Leave your furnace fan ON!

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A secrete you should know about your furnace.FCS3263_Fig1_EnergyStar-CommonDuctProblems

Most of us believe that if we are using power in our homes we are spending money. We are of course, but sometimes we have to spend a little to save a lot. Many times I have advocated and explained to my clients the benefits of running the fan in a furnace 24/7. The benefits are three fold.

First, the electric motor that runs the fan is designed to run all the time. To get an electric motor moving it takes a surge of power, sort of a kick-start. Each time we kick start the fan motor, that kick hurts it a little bit. After many years of getting kicked the motor life is shortened

Second, by running the fan you are re-circulating the air in your home. The majority of air returns are located in the ceiling. That is also where the warmest air in your home congregates. In two story homes one of the return air ducts are at the top of the stairs in the ceiling of the hall or landing. Heating systems are designed that way because heat rises and the return air duct are located in ceiling to capture the warm air and put it back through the system using it again to heat your home. I inspected a home a few months ago that didn’t have a return air upstairs. In two hours the temperature on the main floor went up one degree, from 61 to 62. The heat was rising up the stairwell making the upstairs 78 degrees.

Over the years, clients have shared with me money saving on their heating bills after they started running their furnace fans all the time. The lowest savings was $400.00 a year and the most, the house was a large two story with very tall ceiling, was $100.00+ dollars a month. It cost about $200.00+- a year to run the fan all the time. Running the fan will make your home warmer, eliminate dead air spots and save you money.

Third, as the air is recalculated through the furnace it passes through the filter and is cleaned. The air in your home is about five times more polluted than the air outside. Air in the home is spoiled from smoking, heating fires, cooking, cleaning chemicals, building products, pets, kids…  One person told me that they run their fan all the time to help heat their home, but didn’t realize the filtering benefits until she took her five year old computer in for repair. When the technician took the outer case off the computer, there was no dust on the inside of the computer! It takes about twenty minutes to clean the air in a 2000 square foot home.

A top quality filter can take micro particles out of the air. For those who have pollen or pet allergies, this can be very beneficial. I would recommend using the best washable, reusable filter you can find. They cost a little more upfront, but will usually pay for themselves in a year and will last many years. Even quality filters should be cleaned or changed about every ninety days, depending on the environment in your home. A dirty filter restricts air flow, over heats the fan motor and will cost you more money to heat and cool your home.

Anyway, for what it’s worth.

Gazebo Satellite Project

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I’ve always thought those big satellite dishes were so cool. I figured with the proper tweaking you could probably pick up just about any transmission, including signals sent from outer space. One day as I was driving by my neighbors I noticed that he had one in his scrap pile. Well with a little expert negotiating and $20, it was mine.

The first thing I did was mount it to the front end loader on my tractor so I could adjust the angle and height easily. Then I soldered some old ear phones to it so I could hear any signal it might pick up.14

After several hours of driving around my field with the satellite dish mounted to my tractor I realized that all I was doing was burning diesel. I got off my tractor and sat in the shade of the dish to try to decide what I was going to do with the useless 10 round hunk of aluminum. Clearly my expectations of the dish were over estimated. As I sat in the cool shade of the dish it occurred to me that if I turned the dish over it would form a dome type roof that would offer very good shade.

That thought stuck with me for several days until my wife, Tibby, said, “We should grow some table grapes.” And I thought, why not. We grow ten different types of fruit trees, three types of berries, avocados, grass hay, two types of fish, goats, donkeys, a dog, a cat and our own beef, why not table grapes?

I told her we would need a trellis or gazebo to grow them on and she said, “I’m sure you’ll figure something out.” I thought…”That’s odd, she is leaving it up to me on how to build something?” It was almost alien to our usual conversations. She usually thinks I need a lot of supervision. Then that word alien reminded me of trolling for signals from outer space and that reminded me of the dome of the satellite dish and what good shade it was. Then my mind, working like it does, though about sex, but after that I started to formulate a plan to use the 10 dome as the roof of a grape trellis/gazebo.gazebo finished 012

So here is how I built the grape gazebo. I bought, from the same neighbor, some big metal warehouse rack legs for $20.00 and mounted them to the dome. Using some ¾ conduit, I made some bracing to keep the legs and dome stable. I went to the farm store and bought some cattle panel fencing to use for the railing around the gazebo. Topped the railing with some 1” black poly pipe and used some 11/2” ABS sewer pipe, slightly used, for trim and to attach the cattle panel to the legs. I had to cut the 4’ cattle panels down to 3’ to make the rail the right height, so I used the left over 12” for a trellis around the bottom of the dome for the grapes to hang on as they grow around the dome. Some black paint, Tibby’s choice of color, and it was done.

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Call me brilliant or call me a red neck, either way… I’m good with that.