Road trip with the a/c device

Julie loves taking road trips.  Her friends tell her she’s a nomad, and she has to agree.  She can never stay in one place for very long. She’s traveled all across the United States, from north to south to east to west.  She sometimes camps during her road trips, when the weather is beautiful outside, but when it’s too cold or too hot, she prefers staying at random hotels along the way.  She loves the comfy bed and hot shower, and catching up on current events on the television. While she does enjoy hotels, one of her biggest complaints about them is their heating and air conditioning units.  They are always too loud, waking her up at night, or too hot or cold, causing her to shiver or kick off her sheets in discomfort. She spends half her nights fiddling with the thermostat trying to get the temperature just right.  Recently, while staying for two nights at a roadside motel, the air conditioner was sputtering and making terrible noises. She called the manager immediately to send an HVAC technician into her room. The service technician was able to fix the problem so that she wasn’t sweating all night long. He told her that heaters and air conditioners in hotels are always breaking down, and that they keep his HVAC business busy year round.  She thanked him, only to have the same problem the following night. She told the manager the air conditioner repair hadn’t worked, and requested a new room. Road trips and hotels are fun, but Julie wishes the heating and cooling units were as reliable as they are in her own home!

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Talk about trying to do a heating repair and not having success

I have a hedgehog and a bearded dragon and they need the house to stay warm or they could die. I was living in the Midwest, it was 20 degrees outside, and suddenly my heater stopped working. It was one of those central heater with an air conditioner too. Anyways, I was glad I was home so my pets didn’t freeze to death. I always keep a box of hand-warmers around for emergencies but the temperature was dropping so fast that I didn’t feel they would be much help. I put on my heavy winter coat and put both of my pets inside the coat so that my body heat could keep them warm. In the meantime, I was trying to figure out what was wrong with the heater. The electricity was still on in the house. The thermostat was on and had batteries but the heater just would not kick on despite the falling temperatures. I called up my manager and he came over in about 2 hours. By now, it was freezing inside. He went right to the electrical box, flipped a few switches, and the heater roared back into life. I am so glad this was not a lengthy heater repair. My pets depend on the heater for their very lives. Soon, we were soaking up the heat and back to our daily lives warm and thankful for central heating. What did people do before they had heaters?

gas heater

Birds in the ducts

Working with a home renovation contracting firm is interesting, because you see the side of people that others rarely get to see. I don’t mean a secret life lived by our clients, but I’m referring instead to how even the most germaphobic people can overlook major sources of infestations and mold in their own homes. For example, I recently was tasked with helping the firm on a renovation project at a house on the beach. The customer wanted us to redo their kitchen and expand its size, which required us to disconnect and reconnect most of the appliances during the renovation. When we arrived and began our work, we noticed that the entirety of the house was completely pristine – every surface scrubbed, every carpet free of stains. We figured, hey – we didn’t mind working in a clean house for a change! Well, we spoke too soon, as we moved each appliance and found big piles of bugs both dead and alive. That wasn’t the worst part though, as we had to create a new opening for the ductwork to account for the stove exhaust. When we began sealing the old opening in the wall, we noticed scratching noises in the ducts. When we shined our flashlights in, we saw several birds in the ductwork eating bugs all over the ducts! It was disgusting to see, and we couldn’t even understand how bugs could find their way into the space. Either way, we had to put the project on the backburner and call a clean-up team to address the pest problem.

air purifier

The furnace that caught fire

There have only been a few times in my adult life where I was genuinely afraid. When my wife had to have a c-section to deliver our first child, I was the most afraid I’d ever been. After a few other close calls where my life was in danger, there was another experience in a new home that left me sleepless for days. It happened one night when the baby had just been laid down for the evening, and my wife and I were in bed watching TV. We’d noticed over the past few days that the furnace would create this burning rubber smell for a few minutes when it first came on, but the smell would disappear. This night, the smell lingered for over ten minutes. My wife and I seemed to notice it at the same time, and I climbed out of bed to go downstairs to check out the source of the smell. When I opened the door to my basement, I felt a massive surge of adrenaline push through my body as I saw the sight below – the entire basement was on fire, and a ton of smoke came pouring out of the door! I ran faster than I’ve ever ran in my life to go upstairs, yelling for my wife to quickly run outside and call 911. As I ran to grab the baby from his nursery, I made my way downstairs and met my wife outside, who was still on the phone with emergency services. I couldn’t believe that the furnace had fallen apart like that! The fire department arrived within five minutes, and worked to put the fire out, but much of the house was destroyed. We were scared out of our wits, and couldn’t begin to think about the financial hardship that was just dropped on us, but we were glad to escape with our lives! That was several years ago now, and while we’ve since found a new home, I’m forever paranoid about making sure the furnace is in perfect working order.


Enjoying the fireplace together

My wife and I have been house hunting for several months now. There are several things that we are on the lookout for in terms of are search. We definitely want a home with plenty of space and a fenced-in backyard for our dogs. These two things are pivotal for our families comfort. My wife and I are also on the hunt for a fireplace. It’s been something we’ve wanted since our childhood as its something that you just can’t experience in your everyday life. There’s nothing quite like curling up with your partner and enjoying the fireplace together. It keeps you warm and it provides a certain ambient lighting that it can just not be provided by standard lights. It just provides a sense of comfort and enjoyment that cannot be found in almost any other situation. So if our new home has a fenced-in backyard, plenty of space and a fireplace, will be set for placing an offer.

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Sealing those holes in the ductwork

I don’t understand why my home is been getting so hot lately. We have our air conditioning on and it’s almost always on but it doesn’t seem to be getting the house in a cooler. I inspected the system and could not find any issues with it. so I was forced to call the local HVAC company to come inspect the system. Having a professional  check out the system was actually money mentally helpful as they were able to find out the issues. Apparently they were sizable holes inside of the ductwork Sealing that I was unable to notice. Luckily they were able to very simply amend the issues and completely resealed the holes for me. Within a couple of hours, the HVAC technician was able to seal up the ductwork and allow for my house to get cool again. I was very grateful as the bill was not actually all that expensive anyway. I was relieved to not need to replace the entire system as well.

duct install

HVAC system utilizing ductwork

    You know what’s miserable? Being perfectly warm until you step foot on your floors. You get off the couch, get up from dinner or get out of bed and bam. Cold floors. They say you control your body temperature through your head and your feet. So guess what? If my feet are freezing cold, my body temperature quickly follows suit. I’ve experienced it. It’s not fun. Someday, I’d love to get heated floors. It’s my dream.

           The idea behind it is genius. Not only will your floors be warm, but so will the air in the room. Heat rises, so naturally the warm air from your floors will radiate upward and heat the room. To a certain extent of course. Heated floors wouldn’t mean you get to completely eliminate your HVAC system.

           Many HVAC systems utilize ducts/vents that are located on the upper part of walls. The heat then blows into the room from the top. Because heat naturally rises, often times the ground level of the room will remain inefficiently heated.  Thus, you waste a lot of efficiency (and thus dollars) by constantly forcing hot air into that room.

           I’m no expert, but to me it seems like heated floors would be an initial expensive cost, but in the long run the comfort and efficiency it brings would be worth the spending. I wouldn’t replace my HVAC system (or furnace) with just heated floors, but I would definitely invest in doing at least some areas of my home with heated floors.


HVAC specs downloaded

Of course the HVAC system would die during a heat spell. That’s just the way it works right? The air conditioning system will work flawlessly throughout the spring and then in the dead of summer it decides to crash and burn.

I scoured the yellow pages looking for a local HVAC repair company that had the availability to send a technician out to my house. But apparently I wasn’t the only one having HVAC issues. Every company I called had a waiting list. The HVAC company with the shortest waiting list still would have me without air conditioning for four days. I didn’t have the patience to sit around in the heat waiting for that.

So I decided to tackle the job myself. As I did a little research, I found that by repairing my own HVAC system, I would probably be able to cut my repair spending in half! I googled the specs to my HVAC system and downloaded a repair tutorial online.

Within half an hour, I had a list of supplies that I’d need to make the air conditioner repairs, and within an hour I had jumped head first into the project.

Step one— turn off the HVAC system and the breakers. I switched the thermostat mode from “cool” to “off.”

Step two, step three, step four… I followed the steps for HVAC repair. At the completion of each step I hoped I was doing everything correctly and crossing my fingers that my AC unit would run again. There would be nothing more terrible than making the issue worse and thus prolonging the span of time I would be without AC! Not to mention I’d be losing money.

The last and final step— turn the breakers back on and move the thermostat switch from “off” to “cool.”

I held my breath and waited for the HVAC system to either burst into flames or to rumble to life.

It did the latter. Two hours later and the HVAC repair was complete, done by myself, at half the cost of hiring a professional, and now I was once again sitting in a well air conditioned home.

HVAC equipment

Try before you buy: A Hotel How-to.

Sometimes all you want to do is go to sleep. Maybe it’s been a long day, maybe you’ve been on the road, or in a plane, or on a train for hours, and all you want to do is slide into a clean bed and rest. Sounds simple, right? The hotel or motel staff is accommodating. They offer you a room and you accept it.  The room is clean and neat when you enter it—everything looks fine. You put down your bags, undress, maybe take a shower, and prepare yourself for what you know is going to be the best sleep you’ve ever had. And as you turn off the light in the room and sink into your bed, and as your eyes become heavy and your mind thins, all of a sudden, like a jackhammer from a construction site, you hear it. A rattling, a pinging, a constant shuddering of a window Air Conditioning unit. And then you know that you are not going to sleep anytime soon. Even if an AC repairman were to burst into your room at that very moment, tools-in-hand, and exclaim, “I have come to repair your AC unit! My sole purpose in life is to repair air conditioning systems! I am the best HVAC contractor that has ever lived!” it would still not help the situation. You know that’s not going to happen, and you know that an AC repair service will not be able to fix it – this is how your night is going to go. A loud air conditioner, a broken air conditioner, a useless air conditioner. Call it what you will, sleep, unfortunately, will not be on the docket. There’s no turning back now.

a/c dealership

I am totally jealous of my brother’s radiant heating system

I recently had some major problems with the furnace installed in my home.  The heating system was extremely old, inefficient, and a threat to my family’s health and safety.  The duct system was poorly designed, full of holes, and clogged with mold and bacteria. Unfortunately, the entire system malfunctioned during the middle of January.  I hired an HVAC professional for inspection and repair, and he informed me of the extent of the issues. He recommended that the entire system be torn out and upgraded.  Since I really didn’t want to invest a whole bunch of money into the repair of an outdated heating system, I agreed. With outside temperatures in the low twenties, we couldn’t remain in the house without heat.  We ended up moving in with my older brother for several weeks. My brother’s house is equipped with a radiant heating system that is absolutely amazing. Because of the heated floors, his house is the ideal temperature, no matter how cold it is outside.  There are no drafts, no cold spots, and no operational noises. The radiant system delivers heat without making a sound. There is no rattle of ductwork, whoosh of air from the vents, or annoying startup or shutdown noises. Plus, the radiant system is far cleaner than my forced air furnace.  The furnace uses air as a heat transmitter, and that air passes through the duct system and then gets blown into the rooms from the vents. It distributes dust, odors and germs all through the house. Since the radiant system doesn’t introduce air and creates only imperceptible air circulations, it promotes far superior indoor air quality.  I am now totally jealous of my brother’s heating system.

heated floors