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Specials and Rebates

PECO’s Complete Heat Pump System Buying Guide

Have you been thinking about replacing your heat pump system or swapping a furnace split system for a heat pump system? Heat pumps are a lot like a furnace and air conditioner combined; they have the dual function of heating and cooling your home. They do this by absorbing and moving the ambient heat rather than burning fuel or using electrical resistance. Because of this, heat pumps are very energy-efficient and eco-friendly compared to other climate control systems. 

Whether it’s time to replace aging equipment or you’re looking into a different type of heating system, we’ve designed this handy guide to help you find the right heat pump for your home. 

How Do Heat Pumps Work?

Air-source heat pumps are the most common type of heat pump on the market. They work by absorbing heat from the air and moving it indoors (to heat a home) or outdoors (to cool a home)—just like an air conditioner. In fact, they look similar to air conditioners and use nearly all the same parts. The only difference is that they provide both heating and cooling.  Heat pumps are the most efficient at temperatures down to 50 degrees, then the heat pump uses heat strips in the air handler to overcome the cold air when the heat pump reverses the refrigerant cycle to defrost the outdoor unit.

Although they run on electricity, they have a very high-efficiency rating, and many power companies, including Duke Energy, offer rebates and other incentives for homeowners to install them.  

Heat pumps can be used as the sole heating and cooling unit in a home, or they can be combined with an existing furnace system. This is called a dual fuel system and is one of the most efficient systems. The heat pump can be locked out at 50 degrees, and the furnace will provide more consistent heat because there is no defrost cycle at lower temperatures. 

If switching from a furnace system to a heat pump system, the electrical service and wiring in your home are a consideration. The air handler portion of a heat pump system uses heat strips at very cold temperatures; thus, a larger circuit/circuit breaker is necessary for this component.   

The Different Types of Heat Pumps

As mentioned above, air-source heat pumps are the most common type of heat pump used in the United States, especially the subset known as “air-to-air” heat pumps. The most common air-to-air heat pumps include:

Ducted Air-Source Heat Pumps
Ducted air-source heat pumps are the same as central AC units. They have an indoor and outdoor unit, as well as aluminum or copper fins and coils, refrigerant lines, and an outdoor compressor that compresses and recirculates the refrigerant. The indoor unit attaches to the ducts in your home and uses a blower to circulate the warm or cool air throughout your home. Although prices vary based on the manufacturer, the median price for these types of heat pumps at 14 SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating) is $7,791. They come in 1.5 tons up to 5 tons for residential homes and are priced based upon difficultly of installation or accessories added to the system.

Variable speed air-sourced heat pumps are the new rivals to the other systems listed below. These variable speed, variable capacity systems have built-in compressor modulation to customize your heating and cooling on the fly. In essence, a 3-ton heat pump system can act like a 1-ton system when the temperatures are mild. These systems also have an added bonus of dehumidification features… to keep the air in your home cool and crisp in the summer months. The SEER ratings for these systems are from 16 to 28 SEER—depending upon the tonnage and pairing with an indoor component.

Ductless (Mini-Split) Air-Source Heat Pumps
Mini-splits heat and cool the air just like a ducted model does, but they don’t require ductwork to move the heated or cooled air through your home—and because they don’t use ducts, which can contribute to energy loss, they’re more energy-efficient than ducted heat pumps. Instead of ducts, the outdoor unit connects to indoor handlers or “heads” that are installed throughout the house. These can be installed high on the walls or inside the floor or ceiling. 

Mini-splits can range anywhere from $3,000 to $14,500, depending on the capacity needed and the number of zones in the home. These are designed for single room use only and rooms with a minimum size of 1500 cubic feet or 10×15 room with 10’ ceiling—¾ tons up to 5 tons. These are not recommended as the main home system as there is no central return duct to circulate the air in your home, thus leading to stale dead air in closed rooms.

Less Common Heat Pumps

In addition to the above heat pumps, here are a few less common types that work well for specific situations.

Ground-source or Geothermal Heat Pumps
These heat pumps work by absorbing and releasing heat underground, where the temperature stays consistently between 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year. Since they aren’t compensating for large temperature fluctuations, they’re highly efficient. However, since they’re underground, they can be impractical for some homes, especially small lots or properties with certain types of landscaping or soil. 

Ground-source systems typically cost between $30,000 to $80,000, but the energy savings they offer, as well as government incentives, can potentially offset the cost within 10 years. Added complications are water pumps used to circulate water, digging trenches or deep holes for the in-ground water loop, and specialty contractors to work on them.

Water-source Heat Pumps 
Water-source heat pumps work the same as a ground-source system, but they’re installed at the bottom of a pond. These can be a great option if you have an appropriately sized pond on your property, as they’re easier and a little less expensive to install than ground-source.

Why Should You Consider Buying a Heat Pump?

  • You’re happy having a heat pump, but it’s time to replace your existing system. If your current unit is 10-15 years old, a newer system will be more efficient. 
  • You need to replace your central AC unit or would like to add a new unit. Since heat pumps work the same as an air conditioner on cooling mode (but with the ability to heat your home), too, you may want to consider installing a heat pump and using your existing furnace system as a backup for the coldest days of the year. This will allow you to enjoy your heat pump’s energy-saving benefits on milder days. 
  • You’d like to heat rooms that the main system doesn’t reach. Mini-split heat pumps are an ideal way to heat areas of your home that aren’t set up with ductwork, like attics, bonus rooms, garages, or home additions. 
  • You currently heat your home with delivered fuels, electric-resistance furnaces, or electric baseboard heaters. All of these systems are expensive ways to heat your home; even with the cost of installation, a heat pump will likely save you money over time. 
  • You can take advantage of heat pump subsidies and incentives. Although heat pumps tend to cost more than other heating appliances, state and utility-based subsidies can lower the costs significantly—sometimes to the point where they actually cost less. 

When Are Heat Pumps an Impractical Choice?

Although heat pumps are an ideal solution for many homes, there are some scenarios where they might be too expensive, difficult, or even impossible to install. For example:

  • Your home has no ductwork. Ducts can be challenging and expensive to install in homes that don’t already have them. However, new duct systems with the proper design (like the way PECO installs them) will provide excellent airflow to every room and last for years to come.  
  • Your home is poorly insulated or has air leaks. Since heat pumps are essentially always working to keep your home heated, good insulation is extremely beneficial. If your insulation is poor or you have leaks throughout your home, you’ll likely notice drafts and cold spots with a heat pump than you would with a traditional heating system. If you’d still like a heat pump, it’s recommended to have your insulation upgraded and the leaks sealed.  
  • Your electrical service is underpowered. If you have an older home, it may only have a 100-amp (or even 60-amp) service. Even though you can technically run a smaller-capacity mini-split on low amperage, bigger heat pumps could cause you to trip the breaker. Getting the right heat pump for your heating needs might require upgrading your electrical system to the modern standard of 200 amps. PECO can perform this work as well. 

How to Select a Heat Pump

If you’ve decided to get a heat pump, here are some important factors to help you select the right one for your home.

  • Size/Capacity

A unit that’s too small will struggle to keep your home comfortable while an overly large system will cost more and (depending on the model) may cycle on and off more than it should. Your best bet is to install a heat pump that’s properly sized for your home. Our technicians will perform a load calculation to ensure you have the right size. If you’re planning to use a backup heating system, we can also help you figure out whether an undersized heat pump might be a good option.

  • Compressor Type

The heat pump compressor is the part that’s responsible for actually pumping the heat. A basic heat pump will have a single-speed compressor that is either on or off; this can make the temperature and humidity in your home fluctuate. Some compressors have two speeds; although this helps with the fluctuations, they’ll still be present. 

A variable-speed compressor, however, is designed to run continuously and adjust to deliver only as much heating and cooling as you need. They’re also better at keeping the relative humidity consistent. Another benefit of variable-speed compressors is that they’re also more energy-efficient than single or dual-speed compressors. 

  • Efficiency

Some heat pumps use less energy than others while delivering the same level of comfort. Heating and cooling efficiency is measured by heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF) and seasonal energy-efficiency rating (SEER). Although the costs may be higher, higher HSPF or SEER-rated units will typically pay for themselves over time, and may even be eligible for better incentives or rebates than less efficient models. The most efficient heat pumps have a SEER rating of up to 28 or an HSPF of 11.2, depending on the tonnage and indoor component combination.

  • Noise

You can find noise ratings for heat pumps listed on the manufacturer’s website; they’ll typically include different decibel ratings based on outdoor temperatures and fan speeds. A lower rating is better, especially if your heat pump is installed near a bedroom window. The variable speed systems are extremely quiet, and on low speed, you wouldn’t hear it running.

A Note on Heat Pump Maintenance

Like furnaces and air conditioning units, heat pumps should receive regular maintenance to keep them operating efficiently. Once a year, you should have a technician perform the following:

  • Clean and flush the coils
  • Clear the condensate drainage system
  • Vacuum the blower compartments
  • Check that the system is properly charged with refrigerant and that there are no leaks
  • Check that all mechanical components are working properly

You can also perform some basic maintenance yourself, like cleaning the grilles, replacing the filters, and keeping weeds and other debris cleared out from around the base. Check the manufacturer’s directions for how often you need to change the filter; depending on the type, it could be anywhere between every 3 to 12 months. 

For no-hassle maintenance, consider signing up for our planned maintenance agreement!

Contact PECO to Find the Right Heat Pump for Your Needs

As you can see, there are many factors to consider when purchasing a heat pump! As with most heating and cooling systems, your best bet is to work with a professional. The margin of error for heat pumps is smaller than other heating systems, so it’s essential to install the right size for your home. If you’ve decided to switch to a heat pump—or replace an existing unit—the skilled technicians at PECO are ready to help! From helping you choose the right system to expert installation, maintenance, and repairs, we specialize in helping you maximize the comfort of your home. Contact us today at (864) 639-2424 or schedule an appointment online

Specials and Rebates

How to Get Your Furnace or Heat Pump Prepared for Winter

There are plenty of fun and memorable things to do during the winter holiday season, but they wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable without your furnace or heat pump! Although winter is months away, it’s never too early to start thinking about getting your heating system ready to keep your home warm and cozy.

Here are some easy tips to keep in mind:

Change Your Air Filter

A person changing an air filter on a high efficiency furnace

Air filters are designed to protect your furnace and keep the air in your home clean. When the filter gets too dirty, it can affect the air quality of your home, the efficiency of your furnace or heat pump, and damage delicate components. Most air filters should be changed every three to six months, but if you have a large family or pets, you may need to replace your filter more frequently.

Ensure Your Heat Pump Has Proper Air Circulation

Along with checking your air filter, you should also make sure your heat pump has enough airflow. Check your outdoor unit and clear away any weeds, leaves, grass, or other yard debris that could be blocking its air circulation.

Schedule a Maintenance Appointment

Late summer to fall is the perfect time to schedule a maintenance appointment with us. We recommend getting an inspection, cleaning, and tune-up to ensure your unit is ready to counter the cold season ahead. To help make your HVAC maintenance more convenient, we offer a planned maintenance agreement. Our skilled technicians will come to your home twice a year and perform the following services:

  • Ensure the system is operating properly
  • Check the thermostat
  • Check the operating temperatures
  • Clean burners (if accessible)
  • Check the amperage of electronics
  • Test starting capabilities
  • Clean and/or replace 1” filters
  • Check the auxiliary heat
  • Check the condensation drain/pump
  • Check the defrost control
  • Check electrical connections
  • Check the indoor and outdoor coils
  • Check the evaporator coil
  • Clean the condenser coil (as needed)
  • Check the heat exchanger (if accessible)
  • Check motors AMP draw
  • Check the refrigerant line insulation

During your maintenance appointment, we’ll also make recommendations on anything else that might be needed to help your HVAC system run as efficiently as possible. With our planned maintenance agreement, you’ll also receive an additional 10% discount on repairs, no after-hours charges, and priority service.

Sign up for our planned maintenance agreement today!

Ready to Schedule Your Fall Maintenance?

Regular HVAC maintenance is essential to keep your system working its best year-round, but it can also help you save money, keep your house cooler in the summer, and reduce energy consumption.

According to the US Department of Energy, regular maintenance can reduce your energy bills by as much as 10-25% in wintertime. If you’re ready to schedule your fall maintenance, contact PECO today at 864-639-2424 or request an appointment online. We’re ready to help you stay warm this winter!

Specials and Rebates

Maintenance Tips to Get Your Air Conditioning Summer-Ready

Few things are worse than discovering on the first sweltering hot day of summer that your air conditioner isn’t working! Unfortunately, this is often the case if your annual maintenance is overdue. However, spring is the perfect time to schedule a service call or perform some basic maintenance to ensure your AC is ready to keep you cool this summer. 

So why does this happen? Central air conditioners use an indoor air handler and an outdoor compressor. The condenser (which is the part of the unit that needs to be cleaned and maintained) is usually located outdoors. During the cold winter months, while your air conditioner has been sitting idle, it’s been collecting leaves and other types of debris. To get your AC into shape for the warm weather ahead, it’s important to clean the condenser, replace the filters, and perform some minor checks. 

How to Perform Basic Maintenance 

Although we recommend staying up-to-date with your annual maintenance service, we have several tips to help you get your AC ready to cool your home efficiently this summer.

  1. Shut off power to your AC unit and condenser

Safety always comes first! Before performing any maintenance, be sure to turn off the circuit breaker to your AC unit. You should also turn off the power to the condenser at the service panel. The condenser unit will look like a large metal box with a fan and grilles on the sides. Condensers usually have a 240-volt weatherproof disconnect box containing a lever, fuses, or a circuit breaker to shut off the condenser; this will be located near the unit and should be turned off as well. 

  1. Clean or replace the AC filters

The filters should be cleaned or replaced whenever they start to look dirty and clogged with dust and debris. At the very least, make a point to clean or replace them twice a year. If the air filters are dirty, it will restrict airflow and affect how efficiently your AC runs. Dusty filters can also cause respiratory issues because they recirculate the dust into your home. 

  1. Clean your condenser coils.

It is not recommended you disassemble the outdoor or indoor units as there are electronic circuit boards, high and low voltage wires as well as delicate refrigerant lines.  

  • Gently hose down the outdoor coils with a hose.  High pressure can cause damage to the coils and splash on the electrical circuit boards.  Never use a pistol sprayer or high pressure washer to clean your coils.  
  • If it looks like you still can’t see through the coils after this or there is dirt matting them, call PECO and we can professionally clean them for you.
  1. Remove debris from the base

After you’ve cleaned the condenser coils, clear out all the leaves and debris that have accumulated at the base of the condenser. If your AC unit has a drain, you’ll also need to make sure it’s clear of any debris. 

  1. Check the coolant lines

The coolant lines are usually covered with foam insulation, and run from the AC’s evaporator on the air handler to the condenser. Check the insulation for any damage; if you see areas that are frayed or missing, replace them with new foam insulation sleeves. If you don’t have foam insulation sleeves, you can wrap the lines with foam insulation tape. 

  1. Test your AC unit

Once you’ve finished cleaning the unit, it’s time to turn the power back on and test it using these steps:

  • Turn the thermostat in your home off.
  • Turn the power on at the disconnect box and the main panel. 
  • Switch your indoor thermostat to cool. 

If your AC is working as it should, great! If not, you’ll need to schedule a service call. Although basic maintenance can be DIY, repairs should always be handled by a skilled HVAC professional. 

PECO Will Help You Get Your AC in Gear for Summer!

If you feel uncomfortable performing maintenance yourself or your AC isn’t working right, PECO is here to help! We’ll check the entire system, including refrigerant levels, electrical connections, wiring, and other components, so you can be confident your system is in proper working order. Our expert technicians can quickly diagnose any issues and get your AC up and running in no time. Don’t put off your AC maintenance until the dog days of summer! Contact PECO today at (864) 639-2424 and enjoy comfortable indoor temperatures all summer long.

Specials and Rebates

Why a New Furnace May Be the Most Cost-Effective & Energy-Efficient Option

If you’ve noticed your energy bills rising, especially during the cooler months, you may have something wrong with your furnace. Although you might just need repairs, replacing an old system could be the most cost-effective choice in the long run. The cost of a new furnace may seem high, but newer systems are much more energy-efficient—some models can achieve as high as 98% efficiency! 

Not only can a new furnace help save money on energy bills, but you also won’t need to worry about it breaking down repeatedly like you would with an older system. If you’ve been scheduling repairs more than once a year for the last few years, it’s a sure sign your furnace is nearing the end. 

What to Consider Before Having a New Furnace Installed

Before you commit to a new furnace, there could be other issues going on that would make replacing your current heating system unnecessary. Here are a few things to check before making a decision:

  • Room air balance
    When your home’s doors and windows are closed, the air pressure should be identical in every room. If warm air is forced into a room and can’t escape when newly heated air is produced, it can cause inefficiency issues. It’s recommended to have your room air balance inspected before you decide to install a new furnace.  
  • A dirty heat exchanger
    The heat exchanger can be difficult to access and clean on your own, so it should be serviced by a professional. When the heat exchanger gets too dirty, it can make it work harder than it should, especially if you’ve had your furnace for 10 years or more. If you’re not sure when you purchased your current furnace, it’s best to schedule a service call
  • A dirty furnace filter
    A clogged or dirty furnace filter affects the airflow throughout your home and HVAC system; it can also cause the heat exchanger to become too warm and switch off. Although some furnaces have filters you can change out yourself, others have filters that can only be accessed by a professional. The filter should be changed regularly so your furnace can function as efficiently as possible. 
  • Air leakage
    Air leakage is a common issue with older heating systems that can cause hot or cold spots in a room and higher energy bills. The duct system should be checked and sealed if any leaks are found. This is one of the most cost-effective ways to improve your system’s energy efficiency. 

3 Common Signs That It’s Time for a New Furnace

From the age of your system to uneven temperatures, there are several common signs that it’s time to replace your furnace. If you’ve noticed any of these signs, contact PECO to discuss the latest energy-efficient furnaces on the market. 

Your older furnace isn’t heating your home well anymore

The average furnace is designed to operate for 15-30 years, but their heating output becomes more limited as they age. When this happens, the system isn’t able to distribute hot air evenly throughout your home, which can cause areas of hot and cold spots. 

If you have an older furnace, it may be time for a new one—but it’s possible that all you need is an air duct cleaning. If the air ducts are dirty or partially clogged, it can affect how efficiently your system can distribute heat. Dirty ducts also impact your air quality and cause respiratory issues. Call PECO, and we’d be happy to take a look at your furnace and duct system.  

Rising energy bills

If you’ve noticed a large spike in your energy bills, especially during the fall and winter months, your aging furnace may not be able to generate heat as efficiently as it used to. The first step to try is to have us perform a tune-up on your furnace to ensure it’s working optimally. 

However, you may want to consider replacing your older furnace because it could end up costing you more over time. Think about it this way: if you’re spending $100 extra per month during the cooler months, you could spend an extra $1000 if you wait two years to have your furnace replaced. You can see how these extra costs can quickly add up! Especially if you factor in frequent repairs on an older system. 

Your furnace needs repairs more often

If you’ve needed to have your furnace repaired one to two times per season, it’s time to start thinking about a new furnace. Frequent repairs can quickly add up and may meet or exceed the cost of a new furnace—not to mention, you’re also not getting the benefits of a new furnace, like increased energy efficiency or a manufacturer’s warranty. If you’re not sure whether it’s time for a new furnace, our knowledgeable technicians can help you determine how much life is left in it and whether it needs to be replaced. 

Gas or Electric? Which is the Best Furnace for Your Home?

If you’ve already decided it’s time for a new furnace, you might be wondering which type of furnace would be the best choice for your home. We’re happy to give your recommendations based on your heating needs, but here’s an overview of the differences between natural gas and electric furnaces. 

Natural furnaces

  • Generate heat for your home by igniting natural gas in a combustion chamber and then transferring the heat to the air through the heat exchanger
  • Relatively energy-efficient with a minimum efficiency of 78%, but some models offer near 93%-99% efficiency 
  • Many models need little electricity to operate, which means they can be run on a generator during power outages

Electric furnaces – most expensive – heat pump system is more efficient solution

  • Work similar to a toaster; an electric current is run through the heating elements; cold air is then forced through the elements to heat the air before it’s pushed through the air ducts
  • Less efficient than gas, and costlier to run. 
  • There’s no need for a flue pipe to expel combustion gases, so all you need is the furnace and ductwork—which also means it can be installed in more places in your home
  • Since there’s no gas combustion, there’s no risk of a gas or carbon monoxide leak (keep in mind that these are relatively rare in gas furnaces)

Propane (LP) gas furnace

In addition to electric, there are also propane furnaces. These tend to be more expensive than natural gas to run because propane is higher in cost. However, they are less expensive than a straight electric furnace and don’t require additional power to work.

All gas furnaces can easily be converted from propane to natural gas with an inexpensive kit. So, if your neighborhood is getting natural gas installed, and you just splurged on a new furnace for propane…no worries. Call PECO, and we can install the new gas line if necessary and convert your new furnace to the new fuel.

Call PECO Heating & Cooling for All Your Furnace Needs

No one wants to have their furnace fail in the middle of a snowstorm, so if your furnace is on its last legs, it’s best to have it replaced before winter arrives. If it’s between 15 and 20 years old, you run the risk of it failing altogether. Of course, reliable heating isn’t just about comfort; it’s also about costs. Frequent repairs and rising energy bills can add up, so this is something to keep in mind when you’re considering a replacement. A new furnace will be more efficient, and with regular maintenance, it won’t need repairs for many years. You may also be able to qualify for energy rebates! 

If you’re wondering what the best option is for your home, call PECO Heating & Cooling! We offer comprehensive services for all your home heating needs, including planned maintenance, repairs, and installations. With our planned maintenance agreement, you can look forward to having your furnace serviced twice a year, plus an extra 10% discount on any repairs, no after-hours charges, and priority service! We use flat rate book pricing, so you’ll always know exactly what the costs will be—no surprises. From recommendations to repairs, you can count on our experienced team to keep you comfortable year-round. Call PECO today at 864-639-2424 or schedule an appointment online.

Specials and Rebates

How to Prevent Clogged Drains in Your Home

If you’ve ever had a clogged drain in your home, you know they can be inconvenient, expensive, time-consuming—and sometimes smelly. Clogs are common plumbing problems, especially in the warm summer months when many of us tend to take more showers. Although hair going down the drain is a common culprit, clogs can be caused several different things. Fortunately, by understanding what causes clogged drains and learning some simple steps to fix them, you can easily avoid the headache and keep your plumbing system in excellent shape. 

Drain pipe auger with crank handle

Limit What You Put Down the Drain

One of the easiest ways to keep your drains clear is to limit what you put down them. Leftover food and coffee grounds should be composted or thrown in the trash, not the garbage disposal. Liquid grease, like bacon fat, should never go down the drain. Instead, pour used grease into a sealable container and take it to a recycling center, or throw it away. 

Sink drain clogged with hair

As mentioned above, hair is a common clog culprit, especially for bathroom drains. Brushing your hair before showering or bathing will help remove any loose hair that could cause a clog. For even better clog protection, use mesh screens to cover bath or shower drains or a perforated shower drain hair catcher. Likewise, you could replace your shower or tub stopper with one that comes with a built-in screen. If you need to bathe your dog in the bathtub, place a washcloth over the drain, even if you have a shower drain hair catcher. 

When it comes to toilets, there are only three things you should flush: solid waste, liquid waste, and toilet paper. Things like dental floss, cotton swabs, feminine hygiene products, or even so-called “flushable” wipes should always go into the trash. 

7 Ways to Handle Clogs

Even by following these tips, you may still end up with a clog. Here are a few steps you can try before you make a service call:

  1. Check the drain stopper. If you see hair, a buildup of soap scum, or other types of debris, remove the stopper. Give it good cleaning and then reassemble it. 
  2. Use a plunger. Make sure the drain is completely covered by the plunger bell, so it creates a seal. Push in, then pull out; this will help force the water up and down in the pipes. If you’re dealing with a sink clog, run at least 2 inches of water down the drain before trying the plunger. 
  3. Use a plumbing snake. If your drain is still clogged, the next step is to try a plumbing snake (also known as an auger); these have a corkscrew-like tip that allows you to pull blockages out. Push the snake down the drain, and twist as you feel it move around the corners. 
  4. Use a wire coat hanger. If you have a shower clog, a wire coat hanger can help you remove the blockage. Bend the tip of the coat hanger to create a hook, then use a plunger to bring the clog closer to the surface so you can pull it out. If plunging doesn’t help, try the snake.
  5. Use baking soda and vinegar. Pour one cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by one cup of vinegar. Let the solution sit for a few minutes (it should start bubbling) and then pour a kettle of hot (not boiling) water down the drain. Let the mixture sit for a couple of 0hours; if the clog hasn’t cleared, repeat the process. 
  6. Remove the P-trap. The P-trap is the U-shaped drain pipe under your kitchen and bathroom sinks; it’s not easily accessible, so this step should be done as a last resort. Place a bucket under the trap to collect the water, then unfasten the P-trap with a wrench or pair of pliers. Once the P-trap is off, use a straightened wire clothes hanger or a bottle brush to clear out all the debris inside. 
  7. Remove the overflow plate and stopper. For bathtub clogs, remove the overflow plate and stopper from the tub drain. Cover the overflow plate with a damp sponge and plastic to seal it, then plunge the drain. If this doesn’t work, insert the snake through the overflow plate and work it down past the P-trap. 
Plastic drain snake

If you’ve tried the above measures and still have a clog, it’s time to call in the pros!

How to Keep Your Drains Clean and Well-Maintained

A lot of things go down your drains daily, including grease and food particles from washing dishes, hair, soap, and waste. If you don’t clean your drains regularly, the buildup from these things can wreak havoc on your home’s plumbing system! Regular cleaning can increase the lifespan of your drains, improve drainage, reduce clogs and service calls, and even help get rid of unpleasant odors. Here are a few tips for keeping your drains clean and preventing troublesome clogs:

Weekly

  • Clean sink drains. Pull out all drain stoppers and remove any debris you see; if you have stubborn debris, use a bent wire to remove it. Rinse the stoppers before reinserting them. 
  • Flush your bathroom drains. Fill your bathtub with hot water, and then let it drain. If you have a shower stall, run some hot water down the drain at the end of each shower. 

Monthly

  • Deep clean the tub. Remove the overflow plate and raise the pop-up assembly to access the spring or rocker arm. Remove any hair or debris, then rinse the pop-up assembly and replace it. 
  • Use a bacterial drain cleaner. Bacterial or enzyme drain cleaners contain biodegradable and non-corrosive ingredients, so you won’t need to worry about damaging your plumbing. They use bacteria and enzymes to break down complex organic molecules into smaller molecules that can be eaten by the bacteria, so they can help break down any debris that was overlooked or hard to remove. 
Chemical poured down drain to tackle clog

Still Have Plumbing Issues? Contact Your Home Service Heroes at PECO!

Plumbing is arguably one of the most important systems in your home; when it’s not working, it can be a real hassle! However, by being mindful of what you put down the drain and keeping up with some basic maintenance, it’s easy to prevent common issues. If you have a plumbing issue that can’t be resolved with these DIY tips, PECO is always here to help. With an experienced team of plumbing experts and a 24/7 answering service, we’re ready to assist you whenever plumbing issues strike. From maintenance and repairs to installations, you can rely on the home service heroes at PECO. Call us today at (864) 639-2424 or schedule an appointment online.

Specials and Rebates

When Is It Time to Replace Your Water Heater?

Have you been wondering if it’s time to replace your water heater? If you’re like most people, you probably have had the same water heater since you moved into your home. Although water heaters can last many years with routine maintenance and prompt repairs, they aren’t built to last forever. Someday, the water heater will fail, and you’ll need to have it replaced. To help you know when it’s time for a new water heater, we’ve compiled some of the most common signs you should watch for. 

Keep in mind, however, that none of these signs are a definite indication that your water heater needs to be replaced. If you’ve noticed any of these issues, make sure to call us to inspect your unit. Our skilled technicians can tell you if the water heater can be repaired or if it would be more cost-effective to have a new unit installed. 

6 Common Signs Your Water Heater Might Need to Be Replaced

The Age of Your Water Heater

Most water heaters last anywhere between 15-20 years. If your unit is over 20 years old, it’s usually best to have a new system installed—even if the old one is still working properly. Generally, it’s only a matter of time before the water heater fails, so it’s best to be proactive. The good news is that the wide range of newer models are more durable and energy-efficient than your old water heater, so you might even find that you’re saving money on energy bills in the future!

Running Out of Hot Water

Do your showers get lukewarm quicker than they used to? This is a common sign your water heater is on the decline. However, if your family has grown, or you’ve added another bathroom, it may be that your current water heater isn’t adequate for your household’s needs. In this case, it may be time to consider a larger unit. 

Rising Energy Bills

Hot water makes up the majority of residential heating costs. So, if your water heater is beginning to fail, you may notice your energy bills are rising. 

Corrosion

Unless your water heater is extremely old, it shouldn’t have any corrosion. Corrosion can’t be repaired most of the time, so you’ll likely need to have a new unit installed. 

Discolored, Hazy, or Foul-Smelling Water

If the hot water from your tap is hazy, reddish, or smells like rotten eggs, it means that the rust and bacteria aren’t being eliminated by the built-in anode rod. Before you place a service call, though, check to make your water heater is the issue, rather than the actual water supply to your home. You can do this by filling a clear glass with cold water and another one with hot water, then comparing them. If both have murky water, you’re dealing with a water supply issue; if it’s just the hot water, you have a water heater issue. 

Frequent Repairs

Does it seem like your water heater always needs repairs? Keep a record of how often you’re having it repaired throughout the year. A well-functioning water heater shouldn’t need to be repaired more than twice yearly. If you’re having it repaired more frequently than that, installing a new unit will likely be the more cost-effective option. 

Things to Consider if You Need a Replacement

Is your water heater showing any of these signs? Here are a couple of things to consider if you need to replace it:

  • Consider switching to a tankless system. While traditional tank water heaters heat the water continuously, tankless water heaters only heat as much water as needed, when needed. This “heat on demand” feature can reduce energy use significantly (approximately 24-34%) compared to traditional tank water heaters. Tankless units also tend to last longer than tank water heaters. 
  • Consider installing a smaller water heater with a tank booster, so you have enough hot water to fill up a bathtub. Only about 2/3 of a water heater’s capacity is useful water; a tank booster is a cost-effective way to nearly double your usable hot water capacity. 

Water Heater Issues? PECO is Here to Help!

At PECO Heating and Cooling, we want you to get the most out of your water heater. However, when the cost of repairs gets too high, your water heater isn’t adequate for your needs, or it’s causing your energy bills to skyrocket, it may be time to consider having a new unit installed. If you’ve noticed any of the above signs, have one of our technicians take a look. In some cases, we may be able to repair the issue; in others, you may need a replacement. 

Either way, we’ll evaluate the issue and provide you with the most cost-effective options to get your hot water flowing properly again. Need help with a different plumbing issue? Our team also offers drain cleaning, leak repairs, new appliance installations, and more. Schedule an appointment today by calling (864) 639-2424 or send us a message through our online form

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Considering a Vent-Free Fireplace? Here’s What You Should Know

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Is there anything cozier than enjoying a warm, crackling fire on a cold winter day? If you’ve been considering installing a new fireplace or updating an existing one, you’ll find that most fireplaces these days are fueled by gas, which is great news for those who dread cleaning up messy soot and ashes. You’ll also discover that you have an option between a traditional vented fireplace or a “ventless” or vent-free gas fireplace. Although these fireplaces come with many benefits, there are also some downsides. To help you decide whether a vent-free fireplace is right for you, here are the most important things you should know. 

What is a Vent-Free Fireplace?

A vent-free fireplace is essentially what it sounds like: a fireplace that’s designed to burn without the need for a chimney or other types of ventilation. Traditional gas fireplaces, like wood-burning models, use an exhaust flue to remove harmful fumes from the home and bring combustion air into the sealed firebox. In contrast, a vent-free fireplace doesn’t use a flue—instead, it relies on the available oxygen in the room to provide combustion. 

Vent-free gas fireplaces have been around for about 40 years, but as their popularity has grown, they’ve seen more criticism in terms of their impact on indoor air quality. This has led to the state of California banning them completely and numerous municipalities putting restrictions on them. Although they’re permitted in the majority of the US, every county has different codes, so what’s permitted in one city may not apply to the next city over.

The Pros of Vent-Free Fireplaces

One of the biggest benefits of a vent-free fireplace is that they offer better efficiency compared to a vented fireplace. Without the need for a vent, 99% of the heat generated by a ventless fireplace stays inside the room, essentially allowing you to achieve complete combustion and optimal heat retention in your home. Complete combustion refers to achieving the perfect ratio of oxygen to fuel, which produces relatively harmless byproducts like heat, carbon dioxide, water vapor, and nitrogen. And since a venting system isn’t needed, all the heat created from combustion stays inside the home, rather than being directed outdoors. 

Another benefit of vent-free fireplaces is that they’re low-cost and easy to install. Since they don’t require ventilation, you also have more flexibility in where they can be installed. This is particularly convenient for homes with a layout that would make a traditional gas or wood-burning fireplace challenging. Without the need to install or modify venting, there are also fewer materials needed—and of course, you’ll enjoy less mess than a traditional wood-burning fireplace! With their improved energy efficiency and lower installation costs, the savings on overall costs can be substantial over time. Not to mention, ventless fireplaces have a very modern, attractive appearance that adds a touch of sophistication to any room.

Both vent and ventless fireplaces can have an optional blower motor added.  This blower motor circulates the air through concealed chamber and blows it out into the room.  This adds additional heat to your space and when you couple it with a wireless thermostat/remote control this will keep the blower on until the temperature is reached where the remote is located.   This is a great way to control the fireplace flames as well from the comfort of your favorite couch.

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The Cons of Vent-Free Fireplaces

Now, let’s take a look at some of the cons. 

One of the benefits of a vent-free fireplace is complete combustion, but what if there’s an issue with the fireplace that causes incomplete combustion? Incomplete combustion occurs when there’s either too little or too much oxygen in the room’s air. When there’s not enough oxygen, the normal byproduct of combustion (carbon dioxide or CO2) becomes carbon monoxide (CO). If there’s too much oxygen, the byproduct becomes nitrogen oxide (NOx) instead of nitrogen (N).

Carbon monoxide is a very dangerous and highly toxic combustible gas. It’s odorless, colorless, and tasteless, making it undetectable without the use of a carbon monoxide detector. Often, people don’t realize they’ve been exposed until they become ill—and even then, they may mistake the symptoms (like severe headaches, dizziness, fatigue, and nausea) for the flu. Although the effects of carbon monoxide can vary based on the amount of CO, an individual is exposed to and the duration of exposure, it can lead to cell suffocation and death. 

Nitrogen oxide has a similar effect, but it’s not necessarily as dangerous as CO. NOx is an irritant gas that increases inflammation in the respiratory system. Small doses or being exposed for short periods of time can cause mild, temporary problems like coughing, while prolonged or high exposure can cause significant lung damage. Over time, it may lead to decreased lung function, increased risk of respiratory conditions, and increased allergen response. In extreme cases, NOx can also cause death. 

Why Choose an ANSI-Certified Ventless Fireplace?

Both CO and NOx byproducts carry valid and serious concerns, which is why vent-free fireplaces have seen bans and restrictions. However, if you’re considering a ventless fireplace for your home, choosing an ANSI-certified system will reduce the risks. 

An ANSI-certified vent-free fireplace includes an important safety feature: the oxygen depletion sensor (ODS). This sensor acts as a safeguard if the oxygen levels drop below a safe level. It’s designed to shut off the fuel if the oxygen level in the room drops from 20% (normal for room air) to below 18% or less. The reduction in oxygen triggers a thermocouple to close the gas valve, which will starve the the fireplace of gas and make it shut off automatically.  

In addition, all ANSI-certified fireplaces are rigorously tested to ensure they produce exceptionally low levels of these harmful byproducts. While the arguments against vent-free fireplaces are valid, ANSI-certified fireplaces are a safe way to enjoy the many benefits of a ventless system. To keep your system safe and functioning properly, you should also make sure to keep up with the manufacturer’s maintenance recommendations. 

Making the Choice for Your Home

When making the choice for your home, take some time to weigh the pros and cons of a vent-free fireplace. Although ventless systems do have some additional risks associated with them, choosing an ANSI-certified fireplace (and following the manufacturer’s installation and maintenance instructions) will significantly reduce these risks. Keep in mind, also, that even vented systems aren’t entirely without risk! Having a high-quality carbon monoxide detector in your home will also provide additional peace of mind. If you’d like more information on vent-free fireplaces or you’d like to discuss an installation, PECO is happy to help! We want you to feel completely confident you’ve made the right choice for your home. Contact us today at (864) 639-2424 or send us a message through our online form.

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How to Troubleshoot Your Furnace After a Power Outage

Have you ever had the power go out on a cold winter day, only to find that your furnace isn’t working after the power’s been restored? It’s fairly common to need to restart your furnace after an outage, even if the power was out for only a brief period of time. If hitting the reset button doesn’t do the trick, there are a few simple steps you can take to troubleshoot the issue before placing a service call. 

A Note on Safety

If you see standing water in your home, don’t attempt to examine or fix your furnace—or any other electrical problems. This could be a serious safety hazard! It’s also likely that you’ll need to have your furnace replaced. Give us a call, and our technicians will handle the issue. 

Furnaces that are over 20 years old can also be dangerous because they rely on manually controlled pilot lights. Even minor issues with older furnaces can cause dangerous carbon monoxide to build up in your home. Older furnaces can also cause house fires due to issues with the pilot light, gas line leaks, or poor ventilation. If your furnace is between 16-20 years old, don’t attempt to inspect or repair it yourself. 

Steps for Troubleshooting Your Furnace

Here are five steps to take when your furnace refuses to turn on after a power outage. Keep in mind that if the outage was caused by construction in your neighborhood, the gas or power lines may have been damaged. Those will need to be repaired by the utility company before your furnace will work properly. If the outage was caused by a lightning strike, the problem could be a blown fuse, which will need to be professionally repaired.  

  • Check the Control Panel

Check your furnace’s control panel. If it’s flashing an error message, it will need to be repaired. 

  • Check the Furnace Safety Lock

When you reset your furnace, make sure to hit the button only once. If you repeatedly hit the button in quick succession, it will engage the safety lock. The safety lock could also cause your furnace to lock up if you’ve had repeated power outages. 

  • Check Your Thermostat

If your thermostat is off, try turning it on and setting it to heat or the automatic fan setting. If the thermostat is already on, restart it. Make sure you’ve turned the temperature up high enough that it will start the furnace. 

If you have a newer thermostat and the power outage lasted more than five minutes, the thermostat may have automatically reset. If the power was out for a long time, the thermostat may have automatically reset to the factory default. If this is the case, you’ll need to consult your owner’s manual to reprogram it—or give us a call and we’ll handle it! 

  • Check Your Breaker Panel

Power outages can trip breakers, but they’re very easy to reset. All you need to do is turn the breaker off and then turn it back on. If your panel doesn’t have labels, most furnaces use a 15A circuit. Locate the breakers marked 15A and see if any of them are tripped. If you have a heat pump, you’ll need to check both the indoor and outdoor panels to reset the breakers. 

  • Check Your GFI Outlets

If your furnace has been installed over the past 10 years, it may be connected to a GFI outlet, especially if your basement is at risk of water damage. Power outages can cause these outlets to trip, so make sure to examine each one that’s near or attached to the furnace. If you find any that have been tripped, press the reset button on the GFI outlet.

If you’ve completed these steps and your furnace still doesn’t turn on, it’s time to contact the experts at PECO! Our 24/7 answering service is ready to take your calls whenever you need assistance with your HVAC system. Contact us at (864) 639-2424 or send us a message through our online form. 

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Take Advantage of Money-Saving Rebates from Duke Energy

Have you been considering a new HVAC system for your home? If so, there’s still time to take advantage of Duke Energy’s current rebates on SEER systems before they end! Save hundreds of dollars on a new system and improve the comfort of your home. After December 31, the rebates offered will be significantly less, so now is a perfect time to schedule your installation appointment. 

Current Duke Energy Rebates

The following rebate offers are valid now through 1/1/2022:

  • 15 and 16 SEER with ECM – up to $350 back 
  • ≥17 SEER with ECM – up to $450 back 

For rebate applications submitted after 12/31/2021:

Central Air Conditioner

  • SEER 15 and 16 – $100 rebate
  • SEER 17 and higher – $125 rebate

Heat Pumps

  • SEER 15 and 16 – $125 rebate
  • SEER 17 and higher – $250 rebate

Please note that the rebate program for new system installations has changed and rebates are now only available to Duke Energy residential customers in single-family homes, mobile homes, townhouses, or duplexes.  

If your current HVAC system is over 10 years old or isn’t working as efficiently as you like, a new system will help your home stay more comfortable, reduce your energy usage and carbon footprint, and save money on energy costs for years to come. Don’t wait to take advantage of these great savings! Schedule your installation with PECO today. Give us a call at (864) 639-2424 or book your appointment online. 

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Furnace Not Working? Here Are the Top 10 Most Common Reasons for Furnace Failure.

It’s a common theme in life: things often stop working when we need them the most. This is especially true of furnaces in the winter! Once cool weather hits, we receive numerous calls about furnace problems. Fortunately, many of the most common furnace issues are easy to troubleshoot yourself. 

Here’s a list of the top 10 most common reasons for furnace failure:

Your Thermostat is Malfunctioning

One of the first things to check when your furnace stops working is that the thermostat is working properly. First, check that the thermostat is on. Next, check the setting and make sure it’s switched to heat. Even though this seems obvious, many service calls could be avoided by performing this simple check! 

Check the Breaker Box

If the thermostat is working correctly, the next thing to check is if any of the fuses have been blown. If not, check the unit to make sure the power switch is on. Lastly, it’s always a good idea to check that the front panel door on the furnace is latched. Many furnaces won’t engage if the door isn’t shut all the way. Or your furnace may use a simple wall switch to turn on.

Ignition Failure

If you’ve gone through steps 1-2 and it hasn’t solved the issue, check to see if your furnace is failing to ignite. The furnace won’t light if it’s having issues with the pilot light or electrical systems. To check the pilot light, you’ll need to open the burner chamber door and locate the pilot light tube. If the pilot light is working correctly, you should see a small flame. 

Blower Motor

If the blower motor has stopped working, it will prevent the furnace from being able to move the heat it generates throughout your home. To check the blower motor, turn on the furnace and switch the thermostat to “fan only.” Wait for a few minutes and see if you can hear the fan turn on. If you can, the blower motor isn’t the issue. If the fan doesn’t start, it’s time to get your blower motor serviced or replaced. 

Dirty Air Filters

Is it time to change your air filters? Dirty or clogged filters are a very common reason for furnaces to stop working, especially if you have a large family or a lot of pets. Filters help to clean the air that heads into the furnace, as well as the heated air sent from the furnace to the house. Dirty filters reduce the airflow, which can cause heat and pressure to build up within the furnace. The furnace may still run but with less heat output and reduced efficiency. Many newer furnaces can detect this and will often shut down before the filter can cause an issue. 

Blocked Ducts or Vents

Like dirty air filters, a blocked ventilation or duct system can block airflow to and from the furnace. To check whether this is the issue, start by turning on the heat. When the fan beings to blow, check the vents in each room to see if there’s any airflow. If there’s a noticeable lack of air blowing from a specific vent, the duct will probably need to be cleaned. Having your vents cleaned regularly will improve air quality and energy efficiency—and keep your furnace running well!

Air Leaks

If you’ve gone through steps 1-6 and determined everything is working as it should, then you could have an air leak in your system. If this is the case, you may find that your home stays a bit cool because the warm air is heading outside. Or, if there’s a draft, cold air could be coming inside your home. Checking the ventilation areas inside and outside your home can help you determine whether you have an air leak. 

Fuel Supply

All furnaces need fuel, although the type of fuel can vary based on the model. Many furnaces run on natural gas, but there are also electric and gas furnaces. If you have a natural gas furnace, make sure that the lines are working by checking other gas appliances in your home and that the gas valve is turned on. 

Blocked Drainage Hose

High-efficiency furnaces tend to drain a lot of water during the winter. Check your furnace’s drainage hose to see if any sediment or mold is causing a blockage. If you’re able to remove the dirty hose, give it a good flush to help clear the blockage. 

Lack of Maintenance

With our busy lives, it’s easy for routine maintenance to be put on the back burner. Unfortunately, if your furnace isn’t being maintained, it could develop a variety of issues that aren’t as common—or easy to fix—as the ones listed above. One easy way to ensure your HVAC system stays maintained is by taking advantage of our planned maintenance agreement. We’ll come to your home twice a year and perform routine cleaning and maintenance on your system. You also receive a 10% discount on any repairs, no after-hours charges, and priority service!

Need Assistance with Your Furnace? Contact the Experts at PECO!

If troubleshooting doesn’t resolve the problem, or you’re noticing strange smells or noises around your home, don’t hesitate to contact the experts at PECO Heating & Cooling! We’re always happy to help, especially when it comes to your family’s comfort in the winter. Call our 24/7 answering service at (864) 639-2424!