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The Rinaldi's Blog

by Scott Hudson, Vice-President

What Should You Do About Humidity Levels Under Your Home?

Learning that there’s a moisture problem underneath your home is concerning. Excessive dampness in this area can lead to serious humidity effects that may include mold growth, musty odors, insect infestations, structural decay, foundation deterioration and HVAC damage. Possible Causes of Excess Moisture/Humidity Under a Home The first step in solving your humidity problem is figuring out the cause, which may be one or more of the following: Plumbing system failures. You may have leaks in the plumbing fixtures or appliances in your bathroom, kitchen or laundry room, or in the water pipes or sewer lines. Sprinkler system defects. There may be leaks in the fittings or water lines of your sprinkler system. Or, your automatic system may be watering the foundation perimeter too much or too frequently. Drainage issues. A deficient gutter system or inadequate ground slope may be allowing rain water to pool around the foundation and seep under your home. How to Fix Humidity Issues Underneath Your Home What you need to do depends on the cause and extent of your humidity problem, but it might require: Getting the plumbing fixed. Have an experienced plumber find and fix any leaks where water is escaping your plumbing or sprinkler system, so it doesn’t get beneath the house. Correcting gutter defects. Fix any flaws in the guttering, and make sure your system is sized so it can handle the quantity of water coming off your roof, and that the downspouts are depositing water an adequate distance from your foundation. Improving poor drainage. You may need to get the ground slope increased or a french drain installed around your... read more

Handling Dead Rodents in Your Ductwork

Suspecting that you have a dead mouse in the ductwork sits high on the list of things homeowners never want to deal with, but it could happen. The smell alone is all the evidence you need that your once clean ductwork needs immediate attention. What to Do Chances are, the ducts in your home run through the attic where mice can make their way into your home or ductwork. The easiest way to pinpoint where the smell is coming from is to sniff it out with your nose. You’ll also need a strong flashlight, ladder and screwdriver. Remove the register cover using the screwdriver. Shine the flashlight into the ductwork and look for signs of a dead animal. If it’s a mouse, it may be quite small in spite of how badly it smells. Assess whether you can reach it. Grabbing tools might help, and you can also fashion your own by taking apart a close hanger to use as a hook or using a broom to fish it out. If you’re not sure you can handle the smell one more time but want to do the work yourself, use the same technique veterinarians use when encountering foul smells: Smother the area just beneath your nostrils with menthol ointment used for colds and coughs. After retrieving the body, use bleach to sanitize the area. If you’re one of the many who’d rather not deal with any part of the problem, call your HVAC contractor promptly for assistance. When the technical team has extracted the deceased, they’ll also make sure you have clean ductwork after they’re done. They’ll also pinpoint... read more

Why Is Your Heater Blowing When the Thermostat is Set to Cool

If it seems like your air conditioner is actually heating the air like the furnace does, you may need to change the HVAC settings, maintain it, or call for a repair. It’s not normal for cooling systems to blow hot air, and in most cases, it’s an easy fix to bring it back to normal. Fan Setting Check the thermostat’s fan setting. If it’s set to “on,” it’s possible that you could feel hot air coming from the ducts. Avoid these hot-cold cycles by setting the thermostat to “auto” so that the system turns off when the cooling cycle finishes. Dirty Outdoor Condenser When dirt covers the condenser coil or too much debris blocks the airflow through the condenser, the system won’t work as well. It should be clean and have at least three feet of clearance on all sides for adequate air flow. Frozen Evaporator Coil When the air conditioner runs continuously and the HVAC settings indicate that fan is set to auto, you may have a frozen evaporator coil. The most common reasons include: Inadequate refrigerant. Over time, the refrigerant may leak from the system, even through a pinhole leak. The best way to prevent low refrigerant is by having your HVAC system serviced annually. A refrigerant check and refill is an important component of keeping your A/C running efficiently and dependably. Dirty air filter. Check the condition of the air filter when the air is blowing warm. Change if it’s clogged. Dirty coil. Sometimes dirty collects on the evaporator coil or mold grows over it. If you can access it, clean the coil using a soft... read more

Sizing is Key When Buying an Air Conditioner

Buying a new cooling system isn’t the easiest job you’ll ever face as a homeowner. Before you can start making decisions about its energy efficiency and features, a reputable contractor will take you through the air conditioner sizing process first. Regardless of the price of an HVAC system or its features, if it isn’t sized correctly, you won’t see its maximum energy efficiency or durability. HVAC contractors use software called Manual J to find the best size for homes. The software takes into account: The cubic footage to be cooled. Insulation levels in the walls and attic. Window sizes, position and energy efficiency. Rates of air infiltration. Heat-producing appliances indoors. Orientation of the home to the sun. Landscaping factors. Personal temperature preferences. Family size and ages. The sizing exercise involves measuring rooms, windows and exterior doors, as well as inspecting the attic and wall insulation. Once the HVAC pro inputs the data, Manual J returns sizing recommendations. It’s important to go through the process to avoid installing the wrong size system. One that’s too small won’t be able to keep up with the hottest weather Orlando experiences. One that’s too large won’t run in cycles long enough to fully condition your whole house. Avoiding short cycling is the primary reason behind air conditioner sizing. It drives up energy costs, leaves humidity behind and wears the HVAC system out faster. Air conditioners use the most energy when they start up. Once they reach the middle of their cycle, they’re much more efficient. The strain on the motors and the compressor is also at its highest when the system first starts,... read more

When to Consider a Condensing Furnace

Condensing furnaces offer plenty of advantages over their traditional counterparts. Not only do they offer improved reliability and energy efficiency, but they also provide better comfort for your home. Here are a few compelling reasons to upgrade to the latest in residential heating technology. You’re in the Market for a New Furnace A condensing furnace makes the perfect upgrade for your home, whether you’re in the middle of a remodeling project and need a more capable furnace or your current furnace has simply reached the end of its lifespan. Most traditional furnaces offer a lifespan of 15 years before they become functionally obsolete. A condensing furnace has the efficiency and technology needed to last longer than the average non-condensing furnace, giving you more time to enjoy the benefits condensing furnaces have to offer. You Want to Save on Long-Term Heating Costs Around 56 percent of the energy your home uses on a regular basis goes towards heating and cooling, according to recent figures from the U.S. Department of Energy. Choosing a more efficient furnace can make a sizable difference in your long-term heating costs. Consider that the average furnace made prior to 2013 features a 78 percent Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating, meaning that it converts only 78 percent of the fuel it uses into usable heat. In comparison, a condensing furnace produces more heat using the same amount of fuel — current models can convert up to 98.5 percent of their fuel into usable heat. You Want Better Comfort Condensing furnaces take advantage of several technologies to bring improved comfort into your home. For starters, most high-efficiency... read more

Furnace Filter Arrows: What Do They Indicate?

Changing a furnace filter (actually, it’s the same filter your air conditioner uses as well) can be confusing. Depending on where it’s located, you may need some help accessing it and replacing it. Another issue you may have encountered is confusion over which way to put the filter in: should the arrow on the frame point up or down? Read on, and we will help clear things up. Air Filter Best Practices Always buy the right size filter. Never try to trim down a too-large filter, or try to cram one that’s too large into the slot. Filters should never be wet. Flimsy fiberglass filters should be changed at least once a month. These filters, which do nothing to improve indoor air quality, do a minimal job of keeping dirt out of your system. By using a better quality, pleated filter, you will improve your air, while protecting the moving parts of your HVAC system. Change fiberglass filters at least once a month. You can go longer with better quality filters — at least two months and maybe three. Change the filter every two months if you have a home with lots of traffic or shedding pets. If you’re not sure how to install the air filter, ask your HVAC tech to help you or show you how. Filters are sometimes installed in ductwork, near the furnace, in the furnace cabinet or inside the air handler. If yours is in a hard-to-reach place, and if you have any physical issues that make it difficult to reach the filter, you should plan on asking your tech to do it for... read more