Archive for the ‘Furnaces’ Category

The things you find out in the garage, part 3: it’s not the makings of good indoor air

May 23, 2014

We’ve talked about the bad venting set up for this furnace and water heater and also about what it sits on in past posts. I’m not quite done with indoor air quality, and I’d like to draw your attention to another area of the duct work that is right out in the open.air leak insulation
While we look at this system in the garage, you can see that there was an attempt to insulate and to seal the duct work. The un-faced fiberglass wrapped around most of the duct work is stained in a number of places. This would be from the garage air being drawn into the system every time it runs. The mystery regarding duct tape is why we call it that, since it doesn’t seal ducts and It was on parts of this system.
Keep in mind that all of the observations were just from the garage, the area of the home you mayduct tape leaks walk through every day. Never mind what we found in the attic.
The happy ending to this story is that this homeowner was given a list of solutions to the problems we found. With a new system, measures were taken in the home as well that will mean lower energy bills, better comfort, and most important of all a healthier and safer home.

Thanks,
Jason

The Things you Find out in the Garage

April 28, 2014

While visiting one of our locations, Young’s Air conditioning in Los Banos, I had the pleasure of joining their auditor on the discovery of a unique furnace venting arrangement. As you might imagine with combustion equipment, unique is not really a good thing.P1060853
To the untrained eye, this arrangement might look fine, everything’s connected after all. But even from a distance, this furnace and water heater set up, to even the slightly trained eye, looked wrong because…well it was.
Two exhausts into one may be ok if it is sized right and pitched correctly, but here is a natural draft water heater and a power vented “sealed combustion” into the same flue.
Power vented appliances are also called direct vent, implying they are directly vented to the outside, and should be, on their own.
IP1060852’m in awe over the connection where the PVC (used for lower temperature exhaust) is TAPED into the metal connector (high temperature exhaust) of the 6” flue.
Making sure combustion equipment is set up properly is only the beginning. Having certified and trained people to install and assess that equipment is important. Our advisors are BPI-certified for this reason.
I’ve got more to share, till next time.
Stay safe!

Jason.

Don’t eat your Boots

March 24, 2014

For those in the eastern part of the country, experiencing record breaking cold temperatures and another round of storms, you may be wondering if the continent has shifted north to the arctic, or if winter will ever go away. To cheer myself up, I’ve been reading a book called “The Man Who Ate His Boots: The Tragic History of the Search for the Northwest Passage” by Anthony Brandt. Winter doesn’t seem so bad anymore, nor does Spring.

Wintering over in the arctic at -30F with your ship frozen in the ice just so you can go further North when it thaws seems… kind of crazy. It’s not for me, but what I did find fascinating with this history, was the ingenuity that came from these voyages over two centuries ago and how little it transferred to home.

One explorer, Captain Parry spent some time with a stove maker to design a better system that not only kept the ship warm and melted ice for the crew, but also handled condensation build up in their makeshift home for the winter. Below zero outside and 70 degrees inside must have felt pretty good. It was not simply a better stove. It was a system. Insulation was added, heat was distributed and in addition to comfort, they burned less fuel. Just like your home should be!

Brand writes: “Mr. Sylvester and Captain Parry had invented a remarkably efficient form of central heating. It’s a shame the system was not applied to British housing, which remained heated entirely by coal fireplaces into quite recent times.

Past explorations led to eating leather boots to survive and worse, and Captain Parry learned a thing or two. Don’t eat your boots to survive at home. Consider making your ship more bearable for the rest of this season and for the next! I’m guessing the good Captain made himself comfortable at home too.

Spring is coming!

 

Thanks,

Jason

image from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AIcebergs.jpg

 

Bird’s Nests and Broken Flues

December 6, 2013

We are well into the heating season for many areas of the country.  And recently we talked about

bird nesta clean and tune; the annual servicing of your heating equipment.    This can be done at any point in the year but some of us wait to the last minute to do it.  Some sign on with a service agreement so they don’t have to think about it.

Efficiency is a big part of getting your furnace or boiler running in top shape, but it’s important to check equipment attached to flues or chimneys to ensure that they are actually drafting properly.  The bird nest built over the summer in this home in Allentown Pa  caused a lot of problems for the residents, in particular potentially lethal levels of Carbon Monoxide.

Consider a BPI certified contractor capable of doing testing needed to ensure the worst case doesn’t happen.   Make nesting for the winter comfortable and safe!

Thanks,

Jason

Image: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Seggerde_Storchennest.JPG

Helping out the Orphans?

November 12, 2013

I’m not talking about the Oliver Twists of the world, but the orphans I’m referring may be in your home, in closets, basements and garages.

orphans

 

What I’m referring to is something our advisors come across in an energy audit on a regular basis, an orphaned appliance; usually it’s a naturally drafting water heater.   It means that the small flue that comes off of the orphaned appliance runs to a larger chimney that used to share another combustion appliance with.  Without the larger one to help, the orphaned appliance can struggle to draw properly.

P1060275

In fact it may not draw at all, which means the unhealthy combustion gasses will enter your home instead of exit it, that can be dangerous.

This is why it is so important to have a professional test the health and safety of equipment in your home as well as test the home itself and how it can influence the equipment.   Not every heating technician does this on a regular seasonal tune up.  Our energy advisors check for carbon monoxide in the equipment and throughout the home.  We check how fans and doors in the home interact with the area combustion appliances live. We keep an eye out for orphans every day do every day as BPI certified auditors.  There’s much more to a comprehensive energy audit than energy!

Help these orphans and help make your home a safer one!

Thanks,

Jason

 

Orphan flyer picture:  http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AOrphan_train_flyer.jpg

Better late than later! It’s time again to think about a furnace tune-up!

October 22, 2013

You should get your furnace (or boiler) checked at least once a year (more if you burn oil) to make sure that it is operating safely and efficiently.

snowflakes

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure as they say.  Preventive maintenance can help ensure that your furnace runs when it needs to.  You would be surprised how many service calls we get in the northeast on the first cold days of the year.  There is a spike in calls when we experience a deep cold snap too. This of course is not the time you want your furnace to go down!

By the end of September in the northern US, many contractors start getting backed up with service calls as you may have discovered if you tried to schedule one in the last few months.  As you head south, that shifts from October to even December (OK, Palm Springs doesn’t get backed up in heating season, which is why I for one, hope to visit!).

Get that furnace tuned-up BEFORE heating season kicks in and if it has in your neck of the woods, before it really gets cold!

Thanks,

Jason

 

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ASnowflakesWilsonBentley.jpg

When in Rome….perform combustion safety testing!

October 11, 2013

Heating season is approaching for some parts of the country and while this stove doesn’t heat the place, the College of Cardinals that gathered in the Sistine Chapel last winter, used a stove system that has evolved over many years, and needed some fine tuning to work right.   The_Sistine_Chapel_(5967688938)

Jon Vara, in The Journal of Light Construction wrote, that since at least 1903, ballots from the papal voting have been burned in this system of ductwork and combustion equipment to announce their decision on a new pope.

Many things have been tried to ensure the color of the smoke is correct, but just as important if not more so, is the trouble of getting the smoke to go the right way.  Even in the latest installation from 2005, the stove back-drafted.

Our advisors might pay special attention to how equipment works in your home.  They also pay special attention to how the home and heating equipment interact too.  I’d say they would have to bring a few more (ok, many more) blower doors to test the tightness of such a big place like the Sistine Chapel, but combustion testing is the same big or small.

Smoke needs to leave the house (or chapel) and other gasses should go with it.  Carbon Monoxide is the silent killer we are most often concerned about.  Holy Smokes, no matter what kind of stove furnace or boiler, or building for that matter, we should all be concerned with combustion safety whether you live in Rome, Georgia, or Rome, Pennsylvania or Rome, Ohio, or Rome, Maryland or Rome, New York, or Rome, Oregon… you get the idea.

Thanks,

Jason

photo from Wikicommons

 

Equipment: Reach for the stars!

September 18, 2013

I’ve been talking about the demonstration home at one of our locations lately, and ASI installed some great upgrades including a high efficiency water heater and HVAC system, Energy star appliances, and LED lighting.  We’ve discussed many of these things in the past because they make sense, especially when electric rates can be high.

101_0858

It’s a great idea to reduce the wattage of lights but who wants to read in the dark?  Lighting is like comfort, you don’t need to compromise in order to be more efficient.  When it comes to lighting, Lower wattage CFL’s and LED’s allow us the best of both worlds just like high efficiency equipment.  As an added bonus, the LED lighting that we install has a life of over 50,000 hours. That’s a lifetime for most people.

101_0935

They say HVAC is the heart of home performance and good equipment goes hand and hand with good buildings, these are stars that are both within your reach.

Thanks,

Jason

 

Do you need a Dehumidifier?

February 18, 2013

humidityAs we look to improve our homes and the air in it, taking control of the airways are very important.  Come wintertime, we often struggle with comfort in more ways that just staying warm.   Sometimes it gets dry too.   People tend to be comfortable with humidity levels a little higher than what is ideal to prevent condensation issues and mold growth.

Winter brings dryer air and a home that is more porous than it should be brings that air inside.  Keep in mind that our homes are like chimneys.   They are smoke stacks drawing from low and exhausting out high.  When exceptionally dry air is brought into our homes it tends to make us uncomfortable.  The quick fix solution is to slap a humidifier on the duct work.  Voila!  Comfort!

This can come with a price, maintenance for one.  If you don’t keep that unit clean it can become a breeding ground for mold and bacteria.  Just the sort of thing you don’t want attached to the air distribution system in your home, sort of like building over a stinky damp crawlspace.

Sealing up air leaks in your home will help control moisture by reducing much of the dry air entering in the first place.  If you still need humidification then keep the unit clean and monitor humidity levels.  Excessive condensation on windows, and mold growth in wintertime are signs that you might have too much moisture in the air.   Take control of your airways and manage moisture too!

 

Thanks,

Jason

 

Welcome Gundlach’s! New to GreenHomes but 100 years in Business!

January 23, 2013

 

 Gundlachs_tag_JPEG

 

It is an honor and a pleasure to welcome our latest partner Gundlach’s Plumbing & Sheet Metal to the GreenHomes America network where we can truly help fulfill their statement, “today’s technology with good old fashioned integrity.”  It is great to see our network grow in Southern California, with this new location in Bakersfield.

Gundlach’s is a plumbing, heating, ventilation and air conditioning service provider, originating in 1900 as a plumbing repair shop.  They also provide remodeling services for bathrooms and kitchens; becoming a GreenHomes America partner, they will now include home energy retrofits, allowing homeowners to dramatically improve their home’s energy efficiency and comfort levels.

Ken Wonderly, Owner of Gundlach’s says “We feel that the home energy retrofit market is going to grow substantially over the next few years and we are very excited to be part of it”.  Too true, I can see it growing already.  Welcome aboard!

Find out more http://www.gundlachsservice.com/.

Thanks,

Jason

 

 


%d bloggers like this: