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Frequently Asked Questions

Spring is here, what can I do to help rid my home of allergens?

The first thing obviously is to keep windows and doors shut. Your house may get too hot but that is where an air conditioner can help. There are some other options available for those who would like to let their house breath. First is to put your furnace fan on circulate. Most houses these days have a summer fan switch or a circulate option on their thermostat. This will circulate air throughout the house and eventually through the furnace filter. Which brings us to the most important thing to catch allergens…. having a good filter. Filters usually have a MERV rating which is based on the size of particles they will trap. Most 1 pleated filters will be in the range of about MERV 6-8 and do a decent job at collecting allergens, provided they are changed monthly. With all of our new furnace installs we typically include a 5 pleated filter with a MERV 10 rating which will offer more protection and only needs to be replaced every 6-12 months. For more protection, Lennox offers their PureAir system. This combines a MERV 16 (hospital grade, HEPA filtration is MERV 13) replaceable filter with UV lights to kills any germs and viruses. The filters have the same life span as the 5 filters, but the UV bulbs should last approximately 2 years. Regardless of your filtration level, your furnace fan must be running. Please feel free to contact G.M. Mechanical for more information @ (403) 652 1282.

Do I need a water softener or reverse osmosis (RO) unit?

If you live in town you may have noticed that the water here is fairly hard. Soft water is considered less than 1 gpg and more than 10.5 gpg is considered very hard. Town water is typically ranging from 15-20 grains per gallon (gpg) of hardness. There are several benefits to adding a softener such as having cleaner and softer laundry, saving money by using up to 50% less soap, shampoo and detergents, but most importantly increasing the life span of your water related appliances. You can double the life of a dishwasher, washing machine or water heater by having soft water versus hard water. At G.M. Mechanical we typically use a Petwa 762 series controller. This particular unit has demand regeneration so the unit will only regenerate when it has to and not just because it’s time. This will save you money on salt as compared to an old style softener. Now that you have soft water, you can go with a Reverse Osmosis (RO) unit. These units give you clean water to drink by removing Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) regardless of if there is a softener in the house or not. These units can be installed on a fridge water system, virtually eliminating the need to replace your fridge water filter. Both of the softener and RO unit work great in town, for those of you whose water comes from a well, a sample would have to be tested to identify what contaminants are in the water before recommending any type of equipment. Please feel free to contact G.M. Mechanical for more information @ (403) 652 1282.

Summer is coming, what do I need to know before getting an Air Conditioner?

In most cases it’s just a matter of if you want it. If you have a furnace we can usually match it up with an air conditioner. For those without a furnace there are ductless split units available that can cool from 1-3 rooms. In our climate air conditioning is not a necessity but can make a big difference in your comfort level inside your home. When the house is too hot, it can make it hard to relax or even sleep at night. Other than the obvious cooling of the air benefit, air conditioners offer other benefits as well. You can leave your windows shut so no additional dust can come in. When the humidity increases in the summer, the air conditioner also acts as a de-humidifier. For those of you that are concerned with the noise level, Lennox offers a unit that is as low as 59 decibels (normal conversation at 3 feet away is 60-65 decibels). Also, just like your furnace, air conditioners required regular maintenance. An annual service should be done to keep your warranty valid and ensure that the unit is in good working order. You will need to ensure that your furnace filters are clean as well to avoid coil freeze-ups. One last thing is what temperature you should set it for. It is really all about personal preference, however when its 32°C (90°F) it will still feel cool in your house if it is at 24° (75°)(above average winter room temperature). Please feel free to contact G.M. Mechanical for more information or to book your free consultation @ (403) 652 1282.

Ways to conserve water this summer.

Leaking toilets, taps and other fixtures can have a larger effect than most people realize. A tap that drips once every 10 seconds will waste about 100 liters of water per month. Bathroom and kitchen taps are usually easy to spot a leak, however a dripping outside lawn service can go un-noticed for months. Another common culprit is the toilet. A slow toilet leak is usually only noticed if someone is around when it re-fills the tank. One way to find out if you have a toilet leak is to place a drop of food colouring in the toilet tank. If the colour shows up in the bowl within 15 minutes without flushing, you have a leak. (Make sure to flush immediately after to avoid staining the tank) Irrigation systems usually leak water into the ground, but over a 24 hr period can amount to a lot of water wasted. Irrigation lines should be blown out and air tested every year (usually in the fall). Another way to check for water leaks is to watch your water meter. There should be no movement over a 2 hour period of no water use. Once a leak is found it should be repaired or the fixture should be replaced as soon as possible to avoid further damage. Most fixtures have a maximum gallons per hour or gallons per flush capacity that is fairly low. Old toilets used to use 13 L when flushing, whereas new toilets use 6 L or less. Dual flush toilets typically use 6 L for solids and 3 L for liquids. For more information or for help in repairing your leaks please contact G.M. Mechanical @ (403) 652 1282.

How do I know that a tankless water heater is right for me?

First off, they are far more efficient that a regular hot water tank! Second, they do not waste natural gas by heating water when you’re not home. One thing to watch for when buying a tankless is the capacity. People read the capacity wrong in many cases. Most brands advertise their capacities using ground water temperature down in the southern United States. Our ground water temperature is much lower here, thus the capacity will not be the same. The other thing to take note of when buying a tankless is that it takes approximately 1-2 gallons of water to go through the unit before it fires up. This creates a slightly longer timeframe for hot water to get to your tap. With both of those factors in mind, you may be ready to start saving money on gas! Please feel free to contact G.M. Mechanical for more information @ (403) 652 1282.

My digital thermostat display is blank but the furnace is on and won’t shut off

With almost all digital thermostats, when the batteries run out of power, they stay in whatever position they were in when the batteries ran out. So if your furnace is in heating mode when the batteries run out, it will stay in heating mode until you change the batteries. Please feel free to contact G.M. Mechanical for more information @ (403) 652 1282.

My furnace comes on, and then turns off soon after, but the fan stays running

This is referred to as short-cycling. There are a few ways your furnace will do this, but by far the most common is due to a plugged filter. With a plugged filter, your furnace cannot get enough airflow to move the heat away from the heat exchanger and into the rest of the house. This causes your furnace to trip on hi-limit. You furnace will not come back on until it cools down to a safe temperature. Please feel free to contact G.M. Mechanical for more information @ (403) 652 1282.

How often should I change my furnace filter?

This depends on the filter. Typical 1 filters should be cleaned or replaced every 1-3 months. 5 hi-efficient filters only require replacement once per year, or twice per year if you have air conditioning. Please feel free to contact G.M. Mechanical for more information @ (403) 652 1282.

How often should my furnace be serviced?

Furnaces and Air Conditioners are like cars in that they need regular service. Most manufactures recommend that they be service by a qualified technician, once per year. Some manufactures are requiring records of the maintenance on equipment before issuing any warranty. Please feel free to contact G.M. Mechanical for more information @ (403) 652 1282.

.....But my old furnace hasn’t been serviced in years and it works great?

Older furnaces were a much simpler design. They do not have the safety features that newer furnaces have. Also with the older furnaces they we very in-efficient, typically only 50% efficient. This means that for every dollar used to heat your home, 50 cents is going up your chimney. With the money you’d save with a hi-efficient furnace you can pay for regular maintenance and still have to furnace pay itself off in a short period of time! Please feel free to contact G.M. Mechanical for more information @ (403) 652 1282.