House Call Company Blog: Archive for January, 2015

How Can I Improve my Home Performance?

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

This is a question that we get often from our clients. We also get “What is home performance?” Home performance involves making your household more energy efficient so that you can save money throughout your years of residence there, and also improving the indoor air quality of your space so that you breathe clean air year-round. From sealing drafty spots in your building envelope to testing your air ducts to make sure that they are sealed enough to keep your HVAC system energy efficient, home performance can do wonders for your day-to-day.

So, how can you improve your home performance? There are plenty of ways to proceed. You need to make sure that you’re taking steps to improve something that’s actually worth improving as well as targeting those areas that require your immediate attention. Let’s have a look at a few common options.

  • Air sealing. This term describes the procedure whereby the drafty parts of your building envelope are sealed. This allows you to have greater control over how your home is ventilated, and it’s often the first step towards improving your home’s energy efficiency. When your home is adequately sealed, you should see great gains in your comfort and the minimization of energy costs.
  • Insulation replacement. When it comes to energy efficiency, few things are as essential as your insulation. You need to make sure that it’s properly installed so that you can enjoy years of excellent comfort. This is particularly the case if you own and operate a whole house heating and cooling system. There are plenty of options, from spray foam and blown-in insulation to rigid foam board and conventional batt fiberglass.
  • Whole house air purification. One of the problems with portable air filters and purifiers is that they do not function quite as they should. A whole house air purifier may be just what you need to make sure that your entire living space is cleaned of airborne contaminants and pollutants.

Get in touch with your home performance specialists on our team to make sure that such products and services are taken care of properly. Call now.

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Choosing the Right Heater: What Every Homeowner Should Consider

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

Are you thinking about getting a new heater for your home? Do you want to make sure that it works well for years to come? Are you concerned about energy efficiency? Every home in our area requires an excellent whole-house heating system, one that can powerfully heat your entire living space to make sure that your entire family is comfortable at all times, no matter how cold it may get. There are plenty of options on the market today, and it’s absolutely critical that you have a guide to make sure that you make an informed decision. After all, it’s one that you’ll live with for some time, and it also constitutes a major investment for most folks.

There are various things to consider when deciding upon a new heater. Here are just a few.

  • Unless the sky is the limit, you’re going to be working within a range of what is affordable for you and your family. It’s important to get a quality system, but it’s also important to make a sound investment. Your local HVAC professional can help you find a balance between your budget and the quality of the system. There is quite of range of makes and models, and there is definitely one that is right for you.
  • System type. There are plenty of options out there, including forced-air heating systems, such as gas and electric furnaces, heat pumps and ductless mini splits. This type of system heats your air directly so that you can be sure that your home is brought to temperature quickly, with minimal wait. While the furnace is a dedicated heater, the heat pump and ductless mini split are year-round heating and cooling systems. If you want to avoid ductwork, then a ductless system offers exceptional efficiency ratings as well as avoiding poor indoor air quality caused by leaky and loose air ducts.
  • Appropriate size. You need to make sure that your heating system is appropriately sized so that you can be sure that it will work as promised. This means the heating output of your system has to match the size and layout of your home.

If you have any further questions, then just let us know. We’re always happy to help our customers achieve comfort in their homes with our heating services.

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3 Reasons to Select a Boiler for Your Home

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

Whether you need a new heating system installed from scratch in your home, or you want to make sure that your old system is replaced with a new, appropriately sized model, you may want to consider a boiler. The boiler is one of the most widely used heating systems around, and it’s not hard to see why. It can provide your home with plenty of comfort during the cold season, it is energy efficient, and it doesn’t dry out your air.

Here are three reasons why you may want to consider a boiler as your next heating system.

  1. Radiant heat. The boiler is the central component of any hydronic heating system. Gas and electric furnaces, heat pumps and ductless mini splits are all forced-air heating systems, which means that they heat your indoor air directly, and thus require the use of air ducts (or, in the case of the ductless mini split, various blowers installed directly in the living space). In contrast, a radiant heat system heats objects and surfaces directly. This type of system uses either baseboard copper piping or radiators, or a combination thereof.
  2. Energy efficiency. As we all know, hot air rises. That’s one of the reasons that forced-heating systems can be detrimental at times, particularly for homes with high ceilings. When all of your heated air goes straight towards the ceiling or roofline, your feet can get cold pretty quickly. Radiant heat evades this issue by heating surfaces directly. The result is outstanding energy efficiency and for many, a more even and comfortable heating experience.
  3. Indoor air quality. Another unfortunate consequence of many heating systems that utilize ductwork is that your indoor air becomes incredibly dry during the winter months. Moreover, ductwork can harbor all sorts of dust, dander and other debris. A boiler again evades this issue entirely.

No matter what type of heating system you choose, it’s essential that you hire a professional to take care of its installation as well as any follow-up repair or maintenance.

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3 Plumbing Problems that Just Can’t Wait

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

The plumbing system in your home is a large and complicated system, comprised of various mechanisms, materials and components, all of which must work together to ensure that you have as much potable water as you could possibly need throughout the house and that your wastewater is disposed of carefully and appropriately. Your plumbing is one of those aspects of the home that you use every day, but often without realizing it. You simply expect that your faucets will give you water and that your drains will take it away. But plumbing problems are relatively common, and it’s important that you get in touch with a professional plumber if you want to make sure that your system is taken care of.

Here are 3 problems that can arise in your home and that just can’t wait.

  • Total drain clog. If not one, not two, but all of the drains in your home’s plumbing system are clogged, then you may want to consider having your sewer serviced. Because of the sewer line’s importance in making sure that your wastewater moves to the septic tank or municipal waste management system, any partial clogs therein can lead to serious difficulty for the entire indoor plumbing system.
  • Noisy water heater. If you find that your tank or tankless water heater is making a bit too much noise for your liking, then you need to let us know. This is a sign that your water heater may be filled with excessive sediment, but whatever the problem may be, it’s important that you get in touch with a professional plumber so that this important device is brought back to life.
  • Loss of water pressure. Your water supply piping is a pressurized system, and it relies upon this pressure to work at all. If you experience a loss of water pressure, then you need to make sure that your system is checked out. It’s likely that there is a leak somewhere, either in the main water line or in one of the other pipes in the home.

Contact our friendly plumbers today if you find that you’re having an issue with your plumbing system.

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12 Grapes for 12 Months: An Unusual New Year’s Tradition

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

Across the world, many cultures have specific traditions to celebrate the transition from the old year to the new. In the U.S. and Canada, we associate New Year’s with the ball in Times Square, kissing at the stroke of midnight, resolutions, and singing “Old Lang Syne.” But for many Spanish-speaking countries, one of the key traditions has to do with eating grapes as fast as possible.

The “twelve grapes” tradition comes from Spain, where it is called las doce uvas de la suerte (“The Twelve Lucky Grapes”). To ensure good luck for the next year, people eat one green grape for each of the upcoming twelve months. However, you cannot just eat the grapes during the first day of the new year any time you feel like it. You must eat the twelve grapes starting at the first stroke of midnight on Nochevieja (“Old Night,” New Year’s Eve) as one year changes to another. And you have to keep eating: with each toll of midnight, you must eat another grape, giving you about twelve seconds to consume all of them. If you can finish all dozen grapes—you can’t still be chewing on them!—before the last bell toll fades, you will have a luck-filled new year.

Where did this tradition come from? No one is certain, although it appears to be more than a century old. One story about the Twelve Lucky Grapes is that a large crop of grapes in 1909 in Alicante, Spain led to the growers seeking out a creative way to eliminate their surplus. But recent research through old newspapers shows that perhaps the tradition goes back almost thirty years earlier to the 1880s, where eating grapes was meant to mock the upper classes who were imitating the French tradition of dining on grapes and drinking champagne on New Year’s Eve.

It can be difficult to consume grapes this fast, and the lucky grapes of New Year’s Eve have seeds in them, making the job even trickier. (Seedless grapes are not common in Spain the way they are over here.) For people to manage eating all the grapes before the last stroke of midnight requires swallowing the seeds as well and only taking a single bite of each grape.

Oh, there is one more twist to the tradition: you have to be wearing red undergarments, and they have to be given to you as a gift. The origins of this part of the tradition are even more mysterious, and it’s anybody’s guess why this started.

Whether you go for the grape challenge or find another way to ring in New Year’s, all of us at House Call Company hope you have a great start to the year and a fruitful 2015.

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