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Spring Storm Prep: What You Need to Know

Spring Storm Prep: What You Need to KnowSpring storms can create volatile weather in the San Diego area, so keeping your home and family comfortably safe and dry during this season is especially important. Rather than waiting until a storm is approaching, it’s better to take a proactive approach by making preparations in advance.

Here are some storm prep tips that can help:

Create an Emergency Kit

Collect a couple of lanterns or flashlights, assorted batteries, an extra cell phone charger, a small amount of cash, a first-aid kit, a gallon or two of drinking water and some non-perishable packaged food that doesn’t need heating. Place everything in a lidded container and put it where it can be easily accessed even in the dark during a power outage.

Invest in a Weather Radio

You can find a NOAA weather radio for sale online and in most electronics stores, and it’s a worthwhile item to have in your emergency kit. These radios broadcast warnings, watches and updates issued by the National Weather Service 24/7 on a dedicated network, so they’re invaluable for staying informed during a storm.

Consider Buying a Generator

A standby generator that starts up and shuts off automatically in response to a power outage can make it easier to weather storms in any season. These units are ultra convenient because they’re connected to an independent fuel supply and integrated into your home’s electrical system.

Clean Up Your Yard and Patio

Trim back any tree limbs that overhang your roof to limit potential storm damage. When foul weather is forecast, store outdoor items like gardening tools, yard equipment, bicycles, etc, safely away in your shed or garage, and make sure your patio furniture and BBQ grill are secured.

Safeguard Your HVAC Equipment

Store a tarp and some bungee cords or a custom condenser cover in a handy location so you can easily protect your HVAC system outdoor unit when a storm is approaching. Just remember to shut down the system via the thermostat and your electrical panel breakers beforehand.

For more storm prep tips for your San Diego-area home, contact us at 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).

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Tips to Prevent Basement Flooding in Your Home

Tips to Prevent Basement Flooding in Your HomeIf your house has a basement, chances are that basement flooding may already be a familiar issue. Insurance statistics show that the majority of homes with basements will experience some sort of water damage down there, major or minor.

It’s a natural result of the fact that water flows downward and the basement is typically the lowest point in the house. However, this inconvenience and damage need not be an inevitability.

By eliminating the usual suspects in basement flooding, you can greatly reduce the odds that your house will be the next case.

  • Keep gutters clear. Clogged, overflowing gutters during a heavy rain dump literally hundreds of gallons of water on the ground directly below. This pounding cascade penetrates deep into the perimeter of the foundation, often penetrating cracks and joints in the basement wall.
  • Extend downspouts. The rectangular spouts that convey gutter discharge away from the house should ideally be at least three to four feet long. This ensures that roof runoff is released far enough from the house so it doesn’t pool next to the foundation and seep into the basement.
  • Guard against ground water with a sump pump. If your home is in a geographic area with natural ground water pushing upward beneath the house, this high water level may penetrate the basement. Installed in a basin excavated in the basement floor, a sump pump actuates automatically and removes infiltrating water before it accumulates enough to cause damage.
  • Be alert to plumbing leaks. Basement flooding often originates from an indoor source such as a ruptured pipe. Water supply lines are typically routed through the basement and can flood the area with hundreds of gallons of water if a breakage occurs. No leakage from supply pipes, no matter how minor, should be dismissed as “normal.” Even small pinhole leaks or moisture around pipe joints can be a red flag of hidden deterioration inside the pipe which could trigger a catastrophic rupture at any time.

For more about eliminating the common causes of basement flooding, contact the experts at 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).

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Water Pressure Problems and How to Solve Them

Water Pressure Problems and How to Solve ThemLow water pressure problems are an ongoing annoyance. Showerheads and faucets don’t perform properly when pressure is below specifications. Toilet tanks take forever to refill; washing machine fill cycles are very slow. Because pressure through the water heater tank is reduced, the waiting time for hot water to reach a faucet or other fixture is also extended.

“Normal” water pressure in a residence varies according to the municipal water supply and the size of the house. However, it’s generally agreed that household pressure less than 40 p.s.i. is too low. A qualified plumber can attach a gauge to your system to get an accurate reading of the pressure within the house. Here are some of the common causes of water pressure problems he’ll investigate if the reading is below standards:

  • Shutoff valve not fully open. If the main water shutoff valve was closed for some reason and not fully re-opened afterward, this will reduce water pressure throughout the house. You can try to open it further yourself, but be aware that shutoff valves that are difficult to turn shouldn’t be forced. Report a sticky valve to the plumber.
  • Faulty pressure valve. Because pressure in the municipal water main may be too high for residential plumbing, a pressure-reducing valve is usually incorporated in or near the home’s water meter to reduce pressure to a safe household level. If this valve is maladjusted or defective, it may be excessively reducing water pressure entering the house.
  • Mineral deposits. In locales with hard water, mineral deposits may accumulate in the water supply line over the years, gradually reducing pressure throughout the house. Re-piping is usually required to restore normal pressure.
  • Pipe leaks. Leakage from the water supply pipe may reduce indoor pressure in the house. Signs such as areas of the lawn that are always wet or spots where grass is always very green could indicate underground leakage. Water bills that are unusually high with no other explanation are another red flag.

For professional service to resolve water pressure problems in your home, 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).

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A Few Simple Tips to Help You Save Money and Conserve Water

A Few Simple Tips to Help You Save Money and Conserve Water

You may not realize it, but at any given time, there are tons of techniques that you can utilize to help you conserve water, and save money in the process. We’d love to help you out, so we’ve put together some of our favorite tips that you can begin to implement right now. Just take a look:

Check for Leaks

A small leak may not seem like a big deal, but even a very slow drip will quickly add up over time. The first thing you should do is go through your home and fix any leaky pipes or faucets.

Switch to Low-Flow Toilets

Older toilets are notorious for wasting a whole bunch of water, usually at the rate of 3-5 gallons per flush. A low-flow toilet will use half that amount, thereby lower your utility costs.

Cut Down on Your Shower Time

Being in a hot shower feels fantastic, but you really need to limit your shower time to less than five minutes. And, of course, four minutes would be even better.

Don’t Run the Water While Brushing Your Teeth

We’re all guilty of running the water while brushing, and it wastes a huge amount of water. The fix is easy — turn off the faucet.

Wait For Full Loads

Whether you need to wash either dishes or clothes, make sure you wait until you have a full load. This will ensure that you’re getting the maximum amount of work done with the least amount of water.

Lower the Water Usage on Your Lawn

Your law is probably the biggest culprit of water usage. If you hate the idea of it turning brown, consider switching to artificial grass.

Turn Off the Water When Washing Your Car

If you wash your car at home and keep the water running, you’ll waste several gallons each time. Turn it off and this won’t happen.

For more expert advice on how to save money and conserve water, please don’t hesitate to contact the professionals at Sherlock Heating & Air Conditioning. We’ve been serving the needs of North San Diego and the surrounding area 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).

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The Key to Finding a Reputable HVAC Contractor

The Key to Finding a Reputable HVAC ContractorThe search for a great HVAC contractor for your home can seem daunting, but it’s pretty simple once you know what to look for. We understand the need for proper heating, cooling, and other needs, which is why we’ve come up with a few simple questions for you to ask:

Do the Contractors Keep Up with Industry Knowledge?

We’re not talking about basic industry knowledge — they all have that. What you need to check on is how well the company keeps up with changes in technology and techniques.

What Does Their BBB Listing Look Like?

The first thing you can check out about a company on the Better Business Bureau website is their rating. This is a great indication of how they conduct business. But, also pay attention to any customer complaints and how those were handled.

Are They Properly Licensed and Bonded?

The industry is full of rules and regulations that must be followed in order for an HVAC company to remain in operation. Proof of proper licensing and bonding is always available upon request to ensure that you’re working with a reputable organization.

What Do Their Referrals Say About Them?

First and foremost, you want to obtain a random sampling by choosing a letter or two from the alphabet and asking to see referrals where the last name match those letters. Then, reach out to these people and ask about their experiences in terms of time completion, quality, and other service details.

Is Their Contract All-Inclusive?

When the time comes to employ an HVAC contractor for any job on your home, you want to make sure that the contract covers a variety of information. You’ll obviously want a company to provide a cost and timeframe for completion, but you also need to know how they’ll handle problems that may arise.

For more expert advice on selecting an HVAC contractor for your home, or any other home comfort questions, reach out to the incredible professionals at Sherlock Heating & Air Conditioning. We’ve been making homeowners happy in the North San Diego area with more than 100 years of combined experience.

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).

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Find Out Why You Should Buy an HVAC System, Not Just a Replacement Unit

Find Out Why You Should Buy an HVAC System, Not Just a Replacement UnitIf your central HVAC system quits working, it’s most likely due to a failure of either the outdoor compressor or indoor evaporator, but not both. Before you decide to save money by replacing the failed component instead of buying a whole system, it’s important to consider the following factors.

Energy Efficiency

The efficiency ratings for new central HVAC systems are based on two matched components that work in tandem. Your HVAC system might function if you replace only one component, but its overall efficiency will be limited by the remaining older unit, so you won’t gain the improvement in efficiency you can expect from a complete new system.

Reliability

The efficiency incompatibility between old and new components in a mismatched HVAC system puts extra strain on the older unit, and this erodes its reliability. The additional strain increases the risk that the aging component will fail at the peak of the season, which could leave you facing an inconvenient equipment replacement at the worst possible time.

Operating Costs

If you invest in a whole system, you’ll benefit from energy savings and lower operating costs for maintenance and repairs over its service life. Replacing just one component robs you of these potential savings, and you’ll still have the expense of replacing the other half of the system in the near future.

Advanced Features

Upgrading your entire HVAC system gives you the chance to shop for the latest equipment features and design advancements. By having a complete new system installed, you can choose features and options that improve comfort, humidity control, and performance, such as more efficient coil designs, electronically commutated motors (ECM), scroll compressors, thermal expansion valves, and zoning.

Equipment Warranty

HVAC manufacturers only warrant split-system components that are installed together according to their strict specifications. Having a new component added to your older system makes it impossible to meet these specs, so it voids the coverage you’d normally have against failures caused by manufacturer defects.

To learn more about why it’s better to buy a completely new HVAC system for your San Diego-area home, contact us at 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).

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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).

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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).

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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).

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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).

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