7 Winter Furnace Maintenance Tips

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

Woman performing routine cleaning on a heating unit, one of a few simple but important winter furnace maintenance tips.

We rely on our heating systems a lot during Minnesota’s long, brutal winters. As we continue through the coldest months of the year, homeowners should take steps to minimize stress on their HVAC system to help prevent inconvenient breakdowns and costly repairs. Use these winter furnace maintenance tips to enjoy optimal performance, efficiency, and comfort all season long.

  1. Keep the air filter clean. A clogged filter forces the HVAC system to work harder, decreases efficiency, and is also the most common cause of breakdowns. Be sure to change or clean your air filter every month.
  2. Maintain a clear, clean area around the unit. Giving your furnace room to breathe promotes safe, efficient operation, as well as easy access to the unit for you or your HVAC specialist if necessary. As a general rule, give your furnace or indoor air handling unit three feet of clearance and clean the space regularly.
  3. Inspect flue pipes for damage. Your furnace naturally produces gases during the combustion process, and flue pipes carry these gases to your home’s ventilation system to be safely exhausted. Check the pipes for any damage that could be leaking CO into the home, as well as signs of soot and/or rusting. Have an experienced HVAC technician inspect any issues immediately.
  4. Clean supply and return vents. Supply vents feed warm air produced by your furnace to your home; return vents pull old indoor air and deliver it to the HVAC system to maintain indoor air quality and comfort. Cleaning them helps prevent dust and other airborne irritants from getting into the air you breathe or sucked back into the system.
  5. Check for signs of dirty ductwork. Air ducts carry air between your HVAC system and home and naturally collect dirt, dust, and other debris over time. Issues to look for include mold around your vents or furnace, excessive dust accumulation (especially around vents), inconsistent heating throughout the home, unexplained increases in allergy symptoms and/or respiratory problems, and signs of a rodent or pest infestation. Schedule professional duct cleaning service if you see any of these, and plan to do so annually.
  6. Turn the temperature down but keep the system on. Turning the thermostat down at night or when the house is empty can help cut utility costs, but don’t turn the system completely off. Having to fire the furnace back up whenever you wake up or return home requires more energy and adds unnecessary stress. Just remember to go no lower than 55 degrees (or closer to 60 during extreme cold) to help prevent frozen pipes. For ultimate ease and efficiency, consider installing a programmable thermostat that lets you pre-set temperature settings for multiple days ahead of time.
  7. Don’t ignore the warning signs. Don’t wait for a complete breakdown to give your furnace the attention it needs. If you notice uneven or inefficient heating, unexplained spikes in energy bills, or any other furnace issue warning signs, call WestAIR for professional diagnosis and repair before the issue gets worse.

It may be the beginning of a new year, but we have a lot of cold days and harsh weather ahead of us yet. Follow these winter furnace maintenance tips to help your heating system run safely, efficiently, and uninterrupted for the rest of the season.

Trust the highly knowledgeable and experienced HVAC professionals at WestAIR for all your heating and cooling needs. Contact us to learn more.

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6 Furnace Issue Warning Signs to Watch Out For

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

November may have given us a few warm, sunny days, but it’s safe to say heating season is upon us in Minnesota. We’ll have our furnaces working hard for the next few months, making it crucial for homeowners to know when their system needs professional repair or replacement. Use these furnace issue warning signs so you know when it’s time to call in the pros this winter.

Old Age

With proper installation and regular maintenance service, furnaces will last 15 to 20 years on average. Check the age of your furnace, and if it’s over 15 years old, it’s time to start considering an upgrade. Contact WestAIR for a free estimate and to schedule a professional inspection and evaluation with one of our HVAC technicians.

Frequent, Costly Repairs

Your furnace should be serviced annually for maintenance, but regular repairs that take a toll on your wallet are a sure sign that your furnace needs replacing. If repair service costs 50 percent or more than a replacement, a system upgrade is highly recommended. Not only will you receive peace of mind throughout the heating season, modern furnaces offer much higher efficiency and performance, saving you money on utility and repair bills.

Irregular Sounds, Smells, and Cycling

HVAC systems operate quietly and can easily go unnoticed if they’re functioning properly. Keep an eye (as well as an ear and nose) out for these irregular warning signs:

  • Banging, rattling, popping, humming, or screeching sounds
  • Persistent or random burning smells
  • More frequent on/off cycling (AKA short cycling)

These complications indicate serious mechanical problems that decrease heating efficiency and pose a potential fire hazard. Contact WestAIR, your local HVAC company, ASAP if you notice any of these issues.

Uneven or Inefficient Heating

Properly sized, installed, and maintained furnaces are designed to heat your entire house evenly. Signs of inefficient heating include:

  • Finding cold spots or different temperatures in rooms around the home
  • Having to adjust the thermostat frequently to maintain comfort
  • Turning the temperature higher than normal to keep the house warm
  • Seeing unexpected spikes in utility bills

If you experience any of these issues, the solution could be anything from a simple repair to a thermostat or furnace replacement. Don’t suffer through poor heating and higher costs – have an HVAC technician inspect your system and diagnose the problem and discuss your options.

Decreased Indoor Air Quality

Furnaces and HVAC systems are designed to help maintain indoor air quality and humidity as well as temperature. Yours might be failing if you or your family notice the following:

  • Stuffy or stale air
  • Dry nose, throat, or skin
  • Excessive dust accumulation
  • Frequent static shocks
  • Cracked wood on furniture, fixtures, and frames
  • New or worsening allergy symptoms

Carbon Monoxide Exposure

Furnaces fueled by gas or oil produce carbon monoxide, which is poisonous and potentially life-threatening with prolonged exposure. Heating systems are designed to trap and safely exhaust this dangerous gas, but it is possible for a leak to develop over time and put your family at risk. Signs of a carbon monoxide leak include:

  • Yellow and/or flickering burner flame (should be blue with a consistent burn)
  • Soot around the furnace and registers
  • Excess moisture on exterior windows, walls, and other cold surfaces
  • Rust, cracks, or corrosion on/around flue pipes and other furnace components

Warning signs of carbon monoxide exposure can also mimic common illnesses, so beware of unexplained nausea, frequent headaches, confusion/disorientation, burning nose and eyes, and flu-like symptoms. Remember, carbon monoxide poisoning can cause serious health issues and even death. If you or a family member experience any of these signs and symptoms, seek medical attention immediately and then call your utility provider and HVAC technician ASAP.

We all know that Minnesota weather offers plenty of surprises, and getting stuck with a broken furnace is a surprise we could all do without. Remember these furnace issue warning signs so you can stay ahead of issues and know when it’s time for professional repair or replacement service.

WestAIR is a Rheem Pro Partner and proudly services all residential HVAC brands. Contact us for all your heating and cooling needs.

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7 Tips for Winter Indoor Air Quality Maintenance

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

Women enjoying a hot beverage from the warmth and comfort of her home during winter.

With the recent snowfall and chilly temps, there’s no denying that winter is almost here. Time to prepare! As heating season makes its way to Minnesota, we must remember to keep the air in our home clean as well as warm. Use this guide to winter indoor air quality maintenance to keep your family cozy, healthy, and happy throughout the season.

Poor Winter Indoor Air Quality: Causes and Effects

When cold weather hits, we seal our homes to prevent the warm air produced by our furnaces from escaping. While this helps increase comfort and energy efficiency, it also traps dust, pollen, and other airborne contaminants inside the home that then decrease indoor air quality. Common signs of poor winter indoor air quality include:

  • Dry, itchy, or watery eyes
  • Cold or flu symptoms: coughing, sneezing, nausea
  • Heightened symptoms of asthma and other respiratory illness
  • Fatigue and trouble concentrating
  • Irritation of the nose and throat, particularly dryness
  • Headaches

Tips for Winter Indoor Air Quality Maintenance

Escaping the bitter cold of Minnesota winters means spending more time inside our home, making clean indoor air crucial to our comfort and health. Thankfully, homeowners can improve and maintain air quality with these helpful tips.

  1. Clean regularly – Don’t let dust, mold spores, and other pollutants build up around the home. Dust hard surfaces and vacuum (using a vacuum with a HEPA filter if possible) at least weekly. Use non-toxic cleaners free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are a major contributor to unhealthy air.
  2. Maintain a clean filter Air filters keep dust and other debris from entering and harming your HVAC system, but must be maintained in order to prevent these irritants from making their way back into the air. Remember to change air filters monthly or clean if resuable.
  3. Schedule annual service maintenance – Ensure your heating system runs at peak performance and provides clean, warm air with professional maintenance service from a WestAIR HVAC expert.
  4. Have your ductwork cleaned – Dirt, dust, pet hair and dander, and other irritants settle inside your air ducts over time. Schedule duct cleaning service before winter is in full swing, and plan to do so annually.
  5. Enhance ventilation with an air exchanger – Sealing the home in winter leads to recycled, stale air inside. To resolve this, air exchangers deliver a continuous flow of fresh, filtered outdoor air while simultaneously exhausting unhealthy indoor air.
  6. Control humidity with a whole house humidifier – Humidity plays a crucial role for indoor air quality. Dry winter air can cause nose, throat, and skin discomfort, as well as damage wood fixtures and furniture over time. Installing a whole house humidifier will help maintain proper humidity levels in your home.
  7. Consider additional clean air solutions Air cleaners work with your current system to remove excess dust and other irritants that decrease indoor air quality. Ultraviolet (UV) light purification systems utilize UV rays to eliminate odors harmful airborne pathogens like viruses, bacteria, mold, and VOCs.

This year has presented us all with new and unique challenges. But no matter how unpredictable 2020 has been, we know we can always plan for harsh winter weather here in Minnesota. We’re already seeing the temps drop and snow fall, so don’t wait! Use these winter indoor air quality maintenance tips to enjoy clean, comfy air inside your home this heating season.

For all your heating and cooling needs, trust the HVAC experts at WestAIR. Contact us today to learn more.

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Tips for Controlling Spring Allergies at Home

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

Family cleaning together to help control spring allergies at home.

Seeing warmer weather and longer days is bittersweet for allergy sufferers. Spring may be in the air, but so are pesky allergens. As we spend more time in our homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, indoor air quality becomes more important than ever. Use these helpful tips for controlling spring allergies at home to stay healthy and comfortable.

Change Shoes and Clothing After Being Outdoors

Controlling allergies begins with limiting exposure to allergens. Limit your time outdoors whenever possible. If you do venture out, don’t wear the same clothing and shoes around your home. Dirt, dust, pollen, and other irritants can cling to you and your wardrobe. Avoid tracking them around by changing as soon as you return home.

Dust, Vacuum, and Mop Regularly

Dust and allergens will settle on the surfaces of your home. Try to clean them at least weekly, and more often if you are leaving windows and doors open.

Have Your Ductwork Cleaned

Air ducts transport fresh air between your home and HVAC system, and over time will collect dust, pollen, and other airborne particles that travel through them. Having them cleaned annually is vital to indoor air quality. Schedule a professional duct cleaning service to help ensure you’re ready for the season.

Maintain a Clean Air Filter

The air filter blocks airborne irritants from getting into your system. However, it becomes dirty and less effective over time. If left long enough, the filter can also become clogged and make your system work harder, causing higher bills and faster wear and tear. Change (or clean it if re-usable) your air filter monthly to keep the system running properly.

Install an Air Cleaner

The name says it all. An air cleaner uses a filter to trap up to 97 percent of airborne bacteria, mold, dander, and other pollen-sized irritants. It can also eliminate viruses, kill germs, and neutralize odors and fumes.

Invest in Ultraviolet (UV) Light Air Purification

Breaking through an organism’s cell wall to destroy its DNA, UV light rays prevent that organism from reproducing and causing illness. UV technology has been around for over 100 years, and many homeowners today utilize it as a highly effective way to kill harmful bacteria, mold, and viruses in the home.

These systems conveniently work in conjunction with your current HVAC system. WestAIR is an authorized dealer of BreatheCLEAN UV air purification systems. Contact us to learn more or to schedule your UV light system installation.

Consider an Air Exchanger

Letting fresh air into the home can be beneficial, but it brings allergens along with it. An air exchanger solves this by exhausting stale indoor air and excess humidity while also delivering a continuous flow of filtered outdoor air inside. Installing a programmable thermostat will help you maintain indoor comfort without constantly managing temperature. And again, remember to keep your filter clean!

Controlling spring allergies at home comes down to limiting exposure to allergens. It sounds simple, but don’t be fooled into thinking the home is a completely irritant-free safe space. While we may be spending less time outdoors than usual this spring, use these tips to maintain indoor air quality and keep allergy symptoms at bay.

WestAIR’s HVAC experts are here for all your heating and cooling needs. As we continue helping our customers prepare their homes for the spring and summer during this time, our team is taking extra precautions to protect the health and safety of themselves and everyone they service. We prioritize your comfort and satisfaction in all that we do. Contact us today to schedule service and learn more.

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HVAC Tips for Spring Cleaning

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

Happy woman dancing during spring cleaning.

We can finally see that spring is on its way! With the weather warming up, it’s time to start preparing the home for the cooling season. Will yours be ready? To help out, we put together a list of HVAC tips for spring cleaning. 

Change Air Filter (or Clean if Re-Usable) 

A dirty or clogged air filter makes your system work harder, leading to higher bills and increased wear and tear. It also negatively affects indoor air quality. Change your air filter (or clean it if re-usable), and plan to do so monthly to keep the system working properly. 

Clean Floor Registers and Return Air Vents 

If dust gets into your HVAC system, it can negatively impact both energy efficiency and your home’s air quality. Use a vacuum to clean your floor registers and return air vents. You can get a deeper clean by removing the vent, brushing the individual grill spaces with a rag and butter knife, and then rinsing with warm soapy water. 

Dust and Mop Around the Home 

Though you should do these chores regularly throughout the year, dusting and mopping are especially important during spring. With windows and doors being left open more often, airborne particles like dust, dirt, and allergens accumulate on your surfaces and eventually make their way into your HVAC system.  

Have Your Ductwork Cleaned 

Air ducts supply your HVAC system with fresh air, but they can quickly become dirty from all the dust, pollen, and other harmful particles floating in the air. Keeping them clean helps prevent these harmful pollutants from accumulating in your ductwork and impacting the health of your HVAC system and air quality. Spring cleaning is the perfect time for a professional duct cleaning service, which you should do annually. 

Clean Bathroom Exhaust Fan(s) 

Clean and properly functioning, bathroom exhaust fans help with odor and moisture control, which helps prevent mold and mildew. Be sure the power is off, wash it with soapy water, and clean dirt and debris off the fan blades with a toothbrush. 

Clean and Clear Debris from Outdoor A/C Unit 

If your outdoor unit doesn’t get enough air or has dirt-covered coils, it could overheat. Turn off the power and clear away plants, weeds, leaves, branches, etc., and then rinse the condenser coils with a garden hose. 

Check/Change Batteries in Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Detectors 

Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are a crucial line of defense against two common household dangers. Check the batteries and replace them if necessary. You should also dust or vacuum them to optimize performance. 

Schedule Preventative Maintenance 

Don’t get caught with a failing A/C or expensive repair bill down the road. Schedule a preventative maintenance service with your local HVAC contractor to ensure your system is running smoothly and ready for the cooling season. 

During Minnesota winters, at times it feels like spring will never come. But when the days get longer and the temps rise, we know it’s time to start getting ready. Use these HVAC tips for spring cleaning to help make sure your home is ready for a safe, comfortable, and happy cooling season. 

The HVAC professionals at WestAIR offer experience and expertise to cover all your heating and cooling needs. Contact us today to schedule service and learn more.

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Importance of Indoor Air Quality

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

When we think about pollutants, many of us jump to an image of factories pumping smoke and toxins into the air. But what about on a smaller, more personal scale? Most of us spend more time in our own home than anywhere else, yet fail to consider the potential harm we face there. Let’s look at the importance of indoor air quality for family health.

Why Indoor Air Quality Matters

According to the EPA, the concentrations of pollutants in indoors are often two to three times what they typically are outdoors. Additionally, the EPA says that on average, Americans spend about 90 percent of their time indoors, with people who are more susceptible to pollution’s adverse effects (including children, older adults, and those with cardiovascular or respiratory disease) spending even more.

Causes/Sources

When it comes to indoor pollutants, most people are aware of secondhand smoke, radon, and carbon monoxide. Other threats to indoor air quality include:

  • Combustion sources like wood, coal, and gas heating and cooking appliances
  • Cleaning supplies releasing different chemicals into the air
  • Building materials like insulation and pressed wood
  • HVAC systems, especially if improperly maintained
  • Pet hair, dander, and other allergens
  • Inadequate ventilation
  • Dust mites and pests
  • Mold and bacteria

Outdoor air pollutants can also make their way inside the home through open doors and windows, ventilation systems, and cracks and seams. Chimney smoke can reenter and pollute the air, and volatile chemicals can sometimes enter via the water supply when cooking or showering. By simply entering the home, people inadvertently bring the soil and dust particles attached to their clothing along with them, as well as any pollutants attached to those particles.

Effects

The effects of indoor air pollutants vary both by person and based on length of exposure. Some immediate, short-term effects include:

  • Irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat
  • Coughing and sneezing
  • Headaches, dizziness, and fatigue
  • Upper respiratory congestion
  • Triggered or worsening asthma symptoms, including asthma attacks

Long-term and more severe health effects include:

  • Respiratory disease, heart disease, and cancer
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever and chills
  • Myalgia (muscle pain)
  • Nose bleeds
  • Difficult or painful breathing

If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your healthcare professional or dial 9-1-1 in case of emergency. Consult your local HVAC professional about improving your home’s air quality.

Tips

Whether we’re escaping hot and humid summer days or the bitter cold of winter, Minnesota residents spend plenty of time indoors year-round. Maintaining clean indoor air is crucial, and here are a few basic tips to get you started:

  • Let in fresh air: Open windows and doors when possible and consider purchasing an air exchanger to help replace stale indoor air with during the winter.
  • Clean regularly: Vacuum carpets and rugs one to two times each week and dust hard surfaces weekly.
  • Wash bedding weekly and consider using dust mite-proof covers on pillows, mattresses, and box springs.
  • Have your ductwork cleaned and change your filter (or clean if re-usable) monthly.
  • Invest in an air cleaner to efficiently trap and remove airborne pollutants.
  • Declutter your living space to avoid trapping and holding dust.

WestAIR Heating & Cooling understands the importance of indoor air quality, and we want to help keep your family safe and healthy. We offer professional duct cleaning as well as sale and service of air exchangers, air cleaners, whole house humidifiers, and replacement filters.Contact us to learn more and schedule service today.

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Ready to Replace: The Benefits of a Furnace Upgrade

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

Family enjoying time inside together on a cold winter day.

How old is your furnace? According to Consumer Reports, a furnace’s average life expectancy is 15 – 20 years (depending on the fuel type). Age is just one indicator that it’s time to replace your heating system, and doing so can do more than just ensure a cozy home all winter. Read on to learn more about the benefits of a furnace upgrade.

Increased Energy Efficiency

Modern furnaces offer significantly more efficiency than older ones, which ultimately means lower utility bills. This is measured by the system’s annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) – the amount of the system’s annual energy consumption that actually produces heat. Older systems score between 56 percent and 70 percent AFUE, meaning only 56 to 70 percent of the energy consumed becomes heat for the home. Modern high-efficiency heating systems offer 90 percent to 98.5 percent AFUE, helping you use less and save more.

Compatible with Programmable Thermostat – More Savings

Programmable thermostats can save you up to 33 percent on annual heating and cooling costs. You can schedule temperatures ahead of time, so the system automatically turns down when you’re away to save energy and back up when you’re at home for comfort. Properly used along with your new energy-efficient furnace, a programmable thermostat can help you maximize your savings.

Optimal Comfort Throughout the Home

Advanced technology in today’s furnaces helps provide stable, even temperatures throughout the home, eliminating cold spots and ensuring comfort.

Some modern features and benefits:

  • Zoning systems let you regulate the temperatures in each individual room, making sure the heat is utilized how you want.
  • Variable-speed operation means the blower motor has multiple speed settings. It will work at high capacity during periods of extreme cold to circulate more warm air throughout the house, and low capacity on more mild days to use less energy. Older systems have fixed-speed motors that operate at full capacity whenever they run.
  • Two-stage furnaces will operate in the first stage (about 65 percent of full capacity) until outside temperatures drop low enough, in which case it will kick into stage two and produce more heat to fulfill the additional requirements. As a result, these systems enhance efficiency and provide a steady flow of warm air for comfort on those extra-cold days.

Improved Safety

Due to normal wear and tear over time, an older furnace can develop a crack in its heat exchanger and leak poisonous carbon monoxide (CO) into the home. Common signs of a CO leak include:

  • Weak, flickering, and/or yellow burner flame
  • Soot streaks near furnace
  • Moisture on windows, walls, or other cold surfaces
  • Rusting on flue pipes/other pipe connections or appliance jacks
  • Small water leak at base of chimney, vent, or flue pipe

Signs of human exposure can be mistaken for common illnesses:

  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Disorientation
  • Burning feeling in nose/eyes

If you notice any of these signs of CO poisoning, contact your local HVAC specialist immediately. Installing a new furnace will help keep your home feeling cozy through the winter without putting your family in danger.

Better Indoor Air Quality

Your HVAC system is also responsible for the air quality of your home, and keeping a clean air filter is key. However, even with a clean filter, an older furnace can cause excessive dust, allergens, and dry, stale air in your home.

Enhanced Reliability

Frequent issues and expensive repairs to your furnace add up quickly, and they also leave your home with insufficient or no heat until fixed. While you should have your system serviced annually, having to call for a repair shouldn’t be a regular occurrence. A new furnace gives you the peace of mind that your family will be comfy all winter long.

While important, keeping your home warm is only one of the benefits of a furnace upgrade. We rely on our home’s heating system a lot here in Minnesota, so it’s important to make sure yours is up to the task. Don’t wait until it’s too late! Have your system inspected today and see if this is the year you replace.

WestAIR installs high-efficiency Rheem furnaces because they use advanced, state-of-the-art technology to offer the best in energy-efficient home heating. From HVAC service to system replacements, our experts are here for all your heating and cooling needs.Contact us for more information.

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Winter Energy-Saving Tips

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

It’s the season of heavy snow, biting wind, and frosty windows. In the freezing temperatures, you may notice your energy bills spike as you try to heat your home. WestAIR is here to help. Follow our winter energy-saving tips to keep cozy:

  1. Insulate your windows with heavy curtains. Keep the curtains closed at night and open in the day for free solar heating.
  2. If the warmth in your home sneaks away the moment the furnace cycles off, you may be losing heat through drafty windows. Use caulk, weather stripping, or draft stoppers to seal leaks around doors and windows.
  3. Seal air leaks in plumbing penetrations, gaps around the chimney, recessed lights, and unfinished spaces behind cupboards and closets. Insulate the attic or crawl space and other areas of the home according to recommendations for your region.
  4. Reverse ceiling fans so they run clockwise. Hot air rises, so the fans will push the warm air back down to you. Running them in the winter can save up to ten percent in energy costs.
  5. Move furniture and other items away from vents so the heat can travel from the ductwork to your rooms.
  6. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, keep the damper closed when it’s not in use so the warm air doesn’t escape out the chimney.
  7. Change filters. Dirty, clogged filters make your heating system work harder, which puts stress on your equipment and increases energy bills.
  8. Avoid using exhaust fans, which will suck out the warm air.
  9. Recycle oven heat. When you finish baking something and turn the oven off, leave the door open to warm the kitchen.
  10. Install a whole house humidifier to combat the dry air. Relative humidity makes your home feel warmer at lower temperatures, so you can turn the thermostat down and still feel comfortable.
  11. Turn the thermostat down when you sleep and when you leave, but no more than five degrees. Your furnace may spend more energy starting up again than it does keeping the home within a steady temperature range.
  12. Invest in a programmable thermostat, so it can adjust the temperatures for you. According to Minnesota Energy Resources, you could save up to $180 dollars a year just by upgrading this simple accessory.
  13. Don’t heat unnecessary spaces. Learn how you can control where the heat goes in your home with automatic zoning.
  14. Schedule service for your heating system.

WestAIR is committed to keeping your home warm this winter. We understand the stress that Minnesota winters place on your heating system and pocketbook. Check out our Heating 101 guide for more seasonal HVAC tips.

Contact us for more information.

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Dry Indoor Air + Humidification

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

Dry indoor airWinter is already uncomfortable enough with the freezing temperatures, so why not make the most of your cozy indoor living space where you can escape the dry and brittle cold air? Lower temperatures mean lower humidity levels because cold air can’t hold as much moisture as warm air. Here are two simple reasons your dry indoor air needs humidification:

Your comfort

Overly dry air can make your skin and respiratory problems flare up, from asthma and allergies to eczema and acne. If your home air is too dry, it could cause bloody noses, chapped lips, and itchy skin. Your respiratory system is lined with moist membranes in your nose and throat that prevent bacteria, viruses, dirt, and dust from getting into your lungs. If they are dry, they won’t keep particles out effectively, making you more vulnerable to sickness.

In addition, dry air increases static electricity, which produces painful shocks and zaps when you walk around on the carpet or touch metal surfaces. It will also make your hair more difficult to maintain and cause your clothes to stick to you uncomfortably.

Your belongings

Dry air will pull moisture from hardwood floors, furniture, and even the walls, doors, and general frame of your home, making it contract and shift. As the frame shifts, doors may be hard to open and close, or gaps may form between the ceiling, walls, windows, and door frames.

Books, artwork, and even the paint or wallpaper on your walls can get brittle, warped, or wrinkled in dry air. If you have musical instruments, they may lose their shape and tune. Humid air feels warmer, so moderate levels of humidity can allow you to set the thermostat lower and give your heating system a break. That way, you can live comfortably and save money on your heating bill and maintenance. But be careful: excess moisture may cause mold, bacteria, and mildew growth in poorly ventilated areas of your home.

You can keep an ideal, comfortable humidity level between 40 and 60 percent with a whole home humidifier. WestAIR Heating & Cooling offers whole house humidifiers that will keep every room of your home comfortable, even in the dry winter. Our humidifiers will automatically work with your HVAC system to distribute moisture throughout your home’s entire duct system. We offer programmable thermostats that come with a built-in humidity sensor so you can test and regulate home humidity and avoid going overboard.

Contact us to learn more about your heating and indoor air quality options.

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Holiday Home Safety Tips

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

The holidays are exciting, filled with gift shopping, decorating, cooking, hosting the extended family, or traveling to a Christmas getaway. But don’t overlook small details that are mishaps waiting to happen. From the ten-year-old string of decorative lights wrapped around your banister to the poisonous poinsettia plant sitting on your dining room table, the festivities bring many hazards to your home. Have an enjoyable and accident-free Christmas season with these holiday home safety tips:

Electrical threats

Before you hang up electric decorations, inspect them for damage. Look for cracked sockets, loose connections, or frayed cords. An exposed wire could light up your Christmas tree in flames. Never overload outlets or connect more than three strings of electrical lights. They could trip a breaker or start a fire.

Fire

You should always check your fireplace and chimney before you light it. Santa may not be peeking down at you from the roof, but there could be debris blocking smoke and creating a fire hazard. If you have a real Christmas tree, water it daily, and don’t put it too close to the fireplace. Keep combustibles at least three feet from heat sources and never block exits in case of a fire.

Decorating danger

In a quest to outdo last year’s Christmas décor, many homeowners take decorating to new heights, quite literally. If you plan to hang sparkling ornaments or lights in high places, don’t climb or stand on furniture. Use a proper ladder and have someone support the base if you need to hang decorations beyond your normal reach.

Theft

Try not to order anything online to be shipped to your home if you plan to be away for the holidays. Thieves can easily run up and snatch retail packages on a porch. Don’t leave large displays of holiday gifts near windows where passersby can easily see them. If possible, ask a neighbor to keep an eye on your home while you are away so you don’t have to worry about holiday theft.

Cold weather

If you plan to be away for the holidays, take steps to prevent frozen pipes. Basement, attic, and garage pipes are most susceptible to freezing and bursting in cold temps, causing significant water damage in a matter of hours. Make sure to close your garage door when you leave to keep the cold air out. Open kitchen and cabinet doors so the warmer air throughout your home will circulate and reach the pipes in your walls. Set the thermostat to a temperature no lower than 55 degrees.

WestAIR Heating & Cooling offers programmable thermostats with vacation-hold settings so you can easily stay in control of your heat while you are away. We can install a gas fireplace so you don’t have to worry about the decorations, Christmas tree, or wrapping paper falling into the hearth and catching fire. Contact us to learn more about your heating options this holiday season.

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