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The Rinaldi's Blog

by Scott Hudson, Vice-President

Is Your Home Ready for Winter Power Outages?

With the frequency and energy of storms Central Florida receives, power outages may occur at any time locally or may have widespread impact across the region. When the lights flicker off during cooler winter weather, you’ll be happy that you were prepared. Here are some tips to help you prepare for the next power outage in your home. Preparing for Power Outages Wind-driven storms have knocked out power for days and weeks across Central Florida in the past. So, make a plan and preparedness pack that will make life easier and safer under extreme conditions. Following are items to include in your preparedness kit: You may need several working flashlights and batteries. Glow sticks and glow bracelets don’t require batteries, and they last hours. Include a good first-aid pack in your preparedness kit. A battery-operated radio may come in handy. Packages of moist wipes can help with hygiene and cleaning. Storing and Preparing Food You never know how long a power outage may last. So, store enough food and water to provide adequate nourishment for one month or more for everyone in your home. Some of the water may be stored in your refrigerator and freezer. Cold water and ice will help sustain perishables and any medications longer. While consuming canned foods without heating may be safe, you probably want to have some source for heating and cooking food. If you have a fire pit or BBQ grill, make sure you’re always stocked with wood, propane and/or charcoal. Keeping Warm Central Floridians enjoy milder winter weather, as far as temperatures are concerned, compared to many other regions of the... read more

The Most Important Areas of Your House for Ventilation

You can’t have home comfort and health without reliable, effective heating and air conditioning, but that’s only part of the story. Modern homes, built more airtight than ever, also require effective air exchange to make sure indoor air doesn’t become stuffy, stale and unhealthy. This involves a combination of mechanical ventilation and strategically placed vents. In the old days, planned ventilating strategies weren’t as necessary since most homes had incidental air exchange. In other words, they had enough gaps, cracks and other openings to allow a constant exchange of indoor and outdoor air. This also made them harder to heat, however. With increases in energy costs in recent years, along with a vigorous focus on energy efficiency, home construction has become much tighter. Without planned ventilation, indoor air quality can suffer badly. Examples of residential ventilating strategies include bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans, attic fans and vents, and whole-house mechanical ventilation. In the bathroom, an exhaust fan removes bad smells and contaminants as well as moisture. The kitchen exhaust fan, usually part of the stove-oven set-up, removes smells that result from cooking and food preparation. These exhaust systems make your home a more pleasant place but also a healthier one. Ventilating the attic is essential, especially in the summer when the hot sun shining on the roof all day can turn the attic into an oven. Strategically located vents, along with a powerful attic fan in some cases, will remove that heat, keeping it from transferring into living spaces below. For effective air exchange on a whole-house basis, supply-only and balanced ventilation systems are popular. For example, Heat Recovery... read more

It Could Be Time to Upgrade Your Electrical Wiring

The demand for electricity in your house has almost certainly evolved over the years while the electrical wiring inside your walls probably hasn’t. Every new electrical device or high-tech convenience added to your home also adds to the load your wiring has to carry. Houses built just 25 years ago typically came with an electrical panel and wiring rated for only 60 to 100 amps. Today, the standard is 150 amps and many new houses are wired for far more. To keep up with this increasing demand–as well as maintain safety and reliability–it may be time to consider upgrading your electrical wiring into the 21st century. Here are some questions to ask and answer to help you make that decision: Do you have aluminum wiring? A qualified electrician can tell you. Many houses built in the 1960s and 1970s incorporated aluminum wiring which has since been determined to pose a home safety issue due to the risk of shorts and fire. Rewiring with copper is recommended by the Consumer Products Safety Commission. Is the system overloaded? Circuit breakers that trip or other power outages due to excessive electrical demand shouldn’t simply be put up with. Neither should symptoms like dimming lights when certain devices turn on or excessive reliance on outlet strips or extension cords because all available outlets are jammed. These issues are not only an inconvenience, they can also present safety hazards. Are your outlets out of date? Still living with old-fashioned two-prong wall outlets? All homes should have grounded three-prong outlets. Also, outlets in kitchens, bathrooms and other areas should have special ground-fault circuit protection, as... read more

Furnace on the Fritz? Learn How to Troubleshoot

Winter is pretty moderate here in Orlando, but we do get those occasional cold fronts when we need to crank up the heat. Although furnaces are generally a very reliable means of heating, things can go wrong, particularly if you don’t get regular annual preventative maintenance. But before you pick up the phone to call a technician, there are a few furnace troubleshooting procedures you can follow. Are the controls set to “heat” and “on” or “auto”? You’d be surprised how many calls we get and when we arrive, we find the furnace is turned off. Is the electricity on? Check your other appliances; if they’re off, call the electricity company or a neighbor to see if it’s just you or the neighborhood. Is the breaker off? Check the breaker panel. If the one to the furnace is off, turn off the furnace, then flip the breaker. Is the gas off? Check other gas appliances, or check the home’s gas valve. Is the air filter dirty? A dirty air filter can actually cause the system to shut down to prevent overheating. For furnaces that don’t have this sensor, you may notice the airflow is slower and the heat output less. In either case, check the filter and change it if necessary. Check the thermostat. Is the heat on high enough for the furnace to come on? Is the thermostat working? Depending on the type of furnace, check the batteries and change them, or check to see if the wires are connected. The thermostat may be malfunctioning and require replacement. Furnaces built over the last 25 years have a window... read more

These Signs Mean You’re Working With a Quality HVAC Business

Finding the right HVAC consultant can be challenging. Whether you’re planning an HVAC replacement or just looking for someone to do repairs, you know that the costs can be high. That means you need a company that’s trustworthy and that won’t give you the runaround. So how do you go about hiring a quality HVAC consultant who gives good customer service? What to Look for in an HVAC Company Look for these signs that an HVAC company is reputable. Licensed contractor In Florida, HVAC contractors must be licensed. Do not hire anyone without a current contractor’s license. Insured and bonded A reputable company should carry insurance in case mishaps occur, so that you are protected. Longevity A company that has been around for a while can demonstrate that they have been providing satisfactory service to customers for many years. Ask for references, and check them. Professional-looking website and phone contact When you make contact with the company, be it by phone or email, the response should be courteous, quick and professional. Products meet EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) standards A reputable company will be up on the latest environmental standards and will ensure that the products they sell and install meet these standards. Good reviews Although you have to be a bit skeptical about online reviews on sites such as Yelp, you can usually get an idea of how reputable a company is by carefully studying the content of the reviews. Look for particular details and ask the contractor about the reviews during the interview process. Technicians make a good impression A good HVAC company should have well-trained, certified technicians... read more

How to Control Dust All Over Your Home

You don’t have to suffer from allergies to be affected or disgusted by common household dust. When you consider all of the possible ingredients in dust, however, such as dead skin cells, dust mite parts, mold spores, fiberglass, vermin waste particles and more, controlling dust in your Orlando home becomes quite important. Following are great tips to control dust and more information how your HVAC system can help! Air Filter Your heat pump’s air filter can be an ally or adversary for controlling dust. If you clean or change your filter regularly, it’s a great help for removing dust and other contaminants when your home heating or home cooling is running. If you use a disposable fiberglass filter, dispose of it. Instead, use a mid- or high-efficiency filter rated MERV 8 to 12. Electronic Air Cleaners Whole-house electronic air cleaners are installed inside your HVAC system, and they use an electrostatic field and metal plates to charge, attract and capture dust and many other harmful airborne contaminants. So, if you want a silent, simple and efficient manner to control the dust in your home, talk to your HVAC professional about electronic air cleaners. Seal Air Leaks Preventing airborne contaminants from entering your home in the first place improves indoor-air quality, and it makes your home more energy efficient. Windows: Use a thin line of caulk to stop leaky window frames. Rope caulk is great to use indoors for windows that are seldom opened. Weatherstripping of various materials, such as foam or plastic V-seal, used along sashes stop air leaks and allow windows to open and close freely. Doors: Door... read more