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 Furnace

You may be wondering if your furnace is working when you come in from the cold and the inside of your home hardly seems warm, or you’re feeling slightly chilled. 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 the furnace in colder temperatures. This causes the internal mechanisms to wear out and ultimately break, which can result in costly furnace 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 work harder just to compensate for drafts that bring the frigid air indoors.

The more the furnace 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! 

Dress for the Season

One of the simplest and easiest ways to promote smart HVAC usage in 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, like 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 forecast cold. 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!

Working with certified professionals like Exxel helps you ensure that your HVAC system is equipped to keep the house warm without compromising functionality. Our maintenance also 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). Excel also specializes in assessing your energy use and home layout to provide the best solutions for HVAC performance and energy-saving strategies. 

Are you experiencing furnace and HVAC problems or concerned about the upcoming winter weather? We offer free consultations to examine your system 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 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 areas safe while keeping your home warm for the cool months. Here are our top 3 heating safety tips.

Tip 1: Give the Heating Areas 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 sources 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 they can also cause safety risks.

Any grime present in complex mechanical devices 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, certified HVAC specialists like Exxel deliver a thorough inspection and cleaning of furnace areas that pose the most risk of heating safety problems. For example, your ventilation air filters should definitely be cleared properly to ensure smooth operation and safe air quality, in addition to heating safety.

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 fully 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 furnace. You also get the peace of mind that critical repairs have been implemented effectively before or on time for seasonal gatherings when you really need safe heating!  

A healthy furnace makes a healthy, 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. When you’re all warm inside, you’ll be able to use your furnace with true peace of mind! 

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. 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 actually pretty unique in the sense that it will run and be strained according to your individual needs and home environment. These are just two factors that can actually decrease the life expectancy of the system.

Of course, 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. 

HVAC maintenance: the key to extending your unit’s life expectancy

Routine HVAC servicing 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 AC or furnace units 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!

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. 

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 this ensures that critical systems are working effectively so that the whole unit is 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!

Extend the life expectancy of your HVAC system with Exxel
At Exxel Mechanical Services, we offer our 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 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

Categories Furnace, Indoor Air Quality

How Your Furnace Affects Indoor Air Quality

It’s nice to be warm — but it’s also nice to be able to breathe securely in your own home! Furnaces are very efficient in warming the home, but if your furnace is improperly maintained or damaged, your indoor air quality can suffer. This can pose several risks to your and your loved ones’ health.

However, a healthy, well-maintained furnace will keep you warm and healthy! Here’s how you can manage the health of your furnace and protect your indoor air quality. 

Does my furnace negatively affect indoor air quality? 

It’s true: a furnace can lower your air quality if it’s improperly maintained and/or damaged. The impacts of this can range from minor air contaminants to life-threatening issues. 

While it’s not necessarily life-threatening, one common issue with furnaces is pollen and dust accumulation and circulation. This is usually caused by a dirty or outdated air filter in the furnace.

Basic furnace maintenance provides an easy fix, as the filter can be professionally cleaned or replaced to restore freshness in your home. If you or your family suffer from allergies, you will want to get HVAC specialists in before the cold temperatures set in and you need more heat from your unit. Aside from preventing discomfort and possible illness, this maintenance can prevent other, more serious risks to your air quality.

One of the biggest dangers a furnace can pose to your air quality is carbon monoxide (CO) contamination. Because some furnace types rely on gas and combustion to produce heat, CO is a potential byproduct of the unit doing its job.

Unfortunately, CO is tasteless, colorless, and void of odor. This is why — if your furnace is combustion-based — it’s critical that you have a CO detector implemented as soon as possible. Having a properly-installed CO detector is the only way to know for certain whether your air quality is safe. Ensure that CO detector is correctly installed by fully certified HVAC professionals like Exxel. Don’t take a gamble with your family’s health! 

While we’re on the topic, it’s imperative that you know the signs of CO poisoning in your house’s air quality. If you, your loved ones, and/or pets are experience a sudden onset of the following symptoms: 

  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Loss of coordination
  • Vomiting

seek medical attention immediately!

Then, contact trained furnace specialists to assess the situation. CO contamination requires trained professionals to resolve safely, so don’t try to resolve the issue yourself —just get to safety.

Remember, a properly working furnace doesn’t pose a risk to your home’s air quality, so keeping the unit maintained is definitely a good investment.

Signs of Furnace Issues 

If your air quality seems off, take a moment to listen to the furnace itself. If you hear rattling, this probably indicates loose or broken components that could damage or clog the air filter.

If the atmosphere feels heavy, this can also indicate that the air filter in the furnace is blocked and needs repair and/or cleaning. Additionally, strange or unpleasant smells, particularly ones that spread throughout the house, can indicate mechanical problems. A smoking furnace is a clear indicator you need repairs; these fumes can also impair health.

Any mechanical issues that occur in the unit will be accelerated due to furnace construction. Individual components constantly work together to create heat, making it easy for damaged sections breaking other sections of the unit. When this happens, your air quality will suffer. You can avoid air quality problems, including CO contamination, by simply keeping your furnace maintained. 

Healthy Furnace = Good Air Quality 

A healthy furnace makes a healthy, warm home. Don’t wait for problems to get worse when you can easily correct the problems. In addition to saving you money on repairs, this is a major safety precaution for the whole family. When you’re all warm inside, you’ll be able to use your furnace with true peace of mind!  

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

How to Choose the Best Furnace Repair Contractor

Maryland winters hit and 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 a furnace 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 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 servicing 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 par 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!

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 of 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 repairs down the road.

Sells Only 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 using 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 these aspects together. Look for honest reviews to see how other customers felt about the service provided. Have the furnace repair contractors in question proven themselves to be seasoned experts, or have customers found them unprofessional and rude? 

When talking with contractors, consider at 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 overcharged, these are signs you may not be working with the most reputable contractors. 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. 

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!