Friday, 26 August 2016

Home Maintenance Tips When Moving from Renting to Owning

It’s the dream of many to someday be a homeowner. Nobody is saying the house shopping, financing, and moving is easy, but there is a certain, “I’ve made it” factor to owning your own place. Looking back however, renting was a pretty cake gig, especially when you consider all the home maintenance responsibilities that now fall on your lap instead of a landlord or property management group. 

Home maintenance isn’t just fiddling around in the yard on the weekends. In fact, without proper maintenance you’ll decrease the lifespan of many of your home components and promote increased damage to the others. Nobody is saying you have to know how to frame a house or rewire your electrical system, but these home maintenance tips should be mandatory as you move from being a renter to an owner.

Changing HVAC Filter Get yourself acquainted with your furnace and air-conditioner filter really quick because you’re going to becoming close friends. In fact, depending on the filter type and the HVAC system manufacturer recommendations could be for swapping in a new piece as little as every 30 days. It may seem tedious, but you’ll want to change the filters often not only for improved breathing conditions in your home, but also to help lower heating and cooling bills and to expand the life span of your AC and furnace.

BLOGrentingtoowningCleaning Out Gutters 

Gutters might seem like they’re simply there for your convenience to effortlessly whisk water away from your path. The truth is, gutters that are clogged or malfunctioning can be a deathtrap. Consider the layout of your roof with eaves to collect water and send it to the gutters for safe dispersal. When that water can’t evacuate it piles up over the gutters and into the fascia. This rots the fascia boards and creates a hole that leads all the way down through the back of your siding. Not only that, the overflowing water settles around your foundation, eventually making it’s way into your basement causing flood damage.

Stop Air Loss 

You’ll want to constantly keep an eye out for air leaks as another way to lower your utility bills. Heated and cooled air most often seaps out via cracks near your windows and doors but can also escape through spots like an uninsulated attic or via inferior windows. Missing siding has kind of the same effect so always feel around for drafts in the house and make the corresponding repairs.

Tape Your Foundation Cracks 

Some maintenance doesn’t do anything but monitoring. Taping any cracks in your foundation is one such task. You tape these cracks to know whether they are ‘natural’ or are growing. Since you’ve just moved in, you don’t really know how the house has settled. If these cracks grow, you can fix the problem on your own terms instead of on that of gushing water into the basement.

Monitor and Document Bills 

There could be a multitude of areas driving up unnecessarily high utility costs such as low-efficiency lighting, running toilets or faucets, a bad HVAC thermostat, etc. Keep an eye on these bills and see if you can lower them – or perform maintenance if these costs suddenly start to rise.

Congratulations on becoming a homeowner…and good luck!



from
http://elitecomforthomeandcommercial.com/home-maintenance-tips-when-moving-from-renting-to-owning/

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Mid Summer A/C Maintenance Tips

Hopefully you’ve made it this far into the Summer with little to no fuss from your air-conditioner. Temps have been manageable as far as June and July go but we’re not quite out of the woods yet. As we all know late July, August, and sometimes even September can be the dog days of Summer that really wear us down – especially when we’re so close to a cool Autumn breeze. Now is the perfect time to make sure your A/C is buckled down for the home stretch with these mid-summer maintenance tasks.

BLOGacmaintenanceChange the A/C Filter

You can technically get by with changing the air-conditioner filters at the beginning of the Summer and they should be good for the whole season. If you live in a particularly dusty area (country back roads), are being irritated by allergens, or are noticing a lack of performance, changing the filter definitely doesn’t hurt.

Clean the A/C Fins

Your outdoor A/C unit has been exposed to 2-3 months of grass cutting and weed whipping and there’s a good chance the clippings (along with other debris) has found its way lodged into the fins thus impeding air flow. A quick squirt from the garden hose can free up a lot of this blockage. If you forgot about this step as part of your preseason maintenance, a special foaming fin cleaner can be used to remove grease and oil as well.

Clean the Interior of the Condenser/Compressor

When you spray the fins down with water, most of that debris will work its way inside the unit and may have the tendency to build up on the internal condenser and compressor components. Turn off the power to the unit (which you should do for all maintenance), remove the fan cage and suck out the debris with a wet-dry vac.

Fix any Crooked Fins

If your home serves as the neighborhood ball field during the Summer, chances are a foul ball or two has found its way towards the fins of your A/C unit. Bent fins can happen with reckless lawn tractor driving or even in heavy wind and rainstorms. These crooked fins block air flow and reduce efficiency but can be straightened in seconds with a butter knife or flat head screwdriver.

Tidy Up the Indoor Evaporator Components

While the majority of Summer debris will build up on the outdoor compressor unit, while you’re doing midterm maintenance it never hurts to give the evaporator components a quick work over. There is an evaporator coil door on the inside of the blower unit. Once again with the power off, wipe the debris off these coils with a soft brush and then gently spray the area with a safe evaporator cleaner. The cleaner works as a sealant to deflect debris but also has the added bonus of eliminating that wet, musty smell from all the moisture created thus far during the year.

Speaking of moisture, it has to drain somewhere which is why a free-flowing evaporator drain is so important. Algae and mold can build up in the drain line (especially if this preseason maintenance tip was glossed over as well) forcing water to back up onto the floor. You can clear the drain line by pushing (hot water and diluted bleach) or pulling (wet-dry vac).

Once again on the surface these all seem like pretty capable DIY jobs. If you’re at all uncomfortable with any component of your air-conditioner however it’s always best to bring in the pros. The money you spend for a service call can easily be recouped with lower utility bills the rest of the Summer and a fully-functioning A/C that will be primed and ready for next season before you know it.



from
http://elitecomforthomeandcommercial.com/mid-summer-ac-maintenance-tips/

Friday, 15 July 2016

Have You Considered a Mini-Split A/C System?

The middle of the Summer is hardly the time to be considering alternative air-conditioner solutions. After all, we’re on the home stretch of the hot weather (save for some traditional dog days in mid to late August). To be honest we could have another 2-3 months of air-conditioning left on the year and now is always a perfect time to explore any and all options of lowering your utility bills.

BLOGsplitacOf course adding a new system into the mix would seem counter intuitive to saving money but that’s exactly what a mini-split air-conditioner can do. They really are basically mini versions of a central air-conditioner which can be used to cool all or part of the home. Here are some reasons why the middle of the Summer might be the right time to consider a mini-split A/C:

What is a Mini Split System?

First things first, it’s best to know exactly what a mini split air-conditioner is before you contract an installation. The system works very much like a central air-conditioner in that there is a compressor and condenser unit installed on the exterior of your home. Instead of ducted ventilation however, copper tubing and electrical wiring are connected to an indoor air handler that looks like a small wall fan. Refrigerant is carried to this indoor air handling unit which pumps cool air across the fan and out into the room.

Why Install a Mini-Split System Now?

If you already have a central air conditioner that is properly sized for your home installing a mini-split system will probably be nothing more than overkill. However if you have added on to your home, or want to cool a garage or finished basement a mini-split could be the ultimate solution. They are easier to install and less evasive to run through the house than a central air system.

Mini split air conditioner systems can also be used to provide zone cooling. Each outdoor compressor can control four separate indoor air-handling units offering various levels of comfort in many areas of the home. If you’ve gone this far without A/C, a mini-split system and its ductless installation saves 30% on lost energy compared to a forced air central A/C. Mini-split systems can also be equipped with a heat pump so you’ll not only save now, but through the Winter as well.

Many people also install a small mini-split system to take some of the strain off their overworked central A/C system. If the initial calculations were wrong, more people moved into the house, windows or insulation are starting to fail, etc. your central air may not be working as efficiently as it once did. Giving it a ‘buddy’ so to speak in the form of a mini-split system will allow you to lower the workload for your central air and thus get maybe another 5-10 years out of it.

Installing a mini-split air conditioner is by no means mandatory or in some instances even recommended. It is something to consider however if your Summer utility bills aren’t where you need them to be.



from
http://elitecomforthomeandcommercial.com/have-you-considered-a-mini-split-ac-system/

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Size Does Matter. Is Your A/C Unit Properly Sized?

When it comes to air-conditioner size, the common notion would be that ‘bigger is better.’ We all know the risks of installing an A/C that is too small such as the unit cycling more frequently to try and meet temperature demands all the while driving up utility bills and shortening the life span of the blower, compressor, fan and other components. What some residential and commercial consumers alike might not be aware of is that an air-conditioner that is too large is harmful as well.

BLOGjulyACYou very much need to take a Goldilocks approach to finding an air-conditioner that is ‘just right.’ An oversized unit will cool the home or business quickly, thus turn off before it can truly ‘condition’ the air. Remember that an A/C is used not only to cool a room, but also to remove moisture and to dehumidify a space. When your air-conditioner is too large, moisture will remain in the room causing it to be very uncomfortable and prone to mold growth.

Finding the Right Size A/C 

So the threats of an improperly sized air-conditioner range from paying exorbitantly high utility bills or sitting in a moisture-rich space with mold all over the walls. Now that you understand the importance of finding the perfectly sized A/C, how do you go about measuring for it and shopping for it?

Luckily, there aren’t hundreds of options when it comes to air-conditioner size. The units are sold based on their tonnage, ranging from 1 ton to 5 ton for residential uses and up to 16 tons for commercial buildings. It should be noted that the tonnage isn’t the weight of the A/C, but rather a measurement of the amount of heat that can be removed from the home or business in an hour.

Air-Conditioners and BTU 

Really only the three things you need to understand when it comes to finding the right air-conditioner size is tons, BTU and square footage of your home or business. One British Thermal Unit (BTU) is equivalent to the amount of heat that would be produced if you burned a single match all the way through. 12,000 of these BTUs can be removed by one ton of air-conditioner capacity in an hour (1 ton = 12,000 BTUs) so a 3 ton unit could remove 36,000 BTUs and so on.

But how many BTUs exist in your space? There is an all-purpose equation to figure this out:

**(square footage of your home or business times 25, divided by 12,000) – 0.5 = recommended A/C tonnage**

So a 2,000 square foot home multiplied by 25 would give you 50,000. Divide 50,000 by 12,000 to get 4.16. Subtract the 0.5 and the recommendations would be 3.5 to 4 ton of air-conditioning capacity. You could get to that with a single 4 ton unit or a dual 2 ton unit. This is something commercial A/C prospects have to evaluate – how they get to the 10+ tons of air-conditioning capacity that is needed for larger spaces. Do they use single units, zoned systems, split-duct air-conditioners, etc.?

Finding Specific Air-Conditioner Size 

The equation for finding the correct A/C size is very generic however. Does a home in Maine need the same air-conditioning capacity as a home in Arizona? You still need to figure out the square footage that needs cooled but the accepted climate zones are as follows:

 

ac-usa-heat-map Unit-Size-Matters_CDDHDDSqFt

These will give you a better rough estimate for the air-conditioning capacity needed based on your climate. With the help of an air-conditioner contractor however you can go even more in-depth. Using calculations such as number of windows in your home, ceiling height, typical number of occupants, your ideal temperature and humidity settings, etc. we can find the air-conditioner that is truly your exact Goldilocks.

Contact us today for more information about calculating the exact specs for your new A/C unit. We can also inspect your existing unit to see if it is properly sized or if it is the root cause of high utility bills or a humid and uncomfortable space.



from
http://elitecomforthomeandcommercial.com/ac-unit-properly-sized/

Monday, 27 June 2016

4 Reasons Why Installing Home Insulation Is Not a DIY Job

On paper installing insulation in your home doesn’t sound like that hard of a job. By now you’ve heard how important it is to have an adequate barrier against the elements in your walls and attic so you might think that throwing in some insulation would be a good weekend project. Just know that many have come before you on this thought – and most of them regretted doing it themselves by the end.

BLOGjuneinsulationInstalling insulation is not only an inconvenience, if done incorrectly it can present a huge waste of investment. Some people have done more damage to their home during insulating, others have made no change in their utility bills, and even more people have become physically ill during the process. Here’s why insulating is another job you want to leave to the pros:

Opens Up Your Options 

For most DIY insulation jobs the homeowner would be installing the fiberglass batts. These come in a roll and are usually 15” wide to fit perfectly between wall studs. A select few homeowners who are a bit more mechanically inclined might choose to also rent an insulation blower for a blown-in barrier. A professional installer can do these as well as spray foam and some other specialty materials all with an expertise of their own equipment.

The Job is Done Correctly 

There’s more to just installing the insulation correctly, making sure it’s the right thickness and ensuring that all open gaps are covered. There’s also the aspect of choosing the correct R-Value, providing ventilation, installing any necessary moisture barriers, and sealing exterior gaps. They can also help acquire any permits that are needed and make sure the job fits your local building codes.

More Affordable 

It might sound like a no-brainer that doing work yourself is always going to be more affordable than hiring somebody. With insulation though you have to look at both the short-term and long-term cost savings. Since a professional insulation contractor can provide you more options, you have the ability to install spray foam or blown-in insulation that will last much longer and provide a more intense barrier than fiberglass batts. If you are retrofitting an insulation job, a professional can generally do so with less damage to drywall, trim, etc. that may otherwise require costly replacement. Professionals get the job done quicker because even if it’s your free time – your time is still money.

Convenience 

Perhaps the best reason to hire a professional for insulating your home is simply so you don’t have to. Fiberglass batts are some of the itchiest, most miserable pieces of material in the home renovation industry. DIYers will cough, itch, and lose sometimes multiple nights of sleep as the fibers are encrusted in your body, eyes, nose, and lungs. The pros have safety equipment that helps us do the job with minimal irritation.

Give us a call for more information on how an insulation upgrade can be of a huge benefit to the comfort of your home as well as your utility bills.



from
http://elitecomforthomeandcommercial.com/home-insulation-is-not-a-diy-job/

Monday, 20 June 2016

Can You Get Legitimate Savings By Implementing Green Plumbing Solutions?

“Going green” in your home isn’t just a fad anymore. It’s a mindset, a mentality, and a requirement. What homeowner wouldn’t want to lower their utility bills while also lessening their carbon footprint on the environment? There are obvious areas where eco-friendly renovations can have big savings such as with an energy-efficient HVAC system and with Energy Star appliances and lighting. Despite the fact that water bills are 25% or more of your utility bills, some people are still on the fence about the effectiveness of green plumbing.

BLOGjuneplumbingThe savings are real however.

Energy Efficient Water Heater (10-50% less energy)

When you think of being eco-friendly with your plumbing, the first assumption is cutting water use. Don’t forget the energy involved to heat and deliver that water however, specifically the water heater. Water heaters perform a unique job in that they’re waiting in the bullpen, so to speak, to deliver hot water. They are using energy to heat and store water even when you’re not at home and the faucets are off. An upgrade here can have huge savings.

Insulate Pipes ($12-$24 savings a year)

Insulating your pipes may only save you $1 or $2 per month but it’s an easy project with a minimal cost. If you string 6-7 of these types of projects together the savings only rise and the strain on your plumbing system is lowered.

Low Flow Showers and Faucets (reduce water usage by up to 60%)

It’s hard to call using water in the home a waste because we need it – but do we need that much of it? Installing low flow showers still gives you enough water to get clean. Low flow faucets still provide a source large enough to do dishes, brush your teeth, wash your hands, etc. all while spending less.

Low Flow Toilets (2X – 5X less water used)

Each person in your household uses about 28 gallons of water on the toilet alone. Since an outhouse isn’t a pleasant option in the city, low flow toilets are nearly a necessity.

Energy Efficient Dishwashers and Washing Machines (reduce water consumption by 50%)

It’s not just sinks, showers, and toilets that use water in your home. Upgrading to Energy Star dishwashers and washing machines can provide incredible savings since they are also used so frequently.

The reason that going green is a mindset and not just a process is because each person in the home can increase the savings by using water responsibly. Turning off the water when you brush your teeth can save 8 gallons a day, doing only full loads of laundry can save up to 50 gallons a load, shortening your shower by a minute or two can save 2 gallons, etc.

Give us a call for more information on the installation of these energy and money saving appliances.



from
http://elitecomforthomeandcommercial.com/green-plumbing-solutions/

Monday, 13 June 2016

How to Operate Your Air-Conditioner During Intense Heat

As the warm weather approaches it’s important to decipher the differences between “warm” and “blazing hot.” Obviously the reason we have an air-conditioner installed in the first place is to stay cool as the temps rise. In a kind of ironic turn however, when the mercury starts rising to the mid 90° level it’s time to run your air-conditioner as responsibly as possible.

BLOGjuneACCool Down Your Outdoor Unit 

When heat waves are present your outdoor unit is busting it’s compressor trying to keep up with the demand. Like an overheated marathon runner, it doesn’t hurt to spray down your outdoor unit with the hose every so often just to give it some cool relief.

Keep Your Air-Conditioner In the Shade

One way to permanently keep your A/C at least somewhat cooler is to provide it with shade. This can come in the form of an awning overtop or some well placed bushes and trees but you’d be surprised the difference that’s made when the sun isn’t constantly beating down on the hard-working exterior unit. Just remember to leave enough room for the A/C to breathe.

Take a Load Off Your Thermostat When Not at Home 

Granted you want to come home to a chilly area at night but leaving your A/C running on high all day long is a very unnecessary drain on the system that will result in extremely high utility bills. Not only that, you’re drawing resources from the power company to your vacant property whereas others in the community may be running a daycare or sleeping during the day because of their night job.

Utilize Alternative and Secondary Cooling Methods 

Give your A/C some backup in the form of a ceiling fan that can assist in circulating air. Even putting a fan out on your deck may help you enjoy the warm outdoors thus negating the need for the A/C to run on high indoors.

Don’t Use Stoves or Microwaves

It probably goes without saying but you shouldn’t make a warm area warmer by running the oven/stovetop/microwave or other heat generating appliances. Nobody really wants a hot meal when it’s hot outside so a heat wave presents a great opportunity for eating out and soaking up somebody else’s A/C – it may even be cheaper than running your own at peak hours.

Use Fans and Open Windows at Night

The nightfall should provide you a little break from the high temps so use it as an opportunity to give your A/C a pause as well. Open up your windows at night and use a fan for some of the best sleeping conditions.

Make Sure the Unit Has Proper Maintenance

Your air-conditioner is going to be busting it’s hump all Summer long so make sure it’s prepped and ready to go with proper maintenance. With new filters and a clean compressor your unit will be ready to take on the triple digits – and it can help you avoid costly repairs and downtime in the middle of a heat wave.



from
http://elitecomforthomeandcommercial.com/how-to-operate-your-air-conditioner-during-intense-heat/