Heat and Humidity: Finding the Balance in Your House

Heat and Humidity: Finding the Balance in Your HouseCooler temperatures during the winter months mean that the heating system in your San Diego home stays busy. While this helps you stay warm, it can lead to uncomfortable indoor humidity levels. Find out how to keep your home heated while also preventing it from becoming too dry due to low humidity.

Problems with Low Levels

When the air inside your home becomes too dry, it can cause a number of issues. You might experience more respiratory problems or end up with skin that cracks from excess dryness. Low levels can also affect your belongings. When indoor air is too dry, wood floors, leather furniture, and other materials can develop cracks.

Problems with High Levels

While it’s crucial to prevent air from becoming too dry in your home during winter, making it too humid can also lead to trouble. High levels can promote the growth of mold and mildew, which increases your risk of having health problems, especially if you have an underlying respiratory condition, such as asthma. Mold and mildew can also damage your home.

Balancing Humidity Levels

You can maintain comfortable humidity levels in your home with the help of a humidifier. These devices add or remove moisture inside your home as needed, which prevents indoor air from becoming too dry or too moist.

  • Portable humidifiers can be moved to areas that need more moisture in winter, but keep in mind that you might need to invest in more than one if you have multiple parts of your home that are too dry. You also have to be careful to keep it clean and change the water in it regularly to prevent mold growth.
  • Whole-house humidifiers are installed inside homes in order to control humidity levels. These systems draw on plumbing to add moisture, so you don’t have to worry about changing or adding water to them. A whole-house humidifier is a good option if your entire home gets too dry in the winter months.

If you need more information on humidifiers for your San Diego home, please contact Sherlock Heating & Air Conditioning.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Diego and San Marcos, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “Clker-Free-Vector-Images/Pixabay”

Considering Improving Your Home’s IAQ With UV Lights? Here’s What You Need to Know

Considering Improving Your Home's IAQ With UV Lights? Here's What You Need to KnowWhile your air filter cleans the air inside your house, UV lights actually sterilize it. Factors that degrade indoor air quality include inorganic particulates like dust or lint fibers that you can actually see floating around and settling on surfaces inside the house. A quality air filter, ideally changed every month, helps keep these particulates to a minimum. However, what about the stuff you can‘t see? Living microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria, and mold spores are invisible to the naked eye. However, these airborne pathogens can cause health effects including allergic reactions in susceptible individuals.

Air filtration doesn’t neutralize microorganisms. In fact, these contaminants may thrive and breed inside HVAC filters, continuing to disperse throughout your house through the system’s normal air circulation. UV lights installed inside the ductwork decontaminate the system airflow by neutralizing common microorganisms. The technology is nothing new: the germicidal effect of ultraviolet wavelengths of light has been used for over a hundred years in hospitals to disinfect the indoor environment as well as sterilize surgical instruments. Many municipal water treatment facilities also utilize ultraviolet light technology to enhance disinfection of the public water supply.

Here’s what you need to know to make an informed decision about adding UV lights to your HVAC system;

  • A UV light is typically a small tube like a fluorescent light bulb that is installed by an HVAC technician inside your HVAC ductwork. All air passing through the duct is exposed to the sterilizing effect of the light.
  • UV lights may also be added at certain system components that tend to breed toxic mold or bacteria, such as the A/C evaporator coil enclosed in the indoor air handler. Continuous exposure to ultraviolet light prevents growth of these contaminants.
  • Most UV light bulbs are rated at just 36 watts and thus consume little electricity.
  • UV light destroys microorganisms by neutralizing the reproductive process. These ultraviolet wavelengths are also present in natural sunlight and have no effect on humans.

Ask the professionals at Sherlock Heating & Air Conditioning for more information about the benefits of UV lights to enhance indoor air quality.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Diego and San Marcos, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “geralt/Pixabay”

Bundling Up Your Water Heater During Winter Cold Spells

Bundling Up Your Water Heater During Winter Cold SpellsMost homeowners think about their water heaters when they develop problems. Obviously, that’s too late because you’ll not only have to spend money on repairs but also put up with cold showers. Prepare your water heater for the cold season by taking the following steps.

  • Turn off the water valve — Start by shutting off the water valve then the gas valve of a gas water heater. Unplug an electric water heater from its power outlet.
  • Drain the tank — Connect an ordinary garden hose to the heater’s drain then open the drain valve. Direct the water to a nearby floor drain or bucket. After emptying the tank, open all faucets and sillcocks outside.
  • Make an adaptor — A compressor that’s set to 40 pounds per square inch (psi) will help prevent your pipes from bursting due to air pressure. You’ll need to make an adaptor to connect the outdoor sillcock to the compressor. Begin by adding Teflon tape to the threads of a standard sillcock then adding a three-quarter inch hose and one-half to three-eighths inch coupler. Secure the connections with a wrench and slip-joint pliers.
  • Connect the adaptor — Wrap Teflon tape onto the threads of a compressor hose before attaching the adaptor. Tighten the connection with a wrench. Attach the hose to your compressor. Bridge the outdoor sillcock to the adaptor with a washing machine hose.
  • Pressurize your water system — With the valves inside your house closed and the outside ones open, turn on your compressor. Air will occupy the cold water line, move up the tank, and push out all the water.
  • Check your faucets — Open the outdoor sillcock that’s farthest from the compressor. If only air comes out, close the valve and check your indoor faucets one at a time. Open them up until only air comes out then close them tightly.

Protecting your water heater during the winter is an excellent way of extending the lifespan of its components. For more information on how to take care of your water heater, contact Sherlock Heating & Air Conditioning. We serve the San Diego area.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Diego and San Marcos, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “geralt/Pixabay”

Furnace Odor: What it Could Mean

Furnace Odor: What it Could MeanIf you notice a strange odor from your furnace, don’t ignore it. While it could be something as simple as collected dust in the HVAC system or a dirty filter, an unusual furnace smell may also signal a more serious or even dangerous situation. Read on to learn the cause of common furnace odors and what to do about them.

Musty or Earthy Odors

Musty or earthy odors are often caused by a dirty and contaminated air filter or mold and mildew development on the evaporator coil and/or air ducts. Check your air filter first. Change or clean it as needed.

The reason that mold and mildew commonly grow on the evaporator coil and inside air ducts is because of the presence of condensation and food source (e.g. organic matter in the air). Servicing and cleaning the evaporator coil and air ducts should be left to your HVAC professional.

Sewer-like Odors

The evaporator coil collects an excessive amount of condensate during the cooling months. This means that your furnace or heat pump needs a drainage system to remove the water. During the heating months, if the water in the drain trap evaporates, foul sewer-like odors may seep up through the line into the HVAC ductwork and circulate through your home.

Pour a quart of more of a 50/50 bleach and water solution into the condensate pan. The bleach will kill microorganisms in the drain line. Pour another gallon of fresh water into the pan to flush out the system and allow water to collect in the trap.

Rotten Eggs

The smell of rotten eggs is one odor you don’t want emanating from your furnace and air vents. This odor indicates a natural gas leak. While natural gas is odorless, a chemical is added to give it a smell often described as rotten eggs. In this emergency situation, you should exit your home and call 911 for assistance.

If you need help identifying and remedying the source of your furnace smell, please contact Sherlock Heating & Air Conditioning today. We serve residents of San Diego, Oceanside, Del Mar and all surrounding areas.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Diego and San Marcos, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “piotr-marcinski/Shutterstock”

Avoid Costly Damage by Taking Steps to Prevent Winter Pipe Bursts

Avoid Costly Damage by Taking Steps to Prevent Winter Pipe BurstsAlthough we live in sunny San Diego, the threat of pipe bursts is one that no resident should ignore. If you haven’t taken the proper precautions, you could end up with costly damage. We suggest that you avoid this by following our best tips:

Insulate Your Home’s Exposed Pipes

First, focus on is protecting your exposed pipes, which are vulnerable to freezing. This is done by adding insulation, whether you do the work yourself or hire an HVAC professional.

Drain the Pipes

Excess water in your pipes can easily become frozen when the temperature drops. Draining your pipes will quickly fix this problem.

Turn On a Faucet

When outdoor temperatures get especially cold, it’s a good idea to start a slow drip on any faucet in your home. This will keep the water flowing, which will stop its ability to freeze.

Use a Heating Trace Cable

Heating cables function by plugging them into an electrical outlet, then laying the cable alongside your pipes or wrapping it around them. This cable will come out of its package ready to be used or require a little preparation.

Turn Up the Heat

San Diego is full of incredible older homes. Unfortunately, many older homes are built atop a crawl space that has not been insulated. Turning up the heat on your thermostat will warm up the floor and crawl space.

Heat Up the Pipe

Space heaters are a great way to get warmed up on a chilly day, and they’re also useful in warming up your home’s pipes. There’s no need to use its highest setting; it won’t take much heat to do the job.

Pay Attention to the Outdoor Spigot

With so much attention paid to the interior of your home, its exterior may be ignored. An outdoor spigot can become frozen, too, and turning off its valve will prevent bursting.
For more professional advice on how to avoid costly pipe bursts in your home or any other questions related to home comfort, reach out to the experts at Sherlock Heating & Air Conditioning. We’ve been serving the area of North San Diego since 2002.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Diego and San Marcos, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “mikebird/Pixabay”

Unsealed Ducts? You’re Wasting Energy and Money

Unsealed Ducts? You're Wasting Energy and MoneyA home with forced air heating or cooling uses a system of ductwork to distribute the conditioned air. In general, the ductwork is located out of sight, in an attic, a crawl space, the garage or basement. That means when something goes wrong with the ducts you may be unaware of it.

What can go wrong with ducts? Plenty. Over time, the segments may become disconnected, or the ducts, which expand and contract from the pressure of conditioned air traveling through them, crack or develop holes. As a result, you may be losing conditioned air to unconditioned spaces and paying higher utility bills.

That’s when duct sealing may be called for.

Some other signs you might need duct sealing:

  • Rooms that are hard to cool or heat
  • Stuffy, uncomfortable atmosphere, perhaps from dust or high humidity

Other Reasons to Seal Ducts

Besides increasing comfort and efficiency, other reasons to seal ducts are:

  • Safety — Sealed ducts help prevent “backdrafting,” where gases from combustion appliances, are drawn back into the living space.
  • Better indoor air quality — Sealing ducts can prevent dust, mold and household or garden chemicals from being drawn into your HVAC system and distributed into your home.
  • Environmental protection — Sealed ducts prevent energy loss, so you burn less fuel and thus, fewer carbon emissions are sent out into the environment.

Sealing Ducts

If your ductwork is accessible and you’re comfortable with a do-it-yourself project, then you may want to seal ducts yourself. Use mastic sealant or metal tape (never duct tape, as it won’t last), reconnecting segments and repairing holes and cracks. You may want to use metal screws to reconnect the segments securely.

Check connections at vents and registers also. making sure they’re sealed where the ducts meet floors, walls and ceiling.

If the job is too much for you, then you may want to contract with an HVAC consultant. Many HVAC contractors also do ductwork.

For more on duct sealing, contact Sherlock Heating and Air Conditioning. We’ve served San Diego, including Carlsbad, La Costa, Encinitas, Vista and San Marcos, since 2002.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Diego and San Marcos, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “Pixabay”

Water Heater Sizing: Does Your Home Need Multiple?

Water Heater Sizing: Does Your Home Need Multiple?When the time comes to replace a water heater or look at water heater placement in new construction or renovations, it’s worth asking the question: “Should we install more than one?”

With new construction, you have more choice about where you place your water heaters. When you’re just replacing your existing model or working with your old floor plan on renovations, your options may be more limited, especially when you’re considering traditional “storage” model water heaters.

Storage models are the old-fashioned water heaters that come with a tank. With this model, you have to dedicate a specific amount of floor space to the water heater. It functions by filling the tank with water and warming it to the set temperature. The water heater continues to keep the stored water warm until it is needed. Then the water travels from the water heater’s location to the point of demand.

Problems With the Traditional Model

There are a few disadvantages to this setup. One of the biggest problems is that any point of demand that’s far away from your water heater results in a wait before you get hot water.

Another issue is capacity. Your water tank can only hold so much hot water. Once it’s used up, you have to wait to get more.

Solutions That Fit Your Home

Tankless water heaters were invented to solve the problems with traditional storage models. Some advantages of the tankless model include:

  1. Installs in different locations. Tankless water heaters are compact and can be placed almost anywhere along a water pipe’s route. They attach to the wall, freeing up floor space. In fact, they can go in attics and crawlways if needed.
  2. Proximity. Since you have more options on installation location, you can place tankless water heaters near your home’s points of demand, reducing wait time.
  3. Energy savings. Tankless heaters “heat as you go” instead of maintaining gallons of heated water for long periods of time. This saves money on your energy bill.

Want to learn more about water heater options in your San Diego-area home? Contact Sherlock Heating & Air Conditioning today.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Diego and San Marcos, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “guilaine/Pixabay”

How to Conduct Energy Tests at Home

How to Conduct Energy Tests at HomeIf you want to lower your energy consumption and monthly utility bills, a good way to start is by conducting some energy tests and taking steps to eliminate waste. Here are a few of the most common areas where energy waste occurs, along with suggestions on how you can get it under control.

Air Leaks

Air leaks in the envelope can add as much as 20 percent to your annual household energy usage. You can reduce this by finding and sealing leaks with weatherstripping, caulk or expandable insulating foam. Common leakage points indoors include electrical outlets and switches on exterior walls, wall and ceiling junctures and along baseboards. Outside, you can find them where building components meet, along the foundation, around doors and windows and penetrations for pipes, vents and wiring.

Phantom Loads

Household devices that have indicator lights, remotes, digital clocks and power cords with AC adapters keep draining energy even when they’re not in use. To curb this waste, plug any such items into power strips so you can shut them down completely in between uses.

Attic

Heat transfer between your living areas and unfinished attic can cause significant energy losses. You can limit this by locating and sealing any openings between the two levels, putting down a vapor barrier on the attic floor, then insulating to R-38 between the joists. Insulate and weatherstrip the access hatch too, and make sure it closes tightly.

Ductwork

Ductwork that’s leaky, damaged, uninsulated, or in overall poor condition can waste up to a third of conditioned air produced by the HVAC system. You can learn whether your ductwork needs repairs, sealing and insulating by inspecting any accessible sections in the attic or garage or crawlspace.

Book an Energy Audit

An energy audit can give you an in-depth look at the state of your home’s efficiency. Audits include tests like a blower door and thermographic scan to pinpoint specific areas where making improvements can bring you the greatest energy-saving benefits.

Contact us at Sherlock Heating & Air Conditioning to learn more about conducting energy tests to boost efficiency in your San Diego home.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Diego and San Marcos, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “geralt/Pixabay”

Winter Safety Precautions for Your San Marcos Home

Winter Safety Precautions for Your San Marcos HomeThe winter months come with the risk of certain safety hazards such as fires. As you think about how to cut down heating costs, you should also consider the additional measures necessary to stay safe at your San Diego home. Here are our best tips for ensuring winter home safety.

  • Change the furnace filter. You should replace your filter every three months, or earlier if necessary, to maintain the efficiency of your heating system.
  • Schedule preseason maintenance. A professional technician will clean your heating system and ensure all connections and components are working safely, reducing the chances of a residential fire occurring.
  • Service your fireplace. A licensed contractor should check and service your chimney at least once every year to get rid of any buildup. Use a sturdy screen to keep sparks away from your living area. Use seasoned woods and not glossy or coated papers to build your fire.
  • Use space heaters with caution. Space heaters are not recommended by Sherlock because of safety and efficiency reasons. However, we understand some clients like to use space heaters. If you choose to use them, always be careful to have a three-foot “safety zone” around the heater that’s free of any objects that could catch fire. Always turn off space heaters before going to bed and leaving the house.
  • Clean the area around heating equipment. The general area surrounding your heat sources should be clean, organized, and clear of boxes and other storage items, flammable materials and anything that can inhibit airflow.
  • Never use oven heat for warming your home. An overworked oven can explode because it’s not built to operate for extended periods.
  • Make a fire escape plan. Practice this plan with all the members of your family.
  • Install and maintain smoke detectors. You should have at least one smoke alarm on every level of your home.
  • Install and maintain carbon monoxide (CO) detectors. These devices will help protect you from CO poisoning, which is one of the most common causes of poisoning deaths.

By following these tips, you’ll keep your home safe and comfortable throughout the winter. For more winter home safety precautions, contact Sherlock Heating & Air Conditioning. We serve the San Diego area.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Diego and San Marcos, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “openclipart-vectors/Pixabay”

Lower Energy Bills are a Nice Gift to Yourself

Lower Energy Bills are a Nice Gift to YourselfAs exciting as the holiday season may be, it also tends to bring unwanted guests such as high energy costs. Fortunately, you can make some simple adjustments to your HVAC system and daily habits to cut down your home’s energy usage and save money without sacrificing comfort.

Get lower energy bills by using the tips below.

  • Locate and seal leaks. You can lower your heating and cooling bills by as much as 10 percent by sealing air leaks. Install caulk around your windows and weatherstripping on your doors to seal them. Take the time to seal leaks around chimneys, recessed lights, plumbing penetrations and behind any cupboards and closets where unfinished spaces may be.
  • Add insulation. Heat will escape from your home if it’s inadequately insulated, causing your heating system to work inefficiently. Upgrade the insulation in your attic, basement, crawl space, and exterior walls.
  • Schedule a tuneup. Your heating system should be checked by a professional once every year. That will improve its efficiency, helping you lower your energy usage.
  • Check your air filter monthly. A dirty furnace filter will impede airflow, making your system work harder and waste energy. If your filter is dirty, make sure you clean or replace it.
  • Set the temperature back. If you’re still using a manual thermostat, consider replacing it with a programmable thermostat, which can be easily programmed for maximum energy savings. Lower your thermostat setting by 8 degrees or more while asleep or not at home. That will help you save energy by avoiding heating your home when it’s unnecessary.
  • Improve the efficiency of your fireplace. Heat loss also happens through your fireplace. Keep the damper closed if a fire isn’t burning. Caulk around the hearth. If you don’t use your fireplace, consider plugging and sealing the chimney flue.

By adopting these fall and winter energy-saving strategies, you’ll keep your comfort levels high and energy bills as low as possible. For more information on how to lower energy bills, please contact us at Sherlock Heating & Air Conditioning. We serve San Diego and the surrounding area.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Diego and San Marcos, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “pexels/Pixabay”