How to Tell You Need Help With Your Home’s Wiring

October 26th, 2020

electrical-wiresWe all know those classic “spooky” things that happen in a haunted house: light switches that don’t respond, bulbs that blow out for seemingly no reason, flickering lights throughout the house, and strange noises to top it all off. While these strange occurrences do make for a great haunted house, they can also be a homeowner’s worst nightmare. No, it isn’t because you have a poltergeist–it is because something is wrong with your electrical wiring in Pelham, AL.

If you are having issues with your electrical wiring, you will need to reach out to a professional electrician like the ones on our team for help.

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The Evolution Air Purifier Inactivates Coronavirus!

October 14th, 2020

BIG NEWS!!! Bryant has officially posted that the Evolution Air Purifier inactivates 99% of Coronavirus!!!!

Keeping your home clean and safe is more of a priority now than ever. That is why we want you to know that the Evolution™ Air Purifier has the ability to inactivate the coronavirus from the air it filters. Thanks to its Capture and Kill technology, this purifier can inactivate 99% of the select airborne bacteria and viruses that it traps, including the coronavirus. Learn more about this system here: How It Works.

When you want to add a purifier to your home, or install another system to boost your IAQ, contact our team to get the job done.

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What Type of Programmable Thermostat Should I Buy?

October 12th, 2020

Programmable thermostats provide Birmingham area homeowners with expanded control over their home’s heating and cooling energy consumption. About 15 to 20 years ago, their popularity ignited as homeowners were eager to lower their utility costs. It’s far easier to save energy with programmable thermostats versus manual thermostats. Even with newer technology available today, programmable thermostats are still extremely popular in American homes.

In our most recent blog, the technicians at Douglas Cooling & Heating explain how homeowners use programmable thermostats and other thermostat technology to control household energy consumption while maintaining comfortable conditions inside the home.

Types of Thermostats

Today, there are three basic categories of thermostats available: manual thermostats, programmable thermostats, and smart thermostats.

  • Manual Thermostats: With manual thermostats, users must manually adjust temperatures up or down when desired.
  • Programmable Thermostats: Temperature adjustments can be programmed based on a schedule. Different models exist offering several scheduling capabilities. The thermostat follows the programmed settings and adjusts temperatures in the home on this schedule.
  • Smart Thermostats: Smart thermostats are the newest generation of thermostats. They can use sensors, Internet connectivity, and more to learn the homeowner’s preferences and assess indoor conditions to choose the most energy-efficient temperature setpoints.

Types of Programmable or Smart Thermostats Douglas Cooling & Heating Offers

Douglas Cooling & Heating offers a variety of programmable and smart thermostats from Bryant to meet your home’s unique needs.

Bryant’s Evolution Connex Control

This is one of the industry’s best thermostats. This Wi-Fi-enabled thermostat allows for real-time management wherever you are and can lower your energy bills through intuitive programming.

Bryant’s Housewise Wi-Fi Thermostat

The Bryant Housewise Thermostat is Energy Star certified and can save you up to 20% on heating and cooling costs. With its Wi-Fi capability, you can access this thermostat from any tablet or web portal.

The ecobee3 lite

The ENERGY STAR-certified ecobee3 lite offers smarter control of your home’s temperature through Wi-Fi capabilities and can increase savings by up to 23%.

Contact Douglas Cooling & Heating today to learn more about our offerings of programmable and smart thermostats.

Scheduling Options for Programmable Thermostats

When purchasing a programmable thermostat, it is important to pay attention to each model’s scheduling capabilities and find one that offers scheduling appropriate for your household. Typically, up to four temperature changes are allowed for each setting period. The scheduling functionalities of programmable thermostats work as follows:

  • 7-Day models allow the homeowner to program unique temperature schedules for every day of the week. These programmable thermostats offer the best scheduling variation for a busy household with a schedule that frequently changes.
  • 5-1-1 Day programmable thermostats permit one set of temperature adjustments utilized Monday through Friday and unique schedules for Saturday and Sunday. They are ideal for households with consistent schedules during the week and each day of the weekend.
  • 5-2 Day programmable thermostats use one set of temperature schedules Monday through Friday and a second set that covers Saturday and Sunday. They are used in households with consistent weekday and weekend schedules.
  • 1-Week programmable thermostats use one set of temperature adjustments for all seven days of the week. This is the most limited programming ability offered for programmable thermostat models.

How Programmable Thermostats Help Homeowners Save

With heating or cooling systems, the greatest energy savings are achieved through temperature setbacks over a period of time. This means adjusting the temperature for heating lower than what is typical and setting the temperature for cooling higher than what is typical in the home. It’s recommended to adjust household temperatures in this manner for periods of eight or more hours. Temperature setbacks of seven to 10 degrees or more over eight or more hours each day can cut yearly heating and cooling costs as much as 10 percent, according to the US Department of Energy

Technically, any one of the three main types of thermostats allow you to adjust temperatures in this manner. However, doing so on a manual thermostat is far more involved, requiring you to physically go to the thermostat and make the adjustment multiple times per day. As you can imagine, not many people bother to take the time to do so, nor do they always remember.

When programmable thermostats were introduced to the market, they removed the inconvenience of making temperature setbacks. Setback schedules could be programmed, allowing the thermostat to handle adjustments automatically!

By removing the need for a person to make all temperature adjustments, homeowners avoided much of the discomfort associated with temperature setbacks. Popular setback periods are during the day and overnight when occupants are gone from home for the day or asleep and unlikely to be affected by the temperature change.

However, with a manual thermostat, you must make the adjustments and wait for temperatures to return to normal, leaving the family in a state of discomfort for a period of time. With programmable thermostats, settings can be programmed to adjust temperatures just ahead of the morning alarm clock so the home is at the perfect temperature when you are awake, up and about in the home.

Upgrade Your Thermostat Today!

If your Birmingham home still has a manual thermostat, it’s time to make the switch. Programmable thermostats offer effortless energy savings you can’t afford to miss out on! Contact Douglas Cooling & Heating today to learn more and receive an estimate for new thermostat installation.

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Why Is My Furnace Making a Loud, Rumbling Noise?

October 12th, 2020

A furnace that makes loud rumbling noises is a cause for concern among Birmingham area homeowners – as is any unexpected, new noise from your home’s heating equipment! New noises, especially those loud enough to be disruptive, should never be ignored. In our most recent blog, the technicians at Douglas Cooling & Heating discuss what a loud, rumbling noise typically tells you about your heating system and what to do when you first hear it.

Causes of a Loud, Rumbling Noise from Your Furnace

The range of potential problems in play when you have a furnace making loud rumbling noises varies from minor to serious and demands immediate attention. Rumbling is typically associated with a few specific heating system issues, but there are some other malfunctions that have the potential to produce a rumbling noise.

Dirty Burners

The most common reason for this noise is that the burners are dirty. Soot collects on the burners during normal furnace operation and should be cleaned regularly. Douglas Cooling & Heating does this as part of your annual furnace tune up. If the burners do not receive a regular cleaning, the soot can block airflow. In this case, the burners don’t receive adequate airflow for combustion, which leads to a furnace making loud, rumbling noise. The rumbling occurs when a heating cycle first starts and during furnace operation.

Yearly furnace maintenance typically prevents this problem. If you haven’t had a furnace tune up recently and hear this noise, inspect the burners to see if soot is present on or around them. Call your HVAC technician to clean your furnace burners if they are covered in soot.

Pilot Light Problem

If your gas furnace is more than 15 years old, it probably uses a pilot light to initiate combustion. This component can cause a furnace to make rumbling noises when it isn’t properly adjusted or is covered in soot. The sound occurs while the furnace runs and even after a heating cycle is completed.

Take a look at the pilot light – if the flame appears low or the component has visible soot, this could be the cause of this concerning noise. Call your HVAC technician to inspect, clean, and properly adjust the pilot light. If your heating system still operates using a pilot light, you’d be wise to start investigating replacement options before the aging system fails on you.

Dirty Draft Inducer Motor

A furnace’s draft inducer sits near the heat exchanger. It moves combustion gases into the flue pipe so they are safely exhausted out of the home, preventing exposure or explosion inside the heat exchanger. It also directs oxygen to the burners to aid in their efficient performance. When dirty or loose, this component can lead to a rumbling noise when the system first starts up for a heating cycle.

Call your HVAC technician to inspect the furnace and its draft inducer. Your technician will clean the component and ensure it is properly secured within the system.

Loose Panels

The exterior access panels of the furnace can become loose and produce noises as the system operates. Typically, they bang around, but if the screws are only a little bit loosened, rumbling can occur.

Check the exterior of the furnace and ensure all metal panels are properly fit and secured. Tighten screws as needed.

Cracked Heat Exchanger

A cracked heat exchanger is perhaps the most serious issue a furnace can have, requiring immediate service with discontinued use until repair or replacement is completed. A crack in the heat exchanger allows carbon monoxide to escape and mix into the air supply rather than venting safely outdoors, creating the potential for deadly carbon monoxide exposure inside.

Usually, the sound produced is more of clink or rattling noise, though a low-pitched rumble can occur in some units. If you do not find signs of the other causes outlined above, a cracked heat exchanger may be the source of the sound. Turn off your furnace, cut its gas supply, and call your HVAC contractor for emergency furnace repair.

Furnace Repair from Douglas Cooling & Heating

Furnace sounds should never be ignored. If your furnace is making a loud rumbling noise, let Douglas Cooling & Heating get to the bottom of the issue today! We will find the cause of the sound and perform the necessary repairs to restore safe, efficient, and quiet operation! Call us to schedule service.

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Prepping Your Heat Pump For the Switch

October 12th, 2020

It may not seem like it but cooler weather is coming in the future. Thankfully, if you have a heat pump system, then you have both your heating and air conditioning in Birmingham, AL covered. This doesn’t mean that you can switch between modes in the middle of the day though. Your heat pump system does have the capability to provide both cooling and heating but to do that it may take a little extra preparation.

A heat pump is a reliable system as long as it is well cared for. You can use the tips that we have listed here to ensure that, when the time does come to heat up your home, your heat pump is ready for the task.

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The Role of Your Ductwork

September 28th, 2020

wall-ventSo many people picture the indoor and outdoor elements of their air conditioner when we bring it up, but they almost never think about the part of their system that they never see: their ductwork. This is the delivery system for the cool air that your AC creates.

When it comes to scheduling an air conditioning service in Birmingham, AL, you can’t forget that your ductwork is just as important a part of your cooling system as the others. With that in mind, it makes sense that is would need to be maintained by a professional too.

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A Dirty Evaporator Coil is a Big Issue

September 14th, 2020

evaporator-coilLet’s be honest, there are so many different things that could possibly go wrong with your air conditioning system. From loose parts to broken fan blades to a worn-out motor belt, there is more than one repair that can impact your AC system’s operation and mess with your comfort.

Even too much dirt can impact your air conditioner if it isn’t caught early enough. This is why we also encourage you to change your AC filter every few months, to avoid this problem. If your system is struggling with excessive dirty build-up on its internal workings, you should reach out to us for air conditioning repair in Birmingham, AL.

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What Temperature Should I Set My Heat Pump in the Winter?

September 9th, 2020

During the winter months, Birmingham, Alabama, homeowners often struggle with heat pump temperature settings, as they aim to find a balance between comfort and energy efficiency. Higher temperature settings result in more energy use, so it’s important to be conservative with the thermostat’s setpoint to prevent high heating bills.

Douglas Cooling & Heating shares ideal temperature settings for your heat pump during the fall and winter months to help you stay warm without high utility costs. Also, we’ll discuss ways to maximize heat pump efficiency during the heating season.

Ideal Winter Heat Pump Temperature Settings

According to the Department of Energy, 68°F is the sweet spot that balances comfort and energy efficiency during the fall and winter months. When your home is occupied and when family members are awake, a heat pump setting of 68°F keeps the living areas reasonably warm.

Now, if you’ve used a gas furnace in the past, you may have heard about temperature setbacks overnight and during the day that increase energy savings. It is advised to adjust settings down 7 to 10 degrees overnight or during the day for nine-hour periods to achieve up to 10% energy savings. This only works for furnaces, not heat pumps, so do not create a big temperature setback for your heat pump.

Temperature settings for heat pumps should remain fairly consistent for optimal energy efficiency. It’s OK to set back the temperature a few degrees to save energy overnight and during the daytime hours, but large setbacks in heat pump temperatures can cause inefficiencies, rather than improving efficiency.

When your heat pump temperature setting is greatly reduced from the home’s usual preferred temperature, the heat pump unit has a big jump to make when it’s time to get the home back up around 68°F. When the temperature differential is 10 degrees or more, this may cause the heat pump to activate its backup electrical heat strips, which are more expensive to operate. Heat pumps decline in energy efficiency as outdoor temperatures fall lower, so a severe setback is a bad idea in the middle of winter.

Reduce Heating Use without Sacrificing Comfort

While a heat pump temperature setting at 68°F provides greater energy efficiency, you may be able to set back the temperature a bit further without causing family members to shiver. 

  • Take advantage of natural solar energy to warm living areas. Open curtains and blinds on south-facing windows during daytime periods of direct sunlight.
  • Eliminate the chill of sitting by windows when you use tightly fitting window coverings during the evenings and overnight. Doing so also prevents heat loss that occurs when warm air makes contact with the cold glass.
  • Make sure your fireplace damper is not open unless a fire is burning. Open dampers allow heat to escape the home, making it colder inside.

Call Douglas Cooling & Heating for Heat Pump Help

If you have questions about heat pump temperature settings for winter, Douglas Cooling & Heating is here to help. Our heat pump experts are available to help you maximize heat pump efficiency throughout the winter, from utilizing the right settings to making repairs that improve system performance. Contact us today to schedule service.

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How to Fight Fall Allergies Indoors

September 9th, 2020

Many Birmingham area residents suffer from allergy symptoms during the fall season – inside the home as well as outside. Fortunately, your HVAC system can be used to prevent fall allergies indoors when used with the right solutions. Our heating and cooling pros explain how to create a more comfortable indoor environment so your loved ones experience fewer fall allergy symptoms while at home.

1. Heating System Tune Up

The insides of your furnace or air handler can accumulate a buildup of dust, dirt and indoor allergens over time. These contaminants are brought into the equipment as air flows through the system, and the particles are able to fall out of suspension and settle inside on sensitive heating unit components. As air continues to cycle, these particles can be picked back up and moved back into the home, which increases the volume of allergens one is exposed to indoors.

A heating system tune up is standard service for your furnace or heat pump each fall, helping to improve the system’s performance and energy efficiency going into the winter months. One important component of an annual tune up is a thorough cleaning to remove matter that has built up inside equipment chambers. Beyond protection for the system, a tune up also helps prevent fall allergies through the removal of allergens that have settled inside the system.

2. High-Efficiency Filters and Regular Filter Maintenance

A home’s forced air heating system uses a filter to capture airborne contaminants when air cycles into the furnace or air handler. The main purpose of the filter is to keep these particles out to prevent component damage.

Not all furnace filters are equal, though, so you may not receive the level of protection you want with just any old filter. Filter efficiency is rated by MERV rating (minimum efficiency reporting value), and this rating shares how efficiently the filter is able to remove particles up to a certain size. Disposable filters for home HVAC systems range from MERV 1 to MERV 20 – the higher the rating number, the more efficient the filter.

MERV 1 to 4 filters are less than 20% effective for the removal of particles 0.3 to 10 microns in size. They offer minimal removal of high pollen counts, dust mites and other common indoor allergens. These are basic disposable filters which many homeowners use, but upgrading to a higher MERV filter helps your HVAC system remove more allergens to prevent fall seasonal allergies indoors. 

A high-efficiency filter is a powerful tool to use as you prevent fall allergies indoors. Use filters with a MERV rating of 8 and higher for better allergen and contaminant removal. MERV 13 filters offer 90% or better efficacy for the removal of particles 1.0 to 10 microns in size and up to 75% efficacy against particles 0.3 to 1.0 microns in size.

For filters to work efficiently, they must be replaced at regular intervals. The filter manufacturer will state how frequently replacement is recommended on the filter packaging, but you may find it necessary to change the filter in your home more often. Doing so can be especially helpful as you prevent fall allergies indoors, ensuring an efficient filter with plenty of surface area to trap allergens and contaminants is in use at all times.

3. Air Cleaners 

Consider adding an air cleaner to prevent fall allergies indoors with your heating and air conditioning system. Advanced filter media units offer high MERV ratings and thicker filters to efficiently capture allergens and airborne contaminants, up to 99% depending on the model! They are installed between the furnace and return duct so all incoming indoor air passes through the air cleaner before it moves into the furnace for heating.

Prevent Fall Allergies Indoors with Douglas Cooling & Heating

As you prevent fall allergies indoors, know you are not alone on this mission. The HVAC professionals of Douglas Service are ready to help you with the solutions and services your home needs to remove allergens this season. Request an estimate or schedule your maintenance tune up today!

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Make Sure Your Home Is Ready For Hurricane Season

September 4th, 2020

Its the season for tropical storms and hurricanes in the Florida area which means that there is every chance our region will get some rough weather too. We’ve already been hit with some storms in the last couple of weeks so you likely are already thinking about how best to prepare your home if anything else comes our way. The team at Douglas Cooling & Heating can offer you some helpful tips and services to get you through it.

  • Shut down major appliances to protect them. It may not sound like fun, but shutting down major appliances like your air conditioner can help protect them from damage that could be caused by power surges in a storm.
  • Make sure you have back-up supplies. Make sure you have some fresh water, canned goods, batteries, a flashlight, and any other essentials that you might need in an emergency.
  • Have a professional check your generator. Don’t wait until the lights go out to discover a problem with your generator. Be ready by scheduling your generator maintenance, repairs, or any other generator services in Birmingham needs now to avoid issues later.

Our team wants to make sure you stay safe this hurricane season. If you need help with your home systems, contact Douglas Cooling & Heating. Your experience is what matters most!

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