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How to Eliminate Garbage Disposal Odors

Woman Plugging Her Nose

Nothing is worse than a garbage disposal that smells. While they are designed to chew up those leftovers and keep your sinks flowing freely, they can also emanate some pretty “smelly” odors. What is causing these horrible odors, and is there anything you can do about it? Our Southeast Michigan plumbing pros have the answers.

What Causes Those Awful Odors Coming from Your Garbage Disposal?

It is not hard to imagine the tiny particles of food that may remain in the disposal chamber after you have used your disposal to chew up leftover food. Using it day after day, over time those tiny pieces rot or decay, causing those nasty odors. When you notice unpleasant smells coming from the sink, there are few things you can do.

Eliminating Odors from the Garbage Disposal

You may think using bleach or other cleaners is the best way to eliminate those foul odors, but the truth is it’s best not to put potentially damaging chemicals down the drain. These chemicals can literally destroy or damage pipes – there is a better way!

Citrus Fruits

Oranges, lemons, and limes are a great way to eliminate odors naturally without worry of causing damage. Citrus fruits not only destroy odor but counter bacteria as well. All you need to do is run warm water, then put a lemon or orange into the disposal and run it intermittently for about two seconds at a time until the fruit is broken down. If you still notice a bit of an odor, repeat a time or two.

Vinegar and Baking Soda

Most Ann Arbor homeowners know baking soda and vinegar have lots of uses, and one is neutralizing odors. White vinegar is a powerful cleaner, while baking soda absorbs smells. All you need to do is mix one cup of white vinegar with one cup of baking soda, then pour it into the garbage disposal and run at two-second intervals. Repeat as necessary to keep your disposal smelling fresh and clean.­­­­

Less Common Sources of Sink Odors

Sometimes there’s an odor you just can’t get rid of, regardless of your efforts. This could be caused by a leak at a plumbing vent or U-bend, which is not a project you should attempt to tackle yourself. At this point, it is time to call a trusted Ann Arbor plumber who can diagnose the issue and perform the necessary repairs so you can enjoy a fresh smelling sink and kitchen once again. Garbage disposal odors have a way of lingering throughout your home – not a good thing.

For all of your garbage disposal installation or repair needs, count on the professionals at Haley Mechanical for solutions you can rely on every time.

Plumbing Tips for Ann Arbor Commercial Property Managers

Commercial Plumbing

Commercial property managers in Ann Arbor and surrounding areas of Southeast Michigan know that commercial plumbing systems get lots of use! Because of this, you can expect wear and damage of fittings, pipes, and fixtures over time, just as with any other type of equipment.

Our expert plumbing contractors frequently come across serious issues that regular maintenance could have prevented. Considering regular maintenance can help you avoid serious (and costly) plumbing problems and even system-wide breakdowns, why wouldn’t you schedule regular maintenance?

Keep Endurance in Mind When Building

The first step to a plumbing system that stands the test of time is equipping your building with the proper fixtures, pipes, fittings, and other materials.

New Construction: Winter months in Michigan can bring frigid temperatures, so make sure the plumbing system in a newly constructed building is designed to withstand super cold temperatures.

Remodels or renovations: If you are considering the purchase of an existing building built in the 70’s, 80’s, or even earlier, be sure to work with an engineer in determining whether the plumbing system’s components and materials are outdated or even corroded. Worn out or substandard materials often result in plumbing malfunctions.

Keep in mind that existing plumbing issues or substandard materials cannot be addressed by preventative maintenance.

Invest in Regular Maintenance

Instead of an expense, think of preventative maintenance as what it really is: an investment in keeping your plumbing system in good working order so you can avoid the hassle and expense of a serious problem or system-wide breakdown.

Our Ann Arbor Plumbing Contractors Inspect:

  • Pipes
  • Pipe fittings
  • Drains
  • Sinks
  • Water heaters
  • Faucets
  • Septic systems
  • Other plumbing components

Simple Maintenance Should be the Responsibility of Tenants

Commercial property owners who rent space to tenants should be aware that in some cases, the tenant is responsible for well-functioning plumbing. What should tenants do?

  • Drip faucets when temperatures dip down to freezing levels to prevent frozen pipes
  • Avoid putting harsh chemicals or solids down drains
  • Immediately report a toilet that won’t flush, or make a repair
  • Immediately alert property manager regarding substantial drops in water pressure or leaks

It is important to check the pressure gauge once the boiler is operating to ensure it is functioning per the pressure levels recommended by the manufacturer. When the pressure is lower than recommended, you can top it up – but do so with caution, as the pressure release valve can easily sustain damage. When this happens, you will need to call a professional for repair.

Sufficient space around your boilers is essential as well, so make certain that the area where the boiler is housed is clutter-free. Your boiler needs to breathe, so remove coats, shoes, bags, and other items. If housed in a box, be sure ventilation requirements are met according to manufacturer instructions and that there is an access panel to make your boiler easily accessible for maintenance.

Never Put Up with Leaking Faucets or Pipes

Not only do leaking faucets or pipes wastewater (in fact, approximately 900 million gallons in the U.S. each year), leaks also contribute to the growth of mold, wood rot, and other structural issues.

While not all leaks are noticeable if the water pressure drops you should have a plumbing contractor investigate the situation at once, as it could indicate a leak in the plumbing network. It is not always possible to prevent a leak, however, investing in a thorough plumbing inspection once or twice each year is the best way to manage your system and avoid leaks.

At Haley Mechanical we know preventative maintenance can help commercial property owners avoid the majority of plumbing issues. We invite business owners in Ann Arbor and surrounding areas to schedule an inspection with one of our expert plumbing technicians today so that you can avoid serious malfunctions or leaks as well as the associated costs!

You Deserve a Garage Heater – Here’s Why!

Man working in his garage

Anyone who lives in Ann Arbor or other areas of Southeast Michigan knows winter months get downright cold – and the last thing you want to do is work on a project in the garage, mechanic on your truck, or even transform it into a “man cave.”  Wouldn’t it be great to enjoy your garage regardless of what the weather brings?  A dedicated heater just might be the solution – and we’re not talking about space heaters, but forced-air garage heaters.

Safety.  This should be your top concern when trying to make your garage warm and comfortable, and you likely already know gas and propane heaters provide warmth, but they can also be dangerous.  Not only are there fire and carbon monoxide risks with these heaters, but they’re hot to the touch.  A heater designed to be used in your garage and installed by a professional eliminates these dangers.

Convenience.  If you’ve every used space heaters in an attempt to warm your garage, you know their power isn’t all that great – and moving them around from one space to another while you work on a project or mechanic can be an inconvenience, not to mention you’re still not all that warm after moving the heater to your work area.  Heating systems designed specifically for use in a garage means comfort when you need it most, without the hassle of moving space heaters around.

Comfort AND Affordability.  Many SE Michigan homeowners decide to convert a garage into a man cave, game room or even craft room.  Shouldn’t you be able to enjoy this space while staying warm in winter months without spending a fortune on utility costs?  Permanent forced-air heating systems are powerful, efficient, and provide warm comfort without the high costs of space heaters or fuel used in kerosene or other heaters.  In the event you have to make an emergency repair on your vehicle, you can accomplish the task without the numb fingers – or consuming enough electricity or fuel that you could have potentially paid for the repair and come out ahead.

Control.  Garages are more than a place to park your family’s vehicles; some use them to store valuable keepsakes and collectibles, including antique cars or family heirlooms.  Cold weather can be brutal, making a garage a space that’s potentially damaging to valuables or keepsakes.  Permanent forced-air heating systems designed for use in the garage can eliminate this problem, making it the perfect space for those items you treasure while giving you the control of the temperature in this space.

If you’re ready to learn more about the various heating options for your garage, contact Haley Mechanical today.  We provide garage heating solutions for customers throughout Southeast Michigan including Ann Arbor, Dexter, Ypsilanti and surrounding areas.  Transform your garage from a frigid freezer to a comfortable, usable space for all of your needs! Contact us about a garage and workspace heater today!

Is Your Air Conditioner Blowing Hot Air? Some Common Remedies

Lady trying to get cool in front of a fan

In southeast Michigan, the last thing you need is an A/C that’s blowing hot air during the hot summer months. If you have noticed your home does not feel comfortable only to discover hot air coming out of the vents, there are a few fixes you can try yourself. If they fail to work, it is time to call in one of our expert HVAC technicians to repair your central air conditioning.

Replace the air filter. If you have not changed the air filter in a while, it could be completely clogged with dirt, dust, pet dander, and other debris. This will severely restrict airflow, which could impact your system’s ability to cool properly. To ensure this does not happen again, be sure to change the air filter frequently. It is best to check the filter monthly.

Check the thermostat. We all make mistakes, and the thermostat could have been switched over to heating mode inadvertently. Additionally, this can occur if the thermostat has been switched to “on” instead of “auto,” which causes the fan to run continuously.

Could a refrigerant leak be the culprit? When the refrigerant in your air conditioning system drops below a certain level, it usually indicates a leak. Our HVAC technicians can diagnose the issue and repair the leak promptly if this is the case, as trying to repair it yourself could result in damage to your equipment.

Check to ensure the outdoor unit is receiving power. A tripped breaker in the main electrical panel can result in the indoor blower fan operating, while the outdoor unit does not receive power. Your system cannot pump cold air if the breaker is tripped. If this is the case, reset the breaker. This may solve the issue, however, if the breaker quickly trips again or repeatedly, call the professionals and leave the breaker off.

The outdoor condenser coil may need cleaning. When the condenser coil located outdoors accumulates dirt/debris or becomes obstructed by tall grass, it can cause your A/C system to lose cooling capacity. Hose off the coil gently, and remove any obstructions around the unit. If this does not work, have the condenser coil cleaned by professionals.

Home or business owners in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and other nearby cities in southeast Michigan can count on Haley Mechanical for all of your needs. If your A/C is blowing hot air and none of the above fixes work, give us a call today!

How to Perform Maintenance on Your Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Detectors

Picture of a Smoke Detector

Temperatures get cold in Michigan, and with winter just around the corner, there’s no better time to assess the safety of your home – including your carbon monoxide detectors. Homeowners in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and other areas of southeast Michigan will be firing up the furnaces soon if you have not already. It is essential to check that your smoke alarms and CO detectors are working properly so that you can have peace of mind knowing your family and home are protected.

Carbon Monoxide Detector Maintenance

Because CO has no odor and is invisible, carbon monoxide poisoning can occur before you know it. Here are a few suggestions to ensure your CO detectors are in good working order:

  • Use a dry dusting cloth to wipe the housing of your detectors
  • Replace the battery a minimum of twice each year
  • If your unit doesn’t seem to be functioning properly, replace it
  • A CO detector’s life expectancy is typically five years, so replace accordingly

Smoke Detector Maintenance

A smoke detector is essential in protecting your family and alerting you to danger, particularly while sleeping or in areas of your home not in close proximity to a fire’s origin. Your smoke alarms can mean the difference between life and death, so consider the following:

  • Back-up batteries in a hardwired alarm should be replaced one time per year, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. If you have 9-volt powered smoke detectors, replace the batteries once per year as well.
  • Press the test button to ensure your smoke alarms are functioning properly. This should be done once per month according to the USFA.
  • If any smoke detector in your home doesn’t function properly, replace it immediately.
  • Vacuum or gently wipe the housing with a dry dusting cloth to keep it clean.
  • Most smoke alarms last about ten years but check your manual to see what the manufacturer recommends in regards to your brand and model. Call the manufacturing company if you do not have your manual, or if your alarms are getting old, simply replace them anyway.

Need more information about CO detectors, smoke alarms, and keeping your home and family safe? At Haley Mechanical, we’re ready to answer all of your questions! We invite southeast Michigan homeowners to contact us today for all of your home comfort and safety needs.

Home Maintenance Tips for Home and Condo Owners, and Renters

Beautiful Condo with Wood Flooring

The official start of spring is just a couple of weeks away, a time when southeast Michigan home or condo owners and even renters should be taking stock of what needs to be done around your place. Sure, adding more ‘chores’ to your list probably isn’t the most fun thing you can think of, but taking care of routine maintenance can save you money this spring season, and help avoid unexpected problems just as the weather starts to turn nice.

Most of the suggestions below are things you can handle yourself, some may require the assistance of a professional.

Whether you own a home, condo, or rent an apartment in Ann Arbor, Dexter, Ypsilanti, or other southeast Michigan communities:

Turn on the A/C to ensure it’s operating properly before temperatures really heat up. Waiting too long will leave you on the ‘waiting’ list, as most HVAC technicians are super-busy when the summer season arrives.

When you turn the clock back, check fire/carbon monoxide detectors. It’s hard to remember to test your detectors, so write it on your calendar to test these devices when the time changes. Replace battery (or unit for those that are hard-wired) as needed.

Check for leaks. Water can cause extensive damage to your home, so check everything with a hose or connection. This includes the toilets, refrigerator, faucets, hot water heater, under sinks/vanities, behind the washing machine, ice makers, etc. Check hoses behind the washer for signs of damage such as cracks or dryness. Closely inspect the caulking around sinks and tubs to see if it’s time to replace.

Check fire extinguishers. Whether you own a home or condo or rent an apartment, a fire extinguisher is a must – and a lifesaver. Make sure yours is within easy access and in good repair. Check the pressure gauge to ensure it is within normal range if one exists. Some require refilling on occasion; check the tag on your extinguisher for a date.

Vacuum refrigerator coils. Pull your refrigerator away from the wall and vacuum coils, which become dirty and built up with dust, grease, and other debris. This one simple task can help you save a surprising amount of money on energy costs each year!

Change your furnace filters regularly. This is one you’ve heard over and over again. Make sure you do it!

Now, special tips for homeowners:

If you have a sump pump, test it by pouring a pail of water in it. If operating properly, the pump will come on immediately.

Inspect your gutters. Remove leaves, dirt, and other debris, and check for loose spots. Repair if needed.

Take a close look around your foundation to make sure water is flowing away, and not toward your home. Water puddling near the foundation may be an indication that you need to direct water away.

Have tree limbs hanging over your roof or near electric lines trimmed. Not only will your home be safer and the chance of a power outage reduced, the trees will be healthier.

Could roots be causing your toilet or tub to drain slowly? Possibly. Roots can invade sewer and septic lines. You have two options; have a professional snake the line to free it of roots, or use a chemical herbicide to kill the roots. If you have several large trees near your home, have the sewer/septic lines inspected on a yearly basis. It’s also important to remember that regardless of what a product claims, the only thing you should flush down the toilet is toilet paper.

Check window screens for holes, tears, or other damage and replace as necessary.

Rake leaves and clean up debris around the foundation of your home as well as around your lawn and garden.

Most of these are fairly easy tasks you can take care of yourself. By putting these chores on your spring to-do list, you can potentially avoid repair costs and prevent damage to your home.

Although our specialties are air conditioning, heating, plumbing, and electrical, the staff at Haley Mechanical likes to provide southeast Michigan homeowners with tips for keeping your home in tip-top shape! Give us a call today for all of your home comfort needs.

Why Is My Air Conditioner Frozen?

Haley Mechanical Offices in Dexter, Michigan

Even in an area with warm temperatures, it’s possible for an air conditioner to freeze. It’s essential to address a frozen air conditioner right away; otherwise, it can lead to your home becoming water damaged. What causes an air conditioner to freeze, and what should you do if it happens?

Low Refrigerant
Your air conditioner’s evaporator coil contains refrigerant. Without a sufficient amount of coolant, your A/C will not be able to remove enough heat from the air. Low refrigerant indicates a leak, which will need to be fixed by an air conditioning contractor.

Poor Airflow
The temperature of your air conditioner’s evaporator coil can dip below freezing if the airflow is diminished. Reduced airflow causes moisture in the air to condense on the coil, where it becomes frozen. If this occurs, have your air conditioner serviced by a repair technician.

Evaporator Coil is Dirty
It’s crucial for your evaporator coil to be kept clean; this will help prevent your air conditioning unit from freezing. Dirt buildup on the coil acts as a barrier between the refrigerant inside the coil and the warm air outside. It causes the evaporator coil to freeze because it’s too cold.

What to Do If Your A/C Is Frozen
Here are some steps you can take if your air conditioner is freezing up:

  • Turn the unit off. Do not just increase the temperature with the thermostat–turn the cooling system off entirely.
  • Try replacing your air filters. Clogged filters interfere with airflow.
  • If any supply vents in your home are closed, open them to let air flow through. Make sure to open vents in unused rooms, too.
  • Make sure that your return vents and your air ducts are kept clear and unblocked.

After you’ve done the above steps, contact a repair technician for help as soon as you can. An HVAC contractor will have your air conditioner up and running again in no time.

Is That Smelly Air Conditioner About to Knock Your Socks Off?

Woman Plugging Her Nose

Summers in Ann Arbor and throughout Southeast Michigan can get extremely warm and uncomfortable, but you can always count on your A/C to keep you cool and comfy – or can you? Sometimes an air conditioner will emit some very unpleasant odors, and you don’t know why or if it indicates a problem. If your cooling system stinks, here’s what you should look for.

What are some of the reasons an air conditioner may smell bad?

Rotten egg smell. This usually indicates an animal died after getting stuck in the air duct. Sad but true; these things happen. Call out an expert to take care of the problem so the odor will go away.

Exhaust-like smell. When you notice a scent that reminds you of car exhaust, there’s a problem somewhere. Gasoline doesn’t power air conditioners, and there could be a fluid leak. Give our SE Michigan HVAC professionals a call.

Stinky feet smell. What could be worse? While it may smell like someone’s dirty socks got caught up in your system, it’s probably a matter of water collecting in your unit. A musty odor is common when water builds up due to improper draining or a clog. Have it checked out by a professional.

Skunk smell. This is probably second in line to the horrible stinky feet smell; however, it could be a severe problem as a skunk smell is usually the result of a methyl mercaptan leak, a dangerous gas. Get your family out of your home and contact us immediately.

Mildew smell. This is a common complaint of homeowners and a scent that is usually caused by excess moisture such as condensation that doesn’t drain as it should. Mold and mildew are often the results, causing the unpleasant smell. Give our A/C professionals a call if you notice a mildew smell!

Gunpowder smell. When a circuit board or fan motor shorts out, you may notice an odor that smells like gunpowder. This is a relatively simple repair for our HVAC contractors.

The last thing you want is for your cooling system to go out during the hottest season of the year. When you notice any strange or stinky smells, give the Ann Arbor air conditioning experts at Haley Mechanical a call.

3 Important Benefits of In-Floor Radiant Heating

Radiant In-Floor Heating Being Installed

It can be hard to get out of your nice, warm bed on a cold morning, especially when an ice-cold floor greets you. Fortunately, there is a solution: radiant floor heating. It’s a heating system installed under your floor, conducting warmth through your home from the ground up.

How Radiant Floor Heating Works

There are two main types of in-floor heating used in residential buildings.

Hydronic

In a hydronic system, hot water is pumped from a boiler through flexible PEX pipes under the floor. A hydronic heating system can be used to heat an entire house. Hydronic systems cost more to install than electric in-floor heating, but their operating costs are lower.

Electric

An electric heat system contains electrical cables that are installed above the home’s subfloor. Electric radiant heat is less expensive to install than hydronic systems; however, it’s more costly to operate. It is most often used in smaller rooms such as bathrooms and kitchens.

Benefits of In-Floor Heating

Radiant floor heating generally costs more to install than a traditional heating system does. However, the benefits and the energy savings that in-floor heating provides make it a worthwhile investment. Here are some of the reasons to consider adding in-floor heating to your home.

Increased Comfort

In-floor heating takes the chill out of cold floors, so you can comfortably walk barefoot in any room of your house. Plus, radiant floors distribute even, consistent heat through your living space. You won’t need to worry about cold drafts or uneven temperatures.

Cost-Effective

Heat rises. With a traditional heating system, warm air rises to the room’s ceiling, then begins to dissipate. That’s why it can be so challenging to keep your feet warm even if the rest of the room is comfortable. Because radiant heating delivers warmth from the ground up, there’s no heat loss, and the room stays warm for an extended period. This means that your furnace will need to turn on less often. You’ll save energy and save money on your heating bills.

Reduce Allergies

Did you know that traditional forced-air heating systems can contribute to allergy symptoms? As dust, pollen, and debris build up in your air ducts, they can circulate throughout your home. In-floor heating does not use fans or blowers, so it does not release any allergens into the air. You’ll enjoy cleaner, healthier air quality.

It’s easy to see why so many homeowners select in-floor heating. The benefits to your home make it a solid choice.

How to Maintain Your Sump Pump – Three Tips!

Picture of a Sump Pump

3 Tips for Maintaining Your Sump Pump

Sump pumps are submersible pumps, often installed in your basement, that allow you to remove excess water. They are useful when there is a flood due to a broken plumbing pipe or a heavy rainstorm. After getting one installed, it is important that you keep up with regular maintenance so you can avoid serious problems when you need the pump the most. Here are some tips for maintaining the sump pump.

Test the Pump Routinely

You need to test the pump routinely, including shortly after it is installed and on a regular basis after that. The last thing you want to do is discover it isn’t working when you have a flood on your hands. This makes the pump useless and can destroy your home in the process. Try to remember to test out the pump every few months by pouring a bucket of water into the pit. This is located near the pump itself. With the pump turned on, it should be activated when water enters the pit. It will then disperse that water away from your home. If the water sits in the pit and doesn’t trigger the pump, you know you are in need of repairs.

Keep the Pump Clean

Not only do you need to test the sump pump to be sure it is still working properly, but you should also keep it clean. It needs to be cleaned on the inside as sand, gravel, and dirt can build up and cause problems. Turn off the sump pump and check to the pit to be sure no water is inside. Remove any sand or dirt you find inside the pit. This helps to keep this debris from entering the pump itself. Next, check the discharge line opening and make sure there are no obstructions. If this is not clear, water won’t pump out of the basement properly.

You should also clean the bottom of the pump and look for worn parts as you do so. If any parts that are connected to the pump are showing obvious signs of wear, now is the time to have them replaced.

Get Additional Inspections

There are a few additional things to check when you go through regular maintenance of the sump pump. To start with, make sure the pump is plugged into a ground fault circuit interrupter. Check the GFCI to make sure it is working properly. Also be sure the sump pump is standing completely upright. Sometimes there are vibrations that can cause it to tilt slightly. Lastly, find the outlet pipes and be sure they are joined tightly.

sump pump is an essential part of protecting your basement from floods. In order to continue working effectively, they need to be repaired and maintained on a regular basis. Following these tips ensures a high-quality sump pump without any issues.