G & S Heating Cooling & Electric Blog: Archive for August, 2011

Upgrading Your Central Air Conditioner: Tips From Medina

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

When the time comes to upgrade your central air conditioner in Medina, you will have a lot of things to take into account. If you were generally satisfied with the performance of your old system, it can be very tempting to stick with a similar model. But if you do not examine all of the options out there right now, you may very well be missing out on a great deal.

If you already have a central air conditioner in place, chances are that you also have ductwork throughout your house. In that case, you will probably be better off with a packaged air conditioner as opposed to a split system. If it is a split system you are replacing, however, you should probably keep your search limited to other split systems. Installing a packaged air conditioner when you do not already have ducts in place can dramatically increase the overall cost of the project.

You will also want to make sure that the system you choose is compatible with the heating system and air handler that you already have in place. Most central air conditioning systems can be integrated easily with all types of heating systems, but you should still check to make sure this will not be a problem, particularly if you have an older heating system.

In terms of picking out the right new system for your home, energy efficiency is probably the main factor to consider. While just about every air conditioner on the market right now will be much more efficient than the unit you are replacing, you want to make sure you get a model that will provide you with the optimal savings in the long run.

This does not necessarily mean that you should go out and buy the most energy efficient air conditioner out there. In fact, because the more energy efficient units are also typically more expensive, you may not actually save money by going that route. But you will do well to choose a unit that will save you enough monthly to offset the installation costs and for most people, that means that you will want an air conditioner that is either a SEER 14 or SEER 16.

Of course, the actual amount of money you will save as you move up through the SEER rankings depends on how much you use your air conditioner to begin with. For more information about how to choose an air conditioner that is right for you, please contact your local contractor.

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The Advantages of an Air Conditioning System: A Guide From Marysville

Monday, August 29th, 2011

Just about everyone knows that air conditioning systems keep your indoor environment cool and comfortable during the hot summer months in Marysville. While this may be enough of a benefit for you, there are also some other benefits to having a central air conditioning system installed in your house as well.

For instance, if you have someone in your household who is more susceptible to extreme temperatures than most people, an air conditioning system can actually help improve their overall health. Babies certainly fall into this category, as they have more difficulty than older children or adults do controlling their body temperature.

Also, many elderly people or people suffering from certain medical conditions, particularly heart conditions, are especially sensitive to the heat. If they are unable to stay cool, it can be very dangerous and damaging to their health, and an air conditioning system helps to guarantee that they will be able to stay cool and comfortable even on the hottest days of the year.

Aside from direct health concerns, air conditioning systems can also help to alleviate the symptoms of colds and allergies. They do this by controlling the level of humidity inside your home. If the air in your house is too moist or too dry, it can exacerbate cold and allergy symptoms, as well as dry out skin and make the indoor environment generally uncomfortable.

Proper humidity control is also important because it helps to ensure that any air filtration or purification system you have in place is able to operate at peak efficiency. Many of these units have a hard time extracting particulate contaminants from the indoor air that circulates through them if that air is too humid or too dry. With a state of the art air conditioning system in place, however, you will not have to worry about whether or not the humidity level in your home is out of balance.

It is also worth noting that a central air conditioning system can be preferable to a window mounted unit because it provides for a more even distribution of cool air throughout the house. Also, when you have a central air conditioning system, the condenser which is the source of most of the noise and vibrations that air conditioners make will be located outside and out of earshot. With window mounted units, on the other hand, there is really no way to block out or diminish the noise.

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Common Problem Areas for HVAC Systems: A Guide From Green Lake

Friday, August 26th, 2011

No one wants to have to call a contractor in to inspect their HVAC system in their Green Lake home. Problems in heating or air conditioning tend to be costly and time consuming to fix. But, the longer you wait, the bigger the problem is likely to get. So, it’s important to act quickly when you suspect a problem with any of the following common sources in an HVAC system:

  • Power Lines – Your HVAC system uses a lot of electricity so if it stops working, turns off suddenly or frequently shuts down, it may be a power issue. If the system stops working at any point, check your breaker box for a blown fuse or tripped breaker. You should also check the electrical line to your HVAC system. If you see any damage from animals, weather or otherwise, call a professional immediately.
  • Gas Lines – if you have gas furnaces and appliances, gas supply problems can be a major issue for your HVAC system. There are a number of safety measures in place in a gas line system. The gas valve connecting the gas line to your furnace has as safety shutoff switch. Your home has a carbon monoxide detector. A pressure drop in the system will also cause a shutoff. So, the most common problem you would face with a gas line is that is stops providing gas, usually because there is a problem in a component. If this happens, call the gas company immediately to check your system, and of course if you smell a leak, leave the house and call the emergency line for your gas company.
  • Drains – Air conditioners have drain pipes that release the condensed water that builds up inside as they run. However, over time, that drain can clog up if it’s not properly maintained. If you have a central air conditioning unit, check the drain pan once every week or so to make sure it is draining properly. Frequently, this drain pipe will be located higher in your home so that it can drain properly away from the property. Call a professional if it continues to clog or fails to drain at all.
  • Venting – Vent problems can result in more than just stuffy air. Clogged or dirty vents are fire hazards and they can decrease indoor air quality, making it both uncomfortable and unhealthy inside. Vents and ductwork should be cleaned annually to avoid the buildup of debris and sediment. Additionally, you should do a visual inspection once a month to check for debris and vacuum the space where possible.

Most of the problems commonly associated with your HVAC system need to be checked and repaired by a professional. However, by remaining vigilant and checking them regularly, you can avoid a much bigger problem and subsequent repairs.

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Staying Safe with Clean Indoor Air: A Tip From Brier

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

Millions of homeowners are living in polluted air and don’t even know it, it can happen even if you live in Brier. In fact, the quality of air inside homes is a significant factor influencing the health and wellbeing of millions annually. The World Health Organization estimates that 1.6 million people die every year as a result of poor indoor air quality. That makes it the 8th most common risk factor for death in the world and a huge contributor to cancers and other respiratory health problems.

So why is indoor air quality such an issue? Consider for a moment what a home does. At its core, a home is designed to keep you and your family protected from outside threats. It does that with solid walls, tightly sealed windows and a well-built roof over your heads. But the same technology that has made homes better sealed than ever also contributes to safety and health problems for residents of those homes by trapping air pollutants inside.

What’s at Stake?

The most common indoor air pollutants are mere irritants. Things like pollen, dust and dander are uncomfortable but don’t necessarily make anyone deathly ill. However, when a home is sealed up too tightly and the air isn’t filtered and cleaned regularly, the result can be downright dangerous to the occupants. Those seemingly innocuous pollutants suddenly make up a much larger percentage of the air inside.

In some cases, according to the WHO, the amount of smoke and other particles inside the home can be up to 100 times higher than what is considered safe outside. Now consider the other pollutants that can be inside the house. If pollen and dander cannot get out, what about exhaust from your stove, radon gas in your basement or mold spores in your ductwork.

You’re breathing all of it and the result is a significant increase in health risks for diseases like pneumonia, respiratory disease, and asthma – all of which are highly dangerous to anyone, but especially children and the elderly.

Solutions Abound

Luckily, this is not a problem you must deal with indefinitely. Modern HVAC systems integrate advanced ventilation technology, air filtration and air cleaning systems to remove the vast majority of these pollutants. But, first, you need to have them installed. Proper testing can help you determine what aspects of your home’s air supply need to be fixed first and foremost. From there it’s just a matter of finding the right contractor.

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Sources of Indoor Air Pollutants in Wallingford

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

Indoor air pollutants are a major issue for Wallingford homeowners and while you may know the most common culprits such as pet dander, pollen, dust and smoke, there are a few other indoor air pollution sources you may not be aware of. Here are some that almost any home will have and simple tasks you can perform to reduce their risk.

  • Cooking Surfaces – Gas stoves in particular are a major source of Nitrogen Dioxide. To reduce the amount of this gas in your indoor air, make sure you have proper ventilation above or near your stove. A simple exhaust hood or wall fan will do the job.
  • Insects – Insects in particular are a major issue.  Their droppings, saliva and dead body parts can significantly increase the risk of health problems like asthma. Many insects produce allergens as well. Prevention is better than extermination both for your indoor air quality and for the general health of those in your household.
  • Dust Mites – Dust mites are different from insects because they are so small (and are technically arachnids). They like things like your drapes, upholstery and carpet. They also like high humidity levels so if you can keep the humidity in your home low, they will be much less of a nuisance.
  • Asbestos – You’ve probably heard that asbestos is a carcinogen and should be covered or removed from your home. But do you know just how many places in your home it can be found? Asbestos is present in old insulation, spackle, pipe wraps and even some older upholstery. If your home is more than 30 years old, make sure it is inspected and checked for asbestos. If found, asbestos is usually isolated so it cannot fray and get into the air you breathe.
  • New Electronics – New products can have a variety of chemicals in them like phthalates that have a negative impact on the respiratory health of those exposed to them. These chemicals are emitted after a product is opened for the first time. With time their concentration will diminish, reducing the risk, but at first, make sure to properly ventilate the space and keep children away from new electronics or computers.

Chemicals, pollutants and other indoor air quality issues are numerous. To avoid a problem, make sure you investigate carefully to determine if your home needs additional repairs. To learn more about indoor air quality, contact an HVAC professional.

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Is it Cost Effective to Use a Ceiling Fan and AC at the Same Time? Some Advice From Stanwood

Friday, August 19th, 2011

There are a lot of ways to keep your Stanwood house cool in the summer, and chances are you’ve incorporated more than one of them into your home already. For instance, ceiling fans are great and can really keep you comfortable in moderately hot weather. But when the heat and humidity really start to pick up during the dog days of August, you need something a little more powerful to take the edge off, and that’s usually some type of air conditioner.

One or the Other?

If you’re like most people, you switch off your ceiling fan when the AC comes on. After all, the air conditioner is powerful enough to cool the house on its own. So is it really worth it to expend energy running another, secondary cooling device?

In fact, it is. Ceiling fans in particular use very little energy. Yet they’re quite effective at making your home feel cool and comfortable. So there’s really no reason not to take advantage of their benefits while running your AC.

Cutting Costs

You might be surprised to learn that far from being a waste of energy, using your ceiling fan and AC at the same time can actually save you money. That’s because the cooling power of the fan allows you to turn up the thermostat on your AC unit a couple of degrees without compromising your comfort levels.

And turning up the thermostat on the AC just that small amount will translate into pretty substantial savings on your monthly energy bills. That savings will more than pay for the cost of running the ceiling fan, and you save money.

Better Air Circulation

Running the ceiling fan with the AC on or off is always helpful in terms of promoting good air circulation throughout your house. And the more air circulates, the more comfortable your indoor environment will be. Good air circulation is also important because it helps to minimize the number of air contaminants that build up inside.

More Efficient Heating

The benefits of ceiling fans don’t stop with cooling either. In fact, you can run them in reverse to help maintain even heating in the winter. Essentially, there are few investments you can make that will serve you better throughout the year than a ceiling fan regardless of the other home heating and cooling systems you have in place.

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Is it Possible to Vent Hot Air from a Garage? A Question From Duvall

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

If you have a garage in Duvall, you know how hot it can get in there on a warm summer day. In fact, the air in your garage is likely hotter and more humid than the air right outside. Of course, you may not spend a lot of time in your garage, so reducing the temperature in there might not be an immediate concern for you.

But just like heat buildup in your attic, higher temperatures in your garage can have negative effects on the temperature in the rest of your home. Heat seeping into the house from the garage will cause your air conditioning system to work harder to keep it comfortable indoors. And that’s going to cost you money.

Getting the Heat Out

For all of these reasons, it’s a good idea to reduce the temperature in your garage as soon as possible. Of course, if you’re actively working in the garage or right outside, you can always leave the door open. This allows an influx of fresh, cooler air to clear it out.

But that’s not really a practical solution when you’re not immediately on hand. After all, you can’t leave your garage door open indefinitely and as soon as you close it, the heat will start to build right back up again.

Vents and Fans

One thing we don’t want to forget is that heat rises. That means installing a vent and fan in the roof where the hottest air will be can help remove the majority of the excess heat building up in your garage. Just like an attic fan, this fan can be triggered to come on when the temperature inside the garage reaches a certain point. Usually, the fan comes on when the indoor temperature reaches a point that is likely higher than outside – 90 degrees F or higher.

The fan then draws hot air out through your vent, reducing the temperature inside the garage to equalize the outdoor temperature. This will be effective in and of itself, but if you want even better results, you can also install another vent towards the bottom of your garage door. That way, as the hot air is pulled out of the top of the garage, fresh air will be drawn in through the vent, providing a constant stream of cooler, fresh air and promoting healthy circulation within your garage.

For more energy saving tips, talk to your HVAC professional.

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How Often Do You Change Your Filters? A Pointer From Mukilteo

Monday, August 15th, 2011

The core component of a good air quality system in your Mukilteo home is your filter. A good air filter removes almost all of the particles that inundate your home every day – from the pet dander that flakes off of your cats or dogs to the pollen released by plants both indoors and out.

But many homeowners are not aware of when they should change the filters in their air quality system. They know it should be done regularly, but how often and when do you ignore the manufacturer’s recommendation to ensure higher quality air?

Know Your Home

The first thing to consider is the size of your home and what types of contaminants you must deal with each day. Air testing helps with this, as does regular cleaning of the areas around your air filter, including your ductwork. If you don’t have any pets and don’t keep any plants inside, your biggest air quality issue is likely dust, and dust will only fill up the filters quickly if you have a large family.

However, if you have a lot of pets, multiple plants and a large family, the odds are that your filter is being put through the ringer every day – asked to filter out a tremendous number of contaminants. This is when you might need to change the filter more often.

Changing Your Filter

If you have a high quality HEPA filter, it’ll probably work for as long as it’s rated. Only lower quality filters or those not large enough for the space in which they are installed will fail early. However, keep in mind that a HEPA filter, even when it can last longer, should always be changed no later than the manufacturer’s recommended date.

For most homes that timeframe is about 6 months. However, some higher quality filters can last as long as 12 or even 18 months in the right conditions. If you use your air filter in conjunction with an air purifier, you should also have the cartridges changed out at the same time as your filter.

If you think you are changing your filters too often, you can always have your air tested to determine if the contaminants in your home require less filtration. Some home have filters larger than they need installed or lower grade filters that get changed too often unnecessarily. As long as your family is safe and healthy, you might as well try to save some money.

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How Does Geothermal Energy Work? A Question From Preston

Friday, August 12th, 2011

Geothermal energy is energy extracted from the ground, Preston or anywhere. This energy is in the ground in the first place because the ground absorbs the heat coming from the sun. This heat is always there, even when it is very cold outside. In fact, even when the ground appears to be frozen, you can actually extract plenty of heat to keep your home nice and toasty.

While this may at first appear to defy logic, the way that geothermal energy can be used for heating your home is actually quite simple. A geothermal heating system typically consists of an indoor air handler with a fan, a series of air ducts for the heated air to travel through and a closed loop of pipe that extends into the ground below and around your home.

This closed loop of pipe is actually where the geothermal heat is collected. Some type of liquid, usually water or antifreeze, will be continuously run through this pipe loop. As the liquid passes through the area of pipe that is below ground, it will absorb the heat from the surrounding soil. Once the liquid makes it back up to the air handler, the heat is able to disperse, heating the air in the chamber.

This heated air is then circulated throughout your house through the ducts by a fan. After it has released its heat into the air in your home, the liquid will cycle back into the ground to absorb more. This allows a geothermal heating system to provide you with a constant supply of warm air.

Unlike a furnace, which mixes in blasts of very hot air with periods of inactivity to try and keep your house at a constant temperature, a geothermal heat pump is able to provide a more consistent flow of air that is just the right temperature to keep your home comfortable. This means that these types of heat pumps are running just about all of the time as opposed to furnaces, but they are designed to work this way and the constant operation does not cause any excessive wear and tear.

Another great benefit of geothermal heat pumps is that they are able to keep your house cool in the summer as well. Just as the ground is warmer than the air in the winter, it is also cooler in the summer. That means that heat removed from your indoor air can be transferred to the ground in the same way that it was transferred in during the winter.

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Mechanical or Forced Ventilation v. Natural Ventilation: A Tip From Sultan

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

Just about everyone can agree that effective ventilation is essential to maintaining a healthy indoor air quality in Sultan. But exactly what does this entail? There are quite a few ways to circulate air throughout your home, and each method is appropriate for a specific situation.

Benefits of Natural Ventilation

Natural ventilation, of course, can be achieved simply by opening a window. But there’s actually a lot more to it than that. If you really want to ventilate your home through natural means, then you’ll have to learn to take advantage of the differences in pressure in different areas of your home.

One way to do this is to use cross ventilation. This means opening windows or doors on both sides of your home and allowing the outdoor air to blow through, carrying stale, indoor air out the other side. A more sophisticated version of this is stack ventilation.

In a two-story home, stack ventilation can be achieved by opening the windows on the bottom floor on one side of the house and on the top floor on the opposite side. Because of the differences in outdoor air pressure, air will be sucked in through the lower floor windows and out through the upper ones.

Why Natural Ventilation Is Not Always Practical

These types of natural ventilation can be extremely effective when it comes to both cooling an indoor environment and removing indoor air contaminants. Unfortunately, allowing outdoor air inside unimpeded allows outdoor contaminants easily as well.

On particularly hot or humid days, natural ventilation can’t reduce the indoor temperature enough to make it comfortable indoors. While a light breeze is enough to take the edge off on a moderate spring or summer day, more is needed when the weather is extreme.

Types of Mechanical Ventilation

When you think of mechanical ventilation, you probably jump right to large central air conditioning systems. But that’s certainly not the only type of effective mechanical ventilation available. In fact, mechanical ventilation can be performed by just about any type of fan on the market, and while operating a fan is certainly more expensive than opening a window, it’s still much more affordable than running an air conditioner all day long. Fans can also be used in combination with natural ventilation to achieve better results than either system could on its own.

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