Heat Pumps vs. Central AC: Which Is Right for You?

Certain decisions for your home aren’t cut and dried. The decision about whether to invest in an air conditioning system or a heat pump is definitely one of these. Because of the mild climate in the Southside Hampton Roads area, both choices are a great option to cool your home, and the team at Mechanical Service Company wants to ensure you are fully informed about what is the right choice for your specific needs.

Heat Pumps


The primary benefit of a heat pump is the lower operational cost. Truthfully, heat pumps and air conditioners cost about the same to run in the cooling season, but a heat pump can double as a heating system. It’s significantly cheaper to heat your home with a heat pump as compared to an air conditioner-furnace combo, and this makes it the wiser choice.

A second benefit is tied to the first, and this is the fact that a heat pump will replace both your air conditioner and your furnace, because it does the job of both heater and cooling system. As long as the climate doesn’t dip below freezing often, it allows for you to heat your home without relying on fossil fuels. This means a heat pump is a much more environmentally-friendly heating system.


The main drawback of a heat pump is the cost. It typically costs more to install a heat pump than to install a traditional HVAC system. Also, if your home doesn’t need a new furnace, the cost of the heat pump will be much higher than an air conditioner alone. Another drawback is the fact that it will shut down in frigid temperatures, and so an auxiliary heating source is necessary. In those rare winters when the Virginia Beach area experiences many freezing spells, the auxiliary heating system can derail the cost savings of the energy savings.

Air Conditioners


In Virginia Beach, a traditional air conditioner is a great choice as well, particularly if your home already has a functional and efficient furnace. They’re cheaper to install and require less maintenance than heat pumps.


The main drawback is that you will still need a furnace, as an air conditioner can’t do both jobs. This, in turn, makes the total HVAC system less environmentally friendly and more costly to run.

Which Is Right for You?

When it comes to choosing a cooling system for your Virginia Beach area home, the reality is that both can serve your family well. Determine what your ultimate goal is for your cooling system, then contact the MSCO team to help you determine which one will meet your needs well. Whether you choose an air conditioner or a heat pump, you will have reliable cooling all summer long with a newly installed system.

4 Tips For Proper Gas Furnace Maintenance In Virginia Beach

Your gas furnace in Virginia Beach is what’s going to keep your family warm and cozy this winter. If not properly maintained, your gas furnace could be the source of endless frustration, cold nights and a grumpy family.

Hopefully you already scheduled an annual gas furnace maintenance/tune up. If not, you should give us a call right away. Now for those who want to know how to do a few troubleshooting steps yourself here are a few tips:

1. Make Sure Your Air Filters Are Clean
The harder your furnace has to work to push warm air through your air filter and your ducts, the more likely it is to break down or experience issues. An easy way to extend the life of your furnace is to make sure you clean or replace your air filter every month.

By making sure your air filter is clean you’ll not only help your furnace run smoothly but you’ll be getting better air quality into your home.

2. Take Note Of Strange Noises And Smells
Whenever you turn your furnace on for the first time in the season there’s going to be a burning smell. This is dust that has collected in your ducts and vents being burnt. The smell should dissipate within a few hours.

If you or any member of your family smells foul odors outside of the first few hours of use, contact us immediately.

The same goes for strange noises. Your furnace should run quietly at all times. If you hear knocking, clanging or rattling, something serious could be wrong. If you hear anything that sounds like wheezing, check your air filters as they may be clogged.

3. Put Safety First
Make sure that your furnace’s burner burns blue at all times. If your flame isn’t strong and blue, it means that it’s not hot enough and gas could be escaping from your furnace. If you see this, turn your furnace system off, and call us ASAP.

4. Tend to it regularly
The best way to make sure you’re getting the most out of your furnace is to get professional help by scheduling regular maintenance and tune-ups for your system. An efficient furnace means more than just peace of mind, it also means a healthy family, lower electric bills and a longer life-span of your system.

Your furnace can seem daunting or complicated, but when you contact HVAC professionals like us, we can come to your home or office and get the job done right. If you have questions about furnace maintenance, feel free to contact us.

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How Does Radiant Heating Differ From Other Systems In Virginia Beach?

When the weather outside is frightful… picture yourself warm and cozy inside in the most comfortable, healthy and cost-effective way possible. Space heating is the largest expense in the average American home, making up 45% of the energy bills. The decisions you make impact your budget for a long time. So what are your options?

First, let’s get an overview of heat delivery systems. The overview shows how radiant heating differs from other systems. A more in-depth explanation of radiant heating follows the overview.

All heating systems have three parts: the heat source, the heat distribution system and the control system.

Heating systems include furnaces, boilers, heat pumps, active solar heating and electric heating. Furnaces, heat air; boilers, heat water; heat pumps, grab heat and release circulating air; active solar, heats liquid or air and uses it immediately or stores it; and electric heating involves converting electricity to heat.

Heat distribution systems include forced air systems, steam radiant, radiant heating, hot water baseboards, and electric baseboards. A forced air system distributes heat throughout the home from a furnace using a system of ducts and vents. Steam radiant heating uses radiators. Radiant heating transfers heat directly from a hot surface to objects and people in the room. Hot water baseboards, similar to radiant heating, use hot water to heat a space with wall-mounted baseboard units, and electric baseboards release heated air out the top while pulling in cooler air at the bottom. Typically, the latter are zone heaters. The most common control system is a thermostat.

Beyond whole house heating systems, there are several kinds of space heaters, including wood and pellet stoves, fireplaces and portable and direct vent wall heaters.

Radiant heating is a heat distribution system, reliant on a heat source. Compatible heat sources include boilers, heat pumps, active solar heat and electric heating. Heat delivery is through floor, ceiling or wall panels. Heat is most effective when it comes from the floor since heat rises. The warm floor panels keep your feet (and you) warm, and natural convection occurs as the warm air rises. If you select radiant heating, experts recommend installing a masonry floor over the floor panels to provide more thermal mass.

Conversely, radiant cooling is most effective as ceiling panels since the warmer air rising to replace cool air will use natural convection to push the cooler air to your level in the room.

Radiant heating has one important drawback: installation is expensive, and repairs, should something go wrong, are as well.

On the other hand, radiant heating offers many advantages. It is “more efficient than baseboard heating and usually more efficient than forced-air heating because it eliminates duct losses”. It’s good for people with allergies because it doesn’t distribute allergens like forced air systems. It’s a good choice if you’re off the power grid because the liquid-based systems use little electricity and a wide variety of energy sources to heat the liquid.

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To Tank Or Not To Tank In Virginia Beach… That Is The Question

If you’ve traveled to Europe, Australia or Japan in the last three decades, you’ve probably used hot water from a tankless water heater. Now, tankless water heaters are for sale in the United States. If you’re in the market for a new home in the Virginia Beach area, chances are that you’ll see a few of these while on your real estate tours.

What’s the difference between a tankless water heater and a traditional storage tank model? Simply put, a lot. A storage tank water heater takes up space in a closet, garage or mechanical room. Depending on the size, it heats up to 40 gallons of water and maintains it at a set temperature. When hot water is used in the house, it fires up and heats more water to replace the outflow. While it’s nice to know that you have a tank full of hot water, this appliance uses a lot of electricity or gas. The average storage tank water heater has a life expectancy of a dozen years or less.

A tankless water heater provides hot water on demand. There is no storage tank, so it isn’t constantly using power or fuel to maintain water temperature. Using technology that is smarter than ever before, the tankless water heater measures the amount of water output and the desired temperature of the user, and fires up to meet demand. Tankless heaters are very compact. They are wall mounted, usually up high, and are barely noticeable. Most tankless water heaters have a life expectancy of 20 years or more. Worn parts are easily replaced, which extends their life even more.

Just like storage tank water heaters, tankless heaters come in a variety of sizes to meet the needs of the household. Choose the minimum size you need in order to maximize your energy dollars.

Many local stores may have a tankless water heater for sale, but be sure to do your research and find a qualified, highly-recommended professional for your purchase and installation. For more help choosing a professional, consider checking an online list of plumbing experts for customer reviews.

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Find The Right Professional In Virginia Beach, VA For Heating Installation

If you are going to replace your home heating system this year you’ll want to be sure to hire a qualified professional for furnace and heat pump installation. It really is a job for a specially-trained professional; even the handiest of homeowners shouldn’t attempt to install a heating system. A quick glance at local Virginia HVAC listings might seem overwhelming. How will you know you’ve hired the right company for the job? Follow these rules to put your mind at ease:

  • Choose a company that understands your needs. An established company will have years of training in the HVAC field, and will be able to recommend the correct heating unit for your house. They will also listen when you define your budget and help you make a choice that fits your wallet for up-front costs as well as monthly heating bills.
  • Choose a company that is licensed and insured in Virginia, as well as certified by the brands of heating units that they sell. You’ll want to be sure that their service people are also trained to make repairs if needed in the future.
  • Choose a company that is highly recommended. Use an online-guide of local professionals to help you narrow down your choices. Choose two or three, then check out each company’s website and read the testimonials. Make sure their qualifications are listed and that they are capable of installing your furnace or heat pump.
  • Contact your top choice and make an appointment for a service representative to make a house call. He or she should be able to help you decide what type of heating appliance would work best in your home.

Ultimately, the decision of who to hire for furnace and heat pump installation is yours. If you do your homework you should be able to choose with confidence.  Modern technology not only heats your home efficiently, it also helps you find the right company to install your heater.

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