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Must-Haves For Your Backyard Man Cave

Posted by on Feb 29, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Must-Haves For Your Backyard Man Cave

Entertaining friends and viewing sports with your friends is challenging in playrooms and family rooms, so creating a space for your own personal needs is smart. Man caves are becoming desirable options, since they offer a designated space, away from the other areas of the home, to view sports, play games, and enjoy other favorite hobbies. Of course, creating a man cave inside the house may become an expensive remodeling project. In addition, your home may lack the square footage necessary to create a comfortable man cave. Fortunately, pre-engineered buildings are great man cave options, since they are easy to install right in your backyard. Using this guide, you can create a sports-themed man cave out of a pre-engineered metal building in your backyard. Plumbing, Electrical, Heating & Cooling Pre-engineered metal buildings may seem complete, but you will still need to trim out the plumbing, electrical, and heating and air conditioning systems. Before getting started, decide if these systems are all necessary in your man cave. Your spouse will most likely prefer that you and your friends use the bathroom out in the man cave and not in the house, so plumbing is essential. A simple half bath design, which includes a toilet and sink will be sufficient for you and your friends. Unless you plan on using the space to cook and clean, you should not need any other plumbing system installed. Proper electrical wiring will be imperative for your space. Your man cave will need to be wired for lighting, cable, and internet, so make sure to hire professionals to ensure your electrical system is up to code. Make sure to wire your building for light fixtures and a ceiling fan to cool and circulate air through the space. Lastly, you will need to control the temperature of your man cave, especially during the colder months of winter and heated temperatures of summer. To heat and cool your man cave, consider a ductless mini-split system. Since the mini-split system does not require ductwork to move conditioned air into the space, it is a smart option for your pre-engineered building. The smaller size of the system allows you to mount the indoor unit on any wall inside your man cave, without the worry of running ductwork through the ceiling and walls. Sports-Viewing Necessities Shopping for the various man cave items needed to view games and tournaments will be a fun adventure. Unfortunately, you may not know where to begin, but the television should be a priority. Once you decide on the type and size, your TV will become the focal point of your man cave. Your building will hopefully offer adequate space, so you do not need to sit terribly close to your television. For the best view, measure the distance between your main seating area and television location. A minimum space of 6.25 feet between your seat and a 50-inch television is ideal. Choosing furniture is also important while designing your sports-viewing area. Here are a few must-haves for your man cave furniture: Recliners – You and your friends will want to relax in comfort while watching favorite teams play. Incorporate a few recliners into your seating area for comfort and versatility. Sofa or Sectional – If space is available, consider adding a sofa to the viewing...

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HVAC And Window Egress Requirements For Your Basement Apartment

Posted by on Dec 23, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on HVAC And Window Egress Requirements For Your Basement Apartment

If you want to convert your unfinished or finished basement into a rental apartment, there are some requirements you need to follow to make sure it is a legal apartment. Following these legal requirements can help protect you from any potential liability. Here are some regulations you need to follow for basement HVAC and egress windows and doors when updating your basement to a rental unit. HVAC System According to the International Building Code, section 1204.1 any interior spaces intended for human occupancy needs to have an active or passive heating system to maintain a minimum indoor temperature of 68 degrees F at three feet above the floor. An air conditioner is not required for your basement apartment, but if you do install one, make sure it is properly maintained. Having an air conditioner in your basement apartment can be helpful to find and keep good renters, especially when you live in a warmer climate. Mike Rupert with the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs suggests as a landlord you should install a HVAC system for your basement apartment to meet the minimum requirements of heating and cooling. This includes a minimum heating temperature of 65 degrees F at night and 68 degrees F during the day. Then, the air conditioner should maintain the basement’s interior at 15 degrees F cooler than the temperature outside. You or a company you hire, such as Elite Heating, Cooling and Plumbing, can install a window-mounted air conditioner or a ductless air conditioner on the interior wall of the basement unit, or add on to an existing central air conditioning system. As you are converting your basement apartment, you are required to heat the space, but it is not required for you to install a separate heating system for the basement. For example, if your upstairs is set up on a heating furnace with forced air venting, or an oil heat system, you can (but don’t need to) add the basement apartment onto the existing heating systems.  The Department of Housing and Urban Development recommends to install a heating system in the basement as long as it is not an unvented room heater that burns kerosene, gas, or oil. Electric heaters are okay in a basement apartment. You can install an approved basement heating in each room of your basement apartment, such as baseboard heating. A separate heating system allows your basement tenants to set their temperature for their needs. Egress Windows and Doors For a legal basement apartment, you do not need to provide a separate basement exterior exit door for your tenant. You can share a common entrance to the home with your tenant, with separate entrances to each of your own units. But, the basement apartment needs to have appropriate-size windows to provide access for your tenant to escape in the case of a fire in the home. This includes window access in any basement rooms used for eating, sleeping, cooking, and living, including offices, recreation rooms, bedrooms, and home theaters. To make it possible for your tenant to use a window as an exit if there is a fire, the window needs to have the required opening space. Each window needs a minimum height opening of 24 inches and a minimum width opening of 20 inches. The opening of the window needs to be at least five point seven square feet. The window sill cannot be...

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How To Choose Between 4 Common Air Conditioning Systems

Posted by on Jul 29, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on How To Choose Between 4 Common Air Conditioning Systems

If you are building a new home or replacing the air conditioner in your current home, you may be trying to choose between several different types of air conditioners. Each type of air conditioner is designed for a specific use case. Here is a comparison of four of the most common types of residential air conditioners to help you choose the best option for your home. Window and Wall-Mounted Air Conditioners The first two options that most people will consider for cooling single rooms, apartments, and very small homes are window air conditioners and wall-mounted air conditioners. Window air conditioners are the most common type of small air conditioner because they offer an excellent balance of affordability, efficiency, and easy installation. Wall-mounted air conditioners are typically much more complicated to install than window units. You must avoid wiring and pipes in the wall where you are installing the unit, while also taking care not to damage any studs that could compromise the structural integrity of your home. With the additional installation complications, wall-mounted air conditioners may not seem to have any advantages over window units. However, wall-mounted air conditioners are more energy-efficient than window air conditioners because there is a much tighter seal around their edges. You can also find wall-mounted air conditioners in larger sizes than windows units. Portable Air Conditioners Portable air conditioners are the simplest and most versatile air conditioners you can buy. Like window and wall units, they consist of a single box that houses all of the components of the air conditioner. However, they also have one or two hoses that run out of a nearby window to cycle hot air outside and return cool air to the room. Because they are less efficient than window or wall air conditioners, portable units should be considered a last resort for whole-home cooling. However, they are a good option for cooling rooms where a window or wall unit cannot be installed. You can also move them from room to cool only the room you are occupying without spending energy to cool the rest of your home. Central Air Conditioners Central air conditioners are made up of two parts: indoor evaporator coils that are located above the furnace and an outdoor condenser unit. When you use your central air conditioner, cooled refrigerant is delivered through tubing from the outdoor condenser to the evaporator coils above your furnace. The blower motor in your furnace blows air across the coils and into your home’s ductwork. This heats up the refrigerant in the evaporator coils, which is then cycled back to the condenser and re-cooled. Central air conditioners are the most economical choice for larger homes with existing ductwork. Central air conditioners can last 15 to 20 years if they are properly maintained. They are also increasing in efficiency every year, with modern central air conditioners being 30 percent or more efficient than systems manufactured before 2006. Mini-Split Ductless Air Conditioners Like central air conditioners, mini-split ductless air conditioners consist of an outdoor condenser and indoor air handlers and evaporator coils. However, ductless systems may have multiple indoor units with one installed in each room that needs to be cooled. Hoses are run directly from each indoor unit to the outdoor condenser, meaning that these systems can be installed in...

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2 Key HVAC Maintenance Tasks You Might Be Overlooking

Posted by on Jul 14, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 2 Key HVAC Maintenance Tasks You Might Be Overlooking

When it comes to keeping your furnace and air conditioner in tip-top shape, you might not worry as long as you have replaced your air filter and your system switches on. However, your entire HVAC system will function better if you take the time to perform these key maintenance tasks: 1: Cleaning Your Evaporator Coils Have you ever wondered why most air conditioning technicians are also trained on heating systems? Although you might assume that your outdoor air conditioner is completely responsible for cooling your home, the process wouldn’t be possible without the help of your indoor heating unit. Most central air conditioning units rely on the air handler, typically located inside of your furnace cabinet, to cool and circulate air inside of your home. As air is pulled in from outside, refrigerant is pumped to the evaporator coils inside of your air handler or furnace. The refrigerant circulates as air passes through the coils, so that humidity and heat are pulled away. Unfortunately, over time, this crucial coil can become riddled with dirt and debris—even if you replace your filter regularly. If the evaporator coils are dirty, it can impede airflow and strain your entire HVAC system. Fortunately, you can clean your evaporator coils by following these five steps: Step 1: Turn off your furnace or air handler. Most systems contain a simple on/off switch that looks like a light switch near your air handler. However, if flipping that switch doesn’t work, you can always turn off the electrical panel breaker that controls your furnace. Step 2: Using a socket wrench, remove the access panel screws to expose the evaporator coil. Step 3: Using a flashlight, identify the dirty sections of your evaporator coils. Step 4: Spray coil cleaner directly onto the dirty sections of your evaporator coils. Coil cleaner, which can be purchased at most hardware stores, is an aerosol spray that liquefies dirt and grime. Some versions don’t even need to be rinsed away. As soon as your air handler starts operating again, the condensation will rinse the system.  Step 5: If one application of coil cleaner doesn’t do the trick, repeat the process. If grime remains after a few applications, use an old toothbrush to gently whisk away tough dirt. As you work, pay special attention not to bend the fins of the evaporator coil. When fins are bent, they provide an easy place for future dust and dirt to accumulate. When you are finished cleaning the coil, replace the access panels and turn back on your system. Before you know it, you might notice cooler air and a system that regulates humidity a little better. 2: Checking the Drip Pan Before you leave your utility closet or climb down from your attic, take the time to check the drip pan located underneath your evaporator coil. As humidity condensates and is removed from your air, it drips into a collection pan where it can be drained. Unfortunately, if your drip pan is full, damaged, or dirty, it might flood nearby areas, damage electrical wiring, or make your house smell terrible. Here are a few things to look for when you inspect your drip tray and why they matter: Signs of Corrosion: Look for signs of rust, cracks, or pinhole leaks. If your drip pan is...

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Uncovering The Signs Of Potential Plumbing Issues In A New Home

Posted by on May 5, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Moving into a new home can be an exciting time as you and your family adjust to your new lifestyle. Each day brings new discoveries, but faulty plumbing shouldn’t be one of them. Doing your homework before you buy that steal-of-a-deal home helps you avoid unpleasant plumbing surprises in the future. Bathrooms & Kitchens Don’t be swayed by those gorgeous tiles or the cute little window you’ve always wanted. Take the time to check for signs of plumbing problems in your bathroom before you say I do to the realtor. Toilets Flush the toilet and observe how quickly it flushes. Healthy toilets whisk away water with a forceful swirl and empty within 10 to 15 seconds. Check how long it takes the tank to refill. Your toilet tank should refill within 45 to 90 seconds, depending on the toilet, says Cesco Brass. If your toilet takes longer than this to refill, you may be dealing with clogged inlet valves. Look for moisture around the base of the toilet. Loose, curled or wet tiles may signal a leak around the base of the toilet. Tubs, Showers & Sinks Press the tiles in the shower stall. If they give under light pressure or feel loose, there may be water damage behind the tiles. Examine the rim of the tub and any areas where two surfaces meet for any signs of mold or mildew. Look for areas where the caulking is missing or damaged as this may allow water to seep behind the tiles or under the tub. Check under the sink with a flashlight and look for any signs of water damage, like residue along the seams or pipes or water stains or mildew on walls or tiles. Check both the pipes and the cabinets. Turn on both the hot and cold water to determine if there is adequate flow. Watch the water as it drains. Slow or sluggish drains may indicate a problem. Floors Stand straddling the toilet and rock back and forth. If the floor feels soft or spongy, there is probably water damage under the tiles. Repeat the procedure around the tub, in front of the sink and anywhere you suspect water damage. Do a Whole House Visual Inspection It may be tempting to limit your attention to the bathroom and kitchen, but plumbing problems can happen anywhere. A visual inspection of the home may reveal telltale signs of water damage or leaks. Follow the pipes, looking for discoloration or other signs of leaks. Check the basement walls and floor for moisture. Unless you are experiencing spring runoff or heavy rains, moisture seeping in through the basement walls may indicate a broken sewer pipe outside the home. Look for water stains or unexplained moisture throughout the home. Head Outside Sometimes, clues to plumbing problems can only be seen from the outside. Walk around the home, keeping your eyes open for any unexplained water. Sink Holes Depressions in the lawn or yard that appear wet may be a signal that an underground pipe has broken. Unless there is another plausible explanation for the sinkhole in your yard, take it as a warning sign to investigate further. Heavy Vegetation Areas of lush, green grass may seem like a sign of rich soil, but when you spy an area that is...

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Shake, Rattle, And Hum! Stop The Music Of Faulty Heating And Air

Posted by on Apr 21, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

As a homeowner, you probably are familiar with the overwhelming nature of maintaining your investment. From repairing a leaky faucet to installing new flooring, the challenges of home ownership are easy to see. Of course, certain updates are essential for the value and function of your house. Considering your heating and air conditioning system encompasses half of your home’s total energy use, maintaining the system benefits the environment and your bank account. Using this guide on common noises in your outdoor units, you can diagnose and repair your heating system and air conditioning. Shake A periodic shaking or buzzing sound coming from your outdoor unit may be an electrical issue. Unfortunately, you probably do not have experience working around electrical wiring and parts, so contacting a heating and air contractor wise. Your contractor will determine if there are any loose electrical connections in and around your outdoor unit. This may involve disconnecting power and inspecting the interior components to find the faulty connection. If the shaking and buzzing sound occurs immediately after powering on your system, you may have tripped your breaker. However, if the noise continues, you may have a faulty relay switch. Necessary for powering on your heating and air system, a faulty relay switch will not allow the system to heat or cool your home.  If the relay switch breaks, it creates a shaking, buzzing sound inside your unit. While important, replacing the relay switch is a simple, inexpensive task. Rattle A loud rattling inside your outdoor unit is most likely due to a problem with your fan in the condenser. You may have a broken fan or a loose screw, but a detailed inspection is necessary to find the source of the rattling. Use the following steps to safely inspect the interior of your unit: Power Down Unit – Open the disconnect box, which is located near your unit. Turn off the power shutoff. Also, shut off the power to your unit at your indoor electrical panel. Remove the Grill – Use a screwdriver to remove the screws connecting the exterior grill cover. Pull the side grill cover up and lift off the top panel in one motion. Inspect the Fan – Inspect the fan blades inside your unit. If blades are loose, tighten the screws with your screwdriver. If blades are broken or warped, you will need to replace the entire fan. Inspect the Interior – If the fan and blades appear to be in good condition, check the interior for loose screws or bolts. Loose pieces create noise, but may not affect the working mechanism of your system. If left inside, they could lead to problems in the future. Hum When running your system, you will hear a soft humming noise. This natural sound stems from your system’s motor and is a necessary part of heating and cooling your house. However, a loud humming is not only an annoying problem for your neighbors, but it can also lead to expensive repairs. If your outdoor unit is humming loudly, you may have debris or foreign objects lodged inside. Grass clippings, leaves, mulch, trash, small birds, reptiles, or amphibians may get stuck inside the grill cover or in between the fan blades. While the cost ranges from $100 to $250, a contractor can clean your...

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2 Types Of HVAC Filters You Might Adore

Posted by on Apr 14, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Like any proactive homeowner, you might find yourself in the hardware store every few months shopping for a new HVAC filter. Although you might be tempted to find an inexpensive brand and stock up, the fact of the matter is that some filters are designed to tackle common household complaints. Here are two types of HVAC filters you might adore, and why you might never go back to the run-of-the-mill variety: 1: Activated Carbon Filters Do you smell that? If you have been living with that odor for awhile, you probably don’t. Your brain adapts to smells after prolonged exposure, which means that you might not notice that rotting baby bottle that has been sitting underneath your living room couch for the past three weeks. Fortunately, activated carbon filters can absorb odors, so that your place smells a little fresher. Carbon is unique because it contains loads of microscopic pores. These pores dramatically increase the surface area of each particle, which means that a little carbon goes a long way. In fact, one teaspoon of activated carbon has the same surface area as an entire football field. Odors are absorbed into these pores, and neutralized the by the carbon. Here are a few ways that activated carbon filters might make a difference in your house: Whole-Home Deodorizing: Don’t you hate it when you spend the time to clean your house, only to have the ambiance destroyed by your teenager’s smelly bedroom? One of the best things about activated carbon filters is that because they clean all of the air that circulates through your home, you can remove smells from less-accessible areas. In addition to tackling moody teen get-a-ways, you might also be able to target rental suites and locked bathrooms. Reduced Pollution: Stinky dishes aren’t the only thing that can make your house smell terrible. If you live in a big city, you might also be faced with harmful airborne pollutants. Fortunately, activated carbon filters also remove substances like sulfur dioxide, exhaust, chlorinated hydrocarbons, and even halogens. To decide if an activated carbon filter is right for you, try to objectively evaluate your environment. Have an open, honest conversation with a friend or family member about the way your home smells. By simply switching out your HVAC filter with one from a place like Cape Fear Air Conditioning & Heating Co., Inc., you might be able to make your place more appealing to others. 2: Electrostatic Filters Have you ever noticed that dust tends to accumulate on your electronic devices? Particulates cling to charged surfaces, which is why electrostatic filters are so effective. Although you might imagine filters fitted with intricate devices and batteries, electrostatic filters don’t require any extra hardware. These filters harness this natural attraction by blending polyurethane and polypropylene threads. When air passes through the screen, it creates a negative charge, which attracts dust and grime. Here are a few reasons these special filters might work for you: AC Health: In addition to reducing the dust levels around your house, electrostatic filters also screen up to 95% of particulates—keeping your air conditioner healthier. In fact, since 9 out of 10 system failures are thought to be caused by dirt and grime, an efficient filter can fend off future repairs. Washable Varieties: Believe it or not, there...

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Three Ways To Protect Your Outdoor Air Conditioning Unit From Flood Waters

Posted by on Apr 10, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

With the arrival of spring comes increased rainfall and a higher risk of flooding. Although some areas are more prone to flooding than others, this catastrophe can happen to anyone anywhere as evidenced by the fact that all 50 states experienced some type of flooding event in the last five years. If you have an outdoor air conditioning unit, taking steps to protect it from flood waters can save you thousands of dollars in repair and replacement costs. Here are three ways you can accomplish this task. Relocate The Unit One possible long-term solution is to relocate the unit to inside the home, and preferably on an upper level. If you have a flat roof, placing it there is also an option. Another possibility is to put the unit on an outdoor deck that sits several feet off the ground. In either case, the goal is to move the unit to a place where flood waters are unlikely to get to it. However, relocating an outdoor AC unit isn’t as simple as picking it up and plopping it in its new spot. The duct system, wiring, and drainage pipes will have to be reconfigured to the unit’s new location. You may also need to do some interior renovation work depending on where you place the air conditioner. At minimum, it can cost between $500 and $750 to relocate an existing AC unit. However, a cheaper and better option may be to change the location of the unit when you purchase a new one. A lot of things that need to be done to prepare the old unit won’t be required with a new air conditioner, which may reduce the cost of the move. Build A Flood Wall If relocating the air conditioner isn’t feasible or desired, you’re next best option is to build a wall around the machine to stop flood waters from reaching it. One benefit of this alternative is you can save yourself some money by building the wall yourself. However, hiring an experienced mason may be the best way to go. The wall should be made from strong materials that can withstand the impact of the flood waters such as cement and stone. It should also be at least one foot taller than the highest recorded flood level in your area. You can usually get this information from your local city or county building authority or area flood specialist. Be aware, though, that flash floods can cause water to get as high as 10 to 20 feet. When building the wall, you must also be certain to provide a way for people to access the area to perform maintenance on the air conditioning unit as well as ensure the unit has enough surrounding space to function. It costs an average of $4,500 to build a brick, stone, or block wall. However, the cost may be more or less depending on the size of the wall, the materials used, and whether you do it yourself or have a contractor install the structure for you. Increase The Height Of The Concrete Base The last option is to increase the height of the concrete base the unit is sitting on. Of the three options, this is the least ideal because it still leaves the unit exposed to splashing water....

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