Design Comfort Blog: Archive for October, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 31st, 2011

Happy Halloween! Halloween is a time of superstition, mystery, and celebration; we hope you have a wonderfully spooky day! However, your heating system making scary noises is no fun at all. Be sure to get your contractor to come over and check it out, a malfunctioning heating system can definitely ruin any holiday!

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How to Get Your Furnace Ready for Winter: A Tip from Utah

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Being cold in a Utah winter is normal – as long as you are outside. But you shouldn’t be cold inside your own home. If that happens, the first place to look to is your furnace, which may not be working correctly. Furnaces are like any other piece of mechanical equipment. They need to be maintained and serviced on a regular basis to ensure they are working at peak efficiency and warming your entire home at your desired comfort level.

The best time to get your furnace ready for winter is not during the cold winter months – it is before the winter season even begins. There are several way to get your furnace ready for winter and let’s explore some of them.

First of all, check and see when you last had your furnace serviced. If it has been over one year ago, you should schedule and maintenance inspection from your local qualified heating and cooling professional. And when you make that appointment, ask about service agreements and getting on a regular maintenance schedule. Most heating and cooling contractors offer service agreement plans which include furnace and air conditioning check-ups on an annual basis.

Okay, so you know who to call for maintenance but what can you do yourself? First of all, give your furnace a little “help” by checking the vents and returns throughout the house. Ensure that there are no obstructions or blockages such as rugs, clothing, furniture, etc. You need to have unobstructed paths for your heated and return air to flow. The more congested the path, the harder your furnace will have to work. And while you’re at it, make sure your vents are open or closed, depending on how much you use your rooms. For example, if you have an extra bedroom that doesn’t need to be heated, closed off the vent or close the damper in the ductwork. The heated air will be diverted to other parts of your home where it is needed.

You can also help the airflow by vacuuming the vent cover or removing it and vacuuming any of the ductwork that you can easily get to. For a more thorough job consider calling a qualified and professional duct cleaning contractor. Many heating and cooling contractors also offer duct cleaning service, too.

Another maintenance function that you can perform is cleaning or replacing the furnace filter. Depending on the size of your home and its air quality (occupants, pets, etc.), you may want to clean or replace your air filter every one to three months. A dirty filter can restrict airflow and can put contaminants like dirt and dust right back into your air system. If you don’t know how to replace your air filter, consult the furnace owner’s manual or go online to learn more. If your furnace uses an electrostatic air filter, it will need to be removed and cleaned, either by using a hose or with soapy water and a hose. Make sure you let it dry before re-installing it.

You may also want to inspect any electrical wires around your furnace to ensure none are broken or frayed. A visual inspection should be good enough.

Once you have done what you can, let your heating and cooling professional take over from there. They are licensed and trained to inspect your furnace and ensure that it is in peak operating condition. And do it today – while everyone else is waiting.

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Why Fall Maintenance is Important for Your Heating System: A Tip from Utah

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

When it comes to heating equipment maintenance and repairs in your Utah home, it does not pay to procrastinate. The longer you put off the maintenance, the higher the probability that your heating system will break down or your heating and cooling contractor will be unable to make an emergency repair when you need it. That’s why fall is the best time of the year to have maintenance and repair procedures performed.

Consider this: when do most people call a heating and cooling contractor? The answer: when they need a repair. The call could come in the middle of the night when a furnace stops working or during a family party on a weekend – both times when it is hard to find someone to do the repair work. Has this happened to you? If so, there are ways you could have prevented this from happening – and could have saved from cold nights and embarrassing situations with house guests.

You can avoid this aggravation and extra expense by scheduling fall maintenance for your heating system. Fall is often the “slow season” for heating and cooling professionals and many schedule their routine service and maintenance appointments during this time.

Most heating and cooling contractors offer service or maintenance agreements, which lock in at least one or two visits a year for furnace or air conditioner inspection. It is rare to find a contractor who will schedule a furnace inspection during the cold winter months. They know that time is usually saved for people with real emergencies. If you don’t have a service agreement with a contractor, you may want to consider signing up for one and avoid the risk of waiting in line for a furnace repair in the dead of winter.

During fall maintenance, your heating equipment will be switched on and inspected. That may sound routine but by running your heating system early, you may be spared the expense of repairing your system when it fails to operate or run smoothly during the cold months. If there is a problem, it is better to fix it ahead of time.

There is no guarantee that a furnace that is tuned up in the fall will last throughout the winter without needing service. But a little preventive maintenance ahead of time will save a lot of heartache – and dollars – when a real emergency comes up.

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How Heating Zone Control Can Save You Money: A Tip from Salt Lake City

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

The costs of heating your Salt Lake City home have risen dramatically over the past couple of decades, thanks to higher energy costs and price increases for heating equipment. Despite the strides made in energy efficiency, there seems to be no end in sight for the steady rise in heating equipment operating costs.

Now add in the cost of heating unoccupied areas of your home, such as basements, hallways, or extra bedrooms, and the energy costs go even higher. Most of these costs are unnecessary and avoidable if you have the time and a small investment in a well-planned heating “strategy” for your home. This strategy involves using heating zone controls to make the most efficient use of your heating system.

In a nutshell, here is how heating zone control works. The rooms in your home are connected to your heating system by a series of ductwork, which carries heated and conditioned area to all corners. But some of these areas may not need to be heated as much – or possibly at all – compared to other rooms in your home. For example, do you need heat in your kitchen but not in your basement? Most people would answer yes. Or they may say they need more heat in the kitchen and some, but not very much heat in the basement.

Or try this: do most people in your house spend more time in one room, such as the family room, and less time in their bedrooms? If so, why would it be necessary to heat the bedrooms all of the time? In order to deliver heat to areas in your home that need it the most, the ductwork to these rooms should always be “open.” Ductwork to other unused areas of your home can be “closed” during various times of the day.

Opening and closing of ductwork and airflow is achieved by zone controls. A zone control is installed in the home which electronically or wirelessly opens and closes “dampers” in the ductwork, depending on the heating demand. You can divert heat to areas of your home using zone control and dampers while decreasing the heating load on your furnace. This type of heating zone control will move heated air to where you want it. Simply put, you are not heating areas of your home that don’t need the heat.

The heating zone controls can be programmed for various times of the day, too. For example, you may not need any heat in your basement while you sleep or when you are away from home. You can program the damper in your basement’s ductwork to remain closed or partially open during these times. In a sense, the heating zone control in your home acts like a programmable thermostat – only it uses a series of dampers to control indoor temperatures.

The next time you walk into an unused part of your home, think about how much money you are spending to heat it. It makes sense to consider heating zone controls. The initial costs of installing zone controls and dampers are minimal and the payback in energy savings and comfort are substantial.

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Allergens Affected by Indoor Air Quality Systems in Utah

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Indoor air quality devices are designed to capture and remove certain allergens from the air, but what exactly is being removed and how would those allergens affect the indoor air quality in your Utah house if left to circulate? Here is a quick rundown of common allergens found inside the average home and why you should have them removed:

  • Dust Mites – Dust mites develop in high humidity conditions – above 50%. This means that dehumidification to a healthy range between 35-50% will keep them from developing and ensure your indoor air stays comfortable and safe. Dust mites are not dangerous but they can severely increase complications from asthma and other uncomfortable conditions.
  • Animal Dander – Dander from cats, dogs, birds and other furry or feathered creatures is a common allergen for millions of people. If you suspect dander as an allergy, go on vacation to a place without dander and see how it affects you or your loved ones.
  • Dust and Dirt – Dust is in every home and while it is a common irritant, it can inflame asthma or worsen allergies many times over.
  • Pollen – Pollen is a problem for anyone with seasonal allergies or hay fever. While medicine can help, proper sealing of your house and indoor air filtration can reduce the presence of pollen from clothing and animals.
  • Mold Spores – Mold develops in high humidity and in ductwork where it is dark and sometimes damp. Proper filtration with a HEPA system and dehumidification will reduce this risk.
  • Bacteria and Viruses – Bacteria can develop in the air from common colds, old food or outside contaminants. Use a UV light to remove these from your air handler or ductwork.
  • Smoke and Exhaust – Indoor/outdoor ventilation can allow in smoke and exhaust that irritates most lungs. To avoid this problem install an electronic air cleaner that can target particles in smoke.

Getting rid of allergens in the air is an important aspect of maintaining a clean and healthy household. Proper air cleaning, filtration and UV purification will reduce these allergens many times over. There are also some great tips on the Asthma and Allergy Foundation website for how to reduce the presence of those allergens to start with.

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