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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You Can Still Schedule a Tune-Up

August 31st, 2020

air-conditioner-repairKeeping your home cool during the summertime here in Alabama is no small feat. It helps to have an effective and energy-efficient air conditioning system in your house to make things livable. However, things won’t be as comfortable or affordable if your air conditioning system isn’t running at its peak. Scheduling air conditioning maintenance in Birmingham, AL is going to help with that.

You may be surprised to hear, or read, that you can still get a tune-up on your air conditioner this late in the season. You definitely can and we would like you to know why it will still benefit you.

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5 AC Noises to Listen For So You Know When To Get Repairs

August 17th, 2020

woman-covering-her-earsWhen you are chilling at home, you won’t be able to stay very cool if your air conditioner isn’t operating properly. If you have an AC system that needs to be repaired, the longer you wait to address the problem the worse it will get. One of the ways that you can pick up on the need for repairs is to listen for them.

There are several noises that your air conditioner might make that should alert you to a potential problem. If you pick up on one of these problematic sounds, make sure you reach out to Douglas Cooling & Heating for service as soon as you can to avoid a breakdown.

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Signs You Need a New Air Conditioner

August 10th, 2020

It can be difficult to know when to replace air conditioner equipment in your Birmingham area home. While early replacement saves you the scrambling involved when faced with the sudden death of older equipment, no one wants to spend money on something new when the old one is working just fine!

Birmingham area homeowners find it hard to make the decision between repairs for an older cooling system and when to replace air conditioner equipment. When you face this dilemma, try evaluating the situation based on the factors below – you may find replacement is the best option after all.

When to Replace Air Conditioner Equipment and Skip Repairs

Repairing and replacing an air conditioner are completely different ball games – in terms of the extent of work typically required, the results and the expense. Before you make another repair to your older AC system, think about these key points to determine if now is the right time for replacement.

Age of Existing Air Conditioner

Knowing when you need to replace air conditioning equipment can be like a gamble – you want to find that perfect balance point between saving yourself future headaches and saving money by maximizing years of service from your old system. As you assess when to make the bet, the most important number you need to consider is the age of your home’s existing AC.

The expected service life of an air conditioner is about 15 years. How you care for it over that span can reward you with extra years of service beyond the anticipated lifespan or punish you for its neglect with a shorter service life.

Verdict – consider skipping repairs and move to replace your current AC system if it’s almost 15 years old or older and in need of repairs.

Present Energy Costs

Beyond expected service life, you have to think about how efficiency is affected by system age. Technology advances rapidly in the HVAC world, and your existing system is nowhere near as energy efficient as the models offered today, even when it was first installed! Plus, efficiency declines each year of use. With a newer model, you know what to expect, and can count on the savings generated by higher-efficiency equipment.

When your energy bills steadily climb year after year, replacing your air conditioning equipment sooner than later will  save you money each month.

Verdict – skip repairs made in hopes of improving the efficiency of an older air conditioner, as they likely won’t produce a noticeable difference. The better choice is to replace the old unit with an efficient model.

Comfort Discrepancies

Can you rely on your existing air conditioner to keep your home comfortable? Many homes with older AC units are plagued with hot spots, which occur when some areas or rooms are warmer than others and are difficult to properly cool. This is often due to diminished performance from an older cooling system.

If you choose to replace your air conditioning system now, you can guarantee many years of reliable comfort thanks to newer technologies and better performance capabilities available.

Verdict – repairs to your older system can help the aging AC maintain its current level of performance, but if that isn’t enough to keep your home comfortable, replacement is a better choice.

Benefits Come with a New Air Conditioner

If you decide there’s no time like the present to replace AC equipment, you’ll enjoy immediate benefits from your new system including:

New Air Conditioner Warranty 

When you upgrade to a new AC, one of the greatest benefits is a new warranty. Most new ACs come with a 10-year limited warranty when installed by a licensed technician. A new AC unit offers peace of mind and several years of protection in case certain issues arise. Our licensed technicians perform flawless installation of any new Bryant AC, abiding by manufacturer terms to ensure the warranty stays valid after installation. We deliver the ongoing maintenance services necessary to protect your warranty through the length of its term.

Increased Savings

The expense involved in upgrading to a new air conditioner might seem high, but the savings – in the long run – make up for the initial cost. Newer, more efficient air conditioners reduce the amount of energy used to cool your home and generate utility savings every month they’re in use. Look for a new air conditioner with a cooling efficiency at least 14 SEER or higher. The higher the SEER rating, the greater efficiency and energy savings for you down the road.

Increased Comfort

Newer ACs deliver increased efficiency and even temperatures in every room through advanced features not found on older models. If you upgrade to a new air conditioner with a variable-speed compressor, you won’t deal with hot or cold spots in your home. Newer models control humidity better, too, so you can enjoy cooler temperatures indoors regardless of the humidity levels outside. Humidity allows mold, mildew and dust mites to take root in your home – by controlling the moisture in your air, you experience fewer problems with mold growth as well as allergies and asthma.

Reliable Performance

Older air conditioners are unpredictable, especially if you deal with HVAC repairs every other month. You never know when your AC unit will break down or not start at all, making it hard to know when you need to replace it.

Upgrading your air conditioner equips your home with a new unit that performs as expected for many years without causing worry over surprise repairs. A preventative maintenance plan for the new unit helps prevent breakdowns even longer!

Noise Reduction

New air conditioners operate quietly compared to older HVAC systems. The compressor stays quiet with sound-reduction technology. Each unit includes a sound rating that shares how quiet it performs. Proper installation of a new air conditioner by a licensed technician ensures your new investment is correctly sized for your home’s needs. A system that’s too large or small performs inconsistently. Also, the pressure of the air moving through ducts is louder if the unit is too big for your home.

Wondering When to Replace Your Air Conditioner Equipment? How About Now!

Douglas Cooling & Heating will help you decide when to replace your home’s air conditioner equipment by helping you accurately assess the condition of your existing system and exploring replacement options that will offer the improvements you desire. Talk to a knowledgeable HVAC technician today to learn if replacement is right for your air conditioner – give us a call!

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Tips for Clearing a Clogged Sewer Line

August 10th, 2020

A clogged sewer line can cause serious issues for Birmingham, AL, area homeowners. Sometimes clogs occur despite our best efforts. In this situation, knowing how to clear a main sewer line clog helps relieve some of the stress that comes with this household issue. 

The licensed plumbers at Douglas Cooling & Heating explain how they clear a main sewer line clog using professional methods. To help you identify if such a problem is present in your plumbing system, we’ll explain the signs that indicate a clog.

Signs of a Main Sewer Line Clog

Each plumbing fixture in your home has its own drain line. These secondary drain lines run and connect to the home’s main drain line, which then connects to the home’s sewer line. The home’s main sewer line links the home’s drainage system to the municipal sewer line or the home’s private septic system. Running underground through your yard, the main sewer line is usually four to six inches in diameter and slopes downward to help wastewater flow away from the residence.

Clogs that occur in the main sewer line of the home can spell trouble indoors. With a clog in the main line, resulting symptoms typically affect all of the home’s plumbing fixtures and drainage rather than problems isolated to one fixture that are seen with clogs in secondary drain lines. 

Signs of main sewer line clogs in Birmingham homes include:

  • Wastewater backup from drains and toilets
  • Pooling water surrounding floor drains
  • Gurgling noises from drains
  • Sewage smell coming from drains

Professional Approaches for How to Clear a Main Sewer Line Clog

Because of their location deep within the home’s drainage system, it’s quite difficult to address main sewer line clogs through DIY methods – professional help is needed. Clearing a sewer line clog depends on what caused the clog and other factors.

Our plumbers use video inspection equipment to assess the clog from within the sewer line. We may find tree root penetrations that have grown into a severe clog, a broken underground pipe or infiltrations through a broken pipe preventing waste flow. Sometimes a significant clog can develop from flushed and drained materials that should’ve been tossed out with the trash. 

Some of the methods we may use to clear a main sewer line clog include:

  • Plumber’s auger: A professional plumber’s auger can reach down into the home’s sewer lines at length, whereas it’s hard to find one that has such a length at your local hardware store. An auger works to bust up clogs from flushed and drained materials as well as tree roots.
  • Hydro jetting: Hydro jetting uses high-pressure water to clean the interior of your drain lines and main sewer line. This method works to remove infiltrated materials, grease build up and tree root infiltrations.
  • Pipe replacement: When broken sewer pipes allow infiltrations into the sewer line or if a break is so severe it stops the flow of waste, it needs to be replaced. Trenching methods can be used to dig up the old pipe and replace it. You may be a candidate for trenchless pipe relining, which seals cracks from within.


Preventing Main Sewer Line Clogs

Clogs in a home’s sewer line create hassle and have the potential to cause health issues. The clog has the potential to lead to sewer gas leakage into the home, which occurs as clogged materials decompose inside the line. Take steps to prevent such a potentially dangerous and disruptive problem altogether when you do the following:

  • Remove shrubs, bushes, trees and other plants that grow in the same area or nearby to your home’s main sewer line.
  • Replace aged clay sewer lines to prevent sudden sewer line clogs due to deterioration and breaks.
  • Schedule annual drain clearing services to eliminate buildup within your sewer pipe.
  • Only flush human waste and toilet tissue down the toilet.
  • Only rinse appropriate food products down your garbage disposal.

For Sewer Line Services, Call Douglas

If you suspect a deep main sewer line clog, leave the repairs to the pros – call Douglas Cooling & Heating to schedule drain clearing and repair services if necessary. Our plumbers perform reliable work so you can rest assured your sewer line issue and the symptoms it produces are eliminated once and for all.

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