Four Types Of Shade You Can Use To Keep Your House Cooler

If you’re looking for ways to decrease the strain on your AC unit and keep it from working itself into premature malfunction, keeping your house cool naturally is the way to go. Don’t sacrifice comfort just because the AC unit you have is too small for your house or is waiting for repairs. Some of these shade alternatives can be used in the short term and can help while you’re waiting for the repairman, but most are long-term solutions that will help you manage a living space slightly too large for your unit or help you reduce the amount of energy your unit uses. Choose whichever of these four shade options best suit your situation.

1. Shade trees and vines

Shade trees are understandably a very long-term solution, so you may not want to wait that long. You should also check with your homeowner’s association to make sure you’re allowed to plant trees, because trees too near a house can be a nuisance or a hazard. If you want shade that will help this summer and won’t take years to grow, you can try planting fast-growing vines (such as hops) on trellises next to your walls. Don’t let vines grow on the house itself, or they may damage it.

2. Shade cloth or sails

Shade sails can be installed over your roof to take the brunt of the sun’s force during the day. Some companies will also install shade cloth with a system that floats it just a few inches above the roof, which provides for maximum coverage while still allowing for ventilation. These types of shade help keep your roof cool by intercepting light and heat rays and then allowing them to dissipate into the air. This prevents a considerable amount of heat transfer through the roof, even if you have plenty of insulation; a black asphalt roof can commonly get up to 150-160 degrees in the summer sun.

3. Awnings

Awnings can shade your windows, preventing the “greenhouse effect” of sun shining through glass. The sun hits the awning and dissipates before it reaches the glass in an ideal situation, but for sunny windows, you may have to install quite a large awning if you want to be sure no sun will reach the glass

4. Shutters

If your windows are too large or too tall for an awning to be practical, you may wish to make use of shutters or external blinds. These block heat over the entire window surface and can easily be opened in the cool evening to encourage airflow.

These four types of shade can all help save your house from accumulating too much heat. If you want to pick just one area of the house to focus on, pick the roof; its 150-degree temperatures may be the single biggest contributor to your house’s heat gain, and cooling your roof helps it last longer by protecting it from thermal shock.

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Low Refrigerant Charge And Premature Air Conditioner Repairs

An air conditioner’s refrigerant usually plays one of the most important roles in the system’s cooling process. This is because it is the liquid refrigerant’s change of state – from a liquid to a gas – that causes the cooling effect responsible for cooling the air passing over the evaporator coils. Having too little of this liquid is therefore bound to affect the functioning of the air conditioning system. Here are some of the ways through which having a low refrigerant charge can lead to premature air conditioner repairs.

Air conditioning system’s lifespan

When there is too little refrigerant in an air conditioning system, there is usually a reduction in the efficiency with which the unit cools a given space. This is mainly because of the effect that too little refrigerant has on the evaporator coils.

Under normal operations, the liquid refrigerant is usually under low pressure when it arrives at the cooling coil area. The low pressure usually forms an environment that is conducive enough for the refrigerant to absorb heat from the air passing over the cooling coils, a process that then causes it to change from a liquid into a gas.

However, when the air conditioning system is low on refrigerant, the refrigerant usually arrives at the evaporator coil region at too low a pressure. The resulting cooling effect given off by the refrigerant under these circumstances is usually enough not only to condense moisture from the air passing over the coils, but also to freeze it. This then leads to coil icing complications that eventually reduce the efficiency with which your system will cool your home.

Reduced cooling efficiency usually means that the air conditioning system dumps into your home won’t be as cold as it should be. The system will therefore have to take longer in order to get your home’s temperature to the desired level. This overworking of the system will accelerate the rate at which the unit’s parts deteriorate, something that will have you worrying about repairs way earlier than you should.

Damaged compressor motor

While it usually takes time for a homeowner to feel the financial heat of accelerated wear and tear, compressor motor damage is something that he or she may have to deal with early on.

Low refrigerant usually causes compressor motor damage in air conditioning systems that rely on the refrigerant to cool the motor. This is because having too little of the refrigerant in the system leads to a cooling system that is too ineffective to cool the compressor motor. This then causes the motor to overheat. And if the system continues to run under these circumstances, the compressor motor may end up getting completely damaged. Replacing it may then be the only way of getting your air conditioning system running again.

For air conditioning repair, contact a company such as American Heating & Air.

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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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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.


May 2016
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