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Stay Comfy Minnesota Blog

3 Smart Ways To Increase Chimney Efficiency In Your Home

Posted by Kelly on Mar 15, 2016 4:20:18 PM

A fireplace can be cozy and warm or a heat-loss magnet and a health hazard depending, on how you look at it – and take care of it. If you want to improve the efficiency of your chimney, we’ve got three smart ways to help you home. 

Make Sure The Chimney Is Clean 

The very first thing to make sure your chimney is the beacon of efficiency is to make sure it’s clean and free of obstructions. “Have it inspected along with your furnace or water heater during routine maintenance,” says our resident heating and cooling expert, Keith Hill from Minnesota Air. “Wood burning and oil burning appliance chimneys should be inspected annually.”

Keith says that cleaning may be required, as those types of fuels tend to burn “dirty” and give off soot during their normal combustion process.

“Soot will eventually accumulate to the point of blockage – and the soot is flammable. The primary cause of chimney fires is burning soot,” he says.  

The key is keeping the air flowing safely.

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Topics: Home Maintenance

5 Ways To Reduce The Radon Levels In Your Home

Posted by Kelly on Mar 11, 2016 4:09:46 PM

Radon may be something that occurs naturally in the world, but that doesn’t mean you want the radioactive gas getting into your home. It can be dangerous at high levels, even leading to cancer, according to the Minnesota Dept. of Health (MDH).

The frightening part is that radon is found at some level in nearly every home, because it gets created as uranium breaks down in the soil. So what can you do to reduce radon levels? We’ve got 5 ways to start.

Perform Radon Testing

Before you do anything, make sure to test your home for radon first. There’s no need to be scared, because although there are no safe levels of radon, the risk for cancer only really increases if found at high, concentrated levels and you have long-term exposure.

“A test should be performed in the lowest occupied level, typically basement bedrooms or other low-level areas that are occupied for extended periods of time,” says Keith Hill, technical support manager at Minnesota Air.

There are two types of tests you can do. The first is a short-term test that takes 3-7 days and is accurate enough to let you know if you need to take further action. The second test takes three months to a year, and is a very accurate predictor if your home has a radon problem.

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Topics: Home Maintenance

How to Combat Dry Air in Your Home

Posted by Kelly on Feb 2, 2016 2:40:03 PM

ZAP! We’ve all felt those little shocks you get as you move around your home or touch something on a dry winter day. They are annoying, but also a sure sign that you need to pay attention to the moisture levels in your home. In this case, if you are feeling those shocks – the LACK of moisture in your home. Here are some easy steps for combating that dry air. 

Seal Up From The Elements

Our resident expert, Minnesota Air technical support manager Keith Hill, says it’s really the outside air that dries out a home in winter, so it’s important to seal up the envelope of the home. That means you should be on the lookout for cracks in the foundation, gaps around windows or doors, and openings under your garage door.

“Cold air has little heat content, and it’s the heat energy that allows the air to hold water in a vapor form,” says Keith. “As the outside air enters the home through cracks and crevices (infiltration), it mixes with the indoor air and the humidity level drops.  Reducing those air leaks will help maintain the humidity in the home.”

Beware Of The Fireplace

You may be tempted to light a cozy fire on a cold winter day, and that’s fine, but just know that if you have a wood-burning fireplace, the chimney could be working as an exhaust flue – even when not in use.

“Homes that have wood fireplaces can be very dry, particularly if the fireplace does not have well-sealed glass doors,” says Keith. “Many think that wood heat is hotter and that dries the home. It’s actually the open fireplace allowing warm air into the chimney, which essentially becomes an exhaust device.”

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Topics: Home Maintenance

How Often Should I Get an Air Duct Cleaning in My Home?

Posted by Kelly on Jan 26, 2016 2:22:45 PM

Air duct cleaning is something you may have seen advertised in your local newspaper, through the mail, or even on a door-to-door salesman’s flyers. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “Knowledge about air duct cleaning is in its early stages, so a blanket recommendation cannot be offered as to whether you should have your air ducts in your home cleaned.” However it is known to give people some peace of mind when it comes to efficiency, their health, and especially when it comes to treating or preventing mold. If you are in the market to get an air duct cleaning, these are some things you should know. 

When should I get it done?

The EPA suggests getting your air duct cleaned if:

  • You see mold growth inside the ducts.
  • There are excessive amounts of dust and debris.
  • You notice that you may have a pest infestation in your ducts (i.e. insects and rodents).

According to our resident expert, Keith Hill, technical support manager for Minnesota Air, a dirty furnace blower wheel and blower motor is also a good indicator that you’ll need a duct cleaning.

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Topics: Home Maintenance

Making the Switch to Geothermal Energy: Pros and Cons

Posted by Kelly on Jan 19, 2016 3:22:02 PM

If you are thinking about bigger ways to go green – geothermal energy may be on your list. Geothermal energy is when heat is gathered from below the earth’s surface, which can then be harnessed to heat or cool your home. It is one of the best ways to get clean, renewable energy, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. But there are upsides and downsides to everything, so let’s take a look at the pros and cons of making the switch to geothermal energy.

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Topics: Home Maintenance

Understanding Radon Levels: What is Safe for My Home?

Posted by Kelly on Dec 1, 2015 2:39:37 PM

You may have heard of radon – a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas that can seep up from the earth and into your home. It sounds scary, and it can be, but no need to panic yet. Radon vapor exists in nearly every home, because it occurs naturally as uranium breaks down in the soil. So how can it be dangerous and yet not dangerous? It’s all about the radon levels – in low amounts there is no need to worry, but if it’s concentrated in high levels in your home, that’s when it is dangerous. So how do you know what’s safe for your house? And what can you do to fix it?

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Topics: Home Maintenance

How to Find the Best Heating Repair Company

Posted by Brittany on Sep 25, 2015 1:24:36 PM

If only there were a magic ball to tell you the best choices to make for all your everyday decisions – what route to take to work, when you should trade in that old car for a new one, and who the best company is to hire to do work on your HVAC? Well, unfortunately, there’s not, but we’ve got a way for you to narrow down your choices when it comes to finding a good heating repair company that will work for you.

Heating Repair Company

Not All Companies Are Built The Same

First, it’s important to know that just as in any profession, there are a wide array of skills and specialties when it comes to heating repair companies. Keith Hill, technical support manager from Minnesota Air suggests thinking about levels of expertise in terms of medicine.

“A doctor specializing in dermatology may be knowledgeable on cardiovascular, but I would rather have the heart specialist helping me when I’m feeling chest pains,” says Keith. “And I’d rather have the one with training at the Mayo Clinic and ten years of experience instead of the recent medical school grad.”

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Topics: System Maintenance, Home Maintenance, Heating

5 Things to Try Before Calling an Air Conditioning Service

Posted by Brittany on Jul 21, 2015 5:37:21 PM

Is your air conditioner running? Well then, why don’t you catch it? Stupid jokes aside -- this is the time of year when the heat and humidity catch up with aging air conditioners, and the price of fixing them is no laughing matter! So if your AC isn’t running, is there anything you can do yourself to fix it? There are five things you should try before calling an air conditioning service. 

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Topics: Home Maintenance, Cooling, Summer

Best Simple Tips For Saving Money With Your AC

Posted by Brittany on Jun 18, 2015 12:14:00 PM

Minnesotans love summer, but we don’t love to see our energy bill after running our air conditioner non-stop during the heat. And we have a lot of company. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, two out of three homes in America have air conditioners, and it costs those homeowners $11 billion each year to power them – now that is a lot of cold hard cash being used to keep you cool! That’s why your happy helpers at Stay Comfy Minnesota want to help you beat the heat and pad your wallet in the process. So, here are some simple tips for saving money with your AC.

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Topics: Home Maintenance, Cooling, Energy Efficiency

Energy Saving Tips Every Homeowner Should Know

Posted by Kelly on Apr 16, 2015 3:24:00 PM

How Little Things Can Add Up To Big Energy Savings 

It’s the little things that can add up.

Most homeowners are familiar with that phrase. After all, small repairs, upkeep, maintenance work here and there, and even the tiniest of improvements can cost big bucks when you put them all together -- and the costs can spiral out of control if left unchecked.

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Topics: Home Maintenance