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

Plumber’s Tip: Common Types of Building Supply & Drain Piping Materials

Monday, July 9th, 2012

Have you ever wondered what the various pipes in your home and other buildings are made of? How come some Bloomington plumbing systems use different materials than others? What are the differences between common types of pipe materials? This brief guide covers all those questions.

Plastic

The newest piping material is plastic. Usually made from acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) or polyvinyl chloride (PVC), plastic piping has been in use in some form or another for about 50 years. Although many purists tend to shy away from plastic piping, it is popular as a material for both water supply and drain piping because it is cheaper and easier to cut than copper, and doesn’t present the corrosion problems of other metal piping materials.

Sometimes, plastic piping can crack or break because it was installed improperly, especially when done by an installer who is not used to working with ABS or PVC materials. These pipes have to be installed differently than copper would be, so it is important to use a contractor with expertise.

Copper

Despite the relatively recent popularity of PVC and ABS, copper has been and remains the industry standard for most piping jobs, especially building water supply lines. Copper has advantages over other metals in that it is softer and easier to manipulate, doesn’t corrode easily and isn’t toxic to humans and animals.

There are three kinds of copper piping used in plumbing, which are assigned letter types depending on the thickness of the pipe walls. Type M is the thinnest and is used for above ground plumbing, while Type L and Type K copper piping have thicker walls. Occasionally, flexible copper tubing is used for plumbing, but because of the high cost, use is usually limited to spaces where the extra flexibility is essential.

 Steel

Galvanized steel piping is not commonly used for drain piping or building water supplies any more, with both copper and plastics being far more common choices for new construction. The zinc coating on galvanized pipes stalls rust, but doesn’t prevent it completely, which can shorten the life of the pipe and cause flaking on the interior pipe walls.

Cast Iron

Although not often used in new construction, cast iron can still be found in a lot of buildings because it has been used as a plumbing material for more than a hundred years.

For more information about installing new pipes in your Bloomington home, give Air Mechanical Heating, Cooling & Plumbing a call!

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Air Conditioning Guide: The Ins and Outs of Ductless Splits Air Conditioning

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

So, it’s time to install a new air conditioner in your Stillwater home and you’re pretty sure there just isn’t enough room in the walls or ceilings to place the necessary ductwork. No problem. There is a rapidly evolving technology that allows you to have air conditioning without ductwork. It’s called mini-split ductless air conditioning and it relies on individual units placed in key locations around your house. Here’s how they work.

Multi-Zone Cooling

The first step is to install a central unit. This is your compressor and condenser and is usually placed outside like the core of a central AC system. These units range between 15,000 and 40,000 BTUs depending on how much cooling your home needs and will support up to 4 zones within your house.

Once the central unit is installed, smaller room-sized units are placed throughout your house. These units are designed for between 9,000 and 18,000 BTU spaces and are usually placed high on the wall of your room to distribute cooled air. The smaller units are connected to the main unit by refrigerant lines that are run up the side of your house (or inside if you want them out of the elements).

Because each indoor unit is individual and has its own thermostat, you save electricity by having direct control over each part of your home. In fact, the average ductless split system uses something like 30% less electricity than a standard air conditioning system.

Is it Right for You?

This is the most common question we hear and to be honest, it really depends on your needs. If you have a large house – we’re talking 3,000 square feet or bigger, a multi-zone ductless system may not provide enough cooling on its own. Most systems only support up to 4 individual units and therefore cannot cool massive spaces. However, if you have a smaller home, or more importantly have no space for ductwork, these systems are much more efficient than installing multiple window units.

For more information about which air conditioning system to install in your Stillwater home, give Air Mechanical Heating, Cooling & Plumbing a call!

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HVAC Tip: Save Money in the Long Haul with AC Maintenance

Monday, June 18th, 2012

Every year, it’s recommended that you have a Rosemount HVAC contractor visit your home and tune up your air conditioner. This visit will ensure the system is ready for the intense, regular use it will receive during the hottest months of the year. How much money can this visit save you, though? Let’s take a closer look.

Cost of Operating Your Air Conditioning

An air conditioning system on average costs a homeowner between $500 and $1500 per year to operate depending on the length of the cooling season and the efficiency of that air conditioner. That number represents top efficiency for the unit, however. When a system has dirty filters, hasn’t been cleaned properly or the thermostat is no longer calibrated accurately, the cost increases – sometimes dramatically.

Just how much more could you be spending on cooling each month when this happens? The EPA’s Energy Star website estimates an increase in cost of between 10-30% resulting from poorly maintained systems, and it can be even higher if your system is old and is severely affected by a drop in energy efficiency.

Annual Tune Up Necessities

So, what should be at the top of your tune up list? If you call a Rosemount HVAC contractor, they will perform a variety of tasks including:

  • Inspect Coolant and Pressure Systems
  • Calibrate the Thermostat
  • Tighten Wiring, Capacitors, Relays and Contacts
  • Clean the Evaporator Coil
  • Clear and Clean the Condenser and Condensate Drain
  • Inspect the Condenser Fan and Motor
  • Check Compressor Efficiency

This is just a starter list for standard tune up of a central air conditioning unit. You can supplement this tune up by checking your filters once every 30 days and clearing away debris from around any outdoor units. You should also check your thermostat monthly to ensure it is working properly. If not, call for an inspection to avoid heavy increases in operating costs.

Major repairs to your air conditioning system generally take less than a day and when you’re on an annual maintenance plan, they cost significantly less than if you needed someone to fix the device in an emergency situation. To schedule an appointment today, give Air Mechanical Heating, Cooling & Plumbing a call!

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Geothermal Contractor Tip: The Growing Popularity of Geothermal Heating and Energy

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

It’s no secret that use of alternative energy sources is on the rise in Blaine. Solar panels, windmills and hybrid cars have been heavily publicized over the past several years as people and governments try to employ energy strategies that are more efficient, friendlier to the environment and more cost effective.

One alternative energy option that you may have overlooked amid the press that the above topics have received is geothermal heating and cooling. That is, using the existing energy of the Earth as a means to heat and cool your Blaine home.

If you have in fact been unaware of geothermal heating and energy thus far, it is rapidly growing in popularity as an alternative energy source. According to an article in GOOD Magazine, there are projects currently underway that would double the United States’ capacity to produce electricity from geothermal energy. In the summer of 2011, the U.S. Congress approved $70 million in funding to research geothermal energy.

It’s not just the government getting in on the act, either. Some contractors report anecdotally that over the past five years or so, demand from customers for geothermal heating installations has risen noticeably.

What’s all the fuss about? Well, for starters, geothermal heating can lower heating costs dramatically by reducing reliance on electric or fuel-based heat. Anyone that has received a staggeringly high home heating bill knows that any relief would be welcome.

Additionally, geothermal heating has the advantage of being hidden from sight. Unlike solar panels that have to be mounted on your home or a towering windmill that dominates your property, geothermal pipes run underground. Once they’re installed, no one even knows they’re there.

It’s not all great news about geothermal. You’ll need some extra land to house the underground coils, and the cost of installation is usually higher than other Blaine heating systems.

So, geothermal may not be for everyone, but if you are looking for an alternative energy solution, you have some land and you can invest some money upfront to see savings each month, then it might just be for you.

For more information, give Air Mechanical a call today!

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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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Saint Michael Heating Repair Service: Inspecting Your Furnace Heat Exchanger for Leaks

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

Like all the heating and cooling components in your Saint Michael home, your furnace needs regular maintenance and annual checkups performed by certified HVAC technicians. Here are some things that a professional heating maintenance technician can do to make sure your furnace is functioning safely.

One of the main concerns with any type of furnace is the potential for carbon monoxide gas leaks, which can be fatal if not detected. The heat exchanger is designed to prevent dangerous flue products from leaking into the home; therefore, it is important to inspect the heat exchanger for any cracks or excessive corrosion.

There are a few methods for introspecting a furnace heat exchanger for leaks and potential repairs (again, best performed by a professional HVAC technician):

  • Visual Inspection of the Furnace Heat Exchanger. Use a strong flashlight to visually check the heat exchanger thoroughly for cracks or open seams, particularly in areas that are susceptible heat or mechanical stress. Some seams may have been joined improperly during manufacturing, so be sure to check all joints. Also check for rust or corrosion in areas exposed to any type of moisture. Make sure you can gain access to all the parts of the heat exchanger. If you see any cracks, holes, or severe deterioration, your heat exchanger needs a professional repair. Ultimately, you may not be able to see all the parts of your heat exchanger, so further testing is recommended in addition to a visual inspection.
  • Flame Test. You can also observe the flame after the furnace is first turned on to detect potential damage to the heat exchanger. Turn off the furnace for at least five minutes, and sit close enough to the furnace to observe the burner flame. Have someone turn up the thermostat, and watch the flame for any changes in color or irregular patterns in the flame. If the flame makes any sudden changes, this could mean that the heat exchanger is damaged. Keep in mind that like the visual test, the flame test cannot determine damage to your heat exchanger alone.

In addition to increasing efficiency and lowering your heating bills, inspecting your furnace will ensure that your heating system operates safely throughout the winter. Along with having your heat exchanger inspected,  we recommend that you test all the carbon monoxide detectors in your home on a regular basis, as well as changing the filter every month and cleaning out the ventilation system.

If you need further assistance, or suspect any leaks in your furnace, you will need to schedule an appointment with a Saint Michael HVAC technician. Keep your home warm and safe this winter.

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Circle Pines Heating Repair Question: What is a Gas Furnace Draft Hood?

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

As every Circle Pines HVAC contractor knows, a draft hood is a necessary part of any gas burning appliance. For a gas furnace in particular it ensures steady air flow to the burners to avoid flares or the pilot light being put out by fluctuation in temperature and air flow.

What the Draft Hood Does

The draft will change in the chimney as exhaust vents towards it – especially when going from cold air to hot. A draft hood is placed above the upper most part of the gas furnace to draw air into the chimney and makes it possible to draw more or less air through the chimney as necessary to create a constant flow.

This makes it possible for the burner to enjoy consistent air flow without any wind gusts or sudden temperature spikes or drops. Hot air, if not put through a draft hood would create a strong air flow through the burners.

A draft hood cools the air as it is released by the burners from 500 degrees F to between 300 degrees F and 350 degrees F. The cooling needs to be carefully calibrated to avoid condensation build up in the chimney however – a problem that occurs when the temperature gets too low.

Maintaining Pressure

The draft hood is a part of a larger system designed to maintain air flow to the chimney. For every cubic foot of gas burned, the furnace needs to have 15 cubic feet of air for combustion and another 15 cubic feet of air for dilution. A draft hood and the rest of the ventilation system make it possible to put a furnace that has many thousands of BTUs in the basement of your home and still supply it with enough air to burn gas and dilute the exhaust before it enters the chimney.

For all of these reasons, if you see your pilot light flickering irregularly, notice a backflow of exhaust or a burning smell in your furnace room, it’s important to call a professional who can inspect and repair the problem before it becomes any worse. Not only can gas burner exhaust contain high levels of carbon monoxide, it can be bad for the device and the chimney if it doesn’t vent properly.

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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 to Do if Your Furnace is Not Producing Enough Heat: A Tip from Richfield

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

If your Richfield home is cold, many blame the furnace for not bringing up the warm temperatures or they blame the thermostat for not working right.

It may very well be a thermostat issue – often caused by the location of the thermostat – that is causing the problem. However, sometimes root cause is found in the furnace or ventilation system.

Your indoor environment may be contributing to a seemingly slow-moving furnace. Your furnace may be working too hard to keep up with the heat demand because of an excessive build-up of dirt or debris on the filter or around the moving parts, such as the motor or fan belt. The most obvious thing to do is to keep the airflow unobstructed and keep all working parts clean.

First of all, you should regularly check your furnace filters and if they are dirty, replace them or clean them. Disposable furnace filters are relatively inexpensive and come in a variety of sizes and media ratings (ratings determine what size media is used and its ability to trap certain sized particulate). You can buy these individually or in bulk from a number of different resources. It is a good idea to replace the filters every three-six months.

Mesh filters can be removed, cleaned and reinserted. Like replaceable filters, mesh filters should be checked on a regular basis and then cleaned at least every three months.

You can remove the access panels to your furnace and inspect the components for any build-up of dust, dirt, or debris. Using a vacuum with an extension hose usually is all it takes to clean up the area.

Other reasons for poor heating performance include dirty or blocked ductwork. The harder your furnace has to work to push air through the ventilation system, the longer it takes to bring the heat up. Make your furnace work less and keep vents clear and ductwork clean.

Finally, the reason your furnace isn’t producing enough heat may not be the fault of your furnace at all – you may have a leaky house. But that’s a whole different story.

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Did You Change that Furnace Filter? A Tip from Isanti

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

No matter what type of furnace you have, it’s important to remember to change or clean the filter on a regular basis. This is a relatively straightforward process and doesn’t require an Isanti professional‘s help. However, if you’re not sure how to go about doing it, you can always have your heating technician demonstrate the process for you on their next regular maintenance visit.

Indeed, changing or cleaning out the furnace filter is an important part of regular furnace maintenance. However, it often needs to be done more than once a year. The specific amount of time that you can go between filter changes depends on many things, but typically it’s good to check on it once every three months or so.

If you have a lot of pets or if anyone in your family has severe allergies, it may be worth it to check and change the filter even more often. Check with the manufacturer to see what their recommendations are as well. Some high performance furnace filters can last up to six months or even a year, but you should still check on the filter periodically to make sure that too much hasn’t built up on it in between replacements or cleanings.

You’ll need to make sure you have the right type of filter to install as a replacement as well. You can get this information from the owner’s manual of your furnace, from the manufacturer or by taking out and examining the current filter in your furnace. Some furnaces also have filters that are meant to be cleaned and then put back in and the cleaning instructions are usually located near the filter itself.

Of course, in order to change your filter you’ll first have to be able to find it. Most of the time, the filter will be located near the blower towards the bottom of the furnace. However, if you’re not having much luck finding it, your owner’s manual should be able to tell you quickly where it is and how to remove it. Before you go to open the chamber and take the filter out, however, be sure you’ve turned off the power to the furnace.

Changing your furnace filter can help improve the air quality in your home and it is also very important when it comes to keeping your furnace running efficiently and effectively. The filters are there to trap airborne particles that can get into the blower and clog it up. When that happens, the performance of your furnace will likely drop and you’ll need to have a professional come out and complete the necessary repairs.

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