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Regular heating and air conditioning service: the key to year-round comfort

There’s more to climate control in your home than temperature and humidity. The stabilization of your home’s climate is something that keeps everyone comfortable with no unwelcome changes. To maintain an optimum level, a properly functioning heating and air conditioning system keeps everything within reasonable bounds. Your HVAC equipment needs to be up to the task at all times. Proper maintenance can give you continuous service and avoid problems that many times crop up at the worst possible moment.

Care and Maintenance
First and foremost, it helps if you keep an eye out for things you can do to minimize problems before they occur. The following is a list of maintenance recommendations for the homeowner:

1. Check the outside unit to remove debris like rocks, sticks and leaves.
2. Clean the outside unit of mud, snow and bird droppings.
3. Vacuum the reachable ducts behind the wall filter.
4. Vacuum the coil behind the blower assembly.
5. Vacuum under the inside unit, inside the enclosure.
6. Change the wall filter if you think it might have fouled prematurely.

This is basic but could ward off intermittent problems. Nevertheless, the system is too complicated for anything more, and regular service by a qualified technician is recommended. Most maintenance tasks performed by a technician are done twice a year and include:

1. Replace filters.
2. Clean evaporator and condenser coils.
3. Treat coils with an antimicrobial agent to ward off mold.
4. Check space around air ducts.
5. Inspect fan, bearings and belts.
On an annual basis, leaks in cabinets and the supply duct need to be checked along with dampers. All air ducts should be cleaned at least every two years.

Rewards of Keeping up Regular Service
Proper heating and air conditioning service can have a positive effect on your family’s health. When the filters and ducts are clean, allergens and unwanted dust are kept out. Dirt buildup in an HVAC system is a culprit in many respiratory diseases. Also of critical importance is energy efficiency. A poorly maintained HVAC system works harder to move hot or cold air and costs more. Clogged filters can pass contaminated mold-inducing air. Emergency cleaning causes a drain on your budget.

Another energy-wasting practice is improper control of your home’s temperature. Waiting until everyone is shivering or sweating before turning on the system makes it work harder in heating or cooling as it attempts to match the temperature you’ve set. Even playing with the settings can cause the machinery to turn on and off unnecessarily. Your best bet is to set a comfortable temperature and let the system make minute adjustments to maintain a high level of comfort.

Tile flooring adds charm and minimizes upkeep

Tile flooring is durable. It can provide almost unlimited options in the type of tile used. Tile flooring also enjoys an ample variety of designs. It can be as simple or complex as you desire. There are tiles that can last forever and others that are less durable but offer price advantages and flexibility in replacement.

Although kitchens and bathrooms are ideal areas for tile flooring due to tile’s resistance to water and spills, other parts of your home can benefit from tile. With children or heavy traffic, tile makes sense given its superior resistance to tracking of mud, water and spills of all kinds. Costs can vary widely. Consider the following:

  1. Vinyl tile is economical and among the easiest to install. It resists spills, but its relative softness can suffer wear and tear due to scuffing and acidic spills. It costs $3-$7 per sq. ft.
  2. Ceramic tile is more expensive and requires greater attention when installing, considering evenness and possible grouting concerns. In its native form it tends to be somewhat porous. It can also be subject to breakage but individual tiles can be replaced. It costs $8-$15 per sq. ft.
  3. Glazed ceramic tiles add a glassy and tough protection to your floors. They come in a wide variety of patterns and designs. When it comes to cost, glazed ceramic tile flooring varies in price due to hardness. On a scale of one to five, glazed ceramic tiles work best at grade III and above. The entire pricing gamut runs from $1-$10 per sq. ft.
  4. Porcelain tile flooring is a tougher version of glazed ceramic tiles since its higher glazing temperature adds extra strength. The process doesn’t allow as wide a range of design as glazed ceramic tiles. It comes in at the higher end of the $1-$10 range.

Installation costs can run $5-$10 per sq. ft. so a do it yourself effort can be tempting. In many cases an even floor surface makes DIY possible especially for vinyl and ceramic tiles that don’t require grouting. You’ll need mastic and tools to carry it out, and getting a smooth overall surface can be daunting. A professional can bring the installation near to perfection and provide a guarantee. Seating ceramic tiles can be difficult, and grouting takes special care in adding and finishing.

For cleaning and maintenance, vacuuming is recommended to pick up solid matter. Mopping with plain water works well for everyday practice. If stains and spots don’t come off easily, consider using pH neutral commercial cleaners. Baking soda and water make a good home-made cleaner for spot removal and cleaning grout. If grout won’t clean well, you can check with a home improvement store or a professional in extreme cases.