Category : HVAC

Make Sure Your Heater Is Ready for the Cold

West Chester heating

Fall is officially here and while temperatures are still pretty warm, they won’t stay that way for much longer. Once the cool, crisp nights kick in, you’ll want your heater to take the chill off. But if you wait until you’re cold to turn it on for the first time, you may find out that there’s something wrong with it and be stuck waiting for a repair.

At our heating company, we always tell our customers It’s not too early to make sure your heater is working properly. Here are some things you can do to prep it for the cold months:

Replace the filter

Start your heater off with a fresh, clean filter for the winter months and it’ll trap more dirt, dust, and allergens to help you stay healthy.

Inspect the exhaust flue

The exhaust flue is what carries gasses away from your home and outside, so inspect it to make sure it’s clear and that nothing is obstructing it (like leaves, nests, branches, etc.).

Clear away the area

If you have any storage items (boxes, furniture, paints, etc.) near or on top of your heater, make sure you move them away from the unit. You don’t want anything catching on fire.

Check your vents

Check the vents around your home and make sure that nothing is obstructing the path of airflow. It’s also a good idea to give your vents a good dusting; simply remove the vent covers and use a vacuum cleaner to suck up any dust and dirt that may have collected over the summer.

Call Oliver

Our West Chester heating experts will do a seasonal inspection to make sure that your heater is good to go. We’ll check for problems like leaks, cracked belts, motor issues, and more, and if we find anything that needs addressed, we’ll fix it up quickly.


What to Think About Before Installing Your New AC

air conditioner installation

It’s hot outside, and if you’ve unfortunately experienced a broken or overheated air conditioner, you probably don’t want to go the rest of the summer without one. At our HVAC company, air conditioner installation is one of our specialties, but before you decide on a new unit, there are a few things we think you should think about:

The Right Contractor Is Key

There are a lot of HVAC contractors out there and before you schedule your air conditioner installation, make sure you know the company well. Sometimes homeowners who are unfamiliar with the world of HVAC feel pressure to make decisions about their new system. A reputable, trustworthy contractor will answer your questions thoroughly, provide examples of high quality workmanship, and employ technicians and installers you feel comfortable with in your home. We know an air conditioner is a big investment, and finding the right contractor is key. Do some research on each company and find out how long they’ve been in business, if they’re focused on customer satisfaction, and if they have the proper licensing (like us!).

You Don’t Need to Go Big

While it may seem like a larger air conditioner will do a better job of cooling your home, that’s not always the case. Today, air conditioners have been getting smaller while still being able to give you the amount of energy you need. If a contractor suggests a larger, more expensive air conditioner for your home, be wary and get several other opinions before you agree. Also keep in mind that a larger air conditioner will cost more to run and put more stress on your equipment than a smaller one.

Get Estimates

As we said, an air conditioner installation is a big investment, which means you should talk to more than one HVAC contractor before making a decision. Each contractor may offer you different prices, warranties, labor costs, and more, so make sure you get written estimates from each one and don’t just choose the one who will do the job for the least amount of money. Also make sure you choose a contractor you feel comfortable with and who isn’t afraid to answer any questions you may have.

Don’t Forget About SEER

Today, each air conditioner has a SEER (or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating number that will tell you how efficient an air conditioner is. The higher the SEER number, the better the air conditioner. We recommend not making a decision on an air conditioner until you’ve talked to an expert about what SEER number is right for your lifestyle. For example, if you’re planning on selling your home in a few years, you may only need a mid-rated unit instead of a high-rated one.

For any other questions you may have (and for the best air conditioner installation experts in the area), give us a call today.


Why Oliver Is Different Than Other Contractors

HVAC service company

At Oliver Heating & Cooling, we take pride in being different than other contractors. For more than 40 years, we’ve been one of the most trusted names in the area and we plan on keeping it that way. Find out what our HVAC service company has to offer.

A Unique History

At Oliver, our company didn’t start like most others. In fact, we have a very unique story behind our founding, and it has to do with a church prayer meeting. When Joe Oliver was downsized from Boeing Helicopter Division toward the end of the Vietnam War, he was left unemployed and needed to find a way to support his wife and six sons.

After he shared his concerns with his church prayer group, one member suggested he open an HVAC business. Even though Joe had no experience in HVAC, he decided to follow the suggestion and opened Oliver Heating & Cooling in 1971. Joe was dedicated to the industry and attended night classes and worked 14-hour days. The hard work paid off and years later, Oliver is the successful business that it is today.

Extensive Training

Our HVAC business knows how important training is, and that’s why each and every one of our contractors goes through an extensive program to earn their NATE Certification (the highest certification in the industry). This ensures that their workmanship is both professional and trustworthy. In addition, our employees must complete our Character-First Program that teaches them how to build a culture of integrity, resolve conflict, encourage employee morale, and more.

Our Hires

At Oliver, we don’t just hire anyone with a background in HVAC or plumbing. We carefully select each of our employees based on personality, experience, and background. We perform thorough background checks and drug screenings on every applicant and make sure they have the right qualities to fit our high standards. You know when you call Oliver, you’ll get friendly, reliable service.

The Latest Equipment

As technology gets more innovative, so does the need for the latest equipment. Our company trucks and vans are always fully stocked with the tools needed to get nearly any job done. Whether it’s a simple repair or an entire replacement, we’re always ready to help.

Customer Satisfaction

Since we opened our doors in 1971, we’ve been satisfying homeowners and business professionals throughout the Delaware Valley and beyond. Our customers, both old and new, count on us for a variety of services and we’re happy to help with the most professional and affordable options. Our expertise and friendly attitudes are what keep people coming back of years on end.

Employee Benefits

At Oliver, our employees are an incredibly important aspect of our business, so we make sure to treat them right. We offer 100% medical coverage, a 401k program, workman’s compensation insurance, life insurance, and more. After all, happy employees mean a better business.

We’d love to show you exactly what makes us different from other contractors, so whether you have a small problem or a big issue, give us a call today. We’d be happy to help.


What to Look for in an HVAC Contractor

At Oliver, we know trying to decide on an HVAC contractor can be tough – you want the best equipment, but don’t want to be overcharged. You also want to talk to friendly, knowledgeable technicians who have experience and can get the job done right. We’ve put together a little checklist to help you know what to look for in a good contractor:

Recommendations

When someone discovers an HVAC contractor they can trust, they often stick with them, so ask your friends or family for recommendations. If they’ve found a great company, they won’t hesitate to let you know.

Regulations

A good HVAC contractor should abide by regulations, so look into your state and local codes and regulations to make sure the one you’re considering does. Then, ask questions – ask to see their license or ask for the license number. Also ask about their business insurance and workman’s compensation insurance, both of which they should have for safety reasons.

A Written Estimate

HVAC contractors should have no problem giving you an estimate in writing for your equipment and their services. If they don’t (say they only offer you one over the phone), take it as a little red flag and talk to another company. Also, getting estimates in writing makes it easier to compare them and choose the best one.

Knowledge

A good HVAC contractor should be able to assess your situation, review all of your options, then help you decide on the best solution for your home and your financial status. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask – a knowledgeable technician should be able to answer.

NATE Certifications

A trained and qualifiedHVAC technician should have completed a program offered by the North American Technician Excellence Inc. and have gotten a NATE Certification. Make sure the contractor you want to hire employs technicians with these certifications.

Customer Service

When you talk to an HVAC contractor, pay attention to the way you’re treated. If they are friendly and you’re treated well, it’s a good sign that that’s how you’ll be treated if there’s ever a problem. On the other hand, if you’re not satisfied with their customer service, find someone else so you don’t run into problems later.

Whether you’re interested in a new HVAC system, need an electrical repair, have a plumbing issues, or want to have your insulation assessed, our HVAC and plumbing company can help. Give us a call today for more information and to set up an appointment.


4 Ways Snow Can Affect Your Heater

snow heater

This past weekend, winter storm Jonas dropped well over two feet of snow in much of the Northeast and at Oliver, we were getting calls left and right because of it. One of the most popular issues in the area was a heater that simply stopped working, which can happen during a snowstorm. Here are four ways the snow can affect your heater:

Block Air Intakes

Our on-call managers fielded many questions about shut-down heaters due to snow that had piled up and blocked their fresh air intakes. When your heater’s intake is blocked due to snow or ice, it causes the unit to shut down.

Block Exhaust

While heaters need to take in fresh air in order to operate properly, they also need to expel air through an exhaust. If their exhaust gets blocked due to snow or ice, it can also cause the unit to shut down.

Corrosion

Gas furnaces and boilers both have controls that can be susceptible to water damage, especially during heavy rains or when snow starts to melt. If these elements experience enough water, they’ll begin to corrode and could cause reliability issues.

Bent Fans/Fins

On some occasions, snow and ice could build up on your unit’s aluminum fan and coil fins. When this happens, the weight of the build-up could cause them to bend and eventually break. If you notice a loud sound while your heater is on, bent fins could be why.

How to Prevent Damage

If you know you’re going to get a snowstorm, be sure to include clearing the air intakes, exhaust, and space around outdoor heat pump units in your snow removal plan. Also make sure that after bad weather, there isn’t snow or ice accumulated on the top of the outdoor unit of your heat pump or air conditioner. If there is, turn off the unit and use warm water to melt it away. After it’s clear, turn it back on.


Why You Should Replace Your HVAC Filters

dirty HVAC filters

At Oliver, we constantly remind customers to replace their HVAC filters every 1-3 months, depending on their living situation. This replacement is an easy task and doesn’t take long (our HVAC repair experts can even do it for you!), and it can mean a longer life for your HVAC system. Here are some things that may happen when you keep a dirty filter in your system:

Air Pollutants

The whole idea of an HVAC filter is to filter out dirt, debris, and allergens from the air and prevent them from circulating throughout your home. When you don’t replace your HVAC filter, you allow it to build up with these pollutants, and since they’re not being filtered out, you and your family end up breathing them in. Not only are they unhealthy, but they can also cause things like headaches, fatigue, shortness of breath, and other symptoms.

Decreased Flow

When your filter is full of pollutants, it’s harder for clean air to get through. This means that when you turn on your heat or air, the airflow coming through your vents won’t be as powerful as it should be, and your HVAC system won’t be able to heat or cool your home as efficiently.

An Unhappy System

Because dirty HVAC filters decrease airflow, it means that your HVAC system will have to work harder to push the air through your ducts. As the system works harder, it undergoes more stress and more stress is never a good thing for your system – it could lead to overheating and breakdowns.

Frozen Coils

A dirty filter means dirty air, and when dirty air passes over your HVAC system’s coils, it can build up on them. Once your coils are dirty, your HVAC system may not be able to transfer heat as well, and this can lead to frozen coils and an overall inefficient unit.

Higher Bills

Any and all of these problems will likely mean that you’re going to pay more for your heating or air conditioning. When your HVAC system can’t operate smoothly and correctly, it’ll have to work harder to do so. Working harder means using more energy and more energy means higher bills.


10 New Year’s Resolutions for Saving Energy

New Year's energy resolutions

A brand new year is right around the corner, and at Oliver, we want you to add “save energy” to your list of resolutions. Our HVAC service experts have come up with a few ways you can reduce your carbon footprint and save some money in 2016:

1. Don’t leave your lights on.

This is a simple resolution, but can make a big difference on your electric bill. If you’re not using the lights in a room, turn them off. This goes for living rooms and kitchens, too.

2. Use more power strips.

Even when appliances aren’t turned on or in use, they still use power when they’re plugged in. Instead of unplugging things all the time, invest in a power strip that you can plug multiple things into and turn off all at once.

3. Take shorter showers.

Shorter showers mean less hot water that your water heater needs to heat, and less hot water means a lower electric or gas bill.

4. Use your ceiling fans.

This year, give your HVAC system a break and use your ceiling fans more. Set your fans to spin clockwise in the winter and counter-clockwise in the summer. They’ll pull warm air down from the ceiling when it’s cold and create a wind chill effect when it’s warm.

5. Get a programmable thermostat.

With a programmable thermostat, you can save both energy and money by setting your heat or air conditioning to run only when you need it to (as in, when you’re home).

6. Wash full loads.

Most of the energy used by dishwashers and washing machines goes toward heating the water, and washing only half loads of dishes or laundry wastes money. Wait until you have a full load of dishes or clothes before you wash them.

7. Keep doors and windows closed.

When you have your heat or air conditioning on, close your doors and windows to prevent hot or cold air from flowing into your home and making your HVAC system work harder than it has to.

8. Invest in efficient light bulbs.

We’ve learned that traditional incandescent light bulbs use a lot more energy than they need to (and they also burn hotter), so ditch the incandescents and turn to energy-efficient LEDs or CFLs. Your electricity bill will go down and you’ll also save energy.

9. Keep the freezer full.

Just like the loads of dishes or laundry, your freezer will use more energy to keep a few items frozen than you will if you filled the freezer. Almost anything can be frozen, so look for the latest deals at the grocery store and stock up on some food for future nights when you don’t feel like cooking.

10. Improve your ductwork.

Holes or bad connections in ductwork can leak the hot or cold air that’s coming from your HVAC system. By sealing and insulating your ductwork, you can prevent air leakage and improve airflow.


5 Fall HVAC Tips for Every Homeowner

fall HVAC tips

Fall is in full swing and the nights have been getting pretty chillly, which means you may have already turned on your heat. Before it gets even colder, though, take a moment to do some quick HVAC maintenance. A well-maintained HVAC system will last longer and will perform better, keeping you warmer.

Install New Filters

HVAC filters should be changed on a regular basis (at Oliver, we recommend every one to three months), so before you get into the full swing of heat season, start your unit with fresh filters and get rid of all the pollen, dust, and dirt that may have collected over the summer.

Evaluate the Weatherstripping

You should evaluate the weatherstripping on your doors and windows. If it’s bad, it can make them drafty and cause an influx of cold air from outside. The cold air will make your HVAC unit work harder than it has to and in turn, you’ll pay more for your energy bill.

Open Your Closed Vents

If you’ve ever heard that you should close air duct vents in rooms you’re not using, don’t heed that advice. When a vent is closed, heat can’t travel correctly through your home, which makes your system to work harder than it has to. Open your closed vents and let your HVAC system do its job to achieve maximum efficiency.

Mind the Landscaping

While you should really mind the landscaping near your HVAC unit all year long, it’s especially important to do so during the fall. If there’s an early snowfall and leaves are still on the trees, the snow can weigh them down and cause the branches to snap. If this happens and your HVAC unit is nearby, it may  undergo some damage. Also, check your unit regularly for dead leaves that may have blown off of a tree and gotten lodged in it.

Do a Thermostat Test

Before you put your heat on full blast, do a test to make sure it’s working well. Use a separate reading to make sure your home is at the temperature your thermostat says it is. If it’s not, call one of our HVAC service experts; we’ll evaluate the unit and figure out what’s causing the problem.


7 Air Conditioning Myths, Busted

air conditioner

We all want to get the most out of our air conditioner, however, there are some myths floating around that aren’t actually true and may mean trouble for your HVAC unit and your wallet. Here are several we’d like to address:

1. Closing off vents will reduce your energy bill

Many homeowners will close off HVAC vents in rooms they don’t often use in hopes of reducing their energy bill (by using less air). However, your air conditioner will still pump out the same amount of air and if you close off certain “release” areas, the pressure load will be thrown off balance. This can actually make your air conditioner work harder and in turn, cost you more money.

2. Energy-efficient models save you money

While this isn’t false, it’s not entirely true, either. Energy-efficient HVAC models are a great investment, but only if you invest in the right size for your home. Having too large or too small of a unit will only backfire in terms of costs. Make sure you talk to one of our air conditioner installation experts before you choose a unit.

3. Fans are as good as air conditioning

Many people believe that by turning on their ceiling fan, they can cool the temperature of the room down (just like an air conditioner would). However, this isn’t the case. When moving air hits your skin, it cools it down. (This is why you’ll stay cooler on a breezy day than you will on a still day.) Fans circulate air in order to cool people down, not spaces, so leaving your fan on won’t lower the temperature of your room.

4. Short bursts of A/C will lower your bill

Do you frequently turn your air conditioner on when it’s hot and then off when it cools down? While you may think this saves you energy (and therefore money on your bill), you’re actually using more energy. Your HVAC unit uses the most energy when it first starts up and levels out once it has been running for a little while. You can compare this to a car, which is the most fuel efficient when you drive it on the highway at a constant speed. To get the most out of it, let it run for about 40-50 minutes at a time.

5. A lower temperature cools your home faster

Some people think that if you turn your thermostat down to say, 70 degrees, it will take less time to cool down your home than if you were to turn it down to 75 degrees. The truth is, your air conditioner works at just one speed to cool your home, so turning the thermostat down won’t make it go any faster.

6. You don’t need to inspect your A/C unless something is wrong

At Oliver, our air conditioner installation experts recommend investing in anHVAC maintenance plan. By inspecting your unit on a regular basis, we can find and fix problems before they even occur, which can save you money.

7. Air conditioners are simply for cooling

While the main job of an air conditioner is to cool your home, it will also reduce its humidity, which will make you feel much more comfortable. Some units even have specific drying features to keep your home’s moisture content down.

Have another question about air conditioning? Just ask!


A Few Questions to Ask Before Replacing Your HVAC System

 HVAC ServicesIf you think your HVAC system needs to be replaced, knowing which company to call may be a little confusing. At Oliver, we recommend speaking to and getting estimates from at least three different HVAC contractors. This way, you can compare opinions and pricing. Below are a few questions we recommend asking your contractor before making a decision:

Should I repair or replace?

After inspecting your HVAC system, a good contractor should know what the problem is and what the best solution would be. Sometimes, a malfunctioning system requires a simple fix in order to run smoothly again but other times, you’ll need to replace the whole unit.

What’s the best thermostat to use?

If you’re going to be getting a new HVAC system, should you keep the thermostat you currently have, or would it be better to replace it? Although you may decide to keep your current thermostat, many newer HVAC units are communicating systems with thermostats that can report operation information and even let you manage your heating and cooling needs remotely from an app.

What is the estimated cost and do you offer financing?

Your new HVAC estimate should include the cost of the unit and the cost of installation (including labor and any necessary parts) so that you can compare it to other companies’ estimates. Most quality contractors offer financing to help you manage the investment in your home. There are many plans available with approved credit, so ask your contractor to provide details of the plans they offer so that you can select the one that best fits your needs.

What equipment do you recommend and what is its SEER rating?

After assessing your home or business and your current HVAC unit, a contractor should be able to tell you what size unit and what capacity unit would be the best match for your space and your needs. They should also tell you what the recommended unit’s SEER rating is so you can determine if its energy efficiency is what you’re looking for.

What is the warranty coverage like?

When you get a new HVAC unit, you should know the details of the warranty – both the warranty from the unit manufacturer and the terms or guarantees from your HVAC contractor. Make sure to ask about your contractor’s maintenance plans, and whether maintenance is included in your installation package. Lack of regular maintenance can void your warranty, so be sure to have a plan in place to protect your investment.

Is my current ductwork compatible?

In addition to your current HVAC unit and the surrounding area, a contractor should also inspect your ductwork to make sure there are no leaks, size issues, or kinks that can disrupt the airflow of heat or air conditioning. If you need your ductwork repaired, cleaned, or replaced, it should be included in your estimate.

Are there any rebates/tax credits available for a new system installation?

Your contractor should know the benefits of installing a new HVAC system, including any discounts, rebates, or tax credits that could help you save some money.