Posted by & filed under Fireplaces.

Fireplaces make a home feel cozy, welcoming and warm. If you custom built your home, chances are you were able to put a fireplace (or two) exactly where you wanted them and you selected whether you wanted them to be gas or wood-burning. If your home is older, though, you might not have a fireplace. Not to worry – fireplaces can be retrofitted to almost any home in Hamilton, Burlington, St. Catharines and surrounding area so that your family’s living space looks like it belongs in a magazine. Before you make the big purchase, here’s what you need to know about fireplaces.

Budget

Like all home renovation projects, you need to determine what kind of budget you’re working with. When it comes to buying a fireplace, you aren’t just purchasing the unit itself. You will need to consider your cost of installation unless you can do it yourself. 

Type of Fireplace

There are a number of different energy sources you can use to heat your fireplace. You can choose electric, gas, wood-burning or bioethanol. The type of fireplace you can have may be limited by certain requirements or the set up of your home. If you have a professional come out to look at where you want the fireplace to be, they can let you know what your options are and what you’d need to do for everything to work.

Design

When it comes to the overall appearance of your fireplace, there are many options out there. You may even find a way to have a custom made mantle, should you want one. You will have to know what you want the finished look to be so that you can choose the appropriate products for installation. You can select brick surrounds, tile ones, or wood mantles – basically, if you can imagine it then you can likely find this option for your fireplace.

A Flue System

Once you have decided which type of energy source you’re going to be using for your fireplace, you will need to make sure your home has the appropriate flue system so that there isn’t any harmful smoke or gas going into your living space. For example, if you select to have a wood-burning fireplace then you will need to make sure you have the appropriate chimney.

Ventilation

No matter what kind of fireplace you have, you need to make sure your home has the appropriate ventilation in place.  A fireplace is meant to create a warm space for you to enjoy, but the smoke created as part of that can cause respiratory issues for you and your family. This is especially important if you have a gas fireplace because you don’t want gas leaking back into your living space.

Adding a fireplace to your home can go a long way to making your home feel more inviting and keeping it warm during those cold winter months. Each home, if it doesn’t already have a fireplace, may not be suitable for just any kind of energy source so it’s important to do your research and make sure the fireplace you want is compatible with your home.

If you live in Hamilton, Stoney Creek, Grimsby, Burlington, Ancaster, Dundas, Milton, Oakville or St. Catharines, and you are considering adding a fireplace to your home, we would love to help. Contact Hamilton Home Comfort today for a consultation. 

Posted by & filed under Fireplaces.

When the snow comes, there is almost nothing better than curling up with a blanket and a good book beside your fireplace. This is especially true in cities that tend to get a lot of snow like Hamilton, Stoney Creek, Grimsby, Burlington, Ancaster, Dundas, Milton and St. Catharines.

With regular use, like almost anything, your fireplace will need to be inspected and maintained to make sure it’s safe and efficient to use. The best time to get your fireplace inspected is right before the winter, as the winter is the time it will get the most use. Here’s why it is so important to get your fireplace inspected annually.

The Logs

Even if your fireplace isn’t actually wood burning, chances are you have some form of ceramic, fake, logs. Over time these logs will wear down due to the heat within the fireplace, and they have even start to get stuck to the fireplace insert. It’s important to check before the start of each winter season that the logs are in good shape and aren’t too old. If they need to be replaced, you can make arrangements to get that done before the really cold weather starts.

Clean Residue

Over the winter, with regular use, your fireplace will have a build-up of residue on the inside and outside of the insert. You can clean this residue off, on your own, after every time you use your fireplace or you can hire a professional service company like Hamilton Home Comfort to come in and do a yearly clean.

Make Sure it’s Safe

When a technician comes out to your home to inspect your fireplace, they will do a thorough check of the whole unit to make sure it’s completely safe. When there’s a gas line coming into the unit, they will need to check and make sure there aren’t any leaks in the line and the connection is tight. They will also look for any chips or cracks: even though the unit is built to withstand really high temperatures, there can still be some compromises to the structure with repeated heating and cooling.

Catch Small Issues

With smaller issues on the fireplace unit, you can likely replace individual parts as needed. If you wait and don’t perform regular maintenance then the issue could become so much bigger.  Remember that replacing small parts right away is usually much easier and less costly than waiting and having to replace the whole unit! What’s more, is that smaller issues could do damage to the mantle or other parts of the house surrounding the fireplace if they aren’t fixed, and that could mean very expensive repair bills.

If your gas fireplace hasn’t had an inspection lately, contact Hamilton Home Comfort. We happily serve Hamilton, Stoney Creek, Grimsby, Burlington, Ancaster, Dundas, Milton and St. Catharines. Our technicians have years of experience behind them, and we are flexible to work with your schedule and make sure your fireplace maintenance is completed when you need it. Give us a call today to schedule your annual fireplace maintenance appointment with Hamilton Home Comfort!

Posted by & filed under Air Conditioning.

During the hot summer months, you want your air conditioner running at peak efficiency so that you are comfortable in your home.

 

 

Unfortunately, many homeowners may discover all too late that this essential equipment is not performing optimally. If you’re sweating while sitting on your couch and doing next to nothing, that’s a visible sign. Other signs are less apparent, but they can be important indicators that you need an air conditioning repair or maintenance.

Some of the signs to look for when figuring out what might be wrong with your AC operation are airflow, strange noises, odours and leaks. By being proactive and aware, you’ll be able to maximize air conditioner efficiency and know when to schedule an inspection by an HVAC technician.

Here are a few reasons why your AC may not be working correctly.

Weak Air Flow from the Vent

Central air conditioning works by taking warm air, transferring it outside your home, and then blowing cooled air throughout a space.

If it’s blowing warm air, it could be a problem with the AC compressor or a sign that your air conditioner is low on refrigerant. If the air is cooler, but the airflow is weak, it could be caused by a dirty air filter in the return vent or the air handler. It could also be a frozen evaporator coil, an air duct problem or an issue with your blower fan.

The AC is Making Strange Noises

Air conditioners are complex machines with a lot of moving parts, so they all make some noise. However, if you begin hearing new, strange noises from your AC, it could be a warning sign that it’s not working correctly.

A squealing sound could mean that a component in your AC unit, perhaps a blower fan or compressor fan, needs to be lubricated. A whistling sound might indicate a refrigerant leak. A grinding noise can be a sign of a potentially serious AC compressor problem. Anything out of the ordinary should be serviced immediately.

Moisture or Leakage

If you see leaks around your air conditioning system, you’ve got a problem to address.

If water is pooling or dripping near your AC unit, it may not be that air conditioner not working, but that the drain tube for condensation is blocked. An AC tech can unclog the tube and treat it with a chemical to prevent rust or mould growth that can block the tube and cause flooding.

In other cases, the moisture could be from a leak that is a serious problem. If you suspect that the leak is refrigerant, you’ll want to schedule air conditioner repair immediately.

Strange Odors When the AC is Running

Any strange smell is not welcomed in your home. If it’s coming from your AC it’s time for action. Some potential causes for the smell:

  • A pungent smell could be a sign that wire insulation in your HVAC system is damaged.
  • A smell of exhaust, such as with a gas engine, can indicate a fluid leak.
  • A smell of dirty feet often means that mildew or fungus is growing near your air conditioning equipment.
  • If there’s any strange smell when your HVAC system is running, it’s time for professional air conditioning service.

Sudden High Electricity Bills

Heating and cooling a home can account for nearly 50 percent of a home’s electricity use. The scorching heat of summer puts demands on your central air conditioning. That means electricity bills will increase during times of peak usage. However, if a sudden unexpected spike occurs, it might be time for a service call to investigate.

CONCLUSION

Central air conditioning is a complex system that requires maintenance. So, as you try to stay cool during the hottest months of the year, make sure your AC is working properly by having it inspected for any out of the ordinary problems.

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

Summer is a great time to get together with friends and family and enjoy BBQ meals. And while cooking and eating outside can reduce the number of dishes you’ll have to wash, there is still some cleaning involved. Yep, those barbeques, grills, and smokers all need to be cleaned regularly.

 

 

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because the food was cooked at a high temperature, you don’t need to clean the grill afterward. Yes, the high heat does kill off any bacteria, but old fats and oils that are left on the cooking surface can still make you ill.

So here are our tips for cleaning your barbeques, grills, and smokers.

The Outside of the BBQ

Depending on how often you use it will determine how regularly the outside needs to be cleaned. If you leave your barbeque outside all summer, you should probably clean the outside at least once every couple of weeks. Do this by wiping it down with a cloth and some hot soapy water.

For the Grill

The grill should be cleaned before and after each use. Turn on the heat for a few minutes in order to burn off any food debris and then scrub the grates with a spatula. You can do the same thing when you are finished cooking. Every once in a while, it is also a good idea to clean the grates with hot soapy water and leave them to air dry.

For Hot Plates

It can be easy to get baked-on food stuck to the hot plates of your barbeque. Using a balled-up newspaper is a good option for scrubbing the hot plates as it will not damage them. Clean hot plates while they are hot before and after each use.

For the Drip Tray

The most challenging feature on your barbeque to clean is the drip tray, but it is important to clean it at least after every four to five uses – otherwise grease can build up and pose a fire hazard. To make the job easier, cover the drip tray with aluminum foil and fill the pan with sand to absorb the grease. When it comes time to clean the tray, remove the foil and sand and throw them away. Clean the tray with hot and soapy water and leave to air dry before replacing the foil and the sand.

Bonus Tip: Reconsider that wire grill brush!

Wire grill brushes have received a lot of press recently because the wires can sometimes break off and get stuck to the food. If ingested, these wires can puncture the inside of the digestive tract and result in a trip to the emergency room for the unfortunate victim.

As a result, you may want to use alternative cleaning utensils such as wood or stone scrubbers. If you still wish to use a wire brush, experts recommend that you replace it every season as wires are more likely to break off of older brushes.

For more information on how to care for your barbeque, grill, or smoker contact Hamilton Home Comfort today.

Posted by & filed under Air Conditioning.

Now that the sizzling summer heat is almost upon us, our thoughts turn to keeping our homes cool. For many of us, that means flipping a switch on our air conditioners and letting the equipment do the work to reduce interior humidity and heat.

While it’s almost unheard of that most homeowners don’t have some sort of air conditioning system, there are lots of tricks to help your air conditioner not overwork to put a strain on the unit.

Having air conditioning is a simple solution to cool your house but finding the best method that will cool your home, keep it dry and save on energy bills is an important factor in determining how to operate your system.

 

 

Use AC only when required

If you don’t need the air conditioning on, don’t leave it on. If you’re going downstairs, for example, you should turn off the AC upstairs. Turn off your AC whenever you leave the house too.

Install A Smart Thermostat

A smart thermostat is a perfect way to make sure that you’re not overusing your air conditioning system. A self-programming smart thermostat can adjust itself based on the temperature in the room. In addition, some newer thermostats can even detect motion in a room and adjust themselves accordingly.

Keep Your Blinds Closed

This is the simplest advice offered for reducing incoming heat into your home. As noted by the Family Handyman, up to 30 percent of unwanted summertime heat comes from your windows.

By utilizing shades and curtains, you can keep the house cooler while saving up to 7 percent on bills. Closing blinds and curtains prevent your home from becoming overheated, especially in the case with south and west facing windows.

Blackout Curtains

One step up from closing your curtains and drapes is to invest in blackout curtains. These curtains block sunlight out completely, naturally insulating the rooms in which they are installed.

It is recommended to invest in neutral coloured tones with white backings to repel the sun and reduce heat inside by up to 33 percent.

Ceiling Fans

If you have ceiling fans, now is the time to make the seasonal adjustment to your fans for the oncoming summer months. Many people don’t realize it, but ceiling fans generally have a two rotation system, clockwise and counter-clockwise.

Setting your ceiling fan/s to run counter-clockwise at a higher speed will increase the airflow and create a chill breeze effect that helps to keep your home cooler and more comfortable.

Close Off Doors

By closing off doors to unused rooms, this tip will help to keep the house cooler because it prevents cool air from permeating these areas during the hottest part of the day. In the nighttime, you’ll want to take advantage of the cooler night hours, so letting air flow naturally through the house will help cool it down and set you up for the upcoming morning heat.

Keep Cool This Summer

There are a few more tricks you can use to keep your house cool this summer, like swapping your sheets and turning on bathroom fans, but the above tips are the main highlights. By following some of these suggestions, your system will run more efficiently and not work so hard. You’ll enjoy a more comfortable home with less hot, sticky humidity being locked indoors.

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

Keeping your home at a comfortable temperature is important not only for the enjoyment of your home but also for the health of you and your family. And a comfortable home starts with a properly installed and well-maintained HVAC system. In this article, we will review some of the qualities that you should look for in an HVAC contractor so you can be confident that your home’s HVAC system will be keeping you comfortable all year round.

 

HVAC contractor at work

Has a Good Reputation

In an age of easily accessible information, it shouldn’t be too hard to find out whether the HVAC contractor that you are considering working with has a good reputation. Check out their rating with the BBB and read their online reviews. You can also get referrals from friends and family members.

Is Properly Certified

Ensuring that your HVAC system is properly installed and running the way it should doesn’t just ensure your home stays at a comfortable temperature, it also helps ensure that your home is safe. HVAC professionals must meet strict training criteria in order to become certified and licensed. If a contractor is not certified, they shouldn’t be working on your home’s HVAC system.

Provides Written Estimates and Offers Regular Maintenance Contracts

Before you have any work done on your home’s heating or cooling systems, a reputable contractor should be willing to provide you with a written estimate. This helps to give you peace of mind that there won’t be any surprises in the bill when the work is done.

Since regular maintenance on your home’s HVAC system is recommended to help prevent major repair problems down the road, it is also recommended that you choose an HVAC contractor who offers regular maintenance contracts.

Sells Quality Products

Whether you are looking to purchase a furnace, air conditioner, fireplace etc., it makes sense to buy it from the same company that is going to install it. This saves you the hassle of dealing with multiple companies and will likely save you money as well.

This means that when choosing an HVAC contractor, you should choose one that sells quality products. Look for a contractor that sells energy-efficient products from reputable brands such as Napoleon, Lennox and Goodman.

Works Locally in an Office or Shop

Finally, when choosing an HVAC contractor to work with, we recommend finding someone who is local. When your contractor is local, it means that they will be more reliable in keeping their appointment times because they are nearby.

It also means that they will be able to send a technician to your home more quickly should you ever require emergency service.

Choosing an HVAC contractor is an important decision, so it’s important to take the time and compare what different companies have to offer and ask questions about their experience and certifications. If you are currently looking for an HVAC contractor, we hope you’ll consider Hamilton Home Comfort. For more information, call us today.

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, they can differ greatly in terms of size and efficiency.

AC testing

 

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

You should make informed decisions about your home’s (HVAC) system and these practical tips can have a big effect on your comfort and utility bills.

Changing Over

If your old system is breaking down more often than it should and you have to make a decision whether to repair or replace, you will find that newer units are far more energy efficient over time. The cost of the new unit will likely be mitigated by lower monthly energy bills.

You should always consider installing ENERGY STAR qualified heating and cooling equipment because, depending where you live, replacing your old heating and cooling equipment with ENERGY STAR qualified equipment can cut your annual energy bill by more than $200.

Which Unit is Best to Save Money?

When looking for the best unit that will cool your home, keep it dry and save on energy bills here are a few key things to consider:

Efficiency

The SEER Rating (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) is an efficiency rating used for air conditioning units. Basically, the higher the SEER rating, the more efficient it is. But the higher the SEER rating, the higher the cost as well, so you’ll want to do some math to see how long it will take to recoup your investment. Your HVAC professional can help with that.

Size

Size is the key factor in choosing the right AC unit for your home.

Why Size Matters

  • A correctly sized air conditioner should run a proper full cycle to ensure that your home stays cooler longer.
  • An oversized AC is inefficient because the system will overcool too quickly and shut off too soon. It will run for too short a time and often cost too much for its operation.
  • An undersized system will not effectively cool your entire home. The unit will run continuously, waste energy and wind up costing you more money.

There are certain factors that help you determine what you need. They are:

  • Total volume of your home’s living space
  • Area of sun-exposed exterior walls
  • Number, age, condition and orientation of windows
  • Amount of sunshine on your home, (trees or open space)
  • Age of your home and insulation throughout
  • Your existing ventilation system and ductwork

Be Informed

Because air conditioning is one of the most expensive conveniences you can have in your home, which unit you ultimately install should be determined by being informed and talking to experts. For help making your decision, contact us today to discuss your upcoming cooling project.

Posted by & filed under Furnace Maintenance.

You are probably aware that as your furnace ages, it is more likely to break down and cost you more money as it loses its energy efficiency. But did you know that an older furnace can also pose potential health problems for you and your family? Here are a few ways in which your old furnace may be harmful to your health.

woman with cold on the couch

Breathing problems

Older furnaces can particularly pose problems for those with allergies, asthma, or other respiratory issues. When your furnace is outdated, it is more likely to recycle dust, pathogens and debris through your home’s ventilation system.

As your home’s air quality goes down, it becomes more likely that you and your family will be affected and experience breathing issues. If you have been noticing an increase in these sorts of issues within your home, it is recommended that you get a furnace inspection.

Financial stress

If high energy bills and costly furnace repairs are causing you financial stress, this can also have an impact on your health. Stress is a factor in a number of potentially serious health issues including insomnia and high blood pressure to name a few. If the cost of repairs is starting to stress you out, it may be time to invest in a new furnace.

Carbon monoxide

One of the most dangerous health concerns when it comes to older furnaces is the threat that carbon monoxide could be leaking into your home. Carbon monoxide is an invisible and odourless gas which can make you and your family very sick and can even be fatal. Having a carbon monoxide detector can help alert you to the presence of this dangerous gas.

You should also check your furnace’s pilot light from time to time. When the light is blue, it is a signal that things are working as they should. If the light turns yellow, it is a signal that carbon monoxide is leaking and that you should call a technician right away to deal with the problem.

Fire hazard

When you turn your furnace on for the first time of the season, you may smell oil or gas. This, however, is the only time you should smell this. If you continue smelling odours from your furnace after a couple of uses, it is a sign that something isn’t working properly.

If oil or gas are leaking somewhere, this can pose a fire hazard, and it is essential to contact an HVAC technician right away to address the issue.

With proper care and maintenance, your furnace can last for many years without causing you any problems. To ensure that your furnace is safe; however, for you and your family, it is essential to keep up with regular maintenance. If it has been a while since your last furnace inspection, contact Hamilton Home Comfort today to make an appointment with one of our technicians.

And when it is finally time to replace your older furnace with a new, energy-efficient one? Well, we can help you with that too!

Posted by & filed under Energy Saving.

With the winter upon us, homeowners should consider the numerous tasks that need to be done to get their home ready for plunging temperatures. Getting the interior of your house prepared for the frigid winds, snow, sleet and ice is critical for keeping your home in tip-top shape so that you stay safe, warm and toasty inside.

 

fire behind young couple

 

You’re better off to prevent potential problems ahead of time because once the harshness of winter arrives any issues that crop up in your home is nothing but a costly headache to fix. By being proactive, you’ll lower your energy bills, increase its efficiency and lifespan of your home’s components while staying comfortable all winter long.

Here are some tips to reduce energy consumption and maintain comfortable temperatures.

Windows

Clean your windows to allow more sunlight to enter the house and warm it during the chilling days of winter. When sunlight is reduced from entering your home, you will have to compensate by using more heat, which will increase your utility bills.

Sealing windows is equally essential to keep your house warm and reduce energy costs. Using caulking to seal up the cracks is a simple way to prevent drafts from leaking into your home. Alternatively, covering your windows in a thin plastic film helps to waterproof your home due to severe winter weather conditions.

Gutters

Your gutters are designed to help move water, melting snow and debris away from your roof and home, but when they overflow with leaves, they get clogged, create water damage, ice damage to the roof, freeze and crack the pipes. This can ruin the inside of your home and cause mold, mildew and decay on the ceilings or walls and it can weaken your home’s foundation. 

Chimney

Cleaning your chimney each year before winter arrives is something every responsible homeowner should get done. A clean fireplace improves air quality and keeps your home running better because the air motion in your home will flow better and be cleaner.

Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fans provide better ventilation and airflow and can be more energy efficient in the winter months. Ceiling fans can be used strategically to achieve better airflow, thus maintaining a more comfortable temperature throughout.

Adjust Thermostat

You can save about 10 percent per year on your heating bills by turning your thermostat down 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours. Consider investing in flannel sheets and a warm comforter for your bed. You’ll save energy and still be toasty warm.

Heat Only the Rooms You Use

Close and seal off the vents in unused rooms to be more energy efficient and direct the flow of air to the rooms you use most. This procedure helps to maintain a better temperature in the remainder of the house.

Change Your Furnace Filter

Keeping your furnace clean, unblocked and vents properly maintained will reduce energy consumption and help you save. With the furnace running properly, your interior temperature will maintain a more comfortable level throughout.

Winter Misery

With winter’s arrival in full blast, you want to make sure your home is ready for the onslaught. By following a few simple tips, you can reduce your energy consumption, be more energy efficient and maintain a comfortable temperature inside your home for your family.

Posted by & filed under Furnace Maintenance.

When considering replacing your old furnace, a gas furnace is an excellent alternative to their electronic counterparts due to their energy-efficiency. Heating with gas has been long known for it being the fuel of choice since it is the most economical.

 

 

All new natural gas furnaces available today are high-efficiency, with an Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) of 90 percent or higher. However, homeowners need to consider a few things first when trying to determine the type and size of unit that would suit your home and needs.

One of the first things to consider is the size and square footage of your home as well as the layout and number of floors. This will influence the size and BTU of the furnace you need to keep your home warm and comfortable. You will also want to consider an Energy Star model because furnaces with Energy Star certification will meet certain efficiency standards. Most may qualify for government rebates.

Types of Gas Furnaces

There are primarily three types of gas furnace systems – Single-stage furnace, Two-stage furnace, and Modulating furnace.

Single-Stage

  • This type is considered to be the standard in the market, and it comes with heating systems featuring gas valves that can either be in the open (letting the gas flow at a high rate) or closed position. Similar to a vehicle accelerator pedal having only two settings – stop or go full blast, this is not the most energy efficient option.  Many single-stage furnaces have 80% annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE), which is significantly better than their predecessors, but not the best available option out there in terms of energy savings.

Two-Stage

  • Furnaces with two-stage heating systems offer greater flexibility as one can adjust the flow of gas according to heat requirement.  The fuel control valve has two open positions instead of one, hence the name; partially open position and a fully open position, chosen based on the reading measured by the thermostat. You can expect a two-stage furnace to provide AFUE close to 90%.

Modulating

  • Gas furnaces with modulating valves adjust the heating output from 35% to 100% of furnace capacity. They continuously regulate the amount of burned fuel with the most enhanced accuracy. With a modulating furnace, the fuel output is controlled by as much as 1% increase or decrease depending on your home’s heating needs. The best in quality modulating gas furnaces also offer maximum energy efficiency, in addition to better air distribution and better air flow.

Features

There are also a few features that might influence your decision making:

Variable Speed Blower Motors

  • A blower in the furnace controls air circulation. A variable speed blower motor has multiple fan blower speeds and automatically adjusts to meet heating and cooling demands. The benefits of a variable speed blower motor is that it uses approximately 75% or 60% less electricity, has a longer lifespan than conventional blower motors, and is quieter than standard blowers.

Energy-Saving Electronic Ignition

  • Today’s gas furnaces are much more energy efficient. Electronic ignitions have replaced the pilot light found on older furnaces. The burner is ignited only when the thermostat calls for heat.

Zoned Heating

  • zoned heating and cooling system breaks your home into different areas or “zones,” each controlled separately by a thermostat. Zoning your home allows for several benefits including elimination of hot and cold spots and individual control of different rooms’ temperatures.

Best Choice

While the cost of living has gone up for the past 10-years, natural gas rates have remained low. Natural gas is clean, safe, and reliable. Best of all, abundant supply makes it the most affordable fuel for your energy needs and the best value for your energy dollar.