Design Comfort Blog: Archive for December, 2014

When Is Drain Cleaning Necessary?

Friday, 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.


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.

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Why Do Combustion Heating Systems Need a Flue?

Friday, December 12th, 2014

Everyone knows why a chimney is necessary for a wood-burning fireplace. Burning wood produces a lot of smoke, which is quite harmful if inhaled. The chimney exists to vent the smoke out of the house, while still allowing the heat from the fire to radiate through the room. Why do modern heating systems need exhaust flues, though? They mostly burn natural gas, not wood, so there’s no need to vent smoke. Read on for an explanation of how combustion systems work, and why you should be very glad that they make use of exhaust flues.

Incomplete Combustion

Most home heating systems utilize some form of combustion. That is, they burn a fuel of some kind to generate heat for the house. What many homeowners don’t know is that all of these systems use incomplete combustion. As the name suggests, incomplete combustion is when the fuel is not entirely consumed by the process of burning it. There are leftover bits and pieces, called “combustion byproducts” that remain after the fuel is burned. It is these byproducts that the exhaust flue is meant to address.

Combustion Byproducts

There are a number of different combustion byproducts of burning natural gas. Most of these are harmless, but the three most dangerous byproducts are carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide. All three of these gases are dangerous to humans if inhaled, and can cause a number of harmful side effects including death. Carbon monoxide is the most dangerous of the three, due to humans’ inability to detect it. It is odorless, tasteless, and invisible. The only way to detect carbon monoxide is to buy a sensor (which is a good idea) or recognize the signs of exposure. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include sudden dizziness, nausea, blurred vision, seizures, unconsciousness, and death. If you begin to feel any of the preliminary symptoms in your home while the heat is on, get out of the house immediately and call emergency services.

This is why the exhaust flue is so important. These combustion byproducts are an unavoidable result of combustion heating. The exhaust flue is what siphons these pollutants out of your house and keeps you safe. If you have any reason to suspect that your exhaust flue is having issues, call Design Comfort as soon as possible. We provide heating repair throughout Salt Lake City.

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Standing Pilot vs. Intermittent Pilot: What’s the Difference?

Friday, December 5th, 2014

The pilot light has been a staple of home heating systems for decades. The continuous flame underneath furnaces and boilers across the country has gained wide recognition as the ignition source for the heater. It has also become notorious for going out for no apparent reason. This, combined with recent advances in technology, have led to the rise of intermittent systems. Let’s take a look at the differences between the two systems.

Standing Pilot

The standing pilot light is the traditional ignition source for most natural gas-fueled combustion heating systems. It is comprised of a small burner, a gas valve to supply the burner, and a thermocouple. When the pilot light is first lit, usually by a button on the outside of the heater, the thermocouple registers the heat and sends an electrical current to the gas valve. This current keeps the gas valve open and supplying fuel to the pilot light. As long as the thermocouple keeps registering the heat from the pilot light, the flame can stay lit indefinitely. When the flame goes out, the current stops and the gas valve closes. This is a safety measure to prevent the home from filling up with gas.

There are a couple of issues with this kind of system, the first of which is wasted energy. The pilot light stays lit 24/7, consuming fuel even when you aren’t using the heater. It’s a small flame, but when you consider the months that you likely aren’t using your heater it can add up quickly. The second issue is the pilot light’s propensity for blowing out. While it can often be relit easily, if the pilot light does go out it prevents the entire system from starting.

Intermittent Pilot

The intermittent pilot light is an electric system, designed to combat some of the biggest flaws of the standing pilot. Rather than keep a flame burning all the time, the intermittent pilot only lights when needed. The system responds to the command for heat by using an electric spark to ignite the flame. A sensor registers the flame and lights the main burner, at which point the pilot light goes out.

This technology solves both of the standing pilot light’s main issues. However, it is a much more complicated system, and often more costly and difficult to fix.

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

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