Sunday, May 6, 2018

Spring HVAC Maintenance

I've stated on here before the importance of doing twice-a-year preventative maintenance on your HVAC system. About a month ago I had the local company we've used for years, James River Air*, out for the spring check up on our air conditioning system. During the course of the visit the technician discovered a problem with the capacitor on our outside condenser unit. Had it not been caught when it was it would have failed in the near future resulting in a miserable wait in the heat for a service visit to repair it.

This is the second time over the years these preventative maintenance visits have caught issues
ahead of time. I also have to believe it's prevented additional problems from occurring. It's a good reminder of the need to have it done and that it's not wasted money to do so.

*I make nothing off the link above but I've used them for years and recommend them. The handful of times I've had issues with service they've been quick to make it right. They even sent my mother flowers after she had to postpone a scheduled HVAC replacement after my father died unexpectedly in 2007. They're a good company with good people.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Furnace Heartbeat

Last week I had a local HVAC company out for fall maintenance on our system. The technician showed me something useful on the system that I wanted to share. Our unit is made by Comfortmaker but this apparently applies to other manufacturers as well.

On the front of the system is a light that they refer to as the heartbeat. Normally it will be a steady flash when everything is working correctly. In the event of a malfunction that flash will change to a pattern. If the issue is intermittent (or you shut the unit off/restart it) that code can disappear before someone can get out to look at it. So he told me if I ever experience a problem to write down the pattern just in case. When a technician arrives it will assist with figuring out and correcting the problem quicker.

On a side note, I've said this before in previous posts but I'll say it again. if you’re not getting your system checked out twice a year, in the spring and fall, start. I’ve been doing it for years and at least once in the past at my last house it caught an issue before it became a larger problem. With the company I use at least it also gives me priority service in the event of a problem. It's money well spent.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Bathroom Fan Cleaning

A few weeks ago it started getting very humid in our master bathroom and bedroom after taking morning showers. Every time I vacuum upstairs I clean the dust off the outside of the cover to the ventilation fan but finally got up on a chair and took a much closer look inside. The cover comes off very easily. Ours at least was held in place with wire hooks on a spring. Pull the cover down and then squeeze the wires together to pull them out of the slots in the ceiling.

While I was able to clean the dust off around the motor with the cover off the only way to clean the fan blades was to remove it from the ceiling. There were two flat headed screws on the right side in the photo above that had to be removed. They weren't in the metal but rather in the drywall itself with the edge of the fan assembly resting on them. The edge of the metal frame has two hooks that fit into slots in the ceiling. There's also a simple two prong electrical plug that needs to be unplugged as well. (I didn't see any reason to shut off the breaker to the bathroom but it might not be a bad idea to do so just in case.) 

This was the fan after removing it from the ceiling. I ended up using a bristle brush attached to my shop vacuum to clean out all the dust in the blades. Putting it back in was as easy as removal. It definitely helped with the humidity and I'll be adding this to list of items to clean every few months to keep it from getting this bad again.

A few days after I cleaned the master bath fan I checked both the hall bath and the downstairs half bath. Both of them were slightly different in the way the cover hooked into the ceiling and the way the fan was mounted in the ceiling. Neither was bad enough to require full removal to clean at least. 

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Morning Room Update

When we signed our sales contract just over three years ago the incentive being offered in our neighborhood at the time was a free morning room addition. The extra space that provided along with the upstairs laundry room were big reasons behind us going with the Sienna versus the Florence. (The next level up in our neighborhood.)

Judging from other blogs most people use theirs as a dining room. We on the other hand envisioned it mainly as a home office along with a playroom for the kids and a spot to relax. We originally had a small couch in there but replaced it last year with this chair from IKEA. Our older son's big gift this past Christmas was an Xbox One (and let's be real here, I wanted to play it too) and we didn't want it upstairs in his room. (See previous parenthesis among other reasons.) I had been looking to add a television in there for a while already and I managed to catch this 39" 1080p Insignia Roku set on sale for $199. It's the perfect size for the room and while we don't have a cable outlet in there the built in Roku means our younger son can still watch his shows without tying up the main television in the living room.

There are two regrets I have with this room:
1. We should have added a ceiling fan rough-in. It can get a bit warm out there in the summer even with the blinds and curtains closed. Eventually I'm going to talk to an electrician about the feasibility of installing one but it would have been far easier and I'm betting cheaper too if it had been done during construction.

2. Not as much of a regret as #1 given the amount of natural light from the windows and sliding glass door but do wish we'd gotten the two extra windows. On the other hand having a solid wall gave us a good spot to hang our college diplomas and I'm not sure where we'd put them otherwise.