5 Signs It’s Time For a New Air Conditioner

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.

Lennox Air Conditioner

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.

 Frequent/Increased Repairs

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.

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.

Guelph

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.

Kitchener

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.

 

Cambridge

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.

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)

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Hy-Mark team at OTSC 2016

Plumber contest winner receiving apprenticeship offer at OTSC 2016

In the Press: Hy-Mark Leading in Safety Standards

This month Hy-Mark was featured in Plumbing + HVAC Magazine for our commitment to safety standards.  

We’re proud to be recognized for our efforts in Safety, but that’s not why we do it.  We do it because we take industry law seriously, and because everyone deserves to get home safe at the end of each day.  Hy-Mark’s investment in industry-leading P.P.E. (Personal Protective Equipment) and Safety Training Programs pays off every day when our team stays safe, and we’ll never stop continuing to improve when it comes to safety.

Visit our Health & Safety page.

Join the Hy-Mark team!  View current Career Opportunities.

 

 

 

 

4 Everyday Things That Are Clogging Your Drains

1. Hair, hair, and more hair

Hair is one of the number one culprits for drain clogs, particularly in the bathroom.  Though you may only see a few strands going down a day, little by little it does build up in your pipes, especially when it combines with soap to form a sticky gob that is just, well…not pleasant.  Long strands are the worse offenders, but even short hairs can contribute to clogs.drain

What to do

Fit your tub and sink drains with a strainer that will catch hair and any other small particles, and then clean that strainer regularly.  You won’t believe how much gunk you’re saving your drain from.

2. Grease

We’ve all seen the solid fats that form from cooled cooking oil or animal grease. So why are we surprised when it looks like that in our pipes?  The truth is even though you can wash fat down the drain while it’s hot, once it is out of your sight it will cool and form clumps, forming a drain blockage.  And yet we’re not going to give up bacon any time soon, so…

What to do

While it is still hot, pour as much excess grease as possible into a container. An empty tin can works well. You can keep this can covered with a lid in your freezer, which will minimize odours.  Rinse the rest of the grease off your cookware right away, while running lots of very hot soapy water to help break down the oil and help flush it down the drain.

3. Food

Even small bits of food can build up and expand in your pipes.

What to do

Again, use a drain strainer to catch food scraps.  And keep that veggie peeler away from your sink!

4. Bathroom products

Despite being labelled as “disposable,” many bathroom products can still cause clogs. Flushable wipes, super thick ply toilet paper, and feminine hygiene products are all liable to clog up a home’s pipes.  In general, only high powered public toilets can manage to handle these products.

What to do

Dispose of “flushable” wipes and feminine hygiene products in the garbage.  And stick with regular toilet paper. We promise no one will think you’re letting your bum slum.

Still got clogged pipes or backed up drains?  We can help! Call us at 800 727 0750.

Program Your Thermostat and Save $180/year

iComfort ThermostatMost homes these days have programmable thermostats. Yet amazingly, one study found that 53% of programmable thermostats in homes were not even set up.  If this includes yours, it’s time to get programming, and start

saving!

In theory, manually adjusting your thermostat as needed will work.  The problem is, none of us are perfect, and that means we don’t remember to turn down the heat or cooling every time we leave the house.  We often also don’t realize just how long our systems have been running once we are comfortable.  Manually handling the temperature also means you will always come home to a temperature you’re not comfortable with, and have to wait while your system kicks in for your house to cool or warm up.

Instead, take advantage of your thermostat’s functions.  Set a program to run that follows your daily schedule. When you are getting ready in the morning, have it set to your comfort level, and when you and your family leave the house for the day have the heat/cooling running at a low speed.  Set the system to kick back in to your desired temperature about 45 minutes before you normally arrive home.  Program the system to dip down again at bedtime and stay working at a low speed throughout the night. A tip: you can be comfortable with less heat in the winter and less cooling in the summer than you might think.

Be sure you set up a different program for your weekend schedule, and also adjust the program before you go on any vacations.

According to energy efficiency experts, programming your thermostat could save you $180/year.  So why not take advantage of your thermostat’s functions?

Hy-Mark offers several options in our product catalog for programmable thermostats.  Want even more control and capabilities?  A WiFi-enabled thermostat allows you to control your home comfort settings from your mobile device, with automatic changeover from heating to cooling and humidity settings, all from an intuitive and modern touch screen display.

Check out our product catalog of thermostats here.

 

 

Tips for Changing your Filter

The much debated question about your home heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system is: how often should the filter be changed?

There is no one answer to this question, as there are many factors to consider.  These include:Types of Filters

  • Type of filter being used – there is a clear distinction between a 1” filter compared to a pleated MERV 16 filter that is 5” thick.
  • Type of furnace and AC – if you have a new high efficiency furnace and/or air conditioner it will help increase the lifespan of your filter in comparison to a 15+ year old system that is tired and needs all the help it can get.
  • House specific – the size of your home, where you live, how many people and pets are living in your home all factor into how long your filter will function at an optimal level.
  • Season – the filter efficiency is also dependent on the time of year and how often you run your equipment.

There are many different sources you can reference for guidelines to this question.  According to energystar.gov and Consumer Reports the average filter should be checked every month and replaced at least every three months.

Regardless of what type of filter you have, and how often you choose to change your filter, all homeowners should understand why a filter needs to be replaced.  Heating and cooling systems have a filter to remove airborne particles before they reach the blower motor and cause damage.  The filter also ensures that the air being pushed through your vents is clean and dust free.  When the filter is replaced often, it allows your furnace and air conditioner to run at optimal efficiency, and that is reflected in your monthly energy bill.

For all instructions as to how to replace the filter in your HVAC system please reference your owner’s manual, or see our FAQ post How do I change my furnace air filter?

In the Press: Innovation in Duct Materials

At Hy-Mark we pride ourselves in living out our company Core Values each and every day.  Core Value #7 states that ‘We are world class innovators.’  In the March edition of the Plumbing and HVAC magazine, Hy-Mark was featured for our Plumbing and HVAC Magazineinnovation in our use of different duct materials.

Hy-Mark takes a unique approach with duct materials, from standard sheet metal, to duct board, to flex ducting.  All of these duct materials are being used and tested in residential applications.  The article in the March edition of Plumbing and HVAC magazine compares flexible duct to standard sheet metal duct in a townhouse.  Click here for the full article on page 26 and see the results for yourself.

For a full overview of all residential equipment Hy-Mark offers check our Residential menu.