Ambient Comfort LLC Blog

How To Keep Your Home Evenly Heated

March 18th, 2018

Optimal comfort during the cold winter months is achieved when your home maintains consistent temperatures throughout every room. You’ll know you’ve got it right when you don’t have to put on or take off a sweater or adjust the thermostat when you move from one room to the next.

Many factors influence the heat throughout your house. Part of it is the design of the house itself. Another part is how the home is finished and equipped. A third part is how the home is maintained.

Working with Your Layout

Rooms with more exterior walls and more windows lose heat to the outside more quickly than rooms with fewer exterior walls and fewer windows. While changing the layout of a home is not a practical way to equalize the heating, there are some measures you can take to minimize this effect:

  • insulate exterior walls as heavily as possible
  • install high-quality, insulated windows
  • install insulating draperies or shades

Keeping Air Moving

If some rooms are getting more hot air than others, poor circulation may be the problem. Make sure that registers to the too-cool rooms are open, that they are not obstructed by furniture or other items, and that they are clean. Leave the doors to colder rooms open if possible, so that heat from the rest of the home can enter.

There may be plenty of hot air available, but it’s just not reaching those rooms. Have the ducts checked by a professional for leaks or obstructions. It is also possible that the ducts are undersized or poorly routed, and that replacing them with properly designed ducts will allow more hot air to get where it needs to go.

Check the Switches

If the ducts are in good shape, the problem may just be that the room with the thermostat gets warm sooner than others. Try setting the fan switch on the thermostat from “Auto” to “On.” This will keep the fan running and help equalize the flow of warm air throughout the house.

Hot air rises, and it’s likely several degrees warmer near the ceiling than near the floor. If the room has a ceiling fan, set it to turn in the direction that will push hot air down.

In the Zone

If all of these measures don’t equalize the temperature in your home, you should consider installing one or more additional zones. Each zone is a house is controlled by its own thermostat, and each one receives its own share of heat. This is also a good approach if you want certain areas to stay warmer or cooler than others.

The team of heating professionals at Ambient Comfort can keep your family comfortable this winter with regularly scheduled maintenance, repairs, ductwork inspection and more. Call us today at 856-213-6586 to schedule service and to learn about our maintenance plan. Check us out online for special savings and promotions. We are located in Vineland, New Jersey, and serve clients throughout most of South Jersey, in Atlantic, Burlington, Camden and Gloucester counties.

 

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Is Your Furnace Dangerous?

March 10th, 2018

While some have been known to last much longer, the typical lifespan of a home furnace is 15 to 20 years. Proper installation and maintenance are key to getting your money’s worth from your home heating system, but eventually, even the best cared-for furnace will have to be replaced.

A furnace in poor condition, whether because of poor maintenance, age, or both, operates inefficiently, requiring more fuel to heat a home. A bigger problem, though, is safety. A furnace that’s overdue for maintenance or replacement can put your family in danger.

The biggest issue is carbon monoxide, an invisible, odorless, toxic gas that is a byproduct of combustion. In a well-maintained furnace, the amount of carbon monoxide, or CO, produced is small, and it is vented to the outdoors where it quickly becomes harmless. But if a furnace is burning fuel inefficiently, the amount of CO produced will be higher. Should the furnace not vent the gas out of the home effectively, illness, permanent injury, or death could be the result.

This danger can be avoided by installing CO detectors in the home, and by having the furnace inspected annually by a home heating professional. At some point, however, so many parts may require replacement that it just makes more sense to replace the furnace itself. Considering that newer heating systems use new technology to operate more efficiently than old ones, the change might even pay for itself in reduced energy costs.

Furnaces are also a common cause of house fires. This occurs most often when residents carelessly leave flammable items too close to the furnace. It’s so important to keep old magazines and newspapers, boxes of clothes, flammable liquids, and other combustibles several feet away from the furnace. Aside from that, an annual checkup by a heating professional will ensure that gas or oil lines are intact, so that a fuel leak can not result in a fire.

We don’t mean to scare anyone. It’s not difficult to guard against home fires and CO poisoning caused by your furnace by following a few simple procedures:

  • install smoke and CO detectors throughout your home
  • test smoke and CO detectors monthly, and replace the batteries twice a year
  • have your furnace inspected and maintained annually by a heating professional

If your furnace is more than 20 years old, consider updating it with a new system. This may be long overdue if you added an addition to your home since the furnace was installed or finished a previously unfinished basement or attic. Your furnace was probably specified for the amount of living space you had at the time it was installed. If you’ve been making it warm more space than was originally intended, it’s probably been working overtime. A new furnace designed to heat the current size of your home will do it more efficiently.

Ambient Comfort can make sure you have the right furnace for your home and that it operates safely through regular maintenance. Call us today at 856-213-6586 to schedule service on your HVAC system or to learn more about our maintenance plan so you can rest assured knowing your family is warm and safe this winter. Check us out online for special savings and promotions. We are located in Vineland, New Jersey, and serve clients throughout most of South Jersey, in Atlantic, Burlington, Camden and Gloucester counties.

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Keeping the Home Dust-Free in Winter

February 20th, 2018

It is during the winter months, when our homes are sealed up tight against the cold, that the air indoors needs to be as clean as possible. Key to achieving healthy indoor air quality is to dust the home properly. Keeping the heating system well-maintained and functioning properly is also important. These two steps are sufficient for most families, but if your home requires the cleanest possible air, consider installing an air purification system.

Dust Effectively

The most effective tool in maintaining good indoor air quality, which is crucial to good health, is the trusty vacuum cleaner. Run it at least weekly over all your floors and rugs. At least once a month, use the attachments to remove dust and pet hair from furniture. Don’t forget to look up at walls and ceilings to clear away cobwebs.

New vacuum cleaners do a great job trapping even the smallest dust particles if you keep the filter clean and replace it when necessary. Older units that don’t filter the air so effectively may do a great job picking up the dust, but they might also blow tiny particles right back into the air. If you have an older vacuum, consider replacing it with a new one that has a HEPA filter, which will trap almost all allergens.

Keep your kitchen counters, furniture, desks, and other hard surfaces clean with microfiber dusting cloths that are designed to trap dust, not just spread it around.

HVAC Maintenance

Forced hot air heating systems draw air in, heat it, and distribute it throughout the home via the ducts. The air it draws in inevitably contains at least some dust, but the furnace’s filter traps the dust before it gets heated and blown through the ductwork to the rest of the home.

If the filter is dirty or damaged, it won’t trap dust and, instead, the furnace will blow dust all over the house, keeping it airborne, where it can be breathed in and aggravate allergies. A dirty filter also reduces the efficiency of the furnace, requiring it to use more energy and making it harder to keep the house warm.

To avoid these problems, the filter on your home’s heating system should be replaced every three months, and definitely at the start of the winter heating season. (If you didn’t do it before the furnace kicked in this fall, do it now.) This is an easy task that most homeowners can perform, but if you don’t know how or don’t like dealing with mechanical issues, a home heating professional will be glad to do it for you.

Ductwork in a home may collect dust over the years so that, no matter how often you change the furnace filter, the heating system will still blow dust throughout the home. A home heating pro can inspect your ducts, determine whether they’re dirty on the inside, and clean them if necessary. This is something that has to be done only every few years – it’s not an annual expense.

Air Purification Systems

If these measures don’t suffice, or if someone in your household is strongly allergic to dust or other allergens, you should consider installing a whole-house air filter that traps dust out of the air column before it can settle on surfaces. The HVAC professionals at Ambient Comfort can install an air filter and purification system that will maintain superior air quality in your home so you and your family can breathe easy.

Ambient Comfort has the indoor air quality experience and resources to keep your family comfortable through the winter months. Call us today at 856-213-6586 to schedule winter service on your HVAC system or for a quote on a whole-house-filter. We are located in Vineland, New Jersey, and serve clients throughout most of South Jersey.

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The Invisible Dangers of Carbon Monoxide

February 15th, 2018

It is an old adage that what you don’t know can’t hurt you. But this is blatantly false when it comes to carbon monoxide gas.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a byproduct of combustion. It is produced when any fuel burning device is used. For example, when your oil or gas furnace, boiler, gas dryer, stove, deep fryer, space heater, or other any fuel-burning device is running, CO is being created. Normally, it is produced in small amounts and vented safely out of the home. But, because it is invisible and odorless, it is also dangerous. Should the device be operating inefficiently, or if there is a failure in venting the gas out of the home, CO can build up to dangerous levels, causing illness, permanent injury or death. It happens to hundreds of people every year.

RELATED READ: Five signs your furnace needs repair

The first step in protecting your family against carbon monoxide poisoning is to have a CO monitor in your home. Check your monitor at least quarterly and replace batteries twice a year to make sure they are operating optimally. There is a difference between a CO detector, available at most home stores starting around $30, and a CO monitor. A CO detector only alarms when levels are very high for sustained periods. A detector may prevent death, but not headaches, flu symptoms, memory loss and other symptoms of even low-level prolonged CO exposure. Children and the elderly are particularly susceptible.

A CO monitor, available from professional HVAC companies, indicates the current level of CO in your home, down to the lowest levels. On a heavy cooking day, for example, the monitor may show 16 parts per million, letting you know that cracking window might be a good idea.

Also important is to have your home’s heating system checked annually by an HVAC professional. Regular maintenance can ensure that your devices are burning fuel efficiently and venting it properly outside of the home.

Heating professionals can test the air quality in your home to make sure your family is breathing air that is safe. They also can check for leaks around your furnace, chimney, gas heaters, hot water heaters and stoves.

RELATED READ: Improving your home’s air quality

 

More Tips to Stay Safe from Carbon Monoxide

  1. Never use portable heaters that burn fuel (such as kerosene or propane) inside the home.
  2. Have wood stoves and fireplaces inspected and cleaned annually to ensure proper venting.
  3. Never start or run a motor vehicle with the garage door closed or with a door open to the living areas of the house. After starting the car, drive it out of the garage as soon as possible.

The physical symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, blurred vision, confusion, dizziness, physical weakness or nausea or vomiting that sometimes come on quickly. Should you experience these, you may be experiencing CO poisoning. Go outside immediately and do not reenter the home even if you feel better. CO builds up in the human body and does not leave with a quick trip outside. Call for emergency support using a mobile phone or a neighbor’s phone. Get a professional to check your furnace and other appliances.

Contact the professionals at Home Comfort Experts today to find out how we can improve your home’s air quality so you can breathe easily and safely. We serve Northern Indiana and Southwestern Michigan from our twelve locations. Give us a call at (574) 255-4600 to find out how we can help.

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Five Efficiency Tips for Commercial Heating Systems

February 5th, 2018

Heating costs can be a big business expenditure, but keeping costs under control should not mean turning down the thermostat. If your employees are uncomfortable, they won’t work efficiently or happily. And if your customers or clients are cold, they’ll make their visits to your establishment as short as possible – if they visit at all.

The key to controlling commercial heating costs is to make sure your HVAC system is running efficiently. This isn’t difficult with the attention of a committed facilities manager and the assistance of a professional HVAC services contractor. Here are five tips to guide your procedures and keep your employees and customers comfortable, economically.

  1. Stay up to date. If your HVAC system is more than 10 years old, it lacks the latest technology. If your facilities have expanded in size but your HVAC system hasn’t, it’s likely being overburdened and running beyond its limits of efficiency. Replacement might be a shortcut to achieving quick payback. At the very least, have your older system inspected and upgraded or repaired as needed.
  2. Have it maintained regularly. Most HVAC contractors offers annual maintenance plans to keep your heating and cooling systems running as efficiently as possible, and to identify and solve potential problems before they become actual problems that could cause expensive downtime.
  3. Maintain the duct system. Check your sheet metal! Leaky ducts waste hot air, sometimes draw cold air into the facility, and may distribute dust and dirt throughout your place of business.
  4. Ensure that air dampers and heating/cooling valves are working. This is definitely a job for the professionals. Dampers should be opening and closing fully. Heating and cooling valves that are malfunctioning can result in simultaneous heating and cooling, which in turn can result in a very high utility bill and uncomfortable or uncontrollable temperatures.
  5. Upgrade your thermostats. Programmable thermostats have improved significantly in recent years. New ones are relatively inexpensive and they do a better job maintaining constant temperature. They also allow for great flexibility in conserving energy when your building is not occupied on weekends or in the evening hours.

Your facility’s HVAC system is a large investment and one you want to protect by having it regularly and professionally maintained. The team of heating professionals at Ambient Comfort have the experience to keep your employees and customers comfortable throughout the winter months and all year long. Call us today at 856-213-6586 to schedule service or to learn about our maintenance plans. We are located in Vineland, New Jersey, and serve clients throughout most of South Jersey.

 

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Preventing Dryer Fires

February 1st, 2018

Washing machines and clothes dryers are workhorses in most homes, especially those with children. Both, however, cause thousands of home fires each year, and dryers are responsible for a many of them. However, it is not difficult to ensure the safety of your dryer, and given the importance of doing so, there’s really no excuse not to. After you’ve made sure your dryer is properly installed (something a professional should take care of), the rest of it is simple.

 

Since dryers are appliances that heat, sparks can occur. In the case of gas dryers, an actual flame is present in your dryer, just like in a gas furnace. Most fires caused by clothes dryers occur when an item being dried ignites, or when built-up lint in either the lint screen or the dryer venting ignites. To avoid the first cause of fires, make sure that all items placed in the dryer are made of fabrics suitable for drying. Never dry items that contain combustible fluids such as painting solvents, certain household cleaners, or grease. If you washed greasy clothing and the grease didn’t come out, you have three choices: wash it again, air dry it, or throw it out.

Watch out for Lint

Lint is composed of tiny fibers that break off the fabric of your clothing. Many hikers and campers carry a little bag of dryer lint with them in a sealed plastic bag to use as tinder, to help start a fire in an emergency. It’s that flammable!

The easiest step in preventing a dryer fire is to clean the lint screen after each dryer load. Making this a regular practice will eliminate the flammable material, allow your dryer to function more efficiently, and also reduce lint buildup in the exhaust hose and vent. Regularly wiping down the inside of the dryer to remove any extraneous fibers can also help.

Make sure your dryer vents to outside the home and that it is kept clear. Keep leaves and grass away from the vent. Several times a year, go outside while the dryer is running and confirm that plenty of warm, moist air is coming out of the vent. If it’s not, the exhaust hose is probably clogged with lint. Also check if the vent itself is clogged. If you can’t disassemble the vent and detach the hose yourself to clear or replace them, call a professional.

The area around your dryer should also be kept clear. There are air intake vents on the back of your dryer which can accumulate lint and dust. If they are obstructed of become clogged, it can cause the motor to overheat, possibly resulting in a fire. Vacuuming the rear vents a couple times a year is a good precaution.

Consider a booster for dryer hoses longer than 10 feet to ensure all the lint and hot air are properly vented.

Related read: Clean your dryer vent and limit lint buildup to help prevent fires

 

Simple Tips for Dryer Safety

Here’s a summary and some more tips to prevent dryer fires:

  • Make sure your appliances are professionally installed and grounded. If your dryer is gas-fired, make sure the gas lines are intact.
  • Do not overload the dryer with too many clothes, which can increase the heat levels.
  • Never operate the dryer when you are sleeping or not at home.
  • Clean the lint trap after every use.
  • Check the exhaust hose and vent periodically for lint buildup, and clear them when necessary.
  • Keep the intake vents clear.
  • Get professional service for any problems you can’t handle yourself.

The heating professionals at Home Comfort Experts are available to inspect your dryer vent and use our professional grade equipment to clean out your dryer from the lint screen all the way to outside your home if necessary. We serve Northern Indiana and Southwestern Michigan from twelve locations. Give us a call at (574) 255-4600 to learn about our complete heating, cooling and plumbing services.

 

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Signs Your Duct System May Need Repair

January 19th, 2018

Breached or leaky heating ducts indicate maintenance and, possibly repair, is needed. Sometimes, your duct system may just need a good cleaning. Signs your home’s duct system is not functioning properly include unexpectedly higher heating bills that don’t appear to be weather-related, reduced air flow through heating vents, colds spots in your home, and even odd noises coming from the duct work.

One of the challenges homeowners face is duct work is not visible, so determining a breach or leak from a hole in the duct work can feel like a guessing game. Once you run through the basic actions listed below and decide you may indeed have a duct issue, it is time to call in an HVAC heating professional to repair the problem.

Checklist for Leaky or Breached Ducts

  • Cold Spots
  • Strange Noises
  • Reduced Air Flow
  • Cool Air
  • Increased Heating Bills

Most duct breaches are triggered over long term wear and tear. Sections that are bolted together can eventually become unhinged and need to be reconnected with new bolts. Another common problem is the impact of animals, such as rodents, which have gotten into your home and entered the HVAC system. Once a duct is breached, your HVAC system has to work harder to carry warm air through a compromised delivery system – resulting in higher utility bills. Breached ducts also create the opportunity for dirt, dust and other debris to be pumped into your home’s indoor air, impacting the air quality in your home.

At Ambient Comfort, we deal with ducts day in and day out and apply the latest technology to zero in on duct breaches. We don’t waste your money or time exploring but get right to the resolution of your problem. Duct sealing can include having to rebuild a section of compromised duct, or sealing the duct with duct mastic or other materials. We will have your HVAC pumping at optimal levels in no time.

Our team of heating professionals at Ambient Comfort can inspect, clean and replace your home’s duct work. Call us today at 856-213-6586 to schedule winter service on your HVAC system. Check us out online for special savings and promotions. We are located in Vineland, New Jersey, and serve clients throughout most of South Jersey, including Atlantic, Burlington, Camden and Gloucester counties.

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5 Tips for HVAC Winter Efficiency

January 12th, 2018

The colder weather is upon us and will require your home’s HVAC system to consistently perform for at least five months.  To meet your home’s heating needs over the long term, there are a few easy actions you can invest in as a homeowner to make sure your furnace, boilers and heat pumps will reward you with a warm and comfortable home all season long.

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Why Is My Furnace Blowing Cold Air?

December 15th, 2017

Obviously, a furnace blowing cold air is just not a good sign. There are several common causes for such an unlucky scenario, some of which are easily resolved by homeowners, while others require the attention of a heating professional.

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Prepare Your Heating System For A Snowstorm

December 8th, 2017

When a snowstorm is predicted, it takes more than a trip to the grocery store and stocking up on food to make sure you can ride out the weather comfortably. Inspecting your heating system and performing some basic preventive maintenance in the home will help make sure your family stays safe and comfortable, no matter the temperature.

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