HVAC System Summer Preparation Tips

Prepare-HVAC-for-Summer

Prepare for a hot summer with a tuned-up HVAC system. Your heating, ventilation and air conditioning, or HVAC, system is designed to provide comfortable interior temperatures year round. Without routine maintenance, your system may be costing more in monthly utility bills or operating inefficiently. Learn more about hvac system summer preparation tips and how to receive professional training at a HVAC program near you.

What Is an HVAC System?

There are many components that work together to create comfortable indoor temperatures. Your home uses one or more of these systems to adjust the temperature and purify the air of your home:

  • Furnace
  • Ductwork
  • Thermostat
  • Central AC system
  • Window AC unit
  • Ductless air conditioner

Many homes are equipped with a central AC system or a ductless system. These systems come with a SEER rating to describe the energy efficiency of the unit. A qualified AC technician can inspect a system and determine whether it needs maintenance, repairs or if you should consider replacing your unit.

HVAC System Works

How Can I Prepare an HVAC System for the Summer?

Prepare for a summer in Chicago by following these maintenance steps and considering an HVAC upgrade. Be sure to inspect your air conditioner before summer starts to avoid causing additional damage to your unit or to spend days or weeks without cool air.

Summer is also a great time to inspect your furnace. After you turn off your furnace for the last time, inspect it to see if there are any signs of damage or needed maintenance. Summer is a great time to repair your furnace and have it ready for a chilly fall.

  1. Check the Filter

    The most common summer maintenance task is to check your HVAC filter. Window AC units have their own filters and central AC systems use the same blower and filter as your furnace. Most filters need to be replaced every three months, but check the manufacturer’s recommendations before replacing. Choose a quality filter to improve your indoor air quality this summer.

  2. Clear the Area

    Outdoor units can become clogged with leaves, branches and other debris. Check your air conditioner before turning it on for the summer. Use caution when clearing any brush and try to have at least two feet clear around your AC unit.

  3. Clean Out Vents

    Air ducts are an efficient way to spread cool, comfortable air throughout your home in Chicago. Unfortunately, they are also prone to clogging. Professional cleaning services can remove dust, debris and mold that may be residing in your ductwork. This will increase the energy efficiency of your AC system this summer and dramatically improve your indoor air quality.

What Are Common HVAC Upgrades?

Look for signs that you need an update as you check your system. An older AC may still be operating, but it could be increasing your monthly energy bill. A local trade school has more information on the state-of-the-art HVAC features available for your home.

1. Window Treatments

An affordable and low-tech option for upgrading the efficiency of your system is using new window treatments. Curtains, blinds and drapes not only provide privacy but also reduce the amount of heat that penetrates your windows. This is particularly important if your home has large windows.

2. Modern Thermostats

The latest thermostat options allow you to program your system and adjust features from your smartphone. A programmable, smart thermostat can dramatically reduce your costs and offer more personalized comfort. Compare the latest thermostat options to find out how you can tailor your home to match your lifestyle. A thermostat requires professional training to safely install, so be sure you have the proper training before tackling this upgrade.

3. New Fans

Modern ceiling fans are far more energy efficient and quiet than older models. If you’re tired of a loud, slow fan or you need to add fans to increase air flow, professional HVAC training can help you determine the best placement of new fans.

What Are the Signs I Need HVAC Repairs?

Some systems just need a tune up. If you have a damaged air conditioner or other component in your HVAC system, essential repairs can improve the convenience and cost of your system. At Coyne College, you can learn more about how to diagnose these signs and repair your system.

1. Inefficient Operation
Is your AC blowing hot air? An inefficient AC unit may need to be recharged or repaired. A refrigerant leak or a condenser coil issue can affect the temperature of the air blowing through your system. A skilled technician can inspect the condenser, filter, blower and ductwork to find the cause of the inefficient operation and make any necessary repairs.

2. Costly Energy Bill
A clogged air filter or refrigerant leak can result in inefficient operations. This causes your blower to blow for longer to achieve the same results. Don’t let a simple repair issue increase your monthly bill and decrease the lifespan of your blower.

3. Annual Maintenance
Most air conditioning systems should be maintained every year. A professional cleaning, inspection and sealing service offers great results and keeps your system going. This service requires a trained technician, so it’s important to receive professional training before maintaining your air conditioner.

hvac-repair-checklist

Where Can I Learn More About HVAC Systems?

Ready for an exciting new career or a jumpstart on your HVAC career? Receive quality HVAC training at Coyne College in Chicago to learn all the skills you need to become a professional HVAC technician. Learn more about our program or call us at 800-720-3990 for more information about our dynamic, hands-on training program.

Furnace Replacement: A Guide for Homeowners

Furnace-Replacement-Guide

To replace your home furnace or not replace it. That is the question that may be on your mind—especially if you haven’t experienced the warmth and comfort level you’re used to. Furnace replacement or your entire HVAC system can be costly, so you must ask: is it time to replace your furnace and/or air conditioning system?

It helps to understand the parts of a gas furnace and what they do. A bit of troubleshooting may help you decide if now is the time to replace or just repair your HVAC system.

What are the parts of a furnace, and what do they do?

Regardless of the type of furnace you have—electric, gas or oil—they all have parts that serve similar functions.

  • Heat Exchanger
    Cold air is heated in the heat exchanger. Because of the dangerously high temperatures, there could be cracks leaking toxic carbon dioxide.
  • Burners and Manifold
    In many residential gas furnaces, a pilot light ignites burners that heat the air in the heat exchanger and then disperses it into the ductwork. Gas burners are connected to the furnace’s gas valve via the manifold. Newer models may offer multi-stage burners (modulating burners) that deliver different amounts of heat depending on the demand.
  • Blower Motor
    This is what actually pushes or cycles the air from the furnace into the ductwork. With a variable-speed blower, you can adjust the fan speed using furnace controls, but keep in mind that some blowers need to be lubricated annually.
  • Air Filtration
    All furnaces need something to reduce bad particles and filter them before they are circulated into main living spaces. If you fit your furnace with an electrostatic filter that traps particles through an electrical charge or install a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate-arresting) filter, you can reduce the amount of dust that blows through the system.
  • Venting
    You don’t want byproduct gasses to stay inside your home; breathing them could be deadly. Venting pipes that go from the furnace to outside can eliminate this danger. However, you should regularly inspect the pipes to avoid leaks.

How do I know if it’s time to my furnace?

If it stops working completely, you know the answer. If not, ask yourself some questions. Does it heat effectively? Does it turn off and on irregularly? Do you make frequent repairs on it? Is it noisy or produce a foul odor? Do you notice you or your family members are having frequent respiratory issues? Are your energy bills going up? If your furnace is more than 12-15 years old or if you’re experiencing any of these issues, it may be time to bite the bullet and replace your furnace.

What kind of furnace should I buy?

Before you buy anything, you should consider getting a home assessment. Hire a reliable contractor to come to your home and assess the situation.

  • The contractor will check your home’s square footage, age, windows and insulation to determine the furnace size and capacity your need.
  • He or she will also look for leaks or damage in the ductwork.
  • The contractor will also suggest what might improve your comfort level and air quality.

Once you get recommendations and know what’s best for your home, you can go shopping for a new furnace. If you are trying to avoid buying a new furnace—which costs, on average, $2,500-$7,150—make sure to have an HVAC technician regularly maintain and diagnose it for issues.

Home's Footage
The contractor will check your home’s square footage, age, windows and insulation to determine the furnace size and capacity your need.
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Damage Check
He or she will also look for leaks or damage in the ductwork.
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Contractor Suggestion
The contractor will also suggest what might improve your comfort level and air quality
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What are the features and benefits of today’s furnaces?

Above all, you’re going to want your furnace to work well for you while keeping operation costs down. The best furnaces today are energy efficient and abide by industry regulations. One that is energy efficient makes it easier to reduce your home’s energy use, saves you money and offers better safety controls and sensors. It doesn’t even require a chimney! These are some things to look for in a new gas furnace:

  • High AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency) rating
    The higher the AFUE percentage, the more efficient the furnace. The minimum requirement today is 80 percent, but the most efficient models have ratings of 90-98 percent. Although they may have a higher upfront cost, they can save you more long term. Another plus is that many are eligible for rebates.
  • Multi-stage burners
    These modulating burners can be adjusted electronically to provide warmth at any given time. They also deliver different levels of heat depending on your personal requirements.
  • Programmable thermostats
    A programmable thermostat lets you adjust the temperature in your house based on your daily schedule. If you also add smart controls that can be operated remotely from your smart phone, they can monitor the outdoor temperature, humidity levels and system efficiency.
  • Multi-speed or variable blower motor
    Customize your comfort level with the force air goes through your house.
  • Electrical ignition system
    You can save energy with an electrical Hot Surface Ignition (HSI) system rather than the old-fashioned pilot light ignition.
  • Warranties
    Most quality furnaces come with warranties that can cover manufacturer parts and labor, heat exchanger and contractor parts and labor. Some even offer an optional extended service agreement.
Are there any enhancements I can request?

Several enhancements can help your furnace’s efficiency and increase your comfort.

  1. Air cleaners (stand alone or affixable to your HVAC system) to improve air quality
  2. Zoning systems that offer more precise control over different areas of your home
  3. Humidifiers (sand alone or affixable) to add moisture that can help with dry winter air
  4. UV lighting to help clean air as it moves through the system, eliminating bacteria.

Does HVAC sound like something you’d like to do? Consider enrolling in HVAC programs at Coyne College. Do you have a job during the day? Enroll in evening HVAC programs at Coyne College Chicago. Depending on your needs, choose between day and night courses to become an HVAC technician in as few as 42 weeks.

Types of Furnaces: Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning

types-of-hvac-furnace

A furnace heats the air that is circulated by your home’s Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system. A thermostat has a direct link to a furnace so that changes in the thermostat will immediately trigger a furnace to turn on or off. When considering a replacement or upgrade for your home’s (HVAC) system, the type of furnace that will be best for your home depends on the way your house is shaped and designed. That is why it is beneficial to know the four different types of furnaces and to understand the features of each one.

Keep These Things in Mind

As you start your search for a furnace, be mindful of come of the features of your home that will limit or necessitate certain options. Is your climate dry or humid? Do you experience cold and icy winters or relatively mild ones? You may also need to consult a professional to determine what level of heat you need to generate to properly warm your home. You need to be able to know the amount of British Thermal Units (BTUs) that you require a furnace to produce.

Propane Furnace

Propane furnaces are used in about 10% of households in the U.S. As a byproduct of the production of gas and oil, propane can be just as effective as any other natural gas. The downside to these furnaces is that you have to change the propane tank every so often. However, in some areas, oil and gas are not easily accessible. If your home does not have a natural gas pipeline, then you will probably be looking at propane furnaces.

Electric Furnace

Electric furnaces use an electric heating element to transfer heat to the air that cycles through them. They are less efficient than natural gas furnaces, but they have the advantage of being smaller, allowing them to fit into more compact spaces. They tend to rack up more costs on your energy bill, but they end up being cheaper than most natural gas furnaces.

Again, if you do not have a source of natural gas connected to your house, and you don’t want to haul propane tanks around, an electric furnace could be a good option for you. Your decision may also ride on the cost of electricity in your area.

One advantage of electric furnaces is that they can last as much as ten years longer than gas or oil furnaces. If you are doing the installation yourself, you will also find that an electric furnace is easier to install. Be aware that there can be a safety risk to installing any kind of heating system in your home without the aid of a professional if you are not properly trained yourself.

Electric-Furnace
Oil Furnace

An oil furnace burns oil to produce a heating flame. One of these may be the better option if you are not looking to spend as much money as you would on a natural gas furnace. You can expect to pay approximately 25 percent less on average compared to a natural gas furnace.

Do be aware, however, that natural gas furnaces tend to run more efficiently. An oil furnace will usually run at an efficiency of 80-90 percent. A lot of homes in the northeastern U.S. use oil furnaces.

Furnace

The most widely used heating source in America, natural gas furnaces can be found in about half of all U.S. homes. They do a great job of providing even heating throughout an entire home. Jets of gas are propelled along a burner to make a big directional flame that makes hot air, which is then circulated through the HVAC ducts via fans.

These furnaces are highly effective but can be a bit pricey compared to electric or oil furnaces. The newer gas furnaces can run at up to 98 percent efficiency. Many of the older types of gas furnaces average at about 65 percent efficiency. If you have an old-style natural gas furnace that is not providing enough heat for your home, it may be time for an upgrade. Either way, natural gas furnaces tend to make less of an impact on the utility bill, due to the lower price of gas.

natural-gas-furnace
Modulating Furnace

A modulating furnace combines the efficiency of natural gas with the cost-effectiveness of a cheaper furnace. While these furnaces require a bigger investment upfront, they end up saving you money on your energy bill thanks to their extremely energy-efficient design. In addition, these furnaces have a much more precise heating capability, typically landing within half a degree of the target temperature, compared to the 4-6 degree margin of error found on other types of furnaces. This is made possible by a design which, rather than shutting off and on, modulates a continuous flow of gas that adjusts based on the ratio of the home’s temperature to the temperature on the thermostat.

Become a True Expert

Are you interested in learning more about the ins and outs of the different types of furnaces? If you see yourself advising people on their HVAC systems and installing furnaces in their homes, consider getting an education in Electrical Construction and Maintenance or Electrical Construction and Planning at Coyne College. Our instructors have years of experience in the field and have given many students the tools of success. The HVAC industry has a lot of opportunities, as there will always be a need for people who know how to install and repair these systems. For more information, call our admissions department at 800-720-3990.

Alumni Spotlight: Walter Arzet – HVAC

Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning

Walter Arzet exercised due diligence before deciding to go into the Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning industry. It paid off, though, because he found his true passion – and lifelong career.

Arzet, a 1986 graduate of Coyne College in Chicago, was undecided about what to do after high school. “I talked to people, and I went to the schools: three different schools, three different trades,” he says. “You want to get to the source of why people are doing it or don’t want to do it.” That meant talking to people who were working in the field before enrolling in Coyne’s HVAC program.

Read moreAlumni Spotlight: Walter Arzet – HVAC

Green HVAC Technologies to Consider

Go Green HVAC

HVAC Program
These days, appliances are being engineered to be as energy-efficient as possible. Heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration appliances are no exception. New energy-saving appliances have benefits for everyone. Certain areas offer tax incentives to consumers who go green with new appliances, and many have legislation in place to reduce the emissions of HVAC-R systems below a certain threshold in the coming years. If you’re considering upgrading one of your HVAC-R components in the near future, here are a few options of green HVAC you will want to consider in order to save both your money and the environment:

Solar-powered Air Conditioning

Solar power is becoming increasingly more common among commercial and residential buildings. Solar panels on the top of your house harness the sunlight and store it to run your air conditioning. Solar-powered air conditioning can greatly reduce your cooling costs, making them worth the initial investment.

Smart Thermostats

Electronic thermostats have become commonplace in homes across the United States. You have the ability to set a schedule of temperatures and the length of time you want the temperature held for. Smart thermostats take things one step further with the power of the internet. You can control the temperature of your home from anywhere you have an internet connection.

Digital Ceilings

Digital ceilings consist of a series of different sensors designed to adapt to the settings of the room, including the number of people in it. They help save money because they have motion sensors that start the heating and cooling when people enter the room. When no one is in the room, the heat or air conditioning doesn’t need to be on. Digital ceilings also allow for each room-by-room control, as opposed to the whole house being heated.

Geothermal Heat Pumps

Geothermal heat pumps use the earth’s energy to either heat or cool the building. If the building needs to be heated, the machine pumps warmth from the earth’s crust, and if cooling is required, the process is simply reversed, drawing heat out of the building. They are becoming more common in homes.

Ice-powered Air Conditioning

Ice-powered air conditioners offer another option for reducing the amount of energy you use to cool your home. Using a battery that features coils that turn water into a block of ice, the ice-powered machine requires less energy than normal air conditioners. Ice-powered units can reduce cooling costs by up to 40 percent.

Radiant Floor Heating

This means of heating uses either electrical wires or tubes that fill with hot water to heat the room. The wires or tubes are located beneath the floor, which is effective because they are out of sight and the heat generated by it rises. It is yet another way to reduce heating costs and is readily available to be installed.
If you would like to learn more about HVAC systems, you should consider enrolling in an HVAC program to earn your credentials. Among the HVAC programs in Chicago, there is no better place than Coyne College.

Start Your HVAC-R Career at Coyne College

HVAC Program Coyne CollegeCoyne College is one of the premier trade schools in Chicago. Coyne is proud to maintain this status by thoroughly training aspiring HVAC-R technicians in its diploma program in the skilled trade.
Coyne College offers its HVAC-R program during both the day and at night to accommodate your busy schedule. The program can be completed in as little as 42 weeks and is offered at the Coyne College campus, located in the heart of the Chicago Loop at the intersection of State and Madison.
Coyne College’s HVAC-R program will prepare you to perform the essential functions of an HVAC-R technician, such as installing, maintaining and repairing HVAC-R systems in a multitude of settings. In Coyne College’s HVAC-R program, you will gain the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed in the HVAC-R profession. Some of the required courses in the program’s curriculum include:

  • Gas Heating
  • Commercial Controls and Applications
  • Troubleshooting Systems and Installation
  • Air Conditioning, Electric Heat and Heat Pumps
  • And more!

Go Green HVAC - CoyneCollege.eduOver the course of the program, you will become well versed in the intricacies of HVAC-R by learning from experienced instructors who have significant experience in the field.
At the end of the HVAC-R program and with your diploma in hand, you will be ready to enter the workforce as an HVAC-R technician.
Coyne College is dedicated to helping its students find gainful employment following the completion of their respective programs. To that end, Coyne offers a wealth of career services and job placement help for its students, including networking and resume advice.
With more than 110 years of experience in helping aspiring skilled trade professionals become competent members of the labor force, Coyne College has a well-developed network of resources to help students gain employment at the conclusion of their training programs.
At Coyne College, HVAC-R students receive a quality education that provides them with the tools to succeed as a technician in the ever-growing workforce.
Schedule a tour or get started in this exciting skilled trade of HVAC-R today by visiting https://www.coynecollege.edu/.