Happy New Year’s Eve from Your Greater Atlanta Area HVAC Contractor!

Saturday, December 31st, 2011

Happy New Year’s Eve everyone! We hope you have a wonderful time celebrating the beginning of 2012! Now is also a great time to set goals and reflect on what you would like to accomplish in the year ahead. If you are thinking of trying to be more environmentally friendly, your HVAC system might be the place to start. Annual maintenance will make your system run efficiently, and if you upgrade your system you can be sure that you will be using less fuel than before. Give us a call to learn more ways to reduce your home’s carbon footprint!

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How to Lower Energy Costs for Your Atlanta Home: Water Heater Tips

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

If you want to lower the energy costs for your Atlanta home, the water heater might not be the first place you’d think to save energy. However, when you add up the savings from a few easy steps that can improve your water heater’s efficiency, it can make a significant difference in your utility bills.

Here are some of the ways you can reduce the use of hot water in the home and increase your energy savings.

Saving Energy by Using Less Hot Water

Even if you own an energy-efficient, tankless water heater, and you try to conserve water as much as possible, hot water usage can always be reduced in other areas. Installing low flow faucets and fixtures can provide up to 60% in water savings because they reduce the flow rate (gallons per minute) for each fixture. Tankless water heaters are also more efficient when they are used with any application with a lower flow rate.

Replacing older appliances that require a lot of hot water with more energy-efficient models is worth the money and effort because of the energy savings you will get in the end. Make sure you fix any leaks on older hot water faucet or fixtures. A leak that costs a dollar or two extra per month doesn’t seem like much, but it will add up over time.

Lower the Temperature on Your Hot Water Heater

For every 10°F that you lower the water temperature on your hot water heater, you save between 3% to 5% in energy costs. The manufactured setting for most water heaters is 140°F, but most homes only require a maximum temperature of 120°F. Check your owner’s manual before you lower the temperature on your water heater to find out what the recommended settings are and how to change them.

Insulate Your Water Heater Tank and Water Pipes

Whether you have a gas or electric hot water heater, you can find fairly inexpensive and easy-to-install insulators or “jackets” for your water heater tank. Every tank has an R-value that determines how much heat it loses, so unless it is a high value, your water heater tank needs insulation. Call a professional or check your owner’s manual for the R-value of your hot water heater, but the general rule is that if the tank is warm when you touch it, you need more insulation.

You can reduce emissions and your energy costs simply by paying more attention to how much hot water you are using in your Atlanta home. For more tips and expert advice, call Cool Air Mechanical to speak with one of our technicians.

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Centerville Gwin HVAC Repair Tip: How to Tell if Your Air Ducts Are Leaking

Monday, December 26th, 2011

There are lots of ways for your Centerville Gwin home to lose energy – through leaky door frames, cracks in window trim, loose or missing insulation, etc. A lot of your indoor heating and cooling winds up outdoors and drives up your utility bills.

One part of your home that is susceptible to leaks and energy loss is your ventilation system, typically metal or flexible ductwork. Older homes generally experience more duct leakage because seals and joints may have loosened over the years or may have not been properly connected when they were installed. There are some ways to check and see – or hear – if the air ducts in your home are leaking.

The most obvious way to check is by listening. Stand, sit, or kneel close to your ductwork. Listen for any hissing noises when the furnace, air conditioner, or blower motor is in operation. A hissing noise is usually an indication of a leak in a seal or joint. Since ductwork comes in a variety of lengths and contains a number of different connectors, there are likely many joints where pieces have been connected. Some joints are sealed with small sheet metal screws while other joints are sealed with duct tape or mastic. Whatever the connection is, the joints may have come loose over time from vibrations, settling of the home’s foundation, previous repairs, or by someone simply bumping into the ductwork.

Another way to check for a leaking air duct is by looking at insulation which may be wrapped around the ductwork. If an air duct is leaking it will leave dark stains on the insulation over time – giving an exact location of the leak.

Leaks in your air ducts can cause areas like your crawlspace, attic, or garage to be abnormally cold or hot. If you are conditioning unused parts of your home inadvertently, it may be because your ductwork is leaking in those areas.

Finally, a not so easy way to check for leaking ducts is to compare utility bills. If there is a big spike in your heating or cooling costs, it may be because of temperature extremes – but it also may be because your ductwork is leaking. You may not be able to see a big difference in your bills unless there are large leaks or breaks in your ductwork, but keep an eye on your energy costs anyway.

Once you have located any leaks, there are some easy fixes. But you also may want to call your local qualified heating and cooling contractor to perform a whole house energy audit, using leak detection instrumentation to check for leaks.

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Merry Christmas from Your Atlanta Heating and Air Conditioning Contractor!

Saturday, December 24th, 2011

Everyone at Cool Air Mechanical wishes you a very Merry Christmas! We hope you all have an amazing day tomorrow full of wonderful presents and great food. The holidays are a time be thankful for everything you have, we are grateful for all of our customers who make our business possible. Have a great weekend with your friends and family! Here is a recipe for Peanut Butter Cup Cookies to make your Christmas a little sweeter:

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

“These cookies have a sweet peanut butter cup center.”

INGREDIENTS:

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons milk

40 miniature chocolate covered peanut

butter cups, unwrapped

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Sift together the flour, salt and baking soda; set aside.
  2. Cream together the butter, sugar, peanut butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg, vanilla and milk. Add the flour mixture; mix well. Shape into 40 balls and place each into an ungreased mini muffin pan.
  3. Bake at 375 degrees for about 8 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately press a mini peanut butter cup into each ball. Cool and carefully remove from pan.

For more details, go to allrecipes.com.

If you haven’t already had your heating system tune-up, we recommend you do so soon. A well maintained system will need fewer repairs over time and work much more efficiently. Not to mention the peace of mind that you will get from knowing that your equipment is functioning safely. Annual maintenance of your heating system will help keep your house warm and safe this winter!

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What Size Water Heater Do I Need for My Winston Home?

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

When installing a new water heater in your Winston home, it is important to get one that is the appropriate size. Of course, one that is too small will not handle the capacity you need, so you will be stuck with water that is not quite hot enough.

You may think to just buy one that you are sure can more than handle the capacity you need, but there are drawbacks to this strategy. A water heater that is “too big” will also draw more power, resulting in waste and unnecessarily high bills. Plus, it will cost more up front than you really need to spend.

The trick is to get a water heater that is the correct size for your needs. For a conventional water heater with a tank, the metric you will need to refer to is the unit’s first hour rating, or FHR. To determine the necessary FHR, you first need to determine during which hour of the day your home uses the most water. Typically, this is either first thing in the morning or later in the evening, when most people are bathing. Once you know this, determine what the water usage is during that hour based on average usage for each task. For example, let’s say a typical morning in your home consists of:

  • 3 showers (average of 12 gallons each)
  • 1 food preparation (5 gallons)
  • 1 hand dishwashing (4 gallons)

That’s about 45 gallons of hot water needed during that hour, so you need a unit with an FHR somewhere in that ballpark. The U.S. Department of Energy has a good worksheet to use for these measurements, which includes average usage rates for common household hot water tasks.

If you are looking at getting a tankless water heater system, the process is a little more complicated. The important figure to know in that situation is the maximum temperature increase possible for a particular flow rate. That means adding up the flow rates for all the various appliances you may use at once, then figuring out how much you need to increase the temperature.

If you find any of this confusing, consider a professional consultation during the selection process. That will ensure you get the water heater that is right for you.

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Happy Hanukkah from Your Atlanta Heating and Air Conditioning Contractor!

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

Everyone at Cool Air Mechanical wishes you a Happy Hanukkah! Have a great holiday with your friends and family. This time of year is all about being thankful for what you have, and we want to thank you all for making our business possible! Enjoy celebrating eight days of gift giving! Here is a great recipe for Vegetable and Feta Latkes that will make your Hanukkah even better:

Vegetable and Feta Latkes

“Try this colorful take on traditional potato pancakes. Stir shredded zucchini, potatoes and carrots into a batter of eggs, matzo meal, parsley and feta cheese. Fry until golden brown. You’ll love the creamy bite of feta with the tender veggie crunch.”

INGREDIENTS:

2 1/2 cups grated zucchini

1 cup peeled and shredded potatoes

1 cup shredded carrots

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 eggs, lightly beaten

salt to taste

freshly ground black pepper

3/4 cup matzo meal

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/4 cup vegetable oil

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Place the zucchini, potato and carrots in a colander, place paper towels or a cheesecloth over the top and squeeze out as much moisture as possible. Sprinkle salt over the vegetables and let them drain for 15 minutes. Squeeze vegetable again in paper towels.
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine eggs, vegetables, salt and pepper. Mix well. Stir in matzo meal or flour, parsley and feta.
  3. Heat vegetable oil in a large frying pan. Place vegetable mixture, formed into pancake sized cakes in hot oil and fry until golden brown on both sides. (Cook two to three minutes per side). Add more oil as needed to keep cakes frying up well. Drain fried latkes on paper towels.

For more details, visit allrecipes.com.

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Inspection and Testing for Indoor Air Quality in Loganville

Monday, December 19th, 2011

Though few people in Loganville know it, indoor air quality is one of the single worst and yet least understood health risks faced by families throughout the world. It claims the lives of more than 1.2 million people each year and results in countless illnesses. While air quality problems in the United States are rarely life threatening, the risk of long term health problems is very real, so inspection and testing is highly recommended.

When to Call for Testing

If you suspect something is wrong with your indoor air, you should call for testing. What constitutes “wrong”? Here are some specific things to watch for related to your health:

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Skin Rash
  • Eye Irritation
  • Nose Irritation
  • Throat Irritation
  • Respiratory Irritation
  • Cough
  • Chest Tightness
  • Respiratory Infection
  • Asthma
  • Allergic Reaction
  • Lung Cancer

When one or more of these symptoms recurs in your family without a clear cause that your doctor can diagnose, it’s a big warning bell that you may have indoor air quality issues to attend. When that happens, it’s time for testing and inspection.

Checking Your Indoor Air Quality

Indoor air quality problems frequently stem from a specific problem – either an entry point in your home where insulation fails or poor ventilation if the source is inside. The purpose of testing is to check for these problems and pinpoint specific ways to reduce the presence of pollutants and make you feel better.

Testing can be done for a number of pollutants including pollen, mold, mildew, bacteria, dander, dust mites, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, VCOs and other gases and bioaerosols. Specific testing will be done depending on the nature of your symptoms, the severity of the leak or exposure to that contaminant and the potential solutions your contractor considers.

If certain pollutants are found, filtration may not be enough to solve the problem – radon and mold especially require installation of new fans and filters to reduce the effects of the excess air contaminants.

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Dacula HVAC Tip: What to Check If Your Furnace Isn’t Lighting

Friday, December 16th, 2011

If your furnace isn’t lighting properly and your family is starting to suffer because of it, there are a number of possible problems you should check for before calling a Dacula heating contractor. Some of these issues can be fixed quickly by you while others may be signs of a serious problem that needs professional attention right away.

Checking the Pilot Light

If you have a gas furnace, the first step is to check the pilot light and ensure it is still working properly. If the pilot light is still on but goes out when you try to light the furnace or simply won’t stay on when you relight it, you may need to have the gas valve replaced. In some cases, it is as simple as the pilot light not being large enough and the gas blowing out the light.

This happens when gas enters the chamber and doesn’t ignite right away. When it does ignite, which happens after more gas enters the chamber, the extra force of the ignition will blow out the light. This is still a problem and should be inspected to ensure you don’t have any potential gas related issues.

Still Not Lighting

If you don’t have a pilot light or the unit still isn’t lighting, it may be an electrical issue. Electrical ignitions for gas furnaces should spark when the thermostat is turned on, so if it doesn’t you know that the switch or relay are bad.

If you smell gas or anything similar in the room where the furnace is located, you should immediately turn off the unit and call your gas company, followed by a technician. There could be a leak causing low pressure that results in your pilot light going out. Whatever the case, you need someone to look at it immediately.

Your furnace should always turn on when you flip the switch and if it does not, assume there is a problem. If you cannot find the problem yourself and easily fix it, you should call a Dacula professional. The risk inherent in an improperly working furnace (especially gas or oil) is too high to ignore.

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How to Make Your Raymond Heating System More Effective

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

Everyone wants an effective heating system in Raymond – one that will provide steady, reliable heat without you having to spend hundreds of dollars each month on gas, oil or electricity. And while the best way to improve the efficiency of your heating system in most cases is to upgrade it, there are some simple things you can do around the house to boost its effectiveness. Here are some of the best:

  • Rearrange Furniture – Just having the heat on doesn’t necessarily ensure the heat entering your room is being distributed evenly. Move your furniture in such a way that there is a clear, unimpeded path from the registers and radiators to the rest of the room. Done properly, this will make it much easier to and faster to heat every room of your house.
  • Maximize Air Flow – Air flow can be maximized in a number of ways. Make sure you close any windows near a register or radiator and that you remove any large objects that might block air flow. You should also install things that can help move air like fans and always call someone in for changes to the arrangement of your vents or radiators.
  • Clean Registers or Radiators – The cleaner your radiators or dust registers are, the more efficiently they release their heat. Not only have that, but clean radiators and registers resulted in better indoor air quality. Weekly cleaning of each room’s heating source is highly recommended.
  • Install Ceiling Fans – Ceiling fans switched to blow down are incredibly effective for distributing air throughout the room. This will keep push warm air down and keeps cold air up – in effect, reducing the need for constant running of your furnace.

Effective heating is important to keep your home comfortable, reduce the cost of heating and prolong the lifespan of your furnace. You should also make sure your heating system is properly maintained throughout the year. Skipping maintenance visits (which are highly recommended annually) will put unnecessary stress on your system and shorten its lifespan substantially, not to mention the decrease in efficiency when heating your home.

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VillaRica Furnace Tip: Signs of an Oversized Furnace

Monday, December 12th, 2011

Most people in VillaRica, when they choose a new furnace, think that “bigger is better”. However, an oversized furnace can present just as many if not more problems than an undersized furnace. So, if you feel you may have overdone it in the past or you want to avoid making a mistake in the future, here are some signs that your furnace may be oversized.

Short Cycling

The most common sign of oversizing is short cycling. Short cycling occurs when your furnace turns on and off frequently because it reaches the thermostat setting so fast. Basically, your furnace is so powerful that it can produce what you need rapidly and then shuts off. But, because it does this, the temperature in your home is likely to cool much faster as well since the furnace isn’t on all the time.

Additionally, the on and off short cycling has a negative effect on your furnace, causing excess wear and tear on the system and eventually leading to extra repairs and in some cases early replacement.

High and Low Temperatures

When your furnace is turned on for a comfortable indoor temperature like 70 degrees F, the high and low temperature between cycles should be relatively close to that temperature. In an ideal situation, you shouldn’t even notice a fluctuation.

So, if the high temperature gets close to 75 degrees F and the low temperature is around 66 degrees F, you have a furnace much too large for the size of your home.

Furnace Room Issues

You might find that the space and exhaust given for the furnace are not sufficient either, especially if your previous furnace was replaced with this oversized unit. Backflow of a gas or oil smell or excess heat in and near your furnace room are both common signs that the furnace is much too large.

So, what should you do about your oversized furnace? If you have had that furnace for some time or just moved into a new home, it’s a good idea to have a new one installed. Have a proper load calculation done and then get a new furnace installed so you don’t have to worry about the system cycling on and off so often. If it’s a newer unit, call your technician and discuss possible options to reduce the negative effects of the miscalculation of its size.

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