Air Mechanical, Inc. Blog: Posts Tagged ‘Apple Valley’

Can You Benefit from Zone Heating in Apple Valley?

Monday, November 17th, 2014

Have you ever had a disagreement with a family member about the temperature in the home? Many people have individual temperature preferences that lead to arguments in the house about whether it is kept too cold or too hot. But you can keep from ever hearing an argument about the temperature again by installing zone control.

A zone control system is installed as a set of dampers in the ductwork that open and close to let more or less airflow in and adjust the temperature in a given room. Each room has a thermostat that controls only the damper in the duct that leads to that room, and there is also a master thermostat that controls all of the areas of the house. This means your family members can choose to keep a room warmer or colder according to their preferences. There are many other benefits to zone heating, detailed here.

Even Temperatures throughout the Home

One of the ways zone heating helps homeowners is by keeping temperatures even throughout the house. In large houses or homes with unique architectural designs, one area of the home often feels warmer than the others. Heat rises, so it may be that the upstairs areas are typically warmer, or it could be that a large window in a single room keeps it cooler. In any case, zone heating can help keep temperatures even no matter where you are in the home since you can adjust that zone separately from the others.

Save Money

Another way zone heating benefits you is by saving you money. For one, you won’t feel the need to blast the heat throughout the home just to make the downstairs feel as warm as the second floor. Additionally, you can save money by turning off the heat to unoccupied areas of the home. If you don’t use the upstairs rooms throughout the day, try shutting off the heat in that area only. And in the summer, you can continue to save money by using the same set of dampers and thermostats for zone cooling as well!

Are you interested in a zone heating system for your home? Call Air Mechanical, Inc. to ask how you can get zone heating in Apple Valley today!

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Do Low-Flow Toilets Work for Apple Valley Homes?

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

Low flush toilets have been available in Apple Valley since 1994 and are highly recommended both by the government and multiple green organizations to help reduce the water used by your bathroom plumbing. But, the big question you probably have is whether these highly popular alternatives to regular toilets in fact work.

The Numbers

To start with, low flush toilets use less than half as much water to flush as a normal toilet. The average standard toilet uses 3.5 gallons per flush, while a low flush toilet uses only 1.6 gallons per flush. Some new toilets even use less – with the new High Efficiency Toilet (HET) standards setting the maximum flush capacity at 1.3 gpf.

While those toilets did not always perform to optimal standards when they were first released 17 years ago, they have come a long way and now operate almost identically to standard toilets. In fact, most public and restaurant restrooms built in the last 15 years now use these types of toilets instead to save money.

Choosing a Model that Will Work

There are a number of ways to measure different toilets. Just like almost any fixture, the manufacturer, design, and construction of a low flush toilet will determine how well it works. So, while for the most part low flush toilets work like normal toilets, you should take some things into consideration.

To start with, you must choose between either a siphonic or wash-down style toilet. The siphonic toilet uses much more water in the bowl, but as a result has a lot higher chance of clogging. The wash down method uses far less water in the bowl and does not clog as much, but the result is a somewhat tougher to clean interior of the toilet.

Pricing

The lowest prices may not represent the best low flush toilets on the market, but neither do the highest prices. Look for mid-range prices from competitive manufacturers. For less than $300, you can often buy a solid low flush toilet that will not clog any more often than a standard toilet and will save a tremendous amount of water and energy each year by reducing the amount of water flushed.

Low flush toilets are effective, inexpensive and largely popular for a good reason – they work. So, if you are remodelling a bathroom or simply want to make a change to the toilet you currently have, consider this plumbing installation to take advantage of green energy technology that is freely available for your bathroom.  Contact Air Mechanical for any questions about low-flow toilets, and installation rates.

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Signs that You Have Hard Water in Apple Valley

Monday, December 26th, 2011

Hard water is fairly common, especially in certain regions of the country. It is called hard water because of the minerals in it, such as calcium, iron and lime. Depending on how “hard” the water is, it’s usually perfectly healthy, but can cause some other problems throughout your Apple Valley home.

Hard water can negatively affect the durability of household appliances like dishwashers and washing machines, as well as pipes and fixtures throughout the home. How do you know if you have hard water? Here are some common signs and symptoms to be on the lookout for:

  1. A white, scaly, filmy residue left behind on plumbing fixtures. In particular, you may notice these on showerheads, on stainless fixtures like the basin of your kitchen sink, on your silverware or in the coffee pot.
  2. Clothes that are not getting as clean as they should in the laundry. This is because hard water is less effective at washing away dirt. Likewise, you may notice soap scum residue in your tub or shower.
  3. Little or no lather from shampoo or soap while showering.
  4. A reddish tinge to hair over time. This is due to iron in the water that can temporarily change hair color in the shower.
  5. Water takes a long time to heat, or heating costs that are higher than usual. This is because hard water requires more heat than water with fewer minerals in it.
  6. A foul odor emanating from your water.

If you notice any of these signs, or a combination of them, you may have hard water. There are certain things you can do to control the effects of hard water, such as using a commercial mineral remover to dissolve deposits left on showerheads and other fixtures. Vinegar also works well.

However, the best thing to do is to treat hard water so that it does not damage your plumbing system. A licensed Apple Valley plumber can help you do this by adding water softener to your water supply, among other treatments. These are things that need to be done on an ongoing basis, but will help extend the life of your expensive appliances and plumbing system.

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Detecting Leaks with Your Water Meter: A Tip from Vadnais Heights

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

When you notice a leak, you fix it right away, but what happens when you don’t notice a leak for days or even weeks? The damage it causes can have a profound impact on your water bill and the good repair of your Vadnais Heights home. To avoid hidden leaks – the ones that hide in your walls or your yard, keep a close eye on your water meter.

The Hidden Leaks

Obvious leaks are…well, they’re obvious. They pour water down the walls, leave puddles in your bathroom or create ponds in your backyard. Unfortunately, the majority of leaks are much less obvious. They result from small drips between pipe joints in your walls or a hairline fracture in your water main or drain pipes. They may not even appear where you can see them.

If this happens, it’s important to have a keen eye for the signs that a water leak has occurred. Specifically, look for jumps in your water meter readings.

Watching the Water Meter

Your water meter tracks every drop of water consumed by your family. To check for water loss, record the reading at the same time every day and watch how it changes. To be sure of a leak, you can turn off all the fixtures in your home and watch for the meter to move. If the meter moves despite the fact that no one in your home is consuming any water, it is likely a leak.

You can also compare your bills from one month to the next. If your bill rises suddenly, without any clear reason, check the meter readings and the rates. If the meter reading increased suddenly and the water rate did not, there might be a leak to blame. If that’s the case, call a Vadnais Heights professional to inspect your water lines immediately – what is hidden to you might be a relatively obvious, straightforward repair to someone else.

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What Is Forced Air Heating? A Question From Apple Valley

Friday, October 14th, 2011

Chances are that you’ve heard the term forced air heating before, particularly if you’re in the market for a new home heating system in Apple Valley. But what does that actually mean? The truth is that if you’re asking this question, you’re not alone. There are so many types of home heating systems out there that it’s common to be a bit confused and overwhelmed by it all.

The truth is that a forced air heating system is simply a heating system that distributes heat throughout your house using air to carry it. In this type of system, heated air travels through a system of ducts and is expelled through vents into the different rooms and areas of your home in order to maintain a particular temperature. That temperature, of course, is whatever you set your thermostat to, and when the desired temperature is reached, the heat will shut off until the temperature drops down again.

The main difference between the different types of forced air heating systems is the type of equipment that heats the air. For instance, you could have a furnace or a heat pump. All of these are capable of heating air, and when paired with a fan, blower or air handler, can distribute heated air throughout your home.

Many forced air heating systems are remarkably energy efficient and can effectively keep you home comfortable all winter long. Additionally, they are generally made to be incorporated with central air conditioning systems for year round temperature control. Heat pumps are especially convenient in this way, as they’re able to both heat and cool your home depending on the season and your home comfort needs.

Particularly if you already have ductwork in place or if you’re choosing a heating system for a new construction home, it can make a lot of sense to opt for some type of forced air heating. However, if you’re looking to replace an existing heating system in a house that doesn’t already have ductwork in place, the need to put it in can add a lot to the overall installation costs of the system.

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What to Look for when a Home is 100 Years Old

Friday, July 29th, 2011

Many people like older homes, but at a certain point, the age of a home can be a bit of a turnoff. It’s not the architecture – old homes are magnificently built and tend to have more character in the woodwork and nooks and crannies than any new home. But, when you move beyond how impressive early 20th century (or earlier) architecture is, you might find a number of maintenance and upkeep issues that have only been made worse by the passage of time.

Common Problems to Watch For

As with a 50 year old home, materials are a big issue. You need to have your home tested for lead paint and asbestos – both things that can be incredibly dangerous for every resident, especially children. These are very likely to be a part of the home if it hasn’t been remodeled in the last 30 years. Retrofitting to cover them up or remove them will be an added expense.

Additionally, older homes have much greater ratios of ventilation. If insulation has not been added in the last 25 years to cover those vents and gaps, your home will be very drafty, which is uncomfortable in the winter and costly year round. Make sure to have your home pressure tested and sealed up as soon as possible.

Upgrades You Can Make

Electricity is another major issue in older homes. While most old homes have been owned multiple times and likely upgraded since they were built, occasionally you will run across a house with extremely old wiring. That might mean a low capacity panel box or single strand wiring. Either way, it’s unsafe and unstable – for modern appliances and electronics you’ll need to upgrade that wiring as soon as possible.

The same may be true for your plumbing. If the house has original plumbing and fixtures, not only will they be inefficient, they may be rusty or prone to leakage. Sewer lines in particular are expensive replacements if they decide to break. Make sure you have these thoroughly inspected before a purchase.

The Joy of an Older Home

Despite all of the potential problems an old home might offer, there are plenty of benefits. Established neighborhoods, solid construction, and the ability to alter your home however you want are all positives you can’t overlook when buying a home. Just make sure you’re fully aware of what you’re getting into. Even a well maintained old home may have some issues that you miss on your initial walkthrough – make sure your inspector is thorough.

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IAQ – Filters

Monday, July 25th, 2011

Installing air filters in your home is a great way to make sure the air your family breathes every day is safe and free of contaminants. But you shouldn’t just go out and buy the first air filter you see. When it comes to quality air filtration, HEPA filters are the industry leaders, and for good reason. They can remove up to 99.97% of indoor air contaminants that measure 0.3 microns or larger, a phenomenal success rate unmatched by any other filters on the market.

Proper HEPA Filter Practices

To be effective, even HEPA filters need to be installed and maintained properly. Consulting with an HVAC professional is the best way to ensure that the air filtration system you get is completely compatible with your home heating and cooling system. The filter must also be installed in the appropriate place so it can catch the most contaminants. Especially if you have a forced air heating and cooling system, there are a lot of potential locations for your filters. A good HVAC professional can help you determine which spots will serve you best.

Changing Your HEPA Filters

Once your filtration system is in place, you should maintain it properly so it continues to catch and remove all those unwanted particles from your indoor air. Keeping up with the proper filter changing schedule is a big part of this. Every HEPA filter comes with manufacturer’s recommendations on how often the filter needs to be changed. Prefilters often need to be changed more often, sometimes even once every 90 days, so you should find out if your system has one of these as well.

Many HEPA filters only need to be changed once every year or two, but the conditions in your home can make it necessary to change them more often. For example, if your home has a lot of dust or other specific air contaminants, you may need to change your HEPA filter as often as once a year.

Both HEPA filters and prefilters are quite easy to remove and replace. If you’re not sure how to do it, have your technician show you the next time they come out for a routine maintenance visit or when they put install the system. As long as you replace your filters regularly, you should have no trouble maintaining high indoor air quality with a HEPA air filtration system.

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Worst Rooms in Your Home to Collect Allergens

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

Your home is a haven for allergens, but some rooms in particular are much worse than others. They are damp. They are warm. They often have garbage in them. These are the rooms that need especially close attention when trying to maintain air quality in your home.

Basement

First on the list is your basement. A basement is the biggest problem when it’s either unfinished or not used very often. If you have water leaks in your basement or poor insulation, it’s important to have a moisture barrier put in and have your pipes checked. If the water comes from a drainage pipe or your sewer line, repairs can be made. If it comes from excess ground water or leaks in the foundation, a sump pump or drain tile system will help remove the excess water. Either way, the wetter your basement gets, the higher the risk of mold and other contaminants becomes.

Beyond moisture, a basement tends to collect a lot of dust. After all, it is where we put many of our old and unwanted possessions, and because the furnace is often in your basement, all that damp, allergen filled air gets cycled back into your home.

Bathroom

Bathrooms are allergen havens for two reasons. They are filled with moisture, and without proper ventilation they will soon be filled with mold and mildew. Additionally, when not cleaned regularly they can house buildups of hair, skin, and other dust building residue that tend to trigger allergies.

The easiest way to handle this problem is to clean your bathroom regularly and make sure it is properly ventilated. Short of an exhaust fan in your bathroom, keep the door and windows open to help it dry faster.

Kitchen

Your kitchen produces allergens like mold and mildew due to the presence of garbage and fruit. It can also attract bugs and the dirt that accrues from people passing through constantly. Pets tend to eat in the kitchen, leaving behind dander. Additionally, plants and vegetables in the kitchen release pollen that circulates through your home to trigger additional allergies. Exhaust from cooking and smoke can also be a harmful allergen trigger.

The kitchen should be kept well ventilated and clean at all times. Check for any gaps in your insulation and have your exhaust fan and hood cleaned regularly to avoid backups of smoke or gas.

Allergens are everywhere in your home – with careful attention, however, you can stop them from affecting your family negatively.

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Water Filtering Faucets

Monday, June 13th, 2011

The last thing you want is to be drinking or cooking with contaminated water. Of course, you can always opt for a full house water filtration system, but these are often expensive to install and maintain. If you are not prepared to make this kind of investment, you may want to consider purchasing a water filtering faucet instead.

Unlike large point of entry water filtration systems, a water filtering faucet treats the water at one particular sink or other outlet. These types of faucets typically employ carbon filters that effectively remove many gasses and particles suspended in the water as it moves through the filter.

Just like any other type of water filtration system, there are various types of water filtering faucets and they are not all equally effective at removing contaminants. Before you purchase anything like this, however, you should make sure you know exactly what contaminants are present in your water. This is the only way to ensure that you purchase a product designed to treat exactly the problem that you have.

If you do decide to go with a water filtering faucet, make sure you know how often to replace the filters inside it and what type of replacements to get. Your water filter will only work properly when it is correctly maintained, and there is no point in using it if you have not been able to keep up with proper filter maintenance and replacement.

Another nice feature of water filtering faucets is that you can usually switch them on and off. When you need water for cooking or drinking, you can send it through the filter, and when you are using water for other things, you do not need to use the filter at all. This can cause the filter to last longer and it is also more convenient on models that have a reduced water pressure when the filter is employed.

You may initially balk at the cost of a water filtering faucet, preferring to purchase bottled water for drinking instead. But you have to take into account the fact that once you purchase a water filtering faucet, you will not have to spend the money on bottled drinking water any more. This will translate into a significant savings over time, making the initial investment well worth it in the end.

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