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

Types of Air Filters: A Tip from Ballard

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

When choosing an air filter for your Ballard home, there are many options. Each type of material is designed to capture a different type of particle to a different degree, so make sure you choose carefully based on the specific air quality problems your home has.

  • Disposable – Disposable filters are the simplest and least expensive option on the market but they are usually rated as low as 1-5 MERV and don’t last very long. These types of filters are usually designed for basic mechanical filtration to stop debris from causing problems for your furnace or air conditioner and are therefore not ideal for actual air quality improvement.
  • Fiberglass – Fiberglass filters are very common in almost all HVAC systems and are more permanent than disposable filters. They come in MERV ratings of between 4 and 12 and are highly efficient at capturing larger particles like dust, pollen and dander. These can be dangerous, however, as they fragment and can send fibers into the air.
  • Polyester – These have a higher resistance rating than most fiberglass filters and are therefore more durable against larger particles like dust and pollen. They also don’t fray like fiberglass and are more durable over time.
  • Electrostatic – Electrostatic filters have a charge to help collect dust particles and are usually made with multiple layers of polypropylene material.
  • HEPA Filters – This is a completely different category of filters and is designed to capture everything as small as 0.3 microns – well below the threshold most commonly provided by standard HVAC filters. They can be purchased for your HVAC system or as standalone filters for individual rooms.

There are a number of different filter types to maintain the air quality in your home. If you’re interested in getting the most out of your home’s air quality control system, make sure you do it with the best possible device available to your system. Contact a professional if you’re not sure what options will suit you best.

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Why Insulate a Basement in Granite Falls

Monday, November 28th, 2011

Especially if your Granite Falls home’s basement is unfinished, you probably do not spend much time down there. And if that is the case, it can be hard to see why you would want to expend the time and money to put in quality insulation in an area of your house that you do not use for much other than storage. But your basement can be costing you a lot if it is not insulated and you probably do not even realize it.

The simple fact is that closing the door to your basement does not summarily cut it off from the rest of your house. The entire floor surface of the first floor of your house is directly connected to the basement and there is a great deal of heat lost through there in the winter. That means that your central heating system will have to work harder to keep the living spaces of your house warm. Plus, the floor will just always be cold.

But putting insulation in your basement can dramatically cut down on the amount of heat you are losing in the winter. Rather than channeling that heat right through your floor and out into the cold soil beyond, an insulated basement will hold the heat and help to keep your first floor warmer. This will reduce your heating costs and it can also cut back on many of the moisture retention problems that basements are so prone to developing.

There are several different ways to insulate a basement and the appropriate one for your situation will depend on a variety of factors. Some insulation needs to be installed on the exterior of the basement walls, but this can be difficult and costly if you are trying to do it on an existing home. Exterior basement insulation usually makes the most sense when you are building a new home.

However, you can still insulate your basement thoroughly with insulation that is installed on the interior of your basement walls. While this may take a few inches of useable space away from you, it will be well worth it in the end.

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Last Chance to Enter To Win an iPod Shuffle!

Saturday, November 26th, 2011

Hurry and click like the “Like” button on the top of our Facebook page for the chance to win an iPod shuffle! Your chance to enter ends on November 30th and we will have the drawing on December 1st. No additional sign-up necessary!

Just click the “Like” icon at the top of our Fan Page to have a chance to win a free iPod Shuffle! It’s that easy. Drawing will be held on December 1st. We will contact the winner through Facebook – no additional information necessary!

Once you like our page, you will have access to updated promotions, articles, and maintenance tips/reminders to keep your home or business comfortable through the seasons.

Also, if you have received a service from us, we warmly welcome you to share any comments on our Facebook wall. We are always grateful for your feedback!

Good luck to you all!

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving! We plan to celebrate by eating lots of turkey and enjoying some time with our loved ones, and we hope you do the same! Thanks for choosing us as your contractor. Here is a recipe from allrecipes.com for Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake, a treat that will get your holiday started off right!

Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake

“Cheesecake lovers will applaud this addition to the holiday dessert selection. A layer of traditional cheesecake is topped with a layer of pumpkin pie flavored cheesecake and baked. ”

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 (9 inch) prepared graham cracker crust
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch ground cloves
  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
  2. In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Blend in eggs one at a time. Remove 1 cup of batter and spread into bottom of crust; set aside.
  3. Add pumpkin, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg to the remaining batter and stir gently until well blended. Carefully spread over the batter in the crust.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until center is almost set. Allow to cool, then refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight. Cover with whipped topping before serving.

For more details, click here.

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Is My Home as Comfortable as It Could Be? A Question from Startup

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

When it comes to your Startup home’s indoor comfort, there are a surprising number of things you need to take into account. Of course, you need to have a good heating and cooling system in place so that you can easily maintain a comfortable indoor temperature all year round. But that really isn’t enough when you’re trying to create the optimal indoor environment. So what else do you need to consider?

Humidity 101

Well, for starters, it’s a good idea to check the humidity levels in your home. Improper humidity can lead to all sorts of problems, and it can also make it harder for your home heating and cooling systems to maintain a comfortable temperature. Air that’s too dry doesn’t hold heat as well as properly humidified air, so in the winter, your heating system will have to work harder to keep your family comfortable. Too little humidity can also dry out your skin and cause the symptoms of colds, allergies and asthma to last longer and be more severe.

On the other hand, if there is too much humidity in your home, you’re more likely to develop problems with mold and dust mites. And your home cooling system will have a harder time keeping you comfortable indoors. Luckily, there are plenty of great humidification and dehumidification systems on the market right now that can take care of all of these types of problems for you, and they’re definitely worth looking into if you’re concerned about the overall comfort level in your home.

Indoor Air Quality

Along these same lines, you should take the time to have your indoor air quality checked by a professional. Indoor air pollutants are a growing problem, particularly in newer homes that are sealed up tight against the elements. These seals prevent all of your temperature conditioned air from escaping and make your home more energy efficient, but they also lead to inadequate ventilation and a buildup of things like gasses, dust mites, bacteria, mold spores and pet dander in your indoor air.

These are obviously not the types of things you want to breathe on a regular basis, so it’s a good idea to invest in ventilation and an indoor air quality system that can bring in a steady supply of fresh air from outside and remove any harmful contaminants from the air circulating through your home.

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What Do the Energy Stars Indicate? A Question from Wallingford

Monday, November 21st, 2011

If you’re in the market for any type of appliance for your Wallingford home, you’ve probably come across some that boast an Energy Star certification. But what does this really mean? After all, there are all types of special labels that manufacturers put on their products to make them look better, so how can you know which ones are really worth paying attention to?

Why Energy Star Matters

The truth is that no matter what type of appliance you’re looking for, from a coffee maker to a new furnace, buying one with the Energy Star label is definitely a good investment. This certification is conferred by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and it can only be used on products that pass the EPA’s stringent tests for energy efficiency and environmental impact.

Energy Star products create fewer pollutants like greenhouse gasses because they use less energy to get the job done than their inefficient counterparts. This is great for our planet, but it also translates to savings for you as a consumer. Because Energy Star appliances use less energy to heat or cool your home or do whatever else you need them to do, your monthly bills will be significantly reduced.

Quality and Performance Measured

And you don’t have to worry about inferior performance as a result of increased energy efficiency either. Energy Star products can only receive the label if they provide all of the features you’ve come to expect from comparable products across the board. They need to maintain high energy efficiency ratings while still maintaining a superior level of performance.

While it’s true that you may wind up paying a bit more for an Energy Star product, that is only a one-time cost. If you compare the monthly savings you’ll receive by using your Energy Star appliance on a regular basis to what you would pay out over time with a less efficient model, it’s easy to see how the Energy Star product costs you less.

For all of these reasons, the Energy Star rating is definitely worth looking out for when shopping for home appliances and equipment. These products are made to be reliably energy efficient and can save you a ton over the years as long as they’re properly cared for.

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Testimonial – Vicki from Kirkland

Friday, November 18th, 2011

If you are thinking about getting your home’s heating system replaced for the upcoming winter, G & S is ready to help! Here is what Vicki from Kirkland wrote to us about her heat pump installation:

I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for doing such an excellent job installing our heat pump last Tuesday. Your team was pleasant, professional, courteous, respectful of our home, polite and wasted no time standing around. I saw them carefully measuring things, cooperating with each other and vacuuming when they were done. They covered our carpet where they were going to be walking from outside to where the interior unit was being installed.

I shall not hesitate to recommend G & S Heating to anyone I know who may need your company’s assistance in the future.

– Vicki in Kirkland

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Geothermal Myths: Some Pointers from Fall City

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

As with any misunderstood technology, there are a lot of myths and misconceptions concerning geothermal heat pumps and how well they work. While these types of systems certainly have their limitations, the same is true of just about any type of heating and cooling system you could have installed in your Fall City home. But if you are really trying to evaluate whether or not a geothermal heating system is right for your home, you need to know exactly what is true about these systems and what is just not true.

For instance, there is a widely held belief that geothermal energy is not a viable heating option in areas with harsh winters. The fact is, though, that even when the air temperature outside is below freezing, the temperature several feet below ground can be as high as 55°F.

With a ground temperature like that, a geothermal heat pump will have no trouble extracting enough heat to keep your home comfortable even when it is well below freezing outside. And even when the ground freezes, the frost usually only extends three or four feet below the surface. Since the pipes for your geothermal heat pump will be at least four feet down, the frost should not affect them at all.

Also, it is common for people to assume that geothermal heat pumps will always need to have a regular heating system in place to serve as a backup. In fact, a geothermal heat pump is quite capable of providing consistent and adequate heating for your entire house as long as it is properly sized and installed. Make sure you are dealing with an experienced and qualified contractor and you will have no problems along these lines.

There are also plenty of myths floating around out there that geothermal heat pumps are just too expensive to make sense as a home heating solution. The truth is that geothermal heating costs almost nothing to operate.

While it is true the geothermal systems are quite a bit more expensive to install than many of the other options, alternative heating systems will still cost a significant amount to install and you will also have to pay much more to operate them on a regular basis. With a geothermal heating system, you pay quite a bit up front, but it is a one-time cost and there will be minimal monthly heating bills after that.

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What to do if Your Furnace Isn’t Producing Enough Heat: A Guide from Green Lake

Monday, November 14th, 2011

If your Green Lake home is cold, many blame the furnace for not bringing up the warm temperatures or they blame the thermostat for not working right.

It may very well be a thermostat issue – often caused by the location of the thermostat – that is causing the problem. However, sometimes root cause is found in the furnace or ventilation system.

Your indoor environment may be contributing to a seemingly slow-moving furnace. Your furnace may be working too hard to keep up with the heat demand because of an excessive build-up of dirt or debris on the filter or around the moving parts, such as the motor or fan belt. The most obvious thing to do is to keep the airflow unobstructed and keep all working parts clean.

First of all, you should regularly check your furnace filters and if they are dirty, replace them or clean them. Disposable furnace filters are relatively inexpensive and come in a variety of sizes and media ratings (ratings determine what size media is used and its ability to trap certain sized particulate). You can buy these individually or in bulk from a number of different resources. It is a good idea to replace the filters every three-six months.

Mesh filters can be removed, cleaned and reinserted. Like replaceable filters, mesh filters should be checked on a regular basis and then cleaned at least every three months.

You can remove the access panels to your furnace and inspect the components for any build-up of dust, dirt, or debris. Using a vacuum with an extension hose usually is all it takes to clean up the area.

Other reasons for poor heating performance include dirty or blocked ductwork. The harder your furnace has to work to push air through the ventilation system, the longer it takes to bring the heat up. Make your furnace work less and keep vents clear and ductwork clean.

Finally, the reason your furnace isn’t producing enough heat may not be the fault of your furnace at all – you may have a leaky house. But that’s a whole different story.

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The Hardest HVAC Maintenance: A Tip from Monroe

Friday, November 11th, 2011

Do you hate to work on your own mechanical equipment in your Monroe home, like furnaces and plumbing fixtures? You aren’t alone. Many people are not cut out to be do-it-yourselfers (DIYers). They prefer to hand off their maintenance and repair chores to qualified professional. That’s not a bad thing. But there are lots of DIYers who prefer to work on their own home repairs – and those are the people who aren’t afraid to take on the most challenging jobs.

If you are looking for good ideas on how to maintain your home’s heating and cooling (HVAC) system beyond the normal filter changeouts, here are some good things to check – things that will help with the overall performance of your HVAC system.

  1. Check the ventilation system. The ventilation carries conditioned air from a main source throughout your home.  It takes a little time and effort to check your ventilation system for things like cracks or leaks around joints, but it is an important maintenance task. You may even find separations between joints or holes caused by nails. A leaky ventilation system could be sending conditioned air into attics, walls, or crawlspaces and making your furnace work extra hard just to keep your living areas warm and comfortable. Take time to visually inspect as much of your ventilation system as possible – usually metal or flex duct – and repair using joint glue, metal filler, or duct tape.
  2. Inspect the insulation. Your heating system works in conjunction with the insulation in your home to provide comfort and warmth while saving you on high utility bills. A home that is poorly insulated or not insulated at all will cause a furnace to work harder and not only send utility bills higher, but increase the possibility of mechanical failure. Replacing or adding insulation in walls and crawlspaces is a relatively easy, yet time-consuming task. You can roll down or tack up fiber insulation or blow in insulation into walls. You can also seal up cracks on your home’s walls, roof, or foundation with a number of different products. Once again, your goal is to make your heating system work less and save you money.
  3. Check the visible components of the furnace. A build-up of dust and dirt can make the moving components of your furnace work even harder, such as the motors, fan belts, contactors, etc. If you live in an area where there is lots of dust and humidity or if your home has several occupants and/or animals, it is particularly important to check your system on a regular basis. This can be done by removing the access panels and taking a vacuum cleaner hose into as many areas as possible. A good, thorough vacuuming should produce immediate results and make your furnace run much more efficiently.

Try these three steps and you may not have to repeat them for another year or so – possibly not ever again while you live in your home.

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