Don’t Buy a New Home Without Looking at These Things First

Finding a home is one of the most important decisions that you will make in your lifetime. Not only does buying a home require you to invest a significant amount of time and money into your new space, but where you choose to live will also impact your health and happiness while you live there. For this reason, it is important to consider all aspects of both the home and the location of the home before you decide on a house. Below, we provide a quick checklist to help you during the home buying process so that you don’t forget anything important.

New Home Buyer Checklist

If you are looking to purchase your first home in Woodbridge, VA or you are considering buying a new home, you will want to make sure that this home is the right fit. Use the checklist below to help you consider all aspects of the home and neighborhood before deciding on a new house:

new-home-buyer-checklist

Whether you’re just moving to Woodbridge, VA or you’re just moving to a new home, Fire and Ice HVAC is here to handle all of your heating and cooling system needs. Contact us today, and we can send someone out to inspect the HVAC system in your new home. Or, if you want to upgrade your current home’s system, we can help you find the right air conditioner or heater for your home comfort needs and even provide HVAC installation services.

Controlling Your Home Climate: Top Home Comfort Resources from Fire & Ice

Controlling your home climate is an important part of making (and keeping) your home comfortable for you and your family. But sometimes maintaining home comfort is difficult, especially as the seasons change and your indoor air quality may start to do funny things. Use the resources below to help you keep your Northern Virginia home comfortable throughout the year.

Home Comfort in Northern VA

Each month, our team publishes informative content on home comfort, HVAC, and energy efficiency for homeowners in Northern Virginia. Below are some of our best blog posts on the home comfort topics that matter most:

Air Quality Report: Woodbridge, VA

Indoor air quality is an important part of keeping your family safe and comfortable. In this post, we take a look at how Woodbridge homeowners can determine the air quality of their homes. Then, we provide simple tips that you can use to improve IAQ throughout the year so that you and your family can continue to breathe easy. This is a must-read for anyone with family members who suffer from allergies or asthma.

Why the Temperature in Your Home Matters and What to Consider

Most homeowners aim to keep their home at a comfortable temperature throughout the year. But did you know that the temperature inside your home impacts more than just whether you are hot or cold? Your home’s temperature can also impact humidity levels and the amount of allergens and pollutant in your home. In this post, we talk more about why your home temperature matters and offer you tips for effective temperature control.

Why is it so important to change the HVAC filter often?

Though most homeowners know that it’s important to routinely change their HVAC system filter, many just do not change their filter often enough. If you are wondering if you’re one of these people, then this blog post is a must-read for you! In this article, we discuss how dirty HVAC filters can impact your indoor air quality and dive a little deeper into the HVAC air filters that Northern Virginia homeowners can choose from.

All About Bryant Housewise Thermostats

It can be hard to get comfortable if you don’t have adequate control over your temperature and other factors of your home environment. Bryant Housewise thermostats help you gain better control over your home environment so that you and your family can stay comfortable year-round. This post offers important details about these smart thermostats and how they benefit homeowners.

Controlling Dry Air in Your Home

When the seasons change and winter finally arrives, the air can start to get drier outside and in our homes. Unfortunately, this dry air can start to impact our health. That’s why it’s important for homeowners to arm themselves with the tools and tips they need to control dry air in their homes. This article talks about how dry air can impact your health as well as offers tips for humidifying your whole home.

Want to read more great content like this? Make sure to check out our blog each month for new content, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up-to-date with the latest from Fire and Ice HVAC.

Read This Before You Try an HVAC Hack

There are a lot of videos out there explaining how to do “simple” DIY hacks to your home’s HVAC system, including how-to fix furnaces and air conditioning units. However, you may want to hold off on any home improvement projects and read this first.

Why HVAC Hacks Might Not Be Worth It

There are several reasons why you should avoid trying an HVAC hack, and these three are probably the most important:

You could break what you’re trying to fix.

This is very significant reason to avoid DIY HVAC hacks. You may go into a project thinking you’ll save a couple hundred dollars, only to realize that your handiwork has cost you thousands. If you are not a trained HVAC repair professional, we recommend staying away from fixes that go beyond changing your air filter. You could cause damage to your HVAC system inadvertently, or worse: break the entire unit. The cost of a full HVAC system replacement is just not worth the small amount of savings that the DIY promises.

Also, it’s important to keep in mind that all HVAC units aren’t the same. Many videos online explain how to repair a specific type of unit. Variations in brands, year made, and unit sizes mean there are a plethora of HVAC systems out there and they all require their own unique repair and maintenance. Instead of leaving it to chance, leave it to a pro.

It’s dangerous.

You know how your HVAC system is powered by high voltage electricity? Yep, you don’t want to mess with that. Electrical safety is really important: switches, fixed wiring, outlets, and receptacles are responsible for approximately half of all fires caused by electrical equipment—and the cause of most fire related deaths and injuries in the United States.

Unless you’re very well experienced with electricity, you should steer clear of messing with any appliances that require high voltage electricity. Even if your unit is unplugged, a charge can remain in the unit’s capacitor, which could cause quite a shock. When working with high voltage electricity, one wrong decision or accidental move could cause serious injury or death… and that’s simply not worth the small savings of DIY.

You’re probably not equipped for the task.

Not only do HVAC professionals have appropriate training and experience fixing HVAC systems, they also have the proper tools. This is a pretty noteworthy thing to keep in mind if you’re considering taking on an HVAC hack of your own. For proper HVAC diagnostics and repair, you’ll need several specific types of tools and gauges. These types of tools can be quite pricey, and may cost more than a simple service call would. Unless you plan to go into HVAC repair yourself, purchasing these tools may not be the wisest investment. Instead, save yourself the trouble and opt for a professional when your HVAC system needs repair.

As a homeowner, you know that HVAC systems don’t come cheap. So, protect your investment, and call in a professional when your system needs repair. We’re here to help! Call us at 703-496-5527

Take Advantage of Bryant Factory Rebates this Fall

Have you been thinking about replacing your HVAC system? Now that fall has arrived, there is no better time to upgrade or replace your HVAC system then now. Fire and Ice HVAC, Inc. has a variety of quality heating and cooling systems available from Bryant. What’s more is that if you act now, you can take advantage of significant savings in the form of factory rebates.

Why Fall is the Best Season for HVAC Replacement

Though the weather is more moderate, and your HVAC unit may be the last thing on your mind, fall really is the ideal time to explore your options for upgrades and get a new system installed. Here are just a few reasons why fall is the best season for HVAC replacement:

  • You have more time to research your options. Many people don’t replace their HVAC system until they experience a major breakdown. Unfortunately, this can often occur during a time of the year when it is too hot or too cold to go long without a working heating and cooling system. If you replace your HVAC unit in the fall, then you have time to research and explore your options without having to make a rush decision in the moment.
  • HVAC companies can offer more convenient scheduling. Fall is a slower season for HVAC companies because they are not experiencing as many emergency calls. This means that they often have a more flexible schedule for consultations and new system installs. Not to mention, if you have your new system installed in the fall, you won’t have to worry about having to endure uncomfortable temperatures during the installation process.
  • There is the opportunity to save more in the new year. Many homeowners are looking for ways to save more money each year. By replacing your HVAC system this fall with a more energy-efficient model, your home can work toward saving more money on energy bills throughout the new year.

Bryant Factory Rebate Promotion Ends November 15

Have you been thinking about purchasing a new Bryant heating and cooling system? If so, now is the time to contact Fire and Ice to find out more about your upgrade options. Today, you can qualify for up to $1,450 in Bryant factory rebates when you purchase a qualifying Bryant home comfort system or HVAC equipment. However, this offer ends soon, so the sooner you contact us, the sooner we can help you find the right home comfort system for you at a significant discount.

If you want to take advantage of these Bryant Factory rebates, you’ll need to act fast! The deadline for this promotion is November 15, 2016. Contact us now to speak with an HVAC expert about what units would be the best fit for your home and comfort needs. We would also be happy to answer any other questions about fall HVAC maintenance or ways that you can improve efficiency and enhance home comfort.

DIY Is Great for Crafts, But Not Your HVAC System

Some DIY projects are perfectly handled by homeowners with various levels of experience, but repairs are best left to professionals. Repairs to air conditioners and furnaces are some projects best left to the experts. Attempting to fix problems with such complicated equipment may result in further expensive damages to the machinery

Benefits of Hiring a Professional for Furnace Repairs

While furnaces are not as complicated as air conditioning units, they are more dangerous. Leaving the repair of these pieces of HVAC equipment to professionals is highly recommended because:

  • Repairs will take less time. A broken furnace in the middle of winter can be a serious hazard. Fixing a furnace should be done as quickly as possible, and an expert technician can finish repairs much more efficiently than a DIY homeowner.
  • The HVAC system will be better protected. If a homeowner makes a simple mistake while trying to fix his or her furnace, it may end up being damaged beyond what any repairs can fix. Repair attempts made by a homeowner will also normally void any warranty on the furnace, whereas repairs by a technician will not.
  • Your home will be safer. A furnace is one device in your home which puts out carbon monoxide: an odorless, colorless, potentially dangerous gas. When properly maintained by a professional, furnaces only emit low levels of this gas and most of that is properly vented outside the home, keeping the people inside safe. If homeowners make improper changes to the furnace, however, they may result in a buildup of the dangerous gas that can cause numerous health issues and even death.

Why Homeowners Should Trust Air Conditioner Repair to a Technician

While air conditioners are not as hazardous to work on, they can still be dangerous to repair and are very complicated. Homeowners can tackle some aspects of A/C maintenance, such as replacing air filters, but other tasks need to be left to HVAC professionals. Benefits of leaving A/C repairs and complicated maintenance tasks to technicians include:

  • Access to the best equipment. If a part is broken in an air conditioner, technicians have access to a wider range of replacement parts and will know better which part is a proper choice for the system.
  • More thorough diagnoses. A technician can not only solve one problem in an air conditioning unit but can also find others. Their diagnosis will consist of things a homeowner might not think of or is unable to do, such as checking the charge on the refrigerants.
  • Increased safety of repairs. One of the most common injuries related to A/C units is electrical shock. A professional will know better how to keep themselves safe from this and other dangers than a homeowner.

Although homeowners can easily do some DIY projects involving HVAC systems, there are problems that require a professional’s skills and should never be attempted by anyone else. For the safety of themselves and their families, homeowners should call a technician to repair their furnace or A/C unit.

If you are experiencing issues with your HVAC system or need to schedule routine maintenance, you can trust the HVAC experts at Fire and Ice to help keep your system running smoothly and efficiently. Contact us today for more information.

Air Quality Report: Woodbridge, VA

Quality indoor air is something that you simply cannot live without. This means that the air around you is extremely important to your daily life. You may think that the air in your home is the cleanest and healthiest that you encounter on a daily basis, but studies have actually indicated that the opposite may be true. In fact, the average home suffers from air pollution that is 3 to 5 times worse than the air outside.

You often hear the term air pollution used in conjunction with another term. “Indoor air quality” is a concept that is often discussed, but rarely truly explained. What exactly is indoor air quality and why should it matter to you? It is important to understand this in order to take the proper steps in maintaining it, including utilizing the services of an air duct cleaning company.

Air Quality Report – Woodbridge, VA

When determining the air quality of your home, you will need to evaluate your air on several qualities. This includes:

  • How well the air is ventilated and how well this ventilated air is distributed throughout the home
  • Well controlled levels of airborne contaminants and particles
  • Acceptable temperature
  • Acceptable level of relative humidity

Essentially, indoor air quality refers to the comfort, cleanliness and health of the air in a particular space such as a home or office. Poor air quality can have many negative consequences, such as

  1. Eye irritation
  2. Frequent headaches
  3. Chronic cough
  4. Increased allergy symptoms
  5. Frequent respiratory infections
  6. Worsened asthma symptoms
  7. Dust buildup on the surfaces of the home
  8. Difficulty concentrating
  9. Irritability
  10. Discomfort
  11. Difficulty sleeping

How to Improve Indoor Air Quality

Though a tremendous amount of focus has been placed on controlling the pollution outside of the home, indoor air quality has gained attention in recent years as experts realize that the contaminants and debris present in homes that lead to poor air quality actually make the home a less healthy space than the outdoors.

Air duct cleaning services can remove the contamination and debris from your heating and cooling unit and air duct system in order to produce cleaner, healthier air and a more efficient temperature and humidity control system. This can dramatically improve your indoor air quality, therefore easing the negative symptoms associated with high indoor air pollution. Thorough duct cleaning services ensure that the air your family is breathing contains far fewer contaminants and particles, making it healthier and more comfortable so you can enjoy your home more.

Fortunately, there are an increasing number of steps and actions one can take to mitigate the effects of bad IAQ. Foremost, limiting water intrusion into one’s home is a paramount step to prevent feeding mold. Only as recently as the 1980s have builders learned how to keep moisture out of a home. This leaves an unfortunately large number of older homes susceptible to water intrusion and mold problems. Fortunately, there a number of products now available to kill and to prevent mold. AfterShock is the first EPA registered mold-resistant coating. Designed for interior walls and surfaces, Aftershock kills any existing mold and creates a barrier keeping mold off of applied surfaces.

Mold management alone isn’t enough, however. Equally important as keeping water and mold away from living spaces is to source your air from places unlikely to be affected by poor IAQ. Many older buildings take their air from unsealed crawl spaces or basements, where mold, bacteria, and a host of other pollutants may reside. The EPA estimates that people generally spend some 90% of their time indoors; a factor that combined with poor IAQ may account for many of the 17 million Americans with asthma.

Along with respiratory problems, chemical sensitivities are being increasingly reported. Some forward-thinking builders are beginning to shy away from products containing formaldehyde-based resins, in favor of non-toxic materials. Modern homes breathe, and many people that have switched to non-toxic building materials have experienced fewer illnesses; particularly among those with chemical sensitivities.

At Fire and Ice, we have the integrity to give our local Woodbridge HVAC customers the help they need to make an informed decision to improve the Indoor Air Quality of their homes. For an HVAC system Woodbridge locals can trust to support their air quality needs, contact Fire and Ice today.

The Questions Homeowners ALWAYS Ask Our HVAC Technicians (with Answers!)

The seasons are changing once again, and it is time to consider calling your friendly HVAC technician to perform annual maintenance on your HVAC unit. While you always need to be sure to contact a qualified HVAC tech to perform even routine maintenance, there are some the questions homeowners always ask our HVAC technicians that we can answer for you ahead of time.

Common HVAC Questions Answered

Here are some of the most common HVAC questions our technicians get throughout the year:

How often should I schedule routine maintenance for my HVAC system?

At least once a year. Don’t wait until your unit is breaking down to call a qualified specialist, instead keep up a standard maintenance routine for the life of your unit. It will extend the life of the unit, keeping it more energy efficient than a unit that goes without.

How important is it that I get the right size unit for my home?

The answer here is very important. If you don’t get the right size your unit may end up being left over capacity and it will not be as energy efficient as it would be if it were the right size.

What size unit would be the best for my home?

There is not a set answer for this question. It is instead going to be determined by the size of your home, the flow of the interior design as well as the construction style. To make sure you have the right size HVAC unit, call a qualified HVAC technician.

How often should I change my air filters?

Whether you have disposable filters or reusable filters, it is important that you change them or clean them at least once a month. The allergy sufferers in your home will thank you for the routine cleaning as dust and other particles will build up in the filters. A good rule of thumb is if you check the filters and they look dirty, it is time to clean or replace them.

Why is it important that I change the filters frequently?

By keeping clean filters in your HVAC unit, you are helping your air conditioner or heater run at its peak operating performance. It assures your unit has the best air flow and improves the indoor air quality as a whole.

What maintenance can I do myself other than changing the filters?

Make sure the ground the unit remains free of debris. When landscaping, be mindful of any debris near the unit and make sure to clean it properly. If the grass and dirt are clog the outside of the system, it will affect the air flow to the unit causing it to have to work harder to heat or cool your home.

To get the most out of your heating and air conditioning unit, it is important to schedule routine maintenance, while keeping your unit clean. If you need a tune-up or other HVAC service, don’t hesitate to give us a call today. We can answer all of your HVAC questions.

Why the Temperature in Your Home Matters and What to Consider

Sometimes it can be hard to find the perfect temperature. But when you do finally get your home to the optimal temperature, it is easier to relax and enjoy yourself. Not to mention, it is much easier to get a better night’s sleep. Though you may not think about it often, the temperature in your home is important to helping you and your family stay comfortable.

How to Achieve Home Comfort

The temperature of your home can impact indoor air quality, which not only affects your home comfort, but can also contribute to a number of health factors. Here are some factors that impact your home comfort:

Allergens & Pollutants

When people leave and re-enter your home, they bring with them contaminants from outside. The three primary culprits impacting your indoor air quality are:

  • Particles – made up of dust, soil, pet dander, and allergens
  • Mold, Mildew, and Germs – Mold and mildew thrive in moist climates, and they can be harmful to your health when inhaled.
  • Vapors and Odors – The chemicals that you use to clean your home can also impact air quality, triggering allergies and other respiratory issues.

Humidity

The relative humidity present in your room has an inevitable effect on your home comfort. Just as temperature influences your comfort and rest, dampness can also have a significant impact on your health and happiness. Dampness can influence the “felt temperature” by as much as 8 degrees, regardless of the fact that the real temperature doesn’t change. The direct implication of this is that in case if you are in a cool room where the moisture isn’t properly controlled, you’ll feel more warmth than if you were in a room with drier air that was a couple of degrees hotter.

As mentioned before, mold and mildew also thrive in moist areas. Humidity increases moisture levels in your home, inviting these pollutants in. Mold and mildew can trigger serious allergy symptoms or asthma attacks, and they can even cause respiratory issues in those who normally breathe easy.

Temperature Management Tips

If you have a hard time finding the perfect home temperature, use these tips to create a more comfortable environment for you and your family:

  • One of the best ways to cool your home evenly is to utilize the ventilation system sensibly to ensure that there is airflow to all rooms.
  • Keep the thermostat at a sensible setting and ensure your entryways and windows are free of any obstructions.
  • Control the heat coming in through windows by using blinds, curtains, and other drapery.
  • Utilize a programmable thermostat to raise the temperature a couple of degrees when you are away to save energy, and then lower the temperature before you return home so that you are comfortable.

It is important to pay attention to home temperature and indoor air quality in order to provide a happy, healthy, and comfortable environment for you and your family. If you have trouble getting comfortable, give us a call today to discover some HVAC options that can improve your home comfort.

What’s Events Are In Northern Virginia This 4th Of July

Celebrate at the National Archives

This is where the Declaration of Independence is on display at. What better way to celebrate the birth of American than by doing so at the place where the birth of America is on display? Afterwards, head over to one of the nearby parks to catch the fireworks.

National Archives

Official National Independence Day Parade

Head on down to Constitution Avenue to catch the national parade. Expect quite a show and VIPs as this is the official parade of America. The parade starts at 11:45 and takes place between 7th and 17th Streets on Constitution Avenue.

Official National Independence Day Parade

A Capitol 4th

Find a seat on the West Lawn of the US Capitol and experience A Capitol Fourth. The concert is known for it’s number of musical acts and performance of the 1812 Overture during the Grand Finale of the fireworks launched from over the Capitol Mall. Gates open at 3 pm, though you’ll want to arrive early.

A Capitol 4th

Fireworks with a Gourmet Meal by the River

The riverfront is home to several excellent restaurants with tables that provide a commanding view of the harbor, and the fireworks show. You’ll want to make reservations early because tables are sure to fill up.

Fireworks with a Gourmet Meal

Cool Off at Georgetown Waterfront Park

The park, which is operated by the National Park Service, features a large number of water features, and shady labyrinths to beat the heat with. After a day of splashing and keeping cool, grab a spot on the stadium-style steps for excellent views of the fireworks that are hard to beat.

Party All Night at the National Air & Space Museum

This weekend the National Air & Space Museum is reopening its permanent exhibit, Boeing Milestones of Flight. On Friday evening, the museum will remain open from 8 pm to 8 am, giving you an opportunity to experience the museum that’s not likely to happen again.

Party All Night

Ring in the 4th of July at Mt. Vernon

Celebrate this Independence Day at the historic home of George Washington. Listen to Revolution War-era music and enjoy colonial-style ice cream. Then stick around for a special daytime fireworks show.

Ring in the 4th

Whatever your plans are this weekend, please be safe and enjoy the memories you have with your family. Happy Birthday America!

Hybrid Heating Systems: What are they?

When designing a home heating system there are several options to chose from for providing that heat. There is the heat pump, furnace, boiler, solar, or even geothermal. But depending on where you live, both for availability to operate those systems efficiently, and for the climate, will have an effect on what system or systems you should choose.

One of the newest ways to heat your home is through a hybrid system. A hybrid heating system combines the high-power heating of a furnace with the efficient operation of a heat pump.

Furnaces

The furnace is a heating appliance that uses natural gas or propane to heat air that is blown throughout the home via a fan within the furnace. Gas furnaces are fairly inexpensive to purchase and install but are prone to fluctuating costs of operation due to the nature of the markets for the fuel that powers it. They provide powerful heating even when the outside air temperature is very low.

Heat Pump

The heat pump is the machine that people often think of then they hear the term “AC unit”. When the refrigerant flows in one direction it provides cooling to the home. Through the use of a reversing valve, the refrigerant will flow the other way through the system and provide heating for the home. The heat pump offers efficient heating for the home and will offer four to five times the efficiency over an electric-only heating system. However they do not function well when the outside air temperature is forty degrees or less.

Hybrid Heating Systems

The hybrid heating system combines both the furnace and the heat pump for efficient heating across a wide variety of conditions. When the outside temperature is very low the furnace can take over heating duties and warm even the coldest of winter air. In milder weather the heat pump can provide the heating needed without blasting high temperature air through the ductwork causing uncomfortable, rapid fluctuations in temperature.

Properly setup, the hybrid system can pay for itself through saving on natural gas or propane within a timeframe of about three to five years.

Not every home will benefit from a hybrid system however. Each home has unique needs depending on its layout, available utilities, and climate it is located in. If you would like to find out what system is best for you, call us today and one of our trained professionals at Fire & Ice HVAC would be glad to assist you!