Your home's air duct system is a network of metal tunnels in the walls, floors, and ceilings that carry conditioned the air from the furnace and central air conditioner to each room. If the air ducts are poorly sealed, or have holes and gaps, you're energy bills are likely to be higher than they should be. Ducts that leak heated air into unheated spaces such as crawl spaces, basements or attics can add hundreds of dollars a year to your heating and cooling bills.
The good news is you can effectively reduce this energy waste by sealing and insulating your ducts. Insulating ducts in unconditioned spaces is usually very cost-effective.
Sealing your home's ducts is important to prevent air loss, especially if the ducts are located in an unconditioned space such as an attic or crawlspace. If the supply ducts are leaking, heated or cooled air will be forced out and lost. In addition, unconditioned air can be drawn into return ducts through unsealed joints.
Minor duct repairs can be made by homeowners, while an HVAC professional should seal and insulate ducts in unconditioned spaces or make any necessary modification or additions to existing ductwork. In addition to sealing your ducts, it's important to ensure that objects are not blocking the your registers, including furniture, rugs, drapes, etc.
1. Inspect the ducts for air leaks by looking for sections that should be joined but have separated, then look for holes.
2. While duct tape seems like the most obvious material to use for duct sealing, duct mastic is a better choice for sealing seams and joints. While mastic is more durable than duct tape, but should not be used to cover gaps over ¼ inch. Larger gaps must be first bridged with a special mesh tape or a high quality heat approved tape. Butyl tape, foil tape, or other heat-approved tapes are also a good choice for sealing ducts.
3. If you're sealing or insulating air ducts in the basement, it will make the space colder, increasing the risk of frozen pipes.To prevent burst pipes ensure that the basement walls are well insulated or use an electric heating tape on the pipes.
4. If the basement is finished, ensure that there are both supply and return registers in all rooms.
Have questions about your home's air ducts? Give Grand Lake Plumbing and Heating a call, we can help answer all your home heating and cooling questions.
Most water heater manufacturers recommend draining the water heater tank every 6 or 12 months. Flushing the tank helps to remove sediment that can accumulate over time at the bottom of the tank. The sediment is mostly made up of minerals and other particles. If your home has hard water, sediment is likely to accumulate faster.
As the sediment builds up it creates an insulating layer between the burner at the bottom of the tank and the water. The burner has to run longer to heat the water, reducing the water heater's efficiency and shortening its lifespan. Flushing the water heater tank regularly will remove the sediment before it can significantly reduce the the efficiency of the burner.
Flushing a water heater is straightforward process, but you should always consult with the owner's manual for details on your particular make and model. It's also a good idea to know where your home's main water shut-off valve is located, should there be a problem during the process.
1. Shut off the water supply - Locate the cold water supply valve at the top of the water heater and turn it to the off position.
2. Turn off the water heater - If you have a gas water heater, simply turn the thermostat knob to the “pilot” setting. If the water heater is electric, turn off the power at the breaker panel.
3. Attach a garden hose to the drain valve located near the bottom of the tank. Place the other end of the hose near a floor drain, in a bucket (have several large buckets to empty into and rotate them if needed) or outside the home.
CAUTION: Even though a water heater may be off for hours, the water in the tank may still be hot enough to scald.
4. Open a hot water tap - Open a hot water tap on a floor above that is nearest the water heater. This will relieve pressure in the system, helping the water drain from the tank.
5. Open the drain valve - After all the water has drained from the tank, turn the cold water supply at the top of the tank back on for a moment. This will clear out any remaining sediment. Repeat this step until the water runs clear.
When you're finished draining the tank, return it to operating condition by following these steps:
1. Close the drain valve.
2. Remove the hose.
3. Turn on the cold water supply to refill the tank.
4. Return to the hot water tap you opened earlier. Once cold water begins to flow from the tap, turn it off.
5. Turn the gas valve back on from the pilot position or turn electricity back on to the tank.
6. Check the valve opening to ensure it's not leaking.
IMPORTANT: Always read and follow all manufacturer’s directions and warnings for your particular water heater. Some water heater tanks must be completely full to avoid damage to the gas burner or heating elements.
Need help maintaining your water heater? Call Grand Lake Plumbing, we can help.