Archive for Comfort & Safety

Dirty Sock Syndrome

dirty_sockIf you smell something when your A/C first starts up and / or when your heat pump goes into defrost…

From the Desk of Tom Pugh, Residential Service Manager

Dirty Sock Syndrome is a product of the environment.  Where you live can have a lot to do with whether or not you will have Dirty Sock; it is not the equipment’s fault.  That being said, we sometimes have clients experience Dirty Sock after installing a new unit.  They’ll tell us that they never smelled it with the old unit; it’s just since the new unit was installed.  They are correct!

The new evaporator coils are larger and run at a warmer temperature because of government mandates for higher SEER ratings.  This 2-3° difference has opened up a new can of worms.  It is estimated that up to 2% of all HVAC systems in North America have Dirty Sock Syndrome.

The cure is not always simple.  One way to eliminate the problem is to coat the coil with a sealant that will prevent the microbiological growth from adhering to the coil.  The sealant makes the coil slick.  Another way is to install indoor air quality accessories, like a UV light or bipolar ionization system.  These can come with a cost of $1,000-$2,000.

Bottom line:  the bacteria / microbiological growth is a nuisance for the homeowner, but can be treated.  Contact us today if you’re experiencing Dirty Sock Syndrome – we can help!

Whole-House Dehumidification Systems

One product we like to recommend to our clients is a whole-house dehumidification system.  When you’re looking at ways to increase your comfort during the humid summers in Richmond, one of these can make a huge difference.

A well-insulated, tightly-built home, while efficient, can trap moisture, causing a sticky feeling, window condensation, odors, and uncomfortable conditions.  A whole-house dehumidification system removes that moisture, and unlike a portable dehumidifier, it doesn’t require manual emptying.

While your air conditioner can bring your home’s temperature down to where you set it, it can’t always remove the humidity down to a comfortable level.  Without a dehumidifier, you might find your home is at your desired temperature, but you’re still uncomfortable!  On the other hand, with a dehumidifier, you may actually be able to turn your thermostat up and run your air conditioner less, saving on cooling bills, because the dehumidifier costs less to run than the air conditioner.

We install several major brands of dehumidifiers, including Honeywell and AprilAire.  They require little maintenance, usually just a filter change once per year.

Contact us today for more information!

Time to Clean Your Chimney!

santa_clausThis is just a reminder that if you use your chimney, you should have it checked out by a qualified chimney service.  For your family’s safety, it’s important to make sure it’s free of dangerous creosote deposits and other debris.

In addition, if Santa goes down your chimney and gets all dirty, he’s likely to put you on the naughty list.  You don’t want, do you?

James River Air does not provide chimney cleaning services, but we often work with Chimney Saver Solutions and think highly of them!

Residential Fall Preparation Checklist

It’s time again to look at preparing your home for cold weather.  Here’s a helpful set of tips:

  • Make sure your vents are closed if you have a crawlspace.  In our area, because of our climate, they should be closed year-round.
  • Make sure your outdoor unit is clear of any debris.
  • Check your windows for leaks or cracks, and install weatherstripping in any gaps.  Caulk any cracks around the frame that need to be filled.
  • If you have an oil or gas furnace, make sure to have it checked and cleaned.
  • Check your gutters; make sure they are clear, clean, and secure.
  • Check your attic for any insects or other animals that may be have gotten in.
  • Replace the batteries in your CO and smoke detectors.
  • If you have a fireplace, make sure you’ve cleaned out any old ashes, made sure the damper is working properly, and have had the chimney tested.
  • Drain and winterize any outdoor faucets or irrigation systems before freezing weather comes.
  • If your water heater is older and has never been flushed, call us to help flush built-up sediment from the tank.
  • Check water pipes to make sure that any exposed ones are insulated properly.
  • Make sure that you have a good fire escape plan and an easily accessible fire extinguisher.
  • Assemble some emergency kits, containing supplies like batteries, non-perishable food, blankets, and flashlights.

James River Air Conditioning is always here to help with any of your home’s heating, cooling, plumbing, or electrical systems – and we service appliances as well!

Allergy Season is Here!

Allergy season is here, and many of us in Central Virginia are feeling the effects.  Here’s an article from WebMD about how to help ease your symptoms.  Note that one of them is changing your air conditioner / heat pump filter monthly!

James River Air can be a part of the solution to your allergy issues.  We offer duct cleaning services, specialty air filters, and air purification products.  Contact us today for more info!

Are you Ready for the New HVAC Efficiency Standards?

There are more changes coming related to equipment energy standards and the refrigerants that are used in units that provide cooling light-bulb-297489_640and heating. Most equipment manufacturers are now working on new designs that may increase the size of the units and change the type of refrigerant needed for their operation. It will be important to have your team educated on these changes so that a plan can be developed and a budget set to address the cost of theses changes. To help pay for these upgrades, you may want to consider an equipment leasing program that, in some cases, will pay for itself with the energy savings.  This would also be a good time to evaluate your needs to make sure your equipment meets your current requirements.  The best way to do this is to have an equipment asset evaluation performed on your facility.

James River Air Conditioning can provide assistance in evaluating and developing a plan to meet the new standards – just e-mail us or give us a call!

Comfort & Safety Story – Mrs. Harris

Here’s an especially touching story from our Comfort and Safety program.

Mark, one of our residential service technicians, went out on a service call for Mrs. Harris, who has ALS.  He found that her system needed to be replaced and it was going to cost more than she could afford.  Mark offered to do the labor for free if James River Air would donate the equipment.  Carrier gave James River a discount on the equipment, and James River in turn donated the equipment and materials.

Mrs. Harris and her family were very appreciative.  They set up an umbrella for him so he wouldn’t be so hot outside.  The daughters also made him fried chicken and a cake!

Mark deserves a big thank you; this was a really kind gesture on his part!  It is nice to know that Mrs. Harris will be comfortable now thanks to Mark and James River Air.


Comfort & Safety 2013-2014: Another Success Story

We’re pleased to bring you another success story from our Comfort & Safety program!

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Here’s the nomination we received for this project:

“I got home this evening just in time to catch your television ad to offer assistance to needy families. There is a husband and wife in my community that live only on social security and are trying to heat their home with space heaters. Their furnace and a/c system stopped working over a year ago. The husband is the only caregiver for his wife who suffers from advanced rheumatoid arthritis as well as cardiomyopathy. To have their heating and air conditioning facilities repaired or replaced would be the nicest thing anyone has done for them in a very long time; they obviously cannot afford ANY repair costs. I’ve been a James River customer for many years, and would appreciate an opportunity to tell you more about this couple.

Due to medical expenses beyond their control they are unable to maintain their home and it is in need of significant repair.  First and foremost, this past summer they only had window air conditioning units for cooling and they use space heaters for warmth.  It’s my understanding that the furnace blower/fan still functions but they no longer use it since it doesn’t provide heat or cooling”

We visited the couple and realized this was definitely a situation where James River could help.  We installed a new outdoor unit, gas furnace, indoor coil, thermostat.  Below are some before and after pictures of the system.  Thank you to the individual who nominated this couple; we’re glad we could help!













Comfort & Safety 2013

As you may have heard, this year James River Air ran our Comfort & Safety promotion where we accepted third-party nominations for area people in need of heating, cooling, plumbing, or electrical help.

Although we stopped accepting applications on December 24, 2013, we are still continuing to go through all those that we received and are helping as many people as we can.  We’ll post some examples of some of the people we’ve been able to help over the coming weeks; here’s the first one we have.

We received the following request:  “I am requesting help for one of the kindest souls I know. This lady gives of herself 150% so there is nothing left for her self. She really deserves to have someone in her corner for a change. This is why I am asking from the bottom of my heart to help this heavenly soul to repair her heat exchanger. She paid another company $89 just to tell her that when they switched the unit on, flames rolled out of the top causing the rollout switch to shut off. He quoted her a cost that was too expensive for her to pay. The part may have been covered but the labor is not at all affordable. (Regina is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of house). In her time of need there is no one there to help her as she is always there for everyone down to her last dime. On cold days she has electric heaters in two of three bedrooms ( the doors have to be closed to remove the chill) . She has tried to use the fireplace to heat the living room but the cost of firewood and logs outweigh the amount of heat given out. She has no other choice but to turn to an unsafe option of using oven to remove chill from the remainder of the house, still leaving one bedroom freezing. She can’t afford any more heaters or comforters at this time. Also she is still recovering from the cost of of replacing a sewer system ($3000) and is still having plumbing issues… [she] gives so much of her time and energy to others I really hope this requests warms James River Heating and Air Conditioning to choose [her] as a recipient of your services.”

We were able to replace the heat exchanger, draft inducer, and thermostat. She is back up and running now! Here are some pictures from the job, including the heat exchanger with the huge hole in it!




Maintenance Inspections & Home Safety

It’s that time of year again to get your heating system checked.  Please remember, this isn’t just about keeping your system running efficiently… it’s about safety, too!  If you have a gas or oil heating system, it’s especially important to have it checked out.  Mark, one of our residential service techs, noticed this rotted flue pipe during an air conditioning inspection.  Luckily he was able to replace it before the owner used their heating system; it would have poured carbon monoxide into their home!

Call or e-mail us today to schedule your inspection!


Mark with Rotted Flue Pipe