Renovating an Older Family Home

5 Facts You Should Know About Heat Pumps

Posted by on Aug 10, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 5 Facts You Should Know About Heat Pumps

Is your old furnace or air conditioner on its last legs and in need of constant repairs or replacement? If so, consider replacing one or both systems with a heat pump. Heat pumps are affordable and efficient. To learn more about heat pumps, check out these five facts to determine if one is the right solution for your heating and cooling needs. Heat Pumps Cool and Heat Your Home Heat pumps are a great one-stop solution for heating and cooling your home. Unlike furnaces and air conditioners, however, heat pumps don’t create hot or cold air. Instead, they move air. During the winter, this keeps your house warm because warm air from outside is pumped into your home while the pump expels cold air from inside your house. In the summer, the system does the opposite. It finds cold air outside and pumps it inside and eliminates hot air from inside your home. They Are an Energy-Efficient Option Heat pumps are an incredibly energy-efficient option because they use less power to operate than furnaces and central air conditioners. This results in lower monthly heating and cooling costs, which allows you to recoup your initial investment. Also, heat pumps don’t release dangerous gases or chemicals into the air like other systems, so they have a smaller carbon footprint. The downside, however, is that many heat pumps can be less effective than furnaces and air conditioners, so if you live in an area with hot summers or cold winters, you may need a back-up system to stay warm or cool on extremely hot or cold days. You Can Choose a Zoned Heating/Cooling Option A common problem with many heating and cooling solutions is they don’t have zones. Zones allow you to heat/cool different parts of your home while blocking other rooms that you don’t normally use. Some people without zoned heating try to mimic the effects of zoned heating by closing vents and doors, but this puts strain on the system and actually creates cold and hot stops. Luckily, if you are interested in a heat pump, they do have zoned heating/cooling options. If you want zoned heating with your heat pump, it’s best to consider a two-speed compressor system. Geothermal Heat Pumps Are More Efficient and Effective Geothermal heat pumps are one common option. They pull heated or cooled air from the ground. Air-source heat pumps are another option, and they pull heated or cooled air from the air. As you can imagine, it’s hard to find warm air outside during the winter and cool air during the summer, which is why a geothermal heat pump is more effective than an air-source heat pump. For this reason, geothermal heat pumps are also more efficient at heating and cooling because they use less energy to get the temperature you want. So, if you choose a geothermal heat pump, youre monthly savings will be even higher. Air-Source Heat Pumps Are More Affordable You get what you pay for, and because air-source heat pumps are less effective and efficient than geothermal systems, they are also more affordable. A geothermal system can cost you between $10,000 and $30,000. Depending on the type of air-source heat pump you need, the cost is anywhere between $500 and $15,000. However, geothermal heat pumps last longer than air-source...

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Keeping The Kitchen Cool: Methods For Improving AC Efficiency In Your Restaurant

Posted by on Apr 8, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Keeping The Kitchen Cool: Methods For Improving AC Efficiency In Your Restaurant

Air conditioning is an essential part of keeping your employees comfortable and for pleasing diners when they come to dine at your establishment. However, with the cooking and the heat of summer, your system has to work harder than ever, driving up indoor kitchen temperatures despite your cooling system while simultaneously driving up your operating costs. Here are some strategies you can employ to help your air conditioning along during the hottest days of the year. Install air curtains One of the ways you can help your kitchen stay cool is by improving air flow with open doors to allow cool air from the dining room to flow into the kitchen and then out an open door or window. Propping open a door, however, often lets flies and other insects into the kitchen, which is less than desirable for making food. Air curtains are made from heavy duty fans installed near or around the frame of exterior doors that blow outwards. This moves warm kitchen air out and keeps bugs from flying in. This method is especially great for optimizing evaporative cooling methods in your restaurant. Use a dehumidifier Humidity in the kitchen makes the heat worse. Water has a high heat capacity, which means it takes more energy to reduce the temperature of air with a high moisture content. Cooking food increases humidity exponentially, so if you don’t have a dehumidifier running in your restaurant, contact a HVAC company about pairing one with your air conditioner to help make a dent in the cooking and summer heat.  Invest in excellent stove top venting. Cooking over an open flame can raise kitchen temperatures quickly, but one way to keep the heat contained is to have strong fume hoods that direct steam up and out, instead of allowing it to spread over the restaurant. For other heat sources, like grill tops and fryers, have ceiling fans that pull the heat up and direct it out through the HVAC system. The better your ventilation, the cooler your kitchen will be. This is especially a problem in older restaurants, so have your system checked and updated.  Give the illusion of cold. While this won’t directly help your AC operate better, it will help your customers believe that your restaurant is cooler than it is. Lighten up your summer menu with foods that bring “cool” to the forefront. Mint dishes, cold cheese platters, ice creams, shaved ice, and cool salad with components like cucumbers and candied lemon rind. Chilled soups like strawberry or even summer squash can also be a replacement appetizer for deep fried options like onion rings or breaded zucchini. Colder options on the menu will mean less cooking with heat, which will translate into lower kitchen temperatures.  Take stock of your windows. If you windows face south or west, it’s time to look into installing blinds or curtains to block out the rays of the sun. Dining windows increase temperatures for patrons, and kitchen windows increase temperatures for the cooks and wait staff. Custom window treatments can be expensive, so if you cannot afford them, opt for simple screens that can be pulled down during the sunniest part of the day. If even these are beyond your budget, think outside the box and cover windows with local art or newspaper clippings for...

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Prepare Your Air Conditioner For Winter So It’s In Good Condition Come Spring

Posted by on Jan 29, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Prepare Your Air Conditioner For Winter So It’s In Good Condition Come Spring

Many homeowners don’t think about their air conditioner in the winter, since they’re more concerned about their heater. Taking proper care of your home’s air conditioner when it’s cold and snowing, however, will ensure that it’s in good, working condition when temperatures start to heat up. Here’s how to care for your air conditioner during the winter. Turn Your Air Conditioner Off Turning off an air conditioner might seem like an obvious first step, but not all homeowners realize that central AC units have their own power switch. Usually the switch is close to the unit, and the toggle might be in a small box. To turn your air conditioner off, simply flip this switch. Turning off your air conditioner with this switch will ensure that the unit won’t start up on an unseasonably warm winter day. If your air conditioner turned on for even just one warm day, water could accumulate in its pipes. When winter temperatures dropped again, the water could freeze and split the pipes. Hose Off Your Air Conditioner If you didn’t clean leaves and pollen from your air conditioner in the fall, now is the time to do so. You can easily get debris off of your unit by spraying it with a garden hose. The Family Handyman recommends aiming the hose up in order to get anything that’s stuck on the underside of the air conditioner’s top. As long as the weather warms up for one day, you can still hose off your air conditioner. It’s alright if temperatures drop below 32°F on the next day, because the water from the hose won’t get inside the unit’s pipes. Even if the water freezes, it won’t split any pipes. Cover Exposed Coils and Pipes Any coils and pipes that connect your air conditioner to your home should be covered. This will both protect them from rain, sleet and snow, and provide some insulation for them. You can find foam pipe covers at hardware stores for only a few dollars. These covers have a slit down one side that makes putting them on pipes easy. Partially Cover Your Air Conditioner Once all other preparations have been completed, you should cover your air conditioner itself. This protects the unit from rain, freezing rain, sleet and snow, which can rust the unit, and from hail, which can dent the unit. You should only partially cover your air conditioner, though. Completely covering it reduces the airflow around the unit, which lets the moisture in the air surrounding it increase. If too much moisture collects around the unit, mold and mildew may grow. If you cover the entire unit, you may not only need to call an AC service company for a tune-up in the spring, but you might also need to call a mold removal service. Partially covering your air conditioner will provide protection against the worst weather while allowing for enough air movement. To partially cover your unit, simply put a piece of plywood on top of it. This will keep most rain, snow and sleet from seeping down into the unit, and it will guard against hail damage. At the same time, just using one piece of plywood will also let air circulate through the unit so that moisture levels don’t get too high. If you...

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Got A Squeaky Furnace? Find Out Why And How To Fix The Problem

Posted by on Nov 17, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Got A Squeaky Furnace? Find Out Why And How To Fix The Problem

If your furnace begins to squeak or squeal, it is telling you that something is amiss and it needs to be repaired. If you fail to take action and correct this problem, your entire unit could stop working. However, if money is tight or if you are fairly handy, you may be hesitant to call in a furnace repair company. Luckily, a squeaky furnace is typically something you can repair yourself. Here are a few questions you may be wondering about the topic and the answers. Why is the Furnace Squeaking? Unfortunately, there are a few reasons why a furnace may be squeaking or squealing. One of the most common reasons why a furnace is squealing is because it is dirty. Luckily, this is an easy fix. Shut the furnace off and vacuum or wipe away excess dirt and dust once the unit has cooled. If this doesn’t solve the problem, the problem is likely a worn belt or a furnace blower motor that is in need of oil. How Can the Furnace Blower Motor be Oiled? If your furnace is squeaking, and you have cleaned the furnace, the next thing you will want to do is oil the furnace blower motor. If you have your unit serviced by a professional on a yearly basis, this service is done for you. If you have not had this service performed, there may not be enough oil in the motor which causes the squeaking noise you hear when the unit is in use. This part should be oiled on a yearly basis, preferably before the cold season hits and your furnace is used often. Oiling a furnace blower motor is something you can do yourself by following the steps below. Turn the furnace off and allow it to completely cool before touching it. If you touch it before it has cooled, you could burn yourself. Open the furnace door to access the internal parts of this unit. You may need a screwdriver or wrench to open the door depending on what types of screws or bolts are holding the panel in place. Look at the base of the unit and locate the blower motor assembly. The assembly is on the base of the unit and you will see a ball or egg-like shape sitting on the base. This is the motor. Once you have found the motor, you will have to decide if you have enough space to reach in and oil the motor without removing it or whether you will have to remove it. The amount of space you have varies on your hand size and the make and model of furnace you have. If you don’t have enough space to reach in and oil the motor, you will have to use a wrench to remove the screws that are holding the motor to the assembly base. Place a few drops of a non-detergent lubricant oil made specifically for a furnace blower motor into the oil ports. The oil ports are small holes within the motor that are clearly labeled as with the word oil on them. There may be two or three ports on your furnace, depending on the size. Only place a few drops of oil in the ports as over-oiling can lead to issues. If needed, reconnect...

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3 Heat Pump Problems That Can Be Avoided With Preventive Maintenance

Posted by on Oct 15, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 3 Heat Pump Problems That Can Be Avoided With Preventive Maintenance

As with any utility system and appliance in your home, it’s important to keep your heat pump running properly with good maintenance. Not only can maintenance prevent your heat pump from breaking down, it can improve the air quality in your home and make the heat pump run more efficiently. In fact, a severely neglected heat pump can use 10-25% more energy than one that is properly maintained, which is important considering that nearly half of the energy your home uses is attributed to heating and cooling. It’s important to understand that there’s a bit more to maintaining a heat pump than changing or cleaning the filters regularly. Here are three problems that can be prevented with maintenance.  Clogged Vents  The vents located on the casing of your outdoor unit need to be kept clear of debris, snow, and ice. In the winter, heat pumps work by pulling air in through the vents and sending that air over a compressor coils to heat it and then into your home through the ducts. It reverses in the summer by pulling air from your home, cooling it over the condenser coils, and returning the cooled air to your home while dispelling the hot air outdoors. In either case, the vents need to be clear in order for the unit to work properly.  Regularly check the unit for debris, such as leaves in the fall from nearby trees. Snow and ice should be promptly removed during the winter months. The reason for this is because if air cannot move from the coil, it causes the heat pump to recycle the same air, which in turn causes the defrost cycle frequency to increase. This, in turn, causes your heat pump to use more energy.  Stink Bug Infestation  Pests can get inside the outdoor unit, especially stink bugs that are attracted to the heat that is radiated from the heat pump. The big problem with this is that stink bugs are attracted to other stink bugs by the scent of a chemical called aggregation pheromone, which is not the odor they release when they are squished. Before you know it, you could have a colony of stink bugs living in your heat pump.  There’s a mechanism called a contactor inside a heat pump. The contactor opens and closes to send voltage to various components. If a stink bug were to get trapped and squeezed when the contactor opens or closes, it could cause your home to smell like stink bugs. It could also cause the voltage to not be applied to the components, which can cause your heat pump to malfunction.  Check the heat pump for stink bugs on a regular basis, especially if you start noticing stink bugs inside your home, since they can get into your home through the ducts going into your home from the heat pump. Hire a pest control company to remove any stink bugs from your heat pump.  Dirty Sock Syndrome   Mold and slime can accumulate on the coils and in the condensate pan. This problem can cause microbial life to live and breed inside your heat pump, which can cause your home to smell like a locker room. In fact, this is known as the dirty sock syndrome in the HVAC community. Not only will it reduce the...

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Diseases Raw Sewage Carries And How To Clean And Disinfect Your Home After A Sewer Backup

Posted by on Oct 7, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Diseases Raw Sewage Carries And How To Clean And Disinfect Your Home After A Sewer Backup

If you experience sewage coming up from your drains or hear a gurgling noise in your plumbing, you might have a blockage somewhere in your home’s plumbing. A blocked sewer line can be smelly and can also cause dangerous sewage to flow into your home, so it is important to have it repaired as soon as possible. Here are some diseases that can come from raw sewage, the health problems they cause, and how to properly clean up after a sewage back-up in your home. Giardiasis Giardia is a microscopic parasite present in sewage and causes an infection in your intestines after you have ingested it. Symptoms from giardia will begin one to two weeks after you have been exposed. Some of the symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, and can last for several weeks even after the parasites are gone from your intestines. Sometimes the symptoms can stop and return weeks later. If you get giardia, it will usually clear up on its own. If not, you can see your doctor to get an antibiotic to treat the parasite. Children are more prone to contract the parasite, then pass it on to adults. So, be especially careful if you are caring for a child who has giardia so you do not become ill from it. Giardia can also cause you to develop a long-term intolerance to lactose once you have had the infection.  To clean up after sewage where Giardia may be present, always wear gloves and clean up any sewage waste with soap and water. Then, using a mixture of 3/4 cup bleach to one gallon of water, wipe down all hard surfaces and allow the cleaning solution to sit on the surface for ten minutes. Rinse the surface with clean water. If you are cleaning soiled carpet or upholstery, remove the sewage waste with a wet vacuum and clean the area with a regular detergent. Using a steam cleaner, steam clean the area at 158 degrees F for 5 minutes or 212 degrees F for 1 minute to disinfect. You can also clean and disinfect toys and bedding. Smaller items can be boiled for at least one minute. If you live at an elevation above 6500 feet, boil items for at least three minutes. Then, wash fabric items in your clothes washer with detergent and dry them on the highest heat setting for at least 30 minutes. Cryptosporidiosis Cryptosporidium is another parasite that can live in sewage waste and is a leading cause of waterborne disease in the United States. The Cryptosporidium parasite is covered with an outer shell, which makes it tolerant to chlorine and alcohol disinfection and able to survive outside your body for a long period of time. This self-protection allows the parasite to be easily spread to other people.  Cryptosporidium causes intestinal discomfort, including nausea, vomiting, and fever, leading to dehydration and weight loss. If you get Cryptosporidium from a sewage leak in your home, it will normally clear up on its own, unless you have a weakened immune system from an underlying health condition. In this case you should see your doctor for treatment. Because Cryptosporidium has a protective outer shell, you need to follow special procedures to clean it up after a sewage leak. Always wear gloves and use disposable cleaning products so you can dispose of them after their use. Wash any bedding...

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Simple Tips To Protect Your HVAC Unit During A Severe Thunderstorm

Posted by on Oct 6, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Simple Tips To Protect Your HVAC Unit During A Severe Thunderstorm

From making sure your outdoor plants are protected to insisting the kids pick up all their outdoor toys, chances are there are a number of precautionary steps you take when a nasty storm is approaching. However, while performing all the usual steps to ensure your home’s exterior and interior is prepared, you might be overlooking another crucial aspect: your HVAC system. Don’t allow your HVAC system to suffer needless damage. Here are a few ways protect it from the rain and wind: Protecting the Exterior HVAC Unit Making sure that your exterior HVAC unit is protected is vital and begins when you first purchase and install the system. Here are a few tips that you can utilize to ensure your HVAC unit is ready to go once the clouds have passed: While the HVAC unit is being installed, speak with the technician about the proper placement. The technician will recommend installing the unit off the ground and above the flood level. Purchase a cover for your unit. There are several options available, including canvas covers or custom-built wooden lattice models. Whatever you choose, make sure the unit is completely protected from the elements. Clean up any debris, yard waste, outdoor toys or patio furniture that is near the unit. This will ensure none of these loose items are picked up by the wind and thrown into your unit. During the storm, turn off any power to your HVAC unit. This will help ensure that any power surges don’t cause some serious damage. Preparing Your Basement and Turning The Unit Back On In addition to making sure the exterior unit is well-protected, it’s important to ensure that the HVAC’s components that are found in the basement are also safe. Once again, in order to provide the optimal level of protection it’s important to plan ahead. The best way to prevent damage caused by flood water is to have a sump pump installed in your basement. If there is any standing water in your basement, which could damage the HVAC unit, the pump automatically switches on. According to Home Advisor, the average homeowner will spend approximately $600 to $1500 dollars to have a sump pump professionally installed. Once the storm has passed and before you turn your A/C back on, examine the exterior unit for any damage. If there was any severe damage or if the HVAC unit is under water, don’t turn it back on, and instead, contact a technician immediately. Not only are you at risk for a serious shock, flooded HVAC units can be contaminated with any germs that are found in the flood waters. Next, check out the furnace exhaust vent, which is located on the roof. The vent, which is typically a small metal pipe, is used to eliminate the carbon-monoxide fumes that are naturally created by the unit. If the pipe is missing or severely damaged, don’t turn on the unit. Contact an HVAC technician, like those at Allied Air Conditioning & Heating Corp, to repair the pipe first. Finally, whether there was any water-related damage to the unit or not, it’s best to replace the HVAC filter. If the filter becomes contaminated with flood water, it could spread germs throughout your home once the unit is turned back on. Making sure the exterior and interior components of...

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Solving The Hot Water Problem In Tiny Houses

Posted by on Oct 1, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Solving The Hot Water Problem In Tiny Houses

Tiny houses are increasing in popularity. Not only are they more affordable than the gigantic McMansions, they can easily be moved to other locations. One thing that may concern you if you are considering living in a tiny house is the availability of hot water to meet all your needs. Fortunately, there are several appliances that provide hot water without the need of having a hot water tank taking up space in a tiny house. Here are a few options to consider.  Tankless water heater Tankless water heaters heat water when it is needed instead of heating a large amount of water and storing it in a tank. Tankless water heaters can use electric or gas to heat the water you need on demand. Another feature of tankless water heaters is that you can adjust the temperature setting directly on the unit. This can prevent you from getting burnt by scalding hot water, and it can also keep your electricity or gas usage to a minimum.  Install a tankless water heater directly in between your shower and sink in the bathroom and another one underneath your kitchen sink. Or, you can install one unit to service both your bathroom and your kitchen. However, using one unit could pose a problem if someone attempts to use the kitchen sink while another person is taking a shower. Consult with an installation service like Smedley & Associates, Plumbing, Heating, Air Conditioning to learn about these types of possible limitations of having one unit for your tiny house. Washer/dryer combo A washer/dryer combo is an excellent way to wash and dry your clothing while taking up a small amount of space. Choose a washer/dryer combo that has the ability to heat water within the unit. That way, you won’t have to worry about the capacity of your tankless water heater being affected when it’s being used for showering, meal preparation, or washing dishes.  Besides the small footprint of these units, the best feature is that you don’t have to remove wet clothing and transfer it to a separate dryer. You simply place your clothing inside the appliance, change the settings for the particular wash and dry cycles you need, and turn it on. Return in a few hours to freshly laundered and dried clothing, depending on the type of clothing and the settings you used.  When choosing a washer/dryer combo for your tiny house, you’ll want to look for a unit that heats water and also does not require an air vent. Most of these units use a condensation drying process that does not require an air vent, which is a good thing in tiny houses that are already limited in wall space.  Dishwasher If you prefer using a dishwasher instead of washing dishes by hand, you may be happy to learn that there are tiny dishwashers available for tiny houses. When choosing a dishwasher, look for one that has as built-in water heating system so you don’t run into similar problems that were covered in the previous section with your tankless water heater.  Some are designed to sit on top of counters, and some have wheels on them so they can be rolled into place to use and then rolled out of the way when not in use. Since you probably don’t want to...

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Learn Why Your Air Conditioner Trips Your Home’s Circuit Breaker

Posted by on Sep 28, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Learn Why Your Air Conditioner Trips Your Home’s Circuit Breaker

Imagine your central air conditioning system suddenly stops working. The first place you’re likely to check is your home’s circuit breaker. You find the breaker switch for the A/C unit, reset it and your A/C comes back to life. . . at least until it suddenly stops working again sometime later. If this happens on a constant basis, then there may be a problem with your A/C system that’s tripping the circuit breaker. Understanding How Circuit Breakers Work Circuit breakers are an electrical failsafe designed to prevent your home’s electrical circuits from being damaged by current overload or short-circuiting. Whenever electrical current jumps above a safe threshold, the circuit breaker essentially disconnects the problem circuit, shutting off power to the offending circuit and the devices that happen to rely on that circuit. Knowing Common A/C Issues That Could Trip the Circuit Breaker Circuit breakers are usually triggered only when an appliance or device is drawing more current than it was designed to. In the case of the typical A/C system, this only happens when the unit is working harder than usual due to a blockage or impediment that’s preventing normal operation. These often include the following: A blocked or clogged air filter – If the air filter isn’t replaced regularly, it’ll eventually accumulate enough dust and debris to completely block incoming air flow through the return air vent. As a result, the A/C unit’s blower fan has to run harder to draw in shrinking amounts of air flow through an increasingly blocked filter. The A/C unit draws an ever-increasing amount of current to operate normally until the circuit breaker finally overloads and trips. Dirty evaporator and/or condenser coils – The evaporator and condenser coils allow the A/C unit to collect indoor heat and transfer it outdoors. As dirt, grime and mildew builds up on the coils, it becomes harder for the coils to transfer heat. This causes other parts of the A/C system, including the compressor, to draw more current in an effort to maintain its cooling performance. Eventually, the electrical draw causes the circuit breaker to trip. Refrigerant leak – As the A/C system slowly loses refrigerant, the compressor has to work harder to keep the remaining refrigerant properly pressurized. This can cause higher-than-normal electrical draws that eventually trip the circuit breaker. Defective components – A bad switch, relay, capacitor or motor can also cause the circuit breaker to trip regularly. Solving the Problem After finding out what could potentially cause your A/C system to trip its circuit breaker, you can do the following to help fix the problem and keep it from happening again in the future: Swap your dirty air filter for a clean filter. Ideally, this should be done at least every three months, although many experts recommend changing your air filter on a monthly basis for the best A/C system performance. Inspect the A/C system’s wiring within the indoor cabinet (where the evaporator coil is located) to make sure there aren’t any burnt wires or damaged relays or switches. With the A/C system shut off at the circuit breaker, use a garden hose to rinse off the condenser coil. Make sure the coil is free of dirt and debris and allow it to dry for an hour or two before turning the system back...

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