Saturday, October 23, 2010

Fall HVAC Check

Well everybody, fall is here. The leaves are turning, the air is dryer, and the NC State Fair is almost over. Where does time go? It is also that time of the year where we start thinking about turning our heat on for those cool nights, and that means that we need to think about having our heating system checked by a licensed heating and air contractor. In this edition, we will go over several suggestions to prepare you for the upcoming cold weather.

First, for the gas heating systems, I would especially recommend this evaluation. The most important reason would be to insure that there are no cracks in the heat exchanger. Cracks in the heat exchanger lead to carbon monoxide (CO) entering into the home through your HVAC system. (If you have any gas appliances in your home, install a CO detector.)

Second, for heat pump systems, you want to make sure the heat pump has the proper amount of refrigerant in the system so the unit will heat adequately. You want to avoid the auxiliary heat strips from coming on whenever possible. When the auxiliary heat strips activate, the amount of electricity greatly increases. When the thermostat is raised 3+ degrees, the auxiliary strips turn on to supplement the system until the desired temperature is reached. It is recommend that when the thermostat is in the heat setting, a comfortable temperature be found and then set and left at that temperature. This will be the best way to save your electric heating cost.

Third, an evaluation will ensure that your system is operating properly and as efficient as it can. If a problem is found during the evaluation of your system, it is usually cheaper to repair now than in a month or so when the busy repair season hits, not to mention the wait time.
Lastly, remember to change your filters as needed to keep the system clean and operating properly. On the note of cleanliness, the first time the heating system is turned on after a long spring and summer, there may be a burning odor. This is the smell of dust and other particulates burning off of the heat chambers or auxiliary heat strips. But, if you feel that the odor is not normal or you see smoke, turn the heat off and call a licensed heating and air contractor or the fire department (911).

Well, this should get you started in the right direction.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Every year, people start getting spring fever and decide, its time to spruce up the lawn. This ambition probably has several driving forces behind it.
1. Its spring, that’s just what you are supposed to do.
2. I don’t want to get a nasty note from the HOA.
3. I want to get the “Yard of the Month” before the neighbors do.
This post is for all you aggressive mulch slingers out there; lets pull it back a bit. I love mulch as much as the next guy, but I am careful about where I put it in relation to the home. I try to not put mulch directly against the home for a couple of reasons. First, when mulch is directly against the home, it is an open invitation for pest (termites, ants, etc.) to make their way into the home’s wall cavity and/or interior. I know these pest can make there way in that home if they so desire, but why should we make it easier for them? Second, much has a tendency to hold moisture more that other forms of landscaping. Over a period of time moisture against a foundation wall will lead to other problems to the home’s structure.
If you do decide to place mulch around the home; I recommend you that leave a healthy space (approximately 6” or more) between the top of the mulch and the bottom of the exterior siding. For homes with a masonry (brick, stone, etc.) exterior cladding, use you best judgment to have that space below bottom of the floor structure. This space is to allow visual inspection of pest tubes, assist in the prevention of moisture wicking into the wooden floor and wall structure, and observation and prevention of other foundation issues.
Even though its June, a couple months past the spring fever, it is never too late to help out your home and pull the mulch back a bit.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Hello all,
I am creating this blog so I may offer some home maintenance and upgrade ideas. These ideas are gathered through years of construction based work, observations through the fire service and personal experiences. More than likely, every month will feature a system or area of the home to be discussed. Hopefully people will find this blog helpful and entertaining. This is my first blog, so bare with me.