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Certification is an important requirement for the employees of many industries. However, in the heating and cooling, HVAC, industry, having the right certifications are especially important due to safety concerns. This is why Donmar Heating and Cooling requires its technicians working on Arlington HVAC units to have the best certification available, which is the NATE certification.
NATE, which stands for North American Technician Excellence, was created in 1997. Nate is a not-for-profit organization nationally recognized as being the highest standard in the HVAC industry. Most other certification programs benefit financially from certifying and approving technicians, but NATE is not looking to make a profit. NATE is dedicated to providing the best training and education possible, not just earning more money. This dedication to superior training is one of the reasons we employ only NATE certified technicians to work on Fairfax HVAC units.
NATE certification is supported by many other organizations in the HVAC industry. Organizations such as the Air Conditioning Contractors of America, the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society, the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning National Association and the Sheet Metal Workers International Association are supporters NATE certification. The backing of these organizations makes it vital that any technician working on Bethesda HVAC units have a NATE certification.
One unique feature of NATE certification is that its certification basics are specially designed to strengthen the everyday working knowledge of HVAC technicians in their main areas of work. Because we have technicians trained and certified in a variety of areas, we can send the best qualified technician to work on your particular HVAC system.
For the core NATE exam, the technician seeking certification can pick either installation or service. The chosen test covers safety, tools, basic science, temperature and humidity, and electricity.
Specialty exams are also available that focus on installation or service and cover areas such as air conditioning, air distribution, heat pumps, gas or oil heating, oil or gas hydraulics, and light commercial or commercial refrigeration.
Once a technician passes the NATE core and specialty tests, their NATE certification is good for five years. A NATE certified technician is required to retake the exam in order to maintain the NATE certification. NATE requires certified technicians to retake the test to ensure that he or she has a current understanding of the latest technological advancements and safety procedures. Our NATE certified technicians are dedicated to keeping up with HVAC advancements and improvements so that they can provide safe and efficient service for Silver Spring HVAC needs.
Of course the easiest way to improve the indoor air quality in your home is to open up your windows to allow fresh air in and for extra ventilation. Unfortunately, this isn’t an ideal option for the cold winter months, when it’s difficult enough for your Arlington HVAC to keep your home warm while your house is closed up. Many new homes are now being constructed with air quality and improved ventilation and air flow for health and efficiency reasons. But many homes built within the last 20 years have been built as air tight as possible to maximize furnace efficiency and minimize loss of heat, while this is great for energy bills and maintaining a comfortable temperature in your home, it results in dirty, pollutant filled air being locked inside for months at a time. However, you can dramatically improve your air quality by following the eliminate, isolate, and ventilate guidelines.
- Eliminate – remove or reduce the amount of unnecessary chemicals and other pollutants in and around your home
- Isolate – separate chemicals and pollutants that can’t be eliminated by keeping them away from your living spaces
- Ventilate – ventilate your home as much as possible to reduce moisture and pollutant levels
You probably aren’t aware of just how many things in your home emit potentially harmful chemicals. Everything from the paint on your walls and ceilings to the carpeting on your floors plus your household cleaning supplies, emit some kind of potentially harmful chemical. With proper ventilation and air flow, these chemical levels aren’t high enough to be a serious health risk, however, during the winter when there’s less ventilation, these emissions can accumulate to dangerous levels.
One of the best ways to eliminate or reduce the amount of harmful chemicals in your home is to replace them with healthier “green” alternatives. If you search the web you can even find ways to use natural products like vegetable oils, citrus fruits, vinegar, baking soda, and peroxide instead of chemical cleaning products. If you can afford it, it’s possible to also switch to low- or no-VOC paints and chemical free carpeting, fabrics, and furniture.
Of course, it may not be possible to remove every possible source of chemical emissions. This is especially true if you use gas due to the exhaust from gas-burning appliances, such as your furnace, hot water heater, and range. When gas burning appliances are in use, they emit carbon monoxide, which is normally vented out of the home through vents, but only if the vents are working correctly. If you have gas burning appliances, have these appliances checked with a certified Fairfax HVAC repair company twice a year, so you can rest assured that they are running safely at all times.
Another nearly unavoidable source is radon. Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that emanates from the ground all over the world, in varying degrees. Radon gas is actually the number two cause of lung cancer in the U.S. after smoking. You should have your home tested for Radon emissions. If potentially dangerous levels are found, you’ll need to have a special ventilation system installed to continuously vent air out above your house.
Improving ventilation is a bit more complicated. To achieve the best indoor air quality possible, it’s suggested that you install a mechanical ventilation system in your home. Mechanical ventilation systems use electric fans to circulate air and vent it outside continuously. These ventilation systems can drastically improve your indoor air quality without compromising your Silver Spring home’s heating efficiency.
As we head into fall and the time to start using your furnace, you should consider your winter maintenance and upkeep for your Arlington furnace. Like the summer months, winter is a time when your Fairfax HVAC system is going to be moving high amounts of air through your ducts and into your home. During the cold winter months, people spend considerably more time indoors than they do during warmer months. All of these factors can lead to very poor indoor air quality.
During the months that your furnace sees regular, constant use, changing your furnace filters regularly is going to be extremely important in relation to maintaining safe and healthy air quality in your home. People often ask us, “Just how often should air filters be replaced?”
Since you’re going to be using your HVAC system almost constantly and staying inside and warm, for the most part, it’s important that you at least inspect your air filters at least once a month and change them no more than every three months. However, it is not unusual during heavy usage for your air vents to need to be changed more frequently, even as often as once a month.
Why would I need to change the filters so often?
Although air filters are not complicated pieces of equipment, air filters can actually have a major effect on not only quality and cleanliness of the air you’re breathing inside, but also on the how well your Alexandria HVAC operates during peak usage.
As your air filter collects various bits of dust, pet dander, pollen, etc., it naturally gets dirty and clogged. Over time, the dirt and dust builds up and makes it more and more difficult for air to pass easily through. This results in the blower having to work harder. The harder it has to work, the higher your energy bill. In addition, the longer it has to work so hard, it will eventually cause the blower motor to overheat and burn out resulting in the need for emergency Fairfax heating repair. Aside from being hard on the blower motor, any significant reduction in airflow means that it will take longer to heat your home, which will also add to your energy bill.
Checking and changing your Bethesda HVAC filters regularly, is the best thing you can do to ensure safe and efficient furnace operation all winter long and for many more winters. This is a simple and easy way to ensure high indoor air quality and make sure your Ashburn HVAC runs properly. If you’re unsure of how to check and replace the filters, call us for regularly scheduled maintenance and HVAC repair.
When shopping for a programmable thermostat to help with your Alexandria heating and cooling needs in your home, it’s important to find one that will not only fit within your personal budget, but also one that’s easy for you to understand and to use. If you purchase new thermostat that is difficult to program, you won’t be getting the most use out of it, which will result in a poor return on investment. You’ll also want to make sure that it’s easy to install or that you have a professional Fairfax heating and cooling company install it for you. Also make sure the features you need or want for easy and efficient temperature adjustments are available in the unit.
Here are a few other tips that can help you choose the best programmable thermostat for your Arlington heating and cooling needs, allowing you to get the most for your money and maximize your return on investment through increased energy efficiency.
Selecting programming capabilities is one of the first things you should consider. Programmable thermostats basically have three options: the seven-day model, the 5-1-1 model, and the 5-2 model. The seven-day model allows you to choose a different setting for each day of the week, which is ideal for people with variable schedules. The 5-1-1 model allows you to choose one weekday settings and two weekend settings. The 5-2 model has one setting for weekdays and one setting for weekends, which is great for people who know they will be home during the weekend and want their Bethesda heating and cooling needs automatically adjusted for maximum comfort.
Next you’ll want to consider the programming features available, such as the type of display and phone or Internet programming options. Popular and easy to use models include digital displays, backlit screens for visibility day or night, and a touch-screen interface. Phone or Internet programming options allow you to adjust the settings when you’re away from home, which can be useful when you’re on vacation or an extended business trip and become aware of a climate change back at home.
Many programmable thermostats have a variety of extra convenience features. A one-touch button is useful to override your regular settings for when you go out of town or just need a temporary change. Reminders to change your air conditioner or heater’s air filter, helps you keep up with valuable and necessary maintenance and upkeep of your Fairfax HVAC systems. Warning lights that let you know when your Arlington HVAC equipment malfunctions can be invaluable in preventing extensive damage or even prevent the risk of electrical fires from malfunctioning equipment.
Using these three tips when shopping for a programmable thermostat can help narrow down your options and help you select the unit that will best help you manage your heating and cooling needs. Then, you can sit back, relax, and let your ne thermostat do all the energy-saving work for you.
For northern Virginia and Maryland homeowners, energy savings are incredibly important considerations. Heating, cooling, and ventilation needs make up the largest part of most homeowners energy bills, some statistics indicate that it can make up 70 percent of your energy bill during peak usage months during the summer and winter. That’s a pretty significant portion of your bill. Here are some energy-saving tips that can help you keep your energy bill down without having to more sacrifice your family’s comfort during peak usage of air conditioning and heating units.
One way to improve energy efficiency is to upgrade your A/C or heater. A new Arlington HVAC system can dramatically decrease your energy bills, as the technology utilized by newly manufactured HVAC systems allow for more efficient temperature and humidity control and need less electricity, saving you money. Many new Fairfax air conditioning systems are designed to use the new more environmentally friendly PURON refrigerant. Many of these new designs qualify for utility rebates which helps offset the initial cost for a brand new unit.
Checking for and sealing duct leaks are another way to increase your energy efficiency and reduce your energy bill. As much as 40 percent of the air found in the average home’s duct system can escape through leaks in the duct system. These losses in air affect the home temperatures and significantly decrease the performance of your Alexandria HVAC systems, which causes your energy bills to rise. A professional Arlington air conditioning repair company can check for duct leaks and other potential problems.
Another way to prevent energy loss is to increase your attic insulation. Improving your attic insulation can result in a substantial return on investment. Insufficient insulation allows for more heat to get inside during the summer and allows more heat to escape during the winter, which causes your Silver Spring HVAC unit to consume more energy to compensate for the loss of appropriate temperatures in the home. Have an expert inspect your insulation and determine if your attic has the appropriate amount of insulation for our area of the country.
Have ventilation systems in place. Attic spaces should also include a ventilation system to get rid of excess moisture and heat. In addition to helping make your home more energy efficient, having proper ventilation will decrease your risk of mold growth in these areas. Solar attic fans are a popular energy saving solution because they use a free source of energy for power, providing multiple benefits at no extra cost to your energy bill whatsoever.
Make upkeep and maintenance of your HVAC units a top priority. Maintaining your Chantilly air conditioning and heating systems are one of the most important things you can do to make sure you get the most efficient use of your equipment as well as the most longevity, which increases your return on investment. Scheduling a preventive maintenance appointment just twice a year is enough to head off any major problems and keep your units running at peak efficiency, when combined with regular maintenance (checking and cleaning fans, replacing filters, etc). By following these energy-saving tips, you can see a noticeable drop in your energy bills without any loss to home comfort.
As we head into the beginning of fall, we’ve had nice comfortable temperatures. But sooner or later, we’ll be seeing cold enough temps for thousands people and families all across northern Virginia and Maryland to start firing up their furnaces or other heating systems. While furnaces are indispensible appliances for Alexandria heating needs during the late fall and winter months, they are also the number one cause of home fires. Many of these fires or potential fires can be avoided by following a few furnace safety tips.
Furnace Safety Tips
- Keep your furnace filters fresh and dust free by either cleaning them or changing them out about once a month.
- When you check your filters, also check your blower motor and fan for excessive dirt and dust accumulation. If they get dirty, turn them off and carefully vacuum them.
- Check your vents regularly. You’ll need to make sure your Fairfax furnace exhaust vent is clear of leaves, sticks, trash, and animal nests. During the winter snows, you’ll need to be sure to check that the roof vents don’t get clogged or closed off from snow or ice accumulation.
- If your Arlington furnace is installed in a utility closet, keep it clean and organized. It’s best if it’s only used to house the furnace unit and not used to store other items, especially combustible or flammable items, such as cardboard boxes, paper, and cleaning products.
- Consider installing a programmable thermostat and/or make sure it is working correctly.
- If you have a gas furnace, make sure your pilot light stays lit at all times, and that it burns properly. It should burn steadily with a blue flame. If the flame flickers or is yellow-orange in color, this indicates that it is not burning completely and could be producing harmful carbon monoxide emissions. Carbon monoxide can be deadly to humans and pets. You should also have a low level carbon monoxide detector for early detection.
Space Heater Safety Tips
Space heaters are a popular way to increase the temperature and comfort of select rooms, instead of increasing the temperature for your whole house. There’s no sense in heating rooms that are not being used or that don’t need the extra heat, such as in the basement or attics. However, they can increase the risk of electrical fires. Reduce the risk of fire, while still meeting your Silver Spring heating needs, by following these fire safety tips when using a space heater.
- Always maintain at least three-feet of space between the space heater and anything that could catch fire or be damaged by the heat including curtains, clothing, furniture, skin, plastic items, etc. Avoid using your space heater to hold other objects, especially flammable objects such as papers or wet items such as drinks.
- Never use an extension cord with a space heater.
- Make sure the space heater’s cord doesn’t get damaged or frayed. If you notice damage, bind securely with electrical tape.
- Regularly check the temperature at the outlet where space heater is plugged in. Neither the cord nor the outlet should feel hot to the touch. If it feels hot, immediately turn the space heater off and unplug the unit, taking care that you don’t get burned in the process. If it’s too hot, wait until it cools off to unplug it. Have your outlet checked out for damage or have it replaced.
- Your space heater should be placed on a flat, level surface, so there’s no danger of it tipping over.
- Before using your space heater in damp, wet areas, such as the bathroom, check to see if it is designed for use in wet or humid areas. Never use a regular space heater in these areas.
- Be sure the space heater is marked with a UL seal. This indicates that it has been certified as being safe to use.
You may also want to have a professional inspection done on your furnace to be sure everything is working correctly and at safe standards. A professional inspection includes checking the flue pipes, blower motors, fan belts, etc. to make sure everything is working safely and effectively.
As September comes to a close, and we head into October, we are heading into the fall season and cooler weather, which is a relief after the summer we’ve had! But before you settle down to spend your weekends inside with sweatshirts and football games or outside raking leaves, make sure you don’t forget to set aside some time to shut down your air conditioner for the winter season! Shutting down your Arlington central air conditioner for the winter doesn’t have to be too complicated, but it’s extremely important, if you want your air conditioner to last through the winter and be ready to work for you come next spring.
Before you start the process of winterizing your Fairfax air conditioner, make sure you turn unit off at the air conditioner disconnect switch for safety. This is usually found in the circuit outside. Just open the lid and flip the switch, then close the switch. Aside from making sure you don’t accidentally electrocute yourself, shutting down the air conditioner accomplishes several important things. First, it prevents against electrical damage to your air conditioner. It also makes sure your AC from can’t accidentally turn on during the winter, which could potentially cause water to get into the unit and freeze or rust internal parts.
Make sure the unit is clean. If necessary, hose it down to get any stuck on dirt and dust off of it. Check for any leaves, twigs, branches, or other debris that could be stuck to the compressor of your Alexandria air conditioner. Make sure to pull all of these out and get rid of them, so that everything is clean and tidy before you put the cover on.
Once the whole unit has been thoroughly checked out and clean, let it sit a few hours to dry out completely. Be sure to recheck that there’s no water left on the compressor that could cause it to rust. After you’ve checked it again for moisture, place a waterproof plastic cover or tarp over the compressor unit of your Silver Spring air conditioner and secure it tightly with bungee cords, so it doesn’t blow away or fall off. It needs to be completely covered so that no new dirt, leaves, trash, or other debris can get into the compressor causing future damages.
Even after you’ve got the AC unit cleaned and covered, it’s a good idea to check it over now and then during the winter months to make sure nothing has gotten into it and to keep it free of snow or ice build ups on top of the unit. The weight of ice and snow can actually damage an Ashburn air conditioner unit if it gets to heavy.
Winterizing your air conditioner is a fairly easy process that can save you money on potential AC repair come the warmer temperatures of spring time.
While it’s still fairly warm outside right now around, and you may not be thinking too much about your furnace just yet, it’s best to get your Arlington heating needs taken care of before they become emergency needs. Now is the best time to shop around, while you can take the time to weigh all of your options and get the most for your money, instead of waiting for your current furnace to break down. And even if your current furnace is still functioning and expected to continue to do so, it may be costing you more money in the long run to hold on to it, if it’s not a high efficiency furnace. So, let’s look at some things to consider when shopping for a new high efficiency furnace.
- Furnace efficiency: This is one of the first things you’ll want to consider for environmental and economic reasons: furnace efficiency ratings, annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE). A high efficiency furnace is better for the environment and saves you money by wasting less of the energy that is used to for your Fairfax heating needs. High efficiency furnace systems usually start at 80 percent AFUE, which means they waste only about 20 percent of the energy that they consume, usually from standby or combustion losses. Older, less efficient furnaces waste twice that amount, which drives up your energy bills dramatically.
- Lifetime cost: Another important consideration is the lifetime costs of your furnace. High efficiency furnaces have features that run more slowly, which result in a longer lifespan. The upfront costs might feel like a hefty investment, but the idea is that you’ll save more in the long run by not having to replace it again soon and by saving you money on your energy bills. In addition, your home should be more comfortable through better heating of your Alexandria home. Just remember that regular maintenance and furnace repair is also needed to get the most out of your high efficiency furnace and to keep it running well for as long as possible.
- Features: High efficiency furnaces use several newer features, such as two stage heating and variable speed air blower motors. These operate at lower speeds throughout the day and automatically adjust the system’s heating output and delivery of air to meet changes in weather conditions, to meet your Bethesda heating needs.
Of course, you still have to stick within your personal budget when making these decisions. But with the expert help and advice from the trained professionals at Donmar Heating & Cooling as well as our financing options, we can help you find a high efficiency furnace upgrade that meets your Silver Spring heating needs.
How to Choose a Contractor
Choosing Heating and Air Conditioning Contractors
Choosing a good contractor to install a new furnace or central air conditioner can be as important as the equipment you choose, because proper installation and maintenance is needed for the equipment to operate safely, reliably, and at maximum efficiency. Here are some suggestions for selecting a contractor, adapted in part from Contracting Business magazine.
If you already know a reputable heating and air conditioning contractor, that is a good place to start. If you don’t, friends and relatives in the area can often give you recommendations.
Most leading residential contractors belong to the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) or the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA). Both sites provide listings of heating, cooling, ventilation and refrigeration contractors in your area. Look for contractors whose technicians are certified by North American Technician Excellence (NATE) and/or partnered with ENERGY STAR.
A well-trained, up-to-date contractor will not try to discourage you from purchasing high-efficiency equipment. Less-qualified companies may not keep their employees current with the latest technology, and therefore they may discourage you from new and better designs.
A good estimator will do a survey of your home and base his or her proposal on a heat-load calculation (or cooling-load calculation for air conditioning).
Many furnaces and central air conditioners are not properly sized for the homes they serve, because of improper sizing years ago and/or energy efficiency improvements to the building since the old equipment was installed. Better contractors will not use your existing equipment to size your new heating or cooling system.
A good estimator should also ask about any heating or cooling problems you have had with your old equipment, and offer understandable explanations or solutions.
Using their heat-load and/or cooling-load calculations, good contractors should be able to estimate the annual operating costs (energy bills) for the equipment they are proposing for your home.
A good company will give you a written bid (or proposal) outlining the equipment to be installed, the work to be done, and the price, including labor costs.
We suggest you get estimates from multiple contractors, but try not to let the lowest price be the main reason for selecting a contractor. Better contractors may charge more, but they probably offer greater value. Be skeptical of extremely low bids; those contractors may not be including all routine services and customary warranties, or they may be trying to unload outdated or unreliable equipment.
Reliable contractors are professional. Their people are prompt and courteous. How a company treats you now reflects how they will treat you if there is a problem. They should have an office or shop facility, and they should not be ashamed to have you visit them. An office or shop is an indication that the company has been in business and intends to remain in business
Is Your Home Air Conditioner Ready for Spring and Summer?
by Statepoint ◊ Mar 16, 2012
Temperatures are on the rise, but that doesn’t mean your energy bill needs to increase, too. There are a number of ways you can keep your home cool and your energy bills in check this season.
Is your air conditioner operating optimally? If you have a central air conditioning system, it’s important to get it checked by an HVAC/R professional. Do some comparison shopping – special deals are easy to come by on seasonal preventative maintenance. Be advised, however, that the expertise of HVAC/R technicians can vary widely.
Though the HVAC/R industry does not require technicians to take mandatory competency tests, you can help ensure a job well done by opting for a technician certified by North American Technician Excellence (NATE), the nation’s largest independent, non-profit certification body for HVAC/R technicians. NATE-certified technicians are qualified to properly install and service equipment, which translates to maximum home comfort and energy savings.
Once you know your air conditioning system is running efficiently, there are several things you can do to keep energy bills to a minimum:
• Keep air conditioner units clear of plants and debris. Obstructing airflow will reduce the unit’s efficiency.
• Raise the thermostat. Each degree saves a percentage off your cooling energy bill.
• Check air filters every couple of weeks and change them at least twice during the season, or as directed by the manufacturer.
• Review last year’s energy bills. If your cooling costs are drastically higher this year, a qualified HVAC/R technician can help diagnose any problems.
Don’t forget, even the most eco-friendly, high-efficiency products and appliances can waste money and energy if they’re not installed, serviced, and maintained properly. By working with certified technicians, homeowners can have confidence that their HVAC/R equipment is delivering on the energy efficiency promised.
When scheduling an air conditioning check-up, be sure to request a NATE-certified technician. To find a qualified local contractor who employs certified technicians, look for the NATE logo or go to HVACRAdvice.com.
By making sure your air conditioning system is operating efficiently and by adopting a few energy-friendly habits, you can maintain a cool home while keeping energy costs down.