Homeowners Guide to Heating and Cooling

AccuTemp's Heating and Cooling Tips for HVAC

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As spring approaches, there a few things you should consider doing for the sake of your home. Some of it may cost you a little up front but will save you more in the long run. Your home is an investment and in order to maintain the value, there are things you must take care of every year. It’s an ongoing project but it’s well worth it.

If you see mold, stains or dirt on the exterior of your home, rent a pressure washer or hire a professional to remove it. Surfaces other than concrete or stone should be only be pressure washed after you have consulted a professional on the matter. Not all surfaces can handle the pounds of pressure that a pressure washer provides.

Wash your windows on the inside and outside. Not only will it look nicer but this may expose spots that will need to be covered with a glazing compound to properly seal the window with the frame. Overtime, dirt can build up in openings and disguise them as being sealed. These a little areas where air escapes your home.

Repair sidewalks and driveway. In some cases, you can do this yourself. Not only will you be making a safer space to walk and drive but you’ll be making your home look better. Lowe’s has great articles on how to repair a driveway or sidewalk with specific issues.

Keep your basement dry. Moisture can build up in your basement and cause mold and mildew. Depending on the circumstances in your home, you may need a dehumidifier. It also helps to run a fan on low constantly. If your furnace is in your basement, you especially want the air to be dry. Moisture constantly being sucked into your blower and pushed through your home is bad for the parts inside your furnace and creates an oasis for mold growth within your ducts.

Reseal your deck. This will reduce the risk of warped boards and a possible deck replacement in the future. Damaged boards on a deck pose a hazard for anyone standing on it. The worse case scenario would be a collapsing deck. Be sure to inspect the beams and all boards regularly. Replace rotting, cracked or otherwise dangerous looking parts as needed.

Have a professional check your air conditioner. The job of the technician is to inspect your system and ensure that everything is working properly. They lubricate moving parts, check the amps on motors and check the refrigerant charge. They make necessary adjustments and change your air filter. This will help to prevent breakdowns during the hot summer months and will save you money long term.

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After the odd winter we just had, investing a little time on preventative measures throughout your home can save you money long term. The tasks are both indoors and outdoors. In this edition we'll go over the indoor portion.

First, check all of your electrical. Throughout the year, we tend to get new devices which need to be plugged in. Since we need more than two outlets in a particular spot, we end up with electrical strips. While this is ok, you should inspect all of these cords and plugs every three months. Frayed cords and loose outlets pose a fire hazard. Having too many things pulling amperage from one outlet can pose the same hazard. Be sure to check your fuse box as well. Make sure there are no scorch marks near any of them. If you do see these marks, call your electrician immediately. There is a long list of things that can cause this and all of them are dangerous.

Next, visually inspect your water heater. Do you notice any corrosion or leaks? It only gets worse from there so, go ahead and call a plumber before the bottom of your water heater falls out and floods your basement. To ensure that this doesn't happen to you, be careful what you store around your water heater. Avoid storing items such as bleach, ammonia and other corrosive products near the water heater. Your water heater pulls air in for combustion. If your water heater is sucking in corrosive air, your water heater may fail prematurely. A closed in space is just as bad. If your water heater must be in a closet, make sure the door to it is louvered. Not doing so is like sticking your head in a plastic bag and expecting to be able to breathe well.

The third step is the easiest for you. All you have to do is pick up the phone and call 770-672-6963. From there, schedule a technician to come out and perform a tuneup on your air conditioner. When he arrives, he will check your air conditioner for safety, proper operation, refrigerant levels, proper amperage, blower operation and change your air filter. This will help to prevent any breakdowns that may have surfaced during the upcoming summer. If you do this every year you will extend the life of your air conditioner by many years. For safety reasons, you may add on dryer vent service. A build up in the vent can lead to fire.

Next, check the batteries in your smoke detectors. Replace any that a getting low. This is a good time to check your fire extinguishers for proper operation too. The pressure gauge should be in the "green" range. If these aren't located in convenient areas such as your kitchen, go ahead and place them there. The last thing you want is a kitchen fire when your fire extinguisher is in the basement.

Check your windows and doors for leaks if you haven't done so in the last year. The easiest way to do this is to light an incense stick and slowly trace windows and doors. Watch the smoke. If there's a lot of movement in specific spots, you likely have a leak. You can seal the frame with caulk. In the event that the actual window has become detached from the muntin, reseal with putty glaze. Add weatherstripping where worn or missing. It's common for leaks to occur underneath doors. To rectify this, add a door sweep.

Stay tuned for the exterior edition!

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We’re currently living in the DIY age. Everyone wants to tackle everything themselves. This is understandable considering what the last 10 years has looked like for us. Unfortunately, some things that people are doing themselves can’t legally or safely be done themselves. This includes HVAC systems. In order to replace a furnace or air conditioner, you must obtain a building permit. Failure to do so will result in a fine if you are caught and you would still have to have the system installed by a licensed professional.

Now that you know you need a building permit to replace your system, you’re probably wondering how to obtain one. First, do you have an HVAC license? If the answer is no, you cannot obtain a building permit. The state has these laws in place due to the potential for fatal mistakes. An improperly installed furnace could lead to carbon monoxide build up or a burnt down house.

A lot of the time when we’re proposing a new system for someone, they see that we permit our jobs and become hesitant for various reasons. Most of the time it’s due to something the homeowner has done in the past that they don’t want an inspector to see. I want to put your mind as ease on this. We permit the HVAC portion of the job and that’s all we schedule an inspection for once the job is complete. The inspector has a long list of homes he must inspect each day for proper installation. He is there to look at what we replaced and nothing else. He has one job and that’s all he’s there to do. Don’t concern yourself with that water heater you replaced yourself 5 years ago, he’s not there to look at that.

Once a customer has signed the proposal for the installation of a new furnace or air conditioner, we research and find out which city or county handles your home. After we obtain that information, we must submit an application and fee to the city or county to obtain a building permit. We contact the customer to schedule an inspection once the job is complete. The building inspector comes out, insures that the proposed piece of equipment was installed properly and then they let us know the job has passed.

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These days, everyone claims to know how to do everything. There are thousands of how-to YouTube videos for anything under the sun. While this is fantastic for simple things, there are many repairs you should leave to the professionals. This will actually save you money in the long run. It may not seem that way at first but sometimes there are small things that you NEED to know to keep from making a big costly mess.

When it comes to plumbing, unless you’re just changing a faucet or shower head, you should leave this part to the professionals. If there is a place for water to escape, it will. This can mean thousands in water damage. If you’re still convinced that you can reroute your hot water line, remember this probably requires a blow torch and welding skills.

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Leave your electricity alone. You can probably handle something small such as changing an outlet but when it comes to the bigger projects, call an electrician. Electricity is tricky and one tiny mistake may lead to a burnt down house. A lot of electrical projects require a permit. Unless you are a licensed electrician, you won’t be able to obtain one.

Skip trying to repair your own roof. Although changing  a shingle or two doesn’t seem like the biggest task, it really is. You have to be able to carry all your tools and supplies up a ladder and then manage to not fall off of the roof. Those that do this for a living have special shoes and plenty of practice to help keep them up there. In addition to the risk, if you don’t repair your roof properly, you could end up with extensive water damage. Your insurance company isn’t likely to cover an issue that you created.

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Avoid repairing anything with a gas line. Gas is like water, if there’s a place to escape, it will find it. This can lead to a build up of carbon monoxide, one of the silent killers. Appliances which often use gas include stoves, water heaters, dryers, furnaces and fireplaces. If you aren’t sure if yours has a gas line, it’s better to not mess with it.

If you are experiencing problems with your HVAC system, give us a call. We recommend this for safety reasons and well as time saving reasons. You can attempt to diagnose your HVAC system but if you don’t have knowledge of the system, you may never find the problem. Our technicians have special tools to measure volts, amps and freon.

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These days, it’s commonly known that pesticides are bad for most living things including people, insects and plants. Take summer 2016 for example, we had the Zika virus scare. Due to the scare, there were companies spraying chemicals into our air to kill the mosquitoes possibly carrying the virus. This resulted in a rapidly decreasing honey bee population which was already dying off due to other pesticides. This chemical landed these bees on the endangered species list. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to breathe anything in that has put anything on the endangered species list.

The first thing you need to bug proof your home is to inspect all doors and windows. Inspect the frames carefully. You may notice tiny openings. These are bug entrances and need to be sealed. You can usually use weather stripping or caulk, depending on the application, to seal these areas. For larger openings, use insulating foam such as Great Stuff. If you find a large gap at the bottom of your door, attach a threshold. You may also need to combine this with a door sweep.

Next, if you plan to have any doors or windows open this spring or summer, be sure to inspect screens and make sure there are no holes. You may need to replace screens. They sell rolls of screen at home improvement stores. You need to have screen doors installed on doors that you plan to keep open.

Maintain the area around your home. Standing pools of water are breeding grounds for mosquitoes. You may have to add a drainage system in order to eliminate these problem areas. Keep your yard clean of leaves and debris. Change the water out in bird baths at least twice a week to prevent mosquito eggs from hatching. If you have a pool, keep it chlorinated year round to keep mosquitoes from breeding there.

Inspect the outside of your home. Seal any cracks or holes that you see. If a pencil can fit through it, a mouse can fit through it. This process may entail repairing the foundation, replacing siding or bricks and caulking…lots of caulking. Clear silicon caulk is more flexible than latex caulk and is more likely to last over time. Check holes where cables or pipes come into your home. The ring around those areas may not be sealed and need to be.

Remove any clutter from your home. The more clutter, the more places insects have to take up residence. Recycle old magazines and newspapers as those are breeding grounds for many types of insects. If you have pets, remove and wash food bowls between feedings. Make sure pet food is in a sealed container. By removing the housing and food source for insects, you are less likely to have them.

Add mint to your home. Mint is a natural insect deterrent. You can have it in pots around your home or sachet bags. To protect pets, crush mint leaves and rub on your pets body. This along with a natural diet will help to repel mosquitoes and fleas.

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About AccuTemp

Serving the Metro Atlanta Area and Centrally located in Marietta, Georgia

including...Acworth, Atlanta Austell Canton Kennesaw Marietta Roswell Smyrna Vinings Woodstock  and all of Cobb and Cherokee Counties.

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Marietta, GA 30066
770-672-6963

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