Wednesday, 13 December 2017

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 may start up or you may need to turn the power off and on to reset the control.

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

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

What to Think About When Buying a New Furnace

There are several reasons you may be in the market for a new furnace:

  • A large estimate to repair your current furnace.
  • Your existing furnace is not energy efficient and a new furnace will actually save you money.
  • Your existing furnace has had a critical failure, like a cracked heat exchanger.
  • To improve your home’s comfort.

Whatever the reason, a new furnace is a large investment in a piece of equipment that you will have for 15 to 20 years.

Home owners are likely to look at the price, manufacturer and warranty when making their decision. An equally important consideration is the contractor that will be installing your equipment. Here are a few considerations:

  • Will they stand behind the product after it is installed?
  • Do they service the product themselves, or do they contract service to somebody else?
  • Is there somebody local you can talk to if you have a problem?
  • Do they employ licensed tradesmen? A proper installation requires electrical work, a gas fitter and custom sheet metal work.

Modern furnaces are complex pieces of equipment. A furnace needs to sized, for your home. Once it is installed, it needs to be set up properly to ensure your safety and comfort. Finally, a good contractor will show you how to operate your new furnace to give you the best performance.

Home owners can do many things themselves to keep their system running smoothly including:

  • Changing furnace filters
  • Adjusting your humidifier for summer and winter
  • Keeping fresh batteries in your thermostat
  • Making sure that heating vents and cold air returns are not obstructed
  • Keeping air intakes and exhaust vents clear of snow and debris

A good contractor will show you how to do all of this after installation. All new furnaces require an annual maintenance check-up. Annual maintenance is important to:

  • Keep your manufacturer’s warranty in place.
  • Extend the life of your equipment
  • Keep your equipment operating safely and efficiently

It only makes sense to have an installation contractor that’s familiar with your equipment and can help you resolve any warranty issues. A good contractor will call to remind you to get your equipment maintained every year.

There are many ways to make sure you are dealing with a reputable contractor, including:

If you are thinking of a new furnace, Salmon Plumbing & Heating provides a free no-obligation visit to your home. We’ll take a look at your old furnace and recommend a brand and model that will best meet your needs. If you would like to finance your furnace, we can also help you set up an affordable payment plan.

Just call (519) 451-8910.

Rebates from the government on new energy efficient equipment are designed to help homeowners move into new equipment. We’ll explain all the programs that are currently available and help you with the paperwork.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Humidity and Humidifier Tips

An important part of keeping your home comfortable in the winter is humidity. Either too much or too little humidity comes with a set of problems that can have minor and even major implications.

Relative humidity is a measure of how much moisture is in the air. It is expressed as a percentage. The ideal range for home comfort is normally anywhere from 40% to 50% relative humidity.

During the winter we heat air which then expands. Imagine that it is 0°C outside and the relative humidity outside is 40%. Your furnace heats the air to 20°C. The air expands when heated, but the amount of moisture in the air is unchanged. Your heated indoor air will now have a relative humidity quite a bit lower than 40%.

Air that is too dry can lead to drier skin. When you sleep you’ll likely wake up with a dry throat and nose. Dry air also leads to more static electricity. Wooden floors can crack or spread open at the gaps. Furniture can also crack or loosen at the joints.

Recommended humidity levels can also save you money on your heating bill. If your home is 20°C with 40% relative humidity, you’ll likely be quite comfortable. If the air is drier, you’ll feel cooler and will be reaching for the thermostat to increase the temperature.

A properly operating humidifier installed on your furnace will correct these problems. In the fall when you shut down your air conditioner, turn your humidifier on. Set the humidistat at 40%. The humidifier will automatically work to add moisture to the air in your home as required. Be sure the water to the humidifier is turned on and the bypass damper is open. Depending on the type of humidifier you should install a new pad or panel. For the old drum style humidifier clean the water tray.

Household activities also can add moisture to the air. Taking a shower or cooking can add quite a bit of humidity. Even plants and fish tanks will add humidity to your home.

Newer homes that are quite air tight may require dehumidification in parts of the heating season. This is accomplished with an HRV (Heat Recovery Ventilator). During the coldest winter days almost every home in London, Ontario will require humidification.

Older homes tend to be leakier. More outside air infiltrates into the house and the furnace tends to run more. A properly operating humidifier is very important for your comfort in an older home.

Salmon Plumbing & Heating checks your humidifier when we do your annual furnace maintenance. There are pads on your humidifier that may have to be changed. If your humidifier is not working, we can normally repair it. Like any piece of equipment, it may have to be eventually replaced. There are several types of new replacement humidifiers and you’ll want an HVAC professional to help you select the one that’s right for your home and lifestyle. You’ll also want a professional to install your new humidifier.

Our licensed professionals are happy to show you how to properly operate your humidifier or any of your home comfort equipment when performing a maintenance service or even when completing a service repair.

Finally, in the spring when you are getting your air conditioner ready for the warm weather, don’t forget to turn your humidifier off. There is normally an air flow damper that you close or switch over to the summer setting. In London’s climate, your air conditioner will dehumidify the air in the summer months.