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3 Tips to Prevent an Emergency HVAC Repair

HVAC systems are like romantic partners: a little attention goes a long way. If you want to avoid drama, as in emergency HVAC repairs, taking a little time to maintain your HVAC system can help prevent issues that might otherwise arise. 

1. Be attentive to the sounds, monthly costs, and general condition of your HVAC system

Awareness of what your HVAC system should be doing is one of the best ways to take care of it. This includes knowing what sounds your HVAC system typically makes when operating, how much it typically costs to run per month, and generally knowing what is normal and what isn’t. That way, if you hear abnormal noises or the bill shoots up for no good reason, you will be alerted to these abnormal occurrences and will know to call a professional to check out your unit immediately.  

Some other examples of attentiveness include monitoring the way your HVAC system drains the water that it collects from the air inside your home as well as knowing what a clean air filter looks like. Checking on these conditions can help to prevent emergency HVAC repair and extend the life of your HVAC system.

2. Get your HVAC system checked and serviced bi-annually  

This is advice you will find on any website or article concerning HVAC systems. Like getting an oil change and tune up to keep a car running, servicing your HVAC system regularly– at least twice a year– can keep you from needing serious HVAC service and repair or perhaps prevent an emergency HVAC system issue. 

The HVAC professional will check that all systems are working and will clean inside your unit, making sure it is working as efficiently as possible and preventing a possible system failure. Evaporator coils, drain pan and drainage system, refrigerant levels…these terms might mean nothing to you, but an HVAC expert will inspect these parts and more to ensure your HVAC unit is in tip-top shape.

3. Keep it clean & treat it nicely

Cleaning the drainpipe and the fan atop the condensing unit; keeping the area around your HVAC unit free of debris; and clearing vents inside your home are great do-it-yourself strategies for ensuring an efficient and healthy HVAC system. While your unit will most likely not stay shiny and new looking, maintaining key parts can help ensure that it is able to do its job. 

All this attention and cleaning you are doing for your HVAC system might tempt you to feel free to adjust the thermostat depending on your preferences, such as turning it up or down a few degrees when you leave the house. However, leaving it alone is often the better option. Remember: Every time you adjust the temperature, the HVAC system has to work a bit harder. 

If you follow these three tips, your HVAC system should stay healthy and last a long time. Contact us to set up an HVAC service plan today!

Categories Heating & Cooling Systems

Our 8 Best Tips to Winterize Your Home

Winter is here, snow is perpetually in the forecast and every morning many of us have to break out the ice scraper before heading to the office. While Exxel Mechanical Services customers have warm, cozy homes thanks to our quality heating maintenance, installation and repair services, many also want to maximize their energy savings. The best way to get the most from your heating system this winter is by taking the time to winterize your home.

1.    Fill Up Cracks and Holes

Take a walk around the exterior of your home and look for cracks, holes and open seams. These are commonly found around windows, doors, where the siding overlaps the foundation and hose bibs. These small cracks can allow cold air into the home and lead to drafts. Filling them in with expanding foam sealant or good quality caulk can plug up the hole, prevent pests from entering your home and keep cold air out.

2.    Replace the Weather Stripping

Check the weather stripping around each exterior door at your house to see that it is intact and in good condition. If you do not annually check the weather stripping, there’s a good chance that it will be missing entirely, ripped, crushed or damaged. To winterize your home, you should replace the weather stripping. Once you do this, close the door and take a look under it. If you can see light from the outside coming in, you should plan on installing a door sweep or raising the threshold to stop cold winter air from creeping inside.

3.    Change the Furnace Filter

During the winter when your furnace sees a lot of use, you should plan on changing the furnace filter every two months, especially if you have pets or are working from home. A dirty and clogged furnace filter prevents proper airflow and makes your furnace work harder to heat your home. If you are not sure how to change your filter, ask your technician from Exxel Mechanical Services during your pre-winter preventative maintenance visit to winterize your home and HVAC system.

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4.    Use a Programmable Thermostat

Most of us keep regular schedules and start work, exercise, leave the house, eat meals and do other tasks at the same time every day. If your family has a regular schedule, a programmable thermostat is a wonderful way to winterize your home and avoid wasting energy. Every day, you can program the thermostat to change temperatures at different times of day based on activities. If everyone leaves the house by 9:30 in the morning, you can have it turn down to a lower temperature for the workday. If the first person home arrives at 4:30, you can schedule the heat to turn on at 4:00 so it will be warm by the time they get home. Many programmable thermostats also have vacation and weekend settings to give you plenty of options.

5.    Install Electrical Outlet Gaskets

Take a moment to place your hand near each of the electric outlets in your home. Does it feel colder? A surprising amount of chilly air can enter the home through the area around electrical outlets. Foam-rubber outlet gaskets are very affordable and easy to install. They can rapidly seal up the drafty area and winterize your home.

6.    Use an HVAC Maintenance Plan

One of the best investments that you can make as you winterize your home is an HVAC maintenance plan. Exxel Mechanical Services offers exclusive maintenance agreements that can provide regular care for your heat pump, boiler, air conditioning system, furnace and other HVAC system components. We have two different plans depending on your specific needs.

Silver Plan

Our silver plan includes:

  • Annual inspection of your HVAC system
  • Thorough assessment of your existing equipment with suggested repairs or improvements to increase energy efficiency and system longevity
  • Waived diagnostic fees for issues with your system in between your service visits
  • 25% discount on repair services

This plan is perfect for homeowners with HVAC systems that are between two and eight years old.

Gold Plan

Our gold maintenance package is packed with the same great features of the silver plan, but it adds additional protection. The gold plan includes:

  • Annual inspection of your HVAC system
  • Thorough assessment of your existing equipment with suggested repairs or improvements to increase energy efficiency and system longevity
  • Waived diagnostic fees for issues with your system in between your service visits
  • Free labor and component costs
  • 25% discount on repair services (for exempt parts)

7.    Insulate Your Hot Water Pipes

Insulating your hot water pipes prevents heat loss and saves on your energy bills. Adding pipe insulation will keep water inside of your pipes hot so that the water heater and boiler do not need to use extra energy to heat the water. By adding insulation, you will also be able to enjoy hot water the moment that you turn on the shower or faucet instead of waiting. You can purchase insulated wraps to place around the pipes or foam-rubber sleeves that can be slipped on the pipe depending on your budget and the location of the pipes.

8.    Test Your Detectors

Finally, you should always make testing your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors part of your annual routine to winterize your home. Residential fires are most common during the winter months, so having working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors with fresh batteries is critical to protect your family.

7.    Insulate Your Hot Water Pipes

Insulating your hot water pipes prevents heat loss and saves on your energy bills. Adding pipe insulation will keep water inside of your pipes hot so that the water heater and boiler do not need to use extra energy to heat the water. By adding insulation, you will also be able to enjoy hot water the moment that you turn on the shower or faucet instead of waiting. You can purchase insulated wraps to place around the pipes or foam-rubber sleeves that can be slipped on the pipe depending on your budget and the location of the pipes.

8.    Test Your Detectors

Finally, you should always make testing your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors part of your annual routine to winterize your home. Residential fires are most common during the winter months, so having working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors with fresh batteries is critical to protect your family.

Winterize Your Home with Help from Exxel Mechanical Services

Exxel Mechanical Services is here to support all of our residential and commercial clients and keep their HVAC systems in excellent condition. We are always available to help assess your system, provide you with a free quote or come out to restore your heat or air conditioning in the event of an emergency. To learn more or get a free quote, call us at 443-821-1040 or email us at bob@exxelmechanical.com. We look forward to keeping your family comfortable.

Categories Heating & Cooling Systems

How Can I Help my HVAC System Keep Up with the Forecast?

There’s already been a bit of snow in Maryland and the temperatures just keep dropping. Can your HVAC system keep up? And how will that impact your winter heating bills?

Check out these 4 smart HVAC usage tips to help you conserve your money and stay warm all winter long!

Don’t Overtax Your Heating System

You may be wondering if your furnace is working when you come in from the cold and the inside of your home doesn’t seem warm. Instead of immediately turning up the heat, be patient. While there’s no problem in increasing the temperature of your home, you should avoid massive increases and instead try to keep the heat flow as consistent as possible. If you feel the heat, your unit is working.

Many people tend to overtax their HVAC system in colder temperatures. This causes the internal mechanisms to wear out and ultimately break, which can result in costly heating repairs. Heavy furnace usage (beyond what’s necessary) also drives up your gas and electricity costs.

Insulate Your Home

Remember, the furnace works partially by keeping cold air out, but this work is negated by vents or gaps that allow drafts in the home. Your furnace works harder to compensate for drafts that bring the frigid air indoors.

The more your heater has to fight the elements, the more power it drains. You can eliminate these costs by safely insulating key areas. For example, taping gaps in the window frame or simply covering the bottom of the front door are great ways to keep the cold air out.

You can apply similar measures to other air vents as long as these areas don’t generate heat or risk catching fire. This simple, smart HVAC usage step helps your furnace use less energy while also keeping your home warmer. No more having to turn up the heat!

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 Dress for the Season

One of the simplest and easiest ways to promote smart usage of your HVAC system in the winter is to simply dress warmly! Besides saving on energy costs, you’ll probably be more comfortable too.

Of course, you don’t have to wear a coat in the house — (if you do, call us!) — but wearing two layers of warm clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt and a cozy sweater, will help your body create more friction and warm you naturally.

Using hand warmers and heating pads while you work at the computer or enjoy family movie night can be an inexpensive way to beat the cold without having to overtax your HVAC system. When you do go out, you will want to layer up and dress for colder conditions so that when you return home, your core body temperature can readjust more quickly without having to turn the furnace up!

HVAC Maintenance is Key

In addition to the other power saving strategies, keeping your HVAC unit and furnace well-maintained is the best way to stay ahead of a cold forecast. Your HVAC system is the primary source for heating and cooling your home, so ultimately, you need it to last and perform effectively.

Regular maintenance is the most cost-effective and proactive step to guarantee the safety and sustainability of your HVAC system. This is even more critical in the months leading up to periods of intense weather!

Our certified professionals at Exxel Mechanical Services will ensure that your HVAC system is equipped to keep the house warm without compromising functionality. Our maintenance saves you money, time, and energy costs in the long run by helping you avoid costly damages or the need to replace the unit(s). Exxel also specializes in assessing your energy use and home layout to provide the best solutions for HVAC performance and energy-saving strategies.

Contact Exxel Mechanical Services Today

Are you experiencing furnace and HVAC problems or are you concerned about the upcoming winter weather? We offer free consultations to examine your HVAC system and give you the best options for quality performance. Did we mention we also have flexible maintenance plans? Give us a call at (443) 821-1040 to get started!

Categories Furnace

Decking the Halls? Double Check These Indoor Fire and Heating Safety Tips for the Holiday Season

The holiday season is right around the corner! But before you deck the halls, make sure you’re following some basics for heating safety this season.

Unfortunately, the holiday season often comes with a spike in home fire incidents and injuries caused by unsafe furnace handling. The good news is that it’s very easy to keep your furnace and other heating systems safe while keeping your home warm for the winter months. Here are our top 3 heating system safety tips.

Tip 1: Give the Heating Systems Room!

Keep your furnace and the surrounding area clear, especially of flammable materials like paper, cardboard, or even the Christmas tree. The same goes for the fireplace. This means not stacking anything on top of the furnace or letting anything dangle too close to the fireplace.

A good rule of thumb is to keep any items or materials a couple of feet away from fixed and mobile heat sources (like heaters) to ensure a safe distance. The same goes for people. Orienting your household several feet away from the heat sources protects them from fire and fumes or smoke that might occur. Remind small children to avoid playing near heating systems and, if necessary, install a safety gate to keep anyone from getting too close.

Tip 2: Be Clean, Be Safe 

Any section of your home generating heat including the furnace, fireplace, mini-heaters, and even the washer and dryer should be kept clear and clean. Dust and debris are not only unpleasant to see, but can also cause safety risks.

Any grime present in complex HVAC systems like the furnace could disrupt the internal mechanisms and cause damage to the unit which could cause a fire hazard. Too much dust in the furnace unit also carries the risk of combusting as the unit generates heat. The same goes for the fireplace! For the dryer, you’ll want to clear out any lint thoroughly, especially as you’re creating a warmer atmosphere in the home because of the cold.

The best way to keep the furnace and other heat sources safe is to have these areas professionally cleaned. Besides cleaning for aesthetic appeal, our certified HVAC specialists at Exxel Mechanical Services deliver a thorough inspection and cleaning of furnace areas that pose the most risk of heating safety problems. Ventilation air filters are one example that should be cleared properly to ensure smooth operation and safe air quality, in addition to heating safety.

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Tip 3: Check for Carbon Monoxide Safety

When you’re working with a furnace, it’s critical that you make sure that your air quality is safe. The same sources of fire or home air quality discomforts can also be tied to carbon monoxide contamination.

Before you turn up the heat, have furnace specialists confirm that your furnace unit is operating safely and not producing carbon monoxide. This will also help prevent other risks to your heat safety.

Prepare for Fire and Heating Safety Now!

Regular and seasonal furnace maintenance is a cost-effective and proactive step that guarantees the safety and sustainability of your heating system. You also get the peace of mind that critical repairs have been implemented effectively before or in time for seasonal gatherings when you really need safe heating!

A healthy furnace makes a safe, warm home. Don’t wait for problems to get worse when you can easily correct problems and make sure your house is safe from any fire and heating issues. You’ll be able to use your furnace with true peace of mind!

Contact Exxel Mechanical Services Today

Are you experiencing problems with your heating system or concerned about the upcoming winter weather? We offer free consultations to examine your unit and give you the best options for quality HVAC performance. Did we mention we also have flexible maintenance plans? Give us a call at (443) 821-1040 to get started!

Categories Heating & Cooling Systems

What is the Life Expectancy of my HVAC System?

As the temperature dips, you may be wondering whether your HVAC system is ready for another winter. Maybe it seemed to be having difficulties in the heat this past summer and you aren’t sure how it’ll handle the ups and downs of the coming seasons.

Inevitably, every homeowner has to consider how long their HVAC system will actually last. Unfortunately, there’s no single answer to that question, since HVAC life expectancy can depend on several factors. However, there are ways to extend the life expectancy of your HVAC system, which will save you a lot of money in the long run and keep you comfortable too.

Is There a General Life Expectancy on My HVAC System?

Based on the specific unit you have, the manufacturer may include an estimated life expectancy. However, this is just an estimate. An overall estimate could be up to 15-20 years or more based on the model and use.

Keep in mind that each unit is unique in the sense that it will run and become fatigued based on your individual needs and home environment. These are just two factors that can actually decrease the life expectancy of the system.

This doesn’t account for accidents or miscellaneous component wear, or even environmental anomalies like harsh winter effects. Things can and do happen that will tax your HVAC unit to the point that it breaks down sooner than expected. Though in many cases, such damage can usually be repaired or even prevented through routine maintenance.

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HVAC Maintenance: the Key to Extending Your Unit’s Life Expectancy

Routine HVAC maintenance is a proven way to extend the life expectancy of your system. In addition to keeping your house safe, cool, and warm, you’ll find that you actually save money over time.

Regularly servicing your heating and cooling systems with trained professionals helps you stop minor wear or component issues from escalating into expensive problems. The last thing that you want is to replace an HVAC unit that you’ve only had for a few years due to a simple oversight!

Here are a few basic HVAC maintenance points to check regularly:

  • Clean or change air filters
  • Lubricate all motors and bearings (if necessary)
  • Tune-ups
  • Change refrigerant insulation whenever necessary
  • Check for worn bearings in all motors

HVAC maintenance is highly preventative in nature because it ensures that critical systems are working effectively so that the whole unit remains functional. And of course, your chosen HVAC Specialists are solving immediate mechanical problems affecting you in the present. Remember, it’s cheaper to maintain than it is to replace!

Repairs get more expensive if not addressed immediately to prevent further degradation. Take the time to ensure that your HVAC unit is properly maintained so that you can enjoy much better use out of the HVAC system as a whole.

 Extend the Life Expectancy of Your HVAC System with Exxel Mechanical Services

At Exxel Mechanical Services, we offer Silver and Gold plans to provide flexible pricing options and specific HVAC services for you to choose from. Not sure what your furnace or AC unit needs? All of our services come with a free inspection so we can fully evaluate your HVAC system(s) and provide the best solutions to keep your equipment running safely and effectively.

Get ahead of the cold and contact us today or give us a call at (443) 821-1040.