Air Conditioning and Heating TipsGet a Coupon

Does Your Air Filter Need Changing?

Most people don’t give their air filter a second thought. But maintaining your heating unit or air handler’s air filter is crucial to your indoor air quality, as well as improving the longevity of your heating and cooling system.

What Type of Air Filter?

Your best bet is never to use a cheap fiberglass air filter in your heating and cooling systemThe type of air filter you install will have a huge impact on indoor air quality. The least expensive air filters are usually made of a loose fiberglass mesh, are about an inch thick and cost around a dollar or two each.  While they’ll protect your furnace from larger particles, they don’t do much towards protecting your lungs from tiny particles.

When to Change Your Air Filter

How often you change your air filter will depend on many factors, including the type of filter you’re using and the amount of contaminants (dust, dirt, cooking fumes, smoke) your home generates. Checking your air filter at least once a month is a good habit to get into. If it’s visibly dirty or dark, it’s time for a change. If you have a professionally installed air filtration system, have it maintained according to the manufacturer’s specifications.

A High Efficiency Air Filter

A carbon clean air filter with a MERV rating of 16 is idea, although a bit more expensive to purchase.Those cheap one-inch fiberglass filters may not provide enough filtration to affect the quality of your air. Instead, consider a pleated, high-efficiency air filter like the Carbon Clean 16 filter which has a MERV 16 rating to achieve the highest possible filtration efficiency. While a more expensive option, it will do a better job of capturing the contaminants that would otherwise circulate in your home.

Use the Correct Size Air Filter

Using a filter that is too small will allow dirty air to pass around it. A filter that’s too big will not fit properly in your system. Make sure you’re using the right size for your heating and cooling system. You can verify size either by checking the size of the old filter you’re changing out, or by checking the owner’s manual of your heating and cooling system.

Control Sources of Pollutants
  • Make sure no one smokes in your house.
  • Clean regularly to get rid of dust mites, which can aggravate allergies and asthma, particularly in children. You can minimize the problem by installing a whole-home filtration system with a MERV 16 rating, the highest capture efficiency among air cleaners.
  • Make sure anything that burns gas is vented to the outdoors. Never burn a ventless fire.
  • Avoid using scented candles or aerosol sprays to control odors. Try to find out what’s causing the odor and eliminate it, rather than covering it up.
  • Use cleaning supplies, paints and hobby products that are labeled as low- or no-VOC (volatile organic compound), which means they are safer for your house and the environment. If you have concerns about chemical vapors, install an air purification system.
  • Avoid air-quality products that produce ozone, a known lung irritant.

If you have a question about heating, air conditioning, plumbing, or any other home energy related topic, please use the comment link below to contact Brown and Reaves Services in Myrtle Beach. We’ll answer you back, or may even write our next post to cover your question and answer.

Remember to Find Brown and Reaves Services on Facebook for more Heating and Cooling Tips, and for various tips, tricks and techniques to help you save money and stay cooler in the summer, and warmer in the winter, follow us on Twitter!

Now is the time to get your heating system ready for those cool days and night ahead. Give us a call. We service the entire Grand Strand area, in and around Myrtle Beach. 843-497-9867. Or CONTACT US HERE.

Heating and Cooling System Maintenance Checklist

Heating and cooling system maintenance should be done now, before you turn your heat on for fallIt’s important to have a heating and cooling system maintenance checklist for your equipment to prevent future problems and unwanted costs. Keep your heating and cooling system at peak performance by having a contractor do annual check-ups. Contractors get busy once summer and winter come, so it’s best to check the cooling system in the spring and the heating system in the fall. To remember, you might plan the check-ups around the time changes in the spring and fall.

Your Heating and Cooling System Maintenance Checklist Should Include:

  • Check thermostat settings to ensure the cooling and heating system keeps you comfortable when you are home and saves energy while you are away.
  • Tighten all electrical connections and measure voltage and current on motors. Faulty electrical connections can cause unsafe operation of your system and reduce the life of major components.
  • Lubricate all moving parts. Parts that lack lubrication cause friction in motors and increases the amount of electricity you use.
  • Check and inspect the condensate drain in your central air conditioner, furnace and/or heat pump (when in cooling mode). A plugged drain can cause water damage in the house and affect indoor humidity levels.
  • Check controls of the system to ensure proper and safe operation. Check the starting cycle of the equipment to assure the system starts, operates, and shuts off properly.

Cooling System Maintenance Specific

  • Clean evaporator and condenser air conditioning coils. Dirty coils reduce the system’s ability to cool your home and cause the system to run longer, increasing energy costs and reducing the life of the equipment.
  • Check your central air conditioner’s refrigerant level and adjust if necessary. Too much or too little refrigerant will make your system less efficient increasing energy costs and reducing the life of the equipment.
  • Clean and adjust blower components to provide proper system airflow for greater comfort levels. Airflow problems can reduce your system’s efficiency by up to 15 percent.

Heating System Maintenance Specific

  • Check all gas (or oil) connections, gas pressure, burner combustion and heat exchanger. Improperly operating gas (or oil) connections are a fire hazard and can contribute to health problems. A dirty burner or cracked heat exchanger causes improper burner operation. Either can cause the equipment to operate less safely and efficiently.
Actions To Do Yourself
  • Inspect, clean, or change air filters once a month in your central air conditioner, furnace, and/or heat pump. Your contractor can show you how to do this. A dirty filter can increase energy costs and damage your equipment, leading to early failure.

Remember to Find Brown and Reaves Services on Facebook for more Cooling Tips, and for various tips, tricks and techniques to help you save money and stay cooler, follow us on Twitter!

If you need service on your air-conditioning unit or heat pump during these remaining hot days of summer, give us a call. We service the entire Grand Strand area, in and around Myrtle Beach. 843-497-9867. Or CONTACT US HERE.

Preventing And Clearing Clogged Drains

Clogged drains can be a real frustrationYou’re brushing your teeth and you turn on the faucet. It’s not draining and starts to back up. Here’s the problem; do you spit and let it sit or run to the kitchen? One thing is for sure; having clogged drains can be a major annoyance.

Clogged drains not only frustrate homeowners but they can be hard on your plumbing. The added pressure they create puts stress on your pipes and can shorten their lifespan.

So end the issue by following the guidelines below.

How to Prevent Clogged Drains and Clear Ones You Already Have.

No Food Down The Drain

Even if you have a disposal, it’s not good for your pipes to have sticky, mushy food shoved through them. Peel vegetables and scrape plates into the trashcan.

Also, avoid pouring grease down the drain. Animal fat can congeal into a solid and form a blockage. Instead, store it in a sealable container in the freezer. Once it’s full, trash it!

Only Toilet Paper In The Toilets

All feminine hygiene products should be thrown away, because most don’t dissolve quickly enough and can cause a backup. And be sure to secure toilet lids from curious children, because you have to admit that it is pretty fun to watch almost anything go “bye-bye” down the funnel that holds all that water.

Hair Today, Problem Tomorrow

Don’t wash loose hair down the drain. Collect it and throw it away after your shower. If you shed a lot, it might be beneficial to install drain screens to catch loose hair and make it easy to dispose. Be sure to clean these out every few weeks.

Chemicals Should Be Used With Caution

Be wary about using chemical drain cleaners on clogged drains. They can erode cast-iron pipes and usually don’t remove an entire clog, so it can easily recur. You should consider hiring a professional plumber to snake your drains; or better yet, buy your own augur at the hardware store for about $15.

Homeowners can be hard on their drains. From hair to food, clogged drains are a time-consuming frustration that might cost you big time. Treat your plumbing with a little TLC and it’ll reward you by quickly removing water and waste from your sight!

Check here for more helpful tips on periodic home maintenance. Contact Brown and Reaves Services for any plumbing problems you can’t solve on your own. 843-497-9867 or Contact Us Here.

How to Choose a New Hot Water Heater

Most people don’t just wake up one day and decide, “Today is the day I’m going to get a new hot water heater.” This decision is usually made when you turn on the hot water faucet and only get cold water, or you see water seeping from the water heater you have now.

Tips for choosing a new hot water heaterHopefully you just incur the “lack of hot water” problem, and not one that could potentially mean water damage as a result of a leaking water heater. But whichever problem you have, take a moment to consider the choices you’re going to have to face when deciding which type of water heater to purchase. It may seem like a cut-and-dry decision, but believe it or not, there are many different varieties available, and knowing what to look for can help you make the best choice for your home and circumstances.

Choosing The Right Hot Water Heater

You’ll want to find out if your current unit can be repaired without having to replace it. To get the most for your money, set a price limit of $50 or under per year for each year left on the warranty. If it’s going to be over that amount, you’re better off getting a new one. Let’s review the things to take into consideration when shopping for a new hot water heater.

An obvious consideration is whether you need a gas or electric hot water heater. Within both types, there are multiple sub-types, including tankless, solar, hybrid and the traditional storage tank hot water heater.

A hybrid model can save you a lot of money in the long run if you’re switching from electric to hybrid, but not if you already have a gas heater, because gas is much less expensive than electricity. If you currently have a traditional storage tank model, you may want to consider going with a tankless system because this can also save money. However, if you plan on sticking to a storage tank type, remember the old saying “you get what you pay for” because with these traditional units, the more expensive hot water heaters are generally worth the extra price. Consider a solar powered heater for the greatest amount of cost savings, particularly if your home is situated in a very sunny region or your tank will be able to get direct sun exposure.

After you settle on the type of hot water heater you want, you’ll also have to think about the capacity you will need. The number of people living in your home and their personal habits will greatly impact the size of the hot water heater most appropriate for you. For example, two people who take very long showers may use more water than four people who take short ones. Consult with your plumber about the size of the unit and be sure to talk about not only the number of people in the house, but also how much water they generally use.

The other considerations you’ll want to take into account include what type of warranty is offered, what safety features are included on the unit, and whether or not the hot water heater has a digital display that will allow you to set it on different modes, such as “vacation mode.” This can save money during the times you will be away from home.

It may seem like a lot to digest, but by putting the proper consideration into selecting a hot water heater that’s right for your living situation, you can save yourself time and money in the long run.

Contact Brown and Reaves Services, Inc. We’ll be happy to help you decide which hot water heater is best for you. 843-497-9867. Or contact us here.

Find Brown and Reaves Services on Facebook for daily tips on saving money on all things connected with your home.

Dryer Vent Misconceptions

Failing to clean out your dryer vent can be a major fire hazard.Consumers are often surprised to learn that an accumulation of just 1/2-inch of lint within a four-inch dryer vent can reduce airflow by nearly 50 percent. This accumulation requires the dryer to work harder and is an additional reason to have dryer vent cleaning performed. Dryers run at high temperatures and have limit safety switches that prevent their temperatures from becoming too high. However, reduced air flow can cause the appliances to frequently cycle off and on, wearing out these switches. In addition, dryer lint is a fire-starting material.

There’s apparently a lot of confusion and misconceptions about the subject of the do’s and don’ts of your dryer vent, and a lot of people are struggling with misinformation they’ve been gathering from friends, the Internet or other sources.

So it seemed like a good time to touch on this topic, and clear up a few misconceptions:

Dryer Vent Misconception #1:

It’s OK to vent the dryer directly into the house, so the air can be used as either a source of humidity or a source of heat.

Definitely NOT! As your clothes dry, moisture is being removed and vented out of the dryer, which is why it’s so important that clothes dryers be vented all the way to the outside of the house. If not, you’ll be pumping a tremendous amount of warm, moist air directly into your home, which is a perfect recipe for creating mold growth, as well as potentially doing a lot of structural damage. That air also carries with it a lot of fine lint particles. That’s not something you want to be breathing, and in high-enough concentrations the lint is highly flammable.

Dryer Vent Misconception #2:

For dryers that are located in a place where venting to the outside is difficult, it’s OK to simply vent the dryer into a container of water.

Definitely No! When a dryer is in operation, it’s removing moisture and lint and venting it to the outside. The only reason that people vent dryers into water is to contain the lint so it doesn’t fly around. But that does nothing to solve the problem of getting the moisture out of the house; in fact, pushing moist air into a bucket of water simply makes the problem worse.

Dryer Vent Misconception #3:

It’s OK to use that white, corrugated plastic, flex hose to vent the dryer.

The answer is no. The white plastic flex duct creates lots of problems. Wet lint accumulates in all the little folds, and can’t be removed through normal cleaning. The plastic has virtually no structural strength, so as the wet lint accumulates, the duct sags more and more, which allows more and more lint to accumulate in a vicious cycle. Over time, the duct simply fills up, less and less air can pass through it, your clothes take longer to dry, and eventually your dryer overloads and burns out — or worse yet, a house fire starts.

For dryer venting, use 4-inch smooth wall aluminum pipe. Where changes of direction are required, use 4-inch aluminum elbows. Hang the pipe from the floor joists — don’t let it drape on the ground.

Dryer Vent Misconception #4:

Dryer vents don’t need cleaning.

Your dryer only has the power to push that heavy, wet lint so far, so it’s inevitable that some of it is going remain behind in the vent pipe. As mentioned before, a buildup of lint in the vent reduces the air flow and affects your dryer’s performance, so it should be professionally cleaned out periodically. How often is a matter of how much use your dryer gets. Large families that do lots of laundry should consider having it cleaned every six months, while someone living alone and doing laundry once a week or so might need to have it done only once in three or four years.

Dryer Vent Misconception #5:

If it’s really difficult to find a way to vent the dryer to the outside, an acceptable alternative is to vent it directly into the crawl space or attic.

DO NOT vent a dryer directly into a crawl space, attic or basement. This may sound repetitious, but we’ve received so many similar questions about this that it obviously bears repeating. You’ll be pumping a lot of warm, moist air under the house that can cause both mold and structural issues, and you’ll also be letting all the lint accumulate, which is a definite fire hazard!

Hopefully these misconceptions when it comes to your dryer vent have been answered, but if you still have questions, don’t hesitate to contact us, or post your question on our Facebook Page.

Water Heater Issues and Repairs

A water heater is a necessary household appliance that supplies all of your hot water needs, from cooking to bathing. However there are common issues shared amongst many when it comes to this wonderful device. Sometimes there is a leak, not enough or no hot water. Most Myrtle Beach homeowners and renters have encountered these issues at least once. Listed here are the causes of some of these common problems and how you can take proactive measures against expensive repair or replacement.

Water Heater Leaks

Leaking water heater and ways you might possibly remedy it.This is one of the most common issues that customers will call a plumbing contractor about. You usually notice a leak when there is a puddle around the bottom of the water heater or there may be a trail leading back to the tank. When a leak occurs, this is usually due to a crack in the internal tank and replacement is necessary. Over a period of time water minerals can react with steel, which will corrode the heating tanks. Once this occurs, it is necessary for replacement and you should contact your local plumbing contractor.

Sometimes you may not have to replace the entire unit, but call a plumbing contractor for your water heater repair if the leak originates from the top. This type of leak can occur if a plumbing part has malfunctioned.

No Hot Water or Not Enough Hot Water

Another very common water heater repair issue is no hot water. If you have a gas heater and there is no hot water this can usually be attributed to the pilot light going out. You can light the pilot light yourself, however if you have never done so or are not quite sure as to how you should go about it, do not hesitate to call a plumbing contractor. However if you find that you have no hot water with an electric tank it would be a good idea to check your breaker to see if the breaker has tripped.

In the case of not having enough hot water and you have ensured that the tank is not leaking, you can flush the tank so that mineral deposits are not reducing its efficiency. Generally as your heater ages sediment build-up will occur, decreasing the amount of hot water that the heater can produce. This is when flushing the tank is necessary for a quick water heater repair. Go here for a “How To Video” on draining your water heater.

You may also have one of two elements burned out, causing the tank not to provide you with enough hot water. Replacing an element is a very common repair call we get.

These are just a few common issues many people have experienced with both electric and gas water heaters. If you have an issue that is outside of some of these listed above, you should immediately contact us to assess the problem. Sometimes all you need is a quick water heater repair job, but it is wise to get the opinion of an expert to see if replacement may be necessary.

In addition to heating and cooling repairs, Brown and Reaves Services can also service your water heater needs. Call us today. 843-497-9867. Like us on Facebook and grab your 20% Off Coupon on our next service call.

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