5 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Technician

Before hiring a technician

Your HVAC system is a sophisticated structure that provides year-round home comfort. Due to its technical complexities, any repairs beyond general maintenance should be left to a professional. But how do you know who to trust? Be sure to ask these five questions before hiring a technician to service or repair your HVAC system.

Free Estimate?

You likely know that something is amiss with your system but aren’t sure whether it requires service, repair, or replacement. That’s why it’s good to ask about free estimates.

A qualified technician like those at Heating & Cooling Two can inspect and assess your HVAC to determine any issues and recommend the best and most cost-effective solution for your situation. You’ll know exactly what’s going on and learn the necessary steps to get your system working properly again.

Maintenance Tips?

Your HVAC system should last about 10 to 15 years. You can extend the life of your unit by keeping up with routine maintenance. This includes scheduling a service check once or twice a year with a trusted company as well as simple things that homeowners can perform. Your technician should provide you with a list of items you can do to keep your system running efficiently.

Heating & Cooling Two offers homeowner tips on our website. You can find home maintenance information for your furnace, humidifier, air exchanger, and central air conditioner. We even provide checklists for preparing your home for fall and things to do to button up your home before heading south for the winter.

Service Plan?

Be sure to ask about annual maintenance plans and find out what those offer to ensure they’ll meet your HVAC needs. Again, regular maintenance will help your system last longer and operate more efficiently.

At Heating & Cooling Two, we provide Platinum, Gold, and Silver levels of Planned Service Agreements. We can customize your selected package to fit your specific needs. Scheduling your service in advance will help you save money, and you can rest assured knowing your HVAC system is well maintained.

Turnaround Time?

Depending on the time of year and the temperature outside, you may need fast service. The qualified technicians at Heating & Cooling Two have the knowledge and experience to diagnose your problem accurately, offer practical solutions, and perform repairs in a timely fashion.

We contact you within one business day of completing our online service request form, at which time we can schedule and confirm an appointment. Because we understand the importance of your home comfort, we also offer emergency services after hours and on weekends.

Who to Choose?

One of the most important questions to ask is who do you choose? And why? Be sure the company you select is licensed and qualified to meet and exceed the HVAC services you need. Also check previous customer testimonials and online reviews to find out about its quality and service standards and the values provided to its customers.

Family owned and operated since 1980, Heating & Cooling Two continues to provide superior customer service and high-quality workmanship. Our fully insured, bonded, and licensed team of specialists has earned the reputation as a trusted source for residential and commercial heating and cooling needs. Contact us today for everything from maintenance and repairs to upgrades and installations. We can do it all.

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The Path to Success as an HVAC Technician/Installer

Path-to-Success

Like many professions, a career in HVAC can be pretty cool –or hot, depending on the project. But the overall objective is to deliver quality service and expert know-how so residential and commercial clients stay comfortable all year round. That’s what Heating & Cooling Two does every day. Keep reading to learn more about the path to success as an HVAC professional.

Overview

HVAC technicians install, repair, replace, and maintain the systems that control temperature, humidity, and air quality within a home or building. Ensuring proper operation of heating, cooling, and ventilation equipment provides comfortable, clean air for a healthy and welcoming environment.

On any given day, an HVAC tech has various responsibilities that can include:

  • Repairing or replacing damaged components or equipment
  • Testing and adjusting system controls
  • Reading blueprints and schematics
  • Assembling and mounting HVAC equipment
  • Troubleshooting electrical circuits or piping
  • Checking for system leaks

Every call has the potential for something different. Knowing all facets of the job is key to analyzing, understanding, and solving new challenges.

Input and Output

The first step on the path to success as an HVAC tech is acquiring the necessary education and training. This most often requires a high school diploma or GED equivalent. Math, computer science, and physics classes provide material that is applicable in the HVAC industry.

Earning an HVAC certificate is the next step and can be accomplished by taking some additional courses, which can be completed in less than a year. This added instruction will help you develop a range of specialized skills needed to become a successful technician.

An apprenticeship can help you gain first-hand practice while learning from others. Some apprenticeships combine classes with real-world training. An apprenticeship can provide additional experience and possibly a leg up on job market competition.

Obtaining certifications for specific systems can also help expand your knowledge and capabilities within the industry.

Outlook

Employment opportunities for HVAC technicians depend a lot on residential and commercial construction. With increased demand, HVAC employment is projected to grow by 15 percent through 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The path to success as an HVAC technician involves education, hands-on training, and a thorough understanding of the intricacies of HVAC systems and equipment. This exciting and rewarding profession offers something new every day, including the satisfaction of delivering temperature-controlled comfort to residents and businesses. If this piques your interest, Heating & Cooling Two would love to hear from you. Contact us today to learn about employment opportunities.

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Furnace and AC: Replace Both Units Together?

replace both units

When it comes to at-home comfort, the spotlight is on your heating and cooling systems. You likely depend on one of these mechanical warriors as much as the other, since they’re called to work during opposing seasons. Neither the furnace nor the AC is designed to last forever, so is it a good idea to replace both units together?

Age is Just an Important Number

Furnace and AC units often have slightly different lifespans, which can cause issues when deciding on replacement.

With proper maintenance, your furnace can last 15 to 20 years. Help ensure a long life by keeping up with yearly maintenance and repairs:

  • Keep vents clean and clear of obstructions.
  • Check and replace filters as needed. A dirty filter can take years off the life of your furnace.
  • Have the unit tuned-up by a professional each year for proper function and to catch any issues before they become bigger problems.

On the other hand, your AC unit will usually last 10 to 15 years. Again, a well-maintained system will work better and often last longer, so be sure to keep up with regular checkups and repairs. Also, remove debris from around the unit, and check for clogged or dirty filters that can restrict airflow.

When to Wait

Realistically, the only time it makes sense to wait on replacing your furnace is if the unit is less than 10 years old. At that point, you can probably get several more seasons of use from it. But you may want to have the unit inspected if it’s closer to 15 years old or if you notice:

  • Strange noises that could indicate something is damaged or broken
  • The temperature inside isn’t as warm as it should be
  • The house takes longer to heat than normal

These could be signs that your furnace is failing and may signal that it’s time for a replacement. Always ensure you have up to date carbon monoxide detectors on hand as well.

Yes, Replace Both Units

If you’re set on replacing one unit but wavering on the other, weigh your options. Then consider the benefits when you replace both units at the same time.

Better Rebates. If both pieces of equipment are replaced you may qualify for better rebates.

Save energy. Some components, like the blower motor, are utilized by both a central air unit and the furnace. To ensure their compatibility and save energy with an ENERGY STAR certification, replace both systems together.

Longer lifespan. Mismatched components can compromise the efficiency and durability of your heating and cooling units. Repairing an older unit with newer components can put undue strain on the rest of the unit and cause breakdowns. Similar equipment across the board will help assure better, longer-lasting performance.

Installation costs. Replacing one unit a few years before replacing the other means you’re paying installation costs twice. Save the hassle and fees by doing both at the same time.

Peace of mind. With a new furnace and AC system, you won’t have to worry about repairs anytime soon. But remember to keep up with maintenance for both, so that each will last for many years to come.

The idea of replacing your heating and cooling systems might seem daunting, but you can save time, energy, and money when you replace both units together. Still have questions? The HVAC professionals at Heating & Cooling Two are here to answer those and even take a look at your existing systems, if needed. Contact us today to learn more.

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Ideal Temperature Settings for All Seasons

temperature-settings

With the outside temperatures dropping rapidly, now is a good time to start thinking about your thermostat settings for the long Minnesota winter. Understanding the proper way to control indoor temperature is critical for maximizing comfort and minimizing utility bills all year round. Read our blog as we discuss the ideal temperature settings for all seasons.

Did you know that the U.S. Department of Energy estimates you can save up to 1 percent in energy costs in the winter for each degree you set your thermostat back from your “comfort setting?” Alternately, increasing your thermostat in the summer while you’re away at work or on vacation can lead to significant cost savings as well. Thermostat settings vary with the season, your habits and lifestyle, and the composition of your home. However, studies show there is an ideal range of temperatures to increase comfort, quality of life, and energy efficiency.

Winter

When the weather outside is frightful, optimal comfort can be reached with the thermostat set between 68° to 74° F when you’re at home during the day. If you’re away or sleeping at night, many find they can lower the temperature to 58° to 62° F and still be comfortable. However, if your household has someone very young or elderly, or anyone with health issues, lowering temperatures at night may not be a good idea. Be sure to check with family members and loved ones when you change the temperature. If they’re shivering, you may want to raise the thermostat a few degrees.

Summer

The recommended temperature for the warmer months is between 73° and 78° F, higher if you’re away on vacation or out of the house for an extended period of time. Studies show that most people are comfortable when the thermostat is set to 75°. Raising the temperature at night or when you’re away can save you money and still keep you comfortable. Excess humidity is also an issue in the summer months. If your AC fails to lower the humidity adequately, the air will feel cool but moist, which can lead to issues with flooring, walls, and furniture.

Spring

Spring is the time of year when you transition from heating to cooling. On warm spring days, set the temperature to the highest comfortable setting. We recommend 78° when you’re at home or asleep. While you’re away, raise the thermostat to 85° to avoid cooling an empty house.

Fall

Fall, on the other hand, is the time of year when you transition from cooling to heating. On colder fall days, set the temperature to 68° while home and between 60° to 65° while away and at night. But before you crank up the heat on the first cold day, try keeping your thermostat set at a lower temperature and layering clothing.

A good quality programmable thermostat makes it easy to set, change, and maintain temperatures in your home. Programmable thermostats let you change the temperatures based on your schedule and lifestyle. Used properly, it can save a significant amount on your heating and cooling bills as well as increase energy efficiency.

The professionals at Heating & Cooling Two can help with all your HVAC needs. Contact us today for more information or questions about your HVAC system or to schedule preventative maintenance or repair.

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New Furnace Must Haves

Furnace-Must-Haves

A new furnace is a significant investment and purchasing the right one for your home can be overwhelming. There’s a very good chance that a lot has changed since the last time you bought a heating system. With HVAC technology rapidly evolving, there are many new features available that increase energy efficiency, lower costs, and improve overall comfort. Before you replace your unit, read our blog as we discuss new furnace must haves.

Variable-speed blower

A variable-speed blower delivers air more quietly and slowly than a single-blower unit. It also helps maintain a consistent temperature while minimizing drafts. Because it converts AC power to DC, this unit uses less electricity, which can lower heating costs by up to 40 percent.

Variable heat output

You’ll find variable heat output on many variable-speed blowers. Automatically adjusting heat output as external temperatures fluctuate throughout the day ensures consistent and precise temperature control throughout the home.

Two-stage modulating gas valve

A two-stage modulating gas valve allows the furnace to operate on a quieter, low-fire setting unless the thermostat calls for a higher temperature. It operates in the first stage when heating requirements are moderate. As the temperature falls outdoors, the valve operates in the second stage. This configuration offers increased energy efficiency and cost savings.

Ignition system

Say goodbye to the pilot light. Today’s furnaces offer intermittent, direct-spark or hot-surface ignitions, which eliminate the need for a consistent flame. That makes the unit more energy efficient and means lower utility bills for you.

High-quality filters

Now more than ever, it’s important to use premium HVAC filters to increase indoor air quality. Many high-efficiency furnaces come with electrostatic or HEPA filters that are much better at trapping harmful particles than ordinary filters which is crucial for improving air quality and your family’s health and wellness.

Dual heat exchanger

A furnace’s “waste heat” is generated during combustion. Today’s advanced, high-performance heating systems use dual heat exchangers, which allows one exchanger to capture the excess heat from the other, increasing the unit’s efficiency. This means an improvement in energy output and lower heating costs.

Another thing to consider when purchasing a new furnace is incorporating zoned heating in your home. This allows for consistent temperatures throughout the home even if certain areas experience heat loss. It also allows you to maintain different temperatures in different areas, such as a nursery or elderly family member’s room. Talk to your HVAC professional about the right option for your home.

Family-owned and operated since 1980, Heating & Cooling Two can help with all your HVAC needs. Contact us to speak with one of our experts about which furnace is right for you.

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Increase Indoor Air Quality in the Winter

Indoor-air-quality

October is here and it’s ushering in the cold weather. As we prepare to move inside and hunker down, it’s time to pay attention to the quality of your home’s indoor air. When we think of poor air quality, we usually think of outdoor air and pollution. But did you know the quality of your indoor air could be just as bad, if not worse, especially during the colder months? Read our blog as we discuss how to increase indoor air quality in the winter.

Why is indoor air quality a problem in winter?

During the warmer months, we tend to open the windows to let fresh air in. We do the opposite in winter. To prevent cold air from infiltrating the home, we seal everything. While this may keep us warm, it also traps impurities indoors with less opportunity for proper ventilation. As a result, you or your family may experience health issues such as fatigue, headaches, dizziness, itchy eyes/nose/throat, and more.

How to increase the quality of your indoor air

There are several ways to help improve your home’s air quality. Here are some of our recommendations:

  1. Schedule maintenance for your furnace – Making sure your furnace is functioning properly and the air filter is clean helps alleviate more dust and debris. Your furnace is an important part of your home’s HVAC system, so keeping it clean and running smoothly is essential for increased air quality in the home.
  2. Consider adding an air purifier – The HVAC filter can only trap so much, but many particles are too small and not easily detected. An air purifier can eradicate contaminants completely, keeping indoor air clean and fresh all season long.
  3. Open the windows periodically (yes, even in the winter) – Your home’s ventilation system doesn’t bring in as much fresh air from the outside during the colder months. Opening the windows even for a few minutes a day circulates fresh air inside.
  4. Check humidity levels – Humidity levels in the home should range from thirty to fifty percent all year round. During the winter, your indoor air becomes drier. Be sure the humidifier is set high enough to maintain this level without over-humidifying. Too much moisture can lead to mold and mildew, as well as damage your floors, walls, and furniture.

The professionals at Heating & Cooling Two can help with all your air quality needs. Contact us today for more information or questions about your HVAC system or to schedule preventative maintenance or repair.

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Common Furnace FAQs

Furnace-FAQs

With another Minnesota winter right around the corner, now is the perfect time to check your furnace to ensure it’s operating safely and running at peak performance. Heating systems are complex and while there are some things you can do yourself like change your filter regularly, it’s best to schedule professional maintenance before the temperatures dip. Don’t know what to look for? Read our blog as we answer the most common furnace FAQs.

Furnace FAQs

Do I really need routine maintenance on my HVAC system?

The short answer – yes! Having your system checked regularly by a professional HVAC technician ensures it operates safely and efficiently, especially during the colder months. The technician can detect potential issues before they turn into costly repairs, saving you money and headaches in the future.

Can I perform routine maintenance myself?

While there are some things you can do yourself to prepare your furnace for the colder months like changing your filter regularly, clearing obstructions/debris from the furnace area, and checking for system abnormalities regularly, it’s a good idea to schedule a checkup with your HVAC professional annually.

How often should I replace my furnace filters?

This is a basic question yet such an important thing to know regarding furnace maintenance. Your furnace air filter traps dirt, dust, and debris to prevent these particles from entering the system and the indoor air in your home. We recommend changing your filters based on manufacturer’s recommendations. Typically, a 1” filter should be changed every 30 days and a 4” filter should be replaced every six months, more often if you have pets.

When should I call for repairs?

If you have your system serviced regularly, you shouldn’t really need to call for repairs. However, if you notice the following problems, contact your HVAC professional immediately:

  • The thermostat is giving inaccurate readings
  • The furnace motor is making noises or showing signs of disrepair
  • The furnace flame sensor isn’t detecting the flame properly
  • The ignition light is malfunctioning

What is the best size furnace for my home?

There are several factors to take into consideration when sizing the equipment load of an HVAC system. Ceiling height, window size and placement, insulation, your home’s climate, dimensions, construction, and more. Before you buy a new system, it’s best to have a professional do a load calculation on your home.

An important reminder

Always make sure you have up-to-date carbon monoxide detectors in your home. Remember they do have an expiration date. Install them per the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Every Minnesota homeowner knows that when the furnace runs at peak performance, everyone rests a little easier – especially during the winter. With both professional and DIY routine maintenance, typically your heating system should last for roughly 15 to 20 years.

Family-owned and operated since 1980, Heating & Cooling Two can help service all of your HVAC needs. Contact us today to schedule preventative maintenance or repair on your home’s HVAC system.

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Understanding Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE)

Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency

Every Minnesotan knows a well-functioning furnace is essential for comfort during the long, brutal winters. But how do you know if your furnace is operating at peak performance? Your home’s Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating is an effective tool to measure the efficiency of your furnace by calculating the percentage of fuel that can convert to usable heat. The more efficient your furnace, the more heat you will get per unit of fuel. Read on for information about understanding Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency.

What is AFUE?

Think of AFUE as the equivalent of a SEER or EER rating for your air conditioner. But unlike a SEER rating, which is the ratio of the cooling output of an AC over a typical season, AFUE is far easier to calculate and understand. Your furnace’s AFUE rating is the percentage of how much fuel it can convert to usable heat using a scale from 30 -100. For example, a furnace with a rating of 90 means that 90 percent of its fuel is translated into usable energy, and the remaining 10 percent is lost through exhaust. The higher the rating, the greater the energy efficiency.

Why is an AFUE rating important?

The U.S. Department of Energy categorizes furnaces based on its level of energy efficiency:

  • Low efficiency – older models with an AFUE rating of 56-70 percent
  • Mid efficiency – models with an AFUE rating of 80-83 percent
  • High efficiency – models with an AFUE rating of 90-98 percent; many of these models offer comfort-enhancing technology

If you’re concerned about the energy output of your furnace or considering replacing it all together, knowing your AFUE is important to make an informed decision about your home’s heating system. The Federal Trade Commission requires new furnaces and boilers to display the AFUE rating so consumers can easily compare the efficiency of different units.

The actual performance and level of efficiency for any furnace or boiler is contingent on several factors including the age, size, and condition of your home as well as the quality of your windows, ductwork, and insulation. Personal temperature preference and heating habits must also be taken into consideration when repairing or replacing your heating system. Knowing your AFUE rating is helpful in determining what’s best for you, your loved ones, and your budget.

The professionals at Heating & Cooling Two can help service all of your HVAC needs. Contact us today for more information or questions about your heating system’s AFUE rating or to schedule preventative maintenance or repair.

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Four Fall Projects to Maximize HVAC Efficiency

HVAC Efficiency

It’s that time again – summer is winding down and winter is just around the corner. We all know Minnesota weather can be unpredictable and preparing your HVAC system for the change in seasons is important for your comfort and safety. From routine maintenance by a heating and cooling professional to DIY projects you can do at home, planning early can ensure your system is operating at peak performance, saving you time, money, and headaches down the road. Read on as we discuss four fall projects to maximize HVAC efficiency.

Check for Drafts and Leaks

Inspecting your home for air leaks in common trouble spots such as doors and windows is important for your home’s heating and cooling system. Air leaks can contribute to wasted energy, moisture problems, and poor indoor air quality. Weatherstripping and caulking are two simple and effective techniques to seal leaks and reduce the amount of air that seeps in and out of your home.

Clear Obstructions from Airways

To ensure proper airflow in your home, be sure to clear your vents of dust, dirt, and debris, as well as move furniture or other obstructions away from heat registers. Blocking vents and registers can prevent heat from reaching all your living spaces which leads to uneven air distribution and discomfort during the colder months. This can lead to excessive wear and tear on your HVAC system.

Check Your Thermostat

If your thermostat isn’t functioning properly due to incorrect placement, faulty wiring, or some other issue, it can cause unnecessary cycling of your air conditioner or heat pump. An easy way to test the temperature sensor is to tape a thermometer on the wall next to the thermostat. Wait 15 minutes, then check the reading. If there’s more than a degree of difference, the thermostat is most likely not giving an accurate reading. Contact your heating and cooling professional for guidance on thermostat repair or replacement services.

Schedule Routine HVAC Service

Scheduling a fall tune-up with an HVAC technician will ensure your system operates at peak performance so you stay comfortable and safe all winter long. This gives you enough time to make any necessary repairs before heating season begins.

Family-owned and operated since 1980, Heating & Cooling Two can help service all of your HVAC needs. Contact us today to schedule preventative maintenance or repair on your home’s HVAC system.

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Protecting Your Air Conditioner in the Summer

Air conditioner

An air conditioner is a big investment. Protecting it from the elements, dirt, and debris can extend the life of the unit, as well as save energy and money down the road. Keeping the air conditioner clean enables it to operate more efficiently, which lowers utility bills over time. Read our blog as we look at ways to protect your AC in the summer.

Keep it Clean

Preventing dirt and debris such as cottonwood, sticks, and leaves from building up inside your unit can protect your AC during the warmer months. Falling sticks, leaves, yard waste, and other debris can blow into the unit and cause serious damage to the electrical components. Over time, dirt can build up in the interior of the unit, which restricts proper airflow. Inspect your unit periodically for debris and dirt. If it’s clogged or dirty, rinse it off with a garden hose but be sure to turn off the unit first. Keeping your air conditioner clean ensures your unit operates at peak performance.

Protect it from Excess Moisture

Air conditioners are designed to withstand the harsh elements like rain and snow, but excessive moisture can be detrimental to your unit. Installing a heat pump stand elevates your unit and protects it from ice, rain, and snow. In addition, a heat pump stand allows your air conditioner to run more efficiently and drain properly which can extend its life and save you money down the road. The easy to install stands are sturdy and designed to withstand the harsh Minnesota weather.

Landscape Wisely

We Minnesotans love our manicured landscaping in the summer. However, greenery like grass and shrubs that is planted to close to the AC can restrict airflow and damage the unit over time. Moreover, insects that may be attracted to the landscaping can find their way into the unit. If you’re planting new grass, shrubs, or flowers, make sure to leave plenty of room around your unit. Also, trim any branches from trees that grow overhead but be sure to clear out any sticks or leaves that may have fallen in the process.

Taking steps to protect your air conditioner from damage ensures it will operate efficiently and can extend the life of the unit, saving you time, money, and headaches in the long run.

Family-owned and operated since 1980, Heating & Cooling Two can help service all of your HVAC needs. Contact us today to schedule preventative maintenance or repair on your air conditioning unit.

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