Carney All Seasons Blog: Posts Tagged ‘Gwynedd Valley’

What is a Hybrid Heating System?

Monday, March 11th, 2013

A hybrid heating system combines a gas furnace with an electric heat pump. It provides excellent comfort year round, and tends to be most energy-efficient during moderate heating conditions. While conventional heating solutions opt for one or the other, a hybrid heating system seeks to find a balance between comfort and efficiency, and passes the savings on to you. For more information about hybrid heating in Maple Glen, PA, get in touch with Carney Plumbing, Heating & Cooling. We offer an extensive selection of hybrid heating systems, and we have a team of highly experienced and certified technicians ready to help you install it.

As you probably know, a gas furnace works by drawing energy from natural gas and converting it to hot air to be distributed throughout your home by ducts. A heat pump does not heat air, so much as move heat indoors or outdoors, depending upon the season. It works similarly to an air conditioner, although it does not tend to cool as effectively as a stand-alone air conditioner. That said, an air conditioner only cools, while a heat pump can work throughout the year.

The purpose of the hybrid heating system is to react automatically to changing outside temperatures, and to adjust to the most energy-efficient heating method accordingly. The beauty of this system is in its versatility. On those extremely cold days, your system senses the necessary adjustment and fires up your gas furnace to provide extra heat. On moderate days, your heat pump moves the heat inside the home by the circulation of a refrigerant.

The great thing about this system is that a heat pump also provides cooling in the summer. As a comprehensive system, your hybrid heating system can actually work for you all year long, which means energy and cost savings throughout the year. Not only that, but putting your heat pump to work on moderate days, you are also reducing the amount of fossil fuels used, which make the hybrid heating system far more eco-friendly than conventional furnace-based systems.

For more information about hybrid heating systems in Maple Glen, PA, or to schedule a consultation, call Carney Plumbing, Heating & Cooling today!


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Basic Home Heating Safety Tips

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

While you should schedule a yearly maintenance visit with a qualified HVAC technician to check for any safety concerns, you can also reduce potential safety hazards in the heating system of your North Wales home. Whether you have a furnace, heat pump, or boiler, you can substantially decrease the chances of dangerous situations with a few minor routine tasks.

If you have any questions about how to better maintain your heating system, give Carney Plumbing, Heating & Cooling a call to speak with one of our expert HVAC technicians. Here are a few guidelines to get you started.

Ventilation in Forced-air Systems:

  • Regularly vacuum and clean out your heating vents and fan blower.
  • Check the condition of your chimney and vent pipe to make sure that none of the parts are damaged or show signs of deterioration.
  • Test the thermostat occasionally to make sure your heating system is working at optimal levels. There could be a safety concern if your heater is not properly heating your home.

Heat Exchangers:

  • Heat exchangers should be inspected often to prevent carbon monoxide leaks. Check for any obvious issues, such as rust or other damages.
  • The heat exchanger for furnaces should be inspected by a professional once a year in case there are hidden problems with the equipment, or if any of the components need to be replaced.
  • Check the pilot light in gas furnaces for any flickers or changes in color. Have someone turn up the thermostat while you watch the light, but turn off the system for five minutes first. If there are any changes, there could be a problem with the heat exchanger. Call a professional if you suspect issues with your heat exchanger.

Heating Equipment Inspections and Adjustments:

  • Boilers should be drained regularly to reduce sediment buildup, in addition to testing the water level safety controls. It’s best to have a North Wales professional perform these tasks if you aren’t sure how to do them on your own.
  • Adjust the temperature settings if you suspect that the heater isn’t working properly, and if it doesn’t work call a professional heating technician, or if you aren’t sure how to locate or adjust the controls.
  • Check the overall equipment for cracks, rust, or any other obvious signs of damage or deterioration that could create safety hazards.

In addition to performing these tasks, call a licensed heating contractor to inspect your heating system at least once a year.

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What Is the Best Temperature to Heat My Home?

Friday, January 20th, 2012

Saving on energy costs is important for every Gwynedd Valley homeowner, but it’s not always clear what the average temperature would need to be in order to lower your heating bills. Generally, it’s best not to turn your thermostat above 68°F when you are at home, and to turn it down ten to fifteen degrees when you leave the house or while you’re sleeping. This can save up to 15% on your heating bills, but keep in mind that this percentage is greater in milder climates than colder climates.

Remembering to turn down the heat when you don’t need it is the biggest challenge when trying to save heat. One of the easiest ways to do this is to install a programmable thermostat that allows you to set the times you want the heat turned up or down. This will ensure that you are consistent with turning your heat down, and you can set it to turn on before you get up in the morning so that the house is already warm when you get out of bed. Depending on the brand and setting options, programmable thermostats are relatively inexpensive and easy to install.

One common misunderstanding about thermostats is that it takes more energy for the heating system to warm up the house after the thermostat has been turned down for an extended period of time. The belief is that the energy saved by not producing heat is cancelled out by the work it takes to heat up the home again.  This is not the case, however, since the lower the temperature is inside your home, the longer it takes to lose heat. You will actually save more energy the longer the thermostat is set at a lower temperature. Conversely, the same theory applies to the cost of cooling your home in the summer, since higher interior temperatures slow down the flow of heat into the home.

Overall, if you want to save on heating costs, you should keep your home below 70°F as much as possible, and turn down the thermostat about fifteen degrees when you don’t need the heat. Closing off the doors and vents to unused rooms will also save energy, and you can put on extra clothing to help remind you to turn down the heat a few degrees while you are home. You don’t have to spend a fortune to heat your Gwynedd Valley home if you are consistent with your thermostat settings.

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Plumber Tip: How to Replace a Bathroom Vanity

Monday, December 12th, 2011

Because it looks something like a dresser combined with a kitchen counter, you may think of your Jamison home’s bathroom vanity as being a piece of furniture, and therefore that it is simple to replace. Well, there’s good news and bad news there.

The bad news is that because of the sinks and pipes involved, your vanity is part of your plumbing system, so it’s a little trickier than getting a new sofa.

The good news is that it is still something you can do on your own – or at least with a friend – in a few hours or so. After you have measured the space and purchased the new vanity, here is how you can go about replacing the old one:

  1. Shut off the water supply. This is always the first step when undertaking any sort of plumbing work. Put a bucket beneath the sink to catch any water that drips from the supply lines after you disconnect them.
  2. Using a putty or utility knife, loosen the caulk that is sealing the countertop. Gently remove the countertop.
  3. Detach the vanity from the wall. Most vanity units are screwed in place to the wall, so just spot and remove all the screws.
  4. Mark the studs in preparation for positioning the new vanity. Hint: the old one was already drilled into the studs, if it was done properly.
  5. Put the new vanity in place, making sure it is flush to the wall.
  6. Attach the new vanity to the wall, taking care to screw into the wall studs that you marked in step #4.
  7. Put a bead of caulk along the top of the vanity base to hold the countertop in place. Carefully set in the new countertop.
  8. Reconnect the plumbing that you disconnected as part of step #1.
  9. Put down a thin bead of caulk along the edges of the countertop below the lip. Smooth the caulk in place with a damp rag.

Now your new vanity is all set. Allow the caulk to dry before getting moisture near it, and don’t forget to turn the water supply back on! And if you need any help, talk to your local plumber.

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What is a Gas Furnace Draft Hood?

Monday, December 5th, 2011

As any Maple Glen heating contractor knows, a draft hood is a necessary part of any gas burning appliance. For a gas furnace in particular it ensures steady air flow to the burners to avoid flares or the pilot light being put out by fluctuation in temperature and air flow.

What the Draft Hood Does

The draft will change in the chimney as exhaust vents towards it – especially when going from cold air to hot. A draft hood is placed above the upper most part of the gas furnace to draw air into the chimney and makes it possible to draw more or less air through the chimney as necessary to create a constant flow.

This makes it possible for the burner to enjoy consistent air flow without any wind gusts or sudden temperature spikes or drops. Hot air, if not put through a draft hood would create a strong air flow through the burners.

A draft hood cools the air as it is released by the burners from 500 degrees F to between 300 degrees F and 350 degrees F. The cooling needs to be carefully calibrated to avoid condensation build up in the chimney however – a problem that occurs when the temperature gets too low.

Maintaining Pressure

The draft hood is a part of a larger system designed to maintain air flow to the chimney. For every cubic foot of gas burned, the furnace needs to have 15 cubic feet of air for combustion and another 15 cubic feet of air for dilution. A draft hood and the rest of the ventilation system make it possible to put a furnace that has many thousands of BTUs in the basement of your home and still supply it with enough air to burn gas and dilute the exhaust before it enters the chimney.

For all of these reasons, if you see your pilot light flickering irregularly, notice a backflow of exhaust or a burning smell in your furnace room, it’s important to call a professional heating contractor who can inspect and repair the problem before it becomes any worse. Not only can gas burner exhaust contain high levels of carbon monoxide, it can be bad for the device and the chimney if it doesn’t vent properly.

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What Are Limit Switches and How Do They Work?

Friday, May 27th, 2011

When you set the thermostat on your air conditioning system, you pretty take for granted that the system will maintain that temperature throughout your house. But did you ever stop to think about how it’s actually accomplished? The truth is that there are many moving parts that all play a role in keeping your home cool and comfortable, and one of these is the limit switch.

What Is a Limit Switch?

Although you’re probably not aware of it, you’ve encountered plenty of limit switches over the years. A limit switch is anything that stops an electric appliance under certain circumstances. The little switch that turns the light on in the refrigerator when you open the door and then off again when you close it is the perfect example of a limit switch. Another common one is the switch that stops your washer or dryer from running when you open the door. Limit switches are used for a variety of appliances and gadgets to not only save electricity but to keep you and your device safe.

Limit Switches and Air Conditioning

The limit switch on your air conditioning system is the link between the blower on your air handler and the thermostat. When the thermostat senses that the desired indoor temperature has been reached, it stops the air conditioner from producing any more cold air. At that point, it’s important for the blower to stop functioning as well.

If it doesn’t, the blower will continue to move and warm air rather than cold will begin circulating throughout your home. However, if the blower shuts off too soon, the cold air that’s still being generated by the air conditioner won’t be able to circulate. So it’s essential that the blower be switched off at the same time the cold air stops arriving. That’s exactly what the limit switch does.

While it’s only one very small part of a large machine, the limit switch in your air conditioner plays a vital role in keeping your home comfortable and in allowing your air conditioning system to function as efficiently as possible.

If you notice that your air conditioner is shutting off too soon or not soon enough, it may be because of a broken limit switch. Sometimes, the system simply needs to be reset, something you can do with the help of your owner’s manual. However, if your limit switch is broken, you should contact a professional to take a look and determine if it needs to be replaced.

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Spring Maintenance Tips For Outside the House

Monday, May 16th, 2011

Harsh winter weather can take its toll on a home, so the warmth of spring is a great opportunity to whip the place back into shape. Finding time now to do some maintenance on the outside of your home can save a lot more time, trouble and expense down the road, as well as helping retain resale value. Below are some tips to keep your home in good repair.

On The House:

  • Take a trip to the roof to check for damage. Look for loose, damaged, or missing shingles, as well as any other spots that look suspect. If you have a roof that is not shingled (e.g., sheet metal), look for visible signs of damage. Replace shingles, patch holes, and make other repairs as needed. Consider having a new roof installed if damage is extensive.
  • Inspect roof fascia and trim for rotting, damage or deterioration.
  • Clean out your roof gutters. The combination of the autumn leaves and winter ice can leave them clogged and unable to properly drain. You may also find that the forces of nature have caused some breakage, so repair and/or replace any pieces that need it.
  • Carefully examine the seals on your windows, doors, and any protruding vents. (Reminder: when was the last time you took a look at your dryer vent?) Apply new sealant to any holes or over any spots where the sealant looks like it is brittle or degraded.

Around The House:

  • Trim any trees, branches or shrubs that touch the house or are beginning to dangerously encroach. Be sure to look up; winter storms may have damaged some high branches, creating a situation where roof damage is just waiting to happen. Clean up any wood debris left in the yard, as these can attract termites.
  • When setting up your sprinklers on the lawn, aim them away from the house. Water around the foundation can cause flooding and attract termites.
  • Repair any cracks, holes or loose material in your driveway. This keeps loose asphalt and gravel from getting dragged inside and damaging floors. It also extends the life of your automobile.

This may seem like a lot of work, but putting in this bit of effort up front will save you plenty more work (and expense) in the future. Plus, once you’re done, you get to put your feet up, enjoy the warm spring weather, and wait for summer to come.

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Moisture Barrier for Basement Floor

Friday, April 8th, 2011

One of the most frustrating aspects of a basement, even when it’s finished properly, is the sheer volume of moisture that builds up throughout the year. Because of the natural properties of changing temperatures, the shift in indoor and outdoor environments will cause condensation in your basement which can be damaging not only to your home but to the items you store there.

A moisture barrier is designed to block and redirect moisture away from the things you care about. By keeping moisture outside of your basement, a moisture barrier blocks the buildup of condensation on your basement floor.

Signs You Need a Moisture Barrier

Not everyone needs a moisture barrier. Some basements are better insulated than others. However, if you notice that your basement undergoes a severe shift in humidity and condensation as the weather changes, you should act quickly before it causes damage.

Specifically, look for symptoms that your basement has too much moisture. Rust on your appliances is a big sign of excess moisture, especially above the ground where standing water might occur. Another symptom is mold growing on the wood frames of windows or underneath stairs. If you notice damp spots on foundation walls or peeling paint these are also signs of excess moisture in your basement.

Installing a Moisture Barrier

You now know if you have a moisture problem, but how do you fix it? A moisture or vapor barrier can get the job done. While no moisture barrier is 100% impermeable, they will generally stop most of the moisture that passes from outside to inside when temperatures vary significantly. The type of material used will vary depending on the level of moisture problem you have. Aluminum, plastic, asphalt and metallized film all work well for this.

Beyond a moisture barrier, you can take other actions to stop condensation in your basement. If you keep the air moving, it will reduce a lot of the moisture build up. Moving air with fans in your basement keeps moisture from settling and creating problems. You can also improve your insulation so that temperature is better regulated inside your home.

Moisture barriers are a great tool for stopping damage in your basement. This is only for condensation, however. Make sure, if you have a more severe water problem in your basement that you look into the installation of a French drain, sump pump, or drain tile system.

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What Is Geothermal Heating?

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Having a geothermal heating system installed in your home means that you will actually be able to heat your home with heat extracted from the ground. If this sounds a bit preposterous to you, you are certainly not alone. But this type of home heating does actually work and the technology is not actually that much different from what is used in a standard heat pump system.

Regular heat pumps are able to remove heat from the outdoor air and transfer it into your house to maintain a comfortable temperature in the winter. You may think that there is no heat in the outdoor air in the winter, but that is not actually the case.

Air contains a substantial amount of heat even at very cold temperatures, and heat pumps are able to work quite well, particularly when the outdoor temperature is above freezing. Conveniently, the same process used to heat your house in the winter can be reversed in the summer to extract heat from the indoor air, providing you with a year round home comfort solution.

Geothermal heating works in much the same way, except that geothermal heat pumps extract heat from the ground rather than the air. In order to accomplish this, a loop of pipes is installed in the ground near your house and your geothermal heating system will pump a liquid, generally either antifreeze or water, through those pipes.

As it passes through the pipes, the liquid will absorb heat from the ground and carry it back to a heat exchanger within your house. At that point, the heat from the liquid will be released into air, which is then blown throughout your house.

And just as conventional heat pumps can cool your house in the summer by removing heat and pumping it outside, so too can geothermal heating systems. They do this simply by letting the liquid flowing through the pipes absorb the heat from inside air and then release it into the ground as it travels through the pipe loop below your house.

Because the ground is never as cold in the winter or as hot in the summer as the air, geothermal heat pumps are actually able to work effectively in more extreme conditions than many traditional heat pumps. However, because they require an entire system of pipes to be installed underground, they can be quite a bit more expensive initially as well.

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Compression vs. Cartridge Faucets

Friday, February 18th, 2011

If you are like most people, you probably do not think too much about what goes on inside your faucet when you turn it on and off. All you need is for the water to flow when you want it to and to stop when you do not. But when the time comes to replace or repair one of the faucets in your home, it is helpful to know a little bit about how the different types of faucets work and what the pros and cons of each can be.

The oldest and most common types of faucets are compression faucets. When one of these faucets is in the off position, a small washer inside creates a seal that keeps water from flowing through and into the tap. But when you turn the faucet on, the stem inside raises up, which takes the pressure off of the washer and breaks the seal. That allows the water to flow until you lower the stem back down again by turning the faucet off.

These faucets are generally easy to find and relatively cheap. They are also easy to install or repair on your own, and this is fortunate because they do tend to develop leaks periodically. That is primarily because the washer inside will wear out over time and need to be replaced. This is a rather straightforward and simple process, but if you do not want to have to deal with it, you may want to consider your other option.

The other main type of faucet on the market today is a cartridge faucet. Instead of washers, these types of faucets employ a cartridge which seals to the faucet base with several O-rings. These types of faucets can often be quite a bit more expensive, although you can certainly find some that are reasonably priced. They are also much less prone to developing leaks, and when they do they are quite easy to repair as well.

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