(770) 455-6722

Serving Metro Atlanta & Surrounding Areas

Cunningham Associates
Heating and Air Conditioning, Inc.

The Dangers of Carbon Monoxide

It’s not unusual this time of year to hear a devastating story of a family who succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning in their home. We encourage you to know the signs, symptoms, and steps to prevent carbon monoxide and keep your family safe.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, tasteless gas. Because you can’t see it, taste it, or smell it, it can kill without warning. Those at especially high risk are babies, children, senior citizens, and others with respiratory problems, but all people are in danger.

The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning mimic the flu, such as fatigue, headache, and dizziness. If irritability, confusion, loss of consciousness, and vomiting start, it’s important to check CO levels.

Most carbon monoxide problems come from a gas furnace that hasn’t been inspected or maintained. All gas appliances emit carbon monoxide, but have some way to vent it to the outdoors. When there are cracks or leaks in the system, this dangerous gas gets trapped inside the house, having sometimes serious consequences.

The best course of action is to invest in carbon monoxide detectors and install one on each level of the home, by the sleeping areas. Like a smoke detector, it will emit an alarm when the level of carbon monoxide reaches a certain level, alerting residents to seek fresh air.

It’s also crucial to get your furnace inspected regularly. Older furnaces, especially, can develop cracks in the combustion chamber that may not be visible to the naked eye. Vent connections may come loose over time, blowers might stop working well, or thermostat problems could force the furnace to run too long. In some cases, the pilot flame might appear yellow, a sign that fuel is not burning correctly.

Carbon monoxide is a serious problem, so make sure your furnace and other gas appliances are inspected regularly to keep your family safe. Overdue for an inspection? Contact us today for a tune-up!

Is it Time for the Installation of a New Heating System?

Furnaces last for years, and in many cases, it can be hard to tell when it’s time to get a new one. The most obvious sign, a complete failure, is actually the end stage of a long process of deterioration. It’s better to get a new heating installation long before this point. When is it a good time to go ahead with the upgrade?

 
Your old furnace has become a pain in the neck.
Old furnaces become troublesome because their parts wear out over time. Whichever parts are the most worn-out will likely show problems first. Things like pilot lights that constantly go out, blower motors that need frequent adjusting, safety switches that repeatedly shut things down for no apparent reason, and similar issues all point to the fact that the furnace has gotten too old to function well. While individual parts can be replaced, the other parts in the furnace will be just as old and likely to cause hassles. Save yourself the trouble and expense of repeated repair calls and get a new furnace.

 
Your gas bills are rising faster than can be explained by inflation.
Assuming your house or building hasn’t suffered draft-causing structural damage, this means that your furnace has lost a significant amount of efficiency. If it’s also an old machine, chances are good that it’s time to get a new and efficient replacement.

 
Your furnace is more than 10-15 years old.
Constant advances in technology mean that new ones are more efficient than those made years ago. This is true even if both units are brand new, so if one has been in use that long, the difference is even greater. This efficiency difference means that you can often make your money back in fuel savings over the next few years.

 
If you think it’s time for a new furnace, give us a call – we can talk through all of your options and help you pick the best system for your home.

Answers to Three Commonly Asked Home Heating Questions

It’s often said that technology isolates humankind from nature. If it does, it’s only by a thin margin. The only things separating the person indoors from the elements outside are a home’s walls, roof, and its heating system. Should the system fail, the cold outdoor temperatures will soon make their way inside. That’s why it’s best to have an understanding of how your heating system works. Here are the answers to three commonly asked home heating questions.

 
What is a heat pump?
Heat normally flows from a warm space to a cold space. However, a heat pump forces heat to flow in the opposite direction. Doing this requires energy, much like how it takes energy to pump water up out of the ground against gravity. The heat pump that warms your home uses electrical power to force heat to flow from the outdoors into your much warmer home. While this seems odd, it isn’t any more unusual than a water pump using energy to force water to flow uphill.
Another interesting fact is that your air conditioner is a heat pump that runs backwards. That is, it forces heat to flow out of your cooled home to the outside on a hot summer day.

 
Why is my heating bill so high?
There are a number of possible reasons for this:

  • Your thermostat is set too high. The greater the temperature difference between the indoors and outdoors, the faster your home loses heat.
  • Your home is poorly insulated. A poorly insulated home has less resistance to heat flow through its walls and roof.
  • Your home heating system is inefficient. An inefficient heating system can sometimes be repaired to increase efficiency, but sometimes will need to be replaced entirely, depending on what is wrong and how old the system is.

 
What does AFUE mean?
AFUE is an acronym for “annual fuel utilization efficiency.” It’s the fuel efficiency of your heating system. It’s the percentage of energy in your heating gas that actually warms up your home. An AFUE rating of 95 percent means that 95 percent of the energy in the gas you pay for goes into heating your home. A low AFUE means higher heating bills because more of the heat energy in the gas you pay for is wasted. AFUE ratings for heating systems typically range from 80 percent to percentages in the upper nineties.
If your heating system isn’t up to par, give us a call – we’d be happy to come take a look at it and make suggestions for improvement.

What Homeowners Should Know About Furnaces And Furnace Installation

There’s nothing more frustrating than waking up to a cold house because the furnace has stopped working. No matter what you do, you just can’t get warm and your family starts to suffer. Sometimes, repairs are possible, but if your furnace is older, it might just be time to replace it. There’s more to it than just picking out a new one and putting it in the same place. Furnace installation is a complicated process that is best handled by professionals.

The Right Size Furnace
When it’s time to replace your furnace, you have to choose a new one that’s the right size for your space. If it’s too small, it will not heat the entire space without running continuously. Not only is this inefficient, but it also makes the furnace work harder, which means it will wear out sooner. Conversely, if the furnace is too big, it will run in shorter cycles, which is also hard on the unit. A reputable heating company will help you choose the right size furnace for your home.

The Right Type of Furnace
The type of fuel is another important consideration when choosing a new furnace. These days, the most popular type of furnace fuel is natural gas because it is inexpensive, clean burning and readily available. Liquefied propane (LP) is a common choice for fuel in areas that do not have natural gas lines. Although not as common, coal, oil, electricity and wood are some other fuel options. Again, consult your heating company to find out which fuel type is the most appropriate for your application.

Furnace Installation
Once you’ve worked out the details about the type and size of furnace, you’ll have to arrange for installation. It’s not a simple matter of bringing the unit into the space and plugging it in, especially if the fuel source is changing. In some instances, new ductwork is necessary in order to accommodate the new furnace. Additionally, a proper exhaust system is imperative to avoid potentially fatal issues with improperly vented exhaust. The only way to assure these vital issues are addressed properly is if licensed HVAC professionals with a proven track record install your new furnace.

If your furnace is more than ten years old, has been repaired several times over the past couple of years or your heating bills are rising, it may be time for a new furnace installation. Contact us today and one of our certified technicians will be happy to come out and take a look.

Tips for Minimizing the Use of Your Heating System This Winter

Once the weather starts to drop below 60 degrees on a regular basis, you will likely start using your heater regularly. However, it is pretty easy to start dressing warmer to combat the cold inside your home. If you are well prepared, you should be able to stay warm, even when it drops into the 50s or 40s. However, when you have a family in your home, including several pets, you simply have to rely on your heating system to make sure everyone is at least somewhat comfortable temperature-wise.

To minimize the need to use your heater and save yourself some energy and money this winter, you should take advantage of a few methods.

Install Heavier Drapes through Wintertime

Blackout curtains are great to have in the summertime because they stop the heat from getting into your home, both from sun exposure and through natural air leakage in the windows. However, during wintertime, you will benefit most from installing heavy drapes that keep the warm air inside.

Cook with the Oven on a Regular Basis

If you want to make your home as warm and comfortable as possible, you should cook meals in the oven to take advantage of the residual heat that your oven will produce. It is an easy way to enjoy multiple benefits from a single task, and most of the time, kitchen heat will transfer to nearby living areas.

Open the Drapes in the Daytime

While it is important to keep your windows close, you should open the drapes up in the daytime. The sun that breaches through the windows will naturally warm up your home.

Utilize Your Ceiling Fans

While ceiling fans are great to use in the summer, they can also be useful during wintertime. By flipping the switch that ceiling fans have, the air will get pushed up instead of down, which will in turn bring the hot air that has risen down to the floor level where your family will feel the difference.

Maintaining your heating system and implementing these methods will help you enjoy a warm home while keeping energy costs to a minimum. Questions? Give us a call at (770) 455-6722 or use our handy “Ask an Expert” form on our website.

Four Sounds that Indicate You Need Furnace Repair

Although furnace repair may not be exactly the fun activity you had in mind for this weekend, having a working furnace in winter is crucial and you can’t afford to let yours break down. On the plus side, hiring a professional means you won’t need to spend your time on repairs and can still have time for your fun weekend. Here are four sounds that indicate you should call in Cunningham Associates to repair your furnace:

1. Banging
If you hear a banging sound from your furnace, listen closely for the frequency and placement of the sound. If the sound is coming from the ductwork, it could simply mean that a piece of ductwork needs reinforcing, but if it comes from the furnace itself the problem may be much more serious. If you hear a bang from the furnace itself just when it’s starting up, you could have a problem with delayed ignition. If you don’t get this fixed, it could damage the internal workings of your furnace.

2. Excessive Rumbling
If the furnace is making a sound that is a bit like a car’s wheel bearing going bad, it could be the sound of bad bearings inside the furnace. Like wheel bearings, this is a dangerous condition.

3. Any Strange Motor Sounds
Because your furnace’s motor may have individual quirks, you should compare any sounds it makes to its normal operational sounds. If you hear any unusual sounds coming from the motor, something has changed and that usually indicates a motor problem.

4. Screeching or Shrieking
If you hear a shrieking sound, it could be that the blower fan has come loose, changed position, or in some other way malfunctioned. You should get this fixed right away because a loose fan can not only beat itself up but also damage other parts that it hits.

Any of these types of sounds show that you should call a repair professional for your furnace. If you hear one of these sounds (or another odd sound) and aren’t sure how to fix it, don’t be embarrassed to give us a call for some professional advice!

What is the NEST Thermostat and what are its benefits?

When it comes to keeping warm in the winter, nothing is more important than your heating system and the thermostat you use to control it! If you’re looking to lower your energy usage and utility bill costs this winter season, the NEST thermostat is a great option for you and your home! The NEST thermostat starts learning about you and your heating needs from the very first time that you adjust it. Within a week’s time, NEST has gathered enough information to know your routine and keep your home at the optimum temperature for when you’re at home, work, or asleep! Here are few of the benefits of investing in a NEST Learning Thermostat:

It Learns and Adapts. Your NEST thermostat learns your routine by tracking each time you adjust the temperature. With each turn of the dial, your NEST thermostat is able to determine what time you wake up, leave the house for work, come home, and go to sleep. The best part is your NEST thermostat is never finished learning; it understands that your heating and cooling needs change with the seasons. NEST is sensitive to your busy schedule and will pick up how to always keep your home at the best temperature.

It Conserves Energy. Since NEST knows your daily routine, you won’t have to worry about forgetting to turn the heat down before you leave for work or go to sleep. Your NEST thermostat will stay on top of it, helping to lower your energy usage and, in turn, decrease your utility bill each month. The NEST thermostat will even generate daily reports to help you keep track of how much energy you are saving!

You can Adjust it from anywhere.  With a simple smartphone app, you can adjust your thermostat from anywhere! With this technology, you’ll always arrive home to the perfect temperature!

It Lets you know When Something is Wrong. One of the most important features of the NEST thermostat is that it will alert you to when your heating system appears to be malfunctioning. If the temperature drops to a dangerously low level or your furnace isn’t functioning properly, the NEST thermostat will let you know so that you are able to address the problem before a more serious issue arises.

Want to learn more about the NEST learning thermostat? Give us a call today to speak to one of our knowledgeable team members!

How to Save Money on Heating this Winter

Nothing beats feeling warm and cozy in your home during the cold winter months, but let’s face it: keeping your home at a comfortable temperature can cause a spike in your utility bill! Here are a few wallet-friendly heating strategies that will keep help you save a few dollars this winter:

Insulation.  Proper insulation of your home is one of the best ways to keep your home warm in the winter. It acts as an extra layer of protection from the winter chill and helps to prevent the warm air that your heating system generates from escaping. This is especially important in the attic of your home, where heat tends to rise to. If your home isn’t insulated, or you’ve noticed damage to your existing insulation, it’s something you may want to consider installing.

Adjust the temperature. Don’t forget to lower the thermostat when you leave for work or go to sleep for the night. Leaving the heat on high when you’re out of the house for extended periods of time or sound asleep will greatly increase the amount of energy that you use without cause. Turning the temperature down even a few degrees during these times can really help to reduce utility costs.

Utilize ceiling fans. Ceiling fans are great during the spring and summer months, but they can also come in handy during the winter! Reverse the direction of your ceiling fans and keep them powered on low. Since heat rises, having your fans moving in this direction will help to continuously move heat downwards and keep your home evenly heated.

Direct heat to most used rooms. If you have rooms of your home that you rarely use, such as a guest bedroom or bathroom, be sure to close the vents in those spaces. Closing them will force more air out of open vents in your more lived in spaces, keeping them warmer without having to increase the temperature on your thermostat.

Utilize the sun. The sun is a great source of natural heat! During the day, open your curtains to south facing windows to allow for the sun light to heat the room. Just remember to draw the curtains once the sun has set.

Clean your furnace. Your furnace will run more effectively and efficiently when it is clean. Over time, dust can build up in and around your furnace, forcing it to work twice as hard to heat your home.  Be sure to keep your furnace and the area around it clean and change the filter every few months.  In doing so, your furnace will use less energy and saving you money!

Contact us to learn more about our energy efficient heating systems!

The Importance of Prepping your Furnace for Winter

As the temperature begins to drop outside, it’s time to start thinking about turning on the heat for the first time this season! Before you do, it’s important to make sure that your heating system is in good working order, which includes a thorough inspection of your furnace. Your furnace is an important investment that will keep your home comfortable throughout the cold winter months.  It’s important to prep your furnace before the winter chill hits, to ensure that it will run smoothly throughout the winter. Here are a few reasons why it’s important to prep your furnace before the cold hits:

Dust and debris will begin to build up in and around your furnace over time, especially during the warmer months when it’s not in use. Before you turn your heat on for the season, you’ll want to clean the filter and the area around your furnace. When your furnace is clean, it doesn’t work as hard to heat your home. This means that your house will feel warmer, your energy bills will be lower, and it’s less likely that your furnace will need to be replaced.

The blower doors on your furnace are what keep combustion byproducts from combining with the warm air being circulated throughout your home. When these doors are installed improperly, it can result in you and your family breathing in toxic chemicals such as carbon monoxide. Prepping your furnace for winter should include checking to make sure that all of the moving parts have been properly installed and functioning properly, especially if they’ve been replaced over the last few years. Doing so can go a long way in keeping your family safe.

Since no system in your home plays a larger role in keeping your warm during the winter, it’s no surprise that your furnace and water heater can get extremely hot when in use. If any boxes, tools, or flammable products have been moved near your furnace during the summer months, now is the time to find a new spot for them. Leaving flammable materials around your furnace can result in a fire or explosion in your home.

Be sure to properly inspect and prep your furnace before turning your heat on this winter season. To learn more about prepping your furnace or to schedule an appointment with a trained technician, call us today!

What Is “Indoor Air Quality” and Why Is It So Important?

We need fresh air to survive, and so it goes without saying that we want the air we breathe in to be safe and clean. We know that the air outside (especially in large cities) can carry some dangerous stuff, but what we often forget is that the air inside of our homes can contain many of the same toxins! Indoor air quality is just as important as outdoor, and here are a few things you should know about indoor air quality and why it’s so important.

Indoor air quality is a term that describes the air in and around buildings; namely your home, your workplace, your children’s schools, etc. It’s easy to assume that being inside protects you from the harmful elements outdoors, but indoor pollutants can also wreak havoc on your air quality.

Some of the most common pollutants we see indoors are pests (such as cockroaches and dust mites), secondhand tobacco smoke, radon, and formaldehyde. Exposure to these things can lead to headaches, dry eyes, nasal congestion, nausea and fatigue. In more severe cases, these pollutants can contribute to the development of lung cancer and chronic lung diseases. Additionally, poor indoor air quality can also contribute to structural rotting in your home.

Such illnesses can be scary to think about, but the good news is, there are a lot of different things you can do to improve the indoor air quality of your home!

  • Add an air filtration system. Filters will help outside debris and toxins from ever entering your home. Humidifiers and dehumidifiers can also help to keep your home at the proper moisture level.
  • Keep the air clean by keeping your home clean. Dust, vacuum, and mop your floors frequently to remove any dirt and debris.
  • Make your home a no-smoking zone. Encourage smokers in your family to do so outside.
  • Go natural. Use chemical-free products to do your laundry and clean your kitchen. A potted plant in your home will also help to purify the air.

We can help you breathe easy! Contact us today to learn more about indoor air quality solutions!