Where did AC come from?

90% of American households have AC, but where did it all start?

A lot of us enjoy the luxury of air conditioning, but just over 100 years ago in 1902, the first ever air conditioning unit was born.

Willis Carrier who, at the time, worked for the Buffalo Forge Company, was tasked with creating something to control the humidity at the Sackett & Wilhelms Lithographing and Publishing Company in Brooklyn. The humidity at the plant was causing pages to wrinkle and ink to be misaligned.

Carrier designed a system for the humidity that heated water to humidify and cooled water to dehumidify the air in the plant. He then patented the “Apparatus for Treating Air.”


Through testing, he also designed a system to control the humidity automatically.

This invention led to the advancement of refrigeration-based cooling that led to the first ever air conditioning in a home in 1914 and the first ever public air conditioning in movie theaters in 1920.

Needless to say, Willis Carrier’s great feats brought comfort to the world we know today.

Why You Shouldn't Close Your Air Vents

Closing vents in a room you hardly use may SEEM like a good idea. If you’re trying to save money and energy, for example, you may think that closing off the airflow to that room will be beneficial. This is something we all heard from our parents growing up and never questioned.

But here’s why this is a BAD IDEA.

Air flows from your return vents through the ducts and to your furnace or air conditioner. After it’s heated or cooled, it’s pushed back through the ducts and into your supply vents.

Your HVAC system is designed to run for your whole home, depending on the size of it. This means it will always operate at a certain pressure to make sure air gets cycled throughout your entire home. So even if you close off one vent, your HVAC equipment isn’t going to know that. It will still push the air down the duct and toward your vent. When you don’t allow that air to escape into the room, it creates a backflow. The only place for the cooled or heated air to go is back toward the equipment. This increases air pressure within the ducts and will cause leaks in them over time.

Additionally, your air conditioner and furnace will have to work harder to deal with the pressure in the ducts. So you really aren’t saving money on your energy bill in the grand scheme of things.

If you’re concerned about your HVAC equipment, we’re more than happy to look at your units for you or give you advice over the phone!

Thermostat Settings: "ON" vs "AUTO"

The “On” and “Auto” settings on your thermostat direct the fan in your home’s heating and cooling system. But what do each of these settings mean? You may have been told it’s better to keep your thermostat set to “Auto” all the time. Or you may not know the difference between the two settings at all.

In this post, we’ll look at what each setting means for your home, your HVAC equipment, and your overall comfort. We’ll also discuss the best circumstances to use each in order to maximize your comfort while saving you money.

What’s the Difference?

AUTO Setting - If the thermostat is set to “auto”, this means that the fan is only running when your furnace or air conditioner is running. Once your home has reached the desired temperature as set by the thermostat, the fan will shut off. This setting is meant to save energy and money. One drawback to relying on “Auto” all the time is that there won’t be an even distribution of heat or AC throughout your home. Also, since the fan is constantly turning on and off, this will cause more wear and tear over time.

ON Setting - If your thermostat is set to “on”, this means that the fan is constantly running, even when your air conditioner or furnace are not. One benefit to keeping the thermostat set to “on” is that it will distribute the cold or warm air more evenly throughout your home. This setting will use more energy, however, and you’ll have to change your air filter more often.

Which is Better?

The simple answer? Neither! One is not necessarily better than the other. Rather, each setting is meant to be used at different times and under different conditions.

For example, if you are looking to save money on energy costs, you may consider using “Auto”. If you’re having company and want a more even distribution of warm or cool air, you may choose to set the fan to “On” for a couple days. Since the air is being cycled through your filter more often, this setting will also improve the air quality in your home.

At the end of the day, it all depends on you!

For more information on your home’s thermostat, or to upgrade to a Wi-Fi thermostat, give us a call today!

Maintaining Indoor Air Quality When You Have Pets

We love our pets! They are the shining beacons in our lives. Studies have shown that homes with at least one furry friend are more likely to lead happier lives than those without! One thing to keep in mind, however, is that the more pets you have in your home, the closer attention you need to pay to your HVAC equipment. Particularly your air ducts.

You’d be surprised what you can find in your air ducts. Dirt, dust, spiderwebs… For the morbidly curious, here is a visual example.

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When you have a dog, cat, or other furry friend in the house, you add fur and dander into this mix. Not to worry, though! For we have created a list of things you can do to help maintain the air quality in your home.

Have Your Air Ducts Cleaned - You’d be surprised how many people we speak to who have never had their air ducts cleaned. In older homes especially, it’s possible that the ducts haven’t even been touched since the day they were built!

Think about how often you have to vacuum your carpets and furniture. Now imagine how much of that fur and dander has found its way into your ducts! We recommend getting your air ducts cleaned every three to five years. Click here to get a quote and schedule an air duct cleaning.

Regular Grooming - One of the best ways to cut down (hah) on shedding is to keep up with your pet’s grooming schedule. Though actual grooming appointments will vary by breed, brushing your pup at home every few days will help keep the mats out of his fur and his fur out of your ducts. Plus the two of you can take that time to bond, and honestly, who doesn’t want that?

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Change Your Air Filter - Ordinarily, we recommend changing your furnace filter every three months, but when you have a dog, cat, or other furry friend in your home, you should be checking it more often. Take a look at this nifty little guide on the right to help you determine how often you should be changing your filter.

If you’re unsure how to change the filter, check out our post and video explaining all about it!

Following these tips will help ensure that the air in your home stays clean so your family and pets can continue to stay healthy and happy!

Fun with Fans: Cooling Down Creatively!

Autumn officially begins on Monday. Where has the year gone?? Summer was particularly brutal this year — regularly in the 80s, high humidity… sorry. Too soon.

The point is, our air conditioners have worked tirelessly for months, and we’re still experiencing some zingers. If you find all this heat has taken its toll on your air conditioner, give us a call and we can absolutely come repair it for you!

But let’s be real. It’s hot. What can you do to find immediate relief?

Sure, you could just fire up a fan and point it towards you. But you’re likely not going to cool down very quickly as you’re just pushing the warm air toward you faster. You deserve better than that. Here’s three options for you to cool down with a fan effectively!

  1. Use Your Exhaust Fans - Your bathroom likely has an exhaust fan that helps pull the steam and moisture out of the air when you’re showering. It can your home a bit more comfortable especially during particularly humid days.

  2. Go Old School - Take a leaf from your (grand)parent’s book. Back before air conditioners were commonplace in homes, people would put ice in a bowl and place it in front of a fan. It’s like getting your own personal arctic breeze!

  3. Criss-Cross - If you have a box fan, you can create a cross breeze within your home. Simply set the fan across from an open window to create a nice airflow throughout your home during the cooler evenings. Alternatively, you could also angle the fan so it’s facing outside the open window. This can help push the warm air outside where it belongs.

Whether you’re waiting to get your air conditioner repaired or just hoping to save money and energy, these tips can help you stay cool through any unexpected autumn heat wave!

Why you should get a furnace check-up

Picture this, it’s December 24, nine o’clock at night and you’re laying the kids down before getting some rest for the next days’ festivities. You head to bed with your spouse and take your turn at some sleep. The next day, Christmas, you wake up inside of your very own snow globe. Overnight, your furnace failed and the temperature inside of your home is at a steadily-dropping 35 degrees. Not only are you without heat but you can’t get a technician to come to your home because of the holiday. Sounds like a nightmare, right? Routinely having your furnace checked can protect you from catastrophes like this.

First, let’s talk about what you can do

1. Change your filter

2. Clean inside the furnace door

  • Keeping the inside of your furnace clean can help prevent failures. Dust can build up inside the doors that can be sucked through your system. To fix this, use a vacuum hose to clean up the dust inside the furnace and around the blower motor.

  • Next, wipe down the blower motor blades with a damp rag being careful not to cut yourself. Also be careful not to disconnect any wires behind the furnace door.

3. Make sure your furnace works

  • Turn your thermostat a few degrees higher than what you would normally set it to. If your furnace turns on for a few seconds and shuts off, or doesn’t turn on at all:

    • Check furnace switch

    • Check your circuit breaker

    • Check the blower door, if it’s not secured, your furnace will not turn on

    • Replace thermostat batteries

4. Check the burners

  • The burners should be producing a steady blue flame, if they’re producing a weak yellow flame or the flame isn’t steady, call a professional.

5. Check the combustion air duct

  • Make sure this isn’t blocked off or obstructed. The combustion air is needed to provide fresh air to the furnace.

6. Check your carbon monoxide detectors

  • Replace any batteries necessary in your carbon monoxide detectors. It is highly recommended that you have one of these in your furnace room and somewhere in your house.

  • Carbon monoxide is exhausted through your chimney but issues with your furnace can cause CO to leak inside your home.

  • If you notice any signals on your detectors indicating CO leakage, contact a professional immediately.

what a professional check up looks like

Sometimes you need a professional to come out. You need certain equipment and a lot of expertise to correctly perform a furnace check-up. It’s a good idea to have check-ups done once every one to two years to guarantee your equipment is running smoothly.

Here’s what you can look forward to in a routine check-up:

Check thermostat

The tech will inspect your thermostat to see if it is communicating correctly with your furnace. If it isn’t the tech will check the wiring and batteries to determine the issue.

Inspect heat exchanger

After a while, the heat exchanger can start to crack. This can lead to carbon monoxide leaks which can be deadly. The tech will inspect the heat exchanger to be sure it is in good shape.

Check blower motor amps

The tech will check the amps to make sure the motor is running at 100% FLA (full load amps) or full capacity.

Check & clean pilot light/burners

Soot and other grime can build up on the pilot light and thermocouple in your furnace over time. Without a proper cleaning, this can lead to many issues with your furnace. The tech will use a wire brush, towels and a metal file to clean it. If you have a newer electronic burner in your furnace, the tech will inspect and clean as necessary.

Check safety controls

Your furnace has many safety features to protect you from catastrophe. The tech will check the limit switch, check and clean the flame sensor, and check the air pressure switch. It is very important to make sure these features are always working correctly.

Check & adjust heat rise

In short, the heat rise is the difference in temperature from the air being supplied to a room and the air being pulled out of the room by return vents. The tech will adjust accordingly to fit the parameters for your furnace model.

Test for carbon monoxide

As said before, carbon monoxide (CO) can be deadly. It is a scentless gas that can seriously harm you or your family. The tech will check all parts of the furnace that are known to have CO leaks.

Check humidifier damper

Your humidifier needs to be set correctly for the time of year. The tech will adjust the damper to your humidifier to the correct setting for winter.

Inspect chimney/venting system

It’s very important for your chimney/venting system to be inspected because that is where CO and other fumes are exhausted from your furnace. If there are leaks in the liner or chimney, it can leak into your home.

Clean blower

Over time, the blower to your furnace can be caked up with dust which will decrease it’s efficiency. This can lead to the furnace overheating or malfunctioning early in it’s life. The tech will wipe and vacuum the blower and blower compartment if needed.

Inspect gas piping

After a while, gas lines can be damaged or the connections can become corroded or weakened, which may lead to a gas leak. The tech will inspect all joints and connections on your gas line with a gas sniffer to ensure there are no leaks.

Check & clean condensate pump/lines

The condensate pump is an essential component to your air conditioning system. The tech will disconnect and clean the condensate pump, lines and reservoir to make sure it’s working correctly. Without it, still water can build up in your AC system.

Check & adjust gas pressure

The tech will check & adjust the gas pressure of the furnace so it’s not under-firing or over-firing. This can lead to low efficiency in your home or your furnace not running full cycles.

Inspect & adjust electrical connections

Inside the front door of your furnace lies a lot of electrical connections. These can easily become disconnected or broken due to many reasons. The tech will inspect the connections and fix them as necessary.

Identify system switch & breaker

It is important to know which breaker switch is connected to the furnace and which switch in your furnace room is connected to your furnace in case of emergencies. The tech will identify and explain these to you.

As you can see, a lot goes into correctly performing a furnace check-up. If you’ve done the steps that you’re comfortable doing and would like a professional to come take care of the rest for you, we’d love to help! We would hate for our home furnaces to fail on Christmas so we don’t want that for you either.