Symptoms of a Cracked Toilet – and When it’s Time to Repair or Replace

Toilet in Bathroom

What are the symptoms of a cracked toilet?

If you notice:

  • The toilet bowl isn’t holding water
  • The fill mechanism constantly runs, or the tank isn’t holding water
  • Water pooling on the floor around the toilet. Chances are the toilet is cracked. Before you go any further, check the operation of your toilet including whether it flushes properly, whether the toilet doesn’t fill even when water continues to run, or if it may be clogged. After ruling out other issues, inspect your toilet closely to find where the crack is located. It may be on the inside or outside of the toilet, in the tank or bowl, above or below the water level.

In instances where a crack is smaller than 1/16th of an inch, odds are you can handle it yourself, especially if the crack is above the water level or located on the outside of the toilet.

Here are a few tips for filling a toilet crack

After the crack has been located:

  • Shut off the water, then drain the toilet bowl or tank depending on which area is cracked. Once drained, dry the area thoroughly.
  • Check to ensure there are no additional cracks which may have radiated out from the primary crack.
  • Fill the crack with plumber’s epoxy.
  • Wait for a minimum of 24 hours for the epoxy to set before filling the toilet with water; test to ensure the repair was successful.
  • Cracks that are located below water level whether inside or outside will likely require the attention of a professional.

At Haley Mechanical, we want to help homeowners in Ann Arbor, Dexter, Ypsilanti, and surrounding areas understand how to make their own toilet repairs when possible. If your toilet is cracked and the job is beyond your ability, give us a call today!

Compelling Reasons for the Switch to Mini-Split Ductless Heating

Mini-Split installation in Ann Arbor, Michigan

“Mini splits” or ductless air conditioners are becoming more popular among homeowners in Southeast Michigan and all across the nation, for a good reason. Whether you have a newer home without a traditional forced-air heating system or live in an older house without existing ductwork, mini-splits offer several advantages over central heating and cooling systems. Why consider a ductless air conditioner? Here are a few important reasons.

No compromising the architecture of your home. Because mini splits are minimally invasive, you do not have to go through the hassle of having ductwork and air vents installed, or having your home torn apart. Mini splits can be installed by drilling a small hole into the wall, and their small size never intrudes on your home’s beauty or decor. Ductless and eco-friendly for heating and cooling your home, enjoy greater control over your family’s comfort.

A cost-effective solution to comfort. We are not just talking about operational costs, but installation and other factors. When you install a traditional HVAC system, there may be considerable renovation to consider if walls have to be torn out for the installation of ductwork. Rebuilding the wall, painting, replacing light switches or receptacles – it is important to keep all of this in mind considering all that’s required with a mini-split is a small hole in the wall.

A mini-split ductless system costs about half of what it costs to install a central unit. While mini-splits cost more than central HVAC systems regarding cooling capacity, it is important to remember that mini-split systems are “zoned” meaning you can cool or heat only the room or rooms someone is occupying rather than the entire house. Unlike ducted systems, mini-splits have no energy loss, so they are more energy efficient and cost less to operate.

Small in size. Ductless air conditioners are ideal for small living spaces such as an apartment, basement or attic room, or smaller home. While large homes are better served by a central HVAC system, a mini-split may be the solution for a new addition or previously unconditioned space that now needs air conditioning or heating. Every situation is different, however mini splits are compact in size and high recommended for cooling smaller spaces or homes without ductwork. Sleek and stylish, these units are mounted on the wall and blend seamlessly into the surroundings. Even the outdoor units are compact and mounted high on the exterior wall where they are connected to the outdoor compressor and refrigerant lines.

An eco-friendly cooling/heating option. Many Michigan homeowners are concerned about the environment and looking for alternatives to not only air conditioning but appliances and other equipment as well. Because mini split systems are designed for use in specific zones, you only cool the area where you need it. This results in substantially reduced energy use – and no conditioned air leaking from ducts as is often the case with central HVAC systems. Additionally, mini splits operate on the most environmentally friendly refrigerant available today, a huge advantage for those concerned about the environment.

Built-in heat pump means warm air during winter months. Ductless air conditioners essentially work in reverse during the winter months, utilizing an integrated heat pump that heats the areas of your home where you need it. Heat from outdoor air is absorbed and brought inside to warm the air, whereas in summer months heat is extracted from the indoor air and taken outside. You enjoy a comfortable home no matter the season.

Save on energy use. The EPA estimates that by switching to a ductless system, homeowners can reduce energy use by 20 to 30 percent each month. Again, no ductwork means no wasted energy, and mini-splits consume only the amount of energy necessary to cool or heat a specific space. Ductless air conditioners maintain the comfort you desire, without constant cycling on and off to maintain comfort as traditional HVAC systems do. What about a window-mounted air conditioner? Even those with high ENERGY STAR ratings are far less efficient than mini splits.

Convenience. What could be easier than installing a window AC unit? While a window air conditioner may not require professional installation, they are simply not an efficient way to cool your home over the long term. Window units blast cold air in the immediate vicinity, while the rest of your home remains too warm or too cool without installing several other window units. They also block the view and natural light and can be unsightly and bulky in terms of decor. Window units only cool, so you do not enjoy the heating benefits during winter months you do with a mini-split system.

As you can see, there are many reasons you may want to consider switching to a ductless air conditioner whether to preserve the architectural integrity of an older home or enjoy comfort where you need it without wasting energy often lost through leaking ductwork. At Haley Mechanical, we provide Ann Arbor homeowners with a variety of cooling and heating solutions, so you are sure to find the one that’s right for your comfort, energy efficiency, and budget needs.

Save Money by Connecting With Your Thermostat

Lady Relaxing on Couch

Every Ann Arbor area homeowner knows that when it comes to your air conditioning system, the thermostat is the “brains” behind the operation. How you use your thermostat can have a huge impact on not only your family’s comfort but energy costs as well. Because the thermostat controls every component of your system, it is important to choose one that gives you the biggest “bang” for your buck. Our recommendation is a programmable thermostat.

Coordinating your thermostat with your family’s schedule

It does not make sense to cool or heat a home when no one is there; essentially, it is a waste of money, and also result in useless wear and tear on your system. Programmable thermostats reduce the system to use when you are away, working on a schedule you program yourself. Instead of manually adjusting your system up and down throughout the day, you program the thermostat, and it makes the changes for you, automatically.

What’s the best setting for an effective combination of comfort and energy efficiency? Lennox recommends the following:

Summer months:

  • When you are home, set the thermostat for 78 degrees
  • When you are away from work, school, or on vacation, set the thermostat for 85 degrees
  • Sleeping? 82 degrees is comfortable for most people

Winter months:

  • When you are home, set the thermostat for 68 degrees
  • When away, program your thermostat for 60 degrees
  • We recommend 60 degrees at night when you are sleeping

What should you do during spring and fall months? When temperatures are comfortable, and you do not need either, it is simple – turn your A/C system off. Another option is to use the recommendations as a guide and tweak them to your family’s preference.

Factors other than temperature that affects your comfort

The temperature you set your thermostat on isn’t the only thing that affects your comfort. High humidity levels can make you feel warmer because the excess moisture in the air sticks to your skin. The temperature in your home may be 78 degrees, but it feels more like 85 degrees when moisture levels are too high. The solution? Some thermostats also make it possible to control the humidity, while some heating/cooling systems with variable speed make it possible to control humidity by slowly pulling air across the coil on startup, removing extra moisture.

Have questions about cooling your home and enjoying energy savings? Considering a programmable thermostat? At Haley Mechanical, we are dealers of the most trusted brands for exceptional home comfort and energy savings, including Lennox. Give us a call today!

Spring, the Ideal Season to Replace Your Cooling & Heating System

Flowers in a window box

Spring, the Ideal Season to Replace Your Cooling & Heating System

With just a few weeks left during the spring season, if you are considering replacement of the heating and cooling system in your southeast Michigan home, now’s the time to do it!  Why is spring the ideal time for a replacement?

Specials and savings.  Many manufacturers offer special deals and savings during the spring season.  To learn if there are special incentives available or how you can save money by purchasing a system now rather than waiting, be sure to check out the Lennox Promotions Page.

Weather.  Consider how hot it may during summer months, and think about the frigid temperatures in winter months in Michigan.  Doesn’t it make sense to have your air conditioning system replaced during spring when temperatures are mild and comfortable?  If it takes a few hours or even a day to install your new system, you will not be suffering extreme heat or cold!

Is replacement the best option for you?

SE Michigan homeowners often debate whether to repair or replace, especially when it seems that repairs are becoming necessary more and more often.  Can you repair it one more time and hope it lasts through the season or is it time to replace?  Consider these factors:

  • Repair costs
  • Efficiency
  • Your equipment

When repair costs are adding up, it may be more cost-effective over the long term to simply replace your heating and cooling system.  If you are experiencing constant repair bills and wonder when the next break down is coming, it is probably time to replace.  The cost will not seem so hard to bear when you consider the utility rebates and tax incentives a new, high-efficiency system often qualifies for.

Modern, high-efficiency systems provide the ultimate in comfort while using substantially less energy.  HVAC systems increase in efficiency every year; when you have a modern system installed, you will enjoy lower energy costs each month.

How old is your air conditioner, heat pump, or furnace?  No equipment lasts forever, no matter how well maintained.  Furnaces usually last about 15 to 20 years, while air conditioners and heat pumps usually have a life span of about 10 to 12 years.  If your system has gone beyond its life span, you may be counting down the days (or even minutes) before it finally breaks down for good.  Not only that, there are so many features today that enhance convenience and comfort, such as air quality monitoring, remote operation via your smartphone, and proactive energy savings, another feature that works using GPS on a smartphone.

Dealer-offered financing helps you afford more system

Dealer-offered financing makes it possible for homeowners to enjoy even greater comfort and efficiency, as the ability to finance your new home comfort system rather than spending a significant amount of money all in one fell swoop means you can get more system!  The advantages of spending more on a high-quality, high-efficiency system include:

Additional features.  Wouldn’t it be great if you could communicate with your system?  You can have maximum control over humidity and temperature and enjoy energy savings via a thermostat that adapts system use to your schedule in real time by upgrading to a system you can communicate with.

Savings over the long haul.  While initial costs may be more, financing helps you spread the expense over time so that you can easily manage your finances while enjoying the highest efficiency air handlers, furnaces, air conditioners, or heat pumps.  Ultimately, the more you spend on high-efficiency equipment, the more you can save each month on utility costs.  In fact, in some cases, you can save up to 50% when compared to less efficient, standard equipment!

Better system performance.  Financing makes it possible for you to purchase the entire heating & cooling system, so you are not forced to replace components piece by piece as they fail. This means you are getting the most modern, efficient system with components designed to work together for the ultimate in functioning and efficiency.  Superior performance, more control, and savings on monthly energy costs.  What could be better?

As a Lennox dealer, Haley Mechanical can help you choose the system that’s ideal for your home and comfort needs.  Give us a call today, and enjoy the benefits of financing and having your system installed during the spring season!

6 Costly Home Plumbing Myths Michigan Homeowners Should Know

Bathroom in Ann Arbor, Michigan

We’ve all heard myths passed down through family members from one generation to the next, many of them believed to be true.  As a southeast Michigan homeowner, you should know that there are a few myths about plumbing that have long been believed to be the “gospel” truth as well.  So, will lemon really freshen your drain, and does your plumber really know what he’s doing? Haley Mechanical is here to do some busting on plumbing myths.

Here are a few facts that will help clear up any confusion about many common plumbing myths:

Myth #1:  Your plumber is an expert and knows what he’s doing.  Just like “shade-tree” mechanics, there are plumbers that do not have a license and are not educated in their field.  Be sure you consult with a plumber who is licensed and participates in continuing plumbing education courses.  Even better, see if you can find a BBB rating.

Myth #2:  If you know what you’re doing, you don’t need the instruction manual.  Ironically, this may be why you are having a plumbing problem!  Instruction/user manuals are meant to be read, and contain pictures/diagrams to ensure the job is done right.  Essentially, this saves you money.  Read your manual not once, but twice!

Myth #3: You can rely on water pressure regulators.  Even though they do offer important information, water pressure regulators should not be your only measure.  Check the pressure yourself. Indications that your pressure may be too high include a leaking water heater, banging noises coming from pipes, or shower pressure so strong it “stings.”

Myth #4:  Running water while the garbage disposal runs help flush waste on down.  While this is the belief of the majority of homeowners, food can get “jammed” in the disposal using this method.  How many times have you had to put your hand down the drain to remove a blockage?  Better idea – fill the sink with 4 times more water than you have waste.  This separates the waste and allows it to flow easily down the drain.

Myth #5:  Your disposal will smell fresh if you put lemons in it.  While it may smell citrusy and fresh for a short time, putting lemons in your disposal actually is a bad thing!  The citric acid found in lemons will corrode the metal inside.  What to do?  Use ice instead; it works like a power washer to remove the scum that’s causing the odor – noisy, but it works.

Myth #6:  In-tank toilet cleaners will clean your toilet and mean less work for you.  This is a biggie!  Your toilet won’t be any cleaner, although it may smell better.  In-tank cleaners actually just bleach out the nasty build-up, but don’t remove it.  Instead, use vinegar in the overflow tube.  It will remove the build-up and prevent the possible damage in-tank cleaners can cause.

Not believing all of the myths you hear about your plumbing can keep your sinks, toilets and showers working smoothly, and save you a bundle.  Haley Mechanical is a proud member of U.A. Local 190 Plumber’s Union. Our expert team provides plumbing quotes and every home plumbing service you need, from fixing various toilet plumbing problems, sewage systems and pipelines in case of running water problems, to installing boilers in your shower for your convenience.

Save Money on Christmas Lights This Holiday Season

Strands of Christmas Lights

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and many people will begin decorating their homes for Christmas if they haven’t done so already. As a southeast Michigan homeowner, you probably want to save as much as possible on energy costs, but who knew you could save on lighting up the tree and other areas of your home? You may not be aware of how much it does cost using old-style bulbs, but it can cost a small fortune. Whether you’re checking out those strands of lights you’ve stored and used for years to make sure they all work or are considering new lights, you’ll be interested in finding out the cost of old-style bulbs vs. LED bulbs below!

Before you go to all of the effort to put lights on the Christmas tree, string them on your house or in the trees, or even around the fireplace mantle or along the stairway handrail, consider this:

The figures below are based on ten strings of each type of light, lit for six hours each day, with 30 days in the month.

Old Style Mini Bulbs

100 lights per string, 40 watts per string – average cost per month $12.96

Old Style Large Bulbs (C7, C9)

25 lights per string, 175 watts per string – average cost per month $56.70

LED Mini Bulbs

70 lights per strong, 4.2 watts per string – average cost per month $1.36

LED Large Bulbs

25 lights per string, 2 watts per string – average cost per month $0.65

As you can see, choosing LED bulbs to light up your holiday will save you a bundle! Learn more about residential Holiday lighting at NSTAR.

The folks at Haley Mechanical thought you would find this information helpful for lighting up your SE Michigan home this holiday season.

Save Big With Water-Efficient Plumbing Fixtures

Bathroom in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Conserving water is the most important thing southeast Michigan homeowners can do to lower monthly water costs – but how can you conserve one of our most limited resources?  By installing water-efficient plumbing fixtures.  There are many systems and accessories you can install (or have installed) that will reduce the amount of water your family uses while helping you save on utility bills.  We have included some information about a few of the most popular solutions below.

Dual-flush toilets help save up to 30% of the water used in flushing over standard toilets and offer two different flushing styles.  Flushing liquid waste requires less water while flushing solid waste requires more.  However, both flushing methods are designed to provide sufficient water to remove waste entirely with a single flush.

Plumbing fixtures carrying the WaterSense label.  Products that carry this label are certified as water efficient.  The U.S. EPA’s WaterSense program granted this label, so look for it on plumbing fixtures to ensure you are conserving water.  The WaterSense website provides information regarding water conservation you will find helpful.

Low-flow shower heads, aerators, and faucets conserve water by restricting the amount of water that flows through the fixture.  While you might think this would affect water pressure substantially, it does not.  Low-flow fixtures provide plenty of water for cooking, showering, bathing, washing dishes, and other tasks while using less water.  Besides, because the amount of water flowing through the fixture is reduced, you will also save money on electricity costs as you will use less hot water.

Greywater systems.  Although not intended for drinking or cleaning tasks such as washing clothes, it is a system that recycles and reuses residential rainwater, stormwater, and certain household water used in cleaning or cooking tasks.  The type of water in a greywater system may be used as part of the sanitation system to flush toilet waste away.

Haley Mechanical has been providing Southeast Michigan residential and commercial clients with HVAC, electrical, and plumbing services for 17 years.  For more information on plumbing fixtures and systems that conserve water and help you save money, contact us today!  Serving Ann Arbor, Howell, Dexter, Ypsilanti, and surrounding areas.

Dry Air – Fighting the Common Problems it Causes

Beautiful Healthy Home

Anyone who lives in Southeast Michigan knows winter temperatures can be downright miserable – and when the air becomes dry more problems crop up. Humidity levels plummet during winter months due to the fact cold air isn’t capable of holding the moisture warm air can. A humidity of about 45% is ideal for your indoor spaces during winter. However, it often drops to 15% or even lower. This can result in a host of problems including not only discomfort but your home and health as well.

Preventing disease when the air is dry. Moist membranes line your nose and throat; these membranes cannot do their job of capturing bacteria, dust, and viruses before they reach your lungs when humidity levels are too low and the membranes become dry. Humidity is moisture, so you can actually lower the chance of flu, colds or other respiratory illnesses by adding moisture to the air in your home. A humidifier can help with this when the air is dry.

Dry air is damaging to your skin. We all know how painful it can be when hands or lips become cracked and dry. The itching can be maddening as well. Our skin is comprised of more than 50% water, so when dry air comes around, it can aggravate acne, eczema and other skin conditions. Adding humidity to the air can help greatly when caring for your skin.

Irritated nasal passages? This is another result of extremely dry air and one that’s super uncomfortable. We do most of our breathing through our noses, so when air lacks moisture, it can dry out the nasal passages and cause itching or discomfort. Not only that, dry, irritated nasal passages can result in nosebleeds. Again, it’s important to ensure the air inside your home is properly humidified.

Dry air can result in damage to your home and furnishings. Many people don’t realize the negative impact of dry air on their home and furnishings. When the air becomes dry, it will pull moisture from anywhere it can find it – and this includes the wood frame of your home, wood floors, and even wood furnishings. You may notice creaking hardwood floors, gaps in windows constructed of wood, or even gaps between walls and ceilings. Not only is it damaging, but it can also cost you regarding heating your home as cold air can infiltrate these gaps. Dry air can cause wood furnishings to crack, or artwork, books or other paper items to warp or wrinkle. It’s also very damaging to musical instruments. Humidity to the rescue!

Oh, the painful shocks of static electricity. We’ve all experienced static electricity when walking in socks across the carpet or touching something metal such as a doorknob. It can be painful, and it certainly isn’t pleasant! Dry air causes the build-up of static electricity, and you’ll probably notice clothes clinging together when you remove them from the dryer or even your hair standing on end when you try to brush it. By properly humidifying the air you can eliminate static electricity.

You can combat dry air!

Portable humidifiers are capable of adding moisture to a single room, however, the best solution is a whole-home humidifier. These are available in bypass and power models.

A bypass humidifier such as the Lennox HCWB17 delivers moisture throughout your home using the airflow generated by your air handler or furnace. It’s capable of adding as much as 17 gallons of moisture to the airflow in your home each day and allows you to fine-tune your comfort by specifying the humidity level you prefer.

Power humidifiers such as the Lennox HCWP18 are capable of adding as much as 18 gallons of moisture to the air on a daily basis. This humidifier operates using its electric fan rather than your air handler or furnace. It can also add moisture to the air regardless of whether the A/C or heat system is operating. For larger homes requiring increased moisture circulation, we recommend the Lennox HCWP18.

There’s nothing good about dry air, especially in winter months. If you live in Ann Arbor or anywhere in SE Michigan, you don’t have to suffer the damage to your health and home! At Haley Mechanical we can help you take charge of the moisture level in your home using humidifiers from Lennox, the most trusted name in the business.

All You Need to Know About Your SE Michigan Home’s Electrical System

Utility Meters

Ann Arbor homeowners know their electrical systems provide countless conveniences and comforts; However, most are completely in the dark when it comes to how this essential system works.  Wouldn’t it be nice to know how this complex system functions, considering it is a big part of your life daily?  We have provided the basics for Southeast Michigan homeowners below.

Residential Electrical Systems 101

The power company supplies electricity to your home through a central line that’s strung from roadside poles, or in some cases buried underground.  From this point, electricity is delivered through your household via components including:

Meter box.  This box is placed on the exterior of your home and contains the electric company’s wire which allows it to track electricity consumption for billing purposes each month.

Main breaker panel.  From the meter box, the electrical line comes into the main breaker panel located inside your home.  Homes commonly have the maximum allowable electricity available for residential use, which is 200 amps.  Smaller breakers are wired from the main breaker, making it possible to distribute power to the various rooms of your home via individual circuits.  If any specific circuit becomes overloaded or there is a short, the breaker trips which essentially halts electricity flow immediately, preventing a possible fire.

Circuits.  Certain equipment and/or appliances such as a refrigerator or air conditioner require a dedicated circuit.  Individual circuits have bundled wires running to electrical outlets, light fixture boxes, and more.

Light switches.  Turning the light on works via electrical wires running to the light switch from a light fixture box; when you switch the light off, the circuit running from the main panel to the fixture is broken or terminated.

Sockets or receptacles.  You plug in the television, microwave, lamps, and other equipment or appliances that operate using electricity.  With sockets or outlets, electricity flows from the main panel to power these items.  In most cases, the bath or kitchen use GFCI outlets (ground fault circuit interrupt) due to the presence of water, as these types of outlets prevent potential shocks by stopping the flow of electricity.

Electricity is fairly basic; however, it can be dangerous or even deadly when you attempt DIY projects that involve any of these components.  Want to learn more about your Ann Arbor home’s electrical system?  Give the experts at Haley Mechanical a call today.

Some Tips for Lowering Your Ann Arbor Water Bill

Outdoor Garden Hose

Summer is the season that most southeast Michigan homeowners typically experience higher water bills, due to increased consumption. However, there are some easy ways to lower your water bill year-round, helping you save a little money (in summer months, you could save substantially)!

At Haley Mechanical, we want to help homeowners in Dexter, Ypsilanti, Ann Arbor, and surrounding areas save on water usage and cost. Here’s our recommendation:

1. Consider a dual-flush or low-flow toilet. Low-flow toilets use far less water when flushed than standard models, and dual-flush models are even more efficient.

2. Install low-flow fixtures in the kitchen and bath. Fixtures labeled low-flow are highly efficient. For instance, low-flow faucets installed in the kitchen and bathrooms often use only one-fifth of the water consumed by standard faucets!

3. In summer months, install rain barrels. Watering the lawn and flower beds in summer months can leave you with an astronomical water bill. In fact, taking care of outdoor watering needs can account for up to 40% of your total water usage. Consider collecting rainwater in barrels to be used for irrigating your lawn and flower/vegetable gardens.

4. Install high-efficiency appliances. Your washing machine and dishwasher may not be as efficient as newer models. When it’s time to replace, consider one of the newer models labeled high-efficiency.

5. Install a recirculation pump. Waiting for the water to get hot before you shower is not only frustrating, but the amount of water used can add up. By installing an on-demand recirculation pump, the hot water from the water heater reaches you almost immediately, meaning no more wasted water is going down the drain while you wait for the water to heat.

Water is one of those “natural” resources which is becoming in shorter supply as time goes on; by conserving water, you not only reduce how much you pay each month, you’re doing your part to help conserve a resource that is essential for life not only in the U.S. but around the world.

Whether you have home comfort issues or are in search of more expert advice on how to reduce your consumption of water (and thus lower your bill), count on the plumbers at Haley Mechanical.

Financing available

Make no payments until 2023 and pay as little as $132 a month when you finance a new Lennox system. Talk to a comfort advisor today!