Barron Heating AC Electrical & Plumbing Blog: Archive for the ‘Home Performance’ Category

3 Tips For Cleaner Indoor Air

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

Could your family be breathing unhealthy indoor air?


The Environmental Protection Agency says most of us spend over 90% of the time indoors, and that the indoor air is usually over 10 times more polluted than outdoor air. Respiratory problems such as allergies and asthma plague many families.Their suffering is often made worse by the air in their home. While many issues like poisonous carbon monoxide gas are undetectable with our senses, some homes have mysterious black stains, lingering musty odors, or visible mold. Unsightly excessive dust on the furniture is another common concern. In many homes it seems to reappear just a few days after house cleaning.

Here are some proven ways to reduce dust and help your family breathe easier:

Have A Central High-Efficiency Air Filter Installed: Typical throwaway furnace filters do not even adequately protect your equipment from getting fouled up, let alone protect you from the smallest invisible respirable particles. But be careful with retail store “high efficiency” one inch thick filters – we routinely get service calls after people put them in as they quickly get plugged. This chokes the airflow, which greatly reduces comfort and can even damage your equipment. Ask us about new options for installing a new high efficiency – high capacity air cleaner at the equipment. The best are pleated media filters, typically four to six inches thick, that only need to be changed once a year and don’t restrict your airflow. Note however that even the best filter can’t totally eliminate visible dust in the home, simply because visible dust is heavy and often settles on furniture before it gets to the filter.Test For Contaminated Air Infiltration: Where is that dust coming from? Are you breathing good air or bad air? Fresh air coming in through window and door leaks is usually less than 20% of a home’s incoming air. Building scientists have recently discovered that in the typical home, over half the incoming air first passes through the contaminated attached garage, crawlspace, basement or attic.

Air pollutants such as pollen and mold spores, carbon monoxide, automobile exhaust, crystallized rodent urine proteins, radon gas, crawlspace moisture, insulation fibers and volatile organic chemicals can contaminate this incoming air, and negatively affect your family’s health and safety. An Infiltrometer blower door test pinpoints where the bad air leaks are, and provides guidance on how to fix them. Many can be easily repaired by homeowners as weekend projects. Others such as duct leaks are better left to professionals. Finding and fixing the leaks that let in bad air will make your home healthier, less humid in the summer, less dusty, more comfortable, and even pay for itself through lower heating, cooling and repair bills.

When there are duct leaks it’s important to “Seal Your ductwork” to prevent the contaminants including dust, allergens, and pollutants from entering the air stream in the first place. Aeroseal patented technology is the most effective technique available for sealing ducts. If Aeroseal duct sealing isn’t an option, then hand sealing with mastic is better than not sealing at all. In addition to the indoor air quality benefits, duct sealing can save you up to 30% on your energy bills, while increasing your comfort level by reducing temperature differences between floors and hard to heat or cool rooms.

Repair Leaky Recessed Can Lights: One of the worst common leaks are recessed can lights. They inadvertently connect your living space to your attic – which is often the unhealthiest space in a home. Luckily most of these lights can be upgraded to LED inserts at a reasonable cost. During the Infiltrometer test, ask us to inspect your recessed can lights to see if they are an upgrade opportunity. They quickly pay for themselves through lower electric bills, and the savings on heating and cooling.

You don’t have to put up with unhealthy indoor air. Give your home performance trained HVAC contractor a call! You now have lots of options. They will be happy to chat about these and many other new ways you can help your family breathe easier.

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How to solve HOT and COLD rooms…

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015


Have you ever wondered why some rooms are not as comfortable as others, and sometimes an entire floor can be uncomfortable? This can be very frustrating however, the good news is it can be fixed. There are many reasons why this happens, but the most common issue is air flow. When an HVAC system is installed there are a lot of assumptions made and very few checks and balances to ensure the system is working properly.

The first step is to find an HVAC contractor who is trained, understands how air flow works in the home and is able to measure and test. The easiest repair is simply what is called air balancing. Dampers should have been installed when the house was built, but unfortunately many homes are lacking them. If your home is missing dampers, they can and will need to be added.

Your contractor will provide what is called a room by room load calculation to determine how much air flow is required to the rooms. He or she can then do simple steps to ensure the proper amount of air flow is being directed to each room.

The most important part of testing is to ensure your duct system is in good working order. It must be sized properly and free of any duct leakage. Both these problems can rob a home of the precious air that is needed to be comfortable. Duct systems can be repaired and sealed to make sure the right amount of airflow is being distributed throughout the house. In some cases it is necessary to replace the entire duct system to guarantee proper sizing, insulation and no duct leaks. A good duct system is key to making your home more comfortable and providing your family with the clean healthy air.

And there is another benefit. Unlike any other repair you do in your home, fixing your ducts can actually help pay you back. A good duct system will use less energy and save on monthly utility costs.

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Solving Drafts (and other common problems) with Duct Repairs

Friday, July 31st, 2015

Leaky ducts cause drafts, dusty homes and higher utility bills!

There are a number of reasons that you might feel drafts or inconsistent temperatures throughout your home. However, there is one culprit that is more common than all others: leaky ducts.

When your ducts are leaking into the walls, crawlspace, attic or floors, some of the air that is supposed to be delivered to the home never makes it where it is supposed to. That paid for heat (or cool) moves through the structure to outside.

When the duct work is sealed either by hand or with our preferred method, AeroSeal, the air is delivered to all areas as was hopefully intended.

In addition to causing inadequate air delivery, duct leakage causes the home to suffer pressure imbalances which are a leading contributor to the introduction of unconditioned dirty air from the crawl space and attic. This introduction of “bad air” will contribute to poor indoor air quality, exacerbating respiratory issues, and cool drafts moving through the home.

Homes with duct leakage can suffer these issues:

  • Excessive dust and toxic airborne particulate
  • Drafts
  • Unexplained odors
  • Uneven heating or cooling (especially the extremities of the home)
  • Excessive indoor humidity
  • Increased asthma, allergy and other respiratory symptoms
  • Higher than expected heating or cooling bills

If you, or anyone you know, have experienced any of these challenges, it’s important that you contact your local home performance trained HVAC contractor to explore the solutions that are available.

Check out the video below to see how one homeowner solved their drafts:


aero

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Is Your Home A/C Ready?

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

Wes Diskin performing a Home Performance Assessment

The first step in purchasing an Air Conditioner

Before you buy an Air Conditioning Unit, you’ll want to be sure the cool air you’re paying for is not being lost through faulty ducts, home air leakage, and poor insulation. There is a lot a green air conditioning contractor can do to get your home A/C ready!

Now, adding air conditioning CAN be as simple as calling the HVAC company to install a unit. But, as with all things HVAC, the most simplistic answer is not the smartest answer in the long-run. Having diagnostic tests run on your home (or a home performance test) is the only way to know the condition of the home and therefore the only way to install the most cost-effective, comfortable, energy efficient, and healthy air conditioning possible.

Here’s a sample run-through of what you should expect before an A/C install. Be sure to choose a Heating & Cooling company that has a thoroughly trained Home Performance team.

Assess the Current Situation: Furnace, Fuel, Investment

The first thing that should happen is to look at the heat delivery system currently in place. If the furnace and ducting system test well and are in good shape, it’s possible to use the ducting that’s already there. If not, ductless may very well be the way to go. Ductless also offers the option of zonal A/C, which can be handy for certain homes.

Next, it’s important to think about the fuel type. Folks who have natural gas as their heating fuel can pretty easily add an A/C unit to the existing system (if it tests well) and go with a less expensive installation cost. However, if a homeowner is using a more expensive heating fuel like electric, propane, or oil, it probably makes more sense to convert the whole system to a forced-air or ductless heat pump (which both include A/C) because the efficiency of the heat pump technology will allow that new system to pay for itself rapidly.

Diagnostics are Key

A Blower-Door Test is the key to understanding air flow patterns and problems. What is the heat gain in the home?

To be truly A/C-ready, you’ll want a trained Home Performance Technician (all estimators at Barron can do this) to run diagnostics on your house. They will use a blower-door, an infrared camera, a smoke-puffer, and/or other devices as needed to test the air flow and leakages in your home. There are a lot of questions to answer, such as:

  • What is the heat gain in the home?
  • Where does the sun come in, which direction is the home oriented, what kind of windows are in place?
  • What is the condition of the attic?
  • How much and in what rooms are there air leakage problems?
  • Can the ducts be used effectively (are they leaky?)
  • How much insulation is in the attic, crawl space, and walls?

Without first answering these questions (and taking action to address them), there is no way to ensure you’re dollars spent on conditioned air are being spent effectively. Attic insulation is especially important, as attic temperatures can run very high, making it harder for your A/C unit to do it’s job. If you’re using ducts to deliver your A/C, having them sealed tightly is also a pretty huge deal. Because duct-work is pressurized, leaky ducts can lose massive amounts of conditioned air; not to mention leaky ducts can carry in a bevy of nasty particulates from your insulation or dirty crawl space. A knowledgeable HVAC contractor will be able to apply the principles of building science to your specific home, to get a whole-house perspective.

The Benefits of A/C Readiness

Taking the time to truly be A/C Ready has the obvious benefit of getting the most bang for your buck, but it can be nice to see all the ways and angles that your home, health, and pocketbook will benefit from looking at the big picture. Having your home tested (with Home Performance) and analyzed for A/C Readiness in the end will mean:

  • You’re investing in a permanent and lasting change in your whole home, and not just adding an A/C unit that is more or less only a temporary fix (depending on the state of your home).
  • Any energy upgrades you make will prolong the life of the A/C unit, since it won’t have to work as hard, and there will be less repairs.
  • Big changes to the building envelope and energy upgrades can help when you decide to sell your home.
  • The equipment chosen is guaranteed to be properly sized for your particular home and cooling needs. Detailed diagnostics give us all the clues to choose the best possible system with dialed-in performance.
  • The air you breathe will be cleaner and healthier, which can often relieve certain types of medical symptoms suffered by you and your family.
  • You will be assisting the planet by creating a more energy efficient home!

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Low-Level CO Monitors Keep Your Family Safe and Healthy

Monday, May 4th, 2015

It just makes sense to discuss the major dangers of Carbon Monoxide with your HVAC company. Any malfunctioning combustion appliance, such as a furnace, water heater, room heater, or fireplace can be the culprit (along with generators, motor vehicles, and anything else exhausting post-combustion byproducts).

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a deadly, colorless, odorless, poisonous gas. It is produced by the incomplete burning of various fuels. CO is often called the “silent killer” and is responsible for the most accidental poisoning deaths in the country. This is serious stuff. And though most people know that high levels of CO are deadly, it is less well-known that low levels of CO are also very detrimental to your health.

What Are the Dangers?

What is the best way to keep yourself and your family safe? First, you need to understand the difference between a CO Alarm and a Low-Level CO Monitor? Those in-the-know often refer to the first kind as a “Death Alarm,” because by the time it actually goes off, the amount of CO in your home is at near-deadly levels. If your CO Alarm goes off, do not check the alarm, do not try to find the source of CO, do not pass GO, Go straight outdoors, and call 911.

Here is a typical Carbon Monoxide Alarm (or death alarm). These can be picked up at nearly any general store for about $15-$40. If your CO alarm cost somewhere in that ball park, you have reason to be concerned.

Research shows that long-term exposure to low-levels of CO can cause permanent brain damage and neurological damage. It can also compound many health problems such as heart and lung disease, anemia, diabetes, asthma, depression, and learning and concentration problems.

Some people are more susceptible to CO poisoning, such as: children, fetuses, those with compromised immune systems, and the elderly. Many of these people also happen to be those who are at home the most. It is understood that indoor air quality is already usually much more polluted than outdoor air, but if you have an unknown low-level CO leak, your air quality could be in seriously bad shape.

What Can You Do?

  1. Install at least one low-level CO Monitor like the one pictured here. These usually cost between $125 and $200. Your HVAC professional should have these available. It should be installed at eye-level and battery powered in case of a power-outage.
  2. Maintenance. The importance of following guidelines for yearly (or more frequent in some cases) maintenance on your appliances cannot be underestimated. Be sure to ask your technician to check CO levels with an electronic CO Analyzer. Also ask for an inspection and leakage test on the heat exchanger. It’s also a good idea to have your chimney inspected as a possible source of CO problems. Lastly, be sure all appliances are venting to the outside of your home.
  3. Check your garage. Cars emit huge levels of dangerous CO, so having an attached garage is usually not a healthy thing. Unfortunately, many people have attached garages. So, there are a few things you can do (short of detaching your garage). First, do not let your car idle in the garage. At all. Even with the garage door open. CO can still get trapped, and still infiltrate your home. Next, have your garage tested for air leaks into living space and seal seal seal! Last, you can install an exhaust fan in the garage to force out those toxic gases.

If you are overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, call your HVAC contractor and they can walk you through all of the CO safety precautions. But either way: DIY or through a contractor, it is really important to double check this critical health and safety issue for yourself and  your family.

Check out this very informative video about Carbon Monoxide.

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A Home Performance Assessment In Pictures

Thursday, April 9th, 2015

Have you ever wondered what happens when you sign up for a Home Performance Assessment?

Well, in our habit of demystifying all things HVAC, we have laid out a few simple photos and descriptions of some things that could happen at a Home Performance Assessment. Every home’s assessment will look different. And, not all of the tests and procedures included in this assessment are even pictured here. Homes are like snowflakes, no two have exactly the same components; so we happily customize our tests to your home, and your HVAC company should, too.

After the assessment (at the same appointment), all of the data is analyzed, compiled, and printed. The results are shared with the homeowner and a plan is hatched for where to go from there. Home Performance Assessments are the only conclusive way to know that you are saving the most energy possible and that all of the elements of your home are working together to create a safe, healthy, comfortable environment for you and your family.

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Home Performance Financing 101

Friday, February 6th, 2015

Is all this talk about Energy Upgrades and Home Performance getting you down because you’d love to make improvements to your home, but lack the finances to make it happen?

Believe it or not, we were in  the same boat (even though we both work in the industry). We were aware of the enormous benefits of a weatherized, insulated, and efficiently heated home for years before we finally pulled the trigger. I always just assumed we couldn’t afford it! I was completely in the dark about just how many financing options were available. That’s our home in the photo above, being tested for all things Home Performance related. That very home is now fully sealed/weatherized/efficiently heated/ventilated/basically every upgrade we could think of, for just under $100/month with the financing we received!

What types of financing are available and how to begin?

There are 4 basic types of financing for Energy/Home Performance/Heating upgrades.

  1. Energy Upgrade-Specific Financing: This is probably your best bet if you qualify, and it is the route we went for financing. Check out Puget Sound Cooperative Credit Union’s ENERGY SMART loans. PSCCU is a co-op bank geared toward local, environmental, and energy-savings solutions. And, they have fantastic rates! Must be in WA State to work with them, but check with your local financial institutions to see if your state has a similar program.
  2. A traditional Home Improvement Loan. This will likely be a little more expensive, but still a great option, and usually a better rate than a personal loan. Check with your current bank for their home improvement financing options.
  3. Personal Loan. Again, check with the bank you already do business with. A lot of times, you’ll get your best rate there, because they know you and want to keep your business. Personal loans tend to be a little more costly than other types of loans.
  4. Larger HVAC and Home Performance companies oftentimes have banks they work with, and you can receive significant deals, discounts, and lower rates by going through them. If you live in our area (Whatcom, Skagit, Island, San Juan, and Snohomish counties), check out Barron’s financing. We make available a 7.5% 10 year loan through a local bank, and a 6 mo. same-as-cash deal (if you qualify) through a nation-wide bank. Check with your local HVAC company to see if they have similar programs.
  5. Your local Human Services Organization (Bonus option!), though this is less about financing and more about low-income options. Some folks can receive free or very low-cost Home Performance/Weatherization work through the Human Services organization in their area. Our local agency is the Opportunity Council.

What’s Your Return On Investment (ROI)?

Here’s the nitty-gritty. If you’re ready to make the leap with financing, you’re probably asking just how long will it take to break even (between what you’re paying each month and what you’re saving in energy bills)? The basic formula goes like this:

Total cost of the project (divided by) your estimated annual savings = ROI

For simplicity’s sake, let’s say your project costs $10,000 and that allows you to save $1,000 per year in energy bills. Your ROI will occur in 10 years.

Where does one get these numbers? Your HVAC or Home Performance expert can give them to you.

What About Rebates?

The three main rebate programs for energy upgrades and home performance in our area are through Puget Sound Energy (PSE), Cascade Natural Gas (CNG), and the Community Energy Challenge (CEC). Here are direct links to the Applications for Homeowners: PSE Rebates , CNG Rebates, and CEC Information.

Beyond Finances:

Although finances are of primary importance for most people, there ARE other significant benefits to consider beyond the money saved.

  1. Peace of Mind: A new heating/cooling system and weatherization can set your mind at ease; allowing your family to relax without having to worry about shut-downs and repair costs.
  2. Health & Safety: There is ample evidence that people’s HVAC equipment and home are making them sick. An out-of-date, improperly-installed, or inefficient system can be very unhealthy, causing or contributing to myriad health-issues and diseases. And safety issues, such as carbon-monoxide leaks can be an immediate danger.
  3. Comfort: Most people want to create a warm, cozy, comfortable space for their friends and family. This is an undeniable benefit of investing in your home!

If this article has piqued your interest, I hope you will take a minute to contact your bank or HVAC contractor to get the ball rolling! You might be surprised by how affordable it is to create a cozy, efficient, healthy space!

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Annual Furnace Service (Part I of our Annual Maintenance Series!)

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

Most of us are pinching pennies after the holidays. This means that home maintenance services that aren’t absolutely necessary often get pushed to the back burner. I’ve heard many folks (myself included!) wonder things like “Is annual maintenance really necessary for my furnace,” or “couldn’t I do that myself and save some money?”

These are great questions! Let’s demystify annual HVAC maintenance by going over: 1. Why an annual service might be important 2. Whether or not all HVAC maintenance is performed equally 3. What, exactly, your service tech (or, what a good one, anyway) should be accomplishing during their visit, and 4. Could annual maintenance be a DIY project?

Is annual maintenance important for your furnace or heating system?

The short answer is yes. But let’s not leave it at that.

Houses are like cars in many ways (except if you’re lucky, you don’t spend nearly as much time in your car as you do your home). So, why is it that most people agree regular car maintenance is critical, whereas it still seems up for debate that your home also needs scheduled care from a professional? Like a car, home heating systems are composed of many intricate parts that all have to work together to deliver healthy, warm, efficient, and cost-effective heat. And, like an inspection and oil change for your car, a regular inspection and maintenance for your furnace can undoubtedly extend the life of your heating system, and the overall health of your home.

Most people know what happens to a car without the routine recommended maintenance. But what happens to your home without an annual furnace maintenance?

A neglected furnace or heating system could result in:

  1. Utility bills going up. No one wants to spend more money on monthly heat bills than they need to. No one. A high heat bill is one major indicator that your furnace needs attention.
  2. Your furnace could need replacing sooner. ALL furnace manufacturers recommend a yearly service. Having to buy a new furnace could mean prematurely shelling out thousands of dollars to keep your family comfortable. If you can extend the life of your current system with under $150 per year, you probably should.
  3. A furnace that hasn’t been properly cleaned can overheat, become clogged, start a fire, release carbon monoxide into your home (cracked heat exchanger), or simply make your furnace shut off. I don’t know about you, but I’d prefer a yearly maintenance to breathing carbon monoxide, yikes!
  4. Illnesses and allergies can be (and often are) caused or exacerbated by faulty or dirty heating systems. This is the air your family breathes, after all.

Are all Annual Maintenance calls performed equally?

Will these items listed above be addressed when you schedule a service call? Unfortunately, the answer is maybe. The service you receive can vary drastically depending on who you call and what you pay. One company can give your furnace or boiler a clean bill of health; whereas another company could come in a week later and find that a multitude of things were not properly taken care of.

There seems to be no industry standard for what is included in an annual maintenance appointment. Many companies offer a “basic tune-up,” a “comprehensive maintenance,” or something by a different name or somewhere in between.  Your best bet is to ask the technician what they will be doing exactly. He or she should be able to quickly give a complete list of items they’ll be cleaning or checking; it should look something like the list below.

What exactly needs to be done annually?

This checklist is the minimum of what should be performed at a comprehensive service appointment. A good HVAC company will also take note of the home performance implications that arise. Technicians who are trained to identify home performance issues will recognize things like duct leakage, house leakage, excessive dust in the home or ducts, rodent issues, and other problems that won’t necessarily be resolved by routine furnace maintenance. Finding and addressing these home performance gaps will lead to a much more efficient, healthy, and warm home.

Basic Annual Furnace Maintenance:

  1. Test temperature rise through furnace
  2. Test all furnace safety controls for proper operation
  3. Test thermostat for proper operation
  4. Test and adjust furnace gas pressure if applicable
  5. Check furnace electrical connections and wiring condition
  6. Test furnace sequence of operation
  7. Clean furnace blower compartment
  8. Check and clean furnace burner compartment
  9. Check furnace blower wheel
  10. Check and clean furnace burners if applicable
  11. Inspect venting for rust and/or corrosion
  12. Check and clean flame sensor and pilot assembly if applicable
  13. Lubricate all moving parts if applicable
  14. Replace furnace filter
  15. For all fossil-fuel burning equipment: Carbon Monoxide Detection test performed in living area

Could the homeowner do all of this herself?

The homeowner could in fact do all of these things, but only if they know how to perform all or most of the items on the list above. I for one, don’t know anyone who isn’t an HVAC professional who can adequately execute all of these checks and cleanings. A heating professional should be able to complete and explain to you everything on the list above; which is what makes them worth the 100 to 150 bucks it costs to do it right!

Hopefully this post has helped to take some of the complexity and mystery out of the annual furnace maintenance. Keeping your annual appointment is all about preventative measures. Following recommended maintenance will likely keep you warm and healthy longer, and keep unexpected furnace shut-downs at bay!

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Heating Emergency or Scheduled Upgrade – 5 Things to Expect from Your HVAC Comapny

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014


Recently my Facebook feed has been full of posts beginning “We woke up to a 50 degree (or thereabouts) house! What a time to be left in the lurch!” Murphy’s law says that many families will experience heating problems on the coldest days of the year. However unfair this may seem, I’ve found myself commenting that not all HVAC companies are created equal! Here are a few things to look for and a few services I’ve come to expect (It’s okay to expect the best!):

  1. 24/7 Emergency Service
    Any time of the day or night, the service crew should be ready to help. A large number of trained technicians on staff is key, so your wait time is minimized. One motto: “Your emergency is our emergency,” is a comforting idea when your family is cold and time is of the essence! And just in case you’re in the midst of one such emergency, Here’s a heating company who happens to fit all the criteria in this blog post.
  2. 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    There’s not much more to say about this one, except that this is a rare thing for a company to commit to, and those who have are elevated to a separate level of business in my mind. It makes me think of other stand-outs like Costco, Nordstrom, and REI, who have similar policies. I feel so confident buying from these places, because if something goes wrong: They will fix it. Period. Customer satisfaction is THE core of everything they do.
  3. Building Performance Certified
    These nationally certified staff are trained to take the health, efficiency, and comfort of the entire home into account. Only one local company has much of their team go through this rigorous training and testing to earn their titles as BPI Certified Professionals. BPI is the Building Performance Institute. They “develop standards for energy efficiency retrofit work using an open, transparent, consensus-based process built on sound building science….and quality assurance services that help raise the bar in home performance contracting.” Read more about BPI, and check out their Guide for Homeowners on how it all works and how to find the best contractor for your needs.
  4. Lifetime Guarantee and 1 Year Warranty
    Although these might sound like oxy-morons, they actually apply to different areas of the HVAC experience. The Lifetime guarantee refers to the Workmanship on installed ductwork, sheet metal, and piping. The 1 year warranty (for parts and labor) is in addition to any manufacturer warranties. The company should come out after the first year of use (free of charge) to make sure everything is working as it was when the equipment was installed. YES, this can happen with the right company. These safety nets and guarantees are some of the best and most comprehensive in the industry.
  5. Official Designations from the Manufacturer
    Look for certifications. Some heating companies will have their awards, designations, certifications, etc., on their website. These matter. One example: Carrier has a very selective process to designate Factory Authorized Dealers. They use these criteria: the job is done Expertly, Efficiently, Professionally, Right Technically, with the Right Parts, and Right for the Environment. Not all companies meet these standards. Just one more safety net to look for!

I hope explaining these 5 areas of service has given you insight on your search for a new heating system, repair, or upgrade. Now, if you or your neighbor are cold, you know what to do!

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The Right Ventillation Keeps the Home (and you!) Healthy

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

A Heat Recovery Ventilator efficiently sends fresh, healthy air into a tightly sealed home, while removing stale air that can cause a slew of health problems. And it does all this while capturing the heat of the discharged air and warming the fresh clean air at the same time. This article from 360Chestnut accurately describes the importance of this device and how ventilation is crucial in the overall health of a home.

Energy Efficient buildings are not making you ill, it’s bad ventilation

There has been coverage in the press recently about how Energy Efficient buildings may be making us ill. Is ‘sick building syndrome‘ is rampant in energy efficient buildings? Here at 360Chestnut we are as passionate about healthy homes as we are about energy efficiency. We would like to inform you, our readers, about what you may have been hearing on the news.

Mold growth and dampness in buildings are indeed major concerns, but this is nothing new in the building industry and it is certainly not isolated to ‘energy efficient’ buildings. Let’s start by what can cause mold in any building; warm, moist air, from people showering, cooking or just occupying a room, coming in contact with a cooler surface.

The warm, moist air condenses, the dampness soaks into your porous surfaces (such as your drywall), and creates a condition where mold will grow. Regardless of whether this happens in a poorly insulated building or a highly energy efficient building there will typically be one factor in common, poor ventilation. In a building with poor insulation the chances that this warm air will hit a cold surface is considerably higher though, so chances of mold growth are higher (insulation is very important)…. Continue reading

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