Have an HVAC or energy management question? Check out our archive of questions answered by company founder Dan Schmaus. Don't see your question answered? Feel free to submit a new question and we'll do our best to answer.
Founded by Dan and Jane Schmaus in 1981, and serving Vashon Island exclusively since 1996, Vashon Heating & Cooling has been focused on serving the HVAC and energy management needs of our Vashon neighbors for decades.
Editorial: There is Change coming in the way we think about crawl spaces.
Mankind has found shelter in many different places such as caves, grass huts, large tents, mud houses, brick and mortar structures and wooden buildings. These structures gave mankind the shelter he needed to provide protection from wild animals and survive the elements. All these structures normally sat right on the ground. Then someone thought of raising the structure off the ground to isolate us from the earth and water. Sounded like a good idea; except for one problem...
A crawl space does not isolate you from the moisture of the earth, which finds its way into your home. With moisture, come all sorts of indoor air quality problems such as, but not limited to, mold, mildew and dust mites, just to name a few. Plus rodents and spiders are attracted to moist areas. Unfortunately, moisture can also penetrate building materials and cause costly structural damage.
Dan Schmaus September 28, 2013
Don't see something listed here? Get in touch with us. We have decades of experience and can help you with almost any HVAC or energy management problem.
Don't see something listed here? Get in touch with us. We have decades of experience and can help you with almost any HVAC or energy management problem.
My oldest brother George (Bugs) was trained by my dad. Joe, my brother, is 3 years older than me, and worked with George. I worked with Joe as his apprentice. We worked for a company in Seattle called Gas Appliance Service for many years.
In 1980, I received further training at Brudvik School of refrigeration, and that provided me with a better understanding of the work that I was already doing. In 1981 Jane, my wife, and I started our own business, and worked in the Seattle area until 1995. Many Vashon residents requested that I start working here on the Island at their homes. After their request, I started working on Vashon in 1996. That was one of the best decisions that I have ever made.
Vashon has been such a great place to work and live. It became very apparent that I should be spending my time taking care of people on Vashon. Vashon Island has provided a good life for Jane and me, and our four children Kendra, Nathan, Nick and Jeffrey as well.
What I really like about my work, is doing a great job that will save my customers a lot of money in utility costs. It is also a really great feeling to come to the rescue when things stop working on that cold day and bring people warmth. Not having to catch that ferry every day has also been a great blessing.
I have to say that the most prized benefit is I am able to consider many of my customers my friends. What more can a man ask for? We look forward to many more years of serving Vashon Island and its people!
“I just realized I never sent you a note to say thanks. I was down at the house and everything came out awesome. Really appreciate the great work you did. It went well and above the call of duty. If I can be a reference for you on future jobs happy to help out.”
“Charles gave us a 5 star rating on ReviewBuzz and commented: "The annual service was performed on the day scheduled and was done promptly and thoroughly by the technician Dan. It is great to have a local HVAC service, since we live on an island. Thank you!"”
“Our customer gave us a 5 star rating on ReviewBuzz and commented: "Dan provides excellent HVAC equipment replacement and maintenance services. He verifies the proper equipment sizing for equipment replacements, efficiency rating options, and compatibility with remaining system components.
He also responds immediately to emergencies, which [he did to one] I had -- A heating system failure in early January. Thanks Dan for getting our heating system operational pronto."”
“We were called out to look at a heat pump that was no longer working. On examination, we found that there was a lot more wrong with the heating system than just the equipment. The General Contractor that had built the house did a beautiful job on the façade of the house, but the hidden parts, such as the mechanical were very poorly executed. Although the heating contractor had used steel ductwork, the gaps in the connections were so wide they allowed rats to crawl in and build nests inside the nice and warm supply air ducts. The workmanship was disgraceful! Either plumber or the cable guy knocked out a screen in a vent to get materials under the house and never put the screen back in. They made a rat super highway! If only the workers building the house had cared! We find this kind of poor workmanship a lot. We began by removing all the rat invested ducting and insulation that was under the house. Then, we preformed a thorough search of the crawl space to close off all access to the rodents from the outside. We replaced all ductwork, insulation, and vapor barrier with all new materials. All of the ductwork was sealed at the seams, and all other connections with fiber mastic were then wrapped with a 3 inch foil back insulation. The seams of the foil back insulation were also sealed with a metal tape, the securely hung with metal bands. Now, Steve and Cindy can breathe easy knowing that there air is clean of any nasty rodent droppings. We feel very good about the work we do and the health benefits it means for our customers.”
“The Vashon Pharmacy had trouble heating and cooling their building for many years. They had a 35 year old Lennox heat pump and a 10+ year old Trane heat pump. Because of its age, it was very difficult to keep the Lennox unit running. During hot summer days, the Pharmacy would lose some of their inventory because of the heat. The owners, Tom and Dave, and I, Dan, decided that new equipment was in order. I also recommended a change in fuel source because natural gas was available. We felt it would give us the best of both worlds to have gas heat with electric air conditioners. Upon inspection of the ductwork, we found that the ducting had been poorly installed 35 years ago, so this had to be corrected. We calculated a heat loss and heat gain on the building to make sure the new equipment was sized properly. We corrected the ductwork in the dropped ceiling area by sealing joints that had failed with fibered mastic. After making sure the ductwork was supported properly, we then installed two new gas\electric heating and cooling units. After the installation, Dave and Tom noted that this is the first time the building has truly been a comfortable work space. They also received a very nice rebate check from the local power company for using high efficiency equipment.”
Please feel free to contact us so we can assist you in improving your air quality, heating, air conditioning and ventilation.
We will add to this area frequently as we share the latest developments in the industry with you. It will then become part of our FAQ section below. Dan
~Displace not Replace your existing heating. (To move, shift, or force from the usual place or position:)
~Seldom are these systems designed to replace your existing heating system. Most of the time you will be required to keep the existing heat system as a back-up system.
~In order to get the refrigerant lines and electrical from the electrical panel to the outdoor unit and then to the indoor unit/units there will need to be lines run on the outside of the structure. Sometimes this is not a problem but on some installations this may not be an option because of cosmetics of the job. Careful consideration should be given to this aspect of the job.
~You need to be agreeable to have some kind of wall/ceiling/floor mount indoor unit installed in your home. (Some mini split ducted systems can go in attic or crawl spaces)
~These units are not maintenance free devices. They will need to be cleaned and serviced every year.
~This is complicated equipment! Who is going to fix it? We have found many installation companies that have no intention of maintaining this equipment and have no trained personal to fix it. SCARY! We are not trying to talk you out of purchasing these systems but we want you to be aware of these matters so you will make an informed decision and be happy with the outcome.
Clean Home Technology is the specific (and specific heavy duty materials) of sealing off the exposed earth under your home (and the moisture it contains) to prevent it from wicking up into your living space along with odors, mold, mildew and rodent feces, etc. It protects your conditioned air from being contaminated.
See the Clean Home Technology page.
Note: The typical "builder method" (6-mil black plastic on the dirt) will never be sufficient to "seal-off" the earth and prevent the subsequent damage to the under structure of your home and the air/odor infiltration.
Value-High Quality vs Price-Low Quality/p>
We feel our process is a lot more "up front" in providing a customer with a Heating and Cooling system-best suited for their home. We always look to provide the most value & highest quality for the money invested. We view the installation as we would want it installed in our home! Our crews are trained and given the time, on the jobsite, to do the best quality work that can be done; and that with our ten (10) year workmanship warranty! Many of the big city companies that we compete against have an interesting strategy that is misleading, to say the least. The hook is to advertise a bare bones price to get their salesman in the door with a very low quality- low price job. The salesman then upsells the customer to a premium, more costly job. This is not how we, at Vashon Heating, do business.
If you have ducting in an unconditioned area such as a crawl space or an attic, this is the greatest loss of heat since the methods of ducting used in the past were very poor. Also to be noted are brick fireplaces that have poor, stuck (open) or damaged dampers that suck the heat right out of your house. It's called the chimney effect for a reason!
~Poorly installed ducting See this photo!
~Infiltration (Air leaks around doors and windows)
~Ventilation (Home needs fresh air so this is a necessary thing. Consider a Heat Recovery unit--helps with this heat loss)
~The ceiling or lid of the house
Fixing your ducting has the greatest payback and will stop those annoying cold drafts !
This is a major decision that should be given careful thought. Here are the questions to ask before deciding to repair an older piece of equipment.
~Is my existing equipment having trouble keeping my house comfortable?
~How expensive is the repair going to be?
~Is my equipment past the halfway point of its lifespan?
~Are there other parts that are worn out that will need to be replaced in the near future?
~Are repair parts not available for my equipment? (Some parts for older equipment are no longer available nor supported by the manufacturer)
~Will I end up paying for an expensive repair and then have to replace the equipment anyway?
~How inefficient is my old equipment? Is it actually costing money to keep it?
~Will the new equipment be more efficient to operate?
~Will a new system do a better job to keep my home comfortable?
~Does the existing equipment present a safety hazard?
If the answer to the majority of these questions is "yes", then it would be prudent and a good investment to replace the older equipment.
~Variable Speed Heat Pump Systems are truly variable speed indoor and outdoor. The heat pump system ramps up/down to meet demand. The most energy efficient method to heat and cool your home. Variable only uses the energy needed for the demand either heating or cooling. Variable speed heat pumps reduce the likelihood of light blink at startup of system because of the lower amounts of starting amps needed.
~Two stage Heat Pump Systems have a high and low stage. The outdoor unit is not a variable speed unit.
~ Single stage Heat pump Systems have one stage, full on / full off.
~ Variable Speed Air Handlers come with a D/C motor which is the most efficient. The amount of air needed is programmed into the air handler speed controller and the air handler speed controller ramps up to the desired air volume and then ramps down when system is satisfied. Variable speed air handlers have a very low speed for air cleaning.
~ Standard Air Handler with a/c motor with up to 5 speeds. This air handler has a full on/full off feature. This air handler used in entry level equipment.
~ Standard One Inch Pleated Filter is a media filter that is about 30% efficient in catching particles.
~ Four Inch Pleated Filter is about the same efficiency but a much larger fill area.
~ Trane Clean Effects air cleaners filters out particles as small as small as .1 micron at 99.98% efficiency.
~ HD Trane Thermostat is a high definition screen easy to see and easy to hook up to your Wi-Fi.
~ Refrigerant R-410 is the new refrigerant gas that replaces R-22 that was used in older HVAC systems. Refrigerant R-22 is a ozone depleting refrigerant gas.
~ Ten-year workmanship warranty means we stand behind our installation 100% and if there is a malfunction because of our workmanship we will repair at no cost to the customer. When you have a company that does excellent work you can give and stand behind this warranty!
~ SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio--this is the most important in the cooling mode of the heat pump.
~ HSPF stands for Heating Seasonal Performance Factor--this is the most important in the heating mode of the heat pump.
~ COP stands for Coefficient of Performance. Higher COPs equate to lower operating costs. The energy going being used verses the energy being released as heat in your home. A heat pump has a COP normally from 2.5 to 4 COP. In simple terms for a dollar of energy bought by you from the local utility you get $2.5 to $4 dollars/ worth of heat in your house. That's where the savings of heat pump technology comes from.
~ BTU is a British Thermal Unit of energy. 1-BTU is the amount it takes to heat one pound of water one degree. (Standard air conditioning sizes are 24.000 to 60,000 BTU's or in A/C slang 2 to 5 ton)
~ One-Ton of refrigeration equals 12,000 Btu’s.
~ One-Ton of air conditioning requires 350 to 400 CFM of air movement.
~ CFM is Cubic Feet per Minute of air being pushed or pulled by a mechanical device.
~ CFH is Cubic Feet per Hour of air being pushed or pulled by a mechanical device.
Don't risk having your heat go off (think frozen pipes, etc) in your home here on Vashon! We provide the service to check on your heating system before you come over or periodically if you'll be away. Please call so we can discuss our Peace of Mind Service.
Washington State requires this licensing:
• Current and valid Washington State business license and local city registrations.
• State of Washington General contractor license, with proper Bonding.
• State of Washington L&I Electrical Contractor Licenses: Washington Electrical 06A Administrator must be on-staff, Electrical 06A journeyman and Electrical 06A Trainee cards. Plus, Bond needed for Electrical license.
• Universal refrigeration license. Note: To maintain L&I contractor’s licenses in the State of Washington, many hours of continuing education are required each year. Also, before electrical licenses are issued, a candidate is tested by Washington State Dept. of Labor & Industries.
To safeguard our Clients’ property, we must meet qualifications to perform work at their homes. These types of insurance are needed in Washington State:
State “Workman’s comp.” - Dept. of Labor & Industries for employees: One very important matter is continuing insurance on our people through Dept. of Labor & Industries. If our people get hurt on your property, L&I will take care of the claim. If a homeowner engages non-insured workers, then they could be held responsible for medical bills in event of injuries. The homeowner should make sure any contractors they hire are properly covered.
Liability Insurance: General insurance covers events in case of damage to property. We also carry specialty auto and umbrella insurance with our policy. Without insurance, it could be a real problem for you to get reimbursed for claim repairs from your own homeowners’ insurance.
We carry a one million dollar insurance policy. We also are bonded $4000.00 electrical and $12,000.00 general.
Natural gas is my first choice, followed by electric heat pump systems. Fossil fuels, such as propane and oil are my last choice.
Each house and building is different and the optimal type of heating equipment needed will vary. A heat load/heat loss calculation is required in order to properly size the equipment. Do not do business with anyone that does not provide this. An annual cost comparison between different systems is also helpful in choosing the right heating system.Whatever is installed must be done by a qualified crew that cares about the quality of their work. Enough time must be allotted for the crew to do a high quality job for you. That's why selecting the lowest bid is not necessarily always the best choice. If the “cheaper” work fails in a short period of time, then your original investment is lost!
The cost will vary from house to house because the scope of work will be different. We are happy to provide a proposal of work at no cost to the home owner.
Jane and I started our business in 1981 in the North Seattle area. We started doing work on Vashon in 1996. You can read about how we got started on the Our Story page.
I am one of your neighbors and as such I have a vested interest in keeping you happy. The only reason we have survived this recession is because our customers want us to. As a successful contractor told me, "If you want to survive, do good work" and that is what we have worked hard to do!
The men that we send to your home have all worked many years with me and have my complete trust! We would never send a stranger into your home.
We also provide a 10 year workmanship warranty. We stand behind the quality of our work!
They are off-island strangers and you have no way of knowing who the men working on your house are.
Also, because of the recession, off-island contractors are hungry enough to work here now but when things get better they won't be too happy sending crews over the ferry. I see many old tags on equipment of companies that are either out of business or refuse to service homes on the Island anymore.
The Seattle\Tacoma companies and their crews have no vested interest in Vashon Island customers, in my opinion. Once they get your money you will probably never see them.
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