Fall Furnace Maintenance: Getting Your Heating System Ready For Winter

Fall Furnace Maintenance: Getting Your Heating System Ready For Winter

The last thing you want during wintertime is to come home to a cold house. Having an operational furnace keeps you and your family cozy during the chilly season, so proper furnace maintenance is key for comfort. The fall is the perfect time to start checking on your heating & cooling system. Starting a few months ahead of time gives you enough time to inspect your furnace and call professionals to make the proper repairs. So you are ready for the snow and ice, here are seven tips to help you prepare your furnace for winter.

1. Have A Professional Checkup Before You Turn On

Your best option is to have a professional do a full inspection of your furnace before the winter hits. In fact, hiring a professional can help you save money in the long run. A professional trained in furnace maintenance can ensure furnaces are cleaned and repaired efficiently. Also, they often spot issues untrained eyes miss. HVAC professionals will be able to quickly fix any furnace issues before they grow and, potentially, ruin your entire heating system.

For professional help in your furnace maintenance needs, reach out to Mountain Heating & Cooling today.

2. Inspect Your Air Filters

Depending on your system air filter, filters need to be replaced every 1 to 3 months. Change 1” filters monthly, and 4” filters every 3 months.  If you have more allergens, dander, or pet hair in your home, you may need to replace the filter more often. These factors can obstruct your heating system and prevent air from circulating throughout your home.

3. Turn On Your Thermostat

If your thermostat is not working, then your furnace may not be working. Turning on your thermostat to see if it is functioning is a good, initial step to check your heating system’s health.

If the system is working, the thermostat should turn on without any problems. If the heat doesn’t engage, you may need to either replace the thermostat or check batteries on the thermostat or breaker or fuse for power issues. If it continues to not work, you should call in a professional to address the issue.

4. Replace Old or Outdated Furnaces

Sometimes, old furnaces cost more to repair than they do to replace. Furnaces that are over 20 years old can be prone to issues that require continual maintenance to keep them running. To get the opinion of a professional about whether your furnace should be replaced or not, contact Mountain Heating & Cooling today.

5. Check Vents

Vent blockages can wreak havoc on your heating system. Blocked air vents can cause your furnace to work harder. This increases the system’s temperature and increases the risk of a fire. Before winter, clear away items that obstruct vent airflow, including furniture, toys, equipment, and plants.

6. Clean Your Ducts

Proper air duct performance and condition is often overlooked when considering the upkeep of your heating & cooling system. Clean air ducts deliver fresh air into your home, so cleaning your air ducts every few years is part of an important maintenance plan. Check your air ducts for cracks and leaks at least every two years, and repair accordingly. Additionally, examine your air ducts for cleanliness and clean every few years to improve your indoor air quality.

7. Examine Your Heat Pump

Some homes use a heat pump instead of a furnace for heating. While furnaces burn oil or gas to heat homes, heat pumps use an electrically powered condenser (similar to an air conditioner) to transfer heat from outdoors to the inside of the home utilizing your ducted system.

If you heat your home using a heat pump, proper maintenance is key. The U.S. The Department of Energy indicates a well-maintained heat pump can reduce your home’s energy consumption by 10 to 25 percent. Heat pump maintenance includes removing plants and clutter from around outside parts, inspecting and tightening electrical connections, and lubricating moving parts like motors.

Fall is the time to get a jump start on your home’s furnace maintenance so you can stay warm and safe in the winter. Having professionals take care of your furnace is the most efficient way to ensure every aspect of your HVAC system is running as it should. When your family’s comfort and home’s quality are both on the line, you can trust Mountain Heating & Cooling to ensure everything is operating as it should. We know heating & cooling maintenance from start to finish, and we take the time to know what your home needs to run smoothly. Give us a call to arrange an appointment today.

Air Conditioner Leaking and Other Things to Watch Out for This Summer

Air Conditioner Leaking and Other Things to Watch Out for This Summer

During the hot months, you want to make sure your air conditioner is blowing ice cold, clean air. For that to happen, your unit will need to be running smoothly and efficiently. Air conditioner repairs can be costly, and no one wants to deal with the air conditioner leaking or failing on a hot summer’s day. To avoid that, it pays to learn about common air conditioning problems so that you can take preventive measures to avoid huge repair bills. At Mountain Heating & Cooling, we’ve put together a list of four of the common things to watch out for this summer so you can keep your home cool.

Air Conditioner Leaking

One of the common questions we get from folks is “why is my air conditioner leaking?”. Air conditioners can leak for a variety of reasons, the most common being a clogged condensate drain line. Over time, this line can become clogged with debris like dirt or dust, which can lead to the unit leaking inside your home. Essentially, when the condensate drain line gets clogged, water can’t escape and drain to the outside of the home, so instead, it gets backed up and leaks water inside your home. Air conditioner leaks can also stem from dirty air filters or low refrigerant. As the refrigerant level gets lower, the pressure inside of your AC system lowers, too. This can also lead to your evaporator coil freezing, creating a wet mess.

Air Conditioner Freezing Up

There are a few reasons why an air conditioner might freeze. This can range from insufficient airflow to low coolant levels to blower motor problems. If your unit is freezing, we recommend getting a qualified technician to take a look so that they can diagnose the issue and get it back up and running quickly.

Air Conditioner Not Blowing Cool Air

Over time, dust, dirt, and residue can build up on the air filter and block the airflow of your unit. This can affect the condenser unit and limit how much cool air it can blow. Changing the air filter regularly will help make sure your unit is blowing ice-cold air throughout the summer.

Air Conditioner Making Noises

There are a few different sounds that air conditioners can make, and it will vary depending on what the problem is. For example, a refrigerant leak will emit a hissing sound, a fan motor issue can produce a screeching sound, and faulty electrical components can produce a buzzing sound. If you notice any unexpected sounds coming from your unit, call in a qualified technician who can take a look and pinpoint the issue quickly. We can help! Give us a call and we can take a look.

How often should I service my air conditioner?

To avoid air conditioner leaking and to gain maximum air conditioner efficiency, you should make sure your air conditioning unit is serviced regularly and by qualified experts. There is some wiggle room around how long you can leave it between air conditioner repairs, though we recommend getting your air conditioning unit serviced once per year. Dirt and neglect can cause system inefficiency and failure, and to make sure that the unit is functioning efficiently and safely, it pays to perform routine maintenance. Proper maintenance by a qualified technician will prolong the unit’s life, keep it running efficiently, prevent air conditioner leaking and issues, and make sure that your home’s air is clean, and prevent future problems.

The last thing anyone wants to deal with on a hot summer’s day is an air conditioner leaking or having issues. At Mountain Heating & Cooling we’re here to help. Let’s schedule a maintenance check now to prevent any issues and to make sure your unit is working efficiently for the rest of the summer. Give us a call to arrange an appointment today.

Homeowners Guide to House Air Filters and Purifiers for Wildfire Season: Furnace vs. Standalone

Homeowners Guide to House Air Filters and Purifiers for Wildfire Season: Furnace vs. Standalone

Indoor air pollution is a big consideration as a homeowner. The last thing any of us want is for our home’s air to be unhealthy for our family. This is even more of a factor during forest fire season, when keeping the air safe and reducing the amount of smoke in your home becomes crucial. Folks often ask us how they can keep their home’s air clean during the fire season, and which house air filters are best. If you have a heating and cooling system, your air conditioner or furnace will have an air filter in it. But are those built-in air filters good enough to keep your home’s indoor air quality as high as you want it to be?

In terms of house air filters, you have a couple of options:

  1. Relying on your HVAC air filter
  2. Investing in a standalone air purifier or air cleaner 

HVAC Air Filters: Should I run my AC during fire season?

If you have a furnace or an air conditioner, you should have an air filter. Air filtering is not the primary function of these units, though most will have a filter installed in them. The quality of furnace air filters or air conditioning filters will depend on things like the model of the unit, its maintenance history, and the settings it has. All of these will have a bearing on how much risk there is of wildfire smoke and other pollutants circulating through your home. 

When fire season starts, one of the first things you’ll want to do is to turn off any settings that allow the intake of outdoor air into the indoor air space. Then, you’ll want to turn off any window air conditioning units that can pull in contaminated outdoor air into your home. To get the most air cleaning value out of your AC unit, you’ll also need to regularly maintain it and replace the filter. That will help to minimize the risks of pollutants— like wildfire smoke— entering your home’s environment. 

Standalone House Air Filters

Air filters that are included in your furnace and air conditioner are not as thorough as air purifiers and cleaners that are designed purely to clean your home’s air. To gain the best air filtration for your home, it’s worth considering an air purification system as well. A couple of air purifier options that we carry are: 

  • Trane CleanEffects™ Air Cleaner: This model uses cutting-edge technology that creates cleaner, healthier air for your home. It removes up to 99.98% of airborne particles. Many room filters and HVAC unit air filters aren’t as good at filtering out tiny particles like dust, smoke, and bacteria, which are small enough to get deep into your lungs because they aren’t filtered well by your nose and throat. This Trane air cleaner is great at catching those tiny particles, and so can reduce the presence of smoke, dust, pollen, and even bacteria in your home.
  • GPS Series Plasma Purifiers: These units are simple to maintain, cost effective to install, and are easy to move around. They use an ionizing technology that drops the smoke out of the air, and as a bonus they’re also great for eliminating odors in the home!

Air Filter vs. Air Purifier: Do I Really Need Both?

Most HVAC system air filters will do a decent job of filtering out larger dust and dirt particles from the air, though they will need to be regularly maintained and they simply aren’t designed to trap smaller particles like smoke. They are designed to keep the HVAC running optimally and to reduce wear and tear—not to make your indoor air perfectly clean. We recommend investing in an air purifier to take your indoor air quality to the next level, especially during fire season. This will be the best option for getting the cleanest air and the best house air filters available.

 

Wildfire season is the time when we are often the most conscious about how clean and safe our home’s air is. When fires start, it can feel daunting to try to find the right solution for your family and home. We can help you find the best air filter for wildfire smoke! At Mountain Heating & Cooling we have years of experience in finding the perfect solution. We know air cleaners inside and out, and we will take the time to get to know your needs to make sure we fit the right system and model to your home. Give us a call to arrange an appointment today.  

 

How to Choose the Best Whole Home Humidifier for Your Space

How to Choose the Best Whole Home Humidifier for Your Space

The warm days and long nights are finally here! Summertime in Montana is a special time, and it can also get pretty dry as the temperatures rise. Here at Mountain Heating & Cooling we want to help keep your home as comfortable as possible through the dry summer months. A whole home humidifier can be a great option for your home’s air, and we’re here to help you choose the right model for your space.

What is a Whole Home Humidifier?

A humidifier puts moisture into the air in your home. This can be really helpful in the winter, when the weather and heating systems in the home can make the air dry. It can also be a huge help in places where the climate is dry, like in Montana, in the summer months. Dry air in the home can dry out skin, lips, and even your houseplants. This is where a humidifier comes in!

What are Humidifiers Good For?

  • Helping with Dry Skin and Lips: Dry air is notorious for dry and chapped skin and lips. We all know how uncomfortable this can be, and when it’s dry in your home, lotion and chapstick can struggle to keep up. Getting more moisture into the home’s air helps your skin and lips to absorb it. A humidifier (along with creams and topical options) can also help sufferers of skin conditions like Eczema retain moisture, reduce itching, and prevent uneasy sleep from irritation.
  • Extending the Life of Home Furnishings: Moisture from a humidifier can be really helpful around the home. Wood floors or furniture may last longer, and humidity can help to prevent wallpaper and paint from cracking. Expensive textured paint jobs could last a lot longer if you add some moisture in the air when it gets dry.
  • Preventing the Spread of Colds and Flu: Humidifiers can help prevent you from getting sick by adding moisture to the air. This is because many viruses survive better in drier conditions. Higher humidity gives viruses a better chance of attaching to water vapor droplets and falling out of the air, instead of clinging to us and infecting us directly.
  • Vibrant House Plants: Lots of the indoor houseplants we know and love are tropical and thrive in humidity. Many plants will be unhappy if it gets too dry, and keeping a good level of humidity can keep plants happy and thriving.

Humidifiers We Carry at Mountain Heating & Cooling

If you’re looking for a humidifier for your home, there are options, and we’re here to help you find the best fit for your needs.

  • Honeywell ByPass Humidifier: The Honeywell model is a whole house steam humidifier that is effective and simple, so you can get whole home humidification without it costing the earth. A bypass humidifier has a bypass duct that makes use of the furnace’s own fan to recirculate warm air across a humidifier pad and back into the ductwork.
  • Trane Steam Humidifier: Steam modifiers inject steam into the air stream and spread mist into the air to reduce dryness. Steam humidifiers offer a more efficient method of releasing humidity into the home.

It can feel daunting to choose the right humidifier for your space, and to know how to install and properly maintain it to get the most out of it. We’ve got you covered. At Mountain Heating & Cooling we take the time to get to know your space and your needs, and to make sure we fit the right whole home humidifier to your space. Contact us to arrange an appointment today.

3 Things to Consider Before You Buy a New Air Conditioner for the Summer

3 Things to Consider Before You Buy a New Air Conditioner for the Summer

There’s nothing better than coming home to a nice, cool house on a hot summer’s day. Getting the right air conditioner for the summer so that your house stays perfectly cool is a game-changer. There are a lot of options for air conditioners now with the technologies changing and advancing quickly. It’s important to consider all of your options for your space before you make a decision.

Take the time to understand your needs 

Before you can find the perfect air conditioner for your home, you’ll want to think about what your needs look like. For example, consider:

  • How large the space is you want to be cooled
  • Whether you have hot or cold spots in your home
  • How many people live in your home, and whether you have pets
  • If anyone in your home suffers from allergies or asthma, and if you’re concerned about indoor air quality

One of the biggest factors is the size of your space. If a unit is oversized you’ll waste unnecessary power, increasing power bills, and have the possibility of your coil freezing. An undersized AC unit will not cool your space, even when it is firing at 100%. Talk to a comfort specialist about the right size of unit for your home and have them calculate your cooling load.

Know when and why it’s time to get a new air conditioning unit 

If you don’t already have central air or an air conditioning unit, now is a perfect time to invest and to get your home ready for the summer months. Summer rolls around quickly and hotter months are coming. AC can help make your home comfortable.

As a general rule, if you already have an air conditioner and it is 10 years old or more now is the time to look into replacing it. You could save up to 40% on your cooling energy costs by replacing it with a newer, more efficient model. Technologies are advancing, and the newer models are much more efficient and have more options than the older models do. When it comes to replacing, it pays to speak to an expert to find out what would be the best fit for your home. 

Consider the different types of air conditioning units 

There are lots of different types of air conditioners you can get, three of the main types that we offer are: 

  • Mitsubishi Ductless AC— These are ductless mini-split air conditioners and heaters. They consist of indoor units connected to an outdoor compressor. Coolant passes between the units, carrying the heat from indoors to the outdoor unit where it is released.
    Pros: No ductwork or floor vents are needed, making them less visible in your home. They are usually a great choice for smaller homes or problem spaces, since less cooling power is needed. They’re also are more efficient than window units.
    Drawbacks: One thing to keep in mind is that they can also be more expensive to install than other units, and are zoned for each room, rather than a whole house.
  • Heat Pump— A heat pump uses the outside air to both heat and cool a home. It is the most economic and efficient way to heat a home most of the time.
    Pros: While an air conditioner only cools the air, heat pumps can heat or cool thanks to a reversing valve in the outdoor unit that transfers heat into your home.
    Drawbacks: A big drawback to a heat pump is that it can be limited in their ability to heat when the temps drop below 20 degrees.   Our customers often supplement heat pumps with a furnace or electric baseboard heat for the colder days.
  • Central AC— With a central air system, cool air is sent through the air handler on your furnace into air ducts, where it is carried into the rest of the house.
    Pros: If you have ductwork in your home already, it will often be more cost-effective to stay with a central system and cool your whole home. If your home is larger, a central air system may also be the better choice since the greater power of a central air system will pay off for a larger space.
    Drawbacks: A drawback of central air units are more they require ducting, so if you don’t have a crawl space or open attic etc for ducts adding them can be a big project.

It can feel overwhelming to weigh up the different types, models, and specs, and then figure out which is right for your home. That’s where speaking to a trusted expert with years of experience can really help. At Mountain Heating & Cooling we take the time to get to know your space and your needs, and to make sure we fit the right system and model to your home

Give us a call to arrange an appointment today. 

Spring Maintenance: Get Your AC Repair and Air Checks Done Before Summertime Arrives

Spring Maintenance: Get Your AC Repair and Air Checks Done Before Summertime Arrives

The long Montana winter is almost over and we’re all looking forward to long, sunny days, and spending more time outside with family. As we get ready for the warmer months, let’s make sure your home is ready for the changing seasons and the unpredictable Montana weather we all know and love. AC repair when the summer months kick in is probably the last thing you want to worry about. To help prevent that we’ve rustled together some top tips for you all:

1. Schedule an AC repair or maintenance check

Dirt and neglect are the top causes of cooling system inefficiency and problems. To make sure your air conditioning unit is working smoothly, you’ll want to make sure routine maintenance and any necessary AC repairs are done before summer rolls around. The last thing you want to deal with on a hot summer’s day is unhealthy air in your home, an unexpectedly high utility bill, or—last but not least—the unit failing and turning off altogether.  

2. Consider replacing your air filter

Folks are often shocked to find out that the air in their homes can be much more polluted than the air outside—especially when we live in Montana and are surrounded by fresh mountain air. Getting your air filter changed helps make sure the air in your home stays as clean and healthy as outside. This is especially important this year since we’ve all spent so much more time at home, making it easier for dirt, dust, and dander to build up in your air system. Let’s keep your home’s air clean and fresh as we roll into summer!

3. Check your air ducts

Houses that use ducts to push conditioned air throughout the house are excellent, and especially in the heat of summer. That being said, about 20% of the air that moves through the duct system in your house is lost due to poorly connected ducts, leaks, and holes. This can ramp up your utility bill and decrease your system’s life expectancy. A couple of things to consider:

  • Getting the ducts properly sealed can be a game-changer for keeping your home’s air fresh (and keeping those utility bills down!).
  • It can also be worth getting your air ducts cleaned. Over time, a sticky residue can form in them from things like dirt and pollen. We generally recommend getting them cleaned every 3-5 years, depending on things like system use and pets, and we’re always happy to take a look at your system to see what needs doing.

4. Get your irrigation system running again

Summer can be dry around here, and we all want to make sure our yards are a great place to spend time outside. Part of that is having a reliable, well-functioning irrigation system to keep your landscape green and vibrant. Taking the time to carefully get your irrigation system going after the freezing cold months helps keep it performing well year after year. You’ll want to go carefully and make sure you take steps like checking the soil isn’t frozen, testing the water pressure, and gently refilling the system. If you’re not feeling confident about the start-up procedure, call in an expert to help. 

Having clean air in your home in the summer is so important, and so is knowing that your systems are running well and you aren’t overpaying for your bills. Let’s make sure your AC is blowing ice-cold, fresh air on those hot summer nights! 

Schedule a summer maintenance consultation or AC repair today.  

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