FAQ

Shorty’s has Answers to Common Heating, Cooling & Plumbing Questions

As part of our commitment to providing you the best customer experience possible, Shorty’s Plumbing & Heating Inc. has provided answers to common questions we hear regarding plumbing, heating and cooling. We hope we have the information you are looking for. If you still have questions or would like to schedule service, please give us a call.

Air Conditioning & Heating

Can I landscape around my air conditioning unit?

Per most manufacturers, plants should be no closer than 18” to your AC unit. Air conditioners need ample space to take in and exhaust air to operate efficiently. If air is not allowed to circulate, your unit could build up heat and potentially break down. York® makes AC units with optional colour panels that coordinate with your home’s design scheme. You won’t need to camouflage these.

Should I change my indoor coil?
If you are replacing your AC or heat pump system, then the answer is most likely yes. Your efficiency ratings are based on the performance of your entire, matched system. If you only replace the outdoor portion, your efficiency and cost savings will likely be less.
Do I really need to get duct cleaning?
A maze of ducts run inside the walls and floors of your Winnipeg home. As the supply ducts blow air into the rooms, return ducts inhale airborne dust and suck it back into the blower. Add moisture to this mixture and you have a breeding ground for allergy-inducing mould, mites and bacteria. Many common filters can’t keep dust and debris from streaming into the air and over time sizable accumulations can form.

 

Pull off some supply and return registers and take a look at your ducts. Shorty’s Plumbing & Heating Inc. recommends duct cleaning when installing a new furnace. Many duct cleaners tout benefits like cleaner indoor air, longer equipment life and lower energy costs. A clean HVAC system will perform more efficiently and last longer, which may decrease energy costs and reduce the need for costly replacement or repairs. Cleaning has little effect on air quality, primarily due to the fact that most indoor dust drifts in from the outdoors. But it will get rid of the stuff that mould and bacteria grow on, and that means less of it gets airborne, a boon to allergy sufferers.
What is the best furnace filter to use?

Standard furnace filters will not improve your indoor air quality. In order to do this, a media filter is needed, which sits between the main return duct and the blower cabinet. Media filters are at least 7 times more effective than a standard filter at removing dust and other particles. An upgrade to a pleated media filter will remove everything from insecticide dust to flu viruses. Compressed, media filters are usually no wider than 6 inches, but the pleated material can cover up to 75 square feet when stretched out. This increased area of filtration accounts for the filter’s long life, which can exceed 2 years. The only drawback to a media filter is its tight weave, which can restrict a furnace’s ability to blow air through the house. To insure a steady, strong airflow through the house, choose a filter that matches your blower’s capacity.

How do I maintain my humidifier?
Avoid mildew, bacteria and too much moisture caused by a neglected humidifier. Turn them off after the heating season ends. Pull the plug, shut the water valve and drain the unit. The water reservoir should be drained and cleaned with white vinegar, a mix of 1 part chlorine bleach to 8 parts water or muriatic acid. Mist humidifiers should also be cleaned regularly to remove mineral deposits.
How do I maintain my thermostat?

Thermostats rarely fail outright but your thermostat can degrade over time as mechanical parts stick or lose their calibration. Older units may send faulty signals if out of level or if they have dirty switches. You can recalibrate an older unit with a wrench by adjusting the nut on the back of the mercury switch until it turns the system on. Use a room thermometer to set the correct temperature. Modern electronic thermostats are sealed at the factory to keep out dust and grime and rarely need adjusting. Keep in mind that where your thermostat wire comes through the wall needs to be caulked, or a draft could affect the performance.

How do I maintain my blower?

Shorty’s Plumbing & Heating Inc. can expertly maintain the blower unit of your system. We are pleased to offer the following tips for do-it-yourselfers. You should lubricate the axle, clean the blades and check the lower motor to ensure the unit isn’t overloaded. The fan belt should deflect no more than an inch when pressed and accessible joints in your ducts should be sealed with mastic or UL-approved duct tape. Ducts outside the heated space should be insulated. On a hot-water system, the expansion tank should be drained, circulating pump cleaned and lubricated and air bled out of the radiators.

What preventative maintenance should I be aware of?

Your heating and cooling system, especially those installed by Shorty’s Plumbing & Heating Inc., should keep you comfortable year-round with the proper attention. For your convenience, we’ve provided the following tips:

  • Heat pumps and oil-fired furnaces and boilers require annual professional tune-ups.
  • Gas-fired equipment burns cleaner and can be serviced every other year.
  • Close inspections like those done by Shorty’s will uncover leaks, soot, rust, rot, corroded electrical contacts and frayed wires.
  • In furnace (forced-air) and boiler (hot-water) systems, the inspection should cover the chimney, ductwork or pipes, dampers or valves, blower or pump, registers or radiators, the fuel line and the gas meter or oil tank — as well as every part of the furnace or boiler itself.
  • Your system should be run through a full heating cycle to ensure that it has plenty of combustion air and chimney draft.
  • Clean the burner and heat exchanger to remove soot and other buildup which could affect smooth operation.
  • For your burner, adjust the flame to the right size and colour, adjust the flow of gas or change the fuel filter in an oil-fired system.
  • A heat pump check should include an inspection of the compressor, fan, indoor and outdoor coils and refrigerant lines. Indoor and outdoor coils should be cleaned, and the refrigerant pressure should be checked.
How long can I expect a new system to last?

If regular preventive maintenance of your AC unit or gas furnace is done by Shorty’s Plumbing & Heating Inc., you should meet (if not exceed) the industry averages of 12-15 years (gas furnace) and 20-25 years (AC).

What is involved in installing a new system?

Along with your new furnace, AC, the most significant component is ductwork, which can be either metal or fiberglass. Your ducts need to be properly sized to deliver the right amount of air to each room. The ductwork consists of supply and return ducts. The supply duct is attached to the outlet of the furnace or air handler and delivers air to individual zones in your home. Shorty’s Plumbing & Heating Inc. will determine the size of the ductwork going into a space by the amount of air that needs to be delivered to the space.

What is involved in replacing an old system?

Along with placing your new equipment, Shorty’s Plumbing & Heating Inc. inspects several items to make a determination of whether or not they need to be supplied or replaced. These items include:

  • Ductwork
  • Insulation
  • Refrigerant piping
  • Electrical elements
  • Wiring
  • Thermostat
  • Condensate piping
  • Flue piping
  • Flue terminations
  • Chimney liner
  • Slabs
  • Filter
  • Dryers
  • Registers
  • Drain pans
  • Evaporator coils
How do I select the right heating/cooling system?

Shorty’s Plumbing & Heating Inc. will provide a load calculation for your home. Next, consider any comfort issues as some products can reduce air stratification and uneven temperatures from room to room. If you have allergies, you might consider an indoor unit with ECM motor as it will allow air to circulate in your home continuously while filtering the air for about the same operating cost as a standard light bulb.

How expensive are air conditioning and heat pump systems?

Prices vary greatly due to factors like the size of your home, the condition of your ductwork and whether certain elements like thermostats need to be installed. Shorty’s Plumbing & Heating Inc. in Winnipeg features the impressive line of York® equipment that is sure to meet your needs, including your financial ones. Our family-run business is happy to assist you and your family.

Why should I replace my existing heating or air conditioning system?

If your AC or heating system is old, inefficient or in need of repairs, replacement is an option. Today’s systems can be as much as 60% more efficient than those manufactured as little as 10 years ago. Keep in mind that proper maintenance by professionals like Shorty’s Plumbing & Heating Inc. will help your system maintain efficiency. If you want to avoid another costly season of utility bills or you’re facing a costly repair, talk to Shorty’s about replacing. The utility savings may provide an attractive return on your investment. We have a wide range of models to meet your home’s needs and your budget.

Should I cover my outdoor condensing unit in the winter?

You don’t need to cover the unit but it will keep it cleaner in areas where there are a lot of trees and shrubs. Air conditioners are manufactured to withstand climate changes – including rain and snow.

Will replacing my furnace save on my energy bill?

Yes, it can. Depending on the efficiency of your current furnace, a new unit from Shorty’s Plumbing & Heating Inc. in Winnipeg can save you anywhere from 15% to 50% in gas consumption. Upgrading to a variable speed unit with D/C blower option can save up to 90% on power usage.

Is there any advantage to running my furnace fan continuously?

Yes. Running your fan circulates and helps filter the air while giving you more consistent temperatures throughout your house.

Is it possible to connect a BBQ to my home’s natural gas system?

Yes. Shorty’s Plumbing & Heating Inc. can help. If you have a BBQ with a natural gas burner, our licensed gas fitters can connect your unit to the natural gas piping.

Should I clean my furnace and air conditioner every year?

You will extend the life of your system and improve performance through regular cleaning and maintenance. Lack of maintenance is the No. 1 reason repairs and replacement parts are needed. The warranty of your unit may also be affected. Let Shorty’s help you with our protection plans. Join the Shortysfaction Club!

Do I need a humidifier?

A healthy environment is one with a relative humidity level in the range of 30%-60%. To achieve this level of humidity in the Manitoba winter months, you need a humidifier. New models such as Lennox® Healthy Climate® Bypass Humidifiers have fresh water drains, which prevent unwanted mildew deposits. People tend to associate the problems of calcium buildup and rust with humidifiers, but this is no longer the case with the newer models.

What size furnace or air conditioner will I need?

The Winnipeg heating experts at Shorty’s Plumbing & Heating Inc. will determine the proper size of furnace or AC unit with an in-home evaluation. The age and size of your home, the ductwork and type of insulation will all factor in to the process. Following a free evaluation, we can recommend the proper unit for your home.

What does SEER mean?

Seasonal Energy Efficient Rating. 13 SEER, the most common rating, means that your system is 40% more efficient than a system from 8 years ago. The higher the SEER, the better the rating, and the lower your utility bills.

How long should my furnace or air conditioner last?

Old units made prior to 1980 lasted approximately 10-15 years. New furnaces with a stainless steel heat exchanger come with a lifetime warranty. Old AC units last 10-12 years while newer ones can last 15-20 years when properly maintained.

Plumbing

Why do I constantly run out of hot water?

Older water heaters can become so full of sediment that it reduces the amount of water that can be heated in the tank. If your water heater is more than 8 years old, call Shorty’s Plumbing & Heating Inc. in Winnipeg to learn about your replacement options.

Why do I have to wait forever for hot water?

If you are tired of waiting for hot water, Shorty’s Plumbing & Heating Inc. has your answer. We can install one of our popular systems in about 1 hour that will effectively recirculate hot water between your tank and the far end of your home.

Why is my water bill so high?
You might have a problem with something simple like a leaky plumbing fixture or sprinkler head. The problem also could be from an underground pipe. Since under-slab leaks can eventually lead to foundation damage, any suspicion of a slab leak should be investigated immediately. Shorty’s Plumbing & Heating Inc. is here to help.
What’s the best way to check for toilet leaks?

Toilet leaks are both wasteful and expensive. We recommend checking your toilet at least once per year by adding a small amount of red food colouring to the tank. Check the bowl later and if your bowl water is red, water is seeping through from the tank. If you have a leak, take care of it fast with Shorty’s Plumbing & Heating Inc.

What should I do if my garbage disposal stops working?

Reset the switch located underneath most disposals before calling a professional.

What's the best way to extend the life of my garbage disposal?

We advise folks to use plenty of cold water and avoid overloading your disposal. Never put hard items like bones into the disposal and please do not use caustic drain chemicals.

Why doesn’t my old water heater work as well as it used to?

Sediment buildup in your tank is usually the culprit. As water heaters age, they accumulate sediment and lime deposits. If not removed periodically, sediment will create a barrier between the burner and the water, greatly reducing your unit’s performance. We advise you to have your burner periodically inspected. The flame should be blue with yellow tips. If it’s mostly yellow or sooty, your flue might be clogged. This is dangerous and should be inspected immediately by professionals like Shorty’s Plumbing & Heating Inc. You should have us check your water heater at least once per year. While we’re there, we will check your drain valve for leakage and the anode rods for corrosion.

Why do I hear a vibrating noise in my pipes?

Noise in your plumbing supply lines is normal. If you have a loose washer in your faucet or valve, you’ll hear it rattling. If you hear sounds when opening or closing faucets rapidly, it usually means the pipes are loose and simply need to be anchored more securely.

Should I close and open the main water supply shutoff valve periodically?

Yes. It’s a good idea to make sure it isn’t stuck in the open position in case an emergency arises. You should do the same for your sinks, tubs and toilets. When you invest in a protection plan with Shorty’s Plumbing & Heating Inc., you will enjoy an annual safety inspection to ensure all facets of your system are in order. We can prevent any unnecessary flooding or water damage. Not to mention, our plans will save you money by avoiding costly repairs in the future.

What causes my kitchen sink and washing machine drains to clog?

In many homes, your kitchen and laundry drains are connected. When lint from your laundry meets grease buildup from your kitchen, a nearly solid substance can form, thus resulting in blockages. Filters and strainers help but you’ll also need to get the drains snaked periodically.

Are caustic liquid drain openers harmful to pipes?

We always advise customers to never use liquid drain openers like Drano® or Liquid Plumr® on drains that are completely clogged. The chemicals can become trapped and severely damage your pipes. They should never be used when a garbage disposal is connected.

How can I prevent clogged drains?

Never rinse fats or cooking oils down your kitchen sink. Liquid fats solidify in cold pipes and create clogs. To help prevent clogs, have Shorty’s Plumbing & Heating Inc. fit your tubs and shower drains with a strainer that catches hair and soap chips. You should clean the strainer regularly.

What should I do to take care of my faucets and sinks?

Check under your sinks for moisture or small leaks. Repair leaky faucets immediately to avoid higher costs, wasted water and damage to your fixtures and pipes. Even a small drip can waste thousands of gallons of water over time. You should have your aerators removed and cleaned annually to ensure even water flow.

My bathroom faucet has low pressure, what can I do?

Check the emergency shutoff to make sure it’s fully open. If rubber washers or seals have begun to deteriorate, this will cause a loss in water pressure. Shorty’s Plumbing & Heating Inc. can check those for you. Keep in mind that calcium and lime buildup will also cause low water pressure.

Can I replace my two–handled faucet with a single–handle faucet?

The answer is usually yes as faucet dimensions and sink openings are standard throughout the industry. There are exceptions so be sure to check the size of the sink opening before buying fixtures.

My garbage disposal really smells, what can be done to prevent this?

Smells and the buildup of bacteria within a disposal are common. Shorty’s Plumbing & Heating Inc. is pleased to offer the following tip. Fill the disposal (about half full) with ice cubes. Run the disposal and flush it out with cold water. Once complete, put in half a lemon and grind it up for a fresh, citrus scent. The ice removes debris and the lemon disinfects and provides a nice smell.

Why does my faucet make a clunking noise when I turn it on?

About 99% of the time, this noise is caused by a loose washer. It is easily resolved by taking apart your faucet and replacing the old washer and screw. The clunking could also indicate a water pressure problem, which can prematurely age your home’s plumbing. Shorty’s Plumbing & Heating Inc. can quickly determine the cause of your problem.

General

Where do I get replacement parts?

Contact Shorty’s Plumbing & Heating Inc. and we’ll get the parts you need in a hurry.

What is covered in my warranty?

York® products sold and installed by Shorty’s Plumbing & Heating Inc. come with a written limited warranty on parts. The warranty states that a replacement part will be furnished for any part of your product that fails during normal use during the applicable warranty period specified in the warranty terms. We will review the warranty periods for the products you select.