Air Mechanical, Inc. Blog: Posts Tagged ‘Champlin’

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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A Contractor Tip: HVAC Maintenance the Whole Family Should Know

Monday, December 5th, 2011

If you think the most important thing a heating and cooling (HVAC) system can do in your Champlin home is to provide indoor comfort, you are right. But there is another thing an HVAC system does that is very important and it affects your entire family. It provides a safe indoor environment, too.

Besides warmth in the winter, a finely-tuned HVAC system can clean and filter the air you breathe. That’s important to people who suffer from allergies and is especially important for minimizing the spread of germs that cause colds and the flu. The key phrase in this paragraph is finely-tuned. If your HVAC system is not working correctly – out of tune – it can cost you a great deal in monthly utility bills and can be harmful to your health.

It is important for you and your family members to understand the basics of HVAC system maintenance so you can all understand the symptoms of improper maintenance and its consequences. For example, if anyone in your home is suffering from flu-like symptoms or are constantly drowsy or listless, they may be suffering from the a silent killer: poisonous carbon monoxide gas. This gas is formed during incomplete combustion of fossil oils like natural or propane gas. A malfunctioning furnace can emit carbon monoxide gases and you may never even realize it, until it is too late. Long-term exposure to the gas can cause brain damage and/or chronic sleepiness. It some cases, it can even cause death.

You may be able to diagnose the problem, but you aren’t qualified to test and repair a furnace that is creating deadly carbon monoxide gas. Your best bet is to call a qualified HVAC contractor who can diagnose the furnace and offer repair or replacement suggestions. But there are things you can do to prevent the build-up of carbon monoxide gas.

Check all exhaust vents, like chimneys and flues for any blockages. A blocked or partially blocked vent can cause the build-up of carbon monoxide gas. And never, EVER, use a gas or propane powered heater in an unvented area of your home. These types of heaters create various levels of carbon monoxide gas that needs to be circulated out of each room and replaced with clean, fresh air. So, your family can actively ensure that there is no debris, bird’s nests, animals, leaves, or snow in the ventilation system.

You can also “help” your HVAC system by keeping vents clean by vacuuming dirty vent grilles and, in general, keeping the home clean. The cleaner the home, the easier it is for your furnace to do its job and the easier it will be for you and your family will breathe.

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How a Furnace Works: A Guide from Champlin

Friday, November 11th, 2011

Do you know how your furnace works? Believe it or not, lots of Champlin homeowners probably can’t explain the operation of furnace. It probably isn’t at the top of your “to do” list. It’s only important to know that once you set your thermostat to a desired temperature, the furnace comes on and warms the house.

The most common furnace is fueled by natural gas but there are other examples of heating equipment such as boilers, electric baseboard, or geothermal. But let’s look at how a gas furnace works since natural gas is found in most U.S. households. Gas furnaces use natural gas or propane to provide energy used for generating heat.

When the temperature in your home falls below the level set on the thermostat, an electric pilot light automatically ignites to heat a burner inside the furnace. This burner uses gas to generate heat within a combustion chamber inside the furnace. After the furnace senses that the thermostat has triggered the flame and that it is properly lit, the actual spark (or ignitor) is turned off.

Simultaneously, a motor in the furnace pulls in air from an exchange or return, which could be a grill in the floor, ceiling, or wall of a house. That air flows through ducts into the plenum of the furnace. The plenum is on the opposite side of the heat exchanger from the burner.

Gas will typically burn for at least two minutes before the blower starts to disperse heat throughout your home. This extra time gives the air an adequate period of time to warm up and also so that cold air won’t be pushed through the vents into the rooms in your house at the start. After either the preset time (roughly two minutes) or pre-established temperature is reached, the blower’s motor is turned on and it blows air over the heat exchanger, which usually consists of a series of copper tubes or pipes. When a fan blows air onto the heat exchanger, the air is heated. This heated air is then blown through a series of ducts to heat your home via vents in the floor, walls or ceiling. Exhaust fumes from the combustion process exit the furnace through a gas flue or chimney.

Just as the heat in your home turns on when a certain temperature is reached, it also turns off after the rooms are warm enough, thanks to your thermostat. The thermostat again senses the temperature in the room. When the room warms up to the temperature set by you at the thermostat, the gas valve is switched off, stopping the flow of gas. After the gas is turned off, the blower motor will still run for a few minutes, allowing the heat exchanger to cool off a bit. In some furnaces, the blower motor never shuts off, but operates at low speed to keep air circulating throughout your home.

In a nutshell, your thermostat is the brain in your heating system and your furnace is the brawn, doing most of the work.

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Heat Pumps and Zone Control Systems: A Guide from Champlin

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

When you’re putting a heat pump in your Champlin home, it may also be a great time to look into having a zone control system put in as well. These types of systems can do a lot to both lower your energy bills and make your home as comfortable as possible throughout the year.

Zone control systems actually allow you to set different temperatures in different parts of your home. They use a system of dampers to direct more heat to certain areas and less to others. For instance, you may like to keep the living room nice and cozy in the winter because you’re typically just lounging around when you’re in there.

When you’re working in the kitchen, on the other hand, you’re usually generating some heat yourself from the stove and oven, so you don’t need to keep the temperature quite as high as it is in other parts of the house in order for the kitchen to remain comfortable. Of course, in the summer, these situations are likely reversed, and a zone control system will allow you to adjust accordingly.

Having the type of refined temperature control that zone control systems provide can be beneficial on several levels. It certainly helps make your home more comfortable, but it can also make it easier to reduce some of your home heating and cooling costs because you don’t have to heat or cool your whole house to keep it that way.

Zone control systems can also be a great way to end those constant thermostat battles that tend to erupt from when certain members of the household prefer one temperature, while the rest of the people in the house are more comfortable with another.

If you’re thinking of integrating a zone control system with your heat pump, you should make sure that the heat pump you get is as compatible as possible with this type of system. Most heat pumps will, in fact, work with zone control systems, but certain types are better than others.

The most important thing to look at when you’re trying to find the best heat pump to fit with a zone control system is the type of compressor the unit has. Heat pumps are available with one-speed, two-speed and multi-speed compressors and this affects how well they work at part of a zone control system. For best results, it’s good to opt for a two-speed or multi-speed compressor when you’re installing a zone control system as well.

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The Facts about Indoor Air Quality

Friday, July 1st, 2011

One of the least understood aspects of your home’s comfort system is the indoor air quality. Most people assume that once they have a good furnace and air conditioner installed, there’s nothing left to worry about. However, with the push in the last 20 years to reduce energy loss through poor insulation, most homes are sealed up tighter than ever before. This doesn’t just cause stuffy indoor air – it can actually lead to illness.

How Bad Can Indoor Air Quality Get?

Homes built in the 1980s were recommended to have one third of the ventilation of those built before. Today, the standards have returned to their original levels, but for many years, homes were built with poor ventilation and excessive insulation. The result is a space that holds the air in too well. Everyday contaminants and allergens like dust, pollen, pet dander, mold, or smoke cannot get out of your home and as a result, you can get sick.

In fact, some people even suffer from Sick Building Syndrome (SBS). This is when they feel ill constantly, with respiratory symptoms that have no root cause and are hard to diagnose. Often, it is because they simply breathe too many contaminants and too much stale air.

Fixing Air Quality Is Simple

The first thing needed to fix air quality is a good filtration system. Despite what many people think, simple filtration is not that expensive. There are big, powerful purification systems with advanced ionization units and UV lighting to kill bacteria and viruses, but most families are served well with a simple HEPA filter to remove things like dust, pollen and dander.

It’s a good idea to have your indoor air quality tested, however, just to make sure other contaminants are not present. High humidity can lead to mold growth, and poor ventilation can lead to exhaust or gas fumes in your home. A good carbon monoxide detector is recommended for the latter, but testing should be done to make sure nothing else is floating around.

Finally, make sure your home is properly ventilated. Standard ventilation tends to leak heated or cooled air outside, so many homeowners now opt for energy recovery ventilators. These systems have heat exchangers that transfer warm air between indoor and outdoor air.

However you want to fix your indoor air quality issues, know that there are plenty of things you can do with the help of a good filtration device and regular cleanings of your ductwork and vents.

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