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Posted by on in Safety

We recently posted a short list of precautionary inspection tips in order to avoid the chance of you or your loved ones getting carbon monoxide poisoning. The odorless CO gas can be extremely dangerous to those exposed to it and steps need to be taken to keep a home’s inhabitants safe. This dangerous gas can lead to severe health issues or even worse.


Many wonder how to detect carbon monoxide in the home since it is both colorless and odorless.  The best and most obvious way is the have properly installed CO detectors in multiple areas, preferably each floor and any secluded room, in the home. Unfortunately, many homeowners don’t take every necessary precaution when it comes to CO detection and avoiding putting themselves or their loved ones at risk. Sometimes, carbon monoxide poisoning can come in very low-level amounts, which means these individuals don’t know there is carbon monoxide present until a great deal of exposure and health deterioration occur.


In many carbon monoxide cases, homeowners have been said to have gotten the symptoms actually caused by exposure to CO gas confused with lengthy common cold or flu symptoms. The symptoms list for carbon monoxide poisoning can be extremely lengthy, and common cold or flu symptoms are almost all on that list. So, poor CO detection combined with the odorless and colorless nature of the harmful gas can lead to a misunderstanding of the cause of a sickness. Furthermore, a common cold or flu can often spread to multiple, or all, individuals living under the same roof, so these individuals aren’t quick to make the jump to a cause other than a spreadable virus or sickness.

Posted by on in Heating

It’s no secret to any homeowner with an HVAC system—it needs to be kept clean. The most recognizable way to do so is by regularly changing air filters in the system. There are many different air filters from which to choose, so sometimes it can be difficult to know which filters to buy. Many systems manuals will give the minimum requirements for these filters, both in type and regularity of which to change them out. Sometimes, however, there are better solutions that those initially recommended in these products manuals.


An air filter, regardless of type, should be checked every month or so to see how dirty it is, especially during heavy use months. Standard filters usually should be replaced within three months, but there are some advanced HVAC filters that can last longer. Replacement of the air filter is typically the first defense against a dirty HVAC and duct system. A dirty filter will slow down airflow and make the system work harder to keep you warm or cool — wasting energy. A clean filter will also prevent dust and dirt from building up in the system — leading to expensive maintenance and/or early system failure.


Unfortunately, sometimes even regularly replaced air filters can’t defend completely against the home’s HVAC system and equipment from getting dirty. It’s possible that there are leaks or cracks in the system near the fan unit, causing dirtier air to bypass the filter altogether and get into the system over, which can lead to dirt and dust buildup in the unit’s machinery over time. This can especially be the case with a dirtier filter. If it is hard for air to get through that filter, it will get into the system one way or another (with the system working extra hard, of course). Air typically follows the path of least resistance, so when that path is no longer through a dirty filter, it will find another way.


Another possibility for unfiltered air getting into the system is a poor filter rack design. HVAC air filters can be top of the market and extremely effective, but without a good rack design to house them they can be rendered somewhat useless. This is a point of frustration for both the homeowner who is regularly purchasing high quality filters and for technicians and contractors who have to clean or do maintenance on these systems. In a poorly designed or damaged filter rack system, air can bypass the filter through any loose-fitting connection or crack. This dirty air is not only soils the equipment, but can also be dispersed throughout the household via the ducts. This can have a very negative effect on the overall indoor air quality of the home.

Posted by on in Safety

Carbon monoxide, as we’ve written about on the blog previously, is one of the most dangerous gases that can be present in the home. Because of its odorless nature, it can be very difficult to detect before it becomes a danger to those living in the home. In order to help mitigate the risks of carbon monoxide leaks and other problems, simple inspection and maintenance steps should be taken on all home gas heating systems and other appliances.


Here are a few tips and precautions to take that can help you prevent carbon monoxide issues in the home:


·      Look for rust or soot around the point of flame or heat exchange in your heating unit. Discoloration or abnormal flame color can also be warning signs of ineffective or incomplete combustion, which can lead to excess gas making its way into your home.

·      Check all venting systems for proper functionality on your heating system. By ensuring proper venting and air flow where necessary, you can prevent air and gas flow issues from presenting a problem when it comes to carbon monoxide. The vent system should always be in good condition and of high integrity.

·      Make sure your entire system is clean. Regular cleaning and maintenance is key to avoid blockages and restrictions, which can potentially lead to dangerous issues with gas units. Pay attention to areas around flue passages and near combustion points like heat exchangers. These areas are especially crucial when it comes to cleanliness and proper functionality.

·      Beyond visual inspection of the flame from the burner, proper tests should be done. There are some that can be done by experienced homeowners. It is highly recommended that an electronic carbon monoxide analyzer with digital display is used when testing CO levels in these heating units.

·      Always have working carbon monoxide detectors in your house. If you run into any issues or dangers with carbon being present, an effective monitor can alert you to the issue so you can keep yourself and your loved ones safe.

Perhaps you are one of the many homeowners who knows your house is losing energy and isn’t as efficient or comfortable as it could be. But, how do you identify the cause of this problem? A great number of homeowners are faced with this problem every day. As we’ve mentioned on this blog before, a comprehensive home energy audit is the place to start. It can help pinpoint the exact root causes of your energy usage and efficiency woes.


The primary method used to identify energy problems within your home is the Blower Door Test. As part of the full home energy assessment, a qualified contractor like Bel Red can use this Blower Door tool to effectively identify how much air is flowing in or out of your home. The airtightness of your home is sometimes a big key (or culprit) to overall energy loss. Whether cold air is getting in during the winter months or escaping during summer months, air leaks can be a costly burden for homeowners looking to maximize efficiency in their home.


The basic operation of the Blow Door tool is fairly simple to understand. The contractor carrying out the testing places and seals a powerful fan in a doorway, creating a pressure difference between the indoors and outdoors of the home, usually by depressurizing the house. All the air that the fan blows out of the house is replaced by air coming in through all the leaks. The amount of air leakage (which equates to energy loss) is measured by how much air blows through the fan.


This process also allows trained contractors to easily identify where leaks are coming from in each room of the house. In some cases, these leaks are strong enough to even be identified by the hand. In other cases, smoke tools and other devices like infrared cameras are used to identify these leaks. This type of diagnosis allows the contractor and homeowner to identify the biggest root causes of their air leak problems.

Posted by on in Heating

When it comes to heating topics on this blog, we’ve written quite a bit about furnace maintenance repair and heat pumps—both specialties of Bel Red and our talented and knowledgeable staff. You might be wondering, “Do they do installation, maintenance, and repairs on boiler systems?” There’s an easy answer to that—of course!


Boilers, which use hydronic heating to perform the same types of home heating functions you’d get from a more common furnace or heat pump system. The typical boiler heating systems heats water to high temperatures, then uses that heat energy to push warm air throughout the house. Multiple forms of energy, including gas, electricity or oil can be used to power these types of heating systems.


Bel Red’s staff of licensed plumbers and HVAC technicians are highly trained to handle both common and uncommon problems with these systems. We service most boiler brands, including Buderus, Baxi, Raypak, Weil–McLain, Peerless, Lars, Burnham, Utica, Dunkirk, Lochnivar, and many more.


While we offer full repair and replacement at Bel Red, we also take care of associated zoning issues, radiator repairs and installation, gas piping issues or installation, and chimney liner remediation and relining. Our staff is trained to handle all of these boiler related issues with care and safety in mind.


Like furnaces, boilers should have annual maintenance and inspections in order to extend their lives and ensure they are working as properly and efficiently as possible. We offer comprehensive 17-point inspection for our boiler customers, which includes:


                  Burner cleaning (for both safety and efficiency)

                  Leak inspection

                  Inspection of electrical connections with the boiler system

                  Inspection of all boiler controls

                  Check and adjust PRV / pressure check valve operation


We also make sure any maintenance or repairs are going to help maximize the life of your boiler with proactive inspections and a full system analysis. These precautionary steps will help prevent inconvenient breakdowns and help uphold the manufacturer’s warranty on these systems.