Q: What should I do if I smell gas in my house?
A:If you smell gas in your home, get outside as quickly as possible. Once you’re safely outside, call these people, in this order:
- The fire department (911)
- Your gas company
- Magnolia Heating & Air Conditioning
While inside, don’t touch any electrical switches, as these could create a spark that can ignite the gas. This includes light switches, TVs, phones (even cell phones), fire alarms, and anything else with an ON/OFF switch, no matter how small it seems. If you react quickly and get to safety, gas leaks don’t have to be a big worry.
Carbon Monoxide Safety
If you have had your furnace for a couple of years and you’re suddenly starting to get headaches after being inside for a short time, follow the same procedure above – you likely have a carbon monoxide leak. Other signs of a carbon monoxide leak include:
- Excessive humidity indicated by moisture or frost on the inside of windows
- Soot on the ceilings and walls, in front of the fireplace or on the front panel of a furnace
- A strange, stale odor that hurts your eyes when gas-burning appliances are running
If you notice any of these signs and believe you have a carbon monoxide leak, ensure your safety by taking the following measures:
- Open as many windows as possible to ventilate your home
- Open the door of an attached garage
- Shut off your furnace and any other fuel burning appliances
- If you start to feel sick, get everyone, including pets, out of the house
- Call 911, the gas company, and Magnolia Heating & Air Conditioning
Remember, carbon monoxide is odorless and unlike natural gas, there is no odor added to it. Keep an extra careful eye out for any of the signs of CO production and you’ll be able to stay safe.
Learn more about carbon monoxide detectors in Maryland »
Q: How can I save money with a programmable thermostat?
A:Programmable thermostats automatically adjust the temperature in your home to the most efficient level for different times of day, depending on your settings. What this means is if there are set times every day when you and your family are not at home, you can set the temperature during these times higher or lower based on whatever is more efficient for the season. For example, in the summer you can set the temperature to 80 F or more during the times when your family is not home, and have it come back down to 72 F in time to keep you cool when you come home!
Programmable Thermostat Tips
- You can set your programmable thermostat to whatever temperatures you want, but most come with pre-programmed settings designed to maximize comfort and efficiency. You can adjust these to fit your family’s schedule.
- Try not to set more than four different temperature settings each day – too much adjustment forces your air conditioner to change temperature throughout the day, which can be just as wasteful as not having a programmable thermostat.
Learn more about programmable thermostats in Maryland »
Q: Can attic ventilation reduce my cooling costs in the summer?
A: Attic ventilation helps control moisture and keeps cooling costs down. When the summer heat beats down on your roof, the attic can reach up to 150 F! With the proper amount of insulation and attic ventilation, you can keep your cooling costs down and prevent the accumulation of mold and mildew that can cause even bigger problems!
Benefits of Attic Ventilation
During the spring and summer, balanced attic ventilation allows the roof to breathe, lowering attic temperatures and cooling the roof deck (base). A cooler attic will help reduce cooling costs.
- Accumulated attic heat is removed quickly.
- Your air conditioner does not need to compensate for long hours of oven-like attic temperatures.
During the fall and winter, a balanced ventilation system keeps attic humidity at lower levels, minimizing condensation and reducing the likelihood of mold and mildew growth.
- Condensation dampens and compacts the insulation, reducing its efficiency.
- The heating system has to work harder to replace the heat lost through the less efficient insulation.
A properly ventilated attic reduces the risk of structural deterioration in your home by preventing wood rafters and the roof’s decking (base) from moisture damage and wood rot.
Reduced Moisture Accumulation
Balanced attic ventilation lets cool fresh air enter your attic and lets hot, stale air escape. When properly installed, roof ventilation is the most effective way of removing heat and moisture from the attic.
Q: How can I tell when I need to replace my AC system?
A: There are a few definite signs that indicate you need air conditioner replacement:
- Your AC is more than 10 years old
- You need frequent and increasingly expensive repairs
- You have severe temperature inconsistencies in your home
If any of those apply to you, call Magnolia Heating & Air Conditioning today!
Indoor Air Quality FAQs
Q: What’s the big deal about indoor air quality? Why should I care?
A: Scientific evidence has shown that indoor air can be as much as 100 times more polluted than outdoor air, or more. These days, people spend about 90% of their time indoors!. As a result, the “dosage” of air pollution – that is, the amount of pollutants multiplied by the time spent in that environment – is much higher indoors than outdoors. This poses a greater health risk due to air pollution exposure indoors.
Q: Are some people more susceptible to indoor air pollution?
A: Yes. People who spend a significant amount of time indoors are, naturally, more susceptible to adverse effects of poor indoor air quality than those who spend more time outside. In addition, children and infants, the elderly, and anyone with severe asthma or allergies are at increased risk of health effects of indoor air pollution.
Q: My house is clean – could I have poor indoor air quality?
A: Unfortunately, yes. Most of the time, indoor air quality has little to do with how clean you keep your home – what’s more important is how well your home is ventilated and the sources of poor indoor air quality present.
A great way to improve the efficiency of a home is to seal it up as tightly as possible – at least this was the theory during the energy crisis of the 1970s. Unfortunately, this makes it very difficult for the home to breathe. If a home isn’t ventilated properly, polluted indoor air is never replaced with fresh outside air, meaning stale, polluted air stays in the house and gets worse over time. This is especially true during the summer and winter, when it’s too hot or cold to keep the windows open for extended periods of time.
Contrary to popular belief, indoor air pollutants do not include things like dirt and dust and therefore can still be present in clean homes. More often, pollution sources include:
- Chemicals from treated building materials and furnishings
- Household cleaning products
- Personal care products
- Oil, gas, kerosene, or wood combustion products
Q: How does indoor air pollution affect your health?
A: Health effects from poor indoor air quality can include eye, nose, and throat irritation, headaches, dizziness, fatigue, and allergy-like symptoms. These symptoms are usually short-term and go away once you leave the house. Occasionally more serious symptoms will crop up, including asthma, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, and humidifier fever.
Everyone has different sensitivity to indoor air pollutants and experiences different symptoms. Some people may never experience any symptoms while others may truly suffer. Because many symptoms may be difficult to distinguish from viruses, or allergies, care must be taken to determine if symptoms are worse while in a particular building compared to outside, or whether they dissipate when a person is away for several days.
What are some of the most common indoor air pollutants?
Common indoor air pollutants include:
- Tobacco smoke
- Bacteria, mold and mildew, viruses, pet dander, pollen, dust mites, etc. These are more of a problem in homes with high humidity or water-damage.
- Carbon monoxide from unvented gas heaters, leaking chimneys or furnaces, gas stoves, automobile exhaust, etc. Low levels can cause headaches and other flu-like symptoms. High levels can be fatal.
- Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)from household products including paints, paint strippers, and other solvents; wood preservatives; aerosol sprays; cleansers and disinfectants; moth repellents and air fresheners; stored fuels and automotive products; hobby supplies; and dry-cleaned clothing.
- Formaldehyde from pressed wood products (hardwood plywood paneling, particle board, fiberboard) and furniture made with pressed wood products, or urea-formaldehyde foam insulation.
- Pesticides that may drift or be tracked into the house.
Heat Pump FAQs
Q: How can I tell when I need to replace my heat pump?
A: One of the hardest things to do with your heat pump is figure out whether you need to have it replaced or repaired if it starts having problems. Many times, people hear some strange noises or see an unusual spike in their energy bills and assume the worst. Fortunately, that’s not always the case – sometimes the problem is caused by a worn out part that can be easily replaced.
To decide whether you need a full heat pump replacement, pay attention to your heat pump over the course of a few weeks, checking for common issues like uneven heating or cooling or reduced overall heating and cooling capacity. If your heat pump can no longer move conditioned air through your home, this is definitely a problem you need to address.
If your heat pump is approaching 10 years old and giving you problems, it might be easier to simply replace it straight away. Even though it may seem like a large upfront investment, remember that using a brand new heat pump will be much more efficient and will save you money over trying to squeeze a few more years out of your existing one.
Q: What is the average lifespan of a heat pump?
A: This really depends on how often it is serviced and how well it is maintained, but for the most part a heat pump should last about 14 years. However, new heat pumps with even longer lifespans are coming out every day!
Note that many factors affect the life expectancy of your heat pump and should be considered when making replacement decisions. These include the quality of the components, the quality of their installation, how well you keep up with maintenance, weather and climatic conditions, and intensity of use. Some components remain functional but become obsolete due to product improvements or changing environmental or efficiency standards.
Q: Can I repair my own heat pump?
A: While you can do most of the cleaning and maintenance of your heat pump yourself, it's generally not a good idea to try and repair anything major without proper training. Heat pumps are on a 240V circuit, meaning that severe electrocution is possible if you don't have a strong working knowledge of electricity. In addition, most modern heat pumps contain complex circuit boards and sensors and have to comply with strict regulations. In general, it's best to leave the major repairs to the experts!
Q: How often should I change my heat pump's air filter?
A: Like your air conditioner and furnace, you should change the filter on your heat pump once a month during peak use (summer and winter months), and once every three months outside of that.
Furnace and AC Replacement FAQs
Q: How long will my HVAC system last?
A: With proper annual maintenance, you can expect your air conditioner to last anywhere from 12 – 15 years and your furnace to last about 15 – 20 years. These are just estimates, however – if your HVAC system has been around longer than this but is still working fine, there’s no reason to replace it!
Learn more about furnace replacement in Maryland »
Q: Do I need to replace my indoor coil with my air conditioner?
A: Replacing the indoor coil along with your air conditioner is generally a good idea. There is a direct correlation between the efficiency of your AC and the performance of the indoor coil, so changing out the coil may be critical to optimizing the performance, efficiency and savings potential of your new system.
Learn more about fan coil replacement in Maryland »
Q: How can I figure out which type of furnace or AC is best?
A: There are many factors that influence the type of furnace or air conditioner that’s best for your home. These include the size and age of your home and the number of rooms as well as current utility costs and local rebate programs. At Magnolia Heating & Air Conditioning, we utilize the latest technology to help you determine which type of AC or heater will keep you the most comfortable while saving you the most money.
Q: What size air conditioner or furnace do I need?
A: Again, there’s no simple answer for this – it all depends on conditions in your home. Factors that determine the size of your HVAC system include humidity levels in your area, the number of windows in your home, total square footage, the direction your home faces, the number of heat producing appliances in your home, the type of insulation in your home and the number of people that live there. Magnolia Heating & Air Conditioning takes all of these factors into account so we can install an air conditioner or furnace that will keep you comfortable for less.
Furnace and AC Maintenance FAQs
Q: How often should I have a furnace or air conditioner tune up?
A: You should have your HVAC system tuned up annually prior to the start of its season. This will help spot little issues that may have developed while your system was shut off and prevent them from becoming costly repair jobs later on.
Q: Is there anything I can do before I call for a furnace or AC service?
A: If you’re having problems with your furnace or AC, there are a few things you can try before calling the HVAC service professionals at Magnolia Heating & Air Conditioning:
- Disconnect and reconnect your indoor and outdoor switches
- Make sure your circuit breakers are in the ON position
- Make sure your filters are clean
- Keep your vents clear and unobstructed
- Make sure your system is in the proper mode – HEAT or COOL
Heat Pump FAQs
Q: I’ve heard people say heat pumps don’t keep you as comfortable as furnaces. Is this true?
A: While heat pumps do take some getting used to, they will still keep your home every bit as comfortable as a furnace. Heat pumps are better at keeping the temperature in your home consistent, meaning you won’t have those blasts of warm air that are common with gas furnaces – instead, the air coming out of your registers will feel cool, even though it’s at the temperature you set.
Learn more about heat pumps in Maryland »
Q: How can I control humidity levels in my home?
A; Along with installing a humidifier and dehumidifier, you can also install a variable speed HVAC system. In addition to running more efficiently than single speed motors, variable speed fans will circulate air constantly, removing excess moisture from the air all day.
Q: How much humidity should I have in my home?
A: The short answer is 35%; however, the ideal range by most research is between 40% and 60%, if the home is properly constructed to handle humidity that high.
Q: What size humidifier do I need?
A: Sizing a humidifier is based on several things – home size, construction type, climate, lifestyle and HVAC equipment to name a few. Magnolia Heating & Air Conditioning can assess your home and help you figure out the ideal size humidifier.
Air Conditioner FAQs
Q: What is the average lifespan of a furnace or air conditioning system?
A: Provided you schedule regular furnace or air conditioner maintenance and tune ups, your air conditioner should last about 12 - 15 years, and your furnace should last between 15 - 20 years.
Note that many factors affect the life expectancy of your HVAC equipment and should be considered when making replacement decisions. These include the quality of the components, the quality of their installation, how well you keep up with maintenance, weather and climatic conditions, and intensity of use. Some components remain functional but become obsolete due to product improvements or changing environmental or efficiency standards.
Q: Why is ice forming on my AC refrigerant pipe?
A: If your air conditioner coil is frozen there could be a number of factors at work. Usually the coil is frozen because your filters are dirty and are blocking airflow through your AC system. This would cause cool air to condense around the coil which would freeze since the coil is so cold. If your filters are not dirty, you may have a refrigerant leak or a clog in your refrigerant line.
If your air conditioner has stopped working the way it should and you suspect it might be frozen, take the following steps:
- Turn off the power
- Take the cover off the indoor unit of your air conditioner and look for ice on the evaporator coil. If you do see any ice, move on to the next step.
- Keep the AC power off until the ice melts and all the water has drained away from the unit.
- If you can find it, you can try to clean out the AC condensate drain. Some drains have a vent tee that makes cleaning easy – just find the white PVC drain coming out of the back of your air conditioner and carefully pour in a cup of bleach to flush out anything that could be blocking the drain. This will ensure any water that comes off the coils drains properly and doesn’t get stuck and cause your coil to freeze again!
- Replace all the filters on your unit
- Turn your air conditioner back on. At this point, it should work fine – if it doesn’t, call Magnolia Heating & Air Conditioning!
Q: Do I have to replace my AC coil when I replace my air conditioner?
A: You don't HAVE to, but it helps. New air conditioning systems are designed to be paired with a specific coil of the same SEER. They will still run with a mismatched coil, but most likely will run at lower efficiency. Also, older air conditioner coils may use R-22 (Freon) refrigerant, which is no longer the standard – newer air conditioner coils use the environmentally friendly R-410a, which can't be easily transferred over.
Q: When should I replace my AC?
A: Sometimes it’s easy to make the case for replacing an air conditioner–say, for instance, your unit is 20 years old and has to be held together with duct tape. Sometimes it's not so easy, however. If your air conditioner isn't in immediate danger of failure, there are a couple of things you should consider when thinking about replacement:
- Energy costs–air conditioners are getting more energy efficient every day, and depending on how old your current air conditioner is, a new system could save you significantly. A Magnolia Heating & Air Conditioning technician can help you calculate how much money you could save with an air conditioner replacement.
- Return on investment–with significantly reduced energy costs, a new air conditioner could pay for itself in a matter of a few short years. Again, your Magnolia air conditioning technician will help breakdown the payback period so you can decide if it’s worth it to schedule a replacement.
- Your AC breaks down at inconvenient times - if your air conditioner seems to break down every time you run it hard (such as when it's really hot out), this could be a sign that it's not cut out to work properly whenever you need it.