Tag Archives: Heating

hvac home improvements efficiency

HVAC Home Improvements for Increased Efficiency

There are several potential reasons out there for homeowners to consider improvements to their space. Some want to install certain features that are not present, others want a different aesthetic to a certain area, and still others are looking to raise their property value in intelligent ways ahead of a potential sale.

At Roberts Mechanical, we’re here to tell you about another related area where many homeowners look to make upgrades: The HVAC system and resulting energy efficiency. As one of the chief costs on your monthly utility bill, your air conditioner, furnace and other HVAC components play a huge role in your efficiency and the money you spend each month. Whether we’re assisting you with AC repair, furnace installation or any other related service, here are some general home improvement tips in the HVAC world that may increase your efficiency.

Energy Efficient Equipment and Appliances

If any part of your HVAC system is reaching near the end of its lifespan, it could be time for a replacement upgrade. Most such systems will have been manufactured and installed at least a decade ago, if not closer to 15 or 20 years – and you might be shocked at just how much HVAC technology has improved since then. Your options for affordable replacements could make your system far more efficient in one fell swoop.

In addition, consider the energy efficiency of other major appliances in your home. We’re talking about your dishwasher, fridge/freezer, washing machine, laundry machine, microwave and others down these lines. Ensure all such products are ENERGY STAR certified, meaning they use significantly less energy than other alternatives.

Programmable Thermostat

Down similar lines when talking about equipment, any homeowner who does not have a programmable thermostat installed should strongly consider one. These allow you to schedule cooling and heating needs based on schedules, a benefit that saves many homeowners untold sums due to the fact that they don’t have to adjust manually. Programmable thermostats also lower the stress on various HVAC components and even your ducts, meaning you’ll spend less on repairs and replacements over time.

Door and Window Sealing

You want your home to properly hold the cool or warm air your HVAC system is pumping in, depending on the season, and ensuring air can’t easily escape is a big part of this. If you have older windows or doors, consider replacing them for better sealing quality. Even if not, consider caulking or weather stripping to remove even minor gaps that air can move through.

Insulation

Speaking of sealing in air, insulation in the attic or roof can be enormously beneficial. Just a single layer of insulation will earn you back your investment in energy savings within just a couple years.

For more on how to improve energy efficiency in your home with some smart HVAC tricks, or to learn about any of our heating and air services, speak to the staff at Roberts Mechanical today.

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.

types details hvac warranties

Types and Details Associated With HVAC Warranties

For many of the high-value items we purchase and use in our daily lives, warranties will be part of the purchase agreement. This is the case for numerous product areas, and is an important factor when purchasing certain pieces of HVAC equipment.

At Roberts Mechanical, we’re happy to help you understand any and all warranties offered for our heating or air conditioning installation services. There are actually a few different types to help protect you from potential issues with items like your furnace, air conditioner, water heater and others – let’s look at each of these warranty types, plus some important details you should be sure to confirm anytime you’re purchasing these components.

Types of HVAC Warranties

Here are at least four kinds of warranties you may be offered from a few different sources when purchasing HVAC equipment. They are as follows:

  • Manufacturer guarantee: In reality this is less of a specific warranty, though it can function that way practically. This is simply a promise made by the manufacturer of a given piece of equipment that it was made properly and should function well – many such guarantees are simply implied rather than actually written. If defective materials are installed, however, you should be able to get replacements free of charge.
  • Manufacturer warranty: Separate from a manufacturer guarantee is a manufacturer warranty, which covers specific parts or products over a given period of time. If an AC condenser that’s covered by this warranty fails within the allowed time period, for instance, it will be replaced for no charge.
  • Labor warranty: Some HVAC companies offer labor warranties. These ensure that in a situation where the installation of a given product was performed incorrectly, causing defective issues, proper installation can be done instead without a charge to you.
  • Extended warranty: Possibly available from both a manufacturer or installer, extended warranties are generally those that come with extra costs and cover additional areas above and beyond other warranties.

Confirming Important Warranty Details

No two warranties are exactly the same, and they will vary pretty widely between both manufacturers and HVAC installers. When purchasing any HVAC materials, be sure to consider all of the following areas to be sure you’re getting the warranty you need:

  • Transfer: If you sell your home during the warranty period for a given HVAC component, will the warranty transfer to the new owner? This could play a big role in property value.
  • “Lifetime” warranties: When you see this term, you have to clarify how long “lifetime” is actually referring to here. Is it your lifetime? The part’s lifetime? The home’s lifetime? Ask for specifics and ensure they are followed.
  • Invalidation: Find out if there are any practices that will cause your warranty to be voided or invalidated in any way. These usually refer to attempting HVAC repairs you are not licensed for, but may include other areas as well.
  • Process: Make sure you understand how to access your warranty in case of something going wrong that’s covered by it.
  • For more on HVAC warranties, or to learn about any of our heating or 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.

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.

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!

What Goes into HVAC Installation Costs?

What Goes into HVAC Installation Costs?

HVAC installation costs vary greatly from project to project, which can make it hard for you to feel like you’re getting a straight answer from the contractors you interview for the installation. Why are some estimates so low and others high?

Below are the top questions we ask to put together the most realistic, accurate quote for HVAC installation costs.

How Big Is Your Home?

The bigger the home, the larger the system needed. HVAC units are measured in tons. A ton is the measurement of a system’s ability to cool, not its weight. A 1-ton system can cool 12,000 BTUs per hour. In most cases, every ton equates to 400 square feet of space. So for a 2,000-square-foot home, you want at least a 5-ton system. Costs will go up based on the square footage of your home.

Do You Need New Ductwork?

Ductwork must be replaced in some cases. If you want to upgrade to a highly insulated ductwork system, there will be a significant added cost, mostly because of the time it takes to do this project correctly. A number of strict code regulations must be met, and working in small spaces can take extra effort and make for a longer timeline.

When you’re reviewing quotes, make sure they are comparable. If you’re looking at a price with ductwork versus without, they may be drastically different.

What Brand of Equipment Are You Buying?

As with many major purchases, brand-name manufacturers will charge a heftier price depending on their influence, reputation and quality of materials. Every price level is different, but this is a case where you can talk to your HVAC installation contractor about how to get the most for your money.

If the installer carries different brands, they can price check each system for you.

What’s the SEER Rating?

Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) is a rating that determines the overall cost of running the unit. The higher the SEER rating, the more efficient it will be. But the higher the SEER rating, the costlier it will be as well.

While many argue that a high SEER rating is worth the investment because of the energy savings, you should talk to your contractor about your climate and your home and find a rating that fits your budget and your expectations.

Does Your Project Have Specific Challenges?

Will the contractor need to access hard-to-reach spaces in order to carry out the installation? Are there any specific obstacles in the way of an otherwise smooth, uneventful project? Every case is different, and you may find this influences the price quotes you receive.

Talk to Roberts Mechanical today for a comprehensive, professional quote on HVAC installation costs and take the first step toward a more efficient heating and cooling system today.