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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.

Air Conditioning Facts That May Surprise You

Audience in air conditioned auditorium

As a SE Michigan homeowner, you probably wouldn’t want to face some of the super-hot days we’ve seen this summer without air conditioning! While there’s nothing better than a nice day in the sunshine, it’s a relief to know you can retreat to the cool indoors when you’ve had enough. If your A/C isn’t functioning as efficiently as it used to or you’re having problems, it may be time to call in our skilled air conditioning technicians. While you consider making the call, you may enjoy some of these surprising A/C facts.

  • We’ve lost our tolerance to heat thanks to the invention of air conditioning! According to research, the cooler the indoor temperature is inside your home, the less tolerant you are of the heat.
  • The U.S. has experienced 60% of its economic growth in the southern states, largely due to the fact that people flocked to states like Arizona, Florida, and Texas after air conditioning made tolerating the heat in these regions possible.
  • Willis Carrier designed the first air conditioner in 1902, but it wasn’t for the purpose of cooling. Carrier had a publishing house, and the humidity would cause ink to smudge and papers to expand and contract. The purpose of the design was to eliminate humidity!
  • How much energy is consumed in the U.S. to power air conditioners every year? As much as the entire continent of Africa uses in a year’s time to power everything. That’s a whole lot of energy!
  • Who can teachers and school children thank for summer vacation? Air conditioning! Summer breaks were the norm for schools prior to the invention of air conditioning so that students and faculty didn’t have to suffer the heat. The tradition continues today.
  • The creating and testing of vital medications is possible because of air conditioning – but why? An environment in which the temperature can be controlled and kept cool is essential for pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, doctors, and others in the medical field for creating and testing.
  • People flocked to movie theaters during the summer months during the Great Depression, because they were some of the few businesses who had air conditioners. If you’re familiar with the term “summer blockbuster,” now you know where it came from! Large Hollywood crowds were the first to see big film releases.

For all your air conditioning needs, call Haley Mechanical today. Our NATE Certified technicians are the experts when it comes to troubleshooting, repair, or replacement.

Is Temperature Control a Constant Battle in Your Ann Arbor Home?

Woman sitting on couch in beatiful home

Homeowners in Ann Arbor and surrounding cities in southeast Michigan often find themselves in a “battle” over who’s going to control the thermostat. Some family members are too hot, others too cold. Everyone wants to be comfortable, but when you have only one thermostat controlling the entire house it could mean war! Who’s going to win the battle? Everyone can, with zoning!

How you can transform the “combat zone” into a comfort zone instead

Zoning systems involve the use of several thermostats, one for each “zone” in your home. These thermostats operate dampers located in the ductwork of your HVAC system and make it possible to customize the temperature in all the separate areas of your home.

Who are those who benefit most from zoning systems?

  • The temperatures in your home are uneven
  • Certain rooms always feel “stuffy”
  • You have rooms that are rarely used
  • Your utility bills are higher than you would like
  • Certain spots in your home are noticeably hotter or colder than other areas
  • You have a second floor, and the air is warmer than on ground-level floors
  • Your home has large windows
  • You have a home office that includes computers or other electronics that produce heat
  • You have an addition built after your HVAC system was installed
  • Your home is designed in a way that’s entirely or partially underground
  • Zoning allows everyone in your household to enjoy comfort and eliminates inconsistent temperatures. You can end the battle, and everyone in your house enjoys his or her temperature preference!

Benefits of zoning systems for Southeast Michigan homeowners

Zoning systems offer wide-ranging benefits regarding energy efficiency and effectiveness and go far beyond cooling or heating your home. Enjoy benefits including:

  • Enhanced efficiency – A well-designed zoning system can save you hundreds in energy costs annually because it is highly energy efficient. In fact, your new system will pay for itself in just a few years, and when combined with a programmable thermostat could result in energy savings of as much as 35%!
  • Accurate control – Your family enjoys more control and options than ever before because the areas of your home are divided into specific zones which allow for divided comfort in each zone.
  • Added comfort – A zoning system makes it possible to control airflow and temperature in one area, so other areas of your home are not affected.
  • Quieter performance – A zoning system that’s integrated with a variable speed or two-stage HVAC system results in maximum performance and efficiency for your cooling/heating equipment. Lower speeds equal reduced sound levels, so you enjoy the quiet performance.

End the thermostat war today

Homeowners in search of a permanent solution to the temperature battles should consider a zoning system such as the iHarmony® four zone system, and advanced system from Lennox.

Adjust temperatures in any zone remotely

When combined with the iComfort® Wi-Fi or iComfort® S30 thermostat, the iHarmony zoning system makes it possible for members of your family to adjust any zone’s temperature using a web-enabled device such as a tablet or smartphone – remote control and convenience!

Mini-splits for add-on spaces

Have a sunroom or other area where it just isn’t practical to install or extend ductwork? A mini-split system is an ideal solution with high-efficiency ratings of up to 10.50 HSPF and 23.50 SEER.

At Haley Mechanical, our Southeast Michigan HVAC professionals understand the battles families often face when it comes to home comfort. As a trusted Lennox Dealer, we invite you to contact us today to learn more about zoning systems and mini-splits that make it possible for every member of your family to enjoy comfort while saving on energy costs.