Understanding how a home cools and some simple tips.

“My second floor is so much warmer than my main floor, basement is so cold, air conditioner runs for long periods.

If you find yourself making these statements during the summer season your system is probably deficient in some way(s).

First let’s understand for many homes air conditioning is an add on installed sometime after to the existing HVAC system was initially designed.  The system most likely being designed for heating, even in many of today’s new homes little care is given to proper duct design, installation and change in season requirements.

Warm air rises (lighter) and cold air falls (heavier), understanding this simple effect you can move to the next step.

Your home upper ceilings will have the hottest air (upwards of 90+f in the summer) and your basement floor the coldest. For your cooling system to work effectively and efficiently you should be taking the warmest air and cooling that air through your air conditioning system not the coldest air and making is colder. This removes hot air allowing cool air to rise and will give you a more efficient system and comfortable home.

Return air opens (the one’s that suck in) are the key to solution for all the above statements. 

Let’s take an example:

Two-Story Home:

Second floor is 5-6 degrees warmer in the afternoon than the main floor and the basement is cold. The home was designed for heat with cold air returns located at the base of the walls on the main floor, one return air on the second floor also at the base of the wall and one located in the basement. The air conditioner is correctly sized for the home and fan speed is properly set.

Summer comes around and on goes the air conditioner, firstly air will take the path of least resistance on a poorly designed/installed system, the basement return air drawing more air in than the main floor and very little to non on the second floor.  The basement has much colder air than the main floor and the second floor. So the mixed air gets cooler running through the air conditioning system which is making it heavier and it will fall to the basement faster and get the basement much cooler and so on and so on.

The system will run until the main floor is satisfied as that is where the thermostat is located, the basement feels like the inside of a Coleman cooler and that sleeping area upstairs is sticky and hot.

The Fix is in!

So, what can be done, if you do have return air(s) on the second floor remove the grille and see if the stud cavity is open upwards to the ceiling (a cell phone camera is great for this). If the cavity is open, you can easily cut another return air opening about 6” from the ceiling and put a grille on it.


Now to ensure its working and/or get it working. Take a trip the closest bathroom and grab one square tissue of toilet paper. This high-tech tool is how you will test the return is working.

Place the tissue on the new return air grille opening and it should easily stick to it when you let go. If it doesn’t stick here’s what you should do.  Close any return airs in the basement 100%, on the main floor start to close off those return air(s) also; until the tissue firmly sticks to the grille on the second floor.  NOTE: You can purchase large fridge magnet sheets from Michael’s Craft stores that will attached to metal return grilles simply.

Important we do not want to shut all the lower returns off on the main floor if you only have one return on the second floor as the new return air will not be able to pull enough air through it to serve the air conditioner needs and the grille will also make a noise like a swarm of bees and you wont sleep.  

Last peace of house keeping, we recommend running a fan continuously during the summer on two story homes to provide balance. Air conditioners should not just run for five minutes a run time of 15-20 minutes is normal on a home that is already at the comfort settings. Short running air conditioning system will often give your a cool damp home and no one wants that. 

Now that you have a properly working return air(s) on the second floor sit back and finally enjoy the summer in your entire home. Just remember to reverse the system in the winter as we want to take cold air and make it warmer.

If all the above seems to be too much, call us we can take care of this for you.



April Showers! Sump Pumps and Back Up Pumps


Flooded Basement
Flooding basement

Spring is here and it appears that we are getting a lot of calls coming in for failed sump pumps and installation of back-up sump pumps.


A few reminders and tips on prevention, it’s always good policy to have a good water management program applied to your exterior.

  • Ensure gutters and downspouts are clean and clear of any debris.
  • Downspouts should terminate preferably 5 feet away from your foundation (3ft minimum)
  • If water barrels are used ensure the overflow is not terminating adjacent to the foundation and as per the downspouts terminate 5 feet away.
  • If your sump pump discharged to the exterior adjacent to the foundation wall it should be a minimum of 3 feet away, again we prefer it extended out to 5 feet.
  • Grade should fall away from the house foundation wall to assist water shedding from downspouts.
  • Consider using 10ft weeping tile extensions during early spring when most rain or heavy rain is forecasted.
  • Window wells should be cleaned out and can be covered with clear covers to help keep water away.
  • Side walks and driveways that are attached to the house foundation should be seal where they meet with a flexible sealant

Taking the time to address the above will go a long way in prevention and also reduce the amount of water your sump pump will need to handle.

Now to the interior and that hole in the floor, your sump pit and pump.

  • Ensure the pit is clean, debris in the pit will ultimately end up in your pump
  • Test that pump, most pumps are activated by a float that is either vertically attached to the pump or attached to a cord and floats on the surface. Lifting the float up to its maximum position should activate the pump
  • If you have a battery back up system, us the test button to check the pump operation and observe the battery light condition. If it needs to be replaced, lets get on it!

Is the sump pump correctly set?

Sump Pits
Sump pit Sump Pump

Probably half the pump systems we see are incorrectly set up, this maybe because of the DYI warriors trying to save a penny or two or inexperience plumbers.  The water that flows in through the weeping tile pipe into your sump pit is keeping your foundation dry. If the pump settings allows for water to sit in the weeping tile inlet pipe that means your foundation is being kept wet all the time. This can lead to structural issues, foundations sinking and often step cracking in exterior brick work. A properly set sump pump will start to pump just as the water meets the weeping tile or below, keeping your foundation on a solid footing.

What size pump do I need?

Not all pumps are the same, the pump should be capable of removing the water that flows into your pit easily and also fit within the pit diameter. Vertical column pumps have been used for many decades and provide good pumping for tight pits but are some of the noisiest pumps out there, submersible pumps with vertical floats offer quieter operation and work well in tight pits. Submersible pumps with horizontal floats should only be install in pits with the correct diameters.

1/3 HP or 1/2 HP are the most common residentially, bigger is better but often not required. 11/4 discharge or 11/2 discharge. Again, bigger is better but it should at the very least match the size of the outlet of the pump.

More to come on back-up sump pumps, stay dry and stay tuned!

Spring Air Conditioning

Spring Air Conditioning
Lennox XC14
Niagara Falls

Its here Spring Air Conditioning tips!

With the warmer weather around the corner now is the time of year we start to prepare are lawns, gardens, patios, decks and pools for the season. Your air conditioner should also be prepared so it has a good start.

  • While most new air conditioners do not have “heaters” to pre-heat the refrigerant on cold starts ups. It a good idea if the power has been turned off to the air conditioner to now turn it back on at least 24 hours prior to first use.
  • Remove that winter cover; leaving the cover on the air conditioner may cause a failure.
  • Clear any debris that has accumulated around your outdoor condenser. Rinse off the condenser coil (stay dry, make sure the unit is turned off)
  • Check your furnace filter; over 30% of service calls are due to poor filter maintenance.
  • Don’t wait, after completing the above test your system long before you actually need it to ensure its operation.

Lastly, we can perform all the above for you and much much more! 

Spring Air Conditioning service and maintenance 

Call us for all your home cooling needs, 289-397-0717

Buyer beware when purchasing your new barbeque and natural gas conversion kit


Barbeque Conversions

This past week we were called upon to install a natural gas line for a customer for their new barbeque that was purchased from one of the large box retailers here in Niagara. After installing the gas line I proceeded to convert the newly purchased propane barbeque with the conversion kit provide by the retailer at the time the barbeque was purchased.

Upon inspection the natural gas conversion kit was nothing special and the barbeque easily converted over to natural gas in 15 minutes.  Once connect to the natural gas service and tested I noticed the flames to be overly large, yellow and loud.

Having converted many many barbeques over the last twenty years I knew something was amiss. So a review of both the conversion process and implantation were undertaken. The conversion was correct and the appropriate parts installed as per the manual, further review of the manual did not note any model numbers for any barbeques. The rating plate on the barbeque gave no indication to natural gas or conversion. This led me to conclude maybe the barbeque was not a convertible barbeque at all. A quick call to the manufacturer confirmed this conclusion and the home owner was advised and barbeque return to its natural state.

A few word of caution.

  1. Confirm with the manufacturer that your barbeque can be converted
  2. Purchased the correct kit for the barbeque (there is no generic conversion kit)
  3. Have a licenced gas fitter perform the conversion, for your own safety and the knowledge we have its well worth the few dollars.


Call us for all your natural gas and propane requirements.


Get it done...the Acumenway!

Spring is here and so are the rainy days!

sump pumpWith the melting snow, frozen ground and spring showers it’s that time of year that our sump pump systems work the hardest. Sump pumps and there pits are the lowest portion of your home, the purpose of the sump system to collect the water from around your foundation and footing to keep the dry and reduce the possibility of water leaking into your basement. 

1. The first step to keeping a basement dry and the sump system from over working is prevention; downspouts should be extended at least 3ft awaydownspouts from the foundation or further if possible, gutters should be clear so water can flow to the areas you want to manage the water away from the home.
2. The sump pump pit should be clear of debris to ensure pump efficiency and prevent the float from being stuck in the closed or open position.
3. The sump discharge should terminate at least 3ft away from the foundation or further if possible.
4. The sump pump should activate prior to the inlet pipe being full. If the water level is set to high then the weeping tiles around the home will be full or partially full of water which will cause the footing to be damp and soften the soils and possible allow foundation movement. Damp weeping tiles will also promote root growth.

The need for a back-up system?

The main pump can fail at any time or power can be lost; both of which can if left unattended leave you with a damp or worse flooded basement.

Having a second pump powered by main line voltage will only ensure you basement won’t get wet if a main pump failure occurs and not protect you from power outages. A battery back-up system will provide some effectiveness but will only last as long as the battery charge holds; also you will have to replace the battery over time and continue to use electrical voltage to maintain the battery charge.

A water back-up system will provide coverage for both power outage and main pump failure. A water back up system such as the Liberty SJ10 system works on city water pressure. While there is a possibility that city water can be shut –off that probability is far lower than power loss. The Liberty SJ10 system works “only” when required and when partnered with an audible alarm or home security system you are notified when it has become active.

More information can be found here about the liberty SJ10 system

Real-time air pollution

Real-time air pollution & CO2 monitor lets you take the first step to breathing clean, healthy air.

W recently came across this great product that not only allows you to understand how your home air quality is effected by activity but also allows you to be part of the larger global action on air quality. With a AirVisual Node installed in your home you can locate the areas of concern that are effecting your indoor air quality. What a great idea!

Indoor air quality is a growing concern globally and locally, finally you now have a way to know exactly where, when and what are the causes to your indoor air quality.  You can also use it to monitor your indoor air quality equipments performance so you will better maintain the equipment and maintain that high quality of air you breath.

We have ordered ours and look forward to showing you how it works and being Niagara’s First?


Dust, Dust Mites Indoor Air Quality IAQ

A brief insight to Dust, Dust Mites and Indoor Air Quality

Indoor air quality (IAQ) is a term which refers to the air quality within and around buildings and structures, especially as it relates to the health and comfort of building occupants.

While there is little we can do about the exterior environmental conditions and the impact they make on our day to day lives there is plenty we can do to improve the indoor air quality of our homes and commercial spaces.

There are many different types of allergies a very short list:
Skin allergies, Dust allergies (Dust, Dust Mites), Pet allergies, Insect allergies and Mold allergies are some of the most common.

The above allergies can often be relieved or eliminated with good indoor air quality management.

Ventilation: the provision of fresh air to a room, building, etc

Filtration: the action or process of filtering something. (Dust, Dust Mites)
“small particles are difficult to remove without filtration”

Humidity: a quantity representing the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere.

Remediation: the action of remedying something, in particular of reversing or stopping environmental damage.

The most common question we receive is “My home is so dusty can you eliminate our dust?”

There really isn’t a simple answer here, but to say yes and no. We can eliminate the dust and dust mites that are harmful to your lungs and health that stay airborne, over time and with the right filtration system, but that visual dust which is so heavy probably not without removing the source. lennox pureaire filtration system

Dust and dust allergies make it difficult to breathe and may trigger asthma symptoms, such as wheezing, coughing, tightness in the chest and shortness of breath. People with dust allergies often suffer the most inside their own homes or in other people’s homes. Their symptoms often worsen during or immediately after vacuuming, sweeping and dusting. The process of cleaning can stir up dust particles, making them easier to inhale.

To manage a dust allergy, it’s best to avoid the things most likely to cause an allergic reaction. Here are some simple steps to reduce exposure to indoor dust:

• Install wood flooring rather than wall-to-wall carpets when possible, especially in bedrooms.
• Clean your house regularly, using a central vacuum or a vacuum with a HEPA filter. If you are allergic, wear an N95 filter mask while dusting, sweeping or vacuuming. (It can take more than two hours for the dust to settle after a thorough cleaning—so, if possible, clean when the allergic patient is away, and avoid cleaning the bedroom of an allergic person at night.)
• Use “mite-proof” cases on your mattresses and pillows. Wash all bed linens regularly, using hot water.
• Keep a HEPA air cleaner running in the allergic person’s bedroom.
• Keep pets out of the allergic person’s bedroom at all times.
• Install a high-efficiency media filter with a high MERV rating of 11 to 16 in the furnace and the air conditioning unit. Leave the fan on to create a “whole house” air filter system that removes particulates. Change the filter at least every three months (with the change of the seasons) to keep the air clean year-round. Have your heating and air conditioning units inspected and serviced regularly.

We offer FREE in home evaluations, particle counts and HEPA demonstration.
Call us today 289-397-0717

Get it done...the Acumenway!

Have you considered upgrading to variable capacity & Speed?

Variable Capacity

variable speed lennox signature series
Dave Lennox Signature SLP98V
Variable-Capacity Gas Furnace
The quietest and most efficient furnace you can buy*!
Efficiency Rating (AFUE): up to 98.7

Outside temperatures rarely, if ever, require your HVAC system to operate at 100% capacity.  Variable capacity units determine optimal cooling and heating needs and vary capacity in increments between 40% and 100%.  Not only does this tailor comfort, but by running at lower capacity and speeds you will  be consuming less power, you’ll save a significant amount off monthly utility expenses.

Variable Speed

Variable-speed technology allows more energy saving potential and improved comfort levels throughout the home.  The ability of the system to automatically adjust speeds according to the needs of the home ensures the right amount of comfort control, right when you need it.

OPA Grant Eligible

The Lennox Signature and Elite lines of furnace qualify for the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) grants. A Lennox furnace will not only keep you comfortable while saving energy in both cooling and heating but also qualifies for the OPA grant off $250.00.

Do I need to replace my air conditioner or need air conditioning to qualify for the grant?

No, you neither have to replace your existing air conditioning system or install a new air conditioning system in order to qualify for the grants.

Will the new furnace effect how my current air conditioner works?

Replacing your existing furnace with a new variable speed energy saving furnace will enhance you existing system. Many of our customers have found significant improvement of their existing air conditioning system with the improved air flow, the ability to reduce speed on start and dehumidify better.

This is what we like to see after our systems are set up. One of our systems in action dehumidifying.

Call us today 289-397-0717 for a free in home consultation.

Get it done...the Acumenway!

OPA, reinventing the wheel


After almost three months of waiting for the Ontario Power Authority OPA rebate system to come online we received an email this past weekend. Fantastic you think!, sadly not. Despite the fact this program has been running now in excess of 5 years on a system that has been almost bug free conception and end user friendly, we now have a new system for data to be entered.

How bad can it be?

Password resets on the new website don’t generate emails to reset passwords.

Usernames are not the same from the old system (You have to be clever to figure this one out)

The system will not auto-save an entry or allow for saving an entry to be finished on a later date/time (Step back from the old system)

So where do we go from here?

Well stay tuned. We have sent further emails to the respective representative in control but I’m sure ours will be one of many that come across the desk at HRAI.

Currently we can not enter any submission but we hope this week will be the last of the waiting.

What we had was system that worked and at the very most needed some tweaks, the overhaul of the website for submissions should have been a mere formality with little delay or need to reinvent the wheel. I’m sure there has been much talk around the office at HRAI and OPA about how they have improved the system and the cost to do so justified.

There are less professional and smaller operations that wouldn’t put out a system so poorly operable. Is this Windows 8 comparison , no but a few beta testers prior to launch and these issues as simple as they are non existent.

Its a little Monday rant!

Another successful Hamilton Home Show

Hamilton Home and Garden Show

The Greater Hamilton Spring Home Show took place this past March 4-6, it was another great success. Thank you to all our clients and to be clients that attended and stop by our booth. We enjoy these shows as they allow us to answer new and present customers questions and demonstrate our new product lines in home comfort.

With each show we learn a little something more about ourselves  as well as what our clients are looking for in a Home Comfort company.

Hamilton Home Show Hamilton Home Show homes show hamilton 2016