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Home Improvement

 

We are not even a month into spring and the trees are not just budded out but leafed out, flowers are in full bloom and many of you have mowed the lawn a few times. I was thankful for the lack of deep snow this year but really hoped I could get by until closer to May before starting lawn services. The lack of a significant cold spell has us well positioned for a strong season of bugs. The additional rain we have been experiencing will feed a bumper crop of mosquitos especially if you have ponding water around your yard. They mentioned on the news that our pets, dogs and cats in particular, will be exposed to more ticks and fleas than usual. The exposure for heart worms from mosquitos will also be higher. Make sure the family pets regularly receive their medications for these pests. It is not too late to also schedule pest control treatment for your house. Spiders will be around in record numbers at this rate. So with spring already feeling more like summer what other tasks should you be considering for your home?

 

• Weed Control – The warm, wet weather has germinated weeds early this year both in landscape beds and the yard. Apply the proper herbicides soon to try and get control. My application of Preen last fall and again early this year did not seem to have the same level of impact as in the past. Too much rain and too warm to early.
• AC Service – Like mowing the lawn, many of you have also already switched on the AC for the couple warm days we have already experienced. Once we switch over, we often forget about the needed annual cleaning and service to get the best performance and life out of the system.
• Spring Cleaning – The pollen has been so heavy so early it has added to normal task of spring cleaning. Windows, carpets, general house cleaning should all be on your list. And don’t forget about gutter cleaning in the spring. Many species of trees in the area like maples and oaks shed debris as they bloom that can be just as much of a problem as the leaves in the fall.
• Outdoor Maintenance – Normal outdoor maintenance is getting an early start this year so if you plan to have painting or roof work, it is not too late to get on a contractors schedule. It is also warm enough to have roof stains (algae) treated and look at driveway sealcoating.
• Landscape Clean-up – Landscape companies are hungry to get at it because of no revenue from snow removal this winter and the weather is giving them an early start. The early warmth has also made for more work to be done with rapid early growth for pruning. It is still a little early for fresh mulch although you wouldn’t know it by the lines at Home Depot and Lowe’s. Give the ground and old mulch a chance to dry out.
• Pool Opening – It has already been in the 80’s so if you have a pool it is not too soon to get the cover removal and opening scheduled so you can jump in and get refreshed after completing some of the projects listed above.

 

Maintenance in the long run is always less expensive than major repairs so tackle the list a little at a time so as to not be overwhelmed and give up. If you need any help completing your items or have questions you want addressed, don’t hesitate to contact us at HomeServicesLink. We can be reached at info@homeserviceslink.com or 513-271-1888. Our members have access to a variety of discounts and special offers from many of our partners and preferred contractors saving many times the annual $29.99 fee. Cincy Chic readers get 3 months membership free of charge.

 

You have a great deck made of composite material, and now you can just enjoy it. You thought there’d be no more pressure-washing and resealing. Not so. Composite decks require some level of regular maintenance as well, and how you maintain them is important.

 

Some of the older composite materials develop black spotting, usually attributed to mold or mildew growth. These materials were a mixture of plastics and cellulose. The cellulose, where exposed at the surface, can absorb moisture and in the right shady conditions will turn to mold or mildew.

 

The good point of composite decking is it will not rot or deteriorate structurally if you do nothing over the years. So, what should you plan to keep your deck in good condition? At a minimum, you should plan on a good spring cleaning, washing it down with warm, soapy water using a soft bristle brush to clean any debris from the embossed pattern.

 

Use of a pressure washer should be done with caution. Using a greater than 1500 psi pressure washer closer than 12 inches to the deck surface could damage the material and void the warranty. If you are fortunate to not have any stains from food, grease, rusting furniture or leaves, you are finished. Just plan on doing this twice per year in most environments.

 

Realize, though, that your composite deck will fade with time and gray a bit. It will not always look like the day it was installed. The other thing to be aware of is the use of rubber mats. The materials may react with each other and stain the deck, as will vinyl or plastic flower pots. Removal of different types of stains can be tricky, and you should strictly adhere to your manufacturer’s cleaning directions to maintain your warranty.

 

Yes, food, grease, wine and Kool-Aid will leave stains on composite decking, especially if not cleaned up immediately. Many of the cleaning agents recommended may also lighten the coloring of your deck, so always do a test in a less noticeable area before applying it to your entire deck.

 

Composite material decks and wooden decks each have benefits and drawbacks. Real wood requires more regular maintenance, but the natural beauty of the wood comes back to life each time it is cleaned and sealed. It just takes more effort and thus more cost. Composite material decks tend to cost more to install, but cost less to maintain. But, they are not maintenance-free. Just like everything else in life, there are trade-offs. You will need to decide which best meets your lifestyle needs.

 

Either way, it is time to get your deck ready for the outdoor season. It is still a little early for cleaning and sealing real wood, but you should get it scheduled so you are early on the contractor’s calendar when the weather and temperature are right. Let us know at HomeServicesLink if you need someone to maintain your deck or if you have questions about the different materials.

 

You can reach us at info@homeserviceslink.com. We are here to help you find quality contractors for any need as simple as a handyman or a general contractor for that remodel project.

 

We have all seen the unsightly dark streaks and stains on roof shingles. You may even have them on your own home. What causes them, and better yet, how do you get rid of them short of replacing your roof?

 

Over the years, I have heard of a variety of sources for the streaks and stains with the most common cause being the acid from the leaves of overhanging oak trees. They have also been linked to jet fuel, acid rain or other emissions.

 

The real story is the stains are a form of algae called gloeocapsa magma. It feeds on the limestone filler that is used as a binder in asphalt and fiberglass shingles. It is spread to roofs through wind, birds and small animals. It first appears as black spots and grows to get worse. Many people mistake the black appearance initially for soot or dirt.

 

Other growths that are much more easily identified are moss and lichen. Lichen, which is moss in its early stages, appears as tiny white strands. More developed moss is green, thick and spongy with roots penetrating into the shingles to stay firmly attached.

 

So, what kind of damage can these growths cause to your roof? Developed moss is probably the most damaging because the deep-penetrating roots dislodge the granules from your shingles. Significant loss of granules can reduce your shingles life span by 40 to 50 percent. So, a roof with 25- to 30-year rated shingles may need to be replaced after 10 to 15 years with thousands of dollars cost.

 

The algae stains cause UV rays to penetrate the shingle granules increasing your attic temperatures driving up your utility bills and possibly decreasing the life of your shingles as well. Since this is more than a cosmetic issue with bacteria spores feeding on your shingles, the staining will only get worse. It will not go away unless treated or the roof replaced.

 

Now for solving the problem. Many companies advertise roof cleaning with a wide variety of cost options. A lot of window washers and even roofing companies have gotten into the business with only a few specialized companies out there. There are a couple very important points to note if you are looking for someone to clean your roof stains. First, clearly understand which method they will use. If they even mention pressure-washing, get away from them as fast as you can. This will be the least expensive option and may give a temporary look of improvement, but the problem is not solved.

 

Mostly they washed away a lot of granules from your shingles, giving the appearance of a clean roof. What they really did is decrease the life of your roof, and the stains will be back in a matter of months. They should not use a pressure washer or brushes to clean your roof. You probably will not get more than a one-year warranty from them, and all the stain will not be gone.

 

The other point is that cleaning small sections doesn’t cure the problem either because the bacteria will spread just through the cleaning process to other parts of the roof.

 

I have only come across one company in the area so far that uses a biocide-type cleaner with surfactants similar to ones in hair conditioner that causes the material to hold on to your roof and kill the bacteria. The stains will disappear after a couple good rains. They do not rinse the chemical off your roof, so it is there to continue working, which allows them to offer a two-year warranty.

 

Believe me, a good, proper cleaning is a lot less expensive than replacing your roof. If your roof is showing these unsightly stains and you want it cleaned properly, let us know, and we can put you in touch with a reputable company that will do the job correctly. You can reach HomeServicesLink at info@homeserviceslink.com or 513-271-1888. I hope you found this information helpful. Let me know if you have any questions or subjects you would like me to address in the future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the things we routinely hear from homeowners when we conduct our quality control follow-up calls is how surprised many of them are by what a serviceman charged for his repair work. I am not saying people are overcharged, just that people are regularly surprised. So, let’s layout some of the standards that servicepeople follow, so you are an informed buyer.

 

First of all, when is a service call free of charge? In a nutshell, not very often. When we talk about servicepeople, we are referring to plumbers, electricians, HVAC and appliance repair people. About the only time these trades make a free visit is to provide an estimate for a system replacement for example a new furnace or AC or modifying your service for a remodel or addition. I can think of no situation where an appliance repair person comes out for free.

 

Usually they have been summoned because something is not working correctly and they will be using their tools, skills and experience to identify the problem at the very least and they expect to get paid for their assistance. So, if your furnace or lights won’t come on, don’t expect the repair person to come out and tell you what is wrong so you can then fix it yourself or maybe get your friend to fix it without charging you for a service call.

 

Now for the probably more controversial element –- how much will I be charged? Most service companies operate on one of three different billing systems. Some charge a flat hourly rate with a minimum one-hour charge. This is usually the most cost-effective option for the homeowner. The going rate for these trades is $80 to $100/hour. This method covers their travel costs and any other overheads associated with operating a reputable, insured business.

 

The second method is a flat hourly rate with a one hour minimum plus a trip charge. The hourly rate is usually about $10 lower, but the trip charge is typically $30 to $50. So for a one- to two-hour repair, you are better off with the all-inclusive rate. For both of these options it is important to also understand how the contractor will handle travel time if they need to go get additional parts or make a follow-up visit.

 

The third method is the use of a standard rate manual that may indicate a garbage disposal repair is a flat $160, whether it takes 10 minutes or two hours. This method can be most costly for the homeowner for minor repairs. Bottom line is you can plan on roughly $80 to $100 minimum for a service call. Make sure you ask questions beforehand about trip charges, parts and such because once they show up they can only say sorry you didn’t understand.

 

The thing that most people get upset about is the technician walking in, listening to you tell them the problem and then five minutes later they have it fixed and charge you the $80 to $100. You feel ripped off. Well, you can be upset or you can be thankful it wasn’t something more serious and costly. I had one very experienced service person tell me one time after one of these experiences that it took him 30 years of investment in training and experience to get to the point that he can fix some problems that quickly.

 

These highly experienced and skilled technicians are usually worth their charges because they are not trying to sell you parts you don’t need or feeding you a story about how serious the problem might be.

 

In the end, you want to have someone you can trust come into your home and solve these problems. Whenever you are in need of a repair person that you can trust, contact HomeServicesLink to find a high quality provider. We can be reached at info@homeserviceslink.com or 513-271 -1888. Service you can trust. People you can count on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are those tiny, black tar-like dots on my house?

 

You know what I am talking about — those tiny, black, hard specks often found on windows and siding that scrape off like pieces of tar. For years I thought it was residue from airplane exhaust, but now I know what it really is, and was I surprised where it comes from.

 

It is time to start making plans for spring clean-up and thinking about freshening the mulch in your landscaping. My new landscape maintenance company came by a couple weeks ago to look at what would be needed this year. In passing, he made a comment about the fungus residue on my house and windows, and I had to ask what he was talking about because I did not see any fungus residue.

 

He explained the little, black tar-like spots were from a fungus called artillery fungus or sphere thrower. I Googled and found the scientific name is sphaerobolus. I was told the fungus usually forms on decaying plant material in the spring and fall and is driven by light, moisture and temperature. When temperatures are between 50 and 70 degrees with sufficient moisture, the fungus produces a type of flower, which as it matures basically shoots as far as 20 feet usually towards light. This would explain why they are often found on the white or glass surfaces of your home. The flowers are so small it is almost impossible to see them in your mulch. Who knew your landscape mulch was causing this problem?

 

Even more frustrating is the limitation of effective prevention, because chemicals are not effective in killing it off. The biggest impact is through the type of mulch you use and how you maintain your mulch.

 

One option is to use gravel or stone products or even some of the synthetic or plastic mulches. If you are set on using a wood-based product, it is recommended you use mulch that is greater than 85 percent bark. Mulches that are high in sawdust and wood chip content are the source of food for growing this fungus.

 

Another prevention function is to rake your mulch to disturb the fungus and to aid in drying removing the moisture component which can be a lot of work. For me, I am switching to a pine bark mulch this year.

 

Cleaning the fresh, sticky tar (that gets hard and dry after it’s been there for a while) is a difficult task. For surfaces like glass, it can be removed with a strong fingernail or a razor-blade scraper. The kicker to scraping the dots is they can spread the fungus for more than 10 years.

 

So, if they fall into moist mulch, they can start the cycle over again. Removing them from siding, especially non-glossy surfaces can do more damage than good. I personally have chosen to scrape the dots off of windows when the windows are washed and let the others run their course and eventually fade away after several years.

 

If you are having this problem, strongly consider changing your type of mulch. It also helps to have a knowledgeable landscape service that can catch these types of problems early. I found it interesting that many people who sell and install mulch were not aware of this fungus.

 

It always pays to work with reputable service people for any need around your home. HomeServicesLink is here to answer your questions or help you with finding insured, quality service providers. We can help with anything from a simple handyman repair to a general contractor/remodel project. You can reach us at info@homeserviceslink.com or 513-271-1888.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Hopefully some of you made it down to the annual Home & Garden Show at Duke Energy Convention Center last weekend. As usual the place was packed with the latest and greatest for your home remodeling and landscaping projects.

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I was both surprised and impressed by one booth in particular – Formica Corporation. Laminate countertops have come a very long way in the last few years. Not only are the color and pattern choices much more realistic looking to marble or granite than they have ever been, they now offer more exotic edges than the traditional square edge or a rolled edge. The picture shown here gives you a feel of what marble laminate looks like. You still have the issue with end finishes and seam visibility but when working with a budget, the new laminates can be an excellent choice. It was difficult to tell on some of the displays that they were laminates at all. The other concern with laminates is scratches and chips. They are almost impossible to repair.

 

So what other choices do you have? They are many and varied with each having its own set of pros and cons that would make this article much to long so I will summarize the options to begin your research.

 

Natural Materials – Your choices here are basically the stone and wood varieties. Stone is typically limited to granite and marble. Granite is still the material of choice due to its durability and beauty but it comes with a price tag although prices are down the last couple of years. Wooden tops are typically of butcher block style unless you are very high end. These can be easily repaired if scratched by sanding. The negative to wood is potential staining so it needs to be regularly sealed.

 

Engineering Materials – The choices in this category are typically more commonly referred to as solid surfaces like quartz, corian, silestone, etc. Some of these materials have qualities similar to natural stone but offer more customization options as they are made to fit a specific need. Some of the choices like corian are softer and can cut or be burned by a hot pan. It can be repaired by sanding and buffing the damaged area but many times then there are low spots in the surface.

 

Concrete – This has become a popular choice in the last couple years again because it can be shaped, colored, stained to meet your decorating desires. The downside is it is very heavy and it can stain if not sealed well. It may also develop shrinkage or hairline cracks along with having that industrial look.

 

Metal – Stainless steel counters have been around for many years but typically used in a commercial or industrial environment. You do find them in higher end more contemporary homes and they make a visual statement. The biggest concern other than the cost is scratching this material. You cannot cut on them and they can be noisy.

 

Ceramic Tile – Endless options of designs and colors. Not one of my favorites because the grout can easily be stained and difficult to clean. Tile typically also creates an uneven surface that can be chipped. Tiles can also be cracked dropping something heavy on it.

 

So as you can see it would be easy to get overwhelmed in the selection process. I have read there are more than 3,000 choices of different granites alone. Don’t let this frighten you away from your remodel project. Just decide what you like and what fits your budget and go for it. Your contractor or designer can assist you with making the best choices. There were plenty of them willing to help at the show this year. The challenge as always is selecting one that you can trust to do a quality job and you are comfortable working with. HomeServicesLink is here to help with just that. Send an email to info@homeserviceslink.com or call (513) 271-1888 and we will be glad to help you.

 

How many of you went to the Cincinnati Home & Garden Showover the last two weeks? Are you now anxious to jump into a remodel or landscape project? You probably saw many great-looking displays and talked to several contractors who told you everything great that they could do for you. So, now comes the hard part. How do you go about selecting the right contractor for you and your project?

 

Every list you find always includes the obvious things like checking the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and making sure the contractor has insurance. What does this really tell you? The BBB rating just tells you whether they have had complaints and if they resolved them. Getting into the company details can tell you how long they have been operating under that company name. It can certainly alert you who to stay away from, but it doesn’t do a lot to tell you which is best for you. Having insurance is just a basic pre-requisite.

 

Another component I hear a lot is to make sure the contractor is licensed. I have people contacting us daily asking for licensed and bonded contractors for everything from a handyman to a general contractor. At least in the state of Ohio, the only contractors that can be licensed are electricians, plumbers and HVAC. Not all are because they only need to be if they need to pull permits or work in certain areas. We only use licensed people in these crafts because they have completed testing for their trade.

 

Remodelers and general contractors have no licensing body. About the only thing in our area would be membership in the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI). A contractor certified by NARI has completed screening and testing and must be full-time in the business for at least five years. This is the best we have at our disposal, although many small contractors that are very good have not gone to this expense and might still meet your needs.

 

The most common and most effective means for finding a good contractor is by referral from someone who has used the contractor for similar types of work. It also helps that the referring person has some knowledge or experience to effectively evaluate the contractor’s performance. Most homeowners lack any education in the science of home construction or remodeling to be able to evaluate a contractor’s skill set.

 

Once you have found a contractor that meets your expectations, you must make sure you and the contractor can also work together. Many a project has become a disaster because the homeowner and the contractor become adversaries and avoid each other as much as possible. Lack of communication will doom most projects.

 

You have to be confident in your final decision, and that usually comes down to who you connect with best. That initial first impression and what your gut is telling you needs to be factored into the process. Ideally you get two to three friends recommending the same contractors because they did similar projects. Once you have as much data as you want, make the decision.

 

Get your proposal in writing, making sure it is detailed enough to clearly state what you want, including the materials to be used. Understand the contractor’s warranty and the schedule they propose. Now you are ready to begin.

 

If you still feel a little uneasy about all of this, you can always give us a call, and we will refer some of the contractors we have referred many times to our members. If you have a question or need some help, you can reach us at info@homeserviceslink.com or 513-271-1888. HomeServicesLink is here to help you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have had a couple cold snaps thus far, but nothing cold enough and long enough to freeze most pipes that are not adequately protected. The damage that can be done by a burst pipe is huge, and it can happen very quickly. Several hundred gallons of water can be released into your home if you are not there to immediately shut off the water.

 

So, first and foremost make sure you know where your main water supply shutoff valve is located. Along with finding it, make sure it will work when needed. An old valve may be corroded inside and very difficult to turn when the time comes, so it’s best to find out now instead of when water is pouring into your home.

 

So, how do you avoid a water problem from frozen pipes? The most common cause is not removing water hoses from outside faucets commonly referred to by plumbers as hose bibs. Even a freezeproof faucet will freeze and burst inside your wall if there is standing water in the hose.

 

So to never have a problem, remove those hoses when the watering season is over, and if you have them, close the shutoff valve inside your house. If you don’t have a shutoff valve and it is going to be very frigid, you can buy an insulated cover to put on the faucet or just cover it with an old wool sock and small plastic bag. Usually people don’t realize a faucet froze and burst until they turn it to use it later in the spring. The water will gush into your wall or into your basement, causing a big mess.

 

Many times in block foundations, this shows up as a wet wall or water seeping out at the base of the wall. It goes away after the faucet has been turned off for a while only to return when you use the faucet again. It’s best to prevent this by just removing the hoses every winter.

 

The other areas, especially in older homes that are vulnerable, are pipes in cabinets under sinks on outside walls, pipes in outside walls and in crawlspaces. The most economical way to prevent problems if you have access to the pipes is to insulate them with foam pipe insulation. Make sure you seal the joints between each piece. Any exposed piping is vulnerable.

 

Another trick is to leave the doors of a cabinet open so room air circulates, warming the area more or even using a small heater. Usually the situation is one where the pipes are inside walls that are not well-insulated. Short of cutting into the walls to apply better insulation, about the only option is to leave some faucets that are fed by those pipes slightly open to keep water continuously flowing. That can cost you money with a higher water bill, but it is much less expensive than repairing water damage.

 

Prevention instead of repairing in the case of anything dealing with water is always better and much cheaper. If you need some help insulating some pipes, just let us know. We can send you a plumber or a handyman to address the issue. HomeServicesLink is here to help you with any home improvement or repair. Just contact us at info@homeserviceslink.com or 513-271-1888.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When it comes to planning and executing a remodel job, you, the homeowner, and how you play your role can have a huge impact on the success of the project and how frustrating it might be. We have talked in the past about the cost of change orders and how usually the contractor is not getting rich on these although that is the perception by many. Having said that, a homeowner who can’t make a decision and stick with it sets a remodel up for failure from the get-go. So, what should you do?

 

First of all, you don’t start construction until you have completed the entire planning process. This means you have picked the materials, drawings and maybe even a model have been prepared if you have trouble visualizing the finished product. The budget and possible variances are understood.

 

If you don’t have a clear picture of what you want and what you can afford, it is hard to fault the contractor for giving you what he thought you asked for. Go look at display models, take pictures of what you like and want, understand what these features usually cost. Find out if the items you want are readily available or have long lead times to obtain. A point to note is these long lead items also tend to be much more expensive to repair when the time comes, and getting parts may take as long as the original item.

 

I know of one client who has faucets that have to be sent back to the manufacturer to be repaired when they leak, and it takes about six weeks. Could or would you want to live with that? In a nutshell, get educated on the process. Every time you change your mind, your costs go up, and the schedule gets extended. Unless you and the contractor get surprised by finding something that should not have been that way when a wall is opened up, a well-prepared project should have no changes.

 

The second point is to be flexible both with the budget and schedule. When setting your budget make sure you have a contingency of maybe five to 10 percent to cover the unknowns that might come up. If your design takes you right to the limit of what you can afford, and you get a surprise, something will have to give. Either overspend and you will be anxious the remainder of the project, or give up something you wanted. Squeezing the contractor to cut his bill will pressure him to possibly take shortcuts somewhere else.

 

Setting the schedule is also not a perfect science. The completion date should be within a range of days. If you have a drop-dead date it must be finished, share it and make sure the targeted completion is several days prior.

 

The last point deals with how you interact with and supervise the contractor. Many homeowners hover all day long following the contractor around and are constantly asking questions or just chatting. Yes, it is your money and your home, but the contractors need space to work efficiently and concentrate. Establish up front how you intend to communicate and how often. If you can safely do it, I tend to tour a work site at the end of each day either after the contractor has gone or is cleaning up.

 

Make a list of your questions and observations to review first thing the next morning before the contractor gets started. Even better, I send my questions by email to the contractor so he knows before he arrives on the site where there might be a problem or issue to address. Too little communication is not good as is too much. Make sure you can comfortably talk with the contractor you select for the job and touch base regularly voicing concerns as soon as they arise. Hoping they will go away can only make the matter worse when finally broached.

 

There is no reason a remodel project has to cause hypertension and adversarial relationships. Select quality contractors that you feel comfortable working with. Be clear on what you want and then let them do their job. Good planning and good people will make the project a success for you to enjoy. Remember, HomeServicesLink is here to provide you with reliable, insured, quality contractors for your varied projects around your home, from a simple handyman to a general contractor or remodeler. If you have a need or a question, you can reach us at info@homeserviceslink.com or 513-271-1888.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The most common furnaces in this area are either gas or electric, with a possible combination heat pump. Most people just want a simple and quick replacement when the time arrives. The amount spent may also be dependent on how long one plans to stay in the house. The most efficient models, as high as 98 percent, are also the most costly and can also generate the largest annual savings on your utility bills. A good HVAC contractor should be able to calculate the payback time for your different options.

 

So, what are your choices? The basic option is a single-stage furnace that is either on full blast or off, kind of like cooking on a gas grill with only high and off settings. You can upgrade by adding a variable speed blower and achieve as high as 95-percent efficiency. The next step up is a two-stage version with a low and a high level gas valve, usually with a variable speed blower as well. This would compare to cooking with only a high and low setting – works better for heating than for cooking.

 

This is the biggest selling variety balancing energy savings with installation costs where gas is available. The top-end choice would be modulating furnaces. Basically, these units check indoor and outdoor temperatures and produce heat to keep your house at a consistent temperature. The burner can operate anywhere from a simmer to high heat along with a blower that runs at variable speeds also.

 

These units tend to run for much longer cycles at lower blower speeds and lower burner output but maintain a more consistent temperature. Even though they run longer, because they do not blast on to high heat, shut down and repeat, they use much less energy.

 

I personally installed a high-efficiency, two-stage unit with the variable speed blower. I enhanced mine, setting my blower to run all the time, recirculating the air in the house to again maintain more consistent temperature. I also installed zoning with thermostats in different areas for the single furnace and in duct dampers to shut off flow to areas not needing heating or cooling at the time based on the programming of the thermostats. The key is to make sure you use an HVAC contractor you can trust and who knows how to calculate what is best for your situation.

 

Beyond these choices, if you are really into energy savings, you might also explore geothermal systems. During more mild times of the year, your heating and cooling costs can be close to zero. You will need the electricity to operate the pumps and fans, but these systems can also generate your hot water needs, reducing your energy needs greatly. Most people think of geothermal as very expensive. With energy credits and rebates that have been available, the costs are very similar to the higher end high-efficiency furnaces.

 

The other component of geothermal to consider is where you will locate the needed piping. If you have a lake on the property, the coils can be placed in the water. Most of us are not in that situation and would most likely need vertical holes bored each about 150 feet deep. The number of holes is based the number of tons of cooling capacity your home needs – one bore per ton. I would strongly recommend using an experienced, highly recommended company for a geothermal installation.

 

HomeServicesLink can assist you with finding trustworthy, high quality HVAC contractors in the area if you are contemplating a change. The other thing to be sure to ask if you are replacing your furnace is what the impact on your AC system will be. Many times a total system replacement will be necessary if switching from the older low-efficiency units. Either way, you will probably save substantially on your utility bills and help the environment. If you have other questions or just need some help finding a good contractor for any project, you can reach us at info@homeserviceslink.com or 513-271-1888.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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