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The Barton Boys HVAC Resource Blog

Let The Barton Boys Heating and Air Conditioning be your resource and guide to whole home comfort with our blog filled with ideas on energy savings in the home, HVAC troubleshooting and tips, and ideas to make your home a comfortable sanctuary.

To Cover Your Air Conditioner, Or Not to Cover Your Air Conditioner?

To Cover Your Air Conditioner, Or Not to Cover Your Air Conditioner?

It’s Spring and here at the Barton Boys we get a lot of accidental air conditioning turn ons while the unit is still covered. Every spring we get a call or two from customers who turned their unit on for a test run on a warm spring day forgetting to uncover it first. This unfortunately blocks the airflow to the outdoor unit causing pressure to rise quickly and burn out the compressor in a very short period of time. Over the years we have seen many, brand new $3000.00 + air conditioners having to be replaced because of this. With that said, one of the most common questions we receive is whether or not you should cover your air conditioner during the winter. Although there is no concrete answer, there are many pros and cons to think about when considering covering your air conditioner. Cons While you may think covering your AC may help it look better in the long run, there’s a major trade off to think about here. As mentioned, by covering your air conditioner in the winter, we see many homeowners ruin their brand new units by accidentally turning the a/c on without remembering to uncover it first. By doing this, the cover is blocking the airflow to the outdoor unit causing pressure to rise quickly and burn out the compressor quickly. Another con is that covering your air conditioner can also create a perfect home for small animals, such as mice. As spring rolls around maintenance calls come in, and more often than not we find that a family of mice has taken up residence...
A/C Spring Tune-up Tips

A/C Spring Tune-up Tips

As spring weather quickly approaches, it’s very important to make sure your A/C is working properly so that it can do it’s job during those hot summer months. Not only do you want your A/C working at its best to be able to cool your home, but an efficient running A/C can drastically cut your energy bills! Below you’ll find a few tips for getting your air conditioner ready for summer. Clean or change the filter once a month. This is the MOST IMPORTANT part! Over half of our service calls in the summer are due to clogged or dirty filters. Most furnaces have a disposable paper, mesh, or pleated filters which need to be replaced periodically. Every 60-90 days in the winter is recommended, but in the dry and dusty summer months you should replace them every 30 days. If your A/C is operating through dirty and dusty filters, it’s working hard to cool your home in an efficient manner and can cause freezing up on the indoor coil. Keep your outdoor unit clean. The outdoor unit should always be free of anything blocking the equipment. Making sure there’s no plant growth, debris, or grass clippings around the unit is also very important. Keeping your outdoor unit clean will reduce resistance, therefore boosting your air conditioner’s efficiency. Clean indoor ductwork. Although a full cleaning of your ductwork should be done by a professional, you can keep parts of your ductwork clean and dry by removing registers and inspecting and wiping the visible parts of the ducts. You can also inspects these parts of the ducts for wear or water...
Furnace Installation FAQs

Furnace Installation FAQs

 How much does furnace replacement cost? Nationally, the average cost of furnace installation is $4,000. Most of this depends on what type of system you currently have and what you would like to achieve. Going from oil to gas has additional costs associated with installation including removing and disposing of the oil tank and lines and running a gas line to the furnace location. This is the same if you are converting from electric to gas, and Avista Utilities has a great program called L.E.A.P. to help cover the cost of this. But for the most part, a gas-to-gas change out typically runs $2200-4500. How is equipment size determined for my furnace installation? Our estimators use a calculation method to determine the heat load of your home to size your new furnace. This calculation considers many factors related to the home’s construction, occupants, and exterior elements for accuracy. We also take into account the capacity of your existing ductwork. You may feel like you want increase the size of your furnace, but this may not be possible with your current duct sizing – leading to failures of the furnace or excessive noise. How can I tell how efficient a furnace is? If you desire high efficiency models for furnace installation, look for furnaces with an AFUE in the 90s. AFUE stands for “annual fuel utilization efficiency”. It tells you how much heat the furnace creates for every dollar of heating fuel the unit consumes. All new furnaces must have an AFUE of at least 80%. The highest efficiency models have a rating of around 98% AFUE. How do you...
Take Steps to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Take Steps to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

  Carbon monoxide (CO1) poisoning causes around 15,000 illnesses and injuries each year, and almost 500 deaths. Carbon monoxide results when fuels improperly combust, resulting in a lingering, leftover toxic gas that is difficult for the average person to detect due to its lack of color and odor. Efficient furnaces that ventilate gas properly reduce your risk of carbon monoxide exposure. Yearly preventative HVAC maintenance and inspection, as well as installing CO1 detectors in the home, protects your and your family from this silent toxin.     Preventative Steps The most important safeguard against carbon monoxide poisoning from your heating unit is to have an inspection at least once per year. An efficient furnace runs less often and produces less CO1, whereas an inefficient furnace works harder and may be clogged, resulting in CO1 buildup. A professional HVAC inspector will also check for cracks in the combustion chamber and ventilation components of the unit. Leaks in these areas mean CO1 can seep into your living space instead of getting directed outside the home. In addition to annual inspections, changing your furnace filter regularly keeps your furnace running efficiently, as well as improves your overall indoor air quality. Make sure the area around your HVAC unit is uncluttered, and that the unit and ventilation system is free of debris. Install CO1 alarms in sleeping areas and near gas appliances. CO1 detectors are easily purchased at home improvement and hardware stores, and can be battery-operated, plugged in, or even wireless. Similar to smoke alarms, they emit a warning sound when high levels of CO1 are detected. Check detectors regularly to make...
Heating & Cooling Considerations When Finishing a Basement

Heating & Cooling Considerations When Finishing a Basement

There are many benefits to having a finished basement, but it can often be one of the most forgotten rooms in the house. A finished basement can add value to your home, increase your usable space and be a fun and flexible room for the family. There are some things you need to consider in order to convert a dark, damp unfinished basement into a comfortable and cozy living space. Keep Components Accessible & Clear Most basements are home to furnaces, air handlers and other HVAC components – not ideal decor elements for your new space. Obviously, this equipment is crucial in keeping your house safe and comfortable. Since you can’t live without these components, the next best thing is to conceal them (without entirely closing them off). The National Gas Fuel Code specifies the amount of cubic feet you need to have to provide adequate combustion air for your gas furnace and/or gas hot water heater. This is determined by the BTU output of the appliances. It’s also a manufacturer requirement, and a possible building code, to keep a specific amount of space around your heating and air conditioning system components accessible for any inspections, repairs, or replacements. Follow Codes & Obtain Permits Although building codes for converting an unfinished basement into a living space depend on the location, most likely, heating and cooling regulations will be addressed. Remember, you’re adding to the amount of space to heat and cool. First, you’ll need to determine if your current systems can handle the added demand, or if additional capacity is required. Other considerations may include: ventilation (natural or mechanical),...
Signs to Look for When it is Time to Replace Your Furnace

Signs to Look for When it is Time to Replace Your Furnace

Only Mother Nature knows what this winter has in store for us…whether it will be mild or ferocious…it is always best to be prepared for the unexpected. The last thing you want is for your furnace to conk out when you need it the most. Unfortunately, if your furnace stops working during really cold weather, it can be quite uncomfortable, and possibly hazardous to your home and health. There is a chance that if your home heating system becomes inoperative it can be salvaged by a skilled professional…and we see nothing wrong with wanting to lengthen the life of your equipment. But just like the seasons, everything has its time. Don’t be left out in the cold this winter…know what signs to look for when it’s time to replace your furnace. Sign #1  The Furnace is 16+ Years Old The average life expectancy of a furnace is 16 to 20 years old. Some experts say if a furnace is 20 years or older, it is time to start shopping for a new furnace. Purchasing and installing a new heating system in your existing home can be extremely overwhelming. It is important to pair quality equipment and craftsmanship with a price that fits your budget. So it is best to not wait until your current furnace dies and then be in a rush to buy a new one. Depending on how the furnace has been serviced over the years, lengthening your furnaces life can be your best option – ultimately saving you money – not only from costly breakdowns, but on your utilities as well. A yearly furnace inspection will prolong the...