Premier Indoor Comfort Systems LLC Blog : Posts Tagged ‘Dawsonville’

What Is a Downflow vs. an Upflow Furnace?

Monday, October 8th, 2012

When you go looking to buy a furnace in Lawrenceville, 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.

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.

For any help you need with installing a new furnace in Lawrenceville GA and the surrounding area, give Premier Indoor Comfort Systems a call today!

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Types of Geothermal Loop Systems

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

From the Greek word “geo” for “earth”, geothermal energy is generated by the natural process of heat gravitating toward cooler temperatures.  The by-product can be captured and utilized simply as heat or converted to electricity. In small, self-contained residential or large commercial applications in Atlanta, this typically happens in either closed or open looped systems.

Closed Loops

Systems using water or anti-freeze that run from the pump into the ground and back to the pump continuously are closed looped.  Most efficient for smaller residential systems where land is available, two or three horizontal loops are side by side just a few feet underground.  Sometimes the loops are spiraled underground to extend the overall length in a shorter area.

Where the need for length may be prohibitive to run alongside the building, large commercial buildings and schools often use vertical systems.  A series of holes four inches in diameter are drilled about 20 feet apart and 100–400 feet deep and filled with two pipes connected at the bottom to form a loop. Each loop is connected with a horizontal manifold pipe in a trench which connects to the heat pump in the building. Vertical loops are also the choice when the soil is too shallow for trenching.  This system minimizes the disturbance to existing landscaping.

If the site has an adequate water body, a pond/lake loop may be the lowest cost option where a supply line is run underground directly to the water and coiled into circles at least eight feet under the surface to prevent freezing before looping back to the building.

Open Loops

An open loop system takes surface water or a well to use as the heat exchange fluid that circulates directly through the GHP system instead of a piped fluid passing through the surface. Once circulated through the system, the water returns to the ground through the well or a discharge over the surface.

For more information about installing a geothermal system in your Atlanta home, give Premier Indoor Comfort Systems a call today!

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Reasons Your Furnace Is Producing No Heat

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

The last occasion on which you want to worry about your furnace not producing any heat is the dead of winter, when the outside is chilly you just want to seek refuge in your toasty Dawsonville home…only to discover that it’s not much warmer than the outdoors.

This may seem like a total emergency, and the combination of chill and frustration may cause panic to set in. Don’t start fretting too much just yet, though. There are some potentially simple causes and solutions for this problem, such as:

  • The thermostat may be set too low or on the wrong setting. Yes, it seems obvious, but sometimes the solution is staring you right in the face. Check that your thermostat is set high enough to call for heat and that it is on HEAT mode.
  • A circuit breaker may be tripped or a fuse may be blown. It could be the one dedicated to the thermostat, glow coil igniter or furnace itself. Check the breaker or fuse box in your home and either flip the breaker or replace the fuse. If it continues to trip or blow, get it looked at professionally—there may be a bigger problem going on.
  • The thermostat may not be working, so it is either improperly detecting the temperature or improperly reporting it to the furnace, so the heat does not kick on. Either way, it probably needs to be replaced.
  • The furnace is not igniting properly. This could mean the pilot light is out on furnaces without electric ignition, the gas valve is closed and can’t ignite or some other ignition malfunction. Check the pilot and gas valves to make sure they are on and working.

If you have checked all these things and the thermostat still is not working, or if you don’t feel comfortable looking into these causes on your own, you are best served by calling a professional repairman to diagnose and fix the furnace.

Often, these big failures are just the symptom of a smaller problem, so in all likelihood you won’t have to replace the furnace or do any major repairs, especially if it has been well-maintained throughout its life.

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Things Your Air Filter Can’t Filter

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

Air filters are great to have in your Roswell home. Many people who own air filters, especially those who suffer from allergies or asthma, swear by them as being very beneficial to their health and general well-being. They help you feel comfortable knowing that your air is clean and fresh.

But how confident should you be in your air filter? Is there anything your air filter is missing? Can you be sure that your air is as clean as can be?

Well, all air filters have limitations, and many do particularly well at trapping and removing certain types of air pollutants, but at the expense of letting others pass. What your air filter can and cannot do depends on what kind of equipment you have.

A conventional air filter, like the pleated kind you may have in your air conditioner, is designed to trap particles in the air. Pollen, dust, dander and other small but solid pollutants and irritants get trapped in their close-knit fibers. The thing to pay attention here is the filter’s HEPA rating—the higher it is, the smaller the particles it can trap. So, if you are using a lower rated filter, you may be trapping pollen but still breathing in smoke particles. Also, sometimes large, heavy particles settle before reaching the filter and can’t be trapped.

In addition to filters, there are other air cleaning options like ultraviolet germicidal (UVG) lights and photocatalytic oxidation (PCO) cleaners. PCOs are meant to filter out harmful gases, but have limited use in homes. UVG lights use radiation that is harmless to people but deadly to microorganisms to pure air of bacteria and other pathogens.

In sum, if you are concerned about the quality of the air in your home, the best strategy is probably to use multiple solutions, such as a combination of an air filter and UVG lights, in order to get rid of as many pollutants as possible. Keep in mind, though, that no system is perfect in keeping everything out of your air.

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How to Install a Programmable Thermostat

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Programmable thermostats are one of the best ways to save on heating costs, especially if you have a hard time remembering to turn down the heat in your Duluth home. Installing a programmable thermostat will allow you to set the times you want the heat turned up or down. Not only will this make heating your home more consistent and save energy, but it will also allow you to tailor your heating needs to your schedule.

For instance, you can set the thermostat to turn on before you get up in the morning so that the house is already warm when you get out of bed, and conversely, set it to turn down after you go to bed or leave the house for work. Depending on the brand and setting options, programmable thermostats are relatively inexpensive and easy to install.

Although all styles are slightly different, here are some basic instructions that show you how easy it is to install a programmable thermostat.  Remember, this is only a general guide; always check the instructions inside the packaging of your new thermostat before you install it, or check with an electrician.

1. Remove the Old Thermostat

Before you remove the old thermostat, check to see where it’s mounted. If it’s mounted to an electrical box, the voltage used to power the old thermostat may not be compatible with the new one. Ask a certified electrician or heating technician if you aren’t sure.

CUT THE POWER TO THE HEATING SYSTEM TO AVOID ELECTRIC SHOCK. You should always turn off the main power supply to your heating system before installing any new thermostat. If you aren’t sure how to do this, ask your HVAC contractor. Once you unscrew the mounting plate for the old thermostat, just unhook the wires. Don’t throw an old mercury controlled thermostat. You should ask your local waste management facility how to properly dispose of mercury products.

2. Locate all Wires

Wrap the loose wires around a pencil to keep the wires from falling back into the wall. Identify and label each corresponding wire with a letter (do not use color coding since this is not always accurate). Strip the plastic off the ends of the wires about ¼ inch if you need to.

3. Install and Insulate Wallplate

If the area around the new wallplate is larger than the plate, insulate the hole with non-flammable insulation. Take the wallplate off the programmable thermostat and hold it against the wall to mark the screw holes with a pencil. Pull the wires through the large opening at the bottom and screw the plate to the wall.

4. Wiring

Make sure you are comfortable with wiring before you attempt to do any electrical installations. Check the manual for your programmable thermostat for instructions on wiring that specific model. In general, you’ll want to make sure you match the wire labels with the corresponding terminals on the thermostat. Sometimes there will be extra wires that aren’t needed. Always test it before completing the installation. Don’t forget the battery!

5. Install the Faceplate

Once you have it wired correctly, all you need to do is align the brackets on the faceplate with the corresponding slots on the wallplate and fasten the faceplate to the rest of the mounting. Lastly, tighten the screw at the bottom of the thermostat to hold it in place.

If you have any questions regarding programmable thermostats, give Premier Indoor Comfort a call.

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Question from Norcross: What Is an Indoor Propane Heater?

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

An indoor propane heater is an option if you’re looking to supplement your central heating system in a particular location. After all, when you turn on your heat, you’ll likely be heating your whole Norcross house. But if you’re only occupying a small area of the house at any given point in time, it may not be necessary to expend all of that energy to heat spaces that are completely unoccupied.

While electric space heaters are certainly an option in this situation, indoor propane space heaters are definitely worth a good long look. There are several different types of propane space heaters and most can easily be mounted on the wall of a room in your house to provide consistent warmth any time you need it. And because propane is generally much cheaper than electricity, you’ll be able to save a ton on your total home heating costs.

Indoor propane heaters are available in both vented and unvented varieties, and the type that’s best for you will depend on your specific heating needs and the dimensions of the space to be heated, among other factors. In general, it’s a good idea to have propane heaters installed by a professional to ensure that they’re safely in place and that they’re set up to provide the most efficient and effective heat possible.

The main difference between vented and unvented space heaters is that the unvented models simply circulate the air in the room and use its oxygen supply for combustion. Vented propane heaters, on the other hand, are able to take in air from outdoors for combustion and will also vent any gasses produced during combustion back outside.

When you do install a propane space heater in one or more areas of your house, it’s a good idea to have a carbon monoxide detector installed as well. That way you’ll have an early warning if something is going wrong with the heater. Although propane space heaters are quite safe, particularly when they’ve been professionally installed, you should still take every precaution to keep yourself and your family safe.

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How Indoor Air Quality Controls Can Help People with Asthma: A Guide from Dawsonville

Monday, November 14th, 2011

If you, your child or anyone else in your family suffers from asthma, you know that it can be brutal. The shortness of breath, the wheezing, and the chest tightness—it’s not just uncomfortable; it can be downright scary.

There is evidence to suggest that higher quality air can help keep asthma symptoms in check. While you can’t control air quality everywhere you go, you can be in charge of the quality of the air in your Dawsonville home. Take a look at how controlling indoor air quality can help ease the suffering of asthma symptoms.

One study at Johns Hopkins found that indoor air pollution plays a large role in increasing asthma symptoms, especially among children. Without getting too technical, essentially the study explains that there are particles in the air we breathe, including indoors. Aside from the standard mixture of oxygen, carbon dioxide and other gases, air contains these solid and liquid particles, which are essentially pollutants. Common household tasks like dusting and cooking can generate more of these particles.

When these particles get into the respiratory system, they can irritate the lungs, which triggers asthma symptoms. Since children spend about 80% of their time indoors, this is a very big deal.

To help this problem, there are ways to control and improve the quality of air in your home. One simple way to do this is to have filters with high minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) ratings in your heating and cooling system. MERV ratings describe how well filters catch particles of certain sizes and keeping them out of the air—and your lungs.

The particles identified in the Hopkins study were as small as 2.5 microns, which would require a filter with a MERV rating of about 12 to catch. Higher MERV ratings mean more efficient filtration, but they need to be replaced more often. If you or child has asthma, it’s worth it.

For severe asthma or allergies, consider even higher-rated filters, like HEPA filters, which sport a MERV of 17 or higher. These will catch nearly all allergens, irritants and other particles that can make you sick.

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What is an Electric Furnace? A Question from Ball Ground

Monday, October 24th, 2011

There are many types of furnaces that you can get in Ball Ground that use a variety of energy sources to operate. Gas furnaces use natural or propane gas, boilers and radiators use water, heated by electricity. And then there are electric furnaces, which may have an advantage over other energy sources based on energy costs.

Simply put, electric furnaces function through the use of electricity. They do not require the use of any type of fuel – but function through wires and chords. An electric furnace uses heating coils, sometimes referred to as “resistance calrods” to create heat directly in the air flow. Inside the furnace cabinet are controls, a blower, and the circuit breakers for the heating elements. Some furnaces have the breakers accessible from the outside of the cabinet.

Other add-on accessories may include an electronic air cleaner, air filter, humidifier, high performance media filter, and air conditioning evaporator coil.

The heating process begins with the home’s thermostat. A drop in temperature is sensed by the thermostat, which alerts the electric furnace. The coil then warms up, thanks to the electric current that passes through it. The heated coil in turn heats the temperature of the air around it, which is then blown into the house through a blower. The pressure that is exerted by the blower on the heated air, warms it further. The blower is able to overcome the resistance of the duct work and replace unheated, colder air with the heated air. In most homes there are various return air ducts that are used to bring in the colder air to the furnace. This cold air travels through the furnace, through an air filter, the blower, and finally through the heat exchanger. After this it will then be pushed back into the house as warm air.

To maintain a supply of fresh air in the house, some furnaces also suck air from the atmosphere outside. After the air in the house reaches a particular temperature, the thermostat automatically shuts off the electric furnace.

An electric furnace may be less costly to run, depending on the price of electricity versus other sources like natural gas, propane gas, or oil. Gas and oil are fossil fuels and burning them leaves a “carbon footprint” – the release of carbon compounds and gases into the atmosphere. An electric furnace does not burn fuel and thus does not leave a carbon footprint. This electric warming process results in fewer particulates and contaminants in the air, too.

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How Do Solar Cells Work? A Question From Norcross

Monday, September 26th, 2011

Rising energy costs and concerns over depleted resources have many people seeking out alternative energy sources for their Norcross homes. One popular solution is solar cells, which harness clean energy from the radiation of the sun to use as electricity. This technology is not terribly new, of course, having been used in calculators for years. A house is rather different from a calculator, though, so the prospect of using solar cells as a source of electricity lends itself to some questions, especially “how does it work?”

How it Works

As you might imagine, there is some complex science behind how cells really work. Rather than get down to the nitty gritty physics of it all, a brief overview should do. Essentially, the radiation from the sun is a tremendous energy source, emitting up to 1000 watts of energy per square meter of Earth in a single day.

The materials in solar cells make them photovoltaic (PV), meaning they are able to convert light to energy. When light strikes the PV cell, its energy is passed along to a semiconductor, thereby generating a current. There’s a good deal more complexity involved in the process but essentially that’s it.

Making It Work for You

There are a number of issues to consider and obstacles to overcome in installing solar cells that work properly, such as:

  • Angle and Orientation – Ideally PV cells should be directed south, at an angle that is as close to the latitude of their location as possible. All sources of shade and other obstructions must be removed for the sake of efficiency.
  • Storage and Backup – The sun doesn’t shine all the time, so you will need a backup system in place. Some options include connecting your home to the power grid, using deep cycle batteries to store energy for use later, or installing a backup generator.
  • Current Inversion – The current produced by the photovoltaic process is DC, so in order to be used like “regular” electricity from a wall socket, it needs to be converted to AC. This means installing an inverter as part of the system. Some PV cells come with invertors built in.

Installing SunSource® Home Energy System can be a clean and budget-friendly idea, but it can also be somewhat complicated. Proper materials and installation are vital to proper functioning, so consult with a professional if you are in doubt.

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Your HVAC System and Electricity: Some Tips From Norcross

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

While not every HVAC system in your Norcross home requires electricity, many of them do. Your air conditioner, electric furnace or water heater and ventilation system all need access to the central power line. So what does that mean for your system and what problems should be you beware of?

How Your HVAC System Uses Electricity

How your HVAC system works depends largely on which components need electricity to operate. Here is a quick summary of how each system uses electricity:

  • Air Conditioning – Most air conditioners are electric and therefore use electricity based on the number of BTUs produced. For example, if your air conditioner produces 25,000 BTUs and has a SEER of 16, it can produce 16 BTUs for every watt of electricity consumed per hour. As a result, it consumes 1,562.5 watts per hour when the system is running at maximum capacity. If it runs at full capacity for 8 hours per day, 30 days a month in the summer, that’s 375 kilowatt hours – which is the measurement unit you’ll see on your electric bill.
  • Heating – Your heating system may not use electricity, as many homes today use gas or oil combustion furnaces or boilers to produce heat. However, if you have an electric furnace, that electric power is used to heat the filament in the furnace. Electricity also powers the blower fan motor which pushes air across the filament and into the air handler. An electric furnace sized to heat a 1500 square foot home can use up to 8,000 watts per hour to produce enough heat for your home. That converts to roughly 5,000 kilowatt hours per month. The current price of electricity will determine how much this actually costs, you but it can really add up quickly.
  • Ventilation – Your ventilation system is almost always going to use electricity to circulate and filter air. While mechanical filters rely on the movement of air to remove certain particles, ventilation systems have a variety of components including fans and possibly even condenser coils to conserve energy as air is exchanged between the inside and outside.

Electricity plays an important role in your HVAC system no matter how your system works. To ensure yours continues to operate as intended, have your power system checked on a regular basis when the rest of your HVAC system is serviced.

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