At Your Service Plumbing, Heating & Air Blog: Archive for the ‘Air Conditioning’ Category

Important Fall Air Conditioner Care Tips, Part 2

Monday, October 19th, 2020

In part one of this two-part blog series, we went over some of the general basics for air conditioner care during the end of cooling season, or the fall. While it’s natural to focus primarily on your furnace or other heating elements leading into the colder part of the year, the end of heating season is also a vital time for ensuring your AC is cared for through the winter.

When you work with the team with At Your Service Plumbing, Heating & Air, we’re happy to provide numerous air conditioning maintenance, repair and replacement services at any point in the year, including end-of-season care. While part one mostly focused on prepping the AC unit, part two today will dig into some of the potential late-season AC issues you may run into and what can be done about them.

fall air conditioner care

Good Airflow, Limited Cooling

In some cases, by the end of the summer or early fall you’ll begin noticing that your AC’s airflow is still ideal – but the air coming out of it isn’t as cool as it should be. This could be caused by a few things: Refrigerant loss or some kind of leak, components that are overheating within the system, or possibly damage to your ducts that’s allowing refrigerant to seep out.

Each of these causes is something our HVAC professionals will need to look into. If you notice warmer air than should be present despite good airflow, despite you turning the thermostat to a lower temperature, contact us right away.

Limited Airflow

On the flip side, perhaps your air is perfectly cool – only you aren’t getting enough of it, or certain parts of the home aren’t getting any at all. This generally means there’s a blockage in your system trapping cold air, which will not only raise your energy bills, but also risk frozen coils and several related issues.

One immediate culprit to check: The air filter. If it’s highly clogged, this could be the source of limited airflow. If that’s not it, call our team for further investigation.

Short Cycling

If you’ve noticed your AC turning on and off rapidly in succession, running only a few minutes at a time, this is known as short-cycling. Short-cycling risks your energy bill spiking heavily, plus strains components. It has several possible sources our team can help identify for you.

Growing Bill

Finally, a broad sign of a problem with the AC system at any point in the year: A larger bill than should be present, especially compared to the same month of the previous year. Even if you haven’t noticed the specific signs of AC issues, a spiking bill will often be the red flag that tips you off and leads to a more detailed inspection.

For more on end-of-season AC care, or to learn about any of our HVAC or plumbing services, speak to the staff with At Your Service Plumbing, Heating & Air today.

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Important Fall Air Conditioner Care Tips, Part 1

Tuesday, September 8th, 2020

As many longtime homeowners are well aware, the fall season we’re entering is an important transitional season for your HVAC system. This is the time of year where you’ll move from cooling needs in the home to warming needs, and it’s also one where HVAC professionals strongly recommend basic maintenance and upkeep themes for both the air conditioner and the furnace that cover these varying needs.

When you call the team with At Your Service Plumbing, Heating & Air, we’re here to help with numerous areas of air conditioning maintenance and repair, including end-of-season AC care for those who want to ensure their system is well-taken-care of during this important time. In this two-part blog series, we’ll begin by going over several specific fall AC themes to consider when it comes to maintenance, then dig into a few issues you may be experiencing during this part of the year and what you might be able to do about them.

fall air conditioner care

Unit Cleaning

Most outdoor HVAC units are for air conditioning only, though there are some that may be used during winter as well. In either case, one of the first steps to take during the fall season is cleaning this unit carefully.

You’ll be able to handle the early parts of this job easily: Remove leaves and other debris from the area. From here, you can either proceed with caution on your own or call our HVAC technicians for assistance with some other basic themes:

  • Vacuuming out any remaining debris or dirt from inside the unit
  • Softly hose off any AC coils visible
  • Straighten out flattened or crooked fins (if you attempt this yourself, power should be turned off and proper safety measures should be taken)

Covering the Unit

Whether or not to cover the outdoor unit for the winter is a topic of some debate. Your AC is made of metal and will withstand most winter elements easily, but could be damaged by debris or other impact risks – if these are significant in your area, we do recommend covering the unit.

If your outdoor unit is also a heat pump that works during the winter, however, you definitely should not cover it.

Surrounding Area

After cleaning and potentially covering the unit, you should also check for nearby impact hazards. These include tree branches that could fall, debris on the roof or even major weeds around the unit, which could risk growing into its area over time.

Scheduled Maintenance

Finally, most tend to think of their fall HVAC tune-up through the lens of their furnace or heater. But who says such an appointment only has to cover this part of your system?

When you call our HVAC pros for your fall appointment, ask about basic AC checkup areas as well as heating considerations. This is especially important if you have an older unit, or if you have a unit that’s used for both heating and cooling during the year.

For more on important fall AC maintenance tips, or to learn about any of our HVAC or plumbing services, speak to the staff with At Your Service Plumbing, Heating & Air today.

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On Air Conditioners and Allergy Prevention Methods

Tuesday, June 9th, 2020

For many who suffer from allergy symptoms, the late spring and early summer portions of the year are the most significant. Allergies may trigger based on a variety of potential allergens, including some that may enter indoor spaces if the proper filtration is not present.

When you call the pros with At Your Service Plumbing, Heating & Air, you get access to a wide variety of HVAC-related air quality areas, from standard filters and maintenance to areas like UV germicidal lights and other air quality products. Here’s a primer on how your AC and allergy prevention are connected, plus some additional tactics to consider if someone in your home has significant allergies or related respiratory symptoms.

air conditioners allergy prevention

ACs and Allergies

Your standard air conditioner and HVAC system will help limit allergy triggers and symptoms in two specific ways:

  • Filters: For starters, all HVAC systems should have a filter that’s regularly changed or cleaned. Most such filters are designed to trap a wide variety of small particles, including allergens like dust, dust mites, pet dander and other irritants. Some even contain fine HEPA filters for advanced filtration in this area.
  • Humidity control: Certain allergens, such as fungus and mold, grow and reproduce in moist and warm conditions. Luckily, the AC also helps prevent these as long as it’s tuned properly, keeping your humidity levels in the right ranges so mold and fungus don’t grow.

Limitations of Filters

Now, while air filters are a strong line of defense against allergens and other contaminants, they don’t necessarily stop every particle that might be a risk here. In addition, not all HVAC systems are set up with perfect seals to the filters, meaning some air still leaks out without being filtered. For this reason, many consider upgrading their home’s indoor air quality measures, which we’ll go over in our next section.

Other Approaches

There are several approaches you can take to improve your home’s air quality for those suffering from  allergies, including:

  • UV germicidal lights: Ideal additions to an HVAC system that target areas where mold, mildew and other allergens grow, eliminating them permanently.
  • Air purifier: There are several air purifier types out there, including whole-home electric options that cause allergens and other contaminants to stick to a metal plate in the system, which can be easily cleaned off at any time to remove such contaminants.
  • Air filtration: In addition, many homeowners consider whole-home air filtration systems that cover far larger areas than your standard HVAC filter. Speak to  our team about these solutions.

For more on allergies and air conditioning in your home, or to learn about any of our furnace repair or water heater services, speak to the staff with At Your Service Plumbing, Heating & Air today.

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Using the Fall to Prepare the HVAC System for Cold Season

Tuesday, October 8th, 2019

With summer now fully in the rear-view mirror and fall in full swing, homeowners around Utah are looking to ensure their home’s HVAC and temperature control systems are ready for the cold winter ahead. This transitional season is important for a few important heating areas, both in terms of home comfort and ensuring costs don’t rise during the cold season.

When you call the team with At Your Service Plumbing, Heating & Air, we’ll provide you with numerous related services here, from boiler or furnace maintenance services to thermostat upgrades and air quality control offerings. Let’s go over several of the areas that are most important this time of year, whether you’re handling parts of this yourself or counting on our HVAC professionals to get the job done for you.

fall prepare HVAC system

Finishing Off Summer Season

Just before you get to winter prep areas, it’s important to ensure that your warm season components are taken care of first. In fact, some homeowners intentionally plan to have both air conditioner and furnace inspection done at the same time during the fall, checking on basic connections or airflow issues from both units that may have developed over the stressful summer.

Even if you don’t take this approach, take a little time to inspect and clear out the outdoor AC condenser unit area. Trim back shrubs or vegetation and remove debris that might both block airflow and provide shelter for winter pests.

Changing Filters

The fall is also a great transition period to change your air filters during, especially if it’s been a month or two on this already. Quality air filters not only keep the home full of fresh, clean air, but they also keep several components of the HVAC system working smoothly and prevent them from wearing down earlier than normal. While they should be changed at regular intervals throughout the year, the fall period is a good time to ensure there’s a switch-out made in particular.

Thermostat Considerations

This is one of the periods of the year where you’ll want to ensure the thermostat is in good working order as well, because it will have the task of changing over from cooling to heating formats. Programmable or smart thermostats make this process simple – if you’re still using an older manual thermostat, speak to our team about modern options that come at a low cost.

Quality Inspection

Finally, for the best possible winter HVAC preparation, bring our team in for a yearly inspection and maintenance appointment. We’ll cover your entire system from top to bottom, including a keen eye for certain areas non-HVAC professionals often can’t spot.

For more on important fall HVAC services to get your system ready for the cold season, or to learn about any of our quality plumbing or heating and air programs, speak to the staff with At Your Service Plumbing, Heating & Air today.

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General Tips on HVAC and Optimal Temperature Ranges

Tuesday, September 10th, 2019

While HVAC systems cover several specific areas related to air circulation, air quality and overall comfort, perhaps their simplest task is regulating temperature. The furnace keeps you warm during the long winter; the air conditioner keeps cool air flowing during the sweltering Utah summer.

When you work with At Your Service Plumbing, Heating & Air, you get a full range of temperature-related expertise, from basic air conditioner and furnace repair and upkeep to quality thermostat service and many other areas in between. Not only will we assist you with maintaining the optimal temperature in your home throughout the year, we can also provide expertise on the proper temperature ranges for several distinct purposes or situations. Here’s a basic primer:

tips hvac optimal temperature

General Temperature Range

On a day-to-day basis, humans are generally comfortable in a relatively wide range of temperatures. We generally recommend keeping the thermostat set between 68 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit – toward the former in the winter, and toward the latter in the summer with energy efficiency in mind.

As you view these ranges, it’s important to remember that thermostat setting isn’t the only factor at play here. During the summer, for instance, you can use fans and window drapes to cool down the home during the day, limiting the strain on your system.

Infants and Babies

If you have any new children in the home, it’s generally best to drop your temperature range just a bit from the above. Babies do best in temperatures ranging from 65 to 75 degrees. To get an idea of the ideal number for your child, feel their ears or chest at various temperature settings to track if they feel too hot or too cold.

Animals

For owners of traditional home pets, namely dogs and cats, there’s rarely any need to deviate from your day-to-day temperature settings. These animals do just fine within this range, and even within wider ranges in many cases (some homeowners set their thermostat higher or lower when the leave for work, which is usually just fine with dogs or cats at home).

If you have a rarer animal, however, such as a fish, lizard or rodent of any kind, things could vary here. Do some research in advance to find out the specific temperature your species thrives in.

Sleep Temperature

What about at night? Generally speaking, the recommendation here are to lower the temperature range. Research consistently shows that humans sleep best in temperatures between 60 and 67 degrees, mainly because the body’s temperature drops during sleep.

Trips and Vacations

Finally, any prolonged absence from the home is a great opportunity to save some money on heating or cooling costs. If you’re taking a summer trip, you can often shut your thermostat off altogether, or at least set it to a very high number like 85 or 90. During winter, you have to keep the system on just to avoid frozen pipes and related water issues – but you can still lower the temperature to the 50-55 degree range without any issue.

For more on the proper temperature range for various situations, or to learn about any of our plumbing or HVAC services, speak to the staff with At Your Service Plumbing, Heating & Air today.

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Combining HVAC and Landscaping Areas for Efficiency

Tuesday, April 9th, 2019

combining hvac landscaping efficiencySpring is here for Utah homeowners, and that means it’s time to consider a few post-winter HVAC areas to ensure your system is ready to go for the spring and summer. For those who maintain theirs, it’s also an important time of year for landscape design and preparing the property for the growing season.

The pros with At Your Service Plumbing, Heating & Air, though, are here to tell you that this is one period of the year where these two areas might combine briefly. That’s right, our heating and air conditioning pros can offer you some basic expertise on how you can intelligently utilize your landscaping in ways that directly benefit your HVAC system, including saving you major costs on your bill each month. Let’s look at a few themes that are important here.

Natural Shade Options

Are you looking for a way to lower your AC and energy bills in the summer without impacting your comfort or indoor air temperature at all? Your best bet is the natural option available to you: Shade.

Your primary tools here within a landscaping perspective are trees, which can provide major shade and sun cover to huge sections of your property. Many homeowners don’t fully appreciate just how much the sun plays a role in heating your home – simply stopping it from beating down on the outer areas of your house for a few hours a day can save you untold cooling costs, up to 20 percent of your energy bill in many cases. Prioritize tall, broadleaf trees that can reach up to the highest parts of your home, including covering the roof (another major heat transfer area). If possible, look for deciduous options that will show large leaves during the summer but then shed them during the winter, allowing sun to hit the home and assist with your warming needs.

For lower areas of the home, consider shrubs and bushes. These are particularly important for stopping reflected heat, which pings off driveways, sidewalks and other surfaces and shoots into your home. Many homeowners also place shrubs around the AC unit itself to keep it cool and shaded.

Trellis or Pergola

If trees or shrubs are not realistic given your soil or other considerations, or if you simply don’t want to wait for them to grow to the proper sizes, you can consider man-made additions here as well. A trellis or pergola is the perfect choice, an item you can place against the sunniest side of your home to shade it all day long from the sun. For optimal effects, cover this area in vines, leaves or other shade providers.

Water Features

For both ambiance and some cooling effects, consider water features like ponds, waterfalls or others in your landscaping. These will cool an entire yard space by a degree or two at least, making a significant impact on the temperature of air as it reaches your home.

For more on using landscaping to improve your HVAC efficiency, or to learn about any of our heating or cooling services, speak to the staff with At Your Service Plumbing, Heating & Air today.

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Utilizing Your HVAC System for a Good Sleep

Tuesday, March 12th, 2019

utilizing hvac system sleepWith proper HVAC technology and maintenance services, like the kind provided by our technicians with At Your Service Plumbing, Heating & Air, you can control the air quality and comfort levels of your home or business to the full extent. Modern systems allow for complete grasp over everything from basic temperatures to several other HVAC areas, allowing you to make life more comfortable without running up a huge energy bill.

One particular area where your ability to control your comfort levels comes in handy? Sleep. You may not realize it, but there are several HVAC areas that relate directly to your body’s consistent ability to get a good night of sleep – let’s look at a few of these areas and how you can optimize them while still keeping your utility bill low.

Proper Temperature Range

The simplest task of your HVAC system is maintaining your desired temperature, and the range you should be in here is more specific than you might think when it comes to sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends all humans sleep with the temperature somewhere between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit.

If your room is significantly colder or warmer than this, it could lead to restlessness and the disruption of REM sleep, a vital bodily cycle. You should be on the higher end of this range if a baby or toddler sleeps in the room with you, but never exceed 70 for any reason.

Humidity Concerns

Beyond just the temperature, the humidity of your room is also very important. Too much can lead to a damp, muggy feeling that’s both unhealthy and can risk the wood in your home. If humidity is too low, on the other hand, the room – and possibly your skin, throat, hair and nasal passages – will feel very dry.

The optimal range for humidity is between 40 and 45 percent in general, and humidity level detectors are cheaply purchased at any home improvement store. If your home has consistent low humidity issues, speak to our pros about a whole-home humidifier.

Thermostat Options

The thermostat controls much of the above, and which option you choose will play a big role in how tight your grip is. Most homes today have at least a programmable thermostat, which allows you to set a schedule that includes sleep hours – you can have the temperature drop into the proper range if you prefer it higher than 67 during the day, for instance.

There are additional options out there as well, however. A zoned HVAC system includes multiple thermostats that are each responsible for their own area, allowing you to adjust bedroom temperatures only if you want. There are also smart thermostat options that can be controlled from anywhere using your smartphone.

Utilizing Fans

If you’re looking for a low-cost way to cool your room down at night, consider your ceiling fans. These not only can lower the temperature by a degree or two, they circulate air and keep it fresh all night.

For more on utilizing your HVAC system for a good night’s rest, or to learn about any of our HVAC or plumbing services, contact the pros with At Your Service Plumbing, Heating & Air today.

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Preventing Pest Access Via HVAC System

Friday, January 18th, 2019

preventing pest access hvacOne simple reality of any HVAC system, whether in a home or business, is that it will have some connection to the outdoors. Air has to be exchanged between outdoors and indoors as part of basic heating and cooling operations, and this does present at least the theoretical risk of various outdoor critters – from tiny pests to larger rodents – attempting to invade.

Luckily, the pros with At Your Service Plumbing, Heating & Air are here to help prevent this from happening to you during our various heating maintenance services. Let’s go over a few of the broad basics on pests and your home, plus how you can prevent them from invading through various HVAC-related channels.

Pests, Warmth and Indoor Locations

In general, most pests and rodents are always on the hunt for warmth and food – especially during the winter when these are less available in outdoor areas. They will go to great lengths to seek out warm areas that provide moisture and any scraps of food they can find, and when it gets cold, this often means they look to your home for refuge.

Your exact pest risks may vary based on your area or other factors, but your HVAC system has several characteristics they’ll often go for. They love to flock to moisture areas, such as leaking water heaters. Some of them are capable of chewing through significant materials, as well, meaning you have to keep yourself protected. Our next section will go over just how you can go about this.

Tips for HVAC-Related Pest Prevention

A few basic tips we can recommend for keeping your HVAC system fully protected from any pests or other invaders, both during this winter and throughout the year:

  • Seal off entry points: One of the primary aspects of our heating and air services is inspections, and one element of these inspections is checking for entry points where air might be able to get in – but also various pests. We can help you with everything from protective screens to pinpointing draft areas, which may point you to the cracks or openings where pests are entering and allow you to seal them off effectively.
  • Ductwork: Duct material can wear down over time, particularly if you have any duct tape on your vents. Make sure you regularly check your ducts for leaks, as several pests may look to nest in them if you don’t.
  • Moisture: Any puddling water is an invitation for certain pests to gather and breed, so look to prevent this however you can. Seal outdoor areas and use dehumidifiers if certain areas of your home are too humid generally.
  • Pest control and inspections: Basic pest inspections and spraying can go a long way here, as can basic HVAC inspections to ensure your system doesn’t have any easy openings for pests.

For more on preventing pest access through your HVAC system, or to learn about any of our other HVAC or plumbing services, speak to the pros with At Your Service Plumbing, Heating & Air today.

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3 Unexpected Reasons Your Air Conditioner Isn’t Working

Monday, September 24th, 2018

blue-question-markIs your air conditioner simply not working the way it’s supposed to? Or maybe it seems to be working fine, but your recent energy bill tells a different story. If you’re not noticing anything obvious that would lead to your AC’s poor performance, it could be something you’d never expect, such as:

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The Problem with Improperly Sized Air Conditioners

Monday, August 13th, 2018

outdoor-ac-unitImproperly sized air conditioners is a surprisingly common problem. Unfortunately, the problem is always due to the negligence of the HVAC technician who installed it, and you’re the one who has to pay for it. In this post, we’ll explain why it’s so important to make sure your HVAC contractor in Salt Lake City, UT takes all the proper considerations into sizing your unit.

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