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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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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