Frequently Asked Questions About Plumbing and HVAC

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Frequently Asked Questions About Plumbing and HVAC

When it comes to plumbing and heating, there are a ton of questions clients have but often find answers difficult to come by. R&D Plumbing and Heating wants to arm you with the most accurate information available to help you with all your plumbing and heating needs and to do this, we’ve answered some of the most frequently asked questions about plumbing and heating.

1. What should the humidity level be in a home?

During the dry, heating season the optimum indoor range is around 35% relative humidity, but 30% to 40% tends to work best for many homes. If you go above this level, the windows will fog up with condensation which will breed mold that leads to allergies and respiratory problems.

Dust mites, the leading cause of allergies, thrive in as little as 50% relative humidity. Allergens like molds thrive in relative humidity conditions above 60%, leading to a variety of ailments including asthma, allergies and respiratory infections. So yes, too much humidity is a bad thing. Too little humidity, on the other hand, can lead to dry nose and throat, dry skin, and static electricity, which can also ruin electronic devices such as computers, VCR’s, and DVD players. Maintaining proper and consistent humidity is also essential for the wood inside your home; flooring, doors, and even pianos can shrink, crack, and warp if not properly humidified.

Energy savings is another benefit of keeping the proper humidity level. You will actually feel warmer and more comfortable in humidified air, so you can turn your thermostat down about two degrees (saving money), and still feel just as warm.

2. What is a Variable Speed Furnace or Air Handler?

The term “Variable Speed” actually refers to the blower motor inside the furnace or air handler. It's an electronically commutated motor, or (ECM). ECM’s are DC motors that function using a built-in inverter and a magnet rotor, and as a result, they are able to achieve greater efficiency than most AC motors.

ECM’s are low-maintenance, energy efficient, and can reduce operating costs. The initial cost of a furnace with an ECM will be higher than a traditional furnace, but the typical payback on a variable speed furnace is just four to five years.

3. How does a Variable Speed Furnace or Air Handler Work?

Unlike conventional fan motors, a variable speed blower motor runs at different speeds to precisely control the flow of heated or cooled air throughout your home. Better airflow control means a better balance of temperature and humidity.

Using advanced technology, it continually monitors the data coming from your heating and cooling system and automatically makes adjustments necessary to meet your comfort needs. It varies the amount of circulated air, compensating for factors like dirty filters or blocked vents by increasing the fan speed.

Put simply, it delivers just the right amount of air for the right level of heating and cooling comfort. As an added bonus, a variable speed motor gradually ramps up to full speed. This eliminates the sudden, noisy blast of air that’s associated with standard furnace motors. It also reduces stress on the mounting hardware. And in the cooling mode, it allows the air conditioner to remove more moisture from the air.

4. What is a Two-Stage Furnace?

A two-stage furnace operates much more efficiently than a single-stage furnace. It provides the right amount of heat to satisfy your home and family’s needs efficiently. Besides, a two-stage furnace is much quieter since it doesn’t operate at 100% capacity every time it runs and creates less carbon dioxide emissions for the environment.

If you are in the market for a new gas furnace, then without a doubt, a variable-speed, two-stage furnace would be your best choice, and the same applies to heat pumps. Many are available with two-speed compressors and variable-speed air handlers for the ultimate in comfort and efficiency.

5. How does a Two-Stage Furnace work?

For most climates, the first stage operates the majority of the time and runs at about 60% of the furnace’s full capacity. When the temperature outside becomes extremely cold, and the first stage is not sufficient enough to heat your home, the second stage kicks on to provide the additional heat requirements. This allows warm air to be distributed into your home more evenly, which helps to reduce air fluctuations.

Two-stage furnaces also help to increase energy efficiency on moderate-temperature days since they will, in most cases, remain on the low stage. They also provide a higher level of comfort due to a steady flow of warm air on the coldest winter days.

6. I think my toilet is leaking. Is there a test I can do to confirm this?

Yes, there is. All you have to do is put a few drops of food coloring into your toilet tank. Wait a few minutes and then look in the toilet bowl. If you see that your bowl has the same color, then you’ve got a leak. The scary part is you are probably wasting hundreds of gallons of water each month! You have two options, you can either repair it or install a low-flow toilet that will not only save a lot of water but will flush better than your previous toilet.

7. What causes my faucet to drip?

Usually, when a faucet is dripping the problem has a relatively simple solution. The internal mechanism needs to be rebuilt or replaced. This is an easy and inexpensive fix. You can extend the life of your washers by turning off your faucets gently rather than forcefully.

8. Our faucet makes a banging noise when I turn it off and on. What’s wrong?

Most of the time when you hear a banging faucet noise it is actually a defective washer allowing an increased water pressure through the pipes. For the homeowner, sometimes these are easy to fix, sometimes not. Rest assured, it is an easy fix for R&D's plumbers.

9. What’s the difference between conventional water heaters and tankless?

Conventional water heaters are by far the most common type of water heater today. They range in size from 40 to 50 gallons (or larger) and are fueled by electricity, natural gas or propane. These water heaters or storage units transfer heat from a burner or coil to water in an insulated tank. The downside to a conventional water heater is that energy is consumed even when no hot water is being used.

Tankless water heaters do not contain a storage tank like conventional water heaters. A gas burner heats the water only when there is a demand for hot water, and provides continuous hot water. Amount of hot water varies upon the size of the unit and water lines.

10. We are replacing our AC unit this season, what advice can you give me?

Replacing your system is one of the most significant financial decisions you will make. The reason for this is that the life expectancy of a system is around twelve years. When choosing a contractor, pick a company to install the unit based on quality and customer service, not solely on price. The name brand of the equipment is not as important as the installing contractor. Another thing to keep in mind when replacing a system is that the duct system you are connecting to is sealed tight with the proper amount of return air. With the new higher efficiency units, you also have to be careful that you replace your system with the properly sized unit, so you don’t end up with a house that is cool but has high humidity. Do some homework, pick quality contractors, and find someone you trust and you will have a successful installation that will bring you years of comfort and the least amount of overall cost.

If you have any more questions about plumbing or heating, cooling, and ventilation, get in touch with the experts at R&D Plumbing and Heating. As the experts in plumbing, heating and air conditioning in Lloydminster, Alberta, we provide plumbing and heating services with great financing options. To learn more about how we can help you, please click here or contact us by clicking here.