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Posted by on in General

As we recently discussed on the blog, it’s extremely important to be prepared for big changes in seasonal weather. This time of year, homeowners find themselves getting their homes ready for the cold months ahead that come along with fall and winter. Whether it’s through weatherization projects or heating system maintenance, these steps are crucial to keep your home comfortable when the cold hits. Beyond comfort, regular maintenance of your home comfort and mechanical systems can provide many other benefits; benefits that can be felt by you and your wallet.

 

We understand that knowing the exact steps in this maintenance process may be tough to remember or execute yourself. That’s part of the reason why Bel Red offers a comprehensive maintenance and care program for your home’s mechanical and home comfort systems. Comfort Guard Maintenance Plans from Bel Red offer an incredible amount of protection and maintenance for some of your largest home investments, such as furnaces, air conditioners, heat pumps, water heaters and more. We pride ourselves on removing all stress and worry from the maintenance and care process with the Comfort Guard plans.

 

By enrolling in an annual Comfort Guard plan, our customers sign up for many benefits. Members receive:

1.     Annual Precision Tune-Up and inspection of all systems covered under the plan, which includes up to two visits to a home with both a heating and cooling system

2.     Priority service response

3.     10% discount on repair labor

4.     A limited lifetime warranty on all repairs made while covered under the plan.

This fully transferrable annual agreement also gives homeowners a $50 credit towards new systems (up to $250 total).

Posted by on in Heating

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While we may all be clinging to the last bits of summer and hoping it stays around longer, the reality is that colder months are fast approaching. Each year around this time, many homeowners start the process of weatherizing and preparing their homes for the fall and winter months. During these colder times, proper heat is a necessity to stay comfortable within the home. While many homes rely solely on gas or electric heat through their furnaces, many homeowners supplement or even fully rely on heat from fireplaces.

 

Depending on the type of fireplace, this may require a lot of work. Many homes with traditional wood-burning fireplaces certainly fall into this category. These homeowners certainly are already thinking about ordering enough wood for the winter, or even splitting it themselves if they’re truly ambitious. The process of preparation is strenuous and stressful for wood-burning fireplace owners. Even if wood is delivered to your door, it most often requires stacking into storage for the cold months ahead. Stacking the wood not only requires a lot of work, it can take up a lot of valuable space in a garage or shed, and if piled outside your home can be a home for mice, rats and other pests.

 

Even after the wood is prepared, the work isn’t done. Wood-burning fireplaces require a full winter’s worth of hauling the wood and cleaning ash and soot from the fireplace on a regular basis.  And don’t forget about cleaning your chimney to prevent fires!

 

From an efficiency standpoint, open wood-burning fireplaces also often let in a lot of cold drafts and let out heat through the flue.  When it is closed, a fireplace still leaks warm air out of your home in the winter time. Surprisingly, even when lit, many fireplaces actually leak more heat than they create. This is why you can feel cold drafts when you step away from the warmth created by the fire. But, many people still love the beauty and ambiance a fireplace provides.

 

Fortunately, there’s a great alternative to wood-burning fireplaces—gas fireplace inserts. Fireplace inserts provide more warmth, and all the beauty of a wood-burning fireplace with little (or none) of the hassle and work. Lighting these gas inserts is literally as easy as flipping a switch. At Bel Red, our Heat & Glo gas inserts use natural gas or propane, which eliminates all hassle of hauling wood and manually starting a fire each time you need heat. Even when the power is out, these gas fireplace inserts still light at the touch of a button, providing peace of mind when it comes to wondering where your heat is going to come from in an outage.

It’s a reality that there are a number of things that can go wrong in our homes that can jeopardize our safety and comfort. Fortunately, there are also things we can do to ensure our homes provide us with safe and comfortable environments. At Bel Red, we pride ourselves on identifying and recommending the most important of these steps to all of our customers. To help a bit more, we thought it would be a good idea to write about a few suggestions we have to be proactive about comfort and safety problems in your home.

 

·      Install an electrical surge protector. Electrical surge protectors can ensure your comfort (heating and cooling) system, appliances and other valuable electronics don’t get harmed during a power surge, spike or brownout. Depending on your needs, you can choose from whole-house or in-line surge arrestors. Both are very effective at preventing damage to your home’s precious systems and equipment.

·      Use a programmable thermostat. Near the top of the “comfort essentials” list in any type of home, you’ll likely see programmable thermostats. These devices can make keeping your home at peak comfort level year round a breeze. There are many models available today that meet the needs of any homeowners looking to increase comfort in their homes. As another (huge) bonus, programmable thermostats can save the average homeowner up to 33% in annual heating and cooling costs. That’s comfort for your home and your wallet.

·      Check to see if your appliances have water damage protection devices. Condensing appliances, such as air conditioners or heat pumps, can sometimes cause damage if they develop a leak. Water sensors and automatic shut-off devices on these important appliances and systems can help avoid these problems. Being proactive and having these installed can help minimize damage and keep these home comfort systems running smoothly.

·      Install an automatic earthquake shut-off valve. In the event of an earthquake, homes can realize damage and safety concerns beyond foundation or structural damage or disturbance. Gas leaks and fire damage can also occur. Fortunately, there are automatic earthquake gas shutoff valves that will prevent dangerous gases leaking into your home as a result of an earthquake.

If you’ve ever undertaken a home improvement project, you know things can get messy. Not just in the sense of a few things going wrong from time to time with the actual project, but things can actually get messy around your home. Dust, dirt and debris can come out of seemingly nowhere and cover your house—not just the room in which the improvement is occurring.

 

Many homeowners mistakenly assume that replacing installing a heating or plumbing appliance is simple – like plugging in a refrigerator or toaster. Unfortunately, this is not the case:

  • HVAC and plumbing equipment is part of a system in your home, and rarely is the installation simple.
  • Replacements must be brought up to code, and problems with original construction addressed.
  • Modifications to the space can be required.
  • New installations into existing homes must be done without the benefit of open walls, etc., that existed when the home was originally built and this adds difficulty and creates potential for even more problems.
  • Aside from the temporary mess of home improvement and installations, unforeseen problems and incidental damage are also sometimes realities.

 

Even with the best professional installers, unforeseen problems can arise. As a homeowner, it’s important to know that our team at Bel Red will do their best to mitigate these problems, and resolve them if they do occur. However, we understand it can be frustrating for homeowners when these types of things happen, so we wanted to provide a few notes on how to best prepare for these types of large projects:

  • Contracting with experienced, professional companies such as Bel Red can reduce this stress to a minimum. Make sure any contractor you choose is licensed, bonded, insured, and has required workers compensation insurance for all employees on the job site. Don’t even think about hiring an unlicensed contractor – the risk is too great! Finally, get references, and take time to talk to customers who have done similar work with the company.

Posted by on in Safety

If you’re a regular reader of the Bel Red blogs, you’ve probably seen a lot of mentions of many different aspects of home energy, safety and efficiency. One such topic discussed in many different posts is indoor air quality. While some may have a fantastic understanding of the factors and causes behind good or poor indoor air quality, we wanted to be sure to give a detailed overview of this important topic. Ensuring you have good indoor air quality could not only make your home a more comfortable place to live, it could also keep you and your loved ones healthier and safer. Here are some questions and answers that should give you a great overview on the importance of indoor air quality:

 

What is indoor air quality (IAQ)?

Indoor air quality is the air quality within your home as it relates to the home’s inhabitants’ health and comfort.

 

What causes poor indoor air quality?

Poor indoor air quality is typically caused by a few different factors. First, indoor pollution sources that release gases or particles into the air are the primary cause of poor air quality. In addition to these sources, inadequate air ventilation can cause these gases and particles to build up and become even more harmful. Typically, a certain amount of outdoor air needs to be brought into the home to dilute these harmful particles and gases within the home to maintain good indoor air quality. If not enough fresh air is able to circulate, the overall air quality will suffer greatly. High temperature and humidity can also play a huge part in increasing the concentration of these harmful pollutants.

 

What are some pollution sources that can cause poor indoor air quality?

These sources have a wide variety, making it important to have a well-rounded knowledge of potential causes of poor indoor air quality. Very commonly, heating sources including gas, oil, kerosene, coal or wood can all be sources of harmful pollutants if not properly ventilated. These heating sources can emit harmful gases such as carbon monoxide if not properly cared for. Additional sources include dangerous and harmful things such as mold or asbestos within the house. Malfunctioning appliances, specifically stoves or space heaters can also be harmful to your home’s indoor air quality.