Why You Should Have Your Air Conditioner Cleaned Annually

February 20th, 2015

Air conditioners, like all home heating and cooling systems, occasionally develop a need for repair. Everyone knows that this is more or less unavoidable. However, that knowledge has led a lot of people to simply ignore air conditioner maintenance until something starts obviously affecting the system in a negative way. If you want your air conditioner to last as long as possible, this is a really bad habit to get into. Air conditioners should actually be cleaned and inspected at least once a year, regardless of whether or not it actually has any obvious problems.

Let’s take a look at why you should have your air conditioner cleaned annually.

Dust can be a Serious Problem

It may sound silly, but dust can pose a serious problem for your air conditioning system. Specifically, it can interfere with the condenser coil that your air conditioner uses to remove heat from your home. Your air conditioner operates by evaporating refrigerant in a coil located in the inside unit. The refrigerant gas draws heat out of the air and into itself, cooling the home. Then, the refrigerant gas travels to the outside unit and is converted back into liquid. This vents the heat outside the home.

However, a dirty condenser coil is unable to release the heat from the refrigerant gas as effectively. This causes a significant drop in your air conditioner’s cooling ability, and traps heat inside the system. Needless to say, this isn’t good for the health of your air conditioner at all. Annual cleaning ensures that your condenser coil operates at peak efficiency.

Early Detection

Having your air conditioner cleaned at least once a year also allows your HVAC technician to examine the system for developing problems. Any developing issues that are found can be solved long before they reach full strength and cause problems for the rest of the system. This is much better for the health of your system than waiting for a problem to occur before calling for a professional.

If you haven’t had your air conditioner cleaned in a while, call Rentmeister Total Home Service. We provide air conditioning services throughout Salt Lake City.

Lupercalia: The Origin of St. Valentine’s Day

February 14th, 2015

Many people may think of Valentine’s Day as a holiday essentially created by card and gift companies, but the truth is that the holiday has long-standing roots going back to the Roman Empire. The name “Lupercalia” has its origins in the word “lupus”, which means wolf, and the reason for this is that according to Roman pagan religion, the she-wolf Lupa nursed the two orphaned infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome.

The Festival

The Festival of Lupercalia spanned two days each February, from February 13th to 15th. The festival was about fertility and was led by Luperci priests, known as “brothers of the wolf”. The festival was serious with intention (fertility) but was executed as quite a romp for both the priests and citizens of Rome. The process was this: two male goats and a dog were sacrificed at the beginning of the festival by the priests; two young Luperci were then anointed with the blood from the animals, and the hides of the animals were cut into straps. As food and drink flowed, the male priests would run around the city wearing nothing but thongs made from the animal skins, and they also carried a strap from one of the sacrificed animals. The strap was used to strike the palms of Roman women waiting for the priests in the city, as it was believed that being hit with the strap could help with infertility issues and a safe, healthy labor for women who were pregnant.

The Transition to St. Valentine’s Day

The Christian influence of the holiday came around the 5th century. The Roman Empire was still strong, but Christianity was rapidly taking hold throughout the world. It is believed that to try and remove the paganism from the holiday, the deaths of two men, supposedly both named Valentine, were added into the mix. During the 3rd and 4th centuries, a law created by Claudius II forbade young men eligible for military service to marry, because Rome wanted a strong army. The two men named Valentine were priests, and married young couples in secret. Both were found out and executed on February 14th, although in separate years. The Church made Valentine a saint (they chose one), and Lupercalia became St. Valentine’s Day.

Here’s wishing you and your loved ones a Happy Valentine’s Day!

3 Common Repairs Your Water Heater May Need

February 9th, 2015

Water heaters generally last for well over a decade, which means they may not need any repairs for many years. When you do encounter a problem, it can be scary, but many water heater issues are easily mended with the help of a trained technician. We’ve detailed a few of these common water heater repairs here. Make sure to call on experts at the first sign of trouble, as waiting too long may only make it worse.

Replacing the Dip Tube

The dip tube is a very simple component, a long tube that lets cold water in through the top of the tank and allows it to flow all the way to the bottom. This is where the burner is located. Or, in an electric water heater, one of the heating elements is located toward the bottom. Then, since, heat naturally rises, the warm water can rise to the top. However, the dip tube is somewhat delicate, and it may develop cracks or it can even break in half. This means that you’ll probably run out of hot water fast, but a replacement part should suffice.

Replacing the Anode Rod

The anode rod is a crucial component even though it’s not really a participant in the water heating process. However, the anode rod does serve a single valuable purpose: sacrificing itself for the good of your tank. Anode rods are made of magnesium or aluminum, materials that are more reactive than steel, which means they’ll corrode before the tank does. However, a technician should replace the water heater anode rod from time to time, before it wears down so much that corrosion reaches the tank.

Flushing the Tank

If you hear a rumbling or banging sound in your tank, it may be that sediment has built up past the point of functioning. Minerals like calcium and magnesium in your water may build up inside of the tank. Too many minerals increases the pressure and could block the pipes, which is why a professional may need to drain the tank from time to time.

Call the friendly people at Rentmeister Total Home Service for water heater repair in Salt Lake City or to schedule maintenance with a trained technician to inspect and adjust the most important parts of your unit. Call now!

What Is Heat Load?

February 5th, 2015

It can be hard to believe in the middle of winter that other items beside your heating system can add to the heat level in your home.

While it may not be a significant amount of heat, it is still heat and needs to be counted, especially when you are planning a new heating installation for your Salt Lake City home. The extra heat you get from different home items, such as lights, electronics and sunlight fall under the umbrella term of “heat gain” and to correctly size a new heater, you’ll need to know what the heat gain of your home is.

Heat Gain vs. Heat Load

We’ve identified what heat gain is, but there are a number of factors that contribute to it:

  • Orientation of your home
  • Number of windows and doors
  • Types of windows and doors
  • Insulation levels
  • Floor plan
  • Number of rooms
  • Number of occupants
  • Square footage

There are a few others that may be considered, but these factors are the crux of it. Once you know how much heat your home gains throughout the day, you can move on to the next calculation: how much heat your home needs to be comfortable, which is the heat load. Many people believe that square footage is the only factor you need to know when calculating heat load; this is not true. Using the same factors above, your trained expert will determine, in BTUs (British thermal units) how much heat your home will need daily to keep you warm and comfortable.

Why is this important?

Installing a heating system that is the wrong size – either too big or too small – won’t just make you uncomfortable; it will be bad for the heating system, too. And without the correct heat load calculation, you may not choose the right-sized heating unit for your home.

Work with an Expert

Home heating specialists are trained in how to do properly perform a heat load calculation. If you are challenged by making this calculation correctly – and many people are – call the professionals at Rentmeister Total Home Service. Our specialists can help you determine the exact size heating system you’ll need to meet your heating needs in Salt Lake City.

How Do New Water Heater Regulations Affect Me

January 26th, 2015

As of April 2015, the US Department of Energy has implemented new rules concerning the efficiency of water heaters. These rules will have a pretty big impact on the water heater industry, but it will also have an effect on the options available to homeowners.

By and large, the new regulations deal with how much energy is allowed to be lost during the heating process, mandating that all new water heaters convert more energy into heat. Let’s take a look at how this can affect you.

Rise in Cost

More efficient water heaters are a good thing, and everyone should want to get as close to 100% energy efficiency as possible. However, the federal mandate is forcing the manufacturers’ hands, and that is going to lead to a sudden spike in water heater cost. Instead of the gradual increase associated with newer technologies entering the market and older ones phasing out, this is going to be a significant leap forward with no time for people to acclimate.

This means that manufacturers will have to do whatever they can to meet the new federal requirements, even if it means building more complex and expensive water heaters. That extra cost is going to get passed on to the consumer, as is often the case with newer systems and technology. Even if older water heaters are still available, you likely won’t be able to find an HVAC technician to install them for you. Just like the low-flow toilets that are required in several states, these more efficient water heaters will be the only ones HVAC technicians are allowed to install.

What to do about it

So, what should you do if you have an older water heater? Well, if it is less than ten years old you probably don’t have to worry about it. No need to replace a water heater that is still fairly recent and isn’t having issues. If you were already considering installing a new water heater, however, you should have one installed as soon as possible. The water heaters on the market today are still likely a good step up in efficiency from the one you have, without being as expensive as the new ones that are about to hit the market. If you act fast enough, you can come out of this whole situation with a new water heater and more money in your pocket than if you had waited a couple of months.

If you are thinking about installing a new water heater, call Rentmeister Total Home Service. We provide water heater installation services throughout Salt Lake City.

Can My Boiler Installation Include Radiant Heating?

January 19th, 2015

This is a rather odd question, and the answer will take a bit of explaining. Short answer: yes, your boiler installation can include radiant heating. The reason that it can do that, however, is because all boilers are radiant heaters. Radiant heating is not a separate kind of heating that requires a different kind of boiler. Let’s examine how radiant heating actually works, and why you are always installing a radiant heating system when you install a boiler.

What “Radiant Heating” Means

Radiant heating is any system that works by transferring thermal energy directly or between objects, as opposed to using a medium like air or water. Sunlight is radiant heating, transferring thermal energy directly to whatever it touches. Boiler systems are radiant heaters because, while they use hot water to carry heat, the thermal energy is transferred into the room by radiating through other objects.

Boilers and Radiant Heating

A boiler heating system involves the installation of a network of water pipes in every room of the house that requires heating. The pipes can be installed in the walls or subfloor of each room, depending on the needs of the homeowner. These pipes are then connected to the boiler. Occasionally, the pipe network may terminate in a terminal heater, like an iron radiator or baseboard heater. These are also radiant heating systems, because they are still transmitting thermal energy directly into the room.

When the heat is turned on, the boiler warms and distributes water through the pipe network in the house. As the water rushes through the pipes, it transfers its thermal energy through the pipes, the walls or floor, and into the room. If there is a terminal heater attached to the system, it serves as the point of origin for most of the thermal energy entering the room.

So, all boilers are radiant heaters, because all boilers rely on transmitting thermal energy through solid objects instead of through direct interaction with the water.

If you are interested in installing a radiant heating system, call Rentmeister Total Home Service. We provide radiant  heating installation services throughout Ogden.

Common Boiler Repairs

January 16th, 2015

Boilers are just as susceptible to breakdowns and repair needs as any other heating system. Since boilers are a bit more uncommon than things like furnaces, however, their potential problems tend to be less well-known. Let’s take a look at some of the more common boiler repairs that homeowners run into, and what should be done about them.

Kettling

Kettling is when your boiler makes a deep rumbling sound, like a large kettle boiling. This is caused by long-term exposure to hard water, which is common in many areas of the United States. Hard water is characterized by a high mineral content, which can have a negative effect on the water pipes in a home. As hard water flows through the boiler’s heat exchanger, it deposits small amounts of minerals on the walls of the pipe. Over many years, those deposits build up until they restrict or completely block the flow of water through the heat exchanger. This causes water to become trapped in the heat exchanger, where it boils.

Believe it or not, most boilers are not actually designed to boil water. When water boils inside the heat exchanger, it evaporates into steam which puts tremendous pressure on the pipe. This is what causes that rumbling sound when a boiler kettles. If left untreated, this can actually cause the heat exchanger to rupture, though there are safety measures in place to shut the boiler down before that happens. Regardless, you should call a professional if you notice your boiler kettling.

Pilot Light Failing

Pilot lights have earned a pretty bad reputation for going out at the drop of a hat. Despite their propensity for blowing out easily, however, there is a difference between blowing out often and refusing to stay lit. If your pilot light is not staying lit for longer than a very short time, it’s probably due to a bad thermocouple. The thermocouple is a part that detects the heat from the pilot light and opens the gas valve to keep it going. When the pilot light blows out, the thermocouple is supposed to close the gas valve as a safety measure. A bad thermocouple is one that closes the gas valve prematurely, smothering the pilot light. The most common fix for this is simply to replace the thermocouple.

If your boiler is having problems, call Rentmeister Total Home Service. We provide heating repair throughout Salt Lake City.

 

Best Floor Types for Radiant Heating Systems

January 9th, 2015

One of the great benefits of radiant heating is the nice, toasty floors you get, but if you have a floor covering that isn’t very conducive to radiant floor heating, you may lose this benefit. Radiant heating works by heat objects, which is why it’s important to plan for a floor covering that will heat well and radiate that heat to your home. To help you get an idea of the types of floor coverings that will work best with your radiant heating, the installation experts at Rentmeister Total Home Service have put together a list of floor covering types to consider:

Tiles (Stone, Porcelain and Ceramic)

Tiles floors are some of the best around for radiant heating. If you have ever put a rock in or near a fire, or have seen a brick oven stove, you’ll be able to understand why tile is some of the best kind of flooring to use with radiant heating. Tile conducts heat very well and is highly resistant to the heating process.

Laminates

Laminate floors are very popular for a lot of reasons, and can be a good option for radiant heating. However, there are some precautions to take with laminate flooring to ensure the best results. First, it’s important to make sure that your underlying floor structure and/or concrete (if you used it) is completely dry; this helps minimize changes that can develop due to heat and moisture as well as reduces warping and cracking. It is also important to use the correct adhesive. Most laminate flooring comes with manufacturer instructions and recommendations that your technician will follow as part of the installation.

Hardwood

Natural wood floors will contract and expand with changes in temperature and humidity, so if you want to use natural wood with your radiant heating system, it’s best to consider hardwood that is quarter-sawn, kiln-dried wood. You may also want to consider engineered hardwood flooring. Engineered hardwood flooring is comprised of hardwood and fiberboard, placed together into several layers. The multiple layers and combination of woods make engineered hardwood very stable.

As you can see, you have a lot of choices when it comes to floor coverings for your radiant heating. Have question? Call Rentmeister today!

The History of “Auld Lang Syne”

January 1st, 2015

There are numerous different traditional songs associated with Christmas—but there is only one song that comes to mind immediately when people think of New Year’s Eve: “Auld Lang Syne.” It is hard to find a New Year’s Eve party where people won’t leap into singing “Should old acquaintance be forgot…” as the first stroke of midnight sounds. This tradition encompasses the globe, with almost every culture that celebrates New Year’s on January 1st breaking into song with the same set of lyrics.

Where did this song come from? And what do the words “auld lang syne” actually mean? The best place to ask these questions is Scotland. The Official Gateway to Scotland website calls the song “one of Scotland’s gifts to the world, recalling the love and kindness of days gone by, but in the communion of taking our neighbor’s hands, it also gives us a sense of belonging and fellowship to take us into the future.”

The melody of the piece originates from Lowland Scots folk song tradition. It was legendary Scottish Romantic poet Robert Burns (1759–1796) who created the words we know today, however. During the later years of his life, Burns dedicated much of his work to collecting Scottish folk tunes and giving them new life. The first mention Burns makes of “Auld Lang Syne” is in 1788, when he calls the song “a glorious fragment.” Burns wrote new lyrics to the old melody, and used the words “auld lang syne,” which is Scottish for “old long since,” and which can be translated into standard English as “long, long ago” or “days gone by.” The phrase was already known in earlier Scottish poems and folk songs, and appears to be the equivalent of “Once upon a time…” for Scots fairy tales.

Soon after Burns introduced the song to the public, it spread across Scotland as a New Year’s custom, and then to the rest of Great Britain. Scottish immigrants took the song with them as they moved across the globe, and by the middle of the 19th century it was a holiday tradition throughout the English-speaking world. By the close of the 20th century, it was a global phenomenon to ring in the New Year.

We imagine that you’ll end up singing or hearing “Auld Lang Syne” at some point this New Year’s (maybe you’ve already heard it while watching It’s a Wonderful Life).

All of us at Rentmeister Total Home Service would like to take this opportunity to wish you a happy coming year in the tradition of the song.

5 Facts about Santa Claus

December 25th, 2014

Many holiday traditions involve the story of Santa Claus, the lovable old man who spends most of his time at the North Pole taking a single evening to deliver presents and candy to children everywhere. But since Santa Claus is so elusive (unless he happens to be visiting your local shopping mall), how do we know so much about him? Where exactly does his journey begin? Our holiday guide details 5 of the most common traditions associated with Jolly Old Saint Nick.

  1. The Origins of Santa: The name “Santa Claus” comes from St. Nicholas (a name which became Sinter Klaas for short in Dutch), a Christian Bishop from 4 A.D. who was known for giving his fortune away to those in need in Turkey. Santa Claus’ first associations with gift-giving comes from Holland’s St. Nicholas’ feast day, during which children would leave out their shoes overnight and find presents waiting inside the shoes on the next morning.
  1. The Stocking by the Chimney: While many people associate Holland’s shoe tradition with the origins of hanging a stocking, this isn’t entirely accurate. Hanging stockings instead comes from the legend of a time St. Nick helped a man afford to marry off his daughter by throwing a bag of gold down the chimney, which landed in a stocking that was hanging up to dry.
  1. St. Nick’s Outfit: Santa got his fashion sense from a wooden cutout handed out during a meeting of the New York Historical Society in 1804. But it wasn’t until a 1930s Coca Cola advertisement that his traditionally blue, white, and green outfit was transformed into a big red suit.
  1. Leaving Cookies out for Santa: Food was traditionally used as ornamentation during the holidays in medieval Germany as apples and cookies commonly adorned the home at wintertime. When the Christmas tree became a common symbol of the season, edible treats began to vanish, a phenomenon which became attributed to Santa Claus’ snacking habits.
  1. Why Santa Drives a Sleigh: Santa gets his sleigh from a tale spun by Washington Irving, the same author who brought us the Headless Horseman. He wrote down an account of a dream in which Santa Claus drives a weightless wagon through the sky, and the stories became so popular, they stuck around.

Here at Rentmeister Total Home Service, we hope that you have a joyful and safe celebration, no matter what holiday traditions you engage in this year. Happy holidays!