Furnace Maintenance: What Really Matters

Taking care of your furnace is an important part of having a safe and comfortable home, especially during the upcoming colder months. While it’s best to have professionals inspect or make adjustments to your furnace, there are a few things homeowners can do themselves!

Safety Tip: Before inspecting or cleaning the furnace, make sure the gas line and any electrical circuits connected to the furnace are turned off. It’s important to establish safe working conditions before starting any inspection on your furnace. After the inspection, remember to turn the fuel supply and electric switch back on.

The easiest place to start while inspecting your furnace is with the air filters. In winter, we spend more time inside, making our filters work harder sifting out the pet hair, dander, allergens, and other dust building up around the house. A dirty air filter can heavily strain the furnace, increasing your bill and damaging your equipment. To prevent your furnace from working overtime, we recommend cleaning out and replacing fiberglass air filters every month.

Pro Tip: Fiberglass filters are the most common, affordable filters, but they only filter out basic particles. Pleated filters, on the other hand, are pricier, but have a higher filtering capability and can last up to three months.

Next, check the furnace ducts for any possible leakage. Leaky duct work can increase the amount of dust and other particles circulating your home and so should be occasionally inspected. After cleaning the ducts using a high-powered vacuum cleaner, cover the ducts to stop any air leakage.

Finally, make sure your venting system is in working order. Dirt and other forms of debris can build up and eventually clog your ventilation, cutting off air flow to your house. Prevent this from happening by cleaning your vents with a large brush or vacuum cleaner.

Remember: It’s always nice to do it yourself, but if you’re ever unsure about proper furnace maintenance or cleaning don’t leave it to chance! Call Doug’s Heating and Air Conditioning with any questions or concerns you may have; we are always available and happy to help.

 

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Indoor Odors

Most people know the smell of abandoned leftovers in the fridge. Many have experienced the smell of their kids’ dirty laundry hidden under the bed. But did you know HVAC units can cause or transmit indoor odors as well?

HVAC units are supposed to filter the air, adjust its temperature, and create an enjoyable in-house living environment.  However, external influences or older units might cause the following indoor odors:

  • Moldy or Musty: Most air conditioners dehumidify air, meaning the resulting water might not drain properly. This excess condensation can cause mold which can spread to the filter and dispense moldy odor even faster. Mold is especially harmful for children.  Cleaning the unit or changing the filter often does the trick, but severe drainage issues or affected duct work usually requires a professional to assess the situation.
  • Sewage or Rotten Eggs: These odors are usually caused by external defects with public infrastructure. If your ducts are located anywhere near a gas pipe or sewer line, these smells indicate ruptures. Contact authorities and stay away from rotten egg odors and potentially corresponding gas.
  • Burning or Gun Powder: These odors often indicate an overheated AC unit. Causes can range from (really) dirty filters blocking the air flow to defective wiring and motors. If the filter appears to be in good shape, leave the unit turned off and consult with a professional to limit any fire hazard. Additionally, furnaces using gas might cause these odors due to oil leaks. Again, please consult a professional in a severe case to prevent any further damages or hazardous situations.

Don’t ignore unusual smells, because they are great warning signals telling us we need to take action to avoid negative consequences. Please contact Doug’s Heating and Air Conditioning at 309-764-2500 if you have any questions about this topic.

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Is Your Heating and Air Conditioning System Childproof?

Whether you are a parenting rookie or a seasoned veteran, childproofing your home is essential to keeping your baby safe. Common household items can pose a potential threat to your children, your HVAC system is no different. Your HVAC system may seem harmless, but like most household items, your children can turn it into a hazard. To keep your children safe from your HVAC system and vice versa, follow these safety tips and reduce the risk:

Secure Vents: To a small child, floor vents are a whole new world; shiny and sharp. It is vital to make sure your vents are properly secured to protect your child from any misfortune. Sharp registers can get loose and become a major hazard to your children’s safety. To prevent this from happening, try nailing or screwing your vents into hardwood floors. For further precaution, you could try plastic registers to avoid the sharp edges of metal ones. Evaluating the security of your vents will keep food and toys out of your unit, but more importantly keep your children safe.

Keep Equipment Out of Reach: You may not look at your thermostat as a major hazard, but if your child were to have access to it they could make severe changes that could cause harm to your health as well as damage to your HVAC system. To avoid situations like this from occurring, it is important to keep all thermostats, remotes, or other HVAC control devices in a place inaccessible to small children.

Check your Outdoor Unit: Your outdoor HVAC unit is equally, if not more, dangerous than your indoor unit. It is not a playground, though your child may view it that way. It is essential to eliminate any hazards as your children take on the outside world. A possible solution is to fence in the area or block it off to make it inaccessible to your children, but still accessible to your HVAC technicians.

Securing your home and making it a safe place for children is a top priority. At Doug’s we respect you and your home and we want to help eliminate any potential risk your HVAC system may bring. If you have questions about childproofing your HVAC unit, give us a call at 309-764-2500 and we will be happy to help!

 

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AC Filter Maintenance

AC units don’t only regulate temperatures; they also contribute to your healthy breathing by improving air quality in your home. This only works if the filter is clean and therefore able to do its job! Cleaning or replacing your AC filter on a regular basis will do wonders for the air you breathe. These are only some of the benefits:

  • Well-functioning AC units filter out bacteria, dust, soot, pet dander, and mold spores.
  • Clean filters can do wonders if you have severe allergies because they can better filter out whatever triggers your symptoms.
  • The same applies to asthma because airborne dust particles are better filtered out.
  • Cleaner air generally reduces headaches and fatigue.
  • It can also reduce the risk of serious respiratory and cardiovascular events.
  • Breathing clean air will ultimately help you live longer!

Dirty filters can additionally block the air flow and tempt you to turn down the thermostat more than usual. The consequences can be felt in your wallet shortly after, so maintaining clean filters actually saves money!

Most AC filters are easy to take out and clean or replace; however, it is best to look over the manual before performing any maintenance work on your unit. When it comes to frequency, we recommend replacing them every 1 -3 months. We also recommend checking and replacing filters of air filtration systems every 3-6 months. This depends on how often you are using the AC or whether you own pets.

Routine cleanings and replacements can greatly optimize the efficiency of your AC unit, save you money on your energy bill, and keep you healthy. If you have any questions throughout the process, Doug’s Heating & Air Conditioning specialists are always happy to help!

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AC Emergencies

There is no better feeling than walking into your home and feeling cool air during a hot summer day.  Simply have a seat and enjoy the cool air circulating around you.

But what happens when your air conditioner stops working? Not only does the heat make you feel uncomfortable; it can also lead to heat stroke, especially when it comes to children. In general, regular maintenance checks and replacing the thermostat’s batteries help prevent any issues over the summer.  The following tips will also help you assess any potential damage quickly and take immediate action in the case of an AC emergency.

  • Check the AC lines and wires of your outside unit. They might be damaged by grass mowers, wire chewing mice, weed whips or any other gardening activities.
  • If your AC has quit completely, be sure and check the breaker.  Especially older AC units use a lot of power, so they occasionally blow a fuse. Simply reset the breaker by turning it off and then on again.
  • If your AC is running, but not cooling the room properly, it’s best to make sure there is nothing blocking the air flow, including checking air filters and compressors. Dirty air filters can easily be replaced and compressors cleaned.
  • Water leaking from your AC may indicate that the drain line is clogged or disconnected. If this is the case, inspect the drain line for clogs or disconnects and clear them out.

When in doubt, please don’t hesitate to call Doug’s Heating and Air Conditioning’s emergency line. Call 309-764-2500 and press #2 to activate our emergency voice mail and leave a message stating the problem you are currently experiencing with your air conditioning. This message is then automatically forwarded to one of our technicians, who will try to get back to you within an hour.

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Geothermal

Did you know the temperature of the earth/soil increases the further you dig? Did you know the temperature just a few feet below the ground barely changes throughout the year?  This underground temperature is between and 45 and 75 Fahrenheit depending on your location. Ground source heat pumps, direct use geothermal technologies, and enhanced geothermal systems are taking advantage of these facts to provide clean and affordable energy.

Constant ground temperatures and a system of buried pipes makes all of this possible. During the winter time, these pipes use the soil’s relatively higher temperature to transfer heat into the house; during the summer time, the pipes absorb the heat from your home and transfer it into the ground where it cools down. Further benefits include:

  • Environmentally friendly
  • Potential Federal tax credits
  • Quiet operation
  • Sustainable investment over time
  • Heating, cooling and water heating within one unit

Embrace this traditional way of harnessing Mother Earth’s energy and receive a one year limited warranty on heat pump units and a 50-year limited warranty on the underground pipes. Read more about the different type of technologies here:

Don’t hesitate to give us a call at 309-764-2500 if you have any questions!

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A Look Back at Doug’s Heating and Air Conditioning’s History

In the early 1950’s Doug Smith established a small heating and air conditioning business, which he aptly named Doug’s Heating and Air Conditioning. With a focus on exceptional customer service and professionalism, Doug built a winning formula for his Moline-based company that endured until his retirement more than 30 years later.

But this wasn’t the end for Doug’s. In 1985 Matt Hines took over the company. During the following decades Matt and his brothers slowly expanded the business into a team of over 30 licensed and insured technicians, but never lost sight of what was important. Keeping its founder’s dedication to customer service at heart, Doug’s Heating and Air Conditioning grew to continually raise expectations not only in the Quad Cities, but in the surrounding areas, including Clinton, Muscatine, Eldridge, LeClaire, Milan, Coal Valley, Port Byron, Andalusia, Blue Grass, Buffalo and DeWitt

Now, over 60 years later, Doug’s Heating and Air Conditioning has become one of the oldest and most trusted brands in the area. Located on 4307 49th Avenue in Moline, Doug’s team of highly-trained professionals are ready to service your heating and air conditioning needs whenever they arise, 24/7.

When Doug started his company he wasn’t only in the business of heating and cooling, he was in the business of helping people. This philosophy has made Doug’s Heating and Air Conditioning what it is today. Holding decades of experience and a reputation for high-quality service under its belt, Doug’s proud history only gets better with age.

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Discounts and Rebates – Don’t Miss Out!

We all like to save a few bucks here and there, so imagine you could actually save hundreds or even thousands of dollars on services you wouldn’t want to miss? Spring is the perfect time to evaluate your current systems and to consider saving big by upgrading your cooling and heating systems.

York

One of the largest discounts available comes from York. They offer up to $1,700 – just imagine what you could buy for $1,700 instead! Their units are very energy efficient, which might allow you to take advantage of certain rebates such as MidAmerican’s Energy Efficiency Rebate Program (see below).  Learn more about our York air conditioning units here.

 MidAmerican Energy

MidAmerican Energy is continuing their Energy Efficiency Rebate Program! You might be eligible to receive rebates on your utility bill of up to $1,485 if you install a new unit with a SAVE rating of excellence, with the exception of furnace fans, room air conditioners, programmable thermostats, and heat pump water heaters. Read more about where to find additional information about these rebates here and learn more about the positive implications of installing newer energy efficient heating and cooling systems here.

Mitsubishi

Mini-splits (ductless heating and cooling units) are convenient, improve home security, and can save you money in the long run. Thanks to Mitsubishi’s $400 discounts on mini-splits they can now also help you save money immediately! Learn about additional benefits of owning mini splits here.

Don’t miss out on saving big; contact Doug’s Heating and Air Conditioning today at 309-764-2500!

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Does energy efficiency matter?

Yes, it does! Energy efficiency not only makes sure your utility bills remain as low as possible, it also has far reaching implications for the environment and the future of our kids.

Energy efficiency starts with the production of energy. Energy plants use coal, gas, sun, or water to produce energy. Making sure they produce the most energy with the least amount of resources makes sure natural resources will last for generations to come and decrease the price of energy. Even environmentally friendly solar power plants require scarce resources which need to be harvested, transported, and processed using energy consuming procedures (silicon). This side of energy efficiency is complex and difficult to impact.

Our homes require especially large amounts of energy to keep us cool during the summer and warm during the winter. We use electricity by utilizing the microwave, washer, lights and we heat water for our shower. Doing all of this efficiently reduces our energy consumption, reduces emissions and lowers our bills. We are directly connected to the plants producing the energy and while we might not be able to adjust efficiency at its power plant source, we are certainly able to do so in our home.

ENERGY STAR provides numerous ways on how to make your home more energy efficient. Prevent heat and cold air from unintentionally streaming outside by isolating your attic hatch and doors. Seal air leaks with spray foam and caulk. Consider purchasing ENERGY STAR certified appliances, including TVs, sound systems, and washing machines. The same applies to electric heat pumps and HVAC systems. The greatest impact in the long term is educating yourself about these possibilities and reading about how a change of habit can save up to 20% of energy (and money), so have a look at https://www.energystar.gov/ and contact Doug’s Heating and Air Conditioning if you have any questions, because energy efficiency and creating a sustainable environment for our children is very much at our heart!

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Is my Utility Bill too High?

This is actually a tricky question, because you can only answer it if you know what is normal or average. The first step is to look at past bills over the years and note any changes. Did the bill increase because you have an additional roommate? Did you install new equipment that needs plenty of electricity or are you now using a room you didn’t heat/cool previously?

If the answer to these and similar questions is no, you should look at the rate. Did your energy provider increase prices? Did your agreement change in any other way or are you not eligible for rebates anymore?

If all of your answers are still no, you could look at seasonal changes. If your utility bill has increased during the winter months in particular, the heater might need to be fixed or replaced. If your utility bill has increased during the summer months, your air conditioning might become less cost-efficient due to age or damages. Having the suspects inspected is certainly good advice in this situation. Your local Heating and Air Conditioning expert will help you find the culprit and propose a solution.

Another way of looking at this issue is to compare your bill with friends that live in similar circumstances. These circumstances would include a comparable insulation of homes, similar age and efficiency of windows, doors and furnaces, and very similar heating/cooling habits, though. MidAmerican Energy can help you out with free energy audits in this regard. If your friend’s bill is indeed 20% or so lower than yours, the problem might be a rather fundamental one. Typical suspects are insufficient insulation and old equipment. The solution might be as simple as closing a hole in your ducts. In any case, this is a great opportunity to get informed about insulation and new energy-efficient equipment that can save you money in the long term.

One more way of looking at the issue is to analyze your heating/cooling habits. Are you keeping temperatures the same during the night, although this isn’t necessary? Are you leaving the house in the early morning and return to a freezing home during the summer and a hot home during the winter? A simple change in habit might do the trick and can even be complimented by an automatic thermostat.

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