3 Reasons to Hire a Professional Heating Technician

March 19, 2019

The last thing that any homeowner wants is to be stuck without heat in the throes of a bitter winter. Heating systems aren’t something that can be fixed by a DIY enthusiast. Instead, they require trained professionals for both maintenance and repairs. Here are some of the main reasons you need to hire a heating professional.

1. It Can Save You Big Later

Heaters are expensive to replace. Even a surprise heating repair can add up to sizable costs. When you have your heater inspected and serviced by a professional, it can help prevent further problems down the line.

Qualified professionals can anticipate future maintenance issues and can help you diagnose and fix problems before they become either unfixable or prohibitively expensive. In other words, by spending some money now, you can save on expensive services later.

2. Professional Repair Is Safer

Heaters can be hazardous if something goes wrong. At the very minimum, when handled incorrectly, they can become a fire hazard. With that in mind, you don’t want just anyone servicing your heating system. An experienced and professional repair technician will know the various pitfalls that can cause a heater to become a hazard and will perform the service in a manner that makes it safe for future use.

3. It Preserves the Warranty

Manufacturers don’t want just anyone working on their products. There’s a valid reason for that. You don’t want someone who’s not adequately trained to make changes and adjustments to a complex heating unit.

In most cases, unless a professional technician works on the unit, any warranty will be voided by the manufacturer. By trying to save a few dollars by foregoing professional help, you put yourself in a position where you can cost yourself thousands if the unit fails in the future.

If you feel that you may have any issues with your heating system, then you should take action. At Bratcher Heating and A/C, we offer a full range of heating and air services to customers in Peoria, IL, and the surrounding areas. We also assist customers with indoor air quality. Contact us today for more information about our services!

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Techniques to Check Your Home for Air Leaks

March 1, 2019

Your home should be a secure setting that is comfortable in each season of the year. Many homeowners are unaware of air leaks that may be present. These can cause the HVAC system to work harder than necessary to keep the interior setting warm or cold. If you’re ready to seal your home, there are a few techniques and tips for discovering where the leaks are.

Look in the Right Places

Although leaks can be challenging to detect, there are still common places where they are most likely to be. These are the spots where you should begin your inspection. Cracks and holes commonly form on knee walls that support attic rafters. They also appear near plumbing vents, recessed lights, air ducts, plumbing vents, and wiring holes. Use a flashlight to perform a thorough visual inspection. You can have someone stand on the outside of the building at night to find cracks where the flashlight may be shining through the walls. During the test, use blue tape to mark areas that need to be sealed.

Use an Air Leak Detector

Air leak detectors are useful devices that offer a high level of accuracy in finding where leaks are present. Professional smoke pencils produce a fog that will allow you to check for where air may be entering the building.

Light a Candle

Close the doors, windows and chimney flue in your home to seal the house of air that may enter the building. Walk around the perimeter of each room with a candle while placing the flame close to areas where leaks may be present. Keep a close eye on the flame, which will begin to flicker or move horizontally if air is entering the building. To ensure you know the areas that need to be sealed, take note of places where the candle flickers. This will help reduce the demands put on your heating system.

Our technicians are qualified to provide you with tailored solutions to your specific heating and AC needs. Call us at Bratcher Heating and A/C today for more information. We perform heating and cooling installation, maintenance, and repair throughout Bloomington, Normal, Champaign, Urbana, Peoria and Morton.

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What Should You Look for in a Heating Repair Company

February 21, 2019

If your heating system is giving you troubles, you may need heating repairs from a qualified team. Here are some of the things to consider before you hire a heating repair company.

They Must Be Licensed and Experienced

Your HVAC system is one of the most expensive systems in your home. You want to be assured that the company you entrust to replace or repair it has adequate training. Various states require heating repair companies to have proper licensing. Before a technician gets the licensing, he or she must have been in the industry for at least five years and must have a minimal level of bonding and insurance.

Bratcher Heating & A/C has been here for many years and has substantial experience providing heat pump and furnace repair. We also offer free energy consultation and provide diagnostics and maintenance services.

Home Evaluation

A good heating repair company will professionally install a new system. Before this step, however, a good company will also do a thorough evaluation of your home and come up with the best heating solutions for your residence.

Efficiency

Efficiency is a very important quality in a heating company. When you are scouting for an upgrade, you need the most efficient equipment that meets your needs. Your contractor should be able to advise you on the Energy Star-rated models that fit your budget. As stated above, one of our services includes offering free energy consultations, so you can rest assured that you’ll be hiring the right company when you work with us for repairs or installations.

Bratcher Heating & A/C has been in business for many years. This means we have substantial experience in all the services we offer. Over time, this experience has served a wide array of customers. Our goal is simply to make your home energy efficient. Contact us through a phone call or email today if you’re in Peoria, Champaign or the Bloomington area. We will be glad to serve you.

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An Overview of HVAC Systems

February 8, 2019

HVAC systems, also known as central air systems, are found in more than 90 percent of homes across the United States, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Although they’re so popular, few people understand what HVAC systems are or how they work. Here’s an overview of how HVAC systems operate.

What Is an HVAC System?

First off, HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. An HVAC system is composed of one or more HVAC units, ducts to transport air, and filters that take nitty-gritty pieces of debris out of the air.

Most homes have heaters, air conditioners, and fans. If homes don’t have HVAC systems, they most likely have wall-mounted air conditioners or heaters, space heaters, and plug-in fans. HVAC systems are preferred by homeowners because they uniformly distribute heated and cooled air throughout a living space. Although they might be more expensive than their free-standing counterparts, central air systems are both more effective and efficient.

How Does an HVAC System Work?

To explain how an HVAC system works, we should break the explanation into three parts: heating, cooling, and ventilation. Keep in mind that ventilation is present throughout all three of these functions.

Ventilation

HVAC systems use electricity to power large rotary fans. Every HVAC unit has one fan located inside of it. These central air systems are sometimes used to push unconditioned air throughout homes; although, they’re most often utilized in conjunction with heating and cooling functions.

Heating

HVAC units blow air over red-hot elements to heat up cool air. These elements are powered by electricity, which is also true of the parts used in cooling and ventilation.

Cooling

A compressor pushes a specialized liquid known as Freon throughout a cooling element known as an evaporator coil. Freon causes the coil to become cold. After air is blown over the cold coil and pushed throughout the HVAC system, a fan facing outward blows hot air through an exhaust vent to prevent the heated air from going inside.

At Bratcher Heating and A/C in Normal, IL, our technicians know all about the ins and outs of HVAC systems. Get in touch with us if you’re interested in learning about why your home’s central air system isn’t working as well as it should.

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3 Ways to Save on Your Utility Bills

January 26, 2019

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, nearly half the energy you use in your home goes toward heating or cooling. Looking for ways to save money on your heating bills? These three tips could help you cut your monthly utility bills while staying comfortable.

1. Turn Your Thermostat Down Before You Turn In

Experts say that the ideal room temperature for a good night’s sleep is between 60° and 67° Fahrenheit. This is also good news for your wallet in the wintertime, as decreasing your thermostat by ten degrees may be able to help you save as much as 10 percent on your energy costs. It’s a good idea, too, to turn your thermostat down when you’re going off to work or leaving the house for any extended length of time.

2. Weatherize Your Windows

The Department of Energy estimates that as much as 30 percent of a home’s heating energy can literally go out the window if your windows are loose in their frames. The glazing putty that holds your old windows in place grows brittle with age and can shrink away from the glass beneath them. Additionally, wood sashes can actually shrink over time. Even newer aluminum window frames can let in drafts if their gaskets and weather-stripping are worn.

If you don’t want to caulk around your windows, tape clear plastic to the inside of your window frames during the colder months. A heavy-duty sheet of clear plastic will work well, too, as will window shades.

3. Seal Your Air Ducts

That system of air ducts that branches through your walls and ceiling is a vital part of your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system and one of the main culprits when it comes to wasting energy. Examining your air ducts for leaks and sealing and insulating any leaky ducts you find is a reliable way to reduce heat loss.

Let a Qualified Expert Help

The most effective ways to save money on your heating bills is to make sure your furnace or heat pump is getting the maintenance services it needs to keep operating at top efficiency. Contact Bratcher Heating & A/C today to schedule maintenance service for your Peoria heating system.

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Does My Home Need a Humidifier in Winter?

January 6, 2019

Bratcher Heating & A/C serves residential clients in Bloomington and the surrounding areas with all manner of heating solutions. Our services include maintenance, repairs, emergency repairs and installations. Many of our clients have a furnace, boiler or heat pump in their homes but not a humidifier. A common question we receive is whether a humidifier would make a home more comfortable and cost-effective in winter. What follows are a few facts about and benefits of humidifiers.

How a Humidifier Affects a Home in Winter

Humidity is a measure of how much water vapor is in the air. There’s a relationship between temperature and humidity. In a nutshell, the higher the relative humidity, the higher the temperature feels. This is why an 80-degree day can feel much worse when the humidity is high. This works to our benefit with colder temperatures, but humidity is lower in winter because cold air holds less moisture. A humidifier increases that moisture and thus allows your home to feel more comfortable at a lower temperature.

A regulated relative humidity can have a number of other benefits as well, including:

  • Easier breathing
  • Less-effective airborne viruses
  • No static electricity buildups
  • Better wood preservation

Lowered Heating Costs

Since a humidifier lets your family feel comfortable at a lower temperature, you can turn the thermostat down at least several degrees. That means that a humidifier can make a big difference over the course of a winter and, if you choose an efficient model, it can even pay for itself in the long run.

Room Humidifiers vs. Whole-Home Systems

When deciding on a humidifier, you have the choice between room models and whole-home systems. Whole-home solutions require a bigger initial investment but often prove to be more cost-effective over 15 years and beyond. Room models are relatively inexpensive and let you focus your humidification efforts on the rooms that you use most, such as the living room and bedrooms.

Considering a humidifier? Contact Bratcher Heating & A/C today to learn more about how we can help.

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How to Save Money on Heating Bills This Winter

December 19, 2018

When temperatures drop, your heating bill is likely to rise. To keep energy costs at a minimum, taking a few precautionary steps around your home can help. Here are some tips to consider in an attempt to keep the amount you need to pay for your heat as low as possible this winter.

Keep Tabs On Your Thermostat

Invest in a programmable thermostat. This allows for you to select the times you want to turn down your heat, such as when your family is at work or school, saving you money on heating costs as your furnace will not run as frequently during these times. Turn your thermostat down a degree or two lower than your normal heat setting when nighttime arrives and use extra blankets for warmth as well.

Pay Attention To Your Windows

The windows in your home will allow for some heat loss. The type of windows you have installed can make an impact on just how much, however. If your windows are older, single-pane styled, your heating bill will be higher than if you were using thick, double-paned models. Adding shrinkable wrap to panes and covering them with insulated draperies or curtains in cool weather can help keep your heating cost lower.

Get Your Furnace Checked Over

It is important to take the time to contact a heating service to conduct a routine maintenance session on your furnace each year so it works properly when it is needed. Failing to get your furnace checked could lead to a failure of the system at a time you require heat most. In addition, routine maintenance helps to keep your heating source running efficiently, saving you money as a result. Our service technicians are available to clean out your unit, check it for wear, and make part or entire unit replacements if necessary.

The Best Heating & AC Company in Central Illinois

If you live in central Illinois, contact Bratcher Comfort to handle your heating needs this winter. We provide fast and reliable heating repair service to ensure you will remain warm throughout the winter months. Contact us today!

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The Wonderful Invention of Furnaces

December 13, 2018

The furnace is one of the most important home appliance inventions in history. The entire concept of central heating and cooling was started in 1919, and home comfort has never been the same since.

Inventing the Furnace

Alice Parker is credited with being the inventor of the first central heating system. After 1919, homeowners were able to regulate the environment around the entire home at once while heating it with greater efficiency. In 1935, Alice’s work led to even more efficient heating methods – the first electric fan-fueled by coal and the air wall furnace with distributed ductwork.

The Furnace vs. AC Units

If you have ever compared having a furnace to using individual room conditioning units, then you understand the huge difference that a furnace can make. Not only do you get more heating power for your money, but you also get a quicker response and more efficiency. You have lower heating bills and a more comfortable home life.

IAQ

You also get much better air quality when you use a furnace in your home instead of the alternative. The improvement in your life is instant when the air that you breathe is as clean as it can be. You also help to avoid things like allergens and bacteria that would otherwise make their way indoors from the outside. Having a furnace is especially important if you have young children or old people in the house. These people are much more susceptible to lower indoor air quality, and they need all the protection that you can give them.

Upgrading

If you do not currently have a furnace in your home, upgrading to centralized heating does not have to be as expensive as you think. As long as you have the right installation specialists, you can move into the world of furnaces in an inexpensive way.

The Best Heating Company in Central Illinois

For all of your heating needs in and around Peoria, the dedicated experts at Bratcher are here to help. Whether you need installation, maintenance or emergency repair, give Bratcher a call or an email today.

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Heat Pump Vs. Furnace

November 29, 2018

There are lots of different challenges that come with owning a home and families often have trouble deciding which route to take. This is true for families wondering which type of heating system is right for their home. What might work well for one family may not work well for their neighbors across the street. All of these systems come with their pros and cons and it is important for families to understand the basics of how some of these systems works so that they can make the right decision for them and their family. Two of the common types include a furnace and a heat pump. What are some of the important points to keep in mind regarding these two systems?

A Conventional Furnace

A furnace is one of the most common types of heating systems that families might use. There are multiple types of furnaces and two of the most common include a gas furnace and an electric furnace. A gas furnace ignites a gas source to heat the air whereas an electric furnace employs a system of coils to heat the air. After this, the heated air is passed through the vents and into the home.

Heat Pump as an Alternative

An alternative to the furnace is the heat pump. A heat pump is a little bit different in that it doesn’t generate heat but instead it transfers heat from the outside world to inside of the home. This pump can also reverse the direction to cool a home as well. The benefit is that this pump is more efficient, keeping bills low. On the other hand, this pump also cannot generate its own heat. Therefore, in freezing weather, it may not be able to adequately heat a home.

Trust the Trained Professionals at Bratcher

It can be a challenge for families to decide what the right type of heating system is for their home. Options include a home furnace, a heat pump, and even a boiler. Sometimes, these systems can have issues. For families located in the Peoria, IL area, trust the professionals with Bratcher Comfort. Their trained and friendly professionals have been helping families in the greater Peoria area since day 1. Do not hesitate to reach out and ask for help because someone is always available. Call today to learn more!

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How Do Furnaces Work?

November 9, 2018

The importance of keeping a home at the right temperature cannot be overstated. Particularly for families with people with chronic health problems, it is very important to make sure that the home is kept at the right temperature. The development of furnaces and air conditioners for this purpose is one of the most important technological advancements over the past few decades. What started as a simple fireplace has now progressed to an advanced heating system that can spread throughout the entire home. With this in mind, how exactly does a furnace heat a home?

Transmit Hot Air Through the Vent

The most straightforward way of describing how a furnace heats the home is to use describe the movement of hot air. The furnace generates heat in the belly of the furnace. Then, this heat leaves the vents of the furnace and enters the home. As a result, this hot air raises the temperature of the home. Eventually, the temperature of the home reaches a goal and the furnace shuts off. Furthermore, an air conditioning system actually works in a similar manner, just in the opposite direction. Where exactly does this hot air come from? How does the furnace generate this hot air?

Electric or Gas Ignition Heating Source

So, how exactly does a furnace generate heat? It depends on the type of furnace in question. Many furnaces are gas furnaces. This means that they use a gas source to heat the air before expelling it to the external environment. In most situations, this is propane. The propane is ignited and then the air is warmed. In other situations, homes could use electricity to heat the air. In this case, electric coils are used to heat the air as it passes over the coils. Then, the warmed air is transmitted up to the vent and expelled into the home.

Help from the Experienced Professionals

Families with concerns or questions about their furnace should reach out to the trained professionals at Bratcher Comfort. Located conveniently in the Peioria, IL area, their representatives can help with numerous heating and air conditioning issues, ranging from maintenance to repair and replacement. Don’t hesitate to ask for help! Call today to make an appointment! A helping hand is available!

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