6 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying a New Furnace

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The purchase and installation of a new furnace is a big investment and a big decision. Homeowners in Colorado and Wyoming have many options, and knowing some basic information before you start shopping can save you a lot of headaches down the road. Here are the top 6 mistakes people make when purchasing a new furnace:

1. Ignoring AFUE & Energy Efficiency

AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) is the rating that shows how energy efficient a furnace is. While the highest rated (most efficient) furnaces cost more up front, choosing one with a low AFUE rating will cost you more every month in higher utility bills. Look for a rating of 17 or higher to potentially save you 50% on your energy bills, compared to older or less efficient models.

2. Not Taking Advantage of Rebates

Rebates for high-efficiency furnaces are often available from the government and the manufacturer. These rebates can make an expensive unit affordable, and allow you to purchase a more efficient unit than you thought you could, based on your budget. Don’t miss out on these savings!

3. Only Getting One Estimate

Prices can vary greatly, even among reputable HVAC contractors. It pays to get several estimates on the purchase and the installation fees.

4. Going for the Lowest Price

A low cost furnace may seem like a good deal in the short time, but over time it will cost you much more in higher energy bills. Be sure to consider the savings you’ll enjoy over the life of your furnace with a more efficient model, even if it costs a few hundred dollars more initially.

Similarly, don’t choose your contractor solely on price. The quality of your furnace installation is critical to the long-term performance of your furnace. Spending money on a new furnace only to skimp on the installation cost, risking poor quality work, will most likely end up costing you more in the future. This could also prevent your furnace from ever working properly.

5. Buying a Furnace that is Too Big or Small

Furnaces are designed to work based on the size and layout of your home. A furnace that is too big will not be more effective, and a furnace that is too small will not be less expensive to operate. The wrong size unit is more likely to break down sooner and more often and use more energy (higher monthly bills) while not properly or consistently heating your home. Make sure your HVAC professional does a load calculation to determine the correct furnace for your home.

6. Not Verifying Your Contractor’s Reputation & Expertise

Before you settle on a contractor be sure to do your homework. Get recommendations from friends or family, read reviews, and check the company’s record of service complaints with the Better Business Bureau. Ask about the technician’s certifications and ongoing training. Be sure to get a detailed written contract that spells out all the installation details, and get all your questions answered satisfactorily before signing.

Your Rheem Pro Partner is ready to answer all your furnace and installation questions. If you are shopping for new furnace, contact us today!

How Do I Heat My Home Evenly?

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Hot or cold spots in your home during the winter are a common problem for people who have multi-level homes, especially older homes. The furnace is running, but one room or floor may be warmer than another. For places like Colorado and Wyoming that are cold in the winter and hot in the summer, achieving even temperatures throughout your home can be a year-round struggle. There are several likely reasons uneven heating (or cooling) occurs:

  • Restricted airflow from the furnace to the registers.
  • Inadequate or improperly sized and sealed ductwork.
  • A heating and cooling system that’s not sufficient for the size of the home.

Here are some things you can try to fix the problem:

Partially Close the Vents Upstairs

Two-story homes often require more warm airflow downstairs during the winter months. Partially closing the upstairs vents while making sure the downstairs vents are open and unobstructed, can force more heat to the lower levels of your home. However, keep in mind that your HVAC system is designed to work with all vents open, and partially or fully closing vents can interfere with the pressure levels, causing pressure to build up.

Add a Zoning System

Zoning allows you to control the temperature on the upper and lower floors of your home independently of one another by adding a second thermostat and a system of dampers. When the room reaches the correct temperature, the dampers close, and reopen when more heat is needed.

Switch Your Thermostat from “Auto” to “On”

Setting your fan to “On” continuously circulates the air in your home, even between floors, creating a more even temperature throughout.

Upgrade Your HVAC Equipment

A furnace equipped with a variable speed blower motor is designed to overcome airflow problems by keeping the airflow steady all over the home. These types of furnaces also use about 1/3 of the electricity of a standard furnace. Rather than being either “on” or “off,” variable speed blowers can operate at a range of speeds for more precise adjustments.

Add Additional HVAC Equipment

A second system is a pricey fix, but in some cases may be the best option for gaining more control over the temperature on each level of a two-story home.

Add a Ductless System

Ductless systems are another way to add more temperature control to your home. These are individual mounted units that can go in the rooms that need them. Air passes through these small air handlers without the need for ductwork, and the temperature can be adjusted for each room that has a unit.

Have Your Ductwork Inspected

Ducts that leak or are improperly installed can cause your home to heat inconsistently.

There is no cookie-cutter answer for why your home is not heated evenly. For the best solution, contact your HVAC professional to evaluate your particular situation. He or she will have the best advice for how to correct the problem.

Contact a Rheem Pro Partner today for all your heating needs and concerns!

How to Keep Your Family Healthy Indoors During the Winter Months

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Two important home improvements you can make this year can keep your family healthy indoors during the cold and dry winter months. Individually, each solves an indoor air quality problem, and together they are a complete solution for your home.

Whole Home Humidifiers

In winter, the air tends to be drier than at other times of the year. In our Rocky Mountain climate that means our already dry air is especially dry. This is hard on skin, eyes, throats and nasal passages and contributes to worsening cold and allergy symptoms.

Unlike portable humidifiers, which don’t offer much control and are limited to a single room, whole home humidifiers add moisture to your entire home by connecting to your heating and cooling system. The humidity level can be monitored and adjusted through your thermostat, allowing an even level of moisture to be released all year long.

The benefits of whole home humidifiers include:

  • Preventing viruses that thrive in low humidity.
  • Reducing the severity and incidences of many common illnesses, such as colds and flu.
  • Protecting your home from the adverse effects of dry air. Furniture, plaster, paint, artwork, electronics and musical instruments all benefit from the right level of humidity.
  • Increasing comfort throughout your home. Adding humidity will actually make your home feel warmer at lower temperatures, so you can save energy costs – as much as 4% for every degree you lower your thermostat setting.

Whole home humidifiers can be installed in new or existing homes, and even homes that have baseboard or radiant floor heating.

Whole Home Air Cleaners

Concerns about the effects of poor indoor-air quality have increased, as more and more of us rely on recycled air in our tightly sealed homes and offices. Quality air purification in the form of whole home air cleaners is an effective and affordable solution. These units can be incorporated into almost any HVAC system.

The benefits of whole home air cleaners include:

  • Drastically reducing allergens, particulates and toxins throughout your entire home. Whole house air purification eliminates allergens, bacteria, dust and smoke up to 100 times more effectively than conventional furnace filters.
  • Removing particles as low as .003 microns – the smallest particles that exist.
  • Eliminating fan noise typically associated with portable units.

Whole home air cleaners require little maintenance and the average filter life is up to 3 to 5 years.

Ask us how a whole home humidifier and air cleaner can improve your health and comfort. Call us today for a free estimate!

How to Avoid Furnace Repairs During the Coldest Days in Colorado or Wyoming

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Emergency furnace repair calls are no fun for anyone. In Denver, and throughout Colorado and Wyoming, cold winter temperatures can make being without heat even for a short time uncomfortable and even dangerous. The inconvenience of having to be home to meet a repair technician, as well as the expense of after hours or holiday service only compounds an already bad situation.

You can, however, avoid the hassle and discomfort of most furnace problems with a few basic maintenance steps.

Check and Change Your Furnace Air Filter Regularly

Over time, the air filter fills with dirt, dust and debris reducing the amount air flowing into your system. Once the air filter is clogged, it begins to negatively impact the performance of your furnace by causing the system to work harder and making it susceptible to costly breakdowns. A dirty air filter also prevents your equipment from operating at peak efficiency so your energy bills will be higher. Furnace filters should be replaced every one to three months.

Keep Your HVAC System Free of Debris

To do this, make sure the area around your furnace is clean and clear. Dirt and debris can block airflow and cause your system to break down. Also, periodically check your air vents to make sure they are open, uncovered and unblocked, and free of dirt, debris and clutter. Furniture and other items can impede the heat coming into the room, and debris can enter the system through the vents. Vacuuming or dusting in and around them can also help keep dust and dirt from entering the air ducts.

Schedule Regular HVAC Maintenance

Annual maintenance by an HVAC professional has many benefits that will save you money as well as the frustration of dealing with unexpected repairs. Trained technicians can catch problems that most homeowners won’t recognize or know how to address and in doing so prevent minor issues from becoming major, expensive ones. Regular maintenance ensures that your system is not only functioning properly, but optimally. Having your system professionally maintained each year improves your furnace’s energy efficiency, which means lower utility bills, and lengthens the useful life of the equipment, so you won’t have to replace it as soon. Overall, the cost of the maintenance visit will pay for itself in improved performance, fewer repairs and longer life.

Schedule your maintenance appointment with a Rheem Pro Partner today!

No Heat in Your House? 4 Things to Check and Do

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Having your heat go out in the winter is inconvenient, uncomfortable, and in some cases, may be a safety issue. In general, when your heating system stops working, you’ll need to call a professional to come out and take a look. However, before you do that, there are a number of things you can check to ensure that there really is a problem with the system.

Start with the Thermostat

  • Settings can accidentally get changed, so first make sure the thermostat is set properly on “Heat” rather than “Cool.” If you have a programmable thermostat, make sure the time and temperature is set correctly.
  • Check to make sure the temperature on the thermostat is set to a level that is high enough to trigger the furnace to kick on.
  • If the settings are correct, try adjusting the temperature to 5 degrees higher than the current room temperature to see if the furnace starts up.

Check the Circuit Breaker Panel to See if a Breaker has Been Tripped

While this shouldn’t happen often, a heating system can overload the circuit panel and trip the breaker, preventing the furnace from turning on. Flipping the breaker switch should do the trick. If this happens repeatedly, however, the actual cause may be more serious and you should schedule a service call.

Check the Furnace

Check to make sure the furnace’s power switch is in the “on” position. If the furnace power is on, follow the instructions to reset the system. Look for the  button to trigger the reset process.

Check the Vents

Blocked or closed vents prevent heat from flowing and circulating properly, resulting in cold spots. When furniture and other items get moved around, sometimes vents can be blocked or covered. Vent covers may inadvertently be closed as well. Make sure all vents have open access and airflow. Check both the supply vents (where heat comes out) and return vents (where air goes back the furnace).

If after checking all of these things your furnace is still not working, or if you have any questions or concerns, contact a Rheem Pro Partner for a free estimate today.

How Do Whole Home Air Cleaners Work?

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Our homes are more energy efficient than ever, tightly sealed against the elements so that our heated and cooled air doesn’t escape through cracks and leaks. As a result, paying attention to indoor air quality is more important than ever. Heating and cooling systems typically recirculate air and can inadvertently create a situation where the air inside a home is many times more polluted than the outdoor air. There are ways to prevent this. We find that many of our customers in Colorado and Wyoming benefit greatly from installing electronic air cleaners.

How do Air Cleaners Work?

An electronic air cleaner, when installed by a professional in conjunction with your HVAC system, can help to eliminate over 99% of contaminants.

These are the two types of air cleaners:

Electrostatic precipitators

Particles (dust, allergens and other contaminants) gain an electrical charge as the air is drawn into the unit. The charge is created from ions moving back and forth in the system. The charged particles then accumulate on two flat plates, inside the unit, that have the opposite charge — effectively taking those irritants out of the air you breathe. The plates typically need to be cleaned every one to three months, depending on how quickly the particles accumulate on them.

Ion generators

Rather than charging particles inside the unit, ion generators send ions out to charge the particles in the room. The charged particles then cling to surfaces around the room such as curtains or walls. This takes them out of the circulating air you breathe. The particles are then removed from the room during normal home cleaning.

Benefits of Air Cleaners

Air cleaners are extremely effective

If you or your family suffer from seasonal allergies or other respiratory illnesses, or if you are just concerned about breathing clean air in your home, a whole home electronic air cleaner can give you peace of mind and make you more comfortable. Air cleaners have been shown to be extremely effective at removing particulates, odors and microbials.

An air cleaner will protect your whole house

By working with your HVAC system, whole home air cleaners provide comfort and safety throughout your entire home. Air cleaners go a significant step further than traditional air and furnace filters which only trap medium-to-large particles and have little to no effect on gases, vapors, bacteria and viruses.

Air cleaners are safe and reliable

Air cleaner technology is safe and effective for everyone and can be especially beneficial for children and seniors.

Air cleaners are easy to install and maintain

Once professionally installed into your existing heating and air conditioning system ducts, the air cleaner requires very little maintenance.

Contact a Rheem Pro Partner today to protect your home’s indoor air quality. We serve all of Colorado and Wyoming.

Is a New Thermostat Worth the Investment?

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Your thermostat, that unobtrusive device on the wall that controls your furnace and air conditioner, may be more important to your HVAC system than you realize. If you have the original thermostat from 10, 20, or more years ago, taking a look at the advantages of the new programmable thermostats is worth your time. The technology has come a long way and Colorado/Wyoming residents can benefit by upgrading.

Here are some things to keep in mind when evaluating the benefits of a new thermostat:

You don’t have to spend money heating or cooling your home when no one is there.

New programmable thermostats help you save money and energy use. Simply set the thermostat for a lower (or higher in summer) temperatures at night and when you are away, and you’ve instantly and (nearly) effortlessly made your home more energy efficient.

You won’t be paying to heat your home to 75 degrees when you’ve set your thermostat to 72 degrees.

New thermostats are more accurate at measuring the exact temperature of your home and provide more precise control of your heating and cooling system. As a result, you’ll experience increased comfort and increased savings.

You can do more with new thermostats.

Today’s new models come with a variety of useful features and options to meet your needs. Some come with remote controls that allow you to adjust the temperature from anywhere in the house. Some have indicator lights that let you know when the filters need to be changed, making it easy to keep your system running properly.

You don’t have to wait until you replace your entire heating or cooling system.

Most new thermostats can work with many different types of existing heating and cooling systems.

You don’t have to spend a lot to gain the benefits of a new thermostat.

Having a new thermostat installed is inexpensive ($100 for a basic thermostat up to several hundred for one with lots of features). Your energy cost savings will quickly pay for the cost of the upgrade.

You can get the most out of your state-of-the-art HVAC system.

With an old style thermostat, you may be not be taking full advantage of all the energy saving features your new system has to offer.

Still not sure which thermostat is right for you? The professionals at Rheem Pro Partner can help you choose and install the new thermostat that best meets your needs. Call us today!

Is Your Furnace Ready for Winter? 5 Tips for Prepping Your Furnace

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The Halloween pumpkins have left the porch and thoughts are shifting to Thanksgiving pumpkin pie – a sure sign that winter is on the way. Before you are tempted by holiday shopping and festive gatherings, there is one important question to ask: Is your furnace ready for winter?

Chances are you have turned on your heat by now and it is working just fine. However, there are some important steps to take to ensure that your home stays cozy and warm throughout the season.

Here is a quick checklist to help you avoid any unfortunate surprises.

1. Replace the Air Filter

We can’t stress enough how important this simple step is. Air filters should be replaced every 1-3 months, depending on the type of filter and the time of year. In winter (or whenever you are using your furnace), inspect the filter monthly and replace it with a new one when it is dirty. Clean air filters are the most economical way to help keep your furnace working efficiently and effectively, prevent unnecessary wear and tear, and keep your energy costs low. Simply remove the old filter, and install the new one following the direction of the arrows. Consider upgrading to a pleated filter, a HEPA filter or an electrostatic filter for even better performance.

2. Open All Air Vents & Make Sure they are Uncovered

Blocked or closed vents can cause your furnace to work harder than necessary and can drive up your heating costs. They also, obviously, prevent heat from getting into the room. During the summer, vents may be closed or furniture rearranged without considering the location of the vents. Sometimes books, papers or other objects block the air vents as well. Check the vents in each room to make sure they are open and unobstructed. You can also use a screwdriver to remove the vent cover, and vacuum in and around the vent to remove any dust and debris that may have accumulated. And don’t forget the return air vents.

3. Make Sure the Area Around Your Furnace is Free of Debris and Clutter

Your furnace room may be a tempting storage space for seldom-used items, but storing belongings around your furnace can be a safety hazard. Clutter and debris can also impact your system’s performance. Check the area to be sure nothing is interfering with the operation of your furnace. Also make sure the burners are free of dust and dirt.

4. Make Sure Your Thermostat is Working Properly

Your thermostat should be set on “Heat” and the fan should be set on “Auto.” To check if it is working properly, raise the temperature setting 5 degrees above the current room temperature. The furnace should start up right away. If not, your thermostat may be malfunctioning.

5. Schedule an Appointment to Clean Your Furnace

Regular service by a trained HVAC professional goes a long way toward maintaining or even extending the functional life of your furnace. A qualified HVAC technician can professionally clean all the parts of your furnace, spot potential problems before they become expensive repairs, and keep your system running efficiently – saving you money and the inconvenience of a breakdown.

Don’t wait! Schedule your fall maintenance appointment with a Rheem Pro Partner today!

Top 6 Reasons to Replace Your Furnace This Fall

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If you’ve been balancing the cost of repairing an older furnace against the cost of getting a new one, this may just be the perfect time to explore your options. During the fall, HVAC companies have not hit their busy season. The sooner you call, the easier it will be to schedule a maintenance check for your current furnace and get advice and information on a new one.

There are several factors to consider when making the decision to repair or replace your furnace.

1. Unpredictable heating.

Over time, a furnace loses its ability to heat your home consistently.

2. High Energy Bills.

Your furnace also becomes less efficient as it ages. And, because advances in technology are happening all the time, a new furnace will be much more efficient than your old one, even at its peak.

3. Frequent Repairs.

Once your furnace starts to need repairs, chances are it will continue to need them. Even if individual repairs are not that expensive, the costs will begin to quickly add up. Of course there is also the inconvenience of scheduling service calls and having your furnace out when you need it. A good rule of thumb is to replace your furnace if the repair cost is at least 50% of a new one. For old furnaces, approaching the end of their usable life, that percentage drops down to 10% because of the likelihood of more frequent repairs.

4. Broken Heat Exchangers.

One of the more serious problems with an older furnace is a cracked heat exchanger. When this occurs, the unit will leak carbon monoxide, which poses a serious health risk to the people in your home. Carbon monoxide poisoning is potentially fatal.

5. Your Furnace is 12-20 Years Old.

On average, a furnace lasts 12-20 years. While age is certainly a consideration, evaluating the cost to keep the furnace running is a better indicator of whether to replace or not. Today’s modern furnaces are so efficient, the cost savings on your energy bills can significantly offset the cost of the furnace. New furnaces also have many available features such as programmable thermostats that let you automatically lower the temperature in your home when no one is there.

6. Tax Credits & Rebates.

Manufacturers’ rebates and federal tax credits offer big savings as incentive to purchase new energy-efficient equipment. The latest models are better for you and better for the environment. Ask your HVAC professional what offers are available in your area.

Don’t wait! Contact Rheem Pro Partners today to find out which new furnace is right for you!

What You Need to Know About Furnace Filters

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Maybe it is on your to-do list, or maybe you’ve thought about putting it on your to-do list… If replacing your furnace filter is not part of your regular home maintenance, though, it should be. This is one of the simplest, low-cost steps you can take to protect one of the most important investments in your home.

How a Furnace Works

While there are different models, most furnaces work by drawing in air from return ducts throughout your home, warming it over a heat exchanger, and then blowing the heated air with a fan through ducts that open into the various rooms. This is known as “forced-air.”

What a Furnace Filter Does

When the air comes into the furnace through the return ducts, it typically carries with it dust, hair and other debris. The purpose of the furnace filter is to keep all of that dirt from collecting in the blower fan. This has several benefits. It prevents damage and excess wear on your furnace; it helps keep your furnace running efficiently; and it keeps all that dirt from recirculating in your home, reducing allergens and improving your indoor air quality.

The furnace filter is only effective until it becomes full, however, so to keep your furnace, functioning properly, it should be replaced with a new one every 1-3 months, depending on the type.

How Filters are Rated

Furnace filters are rated on the MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) scale, which runs from 1-16. The higher the rating, the more particles the filter will trap. Higher ratings aren’t necessarily better, however. The highest rated filters may not allow enough air to flow through and can make your furnace work harder (less efficiently). Most furnaces work best with a filter rated between 8 and 11. Check with your furnace manufacturer to determine if your model has a recommended maximum MERV rating.

Filter Types

Disposables

The most common filters are the disposable, pleated variety. These are made of paper and polyester. They vary in price from a few dollars up to $40, depending on the rating, size and brand. Pleated filters should be checked monthly, to make sure there are no blockages, and replaced every 3 months.

Another type of disposable filter is made of fiberglass. This is the cheapest, but also the flimsiest. Fiberglass filters have the lowest MERV rating and should be replaced monthly, so consider that when you are pricing them against longer-lasting pleated filters.

Permanent

Permanent reusable filters are expensive, but last up to 5 years with proper cleaning (every 3 months). Also called washable filters, they have either an aluminum or plastic frame and are more efficient than disposables. Clean them with a vacuum and water.

Electrostatic Filters

Both disposable and permanent filters are available in electrostatic versions, which self-charge as air passes through them. The charge allows them to collect more particles. Homes with pets or smokers can benefit from electrostatic filters. Make sure that they are safe to use with your particular furnace.

Filter Sizing

Furnace filters are sized by thickness, height and width. Check the old filter for the size (typically printed on the frame) before buying a replacement. If your furnace takes a custom size, check with the manufacturer for where to purchase.

How to Replace Your Filter

Replacing your furnace filter is simple, but it helps to do a little preparation. First, turn off the furnace while you are changing the filter so it doesn’t turn on during the process. Next, have a trash bag ready for the old disposable filter, as it will come out full of dust and dirt. Then open the filter compartment door (between the air intake and the furnace), and slide the old filter out. If you have a permanent filter, vacuum it off before cleaning it thoroughly with water and let it dry completely. Vacuum the outside of the furnace and around the filter area if it is dusty before inserting the new filter. Look for the arrow on the filter that indicates the direction of airflow. The arrow must face the furnace side of the compartment to work properly. Slide the new/clean filter into the compartment and restart the furnace.

Check your furnace filter every month, and replace it (or clean it) every 3 months. Doing so will help keep your furnace running properly, reduce the risk of breakdowns, and keep your energy bills low.

Still need help or interested in upgrading your filter? Rheem Pro Partners are here to assist you. Contact us today.