How to Prevent a Frozen Heat Pump in Winter Weather

How to Prevent a Frozen Heat Pump in Winter Weather

It’s normal for frost to gather on your heat pump in winter weather. However, an excessive amount of ice can damage your heat pump system and cause it to freeze and stop working. The last thing you want in the Montana winter is to lose heat and be uncomfortable in your home. You can take steps now to get your heat pump winter-ready so you do not need to go without heat or call for an emergency heat pump repair. To prepare your home for the cold, we’ve laid out the warning signs of a frozen heat pump and the top tips for how to prevent a frozen heat pump in winter weather.

How Does a Heat Pump Work in Winter?

Heat pumps pull warm air from the outside and use it to heat your home in the winter. Even if it’s below zero, heat pumps can pull heat from the outside air. Heat pumps use a smaller amount of electricity to operate, which makes them less expensive to run than a gas furnace. Typically, heat pumps are partnered with a natural gas furnace option so that the furnace can kick on when the temperature drops below a heat pump’s threshold.

Heat pumps will often switch into defrost mode when the weather gets icier. The defrost mode helps keep ice from forming on the outdoor components of the system and heat the coils back up to the correct temperature. However, if the defrost system cycles on too often or fails to turn on at all, this can be a sign that the heat pump is frozen and faulty.

Warning Signs of a Frozen Heat Pump

There are several warning signs that your heat pump has frozen and needs a technician’s help to repair it. Warning signs of a frozen heat pump may include the following:

  • The heat pump has been frozen over for a long period of time.
  • The defrost cycle is not working or activating.
  • Air is not entering the unit’s fins.
  • The inner coil is completely covered in ice.

If your heat pump is frozen, it will take the experience and knowledge of an HVAC technician to fix the unit. At Mountain Heating and Cooling today, we know how to expertly repair and replace heat pumps, and we take extreme care in doing so. We value you and your family’s comfort, so we want to get your heat pump unit back to normal ASAP. Reach out to us today to schedule an appointment.

Tips for How to Prevent a Frozen Heat Pump in Winter

If your heat pump keeps freezing up in winter weather, taking preventative measures now can help save you time, money, and discomfort later. Below, we’ve listed the top ways for how to prevent a frozen heat pump in winter weather.

Clean & Change Your Filter

Air filters can become dirty and blocked over time, which can cause your heat pump to freeze in the winter. Regularly clean and change your air filter to make sure unhindered air is flowing through your heat pump.

Remove any Blockages

Having proper airflow to your heat pump is crucial to keep the fans and coils running optimally. To prevent blockages, clear away any leaves, debris, or snowdrifts that could be blocking your heat pump. If the coils on the heat pump are dirty, cleaning them can help prevent them from freezing.

Clear Away Ice Buildup

Freezing rain and icy weather can cause the top of your unit to freeze. If you notice ice buildup on your heat pump, clear it away immediately. You can remove ice buildup with water from a garden hose, but don’t use other methods to melt the ice, as it could damage your heat pump unit.

Keep an Eye on the Weather

Checking on your local weather forecast for snow and icy weather can help you know whether you may need to clear ice or snow off of your heat pump. If you get thick snowfall or an ice storm, make sure to take time to remove any blockages from your heat pump unit when it is safe to do so.

Schedule Regular Maintenance

Sometimes thermostats malfunction and can cause your heat pump to stop working, as well. Scheduling a regular maintenance check with an HVAC technician can help prevent malfunctions and resolve any issues that could cause your heat pump to break down in the future.

Frozen Heat Pump? Give us a Call Today!

Going without heat in your home is extremely uncomfortable, so call a professional HVAC technician to repair and maintain your heat pump today. At Mountain Heating and Cooling, we have 40 years of experience under our belt, so we’ve repaired many frozen heat pumps in winter weather during our years of service. We put your comfort first with our services and treat your home like it is our own. We make sure to take the time to repair and check over your heat pump properly so we can recommend the best solutions for your home. If you need help with maintaining or repairing your home’s heat pump, call us today at (406) 586-4007.

How do Smart Thermostats Save Money in the Winter

How do Smart Thermostats Save Money in the Winter

One of the best ways to save money this winter is upgrading your home with an ENERGY STAR certified smart thermostat. The intuitive functions of smart thermostats open up a variety of options for you to customize your home’s settings and save money. If you have ever asked “Do smart thermostats save money in the winter?”, we’ve laid out the top benefits of smart thermostats to answer your question.

Why is ENERGY STAR Certification Important When Choosing a Smart Thermostat?

ENERGY STAR products have been verified by the United States Environmental Protection Agency to use less energy than standard products on the market. Using products that save energy creates a positive domino effect for your home and heating bills. Saving energy means saving extra work for your home, which means saving money on your heating bills. So, when you choose to use an ENERGY STAR certified smart thermostat, you are choosing a device that’s been verified to save energy, therefore saving you money.

At Mountain Heating and Cooling, we use ENERGY STAR certified products like Nexia and Trane smart thermostats to ensure your heating and cooling systems operate efficiently and cost-effectively. We use a variety of ENERGY STAR certified products, so you can consult with one of our experts to decide which of our recommended brands works best for your home.

How Do Smart Thermostats Save Money in Wintertime?

When the temperature outside drops, you typically react by cranking up the temperature inside of your home. However, this can easily lead to hefty heating bills and a lighter wallet. Smart thermostats allow you more opportunities to better regulate your heating and cooling system and optimize your home to save energy. If you’re wondering how do smart thermostats save money in the wintertime, we’ve listed the top energy-saving features of smart thermostats.

Programmable Temperature Settings

One of the main benefits of smart thermostats is being able to program custom heating and cooling settings. Smart thermostats allow you to schedule what time of day the heating kicks on or turns down, so you don’t waste extra heating power while you are away from home. During the winter, if your home has a lower interior temperature, this means you have a slower loss of heat. The slower your loss of heat, the more energy you save in the long run.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends setting your smart thermostat to 68°F while you are at home and setting it at a lower temp while you’re asleep or away from the house. You can even save as much as 10% a year on your heating bill by turning down your thermostat by 10°F for 8 hours a day.

Uses Real-Time Weather Information

Many of the most popular smart thermostats on the market use real-time weather data to gauge what to set your home temperature at. Smart thermostats that connect to the internet can access information about the weather conditions outside of your home. Using this information, your smart thermostat can adjust the temperature of your home accordingly to save money and increase efficiency.

Accessible Setting Scheduling

One of the most convenient features of smart thermostats is their scheduling accessibility. Many smart thermostats allow you to program and adjust your home’s smart thermostat from your tablet, computer, or smartphone. You can easily lower your home’s heating temperature when you’re at the office or on vacation, helping you save energy and money.

Chat with Smart Thermostat Installation Experts

If you’re interested in installing a smart thermostat in your home this winter, reach out to the HVAC experts at Mountain Heating & Cooling. We have years of experience in finding the perfect solution for your heating and cooling needs. We know smart thermostats 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 Keep Your Energy Bills Down This Winter: A Guide to Energy Star Ratings and Efficiency

How to Keep Your Energy Bills Down This Winter: A Guide to Energy Star Ratings and Efficiency

Winter is not an easy time for your energy bill. In the colder months, you typically use more energy to heat the entire home. The constant use of heat can not only raise your bills, but it can overwork your HVAC system and lead to leaks and breaks. The last thing you want to deal with during the winter is a broken furnace. No one wants a chilly house. To keep your heating and cooling systems running efficiently and your energy bills manageable, it’s important to know how to make your home energy-friendly. A great measure of your home’s energy efficiency is the Energy Star rating system.

What is the Energy Star rating system?

Energy Star—trademarked as ENERGY STAR— is a federal voluntary program operated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Energy Star educates people on how to save money and improve the environment through energy efficiency, much of which starts in the home. To help home and building owners select energy-efficient products Energy Star researches, identifies, and promotes products that fit their standards and place their “seal of approval” on these products. They even have an Energy star rating system to show which products are the most energy-efficient and, therefore, “Energy Star Certified.”

Using tips and tricks from the Energy Star, we’ve put together a guide for keeping your electrical bills low and energy rating high during the wintertime.

Winter Energy Efficiency Guide

Regularly Change Your Air Filter

Dirty air filters slow down airflow and make your HVAC system work harder to keep your home warm. This not only wastes energy, but it overworks your system and increases your heating bill. During heavy use months, like the winter and summer, check your air filter every month. Folks often ask us how often they should change their air filter, and the answer depends on how dirty or clean it is. If it looks dirty, replace the air filter immediately. Leaving an air filter unchanged can lead to expensive maintenance or early system failure later on. If it is clean, air filters can last up to three months unchanged.

Tune or Replace HVAC Equipment

Just like regularly visiting the dentist for a cleaning, checking and tuning your HVAC equipment every year can improve its efficiency and your comfort. Ideally, have your system checked before the winter season hits so you can catch and repair any small problems before the cold weather settles in.

Since 50% of your utility bill goes into heating your home, having your furnace inspected regularly can help you save money in the long run. We recommend checking and fixing your furnace about once a year for optimal performance. With the tune-ups, remember to change your furnace filter every month or as prescribed by the manufacturer. This will help regulate the proper flow of warm air throughout your home.

If your furnace is outdated (10 or more years old) or broken beyond reasonable repair, contact an HVAC professional for furnace installation services. Many HVAC companies, like Mountain Heating and Cooling, have furnace options that are Energy Star verified, so you can have peace of mind knowing you’ve made the right choice for your space.

Clean and Check Vents

Your heating system runs best when there is nothing obstructing the flow of air from returns and vents. Having clogged or blocked vents can cause your heating system to overwork, putting out more energy than is actually needed. To ensure your vents’ efficiency, regularly clean vents by removing dust and debris. Also, move any furniture or items that are blocking your vents.

Find and Fix Leaks

Drafty windows and doors can cause nearly one-third of your home’s heat to escape. Before the cold winter air sets in, it’s important to find and fix any leaks that are draining your heating system and bank account. Things to look for leaks include cracks around ducts, window frames, doors, vents, and chimneys. You can often seal these with weatherstripping and caulking. For an expert’s advice, reach out to an HVAC professional like Mountain Heating & Cooling for an in-depth home inspection.

Now is better than later to start preparing your home for the winter. When the cold air and snowy weather hits, it can often be an inconvenience to make major changes that impact your HVAC system. To ensure your peace of mind and keep your energy bill low this winter, schedule an HVAC system check with Mountain Heating & Cooling. Our team has years of experience finding the perfect solutions for your home. We take the time to know your needs to make sure we pair the right system and model to your home. Give us a call to schedule your appointment today.

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.  

 

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