How To Choose A Water Heater

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 image of water heater product linewhole 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.

Energy Efficiency

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 water heater sizing chartis 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.

Hy-Mark also offers affordable rental options as well as financing for buyouts in all models and sizes of water heater. To learn more call us at 1 800 727 0750 today.

Does My Drinking Water Need Reverse Osmosis?

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

7 Holiday Activities Happening Locally Between Now and New Year’s

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.


Sparkles in the Parkimage of Christmas lights in a tree

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.

Merrymaking at the Market

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.


The NutcrackerImage of Nutcracker dancers

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

Let it be Christmas

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.

Image of super heroesNYE Toycon for Kids

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.



The Nutcracker

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.

New Year’s Eve Free Skating

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.

The Big List of Tips to Lower Your Heat Bill

In winter, the sound of the furnace working can sound a lot like money falling out of your pocket.  Feel confident your heating system is working efficiently with these tips on preserving heat and spending less on your utilities bill.


  1. Upgrade your thermostat

Upgrade to a programmable or smart thermostat that automatically lowers the temperature at night or when you’re away from home. And if you’ve heard it takes more energy to heat the house back up than you save by keeping the heat down – that’s a myth. You will save energy and money.

image of sun coming through window in wintertime

Courtesy of Flickr

2. Use the sun to your advantage

Harness natural solar energy by keeping the curtains open during the day, particularly in south facing rooms. But make sure to close them at night to reduce heat loss through windows.

3. Minimize use of kitchen and bathroom fans

While they suck out odours and moisture from rooms, they also suck out that expensive heated air! Run them briefly when you need them, and then shut them off.

4. Seal any leaks in ductwork

Your ductwork distributes conditioned air throughout the house the way a bloodstream delivers blood to every party of the body. But according to an Energy Star efficiency report, in a typical home about 20-30% of the air that moves through the duct system is lost due to leaks, holes, and poorly connected ducts. Signs of underperforming ducts are high utility bills and rooms that are consistently hard to keep cool or warm, depending on the season.

image of installed Lennox furnace

Lennox Elite Furnace with Healthy Climate Air Cleaner. Courtesy of Flickr

If you are going to repair duct leaks, make sure to use mastic sealant or metal tape. Do not use duct tape, as it is not a long-lasting solution. Hy-Mark can also help you with any duct improvements or replacements.

5. Get a preventative maintenance on your furnace

This might be the most important item on this list. A professional furnace maintenance visit will ensure your home’s heat source is running at full capacity without wasting energy. The technician will ensure the furnace’s proper mechanical operation, and clean the inside of debris. She will also change the filter and balance the airflow. Hy-Mark provides a full maintenance for only $125.00.



6. Install storm windows

If you don’t already have double or triple pane windows, you can install storm window panes to reduce heat loss. These go on in the fall and come off in the springtime, and can make a huge difference.

7. Replace worn weather stripping

image of weatherstripping installed on door threshold

Weatherstripping installed on door threshold. Courtesy:

Over time weather stripping around doors and windows cracks and splits, allowing drafts to enter to your home. How often you’ll have to replace it depends on what kind is already installed. If you have a newer home your weather stripping will last a long time, but older homes may have been retrofitted with adhesive backed or caulk stripping, which can wear out in as little as one year. Here is a good guide to different types of weather stripping and how to replace them yourself.


8. Adjust door thresholds

If you can see daylight peeking under your door that means your heat is escaping through that space. Over time these strips become worn or pushed lower into the floor, so simply loosening the screws holding it in place can raise it up to close that gap a bit. Check to make sure the door sweep is also in good condition. One way to check for drafts is to hold a candle flame near any cracks – if it moves or blows out you know there’s a draft.

9. Cover windows and patio doors with film insulation

Yes, more about windows. They only take up 5-10% of our home but are where up to 30% of heat is lost, so are well worth paying lots of attention to when it comes to conserving heat.

Any glass panes in doors and windows can be covered in clear plastic film insulation, available at any home centre for under $5 per door sized panel. You apply it on the inside of the panes, so it’s easy to use on any storey of your home.  Just by using plastic liners you will save around 10% on your heating bill.

10. Lock your doors and windows to get the tightest seals

Ever noticed the feeling of a window pressing more tightly into the frame when you lock it? That seal remains once it is locked and will make a difference in how much heat is lost around the edges. The same goes with outside facing doors.      



image of open chimney damper

Open chimney damper Courtesy:

11. If you have a wood burning fireplace, close the flue damper in your chimney

Most fireplace owners know this tip – the hard part is just remembering to do it. The flue must be opened any time a fire is burning, so make sure you wait until it is completely burned out before shutting it. Remembering this step after a fire will help greatly in preventing your heat siphoning up your chimney when the fireplace is not in use.

Gas fireplace owners, this tip doesn’t apply to you. Gas fireplace flues are locked in the open position to prevent the possibility of being run without proper ventilation. The amount of carbon monoxide given off by gas fireplaces is too high to run the risk that a homeowner might forget to open the damper before running the fire. As well, many gas fireplaces have constantly burning pilot lights, and those emissions need to always be vented outside safely.

However, gas fireplace pilot lights can be turned off in warm months to save on energy costs, and turned back again in the fall. Check the inside of your fireplace’s panel or the instruction manual for directions on how to do this.

12. Get a fireplace maintenance visit

While there are things you can do yourself to care for your fireplace, a pro can determine if it’s working safely and most efficiently. Hy-Mark offers a fireplace maintenance service for $125.00.

How To Care For Your Gas Fireplace

A gas fireplace is certainly the low maintenance fireplace option for homeowners.image of installed Napoleon gas fireplace

While it’s easier and less messy to care for than a wood or pellet burning model, there are still upkeep tasks necessary to keep it burning efficiently and safely. You’ll need a professional to take care of some things, but there is still a lot you can do to look after your fireplace.  Here are general practice and cleaning tips.

Before Each Burning Season:

Before touching the unit whatsoever, make sure it is cool and the power is off.

The exterior of the unit can get extremely hot. Clear the area around the fireplace of items, particularly anything combustible like chemicals, papers, or plastics.

Look closely at the exterior of the fireplace. Make sure the glass is not cracking or chipped, and the framework is solid. Check for soot forming on interior surface areas.

To clean the front glass plate, wipe with a clean damp cloth. Do not use an ammonia based or abrasive cleaner, or paper towel.

If you do not have one, install a carbon monoxide detector near your fireplace to monitor against gas leaks.

Check the outside vents to make sure they are clear of debris such as snow, plastic bags, leaves, or anything else.

Check flames to make sure output is correctly gauged. Flames should be blue with yellow tips. If the flames are only burning blue they might be adjusted too low, but if the whole flame is orange it might be too high.

Leave the Rest to the Pros

To do a complete maintenance and inspection, enlist a professional gas technician to come annually. On this visit she’ll check the burners, the ignition system, and ventilation, as we as clean the interior of the glass plate.

If you’d like Hy-Mark to perform a fireplace maintenance for you, email us or call 1 800 727 0750.

5 Reasons The AquaTrip Is Our Favourite New Plumbing Innovation

It’s the coolest new home protection device you’ve never heard of.

The AquaTrip is a programmable device that fits on to your water system to monitor water flow and shut off the water automatically if flow exceeds normal use. Consequently, the device minimizes damage in the event of a leak, cracked pipe, a faucet left running, a leaking toilet, or some other plumbing failure.

The result can be you saving thousands of dollars in water damage costs. But there are other reasons we love it too. Here are the top 5 reasons the AquaTrip is our favourite new innovation in plumbing.

1. Installing one can lower your property insurance rate

Did you know that over 60% of property insurance claims are due to water damage? And of those, 9 out of 10 were preventable. That’s why insurance companies are motivated to reward the installation of an AquaTrip by lowering your premium. In fact in some places, it’s becoming a requirement to insure any residence worth more than $3 million.

image of different AquaTrip models2. It’s useful for many different property types

Besides home and apartment application, the AquaTrip is relevant for commercial and institutional properties. These situations where many users are on a single system can mean unpredictable and uncontrollable water usage costs. Operation managers can then monitor – and if wanted, limit – water usage at places like schools, hospitals, retail locations, offices, factories, subsidized housing, and group care facilities.

Cottages that are uninhabited during the winter are also ideal candidates because they could sustain lots of damage if a burst pipe were to occur.

3. In terms of value, it’s the most cost effective leak detection solution on the market today

Other water detection alarms have to be placed near all water using appliances and drains where leaks could occur. If you wanted to monitor for all leaks you would need to buy enough alarms to go near your water heater, sump pump, dishwasher, washing machine, and every sink, bath and toilet.

Even after all that expense, they could still fail to go off if placed improperly. They also do nothing to account for excessive water flow or shut off the water automatically, and do not help if you are not in the house to hear the alarm sound.

image of shower drain4. It was invented for environmentalists

The AquaTrip has its origins all the way down under in Australia, where it was conceived and designed to save water during times of drought. Homeowners or even water companies could set daily water usage limits to enforce conservation efforts.

Here in Southwestern Ontario we just experienced a summer with moderate to severe drought conditions, and many communities were under outdoor water use restrictions. For anyone who is looking to track their own home’s usage and conserve water, the AquaTrip can be programmed to trip automatically when a daily limit has been reached, making it very easy to be environmentally conscious.

5. It can help you isolate water wasting appliances to save on your water billimage of AquaTrip installed on a water line

Sometimes leaks are not glaringly obvious. They can be hidden inside plumbing fixtures, slowly wasting water – water you’re paying for. The advantage of the AquaTrip being tied on to your whole home’s water main is having a device that monitors the whole system holistically. This makes it easier to isolate problems quicker so they can be fixed. Take this real life example from an AquaTrip user:

“I was initially alarmed at my high water bills, so installed an AquaTrip to make sure that I was not losing any water to leaks. As soon as it was installed it detected a leak, which turned out to be a leaking toilet. This was repaired and a second leak in the shower wall cavity was discovered. This was in turn isolated and repaired. Unbelievably, a third leak was detected, which turned out to be a cracked main pipe in the garden. AquaTrip has reduced my water bill considerably and without it, I would still be wasting water and money.”

To learn more about the AquaTrip call us today (800) 727-0750, or visit our Leak Protection page.

How to Proof Your Home Against Seasonal Allergies

The sneezing.Boy blowing nose

The itchy eyes and throat.

The inflamed sinuses.

They’re all familiar if you or someone you know has seasonal allergies, and it’s likely they are currently in full swing.

If you are stuck avoiding the outdoors, you want your home to be a safe haven from respiratory trouble. Here’s what you can do to seal your home against outdoor irritants, as well as eliminate the indoor factors that aggravate allergy and other respiratory issues.

     1. Keep windows and doors closed as much as possible. This is the time to rely on your air conditioning system.

  1. Turn off your heat recovery ventilator or energy recovery ventilator unit during the mornings, when pollen is at peak levels in the outdoor air.
  1. Change your furnace filter regularly according to its size and type. See our FAQ “How often should I replace the air filter in my furnace?” for more information.
  1. Turn off your humidifier for the summer months.  Not only does this reduce the temperature in your home (because air moisture and temperature are directly tied), it reduces growth of mold. Mold spores can irritate allergies and asthma, and some strands can pose even more serious health risks.
  1. If you do spot any mold growth near showers, sinks, toilets, and in the basement, clean it with a solution of one part bleach to ten parts water.
  1. Have your HRV/ERV unit cleaned regularly. Most units contain two small, reusable foam filters that need to be vacuumed and washed every three months. The core filter should be cleaned once per year. If you are comfortable you can do this yourself by following these directions, or Hy-Mark can do it for you.
  1. Sweep, dust, and vacuum regularly to keep dust mites at bay. Wipe down surfaces with cleaning solutions. Here are some DIY options for natural cleaners, which may be gentler on allergies and other respiratory problems.
  1. Brush cats and dogs regularly to prevent excessive shedding. Not only is hair itself an allergen for some people, it harbours dust mites when it collects on surfaces in the home. Indoor animals shed year round, but if your pet goes outdoors it will shed the most in spring and fall. If you’re in the market for a new pet, consider a hypoallergenic breed. These types of dogs –  and cats– may shed less or carry less dander in their coats.

 If you need further help allergy proofing your home, Hy-Mark is happy to help. Just give us a call! 1 800 727 0750.

2 Ways to Tell if Your Home’s Main Drain is Being Choked by Tree Roots

Tree with large root structureWhat would you think if an appliance in your home started draining slowly or not draining at all?  If you are like most people, you would assume that something that went down the drain is causing a clog.  But you could be wrong; in homes with certain risk factors, it could be the trees in your own yard causing your drains to slow and back up. Learn to identify these risk factors and what you can do if you think your pipes are being clogged with tree roots.

What Roots do to Pipes

Mature trees can have very large underground root structures.  Every year, the tips of these roots expand via very fine, hairlike rootlings seeking more space…and water.  The roots infiltrate underground plumbing pipes such as your main drain through small openings at the pipe joints.  As more and more roots enter the pipe, they create a tangle in your drain and also let in dirt through the openings.  The blockage of the roots impedes waste from your appliances from properly passing through the pipes, catching toilet paper, grease, hair and other debris until the flow is reduced or your drain is completely blocked.  Enough root infiltration and expansion can also eventually cause pipes to crack and collapse.

Risk Factors for Root Problems

1)     The first factor is having large, mature trees within 30 feet of your home’s main drain line to the sewer. (This is a 4 inch drain line connecting your home’s plumbing to the public sewer, and is the homeowner’s responsibility.)  No trees, no root problem.

2)     Second, if your home has clay, asbestos, or cast iron pipes, your drains are susceptible to root damage through the softer material and weaker joint openings.  However modern piping uses harder, more airtight ABS or PVC piping, and roots cannot infiltrate this material. If you’re not sure what kind of pipes your home has, it’s generally the case that homes built before 1970 have the weaker pipes and are at risk for root damage.

Assessing and Clearing Root Blockages in Drain Lines

If your home has the above risk factors and your water is draining slowly, you should have your main drain line assessed for root damage. A qualified plumber will run a camera down a drain in your home and be able to see clearly what kind of pipes you have, and if it is tree roots causing a blockage.  A mechanical auger can be used to clear out roots and flush out debris in the pipes. Keep in mind that once roots have entered a pipe they will continue to grow every year, so it is important to be diligent about monitoring the amount of root spread in your line. If the pipes are quite damaged, the solution is to re-pipe or re-line your current pipes. Hy-Mark offers all of these services, and provides free in-home consultations. Call us today for help with your drains or any other plumbing service at 1 800 727 0750.

Competition and Fun at the OTSC

Can you think of a place where you can find robotics engineers, aestheticians, bakers, and…plumbers and HVAC technicians all working under one roof?

If you did, congratulations, you’ve just invented quite the catch-all business.  We’ve never seen that company, but we did get to experience this scene at the recent Ontario Technological Skills Competition in Waterloo!

If you’ve never heard of it, the OTSC is a one day competition that bring together over 2,100 young trades people to compete in 67 skilled trade categories. The winners get prizes and the opportunity to move on and compete at the national level.

Our Hy-Mark team was there in full force, running the Heating Systems competition, as well as judging in the Sheet Metal and Plumbing categories.  Dozens of high school and college trades students came out for these events, working hard and having fun with the challenges we set up for them.

The best part? We offered full time apprenticeship positions to the winners in each of these three categories.  In fact, Hy-Mark was one of only two companies (out of over 50 total companies and organizations involved in OTSC) to offer this award.

Congratulations to the winners!

Bailey Bowman of Cambrian College (Heating Systems)

Owen Fryer of St. Clair College (Sheet Metal)

David Kingsberry of George Brown College (Plumbing)















Hy-Mark team at OTSC 2016

Plumber contest winner receiving apprenticeship offer at OTSC 2016