Give Yourself The Gift Of A Humidifier This Winter

Humidity gets a bad rap thanks to what we know about summertime humidity: the thick, stifling, and damp coating in the air. Hence the famed phrase It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity… we all mutter as yet another potentially good hair day bites the dust. Because of this negative connotation, people often neglect humidity’s importance during the winter months.

The frigid cold air of winter dries up humidity (moisture) in the air. This dehydration withers signs of plant life and causes many uncomfortable side effects within our homes. Call in the humidifier. Humidifiers re-introduce moisture into the air to reduce the effects of dry air and create a more comfortable environment by promoting better air quality and health throughout your home.

Humidifier Winter

If there’s a time to invest in a humidifier, it’s now. We’ve come prepared with some ways a humidifier will become one of your best assets this winter and a welcomed gift for your family.

Would you like more tips on how to increase your air efficiency? Read our blog for savvy advice from the experts at I Want SMART!

Better Personal Health

If you have to ask yourself if you need a humidifier, the likely answer is no. If you truly need a humidifier, you’ll feel it. Most everyone is familiar with the usual telltale signs of winter air: parched and itchy skin, cracked knuckles, dry eyes, chapped lips, irritated nasal passages, snoring, or any combination of the above. All are worsened when the air is moisture-deficient. In addition to aloe, moisturizing lotions, and lip balm, a humidifier works to abate these symptoms.

Lessen Congestion and Sinus Pressure

They don’t call it “cold and flu season” for nothing! Your respiratory system also suffers from the dryness of winter. Every time you breathe in icy air through your nose and throat, moisture is drained from your sinus passages. Those plagued with sinus congestion or seasonal coughs and colds will appreciate the reinvigorating hydration a humidifier can provide to hasten the healing process. Even if you’re not sick, a humidifier can help prevent illness and keep those vexing symptoms at bay.

Cost-Effectively Combat the Cold

Humidifiers work as hard to combat the cold as any other appliance. They help regulate indoor temperatures by raising humidity levels to add heat without having to physically turn up the heat. It’s the same principle in the summer when high humidity makes the outdoor temperature feel much hotter than it technically is. Humidifiers can thereby help stabilize your thermostat use to keep your costs in check.

Old House with Good Bones

Do you notice that your older home’s classic wood floors start creaking and cracking more than usual in the winter? Wood organically shrinks and splits in the cold without adequate moisture, making it less pliable. The effects aren’t limited to older homes nor wood floors. The caulk used in new homes along the baseboard trim and the countertops will shrink and crack due to lack of humidity. Humidifiers can offer a balanced indoor atmosphere by helping deliver tolerable air that is neither scorching nor overly wet and dank.

Do you need help in creating a more comfortable indoor climate this winter? Get in touch with I Want SMART to schedule an HVAC inspection!  

Six SMART Ways to Winterize Your Home

Winterize Home

There’s no way around it: winter is here. While there aren’t ways to stop Mother Nature in her tracks, there are ways to mitigate against her wrath. Winterizing your home is an important part of forming a solid defense against the effects of the bitter cold.

Winterizing your home refers to equipping your plumbing and HVAC for colder weather. Below-zero forecasts outside can cause freezing pipes and frigid temperatures inside that take a toll on your family. Not winterizing your home has a lot of potential consequences, including roof damage, increased risk of fire and/or carbon monoxide leaks, power outages, higher heating bills, insurance claims, and indoor flooding.

Winterizing your home can be simple, but you have to know where to start. We’ve provided a winterizing itinerary to help you make it through the winter without an HVAC or plumbing problem.

Change furnace filters

It’s easy to neglect, but replacing/cleaning your filters once or twice a month makes a world of difference in your air quality. Dirty filters can restrict the flow of treated and warm air throughout your home. Your system will have to work overtime and utilize more energy to compensate for blockage, which shows up on your monthly energy bills.

Wrap your pipes

Frozen pipes are one of the most common wintertime plumbing issues. Frozen pipes not only restrict water flow but can lead to burst pipes that add up to costly repairs.

When water molecules freeze, they expand as they crystallize and take up more space than when they’re in liquid form. The freezing ice then gradually pushes water towards the closed faucet, which creates tremendous pressure between the ice and faucet. The pipe soon ruptures under pressure in an area with very little or even no ice.

Have your pipes wrapped in insulation to prevent significant pipe damage and future repairs. In case of an emergency, make sure everyone in your home knows where the shut-off is. To save time and have peace of mind that it’s done correctly, find a certified professional to make sure your pipes and other areas of your home are well-insulated.

 

Install storm windows and doors

Storm doors and windows are extremely energy efficient by sealing in warm air and preventing significant drafts. No, not football drafts or beer on draft — we’re talking about the space between your door and your floor from which warm air escapes and cold air slips through. According to the Department of Energy, the average American spends $2,000/year on energy; of this, $200-$400 could be going to waste from drafts, air leaks and openings, and outdated HVAC systems. Although they may be a pain to install, storm windows and doors are well worth it in the end.

Clean the gutters

This is a dreaded seasonal chore that often ends in hiring a neighborhood kid to do the dirty work. But, whether you do it yourself or enlist the help of friends and family, it is a necessary job that needs to get done. Cleaning your gutters helps keep the water path clear and functioning. Debris otherwise creates barriers that restrict flow and allow ice to form. Either take a day to clean those gutters or start making phone calls before it gets too cold to do anything!

Keep up with your thermostat

It may be time to talk about replacing your outdated thermostat. Programmable thermostats are inexpensive in comparison to your utility bill costs. Shelling out a few hundred dollars for an electronic thermostat that is made to save you money is a wise investment.

Once you have your new thermostat, make sure you’re doing your best to optimize it. This means turning your heat down when you leave the house for an extended period of time, i.e. vacation (hopefully to somewhere warmer). This will cut down even further on your energy costs. Needless to say, a functioning thermostat is your best friend this winter.

Have your furnace inspected (if you haven’t already)

The only way to know for sure you’re heating your home efficiently is to have a professional inspect it. It’s advice that’s easy to justify in the moment: “Why would I spend money for someone to tell me that either everything is fine or things that I already know?” We get it. But, the more you do ahead of time ensures less maintenance in the long run. Plus, who wants to need repairs done when it’s freezing out? Furnace issues go undetected longer and more frequently than you’d think. Save yourself some heartache this winter and get that overdue furnace inspection.

Have more questions about your plumbing and HVAC? Our technicians are waiting.

Contact us today!

 

How Do I Know If There’s A Problem With My Furnace?

Autumn is in the air, and your furnace is becoming more relevant as cooler temperatures roll through. Now is a good time to handle furnace issues so you’re prepared before Mother Nature really shows her teeth come winter. As you brush the dust off your furnace, we can’t help but wonder: do you know what to look for in a healthy furnace?

Until the technician arrives, here are some clear indicators of furnace trouble that should help give an idea of what to expect.

Age

Your furnace is a complex machine with moving, stationary, and electronic parts. Over time, moving parts wear out. Expansion and contraction due to heat cause stationary parts to develop cracks. Corrosion occurs on electrical components. Age is just a number; a very important number when discussing furnaces. On average, a gas furnace should last anywhere from 20-25 years. The serial number on your machine should tell you its age. If it’s older than the usual lifespan, it could be time to consider purchasing a new furnace.

Abnormal or Incomplete Startup

Every furnace has a sequence it goes through in order to start, run, and heat your home properly. Sequences vary slightly from furnace to furnace, but in general, a typical heating sequence follows similar steps.

  1. The thermostat tells the furnace to turn on when the temperature in the house drops below setpoint.
  2. The exhaust inducer motor comes on and the furnace does a self-check to make sure it is safe to run.
  3. Once the self-check is complete, and it is safe to run, the ignitor heats up.
  4. When the ignitor is hot enough, the gas valve will open and the burners will fill with flames.
  5. Once the burners are proven to be ignited, and the internal heat exchanger heats up, the blower fan will be commanded on.
  6. During startup, safeties monitor each step of the process.  If at any point the safety mechanism alerts the control module to a failure in any step, the furnace will stop the heating sequence until the issue is resolved.  

The ignition system of your furnace may vary by the age and manufacturer. Regardless of the type of ignition you may have: Standing Pilot, Hot Surface, or Spark Ignition, all furnaces have some form of safeties that monitor the equipment during the startup.

Preventative maintenance by having your equipment cleaned prior to the start of the heating season will help you avoid the emergency call when the weather turns cold. Before it gets too cold, turn up the heat on your thermostat and check to see if your system is working properly.

Weird Noises

HVAC systems are not silent by any means. Some level of hammering noises is normal. But, if you hear exceptionally loud clunky or banging noises coming from your furnace, there may be a loose component that needs replacing or repairing. In forced-air furnaces, a blower motor is usually the clamoring culprit. Even the most skilled DIYers have trouble fixing their way out of this one, so it’s best to call the pros for an immediate fix.

Cold Air

A furnace’s one job is to heat your home. If it is not doing this and, on the contrary, delivering cold air, you know something’s up. Sometimes it is a simple circuit breaker issue; but, a furnace that’s using power but not producing heat is an issue that a certified technician should solve.

Higher Cost of Heating

As in business, a sure-fire way of detecting a problem is by looking at the bottom line. If your bill is showing higher heating costs than you’ve averaged previously, it could indicate that your furnace is running constantly or not heating properly to justify costs. Contact a professional for an inspection to clear up what’s going on.

Interested in an I Want SMART service? Search for a location near you!

How To Transition Your HVAC From Summer to Fall

The kids may dread it, but it can be a parent’s favorite time of year: back-to-school season. This means one step closer to fall and using your HVAC systems less and less. Fall temperatures tend to be cool with less humidity, which means turning off your AC and enjoying the foliage, along with some energy savings.

Just because you don’t use your HVAC as frequently in the autumn, however, doesn’t mean it should be ignored completely. You’ll be relieved to know there are some simple steps you can follow to ensure your HVAC works through the fall and is prepared for winter. Here is a maintenance checklist that will keep you from “falling” behind!

Inspect and Clean Your Air Filter

Cleaning your air filter helps reduce indoor contaminants in the fall and winter, when you’re most concerned with staying warm and keeping excess allergens out of your home. Going too long without cleaning and/or replacing it increases your chances of buildup in your filter that would impede circulation of pure air. It will also help improve your HVAC’s fuel efficiency and long-term operating cost.

Clear Your Air Vents

Your air vents (also referred to as registers) need to be cleared and cleaned for full efficiency in all seasons. Move heavier furniture, toys, pet kennels, or other obstructing items away from the vents so that heated air can flow freely throughout your home.
 

Clean Your Humidifier

Humidifiers are an important part of keeping your home comfortable throughout the year. They manage humidity levels and add appropriate levels of moisture in the air to prevent these issues. In the fall and winter, colder air holds less moisture, leaving air feeling dry. Dry air can lead to dry skin, irritated sinuses and throat, itchy eyes, and overall discomfort. Dry air can also contribute to shrinking in hardwood planks and caulk joints in your home. Checking that your humidifier is clean and clear of clogs in addition to changing the water panel in the humidifier will help ensure efficiency so it can offer the relief it’s supposed to.

Use Ceiling Fans

If you have ceiling fans, use them! It will allow you to raise your thermostat temperature and keep a consistent, comfortable temperature. Ceiling fans also save on energy costs. The less you use your air conditioner, the less energy it absorbs, and the less you have to pay for it. Turn them on in the autumn or winter, too, to evenly distribute warm air throughout your house.

Schedule a Professional Maintenance Check

The best way to ensure your HVAC system is in tip-top shape for Fall is to get a professional inspection and/or repair. Certified technicians will know what to look for and expect for the upcoming season and be able to give recommendations easier when they are looking at the system in person. They’ll be able to individually inspect each component to identify both opportunities and threats to your system, saving you money on more significant repairs down the line.

Need a SMART solution for your HVAC system this fall? Contact us!
Purchasing a New Air Conditioner

What You Should Look For When Purchasing a New Air Conditioner

Many homeowners eventually face the decision of repairing or replacing their air conditioner. If you’ve made the decision to go through a replacement, the amount of options on the market can be daunting. At I Want SMART, our professionals will guide you through the decision-making process so the only thing you have to worry about is staying cool in the summer heat.

Look at the Manufacturer

An air conditioner is not an everyday purchase. It’s not as simple as paying your phone bill or a new pair of shoes. If you’re buying a new air conditioner, it means you’re looking for something to last you through many more summers. That’s why it is essential to pick a reputable brand that has the quality and durability to remain efficient for the needs of your home. The best systems quietly work to lower your utility bill by using less electricity year after year.

High Ratings and Reviews

A solid air conditioner is more than just a machine; it also comes down to the intangibles. HVAC units with high customer ratings and reviews are definitely ones to consider. Of course there are going to be people who are biased one way or the other, but it’s important to do your research to make sure the general sentiment around the brand is positive. Reading about different scenarios regarding the AC unit and how quickly/efficiently current customers were able to resolve issues is vital to getting your money’s worth. As you search, check to see what reviews say about maintenance checks, the manufacturer’s customer service, and price comparisons. All these factors will play a role in narrowing down which unit is right for you.

High Efficiency Rating

In addition to high customer ratings, the ideal system will be proven to have high efficiency ratings. An air conditioner is named efficient when it uses a minimal amount of energy to distribute equal levels of air throughout your home. Certifications from accredited organizations and partners dedicated to energy conservation are a sign the manufacturer prioritizes saving you money in the long run. To investigate this further, you can reference those organizations’ websites and read consumer reports about the actual dollars saved. It’s tempting to go with the easy option of just going with a brand name, but that doesn’t always mean efficiency. Ultimately, you decide what efficiency is right for your home and pick the unit to match.

The Right Size

One of the most common mistakes homeowners make is choosing the wrong sized air conditioner. In their defense, it can be tricky. This depends on more factors than you would think, like square footage, building materials, and direction the house faces to name a few. A term you will most likely hear tossed around is “tonnage.” Although pronounced like the weight measurement, it refers to the amount of heat a certain unit can remove from a home in an hour. This load varies per home, contingent on ceiling height, window count, and overall airflow. Having one of our professional contractors evaluate the heat load of your home will help you pick the right-sized unit the first time.

Choose a Credible Contractor and Installation Service

In the long haul, potentially the best thing you can do to make sure your air conditioner is the proper type, durability, size, and efficiency for your home is hiring a professional to perform an inspection. Our contractors are located all over the Chicagoland area to help you understand your HVAC equipment and save you future headaches. We are specially trained in all systems and can give the recommendation that will keep you and family cool this summer.

Have more air conditioner questions? Shoot us a message, and we’ll get back to you ASAP!
HVAC maintenance tips

Common Summertime HVAC Maintenance Tips

Summer is here, which means time spent outside with family and friends. You don’t want to spend all that valuable time worrying about your air conditioner. In the end, spending a small amount of time doing basic checks on your system could save you both time and money.

Here are some simple maintenance tips to help you get through the summer and identify problems for a professional to handle.

Change your air filter

Switching out your air filter is an essential part of keeping your HVAC system functional and your home filled with healthy air. A dirty air filter is one of the most, if not the most, common reason a system breaks down. Accumulated dirt will block air from flowing, and in turn damage integral parts to the safety and function of your furnace. Lack of adequate airflow can cause a range of problems that can become extremely costly.

Check your thermostat

Your thermostat is one of the most important components of your HVAC system. When it’s properly selected for your system, sending a signal, and set to the right temperature, it’s your greatest and simplest asset in living comfortably. Maintenance of a thermostat is pretty easy: if it’s acting up, replace the batteries and return it to your preferred settings. If for some reason it’s malfunctioning all the time no matter how many times you try to reset it, it might be worth purchasing a new one instead of spending money on repairs. Particularly with older models, it’s hard to find parts, and it’s worth the long-term added value to replace it. Be cautious, though, as improperly changing out a thermostat can cause unwanted problems. When in doubt, call an IWantSmart contractor.

Clear the area around the vent

One of the easiest ways to make sure air is flowing into your home properly is by allowing air to get to the furnace. Return vents can become blocked by furniture, pet dander, and toys that could become lodged inside. Keeping your vents clean will also decrease dirt, dust, and allergens finding their way inside your vents and further blocking airflow. Overall, be wary of your vent placement and keep the surrounding area clean.

Check if the system is draining

This is probably the most commonly overlooked part of HVAC maintenance, yet the most frequent as temperatures rise. The condensate line is important in removing condensation produced by your AC’s evaporator coil. Make sure the condensate drain is clear of debris and can flow freely.  A blocked or obstructed drain can cause a backup, and the water will flow from the pan and take an unintended path causing damage to the furnace and the surrounding floor.

Call a professional

Ultimately, the only sure-fire way to know how to resolve a problem is to contact a professional HVAC technician. I Want Smart’s technicians are put through thorough training and equipped with the knowledge to solve any problem you throw their way, allowing you to stay cool this summer.

Contact SMART today to figure out the smartest solution to your HVAC problems!
replacing your furnace

Replacing Your Furnace After Winter Is SMART: Here’s Why

No doubt about it, winter takes a toll on your average, everyday furnace. After running all season for years on end, your furnace has almost certainly accrued some mileage. If the repair bills are starting to mount, or if you know they’re probably right on the horizon, it makes sense to start replacing your furnace and get everything taken care of for good right now. Here’s why.

1) You’ll save money.

As mentioned above, it’s best to get ahead of repair costs. Think of your furnace as a car. You can replace the tires, the muffler, and the brakes, but that’s not going to stop the other parts from eventually breaking down. If you’ve begun the process of having your furnace fixed in one way or another, it’s only a matter of time before you’re going to need it fixed more frequently. Get ahead of it and cut your losses before it’s too late.

And speaking of saving money…

2) We’re offering an exclusive rebate.

Schedule your furnace replacement before June 30th, and we’ll toss in a $200 rebate free of charge. Take note that this specific rebate is completely exclusive to SMART customers. Many other companies will try to sell you on the manufacturer rebates that are offered to pretty much everyone. Of course, we include those too, but we’re always looking to take it one step further in an effort to make it easier on you.

3) Right now, there’s lower demand.

We’re pretty proud of our turnaround time at all times of year, but if there was ever a time to pounce on our deftness, it’s now. Many people wait until they’re huddled around their ovens in the dead of winter to schedule an appointment. Of course, that’s probably not the best way to go about it.

A small tip, if you have a pilot light, you’re way past due. Odds are your unit is at least 25 years old, which means you’ll soon be hit with hefty repair bills if you haven’t been paying them already.

So don’t wait until it breaks. Keep your house temperature regulated, keep your energy costs down, and take advantage of the timing with our exclusive rebate. Replacing your furnace after winter is SMART.

smart-hvac-contractors

New Year’s Resolution: Work With a SMART HVAC Contractor

This New Year, leave poor HVAC technicians in the past.

SMART HVAC contractors outclass, outsmart, and outwork the competition, and we’re excited to keep that tradition rolling in 2016. In fact, we’re so excited about our loyal consumer base that we’re offering large rebate offers on top of our quality service (more on those later).

Here’s why you should start the New Year on the right foot – by turning over a new leaf with the SMART HVAC contractors of your choice.

Satisfied Customers Agree

We can sit here all day talking about how great we are, how we provide the best quality of work, and how you’re certainly getting the best value – but let’s face it – our customers know best. Here’s what some of our patrons had to say:

“What a great company! I was referred by a neighbor who praised the work of SMART HVAC contractors. He was right about everything. Of course it was an incredibly hot day in Chicago. The AC would switch on, but no cool air. The temp in the house was around 86 degrees!”

“This is a top notch company. Great service, great products and no gimmicks! Also, several great rebates! If you need a new furnace/AC, you can’t go wrong with iwantsmart.com!”

“I run a mid-sized property management company, and iwantsmart.com is the best resource to find the best HVAC technician. They are knowledgeable, timely, honest and reasonably priced. What more can you ask for? Their best characteristic is that they can be taken at their word. Highly Recommended!”

We’re Easy to Find

SMART’s qualified HVAC technicians can be found all over Chicagoland. And with over 25 locations to choose from, you’re never too far away from our esteemed service. Check out our locations page to find the nearest SMART location near you. We’ve included a map, a link to their website, their contact information, and even directions on how to get there. Why make it difficult?

Experience & Value

With over 50 years of experience serving Northeastern Illinois, we’ve had plenty of time to perfect our craft and optimize our ongoing educational courses. We’ll make sure you can sleep peacefully at night knowing that your HVAC system is running smoothly and efficiently.

Since we’ve been at this for so long, we’d like to reward our loyal customers. To do so, we’re offering unique rebates on a variety of services. These current offers last throughout half of the upcoming year, though you can rest assured that we’ll have additional deals in the future as well

 

View our rebates HERE!

Belmont HVAC contractors

Giving Back the SMART Way

There are plenty of reasons to choose a SMART contractor, but have you heard about how we give back to the community? When an opportunity to sponsor a Jr. League baseball team from the east side of Joliet came up, I Want SMART jumped on it. Belmont Little League has advanced to the Illinois State Tournament to continue their fight to play Michigan for the Little League World Series on Friday, July 24th. With the high costs of hotels, food and gas to get the team there they had to put a slight hold on going. I Want SMART knows the importance and impact that this type of experience has on kids and that’s why it was a given to make a donation to the team. With the help of I Want SMART, Belmont Little League was able to get to the tournament and fight for a win against Michigan!

 
Let us know if you would like to help donate to this cause or if you have another cause you would like I Want SMART to donate to.

Awesome dog

4 Practices to Keep Pets Cool This Summer

Summer is a great time to enjoy outdoor activities with your pet, from hiking to playing Frisbee to going for a sunset run. However, every pet owner should be aware of the many health risks associated with too much heat exposure. Exposing your pet to excessive sun and high temperatures without proper defense can lead to sunburned skin, heat stroke, exhaustion, dehydration, and in extreme cases death. Protect your pet’s well-being with these top four summer-savvy tips.

Turn up the AC
Animals are unable to cool themselves properly in excessive heat and humidity, so it’s important as a pet owner to provide a cool and comfortable living space for your pet. Heat stroke can set in at temperatures of 70 degrees Fahrenheit and above. Before leaving the house, check the forecast and set the thermostat to an appropriate temperature. By keeping the air conditioning running while you are out, it will ensure your pet’s body temperature stays at a safe level.
Never leave your pet in a parked car on a hot day without the air conditioning running. Experts advise owners to leave pets at home in the AC, rather than risk putting the animal at harm. Even with leaving a window cracked, the temperature inside your vehicle can reach dangerous levels.

Prepare for power outages
Chicago has seen heightened levels of rain this summer and a few intense storms. In case of a potential power outage, owners should create a disaster plan to keep pets safe from overheating and other temperature-related complications. This plan can include having a battery-operated desk fan on hand, chilling freezer packs to place in their beds, standby home generator, and keeping drapes and curtains closed. It’s important to keep air circulating, even during power outages.

Plenty of water available
Dehydration is one of the main things that can plague a pet during the summer. Owners should ensure pets have adequate amounts of fresh and clean water readily available to them.

Keep them indoors
While your pet might want to run around outside, you should limit their exercise outdoors to times during the day when the sun is not at its hottest. Early in the morning or in the evening is the optimal time, as the outdoor temperature will have naturally cooled down. Other than that, they should be kept inside.

It’s vital to keep your pet safe and hydrated when humidity or temperatures reach dangerous highs. I Want Smart is committed to helping families—including your furry best friends—stay safe, comfortable and cool during the summer months.

Keep your family and pets cool this summer and contact an I Want Smart technician near you for a consultation, installation, maintenance check or repair.