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

What Causes Cracks in a Heat Exchanger?

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Furnaces are designed so that the heat – and the combustion byproduct produced inside – doesn’t interact directly with the outside air. This design is to ensure you have a safe furnace in your Fairburn home that won’t inadvertently affect your family’s health.

The metal piece that separates the furnace heat from the outside air stream is called the heat exchanger. The heat exchanger performs a very important function, and if it is broken or cracked, it can’t work properly.

A cracked heat exchanger is very common problem with heating systems, as well as one that should be repaired as soon as possible. But what causes a heat exchanger to crack? Here are some of the most common reasons:

  • A long period of normal use. A furnace heat exchanger naturally expands and contracts with the heat of the furnace, over and over again as the furnace is turned off and on to heat the home. Over several years, this stress can crack the metal.
  • Poor air flow, often caused by dirty or obstructed vents, can result in poor air flow through the furnace. This overworks the furnace, which can crack the heat exchanger prematurely.
  • Poor, incomplete or improper combustion can also cause a heat exchanger to crack. When the combustion process is less efficient – which can also be a result of poor air flow — your furnace’s burners have to run hotter and longer to heat your home, which means extra stress on the heat exchanger.

Essentially, if a furnace is running at less than optimal efficiency for an extended period of time, the heat exchanger is put under additional stress beyond the usual and can crack prematurely. Therefore, the best way to prevent a cracked heat exchanger is proper maintenance, particularly keeping all vents clean and unobstructed and getting an annual maintenance inspection.

If your heat exchanger does crack, do not hesitate to call a professional and get it repaired. The crack can allow potentially dangerous combustion gases to seep into your home, which can have a negative impact on your family’s health.

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Question from Cumming: What is Natural Ventilation?

Monday, January 2nd, 2012

Traditional ventilation requires the use of mechanical air handlers and fans to move air between the inside and outside of your Cumming home. However, there are alternatives that naturally pull air into your home. Not only are these systems better for the environment because they use less electricity, they create a more natural flow of air that can be more comfortable for the occupants.

How Does Natural Ventilation Work?

There are two primary ways to employ natural ventilation in a building – either stack ventilation or wind driven ventilation. The former uses much lower pressure levels which means most buildings with natural ventilation opt for wind driven ventilation. While there are specific benefits to both systems, the best engineered systems tend to use both for a more even approach to natural ventilation.

Stack ventilation is incredibly simple. The idea is that warm air rises so when air enters a building, it heats up, both because of the people in the building and because of the indoor temperature. As the air rises and exits the building, it creates a vacuum that pulls new air in through vents placed at ground level. Simply opening windows can create this effect.

Wind driven ventilation uses the same concepts of stack ventilation but takes advantage of building design and the landscape to create pressure zones around the home. For example, the pressure on the side of a building that gets buffeted with wind will almost always be higher than the opposite side. Using ventilation based on this concept allows designers to create partial vacuums to draw new air in and expel old air.

What Is Best?

Most buildings today are built using mechanical ventilation because it can be better controlled and because it is more reliable than natural ventilation.  Just be sure it will fit your specific needs by talking to a contractor first.

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A Tip from Talking Rock: What Makes a Furnace High Efficiency?

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

You’ve probably heard about the new lines of high efficiency furnaces being released by popular home heating companies, but what exactly is different about these high efficiency devices from your Talking Rock home’s 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 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.

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How to Get My Furnace Ready for Winter: A Tip from Tyrone

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

The best time to get your furnace ready for winter in Tyrone is not during the cold winter months – it is before the winter season even begins. There are several way to get your furnace ready for winter and let’s explore some of them.

First of all, check and see when you last had your furnace serviced. If it has been over one year ago, you should schedule and maintenance inspection from your local qualified heating and cooling professional. And when you make that appointment, ask about service agreements and getting on a regular maintenance schedule. Most heating and cooling contractors offer service agreement plans which include furnace and air conditioning check-ups on an annual basis.

Okay, so you know who to call for maintenance but what can you do yourself? First of all, give your furnace a little “help” by checking the vents and returns throughout the house. Ensure that there are no obstructions or blockages such as rugs, clothing, furniture, etc. You need to have unobstructed paths for your heated and return air to flow. The more congested the path, the harder your furnace will have to work. And while you’re at it, make sure your vents are open or closed, depending on how much you use your rooms. For example, if you have an extra bedroom that doesn’t need to be heated, closed off the vent or close the damper in the ductwork. The heated air will be diverted to other parts of your home where it is needed.

You can also help the airflow by vacuuming the vent cover or removing it and vacuuming any of the ductwork that you can easily get to. For a more thorough job consider calling a qualified and professional duct cleaning contractor. Many heating and cooling contractors also offer duct cleaning service, too.

Another maintenance function that you can perform is cleaning or replacing the furnace filter. Depending on the size of your home and its air quality (occupants, pets, etc.), you may want to clean or replace your air filter every one to three months. A dirty filter can restrict airflow and can put contaminants like dirt and dust right back into your air system. If you don’t know how to replace your air filter, consult the furnace owner’s manual or go online to learn more. If your furnace uses an electrostatic air filter, it will need to be removed and cleaned, either by using a hose or with soapy water and a hose. Make sure you let it dry before re-installing it.

You may also want to inspect any electrical wires around your furnace to ensure none are broken or frayed. A visual inspection should be good enough.

Once you have done what you can, let your heating and cooling professional take over from there. They are licensed and trained to inspect your furnace and ensure that it is in peak operating condition. And do it today – while everyone else is waiting.

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How Long Does It Take To Install A Solar Power System In A Home? A Question From Douglasville

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

As with any major home improvement project, the process of installing solar power takes a good amount of time, even in Douglasville. However, most of that time is spent on research, planning, and purchasing leading up to the actual installation. This is important to keep in mind, as investing in solar energy is nothing to rush into, and there is a great deal to be considered first.

Once all this preparation is done, the actual installation is usually brief, depending on how robust your system will be and any additional components needed. Some “extras” that may cause installation to take a little longer may include:

  • System Size and Capacity – Obviously, the time it takes to install a system will vary depending on how many panels need to be installed. Even so, most home systems will use few enough panels that the time difference is not substantial.
  • Ground Mounting – A ground mount is sometimes necessary when there isn’t a good place to install panels on the house itself. This can be due to roof orientation, less than ideal angles, or nearby obstructions. The additional variables and construction of a ground mount may take a few extra days.
  • Backup Systems – For homeowners who opt to have batteries and/or a generator installed as backup, installation will take a bit longer due to the added complexity. Backup systems require additional components and wiring, which takes some extra time.
  • Weather – Often an overlooked variable, the weather is important as installing solar panels involves working outside and at inclined levels. Bad weather can put workers in danger, so the work may be necessarily delayed.

For most simple home systems, installation will take only a few days. Even with more complex systems that incorporate some of the additional elements mentioned above, installation time should not be affected by more than a day or two. As long as the process goes according to plan and the weather holds, you could expect to have your system up and running within a week. For many, that timeframe is even less. Also, since the work is being done outside, you generally will not be disturbed, aside from some sounds of movement on the roof.

Although installation is a big part of the process of switching to solar, the time it takes is not significant when compared to the preparations that should be done beforehand. Installation should be a brief, albeit exciting, culmination of a longer planning process.

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How Do I Reduce Dust in My Home? A Question From Douglasville

Friday, August 12th, 2011

Dust is everywhere, from Douglasville to Dawsonville. There is no way to stop it from occurring, so instead we turn to cleaning and filtration to keep the amount of dust circulating through the air in to a minimum. Luckily, there are quite a few things you can do, even without installing new equipment, to reduce your dust levels.

Duct Cleaning

First on the list is regular duct cleaning. You dust your furniture and your floors, so why not clean out your ductwork? Properly cleaned ductwork is very important because of just how much stuff can build up in there over time. Imagine regular air flow in an enclosed space that never gets cleaned. How much dust and debris do you think could build up over the course of a year? Hint: it’s enough to keep a steady flow of dust in your indoor air.

Professional duct cleaning is important and should be done once every year or two depending on how often you use your home comfort system. However, you should also clean in and around the vents and ducts in your home where you can reach. This can be done weekly and will help immensely to reduce dust.

Filtration

Most air filters equipped with high quality HEPA filters work extremely well to remove dust from the air. Because HEPA filters can capture particles as small as 0.3 microns, they won’t just remove dust, but pollen, pet dander and even mold. Mold especially is a problem that occurs in far greater frequency in homes without filtration.

Simple air filtration is an affordable solution to a lot of different contaminants, so it’s a good fit for any home. However, there are more powerful systems as well that will reduce both dust and pathogens like bacteria – these purifiers use ionization to draw particles from the air electronically.

Humidity

Humidity imbalance can cause dust problems as well. Low humidity leads to more dead skin and dust in the house, while high humidity causes the development of dust mites. Properly regulating your humidity to slightly less than 50% will create a perfect environment in which less dust is created and circulated in your home.

The best way to reduce dust is to take a three pronged approach to indoor air quality. Cleanliness is always first on the list, but after that don’t neglect the value of filtration and proper humidity control. When used properly, these three things will ensure dust never bothers you again.

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Why Insulate a Basement

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

Especially if your basement is unfinished, you probably do not spend much time down there. And if that is the case, it can be hard to see why you would want to expend the time and money to put in quality insulation in an area of your house that you do not use for much other than storage. But your basement can be costing you a lot if it is not insulated and you probably do not even realize it.

The simple fact is that closing the door to your basement does not summarily cut it off from the rest of your house. The entire floor surface of the first floor of your house is directly connected to the basement and there is a great deal of heat lost through there in the winter. That means that your central heating system will have to work harder to keep the living spaces of your house warm. Plus, the floor will just always be cold.

But putting insulation in your basement can dramatically cut down on the amount of heat you are losing in the winter. Rather than channeling that heat right through your floor and out into the cold soil beyond, an insulated basement will hold the heat and help to keep your first floor warmer. This will reduce your heating costs and it can also cut back on many of the moisture retention problems that basements are so prone to developing.

There are several different ways to insulate a basement and the appropriate one for your situation will depend on a variety of factors. Some insulation needs to be installed on the exterior of the basement walls, but this can be difficult and costly if you are trying to do it on an existing home. Exterior basement insulation usually makes the most sense when you are building a new home.

However, you can still insulate your basement thoroughly with insulation that is installed on the interior of your basement walls. While this may take a few inches of useable space away from you, it will be well worth it in the end.

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Home Inspection 101

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

When you are buying a house, you want to make sure you know exactly what you are getting. One of the most important things you should do before you agree on a deal is to hire a professional home inspector to come out and take a look. However, hiring these inspectors is expensive and you do not want to waste time and money on a house that is not worth it.

For that reason, it can be very helpful if you can take a look at a place on your own first to see if it is even worth making an offer on. Of course, you cannot complete the type of inspection that a professional would be able to do, but you can take a look for some important and easy to spot problems that will give you a good idea whether or not it is even worth taking the process on this house any further.

For instance, you should start by taking a look at the house from a good distance away. Make sure the house actually looks like it is standing upright and that it is even. Sometimes from a distance you can see that a house is actually leaning to one side when that is not obvious up close.

Also, this will give you a chance to check out the lay of the land around the house. Remember, you want water to flow naturally away from your house so that it does not get into the basement and cause a problem on a regular basis. That means that you want the ground to slope away from the house rather than be flat or slope towards it.

Check out all of the plumbing and be sure to run water, flush toilets and thoroughly inspect all bathrooms and the kitchen. You want to see high quality fixtures and good water pressure. Also, check to see how long you have to wait to get hot water at various locations throughout the house.

Be sure to find out what type of heating system the house has in place as well and how old it is. Even a system that works well will need to be replaced soon if it is more than 10 years old. While this may not necessarily stop you from purchasing the house, the cost of replacing that system can certainly impact the amount you are willing to offer.

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Save by Buying Low, Buying at the Right Time

Monday, June 20th, 2011

Buying a new HVAC system is a big step and a big investment. You know you will be spending a considerable amount of money, but it is worth it to get the right system for your home. However, that does not mean you should not shop around and compare prices before you buy. Prices in this industry are far from static, and you could get a great deal if you do some research and know what you are looking for.

Of course, you first have to have the luxury of being able to shop around. If your HVAC system has broken down completely, you will be much more limited on what options you can explore and how much you will pay for the system that you want.

But if you know that you are going to be replacing your existing HVAC system sometime soon, the best thing you can do is to start looking around at what is on the market now. Get a feel for the type of system that you want, the features that are important to you and what it will cost you to get all of that in one package deal.

You can also compare the prices for the same system offered by various retailers and installation companies. While it may seem like the same system should cost the same everywhere, this is often not the case. Also, different places may be offering special discounts or installation specials at different times, and you want to put yourself in the best position to take advantage of that.

The time of year can also affect the price of the system you are looking at. Buying a heating system in the middle of the summer, for instance, is often a good way to get a great deal. So if you plan ahead a little bit, you can make out big when you see the deal you were looking for.

Staying on top of the market is the best way for you to see how the prices on different systems change over time and you will be in a great position to grab a good deal when it comes up. You can also often get good deals on HVAC systems that are close to being replaced by a newer model. Just make sure that the newer model does not offer too much more than the previous year’s and you will likely come out ahead.

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Mechanical or Forced Ventilation v. Natural Ventilation

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

Just about everyone can agree that effective ventilation is essential to maintaining a healthy indoor living environment. But exactly what does this entail? There are quite a few ways to circulate air throughout your home, and each method is appropriate for a specific situation.

Benefits of Natural Ventilation

Natural ventilation, of course, can be achieved simply by opening a window. But there’s actually a lot more to it than that. If you really want to ventilate your home through natural means, then you’ll have to learn to take advantage of the differences in pressure in different areas of your home.

One way to do this is to use cross ventilation. This means opening windows or doors on both sides of your home and allowing the outdoor air to blow through, carrying stale, indoor air out the other side. A more sophisticated version of this is stack ventilation.

In a two-story home, stack ventilation can be achieved by opening the windows on the bottom floor on one side of the house and on the top floor on the opposite side. Because of the differences in outdoor air pressure, air will be sucked in through the lower floor windows and out through the upper ones.

Why Natural Ventilation Is Not Always Practical

These types of natural ventilation can be extremely effective when it comes to both cooling an indoor environment and removing indoor air contaminants. Unfortunately, allowing outdoor air inside unimpeded allows outdoor contaminants easily as well.

On particularly hot or humid days, natural ventilation can’t reduce the indoor temperature enough to make it comfortable indoors. While a light breeze is enough to take the edge off on a moderate spring or summer day, more is needed when the weather is extreme.

Types of Mechanical Ventilation

When you think of mechanical ventilation, you probably jump right to large central air conditioning systems. But that’s certainly not the only type of effective mechanical ventilation available. In fact, mechanical ventilation can be performed by just about any type of fan on the market, and while operating a fan is certainly more expensive than opening a window, it’s still much more affordable than running an air conditioner all day long. Fans can also be used in combination with natural ventilation to achieve better results than either system could on its own.

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