Posted by & filed under Fireplaces.

A fireplace mantle can significantly enhance the look of any living room, family room or even kitchen and offers great decorative value. Unlike medieval times when their sole purpose was to catch smoke, today’s mantles are accessories as part of the home’s interior design and ornamental element.

Santa sleeping in front of the fireplace

 

Regardless what mantel theme you decide upon; simple, classic or an elaborate design, the fireplace has become a centerpiece of the entire room. Not only does it beautify and decorate an otherwise ordinary looking fireplace, but it serves a functional purpose as well. Mantels are used to display knick-knacks, candles, family photos, heirlooms pieces, and other items of interest that you wish to display.

Considering the Types

Once you’ve decided to invest into a fireplace for your home, you’ll first need to consider the importance of its design and which one will be suitable for your interior. There are several types of materials that can be used in constructing fireplace mantels, ranging in styles from rustic and natural to contemporary and elegant.

When choosing a fireplace mantel, it also helps to know what’s available and features of each type. It should match the fireplace design and room interior to provide a uniform and overall appearance in your home.

The rustic style remains one of the most popular styles for fireplace mantels. A stone fireplace immediately conjures up the image of warmth and comfort; however, more modern mantels made of wood are becoming quite popular these days. Modern designs using materials like steel, marble or stucco have gained in popularity and offer a creative approach to mantel designs with intriguing ideas.

  • Wood – Most fireplace mantels are made from wood because it’s a material builders can easily construct and maintains a natural look. Wood is the most popular and also the most affordable material since you can paint and stain it to suit the colour theme and décor of your interior space. Wood has a lot of flexibility because it can be carved, manipulated and designed into various styles and shapes. Wood mantels come in a variety of wood types such as oak, cherry, walnut, pine, maples, cedar and many other hardwoods.
  • Stone – Stone mantels are also popular because they are especially resilient to damage. Stone is more expensive than wooden mantels, but the expenditure is worth it because of their durability, fireproof, heatproof nature and easy maintenance. Stone mantels are generally precast and simply fitted to surround the fireplace. Stone mantels can be constructed from limestone, sandstone, granite, river rock or travertine and available with different colors and textures of stone. Stone mantels are best suited for rooms with a large fireplace.
  • Marble – Marble mantels are the most expensive and cost thousands of dollars. The marble is usually hand carved and provides a rich, elegant and formal look to the room. Marble is a study and extremely hard material. Not only beautiful and elegant, marble is known for its longevity and durability.
  • Brick – Brick mantels are simple, affordable and ideal for creating different looks. Brick is usually available in a single colour and best suited for interiors that have a country feel. Since brick is an exceptionally heavy material, it will need additional support at the fireplace.
  • Ceramic Tile – Ceramic tile mantels are similar to stone mantels in that ceramic tile mantels are precast using ceramic solid units. Ceramic mantels give you the option of customization depending on the room interior and they come in a wide range of finishes, colours and styles
  • Metal – Metal mantels can look either contemporary or historical, such as a Victorian style that’s finished with hand-rubbed gold. Metal has the flexibility in experimenting with unique shapes and sizes. They come in a variety of materials such as aluminum, bronze, stainless steel and brass and particularly attractive in a room having a contemporary decor.

It’s Your Choice

Whichever material you ultimately decide upon using for your fireplace mantle, a mantle will add beauty, charm and style to your interior décor.

Posted by & filed under Furnace Maintenance.

If you’re looking for a great way to save on your energy bill, avoid costly repairs, and extend the life of your furnace, then now’s the time to get your annual furnace inspection completed!

Lennox Furnace

Prevent Costly Repairs This Winter

Many times, a furnace breaks down in the middle of one of the coldest winter nights. An emergency repair call is made, and costly repairs are completed.

Getting your furnace inspected this fall means that you have a better chance of avoiding the surprise and inconvenience of those unexpected furnace problems this winter!

If during the inspection it’s found that your furnace needs to be replaced, you have the luxury to research your options before the cold weather hits.

Making Your Winter More Affordable

Approximately half of your energy bill’s costs are a result of using your furnace. Depending on how long and cold the winter is, that energy bill can sometimes be extra high.

Because a well-maintained furnace runs more efficiently and uses less energy, regular maintenance on your furnace can save a household 30% on energy costs!

Not only that, but a furnace that is well-maintained means that it will last longer, meaning a replacement furnace is much further into the future!

Maintain Your Manufacturer’s Warranty

If anything major ever goes wrong with your furnace, manufacturers normally require proof that you’ve been taking care of the unit. In a lot of cases, regular furnace inspections are normally a requirement.

Check your furnace’s warranty paperwork to ensure you’re doing what’s needed to maintain its warranty.

The Particulars of a Fall Furnace Inspection

The particulars of a fall furnace inspection differ depending on the company you choose. However, all inspections should include a thorough cleaning to increase efficiency and save on energy costs.

In addition, controls (such as the thermostat and start-up/shutdown) should be checked to ensure proper functioning, moving parts should be lubricated, filter replaced, and proper electrical connections verified.

After a furnace inspection, homeowners should feel confident knowing that their furnace is at peak operating performance to ensure a comfortable, warm winter ahead!

An Annual Furnace Inspection Can Save Your Life!

Many homeowners don’t realize the health benefits of getting their furnace inspected annually.

While conducting an inspection, qualified technicians can check for carbon monoxide leaks. When leaked, this colourless, odourless gas can lead to headaches, dizziness, nausea, and even death.

Avoid the chance of your furnace leaking this hazardous gas by getting it inspected this fall.

We Handle All of Your HVAC Needs

As one of the most complex systems running throughout your home, HVAC systems should be inspected by the right professional.

At Hamilton Home Comfort, we have spent the last 25 years providing the most reliable HVAC service you can get in Hamilton and surrounding area.

Let the qualified experts at Hamilton Home Comfort get your furnace ready for the cold season ahead. Call us today to learn more about our fall inspection prices and maintenance plans!

Posted by & filed under Energy Saving, Heating.

About half of every energy dollar you spend goes towards heating your home. Your windows and doors are often a major factor in energy loss in your home and you certainly don’t want that money leaving through cracks and windows.

Insulation and draft proofing can make your home more comfortable and quiet, while saving energy and reducing heating costs by 5-10 percent.

Single-paned windows that have metal frames are not well insulated and do not keep the heat in or out very well. These types of windows only take up between 5-10% of a home’s total surface area that is exposed to outside temperatures but account for as much as 30% of the heat lost in a home. Older homes are more susceptible to heat loss because of the structure of the windows. The edges of doors and windows account for a large amount of air leakage.

woman looking out of the window

 

You have options to fix these heat losses and improve your energy efficiency of existing windows by adding storm windows, caulking, weather-stripping and using window treatments or coverings.

Caulking and Weather-Stripping

If you are unable to replace your current windows, there are other ways to improve efficiency and reduce energy loss. Caulking and weather-stripping can reduce air leakage around windows. Use caulk for stationary cracks, gaps, or joints less than one-quarter-inch wide, and weather-stripping for building components that move, such as doors and operable windows.

Alternatives

You can also:

  • Use a heavy-duty, clear plastic sheet on a frame or tape clear plastic film to the inside of your window frames to reduce drafts
  • Install tight-fitting, insulating window shades on windows that feel drafty after weatherizing.
  • Close your curtains and shades at night to protect against cold drafts; open them during the day to let in warming sunlight.
  • Install exterior or interior storm windows, which can reduce heat loss through the windows by approximately 10%-20%, depending on the type of window already installed in the home. They should have weather-stripping at all movable joints; be made of strong, durable materials; and have interlocking or overlapping joints.

Window Treatments

Window treatments or coverings can reduce heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer. Most window treatments, however, aren’t effective at reducing air leakage or infiltration. Window coverings, such as blinds and curtains can help lower the possibility of heat loss, especially at night, but make sure that the coverings don’t restrict the movement of air because it can cause the window to sweat.

Storm Windows

Another option to help you improve efficiency and save you money is to install storm windows.

You can install these windows on the inside or the outside. Your insulation will improve by the dead air that is trapped between the windows. There are a few different types of storm windows such as rigid plastic storm windows, which are attached to the window with a mounting strip.

There are the single pane storm windows that you install each fall and remove each spring. There are also the permanent type storm windows, which are more convenient than the removable type with both screening and glass in the same unit. Temporary storm windows are plastic and are attached to the frame with tightly shrunken two-sided tape.

The End Result

Whichever method you decide to employ for sealing your windows and doors to prevent heat from escaping your home, each offers a good solution to help your home become more efficient and save you money in the long run.

Posted by & filed under Fireplaces.

With stars twinkling above during the summer or cooler fall nights, there is something special about family and friends gathering around a roaring fire. If you have an area in your backyard or cottage that could use a unique spruce up, patioflame tables offer you the beauty and warmth of a campfire experience without the mess, work, or regulations of a real wood fire.

Napoleon patioflame table

 

Benefits

Patioflame tables add a focal point and dimension to your backyard while increasing your living space with dancing flames set into a comfortable, functional piece of furniture. They are the perfect addition to your outdoor living space and come in many styles and features, from classic to linear designs that will match any outdoor décor.

You get immediate warmth and beauty added to your outdoor living area as you, family and friends gather around a cozy and inviting setting. Patioflame tables offer you, not just a place to set your drinks and bring beauty to your backyard, but also a living piece of art that brings you and your friends and family closer together.

 

Options

The options are endless when considering a patioflame table for your backyard. From the simplest square designs to the most extravagant stationary rectangular models, patioflame tables, such as the Napoleon line, are manufactured with the highest quality materials.

The exteriors range from lightweight rust-resistant aluminum construction with a central flame that allows you to move it around to different locations when the mood suits you, (hence getting the best out of your space at any time) to patioflame tables that are modern works of art with beautiful topaz glass embers that produce rippling flames flowing from multiple burner ports and reflecting dancing flames into your space.

Napoleon patioflame tables are approved for use on wooden decks, stone or brick patios and concrete, which is a great attraction for placement versatility. The burners are constructed from all stainless steel for maximum outdoor durability and weather resistance.

Many patioflame models, such as the St. Tropez Square Patioflame® Table offer 60,000 BTU’s of heat and there are no unsightly fuel lines and tanks cluttering your space because they come with a hidden propane tank behind an easy access door. There is also a thermocouple valve as a safety feature that cuts the gas off to the unit if the flames are interrupted for any reason. In addition, if you accidentally leave the included burner cover off and you get some rain overnight, there are drainage holes in the burner to make sure that water will empty before the next use.

 

Commercial Products:

Hamilton Home Comfort carries a complete line of Napoleon models and styles to suit your every need and home surroundings, so contact us to find out which models suits you and your family best.

  • Napoleon’s St. Tropez Rectangle Patioflame® Table
  • Tropez Square Patioflame® Table by Napoleon
  • Napoleon’s Kensington Rectangular Patioflame® table
  • Kensington Square Patioflame® Table.
  • Napoleon Kensington Round Patioflame® Table.
  • Napoleon Hamptons Rectangle Patioflame® Table
  • Napoleon Hamptons Square Patioflame® Table
  • Gas Patioflame® from Napoleon
  • Napoleon’s Patioflame® outdoor gas firepit with glass embers

 

Be Cozy

With summer winding down and the feel of fall nights getting closer, maybe now is the time to consider a patioflame table. It will provide you with a cozy, warm and delightful environment for your backyard.

Check out some of our other fireplace blogs for more home heating and fireplace tips and help.

Posted by & filed under Air Conditioning.

Keeping your air conditioner well maintained is not just important for ensuring you have a nice cool home when the weather heats up. It can also ensure your AC is running at maximum efficiency and can help to prolong the life of the unit, meaning a long time before you have to face the costly project of replacing your air conditioner. By following these tips you can easily perform general maintenance on your air conditioning, and keep it running smoothly for much longer.

Air Conditioner Unit

Turn it Off

Due to the fact that your AC has a whole lot of moving parts, it is crucial you turn off the power to the unit. Near the condenser or compressor on the unit, there should be an exterior shut off box or switch, make sure to turn that off. Inside your home, though, you will also need to turn off the power supply to the unit at the breaker box.

Clean up Debris

Using a screwdriver (or a wrench, depending on the unit you have) take off the fasteners holding the cage or fan grill secure. Then lift off the cage, or flip it open if it doesn’t come off entirely, and clean out the debris from inside the unit. This can be done either by hand or with a vacuum that has wet/dry capabilities.

Clean the Fins

Using a regular garden hose on a steam or mist setting, with the cage/fan grill still off, spray the fins from the inside out to clean all the dirt that might have accumulated on there over time. It is strongly recommended to never use a pressure washer on this step because the fins on the unit are quite thin and a pressure washer might cause damage to them. If there is dirt that you cannot remove you can purchase a fin cleaning spray from your local home improvement store to help remove the rest of it.

Straighten it Out

If any of the fins on the unit have been bent then the efficiency of the AC can be greatly reduced. To ensure your unit is running at maximum efficiency you should straighten out any bent fins using a butter knife. Make sure to be very gentle as there is tubing within the fins and you don’t want to damage that part of the fin.

Clean up the Area

Make sure, once you’ve cleaned inside the unit, that you also clean around it. This includes clearing away leaves and fallen branches, and cutting back any bushes or small trees that might be within two feet of the unit. This ensures proper air flow around your AC.

Change the Air Filter

The filter in your furnace should be changed, a minimum of twice a year – more if you have pets that may cause the filter to clog early. This should be done once before the winter and once before the AC is turned on for the first time. Make sure that when you change the filter you purchase a new filter with the exact same airflow rating to keep consistency in your home.

Turn the Power Back On

Since you turned it off in step one to make sure that it is safe to clear the air conditioner then it’s important to turn it back on to ensure it’s working. By following these steps your AC will remain in top shape and ready for use when those warm summer days hit, and you’ll prolong the life of your unit meaning more money saved since you won’t need to spend on a new one.

Not entirely confident on completing this task yourself? You should consider contacting a service professional, especially if your air conditioner is in need of any sort of maintenance.

Posted by & filed under Air Conditioning.

Now that the sizzling summer heat is almost upon us, our thoughts turn to flipping the switch on our air conditioners to keep us cool and dry. While it’s almost unheard of for most homeowners not to have some sort of air conditioning system, which type of cooling system can differ from home to home.

LX series split system air conditioner

 

Every expert out there will tell you that heating and cooling result in almost 50% of expenses in an average home. Therefore, running an efficient system in order to reduce your energy costs becomes a top priority for many people.

Finding the best method that will cool your home, keep it dry, and save on energy bills is an important factor in determining which route you should go that will work best for you.

When it comes to central air conditioning vs. window units, you may not know which choice is the best. There are a few factors that can affect your decision for staying comfortable regardless of the outside temperature.

Central Air Conditioning

A central air condition system consists mainly of a condenser that is typically situated on the property, often located in the back or side of the house. This type of system is usually installed in conjunction with your furnace or air handler. The compressor pumps a chemical called refrigerant through the system which lowers the temperature in the house to keep you cool and comfortable.

Window Air Conditioner

A window air conditioner is a single-room unit that consists of a portable box design wedged into place in a window. It is a completely self-contained unit that includes a condenser, evaporator, thermostat, directional slats, and fan to input cool air into the room to reduce the interior temperature.

Central Air Conditioning vs. Window Units

Energy: In comparison, a window AC unit uses anywhere from 500 to 1440 watts of electricity, while a typical central air unit in the average sized home uses about 3500 watts. This metric has less to do with the size of the area being cooled and more to do with the amount of energy needed to actually operate the systems. Because the air for a central air system flows through ducts and uses the furnace blower, it uses more running parts.

Another factor to consider is that window units can cool only one room at a time, while central air systems run throughout the house. This can lead to a significant reduction in energy use. However, many modern programmable central air systems are capable of dividing a house into comfort zones, producing different temperatures for each zone.

Cost of Installation: Another factor to consider is the cost of installation. For window units, the installation is obviously do-it-yourself. For a central air system, you will need to hire a professional HVAC company to install the system.

Convenience, Comfort, and Value: The biggest factor for many homeowners is the convenience and the level of comfort the system can provide. With programmable thermostats, it’s easy to set the temperature you need at different times of the day. Many people also find the consistent temperature of central air conditioning throughout rather than having some cool rooms and some hot rooms with window units.

The decision to go with central air conditioning vs. a window unit is really up to the individual homeowner because each home is different with different needs. For help making your decision contact the experienced staff at Hamilton Home Comfort to discuss your upcoming cooling project.

Posted by & filed under Air Conditioning, Furnace Maintenance.

Glorious spring is right around the corner! With warmer days ahead, homeowners get the long awaited satisfaction of turning off the furnace from running during the cold winter months. Although we all love our furnace and the warmth it provided during the frigid months of winter, it’s a great feeling to finally shut off our heating systems and turn on the AC until next season rolls around.

Electronic thermostat with blue LCD screen for controlling air conditioning and heating HVAC

 

So, what are the steps you need to know that involve turning off your heating system? For some homeowners, this is a routine ritual in which they have plenty of experience with over the years, but for newbies, there are several important procedures to follow to shut off your furnace’s operation.

Furnace Shut Off

  • The first thing you want to do is to turn off the pilot, particularly if you have an older system. By doing so, you’ll be shutting off the gas supply to the furnace. The pilot consumes gas 24/7 if left on, therefore, turning off the pilot light will help you conserve quite a bit of energy.
  • You’ll want to clean up any clutter that may have collected during the winter around your furnace. Since most furnaces are in the basement, this area can become a spot for storing boxes, luggage, or Christmas decorations, so clear it out for easier access to change filters.
  • Speaking of changing your filter, now is the perfect time to install a new, clean filter after the heating season. Your furnace and AC share the same air exchange, so if you want everything to run at tip-top performance prior to starting up your air-conditioning system, exchange the dirty filter for a fresh one.
  • There are two ways you can handle your air-ducts.  You can have a professional company come in and clean the air ducts in your home from top to bottom or you can inspect your air registers yourself and suck out the dust with a vacuum hose.
  • During the winter season, dirt may have accumulated around your home’s return and supply registers so this is a good time to give them a good cleaning.  This will prevent dirt from ending up on your air handler and/or cycling throughout your home.
  • Now that the heating season is over, determine how well your system performed this past year. Did your heating system operate as expected by keeping your home comfortable all season? Did you notice any problems or your heating costs were higher? If so, bring them up with your technician during your next scheduled turn-up.

AC Turn ON

  • The first thing you want to do is go outside, remove the cover and inspect your air conditioning unit. Remove any objects or overgrown vegetation within 18 inches of the unit and give the coils a spray down to remove any soot or dirt.
  • Back inside the house, make sure that you have changed the air filter in your furnace because your furnace and AC share the same air exchange. A dirty filter is where most problems begin so you should change it once a month during the summer season.
  • Make sure that the breaker and/or disconnected switch to the condenser is turned to the “on” position. Also, close your lower level vents so that the cooler air is concentrated in the middle and upper floors where needed most.
  • Once you have inspected the unit, cleaned it down, changed the filter, set your thermostat to cool, turn the fan to auto, flip the switch and turn on your AC.
  • Now that you have set the thermostat settings correctly, go back outside to make certain that your condenser has turned on and the blades are spinning. Once this has occurred and all looks well, go back in the house and feel an air register for cool air coming through.

Follow The Steps

Shutting down your furnace from its winter operation and turning on your AC system to enjoy the cool air during the summer months is simple if you follow these rules. In need of professional assistance? Hamilton Home Comfort provides inspections and annual system maintenance so that you can enjoy both seasons worry free.

Posted by & filed under Air Conditioning.

Ask any homeowner and they’ll tell you that the cooling and heating system is one of the most costly portions of their energy bills. It goes without saying that the average home in Ontario has seen a spike in utility bills, particularly in electricity costs, so having an AC system work efficiently and properly is paramount to managing energy costs.

 

Central Air Conditioning Unit

 

Spring is a great time to test your system because you don’t want to find out on the hottest day of the year that your air conditioner has stopped working.

The Inside of a Central AC

There are two major components inside a central AC system. One is the condensing unit outside your home. The other is the evaporator coil that sits inside the plenum of your furnace. The refrigerant in the A-coil of the furnace picks up the heat inside your home and pushes it outside to the condensing unit where the unit’s fan blows the outside air through the condensing coil to remove heat. When this occurs, the inside of the house cools down to the desired temperature.

Testing Your Unit

If you aren’t sure whether your air conditioner is operating at full efficiency, you can try this test to find out whether your air conditioner needs a tune-up. After your AC unit has been running for at least 15 minutes, the outdoor temperature is above 26 Celsius, set a thermometer on the supply register that’s closest to the inside cooling unit.

Keep the thermometer there for five minutes and note the temperature. You should also repeat this process on the return vent. The air coming out should be -10 to -6 cooler that the air going in. If the air conditioner is not cooling at these levels, you could be low on refrigerant or you could have a leak. If your unit is not cooling more than the above-noted degrees, you could have a blockage in the unit.

Other methods you can try if your AC is not cooling but runs:

  1. Turn off the power.
  2. Clean or change the filter.
  3. Look to see if ice has formed on the coils and, if it has, turn on the power and the fan to melt it.
  4. Clean the condensate drain.
  5. Finally, check and clean the outdoor compressor.

When to Call a Technician

It’s always nice to save a few bucks and try to solve a problem yourself before you have to call a service technician; however, sometimes it’s the only way to rectify a situation. If you don’t call a technician when you should, you could worsen the problem and it can be more costly. With that in mind, here are some guidelines when you should consider contacting a service professional.

  • If you haven’t had your air conditioner inspected in over a year, you should call a professional to do a thorough inspection, ensuring your system is operating at peak efficiency and catching any issues early on.
  • If you notice your air conditioner just doesn’t seem to be working right and you’ve done the basics (changing filters, cleaning the unit), you should call an AC technician now before the problem gets worse.
  • If your AC breaks down, call an AC technician immediately rather than trying to fix the problem yourself. Mistakes on your part could be costly and even dangerous.

Spring and summer are almost here, It’s a good idea to test your system now so there will be no unfortunate surprises on the hottest days of the year.

Posted by & filed under Heating.

Outdoor HeatersWith the feel of spring just beginning, you can enjoy your long weekends on the patio with an outdoor patio heater. A patio heater provides comfort and extends your living space in the cool weather of late fall and milder evenings of early spring.

The right choice will allow you to lengthen your seasons, but there are several things to consider when choosing a heater that suits your needs the best.

Power Source

Outdoor patio heaters come in a variety of different power sources, such as gas, propane, and electric, but which one is best for you as the main heat source can be confusing. Consider your lifestyle when choosing your heater and when shopping, compare the heat output of different models. Use these considerations as your guideline.

A natural gas patio heater is convenient and start-up is immediate, but you may find that you are restricted by where it can be located. For those who already have a gas line running to your barbeque, this is the ideal situation because this will reduce your cost of connecting to a patio heater, but you’ll still have to determine the location or the heater relative to the area of the barbeque. If you do decide on selecting a gas-powered patio heater, you’ll have the cost of running the gas line, in addition to the cost of the heater and finding it a home.

Propane operated patio heaters offer you the versatility of where the heater can be located, but just like propane barbeques, propane runs out. There is nothing worse than running your tank out during a large gathering, so you must always have an extra tank as your backup plan. As for cost, propane will run you a bit more money, but the flexibility of location is worth the added costs.

From the point of affordability and flexibility of location, electric heaters are often a more practical choice, but with hydro prices being what they are in Ontario, this selection may not be the ideal option for you if your outdoor patio heater is going to run a considerable amount of time. On the other hand, because electric patio heaters have no open flame, they could be considered a safer alternative for families with children.

Dual Heat & Radiant Heat

You can choose among outdoor patio heaters that provide dual heat settings. These setting allow you to control the heat output depending on your need. Also, there are some outdoor patio heaters that provide radiant heat. These types of heaters provide you with more efficiency that helps to control your energy costs.

Remember that hot air rises; therefore some heated air will be lost to the atmosphere. You can help conserve some of that heat by placing your patio heater at a safe distance beneath an umbrella or awning. Always avoid exposing a propane unit to the wind because blustery conditions will make it difficult to light.

Output

There are several types of outdoor patio heaters that offer differing amounts of heat output, so review them carefully to determine which best suits your needs or ask a professional.

Safety

You should consider the safety requirements of operating an outdoor patio heater, such as the presence of children and/or pets in the house. Your patio heater should be anchored because a toppling heater can result in burns and property damage. And, remember to place the unit in an area where the electrical cord does not become a tripping hazard.

Enjoyment

Homeowners spend a lot of money and energy in making their outdoor spaces beautiful, expansive and extendable for the seasons. A patio heater will ensure you get the most from this space and turn chilly nights into cozy, star filled evenings enjoyed by friends and family.