Carney Plumbing Heating & Cooling Blog: Posts Tagged ‘Abington’

What Makes a Furnace High Efficiency?

Monday, December 19th, 2011

You’ve probably heard about the new lines of high efficiency furnaces being released by popular home heating companies, but what exactly is different about these high efficiency devices from your Chalfont home’s current furnace? Let’s take a closer look at what a high efficiency furnace offers and why it can save you money.

Added Features

A high efficiency furnace uses familiar technology in a new way to reduce the amount of energy lost when combustion takes place. This means:

  • Sealed Combustion – Instead of open combustion which allows heat to escape during and after the combustion process, a high efficiency furnace uses a sealed chamber with carefully measured and fed airflow to burn fuel and produce heat. Exhaust heat can then be recaptured and used to heat air transferred to your air vents.
  • Two Stage Gas Valves – With a two stage gas valve, your furnace can respond to the temperature outside. There isn’t just one “on” switch. The furnace will regulate gas flow based on how much energy is needed to produce heat for your home. So, if there is a sudden burst of cold outside, the furnace will respond accordingly, but for most days when heating needs are low, it will use only the minimum amount of needed gas.
  • Programmable – High efficiency furnaces are now programmable, meaning you can set specific time limits for operation, change thermostat settings digitally and inspect the device through an electronic read out. The level of control given to you by a programmable high efficiency furnace can greatly reduce gas or electricity consumption.

Cost Benefit

The real reason many people are interested in high efficiency furnaces is that they are so much less expensive to operate. Instead of costing hundreds of dollars to run through the winter, they operate the bare minimum needed to heat your home. Using up to 95% of the fuel they consume to produce heat and regulating gas to cut how much is consumed during milder days, these furnaces are built to save you money.

If you have an old furnace that chews through energy like nobody’s business, now might be the time to consider the benefits of a brand new, high efficiency model.

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Make Your Heating System More Energy Efficient

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

Efficiency is what you want when it comes to heating your Abington home. You want a furnace that provides the greatest degree of accurate indoor comfort while at the same time operating at peak efficiency to reduce energy usage and lower utility bills. That’s seems like a lot to ask of a simple mechanical system but you should expect it out of the furnace in your basement, attic, or mechanical room.

It is especially important today as energy costs have steadily increased, including electricity, natural and propane gas, and oil. The best way to combat rising prices is to have a furnace that uses less energy. It is a simple statement but one that bears repeating: higher efficiency equals lower operating costs.

Here are some ways to make your heating system more energy efficient:

  1. Clean or replace furnace filters on a regular basis. A dirty or clogged filter will make your furnace work harder and become much less energy efficient. Monthly or quarterly cleaning or replacements are easy to do and will result greater operating efficiencies.
  2. Inspect your home’s ventilation system for accumulation of dirt, dust, or debris. Have you recently added new carpeting? Do your pets shed? Is there a large number of people living in your home? If you answered yes to any of these questions you may need to inspect your ventilation system.
  3. Remove obstructions from around vents and grilles. You need a clean path for air to flow into and out of rooms. Restricted airflow makes your furnace work harder and become less energy efficient.
  4. Consider an upgrade to a two-speed or variable speed furnace. Most older furnaces operated on one speed, which cycled on and off and consumed a lot of energy. Today’s furnaces operate at lower speeds, consuming less energy and often remaining on to keep a steady airflow and prevent constant on and off cycling. These newer furnaces are much more energy efficient and cost less to operate.
  5. Adhere to a regular schedule of planned furnace maintenance. If you don’t clean and inspect your furnace on a regular basis, schedule service calls with a local qualified heating contractor. Your contractor will likely have a service agreement plan to fit your budget, which allows for annual inspections, priority emergency service calls, and discounts on parts and services.

Besides saving on energy costs, your efficient furnace will leave a smaller “carbon footprint.” Your efficient furnace will exhaust less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and maintain a more “green” profile. And being ecologically friendly can be just as important as saving money.

You can be assured that an energy efficient heating system will keep more money in your pocket this fall and winter.

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Common Water Line Problems

Monday, November 7th, 2011

Everyone needs water in Abington. It keeps us clean, provides us with a clean drinking source and helps us cook food and wash clothes. So, when a problem occurs with the water line, it can be disruptive to every aspect of everyday life. Here are some common water line problems and solutions you can implement to solve them as fast as possible:

  • Burst Pipe – The biggest problem you can have is a burst pipe. This is a major problem and one that needs to be solved immediately. If your pipe bursts or starts to leak, turn off the main water supply immediately and call an emergency plumber. You’ll want to have it patched as soon as possible to return normal water service to your home.
  • Noisy Pipes – Noise in the pipes is a slightly less disastrous problem but it can lead to bigger problems down the road if not dealt with. Usually, it is due to air in the pipes which can create a loud banging sound. If your pipes are vibrating or banging, the easiest solution is to turn off the water supply and drain your pipes completely, then fill them back up to remove the air build up.
  • Water Pressure – Low water pressure can be due to a number of problems, from a small leak somewhere to an issue in the incoming water supply. If you notice water pressure dropping in your home, call a professional to inspect the problem and offer potential solutions.
  • Sediment in the Pipes – If suddenly you are seeing excess sediment, rust, or other debris in your water it is probably from an aging pipe. While this doesn’t necessarily signal that your pipe is about to burst, it can be a sign of potential problems in the future. Build up from hard water or erosion can both be major problems if not fixed right away.

Water line problems can range from small nuisances to major disasters that threaten your entire home, but they should all be treated with equal import. If something happens to your water line, don’t waste time trying to track down a solution. Turn off the water supply and call a professional right away.

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Is Your Furnace Making too Much Noise?

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

The old saying that “It is better to be seen than heard” certainly applies to the mechanical equipment in your Ambler home. If you hear a squeaky noise or loud clattering you automatically suspect that something is wrong. And if that noise is coming from your furnace, you better pay attention to it. A noise is an obvious sign of a problem – minor or major – and it could result in mechanical failure that could leave your home cold and uncomfortable – and affect your home’s indoor air quality.

Today’s newer variable-speed furnaces keep a constant airflow through the ventilation system utilizing a low speed fan that consumes small amounts of electricity. Constant airflow brings in fresh air and keeps the room air from becoming stale or stagnant. Because of this constant operation, it is important to ensure the furnace is running at peak efficiency, which also means that it is running quietly.

Here are some common noises, possible reasons, and suggested repairs. As always, if you are in doubt about how to repair your furnace, call a local qualified heating contractor and schedule a service call.

  • Squealing noise – could be a worn out or slipping blower belt. Check for proper tension of the belt or replace the belt if it is worn out or cracked.
  • Squealing noise – could be worn out motor shaft bearings. Lubricate the blower motor at the proper points.
  • Rumbling noise – often caused by a poorly adjusted pilot light when the burners are turned off. Adjust the pilot as necessary.
  • Rumbling noise – often caused by dirty gas burners when the burners are switched on. This problem requires service from a qualified heating technician.
  • Buzzing noise – often caused when a blower motor mounting come loose. Tighten the mounting screws or use shims to fill gaps.
  • Hissing noise – indicates a possible air leak. This problem requires service from a qualified heating technician.
  • Ticking noise – possibly a leaky gas valve. This problem requires service from a qualified heating technician.
  • Rattling noise – could be a dirty fan blade. Wipe the fan blade or clean with degreaser.
  • Rattling, grinding, or whining – could be resistance to airflow that causes the motor to work harder. Check the vents in each room for dirt, debris, or obstructions and clear them.
  • Vibrating noise – may not be the furnace but loose or cracked seams in the ventilation system. Check the ductwork seams and hangers to ensure everything is tight. You may need duct tape or bracket hardware.

The best way to keep your furnace and ventilation system from making noises is to practice preventative maintenance. Have your furnace checked annually by a qualified heating contractor – and enjoy the peace and quiet.

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Things to Look for When Buying a Heating System

Friday, October 21st, 2011

If you are in the market for a new or replacement heating system in Abington and don’t know much about heating systems, you are not alone. Many homeowners are in the same boat as you. And many of that number put their trust in their local, professional, and qualified heating and cooling contractor to find the right furnace for their homes.

Before calling for an estimate, there are some things you can do to “prepare” yourself for one of the most important purchase you can make. Here is a checklist of things you should look for when buying a heating system.

Know your energy alternatives. There are lots of options today when it comes to heating your home. Gone are the days when the choices were so cut and dried. Check with your heating and cooling contractor for suggestions.

  1. Know what size your furnace should be. Furnaces are not “one size fits all.” The size of the furnace is determined by its Btu (British thermal unit) rating. For example, a one-story ranch home on a crawl space requires less heating capacity than a two-story colonial with a basement, thus it would require a furnace with a smaller numbered Btu rating. A home with a great deal of heat loss through windows and doors may require various furnace sizes. And don’t forget about insulation. Insulation can affect the furnace size, too. Again, check with your heating and cooling contractor for recommendations.
  2. How much room do you need for your furnace? Some homes have mechanical rooms for furnaces and water heaters while others utilize attics, basements, or crawlspaces for furnaces. If you think you need a big furnace to heat a big home, think again. Furnace manufacturers have been downsizing their heating equipment for years, while maintaining the same heating capacities. One example are wall hung boilers, which utilize water and electric as heating sources and are installed on a wall, making the unit easy to locate and easy to service – while at the same time being off the floor and out of the way.
  3. Will your heating system be “plug and play?” New furnaces can take the place of the ones they are replacing by using the same space. But sometimes a replacement unit may need some altering to fit into an existing duct system. It is almost a given that a new plenum (the part attaching the furnace to the ductwork) will have to be fabricated. But the new furnace may also require some other modifications to an existing duct system. You should understand this ahead of time and be prepared to pay additional costs.
  4. A box is a box is a box. As a rule, most heating systems are made the same. In some cases, one furnace manufacturer may produce several different brand names. The best “brand” is the heating and cooling contractor who installs and services your heating equipment. Do your homework ahead of time and find a qualified and professional contractor. Ask friends and family for recommendations. This is may be the most important thing to look for when buying a heating system

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Things You CAN Do Yourself around the House: A Guide From Abington

Monday, September 19th, 2011

If you own a home in Abington, there are a lot of fun ways you can stay on top of regular maintenance without spending hundreds of dollars to hire a contractor. Sure, there are some tasks only a contractor should perform, but there are plenty of others you can take care of with a little spare time on the weekend.

  • Fixing Leaks – Unless it’s in a main line or in your sewer, you can usually fix a leak or clog in your pipes by yourself. Replacing a faucet, snaking a line, or taking apart a fixture should still be done with the help of manufacturer’s guidelines, but as long as you turn the water supply off correctly, you should be okay taking things apart and making quick repairs.
  • Yard Installations – Short of digging it up (always have it checked for gas and electricity lines), you can do pretty much anything on your own in the yard. This includes composting, landscaping, adding a barbeque pit or upgrading your back porch.
  • Painting – Feel free to paint anything in or around your home without the help of a pro. Just make sure to use proper ventilation and to ensure that you remove any old paint carefully. If you’re not sure about the age of your paint, it should be tested for lead before you chip it clean, especially if you have children.
  • Replace Appliances – Old appliances can be removed and replaced relatively easily as long as you have someone to help you get rid of the old ones. Also, if you have a gas stove or other appliances that run on gas, always have them checked by a professional. Never unplug gas lines without someone there to ensure the gas supply to your home is off.
  • Tiling – Tiling is something anyone can do, but make sure you’re ready for the time commitment. Especially if you plan on putting tiles on a wall, it’s easy to make a mistake and ruin good tiles or good walls. Also, proper sealing around water fixtures like a bathtub or sink is vital. If you’re not sure, call a plumber to help.

There are a lot of ways you can have fun and fix up your house without paying for a professional’s help. But, remember not to take on jobs that are too much for you. If you aren’t sure how to complete a task or you want a second opinion, never be afraid to call a professional in for some help. Even if they just check your work, it will save you money and you get the satisfaction of having done the work yourself.

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How to Get Lime Out of Your Pipes (and Your Teapot): A Guide From Abington

Friday, September 16th, 2011

Lime deposits are what cause that white, chalky, filmy residue that you see on faucets, shower heads and tiles in your Abington home. Aside from being unsightly, lime deposits can also cause damage over time. Lime builds up inside the plumbing of your home, slowly degrading your pipes. Below are some tips to get rid of lime in common trouble spots.

Pipes

Lime most often builds up in pipes that carry hot water, since the water heater dissolves the lime in the water. The lime is then deposited on the inside of the pipes when it cools. Here are some steps to clear out the troublesome lime from those pipes:

  1. Turn off your water heater and drain it so it is about half full.
  2. Remove the pressure valve, being careful to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  3. Pour solvent into the heater through the open valve. There are commercial products available specifically designed to break up lime deposits, but white vinegar can be used as a cheaper and greener alternative.
  4. Replace the pressure valve, turn the heater back on and allow it to fill all the way.
  5. Turn on hot water faucets throughout the house. Let the water run until it runs clear or doesn’t smell of vinegar, depending on which solvent you used.

Kettles & Coffeemakers

Mineral deposits in a kettle or coffeemaker can cause your morning beverages to taste bitter. To clean them out, try these techniques:

  • Put 2 tablespoons of water softener in your kettle and fill it with water. Bring to a boil and rinse thoroughly. Alternatively, you can use a 1:1 ratio of vinegar and water, then let it sit overnight after boiling.
  • Fill your coffeemaker’s reservoir with water plus 2 tablespoons of water softener. Or, fill it entirely with white vinegar. Either way, run it through once that way, then a few more times with pure water to rinse.

For more obvious deposits, like faucets and tiles, usually a combination of hot water and either lime remover or white vinegar will do the trick. You can get more instruction on removing lime scale at HowToCleanStuff.net.

Those are the tried-and-true methods for making your pipes last by keeping lime at bay. Some plumbers will swear to you that putting magnets on your pipes will prevent lime from building up. Data to support that is inconclusive at best, although it can’t hurt to try.

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What Does the EPA Do for Indoor Air Quality?

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

There are a number of agencies in the United States dedicated to protecting the health and wellbeing of citizens. What does that mean for you in Gwynedd? It means many of the rules and regulations related to indoor air quality are directly overseen by the EPA and the US government. For a better idea of how this impacts your currently lifestyle, here’s a quick look at what the EPA does.

Formation

The Environmental Protection Agency was formed in 1970 by Richard Nixon and the US Congress to oversee the regulation and oversight of air, water, land and hazardous waste. In short, the EPA works to keep our environment clean and safe.

The EPA and Homeowners

While much of what the EPA does relates to corporate pollution, regulations for manufacturing and consumer products, and development of safe methods of production for things like oil, food and water, the EPA has a big hand in ensuring your home stays safe.

Specifically, the EPA started and oversees the Energy Star program to help consumers purchase appliances and HVAC systems that use the least possible energy. Additionally, the EPA oversees the measurements and minimum requirements for home insulation and ventilation. This has as direct impact on indoor air quality.

Current EPA regulations are based on the ASHRAE Standards for low rise buildings and has been revised in the last two decades to ensure proper ventilation and insulation to reduce energy waste and maintain clean, fresh air.

The clean air act has a big impact on how homes are ventilated and maintained and the EPA does a lot of public service work to educate the public on ways to stay safe, including a recent campaign to get your home tested for radon – a potentially life threatening gas that can exist in any home, regardless of age.

Getting to Know the EPA

If you have an indoor air quality or suspect there may be issues in your home, one of the best resources on the Internet is the EPA’s indoor air quality website. It contains laws and regulations that impact your home (if you plan on remodeling or adding on to your home) and dozens of resources for testing and understanding the levels of pollutants in your home.

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Space Heating vs. an Upgrade to Your Heating System

Monday, March 7th, 2011

If your heating system isn’t really cutting it anymore, it may be time to take a step back and consider what your options are. After all, upgrading to an entirely new heating system is a big investment and a large project that will likely disrupt your life at least for a short period of time. However, under certain circumstances it’s the best alternative out there.

One option to consider when you’re unhappy with your home heating situation is supplementing your central heating system with space heaters. These are generally inexpensive and can be placed virtually anywhere in your house or taken with you from one room to another.

Especially if there is a small part of your home that your heating system just doesn’t seem to reach or that you want to keep a bit warmer than the rest of the house, space heaters can be an excellent option. They’re small, safe and portable and can easily keep a smaller portion of your home or room cozy and warm.

However, you’ll have to take into account the operating costs of a space heater as well as the initial investment when you’re trying to evaluate the overall cost effectiveness of this option. Most space heaters run on electricity, which often costs considerably more than oil or natural gas. If your home heating system runs on electricity anyway, this might not be so much of a factor. But if you have an oil or gas furnace, you could wind up paying significantly more to run space heaters as supplemental heat over time.

Also, it’s worth considering that new home heating systems are likely much more energy efficient than the system you currently have in place. Although the initial installation cost can be pretty substantial, you’ll wind up saving a very large amount on your monthly heating bills by upgrading to a newer model.

Plus, you’ll be getting a system that should be able to satisfactorily heat your home without the need for space heaters or other supplemental heat sources. This translates into a pretty hefty savings over time and that’s something you’ll certainly have to take into consideration when you’re evaluating your options.

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