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Learning about Furnace Upgrades and Repairs

Ways To Improve Ventilation In Your Home

Posted by on Jul 14, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Ways To Improve Ventilation In Your Home

Good ventilation is an important factor in a home, yet it can be hard to know how to improve this system in a house. Without good ventilation, your home can experience a number of problems, and these issues can affect you. If you feel that your home has poor ventilation and want to prevent the negative effects this can cause, you should seek help from an HVAC company. Here are several things to know about the effects of poor ventilation and ways to improve the ventilation in your home. Reasons Good Ventilation Is Important Good ventilation in a home is important for so many reasons, and you may be able to understand this a little easier if you know what negative effects poor ventilation can have on a home. Ventilation refers to the way the air in a house circulates, and if the air in your home is not circulating properly, you may experience the following issues: Excessive dust – Dust will linger in your home longer and will accumulate if the airflow is poor, and this will leave your house dirtier. Sickness – You and your family members can become sick from being exposed to stagnant air, primarily because the air may contain allergens and contaminants. Being in a home like this is especially bad for anyone with asthma or allergies, because the exposure to these allergens can worsen respiratory illness symptoms. Condensation – Condensation is a form of moisture, and this is something that is more likely to develop if the airflow in your home is not moving. Bad odors – Poor ventilation can also lead to problems with odors in your house. This occurs from a lack of fresh air entering into your home.   If you want to avoid these issues, you will need to find ways to improve the ventilation in your home. Ways To Improve Ventilation There are a number of ways to improve the ventilation in a house, but the easiest method to use is to open two or more windows. When there are at least two windows opened, air will flow in one of them and out of another. This will force the stagnant air out and allow fresh air to replace it. While using fans can be a good start to the problem, it is not always enough to get the air flowing sufficiently.   Another option is to have an attic fan installed in your house. An attic fan not only helps improve the ventilation in a house, but it also offers additional benefits. An attic fan keeps the air in an attic cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. It can draw air out of an attic and replace it with fresh air, and this will help reduce the amount of moisture in the attic. Attic fans also help keep homes cooler in the summer, and this occurs simply because they cool the attic in a house. Some of the air that is pulled out of the attic actually comes from your house, and this is the way attic fans help improve ventilation. A third option is to install an air purification system in your home. This type of system will clean all the air in your house by pulling it through the system and pushing...

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What Are The Best A/C Options For Those Dealing With Allergies Or Asthma?

Posted by on Jan 11, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on What Are The Best A/C Options For Those Dealing With Allergies Or Asthma?

If you dread the thought of turning on your air conditioner for the first time each summer for fear you’ll spend the next few days (or weeks) in a hacking, sniffling haze, you may be one of the millions of Americans suffering with asthma, a condition that can restrict your airways and cause breathing difficulties. In other cases, the dust and pollen that has settled in your inactive air conditioner all winter may trigger an attack of seasonal allergies as your air conditioner kicks to life and spreads these airborne allergens throughout the room. Are there any air conditioners that can bring you relief from hot temperatures without leaving you breathless? Read on to learn more about the best (and worst) air conditioning systems for those suffering from seasonal allergies, asthma, or another respiratory ailment.  What air conditioners are not ideal for allergy or asthma sufferers? Although window air conditioners can be convenient and inexpensive, their horizontal vents are a perfect place for dust, animal dander, and pollen to collect. Because these air conditioners are generally left inactive for at least a few months each year, the dust buildup can be significant — and months of accumulated dust can be dispersed throughout the room in just a few seconds. In other cases, an improperly-cleaned or stored air conditioner (or one with an internal water leak) may develop mold in the compressor unit. As the air conditioner is turned on, these mold spores quickly spread. While it’s possible to thoroughly clean your window air conditioner and store it in a protective case to avoid dust buildup, for homeowners dealing with severe allergies, another type of air conditioner is probably best. What are your best air conditioning options if you have asthma or allergies? If you need to replace an existing window air conditioner and don’t have a home with central air vents, there are still a few portable and convenient options that will avoid the pollen or mold buildup more common to window units. A portable air conditioner operates similarly to a window unit but instead includes an interior compressor that vents hot, moist air outside through a small, flexible tube. You can vent this tube through a window or unobtrusive hole in the wall, but you should be able to move the air conditioner from room to room without needing to move the vent. This is ideal for small homes — or large historic homes with no central air and only a few occupied rooms. Because these air conditioners are shaped like radiant heaters, they can be more easily cleaned than window units and should store easily for the winter under a sheet or towel in a small closet. For homes that already have the ductwork needed to support a central air conditioning system, a geothermal heat pump may be the best long-term option. While these systems can be expensive to install, they’ll allow you to cut your energy bills significantly by eliminating your reliance on electric air conditioning. A geothermal heat pump operates by flowing water through a series of underground pipes installed near your home. Because the earth’s crust remains a constant cool temperature (even when outside temperatures are freezing or sweltering), this geothermal system can produce an unlimited volume of cold air while using a minimal amount...

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Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: A Closer Look At The Risks

Posted by on Dec 10, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: A Closer Look At The Risks

According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 400 Americans die from carbon monoxide poisoning every year. Most homeowners know that their furnace may emit carbon monoxide, but since this can be a life or death situation, it’s important to be armed with as much knowledge as possible about this silent killer. To keep yourself and your family members safe, talk a closer look at carbon monoxide poisoning and how you can prevent it. What appliances emit carbon monoxide? Gas and oil-burning furnaces are the biggest culprits for carbon monoxide poisoning. The gas is emitted whenever the furnace burns the fuel. Ideally, the carbon monoxide is vented out of the home through the chimney or vent pipe. However, if there are leaks in the vent pipe or it is not constructed properly, the carbon monoxide can end up in the home. It’s important to remember that furnaces are not the only source of carbon monoxide in the home. Any appliance that burns fossil fuels or wood does emit some carbon monoxide. Your fireplace emits carbon monoxide. Portable non-electric heaters emit this gas, and so do gas stoves, dryers, washers, and hot water heaters. Burning charcoal or propane also releases carbon monoxide, which is why you should never use a grill indoors. Does a furnace need to be malfunctioning in order emit carbon monoxide into the home? This misconception is a very dangerous one. Homeowners assume that since their furnace seems to be running and heating the home just fine, they won’t have any trouble with carbon monoxide. Unfortunately, carbon monoxide is produced even when a furnace is working perfectly. As described above, it is issues with venting, not the furnace itself, that lead to carbon monoxide accumulation in the home. Thus, it is important to have your HVAC contractor inspect your furnace and its vent system annually to ensure safety even if the furnace seems to be working perfectly. A leaky or improperly placed vent pipe may cause no obvious problems other than carbon monoxide accumulation. What safety precautions can homeowners take to prevent carbon monoxide accumulation from the furnace? You should always have a carbon monoxide detector near your furnace and on the floor you sleep on so that you are alerted if this gas starts building up inside your home. However, since even carbon monoxide alarms can fail, you’ll want to take additional precautions, which include: Never block the vent pipe to your furnace. Always hire a professional to repair your furnace, rather than attempting to do it yourself. Keep trees and shrubs near the vent pipe trimmed so they don’t interfere with the flow of air. If your furnace vents through a chimney, have it inspected annually to detect blockages. Have a chimney screen installed on the top of your chimney so debris and birds do not block it. What safety precautions can homeowners take with other appliances? To avoid carbon monoxide poisoning from other appliances, never use a gas range or stove to heat your home. If you use a gas space heater, always turn it off before you go to sleep. A heater that is approved for outdoor or porch use only should never be used in the home, since it may give off too much carbon monoxide to be considered safe. If...

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Is It Time To Get A Zone-Based Air Conditioner?

Posted by on Aug 21, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Is It Time To Get A Zone-Based Air Conditioner?

Even if your old air conditioner isn’t quite dead yet, it isn’t too early to start deciding what you will get to replace it. The air conditioner affects your budget not only with the price tag, but also with it’s energy usage over the next couple decades. A zone-based system is a great way to ensure that you are going to save money in the long run. Your Old Air Conditioner is More Expensive Than You Think As with most things in life, air conditioners don’t age particularly well. While they usually last a couple decades, near the end of their life, they start to break down more often and eat through electricity in attempt to produce the same amount of cool air. In some cases, the difference in energy usage alone could make it worth doing the upgrade now. Even if it isn’t, realizing how much extra you are spending can give you a kick in the pants to start saving up so you can make that upgrade sooner rather than later. Efficiency is not the only thing that could push you to an air conditioning replacement a little earlier. As mentioned, repair costs can skyrocket as the unit nears the end of its life. Your HVAC tech will be a good resource in making this decision. Most air conditioners give warning signs long before they fail, and a good tech will be able to spot them. Have them give your unit an extra-thorough inspection during the annual maintenance. While it isn’t guaranteed, you should be able to get a reasonably good estimate of what your repair expenses would be over the next couple years. If this amount is simply too high (especially when combined with the higher electric bill), then it is time to invest in a new unit. You’ll Be More Comfortable Zone based HVAC isn’t just about saving money on your bills, it is about keeping you as comfortable as possible. Different rooms are best enjoyed at different temperatures, and heat up at different rates. With a traditional system, there is only on or off for the whole house. By upgrading to a zone based system, you can target specific areas and set the temperatures to best fit your needs. It is usually best to keep your bedroom cooler than the rest of the house. Skip the window unit, and just turn down the thermostat in that area. The top floor of your home will naturally be hotter, and the basement will naturally be cooler. Rather than wasting energy on cooling your basement, you can just add a bit of extra cool air to the top floor. The kitchen is often a source of extra heat. A zone based system can handle this gracefully and let you get back to enjoying your dinner. You’ll Save More Money Than With a Traditional Air Conditioner While the reasons to buy a new air conditioner have been discussed, why is a zone-based system superior from a financial perspective? Well, all that control doesn’t just help you stay comfortable. It also ensures that your air conditioner doesn’t run any more than it absolutely has to. Air conditioners paired with these systems are also designed to run at different levels, so if it is only cooling a few rooms, it...

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Old Home With Blocked Sewer Lines: How Can High Velocity Water Jetting Help You?

Posted by on Jul 13, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Old Home With Blocked Sewer Lines: How Can High Velocity Water Jetting Help You?

If you recently purchased an old home with a blocked sewage system, it’s time to take action. Blocked drainage lines can create huge problems by releasing raw sewage in your yard and home. Not only will you need to repair the sewer lines, you may need to pay for mold remediation, flood damage and cleanup services to fix the problems caused by them. There are several things your HVAC contractors may do to unblock and clean up your sewer lines, including using high velocity water jetting, which is also called hydro-jetting. High velocity water jetting replaces the need to dig trenches over blocked pipelines. In addition, it may prevent blockages in the future. Here’s how high velocity water jetting works and things you may do to keep your old home’s plumbing in good shape. What’s High Velocity Water Jetting? Feces, food grease, dirt, and other types of things may back up into the home’s sewer lines when age or damaged by tree roots compromise them. Sometimes, a sinking or settling foundation may lead to sewer line problems. If the previous owner didn’t fix the damaged sewer lines before you purchased the house, contact your HVAC contractors right away because high velocity water jetting treatments can help clear away unhealthy substances. Water jetting is often used by HVAC contractors because it eliminates the need to uproot and replace pipelines that aren’t broken. If your blocked sewer lines do eventually break down from disrepair, your contractors will use the trenching or dig-and-replace technique.  With trenching, contractors must dig up large quantities of earth to reach a sewer line that breaks open. It’s essential that you schedule your high velocity water jetting service before disaster strikes your old home to avoid the expenses of trenching. How Does High Velocity Water Jetting Work? One of the most unique things about high velocity water jetting is how it tackles sewer blockages. Instead of using a long metal snake to release the built-up debris, high velocity water jetting is an advanced HVAC technique that relies on the power and strength of pressurized water to blast away sewer line blockages.   Your HVAC contractors will normally use an advanced infrared sewer camera to find the blocked sewer lines before using the water jetting equipment. After the contractors locate the compromised lines, they dig a small opening over the entrance of the lines, then insert the water jetter’s nozzle.  The water jetter is a large apparatus that houses several large water pumps. When it’s turned on, the water leaves the pumps through a specialized hose and nozzle that spins at high speed. The spinning action increases the pressure and speed of the water as it passes through your blocked sewer lines. However, unlike a metal snake, the stream of water may not penetrate and damage the sides of your sewer lines. It makes water jetting fast and effective for your old home’s sewer problem. What Else Should You Do to Protect Your Old Home’s Plumbing? After your plumbing contractors remove the blockages in your sewage system, you can take steps to prevent future issues with it. Although there’s no set time or schedule to have your sewer lines flushed, cleaned or water-jetted, you should get it done when you notice changes in your plumbing. For instance, blocked sewer...

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Is Your Water Heater Old & Inefficient? Alternative Heaters Could Last Longer & Save You Money

Posted by on Jul 7, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Is Your Water Heater Old & Inefficient? Alternative Heaters Could Last Longer & Save You Money

Whether you’re frugal or environmentally-conscious, it makes sense to upgrade your conventional water heater to a more efficient model. If you’re not happy with your current heater’s energy usage or limited lifespan, consider swapping it out with one of these alternative water heaters. Heat Water on Demand With a Tankless Heater Conventional heaters keep a few gallons of water hot at a time in order to provide your home with the hot water it needs. While this style of heating is effective, it uses energy at all times to keep the water hot. This means you pay up to 20% more per month to heat water even when you won’t need it, like when you sleep or when you’re away at work. Tankless heaters eliminate this wasted energy by heating water for you only when you need it. When a tankless heater is installed, it will be placed on the water line close to your fixtures and appliances. Whenever a dishwasher or shower knob is turned on, the tankless heater will immediately begin heating the water that passes through it. This can slow down the water flow and cause reduced pressure on the other end, but it also ensures that your water is the right temperature. When you no longer need hot water, the tankless heater turns off to conserve energy. The biggest benefit of a tankless heater is that it can provide you with an instant and continuous stream of hot water for as long as you need it. You could conceivably run a hot tap for hours without a pause. Unfortunately, tankless heaters are easy to overwhelm with simultaneous use by several sources, since the water can only flow through them so quickly and still be heated. Bigger households may need more than one tankless heater during peak water-consumption hours, or they may need to supplement it with another style of water heater. Use Solar Power to Cut Costs Solar water heaters can be pricey to install, but they are effectively free to run afterward, which can cut your electricity bill drastically. Modeled after conventional water heaters, solar machines will usually have a water tank that is kept hot at all times. During the day, a dark-colored collector plate absorbs heat from the sun and sends it down to a head-conductive coil in the water tank, which maintains a high tank temperature. Multiple collector plates may be installed to increase the energy absorbed, and consequently speed up the heating of the tank. During the evening, residual heat make keep water warm for an hour or two after the sun goes down, but the water will get cold from the late evening to the early morning. You can cut your energy consumption with a solar heating system, but you’ll still need a backup heater as well, since your water won’t be heated at night or on overcast days otherwise. Solar heaters pair well with both tankless models and heat pumps. Get Heat From Your Surroundings With a Pump Heater Ideal primarily for hot climates, heat pumps take in the heat from their surroundings, magnify it, and channel it into the water tank. They can function like traditional heaters on cold days, but are significantly more energy-efficient on warm days.  Pump systems come in two varieties: those that take warmth from...

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2 Air Conditioning Features That Are Worth The Hunt

Posted by on Jun 24, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 2 Air Conditioning Features That Are Worth The Hunt

If you are like most people shopping for a new air conditioner, you might be tempted to zero in on the price and forget about looking for exciting new system features. After all, as long as that system cools your house, what more could it do? Unfortunately, if you select a run-of-the-mill unit, you might end up with some of the same problems that bothered you before. Here are two air conditioning features that are worth the hunt, and why they might matter to you down the road: 1: Humidity Controls As you shop for a new system, you might notice that some units tote their own independent humidity controls. Instead of simply turning on your AC unit and waiting for your house to cool down, you can program your system to adjust humidity levels, so that your place—and your hairstyle—stays perfect. However, humidity controls can do a lot more than reduce the load on your flat iron. Here are a few reasons you might adore a system with independent humidity settings: Relative Temperature: Humidity can completely change how warm or cool your house feels, regardless of the actual ambient temperature. In fact, research has shown that a 75°F room actually feels like an 80°F room when the relative humidity is 100%. On the flip side, that same 75°F room will feel much cooler, or around 69°F, if the relative humidity is 0%. By turning down humidity levels during the summer, you might be able to take some of the load off of your air conditioner, while keeping the space comfortable. Mold Growth: Mold thrives in humid environments, which is why it is important to control humidity levels. In fact, to prevent mold growth, some manufacturers suggest keeping the relative humidity below 65% at all times. In addition to protecting your air quality, being able to control humidity might also help you to fend off musty, stale-smelling air. As you shop for an air conditioner, carefully consider the relative humidity levels where you live. If you live in an especially humid area, such as Houston, Texas where the average morning humidity level sits at around 90%, you might want to look for a larger unit with more powerful humidity controls. On the other hand, if you live in an arid environment, look for a system that is designed to add humidity to the air, so that you can keep your skin and hair moisturized. 2: Silent Systems Have you ever been fast asleep, only to be jostled by the sound of your outdoor air conditioner ramping up? As air conditioning fans start up and pump air through your home, the noise can make it hard to watch television, talk with friends, or relax during your time away from work. Fortunately, HVAC manufacturers have developed these key technologies to make that AC unit run quieter than ever:   Insulated Compressor: To keep air conditioning noise inside of your unit, some systems contain insulated compressors. This insulation is a specially formulated wrap that keeps certain frequencies of sound from escaping the unit, so all you notice about your air is the cool breeze coming from your vents.   Variable Speed Technology: Older air conditioning units have two basic settings: on and off. When that system switches on, it has to work...

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What Is Your Air Conditioner’s Capillary Tube And How You Can Inspect It For Signs Of Trouble

Posted by on Jun 16, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on What Is Your Air Conditioner’s Capillary Tube And How You Can Inspect It For Signs Of Trouble

As the weather heats up, it’s time to turn up the air conditioning and cool down. However, for owners of window units or other small cooling systems, it is helpful to understand what can go wrong with their units. Below is more information on a component you may never have heard about: the capillary tube. Information is given on its function as well as a guide to inspection. What is a capillary tube and what does it do? A capillary tube merely consists of a thin metal tube within in a cooling system, but its simplicity belies its importance. Whether it is an air conditioner or refrigerator, the tube provides a bottleneck for the flow of refrigerant from the high-pressure side of a system toward the low-pressure side. As refrigerant decreases in pressure, it boils and evaporates; refrigerant evaporation occurs at extremely low temperatures, and this process cools the surrounding evaporator coil. The evaporator coil, in turn, is the source of cooling for air or refrigerated space. Larger air conditioning systems often use a thermostatic expansion valve instead of a capillary tube but, capillary tubes are prized in smaller systems for their simplicity and low cost. The capillary tube is critical to the functioning of the cooling system because it regulates the amount of refrigerant passing into the low-pressure side of the system. Either too much or too little flow will result in inadequate cooling, and the tube is measured to a precise length and diameter to provide optimal cooling power. How to check your capillary tube If you are having difficulty with your small air conditioning system or window unit, then a good place to check for trouble is the capillary tube. While replacement of the tube requires advanced skills suited for a professional technician, finding problems with the tube is often simply a matter of visual inspection. Below is how you can check your capillary tube for obvious signs of malfunctioning: 1. Remove the power source of your air conditioner – always unplug an air conditioner or turn off the power at the circuit breaker panel before performing any work. Allow the unit to sit idle for at least 1 hour after removing the power so any capacitors can slowly release their charge; a charged capacitor is capable of giving you a painful, or even fatal, electric shock. 2. Open the unit – for many window units, the cover is attached via screws in the rear and the cover can be pulled up and over the unit. However, you may need to consult your owner’s manual for specific information about opening the unit. 3. Locate the evaporator coil – the evaporator coil in most cooling systems consists of a long pyramid-shaped structure that contains cooling fins on its surface. Tubing can be seen entering and exiting the coil housing. On one end of the evaporator coil, you will see thin metal tubing coiled together, and this will be the capillary tube. 4. Inspect the tube carefully –  below are several potential problems that you can identify, so be sure to learn the list below or write it down before performing your air conditioner inspection: Crushed or crimped tubing – this can block the flow of refrigerant altogether, or it can trap passing debris which could cause internal...

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3-Step Guide For Diagnosing And Treating “Dirty Sock” Syndrome In Your Heat Pump System

Posted by on Jun 16, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 3-Step Guide For Diagnosing And Treating “Dirty Sock” Syndrome In Your Heat Pump System

If you have noticed that your house smells like an old gym locker while your heat pump is operating, your system may have “dirty sock syndrome. If you suspect this could be the issue, use the following three-step guide for diagnosing and treating your heat pump to minimize the odors and clean up your air quality. Step 1:  Test To See If Your Heat Pump Has Dirty Sock Syndrome Before you treat your heat pump, test to see if it has dirty sock syndrome. The best tool for this is your nose, since it has a distinct odor. Just as the name implies, the air coming from your vents will smell like old, filthy socks. This smell comes from the bacteria and fungi that grow on the pump’s coil and inside the drip pan. You will smell this stench the strongest as soon as the heat pump kicks on. After the coil cools once it switches off, the microbes release gasses that accumulate inside the compressor. When the system comes back on, this is then circulated throughout your house. If this describes the odor you are smelling, go on to the next step to treat the inside of your heat pump. If not, you may need to call an HVAC technician so they can diagnose the problem. Step 2:  Treat The Coil With A Homemade Cleaner If you strongly suspect your pump has dirty sock syndrome, a homemade cleaner made from bleach and tea tree oil will kill the bacteria and fungi living inside your unit. The bleach kills most of the bacteria and viruses, while the tea tree oil kills the fungi because of its natural anti-fungal properties. You will also need a bucket and a pair of disposable, plastic gloves to protect your hands from the bleach’s chlorine. Lint-free rags, such as cloth diapers or mechanics cloths, are also needed. Turn off your HVAC system to let the coil cool while you are mixing the cleaner. Then, in the gallon bucket, mix together two cups of warm water, a cup of bleach, and 15 drops of tea tree oil. Once the coil has cooled, use a rag to apply the treatment to the coils. Let the cleaner remain for a few minutes, then apply a second application. Let the coils air dry for about an hour before turning on the unit. While you are waiting, go on to the third step. Step 3:  Clean And Soak The Unit’s Drip Pan Your heat pump’s drip pan is another place the microbes like to call home inside your unit, thanks to the constant moisture and warmth. While you are letting the coils dry, remove the pan and clean it with a mild dish detergent. You may need a scrub brush to remove the slimy film. Once you have scrubbed the pan, mix the same cleaner you used in step two. Pour the cleaner into the drip pan and let it soak for about an hour. After the time is up, empty the pan. Do not rinse it, because the residual cleaner will provide a protective coating to prevent future growth. Let it air dry for a few minutes before placing it back inside your heat pump. Then, start up your HVAC system. You may smell the bleach and tea tree oil strongly for the...

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