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Cleaning the Toilet Tank? Yes – 9 Tips to Make the Job Easier

Toilet cleaning supplies

As a homeowner, the thought of cleaning your toilet tank has probably never crossed your mind. Sure, you clean the bowl – but the tank? The fact is, southeast Michigan homeowners should clean the tank twice each year to rid the tank of germs and dirt. For most people, the only time they see the inside of the tank is when there is a problem. Make it a point to sanitize your toilet tank – here’s how.

Gain access by turning the water to the toilet off

Of course, you cannot thoroughly clean the tank if it is filled with water, so turn off the toilet’s water supply using the valve located below the tank. Flush to drain the water out of the tank.

Make cleaning as easy as possible

The easiest way to thoroughly clean the toilet tank is to spray it down with a disinfectant cleaning spray such as Lysol or 409. Using a disinfectant spray will loosen much of the build-up, and kill most of the bacteria and germs. Let the solution work for about 15 minutes before you start cleaning.

Use a toilet brush for cleaning

You may be tempted to use a sponge or cloth, but a toilet brush is the best way to thoroughly clean inside the tank. The long handle gives you easy reach, and bristles give more scrubbing power than a cloth. Also, the shape and size of a toilet brush makes it ideal for cleaning around flushing components and getting into the corners.

Cleaning tough mineral deposits

You may think mineral deposits present more of a challenge, and they can – but cleaning them away isn’t hard. Drain the tank as described above, then use vinegar to fill the tank to just above the overflow tube, just below the top of the tank. If you don’t have any vinegar on hand, you can also use regular cola to remove mineral deposits. Whichever you choose, let it sit overnight before flushing. If any mineral deposits remain, scrub away with the toilet brush.

Pumice stone

If your toilet tank is manufactured of vitreous china, you can scrub away mineral deposits using a pumice stone. Do not use on toilets made of other materials.

Removing mildew or rust

Toilet tanks that accumulate mildew can be problematic. Removed the mildew as much as possible when cleaning, then place a bleach tablet in the tank. It may be necessary to install a water purification system if mildew continues to reappear.

For rust stains, the best solution is to use a rust remover designed for use in toilets or laundry. These products can usually be purchased from a hardware store or your local supermarket in the laundry detergent section.

Keeping your clean toilet tank clean

Once you have it sparkling clean, how do you keep your toilet tank as clean as possible until time for the next cleaning? Use bleach tablets that are designed to be placed inside the tank. This will help keep it clean and kill germs.

Part replacement

While your tank is empty and clean is the best time to inspect the components for wear and tear. Any parts that look excessively worn should be replaced, and parts in the flushing apparatus oiled to make sure your toilet operates smoothly and efficiently.

Avoid automatic toilet bowl cleaners designed to be placed in the tank

There are various products designed to keep the toilet bowl clean between cleanings that are to be dropped into the tank. Do not use these products, as the harsh chemicals in the cleaners can cause the rubber flapper valve to rot – leaving you with a leak.

Have questions about cleaning your toilet tank? Give Haley Mechanical a call today. Proudly serving Dexter, Ann Arbor, Howell, Ypsilanti, Plymouth, Brighton, and other areas of southeast Michigan for more than 15 years.

5 Tips That May Save You From Buying a New Water Heater

Bathroom in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Water Heater Not Working Efficiently? 5 Tips That Could Prevent Replacement

If you’re an Ann Arbor area homeowner who feels it may be time to replace your water heater, there are a few things you can do that may improve its performance before you shell out your hard-earned money. Maybe it seems that it’s taking the water longer than usual to heat up, or you’ve had an unwelcome surprise when the shower water suddenly turns cold.

Before you replace, give the following 5 tactics a try:

  • Perform a quick maintenance check. It could be something as simple as a pilot light or burner not working. Make sure your thermostat is functioning properly and considering flushing out the system.
  • Sediment that settles in the tank could not only damage it but interfere with performance.
  • Seal up any drafts. When your water heater is located in an unheated space such as a basement, the cold drafts can make it harder for your water heater to do its job. Seal around window frames and other sources of cold air with caulking or weather stripping.
  • Consider an insulating blanket. A water heater that’s warm to the touch is not as energy efficient as it could be. There are insulating blankets which are specifically designed for water heaters – but be sure to follow instructions carefully, particularly if your water heater is fired by gas or oil.
  • Inspect the dip tube. Dip tubes, especially those in a water heater that’s older, can break or crack. This tube is what allows cold water to enter at the bottom of your water heater’s tank while the water at the top remains hot. A crack or break could be letting cold water in, which means what should be hot water is only warm.
  • Insulate your pipes. When water pipes are not insulated, they are cold – which means the water running from your water heater to your shower, sink, dishwasher, etc. could be cooling before it reaches its destination. Install pre-split foam pipe insulation tubes on the water pipes that connect to the tank. At a minimum, insulate the first six feet of both the cold and hot water pipes.

Try the tips above, and you may be surprised to find that you won’t have to replace your water heater after all!

At Haley Mechanical, our job is to keep southeast Michigan homeowners’ homes running smoothly, whether you have problems with your water heater, air conditioner, or other equipment. Live in Ann Arbor, Dexter, Ypsilanti or surrounding communities and have questions about your water heater? Give us a call today.

How to Prevent Mineral Buildup in Your Humidifier

Beautiful Condo with Wood Flooring

Indoor air that’s too dry or lacks moisture can result in a whole host of problems, not only in terms of your health but your home. Many Southeast Michigan homeowners use humidifiers to achieve the right humidity level, which helps prevent sore throats, respiratory problems, static electricity, and other problems. As with other equipment used in your home, proper maintenance is key to proper functioning.

When limescale or calcium build up in your humidifier, it will prevent it from functioning properly. Thankfully there are various things you can do to help avoid the buildup of minerals in your humidifier.

Tips for preventing mineral building in your humidifier

  • Use distilled water and avoid tap water. Distilled water that’s treated to destroy impurities is recommended for filling your humidifier, as regular tap water is loaded with impurities and minerals that can result in the buildup.
  • Clean your humidifier frequently. Regular cleaning will help ensure your unit stays clean and help avoid mineral buildup.
  • After each use, empty the water reservoir. Most people know that standing water can stagnate, and that moisture is a great breeding ground for mold and mildew. To ensure mold doesn’t migrate to other areas of your humidifier and avoid buildup, empty the water after use.

What about mineral build up that already exists?

If you are noticing signs of mineral buildup in your humidifier, undiluted white vinegar, and a scrubbing brush or toothbrush are highly effective for dissolving lime and calcium deposits after you have disassembled your unit.

If the buildup is substantial and you have more serious calcium or lime deposits, use white vinegar to thoroughly soak the area for a few hours or even overnight depending on how tough the deposits appear to be. After time has elapsed, rinse with distilled water and use a clean cloth to wipe away residue.

Need other ideas on how to avoid calcium and lime deposits or mineral buildup in your humidifier? Contact the experts at Haley Mechanical, proudly serving residents in Ann Arbor and surrounding areas in SE Michigan.

Furnace Not Working? Perhaps it’s Time to Change Thermostat Batteries

Picture of batteries

Recently, we’ve been receiving numerous phone calls from southeast Michigan homeowners regarding furnaces that are not working. What we’ve found is that in many cases, it’s simply a thermostat issue – dead batteries.

If you have a digital thermostat, it may be the batteries that’s causing the problem, particularly if your thermostat has warned you about low batteries. The process if fairly straightforward, a task you can likely take care of yourself.

How can you change the batteries? Depending on the brand, here are two recommendations:

If your thermostat has an external battery compartment. Here’s how you change the batteries.

  • Look straight on at your thermostat; you will see a place where you can press down to release the compartment on the top right side of the thermostat.
  • Press down at this area, then tilt the battery compartment to the right; this will allow you to remove the plastic compartment. Change the batteries out, and you are ready to put the compartment back in place.
  • To replace the compartment, begin with the side where you put the batteries in (the open side of the compartment) facing toward the wall. Insert the compartment into the slot holding it at a 45-degree angle. Tilt the compartment fully back to the left; when inserted properly, you will hear it snap back in place. The screen should come on at this point.

While your thermostat settings should have been saved, double check to ensure they are still set.

If your thermostat does not have an external battery compartment

In some thermostats, the thermostat faceplate must be removed to locate the batteries.

  • The majority of thermostats with no external battery compartment release from the bottom of the wall plate first, then the top. Carefully pull the thermostat from the wall plate while holding it firmly in place. Depending on your thermostat, there may be screws that need to be loosened, or there may be a tab at the bottom you will need to press in. Look for screws if it feels like you are having to force it.
  • If you can see the batteries either in the thermostat or on the wall plate and the wall plate remains attached to the wall, you are on the right track.
  • After replacing the batteries, snap the thermostat back into place, taking care not to force it. The thermostat has pins on the back you want to avoid bending or breaking!

Replacing the batteries in a digital thermostat is fairly easy, however, if you have problems don’t hesitate to contact us at Haley Mechanical. After replacing the batteries, if your furnace still doesn’t operate properly give heating repair experts call at 734-424-9170!

Furnace Not Working? Try These Things Before Calling in the Pros

Picture of a furnace filter

Anyone who lives in Ann Arbor or SE Michigan knows temperatures often get downright frigid during the winter months. The last thing you want is to come home to a house that’s freezing, only to find the temperature indoors is colder than where you set the thermostat.  Before you pick up the phone to call in the pros, try these tips!

Make sure the furnace is getting power.  Check to make sure the furnace is turned on, check the circuit breaker, and look at the fuse box.  You would be surprised to know the number of times technicians have gone out on a call only to find a blown fuse or tripped breaker!

Change the filter.  Sounds too simple to be the fix, doesn’t it?  When the air filter gets clogged with all of the dust, dander, pollen, dirt, and other debris it’s protecting your family from, it makes airflow difficult.  This could be the problem if your furnace does come on, but shuts off before your home warms up to the temperature you set the thermostat on.  Changing your filter regularly often prevents issues with the furnace.

Check to ensure the pilot light is lit/gas turned on.  The gas valve must be turned on for your gas furnace to get the fuel it needs to work.  If your furnace is older than 20 years, be sure to light the pilot light.

Take a look at the thermostat.  For your heat to come on, it must be set to the “heat” position and the temperature set to your desired point, but one that’s higher than the current temperature in the room.  Check the battery if you have a thermostat that operates on one, and the scheduled times if you have a programmable thermostat.  It’s a good idea to replace the thermostat battery at the beginning of the heating season.

Check air registers, vents, grilles, and ducts.  You will want to check the air registers and vents inside your home first to ensure they aren’t blocked by anything such as furniture or rugs.  Once you determine there is nothing restricting airflow, take a look at the ducts to see if there is a build-up of dust, dirt, or other debris. You will also want to see if there may be a leaky duct that is allowing the heat to escape before it comes into your home.

Inspect your furnace for dirt and corrosion.  After turning the power switch off, remove the front panels and inspect for dirt, dust, spider webs, corrosion, or rust on components, anything that could be causing problems.  Use a vacuum or compressed air to clean away the debris and call a technician who can replace any corroded parts.

Check outside exhaust and intake.  Airflow issues are often caused by debris, leaves, or even birds.  If you are comfortable doing so yourself, clear away any blockages; if not, call in a professional.

Check for a clogged drain line.  Flue gas condensate is carried away with drain lines in both boilers and high-efficiency furnaces. Your furnace will not function if the drain line is clogged with mold, dirt, or sediment, so if you think this is the problem, flush out the drain line.

Turn off the furnace to reset it.  The majority of newer furnaces equipped with electronic ignitions have a lockout mode should the ignition sequence fail.  Rather than waiting for the ignition to reset on its own, turn the furnace off, wait for a minute or two, and turn it back to the “on” position.  Low gas pressure and electrical brownouts/blackouts can result in lockouts, which may be your problem if any of these have occurred.

Have an HVAC technician come and inspect/service your furnace. Sometimes you can’t resolve the issue yourself, or you may not feel comfortable performing some of these tasks.  In this event, call in our Ann Arbor HVAC professionals to ensure a warm, cozy home all winter long!

HVAC Maintenance Helps Improve Indoor Air Quality

Lady Relaxing on Couch

Is the air inside your Southeast Michigan home as clean and healthy as it could be?  Regular HVAC maintenance makes a big difference – and when you ignore your heating/cooling system, it can result in health or respiratory issues.  How can you ensure the air inside your home is a clean as possible?  We have a few tips.

Check/replace the filter each month.  The filter is the component of your HVAC system that air circulates through first, capturing dust, dirt, pollen and other irritants.  Check your filter every month and change if it’s dirty, as a clean filter equals cleaner indoor air.

Have the ducts cleaned.  In most cases, if you’re vigilant about changing the filter, the ducts won’t get too dusty or dirty.  However, if you’ve neglected to change the filter over a period of months, having the ducts cleaned by one of our professional technicians will ensure cleaner air circulating throughout your SE Michigan home with less dust or other debris.

Choose a filter with a high MERV rating.  Pleated filters with a MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) of 5 to 8 is recommended to filter out irritating dust and debris.  Filters with a MERV rating of higher than 8 are not recommended as they can impact the efficiency of your HVAC system.  Cheaper fiberglass filters common in many homes and rated between 1 and 4 are not effective against the infiltration of pet dander, dust mite waste, or other common airborne contaminants.

HVAC maintenance and repair is critical to the health and well-being of your family, ensuring the air you breathe inside your Ann Arbor home is the freshest air possible.  A clean system also impacts efficiency, which affects how much you pay for heating or cooling.  Give Haley Mechanical a call today!

Enjoy Fresher, Cleaner Indoor Air

Technician installing a furnace filter

Many newer homes today are nearly airtight and well insulated.  While this is great in regards to energy efficiency, it means more polluted indoor air, as volatile organic compounds and other airborne particles are trapped inside your home.  We want to introduce a new air purifier that absorbs odors while helping to clean the air inside your home.

The Honeywell 24V Ultraviolet Air Purifier with AirBRIGHT Odor Absorption utilizes ultraviolet light and provides many benefits including:

  • Improves overall air quality
  • Inhibits the growth of certain bacteria and mold spores by up to 99%
  • Improves comfort and HVAC efficiency
  • Energy savings

You may not realize it, but your HVAC equipment will not perform as efficiently as it should when mold and mildew grow in the system.  The Honeywell air purifier is installed directly on your HVAC system where bacteria grow.

How does the 24V UV Air Purifier work to eliminate particles and odor-causing bacteria in the air?  Most mold spores are located in the air conditioning coil.  This air purifying system works by using carbon cells and ultraviolet rays to capture particles floating in the air, transforming them into harmless water vapor.

For years, restaurants and hospitals have been using a similar type of light to help prevent the spread of germs and disinfect the environment.  Studies have proven that the air inside most people’s homes is far more polluted than outdoor air, which means more illness, aggravated conditions such as asthma, allergies, or other respiratory problems.  The growth of mold has even been connected to serious health issues.

Is the Honeywell 24V UV Air Purifier with Air BRIGHT Odor Absorption right for your family’s needs?  It may be if:

  • You experience odors caused by cooking, pets, tobacco smoke, or from other sources
  • The climate is humid
  • You are concerned about HVAC efficiency and energy costs
  • The doors and windows in your home stay closed the majority of the time
  • Family members have an allergy or asthma problems

At Haley Mechanical, we know the importance of clean, fresh air inside your home, and the problems contaminated air can cause.  We invite SE Michigan homeowners to learn more about this air purification system, and how it can not only freshen and clean the air inside your home but help you save on energy costs as well!

Spring Cleaning Time! While Cleaning Your Home, Consider the Air

Picture of a Cute Puppy

Spring is a time we all love; as nature renews the outdoors, we are more invigorated and ready to refresh the indoors by doing a little cleaning. Cleaning the windows, ceiling fans, maybe even cleaning out the closets and doing a few of those chores we only do once in a blue moon – while you are cleaning your home, don’t forget about the air your family breathes! You may not know it, but we breathe about 3,000 gallons of air each day. Shouldn’t the air in your home be as clean as possible?

The invisible problem – indoor air pollution

Spring is a time we all love; as nature renews the outdoors, we are more invigorated and ready to refresh the indoors by doing a little cleaning. Cleaning the windows, ceiling fans, maybe even cleaning out the closets and doing a few of those chores we only do once in a blue moon – while you are cleaning your home, don’t forget about the air your family breathes! You may not know it, but we breathe about 3,000 gallons of air each day. Shouldn’t the air in your home be as clean as possible?

No matter how much you vacuum, dust, and mop, it does not clean the air inside your home. If you do not know it, the air inside your southeast Michigan home can be 100 times more polluted than the air outdoors! Considering most people spend as much as 90% of their time inside rather than outside, this can be a serious issue, especially for those with asthma, allergies, or other respiratory conditions.

How to clean the air inside your home? A whole-home filtration system
A whole-home filtration system such as the PureAir Air Purification from Lennox cleans the pollen, dirt, and dust from every inch of your home, unlike devices designed for a single room which improves the air quality only in the immediate area. Each time a window or door is opened, more pollen, dust, and other contaminants make their way into your home. A whole-home filtration solution continuously filters the air in every room, cleaning the air and keeping it clean.

The culprits

The primary pollutants in the indoor air include airborne particles, bacteria and germs, and chemical odors/vapors.

Airborne particles include cloth fibers, pet dander, pollen, household dust, dirt – the things found in most homes.

Bacteria and germs such as those found in viruses, mold, spores, mildew, and other tiny organisms can make your family sick, as these organisms can enter the lungs. Allergy sufferers will find these germs and bacteria also trigger their symptoms.

Chemical odors/vapors that originate from paints, cleaning products, gas fumes, even cooking smoke also irritate allergies and may increase the risk of serious health issues and breathing difficulties.

How can you effectively fight all three pollutant types in your home?

There are many whole-home filtration solutions on the market today, but none uses multiple technologies to address all three types of pollution like the PureAir system.

The Carbon Clean 16 Filter media and charcoal filter removes 95% of fine particles and infectious bacteria, and 99.9% of pet dander, dust, pollen, and mold spores. Talk about clean air! The Carbon Clean 16 Filter also helps reduce ozone levels.

PCO Cartridge and Ultraviolet Light. PCO, or Photocatalytic Oxidation, is a process that breaks down potentially harmful fumes, vapors, and odors using a catalyst plate; these vapors and fumes are reduced to harmless water and carbon dioxide through the combination of UV light and PCO.

No ozone, no odors!

Lots of localized and whole-home filtration systems create ozone while they are operating, which can have a negative impact on the lungs of your family members including frequent bronchitis, asthma, and irritation. PureAir is different from other solutions in that it is capable of breaking down existing ozone in your home and generates zero ozone, so your air is cleaned while you enjoy knowing there is no potential harm. Unlike some systems, the air inside your home will be fresher, cleaner, and nearly free from odors, so you know it is truly clean. In a 24-hour period, PureAir will destroy half of the vapors and/or odors in your household*!

At Haley Mechanical, our goal is to help you achieve the cleanest, freshest, healthiest air possible inside your southeast Michigan home. To learn more about the PureAir system, contact us today. As a trusted Lennox dealer, we know a thing or two about improving indoor air quality!

* Based on field and laboratory studies

Plants That Can Improve Indoor Air Quality

Picture of Household Plants

Being in the outdoors is excellent when the weather is warm and sunny in SE Michigan.  You may be an avid gardener who loves outdoor plants that add to your landscape and curb appeal.  Going outdoors and enjoying natural surroundings is useful for many things – depression, reducing stress and giving you an overall sense of calm and well-being.  Something about the trees, flowers, greenery, and other flora is just relaxing and soothing.  However, did you know that certain types of plants can not only brighten your home and add to the decor but purify the air as well? While you may not have room for them all in your Ann Arbor or Ypsilanti home, all of the plants below help improve indoor air quality and offer other benefits as well. English Ivy not only absorbs formaldehyde, but it also filters the air inside your home.  According to NASA, English Ivy is a top houseplant for homeowners and is easy to grow as long as you have medium sunlight filtering through your home and a moderate temperature. Peace lilies thrive in cooler temperatures and shade and are beautiful to look at as well.  A plant that requires little maintenance, peace lilies are capable of reducing the levels of numerous toxins that may be in the air inside your home. Like English Ivy, the philodendron is excellent for absorbing formaldehyde and can live for many years when properly cared for.  A little sunlight and water are all it takes to care for this heart-shaped plant. You’re probably already aware of the healing properties of aloe vera for cuts, sunburns, and stings, but did you know aloe helps purify the air by clearing pollutants found in many chemical-based cleaning products?  Brown spots will appear on the leaves if the level of harmful chemicals in your indoor air becomes excessive. While the name may sound a bit frightening, the snake plant is exceptional when it comes to absorbing carbon dioxide, and grows with a minimum of care considering it doesn’t need much water or light.  A good choice for the bedroom, the snake plant releases oxygen during nighttime hours. Rubber trees are common in households and offices, and for a good reason – they don’t require much nurturing.  If your home lacks sunlight, the rubber tree is a perfect choice, and it also eliminates toxins in the air. Also on NASA’s list of the most effective air-purifying plants, the spider plant is easy to grow and decorative, capable of fighting off carbon monoxide, xylene, benzene, formaldehyde, and other pollutants. Another of NASA’s favorites for indoor air purification is the bamboo palm, a plant that is said to intensify the peace in a home. Just place in indirect sunlight or shade and water frequently, and your bamboo palm will clear out trichloroethylene and benzene. A plant capable of growing to ceiling height, the red-edged dracaena is perfect for a bare area in your home that could use a little decor and removes xylene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and other toxins from the air. The golden pothos thrives in shade or indirect sunlight and cool temperatures and is a beautiful plant that grows in cascading vines while removing formaldehyde from the air.  Hang one in your living room, and enjoy the simple beauty along with cleaner, healthier air. Why not enjoy tropical, lush surroundings in your Michigan home while every member of your family benefits from a cleaner, healthier air?  Many plants offer fantastic benefits, including indoor air purification. In addition to plants, there are other ways to purify the air in your home.  Contact Haley Mechanical today to learn more!

Professional Installation Is Key with Tankless Water Heaters

Tankless Water Heater

Why Professional Installation is Important When Having a Tankless Water Heater Installed

If you are one of the many southeast Michigan homeowners who enjoy making repairs or installations yourself, you may want to reconsider when it comes to having a tankless water heater installed.  Perhaps you have installed a traditional water heater yourself a time or two, or have a “handy” friend who’s adept at these kinds of things.  When it comes to installing a tankless water heater, it’s better to leave it to the professionals for a number of reasons.

When you decide to make the switch to a tankless water heater, Noritz is a manufacturer who helps homeowners find a professional located locally who is highly qualified, trained, and certified.

Here is a quick overview of the tankless water heater and how it works:

Water is circulated through a small heater that is highly efficient as it is drawn toward the faucet once you turn it on.  Ultimately, routing the water into the tankless heater and heating the water via a tankless heater powered by propane or natural gas are the two primary (and most important) steps in installation.  A tankless water heater is typically mounted on the wall and may be installed in a basement, on an indoor wall, or even on the outside.

Many people wonder if they can use the gas line and water line they have previously used with a traditional water heater, or if it can be vented through a chimney.  This is one more reason to let professionals install your tankless water heater!  This variety requires more BTU, so if you have a 1/2″ gas line you will definitely want to call in a professional plumber who can determine the right size gas line for your needs.  Noritz typically recommends a gas line that is at least 3/4″, and in some cases bigger depending on the BTU load.

The same is true for water lines, which must be 3/4″ to be most effective.  The NC380 model requires a 1″ water line.  Using a 1/2″ copper water line will likely limit the flow capacity through your tankless water heater.

Venting through the chimney is not advised, as back pressure prevents exhaust escaping and vents must allow the heat to dissipate.  They should also be easily accessed for inspection of the joints, so it is not recommended that the venting system is routed through existing masonry or other vents.

As you can see, the installation of a tankless water heater is far more complex than the installation of a traditional storage tank.  Leave it to the experts to ensure you enjoy perfect operation of your new hot water system!

Have other questions about tankless water heater installation in your SE Michigan home?  Give Haley Mechanical a call today.

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!