Boiler system right by the classroom

I had to do two student teaching placements while I was in college. My favorite one was in this little rural school that only had one teacher per grade level. The kids were sweet, wholesome and a lot of fun. The cooperating teacher I had was okay too. The only thing that bugged me about that teacher was her always opening the windows. The classroom we had was right by the boiler system. So once the heater turned on for the school day, our classroom got warmed up first. I loved being right next to the heating system. I am used to freezing to death in schools and I was excited at the possibility at finally being the right temperature. My cooperating teacher must have been going through menopause or is just more insulated than me. She always opened the windows to let in the icy air. Winter or Spring, the windows were open. I hated that all the precious air produced by the boiler was being wasted. Also I can’t even imagine how angry all the town taxpayers would be if they knew this woman was wasting the heated air. My favorite days were always the ones that she was gone. I would keep all the windows sealed tight and enjoy the boiler system heat. I never thought that it got the room too hot. I also would rather be too hot than too cold. I know the students liked actually having quality heating for once. I also allowed the heating system to reach the temperature on the thermostat rather than make it an impossible goal.

boiler

Cabin now has HVAC

For years and years, my family has owned a small vacation property in the mountains. We visit there a few times a year, and our family reunion every New Year’s Day is always held there. The cabin is nothing fancy. It has three bedrooms. One bedroom is private, which is where my grandparents always stay. The other bedrooms are basically just stuffed with bunk beds. On any given weekend, there could be twenty or thirty of us staying at the cabin! During the winter time, we are normally comfortable with the cabin’s fireplace. We do not need central heating, or even space heaters to stay warm. Unfortunately, for those of us who visited during the summertime, things were not so comfortable. The cabin got very hot, especially in the mornings when the sun shone right into the bedroom windows. There was no air conditioning, so the only method to provide cooling for the cabin was to open the windows. Last year, though, my dad made the decision to invest in a central air conditioning system for the cabin. He and my mom go out there at least once a month during the summer time, and they were tired of being without basic HVAC. The air conditioning system was installed last month, and I cannot wait to get there and see how much better it is! I think that more family members will be willing to visit the cabin now that the air conditioning has been installed. Having HVAC in the cabin will be a game changer, for sure.

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Editing out wall vents

I was recently reading an article about being an Instagram influencer. According to this article, there were several steps to creating a cohesive, authentic feed. I thought all of them were a little absurd, and even contradictory. For example, one step dictated that an influencer edit it out all unnecessary parts of their photos. As evidence, they showed what looked, to me, like a normal photo of a family candidly posing in front of their Christmas tree. The main fault with the photo, according to the article, was that the family’s ceiling fan and air conditioning vent was clearly visible in the photo. They suggested that, in order for optimal “goals” status, the ceiling fan and air conditioning vent should be edited out to provide a more pleasing photograph. I read that article a few days ago, and I am still a little upset about it. How can someone purport to have an authentic social media presence if they are editing all of their photos? Is it really aspirational to not have air conditioning vents? I thought having HVAC was aspirational! Only fifty or sixty years ago, it was a luxury to have HVAC, and now we have spoiled people editing their air conditioning vents out of photos because they are not pretty enough. I would much rather see a normal photo of a normal family in front of their normal Christmas tree with their normal HVAC feed than see the same blown-out, forced, shiny, fake photograph that I see on everyone else’s feeds! Whatever has happened to real authenticity?

air ducts

Neglecting furnace maintenance and ending up paying for emergency furnace repair

Winter arrived especially early this year.  I needed to start up the furnace in early September, because the temperature had already dropped to forty degrees.  By the end of September, we had six inches of snow on the ground.  Because of the short fall season, I never got around to hiring an HVAC contractor to perform annual maintenance on the furnace.  I hoped I could get by without the regular cleaning and adjustment for one year.  I am usually conscientious about upkeep and have taken really good care of the heating system.  I went around and cleaned all of the supply and return vents, replaced the batteries in the thermostat and changed the air filter.  I removed the outer casing the heating unit and vacuumed up the dust I could reach.  By the middle of November, the furnace was making a truly horrific grinding sound whenever it started up.  I immediately called my regular HVAC contractor, but he was busy with repairs and could not schedule a repair appointment for six weeks.  I tried three other contractors in the area, but they were all booked solid with repairs.  The severe cold was definitely causing a lot of homeowners problems with their heating systems.  Although I raised the thermostat setting by a few degrees and tried to reduce the workload of the furnace, its performance continued to diminish.  My house was chilly, musty smelling, and my monthly heating bills were super high.  When the furnace quit completely during the middle of the night, I got stuck paying overtime charges for emergency repair.  I couldn’t go without heat when the outside temperature was only eighteen degrees, but I could have just about purchased a new furnace with the cost of that service.

Problems with furnace and air conditioner can be blamed on dirty duct system

My furnace is about eight years old, and my central cooling system is only three years old.  I am very conscientious about changing the air filter every month, and hiring an HVAC contractor to provide proactive maintenance twice per year.  Despite all of the precautions, I noticed that my house was not perfectly comfortable last winter.  The furnace seemed to run for much longer cycles and my monthly energy bills were definitely higher than normal.  Because the house felt slightly chilly, I kept raising the thermostat setting.  I also noticed there was more airborne dust flying around, and I was suffering from frequent headaches.  Once the weather changed, and I started up the air conditioner, I expected my comfort to improve.  Instead, my home had a musty odor and the air conditioner was struggling to handle demand.  When I finally complained to my regular HVAC contractor, he suggested that the problem was most likely with the duct system.  Since the duct system is nearly thirty years old, and had never been serviced, it was definitely in bad shape.  The HVAC contractor brought in a piece of equipment that resembled a giant vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment.  The brush scrubs away stubborn contaminants that are then sucked up into the hose.  The technician informed me that he had found a significant buildup up dust, pollen, bugs, webs and even a decomposing rodent in the duct system.  The duct cleaning service paid for itself in less than a year.  Not only were my monthly bills significantly lower, but the home was cleaner, fresher and far more comfortable.  

ductwork

Springtime comes early

The older I get, the more interesting this country is to me overall. When I was growing up, I never thought much about traveling the united states or learning about the various regions of our large nation. For whatever reason, I thought that every state was approximately the same, and the people who populated each area were generally similar as well. With age and travel I’ve realized that these assumptions were inaccurate, to say the least. Every state has its own culture, accent, and even climate to deal with. As such, there are major differences in the ways that folks live out their lives. I’ve noticed this first hand in my recent relocation to the south, first and foremost. See, the weather here is vastly different than where I grew up, and it causes many practical differences in the ways that people live in this region. For instance, I’m probably the only person in my neighborhood who owns a thick winter coat, because I was accustomed to fending off freezing temperatures in the winter time. I’m probably also the only person who worried about having my furnace serviced before winter set in, because no one else in the area thought they would even need to operate their indoor heater. Here I was gearing up for a brutal winter season, with temperatures well below zero degrees, when in reality the temperature barely dips down into the 40s. I’ve been preparing for a long cold season that extends well into April, and meanwhile the outdoor air temperature has been climbing steadily into the mid 60s each day! While I’ve been waiting for the worst of winter, this folks in this region have been experiencing spring!

Realized it was warm outside

I have been having the hardest time gaging the weather outside lately. Maybe springtime in this area is just different from what I’m used to. It seems like the actual air temperature is always the opposite of what I expect when I’m looking out the window for contextual clues. For the past two weeks or so, the air temperature outdoors has been wildly fluctuating as the spring and winter seasons battle it out in our region. One day it will be frigidly cold, and the very next day it feels as though spring time is in full effect. I know it must be confusing the animals, because even with the help of modern weather predictions, I’m at a total loss each morning. Yesterday in particular was quite tricky. From the time that I woke up I could hear the sound of rain pounding on my window, and when I looked outside the weather appeared so dark and gloomy that I had to turn on all my indoor lights to see. I assumed with the howling wind and dark contrast outside that the air temperature had dropped significantly, and probably was somewhere around 45 degrees that day. As such, I wasn’t motivated in the least to step foot outdoors, and I busied myself working on my computer all day in the comfort of my warm indoor air conditioning equipment. Finally, around 7pm I took a break from my work and let the dog outside. To my complete surprise, it was about 70 degrees! Here I had wasted the whole day indoors, when it was secretly delightfully comfortable outside!

cooling system

Fire without warmth

Each year there is a big celebration in our town.  It always happens the weekend following the Super Bowl.  The townsfolk gather down at the park by the lake for a huge bonfire.  They bring along their Christmas trees and there are lots of outdoor activities you can participate in too. The Christmas trees are used as fuel for the bonfire and it is usually a really good time.  This year, however, there was no way that the bonfire could keep everyone warm. We have had a really rough winter and our temperatures have not even reached the zero mark for much of January.  Many people have had problems with their HVAC systems breaking because they couldn’t keep up with the heavy demand. My friend even had his pipes burst in the basement because they froze.  This year, on the day of the big bonfire and tree burning event, they even had a hard time lighting the fire.  Most of the trees that people brought were wet from the snow and they didn’t catch as easily as they normally did. Because of the moisture, there was more smoke than flames and everyone was freezing.  Thankfully, there is a large building located near the park and they moved the activities inside.  There, at least the HVAC system kept everyone warm  and dry.  The fire never did get as big as it usually did and the trees smoldered for hours.  I hope that next year will be better and the weather will be a little warmer.  I have always enjoyed sitting by the fire and I was disappointed this year.

HVAC service program

Holes in the Ductwork

When we first bought our home, about three years ago, we had a lot of work to do.  Mostly it was just trying to tackle the jungle that the previous owners had called a yard, but there were some other things too.  Once we cut back the foliage from the house we found that there were many places that animals had gotten in through the skirting.  We live in a modular home which means that it was manufactured but placed on a foundation.  All of the plumbing, electrical, and ductwork are located under the house in the crawlspace.  We called out a general contractor to check everything under the house.  We knew that there may be issues because animals can be very destructive when it comes to wiring and such.  He went under the house was down there for quite a while.  When he finally came out, he had a look on his face that told us we had some issues.  He started with the good news, and that was that the plumbing looked good.  He then told us that we had some spots were the wiring had been chewed that needed to be fixed.  The news got worse from there.  He asked about our utility bills and we thought that was strange.  We told him that they were higher than we had expected and he said that was because part of our ductwork was filled with holes.  The air conditioning for that part of the house was going right our under the house.  He was surprised that we didn’t have a family of critters living up in there. He told us that we needed to contact an HVAC dealer because he was not certified to repair those systems.  Besides, he thought it was a good idea to have a complete cleaning of the system anyway because he notices some mold in there too.

air ducts

Gardening and arrangements

I’ve always had a passion for growing things and watching nature. When I was young I used to wander in the backyard and watch the flowers emerge from the ground in springtime.  It was always fun to see the wildflowers coming up in the fields and the pretty landscaped flower beds around town bloom with strategically planned patterns and color combinations. That’s why I decided to become a florist and have my own shop in town.  Most of my clients order my flowers for special occasions like weddings, anniversaries, baby showers, and other fun events.  I love meeting new people and building relationships with everyone in town.  Recently, I was having issues with my coolers in the back room. After I create flower arrangements I keep them fresh in the walk-in glass coolers until the customers can pick them up.  Well, at first it was just the coolers that were having problems but them my entire HVAC system stopped working as well. It is the summertime and my busiest season, and I can’t have my flowers or my customers wilting in the heat!  I called the local HVAC technician and he came right over to investigate the problem.  After searching through the entire HVAC system, he found that the past owner of the building hadn’t cleanded the air ducts in years, and this lapse of regular maintenance was causing the entire HVAC system to malfunction. I closed down heh shop early and the HVAC technician was able to start cleaning right away.  Thankfully, a good cleaning is all that was needed for the air conditioning to work to full capacity again, and none of my inventory was lost.