Posts Tagged ‘Heating’

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.

Southgate Unusual Heating Tips: Four Ways to Save Heat That You Might Not Have Considered

Monday, February 6th, 2012

Finding new ways to lower the heating bills for your Southgate home is always a challenge. Maybe you’ve already insulated and sealed every crawlspace and crack, or you might have recently upgraded that old furnace, but there are always other ways to reduce heat loss in the winter.

Here are four ways to conserve heat that you might not have considered.

1. Insulate Recessed Light Fixtures

While recessed light fixtures save space and give you more control over lighting and design, such as task lighting in kitchens, they can be a hidden source of heat loss. Feel around your recessed lighting fixtures to see if there’s cool air or a draft. If you do, they could need more insulation. However, you have to be extremely cautious about what type of insulation you use around electrical wiring and fixtures. Check with the manufacturer, or call an electrician if you aren’t sure what  type of insulation to use.

2. Insulate Water Heater Tanks

Part of your heating bill each month goes to heating the water in your home. Whether you have a gas, electric, solar, or hybrid hot water heater, every water heater tank has an R-value that determines how much heat it loses. If you have a low R-value, your tank may need more insulation. Call a professional plumber or check your owner’s manual for the R-value of the model you own, but the general rule is that if the tank is warm when you touch it, you may need to buy a “jacket” for your water heater. These are fairly inexpensive, easy to install, and can be found relatively anywhere you buy insulation.

3. Open Curtains on South End

The southern end of your home will get the most sunlight in the winter. If you have curtains or blinds on your windows or doors, leave them open during the day, and make sure you close them at night. Opening them will help warm up the home naturally during the day, and closing them will help keep the cold air out and warm air in at night.

4. Storm Windows and Doors

Many homeowners know they have the option of upgrading old doors and windows that leak air, but not everyone can afford to upgrade all the doors and windows at once. You can also install storm windows and doors to help reserve heat. Before you start comparing prices, remember to measure, since measurements will affect the cost.

You can always call Baker & Sons Air Conditioning, Inc. whenever you have questions about lowering your heating costs for your Southgate home.

Palmetto Heat Pump Tip: Outdoor Maintenance

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Sometimes, the trickiest part about owning a heat pump in Palmetto is keeping the outdoor components maintained. Because they are outside and generally out of sight, it can be easy to forget or neglect them. But because they are outside and exposed to the elements, outdoor heat pump components need attention and maintenance to keep them running properly.

The two most important routine maintenance functions you can do as an owner of an outdoor heat pump are keeping it free of debris and keeping it level.

Every month or so, inspect and clean your outdoor heat pump to make sure it is free of leaves, dirt and other debris. These can easily be sucked in by the fan and reduce the efficiency of the whole system. Turn the power off to the unit and use a vacuum or broom to remove any accumulated debris.

Once or twice a year, use a carpenter’s level to make sure the whole thing is sitting level on the pad. Use the level to gauge both side to side and front to back. While you are doing this, check the insulation for erosion or gaps. If you see that it is not level or the insulation is wearing thin, have a contractor come out reset the unit on the concrete pad or patch up the insulation.

These are two small maintenance tasks that you don’t have to do very often, but they can make a big difference in the performance and life of your heat pump.

In addition, you should always have your whole heating, ventilation and cooling system inspected by a Palmetto professional annually in order to keep everything maintained and in good repair.

North Port HVAC Tip: What Makes a Furnace High Efficiency?

Friday, January 13th, 2012

You’ve probably heard about the new lines of high efficiency furnaces being released by popular home heating companies in North Port, but what exactly is different about these high efficiency devices from your current furnace? Let’s take a closer look at what a high efficiency furnace offers and why it can save you money.

Added Features

A high efficiency furnace uses familiar technology in a new way to reduce the amount of energy lost when combustion takes place. This means:

  • Sealed Combustion – Instead of open combustion which allows heat to escape during and after the combustion process, a high efficiency furnace uses a sealed chamber with carefully measured and fed airflow to burn fuel and produce heat. Exhaust heat can then be recaptured and used to heat air transferred to your air vents.
  • Two Stage Gas Valves – With a two stage gas valve, your furnace can respond to the temperature outside. There isn’t just one “on” switch. The furnace will regulate gas flow based on how much energy is needed to produce heat for your home. So, if there is a sudden burst of cold outside, the furnace will respond accordingly, but for most days when heating needs are low, it will use only the minimum amount of needed gas.
  • Programmable – High efficiency furnaces are now programmable, meaning you can set specific time limits for operation, change thermostat settings digitally and inspect the device through an electronic read out. The level of control given to you by a programmable high efficiency furnace can greatly reduce gas or electricity consumption.

Cost Benefit

The real reason many people are interested in high efficiency furnaces in North Port is that they are so much less expensive to operate. Instead of costing hundreds of dollars to run through the winter, they operate the bare minimum needed to heat your home. Using up to 95% of the fuel they consume to produce heat and regulating gas to cut how much is consumed during milder days, these furnaces are built to save you money.

If you have an old furnace that chews through energy like nobody’s business, now might be the time to consider the benefits of a brand new, high efficiency model.

Longboat Key Heating Maintenance Question: How Often Should I Replace My Furnace Filter?

Monday, January 9th, 2012

Just like the filter in your air conditioner, replacing your furnace filter is the key to a healthy and comfortable Longboat Key home. By keeping a good filter replacement schedule, you will reduce wear and tear to the furnace and keep your home warm, while keeping your family healthy and controlling energy costs all winter.

But when does your furnace filter need to be changed? Well, each system is different, but there are some general guidelines and recommendations to follow that can help you keep it all straight and stay on top of your furnace filter situation.

Conventional Wisdom

The long-standing rule of thumb on furnace filters is to change them every month. This is good practice if you are using older fiberglass filters, but for newer, more efficient filters, you should do it a little differently. These should be inspected and cleaned at least once a month, but you may need to replace them that frequently also.

Sometimes it is a little more complicated than these general guidelines, so it pays to be aware of some factors and conditions in your home that may affect how frequently you need to change your filter.

Things to Consider

As mentioned above, the first thing to consider is the efficiency of the filter. Because new filters are so efficient, when they get dirty or clogged with dust and debris, they actually restrict airflow, making your furnace bog down and work harder. So, it is important to stay on top of a monthly inspection and cleaning schedule with these filters.

Also take into account air quality and sources of allergens both inside and outside your home. If you live in an area with a lot of pollutants in the air, you’ll want to replace your filters often to keep those out of your home. If you own a lot of pets, the dander and hair will wind up in your furnace filter and you may have to replace it more often.

Complicated enough for you? It doesn’t have to be. Simplify the whole process by doing the following: check your filter monthly and be prepared to change it that often, clean high-efficiency filters regularly, replace the filter at least every three months and again at the start of heating season.

If you do those things at a minimum, you will be in pretty good shape.

Essential Components of a Gibsonton Home Comfort System

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

Indoor comfort is defined by several factors: temperature, humidity, and air quality. If any one of the three is out of the “normal” range it can affect the quality of life in your Gibsonton home.

The ultimate goal of any heating & cooling contractor is to ensure that customers are comfortable – meaning that all three factors are addressed when servicing, replacing, or installing new equipment in a home. This equipment includes furnaces and air conditioners but also extends to electronic filters, ultraviolet (UV) lighting, etc.

Obviously, the essential component for most U.S. households is a furnace. Air conditioners may not be essential for all parts of the U.S., namely the northern states, but are still considered an integral part of any home comfort system. Add-ons like electronic filters are important for controlling the air quality.

Let’s look at the furnace first. There are several choices but most can be found in two different classifications: single-stage or variable speed two-stage. Your choice depends on the indoor square footage, your own comfort needs, and possibly the cost of energy units (gas or electric for example). Forced air is a common method of moving heated air to all parts of the home via an air handling unit and through a duct system. But gaining in popularity is radiant heat (electric), which does not utilize a duct system.

Air conditioners also come in a variety of sizes, including window/room air conditioners or central air conditioning, which is likely a “split” system including an outdoor unit and indoor coil. The size of the air conditioner is determined by square footage, which is part of a load calculation performed by qualified heating & cooling contractors while planning the equipment replacement or new installation. An oversized air conditioner may produce high humidity levels and an undersized unit may not provide enough cooling to all areas of the home. High humidity levels contribute to higher indoor temperatures in the summer, and can also lead to respiratory problems.

If someone in your home has allergies or is sensitive to certain pollutants in the air, it may be important to include extra filtration in your heating & cooling system, such as electronic filtration and UV lighting mounted in the buildings duct system, to kill germs and contaminants.

And speaking of an essential component, duct systems are keys to maximizing efficiency and comfort. Properly sized, insulated, and sealed, the duct system is a key to comfortable, healthy indoor air – and energy efficiency. It is also important to keep your duct system clean, too.

As always, it is best to consult with a qualified and licensed heating and cooling contractor who can offer the best solutions for your home comfort system.

Harbour Heights Downflow Gas Furnace Tips

Monday, December 19th, 2011

Proper care of a downflow gas furnace starts with proper installation and continues through routine cleaning and maintenance. But before you can even have a downflow gas furnace installed, you need to make sure it’s the right fit for your Harbour Heights home.

Downflow gas furnaces are so named because of the direction that air flows through them. The cooler air is taken in at the top and directed downward, heating up as it travels, and then is expelled through the bottom of the furnace into ducts that feed the rest of the house. Because of this configuration, downflow  gas furnaces are typically installed in attics as opposed to basements.

If you have a basement and you’d rather install your furnace there, then an upflow furnace is probably the better choice for you. However, as many newer homes don’t have basements at all, downflow gas furnaces are growing in popularity and usefulness.

As with any other furnace, it’s important to have a downflow gas furnace professionally installed. This will ensure that the venting system is properly in place and that your house will be heated as effectively and efficiently as possible.

Of course, there are some other things you can do to help your furnace heat your home and keep your energy bills down. For instance, make sure you have proper insulation everywhere, particularly in the attic and crawlspaces where much of the normal heat loss in a home occurs.

You can also make your home more airtight in the winter by sealing up any unused windows and doors with plastic and making sure all storm windows are in place. Basically anyplace that a draft could develop, you could be losing heat and that costs you money. So to ensure that all of the money you’re spending to heat your house is actually going to that purpose, check periodically to make sure your home is still sealed up tight.

Also, just like any other type of furnace, a downflow gas furnace will require regular maintenance to make sure it continues to run efficiently and to replace any parts that may have worn out over time. Having a Harbour Heights professional technician come out once a year to carry out this type of service will wind up saving you a bunch of money and can help catch problems before they are able to get out of hand.

Furnace Safety in Laurel

Friday, December 9th, 2011

There are many advantages to a properly operating furnace, and the most important ones are the safety and comfort of your Laurel home’s occupants. There are several things you can do to ensure the safe operation of your furnace.

Here is a checklist of ideas:

  • Clean or change furnace filters on a regular basis. Replace disposable filters and clean permanent filters using water or cleaning solutions. Your owner’s manual or a qualified heating contractor can suggest a regular maintenance schedule.
  • Check the exhaust vent from the furnace. Clear obstructions such as leaves, clothing, or animal nests from the vent pipe or chimney. If there is a faulty exhaust system (like a blocked flue), of if there are cracks and leaks in the pipes or improper adjustment of the burner, or if there is lower air pressure indoors than outside, the furnace can create serious indoor air pollution.
  • A clear air intake is important too, since furnaces need fresh air to “breathe” and complete the fuel burning cycle. Again, check for debris or animal nests in intake pipes.
  • If you have an older gas furnace, you may want to install a supplementary induced-draft fan that reduces the possibility of backdrafting. Some furnaces have automatic shutoff devices that turn off the furnace if it begins to backdraft.
  • Check internal components such as the blower motor and vacuum any dirt. Check belts and pulleys for excessive wear. You should consult your owner’s manual for any suggested maintenance tips on internal working components.
  • You may also want to check the pilot light to see if it is working and if it producing an even, blue flame. If the flame is uneven, it may be a sign of incomplete gas combustion, which can result in the creation of dangerous carbon monoxide gas.
  • Ensure that your thermostat is operating correctly by raising or lowering the temperature settings to make sure the furnace cycles on and off.
  • Install and maintain battery or hard-wired smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Externally vented natural gas furnaces, when properly designed and installed, will operate safely for years. But if you detect a problem, use the most common solution – contact a qualified heating professional to check out your furnace.

What to Look For When a Home is 10 Years Old: A Guide From Gibsonton

Monday, September 12th, 2011

A ten year old home in Gibsonton is likely to be in great condition, presuming the previous owner(s) treated it well. But, there are some things you should watch out for that can arise in newer constructions, even if they were treated well.

Poor Craftsmanship

While it is possible for a 100 year old home to have poorly crafted parts, it’s highly unlikely if the house is still intact and is being sold this long after it was built. Newer homes, however, wouldn’t show signs of cheap materials or shoddy work until a bit later in their life. That’s why it is important to pay for a thorough inspection of the property as soon as possible – definitely before it is purchased and possibly again afterwards to check for possible improvements.

Specific things you should check for include heating and cooling systems, the insulation and the drywall used. Especially in freshly renovated or built houses it’s impossible to be sure a home was built with the highest standards of modern craftsmanship.

Proper Maintenance

For a home that is only 10 years old, there is a good chance you can get the original records for the heating and cooling system, any appliances in the home and all maintenance performed on them since their installation. If not, don’t fret – a good technician will be able to easily check the status of a piece during an inspection.

Overall, if your new home is only 10 years old, you are likely in a very good place. The home will be in good condition, the parts will be new, and your heating and cooling system should be efficient. Original parts installed during construction may need to be replaced, but otherwise, if everything else checks out, you can count on having a comfortable, wonderful place to live for some years to come.

What is a Downflow vs. an Upflow Furnace?

Monday, March 21st, 2011

When you go looking to buy a furnace, you may well be surprised by how many different elements go into making a good purchasing decision. There are simply so many different kinds of furnaces available now and they each are more appropriate for certain situations. That means that finding the one that’s right for you is less about finding the one best unit than it is about finding the one that is the best match for your particular circumstances.

This applies to the type of fuel the furnace uses, its energy efficiency, and whether it’s an upflow furnace or a downflow furnace. Energy efficiency and fuel types are probably things that you’re more or less familiar with. But what are we talking about when we classify a furnace as an upflow or downflow model?

Well, it’s pretty much what it sounds like. These terms refer to the direction the air flows as it is taken in and heated by the furnace. So in an upflow furnace, the cool air is taken in at the bottom, warmed, and then expelled at the top. A downflow furnace, on the other hand, takes in cool air at the top and expels heated air at the bottom.

While this is all very exciting, it may still not be obvious what impact this will have on your decision about what type of furnace to buy. The main thing you’ll have to think about when you’re deciding between an upflow and a downflow furnace is where the furnace will be placed in your house.

An upflow furnace is generally installed in the basement so that the heated air is directed towards the parts of the house you want cooled and so that the furnace can be appropriately vented outside of the house. On the other hand, a downflow furnace would be installed in your attic for the same reasons.

So where you want to have the furnace installed is probably the biggest thing to take into account as you’re comparing these two types of equipment. Of course, whether you pick an upflow or a downflow furnace, you’ll still have to select the appropriate AFUE, size and fuel source to best meet your needs. But making the choice between upflow and downflow can at least make it easier to narrow down your options.