Don's Heating and Cooling

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Grill and Grate Cleaning Step-by-Step

As the season transitions to fall, many people are getting in the last of their grilling done for the summer. One of the most important aspects of keeping your grill in good condition and your food tasting its best is regularly cleaning your grill. The following are 5 steps to clean your gas grill and grate, so you and your family can enjoy the last vestiges of summer BBQ.

Dissect Your Grill

First, you’ll need to open the grill and remove the parts. In doing this, you’ll be able to access the main grill chamber. This is where large food particles tend to fall as well as where grease drippings land. So when the grill is cold, open the hood, remove the grill grates, and set them aside.

Clean the Grill Box

Grease and food particles tend to collect inside the grill’s interior, also referred to as the “grill box.” Using a putty knife or an old spatula, you can scrape the sides of the grill of as much gunk as possible. If you don’t have a putty knife or spatula, any thin, flat tool will do. You also might want to consider wearing a pair of work gloves, since this is typically a dirty job.

Brush the Burner Tubes

If you have a gas grill, one part that often gets clogged by particles are the burner tubes. One indication of dirty burners is reduced flame size. The flame may also burn with an orange color instead of the usual blue. Both of these issues are symptomatic of abnormally low temperatures and an underpowered grill.

You can use a steel wire brush to gently clean the small holes on the tubes. Brush from the center of the tube outward, moving sideways. Otherwise, you may push debris into the tube or holes themselves instead of clearing them from obstructions.    

Clean Grates are Great

Once the burner tubes and grill box is clean, you can reassemble the grill, turn it on to its highest temperature setting, and close the hood. If there’s a cleaning level on your burner dial, turn it to that level. After a few minutes, open the lid and scrape the grates with a metal grill brush.

Preventative Maintenance

There are a few additional steps you can take to avoid deposits of dirt and grease from forming in the first place. One method is to lubricate the grates of your hot grill with cooking oil before you start cooking. If you do have a grill brush without bristles, it’s a good idea to scrape your hot grates both before and after grilling.

Conclusion

For many people, grilling is one of the sublime pleasures of the summer months. To keep your gas grill looking and working great, make sure you thoroughly clean it with the steps listed above. For more information about grilling and grill cleaning, contact the experts at Don’s Heating and Cooling

A Guide: Your Grill’s Lid and Vents

Summer is in full swing, which means all the backyard BBQ parties are in effect. Nothing says summer like a plate of deliciously charred food. Getting the perfect amount of grill marks while ensuring everything is cooked from the outside in is a skill, that when mastered, will leave everyone begging to be your guest! If you’re new to the world of grilling or simply want to brush up on your skills, follow along with this blog to become a master of your barbeque!

First Lesson: Lid

The most basic and commonly overlooked part of your barbeque is the lid. The way in which your food cooks on the grill is largely due to the cooking temperature. Utilizing the lid is a great way to cook food from the inside out. Depending on the type of vegetable or cut of meat you’re cooking, you’ll want to incorporate the lid for different amounts of time. Leaving the lid on your grill is great for thick cuts of meat or full-sized potatoes. Essentially, this technique is going to trap the heat and create an oven effect. The food will begin to cook internally as well as obtain the lovely grill marks from the burning coal below. Bone-in meats need more than just your basic char-grilled marks to be complete; they also need to internally cook! For veggies and leaner cuts of meat, such as a burger patty, you should skip the lid altogether. Foods that cook quickly on the grill don’t need the additional heat to cook thoroughly. Keeping all this in mind, next time you’re faced with the struggle of whether to use the lid or skip it, just look to your food size for guidance.

Second Lesson: Vents

Vents, while often overlooked, are less basic and easy to understand. For those who don’t grill very often, the use these nifty grilling accessories may just be a guessing game. We are here to break down all the necessary functions of each vent! Essentially, vents manipulate the airflow allowed in and out of your barbeque while the grilling is happening. There is a vent on the bottom of your grill and one that sits on top of the lid. Assuming you now have a good understanding of how and when to use your lid, the use of the vent should be considered as well. While the vent on the bottom of the barbeque is what controls the amount of oxygen surfacing to the top, the vent on your lid is what allows the heat to escape. In short, the more oxygen that is allowed into the grill, the hotter the inside of your barbeque will be. This also works in unison with how much heat is being allowed to escape through the lid vent. Though there are just two vents, they can be used strategically in many different ways. Often, its trial and error to see what works best for you and the types of food you’re cooking; many people also use the vents to control the speed at which the food cooks. Regardless of how you like to grill on your barbeque, just remember the more open your vents are, the hotter your barbeque will get, which in turn allows for you food to heat up and cook quickly!

Conclusion

Becoming a grill master is a lot more difficult than many would believe. Whether you’re a pro at grilling on the barbeque or you simply want to brush up your skills, learning more about the strategies behind the lid and vents is never a bad idea! At the end of the day, it all comes down to the temperatures and grill times. If you can keep those two goals in the back of your head while learning how to be a master of the barbeque, you’ll be a pro in no time. For more information on all things barbeque grill related, check out Don’s Heating & Cooling!

Tips to Save on Cooling Costs This Summer

With summer fast approaching, it’s time to start planning all the fun-filled outdoor activities that rising temperatures have to offer. While there’s plenty to look forward to, there’s also the undeniable fact that an increase in heat means an increase in cooling costs for your home. The following are a few tips that will help keep your thermostat low and your wallet heavy this summer.

Use Fans When You Can

No, a fan doesn’t cool a room on its own, but it can take the edge off of the otherwise sweltering heat. If you use an air conditioner in conjunction with a ceiling fan, it helps disperse cold air more efficiently and allows you to raise its thermostat by as much as four degrees.

As Low As You Can Go 

If the heat is at the point where AC is a necessity, then remember to run it at the highest temperature you can tolerate. You can easily save up to 18% off your electric bill by simply keeping your thermostat set a few degrees higher. A good rule of thumb is to have the AC kick on at 78 degrees, then adjust it to fit your comfort level from there.  Keep in mind, the smaller the difference between indoor and outdoor temperatures throughout the summer season, the less you’ll spend!

Maintenance

Even if you’re taking all other precautions to save money, if you don’t properly care for your equipment it won’t reduce your cooling costs. If your air conditioning filters are filthy, it will block airflow and make the system work harder to keep you cool. Cleaning and/or replacing filters once per month will lower an AC’s electricity usage by 5% to 15%. If you have a central cooling system, be sure that the vents aren’t blocked with debris or furniture.

Don’t Add “Fuel” to the “Fire”

Try to avoid activities that generate a lot of heat, like cooking on the stovetop and using the dishwasher or clothes dryer. You can utilize your microwave to cook, wash your dishes by hand, and hang your clothes on a clothesline to air dry outside. Televisions, computers, stereos, and basically every piece of electronic equipment in a home generates additional heat. Any abstinence from these activities will help your AC not work as hard to keep your house cool and save you extra money in the process.

Close the Drapes

Don’t hesitate to close your shades during the day. When completely closed and lowered on a sunny window, reflective drapes or blinds can reduce heat gain by around 45%. Keep in mind, the lighter the color, the more they’ll deflect the sun’s rays. Hang shades as close as you can to the window, as this enables them to also block outdoor heat from radiating inside.

Conclusion:

The hotter it gets outside, the more your cooling system becomes part of your life. While AC will undoubtedly make your life easier, it could also dramatically increase your energy bill. Instead of fretting over electricity, implement these tips to save on cooling costs, and spend your summer enjoying the outdoors and time with your friends and family. For additional questions about heating and cooling, contact the experts at Don’s Heating and Cooling today!

The Safe Use of Natural Gas, Propane, and Charcoal Grills

Summer is prime time for barbeques, but it’s also when the most fires occur. These events happening simultaneously is not just a coincidence. According to the National Fire Protection Association, grills and barbeques cause an average of 9,600 home fires every year. Whether you’re a pro griller or someone grilling for the first time, make sure that you have these safety tips in mind before having your backyard barbeque.

General Safety Tips for Any Grill

Place the grill 10 feet away from anything that can potentially catch on fire. If it’s a windy day, give your grill even more space, since sparks can travel on the wind and land on nearby objects. Also, put the grill on a flat, stable surface so it doesn’t tip over.

Never leave your grill unattended, and keep children and pets away from the grill and lighter. Keep appropriate safety items such as water, a fire extinguisher, or baking soda nearby at all times.

Turn off the grill after each use. Put the lighter, lighter fluid, and matches away from the grill. Afterwards, clean your grill to remove residue that could potentially cause a fire the next time you use it.

Natural Gas Grills

Natural gas grills are connected to the gas line in your house. Before you start, check for a leak in the gas lines. Once you start your grill, always open the lid. If you keep the lid closed, gas builds up inside, which can cause an explosion of fire when you open the lid and use a lighter.

Keep your grill outside in a space with much ventilation (grilling indoors can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning). Turn off the gas after you are done. While wasting gas is expensive, a gas leak is a health hazard and can potentially start a fire.

If a fire does start, make sure that you are using the right materials to put out the fire. A fire from a natural gas grill is a grease fire, so you should never use water to extinguish it. Instead, use a fire extinguisher, or spread baking soda over the flames.

Propane Grills

Propane grills run on propane gas cylinders, which are typically safe and easy to use. However, you still have to keep some safety tips in mind. Don’t overfill the propane gas cylinder, and don’t use cylinders that are past their expiration date. Never store them indoors; if you need to change them, always do so outside.

Like natural gas grills, never turn on the gas when the lid is closed. If a burner doesn’t ignite, turn off the gas and keep the lid open. Wait 5 minutes before trying to relight it. If the burners go out while you’re grilling, turn off all gas valves and wait 5 minutes before trying to light it again.

After you’re done, turn off all the burners and the propane cylinder. Store the cylinder in a safe place outside and away from the grill. Then, check for a buildup of grease as you clean in order to prevent a fire from starting the next time you use the grill.

Charcoal Grills

These grills run on charcoal – a popular option for those who love that classic smoky flavoring in their food. However, charcoal grills require different safety procedures than gas grills. To start, don’t use too much charcoal. Use enough to cover the base of the grill about 2 inches deep.

Likewise, don’t overuse starter fluid; only use a minimum amount to prevent the release of too much carbon monoxide. Use only charcoal starter fluid because gasoline, kerosene, and other flammable fluids can explode. Never add more starter fluid once the charcoal is burning. Always keep water handy in the case of a fire!

Cleanup is a vital safety procedure. Wait 48 hours for your grill to cool before cleaning it. Once your grill cools completely and the coals are burnt out, soak the charcoal in water, put it in tin-foil, and then place it in a non-combustible container. Putting the ashes in a paper bag or garbage can could potentially start a fire.

Conclusion

Knowing these safety tips can be the difference between life and death. In addition, keeping your grill regularly maintained is a great way to prevent a disaster from happening. At Don’s Heating and Cooling, we ensure your grill is in optimal condition to grill all year long. Your safety is our top concern!

Historical Profile: Ondol, the Ancient Korean Heating System

Ancient Greeks had their hearths and ancient Romans had their hypocausts, but ancient Koreans appear to be the first to have enjoyed underfloor heating systems. The neat invention was called ondol, which means “warm stone” in Korean (on means “warm,” and dol means “stone”); ondol systems functioned by means of underfloor stone slabs heated by the furnace. Why was that so special? Well, just keep scrolling to find out!

A Smokeless System

Before chimneys became a thing, Europeans during the Middle Ages had trouble keeping the smoke out of their homes while keeping the heat in. Funnel-shaped roofs (called ‘Rauschschlot’) in German homes were able to take care of the smoke, but preventing the heat from escaping along with the smoke was still a problem. The ondol system kept the smoke outside via flues (ducts), while keeping indoor spaces warm. Similar to ondols, Roman hypocausts had flues, but were primarily used for heating up baths.

The flue of an ondol system.
#Flue

An Affordable System

Apparently the easy-to-install nature of ondols had a democratizing effect on their users. In the West, even the upper echelon had trouble staying cozy, as German Princess Elizabeth von der Pfalz, writes during the 1690s: ‘All that keeps me warm at night are the six small dogs I take [with me to bed].’ In contrast, ondols kept both the rich and the poor warm. Horace Allen, the first American Protestant missionary in Korea and the founder of Severance Hospital, recounts the use of ondols during the Joseon era:

However humble the hut of the peasant or coolie, it always has its tight little sleeping room, the stone and cement floor of which with its rich brown oil paper covering, is kept nicely warmed by the little fire necessary for cooking the rice twice daily. In this respect these people fare better than do their neighbors, for the Japanese houses are notoriously cold, and a fire pot for warming the fingers is the only native system of heating, while the Chinese never are warm in the raw cold of winter.

(Things Korean, p. 67)
Firewood for an ondol system.

Challenges

As with all other inventions, the ondol system too had its downsides. Reverend James S. Gale, another missionary, hilariously attests in an account that the ondol floor “heated nearly to the frying point,” and that “the inexperienced traveler, pursued by fiery dreams, baked almost brown, gasps for breath and wishes for the morning” (Korean Sketches, p. 134). Ultimately, however, Gale concluded, “But after a year or two of practice, one gets to like the hot floor,” reminiscent of someone who would fit right in at the modern Korean sauna. Aside from the steep learning curve, ondol systems can also prove to be very dangerous when combined with coal briquettes. In fact, during the 1960s, the leakage from this combination often bred carbon monoxide poisoning, making many Koreans perish during their sleep.

Conclusion

Ondols had their glory, but we have something more glorious. The modern furnace is better than any ondol or hypocaust. There’s certainly no need to tape yourself to six dogs every night, and no need to check every night for any forgotten coal briquettes. Simply call Don’s Heating and Cooling and fix all your indoor temperature problems! Heating systems can be smokeless, affordable, and modern!

How Heating and Cooling Systems Work Together

Central Cooling

Are you curious about how a heating and cooling system works? Well, the most common central cooling system is a split system, which includes an outdoor cabinet containing a condenser coil and compressor, and an indoor evaporator coil, usually installed next to your furnace or air handler. The compressor pumps a chemical called refrigerant (a compound typically found in either a fluid or gaseous state) through the system.

How Central Cooling Works

Once warm air inside your home blows across the indoor evaporator coil, the heat transfers to the refrigerant inside the coil. That transfer, in turn, “cools” the air. The refrigerant is pumped back to the compressor where the cycle begins again. The heat absorbed by the refrigerant is moved outside your home while cooled air is blown inside. Moisture that contributes to humidity is also removed from the air, which is great for humid climates!

Your cooling system is usually combined with your central heating system because they share the same ductwork for distributing conditioned air throughout your home.

Central Heating

Central heating systems have a primary heating appliance, such as a furnace, typically located in your basement or garage. All furnaces consist of four main components:

1. Burners that deliver and burn fuel

2. Heat exchangers

3. A blower

4. A flue that acts as an exhaust for gaseous by-products

You can choose from heating systems running on either gas or oil, or a hybrid system that can use both fuel types. Each system has its own benefits, so depending on your heating needs, see what works for you!

How Central Heating Works

Combustion gases are generated by the burners in your furnace and passed through a heat exchanger. Air from your home blows across the heat exchanger to be warmed. It is then blown through a system of ducts to distribute around your home.

During warm seasons, your heating system works with your central air conditioning. Air is cooled as it’s blown over your air conditioning unit’s cooling coil, often attached to the air circulating fan of the furnace, and then sent through the same air ducts throughout your home.

Conclusion

One can say that it’s pretty neat how a heating system and cooling system work together! There are so many components that go into building and maintaining a HVAC system, all of which are taken care of by your local service technician. If you need a heating and cooling system, make sure to check out Don’s Heating and Cooling today!

Physics, the Unsung Hero Behind the Central Vacuum

Yes, the central vacuum has come a long way since its debut during the late 19th century, and the effectiveness of today’s central vacs are far superior to the ones back then, but are you familiar enough with the physics involved that you would truly be able to appreciate the advances made? Simply read on to find out just how amazing these phenomena are!

1. Centrifugal Force

Its name may have a cool ring to it, but centrifugal force is a “fictitious” or “pseudo” force in Newtonian physics; it’s used to describe the illusion of force on moving objects as seen in a rotating frame of reference. Ever felt like you were about to fly off that rollercoaster? That’s centrifugal force. Likewise, when a cyclonic vacuum system separates debris from the air stream, the force would appear to propel the debris outward. The debris eventually reaches the bottom of the funnel and becomes deposited, as if its momentum were depleted (when it was actually simply a mirror image opposite to its centripetal force, which is explained below).

People enjoying the centrifugal force.

People enjoying the centrifugal force.

2. Centripetal Force

Centrifugal force may be an optical illusion, but centripetal force—“centripetal” meaning “center-seeking” in Latin—isn’t. Whereas centrifugal force appears to push a moving object outwardly from its center of rotation, centripetal force pulls the object inwardly toward the center of rotation; the inward pull on the person on a spinning playground roundabout is centripetal force. You can observe the vacuumed material act on this force as it gets sucked into the funnel of the cyclone.

Centripetal force.

3. Atmospheric Pressure

Atmospheric pressure is another crucial aspect that enters the equation, since it affects suction. (Since suction is possible due to the lowering of earth’s atmospheric pressure, differently suited vacuum cleaners would be necessary on different planets.) Just think: In space, trying to use the best of our special vacs would be utterly futile!

A hose sucking in dust.

Brrrrrrrrrm!!

4. Gravity

The law of gravity is perhaps the most well-known among the physical laws listed here. In a cyclone system, gravity enables the dust to settle and collect in a canister (or a bag). Without gravitational forces, dust would constantly float weightlessly and make canister maintenance a much more arduous process, although the reduced cluttering would likely mean less mold and therefore, less smell!

A man taking the dirt out of a central vac.

Thanks, gravity!

5. Humanity

Last but not least: This is where you come in. The importance of the human being using the equipment cannot be understated. Known as the X-factor as well as the one who sets everything into motion (by pressing “On”), the vacuum user is arguably the most important part of the operation.

A person inserting the end of the central vac hose into the wall inlet.

The X-factor.

Conclusion

Newtonian laws of motion and the human element aside, the central vacuum is a delight to use. I mean, what better way to start your chores than cooking up a storm (literally)? Let us nerd out together about these wondrous pieces of equipment at Don’s Heating and Cooling!

3 Reasons Why Your Home’s Air Equipment Needs Love Too

Your home is the place where you spend the most amount of time. As the central gathering place for you and your family, you want to make sure that everyone is breathing the best air possible. When your home’s air equipment needs some care and attention, it can be useful to have the experts come take a look.

You and Your House Breathe Easier

Everything from the vents to the filters to an air purifying system lead to better breathing quality for everyone involved. Most people know that humans are much like plants in that we need a good air source to live better lives. When our homes are having a difficult time breathing as well, it can put a strain on you and your family. Having a professional come out to service your home’s air equipment can save your mind the worry and your home from working double time.

Air Quality

Likening a human to a plant is accurate in how we function and are able to breathe. When the air equipment in your home isn’t working the way it should, it can affect the overall air quality. When you suspect that your filters, air exchanger or purifier aren’t working the way they should, calling to get them serviced can save your family breathing concerns for the future.

Not Just the Filters

There are many parts to your home’s air system. From air filters to air exchangers and even air purifiers there are a lot of moving parts to ensure you and your family are breathing well throughout the year. It’s always important to double check with the professionals if you think your home’s air equipment isn’t working the way that it should be. Never simply think that changing the filters will fix the problem as there could be something more serious at play in your home’s breathing.

Conclusion

From making sure that you change your air filters frequently to calling in the professionals occasionally for any of the large air equipment, you can always guarantee that you and your family are breathing easy in the future. Make sure to always check with a professional when your home’s air equipment isn’t functioning the way it was designed to. Now it’s time to get back to being the healthy human plants you are.

35.5 Reasons Why You Should Appreciate Air Conditioning

Here is a riddle for you. What do the following things have in common: water, toothbrushes, toilet paper, electricity, health, memory, roads, heating, and air conditioning? Don’t worry. I’ll give you a minute to consider this.

Yes, these are all vital aspects of modern society and you probably use each one on a daily basis. More importantly though, they are all easily taken for granted. It is only when one of these items is taken away from us that their value becomes apparent. Now you can add a lot of things to this list, such as a best friend or your favorite coffee shop. But let us give pause and appreciate heating and air conditioning for being there every time we looked at the temperature and thought, “There is no chance I’m leaving the house.”

The most recorded rainfall in Orangeville on a single day is 84 mm. The record was set Aug. 22 1968.

Orangeville, Ont. on Aug. 3, 1988

Brian Mulroney was the prime minister. “The Flame” by Cheap Trick was on top of the charts. “Cocktail” was on top of the box office and thermometers across Orangeville, Ontario read 35.5 °C. This day turned out to be the hottest day in recorded city history. While we don’t remember the exact details of what we did that fateful Wednesday, we are sure that we were not alone in staying as close as humanly possible to an air conditioning unit.

Orangeville, Ont. on Feb. 18, 1979

The most recorded snowfall in Orangeville on a single day is 30 cm. The record was set on Dec. 12, 1972.

Pierre Trudeau was the prime minister. The first women were enrolled in Canadian military colleges. Roberto Luongo was still three months from being born and once you scrapped the frost of an Orangeville thermometer, it read -36.5 °C. You probably already guessed it, this was the coldest day in recorded city history. Again, we don’t remember exactly what did this day, but considering it was a Sunday, odds are slim that any of us ventured passed the front door. We can say with certainty though that the heating system at home was definitely operating at full capacity.

For our friends that visit our Alliston location, the temperature records are pretty similar. The hottest known day in Alliston is 36 °C on Aug. 8, 2001 and the coldest known day was -35.5 °C on Jan. 16, 1994. Thankfully locals had air conditioning and heating available to negate these record temperature highs and lows. Do not take your HVAC systems for granted. As we enter into the coldest part of the year, make sure your systems are operating smoothly. That way you will never get caught off guard when extreme weather strikes.

 

Fireplace Maintenance Tips for Keeping Your Winter Cozy

The fireplace has been the main source of warmth for the family home since time immemorial. Since it houses a volatile element like fire the fireplace might be comparable to a sleeping dragon in your home. During the warmer months, it sleeps and you can ignore it. When it starts getting colder, it wakes up and you start desiring the warmth it can provide you and your family. So here are some fireplace maintenance tips to keep your relationship with your home dragon a cozy one this winter.

Call in the Professionals for its Yearly Check Up

When dealing with gas fireplace maintenance, many experts say that you should have the various parts and sections checked about once a year. This is to ensure that everything works the way it needs to from the gas lines to the vents. No one wants to spend the colder months struggling with a fireplace that’ll only give you the cold shoulder. Make it a habit to have the experts check everything out once you plan to start using the fireplace again and have a warm time.

Keep the Fire in the Firebox, Not Your Living Room

When you have your fireplace serviced, one place that is vital to make sure is in good health is the firebox. As the main center of where the fire is actually burning, it needs to be able to withstand the most heat. Think of your firebox as the belly of a dragon: both have to be able to take the brunt of the fire when it’s created. Making sure that your firebox is in good shape before starting a fire will ensure that a cozy night at home doesn’t become an insurance and smoke mess.

Clean It up Before You Use It

A standard rule of thumb for any fireplace maintenance is to make sure that it’s clean before you light the fire. Because fire produces smoke this can cause a buildup of carbon–particularly in gas fireplaces–which leads to big problems. By making sure to keep the inside of your fireplace clean (including the chimney), you’ll be sure to have a merry time in front of the dancing flames.

Conclusion

Keeping warm in the winter doesn’t need to be hard work. By simply remembering to schedule service for your fireplace once every 1-2 years and keeping it clean, you’ll be able to sing ‘Let it Snow’ with abandon this year. Remember to treat your fireplace just as well as any other portion of your house and you’ll never need to worry about the dragon giving you a cold shoulder.

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