Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Sealing your HVAC ducts - Why it’s important and how to do it?

We all want an HVAC system that’s energy efficient. If you’ve tried everything from changing the air filters, to using a programmable thermostat, for lowering energy bills but nothing is working, then your ducts may be the issue. Leakage in ducts can affect a family’s comfort, and in a lot of cases you can easily fix the issue on your own.

What is duct leakage?

Leakage in ducts occurs when the conditioned air inside the house escapes the duct system via loosely connected ducts, holes, or incorrectly sealed duct connections. Leaky ducts lead to loss of 20 to 30 percent of the conditioned air running through the HVAC system. Duct leakage does not only decrease a house’s efficiency, but it may also release debris and dust from areas that surround the ducts into the air and increase energy bills.

Signs you have leaky ducts:

Duct leaks can slowly decrease an HVAC system’s efficiency. Here are a few telltale signs that your ductwork is leaking:

1. Your system is running, but you find some rooms cooler/ warmer than the others
2. Your energy bills have increased
3. Your rooms become dusty as you turn the unit on
4. You see peeling metal tape, sealant, or duct tape where some gaps or holes may have been taped up at an earlier time
5. The ductwork in your house is visibly tangled, crushed, or kinked

All the signs mentioned above signal towards an expensive duct leakage issue that may decrease an HVAC’s efficiency.

How to find out where the ducts are leaking?

The best place to begin your search is by analyzing the exposed ductwork. In case you have tile ceilings that are removable, remove them and look for ductwork. Are there any poorly connected joints? Do you see holes as a result of wear and tear, or tangled ductwork?

In case you don’t see any obvious leakage signs, use smoke test for locating problem areas. Turn the system to its fan setting and use incense. Pass the incense smoke over the exposed ducts. In case the smoke is pulled into or blown away from the joint, then you are experiencing leakage.

How to fix leaking ducts?

There are a few simple solutions that can help you fix the problem.

1. Seal the joints

If you see any loose connections, holes, or leaky joints, seal them with a duct mastic sealant or tape. Unlike conventional, rubber duct tape, sealants are more durable and offer better strength.

2. Inspect your vents and registers

Are the vents properly connected? If not, make sure you tighten the wall vents and seal gaps between the register connections and duct system to make sure you are not losing any valuable air. Creating tight connections can help you avoid leakage and keep the system running proficiently.

If you follow the tips mentioned above and still find your energy bills on the higher side then it is best to get in touch with a reputed HVAC expert.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

How to pest-proof HVAC components?

Troublesome pests are a problem businesses and homeowner’s battle all the time. Termites can destroy the very structure of your building or house, ants persistently invade your interiors, raccoons tear into your attic, and wasps can create nests!

While the right pest control strategy can help protect areas of the house or building and keep pests at bay, one of the paths that pests can take is usually overlooked: your HVAC system. By pest proofing the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system components, you can make sure the pests remain out of your house, preventing any damage to equipment, and protecting everyone from health hazards.

Prevent any kind of pest infestations by taking steps that ensure your HVAC system and its many components are well protected.

Seal the ducts

Cracks, gaps, and larger disconnections within the duct system can create access points for pests to enter the unit and your home or office building. Mice, insects, and larger vermin could enter the system, depending on how big the air leaks are.

Not only do pests inside your ducts cause destruction to the ductwork, they can also lead to serious issues with indoor air quality. Dander and excrement left behind can spread into the interiors as conditioned air flows through the duct system, causing several health hazards to residents.

Treating the problem by using pest poison is not an ideal strategy for infestation. While it can destroy the pest, they are likely die and decay in the duct system. A decaying rodent within the ductwork can cause bad odors, and locating the carcass can be a challenge. 

The best option is to lay a trap if you feel your ductwork has been infested. Live traps can easily be set within the ducts to capture larger pests such as, rats and mice, so that you can get rid of them easily. Glue traps can be utilized for catching insects. It is important to seal the ductwork professionally. Duct cleaning can help remove dead pests and the debris that has been left behind to enhance the quality of indoor air.

Installing vent or flue covers 

It is important to install vent covers on all exterior intakes, flues, and exhaust vents. The covers will help block entry points, preventing any form of infestation. These covers also have added benefits, such as keeping rain water away from the vents. However, make sure the vent covers are securely installed.

Protect the AC condenser

One of the best ways of protecting a condenser is by preventing rodents from getting near it. Make sure you keep the surrounding areas clean. Use a mild soap and warm water to scrub the unit’s exterior and the surrounding areas.

A reliable HVAC professional can assist and advise you as you work towards pest-proofing your system, and provide the required repairs, in case pests have led to damage within the HVAC unit.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Running an Air Conditioner during Thunder Storms

The humid and hot summer conditions can make you want to turn on the air conditioning. However, this season also creates conditions for thunderstorms. Keeping your air conditioner functional during a thunderstorm may cause damage, so it is always a good idea to turn it off when the weather gets bad.

Why should you turn off your A/C during a thunderstorm?

Lightning

Even though lightning strikes on a house are rare, they are certainly possible during a storm. The area where the utility lines connect to your house is an extremely vulnerable area for strikes and if lightning hits here, it may cause a power surge throughout the electrical system of the house. This surge can lead to serious damage to the air conditioner.

This damage can practically render the unit unusable. It can affect the control panel, leading to extensive repair or replacement of the whole unit. The unit’s controls to the cooling and heating system can be corrupted if a lightning strikes when the unit is on.

How can you protect your air conditioner?

Although experts recommend surge protectors, these appliances do not offer the amount of protection required against a surge that is caused due to lightning strike. Therefore, plugging your air conditioner into one will not have the advantages you expect. If you reside in an area known for high occurrence of strikes, you can secure your unit by fitting in a protection system. Use conductors, lightning rods, and ground rods to create an alternate path for lightning so that it does not travel through the electrical system of the house. These units are not 100% effective in preventing surges. Therefore, it is best to keep your A/C off when a thunderstorm pops up.

Can air conditioning be used in rain storms?

Using an air conditioner during rain storm is perfectly safe. Rain will never interrupt with the unit’s capability to function properly. In fact, utilizing your unit on rainy, warm days can keep the house more comfortable — the indoor evaporator coils remove moisture and reduce humidity levels, which helps in improving comfort levels inside the house. However, if the rain storms lead to flooding and you have water logging around your house and unit, you should turn off the system immediately and turn off power at the electrical panel of the house to prevent damage. Make sure you get your unit inspected by a HVAC expert before you start using it again after flooding.

If you are having issues with your air-conditioning after a thunderstorm, make sure you seek advice from a professional on how to get the problem fixed! 

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Tips for your HVAC when going on a vacation

Vacations evoke feelings of excitement and adventure. But it’s always important to be ready before you embark on your little journey. There are a lot of things that will require your attention before you leave, such as packing for the trip, intimating everyone about your unavailability, etc. With a huge to-do list in front of you, you may forget taking care of your HVAC system. Below are a few tips you must follow before you leave on vacation.

1. Raising the Thermostat level

When you’re not in town, you won’t need your HVAC system to keep the inside space at a cooler or warmer temperature. If you raise the temperature when out of town you can save a lot on repairs and energy bill in the future. It is best to set the thermostat between 80-85 F.

2. Surge Protection

You may face power outage at your house when you are out of town. In case there is a power surge when you are away, your HVAC could get damaged. By fitting in a surge protector you will ensure that your system does not get damaged because of an outage.

3. Maintenance of air filters

Remember, your HVAC system will still be functioning while you are out of town. Therefore, it is extremely important to make sure the air filter is as clean as possible before leaving. Clean filter can help in preventing malfunctions within your system when you are away.

4. Security

Most of us schedule timers to turn the lights off and on while away. We normally forget to take security measures for our HVAC system. Putting a sensor light or alarm on your HVAC system can offer a lot of protection. Moreover, you can also put a fence around your HVAC for more security.

5. Routine Care

Before leaving for the trip, it is always a good idea to call up an HVAC technician to perform a thorough examination of your system. The tech must check to make sure levels of refrigerant are precise, coils are clean, air filters are clean, all connections are secure, and the like.

These are just a few ways you can keep your HVAC system running efficiently while you are away on a vacation. Your vacation should be a time to relax and de-stress. By making sure you follow the tips mentioned above, you can rest assured your HVAC will remain in a good shape when you come back.  However, when choosing a contractor for HVAC maintenance, make sure you choose a professional who knows his work and can offer you the best possible service at the best possible rate.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

5 Houseplants for Improving the Air Quality in Your Home

We do everything we can to keep our homes clean- regular cleaning, repairs and upgrades to the HVAC system. However, apart from this, you can also consider seeking help from Mother Nature for helping you improve the quality of air inside your home. Here are five plants that can improve the air-quality of the house.

Garden mum

This is a comparatively inexpensive plant, and is known to be an air-purifying champion. The garden mum helps in getting rid of benzene, a diluent used commonly in oils, inks, paints, rubber and plastics. Benzene is also utilized for creating pharmaceuticals, detergents, and dyes.

Dracaena

This is an air purifying plant that is used for removing xylene, an ingredient found in several common household products like lacquers, paints, adhesives, thinners and rust preventers. Xylene is even present in permanent markers. But, in case you have pets, you can choose an alternative plant, as Dracaena can be toxic for dogs and cats.

Bamboo palm

Bamboo palm is a pet-friendly plant that can grow up to twelve feet and is great for filtering formaldehyde, a contaminant found in almost all indoor environments. If you live in a house that was built before 1970s, you will find foam insulation that comprises of formaldehyde in your crawl spaces, basement, or unfinished attic areas. Apart from this, Formaldehyde can also be found in pressed-wood products, particle board and household basics like waxed papers, grocery bags, paper towels and facial tissues.

Spider plant

Another plant that is very effective in getting rid of formaldehyde is the spider plant. They are also very easy to care for and are a great choice for those who do not own a green thumb. Spider plants are also useful in removing formaldehyde resins present in household cleaning supplies, floor covering, permanent-press clothes and carpet backing.

Peace Lily

These are extremely easy to grow and are the best house plants to get rid of trichloroethylene. This makes peace lily’s extremely beneficial for the house. Trichloroethylene is used commercially with a range of industrial uses, particularly in the dry-cleaning and metal degreasing industries. In addition, Trichloroethylene is utilized for paints, printing inks, lacquers, adhesives and varnishes.

Although most of these plants are very easy to take care of,  you have to ensure that you take into account the specific needs of the plant when placing it inside your house. When choosing the house plant, make sure you keep the plant's individual light, humidity, temperature, and water requirements in mind. This information can normally be found on the label of the plant. Buy a well-rounded fertilizer to keep your beautiful "air-purifiers" healthy, happy, and looking fresh.

The levels of pollution in the air make it impossible to eliminate exposure to pollutants completely. However, just a quick trip to the local nursery or garden center, combined with proper maintenance can ensure that the air quality within your house is fresh.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Troubleshooting Electronic Zoning Systems

Zoning is a great enhancement to a HVAC system. However, there can be some bugs in implementation if you are not vigilant during installation. Problems we face during service calls normally fall into two classes: 

  1. Something is intrinsically incorrect in the application or installation.
  2. There is a problem in the system’s operation or a component.
There are two main zoning system types: electronic and pneumatic. The difference lies in how the dampers are closed and opened. The blog discusses the best way of troubleshooting electronic zoning systems.

Start by checking the system first:

Start with checking how the system is performing during full airflow, with all blowers running and dampers open. This is also a good chance to verify that the dampers of the zoning system are not stuck.

After you have confirmed full airflow, observe the result after shutting down a zone. There has to be considerable increase in the air delivery in the rest of the zones. Also, there should be absolutely no more air transported to the zone that has been shut down. Repeat the same test for all of the zones.

Problems you may find:

System zone board

Most of the system zone boards come with an onboard diagnostic LED. Analyze it for potential trouble codes.

Board failure is not a common occurrence. Therefore, when it occurs it is very important that you find out the reason rather than simply swapping the board. For instance, a poor wiring work can be one of the biggest causes of board failures. Another reason behind board failure is inadequate power. Most experts advise that a separate 24V transformer be utilized to power the system. Has a separate transformer been used in this case? Was the transformer sized according to the size of the hardware connected?

Input sensors

These are utilized for measuring return and leaving air temperatures. In case a low or high temperature trip has taken place, did the input sensor reset? What system operation has to occur for causing the sensor to trip? Are you aware of the trip temperature points? Incorrect placement of sensors can also cause trouble. Is the air sensor located at a place where radiant furnace heat can instigate nuisance trips?

Orphan zones

While two-zone designs permit us to fragment system capacity, a third or fourth zone can lead to unintended consequences. For instance, you have a system where zone one takes 35% of the conditioned space, the second takes 40%, and the third zone is 25%. What’s the likelihood of a glitch in the system with merely twenty five percent of the system calling? In case the system obtains a call for operation from only the third zone, the enhanced noise level and air delivery can lead to complaints.

A zoning system helps multiple thermostats to turn off and on the same system; sequence cool, heat, and fan calls. Troubleshooting a zoned system requires knowledge of the logic of zoning. It is best to contact a skilled technician to service a troubled zoning system if you are not well versed with your HVAC. 

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

How to troubleshoot a gas furnace?

A gas furnace is a piece of equipment that takes in cold air, uses an air filter to clean it, heats it with the help of a gas burner and distributes the warm air through the ductwork. The heated air helps to increase room temperature during the cold winter days. Furnaces come with different efficiencies. However, once in a while these appliances may not work quite right and you may have to troubleshoot them. 

Let's look at the most common problems you may have to face with a conventional furnace.

Gas Furnace does not produce any heat:

Possible causes:

  1. Thermostat not working
  2. Propane or natural gas control valve is closed
  3. Circuit breaker or fuse that is controlling the gas furnace is tripped or blown
Best possible repairs:

  1. Check if the thermostat has the right temperature setting
  2. Try to move the dial setting down or up a few degrees
  3. Clean contacts in a non-digital thermostat
  4. If the circuit breaker has tripped, reset it
  5. Relight the standing pilot light
Blower is always running:  
   
Possible causes:

  1. Thermostat has been fixed to run fan continuously
  2. Defective control switch for fan limit
Best possible repairs:

  1. Change the fan setting on the thermostat
  2. Replace or reset furnace fan control switch
Gas furnace produces less heat

Possible causes:

  1. The air filter is dirty
  2. The gas burner is dirty or requires adjustment
  3. Air flow is blocked to the combustion air chamber
Best possible repairs:

  1. Clean or replace the dirty air filter
  2. Call a professional service provider to get the burners adjusted.
  3. Make sure the furnace has enough combustion air.
Noisy operation of gas furnace

Possible causes:

  1. A "squealing" sound caused by slipping motor or shaft bearings or blower belt that requires oiling
  2. Slight "rumble" when the burner is off may be caused due to wrongly adjusted pilot light.
  3. Slight "rumble" sound when the burner is on is caused by dirty gas burners.
Best possible repairs:

  1. Use a light weight oil to lubricate the blower motor lubrication ports located at the end of the shaft
  2. Check for correct belt tension. If it’s loose, make sure you tighten the belt.
  3. Adjust pilot light
  4. Replace frayed belt
  5. Call a technician to get the burners cleaned or adjusted.
Pilot light is out

Possible causes:

  1. Dirty orifice, a strong draft, or dirt inside the gas tube can lead to a pilot light going out.
  2. A faulty thermocouple may also shut off the supply of gas.
Best possible repairs:

  1. Ensure that your thermostat is on "Heat" mode.
  2. Find the pilot.
  3. In case you have a pilot that has a red Reset button, turn "Off," the gas valve to "Pilot."
  4. In case you have a pilot that has no red button, turn the dial from "Off" to "Pilot."
  5. Depress the knob or hold the button and light the pilot using a lighter.
  6. After the furnace burners ignite, regulate the thermostat to the preferred setting.
Sometimes your gas furnace may act out and may require repair. You can follow the tips mentioned above or call a technician to fix the problem. If the issue seems complicated, it is best to seek professional help.