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How Often Should You Get HVAC Maintenance?


When the weather is a little too much to bear, most people seek relief from their air conditioning and heating systems. However, as your HVAC unit runs, it can accumulate dirt in areas like the filters or condensing coils, which affects its efficiency. It is therefore essential that you have your unit serviced regularly.

The best time to schedule HVAC maintenance is just before summer or winter. Have the heating system serviced during the fall season and the air conditioner in the spring. HVAC technicians are less likely to be on emergency calls at such periods, and they will be able to service your unit at your convenience.

The technician will fix any form of damage right away to prepare the HVAC system to handle your cooling or heating requirements. Here are the benefits of having a professional perform regular maintenance on your HVAC unit.

1. Improved Comfort

The main reason for installing an HVAC system at home is to maintain comfortable indoor conditions no matter the season. However, malfunctioning HVAC components can hinder your unit from meeting the desired temperature requirement set on the thermostat.

If you ignore regular maintenance, after a while, you might begin to note that some rooms appear chilly during the winter or extremely hot in the summer. Regular maintenance helps your unit distribute warm or cool air evenly. Some simple tasks like cleaning your ductwork or air filter allow steady airflow to eliminate chances of hot or cold spots in your house.

2. You Will Save More Money

It is worth noting that a neglected HVAC unit can work around 20 times harder to produce a similar amount of cooling or heating with a well-maintained system. During maintenance, a technician can unclog any blocked part of the unit that could be restricting airflow. This helps lower the level of stress on your unit’s components, reducing chances of wear and tear.

Regular tune-ups also keep your system in peak operating condition, so it expends less energy, thereby lowering your utility bills. Additionally, it is worth noting that most manufacturers will request maintenance proof if you submit a repair claim under warranty. So, investing in regular maintenance keeps you insured, and you can file your claims with ease since you already have evidence of care. Remember that most HVAC components are relatively expensive, so investing in regular maintenance will save you a lot of money should anything go wrong.

3. Fewer System Breakdowns

It is very frustrating to have a faulty HVAC unit in the middle of the summer or winter. With regular maintenance, you minimize the chances of your system breaking down when you least expect. Tune-ups, therefore, make your unit more reliable to avoid inconveniences.

4. It Extends Your Unit’s Lifespan

If your HVAC runs continually, it gradually begins to wear and may eventually shut down. Yet, when you have a clean, well-repaired, and lubricated unit, the parts move freely, and the unrestricted airflow ensures more years of optimum performance. Keep in mind that the better you maintain your HVAC unit, the longer it will last.

Routine maintenance will prolong your HVAC unit’s operating lifespan and extend the time between replacements. A properly maintained air conditioner can last between 12 and 15 years, while a furnace can operate for up to 20 years. When neglected, you will need to replace some components or the entire unit sooner.

5. It Keeps Your Home Safer

The main reason why you should opt for regular HVAC maintenance is to keep your house and its occupants safe. Routine tune-ups can help uncover some safety issues in your unit that could endanger your family members. For instance, a technician can spot a leak on the heat exchanger that can allow carbon monoxide gas to seep into your house. It is a colorless, odorless gas that can quickly kill, and only experienced personnel can detect it.

The technician can also check for any electrical faults that could otherwise cause hazardous fire outbreaks. If you are away from home during a cold season and your heating system stops working, it can freeze or burst your pipes, causing massive water damage.

If your unit malfunctions in the middle of the hot or cold season, extreme conditions can negatively impact your family members’ health. These conditions mainly affect younger children, the elderly, and people with compromised immunity. When you stick to a regular maintenance plan, one of our technicians will inspect the entire unit to identify and fix potential risks before they pose threats to your family. It also helps prevent any likelihood of floods, fires, or dangerous gas leaks.

6. Maintenance Helps Minimize Expensive Repairs

At one point, most HVAC units will require emergency services, especially during months of hard use. If you fail to clean and lubricate your HVAC system’s moving parts, they can cause a system failure. However, if you perform preventive maintenance at least twice a year, it helps you detect any minor issues before they escalate into major problems.

For instance, if you set your thermostat to a specific setting and the HVAC unit fails to respond, it could be that your thermostat needs new batteries or there is a significant problem within the system. When ignored, such an issue can lead to a pipe freezing and costly flooding that you could have avoided by calling in an experienced technician for repairs.

7. Enhanced Air Quality

Most people think that air pollution mainly happens outdoors due to congestion and industrial emissions, but indoor air is not as clean as we would wish to believe. Though you might not be aware, your house may contain dust, pollen, mold, and pet dander. Therefore, it is essential to have your HVAC unit serviced to improve its ability to filter out as many contaminants as possible. An improperly maintained HVAC unit with dirty filters is more likely to recirculate pollutants into your home. As a result, it might aggravate issues like asthma, chronic respiratory problems, and allergies.

8. You Will Have Peace of Mind

If you have a faulty HVAC unit, you will continuously worry about whether it will run through to the next season. However, if you plan for regular maintenance, it puts your mind at ease, knowing that your unit will operate properly. If you need a replacement, one of our technicians can suggest that you do it in advance before the cold or hot weather arrives. Again, throughout the maintenance process, you will get more familiar with your unit, so you can easily spot problems and call in a professional as soon as they arise.

Summing Up

You must have your HVAC system inspected and serviced at least twice a year just before regular use starts. Some people overlook the need to have tune-ups scheduled for their HVAC unit. Although it might seem like an extra expense, it will help you avoid costly repairs later on. If you need HVAC maintenance services, reach out to Reliable Ducts Heating & Cooling.

We offer various services to help homeowners in Jacksonville and the surrounding areas stay comfortable all year. You can depend on us for duct cleaning, repair, humidity control, UV lighting, and ventilation testing services. We also deal with heating systems and air conditioning installation, repair, and maintenance services. Call our friendly representatives today to schedule an appointment and enjoy our high-quality services.

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How Do You Replace an Air Filter in a Heat Pump?


To help save energy while still keeping your Jacksonville home comfortable, a heat pump makes a great option. Whether you’re just considering a heat pump for your home or you’ve just had a heat pump installed, it’s important to understand how to replace the air filter in your heat pump to ensure that you maintain the heat pump’s efficient operation. Fortunately, the designers of the heat pumps that we install at Reliable Ducts Heating and Cooling make it easy to replace your air filter at regular intervals. To learn more about this process, keep reading this guide on air filters for heat pumps.

How Often to Replace an Air Filter on a Heat Pump

The most important part of air filter replacement is frequency. If you don’t replace your filter often enough, you risk choking your heat pump due to a lack of air being sent through the air return. If you replace your filter too often, you’re simply throwing money away and harming the environment.

To find a healthy balance, it’s important to track your air filter’s progress when you first have a new heat pump installed. Check your filter at least once a week and take a picture of it to document how much dust it has collected. You can then compare these pictures to see how quickly your filter collects dust.

At Reliable Ducts Heating and Cooling, we recommend that you don’t go any longer than 90 days without replacing your home’s air filter. Of course, if your filter becomes saturated before that time, you should replace it sooner. If you aren’t home much or don’t need to operate your heat pump very often due to comfortable temperatures, you may be able to stretch an air filter past the 90-day mark.

How to Replace Your Heat Pump’s Air Filter

Before you replace your air filter, we at Reliable Ducts Heating and Cooling recommend that you make sure that your heat pump is turned off. After all, you don’t want unfiltered air pumping through your heat pump and ductwork.

Once that’s done, the first step in replacing your heat pump’s air filter is locating the air filter within your heat pump. Some heat pumps put the air filter in the air handler, while some put the filter in the return duct. Either way, there’s likely to be a small door that helps keep the filter in place. Open the latches on this door and swing it open.

Reach into the filter compartment and slowly slide the filter out. It’s a good idea to have a plastic trash bag waiting nearby so that you can slide the filter directly into the bag. This helps to keep the dust on the filter instead of allowing it to escape into the air. Replace the filter with a filter of the same size, making sure to orient the filter with the arrows on the filter facing in the direction that air flows through your system. Finally, close the filter compartment door, and then turn your system back on to make sure everything works properly.

How to Know When Your Filter Needs to Be Replaced

Beyond the time intervals mentioned above, there are a few things you should be on the lookout for that could indicate your air filter needs to be replaced.

First and foremost, if your system seems to be struggling to provide enough conditioned air to your home, always check the air filter before calling Reliable Ducts Heating and Cooling. If an air filter is saturated with dust, the lack of airflow could cause your system to work harder for longer to maintain your home’s temperature. If you run your system like this for extended periods, you could cause your system to fail.

Additionally, if you notice extra dust on surfaces in your home, it could be an indication that it’s time to replace your air filter. If there’s too much dust on the filter, any dust that comes into the filter chamber could bounce off the dust that’s already there and settle in your living space instead. To avoid excess dusting, it’s important to keep a clean air filter in place at all times.

How to Choose an Air Filter for Your Heat Pump

If you’ve ever gone shopping for air filters at your local big-box store, you’ve likely been overwhelmed by the number of options available. Fortunately, with these tips from Reliable Ducts Heating and Cooling, you’ll find that choosing an air filter isn’t as complicated as it seems. First, make sure that you choose the correct size. A filter that’s too small won’t effectively trap dust as it flows through your system.

Second, you’ll need to choose the MERV rating of your new filter. MERV stands for minimum efficiency reporting value and is a measure of the size of contaminants that a filter can capture. A filter with a higher MERV rating can capture smaller contaminants. Filters with ratings of five and above are typically sufficient to protect your system and keep the air in your home relatively clean. However, if you have family members with severe allergies, a MERV rating of 12 or above is recommended.

You can also choose between disposable or reusable filters. While reusable filters save money over the long run, disposable filters are much easier to change since you don’t have to clean them.

A Note About Air Purifiers

To help keep your home’s air as clean as possible, you may need more than a standard air filter. Instead, a whole-home air purifier from Reliable Ducts Heating and Cooling may be your best option. An air purifier combines the mechanical filtration offered by an air filter with the exceptional filtering capabilities of activated charcoal and UV light.

Combined, these filters remove a vast majority of the contaminants in your home’s air, including odor-causing substances and certain bacteria. If you find that your air filter becomes saturated quickly and you still have a dusty home, an air purifier may be able to provide some relief.

Other Heat Pump Maintenance

Replacing your air filter at the appropriate intervals is one of the best ways to take care of your heat pump to ensure that it lasts as long as expected. However, there is more that goes into heat pump maintenance than simply replacing the air filter.

Every six months or so, your heat pump needs to be checked by a professional technician from Reliable Ducts Heating and Cooling. The technician will check the refrigerant line for leaks, test all of the electrical components, lubricate any moving parts, and perform a complete system check to ensure that your system is operating properly. Even ground-source heat pumps, which tend to last far longer than air-source heat pumps, need this regular attention to maintain optimal efficiency.

Helping Your Heat Pump Last

At Reliable Ducts Heating and Cooling, we want to come alongside our customers to help them extend the life expectancy of their HVAC equipment. That’s why we offer maintenance and repairs for all types of heat pumps, furnaces, and air conditioners. When it does come time to install new equipment, we can take care of that, as well. Plus, we can install indoor air quality equipment so that you can breathe easily whenever you’re in your home. Our loyal customers consistently reward us with five-star reviews to thank us for our superb service. To learn more about maintaining your heat pump, contact us at Reliable Ducts Heating and Cooling today.

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What Are the Best Options for Heating a Finished Basement?


Whether it’s a game room, a home theater, or simply a space for extra bedrooms, a finished basement can quickly become one of the most valuable rooms in your home. Of course, if your basement is comfortable during Jacksonville’s changing seasons, that makes it even better. To maintain exceptional comfort during Jacksonville winters while achieving low utility costs, it’s important to consider all of your options when it comes to heating your basement. At Reliable Ducts Heating & Cooling, we want you to know that there are a variety of options available.

Radiant Heating

If you have hard-surface floors in your basement, one of the most unique options for heating your basement is radiant heating. Radiant heaters consist of a series of tubes that are filled with warm water. These tubes are laid underneath the flooring surface of the concrete subfloor. When you turn the system on, the water circulates around the tubes, resulting in an even temperature for the entire floor.

This heat then rises or radiates up from the floor to heat the entire room. One advantage of a radiant heating system from Reliable Ducts Heating & Cooling is it keeps your basement at a consistent temperature because it’s meant to be left on longer than a typical HVAC system. Plus, a radiant heating system often uses less energy than a traditional HVAC system, allowing you to save money on utility costs.

Baseboard Heating

Baseboard heating is another option for heating your space. This type of heating is produced near your floor. Although older baseboard heaters were notoriously inefficient and sometimes even dangerous, today’s baseboard heaters are designed to provide maximum heat using minimal energy.

Baseboard heaters are convenient because they don’t require any ductwork to operate. In fact, other than an electrical connection, they don’t require any modifications to your home’s existing structure. Plus, thanks to their efficiency, you don’t need a large baseboard heater, even in a large room. Therefore, baseboard heaters are largely unobtrusive so that you can maintain your decor theme without interruption.

The one drawback of baseboard heaters from Reliable Ducts Heating & Cooling is that they take a while to reach the desired temperature. Once they’re hot, though, they can stay hot for a long time, meaning that you can continue heating your basement without any energy input.

Space Heater

If you have a small area in your basement that you need to heat quickly, it’s hard to beat a space heater. Although a space heater is inefficient because it’s powered by electricity, you typically won’t have to run a space heater for very long to get a room nice and toasty.

Therefore, if you have family members living in the basement who want their room to be a little warmer before they fall asleep, a space heater makes a great option. You can also use a space heater as a transitional heating method to determine the optimal comfort levels for various areas in your basement. This determination will allow you to understand the most efficient heating methods to use in each area.

Ductless System

For a system that can provide both heating and cooling capabilities, a ductless mini-split system is worth considering. The small size and easy installation of ductless systems are two characteristics that make them appealing. Another key feature of ductless systems is their simple operation. Rather than using a complicated thermostat, a ductless system can be controlled using a basic remote control.

The significant air-moving capabilities of a ductless system from Reliable Ducts Heating & Cooling make it ideal for large basements. From a single source, you can heat the entire basement, allowing you to save on the costs of installing multiple smaller systems.

Plus, the heat that’s created by a ductless system is typically more economical than a standard furnace because a ductless system uses a heat pump to generate most of its heat. Thus, you can experience all the benefits of point-source heating in your basement while still saving on utility costs versus a comparable system.

Second System

If you’re like many homeowners, your basement wasn’t finished when you moved into your home. Thus, keeping your basement warm probably wasn’t a major concern for you. Now that you’re using your basement, though, the challenge of heating it efficiently has taken center stage. For many people, this is an ideal time to install a second HVAC system to separately heat and cool this additional space within your home.

Adding a second HVAC system ensures that you can achieve optimal comfort in your basement without over-exerting the HVAC system that you use in the rest of your home. Plus, since the second system from Reliable Ducts Heating & Cooling is devoted exclusively to your basement, you can take the time to properly size this system to provide the correct volume of conditioned air to space. What’s more, modern control interfaces allow you to control this second system from anywhere within your house.

Zoning Controls

In many cases, your home’s existing HVAC system may already have enough capacity to properly heat and cool your basement. The problem, then, is finding a way to efficiently deliver the conditioned air to where it’s needed. Fortunately, zoning controls from Reliable Ducts Heating & Cooling provide a solution to this problem.

Zoning controls work similarly to the hot and cold levers on a sink, as they open and close to allow the right mix of hot and cold air into a certain space to achieve the desired temperature. A thermostat in that specific room can tell the central system when changes need to be made and when the system needs to turn off and on.

With zoning controls in place, you will always be assured of the perfect temperature. Plus, since it makes more efficient use of your existing HVAC system, you will likely find that your utility bills decrease over time.

Fireplace

If you can add a chimney to your home, a fireplace makes a great way to keep your basement warm and add a homey touch to your space. While nothing beats the rustic charm of a wood-burning fireplace, a gas fireplace requires much less work and provides instant on and off heat that is like other types of heating solutions.

For a good compromise between a wood-burning and a gas fireplace, wood-pellet stoves provide a great option. These units use a fan to push warm air throughout the room, making them highly efficient while requiring less work than a traditional wood-burning stove. For an ultra-modern look, you can also opt for an electric fireplace that creates instant heat while projecting simulated flames for added ambiance.

Helping Make Your Home More Inviting

At Reliable Ducts Heating & Cooling our goal is to help make your home more comfortable. If you’re having trouble deciding on a heat source for your finished basement, we can help. Other services we provide include duct cleaning and repairs, UV lighting, humidity control, ventilation, and HVAC installation, repair, and maintenance. We’re available 24/7 for when the unexpected happens. Please give us a call today to schedule an appointment.

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How to Monitor Your Indoor Air Quality


According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Americans spend 90% of their time indoors. In addition, the EPA warns that air pollution is often two to five times more concentrated indoors than outdoors. In fact, without some form of air purification, indoor air quality will always be poorer than outdoor air quality in the same region. For these reasons, the EPA, CDC and other prominent organizations have recognized indoor air pollution as a serious health concern.

Mechanical Ventilation

There are two primary types of ventilation in a home: mechanical and natural. Mechanical ventilation refers to your air handler, ductwork, extractor fans, registers and all the other equipment involved. Modern homes are tightly sealed, which is advantageous when it comes to energy efficiency and cost-effectiveness. However, it can also be problematic if the ventilation system is not introducing fresh air at a high enough rate since air pollution will accumulate. It is therefore advised that you schedule ventilation testing and duct cleaning every three years or so.

Natural Ventilation

Natural ventilation occurs through windows, doorways, cracks in your foundation and so forth. On a comfortable spring day, opening up some windows can be a good thing. But too much unintended natural ventilation is a bad thing. It undermines an otherwise well-functioning mechanical ventilation system, and it can introduce pollen, dust and other unwanted contaminants.

Avoidable Pollutants

Many homeowners unintentionally pollute their indoor air. There are, for instance, many household cleaners that contain toxic materials that are quite bad for your health when used in an indoor space. Chemical deodorizers are another example of a commonly used household product that actually degrades the quality of your indoor air. Houseplants can be a source of indoor air pollution as well if they are overwatered, which leads to mold growth in the soil that then emits mold spores into the air. It is therefore important to vet all of the products and substances you introduce into your home.

Dust Control

Controlling dust is the single most important step you can take to ensuring good indoor air quality. The problem with dust is that it traps pollutants and extends their lifespans by reemitting them over time. It is recommended that you perform a deep dust cleaning of your home once a week and that you spot dust problem areas on a daily basis. Deep dusting should be conducted top to bottom, and then you should vacuum your carpets and floors. Ideally, you should use a HEPA vacuum bag, which will help ensure that dust is trapped rather than redistributed. You should also use floor mats at all entrances to avoid introducing dirt into the home. Mats should be cleaned weekly and discarded annually.

Air Quality Monitor

You should also invest in at least one high-quality indoor air quality monitor, which can provide real-time data on indoor air pollution, humidity and other factors. Some of the best thermostats on the market have such technology integrated. If you own a large home, then you may want multiple monitors installed in various zones. You also have the option of a smart monitor that can use your Wi-Fi network or communicate through an ad-hoc mesh and be expanded throughout the home with sensors.

Humidity Control

It is also important to ensure that humidity inside the home is not too high or too low. The ideal humidity for your home will depend on your region, the season and your preferences. But 30% to 50% is a good rule of thumb according to the Mayo Clinic. Humidity above 60% is problematic because it fosters an environment conducive to mold growth. If the humidity falls below 30%, it requires you to run your heating equipment for longer periods and at higher temperatures, and it can also dry out and irritate your nose, eyes, mouth, throat, lungs and so forth.

Radon Testing

Radon is a naturally occurring gas that presents considerable health risks, and the gas can enter your home by seeping up from the ground. The EPA estimates that radon causes 7.5 times as many residential deaths as house fires annually. Since the presence of radon can develop over time, the EPA recommends having your home tested every two years. However, if you live in a “red zone,” which the EPA refers to as Zone 1, you may want to consider testing on an annual basis.

Air Purification

Without some form of air cleaning, your indoor air can never be less polluted than the air outside your home. You can check air pollution levels online by zip code. If you have good air quality in your neighborhood on a regular basis, then a well-functioning mechanical ventilation system may be all that you need. If, on the other hand, the AQI rating in your area is often at moderate or worse, then it is highly recommended that you invest in a whole-home air purification system.

Professional IAQ Test

You may also want to consider scheduling a professional indoor air quality test. It may be a good idea to schedule an IAQ test as opposed to just radon testing. Professional IAQ tests are extensive and in addition to radon, carbon monoxide and mold can extend to allergens, volatile organic compounds and even your water source. Such testing can also be useful in determining how accurate your monitor is, and depending on your equipment, it may even be possible to have your monitor calibrated.

Replace Filters and Clean Vents

Not replacing HVAC filters is among the most common indoor air quality mistakes. While the purpose of these air intakes and return registers is not indoor air quality, dust that accumulates on them can quickly undermine what is otherwise clean air. Check all filters and vents once a month. Dust the vents, and swap out filters as soon as there is visible discoloration of the filter media.

Pest Control

Pests are much more than a nuisance. They present serious health risks, and many people underestimate just how much mice, cockroaches, ants and so forth can degrade your indoor air quality. If you see any signs of such activity, you should schedule professional pest control as soon as possible. However, be mindful that some pesticides are worse than the pest themselves, so be sure to choose a company that takes the indoor air quality aspect of its trade seriously.

Monitor AQI

AQI stands for air quality index. Even if you live in a county that normally has a green AQI, you will experience bad days where the AQI is moderate or above due to climate changes. Moderate is acceptable for otherwise healthy people. If ever the AQI goes above moderate, it is best to stay inside, rely on your mechanical ventilation and perhaps use an air purifier that you can carry from room to room.

Your IAQ Experts in Jacksonville

Reliable Ducts Heating and Cooling in Jacksonville is proud to serve homeowners throughout Duval County and the surrounding areas. We are a family-owned and -operated business that offers a broad range of indoor air quality services, including ventilation testing, humidity control, UV air purifiers and duct cleaning. Our team also performs heating and cooling installations, maintenance and repairs. We offer maintenance plans and are available around the clock for emergency repairs. Call Reliable Ducts Heating and Cooling today to schedule your appointment.

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