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Who Is The Best Heating Contractor In Battle Creek?

Posted by John Sims on Tue, Apr, 17, 2018 @ 08:04 AM

It's human nature to make the best buying decision. One you can feel confident Best Dealmaking. No one wants to make the second best buying decision or have regrets. In this day and age, it seems difficult to determine who or what sources are credible and who you can trust. I thought I'd address that.

I know there are plenty of choices out there when it comes the heating and cooling contractors. At Sims Heating and Cooling, we don't 'claim' to be the best deal, but we can make a pretty good case!

Click on the following links to find out:

Who We Are - Our Qualifications

How We Work - Getting The Best Installation

4 Ways We Hope To Establish Our Credibility With You And Earn Your Trust

 

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Topics: Best Furnace Service, Best Price, Customer Value

My Air Conditioner Won't Work - 5 Things You Can Check Yourself

Posted by John Sims on Fri, Apr, 13, 2018 @ 10:04 AM

The warm weather is just around the corner for Battle Creek homeowners. 5 AC ChecksThinking about your air conditioner becomes more important. What condition was it at the end of last season and over the winter.

When your air conditioner won't come on, it can be very frustrating; you just sit there and sweat! No Fun!

Air Conditioners are designed for reliability (assuming they've been maintained) over a long period and are one of the most expensive and most needed appliances in almost every home.  

Reasons for the air conditioner not working can be complex or very simple. While you are probably better off leaving the difficult problems of thermocouples, wiring and motors to a qualified professional, there are a good number of things you can check before you phone a qualified HVAC contractor for service.

Here are some initial things to check if you decide to do your own troubleshooting: 

Check the settings on your thermostat. Make sure the temperature control selector is set below the current room temperature, and the system switch is on the COOL or AUTO position. The fan switch should be set to ON for continuous airflow or AUTO if you want the blower to operate only while the air conditioner is operating.

Try to get the air conditioner to turn on by lowering the thermostat to its lowest temperature setting.

If the air flow out of your registers seems low, check the air filter. An extremely dirty air filter can block air flow.

Make sure all registers are open and not obstructed.

Check the power disconnect switch by each unit (outdoor and indoor).

Check the fuse/breaker at the electrical panel for both the outdoor and indoor unit.

If the problem persists, please call us.

Here's a little more in-depthl trouble-shooting Follow These 5 Steps When You A/C Isn't Cooling Your Home. It just might save you a service call.

Follow This Trouble-Shooting Checklist First Yourself (if you feel comfortable doing it.)

Try 'Troubleshooting' The Problem:

  1. The first place to look is the thermostat. It may sound simple, but check to see that it is turned on. All modern thermostats have an on off switch, but they are not clearly labeled with an “on” position. The “on” position is labeled “heat” or “cool.” Obviously you want to make sure the switch is in the “cool” position. If you have a programmable thermostat be sure you bypass the program by adjusting the temperature number and pressing the “hold” button. If the A/C still does not come on you’ll want to check to see if your thermostat has a replaceable battery and check it. 
  2. If your A/C system still does not come on, look for an on/off switch at the furnace itself. It looks just like a light switch and is often attached to the unit itself, or very nearby. Make sure the switch is on. If you have central air-conditioning as part of your system and it worked properly over the summer, then more than likely your switch is already on. 
  3. Is the furnace/air handler fan running? If it is not, then, check to see if the fan on the outside unit is running. If the fan on the outside unit is not running either, check to make sure that the breakers in your electric panel for the furnace/air handler and the air conditioner are on.  The breaker could have tripped and the solution to the problem could be as easy as flipping the switch.  
  4. If all switches are on, the problem could be with the cover on the front of the furnace. The cover often has a trip switch which shuts off the system when it is opened. If the cover is not properly closed, the switch can prevent the blower in your furnace from running.  
  5. If the blower(in your furnace) is running but the fan on the outside unit is not, then continue your air conditioner troubleshooting at the outside unit. If the blower on the furnace is running, check to see if you see any frost or ice around the units. You might also notice water around the furnace. Is there ice on the copper lines going outside? If yes, then shut the outside unit off for a couple of hours but let the blower on the furnace run. This will allow the ice to melt.(also a good time to have it serviced)

 

 

Topics: Air Conditioning Tune Up, Emergency Repair, Air Conditioners

Will Replacing My Windows Lower My Energy Bill?

Posted by John Sims on Thu, Jan, 04, 2018 @ 12:01 PM

I always get a little 'riled up' when I see advertising for replacement windows that is pretty OnlineComfortHighBills.pngmisleading. You may have seen the TV ads by a window company trying to connect the purchase of a 'houseful' of replacement windows as the solution to the upcoming Winter. As we covered in a previous article, the Farmer's Almanac is claiming to be very cold like last Winter.

Here's what they say: "Remember last winter? Order windows today & beat winter this year!"

Replacement windows are a several $1000 dollar investment. The question is, is that the wisest investment you can make?

Here at Sims Heating And Cooling, we continually look for the best information in the marketplace that we can deliver to homeowners in the Battle Creek area. Our goal is to keep your heating and cooling costs to their absolute minimum--while maintaining comfort and safety for your home; and if we can bring other credible information from various building science experts that help you make good decisions for your home we want to share it with you.

With all the advertising for replacing your windows, homeowners ask the question, are they worth it? So we thought we'd let, Craig DeWitt, Ph. D., P.E. at RLC Engineering answer it:

Q: Are replacement windows a cost-effective way to lower my energy bills? Some companies are claiming that my energy bills will be up to 49% lower.
 
 
A: In most situations, replacement windows are NOT cost effective from an energy standpoint. From analysis of several houses using energy auditing software, I see realistic savings closer to $50-$100 per year. In one recent house with a replacement window estimate of well over $10,000, the savings were estimated at $52 per year. You'd be better off putting the money in the bank and drawing 1% interest.
I do see a couple reasons for considering replacement windows: 1) You can't see through the old ones, 2) The old ones won't open, 3) The old ones are rotten, falling apart, or expensive to maintain, 4) Personal belongings are subject to fading, or 5) You have a lot of un-shaded windows facing east, south or west.
Be aware of a couple items. The glass in replacement windows will probably be smaller than in the old windows. The light coming in may be less, especially with Low-E coatings. Air infiltration may change significantly, which may cause some borderline situation to become problems.

From a personal business stand point and something very near and dear to our heart, a furnace tune up will be worth every penny this Winter. If you'd like to learn why, spend 3 minutes and watch the video we put together called the, "The TOP 10 Reasons for a Furnace Tune Up."

Topics: Furnace Tune Ups, Heating Costs, Windows

What Do Furnace Tune Ups And Underground Sprinkling Have In Common?

Posted by John Sims on Fri, Oct, 13, 2017 @ 14:10 PM

Both sould be done before winter. This is the time of year that if you have underground sprinkling you better get the

water in the lines blown out. It's one of those Fall time 'to-do's' that have bad consequences if you forget. There's a window of time to get it done. Lots of URGENCY, right?

The point I want to make is having your furnace tuned up should be right up there when it comes to home maintenance; should be common sense. I know you may be thinking that I haven't had a tune up for years and my furnace still comes on and heats my home without 'catastrophic' damage. I get that.

What most homeowners don't understand is there's a risk of death component from carbon monoxide poisoning whenever you have gas in your home. Obviously, that's a much greater consequence than your underground sprinkling cracking from the water freezing up in the winter.

A furnace tune up is kinda like changing the oil in your car. Seriously, who goes 6,000, 7,000 or 10,000 miles without changing you oil?

Unfortunately, we see too many (91%) who do that very thing with their furnace. Regular maintenance is just as important, and it's not just what we are saying.

PATH, (Partnership for Advancing Technology In Housing), states this, "In most homes, heating, air conditioning, and domestic hot water systems are typically ignored until they malfunction" We agree!! From our perspective, that's exactly what we see day in and day out. That doesn't make sense to us.

Here are the 4 most important reasons to schedule a furnace tune up: 

Caution4-1.pngAvoid The Threat Of Carbon Monoxide. The furnace tune-up is first about the occupants safety. You want to make sure you don't have any lurking unsuspecting health threats. Think about it, you're pumping natural gas(or LP gas) in your home to meet up with a flame....Combustion-based heating systems consume oxygen and produce heat along with two primary combustion products (carbon dioxide and water vapor). There are also unwanted combustion byproducts, including carbon monoxide, nitrous oxides, and smoke. That's why inspecting the heating system for cracks and failed seals is worth the Tune-Up. You do not want flue gases to escape into the home.


Help.pngAvoid The 'Got NO HEAT' When Can You Fix It' Emergency! Most calls we get start with, "Ughh.. what a nuisance." Life is very busy and it's not worth letting it run until the inevitable. People want peace of mind.

 

 

Meter.pngEnsure Efficient Performance, Saving You $$. According to major industry studies conducted by Utilities, 75% of installed A/C equipment are improperly charged. A/C Systems with a 20% undercharge of refrigerant can DOUBLE your utility bills…That's why we say your electric bill may be burning a hole in your pocketbook. Refrigerant undercharge is hard on your compressor. It needs to be tested and charged correctly. An industry term used by some technicians is not acceptable for our tune ups. It's known as the 'beer-can-cold' hand test; that just doesn't cut it.

Comfort2.pngPrevent Premature Failure Of Your System. Because of notoriously poor specification and installation, HVAC equipment tends to operate inefficiently and deteriorate faster than necessary through problems such as over-sized equipment, excessive cycling, improper operating temperatures and leaky or faulty ducts.

 

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Topics: Maintenance, Furnace Tune Up, Safety, Carbon Monoxide

Problems With Battle Creek Ranch Style Houses

Posted by John Sims on Wed, Oct, 11, 2017 @ 12:10 PM

I know ranch homes are popular in the Battle Creek area. I ran across someRanchHomeProb.png helpful information for those who live in this type of home; especially when it comes to preparing this fall for winter season.

As the author points out they don't necessarily have large heating bills but they have some unique problems during the heating season. First let's define what is considered your typical ranch style home

Ranch Style Houses – Ranches are typically a single floor layout with a wide profile and a long shallow-pitched roof. The roof line can have either end gables or hip roofs. The roof eaves usually extend far past the building foot print, providing essential shade from the Southwest summer sun. The floor plans are open, simple and spacious, often including an attached garage; maybe some bay windows and French doors.

The Advantages - They’re reasonably priced and work well as starter homes. Because the framing is so simple, it’s quite easy to insulate and air seal (hey, insulation advantage).
 
The open layout of ranches are often incorporated into landscaping and views, creating nice living environment. Ranches are an obvious choice for elderly couples looking for single level living.

Disadvantages,

Ice Dam edition Do ranch style houses have intrinsic problems with heating and cooling (yeah, I wouldn’t have used the word ‘intrinsic’ if they didn’t). Partly it is a result of originating in the Southwest. Building features like the low pitch roof and extended eaves make great sense in a predominantly sunny climate. They provide extra shade during the long, much hotter summers. In a cold climate, this is a formula for ice dams. Ice dams are formed when an upper portion of the roof is over the freezing point and a lower portion is below it. The snow melts at the top and refreezes on the lower edge.

Roofs in northern climates usually have sharp pitches, enabling them to shed snow. The ranch’s shallow pitched roof allows snow to accumulate more easily. More snow means more snow to melt and the extended eaves are just more roof for the water to refreeze. Tada. 8″ ice dams.

IceDams2.jpg

Now, THAT'S an Ice Dam

Cold Spots: Another issue is cold spots. Random cold spots crop up in ranch-style houses. There are many thermal bypasses common to all house designs. Holes through the frame like the chimney, plumbing chases, recessed lighting and interior wall seams all whisk heat out of the house. This aggressive heat loss wouldn’t be as noticeable in a 3 floor colonial. It wouldn’t be any less but just not as noticeable. The single level living of ranch style houses means cold drafts can be unavoidable. If the plumbing chase makes the bathroom in a big Colonial unbearably cold … go to another (warm) bathroom. With a ranch, the cold bathroom may be the only one.

Excessive Foundation Heat Loss: The extended footprint of a ranch means more exposed basement concrete. The most aggressive heat loss in a house is usually through the above grade foundation. The foundation concrete has almost no insulating value (about R-1 per 8 inches) and 12-24 inches of it protrudes out from ground level. Take two 1500 square foot houses, one a 2-story colonial, the other a ranch. The colonial will have a foundation perimeter around 160 linear feet while the colonial would have one around 110 linear feet (very ballparky, of course). In this example, the ranch house would have 45% more exposed foundation concrete than a colonial of the same size.

Lastly, ranch style houses are often built on slabs. These concrete slabs are very rarely insulated since the era of ranch construction (post-World War II through the 70s) pre-dates slab insulation as a best practice. In extreme cases, the cold edge of an uninsulated slab can be a moisture condensation point. An uninsulated concrete slab is a massive heat sink though the majority of heat loss can be addressed by trenching out around the perimeter and installing edge insulation.

Ranch style houses gained popularity in the Baby Boom generation. They were well suited to expansion in the Southwest but were not ideal for cold weather climates. Keep in mind those heating challenges of the ranch design and you can make your home warmer and more comfortable.

Source:Erik North

As always, we hope to provide credible information that helps homeowners in the Battle Creek area.

If You Want Your Furnace To 'Fire-Up" Like You Hope And You Haven't Had A Tune Up In Several Years, Give Us A Call Or Schedule Below

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Topics: Ice Dams, Comfort, Cold Drafts

Get The 'Biggest Bang For Your Buck' When Adding Insulation

Posted by John Sims on Wed, Oct, 04, 2017 @ 11:10 AM

If you decide to add insulation this fall, focus on your attic or roof line and thenBiggest_Bang.png reducing air leakage in the basement and/or crawlspace. Especially, where your foundation meets your floor joist.

Access to your walls is not really a good option because you're not going to remove the drywall unless you're doing some remodeling. If you're planning to remove your siding and re-side the house, there are some measures you may want to consider at that time to improve the insulation.  

REMINDER: R Value – Fact or Faulty Myth R-Value in the lab just doesn’t cut it in the field when it comes to the real-world. Most consumers are familiar with the term but have no concrete understanding what it really means other than it has to do with insulation and energy efficiency. The problem is the understanding stops there and crowds out the important information and science necessary to realize/achieve the results your hoope for. Unfortunately, in the construction world r-value is the “pink” standard.

The problem IS "R-values can be misleading! To use a quote from an ultra energy-efficiency engineer, “if both insulation materials have the same R-value, they should perform the same,”  ask yourself this question, “would you rather pour hot coffee (which is served at around 180 degrees) over your lap into a thin foam cup or into 1″ of fiberglass insulation (which is about the thickness of your furnace filter)?” Does one inch of foam truly perform the same as one inch of fiberglass? No! You get the idea!

All insulation materials (except for urethane foam) are going to test out at between R-3 and R-4 per inch. In fact, if air can penetrate the building materials(like fiberglass) the effective R-Value is ZERO, no matter how deep you stack it.

So before you add rolls of fiberglass insulation or blow more cellulose in your attic, make sure you seal any air penetrations in your attic floor

To get the 'biggest bang for your buck' when adding insulation, focus on your attic or roof line and then reducing air leakage in the basement and/or crawlspace. Especially, where your foundation meets your floor joist.

Hope that helps!

 

Topics: Energy Efficiency Tips, Attic Insulation, Basement Insulation

The Science Of How Does Insulation Work - 3 Principles You Should Know

Posted by John Sims on Wed, Sep, 27, 2017 @ 12:09 PM

I wasn't sure what to write about today knowing homeowners are waiting for the cooler days of fall where there air conditioners will get a 'rest' from unseasonal heat. Also, talking about furnaces and heating is just beginning to be on the mind of homeowners

This is a great time of year to invest in insulation; something many homeowners feel comfortable in doing themselves. The right investment will reduce energy use and increase comfort!

I thought it might be beneficial to learn how insulation works so you have a better understanding on what measures to take. Being the engineer that I am, I always like knowing how things work.

Homeowners make bad decisions because of lack of knowledge. For those who know me, I don't claim to be the expert on everything to do with an energy efficient, comfortable and healthy home. But we are always on the lookout for credible information to share with homeowners in the Battle Creek area

HERE's The KEY: Insulation works by slowing the three forms of heat transfer and each insulation slows the three forms differently

Erik North who has a blog called Energy Auditing Blog. It's an excellent resource

How Does Heat Energy Move?

There are three ways that heat energy moves: 1. conduction, 2. convection and 3. radiation. Conduction is the transfer of energy from one solid to another in direct contact. Convection transfers heat by a fluid or gas (think of the hot air coming off a stove). Finally, radiation is the infrared radiation coming from the heat source. This is the warmth one would feel while sunbathing.

The building enclosure is what separates the conditioned controlled environment inside your house from the unconditioned space outside of it. All that wall and roofs stuff. This means keeping cold air and rain water out and warmth in. The thermal control layer does the heat retention job, and insulation is why a modern building does a better job of it than an uninsulated balloon-framed one. Insulation slows the transfer of heat across the building enclosure. But how does it work?

And Insulation Stops This Heat How?

Insulation works in ways which slow down these types of heat movementFiberglass (and other fibrous insulation like rockwool or cellulose) trap warm air in its millions of fibers, slowing the energy transfer. Foam board insulation (XPS, polyiso and EPS) and spray foam encapsulate low conductive gas molecules in its structure. Finally the materials, like polystyrene foams or cellulose plant fibers, can have a low conductive value.

Insulation can stop convective (air transported) heat loss if it is an air barrier. Convection is air transported heat loss. Insulation that aren’t air permeable like foam board insulation, can stop this form. This is one drawback of fibrous insulation. They can be very porous and ineffective at stopping air transported heat loss. But if its paired with an effective air barrier, fibrous insulation can ably retain heat.

Lastly, radiant heat emits from every heat source but the one most affecting homes is solar radiation (the sun beating down on your home). We often hear about ‘low E glazing’ on windows. This is a slight metallic coating, reducing the emissivity of the window glazing. Reducing the amount of radiant heat entering can help reduce the cooling load of the building. Reflective barriers can also slow radiant heat transfer.

Insulation works by slowing the three forms of heat transfer and each insulation slows the three forms differently. For example, fiberglass has poor convective resistance because it can’t stop air flow. By knowing the material properties of insulation, you can best keep your home warm and cozy.

 

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Topics: Building Science, Heat Loss, Insulation

I Guess We Need To Still Talk Air Conditioning

Posted by John Sims on Fri, Sep, 22, 2017 @ 11:09 AM

With this late season heat, air conditioners are going to be getting a workout!MatchedSystems.png Even though we know the switch will change quickly. Yes, it's Michigan.

Typically we're talking about furnace replacement this time of year and preparing for the heating season; even though furnace installations take place year-round.

Fall and spring are ideally a great time of year to schedule it. These are periods where heating and cooling contractors are generally not as busy. We have more flexibility in scheduling the installation and you may want to check with us to see if we have any pre-season promotions from Carrier.

This is a common question from homeowners, "should I replace my air conditioner at the same time as furnace replacement?"

Replacing furnaces along with air conditioners is ideal to create balanced HVAC systems. Both systems share air handlers and indoor coils, so upgrading all equipment together can ensure all components are properly matched, and save labor. Installing a brand new matched system this time a year makes for an excellent installation.

If you're not sure if you should be considering a replacement, here's a rule of thumb. If both systems are 12+ years old, it may be time to consider replacing them at the same time.

To help you, I'll make the same offer I made for sending me photos of your furnace in my last article to do the same thing with your air conditioner. Email me both. We can give you a little better idea.

So, in light of this late season heat wave, I thought I'd bring to your attention that if you are thinking about replacing and upgrading your heating and cooling system before it fails and you have to scramble.

Like I said, Fall is an excellent time of year to replace a complete system; one that includes your furnace and air conditioning unit outside.

 

Topics: Best Value, Furnace Replacement, Air Conditioning Equipment

Not Sure Of The Condition Of Your Furnace Or If You Should Upgrade?

Posted by John Sims on Tue, Sep, 19, 2017 @ 15:09 PM

We've are testing an innovative way to help homeowners get an idea for FREE.FurnacePhotos.jpg Now I realize the timing of this article may be off with the unseasonable warm weather forecast for the next 5 or 6 days. But as you know, it's a matter of time before the cold winds blow.

Is The Age Of Your Furnace Costing You Money And At Risk For Failure?

We're trying something new in this hyper-connected digital world. I realize it's not, "hey Alexa, what's the condition of my furnace" (HaHa)

With everyone running around with a smart phone in their pocket I thought it might make sense to make an offer to homeowners to take some photos of their furnace that show the make and model, give an idea of the condition. (Trust me, we've seen it all)

A lot of homeowners have no idea what shape their furnace is in until it fails. But scheduling someone to come out was too inconvenience

We're not saying that the feedback or advice we'd give you in any way is the final recommendation. We could give some general guidelines in other word, "if we were you." Whether you ever decide to do business with us or not. Kinda based on what we see...

When To Replace Is A Common Question Espcially When You Need Some Repairs

Hey, doctors are giving teleconsults. So we thought we'd try to apply something similar to determine the 'health' of your furnace, or at least give you an idea without having someone come out.

All you have to do is take photos from 4 -5 angles and make sure one of them shows the make, model and serial number and then send them to my email address. jsims@simsheatingandcooling.com

furnace repair battle creek

I hope you'll share this with your friends and neighbors so they can have the same time saving opportunity.

 

Topics: Furnace Replacement, Furnace Failure, Best Furnace Service

Which Makes For A Colder Winter, 'El Nino' Or 'La Nina'?

Posted by John Sims on Fri, Sep, 15, 2017 @ 12:09 PM

When you look at the forecast for the next week will be 10 to 15 degrees above normal; YES! So it may not be on your mind to think about the coming winter forecast.

If you're like me, you don't remember what the difference is between "El Nino" and "La Nina"

 

The question may be, is this the year you replace (upgrade) your furnace?

Based on this article, the title tells you everything:

Colder snowier winter may slam Great Lakes due to La Nina rapidly developing

La Nina appears to be rapidly developing, and that could influence winter in the Great Lakes region.

Ocean surface water temperatures have been cooling quickly over the past month. If the cooling continues, a La Nina will be officially declared underway.

Ocean water is cooling rapidly along the equator. The cooler water could turn into La Nina. 

LaNina.jpg

NOAA has been watching this cooling water and has now issued a La Nina Watch for late this fall 2017.

La Nina is an ocean situation where cooler than normal water moves to the ocean surface from deeper ocean depths. La Nina is the opposite of El Nino, which brings warm water to the ocean surface. It's well known that El Nino can often bring the northern U.S. and the Great Lakes warmer than normal winter conditions.

La Nina can do almost the opposite. A strong La Nina gives the Great Lakes region a slightly increased chance of colder than average temperatures in the winter months. At the same time, a persistent storm track from Oklahoma to Ohio can develop during La Nina. That kind of storm track can bring above normal precipitation to the Great Lakes region and Michigan.

A weak La Nina may not have much influence on Michigan's winter weather. If the La Nina becomes strong, there would be a higher chance of colder than average and snowier than average weather in Michigan. Current forecasts range significantly on the strength of La Nina, but the average forecast is for a medium strength La Nina. This is a significant change from the past few months, when neither La Nina or El Nino were expected this winter.

We will have to watch the progression and strength of the developing La Nina. Currently there is a large area of colder than normal water several hundred feet below the ocean surface. It looks like that cold water is moving toward the surface. 

This new La Nina threat means we better start to think about all of the misery and fun that goes with a real Michigan winter. 

Source Mlive 

 

Here's A Great Place To Start If You Are Considering Replacement

How To Buy The Best Furnace

Topics: Best Value, Furnace Replacement, Best Furnace Service

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