How To Prep Your HVAC System For Hurricane Season

How To Prep Your HVAC System For Hurricane Season

As Houstonians we are very familiar with hurricane season, starting June 1 and ending November 30. Experts are predicting this year to be bigger and more active than it has been in many years, with meteorologists from Colorado State University stating that our chances for tropical impact are more than doubling this season. 

Our normal chance of a tropical storm impacting Houston is 29% and for Galveston is 34%” says CSU. “We are predicting that this year we will have a 45% and 51% chance. For a hurricane impact in Houston, the chance goes from 16% to 25% and for Galveston from 19% to 30%. Finally, our odds in Houston of a major hurricane impact increase from 4% to 7% this year while Galveston goes up from 6% to 9%. The real takeaway is that our odds have jumped considerably to be hit by a storm. And that is really all that matters.” 

Because hurricane season this year is predicted to be active, it’s important to do all you can to protect your home HVAC system. And to make it easier, we have created a list of what to do before, during, and after the storm to keep your HVAC system as safe as possible. 

Before the storm: 

  • Schedule a professional inspection and maintenance: A qualified technician can inspect your system for any potential issues, clean the coils and filters, and ensure everything is operating efficiently.This will help prevent breakdowns during the storm and ensure your system is ready to handle the increased cooling demand after the storm. 
  • Clear debris from around the unit: Remove any leaves, branches, or other debris that could block airflow to the condenser unit.This will help prevent overheating and damage to the system. 
  • Turn off the power to the unit: If you expect the storm to cause power outages, turn off the power to your HVAC system at the breaker box.This will prevent damage to the compressor and other electrical components. 
  • Cover the unit: If possible, cover the outdoor unit with a tarp or plywood to protect it from wind and rain.Make sure the cover is securely fastened and won’t blow away in the wind. 
  • Secure loose objects: Secure any loose objects around the unit, such as patio furniture or grills, to prevent them from becoming projectiles in high winds.

During the storm:

  • Leave the system off: Keep the power to the HVAC system turned off until the storm has passed and it is safe to turn it back on. 
  • Monitor the system: If you are able, monitor the system during the storm to check for any signs of damage, such as leaks or unusual noises.

After the storm: 

  • Inspect the system for damage: Once the storm has passed, carefully inspect your HVAC system for any damage. Look for leaks, loose wiring, or other problems. 
  • Do not turn on the system if it is damaged: If you find any damage, do not turn on the system.Call a qualified technician to repair the damage before restarting the system. 
  • Clean up debris: Remove any debris that may have accumulated around the unit, such as branches or leaves.
  • Turn on the system: Once you are sure the system is undamaged, you can turn it back on.

By following these steps, you can help protect your HVAC system from damage during hurricane season. We have also put together a list of tips that will be helpful to follow: 

  • Use a surge protector: A surge protector can help protect your HVAC system from damage caused by power surges. 
  • Have a backup generator: If you have a backup generator, you can use it to power your HVAC system during a power outage. 
  • Keep important documents in a safe place: Keep copies of your insurance policy, HVAC maintenance records, and contact information for your HVAC technician in a safe place in case you need them after the storm.

Hurricanes are never easy to deal with, but being as prepared as possible will give you peace of mind. And following the advice listed above will put you on the right track to keep your home, family, and HVAC system as safe as possible. But if you do experience damage, call the experts at JW East Mechanical. 



Modular Building HVAC Systems Require A Specialized Technician

Modular Building HVAC Systems Require A Specialized Technician

In Houston, modular buildings are used for a variety of purposes due to their versatility, cost-effectiveness, and quick construction timelines. They can be multi-storied and cover thousands of square feet, making them ideal for temporary education and institutional needs or even church space on Sunday. 

Modular buildings have unique heating and cooling needs compared to traditional structures due to their design, construction, and characteristics. Because these buildings have different air conditioning systems, they require a technician who is licensed and trained in modular HVAC. 

Some aspects that make the heating and cooling requirements of modular buildings distinctive include:

Limited Space: Modular buildings are often built with space-saving considerations in mind, leading to compact layouts that may present challenges for installing traditional HVAC systems. This limitation may require more innovative and flexible heating and cooling solutions to fit within the confined spaces.

Mobility and Flexibility: Modular buildings are designed for easy assembly, disassembly, and relocation. Heating and cooling systems in modular buildings need to be adaptable to frequent moves and reconfigurations, requiring systems that are portable or easy to uninstall and reinstall.

Insulation and Energy Efficiency: Due to the modular construction process, ensuring proper insulation and energy efficiency is crucial in modular buildings. Effective heating and cooling systems need to be able to maintain comfortable indoor temperatures while maximizing energy efficiency to minimize heating or cooling costs.

Multiple Modules: Large modular buildings often consist of multiple modules or sections that are interconnected. This setup can create thermal efficiency challenges, as each module may have different heating and cooling requirements. HVAC systems must be able to address these variations and provide consistent comfort throughout the building.

Ventilation and Air Quality: Proper ventilation and indoor air quality management are essential in modular buildings to ensure a healthy and comfortable indoor environment. Heating and cooling systems must be equipped with adequate ventilation solutions to maintain air circulation and quality, especially in enclosed modular spaces.

Regulatory Compliance: Modular buildings must adhere to building codes and regulations governing HVAC systems. Heating and cooling solutions in modular buildings need to meet specific standards to ensure compliance with local building regulations and ensure occupant safety and comfort.

Scalability and Customization: Modular buildings often serve diverse purposes, from temporary offices to permanent residential units. Heating and cooling systems in modular buildings must be scalable and customizable to accommodate varying usage requirements and occupant preferences.

Because of the differences listed above, servicing an HVAC system in a modular building requires a specialized technician. When you hire an expert as opposed to a residential HVAC technician you can expect the following: 

Specialized Expertise: A modular HVAC expert is trained and experienced in working with these specialized systems, ensuring optimal performance and efficiency.

Custom Solutions: Modular HVAC experts can provide custom solutions tailored to the specific needs of modular buildings or spaces. They understand the intricacies of modular HVAC systems and can design solutions that maximize energy efficiency and comfort.

Efficient Installation: Modular HVAC systems often have different installation requirements compared to traditional systems. A modular HVAC expert knows how to efficiently install these systems in modular buildings, saving time and ensuring proper functioning from the start.

Up-to-Date Knowledge: HVAC technology is constantly evolving, and modular HVAC experts stay current with the latest advancements and best practices in the industry. They can recommend innovative solutions that improve performance and reduce operating costs.

Troubleshooting Skills: Modular HVAC experts have specialized troubleshooting skills to diagnose and resolve issues specific to modular HVAC systems. Their expertise can help prevent downtime and costly repairs in the long run.

Regulatory Compliance: Modular HVAC systems must meet regulatory requirements and standards. A modular HVAC expert is well-versed in these regulations and ensures that your system adheres to all relevant codes and guidelines.

At JW East Mechanical we have extensive air conditioning service, repair, and installation experience with modular buildings across all industries – industrial, commercial, and educational. We understand how these buildings work inside and out, and can quickly diagnose and fix any HVAC problem that might occur. If you are experiencing any HVAC issue in your modular building or have questions about installation, call the experts at JW East!

A Spring HVAC Check Will Save You Money!

A Spring HVAC Check Will Save You Money!

Your home is a system of systems, and we have stressed how important it is to check those systems and their equipment regularly and maintain them throughout the year. During the spring, it’s to ensure our air conditioning system is ready to handle the upcoming heat of summer. We recommend scheduling a spring HVAC check annually to keep your system running smoothly, efficiently, and safely throughout the year.

First, let’s start with why spring HVAC checks are important. 

  • Optimal Performance: Regular maintenance helps ensure that your heating and cooling system operates at peak performance levels. This can lead to better energy efficiency and lower utility bills.


  • Preventive Maintenance: Identifying and addressing potential issues early can prevent costly repairs down the line. Regular maintenance helps catch small problems before they escalate into major breakdowns.


  • Extended Lifespan: Proper maintenance can extend the lifespan of your HVAC system. By keeping the system clean and well-maintained, you can help it last longer and delay the need for replacements.


  • Improved Air Quality: Regular maintenance includes tasks like changing air filters and cleaning components, which can lead to better indoor air quality. This is particularly important for individuals with allergies or respiratory issues.


  • Safety: Ensuring that your heating system is functioning properly is crucial for the safety of your home. Regular maintenance checks can help identify and address any potential safety hazards.


  • Warranty Requirements: Some HVAC manufacturers require regular maintenance as a condition of their warranty. Skipping annual checks could void your warranty, leaving you with potentially expensive repair costs.


What should a spring HVAC check include?

  • Inspecting and Changing Air Filters: Ensure the air filters are clean and replace them if necessary. This helps maintain good air quality and efficient airflow.


  • Inspecting Thermostat: Check the thermostat settings and make sure it’s functioning correctly to maintain comfort and energy efficiency.


  • Checking Refrigerant Levels: Ensuring the refrigerant levels are correct can help your system operate efficiently and prevent larger issues down the line.


  • Inspecting and Cleaning Condenser Coils: Clean condenser coils improve the system’s efficiency by aiding heat transfer.


  • Inspecting Ductwork: Checking for leaks or blockages in the ductwork can help improve indoor air quality and system efficiency.


  • Inspecting Electrical Connections: Tightening connections and checking for faulty wiring can prevent larger electrical issues in the future.


  • Checking System Controls: Testing the starting cycle, operation, and shut-off sequence helps ensure the system is working properly.


  • Inspecting and Cleaning Blower Components: Cleaning the blower components can improve airflow and efficiency.


  • Checking for Any Unusual Noises or Odors: Identifying and addressing any unusual noises or odors can prevent potential breakdowns.

By ensuring that your HVAC system is running in optimal condition, you are not only prolonging the life of your system, but are also saving money. And who doesn’t want that? Be sure and schedule your spring HVAC check with the experts at JW East to make sure your home is summer ready!

A Dehumidifier Will Keep Your Home Comfortable During Houston Rain Season

A Dehumidifier Will Keep Your Home Comfortable During Houston Rain Season

It is hard to believe, but the first day of spring will be here in no time. And as we transition from winter to spring, we should start thinking about what that means for your HVAC system. 

During the spring rain season in Houston, the combination of warm temperatures and increased moisture from the rain can lead to high humidity levels inside houses. When the air outside is humid, it can infiltrate homes, especially if there are any leaks or poor insulation. Additionally, activities such as cooking, showering, and doing laundry can also contribute to indoor humidity. 

What can high humidity levels do to my home?

  • Mold and mildew growth: High humidity can lead to the growth of mold and mildew, particularly in areas prone to moisture buildup such as bathrooms and kitchens. This can lead to health concerns and damage to the structure of the home.
  • Condensation issues: Excessive indoor humidity can result in condensation on windows, walls, and other surfaces. Over time, this can lead to water damage, peeling paint, and even structural issues.
  • Allergen and dust mite problems: Dust mites and other allergens thrive in humid environments. High indoor humidity can cause allergies and respiratory issues for everyone inside the home, especially older adults and children. 
  • Discomfort: High humidity levels can cause feelings of discomfort, stickiness, and a generally harsh indoor environment.
  • Pest problems: Certain pests, such as cockroaches, thrive in humid conditions. Controlling indoor humidity can help deter these pests.

How do I control the humidity inside my home?

A home dehumidifier is a device designed to reduce and maintain the humidity levels in an indoor space. It works by drawing in moist air, removing the excess moisture, and then releasing the air back into the room at a lower humidity level.

There are two main types of home dehumidifiers:

  1. Refrigerative dehumidifiers: These dehumidifiers use refrigeration technology to condense moisture from the air. The moist air passes over cold coils, where the moisture condenses and drips into a collection tank. The drier air is then released back into the room.
  2. Desiccant dehumidifiers: Desiccant dehumidifiers use a drying agent, often silica gel, to absorb moisture from the air. These dehumidifiers are effective in colder temperatures and are generally quieter than refrigerative models.

Home dehumidifiers come in various sizes and capacities to accommodate different room sizes and levels of humidity. They can be portable units that are moved from room to room or whole-house systems that integrate with the home’s HVAC system.

What are the benefits of home dehumidifiers? 

  • Improved comfort: Removing excess moisture from the air can help create a more comfortable indoor environment. High humidity can lead to that sticky, clammy feeling, which can be alleviated with proper dehumidification.
  • Health benefits: Lowering humidity levels can help reduce the growth of mold, mildew, and dust mites. This can help decrease the risk of respiratory illnesses and allergy symptoms.
  • Preservation of the home and contents: Excessive moisture in the air can lead to damage to wood furniture, electronics, and other susceptible materials. Dehumidification can help protect these items from moisture-related issues.
  • Energy efficiency: By reducing humidity levels, you may be able to enhance the efficiency of your air conditioning system. This can lead to energy savings and lower utility costs.
  • Odor control: High humidity levels can contribute to musty odors in the home. Dehumidification helps to control these odors and maintain a fresh indoor environment.

At JW East, we understand that every home is different and every homeowner has unique needs. Our experts will work with you to figure out the best solution for humidity control in your home. Schedule an appointment today!

A Heat Pump Will Lower Your Monthly Bills

A Heat Pump Will Lower Your Monthly Bills

Did you know there is a way to heat or cool your home that will save energy and keep more money in your pocket?

No? Well, let us fill you in!! Heat pumps offer an energy-efficient alternative to furnaces and air conditioners, and should be taken into serious consideration. Energy efficiency is the key to everything. It’s what homeowners want. With heat pumps, electricity is used to move heat from a cool space to a warm space, making the cool space cooler and the warm space warmer. Because they move heat rather than generate heat, heat pumps  provide equivalent space conditioning at as little as one quarter of the cost of operating conventional heating or cooling appliances.

According to the experts, heat pumps are greatly beneficial to houses that have an electrical heating system. When the system calls for heat, the cooling system turns into reverse. The compressor outside now acts as a heater so instead of taking the hot air out of your home, it puts it in by compressing the heat and pushing it back inside.

There are several different types of heat pumps. Certain types work better in certain climates, so finding the right one for you should be the first step. 

Types of Heat Pumps

Air-Source Heat Pump 

An air-source heat pump transfers heat between your house and the outside air using electricity. It is also the most common type of heat pump. If you heat with electricity, a heat pump can reduce the amount of electricity you use by as much as 30% to 40%. High-efficiency heat pumps also dehumidify better than standard central air conditioners, resulting in less energy usage and more cooling comfort in summer months. However, the efficiency of most air-source heat pumps as a heat source drops dramatically at low temperatures, generally making them unsuitable for cold climates, making this kind of heat pump a great option for Houston homes!

Its refrigeration system consists of a compressor and two coils (inside and outside) made of copper tubing which are surrounded by aluminum fins to help with the heat transfer. In heating mode, liquid refrigerant in the outside coils extracts heat from the air and evaporates into a gas. The indoor coils then release heat from the refrigerant as it condenses back into a liquid. A reversing valve, near the compressor, can change the direction of the refrigerant flow for both cooling and defrosting the outdoor coils in winter.

When outdoor temperatures fall below 40°F, a less-efficient panel of electric resistance coils, similar to those in your toaster, kicks in to provide indoor heating. This is why air-source heat pumps aren’t always very efficient for heating in areas with cold winters. Some units now have gas-fired backup furnaces instead of electric resistance coils, allowing them to operate more efficiently.

Geothermal Heat Pump

Geothermal heat pumps have been in use since the late 1940s and work in a unique way. With these, the constant temperature of earth is used as the exchange medium instead of the outside air temperature. According to the Department of Energy, this allows the system to reach fairly high efficiencies of 300% to 600% on the coldest winter nights, compared to 175% to 250% for air-source heat pumps on cool days. This means that if you live in a place where temperature drops significantly, this might be the solution for you and your home. 

Even though different places have different seasonal temperature extremes, the ground still remains at a relatively constant temperature a few feet below the earth’s surface. This ground temperature is warmer than the air above it during the winter and cooler than the air in the summer. The GHP takes advantage of this by exchanging heat with the earth through a ground heat exchanger. As with any heat pump, geothermal and water-source heat pumps are able to heat, cool, and, if it has the right equipment, can also supply the house with hot water. Some models of geothermal systems are available with two-speed compressors and variable fans for more comfort and energy savings. When compared to air-source heat pumps, they are quieter, last longer, need little maintenance, and do not depend on the temperature of the outside air. 

Ductless Mini-Split Heat Pump

Ductless mini-split-system heat pumps make good retrofit add-ons to houses with “non-ducted” heating systems, such as hydronic (hot water heat), radiant panels, and space heaters. They can also be a good choice for room additions where extending or installing distribution ductwork is not feasible, and very efficient new homes that require only a small space conditioning system. 

Like standard air-source heat pumps, mini splits have two main components: an outdoor compressor and an indoor air-handling unit. A conduit, which houses the power cable, refrigerant tubing, suction tubing, and a condensate drain, links the outdoor and indoor units together. Two great advantages of mini splits are their small size and flexibility for heating and cooling individual rooms. With this, only occupied rooms need to be conditioned, which saves energy and of course, money! Also, being ductless means that it avoids the energy losses associated with the ductwork of central forced air systems. According to the DOE, duct losses can account for more than 30% of energy consumption for space conditioning, especially if the ducts are in an unconditioned space such as an attic.

Absorption Heat Pump

Absorption heat pumps are essentially air-source heat pumps driven not by electricity, but by a heat source such as natural gas, propane, solar-heated water, or geothermal heated water. Because natural gas is the most common heat source for absorption heat pumps, they are also referred to as gas-fired heat pumps. There are also absorption (or gas-fired) coolers available that work on the same principle. Unlike some absorption heat pumps, however, these are not reversible and cannot serve as a heat source.

Residential absorption heat pumps use an ammonia-water absorption cycle to provide heating and cooling. As in a standard heat pump, the refrigerant (in this case, ammonia) is condensed in one coil to release its heat; its pressure is then reduced and the refrigerant is evaporated to absorb heat. If the system absorbs heat from the interior of your home, it provides cooling; if it releases heat to the interior of your home, it provides heating.

The difference in absorption heat pumps is that the evaporated ammonia is not pumped up in pressure in a compressor, but is instead absorbed into water. A relatively low-power pump can then pump the solution up to a higher pressure. The next task is to remove the ammonia from the water, and that’s where the heat source comes in. The heat basically boils the ammonia out of the water, starting the cycle over again. Although mainly used in industrial or commercial settings, absorption coolers are now available for large residential homes, and absorption heat pumps are under development. The 5-ton residential cooler systems currently available are only designed for use in homes around 4,000 square feet or more.

Absorption coolers and heat pumps usually only make sense in homes without an electricity source, but they have an added advantage in that they can make use of any heat source, including solar energy, geothermal hot water, or other heat sources. They are also amenable to zoned systems, in which different parts of the house are kept at different temperatures.

How to Maintain Your Heat Pump

Like all heating and cooling systems, proper maintenance is imperative if you want your system to continue to work efficiently. The difference between the energy consumption of a well-maintained heat pump and a severely neglected one ranges from 10% to 25% (yikes!). 

We recommend that you clean or change the filters once a month or simply as needed. Dirty filters, coils, and fans reduce airflow through the system, which then decreases system performance and can damage your system’s compressor. Make sure to also clean outdoor coils whenever they look dirty. It’s also a good idea to occasionally turn off power to the fan and clean it by removing any clutter from around the outdoor unit. 

Whenever handling important systems in your home, maintenance is something that comes with the territory. You should also have a professional, experienced JW East Mechanical technician service your heat pump at least once a year. Once there, the technician will take care of any and all issues. Some things they will do are:

  • Inspect ducts, filters, blower, and indoor coil for dirt and other obstructions
  • Find and seal duct leakage
  • Measure air flow
  • Measure refrigerant charge 
  • Check for refrigerant leaks
  • Inspect electrical terminals, clean and tighten connections, and apply non conductive coating
  • Lubricate motors and inspect belts for tightness and wear
  • Check on the electric control, making sure that heating is locked out when the thermostat calls for cooling (and vice versa)
  • Make sure the thermostat is working properly

With proper maintenance and operation, your heat pump will work efficiently and safely to give you, your family, and guests maximum comfort when in your home. And hey, if you can save energy and money, what else can you ask for?