If you’re like most Seattle residents, winter makes you turn up the thermostat, dress in warm clothes, and reach for that extra blanket. But there’s one effect of winter that you may not have considered before—its impact on your indoor air quality . You might be surprised to learn that the cold season affects your household’s air at all, but it does. These are some of the ways in which winter weather influences the quality of your air:
More insulation means more contaminants
Most of us are more likely to notice drafts when it’s cold out, which means we’re more likely to have professional insulation installed. What you may not realize is that making it harder for warm air to escape your home also means that contaminants such as mold and bacteria are trapped inside. As a result, your indoor air quality can decrease drastically after you have your house reinsulated.
A dirty furnace can contribute to poor air quality
When you use your furnace frequently, dust, dirt, and other pollutants can get clogged in the vents. One of the best ways to ensure that your furnace continues to work efficiently—and that your air stays clean—is to change out your air filters once every 90 days or so. If you use your furnace constantly, you may want to change the filter even more frequently.
Pre-winter furnace inspections are a must
It’s important to remember that simply changing your air filters won’t keep your entire furnace clean. Having your HVAC system inspected by a professional before the start of the winter season is a good way to guarantee that your furnace is clean and that all its components are fully functional. A pre-winter furnace inspection will provide you with the assurance that you won’t have to deal with poor indoor air—not to mention a malfunctioning furnace—when the weather is cold.
The Seattle weather’s turning cold and you know what that means—it’s time to call for your annual pre-winter furnace inspection . Having your furnace checked and cleaned every year by an HVAC professional is a must if you want to guard against any midwinter breakdowns. You may be wondering, however, just what a furnace inspection entails. How essential is it? These are some of the tasks that happen during a typical furnace inspection:
Check the Wiring
If your furnace’s wiring needs to be replaced, it’s better to know that before the winter, when you’ll probably be running it regularly. An inspector can check all the wiring in your furnace and replace any of it that has become corroded or worn-out. This isn’t just important to keep your furnace running—it can also help to prevent fires.
Inspect the Vents
Without clear vents, your furnace won’t be able to keep your home comfortable when the temperature falls. In addition to making sure that there are no blocks or leaks inside your vents, an inspector can clean them out to help ensure that your indoor air stays clean and fresh. Your grills and louvers will also be checked during the inspection.
Check the Heat Exchanger
The heat exchanger is perhaps the single most important component of your heating system—after all, it’s where the air that circulates through your furnace is heated. An inspector will examine your heat exchanger to make sure that it is still in good condition, and that it hasn’t become rusted or corroded over time.
Inspect the Drainage System
Your furnace also needs a working drainage system to continue to provide you with great service. When an HVAC professional looks at your drainage system, he or she will check all the hoses, clean out the condensate drain, and replace the water in the trap.
One of the most important steps you can take to keep your HVAC system running smoothly is to have your furnace checked before the weather starts to get cold. A pre-winter furnace tune-up can help to ensure that your Seattle home stays warm and comfortable even when the temperature outside plummets. You may be wondering, though, whether this yearly investment is strictly necessary. Here are some of the advantages of having a pre-winter maintenance check for your home heating system:
You’ll need fewer repairs.
Getting a tune-up greatly reduces the chances that you’ll need to call for emergency repair for your furnace during the long winter months. Maintenance means that you’ll be able to identify and fix small issues before they have a chance to develop into larger problems. Nobody wants to end up paying for a repair that could have been avoided with a simple tune-up, so schedule the tune-up and you can avoid this issue.
You’ll avoid potential hazards.
A furnace with a problem won’t just make your home uncomfortable—it can also be dangerous. If there is a gas leak, it could put everybody in your household in jeopardy. Having your heating system checked over by a professional before the season of heavy use will help to ensure that you can use it safely.
You’ll extend the life of your furnace.
The more frequently you have your furnace checked for small problems, the less likely it is that these problems will add up to a breakdown. Annual system tune-ups help to extend the life of your furnace, sparing you the expense of a replacement.
You’ll keep your heating costs down.
The less efficiently your furnace is working, the more energy you’ll have to expend in order to keep your house warm. Investing in yearly maintenance will help to keep every component of your furnace working at top capacity, allowing you to stay comfortable without breaking your budget.
Having a fireplace insert allows you to enjoy all of the benefits of a traditional fireplace without the expense, inefficiency, and hassle associated with them. If you don’t find yourself making much use of your fireplace—whether because of its condition or because it wastes too much energy—then a fireplace insert may be ideal for your home. You may be wondering, however, how easy it will be to use a fireplace insert regularly. The good news is that fireplace inserts are easy and intuitive to use. All you need to do is switch the insert on in order to have a fire in your fireplace whenever you want one.
If you want to be able to use your fireplace insert safely, it’s essential to make sure that it is installed correctly. Professional fireplace insert installation will allow you to enjoy your insert as often as you want in your Seattle home.
Even homeowners who appreciate the good qualities of fireplaces may balk at the expense of purchasing firewood and the chore of maintenance. If you want to be able to enjoy a fireplace in your Seattle home without any of the drawbacks, consider having a fireplace insert installed. When you have your insert installed by a seasoned professional, you can count on all the advantages of having a fireplace without any of the problems. Here are the answers to questions that homeowners often have about fireplace inserts.
Will an insert fit in my fireplace?
This is actually the first question you should ask before making the decision to purchase an insert. It’s important to make sure that your fireplace is actually the appropriate size for an insert. Do thorough measurements of your fireplace’s height and width—including both at the front and back of the fireplace—to ensure that you don’t inadvertently buy an insert you can’t use.
What kind of fireplace insert should I buy?
You can choose between an insert that runs on wood, gas, or pellets. The type of insert you pick depends on your budget and on how you intend to use it. A wood insert is the best option if you want to replicate the look and feel of a traditional fireplace. Gas inserts can be used in tandem with your current furnace system to help curb your heating expenses. Pellets are an inexpensive option but do require a good deal of maintenance.
What kind of venting do I need for a fireplace insert?
This depends on what type of fireplace insert you have invested in. Wood and pellet inserts generally have the same type of venting as traditional fireplaces. Some types of gas inserts don’t require any venting, while others use chimney venting similar to the kind used by wood and pellet inserts. If you’re using an electrical insert, you will not need to worry about venting it at all.
Are you concerned that your central air conditioning system isn’t working as well as it could be? If your utility bills are high or if you need to run your AC for long hours to keep your Seattle home at a comfortable temperature, there are some steps you can take to make your system more efficient. You might begin by buying a programmable thermostat, which keeps your bills lower by ensuring that you aren’t cooling your home when you’re asleep or when nobody is home. You should also change out your air filters regularly—at least once a month during periods of heavy AC use. Don’t forget to have your system serviced from time to time by an HVAC professional. For more tips, check out this video.
Olson Energy Service recently celebrated its 90 th year in Seattle, where our family owned and operated company continues to offer exceptional HVAC services every day of the year. Our motto is “We Are Here to Serve,” and we take pride in providing our customers with quality work by certified and factory-trained technicians. We are also a preferred Diamond Contractor, a title awarded by Mitsubishi Electric to its most expert contractors. Being a Diamond Contractor signifies that we adhere to the highest standards of training and expertise, and that we provide our customers with an outstanding level of customer service. Every technician on our staff has been licensed, bonded, and insured, and our team offers emergency service 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for your convenience. When you’re in need of professional HVAC service at your Seattle home, you can always count on our skilled technicians to give you the state-of-the-art care you deserve.
While traditional water heaters use a tank to heat water, tankless water heaters heat water on demand. If you’re thinking of installing a tankless water heater in your Seattle home, you may be wondering whether the investment is worth it. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about tankless water heaters.
Do tankless water heaters use less energy than traditional water heaters? Yes. Because tankless water heaters don’t have to keep water heated constantly, they don’t need to use as much energy as standard water heaters do. This is both good for the environment and good for your household budget. With a tankless water heater, you can enjoy hot water whenever you want without having to be concerned about wasting energy.
Will a tankless water heater cost a lot to operate? While tankless water heaters cost more to install than standard water heaters, they also cost less to operate on a regular basis. According to Energy Star , households that install tankless water heaters can expect to save at least $100 a year on their HVAC expenses.
Do tankless water heaters require a lot of space? In fact, tankless water heaters take up much less space than most standard water heaters. While traditional water heaters tend to be large and bulky, a tankless water heater is compact and can be installed in virtually any part of your home. Many homeowners appreciate the versatility allowed by tankless water heaters, which can be placed anywhere from garages to attics.
Will it be more difficult to get hot water with a tankless water heater? You might be concerned that you won’t be able to get heated water as reliably with a different type of water heater, especially if you have a large household where more than one person might need hot water. There’s no need to worry: A tankless water heater will allow you to get hot water from multiple taps—such as your shower tap and your kitchen sink tap—at the same time.
Your air conditioning unit needs just the right amount of refrigerant to continue to function properly—neither too much nor too little, in other words. If your AC unit is low on refrigerant, the most likely cause is a leak. If you have reason to think that there could be a leak in your AC unit, you should call an air conditioner contractor in the Seattle area so that your leak can be tracked down and repaired. These are some of the most likely signs that your AC unit may have sprung a leak.
Your utility bills are unusually high. When there’s a refrigerant leak in your system, your AC unit has to run for more hours to keep your household at a comfortable temperature. You’ll see the expensive results of this when your electric bill arrives. If you want to ensure that the cost of cooling your home doesn’t get out of hand, always be quick to respond to any suspected AC leaks.
Your home isn’t staying cool. If you keep running your air conditioning and your house is still uncomfortably warm, a leak could be the culprit. When your AC is low on refrigerant, it’s much more difficult for it to effectively cool the air inside your home. If the air coming out of your registers is warm—or if there isn’t much air coming out at all—that’s another strong sign that your AC doesn’t have enough refrigerant.
There’s ice on your refrigerant lines. If there’s a refrigerant leak, the copper wire line on your outdoor AC unit can become covered with ice—even if it’s hot outside. When your AC has low refrigerant, it causes the remaining refrigerant to become too cold and cause freezing in your evaporator coil. To avoid expensive damage to your compressor, turn off your AC unit right away and call an HVAC professional.
In the ever-evolving world of home heating and indoor comfort, one technology continues to stand out: fireplace inserts. Fireplace inserts combine traditional aesthetics and charm with modern convenience and efficiency, offering numerous benefits to homeowners who make this upgrade. Explore the top fireplace inserts to consider and the many benefits they offer.
How Do Fireplace Inserts Work?
If you already have a wood-burning fireplace, you may wonder why you should install an enclosed combustion system in the existing fireplace opening. Consider that with traditional open fireplaces, much of the generated heat escapes up the chimney.
In contrast, a fireplace insert captures more heat and directs it into your living space, making your home warmer and more energy-efficient. Many inserts even come with a blower for better heat distribution. You can use a fireplace insert to convert your open, wood-burning fireplace into an enclosed system or upgrade to a gas or electric heat source. This makes inserts one of the most affordable ways to add a modern, convenient fireplace to your home.
Types of Fireplace Inserts
You have three main types of fireplace inserts to choose from:
Wood fireplace inserts are the perfect fit for those who want the authentic experience of a wood-burning fire. They provide a crackling, glowing ambiance while significantly improving heat efficiency and reducing emissions compared to open wood fireplaces.
Gas fireplace inserts are known for their convenience and ease of use. Operating on either natural gas or propane, these inserts provide a steady source of heat with the flick of a switch. The flame effect closely imitates the visual allure of a real wood fire, appealing to homeowners who prefer a traditional aesthetic.
Electric fireplace inserts are the epitome of ease and versatility. They do not require venting or a dedicated fuel source beyond an electrical outlet. These inserts offer a variety of modern flame effects and often come with convenient features like remote controls, timers, and thermostats.
Benefits of Installing a Fireplace Insert
If you’re trying to decide if installing a fireplace insert is worth it, consider these numerous advantages:
- Reduced heat loss: The ability to heat your home more efficiently is the primary reason most people install fireplace inserts. This makes it possible to heat your home in a traditional way but with far lower energy bills and more even heat distribution.
- Updated aesthetics: Fireplace inserts provide a fresh, updated look to your hearth without the need for extensive renovation. This, in turn, upgrades the aesthetics of the entire room with a beautiful new focal point.
- Ease of use: With simple controls and minimal maintenance, fireplace inserts are designed for convenient operation. Wood and gas inserts can even be used during power outages, keeping your home warm and lit until the power is restored.
- Health and safety: Fireplace inserts are safer and healthier than traditional open fireplaces. They produce fewer emissions and particulates, improving your home’s indoor air quality, and are much less likely to ignite a chimney fire.
- Design versatility: Whether you’re drawn to the charming wood-burning look, the convenience of a gas flame, or the sleek lines of a modern electric fireplace, you can find an insert to match your style.
Designing Around Your Fireplace Insert
A fireplace insert transforms your hearth completely. With surrounds ranging from classic black to embellished cast iron or nickel, the visual impact hinges on the size of the insert relative to the existing firebox. Depending on your chosen style, you can tailor your decor to highlight the insert’s unique qualities.
If you’re considering an electric fireplace insert, consider that freestanding versions lack a surround, leaving visible space between the insert and the firebox walls for a unique look. The design considerations for electric inserts extend to the power outlet location. Plug-in models may display visible cords running to a nearby outlet, although they offer the flexibility of burning wood in the original firebox during power outages. Alternatively, hard-wired electric inserts provide a cleaner look but permanently alter the fireplace’s functionality, which impacts heating capabilities during power outages.
Choosing the Right Fireplace Dealer
When considering a fireplace insert, it’s crucial to consult a trusted local dealer to ensure compatibility with your existing fireplace opening. That’s where Olson Energy Service comes in. As a family-owned and operated business serving Seattle since 1926, we are committed to your safety and comfort. Our decades of experience, dedication to quality, and personalized service make us the go-to option for all your fireplace insert needs.
Call us today at 206.782.5522 or contact us online to schedule a fireplace insert installation estimate in Seattle, WA. We’re here to serve, and we’re excited to help you discover the perfect fireplace insert for your home!
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