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

Showerheads that Save Water: Low-Flow Shower Heads

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

If you are looking for ways to save water in your home, a low-flow shower head is a great place to start. There are many different types of low-flow shower heads on the market right now, so you should have no trouble finding one that suits both your needs and your budget. However, it can be difficult to determine which one is right for you, so it is best to learn a bit about your options before you make a purchase.

The goal of low-flow shower heads is to use less water. But you do not want to compromise your shower experience at the same time. So you need to find a low-flow shower head that can provide the same feel as a regular shower head with less water. Thanks to plenty of new technological developments, this is quite possible, but not all low-flow shower heads can accomplish this effectively.

The first thing you want to look for in a low-flow shower head is a pressure compensating system. This allows the shower head to provide a consistent stream of water regardless of your water pressure. One of these shower heads makes sure you always have a powerful enough spray for a comfortable shower even when you do not have a lot of water pressure. They do this without wasting water if your water pressure is very high.

You must also decide whether you want a shower head that aerates the water. An aerating shower head adds air to the water spray to make it feel like there is more water than there actually is. Many low-flow shower heads use this technology to enhance the feel of their spray and it can work quite effectively. But aerating the water also tends to cool down the water, meaning that you will have to turn on more hot water (and use more energy) to maintain a comfortable temperature.

Fortunately, there are some low-flow shower heads that do not aerate the water and are still able to provide a comfortable and complete showering experience. You will have to do a bit of digging to find them, but it will be well worth it to you in the long run.

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Where Are My Shut Off Valves?

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

Whenever you want to do some home repairs on your plumbing, whether it is to change a leaky faucet or fix knocking pipes, you need to shut off the main water supply. But, most home owners do not know where their main shutoff valves are, especially if they have just moved in or are renting a home that is unfamiliar to them. To help, here are some common places you can look for shutoff valves in your home.

  • Water Meter – The Water Meter, which you can usually find in your basement or just outside your home, will have a shutoff valve attached directly to it. Usually there will be two shutoff valves – one on each side of the meter (supply and home). To effectively shut off your water supply, turn the valve located before the meter.
  • Toilet Supply – Sometimes you do not need to cut off the main water supply to your entire house. It can be disruptive and the people in your home may not appreciate not having drinking water or a shower while you are working on the plumbing. So, when working on the toilet, always look for the toilet water valve located behind the tank. Sometimes this valve will be on the floor – other times it will be located on the wall just behind the tank.
  • Finding Wily Supplies – Sometimes the water supply may not be located where you would expect. It might be behind appliances or access panels or above your head somewhere. Most of the time, the water supply will still be in the basement, so start there and look carefully for the root of the pipes. Since most of the pipes in your home will originate at the supply line, you can usually trace them back to a single source.

If you still cannot find your main water supply line and shutoff valve, that does not mean it is hidden in the floor somewhere or outside. Sometimes, the supply lines are just in odd places, either because of strange construction or poor renovations by a past owner. If this is the case, get a second pair of eyes to help you hunt or as a last ditch option, call a plumber who will be able to more easily follow the lines back to their source. Nine times out of ten, you should be able to find and handle a main water supply on your own. But never rule out calling for a professional’s help if things get more complicated than anticipated.

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Understanding House Ventilation Options

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

All the fancy air quality control tools in the world are useless if you don’t have a good ventilation system to circulate air through your home each day. An air filter removes larger particles like dust, dander and pollen, and an electronic air filter removes smaller particles like bacteria, mold, and gases. However, your indoor air will still be poor without a fresh supply of air constantly circulating in from outdoors.

Types of Ventilators

There are a few options here, depending both on the number of contaminants your home has and the amount of heated or cooled air you are willing to lose each day through vents.

The simplest method is an exhaust fan. Fans blow air from your home, creating a negative pressure zone inside. Air inlets then allow new air to enter your home and equalize that pressure. There are also balanced exhaust fans – one fan blowing indoor air out and another fan pulling fresh air in. If you have open flames or gas burning appliances, a balanced exhaust fan is necessary to keep the flames from going out due to the negative pressure caused by a single outlet exhaust fan.

Traditional ventilation, while simple, is also inefficient. In the middle of winter it blows all of your heated air outside and in the summer, it does the same to your cooled air. Your home comfort system likely can keep up with the loss of heat or cooling, so you won’t be less comfortable, but you will certainly pay more on your energy bill.

That’s why heat and energy recovery ventilators are popular in many homes. Especially if you went to the trouble of having your home sealed up tightly to minimize energy loss, these ventilators will save you money.

When air is ventilated through a recovery unit, the energy and heat is transferred between indoor and outdoor air as it passes. In the winter, this means the energy in your indoor air is retained and during the summer, the energy in outdoor air is removed before it enters your home.

Which Method is Best?

The method you choose will depend largely on your current cost of heating and cooling and what types of contaminants you face. Energy recovery ventilators have the added benefit of patching directly into your indoor air quality units, so you won’t need to worry about new contaminants coming in either.

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Freon and Load Capacity – How Are They Linked?

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

If you’re like most people, you probably don’t think too much about how your air conditioning system works. All you really need to know is that when you switch on the system, your house gets cooler. But if you’re looking to purchase a new air conditioner for your home, it’s a good idea to know how to select the right one to fit the space you’re trying to cool.

Air Conditioning Basics

Air conditioners use Freon as a coolant to remove heat from indoor air and transfer that heat outside. To do this, they cycle the Freon through a closed loop of coils. When the cold Freon enters the cooling coil of the air conditioner, it absorbs heat from the air passing by, thereby lowering the temperature of the air. That cooled air can then be transferred into your home and more warm air can be cycled past the cooling coils.

Air Conditioner Sizing

The more air your air conditioner can cool at once, the larger its load capacity. In order to keep a particular space cool, an AC unit has to have a large enough load capacity to accommodate that type of air volume. A unit that’s too small will obviously never be able to keep your room cool enough, but one that’s too big will have a similar problem.

The truth is that when it comes to air conditioner sizing, bigger is not better. It’s best to simply get as good an estimate as you can of what type of load capacity is ideal for the space you’re trying to cool and stick as close to that as you can.

Load Capacity and Freon

Of course, if you want your air conditioner to cool more air at a time, you’ll need more coolant. But simply increasing the amount of Freon in your air conditioner won’t make it cool any better. Freon is simply one of many elements that contribute to effective cooling. And the larger the entire system is, the more Freon is needed.

So more Freon technically contributes to greater cooling capacity, but it’s not enough to accomplish that all on its own. There is really nothing you can do to increase the load capacity of your air conditioner once it’s in place. So for best results, make sure you pick out an appropriately sized unit the first time around.

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What Is Geothermal Heating?

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Having a geothermal heating system installed in your home means that you will actually be able to heat your home with heat extracted from the ground. If this sounds a bit preposterous to you, you are certainly not alone. But this type of home heating does actually work and the technology is not actually that much different from what is used in a standard heat pump system.

Regular heat pumps are able to remove heat from the outdoor air and transfer it into your house to maintain a comfortable temperature in the winter. You may think that there is no heat in the outdoor air in the winter, but that is not actually the case.

Air contains a substantial amount of heat even at very cold temperatures, and heat pumps are able to work quite well, particularly when the outdoor temperature is above freezing. Conveniently, the same process used to heat your house in the winter can be reversed in the summer to extract heat from the indoor air, providing you with a year round home comfort solution.

Geothermal heating works in much the same way, except that geothermal heat pumps extract heat from the ground rather than the air. In order to accomplish this, a loop of pipes is installed in the ground near your house and your geothermal heating system will pump a liquid, generally either antifreeze or water, through those pipes.

As it passes through the pipes, the liquid will absorb heat from the ground and carry it back to a heat exchanger within your house. At that point, the heat from the liquid will be released into air, which is then blown throughout your house.

And just as conventional heat pumps can cool your house in the summer by removing heat and pumping it outside, so too can geothermal heating systems. They do this simply by letting the liquid flowing through the pipes absorb the heat from inside air and then release it into the ground as it travels through the pipe loop below your house.

Because the ground is never as cold in the winter or as hot in the summer as the air, geothermal heat pumps are actually able to work effectively in more extreme conditions than many traditional heat pumps. However, because they require an entire system of pipes to be installed underground, they can be quite a bit more expensive initially as well.

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Bathtub Drain Plumbing: Things You Should Know

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

When we think of clogged drains and plumbing problems, we most frequently think of toilets and kitchen sinks, but one of the most common drains to cause problems in a home is the bathtub. To avoid drain problems and to help fix any problems that might crop up, here are some tips for how to handle your finicky bathtub drain.

  • How the Bathtub Drain Works – A Bath tub drain works the same as the other drains in your home with a simple trap that ensures the safe transfer of water out of your home and blockage of sewer gasses from getting into your home. The drain itself is frequently open with a small crack – roughly a quarter inch – beneath a larger drain plug that can be lowered when you fill the tub. While the space is not large enough for objects like a bar of soap to enter, it is plenty large enough for hair, soap scum, and other small objects from a bath or shower to enter and start clogging that trap.
  • Cleaning the Drain – To cut down on how much hair and gunk actually gets into the drain you should take off the entire drain mechanism once a week and remove any excess hair. You should also use some form of wire device like a bent coat hanger or scrubber to reach in and remove any hair you can reach. There are specific plumbing devices to help with this as well, but a hanger works just fine assuming you do not have a heavy clog. It is also a good idea to run boiling water through your drain once every week to clear out any soap and hair build up. While most soap is water soluble, it can create a thick, greasy clog when combined with hair. Hot water can help to remove it before a clog occurs.
  • If a Clog Occurs – If a clog does occur, you should use the hot water method along with a plunger to try and clear out as much of the clog as possible. Avoid chemical use at all costs. Bathrooms are usually small rooms and even with the fan on, the fumes can be dangerous and the chemicals caustic on your pipes and tub. Baking soda and vinegar often help for small clogs, but otherwise, you should move on to a snake for physical clog removal.

If you have a clog deeper than the snake can reach or that you simply cannot affect with the tools listed above, it may be necessary to call a professional who can track your clog into the pipes and find where the root of the problem is. It might be just too deep in your drainage pipe or it could be a completely different area of your plumbing system.

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Saving Money by Heating the Crawl Space

Monday, January 17th, 2011

If you’re like most people, you probably focus on how to keep the living areas of your home warm and comfortable in the winter months. Of course, you want to do this with as little expense as possible and so insulating and heating all of the rooms of your home naturally makes sense. The main goal of this is to eliminate any areas where heat might be able to escape, thereby causing you to spend more and run your heating system for longer to keep the temperature indoors at an acceptable level.

What you might not often think about, however, is the fact that the crawlspace under your floors is probably not insulted at all. Of course you and your family don’t spend much time there, but if you’re trying to keep your home comfortable for as small a price tag as possible, this is something you should think about addressing.

There are actually several reasons that heating and insulating your crawlspace can save you money in the long run. For one thing, the ducts and pipes that carry your heated air and water to various locations throughout your house generally run right through these very crawl spaces. Even with an average amount of insulation surrounding those pipes and ducts, you’ll still be losing heat to the outdoors as the air and water travel through the crawl space.

Of course, pumping heat directly into the crawl space would be a waste too, since there is no insulation to keep it there. With the proper amount of insulation, however, you can easily heat your crawl space with very little energy and potentially save a ton in the long run.

When your ducts and pipes are traveling through a heated space, they’ll retain the heat they started with and bring that to the rest of your home. You’ll pay very little to keep the crawl space warm and you’ll save a lot by conserving the heat and hot water that you do generate to keep your house comfortable.

Plus, because your crawl space is generally located directly underneath the floor, you’ll be protecting the actual rooms of your home from heat loss as well. And you floors won’t be so cold to walk on either. Overall, there really is no reason not to take the time and have your crawl space properly insulated and heated.

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