Serving both commercial & residential


How do I know whether my heating and cooling equipment needs replacement or just repair?

This is a difficult question to provide a “blanket” answer for. As an analogy, it is a similar process of considerations that a car owner must consider when deciding whether to replace a vehicle or not.

  • The age of the current system. Our philosophy is that if the current heating system is 30 years old or is 1 – 1.5 times the longest warranty, replacement should be seriously considered.
  • What is the history of the heater? Has it required frequent repairs throughout its lifespan? Is it noisy? Does it show signs of excessive wear (rust)? Has it been well maintained by an HVAC company on an annual basis?
  • Are there any current rebates or tax credits available towards the purchase of a new high efficiency heating system that will help offset the initial investment?
  • Does the current system provide the level of comfort that you want? There is a growing difference between “builder grade” and consumer choice in what a system can offer in terms of comfort and convenience.
  • How much will the repairs cost…and how many more repairs will you need in the future? Is keeping an older system operational worth the time, the money and the inconvenience? Often, replacing an old heater will prove to be the less expensive option than paying for repeated repairs.
It’s been a long time since I shopped for a new heating system – or – I’ve never purchased a new heating system before. What is available to me as a consumer?

If you’re deciding on a new system and have not kept up with advances in the industry, you will be amazed at the number of options that you have. Today’s comfort systems offer a surprising number of options and combinations – from individual heaters and air conditioners to integrated or “hybrid” systems. Systems can vary widely in terms of energy efficiency. The ability of systems to monitor conditions and adjust automatically has increased dramatically. And a wider variety of indoor air quality add-ons are available than ever before.

These changes make the replacement decision even more complex than ever, so you can see how important it is to find a HVAC company that will work with you to custom design a system for your home and budget. At Hank’s, our goal is to be a company that will partner with you to not only install a system that is appropriate for your situation, but then help you keep the system operating at peak performance.

Are some heating manufacturers or brands better than others?

Yes, we believe so. That’s why we only recommend the most reliable heating systems on the market. However, the manufacturer or brand is only one part of a high performance and reliable heating system – the heating system design and the quality workmanship that are utilized are crucial to having a long lasting, reliable and trouble free heating system that reduces your energy bills.

We are in a unique position to judge this as we are primarily a service company, not a replacing company. Our experience is not anecdotal but is big picture, and is based on what we have had to fix over the years.

What should I look for when choosing a new heater?

Here are some general rules of thumb when you are ready to replace your existing equipment:

  • Choose a manufacturer that has a good reputation for quality and durability.
  • Choose a model with a high energy efficiency rating to bring you better comfort and lower your seasonal energy bill.
  • Be sure that the system you have chosen has been properly sized for the unique needs of your home.
  • Finally, choose a reliable company with excellent customer satisfaction and a track record of service after the sale. Talk to your friends and neighbors.
  • We do more service than replacement so that puts us in a unique position to know which products are best.
How much does a new heating system cost?

Due to the many different makes, models and customer needs, as well as installation variables within the home, price is an issue that can only be solved by doing a thorough evaluation of your home and existing equipment.

If I am replacing my heater, why would I replace my current heater with a smaller or larger one?

You may or may not replace your current heating system with a larger or smaller one. The size or capacity of your new heater will be determined and recommended by your Hank’s technician. The only accurate way to determine the proper sized heater for your home is to perform a load calculation to determine the heating needs for your home on the coldest days of the year. It is common to find existing heating systems that are oversized for the home. This results in decreased comfort, increased energy usage, increased equipment failure and shortened life span of the heater.

My pilot has gone out in my furnace.

If furnace quits working, shut main power off for 10 seconds. For furnaces with a newer ignition, turn main power off by following wire from the furnace to the switch. Wait the 10 seconds then back on again. Often this resets ignition but if it continues to fail, call us.

Also, many modern furnaces and boilers are self diagnosing. Usually instructions for interpreting this are written in appliance manual or on the front access cover. DO NOT turn off to reset the appliance if you find it is self diagnosing – interpret the code first. Turning the appliance off will erase the fault. This code can be extremely helpful in reducing travel time as plumber can often bring the correct replacement part without first visiting your property.

Look for heat marks around chimney and around your appliances or rust build-up above burner compartments or chimney. If you are concerned, send us a picture or have us come out. We can often let you know by looking at a picture, if it’s something to be concerned about or not.

If it is an older furnace with a standing pilot, find the gas valve and turn to “pilot” position. Depress knob. Follow small gas line from valve to pilot light with a long match or lighter, while continuing to keep knob depressed for 30 seconds. Let up slowly and turn gas valve knob back to “on” position.

My furnace is making noises that I have never heard before.

Check the air filter to make sure it is clean. If needed, clean or replace it. Check to make sure that the area around the heater is free from debris and clutter. Check the service records for the heater. If a precision tune-up has not been performed on the heater within the last year, call us for a precision tune-up on your heater.

How often should I have my heater serviced by an HVAC company?

Manufacturer’s recommend that the heating and air conditioning system in a central heating and cooling system are each serviced once a year. If your heating system has not had a precision tune up, call us today.

Why are precision tune-ups important?

Heating and cooling units can run for as many 5,000 hours per year. When you neglect them, you pay a hefty price in wasted fuel, shortened equipment life and inconvenient and expensive breakdowns. Having your equipment regularly tuned-up, results in fewer service problems, lower energy bills, a safer system and warranties that are kept valid.

What is radiant floor heating?

Radiant floor heating is a comfortable and efficient form of heating where warm water circulates through flexible, specially designed PEX tubing installed under the floor. The heat radiates evenly up through the floor warming people and objects in the room and providing more comfort for less money.

What makes radiant floor heating so comfortable?

Unlike traditional heating systems that just warm the air, radiant heating warms the floor and the objects in contact with the floor. The entire floor distributes a consistent, even and quiet heating. There are no drafts and radiant floor heating takes the chill out of cold tile, marble and wood floors.

What is PEX tubing?

PEX (cross linked polyethylene) tubing is specially designed plastic tubing with distinctive properties that make it ideal for radiant floor heating and plumbing systems.

What if the tubing leaks?

Leaks are not a concern with PEX when the system is properly installed. With a life expectancy of more than 100 years, PEX tubing has withstood the most extensive tests in the industry. We have seen water in the pipes freeze, bursting the pipes in the floor. This can be easily remedied by adding a glycol or prefer to have a monitoring system in place in very cold weather.

Can the floor get too hot?

Yes. But with proper design and controls, a radiant floor heating system will deliver comfortable warmth that’s a pleasure to walk on – especially in bare feet! If additional heat is needed to satisfy the heat load, additional warmth can easily be added by installing radiant walls and/or ceilings.

Is it possible to just heat the ceramic tile floor in our master bath?

Absolutely. Radiant floor heating systems are flexible, meaning you can heat the entire home or only those rooms you want to heat. The bathroom is a popular area of the home to heat.

We’re not ready to make this investment right now. Can we rough the system in for the future?

Yes, the PEX tubing is installed in the slab during construction and you can complete the system later. This adds relatively little to the cost of a poured floor, but can add a great deal to the value of your home later.

If I have radiant floor heating, can I still have air conditioning?

Sure you can. In fact, separate heating and cooling systems really make the most sense. Radiant floor heating keeps the heat near the floor where it does the most good; and air conditioning ductwork is placed only where it is needed to cool your home. The result is optimal comfort and efficiency all year.

Ever wonder how in floor heating works? Knowing how it works will help you make an informed decision. Here’s some information to make that decision easier.

How Does In Floor Heating Work?

In a radiant floor heating system, warm water flows through tubes located underneath the floors. That warmth radiates up from the floors and warms everything it comes in contact with – including people.

And radiant is compatible under any type of floor covering -carpet, wood, slate, tile, linoleum, and even concrete – making design possibilities endless.

The water in a radiant system has a capacity to transport energy 3,500 times greater than air, so it can heat (and even cool) using less energy than a forced-air system. This amounts to greater comfort at a lower thermostat setting, which provides lower energy bills. In fact, more people are comfortable with radiant floor heating at a lower thermostat setting than with forced-air heating at a higher thermostat setting.

Additionally, a radiant heating system works in zones, allowing different areas of a home to heat at different temperatures. This allows typically chilly rooms, such as bathrooms, basements and entryways, to receive more heat when needed. At the same time, rooms with less traffic, such as a den or formal dining room, can be set to a lower thermostat setting, making the system even more energy-efficient.

How often should I change the filter in my furnace?

In general, we recommend that you replace your disposable filters at once a month. If you have washable filters, they should be cleaned once a month. However, some homes may require more frequent filter changes due to conditions within the home.

Why do I need to change my filter regularly?

Regular filter replacement helps your heating and cooling system operate at peak levels and improves indoor air quality. It is important to change filters regularly to ensure proper air flow and to keep your home free from dust, allergens and germs.

Where is my filter located?

Your air filter should be located in either the blower compartment of the furnace, in an attached filter case, or in a return air grille in a wall or ceiling of your home. If you cannot find the air filter, your our technician will be happy to show you where it is located and how to change it during your next maintenance visit.

Is the filter used during heating season the same one that is used during air conditioning season?

In most cases, yes. If you have one system that provides both heating and air conditioning, then more than likely they share the same filter.

Where can I purchase filters?

If you are unable to find the appropriate-size air filter at your local hardware outlet, contact us for assistance.

I thought pollution was outside. Why should I be worried about my air indoors?

We spend 90% of our time every day indoors. Plus, today’s efficient, airtight homes are excellent at conserving energy, but that also makes them better at trapping potentially irritating particles inside the home. With the rising number of people who suffer from allergies and asthma, indoor air quality has become more and more important to our general health and well-being. The Environmental Protection Agency has stated that indoor air can be 4 to 5 times more harmful than outdoor air.

I keep my home very clean. Could the air in my home still not be clean?

Yes. Consider that the average home generates 40 pounds of dust per year for every 1,500 square feet of space. While regular home cleaning is an excellent measure to reduce exposure to irritants and pollutants, it’s simply impossible to remove enough of the material by hand to make your home’s air as comfortable as it can be. In addition, certain irritants and sources of indoor air pollution cannot be cleaned by hand.

What is the ideal indoor humidity level?

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation rules of thumb are:

To prevent window condensation during the heating season, the recommended indoor RH is 30 per cent to 50 per cent. When it is below -10°C (14°F) outdoors, recommended indoor RH is 30 per cent or lower.

What does HVAC stand for?

Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning.

Should I close the registers and doors to areas of the home that I do not use on a regular basis?

No. Every system is designed to heat and cool a certain number of square feet. By closing registers and doors in certain rooms, you disrupt and decrease the system’s airflow and efficiency. Your system will have to work harder to heat or cool less space, making it stop and start more and become less efficient.

At what temperature should I set my thermostat?

Temperature settings depend on the time of year and your personal preferences. In the winter 68° to 72° Fahrenheit or 19° to 21° Celsius is generally the setting range that most people prefer. Remember, when leaving your house; try to avoid drastic temperature changes. Do not set your temperature back more than 5° Celsius or 4° to 8° Fahrenheit; this will cause your unit to work harder to achieve the desired temperature setting.

What are the advantages of a programmable thermostat?

Because they are electronic, programmable thermostats are more accurate and efficient than thermostats that contain mercury. Plus, they allow you to automatically control the temperature in your home at different times of day without ever touching your thermostat.

Garbage Disposal Repair?

Garbage Disposal problems can be plumbing, electrical or appliance. If the disposal doesn’t work at all – no *hum* or any sound, then push the red (reset) button on the bottom of the disposal. If that doesn’t work, check the breaker in the electrical panel. If the unit *hums* but doesn’t turn then you can try un-sticking it… Some units come with a wrench that you can use to turn the cutter flywheel from the bottom. (An Allen wrench will work). Or, use a *plumber’s friend*, broom handle – something with a handle, and stick it in the disposal and try to turn the cutting wheel around. In effect – unstick it. If the unit doesn’t respond to the above, it’s time for an appliance repair man or replace the unit.

Slow Drain?

As a plumber, I see plugged drains when *Liquid Plumber* type products don’t work – care should be taken when using these around kitchen and dishwasher drains, they can cause pressure and backup in these drains which can damage finishes. If chemicals don’t work, call a plumber. By the way, I have seen damaged pipes caused by liquid drain cleaners, overheated gaskets on the connections and adapters. As well, we have had to completely remove sections of pipe when crystal drain cleaners have not cleared the plug. They form a solid blockage almost as hard as concrete. These crystal drain cleaners should never be used.

Can Clogged Vents Stop Up Drains?

Yes and no. A toilet with no vent may not flush the contents out of the bowl, but any other drain will work without a vent. (NOTE: the code is that all fixtures shall be vented). Only twice in 15 years have the vents been the cause of a drain backup. In one case it was roofers who stuffed the old roofing material down the vents and the other was just a stray piece of wood. In both cases the material made its way down into the drain pipe and had to be removed. No amount of *vent cleaning* would have done any good.

Leak Somewhere in the Plumbing in my Shower/Bath?

I see this all the time and nine times out of ten it’s the grout or a bad pan under the shower. Before anything else I try to determine if the leak is constant or if it is periodic. If it is constant there is a good chance the leak is in the pressurized water lines. Usually the leak is periodic so I have a series of tests that I perform to track it down. Sometimes a quick visual inspection of the tile will show that the grout is shot and is the most likely cause of the leak but I will often complete the rest of my tests to be sure.

What I do is first fill the tub half way and drain it. This will tell me if it’s in the drain pipe. For a shower with a lead or vinyl pan I block the drain and fill the base with water. This will tell me if the pan leaks. Then I remove the shower head and put a 1/2″ cap on the shower arm and turn on the pressure. This will tell me if there is a leak in the pipe between the shower valve and the shower arm. If no leak has shown up by then I tend to think the leak is water bleeding through the tile due to bad grouting or that water is escaping the shower and going down through flaws in the bathroom floor. I can check this by taping up a plastic drop cloth inside the shower covering all the tile work and having the customer use the shower normally for a day or two. If the leak has suddenly disappeared then we know it coming through the tile. A few cups of water on the floor will show a leak through bad tile or a cracked floor base. If none of this works, it’s time to open the walls.

Low Flush Toilet Problems

Till the year 2001 there was a lot of consumer dissatisfaction with 1.6 GAL toilets. The manufacturers had to design and build them to meet a government water conservation deadline and in many cases simply didn’t produce a good flushing 1.6 gpf toilet initially. They blamed the government. The consumer blamed the manufacturer or plumber. Whatever – we were stuck (no pun intended) with them. Some in our trade (who think about this kind of thing), even proposed using 2 1/2″ drain pipes instead of 3″ drains. That would make for a higher ratio of water to solids (think cross section) carrying the waste in the pipe. This points out the first problem. The W/Cs were designed and tested on modern plumbing. That is, 3″ plastic drains – not older 4″ to 6″ cast iron. There is very little water (again think cross section) at the bottom of a 6″ cast iron pipe to move waste along. Low flush W/Cs do work better in new homes. Other situations that we’ve seen that effect low flush W/Cs are; where the toilet is in the house and what other plumbing fixtures are available to wash down the drain pipes. Toilets on the end of long runs to the building drain outfall are most likely to plug up. It’s important to keep a CONSTANT 1/4″ per foot grade.

On demand hot water system?

The relative energy efficiency of these systems depends a lot on other factors such as the amount of heat loss from a more traditional storage tank system or the length of time hot water is stored before it is used. In practice they require a good deal more energy per volume of heated water than conventional systems. The traditional storage tank type of water heater can be quite efficient if the tank and the hot water pipes are properly insulated.

The on-demand type heaters have their uses in the appropriate situation. We have found them practical and efficient in situations where hot water is used only occasionally such as in some shop situations or where a fixture is at a considerable distance from a traditional storage tank water heater, such as in a guest house or pool house. They can also be handy if you are adding hot water to a structure that has been cold-water-only and the cost or inconvenience of adding a complete hot water piping system will be prohibitive.

They do require much more maintenance than traditional water heater.

Water Heater Maintenance?

We don’t recommend draining them for any reason unless prior to replacing them. The way scale forms in Calgary you won’t get anything substantive out. Having a softener is a good idea to keep the tank clean and free of scale but also to keep metal bare. However, this, and a few other reasons will reduce the life of the tank by approximately one third.

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