Air Mechanical, Inc. Blog : Posts Tagged ‘Vadnais Heights’

Air Conditioning Tip: Breakdowns – How to Handle an Overloaded AC

Monday, July 16th, 2012

The last thing you need on a hot summer day is for your Vadnais Heights air conditioner to suddenly cut out. Without the cooling power it provides, your house will get uncomfortable quickly. Fortunately, once you know why this happens, there are several things you can do about it.

Why Air Conditioners Cut Out

The most common reason for air conditioner failure is an overabundance of pressure in the unit. This happens because the coil gets too hot, causing the pressure to rise in the entire device. As the pressure rises past a certain point, an automatic safety shutoff system is engaged. If you can stop the coil from heating up to this point, you can keep your Vadnais Heights air conditioner running.

How to Keep Them Running

Of course, this is easier said than done. Since your condenser unit with the coil inside is located outside in the heat, it’s only natural for it to get hot during the day – especially an extra hot day when you’re using your air conditioner a lot. You also need to be careful not to put anything over or up against your outdoor condenser unit.

While this may block the sunlight, it will also keep heat in the system and prevent the air conditioner from removing exhaust naturally. So in order to keep your air conditioner as cool as possible, make sure there is nothing up against the vents or impeding air flow in any way. Once you’ve done this, try and find a way to provide shade for you air conditioner without placing objects near the device. Blocking out direct sunlight is the best way to keep your air conditioner cool as long as you can do it without interfering with the system’s natural air flow.

Getting it Back On

If your unit does cut out on you, don’t despair. The best thing to do is to wait about a half hour to give your unit a chance to cool off on its own. Then, spray the coil and other overheated areas with a fine mist of cool water. This should lower the temperature enough that the system can come back on without any further complications.

If the problem persists despite the work you’ve done to keep it cool, you may want to call in a Vadnais Heights air conditioning professional like Air Mechanical Heating, Cooling & Plumbing to take a look and make sure nothing is broken or worn inside to cause the overloads. Most of the time a little maintenance will take care of the problem, but if not, you’ll want to get repairs done quickly to avoid a full breakdown.

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Sump Pump Maintenance for Eden Prairie Homes

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

A good sump pump is the only thing standing between you and a basement full of water, so it makes sense to implement a good maintenance plan for your Eden Prairie Home. A lot of homeowners don’t even think about their sump pumps, however, probably because they are buried out of sight, but the only way to know for sure that it will work when you need it most is to keep it in good operating condition. Here are some tips to help you do just that:

  • Check the GFCI – Your sump pump should be plugged into a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI). This is a special outlet that keeps the system from getting waterlogged. If it gets damp, it shuts down, turning off your sump pump. Unfortunately, GFCIs can be faulty or break, so check it regularly to make sure it is always on.
  • Upright Operation – If you have a standing sump pump, make sure it stays upright and doesn’t fall over when operating. These things can move a lot and if they do fall over, they may not pump properly.
  • Test it Regularly – Pour water into the sump pit when empty to make sure it will work when needed. Most people who need emergency service could have pinpointed the problem weeks or months earlier if they had known the system was broken.
  • Check the Outlet Pipes – Check the outlet pipes regularly for leaks or damage. If they start leaking back into the foundation, they can cause damage or leakage into the basement.
  • Clean the Grate – Submersible pumps are often left to sit in their pits for months or even years without cleaning. At least once a year, remove the sump pump from its pit and clean away any gunk that’s built up. Stones or debris in the pump can break the motor if left unchecked.

A good sump pump is all that stands between your home and a boat load of water whenever it rains. To keep your home clean and dry, check your pump often and if necessary, call someone for routine plumbing maintenance.

Most of the problems that pop up with sump pumps can be avoided entirely if they are maintained on an annual basis. Sometimes you may need to call Air Mechanical for advanced cleaning or part replacement. If so, try and do so before the raining season starts.

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How to Shut Off Your Water Supply in Scott County

Friday, February 17th, 2012

In the case of a plumbing emergency, the last thing you want to do is watch as more water continues to pour into your home through a burst pipe, broken appliance or busted water line. So, the first step should always be to turn off your main water supply valve. Here are some tips for finding that valve and getting the water supply off as soon as possible.

Finding Your Main Water Supply Valve

The valve is almost always located in one of two places. It will either be outside at the entry point for the water supply to your house or it will be located in your basement or garage between the inlet and the main water line. In some cases, it may be even be under an access panel in basement. However, this is less common than the first two options.

Once you find the main water supply valve, turn it off to immediately stop more water from entering your home. If you notice that water is continuing to enter your home, you have a problem before the entry valve and should call the city immediately because one of their pipes might have burst.

Shutting Off Individual Appliances

In many cases, the problem is related to a single appliance. If this is the case, you don’t necessarily need to turn off the entire water supply – just the supply valve for the specific appliance or fixture. Every major water fixture and appliance in your home should have its own shutoff valve in an easy to reach place. This goes for every sink, toilet, shower, dishwasher, and washing machine in your home – not having those valves can be dangerous.

Once you have turned off your water supply, it’s time for plumbing maintenance. Make sure to keep track of everything you do (take notes if you can) and supply that information to the plumber both on the phone and when they arrive. It will help them diagnose and solve the problem much faster.  Call Air Mechanical with any questions.

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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 AFUE and Why Should I Care? Some Advice From Maple Grove

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

If you’ve been shopping for a furnace in Maple Grove, chances are you’ve noticed that each furnace has its own annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating. These generally range from 80% to the high 90% s and the higher the number, the more fuel efficient that particular furnace is.

But what does this number really mean and just how much should you care? Well, the AFUE rating should actually have a significant impact on your furnace purchasing decision, but that doesn’t mean that you’ll always choose the furnace with the highest efficiency rating either.

For one thing, you’ll have to recognize that not every type of furnace is capable of running at the highest efficiency levels. Oil furnaces, for instance, can’t compete with the super high efficiency gas furnaces on the market today. That’s not to say that an oil furnace might not be the best choice for you under certain circumstances, but it does mean that you should take a close look at your furnace usage before you make a decision.

If you do choose a gas furnace, you will of course have the option of getting one that can reach up to 97% or so efficiency. However, that may not always be the best choice either. If you live in a place where with very harsh, long winters and you’re going to be using your furnace heavily, then it’s definitely worth investing in a higher AFUE furnace that can save you considerable amounts on your monthly heating bills.

But if you don’t use your furnace too often as your area has more mild winters it’s probably not worth it for you to invest in such a high efficiency product. That’s because the higher the AFUE of the furnace, the more expensive it is to purchase and install. Certainly you’ll save money every month because you’ll be getting more heat out of the fuel you’re paying for. But if you don’t use your furnace all that much, the savings really won’t be that substantial.

Don’t forget that a furnace with an 80% AFUE rating is still quite energy efficient.

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Will Switching to Geothermal Save Me Money? A Question From Chanhassen

Monday, September 12th, 2011

There are simply a ton of different types of heating systems in Chanhassen and they are each more appropriate in different situations. However, some are certainly always going to be cheaper to operate than others, although that alone may not make one or the other right for you.

In the case of geothermal heating systems, the operating costs are definitely quite low. But those are not the only costs you will have to think about when you are considering what type of heating system to put in your home to keep your heating bills down.

Geothermal heating systems do not actually generate heat – they absorb it from the ground. Because of this, they actually use very little energy when they are running. All you are really paying to power is the fan that blows the heated air around your house. Also, because geothermal heating systems are more efficient at extracting heat in below freezing conditions than traditional heat pumps, they can continue to keep you warm on their own in more extreme conditions.

Traditional heat pumps, while they also cost very little to operate, do sometimes need to be supplemented by more conventional forms of indoor heating like a furnace when temperatures outdoors get too low. This is not the case with geothermal heat pumps, so if you live somewhere that has colder winters, a geothermal heat pump may be just what you are looking for. Of course, you can always opt for a furnace instead, but these will definitely cost more to run than either type of heat pump.

When you are trying to assess whether or not switching to a geothermal heating system will save you money, you first have to start with the heating bills you currently have. Then, factor in the cost of the geothermal heat pump installation as opposed to the installation of a more conventional system.

You are then in a position to see whether or not the amount the geothermal system will save you each month is enough to offset the higher cost of installation within a reasonable amount of time. Of course, the savings will always eventually add up over time, but if the length of time it will take you to break even is the same or longer than the expected life of the system, it is probably not worth it to invest in this type of heating.

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Different Types of Room Air Conditioners in Vadnais Heights

Friday, September 9th, 2011

If you are like most people in Vadnais Heights, you probably picture the air conditioner hanging out of the window when you think of room air conditioners. However, while these are by far the most popular type of room air conditioners, they are not the only option. When you are shopping for a room air conditioner, it is a good idea to explore all of your options before you make a purchase.

The traditional window mounted air conditioners have plenty of advantages, and that has helped to keep them at the top of the room air conditioner market for a long time. These types of units can be installed in windows of multiple sizes and you can just about always get them in yourself. These units are available in a wide variety of sizes too, so you will be able to match the unit to the size of the space you need to cool.

No matter what type of air conditioner you get, it is very important to make sure it is the right size for the task you have laid out for it. Bigger is not always better and you do not want an air conditioner that is too powerful for the space any more than you want one that is too small. Also, be sure to check the energy efficiency rating of the air conditioner you are considering before making your purchase. That can save you a lot of money over time as well.

Another type of room air conditioner to take a look at is a wall mounted unit. Many of the window mounted units can actually be used in this way as well, but the installation involves actually making a hole in the outer wall of your home so you will most likely need some professional help to get it in place.

Just like window mounted units, wall mounted air conditioners come in all sizes and with all different energy efficiency ratings. Always take care to check out the specifics of the model before you buy it to make sure it is the right choice for your home.

Portable air conditioners are a third option in the room air conditioner category. They typically have wheels so that they can be easily moved from one room to another and they have an exhaust hose that must be hooked up to a window to ensure adequate ventilation. These types of room air conditioners are usually more expensive than wall or window mounted units, but it is definitely convenient to be able to move them from one place to another.

If you are not sure which type of air conditioner is right for you, contact your local air conditioning professional.

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Green Your Plumbing: A Tip From St. Louis Park

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

These days, “green plumbing” is getting increasing attention in St. Louis Park.

“Green plumbing” helps the environment by doing one or more of the following:

  • Saving water
  • Saving energy
  • Using environmentally-friendly materials

There are a wide range of green plumbing products that can make a big difference in how much water and energy your home uses. They range from simple accessories that cost less than $20 to major home remodels. Here are a few of them, ranging from the simple and immediate to larger investments with a longer-term payback.

  • Low-flow showerheads and faucet accessories (often called “aerators”). Check the side of your current faucet and showerhead to see if they use more than 1.5 GPM and 2.0 GPM, respectively. If they do, you can benefit from an upgrade. Look for the EPA WaterSense label to be sure that your new showerheads and faucet accessories are water-efficient.
  • Hot water heater blankets and pipe insulation.You don’t need to insulate your hot water heater and  pipes to prevent freezing, but doing it will save money, water, and energy, and (as a bonus) you’ll enjoy hotter showers in the winter. This is a simple DIY job and the materials are extremely affordable.
  • Touch-free faucets. When you’re not actively using them, touch-free faucets shut off. According to industry estimates, the result can be a water savings of up to 70%. Touch-free faucet technology has improved greatly in recent years, and sensors are now very reliable. If you like your current faucet and want to keep it, there are also touch-free faucet conversion kits.
  • Dual-flush toilets. As the name suggests, these toilets have two different flushes: a “half-flush” for liquid waste, and a “full flush” for solids. Dual-flush toilets are standard in many European countries and are becoming increasingly popular in the U.S. because of their water-saving potential (up to 68% over conventional toilets) and sleek styling.
  • Sprinkler system upgrades. Much of the water from spray sprinkler systems evaporates. Trickle and drip irrigation systems can improve water efficiency by delivering smaller amounts of water directly to the base of the plant. Other products, such as pressure regulating spray heads and rotors and automatic rain sensors, can also save thousands of gallons a year. Another option is to re-use laundry waste water by diverting it into the garden. This can be a DIY project or can be built directly into your plumbing. Check with your local authorities to find out if this is permitted in your area.

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What Is New in Air Conditioning? Some Updates From Hopkins

Monday, August 8th, 2011

There are developments being made in air conditioning just about every day, as you can see in Hopkins. This is a huge business, and so manufacturers are constantly trying to outdo each other as it is their only way to compete for customers. What this means for you as a consumer is that you will always have an excellent selection of products from which to choose.

Energy efficiency is one of the main selling points for any air conditioning system. For that reason, manufacturers are constantly working to come up with new and better models. The most advanced air conditioning systems on the market have energy efficiency ratings that by far surpass what was available even ten years ago and it is only going to keep getting better.

Another type of air conditioning system that is relatively new but is rapidly gaining in popularity is the ductless mini-split system. These and other compact air conditioners are popular because they can be installed virtually anywhere and do not take up much space. They also do not require the duct system that many other central air conditioners do.

In this way, ductless mini-splits combine the best of central air conditioning and more conventional window or wall mounted units. They keep individual rooms of your house cool and comfortable and can be controlled independently of one another, but they are also very quiet and energy efficient. In fact, ductless mini-splits are among some of the most energy efficient options available in the air conditioning world today.

For many years, enjoying the comfort that air conditioning provides has meant putting up with the noise of the compressor as well. Now, however, you can get the best of both worlds. Many air conditioning companies, in response to customer requests, have been working to curtail the noise and vibrations that air conditioners make.

This has affected models all up and down the line. Whether it is a window mounted unit you are after or a large central air conditioning system, you can rest assured that the model you buy today will be much quieter and produce a great deal fewer vibrations than your old system.

This is not only good news for you. It can also help to make your relationship with your neighbors a bit friendlier. The outside component of most air conditioning systems is usually where all the noise and vibrations come from anyway, and so your neighbors are likely to hear and feel it as well.

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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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