Friday, 20 April 2018

New Home Owner Suggestions

If you are in a new property and not familiar with the equipment in your home have us come out. We will check over the equipment, review it with you and explain a few things. Our people will be able to show you things you should be doing that you may not know about.

As a new home owner there is a list if the things you need to be familiar with and need to do to get the best performance from your home comfort equipment.

Replacing the filter in your furnace regularly is important. If the filters are dirty the furnace will not run efficiently and your air conditioner may not run at all. We can show you how to check and change your filters. This is an easy job that most home owners can do themselves.

Thermostats come in a wide range of vintages and styles. You need to know how your thermostat works, its features and limitations. In an older home it may even be beneficial to replace your thermostat. We find many people do not understand that with most thermostats, you need to switch between the heating program and the cooling program.

To maximize your comfort levels, you want to ensure that your humidifier is working properly and that you know how to use it. Optimal settings differ depending on the time of year. Your humidity levels within the home have a major impact on how you feel in the home.

You need to know how to shut down your air conditioner for the winter. While not difficult it is important to ensure this is done correctly to protect the unit and make sure it is functional in the spring.
Prior to temperatures getting cold you need to start up the furnace to ensure that it is running properly. The first chilly day is not a fun time to find out that your furnace needs service.

Optimal air conditioning and heating is dependent in part, on how your vents are set up. Most people do not understand the science behind airflow, and the experts at Salmons can review this with you.

Check the condition of your water heater. The age of the unit is one indicator of potential issues. The colour and temperature of the water that comes out of your tap can also indicate the status of your heater.

Make sure you know where the various shutoff valves are for the water lines inside and outside the house. If you should spring a leak every minute counts to minimize damage.

People sometimes will notice that something is a little different but, will ignore it, hoping it will correct itself. Quite often equipment will put off different warnings before it fails. Addressing warning signs early is the best practice. If you are not sure, give us a call.

Monday, 2 April 2018

Floor Drain Back-ups

There are signs that your sewer is beginning to block up. Here are things to watch for and actions to take to prevent a messy situation.
If you notice water backing up from your floor drain while doing laundry or after a heavy rain, you need to be concerned. The water will often drain away slowly and people will think the problem is solved. The reality is that the problem did not go away. It's an indication that the line is getting partially blocked and under a heavy load it cannot handle a large amount of water.
When the water has nowhere to go it will back up into your basement. When there is a heavy rain, newer homes in London, Ontario have sump pumps that the weeping tiles are connected to. If there is a backup in a newer home, it would probably show during laundry. 
In London, Ontario's older homes that do not have a sump pump, the weeping tile is more likely to be tied into the drain. In a heavy rain the water is trying to go down the sewer which is partially blocked, so then it backs up into the basement.
At Salmon Plumbing, we suggest if you notice issues, get us out to your home. We will get the sewer line cleaned out. With cameras we can tell what is going on and advise you if there is anything further that should be done. In most cases a sewer clean-out is all that is required. It is just a matter of getting it done. Some people need to get drains cleaned regularly if they live in an older part of London. 
Salmon Plumbing & Heating Drain Camera
Drain Camera

Ignoring the warning signs can lead to major problems. The damage that is caused by a backed up sewer can be very expensive, with flooring, drywall and family treasures being destroyed. Simple sewer maintenance is all it takes to prevent such an episode.

We have recorded answers to several common plumbing questions and put them on our website. To listen to plumbing questions and answers, click here

Salmon Plumbing & Heating, London, Ontario, Canada

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.

Friday, 2 March 2018

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.

Water Heater Life

Even with regular care, tank water heaters tend to require replacement at 12-15 years of age. Look for the date of manufacture on the tank. It will usually be on a sticker with other information about the tank. If you cannot find a date, normally with the manufacturer’s name and a serial number, Salmon Plumbing can help you determine the tank’s age.

Water heater life is highly dependent on usage. Every time the tank heats up, there is expansion and contraction that will eventually cause the tank to fail. A family of five can expect to replace their water heater sooner than a single person household.

Water quality, care, unit design and even the location in your home can impact the life of the unit.

There are many indicators that signal it is time for a replacement.

  1. Your hot water temperature is erratic. Hot water runs out quicker than normal.
  2. Signs of leaking around the base of the tank, indicative of internal cracking or corrosion.
  3. Banging, rumbling sounds. Calcium build up forms on the bottom of the tank over time, creating a hard crust that creates noise during use.
  4. Coloured hot water, emerging from any faucet. If this occurs only when you run hot water, it confirms the rust is inside the tank. Once corrosion begins inside the tank there is no stopping it.
  5. Your water is not as hot as it used to be. Sediment buildup reducing the effectiveness of heating coils or burners.
  6. Actual age of the unit. If the unit is over 12 years old, it is time to consider replacing it. You want to do this before you have a catastrophic fail.
  7. Unable to drain water from the tank via the drain valve. Sediment builds up over time inside the tank. If you are unable to drain the tank it indicates that the sediment has built up enough to plug the drain.

Since the corrosion starts from the inside, out of sight, a complete failure can occur without warning. If the unit is in a finished basement this can lead to substantial property damage. Installing a catchment tray under the tank can provide a warning of imminent leaks and may help to minimize the damage. Catchment trays are of limited value if they cannot be plumbed directly to a floor drain.

Replacing your water heater provides several benefits.

You can choose to increase or decrease your tank capacity depending on the changing needs of your family. A new tank will usually run more efficiently. If you need unlimited hot water without delays, you may want to even consider a tankless water heater.

If your water heater is rented, you may want to think about buying. Owning your own water heater will save you money over time versus renting the unit. Salmon Plumbing will install your new gas or electric water heater and dispose of your old unit. We have the experts to select the correct sized tank to meet your family’s needs.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Low Flush and Dual Flush Toilets

Low flush toilets are designed to reduce water consumption in your home. Toilets that are older than 20 years typically use 13 liters or more of water to flush.

The first generation of low flush toilets reduced that usage down to 6 liters per flush. Some low flush toilets only require 4.8 liters per flush. They were designed to meet tough standards in California to reduce water consumption.

If you are replacing an older toilet, you’d be reducing water consumption by 12,000+ liters per year! (That’s only 5 flushes per day.)

Manufacturers have also developed dual flush toilets. When you are getting rid of solids, the toilet will use about 6 liters per flush, otherwise it uses 3.8 liters per flush. Dual flush toilets will reduce your water usage even further than a single flush model.
Low Flush Toilet
Not all low flush toilets work well. There are a number of toilet manufacturers and each one makes numerous models. We’ve had several customers that have purchased a low flush toilet at a retail store. They got it home and found out it didn’t work that well. They go on to assume that all low flush toilets are no good.

At Salmon Plumbing, we’ve tested several models and have selected several that work well at a reasonable price. They also have the features people like.
We provide full service delivery and installation and we’ll get rid of your old toilet for you as well. If you have a problem with your new toilet, we guarantee our installation on top of the manufacturer’s warranty!

Salmon Plumbing's toilet warranty is in your home. If you purchase a toilet through a retailer you may need to return it to them for refund or replacement. This is inconvenient and costly if you are not able to remove and install the toilet yourself.

To see our selection of toilets, click here.

For answers to other common plumbing questions, click here.

Monday, 26 February 2018

Mild Weather and Melting Snow

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.

Friday, 9 February 2018

Frozen Pipes

While winters in London, Ontario are generally mild, we do endure nasty cold snaps. When temperatures get down to -15°C frozen pipes become a problem in many homes.

Based on decades of winter experience, Salmon Plumbing & Heating have a list of suggestions for home owners to prevent frozen pipes, which can split causing considerable damage to your home.

When the temperature dips below -10°C:

  1. Do not turn the heat down. Now is not the time to conserve energy.
  2. Expose your pipes to air. Often pipes that run through crawl spaces or are tucked inside of basement vanities. These areas tend to be much cooler than the rest of your home. Open these areas up to the warmth so that the water does not freeze in the lines. Also, be aware of any holes in the wall that allow frigid winter air to enter. We've seen frozen lines 10 feet inside of a house because of a small hole in a basement wall.
  3. Know how to shut off your water. If there is water showing up in the wrong place you need to know where the shutoff valve is and how to shut the water off quickly to limit the damage. Learn about shutoffs at by clicking here.
  4. Do Not ignore water that is not running properly. If a tap goes from running like a charm to trickling or nothing it probably means the line is frozen somewhere. If you react quickly you may be able to prevent the line from bursting. Get warm air on the pipes as soon as you can.
  5. Pipes that run along exterior walls are extremely vulnerable. Good plumbing practice is to run lines near the centre of the house. Unfortunately, re-modelled homes often have lines running through exterior walls, which creates a potential problem.
  6. Shut off and drain your supply lines for your outdoor taps in the fall. These are a common source of problems when the temperature drops.
  7. Plastic Plumbing. Many newer and renovated homes have plastic rather than copper lines. When plastic freezes it is much less likely to burst. Unfortunately, if the plastic line does freeze you cannot apply electricity to thaw the line (as you can with copper) and you may have to pry off wall panels or ceiling tiles to get to the source of the problem.
  8. Shut off your water when you are on vacation and have somebody check your home every few days.

Thursday, 1 February 2018

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.

Friday, 26 January 2018

Belt-Drive Furnace Fans

If you have a forced air furnace that is more than 30 years old, chances are that it has a belt driven fan. There is a large fan that is joined to an electric motor with a fan belt, much like you would see in a car.

Many modern high efficiency gas furnaces use a direct drive fan with an ECM (Electronically Commutated Motor). These motors use a fraction of the electricity needed to power an older belt drive system. Many new furnaces also have variable speeds for the furnace fan. This also saves energy because your fan runs slower when it's not as cold outside and you do not require as much heat.

Modern homes also rely on the furnace fan to move cool air produced by your air conditioner, in the summer months. Modern ECM's will move more air, more efficiently, which leads to improved air conditioner performance.

Older belt drive, chimney vented furnaces are only about 60% efficient. Many new high efficiency furnaces will be 95% efficient or greater. There's a big saving on your gas bill. The ECM also creates a big saving on your hydro bill.

In addition to the energy savings, you'll experience a big improvement in home comfort. Many people are surprised when their new furnace actually keeps them more comfortable during the cooling season. This is especially true in two storey homes. The upper floor will always be warmer than the lower floor in the summer months. A new furnace will move more air, doing a better job of balancing the temperature of your home. In addition, with the ECM motor, if you decide to run your fan continuously to help minimize the temperate difference between the floors in your home the cost for the hydro to run the fan will be significantly less ( up to 80% less).

What are the Energy Savings?

This varies depending on the age and size of your home. We can tell you for sure that if you have an older chimney vented furnace with a belt drive fan, a new furnace will pay for itself.

It costs nothing to have Salmon Plumbing & Heating come out to your home and access your home comfort system. We have financing programs in place so you can purchase your new equipment with low monthly payments. Your energy savings will offset some or all of these payments, depending on the age of your current furnace.

A new furnace can pay for itself. Click here to see our website page.

Boilers Explained

Heating using a boiler system has been in use for a long time and while not well known it is becoming increasingly popular again, with in-floor heating, as people find out about its' benefits.

Traditional furnaces heat air that is pushed through ductwork with a fan. A boiler heats water and distributes the hot water through piping to radiators throughout the house. Modern radiators now look more like electric heaters. New homes with in-floor heating generally use a boiler, but for small areas the water heater may be the source of heat. This type of heating is known as hydronic heating. There is no duct work in this system, although a hot water coil can be installed in a duct system, which is used to distribute heat throughout the building.

A boiler system is a very efficient way to heat a building, so in the past larger buildings such as airports and schools used hot water heating. It is very comfortable, providing nice even heat throughout the building.

The temperate does not rise and fall quickly like it will with a forced air furnace. There are more gradual temperature changes with hot water heating. Once the boiler turns off, heat is still emanating from the radiators. People who have hydronic heating are quite pleased with it.

One downside is the complications involved in adding other options to this system. Cooling, humidification and air quality need to be provided by other equipment. Boilers are a little more expensive than furnaces, but historically they last longer than a furnace.

We sometimes get calls to do furnace repairs and arrive to discover that the customer has a boiler. When people buy a home with a boiler, they sometimes think that they'll need to replace it with a standard furnace.

We try to do our job educating people about what their options are. We suggest they run their boiler through the winter and experience its' performance. For cooling, we can easily install a ductless split system to cool the space.

We would prefer a boiler system in many cases, but most new homes do not come that way. The best time to install a boiler system is during the initial build. In general, a forced air system goes into new housing because it is less expensive to install. Custom homes on the other hand are installing in-floor heating systems. It is an extremely comfortable way to heat a home. The Salmon Plumbing shop on Clarke Road is heated by a boiler system with in-floor heat and we have a separate system for cooling the offices and adding fresh air to the building.

If you have a boiler system and need repairs done, Salmon Plumbing & Heating has a lot of expertise in this area. When we get a service call, it is important for us to know that it is a boiler. You need to work on boilers to know them and not everyone has that level of experience. At Salmon Plumbing & Heating, we employ specialized technicians that have extensive experience with boilers.

For more answers to common boiler questions, click here.

For information on new boilers sold by Salmon Plumbing & Heating in London, Ontario, click here.

Monday, 15 January 2018

Carbon Monoxide and Gas Smells

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is colourless and odorless in its pure chemical state.

Some people may think that if they smell something from a gas appliance, that there is no danger from carbon monoxide. The reality is far different. When CO is being produced by an improperly vented appliance there will be other smells.

People need to be aware that if they are smelling something coming from their, furnace, boiler, hot water heater, gas fireplace or whatever there is a very real danger.

To keep your family safe from Carbon Monoxide poisoning, take the following two important steps:

  1. Invest in CO detectors. You should have them installed in every level of your home and near sleeping areas.
  2. Don’t skip on annual maintenance for your gas furnace or gas boiler. When we visit your home, in addition to servicing your equipment, we check for CO levels. A furnace can produce unsafe levels of CO in your home if it is not properly vented or if a heat exchanger has cracked. This is not something most homeowners are going to find on their own.

If you notice unusual smells around any gas appliance, play it safe and call a professional.

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.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Carbon Monoxide Detectors are Now Mandatory

As of October, 2014 CO Detectors (Carbon Monoxide Detectors) are mandatory in all residential homes. Carbon Monoxide can kill you. It is created when fuels are not properly burned. Common fuels around the home that can produce carbon monoxide include:

  • Natural Gas
  • Propane
  • Heating Oil, Wood, Coal, Kerosene, Charcoal, Gasoline

Anything that burns fuel can produce carbon monoxide if it is not running properly or not vented properly. Common household appliances that can produce carbon monoxide are:

  • Natural Gas Furnaces
  • Natural Gas Boilers
  • Natural Gas Hot Water Heaters
  • Fireplaces, Wood Stoves, Barbecues, Kerosene Heaters, Gasoline Engines

The CO Detector should be placed inside or near primary sleeping areas. You should have a detector installed on each level of your home. CO Detectors are available from your local hardware store. They are easily installed by homeowners. Normally a CO Detector needs to be replaced every 10 years. Batteries in CO Detectors should be replaced annually.

The following is a list of physical and environmental indications of Carbon Monoxide:

  • Headache, nausea, burning eyes, fainting, confusion, drowsiness that will improve when you have left the house for a period of time.
  • People with heart or respiratory conditions, the elderly and children are particularly sensitive to carbon monoxide.
  • The air in the home feels stale or stuffy.
  • Strong smell of gas when furnace or other fuel burning appliance turns on.
  • Pilot light and burning flames are yellow/orange, not blue.
  • Pilot lights go out.
  • Chalky white powder or soot around exhaust vent or chimney.

For more information on Carbon Monoxide, we'd recommend visiting the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs page.

Annual furnace maintenance by a licensed contractor is important to protect your family from carbon monoxide poisoning. Improper furnace venting or a failed heat exchanger can cause elevated CO levels in a home. Salmon Plumbing & Heating technicians check CO levels when we service your furnace. If our technicians find elevated CO levels, they are trained to identify the source and will take immediate steps to protect your family.

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.