- My neighbors just had their heating system upgraded. They claim the upgrade will save money. My system's about twenty years old and it's still working pretty well. Why should I consider an upgrade?
- What are some preventive maintenance issues I should be aware of?
- If I shut off the a/c when I'm gone from the house does it cost more to cool the house back to the right temperature when I return?
- My central air conditioner always seems to be running, and it's blowing cool but not cold air. What's wrong?
- Especially during the colder months, I can't seem to get hot water in my shower. Can this be fixed?
- I think I may have a water leak in my home. How can I be sure?
- Should a 35 year-old house with 100-amp service be upgraded to 150 or 200?
- Every time I plug in my electric heater, my electricity shuts off. How can I prevent this from happening?
A - As with most home improvement, installation or repair related jobs there are wide number of unknown variables that can affect a price one way or the other. This makes it difficult for service providers to quote prices over the phone, since we don't want to give an estimate that's too high or too low. For example, if we provide an estimate for a new water heater installation, but as soon as the technician arrives they realize the furnace is in the way, or your old water heater had a unique connection that will not work with a newer model then the quoted estimate will not be accurate. We can ask certain questions over the phone that will help us with determining your needs for a particular job, but with a majority of jobs a technician will need to visit the job site in order to formulate a more accurate quote.
Q - My neighbors just had their heating system upgraded. They claim the upgrade will save money. My system's about twenty years old and it's still working pretty well. Why should I consider an upgrade?
A - Studies show older heating equipment is not as effective as more-efficient modern units. New equipment operates at efficiency levels of 85% or higher. Plus, today's models are more compact and quieter. Why not make an appointment with a John C. Flood service technician for a free system evaluation? After thoroughly inspecting the equipment, the technician may suggest an upgrade, and you can choose among the top brands in home comfort. A new system will reduce maintenance and repair costs, lower your heating bills, provide greater peace of mind -- and will pay for itself over a few short years.
In general, you might consider an upgrade if:
- Your furnace or boiler is more than 15 years old.
- Your equipment needs frequent repairs and your energy bills are going up.
- Some rooms in your home are too hot or too cold.
- No one is home for long periods of the day and you do not have a programmable thermostat.
- Your home has humidity problems.
- Your home has excessive dust.
- Your system is noisy.
A - With the proper attention, your heating system can keep you comfortable year-round. Heat pumps and oil-fired furnaces and boilers need a yearly professional tune-up (every other year for gas-fired equipment). A close inspection will uncover leaks, soot, rust, rot, corroded electrical contacts and frayed wires. In furnace (forced-air) and boiler (hot-water) systems, the inspection should also cover the chimney, ductwork or pipes, dampers or valves, blower or pump, registers or radiators, the fuel line and the gas meter or oil tank; as well as every part of the furnace or boiler itself. And whom do you call for your inspection? There's only one answer -- your John C. Flood service professional.
Q - If I shut off the a/c when I'm gone from the house does it cost more to cool the house back to the right temperature when I return?
A - With air conditioning systems, the equipment runs at peak efficiency when it operates for long periods. Cooling your house back to the comfortable temperature will use less electricity than the unit would use cycling on and off for short periods to maintain the set temperature. If your house takes too long to get back to a comfortable temperature, you might investigate getting a programmable thermostat, and set it to start heating or cooling your house an hour or so before you return. You could also set the thermostat back, to a lower temperature for heating, or a higher one for cooling, while you are gone, rather than turning it off completely. Ask the pros at John C. Flood about purchasing a programmable thermostat -- when used properly, it could shave $100 off your annual energy costs.
Q - My central air conditioner always seems to be running, and it's blowing cool but not cold air. What's wrong?
A - There are several things that might be going on:
- Your condenser may be dirty and the evaporator coils should be cleaned.
- The airflow around the condenser may be inadequate.
- If there is a leak, your unit may be out of refrigerant.
- You might have a leak in your duct system.
If you're experiencing any of the above, give the a/c pros at John C. Flood a call today.
Q - Especially during the colder months, I can't seem to get hot water in my shower. Can this be fixed?
A - If you tend to feel that the Arctic Sea is probably warmer than the water coming out of your showerhead, most likely, the problem is that water coming into your home is colder in the winter. This water causes a couple of problems. First, the tap water at your faucets is colder and thus requires more hot water mixed in to achieve that perfect "Caribbean Sea" temperature. Because of this, you use more hot water than usual. Second, this colder water takes longer to heat in the hot water tank, which causes recovery time to lengthen.
But, if the unfortunate happens and your water heater should fail, we carry high-quality tanks on all our plumbing trucks -- for quick and easy installations.
A - Turn off all water-using appliances and fixtures inside and outside your home. Do not use sinks, toilets, dishwasher, etc. Next, locate your water meter, and write down the numbers showing beneath the glass cover. Wait 20 minutes without using any water inside or outside your home. Then, check the meter again. If the numbers have changed from the previous reading, you have a leak. The plumbing professionals at John C. Flood will be happy to find the source of, and repair, the leak.
A - It depends on the amount of power you use. If you trip circuit breakers a lot, the service needs to be upgraded. Also, sometimes the wiring in the walls deteriorates. A John C. Flood electrical expert can tell you if the service is adequate or not. Odds are, if the home has a gas stove, gas or oil-fired water heater and gas or oil-fired furnace, 100 amps may be fine, although some new circuits may need to be added to help spread the load around. When you make any of the above items electric, that's when you start eating up your power reserve.
Also you may not have enough outlets available. This is especially true in kitchens with heavy draw items like toasters, coffee makers, and other heating appliances ... or in your living room, if you're into home theatre. Again, if you have any doubts, ask a Flood expert.
Q - Every time I plug in my electric heater, my electricity shuts off. How can I prevent this from happening?
A - Besides being unsafe, electric heaters use a lot of power and can easily exceed the capacity of an already loaded circuit. Anything with a motor or fan will use more power when starting up than after it is already running. If the circuit breaker or fuse is tripping when you plug in or turn on the heater, then you may have too many things on that circuit. Look at every electrical device on the circuit and add up the total watts of each one (it's listed somewhere on each, usually the back or bottom). Divide the total wattage by 120 to get the total amperage needed on that circuit. The fuse or circuit breaker should be rated for at least as many amps needed or it will trip when the total is exceeded. You may have to find another place to plug the heater in or have a circuit added to handle the extra load.
Don't replace the fuse or circuit breaker with one rated for a higher load; the wiring may not be able to handle it and you could start a fire within the walls or attic. (Using extension cords for heaters in a house is a bad idea because the cord can overheat and start a fire.)
When in doubt, call John C. Flood and ask to speak to an electrician. And by the way, if your home isn't being heated properly, you may want to contact one of our heating experts, too.