Carney Plumbing Heating & Cooling Blog : Posts Tagged ‘Plymouth Meeting’

Steps to Take When Your HVAC System Breaks Down

Monday, September 17th, 2012

If your Chalfont heating or air conditioning system breaks down, there are a few simple steps you should take before calling a professional. Here is a rundown of exactly what you should do and how these steps will ensure the system is fixed quickly and properly to help keep your family comfortable at all times.

  1. Check the Power – First, check the electrical power to your system. Look for a blown fuse or flipped circuit if the system won’t turn on at all. If this is the problem, watch for a recurrence. If it happens more than once, you should call a professional to fix the problem in the future.
  2. Check the Thermostat – Check all of your thermostats to ensure they are not only reading the proper temperature, but that they are set to the right temperature. Often, what seems like a big issue can simply be due to a thermostat being set wrong.
  3. Inspect the Outdoor Unit – Check outside for debris or brush around your condenser unit. This can block air flow and cause the system to shut down.
  4. Inspect the Indoor Unit – Check your indoor units for the same buildup of debris around them and for any other issues like dirt or dust on the coils.
  5. Check the Filters – While a clogged filter would not necessarily shut down an HVAC system under normal circumstances, it could lead to such a problem if it gets bad enough.
  6. Call a Professional – Finally, if you try everything listed above and you cannot get your air conditioner or heating system to turn back on or run consistently, now may be the time to call a Chalfont heating professional for a thorough inspection. This is when it could be a real breakdown which is likely more costly to repair.

If you have a problem with your air conditioner or heating system, definitely check common issues that could have led to the breakdown, but always call Carney Plumbing, Heating & Cooling if real repairs are needed.

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Heating Contractor Guide: Which Fuel is Right for Your Home?

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Souderton homeowners all want to save money on household expenses and utility bills. We turn off lights when we leave the room, take shorter showers and make sure the kids don’t keep the refrigerator door open. These small habits help, but still we all want to save a little wherever we can, right?

One area where people are constantly looking for ways to save money is home heating. Everyone wants to be comfortable and warm in their homes, but that costs money, so homeowners are always on the lookout for the most effective and cost efficient way to keep the house warm.

What is the most cost effective fuel for home heating?

Is it natural gas, electric, fuel oil or propane? How about less conventional heat sources like wood or geothermal pumps?

We all wish there was one easy, all-encompassing answer to this question, like a heating magic bullet that would keep every family warm and happy for pennies on the dollar. Unfortunately, there isn’t. It depends on too many factors for any one solution to work for everyone.

Probably the biggest factor that plays a role in the cost of a particular fuel is its local availability. Resources are available differentially, so that while one option might be cheapest for a family of five in Andover, Massachusetts, the analysis is entirely different for a single person in Kearney, Nebraska.

What is the most cost effective option for you?

That is a better question, but still not one that is necessarily easy to answer.

To figure it out, you need to carefully analyze several factors:

  • Local availability (see above)
  • Local climate
  • Size of your home
  • Your family’s needs
  • Existing heating equipment
  • Your budget

Armed with this information, you can do a careful comparison of the options available to you. For assistance you can use an online calculator to compare fuel costs, such as this one from the Energy Information Administration or this one from Hearth.com. Or if you have any questions, give Carney PHC a call today!

Comparing fuel costs and choosing the right solution for you may take some time, but the savings can be well worth it.

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How Tightly Should You Seal Your Home?

Friday, January 27th, 2012

More and more products and solutions are available to us these days to help seal our Warrington homes off from the outside world. The idea is that by keeping outside air out, our homes are more energy efficient and healthier, because all pollutants and pathogens are barred from entry.

This is a good idea in theory, but it can have its drawbacks. Most notably, sealing your home up too much can be bad for your family’s health. If your home is sealed too tightly such that there is not enough air flow from within the home to the outside and vice versa, then the indoor air just…stays indoors.

That means that all the sneezes, coughs, dust, dander, smoke and carbon dioxide stay inside with it. All that stuff can make you sick, completely flying in the face of your efforts to stay healthy by sealing your home.

Now, that’s not to say that sealing your home is a bad thing. Using LEED glass in your windows does keep heat in and increase heating efficiency. Air filters do help eliminate pollutants and pathogens from the outside than can make you sick. Good insulation and intact ductwork do help keep your home comfortable and efficient in both the cold and hot months.

So, sealing your home is not a bad idea. The trick is to not go overboard and seal it up so tightly that you are crossing the threshold from having a healthy home to having a giant Petri dish. You want to have a home that is insulated, but not vacuum sealed. You want a home with filtered air, but still plenty of air exchange with the outside world.Thankfully, mechanical ventilation is a way to both keep your home energy efficient and keep your indoor air from getting stale.

To help you with this endeavor, there are guides available online, such as at the ENERGY STAR website. In addition, it is a good idea to consult with a professional and ask plenty of questions when building a new home or making improvements to your current one. A qualified technician will know how to insulate and ventilate your home properly to protect your family’s health.

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What Does a Furnace Fan Limit Switch Do?

Friday, January 6th, 2012

When researching your Plymouth Meeting furnace and potential problems it might have, you’ve probably run across a few references to the fan limit switch. And while you know that it can break in a number of ways, do you know what the switch does and what you should look for when checking your furnace its air handler for problems?

What the Limit Switch Does

To put it very simply, the furnace fan limit switch is a control that tells your furnace’s fan when to turn on and off. So, when the furnace isn’t on, it tells the blower not to operate (and send cold air into your home) and when the furnace is on, it tells the blower to turn on and start circulating the warm air.

While the primary function of the limit switch is to turn the blower fan on and off, it also has a safety role. When the temperature in the air supply plenum gets too hot, the limit switch turns off the furnace boiler to keep there from being any damage from overheating. This is handy if there is a blockage in the air vents or the controls are messed up due to water damage or improper adjustments to the settings.

Looking for Problems

Most of the time, when there is an issue with your furnace turning off or on frequently, the limit switch is one of the first things you will check. Because the switch is electronic and is attached to a thermostat which measures temperature in the air supply plenum, a small problem can result in it not working properly. So, you can easily check it by temporarily bypassing the switch and seeing if your device turns on or off properly.

In many cases, if the limit switch is the problem, you will still need to call a Plymouth Meeting professional for replacement, but you can avoid a lot of headaches related to tracking down the source of the problem. If you suspect a limit switch problem, make sure to call someone immediately, because it does provide an important safety function and because without it your furnace won’t cycle on and off properly.

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Surprising Sources of Indoor Air Pollution: A Tip from Solebury

Monday, November 28th, 2011

Indoor air pollution is a major problem for millions of homeowners throughout the country each year, including some in Solebury. In fact, the EPA estimates upwards of 20 million households may have problems caused by mold, radon, humidity, exhaust or any number of other pollutant problems. However, not all of the indoor air pollutants out there are so obvious. Some are things you probably have in your home right now and don’t realize it. Here are some of the more surprising sources of indoor air pollution and what you can do about them:

  • Incense – Incense releases both carbon monoxide and benzene, two chemicals that are potentially harmful to human health. Cancer, skin irritation and asthma risks are all increased in people who spend a lot of time around incense.
  • Laser printers – Laser printers that use toner can release a number of harmful chemicals into the air. That toner is very fine and releases particles into the air that are equal to or in some cases worse than second hand cigarette smoke. If you have a laser printer, consider putting it in a well-ventilated, infrequently used space.
  • Kitchen Stove – If you have a gas stove, it releases Nitrogen Dioxide when on, an unsafe gas that is odorless and fills your home quickly. This gas is bad for respiration and can cause asthma attacks. To solve this problem, simply make sure you stove is ventilated properly when cooking.
  • Spackle – Old spackle – the kind used before the 1980s often contained asbestos which can still be there, waiting to be disturbed. Old asbestos, while not inherently dangerous, will become so if you start doing work in your home or if the spackle starts to wear away. To solve this problem either call an abatement firm or cover the offending wall with a new layer.
  • Drapes – Those drapes are filled with contaminants that cling there, especially if humidity is a problem in your home. Dust mites in particular are bad for your health and can cause asthma and other allergies. Blinds are better than drapes for this reason.

Your home is filled with potentially dangerous problems, but you can avoid them simply by taking care to ventilate, clear away unsafe products and keep things like drapes clean (or remove them). If you’re still concerned about your air quality, call an expert to investigate.

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Why is My Furnace Turning On and Off?

Friday, November 18th, 2011

One of the most annoying things your furnace can do is to constantly keep turning on and off. This on-off cycling keeps your Yardley home from heating up properly. This action – called short cycling – also requires more electricity and drives up utility bills.

Short cycling is caused by an overheated furnace, which triggers safety mechanisms and shuts down the furnace. After a brief interval and cooling down, the furnace starts up again the cycle keeps repeating itself. Not only is it an annoyance, it can also signal more serious problems. A leaking heat exchanger can cause a furnace to overheat – and produce deadly carbon monoxide gas.

If a furnace is working too hard and overheating, it is usually because of airflow in and out. Your home’s ventilation system needs to be clear of dirt, dust, and debris. The more blockage in your ductwork and vents, the more friction is created, slowing down airflow and ultimately ending with an overworked furnace that continues to cycle on and off. And a blocked exhaust vent, such as a chimney or dedicated exhaust vent, can also cause a furnace to work harder. Check for things like leaves or bird’s nests.

The blockage may also be coming from a clogged furnace filter. You should clean or replace your furnace filter after a visual inspection reveals any type of build-up of dust or dirt. Do this at least every three-six months.

If you have a two-speed fan on your furnace, it is recommended that you run the fan in low speed during the cold months and high speed in the warm months. The reason? Warm air is lighter and takes less force to move.

There are other measures to take to prevent short cycling but these usually require a professional heating and cooling service technician to correct the problem. If in doubt, call your local qualified heating and cooling contractor and schedule a furnace inspection. Don’t make your furnace work any harder than it was designed for – and keep your home’s occupants comfortable and safe.

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Warning Signs of a Broken Furnace

Monday, October 10th, 2011

How do you know when your furnace is “on the fritz?” There are warning signs of a broken furnace and some are recognizable – but not all. A broken furnace not only deprives your Blue Bell home of heat and comfort, it also can be deadly, too.

Let’s look at some of the unrecognizable warning signs.

Each year, hundreds of people die and many more are injured from the most common household poison: carbon monoxide. This colorless and odorless poisonous gas comes from several sources and the furnace is the most common source of all; more precisely a broken or malfunctioning furnace. Carbon monoxide is a result of incomplete combustion of a fossil fuel, which is when a fuel does not burn correctly or completely. In a furnace, carbon monoxide gas comes from a poorly operating burner or a cracked heat exchanger. A properly tuned and maintained furnace greatly reduces the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Since carbon monoxide gas is colorless and odorless, it can go undetected. It can make people sleepy and create flu-like symptoms. Sometimes a person may fall asleep and never wake up. But there are warning signs. Drowsiness, vomiting, or flu-like symptoms are a warning sign. Regularly scheduled maintenance of your furnace by a qualified heating and cooling professional and installation of carbon monoxide detectors can reduce the risk of falling ill to carbon monoxide gas.

Another “undetectable” warning sign is a higher energy bill. Sometimes you can’t detect a problem right away because, like carbon monoxide, there may be no obvious signs. Higher utility bills can be a sure sign of a furnace that is working too hard and running more than usual. This may be a result of clogged or dirty air vents, or dirty filters. If your monthly bills are higher than those of the previous year, it may not just be because gas prices are higher.

There are other warning signs of a broken furnace, too. The most obvious is the failure of your furnace to bring your home up to the desired thermostat settings or to maintain an even temperature. Cold or uncomfortable houses are sure signs of a broken furnace. The furnace may cycle on or off, causing an uneven or inconsistent flow of heated air. This can be because of a poor blower or a clogged furnace filter. If you don’t feel any moving heated air or detect any unusual odors or smells coming from your heating vents, that’s a sure sign of a broken or malfunctioning furnace.

A broken or cracked gas line can emit odors and can cause a furnace to malfunction, too.

Don’t take a chance of losing heat and comfort this winter. At the first possible warning sign, call your local heating and professional for a heating system tune-up.

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Unclogging a Floor Drain: A Tip From Buckingham

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

It is never fun to wander down into the basement of your Buckingham home only to find that your floor drain has backed up. This is not a situation that will take care of itself and you want to get it under control as quickly as possible. While there are certainly plenty of things you can do to try and unclog a floor drain on your own, there are quite a few potentially complicating factors to consider as well.

First of all, you should make sure that no one in the house turns on any running water for anything until the drain has been unclogged. The floor drain in your basement is usually the last stop on the line for all of the water used in your house, and so any running water anywhere above will only cause more water to back up in the basement. Of course, if you cannot use any running water anywhere else in your house, it is even more imperative that you are able to unclog the floor drain quickly.

If you happen to have a snake on hand, this may be the best option to try first. However, it can be a bit difficult to get the snake to make the sharp turn typical of these types of drains not long after the pipe descends below the floor. That is not to say that it cannot be done, but you should be aware that you need to make sure the snake turns the corner before it will be useful to you at all.

If you do not have a snake of your own, you may still be able to take care of the blockage without calling in a professional plumber. But first you have to find it. Depending on the layout of your drainage system, this may be easier said than done. You can also make a pretty big mess if you open up various sections of pipe looking for the blockage, so be aware and make sure you have something in place to catch the runoff and debris that may come out of the pipes when you open them.

You may also run into trouble if the blockage is actually outside of your house in the larger sewer line that runs to the street. Unclogging a drain with this type of problem is generally a job for a professional and there is very little you will be able to do on your own.

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Water and Energy Saving Tips

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

The cost of the heat, air conditioning and water supply to your Solebury home continues to rise – it’s no wonder you want to cut your bills so much. But, how can you do that without cutting into the creature comforts and conveniences you’ve gotten used to over the course of the last few decades? Here are a few simple energy and water saving tips to make your life easier.

  • Patching Leaks – Two of the biggest wasters of water are dripping faucets and leaky pipes. The amount of water wasted by a single drip every second could provide for multiple baths per year – it adds up fast. Not only are leaky faucets and pipes easy to fix; they tend to develop into bigger problems as time passes.
  • Drains and Flushing – If you put a piece of toilet paper in the toilet used to clean an eye or wipe the counter, don’t flush. It’s a waste of water. If you notice some extra toothpaste in the sink, don’t rinse yet. You can always use the water from brushing your teeth or washing your face to clean it out. Multi-task and minimize how much water goes down the drain to save water.
  • Fully Loaded – A partially filled washing machine or dish washer is a huge waster of water. Fill it up and wait to run the device until it’s at the brim – the same amount of water is used no matter how much is in the device.
  • Compost vs. Disposal – A garbage disposal wastes a tremendous amount of water (if you want it to run properly). So, instead of churning the disposal up, create a compost pile and save a great deal of water/energy. If you have a septic tank, a garbage disposal is especially bad for your home as it can fill the tank up quickly with solids.
  • Lower Water Flow – Don’t crank your faucets up to the max just to get a glass of water or to check for hot water. It’s a waste of energy and it’s often unnecessary, especially when waiting for water to hit the right temperature.

If you’re interested in getting the most out of your home’s water supply, there are hundreds of little ways to save water that will add up over time. These are just some of the easiest ways to get started. If you need more tips, contact your plumber.

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