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Air Conditioner Maintenance: Benefits and Health Risks

Air conditioning units make our lives more comfortable. But there are health risks that come with an un-maintained AC. We often neglect the proper care and air conditioning maintenance it needs.

They seem to be working fine. But, you can’t avoid the health risks that come with an AC unit that hasn’t been cleaned or maintained for a long time.

All ventilation entries are sealed when an air conditioner is running. It needs to be clean and pure because that’s the only air circulating in the room. It means that the quality of air that is coming out from the vents is more important.

Did you know that when an AC is blowing out pollutants into the air, the signs or symptoms are evident? Here’s a look at some of the health risks that you are in danger of with an unmaintained unit.

 

Health Risks for Unmaintained Air Conditioner

 

1. Sinuses, Allergies and Asthma Triggers

Dust and dirt accumulate in your AC vents. This can trigger asthma attacks, allergies or cause sinus issues when turned on. If these pollutants are airborne and circulating stale air, you are likely to develop respiratory problems. Not to mention, skin and throat irritation.

So, clean your AC vents at least once a week or depending on the frequency of dust and dirt buildup.

 

2. Infections due to Spreading of Microorganisms

An AC unit promotes bacteria and fungi growth if it’s not cleaned and serviced. This is because of the warm, humid and damp atmosphere within the unit. It becomes a breeding ground for microorganisms.

Some fungi don’t cause infections. But some of the more dangerous ones can lead to allergic reactions. Even breathing difficulty, or worse, lung infection. These particular fungi include Histoplasma, Capsulatum, and Aspergillus.

Regular maintenance by a professional HVAC technician will end these health hazards. Ensuring that your cooling system is functioning the way it should.

 

3. Legionnaires’ Disease

Legionella bacteria can form if you leave the water unattended in your AC for too long. It can lead to Legionnaires’ Disease when droplets from this contaminated water get spread by your AC. A type of pneumonia which has proven to be fatal in some cases.

Symptoms of this disease include nausea, chest pain, headache, body aches, fever, and weakness. Treatment for Legionnaire’s disease must not be delayed to make a full recovery.

 

How to Maintain a Safe and Healthy Air Conditioned Environment

Regular cleaning maintenance is the best way to keep a smooth and safe AC running. A well-reputed HVAC company will clean and service your unit to ensure that it is not blowing a polluted air. They’ll also check for any internal problems in the system. This gives you the peace of mind about your indoor air, and it also prolongs the life of your air conditioner.

 

Prepare to Cool Down this Summer with Your Air Conditioner

As the warmer months approach, the smart thing to do is to make sure your air conditioner is ready for a cruel summer. In fact, keeping your AC in tiptop condition throughout the year is important for the longevity of its life. However, this can only be achieved by regular maintenance and servicing of the unit.

Now, getting back to summer, this is the time of year when your air conditioner is anything but a luxury; it’s a necessity! We run our ACs for prolonged periods, day in and day out when the weather starts to warm up. Hence, the proper running of your cooling system is imperative. We all know what happens when an AC breaks down in summer; the temperature in your home rises almost as quickly as your blood pressure! So, without any further ado, let’s discuss how you can ensure that your air conditioner is ready to keep you cool all summer long!

 

Steps for an Effective Maintenance for Your Air Conditioner

  1. Replace Air Filters

If you’re not using your AC for a while, chances are you’ll need to replace the air filters. In general, most cooling systems require the air filters to be changed every month regardless of whether they are being used. This happens because dirt and dust clog the filters over time, hindering the cool air coming out. What’s worse, dirty or clogged air filters release dust particles into the air which contaminate your home every time you turn on your AC. Therefore, we strongly suggest that you replace your AC’s air filters before running it for extended hours this summer.

 

  1. Clean Vents

Your air vents also collect dust quickly and easily and hence, must be cleaned regularly. This is a job that must be done thoroughly as vents are prone to dirt and even worse, vermin. Call in a professional cleaner, if needed, to get the ‘all-clear’ signal before you use your cooling system. On the subject of ventilators, make sure that nothing is obstructing them as this can strain your AC’s motor which, in turn, can cause damage to the unit.

 

  1. Flush Drain Pipes

Clogged drain pipes are certainly not going to do your cooling system any good; hence, the extra precaution of flushing them out will pay off in the long run. Even if there is little debris or dirt in the pipes, it’s advisable to clean them before use. To do this, pour some vinegar down each tube, rinsing them out with water after that. Vinegar is an excellent cleanser that helps break down dirt and unclog narrow spaces.

 

  1. Do Test Runs

Lastly, test your air conditioner by running it at different temperatures. Start with a low temperature and check how quickly the room (or house) cools down. Run it for a good half hour and take walks around the house to check for any warm spots. Similarly, do test runs at higher temperatures and check if the coolness is distributed evenly throughout the house. If you find any difference in the AC’s functioning from the last time you used it, call in a professional HVAC technician to inspect the unit.

Go Green at Home with These Must-Have Eco-Friendly Products

As most of you must be aware of by now, the need to ‘go green’ is more critical than ever! Many of us choose to ignore what’s happening to our planet and how global warming is continually putting species and future generations at risk. But maybe if you knew just how easy it was to incorporate green products into your home and lead greener lives, you’d make some changes right away.

There are plenty of ways to reduce the ill-effects caused to our planet and yes, every household matters. You could do your part with these incredibly simple products and ways to make your home greener.

  1. Water Conservation

Saving water not only benefits the planet, but it also cuts down your water bill. It’s a win-win situation! To conserve water, we don’t mean you should bathe less frequently but instead, use smart ways to reduce the water flow from your faucets. This can be done by using low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators. They can be purchased from a hardware store and don’t cost much. If you’re worried about the water pressure being hindered, you should know that the only thing these faucet attachments do is reduce the amount of water coming out while maintaining the pressure!

  1. Switch to Natural/Homemade Cleaners

There are dozens of eco-friendly cleaning products on the market that are just as effective as those chemicals you’ve been using for years. One simply needs to give them a try before discounting their effectiveness. What’s more, you can make your own natural cleaners for daily cleaning and be 100% satisfied with the results. If you do a little research, you’ll find plenty of uses for vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda and other household products to clean various areas of your home.

  1. Bring in Some Planted Pots

Plants literally make your home greener! The benefits of houseplants are fantastic; from improved health and lesser air pollutants, to increased oxygen and cooler air, there are plenty of good reasons to get more potted plants into your home. Better air quality and a drop in temperature means less cleaning and dependence on air purifiers, while fans/ACs can run for shorter periods. Plants also have mental benefits and beautify your home.

  1. Energy-Saving Light Bulbs

When sunset comes around, lights are on in almost every room. One useful tip to conserve energy is to turn off a light when you leave the room, but there will always be a couple of light bulbs illuminating your home for hours before everyone goes to bed. This is why it’s important to have energy-saving light bulbs installed throughout your home such as LED bulbs. They use minimum power and can significantly reduce your monthly electricity bill.

  1. The Ultimate Eco Product – Solar Panels

This is a rather big investment but if you’re serious about going green at home, solar energy can do wonders for yourself and the environment. What’s more, you don’t have to power your entire house right away; you could start by investing in small solar panels that will power certain areas of your home. In the long run, solar energy will save you tons of money by cutting power costs.

Split AC or Window AC? Know the Difference First

Before you consider brands and start comparing prices, you have to choose between a window AC and a spilt AC. Of course, this also requires research and comparing the two options on many levels before you can fully understand which one suits your cooling needs best. Below you will find all you need to know about window ACs, split ACs and the factors to consider before making a purchase.

Window Air Conditioners

These ACs are basically single, cubical units that require a window space to be installed. The major part of the AC sits outside while the front faces inside the room. Window ACs contain all the components required to function in one unit including the heat exchanger, compressors and pipes. This is the main reason why they do not give out as much cool air as split ACs, making them more suitable for offices, bedrooms or small apartments. They are also noisier than split ACs because all the functioning happens in one place that is right outside the window space.

Installation is another big factor that influences one’s decision when comparing window ACs and split ACs. In this regard, the former is definitely more favorable as installation is easier, cost-effective and space-saving. A window AC requires a single base to sit on and little external work to install. Servicing is also more convenient and hence, cheaper than split ACs. All in all, if you don’t mind the noise, window ACs are cost-effective and suitable for cooling smaller spaces.

Split Air Conditioners

With these systems you have an air conditioner that is split into two separate units. The external unit contains the compressor and other components that contribute to the noise when the AC is functioning. The cooling system inside the room is connected to the outdoor unit by copper tubing via a small hole made in the wall. Split ACs do not require window space to be installed; however, there must be sufficient space outside to accommodate the exhaust unit. This means the external unit requires a stand to mount it on which adds to the already pricey unit.

One of the advantages of having a split AC, however, is that it is virtually noise-free. The external unit is where all operational noise happens while the indoor unit silently cools the room. Another great thing about these systems is that they can be made more powerful as they are divided into two units. Split ACs are advisable for large rooms, offices or homes and are very reliable. What’s more, the external unit can be used for more than one cooling unit inside your home, making it more cost-effective if you have multiple ACs in your home. Installation and servicing, however, are on the steeper side.

Now that you have all the information, base your decision on the following criteria:

– How many ACs you plan to purchase

– Where you wish to use it (size of the room)

– Available space (window or external space)

– Noise level

– Budget and servicing costs

3 Things You MUST Consider Before Choosing An Air Purifier

How to Choose an Air Purifier

The reasons for wanting or needing an air purifier are plenty. Indoor air pollutants come in many forms such as pet dander and fur; smoke and fumes from cooking; dust and dirt; and outside pollution blowing in through your windows. For most homeowners, knowing when an air purifier is a necessity isn’t the problem; figuring out which one to get is.

Choosing the right air purifier is imperative for proper functioning of the system. For example, purchasing one that is too small for a large room in your home will do you very little good (if any at all). To make the best purchase on air purifiers, it’s always a good idea to know the right features. Read on to find out how to choose the best and most effective air purifier for your home’s needs.

1. Main Purpose of the Air Purifier

Air purifying systems can detect, as well as remove, all kinds of indoor air pollutants. However, some of them are made to filter specific particles better than others. For example, in a home with pets, you can find air purifying filters that will specifically target dander, fur and germs, while being less effective in removing bad or strong odors in the home. Hence, it’s important to know what the biggest contributions to poor air quality in your home are before deciding on an air purifier.

2. Types of Air Filters

There are various types of air filters to choose from including carbon, UV, Ionic and HEPA filtration. Each come with their own pros and cons; however, we’ve narrowed it down to two options that work most effectively when used together – HEPA and activated carbon air filters.

The use of HEPA filters alone can purify indoor air that is contaminated with mold, pet dander, pollen, bacteria and dust (to name a few). On the other hand, they are not very effective where smoke, chemicals and fumes are concerned. This is where activated carbon filters come in. Not only can they free your air of such pollutants and remove bad odors, once particles are trapped by the carbon filters, there is no chance of them being released into the purified air.

3. Size and Power

Generally, all purifiers have room coverage ratings that are measured in square feet. Before you start comparing different types and prices, take measurements of the room in which you will be using the air purifier. This will ensure that you are purchasing one with the appropriate power and size to work effectively. You also need to consider how high the ceiling is and whether adjacent rooms have large entries, corridors or doors that are often left open. In these cases, purchasing a more powerful system will be better suited for your home.

With these important factors in mind, you will be able to choose the right air purification system to keep your home and family healthy!

The History of Heating Pt. 3

The Industrial Revolution Further Spurs Heating Innovation

 

Hello, and welcome back to the third and final installment of our blog series on the history and evolution of home heating. When we last left off, heating had been refined to the point in Germany that it was starting to resemble the central heating and air units that we have come to know and love. However, because these early systems still relied on the natural flow of air to heat rooms, the were often dependent upon the weather and the available amount of air circulation present in whatever building they were placed in. Luckily for us, a little period known as the Industrial Revolution brought new ways of thinking and innovation to home heating systems.

 

The First True Warm Air Furnace is Born

 

William Strutt, an Englishman, invented a warm-air furnace in 1805 that was made up of a wrought iron air chamber that was encased in brick. Strutt left a small amount of space between the iron and the brick which allowed air to circulate around the inner iron casing. The brick encasing the iron was split into two sections, the lowers section used to draw in cool air and the upper section which was used to release the warm air. As cold air moved through the lower part of the casing, it was heated by the iron furnace and then moved through the upper openings of the casing into the heated air chamber. The entire furnace was connected to a duct system that distributed the heated air throughout the house, and the openings of the ducts were fitted with dampers to allow individuals in each room to control the amount of heat that they received from the furnace.

 

The Furnace Gets a Helping Hand

 

For the next few decades, these rudimentary furnaces were used worldwide to heat homes, relying on the temperature/density relationship of warm and cold air to cause the warm air to properly circulate. However, with the widespread availability of the electric table fan in the late 1800s, an idea started to float around in the world of the furnace. The first instance of an electric fan being used to force warm air out of a furnace was reported in the late 1800s in Mannington West Virginia. This setup used an electric fan to force the circulation of warm air out of a homemade gas furnace. In the early 1900s, both General Electric and Emerson Electric advertised aftermarket electric fans that could be installed in furnaces to provide better circulation, but it wasn’t until the 1930s that furnaces with fans in them became widely available in the United States.
While this blog series has given only the briefest overview of the history of home heating, we hope that you have learned a little bit more about what it took to achieve the heating marvel that is the modern furnace. Furnaces today are not only quiet and efficient, but they put out enough heat to comfortably warm even the largest of homes. In order to make sure that your furnace is working properly this winter, please contact us today at EcoLife Home Comfort. Our furnace experts will come out to inspect your home’s furnace to ensure that it will not fail you during the cold Toronto winter. If it turns out that your furnace is in perfect working condition, we also offer furnace cleaning services to remove unwanted dust and debris from your furnace and ducts. Whatever your need, we have the experience and passion needed to ensure that your furnace is performing to the best of its ability. Don’t get left out in the cold this winter, contact us today.

The History Of Heating Pt. 2

The Ancients Wanted Heating Systems as Well

 

Welcome back to part two of our blog series on the evolution of the home heating system. While we realize that not everyone is as into heating systems as we are here at EcoLife Home Comfort, we still feel that this blog series is an interesting read. Although we tend to take our furnaces in Toronto for granted, the winter months would be pretty terrible if these wonderful machines had not been invented. As we all know, however, appliances such as the furnace are often a culmination of hundreds or thousands of years of tinkering. In today’s post, we’re going to continue detailing the history of home heating and how it has led to our modern level of comfort.

 

People Quickly Figured Out That Warm Air is Nice

 

Although it should come as no surprise to anyone who has experienced the majesty of central heating and air, warm air on a cold winter night is one of the best feelings in the world. When enjoying the warm air blasting out from your furnace, you should say a quick thank you to Emperor Heliogabalus. Historians believe that Emperor Heliogabalus, around the year 200, had a palace that was warmed through the use of heated air. To achieve this engineering feat, a stove was placed in a brick chamber under the rooms of the palace. Air from outside was then channeled through ducts into the space that housed the stove. As the air worked its way around the stove it was heated and rose through openings in the floor to the rooms above. While this early warm air heating system is hard to verify, we here at EcoLife Home Comfort choose to believe that the ancients were as into warm air as much as we are.

 

The Middle Ages see a Rise in Warm Air Heating

 

The first verifiable warm air heating system can be traced back to the city hall of Luneburg, Germany constructed in the 1200s. Historical records indicate that the city hall was heated by three large furnaces located below the main level of the building. The furnaces were used to heat the above chamber and were connected to the room through round ducts that opened under the seats located in the hall. Individuals were able to regulate how much heat was released under their seat by either opening or closing an iron cover that sat over the opening of the duct. While this system is considered somewhat crude by today’s standards, it is easy to see how this design influenced modern furnace and duct structures for decades to come.
Join us again next time as we wrap up our blog series on the history of home heating and explore how the industrial revolution further advanced the field of central home heating. Additionally, if you are experiencing any issues with your home’s heating system or furnace, give us a call today at EcoLife Home Comfort in Toronto. WE have the knowledge, tools, and experience you need in order to ensure that your home stays warm all winter long.

The History Of Heating Pt. 1

Humans Love Heat

 

At EcoLife Home Comfort, we are all about heating. Much of our time during the winter months is dedicated to ensuring that the furnaces of Toronto are working as well as possible to ensure that people stay as warm as possible. When considering what to write for this blog post we wrestled with a few ideas. However, after much consideration, we have settled on a topic that we think many of our clients and potential clients will find interesting: the history of home heating. Although most people today probably don’t give much thought to how the heating of homes has evolved, it is actually a rather interesting subject. The mastery of home heating has allowed us, as a species, to live in areas that at first inhospitable for human life. To learn more about how this mastery developed, continue reading below.

 

Fire was the First Advancement in Home Heating

 

Like so many other things developed throughout history, fire played a crucial role in the early forays into home heating. Evidence suggest that early humans began to utilize campfires around 1.5 million years ago. While these early fires were used for many things (cooking, light, making weapons), at some point our ancestors realized that these fires could be brought inside caves to act as a source of warmth. These early cave dwellings typically placed the fire in a central location and in an area where the smoke would escape through some sort of opening in the roof of the cave. Although the placement and sizes of the fires were experimented with, this heating setup was the first time in history that humans were able to control the heat in their own homes and, as a result, somewhat control the environment in which they lived.

 

As Humanity Evolved so did Heating

 

While campfires served as the main heating method of human dwellings for thousands of years, they would eventually give way to something better. Evidence from excavations in Greece show that people developed the fixed central hearth as far back as 2500 B.C. A central hearth not only better distributed heat in the homes of ancient Greeks, it also allowed them better utilize fire for cooking purposes. These central hearths eventually gave way to smaller fireplaces, and further evidence shows that by the 13 century, crude fireplaces were widely used across Europe. These early fireplaces were made of stone and mortar stacked together, however as smelting improved some fireplaces started to incorporate an iron back in order to better distribute the heat. Iron heating plates, and advancements made in chimney construction are some of the most important steps taken in the home heating journey.

 

Joins us again next time was we continue to go over the history of the home heating system and how, eventually, it has lead to modern furnaces that we are now able to enjoy. If you find that your furnace needs a checkup, don’t hesitate to contact the expert at EcoLife Home Comfort. Our technicians will come to your home, inspect your furnace, and let you know if any maintenance work needs to be done.

Improve The Efficiency Of Your Furnace

Help Your Furnace Help You

 

As this blog is being written, it is currently -4 degrees centigrade in Toronto. While that is certainly not the coldest it has ever been in our fair city, it’s still pretty cold. Here at EcoLife Home Comfort, we want to help everyone stay as warm as possible this winter. A warm home is a happy home, and one of the keys to having a warm home is having a furnace that properly produces heat. While most furnaces do a great job in keeping a home warm, some need a little bit of help. It’s not that they aren’t trying to heat as efficiently as possible, it’s just that they may not have all the necessary resources to effectively complete their task. To help you help your furnace, we are going to use today’s post to list out a few things you can do to help improve the efficiency of your existing furnace. These tips could be the difference between a winter with nor furnace issues and a winter where blankets are an indoor necessity.

 

Follow These Tips To Improve Furnace Efficiency

 

Most modern furnaces claim to have an efficiency rate of a little over 90 percent. This is good for consumers because not only does it mean that their furnaces are keeping their house warm, it also means that the furnace is not costing them more money than it should. However, what if your furnace needs a little help attaining this level of efficiency? Perhaps your furnace is a little older, causing it to struggle to keep up with your demands. Below, we have listed a few things you can do to ensure that your furnace is cranking out heat as economically as possible.

 

 

  • Schedule Seasonal Maintenance: Although we harp on it quite a bit, having your furnace properly serviced on a seasonal basis can go a long way in ensuring that it is running as efficiently as possible. Just like an oil change for your car, these tune-ups can go a long way in making sure that your furnace doesn’t suddenly give out on you. Not only will the technician ensure that all of your furnaces parts are in proper working order, they can also clean the interior of your furnace of any dust or debris that has settled in the system.
  • Seal Up Those Leaks: Energy Star, that wonderful watchdog that puts ratings on all of your home’s appliances, estimates that as much as 20 percent of the air moving through your home’s duct system is lost due to leakage. 20 percent, no matter how you look at it, is a lot of lost heat. To help prevent this leakage from occurring, contact an HVAC technician, like those at EcoLife Home Comfort, and have them do an inspection of your home’s duct work. If you would rather try and patch the leaks yourself, be sure that you are using the proper materials. Ironically, duct tape is actually not that great for duct repair work. Instead, we suggest that you use adhesive-backed foil tape or duct mastic to not only plug up any leaks but to also act as another level of insulation.
  • Update Your Thermostat: While it may not seem initially obvious, the type of thermostat you have greatly affects the efficiency of your home’s furnace. If your home is still equipped with an old school thermostat that must be adjusted by moving a lever and only serves to manually turn the heat on and off, we suggest that you get a new one as soon as possible. While the world of thermostats in recent years has gone through some major changes, you don’t have to drop hundreds of dollars on a  fancy “smart thermostat” such as a nest. A programmable digital thermostat is entirely adequate for most homes, and allows for a level of precision that manual thermostats can only dream of.
  • Zoned Heating: If you live in a larger home and are looking for an effective way to reduce your energy bill and increase the efficiency of your furnace, a zone heating system might be just what you need. Zoned heating allow you to break up your house into a multitude of “zones”, giving you the ability to control the temperature in each zone independently from the others. This is advantageous for large houses with multiple rooms as it allows the homeowner to only send heat to the areas of the house that are in use while keeping unused areas at the house at a cooler, more cost effective temperature.

While there are other ways to improve the efficiency of your home’s heating system, we feel that the above solutions are the most effective. If you are worried about the efficiency of your furnace, contact us today at EcoLife Home Comfort in Toronto and schedule a furnace maintenance appointment. Our furnace experts will help to ensure that your furnace is as healthy as possible.

Top Home Heating Myths

Help Your Furnace Heat Your Home as Efficiently as Possible

 

As winter continues to hold the Toronto area in its frigid grasp, we here at EcoLife Home Comfort have seen quite a few “tips” to help people keep their home as warm as possible while, at the same time, also reducing their monthly heating bill. While there are definitely ways to help your furnace out this winter, we wanted to take some time today to go over some common myths related heating your home. These myths, like any other myths, are simply not true and in some cases can even end up causing you more money.

 

Myth 1: Setting the Thermostat Higher Will Heat Your Home Faster

 

It’s pretty easy to understand why people believe that this myth is true. In their mind’s if they crank their thermostat up to a higher temperature that means that their furnace will produce heat at that temperature. This is such the wrong way to think about a thermostat that makes our heads hurt. Your furnace delivers air at the exact same temperature and rate, regardless of the level that our thermostat is set at. This means that bumping up your thermostat to a very high level won’t heat your home any faster, it just means that your furnace will run until the internal temperature of your home reaches that setting.

 

Myth 2: Close Your Vents and Registers to Reduce Your Heating Bill

 

Most newer model homes in the Toronto area are equipped with forced-air heating systems to distribute the heat of a home’s furnace. Forced-air systems balance the air pressure in your home to equally distribute heat through your home. Due to this feature, if you close the vents or registers of your home’s heating system you will actually force your furnace to work harder. Because the forced-air system will still try to balance out the pressure of your home, regardless of whether or not the vents are open, it will continue to run long past the point that it should have stopped.

 

Myth 3: Floors are Always Cold During the Winter

 

Anyone who has experienced winter in Toronto has, at one point or another, stepped onto a cold kitchen or bathroom floor. While most people just assume that a cold floor is something that they must deal with during the winter, this is far from the case. If your homes hard floor surfaces are particularly cold, this could be an indication that the insulation of your home is deficient. Modern home insulation should succeed in keeping warm air in while also keeping cold air out. If you find that your floors are colder than they should be, check for air leaks around your home. These leaks could be caused by faulty insulation or, in some case, breaches in your home’s exterior. Either way, making sure that warm air stays inside your home while cold air stays outside is the best way to ensure that your furnace doesn’t spend all winter trying desperately to heat your home

 

Myth 4: Set Your Thermostat Once and Leave it

Although it may sound like a simplistic idea, the warmer you keep your house during the winter, whether you are in it or not, the more your utility bill is going to cost. Many people have the false idea that lowering the temperature in their home while they are away will actually cost them more money in the long run because they will just have to expend more energy to heat their house back up again. While it is true that this can occur, it only happens when individuals drastically reduce the temperature of their home while they are not in it. Reducing the temperature of your home by just a few degrees while you are gone can save you quite a bit of money.

 

We hope that this blog has put to rest some of the myths you may have heard in regard to your home’s furnace system and heating schedule. If you find that your furnace is experiencing some issues, or you are concerned that it may soon start to experience problems give us a call at EcoLife Home Comfort. We’ll address any issues your furnace may be having and help make sure that you are kept warm all winter long.