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From Around the Web: X Excellent Infographics About Home Improvement

For many individuals, a home is one of the biggest investments they will make in their lifetime. That’s why it is so important for homeowners to understand their home improvement needs, including yearly maintenance and repair concerns.

We at Palo Alto Plumbing, Heating, and Air know how important it is for you to get the information you need to protect your home and keep it running smoothly and efficiently throughout the year. That’s why we’ve put together a list of informative infographics that help you better understand your home improvement needs.

Top Home Improvement Infographics

Whether you are a brand new homeowner or you’ve lived in your house for decades, it’s important to understand your home improvement needs. Use the infographics below to educate yourself on basic home improvement:

United States Census Bureau – Home Improvements

The U.S. Census Bureau gathers important data about the improvements that U.S. homeowners make to their homes. This infographic gives you more information about the top improvements that U.S. homeowners are making and how much they spend each year on home improvement. If you are planning your home improvement budget for the year, this infographic will give you a better idea of what most homeowners choose to focus on and how much you can expect to spend.

United States Census Bureau – Home Improvements

Home Improvements That Pay You Pack

Before investing in home improvement projects, it’s important that you consider your return on investment. Though any home improvement project may make your home a more comfortable environment, some projects are more worth your while because they tend to provide a higher resale value when you are ready to sell your home. This infographic gives a nice breakdown of the projects that will end up paying you back in the end.

Home Improvements That Pay You Pack

 

Drab to Fab: Home Improvements for Less than $1,000

Want to make some improvements to your home without breaking the bank? This infographic offers some awesome tips for affordable home improvement. It gives a simple breakdown of the costs for different improvements you can make in the kitchen, living room, bathroom, and bedroom. It also provides some general tips for saving more money on your home improvement projects. This is a great infographic for the budget-conscious homeowner.

Home Improvements for Less than $1,000

 

Want to find more great, informative content on home improvement topics? Each month, we update our blog with interesting posts on home improvement, HVAC, and energy efficiency topics.

 

Will High-Efficiency Filters or High-MERV Filters Harm My HVAC System?

High-efficiency and high-MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) rating filters seem beneficial because they filter out very small particulates, such as pollen, dander, and other allergens. Yet these types of filters have some negative consequences too. Here are some benefits and drawbacks of high-efficiency and high-MERV rating filters.

The Role of the Filter in HVAC

The primary purpose of a heating and air conditioning filter is to prevent dust and debris from clogging the unit. Many homeowners also purchase filters for their air quality enhancing properties, making them a must-have purchase for allergy sufferers. High-efficiency or high-MERV rating filters may capture more particulates, but their construction may not benefit the HVAC system. Filtering smaller particulates may lead to decreased airflow.

Do These Filters Harm HVAC Systems?

Most systems use either PSC (permanent split capacitor) or ECM (electronically commutated motors) technology. PSC motors have two settings: “on” and “off.” ECM motors are variable speed motors that adjust according to the needs of the environment and thermostat.

In most cases, high-efficiency filters (i.e., restrictive filters) won’t harm HVAC equipment, but they don’t offer as many benefits as a homeowner might believe. A PSC motor can only provide a certain level of air output, regardless of filter conditions. If the filter is too restrictive or too dirty, it will slightly reduce airflow through the system and into the home. An ECM motor, on the other hand, always tries to compensate for differences between its running capacity and the home environment. A dirty or restrictive filter may cause an ECM motor to use more energy to force more air through the system. Instead of saving energy, this type of reaction can significantly reduce HVAC efficiency.

How Different MERV Ratings Affect HVAC Systems

Some of the most common MERV ratings for high-efficiency filters range from 8-14. The higher the MERV rating, the more a filter can capture. Some filters may even capture certain viruses. Most systems expect a pressure drop of up to 0.5 inches, but high-MERV rating filters may cause a pressure drop higher than 0.18 inches, rendering the system even more inefficient.

To account for these pressure-related differences, talk to a professional HVAC technician about compensating for a high-efficiency or high-MERV filter. A trained professional can recommend accommodations to offset the airflow and pressure consequences of a high-efficiency filter and to keep the heating and air conditioning system running efficiently over time.

Choosing an Air Filter

The next time you purchase an air filter at a big box store or online, take a moment to look at the specifications. Look for the MERV rating and any information about air flow speeds. A thicker filter may not always provide better filtration results. A high industry rating, such as a MERV rating, may not always tell the entire story.

If you have any questions about what filter will improve efficiency, contact Palo Alto Plumbing for a recommendation.

 

Carbon Monoxide: What You Don’t Know is Putting Your Family at Risk

“It started as a nagging headache,” Diane said. “And then it became worse before turning into a horror show.”

It was around 9 pm on a cold December night and both of them were sitting in front of their fireplace, decompressing from the hard day’s work. The baby June was in her crib. Suddenly, Liam, Diane’s husband, became sick – headache, vomiting, the works. That made Diane concerned for her husband’s health but she chalked it up to the bug that was going around the neighborhood. “Must be the flu.”

Two hours later, Diane felt her heart thudding in her chest, wanting to come out. She became nauseous and lightheaded, and her whole body went cold. She panicked and rushed to “Google” the symptoms – finding it just might be Carbon Monoxide poisoning. She called 911 after finding out that they were indeed being poisoned by the stealthiest killer: Carbon Monoxide.

Her family was saved thanks to Diane’s quick reaction and pure timing but, everyone is not so lucky.

What is Carbon Monoxide?

CO is a colorless, tasteless, and odorless gas. That means between 1999 to 2010 most of the 5,149 Americans that ended up in graves because of non-fire-related Carbon Monoxide poisoning had no idea what hit them. No bad odor, no horrible taste, nothing – except for the untimely death.

Although, like all accidents you can minimize the chances of dying from CO, most people avoid taking the right precautionary measures until it happens to them. When, unfortunately, it is already too late. And the damage is done.

CO is produced any time you burn fossil fuels like in cars, trucks, fireplaces, and good old furnaces. Everyone is at risk regardless of gender or age, but children and elderly and those with preexisting diseases of heart or lungs are at higher risk of developing complications such as permanent brain damage, life-threatening heart complications, and death.

How Does Carbon Monoxide Affect Our Health?

Once inhaled, it goes into the blood stream and displaces oxygen from hemoglobin, that results in a deficiency of oxygen which leads to hypoxia and eventually death.
The symptoms of CO are non-specific and often don’t tell anything by themselves. Most common symptoms include altered mental status, headache, nausea, weakness and chest pain.

Fortunately, science has made it really easy to prevent against CO exposure. Take steps to prevent accidental exposure to Carbon Monoxide. Because it is real. And it kills.

How to Avoid Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Here are just a few ways that you can avoid carbon monoxide poisoning:

1. Install and maintain a CO detector: This is the single most important thing you can do to protect your family against the possibility of Carbon Monoxide poisoning. Make sure to buy a battery operated detector with a loud enough alarm to wake you up. But that’s not all, replace the battery every year and change the detector once every 5 years.

2. Don’t use portable gas camp stoves indoors. Small appliances like these also contribute to the buildup of Carbon Monoxide and when indoors, the harmful gasses can’t escape and your family can’t escape from them. Get rid of them folks.

3. Get your gas appliances checked by an expert. Make sure that they are working correctly and all the stuff that is supposed to be inside is staying inside and not spilling out to kill you when you’re asleep.

4. Never ignore any unusual odor coming from your refrigerator. CO itself has no odor, but in this case, other gasses mixed with CO have a particular odor that might give it away.

5. Clean your chimney. Debris can clog up your chimney real bad. So, now all the gasses would accumulate inside your living room instead of escaping through the chimney. Get your chimney cleaned before it cleans you.

6. Be smart. Don’t burn charcoal indoors, use generators inside of your home or basement, or patch a vent pipe with chewing gum. We’ve seen it all and it’s always dangerous.

One last thing, if you ever suspect that you or a family member has been exposed to Carbon Monoxide, immediately evacuate the house and call 911. Learn more about how to maintain healthy air quality in your home and to have your HVAC system checked for safety, and contact us to schedule an inspection with us today!

10 Benefits of Living in Your Ideal Home Temperature

We all love a comfortable, secure, stylish home with just the right amount of heat or cold, be it a modest house or a lavish mansion. What constitutes comfort, security, and style varies from person to person and so does the perfect temperature. Below, we will discuss what the ideal room temperature is and the benefits of cooler and hotter home temperatures.

What is The Ideal Room Temperature?

Unfortunately, there is no exact answer to this question. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends 18C/64F for healthy individuals, 16C/60.5F for those with respiratory problems, and a minimum of 20C/68F for the very young, sick or aged.

When looking for your perfect thermostat setting, it might be a good idea to consider the following benefits of warm versus cold houses, noting of course, that this does not include extreme temperatures.

5 Benefits of a Warm House

Here are some of the benefits of making your home environment warmer:

1. Makes You Physically Active

A warm house makes you want to be up and about. You are more likely to think about dusting the book shelf and finishing the DIY project you started last summer, rather than cuddling on the couch.

2. Good for Your Memory
The reasoning is simple, with increased blood flow to your head and vital organs, you will be more alert and able to more easily remember things.

3. Reduced Respiratory and Allergic Conditions
Respiratory and allergic conditions are notoriously stubborn, and the last thing you need is a cold house to send you looking for your anti-allergy pills.

4. Heart and Lungs
Due to the need to keep your body at an optimum temperature, your heart and lungs have to work harder in cold surroundings to ensure this goal is achieved. Too much of this for too long could result in higher blood pressure and associated conditions.

5. Makes it Easier for Some to Sleep
It’s last on the list because it may boil down to your preferred bedroom thermostat settings and your sleeping habits. Some love to be under a duvet, while others love sleeping with their t-shirts only.

5 Benefits of a Cold Home

And if you love it when your house has a cold, slightly chilly ambience, you are not alone. Here are the benefits of living in a cooler environment:

1. Burns Calories

This is the realm of cutting-edge science, but it turns out that cold conditions tend to cause certain types of bodily fat to be combusted to keep us warm. Weight-watchers will love it.

2. Disease-Carrying Bugs Hate Cold Conditions
Disease causing insects such as mosquitoes and cockroaches find it inhospitable to be in cold surroundings. This helps keep your family safe and healthy.

3. Reduces Inflammation and Boosts Muscle Recovery
Ever wondered why ice is applied on swollen surfaces? Or why athletes immerse themselves in icy-water? Cold conditions tend to reduce inflammation of muscles and promote muscular recovery.

4. Promotes Better and Longer Sleep

When you lay down to go to sleep, the temperature of your body naturally cools off. Cold temperatures can help you cool down faster, leading to higher quality and long-lasting sleep.

5. Closer Together
One happy family. When it’s colder, we tend to huddle closer like all members of the animal kingdom, the only difference is we would probably be around the kitchen table or in the TV room.

Whether you like it warmer or cooler, it is important that you keep your HVAC system well-maintained so that it can keep you comfortable year-round. If you need help achieving ultimate home comfort, give us a call today.