Archive for the ‘Heating / Cooling / A/C’ Category

Image courtesy of Deep-Fried Goodness

Condensation is common in homes and can cause serious issues like water stains on carpet, streaking on walls, mould / mildew can grow, your health may be affected because breathing in wet air is not good, mediums such as plasterboard and wood, including MDF may swell and disfigure and other damages, such as the tiles or grout falling off in the shower, which then provides a great place for mildew to grow undetected.

So what is condensation?

Quite simply, if the air inside the home has a high level of water vapour it is said to have a high humidity and the warmer the air the higher the humidity.  When air with a high humidity comes in contact with a colder surface, condensation will occur.

In Darwin the humidity is often very high, and a common problem occurs when you order your beer, within seconds condensation has formed on the outside of the glass and in a few minutes is streaming down the sides, which means every time you pick it up you end up with a wet hand.  This is clearly because the hot air has a high humidity which when touching the cold beer glass causes the condensation.

Of course you do not need to go to Darwin, condensation is very common in all homes that have a dryer or a shower, simply use either without ventilation and you will find streams of water and condensation on your windows, tiles, paint work etc.

How to control the level of condensation?

Controlling the levels of condensation within a home can be managed, but because many things can cause condensation there are many different ways to address it.  We explore each below:

1. Baths and Showers – Probably the most common cause of condensation in many homes is the bath or shower, and thankfully most homes have some level of protection against a build up of too much moisture in the form of an extraction fan.  Extraction fans can be attached to the wall or roof and deal with the moisture laden air by drawing it out of the room.  In addition to having an extraction fan, or if you do not have one, open a window to let the humid air escape and shut the door to outside rooms to contain the condensation to the one room.

2. Clothes dryer – Before running your clothes dryer always consider how you are going to let the humidity escape.  The best solution is an extraction fan, however many laundries do not have these attached.  Open the laundry door/window, or preferably both to let hot air escape.  Wipe down walls and windows that do become covered with condensation.

3. Cooking – Extractor fans while cooking are fantastic allowing steam to be removed, however you can also assist by not over boiling the contents and by using a lid to minimise the amount of steam.

4. Breathing – Well you can’t stop breathing, but you can minimise the condensation through breathing by maintaining a warm house.  This is particularly important in winter.  Our bodies are about 37 degrees, where as the air can get very cold 0-10 degrees depending on where you live.  In this instance the chances of condensation are much higher.  To reduce it, if you keep your house warmer by using heating and insulation.

Whether you decide you need fans, vents, heating or insulation check out the DIY Bargain Bin first.

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Image of CO Detector / Alarm sourced from Kidde's Website.

Over the past few weeks we have been exploring how to keep yourself save against the silent, odourless and tasteless killer, which is carbon monoxide or CO as it is often known.  As a result we were asked after our first post on the subject whether we thought it was worthwhile to purchase and install CO detectors?

Yes, if you were not aware, there is a detector, similar to a smoke detector, which will detect CO.  You can also readily get them in Australia, but they are not very popular, in fact, Energy Safe Victoria do not even recommend them.

Energy Safe Victoria indicate that the best defence from CO Poisoning is to follow the safety precautions we shared with you last week and to be aware of the symptoms.  If you are safe around CO then you should be well equipped in the unlikely event (especially if your appliances are serviced regularly) to ever need one.

The thing with a CO alarm is that we expect it would work in the same way as a smoke detector, beeping to let us know that the noxious gas was in the air and that we simply need to change the batteries each year.  That is not the case, there is more chance of false readings than with a smoke alarm and you are less able to tell whether to take them seriously, which could lead to complacency.  Also you will need to replace the whole unit when the sensor wears out, not just the batteries, so they can also prove to be expensive.

So while we would love to have alarms that will keep us safe 24 hours a day, the units are in general not yet reliable enough and viable enough to be recommended at this point.  That said technology is swiftly moving forward and I am sure it is only a matter of time before such a device does receive the Energy Safe Victoria’s recommendation.

If you do choose to have a CO detector installed, Energy Safe recommend checking that it is independently certified to BS EN 50291:2001 or later.  They also recommend you always follow the manufacturers’ siting and operating instructions.

Note: Although we feature an image from a manufacturer’s website, this is no reflection on this particular alarm as DIY Bargain Bin has not done any specific testing in relation to this article and has relied upon the recommendations of Energy Safe Victoria.

For all your alarm and security needs, check out the DIY Bargain Bin Home Security, Alarms, Cameras, Safes, Sensors and Smoke Detectors section.

Image courtesy of Kick Stock Photography

When the clocks go forward with daylight savings we now instinctively change the batteries in our smoke alarms.  It is a safety routine that keeps our families safe in the unlikely event of a house fire.  But what about our gas heaters?

Earlier this year detectives found two boys dead in their home in Victoria’s north-east, and although the finding is not yet back from the Coroner, the verdict, as a result of tests conducted by an Energy Safe Victoria inspector is that the deaths were likely caused by a faulty appliance. That appliance is most likely a standard gas heater.

So with the stakes so high, how can we ignore this?

Well, the reality is that until this event, I didn’t even think about my Gas heater.  I just didn’t realise there was such a large risk associated with it.

So I start looking and found that over the past few years there have actually been six deaths in Victoria from carbon monoxide poisoning associated with gas heaters.  But why?

Basically a faulty gas heater can cause carbon monoxide to be produced, which is invisible and has no smell or taste.  A heater could be faulty if it has an obstruction in the flue terminal or the ventilation is inadequate.

So what should you do?

Basically it is a simple message, have your appliances checked to ensure they are safe before each winter and service them at least every two years.  If you see a yellow or sooty flame, it is a clear sign that something is amiss with your heater.  Do not use it.

Be safe with gas this winter and read up on using gas wisely in the informative  Energy Save Victoria (ESV) important safety notice.

If your gas heater is faulty, or you think it is time you replaced it, the DIY Bargain Bin has gas heaters and other types of heating options available.