Fort Collins Heating & Air Conditioning Blog: Archive for December, 2014

Why Do We Hang Up Mistletoe?

Thursday, December 25th, 2014

Of course, you probably know part of the answer to this question already. You hang up mistletoe so that the people standing underneath can share a romantic holiday kiss! But what you may not realize is that the origin of this longstanding ritual predates many of the other holiday traditions we celebrate today. Why would a plant that has many poisonous varieties (most types sold for use in the home have few negative effects, but you can wrap it in netting to prevent children from consuming any fallen berries or leaves) be used as a symbol of holiday affection?

There are a couple of ways to explain the positive associations of (potentially hazardous) mistletoe. For one, this semi-parasitic plant has long been hailed as a treatment for illnesses and pain. The ancient Greeks and Romans used it to cure cramps, epilepsy, and more. Even today, mistletoe extracts are one of the leading alternative medicines studied for their effectiveness in killing cancer cells. And because the early Celtic Druids saw it as a sign of healing and life, they may be the first to bestow upon the plant its romantic associations, deeming it worthy of treating the infertile.

But it is Norse mythology that is likely responsible for a majority of the modern traditions associated with this small hanging bunch. One of the powerful Norse god Odin’s sons, named Baldur, was said to be invincible due to an oath his mother took to protect him from harm. But Loki, a god who often set out to make trouble for the gods, set out to find the one thing that could do some damage, and eventually discovered that Baldur’s mother Frigg had never included mistletoe in her invincibility oath. When mistletoe was finally responsible for her son’s demise, the grieving Frigg vowed that the plant would never again be used to hurt another living thing, and that she would plant a peaceful kiss upon anyone who walked underneath it.

And that is one of the reasons that, today, kissing under the mistletoe is viewed as a source of good luck. From our family to yours, we wish you a safe holiday season, and we hope that you and your family are full of joy and good fortune—mistletoe or not! Happy holidays from Fort Collins Heating & Air Conditioning!


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3 Common Repairs for Heat Pumps

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

Because heat pumps run year-round, it is likely that at some point your heat pump in Windsor, CO will need repair. This isn’t because your heat pump isn’t a sound device; it’s simply because heat pumps offer both heating and cooling, and as a result, operate twice as much as individual heating and cooling systems. There are some repairs that our Fort Collins Heating & Air Conditioning technicians see more than others, and to give you an idea of what these repairs are, we’ve listed them out below.

Common Heat Pump Repairs

It’s always recommended that your heating system be maintained and repaired by a trained technician, and your heat pump is no different. Here are some of the more common repairs you may see with a heat pump system:

Compressor Issues

The compressor is responsible for compressing the refrigerant in your system. As such, it operates under a great deal of stress. Like your heat pump system, the compressor is made to work with an exact amount of refrigerant. Should the refrigerant level be too low or too high, the compressor can overwork and also overheat. Other common problems that can develop are issues with the capacitors and problems with the motor. The compressor can be complex and may require full replacement, so it’s best to have a professional handle all issues with your compressor.

Stuck Reversing Valve

The reversing valve is the component that allows your heat pump to offer both heating and cooling. The valve slides back and forth in order to change modes, but sometimes it can get stuck and won’t move. A reversing valve can become stuck in a specific mode (heating or cooling) or in between. Sometimes a reversing valve can be repaired, but sometimes it may need to be replaced.

Refrigerant Leaks

As mentioned above, there is a set amount of refrigerant in your system. Refrigerant facilitates the transfer of heat, so having the correct amount in your system is critical to operation. Refrigerant leaks can develop in a number of places, and finding a leak can be challenging. Additionally, refrigerant leaks can only be handled by certified technicians. Refrigerant leaks should be repaired right away as they can cause multiple problems for your system.

If you need heat pump repair in Windsor, CO, call the people you can count on: Fort Collins Heating & Air Conditioning.

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What to Do If Your Heat Pump Struggles During Winter

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

One of the major benefits of a heat pump system is that it provides both heating and cooling for your home. But when the temperature dips below 32 degrees, there can be some concern about an air-source heat pump being able to provide your home with enough heat. What are your options? Consider the installation of a hybrid heating system.

Why Is There Concern with a Heat Pump?

During the winter months, heat pumps absorb the available heat in the surrounding air, concentrate it and disperse it into your living spaces. However, as the air temperature cools, the amount of available heat in the air decreases, especially when the temperature dips below 32 degrees. When there is less available heat in the air, your heat pump may struggle or have to work harder to achieve your set temperature. But with a hybrid heating system, this isn’t a problem.

What Is a Hybrid Heating System?

A hybrid heating system uses a heat pump as its main source of heat, but has a gas furnace back-up for cold days. In a hybrid system, the heat pump is equipped with a sensor that monitors the outside temperature. At a pre-set temperature, which is typically a few degrees above freezing, the heat pump will automatically switch to the gas-furnace back-up. The switch is seamless, and works in conjunction with the dual-fuel thermostat in your home. There is also a pre-set temperature at which the system will switch back to the heat pump, so you don’t have to worry about having to switch the system manually at any stage.

Why Consider a Hybrid Heating System?

  • Keep the benefits of a heat pump – with a hybrid heating system, you keep the benefits of a heat pump, such as heating and cooling and great energy efficiency, without losing needed winter heating.
  • Convenience – the system’s automation allows you to enjoy the heat of your gas furnace or heat pump without needing manual assistance.
  • Never worry about having enough heat – with a hybrid heating system, you won’t have to worry about having enough heat, even on the coldest days of winter.

If a hybrid heating system in Loveland sounds like a good fit for you and your home, contact Fort Collins Heating & Air Conditioning today.

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Heating without Ducts: Boilers vs. Ductless Mini Splits

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

Not too long ago, if your home didn’t have ductwork, you were pretty much limited to heating your home with a boiler. But with the advent of new technology and products, homeowners have multiple choices for heating their homes, whether the homes have ductwork or not. Today we’re going to look at two systems that can heat your home without the benefit of ductwork: boilers and ductless mini splits. Each system has its own benefits, but knowing how each works can help you decide which one will be a better fit for your home.

Ductless Heating

Ductless mini split systems have two main units: the outdoor unit, which contains the compressor and condenser, and the indoor blower. A single outdoor unit can support up to 4 indoor blowers. The indoor blowers are equipped with coils, a fan and a filter, and are connected to the outdoor unit via a conduit drilled into an exterior wall. The conduit holds the condensate drain pipe, a power cord and the refrigerant line. The way a ductless system can both heat and cool your home is by utilizing heat pump technology. Heat pumps are equipped with a component called a reversing valve that can change the directional flow of the refrigerant. This change allows the heat pump to provide both heating and cooling. Heat pumps do not use any fossil fuels and a small amount of electricity, making them very energy efficient.


Boilers heat your home using hot water or steam. The system generates the hot water or steam by combustion. The 2 most commonly-used fuel types with a boiler are natural gas and oil, but propane and solid fuels can also be used. Boilers heat the water in a vessel; when the water reaches the correct temperature, it is pushed through a system of pipes by circulating pumps (steam flows under its own pressure). Boilers can use radiators, baseboard heating or hydronic radiant floor heating to heat your home. Today’s boilers are quite energy efficient and provide very comfortable heating.

Which Is Best for You?

The answer to this question lay in large part with your needs. Working with a trained professional, like the ones at Fort Collins Heating & Air Conditioning, can help ensure you choose a system that is good for you and your home for years to come.

If you are ready to discover what a new heating system can do for your home in Fort Collins, contact us today.

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