Tyler and I have started 2019 off the same way we left 2018; hitting up call after call and having a blast while we do it. January has included quite a few starts to some renovation projects and the beginnings to what looks like a busy spring with clients asking us to quote them on their new builds. Working with clients on a new build can be very rewarding because A) there is nothing better than roughing in a house in the Summer, and B) you get the opportunity to help build what is potentially the client’s dream home and know you’re working on a project that will last a long time. 10 years from now when I’m teaching Smith to drive I’ll sit in the passenger seat and annoyingly point out every house in the neighbourhood I’ve built like every other trades-dad does.
As usual furnaces and boilers are shutting down when you would least like them to. Furnace repairs in Regina love to take place on weekends and holidays for some strange reason, but fortunately it has not been an overly cold winter until recently, this has helped a lot of older equipment limp through one more cold season. For a lot of homeowners, remember to replace your furnace filter (obviously you have already read our last post though), get a furnace maintenance completed and you may be able to make it to spring in one piece.
We also have entered the Regina Spring Home Show and have been getting prepared for a busy weekend, meeting everyone excited about their home renovations and also seeing all the other exhibitors that are set up. I attended last year and couldn’t believe the amount of booths that were a part of the show. Whatever renovation you might be planning, this is definitely the event you want to attend. The sheer deck building prowess in the room is palpable.
As always please follow along with us on Facebook @ Family Plumbing and Heating and Instagram @family_plumbing and feel free to call us anytime 306-519-3722
A common question I get asked by clients is what kind of fixture they should buy for their upcoming renovation. Walking into Home Depot or Rona you can become overwhelmed with aisles full of faucets, shower trim, and toilets. It’s hard to tell where the quality fixtures are hiding and which ones are just shiny pieces of stainless steel. Here are some quick guidelines to help you make the best purchase possible.
1) Stick with the big names: Moen and Delta are the general go to’s. They have been around forever and aren’t going anywhere soon. This means that if a repair is needed the technicians have likely seen this problem before, have experience fixing it and replacement parts will be readily available. Large department stores don’t often carry the parts for their in-store brands. You may save money up front but will pay extra once it breaks down.
2) Cheaply priced, cheaply made: If you pay next to nothing for a kitchen faucet (less than $100), it would be considered a cheap faucet. It is likely made with a lot of plastic which degrades quickly especially depending on the hardness of your water. Sometimes it will be hard to stomach the price tag on some faucets but trust me, you’ll end up replacing the cheap faucet well before you replace a more expensive counterpart.
3) What about high end?: There are some very nice faucets and fixtures out there if you have the money. Two notes to remember for this category are the more expensive the fixture, usually the cost of install will rise as well. And as I’ve mentioned before, fewer clients go for the high end fixtures which means technicians have had less experience installing them which can lead to mistakes on the install.
4) Stick to the middle of the road: This will give you the most reward for your money. Not too expensive and not too cheap. These fixtures and faucets will check off all the boxes. Look nice, repair parts available, and technicians have experiencing repairing.
5) What type of toilet should I buy?: This is another common question. Now while there are some pretty cool fancy toilets out there, your money likely could be better well spent. I mean c’mon, we all know what we use it for! For around $150 you can find a lot of quality toilets.
If you find yourself standing in Home Depot scratching your head feel free to call Family Plumbing and Heating with any questions. We love talking about this stuff!
Recently Family Plumbing and Heating replaced a boiler for a home in South Regina. We were originally called on site for a no heat but after diagnosis, the conclusion was that replacement parts were going to be hard to source (if they were still even made) and the client’s money would be better spent on a new system. (The existing system was almost old enough to collect a pension!)
Working tirelessly, we were able to bring this 1960’s system up to 2018 standards over the course of three days. Luckily we have been experiencing a fairly warm winter and Family Plumbing and Heating also provides portable heaters for our clients’ if they need to be without heat overnight. Now in the previous example when there is no other choice, replacements need to go in ASAP. But if possible, the best time to replace a boiler is in warm whether while it’s still operational.
But why would I replace it when it still works? You’re going to have to hear me out on this one. Boiler replacements are not as straight forward as other heating systems. 9 times out of 10 furnace replacements are easily done in a day, while updating boilers systems can sometimes feel like you are starting from scratch. With all the work involved, the last thing you want as a technician is to feel rushed during an extensive install. And for the financial investment a homeowner is going to make would they want the technician to rush either? Doubtful.
This is why, if possible, homeowners should try and look ahead and plan for replacement before total failure and plan for a summer installation when turning the heat off is not a concern. Allow the technicians as much time as needed to ensure your installation receives the quality workmanship it deserves.
For any homeowners interested in the expected remaining life expectancy of their current heating system, Family Plumbing and Heating offers full system maintenances and free estimates on replacement systems.
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.
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.
My furnace stopped working, is there anything I can do myself?
I can provide two tips I’d love every homeowner to know.
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.