Even The Hospitals Aren’t Safe!?!

If you are one of the millions suffering from the latest strand of flu virus, you may just as well stay home.  According to Northwest Community Hospital as well as press releases from other institutions, you will simply be turned away. That is true even for your children under the age of 18.

Hospitals understand just how easily the virus spreads from person to person or through ventilation systems, and how resistant it is to common medications.  They are worried about the havoc the flu virus will wreak on their patients, who are very susceptible to contracting it.

In this age of viruses and flu bugs that mutate and seem invincible to current treatments, it is more important than ever to recognize how big an impact our ventilation systems can have on our home or business.  It also serves as a reminder of what steps we should be taking to strengthen our immune system by improving our physical condition.

Maybe the first issue to address is taking care of ourselves so we can build up defenses in order to stay healthy.  There are no magic formulas or hidden insider secrets to achieve this.  Eating right and exercising thirty minutes every day has proven to cut the chance of getting sick by half, yes half!

It’s harder during the winter – everything is!  But it’s not impossible.  The body can create as many good habits as bad ones given the chance.  Habits are said to become routine if given thirty days of repetition.  Experiment with this by waking up at a specific time for the next month, and then see how your body reacts in the following month.  You should find you’ve conditioned yourself to awaken at that same time.  It’s a strategy that fitness centers have embraced, and the reason why so many offer the first thirty days of membership for free.

If you’ve gotten hooked into a one year gym membership, no matter by what means, put it to good use.  According to Health.com, “thirty to sixty minutes (physical activity) a day lowers blood sugar and blood pressure, boosts HDL (good cholesterol) and can reduce the protein that contributes to blood clots”.

As long as we can’t hibernate, we may as well feel better, live longer, and enjoy an overall better quality of life.   Making a habit of being active is the cheapest and quickest solution to help prevent illness and disease.
Eating habits can be changed too.  Start simple.  If you think you need 3 teaspoons of sugar in your coffee, condition yourself to get that spoon out of the bowl after 2.  Remove the salt shaker from your table and leave it in the basement or rent a storage locker for it.  There’s enough sodium in most foods, anyway.  Grab the 1% milk at the grocery store. In a few days, you won’t notice the difference between it and either 2% or whole milk.  We’ve all read the benefits of fruits, vegetables, fish, etc.  Start believing a lot of this is true.

I’m not your mother so I won’t tell you that you have to do anything.  On that note, I’ll end this portion of the lecture.

Next up is advice about properly filtering and venting a home or office.  Start by understanding what you are trying to accomplish.

Are you looking for a cleaner home?  The first and easiest place is to start with replaceable filters.  The one inch filters are designed to be replaced every thirty days, while the five inch filters are designed to be changed every three to six months.  A common, replaceable filter is designed to capture airborne particles such as dog hair, dander, dust and other non-living particles present in the indoor air.

If allergies plague your family, there are high level HEPA self-contained filtration systems which are mounted to the home duct work or available as standalone units. These add a higher capture rate for harmful air born particles and are ideal for use in extreme allergy cases or in situations where household members are susceptible to illness from outdoor air which means the house needs to be closed up for most of the year.  These systems do put extra pressure on your equipment’s static pressure by restricting airflow.  Call me for this type of application.  It really needs expert analysis of your current duct system.

Are you looking to take the next step or for additional suggestions to keep your home cleaner and its indoor air safer and healthier?  A newer and easily added option is the RGF germicidal lamp.  It can be easily added to most HVAC systems and is ideal for killing living bacteria and viruses in the air stream.

The lamps have been tested and recommended for treating even severe viruses like H1N1.  Testing has been done in places where bacteria is easily introduced, such as in offices, health care facilities, hotels and even cruise ships.  It’s now trusted to be effective in the commercial UV treatment of food.  It is also used widely in hospitals and large industrial applications.

Personally, we have seen such positive results that we have no problem allowing people to test drive the equipment in their own place for ninety days.

If you do not notice results, we will take it out and refund your money.  That’s how much faith we have in RGF germicidal lamps.

Whether you’re in charge of a household or business, it is important to take time to protect it.  By stepping up efforts at the gym, or at the kitchen table – every effort to improve immunity to sickness and disease is worth the effort.

Take some time to investigate what you’re living with on a daily basis, and set up your indoor environment to match your body’s needs.  Each case is unique, and that’s why we don’t waste time on magic bullet solutions, but rather want to investigate your situation and your needs.

Why we test Static Pressure

They Check Your Blood Pressure Every Time You Go To the Doctor, Don’t They?

The truth is that the medical profession has used the simple act of checking a person’s blood pressure to tell an awful lot about that person.  The results of this basic test serve as a reliable indicator upon which the doctor can make his/her decisions for recommendations and remedies.  People with high blood pressure are instructed in ways to help lower that pressure in order to allow the heart to perform better while working easier.

Luckily, people much smarter than me have learned to adapt this system to the HVAC industry.  If you’re thinking your system doesn’t have blood, or for that matter, a heart, just hear me out. You see, we can actually take your duct system’s blood pressure.

Think of it this way.  Your equipment is the heart of your comfort system, and the ductwork is its veins and arteries.  When the blower turns on to move the air, it acts as the heart pumping air through your system’s veins.

Using the correctly calibrated tools along with the proper formulas, our technicians can check your duct’s ‘blood pressure’ performing a test done during routine maintenance and service or as a  measure implemented when helping to improve comfort issues or while replacing equipment. The higher the pressure in the ductwork, the harder the blower motor and other components need to work.  The harder they work, the shorter they’ll last, the worse they’ll perform and the less comfortable you will be.  Additionally, you will incur heftier utility charges trying to compensate for poor performance.

The pressure in your system should not be higher or lower than the manufacturer’s specified parameters.  You see, manufacturers of air moving equipment have a very specific static pressure they want their equipment subjected to.  They know that exceeding this pressure will affect how well their systems work or how much shorten the life span of it will be.

This information is not limited to those of you with a conventional forced air system.  Using the same principles and the right software, tests have been adapted to help with hydronic systems.  The same principles apply, only the testing and configuration changes.  On the hydronics side, boilers use pumps to force water through a series of piping to deliver heat or hot water to certain areas.  The more pressure in these pipes, the harder the pumps and boilers have to work.  Again, the harder they work, the worse they perform.

Improperly pumped and piped systems have a continual uphill battle trying to deliver hot water where it is needed.  This leads to radiators that never seem to work right, or areas of floor heating that never seem to do what they were intended to.

With proper diagnostics available, technicians can make better recommendations for improved performance.  Improvements can be something as simple as adding ductwork to relieve pressure thus increasing airflow, or reconfiguring pumping and piping configurations.  The diagnostics are also essential when determining the right replacement equipment – a new system that not only matches the load on the space but also corresponds to the right duct or piping delivery system.

So, why am I telling you this and why should you care?

Simple.  We have been performing this ‘blood pressure’ test for years along with the other top contractors in the industry.  By using these tests we have been able to save clients hundreds – if not thousands – of dollars.  We have the ability to provide clients with the right information so they can make modifications without having to change out equipment to get to the end goal; which is INCREASED COMFORT, EASIER EQUIPMENT OPERATION, AND MORE MONEY IN YOUR POCKET.

In some cases we are able to change blower speeds or make simple adjustments to offer these results.  In others, we actually have to make duct modifications to achieve optimum success.  But an investment in this area will not only improve comfort and ease pressure, it will also directly and immediately impact your monthly utility costs.  Every percent increase in efficient air movement is a direct decrease in gas, electric or water expenses.  In most cases, financial outlay to make improvements, replacement or corrections to your forced air or hydronic system will be offset by the money you save month to month.

The best part is that we perform static pressure tests during the course of all maintenance and service calls which show potential of high static pressure WITHOUT CHARGING YOU EXTRA FOR THIS VALUABLE INFORMATION.  We use the information to help our clients make the most informed decision possible.  You are free to live with the system you have and its’ current performance, or take the opportunity to help relieve the pressure.

For those of you who have not signed up for maintenance, would like to learn about the costs or steps involved – simply log on and check it out.  We now offer monthly payment plans if that’s your preference.

Wait, Home Improvements Could Be the Problem?

February’s groundhog teased us into believing that spring will come sooner than later this year.  Having lived in this area my whole life, I will not be holding my breath waiting for his prophecy to come true.  I understand that for many, many weeks there will be days in the 50’s immediately followed by half a foot of snow.  When spring comes, it will come – and I’m ready for it.

What have already arrived are the updated projections for the 2013 allergy season for our area.  Big surprise!  The prediction is for high numbers of cases with little relief for those who are the most sensitive.  After visiting a recent project, I thought it would be best to point out a contributing component to this problem.

The fact is, we are exposed to higher levels of pollutants, spending more time indoors, and then tightening our building envelope – in essence, trapping more and more pollutants in our homes.  Instead of combating the air quality problem, adding insulation, caulking cracks or sealing up ductwork adversely affects how our home breathes.  The tighter we seal the envelope, the less relief we feel.

There is a vital step being skipped which has only recently been detected by those in the know: the fact that in many cases of “improvement” adding the crucial ingredient of fresh air to the mix has been ignored.  Adding a duct from the return to the outdoors or installing a full ventilated HRV (Heat Recovery Ventilator) which mechanically admits fresh air and exhausts stale air will allow your home to breathe as it needs to.

Fresh air not only helps the mechanical operations and ensures safe drafting, but also affects filtration.  Duct systems that are too tight, and/or sized to outdated standards create high static scenarios which make it impossible to properly filter air. Poorly designed filtration also forces your systems to work harder than they were designed for, leading to costing you more money to operate them, and potentially creating premature parts failure.

The best way to ensure proper ventilation is by making certain this issue is addressed when making improvements to the envelope of your home.  Proper testing of the static levels of ductwork will lead to a simple mathematical calculation used to determine how much fresh air needs to be introduced.  The testing will also factor into the decision of whether fresh air can be ducted straight into the system or if an HRV is necessary for bringing in larger quantities of fresh air.

If ventilation, excessive dust, or uncontrollable allergy issues do arise, set your fan to the “ON” position.  This will help by continually filtering the air when there is not a call for heating or cooling.

Give us a call if you or someone you know has noticed issues after making home improvements.

Well Insulated Homes Bringing Air Quality Challenges

One of the main advantages of a well-insulated and well-sealed building envelope is that it takes less energy to heat and cool the home. An efficient building envelope keeps the conditioned air within the home that needs a smaller furnace and/or air-conditioner that is working less often — and this translates into real savings on the utility bills.

New construction and remodeling standards have been increased, along with new insulation technologies. These higher standards and a desire to keep your energy dollars in your home, and not leaking passed poorly insulated areas., brings a unique set of problem.

When a home is well sealed new problems begin to arise — the home becomes a plastic bag, which means any pollutants, such as dust, that may get in the home “stay” in the home. To solve this particular problem,the home needs to be ventilated, and this is where an HRV — heat recovery ventilator — comes into affect.

In recently renovated homes we have introduced the HRV technology to ensure we are introducing fresh air into the home, while taking the stale re-circulated air out. This vastly improves indoor air quality and overall indoor comfort. HRVs have been around for some time now, but are just recently being adapted.

An HRV pulls in outside air and exhausts the stale air from inside the home, and it does this in an efficient way by using the “exhausted” air to condition — or heat or cool — the incoming fresh air. For example, during the heating season the cold outside air is being tempered with the indoor air via the HRV and, therefore, you’ll be saving a good deal of heated air. The reverse is true in the cooling season. On average about 80% of the exhausted heat is recycled in a heat exchanger to keep the tempered air in.

It is much easier for a customer of a newly renovated home to notice the need for an HRV after the project is complete. It is not typical for contractors to offer this sort of sophisticated comfort techniques. If your home sounds like it may benefit from a system like this please call us today to discuss your particular situation. With each being unique, it is important for us to discuss your needs and desired outcome. Only then can we determine if this sort of a solution would be a good fit for you and your family.

What Is That Smell?

Before blaming family members or clients for not showering, take a minute to assess your brick and mortar structure.  Recent studies back that unpleasant indoor odors can be largely blamed on high humidity.  What you smell may be the result of a lack of proper ventilation and dehumidification.   One of the largest challenges of home and business indoor environments is the ability to properly manage the air flow and moisture inherent in them.  Overlooking this can lead to a problem which will materialize right under  your nose – the creation of a space perfectly suited as a breeding ground for unwelcome living organisms – like mold spores which can easily form thanks to the perfect storm of moisture, food, and air.

The building industry agrees, and has begun to modify its practices to alleviate the problem.

Until about ten years or so ago, each component of the building industry worked separately on construction projects.  Each trade focused on their own specialty, and paid no attention to the fact that all of their different materials and installation practices might have a direct impact on the space as a whole system, and that every component positively or negatively worked with one another.

The root cause for organism build up and the resultant musty smell is water.  Whether water is present due to conditions of, say, recent flooding, or perhaps lack of fresh air into a space, or even over or under sized mechanical systems (such as your air conditioning unit), water is the culprit.  With all the time spent indoors, it’s never been more important to look how water can adversely affect air quality than now.

Recently built homes along with newer remodeling projects are constructed much tighter thanks to better building practices, but the resulting cocoon cannot breathe.  Contractors do not understand the importance of actual mechanical ventilation, and underestimate or ignore the use of components which can control the amount of fresh air brought into the home.  Newer ventilation components are necessary to take the place of the cracks and leaks found in older structures – and as undesirable as those flaws may sound – actually allowed for some fresh-air flow.

Older homes certainly aren’t exempt from problems.  In fact, far from it.  Mold and odors thrive in damp crawl spaces, under-ventilated attics, leaking foundations, and unventilated bathrooms.  The resultant musty smell from any of those can linger all season long.  If that’s the case, it’s important to de-humidify, whether using portable or duct mounted equipment, especially in warm weather.  Our area calls for such equipment to run all summer long for the best results.

All is not doom and gloom.  Through proper testing, design, and control we can now eliminate excess moisture.  Using fresh air ventilation systems and ducted dehumidifiers we have been able to eliminate musty smells due to water and organism build ups from homes and businesses.  In most cases, we totally eliminate the airborne pollutants and unpleasant scents using RGF Germicidal lamps.  The lamps are installed in all instances of direct flood damage because they have such an exceptional track record of success.

Doc, You Can Fix It Right?

From Doug Garrett of the EPA

With newer and smarter technological marvels hitting the marketplace daily, it seems reasonable to expect that something as basic as a house should do what it is intended to do. At a minimum, your house should be safe, durable, comfortable, healthy to breathe in, and energy efficient. But the fact is that you are quite likely to experience problems in your house such as mold, cold drafts, rotting roofs, polluted air, and high energy costs. Any one of these performance problems is an indication that your house is not performing as it should: It is sick, and it needs a diagnosis and cure.

While these performance failures are all distinct types of problems, they have a common cause. They stem from a failure to understand the complex, interactive system that is a home. Surprisingly, until the last 15 years, very little scientific research had been conducted into how homes and buildings actually function. Instead, builders and contractors relied almost totally on “knowledge” handed down through word of mouth in the trades. Then when things went wrong, they had little to tell them why. Their fixes were usually based not on an understanding of how homes really function, but on what was traditionally done. Sometimes these fixes worked; often they didn’t.

Compounding the problem, the traditional view of homes is that they are simply a set of components that are, for the most part, independent of each other. Too often, the separate components of a home are designed by people who don’t communicate with each other.  The architect designs for aesthetic appeal but not for energy efficiency or even for long lasting performance. The framer builds the frame of the home for structural stability but not for airtightness. The mechanical contractor designs and installs the heating, air conditioning, and ducts but rarely thinks of the occupants’ needs for fresh air. The common insistence on seeing these construction “specialties” as separate can cause a host of home performance problems.

In the last 15 years, there has been a revolution in the science of diagnosing and curing sick buildings. Through the process of applying scientific methods and instruments to the study of buildings, scientists have come to realize that buildings are like people. They must keep moisture out via a continuous watertight skin. They must provide clean, fresh air for the occupants while at the same time maintaining comfortable temperatures. They must not take in too many toxins, and when toxins do get in they must be expelled quickly. Houses must also be affordable to live in.

Perhaps the most important realization has been that buildings–like people–function as a system. Building scientists and home performance specialists–a small but growing group of well-trained professionals–have measured and documented how all the different components in a home interact with and affect one another. When one part goes wrong, it will inevitably effect other parts that may seem on the surface to have no direct connection. We have come to know that the different parts of a house are as interdependent as the organs of a living being. Houses should therefore be designed and treated so that all the different parts of the system interact in a way that is beneficial, and they should be treated this way when they are sick.

Breaking News: Neighbors found GUILTY!

Filter Side by SideThe verdict…MURDER

In the dead of winter, in the middle of the night, an HVAC crew was called in to investigate the demise of a furnace. The murder weapon was a dirty, neglected air filter.  The photos provided here offer proof in yet another open and shut case. Exhibits marked “A”, on the left, were taken of the customer’s air filters.  Exhibits marked “B”, on the right, are entered as visuals for comparison. They represent what an air filter SHOULD look like. Unfortunately, this was not an isolated case.

Making light of a serious situation is not the intention.  Attempting to get your attention IS.  As pointed out in the last monthly issue, and countless times prior, it is vital you change or clean your filter on a regular basis.  Not only will it save your equipment, it will save money on your utility bills.  The easier your system “breathes”, the easier it operates, and will cost you far less in the long run.

Think of it this way.  You and your furnace have one important thing in common: the need to breathe to survive.   The filter’s job is to catch dirt, dust, and debris, and functions as its “respiratory system”.  But your furnace lacks communication skills.  It cannot cry out for help.  Instead, it works as hard as it can until the very last possible moment. Then it collapses.  According to Energy Star, the number one reason a furnace fails or breaks down is due to neglect.

Looking again at Exhibit “A” and acknowledging that your furnace needs to breathe – realize that it simply cannot when the filter looks like the photo.  Ultimately, you are the one who would suffer, not only financially, but by breathing in all of the contaminates which a dirty filter harbors.  Your furnace does double duty.  It not only heats and conditions your house, but it also moves air and all of the pollutants floating through the atmosphere. Appealing to your health consciousness, having a clean furnace filter certainly contributes to cleaner air.

Did you know that one study revealed that indoor environment is up to five times more polluted than that of the outside?   More frightening are the research statistics showing the human body’s inability to fight off allergens and viruses as compared to those of previous generations. It’s no wonder that advertisements for allergy medications now address both indoor and outdoor usage of their products.  We believe this makes an even stronger case for doing what you can to ensure you and your family do not neglect the source you rely on for your indoor comfort needs.

In the Barrington case initially cited, the homeowner could not remember the last time the furnace filter had been replaced.  By the looks of it, it was a few years and at least one flood ago.  The negligence cost him dearly.  The furnace was dead, and for one simple reason – forgetting to change the filter.  It’s a shame, because the filter is the cheapest part you can replace on a system, and better yet, can be done without a service call.

We’re standing on our soap box again hoping you heed our advice.  Leave the dangerous and complicated components up to us, but do yourself a favor and check your filter.  Unsure if it is dirty or clean?  Replace it, just to be safe.  And healthier.  And more solvent for the upcoming holidays.

To Humidify or Not Humidify. That is the Question

humidifierBased on my recent stack of emails and calls surrounding the mystery that is a humidifier I thought it fitting to play “Myth Busters” and shed some light on the situation. Apparently there is great mystery and misconception surrounding humidifiers and de-humidifiers. Lets start at the beginning and move our way through it so that you can be an expert when it comes to your homes humidification.

At the most basic of levels humidifiers are attached to a furnace and add humidity during the winter months. This humidity cuts down on static shocks,  helps eliminate dry and runny noses, can improve your indoor air quality, and makes your house feel warmer. Although they are not code in this area they are a fantastic idea.

De-humidifiers are typically run in basements during summer months and drain into a floor drain or need to be emptied periodically. In our climate they help to remove dampness and the mustiness of basements.
Humidifiers need to be looked at once a year to replace the pad, and ensure proper water flow. Most houses in this area are on well or have very hard water. This hard water can reek havoc on the water lines for the humidifier. Neglect of humidifiers is the number one cause of their demise. By simply taking care of them yearly you can avoid the nightmare stories and water issues that can occur.

A great way to ensure your hard wood floors do not start to spilt, or hardwood furniture does not start to deteriorate is by adding the right amount of humidity. Homes with lots of hard wood or that run their fireplaces a lot tend to suffer if their humidifier is not operating properly.
How they work is by taking water from your homes water line and running that water across a pad. A fan blows across the pad and humidifies the air stream as there is a call for heat. Typically you want the humidifier set at 35-40% humidity. Depending on the construction of the house you may need to add more or less humidity.

The best indicator on humidity levels is actually your windows. If you notice water or dew building up along the bottom of the window you can turn the humidity dial back down. You can even turn the thermostat down a couple more degrees that you would think. Humidity makes the air feel warmer, and lets you set the thermostat back a few degrees. Everyone home and situation is different but and ideal system could run at 68* and feel like 70*.

Some of the best stories I hear are how happy people are after they add a humidifier. Especially the people who had great old practices for trying to add humidity. Some people would simply keep a gold fish bowl in the kitchen and hope the evaporation would do the trick. Other people would even leave a small Tupperware of water next to the floor vents and hope there was a moisture transfer. Know what I have learned these stories are great for a good chuckle. The homeowners who had these rituals always get the last laugh now!

April Showers Don’t Always Just Bring May Flowers

Tom-MaintSpeaking of the things around your place that should get a look at with the arrival of spring, there is one more that can have a serious impact on both your wallet and your health. It’s your air conditioning system. Whether you like to keep the air conditioning on from now until fall or just use it on really hot days, there are serious consequences based on the equipment’s condition.

At Corcoran Heating and Air Conditioning we have learned, and hope to pass onto you, the importance of both the system’s actual performance and what its contribution to the overall health of the indoor environment will be. On our end, we can check that your home’s or office’s or restaurant’s system is not over or undersized and can breathe properly. If either of those isn’t correct it will lead to higher utility costs, more parts failures and greater mold growth. When a building is closed up to the outside elements and the air conditioner is simply cranked up to mimic a comfortable day, we are subjecting ourselves to a potentially very sick indoor environment.

Our entire company is continuing to get smarter and more advanced in our approaches to maximizing your comfort and health. At every opportunity we are training ourselves and staff to deliver the best solutions for each and every short or long term problem with air conditioning systems. To that end, we will be passing on even more ways for you to improve your systems overall performance.

A checkpoint list that we follow – follows! For those of you who have been loyal maintenance clients you can expect the same expert service and performance testing we have been implementing. For those of you who are on the fence about whether or not to have your equipment maintained and performance checked by us, this information may help. We have compiled a checklist of what the best HVAC contractors in the industry are capable of. It is offered so that you can compare what we offer as compared to other programs available to you.

Quality Maintenance and Performance Verification should include the following:

  • Chemically clean and thoroughly wash condenser coil(s).
  • Thoroughly clean or replace standard air filter(s).
  • Lubricate motor and fan bearings, and other moving parts as necessary.
    Inspect evaporator coil.
  • Clean and inspect condensate drain lines and fittings.
  • Calibrate thermostat.
  • Inspect, tighten, and test all electrical connections, including the disconnect switch.
    Inspect all cooling system electrical wires, connectors, and terminals.
  • Test system starting and running capacity.
    Test all controls, switches, relays, transormers, contactors, motors, and fans.
    Measure starting and running amperes, line voltage, and control voltage.
  • Test for proper airflow and air delivery.
    Perform static pressure duct testing.
  • Inspect and adjust all safety controls.
    Monitor refrigerant pressures and temperatures.
  • Make recommendations for lowering operating costs and improving comfort and performance.
  • Wear protective shoe coverings and keep areas clean.
  • Carry highest level of licensing and insurance for all employees.

As usual we will continue to deliver these to our existing residential clients as well as the appropriate additional steps on the commercial side. As a bonus this spring we wanted to make the process even easier by offering a monthly payment option if that better suits your budget. Pay us for half the cost of the total agreement and we can break up the rest of the cost over the next year by automatic charges to your credit card. If that interests you, either Brenda or your technician can show you your exact monthly cost.
Spring is here and, as always, we will fill up fast. Make sure you get hold of Brenda when you are ready to get your spring maintenance taken care of.

To Download our Maintenance Agreement: Click Here

What can you try before calling us?

Are you currently experiencing a comfort problem or equipment breakdown? Start here to see if any of these most common places to look may be just the ticket to solve your problem

1. Check for power to the equipment:

In our area, the rampant number of power failures and power outages can wreak havoc on your equipment. Be sure to check that the breaker or fuses aren’t tripped into the off position. Also, check the service disconnects for the equipment. If the equipment was running during a power outage or power surge, this is a great place to start.

2. Check the thermostat:

Try switching the settings of the thermostat to see if this is the problem. First, adjust the temperature setting either much higher or much lower than the current setting, and see if that fixes the problem. Also, try switching the system from “Heat or Cool” to “Off,” and then back to “Heat or Cool.” If that doesn’t work, try setting the thermostat to “Fan On” instead of “Auto” and see if the fan works.

The last thing to try is replacing the batteries in the thermostat. Most programmable thermostats, particularly modern models, require batteries—typically two AAs. You should be able to remove the thermostat from the wall and replace the batteries.

3. Check the filtration system:

The No. 1 cause for emergency repairs is neglect and dirt / dust. Be sure that you have recently changed or cleaned your filtration system. This is a very cheap way to keep your equipment operating problem-free.

Check with the manufacturer to find out how often your particular filter should be cleaned or replaced. Typically, 1” disposable filters should be changed every 30 to 60 days. 5” media filters every 3 to 6 months, and electronic air cleaners every 1 to 3 months, depending on the environment.

4. Check the pilot:

Most modern furnaces no longer have standing pilots that need to remain lit. However, this does still occur. Be sure that the pilot is lit in the furnace or hot water heater by looking into the burner section.

NOTE: This can be dangerous in the presence of gas and flame. High winds can easily blow pilots out.

5. Do you see water?

First, you want to isolate the source of the water. Go to the equipment and find out where it’s leaking from. If you can isolate the source of the problem, you can stop the water leak. Turn off the piece of equipment that is causing the leak, either at the controller, switch, or breaker. If you’re seeing water at a boiler or hot water heater, shut off the water supply into the equipment. This should stop the leak until help arrives.