update your furnace

Use Your Tax Refund to Update Your Furnace

The beginning of spring is when people begin to anticipate better weather. They look forward to turning off their furnace and opening up their windows to breathe in fresh air, but April is also tax season. If you’re anticipating getting a tax refund this year, you might invest that money to improve your air quality and update your furnace. 

Has Your Furnace Been Making Noises? 

Your furnace will not last forever, unfortunately. We’ve been through five months of cold weather, now. Perhaps you’ve noticed that your furnace was struggling to keep up with your family’s demand for warm air. Maybe it made loud noises when it came on or failed to heat all of your house evenly. Now is a good time to have a professional come out to check on it before you turn it off and forget about it until next fall.

If your furnace is relatively new and functioning well, there are additions you can make to it to improve your indoor air quality and comfort during the colder months. All of the air in your house is drawn through your furnace system where it is filtered, mixed, heated, and redirected. It can also be cleaned and humidified as well. Let’s go through some of the furnace options available.

Add an Air Filter

The standard, disposable filter that people typically insert into their furnace will only catch dust and other large particles. It will not filter out fungi, bacteria, or smoke particles. There are several options for adding a more effective filter, the most common being an accordion-style media filter and an electronic air cleaner. For allergy sufferers, the media filter works well, trapping nearly all of the larger (6-micron) particles in the air and the majority of 1-micron particles. This type of filter needs to be replaced annually. 

An electronic air cleaner uses high-voltage/low-amperage wires to negatively ionize all particles passing through the unit. It will trap more of the tiniest particles – 70% of .3-micron particles – which makes it 4-5 times as effective at filtering than a media filter. Instead of replacing a filter, the homeowner will need to wash the unit’s collection plates every month. 

Add a Humidifier

Michigan is a wet, humid state for much of the year, but during the winter most homes need moisture added because the furnace’s constant output dries out the air, our skin, and our lungs. People are more likely to get sick in the winter if their air is too dry or to suffer from problems like asthma, bronchitis, and nosebleeds. Adding a humidifier to your furnace can help to increase comfort and decrease illness. Humid air also feels warmer than dry air, so you can save a bit on heating costs if you update your furnace with a humidifier. 

Add a UV Disinfector

Ultraviolet light units are designed to kill airborne bacteria and mold that grows on air-conditioner evaporator coils. Neither of these are desirable to have in your home, for obvious reasons. Because UV disinfectors destroy mold, bacteria, and allergens, your air will be cleaner and smell better. In terms of maintenance requirements, the replacement light tubes on a UV light unit need to be replaced annually. 

If you find yourself with money to invest this tax season, putting it into your home and increasing your family’s air quality is a very good use for it. If you have questions about furnace options, why not call us at Weinkauf Plumbing & Heating? We would be happy to talk to you about how you can increase your family’s comfort by updating or adding features to your furnace. 


custom furnace installation

Case Study: Custom Furnace Installation in Working Garage

Not all heating and cooling needs are the same. Every space is different and can have its own challenges maintaining a comfortable temperature, especially in Northern Michigan. At Weinkauf Plumbing and Heating, we work with our customers to find them the best solutions for their unique heating and cooling problems. Here is a case study of a custom furnace installation that was designed to function with high efficiency and complement its surroundings in an attractive way. 

The Problem:

This garage space had an older, 80%-efficient heater that was no longer working to the satisfaction of the owner. Because this space is used in the wintertime, it needed to be heated and at a high efficiency to lower heating costs. 

Our Solution: 

One option we presented was to install a 90%-efficient unit heater. The cost of this unit would have been higher than the owner was hoping to pay, however. Instead, we proposed and were able to install a 96%-efficient, two-stage, variable-speed Napoleon furnace which had a lower price point and will be less expensive for the owner to use. We angled the register 45 degrees to enable the exiting heat to bounce off of the garage door. This directs heat to areas of the garage it would otherwise not be able to reach. Then, once cooled, the air returns to the unit to be heated again. 

custom furnace installation

The garage is a space the owner is proud of, and he wanted the new furnace to look attractive and blend in with the ceiling, so in this case we performed custom sheet metal work to fit the register. 

Our installer hung the furnace from the ceiling, out of the way of anyone walking or working in the space, and painted the PVC pipe and the screws and bolts as well to make it look attractive and complement the space. This is not a typical installation, but Weinkauf works with our customers to meet and exceed their expectations for both comfort and aesthetics. 

The owner is very satisfied with the Napoleon furnace and says it operates very quietly and well. 

If you have a heating or cooling need that is specialized, Weinkauf can provide a custom furnace installation or other solution. Call us today. We will be happy to discuss all of your heating and cooling options with you and find a solution that works for you. 


furnace checkup

It’s Time for Your Furnace Checkup

Fall is here, the leaves have turned, and a chill is in the air. For most people in Michigan, this is the point in the year when their furnace starts to make a very important difference in the quality of their lives. How confident are you that your furnace will work consistently for you through the winter? If you have doubts or would like to avoid a furnace breakdown in the middle of a polar vortex, now is the time to get a furnace checkup. You’re going to want to have the peace of mind regular HVAC maintenance can give you this winter season.

What Happens When Your Furnace Fails

It’s easy to take your heating and cooling systems for granted. When they work the way they are supposed to, your home or business is comfortable – a pleasant place to work or relax. When they break down…that’s when you realize how much you depend on them. 

When your furnace fails, the air temperature in your home or business will slowly begin to equalize with the temperature outdoors. If it fails in October, you will be chilly until you can get a professional out to repair it. If it fails in January, you’re going to get very cold, and you may have to find somewhere else to sleep or stay until it’s fixed. The average high temperature in Alpena in Michigan is between 18°F and 26°F. A portable heater or two is not going to keep you and your family warm. 

An even more dangerous possibility with a furnace fail is a carbon monoxide leak. This can result in symptoms such as lethargy, dizziness, headaches, nausea, and vomiting. In the middle of winter, no one has the windows open to let in fresh air, and carbon monoxide poisoning can be a real threat. 

The above reasons are why HVAC professionals recommend having your furnace inspected and maintained every fall. 

Benefits of a Furnace Checkup 

There are many benefits of having your furnace inspected and maintained. First and foremost, there’s the safety aspect. A blocked vent or a cracked heat exchanger can cause a carbon monoxide leak. Prolonged exposure to sub-zero temperature can also cause health problems, particularly for medically fragile people, older people, and young children. 

Secondly, having maintenance performed on your system regularly will save you from more costly repairs. A smaller mechanical issue that goes unfixed can lead to larger, more expensive repairs down the line. Regular maintenance can reduce the risk of furnace breakdown by up to 95%. A furnace is an investment in your own comfort. It’s not a cheap piece of machinery. If you can add to its lifespan by performing annual service, it will save you money overall. 

A furnace that operates efficiently will also lower your utility bills. The more build up your furnace has, the harder it has to work to do its job. In an era of rising energy costs, you want to keep those costs down in any way that you can. Who doesn’t want to save money?

If you neglect your furnace maintenance, you are courting problems. Michigan has long winters, and your furnace is your friend. Take good care of it, and it will perform well and keep you warm and cozy for many years. If you are concerned about how reliable your furnace will be in the coming months, call Weinkauf Plumbing & Heating to schedule a furnace checkup. We will be happy to take care of any of your HVAC needs.