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

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:


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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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Heating Your Home with Radiant Heat

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could somehow have even heat spread out across your home, instead of heat coming out of a vent? There is a way to accomplish this goal, and it is called radiant floor heating. You may have heard of this type of heating but known little about how it works or how it could be of benefit to you. However, this method is gaining in popularity rather quickly.

So what is radiant floor heating? Described in its simplest form, radiant floor heating allows heat to be distributed directly to the floor of a home. This means that heat literally comes up from under the floor in an even fashion. Of course, this is in stark contrast to other heating methods, which may force heat out of vents at different points throughout your home. Homeowners who dislike the uneven nature of heated air flowing from vents will most definitely be intrigued by what radiant floor heating can accomplish. There are three types of radiant heat for floors, which include radiant air floors, electric radiant floors and hot water radiant floors. [1]

A common way for radiant floor heating to work is through piping placed under the floor. This piping brings the heat directly to the rooms and areas where it is needed. The end result is quite surprising for those who have never experienced it before, as the heat provided is far more even than other alternatives.
Not only do most people find radiant floor heating to be more comfortable, but it is also generally seen as a serious energy saver too. [2] Radiant floor heating is more efficient, in part, because heated air is not sent through air ducts. [3] Air ducts represent a major loss of energy efficiency and radiant floor heating bypasses this problem altogether. The end result will be a more efficient home and lower energy bills.

Another significant benefit to radiant floor heating is that the heating system is essentially out of sight and out of the way. This makes it a great option for homeowners who are looking for a clean look.

Adding to the cost benefits of radiant floor heating is the fact that the equipment lasts for a long time and is quite durable. Moreover, radiant floor heating can be integrated into existing systems as well, meaning that you don’t necessarily have to buy a new heating and cooling system.

Experts look on radiant floor heating favorable due to its energy efficiency, but many also feel that it also has some safety benefits as well. Radiant floor heating can contribute to helping wet floors dry faster since the heat is reaching the floors directly. This is something that other forms of heating just can’t accomplish.

If you are looking to get even more out of your heating dollar, it also is important to make sure that you have installed the proper home insulation. ENERGY STAR estimates that up to 20% of heating cost can be saved by adding sealing and insulation.

There are many, diverse benefits to radiant floor heating and, as a result, it is no real surprise that this type of heating is getting more attention. Those looking to make the most out of their energy dollars will want to explore this interesting option that is full of benefits.



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Setting Temperature On Your Water Heater

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

Each year, approximately 3,800 injuries and 34 deaths occur in the home due to scalding from excessively hot tap water. The majority of these accidents involve the elderly and children under the age of five. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) urges all users to lower their water heaters to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition to preventing accidents, this decrease in temperature will conserve energy and save money.Most adults will suffer third-degree burns if exposed to 150 degree water for two seconds. Burns will also occur with a six-second exposure to 140 degree water or with a thirty second exposure to 130 degree water. Even if the temperature is 120 degrees, a five minute exposure could result in third-degree burns.Various procedures for lowering water temperature in the home exist, depending on the method of heating. Here are some suggestions:

Electric water heaters. Call your local electric company to adjust the thermostat. Some companies offer this service at no-charge. Hot water should not be used for at least two hours prior to setting. To make the adjustment yourself, start by shutting off current to the water heater, then turn off the circuit breaker to the heater or remove the fuse that serves the heater. Most electric water heaters have two thermostats, both of which must be set to a common temperature for proper operation. To reach these thermostats you must remove the upper and lower access panels. Adjust the thermostat following the instructions provided with the appliance. Hold a candy or meat thermometer under the faucet to check water temperature.

Gas water heaters. Because thermostats differ, call your local gas company for instructions. Where precise temperatures are not given, hold a candy or meat thermometer under faucet for most accurate reading first thing in the morning or at least two hours after water use. If reading is too high, adjust thermostat on heater, according to manufacturers instructions, and check again with thermometer.

Furnace heater. If you do not have an electric, gas, or oil-fired water heater, you probably have an on-line hot water system. Contact your fuel supplier to have the temperature lowered. If you live in an apartment, contact the building manager to discuss possible options for lowering your tap water temperature. Reducing water temperature will not affect the heating capacity of the furnace.

The CPSC notes that a thermostat setting of 120 degrees Fahrenheit (49 degrees Celsius) may be necessary for residential water heaters to reduce or eliminate the risk of most tap water scald injuries. Consumers should consider lowering the thermostat to the lowest settings that will satisfy hot water needs for all clothing and dish washing machines.

Never take hot water temperature for granted. Always hand-test before using, especially when bathing children and infants. Leaving a child unsupervised in the bathroom, even if only for a second, could cause serious injuries. Your presence at all times is the best defense against accidents and scaldings to infants and young children.

Posted by Wes Diskin 

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5 Reasons Not to Install Your Own Water Heater

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013
  1. You may not select the right water heater for your needs and specifications.
    It’s not as simple as replacing a 30-gallon hot water heater with another 30-gallon model. There are thousands of sizes and options available today. Fuel source, energy efficiency, fast recovery, venting and anticipated demand must all be considered in order to determine the correct model.
  2. Local codes and ordinances may not permit self-installation.
    Regulations governing water heater installation vary by city. Professional contractors are familiar with the rules and regulations in each city they service.
  3. Installation requires materials and knowledge most homeowners don’t have on hand.
    Installation involves much more than just attaching a water line. A professional contractor arrives with all the fittings, pipes, parts, tools, venting materials and valves needed to install the job correctly the first time. Most also include removal and disposal of your old water.
  4. A professional contractor may be able to repair your hot water heater instead of replace it.
    If your hot water heater’s problem is diagnosed as a defective heating element or faulty valve, it can be fixed. A contractor’s experience is the difference between a minor repair and unnecessary investment in a new water heater.
  5. Contractors provide safety and security you can live with.
    Professional contractors are licensed and bonded to ensure your safety. Most provide warranties covering each installation. The local building authorities inspect all work, as required by code to protect your family’s health and safety

Posted by Wes Diskin

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