Ratty Radiator: Refurbishing Your Old HVAC Units

Hunting for a home can be a challenge, especially with the way the housing market has been looking lately. Now add the new home vs old home debate into the mix and you’re sure to be even more confused! New homes have that clean look and fresh smell that homeowners love. However, there is something to say about the charm and durability of an older home. Older homes have a unique structural design, are often found in desirable locals close to city centres, and are constructed with high-quality materials. If you want the best of both worlds, there are ways you can renovate your home, keeping safety and HVAC in mind.

Ratty Radiator – Towel Rack Transformation

I am sure you’ve heard of the term ‘vintage’ being thrown around in the last decade or so. More and more people are infusing their homes with vintage elements to get that unique flare and old-school charm. A few weeks ago we got the chance to revamp a ratty radiator, featured below, by making it into a fully functioning heated towel rack for one of our fantastic clients!

HVAC Vintage Finds

This project inspired us to explore other ways homeowners can renovate their old or new home, by keeping the elements they love intact. Check out this old boiler and German-style thermostat we found online! If you have one of these kicking around your home, instead of throwing it out, incorporate it into your interior design. This will add that little bit of history to your home’s otherwise cookie-cutter construction.

Old A/C DIY Project

Do you have an old air conditioning unit in your home that stylistically you just don’t know what to do with? Instead of moving or tearing your wall apart, try covering it up using inexpensive wood panelling. Vintage Meets Glam transformed the look of her bedroom by doing just that!

Safety First

DIY projects can be exciting and fun, however, working with HVAC units, whether functioning or not, could pose safety risks. Before starting a project like the ones above in your home, talk to a professional to determine whether or not a risk is present. Stay safe and happy decorating!

Hot Box History

Are you sitting in your home or office, shivering, waiting for summer to return so that you can stop cursing your faulty thermostat under your frosted breath? Do you hate wrapping yourself up like a burrito and trying to type with gloves on every day? Sometimes the struggle is just too real. Now imagine a time where heating was a concept only dreamed of. Imagine rubbing two sticks together to survive. Over the years, humans had to become inventive in order to combat the frigid weather. This is where radiators, as we know them today, come in. Let us start from the beginning, with a look at primal heating techniques.

Hearth Heating

When we think of building fires today, we think of camping and getting back to nature. We do not necessarily think of heat as a means of survival. For the Neanderthals, building hearths was imperative for eating and staying alive. However, these hearths brought with them their own dangers due to the sparks being created. These sparks could easily fly up and ignite the vegetation present in the caves.

Roman Hypocausts & Bronze Age Ondol

Many years later, the Romans and Koreans began simultaneously experimenting with an early form of central heating. A Roman engineer by the name of Sergius Orata invented hypocausts, which circulated hot air and smoke generated by furnace flames underneath home floorboards. The Ondol from Korea used a similar, albeit more efficient system, that directed the heat more quickly throughout the house.

Benjamin Franklin

In 1741, Benjamin Franklin further improved these methods by lining his fireplace with metal and creating a hollow baffle with a duct attached. This duct led to an upside down tube-like structure, which directed furnace fumes up and restricted where the fumes could travel, forcing them to take a longer route. The metal lining conducted the heat more readily and the longer travel path meant that fumes were circulating longer, heating the home for an extended period of time before they escaped.

Industrial Steam Heating

Later in the 18th century, two Englishmen by the names of Matthew Boulton and James Watt, understanding the importance of materials used, began experimenting with soldered copper sheeting to steam heat mills and factories in England. A few decades later, in the USA, high pressure steam engines were used to heat prominent buildings like the White House and the Capitol Building.

Residential Steam Heating

It was not until 1854, when stone maker, Stephen Gold, created the “mattress radiator,” that radiators became a residential commercial success. He addressed concerns regarding steam heaters being too complicated and unsafe, by creating a patent that mitigated a lot of the danger created by earlier models. Essentially, he riveted two indented sheets of iron together, allowing for a safe passage of hot air to circulate within.

Franz San Galli

Although it is widely disputed as to who actually invented the first radiator, Polish-born Russian businessman, Franz San Galli, is credited for its creation. In the midst of the harsh temperatures of St. Petersburg, Russia during the mid 19th century, Franz invented what he dubbed as the “hotbox.” This invention transformed the world of central heating we know today. Hooray for no more bulky bear skin fur coats!

Radiators Today

The use of radiators is still alive today, as the ornate Victorian style and metalwork is gaining in popularity. It is seen re-emerging in modern interior decor designs across the world. Talk about a blast from the past! Do you have a radiator that isn’t working to its full capacity? Are you moving and thinking about what HVAC system would be most suitable for your home? Contact us —we have the answers and professional services you need to get the job done right!

6 Furnace Fail Warning Signs

When it comes to HVAC systems, the changing weather of autumn can bring some unexpected problems. At the first sign of chilly fall winds, homeowners find themselves turning on furnaces that haven’t been used for several months. Have you ever turned on your furnace to discover that it’s not heating your home the way you expected? There are a few potential reasons why your furnace could be failing you:

Older Unit

Your furnace could simply be running on its last legs. Have you moved into an older home recently, or simply haven’t replaced your furnace in a while? It may be time to do so. Furnaces usually only last between 15-20 years, so if you are not feeling the warmth, your furnace may be telling you it’s time for an upgrade. You can check information about its age on the serial label posted on your furnace.

Cold Air Flow

Cold air flowing through your furnace could be another warning signthat your system is due for a revamp. If you find cold spots in your home, it’s time to contact a professional, as your blower fan may be malfunctioning!

Yellow Pilot Light

Behind the front panel of your furnace, you can find your pilot light. Check the colour; is it yellow? If so, this could be a sign that your heat exchange is leaking carbon monoxide, which poses a huge risk for you and your family. Seek professional service immediately, if there’s any potential for a carbon monoxide leak. Just remember, BLUE means GO, YELLOW means Oh NO!

Unusual Noises

Although furnaces do tend to generate sounds when running, pay attention to any sound that’s out of the ordinary for your furnace. In particular loud and high pitched pops and squeaks could indicate that there is something loose in your unit.

Dust

Finding an unusual amount of dust buildup in your furnace could mean that your furnace is not able to clean your air properly. If you are experiencing this issue, call one of our technicians for assistance – your family will be happy you did!  

Increased Heating Bill

Are you experiencing a spike in your heating bill lately? Inspect your furnace to ensure that all of the above furnace fail signs are not occurring. No matter what the problem with your furnace might be, we can find it!  Contact us to reach one of our friendly, experienced technicians.

Duct Discoveries: Surprising Finds and How to Safeguard Your Home

Have you ever been confused and frustrated by the lack of airflow in your house, despite your gruesomely high energy bills? Or, have you experienced foul, unexplainable odors in your home? There may be a reason… and it may not have crossed your mind before. HVAC contractors across the country have the distinct pleasure of adding “treasure hunters” to their list of credentials due to the discoveries they sometimes uncover while on the job. You may be surprised to learn that dirt, dust, and grime are not the only things that can be found hiding in your ducts.

For instance, one contractor from Miami, Florida, reported finding an array of peculiar items throughout his career. This included recreational drugs and other contraband, remnants of food and beverage wrappers, and even human feces! Was it a nightwalking mishap, a messy party foul, or a toddler that just didn’t know any better? Your guess is as good as ours…

Several contractors living locally and abroad have reported finding dead critters and other animals; including, cats, mice, a tarantula, an iguana, and even a small fox and possum. Can you imagine the stench of decay wafting throughout your home? It is what nightmares are made of.

Some of the strangest items found in heating and cooling ducts were reported by contractors in both Scarborough, Toronto and the UK. When a family complained about the lack of airflow being generated from their HVAC units, the contractors they hired discovered the unusual reason for this blockage. Hidden in their ducts they found a total of 45 VHS tapes and 19 books. It was discovered that their child had been safeguarding his treasures for some time.

In the UK, a construction company was hired to work on a house. Little did they know they would experience a spooky awakening when they discovered a vintage Ouija board stuffed into the home’s heating vent!

Although most of these duct discoveries are not common findings, it serves as an important reminder: have your ducts inspected and serviced regularly! This will improve the quality of air you breathe, will reduce the energy your home consumes and helps you save money in the long run. Afterglow can help give you the peace of mind you need. Contact us today.

FALL ALLERGIES: What They Are & How to Cope

The end of summer often brings those pesky fall allergens that we detest. They pollute the air that we breathe, causing irritating symptoms like a runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing, coughing, dark under-eye circles, and itchy sinuses. These symptoms can last from mid-August well into October, so it is very important to understand what allergies are prevalent in the fall months so that we can reduce their strain.

RAGWEED

The worst fall allergy culprit is ragweed. The pollen from this invasive plant can travel airborne for hundreds of miles, and the dryer the air, the higher the concentration of pollen. Roughly 75% of people with spring allergies also suffer from reactions to ragweed in the fall due to the change in temperatures and winds. Symptoms from ragweed allergies peak at midday when many people are at work, and can be incredibly disruptive to your health!

MOLD

Mold is another trigger for allergic reactions in the fall months, and thrives in moist environments both outdoors and indoors. Keep an eye on damp areas of your home like the washroom, kitchen, or basement to make sure no mold is developing. Damp walls, leaky foundations, improper insulation and carpeting all provide the perfect breeding ground for musty mold.

DUST MITES

Dust mites prefer warm, damp climates; however, that does not stop them from thriving well into the fall. Turning on your furnace can stir up dust into the air, propelling dust mites into the sinuses and causing the allergic reactions suffers dread most.

HOW TO COPE WITH FALL ALLERGIES

TIP #1: Dusting and Duct Cleaning

If you are allergic to dust mites, ensure that you thoroughly dust your home. If your nose is especially sensitive, wear a mask to protect your sinuses as you clean. Since dust likes to settle on every surface, including clothes and bed sheets, ensure that you wash these items in hot water (at least 130 degrees) and dry them in the dryer. Avoid hanging these items to dry because the moisture present is enough to attract ragweed, mites, and mold. Dust often settles in house ducts, so it is also important to inspect and clean your ducts periodically to limit allergic reactions created from dust and mold.

TIP #2: High-Quality HVAC Systems

Dehumidifiers – Depending on the air quality and temperature in your home, using a dehumidifier can drastically improve the air you breathe, eliminating the pesky allergens found travelling in the air. Dehumidifiers will be your best friend in the fall because they work to extract moisture from the air where mold, dust mites, and ragweed thrive.

Air Cleaners and Filters – Find a purifying filter that is right for you. HEPA air filters in particular are fantastic for trapping tiny particles that make their way into the air. Cleaning and filtering the air you breathe in your home is essential for keeping allergies at bay.

TIP #3: Scheduled Maintenance Appointments
Sometimes it can be overwhelming trying to determine the best options for your home when it comes to eliminating pollutants such as ragweed, dust, and mold. Take the stress out of your day by getting advice from the experts. Schedule a regular maintenance appointments with Afterglow today.

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