Your Heater is Haunted!

  • By Tony Diciacce
  • 09 Oct, 2017

It’s the coldest night of the winter. You’re cozy in your warm living room watching “Avengers”. Slowly you begin to notice a temperature drop as your furnace kicks the bucket. You shake your fist at the heavens and curse Murphy’s Law.  Knowing the signs and how to prevent sudden furnace failure will help you avoid such a disaster. 

Signs of an Aging Furnance  

Higher utility bills
 
As furnaces age, they use more energy to provide the same heat. Increased consumption over time is a good indicator that your furnace is reaching its end of life.


Noises  
A furnace on its way out will bang, rattle, squeal and otherwise protest its demise. As soon as you notice it, call a professional.

A cold house
Air blowing through the vents feel cool if the burner or heat exchanger are malfunctioning. If the airflow is warm but too low, the fan is the problem..

Burner flame color
This should be blue in natural gas furnaces. If it’s yellow, that indicates incomplete combustion, which creates more carbon monoxide. Your burner will need to be checked and cleaned or replaced immediately.

Health issues  
If your furnace is producing more carbon monoxide, your family’s health will be worse than usual. Similarly, if there’s an increase in respiratory illnesses, your furnace could be circulating dust, mold and other allergens.

So how do you prevent the breakdown? Regular maintenance is key, especially as winter approaches.

· Check the burner  to make sure the flame is the right color and is burning steadily.

· Check fan operation to ensure the air is being blown and distributed. The fan blades must be cleaned and the motor inspected by a professional.

· Clean or replace the filter . If your filter becomes too caked with dust, there's a domino effect in your furnace as the airflow drops, wreaking havoc with other components.

· Make sure your combustion air intake  is clear. If the furnace does not get enough air, incomplete combustion will take place, creating carbon monoxide.

· Have a professional look at your heat exchanger for cracks that can leak gases like carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and sulpher dioxide into your home.

· Also, have a professional look at the control system to make sure it keeps the furnace running.

Analyze whether to repair or replace  
A typical furnace life cycle is 15-20 years. With proper care, you can prolong its life, but the higher fuel and maintenance could potentially pay for a new furnace.


If you are concerned about your furnace, give us a call today 585-500-HELP and we'll make sure you stay toasty warm for the season.

By Tony Diciacce 05 Dec, 2017

You are shopping for a new home and it can be a very exciting time. You most likely have a punch list of specific needs you have in order to make your choice. You might want more bedrooms, a larger yard, or a remodeled kitchen in your next home. Finding the home that fits your specifics can feel like winning the lottery, but don’t forget to consider some practical factors before making the commitment. Always check and consider the condition of the furnace, air conditioning unit, insulation and the duct work before making that purchase.

You should always have the furnace and air conditioning unit checked by a professional. You will want to consider the age, previous maintenance, and condition of these units to determine when replacement is necessary. If the furnace is 18 years old, the expense of repair can be right around the corner.

It doesn’t require a professional to determine that you have inefficient ductwork.  Look for ductwork in the attic and basement. Perform a visible inspection. If you see many loops and multiple turns, this could mean the design is poor. Gapping and leaky ductwork can increase your utility bills dramatically and make areas of your home uncomfortable.

A poorly insulated home can allow rodents, pollutants, and unwanted noise in. It can also keep areas of your home uncomfortable temperature and increase your utility bills. When checking out a potential new home, be aware of the temperature in each room. Before making a final decision, do a walk through with the cooling and heating system off as well.

Repairing or replacing these items can be costly and should be considered before deciding on your next home. Taylor Heating & Plumbing has been installing, maintaining, and repairing these systems for 70 years, CALL 500-HELP anytime for any of your home efficiency/comfort needs.

By Tony Diciacce 08 Nov, 2017

You are at your dentist for your six month cleaning and the hygienist asked, “How often you floss”? You instantly panic and think in your head, “not nearly as often as I should.” This is the same feeling you get when the HVAC technician asks, “When did you change your furnace filter last.” I want to lie and say a month ago, but he is pulling the filter as he asks. He pulls the filter and it is quite obvious that it was not 30 days ago, so I am glad I didn’t say that.

Changing your filters is a simple, yet effective way to extend the life expectancy of your furnace , prevent costly repairs, and most importantly improve the air quality in your home. Most filters say they are good for 90 days, but in many homes they should be changed more often during our peak usage months.   Most industry experts will advise you to change them every 30 days, but the time really depends on your system and the wear and tear on your filter.

It is time to change your filter if the filter is coated in dust or dirt, any part of it is clogged, or any part of the filter is damaged. This filter does not only keep the air in your home clean, it protects the internal parts of your furnace from dirt and debris. If your filter is exhausted and your blower motor is exposed to these contaminants, you are in for a costly repair or even worse it can be a fire hazard.  

Start checking the filter regularly at 30 days, and determine when replacement is necessary. Most filters are cost effective and this little change can help with indoor allergies, asthma, sinusitis, and other respiratory ailments. In the long run, if you get into the habit of checking and replacing the filter it will save you money and extend the life of your equipment.

My monthly tip for all of you is to put a recurring reminder in your phone to check your filter!  

By Tony Diciacce 06 Nov, 2017
Summer is finally on its way out as autumn is here. Say goodbye to heat, humidity, and high temperatures, and say hello to colorful leaves, chilly nights, and pumpkin spice. Before you begin to indulge in all that fall has to offer, you must ask yourself if your home is ready for the weather ahead. Frozen pipes and clogged drains are two of many issues that come with dropping temperatures and can cause serious damage to your home.

But not all hope is lost; there are numerous measures you can take to make sure your home is ready for the fall.

One of the easiest measures to take in preparation for the fall is to disconnect outside water hoses. By disconnecting your hoses you reduce the risk of water freezing in in them, and potentially freezing the faucet the hose is attached to.

The next step is to check if the faucets are dripping or leaking. If there is either dripping or leaking try turning the handle further in the direction that stops water flow. If the problem persists, call a plumber before freezing temperatures arrive. Remember, even a tiny crack can unleash enough water to cause serious damage or flooding.

For homes that are equipped with interior shut-off valves leading to outside faucets, close them and drain water from outside lines.

Faucets aren’t the only area of concern this upcoming season. Piping is another major area of concern for potential freezing. Many people believe piping in a garage, crawlspace, or under your porch is safe. But the truth is that these pipes are just as vulnerable to freezing as outside pipes!

Make sure to insulate (or at least cover) these exposed pipes in your garage and other unheated areas. Simply covering the pipes can make a big difference because they are no longer directly exposed to freezing temperatures. But for the best coverage, consider getting an insulation kit.

Carefully test the water heater's pressure relief valve (Danger: water is very hot) by lifting up on the lever and letting it snap back. The valve should allow a burst of hot water into the drainpipe. If not, call a professional to have a new valve installed. Caution: if your water heater is more than five years old and the pressure relief valve has never been tested, you can actually cause a leak by testing older valves that have corroded or stuck seals. A plumber should be consulted.

Annual maintenance is important, and can extend the life of your water heater. While most water heaters will last anywhere from eight to 12 years, regular maintenance can increase water efficiency and save you money on your utility bills. Give us a call 500-HELP and let us help you get prepared for fall.
By Tony Diciacce 25 Oct, 2017

You wake up and your home is freezing, you run to your thermostat and it says 52 degrees. You frantically push the up arrow, but the furnace does not come on. You put on a coat and head to the basement to find you just staring at the furnace and thinking what do I even look at? The frustration you are feeling could have been avoided with having your system maintained regularly by a professional. So, now who do you call? There are so many HVAC contractors out there; how do you know who to choose?

A few things to keep in mind when choosing an HVAC contractor:

History: How long has the contractor been in business? This is important because you want to make sure the contractor will stand by any work done at your home. One in five HVAC contractors fails every year. The longer they have been in business the more likely they will be able to stand by workmanship, service warranties, and create a lasting relationship with their customers.

Very Low Prices: You should be leery of very low prices. A contractor that is has much lower prices is most likely cutting corners to reduce costs. When considering safety and how important heat is in our area, you do not want a contractor to reduce costs by not following manufactures specifications. A great way to reduce costs would be to check with your power company for possible rebates or state funded programs.

Reviews: A good way to check if an HVAC contractor is performing well, is to check on-line reviews. While understanding that anyone can put any gripe or complaint on line these days; checking reviews can help you make an educated choice. When researching a company, always note the total number of reviews left before determining the success of that contractor. For instance, I would choose a company with 98 reviews and a 4.5 rating over a company with only 4 reviews and a 4.7 rating.

Size: Always choose a contractor that has several service technicians and 24 hour service, so they can come out immediately if you are having an emergency. If it is cold outside, and you are without heat a service visit should happen that day, not in a few days.

After choosing an HVAC professional, remember that a routinely maintained furnace will perform better, have a longer lifespan, and will help avoid costly repairs down the road.

By Tony Diciacce 16 Oct, 2017
  1. Check your heating system.  Have a professional inspect your burners, filters, fan, fan motor and all electrical components. Hire a specialist to clean your ductwork as well. Clear vents and chimneys to make sure you’re not at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning.
  2. Review all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors While a fire can happen at any time, the risk is greater while running a furnace or boiler. Same for carbon monoxide. Change batteries as needed and replace faulty detectors.
  3. Drain outdoor faucets.  Pipework to outdoor faucets must be clear of water that can freeze. Close the shutoff valve to the faucet and turn on the tap to drain the piping.
  4. Go shopping early for the kids.  Children grow like weeds,which means almost a complete wardrobe change annually. Make sure they have warm clothing before they need it.
  5. Complete all renovations that involve your home exterior.  Prioritize sealing windows and doors with caulking and weather stripping. Upgrade attic insulation and any other insulation necessary to keep the heating bills down.
  6. If you have a wood burning stove or fireplace, stock up on wood chips or logs. Fill oil tanks for oil burning heating appliances. Do the same for diesel if you have an emergency generator.
  7. Bring out the snow blower  and make sure it's ready to go.
  8. Stock up on emergency supplies  like canned goods (with a can opener!) and keep enough water to last a week (1 gallon per person per day). Avoid a scramble to the supermarket just before a winter storm hits and knocks out power.
  9. Get your flu shot . It’s no guarantee, but you’ll reduce the chances of spending time in bed and possibly the hospital.
  10. Change over summer tires to winter tires.  To reduce stopping distance and lower risk of skidding on ice (and to save gas), switch tires once the temperature drops below 7°C (45°F)
  11. Put a winter emergency kit into your car.  Include: thermal blankets, tire chains, a shovel, first aid kit, sand, booster cable, batteries, a torch light, canned food, a can opener, water, important medication and a battery operated radio.
  12. Top up all fluids in your car:  fuel, windshield washer fluid, brake fluid, etc. Take care of critical repairs to keep you safe on winter roads.


If you need help with any of these items, give us a call today 585-500- HELP so you’ll be ready for whatever Jack Frost and his buddies have in store!

By Tony Diciacce 16 Oct, 2017

Three reasons to go tankless

  • Tanked heaters use energy to maintain water storage temperature, even when not in use. This is essentially wasted heat. Having a tankless heater when your use is intermittent will save you energy, lowering your bills.

 

  • In order to decrease the amount of energy used and increase efficiency, new tanks require more insulation, making them bigger. With a tankless system, you get that space back.

 

  • If you’ve ever been the last person to take a shower, you know the frustration of having the water get colder as you use the last trickle of hot water. Depending on the size and type of tanked heater, it could take an hour or more to get the water hot enough for your bath. Tankless systems don’t have this problem. Water is heated as it flows through it so there’s no waiting.

Sizing your tankless heater
The benefits of a tankless water heater evaporate quickly if it's sized incorrectly. Tankless heaters are sized according to maximum flow rates and temperature rise.

To get flow rate, add the flows of fixtures likely to run at the same time. Showers flow at approximately 3 gallons per minute (gpm), faucets at 1-2 gpm, washing machines at 2-3 gpm, dishwashers at 1-2 gpm. Check manufacturer information for accurate values.

The temperature rise is the difference between the temperature of incoming water and the desired hot water supply temperature. For safety, the supply temperature should not exceed 120oF (49oC) at the fixtures. The incoming water can be as low as 40oF (4oC). In that case, the heater would have to increase the temperature by 80oF (45°C).

Service requirements for installation
Since tankless heaters are instantaneous and must provide heat in a short timeframe, they require larger electrical or gas services than tanked heaters, which heat the water more slowly.

If you’re replacing an electrical tanked water heater with a tankless device, you would need to upgrade the electrical service to the heater and possibly to your house. Replacing a gas-fired tank heater with tankless may require a gas supply upgrade as well as changes to the venting system.

For both gas and electric, the water pipe measurements are the same since they are both sized to provide hot water to the same home’s fixture.
Even with its numerous advantages, making the decision to install a tankless heater requires thought and professional analysis.

Call us today 585-500-HELP to talk about your options for a tankless heater in your home.

By Tony Diciacce 09 Oct, 2017

Signs of an Aging Furnance  

Higher utility bills
 
As furnaces age, they use more energy to provide the same heat. Increased consumption over time is a good indicator that your furnace is reaching its end of life.


Noises  
A furnace on its way out will bang, rattle, squeal and otherwise protest its demise. As soon as you notice it, call a professional.

A cold house
Air blowing through the vents feel cool if the burner or heat exchanger are malfunctioning. If the airflow is warm but too low, the fan is the problem..

Burner flame color
This should be blue in natural gas furnaces. If it’s yellow, that indicates incomplete combustion, which creates more carbon monoxide. Your burner will need to be checked and cleaned or replaced immediately.

Health issues  
If your furnace is producing more carbon monoxide, your family’s health will be worse than usual. Similarly, if there’s an increase in respiratory illnesses, your furnace could be circulating dust, mold and other allergens.

So how do you prevent the breakdown? Regular maintenance is key, especially as winter approaches.

· Check the burner  to make sure the flame is the right color and is burning steadily.

· Check fan operation to ensure the air is being blown and distributed. The fan blades must be cleaned and the motor inspected by a professional.

· Clean or replace the filter . If your filter becomes too caked with dust, there's a domino effect in your furnace as the airflow drops, wreaking havoc with other components.

· Make sure your combustion air intake  is clear. If the furnace does not get enough air, incomplete combustion will take place, creating carbon monoxide.

· Have a professional look at your heat exchanger for cracks that can leak gases like carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and sulpher dioxide into your home.

· Also, have a professional look at the control system to make sure it keeps the furnace running.

Analyze whether to repair or replace  
A typical furnace life cycle is 15-20 years. With proper care, you can prolong its life, but the higher fuel and maintenance could potentially pay for a new furnace.


If you are concerned about your furnace, give us a call today 585-500-HELP and we'll make sure you stay toasty warm for the season.

By Tony Diciacce 04 Oct, 2017

Check it out  
Is it organic waste or a foreign object like a toy? Determining which one is causing the problem will determine the method for clearing it. Sometimes it’s hard to tell so you have to assess it based on how the toilet fills up. Is it filling and draining slowly? Or is it not going anywhere after leaving it for several minutes? The former is likely organic and the latter might be a solid object blocking the flow.

Use a plunger Plungers work by creating suction and pushing forces in the water that’s in the bowl and drain. These forces are usually enough to loosen and push down large pieces of organic waste that are meant to go into the sewage system. Keep in mind that foreign objects may be loosened and pushed down but that could create another blockage downstream.

Use a plumbing snake or auger  
Plumbing snakes or augers are long snake-like devices, which are flexible enough to fit into the toilet drain. They can either push the object further along, or twist into the object for you to pull it out. There are multiple types of drain snakes so if you decide to purchase one, make sure you learn the correct way to use it.

Use drain cleaner
These cleaners work by breaking down any solid organic waste that might be causing the blockage. Pour it into the toilet and wait the recommended time by the manufacturer (usually overnight). This works for organic waste only, not foreign objects.

Avoid harsh chemicals if possible  
Keep it in mind as a last resort, but only if you are able to use it with proper ventilation and you determine there are no children or pets at risk of exposure. Limit your own exposure and follow the instructions for use closely. There are multiple types of drain cleaner chemicals so pick one specifically designed for clearing toilets.

If all else fails or if it keeps happening, give us a call 585-500-Help and we’ll clear your toilet as well as any other sections of your sanitary system that’s causing you drainage problems.

By Tony Diciacce 29 Sep, 2017
Do a regular visual inspection of your home's plumbing. .
This might seem obvious but in the chaos of everyday life, it’s easy to push it down the priorities list. Run water in each sink to see how quickly it drains and if there are any changes. Pay attention to the length of time you can run a hot shower before the water gets too cold. Look in the cabinets under sinks for evidence of leakage

Keep Drains Clear with regular drain cleanout sessions. .
Use natural methods like pouring boiling water down the drain to avoid having to resort to harsh, toxic chemicals that can erode metal pipes over time. Do this when flow is smooth to attack any small deposits before they build up

Use a drain cleaner as soon as flow begins to slow to reduce the number of sessinos you need.

Repair faucet leaks as soon as they start or even before.
Sometimes you can tell a faucet is starting to give trouble if you have to squeeze tighter or fiddle with it to shut off the water completely. Don’t wait until you have a continuous drip to repair.

Replace cartridges, washers, or gaskets depending on the source of the leak or the type of faucet.

Ensure you never put the wrong things down the drain.
Fat solidifies when it cools so avoid anything containing grease. Use strainers to catch hair in the bathroom or food in the kitchen sink. Discard and clear the strainer often to keep it clear and to prevent anything from slipping past.

Carry out water heater maintenance.
Drain your heater’s tank to stir up and clear sediment that reduces tank efficiency and shortens equipment life expectancy. How often you do this depends on water conditions. Start every other month and if water runs clear immediately, stretch out frequency until you notice debris every time you drain the tank.

If you live in an area with hard water, consider installing a water softener.
“Hard water” contains minerals that destroy your plumbing system over time by depositing sediments throughout piping, fittings, fixtures and equipment like your water heater. Most municipalities publish information on the water hardness. Consult a contractor to confirm the benefits of water softening for your home.

Call a professional
If things have gone too far and you need a professional touch, give us a call 585-500-HELP and we’ll help you keep your home’s plumbing in working order.
By Tony Diciacce 27 Sep, 2017

Why does your air system need a filter?  
The filter protects the furnace itself. Dust from your home gets drawn into the unit through the return ductwork. Without a filter, this dust would build up on the fan, heat exchanger and coil, reducing efficiency and eventually causing failure.

An overview of residential HVAC filters  
Residential filters are either flat (made from fiberglass) or pleated (made from various materials). Filter efficiency is indicated by its Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV). The larger the MERV, the more particles it can capture.

More efficient filters have larger pressure drops as the air flows through. This makes the fan work harder, lowering system efficiency. You need to balance your furnace fan capabilities and energy use with the level of protection you want from your filter.

There are many levels of residential filters - from the most basic with a MERV 4 to HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Arrestance) filters capable of capturing microscopic particles. For typical households, MERV 8 gives the right balance between efficiency and air cleanliness. If a family member has respiratory problems, you may have to go to a higher MERV value for your furnace.

Reasons to keep it clean  
Better airflow: Dirty filters prevent the air from flowing through them. This reduces the amount of heating and cooling your furnace can do. One major issue is that you can freeze your evaporator coil if the airflow across it is too low, eventually causing your AC unit to fail.

Efficiency: Because your fan has to work harder to pull the air through a dirty coil, the system efficiency drops off as the unit consumes more electricity. A clean filter that allows airflow will keep your consumption down.

Cleaner air overall: If the filter is choked up with dust and the air isn’t flowing freely, dust can settle in other parts of your ductwork and your home, providing breeding grounds for mold, dust mites, bacteria and allergens.

How to do it  
Most furnace filters are disposable. The replacement frequency depends on multiple factors. Smokers, pet owners and people with allergies will need to replace it more often. The thickness and type also have an impact. Thicker filters need to be replaced more often, and fiberglass filters must be changed sooner than pleated filters.

If you’re concerned about the state of your filter, give us a call 585-500-HELP and we’ll make sure you (and your furnace) breathe easier.

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