Why You Can’t Ignore Late Summer Air Conditioner Problems

Summer is winding down. Within another week or two, the kids will be back at school. Autumn is right around the corner. This means we have just a few more weeks of heat before temperatures begin to cool and the leaves change colors. It also means that some of you, whether you admit to it or not, are ignoring some type of problem with your home’s air conditioning system. There’s a strange noise coming from the unit. Some rooms aren’t cooling as well as others. Something just isn’t right and you know it.

You also know you’re putting it off. You’re justifying it for one reason or another. Perhaps money is tight. Or you might just be thinking to yourself, “Why schedule an AC repair now when I’m just 2 to 3 months away from possibly having to turn the furnace on?”

Well, there are a few reasons you shouldn’t shrug off an air conditioner problem this time of year – here are several.

The Hot Weather Isn’t Over Yet

Pittsburgh weather isn’t predictable. A stretch of July or August-like hot temperatures in September or October isn’t out of the realm of possibility. Needless to say, if your air conditioner isn’t optimally performing, there’s a very good chance it’ll fail you when you need it the most. Why take that chance? At the very least, if you suspect a problem, rather than cover up the unit for the winter; subsequently kicking that can down the road until May or June, why not get your yearly AC tuneup in September instead of next year? This way, it’s ready for that surprise stretch of hot weather around Halloween and primed for the Spring.

Small AC Problems Get Worse the Longer They’re Ignored

You really shouldn’t run an air conditioner if you sense any type of problem whatsoever. Any type of fault or malfunction will get progressively worse if you ignore it and continue to run the AC. There’s often a chain reaction effect when one component of a cooling system wears down. You may think you’re saving money by putting off a late summer AC repair, but you’re likely making that inevitable repair a far more expensive one by the time you call.

Higher Utility Bills if You Continue Running Your AC

If you run an air conditioner while it has a mechanical or electrical problem, the extra strain placed on the system drains more power. This results in a higher utility bill. Nobody wants to go into winter’s high gas bills with unnecessarily high electric bills in the late summer or fall.

Why not head into the fall knowing your air conditioner is ready for action whenever it’s needed again – even if that’s not until Spring? If you’re in the Pittsburgh area and you detect even the slightest potential issue with your Ac right now, get a top-notch tuneup from one of the best air conditioning contractors in town!

Project Spotlight: New High-End Luxury Home on Grandview Avenue in Mount Washington

Bill Reilly and the crew at Top Notch Heating & Air were pleased to be chosen by Senko Construction for HVAC installation at a newly-constructed luxury townhome on Grandview Avenue in Mount Washington.

This high-end single-family home, one of several Senko Construction is building along Grandview Avenue, is ideal for anyone wanting to live in one of Pittsburgh’s most visited neighborhoods.

Grandview Avenue runs the length of Mount Washington and provides many unique views of Pittsburgh’s breathtaking skyline. While there was interest in building apartment buildings, duplexes, condos, and even a boutique hotel along this street, it was decided single-family homes are what’s best for the neighborhood right now. Especially luxury homes like this one, which will include a scenic rooftop deck, small swimming pool, and jacuzzi tub.

In this video posted to YouTube, Bill Reilly takes us on a walkthrough of the property. Of course, Bill spotlights the ductwork and HVAC equipment installed – in this case, Trane heating and cooling systems – which the space was fit for. Air filtration and humidifiers were also part of the install. Being that this is a high-end home, nothing from an HVAC perspective was off the table.

Senko Construction – specializing in both residential and commercial construction – has built more than 50 townhomes in Pittsburgh neighborhoods such as the North Side, Lawrenceville, and Oakland. Their typical time to complete a build is eight to ten months. They are the owners, developers, and contractors on eight high-end single-family homes planned for the corner of Grandview Ave. and Merrimac St. – right at the top of P.J. McArdle Roadway.

Please check out the video. If you’re shopping for a luxury home in the Pittsburgh area, you absolutely must inquire about these high-end single-family homes designed by Hart Architectural Services and being built by Senko Construction. In addition to living along one of Pittsburgh’s premier tourist destinations, and having a view all of your guests will envy, you’re also just a short walk from the neighborhood’s business district on Shiloh Street – host to a number of restaurants and stops for ice cream, baked goods, or an ice-cold beer or refreshing cocktail at the end of a workday.

Here are more images from the project! And, don’t forget, if you are a homeowner, business owner, or a residential or commercial builder, choose Top Notch for the best HVAC in Pittsburgh!

7 Most Common Reasons for Air Conditioning Repairs

Is there anything more miserable than a hot and muggy August day under a gray Pittsburgh sky? How about coming home from work that day to a broken air conditioner?

Why chance your comfort this summer? As much as we at Top Notch love all yinz, so many of the emergency AC repair calls we get are preventable. People just aren’t familiar with the most common causes of air conditioner problems and how to be proactive with maintenance to prevent them.

So, we thought it would be helpful to talk about seven of the most common causes of air conditioner problems. You’ll see that many of these problems are preventable with routine maintenance.

Dirty Condenser Coils

Warm air inside your house is caught and released outside your house by your AC’s condenser coils. Condenser coils don’t work as well when they’re covered in dirt and grime. This impedes heat transfer. The unit has to work much harder to sufficiently cool your home. This increases wear and tear on parts, raises your utility bill, and ultimately leads to a complete system failure. While Pittsburgh is no longer the “smokey city” it once was, soot and pollution still fill the air. Dirty condenser coils are a very common cause for air conditioner repair in Pittsburgh.

Frozen Evaporator Coils

Refrigerant fills your AC’s evaporator coil. An air conditioner’s evaporator coil sucks up heat from the air – similar to how a sponge absorbs water. While it may sound weird, these coils only work properly if warm air circulates around them. If anything restricts airflow, ice may build up on the outer part of the coil. When this occurs, you might notice warm air – or no air at all – coming from registers.

Low Refrigerant

Your air conditioner relies on refrigerant to remove heat and humidity from the air inside your home. Sometimes leaks in the refrigerant lines will result in low refrigerant. When this happens, your AC loses its ability to effectively cool the air. Unfortunately, this AC repair is more complex than just replenishing the lost refrigerant. The source of the leak must first be detected. Any holes in lines must then be repaired. Sometimes there can even be multiple leaks. This makes for a time-consuming and often expensive air conditioner repair.

Fan Problems

To cool the air inside your home, a fan inside your air conditioner blows indoor air over the unit’s evaporator coil. At the same time, another fan expels heat from inside to the outside of the house through the outdoor unit’s condenser.

Several problems can keep either of these fans from working properly. Anything from a lack of lubrication to a faulty motor, worn belts, and a build up of dirt and debris. Anytime airflow is affected, as in the case of fan problems, many air conditioner problems can arise. Overlooking or neglecting these issues can result in a complete compressor failure, which is often fatal to an air conditioner unit.

Thermostat Problems

Believe it or not, there are still plenty of old Pittsburgh homes with dial-type thermostats. Sometimes these aren’t calibrated correctly. This means the control system doesn’t send the right instructions to the air conditioner. The fix can either be to replace or re-calibrate the thermostat.

The newer programmable thermostats aren’t without their hiccups either. Programming these thermostats can be tricky and result in them being set incorrectly.

While we certainly don’t mind visiting you, before calling us, check your thermostat’s manual to confirm the settings are correct. It’s a quick painless trip for us, but it can be a little embarrassing for the homeowner. However, it’s very common. Many air conditioner repair calls we get end up being nothing more than a thermostat’s settings. That said, many times the thermostat itself needs to be repaired or replaced.

Leaking Ducts

The cool air coming from your AC is carried throughout your house by the duct work running through your walls. Any break or hole in these ducts can trap all this coolness inside your walls. That does no one any good. It also makes your air conditioner work harder to cool your house to the thermostat’s setting. This spikes your energy consumption and utility bill.

Clogged Drains

Ever wonder what your AC does with all of that moisture it removes from the air? Well, ideally, it’s emitted into a pan and down the drain through a drain line. But problems arise when the drain or line gets clogged or the pan fills and a water backup damages the cooling system. Leaks can also cause significant property damage – potentially damaging your ceilings, walls, furniture, etc.


Don’t wait until your AC completely breaks down to get an HVAC tech to your house. A yearly AC tuneup should get your home’s central air in shape for the demands of summer.

  • Dirty air filters can be replaced too prevent frozen evaporator coils.
  • The condition of your ductwork can be assessed.
  • A modern programmable thermostat can be installed and controlled remotely with a tablet or smartphone. Bill or one of our Top Notch techs can even give you a brief tutorial so you’ll know how to use it.
  • A springtime air conditioner tune up lets us clear brush and debris from around the unit so the unit can more effectively expel heat.

If you’re in the Pittsburgh area, and you’d like an AC inspection and tune up each spring, it’s a relatively inexpensive maintenance call with short and long term monetary benefits.

Call 412-381-0598 or contact us online to schedule a spring time Pittsburgh air conditioner inspection and tuneup.

A Yearly Air Conditioner Check Up Pays Big Dividends

A yearly air conditioner check up is highly recommended to any homeowner. Is it absolutely necessary? No. Your AC might work just fine throughout the summer if you skip a preseason maintenance check. Your car may also run just fine if you drive it beyond 3,000 miles without an oil change. That doesn’t mean you should though. Annual AC tuneups maximize your investment and make financial sense for a number of reasons.

“Look at it this way. Think about how hard your air conditioner worked last summer. It has also sat all winter long, possibly exposed to the elements if it wasn’t properly covered. Air conditioner tuneups pay for themselves in a variety of direct and indirect savings,” says Bill Reilly, owner of Top Notch Heating & Cooling – a Pittsburgh AC contractor.

Here are several reasons you shouldn’t skip out on that annual air conditioner maintenance service!

A Spring Air Conditioner Tuneup Gives the Unit a Head Start

You’ve gone some time now without running your air conditioner. Can you really expect it to run at peak efficiency now that you’ll again be depending on it every day?

Would you just start up a car that’s been sitting in the driveway for six months and embark on a cross-country drive without first taking it to a mechanic?

Naturally, you’d consider getting an oil change, tuneup, and having the tired checked or rotated. You’d want to make sure the car was good to go before you hit the highway.

Scheduling spring time AC maintenance gets your system primed to keep you cool all summer long. Not only that, it helps ensure it runs efficiently, which helps keep your utility bills low.

Air Conditioner Maintenance Services Are Usually Less Expensive than Emergency Repairs

Sure, there’s no guarantee your air conditioner still won’t malfunction or conk out even after a tuneup. But, if a problem does arise this summer, we’d be willing to bet the repair will be less expensive than it would be had you skipped the tuneup.

From our experience, roughly half of the emergency AC repair calls we get could’ve been prevented with an annual checkup.

When we perform a yearly air conditioner maintenance service, small problems are often detected before there’s even a warning sign they exist. This keeps them from becoming bigger more expensive problems. This saves homeowners the higher cost – and bigger hassle – of calling for an emergency air conditioner repair when it’s 90 degrees in July.

Neglecting Regular AC Maintenance Could Void Your Warranty

Most new air conditioner installations come with a limited warranty from the manufacturer. One of the requirements from this warranty could be the upkeep of regular AC maintenance.

Many of these manufacturer warranties won’t cover the cost of replacement parts without routine maintenance checks from a HVAC professional.

Be sure to check your air conditioner’s warranty – specifically any section titled “Exclusions” or “Eligibility Requirements.”

You’ll Get More Years from a Well-Maintained Air Conditioner

Routine air conditioner maintenance results in fewer repairs over time. This also prolongs the lifespan of your AC unit. In contrast, by neglecting regular air conditioning maintenance, you’ll be reducing its lifespan.

Back to the car analogy, how long do you think a car would run if its owner never changed its oil and neglected all recommended maintenance? Meanwhile, someone who takes good care of his or her automobile will likely get miles and years from it.

A well-maintained air conditioner maximizes your investment. It also increases its operating efficiency, which can translate into lowering energy costs by as much as 15%.


Top Notch Heating & Cooling provide yearly air conditioner maintenance services to homeowners throughout the city of Pittsburgh and surrounding suburbs. Call 412-381-0598 or contact us online to schedule your annual Pittsburgh air conditioner check up or if you need an AC repair or AC installation.

Spring Forward With An Air Conditioning Tuneup

Springtime is the right time for an air conditioning tuneup. Many people wonder if they can perform an AC tuneup on their own. While most of us admittedly have a little bit of a DIY (Do-It-Yourself) attitude, it’s always good to pick your battles.

With in-home comfort and perhaps your manufacturer’s warranty at risk, fine-tuning your home’s AC for optimal summertime performance might be best left to the professionals.

Doing it yourself may result in more problems and necessitate more costly repairs in the end.

Annual air conditioner maintenance is important. For starters, the likelihood of your AC unit going on the fritz on a sweltering hot afternoon significantly decreases. Secondly, we all like extending the lifespan of any significant investment we make.

A yearly Pittsburgh air conditioner tuneup not only increases its seasonal dependability but also it’s durability as well.

Here are three reasons annual AC maintenance is a smart investment this spring

It Might Lower Your Utility Bill

Most people don’t notice their AC is no longer working until it completely shuts down. Then, when they look back, they realize there had been gradual warning signs for days, sometimes weeks, or even months.

The first thing a sick air conditioner will do is lose its ability to cool as effectively and efficiently as it needs to. You’ll notice you’re still hot after coming in from the outdoors. You’ll notice certain rooms in your house don’t feel as cool as they should. Perhaps it may even feel like your AC is blowing hot air.

If you’re like most people, your response to this lost cooling will be to lower the thermostat a few degrees. You’ll convince yourself this will power up the cooling. For a while, this approach may actually work. However, soon enough, it won’t help at all.

A common culprit of inadequate cooling is a dirty evaporator. If your air conditioner isn’t cooling at all, a dirty, blocked, or faulty condenser or inadequate refrigerant are the most likely sources.

A yearly inspection of the unit by a seasoned HVAC tech can identify the aforementioned issues before they even present problems. Saving you time, money, and securing your summer-long comfort indoors.

It May Benefit You & Your Family’s Health

The longer an AC goes without maintenance, the dirtier it gets. This dirt is distributed throughout your house anytime the AC runs. This can compromise you and your family’s health. Allergy sufferers will have problems. Chronic Rhinitis becomes unbearable. Even asthma attacks can be triggered by allergens like dust, dust mites, or pet dander spread throughout the house via the AC and ductwork.

Your AC May Already Be Crying for Help

While chlorofluorocarbon (CFCs) like Freon are no longer used in air conditioners, the elimination of that environmental pollutant has made way for another type of pollutant. Noise pollution. New energy efficient air conditioner units can make quite a bit of noise. Sometimes this noise is nothing to worry about. What you’re hearing is a machine doing its job.

But every now and then some noises can be telltale signs that something potentially more serious is going on. Sounds like buzzing, clicking, or rattling could actually be warning signs. A squeal or screaming sound is another major signal of distress that’s often related to the refrigerant. These are again scenarios that are completely preventable with yearly air conditioner maintenance in Pittsburgh.


Baseball season is approaching. Soon it will be time to Regatta and we’ll all be complaining about how miserably hot (and gray since it’s Pittsburgh) it is outside. Why not make sure your air conditioner is ready to handle the workload with a yearly AC tuneup from Top Notch Heating & Cooling. Call us at 412-381-0598 or reach out to us online to schedule your air conditioner inspection and cleaning.

Benefits of Replacing Your AC and Furnace at the Same Time

If you want year-round comfort in your home, it all comes down to the HVAC systems you choose to cool your home in the summer and warm your home in the winter.

When it comes time to replace a unit, it’s tempting to replace them one at a time. Most homeowners will replace the system that’s giving them the most trouble at the time. The one they’ll rely on the most in the next few months.

For example, if your furnace is on the fritz in December, you’ll want to install a new one ASAP with more blistering cold on the way. No different than how you’ll replace your home’s AC system if your current unit craps out in July with the heat and humidity of August still to come.

Few people stop to realize that they’d conserve more energy and save more money over the long haul if they replace both systems at the same time – even one that’s seen better days but is still working.

Here are a few reasons replacing your furnace and A/C systems at the same time will benefit your home and your wallet.

Energy Efficiency

The heating and cooling systems manufactured today are incredibly energy efficient – much more than the HVAC systems built just 10 to 15 years ago.

The SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating is how you’ll compare the efficiency of different air conditioning systems. The higher the SEER, the less energy it uses and the less it will cost to operate. Newer systems will have a SEER rating of 13 or higher. 13 is the government’s minimum standard for cooling systems.

Furnaces are measured by their AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency). A unit with an AFUE of 90% or more is considered an energy efficient furnace system.

Did you know? Depending on the quality and efficiency of the unit, today’s furnaces will generally last you anywhere from 15 to 20 years; a central air conditioning system can last anywhere from 12 to 15 years.

Optimal Performance

Replacing just one component of your HVAC system can actually decrease the overall performance and efficiency of both your heating and cooling system.

For instance, if you install a new high-efficiency central AC, but you’re still hanging on to an older less-energy efficient furnace, you’re not getting the best bang for your buck from the newer more energy efficient system.

Think of your furnace and air conditioning system as a powerful one-two punch. Matched systems will complement one another. After all, your AC and furnace share the same air handler/blower. A matched system with an efficient handler will result in optimal system operation and home comfort.

Simply put, a matched system might cost you more right now but it will save you more in the long run. There are a few reasons for this:

  • Matched components will work in sync together for maximum efficiency.
  • Matching a new system with an older inefficient one can quite possibly decrease the lifespan of the new system you’ve just invested in.
  • When it comes to warranties, manufacturers aren’t required to honor warranties of new systems that break down during the warranty period if they were combined with an older system.

You also have to remember that both new systems will be under warranty, which will save you money if repairs are ever needed within a few years. That’s a luxury you won’t have if you have an old dated furnace in need or repairs every remaining year you rely on it.

Overall, new systems will require fewer repairs. Additionally, you’re likely to save money on installation by purchasing both systems together and having them installed by the same HVAC pro. For them, their job becomes much less complicated when installing both a new heating and cooling system at the same time.


If you’d like a comprehensive assessment of your current HVAC system and to go over your options for air conditioning or furnace replacement, contact Top Notch Heating & Air at 412-381-0598 or visit https://topnotchair.com. We specialize in both air conditioning and furnace installation in Pittsburgh.

4 Tips To Keep Your Furnace Working All Winter Long

Winter is coming. The leaves have changed colors. The kids have all adjusted to their normal daily school routine. Trick or Treat has concluded. We’ve turned our clocks back. Soon, everything pumpkin spice will be phased out for peppermint mocha and Michael Buble will re-emerge from the cave he resides in for 10 months of the year to usher in the Holiday shopping season.

Hopefully, by now, your central air conditioning has long been shut off and covered. Any window AC units of yours have been removed and stored away in the attic or basement. It’s furnace season. It’s time to crank up that heat. While most of you are already running your furnace, unfortunately, many of you have also skipped the recommended annual furnace tune-up. This is why Top Notch Heating and Cooling – Pittsburgh PA HVAC experts – have put together some quick tips to help ensure your furnace runs optimally all winter long.

Replace Furnace Filters

Regularly replacing the filter in your furnace will prolong the lifespan of the unit. Not only will it keep your furnace running optimally throughout the winter, but it’ll also keep your gas bill down.

Unfortunately, for as simple as it is, many homeowners fail to change their furnace filters as often as they should. This can lead to rising heating bills and contribute to more serious and costly maintenance issues down the road.

So, how often should furnace filters be replaced? The cheaper fiberglass filters, which while cost-efficient, really don’t do a great job of filtering, should be switched out every 30 days. Higher-end pleated filters can last as long as 6 months before they need to be replaced; however, it’s generally recommended they be changed every 90 days. Filter efficiency decreases as more dirt, dust, and allergens from the air are trapped.

Clean the Heat Exchanger Annually

Here’s why you shouldn’t dismissively wave off any mention of annual furnace maintenance. Heat exchangers need to be professionally brushed and vacuumed once a year. Making sure heat exchangers are properly maintained and cleaned annually will prevent expensive complications later. Dirty heat exchangers can contribute to anything from a poorly performing furnace to the need for total equipment replacement.

Dirt, soot, and sediments are only a few contributors to dirty heat exchangers. There can also be a crystallization of salts and minerals, organic fouling from organisms, and chemical fouling as well. Corrosion from water and condensation build up or the use of chemicals must also be cleaned.

In addition to cleaning, heat exchangers also need to be inspected annually. Particularly to look for cracks that could allow dangerous carbon monoxide to leak into a home.

Clean Your Air Ducts

Heat is blown through your air ducts. It’s a good idea to have your air ducts checked every season to make sure there’s no obstruction inhibiting airflow. It’s not uncommon for objects to get inside your ductwork and create a blockage. A professional HVAC technician can thoroughly clean a vent’s exterior and remove any obstructions.

Check Your Thermostat

You may think this is a no-brainer, but we get so many calls every year from homeowners reporting an issue with their furnace who are really experiencing a completely correctable issue with their thermostat.

Replace the batteries in your thermostat when you first turn your furnace on. If it’s time to replace your thermostat, consider a programmable one that lets you set different temperatures throughout the day or even program temperature changes through a smartphone app. Modern thermostats like these are a great way to effectively lower heating costs.


We recommend that homeowners in the Pittsburgh area have their HVAC equipment inspected and maintained twice a year. Once prior to running your AC unit and then again prior to running your furnace. Contact Top Notch Heating and Cooling today for the best HVAC in Pittsburgh. Call 412-381-0598 to schedule your annual Pittsburgh furnace tune-up or if you’re experiencing any problem with your furnace. Or reach out to us at https://topnotchair.com/contact.

Are Annual Furnace Inspections Really Necessary?

Your furnace is the heart of your home in the wintertime. Without it, it would be impossible for your home to be habitable on a cold winter’s night. This is why it’s important to keep it well maintained if you intend on staying warm all winter long. This requires a furnace inspection by an HVAC professional. But how often does this inspection really need to occur?

The simple answer is service schedules sort of differ depending on the brand and type of furnace in your home. Most manufacturers will recommend a service schedule of once every 2 to 5 years. For the Pittsburgh area homeowners we serve, due to the harshness of Western Pennsylvania winters, as well as environmental and architectural (lots of older large homes) components, we recommend your furnace be inspected once a year. Preferably, prior to its first use when the weather turns cold.

Is it necessary? The best analogy we can think of is it’s like scheduling a dental appointment every six months. You’re going for a basic check-up and cleaning. It’s probably not necessary but it’s recommended since the overall health of your mouth will be better through the long run. You’re less likely to be one of those people running to the dentist in agonizing pain from a sudden toothache. The dentist will catch issues when they’re small; before they become a bigger problem.

That’s the idea behind an annual furnace inspection. Looming issues can be caught before they escalate into a more expensive problem. You’re less likely to need to call an emergency 24-hour HVAC service when your furnace suddenly stops working on a cold, cold night. That’s because an inspection and some maintenance before you start running your furnace will prevent that complete system failure from happening.

But what does a furnace inspection and tune-up consist of?

Every HVAC contractor is going to have a description with subtle differences in language that make it almost impossible to compare services between competing heating companies. For instance, you may see this service described as a furnace “check-up”, “safety check”, “certification”, “tune-up”, “complete tune-up”, “basic tune-up”, “ or “annual maintenance check-up.”

Services will vary from one HVAC contractor to the next. This is why you need to know exactly what services the HVAC company you hire will provide as part of their annual inspection and tune-up. We’ve compiled this list of generic services recommended annually by different furnace manufacturers. These manufacturers expect these services to be carried out by a qualified HVAC technician:

  • Check vent system for blockage/leakage
  • Check blower access door to ensure the seal at the furnace is tight
  • Analyze and compare combustion gases to the unit specifications
  • Inspect heat exchanger for rust and corrosion
  • Check fresh air intake grills and louvers for blockage
  • Check drainage system for blockage and/or leakage
  • Check burners for proper ignition, burner flame, and flame sense
  • Check blower wheel needs for debris and remove blower wheel to clean if necessary
  • Clean condensate drain and trap and replace water in the trap
  • Check wiring for corrosion and damage.
  • Conduct amp-draw test on the blower motor and compared with what is listed.
  • Check and replace filters if necessary (this needs to be done several times a year)

In addition to this list, gas pressure testing plus static air pressure and temperature rise checks are also performed.

What does a HVAC Tune Up Cost?

You get what you pay for. A cheap furnace tune up will most likely skip some important services. Remember, annual furnace maintenance isn’t just about safety. Preventative maintenance is another reason you want a yearly furnace tune-up. The more thorough the inspection and cleaning services are, the less likely it is you’ll wake up in the middle of a January night with no heat thanks to a furnace that has quit working altogether. When that happens, you’ll need an emergency HVAC service since your furnace stopped working, which means you’ll be paying emergency rates. Paying a little more for an HVAC tune up will ultimately save you money in the long run.


Top Notch Heating and Cooling provides HVAC tune-ups in Pittsburgh. If you’d like to learn which services our furnace tune-ups include, contact us today at 412-381-0598 or by reaching out to us online at https://topnotchair.com/contact.

Furnace Troubleshooting: Easy Answers to Common Problems

You love your furnace. You just don’t realize it until it craps out on you on a cold winter’s day. Then you realize exactly how much you’ve taken that furnace for granted. Without modern day furnaces, we’d still be huddled around a fire to stay warm. While we all appreciate a cozy night beside a fireplace, a furnace is there for us all day and all through the night. That is… until it stops working.

If your furnace isn’t kicking or warming your house property, here are a few furnace troubleshooting tips from Pittsburgh HVAC company Top Notch Heating and Air.

Check Your Furnace Filter

The air filter in your furnace gets dirty over time. An air filter that’s clogged by dust, dirt, and pet dander can prematurely breakdown or negatively impact how well your home is heated due to restricted airflow. It may also become a fire hazard.

Try to check your air filter every 30 days. One simple way to do this is by removing the filter and holding it up to a light. If you cannot see light passing through it, it’s time for the filter to be cleaned or replaced.

Filter replacement is a DIY endeavor. When installing a new filter, just make sure the arrows on it are pointing to the direction of the airflow. Then be sure to properly secure the access panel once you’re finished.

Check Your Thermostat

Once you’ve confirmed that the air filter is clean, or you’ve properly installed a new filter, it’s now time to check the thermostat.

People think we’re insulting their intelligence when we ask them to confirm the thermostat is set to “heat” and that the temperature is set to at least 5 degrees higher than the current indoor temperature. Yet, every winter, we get at least one of those calls from a confused homeowner who can’t figure out why their heat isn’t kicking on.

Often times the batteries in the thermostat need to be replaced or an electromechanical thermostat may need to be opened and gently dusted with a soft paintbrush.

Another common thermostat issue is its location can make it vulnerable to false readings if it’s in direct sunlight or located near a space heater, oven, lamp, or another heat source. A thermostat receiving wrong input will send out the wrong output.

Check Furnace Switch & Electrical Panel

Many times there’s no problem whatsoever with the air filter and thermostat. However, the power could be an issue.

There will be a furnace switch located near the unit. Check to make sure it wasn’t accidentally turned off. Perhaps flip it back and forth a few times to make sure you hear some semblance of life.

If you don’t, then it might be time to head to the electrical panel to make sure the power at the breaker or fuse box is turned to on. Ideally, the breaker box will be properly labeled; however, if it isn’t, look for the breaker that’s in the opposite direction of the others. That will be the one you’ll want to flip from off to on to reset. You’ll hear a click when you do this.

If it’s a fuse box you’re dealing with, the bad fuse will look discolored and melted. Unscrew it and replace it with a fuse of the exact same type and size. The easiest way to ensure you find an identical fuse is to take the old one to the store and pick out a matching replacement.

Once you’ve done this, turn your furnace switch on to see if power to your furnace has been restored. If there’s still no power, or the breaker has tripped again, it’s time to call an HVAC professional.

NOTE: Prior to resetting power, ensure your hands and feet are completely dry. Do not touch anything If there are visible signs of electrical damage or moisture.

Check Furnace Flame

Your furnace flame should be a healthy blue color. This blue flame is an indicator that your gas furnace is burning fuel safely and efficiently. There might also be a small yellowish tip.

What you don’t want to see is a flame that’s red, purple, green, or completely yellow. When you see this, you need to immediately contact an HVAC professional.

Pilot light & Gas Valve

If your furnace flame is out, you can relight it on your own. Just be sure to consult your unit’s owner’s manual for instructions and proceed with caution. Be sure to turn your gas off for about 10 to 15 minutes before you attempt to relight the pilot. Do not continue if there’s even the faintest smell of gas! That could suggest a gas leak and you’ll need to evacuate your family from the premises and call your gas company ASAP to report a leak.

Properly Secure Front Panel

Many furnaces will not run properly if the front access panel isn’t properly secured or pressed in all the way.

Make Sure All Vents & Registers Are Open & Unobstructed

If certain rooms in your house aren’t getting proper heat or airflow, make sure all the supply and return grills throughout your home are fully opened and unobstructed. Vents and registers might be blocked by furniture, appliances, rugs, or anything else. Not only is your overall comfort affected, but the excessive air pressure builds up in your ductwork due to the obstruction, which could cause a leak or a premature furnace breakdown.

Contrary to popular belief, shutting off the vents and registers in unused rooms is NOT recommended. It doesn’t save you any significant money on your heating bill and may actually damage your heating system.


If you’re having problems with your furnace, do not hesitate to contact Top Notch Heating & Air at 412-381-0598 or reach out to us online at https://topnotchair.com/contact. Explain the problem you’re experiencing to Bill and he or one of our team members will be at your home ASAP to assess and resolve your problem.

New Furnace Installation Done Right

A new furnace is a significant investment. To get the most of this investment, your new furnace needs to be properly installed. Proper installation will help ensure your furnace runs optimally for up to 15 to 20 years. A system that isn’t installed to correct specifications is more likely to fail earlier. Components will wear and tear

You typically purchase a new furnace for improved indoor comfort. A warmer house. More reliability. If it’s a high-efficiency rating, you might also be looking to lower your heating bills.

However, a furnace that isn’t properly installed won’t sufficiently heat your home. It may have to work harder to get the job done; consuming more energy in the process. It is said that a poorly installed furnace can decrease performance efficiency by up to 30%.

In today’s post, TopNotch Heating & Air offers some helpful tips to ensure this big job is done right.

Find the Right Contractor

Furnace installation is a job for only a licensed and qualified HVAC professional. You should never attempt to install such a complex mechanical system on your own. Only a qualified HVAC contractor can properly install your system to ensure it runs optimally all winter long.

When choosing an HVAC tech for your new furnace installation, be sure to do the following:

Check Contractor’s Website: Most reputable HVAC contractors these days have a website. Review their site, its content, and customer testimonials. If it resonates with you, give them a call.

Check Contractor’s Online Reviews: Be sure to check the online reviews and customer ratings of any contractor you’re considering. Happy satisfied customers are always a good sign.You should get plenty of insight into your technician’s professionalism and quality of work.

Be Sure to Budget Properly

The average cost to install a new furnace is roughly $4,000. Quotes from contractors will vary depending on equipment factors such as fuel types or features. Any additional work the contractor must complete as part of the installation – for instance, installing ductwork – will also bump up the price. You have to also keep in mind that every contractor will charge differently for their time and labor. Someone in your area with a solid reputation may have higher fees.

Prep The Area

While nobody but a professional HVAC tech can install a new furnace, there are a few things homeowners are encouraged to do. Be sure to clear the area. Any items stored within six feet of the installation site should be removed. Make sure any door or gates your contractor will need access to are open or unlocked. You want the contractor to have complete accessibility and adequate space to work in. It’s in the homeowner’s best interest that the installation goes as smoothly as possible.


If you need a new furnace installation in Pittsburgh or one its surrounding suburbs, call TopNotch Heating & Air today at 412-381-0598 for a free estimate.

Things to Know When Replacing Your Furnace

At one point or another, you’ll need to replace the furnace at your home or business. Selecting the right make, model, and contractor can be trying. We fully understand that. This is why we’ve decided to put together this quick guide to selecting, purchasing, and installing a replacement furnace.

When Is It Time for a Replacement Furnace?

While there’s no exact way to predict when your current furnace will reach the end of its service life, there will be indicators and warning signs the end is near. Here are a few:

  • If your furnace’s age is nearing the 15-year mark, you may want to begin setting aside money for a replacement. While the actual service life of a furnace will vary depending on its usage and maintenance, most units average about 15 to 20 years.

  • If your furnace seems to be breaking down more often, it may be on its last legs. A furnace tends to have more frequent issues the final two years of its service life. If it gets to the point where you’re calling your HVAC tech more and more for emergency furnace repair, it may actually be more cost efficient to replace the unit.

  • If your HVAC tech has mentioned that your furnace isn’t properly sized for your home, you’ll want to seriously consider replacing it. Running an incorrectly sized furnace will lead to comfort control issues inside your home or business. Excessive energy will be consumed and money will be wasted. Replacing this unit is your best option to reduce energy costs, improve indoor comfort, and save money. You’ll just need a qualified HVAC expert to calculate your home or building’s heating load to ensure any replacement unit is properly sized.

    What Is the Cost to Install a Replacement Furnace?

    Furnace installation prices will vary from one home to the next. The average cost nationally is generally around $4,000. It could be more or less depending on energy efficiency, system capacity, fuel source, and other features. Any need for changes to ductwork or air sealing requirements might also increase the cost of installation.

    Keep in mind that any quote to install a replacement furnace will also include the cost of your HVAC contractor’s time and labor.

    Things to Research Before a Replacement Furnace Installation

    Contractors – If you don’t already have an HVAC contractor, make sure you research your options in your area and get at least a few quotes. Family and friends are always good for recommendations. Be sure to check out any contractor’s web presence; particularly their online reviews. You’ll want to choose someone with a solid reputation, proper licensing, and insurance.

    Furnace Makes & Models – Ideally, you’ll have an HVAC contractor you trust navigating you through this process. There are many furnace manufacturers and models to choose from. Your HVAC specialist will assess your home or building’s needs and recommend a system with the features and efficiency you want.

    How To Prep For a Replacement Furnace Installation

    Once your installation is scheduled, make sure the area is accessible for your contractor to work. Clear out at least a six-foot space from where the furnace is being installed.

    From there, your licensed HVAC technician will ensure your replacement furnace is safely installed for optimal performance for many years to come.


    If you’re in the city of Pittsburgh or its suburbs, don’t hesitate to call TopNotch Heating & Air to assess whether it’s time for a replacement furnace installation in your home or business. Coupons for these services can be found on our website and we can be reached at 412-381-0598.

3 Spring Cleaning Tips For Your Furnace | TopNotch Heating & Air


Furnace maintenance is the last thing most people think about when the weather starts to warm up. After being burrowed inside all winter long, it’s understandable that people want to get out and enjoy springtime weather. If they’re tending to anything, it’s readying the yard for the summer, shopping for their dream grill, planning summer vacation, or figuring out what summer concerts they’d like to attend. If they’re calling an HVAC tech at all, it’s usually to inspect and clean their air conditioner.

But part of your annual spring cleaning could be getting your furnace in shape for next fall or winter.

Regardless of your furnace’s age, make, or model, any HVAC system in your home will feel the brunt of consistently running throughout a long winter. Think of it like putting miles and miles on a car. That car will better withstand the test of time and use if it’s serviced every 3,000 miles. Your furnace is no different and needs regular maintenance.

There are two critical points each year when it’s recommended you “tune-up” your furnace. Pre-fall/winter before there’s any need to turn your heat on and spring as you’re transitioning from furnace use to AC use. Most people service their furnace prior to winter use, which is fine, but many don’t do at all. Even if you’re not calling your HVAC tech for spring servicing, there are still some highly recommended DIY tips. These include:

Checking/Replacing Your Furnace Filter

A furnace filter should be replaced at least every 3 to 4 months if the furnace is running daily. More frequently if you have pets and anyone in the house allergic to dust or dander. To determine whether or not your filter needs to be replaced, check for the following:

  • Look for Visible Dirt or a Clog: If you notice visible dirt, debris, and dust, it’s time to change the filter. If debris and dust is minimal, and you won’t be running the unit for a few months, you can wait it out if need be. But why not just replace the filter in the spring? This way you’re starting fresh when it’s time to run your furnace again in the fall and you won’t have to worry about forgetting to change out the filter.
  • Check Filter Color:  Filters are usually white, cream-colored, or gray. If its color has changed or darkened, you should replace the filter.
  • Always Write Replacement Date: Whenever you’re replacing a filter, write the date you’ve installed a new one in permanent marker. This can be done on the exposed cardboard where the size dimensions are. This way you can make sure you’re replacing your filter every 3 to 4 months like you should be.

If you skip doing all of this in the spring, remember that even a minimally used filter should be replaced if it’s been more than 3 months since the furnace has run.

Pressure Wash Outside Condenser/Heat Pump

Spring is the perfect time of year to do this. You want to wait until the weather has warmed up and you’re sure you won’t need to use your furnace again until the fall. This can be a little tricky in Pittsburgh since the temperature here can fluctuate from 75 degrees to 35 degrees in March or April.

Pressure washing this component of your air conditioner will remove the debris, grime, and bits of gravel that tend to build up during a wet, cold, and slushy Pittsburgh winter. This will also remove or breakup accumulated dead leaves that sometimes get caught in the unit. This leaves you with an AC system that’s clean and running efficiently. Cleaning your system this way will also lessen the likelihood of serious more costly damage incurring as a result of neglect.

Don’t Hesitate to Call an HVAC Pro

Have your furnace serviced by an HVAC professional at least once a year. If you do this in the fall, you don’t necessarily have to do it again in the spring, but stick to a yearly schedule that doesn’t get confusing.

One advantage of doing this in the spring is you can rest easy knowing you can turn on your heat with the first chill of autumn. It’s not uncommon to turn on your heat during the first cold snap of October only to discover your furnace isn’t working. Spring furnace maintenance will ensure your system is ready to go come fall/winter. This way you and your family won’t be sitting around in October in multiple layers of clothing, draped in blankets, while you’re waiting for a furnace part to be ordered and installed.

For this same reason, spring is also the perfect time to replace an older furnace with a new unit. Most people need a few days or sometimes weeks to replace a furnace. Getting this out of the way in the spring means you won’t be without heat later in the year when you really need it.


If you’re in Pittsburgh or one of its many suburbs, don’t hesitate to call TopNotch Heating & Air for annual AC and furnace inspections/cleanings. Coupons for these services can be found on our website and we can be reached at 412-381-0598.

Home Heating: Myth vs. Reality

The thought of winter heating bills is enough to send a shiver up your spine, in addition to the one caused by the chilly air! The good news is that there are many steps you can take to “winterize” your house and help keep your heating costs in check! However, even though your blood might not be circulating, myths about energy cost savings are.

Here are some of the popular ones, and why they are flat-out false:

Boost the thermostat to boost the heat.

Contrary to popular belief, your living space does not get warmer faster if you turn the heat way up. The thermostat does not crank out hotter air in this case the more you turn it up, it just runs for much longer than necessary. If you’re trying to get to that 68-degree sweet spot, turn the thermostat to 68 degrees, not 80! This way, your furnace is not wasting energy by running after the target temperature is reached. Then you won’t have to remember to re-adjust the thermostat and you won’t be paying extra!

Wood fireplaces are cheap and efficient!

Although we wish it were true, for nostalgia and satisfaction’s sake, this is another winterizing myth. As much fun as it is to sit around a fire and stay warm on a winter evening, traditional fireplaces aren’t very efficient at heating an entire living space. Most of the hot air is funneled up the chimney and into the frigid night. If you want to explore the wood-burning route, there are newer, more efficient freestanding stoves certified by the EPA that can save furnace use. Having cheap (or free!) source of firewood doesn’t hurt either.

Space heaters can save a lot of money.

The truth is that space heaters are far less efficient than traditional heating methods. They simply cannot adequately heat a space a well as a furnace or boiler. This is especially true if your furnace runs on gas or propane; electricity is more expensive than gas, which means costs can be amplified in the winter months.

There are instances where a space heater can save money, though. One of which includes using a space heater in smaller rooms and lowering the thermostat for the rest of the house. If you’re using them in larger spaces, then it’s more efficient to keep your thermostat at a normal temperature.

Winterizing my house is too expensive!

While upgrading the heat retaining ability of your home can certainly take a dent out of your wallet, not every winterizing step has to be detrimental to your finances.

For instance, insulating window wraps and rubber door sealers are cheap, effective ways to stop chilling drafts from blowing through your home. You or a friendly handyman can take a caulking gun to seal up any holes in your siding or roof. Heavy curtains over larger windows can keep cold air from reaching your toes, too! For more ideas and energy-saving tips, visit the EPA’s website. Be proactive in guarding your energy bill this winter and you’ll be pleased with the results!

“Help! My furnace smells!”

Most people think to call their local HVAC experts when their furnace stops working, starts making noises, or leaks water. How about unusual smells? That new, funny odor in your basement could be a sign that something is going wrong inside the mechanical workings of your furnace. Here are some fragrances to which you shouldn’t turn up your nose:


Sulfur, or Rotten Eggs

It’s one of those smells that you can pinpoint immediately, and usually as a red flag. Whether your eggs are actually rotting in the fridge or worse, it’s never followed by good news. Many gas companies add this smell to their gas intentionally so that homeowners notice immediately and call a technician. If you believe that this smell is coming from your HVAC system, shut off all gas appliances and open all the windows to help disperse the gass. Call a heating and cooling technician as fast as possible to notify them of a potential gas leak.


Moldy, or Damp

Air conditioning systems can collect moisture throughout the summer months, which can fester in your ducts and vents, producing mold buildup within your house. If you smell this musty scent when you turn on your heat or AC, call a Top Notch service technician to check for possible mold development. We’ll thoroughly check your duct system for mold and mildew and can eliminate any problem areas. Your lungs and nose will thank you when your household air is back to being fresh and clear.


Burning, or Smoldering

If you pick up a burning odor near your heating and air conditioning system, there’s a chance that something could be, well, burning. This should demand your immediate attention and action. If the smell seems to be coming from your furnace, it could be mean that something is overheating as a result of mechanical or structural problems. For example, the wiring may be faulty or the cooling mechanism is broken. Take cautionary steps to ensure safety:  shut off the unit immediately and contact a professional to evaluate the unit and provide an accurate report on what is going wrong.

Are you saving money this winter? Invest it in next year.

By all standards, last winter was very mild. The almanacs predicted colder temperatures this year, but so far it’s not too different from 2016. However, fuel prices are projected to be at historic lows this year, meaning your energy savings could be much higher than anticipated. If these projections hold true, many homeowners will experience big-time savings on their home heating bills. Depending on how much you have budgeted to cover your heating costs, a large chunk of that may still be available come spring. While you may be tempted to invest that money into a spring cleaning project or a summer vacation, consider investing in your home’s energy efficiency instead.


“Nothing gold can stay”

Next year is a big maybe, which means you can’t count on natural gas prices to remain this low long-term. Just like any other commodity, natural gas prices are volatile. Additionally, next winter has the opportunity to be drastically different from previous years, which means that there is no way to guarantee another year of savings.

With a presumed surplus of cash, a smart homeowner can begin taking steps to improve their home’s energy efficiency, which can translate to lower heating costs in the future, regardless of gas or electric prices. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • With your extra budget money, upgrade the insulation in your walls and crawl spaces, so that your hard-earned heated air can stay inside the house for you to enjoy. In terms of scale of investment, insulation is rather modest.
  • Upgrade to a programmable thermostat, one that lets you adjust the temperature at all times of the day with the push of a few buttons. For maximum savings, the EPA recommends lowering your thermostat at night and during the day when nobody may be active in the house. With a new thermostat, you have control over every degree and can cut costs up to 10% annually.
  • Install a heat pump. Heat pumps are a 100% gas and oil-free ventilation system that pulls heat from the cold air and cycles it through your home, without losing the heat that is already indoors.
  • Landscape your yard and plant trees. Yes, trees! Trees and shrubs can block those biting winds, while still allowing sunlight to reach your windows, and can even create small pockets of air to help with insulation.
  • Upgrade your furnace to a new, high-efficiency model. There may even be tax credits in it for you, making that dollar stretch even farther.
  • Hire an HVAC expert to perform an energy audit on your home to discover even more ways your can save.

Why Is My Furnace Leaking Water?

The cause of your furnace leaking water can be due to a multitude of reasons. We will list the possible causes and solutions below.


Was Your Furnace Installed With the Correct Flue Pipe Size?

standard-efficiency furnace has a metal exhaust pipe that should not have condensation. If it does, the flue pipe may have been incorrectly sized. The wrong sized flue pipe could allow the the exhaust to cool down and cause condensation in the pipe, then drain back to the furnace and leak out.

Small Leaks can Signify Bigger Leaks to Come

If your house is heated by hydronic baseboard heat, then you may need to close off the valve feeding the heat system so the amount of water available is limited. If this is let go, the water leak will get worse. If this is your issue, give Top Notch a call to assess the issue before it turns into a bigger issue. We likely drain and repair the system, unless the damage is too far along and we need to replace the system.

Did Your Furnace Leak Water While Running the A/C?

Clearing a clogged condensate drainIf you are running a high efficiency forced air furnace then check the drain hose and make
sure you don’t have a clogged condensate drain tube. Condensation from outside air and air conditioning coils contain bacteria and can form slime and clog the condensate pan drain tube.
To clear the slime and prevent the coils can getting clogged again take the following steps: Remove the drain tube and fitting.  Then buy slime prevention packages (Example: AC-Safe Air Conditioner Pan Tablets) and follow the directions. Then install a larger tubing structure. This should permanently eliminate the clogging issue.

condensate pump

You May Have a Faulty Condensate Pump

If your heating system is a multifunction heating, ventilation, and AC, then your leaky HVAC may simply have a broken condensate pump. A new condensate pump is minimal in cost. Before replacing it try pouring water into the pump to see if it turns on, then attempt to turn it on. If it does turn on but the level of water does not decrease, then your tubing is clogged and then it may be clogged and need replaced.

10 Energy Saving Tips to Heat Your Home Most Efficiently

Heating and cooling amount to 47% of the energy costs in your home. Improve your home with this list of energy saving tips to heat your home most efficiently this Winter, and simultaneously prep your home to keep cool air in this upcoming Summer.

  1. Stop Drafts From Electrical Sockets. Oftentimes, the insulation around and behind your electrical sockets is not placed properly, creating drafts through the electrical sockets in your exterior walls. Stop letting air in through and around your sockets by removing the cover plate, and filling in small gaps with acrylic latex caulking, or foam sealant for bigger gaps.
  2. Replace Worn Weatherstripping. Worn and torn weatherstripping allow warm air to escape through the cracks. Proper sealing and insulation can save up to 20% on heating and cooling costs, or up to 10% on your total annual energy bill,” according to Katie Cody, Lowe’s Spokeswoman.  “Air leaks from windows and doors are easy to find by moving your hand around the frame. Applying weather stripping and caulk to these areas will help cut down on drafts.”121458_R_Z001
  3. Insulate your Water Heater. Wrap your hot water tank in a cozy 80 mm jacket. Water heater insulation blankets can cut heat loss by 75 %, and you’ll recoup the cost of it in less than 6 months! Also, turning down the temperature of the water heater to the “warm” setting (120 degrees F) to keep water warm, but not scolding, to save energy in the meantime.
  4. Get your Furnace inspected annually. Annual furnace or boiler inspects ensure that your systems are functioning properly. If your Furnace isn’t functioning properly and for example, your filters weren’t cleaned or replaced right and theres a blockage in your ventilation, then your heating system will have to work harder all winter, and your home could be filled with air that isn’t filtered properly as well. Make sure your system is in proper working order by getting your furnace inspected every year.
  5. Get a Humidifier for Your Home. Low humidity often makes us feel more cold than you would with the proper amount of humidity, causing you to turn up the thermostat. Get a humidifier and spend less on heat bills this cold season.
  6. Insulate your Doors. Stop energy loss from poor door insulation. Fit draught excluders or sealant strips around all exterior doors, and interior if needs be. Sealant strips can be bought cheaply from DIY stores and are very easy to fit – just like applying sticky tape. Don’t forget to get a brush trim for letter boxes, bigger gaps and the bottom of doors.The Vent in the Home Wall. Air Condition Vent
  7. Invest in a Programmable Thermostat. The programming power allows you to set when your heat kicks on and off, making it so you
    can turn off your heating at night or when you leave the house, and set it to turn back on only 30 minutes before you get home.
  8. Close your Vents. Close the vents to any unused rooms during winter so you aren’t heating rooms your not in.
  9. Insulate your Windows. Insulate your drafty windows with a Window Insulator Kit. Help keep warm air in through wrapping your windows with heat shrink window film.
  10. Get a Storm Door. Reduce your homes energy loss up to 50 percent by purchasing a storm door made with low-emissivity glass or coating.

When Should You Replace Your Boiler or Furnace?

Why is it so important to make certain that your home heat system is working efficiently?

For starters, if your home runs on oil or gas, the Energy Saving Trust believes it is responsible for 50% of your energy bills. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2009, the average PA home spent approximately 1,250 dollars annually on oil and gas in the home. The cost of your heat depends largely on the efficiency of your boiler or furnace. That is why it is important to replace your heating system when it is outdated, or not working properly.

In Western Pennsylvania, we use our heat about 5-7 months out of the year. And given the limited amount of sun we get in the Pittsburgh area, it’s probable that we use heat closer to 7 months of the year. Do you want to run a system the majority of the year that wastes gas or oil and raises your energy bills? We think not!
When to Replace your Boiler

*Tip: Ensure the longest lifespan for your heating system by keeping it maintained. Get your boiler or furnace serviced annually to make sure it is safe, and repair problems before they become too expensive to fix.

Find out if your boiler needs to be replaced by determining how efficient it is.

Every boiler and furnace has a rating associated with it. This rating is based on its energy efficiency or annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE). Both the age and type of heat system you have affects how efficient it is. However, AFUE percentages are hypothetical numbers based on calculations. Read below for a simple way to find out if your boiler or furnace has a low, middle, or high efficiency rating based on how it functions, and the components it has.

Low-efficiency heating systems:

  • Natural draft that creates a flow of combustion gases
  • Continuous pilot light
  • Heavy heat exchanger

These systems tend to be older, as some of these functions, like the continuous pilot light, are no longer allowed in modern boilers. On average, these systems have between a 56% to 70% AFUE rating.

Mid-efficiency heating systems:

  • Exhaust fan controls the flow of combustion air and combustion gases more precisely
  • Electronic ignition (no pilot light)
  • Compact size and lighter weight to reduce cycling losses
  • Small-diameter flue pipe

In general, these systems have between a 80% to 83% AFUE rating.

High-efficiency heating systems:

  • Condensing flue gases in a second heat exchanger for extra efficiency
  • Sealed combustion
  • Temperature control devices

High-efficiency heating systems with the above components usually have between a 90% to 98.5% AFUE rating. Temperature control devices make it so you can be exact with how and when you heat every area in your home.

Why You Should Have a Home Humidifier in Western PA

A healthy level of humidity in your home will make you healthier while making you home more comfortable. In Western PA, we turn on the heat in our homes for 5-7 months of the year. That’s a lot of time spent with the windows closed, and hot air coming out of our vents. A whole home humidifier is one of the most effective ways to add the proper amount of humidity to your home.

Cold winter air brought into your home and heated likely has less than ideal Relative Humidity (RH) levels. This is due to the fact that colder air is less capable of holding moisture, making it so the colder the air is outside, the less humidity it has the capacity to hold. This is why homes in Western PA that undergo 5-7 months of cold weather should have a humidifier. A humidifier allows you to combat the dry air coming into your home, and add the proper amount of moisture to it, helping to keep your home comfortable.

Make Your Home More Comfortable.

By putting the correct level of humidity back into the air of your home, you prevent problems that can occur from dry air, such as:Recommended Indorr Humdity Levels Relative to Outdoor Temperature

Dry air increases likelihood of getting sick. Viruses causing colds and the flu prosper in low humidity. Dry air has also been proven in studies to make you more susceptible to infection. Dry air can also exacerbate allergy and asthma symptoms.
Dry air causes home damage. Just like dry air causes your skin to crack, it also can cause walls, woodwork, and hardwood floors to crack as well.
Dry air can cause bigger energy bills. Low humidity often makes us feel more cold than you would with the proper amount of humidity, causing you to turn up the thermostat.
• Dry air makes you feel uncomfortable. From bloody noses, to dry

mouth and itchy eyes, sore throat, cracked, itchy skin, and static shocks, dry air is no fun for anyone.

Prevent the problems caused by dry air with a Home Humidifier installed by Top Notch, created by AprilaireAprilaire Humidifier Display Screen

Aprilaire makes the best Home Humidifiers on the market. Top Notch has been installing and maintaining Aprilaire Humidifiers into homes in the Western PA region for over 25 years. We stand by the brand because of its reliability as a humidifier manufacturer, and its top notch features. For example, only Aprilaire Humidifiers offers Fully Automatic Digital Humidifier Control. These humidifiers make it easy to maintain the correct RH for your home, ensuring that you always have the optimal indoor relative humidity in your home.

We supply compact units like the 65-pint unit for townhomes, condominiums, and homes with closet HVAC systems, up to 135-oint units, for very large homes, 4,000 square feet and up. If you live in the following counties and are looking for a top-notch home humidifier, look no further than Top Notch Heating and Cooling:

  • Allegheny County
  • Butler County
  • Somerset County
  • Armstrong County
  • Fayette County
  • Washington County
  • Beaver County
  • Greene County
  • Westmoreland County

Learn more about the humidifiers we carry on our website here: Aprilaire Products in Pittsburgh.


Now is the Time to Prep Your Furnace in Western PA

Professional Inspecting Furnace
Prep your home’s furnace or heat pump for winter soon because Winter Is Coming!! And it comes especially quickly in Western PA.  In November 2014, temperatures dropped down to 14 degrees! Make sure your home furnace is prepped for the inevitable dropping temperatures by getting your systems inspected and prepped sooner – rather than later!

Prepare for colder months before winter, and ensure your systems are up to par and working at full capacity by scheduling an appointment with Top Notch before the cold months occur. By getting your inspection and prep done now when we’re less busy, you will get more availability, rather than right before the first frost when we’re in our peak season and hustling all around the Pittsburgh area, from South Fayette, Shadyside, Squirrel Hill, Upper Saint Clair, Mount Lebanon, and more.

The first step you should take in preparing your furnace for winter months, is having a professional come in to inspect and clean it. The small fee of an inspection, will more than outweigh the cost increase an inefficient furnace could collect through sky high, wasteful energy bills.

Replace Furnace Air Filter

We suggest replacing your air filter, or rinsing your reusable filter. Next time you buy a filter, you might want to look into reusable filters, which don’t require replacing, but instead just rinsing. Some filters need to be replaced once a month, others, every three months. This depends on the quality of the filter, as well as other factors such as geographical location. For Top Notch customers located in Allegheny, Washington, Butler, Somerset, Armstrong, Fayette, Beaver, Greene, and Westmoreland Counties, we suggest checking your air filters monthly, and changing them when they look dirty.

Another item in your furnace or heat pump that we will review and potentially recommend replacing, is the humidifier pad. Your furnace’s humidifier pad should be replaced at least once a year.

After that, we’ll check other items, like your blower blades, blower belt, and potentially oil the blower motor (given it is an unsealed blower motor). We will look for loose belts, which can increase furnace operation time, and also frayed or cracked belts, which can stop your furnace from operating altogether. We also review your heat pumps’ return duct, condensation drain, filter, filter slot, and internal pieces within it to make sure everything is running well, and clean. We also may suggest cleaning the heating ducts, depending upon how they look, when you had renovations last, the last time you had them cleaned, etc. We change your humidistat from off to about 40-50% room humidity. We make sure that your blower doors are replaced properly to keep carbon monoxide away from the air that circulates throughout your Pittsburgh Home.

All in all, our thorough inspection of your system will ensure that it is in optimal shape to heat your home this winter, safeguarding your home and your family against dust, toxins, and other safety hazards. Save money on your energy bills and keep your home safe and comfortable by getting your furnace inspected and cleaned before use this year.

How Much Does Air Conditioning Installation Cost in Pittsburgh?

A common question that we get at Top Notch is ‘How much will it cost to install an air conditioning system in my home?’ Well, every home is different and therefore every air conditioning installation price is unique. Make sure you take a look at our last blog post that goes over ‘Professional AC Installation Criteria’. That way you will know what Top Notch Heating and Cooling takes into consideration when outfitting your home with the ideal equipment (and know when another company might not have all the information necessary to make an informed AC decision for your home as well).

Top Notch installs everything from Central Air Conditioning Systems, to Ductless Split Air Conditioning Systems, and Window Units. We do maintenance on all different makes and models of HVAC equipment, but stand by the following brands when it comes to new installations: Goodman and Airtemp; Sea Breeze, Fujitsu, and Daikin for mini split systems, as well as Crown, Utica, HTP for boilers.

Goodman Air Conditioning and Heating Pittsburgh

Goodman: The Goodman brand has been building air conditioning equipment since 1982. Given their decades of experience in the heating and cooling business, customers can be assured that Goodman brand air conditioning systems meet the highest industry standards and are installed by some of the best and most experienced professionals in the industry. Goodman offers a 10-year Parts Limited Warranty coverage on all functional parts, and a Lifetime Compressor Limited Warranty on the compressor in our air conditioning products, as well as similar warrantees are their heating products too.

AirTemp Air Conditioning Pittsburgh

AirTemp: Airtemp air conditioning systems are designed, assembled and repeatedly and thoroughly tested in North America. AirTemp only uses reliable components and proven technology, and builds quality into their products during every step of the manufacturing process. They have a 10-Year All-Parts Limited Warranty and also stand by a 1-Year Replacement Pledge (in case of compressor, or the heart of the system, failure).


Top Notch relies on a combination of things for our Top Notch Service. We have a strong team of skilled, experienced professionals that install and maintain our top of the line products, which are backed by strong warranties. This winning combination and our fare prices make Top Notch a reliable source for your HVAC needs.

At Top Notch, we steer clear of partnerships with dealers such as Lennox, Carrier, Bryant, and Trane…. Partnering with dealers makes HVAC companies inflate customer prices and promote their products, which may not be the best for the specific needs of the customer at hand. By staying independent, Top Notch is able to choose the nest, and most correct product for the job at hand, and charge customers the proper fee, without having to increase it to pay off the partnership of a distributor.

In general, Air Conditioning Installation Cost with Top Notch starts at $2800. Depending on size, efficiency, and the number of bells and whistles required for the job, the price goes up from there. When you are looking for a company to install HVAC systems in your home, call around to different companies and get pricing and ask them what criteria they use to decide what option is best for your home, and which brand product they will use. And make sure you start with us, here at Top Notch.


Professional Air Conditioning Installation Criteria in Pittsburgh

goodman HVAC units
A frequent question we get at Top Notch Heating and Cooling is, “How much does it cost to get a new air conditioning system installed in my home?” This is a hard question to answer, given that every home is unique, which in turn makes every air conditioning installation different. Air Conditioning Installation is a big purchase and decision and is therefore heavily considered. Most people looking to install a new air conditioning system will buy a good quality system that lasts longer, uses less energy, and therefore pans out over the course of the years they plan to spend in their home.

The first question you have to answer is: ‘What’s the best type of Air Conditioner for My Home?

Your home is unique. From its components, to its size, location, your style of living, your preferences, heat loss, and so on. Your air conditioning system will be specific to you. Below we will try our best to break down how we assess which AC system is best for your home, dependant on your situation. Below lists how we, as HVAC professionals, arrive at the expert advice we give to the unique homeowners that we serve in and around the Pittsburgh area.

Measuring Home Size (BTUs)
The size of your home is a major factor in determining the best air conditioning system. AC units are measured in British thermal units, (BTUs). They are measured by the amount of heat they remove in a home in one hour. The bigger your house, the more cooling power it will need. Get too large of a system, and it will cycle on and off which created a loud sound and also wastes energy. Get too small a system, and your AC will run all the time and inefficiently cool your home.

The unique build of your home and how you use it will greatly affect which Air Conditioning System fits you best. Answering questions such as: Is your basement finished? How well is your attic insulated? How do you currently heat your home? Do you want the capability to cool some rooms and not others? Etc.

Calculated Heat Loss
A multitude of factors determines how much heat-loss your home has; this information helps decide its’ air conditioning needs. Your geographic location, area of ceilings, floors, and walls exposed to outside temperatures, the number and quality of windows and doors, the perimeter length of Slab on grade floors, your homes volume, and internal heat gains (from warm bodies, lights, appliances, etc) are all factors that make up your calculated heat loss.

Additional Considerations
At Top Notch, we also factor in such things as; the materials that make up your home, when it was built, past duct infrastructure, and more. We also look for problem areas such as preexisting duct leaks and seal problems, as well as potential draft locations, cheap windows, etc.

Unit Load Calculations
An air conditioning contractor will do a load calculation to determine the proper air conditioning unit for your home. We use a variety of computations to properly analyze your home’s cooling characteristics. We do this both for the whole house, and/or room by room to help determine duct size and assess all needs of the home thoroughly.

Would you like to get your home assessed by a Top Notch Cooling and Heating Professional? Let us help you find the best cooling solution for your unique home and lifestyle. Serving homeowners in and around the Pittsburgh area including:
• Allegheny County
• Butler County
• Somerset County
• Armstrong County
• Fayette County
• Washington County
• Beaver County
• Greene County
• Westmoreland County

Give us a Call today at 412-381-0598 or send us an email on our contact page. We look forward to serving you and making your home nice and cool for the rest of summer!

Stay tuned for our next blog post that will answer the question: How Much Does Air Conditioning Installation Cost for an Average Pittsburgh Home?

Summer Savings Tips for Homeowners

Homeowner expenses

High Summer Temperatures outside often mean higher electricity bills to keep your homes cool inside. Below are some simple tips to help cut down on energy use and lower your electric bill at the same time. Also, don’t hesitate to reach out to a Top Notch Technician if you want to chat with an expert directly about maintaining a more energy efficient home.

Air Conditioning

Make sure your Air Conditioning System is running at Top Notch this Summer by keeping your air filters updated, assessing air and water leaks, checking your compressors health, and fixing a noisy AC. Read our blog post, ‘How to Maintain and Troubleshoot your Air Conditioning System’ to learn how to check and maintain the items lists above. If you didn’t get your system inspected prior to the season starting and you’re running into issues now, not to worry, a Top Notch Technician can still inspect your system and make sure it’s running at full capacity for the second half on Summer, no problem!

should you turn off AC when not home?


Should you turn your AC off when your not home to save energy?

Yes. People often think it takes more energy to re-cool a room than to just keep the AC running at a higher temperature all day, but that is simply not true. Turning off your AC unit saves energy. Running it at a higher temperature all day, only turns things on and off at different rates, and doesn’t use so much less energy that it is more worth it to leave it on. When your asleep, or away for the weekend or at work for the day, turn off your AC. When you come home, turn it back on. Programmable thermostats are great for this purpose.

Use of Appliances

Oven – An easy way to keep your home cool and use less electricity in the Summer, is to use the oven and other heat generating appliances more sparingly. Cook dinners that don’t require use of the oven. (Here’s 100+ No Oven Recipes).

Washer/Dryer – Only do loads of laundry when they are full. Use drying racks instead of the dryer. Wash in cold water.

use ceiling fan with AC

Fans – Use your bathroom exhaust fan after showering to remove heat and humidity. Use ceiling fans when in rooms to circulate air better.

Lighting – Turn off and unplug lights/appliances when you aren’t using them. Buy energy efficient bulbs. Check out Consumer Reports ‘Choosing the Best Energy-Saving Lightbulbs’ to see how your bulbs compare, and what you should buy next time your bulbs burn out!

Save energy and money by following these energy saving tips! Both your wallet – and the environment, will thank you for your decreased use of energy! Here’s to a cool and comfortable Summer while using less energy! Share these tips with the homeowners you know, and help them save and decrease their energy usage too!


Why You Should Hire Professionals for Air Conditioning Installation

Everyone likes to save money. Sometimes, that involves cutting corners. This tactic for saving works on many things. But sometimes cutting corners in an effort to save a few bucks just isn’t worth it in the end… Like when your daughter tried to cut her hair and ended up with a mullet, or when the dollar store trash bags made a mess in your kitchen. Somethings, like Air Conditioner Installation, should be left to the experts because in the end, spending those extra bucks will end up saving you money in the long run.How Does an Air Conditioning System Work?


A recent NIST study has gathered Air Conditioning systems operate inefficiently and waste significant energy due to a variety of installation errors. These set up errors range from improper refrigerant charge, incorrect airflow, oversized equipment to leaky ducts. These errors can raise your energy bill by as much as 30%. That is why professionals like the Top Notch team should install your Air Conditioning System, and get it set up right the first time. (Read the full NIST study to find out exactly how much energy can be wasted through insufficiently set up air conditioning equipment. )

Professional Air Conditioning Installation

A major strength of the team here at Top Notch Heating and Cooling, is the amount of experience we have in the industry. Top Notch has served over 20,000 customers and has been serving the Pittsburgh area for the last 20 years. With this experience, we are able to make educated decisions with homeowners about which system is best for them given the unique area, home, and owners. We find the air conditioning unit that fits all of your criteria best. Then we perform a heating and cooling load calculation, which helps us determine the correct unit size, which is important for the systems functionality, and the amount of energy it uses. Many factors about your home help us make this determination, such as: foundation type, type/ color of roof, insulation values in walls/floors/ ceilings, window type/location/quantity, size of home, and more.

Your air conditioning system is a major piece of equipment that you use regularly and for many years. Remember that somethings should be left to the professionals, and for good reason. Save yourself money in the long run by getting your system installed the right way, the first time.

If you live in or around the Pittsburgh area and need help with your heating or cooling systems, give us a call at 412.381.0598 or send us a message through the Top Notch Air website. We look forward to serving you and saving you money.


How to Maintain and Troubleshoot your Air Conditioning System

Air Conditiong Maintenance Allegheny County

Keep your Air Conditioning Systems running well with the tips and troubleshooting answers listed below. Maintaining your AC will keep your systems performing at Top Notch, help you save money by using less energy, and stop major problems from occurring by assessing the smaller ones. Protect your home investment and read on to learn about how and why to check your system, assess issues, and ultimately uphold the value of your air conditioning system. Read on for 5 tips to help you maintain and prevent problems with your air conditioning system.

  1. Update Air Filter. The top cause of HVAC system malfunction is dirty filters. Also, those dirty filters make it harder for air to pass through, which causes the system to use more energy in pushing the air through all of the debris. If that isn’t enough to make you change your filter, then think about it this way: Dirty filters mean dirty air ducts which means the house is dirty and full of allergens. Keep your filters clean to avoid more problems, and keep the air in your house clean.
  2. Assess Air Leaks. If your system used to work better and make the air cooler and it isn’t anymore, then one of the many reasons that can occur is from leakage. Make sure your window units are sealed properly, (Tip: follow Top Notch on Facebook for tips on how to find leaks and more useful info!) and if they are leaking air, try stuffing foam in between the device and window frame. For central air-conditioning, check for leaks around duct connections. For ductwork, you can use foil tape to seal tiny gaps, and duct mastic for larger leaks.
  3. Check Compressor Health. Put your central air compressor and condensor on the north or east side of your house to keep it out of direct sunlight as much as possible. Place it in a clear area, 24 inches away from anything else to keep it running at its best. Troubleshooting compressor problems: If your compressor starts and the fan does not, then the condensor fan motor could be the issue. If the fan starts, and the compressor does not, your refrigerant could be low or the compressor might be bad.
  4. Assess Water Leaks. If your Air Conditioner is leaking water, then it may be due to a clogged tube, or due to a problem with the condensation pump. If ice is blocking the tube, then clean or change your filters and/or check refrigerant levels. If your refrigerant is low, a Top Notch technician will gladly refill it for you. If it’s not due to a tube, make sure the condensation pump is plugged into a working outlet, and then pour water into its collector, and then see if the pump starts. If it doesn’t start or does but doesn’t empty the water, its stuck or broken.
  5. Fix Noisy AC. Most newer air handlers have direct-drive motors, but older units may be belt driven. Squealing sounds can occur from air conditioning systems reliant on belts. See our previous blog post, to make sure a repair on an older machine is the right move, or if you need to prepare for the Freon Phase Out which may prove your system obsolete in light of new government changes for refrigerants. If your direct-drive motor is making noises that sound like squealing or grinding, call Top Notch – the motors bearings are probably shot.

If you have a question about maintenance or troubleshooting your AC unit or system that is not listed above, reach out to the Top Notch Heating and Cooling Experts. We service areas in and area Pittsburgh, including but not limited to homes in Allegheny County, Washington County, and some of Beaver and Fayette counties.

Find out more about Top Notch on the Top Notch website.

Air Conditioning System Update: Plan Ahead for the Freon Phase Out

Air Conditioning regulation is in the process of making changes that you need to know about. Be aware of the updates you are going to have to make in the next few years and make the most cost effective decisions by understanding the changes and how they will effect you, your family, and your current air conditioning systems with help from Top Notch Heating and Cooling of Pittsburgh.

No more Freon in Air Conditioning Units

The Freon Phase Out:

In 2010, air conditioning manufacturers discontinued the production of equipment that utilize R-22 Refrigerant, also known as Freon.

Prior to 2010, Freon based Air Conditioning Systems were the popular AC Unit, used for decades in residential homes and for commercial businesses. However, in recent years we have learned that Freon is a fluorocarbon pollutant that removes the ozone layer, which as you know, acts as a protective layer against harmful ultraviolent rays from the sun. If you currently use equipment that recharges with Freon, you can continue to recharge your equipment up until 2020. Meaning that you will absolutely need to get new equipment that does not rely on Freon after January 1st, 2020, as it will not be available thereafter. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has ruled to completely stop production of HCFC-22 by the year 2020.

So Why Upgrade before you absolutely have to in 2020?

  1. As Freon becomes more difficult to obtain, it will also become more expensive. In 2014, 51 million pounds of Freon were produced for consumption. In 2015, that numbered dropped to 22 million. By 2020, that number will drop to zero.
  2. You are hurting the ozone layer and quality of life for all of its inhabitants by using a fluorocarbon pollutant that has been classified as harmful to the environment.
  3. There is an alternate cooling unit, R-410A (brand name Puron), which is just as efficient as Freon at cooling and does not harm the environment like Freon. New air conditioning systems use Puron, which is currently about half the cost of Freon, which will become increasingly more expensive until its deletion in 2020.

Update your Air Conditioning Unit before 2020

See what KDKA has to say about the Freon to Puron Phase Over: ‘Switch To New Refrigerant Likely To Boost Cost For Consumers

Top Notch supports the Airtemp and Goodman brands for residential air conditioning systems. All Top Notch installed Air Conditioners utilize refrigerant R-410A, specialty warrantee options, and high performance and quality products that Top Notch stands by and that our customers can rely on. Learn more about Top Notch Cooling Services on our Cooling Page.


When, Why, and How You Should Get Your AC Inspected This Spring

Air Conditioning Inspection

Before using your air conditioner, you should make sure that air can flow through it freely and most efficiently. This preventative measure can improve the air quality within your home, and save you money in the long run.

So when exactly should you get your air-conditioning inspected? A tell tale sign its time to get your system inspected are the budding of plants and flowers which mark the start of Spring and the warmer months to come. Other times you may want to get your AC system inspected are from sensory clues that there may be an issue. Sometimes AC problems are visually noticeable. Here are some Ductwork problem you might be able to identify through sensory clues:

  1. Peeling duct tape and loosely fitting seams
  2. Dirt marks that signify escaping air
  3. Damaged ducts that look flat or torn
  4. Dents in the system itself
  5. Damage from plant growth on the outside of compressors
  6. Bent condenser unit fins that obstruct airflow
  7. Thermostat not working property or displaying incorrect information
  8. Warm air coming through the air vents when on a cool setting
  9. Different temperatures in different rooms
  10. Outdoor unit making strange noises

So why should you get your AC inspected? Because inspections more than pay for themselves in improved energy efficiency, which ultimately saves money through lower utility bills and making your AC unit last you a longer time. Inspection of your AC unit can lower your monthly energy bill by up to 15%! That’s huge! AC inspection can prevent your AC unit from breaking down as well by addressing small problems, before they become big, costly problems.

When a TopNotch team member comes out to your home to inspect your AC unit, we check your systems connections, refrigerant levels, operating temperatures, return and supply lines, operating pressures, as well as the motor, blower, drain line, and coils to make sure they are functioning properly. We also clean the filters, connection points, motor, and coils, too, with out current promotional offer listed below.

In the least, one thing that you can do yourself to help maintain the efficiency of your AC, is replace or clean its filters on a regular basis. Clogged, dirty filters block airflow and increase your air conditioners energy consumption. Dirty filters can also cause other, bigger issues, like bringing dirty into the evaporator coil, which lowers the coil’s heat-absorbing capacity and ultimately makes your AC less effective.

Here’s an interesting fact about AC Inspection:

Did you know that in the United Kingdom, you get fined if you fail to get your air-conditioning inspected at least once every 5 years?

TopNotch recommends that you get your air-conditioning inspected at least once a year, to keep your systems working at peak performance. In fact, at TopNotch, we have a special! Get your air-conditioning inspected and cleaned for only $58! Find out about more Top Notch specials on the Top Notch Promotion Page.


Installing a Furnace in Pittsburgh – When Installing a Furnace Remember that Sizing Matters

Before installing a furnace in your home, make sure the furnace has been properly sized for its space. Finding an appropriately sized furnace for your home or property can be challenging. Individual furnaces come in a wide range of sizes and can be either too small or too large for a particular space.

The home’s size is the first determining factor of what size furnace will be needed. However, it’s not the only factor to consider. The “heat load” of the space to be heated must also be taken into consideration. This means knowing the required amount of heat needed for a desirable comfort level. Things that factor in here are whether or not the home is an open space with a few large rooms or a closed space with many small rooms.

Another consideration is the home’s build and construction. If the home is brick, it will be more insulated more than a home with siding. The home’s orientation must also be considered – for example, if the home faces south it will generally get more heat from the sun in winter months. A townhome nestled between neighboring properties with little space between each house will be better protected from winter winds.

Properly sizing your furnace will make a substantial difference in how effectively it works. Balance is needed.

If Your Furnace is Too Small…
Obviously, if a furnace is undersized, it won’t properly heat the space. Certain rooms will be colder than others since an inadequate level of heat is being supplied. To reach the chosen thermostat setting, the furnace will practically have to run constantly, which doesn’t necessarily make an undersized furnace cost-effective.

If Your Furnace is Too Large…
Going big isn’t the solution to everything. While it may be preposterous to think you could have “too much” heat, a furnace that is too large will elevate the interior temperature so rapidly that the unit will shut down before it completes a full heating cycle. This is known as short cycling. A furnace that short cycles is overstressed and will generally have a much shorter lifespan, incur more repairs, and raise electric bills since it will drain more power seeing as furnaces use the most energy when they first kick-on.

Why You Need a Pittsburgh HVAC Company…

Avoiding this Goldilocks dilemma is easy when you work with a reputable Pittsburgh HVAC company with professional installers that will size your furnace utilizing a procedure known as a heat load calculation. Through this method, the HVAC technician will determine your home’s heat load and match it to an appropriately sized furnace. They’ll then swiftly and effectively complete the furnace installation while you relax.

Let TopNotch Heating and Cooling be your dependable heating service provider in Pittsburgh, PA. Pittsburgh-area residents have trusted Bill Reilly and his team of HVAC professionals for over 20 years and we have an A+ rating on Angie’s List. Contact us at 412-381-0598 or 724-693-0598 today.

Furnace Air Filters Pittsburgh – Start Breathing Better By Improving Indoor Air Quality

We can’t see it, but it’s all around us. It’s a critical component to our day-to-day lives, yet it’s all too easy to never think of it or completely take it for granted. We’re talking about the air we breathe – both outside and indoors.

The air we breathe impacts both our health and overall quality of life. We feel better and healthier when we’re breathing in air that is pure and clean. Nobody gets any relief when they step outside for a breath of fresh air only to be smacked in the face by emissions from a passing truck, bus, or a nearby factory. Yuck.

Nobody knows this more than life-long Pittsburgh residents who still remember a time when today’s “Most Livable City” had the dubious distinction of being known as the “Smoky City.” And, if you’re new here, or too young to understand, all it takes is one look at an old black-and-white photo of a downtown Pittsburgh street so smoky that its street lights are on in the middle of daylight. Need further proof? Look at the still soot-stained old buildings in downtown Pittsburgh for further evidence.

But air quality isn’t something that only affects us when we step outside. It’s also something we have to consider when we’re at home or our workplace. Newer buildings today are airtight because they’re built to be energy efficient. This means fresh air outside can’t get in and bad air indoors stays inside. This is why it’s important to consider the quality of our indoor air, too. There are a number of air filters and cleaners available that significantly reduce pollutants and improve indoor air quality.

Limiting indoor pollutants is especially important if anyone in your home suffers from respiratory ailments, allergies, or similar illnesses that complicate breathing. Make sure any air conditioning or furnace unit has good filters. There are even UV lights that can be installed that purify indoor air, improving indoor air quality tremendously.

Call TopNotch Heating and Cooling at 412-381-0598 or 724-693-0598 if you’d like to hear about our solutions for improving indoor air quality.

When Is It Time to Replace Air Conditioning Ducts

When Is It Time to Replace Air Conditioning Ducts?

It’s likely the largest appliance in your home. But aside from changing a filter every so often, adjusting the thermostat, and taking refuge in that cool house of yours on a hot humid summer’s day, most people don’t think very much about their air conditioning system. Until the moment it stops working.

Quite often, we’ll get a call from someone irritated that certain rooms of their home are hotter or colder than others. When we stop by their home, and conclude that nothing is wrong with the air conditioning unit itself, we’ll ask if their ductwork has ever been inspected or tested for leaks. More than a few homeowners have absolutely no idea.

Although it’s hidden throughout your home, it’s critical that your ductwork is in good condition. Leaky ducts can lead to air that is either too dry in winter months or too humid in the summertime.

Duct work that is in poor condition can also be a health hazard, particularly for anyone with allergies or asthma, since particles pulled from the attic will lead to the presence of excessive dust throughout your home.

If you’re wondering if now is the time to replace air conditioning ducts, please call TopNotch Heating and Cooling at 412-381-0598 or 724-693-0598 to have your ductwork’s condition inspected and tested.

Start Breathing Better By Improving Indoor Air Quality

Start Breathing Better By Improving Indoor Air Quality

We can’t see it, but it’s all around us. It’s a critical component to our day-to-day lives, yet it’s all too easy to never think of it or completely take it for granted. We’re talking about the air we breathe – both outside and indoors.

The air we breathe impacts both our health and overall quality of life. We feel better and healthier when we’re breathing in air that is pure and clean. Nobody gets any relief when they step outside for a breath of fresh air only to be smacked in the face by emissions from a passing truck, bus, or a nearby factory. Yuck.

Nobody knows this more than life-long Pittsburgh residents who still remember a time when today’s “Most Livable City” had the dubious distinction of being known as the “Smoky City.” And, if you’re new here, or too young to understand, all it takes is one look at an old black-and-white photo of a downtown Pittsburgh street so smoky that its street lights are on in the middle of daylight. Need further proof? Look at the still soot-stained old buildings in downtown Pittsburgh for further evidence.

But air quality isn’t something that only affects us when we step outside. It’s also something we have to consider when we’re at home or our workplace. Newer buildings today are airtight because they’re built to be energy efficient. This means fresh air outside can’t get in and bad air indoors stays inside. This is why it’s important to consider the quality of our indoor air, too. There are a number of air filters and cleaners available that significantly reduce pollutants and improve indoor air quality.

Limiting indoor pollutants is especially important if anyone in your home suffers from respiratory ailments, allergies, or similar illnesses that complicate breathing. Make sure any air conditioning or furnace unit has good filters. There are even UV lights that can be installed that purify indoor air, improving indoor air quality tremendously.

Call TopNotch Heating and Cooling at 412-381-0598 or 724-693-0598 if you’d like to hear about our solutions for improving indoor air quality.

6 Simple Steps to Prepare Your HVAC System for the Winter Season

6 Simple Steps to Prepare Your HVAC System for the Winter Season


During the winter season, Pittsburgh is a winter wonderland. Just last month, we were gripped with sub-zero temperatures and the cold weather conditions continue. With temperatures still on the low, many of us find our utility bills going way up. This is mostly because of heating costs. But if you were able to prepare your HVAC system early on and maintained it properly, you can bring down your energy usage plus make your HVAC system last longer.

The winter season may  be almost over (we dearly hope that it won’t extend even for a day) but winter comes every year. If you were not able to prepare your HVAC system this year, here are some tips on how you can prepare it for the next winter season.

How to Prepare Your HVAC Unit for the Colder Months

Perform Checks on Your HVAC System

Many HVAC systems can last for as long as 2 decades before needing replacement. You should closely examine your HVAC unit to see if it is still efficient and properly functioning. If you find that it is no longer functioning as it should, give a Pittsburgh HVAC company a call and have it replaced with an HVAC unit that suits your home’s needs. For sure this will seem like a large cost initially but in the long run, an HVAC unit that is functioning properly and efficiently will save you money plus it will make your home warmer and safer.

And Get the Checks Done Ahead of the Winter Season

See to it that you give your HVAC system a check ahead of the winter season. You would want to avoid finding out that you need a new unit during the winter season. Remember that the winter season is the busiest for most Pittsburgh HVAC companies. You can end up waiting for days in your home trying to bear the freezing temperatures before you get someone to install a new HVAC unit in your home.

Remember to Clean Or Change Your Filter When Needed

Cleaning the filter every month will help keep your HVAC unit functioning at optimum level. Your HVAC unit will at one point need a new filter. Sometimes all your HVAC unit needs to start working properly again is a new filter. You might want to consider getting a reusable filter as with just a good rinse you can use it again just like new.

Say Goodbye to Your Old Thermostat

Older thermostat models that use mercury can give inaccurate readings. You may think that you have set your home temperature to what you think is warm enough but with a mercury thermostat it usually means that the heat is more than the temperature you were aiming for. This means that you are using unnecessary electricity which in money language translates to higher bills. A digital thermostat is more ideal since it reads temperature levels accurately. You can also program it so the heating is turned on before you get back home and turned off automatically when you leave your  home.

Don’t Forget to Clean and Inspect the Heating Ducts

For your HVAC unit to function efficiently and give your home a fresh, clean air, don’t forget to regularly clean the heating ducts. You should also make sure that you check the ducts for punctures, dents, and disconnected parts. Any damage in the ducts can raise your bills up. You would not like the idea of wasted warm air blowing away most of your hard-earned money. You should also see to it that your heating ducts are properly insulated to avoid air from escaping.

Consult a Pittsburgh HVAC Company or Contractor

If you don’t know how to perform the necessary checks for your HVAC unit or you’re having a  hard time doing these checks on your own, or perhaps you just don’t have the time for it, it is best to consult a Pittsburgh HVAC company or contractor for this job. Aside from performing these maintenance checks, these professionals can also inspect the belts, motors and electrical switches of your HVAC system.  It is best to schedule an appointment with them before the cold winds start blowing as most  companies have busy schedules during the winter season.

Before Pittsburgh becomes a winter wonderland next year, remember to get your HVAC system ready!

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The Most Common Culprits of Costly Heating Repairs

The Most Common Culprits of Costly Heating Repairs


Come winter time, Pittsburgh experiences sub freezing temperatures. But thanks to properly functioning heating systems, many homes and offices are kept warm and toasty. However, here’s one thing to keep in mind – Your heating system is not immortal. Just like any other equipment, it is bound to wear out and stop functioning properly. There are hundreds of reasons as to why a home or office heating system breaks down and most of these reasons are very common to both home and office owners. Good thing is there are professional Pittsburgh heating repair companies or contractors that can fix this problem.

To avoid costly heating repairs and keep your heating system functioning properly preventative maintenance is your best weapon. In addition to this, being able to identify and spot common heating problems, can save you a hefty amount of money in the long run.

Here are some of the more common culprits of heating  problems.

  • Airflow trouble – Improper air flow is caused by bearing, belts, and fan motors that are already worn out. If your furnace is overheating or you are experiencing improper heating controls, this can indicate that your unit has air flow problems,

  • Basic mechanical wear and tear – Your furnace or your heating system relies on numerous mechanical components that are essential for it to function properly. Wear and tear on any of these mechanical components can cause your heating system to perform poorly. Poor airflow, overheating of the furnace, and improper heating controls are telltale signs of this heating repair problem.

  • Dirty or clogged air filters – This is perhaps the culprit that results to more heating problems than any other issue. If you do not clean your filters regularly or haven’t changed them at all, you are bound to run into some heating issues. The irony here is this issue is the cheapest and easiest to fix. Clogged and dirty filters causes your heating system to work harder as it should since airflow is restricted. You end up having to bear the not so toasty temperatures in your home and a higher electricity bill. If you want to avoid this, make it a point to clean your filters at least once a month or have them replaced when needed. It’s a very simple solution that will save you a lot of trouble.

  • Not enough heating – Here’s one thing that all homeowners or office owners must not fail to do. Monitor your heating system from the very first day you use it. If you don’t regularly  monitor your heating system it can cut down your system’s general life expectancy or worse breakdown really early on. Clogged filters, faulty thermostats, and musty odors coming from the system are early signs of neglect that can lead to insufficient heating or worse.

  • Thermostat malfunction – Your thermostat is what controls and determines how much heat is produced by the heating system and when heat is needed. If your thermostat is malfunctioning it can cause intermittent heating, not enough warm air circulating throughout your home or office or worse, no heat at all.

  • No preventative maintenance – As mentioned earlier, you can save yourself a lot of heating problems and hefty costs of heating repairs by doing preventative maintenance. However, not many homeowners give importance to this. Most of us only react when there is already a problem. We can put the blame on our “reactive thinking on many things such as a busy schedule, forgetfulness, or we can even say we are just born this way, programmed to react, but we can change this. You can put reminders on your calendar or your smart phone for preventative maintenance of your heating system. By constantly practicing preventive maintenance you’ll get used to the idea and  it will become a part of your regular routine. If you don’t  have the knowledge, time or you want to make sure that everything is done properly, you can call on a professional Pittsburgh heating repair company or contractor to take care  of the preventative maintenance of your heating unit.

Keep your home or office warm all winter long and avoid costly heating repair bills by ensuring that your heating system is functioning properly. Call on a professional Pittsburgh heating repair company or contractor to fix heating issues before the cold season starts. And don’t forget to schedule a preventative maintenance on your heating system.

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How to Keep Your Home Warm for the Winter

How to Keep Your Home Warm for the Winter

Pittsburgh HVAC

With our winter season getting colder and colder keeping warm will remain our biggest concern. So how can you make your feel home warmer this cold (and still getting colder) season? The obvious answer is to crank up your heater. But this would also mean your bills climbing up the roof. Here are some winterization tips that would keep your home warm without drilling a hole in your pocket.

Tips for Keeping Your Home Warm During Winter

1. Cover Door Drafts

Did you know that drafts can actually waste 5% to 30% of your energy use? That is a staggering figure and this figure comes from the U.S. Department of Energy. So imagine cranking up your heater only to lose 5% -30% of the heat. Your drafty doors can be the very reason that you need to keep on turning up your heater in the first place. So how do you do this? Here’s a simple solution that comes from the Great Depression times – the draft snake. Simply roll up some towels and place one under each of your drafty doors.

2. Remember to Clean (or Change) Furnace Filters

Many of us forget about cleaning (or even replacing those that need replacing) furnace filters at least once a month during the winter season. Here’s why cleaning furnace filters is very important. Filters filled with dirt and debris block off airflow therefore restricting the furnace’s heating capability which in turn increases energy demand.  To avoid forgetting about your furnace filters, mark a day in your calendar for cleaning them or set up an alarm on your smartphone.

3. Install Storm Doors and Windows

Storm doors can seal drafts and bring down air flow which brings up energy efficiency to 45%. Another great benefit of storm doors is that they allow light and ventilation to come in your home. When choosing your storm doors, it is best to opt for Energy Star-certified models.

When the cold, cold winds start huffing and puffing, you will be thankful (not to mention all warm)  that you had your storm windows out of your shed or attic and already installed. See to it that each of your storm windows are safely shut as they won’t help that much in keeping your home warm if you left them in their up position.

4. Regular Tune-up of Your Heating System is a Must

To make sure that your heating system is running without a hitch, a regular tune-up is in order. You need to make sure that your furnace is kept clean, well-lubricated and adjusted properly. Not only will a regular tune-up ensure that your home is a warm haven during the colder months, it will also cut down energy use and give you up to 5% savings on heating costs.

Here’s the great news. Most utilities actually offer a free yearly check-ups done by skilled and qualified technicians. The trick is to set up an appointment early on as HVAC crews are in high demand once the colder months start.

Remember these tips so your home stays warm and toasty when the weather gets icy.

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Tips to Stay Warm During the Cold

Tips to Stay Warm During the Cold

Warm Pittsburgh Living Room

When is this cold weather going to let up? Many of us are wishing for the spring season already. We all could use some warmth. But with temperatures still dipping low, we would have to think of ways to keep ourselves warm.

Here are 9 simple tips on how you can keep warm this cold season.

Nine Tips to Keep Warm This Winter

1. Wear layers of dry clothing. Layers and layers of dry clothing will help keep your body warm. Wearing several thin layers of clothing does a better job in keeping you warm than just having one thick layer as the layers trap in warm air.

2. Wear mittens. Mittens actually provide more protection from the cold than gloves. You can however, wear mittens and then cover them up with a pair of gloves.

3. Go inside if you get wet. Don’t delay going inside and changing into dry clothes when you get wet. By wearing wet clothes, your body temperature will drop (and therefore, make you feel cold). If you anticipate getting wet, or even sweating, we highly recommend carrying extra dry clothes through your day.

4. Cover all body parts when heading outdoors. Before you turn the knob and bolt out the door, make sure that all your body parts are well-covered. Remember that wind chills of 15 – 30 below can get your exposed skin frostbitten in just a matter of minutes (which during this winter, is not far off!). So before you run outside, be sure to cover up as much as possible.

5. Keep moving. Don’t just sit still or lie around in bed. It is rather tempting. But to keep your body warm, try to keep on moving when you are indoors. Avoid sitting still for more than 1 hour. If you are having difficulties walking around your home, doing chair-based exercises is a good idea. The simple act of moving your arms and legs and even getting your toes to wiggle can rev up circulation.

6. Wear warm clothes for bed. With the temperatures continuing to drop, thermal underwear, socks, and a hat can keep you warm as you sleep in. A hat in bed? The cold weather calls for some unconventional yet functional fashion. Did you know that you lose a lot of heat via your head? A hat can keep that heat in. So a hat in bed? With the freezing temperatures continuing to rage, we say “Oh yes”!

7.  Eat well. Make sure that you are eating enough during the cold days of winter. Hot meals and hot drinks should be in order. Soup up and drink up hot drinks to keep warm. Make it a point to have at least one hot meal each day and drink lots of hot drinks throughout the day. Make sure that your meals include a wide range of fruits and vegetables so that your body is receiving essential nutrients.

8. Have a hot drink before putting the night cap on. It will also be a good idea to have a hot drink in  a flask by your bedside. Remember that as you sleep, your body temperature drops and you might wake up feeling cold. So the flask in your bedside with a hot drink can be handy.

9. Keep your home warm. Cover all drafty doors and install storm doors and windows to keep your home all warm and toasty. Make sure that your home heating system is properly running. A regular tune-up can ensure this.

Stay warm in this freezing weather with these simple tips!

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