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What to know before you replace your heating system

Are you thinking about getting a new furnace? If your current model is frequently broken or needing repairs, then you know it’s time to talk to your American Weathermakers technician. A new furnace will be more efficient, drop your heating bills and keep you and your family more comfortable. Here are three tips about replacing your furnace.

Know if you should fix or replace
Here’s an easy way to decide if it’s time: if your furnace is beyond 75% of its life expectancy and the work would cost more than a third of a replacement cost. How do you know if it’s beyond its life expectancy? Look for the manufacturer date. Generally, furnaces last about 15 to 20 years, maybe another five or six years if it’s a high-quality brand and has been regularly maintained. However, we can always tell you our best recommendations about whether you should repair or replace so you get the most energy and comfort for your dollar.

Is it efficient?
Furnaces produced today are about 80% efficient (meaning 20% of the fuel energy goes up the chimney and out the door). However, you can get furnaces that go up to 98.5% efficient. This info is listed on the product information as the AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) rating. But you will pay more since it’s more efficient will save you more energy and money in the long run. When you get quotes for a new furnace, your technician can go over the math to make sure you are getting the best deal for you. Maintaining an old furnace and doing repairs after repairs not just costs you those service costs, but also that wasted energy which is money lost forever. A new, efficient furnace is a long term, smart investment.  

Check your ducts
Unmaintained air ducts can be a big source of inefficiency and, like we said, lost money on wasted energy. About a third of your heated air can be lost as it naturally drifts to unheated attic, crawlspace, or your basement. We can help improve your old ducts by removing the insulation, taping up gaps, and re-insulating. Even the best, most efficient furnace will not provide the complete benefits if your air ducts are not in good repair.

When the time comes to consider a new furnace, call us at 847.509.2024. We’re in your North Suburban neighborhood in the Chicagoland area, so if you’re in Evanston, Wilmette or Lake Forest, we can be at your home quickly. Our furnace options range from American Standard to Rheem to Bryant.


January may be warmer than usual, but you still need to service your heating system

January is tough on Chicagoans. The last thing you need is to realize your house’s temp is not being kept as comfortable as you and your family would like it to be. It is definitely a bad month to need furnace service or repair for a couple of reasons. One, you do not want to be without heat during the furnace repair, which hopefully will just be an hour or two, but could be longer.

Additionally, you may have had a bit more holiday cheer recently than you thought you would and dipped into your emergency fund, so dealing with furnace repairs may be a tough nut to swallow. The good news on both counts is that often furnace repair is not as time-consuming or as costly as you might initially fear. There are a number of smaller issues that won’t disrupt you too much.

For instance, if you are having heating system problems, it is possible that it just needs a few alterations or minor replacements. Maybe a duct needs to be cleaned or some other small fix needs to be made. In any case, a quick call to us at American Weathermakers can get this resolved in no time. We service the North Suburbs including Evanston, Lake Forest and Arlington Heights for heating system brands like American Standard, Lennox and Mitsubishi. Call us at 847.509.2024 today!


Product Profile: Mitsubishi ductless split system

Product Profile: Mitsubishi ductless split system

Mitsubishi Electric cooling and heating products have always been great products and our customers in the Morton Grove, Northbrook and Winnetka area have all enjoy its reliable performance.

One of the systems they offer is the ductless split system. Most people have heard of ductless cooling and heating systems, and they have probably seen the small, indoor devices installed high on walls in homes, restaurants or office buildings. But what do you really know about these systems?

  1. They Offer Highly Flexible Solutions

Whereas traditional heat pumps and central air conditioning systems force cooled and heated air through ducts, ductless systems deliver air directly into different zones. They are comprised of a small outdoor unit and one or more indoor units that require nothing more than mounting capabilities and access to electricity.

Sometimes referred to as split systems, multi-split systems, or split-ductless systems, ductless cooling and heating offers home and business owners a cost-effective way to replace inefficient window units, space heaters and electric baseboard heaters. They can be installed in home additions, new construction, condominiums and apartments, or to improve temperature control in specific rooms. Ductless systems can even be fit for buildings that currently use ducted forced-air systems.

  1. They Save You Money

One of the biggest reasons why homeowners switch to ductless cooling and heating is overall cost savings. In recent years, utility costs across the country have skyrocketed. When a home’s temperature depends upon an inefficient system, monthly bills can quickly climb out of control. Ductless systems operate on less power – they are smaller than traditional forced-air systems, and because the temperature-controlled air is delivered directly into a room, there is no loss in efficiency. Multi-split systems also allow homeowners to create “zones” in their home, which means they no longer have to cool or heat rooms that aren’t occupied.

In addition to saving money on utilities, homeowners may also be eligible for tax credits or utility rebates for the year they install a ductless system. There are many programs at the federal, state and local level that allow homeowners and businesses to take advantage of these additional savings.

3. They Improve Indoor Air Quality – Happy Breathing!

Often times, the quality of indoor air can actually be lower than the quality of outdoor air. With traditional HVAC systems, air ducts must be professionally cleaned on a regular basis, and even after cleaning, dust and allergens are left behind. Ductless systems, on the other hand, offer multi-stage filtration that can drastically reduce dust, bacteria, pollen, allergens and other particulates in the air.

4. They Are Quick and Easy to Install

Installing a traditional, ducted system can take several weeks and disrupts daily activities in the home. Ductless systems are far less invasive to install, and depending upon the number of indoor and outdoor units required, can be up and running in as little as one day.

Multi-split systems run on small pipes that require a mere three-inch hole. That means homeowners don’t have to worry about rebuilding walls or ceilings around ductwork and there is no loss of precious square footage.

5. Ductless Cooling Lowers Your Carbon Footprint

The small size of a ductless cooling system and its zoning capabilities allows for greater energy efficiency. Ductless cooling and heating systems follow ENERGY STAR guidelines, which means they are far more energy efficient than the minimum standards set forth by the U.S. federal government. Improved efficiency saves money, of course, but it also helps reduce your total carbon output.

Additionally, ductless systems take advantage of advances in chemistry to reduce effects on the environment. Ductless systems use a refrigerant called R410A, which is known for its zero ozone depletion potential. This means the system will have less impact on the environment throughout its lifecycle.

Ductless cooling and heating systems are energy efficient, environmentally friendly and completely customizable. They offer homeowners the ability to cool and heat specific zones of their home to the exact temperature they desire, providing consistent and exceptional year-round comfort.

To get more information about this product or any of the other brands American  Weathermakers sells, such as Amana, Lennox or American Standard for your Glenview, Lake Forest or Skokie home, call us at 847.509.2024 today!


It’s Inauguration Day! Here’s some White House trivia!

In honor of Inauguration Day, learn some historical trivia about the White House and its HVAC system! A lot has changed since the days of the American Revolution, from fireplaces to furnaces, ice blocks to air conditioning.
1801 – A cooking stove replaced the kitchen’s open-hearth fireplace for the first family’s meals.
1809 – The White House’s first heating system, a gravity-based Pettibone furnace, was installed when James Madison took office.
1837 – A central heating system was installed, which was way ahead of the rest of society.
1840 – The White House installed a gravity hot-air heating system, which used a self-contained furnace with an inner firebox of iron enclosed by a shell of plastered brick ducts and extended to the furnace room – this heating only served the state rooms and the hallway on the principal floor.
1845 – President Polk ordered the heating system to be expanded to warm the second floor rooms.
1850 – President Taylor ordered an expansion of the heating system into more offices and the family’s living quarter and basement.
1853 – President Pierce upgraded the hot water furnace, one of the earliest examples of an efficiency upgrade as the water was heated by coils instead of warmed outside the air chamber.
1860’s – President Lincoln continued the HVAC development started by Pierce and further expanded the gas heating system of the White House.
1881 – The first experimental form of air conditioning was installed at the White House, which used electric blowers to force air through a long, iron box encased with cotton screens. The air was chilled over massive amounts of ice and then pumped through a vent into his room. This was used to help President Garfield after he was shot that summer.
1910 – President Taft attempted to install another form of AC, which chilled air through ice blocks in the attic of the White House, but this wasn’t successful and later dismantled.
1930 – A major air conditioning system upgrade occurred after an 1829 fire damaged the West Wing. The new system was the first central system to operate in the White House.
1933 – Air conditioning units were added to the private quarters on the second floor of the White House.
The 1930s also saw a tremendous growth in overall technology that affected all parts of the storied and world-famous home leading to innovation to this day at the White House.


It’s rainy in Chicago…in January! So think about your sump pump!

Flooding is not something that you need to worry about all that much in Chicago in the middle of January, but since it’s been warm and wet, it makes it a concern.  Although it does freeze over eventually, it is still quite possible for parts of your home to flood under certain circumstances. This is especially possible for areas that are located below ground level, like crawl spaces and basements. Even a small amount of water damage can cost a fortune to repair. It’s a good idea to take steps to protect those areas from flooding damage. Read on for information about sump pumps, and how they can protect your home from flooding damage. And as always, an American Weathermakers technician is always ready to help you.

What Is a Sump Pump?

A sump pump system begins with the excavation of a pit at the lowest point of the area to be protected. This is the sump. All water that flows into the area will flow downhill and into the sump. The sump pump is then installed either in or directly above the sump, with a pipe running from it outside of the home. When the water level in the sump gets above a certain point, the sump pump will activate and pump all the collected water out of the house.

Advantages of Sump Pump Installation

As mentioned above, it’s very expensive to repair even a bit of water damage, depending on where it’s located. A sump pump won’t be able to protect your home from a torrent of water, but it will be more than effective enough to deal with moderate storm runoff. If you want to make sure that the vulnerable parts of your home are protected from flooding damage, a sump pump is a pretty good idea.

If you live in the Chicagoland area such as Northbrook, Glenview, Evanston or Skokie, we’re your local heating and air cooling specialist. We also help our customers with sump pump and back up care. Call us at 847.502.2420 if you’re concerned about flooding or your sump pump system.


Happy New Year! 5 Tips to keep your furnace in good shape this winter!

Now that the holidays are over and everyone’s schedules have returned to normal, it’s time to start thinking about all the things that got pushed off the to-do list. For a lot of homeowners, furnace care is one those topics. Think of it like New Year, good furnace!

Below are five easy tips to keep your heating system in shape as we get through the back half of winter!

Clean and replace your filter
Your filter system is very important because it prevents dirt from entering the furnace. We recommend that every gas furnace owner replace or clean the filter continuously depending on the use to get all the trapped debris out of there so your system doesn’t get overworked or malfunction. If you have questions about your filter, call us at 847.509.2024.

Check the thermostat
If you’re always having to adjust your thermostat, the problem could be a number of things that one of our professional HVAC technicians can help diagnose and fix for you. We also recommend programmable thermostats to our customers, especially the Nest brand.

Clean the blower
When cleaning the filter system, the blower assembly should be next on your to-do list. The blower is located right after the air filter and it’s your furnace’s next line of defense against dust and debris from entering your heating system. You will have to clean the blower, pulleys and belts in order to remove the accumulated grit. Remove the panels that cover the filter to access the blower assembly. Use a damp cloth while cleaning the blower.

Clean or repair furnace ducts
Ducts are prone to damage, especially when using a forced-air furnace. In such a case, you’ll need to clean ducts by using a high-powered vacuum cleaner. Once you finish, cover all ducts to prevent air from leaking into the furnace. This can be an involved process, but it’s also a service that American Weathermakers provides to our Northwest and North Suburban customers in Glenview, Northbrook and Lake Forest.

Clean the vents
Gas furnaces are hooked with a venting system. This ventilation at some point can get clogged due to large amounts of dust and debris. A backed up vent is dangerous and can cause malfunctions and even heating system failure. Using a large brush, clean all the vents, begin by removing the vent cover and clean the inside using the vacuum cleaner.

Inspect Your Fan
To avoid issues with your gas furnace, a thorough inspection is crucial. Inspection done by professionals will save you all the costs to spend on repairing parts of the gas furnace. Besides a general inspection, its fan components should also be checked. An inspection will reveal whether there are dust and other components on it. Make it a routine to take your gas furnace for a thorough inspection yearly.

We service many different kinds of furnace brands like Honeywell, Carrier, Aprilaire and Rheem. Call us at 847.509.2024 to talk about ways you can start the New Year with a healthy, well-functioning furnace. Remember, we won’t be comfortable until you are!

 


Are you using a space heater to supplement a faulty furnace?

While only 32% of home heating fires involve space heaters, they are involved in 79% of home heating fire deaths, according to a report by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Heating equipment continues to be the second leading cause of home fires behind cooking and the second leading cause of home fire deaths behind smoking.

NFPA is urging caution and asking the public to practice safe heating behaviors as the peak time for home heating fires continues; half of all home heating fires occurred in December, January and February in the previously reported timeperiod.

The leading factor contributing to space heater fires in general was heating equipment too close to things that can burn, such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattress, or bedding. Other leading factors contributing to home space heater fires were failure to clean, which is principally related to creosote build-up in chimneys, and leaving an operating space heater unattended.

Last year, U.S. fire departments responded to 66,400 home structure fires that involved heating equipment. These fires killed 580 people, injured another 1,850, and were responsible for $608 million in direct property damage.

Heating

  • Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
  • Supervise children when a fireplace, fire pit, or other space heater is being used. Use a sturdy, metal screen to prevent contact burns, which are even more common than flame burns.
  • All heaters need space. Keep things that can burn, such as paper, bedding or furniture, at least 3 feet away from heating equipment.
  • Use heating equipment that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
  • Never use your oven for heating.
  • Install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment, according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
    • Have a qualified professional install the equipment.
    • Make sure all fuel-burning vented equipment is vented to the outside to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. CO is created when fuels burn incompletely. CO poisoning can cause illness and even death. Make sure the venting for exhaust is kept clear and unobstructed. This includes removal of snow and ice around the outlet to the outside.
  • Install and maintain carbon monoxide alarms to avoid risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected annually by a qualified professional.

Portable electric space heaters

  • Turn heaters off when you go to bed or leave the room.
  • Use and purchase portable space heaters with an automatic shut off so if they’re tipped over they will shut off.
  • Place space heater on solid, flat surface.
  • Plug power cords directly into outlets and never into an extension cord.
  • Inspect for cracked or damaged, broken plugs or loose connections. Replace before using.

Space heaters should always be used to supplement an existing heating system. If you’re using a space heater while your furnace is not working properly, contact us at 847.509.2024. We repair all kinds of different brands of furnaces such as American Standard, Lennox, Rheem and Amana in Northbrook, Lake Forest and Arlington Heights. We can be at your home in no time!


5 Things to know about Winter Solstice

Today is the first day of winter, although you wouldn’t think it considering the bitterly cold weather we’ve been having recently in the North and Northwest Suburban area this month. But if there’s one thing that makes Chicago appreciate summer, it’s winters like this.

As the Winter Solstice passes us by today, we’re reminded of what it is exactly, besides being the shortest day of the year with the least amount of sunlight for those of us living north of the equator.

Last night marked the longest night of the year and after this, it only gets better as we get more and more sun until Summer Solstice, which is June 20 next year. But between now and then, here are 5 fun facts about Winter Solstice.

  1. Winter Solstice happens when the sun is directly overhead the Tropic of Capricorn, or 23.5° south latitude, which when you think of the Earth tilting on its axis, it’s like the bottom ¼ of the planet getting directly hit by the sun. The land below the equator is getting their max fix of sun, whereas we’re getting the least. Check out this image courtesy of NASA to get the picture.
  2. It’s not the just the date that makes Winter Solstice so specific, it’s the time too. Winter Solstice occurred exactly at 4:54 AM CT.
  3. The Chicago area, and the rest of the world that lives around our latitude, got about 9-9.5 hours of sunlight and the further north you get, the less light all the way up to the North Pole where no daylight occurred. In Alaska, much of the state only gets a sliver of daylight during winter that looks not much more than early sunrise.
  4. Statistically, even though this date is the shortest, it’s not the coldest. That’s January for us Chicagoans. This is because a lot of temperature on land is actually contingent on the oceans absorbing the sun’s energy and then releasing it slowly, so there’s a delay between the shortest day and the coolest day, which is usually after the Winter Solstice.
  5. Scientists strongly believe that Stonehedge was built to mark the solstices and equinoxes so they’d know how to mark their year. It’s one of early man’s most interesting achievements, built about 5,000 years ago.

Knowing about why the Winter Solstice happens won’t help you prepare for the cold Chicagoland months ahead. But we can help you with that. That first step to getting your home winterized (if it’s not already!) is getting your furnace checked out and properly maintained. We service all the major brands, including Lennox, American Standard and Rheem. Call us at 847.509.2024 today to make an appointment! We’re in your community – from Lake Forest to Skokie and Evanston to Arlington Heights, we’ll be at your home in now time!


Is your furnace in need of some TLC?

 

When it’s this cold outside, the last thing any North Shore or Northwest Suburban homeowner needs to deal with is a malfunctioning furnace. Most modern houses use gas furnaces as their main source of heat because they offer an efficient, cost-effective distribution of warmth throughout the home. In cold weather climates like Chicago, an optimally functioning furnace is a must-have, so it really pays to know what to look for as far as problems are concerned. Letting a problem with your furnace and HVAC system fester will only lead to bigger, more expensive problems down the line.

These tips will also help you prevent your furnace from becoming damaged in the first place.

  1. Change your filters

It may sound obvious, but this is one of the most simple and DIY maintenance items on this list. Dirty and congested filters lower your furnace’s ability to do its job and prevents debris from being caught, putting it back into the air.

  1. Clean some things

We encourage you to clean the burners, flame sensor, pilot light and hot surface ignites, but only do this if you’re knowledgeable enough about your HVAC system to open up your furnace. Before you proceed, ensure that you switch off the electric and shut off the gas supply to the furnace. This is a critical safety measure that, if not done, can cost you your life! Use a vacuum hose to clean out any dust settled in the combustion compartment. Be careful not to damage any of the components while carrying out this task.

  1. Take a look at your burner flames

Turn your thermostat up to activate the furnace burners and ensure they come on properly. For a natural gas fired furnace, make sure that the flame color is blue. This is important, if it’s yellow, there’s an issue with combustion and the furnace is making carbon monoxide that is a safety hazard – call an American Weathermakers technician if this occurs.

  1. Don’t forget the blower

A well-functioning fan blows more clean air, which ups overall furnace health, it also keeps your utility bills down. To inspect and clean this part, open the blower compartment and clean this section – just make sure the power is shut off.

  1. Don’t waste energy! Seal ducts that leak air

Air ducts that leak air waste energy and make your furnace work harder for the same results. Make sure that mechanical fasteners are in place at the joints and seal leaks with mastic or duct tape. American Weathermakers can help you manage and repair all kinds of air duct problems, including those that are leaky.

When you’re thinking about the health, status and maintenance of your furnace, whether it’s an American Standard, Lennox or Amana, always trust American Weathermakers to service your HVAC system! Call us at 847.509.2025 today!


Homeowners will love this gift: A Nest Thermostat!

Thinking of what to get your mom or dad, or favorite homeowner on your holiday shopping list? We’ve got a good idea for you that’ll save them time, money and energy.

The Nest Thermostat is a smart new thermostat technology that allows them to control the temperature of their house from their smartphone or any other wi-fi connected devise. If programmed correctly, the Nest can save up to 20% on your heating and cooling bills. The Nest Learning Thermostat auto-scheduling feature learns what temperatures you prefer and turns itself down when you’re not home.

It’s looks sleek too! The stylish stainless steel ring really makes the digital display pop. The nest measures 6.5 inches by 6.5 inches by 3.2 inches and weighs 1.6 pounds. So whatever the decor, it’ll fit right in.

Its easy installation allows them to have the Nest up and running in about half hour. The Nest thermostat is compatible with 95% of low voltage systems. Designed to be simple and more easy to use, the Nest is a revolutionary change for thermostats.

If you need help figuring out which to buy, or considering one as a gift for yourself, call us at 847.509.2024! Not too late to order one before Christmas!


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