Quality Mechanical Services Resources
At Quality Mechanical Services we believe that customers should have the opportunity to learn a little about a few of the common industry terms, how to hire a contractor, general maintenance tips, and how to cut down on energy cost. Please use these resources as you wish, and if you have any further questions please feel free to fill out the contact form to the right or to give us a call at (419) 229-9781.
Common Heating and Air Conditioning Terms
SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio): A rating that tells you how efficient an air conditioner is, with a higher rating indicating that the A/C uses less energy to cool the house.
AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency): A rating that describes how efficiently a furnace burns gas to heat your home. The closer to 100% the rating, the less fuel the furnace will need to keep things toasty at home.
HVAC (Heating Ventilation Air-Conditioning): Contractors who install heating and cooling systems often use the acronym HVAC as a short-and way to describe their business.
Tips and Questions to Ask When Hiring a Contractor
- Make sure the contractor can answer all of your questions, and that you feel comfortable with their answers.
- Ask for referrals from previous jobs. Perhaps the contractor would allow you to visit one of their current jobs so that you can see an ongoing project and examine their work habits.
- Try to make sure the contractor is local. What will happen if you have a problem? Will they be responsive if you they are located forty miles away?
- Check their local Better Business Bureau rating, as well as other affiliated state and community agencies. When doing so keep an eye out for a company history of complaints and resolutions to make sure the contractor is reputable.
- Check contractorâ€™s local licenses. Does the company have any applicable state and local licenses, bonding, and insurance coverage?
- Be sure to receive written detailed proposals. Be careful of a contractor that does not back-up their offer in a detailed written proposal.
- How intensive was the contractor when examining your home? A good contractor should perform an on-site evaluation measuring your home, checking insulation factors, and evaluating your overall comfort needs.
- Does the contractor provide any equipment or labor warranties and guarantees? These factors vary according to manufacturer and dealer, make sure you ask questions and demand that they are included in the written estimate.
- Do not be afraid to ask a contractor about the maintenance requirement of a new system: What can you do yourself and/or does the contractor offer maintenance services? Look into obtaining a maintenance agreement to ensure your systemâ€™s performance, reliability, and safety.
- Be sure to thoroughly understand the contract. Beware of bogus contracts and make sure to ask a lot of questions. It is important to understand all aspects of the agreement with your contractor before any work begins.
General Heating and Air Conditioning Maintenance Tips
Your heating and cooling equipment should operate dependably for many years to come, however there are a few maintenance operations you can do yourself to help ensure the best performance.
Notice: Before you perform any kind of maintenance, disconnect all electrical power to the unit. Do not remove access panels until doing so, and be careful for sharp edges when handling parts or reaching into units. Also be sure to comply with all manufacturerâ€™s instructions, otherwise failure to do so may result in fire or combustion that may cause property damage, serious injury or death, and possibly void all manufacturerâ€™s warranties and guarantees.
Check Filter â€“ Checking the air filter in your furnace or fan coil each month, making sure the filter is not dirty, will ensure that your furnace, air conditioner, or heat pump is not working excessively. Replace your filter when necessary, or clean it if possible. (Make sure filter is dry before re-installing it.)
Remove Debris â€“ Make sure to keep your outdoor unit free of debris, grass clippings, leaves, shrubbery, and etc. Also be sure to check the base pan, under your unit, for debris. Doing so will allow the unit drain properly.
Brush Exterior â€“ It is ideal to use a brush or a vacuum cleaner with a soft brush attachment to clean the surface of your outdoor coil.
Check Level â€“ Be sure your outdoor coil stays in a level position. In the case that the support for the coil shifts or settles and the unit is no lover level, re-level it to make sure moisture drains properly from under the unit.
Inspect Ventilation â€“ Before each heating season it is a good idea to inspect your furnaceâ€™s combustion area and vent system. If you happen to find dirt, soot, or rust your system it may not properly operate, or at its peak efficient. Please call Quality Mechanical Services and do not run your furnace until it is professionally inspected or repair.
Clean Humidifier â€“ Before every heating season clean your humidifier. It is best to review your ownerâ€™s manual for the proper procedure to clean the evaporator pad and external components before hand.
Winterize a Vacant Home â€“ Before heading south for the winter avoid frozen pipes by:
- Turning off the water to your home using the main shut-off valve.
- Opening all faucets, both indoors and outside, starting with the upstairs. After all water has dripped from the taps, drain the main shut off valve by opening the plug. (This may require contacting the water company.)
- Turning off the power or gas to the water heater. Open the drain valve.
- Removing the clean out plugs on all sign traps. When empty replace them and fill with plumbing antifreeze mixed with water following the directions for car in your climate.
- Adding a full quart of antifreeze to tubs and showers since you cannot drain them. (Do NOT use in a dishwasher or washing machine.)
Avoid Drain Clogs â€“ Clogged drains happen more often than we care to think about and at times can be extremely frustrating. A few ways to avoid clogged drains included:
- Do not pour grease down drains.
- Do not discard coffee grounds down drains.
- Use chemical cleaners only when necessary, as some chemicals can corrode metal pipes.
- Clean all removable drain strainers.
- Clean pop-up stoppers in the bathroom sink and tub once a week.
- Keep sewer pipes from the house free of tree roots.
- Flush the drain-waste and vent systems when youâ€™re on the roof cleaning out your gutters. Use your hose to run water into all of the vents.
Showerheads â€“ Weak or pulsating water pressure usually indicate mineral build up in the showerhead. Clean the outlet holes with a pin, or unscrew the faceplate and soak it in vinegar overnight â€“ scrubbing it clean before replacing it on the showerhead.
Garbage Disposal â€“ When operating the disposal use cold water. The best way to clean your disposal is by grinding ice cubs, then refresh by grinding some lemon peels.
Water Moisture â€“ Make sure that vents with fans are installed in your kitchen and bathrooms to prevent water moisture in the house. Remember, ventilating fans are of no use unless turned on.
Mildew â€“ To prevent mildew use dehumidifiers to dry the air, walls, and furnishings. Do not hang wet clothes in your closet, keep your showers and tubs clean of soap-scum so that they dry quicker, and air out your bathroom cabinets and kitchen sink cabinets often.
Pipe Insulation â€“ Never forget to insulate your pipes before it gets cold. When temperatures drop blow freezing, run a stead amount of hot and cold water from you faucets to keep your pipes from freezing. If you do not insulate your pipes they may freeze even with a solid flow of water.
Roots â€“ Overtime roots can grow in to the joints of your pipes. A little “root-x” flushed down the toilet can reduce the growth of roots in your pipes. For the best results flush the “root-x” before bed so that it sits in the pipes overnight.
How To Cut Down Energy Cost
Insulation â€“ An adequately insulated home can help dramatically cut down energy cost. Adding insulation to attic areas is fairly easy, while other areas, such as outside walls, are a little more challenging.
Seals â€“ Make sure seals around windows, doors, electrical outlets, or any other potential sources for escaping area are working properly. A good caulking glue will do the trick, and be sure to evaluate your work every few years.
Weather Stripping â€“ Weather stripping, inside your home, around moving parts of windows and doors can help seal off potential areas of leakage or drafts.
Storm Systems â€“ Storm doors and windows can provide additional energy savings by preventing air loss and by creating an insulation layer of air.
Programmable Thermostat â€“ Programmable thermostats will allow you to adjust the temperature of your house from day to night, and from season to season. A simple program can save you up to 15% on heating and cooling bills.
Showerheads â€“ A brand new showerhead will use a maximum of 2.5 gallons per minute, which saves you water and energy. An average family of four can save from $60 in gas and $150 in electric with a new showerhead. In total, the amount of water saved is about 15,000 gallons.
Toilet Leaks â€“ By placing a few drops of food coloring in the tank, not the bowl, you can check your toilet for leaks. If the bowl is colored in thirty minutes the tank is leaking and the stopper and valve seal may need to be replaced.
Insulating Ductwork and Pipes â€“ For significant savings in your energy bill insulate pipes and ducts that run through unheated space. Water sitting in insulated pipes will cool down in-between uses, resulting in running extra water from the faucet to get hot water. Wrapping cold water lines will not save you energy dollars, but will eliminate dripping and sweating from condensation, avoiding water spots.
Water Savings â€“ Dripping faucets can greatly reduce energy cost. Turn off the faucet when you not using the water, even if you will be using it again shortly.
Dishwashers and Washing Machines â€“ Be sure to only run your dishwasher when it is full, and if possibly run it during non-peak hours or in the evening. The same goes for the laundry machine, as heating the water is biggest laundry expense.
Water Heaters â€“ Setting the temperature of your water heater at 120Â° F or below you will save 4% of your energy cost per 10Â° that you lower your thermostat. Check to see if your water heater has a â€œvacation settingâ€ and use when applicable.