There are many types of home service specialists in and around the Sacramento area. Anyone who provides services meant to improve the appearance or functioning of a home can be referred to a home service specialist. However, not all of these specialists are armed with the same level of knowledge and experience, since it is quite difficult to find one person with an extensive understanding of all areas of home improvement.
There are several categories of professional service providers, such as plumbers, heating technicians, residential contractors, general contractors, and many more. When choosing a contractor, there are certain important things to learn about the contractor and several important questions to ask them.
The first thing you should look for in a potential contractor are their certifications and credentials. Technically, every contractor should have a certificate or license to show that they underwent some form of training and are therefore allowed to offer their services. There is also a minimum experience timeline requirement to obtain a license, which varies by trade. Licensing requirements will vary from state to state, but a contractor must have a license from his state’s licensing board. They must also be insured to the level appropriate to their work. Furthermore, contractors should be members of the National Home Service Contract Association (NHSCA). If possible, it is best to choose one that is also certified by the Better Business Bureau (BBB). These factors will help you determine if the person you are interested in hiring is a dependable contractor.
Once you have confirmed that the contractor has all the credentials and certifications in order, you ought to find out what his clients feel about his services. Going through testimonials will help you learn about their quality of work as well as their work ethic. Research reviews on websites like Angie’s List to learn more about their quality or work and professionalism. Were they timely? Did they do their job to the satisfaction of the client? Did they offer a guarantee for their services? Do any of their previous clients have legitimate complaints? You can also find out if they were reasonably tidy about their work, if they left clients’ driveways and yards a mess when they left, and how their communication was with the client. All of these questions can help you decide if you’ve found the right contractor for you or if you ought to keep looking.
If you find that the testimonials are satisfactory, it’s time for you to call the contractor to set up an appointment. Ideally, you should prepare a list of questions you would like to ask the contractor before you hire them. These questions can confirm their credentials, but there are other things you might want to enquire after, such as:
- How long have they been in the business?
- What services do they provide?
- Do they work alone?
- Can they provide you with copies of their insurance policy?
- Can they provide you with a quote for the services you’re seeking?
Although these are all useful things to know, this list is not exhaustive. There may be particular information you need in order to make a decision depending on your needs. It’s always best to research and consult with someone extensively before hiring them to do such a large project. When inviting someone to your home you should be completely comfortable and confident they will meet your needs.
In the last decade, the green energy industry has revolutionized the way homes heat, store and even use hot water. Rather than suffer the high utility bills of old conventional water heating systems more and more people are switching to solar water heating systems or tankless water heating systems. If you’re considering investing in a new water heating system, how do you know which is right for you? Each come with their own advantages and disadvantages so think carefully about your family’s needs.
Solar Water Heating:
There are two types of solar water heating systems: active and passive.
- Active systems have circulating pump controls so that water that is collected in tanks is pump-circulated throughout your home.
- Passive systems store tanks near solar panels and merely rely on convection to move water throughout the system. In essence, cold water is pulled up to the panels to heat and sent down when it reaches an optimal temperature without as much control.
How the Systems Work:
Solar panels pull water into tubing around the outside of the panel. Energy collected from the sun is used to heat that water. When the water is warm it is transferred back into the system and cold water is pulled up again. The system will continue to circulate water so long as whatever is the storage tank is colder than the water next to the panels. If you don’t use a lot of hot water it would be in your best interest to get a temperature controller that regulates the system, otherwise your water could overheat.
Because these systems directly heat the water, the tanks need to be stored closer to the solar panels. Either next to or directly beneath the panels. In many cases, unless near a garage, they need to be stored outside, which leads to weathering of the tank faster as well as greater heat loss. These systems tend to be cheaper than active systems.
Solar panels collect water or a heating fluid in tubing next to the panels. Once whem, the system will circulate that fluid down into the tank and through a heat exchanger in the middle of the tank, which warms the water in the tank. Once the fluid that was transferred up to the panels is warmer than the fluid in the exchanger, the system will circulate again creating a constant movement of fluid for maximum efficiency.
Generally, these systems are far more sophisticated than passive ones because they offer much greater control and flexibility. For example, the tanks can be stored away from the panels in insulated areas, which reduces heat loss, and are managed by a controller. This controller often has the ability to monitor efficiency, temperature readings, differential settings, which determines how often fluid circulates through the system, and even energy saved.
The major difference between tankless water heating and solar water heating systems is that tankless uses energy to power a fast-heating device for on-demand service. They can still be solar powered, but only if you use solar power for your electric supply. Otherwise, they are gas powered.
Solar water heating systems have their own panels and piping that are not connected to your electrical supply.
How They Work:
Essentially, a heating element of some kind, either an electric heat exchanger or piping warmed by gas burners, is connected to a containment unit. When you turn on the faucet or shower water is transferred into the unit and rapid heated. According to Energy.gov, tankless water heaters can provide hot water at a rate of 2-5 gallons per minute, gas burners operate at a slightly higher rate. Unfortunately, since there is not storage tankless water heaters are not ideal for intense simultaneous use, such as operating a dishwasher and someone taking a hot shower. Otherwise, if you are a low-use household, tankless water heaters are a great alternative to conventional heaters. They are 24-34% more efficient than conventional systems. Additionally, if you install tankless heating units at every hot water outlet you can receive energy savings of up to 27-50%.
Which To Choose:
Both systems offer advantages and disadvantages, so your choice depends on your needs.
- Tankless systems are a great alternative for a low-use household. However, if you are a family of six who all enjoy taking hot showers every day a tankless system may not work well for you (unless you install multiple units).
- Solar water heating, on the other hand can be a great solution to all your heating needs. Since the system is solar powered you can sleep easy knowing your are decreasing your carbon footprint and your utility bill as well. Yet, these systems require more maintenance over the long run, but solar panels last on average 25 years, which we all know is much longer than a conventional storage tank system.
Your best bet is to monitor your hot water usage and to consult with a water heating specialists who knows about both systems. They can give you feedback about each system and help you design one that is right for your home.
Air conditioners are hardworking machines and without proper service and maintenance, their performance deteriorates. This loss of effectiveness results in both a decrease in functioning—leaving you warmer when you’d like to be cool—and an increased appetite for the energy you pay good money for. Fortunately, with just a quick tune up from Sacramento HVAC specialists, your air conditioner can be restored and stay in top condition for much longer.
How Do You Know Your Air Conditioner Needs A Tune Up?
Your air conditioner does not need to be broken before you request a tune up. In fact, just like you have your car’s oil changed and the tires rotated, regular tune-ups are one of the best ways to prevent serious problems that can cause the unit to break down. Scheduled maintenance and inspections are the best way to ensure your air conditioner is running smoothly.
There are, however, a few signs that indicate your air conditioner needs to be serviced immediately. The most common tell tale sign is when the unit starts making unfamiliar noises. Noise could mean a part is loose or something is caught in the system and being tossed around. If you notice strange sounds coming from your cooling system that you do not recognize, it is best to switch it off completely and call an HVAC specialists to inspect it.
Other indicators include leaking, small pools of water underneath the device, an unpleasant smell and unusually warm air when in use. It might also start cooling some parts of the room better than others. If one part of the room is cool and other areas are slightly warmer, you should consult a specialist quickly.
What Is A Tune Up?
A tune up is a professionally administered process where a specialist inspects, cleans and repairs an air conditioning system to restore normal function. The expert is likely to adjust the thermostat to help regulate the air temperature, fix the wiring, ensure that the fan is well-lubricated and inspect compressor amps.
They might also clean the condenser, drain and evaporator coil. After performing these tasks, it is crucial for the expert to conduct thorough checks for safety and performance. There’s more to a tune-up than just cleaning the filter.
Why Is A Tune Up Important?
Through use and time, air conditioners lose their ability to run smoothly. The more they struggle to function, the more energy they use up. Having your system tuned will therefore cut out additional energy costs.
Also, it’s important to note that when an air conditioner begins to show the previously-mentioned signs of damage, continuing to use it will only worsen the damage to the system. The best thing to do is to shut it down and have it tuned to save you the cost and hassle of buying a new system.
Another benefit of tuning is that it improves longevity. Conditioners that receive regular tune ups are likely to last twice as long. Regular cleaning can prevent substances from accumulating and clogging the air system, leading both to cleaner, fresher indoor air and protecting your system from damaging particulate accumulation.
Next time you suspect your air conditioner needs a looking over, call Sacramento HVAC specialists for a professional tune up. Whether you are installing your first cooling system or need an older one repaired, a professional can help you give your air conditioner the care it needs to give you years of fresh, cool air.
Solar water heating systems combine several technologies for collecting the sun’s rays, heating the water, and then storing it until it’s ready for use. Since energy from the sun is free, the solar-savvy homeowner only has to pay for the services of HVAC specialists or solar specialists in and near Sacramento and for the water heating system itself.
After the purchase and installation, the functioning system is entirely free to use. A solar heater will work for most of the year, but can slow down in the winter when days are much shorter. If this natural slowing casts hardship on the household, gas or electric water heating can help bridge the gap during these months. If your climate doesn’t have a winter season to speak of, solar heaters might slow a bit on cloudy days. However, these systems store have the option to store surplus energy in rechargeable batteries, which compensates for days with less direct sunlight. Overall though, your solar water heating system should meet all of your solar needs.
How Solar Water Heating Systems Work
Your heating system will consist of two parts: a storage tank for water and solar collectors for the sun’s energy. There are two general types of water heating systems that use solar power, known as direct and indirect systems.
- A direct system will circulate water through solar collectors. The collectors are large panels that collect the energy of the sun.
- An indirect system will heat your household water by mixing it first in a reservoir with fluid that has already been heated by the collector. This heat transfer fluid is usually water but can also be a mixture of water and antifreeze mixed together. The antifreeze is propylene glycol which is non-toxic. Because of this process, indirect systems offer protection from freezing in the winter. However, indirect systems tend to be more expensive.
Active and Passive Systems
- Passive systems cost less because they use naturally occurring heat convection to circulate water through the system. These are great for places with no winter because they can be efficient for long periods without needing maintenance. If your region experiences freezing temperatures, however, the passive system may not be for you, as it can freeze or overheat in extreme weather.
- The active system uses a pump to circulate water rather than convection. Again, the relative complexity of this system in comparison to a passive one means that they can cost more.
Photovoltaic Solar Panels
Photovoltaic solar panels are used in photovoltaic systems (or PV systems) to collect the sun’s energy to convert to electrical energy. The direct current produced by the PV system can then be used for a variety of applications in addition to heating water. PV systems produce the highest energy yields, but you will need a converter to produce DC power. Several solar panels are often linked together to create a photovoltaic array to be able to collect enough solar energy for use in the household. A panel can produce 100 to 400 watts, depending on cloud cover.
Solar heating is more popular in Europe and Asia than it is in the United States. Israel is the first country to require new homes to install solar powered water heaters and today 85% of households use them, saving the country 3% in total energy costs. Considering the variety of systems available for household use, your local solar specialists would like to help you help Sacramento become a similarly green-powered area.
Faulty heating and cooling systems can lead to a potentially fatal buildup of carbon monoxide (CO) in a home. Sacramento HVAC specialists can examine home energy systems to minimize your risk of CO poisoning. To reduce this risk, as well as preventing damage to the system or your home, planning a heating and cooling inspection is a sound investment.
The effect of carbon monoxide on the body, as well as detection of high concentrations, is not well understood by most of us. In order to understand the facts about CO and its effects, it is helpful to learn from authoritative sources, like the Florida Department of Health, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the National Environmental Public Health Tracking Network, and the American Association of Poison Control Centers. Such organizations, and their representatives, speak with a single voice about the inherent dangers of residential carbon monoxide hazards.
Home HVAC units, like all other consumer products and appliances, age and eventually wear out. No matter how wonderful your system is at the time of installation, it, like all things, will come to its natural end. Unfortunately, many homeowners do not pay close attention to the age of their heating and cooling units, and thus run the risk of allowing harmful gas to creep into their homes. Sacramento HVAC specialists are able to inspect all of your systems and determine how to best repair, replace, or maintain them.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, approximately 170 people die each year as a direct result of carbon monoxide in the indoor atmosphere. The CO in such cases was released by something other than the family automobile. Upwards of 1,000 persons are admitted to U.S. emergency rooms annually due to CO inhalation and poisoning. In the majority of these situations, the poisoning was easily preventable.
While there are several sources of CO in residential homes, HVAC systems account for a large percentage of the total. In 2007 alone, more than 15,000 persons suffered CO poisoning. Of that group, 39 fatalities resulted. CO poisoning is of major concern to at least a dozen U.S. governmental agencies who oversee the nation’s health. The Florida Department of Health has estimated that deaths from CO poisoning are in excess of 500 annually. The Florida DOH further asserts that several thousands of U.S. citizens seek emergency medical care for CO exposure every year.
Sacramento HVAC specialists can eliminate the fear of CO poisoning by closely examining the entire home heating and cooling system. Consumers can enjoy peace of mind, knowing that one of the largest, most powerful appliances in their home is running safely and efficiently. In addition, when HVAC systems are in top working condition, consumers save money and energy.
There is no reason to live in fear of carbon monoxide poisoning. Regular HVAC check-ups can determine any problems that might lead to a broken heating or cooling unit. A properly functioning HVAC system results in safe, comfortable, affordable indoor temperature control.
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission:
Florida Dept. of Health:
Amer. Assoc. of Poison Control Centers:
Nat’l Environmental Public Health Tracking Network: