Do you have proper cooling systems in your home?
Every year, especially at the advent and during the warm summer months, millions of homes across the world plan to get cooling systems or air conditioners installed in their homes. Those who have air conditioners already would look for repairing and maintenance of the systems. Having proper cooling system at home during the warm months is not a luxury but a necessity and the quality of cooling offered by air conditioners would be decisive as to whether you feel comfortable or not.
Air conditioners are electrical appliances that help in regulating the temperature and humidity within a given area. It is usually a closed unit like a room, house or office wherein the air conditioner consistently regulates the air inflow and outflow to maintain a certain temperature as desired by you. Whether your air conditioners are working properly will depend on several factors, including that of the devices and how well you maintain them.
Functioning of Air Conditioners
Whether or not your air conditioners are capable of creating a desired environment will depend on the functioning of the cooling systems. Many homeowners have a perception that air conditioners pump in cooler air into the room or the home and thus help in creating a cooler ambience. The truth is, however, that their conditioners do not pump in cooler air. Instead it extracts the hot air from the rooms or a house and circulates cooler air after compressing and cooling down the hot air. This compression, cooling and circulation of the air continues until the desired, preset temperature is obtained. This is indicated by the thermostat and then the air conditioners stop cooling or circulating the air.
Air conditioning systems have a compressor, a fan, condenser coil, evaporator coil and a refrigerant. The compressor is used to cool the refrigerant which then forms hot high pressure gas and that is run through the set of condenser coils to dissipate heat. Thereby it condenses into liquid. The air is then passed through the evaporator coil which transforms the cold liquid into cooler gas. When air is passed through this cold gas, it becomes cooler and is then circulated into your homes.
The air conditioners are also tasked with extracting moisture or humidity from the rooms in order to maintain a desirably natural cool ambience.
Different Segments of Air Conditioners
There are three different sections of air conditioners namely an outdoor condensing unit, a matching indoor air handler and ductwork to transfer the cooled air throughout the home.
Indoor Air Quality(IAQ)
Indoor air quality is often overlooked by most families. The focus is always more on the heating and cooling systems and if a home is comfortably warm or cool. Not many people actually look at whether or not the indoor air quality is healthy and desirable.
IAQ is an acronym used to denote indoor air quality. In an ideal or natural scenario,indoor air quality would have been the same as the outdoor air quality but since homes are built in a manner that aims at keeping the hot air out during summers and cold air out during winters, there is a different environment created inside a home. The lack of
ventilation is one of the primary reasons why indoor air quality gets degraded. Most heating and cooling systems have ventilation systems but that still restricts natural cross ventilation, thus regulating the indoor air quality.
As per the Environmental protection Agency, IAQ has become a top priority that every family should take seriously. The EPA has founded that most homes today suffer from what has been referred to as the ‘Tight Home Syndrome’. These findings have been supported by the American Lung Association and the Consumer Product Safety Commission has been harping on organizations and heating/cooling system manufacturers to take note of indoor air quality while making their products.
With an enclosed home, the dirt, sick and stale air that is trapped inside due to lack of natural airflow and cross ventilation, creates indoor air pollution. This is not a very healthy air to breathe in. The indoor air quality suffers from rising levels of particles,germs and gases. The Center for Disease Control has published in several reports that tighter homes that are aimed at conserving energy have a risk of creating an indoor environment that becomes a thriving ground for bacteria, mold, gases including the hazardous carbon monoxide, radon and others, dust, allergens, pollen and many other particles, germs or gases. The indoor air quality can be as much as five times or even hundred times more polluted than outdoor air.
The outdoor air gets polluted but due to natural cycles of ionization, changes in weather, sunlight and UV rays from the sun, the contaminants or pollutants are cleansed from the air, which is not possible with indoor air. As most people spend more than 90% of their time indoors, the indoor air quality has to be checked and should be a top priority for all and sundry.
Heat pumps play an instrumental role in keeping your home warm during winters and cool during summers. It is one of the most preferred heating and cooling systems in the Canada as well as in many other countries. Owing to its efficient dual purpose, heat pumps are used throughout the year and this is why it has to be maintained properly
to offer the best quality of heating and cooling.
There are two types of heat pumps – air source heat pumps and ground source or geothermal heat pumps. There are other variations that are based on the two primary concepts.
As the names imply, an air source heat pump works by manipulating the temperature of the air inside and outside a home. Typically, an air source heat pump extracts hot air from the indoor areas and pumps it outside during winters while it does exactly the opposite during summers. A geothermal or ground source heat pump works by moving heat from the ground. It extracts heat from the home and dissipates it into the ground while during winters it draws heat from the ground and circulates the heated air within the home.
Both these types of heat pumps work on the same mechanisms. They have a compressor, two coils made of copper tubing and resemble a refrigeration system.
During summers the refrigeration systems works as it should but during winters, a reverse valve dynamically changes the function of the system and thus a heat pump is capable of circulating warm air inside instead of extract warm air.
Air-Source Heat Pumps
Air source heat pumps work best in warm climates. They can be powered by electricity or other fuel sources. Properly installed air source heat pumps can deliver up to three times more heat energy vis-à-vis the energy it consumes to function.
Ground-Source Heat Pumps
A ground-source or geothermal heat pump system is much more energy efficient because it is using the natural heat of the ground underneath the surface. Since underground temperatures are more favorably cooler during summers and warmer during winters, this heat is easily moved into or out of the house. As there is no major transformation of heat in any state but mere movement of heat, the energy consumed is very less thus offering very low operational costs.
Absorption Heat Pumps
Absorption heat pumps are a variant of air source heat pumps. The difference is that they are not run on electricity but fuel sources like natural gas, heated water or propane.
Do you have cold draft in your home?
If you are experiencing any cold draft in your home then there is a problem with your home furnace. Whether you are planning to get your existing home furnace repaired or intend to buy a new system, you must be aware of what a home furnace is, its functions and the mechanisms so that you can be a judge of what may have gone wrong with your heating system. This knowhow would also help you to buy the right kind of heating system for your home.
A home furnace is a heating system that heats the interior air through a heating medium which is normally referred to as an intermediary fluid movement. The heating medium can be air, steam or hot water. The home furnace needs a fuel source if it is a combustion furnace. The fuel source is most commonly natural gas but propane, fuel oil, wood or coal is also used. Electricity is also used by many types of home furnaces across the country. Combustion furnaces require a vent to let out the heat and this is done by a flue.
There are many other types of furnaces including central warm air furnace, forced air furnace and gravity furnace.
A central warm air furnace is a type of combustion furnace but functions as a central air conditioner would. A central combustor heats the air and circulates it through ducts to different rooms and areas of the home.
A forced air furnace uses force to circulate the air through ducts. This is more commonly used in commercial areas and industries.
A gravity furnace functions a little differently. It has a circulation system based on the concept that warm air rises up while cold air settles down. Having the combustion systems at the bottom allows the cold air settling down to be heated and then it rises up. This circulation cycle naturally allows for a flow of heated air through the system.Any furnace typically is made of three primary components.
The integral device is the burner that includes a heat exchanger, draft inducer and vents. The burner heats up the air and the heated up air in turn heats up the metal walls thus dissipating heat. This eventually heats the air which is then circulated by the blower, ducts and the exhaust gases are let out by the vents.
The blower is the second component that regulates the movement of the heated air. It is tasked with circulating the heated air through the ducts and the vents.
Any furnace would have a series of controls and safety devices including a gas valve, ignition control, flame sensor, transformer, blower control, flame roll out switch and others.
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A boiler is one of the primary components of any heating system that uses radiant heat.
The boiler is not only responsible for the general functioning of a heating system but it is decisive in determining the quality of heating attained and how effectively the entire system functions.
What is a Boiler?
A boiler is an appliance within the entire heating system used in a home that produces hot water or steam, depending on the type of boiler. The boiler runs on various types of fuels, most commonly natural gas but oil or propane and in some cases solid fuel are also used to power the boiler. Heating systems that use boilers to generate heat and thereby heating the air in an indoor space are referred to as hydronic systems or hydronics.
How a Boiler functions?
The functioning of a boiler is extremely simple. It heats water or produces steam which is then circulated through a network of pipes or steam radiators. In case of hot water, it is distributed through baseboard radiators. Radiant floor systems are also commonly used. Steam or hot water can also be passed through a network of coils. Whichever type of network is used to circulate the hot water or steam, eventually the steam or hot water dissipate their heat to the surrounding air within the network and onto the indoor space.
Steam Vs Hot Water Boiler
Steam boilers are less efficient than hot water boilers. Hot water dissipates heat more readily and one can easily control the temperature of hot water. Temperature of steam is difficult to regulate and there can be overheating or waste of energy. Also, since steam requires more heat to be produced, there is a need of more fuel to power the boiler which is again not energy efficient. However, there are many high end modern steam boilers that can be as effective and energy efficient as hot water boilers.
When to change a Boiler?
Usually, if your hot water or steam boiler is more than a decade old then you should look at newer models. There have been several transformations to technology and state of the art models would any given day be a better choice. However, worn out boilers can be repaired and if maintained well can function properly. It would eventually depend on the quality of heat you are getting and if it fails to create a desired level of comfort after repair or maintenance, it is always wiser to buy a new boiler. Old coal or wood based boilers should not be used any more as more efficient systems are available at economic prices.
An Air handler is an integral part of any heating or cooling system.
It is typically a metallic box that contains a blower, cooling and heating elements, filter racks which are also referred to as chambers, dampers and sound attenuators. The task of the air handler is to circulate the air, heated or cooled, through the ductwork. When it is not a centralized heating or cooling system, an air handler can directly circulate air to and fro a given area. An air handler is made of various components. They are…
A blower is typically a fan that is housed in a box resembling a cage. The vents in the box allow the air to be circulated by the blower. A blower can operate at multiple speeds and this speed can be regulated to get a desired quality of airflow or a certain speed of airflow.
Heating or cooling elements are normally refrigerants that are tasked with either heating the air or to cool the air. The eventual objective is to condition the air to attain the desired temperature.
Any air handler or the HVAC system as a whole would have multiple filters. These filters are tasked with cleansing the air of any dust, pollen, allergen or microbes.
In an enclosed room where temperature is regulated by an HVAC system, there would be an artificial humidity level created owing to the conditioning of the air. A humidifier is a device that regulates the humidity, the level of moisture within the heated or cooled space.
The mixing chamber is where heated air, cooled air, natural air, indoor air and outdoor air are blended to form a natural ambience within the designated indoor areas. The mixing chamber is used along with dampers to maintain a ratio of the extracted, pumped in and exhausted air.
An air handler or the HVAC system as a whole would have several controls that allow the regulation of air flow rate, specific temperatures, humidity level and other factors.
The air handler creates a very noticeable vibration owing to the movement of the fan. Vibration isolators nullify this vibration.
State of the art air handlers are much quieter than older models and they come in much smaller sizes today. An air handler can be placed in the attic, in a closet or ideally in the garage of the house.
A humidifier is a machine that helps to restore the moisture in your air. By far, you might find that your home seems much more uncomfortable during the winter than in the other months of the year. Largely, this is due to the lack of moisture in the air. Humidifiers are available in a variety of sizes which are able to keep homes, both large and small, more moist during the winter months. Humidifiers may be able to be built into your central heating and cooling system, or your closed heating system to help circulate moisture through your home using either the furnace or fans, respectively.