty, which you should go over in detail and ensure you understand fully for each brand. Other perks may include financing offers, money-back incentives or similar tactics aimed at improving your purchasing experience while increasing the value you receive.

For more on choosing the proper brand for AC or furnace replacement, or to learn about any of our HVAC services, speak to the staff at Roberts Mechanical today.

signs HVAC wear commercial buildings

Telltale Signs of HVAC Wear Issues in Commercial Buildings

If you’re the owner or manager of a commercial building, particularly one where employees work each day, maintaining comfortable air quality and temperature is an important task. Not only are uncomfortable employees less productive, lacking HVAC services may lead to health and liability risks in some cases.

At Roberts Mechanical, we’ve been providing HVAC services like air conditioning repair and many others for over 30 years. One of the top factors in maintaining commercial HVAC systems is understanding when certain components might be nearing the end of their lifespan and require replacement – here are some telltale signs this is the case within your building.

Increased Complaints

Whether you manage the facilities or employ a facilities management team, you may begin to notice more complaints rolling in from your employees. These will generally be regarding the indoor temperature and its swings, but it could also be due to air quality or questions about the allergen content in the air.

Rising Energy Bills

Have you begun to notice that your energy bills are rising each month compared to the previous year despite no major changes in components or temperature needs? This is often a red flag that components within the HVAC system are wearing down, forcing the system to work harder just to provide the same level of comfort as before.

Employee Sickness

If you’ve noticed a higher-than-usual number of employees getting sick recently, you should first check for other causes. Maybe a contagious employee came into work for several days straight and infected several others, for instance.

But if you can’t locate any other cause, and if the issue persists long enough to clearly not just be randomness, the HVAC system could be to blame. Certain worn-down equipment will negatively impact air quality, such as filters that aren’t changed often enough and may lead to respiratory concerns for some people.

Temperature or Moisture Concerns

Are many of the complaints making their way to you regarding different temperatures in varying areas of the building, often with wild levels of variance? What about moisture being found in areas it shouldn’t? These are generally ventilation issues, which can also have a significant impact on air quality and health. If you are receiving these complaints, check all your ducts, vents, registers and other areas related to ventilation.

Odors or Noises

Finally, you or employees may begin to notice foul odors, particularly when near HVAC vents or other airflow areas. These odors may be similar to spoiled eggs, or could be slightly different.

In other situations, you may actually hear strange noises coming from the HVAC system. In either of these cases, these are clear signs that something is wrong and you should consider an HVAC inspection.

For more on the signs of worn-down HVAC components in commercial buildings, or to learn about any of our heating and air services, speak to the staff at Roberts Mechanical today.

hvac tips property landlords

HVAC Tips and Advice for Property Landlords

At Roberts Mechanical, we’re proud to provide heating and air conditioning services for homes and individuals in various situations. One such situation is for landlords who are renting their properties out to tenants – while it’s the tenants who live in the home and are responsible for certain important day-to-day HVAC maintenance areas, it’s you as a landlord who is ultimately responsible for costs and long-term upkeep here.

Regardless of whether you’re landlord over a single Utah property or several, we can help you keep your HVAC systems and air quality in great shape. Let’s go over a few basic tips we can offer landlords on staying diligent with the HVAC system without interrupting privacy rights of tenants.

Changing Filters

Whether it’s listed as part of your rental agreement or just understood between you and your tenants, you have to ensure HVAC filters are changed at the proper intervals so they don’t accumulate dust and stop functioning well. Most filters need to be changed every one to two months depending on the filter and the dust levels in your home.

As a landlord, it is generally your responsibility to provide these filters. You should ensure that the tenants have at least one or two extra on hand at all times so they can change them as needed.

Standard Maintenance

Particularly for homes where you aren’t around every day to maintain the system, you should have bi-annual inspections and tune-ups done by our professionals. We’ll go through the entire system and check for any buildups or worn down components, making sure everything is both safe and functional. As an added bonus, we can often spot the signs of lazy or improper HVAC management by your tenants, allowing you to regulate that area if harm is being done to your system.

Replacement and Inspection

While you don’t need to have every date memorized, you should be keeping track of when major components in your HVAC system, such as the air conditioner or furnace, are nearing the end of their lifespan. This generally happens around the 15-year mark in most cases, though this can vary depending on how well the system is maintained (our yearly inspections can provide good information on how close various components are to wearing down).

Once the time for replacements does eventually come, be as involved as you can in the selection and inspection process. Our pros are happy to help inspect and install all components for you.

Vacant Properties

During periods where any of your properties sits vacant, you can make a few HVAC adjustments to both maintain the property and save money. You can set the thermostat lower in winter – you have to leave it on around 50 to 55 degrees to prevent frozen pipes, but that’s it – and turn it off completely in winter. If the property sits unused for several months consecutively, however, it’s good to return periodically and ensure there aren’t any humidity or mold issues beginning to form.

For more HVAC tips for landlords, or to learn about any of our other heating and cooling services, speak to the pros at Roberts Mechanical today.

understanding preventing furnace short cycling

Understanding and Preventing Furnace Short Cycling

Particularly during a long winter season like the one Utah is currently undergoing, the furnace is one of the most important pieces of HVAC equipment in the home. In charge of distributing warm air throughout every room, the furnace requires some basic areas of upkeep to ensure it’s working properly.

At Roberts Mechanical, we can provide a full range of furnace repair services for Orem and surrounding areas. One of the most common issues we’re called out to assist with is known as short cycling – what is this, and what are some of the primary factors that cause it? Let’s look at the basics here, plus how you can prevent these risks.

 

Defining Short Cycling

Simply, short cycling is a condition that describes when the furnace turns on and off repeatedly much more often than a standard furnace would. In many cases, it means the furnace spends the entire day starting and stopping in short bursts, which puts a huge amount of stress on several of its mechanical components and wears them down faster.

In addition, short cycling can lead to big issues with your in-home heating. It can cause uneven amounts of heat in various parts of the home, plus often raises utility bills by significant amounts. For this reason, it’s good to know the common causes of short cycling and how to prevent them, which we’ll discuss in our next section.

Causes and Prevention Areas for Short Cycling

Here are some of the primary factors that lead to short cycling, plus how to avoid any such risks:

  • Size of furnace: One common mistake homeowners make is buying a new furnace that’s too large for their space, assuming it will just do the job even better. This isn’t the case – an oversized furnace will actually heat your space too quickly, leading to long periods where it turns off earlier than required. To prevent this, always have HVAC professionals like ours assist you with furnace installation.
  • Insulation problems: Not only does your furnace need to be able to pump warm air into the home, the structure needs to be able to retain it. If you’re dealing with poor insulation, or perhaps issues of leaks by your windows and doors, new heat could be leaving the home quickly and forcing the furnace to start up again too quickly. Check these areas regularly to ensure this doesn’t happen.
  • Clogged filter: Clogged furnace filters can stop air from passing over the heat exchanger, which overheats the furnace and shuts it down. Furnace filters should be changed at least once every couple months, or more often in some cases.
  • Thermostat concerns: Malfunctioning thermostats may cause the furnace to short cycle for a few different reasons, sometimes due to poor battery life. In other cases, thermostats located too close to a heat source may register too much heat from this source and turn off the furnace even when the entire home isn’t properly heated. If you’re changing out your thermostat, work with our pros to ensure it’s located properly.

For more on preventing furnace short cycling, or to learn about any of our HVAC or furnace repair services, speak to the experts at Roberts Mechanical today.

window labels hvac efficiency

What Window Labels Say About HVAC Efficiency

When it comes to staying warm in the winter and cool in the summer, we tend to think predominantly about our HVAC system – the furnace and AC, vents, ductwork and all other related components. This is natural, as these elements are the primary pieces of equipment that dictate your home’s heating and cooling.

At Roberts Mechanical, however, we’re here to tell you about another home component that’s vital for winter heating and summer cooling: Your windows. Windows are among the primary holders of air in your home, stopping it from escaping to the outdoors and forcing your furnace or AC to work harder to pump more back in – costing you money in the process.

With this in mind, let’s look at some of the important window labels you need to know about. Whether you’re shopping for new windows or just looking to assess your current ones, here are the important facts to know about what these say about window efficiency.
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Manufacturer Label

There will be multiple panels on a given window label, each telling you different things. One such panel will be from the manufacturer of the window, and it will state the manufacturer name plus a model number for that design. Just below this will be specific product features, potentially including:

  • Frame materials: Generally wood, aluminum, vinyl, steel, or fiberglass composite
  • Number of panes: Single-pane, double-pan, triple-pane
  • For multi-pane windows, the type of gas that fills the gap (generally krypton or argon) will also be listed
  • Glazing style
  • Low-E: A specific glass treatment that limits the impact UV rays can have on your carpets or furniture – without this, these materials may fade over time due to UV rays

NFRC Label

Once you’ve moved past the basic window information, you’ll also notice four or five numbers in bold on the label. This is the NFRC label, with data calculated by the National Fenestration Rating Council – this group tests windows, doors and other openings and certifies them based on their quality. Important elements of the NFRC evaluation include:

  • U-Factor: How well windows keep heat in the home – lower numbers mean better energy efficiency, while higher numbers are worse.
  • Visible transmittance: How much light a window lets in – higher numbers mean more light.
  • Solar heat gain coefficient: How effectively windows block heat from outside that isn’t desired inside. The lower the number, the more efficient.
  • Air leakage: How much air of any kind the window lets in. Again, lower numbers are better here.
  • Condensation rating: Only found on some NFRC label, this rating tells how well a window resists condensation, with a higher number equaling better resistance.

Energy Star Logo

You may also see the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star logo on your window, which means it’s highly efficient for your area. There’s no single set of criteria here – certain windows are designed for specific climates, so they’re divided into smaller regions and then assessed based on NFRC measurements for U-Factor and solar gain coefficient.

For more on what your window labels tell you about their air efficiency, or to learn about any of our HVAC services, speak to the pros at Roberts Mechanical today.

basics preparation door blower test

Basics and Preparation for Door Blower Air Test

If you’ve noticed your home’s heating bill going up compared to where it was at this time a year ago, you could be dealing with air leaks somewhere in the house. These are often very difficult to spot with the naked eye, but they could be leading to significant energy losses that raise your bill in a major way.

At Roberts Mechanical, our HVAC and heating services include helping homeowners identify these kinds of air leaks when they can’t do so on their own. We use a few different instruments and tests here, depending on your situation. One common test that’s often used across the HVAC world is called the door blower test – what is this, and how should you go about preparing for it if you’re having one done?

Door Blower Test Basics

Door blower tests are part of many home energy audits, with the goal of locating drafts and air leaks and determining how airtight the home is. They use a temporary barrier that our technicians will bring to your home and place on one of your exterior – this barrier has a fan that runs at about 10 or 15 mph, removing air from the home and reducing the indoor air pressure. In addition, the barrier has various instruments to provide data on airflow within the structure.

When the test begins, your technician will turn on the barrier fan. When the home is fully depressurized, the basic effects of physics will kick in: Higher pressure outside than inside will cause air to flow in through any small cracks or openings in your home. Your technician will walk through each area of the home with a tool known as a smoke pencil, which emits odorless smoke and allows them to track the areas where airflow is taking place. Increased airflow from the leak will disrupt the smooth smoke, and your technician will be able to identify the leak and address it.

Preparation Tips

If you’re considering a door blower test for your home or building, there are a few basic preparation steps to take before it’s performed:

  • Batten things down: 10 to 15 mph airflow won’t be enough to ruin any of the elements of your home, but it could ruffle up some things and increase your clutter. Before the test takes place, just take the time to close all windows and other openings so things like paper, fireplace ashes or dust don’t go flying everywhere.
  • Open vs closed: All doors, windows, dampers and openings have to be closed to the exterior for this test. However, any interior doors – plus chests, cabinets and other passageways where air can make it through – should be opened so air can flow as freely as possible within the home.
  • Appliances: Any appliances with a pilot light, including the oven, should be disabled so no sparks or flames are at risk. Our technicians can tell you about which items you’ll need to power down for this test.

For more on the door blower test, or to learn about any of our HVAC services, speak to the pros at Roberts Mechanical today.

dusty home hvac system

Dusty Home and Your HVAC System

If you’ve lived in Utah for a while, chances are you’ve noticed some dust in your daily life from time to time. As one of the drier states in the country, mostly made up of desert land, Utah has high quantities of dust buildup and related issues.

At Roberts Mechanical, we’re here to help if these dust issues make their way into your home. Dust can make its way into the heating and cooling systems of your home and, if unchecked, can lead to a loss of efficiency from your HVAC system and potentially even health concerns for occupants of the home. Here are three common factors that contribute to the presence of dust in your home, plus how you can troubleshoot each of these to avoid these issues.

Air Filter

The first place to check if you’re noticing too much dust in your home is the filter in your furnace. You should regularly be checking on these anyway – most filters should be inspected and replaced around once a month, or sometimes even more often if you have a high-dust home or pets that shed.

The goal of the filter is to act as a trap for dust and numerous other potential contaminants. The higher the filter MERV rating, the finer the particles it will pick up. But over time, even the highest-rated filters become clogged and lose their inability to perform their function efficiently. Often the simplest solution to a dusty home is changing a filter that badly needs it.

Humidity

One of the primary reasons dust is so prominent in Utah is due to the dry climate, which allows dust to flow freely and travel very quickly through your HVAC systems. While people who live in wetter climates may still have dust issues in some cases, their dust tends to settle faster and be trapped in filters more easily due to the moisture in the air.

Luckily, there are simple tools out there to help you increase this moisture content even in a dry state like Utah. Consider purchasing a humidifier for dusty rooms in your home, or even a whole-home humidifier if the issue persists across the whole house. Whole-home humidifiers are also excellent for protecting wood furniture that can wear down over time.

Leaking Ductwork

If your home is adequately humidified and your filter has recently been changed, the next-most likely source of dust is a leak in your ductwork. There are various reasons for small cracks or gaps developing in ducts, from basic aging to possible poor installation. Once these develop, they allow dust to make its way into your breathing air before contacting the filter at all.

To check for these leaks, look for a buildup of dust near your vents or in their fins. If you still aren’t sure, try turning the lights out and using a flashlight to identify the flow of dust particles in the air – following this flow can guide you to where the leak is. If you find a small leak, duct tape usually does the trick for patching it. If it’s larger, you might want to call our technicians.

To learn more about dust and your HVAC system, or for any of our furnace repair or other HVAC services, contact the pros at Roberts Mechanical today.

floor temperature

Removing Floor Temperature Imbalances

Many homeowners have experienced a common situation at one time or another: You come inside after exercising and enjoy cool, conditioned air on your ground floor only to walk upstairs to take a shower and find that you’re sweating all over again in temperatures 10 or even 20 degrees higher than the lower floor.

At Roberts Mechanical, we can help if this happens to you. Our heating and air conditioning repair services include helping you identify the source of issues like these. Most people know that hot air naturally rises, but in many cases there are several additional factors contributing to the major imbalance in temperature between floors in your home. Let’s look at some of these other factors, plus how to mitigate them and get a home with a more consistent temperature.

floor temperature

Ducts

Think about the pathway air takes when it leaves your AC unit to travel to your second floor. It has to pass through more ductwork than it would to reach the ground floor, given that AC units are generally at ground level. Now imagine how much more of that air is going to be lost if there are any issues with your ductwork.
Leaks and holes in ducts are one of the most common causes of temperature imbalances between floors. This is sometimes an installation problem – ducts that lead to upstairs areas may not have their joints bolted properly, or may not have the right compound used for sealing. Finally, they may not be properly insulated to hold air in effectively.
In certain areas where ductwork is visible, you can manually examine it to check for any leaks. If you’re concerned leaks might be present in areas you can’t see, however, call our pros about an inspection.

AC Unit

Sometimes the cause of a temperature imbalance is a bit simpler: The AC unit is wearing down and just doesn’t have the power to supply the entire house. Naturally, the upper areas of the home will suffer first – they’re the furthest away. Make sure you have your air conditioning unit inspected yearly or even more often, both to ensure that it’s in working order and to make sure it’s the proper size for your space.

Attic

Attics are often separate from the rest of the house in terms of temperature – they’re allowed to build up much more heat when it’s warm because that makes more sense than running cooling ducts into them. But this requires that attics are well-insulated, because if not, that hot air buildup can sneak out from the attic and into the upper floors. Make sure your insulation is properly rated and in good working order.

Tree Line

A sneaky contributor to temperature imbalances in certain homes with newer trees is the way these trees provide shade for the lower floors, but not upper floors. While direct sunlight shoots into upper windows all day long, lower floors are protected by more shade that causes them to stay cooler. Installing sun-blocking drapes for upstairs windows is one tactic to avoid this.

For more on removing a temperature imbalance in your home, or to learn about any of our HVAC services, speak to the staff at Roberts Mechanical today.

prep your hvac system for fall

5 Ways to Prep Your HVAC System for Fall

Autumn is here, and it’s time for HVAC systems to be checked, cleaned and prepared for winter.

Don’t put this task off. Even if it’s still warm outside, homeowners should prioritize HVAC checkups. If you procrastinate until the temperature has reached freezing, you may realize you need new parts or even a new furnace. Avoid the headache and utilize these five ways to prepare your system for the new season:

1. Check and Clean Condenser Unit and Coils

Before cold weather hits, clean your outside condenser unit.

First, turn off the unit’s power and spray the condenser with a hose. Next, open the lid, pull back the fan and remove debris like leaves and dead bugs. Continue to clear debris and dirt with the hose if necessary.

Condenser coils can be a little trickier to locate and clean, so contact a professional for help if you’re unsure. You can also read your manufacturer’s manual for guidance.

Shut off the unit’s power before examining coils, then check to see if they’re dirty. If so, clean with a rag, warm water and detergent. Coils shouldn’t be overlooked because replacements can be expensive.

2. Clear Away Debris

Your HVAC’s outdoor components endure every type elemental impact: glaring summer sunshine, rain, and organic particles like globs of leaves, dead bugs, pollen, sticks and more. This grime can obstruct HVAC airflow, so it’s important to clear away debris each season.

Next, check at least two feet around the unit. Cut back shrubbery or tall grass that may have become overgrown during summer.

3. Replace Air Filters & Clean Vents

Air filters get filled with debris during the summer. Replacing them in September ensures against obstructed airflow and furnace issues. For added security, replace filters every other month. Replacing filters is easy — just open the filter panel, remove the filter, replace and close the panel.

Maintain clean airflow by cleaning vents in your home. Since they easily accumulate dust, vacuum the vents seasonally to remove unwanted particles.

4. Keep an Eye Out for HVAC Hazards

Ask yourself a few basic autumn prep questions to ensure there are no potential hazards. Are there:

  • unexpected, unusual sounds coming from the unit?
  • strange odors coming from the system?
  • indications of electrical damage such as black marks?
  • issues with unit’s stability? Is it level?

5. Prepare the Furnace

To avoid fire hazards, clear the area surrounding your furnace. Furniture, clothes or any items stored too close should be moved at least three feet away. Next, wipe down the furnace, which can accumulate dust, then wipe and vacuum the surrounding area. Clean the furnace access panel, too.

HVAC maintenance is key to system longevity. The team at Roberts Mechanical installs and repairs HVAC systems, so if you run into issues during your autumn prep, don’t hesitate to call us for help!

5 Extra Benefits of Air Conditioning

5 Extra Benefits of Air Conditioning

Air conditioning makes life so much more comfortable, but it isn’t just a luxury. For many people, especially those dealing with Utah’s hot summer sun, air conditioning is a necessity. A quality, up-to-date air conditioning unit can improve your life in a variety of ways and help keep you healthier.

So the next time temperatures peak and you think about turning off the A/C to save money, consider the following ways air conditioning actually makes your life better.

1. It Improves Air Quality

Air quality has a big impact on our health. Factors that impact indoor air quality include:

  • Poor ventilation
  • Temperature
  • Humidity
  • Mold
  • Pollen

Thankfully, air conditioning helps combat air-quality concerns. A good A/C unit provides healthy ventilation, cleans the air by removing allergens like pollen and pollutants and it helps reduce humidity.

2. A/C Helps Maintain Your Health

Dangerously hot or humid weather should be taken seriously. An Environmental Protection Agency study of heat-related deaths shows that more than 9,000 Americans died from the heat in the past three decades. More than 600 people in the United States are killed by extreme heat every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Heat-related deaths and illnesses are preventable. The best way to avoid threats to your health is to keep cool in a house or office with a quality air conditioning unit.

3. It Reduces Insect Infiltration

Who wants to deal with irritating insects like flies and gnats indoors? An air conditioner can help keep your space clean and bug-free. If your A/C’s ventilation system is clean and up-to-date, it will help catch bugs and keep them from entering your workplace or home.
If you don’t have or use A/C, your only other option for ventilation is opening windows. If your window screens are ripped — or if you don’t even have screens — this is bad news. Bugs have direct access to your building, bringing with them germs and a headache for you as you swat them away.

4. Air Conditioning Improves Focus

Productivity can be a challenge under normal circumstances, and hot air only makes an inability to focus even worse. Hot temperatures make people sweaty and miserable, and can slow down cognitive and physical abilities by making them feel tired and sluggish.

The right A/C system guarantees instant improvement by maintaining a comfortable atmosphere.

5. It Helps Keep Furniture & Electronics Safe

Over time, heat and humidity can damage furniture and electronics. The best way to prevent this is to utilize your ventilation system and run the A/C during the summer, which helps push out humidity and maintain a healthy temperature for your valuables.

If you need air conditioning installation or an upgrade, give the team at Roberts Mechanical a call today!