My wife is opening a new daycare in a building that was a daycare before it went out of business a couple of years ago. It's not open yet and she is there alone cleaning, organizing, etc. This sound (short phone video clip) happens 2 or 3 times a day. She said it seems to be coming from a closet with a lot of pipes in it. Any idea what this is? She isn't sure if she should be calling a plumber, the HVAC guy, or the fire suppression systems guy.
When sizing an air conditioner for a multi-zone house, do you size it for the full house or for the largest zone? How much cooling do I really need? [more inside]
Long story short: I called an HVAC company that I used to work for because our boiler was having issues. They came out the next morning, gave me a deal on the labor rate, and reset the whole system. Less than 12 hours later, it's on the fritz again. I feel awkward about asking for a refund because they gave me a deal and came out right away, but they only temporarily fixed the problem. Should we or shouldn't we ask for a full or partial refund? [more inside]
My heat pump (a 10 SEER packaged unit) is dead. It would cost at least $800 to fix it, assuming it's an easy fix. If not, it would either be unfixable (because no one makes the coils anymore), or cost well over $1k (if, for example, the reversing valve needs to be fixed/replaced). So I've had a few different quotes on new heat pumps, and can't decide what to do... Can anyone shed some light on the best route to take? [more inside]
I'd like an easy way to keep track of what I need to do on a seasonal, annual, and 5-year basis to ensure my home is functioning well. I'm looking for a way to keep track of when the last time various systems were serviced and/or what I need to do in the next month. How do you keep track of your maintenance cycles and tasks? [more inside]
I'm trying to replace an old analog, mercury tube Carrier thermostat with a programmable one. I'm having two problems. [more inside]
My central air system for the upstairs has croaked and I am replacing the chiller and air-handler. I have two quotes in hand from my chosen vendor: one for a 2-ton chiller (using the existing flex ducts, circa 1994) and the other for a 1.5-ton unit plus new, R-8 ductwork. The cost difference is pretty big; will the smaller-capacity unit save me enough in electricity costs to pay for the duct work? [more inside]
The outside condenser unit for my AC, which provides AC to the second floor of my house, has a bad condenser/motor (it's seized). I've had two techs look at it, and both recommend replacing both the outside unit and the air handler in the attic, since the condenser is old (20 years) and runs on R22. Can I just replace the outside unit with a used R22 condenser without worrying about the air handler? [more inside]
My place has forced heat. I'm getting quotes to cut in AC. Most reviews I read say the person who quoted the job said they should replace their ducts, and this seems like a typical upsell. Sure enough, at the first quote, the guy suggested replacing my ducts. How do I know if I need to do that or not? [more inside]
I'm trying to hook up my smart thermostat, but it needs a wire that isn't currently connected at the furnace. Am I doing the right thing? [more inside]
No, that's not a euphemism for crying. It really is very dusty in my house. Is running the HVAC fan 24 x 7 a smart way to reduce dust? [more inside]
We're looking to have our home HVAC system replaced, and have received many quotes. However, we're having a hard time selecting the winner. Details below. [more inside]
Do you have radiant heating/cooling in your house or have you spent time in a house with it? What was your experience with it? [more inside]
I'm debating whether to simply replace my aging gas furnace with a more efficient one, or to add an air-source heat pump for primary heating (and cooling in summer when needed), and replace the gas furnace with a cheaper 80% efficient model for backup heat in winter. [more inside]
We have a new gas boiler in our building. There is a lot of vibration being generated from the hot water pump (the old one was re-used) that manifests itself in a continual rattling of the baseboard hot water radiator in the apartment directly above the boiler. How do I get rid of this noise? The radiators are twelve inches high, five feet long and covered with a detachable metal grille cover. When it gets going, the vibrations can be felt on the grille cover, as well as the hot water pipes underneath. I'm guessing this was not a problem before because the old (massive) boiler dampened the vibrations.
We're planning on getting the Aprilaire 800 steam humidifier installed. But, the question is: upstairs, where we sleep, or downstairs? [more inside]
Hello, I'm currently looking at replacing my mother's heating and air conditioning units because they are both frequently broken and both old and inefficient. I'm hoping that this can be used as an opportunity to save money, even though it will be a sizable upfront expense. [more inside]
The heat registers in one room of my house do not output very much air. I estimate less than 10% of the flow that comes from any other register in the house. I have easy access to all of the ductwork in my unfinished basement. I would like to open up the duct from the furnace as the first step of troubleshooting this problem. I've never done any ductwork before. Is ductwork straightforward, at least in a take-it-apart and put-it-back together sense? [more inside]
An old waste pipe in my apartment, that shouldn't have been connected to anything, overflowed earlier this week. The pipe was in the bottom of my interior HVAC closet. I had standing water in the location for slightly over 12 hours. Maintenance came out to repair the pipe and replaced part of it. Now I've got a nauseating smell pervading my downstairs. What could this be from, and what if anything does my landlord need to do about it? More after the cut. [more inside]
Received an incredibly expensive plumbing bill for two hour's worth of work. Can I negotiate this down? [more inside]
We own a house. It's a kind of large, built-in-the-50s, added-on-to-in-the-80s, sprawly ranch-style house, but with 2 bedrooms, with vaulted ceilings, on the second floor. (Our kids' rooms.) In the summertime, they get hot, because of a.) vaulted ceilings - I've blown in insulation where I could, but there's still only 4 inches between them and the roof; b.) open stairway to downstairs - keeping the doors to the rooms closed helps a little, but kids don't really "get" that; and c.) crappy ductwork - the furnace is new, but the ducts are old, and it's a long, bendy run from the basement to the kids' rooms. I'm toying with some options for trying to improve the comfort level in our house - you are not my HVAC specialist (and I'm not opposed to talking to one), but am trying to see if my logic is sound. Special melting snowflake details inside. [more inside]
What am I not understanding about my HVAC system? [more inside]
We have a single stage HVAC system without a common wire. Reviews online suggest that the nest can be pretty unreliable with our kind of system. Anyone with experience who could provide their perspective? I also like the ecobee, but it appears to not work without a common wire. If neither is workable, is there a good alternative for a SS HVAC without a common wire, or should I wait for the technology to further mature? Thanks!
I live in a small, 10-unit apartment and have an ongoing issue with noise. There is a constant humming sound around 375 hz that is particularly loud in our apartment and on our floor. [more inside]
We have a Ruud Achiever 90 Plus with variable speed motor. It works great heating up the house, but when it's trying to maintain the temperature (say it's set for 65 and it's currently 65), it constantly clicks. The sound is very annoying. Does anyone know what would cause this? [more inside]
How can I eliminate (or mask) a weird smell in my house's A/C? [more inside]
I have come to understand that a typical modern window or residential-central air conditioner (which I believe is referred to in the industry as a "Direct Expansion" or DX unit) has a coefficient of performance which typically ranges between 3.0 and 3.5. That is to say, for every unit of energy consumed, the air conditioner removes between 3 and 3.5 units of heat from the conditioned space. I have a few questions regarding this, inside. [more inside]
I moved to the Pacific Northwest; absolutely none of the apartments I've toured feature air conditioning. How do I use the amenities I do have to improve comfort and quality of life? [more inside]
Who has had a powerful fan for longer than three years without it breaking or doing something irritating? What's the make and model? [more inside]
HVAC question: I live on the top floor of a large apartment building that has all the air conditioning heat exchangers on the roof. It is currently snowstorming. Why can I hear multiple heat exchangers running right now? [more inside]
I have an old style furnace that has been cleaned (by vacuuming) on a mostly annual basis for about 20 years. Should I pay the big bucks to get it scraped out by a professional? [more inside]
I was away from the house last night when I got a text from my wife about a strange "fertilizer" smell coming from the basement of our house. I came home a few hours later and smelled it immediately - hard to describe, but a slightly acrid, recognizable chlorine-y scent reminiscent of a garden center. It was noticeable on the first floor but stronger in the basement. I sniffed around for a while but couldn't locate an obvious source. The only thing I could find that was awry was that the pilot light had gone out in the water heater (only time that's happened), which is suggestive of a chimney backdraft. I relit the pilot without issue and verified that the water heater was venting correctly with a stick of Nag Champa. Multiple C02 detectors in the house detected nothing. We'll have an HVAC guy come out ASAP, but I'm wondering if anyone else has experienced this and whether I'm diagnosing the issue correctly. Is this what water heater fumes smell like? We've lived in the house for a year, and this is the first time it's happened. [more inside]
New high efficiency boilers installed - great! But what exactly is in the condensate? [more inside]
Are there improvements that can be done to them to improve their efficiency and safety? Are there retrofits? Would I be able to purchase something more modern that would directly replace the existing units? [more inside]
Whenever I change my furnace filter (approx every 60-90 days), it's always bent inwards towards the furnace fan. It's gotten significantly worse this year, and tonight when I tried to replace it, the filter was nearly sucked into the furnace. What causes this? Do I need to call for service? [more inside]
Our new-to-us-but-very-old home needs a new boiler (and water heater). What are our best options? [more inside]
I have an unusual house, a winterized cabin that's fairly tightly sealed but with a crawl space beneath and no attic (cathedral ceilings). The whole space is heated with one propane stove, the kind with the fake logs and real flames, which is quite nice; a large ceiling fan on the second floor helps move the air around. I have had moisture problems -- condensation on all windows in the winter, mildew growing on certain furniture, books, shoes, etc. for the entire time I've lived here, but it seems like it's been getting slowly worse. Given my unusual HVAC set-up, what kind of specialist should I call to diagnose the problem? I know I could just buy a dehumidifier but I'd rather get to the heart of the problem.
Who is the absolute best heating contractor in the Twin Cities? [more inside]
We have a 2000sqft house with central air. We are fine keeping it at 76 or warmer during the day, but like a cold bedroom at night. Surely getting a window unit for our bedroom and closing the door makes more sense than cooling down the whole house at night. Even if we did close all the nonbedroom registers every night--which would be a chore I'd rather avoid. Is there any downside to this I'm not appreciating? Ot would it make no difference to our bill? Woulf it put less wear and tear on our central unit?
Extensive research into the state of the HVAC art has revealed more questions than it has answered. How do I set the thermostat in my new row house to maximize both comfort and efficiency? [more inside]
The organization I run rents a large, old theater for once-a-week film screenings. Problem: the air conditioning is broken, and the theater doesn't have the capital to fix it before the summer ends. But we have screenings scheduled weekly through the end of August. Are there any good ways to keep a large space cool without a working AC system? (How did people keep cool in indoor spaces historically, pre-AC?) [more inside]
I have read that a low refrigerant charge in a refrigeration system can cause the system's evaporator to ice up. I happen to have a dehumidifier which is exhibiting this symptom. I do not expect to be able to repair the dehumidifier but, as something of an HVAC enthusiast, I am curious as to why and how this happens. [more inside]
Our furnace died. Help us not get overcharged. Other questions inside. [more inside]
Hi there, My mom needs a new furnace & hot water heater. Both are super old and and need to be replaced. Both will be electric, she lives in a condo and doesn't have gas or propane. Can anyone recommend an electrician or HVAC company in the area? I'm checking our Sears and have a recommendation for Aire Serve from an acquaintance. Thanks!
My electric heat pump is icing over something fierce, and the technicians don't really have a clue what's going on. There is one theory I'd like you to comment on, and if it makes no sense, I'd appreciate alternate theories. [more inside]
Is there a pediatrician in the house? Questions about whole house air filtration and infants. [more inside]
I recently had the hardwood floors redone. The floor guy did a great job, except dropped the ball in the floor registers, now what? [more inside]
Different Central air conditioner and furnace brands? When it comes to HVAC, should we go with Carrier, Goodman, York, or Lennox? [more inside]
I bought a new (to us) house; the 2-zoned A/C worked very well for a week of very hot weather. Starting this weekend, it was having trouble cooling. The evaporator is not iced; the thermostat seems okay. What to look for? [more inside]
Think my central AC has blown a fuse but I have no fuse puller--hardware store out. Is there some other tool I could use or should I wait til I can get one? It is New Orleans and real hot.