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 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 at warming the home, but if your furnace is improperly maintained or damaged, your indoor air quality can suffer. This can pose several risks to you 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 Heating System 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, it is important to have HVAC specialists inspect your heating system 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 carbon monoxide 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. Our fully certified HVAC professionals at Exxel Mechanical Services can ensure that your CO detector is installed and functioning correctly. Don’t take a gamble with your family’s health!

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It is also imperative that you know the signs of CO poisoning in your house’s air quality. You should seek medical attention immediately if you, your loved ones, and/or pets are experiencing a sudden onset of the following symptoms:

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

Contact trained furnace specialists should also be contacted 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 heating system 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 HVAC repair; 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 to break 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. You’ll be able to use your furnace with true peace of mind!

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

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.