The History of Air Conditioning in the United States

air conditioning unitHomeowners often take their air conditioning units for granted. These AC units not only save families the trouble of installing dozens of fans to achieve the same results, they ensure year-round comfort.

Willis Haviland Carrier invented the first air conditioning unit in 1902. His AC unit sent air through coils filled with cold water, subsequently cooling the air and removing moisture in the room to limit humidity.

In the 1920s, air conditioners were used to cool theaters during the summer. In 1922, Carrier and his engineers modified heating apparatuses to reserve the heating process by shutting the vents where cool air entered the theater and by simplifying the AC units.

The home AC unit became semi-popular in the early 1930s. The first installments were window units and large, bulky systems. Then came General Motors to the rescue by introducing chlorofluorocarbons as a non-flammable coolant.

Air conditioners in the 1950s were much more widespread throughout American homes, and they worked great — but they wasted so much energy. In fact, air conditioning units today use roughly 50% less energy than they did back in the 50s. Another breakthrough in the AC timeline happened in the 50s, as well, when automobiles starting offering air conditioning.

AC innovation changed everything in the 1960s and 1970s. Central air conditioning removed window units, and then came evaporators, compressors, AC fans, and intricate ductwork. Also, there was a major energy problem in the 70s, which led the U.S. to regulate air conditioning. The government created federal standards for energy-efficiency levels in all appliances.

By 1993, approximately 68% of all occupied housing units had air conditioning inside their homes. During the 1990s, automobiles used dichlorodifluoromethane (R-12) for air conditioning but had to stop using this gas because it was causing serious environmental concerns and depleting the ozone layer.

Today, AC units are much more environmentally friendly and can be found in the majority of U.S. homes. And it doesn’t look like the need for AC is going anywhere for a long, long time.

If you’re in need of AC maintenance or other HVAC repairs, contact ComfortMaster today!

How Can I Heat My Finished Basement This Winter?

hvac serviceWith winter officially on the way and the holidays right around the corner, you’ve most likely started gearing up for the Big Chill. You’ve contacted your HVAC service for furnace maintenance, you’ve looked at heating tips for energy efficient homes, and you’ve swapped out your old HVAC system filters for new ones.

Now, what about your newly finished basement? Finishing a basement can be a great achievement and it certainly adds value to your home. But before you can truly enjoy it and consider yourself prepared for winter, you’ll need to bring heat to your underground family space.

Bringing home heating to the basement
It’s essential to hook up your home’s heating and air to your finished basement not only to heat up the space but also because heat rises. Without proper connectivity, there’s no way your new underground office or family space will be warm enough to inhabit this season.

Therefore, it may be in your best interest to set up heating systems as you finish the basement rather than going back and adding it in later. Consider the following options for bringing heat to your finished basement space:

  • Make your floors toasty-warm
    Many basement floors are made up of cold concrete, which can suck up the heat and leave you with icy, uncomfortable feet. Additionally, up to 25% of a home’s heat will escape through small holes and cracks in the flooring and walls. For this reason, consider installing radiant floor heaters if you’re already redoing the floors. This will help heat the room from the flooring itself and will keep your feet nice and warm throughout the year.
  • Use your existing ductwork
    While you’re doing construction in your basement, consider extending your ductwork into the basement. This will help provide your basement space with just the right amount of heat. However, before doing this, contact your HVAC service for a professional opinion. The last thing you’ll want to do is throw off your HVAC system and cause problems with heat circulation around your home.
  • Use a portable option
    If redoing your floors or extending your ductwork makes you uncomfortable, go the simplest route and set up an electric space heater. This type of heating works best if your basement is a space you only use once and a while.

If you’re having trouble setting up a proper heating system in your finished basement, don’t be afraid to contact an HVAC service. An HVAC service is there to help and is always willing to lend a helping hand.

How Your Pets Might Be Hiking Up Your Home’s Energy Bills

heating and coolingAccording to HVAC experts, up to 75% of phone calls regarding a lack of home heating during the winter is the result of a lack of maintenance. In some cases, this lack of maintenance may not be on your part at all, but rather your pets.

Let’s put a little light on the situation. Even homeowners who contact their HVAC service regularly for furnace repair and HVAC repair may have maintenance problems with their heating if they have pets in the home. This is because of the following reasons.

Pet hair can coat your filters
The colder months of the year are considered the worst times for those who suffer from allergies and it isn’t only because of the common cold. When the weather outside is frightful, our furry friends want to stay indoors to better keep warm.

Unfortunately, your pet’s increased presence alongside seasonal shedding and closed windows means your heating and cooling filters are seeing a lot more hair. When this hair builds up, it can make the air quality of your home as bad as the inside of a vacuum cleaner. Well, maybe not that bad.

Still, you’ll want to be sure to change your heating and cooling filters at least once a month if you have more than one pet. Also, be sure to vacuum your carpets regularly to keep any dander and allergens from being sucked up into your HVAC system and fired back out into the air.

Your heating is consistently running
Many American pet owners will keep their heating systems on consistently throughout the day and night even when they’re not home to keep their furry friends warm. This can not only drive up the cost of your utility, but it can also age your HVAC system.

Instead of keeping racking up your energy bills in an attempt to make your pets happy, reduce the temperature in your home by a few degrees while you’re away. Your pets will naturally gravitate to the sunny areas in your home to keep warm. What’s more is that, unlike their human owners, pets have a coat of fur to keep them warm.

So you don’t have to worry about keeping your house at a consistent 70 degrees Fahrenheit all winter long. Your cat or dog will be just as happy with 65.

During the winter months, it’s always a good idea to pay special attention to your pets. However, don’t forget that you need to be responsible for them as well.

Clean out your heating and cooling filters regularly and trust that they’ll be happy with the home being a couple of degrees cooler while you’re away from the house. This will not only ensure your furry friend is happy during the holidays, but it’ll also guarantee your HVAC system will keep running for many winters to come.

How Not To Prepare Your Home For The Cold: Debunking Home Heating Myths

furnaceWith the weather getting colder, many homeowners have begun performing their annual heating system rituals. These rituals include tuning up the furnace, checking the carbon monoxide detectors, and looking for ways to maximize energy savings.

While there are a vast number of ways in which to winterize one’s home, it’s important to note that not every heating system hack you read is actually a great way to maximize your savings on your utility. In fact, to help avoid some of the biggest HVAC system myths this season, here are some of the most common ones debunked.

  1. Hiking up the thermostat will make it warm faster
    Turning on your heater full blast to help make it warmer faster might seem like a great idea, but in reality, your HVAC system doesn’t work that way. Your furnace turns on and works its way to your desired thermostat setting at the same speed, whether the setting is high or low. In fact, this might actually be one of the worst ways to improve utility savings because you’ll be paying for the additional heat you don’t want by cranking the thermostat up to a setting too high for your liking.
  2. Using a space heater will help save money
    Electric space heaters can actually cost you more money in the long run. Space heaters run on electricity, therefore increasing your electric bill, and are also less efficient for heating your entire home. Space heaters are good for heating a single room, but furnaces can heat the whole house for less. This is especially true of a furnace installation with an AFUE rating anywhere between 90 to 95%, which is considered high-efficiency.
  3. Wood-burning fireplaces can help save money
    Wood-burning fireplaces are wonderfully romantic and a great way to end a hard day at work. However, when it comes to energy efficiency and providing a good source of home heating, a wood-burning fireplace won’t do you as much good as a standard furnace. Like space heaters, fireplaces traditionally heat only one room and can actually send all of your heat through the chimney rather than your home.

It’s essential to winterize your home in order to stay cozy and warm during the colder months. To ensure your furnace is ready to roll for the wintry season ahead, contact a professional furnace repair service for an inspection today.

Is Your HVAC System Making You Sick This Season?

hvac repair business

With cold and flu season officially here, it can be all too easy to blame your illness on the weather. But if your respiratory problems don’t seem to go away, the problem may not be the colder weather.

Without regular heating repair and maintenance, your air ducts may be letting more than toasty warmth into the air. It may also be releasing dust, dander, debris, and the far more dangerous carbon monoxide.

Lack of adaptation
Surprisingly enough, it isn’t only the buildup of debris in your ventilation system and cracks in your system’s heat exchanger that can cause changes in your health. Scientific research has shown that, in the past, people were more exposed to colder weather because they relied on fires to keep warm. As a result, our immune systems were more likely to be active in order to fight off seasonal illnesses such as colds.

However, with the comfort of furnaces and heating systems, it’s suggested that our immune systems aren’t likely to become more active. By avoiding exposure to colder weather, we’re more likely to be affected by seasonal illnesses.

Yet, this lack of exposure to the cold doesn’t mean you should turn your heating off and light a fire instead. HVAC systems and air conditioning have made it possible for people to remain comfortable no matter the time of year.

What’s more is that the shift in your immune system isn’t detrimental enough to make central air a winter concern. Although, it may help give you a reason to lower your thermostat by two degrees, which can help to lower your heating costs by 5%.

The importance of efficient filters
A functioning HVAC system can do more good than bad to your immune system and is a necessary part of modern life to help us stay comfortable in our homes. However, when maintenance isn’t properly performed it can cause dust and pet dander to build up in the ventilation. When you breathe in enough of this dust, it can result in respiratory illnesses similar to the common cold.

It’s important to have your heating and cooling system inspected by a professional HVAC repair business at least twice a year. An HVAC repair business help ensure that your ventilation system is working well and is clear of dust and dander. An HVAC repair business can also help to ensure the heat exchanger in your furnace or other heating system is in good shape, therefore keeping any risk of carbon monoxide poisoning exceptionally low.

Proper maintenance on your HVAC system is essential to your health. Contact an HVAC contractor for seasonal maintenance today.

How To Take Care Of Your HVAC System After Hurricane Flooding

hvac repair businessWith Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma having affected large parts of Texas, Louisiana, and Florida (and now with more hurricanes on the way), homeowners and workers are doing their best to inspect, repair, and replace their HVAC systems.

AC repair is in high demand after a hurricane’s terrible damage, especially in the South. Up to two-thirds of all homes have air conditioners, but it’s the South’s raging heat and heavy humidity that make a broken AC unit that much worse. In especially hot regions such as Florida, a busted air conditioning unit can cause life threatening emergencies in nursing homes.

With hurricane season still raging, here are some steps you can take to repair your HVAC system after flooding.

Talk to an electrician first
It’s essential that your home is declared safe to enter by a licensed electrician or qualified emergency responder before you enter your home after a hurricane. This is because, with the flood water so high, electrocution may be a potential danger.

Once your home has been marked safe, have your electrician either disconnect the main electrical panel or shut off power to your HVAC system. Keep your HVAC system turned off until an HVAC repair business has time to inspect the system.

Additionally, mark the high water line on your system if you begin to clean and repair your home. This can help the HVAC repair business or HVAC contractor note which parts of your system were submerged in the water.

Salvaging your HVAC system
One of the most important parts of a home to get rid of after flooding is carpet, drywall, and insulation that’s been saturated with water. The absorbent nature of these items can cause mold growth in the home if not taken care of immediately. Your HVAC system’s disposable filters are included in these absorbent items to get rid of.

If your HVAC system is salvageable, you want to remove the filter before mold spores can develop and then spread through your home once it’s been repaired and turned on again. However, it may be unlikely that your system is salvageable since most HVAC systems have too much water damage after significant flooding. If your appliances did survive the flooding, then a local HVAC repair business should be able to fix the damage.

Unfortunately, significant water damage on your HVAC system can result in refrigerant leaks, carbon monoxide leaks, corrosion, or breakdowns. You’ll also want to have HVAC services investigate the extent of water damage on your duct work. For a professional opinion on the state of your HVAC system, consult a HVAC repair business that can determine the true damage.

How To Find The Drafts That Are Stealing Your Home’s Heat

hvac serviceDuring the summer, you may not be aware of small cracks and holes in your home. But once colder weather arrives, you’ll probably be able to feel the drafts. Up to 25% of a residential home’s heating during the winter is lost through holes and cracks you may not even notice.

Drafts are the biggest foe to an energy efficient home in the winter months because they can make your heating system work twice as hard. Fixing cracks and holes throughout your home is a simple process. But how can you find the drafts in your home in order to seal them and replace insulation?

Focus on the doors and windows first
One of the biggest sources for drafts are the places in your home where there are meant to be openings: your doors and windows. To test for drafts, close your door or window on a cold day while you’re running your furnace. Run your hand leisurely by the edges of the window’s seal or the edge of the door. If you feel cool air coming through, you’ve got a sealant problem.

The cold air on the outside of the house has a higher pressure than the warm air on the inside of the house. Therefore, the air will naturally attempt to stabilize the pressure by sucking the warm air out in any way that it can.

Use a candle for more than your Jack-O-Lantern
Candles make for great draft-detectors because they’re cheap, simple, and can be found anywhere. Make sure your HVAC system is turned off in order to keep any air from blowing through the air ducts.

Light a candle in your hand and walk around your home slowly while watching the flame. Any trace of a draft or forced air will send the flame of your candle wiggling. Follow the direction of the candle’s flickering the source of the draft and then fix the crack or hole.

Consult your HVAC service
In the event that the drafts in your home are truly a problem, you may want to get a professional opinion and contact your HVAC service. HVAC services are there for more than just furnace installation, heating repair, and air conditioning repair. Your HVAC service is also there to conduct thermographic imaging and a household energy audit at your appointed request.

Thermographic imaging helps professional heating contractors and technicians locate drafts in openings around your home by analyzing heat patterns. Openings like electrical outlets and recessed lighting could be letting in drafts without your knowledge.

To keep warm in the winter, it’s essential to ensure the cracks and holes in your home’s walls, ceilings, windows, and doors are sealed and secure. Be sure to investigate your own home for drafts before the weather gets too cold and sucks the energy from your HVAC system.

Why Do My HVAC Filters Get Dirty So Fast?

Up to 75% of no-heat calls to HVAC services during the winter are related to a lack of maintenance on any one homeowner’s system. Needless to say, routine maintenance on your HVAC system is one of the best ways to ensure its proper functioning and longevity in your home. However, sometimes even when you provide proper HVAC maintenance from professional HVAC services, your system can still have its problems.

One of the most bothersome challenges for you as a homeowner is when the filter becomes clogged prematurely with hair, dust, and grime. Here are some of the most common reasons why your filter may be prematurely clogging and what you can do to help:

  • Pet fur and dander: A pet’s hair is one of the leading causes of prematurely clogging filters. This is because your pets shed their fur regularly. If their fur ends up on the furniture, on the floors, and in your clothes it’s only to be expected that their fur would end up in the air ducts as well. Be sure that you’re routinely cleaning the house of your pet’s fur and dander to keep it out of the vents and that you’re routinely brushing them.
  • Extreme weather or temperatures: When your thermostat is set to “on” rather than “auto” it makes the fan in the system run constantly. This can increase the amount of debris and dust that is accumulated into your filters.

When the weather is significantly hot or significantly cold, the fan may continuously run even when set to “auto.” Therefore, if your area is experiencing a heat wave for a series of days, it may be a good idea to turn your system off every once in a while to give the fan a break from working.

  • The MERV on your filter is high: When a filter’s Minimum Efficiency Rating Value (MERV) is higher, it means that it traps and holds onto smaller pieces of debris. This can be great because it means that your air is cleaner. But it can also mean a continuous need to clean your filters because that debris can very easily build up. It may also be more taxing on your HVAC fan depending on the energy efficiency of the system. Consult your HVAC contractor for a professional opinion on your system’s filters.

HVAC RepairWhen your HVAC system’s filters are clogged it can often keep the heating or cooling from properly being vented into your home. Be sure to routinely clean your filters in order to ensure the proper functioning of your system. Contact the HVAC services of ComfortMaster today for a professional cleaning of your HVAC system filters or HVAC repairs.

Why Does My Boiler Water Look So Gross?

boiler repairDepending on the type of boiler you have, it may be difficult to keep your boiler water clean. Steam systems are typically open to the air, which results in corroding and rusting. Because of this, steam boilers are often in need of routine boiler repair. Being open to the air can cause the water to have some discoloration. However, this is normal and shouldn’t be too concerning.

You should be concerned when the water becomes not just discolored, but dirty and foaming. When this happens, you may either want to consider the manufacturer’s instructions regarding the cleaning of the boiler or you may want to call a boiler repair service. But what is it that made your boiler water so gross to begin with? One of the following reasons may be the cause:

Ye Olden Systems

One potential cause of your boiler’s water discoloration may be the age of your steam system. When an old steam system and a new boiler are paired together, the steam of the new boiler can often reach down further into the boiler than the older model.

This results in the removal of corrosion and dirt that may have been in the system for years. It’s when this happens that the grime from the old system will be washed back into the new boiler, which can cause the water to look disgusting.

This can also occur if the original boiler installer you chose failed to clean the boiler properly. Because a boiler installer typically uses quite a large amount of oil while they put the pipes in place, the oil can build up and be swept into the water if left uncleaned. This gives your boiler water the foaming and discolored appearance you’ve noticed.

Large amounts of feed water

The calcium and magnesium that feed water contains can easily cause your return lines to clog if you have too much feed water going through the pipes. This is because the minerals create a hardened scale that cause the water to back up into the steam.

When this happens, water hammer (a loud knocking sound) is created, which can cause an increase in corrosion inside of the system. This corrosion can cause your boiler water to become dirty. If you have excess feed water, contact a boiler repair service or HVAC repair service immediately.

Boilers can be dangerous when they’re not properly maintained. The average boiler can last between 15 to 30 years and it’s important to seek out a professional heating and cooling repair service to treat your boiler at least once a year to an inspection. Without proper inspection, dirty water may be the least of your worries when it comes to your boiler.

How To Stay Safe During Summer Heat Waves

With summer at its peak, it’s important now more than ever to make decisions concerning the sun and the high heat. While it’s great to go outside and enjoy the warm weather with friends or with the kids, high temperatures can quickly turn against you if you aren’t prepared — the dog days of summer are one of the leading causes of weather-related death. Read the rest of this entry »