Sensing Home Comfort Problems

Posted: March 6, 2018

Shamus the dog

Every problem has a symptom, and frequently it is accompanied by something you see, hear, smell or even feel. Follow along as Shamus, the dogged detective, uses his enhanced senses to uncover common problems you might encounter at home.

Seeing dust?

Don’t blame poor housekeeping if you’re seeing more dust around your home. Leaky ductwork may draw air from places it shouldn’t, like the garage, the attic or crawl spaces, which are likely to contain excess dust, not to mention mold and mildew spores.

In addition, leaky ducts result in the loss of as much as 40% of the heated or cooled air moving through your home, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. That forces your system to work harder, and you end up paying more to heat or cool your home.

Shamus the dog

We can inspect your system to identify problem areas and make repairs. In addition to gaining significant energy savings, you’ll be more comfortable. Well-sealed ductwork reduces allergens by ensuring that all conditioned air passes through filters. Sealed ducts also improve air circulation so temperatures are more even.

Other ways to reduce dust

Another cause of dust buildup could be the quality of the air filter in your furnace. The majority of furnaces have low-end, flat panel filters that can’t capture most dust particles. While no filter will eliminate all particles, a high-quality pleated filter will perform better and provide cleaner air. It will also improve your system’s efficiency and reduce breakdowns, saving you money and keeping your indoor air healthier. You can improve your indoor air quality even more by adding a whole-house air cleaner.

How do you feel?

One of the most serious problems you can encounter is a buildup of carbon monoxide (CO) in your home. Because this is an invisible gas that cannot be smelled, it’s what you feel more than anything else that can alert you to a problem. However, many CO symptoms mimic the flu — fatigue, dizziness, nausea — and most people initially don’t recognize the danger of the situation.

Shamus the dog

That’s why it’s important to have carbon monoxide detectors in your home — especially in your bedrooms. If the detector sounds an alarm, ventilate the home with fresh air right away. If you feel dizzy or drowsy, leave the house immediately.

Identifying carbon monoxide leaks can be complex, because there are various causes, including:

All of these situations could set off a CO detector, but conditions can change by the time a technician arrives, which can make proper diagnosis difficult. You can help our technician by sharing as much information as possible so that the source of the problem can be identified correctly.

Take a look at your vents

All combustion appliances, including furnaces, boilers, water heaters and generators, need unrestricted airflow to operate safely and properly. Unlike older heating equipment, which is vented through the chimney, newer high-efficiency systems may be vented through a sidewall of a building. These vents could become blocked by dirt, dust and other debris.

Please be sure you know where your vents are located. Walk around your home and check these vents regularly. If they are blocked, take a broom and gently clear away any obstacles. An obstructed vent can prevent flue gases from leaving the building, leading to carbon monoxide buildup. It can also cause your heating system or generator to shut down.

What’s that noise?

Shamus the dog

Unusual noises often come from your system’s blower motor, which pushes the air from your system into the ducts. Here are a few sounds and their possible causes. (Note: A correct diagnosis can only be made by a technician with an on-site visit.)

Scraping. The bearings in the motor may be wearing out. If you hear this noise, shut off the system immediately to avoid further damage. Then call us for service.

Squealing. If you have an older system, the blower motor may need oil. There may also be a loose belt.

Vibration. The blower motor or wheel may need to be rebalanced.

Shamus the dog

What’s that funky smell?

Well, it could be the dog, but it’s probably caused by stagnant water — the most common source for bad odors because it often turns to mold. Look for water leaks in the roof, the foundation, or around sinks and other piping. Besides correcting water leaks promptly, you can keep indoor air virtually odor-free with correctly sized equipment, constant airflow and air purification systems.