Is It Time for a Thermostat Upgrade in Bergen County?

February 21st, 2015

Your thermostat is the control center for your HVAC system, but it is often the last part of your system to be upgraded. Having an outdated thermostat can make it difficult to achieve the maximum energy efficiency level for your home and can also add stress to your HVAC system. So what are your choices when it comes to a thermostat upgrade for your Bergen County home? Let’s take a look.

Types of Thermostats

Here are the main types of thermostats available to homeowners:

  • Digital – digital thermostats can replace a slide or dial thermostat simply by wiring it in. Digital thermostats have easy-to-read faces, precise temperature-setting and easy-to-use buttons. These features make them more energy efficient because you can set an exact temperature on them rather than aiming for a range, as can happen with a slide or dial thermostat.
  • Programmable – a programmable thermostat is a digital thermostat that can be programmed for up to 7 days. With a programmable thermostat, you can set up to 4 different temperature changes throughout a given day, which allows you to power down your heating or cooling when no one is home. This can save you a great deal of energy.
  • Wireless – a wireless thermostat is actually a small system in which the main thermostat, which acts as both a thermostat and receiver, communicates with wireless thermostats you can place around your home; the wireless thermostats just need to be within a certain range of the receiver, which is usually no more than 500 feet. Wireless thermostats can allow you to set the thermostat from wherever you are, adding a level of convenience to your home.
  • Smart – smart thermostats use all these technologies and then some to give you the highest level of control over your HVAC system. A smart thermostat can be accessed by any smart device you own, so you can manage, program, track and monitor your heating and cooling from virtually anywhere – you just need access to the internet.

Mismatched, outdated or just poorly-performing thermostats can put stress on your HVAC system and cause issues with comfort.

If your thermostat is no longer doing the job you need it to, call DB Heating & Cooling today and schedule an appointment with one of our experts.

Some of the Unusual Movies Released for Valentine’s Day

February 14th, 2015

Hollywood has always tried to match movies up to the seasons to draw droves of viewers to the theaters: October is packed with fright-offerings, while the winter holidays skew toward warm and pleasing family films (as well as Oscar hopefuls). Valentine’s Day falls in an odd spot when it comes to the movie release calendar, however, since February tends to be a slower time for the film industry. The studios are as likely to slot strange movies that don’t fit anywhere else in their annual schedules into the Valentine’s Day weekend as they are films with powerful romantic appeal.

So, while the second weekend of February has featured hugely successful romantic comedies like Hitch, The Wedding Singer, and (of course) Valentine’s Day, some truly weird choices have debuted in this weekend as well. And a few have even gone on to tremendous success despite the bizarre match with the holiday. Here are a couple of the odder Valentine’s Day movie releases:

  • Dracula (1931): Yes, this Halloween perennial and the start of Universal Studio’s Classic Monsters actually came out on Valentine’s Day! But perhaps this makes some sense, as the Dracula legend has often received a “doomed lover” approach in the many years since Bela Lugosi made the aristocratic vampire a screen icon.
  • The Silence of the Lambs (1991): Does any film seem less appropriate for Valentine’s Day than this unnerving and sometimes very violent psychological thriller? What’s even more astonishing than the film’s release date is that The Silence of the Lambs eventually nabbed the Oscar for Best Picture, an almost unheard of occurrence for a movie released so early in the year.
  • Daredevil (2003): This Marvel comic adaptation featuring Ben Affleck as a blind superhero does contain a romantic subplot, but the stronger connection to Valentine’s Day may just be that Daredevil wears a bright red costume.
  • A Good Day to Die Hard (2013): The least successful of the Die Hard film franchise, this is an excellent example of a studio dropping a film into a weekend where it doesn’t fit in the hopes that it works as counter-programming. (It didn’t.)
  • Wayne’s World (1992): Now here is an example of counter-programming that clicked with audiences. This comedy based on a Saturday Night Live sketch turned into one of that year’s biggest hits and spawned a sequel.

Whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day with a trip to the movie theater, or you have your own special plans, everyone here at DB Heating & Cooling hopes you and your loved ones have a wonderful weekend.

Indoor Air Quality Tips for the Winter Season

February 5th, 2015

In an effort to stay warm while also staying energy efficient, many homes can become so air-tight that ventilation problems develop. Having good ventilation is an important factor in having healthy indoor air quality, particularly if you have a forced air system. However, there are some simple steps you can take to help maintain or maintain your indoor air during the winter, and to help you achieve that, here are some indoor air quality tips for your Bergen County home:

  • Change your air filter – if you have a furnace or heat pump system, the system has an air filter. These air filters should be changed every three months to keep them effective; when they fill up with dirt and dust, they can clog. This not only affects your indoor air quality, it can also affect the air flow in your heating system.
  • Move smokers outdoors – it may not be the best time of year to be outside, but second-hand smoke is one of the worst culprits of indoor air pollution and a leading cause of lung disease.
  • Make sure your ductwork is in good shape – faulty ductwork allows air to escape but it also allows numerous contaminants into your air deliver system and directly into your home. Duct repair and/or duct sealing can restore faulty ductwork, which will improve both indoor air quality and performance.
  • Dust and vacuum regularly – dust is major allergen, and when trapped inside for the winter, it serves only to aggravate allergies. Weekly vacuuming and dusting can greatly reduce the level of dust in your home.
  • Add some plants – plants help purify the air in your home, taking in contaminants, using them as food, and returning fresh oxygen to the air. Plus, they can also add a pleasing aesthetic to the living spaces of your home.
  • Use a whole-home air cleaner – if you have serious allergy sufferers, or just want to make a big improvement to your home’s indoor air quality, consider the installation of a whole-home air cleaner. Whole-home air cleaners are installed as part of your HVAC system, so they operate automatically.

Keeping your indoor air quality healthy helps keep you and your family healthy. For more indoor air quality tips for your Bergen County home, call the experts at DB Heating & Cooling today.

Why Commercial Building Controls Require a Specialist

January 29th, 2015

When any part of your commercial property’s HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system is not operating properly, it may be because of an error in the commercial control system. Commercial control systems are either electric, electronic, or pneumatic, but any type serves the same function: to control every component of the HVAC system associated with the air handler automatically. Commercial control systems are set up to monitor a number of processes and settings, such as the temperature of the supply and return air, the temperature indoors and outdoors, the humidity in the building, and the air pressure through the vents.

These control systems can help an expert to adjust the supply fan in the ducts, the valves of a hot- or chilled-water system, dampers, or electric heating strips. When one of these doesn’t seem to be working as needed, you may consider attempting to access the controls and make adjustments yourself. However, it’s important that you only allow a professional deal with these systems. This means making sure that your technician is a commercial specialist with experience installing and adjusting large commercial building controls.

There are several reasons that an expert is the best person for the job. For one, commercial building controls can be complicated to understand, and an exclusively residential technician is not familiar with many of the settings and setpoints managed in the control panel. In fact, there may be hundreds of different settings for any single control panel. It’s also best to have a technician who has some preliminary knowledge of the fault codes that may come up upon troubleshooting the system, and who has access to a fault code guidebook, although the malfunctioning part may require a lot of background knowledge to diagnose as well.

Trained technicians take care in replacing sensors, controllers, and safety switches, as they know that the replacement piece can suffer damage from improper handling. They also know the different precautions to take when working with electronic vs. pneumatic systems, for example, and what safety procedures to taking when working with electrical equipment.

The technicians at DB Heating & Cooling are specialists trained in handling commercial HVAC systems including commercial building controls in Bergen County. Call us today. 

How a Humidifier May Benefit You

January 22nd, 2015

We are at the coldest part of the year in Fair Lawn, and you have probably been using your heating system with regularity for some time. Heat can be hard on you and your home, especially if you use a forced air system. One way to add needed moisture back into your home in Fair Lawn during the winter is with a whole-home humidifier.

Why Use a Whole-Home Humidifier?

We all know that too much humidity makes for discomfort, promotes mold and mildew growth and makes everything sticky. Too little humidity also brings its fair share of problems. One such problem is that wood products need humidity; without it, wood becomes too dry and brittle and as a result, can splinter, shrink and break easily. This includes wood trim, wood furniture, wood floors and even walls. A second problem is maintaining heat in the air. Humidity holds heat, which is why excess humidity feels so uncomfortable. When there is too little moisture in the air, it can feel colder inside your home than it is simply because there’s not enough moisture in the air to maintain the heat level. A third set of problems that can develop from a lack of moisture in your home relates to personal health issues. When there isn’t enough moisture in the air, your mucous membranes, including your eyes, nose and throat, can become dry and irritated; this can hamper your ability to stave off infection during the winter months. Your skin can also dry, becoming itchy and uncomfortable. Lastly, viruses and bacteria pass more easily in a dry atmosphere, making it easier to become ill.

How Does a Whole-Home Humidifier Work?

A whole-home humidifier becomes a part of your heating system so it adds moisture seamlessly. You can set the humidity level on your thermostat or on a separate humidistat and the humidifier will do the rest.

If you are starting to see the effects of low humidity in your home, it may be time to consider the installation of a humidifier.

Call the experts at DB Heating & Cooling today and schedule an appointment with one of our indoor air quality specialists.

Can a Furnace Be Used for Ductless Heating?

January 15th, 2015

Ductless heating and cooling has become very popular over recent years, which isn’t surprising as these systems have a number of benefits you can’t get with other types of HVAC systems. However, they do have their limitations, and one limitation is that a ductless system cannot provide heating via a furnace. But don’t be so quick to toss that furnace out! Why? Because an LG ductless mini-split system can act as a back-up heating system for your Bergen County, NJ home.

How Ductless Heating Works

Ductless systems provide heat by utilizing heat pump technology. What this means is that a ductless heating system has a component known as a reversing valve that allows the system to switch between heating and cooling capability. The system is set-up the same as a ductless air conditioning system: an outdoor unit containing the compressor and condenser connects directly to indoor blowers (up to 4) via a conduit placed in an exterior wall. The blowers contain the other necessary parts for heating and cooling, including a fan, coils and a small air filter. Everything needed to heat and cool your home is contained in these components, which is why it isn’t necessary to have ductwork.

Benefits of a Ductless Heating System

There are multiple benefits to be gained from a ductless heating system:

  • Great energy efficiency – heat pumps do not use fossil fuels and on average use about 25% of the electricity of a whole-home air conditioning system to operate, making them very energy efficient.
  • Customized heating – the indoor blowers operate individually, allowing you to customize your home’s heating, very similar to the way a zone control system does.
  • Long lifespan – the average lifespan for a heat pump is 20-25 years; comparatively, a combustion heating system has an average lifespan of 15-20.
  • Very versatile – not only can a ductless system work with an air-source heat pump, it can also work with a geothermal ground-source or water-source heat pump.

If a ductless heating system seems like a good fit for your home, you may want to consider the installation of an LG ductless mini-split system.

The experts at DB Heating & Cooling can help you determine if an LG ductless system is right for your living space, so call us today!

How Do Ducts Become Damaged?

January 8th, 2015

Most ductwork is hidden behind walls, attics and crawlspaces, so it can be hard to know when problems have developed. It can also lead you to wonder: how did this happen? Isn’t the ductwork protected by being inside the house? The answer to this is: not always. And while ductwork has a relatively long lifespan – an average of 30 years – this doesn’t mean it stands soundly for 30 years without any problems. So how can ductwork become damaged? Let’s take a look:

Rust/Corrosion

Most ductwork is metal, and when metal meets any kind of moisture, it can oxidize the metal, creating rust. Excess moisture can come from leaks, humidity and even rain; the problem is that once the corrosion starts, it can be very hard to stop unless it is caught quickly enough. Rust and corrosion can lead to cracks and holes, which can cause your energy bills to soar, among other problems.

Infestations

No one likes to think about critters or insects taking up residence in their ductwork, but it does happen, and fairly frequently. Mice, squirrels and raccoons love to hunker down during winter inside areas like ductwork because it’s warm and protected; insects can be worse because they’ll stay year-round. Not only are these infestations unhealthy for you, they are unhealthy for your ductwork as animals and insects create nests, which can damage the inside of your ductwork.

Collapse

Sections of ductwork can collapse, particularly if there is extensive corrosion that has destroyed the seals. Collapsed ductwork can become bent or dented, and may have to be fully replaced, depending on the level of damage it has sustained.

Damaged ductwork is faulty ductwork, and faulty ductwork isn’t good for you, your home or your heating system. If you are seeing the signs of damaged ductwork, including excess dust, dirt and moisture, strange smells and/or high energy bills, don’t wait to repair your ductwork in Oradell.

Call DB Heating & Cooling today and schedule an appointment with one of our experts.

What Makes Commercial HVAC Service So Different from Residential?

January 2nd, 2015

Licensed contractors will always warn against choosing amateur for heating and air conditioning repair, maintenance, and installation, especially when it comes to commercial HVAC services. Commercial technicians are trained specifically to handle large commercial systems. Now, you may already know that a commercial heating and AC system is generally bigger than a residential unit. But besides that, what makes these systems so different? Why wouldn’t a residential technician be able to handle a commercial unit as well?

The fact is that commercial units aren’t just a little bit bigger in size; they’re much larger and far more complex. Commercial heating and air conditioning systems are designed to heat or cool spaces that have multiple stories or expansive floor plans. This means that many commercial units have a zone control system so that all of the clients, employees, and/or residents in the building can control their areas independently of the others. And while residential homes can have a zone control system installed as well, it’s certainly not as involved as a commercial HVAC system.

The control system alone needed for installing a commercial unit is quite intricate. This contains the gateway from the thermostat to the air conditioning and heating unit and all of the safety devices, zone control ports, and other electrical components involved therein. When a technician comes to service your unit, it should be simple enough to determine which switches manage which components quickly so that the necessary repairs can then be completed, but this is not an easy task for an amateur.

Someone who was never trained on complex commercial units will most likely take a longer time to perform repairs and handle maintenance as they must spend much of the visit searching for the different parts and controls and locating problem areas. And installation is quite a chore for the untrained eye since these systems are not only large and complicated, but they also are designed in a different way than the average residential unit. Residential systems may have an indoor and an outdoor unit, but a commercial system may be packaged, with all of the components, including the air handler, located outside, generally on the roof.

DB Heating & Cooling can take care of any of your professional heating and cooling needs with quality commercial HVAC services in Oradell.

12 Grapes for 12 Months: An Unusual New Year’s Tradition

January 1st, 2015

Across the world, many cultures have specific traditions to celebrate the transition from the old year to the new. In the U.S. and Canada, we associate New Year’s with the ball in Times Square, kissing at the stroke of midnight, resolutions, and singing “Old Lang Syne.” But for many Spanish-speaking countries, one of the key traditions has to do with eating grapes as fast as possible.

The “twelve grapes” tradition comes from Spain, where it is called las doce uvas de la suerte (“The Twelve Lucky Grapes”). To ensure good luck for the next year, people eat one green grape for each of the upcoming twelve months. However, you cannot just eat the grapes during the first day of the new year any time you feel like it. You must eat the twelve grapes starting at the first stroke of midnight on Nochevieja (“Old Night,” New Year’s Eve) as one year changes to another. And you have to keep eating: with each toll of midnight, you must eat another grape, giving you about twelve seconds to consume all of them. If you can finish all dozen grapes—you can’t still be chewing on them!—before the last bell toll fades, you will have a luck-filled new year.

Where did this tradition come from? No one is certain, although it appears to be more than a century old. One story about the Twelve Lucky Grapes is that a large crop of grapes in 1909 in Alicante, Spain led to the growers seeking out a creative way to eliminate their surplus. But recent research through old newspapers shows that perhaps the tradition goes back almost thirty years earlier to the 1880s, where eating grapes was meant to mock the upper classes who were imitating the French tradition of dining on grapes and drinking champagne on New Year’s Eve.

It can be difficult to consume grapes this fast, and the lucky grapes of New Year’s Eve have seeds in them, making the job even trickier. (Seedless grapes are not common in Spain the way they are over here.) For people to manage eating all the grapes before the last stroke of midnight requires swallowing the seeds as well and only taking a single bite of each grape.

Oh, there is one more twist to the tradition: you have to be wearing red undergarments, and they have to be given to you as a gift. The origins of this part of the tradition are even more mysterious, and it’s anybody’s guess why this started.

Whether you go for the grape challenge or find another way to ring in New Year’s, all of us at DB Heating & Cooling hope you have a great start to the year and a fruitful 2015.

The Composition of Snowflakes: Are No Two Alike?

December 25th, 2014

“No two snowflakes are alike.”

This is a statement nearly every schoolchild has heard at least once, either while crafting unique snowflakes with a sheet of folded paper and some scissors or while learning a lesson on the science of snow. While even most scientists don’t quite understand what causes a snowflake to form such complex and beautiful columns and points and branches, one thing is for certain, the composition of snowflakes guarantees that no two will ever be identical.  However, it is possible for two snowflakes to appear to be nearly exactly alike.

A snowflake begins to form when a piece of dust catches water vapor out of the air. Water is created when two hydrogen molecules attach to an oxygen molecule. The two hydrogen molecules are angled from one another in such a way that they form a hexagonal shape when they come together during the freezing process; thus, a snowflake begins as a simple hexagonal shape or as layers of hexagons called diamond dust. The emergent properties that follow from the original hexagon are what differentiate one snowflake from another, as the humidity, the temperature in the air, and many other factors (some of which remain unclear to scientists) allow each snowflake to form in an entirely unique way with a seemingly endless variety of shapes.

However, in 1988, a scientist named Nancy Knight claimed to have located two that were the same while studying snowflakes as part of an atmospheric research project. And it appeared to be so; when put under a microscope, the emergent properties looked nearly identical. But while it is feasible that two snowflakes can appear to be exactly alike on the outside, they are never identical on an atomic level. Deuterium is an atom that appears attached to about one in every 3000 hydrogen molecules in the air. Because there are millions of atoms that make up a snowflake, the random assortment of deuterium in any two snowflakes—even in two that so very closely resemble one another—simply cannot be the same.

Here at DB Heating & Cooling, we’d like to remind you to grab a cup of cocoa and relax with your family this holiday, perhaps by crafting some unique snowflake creations of your own. We wish you a very happy holiday season, from our family to yours!