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Home Additions: What You Should Know

Home Additions: What You Should KnowA home addition can add needed space and new life to your home. It can upgrade its overall aesthetic appearance and potentially elevate its value if you decide to sell in the future. However, a home addition is also a big step for most homeowners and not something to undertake on an impulse. Here are some of the issues you’ll need to consider in the decision-making process:

How Will You Handle HVAC?

Adding air conditioning and heating to a new addition requires planning. Depending on your budget and the size and location of the add-on, you may opt to extend central ductwork from the existing house into the new section. However, for a single room, a ductless mini-split heat pump provides highly efficient cooling and heat to an individual add-on without the substantial cost and complications of installing ductwork.

Do You Have Space?

Residential zoning laws differ according to location. As a general rule, however, in most municipalities home additions cannot extend any further out than within 20 feet of your front property line, within 7.5 feet of either side or within 15 feet of the rear property line. Height limits in residential areas may prohibit adding an additional level to the house.

Will The Addition Match Your House?

You don’t want your new segment to stand out conspicuously from the present house. It’s important to choose a design and materials that provide a seamless transition from existing structure into the new addition. Not every home layout can gracefully accommodate all types of additions.

Does Adding On Always Add Value?

Not all additions are created equal when it comes to boosting your home’s market value. For example, garage conversions tend to have only marginal effect on the resale price of a house. Adding another bedroom to the main structure, conversely, typically returns over 60 percent of its cost in added resale value while an extra bathroom or new sunroom returns around 50 percent.

For more about the issues of constructing a home addition, ask the pros 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).

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 Most Important Areas of Your Home to Ventilate

The Most Important Areas of Your Home to VentilateLingering odors, stuffy rooms, germs and moisture problems — a lack of daily air exchange has very unpleasant side effects for your comfort and health. In fact, most homes harbor at least one serious indoor air quality (IAQ) issue, according to the EPA. With a little effort and the right ventilation strategy, you can bring a breath of fresh air to your home in the rooms that need it most.

Breath of Fresh Air

You may fiddle with the thermostat to try and find just the right level of comfort. Although, very important, your home’s temperature is only one environmental factor that affects your comfort. If your IAQ is a breeding ground for contaminants, such as germs and mold spores, you’re not going to be very comfortable if you become ill. Humidity levels affect your comfort and health, too, if indoor air is too dry or too moist.

You’ll be affected most by IAQ issues in the areas of your home where you spend the most time. Your kitchen and bathrooms should already have point-of-use ventilators. Though, check to make sure these fans vent outside your home — not into your attic.

Focus your ventilation efforts in your bedroom(s) and common living areas. You’ll be able to rest and relax better by being more comfortable and exposed to fewer IAQ contaminants. Pay special attention to rooms where young, elderly or people with respiratory ailments spend time.

How to Ventilate

Now that you’ve decided where you need to ventilate your home, it’s time to decide how best to do so. Natural ventilation brings in fresh air through open windows and screen doors. However, this type of ventilation in uncontrolled and contingent upon outdoor temperatures and weather.

Consider ventilating key areas of your home with a mechanical ventilator. Heat-recovery ventilators (HRVs) use intake and exhaust fans for balanced airflow. Air ducts and vents are installed in areas you need fresh air the most. Moreover, HRVs use a heat-exchange core to efficiently pre-condition fresh air intake.

If you would like a ventilation assessment of your San Diego home’s needs, 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).

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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).

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “Clker-Free-Vector-Images/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).

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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”

Reasons to Choose a Heat Pump

How to Compare Home Heating SystemsWhenever you’re faced with replacing your HVAC system, you’re also faced with an opportunity to increase your home’s efficiency. Sure, paying for a new cooling or heating system hurts the pocketbook, but it can also be an investment in a future with lower utility bills.

One of the most efficient HVAC systems around is the heat pump. Electric-powered heat pumps also offer clean heating and cooling technology and can heat or cool the home quietly and gently, without that big blast of air you’ve become accustomed to with forced air systems.

So read on and discover more about the heat pump.

How Heat Pumps Work

Heat pumps come in three modes: air source, ground source and water source. Most homeowners install air source heat pumps.

Air source heat pumps provide cooling in a way very similar to the air conditioner. Refrigerant moves between an outdoor compressor to indoor coils, where the refrigerant absorbs the heat in the home. A fan cools off the refrigerant, producing cool air that is circulated through the ductwork, while the refrigerant is pumped back to the compressor to repeat the process.

For heating, the process is reversed, with the refrigerant absorbing heat from the outdoor air, and moving it indoors. This process works well with outdoor temperatures down to the mid to lower 30s. With lower temperatures, the heat pump defaults to an electric resistance system that can be pricey to operate for long periods. That’s why heat pumps are a good bet for more temperate climates like ours, for heating or cooling.

Benefits of a Heat Pump

In addition to the benefits mentioned above heat pumps are known for the following:

  • They can reduce electricity use for heating by as much as 50 percent, when compared to furnaces or baseboard heating.
  • High-efficiency heat pumps dehumidify better than central A/Cs, so there’s less energy usage and more comfort.
  • Heat pumps are available in ductless models, making them convenient for add-ons or spaces where ducts haven’t been installed.

For more on heat pumps, contact Sherlock Heating and Air Conditioning, serving 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).

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How to Make a Whole-House Plan for Energy Savings

How to Make a Whole-House Plan for Energy SavingsTaking a whole-house approach to saving energy in your home requires much more than just investing in a high-efficiency heating and cooling system. While that’s important, it must go hand in hand with other steps in pursuit of consistent and significant energy savings.

Those steps include proper installation and maintenance of your heating and cooling equipment, weatherization in the form or effective air sealing, insulation and ventilation, and good energy-saving habits.

Let’s take apart an effective whole-house energy-saving strategy:

  • High-efficiency HVAC. Modern heating and cooling equipment is much more energy-efficient than even a decade ago, and federal standards require that HVAC equipment surpass minimal efficiency ratings. Discuss with your trusted HVAC contractor what cooling or heating system makes the most sense for your desired comfort and energy savings, household budget, and our Southern California climate.
  • Proper maintenance. You can have a state-of-the-art HVAC system but if it goes without routine, regular maintenance for any length of time, you won’t obtain the advertised energy savings. This means both homeowner maintenance (simple stuff like changing air filters and keeping registers clear) and yearly or twice-yearly professional maintenance.
  • Air sealing, insulation and ventilation. This is where the whole-house concept really kicks into gear. Ideally, you can start with an energy evaluation to ascertain where your home is losing energy, either via air leaks or inadequate insulation, and then based on that data proceed with whole-house weatherization. Even without an energy audit, you can take steps to seal visible air leaks with weatherstripping, caulk and/or spray foam, and upgrade insulation in vulnerable areas such as the attic. Likewise, proper attic ventilation is essential if you don’t want your attic negatively affecting comfort in the rest of your house.
  • Your own energy habits. You’d be surprised at the potential for increasing energy conservation in your home. One of the simplest ways is to get accustomed to higher (or lower) temperatures, depending on the season. Just a few degrees can make a big difference.

For help planning a whole-house energy-saving strategy for your San Diego area home, please 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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Common A/C Condensate Drain Problems

Common A/C Condensate Drain ProblemsDuring the normal cooling process, your A/C extracts water from the air and sends it outdoors through the built-in drainage system. Problems with the drain system can result in unpleasant odors, mold growth that degrades your indoor air quality, or even HVAC equipment and property damage. Here’s how to deal with three of the most common drainage system issues that develop, so you can avoid messy cleanups, prevent costly repairs, and maintain a healthier air supply.

Dry Drain Trap

Your condensate drain system most likely includes a trap that’s similar to the one on the kitchen sink. When the air conditioner is used regularly, water that’s retained in the trap forms a seal that keeps noxious sewer gas odors from entering your home. If you notice a foul smell whenever the A/C is running, the drain line may not be installed properly, so have it checked by your HVAC pro.

Dirty Evaporator Coil

When dust and dirt particles get inside the air handler and build up on the evaporator coil, they’ll get carried into the drainage system along with the condensate that drips off the coil. Eventually, all that debris can clog up the drain line. Changing your A/C air filter regularly can help prevent this, but it’s also vital to have the evaporator professionally cleaned during a yearly maintenance visit.

Mold or Algae Growth

Warmth, moisture and supply of organic particles make your condensate drain system an ideal environment where mold and algae can thrive. If either gain a foothold and start to flourish, an overgrowth can clog up the drain line and cause a condensate backup that leads to water damage in your home. If it’s not kept in check, mold can also circulate throughout your air supply via the ductwork, or even clog up the evaporator coil, restrict essential system airflow and cause equipment damage. To avert these problems, you or your HVAC technician should flush out the drain lines and clean the pan periodically.

For expert help solving A/C condensate drain problems in your San Diego-area home, contact the HVAC pros 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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