minoxidil and brand propecia together Posted by & filed under Air Conditioning.

When the summer heat strikes you need a way to cool off your home, without increasing your energy costs too much. Air conditioning can turn the hot summer months into an enjoyable experience. However, as a homeowner you’re going to have to make the decision on the best way to cool your home.

Below you’ll find the main differences between Central AC and a Portable Air Conditioning unit, so you can make an informed decision on the best course of action to take.

Central Air Conditioner

Central air conditionerMany homes today that are located in hotter climates tend to have a central air system built right into the existing ductwork. However, if your home doesn’t have a system already integrated then you’re going to have a decision to make.

A central air conditioning system has the benefit of having a thermostat, which you can set to different times of the day to save you money, and ensure your home is cool when you need it. Central air systems can also help to remove humidity from your home.

If you’re a homeowner who’s planning on living in a home for several years, then a central air system may be worth the investment. The upfront costs are more expensive, but they can pay themselves off over time, as they’re much more efficient and quieter overall.

Portable Air Conditioner

cool breeze from portable air conditionerIf you live in a smaller home or apartment then a simple portable AC may be able to suit your needs perfectly. If you are thinking about a portable air conditioner then you need to consider proper ventilation, as they require a condensation and evaporation cycle.

This style of unit is much easier to install and is generally cheaper, unless you’re buying a unit for every room in your home. This style of air conditioner has less control and more temperature variability. Keep in mind that if you buy too small of a unit for your space, then you’ll end up running up your electricity bills without too much cooling taking place.

When choosing a portable air conditioner make sure you choose a unit that has varying cooling settings.

Which One Is Right For Your Needs?

When considering the best air cooling system for your needs you need to take the size of the area you’d like to cool, and your overall budget into account.

Portable and room AC tend to be much less expensive, but can only cool up to a certain square footage. So, if you have a very large home you’re looking to cool, then you may need to invest into a central air system.

It can always be useful to talk with a home air cooling professional, as they’ll be able to determine the best system for your needs. You also always have the option of testing a portable air conditioning unit to see how it performs in your home, and if it doesn’t satisfy your needs you can upgrade to a central air conditioning system.

This route is more expensive, but it will ensure you end up with the perfect air cooling solution. If you have any questions regarding the perfect air cooling setup then contact Hamilton Home Comfort for all of your home cooling needs.

Posted by & filed under Air Conditioning.

An air conditioning unit attached to a homeAs spring sets in, the days become a bit brighter and milder, and the little shoots start popping up, we begin to turn our heads towards the summer. And while the hot or warm weather is generally welcomed, there comes a stage when it gets too hot. It might be that you have trouble sleeping in the heat, find it difficult to work from home during the daytime heat or just that you prefer to keep your house cool while it is sizzling outside.

There are many reasons why people decide that they want air conditioning for their home, and there are also a number of different air conditioning options to choose from.

So what do you need to know when you are choosing the air conditioner for your home?

There are two types of air conditioner models – the split unit and the single unit. The split unit is fitted into your wall and becomes a permanent fixture in the room where it is installed. The single unit is portable and can ventilate the air through windows and doors.

Split Unit Model

The split unit model is fitted into your room, with ventilation passing out usually through a vent made especially in the wall.

Pros:

  • No need to leave windows open, so more secure
  • Generally quieter and more efficient than the single unit model
  • Perfect if you have room which always gets hot
  • Usually more powerful than the single unit model

Cons:

  • They are permanently mounted on your wall so you can’t move it, and you might need to have it especially installed
  • They are generally more expensive than the single unit model

Single Unit Model

The single unit model is a portable style. The hot air leaves through a ventilation tube which can be put out of the window or door.

Pros:

  • The unit can be moved from room to room as you need it
  • It is easy to install
  • It is relatively cheap

Cons:

  • By leaving the window open, you could potentially be causing a security risk
  • Some units can be heavy so make sure that you choose one which you can easily pick up and move around
  • As the ventilation system isn’t air tight, some hot air can be pumped back inside the room

Other Features

There are some other features which your air conditioning unit may have. Some include timers so that you can set it to turn on or off at specific times, night modes where you can save on energy and it runs on a quieter level, and some units have remote controls.

When you are choosing an air conditioner for your home, you need to look at your individual situation. Do you want to be able to move your unit around? Is security a concern? How effective do you need it to be? By answering these questions, you will then be able to figure out what model is best for you and your home.

For more information about air conditioning repairs, cleanings, or all around general AC questions, get in touch with Hamilton Home Comfort today!

Posted by & filed under Air Conditioning.

If you’re like the majority of Ontario residents, you don’t think a lot about your air conditioner in March. When it’s not working in the middle of July, you couldn’t be more interested in air conditioning. Take the steps necessary now to ensure your air conditioner will be able to step up to the plate.

There are many things you can do for your air conditioner all year long to ensure it remains in good working condition. With the warmer weather upon us now, and with spring just around the corner, now is the time to venture outside and do a little clean up. Your air conditioner should be at the top of your to-do list.

Having your air conditioner inspected and tuned up each year before use is a must. There are, however, many things we can do on our own to care for the big square beast that makes our summer months bearable.

a man fixing his AC unit

 

Maintain your air conditioner all year long

  • Minimize dirt and debris by directing dryer vents away from the unit. Be careful when cutting grass around your air conditioner.
  • Trim any foliage back on a regular basis to keep plants from growing too close to the unit. This will promote good air flow.
  • Covering your air conditioning unit during the winter will protect it from the harsh temperatures and block any debris from entering.

Prevention is a big part of the picture when it comes to keeping your air conditioning in good working order. Each spring there are things we can do to prepare the air conditioner for its most important job.

  • Change the filter. A dirty filter will restrict air flow and ultimately make your unit work harder than it has to. If you’re not comfortable changing the filter yourself, have the professionals do it during your annual air conditioner checkup.
  • It is natural for the coils and other parts of the air conditioner to collect some dust and dirt over the year. Even with a good filter that is changed regularly, the coils will need to be cleaned from time to time.

Hire Someone Who Knows What They’re Doing

One more thing that we all need to do, to ensure the health of our air conditioner this spring is to hire a professional to inspect, clean and make any necessary repairs. There are so many components to an air conditioning unit that will need a professional touch. When the professionals do make that house call, there are a number of things they should be looking for and a number of things they should pay attention to.

  • Check for and repair any breaks in the seals of your central system.
  • Measure airflow and refrigerant levels
  • Check oil levels
  • Measure temperature output
  • Check belts and replace as necessary
  • Check the condition of the thermostat

With the warmer temperatures we’ve experienced throughout the winter of 2015/16, we are reminded of the scorching temperatures of last summer. Don’t be caught using your neighbours’ pools while they’re at work. Be there for your air conditioner now, so it will be there for you when you need it the most. Contact the professionals at Hamilton Home Comfort for a check up or fixing up of your home’s AC unit.

Posted by & filed under Fireplaces.

In the 1980’s, direct vent technology was created, making the installation of a gas fireplace virtually anywhere in the home, possible. Since this time the direct vent fireplace has had ups and downs. Direct vent fireplaces, despite its past, continues to increase in popularity because of its versatility and heat efficiency. Traditional gas fireplaces, however, remain the favourite.

LHD50 Direct Vent Gas Fireplace

Advantages of Direct Vent Fireplaces

Direct vent fireplaces are fueled by either natural gas or propane. They do not require a chimney and for this reason, they are the sweetheart of the fireplace industry. Heating a basement or even a bathroom is now possible with the installation of a direct vent fireplace. These fireplaces vent directly through a wall or roof.

The direct vent fireplace draws air from outside, preventing the already warm air inside from being reheated. Heat loss is kept to a minimum, and this makes the direct vent fireplace an efficient choice.

Not having to worry about a chimney allows the homeowner who doesn’t have the specifications for a traditional fireplace, to enjoy the heat, comfort and ambiance a fireplace creates.

Direct vent fireplaces are also versatile with the fuel source needed. A direct vent fireplace can be fueled by either gas or propane. They are also versatile when it comes to the budget. Direct vent fireplaces range in price and can often cost less than a traditional fireplace. These fireplaces are very efficient, making them easy on the pocketbook and the environment. Direct vent fireplaces also provide less risk of carbon monoxide entering the home.

Insta-Flame and Northern Flame Recalls

In 2012, a large recall on Insta-Flame and Northern Flame direct vent fireplaces was made by Health Canada. Because of a manufacturing flaw, some models were slow to ignite and could subsequently cause an explosion that would, in turn, shatter the glass and cause possible injury. The manufacturer of these fireplaces were already been out of business when the recall occurred, and consumers were left to deal the problem themselves. It’s important to note that although this recall put direct vent fireplaces on the map in a negative way, the flaw that posed the danger was not directly related to the technology that direct vent fireplaces offers. The recall was specific to fireplace models Insta-flame or Northern Flame (Models FSDV22, FSDV30 and FSDV32, Series).

Because direct-vent fireplaces burn hotter, therefore disposing of carbon monoxide, their flames are often blue, not the traditional and more realistic yellow and orange. This can be a sticking point for consumers who are looking to get as close to the real thing as possible. Technology in this area is ever changing, and direct vent fireplaces are burning more like it’s traditional gas counterpart.

On a cold winter night, when the furnace goes out, you will be happy for any gas fireplace. During a power outage in the dead of winter, is not the time to make decisions about which fireplace is best for you. Do your research, ask the professionals and you’ll soon be enjoying the kind of warm comfort that only a fireplace can bring.

If you require a direct vent fireplace, or gas fireplace in the Hamilton, Binbrook, Burlington, or Grimsby area, contact Hamilton Home Comfort today. If you have a recalled fireplace like Insta-Flame or Northern Flame, we highly recommend not using it, and installing a safe gas fireplace. Hamilton Home Comfort can recommend dozens of direct-vent gas fireplace models to suit your house and budget.

 

Contact Hamilton Home Comfort






Posted by & filed under Heating.

In the winter, many homeowners ask the same question; should I heat my basement? And if so, how? Whether your basement is finished, partially finished, or unfinished it’s important to know how heating your basement can affect the overall comfort of your whole home.

There are several factors to consider when determining whether to heat your basement or not.

Basement Fireplace

 

Comfort

The rising heat of the main floor can draw cold air from the basement. This, in turn, can draw cold air across the main floor and can result in cold feet and possible comfort problems. Often the coldest air in your home is in your basement and eventually it will end up being drawn up to the higher levels.

Health

During cold weather basements can become an incubator for possible mold growth, especially when the air is unmoving and stagnant. Warm moist air will condense on the cold foundation walls that can reach dew point temperatures. This will result in moisture and eventually mold growth. Basements that do not have adequate air circulation often smell musty; this is a sure sign of mold growth.

Energy Efficiency

Cold basement air can often result in heat loss in the potable water lines and ductwork of the basement. If the air in the basement is colder than air found in the ducts, some of the heat is going to migrate into the basement. If the heating ducts aren’t sealed on the cold air return side, you will actually draw the cold air out of the basement. This will cause a depressurization which will draw more outdoor air into the basement as well as through rim/band joist leaks.

So what can you do to heat your basement? The first thing you need to look at is improving the insulation in your basement. Hire a contractor to weatherize your basement.

  • Use a foam sealant in the rim/band joists, any wood to concrete joints, and top plates prior to installing the insulation
  • Don’t use a fibrous insulation as this can lead to mold growth because moisture can pass through it to the cold foundation walls.
  • If your foundation walls are below grade, insulate to a minimum of at least R-10.

Once you have addressed the insulation needs of your basement, next you can consider the most efficient ways to heat your basement. Even if you use the existing HVAC system, your basement can often still be quite cold, therefore; you will need an additional heat source.

Consider installing a gas fireplace. A gas fireplace works best if there is a chimney already available. However, if your basement does not have a chimney, then a vent-less gas fireplace could be a good option.

Another great option to consider is to use a radiant heater. These heaters can be installed by your contractor below the floor or even along baseboards.

Finally, another great option for the homeowner who is on a budget is to consider using space heaters which can be easily plugged into a wall.

Hamilton Home Comfort offers a variety of spectacular heating options and services to choose from for your basement or your entire home. Contact us today and our team of experts will be ready to help.

Posted by & filed under Fireplaces, Heating.

If you’ve started shopping around for a gas fireplace, you’ve probably been impressed with all the different styles that are available and likely gotten a pretty good idea of what you think would be just perfect for your living room, family room etc.. But then you’ve also run into the question of BTUs. You might wonder how many BTUs you need. Are more BTUs better that fewer? And what the heck is a BTU anyway?

a fireplace

 

Let’s start with that last question. BTU stands for British Thermal Unit and it simply refers to the amount of energy (or heat) necessary to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. If all this sounds a little too complicated, just remember that it is a unit of heat.

So the more BTUs your gas fireplace is, the more capacity it will have for heating the room. That said however, more is not always better since you only really need enough BTUs to keep your home comfortable (a larger amount may just end up wasting energy and adding to you heating bill).

So how many BTUs do you actually need?

The answer to this question depends on a number of variables including the size of your room, how many windows you have, amount of insulation and how cold your winters get in your area. If you have other efficiency problems in your home such as poor insulation or leaky windows, then taking care of these things first will allow you to go with a fireplace that has lower BTUs.

Most Southwestern Ontario homes require between 10,000 and 20,000 BTUs with the average being around 14,000 during the coldest months.

Obviously, however, if you are heating a very large space, the amount of BTUs will need to be higher than if you only need to heat a small area. The last thing you want to have is lower powered fireplace in a large room that everyone has to huddle around or one that is too powerful that turns your small space into a sauna!

In every home there is a sweet spot called the comfort zone. This is that spot where your room or home reaches a comfortable temperature that can be maintained with a steady level of heat or BTUs. It is that ideal spot where no one in the home is thinking about the blustery weather outside, and no one in the family is waging war over the thermostat.

Before shopping for you gas fireplace, it is helpful to measure the room that you will be putting it in including the height of the ceilings. Take note of how many windows you have in that room and which direction they are facing.

Based on this information, professional HVAC technicians like the ones at Hamilton Home Comfort can help you determine how many BTUs you will need for your gas fireplace. Don’t get caught up in believing the “more is always better” myth. Finding the ideal amount of heat output will allow you to keep your room warm and cozy all winter long.

Posted by & filed under Furnace Repair.

A home or office furnace is something that most of us don’t usually pay much attention to until there’s a problem with it! In actual fact, one of the best ways to avoid furnace problems in the future is with a little upkeep now. One of the most important things that furnace owners need to take care of is its filter.

Furnace Filter

A furnace filter is placed within the furnace to ensure that no dust, hair or other ‘bits’ in the air gets pumped out into your home along with the heated air. As the air gets sucked into the furnace, it passes through the filter before being heated (or cooled) and dispersed around the building.

Types of Furnace Filters

There are generally three different types of furnace filters available, the cheap fibreglass, pleated filter, and the reusable filter. Each has their pros and cons, so let’s look at each one in a little more detail.

Cheap Fibreglass Filter

These are the cheapest on the market and are generally seen as the most disposable filters. This means that they do need to be replaced more often than the other filters, more often than every 90 days which are recommended for other filters. They come in a variety of standard sizes but they also have a less effective filter rating.

Pleated Filter

This is the most common filter type that is available and can vary in price from a couple of dollars to $30-$40 depending on its quality. It is in a pleated form and made from polyester and paper. These filters should be changed every 90 days, but regularly checked for blockages, and there is a wide range to choose from. When it comes to balancing value for money with quality air filtering, these are a good option.

Reusable Filter

This filter is more pricey, but can last for up to five years with proper care and upkeep. It is usually made from a plastic or aluminium frame and the filter itself can be vacuumed and washed before being re-used. They come in a wide range of sizes and choice of filter ratings. They are generally accepted to be the most efficient of the furnace filters.

Filter Ratings

In general, filters are rated on a scale known as the MERV (Minimum Efficiency reporting Value) rating. This is a scale between 1 and 16 with 1 being the least effective filter and 16 being the finest. A filter with a rating of between 8 and 11 is acceptable for most homes, although people with allergy problems or who are smoking may want a higher filter. It is worth noting however that the higher the MERV rating, the slower the air passes through, and in extreme circumstances this can affect your furnace and sometimes cause malfunction.

Each furnace filter type has its pros and cons and choosing the right one for you, really depends on the size of your furnace, the filter rating that you are looking for, and the amount of money that you are prepared to spend at the time. It is important to remember that regardless of the filter you choose, it will need to be replaced or cleaned regularly to prevent any malfunction of your furnace and ensure that it is as effective as possible.

At times, it can be troublesome to maintain your furnace and you might need professional help. For all of your furnace needs, ranging from the installation to routine maintenance of your furnace, contact us and our team of certified technicians will be ready to help.

Posted by & filed under Fireplaces.

When you consider what you want in your home, fireplaces are the third most often requested features, according to a national realtor association. However, traditional fireplaces that are wood burning require major structural additions to your home to provide the fire-pit and chimney. In addition, wood-burning fireplaces are among the top 10 most common causes of house fires. Therefore, most modern homes do not have wood-burning fireplaces.

a closeup of an electric fireplace
Wall-mounted electric fireplaces are the least expensive alternative to a wood burning fireplace, and they have become increasingly popular. They are the easiest to install and can be used in any space including apartments, condos, dens and offices.

When deciding upon a style, you need to decide if you want a unit that mounts on the surface of the wall or one that is built into the wall. Of course, a unit that mounts directly on the wall using a mounting bracket is the easiest to install and most cost effective as you will not need to hire a contractor to build the unit into your wall.

A huge benefit of choosing an electric fireplace is safety. These units do not emit any harmful gases or fumes such as carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, which you can have with gas or wood burning fireplaces. In addition:

  • The carbon footprint of electric fireplaces is much less because neither lethal nor harmful toxins nor gases are being released into the environment.
  • Before you buy, ensure that the electric fireplace you choose is CSA certified, this will ensure additional safety for you and your family.
  • The flames of an electric fireplace are not real; therefore, the fire hazards of open flames are eliminated.
  • People who have respiratory difficulties (asthma, bronchitis etc.) will not be aggravated by irritating gases that can be emitted by wood and gas fireplaces.
  • Sparks and burning embers that can roll out of the fireplace are not a concern with electric fireplaces.
  • Electric fireplaces are both child and pet safe. They are built to ensure there are no exposed hot surfaces that may cause burns. The material of an electric fireplace is often cool to the touch. However always be cautious of heat discharge vents as these can become warm to the touch.

There are few other things to consider ensuring your wall-mounted electric fireplace is safe:

  1. Install the unit on a dedicated outlet. Electric fireplaces tend to draw maximum power and having other appliances on the same circuit may cause a fuse or circuit to blow. For some larger electric fireplaces units that have an increased heat capacity you may be required to install special wiring or even a dedicated circuit. Check with the manufacturer or a qualified technician if you are unsure.
  2. Check to determine where the heat is emitted from the unit. Where and how heat is discharged will have safety implications. For example, you should not mount your TV over top of a unit that discharges heat from the top. If the heat is emitted from the bottom of the unit, keep flammable objects away from that area. Also, keep the unit away from drapes, carpet or any other flammable material.
  3. Lastly, ensure that your wall-mounted electric fireplace is securely installed and mounted correctly. While you can install most types of these on your own, it’s recommended to have a professional assemble and install your electric fireplace.

If you would like more information about choosing a fireplace, or in need of a fireplace installation in the Hamilton or surrounding region please Contact Hamilton Home Comfort.

Posted by & filed under Fireplaces, Heating.

If you have a gas fireplace in your home, you should make it part of your maintenance routine to get an annual inspection.  This is a very importance practice because, even though a gas fireplace burns clean and requires little care, you want to make sure that it is operating at peak performance. If neglected, it will develop problems and become a nuisance, just like any other appliance. By having your gas fireplace inspected and chimney cleaned on an annual basis, you can start off the season with peace of mind knowing that it’s operating efficiently and effectively.

watch Why a Fireplace Inspection?

Every fireplace or insert works hard each time it is put into use.  Debris and junk can collect in the vents, flue and inside the chimney. This buildup of debris should be removed since it will restrict the airflow and discharge a bad smell. You can end up with deteriorating logs because ceramic or faux log inserts will eventually weaken each time they are used. They can cling to the sides of the inserts and get trapped over time.

When used regularly, your fireplace will accumulate dirt on the glass or frame. You may end up with chipped or scratched glass, which can become a hazard since it can interfere with the heat output of your fireplace. When this occurs, it needs to be replaced.

If there is a cracked crown or the mortar joints have deteriorated in the exterior chimney, moisture can enter the chimney system. Over the course of usage, the flue tiles may break off and fall into the hearth.

Unlike a wood burning fireplace that creates creosote in the chimney, a gas fireplace burns clean; however, if air moves through cracks, the ventilation system will fail to work properly. Because of this, you could expose your family to deadly carbon monoxide poisoning. It’s essential that the chimney work correctly to prevent dangerous fumes from entering your home. Other issues can also potentially cause ventilation problems, such as debris falling into the chimney or an animal building a nest.

gas fireplace

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At the time of your inspection, a technician will first take a look at the exterior of the fireplace to assure that there are no chips or cracks in the glass and the framework is holding up sufficiently. While the technician is checking for any dents or debris, he will also open up the structure and take look at the interior gas ignition under the log structure, making sure it is lighting correctly.

The inspection includes making sure that your log set is not suffering from any deterioration in any way. Usually, the face of the unit is removed so that the valves and connection underneath your fireplace or insert can be inspected and determine if your heat output is correct. The technician will clean up any residue that has started to block any ports or vents. After a routine check, the service person will make sure you have working carbon monoxide detectors and review with you any repairs your gas fireplace needs.

go to site Safety Issues:

Safety is always a part of operating any appliance and a gas fireplace is no different.

The glass can reach temperatures of 400 degrees Fahrenheit, causing serious injury if touched. It takes about 45 minutes for the glass doors to cool enough to touch after the gas fire is out so anyone, especially children, should be informed about the danger. Some parents install a screen with childproof barriers when there are small children in the house.

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Like any type of open combustion system, gas fireplaces should be treated with the same level of respect as wood-burning fireplaces because of their potential to cause house fires. By having your gas fireplace inspected annually, you can ensure that your beautiful fireplace is running at peak efficiency whenever you need the glowing comfort of extra heat.

Posted by & filed under Furnace Repair, Heating.

Like it or not, we live in a climate that requires our homes to have heating during the winter months. Our complete dependence on our furnaces to provide us with a comfortable and warm home sometimes makes us feel helpless when our furnace isn’t working properly. There are some common problems that can occur with furnaces. And there are some simple things homeowners can do themselves.

Thermostat Set to Heat

Common problems with furnaces include:

Your furnace simply won’t turn on. This one inevitably happens on the first cold day of the year when you approach the all-powerful thermostat and flick that switch over to “heat”. If you have an oil furnace, (like many older homes in Hamilton, Grimsby, and Binbrook) check the reset button. It is the red button on the box at the burner. Once you press it, the burner should fire up right away. Do not push this reset more than once.

If your furnace is a gas furnace and it doesn’t turn on when you flick the switch, check the pilot light. Older gas furnaces have pilot lights, the newer ones have electronic ignition. When older furnaces have a pilot light that won’t stay lit, possible problems could be; a loose or faulty thermocouple, a clogged pilot orifice, or the flame of the pilot is set too low.

If you have an electronic-ignition furnace, first turn down the thermostat or turn the power switch to off. Next turn it on again, this will reset the ignition control module. Listen carefully for the sound of the spark. Or you can watch for the hot surface ignitor to glow.

Another problem is that your furnace runs but does not provide enough heat. If this is the problem, first check that nothing is blocking the flow of warm air. Next, check that the thermostat is set properly. Raise the temperature five degrees and wait to see if this increases the heat. Check that the registers are open and check the furnace filter. If the filter is dirty, replace it with a clean filter.

If your furnace is running, but there is no heat at all this is a sign of additional problems. First check that the thermostat is set to “heat”. Check that the furnace circuit breaker is on and the fuse is not blown. You can reset the circuit by flipping it all the way off then all the way on. Next, check that the furnace switch is turned on. This switch is usually located next to or inside the furnace cabinet.

If your furnace cycles on and off too often this can also signal a problem with your furnace. The problem is very likely with your thermostat. Some thermostats have a small lever. This lever moves along a calibrated scale which indicates “longer”. This is the heat anticipator and you can try adjusting this by moving it one step closer to the “longer” mark. Once adjusted, it may take several hours to stabilize to this setting.

Of course, if you are unable to solve any of these furnace issues on your own or would rather not try, call the professionals at Hamilton Home Comfort. Keep in mind, if you do fix your furnace on your own, it’s always a good idea to call a qualified Furnace expert, such as Hamilton Home Comfort.  There may be a bigger problem at hand, and by identifying the issue, you can ensure your house stays warm and cozy during those cruel winter evenings.