How to Choose an HVAC Contractor

how to choose an hvac contractor

When it comes to choosing an HVAC contractor, you should be as fussy as your child is when you try to persuade them to eat their greens. Your health, energy bill, comfort, and home upkeep depend on it. Learn how to choose an HVAC contractor with this simple checklist:

Initial evaluation

Potential contractors should offer a thorough home evaluation to determine the best heating and cooling solution. There are many factors that could affect the amount of work you need done and the price they’ll end up charging. An HVAC contractor should come to your home to measure it, check to see what kind of insulation you have, and inspect the duct system for leaks or loose segments. If they try to give you an estimate over the phone before they’ve been out to see your home in person, hang up and look elsewhere.

Licensing and experience

Your HVAC system uses some of the most expensive equipment in your home. You’ll want to make sure you hire a contractor who is educated, certified, and experienced in how electrical wiring, refrigerant, combustion systems, and airflow through heating ducts work. In Minnesota, mechanical contractors must have a bond filed and approved by the Department of Labor and Industry and be licensed according to local requirements. You should also check that their work is insured, so that you are protected in case of their injury or accidental damage to your home.

Pricing and quality

Check to see if the companies you are looking into offer rebates and special offers to offset the expense of HVAC equipment and repair. Also, keep in mind that the lowest price is not always the best. You’ll want a company that provides expertise in your equipment manufacturer of choice and correct, professional installation. It may cost you more, but it will save you money in the long run. Make sure they give you a written bid of the work, not a verbal contract. The bid should list everything that needs to be done and the price you can expect.

Referrals and reviews

Ask the company for references and call them. Check out their testimonials, Google reviews, and page on Angie’s list. Ask your friends, family, and neighbors for referrals. You can learn a lot about a company just by examining their reputation.

Contact Heating & Cooling Two for a free estimate. We specialize in energy-efficient Bryant furnaces and offer financing options, countless HVAC accessories, and maintenance packages for your convenience. Learn more about our highly skilled team, our affiliations, and company values. It pays to be fussy and choose a reputable HVAC contractor who cares about you.

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When You Should Get a New Heating System

new heating system

It’s the New Year. The old has passed, the new has come…or it should. If you’ve been hanging on to your old heating system because you don’t want to spend the money to replace it or upgrade, you may want to consider letting it go and moving on. Especially if the following is true:

Your furnace or boiler is 15 years or older

If your furnace or boiler is nearing 15 years old, consider replacing to save up to 20 percent on energy and avoid a breakdown in the middle of winter. Give yourself time to research, purchase the right equipment, and take advantage of money-saving deals.

You’re frequently calling your HVAC technician for repairs

Don’t misunderstand us; the Heating & Cooling team loves hearing from and visiting with our clients. But we also care about your pocketbook and peace of mind. If your heating system keeps breaking down, a new one may save you money in the long run and alleviate the stress you experience every time it stops working.

Your heating bill is higher than normal

If you notice your heating bill is higher than what you’d normally pay in the winter, your system may not be running efficiently. Modern technology provides many options for a more energy efficient system, like radiant heating, geothermal heat pumps, and air source heat pumps.

Your furnace short cycles

If your furnace is too big for your home, it may turn on and off more than it’s supposed to and cause more wear on the system. In addition, a dirty filter may not be letting enough air pass over the heat exchanger, causing the furnace to overheat and turn on and off in short intervals. So first, check your filter to see if it needs to be changed, but if problems persist, you may want to consider replacing it.

There’s a crack in your heat exchanger

Short cycling, old age, or poor maintenance could cause the heat exchanger to crack. Your heat exchanger transfers heat from one fluid (liquid or gas) to another and heats the air that passes through your home. If there’s a crack in the heat exchanger, your furnace could leak carbon monoxide and other flue gases into the household air supply.

You notice excessive accumulation of dust

If you notice your home is accumulating more dust than is normal, your air ducts could have leaks and are pulling particles from the attics and spreading them throughout your home. Sealing them off or insulating them would keep dust out and prevent warm air from leaking into your attic.

Your home is never heated evenly

Newer heating systems can be programmed so they’ll heat only certain zones in the home, a convenient technology called zoned heating. With programmable thermostats, you can easily save money and be more comfortable.

When you call your HVAC technician to inspect your furnace, the last thing you want to hear is that you need to replace your heating system. But it may be your best option. Letting go is never easy; Heating & Cooling Two is here to help. With seasonal maintenance, a heating system kept in good shape can last up to 20 years. Contact us to request maintenance service or for a free estimate.

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A Basic Guide to Replacing Your Furnace Filter

replacing your furnace filter

Do you get angry when you see a higher heating bill? How about when you find out that a simple task like not changing your furnace filter is what is costing you that extra money? It may be an annoying part of home maintenance, but if you don’t change your filter regularly, your furnace could overheat and shut down because it can’t get enough air to cool off. To keep your furnace (and you) from working harder just to heat your home, we’ve provided a basic guide to replacing your furnace filter.

When should you replace your furnace filter?

A dirty furnace filter will affect indoor air quality, so check it about once a month. If you can’t see light through your filter when you hold it up to a lamp, you should replace it. If you have animals, burn candles frequently, open doors and windows often, or smoke in the home, you’ll probably need to change your filter more often.

How to replace your furnace filter

  1. Turn off the furnace.
  2. Locate the filter. Consult your manual if you don’t know where the furnace filter is. Most filters are either
    1. In the blower compartment. To access, remove the furnace cover or lift up the lid to get inside.
    2. In the return air vent, built into the metal ductwork.
  3. Remove the existing filter. Pull on the tab or lip of the filter frame to slide it out. When you pull the old filter out, have a garbage bag on hand and slip it in carefully to avoid scattering dust around.
  4. Note the airflow direction. Your filter will have an arrow indicating which way it should be placed to properly filter the airflow from your ductwork. The direction of the arrow should be pointed toward the furnace fan. Mark this on the exterior of your furnace with a permanent marker. That way, you’ll always know which way to install your new filters.
  5. Determine the filter size. Take a picture of or write down the filter size printed on the cardboard frame. You can also find the size in your furnace manual or use a measuring tape to determine its dimensions: height, width, and thickness. If your filter has an aluminum or plastic frame, it’s reusable, meaning you can clean it with a vacuum and water.
  6. Purchase a filter. You can find them at home stores, hardware stores, or online.
  7. Install the new filter. Look for markings on your new filter that tell you which side should face the furnace to correctly filter air flow, then insert accordingly.
  8. Keep the receipt from your new filter and tape it to the furnace so you know when you’ll need to replace the filter again. Make sure to turn the furnace back on after you’ve replaced the filter.

If you are having trouble, just call us. Our technicians can walk you through the process. Contact Heating & Cooling Two to purchase a new filter or schedule maintenance for your furnace.

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Why You Should Install a Zoned Heating System

zoned heating system

Brushing a bald head is pointless. So is making your furnace heat areas in your home that you don’t use or overheating areas that are already warm enough. You wouldn’t control all the lights in your house with one switch. You don’t turn on every faucet when you start the shower, either. So why control the heat for your entire home with one thermostat? A zoned heating system uses multiple thermostats so you don’t waste the heat your furnace produces.

What is HVAC zoning?

A zoned heating system uses a control panel, thermostats, and dampers to channel your furnace heat to certain rooms so you don’t have to heat the entire house to a certain temperature. These customizable temperature zones are independently controlled, each by their own thermostat. You can even get remote controls that let you adjust the temperature on individual floors or in specific areas without getting up from your living room couch.

How does a zoned heating system work?

Dampers control how much air can pass through the ductwork at a time, completely stop air, or redirect the air to other areas of the home. A control panel opens, closes, and adjusts the dampers based on the temperature you set on the thermostat and the readings of the temperature controllers in each room.

Why should I get a zoned heating system?

Certain areas of your home could be warmer or colder, even when your thermostat is set to automatically adjust the temperature. The upstairs can often be three to seven degrees warmer than downstairs because heat rises. You may want to control the temperature in certain areas of your home depending on the function of each room. A warm, cozy living room. A chill, crisp workout room or office.

Here’s why you may want to install a zoning system:

    • If you and other house occupants passive-aggressively change the thermostat when the other isn’t looking because you can’t agree on a temperature.
    • If you have rooms that you don’t use all the time or that feel stuffy.
    • If you have high ceilings or large windows.
    • If you have a sunroom that overheats.

With adjustable temperatures, you can lower your heating bills, increase your home comfort, and extend the life of your furnace. Heating & Cooling Two can’t give you a new head of hair, but we can install a zoning system for your home so your furnace isn’t as pointless as a bald man’s hairbrush. Contact us for a free estimate.

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9 Heating Questions You Didn’t Even Know to Ask

heating questions

Heating systems are a hot topic right now (no pun intended). Do you feel left out in the cold? We’ve compiled a list of commonly asked heating questions, so you can catch up:

How much does heating cost?

Your heating bill depends on both the size of your home and the weather. During chilly Minnesota winters, the average home’s heating cost is around 200 dollars per month.

What is the life expectancy of a furnace?

Furnaces typically last between 16 and 20 years. But if your furnace requires a lot of maintenance or doesn’t run efficiently, you may want to consider replacing it before it’s reached its maximum life.

Why is regular maintenance important?

Regular maintenance will ensure that your furnace is running efficiently and not wasting energy. Without proper maintenance, such as regular air filter changes, your furnace could be circulating allergens throughout your home. Equipment eventually wears down, and when it does, you’ll want to make sure you address any dangerous leaks or malfunctions that could lead to a fire or carbon monoxide poisoning.

What should I expect during a routine furnace inspection?

Your HVAC technician should inspect the vents and ductwork for leaks or blockages. They’ll check the heat exchanger and belts for any signs of wear, cracks, or corrosion. They’ll remove the blower wheel to clean it and test for a tight seal on the blower access door. In addition to lubricating all the motor’s parts, the technician will check and test all electrical components, including the safety controls, thermostat, burner, and flame sensor. Finally, your technician will check the furnace air filter and replace it if necessary.

What temperature should I set my thermostat to save the most money?

During the day, set your thermostat at 68 degrees. Most people sleep better when it’s cooler at night, so turn the temperature down to around 62 degrees before you crawl into bed.

How often should my heater turn on?

Most systems cycle two or three times per hour. However, if your furnace is constantly turning on and off, it could be shortcycling because the filter needs to be changed or some other component is malfuctioning. A clogged filter prevents your furnace from intaking enough air, causing it to overheat and turn off before it’s run its full cycle.

What should I do if I smell gas?

A gas leak could poison your family or cause an explosion if not detected and addressed properly. If you smell gas, evacuate the house immediately. Don’t use any electrical switches or appliances that use electricity. Do not turn on a flashlight or light a candle. Do not use the phone (including cell phones) or open a window. Go to a neighbor’s house and call 911 immediately. Do not return to the house until you’ve received the all-clear from a technician from your gas company.

What causes heat pumps to freeze?

A heat pump should have an automatic defrost cycle that keeps it from freezing. However, ice may build up on the coils if your filter is clogged, airflow through your ducts is restricted, or your outdoor unit is blocked by leaves, grass, or snow.

What should I do with this information?

Now that you know a bit more about your heating system, contact Heating & Cooling Two to schedule maintenance for your furnace. Our knowledgeable technicians can answer any other questions you have. We offer maintenance packages so you can save money on heating repair.

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Why You Should Use a Home Humidifier in The Winter

home humidifier

If you feel a zap of static electricity every time you touch a lamp, fold your laundry, or brush your hair, chances are, your indoor air is too dry. Humidity can make the summer months feel unbearable, but in the winter, you may want to consider welcoming it back into your home. As the temperature lowers, air density increases and can’t retain as much water. Humidifiers put moisture back into the air so you can live comfortably in the brittle cold winter.

Avoid getting sick and heal more quickly when you do.

Dry air doesn’t just produce static electricity shock; it can aggravate respiratory problems and make the common cold even more uncomfortable. Asthma, bronchitis, and allergies can worsen in dry air, and airborne viruses travel and spread more quickly. Dry air can irritate your eyes and cause nosebleeds as your body struggles to maintain its fluids.
Moisture prevents the movement of germs after they are released into the air and decreases the time viruses survive. When you are sick, humidity can reduce coughing and sneezing and help you heal more quickly. Humidity keeps nasal passages clear, reducing snoring throughout the night so you can sleep better.

Keep your house in tiptop shape.

Humidity helps maintain the physical condition of your home so you can save money on repairs and your heating bill. Dry air damages wood and can cause your doors or wood furniture to crack. Depending on the temperature and humidity levels, wood can expand and contract, loosening joints in furniture and making wood doors hard to shut. Humidity can make the temperature feel warmer, so you can turn down the thermostat and save on heating bills.

How much humidity is too much?

Too much humidity can be unhealthy, too. If your home air is more than 50 percent humidity, mold and mildew could grow on the walls or in your ductwork. Make sure you keep the humidity level between 35 and 45 percent. Some thermostats come with a humidity sensor that automatically adjusts your home humidity.
Don’t live in a home where everything you touch sends a static electric shock through your body. Create an atmosphere where your hair obeys the laws of gravity. Heating & Cooling Two offers whole house humidifiers and humidifier filters to help you maintain optimum humidity levels in your home. Contact us for a free estimate.

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What is HVAC, Anyway? | Heating & Cooling Two Services

What is HVAC

Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what HVAC stands for—or how to pronounce the abbreviation (h-vac). Not many people know how an HVAC system supplies indoor air and maintains the environment inside their home. While it makes sense to leave installation and repair services to professional technicians, understanding the basics of HVAC can help you consider your options and save money.

What is HVAC, anyway?

HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. Nearly every modern home, office, and industrial building has an HVAC system designed to regulate temperature and maintain indoor air quality, using components such as:

  • Furnaces
  • Compressors
  • Heat exchangers
  • Evaporator coils
  • Condensing units
  • Refrigerant lines
  • Air conditioners
  • Whole-home ventilators (fans)
  • Ductwork
  • Vents
  • Thermostats

Heating

Homes can be heated by gas or propane furnaces or water systems with boilers that use gas, oil, or fire. Depending on the system, heat is distributed through the ductwork, vents, or radiators. Some homeowners choose to install radiant floor heat systems as a second heating source.

Ventilation

Ventilation systems use fans, ducts, and vents to circulate the air throughout your home and provide each room with fresh oxygen for safe breathing. You can open your windows to increase air flow naturally, but that’s not an ideal solution in the winter months. Ventilation systems include bathroom and stove exhaust fans that carry out moisture and smoke to prevent mold and mildew growth. Filters, dehumidifiers, and humidifiers also improve the air quality in a home.

Air conditioning

Apart from just a window or wall A/C unit, most homes have a whole-house air conditioning system. Air conditioning can come in two forms: split systems and packaged systems. Split systems use an outdoor and indoor unit to cool the home; packaged systems come in an all-in-one, compact unit.

HVAC tips

Depending on the efficiency of your units, the size of the system in relation to your home, your local climate (in Minnesota, that’s a no-brainer), and how much you use it, the average monthly electric bill in the summer and winter can be well beyond a hundred dollars. Read our tips for an energy efficient home.

Heating & Cooling Two services

An HVAC system uses energy and can break down at unopportune times, leaving you and your family shivering in the winter or uncomfortably warm in the summer. We can take care of any problem your HVAC system circulates your way. We can

You may not know everything about HVAC, but our technicians can service all major brands of HVAC equipment. Schedule service today or contact us to learn more.

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10 Ways to Keep Your House Warm and Save Money

energy-efficient solutions

You don’t have to wear a parka in your home to stay warm and save money. But it might seem like a favorable option when you are looking at that hundred-dollar heating bill in the winter months. Apart from expensive options like replacing your furnace or installing in-floor heat, a variety of energy-efficient solutions can keep your house warmer and decrease your heat bill—so you don’t have to shiver in the drafts of a cold home or wear your winter jacket 24/7.

1.Use your curtains

Invest in heavy drapes and keep them open to let the sun in during the day, closing them only at night. You can even buy them with thermal lining. And don’t just hang them on your windows—use them on your entry doors as well.

2.Keep your radiators and vents clear

Don’t place furniture or other items in front of radiators or vents. It will block the heat from dispersing throughout your home.

3.Lay out some rugs

Floors account for as much as 10 percent of heat loss. Place rugs over your wood and tile floors for insulation. Bonus: rugs will feel cozy and comfortable underneath your bare feet.

4.Shower with the door open

Let all that steam out.

5.Bake and heat

Leave the oven door open when you finish baking. Not only will the (hopefully) pleasant aroma of your food waft throughout your home, but you’ll also heat the kitchen without having to turn up the thermostat.

6.Purchase a draft stopper

A draft stopper looks like a long, thin pillow, and only costs around ten dollars. Place it on the floor in front of your door to keep the cold air from entering underneath.

7.Close off unused rooms

Shut doors and close the vents. Don’t waste money heating rooms that aren’t occupied.

8.Use a space heater

Turn your thermostat down while you are sleeping or not at home. If you plan on hanging out in one room for a while, use a space heater to keep it cozy without having to warm up the rest of the house.

9.Reverse your ceiling fan rotation

Not many people are aware of this feature on their ceiling fans: the little switch on the motor housing allows you to customize your fan for the hot and cold seasons. In the winter, switch the fan to rotate clockwise so it will push cold air upward to mix with the rising heat.

10.Caulk your window frames

Seal off air leaks between the joints in your window frames. Caulking only costs a few dollars and can protect your home from water damage as well.

Follow these ten tips to make sure your monthly heating bill is put to good use. Your winter coat could keep you warm inside, but that’s your heating system’s job. Make sure your units are running efficiently by scheduling a tune-up with our HVAC technicians. Heating & Cooling Two is here to help you stay warm this winter. Contact us today.

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Why is My Furnace…?

furnace problems

Do you have burning questions about your furnace? Maybe you’ve searched the internet for answers and came up short. Look no further! Here are the most common search engine queries—and answers—about furnace problems and heating repair:

Why is my furnace leaking water?

Furnaces use evaporator coils to transfer heat into air ducts throughout your home. Refrigerant within the coils turns into gas, condenses, and releases moisture. The condensation should drain through a condensate line and into a floor drain. If the line is blocked, damaged, or not pitched downward toward a drain, water could leak into the furnace. The floor drain could be clogged with dirt, or the humidifier may be malfunctioning. Schedule repair service right away if you notice water leaking around your furnace.

Why is my furnace freezing up?

Evaporator coils can build up ice as the refrigerant passes through them. Frost or a small layer of ice on outdoor coils is normal; a defrost cycle should address the problem. But built-up ice will insulate the coils and make the issue worse. Freezing could be caused by low refrigerant levels or malfunctioning defrost controls, thermostats, or sensors. Dirt buildup is also a common cause, so regular maintenance is key. If your furnace is completely covered in ice, turn off the system and contact Heating & Cooling Two for help.

Why is my furnace filter black?

Your furnace filter should prevent large pieces of dust from getting into the system and improve the quality of indoor air. A blackened filter, clogged with dust and debris, can create unhealthy indoor conditions.

  • Candle soot – if you burn candles frequently, soot resides in the air and circulates through your HVAC system. Keep candle flames away from vents, fans, and hallways. Don’t burn candles made of petroleum jelly or vegetable oil.
  • Carbon Monoxide – Odorless, invisible carbon monoxide can cause soot to accumulate on a filter. Carbon monoxide can come from a leaky gas fireplace, gas water heater, or the furnace itself.
  • Mold – Condensation on your furnace mixed with the dirt and dust that accumulate on your filter creates a damp environment for mold growth.

Why is my furnace running all the time?

The biggest cause of an overactive furnace is a dirty air filter. A clogged filter restricts airflow and overheats your furnace. The furnace tries to cool itself down by running the fan continuously, or short cycling. Another reason could be that your ductwork is loose or leaking hot air into the attic. Your HVAC technician can change your filter, seal leaks with HVAC tape, and put detached ductwork back together.

Why is my furnace not igniting?

If your furnace makes a clicking noise but does not turn on, your ignition system may be malfunctioning. The flame sensor that opens that gas valve for the burners could be covered in soot, causing the igniter to spark (or click) to no avail. The flame may not be igniting because of an incorrect mixture of gas and air. Your pilot light or ignition sensor may need replacing, or you may have a gas leak. Regardless, you’ll want your heat to work in the cold winters, so contact an HVAC technician right away.

Why is my furnace so loud?

If you hear scraping, banging, or whistling coming from your furnace, it may be a small fix, or one needing immediate repair. The fan bearings, blower wheel, or blower belts could be worn out and need replacement. Rattling could indicate loosened ductwork.

On the other hand, a small explosion, called an ignition roll out, may occur when the furnace starts up. This is caused when gases build up in the combustion chamber and ignite all at once. Problems like these can be dangerous and need immediate attention. Heating & Cooling Two offers emergency service, so contact us today.

Why is my furnace whistling?

Whistling noises can be caused by gaps in the duct or a clogged filter. Your ducts could be too small, and your furnace may need greater air flow. Contact Heating & Cooling Two for a free estimate.

Why is my furnace beeping?

A beeping sound or blinking light on your furnace could signal a condensate blockage or pilot light out. It could be any of the previously mentioned problems, so you should call an HVAC professional to have it inspected.

Heating & Cooling Two can diagnose any problems your HVAC system may be having. Contact us today for a free estimate. A burning question might save your furnace from costly breakdowns.

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Why Should You Schedule A Fall HVAC Tune-Up?

HVAC tune-up

Your HVAC system is needy, so don’t neglect it. Make sure you’re giving it the attention it needs to run efficiently and dependably. Furnace and A/C tune-ups, biannual cleanings, and inspections extend the life of your units. To keep your system running well, we recommend that you schedule HVAC maintenance visits in both early fall and mid-spring. Here’s why:

Better Air Quality

Let’s start with the basics. Your HVAC system pulls air from outside and into your home through the outdoor condenser that holds a central fan. Along with fresh air, the condenser also sucks in dirt, leaves, twigs, grass cuttings, and trash. The condenser unit should be cleaned twice a year to maintain a healthy air flow and indoor air quality.

Cleaner Home

No one likes to dust. Dirt, dander, and dust will accumulate in your home if you don’t change your air filter. The filter is designed to remove allergens, pollen, spores, and airborne particles that could negatively affect your health. A dirty filter prevents your HVAC system from taking in enough air to run efficiently.

Fewer Breakdowns

Avoid costly and inconvenient breakdowns by preparing for the season. Your HVAC system is composed of machines that vibrate as they run. Connections loosen, and wires can disconnect over time.
In a biannual tune-up, your HVAC technician may

  • Tighten connections
  • Adjust refrigerant levels
  • Lubricate motors
  • Replace worn out parts like capacitors and fan blades
  • Flush drain lines

Each of these services will reduce repair and replacement costs over an HVAC system’s lifetime.

Save Energy

If your HVAC system breaks down, you will know. But the problem may not be that your furnace or A/C stops working completely. It could run longer than necessary because of a malfunctioning thermostat, increasing energy costs. An HVAC technician will check how much amperage the compressor is drawing to see if it is running properly. Compressor replacement is expensive, but it may be necessary if you delay tune-ups. To save energy, you also may need to seal leaks in your air ducts and vents.

Safety

The burners in your furnace need to be inspected and cleaned, or they could become a fire hazard . Your technician will check the ductwork, filters, belts, pulleys, controls, and safety devices to make sure they are clean and working properly. Your HVAC system should be checked for carbon monoxide levels, temperatures and pressures, connections, contactors and relays, and emergency shut-offs.

Comfort

Test to see if your thermostat is reading temperatures accurately and communicating with the HVAC system. If it is not starting and stopping as it should, you will waste energy. An impaired HVAC system may not heat or cool your home evenly. As the fall season commences, you’ll want to rest assured that your heating system is providing you with warm air.
Don’t wait until your HVAC system breaks down to schedule repairs. Contact Heating & Cooling Two today to schedule your fall tune-up.

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