Posts Tagged ‘Desoto Lakes’

Your Branches Hammock HVAC System and the Gas Line

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

What happens if you lose your gas line? What relationship does that simple copper pipe have to the comfort control of your Branches Hammock home? It depends largely on the scope of your HVAC system and what time of the year you lose gas, but the answer is almost always that it will have a pretty big impact.

What Uses Gas in Your Home?

There are a number of components that use gas in your home. The first and most common is your furnace, but you will find that your water heater may also use a gas line and some packaged air conditioning systems use gas for heating components.

  • Heating – If you have a gas line, it’s very likely that your heating system uses gas as an energy source. It’s the least expensive of the three major energy sources (oil, gas and electricity) and gas furnaces are extremely efficient. In terms of how much gas you will use, one cubic foot of gas contains 1040 BTUs of heating energy per hour.So, if your furnace offers 100,000 BTUs of heating capacity, it would use 96.15 cubic feet of natural gas when running at full capacity. Keep in mind, though, that a gas furnace is rated with an AFUE rating. This is the percentage of the fuel consumed that is actually converted to heat. So, if your AFUE rating is 90%, your actual BTU production would be 90,000 for the same 96.15 cubic feet of gas. The cost of natural gas varies by location, but is generally around $1 per cubic foot.
  • Water Heating – For a water heater, gas rates are charged by kWh. Your water heater should have a placard or sheet that lists its maximum production per hour so you can determine how much gas it uses per hour when your hot water is in high demand.

Gas is a highly volatile substance and while there are a number of safety measures implemented in your Branches Hammock home to protect your family, it’s important to ensure the gas lines are well maintained. Annual maintenance is a must to keep the gas working properly. If you do notice a leak or sudden loss of gas, don’t call a contractor – call the gas company immediately as it could be an emergency.

Bradenton Heating Installation Question: Is Geothermal for Me?

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

Geothermal heating is a great alternative to other types of home heating systems in Bradenton. It is safe and efficient, costs very little to operate and makes use of a great renewable resource right below our feet. But is it right for you? Well, geothermal heating may be the right choice for many people, but there are many things to take into account before you can determine whether or not it is the best choice for your home.

The first important thing to understand when you are trying to decide whether or not to go with geothermal heating is how one of these systems actually works. A geothermal system heats your home by extracting heat from the ground and then transferring that heat into your indoor air. This happens when liquid, usually water or antifreeze, passes through a loop of pipes installed several feet below the ground.

The liquid absorbs heat from the ground, which in the winter is always warmer than the air, and carries is back up to an air handler inside your home where that heat is allowed to disperse into the air. Once the air is heated, the air handler blows the air through a system of ducts throughout your house, providing a constant stream of heated air to all areas of your Bradenton home. The liquid, on the other hand, simply cycles back through the ground loop to pick up more heat and repeat the same cycle over again.

Because a geothermal heating system does not actually generate heat, it requires very little energy to operate. This means that it is both very cheap for you to run and environmentally friendly. But since installing a geothermal heating system involves putting pipes in underground, it can be pretty expensive initially. However, as long as the amount you save every month on your heating costs is enough to offset the high initial price of installation, it is worth it to put down the money up front.

Another alternative, of course, is a more traditional air source heat pump. These are much cheaper to install and nearly as cheap to run. However, air source heat pumps are not as efficient when the air temperature gets below freezing as a geothermal system can be.

Casey Key Heating Installation Tip: Comparing High-Efficiency and Mid-Efficiency Furnaces

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Whenever you are in the market for a new furnace for your Casey Key home, there are many models to choose from.  Many of the furnaces manufactured within the last few years are high-efficiency furnaces with a high AFUE rating (AFUE measures the amount of fuel the furnace converts into heat). When people refer to a mid-efficiency furnace, they are usually talking about older furnaces.

Single-stage furnaces were considered to be an efficient heating system when they were manufactured, but compared to newer furnaces, they use up a lot more energy than they need to. Single-speed furnaces are designed to run at full capacity until the temperature inside the home reaches the thermostat setting. After they shut off, the home not only loses heat, but the furnace will also take longer and burn more fuel when it cycles on again.

Newer, two-speed and multispeed models run consistently at lower speeds, and the ones with variable-speed blowers are even more efficient because they can operate at various levels. These models will also automatically adjust to the thermostat to maintain a constant temperature, which saves energy by keeping the home at a consistent temperature so that there’s little heat loss.

When shopping for a new furnace, keep in mind that the AFUE ratings for multispeed and variable-speed furnaces only determine the efficiency of the actual furnace. If you are upgrading your old, mid-efficiency furnace to a high-efficiency furnace, you should make sure that your Casey Key home is properly insulated and sealed.  You could also consider upgrading any older doors and windows to more efficient double-paned ones, or you can also install storm doors and windows.

How to Calculate Duct Size for an AC System: A Guide from Sarasota

Monday, October 17th, 2011

Duct sizing is a complex process using one of three methodologies. The goal of duct sizing is to provide the perfect space through which heated and cooled air can travel around your Sarasota home. Ducts should provide ample air flow to keep you comfortable without overworking your HVAC system or costing you an arm and a leg on your energy bill.

Methods Used for Sizing

There are three methods used for most modern duct sizing. The first is the Velocity Method. The velocity method takes into account the speed at which air flows through the ducts based on their general size. A series of equations is used to determine this, including duct cross sectional area, air flow rate and air speed. A much more detailed breakdown is available on the EngineeringToolbox.com for those interested in the math behind the process.

In general though, the velocity method allows contractors to determine the appropriate size and layout of ducts based on their application (residential, commercial, industrial or high speed) and their position (main or branch ducts).

Contractors may also use the Constant Pressure Loss and Static Pressure Recovery methods to design ductwork for your HVAC system. The constant pressure loss method tends to result in more components but provides a more accurate reading of the actual pressure loss in the system based on the materials used and the layout of your ductwork.

Static pressure recovery focuses on ensuring the same pressure level is achieved at all vents and inlets for the system. It is probably the most complicated sizing method, however, so it is rarely used for residential installations.

Simplifying the Process

Were we to break down the process into its core components, this is what a contractor would do when sizing your duct work:

  • Determine CFM for Each Room – using the Manual J for load calculations, they would determine the CFM. This is based on the (Room Load/House Load) x Equipment CFM. The entire house must be measured and load calculations completed before this can be done.
  • Friction Loss Rate – Friction loss rate is the (Available Static Pressure x100 / Effective Length).
  • Duct Sizing – Finally, the contractor will use a chart or software to select ductwork based on the friction loss and CFM calculated in the first two steps.

The goal of all of this math is to ensure that the system installed is exactly as large as is necessary to distribute heated or cooled air to the entire house. Incorrect measurements result in improper delivery of that air and a system that doesn’t quite get the job done.

Your HVAC System’s Condensate Drain Line: Some Pointers From Desoto Lakes

Friday, August 26th, 2011

There are a lot of components involved in a properly working Desoto Lakes home HVAC system. One component that many people overlook is the drain line for the air conditioning system. Your air conditioning system has condenser coils that sweat the water drawn from the air in your home as it is cooled by your AC unit. These coils produce a significant volume of water, especially when it humidity is high, so a condensate drain pan is installed to capture the moisture and keep it from damaging your home.

A drain line from the drain pain out of your home is required to transfer all that extra water, but it can easily become clogged by debris in the area or simply from heavy condensation. If this happens, the drain line might need to be cleared or even replaced.

Inspecting your Condensate Drain Line

Full inspection of your drain line involves checking quite a few components, so I will point you to Inspectapedia for a thorough rundown of what you should look for (and some pictures to show you what you don’t want to see). But, in short, you want to look for evidence that your condensate drain is overflowing or that the liquid in your drain pan is backing up into the air handler.

You may also notice that there is no liquid coming out of the condenser – a sign that there may be a major problem in the system that needs immediate inspection. If this happens, make sure you check for blockages and if nothing is present, call a contractor.

Cleaning Your Drain Line

Each year, it is recommended that you clean your drain line to make sure it is clear and ready for the summer’s heavy cooling and high humidity. The simplest way to do this is to disconnect the drain line and attach a hose to blow the line clear. This can get a little messy, so make sure you dress for the occasion. Another option if you have a wet/dry vac is to attach the hose to the end of the drain line and suck free any moisture still in there. Most wet/dry systems have attachments for drain line clearing or you can order one.

If your drain line is not clearing properly, call a professional for a more thorough inspection. If you have regular maintenance done on your AC system each spring, this should be part of the process so make sure you write down any questions you have for when the contractor visits your home.

Energy Performance Ratings for Windows, Doors, Skylights

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

When you are picking out windows, doors or skylights for your home, you will have a lot of factors to take into consideration. Not the least of these is how well or poorly the product in question will transfer heat into your home or help to block it out. Luckily, there are actually energy performance ratings listed on most windows, doors and skylights so that you can make the most informed decision possible about which product is best for you.

But what do these ratings actually measure? There are actually several categories that are reflected on the energy performance label, and understanding what these various statistics mean will help you pick out the best product for you.

For instance, the Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) is something that reflects how well the window transfers heat from the sun into your home. A low SHGC means that the window lets in very little heat, while a high SHGC indicates a product that allows a great deal of heat to pass through into your home. The right one for you, however, depends on your own particular needs.

If you live in an area with a mild summer but a harsh winter, you may be interested in allowing the sunlight to help heating your home in the winter. And if the summers are not that extreme, you might not mind the heat coming in at that time of year.

The opposite would be true if you live somewhere that has very hot summers, though. In that case you might want to keep out as much heat from the sun as possible and be content to heat the house all on your own in the winter. So the ideal SHGC for you can vary depending on your own particular circumstances.

Other elements taken into account when the energy performance of windows, doors and skylights is measured are the amount of visible light the product lets in, how well it insulates your house, how much air is allowed to leak out through joints in the structure of the product and how resistant it is to allowing condensation to develop.

All of these elements will impact how well you are able to maintain a comfortable indoor environment all year round and how much it costs you to do so. Because of this, it can be worth paying a bit more for a door, window or skylight if it means that you will save on your heating or cooling bills every month because of that product.

The Facts about Indoor Air Quality

Friday, July 15th, 2011

One of the least understood aspects of your home’s comfort system is the indoor air quality. Most people assume that once they have a good furnace and air conditioner installed, there’s nothing left to worry about. However, with the push in the last 20 years to reduce energy loss through poor insulation, most homes are sealed up tighter than ever before. This doesn’t just cause stuffy indoor air – it can actually lead to illness.

How Bad Can Indoor Air Quality Get?

Homes built in the 1980s were recommended to have one third of the ventilation of those built before. Today, the standards have returned to their original levels, but for many years, homes were built with poor ventilation and excessive insulation. The result is a space that holds the air in too well. Everyday contaminants and allergens like dust, pollen, pet dander, mold, or smoke cannot get out of your home and as a result, you can get sick.

In fact, some people even suffer from Sick Building Syndrome (SBS). This is when they feel ill constantly, with respiratory symptoms that have no root cause and are hard to diagnose. Often, it is because they simply breathe too many contaminants and too much stale air.

Fixing Air Quality Is Simple

The first thing needed to fix air quality is a good filtration system. Despite what many people think, simple filtration is not that expensive. There are big, powerful purification systems with advanced ionization units and UV lighting to kill bacteria and viruses, but most families are served well with a simple HEPA filter to remove things like dust, pollen and dander.

It’s a good idea to have your indoor air quality tested, however, just to make sure other contaminants are not present. High humidity can lead to mold growth, and poor ventilation can lead to exhaust or gas fumes in your home. A good carbon monoxide detector is recommended for the latter, but testing should be done to make sure nothing else is floating around.

Finally, make sure your home is properly ventilated. Standard ventilation tends to leak heated or cooled air outside, so many homeowners now opt for energy recovery ventilators. These systems have heat exchangers that transfer warm air between indoor and outdoor air.

However you want to fix your indoor air quality issues, know that there are plenty of things you can do with the help of a good filtration device and regular cleanings of your ductwork and vents.

Mold…What if I Have Mold?

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

No one wants to find mold. But, even if you’re not aware of it, mold is probably lurking somewhere in the damp, dark crevices of your home. And mold is particularly likely to grow in homes with improperly regulated humidity. Luckily, because we know that, there are quite a few things we can do to stop the growth of mold in its tracks and save your home from unsafe air quality and the damaging effects of those little spores.

The Dangers of Mold

As mold grows, it can do damage to your woodwork and other areas of your home. It also contributes to indoor air quality issues because mold spores are a significant indoor air contaminant. Many people are allergic to mold spores, so if you or someone else in your household has experienced allergy symptoms that you can’t explain, mold spores are a likely culprit.

If you find out there is mold in your home, don’t panic just yet. There are some things you can do to address the problem and get mold out of your house for good. Your main task will be getting rid of the mold that is already there. This isn’t necessarily easy because of the areas mold tends to grow in. But, even with the proper air quality treatment, your home and health is still at risk if you don’t target that existing mold fast.

Stopping Mold in Its Tracks

Just getting rid of existing mold won’t solve the problem, though. Mold keeps coming back as long as there is an environment to support it – and that means moisture. Mold requires water to grow, so the chances are that if you have a mold problem in your home, you also have a humidity problem. Getting your indoor humidity under control will make it much easier to remove and keep mold out of your home for good.

There are plenty of good humidification systems on the market today. They can be easily integrated into your home heating and cooling system and provide great, consistent humidity control. Make sure you get one that’s large enough for your home. An indoor air quality professional can help you make that determination. Once you have a good humidification system in place, you’ll notice a huge difference in your overall indoor air quality, and hopefully the problem won’t return anytime soon.

Space Heating vs. an Upgrade to Your Heating System

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

If your heating system isn’t really cutting it anymore, it may be time to take a step back and consider what your options are. After all, upgrading to an entirely new heating system is a big investment and a large project that will likely disrupt your life at least for a short period of time. However, under certain circumstances it’s the best alternative out there.

One option to consider when you’re unhappy with your home heating situation is supplementing your central heating system with space heaters. These are generally inexpensive and can be placed virtually anywhere in your house or taken with you from one room to another.

Especially if there is a small part of your home that your heating system just doesn’t seem to reach or that you want to keep a bit warmer than the rest of the house, space heaters can be an excellent option. They’re small, safe and portable and can easily keep a smaller portion of your home or room cozy and warm.

However, you’ll have to take into account the operating costs of a space heater as well as the initial investment when you’re trying to evaluate the overall cost effectiveness of this option. Most space heaters run on electricity, which often costs considerably more than oil or natural gas. If your home heating system runs on electricity anyway, this might not be so much of a factor. But if you have an oil or gas furnace, you could wind up paying significantly more to run space heaters as supplemental heat over time.

Also, it’s worth considering that new home heating systems are likely much more energy efficient than the system you currently have in place. Although the initial installation cost can be pretty substantial, you’ll wind up saving a very large amount on your monthly heating bills by upgrading to a newer model.

Plus, you’ll be getting a system that should be able to satisfactorily heat your home without the need for space heaters or other supplemental heat sources. This translates into a pretty hefty savings over time and that’s something you’ll certainly have to take into consideration when you’re evaluating your options.

New Thermostats – Are they Worth the Investment?

Friday, January 28th, 2011

When you are trying to save money around the house, a new thermostat is definitely worth looking into. Sure, your old thermostat works fine. But there are a lot of features available on newer models that can help you save money on your heating and cooling costs throughout the year.

And you do not need to wait until it is time to replace your home comfort system to upgrade your thermostat. Most thermostats can work with many different types of heating and cooling systems. So no matter what type of HVAC system you have or how old it is, you should be able to integrate some type of new thermostat into it.

But how can a new thermostat save you money? Well, they simply offer a lot of features that you can use to your advantage. For instance, even the most basic programmable thermostat can let you set different temperatures for different times of day. You can program the thermostat to turn the heat down during the day when no one is home and then you can have the heat switch back on just before you get home.

That way, you can come home to a nice, warm house without having to pay to heat it all day long when it is empty. Many newer thermostats also are more accurate and can provide more pinpoint control of your heating and cooling system. That means that you will not be wasting money because your heating system gets the actual temperature in your house up to 75°F when you only really need it to hit 72°F.

Newer thermostats help you to save money in a variety of ways, and that savings will more than pay for the cost of having a new thermostat installed. That is because thermostats are actually quite cheap and easy to install. A relatively basic programmable thermostat should not run you more than $100, and even if you opt for one of the more advanced systems out there, you will not pay more than a few hundred dollars.

That is a small price to pay considering the increased comfort possible with a state of the art thermostat and the potential for savings every month on your heating or cooling bills. Plus, you likely paid a considerable amount to have that state of the art HVAC system put in. It is worth paying just a bit more so that you can get the most possible out of it.