Tune-Up Before Summer Heats Up

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The grass is green, school’s out, and the smell of barbecue is starting to fill the weekend air which can only mean one thing – it’s time to get your HVAC system checked before Spring turns into Summer! 

AC Tune-UpWhile the Spring weather may not have necessitated turning on the air-conditioner yet, it’s the perfect opportunity to have it inspected. You want to be fully prepared to keep cool when the mercury rises and finding out your AC has issues during a heat wave isn’t the way to go. Therefore pre-Summer checkups are one of your safest investments – and they can save you money!

What’s Included in a Spring Tune-up? 

The main reason to contact us for an HVAC system checkup is for preparation. You want the peace of mind in knowing that your AC will run properly and efficiently when the time comes. This is accomplished via:

  • Cleaning – Your AC sat dormant for the last 7-8 months which means a lot of dust and debris has accumulated inside of it. Condenser coils need to be cleaned so that they can operate more efficiently and removing dust from items such as a fan help reduce wear.
  • Inspection – When sitting idle your AC may develop frayed (chewed) wires, might lose coolant, or could possibly develop holes in the duct work. An inspection makes sure these and other areas are secure so that your HVAC runs efficiently and most importantly, safely.
  • Tune-Up – A system checkup also involves lubricating parts, calibrating the thermostat, testing the motor, and 20+ other points of tuning up. This will help increase the life span of the components but also make sure you aren’t unnecessarily losing efficiency. 

If your AC turns on without any issue, you may mistakenly think that it is ready for the Summer cooling season. In actuality however you may be losing efficiency and unknowingly be causing your AC to fail much sooner than its supposed life span.

How an AC Check-Up Saves You Money 

Having our service team come inspect and tune-up your AC may seem like unnecessary overhead, especially when air-conditioner bills can be so high over the Summer as it is. The truth is, an inspection will save you money both immediately and over the long run.

First off, a clean and tuned up air-conditioner will operate more efficiently which will make decrease cycle lengths and frequency thus saving you on utility bills. Lubricating parts and inspecting for damage can also reduce the overcompensation on other components. It’s always better to pay for minor adjustments rather than costly repairs. Along those same lines, an AC that doesn’t have to work as hard will also last much longer possibly putting off a replacement for 5-10 years or more.

Finally, the reason you have an air-conditioner is to be cool. Aside from saving money, don’t you want to be sure that your AC is in proper working condition just so you, your family, and guests can be comfortable? If the answer is yes, give Elite Comfort Services a call today!

The post Tune-Up Before Summer Heats Up appeared first on Elite Comfort Home & Commercial Services.

From http://elitecomfortservices.com/tune-summer-heats/

“Auto” or “On” for Your Home HVAC Settings?

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For many homeowners as long as the air-conditioner is running on a hot day, all is well. However, while you may be feeling cool comfort, at the same time your AC could be incurring high costs mostly due to unnecessary thermostat settings. 

Air Conditioning Auto or OnThe main area of concern when it comes to the AC thermostat controls is the “auto” versus the “on” setting. Believe it or not there is a difference! Here is all you need to know on how to keep cool:

What Do Auto and On Do Regarding Your HVAC System? 

Auto and On dictate how the fan on your furnace or air-conditioner will operate. Despite some initial confusion, the two differentials really are self-explanatory. When your AC is set to “auto” the fan will run only during a cooling cycle. Opting for the “on” setting means the fan will be operating on a constant basis.

What Are the Major Advantages of Each? 

There are pros and cons to running your AC on either of the settings. The obvious advantage of running on “auto” is that the system uses less energy because the fan is operating only during a cooling cycle. This saves on utility bills because the fan can be idle for extended periods of time – especially on cooler Summer days.

Despite the fact that the fan can sit idle in between cooling cycles, that also means there are going to be multiple stops and starts during the course of a day. This can be very hard on the fan and definitely helps contribute to an early demise. When the fan starts to malfunction, other components try to overcompensate for the lack of air flow and tend to experience a shorter life-span.

There are benefits of operating the thermostat under the “on” setting and having the fan cycle constantly. The lack of starts and stops on the system will help your unit run more effectively and the air quality will be better with the “on” setting because air is continuously being cycled. This also moves conditioned air more efficiently throughout the home which cuts down on hot and cold pockets in various rooms.

So Which Setting Should You Use? 

If you want to use less energy and lower your utility bills, the “auto” setting would be the best choice. Keep in mind, that the fan can wear faster on this option and the air quality isn’t going to be as great. Each home and air-conditioning unit is unique and it would be beneficial to get an assessment on the property and its functionality by completing an HVAC audit. An audit investigates your specific air-conditioning factors (insulation, system size, home square footage) and can help determine the optimum strategy for Summer.

Elite Comfort Home and Commercial Services provides solutions to all your AC/Heating problems. For questions, concerns or to schedule routine maintenance contact a company you trust, contact Elite Comfort.

The post “Auto” or “On” for Your Home HVAC Settings? appeared first on Elite Comfort Home & Commercial Services.

From http://elitecomfortservices.com/auto-home-ac-settings/

If It’s Not Broke, Fix It??

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Okay, so the saying is a tad distorted, but it does raise an important question. When considering options, is it best to replace your AC unit even if it’s not broken? What factors do you weigh? Although the cost of purchasing a new air conditioner can be considered a big investment, so can the costs of having an older, inefficient unit that needs repairs all too often. While there’s no definitive rule, there are some important considerations to keep in mind while you make your decision.

Age of Existing Unit

Gauge the condition of your existing unit. The average lifespan of an air conditioning unit is around 10 years. If it’s around this age, you can expect frequent repairs, leaks, and possibly breakdowns.

Cost of Repairs

Rule of thumb is if repairs exceeds 50% percent of the cost of a new unit, then it’s time to replace. You could be certain that even after one expensive repair the next will be just as much if not more. In some cases, repairing a leak, adding refrigerant, and replacing a compressor can add up to the same amount as a new low-end unit.

Energy Efficiency 

You might want to replace your unit, if your existing unit still uses R-22 Freon. This refrigerant is being phased out by the federal government in order to conserve energy nationwide. As a result, HVAC manufacturers have stopped making units that require R-22 in 2015 and since then the costs of Freon has aggressively peaked. Acquiring a more efficient unit will help reduce energy costs and allows for eligibility on state and local tax credits.

Size and Capacity

Depending on home improvements you’ve made to your home, like roofing, insulation, or replacing windows, you may be able to downgrade to a smaller unit. Some contractors may have over or underestimated the calculation on the size of the equipment your property needs causing your HVAC system to overwork causing wear of equipment and inefficiency. A consultation may be able to confirm that your unit is not adequately sized in comparison to the overall amount of living space. Making this change could ultimately provide better comfort and a lower operating cost.

Outdated Technology

Replacing aging equipment and installing new features like smart thermostats could help increase efficiency and lower energy costs by 15-20%.

Financial Circumstances

If you don’t plan on staying in your home in the near future, there wouldn’t be a need to replace immediately. Either you could better market your house with the new unit or lower asking price during negotiations. This investment is entirely up to you.

Whether you choose to replace or repair your existing unit, Elite Comfort Home and Commercial Services can help evaluate your specific HVAC needs by scheduling a consultation today.

From http://elitecomfortservices.com/if-its-not-broke-fix-it/

5 Ways to Improve Airflow

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We’ve entered Spring and along with the blooming of flowers comes an abundance of warmth. As the weather changes so does humidity and it’s important to keep cool and avoid you and your home from overheating. Air conditioning is notably the easiest way to cool off, but can also be expensive if not being used effectively. To keep you cool, calm, and collective, here are five ways to improve airflow in your home:

  1. Open Up- Your air conditioning unit doesn’t have to be running all the time. The most simple and effective way to let heat out and natural air in is to open up windows and doors. Depending on weather, walk around the house opening several windows to allow airflow to circulate.
  2. Turn on Fans– And by fans we mean them all. Ceiling, exhaust and attic fans. Turning on a ceiling fan helps circulate natural and cold air throughout your house while using exhaust and attic fans help alleviate warm air that resides in kitchens, bathrooms, or attics.
  3. A little Spring cleaning– A little spring cleaning never hurt anybody. Clean or unblock vents around your home. Air from your heating and cooling systems flow through vents and sometimes can be blocked by furniture or debris that makes circulation nearly impossible. Take a look around your home and see if a couch, dresser, or table is blocking airflow.
  4. Seal Ducts– One thing you may overlook, is your home’s ductwork. Although out of sight, but duct sealing shouldn’t be out of mind. Ductwork is essential in delivering air to every room. If there are leaks and wholes, cool air won’t reach its destination causing a 30% loss. When air is lost, this puts more pressure to achieve the desired thermostat setting. Not only does it waste energy if left unfixed, but it also stresses your HVAC system and could lead to more repairs in the future.
  5. Replace Air Filters– A good rule of thumb is to check them once a month, but you’ll only need to replace them if dirty. A dirty filter reduces air flow and the unit’s efficiency and can lower energy consumption by 5% to 15%. Remember the frequency depends on type of filter, overall air quality of city, allergies and number of occupants or pets.

If these five ways lack improvement in circulation please contact a reputable company you can trust, Elite Comfort Home and Commercial Services. Elite Comfort’s mission is to provide an excellent experience to every customer by providing quality products, superior services, and personalized solutions while operating with the utmost integrity.

From http://elitecomfortservices.com/5-ways-to-improve-airflow/

There’s No Better Time than Now to Install a Smart Thermostat

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To many homeowners the thermostat is an inconspicuous device that minds its own business on a little section of wall space. The truth is however, the often-inexpensive thermostat is actually the brains behind thousands of dollars of HVAC equipment. In fact, having the correct type of thermostat can actually save you hundreds of dollars a year in utility bills while also reducing wear on your furnace and air-conditioner. 

The preaching of the last decade was that you needed to have a programmable thermostat installed as soon as possible. It makes sense – why not preprogram temperatures to be at efficient levels when you’re sleeping or away at work? As it goes, simply having a programmable thermostat is not enough anymore as now the true way for optimum energy usage is with a Smart thermostat.

Smart Thermostat vs. Programmable 

A programmable thermostat allows you to set home temperatures for many different time slots to coincide with when you’re going to bed, getting home from work, or away for the weekend. Once programmed to your desired temperature, the thermostat can only be changed manually at home.

The Smart thermostat takes efficiency to the next level by allowing you to control temperatures by internet access from phone, tablet, or computer. When life isn’t as routine as you would want it to be, a smart thermostat is perfect for unpredictable moments. For instance, a left open window, weather changes, pets or kids at home sooner than expected, or maybe you just fluctuate from hot to cold often. Smart thermostats are all about connectivity as they allow you to control your HVAC system from anywhere, at any time.

More to Smart Thermostats Than Programming and Controlling Temps

Essentially the connection between your thermostat, your HVAC system, and your WiFi device becomes a heating and air-conditioning command center. For example, notifications are sent when it’s time to change your filter or have routine maintenance performed. Receive diagnostic reports giving you detailed lists of energy consumption and data that reveals how efficiently your HVAC system is operating.

Something else that Smart thermostats actually do is learn your schedule and temperature comfort levels. What this basically means is that each time you adjust a thermostat, that time of day and day of the week is stored in the thermostats memory. Eventually all these adjustments will help your thermostat create a preference schedule of who gets home and when and the device will automatically pre-cool or pre-heat accordingly.

What to Know When Looking for a Smart Thermostat 

As long as your home has a WiFi connection, a smart thermostat can be implemented to run with your existing heating and cooling system. Something you should note is that Smart thermostats are going to be a bit more costly than solely programmable devices but its proficiency and convenience is the biggest pay off.

Two of the major brands in the Smart thermostat niche are Ecobee and Nest. Ecobee claims that their thermostats can save homeowners almost 23% in heating and cooling bills while Nest boasts 12-15%. Annual savings can exceed $150 or more which offers a very fast ROI compared to the initial costs. Plus, when your furnace and AC are running optimally, they have less wear and tear as well which can also save you on pricey repairs.

Simply put, there’s no reason to have anything but a Smart thermostat installed in your home or business. Whether you choose a programmable or smart thermostat, Elite Comfort provides services to help install or maintain your HVAC system. For more information about services or pricing, call and schedule a consultation with us today.

From http://elitecomfortservices.com/install-a-smart-thermostat/

Prepare Your Home for Winter Vacation

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Winter vacation hasn’t begun just yet. It’s almost time to clock out and mentally you’re probably already there, but before you hit the road, make sure your home is winter proof ready. Leave for the holidays knowing you can truly enjoy your time off without the need to worry about weather or security precautions.

Make a list and check it twice.

From planning the trip to packing up the suitcases make sure you’re prepared for the vacation. Jot down your to-do list, whether it is house chores, scheduling/cancelling appointments or holiday shopping, write them all down. Avoid the chance of any loose ends.

A clean home is a happy home.

The worst thing after a long trip is coming home to a house left unkempt. Try to accomplish the basic household chores. Empty the trash inside and outside to avoid the presence of pests.  Clear out the refrigerator of perishable items that won’t last the duration of your trip. Days-old food never leaves a good odor, imagine a week or two.

As safe as houses.

Home fires kill more Americans than natural disasters; the two leading appliances include washing machines and dryers. Routinely remove the lint from the filter, but also check for stray clothing behind both appliances. Remember with major appliances to not use extension cords, plug in directly to outlet. For a clear conscious, be on the safe side and unplug appliances until your return.

Ring the alarm.

While on vacation, you want to maintain the appearance that your home is occupied. In doing so check exterior motion detectors, surveillance cameras, and alarm systems. Confirm that all are in working order including smoke detectors. Valuable items should be stored away in a safe deposit box and especially out of plain sight. Depending on the length and destination of your trip, notify your home security company of your absence.

Phone a friend. 

Choose someone you trust and believe is reliable. Leave an itinerary and a list of contacts for them to use in case of emergency. Have them drop by to feed pets/water plants, check the mail and adjust the thermostat if needed depending on the unpredictable Texas weather.

With your checklist complete, get ready to celebrate the holidays and enjoy your winter vacation rest assured that your home will be safe and sound.

Sources:   https://www.bobvila.com/articles/502-winter-preparation-checklist/

From http://elitecomfortservices.com/prepare-your-home-for-winter-vacation/

How to Keep Down Your Energy Heating Costs During the Colder Months

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The Winter is hard for two main reasons. One, it’s cold as the dickens out which not only affects our bodies but also vehicles and pretty much everything else exposed to the elements. Second, the costs of heating our homes in the Winter often adds legitimately thousands of dollars to house operational costs which can be debilitating to many people.

blogkeepingenergydownwintermonthsThere’s not a whole lot that can be done about the cold weather except layer up and cross off the days until Spring. When it comes to Winter energy costs however, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be doing everything in your power to pay as low as possible. For one it’s your money you might as well save it for the holidays but also keeping down your energy costs is relatively simple with a few key tips:

Take Proper Care of Your Windows

Even double paned insulated glass windows can benefit from sealing plastic over the top of them in the Winter. It’s just one more layer that cold has to pass through to enter the home and an extra barrier that helps retain heat. Even after weatherizing, you can install tight-fitting insulating drapes to virtually eliminate any threats of drafts. It’s also important to take advantage of your windows though – specifically opening up the South facing windows during the day so that sunlight can naturally warm your home.

Furnace and Thermostat Care

Your furnace is going to be busting it’s hump in the Winter so the least you can do is lighten the workload. This means having your furnace properly maintained and cleaned before the heating season and staying on top of filter changes throughout the Winter. You should also install a programmable thermostat so that your furnace can lay low during the day when nobody is home and at night while people are sleeping. This $30 or so investment can cut your heating costs by up to 10% or more.

Other Ways to Lower Energy Costs During Winter

A lot of lowering your energy costs during the Winter involves spending elbow grease instead of spending money. By being tedious and paying attention to detail you can make your home a fortress for retaining heat and expelling cold over the Winter season. Some examples include:

  • Sealing up air leaks (caulking or spray foam) around windows and doors and from broken siding.
  • Plugging a chimney flue if you don’t plan on using it.
  • Turn down your water heater
  • Use LED bulbs and put your holiday lighting on a timer
  • Adjust ceiling fans to clockwise to keep heat pushed down towards the room

Of course you can also spend money as a way to save money on your energy costs. For example, you can install a secondary heat source such as a pellet stove as a way to lower the strain on your furnace. Many homeowners have found that an insulation upgrade, especially in the attic, can save them up to 30% annually on their Winter energy costs.

There is no one surefire way to lower your heating and energy bills this Winter. Instead what ends up happening is that you develop an overall cost saving strategy over the years – adding to it each season until your bills are optimized.

From http://elitecomfortservices.com/keep-heating-costs-down/

How Do I Know if I Need a New Heater?

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With Winter fast approaching, now is the time to make sure your home is ready for the inevitable onslaught of snow, ice, and cold weather. This means battening down the hatches of your windows to help improve energy efficiency as well as ensuring that your roof is in adequate condition to handle snow loads. Most of all however, you want to make sure that your furnace is prepped and ready for another possibly long heating season. 

blogreplaceheaderAutumn is the time to determine if you need a new heater or not. Obviously, it’s better than the alternative of when the mercury drops to single digits and you find yourself in an emergency situation. A question that homeowners must ask themselves this time of year is whether it’s time for a heater replacement. Here is how you determine that answer:

Remember that a Heater Replacement is Inevitable 

Nobody wants to take on the added overhead of a furnace replacement right as most work is heading into a slow season and with the holidays on the horizon. That being said, your heater has a definitive lifespan usually of 12-15 years. You can put a ‘band-aid’ on the unit with repairs, but that’s only prolonging the inevitable. On the plus side, replacing your furnace with a new energy efficient model will lower your utility bills and make your home comfortable – paying for itself in more ways than one.

Were Your Heating Bills Higher Last Year / Was Your Home Less Comfortable 

One thing you’ll inevitably notice as your HVAC system starts to age is that it’s going to start having to work harder to maintain performance – we all do as we get older. The burners don’t fire as easy, the fan and blower motor don’t send air with the force they once did, and old duct systems start to leak air. When this happens the rooms in your house are going to start to feel drafty and you’ll also have higher Winter heating bills. Can you get by without a full replacement right away? Sure, but it’s time to start budgeting for a new heater down the line.

Most of the Time a Heater Crash Doesn’t Happen Out of the Blue 

Whether or not you need a new heater in your house shouldn’t be guesswork. Mainly because you should be having your furnace inspected and maintained before every heating season. This is not only smart homeowner practice, it’s often a requirement to stay in good standing with your manufacturer warranty. By having your heater inspected/cleaned annually, the service techs will identify problems early and thus hopefully avoid catastrophic damages in the middle of Winter. Plus, a good cleansing and lubrication of the heater components will allow them to work easier and thus last longer.

The best way to know if it’s time for a heater replacement is to have it professionally inspected and maintained. There are ways you can combat a failing heater such as installing plastic and sealing up gaps around windows and/or doors. You can also use supplemental warmth such as a space heater to help ease the load on your main furnace. If your heater is starting to near the end of it’s life however (10-15 years), it may be better to replace now and have sound peace of mind rather than having to worry about if you’re going to make it through the brutal Winter.

From http://elitecomforthomeandcommercial.com/need-new-heater/

How to Protect Your AC System During the Hurricane Season Months

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There are a number of precautions that are taken during a construction build for homes that are located in potential hurricane areas. For example, garage doors are reinforced with extra bracing, roof trusses are tied to the house with hurricane straps, and impact resistant glass is used on windows and patio doors. These are all crucial steps to protect your home from the strong winds and rain of a hurricane – but they are hardly the only preventative measure.

bloghurricaneacinspection2In many hurricane zones, the AC system is an often overlooked vulnerable feature. The areas that are most vulnerable to hurricanes are also ones that so happen to use their AC the most often; those in the Southern and Coastal states. Since the unpredictability of hurricane season can mean gale force winds one day and 90° temperatures the next, it’s important to make sure your AC system is protected in hurricane season months – and here’s how:

Before the Storm

Luckily there’s generally some pretty fair warning when a big tropical storm is going to make it’s way towards shore. In these instances the M.O is to protect the exterior AC unit as much as possible. At the very least, cover your outdoor AC unit with a tarp to prevent water damage. Going the extra step can include creating a barrier for the unit with plywood or something else heavy and secure to prevent damage from airborne objects. Something you can do even when a storm isn’t on the horizon is make sure your outdoor unit is installed on a concrete pad and bolted down with hurricane straps.

During the Hurricane

Personal safety is of your utmost concern during hurricane season so if you have to leave your home make sure the AC is turned off. You’ll want to prevent surges through the AC electrical system from lightning so unplug the air-conditioner or at the very least have outlet protection installed. Even if you are hunkering down in your home, avoid running the air-conditioner to prevent any issues either internally or externally.

After the Storm Has Passed 

As we said, it can get pretty steamy after a tropical storm has passed in many of the familiar hurricane regions. That being said, you’ll want to abstain from the temptation to turn on your AC to cool down right after the front has left the area. Turning on a damaged AC can be dangerous but can also cause significant issues to the unit itself. After you have removed all the protective covering, clear any debris that may have made its way around vents or inside the AC unit. Next, inspect lines and wiring to make sure they haven’t become frayed or torn. You might even want to wait up to 24-48 hours to turn the system on so it has a chance to dry out. Finally, tentatively turn on your air-conditioner and look for any smoke or weird sounds coming from outside or inside the home.

Hopefully a preventative and safe approach before and during the storm will make it so that no troubleshooting or repairs are needed to your AC after the hurricane. If so however, make sure to consult a professional service tech to pinpoint the exact problem areas and to find the most efficient fix.

From http://elitecomforthomeandcommercial.com/protect-ac-during-the-hurricane-season/

Benefits of Getting Your Furnace and Boiler Inspected Before Winter

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When ‘winter is coming’, we have a tendency to mimic the squirrels in our yard that busily gather nuts in preparation for the long cold months ahead. Humans kind of go in panic mode this time of year as well, digging out coats and long underwear, putting snow tires on the car, and swapping in storm windows in the home for an extra barrier against the cold temperatures.

blogboilerinspectionIn the Winter bustle, it’s imperative not to overlook recommended furnace and boiler maintenance. Some homeowners may wait until the cold weather arrives and simply start up their furnace like it’s a normal day in January. Failure to have your furnace and boiler inspected before the first cycle of the season however is not recommended due to the following reasons:

To Make Sure The Furnace / Boiler are Working

The last thing you want to do is wait until a chilly night to find out that your furnace or boiler need repairs. When HVAC professionals do an inspection before the Winter they start up the system and do a number of safety and function checks. If repairs or tune-ups are needed, the time to perform them is when the temperatures are 65-70°, not 6° or 7°.  You want to make sure that the system not only operates, but that it does so safely without any risks to your family.

For a Good Cleaning 

The annual inspection (or bi-annual for an air-conditioner/furnace combo) is not only performed to make sure the HVAC system is fully-functional, it also includes a thorough cleaning and lubrication of moving parts. In fact the inspection is more like a fall maintenance service that will identify failing parts (before they become problematic) but also lead to a more efficient furnace that blows a cleaner air throughout the home.

It Really Will Save You Money 

Far too many people are under the impression that servicing a fall maintenance inspection is tedious and unnecessary overhead added to their household budget. Forget the fact that your boiler or furnace manufacturer may actually require a documented annual inspection from a certified tech for you to maintain your warranty. More importantly, annual maintenance and inspection can legitimately save you money in a number of areas.

First off, clean HVAC components operate easier which reduces furnace cycle time. When your boiler or furnace is running less frequently yet still maintaining comfortable interior temperatures you save on utility bills. An inspection before Winter will also help to identify problem areas when they are a simple fix and not an expensive overhaul. Finally, running a well-cleaned and lubricated furnace or boiler with inspected parts and components will help to increase the unit’s life span – perhaps prolonging entire system replacement costs for 5 to 10 years or more.

From http://elitecomforthomeandcommercial.com/benefits-of-getting-your-furnace-and-boiler-inspected/