Posted by & filed under Air Conditioning, Furnace Maintenance.

Glorious spring is right around the corner! With warmer days ahead, homeowners get the long awaited satisfaction of turning off the furnace from running during the cold winter months. Although we all love our furnace and the warmth it provided during the frigid months of winter, it’s a great feeling to finally shut off our heating systems and turn on the AC until next season rolls around.

Electronic thermostat with blue LCD screen for controlling air conditioning and heating HVAC

 

So, what are the steps you need to know that involve turning off your heating system? For some homeowners, this is a routine ritual in which they have plenty of experience with over the years, but for newbies, there are several important procedures to follow to shut off your furnace’s operation.

Furnace Shut Off

  • The first thing you want to do is to turn off the pilot, particularly if you have an older system. By doing so, you’ll be shutting off the gas supply to the furnace. The pilot consumes gas 24/7 if left on, therefore, turning off the pilot light will help you conserve quite a bit of energy.
  • You’ll want to clean up any clutter that may have collected during the winter around your furnace. Since most furnaces are in the basement, this area can become a spot for storing boxes, luggage, or Christmas decorations, so clear it out for easier access to change filters.
  • Speaking of changing your filter, now is the perfect time to install a new, clean filter after the heating season. Your furnace and AC share the same air exchange, so if you want everything to run at tip-top performance prior to starting up your air-conditioning system, exchange the dirty filter for a fresh one.
  • There are two ways you can handle your air-ducts.  You can have a professional company come in and clean the air ducts in your home from top to bottom or you can inspect your air registers yourself and suck out the dust with a vacuum hose.
  • During the winter season, dirt may have accumulated around your home’s return and supply registers so this is a good time to give them a good cleaning.  This will prevent dirt from ending up on your air handler and/or cycling throughout your home.
  • Now that the heating season is over, determine how well your system performed this past year. Did your heating system operate as expected by keeping your home comfortable all season? Did you notice any problems or your heating costs were higher? If so, bring them up with your technician during your next scheduled turn-up.

AC Turn ON

  • The first thing you want to do is go outside, remove the cover and inspect your air conditioning unit. Remove any objects or overgrown vegetation within 18 inches of the unit and give the coils a spray down to remove any soot or dirt.
  • Back inside the house, make sure that you have changed the air filter in your furnace because your furnace and AC share the same air exchange. A dirty filter is where most problems begin so you should change it once a month during the summer season.
  • Make sure that the breaker and/or disconnected switch to the condenser is turned to the “on” position. Also, close your lower level vents so that the cooler air is concentrated in the middle and upper floors where needed most.
  • Once you have inspected the unit, cleaned it down, changed the filter, set your thermostat to cool, turn the fan to auto, flip the switch and turn on your AC.
  • Now that you have set the thermostat settings correctly, go back outside to make certain that your condenser has turned on and the blades are spinning. Once this has occurred and all looks well, go back in the house and feel an air register for cool air coming through.

Follow The Steps

Shutting down your furnace from its winter operation and turning on your AC system to enjoy the cool air during the summer months is simple if you follow these rules. In need of professional assistance? Hamilton Home Comfort provides inspections and annual system maintenance so that you can enjoy both seasons worry free.

Posted by & filed under Air Conditioning.

Ask any homeowner and they’ll tell you that the cooling and heating system is one of the most costly portions of their energy bills. It goes without saying that the average home in Ontario has seen a spike in utility bills, particularly in electricity costs, so having an AC system work efficiently and properly is paramount to managing energy costs.

 

Central Air Conditioning Unit

 

Spring is a great time to test your system because you don’t want to find out on the hottest day of the year that your air conditioner has stopped working.

The Inside of a Central AC

There are two major components inside a central AC system. One is the condensing unit outside your home. The other is the evaporator coil that sits inside the plenum of your furnace. The refrigerant in the A-coil of the furnace picks up the heat inside your home and pushes it outside to the condensing unit where the unit’s fan blows the outside air through the condensing coil to remove heat. When this occurs, the inside of the house cools down to the desired temperature.

Testing Your Unit

If you aren’t sure whether your air conditioner is operating at full efficiency, you can try this test to find out whether your air conditioner needs a tune-up. After your AC unit has been running for at least 15 minutes, the outdoor temperature is above 26 Celsius, set a thermometer on the supply register that’s closest to the inside cooling unit.

Keep the thermometer there for five minutes and note the temperature. You should also repeat this process on the return vent. The air coming out should be -10 to -6 cooler that the air going in. If the air conditioner is not cooling at these levels, you could be low on refrigerant or you could have a leak. If your unit is not cooling more than the above-noted degrees, you could have a blockage in the unit.

Other methods you can try if your AC is not cooling but runs:

  1. Turn off the power.
  2. Clean or change the filter.
  3. Look to see if ice has formed on the coils and, if it has, turn on the power and the fan to melt it.
  4. Clean the condensate drain.
  5. Finally, check and clean the outdoor compressor.

When to Call a Technician

It’s always nice to save a few bucks and try to solve a problem yourself before you have to call a service technician; however, sometimes it’s the only way to rectify a situation. If you don’t call a technician when you should, you could worsen the problem and it can be more costly. With that in mind, here are some guidelines when you should consider contacting a service professional.

  • If you haven’t had your air conditioner inspected in over a year, you should call a professional to do a thorough inspection, ensuring your system is operating at peak efficiency and catching any issues early on.
  • If you notice your air conditioner just doesn’t seem to be working right and you’ve done the basics (changing filters, cleaning the unit), you should call an AC technician now before the problem gets worse.
  • If your AC breaks down, call an AC technician immediately rather than trying to fix the problem yourself. Mistakes on your part could be costly and even dangerous.

Spring and summer are almost here, It’s a good idea to test your system now so there will be no unfortunate surprises on the hottest days of the year.

Posted by & filed under Heating.

Outdoor HeatersWith the feel of spring just beginning, you can enjoy your long weekends on the patio with an outdoor patio heater. A patio heater provides comfort and extends your living space in the cool weather of late fall and milder evenings of early spring.

The right choice will allow you to lengthen your seasons, but there are several things to consider when choosing a heater that suits your needs the best.

Power Source

Outdoor patio heaters come in a variety of different power sources, such as gas, propane, and electric, but which one is best for you as the main heat source can be confusing. Consider your lifestyle when choosing your heater and when shopping, compare the heat output of different models. Use these considerations as your guideline.

A natural gas patio heater is convenient and start-up is immediate, but you may find that you are restricted by where it can be located. For those who already have a gas line running to your barbeque, this is the ideal situation because this will reduce your cost of connecting to a patio heater, but you’ll still have to determine the location or the heater relative to the area of the barbeque. If you do decide on selecting a gas-powered patio heater, you’ll have the cost of running the gas line, in addition to the cost of the heater and finding it a home.

Propane operated patio heaters offer you the versatility of where the heater can be located, but just like propane barbeques, propane runs out. There is nothing worse than running your tank out during a large gathering, so you must always have an extra tank as your backup plan. As for cost, propane will run you a bit more money, but the flexibility of location is worth the added costs.

From the point of affordability and flexibility of location, electric heaters are often a more practical choice, but with hydro prices being what they are in Ontario, this selection may not be the ideal option for you if your outdoor patio heater is going to run a considerable amount of time. On the other hand, because electric patio heaters have no open flame, they could be considered a safer alternative for families with children.

Dual Heat & Radiant Heat

You can choose among outdoor patio heaters that provide dual heat settings. These setting allow you to control the heat output depending on your need. Also, there are some outdoor patio heaters that provide radiant heat. These types of heaters provide you with more efficiency that helps to control your energy costs.

Remember that hot air rises; therefore some heated air will be lost to the atmosphere. You can help conserve some of that heat by placing your patio heater at a safe distance beneath an umbrella or awning. Always avoid exposing a propane unit to the wind because blustery conditions will make it difficult to light.

Output

There are several types of outdoor patio heaters that offer differing amounts of heat output, so review them carefully to determine which best suits your needs or ask a professional.

Safety

You should consider the safety requirements of operating an outdoor patio heater, such as the presence of children and/or pets in the house. Your patio heater should be anchored because a toppling heater can result in burns and property damage. And, remember to place the unit in an area where the electrical cord does not become a tripping hazard.

Enjoyment

Homeowners spend a lot of money and energy in making their outdoor spaces beautiful, expansive and extendable for the seasons. A patio heater will ensure you get the most from this space and turn chilly nights into cozy, star filled evenings enjoyed by friends and family.

Posted by & filed under Furnace Maintenance.

lennox-furnace-installed-by-hamilton-home-comfortGroundhog day has come and gone and despite what Wiarton Willy has to say, winter is here to stay. At least for the next six weeks. Keep those toes toasty with your reliable furnace.

When you first turned the heat on this fall, your furnace didn’t let you down. As the cold blustery winter continues, be sure to return that favour and show that furnace a little winter love.

Furnace Filters

A clean filter that is changed out regularly is your furnace’s best friend. This is the number one important thing you can do for your furnace. If you are using a high-end filter, it will perform better than its cheaper counterparts but can restrict air flow. They will filter out smaller particles and can make the air you breathe cleaner. They need to be changed out less frequently (every three to six months).

The cheaper filters will be a little easier on the blower but don’t filter out small particles like the higher-end filters out there. These filters will work just fine for any furnace but will need to be changed monthly. Many will choose to change their furnace filters on the first day of each month.

When compared, both kinds of filters will end up costing roughly the same over the life of your furnace. Keeping a clean filter in the furnace is especially important during the winter months when all the window and doors are locked up tight and the quality of your air might not be at its best.

Declutter your Furnace Surrounding

Reduce clutter around your furnace. During the winter months, your furnace will need to go that extra mile. Your furnace is also likely to need a repair when it’s working it’s hardest. Don’t make it hard for the professionals to navigate to your furnace if it does break down. Cold nights will need a lot of heat and having things stacked around the area of your furnace will make it difficult for it to do its job. Clutter will decrease efficiency. Clutter around the furnace will also pose a hazard. A good rule of thumb is nothing within 18 inches of a furnace unit.

Furnace Inspection

If you haven’t already, now is the time to have your furnace inspected and cleaned. Everything needs a check-up from time to time and your furnace is no exception. Call in the professionals to give it a once over along with a good scrub. This yearly maintenance will prolong the life and efficiency of the unit and keep it humming along all winter.

Most furnaces are gas and a few are still oil. It is advisable that any repairs to your furnace unit be done by a professional.

Taking care of your furnace during the months when it works hardest for you, will keep it in great working condition for longer. A furnace that isn’t encumbered by dust, dirt, and a filthy filter, will work more efficiently, saving you money in the long run.

From installation to repairs and routine maintenance our certified technicians at Hamilton Home Comfort will keep your furnace running quietly, smoothly and efficiently. Contact us today and our team of experts will be ready to help you with all your furnace needs.

Posted by & filed under Fireplaces.

There are very few things in life as comforting as sitting in front of a warm fireplace with a hot drink and enjoying a quiet, peaceful night. The decision to install a fireplace in your home is a large one since you might have to take out a section of a wall, run utility lines where you didn’t previously have them, and build a mantle to name a few pieces of installing a fireplace. The biggest decision, though, besides the one to install the fireplace, is what kind of fireplace you want to install: gas or electric. Each kind has its own benefits and drawbacks, and really only you can decide which one you want based on your lifestyle and needs; there isn’t a right answer for everyone. Before making the purchase, here are some things you should consider about each type of fireplace.

Gas FireplacesNapoleon GDIZC Gas Insert Fireplace

The great thing about gas fireplaces is that they are really low maintenance, but the fantastic thing about them is that you don’t have to, usually, invest in a complete overhaul renovation of your home to have one if you have an existing wood fireplace. There are gas fireplace inserts that are designed to utilize the space your old wood-burning fireplace took up so you don’t have nearly the renovation effort to install one. The inserts will either use your existing chimney for ventilation or there are factory-made insulated ones that can be installed as well, depending on the set up of your home and your preference.

What’s more is that you can also install accessories for this kind of fireplace for automatic shut offs, thermostat controls, and even a remote control to operate the fireplace for total convenience. These are much safer than a traditional wood-burning fireplace since wood fires have to be attended until all the ashes are cold as even warm ashes could spark a fire.

Advantages of a Gas Fireplace

  • They turn on and off instantly, so there’s very little setup time and you don’t have to wait for them to cool down when you’re ready to leave.
  • Minimal yearly maintenance.
  • Great source of heat.
  • Gas continues working when the power is out, so during the winter if you lose power in a bad storm you can still use this fireplace as a backup heat and light source.

Disadvantages of a Gas Fireplace

  • They don’t crackle like a real fireplace will
  • Can be costly to install if you don’t have a previous fireplace to use, or if you have to run gas lines where there previously weren’t any.

Electric FireplacesNapoleon Woodland 24 Electric Fireplace

These kinds of fireplaces are the truly faux fireplaces since there isn’t a real flame at all. What electric fireplaces do is project a digital image of a moving flame to mimic the look of a real fire. They do produce heat, however, they are completely reliant on electricity. What is attractive about these is that they’re simple and usually cheap to purchase and are really easy to install. They really are just plug and go, so no expensive installation or renovations to your home.

Benefits of an Electric Fireplace

  • Temporary: if you are living in a place you know you won’t be living in for long then this is perfect as it’s not a large investment but you can still have the feel of a fireplace.
  • They are inexpensive to purchase and won’t take very long to set up.

Disadvantages of an Electric Fireplace

  • It’s not very realistic looking and it doesn’t create the same ambiance that a wood-burning or gas fireplace does.
  • If there’s a power outage during a storm it won’t work so you can’t use it as a heat or light source during that time.
  • It may be more expensive to produce heat since it runs off of electricity.

When it comes down to choosing a fireplace that’s right for you, you really have to pick whatever it is that works with your lifestyle. If you know you are going to stay in your home for a long time and want to invest in installing a gas fireplace that will truly enhance your living space then that’s what is right for you. If you are living in a small apartment or rental and you know it’s only temporary, but can’t stand being without a fireplace, then perhaps a small electric one is best for you until you are in a home where you want to install something more permanent. Either way, a fireplace is an amazing addition to any living space and will help you enjoy the cold winters as you snuggle up with a hot drink and your favourite book.

Once you’ve decided between the two, the next step is to look into the various models to see which suits your needs and your space best. At Hamilton Home Comfort our fireplace experts can provide every service you need including finding the right fireplace for you, fireplace installation, maintenance, and repair. Contact us today and our team will help you get started.

Posted by & filed under Heating, Uncategorized.

Woman sitting in cold house with winter coat on

 

The winter is about to descend on South Western Ontario, and like so many previous years, we could be hit with a season of frigid temperatures including an abundance of ice, sleet and snow. During the cold winter months, it’s important that your furnace is running at peak operation so that you are safe and comfortable in your home.

Unfortunately, many homeowners may discover all too late that this essential equipment is not performing optimally and in some case making weird noises. Before you find out deep into January that your furnace is faltering or failed, assess your heating system beforehand by knowing some of the warning signs that your furnace is old and needs replacing.

These eight warning tips are based on a report on research undertaken by the Federal Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, and regional electric and gas utilities. It also draws upon the expertise of heating and cooling manufacturers, trade associations and field service personnel.

1. How old is your furnace?

A good place to start is to compare your furnaces age to the national average. The average life expectancy of furnaces in homes today is between 16 and 20 years. If your furnace is close to this age or older, you should begin shopping. Most people prefer to replace their furnace as a planned home improvement rather than a panic replacement when the furnace has failed.

2. Gas & Electric Bills Going Up?

Furnaces often lose their efficiency as they age, especially if they have not been properly maintained. As a result, your furnace may run longer to provide the same amount of heat. This will cause your gas & electric bills to go up.

3. Furnace Repairs in the past two years?

Furnaces incur the most breakdowns in the last two years of their lives. As they age, you can replace one part only to have to replace another part next year, and it doesn’t take long to spend $500 just to keep the old furnace running.

4. Does your thermostat keep you comfortable?

Do you feel that some rooms are too cold while others are too hot or always trying to adjust your thermostat to make your home more comfortable? This is a sign that your furnace lacks the ability to properly distribute the air to keep you comfortable in your home.

5. Is your burner flame yellow instead of blue?

A yellow or flickering flame may be a sign that poisonous carbon monoxide could be created by your furnace. Other possible signs of carbon monoxide are:

  • Streaks of soot around the furnace
  • Absence of an upward draft in your chimney
  • Excess moisture found on windows, walls, or other cold surfaces
  • Excessive rusting on flue pipes, other pipe connections,
  • Small amount of water leaking from the base of the chimney, vent, or flue pipe
  • Rust on the portion of the vent pipe visible from the outside

6. Is your furnace making strange noises?

Old furnaces often start to make some strange noises as they get toward the end of their life, such as banging, popping, rattling or squealing noises. Another noise is when you hear the furnace blower running excessively, your blower turns on & off frequently or blows cold air sometimes.

7. How have you & your family been feeling?

As they age, furnaces run the risk of developing cracks in the heat exchanger inside your furnace and if carbon monoxide is present, could leak into your home undetected. You might experience frequent headaches, a burning feeling in nose or eyes, nausea, disorientation or flu-like symptoms. If so, air out your house, open a window to the furnace room and immediately call 911.

8. Is your house dry or dusty?

Old furnaces often lack the ability to moisturize and clean the air in your home, which makes your home feels stuffy or stale. You can worsen allergies to airborne dust, mold, pollen, viruses or dander. Other signs may be frequent dust accumulation, static shocks, drooping plants, furniture cracking and musical instruments that do not stay in tune.

If you fear that your furnace is on its “last legs” or it just simply needs a service we can help, contact us today!

Posted by & filed under Furnace Maintenance, Furnace Repair, Heating.

With winter on its way, the time is now to get your furnace ready for the upcoming cold season. Hamilton Home Comfort offers the following ten tips to make sure your furnace is operational, safe, and as energy-efficient as you can make it and we suggest you complete them before the cold snap hits!

Furnace - Before and After - Goodman Gas Furnace

1. Check and replace your furnace filter if needed.

Having a clogged filter makes your furnace work harder, costing you more money on your energy bill. Be proactive and clean the filter every 30 days.

2. Switch your thermostat from cooling to heating and ensure it’s working properly.

This will prevent waking up freezing in the morning on the night a cold snap happens!

3. Consider getting a programmable thermostat.

If you don’t have one already, a programmable thermostat will save you a lot of money on your energy bill. For example, program the thermostat to increase the temperature during bedtime and automatically lower it when you’re at work during the day.

4. Clean out your furnace room.

Over the warmer months, clutter may have accumulated around the furnace. Take the time to move things that have been placed against the furnace and thoroughly clean the whole area. Also, vacuum the outside surface of your furnace to remove any dirt or cobwebs. Ensure that no flammable objects are left around the furnace!

5. Make sure the burners are free of dirt.

When cleaning the burners, also look for rust and misalignment.

6. Clean ducts and vents.

Also, ensure that all of the air ducts and return vents throughout your home are clear of any clutter or furniture. This allows the air to circulate freely and makes your furnace work more efficiently. A blocked vent could result in an overheated furnace.

7. Check the blower belt and oil the blower motor.

To ensure your heating system functions well, the furnace blower should be oiled once a year (sealed motors do not require this) and should not make any strange noises when started. A loose belt can make the furnace work harder, and frayed or cracked belts should be replaced.

8. Replace blower doors properly.

Keeping the blower doors tightly closed will keep the heating byproducts such as carbon monoxide from being circulated throughout the home.

9. Clear the exhaust flue to the outside of any obstructions and in good condition.

Check that all connections are securely fastened.

10. Schedule an appointment with an HVAC technician.

Having a technician complete a regular maintenance inspection will involve cleaning the furnace, changing the filter, checking for leaks and ensuring everything is in operational order. The technician may also clean the furnace ducts if needed.

Preparing your furnace for winter is one of the most important tasks to do this fall. The experts at Hamilton Home Comfort are here to help ensure that your furnace is in good working order. Call us today to schedule your inspection before the frigid temperatures set in!

Posted by & filed under Fireplaces.

In the spirit of keeping you outdoors longer, the outdoor fireplace is fast becoming a popular addition to the patio.

Unlike a fire pit, an outdoor patio fireplace will generally sit against one wall or at one end of your outdoor space. An outdoor fireplace will anchor your space and provide a cozy comfortable seating area well into the autumn months. Any outdoor heating will extend your season but a fireplace does it with style.

 

outdoor gas fireplace

 

Like any fireplace, the heat that comes from the unit will be radiant heat and depending on its size and the size of your patio, will warm all those who come near it. The average outdoor fireplace will heat within 10 feet of the unit. Choosing the design of your outdoor patio fireplace should take into account the amount of space available and any unit decided on should fit your space. Choosing your heat source is as important as the design. Outdoor fireplaces can utilize natural gas, propane, electricity, or good old fashioned wood to produce heat.

Safety Measures for an Outdoor Patio Fireplace

Like any addition to your patio space, safety is key. A fireplace can become a hazard if not treated with the kind of respect that any open flame demands. Children should never be left unattended around the fireplace and proper screening needs to be kept in place when the fireplace is in use. Ensure there is sufficient room around the fireplace. A minimum of 48 inches on all sides is recommended. If safety is on your mind, consider an electric fireplace. These provide an extra level of security from burns.

Where to Place your Outdoor Fireplace

Fireplaces are most often placed against a wall. Outdoor fireplaces are no exceptions. It’s important to ensure that any surface your outdoor patio fireplace is placed against is safe for the kind of heat your fireplace will generate. If a free standing fireplace is what you want, it will provide 360 viewing pleasure as well as heat all around its placement. Free-standing fireplaces are more costly, however, a budget is important when choosing the right fireplace for your outdoor space.

Bylaws in your Area

Making the decision to add an outdoor fireplace to your patio should be made with your local bylaws in mind. Depending on your location, the fire bylaws differ. Breaking the law for the sake of ambiance should never be a consideration.

An outdoor fireplace isn’t just an accessory for your patio. It can be the focal point but also a heat source that allows you and your loved ones to live outside, longer. Ready to enjoy your outdoor space during the cooler seasons, contact us today and our team of experts at Hamilton Home Comfort will help. We offer a vast variety of outdoor fireplaces, and we will make sure to find you one that meets you and your outdoor space’s needs.

Posted by & filed under Energy Saving, Fireplaces, Heating.

With the kids back in school and cooler weather on the horizon, perhaps your thoughts have already turned toward winter. If you’ve been thinking of getting a fireplace that you and your sweetie can snuggle up in front of this winter, then you’ve got a number of decisions to make including not just the style, but also whether you will you decide to go with a Gas Fireplace or Electric Fireplace for your home?

Closeup of electric artificial fireplace with orange fire flame interior

 

For residents in and around Hamilton, we always recommend gas for the following reasons:

Gas Uses a Real Flame

While it is true that they don’t offer the crackling sounds and aromas of a wood fireplace, the flames are much more realistic than the obviously fake flames of electric fireplaces.

They Will Work During Power Outages

Being situated as it is near Lake Ontario, Hamilton winters can often bring ice storms and blackouts. And when the electricity is off – so is your electric fireplace. A gas fireplace on the other hand, will continue to work, and can provide a nice romantic ambience when the weather outside is miserable.

They Are More Efficient

With the flick of a button on your thermostat or remote control, you can effectively use gas fireplaces to heat your home. If you have more than one gas fireplace, you can turn off your central heating and only use fireplaces in the rooms where you and your family are spending time (often referred to as zone heating). Electric fireplaces on the other hand are not an efficient method of heating – think of them supped up space heaters!

They Can Provide A Greater Amount Of Heat

Gas fireplaces are typically available with higher BTU capacities than are electric. If you are heating a very small room, an electric fireplace might do the trick but for larger areas, a gas fireplace is often more appropriate.

They Are Available In A Greater Variety Of Styles, Shapes and Sizes

While electric fireplaces have come a long way over the years, they are still behind gas fireplaces when it comes to sheer choice of styles and appearances. Since their appearance is one of the reasons why many people choose to have them installed in their homes, it is important to find a unit that suits your tastes and décor. Today’s gas fireplaces are works or art! With a gas fireplace, you’ll have much better chance of finding something that you like.

They Can Pay For Themselves

One of the biggest reasons why some people choose electric over gas, is that electric fireplaces tend to be quite a bit less expensive (especially when you include the cost of installation). But according to the Marshall & Swifts appraisers’ handbook, about 91% of the cost of a good quality gas fireplace can be recouped when selling your home.

Adding a gas fireplace to your home is an excellent way to add warmth and ambiance to your home this winter. For more information or assistance in choosing the size and style that is right for your space, Contact the team at Hamilton Home Comfort today!