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.

How to clean an electronic air filter

Electronic air filters are a nice convenience to have because they are reusable and more efficient. It is still important to make sure you are cleaning them every few months. Still, it’s super easy and this process only takes about an hour including the drying time.

If you have a normal furnace filter, here’s a guide to changing it.

Here are two ways to clean your electronic air filter:

First, turn off the electronic air filter by the switch on the top of it. Let it sit for 15-20 minutes to let any residual energy discharge from it. Be very careful with the filter to avoid cutting yourself or damaging the ionizing wires.

It is also important to check the owner’s manual on how to care for it.

1. Using your Tub:

  1. Fill your bath tub with hot water.

  2. Pour 1/2 cup of mild dish soap into the tub.

  3. Fully submerge the electronic air filter in the water.

  4. Let sit for 15-20 minutes.

  5. Remove from water and gently wipe grime off of the cells.

  6. Let it air dry for 45 minutes to an hour.

  7. Re-insert the electronic air filter back into your furnace.

2. Using a garden hose:

You can use a cleaner like Simple Green or mild dish soap.

Simple Green (or similar cleaner):

  1. Spray the cleaner on the filter.

  2. Let sit for 15 minutes to raise the dust/grime.

  3. Spray the filter with low pressure water (high pressure can damage the cells).

  4. Let it air dry for 45 minutes to an hour.

  5. Re-insert the electronic air filter back into your furnace.

Dish soap:

  1. It is important to use mild dish soap to avoid damaging the cells.

  2. Spray the filter with low pressure water.

  3. Apply the dish soap to the filter using a soft wet rag.

  4. Spray the filter again with low pressure water, rinsing all of the dish soap off of the filter.

  5. Let it air dry for 45 minutes to an hour.

  6. Re-insert the electronic air filter back into your furnace.

How to change your furnace filter

Changing your furnace filter regularly is one of the simplest ways to increase both your home furnace efficiency and air quality. The process is actually quick and easy, but there are also some important rules to follow. Check out some of our tips for a safe and trouble-free replacement below:

1. Turn your furnace off.

  • Look for a switch connecting to your furnace and switch it to the ‘Off’ position to ensure that the furnace won’t turn on during the filter replacement

    • If your furnace kicks on while there’s no filter inside, dust and debris can be sucked inside your furnace and cake up the underside of your AC coil which will cause big problems!

2. Remove old filter.

  • Once you remove the old filter, you’ll see a lot of dust covering it which is a good sign that it was ready to be changed

  • If you haven’t already purchased a new filter, check the side of your old filter to determine what size it is, so you can buy a matching one

    • If you don’t have a new filter readily available, re-insert that filter so your furnace isn’t without one

    • Do Not turn on your furnace without a filter placed inside

  • If you have already purchased a new filter, skip to Step #4

3. Purchase a new filter.

4. Replace the old filter.

  • Once you have the new filter, go ahead and remove the old filter again (with the furnace off)

  • You’ll notice an arrow on one of the sides of the filter that’s labeled “Air Flow”, make sure this arrow is pointing in the direction of your furnace

  • Insert the filter into the filter slot/drawer

  • Make sure to put the slot cover back on

  • If you’re unsure of how to insert the filter, check out this video of Shannon

5. Turn your furnace back on.

  • After you’ve replaced the filter, you are free to turn your furnace back on and enjoy the fresh air!

What if your furnace filter is electronic?

Electronic furnace filters (also known as electronic air purifiers/ionizers) are reusable and efficient alternatives to the average furnace filter. They collect large clumps of dust in the prefilter and collect the smaller dust particles in the electrically charged filter.

Benefits of an electronic air filter

  1. They are reusable:

    • Instead of regularly changing out your old filter, all you need to do is remove your electronic filter and wash it.

  2. More efficient:

    • Up to 99% of dust particles are stopped from recirculating throughout your home.

  3. They help with allergies:

    • Since more fine particles are trapped, less bacteria, mold and other allergens are in the air you breathe which is important because these particles can often lead to illness.

If you have an electronic air filter, here is a guide to cleaning it.

If you don’t feel like constantly picking up new filters, we have options that include furnace filter delivery starting at just $14.99 per month.