Portable heater buying guide for Phoenix

Taking the edge off the chill in a room or two by relying on a portable heater is a time-tested way to increase comfort when temperatures drop. While it’s effective, it’s not the most economical approach, since these heaters use far more electricity than the central heating and cooling system.

Cold rooms often indicate something’s amiss with the central heating and cooling system, and a portable heater is a good way to provide heat on a temporary basis.

Types

A portable heater that uses electricity for heating is safer than unvented combustion heaters to use indoors. You’ll find electric heaters as

  • Towers
  • Boxy fan heaters
  • Radiator-style heaters
  • Parabolics
  • Pedestals

Safety Is Essential with a Portable Heater

  • More important than their shape, however, is their safety. If you have children or pets, choose a radiator-style portable heater. Even on high, it won’t get hot enough to burn tender skin. Regardless of the style, the heater should bear the UL (Underwriter’s Laboratory) label on its cord and packaging.
  • The heater should have an automatic shutoff switch in case it tips or falls over.
  • Avoid unvented gas, propane, or kerosene heaters altogether. You’re putting your safety in the hands of oxygen sensors and anti-tip switches that can fail.

Convenient Features to Consider

  • Thermostats on the heaters help you regulate the temperature in the room. It could be as simple as a dial that indicates low, medium and high heat.
  • Timers are not only convenient, they’re energy savers. Should you forget to turn off the heater off, the timer will do it for you.
  • Handles or wheels. Handles make moving them from room to room easier and more convenient.

Energy Efficient Options

There is no such thing as an energy efficient portable heater. The heater is likely to cost much more than heating the room with a heat pump or gas furnace will. Unless it’s a temporary measure, instead of investing in space heaters and paying top dollar for heating, consider using that money to find the cause behind those cold rooms.

The problem might lie with your HVAC system unless it’s inadequate insulation or a large air leak. A cold room in winter translates to a hot one in the summer. If the furnace isn’t working right, odds are the A/C won’t either. Investing the money into fixing the problem will pay you back now and in the summer with lower conditioning bills and a much more comfortable home.

Ductwork Issues

Although it could be a mechanical problem, more often than not, inadequate heating in a particular area is associated with ductwork design imbalances or distribution problems. Depending on the material from which they’re constructed, ductwork sections can break apart, kink, clog with excessive debris, or tear. Ductwork problems can occur at any time and homes of all ages are vulnerable.

Any of these signs can indicate ductwork leaks:

  • Cold temperatures in one or more rooms that are close together.
  • Dust or dirt that collects near a register cover on the wall or ceiling.
  • Low air pressure coming from the duct in a room when the HVAC system runs.

Leaking ducts waste tremendous amounts of energy since the air leaks into places where you don’t need it.

If you’d like more information about identifying HVAC issues that might be compelling you to use a portable heater for cold rooms, contact Forrest Anderson. We want to get people’s units working correctly so they’ll save money and have a unit that works all year round.

Worst foods for the garbage disposal

One of the hardest working tools in your kitchen is the garbage disposal. These machines are often abused and expected to chop all kinds of food into small pieces. You will quickly discover that there are foods for the garbage disposal that are harmful to it. If you treat your garbage disposal the way you should, it is far less likely to break down on you. Here are a few tips about the worst foods for the garbage disposal.

Big Piles of Anything

One of the most certain ways to break this essential appliance is to stuff large pieces of leftover food down it. Smaller pieces will fare much better in your garbage disposal. Take the time to put items down it in small quantities.

Egg Shells

There is some controversy about putting egg shells down the kitchen sink. Some people think it is okay, but even these innocent looking items can cause a problem. The shredder ring of the disposal can become cluttered and damaged from the membrane of egg shells. If you have a septic tank, forget about putting these into the sink. Egg shells cannot be broken down by the bacterium in your septic tank.

Vegetables and Fruit with High Fibers

Stringy items like asparagus, celery, and corn husks have fibers that might wrap around the blades and moving parts of the disposal. Do not set aside these foods for the garbage disposal unless you want to have a headache, a mess, and if you are interested in calling us to fix any problems.

Used Coffee Grounds

You can find some people to advise that running coffee grounds through a disposal is good for it. While it will not hurt the appliance, it may create a sludgy mess and clog up your kitchen pipes. Coffee grounds are not foods for the garbage disposal.

Peels and Skins

You may already know better than to put banana peels or onion skins down into the sink. These items are very likely to get caught in the moving parts of your disposal. They do not break down easily, and can also clog pipes.

Pits and Bones

Fruit and avocado pits are not foods for the garbage disposal either. They are thick seeds that take a long time to grind, so it is better to put them into a compost pile or throw them in the trash. Bones will fragment if you try to grind them, and this is likely to shorten the life of the disposal. Even if the bones were to pass through to the pipes, they can become lodged instead of passing through. This will cause your pipes to gather debris and clog.

Grease and Fat

Do not make the mistake of thinking that grease and fat are foods for the garbage disposal. They may pass through the grinder blades just fine, but your pipes are in for trouble when they harden and clog the way.

Worst Foods for the Garbage Disposal

If your garbage disposal stops working, or your drain and pipes become clogged, contact Forrest Anderson for help. We are also happy to help you prevent trouble, and discuss with you which are proper foods for the garbage disposal.

Common gas fireplace problems

Due to the nature of gas being dangerous, we don’t recommend you repair gas fireplace problems on your own. Fixing your gas fireplace problems on your own is very dangerous, gas can be deadly, so please call us if you need help. When working with natural gas, it’s often best to leave it to the professionals at Forrest Anderson.

Here are some common gas fireplace problems we see.

The Underlying Piping

If there is no ignition or if you smell something that you believe may be natural gas, this is not one of the gas fireplace problems you should attempt to fix on your own. Identifying natural gas is easy because it smells of sulfur or “rotten eggs.” If you see obstructions in the piping, they can cause little or no flow of gas. If there is an odor, immediately deactivate the valve and vent your home. Then call the professionals at Forrest Anderson Plumbing & Air Conditioning.

Gas Valve

If there is no ignition and you do not smell any natural gas, the problem may be as simple as a closed gas valve. You can usually identify if the valve is open because the handle will be in line with the pipe. Most modern valves are 90-degree valves, which means opening and closing them is done with a simple quarter turn.

Thermopile

A thermopile is a modern type of sensor that generates the voltage necessary to ignite the natural gas. This is similar to the spark plugs in a car’s engine. If the burner is sluggish, or if it does not ignite at all, your thermopile may not be providing enough electricity due to an issue with the wiring. Loose wiring, wiring of insufficient size, or wiring that is damaged may be the cause.

Thermocouple

In older systems, a thermocouple is a simple metal rod between the gas valve and burning pilot flame. When there is a need to ignite the gas, the thermocouple is the go-to part. In many cases, if the thermocouple is the source of a problem, it may need to be positioned correctly or replaced.

Burner

The burner consists of a set of circuitry with a set level of voltage, a pilot light orifice, and a set of burner jets. In some cases, the burner may simply have a bad thermostat setting or a dirty pilot light orifice. In other cases, dirt build-up may have gotten into the burner jets, and cleaning them may be the solution. Cleaning the burners is the general response if there is a roaring sound.

Sounds From the Blower

In some cases, your gas fireplace may emit bizarre sounds. The system can rumble, it can roar, or it can even grind or shriek. The blower may need replacement if there are sounds like grinding or shrieks.

Soot Build-up

If there is an abundance of soot built up, air flow may be the problem. You may need less gas flow and more air flow. There may be a mixing valve on your fireplace or a vent to allow in more air. Doing this every so often produces a bluish flame, but tends to remove the soot.

Pilot Light

In many kinds of gas fireplaces, the system does not require any electricity to ignite. However, the pilot light going out will cause the fireplace to stop igniting. You can easily relight the pilot if this happens.

Still, Have Gas Fireplace Problems?

At Forrest Anderson, we don’t service the actual fireplace. We’re often called where there is an underlying gas issue, or you want to run new gas lines. If you need assistance with gas lines or valves, call Forrest Anderson Plumbing & Air Conditioning.

 

What foods can go down the garbage disposal?

Garbage disposals keep a significant amount of food out of landfills. They do this without wasting a lot of water or spending extra money on electricity. When you follow the garbage disposal rules listed below, you allow lots of food particles to move quickly through the sewer systems. That food then becomes fertilizer and is partially reclaimed as water, from the water content in fruit chunks, for example. Naturally, these garbage disposal rules were made to avoid damaging your garbage disposal.

Garbage Disposal Rule #1 – Cold Water

One of the most critical garbage disposal rules is always to begin and conclude with cold water. Doing this beforehand ensures the disposal is reasonably free of particles that may put stress on the motor. During operation, your garbage disposal will get hot if you do not have cold water running over it.

Running the cold water for at least an additional 10 to 15 seconds after you have turned off the garbage disposal will both flush away any extra particles and ensure that the unit has some time to cool down. Air alone will not allow the unit to cool down properly and can result in prematurely damaging the motor.

Garbage Disposal Rule #2 – Soft Foods a Baby Can Eat

Among the most important and general garbage disposal rules is that if a baby could not eat it, you should not put it down the garbage disposal. Fibrous foods are out, as are larger chunks of food. Only soft foods should go down the garbage disposal, as the motor can quickly get caught on anything with fibers. Anything substantial can quickly and easily dull the blades. As well, larger items need to be broken down because they can become too much for the motor to handle at once.

Garbage Disposal Rule #3 – Chopped Particles

Another garbage disposal rule is that you should chop up anything before putting it into the disposal. Even reasonably soft items can cause the motor to over-work because larger pieces can double up and become more rigid. The higher the level of rigidity an object has, the more stress it will put on the motor. Anything that cannot be chopped, such as coffee grounds or other gritty materials, should be thrown away.

Garbage Disposal Rule #4 – Dish Soap

While dish soap is not a food item, dropping some into your garbage disposal every now and again is beneficial. As the disposal works, bits of things tend to stick to the blades. Over time, these can cause the blades to become duller, or can even chip them and make the motor have to work that much harder to function. As well, the smell of old foodstuffs can cause your drain to smell bad because water alone may not be enough.

Garbage Disposal Rule #5 – Alternative Ice Cubes

Sometimes bits of food get stuck in your garbage disposal’s blades, and they need to be removed. Attempting to scrub the blades could be dangerous and is very difficult. For this reason, putting regular ice cubes down the drain can be helpful. As well, making ice cubes out of vinegar, lemon juice or other natural cleaners can help clean your garbage disposal blades by knocking off the built-up food residue.

If You Didn’t Follow the Garbage Disposal Rules

If you are concerned that your garbage disposal may not be working correctly, contact Forrest Anderson to have the unit professionally inspected.

Buying a smart thermostat – 3 things you need to know

It is possible to save a large amount of money if you buy a smart thermostat. Here are three questions you should ask to make sure one is right for you.

  1. Is my system equipped with the features and wiring to support this kind of thermostat?
  2. Is it easy to use and could my family learn how to adjust it?
  3. Will the new thermostat actually save me enough money?

A smart thermostat can be expensive to buy and to install. These smart thermostats can also be set to tell you if the temperature in your home is getting too cold for your pets, or if your air conditioner is malfunctioning.

Can A Smart Thermostat Work With Your Home’s Current Setup?

There are many different heating and cooling systems. Before you buy one of these high tech thermostats, make sure that it will work with the way your HVAC is set up.

You need the right wires too. If the technicians who installed your current unit didn’t bring the correct wires down the wall, this can cause problems.

You need to know if your system is single or two stage. Some thermostats only work with single stage units.

Compare your current thermostat to the new one and make sure they both have the same number of terminals.

If this sounds too complicated, contact Forrest Anderson and we’ll be glad to walk you through it.

We can review your current equipment and help you decide if a smart thermostat, and which smart thermostat is right for you.

Does the New Thermostat Match Your Lifestyle?

With their smart technology, these thermostats can adjust to your schedule and life changes. When you wake up, go to work, come home, and go to bed, are all things that will have an influence on the thermostat. There are many models to choose from. As a Nest Pro Installer, Forrest Anderson is able to not only install a Nest thermostat for you, but we can also help you set it up.

When choosing a smart thermostat you need to answer a few questions to make sure it supports your other devices. For example:

  • What type of phone do you have? Some thermostats work better with Android or Apple phones.
  • Do you have other devices at home that it needs to communicate with?
  • Do the features give you enough control over the thermostat?

Also, consider how your family members will use the thermostat. Some of these thermostats learn how you adjust the temperature. If family members are fighting over the perfect temperature it can cause you to not receive the most benefit.

What About Zoning?

As you know, a zoned HVAC system has different thermostats controlling different zones in a house. If you have a zoned system in your home, you need to look for a smart thermostat that supports a zoned system.

For more information or an estimate on buying and installing a smart thermostat, contact Forrest Anderson. We have the experience and skills to help you decide the best way to save money and energy with a new thermostat. This is especially important when it comes to the summer temperatures we experience here in the Phoenix area.

Explore the benefits of home automation

The popularity of products used for home automation is booming. It’s fun to enjoy the benefits of home automation for things like your home entertainment center. Or perhaps you are already enjoying the benefits of having a programmable thermostat for your heating and cooling system. These are great ways to get started with home automation. But, the benefits of home automation have an even greater potential.

Protecting Your Investment in Your Home

For most people, their home is one of their biggest financial assets. Taking steps to protect your home from common catastrophes that could cause costly damage is important. There are home automation systems that are specifically designed to detect problems in your home. And one of the greatest benefits of home automation systems is that they are always on the job, whether you are home or not.

You already know how damaging mold can be in your home. But who remembers to regularly check under their sinks or pull out heavy appliances to check for leaks. Too often, by the time a leak has been found, there is already extensive damage and mold nearby. Installing water sensors in key areas around your home can alert you to leaks or flooding. These sensors can be:

  • Under your sinks
  • In your laundry room or basement
  • Anywhere there is a potential for a water leak

Your landscape is also another consideration. Automated sprinkler systems with sensors ensure that you are not watering your landscape too little or too much. You can also set your system to comply with local water restrictions when needed.

Keeping You and Your Family Safe

Home security systems monitor your home for smoke, carbon monoxide or break-ins. But new smart devices, like smart door locks, add the benefits of home automation to security systems. Instead of fumbling around for your keys in the dark, your door can be automatically unlocked at the push of a button.

Smart cameras and doorbells can alert you via messaging that someone is at your door. This alerts you to whether you should answer the door if you are at home or keeps you informed when not at home. You can remotely unlock the door from wherever you have a connection to the Internet.

Ever forget to shut your garage door? Many of the latest garage door opener systems have incorporated benefits of home automation. If your door is left open for a predetermined amount of time, the system will alert you via a text message. This gives you the opportunity to shut your garage door remotely, instead of allowing animals or unwelcomed visitors into your garage or home.

Saving Money on Your Utility Bills

Keeping your home cool during the hottest months really takes a bite out of your monthly budget. Smart thermostats can help, but you could still be cooling areas of your home that don’t need to be cooled. By having a geofenced HVAC system installed in your home you can cool or heat only the areas that are occupied. This is sensed by the location of your smartphone.

Controlling the lighting in your home is one of the benefits of home automation. With new products, you don’t have to go through the hassle of rewiring light outlets. Recessed lights with built-in Wi-Fi capabilities and smart plugs can be controlled through tablets, smartphones, and hubs.

Explore the Benefits of Home Automation

While home automation isn’t for everyone, there are many exciting devices available to help you manage your home. To learn more about how Forrest Anderson can help you automate comfort in your home, reach out. We’d love to speak with you.