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

Plumber Tips: When to Call the Plumber

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Many aspects of plumbing in Ramsey County are around simple fixtures and easy repairs for the homeowners.  Videos on the internet have made most simple plumbing repairs even easier by showing step-by-step processes to get them done.

Some projects obviously are more complicated and require the special skills and knowledge that only years of experience can provide.  Especially when water is gushing out and you don’t know where the main shut-off is located, the damage that can intensify minute by minute should be mitigated by calling in the expert plumber.

A Fix in Time

Leaky faucets and drains, a garbage disposal or even a toilet replacement are tasks that can be accomplished with a few good tools, patience and a little information off the internet.  Knowing where to shut off the water supply–so any problems that might happen don’t turn into catastrophes–begins many repairs that end with a pat on the back.

Even sweating of copper pipes to install a new shower valve or shut-offs nearer the fixture are not life-threatening and create a high level of satisfaction for handy husbands and wives.  Installing an under-counter water filtration system is just a matter of following instructions.

Saving Nine

When something has broken and is causing serious flooding, whether or not you can find the main shut-off, it still probably makes sense to call a plumber to get the repairs made quickly and correctly.  For much less emergent situations, plumbing can still be a tricky sport to find the right size fittings so getting a plumber with a truck full of odd parts can cost a little money but save a lot of aggravation and return trips to the local hardware store to exchange the 5/8 male coupling with gasket you expected it to be for the 3/4 female that was needed.

For any project that requires a permit, a licensed plumber makes good sense who knows the proper codes and intricacies of supplies, drains and venting so the work will pass inspection.  Replacing larger items like a hot water heater, shower unit or sink are far simpler for professionals to wrestle.

Any maintenance for hot water heaters or radiant heat systems are better left to plumbers to fix who know how to properly bleed and refill the pipes to flow without air bubbles.  If there is a problem with the sewer main inside or outside the house, a plumber will be better equipped to cut and repair the pipes (as well as deal with the mess).

Because of their lethal risks, gas lines to appliances must be installed and connected by a certified technician which many plumbers are.

Ultimately, if you have any doubt about your abilities, even though you’re playing with water, a mistake can make a big mess.  Calling Air Mechanical can often save a lot face.

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Different Types of Furnace Filters for Your Ramsey County Home

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

A good filter for your Ramsey County furnace is a must. Because that device heats and blows air throughout your home, you want to be sure that it doesn’t recycle contaminants and bacteria that could easily be captured at the air handler. That’s why it’s vital to choose the right heating installation on the first try. Here are some furnace filters to consider and their various benefits to your home and family:

  • Electrostatic – Most electrostatic filters are permanent and must be washed on a regular basis. They are electronically charged to capture particles as they pass through, much like a magnet. These filters are effective because they are both physical and electronic. However, keep in mind that they are only as efficient as the cleaning they receive.
  • HEPA – HEPA is the highest rating available for a filtration system, removing up to 99.9% of all particles as small as 0.3 microns. However, they are also inefficient when used in furnaces as they severely reduce air flow. They are not often recommended for this reason.
  • Pleated – Pleated filters come in both reusable and permanent forms and can be either purely mechanical or electrostatic. There is a very wide range of efficiency ratings for pleated filters so make sure you analyze your home’s specific needs before selecting any one pleated filter.
  • Activated Carbon – Activated carbon is unique from the other three filter types because it effectively removes fumes, odors and chemicals from indoor air along with other larger particles. It is recommended that if you choose an activated carbon filter, you supplement it with a pleated or electrostatic filter (or choose a combination filter) to remove all unwanted components from your home.

There are a lot of options when it comes to furnace filters. To make sure you get only the best air quality, call Air Mechanical, we can help you determine which pollutants are the biggest problem in your home.

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Heating Maintenance Guide: Furnace Safety

Monday, January 9th, 2012

There are many advantages to a properly operating furnace, and the most important ones are the safety and comfort of your Chanhassen home’s occupants. There are several things you can do to ensure the safe operation of your furnace.

Here is a checklist of ideas:

  • Clean or change furnace filters on a regular basis. Replace disposable filters and clean permanent filters using water or cleaning solutions. Your owner’s manual or a qualified heating contractor can suggest a regular maintenance schedule.
  • Check the exhaust vent from the furnace. Clear obstructions such as leaves, clothing, or animal nests from the vent pipe or chimney. Keep roof exhaust vents clear of snow. If there is a faulty exhaust system (like a blocked flue), of if there are cracks and leaks in the pipes or improper adjustment of the burner, or if there is lower air pressure indoors than outside, the furnace can create serious indoor air pollution.
  • A clear air intake is important too, since furnaces need fresh air to “breathe” and complete the fuel burning cycle. Again, check for debris, snow, or animal nests in intake pipes.
  • If you have an older gas furnace, you may want to install a supplementary induced-draft fan that reduces the possibility of backdrafting. Some furnaces have automatic shutoff devices that turn off the furnace if it begins to backdraft.
  • Check internal components such as the blower motor and vacuum any dirt. Check belts and pulleys for excessive wear. You should consult your owner’s manual for any suggested maintenance tips on internal working components.
  • You may also want to check the pilot light to see if it is working and if it producing an even, blue flame. If the flame is uneven, it may be a sign of incomplete gas combustion, which can result in the creation of dangerous carbon monoxide gas.
  • Ensure that your thermostat is operating correctly by raising or lowering the temperature settings to make sure the furnace cycles on and off.
  • Install and maintain battery or hard-wired smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Externally vented natural gas furnaces, when properly designed and installed, will operate safely for years. But if you detect a problem, use the most common solution – contact a Chanhassen heating professional to check out your furnace.

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What Is the Most Efficient Way to Heat My Home? A Question from Wazata

Monday, November 7th, 2011

When it comes to Wazata home heating, efficiency is one of the main factors most people take into consideration. There are quite a few different options in terms of home heating, including oil, gas and electric furnaces, heat pumps, and boilers, and each of these have their own set of advantages and disadvantages depending on your own particular situation.

For better or worse, there is no one system that is universally more energy efficient and effective than the others. The one that will turn out to be the best choice for you is the one that fits best with your specific heating needs, the climate you live in and the relative price of the fuel sources available to you.

For instance, if you live in a relatively moderate climate, a heat pump may very well be a good option for you. These systems are able to operate much more efficiently than furnaces because they extract heat from the air rather than generating it themselves. That means that in the winter, a heat pump can take heat from the outdoor air and pump it indoors to heat your home. In the summer, the heat pump can actually do the opposite, taking the excess heat from indoors and transferring it out to provide you with a yearlong temperature control solution.

Heat pumps generally run on electricity which can be expensive, but since they use so much less energy than something like an electric furnace, they can still be a very energy efficient home heating option. However, these systems are not as effective in areas with harsh, long winters, and so would likely require a supplemental heating system as well. Also, the lower the outside temperature, the less efficient a heat pump is going to be.

Furnaces, on the other hand, are quite effective at heating homes no matter how harsh or cold the climate. Gas furnaces are generally the most popular of the models available now, mostly because the cost of natural gas is lower in most areas compared to the cost of other potential fuels.

However, it may be worth considering an oil or electric furnace if these types of energy sources are relatively inexpensive in your area. No matter what type of furnace you get, you’ll be able to choose how energy efficient you want it to be as well, with lower efficiency 80% AFUE furnaces costing substantially less than those with an AFUE of 90% or more.

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What Should You Do if Your Furnace Fan Doesn’t Run? (and Happy Halloween Weekend!)

Friday, October 28th, 2011

Everyone at Air Mechanical wishes you a Happy Halloween weekend! We hope you have a great time dressing up and eating lots of candy! And today we are sharing with you what to do if a scary situation happens: your furnace fan stops running.

There are several reasons that a furnace fan might stop working at one point or another. While many of these do require professional attention, there are probably some things you can check on your own before you go and call in the pros. After all, if you can address the problem on your own, it will at least save you from having to pay a technician to come out.

The first thing to check when your furnace is running but the fan isn’t turning is whether or not the fan is actually switched on. Certain models of furnaces have a separate switch to turn the fan on and off. While there is probably no reason that you would want to turn off the fan by itself, it’s worth taking a look just in case. If that really is the problem, you’ll be up and running and back to dealing with better things in no time.

If that’s not the problem, you might try looking to see if any wires leading to the fan are loose or the fuse is blown. If the fan has no power, of course, it won’t be able to work but the rest of the furnace likely would work just fine as long as it doesn’t run on electricity as well.

Of course, the problem very well may be beyond your power to solve on your own. Don’t despair though. Even though you need to call in a professional, that doesn’t mean that the problem will be expensive to fix. In fact, it may be as simple as replacing your thermostat or the motor for the fan itself.

Just because a fan isn’t working doesn’t mean that you’re going to be paying an arm and a leg to have work done on your furnace. If you can’t easily discover the problem on your own, however, or if you’re not comfortable inspecting this type of equipment at all, you’re generally better off just calling in an expert and letting them do the dirty work for you. Paying for simple furnace fan repairs is definitely preferable to having to pay someone to fix the fan and the stuff you broke yourself while trying to fix the fan on your own.

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Where to Turn for Your Indoor Air Quality Concerns in Wazata

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

The quality of the air inside your Wazata home is incredibly important. It has a direct impact on the health and wellbeing of your family and in some cases can affect the cost of your heating and cooling. But with so many worries out there and so many people trying to offer advice, where do you turn when you need help? Here are some resources to help you if you’re worried about indoor air quality.

  • EPA Resources – The US Environmental Protection Agency provides a huge number of resources for homeowners and business leaders worried about indoor air quality. The EPA keeps a complete list of hotlines and clearinghouses to call depending on where you live as well as a list of state health department resources according to their 10 region breakdown of the country at http://www.epa.gov/iaq/whereyoulive.html.
  • Asthma Help – If you suffer from asthma and are looking for help from an expert to handle an attack or deal with conditions leading to your attacks the Asthma No Attacks hotline is available both online at www.noattacks.org or offline at 1-866-NO-ATTACKS. The Allergy and Asthma Network is also available at www.aanma.org and the American Lung Association has a number of useful resources for anyone concerned with their lung health at www.lungusa.org.
  • Radon Help – If you are concerned about radon in your home, Kansas State University operates a number of hotlines including 1-800-SOS-RADON for test kits and 1-800-55RADON for your radon related questions.
  • School Help – For school administrators and indoor air specialists, the American Association of School Administrators has a number of indoor air quality resources at www.aasa.org/iaq-resources.aspx.
  • ASHRAE – To learn more about the standards followed by contractors throughout the United States and recommended by the EPA, visit the ASHRAE website at www.ashrae.org – the American Society of Heating and Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers is responsible for evaluating new technologies and determining best practices for ventilation and air quality control.

And of course, if you are interested in the state and local regulations that affect air quality in your area,  visit the Minnesota Department of Health’s website.

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Indoor Air Quality Options

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

Maintaining high indoor air quality is always worth investing time and money in. After all, if the air inside your home isn’t healthy, it can cause all kinds of health problems for you and your family. The state of the art home heating and cooling systems we have today make it possible to enjoy a perfectly temperature controlled indoor environment all year long, but they also trap indoor air pollutants and contaminants inside without proper ventilation.

Choosing a System that Works

Luckily there are a number of great products out there designed to remove these pollutants before they cause you and your family discomfort or illness. Before you run out to buy a new system, however, you should first consider what each has to offer and what pollutants you need to remove. You might have some idea about this already, but the best thing to do is talk to a professional who can help assess your indoor air and determine which types of contaminants are most prevalent in your home.

Different types of indoor air cleaners are better at targeting different types of contaminants. For instance, HEPA filters can remove up to 99.97% of particulate contaminants that measure 0.3 microns or larger. This includes things like pollen, pet dander, dust mites and mold spores, so if these are the things you want to target, an indoor air system that uses HEPA filters is probably right for you.

However, if you’re more concerned with getting rid of smoke odors and cooking fumes, you probably want a system that targets even smaller particles. Air ionizers are more appropriate for these types of indoor air quality issues, as they can effectively remove much smaller particles than most HEPA filters. On the flip side, ionizers aren’t as efficient at removing the larger contaminant particles, so if you want to target both small and large contaminants, you need a system that combines both of these technologies.

Bacteria and viruses are also a problem when they find their way into your indoor air and they can be particularly tricky to get rid of. HEPA filters and air ionizers both have trouble completely eradicating these pathogens, but UV germicidal lights can be incorporated into your indoor air cleaning system to tackle biological contaminants effectively.

No matter what type of home air quality problem you have, there is a system on the market that will target and remove the pollutant. The key is to know which pollutants effect you the most and which products will do the best job of removing them from your home.

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What Is a Whole House Pressurization Test and Should I Get One?

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

If you have a forced air heating or cooling system in your home, you also have a system of ducts through which that heated or cooled air circulates. And most people don’t give a second though to those ducts. After all, if your heating and cooling systems are working, the ducts must be doing their job, right?

Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. If ducts are not working properly, the whole system will be in trouble, even when you don’t realize there is a problem. That’s why a pressurization test is so important – it provides peace of mind knowing that your home’s ductwork is not only properly installed, but that it doesn’t need any special repairs.

Why Pressure Matters

Your duct system depends on proper pressurization to evenly and efficiently distribute air throughout your home. Leaks, cracks or clogs in the system can disrupt that pressure and lead to uneven or inadequate movement of air through your ducts. This causes problems you may not notice, so if you haven’t had your ducts checked for proper pressure in a while, it’s worth looking into.

Improper pressurization causes symptoms like hot or cold spots in your home or an overall drop in the effectiveness of your home heating and cooling system. When loss of pressure is due to a leak that lets in unfiltered air from outdoors it can also lead to a decrease in indoor air quality. Often these symptoms are easy to ignore. But by doing so, you only allow the situation to get worse.

A whole house pressurization test is the best way to determine the state of your home duct system. By using high tech diagnostic equipment, home HVAC professionals check over your entire system to determine whether you have a pressurization problem. If so they can then quickly pinpoint the source. Once that’s done, the repairs are usually quite simple and you’ll get much more out of your home heating and cooling system than you did before.

Even if no symptoms of improper pressurization in your ducts have presented themselves, it’s worth having one of these tests performed. Especially if you don’t know when the system was last checked, a whole house pressurization test can help uncover small problems before they turn into bigger ones. And the peace of mind this provides is well worth the day it takes to perform the test.

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