Keeping your home warm is an essential part of preserving a comfortable living environment, but it can also represent many hazards such as fire, carbon monoxide poisoning and indoor air pollution.
The National Fire Protection Association reported a total of 54,030 home structure fires involving heating equipment between 2011 and 2015. Central heating units and water heaters accounted for 21 percent of those fires.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that over 150 Americans die every year from accidental carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning that is not caused by fires. Known as a silent killer, CO has no smell or taste, so neither people nor animals can tell when they are breathing it.
Get your furnace checked for safety by a highly-trained heating specialist
It’s a smart idea to have a highly-trained heating specialist like Anthony Plumbing, Heating & Cooling perform a safety inspection on your furnace. Their technicians will do the following:
- Inspect the heat exchanger for cracks with a state of the art inspector camera.
- Test for any dangerous gas leaks such as CO.
- Test the ignition system for safe and proper operation.
- Test the safety and control circuits.
- Ensure the exhaust is venting properly.
We often run coupons for safety inspections during the winter months. Check our coupons page for our current specials.
Watch for signs of a cracked or non-functioning heat exchanger
A gas furnace’s heat exchanger is the furnace component that actually heats the air. A cracked heat exchanger is a serious safety issue, as the gases being burned off, such as carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrous oxide, could leak into your home, causing illness or, in extreme cases, death. Getting an annual furnace safety inspection will help spot cracks in heat exchangers. But homeowners should always keep an eye out for these warning signs of an improperly working heat exchanger:
- black carbon buildup (soot) inside or outside the furnace cabinet, a sign of incomplete combustion
- Excessive moisture in the space and on the windows (water is a byproduct of combustion)
- unpleasant odor similar to formaldehyde
- water on the floor at the base of the furnace
- flu-like symptoms experienced by family members
Clean your furnace
Like other appliances around the home, a furnace will function more safely and efficiently if it’s clean. Check the pilot light and main burners on your natural gas furnace to ensure they are burning blue. If they burn orange or yellow, contact a heating specialist to have it serviced.
You can also call a highly-trained heating specialist like Anthony Plumbing, Heating & Cooling to have your furnace thoroughly cleaned before the winter months when you’ll be using it regularly.
Install and/or check carbon monoxide detectors
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a “silent killer” because you can’t see, taste or smell it in its natural form. If it is inhaled in high concentrations or slowly over time, it can cause drowsiness, dizziness, loss of consciousness, brain damage and death.
If you have natural gas heating in your home, it’s important to install CO detectors on each floor to ensure your family’s safety. Since CO doesn’t rise like smoke does, safety experts recommend installing CO alarms at knee level, which is about the height of a sleeping person’s nose and mouth.
Also consider installing “smart” detectors that will send alerts to your phone when you are away, so your pets and elderly family members stay safe when you’re not at home.
Change your furnace filter
Clean filters allow your furnace to run more efficiently and help prevent dust from circulating through your home. If you don’t know how to change your filter, schedule a visit from a heating specialist or check for videos online that walk you through the process.
Keep area around furnace clear
Garages and closets are prone to gathering clutter, but it’s important to keep the space near your furnace clear of boxes, trash, open laundry soap, paint thinners and gasoline containers or other combustible items. Keep this up year-round, whether you regularly use your furnace or not.
Keep supply registers clean and open
While it may make sense, in theory, to close supply registers to unused rooms to save on heating bills, heating specialists suggest otherwise. A furnace needs constant, consistent airflow to function properly, or it may use up the oxygen in your home. Closed supply registers can allow water pipes to freeze even though the frozen pipe is not in the room with the closed supply register.
“It’s also possible to damage your furnace by closing too many air registers,” according to Angie’s List. “Closing off registers creates less airflow, which forces the furnace to work harder. It’s also possible that limited airflow may cause the furnace to blow air that is too hot and trip the limit safety switch in the furnace.
Replace older furnaces
Like an old car, an old furnace that requires costly repairs is signaling that it’s near the end of its useful life and needs to be replaced soon. Even if your furnace has a few years left in it, it may not be cost efficient to keep it if your energy bills during the heating season are high due to the furnace’s poor efficiency.
Newer furnaces are cleaner, operate more safely, produce less pollution, and are built to meet modern building codes. If your furnace is over 18 years old or if it is requiring frequent repairs, it may be time to replace it.
In addition, after July 3, 2019, residential furnace manufacturers must include energy-efficient electronically commutated motors (ECM’s) on their furnace fans, which are expected to save homeowners significant money on electricity bills.
ECM motors are also expected reduce carbon pollution and keep occupants more comfortable, too. First, they provide more efficient airflow. Second, they reduce temperature swings in the home by allowing the fan to run for a longer time at a reduced speed.
For more information on how to safely maintain your furnace or to determine whether it’s time to replace it, contact us today at 913-268-4669 or submit our contact form.
Do you have a Gas furnace for Back Up Heat?
Shut off your Heat Pump if you have a Gas Furnace for the Back Up Heat
Homeowners that have what has been called a hybrid heating system ( a heat pump with a gas furnace back up) should operate only with the gas furnace for the winter if gas prices are low. Natural gas prices have been very low in past years, caused by an abundance of gas available and mild fall temperatures. On the other hand electric rates continue to climb. The beauty of having a hybrid heating system is the ability to choose which source of heat is more economical to use and for this winter it certainly is natural gas.
With a typical operation of a hybrid heating system, the heat pump will operate with ambient temperatures above 32 degrees. When temperatures are below 32 degrees the gas furnace would operate. To lock out the heat pump from operating, homeowners should switch their thermostats to “emergency heat” mode. Don’t worry about the word “emergency” – think of it as auxiliary heat which is the gas furnace.
Note: In all electric homes where the backup heat source is an electric furnace, the heat pump should be operated since it is more efficient than an electric furnace.
Your sink, toilet or bathtub is clogged. Is the problem at the trap, or the main line, or somewhere in between? The plumbers on our drain remediation team have the tools to quickly analyze your situation and get your drain open and flowing. Our drain remediation trucks carry state-of-the-art video cameras and drain opening equipment so we can diagnose and solve your “drain pain” quickly and professionally.
Diagnosing an Impending Clogged Drain
The best way to handle drain clogs is to avoid them altogether through our annual plumbing inspections, where our plumbers diagnose issues with your pipes that will lead to clogs and solve them before clogs can form. Unfortunately, there are not many warning signs of impending clogs, but if you experience any of these signs you should call in our drain remediation team right away:
Your Drains are Slow
A slow drain is usually the first sign of an issue. As soon as you start to notice your sink, bath or shower draining slower than normal, call us.
Odors are Coming out of Your Drain
Sometimes you will notice an odor due to waste backing up before you actually can see the fluid build up.
Water “Rings” Near a Floor Drain
Sometimes fluid backs up from a floor drain and then goes back down slowly. You may only see the “ring” around the drain since the fluid has already subsided.
How to Open a Clogged Drain
You can treat slow drains with hot water or baking soda and vinegar and hopefully keep clogs at bay, just never use chemical drain openers, and never pour boiling water down PVC pipes. But once a drain becomes fully clogged, there are only two basic ways to open it: plungers (evacuators) and augers (snakes). Occasionally a homeowner can successfully open drains themselves using these tools, but it often takes a professional plumber to remove drain covers, stoppers, traps and clean outs in order to access the clog and remove it.
Plungers and Evacuators
In order for a plunger to work, a tight seal must be formed between the plunger and the sink, tub or toilet to build up enough suction to dislodge the clog from the walls of the pipe. In order to know if the plunger to working, there must be standing water; if the water level goes down you can tell that you are having success. Not all plungers are created equal; if your dollar-store plunger is failing you might try a more expensive version from a home supply store. Plumbers have access to high-suction evacuators that are even more effective than traditional plungers.
Augers and Snakes
There are many types of augers and drain snakes. For bathroom sink and tub clogs, a flexible plastic stick with prongs to grab debris can be effective. For bigger jobs like a clogged toilet, a drain snake can be used. These devices come with hand cranks or motors, and work by swirling a flexible metal cable around in your pipes until the clog breaks up.
The pipework beneath sinks, showers and bathtubs can be very intricate, and it is possible to damage the components using augers or snakes, especially in older homes. Even toilets can be damaged by the use of drain snakes. It is best to have a professional plumber snake your drains rather than risk expensive plumbing repairs.
What Happens During a Drain Remediation Visit
Depending upon where the clog exists, our experts will remove hardware to access the clog. Sometimes this means removing a drain cover, clean out cap, p-trap or sink stopper pop-up mechanism.
Depending on the severity and placement of the clog, the drain remediation expert will either use a high-suction evacuator or auger to dislodge the clog and open the drain. Hot water will then be used to flush the drain and make sure it is running smoothly. A camera will be utilized for major drain pipes to check the integrity of the system. Once the drain is opened and water is flowing freely again, the hardware will be replaced as it was.
How to Avoid a Clogged Drain
There are a variety of different drains around your house that need to be kept open so they work properly and conveniently. Some are easier to maintain than others. Always make conscious decisions about what you put down your drains!
Don’t Treat Your Kitchen Drain and Garbage Disposer Like a Garbage Can
Grease, soap and food waste can take their toll on kitchen drains, clogging them slowly (or quickly) over time. Garbage disposers do not prevent clogs, and they can become clogged or jammed themselves with improper usage. Never put grease down a drain. And even if you have a garbage disposer, use it only for tiny bits of food that cannot be gathered and thrown away in a waste can. Put a strainer on each of your kitchen drains to keep the majority of food waste out of your drains and garbage disposer. And always have cold water running when you turn on your garbage disposer; this keeps oils hard and moving through your pipes instead of coagulating in them.
Put Strainers on Shower and Tub Drains
Hair is biggest danger with shower and tub drains, so make sure there is a strainer on your tubs and shower drains. Regularly remove the hair that builds up on the strainer. Even if you have no hair or little hair, strainers will stop small items like soap pieces, shampoo caps or jewelry from slipping down the drain. There are many different types of strainers, so keep looking until you find one that works for your drain.
Only Flush #1, #2 and Toilet Paper
There are only two items that should be placed in a toilet: toilet paper and human waste. Clogged toilets are often the result of flushing facial tissue, cat litter, feminine products, baby wipes or other products that don’t disintegrate the way toilet paper does.
Protect Bathroom Sink Drains
Clogs in bathroom sinks can result from toothpaste, soap, hair, styling products and other grime. And bathroom sinks with drain stoppers do not accommodate strainers, so extra care must be taken to keep clogging substances out of these drains. Run water the entire time you are brushing your teeth. Consider spitting into a tissue instead of the sink, and use paper towels to wipe styling products and hair from your hands before you rinse them off. And if you get sick, run to the toilet, never to the sink.
Keep Debris Out of Floor Drains
Floor drains capture soap from cleaning products and laundry detergent that can build up scale over time. They are also susceptible to receiving any kind of dirt, debris or trash that kind finds its way to the floor, which can clog them up quickly. Never sweep anything into a floor drain other than water.
Get Your Sewer Drain Snaked Regularly
If water backs up in your floor drains or toilet after using large amounts of water, it probably means your sewer pipe is clogged. These are the pipes that run from your house to either the city sewer or to your septic tank.
Sewer drains are at risk of being clogged by the same items that clog your interior pipes. But an additional risk to sewer drains is plant roots that seek an easy way to water sources through your sewer pipe. Trees and bushes in your landscaping can clog sewer drains quickly, depending upon the growing season, so regular snaking of outside drains is recommended to keep roots from taking over. Also pay attention to where your sewer pipes are buried; driving over them or parking on them can cause them to collapse and require them to be replaced.
Get your septic tank inspected regularly. Opening up your sewer drain will do you no good if your septic tank is not operating properly. If you have a septic tank, make sure that the motor is running correctly, the laterals are in good shape and the drain pipe is open all the way to the drainage area on your property. Septic tanks on a routine inspection plan with a qualified septic tank specialist should run properly for years with no major issues.
Install a Water Softener
Hard water is a big contributor to clogged pipes. Minerals in the water from our public water sources build up in pipes over time and is difficult to get rid of this scale once it is deposited. There are many types of water softeners; the tanks that require bags of salt are just one of the many options. Some filters can be placed easily and affordably on your main water intake that will lengthen the life of your plumbing significantly.
Get an Annual Plumbing Inspection
We cannot stress enough how much an annual plumbing inspection can save you money. Preventing drain clogs is just one of those ways. Professional plumbers can assess the condition of your pipes, faucets, toilets, water heater, water softener, water filtration system, sump pump, exterior hydrants and even the hoses attached to your washing machine, dishwasher and refrigerator, and implement preventative steps to save your home and your plumbing from expensive repairs.
Opening Drains vs. Cleaning Drains
There are two solutions to getting rid of clogs; opening drains and cleaning drains. Our drain remediation specialists are fully equipped to provide both drain opening and drain cleaning services.
Opening drains is a fast and affordable solution that most homeowners choose, but it may not be the best long term solution. Opening drains removes all the clogs from a drain, so water can pass freely through your plumbing.
When drain clogs are a more constant problem, we sometimes recommend a full drain cleaning. Cleaning drains involves removing all sediment from the walls of the pipes instead of just opening them. Though cleaning a drain is more time-consuming than opening a drain, it generally keeps your drains running smoothly for a longer period of time.
Call Us Any Time of the Day or Night
You are too busy for clogged drains, we get it – that’s why we are here 24/7 to respond, and have plumbers and drain remediation specialist in your neighborhood until midnight, even on weekends. And remember, we are the “Technicians You Can TRUST with your House Keys!®”, so you don’t even have to be at your home when we visit.
Call us anytime at A-N-T-H-O-N-Y (268-4669) KS or MO; that’s 913-268-4669 or 816-268-4669. Or complete our Online Scheduling form at https://www.anthonyphc.com/schedule-service/ and we will give you a call.
Pipes freezing and bursting during the winter is a fairly common occurrence. Most of the time if there’s no water in your home after a deep freeze, it’s due to a frozen pipe. But when a water pipe breaks inside a home it can be devastating, especially if the pipe bursts in an upper story and causes a waterfall to form all the way down to the basement. No house is exempt from the risk of frozen and bursting water pipes, but fortunately there are things you can do to prevent them.
Preparation is Key to Preventing Pipes from Bursting
“Preparation is key,” says Steve Burbridge, at Anthony Plumbing, Heating & Cooling. “Learn the location of your main water shutoff valve in case a pipe breaks.”
A plumbing safety inspection is a good way to identify, and protect against, potential pipe freezing points. Have a highly-trained plumber come out and give your plumbing a fitness check. They will also check for potential leaks and other looming problems while they are at your home, such as pipe-damaging hard water and carbon monoxide leaks from your water heater vent.
It is important to know the hours your plumber is available, especially if they work evenings. If yours does not, find one that does, in case your pipes burst at night when air temperatures are at their coldest. Anthony Plumbing, Heating & Cooling has plumbers in the field until midnight every night, and have experts to assist homeowners over the phone 24 hours a day.
Protecting Garage Pipes from Freezing
Water pipes in rooms that are not heated are especially vulnerable to freezing and bursting. Because most garages are not heated, water pipes running through the garage are vulnerable to freezing and bursting this time of year. Keeping your garage door closed is one way to keep out the cold. Placing a UL-listed electric space heater near pipes will also keep them from freezing.
An Auto-Ray infrared garage heater, installed by Anthony Plumbing, Heating & Cooling, is the ideal way to protect the pipes from freezing and bursting in your garage, and in the rooms next to your garage. And, ice and snow brought in on the car the night before will be GONE the next morning and the floor will be dry! The Auto-Ray infrared garage heater heats a 2-3 car garage using inexpensive natural gas for about $10 a month. And no more getting into a cold car!
Prevent Your Kitchen Sink from Freezing
It’s not unusual for plumbing running to a kitchen sink on an exterior wall to be extremely vulnerable. Open the cabinet doors along that wall to allow heat into the space. Place an electric heater in front of the cabinets for an extra measure of cold protection, or leave the faucet dripping water if extremely cold and windy outside.
Place A Space Heater in Any Non-Heated Rooms
Keep unprotected pipes above freezing by simply placing a UL-listed electric heater near them. Remember, the goal is not to make the space toasty warm and comfortable. It’s to keep the water in the pipe above freezing.
Drip a Faucet Furthest from Your Water Main Valve
Turning on a faucet furthest from your water main valve overnight keeps water running through your pipes while you sleep, and running water is less likely to freeze.
Make Sure the Hoses are Removed from Your Outdoor Faucets
Leaving the hose on your outdoor faucet during the winter can cause water from the hose to back up into the faucet plumbing. This water will expand inside and split the piping during freezing weather. Remove and drain hoses used outside, and store them away until spring.
A newer innovation is the one quarter turn valve frost-free faucet, which allow for hoses to be left on all year round. Not sure if you have a one quarter turn valve frost-free faucet installed? If you’re not sure if your faucet is frost free, call a plumbing expert to make that determination.
Turn Off the Water Main Valve
In the most frigid temps, turn off the main water valve while the house is unoccupied or while you sleep. If a pipe freezes and breaks, the spillage is limited only to the water in the pipe. Anthony Plumbing, Heating & Cooling can install an electric main water shut off valve that you can activate with your smart phone.
Prevent Pipes from Bursting while Away Long Periods of Time
When you are away from home for extended periods of time, cold temperatures inside your home during power outages are a real concern. The best way to be notified of a power outage is to equip your home with smart home automation technology that will 1) alert you when your power is out or the temperature drops inside your home, 2) notify you if a pipe does break, and 3) allow you to shut off the main valve remotely from any location.
But even without smart home automation technology you can still take steps to prevent frozen and burst pipes while you are away for the winter.
How to Winterize Your Plumbing While You Are Away
If you plan to be away from your home during the winter months, you need to take steps to prevent the pipes from freezing and bursting while you are away. It is best to call a highly-trained plumber to assist you in these steps, especially if it is your first time taking them. Considering the massive damage a broken pipe can cause, it’s worth it to take a little extra precaution.
- Invest in smart home automation technology systems like Anthony MyHome
- Turn off the main water service valve.
- Turn off the gas valve on the water heater, or if you have an electric water heater, turn off the breaker that supplies power to it.
- Open all indoor faucets, both hot and cold sides. This includes sinks, lavatories, showers, and bathtubs. Unhook the washing machine hoses and open these two valves. NOTE: If you have water filters or a water softener, these will also need to be drained.
- Flush all toilets to drain most of the water out of the tanks. Pour some propylene glycol (antifreeze — not ethylene glycol which is toxic and used in cars) in the tanks to mix with the remaining water and pour one pint of non-diluted antifreeze into each toilet bowl.
- Pour propylene glycol into each drain trap in the home. These include sinks, lavatories, tubs, showers, and the washing machine discharge pipe.
- If you have a sump pump, have a battery back-up sump pump which will activate, even if there is no power.
What to Do if Your Pipes Freeze, but Don’t Burst
If your pipes won’t deliver water and you suspect they might be frozen, take these steps immediately:
- Try all the faucets – is there only one or two that are frozen?
- Shut off your main water, to prevent further damage.
- Thaw the frozen pipes – use gentle heat from a hair dryer.
- Carefully restore water; once the pipe is thawed turn your main water valve back on and SLOWLY turn your faucet back on.
What to Do if Your Pipes Burst
If the worst happens and your pipes burst, turn off your water main and call a highly-trained plumber immediately. Plumbers at Anthony Plumbing, Heating & Cooling are in the field until midnight every night, and we have experts answering the phones 24/7 that can help you. Call us at A-N-T-H-O-N-Y, KS (913) or MO (816), 913-268-4669 or 816-268-4669.
Black Friday Keeps Kansas City Plumbers Busy: Tips to Avoid Clogged Drains, Clogged Toilets and Broken Garbage Disposals
While Black Friday may be a hectic day for retailers, it is also the busiest day of the year for plumbers. But before you laugh, it’s not just because of clogged toilets! Clogged drains and broken garbage disposals make up many of the calls we receive at Anthony Plumbing, Heating & Cooling.
Not to worry, we will be happy to come out to your house if your Black Friday turns into a “Brown Friday.” But fortunately there are some things you can do to make sure your money goes to more fun things than clogged drains.
Leftovers in the Sink cause Broken Garbage Disposal and Clogged Drains
The No. 1 culprit for plumbing problems after Thanksgiving is homeowners trying to use their sink or garbage disposal as a garbage can. Throw your fruit peels, egg shells, bones, skin and all leftovers in the trash can, not down the sink. This fibrous food material gets trapped in your garbage disposal blades and can cause the motor to overheat or die.
Place fatty oils and grease into containers and place them into your trash. It is a common misconception that fats, if followed by hot water, are okay to place in the drain. Even when followed by hot water, fats eventually cool and clog pipes. However, if you use cold water the fats will float on the water and may not clog the drain.
Place a large garbage can and/or compost bucket in a prominent place in the kitchen, so guests aren’t tempted to place food in the sink.
Flushing Garbage causes Clogged Toilet
Bodily functions and toilet paper are the only items toilets are built to handle. Never should anyone place cotton balls, swabs, cleansing cloths, dental floss or similar items into the toilet – these must go into the trash.
The biggest offender is feminine hygiene products – these should never be placed in toilets, period (no pun intended). Putting a sign to this effect in your bathroom when you h
ave guests over, along with a large waste basket, might prevent an embarrassing issue from becoming even more embarrassing.
Protect your Bathroom Showers and Sinks to Prevent Clogged Drains
If you have showers and sinks that drain a bit slow, have Anthony Plumbing, Heating & Cooling come in and clean your drains BEFORE your guests arrive. It is
easier, faster and cheaper to clear a clog in its early stages than after it becomes really stuck.
Make sure the drain strainers in all shower, bathtub and sink drains stay in place and cleared of debris. It doesn’t take much hair to clog a drain. Ask guests to wait 15 minutes between showers and dishwasher runs to allow drains to clear.
Again, place large waste receptacles in bathrooms so guests don’t feel the need to dispose of items in the drain.
If in Doubt, Dial A-N-T-H-O-N-Y (913 or 816) for a Whole-Home Plumbing Inspection
The best way to prevent plumbing problems is with a whole-home plumbing inspection. Our highly trained plumbers will come to your home and let you know what preventative drain cleaning or other measures can be taken to help your plumbing, and your holiday, to “run smoothly.” Call us anytime at 913-268-4669 or 816-268-4669, or complete our Online Scheduler at https://www.anthonyphc.com/schedule-service/ and we will give you a call.
The heating and cooling industry recommends annual furnace and boiler tune-ups for a reason. Keeping your furnace or boiler running at peak efficiency extends its life, prevents safety issues, and ensures that homeowners enjoy uninterrupted comfort all season long.
What a tune-up entails can vary by company, so homeowners should ensure that their tune-up covers an extensive checklist of both safety and efficiency tasks. Technicians at Anthony Plumbing, Heating & Cooling employ a thorough 17-point tune-up for furnaces and boilers that includes instrument-testing, cleaning, lubricating and adjusting of all interior, exterior components of the entire system, including the system accessories such as humidifiers and air cleaners.
Furnace and Boiler Tune-Ups Save Money
Lack of maintenance is the leading cause of furnace and boiler breakdown, and repairs can cost hundreds of dollars, and replacement thousands of dollars. Regular tune-ups extend the life of your heating system significantly and reduce the need for repairs, which can save you a great deal of money.
A furnace running at top efficiency saves money on energy bills, too. The extensive tune-ups performed by Anthony Plumbing, Heating & Cooling leave your heating system in factory-fresh condition, looking and running at peak efficiency.
Furnace and Boiler Tune-Ups Save Lives
Keeping your home warm is essential, but it can also represent many hazards such as fire, carbon monoxide poisoning and indoor air pollution. Heating systems and water heaters account for 20% of house structure fires, and carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning kills over 150 American each year.
Furnace and boiler tune-ups discover and eliminate potential safety hazards before they create dangerous situations in your home. Heat exchangers are inspected for cracks that can leak CO and other dangerous gases, exhaust is tested to ensure it is venting properly, and ignition systems and safety shut-offs are tested for safe and proper operation.
Furnace and Boiler Tune-Ups Provide Maximum Comfort
A properly tuned-up furnace and boiler heats your home faster with less energy, allowing you to place your thermostat setting where it feels best, with less worry about high energy bills and inconvenient heating system breakdowns. A tune-up will also ensure that your air remains as clean as possible, which is critical as we seal up our windows and doors against the impending cold.
Tune-ups also ensure that the accessories on your system, such as humidifiers and air cleaners, are running at peak performance. Keeping your indoor air clean and properly humidified will reduce the risk of sickness and allergic reactions as you enter the cold and flu season.
If in Doubt, Tune it Up
Most people wait until the really cold weather hits to call and have their furnace or boiler checked. Typically, this is when they have heard about unfortunate tragedies associated with heating – fires, carbon monoxide poisoning, frozen water pipes – and are even more anxious to make sure their home is safe and warm.
Furnaces are more likely to break down during cold snaps when they are working overtime, and heating companies cannot always keep up with the demand for emergency repair services during these times. It is best to tune up your furnace or boiler before the coldest weather hits, and to keep it tuned up to prevent breakdowns during cold snaps, especially if your furnace or boiler is older. The typical furnace or boiler only lasts 18-20 years, depending on the average winter temperatures of your region.
If you have any doubts to the safety or efficiency of your furnace or boiler system and humidification and air cleaning accessories, you should schedule a tune-up before the bitter cold hits. Call the highly-trained technicians at Anthony Plumbing, Heating & Cooling for your tune-up at A-N-T-H-O-N-Y (268-4669) KS or MO, and check for seasonal specials at www.AnthonyPHC.com/Coupons.
Now may be the time to replace your furnace with a high efficiency system. There are many factors to consider when thinking about replacing your older furnace system.
Has your furnace reached “retirement age”?
Furnaces last an average of 18-20 years, depending on whether they have been professionally maintained or not. Age isn’t everything, though. The cost to keep the furnace running will give you additional concrete reasons to consider replacing vs. repairing.
Increased cost and frequency of furnace repairs
Like an old car, an old furnace that requires costly repairs is signaling that it’s near the end of its useful life and needs to be replaced soon. The question then is, “How expensive does a furnace repair need to be before it’s not worth it?” Even for less expensive repairs, depending upon how old your furnace is, you should consider replacement vs. repair.
Your heating bills have risen dramatically over the years
Even if your furnace has a few years left in it, it may not be cost efficient to keep it if your energy bills during the heating season are high due to the furnace’s poor efficiency. A new law is expected to provide significant savings for homeowners by cutting the electricity consumption of furnace fans. After July 3, 2019, residential furnace manufacturers must include energy-efficient electronically commutated motors (ECM’s) on their furnace fans, which are expected to save homeowners billions of dollars on electricity bills and reduce carbon pollution. ECM motors will also keep occupants more comfortable, too. First, they provide more efficient airflow. Second, they reduce temperature swings in the home by allowing the fan to run for a longer time at a reduced speed. You need to assess how much it’s costing you just to keep the current furnace you have versus how much you’ll save on a new furnace. The Energy.gov AFUE chart can do just that, and we will help you decrypt it.
Weigh the factors together
As you can see, none of these factors (age, cost to repair, energy efficiency) alone can tell you if you need to replace your furnace. They should be weighed together. To help you make the best choice possible, Anthony Plumbing, Heating & Cooling will help you assess whether you should replace your furnace or not. Call us at A-N-T-H-O-N-Y (268-4669) KS or MO. For more information on furnace replacement read our blog: Eight Things You Should Know Before Replacing Your Furnace.
Sure, you have a water heater, and it gives you hot water. But that’s just the first step! Getting that water hot enough, to the faucet soon enough, and lasting long enough, isn’t guaranteed without a little help. Tankless water heaters, tank boosters, hot water recirculating systems and instant hot water dispensers are just a few of the great products available that can bring warmth to your water and save you money as well.
Tankless Water Heaters Provide Endless Hot Water at Less Cost
The main benefit of a tankless water heater is that you never run out of hot water. Water enters the heater only when a hot water faucet is turned on somewhere in the home, and is heated as it passes through the heater. As long as you have water, you will never run out of HOT water!
Another benefit of a tankless water heater is efficiency. Tankless water heaters use energy to heat water only when needed, as opposed to keeping an entire tank of water hot like a traditional, tank-style water heater.
Tankless water heaters also last twice as long as traditional tank-style water heaters, about 20 years as opposed to 10. Because water is not collected in the system, corrosion is not an issue, so leaks do not force replacement of the water heater.
Maintenance is required approximately once a year to descale the minerals that build up on the heating elements of tankless water heaters. The harder your water the more often you will need to have the heat exchanger descaled to keep energy usage low and the lifespan of the water heater long.
For more information on the benefits of tankless water heaters, see our blog at https://www.anthonyphc.com/blog/tankless-water-heater-101/.
Tank Boosters Save Hot Water and Prevent Scalding
Tank boosters are an easy and affordable way to make your traditional tank-style water heater work better. They work by mixing cold water from the input valve with the heated water that comes out of the hot water valve. This allows your water heater to store water at a higher temperature of 140 degrees and still come out at a desired 120 degrees. Therefore, less hot water needs to be released from the tank, which boosts your tank’s storage capacity.
Tank boosters increase the safety of your water heater, too. By mixing heated water with cold water, scalding is prevented. And by allowing water to be stored at 140 degrees rather than 120 degrees, legionella bacteria, which thrives in water temperatures less than 122 degrees, is eliminated. Legionella bacteria can cause a respiratory illness known as Legionellosis, and a rare but more severe lung infection known as Legionnaires’ disease.
Recirculating Systems Reduce Wait and Prevent Wasted Water
Depending on the distance water has to travel from your water heater through your plumbing pipes, some fixtures may need to run for several minutes before hot water is delivered from the water heater. If you are tired of waiting for hot water or don’t like the idea of wasting water, then a hot water recirculating system is the answer.
There are several types of recirculating systems, but the principle behind these is simple. A recirculating pump installed in the plumbing pipes creates a loop that circulates the water in the hot water pipes back into the water heater for reheating, rather than letting this water go down the drain as you wait for warm water. This means that as soon as you open a faucet or turn on a shower, warm water is already present in those pipes.
Instant Hot Water Dispensers Provide Boiling Water on Demand
When installed in your kitchen, an instant hot water dispenser quickly becomes the most popular feature in your home. Imagine instant hot water for coffee, tea, cocoa or hot cereal without waiting for water to heat in the microwave or boil on the stove.
An instant hot water dispenser is a wonderful timesaver with a multitude of uses. Homeowners commonly use the near boiling water to clean pots and pans without soaking, loosen jar lids, blanch vegetables, remove wax residue, polish silver, warm baby food or make a quick compress for first aid.
Instant hot water dispensers can also be installed with filters to ensure you are getting the best quality water. But even without filters, the super-heated water kills parasites that might otherwise elude filtration.
Because instant hot water dispensers deliver water at over 200 degrees, safety is an issue that must be considered before installing these devices.
Put Extra Warmth into Your Water by Calling Us Now
Whatever your budget or home needs, we have a solution that will bring warmth to your water and save you money. Let us help you explore the options! Call us at A-N-T-H-O-N-Y (268-4669) KS or MO.
It’s the Warmth of the Sun In Your Garage
Add more comfortable living space to your home instantly! It’s easy with the installation of our Auto-Ray infrared garage heater. Our garage heater uses NO electricity. It runs on natural gas, using infrared technology, and can heat a 2-3 car garage for pennies a day. Just think, no more frozen blocks of snow still on your wheel wells in the morning. No more warming up the car for 10 minutes before you leave. Our garage heater is also a great idea for an out-building or a detached work shed. It also helps those rooms above the garage stay warm. We invite you to visit our showroom to see the garage heater in action. Beat the cold!
Call us today to schedule a free estimate at A-N-T-H-O-N-Y (286-4669) KS or MO. Or click here to schedule a visit.
- Efficient Infrared Heat – Directly heats people and objects which in turn heats surrounding air to desired temperature.
- Economical – No electricity required
- Instant Heat – Includes adjustable thermostat for individually controlled warmth
- Large Capacity – Heats 500-600 sq. ft. (2-3 car garage)
- Convenient – Easy to operate
- Quiet, Clean, Odor-Free Operation – natural gas or propane
- Maintenance Free – No moving parts to service
- CSA Certified
- Limited 1 Year Warranty – On gas control
- Limited 3 Year Warranty – On burner
WHY INFRARED HEAT?
Infrared heaters work just like the sun. Infrared rays heat the object directly, not the air around it. When the object becomes hot, it heats the surrounding air and any other objects. With infrared heat, people, machinery, objects and floors all become heat reservoirs — leading to greater fuel and cost efficiency.
Should I Repair or Replace my Air Conditioning System?
When deciding whether to repair or replace your AC system, there are really three things you need to consider:
1. Which is the most Cost-Effective route?
2. What is my family’s Comfort level?
3. What are my Convenience needs?
At some point in the life of an AC system, repair costs outweigh the long-term cost savings of replacement, and it depends upon the unique circumstances of each homeowner as to when that tipping point is designated.
But Cost, though a huge consideration, is not the only one; Comfort and Convenience can be the deciding factors if you are trying to avoid the time and headaches associated with routine repairs on older equipment, or if you have family members in your household who cannot tolerate stretches without comfortable conditioned air.
1. COST CONSIDERATIONS
At some point replacing your AC system will be more effective in the long run, and there are several factors to consider when pulling the trigger to replace. The experienced Comfort Advisors at Anthony Plumbing, Heating & Cooling are best equipped to help homeowners through this decision-making process, and homeowners are encouraged to take advantage of the free consultations we provide.
There are two instance, however, when replacement is almost always recommended:
when your system uses R-22 refrigerant
when your system is 15 years or older
If Your AC System Uses R-22, Plan your Replacement Strategy Now
If your cooling system uses the refrigerant known as R-22 and you’ve had to add refrigerant recently, then it is time to replace. Refrigerant doesn’t get used up – the only time you have to add refrigerant is if you have a leak. And if you have a leak, you will have to add more and more refrigerant each year.
Also, the price of R-22 is climbing every year. R-22 refrigerant contains chlorine, which eats away the ozone layer when leaked into the atmosphere. Because of this, R-22, also known as HCFC-22, will be illegal to produce starting in 2020, and the only way to acquire it will be through recycled or stockpiled supplies which will be prohibitively expensive to purchase.
The last AC systems using R-22 were manufactured in 2010. So if your AC system is one of these, it is already old enough to consider replacement. Refrigerant leaks likely happen to systems as they age. Refrigerant circulates under high pressure and therefore wears down the inside of the tubing. Because AC systems last only 10-15 years on average, it is time for your R-22 unit to be replaced, especially if it is leaking refrigerant.
How Do I Know if My AC System uses R-22?
Steve Burbridge, owner of Anthony, Plumbing, Heating & Cooling, recommends homeowners have an HVAC technician inspect their system to determine what kind of refrigerant it uses. Age of the system is one determinant – no R-22 units were manufactured after 2010. But systems using R-410A, the ozone-friendly refrigerant, have been manufactured since 1996, so just because your unit is old it doesn’t mean that it uses R-22.
It is occasionally possible to determine what type of refrigerant your system uses by locating its manufacturer’s data plate. These are labels found either on the side of the condenser (outside unit) or air handler (inside unit). Some manufacturers make it easier for you by putting a separate sticker on the condenser with the refrigerant spelled out in tall letters; R-410A also goes by the name Puron®, which is the name Carrier uses.
Can I Wait One More Year?
If you want to wait it out one more year and try to save money by pumping R-22 into your old unit until it is no longer available, you may end up spending a lot more next year than you save this year, as the cost of R-22 is increasing significantly every year until the 2020 phase out.
Waiting will also put you in the same boat as all of the others who are waiting until the last minute, and prices go up when demand is high. And even if you are lucky enough to get a reasonably priced replacement system, the wait for available technicians to install it might be long. And the last thing you want to do is be faced with weeks without air conditioning during the summer heat.
What if I Can’t Afford to Replace Right Now?
Replacing a central AC system can cost several thousands of dollars, more than many of us have saved up. This is where financing comes in. Fortunately, there is financing available for just about any credit score. The one bright side to incurring an extra monthly expense is the reduction in energy costs that you will receive when a new system is doing the cooling. New cooling systems outperform old ones significantly, no matter what their Energy Star rating is. Click here for financing options at Anthony Plumbing, Heating & Cooling.
Can I Get Away with Purchasing a Lower Cost AC System?
The cost of AC systems depends upon cooling capacity and SEER rating. The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) measures how much cooling a system puts out for each unit of energy it consumes. In theory, the higher the SEER rating, the more efficiently the system operates. But paying for a higher SEER rating does not necessarily mean that you will incur enough reduction in energy costs to make up for the higher price.
Size matters – if an HVAC company says you can get away with the same size system as you currently have, be skeptical. If you just purchased your home, don’t assume the AC system installed is necessarily the best size for your home. Size requirements can change when changes to your home are made as well, such as additions, insulation changes, and asphalt roof shingles.
If your cooling system is too small it will run constantly and not lower the temperature to your desired set point. Alternatively, if you install one that is too big, it will turn on and off constantly, and not dehumidify the home. This makes the home feel like a cave – cool and damp. It is most cost-effective to purchase a unit that is the correct size for your home.
Homeowners should use the assistance of well-trained experts like those at Anthony Plumbing, Heating & Cooling in order to choose the most cost-effective AC system over the long run.
If Your AC System is More than 10 Years Old, Consider a More Efficient Model
Cooling systems wear out just like any other household appliance. A well-maintained AC system will last 10-15 years, according to the National Association of Home Builders. If your system is older than 15 years, replacement is recommended. But even if it is only 10 years old, replacing can save you money and peace of mind over waiting for it to fail over the next 5 years.
It is important to know that even AC units younger than 10 years old can fail if they have not been maintained properly over their lifespan. Steve Burbridge, owner of Anthony Plumbing, Heating & Cooling, recommends having your cooling system tuned-up by a professional HVAC technician annually to keep your system in good working order. The technician can inspect the unit’s components, identify and fix any issues, and clean the indoor and outdoor coils. This will increase a system’s efficiency as well. If you have just purchased your home, try to obtain maintenance records, as they will inform you on the system’s potential either to fail soon, or last another several years.
Rising Energy Bills are a Red Flag that Your AC Could be Failing
Before you blame global warming for your rising energy costs, consider whether your high energy bills could be the result of a faulty, failing or inefficient AC system. An AC system that is working inefficiently will run more frequently, using up more electricity while not adequately cooling your home. Once an AC system reaches this point, its chance of failing completely increases rapidly.
Many utility companies provide comparison charts of how your bill has changed year over year. They also provide an average temperature for each day of the month, information that can help you identify whether higher utility costs are associated with outdoor temperature or something else.
Repeat Breakdowns – Another Indicator to Cut Your Losses and Replace
Whether your AC system has reached the end of its lifespan or not, having multiple serious repair jobs in a row could indicate it is close. Recall that systems last only as long as they’re maintained well, and some simply don’t last as long as others. If you’ve already fixed one issue and more are popping up, it might be best to cut your losses and replace.
Older AC systems will also have more aesthetic issues. “Rust is a major problem, along with being noisier than newer models,” says Steve Burbridge, owner of Anthony Plumbing, Heating & Cooling. “People with AC units that are near windows or backyard patios could benefit from the newer and quieter AC units built today.”
Climbing R-410A Refrigerant Costs – Bad News for Those with Leaking AC Systems
If you thought R-22 was the only refrigerant with a rapidly increasing price, think again. The price of R410-A has doubled in the last year, and price is expected to keep increasing. If your system has a refrigerant leak, your needle has just moved toward the replacement side of the decision making equation.
As stated above, leaks don’t go away, they get worse over time. And since the cost of refrigerant is ever-climbing, keep in mind that you will be paying a lost more next year than you paid this year to keep your system cooling. Not only will the refrigerant price be higher, but the amount you need will be greater due the leak getting bigger.
There are a few reasons for the rapidly increasing refrigerant prices. One is a tariff on Chinese imports imposed in 2017; most refrigerant is manufactured in China. Another reason is a worldwide shortage of R-125 that occurred in 2017, a key ingredient in the manufacturing of R-410A and other refrigerants. And prices for refrigerant naturally raise in hotter weather due to increased demand, so homeowners that needed refrigerant added to their systems during the summer of 2018 were shocked to find the price increased significantly.
Although it doesn’t look like R-410A AC systems will be discontinuing anytime soon, it does look like the cost of R-410A will continue to increase, making replacement a more affordable option in comparison.
2. COMFORT CONSIDERATIONS
For some families, no amount of cost savings is worth putting their family at risk of being without adequate air conditioning. For homeowners with pets, children, or adults who are elderly, pregnant or have health issues, it doesn’t make sense to save a few bucks and hope your AC system will last another year with no major repair downtime.
Heat Can Harm Kids, Pets, Pregnant Women and Elderly
The temperature inside your home rises at an alarming rate when your cooling system stops working. It is no secret how miserable it is to be inside a 90-degree home, but to some it can be dangerous.
Pregnant women are understandably susceptible to overheating during pregnancy, but it is worth noting that the unborn child is at a higher risk of experiencing low weight and birth defects when subjected to extreme heat. Individuals with breathing problems and heart conditions experience a great deal of distress when subjected to heated air, especially when coupled with humidity.
The younger the child and the older the adult, the more susceptible they are to heat stroke and heat exhaustion and dehydration. These populations, like pets, cannot always discern or verbalize their discomfort until it is too late.
3. CONVENIENCE CONSIDERATIONS
Rather than take time off work and move all of your pets and family members to a hotel while your AC is down, or worry about them being home alone while you are away at work during an AC system failure, replacing your cooling system will do more than save money, it will save worry as well.
Even if you are a healthy adult who can easily “take the heat,” chances are you live a busy life and cannot afford to take a day off work to deal with a “hot house.” Nor are you willing to return from a long, tiring vacation ready to jump back into a busy work week and come home to an unpleasant sauna.
AC Systems Only Break Down in the Heat
As obvious as this sounds, this is worth remembering, because it is easy to forget how critical air conditioning is to your life during the cooler months. Whether your cooling system quits working because a simple repair is needed or because it has reached the end of its lifespan, NO time is a good time to be without air conditioning during a heat wave.
It is important to remember that HVAC technicians are their busiest during heat waves as well, so you might be facing more than the usual 24-48 hours without cooling if you have to wait for technicians to become available during the busy season.
Plan Your Replacement in Advance
By scheduling your AC replacement well in advance, you can plan your installation for a time when it is convenient for you. Some replacements can even be completed over the weekend if planned well enough ahead.
It is often best to purchase a new cooling system during the off season, when demand is less and installation technicians have more time. Look for AC clearance sales and have financing paperwork completed for when the perfect deal arises. Don’t make a heatwave-related AC emergency dictate the cost and timing of your AC replacement. Also, a complete system includes a furnace or air handler that moves the cooled air, so furnace replacement should be considered anytime cooling systems are replaced.
4. One More “C”… CALL if you Have Questions!
For more information on how to recognize when your cooling system needs replacing, contact Anthony Plumbing, Heating & Cooling in the Kansas City metro area. We have Comfort Advisors willing to share their wealth of experience and expertise with you for free. We will make the Repair vs. Replace decision-making process a breeze, and make the AC replacement process a happy one – GUARANTEED. Call us 24/7 at A-N-T-H-O-N-Y (268-4669) KS or MO.