What Do I Do If My Furnace Runs Out of Oil?

What Do I Do If My Furnace Runs Out of Oil?

One of the most important assets in your Northbrook, Illinois, home is the furnace, and in winter it becomes the focal point of your comfort. However, an oil-burning furnace that runs empty is often doing more harm than good. Don’t allow your furnace to run low on oil as this can impact your health as well as your comfort.

How Does an Oil-Burning Furnace Work?

Before you worry about your furnace running out of oil, it’s important to understand its inner workings. To create warm air, an oil furnace has a pump that transports the fuel from the tank to the burner. Here, it combines with air and turns into a fine mist that is then fed to the burner and eventually ignited in a combustion chamber. Without oil, this process isn’t possible, and your furnace won’t work.

How Will I Know If I’ve Run Out of Oil?

You just won’t be able to get your heater going. As a general rule, it’s a good idea to keep your oil at no less than a quarter of your tank’s capacity and to schedule regular deliveries. But if you do find yourself wondering if you’ve run out of oil, give us a call. Not only will we help you with your question, but we will ensure that your furnace is in tip-top condition. We’ll also give you an idea of when to schedule future deliveries and ensure that you’re prepared for the cold northern Illinois winter.

What Should I Do If I Run Out of Oil?

If you’ve run out of oil, reorder as soon as possible. Demand can be very high during winter, and deliveries can take time. That’s why it’s important to stick to a regular delivery and maintenance schedule. Winters in the Chicago area tend to be unpredictable and can even last well into late March or early April.

How Do I Restart My Furnace After Getting the Oil?

On many modern furnaces, restarting the system is as simple as pushing an ignition button to bleed the burning mechanism. However, older furnaces don’t have that benefit and require manual bleeding to restart the heating process. When this happens, the best bet is to call us to get the job done. If you’re thinking of handling the manual bleeding on your own, just remember that there are many complex electrical and heating components. Unless you are pro or have experience with this task, you can suffer serious injury if you’re not sure how to handle this aspect of your heating system.

How Do I Manually Bleed My Oil Furnace?

It’s highly recommended that you hire a professional to restart and manually bleed your furnace, but if you want to know how it’s done, here’s a step-by-step guide that takes you through our usual process.

To start, we turn off your furnace, which usually shuts down when you press the restart button. Once it’s off, our technician locates the bleeder valve near the fuel pump and inserts a 1/4-inch nylon tubing. The furnace is then restarted, causing the oil to flow through the tube and out into a container. Once the oil comes out steadily, a quick tightening of the bleeder valve typically restarts the burner, and the furnace is ready to go.

When your furnace runs out of oil it quickly becomes a cause for concern and turns your home into a virtual igloo. To avoid running out, and to ensure comfort and peace of mind, don’t allow the oil in the tank go below the recommended level and schedule regular deliveries and maintenance checks. Give Roberts Heating and Air Conditioning a call today at 847-562-5292 so our technicians can thoroughly assess your system. We will make sure that your oil furnace is in perfect working order and have you in total comfort all winter long.

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3 Ways To Seal Your Home’s Thermal Envelope

3 Ways To Seal Your Home’s Thermal Envelope

Are you ready to take your Northbrook, Illinois, home to the next level of comfort and efficiency? Have your hands been itching to tackle another DIY home improvement project? Sealing your home’s thermal envelope is a great project to take on one weekend or during a day off. By identifying and sealing leaks in your home’s thermal envelope, you’ll keep conditioned air where it belongs and increase HVAC efficiency and home comfort.

What is a Thermal Envelope?

Before tackling this project, let’s review some specifics regarding thermal envelopes. A thermal envelope refers to what separates the air inside your home from the air outside. It also includes the separation between different rooms in your home. Specifically, a thermal envelope includes anything intended to contain air, like insulation, walls, windows, the floor, and doors leading to the outdoors.

Breaches in a thermal envelope develop because of neglect, environmental conditions, or the effects of time and can reduce air conditioning efficiency and even indoor air quality. Conditioned air from your home will leak outside while unwanted air leaks in, putting extra strain on your HVAC system. This causes strain on your system which reduces its lifespan, decreases its efficiency, and increases your utility costs.

Seal the Attic

Out of all the potential breaches in a thermal envelope, the attic, may present the most significant violations. Air easily escapes up into the attic through floorboards, as well as gaps around plumbing pipes, recessed lighting cans, electric outlet boxes, and even the entry hatch itself. You can identify smaller leaks by looking for dust around plumbing pipes, lighting, and outlets. Dust and other pollutants can easily enter your home through air leaks.

Start sealing your attic’s envelope by rolling out blanket insulation along the floor. You may not be able to easily identify leaks along the floor, but it’s a fair bet that air is seeping through the floorboards. For gaps around plumbing pipes and outlet boxes, spray some expanding foam. Our technicians can provide information about the most effective ways to insulate your home.

Don’t spray foam around recessed lighting cans. If you’re concerned about a leak around recessed lighting, consider installing tighter, insulated recessed lighting cans. Once you’ve sealed all the leaks within the attic, place weatherstripping along the entry hatch, to completely seal off any air leaks.

Seal Around Windows

You’re also likely to find leaks around windows. Over time, cracks form in the caulk compromising the seal in the window’s frame. Some fresh caulk and weatherstripping should do the job. If the leak is significant enough, you may want to consider scraping off the old caulk before adding the new layer. Older windows may not close or seal properly and may need to be completely replaced if you’re serious about sealing your envelope.

Leaks may also form around skylights, but these breaches are more difficult to seal since they involve raising shingles and placing roofing cement around the skylight. As with any home improvement project, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Leaks can come from places that you wouldn’t expect. For a thorough solution, it’s best to schedule a professional home energy audit.

Seal Around Doors

Gaps between a door and doorframe do more than let cool air out and warm air in, they also allow dirt, dust, and insects to invade your home, further decreasing AC efficiency and indoor air quality. Some weatherstripping along the doorframe will quickly seal this leak. Sliding doors may need care similar to the windows. Check if caulking is needed between the frame of the sliding door and the home.

Sealing your home’s thermal envelope is as simple as tackling these three DIY projects. By the end of a weekend or a day off, you’ll be experiencing greater comfort and efficiency in your home — not to mention making great strides to reduce energy waste. For professional assistance with increasing the efficiency of your heating and cooling system, give Roberts Heating & Air Conditioning a call at 847-562-5292.

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Honeywell Thermostats: A Solution to High Energy Costs

Honeywell Thermostats: A Solution to High Energy Costs

You’ve probably heard about the many innovations in the HVAC industry, including the growing popularity of smart and programmable thermostats. However, the thought of paying to install one more thing might be keeping you from jumping on the bandwagon. After reading this, we hope you’ll reconsider. Honeywell thermostats increase the efficiency of your air conditioner enough that they are well worth the investment. Here is what makes these innovative thermostats so special, along with a few specific thermostats that might be the perfect fit for homes in Northbrook, Illinois.

What’s the Big Deal With Thermostats?

The thermostat in your home is what connects you to your air conditioner. Through it, you have control over your comfort as well as the efficiency of the system itself. With the increasing popularity of programmable and smart thermostats, homeowners now have more control over comfort and efficiency in their home.

Programmable thermostats allow you to set different temperatures in your home for different times of the day. For example, you can save money while you’re away at work by setting the thermostat at a slightly higher temperature. You save energy and maintain comfort as the thermostat can be programmed to achieve a lower temperature in time for your return home.

These programming capabilities do more than just adjust the temperature while you’re away. They also allow you to “zone” your home. A zone refers to a separate area of your living space that you keep at a different temperature than other areas. This allows you to personalize your temperature control and keep energy waste to a minimum.

In addition to all the great capabilities of a programmable thermostat, smart thermostats have Wi-Fi connectivity, which brings temperature control into the palm of your hand via your smart device or Internet-enabled system. Responsible and effective use of smart and programmable thermostats contributes to a more efficient home and a lower utility bill.

Honeywell Thermostats

Honeywell has added its own innovative touch to this growing technology. Out of the many options that Honeywell has available, there’s bound to be one perfect for your home. Here are three of the best:

  • The Prestige IAQ HD Wireless Redlink Thermostat: The first thermostat on our list features a customizable HD touch screen and some very intuitive capabilities. The Prestige can program itself for maximum efficiency and comfort based on your responses to only a few questions. It also learns how long it takes rooms to reach desired temperatures and only runs for the minimum amount of time, thus leading to greater efficiency. The Prestige also sends you email alerts when your system is not working efficiently or is in need of a filter replacement or seasonal maintenance.
  • The Visionpro Wireless Redlink Thermostat: With Redlink wireless technology, this thermostat allows you to easily zone your home without installing wires to connect the various zones. With this thermostat you can also monitor humidification, dehumidification, and other aspects of indoor air quality. And as a smart thermostat, you can do all this from the convenience of your Android or Apple device.
  • The Focuspro Wireless Redlink Thermostat: Versatility is the name of this thermostat’s game. The Focuspro can work with any kind of heating and cooling system — whether a heat pump, gas, oil, or electric heating system. It also has seven-day programming capabilities, allowing you to program specific settings for different days of the week according to your preference. All programming capabilities can be accessed via the Honeywell Total Connect Comfort app on your smart device.

These thermostats connect you directly to your HVAC system. Through that connection, you have personal control over the efficiency of your system. Honeywell thermostats put temperature control in your hands and allow you to reduce utility costs and save money for doing more fun things this summer. If you have questions about Honeywell thermostats or would like to have one installed in your home, give Roberts Heating and Air Conditioning a call at 847-562-5292.

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4 Benefits of Geothermal Heating and Cooling

4 Benefits of Geothermal Heating and Cooling

A geothermal HVAC system takes advantage of earth’s constant temperatures underground or underwater. The system has an indoor air handling unit and a network of water-filled pipes called an earth loop. The system works like a heat pump, absorbing heat from the ground in winter and cooling your home in summer. Discover how geothermal heating and cooling systems can offer Deerfield, Illinois, homeowners utility bill savings, reliable operation, better indoor air quality, and flexible functions. 

Low Utility Bills

Since geothermal HVAC systems transfer heat instead of producing it, they don’t need much electricity. The pipes in most geothermal systems keep recycling the same water, so your water bill won’t increase. For some homes, the pipes may be in a lake, well, or pond instead of underground. Since the temperature of deep water stays constant, a pump takes water from the water source on the property, moves it through the system, and then returns the used liquid to the water source.

The energy you save will eventually pay for your geothermal system’s installation. The underground or underwater pipes make your hot water almost free, and federal tax credits can make geothermal energy more economical. These combined factors make a geothermal system a great investment, especially if you’re building a new home or replacing an old or inefficient HVAC system.


Geothermal systems have indoor pumps, fans, and compressors. Without eternal exposure and therefore damage from weather, they can last for up to 25 years, and breakdowns are rare. When you need to replace your geothermal unit, you can usually keep the more costly underground components in place. This feature makes replacing your geothermal system much less expensive.

The piping underground is polypropylene, the same material in municipal gas lines, and it can last for up to 100 years with minimal maintenance. Homeowners can also appreciate a lower risk of fire compared to a natural gas furnace or water heater.

Better Indoor Air Quality

Geothermal heating and cooling systems don’t cause contaminants like dirt, dust, and pollen to enter your home. The air handler also effectively keeps the air from becoming too humid, which prevents mold growth and makes your home seem cooler and more comfortable in summer.

Since geothermal systems don’t burn any fuel, you won’t have to worry about pollutants from combustion or carbon monoxide poisoning. All these advantages make reaching a high indoor air quality with a geothermal HVAC system easy, especially if you add an air cleaner or an air purifier.

Flexibility and Convenience

Geothermal systems need less room than conventional HVAC systems, so your heating and cooling equipment room won’t have to be as large. You can use the extra space for a larger closet, bedroom, or bathroom somewhere else in your home. Underground pipes replace the unattractive outdoor compressor or condenser in most conventional systems, giving you more space in your backyard as well.

Geothermal HVAC systems don’t make noise outside your home, and you’ll hear almost no noise inside your home either. You can also upgrade your geothermal heating and cooling system to heat your pool and the water in your home.

Additionally, you can have hydronic radiant floor heating installed. This type of heating heats your floor and controls temperatures with hot water that flows through loops of tubing connected to your geothermal system.

Adding hydronic radiant floor heating throughout your home will keep you from stepping on a cold floor when you get out of bed or out of the shower. This system will also help to effectively regulate indoor temperatures. Each room can have its own thermostat, so you and your family can control different rooms or zones independently. A hydronic heating system is usually supplemental, but some homes use it as the only heat source.

Roberts Heating & Air Conditioning is a Carrier Factory Authorized Dealer with more than 35 years of experience. We can install, maintain, and repair your geothermal heating and cooling system, conventional systems, ductwork, and more. Call us at 847-562-5292 to receive an estimate from one of our experts.

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8 Ways to Be Energy Efficient in Spring

8 Ways to Be Energy Efficient in Spring

It’s easy to think of winter and summer as the times to worry most about the energy efficiency of your Glenview, Illinois, home. Your energy bills tend to the highest during those seasons, thanks to heavy HVAC use. Instead of focusing on winter and summer, look at the bigger picture. Using less energy is a year-round venture, and there are plenty of actions you can take in the spring to cut energy use in your home. Take a look at these eight ways to use less energy and save on your energy costs during spring in our area.

Switch Light Bulbs

If you are still using standard bulbs as an inexpensive lighting option, consider switching to CFL or LED bulbs instead. CFL bulbs cost less than LEDs, but they also don’t last as long. LED light bulbs last so long they might never need replacing during the time you live in your home.

Find and Fix Air Leaks

During the winter, we often tell homeowners to caulk and seal air leaks around windows and doors to keep out the cold air. Go ahead and do this in the spring, too. Recheck your old seals for cracked or worn caulk, and pay attention to your electrical outlets and light fixtures. Openings around these parts of your home can lead to cool air escaping and warm air getting in as the weather heats up. This can force your air conditioning system to work harder and use more energy.

Use Ceiling Fans Correctly

Don’t turn your ceiling fans off just because it’s spring. If the blades of your ceiling fans are still moving clockwise from the winter months, change them back to a counter clockwise motion. The air from the fans will keep you cooler and allow you to use your air conditioner less.

Check and Change Air Filters

You should check your air filter once a month, and change it at least every 90 days. How often you change your filter will depend on how much you use your air conditioner. Frequent use means more air cycles through the system and, therefore, more opportunity for the filter to catch pollutants. You may not need to use your air conditioner much in the spring, but a dirty filter will make it run less efficiently when you are ready to use it.

Remember Your Windows

When the temperature outside is moderate, open up the blinds and curtains to use natural sunlight instead of indoor lighting. Once the weather begins to warm up, however, close your curtains and blinds to keep your home cooler so you won’t need to rely as much on your air conditioner.

Install a Programmable Thermostat

If you don’t have a programmable thermostat, now is the time to get one. If yours is a few years old, you might want to consider upgrading to a newer model. New programmable thermostats, like the Infinity Remote Access Touch Control by Carrier, allow you to create schedules for your HVAC system so that it provides the right temperatures according to your needs. You can also access it from your smartphone so you can adjust the temperature in your home remotely as the weather or your schedule changes.

Schedule HVAC Maintenance

Spring is the perfect time to schedule preventive AC maintenance. We will check every part of the system, clean the coils, check your wiring, and make sure your HVAC system is ready to go for the summer weather. A clean, calibrated HVAC system is a more energy-efficient system.

Upgrade Your HVAC System

If spring is the time for maintenance, it is also an ideal time for upgrades. No one wants to have to do without air conditioning when it’s uncomfortably hot because a new air conditioner needs to be installed. Schedule your installation before the hot weather hits. Today’s models are more energy-efficient than any older system you still have. The new systems are quieter, use less energy, and give you more control over the temperature in your home, all while lowering your monthly energy bills.

If you need to schedule your spring HVAC maintenance or look into a new HVAC unit before summer arrives, contact Roberts Heating & Air Conditioning today at 847-562-5292.

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Different Heating Options for Keeping Warm During Winter

Different Heating Options for Keeping Warm During Winter

Winters in Northbrook, Illinois are no joke, and when it gets really cold, the last thing you want to worry about is your heating system. Options for heating your home have changed and improved over the years. With an understanding of the different heating systems available, you can make the best choice for your home. Before you choose a new heating system to keep you warm and toasty this winter, make sure you understand all of the options you have available from heat pumps to radiant floor heating.

Standard Heat Pump

Traditional heat pumps are an efficient option in climates that don’t experience weather extremes. Heat pumps extract warmth from the outdoor air and use it to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature. Modern heat pumps can now work very well in cold regions. They are efficient alternatives to basic air conditioning systems and double as heaters as well.

Gas and Oil Furnaces

When the temperature dips below the thermostat setting, your thermostat sends an electrical signal to a relay. When this happens, a valve opens in your furnace and delivers fuel to the furnace. In an oil furnace, the oil has to be converted to mist first and then sprayed through something called a blast tube. Once the fuel is delivered, whether gas or oil, it is ignited by the pilot light or other ignition switch which lights the burners in the furnace’s combustion chamber. Heat gathers in the exchanger which is a metal chamber where the warm air moves and flows. Once the air gets to the right temperature, it is moved through the furnace system and out into different rooms through the ductwork.

Gas and Oil Boilers

Like furnaces, there are few differences between oil and gas boilers other than the fuel used. Once the boiler receives the signal that it’s time to send out warm air, it mixes either gas or oil with oxygen and using an ignition, lights up the fuel, causing combustion of the fuel. This combustion creates heat that is then sent to the water within the boiler itself. Once the boiler heats the water to the right temperature, the water is pumped out through pipes in your home and brought to hot water coils to generate warm air. If you have a steam boiler, the process is much the same except that steam, instead of water, flows through the pipes without the need for a pump to get it from high-pressure to low-pressure areas.

In-Floor Radiant Heat

With in-floor radiant heat, heat comes through the floor instead of the air around you. There are three types of radiant heat: air, electric, and hydronic. Air radiant heat isn’t very efficient and can be very expensive. The electric radiant system uses cables built into the floor, or plastic mats that are electrically conductive added to the subfloor below tile or other hard flooring. This type is most cost effective when you can mount it under a thick concrete floor. If your floor is thick enough, it will store enough heat to keep your home warm for up to ten hours.

The most popular system is the hydronic radiant system. It uses water that is heated in a boiler and pumped through tubes installed in a pattern under your floor. Some systems are sophisticated enough to allow for zoning control. This lets you use your thermostat to control the temperature in different rooms.

Radiant heating connects to your existing boiler or to your baseboard heating. We can install floor systems under any type of hard floor – tile, vinyl, hardwood, or concrete. Panels can also be installed in your walls or ceiling. If you are interested in making the switch, we will work with you to find the best radiant heating system for your home and your needs.

The best heating choice for your home is based on your budget, your home design, and your current system. When you are ready to discuss your heating options and what system you need, contact Roberts Heating and Air Conditioning at 847-562-5292. Don’t stick with an inefficient, poorly functioning heating system through one more winter. Upgrade to something new for the right temperatures during the cold winter months.

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