Furnaces and Air Conditioning - Indoor Air Quality - Thermostats
Plumbing Fixtures - Drains - Hot Water Heaters - Pipes and Sewers - Disposals
Where to Install Thermostats
Your thermostat should be located away from the room's cooling or heating vents or device, yet exposed to general airflow from the room(s) to be regulated. An open hallway may be most appropriate for a single zone system, where living rooms and bedrooms are operated as a single zone. If the hallway may be closed by doors from the regulated spaces then these should be left open when the system is in use. If the thermostat is too close to the source controlled, then the system will tend to "short cycle", and numerous starts and stops can be annoying and in some cases shorten equipment life. A multiple zoned system can save considerable energy by regulating individual spaces, allowing unused rooms to vary in temperature by turning off the heating and cooling.
Indoor Air Quality
Ventilate basements or run dehumidifiers to dry the air, walls and furnishings. Don’t hang wet clothes in your closets. Keep your showers and tubs clean of soap-scum so that they dry quicker. Air-out your bathroom cabinets and kitchen sink cabinet often. Make sure that vents (with a ventilating fan) are installed in your kitchen and baths. These rooms can produce a lot of moisture.
When to Replace Filters
Start by checking the system’s filters at least once a month. Hold the used filter up to the light and compare it to a clean "spare." When light is obscured by captured dust and dirt particles, the old filter should be changed. Keep a record for one year and then replace the filter on that basis. At a minimum, it is always a good idea to change filters at the start of the heating and cooling seasons and then in between according to your need. Also, it is a good idea to have your heating and air system checked at the beginning of heating and cooling season to insure proper operation.
Prevent Black Mold
We recommend installing an ultraviolet germicidal light as part of your existing heating system to kill and control the live mold spores. Used in combination with a highly effective filter, you can remove as much as 97% of all particulates and mold spores. This is a "whole house" air purification system installed inside the ductwork of your home's heating system...the "lungs" of your home.
As you consider what's right for your situation, it's important to remember that some people are more sensitive to black mold than others. If you or anyone in your family suffers from allergies, respiratory disease or any type of immune suppressing disease, you are at greater risk.
Furnaces and Air Conditioners
Replacing Furnace or Air Conditioner
Although your present furnace or air conditioner may be working, if it is more than 12 years old you should consider replacing it with a new high efficiency system. A new heating and air conditioning system could save up to 50 percent on energy costs, and save you money in the long run on heating repairs. While these products save you money on your utility bills, they also offer a better degree of comfort within your home.
Significantly Cut Heating Costs
If your furnace is over 15-20 years old, a new, high-efficiency furnace can dramatically reduce the cost of heating your home by 20% - 40%.
If your family can't agree on a comfortable temperature, or if you'd just as soon close off rooms you're not using to save on heating, a zoned system can help you save both energy and money.
You can extract heat from chilly outside air to heat your house with the power of a heat pump that uses refrigeration technology rather than fuel combustion. Some homeowners have lowered their heating and cooling costs by as much as 50% by installing a heat pump.
Your furnace is a perfect environment for the growth and broadcast of mold. As the collection point for re-circulating air in your home, it's also the ideal place to install an indoor air purification system to control harmful levels of indoor air pollutants including mold, bacteria and viruses.
Rumbling Sounds From the Water Heater
Rumbling sounds can be an indication that sediment has built up on the bottom of the water heater. Water can become trapped in this sediment and begin to boil. This means the water heater is not operating efficiently and the sediment isn’t allowing the heat to transfer to the water in the tank.
You may try draining a few gallons of water off the bottom of the water heater tank. This is done by attaching a drain hose to the valve at the bottom of the tank. Allow it to drain for about five minutes. Many newer models of water heaters have a new feature that prohibits the buildup of sediment in the tank. If your heater is an older model, it may be cost effective to replace the water heater if the buildup is severe. Contact Hudson Mechanical for year-round maintenance of your water heater.
WARNING: Hot water is dangerous. Discharge the water into a floor drain, laundry tub or bathtub. Hot water will kill your grass if allowed to run on your lawn and will also crack a toilet bowl if discharged into the toilet. Turn off power to water heater prior to draining.
Maintenance on Hot Water Heaters
Test the pressure relief valve on your water heater regularly and replace it if it fails to operate. At least once a year you should flush out the sediments. As long as a tank has a functioning anode, it should not rust. you should have the anode checked by Hudson Mechanical about once every two years.
Lower Hot Water Bills
Installing aerators in faucets and low-flow shower heads that may reduce your hot water consumption by half. Repair leaky faucets and shower heads. A leak of one drip per second can cost $1 per month. Insulate your hot water storage tank and pipes, but be careful not to cover the tank thermostat(s).
- Lower the thermostat(s) on your water heater to 120°F. Electric water heaters often have two thermostats- one each for the upper and lower heating elements. These should be adjusted to the same level to prevent one element from doing all the work and wearing out prematurely.
- For electric water heaters, install a timer that can automatically turn the hot water off at night and on in the morning. A simple timer can pay for itself in less than a year. Install a heat trap above the water heater. A heat trap is a simple check valve or piping arrangement that prevents "thermosyphoning"- the tendency of hot water to rise up from the tank into the pipes thereby lowering standby losses.
- Drain a quart of water from your hot water tank every 3 months to remove sediment that prevents heat transfer and lowers the unit's efficiency.
- Take more showers than baths. Baths use the most hot water in an average household. You use 15 to 25 gallons of hot water for a bath and less than 10 gallons for a 5-minute shower.
Buying a New Water Heater
Choose a water heater with an appropriate first-hour rating (FHR) by estimating your family's peak-hour demand for hot water. Determine the appropriate fuel type for your water heater. If you are considering electricity, check with your local utility company for off-peak electricity rates for water heating. If available, this may be an attractive option to choose electric water heaters. Natural gas, oil and propane water heaters are less expensive to operate than electric models.
If you are in a moderate climate (i.e., with relatively low heating loads), consider a Heat Pump Water Heater (HPWH), which is more efficient than a conventional electric water heater. Though a HPWH may have a high initial cost, it can save up to 50% of your water heating bill.
For safety as well as energy-efficiency reasons, when buying gas- and oil-fired water heaters, look for units with sealed combustion or power venting to avoid back-drafting of combustion gases into the home.
Everything else being equal, select a water heater with the highest energy factor (EF). However, you should note that the EF of one type of heater is not comparable to another type. For example, an electric water heater with an EF of 0.9 may cost more to operate than a gas water heater with an EF of 0.7.
Whenever possible, do not install the water heater in an unheated basement. Also try to minimize the length of piping runs to your bathroom and kitchen.
Prevent Clogged Drains
- Don't pour grease down the kitchen sink.
- Don't wash coffee grounds down the sink.
- Use chemical cleaners only when necessary. Some chemicals can corrode metal pipes.
- Clean tub and shower drain strainers that are removable.
- Clean pop-up stoppers in the bathroom sink and the tub regularly. Lift out sink pop-ups once a week and rinse them off.
- Every few months, remove the overflow plate on a tub and pull up the pop-up assembly to reach the spring or rocker arm. Remove accumulated hair and rinse thoroughly.
- Keep sewer pipes from the house free of tree roots.
- Flush the drain-waste and vent systems when you’re on the roof cleaning out your gutters. Use your hose to run water into all of the vents.
Cleaning Clogged Kitchen Drains
First, try using a plunger. Second, try using a liquid drain opener, but use caution and read the directions. Third, you can remove the trap and remove any debris. Be careful if you have used a liquid drain opener, because there may be some in the trap. Fourth, if the clog is beyond the trap, there are drain augers that extend from about 15 feet to about 50 feet. There are also special enzyme-based drain openers that will help dissolve buildup in pipes in older homes.
Leaky Appliances Make High Water Bills
Check the water level in the tank to see if water is overflowing into the overflow pipe. This is the pipe in the middle of the tank which has a small tube connected to it. In the event water is running into the overflow pipe, adjust the fill valve to stop the flow approximately one inch below the top of the overflow tube or to the water level mark stamped on the side of the tank. Periodic maintenance by a plumbing professional will ensure proper operation.
Periodically check under the sink to see if the hose connection to the water supply line is secure and is not leaking. Check around the base of the dishwasher for evidence of leaks. Look for discolored, warped or soft flooring materials or water damage to nearby cabinets.
If your refrigerator has an icemaker, check the hose connection to make sure it is securely attached to the water supply line. The wet spot you see on the floor near the refrigerator may be melted ice cubes or it may be a crimped icemaker line about to burst.
Recaulk around sinks and pay attention to slow-draining pipes. This may indicate a partially blocked drain. Check the pipes under the sink for signs of water leaks.
- Showers, Tubs and Toilets
Discoloration or soft areas around floors and walls nearby may be your first indication there is a leak somewhere. Check caulking around the sink, shower, and tub for additional softening.
Cleaning Showerheads and Faucets
To remove the white mineral deposits from your showerhead, take a plastic bag and pour a cup of vinegar in it. Place the bag over the showerhead and use a twist tie to hold it in place overnight. In the morning, remove the bag and use an old toothbrush to gently scrub off the deposits. You might be able to remove the aerators from the faucets and allow them to soak in the vinegar overnight.
Cleaning Your Garbage Disposer
Foul odors can occur from a buildup of food debris within the disposal. Try these steps to eliminate the odors:
- Grind ice cubes and orange or lemon rinds in the disposer for about 30 seconds
- While the disposer is still running, pour a small amount of liquid dish detergent into it
- Rinse any remaining debris away by running cold water for about 30 seconds
Garbage Disposer Stops Working
In the event your disposer ceases to work, you can check the reset button. The garbage disposal has an overload protector that senses if the motor is overheating and shuts it off. If your disposer cuts off during operation, it may be this broken electrical connection. The best thing to do is:
- Turn the disposer switch off.
- Do not put hands or objects down drain.
- Make sure the appliance is plugged in securely at the outlet.
- With power switch turned off, press reset switch on front or bottom of the garbage disposer.
- Restart disposer by turning on power switch.
Pipes and Sewers
Avoid Freezing Pipes
Insulate those pipes before it gets cold! When temperatures are at or below freezing, running a steady drop of hot and cold water from your faucets may keep your pipes from freezing. If your pipes are not insulated, they can freeze even with a small flow of water. So, insulate those pipes! But beware; insulated pipes can freeze when there is no water movement to keep the pipes warm.
Roots in the Plumbing
Roots can be a big problem. They can grow into the joints of the pipes. A little "root-x" flushed down the toilet can reduce the growth of roots in your pipes. It needs to sit in the pipes overnight, so do it before bed.
Groaning and Honking Noises from the Plumbing
It could be that you have lost your “air cushion.” To get it back, turn the water supply off at the main valve. Turn on all the faucets around your home. Then turn on the main valve again and shut off each faucet. This should take care of the problem.