Safety Check

Plumbing or Heating Issues After A Home Inspection In MN? Maybe not.

We received a call from a St Paul, MN homeowner today saying that a home inspector she hired for the sale of their home claimed they had high carbon monoxide coming out of their furnace.  A test done by one of our qualified hvac technicians found that the claim was untrue.  Has this happened to you?

Home inspections are a common requirement when selling a home.  Either the seller or the buyer will desire to have one done.  Many parts of the home are checked and opinions are made by the inspector.  We usually get involved when issues are found with plumbing, heating, air conditioning, or drain cleaning.  A home owner or potential buyer will call us to give a second opinion on what an inspector found.

We have found not all home inspections are the same and who you hire to do the inspection is critical to the report that you receive.  Here is some advice in selecting a home inspector.

  • What is their personal background with working on homes?
  • What training has they received to inspect homes?
  • Are they licensed and by who?
  • Are they affiliated with any contractors or is he independent?
  • How long does the inspection take?
  • Do they guarantee the work or assessments?
  • How well versed are they on the plumbing or mechanical code of the city that the home is located?

The customer who called us was very concerned about the results of their inspection.  They had a 5 year old furnace that the inspector said was emitting a large amount of carbon monoxide through the exhaust venting.  If correct,  this could be a costly expense to remedy.  Why was this error made?  Was it a result of not knowing how to read the testing equipment correctly or looking to make some extra money from a referral of work?

The moral of the this story is to get a second opinion from a licensed contractor regarding any costly repairs that are suggested.  The codes of each city are complicated and require constant training on.  A person who is inspecting everything can not be expected to be an expert on everything.  That is why the cities of St Paul and Minneapolis have separate inspectors for plumbing, mechanical, electrical and more.

You can call Minneapolis Saint Paul Plumbing Heating Air with any questions about your home inspection and to request a second opinion on results you received during your home inspection.

 

 

 

 

 

Do I Really Need An Air Conditioner Check? Mother Nature Says Yes!

Whether you believe in global warming or not, there is no denying it is hot out there on this 4th of July.  People will not look at you sideways in a mocking gesture if you say your best friend is a machine aka an air conditioner.

It does not matter if it is a mini-split system, high velocity system, fan coil system, central air conditioner or your basic window a/c.  You depend on it to be there when you need it and you need it when the temperature is this hot.

Having your cooling system checked in the late spring or early summer will achieve peace of mind knowing that any potential causes of failure are likely to be discovered during an air conditioner check. Some potential issues are:

  • Low Refrigerant causing your A coil to freeze and reduce air flow and cooling ability.
  • A leak or hole in the a/c or cooling line resulting in a flat air conditioner.  This may mean a contaminated system resulting in a new a/c.
  • Compressor going bad resulting in blown fuses and the need for a new a/c.
  • Bad a/c fan motor.
  • Dirty fins from cotton wood trees.

If you take care of your best friend, your best friend will take care of you during your time of need.  And do you ever need it now.

So, to answer the question “Do I need an air conditioner check?”, yes, yes you do!

You can schedule your air conditioner check online by clicking A/C Check or calling Minneapolis Saint Paul Plumbing Heating Air.

 

 

Why Is My Central Air Conditioning Not Cooling In MN? Look To The Trees.

Spring is a wonderful time of the year.  Warm days, cool nights and the fresh look of everything new.  One of the passages of spring is the cottonwood seeds floating through the air giving the impression of snow without the cold.  Cottonwood seeds may give the impression of being harmless.  However, it is one of the leading causes of service calls for no cooling in your home.

Your central air conditioner is dependent on air flow to operate efficiently.  Air is drawn threw fins by a big fan in your a/c unit outside your home.  This air is circulated from outside the condenser unit threw the metal fins and out the top of the unit via a fan.  This air is used to reduce the heat of the refrigerant that is circulated through pipes or refrigerant lines going into your house and into an A coil that your furnace blower motor blows air over.  I know this is more than you wanted to know, but it provides a little background as to what happens when your a/c is working properly.

The problem with cottonwood seeds is that they tend to get sucked into the fins of your air conditioner condenser as a result of the air flow mentioned above.  The more seeds sucked into the fins the less air that is available to cool the refrigerant that is flowing through the system.  This results in the a/c either shutting down from overheating or not being able to cool the air in your home as necessary.  You will probably hear the condenser fan running as fast as it can while it gets warmer in your home.

Four actions  you can take to help lengthen the life of you central air conditioning system, safe money and remain comfortable are:

  • Clean the coils of the air conditioner with water or air.  Be careful to not bend the fins.
  • Clean all trees, bushes or miscellaneous stuff  away from the air conditioner unit.
  • Provide a shaded environment or put the air conditioner on the side where the sun does not shine in the afternoon.
  • Have a contractor perform a yearly clean and check on your air conditioning system.

Taking care of your central air conditioning system will help it take care of you.  Being proactive will help you from needing to be reactive down the road.

At Minneapolis Saint Paul Plumbing Heating Air, we can help you keep your system in top condition or install a new HVAC system when you need it.

 

Is Cleaning and Servicing My Air Conditioner Needed Every Year In MN?

This is an easy one.  Yes it is!

I know that spending money in these economic times is not fun.  Especially on a piece of equipment that you use maybe  3 to 4 months a year in Minnesota.  However, it is the fact that we live in Minnesota that makes it even more important to have your air conditioner serviced every year.

Your air conditioner works by cooling refrigerant that circulates between a coil that sits in ductwork above your furnace and the condenser that sits outside your home.  The idea is that heat is removed through this process by the big fan in the condenser and the coils in the condenser. Blockage of the fan or the coils causes a reduced air flow which does not allow the refrigerant to cool which causes the a/c to overheat and shut down or not reduce the heat in your house.

One of the ways Minnesota has an effect on your air conditioner is a result of cottonwood trees.  Cottonwood trees start shedding in May or June.  You probably don’t see the trees but, see cotton like floating things which make it look like it is snowing.  These tend to get sucked into the outside of the a/c condenser covering the tiny coils.  Leaving the coils covered will have a huge impact on the effectiveness and life cycle of your air conditioner.  Even brand new air conditioners are effected by this. The condenser will be starved for air and you can actually feel how hot the air is if you put your hand above the a/c condenser.

Another way MN has an effect is the little amount of time you use your a/c.  The most demanding use of the a/c is when it turns on.  In Minnesota, this happens a lot.  The air conditioner will come on and cool the house and then shut off many times.  Unless we are in the 90′s and humid the a/c is not required to run non stop.  We are just the opposite of states located on the west coast or southern part of the country.  In those states the furnace behaves like our air conditioners if they have a furnace.  It is very important that you have the proper refrigerant in your a/c.  Proper refrigerant levels will help protect the compressor when it is turning on and does not have any fluid moving.  Sort of like engine oil in your car.  Proper refrigerant levels will also prevent the coil inside the house from freezing up which prevents cooling and could cause water leaking into your furnace.  (This is another subject totally as to why this happens.)

The third way MN has an effect,  is the air flow that is going over the coil can cover the coil with lint, dust or anything that the filter in your furnace that runs 6 or 7 months of the year doesn’t catch.  Cleaning this coil will help the efficiency of your a/c by making the metal exposed to the air flow instead of being covered in a blanket of lint and dust.

So in review, YES, is the answer to Is Cleaning and Servicing My Air Conditioner Needed Every Year in MN.  It is important that you have the following done every year:

  • Have the condenser that is outside your house cleaned.
  • Check refrigerant levels and pressures.
  • Have your A coil that is in your home and sits above your furnace check or cleaned.

You will save big money if you do this every year in the spring by hiring a contractor while they are running specials.  Or an even better deal is signing up for maintenance plan like our Service Partner Plan.

At Minneapolis Saint Paul Plumbing Heating Air, we can help you decide the best solutions for your home.  Give us a call or email us for more information.

Happy Cooling!!!

 

 

Why Do I Need A Furnace Clean and Tune? Because It Will Get Cold Out There In MN.

The question that gets asked this time of year is “Do I need a furnace or boiler tune and check?”  The answer always is “Yes, Yes you do.”  If your next question is “Why?”, I will tell you because “It gets cold out there”.

I could bore you with efficiency claims and statistic about extending the life of your furnace or boiler for so many years.  These are both great reasons to have your furnace or boiler checked every year and cleaned every couple of years.  However, I don’t think they are most important reasons.

The most important reasons are Safety and Comfort. If you think about it, they will both ultimately mean comfort.  Please let me explain.

A tune and check for your furnace or boiler will look at a number of things like:

  • Carbon Monoxide Test
  • Flame Sensor Cleaning
  • Heat Exchanger Check
  • Gas Pressure
  • Temp Heat Rise

All these items are designed to make sure your furnace works safely and effectively for the winter.    This means that you will not be without heat due to mechanical or safety issues.  In turn you will stay comfortable and secure in the knowledge that you do not need to worry about those cold nights ahead in Minnesota.

Now is the time to find out if your furnace or boiler has issues that may prevent it from keeping you and your family warm this winter.  Finding out later may result in delays in getting your furnace back up and running and could result in higher costs.  You could also be without heat for a couple of days if your service company can not get to you due to the large volume of service calls.  Not something you want to do when it is 20 degrees below zero in January.

Minneapolis Saint Paul Plumbing Heating Air is now offering a Furnace Tune and Check for $89.00.  This is a savings of $40 off the normal price.  You can schedule by calling us or scheduling online by clicking Clean and Tune Appt.

 

 

 

 

Register to WIN a HIGH EFFICIENCY FURNACE SYSTEM & WATER HEATER

Minneapolis Saint Paul Plumbing Heating Air is offering a Free Furnace Check and the chance to win a High Efficient Furnace System and Water Heater.

Most homeowners in the winter months want to keep warm and toasty with an average temperature of 68-72 degrees set on their thermostat. However in order to keep your furnace system running tip top, homeowners should real-ize that it is vitally important to have your furnace inspected and cleaned yearly by a professional. Did you know 1 in 6 furnaces and boilers that are 15 years old or older could have a crack in the heat exchanger?  A crack in your systems Heat Exchanger could be leaking dangerous Carbon Monoxide gas. The reason this occurs is the combustion gasses that burn in a Furnace or Boiler to heat the air or water is a corrosive gas mixture that over time eats away at the metal heat exchanger.  So please don’t run the risk of a crack in your system.  Have it inspected and cleaned yearly.

Preventive Maintenance Is A Bargain.

There is angst aplenty on Wall Street these days.  However, on your own street at least, one investment always pays off.  A little money spent on preventive HVAC maintenance turns into a lot of money saved.  An ounce of prevention pays hefty dividends.

That is due to preventive maintenance extends the life of your HVAC equipment and preempts potential break downs by detecting then fixing emerging issues before they become expensive repairs.  Regular tune ups also ensure your system runs at peak efficiency.

For analogy, consider your car.  Spending $30 to change the oil saves you from spending $3000 to replace a seized engine.  Regular tune ups ensure optimal function.  Neglected HVAC equipment eventually requires extensive repairs, and ultimately must be replaced prematurely.

Minneapolis Saint Paul Plumbing Heating Air has been a family owned and operated company for almost 100 years.  We are confident we can not only satisfy you home comfort needs, but even better give you the peace of mind knowing your heating system or plumbing needs were service by the best in the industry.  For more information contact us at 612-228-9200 or online.

Chimney Liner? Why Do I Need One For My Furnace Install in MN?

Have you ever been told that you need a chimney liner installed when you are having a furnace or boiler installed in your St. Paul or Minneapolis home?  Have you then asked yourself, “What is that and why?”.

A chimney liner is exactly what is sounds like.  It is an aluminum or flexible material pipe that gets inserted down your brick chimney.  A majority of older homes that are primarily located in Minneapolis or Saint Paul proper have their water heater, boiler, or furnace exhaust venting to a brick chimney.  This is not the same chimney that you have for your fireplace or that Santa Claus climbs down.

Code requirements are that any chimney that does not have a metal liner needs to have one installed anytime that the venting to chimney is altered in any manner.  This usually happens when you have a new water heater, furnace, or boiler replaced.  The reason for the code requirement was that fumes could enter the home through the holes created in the mortar as the mortar cracked and fell out between the bricks.

At Minneapolis Saint Paul Plumbing Heating Air, we have seen a lot of improper installations and outright deception regarding chimney liner installs.  This is due to contractors not being licensed, being lazy or trying to save money on the install.  Some of the installs that we have seen are:

  • Furnace venting installed to chimney and not hooked up to liner.
  • Furnace venting installed to chimney and no liner.
  • Liner top installed but not all the way down.
  • Improper size liner installed.
  • No liner installed and not caught because no permit pulled.

As I have mentioned in previous blogs, your furnace or boiler performance is only as good as the install.  Having the proper size and installation of your chimney liner is critical to the long term life of your equipment.  Make sure you ask about your chimney and the need to do a liner when you are looking at having your heating system replaced.  Think twice about going with any HVAC contractor that does not know what you are talking about or says it is not important.

You can count on Minneapolis Saint Paul Plumbing Heating Air to inform you of all the aspects of your furnace or boiler install and what is needed for your home.  You can call us or schedule online.

Time To Close The Windows Also Means Time To Check The Furnace.

Today we were reminded again how important it is to have your furnace checked before you close the windows for the season.  5 people were sent to the hospital when they were overcome by carbon monoxide at the apartment they live. The chimney that the heating unit was vented to was partially plugged.  There also was no evidence of carbon monoxide detectors.

Carbon Monoxide is a very deadly gas that usually affects people when they are sleeping.  Dirty furnaces and boilers can result in carbon monoxide spilling into the house instead of up the chimney.  Blockage of the venting out of your house can also cause carbon monoxide to leak into the house.

Smoke detectors are very important in your house in case of a fire.  They suggest replacing the batteries every time you change the clocks back or forward for Daylight Savings Time.  This is also a great time to check your carbon monoxide detector batteries or that it is working correctly.

Before you turn on your furnace or boiler for the season you should do the following:

  1. Furnace or Boiler Clean and Tune – This will include a check of your system for carbon monoxide leakage.  This will also help keep the heating unit working efficiently.
  2. Check your Carbon Monoxide Detector – These do wear out after a period of time.  Check your owners manual to see when they should be replaced.
  3. Check Water Heater Venting – This can become clogged causing the fumes to come back into the house.  We check that when we do a clean and tune on a furnace.

Multiple carbon monoxide detectors are good in your home.  Placement is key to make sure they detect the fumes as soon as possible.  Most cities now require them in your home.

Being in your home can feel wonderful and provide you with protection.  Make sure your home is not hurting you while it is providing you comfort..

Contact Minneapolis Saint Paul Plumbing Heating Air with any questions regarding your home safety and furnace or boiler clean and tunes to keep your heating unit working properly.

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