How does HVAC work?

I’d be willing to wager that the average homeowner has no idea how their heating, ventilation and air conditioning system works. In fact, I’d be willing to go double or nothing on that wager, and say that the average homeowner doesn’t even know what kind of HVAC system is in place! See, I’ve been in the home remodeling business for several years now. While most potential homeowners always look at the shiny appliances in the kitchen, laundry room and bathroom, they often overlook the “invisible” appliances – things they’d never even think about unless someone brings it up during a tour, usually. I’ve had so many clients over the years that asked me to renovate their kitchen, when they really should be focused on the terrible indoor air quality of their home and what they can do to fix it! Like I said, most people just don’t think about that kind of stuff unless it’s incredibly hot, cold, stuffy or stinky in their home. There’s the occasional homeowner who does request a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, and I get so excited when I’m asked to network and find an HVAC contractor to install their new equipment! Besides, I’m fascinated by heating and air conditioning technology – you’d know that if you ever went to my house, as I have a state-of-the-art HVAC system controlled by a smart thermostat. That temperature control links to my phone, allowing me to control the temperature of my house – even when I’m miles away. Seriously, how can you not be excited about that kind of technology?

what you want

Collecting radiators

Everyone likes to collect something, right? Some of us spend small fortunes every other month, and pick up a rare war artifact from decades past. Others are low-maintenance, and prefer to collect comic books, games and other like items. For me, I’ve always been a fan of collecting old appliances – especially the ones from the fifties or earlier! Those old-fashioned vending machines, jukeboxes and more have such incredible craftsmanship, which really makes me wonder what happened to the “soul” of industry. Maybe I’m just rambling on here, but a great example of this is the old cast-iron radiator I have installed in my home. While my friends have moved into the twenty-first century by installing radiant heated floors, steam boiler systems or even geothermal heat pumps to supply heat in their home, I’ve historically relied on the same old iron radiator in my living room as a heat source. Aside from this old machine still being able to crank out the heat on cold nights, this radiator also has my heart due to the intricate decorations, designs and engravings covering the entire radiator! You don’t see that kind of skilled work on any modern heating and air conditioning appliances. Instead, modern equipment looks so plain, robotic and, well… boring! Though I do admit, it’s certainly far more efficient when it comes to energy use, and these modern appliances are incredibly easy to use and customize to suit your needs. Maybe the best approach to keeping your house comfy is to use something borrowed and something new?

ac program

Art museum

The other weekend, my wife and I went to an art museum. I had to admit, the works of art were absolutely stunning. We would walk up to each piece of art and speak our thoughts about it. There were all types of art from painting to sculptures and other interesting masterpieces. I remember asking a worker at the museum about the climate control settings. I said it was extremely comfortable and they must have paid a fortune to keep the climate control settings just right. She went on to say how they did have a fancy HVAC system to preserve the art work. She was saying that the humidity levels had to be kept just right so the canvases would not become overly dry or too moist. She also said that they had a backup generator for power failures because the art could be ruined if the HVAC system didn’t continue to function and keep the air quality just right. I was impressed by that and especially impressed by all the magnificent art that we were able to see. I definitely wanted to come back to this nice art museum with my wife in the near future so we could revisit these wonderful pieces of art. It’s amazing to me how creative these people are. I know that I wouldn’t be able to create such brilliant pieces of art like that. I bet those paintings and sculptures would be worth a great deal of money sometime in the future. I was glad to hear that they cared a lot about keeping them properly preserved so they could last for a very long time.

learning right here

The tear jerker

I remember a few weekends ago, I was very inspired when they had poetry night at a local establishment. I was there with my wife and we were enjoying some good food and listening to the various performances. It’s odd that I was most impressed with this poetry written by an HVAC professional. The way he put the words together with going out there in the brutal conditions to help people bring their HVAC systems back to life was rather inspirational. I honestly never thought I could be so touched by someone talking about repairing heating and cooling systems, but when it came to emergency situations, there really was something special to it. It’s not a problem that my wife and I have to worry about because we are proactive with our HVAC system maintenance. For those people who aren’t proactive or don’t know any better, these HVAC technicians are often sent to rescue these people from severe weather conditions. It could be a scorching hot day in the midst of a heatwave or a terrible blizzard in the middle of the winter months. These HVAC technicians will work their way through the storm to get to these families and literally save their lives. When I looked around at the end of this man’s poetry reading, a lot of people were brought to tears. You could tell the experiences were real and very personal with this HVAC professional and even he was choked up a little bit. I think what really got everyone at the end was the little girl he talked about who said thank you for saving her family.

quality HVAC

Grandma broke furnace from 1000 miles away, smart thermo

I swear to god, my grandmother is one of the most demanding and entitled humans alive. She is always insisting that people drop everything and attend to her every whim; not because she’s too old to be capable, but simply because that’s who she’s always been. Her entire life has been managed by other people looking out for her, and without my grandpa around, she counts entirely on my mother and her other daughters. If it isn’t one thing, it’s another. Even when she packs up and moves to Florida to endure the cold winters, no one is free from her reign of terror. In fact, she actually managed to make it worse from a distance this year! Apparently my Aunt made the mistake of having a smart thermostat installed in my grandma’s house last year. My grandma was always complaining that she didn’t know if the house was okay or the heat was staying on, so my Aunt decided to give her the means to monitor the indoor air quality from 1000 miles away. Unfortunately, my grandma doesn’t have much else to keep her busy when she’s out lounging in the Florida sun each winter. This means, she wound up using the smart thermostat app on her phone roughly 10 times a day. She consistently monitored the air temperature in her house up north and modified the furnace settings to compensate for perceived air quality changes. Fast forward to two weeks into her seasonal trip, and her old furnace was broken down. Not only did the smart thermostat create even more obsessive material for my grandma, but my mom had to go handle the professional HVAC appointment and installation of a whole new central heating system without so much as a “thanks.”

AC system revolts, Indian summer

Everyone I know right now is sick, and the reason is clear. It’s not that there’s some horrible superbug going around, infecting the entire population. Instead, I’m pretty positive that the cause is completely environmental. You see, our outdoor air temperature has been all over the place for a few weeks now, and I’m certain it can’t be good for anyone. One week it was 30 degrees and rainy each day. The next week our cloudy skies spontaneously cleared up and the temperature rose back into the 40s for a while. Without warning, the temperature then skyrocketed back into the 70s without a single apology for the rollercoaster. As such, everybody switched back and forth between putting on heavy layers to compensate for the low air temperature and donning tank tops when the sun was shining. It’s been a wild ride and I doubt it’s good for anyone’s immune system. I know it hasn’t been good for my HVAC system! During all of these climate changes our thermostat has seen a lot of activity. We were actually using the central heat on a daily basis until the the outdoor temperature spiked again. Suddenly, we were shutting off the furnace and asking the AC unit to show up for work once more… the problem is, our AC unit apparently was ready for a long winter hibernation. The cooling system definitely did not appreciate a sudden call to duty, and instead of powering back up to provide fresh, cool indoor air, the whole AC unit went down in a steaming heap. By the time we had a professional HVAC technician inspect and repair the central cooling system our temperature had shifted again and we were back to using the furnace.

air conditioner business

Gas was never turned on

Sometimes I really wonder about my man. He’s so smart in so many ways… and then really surprises me in other ways when he does incredibly stupid shit. This morning, for instance, it came to light that he had not ever taken care of our insurance payment because he couldn’t’ remember the login information online. Therefore, he just let our policy expire because he didn’t make the time to call customer service. I swear to god, there are days that I almost murder him for his stupidity. That’s why I really shouldn’t be surprised about our little heating and cooling mishap the other week. I woke up one morning to find that it was suddenly Fall! The air temperature outside had suddenly plummeted by about 25 degrees, and as such, the indoor air temperature had become surprisingly brisk, as well. At first I ran down to the thermostat and began punching at the furnace power button, trying to increase the heater settings to at least 70 degrees. The thermostat responded, but I never heard the central heating equipment kick into gear as I got ready for work. By the time I walked out the door that morning, I was chilled to the bone and convinced that we had a major heating issue. Of course, my guy and I then had to argue over whether or not we should call out an HVAC specialist to look over the furnace, because he was convinced that the HVAC repair could be done without a professional’s opinion. Fast forward to three days later, we still had no working heat in the house. Literally as I picked up the phone to call the nearest ventilation specialist, my boyfriend had a brilliant revelation. The furnace wasn’t broken at all, but he had never set up the gas in our house to power the heating device.

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Guilty record – smart thermostat

Sometimes it helps to be ignorant, that’s what I’ve come to understand after 30 years on this planet. I’m all for gathering information and making informed decisions, but I also think that there are times when it’s best to just go with the flow. The air flow, that is. You see, right now our home heating and cooling system is in a period of great turmoil. My man and I have been trying desperately to save money and get in good financial standing for the first time in our lives. We’re cutting costs at every corner, and keeping an eye on all of our regular expenses to make sure we’re optimizing our spending every chance possible. That’s why we went ahead and invested in a smart thermostat for the house last month. We knew that the central heating and cooling system was not being operated the most efficient way possible, and we wanted to pinpoint our areas of weakness in the area of indoor air temperature control. I thought that it was a great idea to have a digital ventilation mediator… but I didn’t realize how poorly it was going to reflect on me. It turns out that our new smart thermostat does more than to monitor our daily habits and optimize the operation of the central heating and cooling machinery over time. The wifi-enabled thermostat actually records every single temperature modification that’s ever made, including timestamps. Here I thought we were going to learn some enlightening information about our home air temperature control equipment usage, and all we’ve really determined so far is that I have a bad thermostat habit. There’s no way to erase the data, and my boyfriend is up my butt about changing the indoor temperature. Now I’m constantly in hot water.

temperature control

Doing a basic DIY inspection of my evaporator coil

The summer has officially arrived and so has the hot and muggy weather.  After four months of snow and ice and about a month and a half of a moderately quick thaw, the summer weather is usually welcomed with open arms right as we slide into May and June.  But just like our intense winter season, the hot summer weather gives way to more intense and humid weather in July and August. By this time every year, I have been using my air conditioner religiously.  I typically have a quick inspection every May with my local HVAC supplier and assume I am set and ready to go for the impending swelter. This year something seemed off with my air conditioner’s performance.  It felt like it was lagging and the force of the air itself leaving the vents felt considerably weak and not nearly as cold as it normally would be. I decided to unscrew the front panel to my air handler to get a better look inside before scheduling another HVAC maintenance call.  Once I had my flashlight pointed in and could look around, I noticed quite a bit of dust in the areas past my air filter, with some on the outside of the evaporator coil as well. This was worrisome because my HVAC tech had billed me for a cleaning two months prior, and this looked like two years worth of gunk and buildup.  Inspecting the bottom of the evaporator coil through a different panel on the unit revealed the source of the problem. I had microbial build up caked into the bottom sides of the large coil, preventing the needed airflow to keep the system running properly. I promptly called a different HVAC supplier over and they were able to blast away the gunk from my coil with a compressed air gun.   They explained that the reusable fiberglass filter that my previous HVAC supplier had provided me with was insufficient for properly filtering out dust and other particles in my air, leading to considerable buildup on my coil over time. If it had gone unnoticed any longer, it would have caused the coil to crack and leak coolant, slowing down the whole system to a gradual halt.

cooling repair

Big city scams

A few months ago when I was apartment hunting with my girlfriend, we found what we thought was a gem of an apartment. It was located in downtown, had decent reviews, and was much more spacious than any of the other apartments in our price range. We were so aggressive that we actually signed the lease before we took a tour of the place. We were very impressed by the photos that we had seen online, we thought it was a wise decision. Fast forward to the present day, and my partner and i are kicking ourselves every day for the dumb decision that we made. Not only is the apartment not nearly as nice as it looked online, but the a/c unit nor the heated gas furnace actually work. We were told after we signed the one year lease that the apartment was a “work in progress” and they did not technically say that the heating and cooling units in the living area actually functioned at the moment. Due to this disaster, my partner and I have to do most of our online work at a nearby coffee shop, where they actually have working heating and cooling. Except here we have to deal with loud tourists and crying babies at nearly all hours of the day. To be honest it is hard to enjoy the fresh a/c when there are so many people breathing down your neck. After this one year lease is finally up in a few months, we are getting far away from this sketchy city.

HVAC dealership