How to maintain your furnace

Each year, when the cold hits Toronto, many homeowners go to turn on their gas furnace, only to discover that it is not working correctly. Then in a panic they scramble to find a certified HVAC contractor that can repair the furnace before cold weather sets in for the winter.

There are ways you can avoid, or at least diminish problems, through proper furnace maintenance.

Here are a few tips.

1. Call Early
The main thing to remember is to call early if you are going to let a professional do the job. Late September or early October is the best time to call. Not only will it be easier to get an HVAC technician then, but you may actually be able to schedule an appointment so that you can make arrangements for someone to be there when the technician comes.

2. Contact Your Utility Company
You may also want to schedule an appointment with the utility company that supplies your natural gas to perform a routine inspection at the same time you schedule the HVAC technician. This way, you won’t have to make separate arrangements for someone to be present.

– When you do schedule your appointment with the utility company, you want the inspecting personnel to check connections and pipes running from the gas source to the meter and then from the meter to the heating source. The technician will be able to determine if there are any problems that the utility company will need to address.

3. Find Out How Extensive the Inspection Is
When you schedule your appointment with the HVAC technician (if you are going to do this, rather than do it yourself), ask what the inspection will cover. Depending on what service you will receive, you may need to ask him to:

Make sure everything is working properly so that carbon monoxide is not escaping. This is also a good time to ask about purchasing carbon monoxide detectors or having them installed.
Have pilot lights relit if they are extinguished during summer.
Make sure area around furnace is clear to avoid fire hazards.
Have the vents and ductwork professionally cleaned.

4. When you DIY, be thorough as above

If you decide to perform your own furnace maintenance, you will want to check the same things that are listed in Step 3, and perform the same operations.
About Annual Inspections

If you have decided that you learned how to maintain your furnace well enough to do this every year, there are some things you can do on a regular basis, both before the cold weather begins, and during the winter.

Change the filters regularly, at least every three months. If you notice a lot of dust build-up on them between changes, you may want to make it a once-a-month task. When you perform your first maintenance before cold weather comes, this is the time to purchase new furnace filters, even if the ones you have can be cleaned easily by brushing, shaking, beating, washing with the garden hose, or other methods. You can use your cleaning methods to maintain the filters between changes.

When you get ready to install the new filters, take a few minutes to clean around the opening where the filter fits, as well as cleaning the grate or cover that goes over the filter. This will ensure that your filters are being installed in as clean an environment as possible. Once your furnace maintenance is complete, you should be able to enjoy a warm house during the winter. However, if at any time during the furnace’s use you smell a gas odor, take immediate action. Get out of the house, and call 9-1-1. Natural gas is extremely flammable and explosive.

About Oil Furnaces

Some homeowners use oil furnaces to provide heat during the cold weather months. These furnaces require different maintenance techniques than natural gas ones. Again, however, you can learn how to maintain your furnace by following these steps or have a certified HVAC technician do it for you.

1. Clean the blower once before the cold weather sets in, and again at some point during the middle of the cold-weather season. Use a hand-held vacuum cleaner with both a brush and hose extension attachment, or use new paintbrushes in different sizes to clean around the fan blades and different parts.

Do not use anything that may cause static electricity. In addition, you might want to cut the power supply to the furnace while you are working with your oil furnace for added safety.
Don’t forget to lubricate any fittings that may need it when you are doing your mid-season cleaning. Use cup oil or a very lightweight motor oil that doesn’t contain cleaning agents. Do not use ordinary household oil.
Change the filters when you perform furnace maintenance for the first time then as often as needed during the remainder of the cold season. This includes any ventilation filters as well as the oil filter.

2. If your furnace has one, clean the stack control before heating season begins. Remove it from its housing and clean it gently but thoroughly with a rag dipped in warm water and mild soap.

Remember to use caution when cleaning and maintaining your furnace, whether it is natural gas or oil. If you just don’t feel confident that you have mastered how to maintain your furnace yourself, don’t hesitate to call JCJ Mechanical Heating & AC at 416 967-0717.

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Air Conditioning Basics

The efficiency of your Air Conditioning System is extremely important to the overall power consumption of your home because the heating, ventilation and cooling system consumes about 40% to 50% of the electrical power in your home.

What does HVAC mean?

HVAC is an acronym for Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning.

Air Conditioning

Basically there are three factors to take into consideration when choosing an air conditioning system.

  1. Efficiency – Purchase the most efficient air conditioning system available. HVAC specialists use the acronym S.E.E.R. numbers to compare cooling systems, which stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating. The higher the S.E.E.R. number the more efficient the air conditioning unit is. The minimum efficiency is 10 and the maximum efficiency is 18, so make certain the efficiency is above 10.
  2. Climate – The climate in your area will determine your cooling requirements.
  3. Noise – Don’t forget to take into consideration the noise factor involved with a cooling unit, so choose a carefully. 
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How to buy a Air Conditioning System

Buying an air conditioner is not like buying a car. Your car is assembled at the factory and each dealer gets the same quality for that make and model while yc air conditioner is shipped to the dealer in to be assembled by the contractor at your house.

 

If each car dealer had to assemble your car the way each air conditioning contractor has to assemble your cooling system you would be a lot more careful when choosing a car dealer. It would be very important that the car dealer you chose knew how to assemble the car properly.

 

The same is true when buying an air conditioner. It must be sized accurately and installedcorrectly to work properly, This may include making changes to the existing ductwork to ensure adequate air flow.

 

In the 40 years I’ve been in the heating and air conditioning business it has been my experience that 75% of the problems with new central air conditioners were caused because they were not sized accurately and were not tested correctly after they were installed.

 

In the any air conditioner less than five tons was classified as an appliance and people working on them did not require a licence or mandatory training. People learned from the boss who little or no technical training available to him. Five years ago residential air conditioning became a two year apprenticeship trade but it will take time for things to change.

 

It is important that the contractor have the air conditioner checked by a licensed mechanic during and after the installation to ensure the work is done correctly. Don’t try to save money on the installation because you will pay for it later.

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What is Central Air Conditioning?

Central air conditioning is a method of structural cooling in which a centralized unit cools and dehumidifies air before circulating it throughout the building. This is in direct contrast with systems which rely on individual units in rooms or suites of rooms. Central air, as it is also known, is often bundled with a heating system, as both systems rely on similar amounts of electrical power and ductwork to distribute cooled or heated air. This type of air conditioning is generally seen in large structures, or in homes in extremely hot, humid climates.

With central air conditioning, the central unit is often located outdoors or in an isolated area of a building because a great deal of noise is generated during the refrigeration cycles which cool the air and help to extract humidity. The central unit connects to ductwork which runs throughout the building, with blowers pushing cold air out of the ducts to cool down rooms. The air conditioner also vents to the outdoors to get rid of excess heat and moisture.

For more information contact 416 967-0717 or visit www.jcjmechanicalinc.com

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How a Central Air Conditioner works

Central air conditioners have two separate components: the condenser and the evap­orator. The condenser unit is usually located outside the house on a concrete slab. The evaporator coil is mounted in the plenum or main duct junction above the furnace.

Most central air conditioners are connected to a home’s forced-air distribution system. Thus, the same motor, blower, and ductwork used for heating are used to distribute cool air from the air conditioning system. When a central air conditioner is operating, hot air inside the house flows to the furnace through the return-air duct. The hot air is moved by the blower across the cooled evaporator coil in the plenum and is then delivered through ducts to cool the house. When the air conditioner works but the house doesn’t cool, the problem is probably in the distribution system.

Both the evaporator and the condenser are sealed. Therefore, a professional service person should be called for almost any maintenance other than routine cleaning. Central air conditioners should be professionally inspected and adjusted before the beginning of every cooling season. However, don’t let your maintenance end with this annual checkup. While there aren’t many repairs you can make yourself, there are specific maintenance procedures you can follow to keep your system operating at peak efficiency.

Caution: Before doing any work on an air conditioning system, make sure the power to the system, both to the condenser and to the evaporator assembly, is turned off.

For more information contact 416 967-0717 or visit www.jcjmechanicalinc.com

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Central Air Conditioning Units

Most homes need some form of air conditioning during the summer season. Central air conditioning units are the most prevalent, but portable or ductless air conditioners are also popular. In hot, dry areas, swamp coolers are used. Not only do they cool the home, they also humidify the air.

The Typical Central Air Conditioner
Central air conditioners are usually built into most conventional homes during initial construction. These are made up of an evaporator coil (situated in the furnace), a condenser unit (on a small slab or cinder blocks outside the home), and the ductwork (the air distribution system).

But some dwellings don’t need all this horsepower. There’s no sense in investing in a large system for the homeowner or condo dweller who only experiences a short, mild summer. There are some good alternatives for this situation.

For more information contact 416 967-0717 or visit www.jcjmechanicalinc.com

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Installing a Central Air Conditioning System

Central air conditioning installation is one job that can make a dramatic change in the overall comfort of your home. At the flip of a switch, no matter what it is like outside, you’ll be able to relax indoors at whatever temperature you choose. Central air conditioning installation is likely to add value to your property, and even save you money on energy bills if it is replacing several window units. If you’re thinking of installing central air conditioning, there are a few things to consider before you begin the project if you want to get the most for your money.

New or Existing A/C Systems
Knowing your plans for A/C installation will help your service provider give you a more accurate estimate. For example, if you are installing a new condenser or heat pump into an existing system, odds are you will want to use the same brand as the older system. Completely replacing your system will call for tearing it out and having it disposed of, which could mean additional cost to you.

Central Air Conditioning Installation for Remodels
Letting your air conditioning installer know what the situation is like beforehand will give them a better idea of what they’ll be dealing with. Providing this information will help them to better size up the kind of central air conditioning installation that is best for your home, and allow them to give you a better estimate. If installing A/C is a part of a larger remodeling project, you may be able to save money depending on when the system is put in place.

How Much Power Will You Need?
A central air conditioner’s cooling capacity is rated in Btu’s (British thermal units) per hour. As a rough rule you need 12,000 Btu’s for 1,000 square feet of well-insulated space or 400 square feet of poorly insulated space. A house’s structure, window area, sun exposure, and the climate will also affect your cooling needs. If you have high ceilings, your cooling needs will be different; it takes more cooling power to maintain a comfortable temperature in the house. Talking to a professional about the structure of your home and the most effective way to cool it is a good idea in these situations. Following the suggestions of a person in the know, even if it seems more expensive initially, could end up saving you plenty in the long run.

Central Air Conditioning Installation to Replace an Aging System
Air conditioners have become increasingly energy efficient in the last decade. If your system’s cooling ability has decreased significantly since it was first installed, you may want to consider having it completely replaced. If your service professional is tying into an existing system, the older system’s age will help determine its compatibility with the newer system.

Understanding Accessibility
Central air conditioning installation requires access to the home’s heating and cooling duct system. The more open access there is to the ductwork, the less labor that will be involved and the less expensive the project will be. When installing central A/C for the first time, especially in an older home, the amount of space available for ductwork might be extremely limited. In these situations, mini-duct or ductless air conditioning might be a better option than the effort and alteration it would take to install conventional ductwork

For more information contact 416 967-0717 or visit www.jcjmechanicalinc.com

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