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Cleaning Bathroom Fan Vent Cover with Sponge

Why Air Duct Cleaning Is Important

June 13, 2022

Just like your lungs are an important connection to the rest of your respiratory system, your home’s ductwork, or air ducts, are importantly connected to your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system. For your HVAC system—and your lungs—to perform at peak level, the numerous airways need to be open and clear. All in the name of breathing properly.

The Importance of Every Breath Your HVAC System Takes

Essentially, the air in your Fort Collins home is carried to and from your lungs back to the HVAC system. Air ducts are the paths traveled by the air, meaning it’s optimum for the traveling air to be as clean as possible, because the air can pick up any particles or debris in the ducts and carry it straight to you. 

Having clear air ducts can contribute to good indoor air quality (IAQ), which the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states is a prime concern in relation to pollutants these days. The EPA is referring to the air quality around buildings and structures, more specifically as it pertains to the comfort and health of their occupants.

The health effects from indoor air pollutants can show up soon after you are exposed or even years later. While the scientific community recognizes common indoor air quality pollutants can have harmful consequences, it can’t pinpoint how long of an exposure or what concentrations are necessary for specific health problems. 

Add to the mix that different people react very differently to these exposures. With all this uncertainty, it’s a better scenario to avoid the pollutants altogether as much as possible.

When to Have Your Air Ducts Cleaned

You should consider having your air ducts cleaned if you notice any or all of the following situations in your Fort Collins home: 

• There is substantial mold visible on the hard surfaces of your ducts (inside and/or outside) and other HVAC system components.

• Ducts are clogged with excessive amounts of dust, debris, or particles, in the case of a remodeling job.

• Rodents and/or insects are infesting the ducts.

In addition to these circumstances, if you or someone living in your Colorado home suffers from allergies, asthma, or chronic illnesses, or you have pets or smokers in your home, having your ducts cleaned may help improve your home’s indoor air quality, thereby helping anyone with these issues. 

The rule of thumb from the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA), the leading nonprofit association of companies engaged in the inspection, cleaning, and restoration of HVAC systems, is if your air ducts look dirty, they probably are. 

Although there’s no concrete scientific data that air duct cleaning improves indoor air quality, the EPA does recommend having your ductwork cleaned if you fall under any of the reasons cited above. And many people who do have their ducts cleaned swear by the difference, especially those suffering from allergies.

Our professionals at Balance Point are expertly trained to clean your Colorado home’s ducts, so your HVAC system can breathe properly and optimally. Of course, this can be of prime benefit to you, too, no matter your health.

What’s Involved in Air Duct Cleaning?

The standards set forth by the NADCA, which all duct experts ought to follow, recommend the entire HVAC system should be cleaned during the duct cleaning process. This includes the air ducts, equipment, registers, grills, plus installing a new air filter.

There are two parts to the duct cleaning itself: breaking the contaminants loose, and then collecting the contaminants. Our air duct professionals will use brushes and similar tools to break any particles and debris free of the HVAC system. 

They will follow up by sweeping in with their hoses and suction. Feel free to ask if you can have an inside-the-ducts look before and after the job, because you might be amazed by the difference.

Balance Point Knows Air Ducts Inside and Out

Having your air ducts professionally cleaned can give you peace of mind, cleaner air to breathe, and help your HVAC system work more efficiently by removing the dust and debris that builds up in your home’s ductwork. 

Call Balance Point at 970-480-0387 or request service online to discuss how our skilled professionals can assist you and your Fort Collins, CO, home. We promise to make your ugly duct-lings beautiful.

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AC problems

5 Common AC Problems

May 16, 2022

When your air conditioner (AC) is running at peak efficiency, you win.

Not only will your electric bills in Colorado be cheaper––your AC system will last longer. Plus, your equipment will be operating at its best, so you will experience maximum comfort.

The first step to optimizing efficiency is remembering to change your system’s air filter once every three months. This simple maintenance task ensures a balanced airflow, so your AC doesn’t overwork itself. 

When you change out a dirty filter for a clean one, your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment use up to 15 percent less energy monthly, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Plus, it’s able to properly catch dust and debris, boosting your indoor air quality (IAQ). 

Balance Point is always eager to educate our Fort Collins area customers on heating and cooling home care. Whether you have an AC, furnace, heat pump, or ductless mini split, we want you to get the most out of your investment.

Here are five reasons your AC could be running inefficiently: 

1. Infrequent Maintenance

In addition to changing your filter, it’s important to have an HVAC professional perform a seasonal maintenance inspection, ideally in the spring. Your professional will be able to pinpoint and fix problems that are causing your AC to run less efficiently. Additionally, this will potentially save you from future repair costs. Finally, it will increase the lifespan of your equipment.

2. Poor Insulation

A well-insulated house keeps treated air in longer. That means fewer cycles, which creates less work for your AC system and uses less energy. Think you may need more insulation? You can schedule an energy audit with your Balance Point professional. Our team of Fort Collins HVAC experts can use thermal imaging to quickly find “hot spots” where the air is escaping, among other areas where efficiency is lacking. 

3. Window Losses

Windows can create a few efficiency problems. Large windows can create “heat gain” by letting in lots of sunlight. Windows can also let in outside air through spaces in the panes. You can combat these issues in a few ways. Always be sure to close your windows when operating your AC. Additionally, you can eliminate leaks by using insulated curtains, applying a plastic film, or closing them up with caulk or sealing tape. 

4. Leaky Ducts

Leaky air ducts are a common problem that should not go unnoticed. Conditioned air escaping from your ductwork will drive up your utility bills and make your home less comfortable due to poor ventilation. During an energy audit, your HVAC professional can accurately track down and patch duct leaks. 

5. Frequent Oven Use

Have you ever noticed your kitchen feels warmer when you make a batch of cookies? That’s because it is. Cooking and baking raise the temperature of your kitchen, causing your AC to work harder. Fortunately, summertime here in Colorado is grilling season. Consider cooking outdoors more frequently. Your AC will thank you. 

Call Today for Optimal HVAC Care

Located in Fort Collins, CO, Balance Point provides quality HVAC installations, repairs, and maintenance. Call today at 970-480-0387 or request service online

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Ductless

Ductless ACs Improve Indoor Air Quality and Control Humidity

April 12, 2022

Your home’s Indoor air quality is often two to five times more polluted than outdoor air, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These pollutants contribute to many diseases as well as respiratory conditions like asthma and allergies.

It Might Be Time to Split

Installing a ductless air conditioner (AC), also known as a mini split, in your Colorado home has quite a few benefits over a traditionally ducted air conditioner. Two of these benefits are helping to improve your home’s indoor air quality (IAQ) and to control your home’s humidity. Balance Point is an expert in installing ductless air conditioner systems. Our expert team has seen firsthand the advantages our Loveland area customers experience with these compact powerhouses of cooling.

How a Ductless System Can Improve Your Indoor Air Quality

In traditional heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, your ductwork or air ducts are the means of travel for your conditioned air. Over time, these air ducts collect airborne particles and contaminants, requiring regular professional duct cleaning. Most Loveland homeowners only have their ducts cleaned once or twice while living in their homes. This leaves a lot of time for particles and debris to build up in between cleanings. Imagine what your ducts look like without ever having a cleaning. Breathing in these pollutants can definitely aggravate existing respiratory conditions like asthma and allergies. The American Lung Association (ALA) reports poor indoor air quality can cause or contribute to the development of infections, lung cancer, and chronic lung diseases. A ductless air conditioner, as its name states, has no ducts. Because its conduit runs between the outdoor condenser and the indoor unit, there are no ducts involved and no contaminants trapped in the air path’s route.

Ductless Air Conditioner Helps Control Humidity

With a ductless air conditioner, your home’s air is less capable of holding moisture. An air conditioner works by absorbing your home’s heat into the unit’s refrigerant, thereby cooling your home. With a ductless air conditioner, the absorbed moisture is transferred to the unit’s condensate, controlling and reducing your home’s humidity. No more condensation on windows. Less humidity in your home’s air means less pathogens can exist in it, which can contribute to illness and allergies. Controlling your home’s humidity is actually yet another avenue to improving its indoor air quality.

Improving Indoor Air Quality Is the Answer

While our homes are becoming more and more airtight due to better construction methods, the trapped pollutants and contaminants within are contributing to our overall decline in wellness. The most direct response to this issue is improved indoor air quality. A ductless air conditioner can be a wonderful way to support indoor air quality’s improvement simply by not having ductwork involved in the process and controlling your home’s humidity.

Balance Point Is Your Indoor Air Quality Expert

Contact any one of our highly trained Balance Point professionals if you are considering installing a ductless air conditioner—or even if you currently have a ductless system—in your Loveland, CO, home. Call us at 970-480-0387 or request service online to talk about your home’s indoor air quality and humidity control with one of these units.

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Ductless System Maintenance

What Maintenance Is Needed for a Ductless System?

March 22, 2022

A ductless heating and cooling system, or a mini split, is a splendid choice for your Boulder home and a worthwhile investment. It offers many benefits, and you can enjoy them all for years to come if you maintain the system on a consistent basis. 

As with any heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system, you need to protect your investment. By neglecting regular maintenance, you will shorten your system’s life span and greatly reduce how well it functions, as our Balance Point professionals witness quite often.

Beyond the Annual Wellness Exam

While you do need to schedule a regular cleaning and checkup for your unit with one of our Balance Point heating and cooling professionals at least once a year, there are some things you can regularly do on your own. 

What Maintenance Can You Do on Your Own?

Before you begin, remember to turn off your system completely—both the indoor and outdoor components—and let them sit for about an hour. Be sure to also turn off the outdoor circuit switch to prevent electric shock.

Here are some do-it-yourself (DIY) tasks our Balance Point experts recommend:

  • Check to be sure there is amply cleared space surrounding both the indoor and outdoor units. Each unit should have ample clearance of unobstructed space around it for appropriate airflow and proper operation.
  • Clean both the indoor and outdoor units. For the indoor component, take a damp, soft cloth and wipe it down. Be sure to regularly dust the unit to avoid any significant buildup. 

    For the outdoor unit, you will be cleaning the condenser and coils. After being sure the component and electricity are both off, gently squirt it down with your garden hose. Do not use a hose nozzle, as that can apply too much pressure and bend the fragile fins. Your goal is to rinse off any dirt or debris. 

    If you maintain this task on a regular basis, it will be much easier to clean and will work more efficiently. After rinsing the unit, wipe off any leftover residual dirt and dry the unit completely, again taking care with the delicate fins.
  • Remove the filter from your indoor component and clean it thoroughly. This should be done every six to twelve weeks. If you have allergies, pets, or smokers in your Colorado home, check and clean the filter more often. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) agrees a well-maintained filtration system may have the greatest impact on your home’s indoor air quality (IAQ).

    Your filter is one of the most important parts of your ductless system, as it protects both your lungs and the rest of your Boulder system from dust and debris accumulation.

What Will a Professional Do?

There are definitely things our trained professionals will address that you as a homeowner should not. Some of the things checked at your annual maintenance appointment are refrigerant leaks, electrical connections, and run capacitors. 

If anything needs repairing or replacing, our Balance Point professional will bring it to your attention. Talk to our team for more details on what we do during our maintenance visits.

Contact Us Today

Your ductless system will last for years to come when given the maintenance attention it needs. Call Balance Point here in Boulder, CO, at 970-480-0387 or request service online today to schedule your appointment. Or if you are considering purchasing a ductless system, call and speak with one of our professionals about how we can help you.

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Furnace Tech

Should I Get an 80% or 95% Furnace?

February 16, 2022

When it comes time to replace your current standard-efficiency furnace, there are so many decisions to make. One of the primary ones is what level of efficiency you need for your new system.

It’s common to assume installing a higher-efficiency furnace is the best choice. But that’s not always the case. 

When it comes to heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC), the wisest decision is what’s going to work in your Fort Collins home upon a careful assessment of specific factors. At Balance Point, we scrutinize aspects like your furnace’s location, your energy needs and plans, your budget, as well as other elements.

What Do 80% and 95% Efficiency Mean?

Furnace efficiencies are reflected in percentages called AFUE—annual fuel utilization efficiency. AFUE measures a furnace’s efficiency in converting fuel to energy. 

For instance, 80% AFUE for a gas furnace means it uses 80% of the gas energy it consumes and turns it to heat. The furnace eliminates the remaining 20% energy via exhaust.

High-efficiency furnaces offer 90% AFUE and higher, with 95% AFUE a common percentage for a new gas-powered furnace. An 80% AFUE is considered a standard efficiency.

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), when you make energy efficiency a priority and look for an ENERGY STAR® label on products and equipment for your Colorado home, you can reduce your energy bill by as much as 30 percent.

Purchase Energy Efficient Products and Equipment. By looking for the Energy Star label on products and equipment, you can reduce your energy bill by 30 percent and your electric lighting charges by 40 percent while cutting pollution.

Differences Between 80% and 95% Furnaces

With the 95% AFUE rating, it seems straightforward to choose this over an 80% AFUE furnace. You will get more efficiency and save money over the long term.

But this is too simplistic a perspective and not an accurate snapshot, as there are extenuating facts to consider. Take a quick look at how these two AFUE furnaces operate differently from one another in regard to energy efficiency.

The 80% AFUE Furnace

To generate energy from natural gas, an 80% furnace operates with open combustion. This means it extracts air from its surrounds instead of pulling in air straight from the outdoors. 

If your current standard-efficiency furnace is located in a vented attic or crawl space, the accessible combustion air is readily available due to the existing vents. It doesn’t require any type of extra venting directly to the outside air.

The 95% AFUE Furnace

A 95% furnace uses sealed combustion—it pulls its needed air directly from the outdoors, generally through a PVC pipe exclusively for this purpose. It will also require an additional PVC pipe for exhaust, as it can’t work with your existing metal venting due to the condensation it creates. This option is best suited for sealed locations.

Another difference to remember is a 95% unit with its sealed combustion produces condensation. This moisture can build up and needs to go somewhere—a condensate pump and drain handle this. These components require installation and can be costly if you’re switching from an 80% to a 95% AFUE furnace.

What Do These Differences Mean to You?

These differences mean if you have an 80% furnace in a vented attic or crawl space, you should probably stick with an 80% furnace replacement. In this scenario, you most likely won’t make up the difference financially when you install a 95% unit. 

If you have your heart set on a 95% furnace in a vented location, keep in mind you’ll need to install that combustion air avenue—a pipe. That will cost you more and can sometimes be a bit complex to install.

On the other hand, if your plan is to install a furnace in a sealed attic or an encapsulated crawl space, you will need to go with the 95% option with vents for both combustion fresh air and exhaust.

So when getting down to brass tacks of which type of efficient furnace you should install, it usually comes down to location, location, location.

What Else to Consider When Choosing a New Furnace

If energy efficiency is a prime factor in your decision, you should understand other furnace specifications as well. The two most important components to consider are the different stages of heat and airflow.

Stages of Heat

There are three basic heat stages available for furnaces:

1. Single stage

This type of furnace has only one setting—on. The furnace is either on or off. When it’s on, it blows heated air into your Fort Collins home at full capacity. A single-stage 80% or 95% furnace is less efficient than a two-stage furnace since the blower operates on this one speed and it’s high speed.  

2. Two stage

A two-stage furnace has two speeds—high and slower. The slower speed is typically running at 65% furnace capacity. This type of furnace is more efficient since the majority of the time it’s running on the slower speed and doesn’t require the level of energy the high speed requires, like the single-stage furnace uses. The higher speed only kicks in as needed.

An 80% furnace with two stages is more efficient than a single-stage unit. Generally, a two-stage 80% furnace costs you less in energy than a single-stage 95% furnace.

3. Modulating

A modulating furnace refers to a fully modulating gas valve in the furnace. This is comparable to the two-stage furnaces but far superior. In lieu of only two stages of heat, a modulating furnace operates with a variety of levels to meet your Colorado home’s heating needs all day long. It continually matches your comfort needs directly. 

Airflow

Your furnace’s airflow also affects energy efficiency and comfort levels with two options:

1. No variable speed

A standard furnace operates at full-throttle airflow, not varying its speed. The fan always blows at the same speed, not offering you control over your airflow levels. The level of efficiency is not as high as it is for a variable speed.

2. Variable speed

Furnaces with variable speed airflow provide better control over the amount of hot air flowing through your home. This makes a variable-speed furnace higher in efficiency than more standard units.

How to Decide?

There is no one-size-fits-all scenario for every Fort Collins home. Each home is unique and yours may have a completely different setup or requirements. As you see, there are varying components to deciding which furnace would best suit your lifestyle, needs, and budget.

At Balance Point, our HVAC experts understand the intricacies involved in making this type of investment. We can work with you to evaluate whether an 80% furnace or a 95% furnace will provide the comfort you want in your Colorado home.

But keep this in mind. Unless you replace your standard furnace with an absolutely identical model, you will experience the benefits of higher efficiency in some capacity with whatever you choose. Small changes can reap big rewards.

We Are Your Heating Experts

If you are looking to install or replace your current Fort Collins, CO, furnace and want to enjoy the advantages of an energy-efficient unit, call our Balance Point team at 970-480-0387 or request service online today. We are here to help with all your heating and cooling needs—installation, replacement, repair, or maintenance.

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Man Suffering From Cold

Why Is My Heat Pump Blowing Cold Air?

January 31, 2022

When it comes to staying warm during the cold winter months, folks in Loveland love their heat pumps. Fast, reliable, and cost effective to use, heat pumps are a popular choice in the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) industry.

But what if it’s freezing outdoors and your heat pump starts blowing cold air?

At Balance Point, we offer practical solutions for installing and maintaining your heat pump. We’ll be sure you get the best value for your dollar and the best system to suit your personal needs here in Colorado. Keeping you comfortable is our goal.

Bigger, Better

Heat pumps are designed to operate efficiently in a variety of weather conditions. While heat pumps are ideally suited to regions with moderate climates, the newer models are capable of handling extreme weather conditions and are increasingly versatile in terms of how they are used. According to ACHR News, heat pumps are gaining in popularity as a sensible alternative to traditional furnace and air conditioning units.

Did You Know?

Heat pumps are three to four times more energy efficient than electric furnaces because of how they transfer heat rather than trying to create it. They reduce carbon emissions, they require little maintenance, and one heat pump serves both your heating and cooling needs.

Good to Go

All heating and cooling systems require proper maintenance—and your heat pump is no exception. To start with, always clean or replace filters as needed. This inexpensive action maintains efficient airflow through the system and helps lower your utility bills.

Other home remedies include cleaning the outdoor coils and removing any vegetation that’s growing too close to your outdoor unit. Check your service manual for other preventative maintenance tips on how to get the best performance from your heat pump.

Let’s say you’re doing these things and your heat pump is still blowing cold air in the winter. Continue reading for a few more factors to consider.

Super Cold

Unlike a traditional furnace that generates its own heat, a heat pump transfers air from the outdoors and vice versa. During the winter, the pump’s compressor can capture and absorb outdoor heat and transfer it indoors. In the summer, a heat pump operates likes centralized air conditioning by extracting the warm indoor air and pushing it outdoors.

During the colder months, a heat pump will produce air that is approximately 55 degrees warmer than the outdoor air. That means if it’s 25 degrees Fahrenheit outside, the heat pump will crank air into your home that’s around 80 degrees Fahrenheit. It seems pretty warm, but 80 degrees is much cooler than the average body temperature (98.6 degrees Fahrenheit) and could feel like cold air blowing into the home.

It’s Defrosting

To protect the outdoor coils from freezing up in the winter, heat pumps go through a defrosting period every hour or so in which they are truly blowing out cold air. This defrosting period only lasts a few minutes and should not affect the overall temperature of your home.

Check It Out

If your heat pump continues to blow cold air for more than a few minutes, and your home’s thermostat indicates the temperature is dropping, first try a little troubleshooting:

  • Check the air filter to be sure it’s clear.
  • Be sure the indoor vents aren’t blocked.
  • Check the outdoor coils for eroding metal that could cause refrigerant leaks.
  • Check the ductwork to be sure it’s properly connected.
  • Check your thermostat to be sure it’s properly set.

If everything seems to be in order, then it’s probably time to call Balance Point to have one of our trained technicians come out and take a look.

Give Us a Call Today

It’s always a good idea to have your heat pump inspected at least once a year to keep it from blowing cold air when you want heated air. Contact Balance Point here in Loveland, CO, to schedule an appointment or if you are in need of a repair. We’d be happy address whatever heat pump issue you may be having. Call 970-480-0387 or request service online today.

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cold man

How Do I Keep My Heat During Extreme Cold Weather?

January 18, 2022

We receive countless calls every time the temperatures drop below normal ranges, as homeowners here in Boulder encounter problems with their home’s heating system. With the record-low temperatures and extreme conditions most of the country is currently experiencing, our Balance Point professionals want to share some insights and tips with you to keep your indoors cozy while Old Man Winter blusters away outdoors.

Three Heating System Insights

Here are a few insights into your heating system’s operation during freezing weather:

1. Furnaces, boilers, and heat pumps were not designed for temperatures in the -20 to -30 degree Fahrenheit (and below) range—they were designed for outdoor temperatures dipping to 0 degrees. 

And when you have windchills near the -50 degree mark, as we have right now in this cold snap in locations across the country, your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system is going to work much harder than usual. Keep in mind you cannot expect it to perform normally, and you may run into some problems with it.

2. Even though your heating system is working at full capacity, if your Colorado home is newer, your HVAC system may still struggle to maintain your designated temperature and may not always succeed. 

If your home is older, your system will not be able to maintain the temperature, and it will drop. Expect to bundle up a little more. This will not only help your heating system, it can save you between 5 and 20 percent on your heating bill as well, according to Money magazine.

3. If you discover your home’s temperature dropping, but your vents are blowing hot air or your boiler’s radiators are still hot, this is simply due to the extreme outdoor temperatures. Just continue to be sure your heating system is operating.

What Are Some Heating System Tips?

Be sure to stay safe by using common sense in these frigid temperatures. These are the type of outdoor conditions that tempt homeowners to take unwise and unsafe steps, with avoidably tragic results like fires or carbon-monoxide poisonings.

Here are some of our best heating-system tips:

  • Increase your home’s temperature by a couple degrees above your normal setting now, before the worst hits, and then leave your thermostat alone. Do not turn it back down at night. In this extreme cold, your heating system will struggle to return to where you originally had it set.
  • Set your programmable thermostat on HOLD once you have raised the temperature. You can return it to its normal mode once outdoor temperatures rise.
  • Replace your filter, if you have a furnace. Ideally in the winter months, especially during these ultra-cold spells, you should change the filter monthly.
  • Be sure your ceiling fans are on to keep the warm air moving, if they have the reverse setting for colder months.
  • Set up one room in your home to be the warmest room, if need be. Close any blinds or drapes to keep warmth in, and put blankets over your windows using your curtain rod to reduce window-heat loss.
  • Check all registers/air vents and radiators are clear of any obstructions or blockages. Keep furniture away to allow best airflow.
  • Keep your garage doors closed.
  • Avoid repeatedly opening/closing exterior doors.
  • Continually check your furnace’s or boiler’s intake and exhaust white PVC pipes outdoors (on the back or side of your home) if your system is a 90 percent or more efficiency unit. It’s extremely common for ice to build up in these with the low temperatures or snow to block the openings from all the blowing. Keep the pipes clear for successful airflow. Push a broom handle in the pipe to break up any internal ice; however, if your pipes are located on your roof, do not go on your roof to clear them.
  • Keep your outdoor condenser clear of snow if you have a heat pump.
  • Help to heat your home with some cooking or baking—or even just boiling water. It gives extra humidity and warm temperatures to your indoor air. Under no circumstances should you ever heat your home with your oven, stove, or grill, as this is extremely dangerous.
  • Be sure to keep your cupboard doors open where your plumbing is located to allow your heat to keep your pipes warmed. The last thing you want is frozen or burst pipes. In these extreme temperatures, keep all your indoor faucets on a constant trickle with room-temperature water. This also helps to prevent frozen or burst pipes.
  • Check on neighbors or anyone elderly in this freezing weather to be sure they are safe and warm.

Contact Us Today for Your Heating Needs

At Balance Point, we want to help you keep your Boulder, CO, home comfortable in these record-low temperatures and arctic weather. Follow our tips for keeping your heating system in operation. 

If you run into any problems, please contact us at 970-480-0387 or request service online. We do have emergency service if necessary. Let’s all help each other during this biting cold weather.

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Happy senior couple using laptop at home.

Four Factors to Consider When Buying a Heat Pump

December 23, 2021

So you are looking to invest in a heat pump. You are not alone––many Americans are making the switch. 

Why? For starters, heat pumps are generally more efficient than a traditional heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system. What is more, heat pumps offer both heating and cooling, so they are versatile. 

At Balance Point, we want to help you make the best decision for your Fort Collins home’s needs. Our aim is for you to be satisfied with your heat pump for years to come. 

Here are four questions to ask yourself when picking out a new heat pump:

1. How much do I want to spend up front?

Heat pumps offer you more efficiency. Geothermal heat pumps, in particular, are especially efficient, since they use a minimal amount of electricity to transfer heat from Earth’s natural resources. 

However, many of the more efficient products have a higher up-front cost than a traditional heater or air conditioner (AC). Generally, a good rule of thumb is the more you invest up front, the less you will pay in the long run. It is up to you to decide which heat pump is best for your budget.

2. What type of heat pump do I want?

Air-source, mini split, and geothermal are a few main types of heat pumps you can consider. 

Air-source heat pumps transfer heat from the outdoor air to warm your Colorado home in the winter and expel heat from your home during the summer. This type of heat pump is so efficient, the US Department of Energy (DOE) asserts an “air-source heat pump can deliver one-and-a-half to three times more heat energy to a home than the electrical energy it consumes.”

Mini splits (also known as ductless units) also use air source technology, but they offer true zoning with a variety of different configurations for the indoor units. They are extremely efficient and a great option for homes with existing ductwork.

Geothermal heat pumps use the constant temperature of the earth to gather or release heat and are typically the most efficient option for a home with sufficient ductwork already in place.

Each type has its advantages and disadvantages, and we are happy to help you sort through them all. Call to speak with one of our experts to discuss these options further.

3. Will I need a dual-fuel system?

Our source heat pumps can’t operate efficiently when outdoor temperatures become colder. This is why homeowners in colder regions of the country might need a dual-fuel system. 

A dual-fuel system is a heat pump supplemented with a different heating appliance. When temperatures are too low for your heat pump to operate efficiently, your alternate heat source, such as a furnace will kick on. 

Talk to one of our Balance Point HVAC professionals to determine if this is a good choice for your home.

4. What type of thermostat should I buy?

In addition to your heat pump, our highly trained and experienced experts can install new controls for heating and cooling your home. Based on your Fort Collins home needs, you can choose between a variety of thermostats with features to fit your comfort needs.

Standard thermostats have a simple, familiar interface. They provide you with a Heat or Cool option and On or Auto fan control. Programmable thermostats can be set to automatically change the temperature setting during certain hours of the day, such as when you are not at home or while you are sleeping, in order to save energy. Wi-Fi thermostats can be controlled remotely using your smartphone, whether you are home or away. Depending on the model, your Wi-Fi thermostat may offer energy-usage analytics so you can readily and easily monitor your energy consumption.

We Are Your Heat Pump Experts

While you perform research and start your search for a heat pump here in the Fort Collins, CO, area, our Balance Point professionals want to help you as much as possible. Call us at 970-480-0387 or request service online today to glean more expert insights on the matter.

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Boilers

Everything You Need to Know About Boilers

December 15, 2021

Did you know radiant heat—the type of heat your boiler creates—was one of the first types of indoor heating systems invented, dating back to 1300 BC?

At Balance Point, though we haven’t been working with boilers since 1300 BC, we know a thing or two about them. Our highly trained and experienced heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) professionals regularly install and work on them here in Loveland

Boilers Produce Radiant Heat 

Modern boilers can be an extremely efficient and even way of heating your Colorado home. Many people prefer radiant heat over other ways to heat their homes. Some of its advantages are:

• Efficiency—won’t lose heat via ductwork leaks

• Effectiveness—warms objects instead of your home’s air

• Cleanliness—doesn’t decrease your indoor air quality due to lack of blowing allergens and particles throughout your home

According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI), roughly 10 to 30 percent of people worldwide suffer from allergies. If this is you, having a boiler with radiant heat instead of a forced-air system in your Colorado home can help you diminish your symptoms.

Rather than heating the air as forced-air systems do, radiant heat warms a room’s objects instead, including you. This type of system provides more consistent heating, since a forced-air system cycles on and off more frequently.

Most boilers share common attributes. It’s helpful to know what they are to help you keep your home comfortable and safe for years to come.

Just the Facts

1. Your boiler probably does not actually boil its water. 

This term hails back when steam was primarily used for heating. Though you may have an older steam boiler, it is much more likely a water boiler. These days the water is kept between 145 and 190 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Hot water flows throughout your Loveland home and the heat radiates to warm it. 

This explains the term radiant heat. Radiant heat has many forms. No matter if you have in-floor, cast iron radiators, or fin tube, they are all types of radiant heat. And they utilize gas, oil, or electricity for power.

3. Maintenance on your boiler is critical to life expectancy.

You must keep up with its annual professional maintenance to ensure your boiler is operating safely and efficiently. Many states require annual safety inspections by law on larger boilers.

4. You may have a high-efficiency boiler already.

The easiest way to tell is by looking at the flue pipe coming out of the top or side of your boiler. A metal flue pipe tells you it’s a standard efficiency boiler. On the other hand, if it has a PVC (or hard, white plastic) pipe, then you have a high-efficiency boiler.

5. It’s good to know what’s likely to fail on your boiler.  

Like any piece of machinery, the moving parts are usually the first to fail. When it comes to your boiler, it’s likely the pumps or electrical components to fail first.

6. Modern boilers are not dangerous, but radiators do get hot.

In most cases, radiators are not hot enough to burn a child, but it is important to teach your children not to touch the radiators. If they are too warm, adjust the temperature on your boiler accordingly.

7. Boilers no longer use a standing pilot light.

This was a concern in older boilers. If you have an older boiler and are still dealing with a pilot light, it may be time to consider upgrading. Talk to one of our Balance Point boiler pros, and we can help you make an educated decision about an upgrade.

8. Modern boilers are closed loop systems.

They are not endlessly wasting water as you may believe. Modern boilers actually can be a very efficient way to heat your home when properly designed.  

Contact Us for All Your Boiler Needs

At Balance Point, we can help you with a boiler installation or replacement, repair, or maintenance for your Loveland, CO, home. Our team loves all things HVAC, so we are happy to discuss any questions you may have. Call us at 970-480-0387 or request service online today!

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Shower Head with Water Stream on Black Background

Help! I Have No Hot Water

November 30, 2021

There are few things more annoying than running out of hot water in the middle of a shower. But do not fret if this happens. It is more than likely an issue with your hot water heater. 

It may be something very simple you can take care of yourself. However, some fixes do need the assistance of a professional. 

Turn a Cold Mess Into a Hot Time

If you run into this situation, try troubleshooting or give us a call at Balance Point. One of our experienced professionals can promptly come out to your Loveland home to get your water flowing hot running again.

Focusing on Tank Water Heaters

There are a few options for powering water heaters—electric, gas, propane, and fuel oil. We will take a look at the two most popular types, electric and gas. 

For each of these two, there are different steps to diagnose where the problem lies. However, for either type you may first want to:

  • Check if your tank size is adequate for your Colorado home’s water needs. 

    If you have more than two people living in your home, you may need a larger tank than what you currently have. It takes time to reheat enough water to refill the tank. Should this be the case in your home, wait about 30 minutes and retry the hot water. 

    If you succeed, it might be time to consider upgrading. Or maybe a tankless water heater would be best for your home. Call Balance Point to discuss your options.
  • Increase the thermostat temperature by a couple of degrees. 

    Ideally, you want your water heater temperature set between 120 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit (120 degrees or lower if you have small children in your Loveland home to avoid burning their sensitive skin). If you perform an adjustment, allow about 30 to 40 minutes for the hot water to return.

    If these two options do not produce hot water, read on for more troubleshooting.

    But before you continue, please heed this word of caution. Any time you work with electricity, turn off the power to the tank. A strong electrical current is running through there, and electricity is nothing to underestimate. Call one of our Balance Point professionals to help if you have any doubts.

Hot Tips for Owners of Electric Tank Water Heaters

If your unit is electric powered, consider these possibilities:

  • Restart your water heater. 

    Sometimes a power surge can shut down your heater. Turn off the tank for a few minutes and then turn it back on and wait about 30 minutes. If you still have no hot water, this is not the problem.
  • Check the fuse or breaker. 

    If the fuse has blown or the breaker has been tripped, sometimes it is not obvious this is the problem. 

    Reset the breaker, even if it does not look tripped. Flip it off, wait about 30 seconds, and then flip it on. If it will not stay on, you need to call a professional electrician. 
  • Call one of our Balance Point professionals.

    Sometimes the technical side of electricity mingled with a water repair makes everyone feel more secure if handled by a pro. We can address the issue without causing further damage to other components, like a heating element or thermostat.
  • Install a new water heater. 

    The average life span of a water heater these days is 10 years. If your tank is close to that age, it may be smarter to invest in a new tank rather than replacing a costly part. After replacing that component, the tank itself could fail, and you would have thrown money out the window. 

    Purchasing a new water heater with higher efficiency and energy savings can save you money in the long run. ENERGY STAR® reports higher efficiency water heaters use 10 to 50 percent less energy than standard models. Since heating water accounts for approximately 15 percent of your Colorado home’s energy use, going with a higher efficiency tank could add up to a nice savings on your utility bill.

    A new water heater may also qualify you for an energy tax break or rebate. Check with your Loveland area energy company.

Hot Tips for Owners of Gas Tank Water Heaters

If your unit is gas powered, consider these possibilities:

  • Check the pilot light. 

    Your issue could be as simple as this. Maybe a strong wind down the vent pipe blew the flame out. 

    Read the instructions affixed to your tank on how to relight the pilot. Many tanks have a button to depress for relighting. 

    If you are not comfortable with this process, call one of our Balance Point professionals to light it. In some cases, a new pilot light assembly is required, in which case a plumber will need to replace it for you anyway.
  • Fix the thermocouple. 

    After you light the pilot and are certain the flame does not remain lighted, the thermocouple may be at fault. A thermocouple is a sensor that measures temperature. As a safety precaution, it will shut off the gas flow if the pilot goes out. 

    If you are capable of replacing this yourself, it is a low-cost fix. If you are unsure about your level of competency, call a Balance Point professional in to replace it for you.
  • Check the gas supply. 

    Occasionally your heater may not be getting gas. If after you check to be sure the gas valve is turned on and you do not see a flame or smell gas, this could indicate the problem is the gas supply. 

    Be sure the valve is open and assess the gas line. Is anything leaning against it or does it have a twist or kink in it? If nothing appears out of the ordinary, call your gas company to see if they are working on the gas line in your area or if your gas has been turned off. If the answer to both of these is no, you need to call one of our professionals.
  • Install a new water heater.

    The life span for a gas water heater is typically 10 years, just like an electric water heater. Unfortunately, it may be time for a replacement. Call Balance Point to discuss what type and size tank would be best for you.

We Are Your Water Heater Experts

At Balance Point, our certified professionals can help with whatever water heater issue you may have. Talk to us about a new installation or replacement, a repair, or water heater maintenance. In the case of no hot water, we are here in Loveland, CO, to help. Give us a call at 970-480-0387 or request service online today.

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Need HVAC Service?

Contact the experts at Balance Point.

Call us at 970-480-0387!