Category: Maintenance

How To Get The Most Out of Your HVAC System

A good HVAC system is very important when it comes to maintaining a comfortable, healthy interior environment. Throughout the years many property owners inquire about a technique to cut down on the cost of energy and HVAC. They don’t want to sacrifice the comfort of their working environment, but they do want a-point-by-point plan to follow. The interesting thing that often happens is that energy bills are reduced substantially and of course the HVAC capabilities is enhanced. This is a standard function of any specialist devoted to energy and HVAC.

Energy Optimization

Step one to achieve system optimization is to reduce the load. This step usually involves a long range plan which itemizes the actions to be taken based on best return on investment. Reducing the system load will allow it to function properly. If a new system or systems are now being considered, it is going to be more cost effective to design for a load reduction versus the existing load. A few common load reduction strategies include:

1. Tighten the building shell and add additional insulation. Adding insulation in existing buildings is probably not achievable for some, so more deliberation should be aimed at the outside shell, especially doors and windows.

2. Installing energy-efficient windows. This is a very expensive for some structures that still have single pane windows. The installation of double pane windows with a thermal break is a wonderful bang for your buck. Make sure they are ENERGY STAR qualified windows. Tinting or Low-E coatings will even be better.

3. Upgrading the lighting system. The typical industrial building has a lighting density of 2-3 watts per sq. ft. to maintain a comfortable lighting level. This is a big part of an HVAC system load and almost any efforts in this direction will lower the cooling requirement for the building. Vanity lights (sometimes called architectural lighting) are not always power efficient and should not be looked at if you want to reduce energy and HVAC expenditures. Energy-efficient lighting systems release less heat into a cooled evironment than older incandescent technology. When you have a return air plenum instead of return air ductwork, consider light troffers so that some of the heat from the bulbs is sent back to the HVAC system instead of going into the occupied area.

4. Choosing efficient equipment and electronic devices that have the power saver choice will decrease the heat gain in the space. Items to consider include copy machines, kitchen equipment, computers and fridges.

5. Control ventilation by having your outside air balanced. Many building owners have drawings of the system installation. Have those drawings analyzed by using an outside professional to confirm your air-flow rates conform to the most recent code requirements. If no drawings can be found, your contractor be capable of suggesting tips for improvement.

Addressing these things is your first step to decreasing energy and HVAC overheads.

Heating and Air Conditioning Systems

The second step to achieve energy and HVAC system optimization is knowing it. Your HVAC system is crucial for a comfortable setting, but it also represents a big component of your utility expenses. Even though it is beyond the information in this article to debate every system, a couple of recommendations can be covered. Every system component has increased in efficiency over the years. If your system is older than 13 years old, it is time to begin thinking of replacing the system. Regularly service residential HVAC systems have a life span of about fifteen years or so, but appear to shut down at the worse times. Have a replacement plan ready for the day your equipment fails.

Industrial systems vary, but when your building is using packaged equipment or split systems, equivalent lifetime should be expected. For larger commercial systems and industrial applications, the HVAC system may be more complex and require an individual analysis using a mechanical engineer. As I stated earlier, HVAC systems will vary and no one-size-fits-all analysis works for a custom system. What almost all these systems have in common is they are normally driven by electrical energy. Electricity costs money, so any effort in the direction of enhanced efficiency is a plus.

HVAC System Ideas:

Find a qualified contractor you trust. Assuming you are a property owner, find a good HVAC business or technician to evaluate and work on the system. Assuming you are a large commercial building owner, find a commercial HVAC company for regular upkeep and a trusted contractor for unbiased suggestions. We do advise against using a mechanical engineer employed by the HVAC Company; find a third party service for unbiased information.

Verify your HVAC system load. Industrial properties have more complex settings regarding conformint to code requirements, minimum ventilation rates, etc and are different to every place.

Select equipment sized for the load. DO NOT OVERSIZE! Going overboard does not work for HVAC systems. It will cost more to buy the apparatus as well as operate it. Consult with your contractor to figure out the proper capacity

Purchase top efficient or Energy Star equipment. Many of the new systems include variable speed drives for fans and compressors. Through your years of ownership this is repaid repeatedly. Contrast standard efficiency equipment to high efficiency equipment in terms of the installation cost and running costs. Any good HVAC company or mechanical engineer will know this.

Think about some kind of energy recovery for air exhausted from the place and re-use it somehow to enhance the inbound fresh air. This is the air you have paid to condition, so extracting a portion of the energy before exhausting it should be top priority.

For large commercial complexes, consider conditioning the outside air with a dedicated outside air unit. This can solve difficulties regarding humidity control in most cases. It may also increase comfort and allow for further equipment optimization.

Commercial complexes might want to think about economizers on their equipment. Many current codes want economizers on equipment in excess of 15 tons in size. Often available at a low incremental cost, these units use fresh air from outside when the temperatures (or humidity) outside is less than the inside temperature.

Both home owners and small commercial building owners should think about installing programmable thermostats. Large buildings should install a Direct Digital Control (DDC) system. This type of investment will pay back more than the price right away.

Different Types o Control Systems

The third step to achieve energy and HVAC system optimization is to control the system.

The Digital Thermostat: One of the best investments for the homeowner is a programmable thermostat. These are simple to use and incorporate strategies based upon a schedule. Most manufacturers provide seven day programs which will control the HVAC system timing and or climate settings. This is a wonderful way to make certain the system is used only when required.

DDC Systems: For the large commercial building, I think about this as an essential system. Installation costs are lower now and performance reliability has steadily increased. They are often integrated into any system and expanded as needed. A few of the more popular elements of these systems are enhanced start/stop, a variety of zone controls, temperature sensor and ventilation control. The best part of these solutions is their ability to be scaled up to the largest of commercial applications. This implies you can setup a somethng simple at first then add more controls later to include everything. Again, the payback is quick and well worth the outlay.

Coil Cleaning: This is usually a big item missed by almost everyone. Condenser coils tend to collect dust and debris because they’re outside. Diry coils make the compressor work overtime and leads to a higher refrigerant temperature in your refrigeration system. Dirty evaporation and heat coils circulate the dust and fibers inside the building. They must be cleaned at least once a year

Operation and General Maintenance

The fourth and last step to realize energy and HVAC system optimization is regular up keep. The most efficient systems are well maintained. You can ensure consistency, efficacy as well as long life for the HVAC system by following these ideas.

Find a professional consultant you trust. Find a good company or technician to analyze and maintain your system. Assuming you are a large building owner, find a commercial|an industrial} HVAC contractor for normal up-keep. Make sure you record and document servicing with when they vist and what they did each time.

Home owners should always get a regular tune up. The way your system works will vary depending on the time of year.

Change air filters on a schedule. Don’t use anything less than a MERV 5 filter to assure most of the dust is captured. Dirty filters negate your savings and allow dust to pass through.

Summary

Optimizing your HVAC system will help to lower energy costs. A little time finding out about your system and familiarizing yourself with improvement methods will save on energy costs and increase the life span of your equipment.

A Few Smart Tips To Help Avoid Water Damage

Don’t you just hate when you go outside and walk around your front steps and see cracks in the concrete and stone? One of the biggest problems is where the hand rail is mounted into the steps. This is the biggest culprit because most of the time the concrete is not filled to the top where the hand rail and steps meet.

Easy Fix

What happens is that water gets into the holes and when it gets cold it freezes. When water freezes it expands and cracks the steps. There is a real easy way to fix this problem even if part of the step has broken off. Go to your local hardware store and pick up Vinyl Concrete Patch. This product is very easy to use. It is a matter of adding water, mixing, and applying with a small putty knife.

If there are other cracks or holes, you can also use this product to fix them so no further damage will occur. By doing this yourself you will save yourself some money. If you are still not sure how it works, then when you go to the hardware store just ask someone in the store and they will be glad help you.

Old Hot Water Heater

Another problem in the house is a hot water heater that is getting close to being 10 to 12 years old. For most hot water heaters 10 to 12 years is all they last. If you start seeing water on the floor this may be an indication that there is a problem coming your way. It may be as simple as a rusted tank. This is very common for a hot water heater. There are other signs of aging. If you start smelling rotten eggs or when the hot water heater is creating hot water you may hear something that sounds like it is rolling around inside the tank. Both of these are signs of a hot water heater nearing the end of its useful life.

If you spot any signs of problems, you should immediately look at the hot water tank replacement to avoid any water damage.

I do have a couple other suggestions for you about your hot water tanks. For less than $15 you can buy what is called a watchdog water alarm. What this does is it sits at the base of your heater and warns you if a leak develops. I would only suggest using this if you do not have the funds to buy a new hot water heater. If the alarm does go off hopefully you can turn the water off before any major water damage occurs.

The second thing I suggest if you are installing a new hot water heater is to see if you can put a catch pan under the heater with a drain line that can go to the exterior of the house or to a sump pump. This way if your heater does leak, the pan will catch it and drain the water out. You can buy drain pans that cost under $10 at your local hardware store.

One more thing I’d like to suggest is that you call a local plumber to look things over and even do the hot water tank repair Vancouver to help extend the life of the unit.

These tips that I have given you will help you and save you money. And saving money is what it is all about nowadays. There are a lot of things you can do yourself instead of calling a professional to come to your house and fix it for you which is costly. If you tackle a problem when you see it you would be surprised how easy it may be to fix it yourself.

Your house is a valuable investment that you have made so keep an eye out on those little things that need to be fixed and fix them as soon as possible. I hope these tips have helped you and keep an eye out because there are more on the way.

If you are investing in buying a residential property, a professional home inspection can help you to avoid costly repairs. During their examination they can spot problems and potential problems that may cost you a lot of money. Minor repairs are one thing but buying a house full of problems without knowing it can be devastating to the financial security and health of your family.

Five Ways to Figure Out If You Need A Plumbing Snake

Taking care of the plumbing in your home is a major part of homeownership, which means you’ll be dedicating time to it over the years. As part of this dedicated task, it will be important to be sure you have the right tools for the job, and one of these tools is the plumbing snake. As the name would entail, this particular piece of plumbing gear is a flexible, serpentine line that extends through a drain or a toilet in order to not only cause a clog to be dislodged with its movement in circles, but its ridges is also able to tear away at the problem area.

They are great tools for the plumbing profession and even those in the amateur ranks, but the problem arises when you have to be able figure out when to use it.

That said, here are five ways to help figure out whether you need a plumbing snake or not:

1. The Issue is Deeper – Once you’ve determined that the clog is somewhere beyond the immediate area of what’s in front of you, the flexible length & movement of a plumbing snake is the ideal tool.

2. Check for Water Movement – If you have a problem drain, you want to address the issue quickly, but take a moment to see if the bit of standing or slow-moving water is actually moving. This may mean that whatever is causing the issue is small. If there is no movement at all & minutes later there is little change, it may be time for the snake.

3. The Right Material – Plumbing snakes are made of metal, and that’s important to keep in mind because if you’re dealing with pipes or fixtures that are somewhat fragile, you run a risk of causing damage. However, you can address the issue away from the problem area at a different point in the plumbing that is easier to work with & less fragile.

4. You’ve Done the Easy Stuff First – ‘Easy’ is a relative term when it comes to plumbing, but when you encounter a clog of some kind, you need to be sure you approach it with an order instead of panic (emergencies excluded). Did you shut the water off? Also, you’ve tried using a less caustic/DIY clog cleaning solution but still no luck. Finally, you’ve tried using a plunger to no avail. The snake becomes the tool to go to after all of this.

5. Calling the Pros – Even though a trip to the hardware store will show a number of snakes available to the public for home use, you may still not be sure what to do regardless of the tips you get from your local hardware guy or online tutorials. This is the perfect reason to call a professional who knows how to use the right tools. Moreover, they have more heavy-duty variations of the plumbing snake that can really get the job done.

A plumbing snake, or any other maintenance tool, is only as good as the operator. Be a responsible homeowner & become comfortable with these tools, but always contact a professional plumbing company when in doubt.

Suggestions To Fix A Clogged Shower Drain or a Toilet

One of the worst problems that people will ever run into when they own a home, business, or at the house of a friend or family member is dealing with a clogged shower head or toilet. Not only is this embarrassing, it can also be quite expensive to fix if the person in question does not have the expertise to deal with the issue at hand. If the problem is large enough that it might cause a risk to the plumbing system or home, it should not be dealt with except by a trained professional. However, there are some small things that you can do to fix a clog without needing professional help.

Clogged Shower Heads

A clogged shower can be one of two things. You can be experiencing a problem with the shower drain, or perhaps the shower head is not working correctly. While the drain part might not be as hard to deal with using common knowledge, the shower head is definitely the more difficult part.

Unless you have a special water filter, you will probably know that there are minerals, calcium and other deposits that come naturally in water. The problem here is that these items eventually build up over time and clog the shower head.

You can spend a ton of money on expensive items at a store to fix this, but these items might actually prove to be caustic to the shower head itself. These chemicals can eventually corrode the metal and result in needing a new shower head. Instead, using a common household item like vinegar can save the day.

Clogged Shower Drain Tip

This vinegar fix is simple to do. All you need is a plastic baggie, an elastic band or string, and regular white vinegar. You simply fill the plastic bag with vinegar and tie it around the shower head with the elastic string or rope. The shower head must be completely immersed in the vinegar. Leave this for at least 24 hours for best results. This simple fix enables the vinegar to eat away at anything that is not actual metal, thus cleaning the shower head. All that you need to do afterwards is clean the vinegar out of the shower and tub. If this does not work and you are still experiencing problems, you might need to replace the shower head anyway.

Fixing A Plugged Toilet

This is by far one of the most common problems people face. The first thing that you need to do is flush the toilet if you have not already done so. This shows it is indeed clogged, but never continue flushing it afterward. Before trying to clean a clogged toilet always be sure to wear protective gloves and/or goggles, and try to ensure that the floor is protected from anything that might come out of the toilet, as it may be messy. The next step is to turn all water that is supplied to the toilet off. This ensures that the toilet will not continue to flood while you work.

Another important thing to do is to be sure that the bathroom is well ventilated so that any chemicals or materials in the toilet do not cause you dizziness. Two ways to fix a clog in the simplest manner are as follows.

You will usually have either a plunger or coat hanger handy. These two items are a boon when fixing a clogged toilet. Ensure that you do not get toilet splash back when using a plunger by using slow and firm movements to push the water and anything inside of the clogged drain down. This helps to ensure pressure can build up to clear the drain.

You can also use a coat hanger that is straightened out to remove whatever happens to be plugging the toilet. Using the end of the hanger in the toilet, you will want to move it in slow circles, usually with cloth on the end to avoid scratching the porcelain. Do this and push the hanger in and out, as well as in circular motions, to either break up or unclog the toilet. If the clog persists it is possible that there is something deeper in the drains backing everything up. If the sewer line blocked with roots or worse, have broken down then you need to call one of the plumbers in your town.

You will know you are successful in these activities when the toilet flushes itself. Never pour any drain cleaners or caustic liquids into a toilet bowl if it is not draining. The only thing this accomplishes and filling the toilet bowl more as the water within will dilute the chemicals you put in.

If you try these suggestions and are still not able to fix the problem, or feel you are not up to doing any other techniques, you should try to call one of your local Kelowna plumbers. Always remember that it is better to spend a bit of money to fix a problem as opposed to destroying the plumbing in your bathroom by damaging something. A professional plumber will be able to fix the problem you are having and show you the proper way to remedy it should it happen again.

Masonry Repair and Maintenance

The Beauty of Brick       6848742821_c593d3bed3_z

Stone and brickwork on a heritage home are a couple of the things we find truly attractive about heritage houses; however, if that masonry is broken or strained, it may not be the type of statement you want to display. One of the best things about brick and stonework is that it takes a long time and a lot of duress to damage it beyond repair. More than likely, if your masonry is in bad condition there is a method to fix it

Replacing Individual Bricks and Stones

When it pertains to bricks, whether you can do this yourself depends on where the harmed piece is and the experience you have working with mortar. If there is simply one offending brick and it is not in a load bearing wall, you can take that brick out piece by piece as long as you do not damage any of the surrounding bricks or the mortar that holds them in location. If there are more than 2 or 3 bricks in the very same area that require  replacement, or you are unsure if the wall is a load bearing one, it is vital that you employ a masonry expert.

Stones are more difficult to replace, especially if they are not completed (evenly cut). They are bigger and heavier than bricks and pose a greater risk of injury. It can also be quite difficult to find a replacement stone that will fit effectively without being cut (which a lot of us do not have the skills and tools to do).

Brick Repair Tips

Mastering Masonry

Masonry is hard. While the concepts of how it is worked may not be that challenging to grasp, to end up being proficient at it takes a great deal of training, practice and a lot of time. The people that construct and recover brick and stonework do so with a great deal of training; their understanding and experience are crucial to their work and can’t be replicated by a casual DIY.

Brickwork and stonework are pricey to build and to fix, also. When dealing with harmed masonry, the typical person commonly discovers the repair work to be beyond their ability and results in frustration, delays, added cost and possible injury. Doing the work on their own may be possible, but the results are more than likely to be less attractive than what a pro might do. On the other hand, hiring a contractor is pricey. However, having brick and stone repair done by a professional not only ensures a better result, it adds to the value of your home.

The biggest benefit of having masonry repair done by an expert is that it can last a life time. In truth, it can last numerous lifetimes. These products have actually been used for centuries, and there are many structures around that can vouch for their durability and charm. When you think about it as an investment that can be enjoyed for generations, a few additional dollars up front seems very reasonable.

What to do If Your Basement Floods

water damageIf there has been a sewage backup in your home the first place you want to call is the city.  If the problem looks like an internal issue then you will need to call a plumbing company.

For sewage problems, call the city and ask for the appropriate department. They should send someone out fairly quickly. If they cannot get there fast enough for you, then consider calling a local plumbing company. Either way you will need to talk to a water damage restoration company at some point when this kind of problem happens.

While Waiting for Technicians

While you are waiting for them to arrive, examine the toilets, sinks and waste pipes and clear any obstructions to see that the problem is not due to an internal plumbing issue. Be patient; City staff will react as soon as possible. Ensure somebody is the home of let the individual in when he arrives.

Water contaminated with raw sewage backup might contain bacteria and viruses which can impact wellness. You can get sick by consuming infected food or water, or by putting dirty fingers into your mouth. Wash your hands often in this type of predicament.

If Natural Gas is Involved

Whenever floodwater is threatening gas-fired equipment like a basement furnace, hot water tank or stove, call a plumber you know or ask someone if they can recommend a good company. A Vancouver furnace service specialist will be sent off to switch off the gas service to any affected areas.

Hydro Problems

It is NOT safe to enter your basement if the water level has reached any plug, electrical outlet, extension cord or wall heating system.

If the water has not yet reached a plug or wall heater and your distribution panel and major switch are still above water, you might be able to shut off the power yourself. Since dry wood is not a good electrical conductor, stand on a wooden stool or chair, and then shut off the primary switch using a dry wooden stick such as a broom handle.

If this is not possible, or if the water has reached the panel or a switch, do not touch anything. Call an electrical contractor or a certified plumber with electrical knowledge. Only a trained individual can shut down the power at an outdoors meter, hydro pole or transformer.

Dealing With Electrical

Prior to turning the power back on after the water subsides, call an electrical service provider to inspect your setup and verify that there is no risk of electrocution or fire if the power is recovered.

If the primary switch was flooded or if the service was cut off at the meter or the pole, your city Hydro will reconnect the power after it has been examined and approved.

The Danger of Ignoring Simple Maintenance Jobs

When something as serious as a basement flood in Vancouver occurs, it may not get noticed right away. No matter when you discover something as bad as this your best course of action is to call a 24 hour emergency plumbing company.

There are a number of good companies in every American city. Take a moment and get a feel for the company by reading through a few pages to see if they have taken the time to offer helpful information. If you feel comfortable then call them right away.