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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).

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 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).

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

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).

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “geralt/Pixabay”

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).

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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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