Air conditioning and heating systems

Before making a final decision, the design of air conditioning and heating systems should be calculated accurately. Homeowners should insist upon a correct system sizing before signing a contract. This service is often offered at little or no cost to homeowners by gas and electric utilities, major heating equipment manufacturers, and conscientious heating and air conditioning contractors.

Many factors affect a home’s design heating or cooling load. A good heating technician will measure walls, ceilings, floor space, and windows for the accurate determination of room volumes. Also, a good estimate takes into account the R-value of the home’s insulation, windows, and building materials. An estimate of the building’s air leakage is necessary. A blower door test is the best measurement. The duct sizes and insulation, as well as the location of the registers and returns, should be appropriate for the system type and size.

There are several simple methods to incorporate central air-conditioning with hot water heat. Since the air ducts are used for cooling only, you can locate them for maximum efficiency. Mini-split ductless air conditioners are also efficient and provide cooling in typically hard-to-cool rooms.

In addition to efficient heating, hot water heating systems provide comfort. Room temperatures remain constant without the repeated initial gusts of cold air followed by hot air as with a forced air system. Without blowers and ducts, hot water systems are quiet and dust free.

The small baseboard radiators heat your house in two ways. First, heat is radiated directly from the radiators to objects and people in the rooms. This feels warm like standing in the sun in the winter.

Room air also naturally circulates up through the radiators and gently heats the air in the room. The combination of radiant and warm air heat provides comfort without the “dry feel,” typical of forced air heat. A boiler also provides a virtually limitless supply of hot water for morning showers.

One efficient hot water heating technique uses pipes in the floor. The entire floor gets warm and radiates heat upward. This makes you feel very comfortable (warm feet), even in a cool room. By keeping the air temperature lower, your total heating bills are significantly lower.

The most energy-efficient boiler uses gas and a pulse technology. When your system calls for heat, a spark plug starts the highly efficient combustion in the boiler heat exchanger. Each “pulse” ignites the next pulse of gas.

Drain Cleaning

Chemical cleaners generally should not be used to treat drains that are clogged to the point where water will not drain at all, or drains very slowly. If a chemical cleaner fails to open a clogged sink, tub or toilet, it can complicate other efforts to remove the blockage.

Chemical cleaners can be used to treat drains that are still open but working sluggishly and will sometimes restore them to full service.

Several types of chemical drain cleaners are available. Some contain caustic substances, mainly lye or acids, that are designed to literally eat through materials such as hair and grease that clog drains. These chemicals are dangerous and can cause serious injury if swallowed or splashed on skin or eyes.

Some chemical cleaners, intended for sluggish or open drains only, contain milder chemicals or use enzymes, which are relatively harmless to humans, to break up materials that accumulate in drains.

A force cup or plunger will work in many cases and should be part of every homeowner’s tool kit. Plungers, which have a rubber cup that is placed over the drain opening and worked up and down, must be used vigorously. Sometimes two or more workouts are needed.

Those who get poor results with a plunger can try other devices that can dislodge clogs with a forceful blast of compressed air or water. These devices are sold at some home centers, hardware stores and plumbing-supply outlets.

A plumber’s snake or drain auger, a flexible cable that is threaded into the drain to dislodge material, is another alternative.

Drains must sometimes be disassembled to remove clogs if other methods fail. If caustic chemical cleaners have been used in a drain, taking it apart can be a dangerous procedure even for skilled plumbers in surprise.

Having a semi-clogged sewer is especially dangerous during periods of heavy rain when the city sewer is backed up and water is pushed into the house. Often, the sewage cannot drain back down into the city system, prompting the homeowner to call to drain cleaning surprise service.