Althoff Home Services Blog: Archive for the ‘Water Heaters’ Category

Should I Repair or Replace My Furnace?

Wednesday, December 20th, 2017

Regular maintenance goes a long way in extending the life of your furnace. There are points, however, when even a well-maintained furnace may need replacing. Like any other appliance, furnaces don’t go on running forever.

Here are signs that it may be time to replace your furnace.

5 Furnace Replacement Signs

1. Your furnace is old enough to drive.

Once your furnace reaches 15 years of age, it’s beginning to live on borrowed time.

Even if your 15-year-old furnace seems to be operating properly, you may notice escalating heating bills. Once you start repairing an aging furnace, those repairs often become more regular, extensive and expensive.

That’s not to say that a well-maintained furnace may not last five or ten years longer. Still, the 15-year lifespan serves as a guidepost to prepare for repairs or replacement. Like an aging car in need of constant repair, there will be a time you need to decide when to draw the line and replace it.

2. Your home doesn’t feel as comfortable as it once was.

Are you reaching for your coat even when you’re indoors? Are the kids bundling up for dinner? Are you constantly adjusting the thermostat because your living room is warm but the bedroom feels like the North Pole?

Poor and uneven heating are common symptoms of furnace problems. If your furnace is still young, it may only need a simple furnace filter change or other routine maintenance.

If you have an aging furnace, however, it may be time to budget for a replacement.

3. Your furnace is becoming the soundtrack of winter in your home.

A well-operating, efficient furnace should be almost imperceptible when it’s running. At the very least, it shouldn’t attract attention to itself.

Rattling, screeching, clamoring, popping, and rumbling noises are likely signs your furnace has an issue and needs professional attention.

If the furnace has reached the 15-year milestone, these sounds may be a cry for a furnace replacement.

4. Your heating bills are climbing.

If your rates have stayed steady and it’s not an extraordinarily cold winter—yet you still notice higher energy bills—your furnace may be picking your pocket and it needs to go.

Higher energy bills are a common motivator for furnace replacement. This can ultimately prove a prudent decision as opposed to repair. If your bills are climbing now because of an inefficient furnace, they aren’t going to suddenly become cheaper.

5. Your house has never been comfortable in the winter.

If your home has never quite seemed comfortable during the winter months, the problem could be drafty windows or poor insulation. But, it could also mean your furnace was never properly sized or installed. In the Greater Chicago area, contact Althoff Industries and we’ll help you determine what can be done or if a furnace replacement will solve your problem.

Repair or Replace?

Even when a furnace replacement is necessary, it’s not all bad news. A new furnace will operate quietly and more efficiently. Many of our customers experience savings so significant, they tell us they wish they’d replaced their furnace sooner!

If you suspect your furnace is reaching retirement age, call Althoff Industries at (815) 455-7000. We serve customers throughout the Greater Chicago area, and can help you determine whether your furnace is worth saving or replacing.

This information is provided as a general guideline. Althoff Industries does not assume any liability resulting from the provided information.

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A Clog Free Condensate Line Keeps Your Property Safe from Water Damage

Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

Next to the safety of your family, the highest priority of the team at Althoff Industries is to make sure your property is protected from damage from your HVAC system. To help ensure that, one of the routine maintenance tasks we perform on every clean and check and repair is to make sure the condensate line is clear.

What is the purpose of a condensate line or drain, how does it get clogged, and what can be the result if it does clog?

The Role of a Condensate Line

Many homeowners don’t understand that their air conditioner not only cools the air it treats but it dehumidifies it as well. On a humid day in Chicago, as much as five to 10 gallons of water can be removed from the air. This water is funneled into a drip pan and then removed through the condensate line to the outside of your house or to a drain inside the home.

How Does a Condensate Line Become Clogged?

Even if you are diligent in keeping air filters clean and even if you have a whole house air cleaner, dust and dirt can still collect in and around your HVAC system. The moisture that is removed from the air can serve as a “dust magnet”, attracting dust and dirt particles into the drip pan and eventually the condensate drain. If not cleaned, this can clog the condensate line.

What are the Potential Ramifications of a Clogged Condensate Line?

If the condensate drain is clogged, the water in the drip pan has nowhere to go and will overflow. This can cause damage to your HVAC equipment, flooring, and walls. If not promptly corrected, it can even lead to mold, which can be expensive to remediate. You are far better off having your condensate line cleaned with your annual furnace maintenance and HVAC check.

Cleaning the condensate line is a relatively simple task, yet some HVAC companies won’t perform a condensate drain cleaning unless a clog is apparent. At Althoff Industries, we understand that clogs usually don’t just occur overnight, they develop over time. By cleaning the condensate line on every visit, we are conducting proactive maintenance to prevent a potential problem in the future. We’ve created a brief video explaining condensate drain cleaning if you’d like to learn more.

If you have any questions about your HVAC equipment or would like to schedule an annual furnace maintenance clean and check, we invite you to give us a call. Next to the safety of you and your family, protecting your home is our next highest priority.

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Why These 3 Things are Important to HVAC Combustion

Wednesday, December 6th, 2017

You don’t have to be a mechanic to own or operate a vehicle. Some knowledge, however, can be valuable when encountering an issue or even when purchasing a car. Likewise, you don’t have to be an HVAC technician to own a home with a furnace but having some basic knowledge can help keep you safe and help you make better decisions when it comes time for repairs or an HVAC replacement.

Homeowners, for example, should understand the basics and importance of combustion. If you have any gas appliance, whether it is a water heater or furnace, combustion is taking place in your home on a regular basis. You certainly want it to occur efficiently. It is critical that it takes place safely. Knowing how combustion takes place and why a combustion analysis with draft gauge measurement is so important can be helpful.

The Three Components of Combustion

The three components to maintain combustion are fuel, heat, and oxygen. If any one of these is insufficient, combustion won’t occur.

  • Fuel – As it relates to your natural gas furnace, the fuel is the natural gas itself. We tend to take the supply of gas for granted but corrosion and debris impede the supply of fuel to your furnace.
  • Heat – The heat to your furnace is generally supplied by the igniter on your furnace. Your thermostat controls when the igniter will supply heat to the natural gas based on the temperature it is set at. If the ignition source fails, safety features will keep gas from flowing into the combustion chamber.
  • Oxygen – Air that is supplied to your furnace or water heater provides the necessary oxygen to complete the combustion triangle. High-efficiency furnaces will have air pumped directly into the combustion chamber from the outside. Less efficient furnaces will draw in air through louvers in the furnace cabinet. If this air is restricted the furnace can’t operate efficiently and may not ignite at all.

Along with the three components of combustion, draft is also critical to the safe and efficient operation of any gas appliance. That is because, after combustion, carbon monoxide and flue gasses need to be removed from the home. The proper draft is important in removing these gasses. This is why our Althoff HVAV technicians perform a draft check and combustion analysis on each service call.

Our technicians use three tools to ensure the safe operation of your HVAC system. A recent short video we created helps demonstrate the importance of these tools as a way to diagnose your equipment.

Your HVAC equipment may be the largest mechanical component of your home. Make sure it is operating safely and efficiently. For a furnace clean and check, professional repairs, and for recommendations on the most efficient equipment to choose for your application, we invite you to contact the professionals at Althoff Industries. We are here to keep you safe and comfortable.

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Will an Air Purifier Minimize My Allergy Symptoms?

Thursday, June 8th, 2017

There are plenty of myths about how to best clean the air in your home. Some people believe a good HEPA air filter will do. Others suggest an air purifier. Still others say that perhaps there is nothing you can do, especially when it comes to allergens. The Chicago area has experienced medium to high pollen levels throughout the spring and forecasts call for it to continue. If you or someone in your family suffers from pollen-related allergies, the following may help.

Will My HVAC Filters Help?

The answer is yes, but to a limited degree. HEPA filters provide more stringent cleaning than standard filters but when it comes to allergens, your basic filters provide limited protection. These filters are designed to keep airflow moving unobstructed to your HVAC system, not in removing dust or allergens from your home.

What is an Air Purifier?

While HVAC filters remove contaminants from clogging your HVAC system, and do, in fact remove larger particles from the air, an air purifier or air cleaner is designed to remove contaminants from the air in a room. A HEPA filter in particular is designed to pass the air in a room through it multiple times, removing increasingly smaller particulars from the room.

Will an Air Purifier Help with my Allergy Symptoms?

Again, the answer is yes, but probably only to a limited degree if you are not taking other steps. Your first goal should be to limit your exposure to allergens.

  • Avoid spending time in the outdoors, where you may breathe in allergens or even have them collect on your hair and clothes.
  • Take a shower before bed so you will not transfer allergens to bedding and your pillows.
  • Make sure all filters in your HVAC system are cleaned and/or replaced often, at least once every three months.
  • If someone in your family has severe allergies, consider replacing carpeting with solid flooring material like wood, wood-like flooring, or tile flooring. This will keep allergens from collecting in carpeting and being redistributed during vacuuming.
  • Furniture can gather allergens so make sure yours is cleaned regularly.
  • Keep your windows closed at home, even when the weather is tempting you to open all the windows. This is really important in the spring when flower and tree pollen is highest.
  • Take spring cleaning seriously. Allergies are a good reason people take the time to thoroughly clean their homes. It works. It also helps to keep the air clean with the appropriate filtration devices.

If you have taken the above steps and are still suffering significantly, it is a good idea to contact the indoor air experts at Althoff Industries. Depending on your home, your HVAC system and your specific allergen related issues, Althoff can design a system using a variety of the latest technologies to removed allergens, dust and dust mites from your indoor air. Without the proper air filtration and purification system, many homes are simply recycling dirty air. Help is just a phone call away.

The Althoff Difference

At Althoff Industries, we aren’t interested in selling the latest trendy devices. We have built our reputation and our company on providing solutions that work. This includes air cleaner and air purification systems that perform in concert with your HVAC system to provide a healthy environment for you and your family. Are you experiencing runny noses, sneezing, red or watering eyes, or seem to be constantly dusting your home? We may have the solution for you. Contact Althoff Industries and enjoy cleaner, healthier and more comfortable air in your home.

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