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Why might I need a chimney liner?

Why might I need a chimney liner?

Why might I need a chimney liner?

If you live in an older home (30 years or older), the chimney on your house has probably worked just fine for years and you may wonder why you’d suddenly need a flue liner when you replace your furnace.

Most older flues are masonry, either brick or clay, and were sized and designed for furnaces and water heaters that were anywhere from 45-65% efficiency. Because of the low efficiency of the furnace, high volume and high temperature flue gases from the equipment kept the flue warm and dry.

A lot of mid-efficiency 80% AFUE furnaces generally have lower volume and lower temperature exhaust. Many are still vented into existing flues and, because of the lower temperature, the acidic moisture from the flue gas can condense out and collect on the porous masonry, eating it away. High-efficiency 90+% AFUE condensing furnaces are usually vented separately to the outside using PVC (vs. through an existing chimney), and tend to leave the water heater venting alone into the flue. Water heaters have very low volume and low temperature flue gas and, like mid-efficiency furnaces, the same masonry damage can happen.

Installing a flexible liner is the best way to protect your existing masonry or clay chimney by providing a barrier from the flue gases and moisture. Older chimneys can often have cracks and flue liners help eliminate danger from preventing leaking gases.

“To Cover or not Cover, that is the question.”

“To Cover or not Cover, that is the question.”

To cover or not to cover — that is the question. We get this question often from customers wondering if they should cover their outdoor air conditioning unit during the off-season. It seems to make sense to cover your compressor when it’s not in use. After all, people cover outdoor lawn furniture, swimming pools, and even cars to protect them from the elements. But you might be surprised to learn that, for the most part, we advise our customers NOT to cover their air conditioning units. And here’s why:

 

  • Outdoor air conditioners are made to withstand harsh winter conditions and temperature extremes. They are built tough, and don’t generally need a cover.
  • Covers can provide a nice cozy place for chipmunks, mice, and other critters to move in for the winter, which can lead to chewed wires and nests that hold moisture, cause corrosion, and ultimately need to be cleaned out. 
  • A cover traps moisture inside the unit, increasing the likelihood of corrosion, rust, and mold.
  • While a cover might keep heavy rains from getting into your air conditioner, it will not keep out moisture in general. Humidity in the air and evaporation from the ground will find its way in, and a cover will only keep it in.

 

We might advise using a cover in the following situations:

  • If your unit is located under a tree with small leaves/needles, like a pine tree. These can collect inside the unit, creating moisture/corrosion and creating a barrier to normal moisture drainage your system may have built in. In this case, we might advise you to cover your unit in the fall, but then uncover it in the winter/spring
  • When hail is expected. Hail can cause damage to the condenser coil fins  and bang up the unit in general. However, hail storms are hard to predict and we do NOT recommend going out to cover your unit once the storm starts! Stay inside where it’s safe!
  • When a blizzard is coming. We would advise covering before a big snow, and then promptly uncovering afterwards, to avoid the melting and refreezing of snow inside the unit, which could lead to damage to the coils.

 

If you are going to cover:

  • Get a tight-fitting cover, and perhaps one that doesn’t go all the way down the unit. You want to avoid having moisture build up inside.
  • Do not use a tarp and bungee cords, or something that is not breathable, properly fitted and secured.
  • Get a cover with ventilation that helps prevent condensation from forming inside the unit, which can cause corrosion on electrical components and connections.

 

Our expert technicians at Leith Heating and Cooling are happy to advise our customers on whether to cover or not to cover — give us a call!

Since Freon is being phased out, what will it be replaced with? Can I just use that new chemical in my older system? FREON Part 2

Since Freon is being phased out, what will it be replaced with? Can I just use that new chemical in my older system? FREON Part 2

So, “what is next” you ask since R-22 is being phased out??  Well, with the ban of freon (HCFC-22 or R-22), new chemicals have taken its place. The chemical that will most often be used in newer air conditioners is R-410A, a safer, compliant refrigerant.

You cannot simply use R-410A in older systems designed for Freon, because R-410A operates at a higher pressure than other refrigerants. R-410A systems require service personnel to use different tools, equipment, safety standards, and techniques. Equipment manufacturers are aware of these changes and require the certification of professionals installing R-410A systems.

If you decide to replace your system now, here are some things to make that expense a bit easier to take:

  • The new environmentally-friendly R-410A systems have a much smaller carbon footprint; they do not harm the ozone layer.
  • New energy-efficient systems save on energy costs. Even if your existing system is only 10 years old, you may save significantly on your energy costs by replacing it with a newer, more efficient model.
  • Most new systems come with a warranty – standard!

If you have questions about your existing air conditioner, or would like a quote on replacing your system, please call us at 847-851-8698!

Is the US phasing out FREON and will I have to upgrade my AC system? Part 1

Is the US phasing out FREON and will I have to upgrade my AC system? Part 1

We got a lot of questions this summer about Freon, so we thought that we would send out some information in our latest blog.  Freon (also known as R-22 or HCFC-22) has been identified as one of the main causes for ozone depletion for the environment, because it contains chlorine that damages ozone molecules. The United States has been taking steps to phase out this chemical for the past 30 years. In 2010, the USEPA banned companies from building or installing systems that have been pre-charged, or filled, with Freon and set a 10-year end date for the chemical itself. As of January 1, 2020, HCFC-22 (FREON) will no longer be produced or imported in the US.

However, manufactures found a loophole and still produced equipment that used Freon. These units were known as “dry-shipped”, which means they were not pre-charged or filled up with Freon, so technically did not violate the new restrictions. Many manufactures sold these types of units through 2018 and, unfortunately, a lot of HVAC companies continued to install these units to the long-term disadvantage of their customers. Leith Heating & Cooling did not adopt this practice and in fact only installed a single “dry-shipped” unit with full disclosure to the customer.

If your system was manufactured and installed after 2010, chances are you should be fine unless you had a dry-shipped unit installed. If your current system is still using Freon, then you will eventually have to get a new system. For now, you can still use Freon, but with the US no longer producing or importing it, it’s going to get quite expensive and hard to find. It will only be available through after-market sales, as it is recovered from older, salvaged systems.

To check your system, look for a sticker on the side that shows whether your system uses HCFC-22 or R-22 – these are the chemicals being phased out.

In general, owners of R-22 air conditioners will have 3 choices:

  1. Do nothing until your system needs an expensive repair.
  2. Retrofit (or convert) your old R-22 equipment to use an existing refrigerant.
  3. Replace your system proactively.

 

If you choose to keep your older system for the moment, the best thing you can do is to keep it well maintained, to ensure there are no freon leaks.

What To Do When Your Air Conditioner Won’t Turn On

One of the worst things that can occur during summer is when you are going to turn on your air conditioner and discover it isn’t working. This can be very stressful, especially on a relatively warm day. However, you should refrain from trying to fix it yourself due to the great possibility of the issue becoming worse. Often, HVAC technicians will evaluate the problem and notice it could have been prevented with proper maintenance or repair.

If your air conditioner is not working properly or won’t turn on, here is what you should do:

Do not try to fix the problem yourself:

Poking around your air conditioning unit is not only dangerous, but can also lead to more significant issues.

Keep cool:

While you are waiting for your air conditioning unit to turn back on, it is important to stay cool. Opening windows and having fans on around your home will allow you to stay comfortable while your air conditioning is off.

Hire a certified HVAC technician:

It is essential to hire a professional to diagnosis, evaluate, and solve the issue regarding your air conditioner. Leith HVAC is the best company for you to choose with quick response time and effective solutions.

To learn more about what to do when your air conditioner won’t turn on or to get in touch with one of our technicians, contact Leith HVAC today.

How to Stay Cool and Save Money During Summer

How to Stay Cool and Save Money During Summer

With the temperatures skyrocketing in the Chicagoland area, many homeowners are making the transition of heat to air-conditioning. It is essential to understand that making this change may affect your utility bill depending on the temperature you have set on your thermostat. 

Leith HVAC, along with the Department of Energy, recommends to keep your thermostat temperature set at 78° F while you are home. While it is tempting to turn the air conditioning down to 70° F on a scorching warm day, be aware this will affect your monthly utility bill. Our team at Leith HVAC recognizes that you deserve premium home comfort with these valuable tips for summer:

Lower your home’s humidity:

One of the best ways you can stay cool and comfortable at home without the stress of a higher utility bill is lowering the humidity in your home. Not only will this make your home colder, it will also prevent the growth of mold. However, it is important not set the humidity level too low because it may cause your home to have dry-air.

Lower your air conditioner’s temperature gradually:

A common mistake homeowners make is plunging the temperature on their thermostat when it gets warmer outside. This is not ideal to do for your HVAC system because it will be switching from high temperature to a much lower temperature instantly, upping the cost of your utility bill. It is recommended to gradually lower the temperature of your home to provide you and your wallet with comfort. 

Invest in a programmable thermostat:

A vast amount of homeowners are missing out on a great tool that can save them money and provide them with the best comfort – a programmable thermostat. These are designed to grant you the best comfort while you are home and exceptional accessibility while you’re on-the-go. To learn more about investing in a programmable thermostat, talk to a team member today. 

For more information or any questions regarding how you can stay cool and save money during summer, contact Leith HVAC today.

Upgrading Your Cooling System

Upgrading Your Cooling System

Air conditioning is universally needed in homes across the nation, especially during the summer season. Many homes have air conditioning systems that came with the home, but the average lifespan of an air conditioner is 16 years. However, the efficiency of the system can dramatically decrease due to wear and tear. When it comes to purchasing a new, effective air conditioning unit, consider the following benefits:


Comfort:

New air conditioning systems have many features that satisfy users. These comfort-enhancing options will provide you with comfort guaranteed.

Money Saved:

The higher SEER rating, the more money you will save. New, high efficiency air conditioners will grant your home with fresh, cool air and will also save you money on your utility bills. You will also save money since you won’t need to repair your unit anymore.

Compatible with the environment:

With a new air conditioning unit, you will lower your environmental footprint. Nearly all newly-built cooling systems are eco-friendly and operate on less energy.

To receive more information about the benefits to upgrading your cooling system, contact Leith HVAC today.

Negative Habits that Harm Your HVAC System

As a homeowner, you want to keep all of your utilities preforming at the highest efficiency with no error in their function. To ensure your heating and cooling system last as long as possible, there a few things you should keep in mind. Here are some habits you may be doing that could negatively impact the efficiency and longevity of your HVAC system:

Frequently Closing Vents

Your HVAC system is created to heat and cool your home, which is controlled by the vents that are open and closed. Frequently closing and opening vents will affect how your HVAC system works, making your system act like it is not correctly sized. This will also increase your utility bill since your system will be changing the level of efficiency constantly.

Adjusting Your Thermostat

If you are constantly changing your thermostat temperature, this will disrupt your system’s on and off cycle-which is the toughest part for your air conditioning or furnace’s job. This will cause harm to your system and to your wallet. It is highly recommended to have your thermostat at a relative temperature that is comfortable for you during the cold and warm months.

Forgetting to Change Your Furnace Filter

One of the most common habits homeowners fall into is forgetting to change their furnace filter. This will block significant air-flow, and will also generate poor air quality inside your home. It is recommended to change your filter once every two to three months.

Not Scheduling Maintenance

Even if your heating and cooling system seems to be in order, it is essential to get preventative maintenance done. Have your contractor look at your system during spring and your furnace during the fall to prevent any issues from occurring.

To learn more about the negative habits that affect your HVAC system, contact Leith HVAC today.

Understanding How To Adjust Your HVAC System For The Warmer Weather

Spring has just begun, which means the temperature outside will increase. Getting into the spring mood by gardening and setting up your patio are just a couple of things you should have on your list. As temperatures rise, you want ensure your HVAC system is working at its highest efficiency. Also, it is essential to keep your thermostat in mind as you adjust to the warmer weather. To guarantee your HVAC system is up-to-date and your thermostat is set correctly, review the following tips:

Adjust your thermostat:

According to the Department of Energy, it highly recommended to have your temperature set on or around 78°F during warmer seasons in the Chicagoland area. This will not only keep your house at a comfortable temperature, but it will also save you money. Changing the temperature settings on your thermostat frequently will raise your utility bills drastically.

Replace furnace filter:

Like you should do every month, replace your furnace filter to prevent issues occurring during spring. Putting in a new filter will give your equipment a fresh start for the season, allowing it to work at maximum capacity.

Schedule a maintenance check:

It is the perfect time to have a HVAC technician, like our team at Leith HVAC, to come out and ensure your system is working properly. The technician will be able to do any cleaning needed and address minor issues and correct them to prevent further problems.

For more information or any questions on understanding how to adjust your HVAC system for the warmer weather, contact Leith HVAC today.

Getting Your HVAC System Ready For Spring

Getting Your HVAC System Ready For Spring

Spring is just one month away, which means lots of great things for the Midwest. As many people in this area agree to, you are looking forward to the warmer temperatures. Before you start enjoying the warm weather, it is essential to care for your HVAC system. Here are ways to prepare your HVAC system for Spring:

Change your furnace filter: 

The first thing you should always do when a new season arrives is to change your furnace filter. This will not only filter away the allergens spring brings, but will also save you money.

Eliminate winter clutter:

Winter always brings some clutter to it. Whether it is extra blankets or rugs over venting systems, it is crucial to clear away the clutter. This will save you money on your monthly utility bills, and also grant you proper air quality.

Invest in a programmable thermostat:

A programmable thermostat will schedule when and when not the air turns on in your home. Not only can you leave the house at ease knowing the air is not cooling an empty house, but you can also adjust the temperature anywhere in your home.

Schedule a maintenance check:

After completing the list above, it is always a great idea to get your home checked by a professional, like our team at Leith HVAC. We will not only ensure your HVAC system is operating at its best settings, but will also clean any blocked airways and ducts.

For more information or any questions about how to prep your HVAC system for spring, contact Leith HVAC today.

The Technological Improvements of Furnaces

As time goes on, technology consistently improves. Home-heating has evolved from simple wood burning to advanced furnace systems. However, many homes have out-dated furnaces, making the efficiency of the system and comfort of your home poor. Newer furnace system models have comfort-enhancing features that provide you with the quality you are entitled to at the max efficiency. Today, furnaces have a variety of improvements compared to older models, including the following:

Variable-speed technology

Many of today’s natural gas furnaces have variable-speed blower motors, which will adjust the speed of the air being blown to provide your home with the comfort you desire. This feature grants high quality air flow, eliminating hot and cold spots in your home.

Multiple stages of operation

Older furnace models operate in only two stages, 100% capacity and turned off. Newer models have tha ability to function in multiple stages. This will not only save you money, but will also meet your comfort needs.

Blower delay

Old furnace models are poor quality due to the lack of blower delay. Older models tend to blast cold air once the furnace turns on. However, investing in a newer model with blower delay will prevent this from happening again.

To learn more about the technological improvements of furnaces, contact Leith HVAC today.

How To Save Money With Your Energy Use

How To Save Money With Your Energy Use

As the Midwest suffered a polar vortex this past week, your monthly utility bill has probably increased. While it is inconvenient for your bill to go up, there are many ways you can save money with your energy use. Leith HVAC is here to guide you in saving money on your monthly statements with these small adjustments:

  • Change the filter in your furnace
  • Ensure there are no holes in your doors or windows
  • Keep your vents open
  • Turn lights off when not in use
  • Use high-efficiency light-bulbs
  • Unplug appliances when not in use
  • Wash clothes in cold water
  • Take shorter/cooler showers

Here are some things you should avoid while trying to save money during winter:

  • Avoid changing the thermostat frequently
  • Do not use supplemental heating devices other than your furnace
  • Avoid taking long showers
  • Do not suddenly change your HVAC system from “AC” to “Heat”

For more information or any questions about how to save money with your energy use, contact Leith HVAC today.