Design Comfort Blog

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.

Why Is Thermostat Upgrade Part of Heating Service?

January 19th, 2015

Thermostats have a lot of unacknowledged power. Why? Many people tend to overlook the fact their thermostat is the control center for their heating system, and as such, wields a great deal of power over the system itself. If you are installing a new heating system, why not take advantage of the opportunity to also upgrade your thermostat? Thermostat installation is an important part of our Design Comfort heating services in Sandy, and we’ll explain more about why this is below.

Why Upgrade Your Thermostat?

Here are some of the reasons why you may want to consider upgrading your thermostat along with other heating services you may be engaged with:

  • Precision – if you’ve been using a slide or dial thermostat, you know that you can’t set an exact temperature; instead, you have to aim for a range. While this may not seem like a problem, having your heating run at 2-3 degrees higher than you want it can be costing you money in energy usage. With a digital thermostat, you can set an exact temperature that is easily seen and read.
  • Programmability – do you drive yourself crazy trying to remember to turn down your thermostat as you leave for work every day and turn it back up when you get home? Wouldn’t it be nice to set a program that allows you to do that? With a programmable thermostat, you can do this.
  • Better energy efficiency – programmability and precision allow you to better manage your heating, which can result in better energy efficiency.

Types of Thermostats

There are three main types of thermostats:

  • Digital – precise face, intuitive, easy-to-use buttons.
  • Programmable – a digital thermostat that you can program, allowing you the convenience and benefit of programming your heating for a full seven days.
  • Smart – using smart technology, a smart thermostat allows you to remotely access your thermostat so that you can change settings, program, and monitor and track your energy usage.

Don’t let your thermostat be under-utilized; call Design Comfort today and see how upgrading your thermostat can help both you and your heating system.

Residential Heating Options in Salt Lake City

January 16th, 2015

As heating technology continues to improve, the options for home heating get more and more varied. There are so many options for homeowners these days that it can sometimes get quite overwhelming. No need to worry, though. Have a look at this short list we’ve compiled for residential heating options in Salt Lake City. Hopefully, this will be able to help you narrow down your choices for a new heating system.

Boilers

Boilers are hydronic heating systems, using water to distribute heat throughout the home. The most common form of boiler heating system is called “radiant heating.” It consists of a network of water pipes installed in the subfloor of each room. The boiler then pumps hot water through these pipes, which radiate heat through the floor and into the room itself. Radiant heating is prized for its energy efficiency, as well as its ability to evenly heat a room.

Furnaces

Furnaces are among the most popular home heating systems in the country, and for good reason. A furnace of one kind of another can operate in virtually any kind of climate. Gas furnaces are the most common, as natural gas gives off a great deal of heat per unit burned. In areas where natural gas lines are not available, however, electric furnaces can heat the home just as well. No matter what kind of heating needs you have, there is a furnace available that meets those needs.

Zone Control Systems

Zone control systems are not heating systems in and of themselves, but they are still an option of which you should be aware. They involve the installation of large dampers in the ductwork of your home, one for each room. A separate thermostat controls each damper, and each can have individual settings. When the thermostat calls for heat, the damper opens to allow warm air into the room. This allows each room to set its own climate, allowing a much finer degree of control than a normal central heating system provides.

If you’d like to know more, call Design Comfort. We provide heating installation throughout Salt Lake City.

3 Reasons Your Furnace Is So Expensive to Run

January 9th, 2015

Your heating bill is bound to fluctuate from month to month, because your need for heating is going to be different from month to month. If your heating bill starts showing a consistent rise, however, then something is probably affecting the efficiency of your furnace. There are any number of reasons why your furnace could start becoming more expensive to run. In the interest of brevity, however, let’s focus on the top 3.

Your Ducts are Leaking

The U.S. Department of Energy has estimated that forced air heating systems lose almost 30% of their heat on average to leaks in the ductwork. That’s a massive amount of wasted heat, almost a third of your furnace’s total heat output. Leaks in the ductwork of a home are often small, but if there are enough of them the impact can be quite large. If you haven’t had your ducts cleaned or sealed in a while, there’s a very good chance that you are paying for heat that is never actually making it to its destination.

It’s the Wrong Size

Properly sizing your furnace is extremely important when you first start shopping for one. If you install a furnace that is either too big or two small, you open yourself to issues that you wouldn’t have had to deal with otherwise.

An oversized furnace has a tendency to provoke short-cycling. That is, it trips the safety switch for an emergency shutoff because its higher heat output makes the system think it’s overheating. This locks the furnace into a very rapid on/off cycle, where it never has the time to actually provide a steady stream of warm air before shutting down and starting up again. An undersized furnace, on the other hand, will simply stay on for a much longer period of time because it doesn’t have the heat output to heat the home properly.

It’s at the End of its Life

The last possibility is that, quite simply, your furnace is reaching the end of its lifespan. The longer a furnace operates, the less efficient it becomes at heating. This decline continues until the furnace finally gives out, and is often indicated by higher heat bills. If your furnace is over 15 years old, it might be time to replace it.

If you’d like to know more, call Design Comfort. We provide heating services throughout Salt Lake City.

When Is Drain Cleaning Necessary?

December 19th, 2014

No one ever really wants to call a professional plumber to their home. It’s not that plumbers aren’t nice people, but that their presence indicates that there is a big and likely gross issue with your home’s water system. This fear of plumbing problems that may require a professional fix can lead a lot of people to ignore the signs of an increasingly serious issue. One of these issues is drain cleaning. Drain cleaning is one of those necessary evils that may seem like a pain, until you compare it to the alternative. Let’s take a look at some of the ways that you can identify when drain cleaning is necessary.

Drains aren’t Draining

We know, it’s obvious. Still, if your drains aren’t draining at all you should pick up the phone and call a professional to schedule a drain cleaning. Most people don’t have any problem with immediately calling a plumber when a drain isn’t draining, but they’re perfectly willing to ignore the warning signs that precede that issue.

If your drain is draining slowly, that’s a sign that there is some sort of blockage that is obstructing the water from flowing freely down the drain. This is where a lot of homeowners should be calling a plumber, but many of them don’t because the drain is still technically working. Don’t wait! Call a plumber as soon as you notice that the drain isn’t working as well as it should be.

Backflow

This is a pretty disgusting issue that a lot of homeowners run into when they have blocked drains. If water or sewage is coming back up through any drain in your house, you’ve got a blockage that needs to be dealt with.

Bad Smell

A bad smell coming from your drains indicates that the trap in the drain isn’t closing properly. This is usually caused by something either physically obstructing the trap or it getting stuck in the open position. If the trap is stuck open, the smell from the sewer line can drift up into your home through the drain.

If you’re having problems with your drain, call Design Comfort. We provide plumbing services throughout Salt Lake City.