How To Maintain Heating and Air Conditioning Units

hvac contractorA good HVAC system is the key to maintaining a health environment in your home. Through the years many people ask about a technique to reduce their cost of energy and HVAC. They don’t want to sacrifice the comfort of their living environment, however they do want a-point-by-point plan to follow. The great thing that often happens may be that energy bills are diminished by quite a bit and the HVAC system efficiency is enhanced. This is a standard part of anyone specializing in energy and HVAC.

Optimization of The System

Step one to achieving system optimization is to reduce the load. This step normally consists of a well thought out plan itemizing required sets to take based on best return on your investment. Reducing the system load will allow it to operate properly. If a new system or systems are now being considered, it is going to be more economical to design for a load reduction versus the existing load. A few common load reduction strategies include:

1. Look at the building’s exterior and add additional insulation. Adding insulation in existing buildings is probably not achievable in some instances, so more deliberation should be aimed at the outside shell, especially doors and windows.

2. Putting in energy-efficient windows. This can be a very expensive for some properties that have single pane windows. The replacement of double pane glazed windows with a temperature break is a wonderful return on investment (roi). Make sure they’re ENERGY STAR qualified windows. Tinting or Low-E coatings may even be better.

3. Updating lighting systems. The average industrial building has a lighting density of 2-3 watts per square foot which maintains proper lighting levels. That is a significant part of an HVAC system load and almost any efforts to optimize this specific area will reduce the cooling requirement for the structure. Vanity lights (sometimes called architectural lighting) are not guaranteed to be power efficient and should not be looked at if you wish to reduce energy and HVAC costs. Energy-efficient lighting systems discharge less heat into air conditioned space than older incandescent technology. If you have a return air plenum instead of return air ductwork, consider light troffers in order that some heat from the illumination is returned to the HVAC system instead of bleeding into the occupied areas.

4. Choosing efficient equipment and electronic devices that have the power saver option will reduce the heat gain within the space. Items to think about include copiers, food processors, personal computers and refrigerators.

5. Control ventilation by having your outside air balanced. Many building owners have blueprints of the original HVAC system installation. Have those drawings reviewed by a mechanical engineer to verify your air flow rates conform to the latest code standards. If no blueprints are available, your contractor should still be capable of suggesting tips for enhancement.

Handling these things is your first step to decreasing energy and HVAC overhead.

HVAC Systems

The second step to achieve energy and HVAC system optimisation is knowing it. Your HVAC system is critical for a comfortable setting, it also represents a big component of your utility expenses. Even though it is beyond the scope of this article to debate every system, a few suggestions could be discussed. Every system component has increased in efficiency over the years. If your system is older than 13 years old, it is time to begin planning for upgrading. Properly serviced residential systems have a life span of around fifteen years or so, but appear to fail at the worse times. Have a plan in place for when your equipment does fail.

Commercial systems vary, but when your building is using specially designed systems, a similar lifetime can be expected. For industrial or large business systems, the HVAC system could also be more advanced and require an individual analysis using a contractor. As I stated earlier, These types of systems will vary and no one-size-fits-all analysis works best for a custom system. What all these systems have in common is they’re often driven by electrical energy. Electricity is expensive, so any improvement toward better performance is a bonus.

HVAC System Ideas:

Find a qualified HVAC contractor you trust. If you are a home owner or small commercial building owner, find a good HVAC company or technician to assess and work on the system. Assuming you are a large commercial building owner, locate a commercial HVAC contractor for normal upkeep and a trusted contractor for third party guidance. We do advise against using someone who works for the HVAC Company; find a 3rd party company for impartial information.

Validate your HVAC system load. Industrial buildings have more complex settings regarding code conformance, ventilation rates, etc and therefore are individual to every building.

Choose equipment rated for the load. DO NOT OVERSIZE! More-is-better does not apply for HVAC systems. It is going to cost more to buy the equipment as well as use it. Get the load and the equipment selection right the first time.

Purchase high efficiency or Energy Star equipment. Most of the newer systems come with variable speed units for fans and compressors. Through your years of ownership this is paid back repeatedly. If you compare standard efficiency equipment to high efficiency equipment in terms of the installation cost and running expenditure. Any good HVAC company or mechanical engineer will know this.

Consider some kind of power recapture for any air exhausted from the place and use it to condition the inbound air. That is the air you have paid for, so using a little of the energy before blowing it out it should be key.

For larger buildings, think about conditioning the outside air with a specialized exterior air unit. This will eliminate any problems with humidity control in many conditions. It will also increase comfort levels and allow for further equipment optimization.

Commercial complexes might want to consider equipment economizers. Most current city codes call for economizers on equipment larger than 15 tons in size. Often offered at a low initial cost during set-up, these units use fresh air from outside when the temperatures (or moisture) outside is less than the inside temperature.

Both home owners and small business owners should think about installing programmable thermostats. Commercial buildings should install a custom digital control system. This type of investment will more than pay back the price in a short time.

Different Types o Control Systems

The third step to achieve system optimization is to control your system.

Programmable Thermostats: One of the best investments for the homeowner is a programmable thermostat. These are simple to use and incorporate strategies based on a schedule. Most manufacturers provide seven day programs which can control the HVAC system timing and or climate settings. This is the best way to ensure the system is on only when necessary.

DDC Systems: For a large building, I consider this as a must have system. Installation costs are lower now and performance reliability has steadily increased. They can be incorporated into any system and expanded as needed. Some of the more accepted features of these solutions are optimized start/stop, a variety of zone controls, temperature sensing unit and ventilation control. A key benefit of these solutions is their capability to be scaled up to the largest of commercial applications. This means you’ll be able to install a something simple at first then increase the controls later to include everything. The payback is quick and really worth the investment.

Coil Cleaning: This is always a big item neglected by residential and commercial building owners. Condenser coils collect dirt and debris on their surfaces because they’re outdoors. This makes the compressor work harder and results in a higher refrigerant temperature in your refrigeration system. Dirty evaporator and heat coils circulate the dust and fibers inside the building. Clean them at least once a year

Ongoing Operations and General Maintenance

The fourth and last step to realize energy and HVAC system optimization is consistent upkeep. The most efficient systems are always serviced. You can ensure reliability, efficiency and a long life for the HVAC system by using these guidelines.

Find a professional consultant you trust. Find the best company or technician to evaluate and maintain your system. If you are a large building owner, find a commercial|an industrial} HVAC company for regular maintenance. Ensure you keep track of servicing with when they vist and what they did each time.

Home owners should always get a seasonal tune up. The operation of your system will vary depending on the season.

Change your air filters regularly. Don’t use anything less than a MERV 5 filter to make sure dust and fibers are removed. Dirty filters negate your savings and allow dust to pass through.

Summing it up

Optimizing your HVAC system will help to lower energy costs. A little time getting to know your system and familiarizing yourself with money sving methods will save money and increase the life span of your system.

Gutter Maintenance For The First Time Homeowner

Though most homes have gutters and down-pipes to collect rainwater and route it away from the building, in extremely heavy rainfall areas it is often not enough, having difficulty carrying the large volumes of rainwater deposited in short periods of time.

For homes with guttering and downpipes an annual inspection should be performed as a minimum, to ensure the guttering and downpipes are free of obstructions and in serviceable order.

Obstructions during periods of heavy rainfall can see household guttering retaining water rather than channeling it away, resulting in rain water running inside the house, damaging plaster walls, or become a fire hazard in summer time in bush fire prone areas.

Once comprising individual galvanized iron profiles manufactured to set lengths, today’s gutter and down-pipes are made from either continuous length Zincalume steel, Colorbond aluminium, or plastic, with the latter more prone to attack by UV rays than the first two.

Drainage Calculations

For guttering to be effective and prevent “ponding” a minimum gutter fall of 1 in 500 is recommended, with the depth and width of the channeling and profile suitable dictated by local rainfall conditions.

For standard family homeowners most building supply centers carry stock of pre-cut aluminium guttering lengths in a range of standard profiles for replacing small sections of a houses guttering, or for small extension projects, while for entire house replacement of guttering in Brisbane the entire process is generally performed onsite.

Many gutter repair companies are able to remove and replace a home’s gutters and down-pipes in less than a day, a truck onsite rolling out continuous guttering lengths of your desired profile, with one piece generally only required for each continuous, vertical surface.

Excessive Water Run Off

In areas of heavy rainfall, or where groundwater running towards the footings of a house result in excessive amounts of water, the construction of either a gutter channel or an agricultural (agi) drain, often called a soakage drain, will help prevent excessive water from damaging your foundations, and possibly leaching through to interior walls.

Ideally a drain will be about 200mm wide and 600mm to 900mm deep, with a layer of 20mm screened gravel covering to about 100mm below the ground surface. A layer of shade cloth or similar on top of the stone will help prevent soil seeping through the stone, with dirt being used to complete the backfill.

If you attempt to fix a gutter by yourself be sure to work safely. It can be very dangerous working on a ladder without using proper scaffolding or safety harness. If in doubt, it’s probably best too hire a local gutter specialist to take care any job you need done beyond your typical cleaning / maintenance work.

Plumbing Tips For Simple DIY Maintenance Jobs


Owning a home comes with many responsibilities, and one of the most important ones is making sure your home’s plumbing is in good working condition. Catching a problem early on can mean the difference between a quick simple fix and a big expensive plumbing disaster later down the road. At least once a year check for those leaks and run those faucets to make sure everything is OK and you won’t have to call for a plumber. Here’s a quick checklist of what to look for.

First thing to do is visually inspect all of your plumbing fixtures including your kitchen sink, bath tub, shower valves, toilet, and bathroom sink. Make sure everything is properly secured and aligned, with no leaks or rust. Flush the toilet and make sure the water does not continue to run. If after 3 to 5 minutes the toilet continues to run, that may be a sign of a slow leak.

Water pressure is another issue to watch out for. Run all the faucets in your home to make sure the water runs around 30 psi. If the water pressure is low, it could mean a dirty shower head or faucet, a clog, sediment buildup, or a problem with the aerator. Likewise, check all drains to make sure water drains away quickly and without any bubbling, which may require the service of a plumber. If you haven’t got a way  to check the water pressure, it’s a good idea to have that done for you by a pro every three or four years.

If you feel you are up for it, your water heater should be checked as well. If it’s one of the newer tankless water heater Vancouver, make sure all heating elements are working. If your water heater runs on gas, it’s a good idea to check for rust in the burner chamber. Also, the flame should be blue. A plumber’s help may be required for more advanced checks such as draining the water heater to examine the sediment level at the bottom. Also, if you have one of those on demand water heater Vancouver in your home it needs to be checked ever couple years for proper configuration.

If you have a basement, check the pipes going through it and into the rest of your home. This includes both water and sewer pipes. As with other pipes, check for leaks, tightness, or drips. If you smell sewer odors, this could mean you have a septic problem in which case you may need to call a plumber.

If left unchecked, there could be many potential plumbing problems waiting to happen when you least expect it. However, checking everything once a year can easily help prevent future disasters and visits from a plumber. If the time comes a professional’s help is needed you can rest assured that your plumber will have the experience, skills, and tools needed to solve your plumbing problems.

Plugged Toilet Story…

Plumbing problems, particularly overflow issues, are always annoying and always seem to come at the most annoying times.

This morning I was getting ready for work. I used the restroom, flushed the toilette, and left the room. I kept hearing the water running. Low and behold I walk back into the restroom and there is a pool of water on the floor and the toilet is still running.

Ah, the old “backed up toilet” problem. This is one that man will struggle with for centuries to come and the first man who totally fixes it will be filthy rich.

Until then, lets go over some solutions a person could use in order to overcome this most frustrating unhappy event. Hopefully, you can use one of these suggestions to avoid having to call a plumber out and in the process becoming $120 poorer in the process.

Get The Plunger

This is the first thing you want to do. Your toilet is clogged and and you want to use suction, caused by the rubber head of the plunger, to suction it out.

Make sure you insert the plunger into the toilet bowl in a position where you can get a good seal. The stronger the suction created; the better as more force is being applied to the item(s) that is stuck. Push up and down so you are creating a strong “pull” and a forceful flow of water to break through whatever is clogging up your toilet.

Time to Get The Snake

No, I am not talking about a dangerous animal.

I am talking about a tool that can be used to remove an obstruction that may be deep inside your sewer line. This item is also referred to as an auger.

Basically this tool is a pool with a flexible and somewhat long wire coil that can twist and turn and go fairly far inside a pipe or hole.

Slide the coil inside your toilet and begin twisting. The auger, or snake, is designed to break the clog apart or grasp it and pull it out. After you pull the main chuck out you want to flush the toilet as their are most likely little chunks left in their that you do not want to settle.


There are substances (like Drano) that are manufactured with the express purpose of clearing drains and toilets. They clear the pipe by basically dissolving the substance that is causing the obstruction.

Make sure that you look on the back of whatever drain cleaner you buy and make certain it is safe for porcelain (what your toilet is made from). Follow the recommended dosage found on the back of the bottle.

After several hours there is a good chance the item will have dissolved and you can flush the toilet. I like to wait as long as possible to make sure the object has been broken up.

These are your three basic options your typical can take, without any professional plumbing knowledge, to solve a backed up toilet.

If you try one or a combination of the three suggestions just mentioned and it does not work then you have a more serious problem. You will have to call a professional plumber. Hopefully it will not be too bad or too expensive.

Sponsored by

K.C.’s Plumbing and Heating Ltd
1896 Kingsway
Vancouver, BC V5N 2S7
(604) 873-3753

HVAC and Heat Pumps

What the Heck is HVAC? HVAC stands for heating, ventilating and air conditioning, and it’s all about the use of technology to provide a satisfactory indoor climate. This includes a comfortable air temperature along with healthy air quality.

HVAC and You

The ‘heating’ part we all understand as most of us – at least up here in Canada – need some kind of heater to keep us warm. Most often that is a forced-air furnace, typically one that burns natural gas or oil, although more and more electrically-fired furnaces are popping up. There are even wood-burning furnaces, some of which include an electric heating element in case the wood supply doesn’t last.

Ventilation is very important, too, as it helps control the temperature in our homes and offices. But it is also critical in replenishing the oxygen we breathe, removing excess moisture and controlling odours and bacteria in that air.

Though you may laugh at the thought of air conditioning in Canada, each year more and more people want it in their homes. Of course, almost all of our business and commercial buildings have been air conditioned for decades now. And, with the increasing temperatures that climate change is bringing, air conditioning will be much more common in the very near future.

Things Just Get Better and Better

Technology is amazing and we all benefit from the vast improvements it has brought when it comes to HVAC. Today’s furnaces use far less fuel than before and they are more compact and quieter, too. Automated thermostats lower temperatures at night for us, warming our homes up in the morning before we get out of bed. And many new homes now have carbon monoxide detectors, a life-saving and inexpensive technology that just wasn’t available in the past.

One of the reasons for the increase in popularity of air conditioning is the heat pump. First popularized as an efficient way to control year-round comfort in American and Japanese homes in the 1950s, heat pumps have benefited greatly from new technology.

Why You Should Consider a Heat Pump

In the early days of the heat pump, they were large, expensive and typically used buried pipes to extract heat from the ground (in winter) or to transfer heat to the ground (in summer). 21st century heat pumps are smaller and cheaper than ever before and therefore are a real alternative to other heating systems. The big advantage is that they provide heat in winter and cool air (air conditioning) in summer. And many now accomplish both of those functions by exchanging thermal energy (heat) from the outside air, meaning no more expensive, buried pipes. And, yes…they work in winter! You can feel the difference between +5 degrees and -10 degrees, and that is because air at -5 degrees has more thermal energy in it. Modern heat pumps can actually extract that heat and use it to heat your home!

All the brand names of furnaces you have known for years now make heat pumps, including Trane, Lennox, Carrier, LG, Rheem and so on. For more information on how a heat pump can benefit your new home or fit in with upcoming renovations, contact a good HVAC contractor. One such business in the Vancouver area is Pioneer Plumbing & Heating.

HVAC Maintenance

Just as in days of old, furnaces and heat pumps need maintenance and – occasionally – repair. Avoiding high repair costs as well as inconvenience is the goal of scheduled maintenance and something you should talk about with a representative from Pioneer Plumbing & Heating.

In fact, when it comes to maintenance and repair of any kind of heating system, as well as sales, installations and advice, the friendly professionals at K.C.’s can help anyone in the Metro Vancouver area.

Pioneer Plumbing & Heating Inc
626 Kingsway
Vancouver, BC V5T 3K4
(604) 872-4946

Forced Air Furnace Facts

The forced air furnace is the most common appliance used to heat American homes. There are also oil and propane furnaces but gas is the most widely used. Furnaces work by burning fuel which is forced through a heat exchanger. The heat exchanger is designed with curved metal tubing which radiates heat as hot gases pass around the heat exchanger. These toxic gases are vented outdoors and sealed to prevent accidental poisoning.

In a forced air furnace, warm air is circulated through vents in your home. As the air passes over the heat exchanger it warms up and circulates through the house. The heat exchanger is sealed to keep the warm air separate from the toxic gases which are a by product of combustion.

Furnace Efficiency

Efficiency is measured by the AFUE rating, or annual fuel efficiency rating. This is the percentage of energy returned to your home as warm air.

Standard Furnaces have an AFUE rating of 80-85% Your typical standard furnace has one heat exchanger. This average rating of means that 15% – 20% of your energy is lost.

High-Efficiency Furnaces use a secondary heat exchanger to extract even more heat and can have ratings as high as 96% AFUE, which means an energy loss of only 4%. High-efficiency furnaces are now the preferred choice for furnace replacement and new construction.

Furnace prices these days are higher than before, but the energy savings makes up for it if the unit is fitted properly to the home and usage.

Look at Your Own Furnace

Older School Furnaces do not have blower fans and have very low efficiencies, as little as 30%. If your home has one of these ancient relics you might want to think about upgrading. The savings will be well worth the investment.

How A Furnace Can Turn Deadly

In furnace related deaths it is usually due to a cracked heat exchanger. Cracks occur over time as the burners turn on and off to regulate heat. Expansion and contraction fatigues the metal and causes cracks. A cracked heat exchanger is a serious issue, because even a small crack can release carbon monoxide gas, which is a silent odorless killer. For all of us, home safety is a major concern and should be taken seriously.


If you don’t know how to maintain your own furnace or air conditioning unit hire a professional to inspect, lubricate parts, check for damage, and tune it up. Another important test is for carbon monoxide leaks and safety of operation. Furnace tune-ups usually cost $50-100, but they can reduce your heating costs and guard against exposure to carbon monoxide.

Furnace Filters

Change or clean your filters on a regular basis. A dirty filter slows airflow and reduces efficiency which can result in higher heating costs, and could even damage the motor.

There are three types of filters:

1. Fiberglass filters are the cheapest, but the least efficient. If you have allergies consider spending a little more money on your furnace filters. They only block the largest particles allowing pollen and other particles like mold to pass through.

2. Washable electrostatic filters attract dirt and other matter with an electric charge. They only filter out about 15% – 20% and can be a chore to clean.

3. The pleated filter design is the best with more surface area and denser material. They last three times longer than cheap furnace filters and trap much more air borne allergens and dust.

Carbon Monoxide Alarms

A carbon monoxide alarm near your furnace can save your life. Two or more in your home is better, but make sure to have at least one installed in your home. Carbon monoxide gas is odorless and colorless, so the only way to avoid disaster is with an alarm. Replace existing alarms every five years.


A programmable thermostat will save money in the long run. Take a few minutes to set it up each season, so you can let it run. This will save energy by not heating your home when you’re at work for instance.


Check your heating vents for obstructions. With a clean vent system you will have better heat flow, which will save energy. If you have never done this you might consider bringing in a professional.

Make sure you hire a crew with proper equipment. It’s essential they use compressed forced air and industrial vacuums. Too many small operators scam home owners by pretending to clean your vents with a personal vacuum cleaner.

Outdoor Exhaust Vents

Every winter do an inspection of your intake and exhaust vents. If your vents become blocked, carbon monoxide can back up into the house, and the furnace could even shut down.

For a professional opinion on your heating system, call Efficient Furnace. They will address your concerns and let you know what’s needed for peak performance.

Forced Air Furnace Maintenance – Radiant Heat, and Boilers

When your furnace gives up and the house is cold, repairs can get quite expensive. Better to call a professional before that happens

Best And Safest Way To Unclog Drains

Clearing Drains With Boiling Water: Bad Idea

You’ve probably been told by some people that they pour boiling water, sometimes with baking soda added, down a slow drain.

In fact, it’s easy to find plumbing advice on the Internet that recommends this procedure. Well, that’s a bad idea for several reasons. If you’re a do-it-yourself plumber and you think  boiling water is okay for your home’s plumbing system, you need to read the rest of this article.

The Universal Plumbing Code

The UPC advises against the introduction of water hotter than 140 degrees Fahrenheit/60 degrees Celsius into a waste or vent system of any kind without some kind of cooling-off station.

Using enough boiling water sufficient to unclog a drain could damage your pipes. Unless you use a LOT of boiling water, it’s going to cool off  – to the point of being ineffective – as it flows down your plumbing system. Too much boiling water will distort drains and seals, leading to expensive problems.

Also, pouring boiling water down a porcelain fixture (toilet or sink) can fracture the fixture. You don’t want to have to deal with that now, do you?

Should You Use Baking Soda?

No! Baking soda is actually a kind of salt and it can be very bad for cast iron pipes and even plastic pipes.

Particularly dangerous is the practice of pouring a mixture of baking soda and boiling water down a drain after having uses a chemical drain cleaner. This can cause an explosive chemical reaction that would throw the boiling water and drain chemical back in your face, a most unpleasant experience sure to mean a trip to the hospital. So don’t run the needless risk of a severe scald or burn from steam or chemicals.

Hot Water Is The Answer

Hot tap water, that is – not boiling. As long as it’s below 140 degrees, you can use as much water as you want! If a couple of sinks full of hot water don’t unclog the drain, then it needs to be snaked. And, when you (or a plumber) put a cable in the drain, you won’t risk getting dangerous chemicals on you.

An Ounce Of Prevention

Running hot water down a drain once a week – or even monthly – can help to prevent drains from clogging in the first place. It softens up fats that build up on the pipe walls and will help keep the pipes clear. Even water at a lower temperature will help keep your drain clear – it just takes more of it. If this seems wasteful, consider how much more time and money you could waste or how using boiling water could result in a trip to the hospital.

So play it safe: no boiling water or soda goes down your drains! If lots of hot water doesn’t work, then try a plumber’s snake. If that doesn’t work, you’re probably better off to call a plumber at that point.

Local Plumbing Experts

copper piping
If you are completely new to the world of plumbing, then you are probably thinking that some tips on plumbing will help you immensely so that you can begin maintaining your own at home. Listed below are some tips to get you started with your home plumbing maintenance and repair.

Old Noisy  Pipes

If your pipes bang when you turn on the water, and all the pipes are anchored correctly, you should add some straps or cushion the pipes with a rubber blanket. There may be times when you will need to do both. Make sure that if you have copper pipes, you are not using galvanized straps.

Clogged Drains

The next time you have a clogged drain, avoid the simple solution of dumping drain-clearing chemicals into the pipes. While this method involves the least amount of effort, the chemicals in these liquid cleaners are destructive to your piping. Instead, consider using a little bit of elbow grease with a plunger, snake, or other device designed to clear your clog without chemicals.

Overflow Clogging

Be sure that the overflow holes don’t clog up. Overflow holes exist to act as a double check in case of an overfilling sink. That may seem unimportant – but it will become a problem if they are clogged. Make sure to clean out the overflow holes each time you do maintenance checks on your sinks.

Dishwasher Water Blockage

If water is not coming to the dishwasher, you most likely have a blockage somewhere. You will need to turn off the water supply and remove the hose that leads to the dishwasher. After securing the hose, turn the water back on. See if it feeds into a bowl. If not, then you must find the block where it is at which may include removing more piping.

Kitchen Drain Clogs

If you want to keep your kitchen drains from clogging up, don’t pour grease down the drain. As it cools and congeals it can trap other food or waste particles, which over time can slow the draining of water and even form a clog that will not be easy to remove.

Pipe Freezing Prevention

In the winter months, if you live somewhere where temperatures fall below freezing, leave your faucets on a little bit to let a thin stream of water through. This will help prevent the pipes from freezing, which could be a major problem for you and all the pipes in your home.


As you can see from the above list of tips, maintaining and repairing your own plumbing can be very time and money-saving in the long run if you know what you are doing. After following these tips, you will no longer be new to plumbing, but if something in this area gets out of hand call for professional help. A good company for any kind of plumbing emergency is Pioneer Plumbing and Heating in Vancouver BC.  See contact details below the video


626 Kingsway
Vancouver, BC V5T 3K4