Duct cleaning improves indoor air quality

This past winter, I noticed that cooking odors were lingering for a very long time.

The smell of anything I prepared for dinner could be identified in every room in the house.

Even upstairs in the bedrooms, the smell was strong and slow to dissipate. This got me worried about indoor air quality. My area is known for the severe winter weather. We need to keep the house sealed tight for more than half the year. The furnace runs just about non stop. There is no opportunity to bring in fresh air or get rid of the stale, stuffy air. Before I took proactive measures, I frequently needed to dust and vacuum. My whole family often sneezed, coughed and complained of headaches. While I’ve always been very conscientious about replacing air filters and scheduling professional maintenance for the heating system, I’ve never been overly concerned about the ductwork. I asked a licensed HVAC contractor to inspect the system, and he found a significan buildup of contaminants. He said that this dust and debris was absorbing odors. As the heated air passed through the system, the smells, dust, bacteria and other pollutants were becoming airborne and getting distributed throughout the living space. The contractor used a specialized piece of equipment that resembled an oversized vacuum cleaner to service the ductwork. He inserted a long hose with a brush attachment that worked to dislodge stubborn debris that was then sucked up. The process took a couple of hours but caused no mess or damage. After the duct cleaning, there was a significant improvement in the smell, cleanliness and comfort of the home. The furnace didn’t need to run as long to achieve the thermostat setting, resulting in lower utility bills. I’m hoping that the heating system will last longer.

 

Zone controlled HVAC

Wishing I have radiant floors

Last winter, I had a bit of a disaster with my furnace.

It quit while I was away on a work trip. The heating system was extremely old and not overly reliable. I had hoped that leaving the house empty for three days wouldn’t be a problem. The temperature dropped to negative twenty-five. With no heat, the water pipes freeze and burst, creating extensive damage. I not only needed to replace the furnace but also invest in repairs for the duct system, plumbing system, walls, ceilings and floors. It was an expensive, time-consuming and lengthy project. I had a huge mess to deal with. While the various contractors handled the job, I moved in with my brother. My brother makes a lot of money and has a gorgeous home. His house is outfitted with all of the latest and most convenient amenities. He has a hot tub, stainless appliances, granite countertops, a huge television and surround sound. He also has radiant heated floors. The heated floors are the best feature of the house. The entire system is totally concealed. There are no pipes, equipment or vents detracting from aesthetics. He doesn’t need to arrange his furniture to accommodate supply and return vents. The radiant flooring is entirely silent and perfectly clean. It spreads the heat evenly across the floor from wall to wall and corner to corner. There are no drafts or cold pockets. The radiant floors infuse heat into the air and also warm up every object sitting on the floor. The temperature from floor to ceiling doesn’t fluctuate further than three degrees from the thermostat setting. Plus, he has a thermostat in each room that allows him to customize the temperature setting. While I was staying with him, I was able to adjust the thermostat in the bedroom to my preference for comfort. I absolutely loved stepping out of bed or the shower onto warm floors. I never wanted to return home.

 

cooling system

High velocity system is ideal for historical home

When my husband and I purchased a home in the historical district, we were delighted with the antique light fixtures, stained glass windows and hardwood floors, doors and moldings. We were thrilled with the high ceilings, big kitchen and wide front porch. It didn’t occur to us how difficult the house would be to temperature control. The walls and ceilings are constructed of the original plaster and lath, and there has never been any conventional ductwork installed. Any repairs, changes or improvements we make to the house needs to be approved by the historical preservation society and the process is difficult and time-consuming. The preservation society is very particular about what they will allow. Any modernization is frowned upon. My husband and I weren’t eager to take on that fight or the mess and disruption of installing ductwork. However, our house was freezing cold in the winter and overheated and sticky in the summer. We were trying to manage comfort with electric baseboard heaters and window air conditioners. The big windows, high ceilings and overall age of the house were making it impossible to adequately heat and cool with portable units. I did some research and came across high velocity heating and cooling systems. This style of temperature control is specifically designed to retrofit into older homes that lack traditional ductwork. The system features mini-ducts that are only two-inches in diameter and flexible enough to route through existing walls without damage. The ducts are able to accommodate studs, plumbing pipes and electrical wires. They link to round vents that are only six-inches in diameter and blend seamlessly with the decor. The high velocity system delivers conditioned air at a very high rate of speed to quickly lower or raise room temperature. This system allowed us to preserve the historical integrity of the home and still enjoy centralized temperature control.

Heating corp

A dehumidifier is necessary

The whole-home unit requires only annual upkeep and positively impacts every cubic inch of air in the living space

Moving down south was a big change for me. I grew up, went to school and began my career in the northern part of the country. I was very accustomed to lots of snow, bitter wind chill and temperature well below freezing. My wardrobe was full of warm sweaters, fuzzy socks, wool coats, knitted hats and winter boots. I owned snow shovels, ice scrapers and a four-wheel-drive vehicle. My house was outfitted with a furnace, and I never bothered with central air conditioning. I was fine with a window air conditioner and a couple of box fans. Once I relocated, I realized very quickly that the air conditioner was a vital piece of equipment. I also learned that the intense heat wasn’t the only problem. The humidity created all sorts of challenges. With so much moisture in the air, the air conditioner struggled to keep up. Lowering the thermostat didn’t do anything to combat that sticky feeling. I had problems with condensate running down the windows and mold growing on the sills. My leather purses, shoes and even my couch was freqently spotted with mildew. An excess of humidity can also be blamed for headaches, sore throats, sneezing, coughing and all sorts of health concerns. Dust mites thrive in moist environments. For the sake of comfort, productivity and a good night’s sleep, I invested into a whole-home dehumidifier. I initially tried a portable dehumidifier and discovered that this option was a lot of work and ineffective. The whole-home unit requires only annual upkeep and positively impacts every cubic inch of air in the living space. The dehumidifier pulls moisture out of the air as it passes through the cooling system.

hvac service

Discovering duct leaks

I recently read an article focused on improving the energy efficiency of the home.

According to this article, heating and cooling accounts for approximately 50% of household energy consumption.

It listed suggestions on how to prevent conditioned air from escaping and outdoor air from coming in. I was already aware of many of the recommendations. I know that it’s a good idea to close the curtains against the heat of the day during the summer and open them up to welcome in the sunshine during the winter. I make sure to regularly replace the air filters of the air conditioner and furnace and schedule professional maintenance every spring and fall. I’ve invested into thermal pane, low E, Energy Star rated windows and meticulously caulked around them. I’ve added insulation to the attic, weatherstripped exterior doors and installed overhead ceiling fans. I was doubtful when the article claimed that the majority of homes sacrifice up to 30% of heated and cooled air to holes and leaks in the ductwork. I decided to have my duct system tested by a licensed HVAC contractor. The technician informed me that my ducts were wasting approximately 20% of heated and cooled air. That energy waste adds up to a significant expense. I had no idea how to go about fixing the problem. The air ducts are concealed inside walls and ceilings and nearly impossible to access. Fortunately, there is a process called Aeroseal that works to resolve problems from inside the pipes. The technician blocked off the supply and return vents, then introduced highly pressurized air into the ducts. The air contains polymer particles that are non-toxic yet sticky. As the air leaked from cracks and holes, the adhesive particles clung to the edges. They steadily built up to form an airtight seal.

quality heating

Ductless heat pump improves comfort

My house has seen lots of remodeling. Walls have been torn down, rooms expanded and windows added. Over the years, the modernizing of the living space has led to some issues with the heating and cooling system. Some rooms lack sufficient supply and return vents to achieve ideal comfort. The kitchen was especially problematic. In the winter, when the outdoor temperature drops below zero, the room constantly felt chilly. Raising the thermostat led to overheating the rest of the house. I used to bake treats on especially cold days for the sake of the warmth from the oven. In the summer, we had the opposite problem. I didn’t dare cook, because the kitchen always felt hot and sticky. Rather than tear down walls and ceiling to redesign the duct system, I chose to invest into a ductless mini split system. An outdoor air compressor links to an indoor air handler mounted up high on the wall. The installation project required little more than a three-inch hole in an exterior wall and was completed in a matter of hours. There was no mess or damage. The indoor air handler features an independent thermostat and provides both heating and cooling capacity. A cordless remote allows me to adjust temperature, fan speed and even the direction of airflow. I chose an Energy Star rated, high efficiency ductless heat pump with inverter technology. The equipment automatically varies output to match the demands of the indoor space. The kitchen is perfectly comfortable all year round, and the ductless unit works to filter out contaminants and improve indoor air quality.

heater

New thermostat is a big home improvement

I’m constantly making improvements to my home.

Since purchasing the property ten years ago, I’ve replaced the windows, painted every room, put down new floors and completely renovated the kitchen and bathrooms.

I’ve replaced light fixtures, plumbing fixtures and all of the appliances. I invest in projects that elevate the aesthetics, functionality, comfort and overall value of my home. I’m not sure why I never considered upgrading the thermostat until recently. While I’ve purchased new couches, tables, carpets and curtains, I completely overlooked the thermostat. In my local area, the weather swings from negative fifteen to the nineties. Heating and cooling is just about a year round necessity. The thermostat plays a very important role in our enjoyment of the living space. It also impacts the operation and efficiency of the furnace and air conditioner. I rarely remembered to adjust the temperature before leaving the house for the day. I’d then pay huge energy bills because of heating or cooling an empty house to the perfect comfort level. On the rare occasion that I lowered or raised the thermostat in the morning, I’d come home from work to either an overheated or freezing cold living space. The new thermostat is more attractive, easier to adjust and provides a wide range of really helpful and convenient features. I can access the smart thermostat through an app on my phone from virtually anywhere I happen to be. I receive alerts when there is a power outage, unexplained temperature swing or it’s time to replace filters. I get reminded to schedule professional maintenance for the furnace and air conditioner. Plus, the thermostat includes occupancy sensors that know if a room is occupied. It adjusts the heating and cooling system to conserve energy while also providing ideal comfort.
Air conditioning repair service

Snowmelt system is major home improvement

One of the best home improvements I’ve ever made was adding a snowmelt system to my residence.

The system eliminates the need to shovel snow multiple times per day for endless hours.

I no longer spend money to hire someone to plow the driveway or worry about where to pile all of the snow. I am not blocked from using the garage because of the massive drifts. I have no concerns over getting wet feet or slipping and falling due to icy pavement. I’ve eliminated the potential damage caused by spreading snowmelt chemicals. When I started looking into replacing our gravel driveway with pavement, I came across hydronic snowmelt systems. In my local area, the snow and cold are a problem for more than half the year. My house is heated by a boiler system. The boiler heats up water and sends it through a network of pipes concealed under the floors. The radiant flooring system easily handles our comfort. Even if the outside temperature drops into the negative digits, every room in the house is perfectly warm. There are no drafts or cold spots. The temperature from floor to ceiling remains constant. The system operates silently and requires minimal maintenance. It’s especially clean and energy efficient. The snowmelt system works the same way. There is a series of pipes embedded beneath the pavement of the walkway and driveway. The same boiler that supplies our house with heat also handles the needs of the snowmelt system. It responds automatically to the combination of moisture and temperature drop. Heated water flows through the pipes to melt snow and ice.

 

Heat pump installation

Buying a house with a heat pump

I just recently learned about electric heat pumps. I had never heard of this type of temperature control system until I started touring houses down south. I was ready to move from the north and get away from sub zero temperatures and snow. I’d never owned a house equipped with central air conditioning and always relied on a furnace for the majority of the year. The properties down south were outfitted with air conditioners, packaged units and heat pumps. The real estate agent acted super impressed over the heat pumps. She made sure to point them out to me. I pretended that I knew what she was talking about. When I finally got the chance to do some research, I learned that electric heat pumps are quite costly to purchase and install. The single component provides both heating and cooling capacity. The systems are especially quiet, clean and environmentally friendly. Instead of a combustion process to generate heat, a heat pump works by moving existing heat between the indoors and outdoors. In cooling mode, it operates almost exactly like a conventional air conditioner. It pulls heat out of the house and sends it outside by way of refrigerant. The true innovation of a heat pump is that it can literally reverse the process. In heating mode, the system finds ambient heat in the outside air and brings it indoors. There are no fumes, greenhouse gasses or hot surfaces to worry about. The house I ended up buying features a very modern heat pump that includes adaptable-speed technology, wifi access and zone control.

 

a/c products

Finally investing into central cooling

I was never in a big hurry to invest in central air conditioning for my home.

I live in an area where the winter snow and freezing temperatures last for more than half the year.

The spring and fall tend to be chilly, windy and wet. If we’re lucky, we enjoy two to three months of blue skies and sunshine. I always managed with a window air conditioner in the bedroom and box fans for the rest of the house. However, last summer was unusually hot and humid. The temperature warmed up much earlier than expected. By the beginning of April, we were already seeing temperatures in the low eighties and an excess of humidity. While the window air conditioner managed to keep the bedroom adequately comfortable, the rest of the house was hot and sticky. Eating meals or watching television was unbearable. I didn’t want to spend the next five months hiding in my bedroom from the heat. I called up a local HVAC contractor and got a free estimate on whole-home air conditioning. Since I already had the ductwork in place for the furnace, the cost wasn’t bad. I was able to afford to purchase a high-efficiency system to keep utility bills reasonable. Once the air conditioner was up and running, I wasn’t sure how I’d gotten by without it. Having the ability to lower the thermostat and cold down every room is amazing. My living environment remains cleaner, smells fresher and is far more enjoyable. I sleep better and have more energy during the day. I suffer from fewer headaches. There’s no longer any issues with mold and mildew growth.

portable space heater