Ask The Expert

Boiler Cleaning

Question:

How often does my boiler need cleaning?

– Karen

Answer:

Great timing on this question Karen. We recommend that your boiler be serviced annually. Depending on the type of boiler you have, there are many things that will need attention. Most basic cast iron boilers are very simple to maintain. Over time, the burners and heat exchanger will need to be brushed out to maintain the peak efficiency and keep them operating safely. If left neglected, it may take a technician several hours to clean it when it stops working or starts creating high levels of carbon monoxide. We are here to take care of all of your heating, cooling, and plumbing needs. –

- Dan Miller, VP / HVAC Division Manager

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Preventive Maintenance - Water Heaters

Question:

My husband just put in a new water heater for our home. I was told to preserve the longevity of the new heater; you should drain it once a year ... is that correct or helpful? And is there anything else we can or should do as preventive maintenance to preserve the life of the water heater?

- Janna S

Answer:

Hi Janna, I get calls on this all the time! I don’t think draining is the word I would use, I would say “flush” the heater. To do that, you would just hook up a hose at the bottom of the heater and open that hose bib on the heater. I would take the other end of the hose and discharge the water into a floor drain for approximately 10 minutes or until you see clear water. Draining the heater is misconstrued by shutting off the heater, draining the water, and then opening all valves and putting it back into service. The problem with draining the heater is this; once the water is shut off, the water is air locked in the heater and it could take a day to drain. We want to use the water pressure from the municipality to flush the heater, so we don’t want to shut off the valves on the heater. We want to put the hose on the hose bib and blow the accumulated line rust, etc. out of the heater. As for other things you can do there really isn’t much else, we can do except to keep the area clear of clutter around the base of the heater. Thanks for the question Janna. If you have any other questions, please feel free to call! We are here to help with all of your plumbing, heating, and cooling needs.

 - Wes Rosenberg, Owner/Master Plumber

Covering my AC Unit

Question:

Wondering if you would recommend or if it is a good idea to get a cover for my Central Air Conditioning unit for the winter?

 - Lee  

Answer:

For starters, those A/C units are designed to be outdoors so covering them is really not needed. Following are a few reasons why not to cover it. If you wrap it tightly you will create the perfect home for critters to nest inside of and keep warm there for the winter. Not a good situation. If you cover the unit with a kind of material that doesn’t breathe, you will trap moisture that can cause your unit to rust. Also, not a good situation. Finally, there is a chance that you would get a warm day in early spring that could cause the A/C to turn on inadvertently while still covered and that could cause damage to the system requiring repair. When all things are considered and from our perspective, we would NOT recommend covering your Central Air unit for the winter. Thanks for a great and timely question Lee! Please call us for all your HVAC and plumbing needs.

 Dan Miller, VP / HVAC Division Manager

Furnace Clean and Check

Question:

I have been tempted to turn on my heat a couple times recently, but am wondering if I should have my furnace checked before I do that??

-Ron & Mary

Answer:

Having your furnace serviced annually by a professional is always recommended. These furnace checks can be done at any time of year, but prior to cold weather is just a good idea to avoid any surprises when you really need your heat. As your system ages, especially with high efficiency furnaces, it will need some attention. Inspecting the heat exchanger and carbon monoxide is one of the biggest concerns we hear from our customers, but there are other things such as condensate drain, filters, and venting, etc. that should be cleaned and inspected by a professional as well. Back in the day, you would be able to replace the thermocouple and light the pilot and you would be fine, but the newer systems are much more advanced. Please call us to get scheduled to take care of all of your furnace needs before our Wisconsin winter weather arrives.

-Dan Miller, VP / HVAC Division Manager

Indoor Air Quality

Question:

What can I do to my heating system to protect my home from COVID-19?

 - Steve L

Answer:

There are many products offered in our industry to help with IAQ (Indoor Air Quality).

1st - Make sure to get a quality Air Filter (Look at the MERV Rating or Efficiency)
2nd - Install an Air Purifier such as an i-Wave that creates ions to capture particles and allow the filter to collect them from the air.

Studies have shown that it can fight against COVID-19 and lots of other airborne particles and illnesses, etc.! Please contact us if we can help you or you are interested in learning more.

 -Wes Rosenberg, Owner/Master Plumber

Sump Pump

Question:

Good day! I recently had a new sump pump installed -- again. I went down to look at it yesterday and it already looks like it’s ten years old! There is this orange color sludge or jelly type coating on it. The last pump I had only lasted 4 months and I believe that maybe that orange sludge shortened its life. Upon replacement last time, the plumber had pointed out that the inner diameter of the discharge pipe was smaller due to the sludge adhering to the inner walls of the pipe about 1/8 inch thick. Got any suggestions? I’m afraid my drain tile will plug up or my pump will die again soon until I can get this figured out.

 -Dave W

Answer:

 Morning Dave,

What you have is called iron ochre. It’s when there is a lot of iron mineral in the soil around your drain tile. When you have air, water, and iron bacteria in the water, it can form a sludge type consistency and that’s called iron hydroxide. Some people say you can’t get rid of it. Some people replace the inside drain tile around the whole perimeter of the home and backfill with an excessive amount of limestone. I’ve seen costs of 30k+ to have that performed. However, a less expensive route is to get a toilet brush and a product called Iron Out - liquid form is better. You take that iron out, mix with water, throw in the crock. Then use that toilet brush and scrub the sides of the crock, pump and float assembly. Another thing that can be performed is having clean outs placed on the corners of the basement (under the floor) and then you can periodically run a sewer rod through these clean outs to keep the drain tile open. I know this sounds like a lot of continuous work, but, it’s an existing and ongoing problem and you really can’t change it. The only other thing that can be done to not have to worry about it or work on it anymore is to pack your bags and move!

-Wes Rosenberg, Owner/Master Plumber

MAINTAIN YOUR FORCED AIR FURNACE

Maintaining your furnace is crucial in optimizing system performance and efficiency. The efficiency of your furnace is greatly reduced when it is not maintained and kept clean of dust and dirt buildup. This buildup of debris can damage the electrical motors inside your furnace and corrode electrical connections, resulting in performance failure.

It is recommended that you have your furnace maintained annually by an HVAC professional before the heating season begins.

On a furnace “clean and check” you can expect these tests to be performed and recorded by your HVAC professional:

  • Examine electrical connections and ensure proper voltages and amperages  throughout the system.
  • Examine and clean burner and pilot assembly & check iff they are  damaged or clogged with dirt particles.
  • Examine and clean drain.
  • Examine grills and registers for dirt and dust.
  • Examine furnace thermostat.
  • Examine furnace vent piping.
  • Examine furnace ignition system for proper ignition sequence.
  • Examine heat exchanger for rust or cracks.
  • Examine and clean blower if excessive dirt buildup is present.
  • Examine pilot thermocouple,  if present.
  • Measure for proper line gas pressure and manifold gas pressure.
  • Perform combustion analysis test and make proper adjustments, if necessary.

 

Storms/Sump Pumps

QUESTION:

Good morning, That last rainfall/storm we had wreaked havoc in our home! We were even getting water coming through our basement walls! I’m looking to get a sump pump and crock installed in our home. We don’t have one now and are looking for an approximate cost on that, do you have a ballpark figure of what I may be looking at?

- Dave K

ANSWER:

 Morning Dave, I really don’t think you need a sump pump or crock! You’ve never had one before so apparently your house was designed with a different style of storm water removal. What I think you should do is call for an appointment for me to come out and look at your home. I get these calls often, and the majority of the time, if you have water coming through the “walls” it’s due to something else. Factors that are often easily and inexpensively remedied. Some of the factors are; a down spout came off or gutters need cleaning, but a more common cause is a grading problem. A lot of people like to plant things close to the house to enhance the outer decor, then they place a border of wood or rocks or something around the landscaping and ultimately terminate both ends of the border, back to the house walls. Most of the time, the grade inside that beautiful new border is lower than the grade of the surrounding grassy area. What a lot of homeowners don’t realize is that they just made a swimming pool next to the house and the water can’t escape or drain where it should. Give us a shout and I’ll come out and look at this with you. I’ll advise the right direction to take and I’m sure it will be a lot cheaper than putting in a sump crock and pump!

- Wes Rosenberg, Owner/Master Plumber

Sump Pump

QUESTION:

This week, we had storms and flash flooding in our community. My sump pump couldn’t keep up with the water and it flooded my basement. Can you advise me on what size of sump pump I should have? -

-  Anna P

ANSWER:

A Good morning Anna, we only install a 1/3 horse power sump pumps. It pumps 2400 gallons per hour. It will suffice for use in almost any residential environment. Many people think that they need a bigger pump - like a 1/2 or 3/4 horse power. In the case of sump pumps, bigger is not better. If you have a bigger pump, the pump will pump out the crock too fast and shut off too often. This burns out the switch on the pump. More often than not, when the basement floods, and you have a 1/3 horse pump, there are other reasons why the system failed. Call us and we can come out and assess your system. We can educate you about, and identify potential corrections that should be made to your system to make it a more efficient and trustworthy one, and you can sleep with both eyes closed on rainy and stormy nights.

- Wes Rosenberg, Owner/Master Plumber