All posts by Total Comfort Heating & Cooling

Air Conditioning Repair

HVAC Systems—When to DIY and When to Call a Professional

Whether you live in the sweltering heat or in a veritable icebox, maintaining your HVAC system is critical to staying comfortable. There are a lot of things you can take care of yourself with regards to maintenance, but there are some things you should leave to a professional. Here are some tips for when to DIY and when to give us a call.

Do-It-Yourself Projects

Armed with the right knowledge, there are some basic tasks that you can complete to keep your HVAC system running at its peak.

  • Changing air filters – Air filters need to be replaced periodically, usually every few months depending on use. This is easy to do yourself—locate the filter located at the return intake and measure. Depending on the size of your home, you may have multiple filters and they may be different sizes.
  • Taking care of obstructions – Make sure all of your vents are clear of obstructions, including furniture and curtains. In addition, you can make sure the outside condenser unit is clear of dirt, debris, and vegetation—clear at least two feet around the unit.
  • Insulation – Proper insulation maximizes your system’s efficiency—check for air leaks, particularly around windows.

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Call a Professional

It’s time to call a professional when you have any system installation or you encounter a situation where you can void your warranty. This includes electrical work and physically opening the unit—check your warranty details.

Beyond standard maintenance, any major repairs should be done by an experienced technician. In addition, your HVAC system needs an annual tune-up, for which you should also contact a pro.

Convenient Service

At Denver Total Comfort, we can send one of our experienced technicians to your home to make HVAC system repairs. Contact us, and we’ll take care of your maintenance issues right away. Let the professionals handle the things you can’t DIY.

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Tips For Buying a New Water Heater

So, it’s time to buy a new water heater. Perhaps it’s past its recommended lifespan, or maybe your energy bills are too high. Either way, when you’re shopping for a new water heater, there are a few factors to consider.

Types of Water Heaters

You’ll find three main types of water heaters, each with their own set of benefits.

  • Conventional tank – This is the most common type of heater and consists of a storage tank that is constantly heated and stored until needed.
  • Tankless/On-demand – There is no storage unit for this type of water heater. Instead, water is heated via heating elements as it passes through the unit.
  • Hybrid – Uses a heat pump to pull heat from the air and heats water at a faster rate than other types.

Energy Efficiency

Water heaters can consume up to 20% of a home’s energy use, and there are many energy-efficient models on the market. Every water heater has an EnergyGuide label that features the national average operating cost. What may cost the least up front may have higher annual expenses, so pay close attention. Also look for units with the Energy Star label. This label is a certification that verifies the appliance is energy efficient.

Capacity

The question for many is “How big should the water heater be?” The size will depend on how frequently and in what volume you use hot water. A family of four uses considerably more water than a single resident. Look for:

  • First-Hour Rating (FHR) – This is used on conventional tank models, and measures how much water can be heated in an hour. The higher the rating, the higher the capacity.
  • Gallons Per Minute (GPM) – For tankless units, this measures how many gallons can be heated per minute.

Installation

Water heaters should be installed by a professional. Contact us for more information about water heaters and the installation process and one of our experts will help you out. Denver Total Comfort is available to serve all of your heating and cooling needs.

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Winter is Coming—Check for Your Home for Air Leaks

Heating and cooling your home is a necessary expense to maintain comfort, so it’s important that the expense is not wasted. When the house is not sealed up properly, warm air can come in during the summer, and cold air will come in during the winter, causing your energy bills to skyrocket.

Fall is the perfect time to check for air leaks so that your home is comfortable and energy efficient by the time winter arrives.

Home Evaluation

A significant portion of leaks come from small cracks and holes in the home. An HVAC technician can conduct a home assessment and make recommendations for alleviating the problem areas, which usually include doors, windows, and attics.

DIY Approach

The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors has a unique solution for finding leaks in your home. Burn an incense stick and walk around the home, paying close attention to doors, windows, and outlets. If the smoke from the incense starts to drift sideways, you’ve likely found a leak.

Look for Cobwebs

It may sound strange, but looking for a cobweb is one way to spot potential leaks—spiders like to put webs nears points of airflow.

Repairing Leaks

Depending on the nature of the leaks, weather stripping or caulking might work to limit airflow. Replacing windows or doors is another idea.

Attics

It’s possible that there is inadequate insulation in the attic, as it’s a prime location for warm air to escape to, forcing your heating system to work that much more to keep the household temperature stable.

Control Your Energy Costs

Don’t make your heating system work harder than it has to this winter—find and fix those air leaks. If you have any questions or need a home evaluation, contact us at Total Comfort Heating and Cooling. We can help you with all of your HVAC concerns.

Checking air filters is a necessary step of HVAC system maintenance

HVAC Maintenance: Changing Your Air Filter

Having a home requires a lot of maintenance, and one of the areas that require upkeep is your HVAC system. When not properly maintained, your system can become inefficient and have poor performance. One task that you can take on to help your HVAC system is to change the air filter.

Your HVAC System

Every HVAC system has an air filter that filters out larger airborne particles that can clog the machinery in your system. A dirty air filter can lead to poor airflow or even a lack of air infiltration altogether. A clogged filter can also cause your system to work harder at heating or cooling, leading to increased energy bills and possibly future repairs. Your air filter needs to be replaced or cleaned periodically, as often as once every three months. If you run your system regularly, have pets, or live in a dusty climate, you may need to change the filter more frequently.

Locate the Filter

Your air filter is located just behind the return air intake vent, which is usually a huge vent. If you have a larger home, you may have multiple return air intakes. There are usually a couple of clips at the top of the vent that you release to open, and you should see a large filter just behind the vent.

Measure the Filter

Not all filters are the same, so when you are shopping for a replacement, it’s important to find the right fit. Take the old filter out and measure it. Do this for all of the filters in your house, as they may not all be the same size.

Once you know what size to buy, go to any hardware store to find a replacement. There are one-month and three-month options, as well as washable filters. Your HVAC manual will have a filter recommendation.

Seasonal Maintenance

Don’t live with an inefficient HVAC system—check your filters regularly and replace as needed for optimal performance. If you need help, you can always contact us at Total Comfort Heating and Cooling and our knowledgeable staff can assist you with your system.

 

 

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It’s Never Too Early—Your Pre-Winter HVAC Checklist

As summer starts to come to a close, we start dreaming of cooler weather, which means it’s time to start thinking about your winter heating needs. You wouldn’t let your car go without inspections and oil changes—treat your HVAC system the same way.

Your HVAC system for heating or cooling requires regular maintenance, and while the repairs should be left to us, there are steps you can take to assess if there are any problems that need to be addressed. It may seem early, but it’s better to catch problems before you lose functionality in the middle of winter when you need the heat.

Your cooling system may be running great, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that your heating system is. In the off time during the spring and fall months, elements of your heating system may stop working. Here are a few simple steps you can take to assess if your heating system is working properly.

Check Your Thermostat

It may seem obvious, but the first thing you should do is turn the unit on and see if it’s working. Set your thermostat to about 75 degrees and wait a moment. Put your hand over the vent and feel if warm air is pushing out. If you don’t feel warm air, or if it takes more than a few minutes to put out warm air, there may be a larger issue.

Check the Air Filter

Sometimes, limited heat or slow heat could point to the air filter. Use your owner’s manual to check where your air filter is located. It’s a pretty quick check to see if the air filter is dirty or clogged. Air filters typically need to be cleaned or changed every three to nine months.

Tune-up

Have one of our professionals come to your home and perform a fall tune-up. An HVAC tune-up is not something you should do yourself, and a technician can make sure your unit is running at optimal capacity.

Registers, Grilles, and Vents

It goes by many names, but the register is the vent through which warm air pushes into the home. Turn on your heating system and check every register to feel that they are all putting out warm air at the same force and temperature. Contact a technician if one of your registers is not functioning properly.

Return Air Vent

All HVAC systems have a return air vent, which sucks in air to either be cooled again or warmed. This air will also be filtered. The return vent is an essential part of your system, so you should include this as part of your pre-season checklist. The return air vent is usually huge, and you can assess its effectiveness by putting your hand close to the grille—you should feel a light suction.

Clean Around Your HVAC System

As a matter of safety, you should clean the area surrounding your unit and remove any debris, vegetation, and potentially flammable material.

Your Seasonal Experts

Don’t wait for winter to come before your check your heating system. Total Comfort Heating and Cooling can fill all of your HVAC needs.  Contact us so we can perform a seasonal tune-up and make sure everything is going to perform when you need it.