Sunday, December 30, 2012

Getting the Most Out of Your Heat Pump

Heat pumps, like other hvac systems,  require require the proper operating techniques to run it's best. The combination of caring for your heat pump in the right way and setting up annual maintenance with your local hvac company can result in a system that is 10-25% more efficient than a neglected one.
Here are some tips to  ensure maximum efficiency between professional maintenance:
  • Use the “auto” fan setting. This allows the thermostat to control the fan and achieve optimal performance. It is also easier on the unit than the constant turning it up and turning it down. 
  • Change the filter once per quarter or as needed.  A new filter will ensure proper airflow and put less strain on the compressor. A new filter is much cheaper than repairing the unit.
  • Clean the outdoor coils periodically. If dirt appears on the outside, that’s your cue to hose down the outdoor coils. You should also keep plants trimmed back so they don’t obstruct airflow.
At least once or twice per year, you should schedule preventative maintenance . During a routine maintenance check a professional HVAC service tech will do the following tasks:
  • Inspect the system for dirt or obstructions and clean it out
  • Check for adequate airflow
  • Check the refrigerant charge and fix any leaks
  • Verify that electric connections are clean and tight
  • Lubricate the blower motor
  • Inspect belts for wear and tightness
  • Ensure the thermostat is operating correctly
  • Diagnose leaky ducts and seal them if needed
Each of these checks will keep your heat pump in it's best condition for years to come, helping you avoid expensive repairs and delaying replacements. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Ductless Mini-Split System: The Many Benefits Of A Heat Pump

Whether your entire house - or perhaps just an area that has been added on - is lacking in ductwork, an excellent solution for air conditioning is the ductless mini-split system. This style of system incorporates an outside unit with an indoor unit placed in the wall. Both are attached directly in a more efficient fashion than a window air conditioning unit. Here's some of the benefits of installing a ductless mini-split system inside your Bay Area home.

  • Ideal for zoning: Cooling down certain areas individually is achievable with zoning systems, contributing to energy savings and customised comfort. With as many as 4 indoor air controlling units for every outside unit, you could achieve as much as four zones in your house having a ductless mini-split system.
  • Simple to install: The hook-up requires merely a three-inch hole inside the wall for connecting the inside and outside units. There's no ductwork necessary, and also the outdoor unit may be placed up to Fifty feet from your indoor evaporator, so that you can install the outdoor unit inside of a shady, very discreet spot.
  • Efficient: Central air conditioning units have to overcome the inefficiencies of duc-twork, and window ac units are especially challenging to seal off. By using an intrinsically efficient ductless mini-split system and closing the space around the hook-up, you could get the very best cooling capacity for your buck.
  • Silent operation: Because the blower is within your immediate area, the circulation of air is likely to be louder compared to a central A/C system, however ductless mini-splits are a lot quieter than window air conditioning units. The humming compressor is outdoors and the unit can be set up to function on low speed for the most quiet operation attainable.
  • Flexible home decor choices: You could attach the indoor unit flush to a drop ceiling, hang it from your ceiling, or install it into the wall. Having a standard depth of just 7 inches, as well as a streamlined, modern-looking jacket, ductless mini-split systems don't take away from from the appearance of your house.

To learn more pertaining to ductless mini-split systems, please don't hesitate to get in touch with Sandim Heating & Air Conditioning in the South San Francisco Bay Area today

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Make Sure You Plan Routine Maintenance For Your Heat Pump Before It’s Too Late

Once the weather conditions begins to cool, it’s time for you to schedule a heat pump servicing. You should prepare your devices some time before wintertime arrives for a number of reasons.
Primary advantages of regular routine maintenance include:
  • Conserving money: Yearly tune-ups are considerably less expensive than the repair or replacement service. Your system will be more cost-effective, which lowers your power bills.
  • Make repairs or improvements: Have an experienced technician evaluate the condition of each and every element of the system and recommend any needed fixes or upgrades prior to winter. Cold temperatures cuts down on the efficiency of the heat pump. That’s because your internal coils need to start generating heat to add to the heat in the air, so it’s essential that they’re clean and in good shape.
Schedule a heat pump servicing by using a certified professional who'll perform a complete, comprehensive job of:
  • Testing airflow: In accordance with Energy Star, over fifty percent of the heat pumps within the U.S. have substantial issues with low airflow and leaking ducts. Certified technicians will test ventilation with state-of-the-art instruments to uncover and correct any problems.
  • Sizing and fixing ducts: Defective ducts makes it possible for as much as 30 % of one's treated air to leave before it gets to the intended area. Therefore, issues with your ductwork really need to be identified so you comprehend any performance problems and prepare for repairs should they be needed.
  • Cleaning and replacing of filters: This should be done every 2 to 6 months, but particularly at the start of the heating time of year.
  • Cleaning your system thoroughly: Every single component part ought to be properly cleaned out and cleared of all the dirt. That also includes the entire evaporator coil, condensate tray, outdoor coils, supply and returning registers, blower fan rotor blades as well as the space around the equipment.
  • Examining the motor and belts: The inner parts should really be examined to ensure they are in very good repair with plenty amount of lubrication where it's required.
  • Testing electrical and protective controls:  All of the controls and electrical wiring ought to be tested to ensure they are working properly and accurately.
To schedule heat pump maintenance for your home, contact your local Sandium heat pump specialist.  We provide expert HVAC service to the South Bay Area and surrounding areas.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Allergic Reactions at Home? You Need a Whole House Air Purifier

Throughout the Spring months, those of us with allergy symptoms are dreading the itchy eyes, dripping noses, coughing and sneezing that allergy season brings.

There's only so much that you can do to guard yourself when away from the home; but indoors, you could choose a whole home air cleaner so you know that you and your loved ones can at least breathe easy in your house. Pollen is among one of many allergens there are. Recent reports have revealed that as much as 15% of folks have dust allergies but as many as 50% of asthma affected individuals are allergic to dust and around 30% of individuals who are afflicted by allergies are allergic to pet dander.
An entire house air purifier is very effective at filtering out dust, pollen, pet dander, bacteria as well as other pollutants - up to 98% of airborne allergens are filtered with a whole house air cleaner. A central air filtering system is set up in your current a / c or central heating system and dependant upon the model, could be effective in homes as much as 5000 sq . ft .
Do I Need a Whole Home Air Cleaner?
That will depend on who within your family would gain from cleaner air and where you spend the vast majority of of your time. The IQAir Perfect 16 is the almost all effective whole house air purifier and is also very effective at cleansing the air in homes up to 5000 square feet however some central air purifiers are only effective for houses around 2000 sq ft. If several members of the family have allergies, a whole house air purifier would be effective at substantially decreasing allergens but if just one person in your house has allergies and spends most of the time in the family room, a portable home air purifier might be all that's necessary. This could then be transferred to the bedroom at nighttime, if it's needed.
You may improve the quality of air in your home and allow your lungs a rest by using a whole house air purifier. Though allergy medications work well at eliminating the signs of your allergies, they just don't eliminate the irritants that actually cause the problem in the first place. By reduction of the allergens in your house by having an home air cleaner, you have one less thing to fret about this coming spring!

Are you aware that the quality of air in your house may very well be more irritating than the air quality outdoors? The environment in your home may very well be helping to make your allergies more irritating! Whole home air purifiers successfully remove up to 99% of allergens within the air to bring you relief from your allergies.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Easy Home Electricity Savings By Duct Sealing and Insulation

Most people are searching for ways to "go green" nowadays. From water bottles made from plants, to old tires becoming development materials, businesses everywhere are marketing "green". All of this talk of carbon footprints and global warming has successfully made its way into the everyday vernacular and left homeowners evaluating their own impact.

Their are a number of gimmicks around to maximize your electricity efficiency and reduced your power bills, but most of them just pray on an increasingly energy conscious public. Doing work in the weatherization field I frequently get questioned for advice on cutting back on utilities and making a home more energy-efficient. I usually respond by telling the homeowner to adhere to some basic steps: shut off lights that are not being used, and then get a programmable thermostat assuming they don't curently have one.

If they need to do more however, I let them know that one of the greatest returns on investment for virtually any house is raising the efficiency of their forced-air heating and air conditioning system. Typical cooling and heating systems may be over 20 % inefficient. These inefficiencies signify that for each and every five dollars in paying to heat or cool your home, a dollar has been thrown away trying to condition your attic or unfinished basement. For those who spend $2000 dollars per year on heating and air conditioning utilities it's a waste of $400! That's money you're wasting and greenhouse gases which are being produced without real gain. Give it some thought, the less energy-efficient your house, the more you undoubtedly pay to pollute our environment.

By sealing and insulating your ducts you could dramatically boost your systems efficiency. Improperly sealed ducts can dump your conditioned air (air that's the humidity and temperature you prefer) back into the non-conditioned areas the ducts are running through. It's efficiency lost! Additionally, non-sealed return ducts will in fact pull the non-conditioned air surrounding them into your ducts causing your system to have to work much harder to maintain your house for the desired humidity and temperature. Certain house appliances for example hot water heaters and furnaces may also emit dangerous gases like deadly carbon monoxide which could then be drawn in to the ducts through leaky return ducts.

Not insulating your ducts is actually as bad as not insulating your home. Not only does insulating your ducts reduce condensation which can cause moisture problems and toxic mold, but it also assists in keeping the air within the duct the proper temperature. Consider this, if your ducts are carrying 72 degree air yet the ducts are the same temperature as a basement, say 50 degrees, this is a 20 degree temperature battle taking place from your furnace till the air makes its way out into your livable areas of your home.

Duct sealing and insulation is inexpensive as a do-it-yourself project. When you understand what to find and where you should go, you may easily do-it-yourself throughout the course of a few weekends. You don't have to shut off your furnace or air conditioning system to insulate and seal the ducts. Obviously, I normally recommend getting a professional get it done if you aren't very technically inclined, however this is among the safer DIY projects. In either case with all the expense of energy increasing this can be a great project for you to do and also to realize an incredibly quick return-on-investment.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Insulation to Keep Us Warm — Not Warm the Planet

I've been quite vocal in regards to a real problem with some of our most typical insulation materials: that they're manufactured by using blowing agents that have highly concentrated greenhouse gases.

All extruded polystyrene (XPS) and almost all closed-cell spray polyurethane foams (SPF) are produced with HFC (hydrofluorocarbon) blowing agents which have global warming potentials (GWPs) many hundreds of times higher than that of carbon dioxide. (Sorry for contaminating this column with the amount of acronyms!)

Insulation: great news, not so great news

Insulation materials help our houses save energy and, by doing this, they decrease the burning of fossil fuels and the release of greenhouse gases.

However, if the insulation material itself is made using a very-high-GWP blowing agent which could eventually escape from the insulation, adding a great deal of insulation might actually be a very bad thing from the viewpoint of mitigating climate change. All that was detailed in my article several years ago, "Avoiding the Global Warming Effects of Insulation" and, in depth, in the EBN feature write-up on the exact same topic.

OK for ozone, detrimental for the climate

With XPS, the blowing agent HFC-134a has a GWP of 1,430, which means that it's 1,430 times as potent as carbon dioxide (that is defined as having a GWP of 1). Almost all closed-cell SPF is produced with the blowing agent HFC-245fa, which has a GWP of 1,030.

Relative to global warming, all these blowing agents aren't as bad as the CFCs that have been used originally, however they are as bad as the HCFCs (hydrochlorocfluorcarbons) that have been adopted as second-generation blowing agents. (Both HFCs and HFOs are believed to be completely safe for the ozone, which is the reason CFCs and HCFCs happen to be eliminated.)

Blowing agents: the next generation

Anyhow, given all of this, I've been closely following the breakthroughs by industry in developing alternatives which are neither ozone depleters nor considerable greenhouse gases.

A couple of years ago, it appeared that the primary candidates were HFOs (hydrofluoroolefins), and Honeywell revealed the development of this sort of product in 2011. And also, it was just reported a couple weeks ago that Whirlpool, the nation's biggest home appliance company (with such brands as Maytag, Amana, Jenn-Air, and KitchenAid, as well as Whirlpool), was shifting to a different HFO blowing agent for the polyurethane insulation in all of its refrigerators.

Whirlpool is going to be utilizing the new Solstice Liquid Blowing Agent created by Honeywell, one of the nation's 3 makers of blowing agents (as well as DuPont and Arkema). Solstice HFO has zero ozone depletion potential and a GWP of just 4.7 to 7.0-similar to that of the numerous hydrocarbon blowing agents found in expanded polystyrene and polyisocyanurate - and insignificant relative to global warming.

Performance enhancement an additional benefit

Further more, Solstice HFO will increase the R-value of the insulation components just a little. Compared to HFC-245fa, this HFO yields insulation with 2% higher R-value, and in contrast to hydrocarbon blowing agents it provides an 8% to 10% enchancment, determined by Honeywell.

While the improvement is fantastic, it's not instant. The HFO has recently received its approvals from the united states government, and this will require sometime to ramp up manufacturing and switch refrigerator manufacturers to the new foam. Whirlpool plans to get started on integrating the new blowing agents into its refrigerators in end of the 2013.

Spray-foam producers not so quick to adopt HFOs

But what about the closed-cell SPF insulation that's widely used to insulate buildings?

SPF manufacturers will likely be exchanging the HFC-245fa with HFO . but it's uncertain exactly when that could happen. Rick Duncan, the technical director at the Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance (SPFA), the trade association serving the SPF industry, explained to me that some SPF manufacturers ("system houses") are performing field tests with the new HFO blowing agents, and not all of them. (At least one manufacturer, Icynene, also produces a water-blown, medium-density foam, MD-R-200, which insulates to R-5.2 per inch and is known as both an open-cell and closed-cell product in the Icynene web-site; just about all other water-blown SPF products are thought to be discontinued.)

Unlike in 2003 when federal rules required a change from HCFC to HFC blowing agents as a consequence of ozone depletion fears, there are no similar regulations demanding a switch from HFCs to HFOs.

It's up to us

Plus the conversion process requires time and is also really expensive - about 12 months and a minimum of $100,000, says Duncan. With the building industry still in an market recession, companies aren't planning to invest a lot of extra money on product advancement.

Duncan feels, however, that after a new life-cycle assessment (LCA) report on SPF is released that SPFA is now finalizing, consumers will start requesting for lower-GWP foam and manufacturers will answer by making it. From an environmental perspective, open-cell SPF (which doesn't contain HFC blowing agents) has just 1/20th the global warming effects of closed-cell SPF.

A lot less action in the XPS camp

I wasn't capable of getting nearly as much information and facts from the extruded polystyrene industry about when the HFC-134a may be substituted with a lower-GWP blowing agent and whether there's a gaseous type of HFO which could work with that industry. (While a liquefied blowing agent is utilized in developing SPF, a gaseous blowing agent is essential for XPS.)

Jan McKinnon, the senior communications director at Dow Building Solutions (manufacturer of Dow Styrofoam XPS), states that this company is seeking solutions to decrease its greenhouse gas pollution levels. "Since the kick off of our new formulation in 2010 [converting from HCFC-142b to HFC-134a], we keep looking at reducing our blowing agent global warming potential, and we have an proactive process in position to lower it by 15%," she informed me. She said that they are actively evaluating alternative blowing agents for XPS, "but a good number of of these technologies are still in their infancy."

Not a terrific time to invest in products

Each of the SPF and XPS markets already have experienced a couple of significant changes: from CFC to HCFC blowing agents and then from HCFC to HFC blowing agents.

With a weakened constructing economy and depressed sales and profits of constructing supplies, excitement for a 3rd significant conversion has been very little. However I feel that you will see a increasing demand to make products with very little affect on global climate change as is possible - and in case this year's heat and drought continue on, that demand may possibly increase.

Let's hope so.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Facts to Know About Heat Pumps

You do not have to be a HVAC professional to understand how heat pumps function. If you have one then you should know how it works. 
Heat pumps work like regular systems during the AC season. Keep that in mind when you have one installed in your home.
With a heat pump you should not turn your AC system off. Only using the cooling system on a part-time basis can cost you money in energy bills and repair costs to the system. If you turn it off when you are out of the house, your home will soak up the heat that is there and this will make cooling in the late afternoon/evening much harder to accomplish. You will save $ when you let the thermostat  decide when cooling is required for your home.
The heat pumps in your home will provide warm air during the time of the year when you need heat. The pump will run for long durations of time. They are designed to operate in this manner.
When it is the coldest outside, frost will build up in the outdoor coil of the heat pump. This will begin a cycle of defrosting. When the cycle is taking place, the outdoor fan will stop running and the compressor will make a humming sound.
You will notice that cool air is coming from the registers. You may also hear a whooshing sound and will see water runoff or steam coming from the unit. These functions are all normal and are related to the cycle of defrosting.
During this defrosting cycle, allow it to do its thing. Do not make any changes to the thermostat. The cycle will take anywhere from a couple of minutes to 10.  The time depends on the amount of ice build up on the coil. Once the cycle is finished, the unit will return to the heating function.
If you believe that the heat pump is not working properly, you should call in a professional to evaluate the system. Do not attempt to repair it on your own- you could do more harm than good.
Do not constantly adjust your thermostat. It is best to find a comfortable temperature and then leave it at that setting. There will be more wear and tear on the system if you fiddle with the temp all time. As well, it can be anything but budget savvy to do this.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What You Didn't Know About Your HVAC and Mold Issues

Certain kinds of mildew in your personal property can trigger powerful serious side effects and can even cause harm to the nervous system in little kids or older folks. Not only that, substantial mold issues are incredibly costly to eradicate and can lower the overall worth of one's residence. Most men and women do not know which actions they can take to avoid the development of all these harmful bacteria in their HVAC systems. If you have discovered mold developing on your HVAC air vents then you want to consider taking safety measures straight away. Contacting a nearby HVAC expert is an excellent initial move to evaluate your circumstance and to swiftly remedy the issue.
What molds are and where you will find them
Molds are forms of living fungi. They develop in an organic setting. Small contaminants of molds are located just about everywhere in the interior and outdoor atmosphere. Molds assist in eliminating inactive elements, and can be observed developing in the dirt, on refrigerated goods, vegetation and many other objects.
Fungi are also incredibly prevalent in structures and private properties. Mold requires humidness in order to expand. Inside, mold advancement is mostly discovered in any place where there are high ranges of moisture content, such as cellars and bathrooms. All of these molds create incredibly tiny cellular material known as spore. Spores are effortlessly dispersed by means of air flow. Spores are also distributed by bugs and moving water.
One thing you need to understand is that there will constantly be mold existing in buildings as spores and portions of mildew material. The occurrence of living fungi is very standard. However, you must not allow mold to develop and flourish inside of any type of building. When this takes place, your amount of direct subjection will maximize, and thus boost the threat of possible wellness complications. Development supplies, domestic products and household furniture might also be harmed. Mold has to feed in order to live, and it's completely satisfied ingesting your house if you permit it to.
Health issues caused by mold
Tons of health complications can arise from subjection to mold. Some of them include hypersensitive sickness, damaging side effects, disease, and poisonous outcomes. When individuals are susceptible to illness from molds, they will show indications such as nasal irritability or blockage, scratchy throat, coughing, exposed skin breakouts, or dried out eye balls. Those who have serious allergic reactions to molds might have additional severe side effects, such as high temperature indicators or respiration challenges.
If you have pre-existing serious health issues or health defense challenges then you are more probable to catch disease from specific molds, germs and microorganisms. The harmful consequences of these types of molds are not properly comprehended by everybody, and they are presently a debatable subject matter between medical professionals.
The simplest way to check for mold
Interior mold development will generally be observed with the eyes or through smell. Most of the time if noticeable mold progression is found, testing is not required. Testing for mildew in the atmosphere can be costly. It should also only be completed by knowledgeable specialists. Feel free to examine a mold issue; just never analyze it without proper support.
When you search for obvious mold advancement it might appear to be similar to material types and vary in color. It frequently shows up as a discoloration or wooly expansion on furnishings or structure supplies such as partitions, rooftops, or something built out of hardwood. Search for indications of moisture or deterioration caused by wetness. All these include leakages, staining, and wetness build-up.
Getting rid of mold
Mold must be cleansed as quickly as it shows up. Anybody who decided to clean up mold should be sure they will have no allergic reactions to it. More compact locations of mold must be washed with a cleaning agent mixed with water or a industrial fungus cleaner. Protective gear needs to always be utilized throughout the cleanup process. The flushed location should then be completely dried out. Toss out all of the cloth materials that were used during the process as well.
Remember, having mold in your HVAC system does not imply that you are incapable of keeping up cleanliness of your own house. It basically indicates that there are sections of substantial dampness or moisture content content that are generating suitable reproduction bases for mole spores. All these resources of water mixed with areas of particle and debris build-up inside your ducts are serious trouble spots and have to be treated very quickly.
You must take the initial action to have your HVAC system skillfully cleansed. If the moisture origin is not resolved, you are going to have an additional issue in the near future. Do not be afraid to contact a local qualified specialist and have the examine your ducts for the main source of the problem.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Is DIY HVAC a Good Idea OR a Bad Idea?

Is do-it-yourself HVAC a good idea? It is very important to understand that DIY HVAC is in some cases a great idea, but in most cases, such projects can be daunting and are not for everyone. Let's look at what is involved in a few of a lot of these projects and then decide if you are up to the task.

Air Conditioner or Heat Pump unit replacement: This usually involves removing the existing outdoor condenser or heat pump and replacing it with a new unit. That sounds easy, right? Well, it is, if you know what you are doing and have the proper tools to do it. To remove the existing unit, you, by law, must evacuate the existing refrigerant from the system. This requires two things that most of us do not have, an evacuation pump that removes and stores the refrigerant and a CFC Refrigerant Certification. Ouch!! Now what do you do?

Because of a lot of these restrictions and rightfully so, as the handling of refrigerant chemicals can be dangerous because of extreme temperatures and high pressures that can harm humans if subjected to either, and the ever present concern of releasing the CFC related chemicals into our atmosphere that are illegal to expel, it would appear that you are not going to be able to do this project yourself. But all is not lost.

What you can do, is purchase your equipment from a reputable company that specializes in making HVAC equipment available to homeowners. This will be the most important step you will take. In many cases the money that you will save will be so dramatic that you will wonder exactly why you have not done this before.

Next, you can prepare the site location new equipment. This may include grading an area outside of your own and installing a new pad, either prefab or poured concrete. You can also run and secure new refrigerant lines set between the outdoor unit and the coil. Because you are not directly handling refrigerants, you are allowed and most likely capable of doing this portion of the job. Depending on building and electrical codes in your area, you may be able to run electrical connections and have those ready for qualified professional connection or possibly make a lot of these connections yourself. You can purchase and install a new thermostat if needed as well. As you can see, there is plenty that you can do yourself that will save you money in the end.

When the time is right, hiring a local skilled professional to complete the project is the best option and may be the only option. But remember that the money you have saved by purchasing your own equipment and the pre-work that you have done yourself will pay big dividends.

Friday, December 7, 2012

5 Tips To Winterize Your Home

1. Tune-up the heating system

As you probably know from the previous winters, approximately 30% of the household expenses during the cold season stem from the heating system. On a side note, based on the region you live in and the resource you utilize for heating - mainly electricity, gas and oil - this expenditure could easily double. Therefore, it is highly advisable to test their functionality, check for faulty devices, change filter systems and perform any other maintenance tasks to ensure they are in top working condition.

2. Check the insulation on the ductwork

Without properly insulating the ductwork that runs all across your house, you risk wasting about 60% of the heated air by trying to maintain a comfortable temperature indoors. If you're tired of wasting so much money, then it would be a good idea to insulate the ducts, particularly in the cold areas of one's house such as the basement, attic or crawlspaces. In case you observe pinches and gasps, then utilize a metal backed tape to fix them. Even though regular duct tape can do the trick in most cases, it won't be as efficient if you have an older ductwork. Don't forget to wrap up the pipes that run outside your house as well.

3. Button up the home windows

Ideally, winterizing the windows would imply replacing the current home windows with resilient storm house windows as their extra layer of protection works great on keeping the warmth inside the house. However, if you can't afford to spend money on new home windows, there is still a viable solution for your personal situation, namely insulated blinds. While many homeowners don't give them too much credit, in reality the insulated blinds have the potential of doubling or even tripling a window's efficiency level.

4. Block the air leaks

Did you know that air infiltration is the number one reason for the low temperatures at your residence? However, air leaks are simple to handle as all you need to do is walk around with a smoke stick to  discover and block them. Getting door sweepers and caulking the doors and home windows is usually an easy trick to prevent cold air from making its way into your house.

5. A programmable thermostat would really come in handy

Since you want to keep the heating bill from eating into your bank account too much, it would be wise to spend money on a programmable thermostat that will turn the heating system on and off according to the desired interior temperature.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

HVAC Water Damage

Unbeknownst to most, your HVAC system is a common source of water damage. The very mechanics of your own HVAC system produces condensation (water) that has the potential to escape from the HVAC system and into your house. The biggest risk of an HVAC leak is that the leak may not be detected immediately thus potentially exposing you and your family to mold, structural damage, and costly repairs.

The risk of mold is well known and well documented and it is a real concern to a healthy house. Should your HVAC leak into your structure, mold can be introduced into your HVAC system, which, in time, can germinate and be spread throughout the entire building so that your exposure is maximized. Water is classified in to three categories: categories one, two, and three which defines the level of contamination and precisely how to professionally address each water category.

In truth, albeit unfortunately, there is no practical or safe way for a layperson to remove mold or bacteria from an affected area as the technology, skill, and technique required is not common knowledge and is a skill of craft. While anyone can apply an antifungal and wipe a visibly effected area clean, such action can, and most likely will, aerosolize microscopic spores thereby spreading the risk opposed to eliminating it which is the primary reason for special care.

Mold, however, is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to HVAC water damage. An undetected leak could silently but relentlessly ravage the building from inside the walls thus destroying the building's core. In the real world, homeowners have no indication that their HVAC system is dripping until they find water coming out of a wall or hear a dripping sound that seems to be without source.

For reasons such as a lot of these, we recommend that you have your HVAC system inspected by a expert on a regular basis. Should the HVAC inspector inform you that there may be a leak or issues with mold then it would be prudent to call your local independent water damage restoration company for help.

While we honor the American Can-Do attitude and it's Do-it-Yourself philosophy, there are some cases that are beyond the scope and ability of a Do-it-Yourselfer... this is such a case. Only an independent, specialist water damage restoration company has the requisite education, experience, equipment, and certifications and licenses to safely and completely remove mold from your house and to return your house to its preloss and premold condition.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Warning signs of HVAC Ductwork Problems

HVAC ductwork issues can go unnoticed for a long time, but the efficiency of this air delivery system directly influences the performance of a home's air conditioner, central heater or heat pump.

A home's HVAC may be losing as much as 30 percent of its conditioned air as a result of faulty or leaky ducts. The HVAC system contains of a long, branching group of duct pipes that snake throughout a 
house, hidden behind walls, ceilings and floors, or in the attic, crawlspace or garage. Because the majority of this system is hidden, house owners can have a hard time visually assessing ductwork's condition. Further, even if the ducts were installed correctly, over time connections can loosen or ducts can incur damage.

Most often, ductwork problems require the help of a 
expert; however, house owners can use the list below to confirm their suspicion of problematic ducts:

* Uninsulated ducts - When a portion of the ductwork system travels through areas that do not have access to cooled or heated air, like an attic or garage, cool air moving through the ducts will succumb to the hotter attic air surrounding the duct pipes, a process called conduction. In the winter, heated air can cool off for the same reason. This ductwork problem, however, is easily remedied by insulating ducts.

* Damaged ducts - A variety of factors can lead to damaged ducts, such as connections breaking loose, human interference or poor installation methods. No matter the cause, if conditioned air leaks out of the ducts, the 
house owner will pay for it in terms of higher energy costs because of reduced efficiency of the HVAC system. Sealing ducts can remedy leaks, but seriously damaged ducts may require that the house owner replace a portion of the HVAC system's ductwork.

* Poor duct returns - A healthy, efficient ductwork system relies on a balanced supply of air sent into the 
house, along with a healthy amount of return air that moves back into the HVAC equipment. The return air portion of ductwork is particularly prone to problems such as a lack of adequate return grilles, and the HVAC system is prone to leakage too. Proper inspection will identify the root of ductwork problems. There must be an equal amount of return air to support the supply air ducts. For every 1 ton of a/c capacity there must be 400 cubic feet per minute of air volume available in both return air duct and supply air. So for example, a three ton a/c systems will need 1200 CFM of duct duct work in both supply and return air ducts.

house owners experiencing hot or cold spots and restrictive air flow in their house should contact an HVAC qualified professional. They will perform a comprehensive ductwork inspection in the house, and will make any recommendations to improve the house owner's HVAC service.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Thermal Comfort: A 40 grit viewpoint for consumers

 It is possible that you're here simply because you are concerned about your indoor climate. So have a look at the instrumentation inside the vehicle. This photograph by LumaSense, is one of various types of test set-ups which help automotive manufactures to determine exactly how you thermally feel inside their products.
Do you notice the way manufactures have improved upon  the windows, they offer heated (and now cooled seating), put zoning controls in the front and back, made the interiors more sound proof, and the air of greater quality? These features came after doing intensive "human factor" based research. The results are being used to make the best interior environment for your driving enjoyment.

So here is the million dollar question for everyone...

Exactly why would you be happy to invest hundreds of thousands of one's dollars (incredibly more than the cost of your new car or truck) into a house where you and your family will spend almost all of your own time and you don't really know whether you will be comfortable in it or not? Do you see contractors doing thermal comfort research? Why not? Do your own homework and see the way many many people in the different heating and cooling chat rooms are trying to solve thermal comfort problems with many people who likely created many of the problems to begin with. Our favourite site for entertainment is the GardenWeb heating and cooling forum...have a look - scroll through the current and past threads and observe an entire population trying to fix problems and make decisions on stuff with folks who have good intentions but many of them couldn't define the elements of thermal comfort even if their licenses depended on it.

Understand, the health of the indoor climate has an impact on you and your families health. If your determination on your interior environment is not based on science...exactly whose sales pitch are you relying on...those who want your money? Really? Gather around folks while we have a heart to heart about you and your shopping experience for thermal comfort.
As odd as it seems, people take more time exploring pet food, beds and linens, or sports and audio equipment then they do their own interior environments. If consumers actually treated their investment in their indoor climate like shopping for cosmetic surgeons they'd end up with much better results...anyways, the car or truck manufacturers know and care about your physiological and psychological comfort and it shows by their research and the introduction of healthy and comfortable features and benefits.

So you Jack and Jill from the university of hard knocks maybe with a degree or two behind your name, have you yet questioned the contractors or renovators just how much formalized thermal comfort research have they done while building to the very least allowable standards in North America affectionately named the, "Building Codes"? No? Pity.

How about the heating and air conditioning sub trades and their are going to give them a check representing your hard earned money in exchange for an undetermined indoor climate? Have you questioned them? What specialised schooling they have on human physiology and psychology as it relates to thermal comfort...after all it'll be a real live human being (that would be you) that will complain. No? We aren't surprised since human factors are not included in heating, ventilation & a/c nor building design educational curriculums - go figure.

As bizarre as it sounds, if you are like the majority of educated consumers you have bought into a hook, line and sinker on code based hvac "comfort" systems without doing the same exact level of research that likely earned you your first diploma or degree.
Exactly why do we know this?

Because like the visitors of on-line heating, ventilation & a/c chat forums, consumers who shop for thermal comfort almost always gravitate to discussions about heating and cooling products and systems rather than hitting the books on thermal comfort and human physiology which is what the automobile manufacturers did - you see the boys and girls in the automobile design business get it...the building profession (still) doesn't get it. 

Remember grandpa's saying, "if all you carry in your pouch is a hammer, everything looks like a nail"? Well a large segment of the field only carries a hammer and tries to solve every thermal comfort problem with products and mechanical systems without understanding the real problems. As an example, we have pointed out in several articles that the majority in field see heating and cooling as an "air based" problem when the root of the problem in our opinion is a surface temperature problem. I have stated in several publication that if building codes dropped the reference to controlling air temperatures and switched the requirements to controlling mean radiant temperature, building performance specifications would have to change overnight. Ok enough of that - let's get back to you and your shopping for thermal comfort...

So look, there are a lot of  people way smarter than us - you are likely one of them - but even we can see that the public relations, marketing and sales machine have convinced most of  the brightest and wealthiest people on the continent that comfort is a piece of mechanical product or it comes from the bling adorning the house interior. As University of Toronto Professor Ted Kesik has said, “No profession that I know of provides so little factual information to the consumers of its product…”

Just look around you, in the magazines, at the shopping mall at the show homes...everybody does it, but very few really put comfort into scientific can buy a comfort heating system from a comfort specialist, sit in a comfortable chair, walk on comfortable flooring, wear comfortable clothes all under comfortable lighting and calming music but yet still feel hot, dry, damp, clammy and cold...what's up with that?

Here is the thing...other than the many people we've trained, the majority of S & M folks (sales and marketing) selling stuff for your personal house can't advise you about true human thermal comfort. You can test them the article we did originally for Dr. A. Bailes III from Energy Vanguard on thermal comfort then with your knowledge go ask the S & M crowd selling thermal comfort to define it and see what happens.

So precisely why do most people selling thermal comfort services and products not understand what thermal comfort is?

Hold on for it....because they don't have with the intelligence and check book come to them pre-programmed to buy the bottom in "built to code heating vetilation & a/c systems" so you can spend more money on the building bling. It's correct...Americans spend more money on outdoor furniture, hardware, house appliances, pets and cosmetics than they do on the very interior climates they constantly complain about...we like to say customers had been swiped by the "poo and goo machines" by the money they spend on fifi, fido and cosmetic lotions and creams...and let's be honest - the heating, ventilation & a/c field is pathetic at marketing against the big bling machines...and its tough because what we have to offer is unseen. Now on the other hand, if you were to listen to the health and building scientists they'd inform you to pay attention to the unseen...yes its abstract but we're talking about your physiological and psychological well being and they know about that stuff.

Precisely why?

Well...because they've been researching it formally ever since the late 19th century. They even have fancy instruments to evaluate you and your interior spaces just as the automobile manufacturers have done. The great news is out of this science based studies have emerged the interior environment engineer working with thermal comfort standards to form the optimal thermal environment for you and yours.

Wait a minute you might say...thermal comfort standards - huh?

Are you surprised to hear there are in fact 'thermal comfort standards'? Yes? Well they have been published as early as 1966 but don't feel concerned - you're not alone, almost all veterans in the building field have no idea they exist either.
So exactly why doesn't the building field know about thermal comfort standards?
Well hold on for it (again)....because they don't have to know...and since you with the intelligence and check book don't come pre-programmed to ask to see their thermal comfort research proving their indoor climates meet the interior environment standards - they'll never know (drum roll) if you don't ask...and if you do ask - don't be surprised to get the same cocky look you get from your dressed to the nines pooch wearing the pretty pink pet pullover.

That's why it is so important that you do your research in regards to your new house or renovation - it's your money and your determination best places to invest it...we could hope from this point on in you are going to do the necessary research to really understand what it takes to make you thermally comfortable.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Infrared Survey

An infrared survey makes use of a state of the art infrared camera or thermal imager to scan walls, floors, ducts, doors and windows to determine minute temperature differences. Essentially, it converts heat power into a visible picture. Moisture inside a wall or under the roof covering shows up as a result of the slight temperature differences. Cold or warm air is visible flowing from cracks or holes in walls and ducts. Missing or inadequate insulation is evident from the temperature distinction or surrounding locations.

Energy Efficiency

  • An infrared survey locates places of missing or inadequate insulation is walls and ceilings.
  • An infrared survey locates locations of air leakage at doors, windows and wall penetrations.
  • An infrared survey pinpoints areas of air leakage within the ductwork.
Building Envelope Leaks

  • An infrared survey can pinpoint water leakage in walls and roofs too as identify the source area in the leak.
  • Mold will be the outcome of moisture entry. Mold remediation alone will not address the trigger. 
  • A survey prior to remediation will help decide where moisture is entering so that the trigger could be corrected, tremendously lowering or eliminating re-infection.
  • A second survey is advised right after remediation to become certain the repairs had been effective.
  • With mold remediation costing a huge number of dollars, a survey is low-cost insurance coverage.
Electrical System
  • An infrared survey locates "hot spots" in wiring and breaker panels due to overloaded circuits, improper splices and poor connections. 
  • An appropriate survey can tremendously reduce the risk of a residence fire.
Plumbing System

  • An infrared survey can locate breaks or leaks in water lines below the concrete slab.

In numerous circumstances I'm called out to look into a specific item like a roof or wall leak. When you have a single issue that you simply have identified or attempted to right, a single item survey might be all  you want or want. This really is particularly recommended in mold remediation where I may have to return a number of times to become positive the issue has been effectively corrected.

Some issues, like a leak at a window frame could indicate a construction defect. In these cases, I recommend checking all windows, not just those where an issue has become visible. If a single window is improperly flashed, it really is probably that all are improperly flashed.

I, by no means know ahead of time what exactly will be involved in surveying a certain home or the eventual complexity of each job, as a result infrared surveys are conducted on an hourly rate. 


In some cases, a great deal. Here are some examples:
  • The leaking flat roof that no roofer appears to be able to repair. At some point they throw up their hands and suggest replacing the roof. I can often pinpoint the water entry point allowing repairs and saving at times tens of a huge number of dollars.
  • The costly mold remediation that only had to be done once  since the underlying problem was properly identified and addressed.
  • The leaking window frames that were identified and repaired before a mold issue developed.
  • The overheating wiring splices under the drywall that were repaired just before there was a fire.
  • The hot water piping leaking below the slab, caught just before there was major foundation damage.

These are just several examples of the sorts of issues discovered routinely with thermography. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Furnace Buying Tips

The furnace is the most important appliance in your home- just ask anyone who is without a working furnace during the dead of winter. So how do you go about choosing the right furnace? Here are some tips to keep in mind:
 The specs of the furnace must meet your needs exactly. If it is to small it will not heat your home effectively, and too large will run too frequently- thus raising your utility bill, wearing down parts to quickly, and creating a temperature in the home that is uncomfortable. Not to mention if your air ducts are designed for a smaller furnace than the one you purchased, the flow of the air would be loud throughout the house and cause excessive wear on the ductwork.
• Choose a well-known and trusted contractor to purchase from and install your furnace. Some companies may try to sell a unit that is more than what you need just to make an extra profit. You want someone with experience that will come out to your home and evaluate what you really need. 
• Consider energy efficiency.  Check out the furnace's annual fuel utilization efficiency rating. This is a % that will tell you how efficiently it uses energy. This number is common among gas furnaces.
• Think about the various options that are available on furnaces, make a list of wants and needs. You may want to consider getting variable speed blowers on your furnace so that the air moves through your home slowly. This will create less noise at times when not as much heat is neede. It also results in fewer problems with keeping the temperature at a comfortable level inside your home. Variable heat outputs and air filtration devices are also features you should look into.
• Most often it will actually save you money to replace your furnace earlier rather than later. Old furnaces do not operate at the level of energy efficiency that those made today do, so you might want to consider replacing an old furnace simply because of its age.
If you're unsure whether you should repair a furnace or if replacing it is the better option, call in a trusted technician to evaluate the  furnace. It could be as simple as changing out a filter or if a main component has gone out then you will need to replace it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Pros and Cons of Slab Heating

Although slab heating is growing increasingly more popular,  there are still numerous homeowners who are not sure if it is the right choice for them. There are  pros and cons associated with the slab option as there is with any heating system, you must weight each side before making a decision.
  • Slab heating is known for its exceptional performance.

  • This option is completely noiseless operation (or as close as you can get). There is no distinct start up sound that most heating systems have and you won't hear that rattle of the duct work.

  • Slab heating has a thermostat that you can set to the desired temperature; this will ensure that your entire house has the same even temp- from top to bottom.

  • This option is also cost effective when you take into account the costs to install and to run over the years. 
  • Not suitable for two story homes

  • Slab heating is still a new trend amongst homeowners, you might find it hard to find an installer in your area.
 Keeping our homes warm during the winter months of the year is one of the highest priorities of homeowners the world over; with this heating option, you will be able to do just that with relative ease.

Monday, November 26, 2012


Increasing a home's performance can be quickly done and inexpensive

Weatherization is a chance to improve your home's energy efficiency without making major modifications to the overall structure of the house. It should involve a whole-house systems approach that considers all aspects of energy efficiency, safety, moisture control and the durability of the structure.
Test for leaks first, make your improvements, then test the home again.
A whole-house  approach to home performance  includes a number of before-and-after tests that check for air leakage and measure the performance of the hvac systems. A good first step is hiring a home energy auditor to evaluate the performance of your home. A professional auditor will most likely use a blower door, Duct Blaster and infrared camera, as well as other tools, both to quantify and qualify the energy wasting areas of a house. After the testing, the work begins to take care of the problem areas, and when it is finished, the auditor will come back to retest. The results of his 2nd visit tells you how well the improvements you made are working.
Air sealing is the most important
Before any other improvements are made, it is vitally important that air leaks must be sealed. Insulating a  very leaky house is counterproductive, and it makes it more difficult to find the leaks in the future with new insulation piled over the top of the leaks.
Will weatherizing really help to make the home efficient?
Some homes may not be worth the improvements until structural issues or severe site or plumbing problems are taken care of--problems that  would be beyond the expertise of a weatherization contractor. Issues may include mold in a bathroom that doesn’t have proper ventilation; water leaks in the basement; or weak foundations or the framing of the structure.
Educated homeowners use less energy
Some energy problems are people issues not buidling issues. Leaving lights on 24 hours a day, not using exhaust fans in the bathrooms or the kitchen and leaving windows open in winter, educating your family may be  as important as anything else.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Heat Recovery (HRV) & Energy Recovery Ventilators (ERV)

Interior quality of air issues have greatly increased since the the later part of the 1970’s when building technologies succeeded in creating energy-efficient "tight" homes. Heat recovery ventilators (HRV) have for ages been widely used in Canada and are also growing to be popular in the United States. Believe it or not, Canada has a nationwide ventilation law. During 1992 there was in excess of 125,000 systems sold there. Within the U.S., there are only 3 states that have ventilation laws and there are more than 15,000 units presently being used in the United States.

Contaminants inside of homes, which once escaped through cracks and crevices around doors and windows, are now confined inside producing an internal atmosphere that's typically Two to five times more polluted compared to outside the house. Family pet dander, mold spores, dustmites, allergens, cigarette smoke along with other pollutants amount to very poor indoor air quality. An Energy Recovery Ventilator  (ERV) or a Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV) is an excellent solution to combat bad indoor air quality by delivering clean fresh air into your house whilst expelling stagnant air.

ERVs and HRVs utilize internal fans to pull fresh air flow in and then transfer stagnant air out of your house. The main element to efficient ventilation is the HRV or ERVcore -- which warms or cools down inbound fresh air, recapturing Sixty to eighty percent of the conditioned temperatures which would otherwise be wasted.

HRV vs. ERV - so what exactly is the difference?

There's two kinds of energy-recovery systems: heat recovery ventilators (HRV) and then energy recovery (or also called enthalpy recovery) ventilators (ERV). Both types incorporate a heat exchanger core, one or more fans that will help drive air through the device, and some controls. The primary difference between a heat recovery and an energy recovery ventilator is the means by which the heat exchanger core functions. With an energy-recovery ventilator, the heat exchanger exchanges a specific amount of water vapour together with heat energy, while a heat recovery ventilator simply only transfers heat. The part of the United States that you reside is going to determine the type of unit that's right for your family's needs. In most cases - HRVs are generally suggested for cold climates with lengthier heating seasons. ERVs tend to be used for milder, more humid climates with longer cooling seasons.

Installation & Sizing

HRVs/ERVs are normally sized to ventilate the entire house at a minimum of .35 air exchanges each hour. In order to calculate the lowest CFM requirements, you need to take the sq footage of the property (which includes the basement) and multiply by the height of the ceiling so you can get the cubic volume. Next, divide by 60 and multiply by .35.

The ideal way to configure the unit installation on an ERV or HRV is to always make a dedicated system of ducts to blow out old stagnate air from trouble spots (kitchens, bathrooms) and bring in fresh air to the more frequently used areas (lving rooms, bedrooms). Even though this is preferred, it is sometimes not possible - particularly in a retro-fit scenario. The most typical, and much easier installation is achieved by attaching the ERV/HRV supply and exhaust ductwork straight to the return air-duct of the home’s present forced air hvac system.