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Save Money by “Zoning” Your Heating and Air Conditioning System

From time to time, homeowners contact us to help address areas inside their home that never seem to get warm enough in winter or cool enough during the summer. Often our technicians will notice simple remedies – such as adjusting dampers in basement ductwork that may have been accidentally closed or recommending a change to furniture placement that may be blocking return air vents back to the furnace.

Recently a homeowner experiencing issues with hot and cold spots in their home followed advice from a self-proclaimed “expert” who’d recommended adding insulation to the home and upgrading to modern, energy-efficient doors and windows. After these measures failed to solve their temperature issues (despite considerable expense), they’d turned to an HVAC company for advice. That company recommended installing a separate heating and air conditioning system for the second floor. The existing system would continue to operate to only handle the heating and cooling of the first floor and basement. The solution’s price tag:  Over $8,000. The homeowner then contacted VENT Heating and Cooling to provide a quote for a second system for comparison.

VENT did not provide a quote for a second furnace and air conditioning system. You might ask “Why?”  The short answer is simple: It wasn’t the right thing to do.

When our representative visited with the homeowner, he was able to perform a complete analysis of the home’s heating and cooling demands, factoring in square footage of each floor, the age and construction type of walls and ceilings, existing furnace input and output BTUs for heating, cooling capacity of the furnace’s blower motor and A/C condenser, and other factors affecting comfort. It was apparent that the 100,000 BTU furnace and the 4-Ton air conditioner condenser were appropriately sized for the home. But as is the case with many 2-story colonial homes, the thermostat that controls the temperature for the entire home was located on the first floor.  If the downstairs was too cool during a winter cold snap, the homeowner would boost the thermostat temperature until the first floor got warm enough. At that point, second floor bedrooms sometimes were so warm the homeowner would have to open windows to cool down. During the summer, a thermostat setting of say 68 degrees was enough to maintain comfort on the first floor, but again second floor bedrooms never really got cool with temperatures that were 10-12 degrees warmer than the first floor. Lowering the thermostat low enough to get the second floor cool would have anyone on the first floor reaching for sweaters and blankets in the middle of summer!

VENT Heating and Cooling’s Solution: Install an electronically controlled, dual-zone control system as an enhancement to the homeowner’s existing HVAC system. With a dual-zone system, downstairs and upstairs environments are separately controlled by separate thermostats for “Zone #1” and “Zone #2”. Each thermostat sends signals to the damper control module to automatically open and close dampers within the ductwork. Thus “Zone 1” and “Zone 2” temperatures can be maintained at comfortable levels without adversely affecting occupants of the other zones. This solution saved the homeowners THOUSANDS of dollars by not having to invest in a whole new HVAC system, and even more money in ongoing annual system maintenance (one system instead of two). The homeowners could not have been more pleased, judging from the feedback we received: “Karl, thank you for solving the comfort issues at our Cleveland home! For years my husband and I have quarreled over the thermostat settings as neither of us could get comfortable if we were in different parts of the house. The Zone Solution works perfectly – I think you’ve actually saved our marriage!”

For further explanation and honest answers, please reach out to VENT Heating & Cooling, LLC, based in Fairview Park and serving all northeastern Ohio. Visit us at: www.venthvac.com or call 440-785-2629

Have a suggestion or question for a future topic for this blog? Send your suggestion to: [email protected] We’ll try to address it in an upcoming blog post.

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Important Heading Safety Tip: Keep the Intake & Exhaust Pipes Free of Snow

During the winter, when snow piles up and drifts up against homes and buildings, it’s extremely important that homeowners with high efficiency furnaces check to be certain that the fresh air intake and exhaust pipes are cleared of any snow. We’re talking about the white plastic (PVC) pipes that come out the side of the home. Blocked intake or exhaust pipes pose a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Even blocked dryer vents can pose a hazard.

During periods of heavy and/or blowing snow, make sure you check these vents frequently to make sure they stay clear.

Carbon Monoxide, known as “CO” (as opposed to Carbon Dioxide known as CO2) is referred to as “The Silent Killer”. Carbon Monoxide is a colorless, odorless, poisonous gas. Accidental exposure to excessive amounts of Carbon Monoxide is responsible for over 350 deaths annually in the United States, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Carbon monoxide is a natural by-product of the combustion process used by any fossil-fuel burning appliances used in the home, including gas furnaces, stoves, hot water heaters and gas or even wood-burning fireplaces. Each of these must be properly vented to avoid excessive CO. Persons exposed to excessive amounts of CO may not even notice any symptoms, but exposure starves the brain of oxygen. The person may feel a headache, or they may simply feel tired and fall asleep. That’s why Carbon Monoxide poisoning is so dangerous.

Every home should be equipped with Carbon Monoxide alarms to provide an early warning of elevated CO levels. They should be placed in a central location outside of the sleeping area and on every level of the home. If the alarm sounds, or if you think you may have CO, you should exit the premises and call 911.

Don’t take chances with “The Silent Killer”.

VENT Heating and Cooling can perform a combustion analysis for your natural gas furnace to be sure that CO levels are safe. Call us for a “Clean & Check” service and request a Combustion Analysis.

For further explanation and honest answers, please reach out to Vent Heating & Cooling, LLC. Serving all of northeastern Ohio.

Call 440-785-2629

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Choosing A Reputable HVAC Contractor

The first question you should ask, is the contractor licensed?   If licensed properly, the contractor will also have insurance and be a legitimate business professional.   Don’t be fooled though, because no proof is required to take out an advertisement out on Facebook, Craigslist or any internet advertiser.    You need to be diligent when researching.

Some of the following questions are great starters:

  • How long have you been in business?

  • How many employees and are they paid as employees?

  • What manufacturer endorsements can you provide?   A good HVAC contractor will have at least one, but variety means that they can give you options from the best to also within your budget.

  • What is the experience level of contractor and employees?   Have they been formally trained or did they suddenly just jump into the business because they saw potential for income.

  • What level of insurance coverage do they maintain?   If they can’t rattle off a number immediately and be willing to show proof, you may need to be cautious.

  • Is there any Better Business Complaints?   A good business owner will always respond to every call to action.  

At the end of the day, you can find a hillbilly with a pickup truck if that is what you seek.   It is unlikely that it will be a true finance saver.    Improper installations and poor product selection will add costs up quickly and you will end up spending more.   Don’t be fooled!   

For further explanation and honest answers, please reach out to Vent Heating & Cooling, LLC.  Visit at:   www.venthvac.com or call 440-785-2629

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Maintenance Agreements

If you own a house or building, it is not a question of maintenance costs but how they are managed.   Whether it be the coldest of winters or the hottest of summers, all equipment should ultimately have some level of maintenance if you expect to get the fullest of its life cycle and efficiency.    Just like you have budgets for utilities like natural gas, the same thing could be put in place for HVAC servicing.

You could just roll the dice with timing.  If a dreadful moment in winter when it is 20 degrees below and a major holiday your furnace should decide to die, you could scroll through the advertisements and try to find someone whom will answer the phone and charge you an enormous rate, or you can have a service contract in place. A service contract does not just cover emergencies, but also covers routine needed maintenance so that your equipment is fully optimized.   

When equipment breaks down, it is an inconvenience and everyone ends up being stressed.  Rather than throwing your hands in the air when it happens, why not have a plan in which someone you trust could be ready. It not only gives you peace of mind, but can also save you money in the event of an actual emergency fee.

Did you know that equipment that is not regularly maintenance will affect your utility bills?   Whether AC or heating system, if not running efficiently, you will see a cost increase based upon failure to operate as designed. Have you heard the word “efficiency” when it comes to furnace ratings.  That is all based upon how much heat is produced at used from the source of natural gas or energy. That efficiency is directly tied to the manufactures specifications. If not functioning correctly, a 90% efficiency furnace could actually be giving you 50%  efficiency.  

At Vent Heating and Cooling maintenance agreements are custom to each system.  Service is always a priority and a guaranteed service agreement is also put into place.

For further explanation and honest answers, please reach out to Vent Heating & Cooling, LLC. Serving all of northeastern Ohio with an A+ Better Business Bureau rating. Visit at:   www.venthvac.com or call 440-785-2629

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Beware of COMMISSIONED Service Technicians

Sometimes when trust should be a given it is when caution is forced. One would think that if you have a technician servicing your furnace or HVAC system, they will tell you what you need and nothing more.   Unfortunately that is not always the case. Believe or not, most companies offer their technicians a commission on parts sold.  

Why is that potentially problematic? It may not be the case always, but in many the technician may replace parts that are not needed only because they will get a commission. This is an age old practice and quite frankly it just does not make sense for the customer. It works great for the companies and employees executing, but all it does for a customer is inflate the invoice.  I’ve heard real stories as to parts being replaced annually that are simply not needed.

A reputable company on the other hand will replace parts only when they are required. If the employees are being paid fair wages, it is never a concern.  It is however a concern in a commissioned environment. Beware of these customers and you should always ask the question very carefully to your HVAC company as to how they compensate technicians. You should ask specifically to the company if any bonuses or commissioned are paid related to job.

At Vent HVAC, the technicians are already paid very well based upon their credentials and experience.   It is something of great pride in the company. No technician is ever paid commissions or bonuses based upon parts or individual purchases at a job site. The only time parts will be replaced is if it is failed or causing failure. You should ask your HVAC company for service references. They are plentiful at Vent Heating & Cooling. We will not suggest a replacement of equipment or parts unless it is truly of your best interest. And that is how it should be for all.

For further explanation and honest answers, please reach out to Vent Heating & Cooling, LLC.  Visit at:   www.venthvac.com or call 440-785-2629

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Humidity Control Is EXTREMELY Important!

Every house should have some humidity.   It’s not healthy for you or for the house to have none.   According to ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers) the target should be 60% for average 72 degree homes.

You don’t want too much moisture, but you need to breath comfortably and healthy. Too much humidity can result in alternative health issues, mold, and water damage. Therefore it is imperative to have a targeted system in every house.

Not all HVAC systems include humidity controllers. If your contractor is not talking to you about this fairly low cost add on, you might be talking to the wrong person. Note that both humidifiers and dehumidifiers are involved in solutions that involve both hot and cold climates.  

If you ignore humidity control, you are not only risking your health, but also your home.   There was a time in which homes with black mold were burned in order to remedy. Although that was past, it should be noted that black mold is only one risk.  The quality of your equipment and it’s life is also directly tied to humidity control. This one of many items that should be discussed when you are looking at HVAC replacement and or servicing.

For further explanation and honest answers, please reach out to Vent Heating & Cooling, LLC.  Visit at:   www.venthvac.com or call 440-785-2629