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Becoming an HVAC Technician: What You Need to Know

HVAC technician photoAny job in the heating and cooling industry is a lucrative career. Becoming an HVAC technician is an ideal career choice for someone with a high school diploma and mechanical aptitude. Salaries are competitive for technicians in North Carolina, and the job market looks positive for the near future. If you are interested in a career with a reputable HVAC company in NC, here’s what you need to know.

Minimum Requirement is a High School Diploma or GED

It is necessary to have completed high school and received a diploma or a GED as a base requirement to consider training to be an HVAC technician. Math, chemistry, physics, shop, and computer classes all contribute to a solid background for learning how to repair and install heating and air conditioning systems.

Start Out as an HVAC Technician’s Assistant to Gain Experience

Before enrolling in a technical school or community college, it is wise to get some on the job experience first. Get a job as an assistant to an HVAC technician in order to see firsthand what the job of a technician truly entails. If you are still interested in training to be a technician after a few months on the job, it’s safe to say you should continue on with your education in the field.

Complete an Associate’s Degree or Certification

Once you’ve worked in the field a while and you are still interested in becoming a technician, enroll in a program at your local community college or technical school. Employers may offer financial assistance or tuition reimbursement for your schooling as long as you continue to work for the same HVAC company after completing your certification. You may even be able to find a paid apprenticeship program that will allow you to work and gain your certification or degree at the same time.

Get Your HVAC Technician License and Keep it Renewed

In order to work as an HVAC technician in North Carolina you are required to be licensed. You will have to pass a test to gain licensure, and it is your responsibility to renew your license periodically as necessary. You may have opportunities to complete training courses through the HVAC company you work for, as they are required to employ licensed technicians.

North Carolina is one of the Best States for HVAC Technicians

There’s always a need for HVAC technicians in North Carolina. With hot summers and chilly winters, it seems there’s always repairs, maintenance, and installation to do. Average salaries are competitive with the cost of living and rival the salaries of people with four year college degrees working in other fields.

If you are interested in becoming an HVAC technician and you wish to work for Alamance Oil or Berico, submit your resume online on the careers page. Whatever step in the process you are currently working toward, you may find just the right opportunity here.

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HVAC Maintenance Tips for Pet Owners

pet ownersMost of us know that air conditioning systems require routine maintenance to operate efficiently. But if you have pets, there are specific maintenance areas that need to be addressed. Whether you have cats, dogs, or other furry friends and regardless of whether they live inside or outside, certain steps and precautions should be taken to keep pets safe and your HVAC system running smoothly.

  1. Change filters often. Pet hair and dander clog up filters, blocking air flow and allowing your system to get dirty inside. Typical households should change air filters every 6 months. Pet owners, especially those with multiple pets or long haired pets, should change filters quarterly or even monthly.
  2. Protect the outdoor unit. If your pets, especially dogs, have free reign in the area that contains your outdoor AC unit, they are likely to use it as a place to lift their leg. Pet urine can cause corrosion and other damage to the unit. Pets may also claw the outdoor unit, causing damage or injuring themselves. Enclose your outdoor unit with fencing or some other barrier that allows for air flow.
  3. Secure electrical cords. Pets like to chew on electrical wires and cords, which is dangerous for them and can cause damage to the wires. Enclose electrical wires in conduits.
  4. Keep pets clean and well groomed. Bathing pets and brushing off excess hair, even having them professionally groomed can reduce the amount of hair that is loose in your home. Less hair laying around means less will end up in your filters and ducts.
  5. Vacuum up pet hair regularly. Keeping pet hair in check with frequent vacuuming reduces the amount of hair and dander that can be sucked in by your intake vents.

Air Conditioning Systems Last Longer and Run More Efficiently with Regular Maintenance

A yearly tune up for your AC offers a range of benefits. A well maintained system will give you many more years of good operation than a system that isn’t. And keeping your AC tuned up means it will run more efficiently, using less energy and keeping your monthly bill lower. You won’t have to worry that your AC will break down in hot weather, because a typical yearly checkup will catch any potential problems like parts that are wearing out or loose.

Pets put an added strain on your air conditioning system because of the hair, dander, and dirt that invade your vents and ducts. But you can combat this with yearly maintenance and by following the tips listed above.

Carolina Fuels offers Comfort and Protection Service Plans that include yearly tune ups for your air conditioning, furnace, and any other HVAC equipment you own. Service plans can also be combined with fuel delivery such as propane, heating oil, and more. Your total home comfort can be managed by just one company. Sign up for a service plan today to keep your HVAC system in the best possible condition. Call (336) 623-9741.

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5 Ways to Reduce Your Home Humidity

As the weather gets hot, the humidity seems to increase. Humidity is the moisture that gives the air a heavy, damp feeling that makes a hot day seem even hotter. Outdoor humidity is perfectly normal, but when you are experiencing a high level of indoor humidity, it can cause moisture-related problems. Mold and mildew growth in walls and carpets that lead to odors, allergies, and even structural damage are the direct result of excess indoor humidity. There are variety of ways to keep indoor moisture in check, including HVAC maintenance tips. Try any or all of these ways to reduce your home humidity.

Reducing the humidity in your home

  1. Use vent fans in kitchens and bathrooms. Most kitchens are equipped with vent fans above the stove top, which can greatly reduce cooking-related humidity. Run your bathroom fan when you take a shower or bath to vent excess humidity that comes from using hot water.
  2. Use a dehumidifier. Dehumidifiers are machines that collect moisture from the air and turn it into water that can be drained or dumped out. Using dehumidifiers in damp areas like basements can prevent damage from too much indoor humidity.
  3. Keep your air conditioner well maintained. Central air conditioning systems as well as window units and portables automatically control humidity when they are working properly. If you start to notice excess humidity all of a sudden (think fogged up windows and moisture collecting on metal surfaces), it likely means your air conditioner is not working properly. It could be a blocked drain pipe or some other issue with your system. Follow basic HVAC maintenance tips and get a tune up to keep your HVAC system running smoothly and properly controlling indoor humidity levels. If you notice humidity after installing a brand new system, it may mean your new air conditioner is not the right size for your home.
  4. Make sure your clothes dryer is properly ventilated. Clothes dryers typically vent to the outdoors. If this is not the case or if your ventilation tube is blocked, the excess indoor humidity could be coming from your laundry room. Check your dryer to make sure it is in good working order and venting as it should.
  5. Seal your basement and/or have a sump pump or French drain installed. If a damp basement is the root of your humidity issues, consider having it professionally sealed to keep out excess moisture from the ground that can seep through concrete walls. French drains and sump pumps remove moisture from your basement by pumping the water up and out.

A Dry Home is a Cooler, More Comfortable Home

Besides the obvious benefits of preventing mold and mildew, keeping humidity levels low in your home will make it feel cooler and more comfortable during the hot weather season. You can even raise the temperature in your home and still feel cool enough when the air is drier, which helps you save energy and keep your power bill lower. Follow the above suggestions and HVAC maintenance tips to keep your home dry and comfortable this summer. And call (336) 226-9371 to schedule AC maintenance with Alamance Oil, Carolina Fuels or Berico.

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6 Signs It’s Time to Upgrade Your Home HVAC System

York HVAC systemsIs your heating and air conditioning system showing signs of old age? Are you beginning to wonder how much longer it’s going to last? Unfortunately HVAC systems don’t last forever, and you may not be prepared for the day your system breaks down. But there are some telltale signs that indicate you should start talking to your trusted HVAC service technician about replacement. It may be time to upgrade if you notice any of the following signs.

  1. Unusual noises. If you hear noises you haven’t heard before coming from your heating and cooling system, it can mean there are serious problems. Vibrations, loose parts, a motor that’s wearing out, and more can cause new noises or just an increase in the amount of noise coming from your system.
  2. Rising energy bill. Does it seem like your electric or gas bill gets higher each month? Are your bills higher this year than they were at the same time last year? These are both signs that your HVAC system is not running efficiently. New systems are significantly more energy efficient than those that are more than 8 to 10 years old.
  3. Unpleasant odors. Strange or unpleasant smells coming from your HVAC unit or your vents? Odors can be caused by a variety of problems, such as mold and mildew growth due to excess moisture inside the unit or refrigerant leaks.
  4. Tripped circuit breaker. If your HVAC system trips the circuit breaker once, it may not be any cause for alarm. But if it happens repeatedly, you may have a system that is showing signs of wear. A small repair may be able to help, but it likely won’t last long and your whole system will soon need to be replaced.
  5. Frequent repairs. Does it seem like you’ve had your HVAC service out for repairs too many times lately? Too many repairs in a short period of time, even small things, are a definite sign that your AC is wearing out.
  6. Uneven indoor temperatures or decreased comfort. Does your home seem less comfortable lately? Are some rooms warmer than others? Uneven heating or cooling is often a sign that your HVAC system isn’t working as efficiently as it should. If you’re lucky, a simple repair could fix the problem, but more than likely a replacement is in your near future.

Upgrading to a New Heating and Cooling System Can Actually Save You Money

The price of a new HVAC system can seem a little overwhelming. No one wants to pay to replace their central air. But after the initial cost, the upgrade in efficiency will save you money on a monthly basis, especially if your current system is eight years old or older. If you notice any of the above signs, call Carolina Fuels for HVAC service immediately. An expert technician will evaluate your current system and give you a recommendation on whether to repair it or replace it. Call now: (336) 623-9741.

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The Best Ways to Air Condition Your Garage

Garage workshopDo you spend a lot of time in your garage either working on cars or another hobby? If so, you may find times when your garage gets so hot that it’s unbearable to spend time there. Air conditioning a garage can be a challenge, but it’s not impossible. Garages typically lack insulation and ventilation and tend to have a lot of open space. Some have windows, some don’t. Some have only one door that opens on one side with the remaining 3 walls closed off. All of these characteristics make garages difficult to keep cool. But you can beat the heat with these cooling options.

Affordable Garage Cooling Options (In order from least expensive to most expensive).

  1. Fans. One way to make your garage feel cooler is to install or use portable fans. Fans don’t cool the air, but they get the air moving, which can make a big difference in a hot, stuffy garage.
  2. Window unit. If you have the luxury of a window in your garage, a window air conditioner can work well. Turn it on whenever you want to be in the garage yourself, otherwise leave it off. Your car doesn’t need AC.
  3. Portable air conditioner. Since you can put it anywhere, a portable air conditioner is ideal for garages and any other space that lack AC. However, since garages lack proper insulation, a portable air conditioner may fail to cool sufficiently. If it seems that your portable AC isn’t keeping you cool, consider adding insulation to your garage.

Purchase Top AC Brands to Keep Your Garage Cool and Comfortable

Carolina Fuels installs air conditioning units from some of the top AC brands and best manufacturers including: Lennox, York, Goodman, Armstrong Air, and Thermopride. Add up the square footage of your garage and be sure to purchase an air conditioner that is designed to cool a big enough space. Pricing is determined by the size of the area the unit can cool. Many portable AC units double as dehumidifiers, which helps your garage feel cooler by drying out the air and making it feel less stuffy.

Most window units are designed to cool small rooms, so they may not be effective for a large garage space. A heavy duty window unit may be better for cooling a larger space. The higher the BTU (British Thermal Unit) rating, the bigger the space that can be cooled by the system. Be sure to purchase one that can handle the total square footage of your garage.

Garages with Finished Rooms Above Can Work with a Central Air Conditioning System

If you have a Mother-in-law suites or a FROG (Finished Room Over Garage), it can work well to install a separate HVAC system for those two spaces. Your garage and the space above can share one set of ductwork and one air conditioning unit. You can maximize energy usage and HVAC equipment by cooling both spaces at the same time.

Contact Carolina Fuels for tips on air conditioning your garage and other spaces. Call (336) 623-9741 to request a quote.

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Top 4 Reasons to Use a Programmable Thermostat

thermostatYou probably don’t give too much thought to your thermostat. You set it to one temperature for the summer, and one temperature for the winter, and don’t look at it much in between. Or perhaps you do think about it a lot, and you are constantly adjusting the temperature based on the time of day or the outside weather. Whichever category you fall into, a programmable thermostat would be a major benefit to your residential heating and air system.

A programmable thermostat allows you to preset your home’s temperature for certain times of the day. You can tell it to adjust the temperature at night when you go to bed and adjust it again right before you get up. You can tell it what to do during a certain date range when you may be gone from home. And some can even connect to your smartphone so that you can program your thermostat remotely. What are the benefits of this device?

  1. Save money. Perhaps the biggest benefit of the programmable thermostat is the money you save. Your energy bill will go down because you are maximizing the energy your HVAC system uses to keep your home at the desired temperature. Changing the temperature at night and when you are out of the home can make a big difference in overall energy use.
  2. Enjoy peace of mind. Once you have programmed your thermostat, you can forget about it. No need to constantly adjust the temperature to suit the time of day. And when you are going to be out of town, your thermostat will know what to do. If you forget to program it before you leave, you can use your smartphone to set it. It’s a stress-free way to manage your home comfort system.
  3. Extend the lifespan of your HVAC system. A programmable thermostat takes some of the stress off of your system. Reducing the amount of time your heating and cooling system runs and the amount of cycling on and off will allow it to last longer. You may get many more good years out of your equipment.
  4. Feel more comfortable. You can expect to feel more comfortable in your home because you can program the temperature to suit the time of day and your plans. At night you may prefer a cooler temperature since you’ll be under the covers, but you may want it to be warmer once you are up. You can program your thermostat to raise the temperature just before you get up so that you don’t have to roll out of bed in the cold. You can also set different zones in your home to be warmer or cooler so that you’re keeping the most used parts of your home at the optimal comfort level.

Maximize Your Residential Heating and Air System with a New Programmable Thermostat

Save money and relax in comfort after you call Berico to install your new programmable thermostat. Your technician will help you to program it to suit your lifestyle and provide you with the knowledge to adjust it as you see fit. It can work with any HVAC system, so contact Berico to schedule your installation today: (336) 273-8663.

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How To Prepare Your HVAC System for Thunderstorms and Hurricanes

Photo of a thunderstormWith the warm weather season comes frequent thunderstorms and even the occasional hurricane. Is your HVAC system ready to handle severe weather? If you’re not sure, there are some steps you can take to make sure your air conditioner is prepared. When a storm catches you off guard, you could find yourself making an emergency call to your heating and cooling company. Don’t get stuck without AC after a storm by following these tips.

  1. Turn off the power to your HVAC system from your circuit breaker box. When you know a storm is coming, no matter how minor, turning off the power to your air conditioner can save the electrical components from a power surge. When lightning strikes anywhere near your home it can cause damage to your electrical appliances. Cutting off the power prevents this. If you have a window unit or portable air conditioner, unplug it from the wall.
  2. Check your backup generator. In case you lose power during a storm, make sure your backup generator is working properly. Once the storm passes you may need backup electricity until the power company can get power restored to your area. If you haven’t used your generator in a long time, it’s possible that it may not be in proper working order.
  3. Cover your outdoor unit. To protect your outdoor unit from damage due to blowing debris, cover it with a tarp or cover of some kind. Make sure the power is off to your HVAC system first. Clear out the area around your AC unit to eliminate as much debris as possible that could blow into your system.
  4. After the storm, check your HVAC system before turning it on. Do not turn on your air conditioner right after the storm passes if you haven’t checked the outdoor unit for damage. You may need to clear out debris that has blown against the unit. If there are any dents or obvious problems, call your heating and cooling company before using your system.

Don’t Get Caught Unprepared. Schedule Maintenance with Your Heating and Cooling Company Before Storm Season

Make sure your HVAC system is prepared for severe weather by scheduling a tune up in early spring. An AC tune up, also known as preventative maintenance, involves inspection, cleaning, and repairing your system. The inspection turns up any potential problems that need to be addressed so that repairs can be done before an emergency occurs. A thorough cleaning helps your HVAC system to run as efficiently as possible. Electrical components are checked to be sure nothing is loose or worn out. Your air conditioning will be ready to weather the storm after a detailed tune up. The best time to schedule maintenance is early spring before the weather gets hot and before technicians get busy responding to emergency AC calls.

Be prepared for severe weather. Schedule maintenance now with Alamance Oil: (336) 226-9371.

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Why is My Air Conditioner Clicking?

Air Conditioners Have you been hearing unusual noises coming from your AC unit? Central air conditioners emit a variety of noises that range from normal to abnormal. Sounds like blowing air, soft whirring, one soft click when your system comes on, are all normal for a properly operating HVAC system. But if you hear a persistent clicking sound coming from your AC, it might be an indication that something isn’t right and professional air conditioner repair may be necessary. Here are some probable causes.

First, Determine Where the Clicking Sound is Coming From

The source of the noise is an important factor in determining the cause. Depending on where the sound is coming from, the problem could be mechanical or electrical, possibly serious or more minor. Locate the source of the sound and consider the possible causes.

  • Outside unit: When the clicking sound comes from the outside unit, it could mean there is a loose part somewhere. It could be a bolt, a wire, a refrigerant tube, or some other part that may just need to be tightened. It’s best to call an HVAC technician to diagnose the problem and repair it.
  • Inside unit: If the clicking sound seems to coming from the inside unit, whether it resides in your attic, basement, or a closet, it is likely the fan that is part of the air handler. An obstruction to the fan blades will cause a clicking sound every time the blades hit the obstruction as they spin. If the clicking starts out slow and gradually gets faster and then persists, you most likely have a fan-related problem. It could also be a bent fan blade causing the clicking sound. Call your AC repair service to find the reason for the clicking and repair it.
  • Electrical system or circuit box: Each time the indoor temperature gets too high and your air conditioner comes on, you may hear a click (and see a slight dimming of the lights) as the AC pulls the voltage it needs to start up. If you hear a click but your AC doesn’t come on, you likely have an electrical problem. Sometimes wires can corrode and get stuck together. Other parts like the capacitor or control board switch could be bad and need to be replaced. If you hear a click in your circuit box it means something has tripped a circuit breaker. If it happens to be your air conditioner, it could indicate a problem, especially if it happens frequently. Never attempt to fix electrical components yourself, always call for professional air conditioner repair.

Calm the Click with Reliable Air Conditioner Repair from Alamance Oil

Anytime you hear unusual sounds coming from your AC, the best thing to do is call Alamance Oil. Trained, experienced technicians will identify the problem and repair it quickly and accurately. Don’t ignore the sound or you could end up with a broken down air conditioner on a hot day. A simple repair done at the right time can save you from having to replace your entire system. Don’t wait, call Alamance Oil today: (336) 226-9371.

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Your Best Options for Cooling a Finished Basement

Whether you are planning to finish your basement or you already have a basement living space that needs air conditioning, you have a few different options. Basements have some unique challenges when it comes to cooling. Before you consider an AC system install, you want to be sure you are making the right choice that will bring optimal comfort to your basement.

Finished basement photo

Basement Cooling Challenges:

  • Dampness/humidity. Basements, being underground, tend to stay damp. Keeping out excess humidity is a constant battle.
  • Windows (or lack thereof). Some basements lack windows entirely. Others have very small windows that are often located up high at ground level.
  • Extra square footage (when finished later). When a basement is finished after the rest of the home it adds additional space that needs to be cooled beyond what was originally there when the current air conditioner was installed. The size of a home’s HVAC system is determined based on the number of square feet to be cooled.

Basement Cooling Solutions:

  • Dehumidifier. Air conditioners naturally manage humidity levels in any space that is being cooled. However, it may still be wise to use a separate dehumidifier to remove even more excess moisture from the air. This ensures that humidity is properly managed and that your AC can run more efficiently. The natural dampness of basements can lead to mold and mildew growth if moisture is not kept in check.
  • Ductless mini-split system. Window units are either difficult or impossible to use in basements. Ductless mini-split air conditioning systems are ideal for cooling a single room and only require a very small hole in the wall for a pipe to connect to an outside unit. They are mounted directly onto the wall and quietly and efficiently cool the room.
  • Add on to your current central air conditioning system. One option is to simply extend your current HVAC system to cool the basement as well. However, this will only work if your current system can handle the additional square footage that your basement will add. If you are unsure about this, the contractor who performs your AC system install can calculate whether or not your existing unit can sufficiently cool the additional space. If not, you may consider replacing your system with a larger one (this may be a wise choice if your current system is already over eight years old). If it is relatively new and does not need replacing, but cannot handle the extra load, the ductless mini-split system is still an option.

Cool Your Basement Efficiently with an AC System Install by a Trusted HVAC Contractor

You can only truly enjoy the additional living space your finished basement offers when it’s cool and comfortable. Let Berico expertly perform your air conditioning installation so that it looks as good as it feels. Whether you add onto your current system or install new equipment, Berico offers affordable, reliable service. Call today for a free estimate: (336) 273-8663.

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Tips for Buying a New AC System for Your Historic Home

It’s easy to fall in love with a historic home. Whether it’s been well maintained or needs to be fully renovated, the allure and enchantment prevail. But old homes come with unique challenges, such as incorporating modern comforts like air conditioning. It is possible to add AC to an historic home without disturbing the architecture or the integrity of the home? There are a few options to choose from when it comes to central AC installation in an older home, and your choice will likely come down to pricing and aesthetics.

Historic Home renovations

Central Air Conditioning: The Cost Effective Option

Pros: Less expensive than more specialized systems, energy efficient, and controls humidity.

Cons: Ductwork takes up space in both rooms and closets and the outdoor unit may distract from the historic look.

Pricing for central air conditioners comes down to efficiency or the SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating. The more efficient the system, the higher the price. A SEER of 16 or higher is considered to be a high-efficiency system, but the ratings go as high as 18-20 for some models. More expensive models also do a better job of controlling humidity, which is important to the preservation of historic homes.

Installing ductwork in an existing home means sacrificing closet space and may require boxing in corners of rooms or lowering ceilings. This may disrupt the authenticity of the historic interior design.

Mini-Duct Air Conditioning: The Space Saving Option

Pros: Small ducts take up less space and are less intrusive to install.

Cons: Strong air flow from vents means less flexibility for furniture arrangement.

Mini-duct systems use 3 inch ducts that can be snaked through walls and floor joints so they are less conspicuous. No need to sacrifice closet space or square footage of rooms.

The small ductwork causes the cool air to come out fast and furious. You wouldn’t want to be sitting or sleeping right next to or under one of these vents. You may have to arrange your furniture accordingly.

Ductless Air Conditioning: The Quiet Option

Pros: Quiet operation, very little construction, and room-by-room cooling.

Cons: Pricier and modern looking.

Ductless systems mount to the wall and only require a small hole through which a pipe can fit to connect the indoor unit to the outdoor unit. Each room to be cooled requires its own indoor unit that can be set to whatever temperature is wanted on a room-by-room basis. No ductwork is required, meaning very little indoor construction. Fans operate quietly, making ductless systems as unobtrusive as possible.

Ductless systems are more expensive than central air conditioning, but the fewer number of rooms that require cooling, the less it will cost. If you can get away with only cooling bedrooms and most frequently used rooms, you can save a lot. The only other downside to ductless systems is that the wall unit looks very modern, which distracts from the historic look of the home and décor.

Trust Your Historic Home to Carolina Fuels

Every decision you make when renovating a historic home matters. Once you make a permanent change it can never be undone. Trust the beauty and integrity of your priceless home to the experts at Berico. Whether you choose central AC installation, a mini-duct system, or a ductless unit, you can count on your HVAC contractor to install it right. Call Berico for a free estimate: (336) 273-8663.