Hy-Mark had some special guests today…and they came hungry! Hy-Mark was a stop on “Residential Construction Day,” a field trip for Grade 12 students to gain an understanding of life in the residential construction industry and the skilled trades. Thirty-five construction students from the Upper Grand District School Board enjoyed one of our famous Hy-Mark […]
Nothing beats curling up in front of a cozy fire on a cold winter night. If you are considering adding a fireplace to your home, the first thing to decide is whether to go with a gas or electric model. Here is our breakdown of how the types compare.
Gas: Requires a gas line to the house and must have room to cut a vent to outside of home (usually means being located on exterior wall).
Electric: Simply plugs into an electrical outlet like any other appliance. These can be wall mounted or housed in display units.
Cost to Install and Operate
Gas: The price with standard installation ranges from $2,750 to $5,000. The cost to run is about 20 cents to 40 cents per hour, depending on the size of the unit.
Electric: These start around $500, and go as high as $1,200 for higher end models. Operation costs roughly 0.3 to 3 cents per hour, without heat, and about 16 cents per hour with heat on 100% of the time.
Value to Your Home
Gas: According to surveys, 40% of homebuyers say they would pay more for a home with a gas fireplace, and home’s value could increase by about 12% for each fireplace.
Electric: With little to no investment in installation, an electric fireplace will not add much value to your home. However, if you move you can take it with you to your new home.
Gas: Can provide 25,000 – 30,000 BTUs of heat. Great for heating larger areas or even a whole home, up to 2,000 square feet.
Electric: Can provide 3,000 – 9,000 BTUs. This will effectively heat one room, up to 400 square feet. The artificial flame can also run when the heater is turned off, lending ambiance even when you do not wish for heat.
Gas: Only 70% to 80% efficient due to heat lost through venting.
Electric: 100% efficient.
Gas: Glass pane and housing may get hot enough to burn skin if touched during operation.
Electric: Glass pane temperature will not get warm enough to burn.
What It All Adds Up To:
Gas fireplaces are good for those willing to spend more for a bigger return – in heating ability and home value.
Electric fireplaces will do the trick nicely for smaller spaces or when heating is less important than style, and will save you plenty in upfront and operation costs.
Want a quote on your future gas or electric fireplace? Call Hy-Mark today at 1-800-727-0750.
Contributing Source: Stylish Fireplaces
Maybe this situation has happened to you, or will one day occur: you are planning some plumbing renovations in your home and get a quote on the scope of work from a plumbing company. When you see the part versus labour breakdown, you decide to shop around and see if you can find the fixture for cheaper. You hop online and do a quick Google search and find the part around 30% cheaper at one of the big box home hardware stores. Great! You’ve just saved some money by doing a quick price comparison online, right?
Actually the truth is, it’s smarter to buy fixtures through your plumbing company. You may spend a little more upfront, but not as much as you think. Plus the protection you will get from damage will make it worth it. Let’s break down why…
The Big Box Catch-22
Big box stores almost always sell a cheaper line of products than you would get from a plumbing supply company or even directly from the manufacturer. This is because these large retail chains want to keep their prices low, and sell in quantities high enough that manufacturers will actually make custom products exclusively for their stores.
Here’s the part that misleads customers – these models sometimes look identical to those from plumbing supply stores (where your plumber shops), and yet have lower quality internal parts. Generally this means plastic instead of metal. The outcome? The products from big box stores wear out much sooner, and you’ll be looking at replacement plus more labour costs. Plus the big box stores often don’t sell internal parts separately.
Now is when you might be thinking, “Ok, but can those higher quality versions myself at a plumbing supply store?”
The Deal With Plumbing Supply Stores
Yes, you can shop at some plumbing supply stores and showrooms (some are not open to the public), but you will pay more than a plumbing company or contractor would. This is because these businesses have accounts that get them discounts. The same goes with purchasing direct from manufacturers’ websites.
And here’s an additional important point to remember: if a product were to be defective and needed to be replaced under warranty, standard practice is that a plumber/contractor would not handle this for purchases he/she had not made for you.
Breaking Down Warranties
This might seem odd, since we are talking about a manufacturer’s warranty coverage. However the reason is if a company did not supply or recommend the part, they cannot be reasonably held responsible for its performance and the cost of seeking out a warranty exchange, particularly as it could be with a company this company has no relationship with and that is difficult to contact.
So, how long will you have warranty coverage if you buy everything through your plumber? While we can’t speak for all companies, Hy-Mark offers the first year after installation of labour coverage, and the first 2 years of parts coverage on our retrofit jobs. The nice thing is if you purchase your parts through your plumber, not only will you have replacement coverage for those 2 years, you will also have coverage of any damage that could result from a part failure. If you purchase your own fixtures, this may not apply if it’s determined the item was defective.
In the End
In the end, we recommend investing wisely in your plumbing fixtures in order to save yourself money and hassle. You may save a bit up front buying from big box retailers, but you get what you pay for. If you allow the same plumbing company you are entrusting to do work in your home to purchase your parts for you, you will likely get higher quality and performance from those products, plus warranties that offer you peace of mind.
Want a quote on your plumbing job? Give us a call at 1-800-727-0750.
- Close your basement vents
Since cold air settles in low places, you will want to adjust your home’s vents for the summer months. Your basement will naturally be the coolest place in the house, so close your vents in this area to prevent over-cooling. Leave them half open on the first floor, and wide open on the second or third floors. This will ensure enough cooled air makes it up to the higher levels of your home, giving you an even and comfortable temperature throughout your home.
- Use a thin air filter in your furnace
Cooled air still utilizes the fan in your furnace to be distributed throughout your home, and since cool air doesn`t rise like warm air it has difficulty traveling through your venting. To make it easier, make sure you only use a half or 1 inch filter in your furnace for the summer. If you use a thicker air filter (high MERV value) in the heating season, simply replace with a thin one for the cooling season.
- Leave space around your air conditioner
If your cooling system has an outdoor air condenser or heat pump, make sure to leave at least a one foot perimeter of clear space around it. Crowding the unit with bushes, plants, or clutter will impede air intake.
- Get an A/C maintenance
Just like your car requires regular oil changes, air conditioners need some basic care to last long-term. Manufacturers recommend having a professional maintenance by an HVAC technician annually. At this visit the tech will check for efficiency and good function of your air conditioner, making sure there are no issues like leaky refrigerant lines, dirty or corroded materials, or failing electronics. This is your opportunity for small problems to be detected before they lead to big repairs or total system failure. It can also be required to keep some warranties valid, as well.
- Keep the sun out
Direct sunlight can be your biggest cause of heat gain throughout the day, and an overheated home means your air conditioner has to work harder. Make sure you have blinds or curtains on the sides of the house that get the most sun, and close them during the day to stop the sun excessively heating those rooms. You may even want to plant trees to create a sun barrier that lasts long-term. Conversely, take advantage on cool nights and open the shades. Even if a window doesn’t open, there will be some transfer of cool temperature outside through the glass. This is especially true for older homes with less sophisticated or single pane windows.
If you’ve tried all of these steps and your air conditioner still can’t keep up it is time to think about getting a new unit. Signs include an A/C that is constantly running on a high setting or large energy bills. Give us a call for a free home comfort consultation and quote.
Over the weekend Hy-Mark participated in the Project Hope build organized by Doug Tarry Homes. This charity event saw an entire home built in less than 3 days! Proceeds of the sale of the home will benefit the surviving family of St. Thomas native Johnny Nooren, who passed away leaving behind his wife and two young children.
Beginning Friday June 9th and culminating Sunday June 11th before noon, the home took shape and was completed in only 39 working hours. Remarkably, site supervisors said that due to smooth coordination the home could even have been completed in only 2 days. Site supervisors and our own Hy-Mark team were amazed at the level of cooperation among all site tradespeople. This was especially apparent on Friday when there were literally hundreds of tradespeople and volunteers on site.
Despite high weekend temperatures and humidity, Hy-Mark team members – mostly from our London Division – worked 11 straight hours in a 35 degree basement to install the home’s HVAC system. Even with the heat nobody “lost their cool,” and the team was even able to start up cooling in the home a day ahead of schedule.
This is a great example of the dedication and work ethic our team members show. A special thanks to all who donated their time this weekend for this good cause!
To learn more about Project Hope and view more photos and video from the build, visit the Doug Tarry Homes Facebook page.
Air conditioner getting up there in age, and not performing as well as it used to? The big decision is always to keep making repairs or replace. But how do you know when it’s time? Here are five ways to tell for sure if it’s time for a new unit.
Not Enough Cooling Power
Do you constantly have the air blasting on high, yet you’re still not comfortable? If your air conditioner is always working hard – but hardly working – it may be time to look for another. The problem could be that your current unit is undersized for your home, or that it is running inefficiently due to old age. Either way, you are losing money as it sucks energy while producing bad results. A new, correctly sized unit will cool your home at a regular setting, as well as cycle through efficiency stages rather than run constantly.
Uneven, Inconsistent Cooling
This is part and parcel with not having enough cooling power. While it’s normal for rooms that get more sun exposure or are higher in the home to be a degree warmer than darker or lower rooms, your air conditioner should be able to provide even, cool comfort throughout the whole home. A large variance in temperature means your air conditioner isn’t strong enough.
High Energy Bills
In Ontario we are already battling high hydro costs, but if your air conditioner is running inefficiently these costs will balloon even higher. If you noticed an increase in your bills last summer, or if the cost is just above what you are comfortable spending, it may be time for a new A/C. Not only will a factory new unit run better than an old one, technology improvements have allowed newer models to consume less energy.
Like with any appliance or machine, frequent repairs are a bad sign. With air conditioners the most common sign that the unit is not up to par is a frequent loss of coolant. If you are having to refill your unit with coolant every summer, there is likely a leak somewhere. These can be expensive to fix, so if your unit is over 10 years it’s probably worth investing in new equipment.
Remember – problems can be detected early by getting annual maintenance visits. They are necessary to keep your air conditioner running smoothly, and can also be required to keep warranties valid.
Signs of Wear
If you’ve noticed any burning smells, fluids leaking from the lines, loud noises, or visible deterioration on the unit, these signs point towards a breakdown coming. Emergency replacements never happen at a good time, so be proactive and consider a replacement before you are without cooling on a scorching long weekend!
To get a free visit and quote on a new air conditioner from a Comfort Advisor, give us a call. Remember we have financing and renting options too, so you don’t have to put your comfort on hold.
1. You’ve spent thousands of dollars on the perfect bathroom – why ruin the aesthetic with ugly plastic bottles?
Instead, try putting mouthwash in an elegant glass bottle from the kitchenware section of any home goods store. Attach a rubber lined spout on top for easy, one handed pouring. Some small, nicely detailed disposable cups are a nice touch, especially for guests.
2. A display of clean bath towels can add a sense of luxury and comfort.
A wine rack display can stow towels tightly in small areas, with the added benefit of making them easy to find for guests. (Do you really want your guests going through cabinets of old shampoo bottles and prescriptions?) You can also find them in a variety of colours, and in free standing and wall hanging designs.
3. Stick to a “cool” colour scheme.
Which of these bathrooms looks better? To most people, the white and blue colouration (cool colours) in the second photo make it appear cleaner and brighter. Though warm tones like yellow or light browns are cozy in kitchens and living rooms, they are also similar to the colour of dirt and water stains…yuck. Using these colours in your bathroom could give the appearance of age and tarnish. Off whites, yellows, reds and browns can also give a retro look. High contrast white and dark wood settings are a much more modern look, and are the popular contemporary design choice.
4. Save counter top space with a beautiful tiered tray.
Inspiration comes again from the kitchen, this time from dessert trays. One design element often forgotten is use of depth and height. Whether glass, wood or another material these trays add dynamism to your vanity top. It’s also a way to save valuable space. So get those bottles off your counter top!
5. Add a rustic display element.
A weathered wooden accent piece is perfect for adding some country charm and comfort. You can find antique ladders like this at many flea markets and antique stores. Or why not make on yourself from new or reclaimed wood?
6. Add glitz with mirrored surfaces.
Mirrors are fantastic for brightening up spaces and making rooms appear larger. This shabby chic white trimmed mirror lays a perfect setting for a display of white candlesticks and pillar candles. Dim the lights and add bubble bath for a super relaxing bath experience.
7. Add statement light switch frames.
True design magic is in the small details, and here’s one that will quickly add a touch of style. Use a subtle ribbed frame fitted tightly to the size of the light switch cover. Ensure there is no gap of space between the frame and the plastic cover. With the right size, the cover should hold the frame by the inner lip with no additional supports.
Planning a bathroom renovation? We can help! Call us at 1-800-727-0750 to speak to a Comfort Advisor.
All image sources here.
Most people will only pick out a replacement water heater roughly every 10 years. Even if you’ve done it before, with technology changing and more options becoming available, you will have new things to consider if you are entering the market today.
Let’s take a look at the determining factors and break down your options:
Hot Water Delivery
No one wants to run out of hot water in the middle of a shower. But with a traditional storage tank water heater, that’s a possibility. These heaters can only heat what they can hold, so if you run through your whole tank’s capacity, you’ll be waiting while it refills and heats up more water.
If you’re not willing to risk running out of hot water for bathing, dishes and laundry, you might consider tankless water heaters. These models heat your water as needed, so you won’t risk gaps of lukewarm water while a reservoir is being heated.
The good news is that despite a lot of misinformation out there, a tankless water heater can provide a similar flow rate to a traditional tank. This is because no matter what kind of water heater you have, the pipes carrying heated water from it are now different.
Did you know your water heater is the second most energy consuming appliance in your home? Water heating currently accounts for almost 20% of the average household’s energy usage, second only to the cost of space heating.
As Hydro costs balloon in Ontario, electric options are becoming less and less attractive next to natural gas. Gas fueled models have a much higher initial cost (roughly 2-3X as much), but even so you will save money in the long run on operation costs, not to mention saving the environment some wear and tear. Of course energy costs can always fluctuate – things may look very different in 5 or 10 years. The best things you can do are stay informed of energy trends, and buy the most efficient equipment you can. (Our John Wood Envirosense® is one of the most energy efficient water heaters on the market.)
One way to keep operation costs as low as possible is by making sure you have the correct sized heater (if you go with a tank model). You don’t want a tank that is too small or too big. This chart has approximate sizing for gas fueled and electric tanks.
Another thing to keep in mind is whether your lifestyle creates low, average, or high water consumption, and is it concentrated within short time frames or spread throughout the day? For most people, hot water is used in the morning and evening. Remember that a tank is being heated all day and all night, even when you will not be running any water. A tankless only heats water on demand, when you need it.
Tank water heaters generally are expected to last 8-12 years, whereas tankless water heater lifespans are closer to 20+ years. However, how long a water heater lasts depends greatly on its use, care and environment.
The most common environmental factor to affect water heaters is water with a high mineral content, such as that in much of Southwestern Ontario (you’ll notice Kitchener has the highest hardness on this whole list). Though not an issue for tankless models, hard water can leave scale build up in a tank, reducing efficiency and leading to break down over time.
You can combat this problem by caring for your equipment by installing a water softener. Softened water is much gentler on your water heater, as well as your fixtures and pipes. You should also have a water heater maintenance where the tank is fully drained semi-regularly.
A decision between tankless and tank models will sometimes be made for you based on the amount of available space. Tankless models are significantly smaller than tanks, so can be placed in much tighter areas.
Installation and placement code requirements will affect venting type. The breakdown of most common vent types is: direct, conventional, and power vented. These distinctions have to do with the tank’s proximity to chimneys or outside vents and the best method to move and clear exhaust outside the home. Power vents have an electric fan that can push exhaust a farther distance than a conventional vent can. Direct vented heaters draw air from outside the home whereas conventional draws from inside. Your home will require an inspection by a trained technician to determine which vent type is appropriate.
Cost to Repair
One reason that tankless water heaters last so long is they don’t deal with the burden of standing water. No matter how pure your water, over time it has corrosive properties on metal and electronics. Gas valve and sacrificial anodes are typical parts that need to be replaced within the lifespan of a tank water heater. And concerning manufacturer warranty periods, tanks usually have 5 year warranty on the gas valves, and 8 years’ coverage on the tank body. For a tankless, the heat exchanger (the main component of the unit) usually has warranty coverage of 15 years.
These are all factors to keep in mind when choosing a new water heater. For more information our Comfort Advisors are happy to assist. We offer free in-home consultations and quotes.
Reverse osmosis systems are great for people who want the cleanest, purest drinking water possible. A reverse osmosis (R.O.) reduces any harmful contaminants, as well as unwanted tastes and odours. But how do you know whether an R.O. is right for your situation?
How They Work
An R.O. works by using pressure to push water through a filter membrane. When water gets filtered through this main membrane, as well as through any additional filters added, impurities are trapped and flushed down the drain. This leaves the water coming from your tap purified and safe for drinking.
Who Needs One And What Are The Benefits?
An R.O.’s benefits are clearest for people who want the highest caliber drinking water possible. Since R.O.s also filter compounds that give water a bad odour or taste, many people prefer the filtered taste of the water. In addition, this means purer and more flavourful coffee, tea, juice, soups and sauces in the kitchen, as well as clearer ice cubes.
A more serious benefit of reverse osmosis systems is protection from harmful materials that could be in drinking water. If there are any doubts about your water’s safety, an R.O. is a great option for safeguarding against many common water contaminants, such as:
- Poisonous materials like lead, arsenic, nitrates, radium, copper and pesticides
- Bad tasting or smelling dissolved solids
- Micro-organisms and parasites
- Municipal water additives like fluoride and chlorine
An R.O. is also the more environmentally-friendly, and cheaper alternative to buying bottled water. They don’t create hordes of plastic waste that will end up in landfills. Also, bottled water companies buy up public water resources and sell them at an extreme mark up. Equipping yourself with an R.O. means you don’t have to support private water retailers, and can get water for pennies rather than dollars per litre.
Who Doesn’t Need an R.O.
If you are happy with the taste and smell of your water, and you’re not concerned about harmful contaminants you probably do not need an R.O. People have different preferences when it comes to their water, and some prefer a more mineralised taste which the R.O. would filter out. And since humans need to consume certain minerals for our health, it is worth researching amounts needed and alternative ways to make sure your diet still contains sufficient levels. Also, those who are looking to cut down on water usage will be not see a decrease with an R.O., as the filtration process requires additional water. However, most people do not see a concerning hike in their water bills.
The Final Word
An R.O. is a great option if you have any doubts about your water’s safety or just prefer the demineralized great taste of filtered water.
To re-summarize the benefits:
- Results in great-tasting water, drinks and foods
- Reduction of harmful or simply unwanted dissolved solids in water
- More sustainable, cheaper, and a permanent solution compared to buying bottled water
- Chemical free
- Automated and easy to maintain
If you think you might be interested in a reverse osmosis system, call us (1 800 727 0750) for a free water test and in-home consultation. To view the Greenway Technologies reverse osmosis system product line supplied by Hy-Mark, click here.
If you live in the Guelph, Cambridge or Kitchener-Waterloo area, here are some events this December for you and the family to get in the holiday spirit.
December 17th – 31st, nightly 5:30 PM – 9:30 PM at Riverside Park
Take in the natural beauty of snow covered trees and fields lit up with twinkling lights and holiday displays. Fill up your thermos with hot cocoa and drive through at your own pace and stay toasty in your car while you gaze. Or, park and take your group venturing out by foot. Find the perfect display for your family Christmas card photo…will it be at the “Candy Factory” stand?
Parking is FREE.
New Year’s Eve will be celebrated in traditional Sparkles fashion with a fireworks display at 8:00 PM.
December 21st, 4:00 PM – 8:00 PM at Market Square, 1 Carden St.
You can actually *enjoy* the holiday bustle by avoiding the malls and big box stores to take in some small community charm. Head downtown and pick out one-of-a-kind pieces from the 80+ local venders, all with a festive background of live Christmas music and singing. There will be free hot chocolate and ice skating too. Now that’s a great last minute shopping experience!
Christmas tree lighting with Mayor Cam Guthrie at 6:30 PM.
December 23rd, 7:30 PM at River Run Centre, 35 Woolwich St.
If you’ve never seen the Nutcracker, this should be year you change that. It may just become a part of your Christmas tradition. This year the play is available locally and will be performed by Canada’s Ballet Jörgen. This performance offers a uniquely Canadian spin on the classic, featuring set design inspired by the famous Group of Seven landscape artists. Enjoy the meeting of heritage and festive tradition in a performance staged to inspire and delight.
Ticket Price Ranges
Adult $46-70 Student $30-70 Senior $43-70
December 23rd and 24th, 7:00 PM at Highview Community Church, 295 Highview Dr.
It’s true at the holidays that All You Need is Love. Enjoy original “Beatleized” Christmas carols and songs that will make everyone Come Together. There could hardly be two more universally loved things than Christmas and the Beatles, and what better way to prove it than to the sweet music they make combined? Don’t miss this.
This concert is FREE. Donations will be accepted to Supportive Housing of Waterloo.
December 31st, 6:00 PM – Midnight
Kitchener is translating Comicon for younger ages this year with “Toycon.” This celebration of all things superheroes will feature comic and toy vendors, retro arcade games, craft stations and more! Skating, live music and hot chocolate bring some more festive fun. Popular superheroes (and maybe some villains) will be there for photos, and your little ones are invited to come in costume too.
This event is FREE.
December 16th, 7:30 PM at Forward Church, 455 Myers Rd.
You can enjoy this classic even at a lower price point. In its 10th year, tickets to this performance are a steal at only $15.00/each, so bring the whole family. Live music will be performed by Cambridge Symphony Orchestra and the dancers hail from a local dance studio.
7:00 PM pre-show performance by the Cambridge Youth Orchestra.
December 31st, 5:00 – 8:00 PM at Cambridge Memorial Arena, 640 Ellis Rd. West
Ice time for the whole family will be free for up to one hour. Off ice fun activities will keep the little ones entertained too, including a magic show.
This event is FREE.