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Here we will be posting helpful resources and blog posts related to all things HVAC.

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Couple in HomeIMPORTANT FACT: It is not easy to stay balanced. In fact, we live in a cluttered, unbalanced world and many of us cannot even identify the areas of our life that may need attention. Our daily routines are very similar: wake up, eat, work, eat, sleep…. do over. If you do not take time to think about the varying aspects of your life, it is honestly simple to lose balance.

MORE IMPORTANT FACT: If you are concerned about the efficiency or comfort provided by your air conditioning system or if you are about to make a major purchase of a new heating and cooling system then you should learn about what air diagnostics and balancing can do for your home.

A "comfort balance" is simply checking to see whether the room feels comfortably conditioned. It may be as easy as walking from room to room, holding a hand up to the ceiling to see if sufficient air is coming out of the registers, and asking yourself if you are comfortable. If you are not, it may be as simple as adjusting the airflow coming from a register for many of your complaints are associated with air circulation: too much and too little.

However, to a 4 Seasons Heating & Air Comfort Specialist, air balance is quite different. In its simplest form, air diagnostics and balancing is the process of testing and adjusting your air conditioning system to deliver the right amount of air to each room in your home. The actual Air Balancing process includes a number of related tests that determine the performance of your air conditioning and heating system.

It is not uncommon to find a system 30% to 50% low on airflow. Air passes through your HVAC equipment and carries the heating or cooling inside. The effectiveness of the equipment is entirely dependent on the amount of airflow. When our certified technician measures the airflow he can "see" system performance.

With this information he can diagnose, repair and balance the duct system for maximum system performance. The end result is having rooms that are the same temperature, cleaner air, better humidity control and real energy savings.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that replacing your furnace or air conditioner is the only way to lower your utility bills. Those big boxes that heat and cool are reliant upon the distribution system that delivers cold or warm air to each room. If a contractor doesn't check them then they are only addressing part of the puzzle. Compare it to installing a brand-new race car engine in an old, beat-up sedan.

Air balancing means measuring and adjusting the volume of airflow into each room. By doing this, every room in your home will be as comfortable as possible with the equipment you have installed.

ULTRA IMPORTANT FACT: Just as your car runs more smoothly and requires less energy to go faster and farther when the wheels are in perfect alignment, you perform better when your thoughts, emotions and goals are in balance. Additionally, with a balanced checkbook and balanced air inside your house, how can you not sit back and say, “Balance is Beautiful.”

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Air BalancingIf you are concerned about the efficiency or comfort provided by your heating and air conditioning system or if you are about to make a major purchase of a new heating or air conditioning system than you should learn about what air diagnostics and balancing can do for your home.

In its simplest form, air diagnostics and balancing is the process of testing and adjusting your air conditioning system to deliver the right amount of air to each room in your home. The actual Air Balancing process includes a number of related tests that determine the performance of your air conditioning and heating system.

Air balancing hoods are used to measure the amount of air at each grille. Manometers measure system pressures. Hygrometers measure system temperature and humidity. The results of all these tests are compiled into a report to determine how well your system is functioning.

What Air Diagnostics & Balancing Can Do For Your System

It’s not uncommon to find a system 30% to 50% low on airflow. Air passes through the equipment and carries the heating or cooling inside. The effectiveness of the equipment is entirely dependent on the amount of airflow. When your certified technician measures the airflow he can "see" system performance.

With this information he can diagnose, repair and balance the duct system for maximum system performance. The end result is having rooms that are the same temperature, cleaner air, better humidity control and real energy savings.

Why This Service Is So Special

Air balancing is an ancient trade dating back to 1732 when a French Engineer named Henri Pitot created a method for measuring fluid pressure. Even though air balancing is critical to the performance of your air conditioning and heating system, less than 5000 individuals in the world are trained and certified in air balancing today.

Who can Do Air Diagnostics and Balancing?

Air DiagnosticsYour heating and cooling system is a candidate for improvement. A contractor with the right tools and training can improve the performance of virtually any system. The more accessible your ductwork is, the easier it is to perform balancing and duct renovation work.

NCI Certified technicians are different than standard HVAC technicians. Most companies are in business to just fix or replace heating and cooling equipment. Your certified Air Balancing Technician considers the entire system and is qualified to test, diagnose, and repair your ducts as well as your equipment.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that replacing your furnace or air conditioner is the only way to lower your utility bills. Those big boxes that heat and cool are reliant upon the distribution system that delivers cold or warm air to each room. If a contractor doesn't check them then they are only addressing part of the puzzle. Compare it to installing a brand-new race car engine on an old beat up sedan.

A heating contractor with diagnostic experience should always check the Static Pressure of your system whenever repairing or planning to replace your heating and/or cooling equipment. A familiar comparison is when you go to your doctor; someone always checks your blood pressure. Like blood pressure, Static Pressure is one of the key vital signs of your comfort system.

This test helps your contractor identify any significant blockage or leakage. With this initial testing along with an in-depth interview, your contractor can recommend the appropriate diagnostic tests followed by recommendations to correct existing issues and optimize your home’s comfort and energy efficiency.
 
Air balancing means measuring and adjusting the volume of airflow into each room. By doing this, every room in your home will be as comfortable as possible with the equipment you have on hand.

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Couple Around ComputerIMPORTANT FACT: Your home is a special place.  It is where you rest, relax, and recharge. Normally when someone buys a house with a forced air heating and cooling system, they pretty much expect the duct system that delivers the air to be in perfect working condition. With today's demands for the highest efficiency, you may likely find that your duct system isn't performing in the best way possible.

The duct system is a series of tubes that carry the warm and cool air from your air conditioning and heating equipment into your home and then take it back to the equipment. They control how much air is delivered to each room. The right amount of air will keep the room temperatures where they need to be. If ducts are damaged, improperly installed or the wrong size, they can cut your system's ability to heat or cool by more than half on hot or cold days, when you need it the most.

MORE IMPORTANT FACT: Improperly sized or designed ductwork is the most common reason people are not comfortable in their own homes. Imagine for a moment that your air conditioner is your lungs. Now imagine that you are running a 1-mile race. If you are in good shape you should have no problem. Now imagine that you have to run that same 1-mile race breathing through a cocktail straw. No matter how good of shape you are in, you will never be able to run as fast and easily as if you could breathe normally. This inability to breathe is what happens when your air conditioner is forced to operate through improperly sized ductwork.

A 30% return duct leak on a hot or cold day can decrease your heating or cooling capacity more than 50%. That may sound extreme, but it's not an uncommon condition.

Ducts move air, and air is invisible. So to determine if your ducts work or not, air properties must be measured. A 4 Seasons Heating & Air Comfort Specialist is able to measure how much air goes to each room and compare it to how much is needed. He will also take other measurements including temperatures and pressures to determine how well your ducts work, then will review the results of these test with you.

Unfortunately few have the knowledge or own the tools and instruments to measure the performance of your duct system. If they can't measure it, they have no idea how to fix it, or even where to begin. They assume that the ducts are just fine.

The typical duct renovation includes removing damaged ducts, straightening them, adding proper suspension and sealing all the joints. Sometimes larger ducts need to be installed to certain rooms or the registers and grilles need to be replaced. Other improvements might include adjusting fan speeds or improving your air filtration system.

Some contractors will offer to seal your ducts to improve efficiency. While duct sealing is definitely done as part of a renovation, sealing by itself cannot address many of the flaws in a duct system. In many cases, just sealing the duct can make the problem worse, as it could choke down airflow causing equipment failure, major comfort problems. In extreme cases, it has caused back-drafting of flues leading to dangerous carbon monoxide problems.

ULTRA IMPORTANT FACT: Duct tape is found in every home toolbox and is the go-to, fix-all for many minor repairs. But, duct tape does not adequately seal the joints and has a short lifespan. If your air conditioning system is struggling to finish that 1-mile race, it needs more than a bigger straw and duct tape. So, leave the duct tape for the Apollo 13 astronauts who used it to make a repair on their return to Earth from the moon and put the straw in your chocolate milk shake!

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Home Heating and CoolingMost people confuse topics like an Energy Star rating with how efficiently their heating and cooling system is really operating. National Comfort Institute Certified Contractors use what they call an SER rating.

SER™ is a relatively new standard in the air conditioning and heating industry. It stands for System Efficiency Ratio. It's an efficiency rating of your installed system, including the effects of the ducting and the construction of your home.

When a typical heating and cooling contractor quotes the efficiency of the equipment (SEER or AFUE) and leads you to believe the new equipment will automatically deliver that efficiency, think again.

Typical installed equipment only operates at 55% to 70% of rated capacity. A 4 Seasons Heating & Air technician is trained and certified and will field-measure the installed efficiency of your old system. He may then recommend improvements while installing your new equipment and will then measure the new system's performance to prove the new system is functioning as designed. By taking this approach, we will help insure that you get the comfort and energy savings you're paying for.

It's Simple Math

Testing your HVAC system for the SER is Simple MathWhen we measure the SER™ of your system, the test reveals the ratio of actual heating or cooling delivery compared to the rated amount the equipment produced when the manufacturer tested the equipment.
For example if an air conditioner worked perfectly, it would be rated at a CSER™ of 100%. But if it only delivered half the cooling, the CSER would be 50%. In simple terms, 14 SEER air conditioning equipment could only operate like 7 SEER equipment. HSER™ and CSER™ HSER stands for Heating System Efficiency Ratio - it rates your heating system's efficiency. CSER represents Cooling System Efficiency Ratio and rates the efficiency of your air conditioning system.

This rating provides specific information about the performance of your system that has never been available to consumers before. More important, the testing that establishes the rating identifies exactly what needs to be done to your system to improve your comfort and efficiency.

You Can Increase Your SER Rating

While new high efficiency heating and cooling equipment may help, the number one factor in determining system efficiency is your duct system. Heating and cooling travels through ducts that are often too restrictive, damaged, poorly maintained, or improperly designed and installed from the beginning.

Your certified contractor can fix many of these problems and increase your SER. An NCI certified Combustion Analyst can also measure and adjust your furnace's combustion efficiency for maximum fuel savings.

Plan for Your Testing Today

Make sure to set aside ample time for your contractor to test your system. The time required depends on the size of your home. Normally, the testing takes between one and two hours. But stay for the show. The testing is clean, informative and entertaining.

It's important to understand that equipment ratings are only the potential efficiency of that component of the system under perfect conditions. Think of it as trying to rate your car's mpg based on just testing the motor by itself. Your expectations should be realistic. Most home's won't rate at 100% efficient. It has been done before, but it's very difficuem's efficiency depends on the duct system and the field-installation.

SER ratings of 90 or better are frequently achieved what s more important is that your system efficiency can often be increased by 25 to 50 the biggest benefit increase in comfort you will enjoy every day actually getting heating and cooling are paying for

Don't be fooled by imitations, as there are less than 5000 technicians in the world. 4 Seasons Heating & Air technicians are certified to perform this testing to protect your investment and to ensure the safety, efficiency, health, and comfort of your home.

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Carbon Monoxide is the #1 cause of poisonings in the U.S. Yet, less than 5% of all CO Poisonings are reported! The safe and efficient operation of your heating equipment and other combustion appliances cannot be determined without testing using a calibrated combustion analyzer. Because the technology, instruments and training to do this testing correctly have only been available for a few years, odds are it's never been done. Your service technician should be certified to properly test and diagnose potential CO exposure.

Carbon Monoxide TestIt's About Your Health and Safety:?Carbon monoxide, even in small quantities can cause serious health problems, particularly in children and the elderly. Millions of unsuspecting homeowners are exposed to low levels of CO and don't even know it. Unfortunately U.L. Listed CO alarms don't go off until your family has been exposed to 70ppm (parts per million) for over 3-1/2 hours! Most international limits for unsafe levels, including OSHA and the World Health Organization's guidelines are between at 15-35 ppm. Carbon monoxide can come from additional sources in your home besides your heating equipment, and they should be checked. These sources include your Water Heater, Gas Range, Gas Logs, Space Heater, and Boiler - even an attached garage.

Even New Equipment Needs to Be Tested:?Anytime equipment is installed, it's being exposed to conditions in which it has never been tested to perform. Venting systems, combustion air, duct systems, additional appliances in the building, building pressure etc., can all affect its operation. Besides that, after leaving the factory it's likely your equipment has been loaded and unloaded on trucks and transported several times. Vibration and shock can cause components to shift and move. The only way to truly know if your new equipment is operating safely and efficiently is to test it once it's been installed.

Better Contractors Don't Guess:?They measure. If CO testing is part of your contractor's normal protocols he will advise you of this prior to servicing or installing equipment. Odds are when the tech walks into you house he'll be carrying some type of CO Monitor to immediately check if unsafe CO levels are present. When working on the equipment, he will likely drill a hole in the flue of the appliance, and insert the probe of an electronic combustion analyzer to check actual burner performance. Additional performance testing might require holes to be drilled into the ductwork as well. Once he's finished testing he should provide documentation and review his results with you.

What Should I Expect From My Heating Contractor?

As a consumer you should expect your contractor to be trained in current technology that makes sure you're heating system is safe, comfortable and efficient. These are probably things you may expect are mandatory, but unfortunately they're not. The number one benefit of having an NCI Certified CO/Combustion Analyst test your home and appliances for carbon monoxide is his extensive training and knowledge.

Your contractor should be trained to measure the safety and efficiency of all your combustion equipment, even appliances that he doesn't normally sell or service. Thorough testing can also verify that your equipment is operating at peak efficiency and provide the lowest operating costs. Finally, he should provide you with documentation that explains what he has found and what corrections have been or need to be performed. He should also provide you with material to better educate you about carbon monoxide sources and health effects.

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Couple Looking at ScreenNormally when someone buys a house with a forced air heating and cooling system, they pretty much expect the duct system that delivers the air to be in perfect working condition. With today's demands for the highest efficiency you may likely find that your duct system isn't performing in the best way possible.

For example: A 30% return duct leak on a hot or cold day can decrease your heating or cooling capacity more than 50% that may sound extreme, but it's not an uncommon condition.

Why is My Duct System So Important?

The duct system is a series of conduits that carry the warm and cool air from your air conditioning and heating equipment into your home and then take it back to the equipment.

The ducts also control how much air is delivered to each room. The right amount of air will keep the room temperatures where they need to be. If ducts are damaged, improperly installed or the wrong size, they can cut your system's ability to heat or cool by more than half on hot or cold days, when you need it the most.

How Do I Know How Well My System Is Working?

Ducts move air, and air is invisible. So to determine if your ducts work or not, air properties must be measured. A 4 Seasons Heating & Air certified professional can measure how much air goes to each room and compare it to how much is needed. He will also take other measurements including temperatures and pressures to determine how well your ducts work and will review the results of the test with you.

Unfortunately, few have the knowledge or own the tools and instruments to measure the performance of your duct system. If they can't measure it, they have no idea how to fix it, or even where to begin. They assume that the ducts are just fine.

What Can Be Done To Improve My Duct System?

The typical duct renovation includes removing damaged ducts, straightening them, adding proper suspension and sealing all the joints. Sometimes larger ducts need to be installed to certain rooms or the registers and grilles need to be replaced. Your 4 Seasons Heating & Air professional will review the test results with you and make recommendations for duct repairs or additions. Other improvements might include adjusting fan speeds or improving your air filtration system.

Other may offer to seal your ducts to improve efficiency. While duct sealing is definitely done as part of a renovation, sealing by itself cannot address many of the flaws in a duct system. In many cases, just sealing the duct can make the problem worse, as it could choke down airflow causing equipment failure, major comfort problems. In extreme cases, it has caused back-drafting of flues leading to dangerous carbon monoxide problems.

The Duct Testing & Renovation Process

Our 4 Seasons Heating & Air professional will first ask you questions about the system, what you like and don't like about it, problem areas, air quality concerns, health issues, etc. He will then perform some preliminary testing to determine the condition of your system, the biggest problem areas, and so forth. This is generally performed using several instruments including a manometer that measures your systems pressure, much like a doctor checks blood pressure.

Your professional will typically measure the amount of air coming out of each vent with a special instrument called a “Flow Hood.” Other measurements might include temperature, humidity and carbon monoxide testing.

Your 4 Seasons professional will test and adjust the results of the work when the duct renovation? has been completed. This step is called air balancing. Up to just 10 years ago, air balancing was performed only on large commercial buildings. Today you can get this same precision adjustment in your home.

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WineFACT: Humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air, whether inside or out. It varies according to the temperature and pressure of the air. The warmer the air, the more water vapor it can hold.

If you happen to be a bottle of wine….the ideal temperature range is 55-58 degrees and 55-75% relative humidity. Why?

IMPORTANT FACT: Wine ages inside a glass bottle sealed with a natural cork. The security of the cork is extremely important because the cork controls the amount of oxygen that reaches your wine. Too little, and a wine will not be able to reach its full potential. Too much, and the wine will spoil. Cork is a great natural material for sealing liquids, because it expands to prevent leaks. However, corks can dry out too much if the humidity is too low. An over-dry cork will shrink, letting too much air into the bottle and causing cork taint. Too much humidity, on the other hand, can lead to mold on the cork.

MOST IMPORTANT FACT: 55-75% humidity in your home is not healthy. Maintaining a relative humidity below 50% prevents dust mite infestations, mold and mildew growth, and inhibits bacteria. This lower relative humidity (RH) also reduces the out-gassing of volatile organic compounds. In wintertime, humidity levels must be even lower, generally 30 to 40% - to prevent condensation on windows and other surfaces.

Herein lies a problem: With indoor humidity of less than 30%, health problems can develop, including dry noses and throats that make people more susceptible to upper respiratory illnesses. Skin dryness and irritation may also occur. And, there are harmful microbes that prefer excessively dry air.

On a winter day, 40 degree F outside with an outdoor RH of 60%, turning on the heater to warm the air inside your home to 70 degrees causes the RH indoors to drop to 21%. This is extremely low. Now, consider this - the average relative humidity in the Sahara Desert is 25%.?

As a homeowner, it is important to measure and control relative humidity levels throughout the entire home, since the humidity levels in the air may change drastically through the heating and cooling processes. These processes can then lead to extreme highs or lows in the relative humidity levels indoors.

If you suspect unhealthy or uncomfortable conditions in your home due to the humidity being too high or too low, it is wise to purchase a digital thermo-hygrometer AKA moisture meter or humidity sensor. This handy instrument digitally calculates temperature and measures indoor relative humidity levels. It can store the minimum and maximum temperature and relative humidity as well as provide up-to-date readings of the present conditions. This unit allows you to evaluated the RH levels in your home and understand the RH patterns, such as highs and lows, that exist.

ULTA IMPORTANT FACT: The only thing that is comfortable when the temperature is in the mid-50’s with a relative humidity between 55 to 75% is your favorite wine.

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