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7 Questions to Ask Your HVAC Contractor

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HVAC Contractor

Choosing the right HVAC system for your Abernathy, Texas, home plays a crucial role in eliminating hot and cold spots and keeping energy bills to a minimum. In addition to choosing the best heating and cooling unit, selecting a quality HVAC contractor to perform the installation, repairs, and maintenance is equally as important. Asking questions relating to experience and references can help you choose a contractor that maximizes your HVAC energy efficiency and money savings. Here’s a look at seven questions to ask an HVAC contractor to ensure you pick the right one.

Where Can I View Your Reviews and References?

Today’s industry-leading HVAC companies have an online presence. In addition to having reviews on their websites, you can usually search for reviews by doing a Google search. Simply type in the company’s name in the Google search box and press enter. The company’s business profile will appear along with a section that reads Reviews. You can click on the reviews to read through previous and current customers’ experiences with the HVAC contractor. Look for reviews that highlight how the contractor helped the customer save money.

What Services Do You Provide?

Most HVAC contractors provide an assortment of basic services such as heating and air installation, repair, and maintenance. Some offer additional services such as geothermal, refrigeration, duct cleaning, commercial HVAC, and indoor air quality inspections. Choosing a contractor that specializes in a diverse range of HVAC services is particularly ideal because the company can help you achieve maximum indoor comfort and energy savings.

What Certifications Do Your Technicians Have?

Do you want someone working on your HVAC system that has no formal training in heating and air conditioning? Of course you don’t, and that’s exactly why you should ask about the company’s training standards. They don’t necessarily have to possess a degree from a university, but having formal training or certification in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning will ensure the technicians perform high-quality services that save you money by increasing HVAC efficiency.

How Long Have You Been in Business?

Training and certification are important, but experience is crucial when working on HVAC systems. You want a contractor that has worked on numerous cases like yours. This allows you to feel confident knowing the company can help you extend the life of your HVAC system, save you money, and optimize your unit’s energy efficiency. Although all HVAC businesses aren’t going to have 60-plus years of experience, you should choose one where the technicians have significant experience.

Do You Offer Different Maintenance Programs?

Finding a contractor that offers different maintenance agreements allows you to choose a plan that best fits your needs. Since no two homes are the same, it only makes sense that you’ll need a maintenance agreement that tailors to your unique needs and preferences. Make sure to ask about these agreements and whether they are customizable. The goal is to sign up for a maintenance plan that focuses on inspecting your home’s HVAC system at least twice a year for worn and damaged parts, followed by making the necessary repairs.

Will My Home’s Current Setup Work for a New HVAC System?

Knowing whether your home’s current duct system is sufficient for a new HVAC system is paramount to saving money, achieving good indoor comfort, and extending the life of the new unit. A qualified contractor can inspect the existing duct system for damage and leaks and tell you whether its condition will work with the new system.

What Types of Systems Do You Offer?

A good HVAC contractor will stay up to date on the latest HVAC technology and offer advanced systems that significantly increase heating and cooling efficiency. When you upgrade to a newer and more efficient system, you’ll enjoy savings on your energy bills and an extended life span for your HVAC unit.

Contact Bruce Thornton Air Conditioning at 806-589-1014 today to speak with a qualified HVAC contractor. We can help you save money by improving your home’s heating and cooling efficiency.

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5 Signs Your Air Conditioning System Needs Attention

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Air Conditioner

When the air conditioning system in your Slaton, Texas, home doesn’t seem to be cooling as well as normal, you may wonder whether you should be concerned. An air conditioning system will often provide some warning signs when it needs attention from an HVAC technician. Keep an eye out for some of the most common signs and know who to call for assistance.

Lack of Airflow

When the air coming through your vents feels weak, the compressor in the air conditioning system may be failing. Unfortunately, the compressor is one of the most vital components, so this type of issue may end up requiring a total system replacement. However, a lack of airflow can also be caused by other potential issues. For example, if your ductwork is blocked, the air won’t be able to move through the ducts properly. Even a dirty filter can cause issues with the flow of air to the rest of the house.

Keeping up with regular HVAC maintenance can reduce the risk of having this problem at your home. During an AC tune-up, your technician will inspect all the components and take a look at the ductwork to see how well air can flow through it. If they spot any warning signs during that maintenance service, you can have repairs performed right away instead of allowing the system to continue to run inefficiently.

Warm Air Coming Through the Vents

If the air conditioning system isn’t able to provide cool air throughout the space, this can indicate that the unit is running low on refrigerant. When an AC unit runs, it relies on refrigerant to remove heat from the air before redistributing the cool air throughout the space. If your unit has a leak, the refrigerant can escape, resulting in a lack of cooling ability.

Warm air coming through your vents can also indicate a problem with the compressor. Even a failing thermostat could be to blame, as it may not be communicating properly with the rest of the AC system. Contact one of our HVAC technicians if this problem is impacting the indoor temperature at your home.

Stinky Odors

Unpleasant odors are never fun, especially when they’re coming from your HVAC system and impacting the air throughout your home. The smell of natural gas could indicate the presence of a gas leak, which is a concerning issue that you should address immediately. An electrical smell could mean the wiring is giving out, while a musty odor often means you have moisture within your ductwork or cooling unit. Even something trapped within your ducts could cause a strange smell that permeates the house.

You may want to invest in regular duct cleaning to prevent debris from settling in the ducts and impacting the quality of the air you breathe indoors, as well as impacting how well the AC can move air through the ductwork. Duct cleaning can remove odor-causing bacteria and debris from causing unpleasant smells in your air as well.

Strange Sounds

Although an HVAC system makes some noise when it operates, you may notice some unusual sounds coming from the unit when something is awry. The sound of metal grinding on metal could mean that the motor bearings are not working properly. If you hear a squealing sound, a belt may have slipped out of place or come loose. A lack of lubrication on the metal components can also result in a grinding or squeaking sound. The sound of knocking could indicate a more serious problem that should be addressed by an HVAC technician.

Thermostat Troubles

If your thermostat is reading the wrong temperature or otherwise behaving strangely, you may just need a new one. Luckily, this is a fairly easy fix in most cases. If you’d like more control over your indoor temperature, you may want to upgrade to a smart thermostat that you can access from an app on your smartphone or tablet. These units connect to your home’s Wi-Fi network and often come with energy-saving features that help you keep your heating and cooling bills under control.

If your air conditioning system is showing signs that it needs some attention, our HVAC technicians at Bruce Thorton can help, so contact us at (806) 589-1014.

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5 Bad Habits that Damage Plumbing

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Damage Plumbing

Whether you nibble at your nails, chomp on gum, or slouch excessively, we all have bad habits that we’d like to ditch. While you may notice your bad habits and try to improve, you may not recognize the bad habits that are adversely affecting your home’s plumbing. Isolate and kick these bad plumbing habits and you’ll preserve both your pipes and your budget. Here are five bad habits that damage plumbing.

Neglecting Plumbing Maintenance

You’ve heard a steady drip, drip, drip coming from your bathroom sink for several weeks now, but you can handle it, right? It’s only a minor annoyance, isn’t it? You may be concerned with paying a plumbing technician to repair what appears to be a tiny leak, but it’s always best to fix it sooner rather than later so your water bill isn’t affected. It doesn’t take long for a non-stop drip to add up.

In addition to repairing leaks, our plumbing technicians can also clear clogs, check your water pressure, and clean your drains. Call and schedule an appointment with one of our plumbing technicians if you identify any issues with your plumbing.

Abusing Your Garbage Disposal

Few of us enjoy washing the dishes, and it can be tempting to speed up the process by dumping everything possible down the drain. After all, the garbage disposal will just take care of it, won’t it? No, it won’t. Your garbage disposal may be helpful at breaking up many types of waste, but it isn’t invincible. If you’re throwing fibrous materials, expandable foods (like rice), potato peels, eggshells, bones, fruit pits, or non-food items down your drain, you’re likely not only damaging the actual garbage disposal, but also the connected pipes.

Save your garbage disposal by tossing these materials into a nearby garbage can.

Letting Hair Down Your Drains

Maybe you shave over your sink or let strands of hair wash down the shower drain. It can be easy to let hair go down the drain without a second thought. These strands of hair may seem inconsequential, but they can cling to soap scum and other materials in your drains, leading to clogs that can further damage your pipes. Instead of letting that hair flow free, trap strands in mesh drain screens that you can place in your sink and over your shower drain.

Overusing Chemical Drain Cleaner

You’re tired of water draining slowly from your bathroom sink every time you try to wash your hands, so you dump chemical drain cleaner into the sink. Problem solved, right? Not quite. While that drain cleaner may be effective at clearing those small clogs, but they often cause more damage than you may think. Those powerful chemicals not only eat through clogs, but they also eat through your pipes. If you have a septic tank, then those chemicals can also harm the waste-eating bacteria living in your tank. That harm can result in sewage backup, and no one wants that.

Instead of overusing drain cleaner, use pipe-clearing tools or call on your plumbing technician to remove clogs. You can also mitigate the chances of your pipes clogging by being more careful about what you allow down the drain.

Using Your Toilet as a Trash Can

As with your garbage disposal, it can be easy to toss waste into your toilet but also as with your disposal, this isn’t a good idea. Some homeowners flush feminine hygiene products, wipes, kitty litter, paper towels, cotton swabs, and other garbage down the toilet. While toilet paper is made to dissolve in water, these other products won’t do so, even if they are labeled as "flushable." Unless something is biodegradable, then don’t use your toilet as a trash can, or you’ll inevitably damage your pipes.

Bad habits can be difficult to kick, but the first step is always recognizing the problem. Now you’re ready to cut water waste and preserve your pipes. Just don’t forget that there’s professional assistance a call away. To schedule plumbing repairs, call BTAC at 806-589-1014.

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6 Plumbing Issues That May Be Causing Your Low Water Pressure

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Maintaining good water pressure in your Lubbock, Texas, home is important to keep you and your family comfortable. If you’re noticing that low water pressure is becoming a problem in your home, there are several plumbing issues you should be on the lookout for that might be contributing factors.

Bad Fixtures

One of the most common problems behind low water pressure are issues with your faucets or showerheads. As these fixtures age, they can become clogged with lime, rust, or dirt, reducing the flow of water. To determine if your fixtures are the issue, clean the screen and aerator on the fixture and try running the faucet or showerhead again. If you don’t notice an improvement in pressure, you may need to replace the fixture.

Water Valve Problems

Two shut-off valves control the water flow in your home. The first one can be found on the street side of your water meter, and the other will be located on the home side. If you aren’t sure where these shut-offs are, you can check around the walls where the piping feeds in. Depending on your city regulations, you may have access only to the home side.

Poor water pressure can be caused by either of these valves failing to open completely, limiting the amount of water that’s pushed through at any given time. Low pressure can also be caused by damage to these valves during maintenance or by built-up sediment. If it’s a sediment issue, the valve will need to be gently opened and closed to break the sediment free and let the pressure return to normal.

Clogged Pipes

If your valves are opening and closing and your fixtures are working properly, it’s possible you have a clog somewhere in your water pipes. This is most likely to occur with galvanized pipes. You should never try to unclog water pipes on your own, because not only can it be complex to diagnose and repair, but you also run the risk of contaminating your drinking water. A certified plumber will be able to pinpoint the location of the clog and rectify the problem while preserving the purity of your water.

A Failing Pressure Regulator

Your plumbing might be equipped with a pressure regulator that can cause problems with water pressure if that regulator begins to fail — it can even cause a major increase in water pressure. If you cannot find a comfortable pressure level, there’s a good chance your regulator is malfunctioning and will need to be replaced.

Corroded Plumbing

If your plumbing has become corroded, the corrosion could be blocking the flow of water to your fixtures. This often occurs in older homes or homes with outdated plumbing. Corrosion can cause problems with the safety of your water supply, so addressing the issue should not be taken lightly.

If corrosion or leaky pipes are detected, you’ll have to consider replacing all the plumbing. When your plumbing is old and corrosion isn’t the issue, the problem could be that your old lines are too thin to provide the flow of water your home needs. If this is the case, you may still need to replace your plumbing.

An Insufficient Main Supply Line

If you’ve checked all the above issues and you’re still having a problem with your water pressure, your main supply line could be the issue. In this instance, you’ll need to find a licensed contractor who’s experienced in water mains to be able to determine if the main line is the required size. Local records may also be able to give you information about the size of the lines. If you’ve recently added more fixtures to your home, there’s a chance the current supply line might be inadequate.

Determining the cause of your low water pressure can be a process of elimination. While there are a few possibilities you can check yourself, it’s best to call a professional plumber to come out to conduct an inspection, diagnose your problem, and provide you with available solutions.

If you’re experiencing low water pressure or other plumbing issues in your home, contact BTAC at 806-589-1014 today to schedule a consultation.

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Indoor Air Quality Tips for a More Efficient Home

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More Efficient Home

Your Lubbock, Texas, home’s indoor air quality, or IAQ, is closely related to its efficiency. Getting rid of contaminants like smoke, dust, dirt, biological growth, pollen, and pet dander will improve your HVAC system’s airflow and prevent inconvenient, costly breakdowns. For a more efficient home, follow IAQ tips like cleaning regularly, using an air purifier, avoiding VOCs, and maintaining your HVAC system.

Cleaning Regularly

Keeping your home clean inside and out makes it more welcoming for guests. Vacuuming and dusting at least twice per week also removes pollutants, preventing asthma and allergy symptoms and unpleasant smells. You’ll also get rid of dirt and dust before it has a chance to clog your HVAC system’s air filter or reduce the airflow in your ductwork. Removing shoes before entering the house is another way to keep contaminants outside.

If you see debris like leaves or grass around your outdoor unit, remove it with a garden hose. You can also add an awning or terrace for extra protection and shade. Your heater and air conditioner won’t need to work as hard to keep you and your family comfortable, so you’ll save energy and extend your system’s life.

Using an Air Purifier

An air purifier or air cleaner will work in conjunction with your HVAC filter to capture contaminants before they can cause health problems like allergy or asthma symptoms, headaches, dizziness, or fatigue. Some models can even remove bacteria and viruses from your home’s air. You can choose a whole-home unit that’s connected to your home’s ductwork or a smaller portable version that works in one or two rooms at once. Just remember to change or clean the filter once per month when you change your HVAC system’s air filter.

You can eliminate additional viruses, bacteria, and even small pests like dust mites with a UV air purifier. A UVC lamp in your ductwork or evaporator coils will affect the genetic material of microorganisms, keeping them from reproducing. This light is stronger than the ultraviolet light that causes sunburns, and the atmosphere normally blocks it.

Avoiding VOCs

VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, like benzene, formaldehyde, xylene, toluene, and acetone evaporate at room temperature. They’re common in commercial fragrances, glues, paints, and cleaners, and they can easily end up in your home’s air. They’re even in some types of particle board and plastics. Air purifiers can’t remove them, but you can use ventilation to get rid of stale indoor air and filter fresh air before it comes in. Many types of ventilation can help you save energy, so a ventilation system is much more efficient than opening a door or window.

Whenever you can, use natural cleaners and air fresheners. Baking soda and water are great for removing stains, and you can make your own furniture polish with a little olive oil and lemon juice. You can use essential oils and potpourri to create a fragrant sachet. If you need to use products that contain VOCs, store them in a shed or storage building that’s separate from your home.

Maintaining Your HVAC System

You should have your HVAC system inspected by a professional at least once per year. Gaps in your home’s insulation or ductwork could let in contaminants and let conditioned air out. An expert like the professional technicians at Bruce Thornton Air Conditioning can catch problems like refrigerant leaks or malfunctioning thermostats before they become costly and inconvenient. You should also have your ductwork cleaned every few years to remove contaminants and any obstructions.

Check your ducts by removing one of your air registers and wiping your ductwork with a damp cloth. If you can wipe away dirt, dust, or other substances, you should have your ducts cleaned by a professional. You could cause damage or miss parts of your ductwork if you try to clean it yourself. Also, make sure that furniture or carpeting doesn’t block your air registers.

Bruce Thornton Air Conditioning has more than 45 years of experience and a fleet of over 65 vehicles. For excellent service and help with improving your indoor air quality from our friendly, knowledgeable technicians, call us anytime at 806-589-1014.

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