Heating, AC, Plumbing & Electrical FAQs
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If you have a newer model that is less than five years old, most issues should be handled through regular maintenance of your air conditioner. Have your coils cleaned, ducts vacuumed, and cooling units checked at least once a year.
However, if you have a unit that’s more than 12 years old, a replacement unit may serve to relieve these problems and cut down on your energy use, as most new models are far more efficient than those made 10 or more years ago.
Regular maintenance should also be scheduled at this time to keep your unit in working order and your ducts clean.
Additionally, know your budget parameters and the efficiency of the system being proposed. Does the system offer a payback? In other words, will the monthly savings over time offset the cost of the new unit or efficiency option being considered? Sizing HVAC equipment is very important from the standpoints of both comfort and energy use. Heating and cooling equipment that is over-capacity or under-sized will not be as energy efficient as properly matched capacity equipment.
Is it making strange noises? Is it cooling or heating all areas of your home sufficiently? Has it been taking longer to cool down or heat up? Have your utility bills been rising for no apparent reason? Any of these are signs that you may have a problem that needs service. In most cases, the longer you delay, the worse any underlying problems will get – so be sure to contact Black Hills to check out your system whenever you notice anything out of the ordinary.
They should be checked and cleaned to ensure they are operating efficiently, properly, and safely. We recommend checking the furnace and air conditioner at least once a year so that we can fully operate the system to check its operation. It’s easy for us to obtain a more accurate reading.
First and foremost is MAINTENANCE. The equipment needs to be cleaned and serviced by a licensed professional at least once if not twice per year. Studies have shown that lack of proper maintenance can reduce equipment efficiency by 5 – 10%. In addition, most of today’s filters need to be changed a minimum of every 90 days – and don’t skimp on the filter.
At Black Hills, we go through a 14-point checklist to ensure that your heating or air conditioning unit is running well.
- Check ductwork for leaks and other problems
- Clean the coils of the indoor evaporator and outdoor condenser units
- Inspect electrical wiring , connections, and controls
- Check refrigerant levels
- Inspect condensate drains and drain pans
- Check and adjust outdoor fan blades and motor in the blower assembly
- Check refrigerant and compressor tubing
- Lubricate moving parts as needed
- Run a full system test
- Inspect, clean, or replace air filters
Air filters keep the air in your home clean and fresh by filtering out the air in your ducts. If you don’t replace your air filters, your system will work harder than necessary, and may even stop working altogether. We recommend that you replace your air filters at least once every month or two for optimum efficiency and to protect the life of your heating and air conditioning system.
Indoor Air Quality
Regardless of how well you think you’ve sealed your home, air will circulate from outside and come indoors. So, if you have a strong source of pollutants near your home – such as a busy highway or an airport – you are more likely to have air quality issues inside your home
What are the most common causes of IAQ problems?
- Not enough ventilation
- Lack of fresh outdoor air/contaminated air entering the building
- Poor upkeep of ventilation, heating, and air conditioning systems
- Dampness and moisture damage due to leaks, flooding, or high humidity
- Occupant activities, such as construction or remodeling
- Indoor and outdoor contaminated air
- Environmental tobacco smoke: Whether you have a smoker in your household or have neighbors who smoke, this is a significant contributor to indoor air pollution
- Biologicals: Bacteria, mold and mildew, viruses, animal dander, pollen, and dust mites. These are more likely to be a problem in buildings with high humidity or water damage.
- Carbon monoxide: From unvented gas heaters, leaking chimneys or furnaces, gas stoves, or automobile exhaust. Low levels can cause headaches and flu-like symptoms. High levels can be fatal.
- Respirable particles: From fireplaces, wood stoves, kerosene heaters, and smoking.
- Organic gases: From household products including paints, paint strippers, and other solvents; wood preservatives; aerosol sprays; cleansers and disinfectants; moth repellents and air fresheners; stored fuels and automotive products; hobby supplies; dry-cleaned clothing.
- Pesticides: Products used to kill household pests, and lawn and garden products that may drift or be tracked into the house.
While the majority of problems related to indoor air pollution are relatively minor, severe issues can develop when ventilation remains poor or the contaminant levels rise too high. Specifically, irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs is very possible as is the flare-up of asthma and seasonal allergies, and possibly the development of infections in the sinuses, lungs, and throat.
How much of an effect the pollutants in your house have will vary greatly depending on the age and general health of your family. Some people are very resistant to pollutants and may feel fine. However, even if you don’t feel the effects of poor air quality, it is taking its toll on your body, forcing nearly every part of you to work harder at sorting out the oxygen needed from the air and getting it to your vital organs.
To start, remove any pollutants you can control. Tobacco smoke, paint, solvents, and industrial cleaners are all heavy contaminants that are not recommended for indoor use. You can also have the vents and ducts checked and cleaned in your house. Patching leaks in your roof and basement can reduce the impact of water damage and the build-up of mold and mildew as well.
Overall, however, cleanliness and ventilation will have a great impact on the common pollutants that build up in most homes.
And finally, there is filtration. The only real way to be 100% sure that your home is free of unwanted pollutants is to install a filtration system that removes all of the contaminants that float around in your home, including bacteria and viruses.
Real Comments From Real People
So Very Impressed
- Debbie F.
Diamond Harris was the HVAC Design who came to my house to give me an estimate for a tankless water heater. I was so very impressed. His customer service, extensive knowledge, and professionalism certainly earn the grade of an A+. A true reflection on black hills Inc.'s hiring practice of hiring and retaining only the best employees. My estimate included not only the tankless water heater but the full installation. Diamond Harris is an asset to your company. Black hills inc was referred to me by my parents who had 3 major projects completed by black hills Inc., and loved working with them. With employees like Diamond, I now see why. Such a positive experience. Thank you. Please give my sincere thank-you to Diamond
Awesome Customer Service
- Lillian B.
We spoke to 3 different companies to get an estimate for a new system. Black Hills was the only company that did exactly what they said they would do from the start. I appreciate the text/photo letting me know who would be arriving and he came right on time. Travis was very polite and professional and answered all of our questions. The installation crew was also very quick and professional and cleaned up afterward. Follow-ups to make sure we were happy with service also appreciated. Awesome customer service
- Jordon C.
Great service, No BS. Our AC was not keeping up, had a feeling it was because of a leaking coil on the inner unit. Was confirmed by Black Hills Inc. and was set-up with an appointment with a comfort specialist. After the survey with the specialist (Bento Yanez), we sat down and discussed options for replacement, turning out that full replacement with a heat pump/ac/new furnace would be the most efficient cost-effective option. Black Hills was able to access all the previous history on our unit since prior homeowners had used them, they could pull up everything that had previous work done. Looking forward to the replacement unit being installed in only 4 days, after the survey.
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Looking for an expert’s insight on your next home improvement project? Our helpful team is standing by to answer questions and be of service.