Author: NTM

Home Maintenance: Avoiding Furnace Issues With Proactive Care

repair

Turning on the furnace and spending an evening by the fire is one of the most pleasant experiences in the world. However, it’s easy to take the warmth for granted when it’s something you expect. Just as a working furnace can be a dream, a broken one can be a nightmare. Ensuring your winter is as comfortable and uneventful as possible starts by preparing in advance—perhaps even since summertime!

Proactive furnace maintenance is important not only to keep it working well throughout winter but also to prolong its lifespan. Here’s what you need to know about maintaining your furnace with preventive care:

Potential Problems With Your Furnace

Identifying the potential furnace problems you might encounter is wise because if worse comes to worst, you want to know what you’re dealing with. Remember to turn on your furnace every now and then to check whether it’s able to operate normally, even during seasons when it isn’t in regular use. Running a trial and observing the results of it will help you determine whether or not there was a problem. Some of the common issues you’ll run into are:

  • A Lack of Heat Production. The primary ability of a furnace is to help provide heat to your household. If there’s a lack of warmth or a complete absence of it while the furnace is on, your worry is warranted. The problem may be with the thermostat or the heat registers, though some just find a problem with the furnace’s filter. 
  • Unexpected Noise. There are normal sounds that a furnace makes to let you know that it’s working perfectly, but there shouldn’t be any odd sounds like metal grinding, rattling, and tapping. If you happen to start hearing these while the furnace is running, that means the motor of your furnace or another crucial component is in need of an inspection and fix.
  • A Dirty Blower. Among the furnace’s components, the blower is probably one of the most important things to keep clean. A blower clogged with dirt and debris can hinder the heat distribution from the furnace, through the ducts, and around the home. Plus, the buildup of dirt will affect the furnace’s overall performance when the air isn’t circulating right. 

Proactive Furnace Maintenance 

Any of the signs above should warrant the urgent intervention of an HVAC expert. However, smart homeowners schedule proactive inspections to make sure they don’t even have to encounter these issues. 

While your furnace is working flawlessly, there are a couple of ways you can maintain its current condition and prevent repairs. First and foremost, you should be cleaning and changing the filter every three months to avoid the blower from getting clogged. The vents and ducts of the furnace should also be cleaned while that heater is off to help avoid any damage and even improve air quality indoors.

Professional Assistance

A key step in maintaining your furnace would be hiring the help of an HVAC professional. They have knowledge of how exactly a furnace works and are used to carrying out maintenance work such as tending to the unit’s system, motor, and blades. 

Regular maintenance from an expert not only keeps all the components in good condition, but it means any potential issues are spotted before they grow in intensity. Even an annual check-up on your furnace will help you identify issues quicker and work around them, so you don’t have to spend a cold day without the warmth this winter.

Conclusion 

Take care of your furnace by keeping it clean and having an HVAC expert do a round of maintenance to preserve its condition. Issues can arise even when you don’t notice them, so keeping a close eye on them and being vigilant about avoiding dirt buildup is the best way to go.

Even in the summer warmth, consider having an HVAC specialist conduct an inspection so that once winter rolls around, you’ll be able to take refuge in a warm and comfortable home.

Spotted a problem and need furnace repair? Mainline Heating And Air provides dependable heating and AC services to Birmingham and surrounding places to help your home and satisfy customers. Call us at (205) 664-4751!

A Closer Look at Dehumidifiers and Why You Need Them

HVAC on a roof

Nowadays, it isn’t enough to have reliable HVAC systems in your home when you can still experience damp indoor air quality that can affect your family’s level of comfort. If you want high-quality living, it will help to own a dehumidifier, a valuable electrical appliance that controls the amount of humidity present indoors.

Thanks to modern technology, gone are the days where you have to settle for a dehumidifier that makes noise and ends up becoming a distraction instead of a helpful addition to your home. Now, you can find plenty of brands and models offering the appliance at an affordable price while providing great features, including being quieter and more compact.

If you’re still having second thoughts about purchasing a dehumidifier because you already have heating and air cooling systems in place, you can still benefit from the appliance. Keep reading below to find out why dehumidifiers can become your next greatest investment. 

Dehumidifiers Can Minimize Humidity Indoors 

Whether it’s hot or cold outside your home, you don’t have to worry about experiencing extreme weather temperatures inside because you have your heater or AC unit to keep you relaxed. However, when the outdoor air gets inside, you can still feel damp or uncomfortable.

 Not only will the humidity present affect you, but it can change your furniture, things, and your home’s foundation as well. With a dehumidifier in place, it will reduce the chances of experiencing humidity by absorbing the moisture surrounding your space to prevent problems from arising.

Dehumidifiers Can Prevent Mold and Mildew 

When your indoor space is humid, you can expect mold and mildew to grow sooner or later, especially in rooms that retain plenty of moisture, like your bathroom or kitchen. Over time, the germs can impact your property and negatively influence your health too.

It’s not enough to call for heating and cooling repairs to ensure your HVAC system runs properly and stabilizes your indoor air. Having a dehumidifier can support your units and increase the chances of removing any traces of mold and mildew in sight.

Dehumidifiers Can Get Rid of Unpleasant Smells

The unusual odor you notice occurring in your home one day could be due to the mold and mildew growing because of excess moisture. The bacteria produce a stench that fabrics, furniture, and other material often absorb.

 Eventually, the smell causes damage to your house and affects your quality of living as well. When you purchase a humidifier and position it in areas that experience the most humidity, such as your basement, laundry room, and crawl spaces, it will help prevent foul odor.  

Dehumidifiers Can Stop Dust Mites from Spreading 

Failing to maintain the proper upkeep and cleanliness of your home regularly could lead to dust mites, which affects the appearance of your rooms and the good health of your family. You can find them on your beds, curtains, carpets, and other fabrics you use.

Since humans shed skin cells all the time, the dust mites thrive from consuming them, along with other organic waste they find. When you don’t go out of your way to remove dust mites, they could cause allergies. Fortunately, having a dehumidifier can control germs off your property.

Conclusion

While taking care of your heating and cooling system is crucial to acquiring comfortable living conditions, sometimes, it may not be enough to achieve the best results for you and your family. Getting a high-quality dehumidifier is a sound investment that homeowners should look into making. It has plenty of benefits like minimizing humidity indoors, preventing mold and mildew, eliminating unpleasant smells, and stopping the spread of dust mites. 

Are you looking for heating and air conditioning services in Alabaster, AL, for your HVAC system? Mainline Heating and Air delivers heating and cooling products and services to those in need. We offer air conditioners, heat pumps, gas furnaces, humidifiers, generators, and more. Get in touch with us today to request a quote!

AC Maintenance: Is Your AC System Making Pulsating Noises?

air condition

Most air conditioning systems tend to emit a low-sounding hum, even for modern models built for minimal noise. For this reason, many people aren’t usually bothered by the noise their AC system makes.

Over time, AC systems generally degrade in performance, whether due to overuse or system malfunctions. Besides providing poor quality cooling, your AC system can also emit odd noises that significantly differ from its normal operating sounds. Some signs of damage are easier to identify if you can match them with a specific sound.

How Do Professional Technicians Diagnose an AC System?

AC systems can develop different forms of damage over the years. Generally, an AC system breaks down due to the overuse of broken components. This can occur due to your AC system’s software or hardware damage, but software complications aren’t as tricky to handle. Hardware damage can happen to the interior or exterior parts, causing difficulties with the evaporator coil, condenser coil, or expansion valve. Any damage to these parts can lead to severe performance issues, ranging from low refrigerants to leaking ducts.

Professional AC technicians can determine what damage your AC system has by simply listening to the sound it makes. This is because sound can hint at the complications your AC system has. Besides waiting for severe damage to occur, any odd noises will alert an AC technician of the potential problems your AC system has.

What Does a Pulsating Noise Mean for My AC System?

It’s important to identify if your AC system is emitting odd noises both indoors and outdoors. Pulsating noises generally come from your AC system’s outdoor compressor. Although pulsing is a normal noise it emits, you may have an issue if it’s loud enough to be heard from outdoors. This signifies a loose fan blade or coil fan inside your AC system’s motor. This means that you’ll generally need a replacement to prevent any further damage to your AC system.

How Should I Repair My AC System?

Some troubleshooting issues with software concerns are easier to handle. However, attempting to repair an AC system yourself isn’t advisable if it’s a hardware issue. Since you don’t have the proper training to fix its complex parts, you could do more damage instead of fixing the root cause. Additionally, your stop-gap solution could gradually deteriorate over time. This can compromise your AC system much sooner, making it inoperable or unusable.

Since a pulsating sound isn’t loud enough to be heard indoors, you need to check your AC system’s outdoor components regularly. Instead of waiting for the noise to become louder, you can also look for excessive vibrations as a symptom of damage. Although pulsating noises due to loose fan blades or coil fans aren’t severe forms of damage, you’ll still need to contact a professional HVAC company.

Conclusion

Identifying your AC system’s damage is just the first step in getting the proper solution for its needs. This will convince you if it’s better to get repairs or opt for a replacement. Although AC systems can function well for 15 to 20 years before breaking down, it may be better to swap your older unit for a more modern one. Recent releases of AC systems can offer energy-saving features that use less electricity with greater power output. If you think you’re ready to let your old AC system go, you must consult with a professional AC technician for their professional opinion.

After detecting your AC system’s problems, you need to secure help from professional technicians to prevent any further damage. At Mainline Heating & Air, we provide stellar customer service for all your heating and cooling concerns. If you need immediate AC repair in Alabaster, AL, contact us today.

3 Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality for Allergy Relief

It’s here. Pollen season. Not Spring…pollen season. For those who suffer from allergies every year, you try to find relief however you can. At Mainline we want to remind you that you can control your indoor air quality for ultimate relief.

Your air conditioner plays a vital role in the quality of your indoor air, and there are a few things you can do to ensure your AC keeps you as comfortable as possible in your own home.

1. Change Your Filter

This is probably the simplest maintenance task you can regularly perform to ensure your AC stays in good working order. Changing your filter helps to maximize your AC’s efficiency and also helps trap the particles that get inside your home and negatively affect your indoor air quality.

It’s usually best to change your AC filters every three months, at a minimum. If you notice your filters getting dirty earlier, replace them sooner.

Consider using a filter with a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating of at least 8. A high-quality filter will trap tinier particles, further improving your indoor air quality. For those with respiratory issues, a HEPA filter may be a good option. As your AC service experts in Alabaster, AL, Mainline Heating and Cooling will be happy to recommend the ideal filter for your needs if you’re not sure which to choose.

2. Keep Your Unit Clean

Regular maintenance tune-ups and cleaning is another essential AC tip worth remembering. Although it’s best to schedule at least 2 inspections each year (Spring and Fall are good times) with us to ensure your AC remains in good working order, you should also make a point of visually inspecting it yourself from time to time. You want to make sure there aren’t any obvious signs of debris buildup.

If you notice dust or debris accumulating around the outside of the AC unit, go ahead and clean it, because this dust and debris could work its way inside the system if left there. When that happens, the AC could distribute it throughout your home, which is definitely something anyone with allergies wants to avoid. More importantly, remember to clean your vents and registers too. These often neglected areas need to be cleaned regularly, especially during peak pollen season to cut down on the amount of dust and allergens in your home.

3. Upgrade Your HVAC System

Maybe pollen doesn’t affect or bother you as much as mold and other similar allergens- it’s worth noting different types of allergens may accumulate in your home, not just from outdoor sources. You shouldn’t take steps to keep only dust and other particles from affecting your indoor air quality, but you also need to guard against bacteria.

Exposure to bacteria makes virtually anyone uncomfortable to at least some degree. However, those who are allergic to mold and bacteria can experience quite severe reactions if they’re exposed to it.

Bacteria tend to develop in moist environments, so you’ll need to keep the humidity levels in your home relatively low… which is easier said than done here in the South. Use a dehumidifier for rooms or spaces that tend to see a build up moisture, such as a bathroom or basement. Having an efficient AC system will help as well, so that’s another reason maintenance is so important. 

You should be on the lookout for moist or damp areas around your unit when inspecting your AC. If you notice any issues, contact us so that our professionals can determine what might be causing the problem.

Here’s the deal, all this checking, inspecting, and monitoring may seem like a lot of work; there’s an easier solution. To truly keep your home’s humidity levels in the correct range, you can upgrade your HVAC system with a whole-home humidifier that integrates into your ductwork! You’ll be able to have a greater degree of control over your home’s humidity levels. Again, we’d be more than happy to make a recommendation if you’re not sure where to start.

Remember these tips for your AC system if you have allergies. They’ll help you stay comfortable throughout the year. And, if you ever need AC service Mainline Heating and Air Conditioning in Alabaster, AL is here for you! Contact us today with any questions or concerns.

7 Ways to Deal With Low Humidity This Winter

Here in Alabama, we are no stranger to humidity. It’s what makes our summers so unbearable and our snow wet enough to make a snowman (on the rare occasion that we get snow). But in the winter, the natural humidity level drops significantly, making our homes feel less comfortable as the heat blasts through our vents. Increasing the humidity can have many benefits in regards to comfort, health and cleanliness. There are many easy ways to add humidity to your house, so that you can be comfortable in your home all year round. If the discomfort in your home is due to heating issues, contact Mainline Heating and Air Conditioning in Alabaster, AL for your heater repairs. 

The Benefits of Balanced Humidity

A home with a balanced, healthy humidity level can have numerous benefits. The ideal humidity level is about 45% and if your home humidity level stays around that percentage, your living environment will be cleaner, safer, healthier and more comfortable. How do you know what the level is? You can add an indoor weather meter to give you accurate readings of the interior temperature and humidity levels in the home.

The benefits of balanced humidity levels this winter include:

  • Prevention of common illnesses-  Cold and flu viruses are transmitted more easily in dry air. 
  • Prevention of sore throats and headaches; decreased contact lens discomfort.
  • Better control of dust-  An ideal humidity level helps to keep dust, allergens and pollutants out of the air, making the air cleaner and healthier to breathe.
  • Hydrated skin- Many of us suffer from extremely dry hands during the winter, no matter what we do. Increasing the humidity in your home can help prevent the symptoms of dry, irritated skin.
  • Furniture left in better shape: Extremely dry air can be hard on wooden furniture, hardwood floors, pianos, and more. Proper humidity prevents warping or cracking.
  • Reduced electrostatic shocks: Ouch! Getting shocked by almost everything you touch is just plain annoying. Dry winter air makes the ideal conditions for those annoying little shocks we get when we touch certain surfaces. Prevent this by increasing the home’s humidity.

How to Increase Humidity Levels in Your Home

There are many practical ways to add humidity to your house. Here are our favorite easy and creative solutions:

  1. Use a humidifier
    This is the most obvious and perhaps the easiest solution for controlling the house humidity in winter. There are smaller, portable units for small areas like a bedroom. You may even already have one for when someone in your home gets sick. You can also have professionals install a whole-home system. The whole-home option is more efficient at ensuring an exact humidity level to keep you comfortable and healthy.  This is your best option for the ultimate in humidity control. 
  2. Add some houseplants
    They help purify the air and add to the humidity level while adding to the decor and ambiance of your home. Properly watered plants will release vapor from the leaves and stems into the air. Palms, philodendrons and Chinese evergreens may be the best for humidity control. Tropicals with large leaves, and plants that do well in dry conditions. 
  3. Boil water and cook using the stovetop
    When you use the stovetop for cooking and boiling water, you’ll release steam into the air while you prepare your food or boil water. Simply using the stovetop more often than the microwave will help improve your home’s humidity level. 
  4. Hang dry your laundry
    Forget the clothes dryer and try hanging up laundry inside for a little while. The moisture will evaporate into the air of your house. You’ll also save on energy costs by reducing your dryer usage.
  5. Use shower steam
    Any time you take a bath or shower, some steam is released into the air. Make the best use of this extra steam by opening the bathroom door, if privacy allows for it, or just keep the door and shower curtain open after you’re done. Don’t use the built-in bathroom fan, as this is designed to suck the excess moisture from the air. 
  6. Let bathwater cool off before draining
    As long as the water from a bath remains warm, it’s contributing moisture to the air. So, let the bathwater sit and cool completely before draining, and you’ll get the benefit of that added moisture. There’s nothing like a hot bath during the cold winter months, and it can even be useful after you’re finished bathing. 
  7. Upgrade doors, windows and weatherstripping
    This not only helps keep in warmth and moisture, but also helps lower your energy costs, so it’s doubly helpful (and helps you get return on your investment). Mitigate this heat and humidity loss by installing newer, more efficient windows and doors. If new doors and windows aren’t in the budget yet, consider using weatherstripping or other means to seal up cracks and keep your warm, moist air inside and the cold, dry air outside.

If you find yourself with heating issues this winter, contact Mainline Heating and Air Conditioning in Alabaster, AL for your heater repairs. While low humidity levels can make the air in your home uncomfortable, going without heat when it’s freezing outside is worse and can even be dangerous. So please call us as soon as you notice that your heat has gone out!

 

Signs You Need Heater Repairs in Birmingham, AL

Central Alabama continues to experience below average temperatures this winter…how’s your heater holding up? We don’t want you to have to deal with a problem at the most inconvenient time- like in the middle of a freezing cold night. Know what to look, smell, listen, and feel for to catch a potential heating problem before it goes out on you. If you notice any of the following signs, give Mainline Heating and Air Conditioning a call so we can diagnose, make the necessary repairs and help prevent a furnace failure.

Here are five of the most common signs you to be aware of:

1. Unusually High Energy Bills

Understandably, this is one of the first signs that indicate a problem. While it’s normal for your electricity or gas bill to be higher when temperatures are cold, the difference shouldn’t be astronomical. Just like how a drastically high water bill is an indication of a water leak, a high energy bill can indicate poor efficiency that can mean your unit needs attention. Similarly, if you also feel as though the heater is turning on much more often than it usually does, this can be a red flag. When the heat runs continuously throughout the day with no (or very few) breaks, the unit will wear down faster and could even overheat. 

2. Your House Doesn’t Stay Warm

If the air still feels chilly in your home regardless of the temperature you’ve set on the thermostat, then you should call us as soon as possible. You and your family need a warm home on these cold winter days and we want to help! Address this problem as soon as you notice it. Our Mainline technicians are standing by and ready to complete heater repairs in and around the Birmingham, AL area.

3. Unusual Noise from Unit or Vents

Heating systems are somewhat noisy by default, but when it’s noisier than usual this could indicate a malfunction. In addition, noises coming out from the vents could also mean that the system isn’t working properly. It will be hard to determine if it’s a minor or major problem just from this observation, but either way, this is a sign that you need to call Mainline and let us figure out what’s going on.

4. Yellow Pilot Light

It’s a good idea to safely take a look at the pilot light of your furnace, and you should do this regularly but especially when your heat isn’t working well. The pilot light should be blue as opposed to yellow (or any other color). If you don’t see a flame, it means your pilot light went out and will need to be reignited, and inspected to see what caused the issue. If the color of the flame isn’t blue, you could have an issue with the efficiency of the furnace, which could potentially affect the air quality inside your home.

5. Uneven Hot and Cold Spots Around the House

Have you noticed that the heat doesn’t seem to work in certain areas of the house, but works totally fine in other spots? If there isn’t a reasonable explanation for this (drafty windows or lack of vents), then this could be a sign of some heater and/or ductwork problems. This is a common problem in many homes, but especially in older homes. Some ductwork may not have been set up properly, while other systems are simply aged and worn down. Old home or not, it’s a good idea to contact us to check the status of your heating and duct system and see what can be done to enhance its efficiency. We want every room in your home to be nice and warm, and that is possible through a few different options.  

Do You Need Heater Repairs?

Your heater won’t perform at peak efficiency if you don’t take care of it.

So now you’re aware of the most common signs that your heater most likely needs repairs. Don’t wait until something’s broken to contact Mainline Heating and Air Conditioning. After a tuneup and/or repairs, you won’t have to wonder if your home’s heating system will be able to cope with the next cold snap. 

 

6 Safety Tips For Heating Your Home This Winter

Central Alabama has already experienced several nights of below freezing temperatures, so you’ve probably (hopefully) already have the heat on. Unfortunately, most home fires in winter are caused by malfunctioning or poorly maintained heaters, and we don’t want that happening to you. Mainline Heating and Air Conditioning can take care of your furnace repairs in order to fix existing problems and prevent dangerous issues. Alternative heating methods like fireplaces and space heaters can also pose risks.  Here’s how you can stay safe and warm this winter:

Have Your Furnace Inspected by Mainline

Having a professional from Mainline Heating and Air Conditioning check your furnace gives you peace-of-mind that your system is running efficiently. We will also ensure that all connections are tight and the system isn’t showing signs of wear. We can repair worn or problematic components in order to keep your furnace running efficiently and safely. Making sure everything is in good working order will save you time and money and may be critical to your family’s safety.

Clear the Areas around Furnace and Vents

Make sure there are no cardboard boxes, newspapers, rags, and other flammable materials near your heating system. Make sure the same is true of your vents. A blocked airway or poorly ventilated furnace can transform an otherwise meaningless spark into a large blaze.

Anything that is flammable should be kept at least three feet away from heating equipment including fireplaces, furnaces, space heaters, and wood stoves.

Clean the Chimney

If you have a fireplace and chimney, you need to have them cleaned once a year. If you haven’t used it in a while, it’s possible a small animal could have built a nest in or on top of your chimney. Creosote can also build up within an uncleaned chimney and cause fires. Have a professional check your chimney before using it for the first time this winter. If you’ve already started using it, it’s not too late to have a professional come check it out. 

Use Caution With Alternative Heating Methods

Just because something is a heat source does not mean you should use it to heat your home. When frigid temps arrive and furnaces give out, some people are tempted to use equipment like ovens to stay warm. This is extremely dangerous and can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning if you have a gas stove. Instead, space heaters or fireplaces are appropriate alternatives if used safely and correctly. 

If you have a heating emergency and need your furnace repaired, contact the heating professionals at Mainline in Alabaster, AL. Please be cautious using alternative methods to heat your home- do not use candles, your oven, or a continuously running hot shower to attempt to warm up the whole house.

Turn Portable Heaters Off When Not In Use

Turn portable space heaters OFF when leaving the room or going to bed. There is no reason to heat a room you’re not in and it’s extremely difficult to recognize a fire hazard while you’re sleeping. The same goes for candles. Never leave either of these items unattended.

Space heaters account for about 80% of home heating fire deaths each year. Using them properly, and turning them off when they’re not being monitored, is critical to not becoming a statistic.

Change Batteries on Your Smoke Detector

The fire department reminds us to change the batteries in our smoke detectors when the time changes twice a year. If you haven’t done so this year, we recommend doing that today, don’t put it off any longer. Using portable and space heaters correctly should help prevent a house fire, but we know things can still happen despite your best effort. If, for whatever reason, a house fire were to start, you and your family need to be alerted as soon as possible. That’s why changing the batteries in your smoke detector and testing it monthly is so important. Maintaining a good alert system is crucial to getting out of the home safely.

If you’d like to ensure your furnace is in good operating order, contact us at Mainline Heating and Air Conditioning today!

Short-Cycling Furnaces and What to Do

Because winter is quickly approaching, you want to ensure your furnace is working properly at keeping your home warm and your family comfortable. If you feel like hardly any heat came from your vents and/or your unit shuts off shortly after firing up, it may be short cycling. Short cycling means that the furnace turns on and off very frequently with little time between on and off. This is a common issue that you may experience with your furnace this time of year. If you start having furnace problems (even if it doesn’t completely go out), go ahead and give us a call at Mainline HVAC in Alabaster, AL, so we can diagnose the problem and complete any furnace repair as soon as possible. We’ve already had some cold weather and are expecting more and we don’t want you to go without heat. Let’s take a look at the what and why of short-cycling– 

Why Does a Furnace Short Cycle? What causes it?   

Common short cycling causes include:

  • Overheating
  • Bad flame sensor
  • Dirty furnace
  • Blocked heat grates/ registers
  • Blocked exhaust vent
  • Thermostat is in the wrong location
  • Furnace is too big for your home

Thankfully, when we take a look at your system, we will be able to figure out which of these is causing the issues. You won’t have to worry about a thing, we’ve got it taken care of.

Overheating

Like most equipment, furnaces have a way to shut off to prevent dangerous overheating and damage. Your furnace may turn off prematurely if it’s overheating, which is a good thing as far as safety goes, but bad for keeping your home warm. An overheating furnace can potentially cause cracks in the heat exchanger, which could cause carbon monoxide to leak into your home. You might be wondering, “Do I have to replace my whole furnace if it’s short cycling?” Not necessarily. There are many reasons a furnace may get overheated and cause short cycling and most don’t require a full replacement. Some of the causes actually require very simple corrections. Here are the most common reasons:

  • Blocked Registers

The registers in your floor, walls, or ceiling likely have a way to close them, allowing you to control which rooms get heat. If too many of these vents are closed your furnace can’t disperse enough heat, so the heat will build up in the furnace, causing it to overheat and shut down. Make sure that most of your registers are open and not being blocked by anything like furniture. If you make these adjustments and your furnace is still acting up, then this was likely not the main cause.

  • Blocked Exhaust Vent

This is a dangerous cause of overheating and short cycling since it can allow carbon monoxide through the vent. The exhaust vent becomes blocked by birds’ nests from birds, beehives, or something else. If you check it out and realize the cause is a nest, it may be best to have animal control or pest control handle the task.

 

  • Dirty Furnace Filter

A dirty filter can cause overheating, kind of like with a clothes dryer. A sign is that you feel hotter than usual air coming out of the registers- seems like hotter air would be nice when you’re trying to heat the house, but it’s actually a sign of overheating. If the furnace gets too hot, the switch will shut it off. A dirty filter in your returns prevents a flow of return air into the furnace, and will quickly overheat. The solution is super simple- change your filters out regularly (several times a year).

Can It Be Something Other Than Overheating?

Yes, sometimes short cycling can be as simple as bad thermostat placement. If your thermostat is getting warmed before the rest of the house, it will cause your furnace to turn off prematurely. This can be due to poor placement like right above a register or on the wall of the utility closet where the furnace is located. If placed here, the thermostat will heat quickly and reach its set point before it should. The solution is easy! Just relocate the thermostat to a location that isn’t near a vent or window.

 

If you read through this and realized it sounds like your current situation, your furnace may be short cycling or overheating. Contact Mainline HVAC for your furnace repair needs in Alabaster, AL and surrounding communities. While it could be something as simple as a thermostat issue, it could also be something more serious, so it’s always best to have our Mainline professionals take a look.

How to Prep Your House for Cold Weather

We’re starting to get a sneak peek of colder weather at night, even though daytime temperatures are still fairly warm…welcome to Alabama, right? As the weather starts the cooling trend, it’s so important to prep your house ahead of time to prevent issues and catch potential problems. The last thing you need is to frantically get things in order the day before a freezing cold night. And you definitely don’t want to be left in the cold if you have a faulty furnace that calls it quits- that’s why we offer furnace tuneups. Here’s easy, helpful list for what needs to be done:

Indoor Water Sources

  • Identify any problem pipes- consider areas that have been problematic in the past
  • Insulate said problem pipes with heat tape or other insulation products.
  • Instruct everyone in your household how to turn off the house’s water source in case you do experience a frozen or busted pipe and need to shut off the water until a plumber can come fix it.

Remember to keep faucets dripping and open the cabinets under your sinks when temperatures are below freezing at night. Put something under the faucet to catch the dripping water to use elsewhere the following day.

Outdoors

  • Disconnect water hoses and drain any leftover water
  • Store garden hoses and other outdoor equipment in a dry location ❏ Cover spigots- can use styrofoam kind or other available options ❏ Have in-ground sprinkler system blown out by professionals

Furnace

  • Call​ Mainline Heating and Air for a furnace tuneup- we’ll check electrical components, pilot or flame sensors, safety controls, as well as inspect and clean the burners
  • Make sure vents are cleaned out and filters are replaced
  • Have furnace ducts sealed if they aren’t already- we can help with duct sealing as well

Remember to have a professional inspect and clean the chimney before use (if you have a wood-burning fireplace). This will help prevent health issues and​ ​hazardous accidents.

Windows and Doors

How to test for drafty doors and windows- light a candle (wick exposed, not the kind in a jar) and hold it in front of the door frame or windowsill. If the flame noticeably flickers, you have a bad seal. That means the quickly arriving cold air will easily be able to seep into your home and cause a higher energy bill.

  • Test door frames and window frames as explained above
  • Add (or replace) weatherstripping- your local hardware store should have several options available and can explain how to install them.
  • Install door sweeps where needed

Join our ​Maintenance Club​ so that you can get biannual tuneups without having to think twice about it. You’ll know with certainty that your furnace will get you through the colder months. We can also provide furnace repairs in Birmingham, AL whenever your system isn’t working properly.

Air Filters 101: What’s the Difference and Which one is Best?

If you’re about to go on a run, are you going to wear soccer cleats? What about wearing cowboy boots for a tennis match? No of course not, that would be ridiculous. Most shoes serve the same general purpose- protecting your feet, but obviously some are fit for specific situations or sports. It’s kind of the same with air filters. They all have a similar purpose- to keep your unit running at peak efficiency and improve air quality in your home. But some filters are better than others at specific tasks like allergen control. Did you know that there are more than seven different kinds of air filters? They’re made of different materials, for different purposes, and they’re not all created equal. Since there are so many different filters to choose from, how are you supposed to know which one you need? Is the kind you currently use the right for your system? Let’s discuss your options, the differences and similarities, and how to narrow down the right filter for your home. 

 

First, it’s important to note that filters are rated using the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV), on a scale of 1 to 16 (16 being the most effective) for how well the filter can trap pollutants that are as small as 0.3 microns and as large as 10 microns. A lower MERV rating means that the filter is more effective at removing large particles- pollen, dust mites, and carpet fibers. A higher MERV rating means it’s better at catching small particles- smoke, bacteria, and viruses. 

 

 

  • Pleated filters

 

Material: polyester or cotton folds 

Uses: filtering dust and airborne pollutants; increased surface area helps trap more. 

Considerations: Puts more strain on the unit because it’s harder for air to filter through. 

MERV rating: between 5-11

 

  • UV light filters

 

Material: shortwave ultraviolet lights

Uses: Kills mold and germs; helps prevent disease and illness 

Considerations: Useless against common pollutants like dust; ineffective against fumes; costly installation

MERV rating:

 

  • HEPA filters

 

Material: uses static electricity

Uses: highest filtering (even bacteria); ideal for people with severe allergies or respiratory illness 

Considerations: May not help with odors or fumes

MERV rating: near 16

 

  • Spun glass filters

 

Material: spun strands of fiberglass; disposable and inexpensive

Uses: Good at filtering lint and dust; one of the least expensive options

Considerations: Doesn’t filter enough to make a noticeable difference in air quality, therefore not recommended for people with respiratory problems; can get clogged

MERV rating: 2-3

 

  • Washable filters

 

Material: differing materials; washable

Uses: Only has to be bought once; environmentally friendly option; durable

Considerations: must be completely dried after washing and before reinserting. 

MERV rating: 3-4

 

  • Electrostatic filters

 

Material: small paper and cotton fibers; can be reusable or disposable

Uses: Can improve air quality in the home; cost-effective

Considerations: Struggles filtering bigger particles like dust. 

MERV rating: 8-11

 

  • Media filters

 

Material: Some are carbon coated

Uses: Low maintenance; cost-effective; have a higher surface area so they’re able to filter more and keep dirt trapped; only has to be replaced one or twice a year.

Consideration: May need to be professionally installed

MERV rating: 11-13

 

So which one is right for your home? It depends on what you’re wanting from a filter, how much you’re willing to spend, and how often you want to mess with it. Media filters are a great, popular “best of both worlds” option. If you or a loved one has severe allergies, you might need to consider something more intense like a combination of HEPA and UV light filters. We want you to breathe in clean, cool air in your home and are ready to help that happen! Keep in mind that air quality checks and air purification solutions are just 2 of the many AC services that Mainline Heating and Air Conditioning offers in the Birmingham, AL area. Contact us today so we can make sure you’re using the air filter that’s best for your unit and your home.