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How do I know if I have Kitec piping in my home and what should I do?

Kitec piping was widely used in new construction and renovations between 1995 to 2007.

Kitec piping comes in a few different colours. Mainly orange and blue flexible piping with brass fitting and carry hot and cold water throughout the home. Kitec piping was also used for radiant heat.

If you want to know what kind of piping you have in your household, the easiest place to check is around your water heater or underneath your sinks. If you find any orange piping check it for these markings on the pipe. PEX-AL-PEX, PE-AL-PE, Kitec XPA, Kerr Controls, ASTN F1281, CSA N137.9, ASTM F1974, Made in Canada by IPEX.  If you see these markings on the pipe you should have it checked further by a plumber.

Kitec pipe is made up of three different layers.  A layer of polyethylene on the outside, a thin layer of aluminum in the middle and another layer of polyethylene on the inside.

Kitec piping can potentially have problems with its fittings and in some cases even have problems with the pipe disintegrating. To add to the problem, a lot of insurance companies will not insure your home if you have Kitec piping in it. If you plan on selling in the near future, having Kitec in your house will scare away a lot of home buyers.

The only real solution is to get it looked at by a licensed plumber and have it replaced. It can be down with minimal drywall repairs. 

Call ET Mechanical 444-HOME (4663) today for pricing on all your plumbing, heating, air conditioning and electrical needs.

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It is amazing how well prepared a Heat Pump is for cold weather, with safeties, defrost controls, and auxiliary heating sources.

Unfortunately, they do not come with windshield wipers to keep the condensers clear of snow, and to much snow will decrease the airflow across the condenser (the coil in the outdoor unit).

For central heat pumps, a situation like this means either the auxiliary heat turns on more frequent, or you need to turn on the auxiliary heat to satisfy the thermostat.  When covered with snow, a conventional heat pump will not be able to move air across the coil and will actually start to recycle the air increasing the defrost cycle times and frequency.  You see this often on top discharge condensing units that may have been off during the snowfall, allowing the top, sides and fan blades to be covered in snow.

  For the ductless mini-split heat pumps, this could create an uncomfortable home.  This is because these systems do not incorporate any sort of auxiliary heat into their equipment. Defrost cycles can become more frequent during times of snow and airflow restriction, the indoor fan may shut down to avoid blowing cold air into the home.  As defrost cycles increase in frequency they can restrict the operation enough that it may not meet the heat loss of the house. This is why we recommend having a back up heat source such as electric or hot water baseboards with this type of heat pump.   

In order to avoid a breakdown or damaging your heat pump, be sure to keep your outdoor unit clear of ice and snow.

PLEASE USE CAUTION WHEN CLEARING SNOW WITH A SHOVEL. THERE ARE COPPER LINES BEHIND OR BESIDE YOUR OUTDOOR UNIT THAT WILL BREAK IF STRUCK HARD ENOUGH WITH A SHOVEL.

If you have questions about how your heat pump operates during the winter months or just want to be sure that your system is in good working condition before winter really hits we suggest having an annual maintenance completed by a qualified technician. This can help to avoid unforseen issues during the heating season.

Kraig H.

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As a service technician at ET Mechanical, I am in 2-3 houses per day. I complete plumbing and service calls for heat pumps. That being said, if all of my calls in a day were about heat pumps, then the home-owners they could solve at least one of them, typically due to simple user errors. 

There are two main types of heat pumps that we typically deal with at ET mechanical. These two types are called ductless and ducted heat pumps. In this following blog I will explain the basic operation of both heat pumps, in the hopes of saving you from making an unnecessary service call.

The first step when dealing with a heat pump is to understand their different modes. You will have “automatic” mode, “cooling” mode, “heating” mode, “dehumidify” mode (only on ductless heat pumps) and lastly, “emergency heat” mode (only on ducted heat pumps 

Automatic mode: some customers use this mode in spring and fall. This mode is designed to keep your house within a 2-3 degree range of the set temperature, by putting itself into heating and cooling mode. The only problem with the automatic mode is that it turns the heating and cooling on, regardless of the season. Furthermore, could turn the wrong mode on in the winter season. Therefore, we typically recommend using the straight heating or cooling modes instead of automatic.

Cooling mode: this mode is used in the summer, designed to keep your home at a comfortable, cool temperature during the hot months. While the heat pump is in cooling mode, it should constantly be running to always be keeping up with the dehumidify process. When you turn it off the unit has to work that much harder to catch up and take all that warm moist air out. If you find you are getting too cold while using ac mode just turn your heat pump up rather than off.

Heating mode: This mode is used in heating season. It is relatively less complex than the cooling mode. The most important thing to remember when on heating mode is to ensure that the outdoor heating unit is cleared of snow, especially the bottom of the unit. This is because, when the unit goes into defrosting mode, the snow/ice that melts needs somewhere to go once defrosted. This defrosting can happen up to once or twice an hour during the coldest days of the winter. And I’m sure we can all agree, New Brunswick gets extremely cold.  

Dehumidify mode: This mode is only on ductless heat pumps. It is just a light form of air-conditioning, and takes the moisture out of your home, which straight cooling mode does anyway.  

Emergency Heat mode: This mode is your electric backup heat, inside the unit. This heat is kicked on when it is too cold outside and your outdoor unit can no longer produce heat. Keeping snow and ice away from your outdoor unit avoids the need for the machine to engage in emergency heat mode. As a user, emergency heat mode should never have to be selected, as it is an automatic setting.

Now after a mode has been selected, a fan operation must be selected. There are variable speeds on both ductless as well as ducted heat pumps. The most efficient speed and most comfortable fan mode is the automatic mode, which should be selected all year round. The automatic fan setting will keep the temperature as close to the set point as possible, while ramping itself up and down as needed. Air will always be circulating, at a low speed with this setting, which is also good for air filtration.

The last step to making sure your get the most out of your heat pump is the simplest one. Leave it running 24/7 it is the best most efficient way of running a heat pump. Heat pumps are made as a gradual heat and will heat from room to room and always keep your house at a consistent temperature. If you are turning it on and off it is making the heat pump always run at its peak and never get caught up. Heat pumps are designed to always be running at a low speed, that's where you will get the most out of the parts of  your heat pump as well because the mechanical parts are designed to always be running at a low speed and not designed to be starting and stopping. Just think of it like when a transport truck pulls in a truck stop most of the time the driver just keeps the truck running rather then turning it off because it is cheaper and easier on the truck, same goes for a heat pump. 

 

Thanks you for taking the time to read my blog, if you have any further question give Us a call at 444-HOME (4663).

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Hey folks, just a friendly reminder from your neighborhood plumber. With school starting next week and those evening temperatures getting a little cooler; it almost time to start thinking of closing up the camp or cottage for the winter season. So, why not do it the ET way? I am a trained specialist in the field and can put your mind at ease all winter long. I complete a shut down the green way with toxin free based products.

RV/Marine nontoxic antifreeze can be found in most hardware stores and RV shops. It is recommended to use Propylene Glycol based antifreeze rather than Ethanol (alcohol) based antifreeze. Ethanol based products are not only flammable but they can actually dry out the rubber seals in your faucets and toilet. The product is not recommended to be used for this purpose. 

Propylene Glycol based nontoxic antifreeze is recommended to be used during for plumbing shut down during the winter season. Not only is this product nontoxic but it is completely safe to use on all plumbing fixtures acting as a lubricant that will actually work toward extending the life of both faucets and toilets. 

For further information and to book your appointment please call 444-4663 today.  So remember for all your green needs we are always around.

 

 

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Did you know the average person spends approximately 90 percent of their time indoors? Most people know that outdoor air pollutants can be harmful, however many do not know that indoor air pollutants can also do the same. 

In fact, studies of human exposure to air pollutants by EPA show that indoor levels of pollutants may be 2 to 5 times higher than outdoor pollutant levels. Indoor air pollutants have been ranked among the top five environmental risks to public health. This is one reason why your furnace air filters are so important. 

Not only is there health benefits to changing your filter but it can also save you money. All air that passes through your furnace passes through your filter. If the filter is dirty your system has to work harder to get warm or cool air out to your home. The harder the system has to work the less efficient it is. Thus costing you more to heat or cool your house. With everything working harder and getting hotter components will often fail before their time, leading to costly and sometimes preventable repairs.  

Now we know that they should be changed; But how often? That really depends on what style filter you have. Just about every filter on the market should be replaced every one to three months. We carry a large selection of filters. From your standard pleated filter to our electronic air cleaner, the Micro Power Guard.  

In addition to changing your air filter your HVAC system should also have an annual tune up and maintenance performed by a qualified technician. Give us a call and set up maintenance and we can discuss what filter would work best in your home. 

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It is very important to keep a vigilant eye on the indoor unit of your ductless mini split. While keeping the outdoor unit free of leaves, growing plant life, animal nesting, snow and ice build up is very important, people will often neglect the indoor units. Proper cleaning of the filters inside the cover plate will not only promote proper air circulation and efficiency of heat transfers, it will also create a primary line of defense against the buildup of dust, grime, and mold. Depending on usage, environmental filters should be cleaned on a regular basis of every 3 months. This can be done by alternating between a vacuum cleaning one time and a warm water rinse the next. Naturally occurring oils in the atmosphere as well as aerosols, scented candles or even cooking can clog the fine filtration of the filter. This is why we would recommend a warm water rinse to break down the oils. Proper operating habits can also benefit the health of the indoor unit. In cooling mode the indoor unit will produce condensation on the coil as warm air passes on the head. The moisture created from A/C will drain out the back of the unit and safely outside. If a large amount of dust accumulates on the coil the onset of mold can occur not to mention potential water leaks from clogged drain pans. Rust can also damage the outside edges of the coil from water settling on the build up. To avoid moisture issues it is recommended that the operation of the unit not be turned off immediately but rather placed in recirculation mode or just run with the fan on high for a minimum of 20 minutes.

A coil and cleaning is recommended every five years even when proper steps are taken to prevent theses conditions. If you find yourself in a situation where mold and grime have overtaken your system, do not panic, the problem can be fixed. We are very skilled in taking apart the various models of heat pumps and have developed a cleaning method that is not only safe but very thorough. The head is completely stripped of its housing exposing the coil, louver and inner circuit. The speed clean bib is installed over the unit offering protection to the homeowners walls and floors. Dusting with a brush and shop vac will eliminate any dust and dry mold before the coil cleaning agent is applied.

The products we use are food grade cleaners and pose no potential threat to people, pets, or the environment.  

People lead very busy lives and may neglect to think of properly maintaining equipment in the home, I am guilty of that myself.  Having a service technician inspect and maintain heating and cooling equipment in the home can remove any stress and headaches.  E.T. Mechanical offers a great Club Membership program that will help with overcoming these obstacles.  At E.T. Mechanical we understand the importance of keeping your loved one’s comfortable and safe; it is for this reason we offer our Comfort Club Membership. Our goal is to provide you with safety, peace of mind and 100% satisfaction guaranteed.

As a Club Member you will receive these fantastic benefits:  

ü  50% off travel, service and evaluation fee (regular price $99.00)

ü  No after-hours fees

ü  Front of the line service Guaranteed

ü  Club Membership Hotline 458-1006 (these calls take priority)

ü  20% off E.T. Mechanical Straightforward Pricing

ü  10% off Duct Cleaning

ü  10% off Indoor Air Quality products (free Annual Maintenance)

ü  Worry Free Annual Maintenance (we call you every year)

ü  Special promotions and discounts offered to our Club Members before marketing to new clients. 

Along with many benefits, you will enjoy the peace of mind of having your maintenance completed on annual basis thus ensuring your home comfort system is operating at peak efficiency as well as extending the life of your system and maintaining the warranty of your operating system. This membership can be set up for hot water heaters, air exchangers, fire places (natural gas, propane and oil) furnaces (electric, propane, natural gas, oil), boilers (electric, natural gas, oil), and heat pump systems (Geothermal, Ducted and Ductless), as well as electrical and plumbing services. Participants with a heat pump system, have an extra maintenance visit (one in “heating season” and one in “cooling season”) at no extra charge. 

As a Comfort Club Member your monthly investment starts at $16.99 (tax included). For each additional piece of equipment added to you Club Membership your cost would be $4.99 (tax included). These payments can be set up to be withdrawn automatically from your credit card or your bank account with a void cheque. 


Keeping a healthy operating system will not only show in power savings it will also reflect in the longevity of your equipment. As always if there are any plumbing issues that may arise don't hesitate to give me a call at 261-3603. 

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Every year as soon as the hot weather hits, people start turning their heat pumps and air conditioners on, and each year we get the same service calls; frantic customers on the other end on the phone explaining how they have water currently flooding their basement that seems to be coming from the furnace. A service tech is dispatched and usually comes across the same typical issues with each home. Water issues are common with heat pump/ ac units. Whenever a unit is set to cool, the natural process of cooling will remove moisture from it. Within the indoor air handler is the ac coil. This is the component of the system that actually removes heat from the air being circulated throughout the central air ducts. Air conditioning and refrigeration is exactly that - the removal of heat, not the addition of cold. While a system is in the cooling the mode and removing heat from the air inside your home, it's also removing moisture from the air. The moisture condenses to the coil much like the way moisture sticks to a mirror in a bathroom when you have a shower.

This moisture runs down the coil and is collected in a drain pan, as this accumulates the water then flows out into a drain line and either ends up dumping into a nearby floor drain or dumping into a condensate pump. A condensate pump simply collects the water being produced by the ac unit and once it's full automatically pumps the water out a hose to a desired location (typically outside the home or to another drain nearby.)

However, problems arise when regular maintenance is not being completed on these heat pump systems which can cause issues in the future. The first is usually the drain line itself, as the drain pan collects and holds water for a few months during the summer operation, scale, sludge can build up and cause issues. These build ups can move down into the drain line and at any point in the drain line cause a blockage. This results in water backing up into the drain pan where it collects as long as the unit is running. Eventually the pan will begin to overflow and water starts to flood the basement. Drain pan treatments and proper drain line/ drain pan cleanings during regular maintenance will help prevent these kinds of issue before they start.

Another type of water issue we run into on a regular basis is condensate pump failures. Using condensate pumps to move water is the most popular method for dealing with water produced in an ac unit. However they are not bullet proof. Like anything mechanical component, the risk for failure is always present however the key component is to take preventative measures by having regular annual maintenance. If water runs through a pump that has failed, the water will overflow and spill from the pump. And Murphy’s Law dictates these kinds of failures happen at the worst possible time; like when a homeowner is away on vacation for a week and comes home to find days’ worth of water damage in their home. The best way to stop a condensate from overflowing is to install it with a kill switch. A kill switch will shut the ac unit down and stop the heat pump from running. This will stop the water from being produced in the furnace and stop the ac from running.

If for some reason the pump fails and begins to overflow, the float switch inside the pump rises with the water and if the float gets too high because the pump isn't draining the water as it should, the float breaks an electrical signal between the thermostat and the furnace itself that will result in the unit shutting down. Although your air conditioning may stop working, this kill switch will prevent flooding and ensure your operating system and home are protected. For further information on how to have this kill switch installed please contact us. We'd be happy to assist!

Given the significant amount of snowfall we’ve experienced over the past week or so I felt it was important to stress checking your outdoor unit during and after each storm for snow build up. The outdoor and indoor units both require airflow across the coils in order to pick up heat and bring it into your home. If the outdoor unit gets buried in snow it will prevent air from flowing across the coil and reduces the amount of heat the system is able to produce. It will cause your system to work harder, using more energy and eventually it will get to the point where the unit will shut down completely ending in a billable service call to fix the issue. The main idea of a heat pump is to save money on heating costs and all of these things will cost you money. This situation is easily avoided by ensuring that your outdoor unit is clear around the sides, underneath as well as on top. 

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Do you have a forced air system? 

Do you find some rooms colder than others in the winter months, or warmer than other when air conditioning? 

Although such problems may require re positioning duct work, or adding booster fans -- the first thing to check is that the duct work is balanced and balanced differently for the two different seasons.

The fan from a forced air furnace puts out a specific quantity of air.  That air flow is divided between all of the output grills in the house.  Every elbow, length of pipe or change in size in the duct work creates resistance to air flow. Any change in any part of the system affects all the other parts of the system simply because they are sharing the flow from one single source fan in the furnace.

Every room in the house has its own heating or air conditioning needs.  This means that you do not want the same flow of air into each room. That sunny south facing room needs less heating air than a colder north facing room, but during air conditioning it requires more cooling than that cooler north facing room.  That also means that the same furnace fan and same duct work needs to work differently in the winter than the summer! 

Balancing a system is not a difficult task but may take a bit of tweaking in order to get it where you want it. Some duct systems have dampers built into each round duct run, these are basically a plate with a handle attached inside your round ducts. If the handle is positioned to point across the duct, that plate will block off almost all air flow through this duct.  If the handle is pointed somewhere in-between, it will restrict the air flow more or less. Not all homes have these damps and will require you to make adjustments at the register itself. A homeowner is better suited to balance both their heating and air conditioning air flow than a professional simply because they live in the house and can fine tune it over a period of time.  A professional will get it basically right, but constant tweaking will make it really comfortable.  I find it best to make a change and live with it for a few days before making another change.  Given the time of year we are doing this I’ll explain the best way for balancing in the winter. The same can be said for air conditioning, instead of trying to get a room warm enough you are trying to get it cool enough. Before starting check to make sure your air filter is clean.  To begin this process start by opening all floor registers and duct dampers wide open.  Now completely close off a couple of the ducts feeding rooms you have never had problems with. And now we wait.  Leave everything as is for a couple days. See if once cool rooms are now warmer. Or even if once warm rooms feel cooler.

 

Now we can start to fine tune some. Any rooms that are to cool we can open the register or damper some. Any room that is warmer than others close that register off some.  Don’t make too many chances or large changes all at once. Make a couple then leave it for a couple more days.  After week of this you should have everything balanced to the best of your ability. If you still have a room or two that are still to chilly you may require more or different size ducts to that room. Once you have it done take a marker and mark on dampers with marker so you can easily set it back there next winter as come summer you will want to do the process over again to suit your air conditioning needs.  

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Electrical Panel Safety

Have you ever had your electrical panel inspected?

Just like the rest of you home, your electrical panel needs a little TLC to keep you and your family safe.  When performing an inspection on your panel rule number one is call a certified electrician. Any certified electrician should be able to provide you with the proper certification card. Residential electrical is a red seal trade and contractors that have this certification are more than happy to show it off.

Below is a list of things that I check during a routine electrical panel inspection:

-          Wires – I look at all the wires attached to the panel, checking for heat damage and cracks. I check all wire connections to ensure everything is tight and connected properly. LOOSE WIRES CAUSE FIRES!!!!

-          Breakers – Overtime breakers get old and worn. They also may heat up. This is a sign that they are on the verge of failing. If they are not making a proper connection with the buss bar this will cause arcing and can be a potential fire hazard just like loose wires. I also check the size of the breaker compared to the load on it. It is very important that the breaker and wire are sized properly to compliment the load. All breakers should be of the same manufacturer as the panel they are in. Fire inspectors will look for this and it could potentially void your fire insurance.

-          Grounding/Bonding – It is extremely important that your electrical panel be properly bonded.

-          Holes and Covers – Having the proper covers on your panel and all holes capped is a huge safety issue. To keep little hands, dust and Mickey Mouse out.

This is just a few of many things I look for in a panel to keep your home and family safe.

Until next time, keep safe and have fun!!

 

John Moir (Red Seal Electrician) 

When you hear the word “coil” used in reference to your heat pump system, there are actually two located in every heat pump. One is located inside the house, the other outside the house. The outdoor coil is referred to as the “Condenser Coil” and the indoor is called the “Evaporator Coil”. This will be important to note further into the discussion. Another important fact to note is that both of these coils have fans that blow air across them. The outdoor fan is normally called the “Condenser Fan Motor” while the indoor fan is usually referred to as your “Indoor Blower Motor”. Both coils are in charge of transferring heat by way of air movement. The easiest way to think of coils is by looking at them as a sponge. When you have your thermostat set to cool and the system is pumping out cool air in the summer time, The evaporator coil is acting much like a sponge does but instead of absorbing water it’s absorbing heat. This sponge is soaking up the heat directly from your home with the help of the indoor blower motor which is moving air through the evaporator coil. The heat is then carried by the refrigerant in the refrigeration lines (Those copper lines you see) to the outdoor condenser coil. This is where the “sponge” is being squeezed releasing all the heat outside that it soaked up inside the home. Again we have the condenser fan motor to help move this heat out and keep the coil from getting too hot so that it can keep releasing heat from the home. When your system is in heating mode the exact opposite is happening. The condenser coil outside becomes the sponge that absorbs heat even down to temps as low as -30 for some systems. Now the evaporator coil inside the home is releasing the heat that was absorbed outside using the indoor blower motor to circulate air over it and carry the heat off into the house.  As technicians we are always looking for ways to improve how efficiently we can make your heat pump work. One of the most important things in keeping your unit running efficiently is to keep both of these coils as clean as possible. Depending on how dirty these coils get it can greatly reduce their ability to absorb, transfer and reject heat. Most condenser coils will plug up with just about anything flying around in the air outside. Pine needles, leaves, dust, pollen, grass and weeds are all things that can reduce the condensers ability to rid itself of the heat absorbed from the house or absorb the heat from outside. As for the indoor coil, dust circulating around in the air that will make it back to your coil is the major concern. Luckily most units come with filter racks that will hold air filters to help reduce the amount of dust that makes it to the coil. The frequency with which your filter is changed and the quality of the filtration system you have will greatly affect how much dust will eventually make it to the coil and reduce the ability for the evaporator to either absorb or reject heat.

 Over a long enough period of time, regardless of quality of air filtration, every coil will need to be cleaned. Other factors that will also add large quantities of dust to your homes air are the number of people living in the home, number of pets, renovation projects and proximity to high traffic or dirt roads. When it comes time that the efficiency of a coil is being reduced because of dirt or dust build up then it becomes crucial that the coil is cleaned. Most times with the indoor portion this requires access to the underside of the coil. Sometimes removal of the coil or adjacent duct work is needed to gain access to areas of the coil that will need to be cleaned. The cleaning itself is done by various methods that could include blowing out the coil with compressed air or nitrogen (usually more readily available to a service tech) or a foaming coil cleaner is used to get into the coil and push dust from the inside out.  The same can be done with the outdoor condenser coil. Most times the top fan housing needs to be removed so leaves and debris sitting in the bottom of the unit can be removed. Depending on the type of buildup on the outdoor unit, a mild acidic solution is used to break up any material that doesn't readily break up and was off the coil. Proper annual maintenance is a great way to stay on top of how dirty your air coils are getting and is a great way to ensure you’re getting the most bang for your buck from your heat pump. 

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Let’s talk about indoor air quality.

 Did you know that the air inside your home can be 2 to 10 times more polluted than the air outside ?

Studies show that 98% of airborne particles are less than 1 Micron in size. What is a Micron you ask ? As measurements go a Micron is the equivalent of 1/25,400 of an inch. To put that into perspective think about a human hair which is equal to 100 microns.

 These small particles can be dangerous as we breathe them in so they have been broken down into 3 elemental levels to help identify which ones are the most dangerous and find solutions to help make the air in your home safe for your family.

 Elemental Level 1 - This level includes particles such as dust, mold, mildew, tobacco smoke, wood smoke, vehicle exhaust, dust mites and the list goes on but you get the idea.  All of these are classified as Allergens and Particulates and they can cause health problems when we breathe them in such as nose/throat irritation, asthma flare ups, congestion, coughing/wheezing and runny nose.  This level is primarily controlled by HVAC air filtration systems such as the Electrostatic Micro Power Guard Filtration system which can be installed on any central HVAC system and will remove 98% of all airborne particulates.

 Elemental Level 2 - This level includes bacterial infections such as Tuberculosis, Legionella, Streptococcus and Pneumococcus.  It also includes viral infections such as Influenza, Pneumonia and Common Cold Viruses.  These are classified as infectious agents and can cause more serious health effects when we breathe them in such as throat and ear infections, Pneumonia, Bronchitis and upper respiratory infections.  There are a few options that can help us gain the upper hand here, the best option being an Oxy Quantum UV system.  This system also helps with the elements contained in level 3.

 Elemental Level 3 - This level is classified as Toxic Compounds and contains things like Carbon Monoxide, Pesticides and Toxic Mold particles. These items can cause even more serious health effects such as Memory loss, mild depression, lung dysfunction, blurred vision and headaches. 

 The Problem - Since the early 1970’s we have been sealing up our homes to conserve energy which sure seems like a great idea right? Keep your heat and A/C in and save money right? But by keeping all this in we’ve also prevented things like the toxic compounds found in carpet, building materials and cleaning chemicals from leaving our homes naturally.

The Solution- Now that we know what is in the air that can harm us, let’s talk solutions. 

Issues in level 1 are easily solved by having and maintaining proper filtration. The Micro Power Guard Filtration system is one of the best air filtration systems on the market today, when properly installed it removes up to 98% of all airborne particles from the air you breathe. Simply by having one installed and changing the filters every 3 months (4 times a year) you can dramatically improve the quality of the air your breathe.

 The good news is for levels 2 and 3 one system can help resolve all these issues, The Oxy Quantum UV.  How does this system work ? I’m glad you asked and I’ll try not to get to scientific in my explanation.  Ultraviolet energy and ozone are not naturally present in our indoor air environment like they are outside which makes our indoor environment the perfect breeding ground for microorganisms such as mold, bacteria and fungi.  Without nature’s control, these organisms thrive in damp basements, crawl spaces, furnaces and ductwork.  The Oxy Quantum system contains two ultraviolet light bulbs installed in your duct work.  As the air passes over and around these bulbs the harmful particles are either neutralized or altered which prevents them from causing the negative health effects that I mentioned before. This system runs in complete silence so it is not an intrusive device by any means, it is also the most powerful residential system available on the market today.  

 

 TECHNICIAN TIP:  As a side effect to all the great benefits this system has, as a technician I enjoy the fact that on an HVAC system with an Oxy Quantum unit installed all I have to do is turn out the lights to locate any air loss points or holes in the duct work. This makes it easy for me to seal them up and ensure your no loosing valuable heating or cooling. 

 

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I speak from experience on this one as I have experienced the struggle most contractors face and almost lost my business back in 2008. I, unlike most contractors chose to learn from my mistakes rather than repeat the tragedy over and over as many do. I decided to take some business courses to turn this ship around and guess what?? It worked!! I now have a growing company in a down turned economy.  I enjoy more time with my family than ever, I pay and treat my team well so they can provide their families with a good life and I am able to give back to the community. Total 180 from where I was back in 2008.

What is the biggest Challenge for Most Contractors??

Simple, they don’t know how to run a business!! I will tell my story as I speak for 99% of the contractors out there. I started in the trade working for my father in 1989 when I was 14 yrs old, I loved the trade! When I graduated high school in 1993 I decided to go see how it was to work for other contractors. I went to work for a company in Oshawa Ontario and within 5 yrs I had gone as far as I could go as a HVAC installer and was maxed out for the income they would pay. I decided to start my own company sub-contracting work from that same company as well as doing emergency service for the gas company in the evenings. In 2002 I was offered some work to build a company in Fredericton, NB. My wife and I immediately fell in love with Fredericton. This was home!! The company that sent me downdecided to pull out and close the business months later. We decided to continue on serving their clients and building our own, never looking back. The challenge?? I don’t know how to run a business! I am just a HVAC installer (damn good one!). This is where the problem lies with 99% of contractors!

How do I price myself??

So I am on my ownHow do I price myself?? I know I will charge what everyone else is charging! Maybe even lower if things are slow, I will get all the work because I am the best HVAC installer ever! This is the way I was thinking and this is the way that majority of the contractors think. Guess what?? It doesn’t work!! The crazy thing is most contractors never figure this out!

Who suffers because the contractor that is underpriced?

One of 2 suffers, either the client or the contractor. You see, we can’t pay our bills and often even ourselves in this situation. Our options are cut corners or don’t pay ourselves. Those with integrity will not pay ourselves and the ones with out will cut corners and take advantage of their clients. Not good!! Every day we see this in the way of phone calls from clients abandoned by their contractors, stuck holding their 10 year parts and labourwarranties and a system that doesn’t work because the contractor is out of business or won’t return their calls. Very frustrating for everyone and it gives the trades a bad reputation. You wouldn’t believe how some clients talk to our people on the phone out of rage towards other contractors, it’s unbelievable. feel  bad for them some days as these calls generally come in during our busiest time (hottest and coldest day of the year). Thank you Rosanne!! You are amazing at what you do!

What happens to the underpriced contractor?

Well, it isn’t pretty believe me! After 6 years of struggling I had borrowed everything I could and I owed the suppliers over$200,000. I was at rock bottom! I had 2 choices; file bankruptcy and start the cycle over again or I could figure out how I went wrong and dig myself out of this mess. I choose the 2nd option and went looking for help. Now that I had been through the school of hard knocks I decided to seek out a new school! Hard Knocks sucks and I graduated with honors!!

Is there Help?

Yes there is!! I Found Contractors Success Group International, I am a Part of AirTime 500 under that SGI group and I have learned how to run a business the right way. We are now a profitable company, almost out of the $200000+ hole we were in and have a large following of happy and loyal clients. Life is great! Unfortunately for other HVAC contractors in Fredericton I am the only one who can be a part of AT500 but there are lots of other sources out there that can help. If you search you will find them. If you like give me a call, I would be happy to help.

What does it take to be successful??

Throw on the blinders! Don’t watch or even care how the other contractors are priced because they are on the way down that deep dark hole towards bankruptcy. Spend your time focused on yourself and your clients. Who cares what the competition is doing, chances are they’re failing. Price yourself properly you will be more than your competition but as long as you do they best you can and take care of all the mistakes you will be fine.There is lots of work for everyone. Hello, there is a shortage oftrades people!! Don’t get me wrong it is still a very tough game but if you want to be successful pricing yourself properly is not an option.

How do you get the work if you cost way more?

Simple! It is incredible how simple, natural and basic this is! Listen to the client, provide the best possible service they need, deliver what you promise and if you screw up, go fix it for them! Fast and free!! Nobody is perfect believe me, but one thing I have learned is word spreads faster from a unhappy client then it does from a happy one.

Imagine, price yourself properly, do what is right for the client and be successful? Unbelievable how well it works, try it!

Here is to raising the bar in the contracting industry!!

 

In the aftermath of Hurricane Arthur and the increasing frequency of power outages alot of people are talking about generators.  Every home has different needs when the power is out. Some have bigger loads compared to others. For example a home outside the city limits requires a water pump which relies on power unlike a home within city limits that has its water supplied to it by a pumping station and would only be affected should the pumping station lose power. Another example would be a home that heats water with natural gas. It does so with a minimal load compared to a home that heats water with electricity.

When investing in a home generator think of all the power requirements you and your home need to survive an outage. Depending on your needs there are many options from the very basic to the whole home automatic start generator. Some things to consider are:

- Will you require heat ?
- Will you require water ?
- Will you need hot water ?
- Will you need to supply a cooking source ?
- What type of fuel will be readily available ?
- What do you need to be comfortable during an outage ?
- Does anyone in your family have health issue that require a power source ?

Generators can operate a wide variety of fuels including gas, diesel,  propane and natural gas. When deciding which of these sources is best you should take into account cost and availability.  Can I get it ? Can I afford to get it ?

All of these things should be taken into consideration when choosing the size and type of generator to best suit your needs.

Now with all the lessons we've all learned from Arthur it's time to think of what you need to keep you and your family safe and comfortable during the next outage.

               Cheers,
                    John Moir
                    (Red Seal Electrician)

Nitrogen purging. Brazing . Evacuation.
 
  When installing a mini split or central heat pump system there are going to be several very important steps followed by the installation team. Most of these steps will be a determining factor on how well the heat pump performs and the length of time the heat pump performs for. 
  
  Let's look at brazing first. Brazing is in a lot of ways not much different from soldering. Instead of solder being used to connect and seal pipes together we use a material called sil-fos.  It's melting point is much higher then solder so we have to use an acetylene torch to achieve higher temperature for connecting copper heat pump pipes. Aside from common piping practices such as sanding joints and reaming , whenever we raise the temperature of the copper to brazing standards it starts to oxidise. This leaves flakes of carbon on the outside and more importantly the inside of our copper pipes. These flakes are then able to circulate within the system until they reach a component they can plug or if your lucky a filter that will hold then back. To stop this oxidation from happening we purge our copper lines with  small amounts of dry nitrogen. This helps stop the flakes of carbon from forming on the inside of the pipe. Every joint brazed on a heat pump must have dry nitrogen running through them. Your only asking for problems with smaller components of the system like TX valves if purging is not done.
 
    One of the last crucial stages of a heat pump installation is called the evacuation .  Evacuation on a heat pump system refers to pulling all the air present in our coppers lines out via vacuum pump. A vacuum pump sucks all the air out of the copper lines and disperses it. As it begins to pull the air out , a vacuum is created inside the pipes. The longer the vacuum is pulled for typically the better the vacuum. If a vacuum is not pulled on the copper lines and air/moisture is allowed to circulate with the refrigerant , then the oil used to lubricate the compressor will begin to turn to acid. This causes early compressor failures.  If air is not present in the copper lines but different gases are such as nitrogen we use for purging, then because the nitrogen will not circulate throughout the heat pump system it becomes what we call a non-condensible.  Larger amounts of non-condensibles in a heat pump will cause efficiency loss. 
 
   The importance of these steps taken with purging, and evacuating heat pump systems cannot be overstated. 

Failure to perform each task properly will result in loss of efficiency , component or system failure.

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Due to the recent power outages over the province I would like to talk about surge protection.  In my opinion it's a good investment to protect all of your electronics with whole home surge protection or even your complete heat pump with unit surge protection. Surges result in a spike in voltage during power outages and lightening strikes. All electrical components on heat pumps in general are sensitive to voltage and the maximum voltage they can take is 253 volts.

In the event of a power outage and lightening strikes voltages can spike well above 253 volts. This can and most likely will burn out components on your heat pumps and we have already ran into multiple circuit boards burnt from not having surge protection. Whole home surge protection is a better choice for a ducted heat pump as it will protect your entire heat pump inside and out, but unit protection on a ductless mini split will protect the complete unit inside and out as well. No matter what you have surge protection would never be a bad investment.

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You may ask "why use a Digital Thermostat instead of a Mercury Thermostat?". Well for one digital Thermostats are much more accurate. They are generally a little more "user friendly" as well most have a back light and are easier to read then a Mercury Thermostat, and last but most important a digital thermostat contains no mercury. 

 

So everyone knows a thermostat is a device that regulates temperature right? You use your air conditioning and heating thermostat to control the temperature in your home to achieve your desired comfort. So why would you replace your mercury thermostat if there is nothing wrong with it?

Well besides the health risks, the sensitivity and accuracy of a Mercury Thermostat depends on the moving parts inside. A harsh movement, including accidentally bumping it too hard even while trying to adjust the temperature, can cause the parts in the thermostat to move. If this happens, your thermostat will no longer function properly. Your air conditioning and heating unit may not turn on or off when it is supposed to or turn on at all. What happens then? Well you call a technician to re-calibrate or replace your thermostat. Hopefully not at 3 am in the middle of January as is so often the case.

Another problem with the Mercury thermostat is that they can be inaccurate. When properly calibrated, Mercury Thermostats are usually not 100% exact; resulting in your air conditioning and heating system running longer than it needs to, wasting energy, and money. 

There are several benefits of having a digital thermostat. Digital Thermostats contain no mercury. Not only is this safer for you, it also helps the planet by eliminating a part of the six to eight tons of mercury that end up in landfills each year (EPA estimate.)

 

Secondly, a Digital Thermostat contains no moving parts. This eliminates the need for a technician to come and recalibrate the thermostat. The most maintenance you would ever need to do to a digital thermostat is to replace the battery (Some models do not require batteries).

 

Digital Thermostats have the ability to save you money! Energy Star estimates that up to $200 each year could be saved on your energy bills because of the precision and accuracy of the Digital Thermostat. The thermostat knows exactly when to turn on the air conditioning and heating system in order to be the most efficient. There is no energy (or money) used that does not absolutely have to be used. You can get a Digital Thermostat that has the capability of being programmed. This allows you to set different temperatures for different times of the day or week.

 

Yes digital thermostats are a little more expensive to purchase but the savings can usually be recouped within a year.

Now let’s talk about the health and environmental risks associated with mercury. Mercury thermostats are made up of several moving parts which include a small glass vial that contains the mercury. These thermostats contain the highest amount of mercury found in ordinary household products!

Mercury is considered a poisonous heavy metal meaning devices containing mercury switches must be treated as hazardous waste and must be disposed of properly, not just thrown in the garbage.  It is especially harmful to your children because it can inhibit the development of the brain and nervous system.

However there are no health risks for homeowners when the thermostat hangs on the wall. But in the case of home demolition, fire or simply tossing the unit in the garbage, it’s a different story when it lands in the dump and the crushed glass vials that contain the toxic metal leach into the groundwater and contaminate rivers and lakes.

Older mechanical thermostats typically have between one and four mercury switches, each switch containing approximately 2.5 grams of the silvery liquid. I know what you’re thinking, “2.5 grams? Well that doesn’t sound like a lot” but one gram of mercury put into an eight-hectare (approx. 20 acres) lake will affect the lake for one year and the fish in that lake will be inedible. I don’t know about you but like most New Brunswickers I LOVE to fish and the thought of this happening to even one of our lakes was enough to make me change my thermostats from mercury to digital.

 

THE SOLUTION, The HRAI (Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada) has pioneered a program called “Switch the Stat” which focuses on recovering and recycling the mercury from thermostats no longer in use.  We are pleased to announce that E.T. Mechanical is a registered thermostat collection point for this program. As a company we have committed to properly dispose of any thermostat we remove during installation or replacement and invite you to drop off your old thermostats so that HRAI can recover as much of this mercury as possible and keep it out of our environment. If you’re not sure if they contain mercury, better safe than sorry bring it by our office and let us dispose of it for you (No Charge). 

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You do need to have regular maintenance on your heat pump
 
Despite what some may say, it is important to have regular maintenance on your heat pump system in order to keep the efficiency up and to maintain the warranty
 
 Heat pumps require a check up just as your car or you own body. You wouldn't drive your car without having the oil changed and a check up so why do we let our heating/cooling system ‎run years without servicing it. We spend more time in our home then we do in our car and some of our heat pumps were a larger investment then our car. So it only makes sense. 
 
This is what should be checked on your heat pump maintenance 
 
The cleanliness needs to be checked. In fact 1/20 of an inch of dust built up on the heating coil and the blower wheel is equivalent to 26% efficiency loss, and isn't this the reason we purchased the heat pump in the first place? 
 
Also electrical connections need to be checked and tightened as loose connections can cause arching which causes power consumption and heating of the connections which can eventually melt and cause damage.
 
The outdoor heat pump needs to be inspected for ice/snow build up, defrost operation, and coil cleanliness this all affects the performance and longevity of the heat pump.
 
Most people think that a heat pump maintenance is changing/cleaning the filter. This is important, but it's only the beginning.
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     Imagine a heating and cooling system for your home that would keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter, cut your heating costs by up to 75% and hot water costs by up to 40%, and still be environmentally conscious at the same time. Sounds like a tall order doesn't it? Not only does this advanced heating and cooling system already exist but thousands of Canadians are already reaping the benefits. 

Geothermal systems use small amounts of electricity to transfer heat to and from the ground to your home. On average, it can produce four units of energy for every unit of electricity used to power the system. Even the best conventional systems deliver less than one unit of energy for each unit it consumes. Homeowners typically experience an annual savings of up to 75% when compared to ordinary systems.

Lower Utility Bills: Homeowners using Geothermal units typically realize energy savings of up to 75% over conventional heating methods (ie. Gas, Oil, Electric) or heat pump systems. In fact, a typical 2000 sq. ft. home can be heated and cooled for as little as $1 a day, Did he just say $1/day?, Yeah that just happened.

In addition, a geothermal system can supplement the homes conventional water heater, saving up to 40% of hot water costs every year. 

Environmental Impact: Myself, being raised in New Brunswick I know that we as Maritimer's love our environment. Our forests not only provide jobs in our province but they provide some of the most beautiful scenery and are a source of pride for everyone living in our great province. These are some of the reasons that Geothermal systems are becoming more and more popular. These systems are widely recognized as the most environmentally-safe, cost effective heating and cooling systems on the market today. Installing a geothermal system is the equivalent to planting 1 acre or 750 trees or taking 2 cars off the road. I know that doesn't sound like much but think about the result if everyone had one of these systems.

Positive Cash Flow: Geothermal systems tend to have a higher installation cost when compared to conventional systems because of the buried loop system. Some homeowners view the system as being too expensive and fail to see the "Bigger Picture". Geothermal will produce significantly lower utility bills and annual maintenance costs. The initial cost of a geothermal system can be tied into your monthly mortgage payment or other form of low interest financing option. The savings on your utilities will, more often than not, cover the increase in your loan payment giving you the extra cash flow. A system will usually pay for itself within a five to ten year span.

Hot Water Savings: As a side effect of normal operation, geothermal systems can produce some or all of your hot water at a much higher level of efficiency than ordinary methods. A simple connection is made so the system can deliver hot water to be stored in your hot water heater. In fact, the heat removed from your home during the cooling process can in some cases be deposited directly to the water heater instead of the ground. This provides you with an extremely low cost method of producing hot water.

Clean & Safe: Geothermal units do not use fossil fuels such as natural gas, propane and oil. Threats caused by combustion are eliminated. Meaning no worries about flames, fumes, odors, leaks or toxic off gases such as carbon monoxide. This is normally enough to provide you peace of mind in knowing your home is a safe and clean environment for your family.

Improved Comfort: Geothermal systems heat and cool homes evenly, eliminating the hot and cold blasts of air associated with conventional systems. These units will also dehumidify the air during hot summer months.

Quiet: Due to the lack of an outdoor unit a geothermal system is much quieter, meaning no unsightly equipment or loud noise in your backyard to disturb you or your neighbors. As technology improves the noise level from the indoor unit is also reduced. Today they operate at a noise level comparable to a refrigerator or freezer. 

System Life Span: Ordinary systems require expensive regular maintenance for each unit - the furnace, the air conditioner, and the water heater. When properly installed, a geothermal system requires little or no maintenance beyond periodic checks and filter changes. Equipment life is prolonged since the unit is located indoors and out of the harsh climate and weather we so often enjoy in the Maritimes. A geothermal system will typically last between 20-30 years if properly installed and maintained. 

The bottom line? If your focus is saving money and reducing your impact on the environment then geothermal is the option for you. I hope this helps anyone considering a geothermal system for their home, if you have any questions or are interested in more information feel free to contact our office anytime!!

 

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When installing a heat pump there are 100s of factors to be considered. Most clients and many contractors aren’t aware of the crippling effects of improper airflow through a system’s ductwork. 

A Heat Pump’s airflow is commonly overlooked when considered for retrofit to a home. Clients can expect lackluster results from their savings and efficiency without proper flow. Results from the system will be affected without consideration of the new system’s airflow needs.

Unless the ductwork has been designed for a heat pump, changes usually have to be made.

Traditional systems – Oil or Electric for example – Require far less airflow, as they produce much hotter heat. Heat pumps however, produce much lower levels of heat and by contrast require more airflow. Without the airflow, the energy produced by the heat pump (either heating or cooling) can’t be moved away from the system and comfort and efficiency is lost. 

When changing from a traditional system ductwork changes are usually necessary. To determine the modifications needed, the size and distribution ability of the existing ductwork is measured and then compared with the new planned system’s requirements. This measurement will indicate the maximum amount of air that can pass through the ductwork, and allow for a plan to be constructed of necessary changes.

Not considering the need for extra airflow with an existing system will have consequence: 

  • Loud whistling sound from the ductwork whenever the system is used 
  • System may be sized appropriately, but can’t reach temperature
  • The system constantly freezes and ceases function – inside or out
  • The system doesn’t work on the hottest or coldest days of the year
  • The system doesn’t provide energy savings, or provides less than possible
  • The system runs longer or at a higher capacity than necessary.
  • Uneven distribution of heating or cooling throughout the home
  • Premature Failure of the compressor (the heart of the system)
  • Premature failure of the blower motor
  • And much more!

When in a home your contractor should perform measurements and calculations – taking into account the size of your heat pump, and the ductwork necessary to get all of the energy out of the heat pump. Without proper airflow, comes improper operation. 

Sometimes computer programs are used that tells exactly the changes that have to be made. Then the contractor will allow for the installation team to discuss the placement of the changes that must be made. This way the contractor can come prepared, and the client gets the results that they want.

For homes that have limited ducting (like older oil, or wood systems) it can often require a separate meeting once purchased – the contractor can further decide the placement of the previously calculated ductwork to ensure success for the client, it’s that important! 

A good contractor should make this process easy, and explain his plan in achieving best results from the system – and what changes need to be made.