Categories hvac contracts, HVAC maintenance, hvac service plan

Are HVAC Maintenance Service Contracts Worth the Money?

A maintenance service contract is a common offering from HVAC companies when installing or servicing HVAC systems. Since you never know if you’ll have issues with your HVAC system, and repairs can be costly, service contracts can be like having an insurance plan for your HVAC system. Service contracts often include periodic or seasonal maintenance, discounted parts, inclusive emergency repairs, and priority service in times of emergency. But is a service contract worth it?

Ask the tough questions

When considering a service contract, be sure to ask your HVAC company exactly what is included in the contract, and then compare these features against the non-contract fees for servicing or emergency repairs (including parts) for your specific HVAC system. Some contracts can cost as little as $150 a year, others are more expensive but offer more. The cost vs. services included analysis is a good place to start. 

Next, ask your HVAC professional specific questions to make sure you completely understand what services you are receiving with the maintenance service contract.

Relevant questions may include:

  • Does the service contract cover seasonal maintenance only, or does it also cover emergency visits or as-needed repairs? 
  • What does a routine maintenance visit entail? 
  • What is covered specifically– for example, parts and labor for tune up visits only or are these included for emergency services as well?
  • What is the typical cost of repairs for my HVAC system? 
  • What is a typical emergency repair or issue for HVAC systems in my area? 

Conducting an informed costs, benefits, and risks analysis for your unique situation will help you make a decision that not only makes sense but also makes you feel good about your decision.

The benefits

One of the biggest benefits in opting for a service contract is the money saving aspect, should you require an unexpected HVAC repair. However, an additional benefit is the fact that a maintenance service contract guarantees you will take better care of your HVAC system. Why? Because having clean air filters and nipping any issues in the bud with a routine maintenance check are a couple of the best ways to save money through energy efficiency or preventing a total HVAC emergency repair or even replacement. 

At Exxel Mechanical Services we always stress to our clients that taking care of an HVAC system will make it more energy efficient and last longer, which saves you money in the long run. 

If you have a spacious house with a large HVAC system, if you don’t enjoy performing routine maintenance to your HVAC system yourself, if potential cost savings is important to you… an annual service contract could be a great option for you. 

Call us

Give us a call! Our experienced team can discuss our different offerings with you, and we will be happy to see if a service contract seems like the right move for you. 
Exxel Mechanical Services serves a 30-mile radius of Winfield, Maryland, serving Westminster, Owings Mills, and Frederick. Our reputation in this area precedes us, as we pride ourselves on placing our customer as our highest priority. Call us today at (443) 821-1040, and it would be our pleasure to see how we can help you.

Categories Heating & Cooling Systems, hvac system

How to Choose the Right HVAC system for your home

You might think HVAC systems are one-size-fits-all. But choosing the right HVAC system for your home can depend on many different things. This article discusses factors like the size of your home, the climate where you live, your desires for energy efficiency, and type of system when considering a new HVAC system for your home.

Size of your home

Home size is extremely important in choosing the right HVAC system. A bigger system does not necessarily translate to higher efficiency, and often can lead to issues like using too much energy or excess of humidity in the air inside the home. 

Calculating the “cooling load” includes multiple factors and measurements which determine as accurately as possible the right size HVAC to cool your home. This measurement should be determined by professionals only. If you have the right size HVAC system, you will have better control over the temperature and excess humidity, a lower energy bill, and more effective heating and cooling cycles. If your system is too large, aside from taking up space and costing more to maintain and repair, you will certainly have higher energy bills, and heating and cooling cycles that are not efficient for the space.

Another issue that can occur specifically with cooling systems that are too large is higher humidity due to air being cooled off quickly but moisture remaining in the air. If you can perceive the humidity, this may cause you to turn the temperature even lower, or, in some cases, you might not notice the humidity, causing mold and mildew to grow in your home and HVAC unit. 

A system that is too small causing it to continually run to maintain the desired temperature can result in higher bills. It’s also possible that you’ll never achieve the level of comfort you are looking for if your system is too small for the space it is supposed to heat or cool. 

When it comes to HVAC systems, bigger is not better. When upgrading your HVAC system, it’s best to have a professional assist you in deciding on the perfect size system for your home. 

Climate

When you think about the sheer difference in temperatures between northern and southern states, especially during the winter months, it makes sense that different HVAC systems are better depending on where you live. Systems are designated as efficient for the “U.S. South,” for example, and different ratings are considered efficient depending on the area in which you live. 

In the deep south, heat pumps without a backup source of heat are a good option, because they are the most efficient and temperatures rarely if ever drop low enough to create issues for your system. In Maryland and other mid-Atlantic or in-between states, you might consider a variety of options, with a heat pump and backup heat source probably being the most efficient energy source. In the Northeast and other states that get very hot and very cold, you might consider a system that includes both a furnace and an air conditioner. 

Additionally, things like cost to install and maintain, size of your home, and ductwork in your home also impact your choice. Read on for more information about energy efficiency and types of systems. 

Energy efficiency: monthly bills & rebates  

If you are updating your furnace, consider the Average Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating and the air handler type. The AFUE rating tells you how much of the fuel is directed to heating your home. The higher rating number equals the more efficient the system. Furnaces can be up to 98.5% efficient. 

If you are updating your air conditioner, consider the energy efficiency rating or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). 

Another thing to consider if replacing any part of your HVAC system is the air handler type you have or are considering buying. Air handlers move air around, and include single-state, two-stage, and variable speed. Single-state air handlers are the least efficient as they only operate on one speed, while two-stage air handlers are slightly more efficient. Two-stage air handlers run at full capacity when you need it, and have a “low” speed, requiring less energy, for other times. Variable speed air handlers are the most efficient because they adjust as needed to keep your home’s temperature stable using the least amount of energy of all the air handler types. 

If you are completely renovating your home, including the entire HVAC system, a heat pump which handles both heating and cooling is the most energy efficient option. For Maryland residents or homeowners living in an area that freezes more often during the cold months, you would want to either have a backup heat source or ensure you have the newer, cold climate air source heat pumps. Heat pumps are rated by Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF), with ratings of seven, eight or greater considered the best performing heat pumps. 

Energy stars are another way to tell if a furnace, heat pump, or air conditioner is energy efficient, which also vary by different locations with different climates. 

Choosing a thermostat can also impact how efficiently your system performs, with digital and programmable thermostats outperforming traditional analog thermostats. If you choose a digital thermostat, you will have more control over the temperature stability and speed of increasing or decreasing the temperature in your home. In terms of energy efficiency, a programmable thermostat allows you to program your system to change the temperature over time and ultimately can reduce your energy consumption and bills.

There are also rebates and discounts you can get for buying energy efficient systems. See our article (LINK) about rebates offered in Maryland. 

Type of system

You can choose between packaged, split, split ductless, or geothermal systems. 

Packaged systems are less efficient but are a good choice for smaller spaces. The unit does its heating and cooling from one system and might include a gas furnace and air conditioner, a heat pump, or a heat pump with a backup heat source. These are not the most energy efficient systems and the units are kept outside. 

A standard split is the most common system and includes a furnace and air conditioner, or an air handler and a heat pump, or a furnace and a heat pump. This type of system requires ductwork and space to house multiple units. Because you use the ducts already in your home and can use different parts, it tends to be the easiest and cheapest option, although there are a range of efficiency levels. 

Split ductless systems are common and good if you do not have any ductwork and want to easily change the temperature in different rooms. They do, however, require more space to house separate AC and heating units. While they are energy efficient, these can be more expensive and have less ability to heat below freezing.

Geothermal systems are the most energy efficient, transferring heating and cooling from the ground, though their cost is up to five times to other types of systems. Your energy bill will be greatly reduced, but the upfront cost will be greater. 

Call us

Exxel Mechanical serves a 30-mile radius of Winfield, Maryland, serving Westminster, Owings Mills, and Frederick. Our reputation in this area precedes us, as we pride ourselves on placing our customer as our highest priority. This means we not only care about saving you money, but we also care about your safety. If you think you have an HVAC emergency, call us immediately and we will send someone out to check on your HVAC system! 

Call (443) 821-1040 or email bob@exxelmechanical.com

Categories Heating & Cooling Systems, Uncategorized

Tips to save money on your new HVAC system

Buying and installing a new HVAC system is a daunting expense and investment no matter how necessary or worthy it might be. Depending on your reason for getting a new HVAC system, it may or may not be the best financial season for this big purchase. As we all know, sometimes your HVAC system must be replaced as a matter of safety. In the hottest and coldest months, you need a dependable system–often it’s simply not an option to wait it out for more affordable timing.

As an Exxel Mechanical customer, you’ll have several financing and rebate options to consider as you face replacing your HVAC system. Check out these options below: 

Financing

At Exxel Mechanical, we love to assist our customers who desire financing with a perfect option for their new HVAC system. As a partner of Foundation Finance, we can offer financing same-as-cash value up to $75,000 for a year, or a fixed rate for up to 12 years (dependent upon the buyer’s credit score). If you are interested in pre-approval for one of these options, you can follow this link to fill out an online form.  

Rebates 

Rebates are another great way to save on a new HVAC system in Maryland. As we provide service in Winfield, Maryland, Frederick, Westminster, Owings Mills, and the surrounding areas, we want our customers to be aware of the specific Maryland programs that offer rebates for energy efficient systems.

The BGE Smart Savers Program and the Potomac Edison Empower Maryland programs offer $300 rebates for electric central air conditioners with at least 16 SEER and 13 EER, and $500 rebates for electric central air conditioners with at least 18 SEER and 13 EER. 

The programs also offer rebates for heat pumps: provide $400 for electric air source heat pumps with at least 16 SEER, 13 EER, and 9 HSPF; $650 for electric air source heat pumps with at least 18 SEER, 13 EER, and 9.5 HSPF; and $1,500 for geothermal heat pumps with at least 17.1 EER and 3.6 COP. 

If these descriptions of SEER, EER, HSPF, and COP levels are like Greek to you– don’t worry. Our professionals at Exxel Mechanical can explain anything about an HVAC system that interests you. The bottom line is: if you are purchasing a new HVAC system, choosing a more energy efficient system will not only save you money on your monthly bills, but can also  provide a great opportunity to save money up front through a rebate. 

Saving you money

After securing your safety and that of your family’s, saving you money, and getting you the most value for your dollar is Exxel Mechanical’s priority. Call us today at (443) 821-1040 and ask how you can save on your new HVAC system. 

Categories Heating & Cooling Systems, HVAC replacement

When is the best time of year to replace my HVAC system?

We suggest you not break up with your sweetheart before Valentine’s Day. We also think getting a flat tire the night before a road trip is ill-advised. 

And to anyone going through HVAC system issues in the dead of summer or winter, we obviously do not recommend an HVAC system replacement during those times of year. You’ll not only be in dire need of said HVAC system; but also HVAC companies are at their busiest during these times. 

Of course you can’t always choose when you’ll have to replace your HVAC system. But, if you’re taking the proper maintenance measures, (link to how to avoid emergency HVAC repair article) you’ll know what shape your HVAC system is in, and hopefully avoid an emergency repair or replacement. 

Do I need to replace my HVAC system?

HVAC systems typically need to be replaced between 10 and 20 years old. With regular maintenance you can extend the life of your HVAC system, but it’s also true that older systems are simply less efficient and may be costing you more to run. If your energy bills are high, you are continuing to put money into your system with repairs, or you’re facing an especially expensive repair, these may be signs it’s time to replace your entire system.

What time of year should I replace my HVAC system?

If you’ve reached a juncture where your HVAC system has been needing many repairs recently, or you know it’s old and will need to be replaced sooner rather than later, it’s best to plan ahead. An HVAC replacement in early or mid-fall, when temperatures are moderate and you’re less likely to need your HVAC system, is ideal. Additionally, by planning ahead, you won’t be in a desperate situation when working with different companies and getting quotes. 

Schedule a visit with one of our professionals or call for a quote! 

If you give us a call, we can help you get some clarity on your situation by sending one of our professionals at Exxel Mechanical to check out your system. They can advise if you need a full replacement or if there is a simpler repair that can extend the life of your system. If you already know your system needs to be replaced, we’ll be happy to give you a quote or schedule a time– perhaps in the fall or spring– to get that entire system overhaul you need.

Categories Heating & Cooling Systems

5 Benefits of Having Your HVAC System Serviced Every Year

The heating and air conditioning systems in your home are a critical part of how you stay comfortable and safe throughout the snowy winters and hot summers. Without a properly functioning HVAC system, you could be wasting money, putting yourself in danger of extended HVAC downtime and be unnecessarily uncomfortable in your own home. Exxel Mechanical Services provides homeowners with expert HVAC preventative maintenance and service that comes with many different benefits. What are some of the benefits of having your HVAC system serviced?

1.    Lower Energy Bills

One of the biggest benefits of having your HVAC system serviced is lower energy bills. A steep energy bill or one that suddenly spikes is often a sign that you need to complete repairs or have maintenance performed. When an HVAC system is not running efficiently, it can cost you a great deal over the course of the year. Preventative maintenance helps to catch problems before you might notice them yourself and avoid wasting unnecessary energy at your home.

2.    Fewer Repairs

An HVAC system that is properly maintained will help you to avoid both minor and major repairs. One of the most expensive things that can happen to you is your air conditioner suddenly breaking down during a heat wave or your heater breaking in the middle of a snowstorm. Serious, emergency repairs can cost far more than ongoing preventative maintenance. Investing in having your HVAC system serviced will mean catching many problems before they are allowed to fester and cost you more in the end.

3.    Prolonged Lifespan

HVAC systems are a serious investment, even if you chose a more affordable option. One of the best ways to extend the lifespan of your heating or air conditioning system and ensure that your investment goes as far as possible is by having your HVAC system serviced. A system that is in good repair and cleaned regularly will run as efficiently as it is capable of, which can prevent serious issues that might cause the entire system to malfunction and shut down.

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4.    Safety Matters

Tragically, some homes catch on fire and have serious accidents due to heating systems that are broken or in disrepair every year. Beyond physical damage to the home, furnaces can also lead to carbon monoxide poisoning in rare cases. One of the most important roles that the trustworthy technicians at Exxel Mechanical Services can provide is serving as a safety inspector to make sure that your unit is safe and not a health hazard. Regardless of what type of HVAC system you have, using a carbon monoxide detector and smoke detector near your unit is a must. You should also rely on regular appointments to have your HVAC system serviced to catch smaller safety issues that could turn into serious hazards.

5.    Preserve Your Warranty Protection

Did you know that some HVAC manufacturers require proof that you did due diligence in maintaining the unit before they will allow repair claims to be submitted in accordance with the warranty? The manufacturer wants to know that you made an honest effort to take preventative care of the unit before they foot the bill for the issue. If you want to make sure that your warranty remains active for as long as possible, you should have your HVAC system serviced. It’s always important to read your warranty and understand the specific terms so that you know what your obligation might be under the warranty.

What Things Does a Tune-Up Include?

Exxel Mechanical Services offers a comprehensive tune-up that can pinpoint issues and ensure that everything is working smoothly. Depending on the type of system that you own, the steps that are taken could vary a great deal. Some of the services that you might receive during a tune-up include:

  • Lubricating the motors, gears and other parts
  • Cleaning the outdoor coils
  • Removing any debris from the exterior of the unit
  • Changing and cleaning filters
  • Inspecting ventilation systems and ductwork for signs of leakage
  • Testing all electrical connections
  • Testing temperature control and airflow throughout the interior of your home
  • Checking refrigerant levels
  • Troubleshooting any refrigerant leaks
  • Inspecting the interior and exterior units
  • Inspecting the heat exchanger
  • Checking all connections on gas and oil lines
  • Testing carbon monoxide levels
  • Inspecting and clean the burner
  • Testing the ignition system
  • Testing the exhaust system
  • Verifying and alter the gas pressure as needed
  • Examining the thermostat to ensure efficacy and recalibrating it to ensure accuracy
  • Evaluating the pilot and gas pressure in your furnace system
  • Completing a written assessment documenting any issues and recommending any necessary repairs
  • Checking the clearance around the exterior and interior equipment
  • Assessing all safety controls
  • Measuring voltage and amperage
  • Examining and clean the flower
  • Examining and clean the condenser and evaporator coils
  • Discussing any concerns that you have noticed and come up with a plan to prevent issues in the future
  • Providing maintenance documentation that you can use if you do need to make a claim against the warranty on your HVAC system
  • Scheduling regular service reminders that will make sure that you never forget when you need to have your HVAC system serviced again

Where Can I Find a Company to Get My HVAC System Serviced?

Exxel Mechanical Services is here to support all of our residential and commercial clients and keep their HVAC systems in excellent condition. We are a leader in helping homeowners who want to keep their HVAC systems in peak condition, improve their energy efficiency and prevent future costly issues. If you are interested in learning more about our maintenance, were are always here to help. 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.