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Professionals rely on advanced thermal imaging cameras to identify problems with plumbing, ductwork, insulation and other systems around the home. Thermal imaging works by converting infrared light into an visible image on a video screen called a thermogram. Temperature differences are easily seen as a range of bright and dark colors. Aim a thermal imager at an old window and cold air leaks become easily visible. By performing a thermal inspection of an entire house you can locate leaking air ducts and attics with insufficient insulation.

The advantages of thermal imaging are not limited to home heating and cooling. Problems with plumbing and electrical systems can also be identified. Water leaks inside walls and ceilings, and clogs inside pipes can be detected through thermal imaging. The cause of overheating electrical systems can also be quickly located by identifying temperature variations in electrical wiring and components.

Inexpensive Thermal Imaging for Homeowners

Until recently the high cost of thermal imaging systems meant they were used almost exclusively by professional contractors. With the rise of smartphones, inexpensive thermal imaging cameras are now in reach of the average homeowner. One example is the Seek CompactXR®, a portable thermal imaging camera that plugs directly into your smartphone. It works by translating thermal energy (infrared light) into a visible image right on your phone. So the next time you're weather sealing your your home tracking down water leaks, or checking for overheating electrical systems, you can take the guesswork out of the equation by using a thermal imaging device to pinpoint the source of the problem.
Many homes have rooms that go unoccupied for long periods of time. Guest rooms, bedrooms and basements make up a large percentage of the air volume in the average home. So it seems like a simple question: if the room is unused, why not close the air registers? The reality is that closing vents can actually waste energy, harm your furnace and air conditioner, while also making occupied rooms less comfortable.

When your central heating and cooling system was installed your HVAC technician carefully measured the volume of air in your entire home, then matched the size of your furnace and air conditioner to provide the best performance. Reducing the air volume by closing vents will not make your AC cool less or the heating system heat less, it will simply send the same amount of air to the open air ducts and vents throughout your home. In addition, during normal operation a home's ductwork will lose 20-30% of the air though leaks. Closing vents will simply cause more conditioned air to leak, wasting energy.

Closing air vents also increases the pressure inside the ductwork, which in turn will make the blower fan work harder to push the air through. The result is an increased risk of the AC evaporator coil freezing or the furnace's heat exchanger overheating.

Of course, closing one or two air vents is not going to cause major issues, but for each vent that is closed the performance of your central heating and cooling system will be diminished.
A lot of homeowners like to save money by tackling home improvement projects themselves. However, there are some projects that are definitely not DIY – including most central heating and air conditioning repairs. For your safety, and to ensure that HVAC equipment is working properly, always have a qualified, licensed professional install and repair air conditioning and heating equipment.

Consider These Facts and Statistics:
  • According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), 15% of consumer-product related electrocutions are related to contact with large appliances. These electrocutions occur most commonly while someone is attempting to service or repair the appliance.
  • In 2006, an estimated 33,500 injuries were reported to hospital emergency rooms as involving air conditioners, fans, humidifiers, dehumidifiers, air purifiers, and heat pumps. The leading types of injuries were laceration (14,890), contusion or abrasion (6,110), and strain or sprain (4,430).
  • In 2006, air conditioning or related equipment was involved in an estimated 7,400 reported U.S. home structure fires, with associated losses of 270 civilian injuries and $200 million indirect property damage.
  • In 2003-2006, the 7,000 reported home structure fires per year involving air conditioning and related equipment included 2,400 per year involving central and room air conditioners specifically and 3,700 per year involving fans.
  • In 1995-2003 (excluding 1999, which was not reported), there were 11.5 electrocution deaths per year involving air conditioners and 4.3 electrocution deaths per year involving fans.
So the next time you need help installing or maintaining your home's air conditioner or furnace, call the pros at Gibson's Heating and Plumbing, we're here to help keep you safe and comfortable.
In some home, as much as 40 percent of the air from the central heating and cooling system does not make it to the rooms it is supposed to reach. The main reason is leaking air ducts, and it's one of the most common reasons that some rooms never feel comfortable even as the furnace or air conditioner seems to run much more than it should. Leaking air ducts waste energy and cost you money. So what can you do?

Your home's ductwork is a maze of joints, curves and creases that provides many places for air to leak out. A professional HVAC technician can find these leaks and offer fixes to improve airflow throughout your home. One option is professional duct sealing. Duct sealing involves measuring the rate of air entering and returning in through the HVAC system, then sealing the ducts form the inside using sprayed on polymers that fill the gaps and stop leaks.

The first step to fixing air duct leaks is to have Gibson's inspect the efficiency of your HVAC system. We can identify any problem areas and recommend solutions to reduce air leaks. Call today to learn more.
Learning Thermostats, or smart thermostats, have been around for a while now, and they keep getting smarter. Here are some of the features you will find that can help keep your home more comfortable while also reducing your energy usage.
  1. Learns your routine. Built-in sensors track activity in the home and use algorithms a custom, auto-adjusting temperature schedule based on those movements in the home. If you turn down the heat before bed, the thermostat learns this routine.
  2. It knows when you're away. Using your smartphone's location and sensors in the home, a learning thermostat can switch to economy mode to save energy.
  3. Tracks energy usage. Knowing your energy usage history can help you better manage your heating and cooling schedule and save on your utility bill.
  4. Early warning of an emergency. If the temperature drops unexpectedly when it's below freezing because your furnace is not working, you will be warned before pipes freeze and your home is damaged.
Upgrading to a learning thermostat is easy, and can make your home more comfortable and energy efficient.

With the increasing popularity of heat pumps in some areas of the U.S., many homeowners are asking if a heat pump is a good option for their home. Here is an overview of how heat pumps differ from traditional gas furnaces.

The main difference between a furnace and a heat pump is that a heat pump can be reversed to either heat or cool a home. A heat pump consists of two parts: an indoor unit called an air handler and an outdoor unit that is similar to a central air conditioner – called a heat pump. A compressor circulates refrigerant that absorbs and releases heat as it travels between the indoor and outdoor units.

Depending on the season a heat pump exchanges the cool air with warm air, or the other way around. Even air that's seems cold can have heat energy. When it's cold outside the heat pump extracts the heat and transfers into the home. When it’s hot outside, it reverses the flow to work like an air conditioner, removing heat from your home.

When considering a heat pump it's important to understand that, unlike a gas furnace which creates heat, a heat pump can only exchange heat, and will be unable to deliver a high level of warm air that is required to heat homes in cold climates like the Chicagoland area.

Have questions about heat pumps? Call Gibson's Heating and Plumbing. We're here to help.
If you're in the market for a new home there are many items you will want to check to ensure there are no hidden surprises. One of the most important is the heating system. By taking some time to ask the current homeowner questions and have the furnace inspected, you can avoid disappointment when the cold weather arrives and it's time to switch on the heat. Here's what you should check.

1. Turn on the furnace and listen for noises. Squeaks and rattles could indicate a mechanical problem, a lack of maintenance, or a furnace that has nearing the end of it's lifespan.

2. Ask the real estate agent or homeowner for the age of the furnace. A gas furnace will usually last around 15-20 years. If it's over 15 years old it could be more expensive to operate and may incur more repairs. A new furnace may be more cost effective.

3. Check the unit's EnergySTAR® rating. Sometimes the label will still be attached to the unit. If not, the unit's serial number can be used to contact the manufacturer and identify its efficiency rating. The annual operating cost is likely to be higher on older furnaces.

Finally, for your peace of mind, it's a good idea to have the home's heating and cooling system inspected by a qualified heating and cooling technician to identify any potential problems that could end up costing you money in repairs or higher utility bills.

Have questions about heating systems? Call Gibson's Heating and Plumbing. We're here to help.
Traditionally, central heating and cooling systems operated at one or two speeds. An important important advancement in home heating and cooling over the 10 years is the introduction of variable speed blower technology. "Variable speed" simply refers to the operation of the blower motor, which operates at different speeds to more accurately control the flow of conditioned air throughout the home.

Variable speed heating and cooling systems offer many advantages

1. Improved Comfort and Air Quality
Regulated airflow provides improved control of temperature, humidity, and air distribution throughout the home. By allowing for continual airflow even when the system is not heating or cooling, air can be circulated and cleaned more effectively.

2. Quieter operation
When a single stage furnace turns on, you'll know it! There is a burst or air that blows out of heat registers at full force. A variable speed motor comes on gradually and operates very quietly.

3. Better Efficiency
Variable speed motors consume about 75 watts of energy per hour, while a conventional blower will consume around 400 watts per hour. This adds up to significant savings over the course of a year.

Have questions about upgrading your home's heating and cooling system? Give Gibson's a call, we can help.
Ductless heating and cooling systems are popular options when you need to heat a home without ductwork or are adding an addition and don't want to deal with the expense or complexity of upgrading an existing central heating and cooling system.

Here are some advantages of mini-split systems over conventional heating and cooling systems.
  1. Cleaner Air - unlike central heating and AC systems, mini-split systems don't have extensive ductwork that can trap dirt and dust, making for cleaner, healthier air.
  2. Greater Efficiency - Mini-splits reduce the heat and energy loss that is common in ducted systems.
  3. Flexible installation - Because the air handler is compact, it can be attached to a wall or suspended from a ceiling, and in most cased requires only a 3-inch hole to the outside. This makes it a great option for three-season porches, manufactured and mobile homes.
  4. Zoned For Comfort - While most forced air systems operate best when utilizing all the air volume in the home, ductless systems can simply be turned to heat or cool rooms that are occupied.
  5. Convenience Features - Most mini-split systems come with features like remote, controls, timers and more.
Have questions about ductless mini-split systems? Call Gibson's Heating and Plumbing, we can help.



Wednesday, 06 January 2016 22:52

Tips For Heating a Cold Basement

Written by
Many homeowners who convert a basement into a living space find it difficult to providing adequate levels of heat. Being the lowest space in the home, basements present a special challenge. When finishing a basement the most common heating option is to utilize the existing central heating unit by expanding the ductwork and ventilation system. It's important to ensure that the heating source is properly sized 

Another option for homeowners looking to provide heating as well as ambiance is to install a gas fireplace. If an existing chimney is available it's a simple installation process. Otherwise, ventless gas fireplaces are another popular option.

Other basement heating options include mini-split systems (also called ductless systems) that require no ductwork. Radiant baseboard heating is another option that is simple to install. Keep in mind that while electric mini-split systems and baseboard heat can be less expensive to install, depending on how large a space you're heating, it can cost significantly more to heat with electric compared to natural gas.

Have questions about heating your basement? Give Gibson's Heating and Plumbing a call, we can help.

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Furnace & Boiler Service, Repairs & Installation

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  • Zoning
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  • Indoor Air Quality
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Check Friendly, uniformed technicians Check We stand by everything we do – NO EXCEPTIONS!
Check We use floor protectors and thouroughly clean the work area  
 Live operators – no answering machines
 Convenient appointments made around your schedule
 Friendly, uniformed technicians
 We use floor protectors and thouroughly clean the work area
 We listen to your needs & talk in non-technical language
 We follow up to make sure you are 100% satisfied
 We stand by everything we do – NO EXCEPTIONS!

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