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The Rinaldi's Blog

by Scott Hudson, Vice-President

Space Heater Safety Tips

A space heater can warm up a chilly spot in the house, but is it safe? About 25,000 home fires every year in the U.S. are attributed to space heaters. In the overwhelming majority, careless or improper usage is a major factor. In a home with central heat, a fully functional heating system should provide consistent warmth throughout the house. If cold spots are a recurrent problem, the first priority should be a complete furnace evaluation by a qualified HVAC professional to identify issues that may inhibit heating performance. Where limited areas still require spot heating, a space heater can be a viable alternative—but only if utilized safely. Here are some tips to keep in mind: Utilize only heaters that display a safety certification label from UL (Underwriter’s Laboratories) or some other reputable consumer testing organization. The heater should incorporate safety features such as automatic cut-off switch if the unit is tipped over as well as a sensor that cuts off power if it overheats. Place the heater only on a hard, level floor. Never place it up on a table or a stand. Keep the heater at least three feet away from any flammable materials such as furniture, mattresses and bedding and curtains. The majority of home fires result from putting heaters too close to combustible items. Don’t allow children or pets closer than three feet from the heater. Never place a space heater in a child’s bedroom. Space heaters can ignite flammable fumes from liquids such as paint, gasoline, and solvents. Don’t use a space heater in a garage or workshop where flammable substances are stored. Inspect the power cord regularly... read more

How to Know When to Change Your Thermostat’s Batteries

Modern thermostats have certainly come a long way in how they control and benefit your home’s HVAC system, but if one thing has stayed the same, it’s the reliance on batteries for both primary and ancillary capabilities of these devices. Today, we’re going to explore when you should change the unit’s battery as part of thermostat maintenance, and how to perform the task. Pay Attention to the Thermostat Modern thermostats are equipped with an early warning system set up as a “low battery” indicator that will tell you when it’s time for the batteries to be replaced. On most units, this is represented by a small light, usually red, that will flash on and off when it’s time. Other units will emit a low beeping noise that will clue you in. Other Times to Replace the Batteries Even if there isn’t an indication of a low battery, you may want to replace them anyway. This is typically reserved for two different situations. First, you may want to change the batteries at the start of a new season so that you will have absolutely no interruption with the heating or cooling of your home. Second, if you are going on vacation or taking a business trip, it’s a good idea to change the batteries before you leave to prevent any problems with the system while you’re away. Replacing the Batteries Is an Easy Task Replacing the batteries in your thermostat, regardless of how advanced it may be, is relatively simple. Either on the front, back, or side of the unit, you will find a battery compartment cover. This can usually... read more

Newborn Health: Do You Need a Humidifier or Dehumidifier?

Parents of newborns are justifiably concerned about optimizing everything in the baby’s environment, from indoor air quality, to temperature to just the right amount of sensory stimulation. But what about humidity? Is it important to monitor baby room humidity? Maybe. Read on and learn about relative humidity in your home. Relative Humidity The optimum relative humidity range in the home is from 30 to 60 percent. In our climate, we seldom have to worry about low humidity; rather, contending with too-high humidity is the norm. And, as we all know in Florida, high humidity can lead to mold, mildew and fungus growing in our homes. Certainly you don’t want your newborn or anyone else in your household breathing mold spores. In general, home humidity should be a little higher in winter, as cooler air holds less moisture. In summer, it’s best to have it a little lower — perhaps no more than 50 percent in your home. But how to achieve that? Controlling Humidity First, get a hygrometer from a home store to measure humidity. Then, check your home’s plumbing for leaks and have them fixed so they do not add to the moisture content in your home’s air. If your HVAC system is not ancient and is well maintained, it will likely do a good job removing moisture from your home’s air. Changing the filter regularly and keeping the coils clean help the HVAC perform this function more efficiently. If humidity is still too high, look into installing exhaust ventilation in the bathroom and kitchen areas. Make sure the ventilation ducts are connected to the outdoors so that all humidity goes out of... read more

Proper Insulation and Your HVAC’s Efficiency

Few things affect HVAC efficiency as much as insulation does. Building codes require it and adding more is big business for home remodelers. Enough insulation makes the difference between a home that’s easy to cool and heat, comfortable year-round and relatively quiet. Where Homes Need Insulation Since it has 24/7 exposure to the outdoors and full solar exposure, the attic needs the most insulation to slow the movement of heat through it. Heat is constantly moving to cooler temperatures and it’s the air bubbles in insulation that slows it from moving indoors or out. Manufacturers describe how well their insulating products retard heat movement by assigning it an R-value. The R- stands for resistance and the value indicates how many hours it can resist temperature change. The U.S. Department of Energy suggests that homeowners in Florida have 16 inches in the attic to prevent heat movement through the attic. Wall insulation is less critical and the amount inside it depends on how the home is constructed. Insulation loses its ability to resist temperature change when it’s compressed. A home with 2 x 4 framing will have R-13 fiberglass batts in the walls, while one with 2 x 6 studs will have R-30. Most homes in Orlando have their HVAC ducts running through the attic which is another factor that affects HVAC efficiency. Attics are exceptionally hot in the summer and unless they’re wrapped with insulating materials, the cooled air blowing through them will heat up. The same is true in the winter. It will lose some of its heat on a chilly winter night before it reaches your rooms.... read more

Summer Attic Safety Tips

During the summer season, the idea of attic safety takes on a whole new meaning thanks to the rising temperatures. Luckily, you can stay safe by following a few simple tips, which we’ve outlined below: Remember That Clothing Matters To protect yourself from cuts, scrapes, and worse injuries, you should always wear proper clothing. You don’t need to be extravagent or spend a bunch of money, but you should always wear a good pair of pants, long-sleeved shirt, gloves, safety goggles, and safety hat. Work Early Whenever Possible Since the early morning is typically the coolest time of each day, this is when you should do the majority of your work in the attic. And if you’re hiring an HVAC technician for any of the tasks that you need to complete, they will appreciate early morning hours, too. Don’t Forget to Stay Hydrated Heat exhaustion is no joke, especially when you’re working in a warm attic and expending a great deal of energy. Before you begin work, be sure to gather up some water and take it into the attic with you. And once the water’s all gone, be sure to go get more. This is especially important as the day goes on and the temperature becomes more unbearable. Be Careful Where You Step You should only step on secure joists and rafters to help you prevent falls while working in the attic. You should especially be careful when working around insulation, because it’s difficult to tell if the area beneath the insulation is safe to step on. Invest in a Personal Fall Arrest System The best way to... read more

Dealing with Moisture Around A/C Vents

The appearance of vent moisture around the HVAC system supply vents in one or more rooms may be unexplained but it is not uncommon. The vents may simply feel damp to the touch or they may actually be dripping water. In certain cases, dark stains may appear on the wall around the vent due to continuous wetness. Two factors that are part of life here in our central Florida climate often work together to make wet vents a recurrent phenomenon: high humidity and heavy air conditioner use. Here are some of the ways that combo results in excessive vent moisture. Ductwork In summer, the typical Orlando attic accumulates heat and high humidity. Air conditioning ductwork routed through the attic, conversely, is cold. Where hot, moist attic air contacts cool metal duct surfaces, condensation naturally occurs with resultant moisture often saturating attic insulation. As the path of ductwork reaches the supply vent opening, condensation originating on external duct surface saturates the vent box. Air Leaks Air leaks that often develop in residential ductwork after 10 years or so are another link in the chain of events that results in vent moisture. When the A/C is running, leaks in supply ducts can suck hot, humid attic air into the cold airflow inside the duct, triggering internal condensation. This liquid trickles down the inside of the duct and emerges into rooms through the supply vent opening. Coils Evaporator coil shortfalls such as insufficient airflow or low refrigerant charge can result in excessively humid A/C output. As this air enters rooms at the supply vent, condensation forms on the vent surfaces. Problems of... read more
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