5 Common Problems with Older Air Conditioning Systems

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Air conditioning has become a necessity more than a luxury. It keeps you comfortable in extreme temperatures and also keeps you healthy by maintaining your indoor air quality. If you are finding that your air conditioner no longer cools as well or as consistently as it used to, however, it may be time for an inspection to determine if repairs are needed or the unit is ready to be replaced.

Here are 5 common problems that occur with an older air conditioning system.

1. Slow performance

The first sign you may notice that your old air conditioner is feeling its age will likely be that it just doesn’t cool your home as quickly as it once did. As with all mechanical systems, over time wear and tear take a toll on your air conditioner’s performance. Even with regular maintenance, eventually it will break down beyond what is economically feasible to repair. When you first experience this, you may not need to replace your system right away, but you should begin looking into a replacement so you have time to consider your options, and budget for a new one.

2. Poor efficiency

Older air conditioners can begin to show damage to components that directly impact performance and efficiency such as the coil, the compressor and even the fan. This damage results in the air conditioner having to work harder to keep you comfortable and use much more energy to do so. Even without the deterioration of major components, however, an older air conditioning system (15 years old or more) will not work as efficiently as it once did, or as efficiently as a new, recently designed model. Advances in technology have greatly improved efficiency over the past decade.

3. High energy bills

As a result of poor efficiency, another sign you may begin to notice is a rise in the amount you pay for your energy bills each month. As your air conditioner has to work harder to cool your home, you will have to pay more to get the same performance (or perhaps even worse performance).

4. Unit requires additional refrigerant

The need to add refrigerant is a signal that there might be a coolant leak. Replacing refrigerant and repairing the leak can be costly, but the larger concern is that this indicates the compressor will soon fail.

5. Frequent repairs.

The closer your air conditioner gets to the end of its useful life (typically 10-15 years), the more likely it is that breakdowns will occur more frequently and that they will occur when you really need your AC to function properly. If this has already happened, and the cost of repairs is adding up, you may find that it is more cost-effective to simply replace the entire unit instead of continuing to repair it. Because a newer model will be significantly more efficient, you will most likely be able to offset the cost of a new air conditioner with rebates from the manufacturer and/or your municipality, as well as from lower energy bills and no longer paying for all those repairs.

What You Can Do: To gauge the condition of your existing A/C, schedule an inspection with a Rheem Pro Partner HVAC technician today!

8 Indoor Air Quality Solutions to Alleviate Spring Allergies

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Spring is a welcome reprieve from the long Colorado winters — that is, unless you suffer from spring allergies. You don’t, however, have to suffer inside your home. For starters, you and your HVAC technician can provide relief by making sure the air filter, humidifier and air ducts (all key components that contribute to your indoor air quality) are in great shape.

Here are 8 solutions to alleviate spring allergies:

1. Change air filters every 30 days during peak usage months.

Clogged air filters cause your air conditioner to work harder — increasing the risk of a breakdown, shortening its useful life, and raising your energy bills. They also contribute to poor indoor air quality. Dust and debris that is normally filtered out of your air is recirculated. Pet hair, household chemicals, paint, and even carpet and furniture can contaminate your air as well. When your air filtration system isn’t working properly, the negative effects of these irritants is compounded. Poor indoor air quality can lead to allergies, asthma and other respiratory illnesses that can seriously jeopardize your health. Change your filter once a month and you and your family will breathe easier.

2. Clean hard and carpeted floor surfaces often and shake out or vacuum door mats.

You can ease the burden on your HVAC system and help your air stay cleaner by eliminating some of the dirt, dust and debris that gets into your home. Regular dusting and vacuuming reduces harmful allergens, dust and mites. Look for a vacuum that uses HEPA filters.

3. Check the seals in all windows and doors, and re-seal where necessary.

As you take steps to protect your indoor air quality, this will keep dust, pollen and other pollutants from getting into your home.

4. Use a humidifier  to balance humidity levels.

Humidity (the amount of water vapor in the air) varies by location, climate and time of year. High humidity contributes to the growth of mold and bacteria. Low humidity (overly dry air) contributes to dry, itchy skin, throat and nasal passages and can make you more susceptible to colds and flu. The level of humidity in your home is largely a personal preference and can be balanced with the use of a humidifier.

5. Install a whole-house air cleaner.

A whole-house air cleaner works with your HVAC system but goes beyond your HVAC air filters to remove contaminants from your air. Air cleaners trap particles as small as a human hair and work 24/7. They also prevent dust from building up, so you don’t have to clean as often.

6. Have your air ducts cleaned.

Dust and dirt (among other nasty things) can get trapped in your air ducts and contribute to poor indoor air quality. Have your ducts cleaned to prevent those particles from re-entering your living space.

7. Resist the urge to open doors and windows even on the nicest days!

Opening doors and windows lets in fresh air, but also allergens and dust along with it.

8. Have your home checked by an HVAC technician annually.

Your HVAC technician knows what to look for and can recommend the solutions that are right for your home.

Don’t suffer with spring allergies! Contact a Rheem Pro Partner today for indoor air quality assistance.

8 Reasons to Tune-up Your Home’s Air Conditioner in the Spring

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8 Reasons to Tune-up Your Home's Air Conditioner in the Spring

Spring is officially heading our way which means now is the perfect time to start thinking about your air conditioner. Regular air conditioner maintenance increases your system’s energy efficiency, which saves you money. Still not convinced it’s time for a tune-up? Consider these important reasons.

1. Maximize your air conditioner’s energy efficiency.

Yes, an efficient air conditioner uses less energy which saves money on utility bills. Keeping it running at peak efficiency, however, requires regular maintenance. Without it, your air conditioner could be working harder than it has to — running longer and using more energy to cool your home. Wasted energy is bad for the environment and bad for your wallet. Taking care of your system with annual tune-ups keeps it running smoothly, and the cost will be recouped in lower energy bills and fewer repairs down the road.

2. Extend the life of your air conditioner.

Even newer, high efficiency units can break down if they aren’t properly maintained. Regular maintenance will extend the life of the unit. Enjoy cool, comfortable temperatures in your home all season long, and year after year.

3. Maintain your warranty.

For a large investment, such as an air conditioner, your warranty provides some peace of mind that you won’t face a costly repair. However, many manufacturers today require regular maintenance to keep the warranty in force. Don’t take a chance. Protect your investment by scheduling a maintenance call.

4. Achieve more consistent cooling.

Comfort is the main reason to install a central air conditioner and one of the first signs of trouble is inconsistent cooling. Finding that your home doesn’t stay at the proper temperature as easily as it used to or that certain areas of your home don’t cool at all are problems that you can avoid with regular maintenance.

5. Have fewer repairs.

Your A/C professional is trained to spot and correct small problems long before they advance to costly repairs or even replacement.

6. Better air quality.

These days our homes are more tightly sealed for energy efficiency, but that means we are potentially more susceptible to indoor air pollution. Our HVAC systems are a key factor in ensuring that the air we breathe in our homes is clean and safe. During the maintenance check, your HVAC professional will replace all the air filters and make sure that your system is clean and safe.

7. Save money in the long run.

Let’s recap: Lower cooling costs each summer, fewer repairs, and keeping your warranty in full force should you need it, all add up to significant savings over the life of your air conditioner. In addition, proper maintenance will extend that life so you won’t have to replace it sooner than necessary. Tune-ups are part of the cost of owning and operating an air conditioner, but when you factor in the money you will save over time, they are actually saving you money!

8. Peace of mind.

Chances are, your life is busy enough without having to be concerned that your air conditioner is functioning properly and safely. The simplest, most economical way to have worry-free service from your air conditioner each year is to have your system professionally serviced and inspected before you are ready to use it.

Save money, protect the environment, ensure your peace of mind, and enjoy a comfortable home this summer. Contact a Rheem Pro Partner to schedule your maintenance tune-up today!

Modulating Rheem Furnace R97V Review

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R97V 80 Rheem Gas Furnace Review

The Rheem Furnace R97V offers the ultimate in comfort and maximum efficiency, as well as exceptional quality and reliability. This latest entry in the Prestige Series is an excellent choice for Colorado and Wyoming homeowners.

Comfort & Performance

The Rheem R97V combines 3 key features for maximum benefit.

  • A modulating gas valve – Modulating operation saves energy and optimizes comfort throughout your home. Because it automatically adjusts to minimize cold spots you don’t have to worry about adjusting the temperature yourself.
  • A variable-speed ECM blower motor – Variable speed allows for incremental adjustments, so whatever the conditions are outdoors, you experience just the right amount of air flow indoors. The variable speed motor also provides better humidity control and the new patented heat exchanger design improves airflow and reduces operating sound.
  • The EcoNetTM Control Center* lets you easily adjust your comfort settings from home or away and receive important alerts and reminders about your system.

Reliability

The R97V uses the Rheem-exclusive PlusOne Ignition System, one of the most reliable ignition systems available today. In fact, this proven direct spark ignition (DSI) is not only used exclusively by Rheem in the heating and cooling industry, it is also used on other appliances such as ovens and stoves that require a reliable ignition on a daily basis.

Security

The PlusOne Water Management System automatically shuts off your furnace to prevent water spillage and potential water damage to your home when it senses a blocked drain.

Installation & Maintenance Savings

The R97V has a smart design for easy installation which means less expense to you. The PlusOne Diagnostics 7-segment LED display makes service calls quick and easy as well.

Maximum Efficiency

The R97V Rheem Prestige Series Gas Furnace is not only high-performing, it gets an ENERGY STAR® rating for maintaining comfortable temperatures while reducing energy consumption and lowering utility bills. With an impressive 97% AFUE rating, the R97V is not only economical to operate, it may also be more affordable to purchase with local and/or utility rebates. (A Rheem Pro Partner can help you determine what rebates you qualify for.)

Peace of Mind

All this comfort, performance, efficiency and savings also comes with one of the best warranties in the industry. That translates to fewer repair bills and worry-free operation.

*purchase separately

Find out if the Modulating Rheem Furnace R97V is right for your home. Contact a Rheem Pro Partner today for free estimate.

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.