Making Your Fuel Oil Burning Furnace As Energy Efficient As Possible

In many rural areas within the northeast U.S., some homeowners utilize fuel oil as their main source of heat. This is because there is limited access to a natural gas supply in these locations. If the furnace that heats your entire home runs off of fuel oil, there are certain measures that you can take to ensure that the unit stays safe and efficient. Here are some things that you can do to get the most out of your fuel oil furnace.

Annual Maintenance

Fuel oil furnaces can be expensive to run. Not only do you have to pay the higher cost of the heating oil itself, but delivery can be expensive, especially if you don’t fill your entire holding tank up when a delivery is made. There is also routine upkeep with a fuel oil furnace. It’s important to make sure that you conduct annual maintenance of your fuel oil furnace so it runs properly during the bitter cold months. Call an HVAC specialist who works on oil burning furnaces to check to make sure that everything is working properly. Some things to consider include:

  • Vent dampers
  • Barometric flue damper
  • Burner replacement
  • Derating the furnace nozzle

Vent dampers need to be checked during routine inspections. Vents frequently accumulate with unwanted soot that can cause a blockage or make the unit work overtime. This can be dangerous and allow carbon monoxide to accumulate inside your home. In addition, a flame retention burner can help stop airflow when the unit is not in use—this can help keep energy costs under control.

A barometric flue damper can also help properly control air flow in the chimney. It detects air pressure and opens and closes as needed—helping to make the furnace work effectively.

Making sure the burner is working effectively is important. If it isn’t firing or holding heat properly, it needs to be replaced.

Derating means replacing the old nozzle with a new one that uses lower gallons of fuel per hour. Upgrading to a nozzle that allows the minimal amount of fuel through prevents fuel usage waste and reduces stress on your furnace unit.

Replacing your furnace filter every three to six months can also help improve the function of your oil furnace and aid in better air quality throughout your home.

Cleaning Ductwork

One of the main culprits of an oil furnace that doesn’t work effectively is a dirty buildup of soot and debris within the duct work. Having a professional duct cleaning contractor clean your ductwork and ventilation system throughout your home can help improve the airflow into each room. This also disinfects your ductwork and can reduce allergens and dust accumulation that would otherwise go into the air inside your home.

Weatherproofing Your Home

Make sure your home is properly sealed and weatherproofed before the cold weather hits. Preventing unwanted airflow and keeping your home free of air drafts will reduce furnace usage. Some helpful tips include:

  • Caulking gaps around windows and doors
  • Adding weatherstripping foam strips around doors
  • Placing clear plastic around drafty windows
  • Installing insulating blinds and curtains
  • Adding insulation to your home’s walls, attic and basement area

Making your home airtight can reduce both heat and electric usage.

When your oil furnace is burning efficiently there is less of a need for an additional heating source such as wood or electric heat. You can also save money and enjoy a warm and clean indoor environment. For more information on making your oil furnace more effective, contact a company like Cash Oil.

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3 Tips For Building Your Own Lakeside Dock

No lakeside cottage is complete without a dock to relax on. If you are a DIY-oriented homeowner looking to build your own dock, there are a few things you should be aware of to make sure your project is successful. Here are three tips that can help you build the dock you’ve always wanted.

Always Use Treated Lumber

As a permanently waterbound structure, your dock will need to have excellent resistance to moisture damage. No amount of waterproofing will compare to purchasing treated lumber. In addition to preventing splitting and rotting, treated lumber is easier to cut, reducing your workload.

Even when you are using treated lumber, it is a good idea to apply a sealer to your dock at least once a year. This will renew the moisture barrier of the wood, ensuring that your dock is protected from rot and has the longest possible life span.

Remember to Create Enough Freeboard

Freeboard is the term for the height of your dock above the surface of the water. Creating enough freeboard is just as important as the surface area and shape of your dock. If you do not have enough freeboard, one end of the dock could begin to dip under water when it is under heavy load, and the entire dock could potentially flip.

The amount of flotation and the weight of the wood that you use will determine how much freeboard your dock has. If you are still in the planning stages, you should choose to use a lighter wood, such as cedar, to have as much freeboard as possible. If you have already chosen a type of wood to work with, keep increasing the size of your floatation drums until you are satisfied with the amount of freeboard your dock has.

Choose a Dock Layout Based on Your Needs

Many homeowners envision a large patio dock with enough room for two to four chairs and a small table. However, there are several different configurations to choose from that could save time and effort while still being functional.

If you are primarily interested in a fishing dock, a T-shape configuration could be an excellent choice. While this shape may not have as much space to kick back and relax, there is still enough room for some folding chairs, a friend or two, and your tackle boxes.

Building a dock is a rewarding DIY project that any homeowner would be proud of. Keep these tips in mind when you are building your dock and you will be enjoying lakeside relaxation very soon. For more information, speak with experts like Abbott’s Construction Services Inc.

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4 Reasons To Clean Your Dryer Vent System

The lint in your dryer does not only accumulate in the lint filter. Despite having a good filter, lint still ends up in the vent. A buildup of lint could prove to be a dangerous situation for your household. Here are some reasons you need to schedule a thorough cleaning of your dryer vent system. 

Saves Money

As your dryer vent system fills with lint, it impacts the efficiency of the dryer. As time passes, your dryer will be forced to work harder to dry your clothes. It could take more than one spin through the dryer to get dry clothes. 

As a result, your energy bills will rise. Since your dryer is most likely one of the most used appliances in your home, the rise in your bill could be significant. 

Your dryer will also wear down quicker since it has to work harder. This can result in a shortened lifespan and the need to buy a new dryer sooner rather than later. 

Removes Fire Hazard

An accumulation of lint in your dryer vent system is a fire hazard. According to the United States Fire Administration, 2,900 dryer fires occur each year. Over 30 percent of those fires are the result of failing to properly clean the lint from the vent system. 

As the lint builds up in your dryer,  it obstructs the flow of hot air from the dryer. As a result, the hot air starts to heat up the built-up lint, which is very flammable. Over time, the lint can actually catch on fire, which could lead to significant property damage and injuries. 

Lowers Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Risk

Another risk that occurs with built-up lint in the vent system is a chance of carbon monoxide poisoning. The blockage in the system from the lint can push carbon monoxide fumes back into the home. 

This could prove to be particularly dangerous if your home is not equipped with a carbon monoxide monitor to help detect the presence of the gas.

Prevents Mold Spreading

In addition to heat being trapped in your vent, moisture can also accumulate. The moist lint can encourage the growth of mold, which can then spread into your home. The affected air quality could prove particularly hazardous to people in your household who suffer from breathing disorders.

If you are unable to clean the dryer vent system yourself, contact a professional such as Restoration Klean. Ideally, your system should be thoroughly cleaned twice a year.

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All Dried Up: How To Install A Whole-House Humidifier To Add Moisture Back Into Your Home

The dry indoor air that results from winter’s cold, dry weather and your home’s furnace can lead to a variety of discomforts. Many people suffer from persistent dry skin, bronchitis and even increased instances of cold and flu in the dry air. A study published in the Public Library of Science indicates that indoor humidity levels of 40 percent or greater can actually help reduce the spread of viruses. If you want to help improve the humidity levels in your house, here are some tips to install a whole-house humidifier on your forced air system.

Mounting the Humidifier

You’ll need to find a space to mount the humidifier unit that’s directly next to the furnace. Choose an open space on the wall where you can place it without obstructing anything or having anything else in its way. That way, you can easily get to it when you need to. Use the mounting screws provided with the humidifier to secure it to the wall.

Connecting it to the Duct

Pull any insulation away from the outer surface of the air duct. Then, use the hole template provided with the humidifier to mark and cut a hole in the duct. You can mark it easiest with a grease or chalk pencil. It’s usually easiest to do this by drilling a pilot hole into the duct so that you can cut the hole with tin snips.

Install the Steam Wand

Use self-tapping metal screws to attach the steam wand to the duct. Make sure that the screws are tightened enough to keep it in place. Then, connect the steam hose to the open end of the wand by pushing it into place. Connect the remaining end of the steam hose to the humidifier. It should slide over the hose outlet. You might want to use cable ties or a hose clamp to lightly secure it. Attach the drain hose to the drain outlet on the humidifier unit. The hose just slips over the outlet.

Run the Water Pipe

Attach a copper drain pipe to the drain outlet, then run that pipe to the floor drain or your basement’s sump pump. Shut off the water to the supply line that you’re going to use for the water to the humidifier, then cut the pipe with copper pipe cutters.

Solder a “T” shaped fitting into the pipe to add an outlet for cold water to the humidifier. Screw a copper water line to the “T” fitting’s outlet, then connect it to the water inlet on the humidifier. Restore the water flow and make sure there are no leaks.

Supply Power

If you don’t already have an electrical line that you can wire the humidifier to, talk with a local electrician to run new wire directly to the humidifier. It’s best that you have a professional do this to ensure that it is done according to the electrical code.

Set the Humidity Levels

Set the maximum humidity level you want in the house on the high-limit humidity switch. This tells the system how much humidity is too much. Then, set the actual humidistat to the level of humidity you want and the system should start to run.

As you can see, installing a humidifier is easier than you might think. If you’re not comfortable doing any part of this process on your own, an HVAC technician can help you. For more information, contact Lakeside Heating & A/C Inc. or a similar company.

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Get Your HVAC System Ready For Summer

You may still be using the furnace now, but it won’t be long before you’ll be switching to the AC. With spring just around the corner, it’s time to prepare your HVAC system for warmer temperatures and regular AC use. By getting a jump-start on your AC repair and maintenance, you can take control of your home’s indoor climate and ensure your own comfort throughout the warmer weather ahead. 

Schedule Your Tune Up

Call the HVAC repair person in the late winter or early spring to schedule your AC tune up appointment. Doing this early in the year, before the temperatures have become consistently warmer, will help to ensure that your AC repair person will be available on your schedule. You may even enjoy some slow-season discounts, as prices on AC repair can be more competitive when AC repair people aren’t as busy. 

Protect Your Condenser with Smart Landscaping

Soon you’ll be starting your spring landscaping, and when you do, it’s important to build-in special measures to protect your air conditioning condenser. Two things that you can provide for your air conditioning condenser to help it run and function at its best:

  • Shade cover
  • Air flow

Keep all shrubs and plants at least two feet away from the condenser to allow adequate air flow around the unit. To prevent weeds from growing in the bare space around the unit, lay down heavy rock mulch. Avoid using wood mulch, as it can create debris that will clog the fins of the condenser.

To provide your unit with shade cover, install a wall of tall shrubs just beyond the mulch, or install an attractive fence to hide the condenser and protect it from the sun’s rays. With well-planned landscaping, your air conditioner will be properly protected.

Replace the Air Filter

Your HVAC system’s air filter should be replaced every 90 days or more often. Since your furnace and AC use the same air filter, you should plan to replace the air filter as soon as the winter is over. This will ensure that the spent filter your furnace has been using will be thrown out and the AC will have a fresh filter this spring.  

These preparations will help to ensure that your AC unit will be up to the task of cooling your home when temperatures rise. For more tips, speak with your AC repair professional from places like Davis Repair Service when he or she arrives for the tune up. 

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The Myths That Surround A Hail Damage Insurance Claim

As a homeowner, the roof above your home is extremely important to care for. This is because the roof keeps the weather outside and even helps to keep your home insulated. Unfortunately, roofing can be expensive, which is why you need to be sure that you have insurance to help cover the cost of damage that may be caused to your roofing system, especially hail damage. There are many myths that surround hail damage and insurance claims, which is why you need the facts so you can better understand filing a hail damage claim with your insurance company:

Myth One: No Missing Shingles Indicates No Damage

After a hail storm, you want to inspect your roof for damage. During this inspection, many homeowners think they need to check for missing shingles and if there aren’t any, then they believe that no damage has been done. However, missing shingles are caused by wind, not by hail. Hail can cause leaks in the roof from small indentations in the roof that they leave behind.

Myth Two: You Only Have a Year to File a Claim

Most of the time, obvious signs of hail damage are not noticed right away, which worries homeowners since they believe they only have a year to file a claim. However, in cases where a hail storm has hit a wide region, then insurance companies typically extend the amount of time that you have to file your claim.

Myth Three: Hail Damage Is Covered by Roof Warranty

Homeowners who have recently had a new roof installed believed that hail damage will be covered under their roof’s warranty. However, typically, roofing warranties specify that they do not cover hail damage. You should do a thorough check of your warranty to be sure that you really do not have to file a claim in order to receive coverage for damage caused by hail. 

Myth Four: If You Don’t File, Your Rates Won’t Increase

One reason homeowners do not file for hail damage is because they believe it will increase their insurance rates. However, in the case of a disaster that has hit a wide region, insurance companies will raise everyone’s rates in order to cover the damage costs. This means that if you do not file, your rates will still rise and you will be paying for everyone else’s damage except your own.

By knowing the facts that surround these myths about roof insurance claims, you can better understand what you need to do after a hail storm.

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Is Your Air Conditioner Struggling To Keep Your Condo Cool? Here’s How To Clean Indoor Coils

If it doesn’t seem like your air conditioner is keeping your condo as cool as it should, it might be due to a clogged filter and dirty coils. Fixing this problem is an easy DIY job that you should do on a regular preventative basis, so your air conditioner works more efficiently. Of course, there are other things that can cause your air conditioner to stop chilling the air, and if you have faulty parts, you’ll need to call a qualified contractor like http://www.cblucashvac.com to make the repairs. However, you may prevent a service call by checking the state of your coils and filter first. This is how you do it.

Remove The Panel

You’ll need to remove the panel to your HVAC system. This is usually as simple as moving the latches that hold it in place. The filter is located behind the panel, so it is made to be opened easily. When you take the panel off, have a look at the vents that run along it. If they are filled with dust bunnies, be sure to clean them out before you put the panel back on.

Once the panel is removed, you’ll immediately see your HVAC filter. You’ll probably see a bunch of dust and debris collected in the cracks and valleys around the opening to your HVAC system too. All this needs to be cleaned out, so it doesn’t clog your filter.

Replace The Filter

You should replace your HVAC filter every one or two months. If you’re not sure how often to replace it, just pull it out and look at it every now and then. When it starts to look clogged with dust, you want to put in a new one. The filter sits on top of the air conditioner coils, and it protects them from dust and debris. If the filter isn’t performing well, the coils get dirty, and your air conditioner doesn’t keep your condo cool. Throw out the old filter and put in a new once you’ve cleaned the coils.

Clean The Coils

After you pull out the filter, you’ll see the coils. If they’re dirty, you may be looking at something that resembles a dusty, hairy rug. If you wipe off the mat of hairs, be sure to follow the directions of the fins on the coils. If you don’t, you might bend them and create an obstruction that gives you even more problems. The easiest way to clean your coils is to buy an evaporating coil cleaner at the home improvement store. All you have to do is spray it on and let it work. As water condenses on the coils, the spray is automatically rinsed off. While you want to get rid of dust and hair, your coils don’t have to be sparkling clean. It’s likely they will be discolored or stained, especially if they are old. You don’t have to scrub off the stains, just remove debris that could cause an obstruction.

Vacuum The Inside

The last step is to use the crevice tool on your vacuum to suck out all the dust and hair you see. Remember, all you remove to do this task is the outer panel that allows access to the filter and coils. You do not remove the inner panel that covers the electrical and mechanical workings of your air conditioner. That should only be done by a contractor. The dust you remove is what builds up along the seams where the outer panel fits, as well as what is shaken loose when you change the filter. The dirt that is shed along with the evaporating spray will slide into the drain pain and be passed out through the system. You’ll never need to work with the internal parts of your HAVC to keep the filter and coils clean and working properly.

After you’ve cleaned your air conditioner, you’ll hopefully notice it is chilling the air once again. If not, you could have a problem that requires professional air conditioning repair such as a malfunctioning thermostat, capacitor, or condenser.

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