pest-hvac-comfort-pro

3 Ways to Make Sure Pests Don’t Enter Through Your HVAC

Pests enter your home through numerous pathways. Some are obvious like leaky windows or doors. Yet, one that’s often overlooked is your home’s HVAC system. Gaps and holes in your HVAC system offer convenient access for pests like stink bugs, silverfish, and rodents. But what can you do to ensure your HVAC is protected?

Fortunately, pest-proofing your HVAC system doesn’t require costly investments. A few minor maintenance tasks, regular inspections, cleaning and occasional pest prevention will help you avoid a full-blown infestation.

HVAC Pests: Why Prevention Is Best

From foul odors to costly damage, rodents, insects, and small animals can do a lot of damage to your home in a small amount of time. By taking regular abatement measures, you can prevent damage from occurring. What types of problems do they cause? Here are a few of the most common:

  • Home and equipment damage: Pests can cause significant damage to your home. Termites, for example, can destroy wood structures, leading to thousands of dollars in repairs. When it comes to your HVAC, damage occurs in a few ways. For one, pests love to move into your outdoor air conditioning unit. An A/C infestation can cause performance issues and even failure. Inside, pests can damage or eat through ductwork and seals.
  • Air quality issues: An infestation can affect your health by diminishing interior air quality. Odors, pesticides, allergens and pest debris can all infect your home’s air quality.

HVAC Pest Prevention Measures

A few specific pest abatement measures can help protect your HVAC system long-term. In particular, keep a close eye on areas where pests can enter your HVAC system: Exterior vents and flues, outside equipment, and your home’s ductwork. Steps you can take to protect them include:

  1.     Seal Ducts, Vents and Flues

Exterior vents like an attic vent, soffit or dryer vent all pose potential pathways for pests. Similarly, you want to ensure that the ductwork is properly sealed. Not only will this help prevent pests infestations, it can also help you save on heating and cooling. Small gaps and cracks within the ductwork can turn into pest highways, which is particularly problematic because odors, debris and allergens carried by the pests into the ductwork will be distributed around the home.

  1.     Regular Duct Cleaning, HVAC Maintenance

Even with the best seals, pests will find ways to enter the home. One strategy to prevent larger issues is proper duct cleaning. By cleaning your ducts, you’ll remove any debris and allergens that have collected, and the HVAC cleaning professional can help you identify potential problem areas. Also, pay particular interest to the dryer vent. Dryer vent inspection or cleaning should be conducted several times per year to prevent lint build-up, which can attract rodents and insects.

Another strategy: HVAC maintenance. A seasonal tune-up for your A/C or heating equipment will ensure that pests like stink bugs haven’t infested the equipment. Bi-yearly cleanings, inspections and maintenance checks are recommended.

  1.     Clear Outdoor Units

Your air conditioning unit is exposed to the elements, and without proper protection, it can become a magnet for pests. One strategy: Ensure that the unit has been properly mounted on a raised slab and that grass and weeds are regularly cut back away from the unit.

Alternatively, you can set traps for pests local to your region. For example, in some areas, stink bugs can infest HVAC units. Setting stink bug traps around your HVAC unit can help to solve the problem. Additionally, setting stink bug traps near vents will help to limit the pest’s ability to enter the home.

 

An HVAC system that’s not properly maintained can attract problem pests. Prevent damage to your home and health by ensuring your system is properly protected. Regular duct cleaning and maintenance help to clear issues and identify problem areas. Contact us for more information today.

 

ac keeps running comfort pro

Why Does My AC Keep Running? Tips for Fixing a Constantly Running AC Unit

A properly sized AC unit keeps your home comfortable during those long, hot summer days. The key to efficient AC performance: Regular maintenance. A spring tune-up will do wonders for your AC unit this summer.

Yet, even with regular service, AC units can still have performance issues. One of the most common summertime AC problems: The AC unit runs constantly. Not only does an over-running AC create cooling issues in the home, it can also increase your electricity costs and put undue stress on the AC unit.

An efficient, well-functioning AC unit will run frequently during the summer months. But you can tell it’s over-running when you notice:

  •    Unexpected increases in your electricity bill
  •    Uneven cooling throughout the home
  •    The AC unit runs for long periods of time, with little effect on the home’s temperature

All of these symptoms may be a sign that your AC unit isn’t running at optimal performance. In these cases, you should call an HVAC specialist to help you diagnose the problem. If you’re experiencing any of the above issues, call or contact Comfort Pro today.

What Causes AC Units to Run Constantly?

A few common problems can cause your home’s central AC to run constantly, and these problems typically fall into five categories. They include:

  1.   AC Unit Is Improperly Sized

For maximum efficiency, a central AC unit must be fitted accordingly to the size of the home. An AC unit that’s too small or too large will cause issues with uneven cooling, inefficiency or rising electricity costs.

  • Is the Unit Too Small? A unit that’s too small must work harder and longer to cool the home. This increases the wear and tear on the unit, which will shorten the unit’s life. Additionally, this can cause costs to rise, due to the added runtime necessary to cool the home.
  • Is the Unit Too Large? An AC unit that’s too large will run for shorter periods of time. Yet, this is a problem, because the unit will not run long enough to remove moisture from the air. As a result, the home will have damp, clammy air. Additionally, because it runs for shorter periods, it turns off and on more, and as a result, wear and tear do occur more quickly.
  1.  Your AC Requires Maintenance

Irregular maintenance is one of the most common causes of AC inefficiency. It’s recommended that you have the unit serviced twice per year – once in spring, and before winter. Regular maintenance ensures the coils, ducts, and air filters are clean, which maximizes airflow and cooling power. A few common maintenance issues include:

  •     Dirty condenser
  •     Clogged or restricted air filters
  •     Low refrigerant charge
  •     Dirty evaporator coils
  1.  Thermostat Problems

Your home’s thermostat tells the AC unit the current temperature in the home. When the thermostat is faulty and does not properly register the current temperature, your AC will likely run longer or stop running too soon. The result is typically an unevenly cooled home.

You can test your thermostat by placing a thermometer nearby. After an hour or so, the temperature readouts should be very close. If not, you likely need to have the thermostat replaced. Additionally, the connection may have come loose, which can also cause your AC unit to over-run.

  1.  Leaking Ductwork

Insulation and well-sealed ductwork contribute to the efficiency of your AC unit. A home that’s drafty, or that has old, improperly sealed ductwork will “leak” cool air out. As a result, the AC has to work harder to compensate. Properly insulated windows, ductwork, and attic spaces can all improve the efficiency of your HVAC unit.

  1.  AC Unit Is Too Old

Finally, when AC units reach the end of their lifespan, they become much less efficient. As a result, they have to work harder and longer to cool the home, resulting in increased runtimes and ballooning electricity costs. Replacing your home’s AC unit with an energy-efficient model will reduce runtime and can help to keep your home more evenly cooled.

Is your central AC ready for summer? Comfort Pro can help. Schedule an AC tune-up today!

ComfortPro Home Insulation

The Best Time for Pennsylvania Residents to Replace Their Home Insulation

Proper home insulation is critical for comfort and even room temperatures during Pennsylvania’s long, cold winters. Yet, a more comfortable home isn’t the only benefit of high-performance insulation. New insulation can save you money. According to ENERGY STAR estimates, updating aging insulation can reduce a home’s heating/cooling needs by 20 percent.

Is your home in need of new insulation? Properly installed insulation can last a lifetime, but there are instances when it needs to be replaced. They include:  

  • Water or mildew damage
  • Under insulation
  • Uneven room temperatures
  • Old, decayed insulation
  • Pest infestation

So what’s the best time to replace insulation in Pennsylvania? In our state, home insulation replacement can be accomplished year-round. Yet, late summer and early fall tend to offer ideal installation conditions and faster scheduling.

Why Late Summer Is Best for PA Home Insulation Replacement?  

Pennsylvania’s moderate summer and early fall temperatures create an ideal environment for updating your home’s insulation. Yet, this is just one of many reasons. During this time of year, you’ll also benefit from:

  • Faster Scheduling: In mid-to-late fall and winter, there’s a rush for home insulation replacement in Pennsylvania. Updating your home’s insulation in summer can help you avoid potential bottlenecks in scheduling that may arise.
  • Ideal Weather: During the replacement process, homeowners may experience draftiness in the home. Homeowners may have to turn up the thermostat to offset this issue and keep the home evenly heated in winter and fall.
  • Your Home Will Be Winter-Ready: By improving the insulation in summer or early fall, your home will be winterized when the heating season arrives. This ensures all potential energy savings are realized by the homeowner.

Energy Audits: Learn Potential Benefits of Insulation Replacement

Want to learn about the potential energy savings of updating your home’s insulation? An energy audit performed by a licensed HVAC specialist is the best solution.

During an energy audit, an HVAC professional determine areas of the home that are potential energy drains, i.e. an under-insulated attic. Additionally, potential insulation issues like old or decaying material or water damage can be determined. Energy audits can be done during any time of year. If you suspect your home’s insulation is under-performing, you should schedule an energy audit or insulation inspection today.

 

Efficient HVAC Multifamily Home

Choosing An Efficient HVAC System for a Multifamily Home

Developers of multifamily housing have numerous initial decisions to make at the start of a project. Yet, the type of HVAC system that will be used in the property is a decision that has long-term implications. This article will outline efficient HVAC systems for a multifamily home.

Ultimately, the decision comes down to a number of factors, from installation and long-term maintenance costs, aesthetics and energy efficiency, as well as the size of the property. Low-rise buildings, for example, tend to have different needs compared to mid-rise or high-rise developments.

Beyond this, multifamily developments also have unique HVAC requirements, compared to single-family homes. Multifamily HVAC units must deliver:

  • Peak load flexibility: It’s difficult to estimate the peak energy demand of a multi-family property. Therefore, the system must be optimized to handle a variety of peak loads.
  • Individual comfort controls: Occupants must have in-unit controls, which can be delivered in a number of ways.
  • Ease of maintenance: HVAC units may be contained in-unit or as part of a centralized system. Either way, the system should be designed to be easily maintained.

Ultimately, the question remains: Which systems are the most energy efficient?

Centralized vs. Decentralized HVAC Units

HVAC units for multifamily buildings fall into two categories: Centralized and decentralized systems. Centralized HVAC systems are similar to a home’s heating and cooling systems. Heat and/or AC are feed from a central location – typically a mechanical room in the basement or in a penthouse of the building. Centralized systems do have a higher cost, and therefore, they’re more common in mid-rise and high-rise properties with many units.

Decentralized units, on the other hand, are compartmentalized. Each unit is treated as its own building, and separate heating and cooling systems are delivered to the individual units. These units are typically considered “self-contained.” Baseboard heat is another type of decentralized system.

Energy Efficiency of Centralized and Decentralized Systems

In general, centralized systems outperform decentralized HVAC systems in terms of energy efficiency. Yet, the higher installation costs may make these systems cost prohibitive. Common types of centralized HVAC systems include:

  • Hot Water Baseboard: These systems deliver hot water from a central location to individual units. Essentially, the hot water flows through the radiator, as the radiator sucks in cooler air and heats it. This type of system is economical to install and is fairly efficient.
  • Two-Pipe Systems: This system includes a central water boiler, as well as a central cooling plant, which is typically on the roof. These systems have two pipes – one for delivering hot or cold water – and one for returning. Therefore, heat and A/C cannot be delivered at the same time. Efficiency is boosted with these systems.
  • Four-Pipe Systems: Four-pipe systems utilize similar equipment to the two-pipe system, but since there are four pipes, heating and cooling can be provided at the same time. Therefore, Apartment A can choose heat, while Apartment B can choose to cool. These systems are expensive to install, but are well-known for their efficiency.
  • Geothermal Systems: One of the most efficient types of HVAC systems, geothermal utilize a water loop buried within the earth to heat or cool the water. This water can then be delivered to individual units with a two- or four-pipe system.

Comparatively, decentralized systems are, on average, more cost-effective to install, but most do not deliver maximum efficiency.

  • Electric Baseboard Heat: Baseboard heat is one of the most economical options to install. But these systems are inefficient and carry high operating costs, and they’re only capable of providing heat.
  • Wall Unit Air Conditioner: Like baseboard heaters, wall units are cost-effective to install, but they are inefficient. Additionally, these systems typically only provide cooling.
  • Packaged Thermal Air Conditioner: A common heating/cooling option used in hospitality developments, PTAC systems are wall-mounted forced air systems units. Generally, these systems have shorter life cycles, and they aren’t very efficient.
  • Self-Contained Systems: These are forced air systems that deliver heating and cooling an individual unit. Heating and cooling equipment is installed in each individual unit, either in a closet or mounted to an exterior wall. In terms of decentralized HVAC units, the self-contained systems offer the best efficiency.

Additional Tips for Developing Energy Efficient HVAC Systems

Ultimately, your choice of HVAC unit will set the standard for the system’s efficiency, but there additional steps that can be taken as well. For example, properly sealing heating and cooling ductwork can instantly optimize a system. Additionally, improving the insulation of the building envelop can reduce the system’s overall heating or cooling load.

To schedule an appointment or if you have any questions please contact us today!

 

Tax Credits for geothermal heating in pennslyvania

Geothermal Tax Credits | The Ultimate Guide

Geothermal heat pumps, which utilize renewable energy, are a long-used heating source for homes in the U.S. In fact, since the 1940s, geothermal heat pumps have offered a greener alternative to electric- and gas-powered heating/cooling systems for homeowners.

These systems use a pipe-loop buried vertically underneath the ground beside the home. This earth pipe-loop gathers the energy held below the earth’s surface and transfers that energy into the home that provides heating and or air conditioning. There are two types of geothermal heat pumps: Water-to-water systems and water-to-air systems. Water-to-water systems are used to power hydronic radiant heating systems, while water-to-air heating systems power forced-air heating ducts. In most cases, GHPs also will provide most of the domestic hot water for the home.

Today, with rising energy costs, geothermal heat pumps make more sense than ever. Not only will updating your home’s HVAC system with a geothermal heat pump lead to substantial energy bill savings. Years past they had a substantial tax credit. ENERGY STAR rated geothermal heat pumps were eligible for a 30% federal tax credit, including cost and installation, and there was no maximum for the credit.  

What Types of Geothermal Heat Pumps Qualify?

Both types of geothermal heat pumps qualified for the 30% federal tax credit, but they must be ENERGY STAR certified. All ENERGY STAR certified GHPs are eligible for the credit, and there are numerous options to use. ENERGY STAR has provided this comprehensive list of eligible heat pumps, which you can use to research models.  Also, unlike in the past, qualified GHPs no longer have to provide a percentage or all of the home’s hot water supply to qualify.

Although GHPs may cost more upfront than traditional heating system, they do greatly reduce home energy costs. In fact, all ENERGY STAR certified models are more than 45% more energy efficient than traditional HVAC options.

There is no tax credit at present for 2017 but could change at a moment’s notice depending on our Government agencies’. Currently, the geothermal tax credit is in effect through 2016, and expires on December 31, 2016.  

Homeowners apply for the tax credit when they file taxes for the installation year. IRS Form 5695 for Residential Energy Tax Credits. A more detailed summary of Form 5695 is available from the IRS.

Pennsylvania Specific Geothermal Rebates

There are many rebate programs available in Pennsylvania for geothermal customers. If you are provided power by one of the following companies, you may qualify:

  • Allegheny Power
  • Duquesne Light Company
  • Met Edison
  • PECO Energy
  • Penelec
  • Penn Power
  • PPL Electric Utilities

If you are unsure what you qualify for, feel free to checkout this tool to learn more.

Want to learn more about the benefits of geothermal heat pumps for your home? Contact Comfort Pro  today. We install and service a wide variety of GHPs

 

ground-source heat

Preparing for Winter with Ground-Source Heat Pumps in Pennsylvania

Winter is almost here in Pennsylvania. If you use a ground-source heat pump to warm your home, getting the system dialed in for the winter should be at the top of your checklist.

These systems, also called geothermal heat pumps, offer homeowners a range of benefits: Better air quality, longevity, high-efficiency and more comfortable heating. To ensure you’re receiving all those benefits, it’s important the system is ready for winter. A quick heat pump tune-up can help you ensure the system is ready to go.  

Here are four steps that should be on your winter prep to-do list for ground-source pumps:

  1. Open Your Home’s Air Vents: Many homeowners close air vents to prevent drafts during summer months. This can cause uneven heating in the home, but fortunately, it’s one of the easiest problems to reverse. Before the heating season starts, this should be task No. 1 on your checklist. Make sure all vents are open.
  2. Check the Air Filter: During the summer months, water-to-air heat pumps capture warm air from the home, and send it through a filter into the heat loop. This filter cleans the air of dust and contaminants, and it can get dirty quickly. A dirty air filter can wreak havoc on your system’s compressor. Over time, this problem can cause system malfunctions, increased energy use and uneven heating in the home. Check the air filter regularly.
  3. Inspect the Circuit Breakers: If your system has been out of use for an extended period, you’ll want to do a quick test run. First, though, ensure the circuit breakers for the heat pump and any additional pump components are turned on. If the circuit breakers trip when you start up the system, you may have a problem with the system itself. In this case, you would want to contact an HVAC provider to diagnose the problem.
  4. Schedule A Yearly Tune-Up: The weeks leading up to the heating season are the perfect time to schedule a yearly tune-up. Technicians can perform more advanced diagnostics and maintenance, like adding pressure or antifreeze to a closed loop system, tightening all connections, and performing a deep cleaning of the drain pan and trap.

Do you use a heat pump in your home? Comfort Pro, Inc. – a premier HVAC provider in PA – offers great prices on yearly tune-ups and heat pump inspections. Schedule a maintenance appointment today.

 

Repairman vacuuming inside of a gas furnace during a cleaning.

How a Furnace Works

It’s unrealistic to expect homeowners to be able to work on their HVAC systems on their own. Some home projects are great for DIY and a nice way to learn a new skill, such as painting a room or pressure washing siding. That being said, when it comes to electrical, plumbing, or HVAC, for safety (and warranty) reasons, it’s best to call the professionals.

Of course, it never hurts a homeowner to know just how their furnace works. After all, they will have to change the filter (sometimes as frequently as every 30 days) and a familiarity with how the system operates helps to know if the furnace is running as it should or if a technician should be called. Being comfortable with the ins and outs of the furnace helps to diagnose problems and zero in on the fix when contacting an HVAC repair company. Some of the basics of the furnace function include:

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Engineer adjusting thermostat for efficient automated heating sy

How to Move a Thermostat

Our customers often ask about thermostats, and many of them want to know if it’s possible to move a thermostat on their own. They’re interested in how they should approach moving their thermostat, and the potential benefits of moving one.

Fortunately, in many cases, moving a thermostat is a DIY job that requires a few basic tools. In fact, if you’re moving the thermostat to an adjacent wall or replacing the interface, the project may last just an hour or less. In some cases, though, an HVAC specialist may be required for advanced wiring and thermostat installation.

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Why is My Furnace Blowing Cold Air?

There’s nothing quite like the bone-aching struggle to clear the snow off your sidewalk while facing a 30 mph cross-wind blowing directly into your eye. After the task is done and you limp through your home in your frozen pants like a combination robot/scarecrow, the warmth of the furnace encompassing your whole body is starting to become a reality. You hear the rumble in the blower motor and the hot air working its way through the ducts only to deliver an arctic blast of cold air into your face….

“Furnace, you had one job.”

When your furnace is blowing cold air it’s really no longer a furnace is it? This is not only a nuisance but a legitimate danger that could compromise the sanctity of your home’s pipes, electronic components, and other features such as your body, that should be kept above freezing temperatures. The winter is hard enough, you don’t need a furnace blowing cold air to pile on to the misery so here’s what could be causing these issues:

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HVAC unit covered with icicles on a yellow wall

The Snow’s Effect on Your HVAC System

For most of our customers, we have been successful in reiterating the extreme importance of interior HVAC care, specifically the changing of the air filters, switching to programmable thermostats, and getting the system inspected annually by a professional. Another thing we stress though is to never rest on your laurels when it comes to your heater and air-conditioner, specifically when it comes to the outside care of the HVAC unit. Specifically, snow and ice from the winter can have lasting effects well into the spring and summer.

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