Frequently Asked Questions
Typically, there are 9 tell-tale signs that it’s time to replace your furnace:
- The furnace won’t heat the home - this typically happens when a major, out-of-warranty component has failed.
- Rooms heat unevenly – as your furnace ages, it can become difficult to maintain even heat distribution. If the furnace is overheating or the burners are rusted, it will shut-off prematurely and cause uneven temperatures in your home. A Modulating or Two-Stage furnace will heat you home more evenly than a single stage furnace. They are also quieter when operating lower stages.
- You’re constantly having to repair the system
- You struggle with summertime humidity problems – the furnace blower motor may not be a variable speed (VS) unit. VS motors help air conditioners in Ontario reduce moisture content/dehumidify air more effectively in the summer.
- Energy bills are on the rise due to increased consumption, so efficiency is failing (independent of the weather) Remember – furnaces use both gas and electricity. The blower motor in your furnace should be an ECM (Electronically Commutate) motor – which automatically adjusts the speed of the air flow so it’s even everywhere in your home regardless of duct configuration. ECM motors use considerably less than standard PSC (Permanent Split Capacitor) single speed motors. ECM motors are mandatory for furnaces installed in new homes in Ontario.
- Your heating system becomes noisy and develops hums, rattles or buzzes. These are internal noises in the furnace or heating system – not noises in your ductwork. It is important to recognize the difference.
- The furnace heat exchanger is cracked. Make sure it is a real crack! Many companies falsely diagnose this to make a sale.
- You see signs of excessive dust, dirt, soot or rust particles in furnace venting or on the burners.
- Your system is over 15-20 years old – this varies greatly depending on the system’s maintenance and usage. Newer equipment can increase comfort and energy savings.
- If you have noticed any of these signs, please speak with an Energy Clean Home Comfort Specialist immediately, before minor problems turn into major disasters.
The average hot water heater typically lasts between 10-15 years – depending on how well it’s been maintained, the quality of the original installation and water quality in your area.
Here are some tell-tale signs that it’s time to replace your hot water tank:
- Unusual delays getting hot water to your tap when you turn it on
- Water comes out of your taps looking murky or with a distinct colour or smell
- Water never really obtains a “hot” temperature even when the tap has been running for a while
- You quickly run out of hot water when performing typical operations such as doing dishes, laundry, showering, etc.
- You find puddles or leaks near the hot water tank that indicate that the tank is leaking
- Your hot water tank makes unusual noises while in operation
- The tank shows signs of rust either on the tank or in the water at your taps
To determine how old your hot water heater is, please view the product specification label on the hot water heater itself. On older hot water heater models, you can sometimes determine the age based on the date it was manufactured, or you can check your serial number with the manufacturer and ask them when it was built. Some manufacturers such as Rheem have incorporated the month and year the tank was built into the first 4 digits of their serial numbers for easy reference.
Buying a hot water heater vs. renting one has been an ongoing debate for homeowners for many years, and the answer may surprise you.
Renting a hot water heater in Ontario costs roughly between $15-$55 a month. The benefit of a rented system is that should it break down, you don’t have to worry about maintenance or replacement costs because those costs are covered by the owning company (whoever you are renting from). However, this rental fee is ongoing for as long as you rent the hot water heater, and if you ever want to replace it with a new one, you may incur significant rental cost fee increases based on the new unit. These can substantially increase your ongoing costs.
Purchasing a hot water heater is initially costlier than renting, however, while there is an upfront cost, the major benefit of owning a hot water heater is that once the system is installed you own it outright – no ongoing monthly rental fee commitments ever! Since a typical hot water heater usually lasts anywhere from 10-15 years, if you amortize the purchase price over that time vs rental fees, an owned system is typically more economical - paying for itself in approximately 6-8 years (barring major repairs). After the hot water system has been paid off there are no other ongoing monetary commitments, so costs in the long run are typically lower for a purchased vs. a rented system.
Other factors may influence your decision, such as the duration of stay expected in your home for example, but installing and owning your hot water heater has the potential to save you a considerable amount of money.
Regular maintenance typically helps avoid unwanted and costly repairs, while also helping homeowners save money by ensuring that all equipment is running at peak efficiency. Our Service Plans, schedule regular recurring appointments to not only assess, but clean and service your equipment on a yearly basis. These regular “checkups” provide an opportunity to verify that all components are working at top efficiency (which saves on your normal operational costs), while also providing an opportunity to anticipate components which may be wearing out and in many cases, provide advance warning of potential upcoming issues. This ensures that homeowners have an opportunity to authorize the service or repair of items before they fail or potentially cause cascade failures in other related components - which can lead to compounded costs in the longer term.
We offer a wide variety of options for service plans which ensure that your equipment remains operating at peak efficiencies and ensures that in most cases, trouble is spotted before it can start which saves money.
Sparks are a sign of a static electric charge build-up and can be generated in a home when humidity levels are low. An easy way to reduce or eliminate annoying static build-up, is to adjust the humidity level in your home using your humidistat or humidifier control. These controls have numbers on the faceplate which correspond to the percentage of humidity that is present in your home. If you’re experiencing a lot of static discharge, try increasing the humidity level by 5-10% at a time to see if this solves your issue, and adjust accordingly from there. It might take a couple of days to get it right, but typically you should find a noticeable and comfortable difference.
An interesting fact to consider, a home at 22 C degrees and 50% humidity feels much warmer than a home at 22 degrees C and 25% humidity. When a home is properly humidified in the winter, you may find yourself setting your thermostat a degree or two lower than if you didn’t have a humidifier. This can save you on your heating costs!
Make sure that the humidifier you get installed is sized properly. There are small bypass and large bypass humidifiers which support homes up to about 3000 square feet. We recommend fan power humidifiers, which perform much better than bypass humidifiers. They pull heated air off your supply plenum, add water, and push it back into the airstream. Since they are adding water to heated air, the air can absorb more moisture. Conversely, a bypass humidifier takes cold air off the return air plenum, adds some water, and inserts it into the hot supply airstream. They are not as effective at delivering humidity as fan-powered humidifiers.
If your home has a considerable amount of hardwood flooring, is over 3000 square feet or tends to be quite dry in the winter, you might consider installing a steam humidifier. They do a very good job maintaining humidity levels during the cold, dry winter months.
Humidity levels can take up to 24 hours to take effect, so when changing the dial, results will not be instantaneous. The good news is that increasing humidity in your home slightly to combat static electric will reduce the chance of generating an electric discharge which can potentially harm electronics such as computers, TV’s, cell phones, etc.
Be aware however, that in the winter as outdoor temperatures drop and exterior air gets drier, you will have to adjust your indoor humidity to compensate. Typically, you will have to decrease indoor humidity to a lower percentage as appropriate, so you don’t experience window fogging when it’s bitterly cold outside. Typical recommended winter indoor home humidity varies from roughly 30-45%, and is highly dependent upon many factors such as:
- The amount of cooking done each day in the home
- The number of showers taken each day
- The specifications of your range hood and bathroom fans
- The amount of plants and other organic materials that need moisture to survive
- The quality of your windows and doors and the condition of their seals
- Frequency and duration with which doors and windows are opened/closed
- Performance, type and age of your home’s humidifier
If you are experiencing significant static in your home that you can’t control, it could be a sign of a more significant issue, so please contact an Energy Clean Home Services Comfort Specialist for more details. We will perform an inspection and assessment of your equipment to determine how we can help you get that static issue under control.
Smart home systems enable homeowners to control not only their thermostats, but lights, alarm systems and even your door bell from the comfort of your couch or bed. Many smart thermostats can be linked to your cell phone or other mobile device, so control is right at your fingertips. Our smart thermostats can even be linked to local weather – displaying outside temperatures and humidity levels, so significant control is just a touch away. Please speak to one of our Energy Clean Home Services Comfort Specialists for more details. A Trane Communicating thermostat, like the XL1050 and XL850, when paired with a communicating furnace, gives you more control over your system from your phone, tablet or smart device. You can cycle the fan and air cleaner, humidify/dehumidify, and even adjust continuous fan speeds using just one finger.
Your furnace or air conditioner is the key component and “lifeblood” of your home’s comfort and safety; they are mechanical appliances that should be cleaned on a regular basis. Many manufacturers recommend yearly cleanings and tune-ups by certified technicians to ensure warranty parameters are met and that your warranty remains valid. It is also important to note that keeping your home comfort equipment in peak operating efficiency also helps you save money on your energy bills because clean, serviced equipment runs more efficiently! A dirty condenser coil on an air conditioner greatly lowers its efficiency and effectiveness. Furnace burners and the ‘carry-overs’ between them often become obstructed by dirt, moisture and rust. This can cause intermittent lockouts and uneven heat cycles - another reason why regular cleanings are important!
You can purchase an Energy Clean Home Services Scheduled Maintenance Plan at any time. It will ensure that you keep all your HVAC equipment working at peak performance and safety levels which ensures Peace of Mind. Talk to us today about scheduling a certified and licensed technician to clean and service your furnace, air conditioner and hot water heater and set your home up on a Scheduled Maintenance Plan.
Furnaces, air conditioners and hot water heaters are three key components of your home, and it’s important that they are always performing at peak levels. Dirty equipment, or equipment that is not performing as it should due to age, neglect or breakdown can not only affect your comfort, but potentially, it can be hazardous and a threat to your safety and well-being. It’s important that only certified and licensed technicians ever work on your home’s HVAC equipment. Due to the presence of natural gas connections, flame ignition switches, and coolants that can adversely affect your health and the environment, having anyone other than a certified and licensed contractor touch your home’s equipment can put you, your family and your home at risk!
For all service, repairs and cleanings, please call Energy Clean Home Services and our team of certified and licensed technicians will be happy to visit your home at a time that's convenient for you.
Interior window condensation or “fogging” occurs when excessive moisture builds up inside a home and that warm, moist air meets a cold window – that’s when condensation or “fogging” occurs.
Many times, window condensation can be a sign of several issues:
- The humidity level in your home is too high
- Significant moisture has been generated in your home over a short period of time due to events such as cooking, multiple showers, etc. If the condensation dissipates within a few hours, this is nothing to be concerned about, however, if it remains, it could be a sign of a more significant issue
- Insufficient air flow and circulation throughout your home
- Windows or doors could have an issue and are not sealing tightly
Here’s a few things you can do to eliminate window condensation:
- Turn down the humidity in your home by 5-10% and allow 24 hours for your home to adjust
- Turn on your furnace fan to help circulate the air more efficiently. A new furnace with the proper thermostat will give you the ability to adjust the speed of your circulation fan – which is very convenient and effective.
- Use bathroom and kitchen fans to help exhaust humid interior air
- Check the humidifier on your furnace to see if it’s operating properly or call in an Energy Clean certified technician to service it and ensure its operating correctly.
- Open your blinds or drapes to allow warmer air to circulate away from the windows.
- Install a central dehumidifier or use a portable dehumidifier.
- Open your windows for a few moments, if the outside temperatures are not prohibitive.
- Check and possibly replace the weather stripping around your windows and doors
- Use storm windows and doors if you don’t already have them
- If the problem is ongoing, consider purchasing an air exchanger Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV), or Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV) for your furnace by speaking with an Energy Clean Home Services Comfort Specialist
- Move your plants away from windows – plants generate moisture and therefore aid in the humidity process which can fog your windows
The number one reason for all heating and cooling related breakdowns: DIRTY or OVERLY RESTRICTIVE FILTERS! Many people buy the most expensive media filter available. Yes, they do stop dirt and dust from moving through the air – but some filters are too dense and create too much static resistance in your HVAC system. This can lead to your furnace overheating, blower motor failing or an AC coil freezing. A low static, washable filter can help solve those issues, so please speak with an Energy Clean Home Services Comfort Specialist today.
Furnace filters are easy to change and can be done by homeowners, without the aid of a trained furnace technician. It is important that these filters be changed on a regular basis as they are a critical component in ensuring that clean air is circulated throughout your home and more importantly, into your lungs! It’s always best to check and follow your owner’s manual to see what timing your furnace’s manufacturer suggests, but failing that guide, a good rule of thumb is to change your furnace filters every 3-6 months. Typically, we recommend that to maintain a clean healthy environment in your home, changing the filter as the seasons change is always a good practice – once every 3 months (or 4-times per year).
It’s important to be aware that external factors can also influence how frequently you change your furnace filters. For example, if someone in your family has allergies, then more frequent changes may be required and can potentially help reduce dust and pollen. Also, if your home has pets with significant dander, or you are in a dusty area where external factors such as new home construction, busy roadways, etc. might be an issue, then more frequent changes may be required.
It’s always best to check with either your furnace’s manufacturer, or call our team at Energy Clean Home Services and we’ll be happy to help you determine a schedule that will work for you.
ENERGY STAR® does matter and can save you money in the longer term.
If your furnace or air conditioner are at the end of their life cycle, definitely look for the ENERGY STAR label.
New, energy-efficient equipment can help you save money on energy bills over the next 10-20 years. And saving even a little on your energy bill goes a long way when you consider that HVAC systems last approximately 15-20 years.
When you see the ENERGY STAR logo on a product, it means that the product meets specific standards for energy efficiency that often exceed the federal minimum standards. You should also ask your Energy Clean Home Services Comfort Specialist about ENERGY STAR ratings on any new equipment you’re considering purchasing. This gives you detailed information about annual energy consumption and operating cost, so you can comparison shop. An important point to remember: many air conditioners do not have an ENERGY STAR label. This is because their efficiency is determined by the evaporator coil (installed above your furnace) as well as the blower motor inside your furnace. Ask for an AHRI certificate for your system if you want to know if your equipment meets Energy Star requirements.
ENERGY STAR Air Conditioners
ENERGY STAR certified central air conditioners have higher Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) and Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) ratings, making them more than 15 percent more efficient than standard models.
ENERGY STAR Furnaces
ENERGY STAR certified furnaces have higher Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) ratings and higher efficiency blower motors, making certified gas furnaces, on average, more than 10 percent more efficient than standard models.
When comparing the energy usage for each appliance or piece of equipment in your home, you can see exactly where choosing ENERGY STAR qualified products can have the biggest impact. Here’s a quick look at the top 10 appliances in homes and how much energy they use, as reported by Connect4Climate:
Heating & Cooling - 47%
Water Heater - 14%
Washer & Dryer - 13%
Lighting - 12%
Refrigerator - 4%
Oven - 4%
TV, Cable, DVD - 3%
Dishwasher - 2%
For more information about the federal ENERGY STAR program and tips on saving money on your home equipment please visit the ENERGY STAR program website at: https://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=heat_cool.pr_hvac
Bigger isn’t always better. For example, many homeowners are under the misconception that if your home requires a 2-Ton air conditioner, that getting a 3-Ton unit will be even better – that’s not the case. Every home needs equipment that’s sized correctly for your requirements, but oversizing equipment can cause its own set of problems. In the past, furnaces were often oversized. Recent advancements in technology have made furnaces so efficient (for both fuel and electricity) that they are designed to run LONGER. It’s far better to have a furnace that runs a long time rather than one that’s got a higher capacity; longer run times ensure that heat is spread throughout your home more evenly which in turn will ensure a higher comfort level.
Conversely, when it comes to cooling, we usually do not recommend under-sizing a unit. Our summers are hot and sticky, and an AC that’s undersized may not be able to keep up. Far better to close the registers near your thermostat, and allow more cold air to be pushed to the far corners of your home. If you close the registers near your thermostat, you stop the AC from turning off prematurely and encourage it to run longer while still dehumidifying the air.
If your furnace or air conditioner is not sized properly to service your home you will typically notice the following:
- Temperatures may be uneven throughout the home
- Units may run constantly to keep up with demand (if underpowered)
- Units might not run long enough to properly control indoor humidity levels (if overpowered)
- You may have more maintenance problems over time
A vital step to getting a more efficiently matched system for your home is to talk to an Energy Clean Home Services Comfort Specialist. We’ll conduct a load calculation which assesses the correct size unit for the demands of your home’s operating needs. Once a load assessment is complete, we’ll recommend a properly sized system that will provide improved comfort with greater efficiency. A basic load calculation considers your home’s foundation, geographic orientation, size, roof colour, insulation, window type, glass square footage, usage and temperature requirements. It helps us provide the properly sized system to keep you comfortable all year long.
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