Preparing Your Furnace for the Winter Season

After months of inaction, a home furnace needs some help getting back into running shape. Dusty, dried-out parts are more likely to break down randomly at an inopportune time if you skip your fall tune-up. Some professional furnace maintenance can even lower your winter heating bills and make your equipment last years longer.

Here’s what every homeowner should to to prepare a furnace for winter, every year.

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Energy Saving Tips for Winter

As bad as the sweltering summer feels, the winter cold is more dangerous. It’s important to keep your family warm, but the heating needs of a Missouri winter also make it difficult to keep energy bills low.

The good news is that you can pile on the wool socks and ugly sweaters, then spend a weekend making your home more energy-efficient all winter long.

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Why Does My Furnace Leak When the AC Is On?

Scratching your head because the furnace is leaking water while the air conditioner is on? You’re not alone. Furnace leaks are troubling for homeowners, and our St. Louis HVAC technicians receive plenty of calls about this issue. As you might have guessed, the leaking water is condensation that has failed to drain properly.

You might try checking your drain pan and drain line to look for any blockage or tilting that you can fix yourself. We suggest calling for HVAC repairs to be safe, make sure that your furnace has not been damaged, and get everything straightened out. Continue reading “Why Does My Furnace Leak When the AC Is On?” »

Schedule an AC Cleaning & Tune-Up

Seasonal air conditioner maintenance has a lot in common with going to the dentist — except that it’s completely painless, fortunately! With just one appointment, you can enjoy cleaner and stronger air conditioning. And just like that dentist appointment, an air conditioner tune-up also prevents bigger and costlier problems down the road.

That’s why every HVAC expert will tell you the same thing: you’re doing yourself a solid favor by remembering to schedule an annual AC cleaning and tune-up. Believe us, we’d rather service your AC when it’s convenient for you, rather than come out for an emergency repair later this summer. Continue reading “Schedule an AC Cleaning & Tune-Up” »

Warning Signs Your Furnace Is About to Die

Replacing your furnace at the right time can save you a small fortune. Wait too long, and you’re likely to encounter increasingly major repairs and higher utility costs along the way. On the other hand, you can postpone the cost of replacement if you have a trusted HVAC technician who makes effective furnace repairs before jumping the gun on replacement.

So, how long do furnaces last and when should you go ahead and replace them? The answer mostly depends on which of these warning signs are present, as well as the efficiency and overall health of your existing furnace.

Telltale Signs It’s Time for a Furnace Replacement

Energy Bills Spike or Increase Every Year

As furnaces lose their ability to heat properly, they work harder and burn more fuel. In addition to the higher bills, this is also a warning sign that the furnace is about to die very soon. With furnace replacement around the corner, you can actually save by upgrading now.

Furnace Repairs Are Becoming More Frequent

We recommend annual inspections for furnaces that are more than a couple years old, and tune-ups are a great way to make small fixes to prolong the furnace’s lifespan. When those little repairs become significant problems every winter, and you find yourself writing more and more checks each year—expect a breakdown soon.

Excess Dust, Smells & Noises

Air filters can only do so much. If you don’t see lasting improvement after cleaning the filter and vents, the furnace’s internal parts are to blame. Strange noises also indicate serious failure.

Unable to Reach the Desired Temperatures

Don’t blame frigid outdoor temperatures if the furnace cannot heat up to 68, 70, 72, or whatever your thermostat setting is. The burners, heat exchanger, or motor has probably aged out of its productive life. Always had the problem? The furnace may be undersized for your square footage to begin with.

The Heat Exchanger Is Broken

This is the one furnace part that can single-handedly make it necessary to replace the furnace. The heat exchanger is a critical furnace part and one that’s expensive to replace. Broken or cracked heat exchangers can also be fatal if they create a carbon monoxide issue.

The Age of the Furnace

There’s no magic number for how many years a furnace will last. Some models are built to last 10, 12, 15, or 20 years with proper maintenance. If you have older equipment that demonstrates any of the furnace warning signs described above, or simply does not heat the home consistently or efficiently as you’d like, HVAC technicians will recommend furnace replacement for the good of your comfort, safety, and wallet.

Replacing a Furnace Before It Kicks the Bucket

Get a diagnosis for your furnace problems to know your best options. In the St. Louis, MO area, Metro Heating & Cooling provides top-notch repairs and installations of new Rheem and Trane furnaces. You can call us at 314-845-5900 or contact us online for a free estimate.

Should I Keep My AC Unit Clear of Snow?

Outdoor air conditioning units are designed to live outdoors, and that includes weathering the cold and snow of winters like we get here in St. Louis. However, excess snow and ice inside the outdoor unit can ultimately damage the parts and lead to early breakdowns. After snow, sleet, or freezing rain, it’s always a good idea to check your AC unit.

Are Air Conditioner Covers Recommended?

Many stores sell plastic or canvas covers for air conditioners, similar to the covers you might use on a backyard barbecue. We do not recommend these products for long-term use. They can help for temporary coverage of a few days during a severe snowstorm, but they should be removed quickly afterward.

Some moisture will inevitably get inside the AC cover. When that happens, you now have moisture trapped inside the covered air conditioner. Trapped moisture is what can cause damage, so it’s better to let the equipment breathe throughout the winter.

Why Snow Can Damage Your Outdoor AC Unit?

Your air conditioner can handle some snow without any problems, but damage can occur when you get a lingering build-up of ice. Snow piles onto the coil and other internal parts of the outdoor unit, putting things at risk of rust and corrosion. The snow often partly melts and then re-freezes into a block of ice around the parts, and may not melt for quite a while.

When the time comes for air conditioning, you might discover a major breakdown. More likely, the AC will run a bit less efficiently, need repairs sooner, and ultimately need replacement sooner than it would have otherwise.

How to Protect an Air Conditioner from Snow & Ice

Clearing snow from an AC unit is as simple as knocking off excess accumulation:

  • Sweep or brush off snow shortly after significant snowfall.
  • Keep a clear radius of at least one foot around the unit.
  • If using a cover, put it on and take it off for snow storms; don’t leave it all winter.
  • Do not pour very hot or boiling water on ice to defrost a frozen AC unit. Mild water is okay, but you can crack parts by shocking the temperature with hot water.
  • Check the AC unit for debris and frost before the next time you use it.

Don’t Forget Annual Air Conditioner Maintenance

Whether the winter has been mild or brutal, always be sure to conduct seasonal air conditioning maintenance in the spring. An AC tune-up will find small problems before they “snowball” into bigger issues, and you’ll get better energy efficiency and longevity out of it.

In the St. Louis and Fenton, MO area, you can rely on the friendly experts at Metro Heating & Cooling for air conditioning maintenance. Call 314-845-5900 or request a free estimate for HVAC services whenever you need us.

5 Common Furnace Noises & What They Mean

A noisy furnace can quickly ruin your peace and relaxation at home, but the good news is that furnace sounds are often early warning signs of bigger problems to come. Figure out the source of the noise, and we’re on our way to finding a solution.

As always, be careful when troubleshooting a furnace — especially if the problem may be related to the gas line in any way. When the solution calls for more than changing the air filter or tightening some screws that are easily within reach, call our furnace repair experts to set things straight.

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5 Common Air Conditioner Noises & What They Mean

Air conditioning should be felt and not heard. Beyond some startup sounds and a low hum, you don’t want to hear much buzzing or clanking coming from an air conditioner.

Take these air conditioning noises as a sign that you need to take action before the equipment suffers more serious problems. A quick air conditioning tune-up now might save you from a sudden failure in the middle of summer.

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10 Ways to Lower Your Energy Bill This Holiday Season

With fuel costs ticking upward and forecasts for a cool winter in Missouri this year, there’s plenty of motivation to be proactive and cut your energy bills. Besides switching to LED lights and cuddling under blankets, you have plenty of options to stay toasty while using less energy.

Over the holidays and throughout the winter, try these 10 tips for saving energy at home. Continue reading “10 Ways to Lower Your Energy Bill This Holiday Season” »

7 DIY Gas Furnace Troubleshooting Tips

When the furnace sputters or shuts off in the middle of winter, it’s a stressful situation. You want to get it fixed immediately, but you may be skittish about attempting DIY repairs on a furnace that runs on potentially dangerous gas fuel.

There are some simple, safe DIY gas furnace troubleshooting steps that just about anybody can start with to try to resolve efficiency or heating problems. Try these tips and then call your local furnace repair specialists if you get stuck and need more advanced help. Continue reading “7 DIY Gas Furnace Troubleshooting Tips” »