All posts by Total Comfort Heating & Cooling

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Protect Your HVAC Unit From Snow and Ice

Denver residents know exactly what winter can bring—icy conditions, piles of snow, and of course, frigid temperatures. Your heater is working overtime to help keep you and your family warm, but snow and ice can potentially cause some problems to your system.

Heat Pump

If your HVAC system has a heat pump condenser, it needs proper ventilation to work efficiently. Just as you need to keep the unit free of leaves in the fall and tall grass in the summer, you need to clear the unit of snow and ice in the winter. It’s important to clear an area of about 18 inches around the unit and remove any snow or ice on top.

The unit has small fins, which is how it transfers heat, and you need to take special care not to damage these fins while you’re clearing away the snow. So no heavy hitting with your shovel.

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While we’re on the subject of protecting fins, icicles can also cause some serious damage. Make sure your gutters don’t have any damage that can cause icicles to form. If they do form over your outdoor unit, knock them away, so they don’t fall on the condenser.

Intake and Exhaust Pipes

If you notice that your furnace is constantly trying to start without turning on, the intake and exhaust pipe outside may be blocked. To find the pipe, look for a black or white pipe leading away from your furnace and see where it leads outside the house. If there is a pileup of snow, clear it away.

If you get snowed or iced in and you think your system needs assistance, out technicians at Total Comfort Heating and Cooling can take time for a home visit to help make sure your furnace is clear enough to keep working properly. Contact us today!

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Don’t Suffer Through Poor Air Quality This Winter

The days where you could just open a door or window to let in fresh air are gone, so it’s time to make sure you maintain good air quality. You’re going to be spending more time indoors and breathing in the recirculating air, so it’s even more important to make sure that the air you’re breathing is clean. Here are a few tips for coping with life indoors.

Registers and Vents

Your heater or furnace system will have registers and vents spread across your home. Over time, these build up with dust and allergens. Keep them clean by using a duster or the wand attachment on your vacuum.

Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fans are in constant motion and start to pick up all of the dust that circulates in the house. Take time to clean the ceiling fan blades and remove the grime. This is also a good time to reverse the direction to clockwise so that it creates an updraft and circulates warm air. This could potentially allow you to lower your thermostat a little bit.

Ductwork

You may not even be able to see the culprit for poor air quality—the ducts. A technician can come to your home and clean the ducts using special vacuums and disinfectants.

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Filters

Changing your filters is a year-round task, but as people and pets spend more time indoors, those filters can become clogged more quickly. Check and replace your filters more frequently in the winter.

Air Filtration System

If you’re serious about indoor air quality, a filtration system can be installed to complement your existing HVAC system.

If you have questions about maintaining good indoor air quality, contact us at Total Comfort Heating & Cooling. One of our experienced technicians can answer all of your questions, and you may be able to schedule a duct cleaning.

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Fall and Winter — A Good Time to Buy a New A/C

That’s right. We said air conditioners. As the weather turns cold, it may seem strange to think about air conditioning, but there are a few good reasons to invest now. We’ve put together a list of some of the advantages to buying a new air conditioning unit in the fall, as opposed to waiting until when the weather is warm.

Avoid Potential Delays

Most people don’t think about cooling until the weather starts to turn, and HVAC installers naturally get busier. This could lead to a delay in installation and a delay in your comfort. The average air conditioner lasts about 15 years, depending on the unit, and if your unit is getting close to the end its lifespan, replacing it can help lower your cooling bills.

Avoid Expensive Repairs

If your unit is approaching the end of its life, you may notice it requires more and more repairs, which can get expensive. Also, if your unit has to work harder, it’s using more energy. Replacing your unit now before it gives out entirely will save you headaches and costly repairs.

Time to Research

If you’re planning ahead for your air conditioning needs, you have the luxury of comparing products and making the best decision for your needs. When your unit conks out in the middle of summer, you’re inevitably rushed to make a quick, emergency decision.

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Protect Your A/C in Winter

It doesn’t matter if you buy a new unit in the fall or if you already have it installed—either way, you should take measures to winterize your unit.

  • Turn off exterior power
  • Make sure the outside is clean
  • Inspect for damage
  • Cover the unit

Your HVAC Experts

Don’t wait for your aging unit to fail when you need it most. Contact Total Comfort Heating and Cooling to have a new unit installed ahead of the cooling season.

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The Most Common Furnace Problems

It’s getting into the colder months of the year, and it’s important to make sure your heating system is working correctly. We’ve put together a list of the most common heating system problems. Knowing what they are and how they occur can help you possibly avoid them in the future.

Common Problems

Below are some of the common causes of furnace problems.

  • Lack of Maintenance – If you fail to keep up with annual inspections, you may run into unexpected problems. Regular maintenance can help keep your heater working at maximum efficiency.
  • Dirty Filters – Clogged filters block airflow, forcing your system to work even harder. Replace them according to the manufacturer’s schedule.
  • Mechanical Wear – Mechanical parts wear down and need replacing over time. Parts failure can cause overheating and poor performance.
  • Thermostat Issues – It’s possible it’s not the furnace that’s malfunctioning, and it’s actually the thermostat. This can lead to no heat, intermittent heat, or blasts of hot air.
  • Ignition Control – A faulty ignition or pilot can create heating problems. A specialist can determine the cause of the outage.
  • Noisy Unit – There could be a mechanical issue at play. Rumbling and rattles are not typical.

What to Do

Regularly change your air filters. This will prevent at least one problem from coming to the surface. Follow the manufacturer’s directions.

Double check your thermostat. Sometimes the battery simply needs replacing; other times the fan or heat setting may not be where it should be.

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Reduce drafts where you can and make sure the unit didn’t blow a fuse. If those at-home checks don’t change anything, it’s time to call a specialist.

If you’re having a problem with your heater, contact Total Comfort Heating & Cooling. We can send one of our expert technicians to your home and assess and fix your problem. Don’t get stuck in the cold!

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How Swamp Coolers Work

The evaporative cooler, colloquially known as a swamp cooler, is a type of air conditioner that works well in the hot, dry air of Colorado and the Southwest. This method of pushing air over water to create a cooling effect has even been used by ancient Egyptians who hung wet blankets over doors or had servants wave fans over jugs of water.

Location Matters

Swamp coolers, despite the name, do not perform well in swampy conditions, but rather in drier climates. The name may come from the fact that they add humidity to the air.

The Evaporation Process

Liquid evaporates by releasing molecules into the air, which is then converted into gas form. The hotter, faster-moving molecules are likely to dissipate quickly, cooling off the remaining liquid and thus cooling the warm air.

Swamp Cooler Mechanics

So we know the process of water evaporation causes the air to cool, but now there needs to be a way to circulate that air in your home. The swamp cooler contains damp pads that stay moist thanks to a small pump. A blower sits at one end of the box and pulls air from outside across the damp pads and pushes the now cooled air into the house.

The A/C Difference

An air conditioner works by recirculating air through a unit that passes over a set of coils cooled by a refrigerant or coolant, such as Freon. Air conditioners are different from swamp coolers not only in their mechanics but their output—swamp coolers humidify the air while air conditioners dry the air, making the swamp cooler ideal for dry climates.

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Winterization Checklist

Even though summer is over, your unit still needs maintenance. Denver Total Comfort can help you make sure your evaporative cooler is properly stored for winter. Give us a call or contact us through our website and set up a winterization appointment today.