Althoff Home Services Blog: Posts Tagged ‘Heating’

3 Essential HVAC Tools that Provide Accurate Diagnostics

Wednesday, November 1st, 2017

At Althoff Industries, our priority is not only hiring and training talented technicians but equipping them with the highest quality tools to get the job done accurately. We ensure our technicians are not only well-trained and proficient in HVAC repair and installations but that they have the essential HVAC tools to assist them in the accurate diagnosis of your heating and air conditioning equipment.

While our trucks are filled with many parts, equipment, and tools, there are three HVAC technician tools that we use at every service call. They are the combustion analyzer, draft gauge, and manometer. These tools give us the ability to measure and analyze things happening with the system that cannot be seen by just visually looking at it. Our highly trained technicians understand that the proper diagnosis involves digging deeper to uncover hidden problems that impact safety, performance, and can cause breakdowns.

3 Essential HVAC Tools

1. Combustion Analyzer

A combustion analyzer is a handheld device that looks much like a multi-meter an electrician would use to check circuits. Like blood work being analyzed at the lab, the combustion analyzer gives our technicians all the components of the combustion process at once. The three main components checked are carbon monoxide levels, oxygen levels, and flue temperature. A trained technician knows that having just one of those numbers doesn’t tell you the whole story. It takes putting all the pieces together to accurately understand what’s happening. The purpose of the combustion analysis unit is to measure the percentages of oxygen and carbon dioxide along with the flue temperature. These measurements help our technicians determine whether or not the furnace is operating within the parameters that the manufacturer of the equipment has specified.

A combustion analyzer is important for three different reasons. It can help in determining and achieving optimum fuel efficiency, it is critical for the safe operation of your equipment, and it can ensure your HVAC system is operating within the guidelines of any warranty.

2. Draft Gauge

A draft gauge is a device that verifies that your chimney has proper draft pressure. Improper draft can be caused by lack of combustion air, too much combustion air, outside temperature and wind conditions, or a blocked chimney. A proper draft is critical to make sure the by products of combustion are safely disposed of outside the home. Most companies just assume this is happening correctly, at Althoff our technicians are trained to verify it. HVAC tools like a draft gauge help our technician determine if there are any problems creating these potential draft issues.

3. Manometer

The manometer is a device used to measure differences in pressure. We use this in a couple different ways. First, we use it to measure duct static pressure to make sure that you have proper air flow through the furnace and duct system. Another way is by measuring gas pressure to the equipment. Equipment is rated for certain gas pressures and those outside of those ranges can have very negative effects on performance, safety, longevity of the equipment

Other Trade Tools Used on Daily Basis

The three critical HVAC tools listed above are just part of what technicians need to perform their job on a daily basis. Other such tools may include:

  • A refrigerant recovery machine
  • Hand seamer
  • Swage tools
  • Leak detectors
  • Hand and power tools
  • Tin snips
  • Multimeter
  • Humidity and temperature gauges…and more!

Our technicians in the field often play the role of part technician, mechanic, sheet metal worker, detective, and chemist/scientist. It is why they are so extensively trained and outfitted with the latest equipment. It is not an inexpensive proposition but we take what we do very seriously here at Althoff Industries. After all, it is not just the efficient operation of your HVAC equipment that is at stake. It is also the safety of your family.

When you experience an issue with your furnace, trust the experts at Althoff Industries.

Continue Reading

2 Important Reasons Why Your HVAC Technician Measures Draft

Thursday, October 26th, 2017

One of the most important aspects of your furnace is how it drafts. When air drafts properly from your gas furnace or gas water heater, spent oxygen and carbon monoxide go up a chimney or chimney pipe where it is dispersed outside your home. As most are aware, too much carbon monoxide in an enclosed area can have tragic results. The importance of proper drafting of a furnace can not be overstated for both operating efficiency and monitoring safe conditions.

How do we know, however, that a gas furnace has the appropriate draft pressure and draft intensity to operate efficiently and safely? It can be done using a furnace diagnostic tool called a draft gauge. A modern draft gauge is a digital device that helps a technician conduct a draft test, measuring aspects like draft pressure, draft intensity, backdrafting, and the percentage of oxygen and carbon monoxide. A draft test is a critical part of any furnace maintenance or tune-up.

How Does a Draft Gauge Work?

A differential pressure draft gauge measures the difference in the pressures of the air flowing inside a chimney or ductwork and that of the air on the outside. A draft gauge will not tell our technician what the specific cause of the draft issue is, only that there is some issue causing a draft pressure problem. The technician will then rely on his training, experience, and knowledge to discover the source of the draft problem.

Common Causes of Poor Drafting in a Furnace

A variety of causes can create poor drafting for a furnace. These can include extremes in indoor and outdoor temperatures, blockage of the vent pipe, loss of a vent or chimney cap, high winds, and others. This can cause poor ventilation or backdrafting, causing harmful gasses to spill back into the home.

While a slow or diminished draft can cause safety issues, excessive drafts can create inefficiencies in your furnace. If too much air is delivered to the burner fan, it can result in air leaking into the heating plant. This reduces the amount of CO2 and creates an increased stack temperature. This, in turn, results in poor efficiency of the furnace.

Why a Draft Gauge is often Used with a Combustion Analyzer

A draft gauge is often used with combustion analyzer so a technician can better determine the extent of the poor drafting and see its effect on the air in a room. Depending on the readings of the combustion analyzer, it can direct the technician to check on potential issues with the heat exchanger. It can also be an indication there may be a gas pressure issue or a combustion air problem. A high carbon monoxide parts-per-million reading on a combustion analyzer could also mean that a furnace is recirculating flue products and re-burning them in the heat exchanger. We’ve created a brief video on how a draft gauge and combustion analyzer work together as terrific furnace diagnostic tools in helping direct us to the heart of many furnace issues promptly. This saves us time and you money.

Monitoring Safe Conditions

Many Chicago area homeowners will schedule a fall furnace check-up or tune-up to head off potential maintenance issues in the winter and to ensure their furnace is operating at peak efficiency. Another important aspect of an annual furnace check-up, however, is that it monitors the safety of you and your family. It determines the quality of the draft of your furnace, making sure it is operating without putting harmful gasses back into your home.

If you have yet to have a furnace maintenance check this fall, we invite you to contact the well-trained, well-equipped team at Althoff Industries.

Continue Reading

How Do You Define HVAC Contractor? This Definition Is Pretty Hard To Beat

Wednesday, October 11th, 2017

The Althoff Definition of a Quality HVAC Technician

You probably have seen, read or heard advertisements from HVAC contractor companies in the greater Chicago area that talk about their “quality”. They’ll boast of the quality of their equipment, the quality of their service, and even the quality of the technicians they hire. Quality has become a word that is so overused in the service industry that it often loses its meaning. When it comes to HVAC, through the years, we’ve discovered there is a big difference in what they refer to as “quality”, and what our high standards are at Althoff Industries. Our definition of a quality HVAC technician reaches beyond most HVAC companies in the Crystal Lake IL area.

Treating Problems at the Core Cause

At Althoff Industries, our technicians are trained to find the core cause of a problem. They are not on a mission to “find” problems that may or may not exist. They are not there to sell you something. From the moment an Althoff team member answers your call to the moment we arrive  at your home, we are there to resolve your HVAC problem at its root cause, keep your family safe, and restore comfort to your home. They are there to offer logical options and let you make the final choice. They are often asked, “What would you do?”. In fairness, every family has different budget restraints. Our technicians are there to provide you HVAC options that are safe. The choice is ultimately yours, the way it should be. Don’t let an HVAC contractor sell you on a solution that may be their own best interest.

Why Finding the Core Cause is Important

Our technicians are trained to find the core cause of a problem because without that knowledge, technicians often just treat the symptoms. Our Althoff technicians are there to determine WHY a part failed and WHY your HVAC system isn’t performing properly. When an HVAC contractor tells you you need a new part, they should be able to tell you WHY the part failed. If they say “normal wear and tear” and your furnace is less than ten years old, it should raise red flags. If they can’t offer a logical reason for the part failure and you simply replace it,  you may just soon experience the same failure sometime in the near future.

Technicians, Training, and Tools

Want to hear something you may already know? Some HVAC people are more interested in selling you something than helping resolve your problem. Shocker right? At Althoff, we have a client-centered focus that compels us to determine your problem at its root cause and then offer you the best options to resolve it. No hidden agendas. We do this through good people who embrace our mission. They have families and understand the challenges of dealing with unexpected issues like HVAC maintenance problems. Next, we provide our HVAC technicians with superior training and exposure to the latest available techniques and technology. That technology includes innovative digital tools that can better determine exactly what is going on with your HVAC system. These tools accurately determine the underlying cause of your problem. We are not just guessing. We use precise instrumentation to verify how your system is performing. We know you expect more than an educated guess from a “quality” HVAC company. At Althoff Industries, we deliver.

Discover a Higher Definition of Quality at Althoff Industries

If you have been frustrated with an HVAC technician who “guesses” at your problem, or simply replaces a failed part without being able to tell you why it failed, contact Althoff Industries. Our service technicians are trained and have the latest tools to diagnose your HVAC problem efficiently and effectively. Best of all, they offer honest solutions that can best fit your family’s needs. Expect more and get more.

Althoff Home What Makes HVAC contractors Different

Continue Reading

6 Items to Check Before Calling for Furnace Service

Wednesday, October 4th, 2017

At Althoff Industries, we make our living helping people keep their families safe and cozy with efficient operating HVAC systems. We have built our business and reputation by providing superior service that prevents and resolves issues, not creates them. It’s why many of our customers trust us for their annual furnace tune-ups in the fall. They know our extensive furnace tune-ups provide peace of mind. But furnace tune-up or not, problems can still occur.

Losing heat can be frustrating in winter weather but that frustration can be compounded when realizing, after the fact, that a problem was simple to resolve on your own. If you live in the Crystal Lake area of Northwest Chicago, before you call Althoff Industries or any HVAC company, here are six items you should check.

  1. Check the thermostat setting. Many families will reset thermostats when they leave for work or retire for the evening. Depending on your thermostat, it is possible a temperature setting gets accidentally way low or even takes the thermostat off of the “heat” setting. Before calling for furnace service, take a close look at your thermostat to make sure it is set properly.
  2. Make sure your furnace has power. Even if you use natural gas, your furnace is reliant on electricity. If that electricity is interrupted, you won’t have heat. It may just be that a circuit breaker got shut off for a variety of reasons. Check the circuit breaker for your furnace and reset it if it is in the “off” position. If it immediately pops off again, call a technician.
  3. Check your furnace filter. If rooms are not being heated properly, it could be because fresh air is not getting into the furnace. A common cause is a clogged or dirty air filter that is restricting air flow. Check your furnace’s air filter. You should be able to see through it when held up to a light. A common symptom of restricted air flow is when a furnace “short-cycles”, going on and off far too frequently to be efficient or to provide adequate heating.
  4. Check the pilot light. Gas furnaces have a small pilot light that should be constantly lit to provide an ignition source for the furnace. This pilot light is usually covered by a small door or metal plate near the base of the furnace, near the base of the base of the heating element. If this pilot light is out, you can try to relight it. This can be done by following the instructions on the on/off/pilot control on the furnace and using an extended barbecue grill type lighter or fireplace length match. Of course, if you have any hesitation about relighting your furnace, call a professional technician.
  5. Take note if your gas service has been interrupted. If your gas supply has been interrupted for any reason, the pilot light will need to be reignited. See tip number 4 above.
  6. Your blower motor may not be functioning. In some cases, furnaces may be producing heat, but that heat is not being dissipated through your home because the blower motor is not working properly. Stand by your furnace and when you hear it ignite, you should shortly hear the start of the electric blower motor. You should feel heat blowing from your vents. If you hear the furnace ignite but don’t hear the blower motor start or feel hot air from a vent, it is likely your blower motor. If you are an exceptional do-it-yourselfer, you may be able to replace the blower yourself. We, however, would suggest calling a professional.

A Few Final Tips Before Calling for Furnace Service in Crystal Lake

Winters can be tough in Crystal Lake and Chicagoland area but before you pay for a service call, take the above steps. You may be able to resolve the issue with a few simple checks. If the above steps are unsuccessful, write down the furnace brand name and model number along with the approximate age of your furnace and relay that to your service company. Let them know the steps you took and your results. This can expedite the service call, potentially saving you money.

If you experience a heating problem and need professional help, we invite you to call us at Althoff Industries. We have over 50 years of experience serving Northwest Chicago and have a highly trained staff of technicians with the latest technology to make sure your repair is done promptly and safely. When it comes to the comfort and safety of your family, trust the experts at Althoff Industries.

Continue Reading

8 Common Questions About Annual Furnace Tune Ups

Thursday, September 28th, 2017

This is the time of year many families schedule their annual furnace tune up. We can’t assume, however, that everyone knows what is involved in a furnace tune up or why it is important. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of eight questions and answers about an annual furnace tune up.

Furnace Tune-Up FAQ’s

  1. What is an annual furnace tune up? An annual tune up is a yearly inspection and cleaning of your furnace to look for potential problems and ensure the heating system is operating efficiently and safely. 
  2. When should I schedule an annual furnace tune up? An annual furnace tune up can be done any time, but most families schedule them in the fall, typically around September and October. Scheduling before cold weather hits, when HVAC techs aren’t as busy, makes it easier to get an appointment time that’s convenient for you.
  3. What is involved in a furnace tune up? This depends somewhat on the company that performs the furnace tune up. At minimum, a tune up typically consists of changing the filter, cleaning the furnace, checking electrical connections and voltage, lubricating moving parts, checking burners and ignition, inspection of the condensate drain, chimney, and flue, checking thermostat performance, visually inspecting the heat exchanger, checking and tightening all electrical connections and testing for carbon monoxide. Althoff’s complete furnace tune up also includes a combustion analysis on both the water heater and furnace to ensure they’re working safely, as well as a measure of the draft pressure on the water heater. We also measure ductwork system static pressure to check for leaks, blockages and other inefficiencies in the system. Not every HVAC company does a combustion analysis, draft check and static pressure test, but we include them because they’re the best way to ensure the safe operation of your gas furnace. 
  4. Why is a furnace tune up important? A furnace tune up is important not only for the safety of your family but to also make sure your furnace will perform as intended throughout the cold weather months. It can also help your furnace run more efficiently.
  5. Can I perform a furnace tune up on my own? While there may be some elements of a tune up that the average homeowner could handle, like changing the furnace filter, it’s unsafe to perform a complete furnace tune up without the proper equipment and training.
  6. What should I expect to pay for a furnace tune up? You may see furnace tune up coupons advertising $39 or $49 specials, but be cautious. Many time these coupon specials are nothing more than a way for an HVAC company to get into your home so they can recommend more extensive (and costly) repairs or services. Make sure you select an experienced company with a solid reputation. In the Chicago area, a thorough furnace tune up from a reputable HVAC service typically costs anywhere from $80-$140, depending on what’s included and if there are any special offers.
  7. Is a an annual furnace tune up worth it? A furnace tune up provides several valuable results: 
    • Save on heating energy costs. A regularly-maintained furnace will operate more efficiently, using less energy and saving you money on your heating bills.
    • Keep you and your family safer. A gas furnace that isn’t operating properly can can give off lethal levels of carbon monoxide and even pose a fire hazard. An annual tune up can find leaks and other potential problems so they can be addressed.
    • Prevent inconvenient breakdowns. No one wants to have to call for emergency HVAC service in the middle of a cold winter night. A fall furnace tune up can detect developing issues so they can be resolved before they become serious.
    • Extend the life of your furnace. Dirt and deterioration put added stress on your heating system. A furnace that’s clean and in good working order will last longer and have fewer costly breakdowns.
  8. Why should I choose Althoff Industries for a furnace tune up? Althoff Industries has been serving the Chicago area for over 50 years. Your appointment will be scheduled within a convenient 2-hour window. Our experienced technicians call when they’re on their way and then park the clearly-marked service truck in front of your house, not in the driveway. Your technician will greet you with a smile and a business card and will be dressed in a clean uniform with a name badge. We truly stand behind our work and do not consider a job complete until the customer is completely satisfied with our services. Contact us today to schedule an appointment, or call us at 815-455-7000.

Continue Reading

Sept 25 is National Tune Up Day: Is Your Furnace Ready for Winter?

Thursday, September 14th, 2017

Now that school is back in session and we settle into our Fall routines, it is time to think about the inevitable winter ahead. In fact, September 25 is National Tune Up Day for furnaces across the country. It is particularly important here in the greater Chicago area where our winters can be brutal. What can you do to be a part of National Tune Up Day? First, you can schedule a furnace tune up. The second thing you can do is to use #NationalTuneUpDay on social media to spread the word. This is important because a furnace tune up is not only a matter of ensuring a furnace is operating efficiently, but that it is operating safely as well.

Why Preventive Furnace Maintenance?

A thorough furnace tune up ensures your heating system is clean, operating efficiently and also checks that any impending part failures are addressed. A skilled technician will have the appropriate tools to test gasses to make sure they are safe and that your furnace is vented properly. Notice we said “thorough” furnace tune-up. Many of the $39 and $49 furnace tune-up coupon specials you’ll see this time of year are no more than a promotional vehicle that may just be used to “find” additional problems. This is why it is important you select an experienced company with the proper equipment and training, a superior reputation and a customer-centric approach.

How Often Should You Schedule a Furnace Tune-Up?

If the tune up is thorough, once a year may be sufficient. We recommend you get a furnace tune up in the Fall as we head into the cold weather season. This assures that your furnace is ready for the hard work that it will be performing in the coming winter months, keeping you warm without interruption. That’s why we feel September 25th is an optimal time to remind our customers, and potential customers, to schedule a tune up.

What Should Be Included in Furnace Preventive Maintenance?

A furnace tune should includes this extensive list:

1. Remove dust and dirt from the unit and vents

2. Check and change HVAC air filter.

3. Ensure fresh air intake grills are not blocked.

4. Check blower wheel and motor for efficient and quiet operation.

5. Secure wiring, check all wiring for any damage or wear.

6. Examine all parts for any corrosion or cause of corrosion.

7. Determine that drains and traps are in good condition.

8. Establish that fuel-jets are working efficiently.

9. Analyze combustion gasses and compare this analysis to what is recommended for your furnace.

An HVAC technician goal while performing this checklist should be to ensure you, the homeowner, that you have a clean, safe, and efficient heating system that will keep your family comfortable throughout the winter months.

Will a Tune-Up Prevent Future Problems?

While a furnace tune up cannot guarantee you won’t have problems in the coming months, you will be far better prepared to prevent problems. In many instances, problems may be age-related, meaning the older your heating system, the more issues you may face. That being said, the older your furnace, the more important a furnace tune up can be. Even on newer systems, however, a furnace tune up can maximize its lifespan.

Discover the Althoff Difference

At Althoff Industries, our technicians are trained and provided with the latest technology to appropriately analyze the operation of your furnace. We have built our company not on selling more parts, but by delivering better service. We are customer focused and are proud of our online reviews and testimonials. Before you observe National Tune Up Day with a coupon special, discover the difference with a comprehensive furnace tune from Althoff Industries. Contact us for an appointment for a thorough furnace tune up and enter the winter season with greater peace of mind.

Continue Reading

You May Not Have the Correct Furnace Size: What to Look For

Saturday, July 1st, 2017

We recently received what we refer to as a “no heat” call. It was May so it wasn’t a desperation call, thank goodness, but still an issue. We immediately noticed something different upon arrival at the Park Ridge residence. This home had twinned furnaces that combined for a whopping 190k BTUs of heat and they were connected to a 5 ton condenser. As is our normal procedure, we ran the load calculation and determined that the homeowner only needed a single 100k BTU furnace with a 4 ton condenser. The existing system was simply way over-sized. We were able to install a single, much more efficient system, and the sheet metal was a work of art.

The problem is, this is not as uncommon as it should be. We often see furnaces that are over-sized and can only assume the previous installation was done without a full understanding of what was needed or the installer had some extra equipment to sell. There is more of a science to HVAC installations than most homeowners, and apparently some installers, understand.

Calculating the Appropriate Size HVAC Unit

When deciding the most efficient size HVAC unit, an installer needs to consider multiple factors including:

  • Square Feet: Total square feet of the space to be heated/cooled.
  • Weather Pattern: The climate and length of the area’s hot and cold seasons.
  • Manufacturer Recommendations: Consult manufacturer charts for the appropriate furnace for the space and climate.
  • Orientation: Since windows are not usually evenly distributed on all four orientations, rotating the orientation of a building design by 90 degrees can change the cooling load.incorrect vs correct furnace sizing Chicago
  • Latitude: The sun’s angle changes with the latitude and could affect the size you need.
  • Roof overhang: The roof overhang width matters, as well as the distance between the top of the window and the soffit.
  • Window Coverings: The presence or absence of any window coverings including, blinds, curtains and drapes.
  • Energy Efficient Appliances/Lighting: Appliances give off heat, especially older non energy efficient appliances. Types of lightbulbs used and the wattage can produce significant heat.
  • Mechanical Rate Ventilation: This could vary based on home’s age.
  • Occupants of a home: General rule of thumb is to calculate number of occupants equal to number of bedrooms plus one.

Experienced installers may also consider other factors like available insulation, the specific floor plan and ceiling heights. A trusted installer will not sell you a furnace larger than what you need, saying it’s “more for your money”. The fact is an over-sized furnace will cause you problems.

Issues Related to an Over-Sized Unit

An oversized furnace is no bargain. Especially when it comes to performance.  Here are some of the issues you’ll likely experience.

  • A home that is difficult to keep comfortable. When your home has an oversized furnace it can generate a lot of heat at once, creating an environment that can be too warm. In addition to some rooms heating too quickly, rooms further away from the furnace may not ever seem to get warm enough.
  • Your furnace will “short cycle” – Because a room heats up so quickly your furnace will “short cycle”, meaning it will be in a start up and shut down mode far too often. This creates furnace wear and may ultimately lead to a furnace failure.
  • This will lead to higher fuel costs.  The start up mode is the most expensive running time for your furnace. This means when it is short cycling it is using more fuel than necessary. This will lead to higher fuel costs and inefficiency.
  • An oversized furnace will wear down quicker. If your home does not have the proper furnace size, the furnace it does have will not last as long. It may be tempting to believe that an oversized furnace may not work as hard, but the opposite is actually true.

If you’ve experienced any or all of the above, it is quite possible you too, have an oversized furnace.

Contact Althoff Industries Today!

Having a professional perform a load calculation and install your furnace means your furnace will run as efficiently as possible as long as possible. When your HVAC is properly maintained, it further ensures that efficiency for years to come. Contact the professionals at Althoff Industries for an appointment today – we service all suburbs in the Greater Chicago area. We’ll make sure your system is the appropriate size for your home. If not, we’ll recommend a system that will save you money on fuel while providing a more comfortable living environment. The more you know about your HVAC system, the more you’ll understand the value Althoff Industries brings as your HVAC technician. contact Althoff industries

Continue Reading

3 Reasons Why a Mismatched HVAC System Costs You More Money

Wednesday, June 14th, 2017

There is a reason HVAC companies refer to their equipment as a “system”. It’s because each component is designed to work in harmony to provide efficient heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. The older an HVAV system is, however, the more opportunities there are to end up with a mismatched evaporator coil and condenser. A mismatched HVAC system can often be referred to as a “Frankenstein” system because it is still operating on pieces and parts that weren’t intended to work, or certainly not work efficiently together.

A Question of Economics

For homeowners, it becomes a question of economics when looking at replacing either an air conditioning unit or a furnace. Can you replace one or the other? Yes. There are, however, a lot of reasons you shouldn’t. Here are three ones.

  1. Replacing both units at the same time will save you money long-term. What many homeowners may not realize is that if they replace only the outdoor AC unit, they’ll probably be spending money to replace the indoor unit shortly thereafter. Your HVAC company won’t have a problem with that because you, in essence, will be paying installation costs twice. In the photo used as an example, you’ll see an AC unit that was replaced just two years before the furnace. To make sure the AC unit worked with mismatched hvacthe furnace they had at the time, we had to make use of a wider coil. When we replaced the furnace, the new furnace was not as wide. This means that now the components aren’t properly matched or aligned for optimal airflow. It involved more work and added more expense. Replacing both units would ensure an efficient, dependable system that will function properly for a longer period of time.
  2. Matched systems perform better. When air conditioning units are designed, they are built to work with a matched indoor unit. This matched system works in tandem to generate optimum efficiency and ideal system performance. As mentioned, replacing an outdoor air conditioner unit without installing the matching indoor unit will work. However, you are jeopardizing the dependability of both units. This compromises your HVAC system’s efficiency, which may cost more in the long run.
  3. Efficiency ratings are based on matched systems. When you purchase a new HVAC unit, the heating and cooling efficiency ratings are based on matched system performance. That means, if you bought a condenser with an 18 SEER rating to help you save money on monthly bills, you won’t realize the full potential of those savings without the matching furnace. The wider the difference range between SEER ratings of equipment, the less efficient they will be in working together.

Another Reason Trusted, Reputable HVAC Service is Important

The issue of a mismatched evaporator coil and condenser and a mismatched HVAC system is yet another reason to perform due diligence in selecting your HVAC company. While we will do what we can to extend the life of any system, there is a time when the wiser choice is to simply replace a system.

A matched system will run more efficiently, perform better, last longer, and deliver cost savings well beyond the extra expense. To learn more, contact one of our expert HVAC technicians today! We service homeowners in the NW Chicago suburbs  and would love the opportunity to service your residential home or commercial business.

Continue Reading

Winter Thermostat Settings – What is Best for the Midwest?

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

The debate rages on at cocktail parties and family gatherings. There are some who have an extreme view to the right and those who would prefer people lean left when it comes to the subject. One thing we can all agree on is that in Crystal Lake and the Northwest Chicago area suburbs, winters are cold. So what is the definitive answer to what is the best temperature for a house in winter? What are appropriate winter thermostat settings for your home? The answer may be a bit more complicated than you think.

The perfect winter thermostat settings involve a variety of factors, few of which are scientific or even comparable.

Thermostats are Not Always Accurate

Did you ever follow a recipe to the ‘t’, cook it in your oven and then have it burn? The likely reason is that the temperature setting and the exact temperature in the oven may not match. It happens frequently. Likewise, your thermostat may not exactly provide the temperature it is set to deliver to your home. This causes two potential problems.

The first is that the temperature you have your thermostat set at and the temperature it delivers may not match. This can be remedied by making sure your HVAC professional calibrates your thermostat with the furnace. The second issue is that the thermostat of your friends and neighbors may not be correctly calibrated. This means you may be discussing why one family enjoys a 68-70 range and others prefer a 70-72 range when in reality, the actual temperature is the same. The key is making sure your thermostat is reflective of the actual temperature your HVAC system is providing. We can do that for you at Althoff Industries.

There Is a Difference Between Heating Sources

Electric heat is often described as “dry heat” while natural gas furnaces tend to deliver heat that has more moisture. While there are products that can add humidity to electric heating systems, consumers should be aware of the differences. Comparing comfort levels in a room of the same temperature with dry heat and gas heat will offer different opinions on which is better.

Draft and Air Movement

Another major factor in the comfort of a room is the air movement in the room and if it is “drafty”. A room may be heated to an appropriate temperature but if there are drafts from under doors, through windows or due to poor insulation, the room will not be as cozy as one where there are drafts and invasive air flow.

What’s Best for You and Your Family?

The biggest considerations in the proper setting of your home’s thermostat are the comfort of your family and your energy bill goals. If your family agrees on an environmentally friendly program of wearing sweaters, using blankets, and keeping the thermostat to a certain level, congratulations! If not, there are other steps you can take, like installing a programmable thermostat that will control your furnace when no one is at home. If you live alone or as a couple, “smart” thermostats can be controlled from a cell phone to save energy when you are not at home but can get it warmed for your arrival.

The bottom line is that it is difficult to compare comfort levels with others because thermostats may be calibrated differently, homes have different insulation characteristics, and drafts may be more common in some homes than others.

At Althoff Industries, we can make sure your thermostat is accurately calibrated. We can help you create an indoor environment that uses heat and humidity that results in maximum comfort. We will help you with suggestions to keep your energy costs at a minimum.

If you are tempted to compare comfort levels with friends and neighbors, that is understandable. You should be aware, however, this may be an apples to oranges comparison. It can depend on your thermostat calibration, heating sources, insulation, air movement, and more. The bottom line is that you and your family get comfortable with both your indoor environment and your energy costs. We can help you find that balance when you call Althoff Industries.

Continue Reading