Posts Tagged ‘blog’

Common Heating System Warning Signs

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The right time to have your heating system inspected to ensure its state of readiness for winter is before the heating season gets underway. In fact, with annual preventative maintenance, you’ll get a lot more mileage from your furnace, and save bunches of money on your utility costs.

Still, even with ongoing maintenance, the older your system gets, the more likely it is to exhibit signs of needing repair. Over the years, these are the symptoms our customers are most likely to call and report:

  • Heating costs that are through the roof
  • Uneven temperatures from room to room
  • The system frequently cycles on and off
  • You need to raise the thermostat higher and higher just to stay warm and comfortable
  • Your furnace making strange, loud noises that are hard to ignore
  • You or other members of your family are getting sick more often, a possible clue to low-level carbon monoxide emissions

What do these heating system warning signs have in common? Two things:

  • They’re signs of an aging system, one likely to be at least 10 years old.
  • They indicate the need for immediate professional attention to figure out what’s going on and take the appropriate action, whatever that might be.

At GBT Heating & Cooling, we tell it like it is. Maybe, for example, your system just needs a replacement filter. You’d be amazed at how much trouble a clogged, dirty filter can cause.  And that’s a simple, very affordable fix.

On the other hand, something more serious be causing your furnace to act up. If, in our opinion, it makes sense to repair it because otherwise it appears to be in good shape, we’ll so advise you. Conversely, if we think it makes more sense to replace your system for your family’s improved comfort, safety, and energy savings, that will be our recommendation.

Whatever the outcome and your ultimate decision, don’t wait any longer than necessary before reporting a heating system problem to us. Because whatever might be going on, it can only get worse.

Or, if your system is running just fine and you want it to keep it that way, contact GBT Heating & Cooling today for our furnace cleaning and inspection service. It’s the best way going to ensure trouble-free performance, all winter long.

How to Prevent Home Heating Problems

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You expect a lot from your heating system, which really means you expect a lot from the people who built, installed, maintain, and repair it.  After all, your heating system is only as good as the people whose hands have touched it. Yours included.

Here are just a few of the ways you can help it perform better, more energy efficiently, and with fewer repair problems to foul your mood:

Clean or Replace the Filter

For best results, your furnace filter should be cleaned or replaced about every 60 days.  Maybe 60 days isn’t often enough…maybe it’s overkill. But you won’t know the right schedule until you make it a habit. The point is to remove the dirt, dust, and other particles that restrict airflow and cause your furnace to work harder you keep your home and family warm.

Give it a Fighting Chance

As a mechanical system, your furnace faces a limited future to begin with: roughly speaking, 12 – 15 years. But you can help yours run better and last longer by following these simply DIY tips:

  • Keep all vents and registers unblocked to allow unhindered airflow
  • Consider adding one or more additional zones and replacing all outdated thermostats with programmable models. By taking some of the strain off your furnace, you’ll reduce wear and tear and start seeing lower utility bills.
  • Let the sunshine in by opening window treatments during the day. Come nightfall, close your shades or drapes to retain the added warmth you’ve gained during the daylight hours.
  • Check your window caulking, weather-stripping, and insulation for gaps that could be allowing cool air in and warm air to escape.

Add a Ceiling Fan or Two

Ceiling fans are much more than nice decorative touches.  By running yours during the winter, heat will rise to the ceiling and be pushed back down where you need and want it. In the process, you’ll be able to lower your thermostat setting without losing an ounce of comfort.

You’ll also help your own cause by contacting GBT for our very thorough furnace cleaning and inspection service. It’s designed to prevent most repairs, extend the life of your safety, lower your home heating costs, and provide you and your family with added safety. For more information or to request service, contact GBT Heating & Cooling today.

How to Prevent Heat Stroke in Dogs

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Heat stroke occurs when your pet’s internal temperature becomes dangerously high, generally about 106 degrees F. It can stem from being locked in a hot car, or to over-exercising in a hot and/or humid environment. Either way, it leads to a cascade of very serious conditions that can result in brain damage, organ failure, and death.

Dog Heat Stroke Prevention

On hot, humid days, keep your pets indoors, except to answer their calls of nature. If keeping them outside isn’t an option, provide plenty of shade and fresh water, and that the water can’t be spilled. You might even set up multiple bowls or sources of drinking water. You can even add ice cubes to the water bowl to keep it cooler longer. If you have to leave for a while and your pet must remain outdoors, plan ahead so they don’t lose access to shade.

If possible, limit your pet’s outdoor activities to early morning and late evening.

Next, and we know it goes without saying, but never leave a pet unattended in a parked car, even for “just a minute.” Sometimes, you become unexpectedly delayed and, in a stressful situation, people have been known to forget about their pets and then regret their mistake, regardless of the consequence.

Signs of Heat Stroke in Dogs

Here’s what to look for as signs your pet may be suffering from heat stroke:

  • Body temperature of 104-110 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Heavy panting
  • Rapid pulse or heartbeat
  • Bright or dark red gums & tongue
  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive drooling
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of coordination
  • Seizures
  • Glazed eyes
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Unconsciousness 

Once you take note of one or more these symptoms, first try to lower the body temperature by moving your pet to a cool area. Cooling procedures should begin before driving to the vet. You can soak your pet with cold water, but not ice cold as that can make things worse. If you have one, use a fan to accelerate your dog’s recovery.

After that, get your pet to the vet just as quickly as possible, but be sure to call ahead so they can adequately prepare.

Adults can get heat stroke, too, but the last place that should ever happen is inside your own home. So, if your air conditioning system just isn’t holding up or you’re ready for your first central AC system, contact GBT Heating & Cooling today to request a free in-home comfort analysis and new system proposal.

How to Keep Allergens Out of Your Living Room

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We could write a novella on all the different ways to eliminate and reduce the number of allergens that routinely haunt your indoor living spaces. But very few people would read all that, and certainly not in one sitting.

So instead, today we’re going to show you how to turn your living room (or similar space) in an allergy-free zone for your family’s great comfort and enjoyment.

  • Get rid of the wall-to-wall carpeting. Yes, it looks nice and feels nice on your bare feet or when you’re laying down on the floor. But wall-to-wall carpeting is a natural breeding ground for dust, dust mites, and all kinds of things you’d rather not encounter up close. Instead, convert to hard-wood flooring or washable area rugs. Regardless of what kind of flooring you have, vacuum regularly with a machine that is made with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter. Nothing works better at trapping all kinds of indoor air pollutants and preventing them from blowing back into the room.
  • Leather vs. fabric upholstery. Not sure how you feel about leather furniture, but if you’re serious about getting rid of indoor allergens, you need to get rid of chairs and sofas covered in a cloth fabric. If that’s not currently an option, vacuum your furniture regularly.
  • Window treatments. For best results, cover your windows with currents and blinds made of plain cotton or synthetic fabric. Also, consider replacing horizontal blinds with washable roller-type shades.
  • Keep your windows shut. During the pollen season, you’ll do well to keep your windows shut and your AC system on.
  • Encourage your inner green thumb. If you’ve always felt you could do a better job of growing and maintaining house plants, now’s a great time to get back in the game. That’s because there are certain varieties that work wonders in ridding your indoor air of bacteria and other indoor air pollutants. Boston Ferns, Spider Plants, Areca Palms, and Weeping Figs are just a few of several known varieties.
  • Keep your pets clean. Consider bathing pets at least once a week as it will reduce the amount of allergen in the dander they shed.
  • Switch to a gas-burning fireplace. Avoid use of wood-burning fireplaces or stoves because smoke and gases can worsen respiratory allergies. Most natural gas fireplaces won’t cause this problem.

While these are all effective measure at controlling your home’s allergen population, no one lives just in their living room. So, if you’re looking for a whole-house solution, contact GBT Heating & Cooling today to learn more about our several improved indoor air quality solutions. We’re confident there’s one that’s just right for your home, family, and budget.

Do I Have High Indoor Humidity?

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Great question, and there’s probably a very good reason why you’re conducting online research on the subject. That reason? Perhaps it’s because your indoor comfort levels don’t feel right, or you don’t feel right, and whatever’s causing your discomfort, you want it fixed!

So, is the problem – whatever it might be – related to high indoor humidity? The answer is probably “yes” if you observe any of the following:

  • Your home’s humidity is over 55 percent. Just like you have thermostats to read and display indoor and outdoor temperatures, you can purchase a hygrometer to provide indoor humidity levels. When it hits 55% or higher, you’re living in the “discomfort zone”.
  • It feels warmer than it actually is. Just like outdoors, high indoor humidity makes the air feel thicker and stickier than normal. To compensate, you’re likely to lower the thermostat, but that won’t get rid of the excess humidity. Instead, your AC system will incur added wear and tear, you’ll pay more to cool your home, and you won’t feel a whole lot better.
  • Allergy symptoms are exaggerated. Homes with high humidity are breeding grounds for dust mites and mold, two of the most common indoor allergens. If you notice a worsening of your allergy symptoms – or the onset of symptoms where before there weren’t any – and you haven’t made any changes to your AC system, high humidity could be the cause.
  • Floors and other wooden objects or surface are damage. Ever notice how doors that closed perfectly during the winter suddenly need an extra little shove to open and close during the summer? That’s high humidity “Exhibit A”. And so is floors and furniture that warp, guitars that go out of tune, windows that are harder to open and close, and so on.

What’s a home owner to do when faced with high humidity and its myriad of problems? First, you could replace your AC system. The older the system, the less able it is to remove excess humidity from your home. If, on the other hand, you don’t want to make that kind of investment now, then your next best option is to install a whole-house dehumidifier, one that lets you choose the relative humidity settings where you feel the most comfortable. For more information about a replacement AC system or a whole-house dehumidifier, contact GBT Heating & Cooling today.

Save Time with these House Cleaning Shortcuts

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Spring has sprung so it’s time to open your windows, let in some fresh air, and jump right into spring cleaning. Doesn’t all sound like fun, does it?

Well, lest you think we’re here to take all the fun out of spring, allow us to share some time-saving shortcuts to your normal spring cleaning regimen.  

  1. Steam up your microwave. Cleaning dried on food splatters from the microwave can be a time-consuming task, but a little steam can make it all go simpler and faster. Simply boil a cup of water in the microwave to create a steam bath that will soften the dried-on gunk.
  2. Vacuum window treatments. Give your curtains and drapes a quick cleaning – in between washing or taking them to the dry cleaner – by vacuuming them with the upholstery attachment. You can do the same for your blinds and pleated shades.
  1. Use rubber gloves to ball up pet hair. Getting Fido to stay off the couch may be a losing battle, but cleaning up pet hair doesn’t have to be. Just put on a pair of rubber gloves and wipe your hands over the area. The pet hair will ball right up for fast and easy disposal.
  1. Dust walls and ceilings with microfiber mop. Eliminate the need for a step ladder by investing in a microfiber mop with a long handle.
  1. Use a pillowcase to dust ceiling fans. Keep the dust under control by sliding a pillow case over each blade. When you pull it back, you’ll end up dusting the blade and sending the dust inside the pillow case instead of onto your floor.
  1. Clean your toilet with denture tablets. You read that right. Just drop a few denture tablets into the toilet bowl and walk away. Come back in about 5 minutes and flush. You’ll get a deep anti-bacterial clean that requires no effort at all.
  1. Clean your dishwasher with a pantry staple. Even your dishwasher needs a good cleaning periodically to remove food scraps, soap residue, and more. Place a dishwasher-safe cup of white vinegar on the top rack of your dishwasher.  Run it through a full cycle on the hottest water setting possible and voila! You’ll have a sparkling clean dishwasher without using harsh chemicals.

Spring is also the perfect time to have your AC system professionally cleaned and inspected so it’s up to the challenge of keeping your cool and comfortable this summer. That’s a spring cleaning chore we excel at, and we’re ready to our skill and experience to work for you, too. For AC preventative maintenance at its best, contact GBT Heating & Cooling to schedule service now.

How to Prevent Problems with Your AC System

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If you’re a firm believer in the “leave well enough alone” outlook on life, we’re pretty sure we can change your mind, at least when it comes to your home air conditioning system.

In this case, leaving well enough alone means neglecting recommended and much needed preventative maintenance – both the kind performed by a licensed HVAC professional plus the kind of DIY maintenance steps you can carry out on your own.

What sort of neglect are we talking about?  Here are the usual culprits:

  • Not cleaning or replacing the filter every 30 – 60 days – something any home owner can do with ease.
  • Not having your system professionally cleaned and inspected once a year – even your system manufacturer recommends that to help you derive full value from your purchase. Plus, failure to have preventive maintenance performed could void your manufacturer’s warranty.
  • Allowing clothing, draperies and even furniture to block the flow of cool air.
  • Ignoring telltale symptoms of repair issues, like soaring utility bills and loud, banging noises coming from your air ducts.
  • Not keeping the area around your outside condensing unit free of shrubbery and other objects that can impair its performance.

How can system neglect come back to bite you in the toe?  Here’s how:

  1. Unnecessary repairs, the kind that could have been prevented through regular care
  2. Higher utility bills
  3. Polluted indoor air
  4. Hot and cold spots throughout your home from inconsistent airflow
  5. Shorter system lifespan

As you can, leaving well enough alone with your AC system is a recipe for disaster.

To obtain full value from your investment in more comfortable indoor living, contact GBT Heating & Cooling today to schedule our multi-step cleaning and inspection process: your best assurance of enhanced system performance, fewer repairs, lower energy bills, and a longer system lifespan.

How to Make Your Garden Grow Naturally

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Most of us love a fertilizer that doubles the size of your plants or spikes the number or fruits or flowers they bear. But is using chemical fertilizers really worth the excess?

If you say “no”, then you discover now how to make your own plant fertilizers.

DIY Miracle Grow:  Start by making a concentrate: 1 gallon of water, 1 tbsp. of Epsom salt, 1 tsp. of baking soda, and ½ tsp. of household ammonia. Once you’ve mixed all the ingredients you can mix a ½ cup of the mixture with 4 cups of water. Next, add 1 tbsp. of powdered milk (which helps stimulate root growth). Give it to your plants once a month and watch them grow!

Compost “tea”: This is a liquid that is made from any compostable material, but can be made with just egg shells, bananas, and coffee grounds. After you have about a mason jar full, add warm water and let it penetrate and sit until cool. Strain out the solids, and use the “tea” to water your plants.

Weed tea: Weed tea is just like compost tea, but uses yard and garden weeds. Weeds often have deeper roots than tender grass or a newly planted garden, so they already have absorbed much needed nutrients. Don’t throw them away! Instead, prepare to give your garden a boost of nutrients, including nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, boron, copper, manganese, sulfur, iron and silicon. How do you do that?  Gather about a pound of weeds and tie them into a cheese cloth or a pair of panty hose. In fact, create as many bundles as you need to cover your garden.  Then add a gallon water to each one and let it sit for two weeks.  It won’t smell great, but it will work wonders, the all-natural way.

Here’s another way to allow nature to work in your favor.  If you have chronic cold symptoms inside your own home or suffer mightily from allergies, you’ll find that certain kinds of plants can rid the air of the very bacteria and other pollutants that are making you sick.  Boston Fern, Peace Lily, and Chinese Evergreen are just three varieties of bacteria-eating indoor plants.  Or, for a more permanent and far-reaching solution to your indoor air quality problems, contact GBT Heating & Cooling and ask about a whole-house air filter.  You’ll be amazed at how much better you’ll feel, night and day.

Clean Floors Help Improve Indoor Air Quality

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For thousands of local home owners, indoor air quality is a daily concern. If it isn’t already, it should be, because the very allergies you attribute to other causes could very well be the result of polluted indoor air.

This isn’t just a local problem, either. Across the nation, the EPA has determined, indoor air is, on average, twice as polluted as outdoor air and can be up to 100 times more polluted. Which means that even if you aren’t experiencing any symptoms now, why take chances?

One way you improve the quality of your air at home is to your floors as clean as possible. Here are a few suggestions we know you’ll find helpful:

• Vacuum. Chemicals and allergens can get trapped and remain in household dust for decades. So, the idea is to stop the accumulation with regular cleaning. By using a vacuum with a HEPA filter, you can reduce concentrations of lead in your home. You can also get rid of other toxins, like brominated fire-retardant chemicals (PBDEs) along with allergens like pollen, pet dander, and dust mites.
Using a vacuum cleaner that has strong suction, rotating brushes, and a HEPA filter ensures that dust and dirt won’t get blown back out in the exhaust. In high traffic areas, vacuum the same spot several times. Don’t forget walls, carpet edges, and upholstered furniture, where dust accumulates. For best results, vacuum two or more times each week and wash out your filter regularly.

• Mop. Mopping picks up the dust that vacuuming leaves behind. You can skip the soaps and cleaners and just use plain water to capture any lingering dust or allergens. Microfiber mops and dust cloths typically capture more dust and dirt than traditional fibers and don’t require any cleaning solutions to perform at their best.

• Keep it out. Put a large floor mat inside every door leading into your home. People track in all sorts of chemicals via the dirt on their shoes. A door mat reduces the amount of dirt, pesticides, and other pollutants that might otherwise get past the entrance. If the mat is big enough, even those who don’t wipe their shoes will leave most pollutants on the mat. It’s also a good idea to take your shoes off upon entering your home, and don’t be shy about asking guests to do the same.

If you’re doing your best to keep a clean house but still have indoor air quality issues, contact GBT Heating & Cooling today so we can recommend the right solution for your entire family. Our whole-house air filters, for example, can trap more than 99% of the pollutants attempting to pass through them.

Home Heating Safety Tips

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If the sounds of fire engines and other emergency vehicles sound strange to you during the winter, they shouldn’t. Winter is prime time for house fires, and much of that is caused by the way we heat our homes.

The good news is that, with a little planning forethought, most home fires are preventable. Here are a few steps worth following for your added peace of mind.

Fireplace Safety 

  • Keep the fireplace area free of any flammable materials.
  • Leave the glass fireplace door open while burning a fire to ensure proper air circulation and prevent creosote from building up on the chimney walls.
  • Always fully extinguish the fire before leaving the house or going to bed.
  • Have your chimney cleaned annually by a trained chimney specialist.

Space Heater Safety

  • Choose one that has the UL (or comparable) safety seal of approval.
  • Only plug in one heat producing source into the same outlet at a time, and avoid using extension cords with space heaters.
  • Keep at least 3 feet of space between your space heater and flammable materials such as bedding, draperies, and upholstered furniture.
  • Do not leave a space heater on when you are not in the room or after going to sleep, even if the space heater is in your bedroom.

Furnace Safety

  • Keep your furnace operating effectively and efficiently by keeping vents clean and free of debris.
  • Do not store combustible materials such as gasoline, paint thinners, propane, and pesticides near your furnace; plus, keep the area clean and unobstructed.
  • Be aware of unusual odors or sounds coming from your furnace or registers.
  • Have your furnace inspected and cleaned once a year by a qualified HVAC technician.

GBT Heating and Cooling is dedicated not only to your family’s year-round indoor comfort, but your added safety, as well.  That’s why we encourage and perform annual heating system preventative maintenance.  During our inspections, for example, we tighten all electrical connections to help prevent an electrical fire.  We also inspect heat exchangers for any signs of carbon monoxide leakage. And those are just two of the safety measures we employ.

Has it been a year or longer since your furnace was last professionally inspected.  If so, we invite you to contact us today to request service.