/* */ Helpful Articles about Plumbing and Heating in Your Home
Naugle
Plumbing and Heating
1108 W. Chicago Blvd.
Tecumseh, MI 49286

(517) 423-3121

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Annual Air Conditioner Maintenance tipsNow is the perfect time to schedule annual air conditioner maintenance for your home, no matter what type of A/C system you have. Before the weather gets hot, have the system serviced and inspected. A qualified HVAC contractor will be able to identify and fix problems early, saving the cost of replacing an entire unit.

An air conditioner that is serviced regularly operates more efficiently. Simple maintenance tasks or adjustments within the unit can potentially reduce the energy consumption and lower your electric bill.

How an Air Conditioner Works

There are many parts of an air conditioner, and each requires some type of cleaning, adjustment, or lubrication.

Evaporator – this includes the cooling coils that remove the heat and humidity from the air, using a refrigerant. During normal maintenance, adding refrigerant may be necessary.

Blower – the blower circulates the air over the evaporator; and this is what sends chilled air into the room to make you comfortable.

Condenser – these are coils that carry heat to the outside. This area needs to be cleaned and free from debris, leaves, and dirt to allow for good airflow to the outside.

Compressor – moves the refrigerant from the evaporator to the condenser. This motor needs to be well-maintained, lubricated, and inspected thoroughly to be sure the systems work together.

Fan units – blow air over the condenser, assisting with releasing the hot air outside.

Filter – protects the unit from airborne particles, and can easily become clogged. Changing filters periodically can help improve how well the unit operates.

Thermostat – simple calibrations within the thermostat can make a difference in the temperature request inside the home.

Proper Refrigerant Levels

Refrigerant is inside the air conditioner coils, changing from a low-pressure gas to a high-pressure liquid and back again as heat is absorbed and cooled down while passing through the system.

Sometimes, refrigerant needs to be added during a service call. This is not because the A/C unit uses up the refrigerant, like your car uses up gas; but because of how the components are manufactured. Minute cracks can develop in the thin copper tubing or in the evaporator coil, and can cause refrigerant leaks.

Only licensed HVAC companies can purchase refrigerant for A/C units, and the technicians have been trained to install it properly. The type of refrigerant required varies, depending on the model of your air conditioner.

R-22 phase-out – Check the age of your air conditioner; the US Government has mandated that R-22 coolant will be unavailable within a couple of years. The more environmentally-friendly R410A refrigerant cannot be used inside an older system; so eventually an HVAC upgrade may become necessary.

Service Agreements Give Peace of Mind

Planned Service Agreements save money by providing annual check-ups on the A/C unit for one low price. The following areas of the air conditioner are serviced annually:

  • Check and clean the condenser coil
  • Check the electrical connections
  • Check for oil and refrigerant leaks
  • Check the safeties and controls
  • Check and oil the blower
  • Check the expansion valve
  • Check the refrigerant pressures
  • Check the evaporator temperatures
  • Check the condensate drain
  • Clean or replace the standard 1-inch filter
  • Oil the motors as needed
  • Adjust the system for optimum cooling

Of course, simple homeowner tasks such as making sure the external unit is free from leaves and debris, and brush is trimmed around the unit, will help operating efficiency. Frequently replacing the filter will also help airflow through the unit, giving it a better chance of cooling your home.

When you consider all the moving parts associated with an HVAC unit, it’s a good idea to rely on a professional to make sure the air conditioner is well-maintained. Call Naugle Plumbing & Heating to begin a service agreement contract or schedule a maintenance inspection on your air conditioner now, before the hot weather arrives.

Furnace Service Agreement and repairAs the winter heating season approaches, it’s a good idea to evaluate how well your furnace or boiler system is operating. Take the time now to inspect and prepare the HVAC system to ensure trouble-free performance before the cold weather arrives.

Just like your car, a heating system should have routine checkups. Ignore regular maintenance for too long and malfunctions will probably occur, especially on cold winter days. Regular inspections via a furnace service agreement will ensure your heating system is working well when the temperatures drop.

How much does HVAC maintenance cost?

When an emergency visit is required for home heating repairs, service fees and part costs are usually separate items calculated for the trip. HVAC maintenance costs can vary widely, depending on the severity of the problem and type of parts that may need to be replaced.

A reputable furnace repair company will follow established industry pricing guidelines for the parts needed as well as the standardized time that is estimated to complete the task.

Ideally, a maintenance inspection should be scheduled as a precautionary step well ahead of seasonal changes. This is a separate service call that is performed by a qualified HVAC technician. This inspection can identify worn parts, inefficient operation, or possible safety hazards that should be addressed.

Is a home heating service contract worth it?

Cost-conscious homeowners may be tempted to ignore annual service tasks required for their furnace; but there are some ways to save money while still having quality service.

A service agreement, also known as a maintenance contract, or service plan, outlines specific preventative tasks that are performed on a home heating system. These types of agreements often provide overall cost savings for the annual maintenance inspection as well as reduced fees for additional service-related tasks.

Service contracts may be available through a few resources in your community:

  • A qualified HVAC service company
  • Gas or utility companies
  • Home warranty companies

Each resource will offer different levels of service and may have pre-qualifying criteria before specific work is covered. It’s best to research the options available, but make sure the work is completed by someone familiar with your system. A warranty for the work performed may also be part of the agreement, so ask each resource for specific information about the coverage.

What is included in a planned service agreement?

At a minimum, the service agreement usually includes an annual inspection of the furnace or boiler system. This can include a visual inspection of the thermostat, pressure settings, motor functions, belts, burners and fans, as well as evaluating the entire operational cycle. Some agreements also check carbon monoxide levels, humidity levels, and air filtration or purification.

Labor costs for the annual inspection are usually included in the agreement; but if additional parts are needed, that can be an additional expense.

Some levels of service plans also include priority scheduling. Customers on a regular plan appreciate having their systems checked well ahead of season requirements.

Combining service plans may also be an option, so the humidifier is checked at the same time as the gas furnace. This reduces the need for an additional service call, so some savings may be passed on to the customer.

Benefits of a heating system service plan

Besides peace of mind, there are a number of benefits to having a regular heating system service plan.

  • System dependability
  • Proper maintenance
  • Safe operation
  • Energy cost savings
  • Repair warranty
  • Discounts on additional services or parts

Naugle Plumbing & Heating is qualified to inspect and repair all major brands of furnaces and boiler systems. Visit our Service Plan page to see how we inspect and get your heating system ready for the upcoming season. And, contact us today to set up furnace service agreement to give you peace of mind and comfort this winter.

A complete home heating system provides warm comfort during chilly weather; but it needs occasional maintenance to keep it working great. Some of that is minor upkeep tasks that a homeowner should perform on a regular basis, while other maintenance tasks are better left to a heating specialist.

You wouldn’t keep driving your car without adding gas, changing the oil and air filter on a regular basis; and a complex system inside your home requires, at a minimum, a certain level of attention to keep it at optimum performance.

Your furnace may work fine to produce heat during the winter months. The best indoor comfort also includes clean air and the right levels of humidity, which also factor into the operation of a furnace.

Monthly Maintenance Tips

Changing the furnace filterMany manufacturers of forced air heating systems recommend that the air filters are changed monthly, to ensure proper airflow and reduce allergens in the air throughout the house.

People with allergies, asthma or other sensitivities often prefer homes without carpeting because carpet traps and holds contaminants. But regardless of the type of flooring in a home, a whole-house air filter on the heating system can help block those particles before they travel and settle.

Filters are a low-cost item that, when changed frequently, can keep the ductwork cleaner for longer periods of time. Buy the right filter for the heating system. The furnace requires a certain mixture of airflow to cool itself, and too dense of a filter will prevent that from happening.

Seasonal Maintenance Tips

A central humidifier works on the home heating system to provide the right amount of humidity throughout each zone of the house. However, these can become clogged with minerals from the water, and should be carefully cleaned at least each season. Dry air in the home spreads germs that cause illness; and humidity around 40 percent is comfortable. Lower humidity levels also affect the wood and wallpaper, causing them to dry out and become cracked, which can be costly to replace.

A humidifier installed on a furnace can help control the humidity levels throughout the house, or each zone if that is how the heating system operates. The pad or filter that the water passes through naturally trap minerals, scale, rust, and hard water deposits, and it is necessary to replace this at least seasonally, depending on the local water. Calcium and mineral deposits also build up in the water reservoir, and a full cleaning of the humidifier may require disassembly by a qualified HVAC technician.

Long-Term Maintenance Tips

Ductwork inside the home serves the purpose of passing heated or cooled air from one area to another, and can often become polluted with dust, debris and even fungus or mold. Some of the dust gathers around the air vents and registers, so vacuuming these areas helps, including removing the vent cover and carefully vacuuming inside the opening as far as the vacuum hose can reach.

However, proper duct cleaning is recommended around every four years, and should be done by a qualified professional who can contain the contaminants properly.

Proper maintenance now can make a difference in the efficiency of the home heating system throughout the year. Call Naugle Plumbing and Heating to check your system over, and save $25 off your next service call through April 30, 2016, when you mention the service code WebClean0430.

Hot Water Heater Maintenance TipsRegular indoor maintenance ensures systems work efficiently when you rely on them throughout the year. A home’s hot water heater is just one of those systems that could use some help right now.

Whether you are maintaining an older hot water heater, or considering the purchase of a new, higher efficiency model, here are a few tips to consider.

Maintenance questions – It is important to learn what is necessary when it comes to maintaining your hot water system. Do you need to replace parts, or have the system flushed or cleaned? Are there any calibration adjustments that a professional plumber should perform? These are good questions to explore.

Warranties and contracts – Make sure you adhere to maintenance contracts that are required for a warranty. Review these documents and follow the recommended guidelines, just as you would the maintenance schedule for your car.

Give it a Flush – Flushing the hot water heater monthly will prevent sediment from building up inside. Here’s an important tip: the normal valve commonly found on a conventional water heater doesn’t open wide enough to let all the particles out. A better option is to have your plumber install a Wide-Open Valve, which opens larger and also has a hose connection to easily direct the water away from the system.

Water softeners – Hard water deposits leave behind residue and can negatively affect the performance of your hot water heater. Get your water tested, and consider a softener system to avoid corrosion on the inside of your water heater.

Pressure regulating valves – If the water pressure in your home is high, it may damage your appliances and also cause your water heater to fail. A pressure regulating valve regulates water pressure through the entire plumbing system, and should be installed by a qualified plumber.

Consider retirement – Conventional water heaters may last around ten years, so if your unit is older than that, you will probably see a significant energy savings by replacing it, sometimes as much as 20%. Conventional water heaters need to run all day to keep water hot and ready for you, accounting for almost 30% of a home’s energy bill. The tankless water heater systems quickly heat water right when you need it, and take up much less space in the utility room, and often have a longer warranty. Consult with a plumbing specialist to determine the flow rate and which system will meet that need.

Protect you investment with some simple DIY maintenance; but rely on a qualified plumber to help maintain your hot water heater in the best condition. Call Naugle Plumbing & Heating to schedule a checkup for your hot water heater today.

Central Air Conditioning tipsTemperature fluctuations this time of year may have you wondering about the effectiveness of your existing central air conditioning unit. Or, perhaps you don’t have central air and want to have it installed this year. Here are a few tips to consider about home central air units.

Air Conditioning Costs vs. Benefits

On average, central air is less expensive to operate than a number of older window air conditioners. So, if you are cooling your home with the same equipment you used 8-10 years ago, it may be more efficient to install newer whole-house air conditioning.

Even those central air units that are 10 years or older are not as energy-efficient as the models available today. The Energy.gov website stated that you could probably save 20% to 40% of cooling costs by replacing an older air conditioner with newer, more efficient models.

The good news is that the average life span of most central air conditioners is now around 15 years, and replacement parts and regular maintenance can help them last at least that long, or even longer.

Central air conditioners circulate cool air throughout your home, and also reduce the amount of humidity at the same time. High humidity left inside a home can contribute to health problems and mold growth inside the walls of your home.

This is where an experienced professional can help you decide on the right size of air conditioning unit. A unit too small for your square footage won’t properly cool it; while a unit too large will not adequately remove humidity.

Wondering how an air conditioner works? Click here for an Energy Saver Infographic about home cooling.

Proper Installation Required

An HVAC specialist knows the right ductwork required for a specific make and model of central air conditioning; and where to locate that ductwork for best air movement throughout the house.

If your home already has an adequate furnace, a split-system unit might be recommended for air conditioning the whole house. Find a heating and cooling specialist who knows the specifications of the different systems, who can suggest the best options for your home.

You may have seen packaged air conditioner systems, where the entire unit is located outside the home. For those, it is important that they are located properly on a level surface, away from bushes or areas where leaves or debris can clog the unit’s airflow. The HVAC Technician will also make sure that refrigerant levels are proper and the entire system is operating correctly.

Regular Maintenance Required

Just as with other major systems in your home, you need to properly maintain your central air conditioning system. Some tasks are easy to check yourself, such as inspecting, cleaning or replacing the air filter or checking the thermostat settings. Other maintenance requires special tools or knowledge.

A regular maintenance plan with our HVAC team at Naugle Plumbing and Heating will ensure you have comfortable, cool living inside your home this summer. Call us to see what specials are available in central air conditioning for your home.

It could happen to anyone – a leaking pipe, malfunctioning washing machine, or natural disaster that requires you to shut water off to your home or condo. Often, the plumbing emergency is time-critical, and acting fast to shut off the water main can save hundreds of gallons of water in your monthly bill, and prevent flooding damage in your home.

Depending on your leak or problem, the time you spend looking for the shut-off valve can cause enough water to start flooding your home that would normally fill a bathtub, or more.

Handle Plumbing Emergencies Quickly

If a burst pipe is your plumbing emergency, calling for a plumbing repair service won’t stop the water fast enough, but you can prevent further damage while they arrive if you know how to locate your water shut-off valves.

Each home has a main shut-off valve. Depending on the size or construction of your home or condo, you may have local zones of water in different areas, which would also have different valves to lower or stop the water in that area. For instance, shutting off valves to the outside water faucets wouldn’t necessarily shut off water throughout the entire house.

Where is your water meter or pressure tank located? Chances are that the main shut-off valve is located near that. Otherwise, you can observe the piping in your basement if it’s visible, and locate connections leading to a main pipe. It may be a good idea to buy an extra set of channel locks or a pipe wrench that you keep right near the valve at all times. That way, you won’t spend additional time searching for the tool to shut down the water.

If you still aren’t sure where the main shut-off valve is located, sign up to receive our Home Check Up report, or call Tecumseh’s best plumbing service for an inspection of your home’s main operational systems.

Water Heater RepairWater heaters are something that we rely on daily, for a hot shower, long soothing bath, clean clothes and dishes, and more. But when your water heater stops working, you miss the convenience that you enjoyed throughout the day. Here are five warning signs that your water heater may need help.

Not enough hot water

Are you shortening your shower because the hot water doesn’t last as long? Even if you’re not lucky enough to get your shower before your teenager does, a hot water heater should normally provide enough hot water for at least two showers in a row.

There’s a monster down there

Do you hear boiling or rumbling sounds in the bottom of the water heater, or sounds like small pebbles rolling around? Chances are that you have a buildup that needs to be cleaned.

Relief valve leaking

If your relief valve has a constant drip to it, then it could be filled with mineral deposits that might block it off completely – potentially resulting in a water heater explosion.

Check the supply

Supply valves need to be operational and free from corrosion or rust. If these become blocked, you may notice a decrease in water available.

Is the water heater vented properly?

Water heater venting should be in good condition and attached securely, with no blockage. Blockage can cause improper operation and a loss of efficiency. And, if your water heater isn’t vented properly, there is a risk of carbon monoxide entering your home.

A home appliance that you rely on daily needs regular maintenance checks, just like the vehicle you drive. If you’d like to know how to check your home systems, sign up for our Home Check Up report, or call us for an inspection of your home’s main operational systems.