ACI Northwest Blog : Archive for December, 2014

Why Do We Hang Up Mistletoe?

Thursday, December 25th, 2014

Of course, you probably know part of the answer to this question already. You hang up mistletoe so that the people standing underneath can share a romantic holiday kiss! But what you may not realize is that the origin of this longstanding ritual predates many of the other holiday traditions we celebrate today. Why would a plant that has many poisonous varieties (most types sold for use in the home have few negative effects, but you can wrap it in netting to prevent children from consuming any fallen berries or leaves) be used as a symbol of holiday affection?

There are a couple of ways to explain the positive associations of (potentially hazardous) mistletoe. For one, this semi-parasitic plant has long been hailed as a treatment for illnesses and pain. The ancient Greeks and Romans used it to cure cramps, epilepsy, and more. Even today, mistletoe extracts are one of the leading alternative medicines studied for their effectiveness in killing cancer cells. And because the early Celtic Druids saw it as a sign of healing and life, they may be the first to bestow upon the plant its romantic associations, deeming it worthy of treating the infertile.

But it is Norse mythology that is likely responsible for a majority of the modern traditions associated with this small hanging bunch. One of the powerful Norse god Odin’s sons, named Baldur, was said to be invincible due to an oath his mother took to protect him from harm. But Loki, a god who often set out to make trouble for the gods, set out to find the one thing that could do some damage, and eventually discovered that Baldur’s mother Frigg had never included mistletoe in her invincibility oath. When mistletoe was finally responsible for her son’s demise, the grieving Frigg vowed that the plant would never again be used to hurt another living thing, and that she would plant a peaceful kiss upon anyone who walked underneath it.

And that is one of the reasons that, today, kissing under the mistletoe is viewed as a source of good luck. From our family to yours, we wish you a safe holiday season, and we hope that you and your family are full of joy and good fortune—mistletoe or not! Happy holidays from ACI Northwest!

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What’s at Risk with a Poor Furnace Installation?

Friday, December 19th, 2014

Today’s furnaces are very energy efficient and durable – but you won’t see these benefits or be comfortable in your home if your furnace isn’t installed correctly. Any home heating system should always be installed by a trained and certified professional to ensure proper installation. Multiple problems and even some risks can develop when your furnace isn’t installed correctly. If you are ready for a new heating installation and have chosen a furnace, take the next right step and hire a trained expert from ACI Northwest to install your new system.

Problems with Poor Installation

Here are some examples of problems that can develop when your furnace is installed poorly:

  • Fuel leaks – combustion furnaces have to be connected to a fuel source in order to work. Should this connection be performed incorrectly, you could be looking at issues with fuel leaks. Any kind of fuel leakage is a serious problem, and one that won’t occur with a trained expert.
  • Electrical issues – if you have an electric furnace, the furnace needs to draw considerable power from your home’s electrical box, so it will have to be connected to the electrical box by a breaker. If the breaker isn’t installed correctly, or is too small, it will trip constantly, affecting the operation of your electric furnace.
  • Problems with ductwork – furnaces need to be connected directly to your ductwork so that the heat can be blown into your home. This connection has to be sealed so that the air can make it through the ductwork as needed. If this connection isn’t made correctly, or the connection isn’t sealed, you could lose a great deal of heating.
  • Poor energy efficiency – if the system is installed incorrectly, it may not work as it is supposed to. This can put stress on the system, which forces it to work harder. Anytime a heating system works harder, it uses more energy.

Working with a trained expert from start to finish helps ensure that your furnace will be installed correctly and work just as it should. If you need help with your heating installation in Spokane, call ACI Northwest today!

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What Are the Best Kinds of Flooring for a Radiant Heating System?

Friday, December 12th, 2014

Radiant heating systems are a great option for heating your home, especially if you’re looking for a more energy efficient option than traditional forced air systems. Unlike forced air systems, however, radiant heating forces some considerations beyond the heating system itself. Let’s examine how radiant heating is affected by flooring, and what you should do about it.

Why Does Flooring Matter?

Before we get into the best flooring options for radiant heating systems, it might help to discuss why flooring matters in the first place. Unlike forced air systems, radiant heating systems utilize a network of hot water pipes to transport heat throughout the house. These pipes are mainly installed in the subfloor of a room, though other areas like walls are possible as well.

The type of flooring matters because the heat from the system is transmitted through the floor to get into the room. This means that if the flooring is more or less conducive to heat, the system itself will be more or less effective.

What Kinds of Flooring Work Best?

Technically, any kind of flooring could work with a radiant heating system. That doesn’t mean that all flooring types work equally well, however. Generally, you’ll want to pick flooring that is more conducive to heat, making it more able to transmit the heat from the pipes to the room. Stone is a good choice, as is ceramic and even concrete. All of these materials conduct heat quite well, although they will take longer to warm up than lighter materials.

Hardwood can work, as can LVT or LVP (Luxury Vinyl Tile and Luxury Vinyl Plank). The problem with those last three is that they will contract and expand with the heat from the pipes, which can warp your floor. There are ways to mitigate this problem, but it will take some extra steps from whoever is installing your floors. Carpet is just about the only flooring option that really shouldn’t be considered with radiant heating. Carpet is designed to insulate a room, repelling heat instead of absorbing it. This makes it a particularly bad choice for radiant heating, as it will work at cross-purposes.

If you’d like to know more about radiant heating, call ACI Northwest. Our heating experts cover all of Spokane.

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Common Problems with Furnace Air Handlers

Friday, December 5th, 2014

All furnaces have air handlers, also known as blowers, which push the warm air into your home. These large fans have several moving parts, so at some point during your ownership, you may have to repair your blower. A number of problems can develop with your furnace air handler, so it’s best to allow a trained technician handle any problem that may develop with your blower. The experts at ACI Northwest can handle any heating repair you may have, so if you are experiencing a problem with your heating, call us today!

Common Blower Problems

Here are some of the more common problems our technicians see regarding furnace air handlers:

  • Worn/broken belts – it is important that your blower rotate at the rate is was made to in order to maintain proper air flow; the fan belt is a critical part of this process. When the belt becomes loose, wears out or breaks, it needs to be replaced. Wearing belts may make a screeching noise, so if you hear this sound, call for a technician.
  • Problems with fan blades – fan blades can become loose or even break during use. While your fan can still operate with a bent or broken blade, they can cause damage to other parts of your system.
  • Motor issues – your motor can overheat, experience electrical problems or loose lubrication, which can cause the moving parts to grind. Sometimes fan motors can be repaired, but other times replacement may be required.
  • Electrical problems – relays, frayed or corroded wiring or a stuck limit switch can cause electrical problems that affect the operation of the fan and motor. It can be challenging to locate an electrical issue, so it’s best to allow a trained expert to detect the problem and repair it.

If your furnace is turning on but you find yourself without heat or with a serious decrease in the volume of heat coming into your home, you may have an issue with your air handler. It’s always best to have a professional handle any repairs you have. Call ACI Northwest to schedule heating repair service in Spokane today!

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