Friday, 2 September 2016

Reasons for an AC Service Call

If your air conditioner is no longer cooling, you are probably going to need a service call. When we visit your home, we'll look at a number of factors that could contribute to poor performance.

A common problem is small leaks in the system that result in the loss of refrigerant. Refrigerant levels only need to be off by a little bit to reduce the efficiency and capacity of the air conditioner. When the system charge is low the AC will run longer in an effort to maintain the demands on it and on warm days it may not be able to maintain the set temperature.

In the past it was common practice to simply "top up" the refrigerant charge but present environmental regulations require us to find the leak and repair it before adding refrigerant to the system.

Damaged or loose wiring can also be an issue. Often over the winter months, mice and other small rodents will build nests within the AC unit that's outside. Some older AC models have little heaters in the compressors that run during the winter. The warm environment inside the unit is very attractive to small rodents. They can disturb the wiring, or chew on the wires, causing a short.

As the unit gets older there is a greater probability that there will be a failure of the contactor, capacitor, condensing fan motor or even the compressor.

A dirty condenser coil (the outside unit) can negatively affect your air conditioner's performance. Dirt, dust, weed and tree pollen, and leaves can all build up on the coil reducing the transfer of heat from the refrigerant to the outside air. Since the unit is outside in the elements it is necessary to clean it periodically. Don't allow nearby bushes to grow around your air conditioner. The unit needs space for good air flow to operate correctly.

Don't forget to change your furnace filter before the cooling season and check it regularly. The blower in your furnace is required to circulate the cool air produced by your air conditioner throughout your home and maintain a sufficient flow of air over the coil installed in the ductwork (evaporator coil). A plugged furnace filter can result in reduced performance of your AC and lead to coil icing.

There are other causes and remedies for icing that you can read about on our blog about icing.

If your unit is older than 15 years, depending on its' condition and the cost of repair, purchasing a new unit may make more sense, although our first priority is to repair your equipment, if this is your best option. Like any piece of equipment, it's not going to last forever.

Today's air conditioners are quite a bit more efficient than an older unit, so the savings in energy costs will help take the sting out of the cost of a new unit. The government also has attractive rebates on air conditioners. Rebates on new units currently vary from $250 to $400, depending on how efficient the new equipment is.

Warranties on new equipment are also very attractive. Daikin offers a limited full replacement warranty for up to six years and a limited parts warranty up to twelve years. You can learn more about new equipment on our website.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

What Causes Air Conditioner Icing?

Icing is a condition where the evaporator coil for the air conditioner ices over and your unit no longer can cool the home properly. The evaporator coil is located in the ductwork, usually just above your furnace. Your furnace fan moves air over the coil and distributes the cool air throughout your home.

Often if an air conditioner is icing, it can be traced to improper use. This is a common problem for new home owners and it is easy to fix.

If you set the thermostat too low, it can cause the unit to ice. Many people think that by setting a lower temperature it will help to cool down the home faster. That is not how your air conditioner works. If you set the temperature too low, your air conditioner will run continuously trying to get your house to the temperature you set.

The volume and temperature of the air flowing through the coil affects the surface temperature of the coil. As the temperature in the home drops the lower temperature of the air flowing over the coil is not sufficient to keep the surface temperature of the coil, which is being cooled by the refrigerant, above freezing. As a result, the water on the coil (condensate) freezes and air can no longer flow through the coil. Evaporator coil freezing can also occur if the outside temperature drops quickly and the air conditioner is left running to cool down the home. We often see this if the thermostat is set too low or the AC was left off all day and turned on in the evening to cool the house down. If there is a change in the weather and the outside temperature drops quickly the refrigerant temperature at the evaporator coil is so low, it can cause the moisture on the coil to freeze.

Your air conditioner coil will ice if there is not proper air flow over the coil. Some people close too many vents in an effort to drive cool air to the second floor of their home. Closing vents restricts air flow, which can cause your unit to ice.

A dirty furnace filter can also cause your unit to ice. Dirty filters are another cause of restricted air flow.

What To Do When Your AC Ices:

  1. Turn off the air conditioner. It has to thaw out and cannot do this while it is running.
  2. Make sure all your vents are open.
  3. Make sure you have a clean furnace filter installed.
  4. Change your furnace fan setting from ‘auto’ to ‘on’. This will thaw the coil faster.
  5. Wait a few hours for the ice to thaw from the coil. Set the temperature at a reasonable level (72-75° F) (22-24°C) and start up your air conditioner again.

If these steps don't solve the problem, it's time for a service call.

A low refrigerant charge can also cause icing or frosting but it will require a mechanic to check the system pressures to confirm this.

Friday, 29 July 2016

Air Conditioner Sizing

When we recommend the size of air conditioner your home will need, we run through a series of calculations. Factors that we consider are the size of your home, number of windows and the direction that windows are facing.

Code requires a unit that will provide anywhere from 80% to 125% of the calculated load on a design day. In London, we design with an outside temperature of 86°F (30°C), and an indoor temperature of 75°F (24°C).

If It is determined that your home requires a 2½ ton unit to meet design, you can choose anything between 2 ton and 3 ton and still meet code.

The 2 ton unit will work fine on mild days, but will not keep up on design or over design days. If we have a stretch of weather over 86°F (30°C), or if you want to maintain an indoor temperature of 72°F (22°C), you should consider a 3 ton unit.

There is a price difference when you move up to a higher capacity unit. The price differences are not that great when you consider that you will likely own your unit for 15 years plus.

If you find your current equipment does not keep your home cool enough on very hot days, we have some recommendations. Keep your windows closed with your blinds drawn on sunny windows. Keep your unit running all the time. Do not shut it down and do not open windows on milder days. Your air conditioner is drying the air, which helps make you feel cooler. Opening windows allows humid air back into your home, which will make you feel warmer quicker when the temperature starts to rise again. It also makes more work for your air conditioner when you turn it on again, to have to remove the humidity from the air.

Regular maintenance is required to ensure that your unit operates at maximum efficiency. A poorly maintained unit will not operate at its’ designed capacity, or run as efficiently.

We have had customers that report their air conditioning worked better after they replaced their furnace.Your furnace fan also impacts your system performance. New furnaces have more efficient fans that move more air.

Have us out to maintain your furnace and air conditioner annually. Our technicians can tell you if it looks like you should consider replacing your equipment. If it’s time to look at new equipment, we will visit your house for a no-cost, no-obligation assessment of your home comfort needs.

A new furnace and air conditioner will keep you more comfortable and are more energy efficient than older equipment. New equipment also carries worry-free warranties of up to 12 years. In addition, there are energy rebates to help cover the cost of new equipment.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Shutting Off Heating Vents in Summer

In a 2 storey home with an older furnace a common issue is the difference in temperate between the main and upper levels during the summer. A common but incorrect solution is closing vents. People think that if they close vents on the main floor, the system will push more cool air to the upper floor.

This strategy will often give you poorer cooling performance. When you are getting your furnace maintenance done our technician can assess your equipment. The repairman will take into account the age and size of motor, how it cycles, the duct-work, number of air returns and vents.

If you have a minimal number of vents you should not close any. If you have more vents than you need then perhaps you can shut some. In general, it is normally OK to close vents in a basement. It is on the main floor that you probably do not want to close any vents.

Your furnace fan is moving cool air in the summer months. If you reduce the number of exit points for the cool air, your furnace fan can no longer move as much air.

We think that by closing vents, we are able to force the air to go where we want, which is up. When we close vents we are actually restricting air flow. That means less cool air circulating through your home.

A better solution to keeping your second floor cooler is to run your furnace fan continuously. Without a fan running, the air in your home stratifies, with warm air moving to the highest levels of the house. With the fan running, the air is constantly mixing.

Many people are surprised to find out that when they replace their furnace, the air conditioning works better. That’s because new furnaces have more efficient fans that move more air.

A ductless split is another solution for cooling higher floors. With a ductless split, cool air can be delivered from high on a wall on your upper floor. Cool air naturally drops, so this makes more sense than your furnace trying to deliver cool air from the basement.

Your annual maintenance call is a great time to ask your technician the best way to operate your home comfort equipment. If you have questions, you can call us anytime at (519)451-8910.

Friday, 8 April 2016

Renting Furnaces and Air Conditioners

Several companies are now offering consumers rental furnaces and air conditioners. Many people in London rent their hot water heater, so they may think renting a furnace or air conditioner also makes sense.

There has been a recent article in the Toronto Star (click here to read the article) that explains some of the pitfalls involved in renting equipment for your home.

Some companies are now operating questionable door to door selling techniques in London. They will come to your door and give you the impression that they are with the government or gas company and that they want to inspect your furnace or water heater.

They will then tell you that there is something wrong with your venting or the way the equipment is installed. The solution they offer often will be to rent you new equipment.

It’s a very aggressive sales pitch and they are determined not to leave your house until they get a signed agreement.

How Can Salmon Plumbing and Heating Help?

  • The cost of a service call can quickly put your mind at ease.
  • We offer financing for all equipment we sell. It’s easy to apply for and the loans are fully open, which means you can pay them off anytime with no penalty.
  • You’ll be surprised that the monthly payments are usually very similar to rental payments. The difference is they will end, and you will own your equipment.
  • We offer service plans, extended warranty and 24hour emergency service. We take care of our customers promptly.
  • We answer all of our own phone calls, you do not get directed to a call centre.
  • We’ll visit your house for free, evaluate your needs and provide you with a simple no-obligation quote.
  • We only sell quality equipment, because we have to stand behind it.

What’s Wrong with Renting Equipment?

  • The low monthly payment looks attractive, but it never ends, and the payments are often more than if you purchased the equipment using a monthly payment plan. In the long run, rental equipment costs a lot more than buying.
  • Rental contracts are difficult and costly to get out of, even if you change your mind.
  • If you need to sell your home, rental agreements can ruin a sale. Often the buyer is not willing to take over contracts to rent the equipment and the cost for cancelling the contract can be significant.
  • Some companies renting you equipment will put a lien on your home, which can complicate the sale of your home or may prevent you from re-financing or securing a line of credit.

What are Your Alternatives?

  • If you suspect something is wrong with your equipment, have a reputable contractor with licensed technicians check it out.
  • Never sign paperwork from a stranger that shows up at your door, even if they appear to be reputable.
  • If there is something wrong with your equipment, it may make more sense to fix it, than to replace it.
  • If your equipment needs to be replaced and you don’t have the money, find out what it will cost to finance it before you enter a rental agreement.

Friday, 18 March 2016

Back-Up Sump Pumps

Many Londoner’s rely on a sump pump to keep their basement dry, particularly in the Spring. Rainy weather and quickly melting snow can result in your sump pump running regularly.

A sump pump failure can lead to a flooded basement and lots of costly damage. Sump pumps are mechanical devices and eventually will fail. Your sump pump will also not work through a power failure, which often happens in stormy weather.

We recommend that you have a battery back-up sump pump that will kick in should your pump fail or during power outages. Battery back-up pumps are plugged in like your main sump pump. They use a trickle charger to keep the battery fully charged.

Battery back-up sumps pumps are also equipped with an alarm. It’s important for you to know that your back-up pump is running, so you have time to attend to your main pump.

Care of Battery Back-up Pumps

It’s important that your test run your back-up pump 3 or 4 times every year, cycling the pump 8 to 10 times. Batteries last longer if they are fully discharged and then charged up again. If you don’t do this, the battery will only last for a couple of years and may not be functional when you need it.

Batteries normally last 5 to 7 years. We would recommend that you change the battery every 5 years.

Cost of Installation

A battery back-up pump is often less than the deductible on your home insurance policy. If it is only needed once, it will pay for itself.

New Homeowners

We often talk with new homeowners that may not be sure if they even have a sump pump or how it works. Give us a call, we will service your pump and give you instructions on using and caring for your sump pump. For the cost of a service call you’ll get piece of mind and information that every homeowner needs.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Best of London, 2016

Salmon Plumbing & Heating would like to thank all of our customers that voted for us for 'Best of London'. We are very proud to be selected as London’s Best Plumber for a second consecutive year.

Best of London Winner, 2016, The London Free Press

The company was founded by Bill Salmon in 1955. Over the last 60 years, we have grown with London and now operate out of a modern new facility on Clarke Road. The company continues to be family owned and operated by the second generation sons; Bill, Brock and Paul Salmon.

Salmon Plumbing Shop, 96 Clarke Road, London Ontario

The company has always prided itself on service. Everyday we repair plumbing, furnaces, boilers and air conditioning equipment. We offer 24 hour emergency service to make sure our customers are taken care of 365 days of the year.

Our fleet of red service trucks that can be seen around the city everyday have become our trademark.

Salmon Plumbing Red Truck

We always try to repair equipment first. When the time comes that equipment needs to be replaced, we offer a full line of furnaces, boilers, air conditioners, hot water heaters, toilets and faucets. We sell only quality equipment that we would use in our own homes.

We are very proud of our fully licensed tradesmen including; plumbers, sheet metal workers, gas fitters, electricians and HVAC mechanics.

We are also proud of our office staff. We take all of our calls and do all of our dispatching right here in London. Our shop on Clarke Road has a fully stocked parts department and a sheet metal shop. This makes it possible for us to take care of our customers in a timely manner.

We’d like to invite all Londoners to visit our website where we have several tips and lots of information for homeowners about plumbing, heating and air conditioning.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

DIY Plumbing, Mistakes Can Be Costly

The big box stores are offering a wide range of plumbing products. The home handyman will find plumbing products being marketed directly to the DIY customer. Plumbers are highly skilled professionals and not everything we do is as easy as it may look. We often get called out to fix do-it-yourself (DIY) projects that have gone wrong.

Plumbing can be divided into two broad categories. Supply side deals with pipes that are under pressure, delivering water to your faucets and appliances. Drainage side deals with getting rid of waste water.

Supply side plumbing is very critical to get right. The City of London has excellent water pressure and a small leak in a supply side pipe can cause a lot of expensive damage. Drainage problems can be costly as well. Common DIY problems include improper venting and incorrect grade. This can lead to slow running or blocked drains.

The plumbing in your home is often hidden behind drywall or other finished surfaces. Quite often, a big part of the repair cost is restoring the finished surface.

DIY Plumbing Products

The DIY plumbing products being offered are designed for the homeowner that probably will not own the torches, cutting tools, etc. that a professional will carry. Manufacturers have created compression fittings and push-on fittings. If you don’t strictly adhere to the instructions, connections can pop apart days or weeks down the road. You can end up with a slow leak, some spray or a full blown gusher. Plumbing is often hidden in walls or cabinets. You usually don’t find out about leaks until it is too late. It’s critical to do it right the first time.

Home owners working with products like copper or pex pipes, really need to know what they are doing. Soldering copper pipe is a skill that professionals are trained to do properly. Improper soldering may look like it’s working, but can start leaking days later. Plastic pipes look similar but are not all the same, there are a wide variety of glues and fittings that vary from one manufacturer to the other.

At Salmon Plumbing, we use copper pipe almost exclusively for supply side plumbing. When we install a toilet or faucet, we’ll also install shut-off valves. If there ever is a problem with the toilet or faucet, you can simply use the shut-off valve to isolate the problem. Otherwise, you would have to shut down the water for the entire house.

Plumbing is an area where mistakes can be very costly. A leaking water pipe can damage walls, floors and furniture very quickly. For the majority of homeowners, plumbing is a job best left to a professional.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Mild Weather and Melting Snow

It's been an unusual winter in London, Ontario. December and January were unusually mild. The Valentine's Day weekend we just went through gave us a reminder that winter is not through with us yet.

We saw the temperature drop below -20°C. We also had a lot of snow, which is unusual when it’s really cold. That combination of events had our phones ringing off the hook. We were able to help many Londoner's with very serious problems.

Many of the problems we find ourselves dealing with are preventable. We had a plumbing call from a homeowner that had water coming into the basement. We found out it was coming from the neighbour’s house. They had gone away and did not turn off the water to their outside taps. The pipe to their outside tap burst and was running for a long enough period of time that water was running into two basements.

It was a good thing we were there. The neighbour just arrived back home and did not know how to shut off the water. They had 2 inches of water in their basement, because their floor drain was plugged. You can click here to read our blog about floor drains.

We've written a web page of what you need to know in an emergency. You can read it by clicking here. One of the most important things is that you need to make sure that everybody in the home knows how to turn off the water to the house.

We responded to two calls for no heat, which were also easily preventable. One was caused by snow blocking the furnace intake pipe. Click here to read about solving this common problem.

The second no heat call was simply caused by a dirty furnace filter. Click here to read about changing your furnace filter.

The cold snap is over and now we are in for a mild spell. That's going to create some problems as well. All the snow we have will be melting quickly. Here are a few tips of what to watch for:

  • Make sure the discharge line from your sump pump is clear (not frozen) and the water is running away from the house.
  • Make sure that water is not sitting next to your foundation, blocked from draining away by piles of ice and snow.
  • Make sure your sump pump is operating. A battery backup sump pump is a great idea to protect your basement. If you have one, this is a good time to let it run and allow the battery to run down and recharge. If you don't have one, click here to read why they are a good idea.

If you don’t know what we are talking about, not sure whether or not you have a sump pump, or just not handy, call us to come out and show you what you need to check. The cost of a service call is good insurance. It’s far cheaper than dealing with a flooded basement.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Government Rebates on New Furnaces and Air Conditioners in Ontario

The Ontario Government is currently running a program called ‘saveONenergy’. The program is run by a department called IESO (Independent Electricity System Operator). This provincial department ensures that there is enough power to meet the province's energy needs both today and in the future.

The saveONenergy Heating & Cooling Incentive offers rebates to Ontario residents looking to replace their old central air conditioning or heating systems with ENERGY STAR® qualified models. With 60% of your yearly electricity bill going toward heating and cooling your home, it makes good sense to look for ways to reduce your usage and your bills.

The program offers consumers very attractive rebates. If you purchase a qualifying furnace, there is a rebate of $250.00. For a qualifying air conditioner there is a rebate of $400.00.

When you are buying a complete system that adds up to $650, which is a pretty attractive incentive to purchase new equipment. You also see the benefit of lower utility bills and improved home comfort. New equipment carries worry free warranties of up to 12 years, providing peace of mind for our customers.

Why is the Government Doing This?

To meet the increased demands for electricity the provincial government has two choices. Build more power plants and infrastructure or encourage consumers to use less energy.

It is cheaper for the government to offer these rebates and encourage consumers to move into more energy efficient equipment that it is to build new power plants.

Is it Complicated to get the Money?

We will make sure that you are choosing equipment from Ruud or Daikin that qualifies for the rebates.

We strive to make the process simple, we do this all the time. We’ll help you with all the paperwork and ensure that you get your rebate after your new equipment is installed.

Bill Salmon talks about Government Programs:

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Improving Home Comfort with a New Furnace

Many of our customers that buy a new furnace do it to take advantage of energy savings and government rebates.

People are often surprised to discover that their home is more comfortable in both summer and winter.

Some high efficiency furnaces from Daikin and Ruud are multi-stage furnaces with variable speed fans. The fans on new furnaces can move much more air than older furnaces.

Daikin Furnace
Ruud Furnace

During the winter months, the furnace fires at different levels, automatically adjusting to outdoor conditions. On extremely cold nights like we see here in London Ontario, the furnace will fire at a higher level and your fan will run at a higher speed to keep your house warm on frigid nights.

Most of the time in London, during the winter months, the temperature is running between -5C and +5C. During these milder periods, the furnace and the fan will run at a lower setting to maintain your home’s temperature at a constant and comfortable level.

Modern furnaces keep the temperature very close to the thermostat setting, normally not varying more than half of a degree, plus or minus.

During the summer months your furnace fan will allow your air conditioner to do a better job, especially in multi-level homes. Warm air rises and on a hot summer day our homes can become uncomfortably warm on the second floor.

The new high efficiency furnaces will move much more air than older furnaces. That means that your system can deliver more cool air to your upper level in the summer months.

We’ve had customers tell us that "had they known how much better their air conditioner would work, they would have not waited so long to replace their furnace".

Upgrading your furnace is probably a lot less trouble than you think. Just give us a call and we can take a look at your current equipment and give you a pretty good idea what energy savings you could start enjoying immediately. This is all a free service that we offer, with no obligation or pressure tactics.

Many customers are pleased to discover that a new furnace can actually pay for itself. The increased comfort and peace of mind with warranties extending up to twelve years are icing on the cake.

Salmon Plumbing & Heating will assist you with the paperwork for government rebates. We can also help you with financing your new equipment.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Scheduling a Service Call

Salmon Plumbing & Heating has built its' reputation on providing timely and quality service to our customers. A large part of our business is repairs. We don't have this work at the start of the day. Customers call in and we try our best to get them serviced on the same day.

We all have an experience where we've sat at home for an entire day waiting for a serviceman to arrive. We don't run our business this way. Scheduling in our business can be a bit of a juggling act, because we don't know for certain how long our men will be at each call.

The only service appointment we can make with certainty is the first one in the morning. After that, we give people a time range to expect our arrival. We do the best we can to meet our schedule. If we are running late, we'll call you with a new E.T.A.

We understand that customers have to work during the day. If you plan on coming home to meet our serviceman, we'll call you at your work and let you know he's on his way.

Everyday Londoners have a choice who they will call for their plumbing and heating needs. We want to make sure we do quality work and meet time commitments so customers will choose us again the next time the need arises.

We offer 24-hour emergency service outside of our regular office hours. We have our own staff answering the phones after hours. Emergency service is more expensive, so if possible we'll try to give you a short term solution on the phone so we can come when we are charging our standard rates. If it's an emergency, we have licensed servicemen ready to go out at any time.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Snow and Furnace Vents

If you have a newer high efficiency furnace, you will likely have 2 pipes coming out at the side or back of your home. One of these pipes is for exhaust. On a cold winter day, you'll see white vapour blowing out of this pipe.

The second pipe is for air intake. The furnace requires a supply of fresh air for combustion.

In London, Ontario we can see snow drifting and piling up quickly in a snow storm.

One common problem we see in the winter months, is that furnace vents get covered with snow. This can happen from drifting, or driveway shoveling. If the intake vent gets blocked by snow, the furnace will automatically shut down.

If your furnace shuts down unexpectedly during a snow storm, check to see that your furnace vents are clear of snow. Once the snow is cleared from the vents, your furnace will start up again on its' own.

If you are shoveling your driveway, or using a snow blower, make sure that you are not piling snow near the furnace vents.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Changing Furnace Filters

How Often Should You Change Your Furnace Filter?

The frequency at which you change your filter depends on two main factors.

The first consideration are factors that contribute to a dirty filter. The number of people in the house, pets, carpets, how often you vacuum and the age of the house all contribute to the amount of dust and particles in the air. If you have a couple of kids and a dog, you’ll probably need to change your filter more frequently than a retired couple with no pets.

The second consideration is the size and type of the filter. Generally, older furnaces will have a filter that’s 1" thick. These filters can be flat or pleated. Pleated filters have more surface area and tend to last longer than flat filters. A 1" thick filter should be checked every 6 weeks and the frequency adjusted according to what you find. If it is really dirty you will want to replace it more frequently. If it still appears clean then wait a couple more weeks. At a minimum, 1" filters should be changed twice in the cooling season and twice during the heating season.

Newer furnaces may have a 4" thick filter that has an accordion (pleated) design. This provide much more surface area for catching dust and does not have to be changed as frequently. The minimum replacement schedule would be annually. We recommend that you check it before the air conditioner goes on in the spring and again when the furnace is going to start up in the fall. As with the 1" filter you may have to increase the replacement frequency if you have a busier household.

It is important to note that your air conditioner requires a clean filter so that it does not freeze up. Air has to be moving freely to prevent that from happening. Clean filters allow your equipment to run more efficiently, and to maintain a healthy environment.

Checking and changing filters is an easy task that most homeowners can do themselves. If you are not sure how to change your furnace filter, just ask our serviceman when you are having your annual maintenance done.

Salmon Plumbing & Heating, serving London, Ontario since 1955.