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

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.

THE SPIRITS TO MOVE is here to provide you with quality information.  Please vote on the quality of our posts! It will help us determine what you want to conitnue to see.  THANK YOU!

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.

I Need to Hire a Contractor. What Should I Know or Do?


Many people are opting to stay in their current homes and remodeling and not building a new home or moving into a different home. Not sure how to do the work and want to hire a contractor? Where do you find a good contractor, what questions should you ask, how much should they charge? These are all probably questions you are asking yourself.

The first thing that I tell people is ask around. The best information we can gather is from friends and family. They may have information of a person that they used that was outstanding, not so good or didn’t do what they want. So, be sure to let people know you are looking for a referral and see what they have to say.

Once you find the person you want to work with, call the Better Business Bureau. You are going to want someone who is licensed & insured so if something happens during the process, whether to them, you or someone in your family, they will be able to pay for any of the medical or correction items needed. Tell the contractor that you would like to speak with 3 different UNRELATED people they have worked for. The reason you want someone who is unrelated to your contractor, is we all know we will vouch in a positive way for our family members that need a referral. While you are on the phone with these testimonial persons, here are a few questions you may want to ask:

~Was the contractor and employees courteous & thoughtful to your home, space & your privacy.

~Do they feel the job was appropriately charged.

~Did the contractor do a good clean up job at the end of the project to make sure that the area and surrounding rooms were clean & tidy.

~Were they on time according to the schedule you agreed to upon the signing of the contract.

~Was there continual contact during the project, whether they were running late, not able to make it that day or acknowledgment was given for any other reasons/days they were not going to be able to make it.

~If the project goes over the projected finish date, did/does the contractor give discounts for your inconvenience.

Also ask to see pictures of current past projects they have done. Some contractors will also have photos of the progression of the project and you may be able to see how the space around is for cleanliness.

So know you have found your contractor, spoken with some references, now it is time to sit down with the contractor to begin your project. Make sure the contactor completely understands your time/budget you have to work with. Ask them to do a drawing of the finished project with measurements and a detailed cost outline. If you are working with more than one contractor, they may ask to see one of the other drawings you have received, DO NOT let them see the other plans. This should be something that comes with your contract. Each contractor has a different style, hourly rate & cost price. You do not want them to look at the other contractors work and say, “YEAH, WE WOULD BE RIGHT THERE WITH THEM.” What does that really mean. Also, ask the contractor if they charge and added price for a draft done earlier and if they will reasonably sell you the draft even if you decide to not hire them or go ahead with the project at that time.

So you have the plan know and you are ready to go. In the contract, have a very detailed timeline for when milestones will be done. This will keep your contractor on track and not push you to the bottom should a higher paying contract come in. Also, DO NOT pay the contractor up front for all the work. Break the payments out based on the completion of work that has been done. An example would be the contractor could get 40% when the contract is signed another 20% when the job is half done and the rest upon completion. By upon completion, make sure the contractor knows this means the space & area to be cleaned & in good repair also. Ask the contractor if he will give you a discount if you let him take pictures for his portfolio/website once the project is complete. Remember, they don’t give you anything for free, so why should you let them put your idea out there for others to copy?

The other thing you want to be sure is that the contractor can afford to buy the supplies needed without other upfront dollars from you. If you have a specific item you want to get yourself and supply for the contractor, ask them if they will give you a discount for your time & energy to have this there for them when needed. Be sure if the contractor orders something specific for you and you pay the in advance or during the job for this specific item, that the contactor informs that shop that he ordered it from you also have the right to pick it up. If the contractor does not authorize you to be able to access these items, you will never be able to pick the item up and if something should happen to the contractor, you will never get this item.

Also be sure that someone is available to be at your home at all times during the working process. The contactor may come across questions or complications that need immediate answers and if you or someone who knows what is to happen is not available, the contactor may just make an executive decision. The other thing to remember is this person may be in your home for long periods of time and unless you completely trust them, they will have access to your personal belongings. Make sure important papers, blank checks, expensive items and sentimental items are put away or locked up.

If you take the time to do your homework up front, you should get the outcome you want and have a pleasant experience. If you do not, do not be afraid to contact the Better Business Bureau and file a complaint. Remember, if someone had complained with their unsatisfied work, you may have thought differently in hiring this person also. So do someone else a favor if your experience was not a pleasant one and let others know about the contractor and what happened.

THE SPIRITS TO MOVE is here to give quality information & ideas.

Your Minnesota Real Estate agent providing quality service whether buying, selling or relocating. Experienced in short sale & foreclosures. Learn more at http://www.VickieGylling.com.

Five must have accessories to decorate your home.


 With interests rates still low, many people are realizing NOW is the time to buy rather than rent. So once you have your new home, the thought hits you that you need to decorate it. Here are the top 5 must have accessories to decorate your space. Whether new or redecorating, these accessories will bring a new feel to any room.
These accessories can be purchased from any store or for those of you that are watching your budgets be sure to check out your local second-hand stores, thrift stores or Goodwill. What one person thinks is junk; is another persons treasure.

1.) Mirrors~ a mirror will compliment any rooms decor and add light accents.

2.) Books~ add a 2-3 books to an end table. Books can be covered in decorative papers or fabrics to fit your lifestyle or personality.

3.) Nature items~ be sure to look outside your windows or while you are out on a walk for items that will compliment your home. Flowers, twigs or maybe even an old birds nest that has fallen out of a tree.

4.) Silver frames~ rather than have all your frames in different colors or styles, use silver ones to give your home clean lines. You can also change out the silvers around the home to mix up the styles every so months for different looks.

5.) Original art work or sculptures~ when your kids bring home their artwork from school, don’t put it in a drawer, put it in a silver frame and hang it on the wall or on a table. Not everything need be a Picasso or cost thousands of dollars for it to be considered art.

Remember, your home is representation of you and your lifestyle. Make it comfy for you to live in and enjoyable for your guests to come to.

THE SPIRITS TO MOVE is here to help you reach your goal of a stylish & beautiful place to live.

How Cold is Cold?


It is Friday, January 21, 2011. If you are living in the Minnesota area, you know that the freezer door has definitely been opened on our state. It is 10 am and our current temp here is -15 and with the windchill they are saying it is about -35. How’s that for cold?

How does this cold affect your home? This type of cold can do a lot of damage to your home if you are not paying attention. With just a couple easy steps, you can elevate a lot of pain.

PIPES~ Most people think that the pipes are on the inside of the home and the home is heated so they should be fine. But do you know that the pipes that are located on exterior was and in cabinets will get cold. So if you can, leave the cabinet doors open so the heat from your home can get directly to the pipes. You can also put towels or by the pipe heating blankets.

WINDOWS~ Unless you build your home and put high quality windows in, the chances of having some sort of draft from your windows is very likely. Most of your box stores now sell plastic that can be placed on the trim work and keep these drafts out. This will also save you dollars as your heater won’t have to work so hard to keep heating the air.

DOORS~ Not only does our family & friends come and go from these area, but so do your dollars in the winter seasons. Invest a few dollars and put the foam around the doors to keep the cold drafts out. You may also want to invest in draft preventers that go at the bottom of the doors.

So with the economy straining our pocketbooks, why not take a few moments of your time and put some of those dollars back into your wallet? Invest a little time into your home and keep it warm.

THE SPIRITS TO MOVE hope you & your home stay warm!

Your Minnesota Real Estate agent providing quality service whether buying, selling or relocating. Experienced in short sale & foreclosures. Learn more at http://www.VickieGylling.com.

Previous Older Entries