Browse Month: March 2018

This is a crazy storm

This has been quite an interesting winter. It actually hasn’t been very cold at all. We normally get snowstorms throughout the winter, but since it’s still too warm for snow, we’ve been getting hurricane-like weather instead. It’s very bizarre. I’m sure it has to do with climate change. I would not say I am complaining though. I am enjoying not having to shovel snow for now and drive in icy conditions, but the crazy wind, rain, and sleet has been a little scary. The other day, we had a major storm come through with wind gusts over 50 miles per hour that knocked down trees and powerlines. The wind was so bad, that it actually managed to flip over the outdoor unit of my air conditioner. I found it the next morning completely toppled over. I immediately called an HVAC technician to assess the damage. Luckily, he said there were no leaks in any of the lines and all of the air conditioner components appear to be in tact and working well. Once he re-positioned the air conditioner, he turned on the system and waited for about 20 minutes to make sure it was still working. Fortunately, everything appeared to be working with the A/C. It looks like I’ll need to buy hurricane straps for my air conditioner from now on! I never thought I would need to worry about wind like this in the northeast. I was really lucky this time, but it could have been much worse. This crazy winter storm could have destroyed my air conditioner completely.  

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I’m not going to think about it

I live in a 2 bedroom apartment in a decent part of town. I am very fortunate to have an apartment for rent that includes electricity and water. I only have to pay my own internet and cable bill. Of course, no one uses cable anymore, so I only have internet. The summer gets extremely hot here so I am basically running the air conditioner all day long. I am surprised that the landlord is okay with paying the electricity bill for all of his tenants because we all use the air conditioner so much and don’t even think about it! He is pretty old though and really set in his ways, so I don’t see that changing anytime soon. The thing is, he could be saving so much money if he would just pay to change the air filters on the air conditioners every once in a while. He never changes our air filters and since we’re not paying for running the air conditioner, we don’t bother to change them either. This year, I finally decided to just change the air conditioner filter on my own because I could tell that the A/C wasn’t running very efficiently. If the air conditioner broke down, it would probably take a few days for an HVAC repair technician to come in and fix it, and I didn’t want to risk that. After I changed out the air filters, I let my landlord know that I paid for it on my own. Not that I want him to reimburse me for the cost, but just to let him know how much more efficient air conditioners are if the air filters are changed every couple months. His electricity bills would be so much lower if he did this in all 4 apartments he owns.

space heater 

This is very warm and comfortable

In the northeast we are use to some cold weather in the winter.  There is always that day or two that are the coldest of the whole winter.  Well this past winter our furnace decided to give out on one of those coldest days.  We woke to a chilly house and after fiddling with the thermostat without any luck in raising the house temperature, I decided to call my local HVAC company for a service call.  Luckily they were able to send someone out that same day. We waited on the sofa all bundled up in a down comforter wearing several layers of clothing. I had even decided to make my famous chilli to help heat up the kitchen at least.  Not long after the chilli was simmering away on the stove, the HVAC serviceperson arrived to repair our furnace. It did not take him long to discover that the problem was with the thermocouple and it would need to be replaced. He had one on his truck and it only took him less than an hour or so to install.  He told us that he also did a good cleaning or our heating unit which would help keeping it working smoothly. Shortly after he was finished with the repair, we would feel warm air streaming from all our air ducts. We didn’t realize just how cold our house had become until we started to feel the warm air. The house was soon warm and comfortable.  We enjoyed a bowl of my famous chili in our warm and toasty home.

HVAC supplier 

A new central air system

My life partner and I purchased an old victorian home near downtown a few years ago.  We knew it was a fixer upper but felt we were ready for the challenge. It was a beautiful three story home with tons of old victorian style.  We soon learned that it also had a great deal of old furnace and no air conditioning system. We struggle through our first winter wearing a sweater around the house and covering up with a throw while watching TV on the sofa.  The old house had many cold spots that our furnace could not seem to heat. The summer turned out to be almost as uncomfortable. The house did not have central air and we had to use several window AC units to cool down a few rooms:  the bedroom and the living room. It was the hottest day of the summer when we decided we had had enough and called out a local HVAC company to give us a quote on a completely new heating and central air conditioning system. The old furnace was a gas forced air system and the sales rep told us that they come most likely use the existing duct work for the central air.  We decided on a good system and in just a couple days the HVAC company came out to install our new units. The furnace was a very energy efficient system and should save us a ton on our gas bills. The air conditioning system was state of the art and would really make a difference on those hot humid days. Now we had an old home with a very new HVAC system. Life is good!

energy efficient heater 

I am worrying about my air conditioner

I have lived for many years in the south, but recently I decided to give up the heat and humidity and move to the northeast to be closer to my daughter and grandchildren.  My daughter had said that the transition from the hot south to the cold north was a bit difficult but she loved the changing of the seasons. She helped me find a little house not from her and soon I was all moved in and ready for my new life adventure. The fall season in the northeast was incredible:  beautiful colors and crisp cool mornings. It was most enjoyable! But winter was soon to arrive and it hit me like a ton of bricks or blocks of ice maybe. We had rarely needed to run the furnace in the south. It would get cool at night but would warm up the next day. Now it was down right cold! My daughter recommended that I have my whole HVAC system checked out so there would not be any surprises during the winter.  A very nice serviceman came out and looked over my furnace as well as my AC unit. He reported that all was in good working order but had done some cleaning to keep everything running smoothly. He recommended adding a humidifier to the furnace to make the air in the house more comfortable and even healthier to breathe. I thought this was a great idea and he quickly installed my new humidifier. I loved the fact that I did not have to worry about my furnace all winter.  I did enjoy making snow angels with my grandchildren and then coming inside to a nice warm home for some hot chocolate.

superior comfort 

Energy storage

As a planet-conscious young person, I am always very interested in finding new ways to cut down on my carbon footprint. The least amount of damage I can do to the environment, the better. And this is not even because I am a tree hugger, far from it. Any damage to the environment does not really hurt the planet, just the people living on it. This is a giant rock older than time itself, it will be fine. But we the people may not be! So I am careful about the environment just to prolong the lives of me and my family. Which is one of the many reasons I invested in a geothermal heat pump for our home. I have actually been wanting a geothermal heat pump for a few years now, but the price is pretty high so it took a while to save up. But I knew it would be worth it, and it really is, I can run the heating and cooling at my house for a mere fraction of what I used to pay. The geothermal heat pump pulls energy right out of the earth, and uses it to power your electrical grid, as well as storing additional energy in storage cells. I run my water boiler, my HVAC system, and everything else in the house for so much less it’s ridiculous. And the energy is as Earth-friendly as it comes, so I don’t have to feel guilty for running my air conditioning so much. I recommend anyone who can afford it to get a geothermal heat pump.

superior comfort 

These renters are horrible

I own and manage an apartment house, and my renters drive me totally crazy.  While I do my best to maintain the apartments in good condition, there is constantly little problems to handle.  It would be helpful if my renters were a bit more conscientious and ambitious. I constantly deal with clogged drains, leaking pipes, blown fuses, and HVAC issues.  I’ve carefully insulated, weatherstripped, and caulked to eliminate energy waste, and yet the renters frequently leave windows wide open while running the heating or cooling system.  They are incapable of changing air filters or adjusting the thermostat to conserve energy. I’ve already called in an HVAC contractor for repairs, only to discover that the problem is nothing more than a clogged  the air filter, blown fuse, or dead batteries in the thermostat. I am very tempted to install a smart thermostat and deny the renters access to it. I’m sure the renters wouldn’t be happy but I think that we’d both save money.  The renters would benefit from lower utility bills, and I’d avoid needless repair and maintenance costs. I wouldn’t abuse the air conditioner and furnace by operating them at maximum capacity at all times. Although, setting a reasonable temperature on the thermostat can’t combat wide open windows when the outside temperature is thirty degrees.  I’ve now gotten to the point that whenever I take on a new renter, I force them to listen to a long tutorial on how to properly operate the HVAC system. I show them how to change air filters, how to run the dehumidifier, and even supply new batteries for the thermostat. It’s extremely frustrating that my renters are unwilling to take better care of the heating and cooling equipment.

cooling equipment 

The AC equipment

I am in the doghouse again, friends. I mean that literally. I am not in trouble with my wife, I am literally typing this blog into my phone while sitting inside the biggest dog house you have ever seen. It has been an ongoing project for the last few months. Truth be told I could have been done with it a couple of weeks ago but I have really started to enjoy the peace and quiet I get out here. The dogs are all chill, they leave me alone, so it is really the one place I can have some quiet time to myself. I just wish the place had air conditioning. But selling my wife on the idea of putting climate control into the dog house is a tall order. I think I may try and convince her that it is a good idea to put some heating into the dog’s house. We do get cold snaps once or twice a year and it would be nice for our doggies to have some heating inside this big old dog house. And then if she agrees to the heating, then it won’t be a problem to just install an HVAC system instead, one that allows for both heating and cooling, and she would never know. That way I could keep stealing away in here whenever I wanted, and just switch on the AC whenever I was inside. I doubt the dogs would care, and they might even enjoy the extra cooling once in a while. Who knows, it’s worth a shot!

temperature control 

I want to flip houses

Retirement has been working out very well for me. Some people miss getting up and going to work every day, but not me. I like sleeping in, reading the paper, having a coffee, and playing with my dogs more than I ever liked going to work. But when a friend called me up with an interesting opportunity to work part time and make a few bucks under the table, I jumped at the chance. Turns out that working is a lot more fun when you can set your own hours. My friend has regularly turned a profit from flipping hours, but he realized he needed to have an HVAC systems expert to advise him. When buying a house, fixing it up, and re-selling it, he had repeatedly had problems evaluating and repairing the heating and cooling systems for the houses, and it was costing him money. So now when he was deciding whether or not to invest in a house or not, he would call me in to inspect the central heating and cooling systems for him. In just a few minutes I can tell him if the furnace works well, or if the AC will need to be upgraded or replaced any time soon. HVAC systems are so complex and complicated he was not a good judge of them, and they were so expensive that a bad air conditioner or air duct system could make the difference between a profitable house and a money pit. With my trained eye he could not spot a bad climate control system in enough time to save himself a bad investment.

Losing my air conditioner

Every year my wife and I like to take a long vacation. Instead of taking little breaks here and there, we both will work diligently through the entire year, never missing a day, so we can cash in all that paid leave for one really long, nice chunk of time off. This year we went overseas, rented a chalet in the European mountains, and spent a lot of time skiing and snowboarding. To say it was rad would be an understatement. We had three whole weeks free to do whatever we wanted, or nothing at all. Coming back home was sort of a drag, and when we found out our home HVAC system had broken while we were gone it made everything worse. I guess the thermostat had shut itself off soon after we left, and the intense humidity of the summer had done some damage inside the house. Without the AC to regulate the air quality, and the dehumidifier in the system to remove the excess moisture, there was now a lot of mildew on the walls. Three weeks with no HVAC had turned our home into a muggy sauna, with the perfect climate conditions to grow mildew and mold. What a mess, now not only did we need the services of an HVAC contractor, we also needed to clean the entire house. After paying for the climate control repairs, we decided next time to get ourselves a house sitter while we were gone. The HVAC system repairs cost us almost as much as our long European vacation had!

HVAC contractor