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!

How Often Should I Schedule Maintenance for My Heat Pump?

December 19th, 2014

Your heat pump is an effective air conditioner in warmer weather and can even provide incredibly efficient heating in the winter (up until temperatures outside drop below freezing). You want to take good care of your heat pump is so useful to you throughout the entire year—and because the cost of a sudden replacement would certainly not be ideal.

But without proper maintenance, your heat pump has a chance of failing before its time, running into repair needs throughout the year, or consuming a lot more energy than its efficiency rating would otherwise suggest. This is the reasoning behind technicians pushing for annual professional heating and air conditioning maintenance: equipment can wear down far too quickly without it.

You may begin to wonder: if a heating system and an air conditioning system must both receive maintenance every year, how often should I have a technician come look at my heat pump? Many would tell you that once a year for a heat pump simply is not enough. Heat pumps run in both the winter and the summer, and the excess strain on the system deserves a twice yearly checkup to prevent out-of-control expenses in the future and check up on any supplementary heating devices as well.

What to Expect from a Maintenance Visit

During a maintenance visit, a technician will first perform a thorough inspection, checking for leaks and cracks in the refrigerant line, ensuring the proper function of the reversing valve, and making sure the compressor is not being overworked. If there is anything alarming to report, the technician will then let you know what steps to take next for repairs and discuss all of your options with you.

Then, parts will be thoroughly cleaned and adjusted as needed. This is particularly important for the outside coil, which can become dirty quickly due to its exposure to the elements, leading to reduced heating and cooling capacity. It’s also important for the electrical connections to be tightened and for any loose screws to be put back in place.

Heating maintenance is a valuable service that often leads to better comfort at home, lower bills, and peace of mind. Call Rentmeister Total Home Service for heating maintenance in Salt Lake City today!

What Are My Options for Heating System Replacement?

December 12th, 2014

All heating systems die eventually. You can and should take the best possible care of your heater, but sooner or later you’re going to have to replace it. The question then becomes “what do I replace it with?” Fortunately for you, there are a wide variety of options available for your new home heating system. Let’s take a look at a few of those options.

Boilers

Boilers are a classic option for home heating, and one often overlooked by homeowners. This is usually due to ignorance of the kinds of benefits that boiler-based systems provide to homeowners. For example, radiant heating is the most common kind of boiler-based heating system. It consists of a network of water pipes installed into the wall or subfloor of each room that needs heating. The boiler then heats and distributes water through these pipes, causing heat to radiate through the walls and floor to warm up the room.

Radiant heating has few great advantages over forced air systems. For one, a closed water system wastes a lot less energy and heat than a forced air system does. For another, radiant heating can heat a room much more evenly than a forced air system. This helps eliminate hot and cold spots that are pretty commonplace among forced air system heated rooms.

Heat Pumps

Heat pumps are another unique option that is just now beginning to garner the popularity it deserves. Heat pumps do not burn fuel to generate heat; they only need electricity to operate. Instead of burning fuel, the heat pump siphons thermal energy from the outside air to use in heating the home. This makes heat pumps very energy efficient, quite a bit more so than traditional furnace systems. The one downside is that in areas that frequently get below zero degrees Fahrenheit, the heat pump loses efficiency. This is due to the dearth of thermal energy available in the air, which the heat pump needs to heat the home.

If you’d like to know more about the options available for heating your home, call Rentmeister Total Home Service. Our technicians offer heating services all over Salt Lake City.

Is My System Worth the Cost of Heating Repair?

December 5th, 2014

Deciding whether or not it’s time to replace your heating system should take several factors into consideration. Reviewing these factors can help you answer the sometimes challenging question of whether or not you should continue to repair your current heating system or consider replacement:

Corrosion/Rust

Your heater, even if it is a boiler system, should not have excessive rust or corrosion on it. Rust and/or corrosion can release dangerous combustion byproducts, such as carbon monoxide, through cracks and holes. While small areas of rust and corrosion can be repaired, excessive corrosion cannot. It may be more prudent to install a new system rather than replace all the areas affected by the corrosion.

Age

The average combustion heating system lasts 15-20 years. How old is your current system? As heaters age, their ability to perform effectively decreases and components begin to wear. At some point, it may not be worth the cost to repair a new system as your money may be better spent on a new, durable and reliable one.

Energy Efficiency

Are you seeing higher energy bills but haven’t changed the way you use your heating system? Aging systems can have a hard time achieving the energy efficiency they were made to operate at. Today’s systems are very energy efficient, so it may be worthwhile to see how much you could potentially save on monthly energy bills with a new heater.

Numerous Repairs

Have you had to make numerous, costly repairs for your heater to keep running? Repair costs can add up quickly – sometimes to the cost of a new system. If you are facing multiple repairs, or large, costly ones, you may want to see if your money is better spent on a new system.

If you are having trouble deciding if your current system is worth the continued cost of repairs, try working with a trained specialist. The experts at Rentmeister Total Home Service are here to help with all your heating needs in Salt Lake City, so call us and schedule an appointment today!

Will Thanksgiving Turkey Really Make You Sleepy?

November 26th, 2014

We’ve all heard it before: you feel so sleepy after a Thanksgiving meal because of the main event: the turkey. For years, people have credited extraordinary levels of tryptophan in turkey as the reason we all feel the need to nap after the annual feast. But contrary to this popular mythology, tryptophan is probably not he largest responsible party for your post-meal exhaustion.

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid, which means it’s something that our bodies need but do not produce naturally. Your body uses tryptophan to help make vitamin B3 and serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that sends chemicals to the brain to aid in sleep. But in order to get this essential amino acid, we have to eat foods that contain it.

Turkey has somewhat high levels of tryptophan, but so do many other foods, including eggs, peanuts, chocolate, nuts, bananas, and most other meats and dairy products. In fact, ounce-for-ounce cheddar cheese contains a greater amount of tryptophan than turkey. In order for tryptophan to make you feel sleepy, you would have to consume it in excessive amounts, and serotonin is usually only produced by tryptophan on an empty stomach.

The truth is, overeating is largely responsible for the “food coma” many people describe post-Thanksgiving. It takes a lot of energy for your body to process a large meal, and the average Thanksgiving plate contains about twice as many calories as is recommended for daily consumption. If anything, high levels of fat in the turkey cause sleepiness, as they require a lot of energy for your body to digest. Lots of carbohydrates, alcohol, and probably a bit of stress may also be some of the reasons it feels so satisfying to lay down on the couch after the meal and finally get a little bit of shut-eye.

If you feel the need to indulge in a heaping dose of tryptophan this year, go ahead! Turkey also contains healthy proteins and may even provide a boost for your immune system. Here at Rentmeister Total Home Service, we hope your Thanksgiving is full of joy and contentment this year. Happy feasting!