Furnace Filters

It’s time again for another reminder to change your furnace filter. While I don’t have any statistics or researched data sitting in front of me, I would risk guessing that a large number of furnace repair service calls in Regina could be avoided if filters were being replaced regularly. I’m talking about maybe thirty or even forty percent of calls stem from this issue.

A clogged filter will reduce the airflow returning to your furnace that will then be heated and delivered to your heat registers. This reduction in airflow causes the furnace to overheat and shut down due to safety concerns.

Don’t feel bad though if you are one of those many people who had to call for service only to fin out a clogged filter was the culprit. Our lives themselves are very hectic and it’s easy to forget about the filter duct away in the furnace. Generally your standard filter should be change every three months. This time line varies though deeding on the type of filter you have. I personally use a filter that only needs to be changed once a year. Others are reusable and simply need to be cleaned.

Always remember to point the arrow marked on the filter TOWARDS the furnace, as well, another good tip is to write the month it was installed directly on the filter to help you remember when it needs to be replaced.

I hope this helps!

Thanks,

Brenden

Winter home protection tips.

Waking up this past Saturday I can’t say I was thrilled to see the snow that had fallen. Gladly most of it has gone away since then but we all know sooner than later Regina will see a downfall that decides to stay.

Flashing back to a clip I saw last week on the morning news. The segment was about how to winterize your home. They had an “expert” on to give his tips and advice. What proceeded between the “ummms” and the “uhhhs” was a 3 minute commercial for his company. TV interviews due often have such strict time windows that it’s almost impossible to really share any steak. You really only are given time for the sizzle. The following is Family Plumbing and Heating’s $0.98 opinion.

The morning news expert wasn’t all wrong. (C’mon, I gotta give him a little credit) He did have a couple things right.

Regularly replace furnace filters: This cannot be said enough because it is always forgotten. Generally speaking filters should be replace every 3 months. I’ve talked about it before that if you pull your filter out and hold it up to the light, if the light does not shine through, time to replace. A clogged filter reduces the air flow in the home and will cause too much heat to stay trapped within the furnace and you’ll soon overheat the equipment.

Have your furnace maintained: This cannot be said enough, because number 1 is so often forgotten. Too many homeowners are just trusting that because their furnace hasn’t had any problems the previous years there’s no need to worry. Don’t let yourself fall into a false sense of security. Having a TRAINED, QUALIFIED technician who has previous experience working on your furnace can help stop problems before they happen or at the very least identify any issues that may be coming your way.

(I don’t know if anyone noticed how I was holding down the caps lock button when I typed trained and qualified, but it’s very important. You can hire the “expert” to send out a random tech to service your furnace but I first hand have seen apprentices 3 weeks in to the trade misdiagnose and charge homeowners for repairs they didn’t need. Simply because they had no idea what they were up to.)

Now lets get to some of the tips he left out.

Fill the cracks: You could heat your home up as much as you want but if the structure isn’t sealed tight your just wasting money. If you live in a older neighbourhood in Regina it would beneficial if you had your home inspected for any possible leakages. Old windows, doors, siding, and poor insulation all contribute to allowing the heat to escape from your home. If there are visible cracks, grab some weather resistant caulking and seal them. New weather stripping can also help on old doors. And worst case Ontario, install the ever so ugly plastic wrap on the windows.

Hopefully you’ve already cleaned your gutters. Buildup in the eavestrough can lead to ice damming on your roof which will begin to seep inside your house. The not so costly investment of a roof rake is worth it during Winters with heavy snowfall. The less snow you keep on your home’s roof the better.

Cover the air conditioner: Wether you have a cover or you simply bought a tarp with some bungee cords, covering the ac will help it withstand some brutal Winter weather.

What about the sprinklers and hose bibs?: If you haven’t yet it’s probably too late now but make sure to blow compressed air though to clear out any water in your sprinkler system to avoid ice build up that will end up breaking the pipe. While your at it turn on the valves that lead to your outside taps for the same reason.

Bundle up: Oh no, my Grandma was right! Wearing warm clothes inside can help raise your body’s temperature and reduce the need to run the furnace.

Keep doors closed to unused rooms at all times to help hold in the heat.

My last little known fact of the day is if you have a ceiling fan, many of them can be reversed so the blades spin the other way. This will help force any warm air back down closer to the floor. Just remember to flip it back come Summer.

Even with all the advice in this post, there is probably a lot I’ve missed and maybe some other things I haven’t seen yet. The main point I am suggesting is that we all know Saskatchewan Winter’s are tough and due to the regularly extreme cold stints can be very hazardous to our homes and businesses. Protecting your investment from Winter damage is always worth the money. The more you can stay ahead of these problems will help keep the value of those investments. Now lets hope for a mild Winter and an early Spring!

Furnace Efficiency Explained…..I hope

Hello Regina, now I know that everyone who reads this blog is a bona-fide intellectual and wold never ever need anything dumbed down for them. But lets just say for the sake of argument there’s that one lost soul whose stumbled upon this website and isn’t as up to date on all the plumbing and heating happenings like you or I are. Today’s post is going to be about efficiency and what it means when a plumber talks about it.

Efficiency, generally speaking, means accomplishing a task using the least amount of wasted energy. In my examples energy will be represented as natural gas or propane, and our task will be heating a home. Furnace efficiency ratings are commonly expressed as AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency). This rating will express what percentage of energy is used for actually heating the home vs. how much will be wasted. For example if a furnace had a AFUE rating of 80%, your furnace is using 80% of the energy to raise the indoor temperature while the remaining 20% is lost as exhaust. Financially that means for every $1 you spend on your heating, 20 cents is essentially wasted.

This is also taking into account your furnace is working to it’s best performance. There are plenty of furnaces in Regina that have been hidden away by their owners and denied proper maintenance. Blower motors packed with dirt, hair and who knows what else cannot operate properly and will cause you to run your furnace longer, which in turn costs you $$$. An 80% efficient furnace from 2000 will likely be closer to 70% or lower depending on how much it has been cared for. And for all you holdouts out there who vehemently argue that your 30+ year old furnace is just as good as any new one, your likely anywhere in the range 50%-60%.But money is not the sole reason a homeowner should be thinking about efficiency. The older the furnace, the more carbon being produced and released into the atmosphere.

Anyone in the market for purchasing a new furnace will be looking at what is considered high efficient. This means anything 90% or higher. What achieves that high rating is the inclusion of the secondary heat exchanger. Basically the secondary heat exchanger recaptures and extracts heat that would normally be lost in the exhaust of a mid or low efficient furnace.

To sum it all up, the higher the efficiency rating the more money stays in your pocket. I hope this little blog helped. Later this week I’m hoping to have some time to explain single stage, two stage, and modulating furnaces.

See ya soon!

 

Furnace Q and A

 

Temperature is dropping, leaves are changing, and I’m aging incredibly well. All signs that tell me it’s Fall in Regina and Winter is coming (I feel like I’ve heard that somewhere). For my line of work it also means everyone is shutting down their air conditioners and turning on furnaces, so I thought I’d do a quick Q & A of some of the more frequently asked questions I hear this time of year.

Is there anything I need to do for my air conditioner?

Yes, please cover your condenser outside. If you already own a cover, great, if not don’t worry. Head to Home Depot and buy a tarp and some longer bungee cords. Cover the condenser with the tarp and wrap the bungee cords around it to hold the tarp in place. With leaves and what not falling from the trees and swirling through the air, this is going to keep the coil clean. And while snow wont necessarily damage the unit taking this step will help to prolong the life of your condenser’s electrical components.

What should I do before I turn on my furnace?

Pray to the furnace gods for a season of unencumbered warmth.

Should I have my furnace inspected?

Yes, yes, yes. Furnace inspections/maintenances are always a good idea. The furnace is one of, if not, the most important piece of equipment in your home, so it should go without saying that you should do whatever possible to protect it. A furnace maintenance allows a trained technician a chance to stop any problems BEFORE they happen. (I’m talking about you flame sensors!) Or allow the homeowner to be aware of problems that may be developing and could become an issue further down the road. Most companies in Regina offer some form of furnace inspection and they generally run fairly inexpensive. I recommend every homeowner should have their furnace maintained once a year.

IMG_6272-4_web
A furnace in the middle of an install we did last month in Regina

My furnace stopped working, is there anything I can do myself?

I can provide two tips I’d love every homeowner to know.

  1. Check your filter. It’s so easy to forget to replace your furnace filter but eventually it will collect enough contents that it will become fully clogged and prevent enough airflow to shut down the furnace. For your average filter I recommend to replace every three months. If you hold it up to the light and you can’t see any shine through, toss it out. If light passes through, feel free to slide it back in.

**Disclaimer: The previous sentence was rated PG-13**

2) Check for power. This happens more than you’d guess, especially in the summer for some reason, but often the switch to the furnace is accidentally flipped. Usually located at the top of the stairs leading to the basement, there is a switch that provides power to the furnace. Most of the time it gets flipped when guests just start randomly pressing switches trying to get the basement lights to shut off. Both of these are simple tips that can save you money and time shivering in the cold.

But beyond those two suggestions there isn’t much I can recommend. Furnaces can be complexed pieces of equipment that can become very dangerous if improperly repaired.

When should I consider getting a new furnace?

This isn’t a simple answer. There are many different factors that take place when deciding if your need to replace vs. repair. Age, cost, and urgency all play major factors in making this decision. If your furnace is less than ten years old I would generally lean to repairing the unit. There is still some life left in it and depending on the furnace, you may also have some warranty still.

Between ten to fourteen years is debatable. This is when you really need to consider how much your investing into a furnace that may only have a few years left. If your quoted anything between $600-$1000 I would seriously consider getting a quote for a replacement furnace as well.

After fourteen years its safe to say replacement is your best bet. The furnace has been well used and will soon be old enough to get a drier’s license. Investing in a unit is investing money to buy a new paddle for a boat with a hole in it. At this point you’ve likely already needed 2 or 3 repairs, and will likely see them more frequently if you decide to just repair.

Final question, does Family Plumbing and Heating fix furnaces?

Yes, of course we do! We have vast experience on all major brands as well as the ability to work on fireplace, garage heaters, or basically anything you’re using to stay warm.

Michelle Pheifer or Calista Flockhart?

Last night Carissa started watching Supergirl on Netflix. She was going on and on about how good Michelle Pheifer still looks. I finally looked up to give C-Rocket the bad news, that wasn’t Michelle Pheifer, it was Calista Flockhart. Her mind could not be changed until we made a bet and a quick Google image search once again proved how talented I am at recognizing Miss Ally McBeal. What did I win you ask? I would not have to make supper the following night. What am I doing now you might ask? (Besides writing this) I’m making supper. I’m making supper because operating Family Plumbing and Heating allows me the opportunity.

regina plumber heating affordable

The work life of a service plumber can be very gruelling. Plumbing troubles are always happening and often need to be addressed immediately. You can bet the house (especially on a Friday) that at 4:30 you’ll have wrapped up your last call and driving home and like clockwork  the work phone will ring.

Office: Hi Brenden

Me: Yeeeees?

Office: A homeowner just called in, their water heater burst and they have water everywhere.

Now every tech’s initial reaction is to tell the office where to go and how to get there. But that’s not the name of the game, it’s not what we signed up for.

Me: Okay, send me the address, I’ll head there right now.

And now I know that even though I have been rolling since 7:30 in the morning, I likely will not be home for another 2-3 hours.  Too many times can I count how many plans I’ve cancelled last minute or refused to make plans at all out of fear of jinxing it. Not just suppers either. I’ve missed concerts, birthdays, and funerals just to name a few. All due to a profession that does not limit itself to between the hours of 9 to 5. (Dolly?) There have been years where I’ve felt as if I was on call 24/7, even if I wasn’t that night’s on call tech the call load could be so large backups were needed. And not to get into the whole work-life balance spiel but too much work does burn a person out.

*And yes, I’m not a crazy person, I know there are countless other professions that come with this same lifestyle. This post is for all of us.*

But now owning Family Plumbing and Heating has allowed me the opportunity to have a little more control over my work life. While I was at home today going through invoices I was also able to cook supper for Carissa and the kids. This was a task that usually would fall upon Carissa as I would not be home for another hour. (Or until all the little water heaters go to bed for the night). Tomorrow I get the treat to walk my son Smith to his first day of Kindergarten. I have been looking forward to this all summer. I don’t have to feel guilty for taking the time off, or feel the need rush back to work. I can simply enjoy the moment. And don’t think for one second I don’t recognize who is helping to give me this opportunity. Tyler and I thank each and every one of you who take the time to read our posts, and allow us into your homes. We couldn’t do this without you, and our goal is to repay you with the best service possible.