Common Pellet Stove Challenges And How To Get Around Them

Pellet stoves, which burn pellets made from wood scraps, provide many homeowners with eco-friendly heating. With automatic feeding apparatuses and air circulation devices, they can warm entire small homes or serve as supplemental heating in really cold environments. However, many people do not use their pellet stoves as much as they’d like to because they run into some challenges along the way. Here’s a look at some of the most common pellet stove challenges and how to get around them.

When the power goes out, you don’t have a heating source.

Since pellet stoves have electric ignitions and need electricity to power their air blowers, many homeowners become frustrated when the power goes out and they can’t use their pellet stoves. Thankfully, there is an easy solution to this. Most pellet stoves can be fitted with a backup battery. Some come with factory-installed hookups for a battery, and others must be modified by an HVAC technician who has experience with pellet stoves. In either case, once you have your pellet stove hooked up to a backup battery, you can continue using it to heat your home in the event of a power outage.

Pellets can be tough to find.

When the cold weather starts rolling in, everyone who has a pellet stove flocks to the store to stock up on pellets. This can lead to shortages. To avoid being left without pellets when you need them the most, plan ahead more carefully. Look for pellets in the middle of the summer, when hardly anyone else will be buying them, and store them in plastic totes in your basement or attic to keep them from absorbing moisture in the meantime. Also, see if any of the HVAC companies in your area offer pellet delivery services and will deliver them to you on a monthly basis. Not only will this save you the hassle of potentially running out of pellets, but you won’t even have to drive to the store.

You’re not always around to turn the stove on and off.

Many pellet stoves can actually be hooked up to a thermostat, which solves this problem completely. When the temperature drops below a certain level, the electronic ignition will automatically light the stove. When the temperature rises again, the stove will stop burning pellets until the temperature drops again. If your pellet stove is not currently connected to a thermostat, have your HVAC technician make this upgrade. It will make your life so much easier.

Visit a site like for any other information you need about pellet stoves.

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Winterizing Your Air Conditioner

With the onset of the cold weather, it is time to turn off the air conditioner and turn on the heater. However, it is important to remember that turning off the air conditioner and preparing it for the cold winter months is a lot more than just flipping the off switch to the air conditioner. You will need to take a variety of different simple steps to get the air conditioner winterized so that it lasts through the winter and is ready to use in the spring once again. Below are some of the different steps that you should take.

1. Turn Power Off to Unit. If the air conditioner is accidentally turned on during the cold winter, it could damage some of the components. You will want to make sure that the air conditioner is completely shut off and that it cannot be accidentally turned on. If there is a breaker that controls the air conditioner, you may want to move it to the off position.

2. Clean Inside and Around the A/C Unit. You will want to make sure that you keep sticks, leaves, and other debris from inside the unit. This can clog the unit and make it less likely to work in the spring. It can also encourage animals and other pests to take up residence which can cause even more damage. You will want to rake leaves and cut down plants around the unit as well so that they do not begin to grow into the unit.

3. Drain Condensation. Another useful step is to clean or drain the air conditioner unit of any moisture buildup. There is typically a drain at the bottom of the unit that will release the moisture. This will prevent mildew, rust, and damage from the water freezing inside the unit. An air conditioning service technician or maintenance company can help with this step as well.

4. Cover Top of Unit. Covering the top of your unit with a piece of plywood can also be useful for protecting your air conditioner. It helps to keep leaves, snow, and debris out of the unit so that it will not be damaged. It is inexpensive but very valuable.

By taking these simple steps, you can ensure that your air conditioner is ready for winter. You will find that your air conditioner lasts a lot longer when you take good care of it and get it winterized properly.

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Keeping Your Air Conditioner Maintained And Your Energy Bills Low

Each year, you should take a few moments and follow some simple maintenance tips to make sure your central air conditioning is in good working order and being properly maintained. Following a few simple steps will help prevent it from suffering mechanical problems and ensure you are getting the best usage for your energy bills. Follow the tips detailed below so you know you are doing your part to protect your air conditioning unit and keep your bills down.

Clean the filter

You want to make sure you clean the filter before you turn the air conditioner on. If you have a reusable filter then you should take it out in the yard and rinse it with the garden hose. Allow it to dry before putting it back in. Along with taking care of the filter at the start of the season, you also want to check to make sure it’s clean on a regular basis. If you live in a dusty region or have pets in your home, you’ll want to be extra diligent about checking your filter often.

Dust all the registers

Dusting off all the registers before you turn on the air conditioner will prevent all the dust that’s collected on them from blowing in the room. When the dust blows in the room, it can negatively affect anyone with allergies, make your home dusty faster and make its way into the filter you just cleaned.

Check the area surrounding the condenser

The condenser should be checked to make sure there isn’t debris around it, or weeds and other foliage growing near it. Anything that’s within a couple of feet from your condenser should be cleared away. Otherwise, dust and debris can make its way in the condenser and clog up the fan.

Check the air flow

As soon as you turn on the air conditioner for the first time, you should go into each room and check the registers. Make sure they are all open and that the same amount of cool air is coming through them. If you notice one of the registers isn’t blowing out as much air, there may be a leak along that part of the vent or there could be a blockage inside the vent. This will require the assistance of an HVAC technician.

It’s also a good idea to have an HVAC technician from a company like Snipps Heat & Air Inc come out and check the system. They can make sure everything is running correctly and verify there are no leaks.

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The Ultimate Guide To Furnace Replacement

A malfunctioning furnace is a major emergency in most households, especially if the furnace stops working during the winter. Depending on the age and condition of your furnace, you may be left wondering whether you should call a repairman or bite the bullet and splurge for a new unit to prevent future breakdowns. Of course, furnaces don’t come cheap, so the decision on whether to repair or replace can be a stressful one. Check out these five tips to help you determine whether you can have your furnace repaired to working condition, or whether investing in a new unit makes sense for your family and your budget.

Consider Its Age

Furnaces last an average of 15 to 20 years, so if you know your furnace was installed close to 20 years ago, it’s generally  better to replace it than to attempt a repair. If your furnace is on the new side, however, compare the repair cost to the cost of replacement to help you make your choice. Generally, a new furnace costs about $3,000. If your estimated repair bill is higher than one-third of this amount, or $1,000, spring for a new furnace and skip the repairs.

Check Its Condition

Just because the average furnace lasts 15 to 20 years, it doesn’t mean your furnace will last this long. If your furnace can no longer keep your house warm enough for your family, it’s time for a new unit. You should also consider a new furnace if the unit is extremely noisy, your family is suffering from excessively dry skin thanks to the dry air in the home, or you’re simply tired of dealing with repair and maintenance issues.

Review Your Bills

If you’re on the fence about repairing or replacing your furnace, pull out your last six months of energy bills and let them serve as a guide. Furnaces tend to get less efficient as they reach the end of their life, which means your bills keep going up, no matter how much you try to conserve energy. If you notice your bills keep climbing, it’s time to ditch the furnace and spring for a new model.

Consider Savings

If you have a standard 80 percent efficiency furnace, switching to one rated at 97 percent efficiency will cut your heating costs by 20 percent each month, according to This Old House. Use old bills to calculate how much you will save each month, then multiply this amount by 12 to realize annual savings. Once you know your annual savings, multiply by 15 to determine savings over the life of the furnace. If this amount if greater than the cost of a new unit, consider springing for a new unit to save money.

Look for Deals

You may be surprised to find out just how many organizations are willing to offer you money to convince you to upgrade to a more efficient furnace. Check for offers through the U.S. Department of Energy as well as national energy-efficiency databases to find offers. A generous tax credit, discount or cash rebate may help make up your mind about repairing or replacing your furnace. Contact a local company, like Wm Jean Electric Co, for any questions.

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How To Repair A Tub Overflow Drain Leak

If you notice water stains on the floor around your tub or ceiling on the lower level, it is likely coming from a leaky tub overflow drain. The overflow drain is situated behind the cover located right over your tub drain and under the faucet. It removes excess water in case someone leaves the water running or fills the tub too high.

Water leaves your house in two ways: through the overflow pipe and main waste drain. A leaky overflow drain can damage plaster and carpeting. Here are some tips to fix a tub overflow drain.

Shut Off Water

Before you make plumbing repairs, shut off water to the tub. There should be an access panel on the wall near the tub or in the basement. If you can’t find the panel, turn off the main house water which is near your water meter. Turn off the valve and run the tub faucet to drain the excess water from the pipes.

Inspect the Overflow Gasket

The rubber gasket behind the overflow plate drain will crack with time, which causes the water to seep into where the overflow pipe connects with the gasket. Remove the cover plate, which is usually held in place by screws, with a screwdriver and scrape any excess caulking.

If the gasket looks brittle, remove it with your fingers or a utility knife, scraping off excess caulking, and replace it with a new one. You may have to push the pipe slightly to get the gasket in place. Reinstall the face plate, turn the water back on, and fill the tub to test for leaks.

Fix the Leaky Overflow Drain Pipe

If a new gasket doesn’t stop the leak, you will have to remove the pipe. Remove the face plate as before and look for small a sphere that has three or four bolts. Remove these bolts by placing screwdriver between the pipe and tub. Detach the bottom of the pipe using a wrench and wiggling it if needed to remove it.

Next, access any damage on the pipe and clean out any debris. Repair small leaks by using a welding iron and add layers of electrical tape until the hole is solid. A heavily damaged pipe will need replacing.

Reinsert the pipe to the tub, making sure the connections are tight, and apply caulking on the joins to secure. Loose connections are another cause of leaks. Turn on the water and fill the tub to test for leaks.

Sometimes, simple repairs are all that it takes to fix a leaky tub overflow drain. If your repairs failed to stop the leak, it is suggested that you call a plumber.

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4 Tips To Help You Troubleshoot Gas Furnace Problems When Your Heating Is Out

There are many advantages to using gas furnaces, such as cleaner fuel, fewer repairs, availability of energy and efficiency. Even though your gas furnace may require fewer repairs than oil and other furnaces, it may still require repairs from time to time. Usually, these are things that happen when you least expect them and when you need your heating most. Here are some tips to help you troubleshoot the problems with your gas furnace:

1. Furnace Not Turning On When Heating Is Needed

One common problem with furnaces is the motor not turning on. This can be caused by a power outage, tripped breakers or an overload. First, check to see that the furnace has power and that the breaker and fuses haven’t tripped. If it is an overload, wait to try to reset the motor. You may want to turn everything off for an hour or more before you start troubleshooting the problem. This will give the unit time to cool down.

2. Problems With Pilot Light Starting The Furnace

The pilot light not starting can be another problem you may have. If the pilot light will not come on at all, try cleaning it. The pilot light can also come on and go out, and this may be a sign that it is set too low to stay lit. Try adjusting it to have a little more flame. In addition, check all the valves to make sure your furnace is getting gas.

3. System Running With No Heat And A Lot Of Noise

If your system is running and no heat is coming out, the problem can be something as simple as a dirty filter that you need to change. If it is making a lot of noise, there may be a problem with the blower motor. You can try lubricating the motor to see if the noise stops. The motor also has a control switch on it. If the motor still makes noise after lubricating it, try turning the system off and pressing the reset button.

4. Very Little Heat Coming Out Of Vents When Heating Is On

If your furnace is not heating efficiently, try changing the filter and raising the temperature several degrees. You can also check the blower compartment to see if it is dirty and the motor is clogged. If there is a lot of debris in the blower, use a vacuum attachment to get all the loose debris and dust out of the unit.  In addition, check to make sure all the return vents are open to ensure that the air is circulating through the system.

Checking these furnace problems may solve your heating repair needs. If you cannot find the problem with your furnace, contact a heating repair contractor to inspect your system and do the repairs that are needed.

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Beginner’s Guide To Retrieving A Ring That Slides Down The Drain

If you are washing your hands and all of a sudden notice that your ring has slid from your finger and down the drain, you will want to work quickly in retrieving it before it becomes pushed further through the piping due to continued water use. Retrieving a ring from the piping system under your sink not that difficult if you have the correct tools and a bit of patience. Here are some instructions for you to use in getting your ring out and back on your finger.

Turn Off The Water

The first step in retrieving your ring is to turn off the water supply to the sink where the incident occurred. You do not want someone to accidentally turn on the water while you have the piping underneath disassembled, or you will end up with a huge water spill to deal with. Find the water supply valve underneath your sink and turn it to the right to shut the water off completely.

Remove The P-Trap

Underneath your sink is a curved pipe where your ring is most likely hiding. This is called a P-Trap. On each side of this pipe are nuts that need loosening to remove the pipe from the area. Before you remove it, place a large bucket underneath. Use a wrench to loosen the nuts and slowly move the pipe towards you. At this time, water may start trickling from the space, so do your best to redirect the pipe end over the bucket to catch spilling water. 

Clean Out The Pipe

When the pipe is free, pull it out from under your sink and shake one end over a clean, dry bucket. Anything inside the P-Trap will spill out, allowing you to sift through it to search for your ring. 

Put It Back Together

After you have found your ring, rinse out the P-Trap in another sink to remove any dirt build-up. Reassemble the piping by sliding the P-Trap back between the two nuts and tighten them on each end of the pipe. Turn your water supply back on by turning the valve to the left. Test the water by turning on a faucet slightly so there is minimal water pressure. Watch the P-Trap for any leaking to make sure you had placed the nuts back on properly. When the water runs through without leaking, you can remove the bucket from underneath the sink.

To learn more, contact a plumbing service company like Bowman’s Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning, Inc.

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Using A Programmable Thermostat To Reduce Monster Mayhem

Remember the old film Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman? All was well until a little extra heat thawed the creatures out from their frozen suspended animation. If you are worried about frozen creatures below your castle thawing and waking, install a modern programmable thermostat and make sure it is properly set to ensure no monster mayhem occurs.

Temperatures Change Unexpectedly

One of the best reasons to install a programmable thermostat to the air conditioning system is to avoid troubles with changing temperatures. Imagine if you are away from the castle on a laboratory equipment buying trip or, simply, working your day job. Setting the thermostat at a fixed number is not always the safest plan.

An unexpected weather change could send temperatures hitting 90 degrees and your castle is not going to be all that enjoyable to come home to—and then there is the little matter of those creatures in the cave thawing out.

Maximizing the Value of the Thermostat

Installing a programmable thermostat is the first step towards overcoming such problems. Taking the following steps maximizes the benefits of the programmable thermostat:

  • Review the Week’s Temperature Report

Check out the predicted temperatures for the entire week. Do not just look at the expected highs and lows of the temp. Examine all the possible changes of the temperature throughout the day. Doing so ensures the proper consistency.

  • Weigh Other Factors

Looking at changes in the weather or other special considerations for the week aids in making better programming decisions. You likely don’t want to crank up the air conditioner on nights the temperature drops to 60 degrees. What about the night of the full moon? Programming the thermostat to keep the temperature as low as possible on the three nights of the full moon helps reduce the chances you come home to a thawed out Wolfman in your living room.

  • Utilize a Smartphone App

Emergencies can and do arise. Sometimes strange, unpredictable upticks in the temperature can occur at odd times during the year. A programmable thermostat capable of being controlled remotely through an app on a smartphone could prove to be a huge help.

Problems Averted

Not everyone is a mad scientist nor does the average person have to worry artificial humanoids or lycanthropes awaking. Everyone on a budget, however, does have to worry about high energy bills and poor energy efficiency. With a programmable thermostat, you could cut down on those concerns. Contact a company like Wright Total Indoor Comfort for more information.

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Simple Steps To Unclog Your Window Air Conditioning Unit’s Condensate Line

If water is pooling underneath your window air conditioning unit, there is a good chance that the condensate line is clogged. This problem can cause severe water damage inside of your home and your air conditioning unit may stop working altogether if any of the electrical components get wet. Resolve this problem by completing these simple steps.

Use The Following Materials

  • pipe brush
  • flashlight
  • duct tape
  • shop vacuum cleaner
  • sponge
  • soapy water
  • rubber gloves
  • towel
  • bucket

1. Remove Clogs From The Condensate Line

Disconnect the power to your air conditioning unit at the breaker box and turn the power button off on your unit. Pull the end of the condensate line away from your air conditioning unit. Place a bucket under the end of the line to collect any water that is inside of it. Shine a flashlight into the line. If debris is visible, loosen and remove it with a pipe brush. Move the brush up and down to complete this step. Use the same techniques at the other end of the line that is located outside. You will find the opening of the line near the bottom of your home. 

2. Vacuum Up Any Residue That Remains

If you still see residue inside of the line, connect the hose from a shop vacuum cleaner to the end that is located outside. Secure the hose to the line with a couple pieces of duct tape. Turn the vacuum on high for a couple minutes to remove any water or debris that is stuck inside. After finishing, visually inspect the line to ensure that it is empty. Vacuum the line out a second time if you still see residue inside. 

3. Empty And Clean The Condensate Pan

Remove your air conditioning unit’s front cover.Locate the condensate pan underneath the evaporator coil. Pull the pan forward and empty it into a bucket. If the pan is dirty, clean it out with soapy water and a sponge. Rinse the pan with water once you are finished and slide it back into place inside of your unit. Clean up any water from the floor. Turn the breaker switch back on and the the power button to your air conditioning unit.

If water doesn’t accumulate on the floor in the future, you have successfully unclogged the line. Keep your air conditioning unit working the proper way by inspecting and cleaning the condensate pan and condensate line a couple times each year. For more information or help, contact a repair service like Cape Fear Air Conditioning & Heating Co., Inc.

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Two Common Questions New Homeowners Have About Damaged Sewer Lines

A functioning sewer line is one of the most important components of a modern home’s plumbing system. This line is responsible for transporting wastewater away from the home. Yet, it is often relatively narrow, which may make it more vulnerable to developing clogs and other problems. Sadly, you may not know much about this part of your home, but learning the following two answers to common questions should help you to know how to proceed when you are suspect that your sewer line is damaged. 

Why Does A Damaged Sewer Line Cause A Depression In The Yard?

One of the most common signs of problems with your sewer line is the sudden formation of deep depressions in your yard. These depressions will almost always form near the location of the problem with the line, and they are usually caused by a leak eroding soil. 

However, it should be noted that the depression will not always form at the site of the problem. This can occur for numerous reasons, but it is often due to the fact that the soil near the damage is too rocky to easily be eroded. When this is the case, the water will flow to another area of the yard where it may erode the soil. 

What Is The First Step In Diagnosing Sewer Line Damages?

Some homeowners may dread this type of work because they assume that much of their yard will have to be excavated to determine the exact location and cause of the problem. While this may have been true in the past, modern technology has made it possible for the cause of these problems to be diagnosed without having to excavate. 

This is done by deploying a small camera into the main sewer line. The camera is connected to a high-definition monitor that allows the plumber to examine the interior walls of the pipe and search for clogs. This camera is usually sufficient for the initial diagnosis, but there may be times where it is unable to determine the cause of the problem. When this happens, it may be necessary for your plumber to use sonar-based systems to examine the soil around the sewer line for clues to the problem. While this may seem like an unnecessary step, it may be the best way to avoid extensive yard excavation. 

A faulty sewer line has the potential to cause major problems for your home and your yard. However, homeowners are seldom highly informed or experienced about these problems. By knowing why depressions form in your yard and how the plumber will identify the source of the problem, you will strengthen your knowledge enough to make this type of repair less intimidating. If you’re interested in finding out more, visit sites like

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About Me

Hi! My name is Speedy, or at least, that's what my friends call me. I have always loved rec centers and what they contribute to a community. I am also uniquely interested in how they function, what they need to run and how their HVAC systems work. During the day, I work in investment finance, but in the evening, I love to read about hands on ideas related to everything from building to plumbing to HVAC. If you run or are planning to build a gym, a rec center, a swimming pool or a similar facility, you need a special HVAC system for that project. Please, explore this blog and learn about HVAC systems for those facilities. I hope you enjoy reading and that your questions are answered.


February 2016
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