Handling AC maintenance on a hot day

I live and work in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. My job is extremely demanding and requires very long hours. I frequently work weekends and overtime. Getting a day completely off is rare. It can be difficult to keep up with regular household tasks. Last Saturday, I finally had a day free. I had a list of household maintenance projects that needed to be done. I started by mowing the lawn. I wanted to accomplish the yard work in the morning, prior to the heat of the day setting in. The weather forecast in Tuscaloosa for that day was calling for temperatures in the mid nineties and high humidity. Even at eight o’clock in the morning, the conditions were already hot and sticky. Before I could mow the lawn, I needed to go get gas for the mower. Shortly after I began mowing, I noticed that one tire had gone flat. Once I finally got the tire inflated, I returned to mowing and proceeded to run over a very large stick. The stick got wedged into the blades. It took me nearly an hour to remove it. By the time I finished mowing the lawn, I was dripping sweat and exhausted. I figured I might as well tackle air conditioner maintenance on the outdoor unit. I very carefully cleaned the coil and condensate drain. I removed a great deal of leaves, sticks and other debris from inside the cabinet. When I put everything back together, I needed to wait an hour or so for the components to dry before starting up the cooling system. I headed inside, took a shower and then addressed the indoor unit. I was eager to get the cooling system operating again, because the temperature inside the house was rising very quickly.


Tuscaloosa Alabama HVAC worker

New air conditioner saves money

Summers in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, are especially long, hot and muggy.

The air conditioner is a crucial component of a comfortable home.

We need the central cooling system to combat temperatures in the mid to upper nineties on a regular basis. The air conditioner is essential to a good night’s sleep, productive day and healthy indoor air quality. It also greatly affects the household budget. Running an air conditioner non stop for approximately eight straight months can get expensive. It’s important that the system operates as efficiently as possible. I spent more on an Energy Star qualified air conditioner with an industry leading SEER rating. The system I chose features adaptable-speed technology. Unlike two-stage systems that can operate at either maximum or low capacity, the air conditioner can adjust output in one percent increments. It can operate anywhere between forty and one hundred percent capacity. There is rarely a time when the AC needs to blast at maximum speed. Most of the time, the system can run at lower speeds and maintain a consistent indoor temperature. The longer run times allow the air conditioner to do a better job of filtering out contaminants and managing excess humidity. The operation makes less noise, uses less energy and puts less strain on components. Plus, when the new AC system was installed, I upgraded to zone control. The ability to set an independent temperature in each room avoids cooling unoccupied areas. It also lets me customize thermostat settings to the specific needs of each space. I save money and enjoy superior comfort.

HVAC contractor in Tuscaloosa Alabama

Installing radiant heated flooring

About five years ago, my husband and I completely renovated our house.

  • We needed to tear down the old plaster walls, insulate and bring the electrical and plumbing systems up to code.

Because of extensive water damage from a leaky roof, we also pulled out the ceilings and floors. Taking the house down to the bare studs was an extensive, messy and expensive project. However, it was also an opportunity to make significant improvements. The weather in South Bend, Indiana, can be brutal. The winters are cold and snowy, with temperatures frequently in the teens. A powerful, safe and energy efficient heating system is crucial. A tightly sealed thermal envelope is necessary to avoid energy waste and keep costs reasonable. Along with insulating the home, we replaced windows, caulked and weatherstripped. We made the decision to install radiant floor heating. We already had a boiler heating system that was originally linked to radiators. Removing the radiators and implementing radiant flooring freed up valuable living space and significantly improved aesthetics. The equipment is now entirely concealed beneath our brand new hardwood floors. The boiler heats up water and sends it through a network of pipes. The heat from the pipes spreads across the floor and radiates into the air. The temperature from floor to ceiling and wall to wall is wonderfully consistent. There are no drafts, hold spots or stratification. Walking on a warm floor in the middle of January is a wonderful luxury. We’re able to set much lower thermostat settings and still feel perfectly comfortable. One of the biggest benefits of our radiant floor heating setup is zone control. We have a thermostat in each room that allows customized settings.

South Bend Indiana HVAC service

Diversity of weather in South Bend

Living in South Bend, Indiana, offers four different seasons.

  • Each one brings something unique to appreciate.

I always look forward to the spring, when the snow finally melts and the first flowers show up. The smell of the lilacs, hyacinths, lilies of the valleys and flowering trees is just lovely. Summers tend to be hot and somewhat wet. There’s plenty of sunshine and warm weather to enjoy an abundance of outdoor activities. I often head to Potato Creek State Park to hike miles of trails or kayak on Worster Lake. The fall might just be the most beautiful time of year in South Bend. The changing colors of the leaves are stunning. There are also lots of fresh vegetables and fruits available, including zucchini, squash, peppers, eggplant, tomatoes and apples. Winter is definitely our longest season, often lasting for the majority of the year. The temperature plummets into the teens or even negative digits and the snow piles up very quickly. While it’s necessary to bundle up in sweaters, snow boots, hats and gloves, it’s also refreshing to get outdoors. I thoroughly enjoy ice skating, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, downhill skiing and snowboarding. The weather in South Bend does create some challenges. We need to be prepared for lots of rain, humidity, high winds, sleet, hail and blizzard conditions. We rely heavily on the air conditioner and furnace and pay high energy bills. To help with the constant temperature adjustments, I’ve invested into a smart thermostat. The thermostat automatically raises or lowers the setting according to the outdoor conditions, occupancy of the home and my family’s preferences. It works to trim energy usage and optimize comfort.

South Bend Indiana HVAC tune-up

Happy with heated floors

I don’t need to arrange furniture to accommodate vents.

One of my favorite things about my house in Springfield, Missouri, is the heated floors. When we first toured the property, I wasn’t thrilled to discover a boiler in the basement. I believed that boilers were noisy, dirty and expensive to operate. I knew that a boiler only provides heat, with no option for centralized cooling. Other than the boiler, my husband and I loved everything about the house and property. Once I did some research, I realized that a hydronic heating system is truly advantageous. Modern boilers operate silently, don’t introduce contaminants into the air and don’t cause issues with insufficient humidity. They are often recommended for anyone who suffers from acute asthma, allergies or respiratory infections. Because water heats up faster and retains heat longer than air, boilers don’t need to run as long, work as hard or use as much energy as a forced-air furnace. In our house, the boiler links to a series of pipes that are concealed beneath the floor. The boiler sends hot water through these pipes, which then spreads heat across the surface of the floor. Everything that sits upon the floor gets heated up and contributes to radiating heat into the room. The temperature near the ceiling never varies more than three degrees from the thermostat setting. There is no stratification or cold pockets. Plus, the equipment is hidden under the floors. The pipes don’t occupy living space or detract from the decor. I don’t need to arrange furniture to accommodate vents. Another benefit of the heated floors is zone control. We have a thermostat in each room that allows for customized settings. We can adjust comfort to preference and avoid heating empty areas of the house.

Heater maintenance in Springfield Missouri

New furnace and air conditioner are worthwhile investment

Springfield, Missouri, is a really wonderful place to live.

  • There are lots of jobs, a reasonable cost of living and a strong economy.

The people are extremely friendly and the natural beauty of the landscape is incredible. I just love the rolling hills, extensive woodlands, running streams, public parks and miles of pristine lakes. Along with biking, hiking, swimming, boating, kayaking and fishing, we also get to enjoy amazing local wine, unique hand-crafted beer, casinos and eclectic dining options. While I appreciate the opportunities of four distinct seasons, the weather in Springfield is tough. We get everything from humidity, sleet and rain to snow, high winds and hail. Summer temperatures can climb into the nineties while the winter conditions plummet below freezing. We need sunblock and sandals as well as snow shovels, ice scrapers and heavy boots. Every home and business requires a complete heating and cooling system. The cost of keeping a comfortable living or working space accounts for about half the energy consumption. While a new furnace and air conditioner are a significant investment, replacing outdated units has saved me quite a bit of money. The new systems are Energy Star qualified, feature adaptable-speed technology and include zone control. We’re able to set independent temperatures in each room, accommodating personal preferences and occupancy. There’s no need to heat or cool empty zones to the ideal temperature. My family benefits from superior comfort, greater dehumidification and healthier air quality while I pay less in heating and cooling costs. There is also far less chance of facing an expensive and disruptive repair. The furnace and air conditioner are covered by a manufacturer’s warranty and I have enrolled in a maintenance program with a local Springfield HVAC company.



Mini split air conditioner in Springfield Missouri

Debating over air filters

Living in St Petersburg, Florida, the air conditioner is an essential component of the household.

The cooling system operates just about year round.

I hope to shut off the AC, open the windows and enjoy some fresh air during the months of January, February and March. The high heat and excessive humidity create a big workload for the air conditioner. Electric bills are a major part of the budget. I’ve done everything possible to eliminate energy waste. I’ve caulked around windows, weatherstripped doors and invested into blown-in insulation. I’ve installed ceiling fans to help push the heat up and out of the house. I close the blinds against the sun during the day, make sure to turn lights off and avoid running the oven. Having a tightly sealed house helps to reduce energy waste but also causes some concerns with indoor air quality. The humidity in St Petersburg makes cockroaches, mold, mildew, dust mites and bacteria regular issues. I am diligent in cleaning the air conditioner coils, condensate drain and condensate pan. Those are the areas where toxins tend to thrive. I also make sure to change out the AC air filter every other month. I have looked into all different types of air filters. The cheaper air filters with a lower MERV rating don’t capture especially small contaminants. However, they also don’t clog as quickly. The air filters with a higher MERV rating feature much smaller holes that trap microscopic particles, promoting a cleaner and healthier living environment. Unfortunately, they become dirty very quickly. Once the air filter is clogged, it detracts from air conditioner airflow and energy efficiency.
Furnace filter for sale in St. Petersburg Florida

Home gym is not temperature controlled

Summers in St Petersburg, Florida, are extremely hot and humid.

The temperature regularly soars into the nineties or even the triple digits. I have a lanai on the back of my house that I utilize as a workout space. I’ve equipped it with free weights, an incline bench, a yoga mat, jump ropes, mini trampoline and battle ropes. I like to devote approximately an hour to my fitness regiment every day. Unfortunately, the lanai is not temperature controlled. It is constructed of large screens that allow in fresh air and offer a gorgeous view. During the winter, the lanai offers the perfect temperature for exercise. It’s wonderfully cool. During the spring and fall, the outdoor conditions heat up quite quickly. I make sure to get up extra early in the morning to complete my workout before the heat of the day. In the summer, no matter how early I begin, the workout is excruciating. I run several box fans at max speed, but they don’t help all that much. I need to stand directly in front of a fan, and I still am drenched in sweat before I finish my warm up. The heat and humidity lead to a feeling of lethargy. It’s difficult to get motivated for a high intensity workout. On especially hot days, I am forced to workout inside the temperature controlled living space. Central air conditioning is essential. However, there isn’t a lot of room for me to exercise or use equipment. I worry about causing damage to home furnishings. I have considered joining a local St Petersburg gym so that I can have access to AC as well as a wider variety of workout equipment.

Air conditioner service plan in St. Petersburg Florida

Odd smell from furnace

Winters in Elgin, Illinois, require the furnace to run for the majority of the year.

The system combats temperatures well below zero on a regular basis. Like any appliance, the heating system needs regular maintenance and cleaning to operate efficiently, effectively and reliably. When I first start up the furnace, I typically notice the smell of burning dust wafting from the vents. This odor reminds me to schedule service from a local HVAC contractor. The technician takes care of cleaning the various components, verifying safe operation and making any necessary adjustments. If he should find any minor issues, these repairs are resolved before they graduate into much bigger and more expensive concerns. Last winter, I noticed a strange smell from the furnace several months after the proactive maintenance was completed. The air from the vents smelled musty and there was a significant amount of dust blowing around. I was worried about indoor air quality and the health of my family. I hoped that replacing the air filter would fix the problem. When I researched online, I learned that the odors could be due to mold growth inside the heating system, overheating or parts not operating properly. I decided to schedule service right away. The technician checked out the furnace and found that the issues were caused by the ductwork. There was a buildup of dust and other debris inside the pipes. Whenever the furnace started up, the allergens and odors were getting spread to every room in the house. Fortunately, duct cleaning took care of it.



Elgin IL furnace

Trying to warm up the basement

The winters in Elgin, Illinois, are well-known for their severity.

The extremely cold weather lasts for more than half the year.

We expect temperatures well below zero, bitter wind chill and feet of snow. I recently noticed that my basement was freezing cold. I got worried about the pipes freezing. Plus, having a cold basement means cold floors in the home, increasing the workload of the furnace. I started looking into ways to warm up the basement. Most of the strategies I found are centered around optimizing energy efficiency and adding additional heat sources. One of the first suggestions was to add insulation. While I wasn’t willing to tear down the finished drywall of the ceilings and walls, I was able to find a local Elgin HVAC contractor that specializes in spray foam insulation. The additional layer of insulation helps to lessen heat transfer and keep the basement warmer in winter and cooler in summer. The HVAC technician recommended installing a wall-mounted electric heater. The unit is located on the wall, doesn’t take up valuable space or detract from aesthetics. We only run the electric heater on especially chilly winter days and nights. The cost of operating the small basement heater is negligible. We’ve found that having warm floors makes a big difference to the comfort of the living environment. We can lower the thermostat setting and still feel perfectly warm. Because of this, I had the idea to lay down throw-rugs over the cement floor of the basement. The rugs contribute to insulation and feel less chilly under our feet.

heater in Elgin IL