Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Get Your Garden In Gear

With Spring in the air, the time is right to plan your garden. And if you don’t have a garden, maybe you should get one. Landscaping improves the value and appearance of your home, and gardening itself is as rewarding as a home improvement project can get.
So, where do you begin?

Fertilize - Spring is the right time to take care of this important chore. Fertilize spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils, hyacinths, and tulips to prolong the blooming period. Fertilizing young trees and shrubs will encourage growth. And don’t forget your lawn and houseplants also need a good dose.

Prepare flower beds - Till the soil and remove dead plant material - and that goes for winter mulch too.

Control weeds - Get your weeds under control before they control you! In Spring they’re right about to put down deep roots or go to seed. Apply “Pre-emergent” weed control according to label. Mulches can help too. Use a hoe to cut off weeds at the roots.

Control pest and disease - Keep insects from feasting on all your hard work. There are control products for almost every problem you may encounter. Thank goodness!

Take care of your lawn - Thick lawn growth looks great and also helps control weeds. If it’s thinning, reseed. And get the fertilizer out. While you’re at it, make sure your mower is in good working order. If you have an irrigation system, look for any broken heads, cracked pipes, or worn hoses.

Prune - (And I don’t mean the wrinkly fruit.) There’s lots to do in this area. Prune branches to clear out dead wood or overcrowding. Prune evergreens to reduce size or maintain shape. Prune young trees before they leaf out - but prune spring flowering shrubs after they bloom.

Plant seeds and bulbs - Now is a good time for planting perennials, including Shasta Daisies, Lupine Primrose, Columbine, Poppies, and many others. Another good option is ornamental grasses - perennials that thrive in nearly any soil and look great next to colorful annuals. Annuals like impatiens and begonias grow just about anywhere, require little maintenance and bloom all season.

Tend to your roses - Proper pruning encourages new growth, while feeding them now will help ensure good flowering. Use a rose food with a systemic insecticide to control the bug problem.

Remember Houseplants - If you haven’t got enough to do so far, remember to prune and fertilize your houseplants.

If this is your first year for gardening, don’t be overwhelmed. Start slow. As you watch it grow, your enthusiasm will grow right along with it!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Enjoy Your Indoor Air

In spring, many people fear the outside air, due to pollen and other seasonal allergy irritants.  What many people do not realize is that indoor air pollutants may be even worse.  They include pollen, molds, fungal spores, viruses, bacteria, smoke, gas combustion by-products, outgassing from carpets, furniture, plywood, and drywall, cleaning supplies and other personal care items, pet dander, dust mites and their feces and body fragments, cockroach body parts, and more.  Disgusting! 
Worse, it’s unhealthy.  Over 50 million Americans suffer from allergies and 20 million have asthma. Tighter building envelopes in the quest for greater energy efficiency are making things worse. We spend most of our time indoors, surrounded by the indoor air pollutants.  The larger pollutants, less than 10 microns, are caught in our throats (by comparison, a human hair is 30 to 120 microns in diameter). Smaller pollutants are inhaled into our lungs where they can remain trapped for years.
There are four principle ways to fight indoor air pollution and improve filtration in your home. These are source control, ventilation, air filters, and air cleaners.
Source Control - The starting point for a home indoor air quality strategy is source control. It makes sense. If you can control a pollutant before it becomes airborne, you’re ahead of the game. Source control strategies include the use of low emission paints, varnishes, and carpeting, no smoking, no pets, maintaining optimum humidity levels, regular cleaning, and regular servicing of combustion appliances, such as furnaces.  Unfortunately, you cannot always control pollutant sources.
Ventilation - After source control comes fresh air ventilation. According to the EPA, the air inside your home is far worse than outside air.  Yet, when it’s really hot or really cold, who’s going to open the windows?  It’s uncomfortable and unaffordable.
There is a solution for some homes that improves fresh ventilation without the comfort or energy costs.  It’s called an energy recovery ventilator.  Not only can it improve air quality, it can actually reduce utilities in certain circumstances.
Air Filters –Has your air quality remained the same, even after the installation of that expensive filter?  All filters have a “pressure drop,” or amount of resistance.  Even cheap throw-away filters can become problematic if not changed on a regular basis.  As dirt collects on the filter, the pressure drop rises. Far worse than low cost throw-away filters are the high pressure drop filters, which have pressure drops of 0.35” w.g. or higher (some have pressure drops exceeding 0.5” w.g. by themselves). Homeowners buy expensive filters because they want to improve the air quality and comfort in their homes.  Ironically, the filters often make things worse.
Look inside the panel of a furnace or blower for a central air conditioning system and you will find the manufacturer’s rating label.  Typically, one of the ratings is “Total ESP.”  Total ESP stands for Total External Static Pressure. When the Total External Static Pressure is exceeded in a home comfort system, the fan slows. When the fan slows, there are a couple of possible consequences.  First, there may not be sufficient air flow to ensure enough air is delivered to the end of the longest duct runs.  When this occurs, these rooms may feel stuffy and too hot or cold, even though the temperature is comfortable elsewhere. Second, the air flow passing over the evaporator coil may be insufficient to ensure proper dehumidification. If the evaporator coil doesn’t fully dehumidify, it and/or the surrounding plenum box can become a breeding ground for bacteriological growth and contaminants.
Fortunately, the HVAC industry has a number of excellent solutions for homeowners who want better filtration than the minimal amount found with a throw-away filter, but do not want the comfort or bacteriological problems of a high pressure drop filter. These include residential HEPA (high efficiency particulate arresting) filters, deep pleated media air filters, and electronic air cleaners.

Air Cleaning - The fourth way to fight indoor air pollution is air cleaning.  Do not buy the cheap tabletop and gadget air cleaners you hear advertised.  They are a waste of money.  According to an American Lung Association® report, “The reviewed data provide little reason to endorse the use of inexpensive tabletop, appliance-type air cleaners, regardless of the technology they employ. In general, high-efficiency particle collection requires larger filters or electronic air cleaners.”
We recommend a whole-house approach with a duct mounted UV light and either a HEPA filtration system or an electronic air cleaner. The installed cost of an electronic air cleaner is roughly 30 cents a day over the life of the air cleaner. What’s appropriate for your home depends on your budget, comfort system, and family.  To explore all your options give us a call (757) 421-9790.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012



We get asked a wide range of questions from our customers. People don’t always know what we can do for them, what our policies are, where to save money, etc. In this newsletter, we thought we would include a few of the most common ones…

How much will a repair cost?

People want a price over the phone.  We understand. However, we really can’t say until we take a look at your home. Some people can give us exact details over the phone. Others describe one problem and when we arrive, we discover something else entirely. Even when the problem is correctly described, it may only be a symptom of another problem. For a doctor, prescription without diagnosis is malpractice. That’s true for us as well.

Will you match another company’s price?

At All Seasons Heating and Cooling we realize that some competitors promote the lowest price. We are more interested in offering a fair price. We’re professionals offering a professional service, not some fly-by-night.  We have been serving our customers for over 22 years and plan on being around for a long time. To do that, we need to guarantee our work. We do. We do not cut corners. We use high quality parts and supplies that last. We treat our customers like members of our family. To reduce a price, we have to take something out of the job. Possibly, we can do this by reducing skill levels or eliminating an accessory item, but we refuse to compromise on quality or service.  We take your safety and comfort very seriously.

What if the work takes longer than expected?

No worries. We guarantee all of our prices before work begins. We use an up-front pricing system and will not tack on any surprise fees for overtime or extra manpower.

Can you come on the weekend?

Yes. Our technicians work rotating schedules 7 days a week. We realize many of our customers work on weekdays and we want to make our services available to them as well. And don’t worry – Just like we don’t believe in charging based on the amount of time a job takes, we also don’t believe in charging more for repairs on the weekends or outside of standard work hours.

What’s the single best thing you can do to help me reduce my impact on the environment?

We recommend a precision tune up twice a year, during the spring and fall (or 6 months apart), to ensure your system is prepared for months with extreme highs or lows in temperature. Regular precision tune ups will extend the life of your equipment, improve efficiency, comfort, and help prevent costly major repairs by catching small issues before they become major ones. Not to mention, with the money that you could be saving in utilities each month, the tune ups will pay for themselves. Great for the environment and your wallet!

Tune ups are universal. Everyone needs them every year. Other recommendations will vary based on your home and situation. If you plan on staying in your house for years, it might make sense to renovate your duct system, replace your cooling system, or replace your heating system.

Are there other ways you can help me save money each month?

Installing a programmable thermostat can help you better regulate the temperature in your home when you aren’t at home or are asleep. Turning the thermostat up or down just a few degrees can help immensely with energy savings. A programmable thermostat automates the process. The thermostat doesn’t forget.

Can you fix X?

At All Seasons Heating and Cooling we offer a large assortment of home comfort services. We can install, service, repair, or replace humidifiers, dehumidifiers, air purification systems, air filters, air cleaners, carbon monoxide detectors, everything related to your ducts, attic insulation, attic ventilation, air conditioners, heat pumps, furnaces, thermostats, zoning systems, garage heaters, and more.

What is happening with refrigerant?

The base refrigerant for residential air conditioning systems has been R-22. This is being phased out due to its purported impact on the ozone layer. As a result, it’s getting very expensive. The replacement refrigerant is R-410a. It’s a good refrigerant, but is not compatible with R-22 and operates at a much higher pressure. It requires a totally new air conditioning system inside and outside your home. These systems cost more, but are much more efficient than past systems so you will save significant money on your electrical bills each month.

If you have additional questions, or if you are interested in one of the services we provide, please call us today at (757) 421-9790. We can help you achieve the comfort level that you have been looking for.