Categories Furnace

How to Choose the Best Furnace Repair Contractor

Maryland winters hit hard and fast when they arrive. This can be jarring, especially if your furnace isn’t functioning well. A poorly performing furnace requires highly skilled attention, and fast!

Matters of physical comfort aside, your house and family could be at risk of harm if mechanical issues in the furnace aren’t addressed properly. But how do you go about choosing an HVAC repair specialist?

Let’s look at the essentials for choosing the best furnace repair contractor.

Proper Accreditation

Homeowners should start with the bare minimum by making sure contractors meet the essential professional qualifications needed to work on your furnace. Furnace repair requires specialized technical HVAC training to be done properly and safely.

HVAC specialists must undergo training that covers residential and commercial requirements as well as industry standards. Trusting professionals without these basic skill sets is a major liability for your furnace and a poor investment of your money.

To get the quality furnace service you need, check that the companies you contact are equipped with the essential certifications and background. You also want to ensure that they’re up to date with any permits or certifications required by the state of Maryland.

A prospective contractor should be able to describe their credentials and produce evidence of their qualifications. If they are hesitant to discuss or produce these materials, look elsewhere!

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Reasonable Rates

Even though HVAC work is highly technical, you shouldn’t have to pay outrageous fees to have your furnace examined and/or repaired. At the same time though, below-average costs can indicate inexperience or cheapness in the operation.

Rule of thumb: cost-effective but not cheap is the way to go. Look for flexible pricing plans offered by your contractor. You should be able to pay for exactly what you need and not have to pay an outrageous sum for a minor fix, period.

Service providers like Exxel offer free inspections and consultations to give you a thorough analysis of any issues present, as well as solutions. This helps you avoid wasting time and money on ineffective fixes while making the whole process very transparent.

Environmentally Friendly

Furnaces can pose risks to the environment, but there are ways you can help to protect our environment. One way to do this is to ensure that you hire EPA Certified Technicians who are knowledgeable on how to prevent pollution hazards to nature and your home.

This not only protects the environment but also keeps you and your family safe from dangerous fumes and potential fires. The added benefit is that these technicians can help you save money by helping you reduce or eliminate excessive energy use. Additionally, environmentally focused repairs and equipment like these save you from more expensive HVAC repairs down the road.

Quality Products

If your furnace repairs require new parts and equipment, second-hand or cheap materials won’t do. New, up-to-standard products are what will allow the repairs to hold and prevent further breakdowns or other serious issues. Quality materials will also keep your furnace sustainable for years to come.

Make sure that your contractor guarantees that they only use new products and that they are the appropriate parts for your specific brand of furnace. Along with contractor accreditations, this is a major source of quality assurance for the furnace.

Good Reputation

Accreditations, skills, and equipment are all important, but a good reputation brings all of these aspects together. Look for honest reviews to see how other customers felt about the service provided. Have the heating repair contractors in question proven themselves to be seasoned experts, or have customers found them unprofessional and rude?

When talking with contractors, consider their soft skills too. Are they respectful and able to adequately explain the furnace issues and recommend solutions?

If you find yourself being pressured or feel as though you’re being overcharged, these are signs you may not be working with the most reputable contractor. If this is the case, look for a new contractor. Remember, you want to work with HVAC specialists who work for you, not for their sole benefit.

Contact Exxel Mechanical Services 

Are you experiencing furnace problems or concerned about the upcoming winter weather? Uncertain what’s wrong with your furnace? We offer free consultations to examine your unit and give you the best options for quality furnace performance. Give us a call at (443) 821-1040 to get started!

Categories Furnace

4 Ways to Compare a Heat Pump to a Furnace

It’s getting colder outside and you need an effective, cost-efficient means to keep the family warm. Most homeowners are torn over whether to get a furnace or use a heat pump.

As you might imagine, there are several factors to consider when deciding between a heat pump or furnace. Let’s compare the furnace and heat pump to help you determine which is the better option for you.

Here are some of the issues you should consider when choosing between a furnace and heat pump:

Climate and Location

Your physical location should be a major consideration in your choice between a heat pump or furnace. Furnaces tend to be better for areas that have longer, colder winters.

However, modern heat pumps are still effective and can be used in colder climates. Typically they are the most efficient in areas that don’t get as cold or that experience a shorter winter.

Gas vs Electricity

When you take a deeper look at the technology, heat pumps and furnaces operate quite differently because they rely on separate means to heat the home. A furnace uses natural gas as the heat source while gas pumps rely solely on electricity.

This difference tends to make heat pumps more cost-effective given that they are more energy-efficient. This also makes heat pumps a more environmentally friendly heating option.

While costs vary based on the weather in your local and your personal rate of consumption, you will likely pay more to operate a furnace because you must pay for the natural gas in addition to electricity. Bear in mind though, today’s high-efficiency furnaces use roughly 50% less energy than older models.

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Home Structure

You will also want to consider your personal temperature tolerances and how well your home is insulated. This is something you can discuss with your HVAC specialist to see which option would suit your needs the most cost-effectively.

Generally, if your home retains heat well and isn’t drafty, a heat pump will probably work just fine. If you have a larger home or have multiple people living in your home, a heavy-duty furnace might be a better fit.

Technology/Setup

Heat pumps are often easier and less expensive to install since their mechanics are not as complex as furnaces. Furnaces require a ventilation system and have more moving parts, so they tend to be more expensive to install.

Over time, a furnace requires more servicing to prevent and correct issues. While this may lead to a shorter lifespan when comparing a furnace with a heat pump, in a colder climate, gas furnaces are usually a better investment.

So: What’s the Best System for Your Setup?

Each system — furnace or heat pump — offers its own set of benefits and disadvantages: one system is not necessarily better than the other. The best way to compare the two is contingent on your individual needs.

Consider your options holistically. Start by simply thinking about which option best fits your lifestyle. You may want to discuss these options with family members to help you get a feel for your overall heating requirements. To help you make the most efficient and cost-effective decision, be sure to also consult with an experienced HVAC specialist.

At Exxel Mechanical Services, our experienced specialists are trained in both furnace and heat pump systems to help you narrow down which solution is best for your home. We carefully examine your house’s energy efficiency and physical features to present you with the best options. Additionally, we offer maintenance and repair services to keep your system in tip-top shape.

To get a custom heating recommendation, contact us today for a consultation!

Categories Furnace

Does Your Furnace Need to be Serviced if it’s Blowing Cold Air?

Returning home from the chilly outdoors, the last thing you expect from your furnace is cold air. While this isn’t an uncommon occurrence, it could indicate a couple of issues with your furnace, but it’s usually not dire. However, if cold air from the furnace persists, you may need to have your furnace serviced to correct the problem.

What does it mean if a furnace is blowing cold air?

Naturally, a furnace is designed to warm the house by pumping warmed air into the home to maintain a warm barrier from the cold outside of the home. Sometimes cold air is produced instead which can be caused by something as simple as the mechanisms just warming up or it could indicate that core components are incorrectly functioning. Let’s dive into what this cold air could indicate in your furnace and some ways you can deal with them.

Thermostat Setting

One of the simplest explanations of cold air production is that your furnace’s thermostat is set to ON. This makes the fan constantly blow air non-stop even as the furnace is working. Therefore, the furnace will blow cold air because the heat generation is being canceled out. This can easily be fixed by switching the fan to AUTO. This regulates the airflow in order for the furnace to generate heat and not have constant cool air circulation to contend with.

Warming up

It takes a little time for the furnace to generate heat. As the unit begins to work you may feel cool air from the vents instead of heat – but this is just the initial stage of the process. The air should heat up after a few minutes as the furnace mechanics generate warmth, but if it doesn’t, go ahead contact furnace specialists to get the unit looked at for internal problems.

Clogged Air Filter

When the furnace’s air filter is blocked with dust or other debris, it can inhibit the spread of warmth into your home. This can cause the unit itself to overheat instead of dispersing the warm air into your home, leaving you with only cool air that just escapes the blockage. This is also a major fire hazard. If this blockage continues, the heat and debris could combust, resulting in a fire spreading throughout the system and into the house itself. This is easily avoidable by thoroughly cleaning the filter system. You can take out and clean the filter yourself but sometimes it is helpful to have a furnace specialist, like Exxel Mechanical, service it for you and inspect the entire system. Not only will you get a more in-depth cleaning, we can identify whether there are additional problems with the overall furnace system.

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Pilot Light Issues

Cool air may be coming from the furnace simply because the pilot light is OFF. No pilot light, no burners, no heat. You can go in and manually switch the pilot light on by turning off the furnace (no heat), going to the bottom of the assembly switch, and turning the pilot light ON. If it’s on but not working, switch it to off, wait a few seconds, and then switch it on again. Carefully check to see if gas is flowing, then carefully light it with a lighter. If the gas flow is steady, you should be able to turn the heat on and get warm air. If this doesn’t work, or if you’re unsure about the process, seek professional help. Be careful and do not risk your safety.
If the furnace unit is only producing cold air, despite your minor fixes and adjustments, you need to seek professional furnace repair or routine servicing.

Seek Furnace Repair Servicing

Prolonged issues could lead to other problems down the road and could jeopardize your home’s safety as well as comfort. This could also be an indicator of other mechanical problems like a faulty circuit board, igniter failure, or more intensive issues. Remember, mechanical issues in the furnace can lead to fire or other safety hazards. Instead of stressing about this though, why not just ask HVAC professionals to take care of your technical problems? Besides ensuring long-lasting heat from your furnace, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that it’s functioning safely and correctly. Servicing your furnace will also preserve the unit for years to come, ensuring mechanicals issues are fixed before they turn into major, expensive problems.

At Exxel Mechanical Services, we offer our Furnace Silver and Furnace Gold plans provide flexible pricing options and specific furnace services for you to choose from. We also offer a free inspection to fully evaluate your furnace and provide the best solutions to keep your equipment running safely and efficiently. Contact us today or give us a call at (443) 821-1040.

Categories Furnace

What Does Furnace Servicing Do and How Often Do You Need It?

It’s easy to overlook heating while it’s still summer, but when fall and winter hit, will your furnace be ready? Just like your air conditioner, the constant use of your furnace over the years can generate some general wear or worse. The need for furnace repair is actually quite common leading into the cooler autumn period, as the system is restarted.

You can avoid the more expensive furnace repairs by simply having the furnace serviced to prolong the life of the unit.

What Does Furnace Servicing Do?

Furnace Servicing is a thorough process designed to keep the unit clean, functional, and most importantly, safe. Furnace maintenance has multiple layers to the procedure, involving highly specialized technical skills needed to identify potential issues and service the respective components. This can range from simple filter cleanings to lubricating the central components. Furnace servicing is quite thorough but here are just a few of the tasks involved:

  • Clean the vent and air filter system for leaks or blockages, removing dirt and grime.
  • Inspecting the blower access door to ensure a secure seal.
  • Clean and inspect pilot assembly, the thermocouple, and/or the flame sensing rod.
  • Check for cracks and other damages in the heat exchanger to prevent carbon monoxide contamination.
  • Inspect gas piping and valve operation.
  • Inspect duct connections.
  • Amp-draw testing on the blower motor to see if it is performing to unit specifications.
  • Examine the flame sensor for proper ignition smooth performance
  • Apply lubricant to the motor’s moving parts.
  • Ensure all electrical connections and wirings are secure and not at risk of corrosion or rust.
  • Confirm the unit’s safety measures are functioning properly.
  • Repair circuit board.
  • And more….

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Benefits of Furnace Servicing

Furnace servicing is important not only for keeping you and your home warm but also for preventing serious harm to your family and property. Because of its heating components, furnace technology does carry the risk of causing a fire if not maintained efficiently. Over time, lack of maintenance can increase the chance of the furnace mechanics breaking, which, coupled with the heat generation, could lead to a fire starting and spreading within the home. This can be caused by a combination of issues. For example, if dust is clogging up the flue, the heat from the generator can combust to start a fire and/or release poisonous fumes like carbon monoxide. The same mechanisms that keep your family warm can cause other serious issues if not treated, but this CAN be avoided with routine servicing.

Keeping furnace components lubricated, functional, and clean is vital to preventing both health hazards and more intensive damage. Additionally, having your furnace serviced also prolongs the life of your furnace overall, saving you up to $5,900 on a replacement furnace. And of course, your home will be warm and comfortable during the damp and cold periods of fall and winter.

Stay Cozy, Save Money, Maintain Your Furnace

Having your furnace serviced and maintained regularly can save you a lot of money and discomfort in the long run. Besides protecting your family from danger this is a great way to add value to your home. Whether you’re looking to sell your house or live in it for the long haul, this keeps the cold out and your expenses down.

At Exxel Mechanical Services, we offer our Furnace Silver and Furnace Gold plans to provide flexible pricing options and specific furnace services for you to choose from. Not sure what your furnace needs? All our services come with a free inspection so we can fully evaluate your furnace 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.

Categories Heating & Cooling Systems

Air Conditioner Science: Do Air Conditioners Bring in Fresh Air From Outside?

The science behind air conditioners is fascinating, yet most consumers don’t actually know how it works. The internal mechanics of the air conditioning unit dictate not only how it functions, but also gives you insight on how to maximize your equipment for the best experience possible. Want to keep your air conditioner in top shape? First aim to understand how the air conditioner manipulates the atmosphere within your home.

Do Air Conditioners Bring in Fresh Air from Outside?

The way an air conditioner cools the air in your home is not achieved by moving cool air into the house, as most people think. Instead, air conditioners work by moving unwanted heat outside of the vicinity. This is done by the compressor in the unit which literally pumps the hot air away. The process of moving heat is referred to as thermo dynamics. The compressor is aided by the air conditioner refrigerant system which simultaneously cools the house and preserves the desired temperature.

What’s the Role of the Air Conditioner’s Refrigerant?

While the compressor pumps out heat, the refrigerant performs a more complicated process of thermodynamics – called the refrigerant cycle – that revolves around pressure and temperature change. The refrigerant itself is a fluid substance that is circulated by the compressor to cool hot air in a way that the heat doesn’t rise in the home. Essentially, the refrigerant captures and holds the hot air, then cools the house by converting the hot air into vapor or liquid. This liquid is then forced into the evaporator coil, or cooling compartment. After that, the liquid is then expelled outside of the unit as a low-pressure gas. The process repeats as needed to combat increasing temperatures and humidity. Let’s look at a breakdown of this cycle:

  1. The heat is circulated into the air conditioner unit by the compressor and is then passed to the refrigerant.
  2. The refrigerant absorbs the hot air, making its own temperature increase.
  3. Hot air is moved outside and remains there as the compressor and refrigerant work to evaporate the heat.
  4. The refrigerant then cools as the warm air dissipates and is expelled as vapor.
  5. The other air conditioner components distribute this cooling affect throughout the house and the space is cooled.

If we think about a sweating athlete, it’s a similar concept. The heat built up by exercise and internal body mechanics but is then cooled by sweat outside of the body. Of course, the liquid and residual condensation generated by this process is all contained in the air conditioner unit. If there is leaking in the home, then the conditioner needs repair.

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Benefits of Air Conditioner Maintenance

This technology is pretty efficient, but it isn’t impervious to the general wear and tear of everyday life. The general lifespan and maintenance requirements can vary depending on your air conditioner’s model, but you should always be mindful of its performance. Even something as simple as a rattling sound could indicate a loose coil or damaged compressor that needs to be repaired. Leaking can indicate that the refrigerant fluid needs to be replaced as well. And there are several other signs of air conditioner may need repairs or replacement.

To keep your house cool and avoid more costly repair fees, get your air conditioner looked at sooner rather than later. Allowing damages to continue, could force you to pay up to $12K or more to replace the unit entirely. Save yourself the time, headache, and discomfort of this by working with HVAC specialists to get the help you need.

At Exxel Mechanical Services, we’re committed to the safety, quality, performance of your air conditioner to give you the most value from your unit as possible. Please contact us  today to hear about our flexible maintenance plans providing regular, cost-effective services or call us today for a consultation at (443) 821-1040.