Design Comfort Blog

What is Kettling and why is it Dangerous?

March 30th, 2015

The sound of a kettle boiling is considered comforting and cozy by most people. It’s a bit less cozy when it comes from your boiler, however. If your boiler is making a deep, rumbling sound during operation, that’s called “kettling.” It’s one of the most damaging things that can happen to boilers, and needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

While you’re waiting for a professional to arrive, though, you should know what causes kettling. The more you know about the problem, the better equipped you’ll be to address it.

Let’s take a look at what kettling is, and where it comes from.

Causes of Kettling

Kettling is the result of overexposure to hard water, which is water with a higher than normal mineral content. As the hard water flows through the heat exchanger in your boiler, it deposits small amounts of minerals on the walls of the pipe. Over time, these mineral deposits can develop into lime scale, which will restrict or even block the flow of water through the heat exchanger. This causes the water trapped in the heat exchanger to boil and evaporate, which puts pressure on the heat exchanger. The rumbling sound is caused by the steam in the pipe straining to escape.

Effects of Kettling

Believe it or not, most boilers are not meant to actually boil water. When the water in the heat exchanger boils and evaporates into steam, it puts the pipe under far more pressure than it is designed to handle. If the pressure is not relieved in short order, the heat exchanger may burst and damage the boiler. Most boilers have safety measures in place to prevent things from getting that far, but it is still not a good condition to allow to continue. The deposits that cause kettling also prevent enough hot water from being distributed through the house, which will lead to a drop in heating.

If you notice that your boiler is kettling, you need to have it looked at as soon as possible. Call Design Comfort. We provide boilers throughout the Holladay area.

How to Properly Care for Your Garbage Disposal

March 23rd, 2015

A garbage disposal is a great addition to any kitchen. It aids in the elimination of food waste, cuts down on dishwashing time, and generally makes your life a bit easier. Though it may seem like one of the sturdier appliances in your home, the garbage disposal can actually break down quite easily if not treated properly. If you’re not sure how to keep your garbage disposal in top condition, read on.

Things to Do:

The first thing you should do for your garbage disposal is keep it clean. A small amount of dish soap and cold water is a good way to keep your garbage disposal healthy. You can also pour boiling water down the disposal to clear out any debris that might be clinging to the inside of the chamber. However, you shouldn’t run the garbage disposal while doing so. You should only use cold water while running the garbage disposal. Whether it is a good idea to put egg shells or coffee grounds down the disposal to clean it is a topic of some debate among professional plumbers. We’ll leave it up to you whether or not to take the risk, though it is possible that such things help to scour out the inside of the disposal.

Things Not to Do:

First, never put large bones or any other hard object down the garbage disposal. These can cause the disposal blades to break and require replacement. It’s also not a good idea to use the disposal for anything extremely fibrous, like celery. The fibers from the plant can tangle the blades of the disposal and cause it to overheat. Don’t pour any kind of grease or fat into the garbage disposal. Though these are often liquids when you pour them into the disposal, they will quickly congeal into a semi-solid state. This can clog up the disposal. Finally, absolutely avoid anything that isn’t actually food waste. Nothing that isn’t biodegradable.

If you have any questions about caring for your garbage disposal, call Design Comfort. We provide garbage disposal services throughout Salt Lake City.

Do I Need to Size My Boiler?

March 17th, 2015

Are you finishing the winter with a boiler that is on its last legs, or building a new home that needs a heating system?

Then you may want to consider a new boiler installation for your North Salt Lake City home. There a few steps every homeowner needs to take prior to boiler installation, and one of the most important is correctly sizing your boiler for your home. There are some common rules-of-thumb that people go by to size a heater for their home, but rules of thumb are usually pretty genera and may leave you with an inadequately sized system. The experts at Design Comfort can help you properly size your new boiler, install it, then maintain and repair it as needed, so if you are ready for a new boiler system, call us today!

Correct Sizing

To correctly size any heating system, including your boiler, a heat load calculation needs to be performed. This calculation takes into account a number of factors, including:

  • The orientation of your home
  • Floorplan
  • Number of rooms and floors
  • Type of insulation, windows and doors
  • Level of insulation
  • Daytime heat gain
  • Number of occupants
  • Square footage of your home

What Happens with a Wrong-Sized Boiler?

When you have a wrong-sized boiler, more problems can develop than just having an uncomfortable home. If your boiler is too big for your home, you run the risk of experiencing overheating your home, which can lead to short cycling as the system turns on and off constantly. Short-cycling can prematurely age your system and components, which can lead to malfunction and breakdown.

Conversely, a boiler that is too small for your home will run constantly as it tries to achieve the set temperature on your thermostat. Constantly operating will also prematurely age your system, and it will cause your boiler to use a great deal of fuel, which can get extremely costly.

If you are ready for a new boiler installation in North Salt Lake City, call the people you can trust: Design Comfort.

How the Sacrificial Anode Rod Prevents Water Heater Repairs

March 10th, 2015

Most water heaters across the country are storage tank water heaters. These are water heaters with large storage tanks, built to hold anywhere between 20 to 70+ gallons of water. While keeping that many gallons of hot water on hand at all times is certainly nice for the homeowner, it can create some sustainability issues for the water heater itself. Being exposed to water at all times can cause metal to rust out pretty fast.

In a tank under that much pressure, the last thing you want is for the structure to be weakened by rust. If the rust progresses far enough, the tank can actually rupture and cause water damage to the surrounding area. So, how to tank water heaters avoid this fate? By making use of a part called the “sacrificial anode rod.”

What is a Sacrificial Anode Rod?

The sacrificial anode rod is a long metal rod, which is inserted into the storage tank of your water heater. The rod is composed of either magnesium, aluminum, or zinc, and is formed around a steel wire in the center. The rod acts as a sort of draw for rust, protecting the inner lining of the storage tank from rusting. Eventually, however, the rod itself will corrode to the point of uselessness. When this happens, it is vitally important that the anode rod be replaced with a fresh one. If this doesn’t happen, the inner lining of the water heater tank will begin to rust.

The first sign that most homeowners have that their anode rod has failed is when discolored water begins to come out of their faucets. By that point, the lining of the tank has already begun to rust, and it may need to be replaced.

When to Replace the Sacrificial Anode Rod

The anode rod should be checked at least once a year. That way, a rod that is getting close to failing completely can be replaced with a fresh one to maintain protection. If you aren’t sure how to check or replace your sacrificial anode rod, call Design Comfort.

We provide water heater repair services throughout the Salt Lake City area.

How Hard Water Leads to Boiler Repair

February 27th, 2015

You may be familiar with the term “hard water.” Sometimes, beauty companies advertise their products as being effective at reversing the effects of hard water on the hair, skin, and nails. In some major cities, residents swear that the crust of their pizza tastes better due to the hardness or softness of the water. Hard water is actually a condition that affects the plumbing system of the majority of homes. But the degree to which hard water is present varies from place to place.

What is Hard Water?

Having hard water means that the water in your house contains minerals like calcium and magnesium. These rarely come along with any health effects, but it can do major damage to different parts of your plumbing. Scale is left behind, and ends up blocking the pipes, damaging dishwashers and washing machines, and costing hundreds or thousands in replacement costs in many cases.

One of the areas where hard water could do the most damage is in your boiler. It’s no secret that boilers are not really easy to replace nor are they cheap. Boiler repair is possible in some instances of scale buildup, but at a certain point, a boiler affected by mineral deposits is simply too far gone.

Early Signs of Hard Water

The first sign of hard water in your boiler is if you hear a clanking or rattling sound. The minerals knock around in the tank, but this noise isn’t the worst of your problems. Pressure in the tank becomes slowly increased as minerals continue to gather and take up volume. Long ago, this could create dangerous conditions. Thankfully, there are safety components in the tank that should shut down the boiler completely if the pressure becomes too high. However, this means you’ll be without any heat at all.

Water Treatment Installation

Most boilers are installed in such a way that hard water is prevented from entering the tank. Boiler feedwater may be treated and demineralized with chemicals, or there may be a purge valve in place to get rid of scale. Ask your technician if your boiler is at risk of scale buildup. You may choose to install a whole-home water softener as well so that hard water does not affect the other components of your plumbing system.

Call Design Comfort as soon as you notice noises in your boiler. We offer boiler repair in North Salt Lake as well as water treatment system installation if you’d like to take preventive action against scale.

What are Pinhole Leaks?

February 20th, 2015

The average life expectancy of a copper plumbing system is up to a century. That’s long enough that you probably won’t ever have to worry about replacing your home’s plumbing.

However, the longevity of copper pipes does not mean that they are invincible. There are still a few unique and serious problems that can affect copper plumbing systems, and you should be aware of how they work. Let’s take a look at one of the most serious problems that can afflict copper pipes: pinhole leaks.

What Causes Pinhole Leaks?

Pinhole leaks are the result of a special kind of corrosion known as “pitted corrosion.” Pitted corrosion is odd in a few different ways. For one thing, it almost exclusively affects copper pipes in plumbing systems. For another, it is always focused on a very small area of the pipe, and progresses from the outside inward. This allows the corrosion to eat through the pipe faster. Finally, despite years of research studies, no one has yet been able to determine why pitted corrosion occurs so often in copper pipes. When the corrosion finally does open a hole in the pipe, it is often very small. This is why these leaks are called “pinhole” leaks.

The Dangers of Pinhole Leaks

So, why are pinhole leaks so dangerous? The main reason is because they are extremely difficult to detect. Pinhole leaks are so small that they don’t cause any of the usual symptoms that warns homeowners of a plumbing problem. There’s no loss in water pressure, or discoloration from rust in the water. Instead, the pinhole leak just releases one or two drops at a time, too little to be noticed.

The problem with being so difficult to notice is that pinhole leaks have time to deal a lot of water damage to the surrounding area. Most plumbing pipes are located in the walls, surrounded by studs and insulation. If the pinhole leak goes unnoticed for a long enough period of time, it can rot away the insulation and even weaken the studs. By the time you notice the damage to the wall, there’s not much to be done but replace the whole section.

The best way to stop pinhole leaks from causing so much damage is to have a professional plumber inspect your plumbing at least once a year. If you haven’t had your home’s plumbing examined in a while, call Design Comfort. We provide plumbing services throughout West Valley.

Lupercalia: The Origin of St. Valentine’s Day

February 14th, 2015

Many people may think of Valentine’s Day as a holiday essentially created by card and gift companies, but the truth is that the holiday has long-standing roots going back to the Roman Empire. The name “Lupercalia” has its origins in the word “lupus”, which means wolf, and the reason for this is that according to Roman pagan religion, the she-wolf Lupa nursed the two orphaned infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome.

The Festival

The Festival of Lupercalia spanned two days each February, from February 13th to 15th. The festival was about fertility and was led by Luperci priests, known as “brothers of the wolf”. The festival was serious with intention (fertility) but was executed as quite a romp for both the priests and citizens of Rome. The process was this: two male goats and a dog were sacrificed at the beginning of the festival by the priests; two young Luperci were then anointed with the blood from the animals, and the hides of the animals were cut into straps. As food and drink flowed, the male priests would run around the city wearing nothing but thongs made from the animal skins, and they also carried a strap from one of the sacrificed animals. The strap was used to strike the palms of Roman women waiting for the priests in the city, as it was believed that being hit with the strap could help with infertility issues and a safe, healthy labor for women who were pregnant.

The Transition to St. Valentine’s Day

The Christian influence of the holiday came around the 5th century. The Roman Empire was still strong, but Christianity was rapidly taking hold throughout the world. It is believed that to try and remove the paganism from the holiday, the deaths of two men, supposedly both named Valentine, were added into the mix. During the 3rd and 4th centuries, a law created by Claudius II forbade young men eligible for military service to marry, because Rome wanted a strong army. The two men named Valentine were priests, and married young couples in secret. Both were found out and executed on February 14th, although in separate years. The Church made Valentine a saint (they chose one), and Lupercalia became St. Valentine’s Day.

Here’s wishing you and your loved ones a Happy Valentine’s Day!

What Does That Clicking Sound from My Furnace Mean?

February 9th, 2015

Furnaces are capable of a pretty astonishing variety of sounds during operation.

Most of these are harmless, like the sound of the air handler turning on or the burners igniting. However, there are a few sounds that indicate a problem that needs repair. Intermittent or constant clicking is one of those sounds. Let’s take a look at some of the different factors that can cause clicking with your furnace.

Inducer Blower

Oil furnaces produce a lot more combustion byproducts than more common gas furnaces, including large amounts of thick smoke. For that reason, these kinds of furnaces have inducer blowers that help blow the combustion byproducts into the exhaust flue and out of the house. The blower is similar to the air handler, which circulates air around the house.

It is composed of a motor and fan, both of which can make clicking noises if they get dirty or worn down. If the fan gets a bit loose, it can cause clicking by colliding with nearby parts during operation. Generally, this is one of the least harmful problems associated with furnace clicking. Even so, you should have it checked out by a professional to make sure that everything is ok.

Air Handler Motor

The air handler motor is very similar to the inducer blower, but is installed in all kinds of furnaces. The strain of circulating so much air throughout the house is considerable, and air handler motors are outfitted with lubricated bearings to help them compensate for this strain. As the bearings wear down, however, they can produce grinding and clicking sounds.

This is a more serious problem than the inducer motor, as an air handler motor whose bearings fails can overheat and burn out. If you hear a clicking or grinding coming from your furnace, no matter what kind it is, you should turn the furnace off immediately and call a professional HVAC technician to make sure that everything is alright.

If your furnace is making a clicking sound, call Design Comfort. We provide furnace heating repair services throughout the Sandy area.

What Is a P-Trap?

February 4th, 2015

When you open the cabinet underneath the bathroom sink to put away a cleaning product or fresh towels, you may have to reposition a few things in order to make it fit, as a curved piece of pipe underneath the sink is in the way. This same type of fitting sits underneath your kitchen sink; in fact, it’s underneath every drain in your home. If you were to examine the plumbing system of your home, a curved section of pipe is under every tub, sink, and outdoor drain, a part known as a trap. And the most common type of trap is the P-trap, named for its “P” shape.

For more information about your plumbing system and to receive comprehensive plumbing services in Sandy, call our skilled team of certified plumbers today.

The Purpose of the P-Trap

Plumbing traps have been around since 1775, but the first P-trap was used by Thomas Crapper in 1880. The sole purpose of a plumbing trap is to fill up with water and prevent sewer gases from entering the home. The noxious fumes from sewage are effectively blocked as long as there is a small amount of water in the bend. The original “S” shape would clog and back up frequently, so a U-bend was more appropriate in most cases. The addition of a straight pipe made for a sideways “P,” which is how the new pipe got its name.

Trouble with the P-Trap

The P-trap may eventually run into some trouble, including the occasional leak or clog. But the good news is that the P-trap under your sink is exposed, which makes repairing a leak a lot easier. Furthermore, any clogs are right near the surface, so your plumber won’t have to use any heavy equipment to remove the blockage. And if you lose a piece of jewelry at the P-trap, it’s not too hard for a plumber to fish it out.

Finally, if you do happen to smell something foul from the drains despite the presence of a P-trap, there may be a quick fix. If you’ve been on vacation and the drain has not been used, it might have dried out. Simply turn on the water and see if that helps. If not, try pouring vinegar and baking soda down the drain, and if all else fails, call an expert.

Call the friendly people at Design Comfort for information, advice, and exceptional plumbing services in Sandy.

What Furnace Noises Mean: A Millcreek Heating Guide

January 26th, 2015

Furnace noises are one of the most common ways that homeowners can identify problems with their heating system. Simply noticing a strange noise coming from your furnace isn’t enough, however. You need to know what to listen for if you are to react quickly enough to mitigate the damage to your furnace.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the most common furnace noises, and what they mean.

Grinding

If you hear a grinding noise coming from your furnace, it is very likely coming from the air handler. The air handler is a collection of parts that work together to circulate air throughout your house. The air handler motor is arguably the most important part of the air handler, as well as being the part put under the most strain during operation. In order to decrease the level of stress on the motor, it is equipped with lubricated bearings that lessen the amount of friction during operation. This prevents the motor from overheating. As the bearings age, however, they begin to wear down and lose their lubrication. This increases the friction on the motor, causing it to work harder than it should. Those worn-down bearings are the source of the grinding sound. If not fixed immediately, the motor could burn out and require replacement.

Booming

A booming sound coming from your furnace is often caused by a burner firing later than the others. The burner assembly is a series of flame jets connected to the gas line of your furnace. These burners are the source of the heat that the furnace provides. Though the primary byproduct of burning fuel is heat, there are many other byproducts that are created. Carbon particles are one of these byproducts. Over time, the carbon particles can build up around and in the burner assembly. Eventually, the buildup can become so advanced that it makes the burner difficult to light. When the burner finally does light, it creates that deep booming sound as it ignites the gas flow. If not cleaned off, the carbon buildup can eventually prevent the burner from lighting altogether.

If you are hearing strange noises coming from your furnace, call Design Comfort. We provide furnace repair throughout the Millcreek area.