How to Avoid These Holiday Heating Risks

The holidays are an exciting time of the year, but unfortunately, they are also a time when homeowners experience significant home heat risks. Here are a few risks to be aware of and how to prevent them:

Cooking Risks

Holiday dinners, cookie baking bonanzas, and potluck prep can take a significant toll on your kitchen and could potentially cause fires or other concerns. Cooking hazards are the number one cause of home fires, so play it safe with these guidelines.

  • Be sure small appliances, especially the cords, are located away from sinks. With countertop appliances, make sure they are plugged into GFCI: Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter protected outlets.
  • Wear short sleeved fitted clothing and aprons when cooking. Be particularly aware of loose and longer sleeves when cooking over an open gas flame. Flowy materials can easily catch fire in the kitchen.
  • When not in use, be sure to unplug appliances such as coffee makers, toasters, blenders, or toaster ovens.
  • Never leave paper towels, kitchen towels, potholders or oven mitts next to the stovetop. These can easily catch fire if they come into contact with a heating element.

Holiday Light Hazards

Holiday lights are fun! But, if you overdo it or are not well informed, then your beautiful lights can be potentially dangerous. Be sure to follow these recommendations when decorating with lights this season.

  • Unplug all holiday lights, both indoor and outdoor lights, before going to bed or leaving your home.
  • Use only electric lights when decorating your holiday tree. Never try and light your tree, whether real or fake, with fire-lit candles. Consider battery operated candles in place of regular candles elsewhere.
  • To decrease the risk of electrocution when hanging holiday lights, use a fiberglass or wooden ladder instead of a metal ladder.

Space Heater Dangers

Space heaters add easy comfort to any room during the colder months. You’ll want to play it safe when warming your home with a space heater, though, as they could potentially cause electric shock and/or fires.

  • First thing’s first: when planning to add a space heater to a room in your home, be sure to read all of the manufacturer’s instructions and provided information carefully. This is very important and is the most effective way to prevent space heater hazards.
  • When using a space heater, do not plug the appliance into an extension cord. Plugging the unit into an extension cord could cause overheating and lead to a potential fire. Instead, plug the space heater directly into an outlet on the wall.
  • Make space around your space heater. These appliances must be kept at least 3 feet from all flammable objects, including bedding, hampers, and rugs.

Care About Smoke Alarms

  • Install smoke alarms outside of all sleeping areas, in the kitchen, and on each floor of your home. Be sure to test your smoke alarms monthly to make sure they’re in proper working order to keep you and your loved ones safe.
  • Smoke alarms that rely on hardwiring and a backup battery are found to be more reliable than those that solely rely on a battery.
  • There are different types of smoke alarms: a photoelectric alarm responds better to smoldering fires, whereas an ionization alarm responds more rapidly to flames. There are combination style smoke-alarms which include both photoelectric and ionization alarms, and these provide the most complete protection for your home.

If you’re concerned about HVAC heating risks, we can help. Contact us today to make sure that your heater or furnace is working properly.

Tips for Preparing Your Heating System for Winter

As the temperatures start to drop, many homeowners turn to their heating system to keep their family comfortable throughout the winter. Fall maintenance is vital to keeping your system running efficiently during the winter and preventing damage or breakdowns. There are many ways that you can start getting your heater ready for winter before the season gets here.

Top 5 Tips for Getting Your Heater Ready for Winter

Now that fall is here and winter is fast approaching, it is time to make sure that your heater is ready to keep your home warm and comfortable this winter. Here are the top 5 tips for preparing your heating system for winter:

  1. Check and change your air filters.

Regularly changing or cleaning your air filters is an important part of keeping your system working efficiently. Dirty filters can restrict airflow, which not only impacts your home comfort but can cause additional wear and tear to your HVAC system. It is recommended to check and change your air filters at least once a month.

  1. Turn on your heating system to test that it is working properly.

Set your thermostat to heat in order to test that the system is working properly. The heat should kick on after a couple of moments and it should start to get warmer in your home. If you find that the heating system is making noise or gives off an unpleasant smell than you may need repairs. Turn off the system and contact a reputable HVAC company to diagnose and repair your system.

  1. Make sure that your thermostat is working.

If your heating system is not working quite right, it may be a problem with your thermostat. You want to turn on your thermostat and use a traditional thermometer to monitor the temperature inside your home. If you find that the thermostat is inaccurate, consider replacing it before the winter arrives.

  1. Check your heating vents to make sure they are uncovered.

Inspect the heating vents around your home to make sure that nothing is blocking them. When furniture or other household items block your heating vents, this does not allow heat to get into your home. Not only does this leave you in the cold, but it can drive your heating bills up as the system has to work harder than necessary to heat your home. Blocked vents can also lead to issues like an overheated furnace.

  1. Schedule your annual heater tune-up.

Even after taking all of these steps to test your heating system, it is still important to get annual heater tune-ups before winter. During the tune-up a certified HVAC specialist will check to make sure that your system is working properly and provide service as necessary. By identifying any issues early on, your HVAC technician can help you avoid breakdowns or more costly repairs.

If you need help preparing your heating system for winter, contact the HVAC experts at Hader Solutions. Our team of fast and friendly technicians will inspect your system to make sure that everything is well-lubricated and in working order. If we find a problem during your tune-up, we can diagnose and fix the issue while we’re there.

What Homeowners Should Know About Emergency Heat

Every thermostat has a manual setting called “emergency heat.” While many homeowners know they have this option, they may not know when to use it. Using emergency heat correctly can keep the heat on in your home, but it may also drive up your energy bills if used without caution.

What is Emergency Heat and When Should I Use it?

It is important to know what emergency heat is and when you should use it as it can help you stay comfortable in cooler months. However, if you don’t use it responsibly, you may see a jump in your energy bills. To find out more, read on.

The Role of the Heat Pump and Emergency Heat

The heat pump inside your HVAC system pulls heat from the outside air into the indoor system for ductwork dispersal. Since it is using heat already in the atmosphere, it does not need to use much of an alternative energy source (i.e., electricity, oil, or gas). The system may also use a supplemental heat source from an alternative fuel source in the furnace. Most of the time, you will only need to use the additional fuel source to help your heat pump deliver the right amount of heat.

The emergency heat setting allows a user to turn off the primary source of heat coming from the heat pump and use the supplemental heat coming from electricity or natural gas.

When to Turn on Emergency Heat Settings

Emergency heat settings are not for giving your heating system a boost during extremely cold times; they are for emergencies only. If your heat pump stops working or is damaged, the emergency heat setting will maintain an adequate level of heat within the home until a service provider can address the situation.

Depending on your supplemental heat source, running emergency heat for a long time will likely cost more than using your heat pump. Maintaining heat levels using electricity alone is always more expensive, but gas or oil pricing may vary.

Maintaining Your Heat Pump

Maintain your furnace and heat pump to reduce the need to rely on emergency heat during the winter. Here are a few tips to keep your heat pump in top condition:

  • Watch for the emergency heat light. A light or signal should accompany the emergency heat setting. Occasionally this light will turn on, even if you do not choose “emergency heat.” This may mean you have a problem with your heat pump. Contact a service technician to inspect the pump and determine why your system started using emergency heat.
  • Inspect the heat pump throughout the winter. Identify the pump outside your home and inspect it occasionally during the season. If you notice any snow buildup or damage to the pump, address it quickly to reduce the need to rely on emergency heat. Some of the most common heat pump problems affect the compressor, refrigerant levels, and physical damage.
  • Schedule an annual tune-up. During an HVAC tune-up, a service technician will look at the heat pump’s components and your furnace system to identify any potential problems.

Emergency heat can keep your home or office warm if your heat pump fails, but it is not an advisable setting for everyday use. Use this information to understand and use your emergency heat setting as recommended during this winter season. If you have any questions or need assistance with your emergency heat setting, contact us today.

Furnace Efficiency Ratings and What They Mean

The efficiency of your HVAC system is important for a number of reasons. The more efficient a furnace is, the less energy it uses to heat your home. With less energy used, whether that means gas, oil, or electricity, you save money on every energy bill. You can also feel better about your carbon footprint and contributing less to environmental problems. So how do you know how efficient a furnace is? It all comes down to the efficiency rating.

Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency Rating

The Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency rating, or AFUE, rates a furnace by how much heat it provides in comparison to how much energy it uses. As an example, an AFUE rating of 75 percent tells you that the furnace loses 25 percent of the energy coming in and only 75 percent of that energy goes into producing heat. The higher the rating, the less energy is wasted and the more efficient a furnace is.

How to Find Your Furnace’s AFUE Rating

Most furnaces have a bright yellow sticker on them, labeled energy guide. This is where you will see your AFUE rating. This is required to be on all new furnaces. If you have an older furnace, installed before the rule went into effect, you may have to estimate the efficiency. If your furnace has a continuous pilot light, you have a style of furnace that typically rates between 56 and 70 percent. Those with an electronic ignition are more likely to rate around 80 percent.

What is the Minimum Requirement for AFUE

New furnaces have to meet a certain minimum efficiency rating of 78 percent for most homes. For mobile homes, which are harder to heat efficiently, 75 percent is the minimum. Efficiency requirements are set by the Department of Energy and they are subject to change. Different types of furnaces may eventually have different set minimum requirements for AFUE.

AFUE Doesn’t Tell You about Your Whole HVAC System

Keep in mind that the AFUE rating is just for your furnace. Another place where you can lose efficiency is in your ducts, which move hot air around your home. If ducts are not insulated well you can lose a lot of heat this way, especially in colder parts of the home like the attic.

Efficiency ratings are important, and not just because the government requires them. If you want to be environmentally responsible and save money, you need to consider the AFUE rating of your furnace. When you’re ready to upgrade to a new, more efficient furnace, contact us at Hader so our professionals can help you choose the right unit and get it installed.

Pitfalls to Avoid When Buying a New AC or Furnace

Buying a new furnace or air conditioner is full of potential pitfalls. With so many decisions to make, it’s easy to neglect important considerations and rush into the first enticing deal that comes your way. However, taking your time and doing your research will help you to avoid these common and potentially costly mistakes when replacing your AC or furnace:

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