AFUE Ratings & Furnace Installation: What to Know

February 26th, 2024

If it’s time for a new furnace, you might be trying to figure out a lot of information at once. Should you get the same kind of furnace you had before? Are there better options available now? Might it be worth converting from gas to electric, or vice versa? Getting the answers to as many of your questions as possible will help you to make a choice you’ll be happy with in the long term.

We’d like to help you to gather the information you need. Some of the most important things to understand are AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) ratings, and what to expect from furnace installation. Here are the facts. 

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What Is an Emergency Plumbing Situation?

February 12th, 2024

What image comes to mind when you read the words plumbing emergency? It probably involves a whole lot of water, maybe gushing dramatically from a broken pipe. And of course, that would definitely constitute a plumbing emergency. But you might need a plumber in a hurry even if your problem doesn’t quite look like that.

It’s understandable that you might hesitate when trying to determine how serious your plumbing problem is. We’d like to give you some pointers on how to decide whether you’ve got an actual plumbing emergency on your hands.

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4 Signs That Your Home Needs Rewiring

January 15th, 2024

Major wiring problems often occur in older homes where the electrical work has deteriorated over decades or the materials are now outdated and considered to be less safe than the types of wiring electricians use today.

But they can also occur in newer homes for a wide variety of reasons, from shoddy repairs to rodent damage. How can you tell if your home needs electrical rewiring? Here are 4 signs. If you spot them, for your safety, get an electrician to take a look right away.

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A New Year, a New Heating System

January 1st, 2024

As we begin a new year, with fresh hopes and goals and resolutions, don’t forget to consider your heating system. The majority of New Year’s resolutions have to do with personal health, like joining a gym or eating more healthily. But your home is important, too, and taking good care of it will have a huge positive impact on your life.

Chances are, this time of year, you’re getting a clear sense of how well your heating system is—or isn’t—working. If it’s getting old, requiring repair, failing to keep your home comfortably cozy, or dropping in efficiency and driving up your utility bills, it’s time for a change. What kind of new heating system should you get? Here are some options for you to consider.

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Yes, Your Whole House Generator Needs Maintenance

December 18th, 2023

Congratulations on having a whole house generator! What an excellent investment. No matter when or why a power outage hits, you’ll be prepared. You don’t even have to turn it on. It will come on all by itself when it’s needed! And with none of the safety hazards or inconveniences of portable generators, you’ll save yourself a ton of stress and worry.

When you need your whole house generator, you really need it. It would be terrible to invest in something so useful only to have it not work when the power goes out! The way to make sure your whole house generator will keep you covered during an outage is to have professional generator maintenance done annually. Here’s why.

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3 Advantages of Ductless Heating Over Traditional Heating

December 4th, 2023

Ahh, tradition. It can be the best thing there is, especially as holidays are coming up and you may be feeling nostalgic. But there’s a big difference between holiday or family traditions and just taking a traditional approach to something out of habit. This is especially true when it comes to heating your home. 

You may be inclined to keep using the same type of heating system simply because it is familiar. But what if that system isn’t really what would work best for you, your home, or your family? Ductless heating systems might seem new, unusual, or strange. But they have some advantages over traditional home heating systems. Here are three big ones.

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How Long Do Heating Systems Last?

November 22nd, 2023

When you find yourself in the market for a new heating system, one question that undoubtedly crosses your mind is “How long do heating systems last?” It’s a valid concern; after all, you want to ensure you get the most out of your investment. 

At Douglas Cooling & Heating, Alabama’s most trusted heating, cooling, and plumbing company, we get this question a lot. That’s why we decided to create this helpful guide for HVAC systems. Give it a read to find the answer you’re looking for and get to know your heating options a little better.

Which Heating System Is Right For Me?

Each heating system has its own unique benefits. Whether you prioritize energy efficiency, rapid heating, zoned comfort, or versatility, there’s a heating solution out there that suits your specific needs. 


In Birmingham, Alabama, where chilly winters can sometimes catch us off guard, furnaces play a crucial role in keeping our homes cozy and comfortable. These systems are renowned for their efficiency and rapid heating capabilities. Furnaces distribute warm air through ducts, which is a popular choice among homeowners looking for a quick and effective way to combat the cold. 


Boilers provide a reliable and consistent source of heat, making them well-suited for Alabama’s climate. By using heated water or steam, they ensure your home stays warm even during the coldest days. This reliability is particularly valuable when the temperature drops unexpectedly, as boilers can efficiently maintain a comfortable indoor environment. 

Ductless Systems

Ductless mini-splits offer a versatile and energy-efficient option for homeowners in our community. With our region’s varying temperatures, these systems shine by providing zoned heating, allowing you to customize comfort room by room. Whether you want to keep your living room warm in the evening while keeping the bedrooms cooler for a comfortable night’s sleep or vice versa, ductless mini-splits offer the flexibility you need. Plus, their energy efficiency helps you manage your heating and cooling system costs more effectively.

Heat Pumps

Heat pumps have a unique advantage in Birmingham, where our weather can swing between hot summers and chilly winters. A heat pump can heat and cool your home, making them a well-rounded choice for year-round comfort. In addition to their heating and cooling capabilities, heat pumps are known for their energy efficiency, helping you stay comfortable while keeping energy bills in check. 

How Long Do Heating Systems Last?

Now, let’s answer the question of the hour: How long do heating systems last? 

  • Furnaces: Gas furnaces and oil furnaces typically have a lifespan ranging from 15 to 20 years. Electric furnaces have an average life expectancy of 20 to 30 years. Regular maintenance and efficient operation can help you keep your system running smoothly.
  • Boilers: Boilers are known for their durability and longevity, lasting on average 15 to 20 years, depending on the type. These systems can often operate efficiently for an impressive 20 to 30 years with proper maintenance. Investing in a high-quality boiler can be a smart choice for long-term comfort.
  • Ductless Mini Splits: Ductless mini splits, known for their versatility, typically have a service life of around 20 years. 
  • Heat Pumps: Because heat pumps are used year-round for heating and cooling, they tend to only last between 10 to 15 years.

Factors That Can Impact Your Equipment’s Service Life

Keep in mind that the numbers above are general guidelines. The actual lifespan of your heating system can be influenced by several factors, including the following:

  • Maintenance: Regular maintenance, including inspections, cleaning, and timely repairs, can keep your existing unit operating efficiently for years beyond the average lifespan.
  • Quality of Installation: Choosing a reputable HVAC technician can make a substantial difference in the overall life of your HVAC system.
  • Usage Patterns: Systems that are in constant use may experience more significant wear and tear on their components and may require more maintenance to maintain their efficiency.
  • Environmental Conditions: Extreme temperatures, high humidity, or exposure to environmental factors can accelerate wear and potentially shorten the system’s lifespan.
  • Manufacturer Quality: Investing in higher-quality HVAC units from a reputable manufacturer often results in an extended service life and better overall performance.

Signs It’s Time to Replace Your Heating System

No matter what type of heating or air conditioning system you have, there comes a point in its life where replacement becomes the better choice. Here are some clear signs that it’s time for an HVAC replacement:

Old Age

Heating systems, like air conditioners and any other mechanical equipment, have a finite lifespan. If your system has exceeded its average service life, it’s time to consider a replacement. Continuing to rely on an aging HVAC system may lead to reduced performance, increased repair costs, and higher energy bills.

Frequent Repairs

If you find yourself constantly calling for heating system repairs, it might be more cost-effective, not to mention less aggravating, to invest in a new system. Frequent breakdowns and costly repairs can quickly add up, making the prospect of a new, reliable HVAC system more appealing.

Reduced Efficiency

Over time, heating systems can become less efficient, causing your energy bills to rise. If you notice a steady increase in your heating costs without a corresponding increase in comfort, it’s a strong indication that your system’s efficiency is declining, and a replacement may offer long-term savings.

Inconsistent Heating

Uneven heating throughout your home can be a frustrating issue. If certain rooms are consistently colder than others or if you find yourself constantly adjusting the thermostat to maintain comfort, it could be a sign that your heating system is deteriorating and struggling to evenly distribute heat.

Trust Douglas Cooling & Heating for All Your Heating System Needs

At Douglas Cooling & Heating, we have the expertise to install a wide range of heating systems tailored to your specific requirements. Our NATE-certified technicians take immense pride in delivering top-quality heating installations, catering to both residential and commercial customers throughout Birmingham, AL, and the surrounding areas.

Whether you’re considering boilers, furnaces, heat pumps, or ductless systems, we’ve got you covered. Be sure to check out our flexible financing options for a heater or air conditioner, too!

Moreover, our commitment doesn’t end with installations; we also specialize in repairing all makes and models of HVAC equipment. To significantly reduce the risk of unexpected system breakdowns, don’t forget to schedule annual maintenance tune-ups with our dedicated HVAC technicians. Or, go ahead and enroll in our 24/7 Club right now to be treated to priority service and other exclusive perks! Contact us today to get started.

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Can I Finance My New HVAC System?

November 20th, 2023

At Douglas Cooling & Heating, we understand that a new HVAC system is a big investment. For many families and business owners, it’s an extremely difficult expense to face. In some cases, people are unable to cover the entire cost up front. However, heating and cooling are not luxuries. They’re essential. And if your old HVAC system isn’t getting the job done, you need a new one.

We don’t want anyone to suffer through uncomfortable or even dangerous temperatures. And we’re prepared to help. What can people do if they’re unprepared to purchase a new HVAC system outright, but they need one right away? Consider these options.

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Uh-Oh, This Means Your Fireplace Is Out of Commission

November 6th, 2023

Gas fireplaces have many advantages. They’re beautiful without being messy like wood-burning fireplaces. They’re efficient and convenient to operate. But the sad truth is that they do not last forever. Many gas fireplace troubles can be resolved with repair, but the day will come when your fireplace needs to be replaced. Here’s what to watch for.

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What Size Water Heater Is Right for My Home?

October 23rd, 2023

Water heaters play a crucial role in our daily lives, providing the convenience of warm water for bathing, cooking, and cleaning. Yet, choosing the right water heater size for your home can be a daunting task. Whether you’re considering a traditional tank water heater or a modern tankless unit, getting the size right is essential to ensure a consistent supply of hot water while avoiding unnecessary energy costs.

In this blog, we’ll explore the benefits of both kinds of water heaters and explain how a professional plumber can perfectly determine what size water heater is right for your home.

Tank vs. Tankless Water Heaters: Pros and Cons

Before we start talking about sizing considerations, it’s important to understand the fundamental differences between tank and tankless water heaters.

Tank Water Heaters

A tank water heater, also known as a storage water heater, is a type of water heating system that uses a large tank to store and heat a specific amount of water. These tanks typically range in size from 20 to 120 gallons, and they are insulated to help maintain the water’s temperature.


  • Affordability: Tank water heaters are generally more affordable to purchase and install compared to tankless alternatives.
  • Simple Operation: They have a straightforward operation, making them easy to understand and use.
  • Readily Available: Tank water heaters are widely available and can be found in most stores.
  • Reliable: Tank hot water heaters consistently deliver hot water, which is important for households with high water demands.


  • Energy Loss: Tank water heaters may experience standby heat loss, meaning they continually reheat the stored water even when not in use, resulting in energy inefficiency.
  • Limited Hot Water: The amount of hot water is limited by the tank’s size, which can be a drawback for large households with high hot water demands.
  • Space Requirements: The physical size of the water tank may require a dedicated space in your home, which can be a limitation for smaller residences.
  • Shorter Lifespan: Tank water heaters tend to have a shorter lifespan compared to tankless water heaters.

Tankless Water Heaters

A tankless water heater, also known as an on-demand water heater, is a type of water heating system that heats water directly without the need for a storage tank. 


  • Improved Energy Efficiency: Tankless water heaters are more energy efficient since they exclusively heat water when required, substantially diminishing energy usage and decreasing utility expenses.
  • Endless Hot Water: You won’t run out of hot water with a tankless system as it provides a continuous supply.
  • Space-Saving: Tankless units are compact and wall-mounted, freeing up valuable space in your home.
  • Longer Lifespan: Tankless hot water heaters can last up to 20 years or more with proper maintenance, while traditional tank water heaters typically wear out after 10 to 15 years.
  • Reduced Environmental Impact: The lower energy use of tankless heaters reduces your carbon footprint.


  • Higher Initial Cost: Tankless water heaters can be more expensive to purchase and install upfront compared to tank systems.
  • Limited Flow Rate: The hot water flow rate of tankless systems may be limited, which can be a disadvantage if multiple hot water sources are used simultaneously.
  • Required Ventilation: Proper ventilation and gas supply may be necessary, adding to installation costs.
  • Potential Lag: There can be a slight delay in hot water delivery, especially in homes with long pipe runs, which might not be ideal for some users.
  • Regular Maintenance: Tankless water heaters require regular maintenance to ensure optimal performance.

Water Heater Sizing for Tank and Tankless Water Heaters

Whether you opt for a tank or tankless water heater for your Birmingham, AL home, the size plays a pivotal role in its efficiency and effectiveness. 

Tank water heaters are sized based on their storage tank capacity, typically measured in gallons. To determine the right size for your home, consider your daily hot water needs. A family of four, for example, may require a larger tank, like a 40 to 50 gallon water heater.

Tankless water heaters are sized by their flow rate, typically measured in gallons per minute (GPM). Calculate the GPM needed by considering the number of fixtures that may be using hot water simultaneously. For instance, if you anticipate running multiple showers and a dishwasher at the same time, you’ll need a higher GPM rating.

How a Plumber Decides What Size Water Heater is Right For You

Still wondering what size heater do I need? A professional plumber will help you find the answer. Professional plumbing technicians use various calculations to determine the appropriate water heater size for your home. These calculations consider your household’s hot water usage and patterns. Some of the key aspects they assess include:

  1. Peak Demand: Plumbers evaluate your water heater’s needs, paying close attention to when your home has its peak hour of hot water demand. This might be in the morning when family members are showering or in the evening when dishes are being washed.
  2. Fixture Flow Rates: They measure the flow rates of fixtures like showers, faucets, and appliances to gauge how much hot water is needed.
  3. Temperature Rise: Plumbers calculate the difference between your incoming water temperature and the desired hot water temperature. This difference impacts the unit’s capacity requirements.
  4. First-Hour Rating (FHR): FHR represents the total gallons of hot water the unit can deliver during the first hour. It’s a critical factor for tank water heaters and large households.

Get the Water Heater You Need Today

At Douglas Cooling & Heating, we recognize the importance of correctly sizing and skillfully installing water heaters. Our team of experienced plumbing technicians excels in selecting the properly sized water heater for your home and the number of people in it.

In addition to installation, we offer repair and maintenance services for a variety of water heater models including:

  • Natural gas water heaters
  • Electric water heaters
  • Propane gas water heaters
  • Power vent water heaters

Don’t let your home suffer from the inconvenience of cold showers and other water heater issues. Contact Douglas Cooling & Heating today for a free estimate or to schedule service. Our team is here to keep your Birmingham area home comfortable and your hot water running reliably.

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