Why HVAC Hacks May Cost Your More than You Bargained For

If you’re like many homeowners, you have probably installed a number of things in your own home. From replacing lightbulbs and paint colors to installing new faucet hardware, a new appliance, or – worst yet – twinkling outdoor lights during the holidays, you consider yourself handy with tools and the eventual, begrudging use of the owner’s manual. Still, you probably realize some things are beyond your breadth. Perhaps you’ve unclogged a drain or two, but caved and called a plumber when you failed in your attempts to repair a more complex leak. Maybe you did a little DIY stain on your kitchen cabinets but decided to bring in a contractor for the custom tile. Everyone has their limits.

In this post, we’ve outlined 5 reasons you should NOT DIY the installation or major repair on your heating and cooling system. Just like with any other big facet of home ownership, there are DIY tasks – like changing filters – that you can handle at no cost and there are things you must invest in, that require a pro. HVAC is far more complex than most people know and more importantly, the dangers of performing an HVAC repair or installation wrong are WAY too costly.

5 Reasons to Trust an HVAC Professional Instead of DIY

Here are just 5 reasons why you hire an HVAC professional rather than take on a repair yourself:

The Safety of You and Your Family

HVAC is dangerous. Any technician will tell you that there are risks involved with the work we do and we’re trained on how to prevent and deal with those risks. Your heating and cooling system components include sharp edges, heavy equipment, electric elements, and refrigerant – which is cold enough to burn your skin. If you’re not trained on how to handle this, your safety is in harm’s way. If you are injured, you don’t have the protection of worker’s insurance and the costs will be yours to bear.

Further, a poorly installed system or ill-gotten replacement could cost the safety of your family as well. HVAC systems can cause fires, gas leaks, and a number of other shortages that could implicate your loved ones – a risk nobody should take.

Following the Law ­­

The Environmental Protection Agency, commonly referred to as the EPA, has sanctioned laws on the handling of HVAC related materials including refrigerant or any system which already contains refrigerant – you’re not legally able to, nor is it safe to do so. Failure to comply with regulations that govern refrigerant gas are punishable with fines and more punitive measures. Further, improper use of refrigerant gas can also harm the environment and be unsafe for you and your family.

Concerns in the Long Term

Your HVAC system impacts the air you, your family members, and your guests breathe while inside of your home. Improper installation, repair, or ventilation of your HVAC system can increase the humidity in your home, leading to mold, as well as causing filtration issues which will contaminate the air you breathe. Most especially, when a gas furnace is improperly installed, it can build up and emit carbon monoxide gas into your home, which can poison you or your family members. Carbon monoxide is referred to as the silent killer because symptoms can range from flu-like to fatal.

The Costs You Might Incur

By making major errors when installing or repairing an HVAC system, you can compromise the integrity of the system as well as cause damage to the areas of your home affected by the system components and ducts. You’ll run the risk of major costs of time and money if you have to redo steps in your installation or repair, or if you cause other problems in the process.

The Resale Implications

Your current home may be where you hang your hat for a lifetime – or it might not. The fact is, most people sell 2-3 of the homes they buy in a lifetime. Just in case your life takes a turn and you decide to upgrade your home, your family outgrows it, or you opt to relocate for a job or other circumstance, it’s best to ensure that your home is made resell-ready. By making investments that are smart and responsible – such as keeping your HVAC system updated – you can ensure top dollar resale value and ease of obtaining a buyer. Contrarily, if you have performed a DIY install-gone-bad on your HVAC system, or opted to repair it yourself (and maybe missed a few key steps) you could be selling a lemon. Since nearly all homebuyers obtain a professional inspection before purchase – especially if obtaining a loan, wherein an inspection would be mandated – your DIY project will be found and documented for sure.

When assessing the costs of a new HVAC system install or repairs to your existing heating & cooling system, be wise. The DIY option only looks more affordable.  In the long-run, hiring a professional to install, repair, and routinely maintain your system will keep you safe and save you money. Choose Sheldon’s for all of your system repair, new system purchase and install, or routine maintenance needs.

Detecting the Invisible: Finding Carbon Monoxide Buildups in a Home

Carbon monoxide is odorless, tasteless – and potentially lethal. Proper ventilation in homes and businesses usually keeps levels well below the point where it can cause harm. However, when ventilation is not set up properly, is blocked off, or carbon monoxide is produced in large quantities, people can be in danger.

Dangers of Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide can affect anyone when it reaches dangerous levels, but infants, the elderly, people with chronic heart disease or anemia, and people with breathing problems are especially vulnerable. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than 20,000 people visit the emergency room each year for carbon monoxide poisoning; 4,000 are hospitalized and 400 die.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning begin with headaches, dizziness, nausea, chest pains, and confusion. Continued exposure to high levels of the gas can lead to a loss of consciousness and eventual death.

Producers of Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is produced by many household items and various equipment used in many industries. Any time fuel is burned, carbon monoxide is produced. This means stoves, cars, furnaces, water heaters, lanterns, grills, etc. all produce the gas.

Harmless levels of carbon monoxide are present in all homes and nearly everywhere else. It is only when carbon monoxide is allowed to build up in an area that it poses a danger to humans.

Detecting Carbon Monoxide and Preventing Poisoning

Installing a carbon monoxide detector is the best way to detect potential buildups of the gas in a home and prevent poisoning. These detectors should be place near all bedrooms and be maintained regularly to ensure correct functioning. Not all carbon monoxide detectors are equally effective; research detectors online before choosing which to buy.

Having detectors is only part of a system that needs to be in place to prevent carbon monoxide buildups that can lead to poisoning in homes.

Other Prevention Methods

  • Never start a fire in a fireplace without first opening the flue and inspecting the chimney for buildups.
  • Have chimneys cleaned regularly to prevent blockages, which can prevent ventilation of carbon monoxide.
  • Never start a car in a closed garage. Car exhaust contains high levels of carbon monoxide, which can build up quickly in an enclosed space.
  • When using a wood-burning stove, ensure the doors close fully and it vents correctly so the gas does not escape into the house.
  • Always use appropriate fuel in kerosene heaters.
  • Inspect all gas appliances in the home regularly and have them serviced by professionals.
  • Heating systems, especially furnaces, need to be inspected yearly by an expert for any damage or other problems.
  • Never operate gasoline-powered machines indoors.
  • Never bring a grill indoors and start it.
  • If you have a gas refrigerator and smell an odor coming from it, contact a technician immediately; this may be a sign of a carbon monoxide leak.
  • Do not use a gas range or oven for heating.

Carbon monoxide typically does not pose a threat because detectors, ventilation, and simple safety measures usually are enough to prevent incidents of carbon monoxide poisoning. If you need to make sure that you are protected, call us for more information about preventing carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon Monoxide: Why Something Odorless & Colorless Doesn’t Have to Go Unnoticed

 

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, and tasteless gas that occurs when there is a lack of oxygen or disruption in the burning process of fuels like wood or natural gas. Carbon monoxide can come from household appliances like your furnace, especially if it has been installed improperly or is not in proper working order. Carbon monoxide can have a negative impact on your health, so it is vital that you work to protect your home and prevent carbon monoxide leaks.

Protect Your Home from Dangers of Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is an invisible threat to the health and safety of your family. It is important to take any preventative measures you can to protect your home from a carbon monoxide leak.

How to Detect Carbon Monoxide in Your Home

The best way to detect carbon monoxide in your home is by using a carbon monoxide detector. This device is similar to a smoke alarm as it monitors the air for carbon monoxide and sounds an alarm if high or hazardous levels are detected in your home. It is best to place a detector near each living area in your home.

Even if the alarms don’t go off, you could still be exposed to low levels of carbon monoxide that can cause health issues. If you or anyone in your home is experiencing symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, nausea, or chest pain, don’t wait to take action. Call your HVAC company right away to inspect your heating system.

HVAC Safety Tips for Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide poisoning poses serious health risks, and one of the best ways to avoid this from happening in your home is by taking the right preventative measures. An HVAC company can help you prevent carbon monoxide leaks from happening in your home. Use the following tips to help protect you and your family:

  • Schedule regular heating system maintenance. You should have your heating system inspected and address any issues at least once per year before the start of the winter season. The HVAC technician will look at your furnace, vents, chimneys, fireplaces, and any appliances that burn fuel in order to identify any issues that may put you at risk for carbon monoxide leaks.
  • Inspect the heat exchanger. The typical furnace maintenance visit from your HVAC company may not include a heat exchanger inspection. The heat exchanger is one of the most common causes of carbon monoxide leaks, so it is important to make sure that this part is not leaking or failing.
  • Make sure your vents and flues are clean. Your ventilation system is meant to help move hazardous gases outside of your home, so it is important to make sure your vents are not blocked or clogged. Blocked chimney flues is another common cause of carbon monoxide leaks, so it is important to make sure that these are also cleaned and clear of debris.

One of the best ways to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning is by scheduling regular preventative maintenance with an experienced HVAC technician. If you need a tune-up or inspection of your heating system, call us today.