Air Mechanical, Inc Blog : Posts Tagged ‘Hennepin County’

Geothermal Installation Steps for Andover Homes

Monday, May 21st, 2012

If you are interested in a geothermal installation for an Andover home, you are in the right place. If you are looking for natural a way to heat your home with the natural energy of the Earth, you have found the right heating strategy.

You probably have a lot of questions, not the least of which have to do with the installation process. You may assume that it is complicated, but in most cases it is quite simple. Here is a simple summary of the steps involved in installing a geothermal system:

  1. The very first step, before any kind of installation can even be planned, is to evaluate the ground on which your home sits to be sure it can support a geothermal system. The area must be evaluated for soil and rock composition, availability of ground and surface water and availability of land.
  2. Once you have determined that your yard can handle a geothermal system, it is time to choose the type of system you need. This depends a lot on the evaluation from step 1, as well as some other factors. For one example, if you have very little land available, you may need to opt for a vertical loop configuration. For another, if you are fortunate enough to have a small body of water on your property, you can take advantage of a pond loop installation.
  3. Your contractor will dig and/or drill trenches for placement of the geothermal pipes. Try not to be nervous. This only takes a couple of days and they will disrupt your yard as little as possible.
  4. With the trenches prepared, pipes can be placed in accordance with the configuration you chose.
  5. Your contractor will fill the trenches back in to cover the pipes loosely. You may want to work with a landscaper to fully “re-assemble” your yard where the pipes were installed.
  6. Finally, the installation team will hook up the geothermal system to your home, make any necessary final adjustments, and you are good to go!

If you’re interested in geothermal heating for your home, consider contacting Air Mechanical Inc today to discuss the installation process for your home.

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Ways You Can Help Maintain the Sewer Lines for Your Ham Lake Home

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Pipe and sewer maintenance is an important part of being a Ham Lake homeowner. Even the simplest preventative plumbing maintenance tasks could save you a lot of money and hassle. It’s also important to schedule routine check-ups with Air Mechanical for complete preventative maintenance.

Clogged Toilets

A consistently clogged toilet could indicate a larger plumbing issue, such as a blockage in the main line, but you can usually prevent these clogs with a little extra effort. Never flush anything that could get trapped in your sewer lines, such as feminine products, paper towels, or cat litter. This is especially important for TOWN NAME homes with older plumbing systems. You can usually take care of most clogs with a plunger, but you should call a professional plumber if you continue to experience problems.

Kitchen and Bathroom Drains

Kitchen sinks without garbage disposals are much more susceptible to clogs since food waste can easily get washed down the drain. Mesh drain covers are the most effective at making sure food particles do not get trapped in the pipes. Coffee grounds are another common cause for clogged drains, so try to compost them instead of washing them down the drain.

If you have a disposal, make sure you don’t put pieces of food too large for the grinder or anything with a tough skin, such as carrots or potatoes. When food isn’t processed completely through the disposer, they get trapped in the pipes and can cause slower drains. Eggshells can help clean out any food waste that gets stuck on the interior walls, so don’t be afraid to put them in your garbage disposer.

Avoid washing grease down any kitchen drain, and try to use more natural cleaning products instead of harsh chemicals. The same applies to bathroom drains, since some cleaners can actually cause corrosion on soft metal pipes. For that same reason, avoid using drain cleaning products, such as Drain-O, for clogged drains. Use a plunger instead, and clean out your sink drains regularly to prevent further clogs.

Place hair catchers in your bathroom drains, especially in the shower. Loose hair is one of the most common causes of slow or clogged bathroom drains. Baking soda and vinegar will also help break down blockages and reduce bad odors. Make sure you let it sit for at least an hour and then pour boiling water down the drain to help clean it out.

Professional Sewer Maintenance

No matter how well you maintain your toilets and drains, you should have a professional plumber check your pipes at least once a year. Plumbers have equipment specially designed to inspect and clean your sewer lines, as well as assess any damage to your sewer lines and recommend a course of action. If you experience frequent clogs, or notice your water draining more slowly than usual, call a licensed plumbing contractor as soon as possible.

No matter what kind of plumbing issue you may have with your Ham Lake home, call Air Mechanical  for any plumbing repairs and yearly inspections.

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Common Heat Pump Problems in Burnsville

Friday, February 10th, 2012

Heat pumps are great pieces of machinery, but they don’t always work perfectly in Burnsville. They come with their own problems and issues. Usually these can be fixed with a little heating maintenance, but it’s good to know what you are looking for.

Below are some common problems encountered by heat pump owners, along with some brief troubleshooting and repair advice. However, for any serious repair job, it is recommended that you call in a professional to fix the problem. This is to ensure the best performance of your heat pump, as well as for your own safety.

1.     No Heat – Obviously, this is a problem. A heat pump should do two things—heat and cool. If it’s not heating at all, something is wrong. Sometimes, this is just a matter of the power supply being interrupted. Press the “Reset” button on the power supply. If that does not fix it, it could be that the power supply has failed or the motor is overloaded.
2.     Incorrect Temperature – For example, you set the thermostat at 72 degrees, but even after several hours, the temperature won’t get over 70 degrees. This can be a problem with the sensor in the thermostat or with the heat pump itself. However, it could also just be the result of very cold temperatures outside. Heat pumps have trouble keeping up when the weather is consistently below 30 degrees Fahrenheit or so, so it may just need help in the form of a supplemental heat supply.
3.     It’s Noisy – Heat pumps are generally designed to run very quietly, so if you notice a lot of noise, there is probably something going on. Common culprits for this type of issue include loose connections, like screws, nuts and bolts. Check for any loose fittings on the heat pump. Also, make sure the contractor who does your annual heat pump inspection tightens these fittings as part of his maintenance routine.
4.     Frozen – This can be indicative of a few underlying problems, but the most common is dirt in the air filter. When filters get clogged, the heat pump can get frosted, ultimately leading to freezing. Check the air filter and make sure to change all air filters regularly.

Heat pumps can experience other issues, but these are some of the more common ones. Generally, though, heat pumps are pretty headache-free machines. Be sure to call Air Mechanical if you experience any issues with your heat pump.

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HVAC Contractor Tip: 5 Reasons to Replace Your Furnace

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Many Blaine homes are heated with furnaces, since they generally provide safe and efficient heat.  Furnaces have also improved dramatically over the years as manufacturers find ways to make them more efficient. Even if your furnace has been reliable for many years, it may be worth the money to replace your old furnace with a newer, more efficient model.

Here are five major benefits to upgrading your furnace.

1. Lowering Your Utility Bills

Whether you realize it or not, your current furnace could be costing you more than it should in heating bills. If your furnace is 15-20 years old, it’s probably not heating your home as efficiently as the newer models with higher AFUE ratings. Even if your heating system has been replaced within the last ten years, the technology has advanced enough to consider an upgrade.

2. Fewer Repairs

Repair costs can add up if you are constantly repairing your furnace. Routine maintenance for your furnace can help reduce the need for repairs, but as furnaces age, they tend to need more repairs and replacement parts. If you need frequent repairs for your furnace, it may be time to replace it with a newer one.

3. More Consistent Heat

While maintaining consistent temperatures throughout your home involves several factors, such as insulation and thermostat control, your furnace could also be the reason you aren’t getting enough heat to all parts of the house. If some rooms are colder than others, or if your heating bills have recently gone up, it may be time for a furnace replacement.

4. Reduce the Chances of a Breakdown

When a furnace breaks down, it not only leaves you without heat, but it is also a major expense. Budgeting for a new furnace before it breaks down will put less financial burden on you than needing an emergency furnace replacement. Newer model furnaces are also more reliable and less likely to give you problems if maintained properly.

5. Safety

There’s higher potential for safety concerns with older or poorly maintained furnaces. In addition to fire hazards, carbon monoxide poisoning is another serious threat. When the heat exchanger stops working because it’s corroded or faulty, carbon monoxide can leak into the home. If you’ve had your furnace for more than 20 years, it could create safety hazards that you may be unaware of.

No matter how long you’ve had the furnace in your home, it’s always wise to speak with a qualified Blaine HVAC technician about furnace upgrades, particularly if you have expensive heating costs. Call Air Mechanical today to talk with one of our heating experts about furnace upgrades.

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Plumbing Tip: How to Use a Plumber’s Snake

Friday, January 6th, 2012

Your Cambridge home’s kitchen sink is backed up and you can’t prepare dinner. Or your toilet is plugged and even the plunger isn’t fixing the problem. It may be time to call for the snake – plumber’s snake that is.

For those of you who are intimidated by tools, take note: you have nothing to fear from the snake. It is easy to operate and is an effective alternative to plumbing repairs.

Okay, so you’ve decided to use a snake to unclog your pipe. Do you have one? If you rarely use a snake in your home you might want to consider renting one. Most tool rental shops have snakes in varying sizes for rent – from hand-held to electric. But it is a good idea to have one around for emergencies and you can find hand-held snakes for under $10 (often named “augers”).

The first thing you need to do is prep for the job. Make sure you have cleared out an area to work on the plumbing and that you have plenty of rags to mop up any spills or drips. It is a good idea to lay down some newspaper or plastic to keep the floor and cabinets dry, too.

Make sure you have access to the pipe by removing any drain covering. Obviously you will have directly access to the toilet drain. Before operating the snake you should put on a pair of rubber gloves to protect your hands from the metal coils of the snake and any debris that might be in the pipe.

Next, slowly feed the snake into the pipe. You may have to turn the snake in a clockwise direction to move it along. Once you have reached the clog – and you can usually tell when the snake stops feeding – it is time to rotate the snake into the clog and loosen it up. The head or tip of snake should be able to grab on the debris so that you can pull it back out and dispose of it. In the process, some of the debris may wash away down the pipe and that’s okay (well, as long as it doesn’t accumulate further down the circuit). You really want to use the snake head to “chew up” the debris for removal, rather than just pushing it further down the pipe.

Once you have removed the debris clogging the pipe, run hot water down the pipes to wash away any remnants. Replace the drain cover if necessary and clean up your mess. Voila!

If you have a stubborn clog that won’t snake out or if you just aren’t comfortable using a tool, call a Cambridge plumber to save you the effort.

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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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Water and Energy Saving Tips from Lakeville

Monday, November 21st, 2011

The cost of the heat, air conditioning and water supply to your Lakeville home continues to rise – it’s no wonder you want to cut your bills so much. But, how can you do that without cutting into the creature comforts and conveniences you’ve gotten used to over the course of the last few decades? Here are a few simple energy and water saving tips to make your life easier.

  • Patching Leaks – Two of the biggest wasters of water are dripping faucets and leaky pipes. The amount of water wasted by a single drip every second could provide for multiple baths per year – it adds up fast. Not only are leaky faucets and pipes easy to fix; they tend to develop into bigger problems as time passes.
  • Drains and Flushing – If you put a piece of toilet paper in the toilet used to clean an eye or wipe the counter, don’t flush. It’s a waste of water. If you notice some extra toothpaste in the sink, don’t rinse yet. You can always use the water from brushing your teeth or washing your face to clean it out. Multi-task and minimize how much water goes down the drain to save water.
  • Fully Loaded – A partially filled washing machine or dish washer is a huge waster of water. Fill it up and wait to run the device until it’s at the brim – the same amount of water is used no matter how much is in the device.
  • Insulate Pipes – Hot water pipes without insulation waste a tremendous volume of energy every year. The cost of running a hot water tank continuously every day can be anywhere from $200 to $300 per year, and that’s with insulation. Consider the cost without it to keep the water warm as it passes to your fixtures.
  • Lower Water Flow – Don’t crank your faucets up to the max just to get a glass of water or to check for hot water. It’s a waste of energy and it’s often unnecessary, especially when waiting for water to hit the right temperature.

If you’re interested in getting the most out of your home’s water supply, there are hundreds of little ways to save water that will add up over time. These are just some of the easiest ways to get started. For more tips, talk to your local Lakeville plumber.

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Do I Need to Supplement my Heat Pump with Another Heating System? A Question from Roseville

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

People often turn to heat pumps as a solution for their Roseville home heating and cooling needs because they want a single, all-inclusive system that covers all the bases. The convenience and simplicity is part of the allure of choosing a heat pump to begin with.

However, it’s not always that simple. There are situations where a heat pump is not enough to handle the needs of the whole home. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the whole idea goes out the window, but the heat pump may need some help in the form of a supplementary heating supply.

Here are some reasons/situations that may call for a supplemental heat source in addition to a heat pump:

  1. A  Cold Climate – Although heat pumps can serve as the primary heating system when temperatures drop as low as 30 degrees Fahrenheit, they have trouble keeping up when the cold snap lasts longer than a few days. In any climate where temperatures dip below this mark for a length of time, a supplemental heating system is recommended.
  2. A Large Home – Heat pumps come in many different sizes, but if yours does not have the capacity to match the size of your home, then it won’t be able to heat the whole house. It’s as simple as that. If you are installing a new heat pump, be sure to get one that is properly sized. But, if you have an existing heat pump that is overmatched by your home’s size, simply supplementing it may be the easiest solution.
  3. The Power Goes Out – A Heat pumps’ use of electricity is a benefit in most situations, but unfortunately it means they are helpless when the power goes out. To avoid suffering in the winter chill when a blizzard takes out a local power line, have a backup/supplemental heat source on hand to use until the power comes back on.

Those are a few situations you may encounter in which supplementing a heat pump is a good idea. Remember, though, that each situation is different. When installing a new heat pump, consult with the professional installer beforehand to see if you should also have a supplemental heat system in addition to the heat pump. This is especially important if you live a cold climate.

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Heat Recovery Ventilator – What Is It and When Do You Need It? A Question From Stillwater

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

While the design of modern homes is to retain as much energy as possible while minimizing the cost of heating and cooling, that very design can have a negative impact on your Stillwater home’s indoor air quality. Because air cannot pass freely between indoor and outdoor environments, you are stuck breathing the same air day after day.

Luckily, there are t options that will exchange the heat in your indoor air to the outdoor air as it enters your home. In effect, you can retain all of the heat your home produces each day before it leaves the house. It works equally well in the summer to retain the cooled air your air conditioning units produce.

How Heat Recovery Works

Heat recovery ventilators come in many forms, including simple ventilation, heat exchange, or air exchanging. There are even some indoor heat pumps that will carefully draw heat from the air as it’s removed from your home and recirculate it through your air ducts.

The idea is the same no matter how the system is installed. As air leaves your home through a ventilator, a counter-flow heat exchanger transfers energy between the air leaving and entering your home. So, instead of warm air leaving and cold air entering, the air coming into your home takes the heat from the air leaving your home. Air comes and goes, but heat stays inside.

In the summer, the same system works in reverse to remove heat from the air coming into your home and keep it outside. The one thing to keep in mind with a heat recovery ventilator is that it doesn’t retain the humidity in your home as an energy recovery ventilator would. If you live in an area with very high or very low humidity during summer or winter, an ERV may be a better solution for your needs.

Air Quality Benefits

The goal of a good heat recovery ventilator is not just to retain the heated or cooled air in your home. It is also to ensure you have clean, fresh air to breathe each day. Most people don’t realize, but when you don’t circulate your air and your home is sealed up with enhanced weather-stripping and high quality insulation, unwanted contaminants begin to build up. A heat recovery ventilator makes sure you not only get fresh air, but that it’s properly filtered and the heat or cooling your comfort system produces is retained. No money is lost, energy is saved, and your family stays comfortable and healthy – everyone wins.

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