Riley Heating & Air Blog: Archive for the ‘Blogs’ Category

What You Need to Know about Humidity in Your Home

Thursday, June 17th, 2021

You’ve heard the term “humidity” used in describing the weather.

Someone may say “there’s a lot of humidity in the air today” or “it’s a humid day.” However, humidity doesn’t just affect the weather. It can also impact your home.

Humidity drops on window glass

Humidity Inside the Home

Humidity is the amount of moisture in the air, and it can vary inside the house just like it can outdoors. It changes when you turn on or off a heater or air conditioner because they can dry out the air. It may increase if you open a window or take a steamy shower.

Your level of humidity also varies by room. The kitchen and bathrooms are likely to be more humid than your bedroom and living area. Water from baths and showers as well as that used in cooking can change the level of humidity in the area.

How Humidity Affects the Home

The level of humidity can have positive and negative effects on your home. Since much of your house is made of wood, humidity can impact how it functions. A dry room with little humidity can cause wood to contract whereas a room with high humidity may have boards expanding. You’ll notice this if you have a wood floor.

High humidity causes bacteria to grow. You may see tiny areas where black spots are forming. This can be an indication of mold caused by high humidity. The mold will continue to grow once it’s formed, and it can spread throughout the room.

You do need some humidity to keep your home from being too dry. When there’s no moisture in the air, it can cause wood to dry out and crack. However, you need to monitor the level of humidity and make sure it stays at the right level.

Recognizing Humidity Issues

If you see condensation forming, it’s an indication that you may have issues with humidity. For instance, you may see it on windows. It just means the outside air is hitting the warmer inside air. You can install double-paned windows and caulk around them to reduce this problem.

Good ventilation will reduce humidity in the air. For instance, you can open the bathroom door when you’re done with your shower to get rid of excess humidity.

Dealing with Major Humidity Problems

Sometimes high levels of humidity are caused by an underlying issue. For instance, a leak in the roof or foundation can allow water in. The humidity from the water can allow mold to grow. Moisture from the ground under a crawl space can get inside while a sealed fireplace can also provide entry for extra humidity.

You may not always be able to identify the source of your moisture problem. Often the issue is under the ground, in the attic or elsewhere that you can’t see. You may notice the effects through mold and mildew as well as wood that cracks or beads of water forming in certain areas.

You can test the humidity levels throughout your home. If you discover the level is too low, run a humidifier. If they are too high, you may need a dehumidifier. However, you might still want to contact a professional if you don’t know what’s causing the change. They can do an inspection of your home and tell you where the problem lies and how to fix it.

Your furnace or air conditioning system may also be the culprit of excessive levels of humidity in your home if they aren’t working correctly or have leaks around where they enter the house. You can improve the air quality of your home with a new system. Chat with us online or call us at 334-298-1278 to find out more about how our products can modulate the humidity in your home and provide a comfortable, healthy living space.

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Thermostats – The Newest Energy Saving Tools

Monday, June 14th, 2021

Are Smart Thermostats a Smart Choice?

The newest breed of thermostat is more than just a high tech energy saving gadget. Many are actually fun to use. Connected appliances that send text messages when the refrigerator door is left ajar or the wash cycle is finished are smart and trendy home updates, but the smartest new device is a programmable thermostat that uses a suite of remote sensors to learn a family’s occupancy habits and sleep schedule.

The U.S. Department of Energy says that homeowners who lower thermostat settings when asleep or away from home can shave as much as 1% from winter heating bills for each degree lowered. In Phenix City, where July and August temperatures routinely top 90 degrees, similar savings would result from raising the thermostat setting while out of the home in the summer months.

Because waking up to a cold house in the winter or returning to a hot home in the summer isn’t a comfortable experience, many homeowners fail to take advantage of these potential savings. A programmable thermostat, however, eliminates any periods of discomfort by making temperature adjustments prior to the homeowner waking or arriving home from work. According to Consumer Reports, the proper use of a programmable thermostat can save the average homeowner about $180 each year.

Are Smart Thermostats Easy to Program?

Programmable thermostats have been available for many years, but the process of programming one was often a chore. Small screens, poor screen illumination and non-intuitive programming sometimes added to the difficulty. In 2009, the EPA’s ENERGY STAR program, which certifies energy-saving consumer products as a non–regulatory way to reduce air pollution, stopped providing the ENERGY STAR label to these devices for exactly this reason.

New thermostats are very easy to program. They are Wi-Fi connected and can be accessed through any home computer or smartphone. The bright, clear screen of the smartphone or computer monitor becomes the programming screen for the thermostat, and the programming steps are easier to understand than ever before.

Will Smart Thermostats Work With Every System?

A smart thermostat is suitable for use with almost any heating or cooling system. Although off-brand systems may require some tinkering, well-known HVAC systems like Carrier can be connected to the new devices by homeowners in as little as 20 minutes.

How Can I Learn More About a Smart Programmable Thermostat?

Our technicians at Riley Heating and Air have been providing HVAC solutions to Phenix City, AL and surrounding communities in eastern Alabama and western Georgia for more than 40 years. Call today to learn how the newest smart thermostats are easy to operate. The money you save on your heating and cooling bills could be enough to pay for several months of your smartphone contract each year!

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What To Do When Your Air Conditioner Constantly Runs

Wednesday, June 9th, 2021

Many air conditioning systems are so quiet you never notice the gentle hum that tells you they’re working.

You may hear a “click” when the system kicks on and never think anything about it. However, you’ll pay attention when it starts to feel like the house never gets cooled out even when your unit is working.

Check Your Thermostat

The first thing you should do if you notice your air conditioning unit never shuts off is to look at your thermostat. Notice where it’s set. An AC system can only cool down your house to a certain level, and you may be asking too much of it. This system works by removing hot air and replacing it with cool air. If you set your thermostat too low compared to the outside temperature, it’s going to be working all the time with less than optimal results.

For instance, it may be 90 degrees outside. If you set your thermostat to 75 or even 72, you’ll notice it works harder to keep up as the temperatures go up. However, it will shut off once the temperature inside the house reaches that 72 or 75-degre mark. If it’s set to 65 or even lower, it will have to work longer and may not ever get the house as cool as you want. The difference between the inside and outside temperature is too big.

Look for Air Leaks

Even if you have the thermostat set at a reasonable temperature, the AC won’t reach that goal if you have leaks in your house. Make sure doors and windows are closed. Look for leaks around the windows or doorways as well as other areas where air can enter the house.

You may want to install curtains that keep the heat out, especially if you have large windows. The heat can penetrate inside the house through the glass even if the windows are kept closed.

Clean the Filter

If you have a dirty AC unit, it will have to work harder to do its job. Clean the filter and have the system serviced regularly. It’s best to service your air conditioner every spring before the weather gets hot. A service technician can replace the filter and check other components to let you know if something will need repaired. It’s better to know then than to find out on the hottest day of the year when your unit stops working.

Sometimes none of these quick fixes will help. Your air conditioner will still run and your house won’t be as comfortable as you would like. If your system is older, it may simply not be as efficient or as powerful as you would like. It may also be an indication that your older system needs to be replaced.

Contact Riley Heating and Air Conditioning for AC repair or to get an estimate on a new system. The team at Riley can diagnose your problem or give you a quote on a new AC unit. Don’t sweat it out this summer when a new system will help you keep your cool all season long. Call us today at 334-298-1278.

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Optimize Your Indoor Air with Solaris®

Monday, March 29th, 2021

Solaris® indoor air quality products bring outdoor-like freshness to your entire home while making the air healthier by removing allergens, germs, and airborne toxins in the HVAC airstream.

Although people associate air pollution with the outdoors, indoor air quality in the Columbus and Phenix City areas is often much poorer than the quality of the air outside. In fact, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that levels of indoor pollutants may be two to five times greater than levels of outdoor pollutants. However, our technicians at Riley will be able to conduct indoor air quality testing and perform HVAC services to greatly improve the air in your home quickly and efficiently.

We recommend the Solaris Air ionizer. It’s an electronic air cleaner that reduces ultra-fine particulates and freshens the air by breaking down odors, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other chemical/molecular contamination.

The Solaris Ionizer makes it possible to remove the microscopic particles known as nano-particulates that would otherwise pass through filtration. These are particles so small and light they remain suspended in air, are able to evade normal breathing defenses and can enter into the lungs and in some cases the bloodstream. When installed just prior to the filter, the microscopic particles are drawn into the HVAC system. The ionizer, which generates more than 320 million ions per cubic centimeter, statically charges the particulate causing large groups of them to gather and be captured in the nearby filter. When installed in HVAC air ducts supplying conditioned air to living spaces, the ions cause the same grouping of particulate. Some groups will be drawn into the HVAC air return, and some will simply fall out of the air.

What are the sources of ultra-fine air contamination?

  • Smoke, smog, ultra-fine atmospheric dust, coal soot
  • Common household odors from cooking, cleaning, and laundry, exercise and bathrooms.
  • Home improvement projects
  • Very fine suspended dust particles, even airborne rubber particles scrubbed from tires on highways and roads.
  • Agricultural activity, including fertilization
  • Industrial / construction / demolition activity
  • Engineered nano-particles found in everyday items such as cosmetics, building materials—even some fabrics shed them

Additional benefits of the Solaris Micro-Particulate Air Ionizer

  • Contributes to the reduction of microbes, allergens, and filter disinfection (when installed adjacent to a filter).
  • Enhances the filter’s effectiveness and efficiency.

Solaris Air Ionizer Features

  • > 320 Million +/– ions/cc
  • 6 ft. quick-release power cord included.
  • Connects to any 24 VAC transformer or any existing 24 VAC IAQ product.
  • Wall plug-in adapter available.
    Magnetic mount included.
  • Use individually or as part of a Solaris Whole House Component IAQ system.
  • Lifetime system warranty.

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Carbon Monoxide Detection this Winter

Wednesday, January 8th, 2020

A Tip for Staying Safe During the Cold Weather | Carbon Monoxide Safety

If you have gas appliances in your home or office, a Carbon Monoxide Detector is a must have. These detectors will go into alarm if the slightest amount of Carbon Monoxide is detected due to heating equipment failure.

It is recommended that a Carbon Monoxide Detector be installed in each level of the home. If you have a single level home, it is wise to install the detector near sleeping areas. There are several types of Carbon Monoxide Detectors available. Most of which you can get from a local home improvement store for $30.00 or less. Installation is simple and they are very accurate. If you already have a Carbon Monoxide Detector in the home, make sure you test it yearly as instructed by the manufacturer. It is also recommended to replace Carbon Monoxide Detectors every 5-7 years.

Carbon Monoxide poisoning is very dangerous and can lead to sickness or even death. Awareness can be a life saver. Take a moment to think about your friends or loved ones who may have gas appliances in their home and ask them if they are protected!

If Carbon Monoxide is suspected, open windows and doors, turn off any gas appliances, and exit the structure immediately to get fresh air. If serious symptoms occur like dizziness, headaches, shortness of breath, etc., seek emergency help asap.

Otherwise, call a professional appliance repair company for an evaluation of your heating equipment. An inexpensive yearly check-up from a licensed professional will help decrease potential life-threatening hazards.

Have any questions? Call us at 334-298-1278

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Holiday Home Preparations For Happy Entertaining

Saturday, November 16th, 2019

Twinkling lights, festive music and colorfully wrapped presents add to the joy of the winter holidays, but for most people, it’s the opportunity to celebrate with friends and family that makes the season so special. Whether you’re hosting a family feast, entertaining friends or getting ready for overnight guests, you want your home to look its very best. You also want to provide a safe and comfortable environment for the people that mean the most to you. Use these tips to ensure that your home is fully prepared for the holidays.

Keep It Warm and Cozy

If you haven’t yet scheduled seasonal maintenance for your heating system, don’t delay any longer. The last thing you want is for your heater to fail when the weather turns frosty and your home is filled with your favorite people. Preventive maintenance offers you a number of money-saving benefits too. Your heating system will operate more efficiently, reducing your monthly heating costs, and because well-maintained heating systems last longer and need fewer repairs, you’ll save money down the road as well.

Keep It Clean

While you’ll need help from a pro to make sure your heating system is in tip-top shape, you can help optimize your heater for winter by regularly changing the air filter. A dirty or clogged filter not only forces your heating system to run longer than necessary but impacts your indoor air quality (IAQ) as well. The filters that come with most heaters are relatively inexpensive, so pick up a stack of them so that you can change them at the first sign of dirt.

Keep It Safe

Whether from seasonal candles, too-dry Christmas trees or overloaded electrical sockets, the number of residential fires in Alabama and Georgia increases dramatically during the winter months. These strategies from the Federal System Information Center can help you prep your home against fire hazards:

  • Christmas Trees: Never place your tree near lit candles or heat sources like heaters, heating vents or fireplaces. If using an artificial tree, make sure that it is flame retardant.
  • Lights: Inspect lights for frayed wires and broken sockets before stringing them up around your home. Avoid linking more than three light strands to a single electrical outlet.
  • Decorations: Ensure that indoor and outdoor decorations are nonflammable. Never dispose of wrapping paper by burning it in a fireplace. It could clog the flue and cause an explosion.

Keep It Healthy

Instances of carbon monoxide poisoning increase significantly during the winter season as well. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you protect your family and guests from the colorless, tasteless and odorless gas by installing CO detectors. The Carrier® CO Alarm is a good option. It uses advanced sensor technology to monitor CO levels and alert you with a loud, audible alarm when dangerous levels of CO are present. To learn more about CO detector installations, preventive heater maintenance or additional home improvement tips, contact Riley Heating and Air Conditioning today, and have a safe, healthy and comfortable holiday season!

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What to do if Your Furnace Won’t Start

Sunday, November 10th, 2019

When the days get shorter, it is a sign that winter and cold weather is upon us. It is important that your furnace work as it was designed in order to keep your home warm and comfortable. When the furnace fails to start, you may feel a sense of panic and wonder is my furnace broken. Before calling a repair specialist, there are some troubleshooting steps that you can take that may resolve the problem.

If Your Furnace Won’t Turn On…

  • Check your thermostat. Ensure that the thermostat is in the “Heat” position and that the temperature is set to a level higher than the current ambient temperature inside your home.
  • Check for power. Even if you have a gas furnace, it may require electricity. Modern units use an electronic ignition system that requires power to open supply valves and ignite the burner unit. Blower motors and exhaust fans also require electricity. Locate your electrical panel and verify that the circuit breaker controlling your furnace is in the on position. Reset the breaker if it has tripped.
  • Check the gas supply. Verify that the shutoff valves are in the open position. The top of the valve being parallel with the supply line indicates that it is open.
  • Check the pilot light. If you have an older system with a standing pilot light, ensure that it is lit. Follow the instructions in your owner’s manual for relighting the pilot if it is out.
  • Check the condensate pan. A safety switch will prevent the furnace from activating if the condensate pan is full. Empty the pan. Clear any blockages in the pan drain line.
  • Check the blower and exhaust fans. As a safety precaution, the furnace will not activate if these fans are not operational. The fans prevent a buildup of heat, exhaust gases and carbon monoxide. Listen for the control panel or thermostat to signal that the furnace should activate. Listen for the fans to come on. If they do not operate, the burner unit will not light.

Prompt Service Matters

If your furnace troubleshooting steps fail to resolve the problem, call Riley Heating & Air at 334-298-1278. We will gladly schedule a convenient time for one of our service technicians to come by and inspect your furnace.

We are committed to providing prompt service, including emergency calls, during the winter heating season.

We also offer a wide range of heating and cooling services such as preventative tune-ups, repairs and installation. You can call us with any concern that you may have. We look forward to helping you restore comfort to your home.

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Importance of Cleaning the AC ‘s Condenser Coil

Monday, November 4th, 2019

The Importance of Cleaning the AC Unit’s Outdoor Coil

Your air conditioner is a somewhat complex machine with many components that work together to keep your home cool. If there’s an issue with any single part, it can drag down the system as a whole. That’s why cleaning and maintaining your air conditioner is so important. To get the best performance out of your AC unit, it is also important to regularly clean the outdoor condenser coil.

What the Outdoor Unit Does

To understand the importance of the condenser coil, it helps to know how your air conditioner works. Your air conditioner moves heat out of your home and replaces it with cool air. Hot air flows over the indoor (evaporator) coils, where the refrigerant absorbs that heat, causing it to evaporate. Special conduits then carry that gas to the outdoor unit, where a special pump called a compressor forces the gas, under high pressure, to return to liquid form. The extra heat that is created in this process is passed outdoors via the condenser coils. As a result, the gas cools and changes back to a liquid state. The refrigerant releases that stored heat outside the home, leaving the cooler air for indoors. This cycle repeats continuously in order to keep your home cool.

How Cleaning Helps

Hand cleaning air conditioner condenser coils

Because the whole purpose of the outdoor unit is to release heat outside your home, having good air flow is essential. The better the air flow, the more efficiently the air conditioner can get rid of that stored heat, improving the performance of the system as a whole. Because it is outdoors, the unit is exposed to a variety of elements. Keeping the outdoor unit clean means brushing off dust, pollen, and dirt, clearing off any debris that may have fallen onto or into the unit, and cutting back any foliage within a few feet of the system. Ensure there are no objects or landscaping within two feet of the outdoor units on all sides, and within five feet of the top of the unit.

Keeping the exterior portion of the unit clean is relatively simple, but cleaning coils and other components inside is best left to the pros. Regular maintenance will ensure that your condenser coils stay in good working condition. For more information about keeping your air conditioner properly maintained, call Riley Heating & Air Conditioning at 334-298-1278.

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4 Reasons You Shouldn’t Skip HVAC Maintenance This Fall

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019

While residents in some states around the country are turning their heaters on, those in our area will have to wait a while before the temperature drops low enough to warrant such an action. But fortunately, as the fall season arrives, the heat and humidity will finally start to give way to cooler weather. Give your system a break and invest in HVAC maintenance this fall so that your heating system can provide the comfort you need when winter comes.

You’ll Receive Higher Energy Bills This Winter

Although winter’s lowest average temperature in Phenix City, Alabama flirts with freezing, it doesn’t always reach it. But that doesn’t mean you won’t be using your heating system constantly to keep warm. One of the biggest benefits of maintenance on your HVAC system is that it’ll help conserve energy and save money monthly by ensuring it operates more efficiently. With less stress and strain, your system won’t consume as much energy.

You’ll Risk a Major Breakdown and an Expensive Repair

The last thing you want is for your heating system is to break down on a cold winter night. Professional maintenance ensures minor issues are dealt with today so that they don’t develop into major and costly repairs tomorrow. The faster you take care of a problem, the less likely it is to become bigger and more worrisome. While changing the air filter monthly is one task you can perform on your own to improve indoor comfort and increase heating efficiency, you won’t be able to tell if your system has an issue unless a trained eye takes a look.

You’ll Shorten the System’s Life

As with many systems like your motor vehicle, regular maintenance is critical to get the most out of its operating life. Otherwise, as with a car that hasn’t had an oil change in years, important equipment won’t last as long as expected. It will also cost you more in replacements than it would to invest in professional HVAC maintenance.

Your Household’s Health

While heating efficiency is one of those benefits that saves you money, safety should always be your number one priority in and out of your home. Since heating systems are complex and contain a lot of tricky wiring and other electrical mechanisms, trying to perform routine maintenance on your HVAC system yourself can put your property and your family in danger. In addition, poorly maintained systems can affect your air quality and contribute to respiratory and other illnesses.

For more information about heating efficiency and the benefits of HVAC maintenance, you can rely on the experts at Riley Heating & Air Conditioning. Call us today at 334-298-1278 to learn more about how to get the most from your heating system this winter.

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When to Schedule Furnace Maintenance

Monday, October 7th, 2019

When to Schedule Furnace Maintenance

The time to schedule heater maintenance for your Columbus, GA, home is long before you feel the first cool air of fall. If you put it off until late fall or early winter, you may not be able to get your preferred appointment time. Another reason to schedule your furnace tune-up with Riley Heating & Air Conditioning in the early fall is to ensure that your furnace operates at maximum efficiency before you need to use it every day.

A Typical Furnace Tune-Up

Our company has three primary goals with each preventive maintenance appointment. These include ensuring your safety, improving your comfort and decreasing your heating costs. After we arrive at your home and spend a few minutes discussing your concerns, we head to your furnace to make sure there are no safety issues. If we discover a carbon monoxide leak or another serious problem, we fix it immediately. Next, we check several dozen components of your furnace and tweak them if necessary. Some examples of the items we inspect include:

  • Thermostat calibration
  • Furnace burner and ignition assemblies
  • Heat exchanger
  • Flue level
  • Gas piping
  • Volts and amps
  • Electrical connections
  • Pilot light

When we are done working on your furnace, we let you know about any issues that may need additional repair. We leave you with a record of the heater maintenance appointment so you know exactly what services we performed.

How a Furnace Tune-Up Improves Energy Efficiency

Regular maintenance is the easiest way to lower your monthly heating bills and reduce unplanned repairs. Your furnace naturally operates more efficiently when it has a clean air filter, a sufficient amount of flue and lubricated parts. Tune-ups also help to increase efficiency because minor issues are fixed before they lead to extensive damage or even cause the furnace to stop working entirely.

Feel Warm All Winter Long with a Fall Tune-Up

Homeowners who never arrange for preventive maintenance often complain that some rooms in their home are too cold while others are too hot. Either way, they are not as comfortable as they could be. Before leaving your home, our service technicians run a test cycle of your furnace to ensure that the warm air distributes evenly. If you have a programmable thermostat, we check to make sure that you have selected a temperature that keeps you adequately warm without running up your heating bill.

Schedule Your Professional Tune-Up Annually

At Riley Heating & Air Conditioning, we recommend that you schedule your furnace maintenance appointment every year in the early fall. We also offer air conditioning maintenance in the early spring and emergency service for both units. Call us today to schedule an appointment.

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