You can’t see it. You can’t smell it. You can’t touch it. Carbon monoxide (CO) is called a ‘silent killer' because the highly poisonous gas is odorless and colorless. It mixes with air and if it is breathed in, it can cause brain damage or even death. The most common cause of a carbon monoxide outbreak in homes is an older furnace or appliance that is not burning the natural gas properly. Because of the high risk, every home with a gas furnace or gas appliances needs to have carbon monoxide detectors.
Be aware of the common sources of carbon monoxide
Carbon monoxide is produced when fossil fuel (like natural gas) is not fully burned. This happens as a result of a malfunction or the lack of proper venting. Common sources include:
● an idling vehicle in an attached garage
● attached garage passageway door to your home is left ajar
● cracked or damaged furnace heat exchanger
● chimneys on fuel-burning appliances needing to be cleaned or repaired
● heated garages or shops with improperly vented equipment
● barbecuing indoors
● depressurization (inside air is exhausted from your home faster than outside fresh air can come in)
Recognize the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning
Exposure to carbon monoxide is very risky to your health and with enough exposure, it is fatal. Properly installing carbon monoxide detectors in your home will protect you from experiencing these symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning:
● muscle weakness
● shortness of breath
● blurred vision
● loss of consciousness
If you experience something like the flu without a fever, it could be carbon monoxide poisoning. If you experience these symptoms, get outside into the fresh air immediately, seek medical attention and then contact your preferred home services company.
Stop the silent killer
● Get an annual inspection of all your fuel-burning appliances by an expert technician from your preferred home services company.
● Install a carbon monoxide alarm near all sleeping areas (if your home has any fuel-burning appliances, furnace, fireplace, or attached garage).
● For added protection, install a carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home.
● Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installing and maintaining your carbon monoxide detectors.
● Never use outdoor fuel-burning equipment (generators, patio heaters, barbecues) inside your home or garage as a temporary heat source.
If your carbon monoxide alarm sounds and someone is experiencing symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, get outside immediately and call 911.
If the alarm sounds, but no one is experiencing any symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, shut off all your gas appliances (and/or the main gas shut off valve), ventilate your home and contact your home services company. You need a qualified technician to determine the cause of the carbon monoxide outbreak and the solution.
Protect your family from carbon monoxide poisoning. If you have a gas furnace or any gas appliances, be sure to install carbon monoxide detectors in your home, and have your furnace and gas appliances inspected annually.
Do you have a natural gas furnace, stove or any gas appliances in your home? If you do, it’s important to know how to detect a gas leak because you do not want a gas explosion in your home.
In February 2019, a natural gas leak inside a home in Ontario Canada caused a massive explosion that rocked an entire neighborhood. The blast completely levelled the house and leaving only a huge, flat pile of rubble. Twenty surrounding houses were damaged by the sheer force of the explosion and flying debris, with the nearest four houses sustaining heavy structural damage that needed to be repaired before residents could return home. Tragically, one person was fatally wounded, and it’s fortunate that many more were not.
Fortunately, house explosions are not common. And if you know how to detect a gas leak, you can use your senses to detect a leak. Use your nose, eyes and ears.
Use your nose
Natural gas is naturally odorless, but your gas utility adds an odor to it so that you will know right away if there’s a problem. A sulphury, rotten egg smell is the surest sign that you have a gas leak, maybe a small leak around your stove, water heater or furnace.
Use your ears
If gas is leaking from a pipe, appliance, or behind a wall, you may hear hissing or a whistling noise. Sometimes you can hear this hissing sound from a loose connection. The louder the whistling noise the more substantial the leak.
Use your eyes
You can spot damaged or loose connections. If it doesn’t look right, call your gas utility.
If you have a gas stove, the flame should burn blue. If the flame is more orange or yellow, the burner is not getting enough oxygen and it is not completely combusting the natural gas. It’s okay if the flame is initially yellowish-orange as long as it turns blue. Turn off burners if the flame is not burning blue.
Houseplants with wilting or yellowing leaves, especially near a gas fireplace or appliance, could be a sign of a leak as natural gas will prevent plants from taking in carbon dioxide. Dead patches of grass in your yard could indicate an underground natural gas leak.
If you suspect a natural gas leak
Do your nose, ears or eyes lead you to believe you have a natural gas leak? Take it seriously and follow these steps immediately:
Remain calm and act quickly—you’ll need to leave your home and go outside
Shut off the main gas valve if you know how
Open windows as you leave
Once you’re a safe distance from your house, call your gas utility immediately
If you suspect a natural gas leak, always call your gas utility first. After the emergency is dealt with and the gas has been shut off, you can contact a home services company about repairing the leak.
When summer days get hotter, air conditioning can be so awesome! It feels so good to escape the heat and cool down in the comfort of your home. At least it feels good and cool until the first skyrocketing energy bill comes in. Then things really heat up! How can you keep your house cool but also save money on the cost to cool it? We’ve checked with the energy experts and HVAC technicians, and found seven tips to help you stay cool and save money on air conditioning.
1. Set your thermostat to a reasonably good temperature. Before setting your thermostat to 72 degrees because that’s room temperature, keep in mind that we tend to dress in lighter clothes during the summer. Try slowly raising the temperature in the range of 73 to 79 degrees to see what’s comfortable for your house. The U.S. Department of Energy specifies 78 degrees as the ideal compromise—cool enough and saving you money. Every degree you go up from 72 saves you three to five percent on your air conditioning energy costs.
2. Raise the temperature whenever you leave home. Whenever nobody will be home for two or more hours, you can save energy by raising the temperature by seven to ten degrees. The Department of Energy says doing this consistently will save you as much as 10 percent on cooling costs.
3. Save money at night. When you sleep, your core body temperature lowers. So you may be able to raise the temperature a bit at night, especially if you use lighter sleepwear and lighter bed coverings.
4. Switch to a smart thermostat. You can program a smart thermostat to raise the temperature ten degrees during the day when everyone is at work and then lower it 30 minutes before the first person returns home. Some smart thermostats have even more advanced features to help you truly optimize the temperature setting to save you the most money.
5. Seal up the leaks. The older your home, the more likely cold air is seeping outside. Install new weatherstripping and caulk around doors and windows. We recommend getting a home energy audit from your utility provider to find all these leaks and to find the best things you can do to make your home more energy efficient.
6. Replace older air conditioning units with energy-efficient models. Just like newer furnaces, today’s air conditioners really do work much more efficiently than older ones. If you fear you’re paying too much to keep your house cool, it would be worth asking an HVAC salesperson about your options.
7. Call an HVAC technician to tune-up your air conditioning unit. Regular inspection and maintenance is vital to keeping your air conditioner working at its best. If you suspect that it’s not cooling properly, a technician will be able to determine whether there’s a problem other than it’s a really hot summer.
Follow these tips and you’ll save money while keep your house reasonably cool this summer.
Your home’s HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Condition) system runs 'round the clock, 24/7, all year long. You can’t expect it to last forever, but you can expect your furnace to last for about several years—depending on the model, you may get 15-20 years out of your furnace and 10-15 years out of your air conditioner. It's a big investment to replace your furnace or air conditioner, so we have five tips for you to try to extend the life of your HVAC system.
1. Schedule two HVAC tune-ups per year
Contact a home services company to give your furnace a tune-up in the fall and your air conditioner a tune-up in the spring. This preventative maintenance usually includes a good inspection, cleaning, lubrication and any necessary adjustments.
2. Change the air filter regularly
Disposable fiberglass filters should be replaced every 30 days, but check your filter and furnace manual to see how often you should be replacing the filter. A dirty filer will make your HVAC system work harder to circulate air and that can cause extra wear on the system.
3. Clean your ducts
Be sure to keep the return air vents clean and prevent the build-up of dust and debris. You might also want to have your ducts professionally cleaned so that your system is delivering the cleanest air possible.
4. Give the HVAC system a break sometimes
Does your HVAC system really need to be running almost 24/7? Can you give it a break when you’re on vacation? On a cool evening could you open the windows and give the a/c the night off? You’ll be saving energy and giving the system a break.
5. Upgrade your insulation
The better your home is insulated, the less your HVAC system will need to run to maintain the temperature. The first place to check for sufficient insulation is your attic.
When to Replace Your HVAC System
Even if you follow these tips and take good care of your HVAC system, eventually it will need to be replaced, but when? If you’re approaching the projected end of life for the unit, you can’t go wrong replacing it because you will be saving money with the new, more energy efficient replacement. But if you want to prolong the system as long as possible, contract with a reliable home services company for your annual tune-ups and then ask the HVAC tech for their input on when to replace. Be honest with them about the maintenance you’ve carried out on the unit—even if that means confessing that sometimes you didn’t replace the air filter for a season or two. Hopefully you can get to know the techs from the home services company and get to where you can trust their input on when to replace your furnace or air conditioner.
Take good care of your HVAC system and it may well last longer than the average lifespan, but also know when to replace it before it becomes unreliable or so inefficient that it’s costly to keep it running.
Is your central air conditioning failing to battle the heat and keep you cool inside? If you turn down the thermostat to 75 degrees, is the air conditioner able to cool down to that temperature or does it work all day slowly getting there? We have three tips to cooler central air conditioning in your home, and two of them are do-it-yourself.
1. Call in an HVAC service tech once a year
If you want your air conditioner to keep your house cool for many summers to come, the best thing you can do is have an HVAC service tech test the unit every spring, clean and adjust it. They are best equipped to go over everything that could be preventing your conditioning from blowing the coolest air possible. To save money, sign up for an annual HVAC maintenance contract to service both your air conditioner and your furnace. This is the gold standard, but if you want to do it yourself there are two things you can do.
2. Clean return air vents and replace filters
HVAC techs constantly recommend changing your air filters regularly and they’re not just making this up to sell more filters. Replace an air filter and you can see for yourself how dirty it is from trapping dust and debris. The more clogged the filter, the less air flow and the less cool your air conditioning will be. During months of high usage, replace filters monthly. Be sure you know where your return air filters are located—sometimes there’s only one alongside the furnace, but there can also be a filter at each return air vent. While you’re checking those return air vents, be sure to vacuum them thoroughly to remove all dust.
3. Clean the condenser coils on the outdoor air conditioner
Go outside to your air conditioning unit and make sure it is free of obstructions such as grass, weeds, vines and globs of leaves and debris. Though a professional HVAC service tech can do this better, you can clean the condenser coils. First turn off the power to the unit. Next, get yourself a bottle of dish detergent, ideally one that is about 80 to 90% empty. Fill it with water to make a soapy solution. Then squirt this soapy solution on the outside front of the air conditioner. You should be squirting through some kind of vents or caging to the condenser coils. On most units these are visible on three sides. Get them soapy and after a few minutes of soaking time, use a garden hose to spray the soap away. You’ll see dirty water and debris flow away from the unit. Give it an hour to dry up before restoring the power.
A message to all customers from the company President, David Dickerson
We are in unprecedented times here in our great nation, state, and city. Dickerson has been serving our community for over 30 years and we are ready to serve the needs of our customers and team members while doing our best to protect the needs of the community at large. Safety is one of our core values and is a high priority at Dickerson every day.
Dickerson provides a vital role in maintaining the health and safety of our community. Therefore, we will remain open during this time of social distancing. If your AC is broken, we will be there to fix it.
I want to share our plan to address concerns and answer questions that you may be asking. Below is our process moving forward until further notified.
If you need service, please call our main line at (770) 445-2700.
We will be following cleaning protocols recommended by CDC and state agencies. Any team members that have fever, or showing signs of sickness, or who have been known to be exposed and not protected will be asked to remain at home.
Service call precautions
We are open and running calls to homes. We want to be there in case of emergencies and make sure we keep our customers safe and comfortable at home. We also need to take caution to protect our team members and make sure they stay healthy as well.
When you call in, our office staff will be asking if anyone in the home has a fever, been diagnosed or had exposure to the virus. We need to know so that we can be proactive with our team’s response and level of protection. We will have some team members who do not want to be exposed to a high-risk customer and we will respect those wishes. We will also have team members who are willing to work in that environment so that we can respond to those in most need.
In most cases we can troubleshoot equipment from outside, in a crawl space, or in attics and basements with minimal face to face contact. We will be following protocols to maintain a safe work environment by wearing gloves and disinfecting work areas in the home and in our trucks after each call.
You may be asked by a technician to speak via video or Facetime and we may ask that you help control the thermostat while we are stationed at the equipment. We ask that you work with us so that we may provide the services needed.
We will be running maintenance calls during this time. If you are scheduled already, we plan to come but you are welcome to reschedule so please let us know. We will call before coming and go over any precautions that we need to discuss. As mentioned above, we can often work on equipment with minimal contact. Filters inside the home will need to be changed and we intend to do so. Please be aware we will wipe down surfaces we have come into contact with during this time.
System maintenance is still very important and does not need to be put off for too long or ignored all together.
Who is working on your heating & air conditioning system?
These articles show the risks of hiring unlicensed contractors to do your HVAC work. You can save a little money up front but if something goes wrong will you be able to find the person responsible? Will they be able to perform warranty work? What happens if they get injured on your property and do not have valid insurance?
Benefits of HVAC maintenance include:
Your equipment experiences wear as soon as it is first used. Over time, moving parts can break. Belts can crack. Bearings may need supplemental lubrication. Our technicians check these issues to make sure that your system is functioning appropriately. Dealing with frail parts before seasonal use can save you the frustration and expense of a mid-summer or mid-winter malfunction.
Some issues can cause serious problems for your compressor. Both low refrigerant levels and dirty coils can lead to the freezing of your coils. If this issue isn’t dealt with in a timely way, permanent damage can occur. Additionally, each of these issues can lead to higher bills and poor cooling during the summer months. Maintenance can save a lot of money while ensuring a comfortable home environment during the summer.
Improving your Indoor Air Quality:
Dirty coils and ducts can cause serious air quality problems in your home. We offer high quality filtration systems and full home duct cleaning & dryer vent cleanings!
Energy Usage Concerns
Your tune-up provides the perfect time to ask a heating and cooling professional about your high energy bills. While maintenance service can improve your home’s performance, there are additional issues that can play a role in high bills and poor comfort levels. Our technicians may bring some issues to your attention based on their observations.