Air Conditioning Equipment: Repair or Replace?


 

Air Conditioning Equipment: Repair or Replace?

Here is a great article I came across that I thought with the majority of the country dealing with sweltering heat, would be a great read for all that are facing air conditioning issues.

 

By: Oliver Marks

Published: December 4, 2009

If you’re deciding whether to repair or replace central air conditioning equipment, assess the quality of your house’s ductwork and insulation first.

 

Lennox air conditioners outside houseIf you decide to purchase a new air conditioner, make sure you get a load calculation to determine the right size. Image: Lennox Home Comfort Systems

So much has changed in the world of air conditioning in recent years that if your system has almost any significant breakdown—or if it’s just not keeping you as cool as it used to—it may be worth replacing it instead of repairing it. As of 2010, for example, manufacturers must use a new kind of refrigerant that’s not an ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbon. And a new system can use less than half the electricity of your old one while doing a far better job of keeping you cool and comfortable.

If your air conditioner is more than eight years old, repair is probably not worth the expense, unless it’s a simple problem like debris clogging the condenser unit or a worn fan belt. Still, to best weigh your repair-or-replace decision, ask your contractor to assess not just the condition of your existing equipment, but also the ducts that deliver the cool air and the overall quality of the insulation in your house. Improving those elements might increase the effectiveness of the system as much or more than installing new machinery.

Assess the efficiency of your current system

Even if your central air conditioner is just eight to 10 years old, it could suck up to twice the electricity that even a low-end new one would use. That’s because it operates at or below 10 SEER, or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, which is the amount of energy needed to provide a specific cooling output. Until 2006, 10 SEER was standard, but these days, the minimum allowed by federal law is 13 SEER. That translates to 30% less electrical consumption and 30% lower cooling bills than equipment installed just a few years ago.

For an 1,800 square foot house, a new 13 SEER unit will cost $3,000 to $4,000. You can double your energy savings by jumping up to 16 SEER, which will reduce cooling expenses by 60% over a 10 SEER unit. At $5,000 to $6,000, these super-efficient units are more expensive, but they qualify for a federal tax credit of up to $300 and possibly local incentives, too.

“Your installer can run the numbers for you to see whether it’s worth the additional cost,” says Ellis Guiles of TAG Mechanical in Syracuse, New York. “If you’re south of the Mason Dixon line, certainly, you can make up those dollars pretty quickly.”

Inspect the condition of the ductwork

You could upgrade to the highest efficiency gear available and still not feel comfortably cool on hot days. That’s because the mechanicals are only part of the central air system. The average house’s ductwork leaks 10% to 30% of its air before it can reach your living space, according to Pacific Gas & Electric. Before deciding whether to repair or replace your condenser and blower units, your technician should run a duct-leakage test, by sealing the vents and measuring how much air escapes the system.

If the ducts are inefficient, he can locate and seal the gaps, typically for $25 to $35 per vent (per “run” in industry jargon), or replace the ductwork entirely with new, insulated pipe for around $100 per run, according to Guiles. Your technician may recommend doing the duct improvements in conjunction with replacement of the mechanicals or may recommend only one or the other job.

Consider the building envelope itself

If your house is poorly insulated, it’s putting a strain on your aging air conditioner. Resolving the house’s flaws may mean that your old system will have enough cooling power to continue to do the job for a few more years. Or it may enable you to buy a smaller replacement system, lowering your upfront and ongoing energy costs significantly.

Your heating and cooling contractor should assess and, if necessary, upgrade the building envelope. For example, he might seal gaps and cracks in the outer walls and attic floor, or he might blow insulation into the walls, either of which could knock as much as 30% off your heating and cooling costs. Insulation also may get you a $500 federal tax credit, and in some cases, it may be a more effective solution to your cooling problems than replacing your equipment.

Make sure a new system is sized right

If you decide to replace, make sure the contractor’s bid includes a load calculation, which is a computer printout showing how big a system you need and why.

Air conditioning is measured by the ton, which is the cooling power of a one-ton block of ice melting in 24 hours. Some old-school installers use a ballpark estimate for sizing equipment—say, one ton for every 400 or 600 square feet of living space. But that typically leads to systems that are too big, according to Greg Gill of Action Air Conditioning and Heating in San Marcos, Calif. Not only do oversized systems cost more, but they also do their cooling work too quickly, which means more frequent on/off cycles, wearing out components and gobbling electricity. Plus, they don’t have a chance to effectively dehumidify the air.

Good contractors use load-calculating software that factors in such data as the number of windows in your house, the thickness of insulation, the configuration of the attic, and the building’s orientation to the sun. It produces not only an exact tonnage requirement, but determines how much cool air each room needs. All bids (get at least three, from licensed, well-regarded companies) should include this one-page printout.

A former carpenter and newspaper reporter, Oliver Marks has been writing about home improvements for 16 years. He’s currently restoring his second fixer-upper with a mix of big hired projects and small do-it-himself jobs.

Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/articles/replace-home-air-conditioning-equipment/#ixzz1SVcdVivw

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Adding An Above-Ground Pool, Summer Fun!


 

Adding an Above-Ground Pool

By: Julie Sturgeon

Published: March 10, 2010

If you don’t want the expense or hassle of installing an in-ground swimming pool, an above-ground pool is an affordable alternative.

Progress K
Effort Med 2-5 days (frame pool install)
Investment Med $4,000 (basic frame pool)
Added to Binder

 

Above Ground Pool Additions Tips For Above Ground PoolFrame pools, which have a metal frame and an interior pool liner, come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The most popular option is a 24-foot round pool. Image: Trendium Pool Products

A swimming pool may not add value to your home and property, but if you’re wanting that backyard cooling-off spot, an above-ground swimming pool costs far less than an in-ground pool. At around $6,000 for a basic above-ground model versus $30,000 for in-ground, you’ll spend 80% less, and you avoid the disruption of heavy equipment digging up your backyard.

Of course, if you select upgrades like patterned or textured liners, fancy stairs, and custom decking, you could up the price for an above-ground pool to $15,000 or more. At that point, it makes sense to consider an in-ground investment, which you may be able to list as a selling amenity someday.

Ring pools: the least expensive option

Above-ground pools come in two basic types: ring and frame. Ring pools, also known as “float to fill,” are commonly around 12 feet in diameter and 3 feet high. Made of heavy-duty vinyl, they get their name from an inflatable ring at the top of the pool, which rises as the pool fills with water and lifts the sidewalls into place. The filled pool is flask-shaped, wider at the bottom than the top for greater stability.

A 12-foot ring pool holds approximately 1,400 gallons of water, enough to require chlorine tablets for chemical balance and a filtration pump. You can buy one for these for around $300, load it into the back of the SUV, and get it ready for filling the same day. Many families see this as an inexpensive way to test the waters on pool ownership and maintenance.

Frame pools: more costly and more permanent

A frame pool has a sturdy metal frame and an interior pool liner. One of these can stay up year-round, although it can be disassembled in a matter of hours. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes; the most popular size is a 24-foot round, which gives plenty of room for laps or a rowdy game of water polo. Most frame pools come with a lifetime warranty that translates into 25 to 30 years of practical use, even with kids pushing off the sides and jumping off the deck area.

The typical frame pool has walls that are 48 inches to 54 inches high, which means you’ll need a ladder to get in and out. Depending on the size and shape of your yard, installers may be able to bury one end of the steel framework deeper in the ground to create different water levels, but even with this trick, 6.5 feet is the depth limit. Once the pool is set up, you can add decking or landscaping to make it look like a more permanent feature of the yard.

A bare-bones frame pool costs around $4,000, and as much as double that if you add niceties like a high-end patterned liner or a wood frame to blend in better with the landscape. As with a ring pool, you use the backyard hose to fill these with the requisite 3,000 to 6,000 gallons.

Depending on size, plan on two to five days for installation, which includes leveling the site and laying a sand bed. The best time to get on a dealer’s installation list is in the winter or early spring. The impulse-buying nature of an above-ground pool means dealers can be backed up several weeks once summer turns hot.

Maintenance and safety issues

Above-ground frame pools need many of the same working parts as inground versions, such as filters and automatic pool cleaners. They can definitely support a heater, although to keep costs proportionate, many people just spread a solar blanket over the pool when not in use. It’s also possible to hook up automatic cleaners on the circulation line to avoid manually cleaning the sides.

Chemicals are required, but in smaller quantities. Plan on spending an average of $400 a season on chlorine, compared with $600 for an inground pool. Homeowners also need to be aware of local safety ordinances and erect the appropriate fencing. In many jurisdictions, fencing can be attached to the top of the pool itself instead of around the perimeter of the yard.

Because it isn’t permanent, an above-ground pool doesn’t require a permit, and it won’t impact the resale value of your home. Note that some homeowners associations or developers don’t allow them, and they’re not suited for diving. It’s always a good idea to notify your insurance agent that you’ve added an above-ground pool, as coverage policies vary.

Julie Sturgeon has written about residential pools for nearly a decade. She owns an inground pool because that’s what came with the house.

Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/articles/adding-above-ground-pool/#ixzz1PIOqLFqs

Installing Hardwood Flooring over Concrete


Step 1: Demolition of Old Flooring

If you have carpeting, pull up the carpet, foam padding, tack strips and nails. Grind all nails or tacks.

Step 2: Remove Baseboards

To save money, try to reuse your baseboards, a fresh coat can give them a new look.

Carefully score the top of the baseboard with a utility knife to separate it from the wall. If you skip this step you can potentially rip the drywall. Insert a pry bar to pull the baseboard away from the wall. If you can’t get a pry bar into the scored crevice, start with a flat-edged tool like a spackle knife to work the baseboard loose, then try the pry bar.

Step 3: Prepare Floor

If the concrete has been painted, you will need to remove it to guarantee adhesive will stick. You can rent a concrete grinder from a rental store. Wear a mask and goggles when grinding the floor. Sweep and vacuum all dust and debris.

 

Step 4: Apply a Moisture Barrier

A liquid moisture barrier can have a very strong odor. Open up windows and use fans to circulate air.

Apply the moisture barrier holding a V-notch trowel at a 45-degree angle. The moisture barrier will level itself out. Start at the farthest point in the room then work your way out of the room. Let moisture barrier set for 24 hours. The surface should not be tacky when touched. Do not walk on the surface. Use odorless mineral spirits to remove moisture barriers from your hands and trowel.

 

Step 5: Prepare Flooring Layout

Lay the floor parallel to longest wall in the room. Always have an exit plan when laying out the floor. You don’t want be trapped in a corner and have to walk on the newly installed floors. Cut pieces as you go.

Step 6: Apply Adhesive and Flooring

Always read manufacturer’s instructions when applying the adhesive. Using a V-notch trowel, apply the adhesive to floor in small sections. Only spread enough for a few rows at a time. Use a tapping block to click pieces together (Image 1). Stagger end joints from row to row. Tape seams together with painter’s tape (Image 2).

Tap 1/4-inch shims in between the edges of the floor and the wall to leave room for expansion (Image 3). Weight down the first few rows with something heavy, but use a rag underneath the weight to protect the floor. Use a damp cloth to clean off adhesive from surfaces. Let adhesive dry for 24 hours.

Step 7: Finish Work

Remove spacers and tape. Replace baseboards. Install transition pieces.

Article provided by diynetwork.com.

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Headboard Ideas to make you Smile


Looking for ways to class up that room of yours?  Here are some ideas to help you out from HGtv.

http://www.hgtv.com/decorating/headboard-ideas-tuft-love/pictures/index.html

Bold Stipes Painting


If you are like me, you are not sure how all your freinds are getting those cool bold stripes on their walls with paint.  Mine stripes would be crocked, off center, and the lines would like like a California highway.

Here is a great article from Better Homes & Gardens to help you get a room just like your friends!!! Happy Painting!

http://www.bhg.com/decorating/paint/techniques/how-to-paint-stunning-stripes/

Warm weather, melting snow, colder evening temps…here come the Ice Dams!


Yep, it’s that time of year again.  We have waited all winter to see temps in the upper 30’s and above, but temps are still falling below the freezing mark of 32 degrees at night.  What does this mean for your roof?  You got it…ICE DAMS!!! What danger these can do not only to your roof, but also your pocket-book.

One way to avoid ice dams building up  is to remove the snow on your roof.  You can purchase roof rakes at many local hardware stores or big box stores.  These will help you while on solid ground be able to reach up on your roof and remove the snow that is piling up and causing the moisture to remain in the evening and refreeze.

If these dams are not taken care of immediately, they can eventually become large enough that the water will have nowhere to go but inside your home.  This may cause damage to your sheet rock, carpet, tile, insulation and any items in its path.

There are companies out there that will remove the ice dams and keep your roof & home in good condition.  So take a little time, look up and avoid a costly situation.

THE SPIRITS TO MOVE is here to provide you with quality information.

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