At Three T’s Plumbing, Heating and Cooling, Inc. we understand the heating, plumbing, and HVAC problems you experience on a day to day basis. What IS that noise coming from my furnace? Are my pipes frozen? Why can’t I take a hot shower? That’s why we’ve taken the time to compile the most frequently asked questions we get from our clients and made this information available to you! Whether you have a winter plumbing or summer HVAC problem, consult the experts at Three T’s Plumbing, Heating and Cooling, Inc. for all your heating, plumbing, and HVAC needs. Allow us to find the problem and fix it—especially before you try anything on your own!

What if I smell gas?

 If the smell is only faint throughout all areas of your home, call your plumbing and heating professional at Three T’s right away. If you smell a strong, persistent odor, exit your home immediately.  Do not light a match, start an engine, use a cell phone, or do anything that may create a spark. From a safe area, contact your gas company or call 911. If you are able, turn the gas off at the meter. Stay away from your home until you’ve been told that it is safe to return. Keep the house well ventilated by opening windows.

My pilot light went out and I cannot relight it. I'm following the directions, and can smell gas but cannot get it lit.

 Make sure to hold down the red pilot light button for at least a minute and then slowly release it. If the pilot light won’t light, call Three T’s Plumbing and Heating to schedule a trained technician.

Some rooms in our house are too hot or too cold. Can this be fixed?

 This can occur for many reasons; direct sunlight from the windows, an undersized system, improperly balanced or clogged system or a single system serving a two-story home with no zoning control. There are a variety of causes for airflow problems. Sometimes the problems are due to a dirty filter, coil, and/or blower which results in reduced air flow passing through the air handler and causing the air to die off in the outer branches of the duct system. From time to time the duct work comes loose and a minor reattachment repair can solve the problem. In any of these cases, there are duct design issues. In these cases, a professional from Three T’s Plumbing and Heating should be called in to troubleshoot the situation. Solutions can range from some simple air balancing to replacement of ducts to advanced climate control systems such as a zone system.

My furnace uses propane gas and cold air is coming out of the register, what should I do?

Check the gauge on your fuel tank. If your gauge says there is fuel, call Three T’s Plumbing and Heating to schedule a trained technician.

At what temperature should I set my thermostat?

 Normal heating settings are 68 degrees to 72 degrees. Normal cooling settings are 75 degrees to 80 degrees. Your thermostat should be set to the highest possible setting that is comfortable for you in the summer, and the lowest comfortable setting in the winter. In this way setting your thermostat will maximize your energy savings.

Does installing a programmable thermostat really save me money?

 It’s a fact that a programmable thermostat will save you money. Programmable thermostats adjust the temperature automatically throughout the day, saving you as much as 33% on heating costs and up to 15-to-25% on cooling. Try to place your thermostat in a central location where the temperature is relatively consistent with the rest of your home.

How can I reduce my energy costs?

 Here are some suggestions that can help you reduce your energy costs:
• Upgrade to a high-efficiency air conditioning system can cut electricity bills by up to one-third. Schedule a FREE in-home consultation from Three T’s Heating and Plumbing to receive an estimate showing how much you can save by upgrading to a high efficiency system.
• Typically, adjusting temperatures 5–8 degrees (down in winter, up in summer) can help save energy if you’re going to be away from home for several hours.
• Upgrade to a new high-efficiency furnace that will use up to 50% less fuel than an older system. It can save you up to 25 % of your home-heating costs in one   year, and within a few years, you’ll have recovered the initial cost of replacing/upgrading your furnace. Choosing a model with an energy efficient motor can save   20% to 50% of the energy needed to continuously operate a fan motor.
• Have an annual maintenance performed on your furnace by a licensed Three T’s Plumbing and Heating HVAC technician to ensure it operates at its peak efficiency and catches any potential breakdowns before they occur.
• Install a programmable thermostat enables you to control your home’s temperature when you’re away or asleep. Set it once and leave it alone.
• Keep your supply and return air vents free of objects like blinds, carpets or furniture so your furnace can operate efficiently and there is even heat distribution.
• By closing the vents in less-used rooms you won’t be spending money heating/cooling rooms that are used less.
• Install ceiling fans – Change the direction of airflow on your ceiling fans. In the winter, the blades should operate in a clockwise direction helping to push the   warm air from the ceiling down into the room.

What is the average life expectancy of equipment?

 Most systems have a lifetime of 10 to 20 years. As your equipment gets older, its efficiency can dramatically decrease. You may notice that it gets noisier and needs repairs more often. When a unit begins to show its age, you have two choices. You can overhaul the system or replace it. Because heating and cooling technologies have improved so much over time, a new system designed with newer, more energy-efficient equipment makes sense, especially if your system is 10 or more years old. Schedule a FREE in-home consultation from Three T’s Plumbing and Heating. We can estimate the cost of a new system as well as a payback schedule that will show you how newer technology will pay you back in lower energy usage.

When should I replace my furnace?

 Although your present furnace or air conditioner may be working, if it is more than 12 years old you should consider replacing it with a new high efficiency system. Frequently owners start considering replacing their units when the frequency and costs of repairs become a bigger headache than the cost of replacing the unit. A new heating and air conditioning system could save up to 50% on energy costs, and save you money in the long run on heating repairs. While these products save you money on your utility bills, they also offer a better degree of comfort within your home. Furnaces eventually wear out just like any piece of machinery. Your Three T’s professional HVAC service technician will see certain indicators that tell them your furnace is wearing out.

How do I select the right heating/cooling system?

 First, make sure the unit is properly sized. Schedule a FREE in-home consultation from a Three T’s Plumbing and Heating representative to provide a load calculation for your home and an energy analysis to determine operating cost. Next, consider any comfort issues in the home. Some products can reduce air stratification and uneven temperatures from room to room. If you have allergies, an indoor unit with an ECM motor will allow you to circulate the air in your home continuously while filtering the air for about the same cost as operating a standard light bulb. Finally, know your budget parameters and the efficiency of the system being proposed. Does the system offer a payback? In other words, will the monthly savings over time offset the cost of the new unit or efficiency option being considered? There are many factors to consider when selecting a new heating and/or cooling system.

Today’s systems are as much as 60% more efficient than those systems manufactured as little as ten years ago. In addition, if not properly maintained, wear and tear on a system can reduce the actual or realized efficiency of the system. If you are concerned about utility bills or are faced with an expensive repair, you may want to consider replacing your system rather than enduring another costly season or paying to replace an expensive component. The utility cost savings of a new unit may provide an attractive return on your investment

How can I find out if I am spending too much on heating and cooling for my home?

 How do you know how much is too much? Start with your utility company; they can help a great deal. Comparing previous bills isn’t always a good measure, as the weather is never exactly the same month to month. Instead, if you take your energy bill and divide it by the square footage of livable space in your home — don’t count areas like unfinished garages or basements — you can calculate how much you are spending to heat or cool each square foot of your home. Your energy provider can tell you what the average cost per square foot is in your region for that same period of time so you can compare apples to apples.

My HVAC system is over seven years old and runs constantly. Can it be repaired?

 Even if your system is still working, depending on the type of system in your home today, you could recoup your investment in a new system in as little as three years. That doesn’t mean that your system absolutely has to be replaced. Heating and cooling systems have made tremendous gains in efficiency over the past five years, so if you have an older system, it is worth taking a look at whether it would make sense to go ahead and upgrade now.

Is it possible to replace just the outdoor unit on an older system to save money?

 No, replacing only the outdoor unit will lower the efficiency of the unit. In fact, you can lose up to 15% of the unit’s efficiency! Even worse, your system may fail sooner than normal and most manufacturers’ warranties will be voided. You should always replace the indoor cooling coil at the same time as the outdoor unit.

Why is a system with matched components so important?

 When all your components are properly sized to your home, you can control exactly how much heating or cooling you need. Also, a properly sized matched system enables every component to perform as designed, meaning proper cycle times are maintained, humidity is controlled, and system sound is minimized. Another reason matched systems are important is efficiency. Most systems people buy are too large for their homes and use more energy than needed. A matched system as outlined by your professional Three T’s Plumbing and Heating representative who has completed a load calculation for your home provides just the right amount of heating and cooling you need so you get the most value.

Will a bigger sized system perform better?

No, an oversized furnace will warm the house quicker, but it uses more fuel and causes greater temperature swings in the home. A unit that is too big for your home will have short run cycles. It may take only a short time to cool the air, but the unit shuts off before enough air blows across the indoor coil where moisture condenses into water and drains from your system. Too much moisture left in the air can lead to mold and mildew problems. These short run cycles also mean your system starts and stops more often, which uses more energy and causes a lot of wear and tear. An air conditioner operates more efficiently during long run cycles.

Why should I buy Energy Star labeled equipment?

The average home spends about $1,900 annually on energy bills. Heating and cooling accounts for as much as half of a home’s energy use. The EPA provides important recommendations for energy-efficient equipment, including proper sizing, quality installation and maintenance, and other home improvement considerations to help you get the most out of the heating and cooling products you purchase, save energy, and save as much as 20% annually on your total energy costs. ENERGY STAR qualified products prevent greenhouse gas emissions by meeting strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)

How can I reduce allergens and improve the air quality in my home?

With a high efficiency air cleaner, you can remove up to 99% of the pollen and spores that find their way into the home. There is also a great reduction in household dust, dirt, smoke, and other air pollutants. Your indoor air will become cleaner and fresher while reducing the allergens and dust that circulate throughout the house. With a whole house humidifier, you can relieve the irritating discomfort of dry indoor air. The humidifier reduces itchy skin, scratchy throats, static electricity, and damage to your furnishings and woodwork. Since humid air feels warmer than dry air, you do not have to set the thermostat as high to feel the comfort you want. A lower thermostat setting will reduce the costs of your energy bill. Three T’s Plumbing and Heating offers a complete line of indoor air quality products to meet your needs.

Do I really have to change my air filter often?

Yes, all of the air in your home circulates and re-circulates through the same filter attached to your indoor unit. Designed to remove dust particles to keep the air you breathe clean, filters become clogged, causing your system to work less efficiently and costing you more to operate it. If left unchanged long enough, your system could fail completely. Sign up for Three T’s Bi-Annual System Check and we will automatically change your filters for you twice a year.

Why should I switch to a high-efficiency air filter?

Proper air filtration is just as important to the health of your heating and cooling system as it is to the health of your family. Without proper filtration, dust and dirt can build up on your system, which impacts operation and efficiency. A high-efficiency filter will remove more dust, dirt, pollen, mold, and other particles from the air. If you suffer from allergies or other respiratory problems, you should strongly consider a high efficiency filter. No matter what type of filter you have – make sure you change it regularly. Sign up for Three T’s Bi-Annual System Check and we will automatically change your filters for you twice a year.

How can we improve the efficiency of an existing heating and cooling system without replacing the furnace or the air conditioner and without adding more insulation?

First and foremost is MAINTENANCE. The equipment needs to be cleaned and serviced by a licensed trained professional at least twice per year. Studies have shown that lack of proper maintenance can reduce equipment efficiency by 5 – 10%. In addition, most of today’s filters need to be changed a minimum of every 90 days, and don’t skimp on the filter. You should use a filter that has a high efficiency rating to help keep your air and equipment clean. After a thorough cleaning of your equipment, the service technician will adjust the Freon levels in your air conditioner to the manufacturer’s specifications. An over charged unit is just as bad as an under charged unit when it comes to energy consumption. On the heating side, the burners should be cleaned for maximum performance, as well as adjusting the gas pressure, and cleaning the blower wheel. In order to make sure our customers’ equipment is operating as efficiently as possible, we offer our popular Bi-Annual System Check. For less than $30 a month, you save time, money and frustration while increasing efficiency and comfort in your home. Contact us now to see if you qualify for our BASC program.

What determines if I need to replace rather than repair my unit?

If your unit is ten years old or older, requires frequent repairs or stops working, fails to heat or cool areas of your home, runs excessively or constantly turns on and off, or produces high utility bills, it can be more economical to replace your existing system. We can send a home comfort specialist to your home for a FREE consultation to examine your home inside and out to determine the right system for your needs. Many homeowners assume that a new HVAC system will solve their problems, and sometimes that is the case, but frequently there are underlying issues that need to be addressed simultaneously to achieve the kinds of efficiencies possible with a new unit.

Should I have my furnace and air conditioner serviced every year?

Yes. Keeping your system properly maintained will lower energy and repair costs, prevent breakdowns and prolong the life of your equipment. Neglecting necessary maintenance ensures a steady decline in air conditioning performance while energy use steadily increases. You should have a regular tune-up twice a year — typically at the beginning of each heating and cooling season — to ensure that your system is working efficiently before the weather gets too hot or cold. However, tune-ups may be scheduled at any time. Give Three T’s Plumbing and Heating a call before the next season starts. Ask about our popular Bi-Annual System Check and save time and money on service, emergencies, and installations.

What can I do to maintain my furnace?

Your forced-air heating system will perform more efficiently (i.e. save you money on energy bills and repair costs) if you…

• Inspect filters once a month and replace them when they are dirty.
• Make sure air supply and return vents in your home are not obstructed. Make sure nothing is in front of them or on top of them such as furniture, curtains, boxes, toys, etc.
• Check chimney and venting systems once a year for secure fittings, leaks, corrosion, or damage.
• Keep area around furnace clean and clutter free. Keep at least 3 – 4 feet totally clear all the way around your furnace.
• Do not block the source of furnace combustion air by enclosing furnace in a small closet or by making the room it is located in too air tight. The furnace needs to pull air from its immediate surroundings.
• If your system operates on propane gas or fuel oil, regularly check your propane gas or fuel oil percentage to make sure you do not run out.

What can I do to maintain my air conditioner or heat pump?

Regular maintenance will extend the life of your equipment and reduce repair costs. Here are some simple tasks that should be done:
• Inspect filters once a month and replace them when they are dirty.
• Make sure air supply and returns vents in your home are not obstructed. Make sure nothing is in front of them.
• Keep debris, grass clippings, dirt, and leaves away from outdoor unit.
• Use a hose to clear the aluminum fins from airborne debris (be careful, the fins bend easily. Use a regular hose without a spray nozzle, and a very soft brush with light to no pressure).

Are seasonal maintenance plans worth the investment?

Each spring and each fall before you start using your cooling or heating system, you should get a tune-up to ensure your HVAC system is ready for the season. By spending a little, you can save a lot in energy bills by keeping your system operating at peak efficiency. You also can avoid costly repairs by identifying and fixing minor problems before they turn into big ones. Plus, many homeowners don’t realize that their manufacturer warranties may be considered invalid if they aren’t getting their unit serviced twice a year. We offer our popular Bi-Annual System Check to ensure the lowest price and greatest efficiency for our customers. Contact us now to see if you qualify for our BASC program.

I am concerned about mold growth, what should I do?

When humid air passes over chilled cooling coils, water condenses and drips through the coils into a collection pan, from which it continuously drains. Problems with these systems may occur when this water collects and becomes stagnant when it becomes blocked, either on the coils or in the drip pan. The pan will grow mold that can infect your home with dangerous mold spores very quickly. Problems also exist when the HVAC ducting contains microscopic mold spores that stay continually present and blow contaminants around the home or office often caused by mold in other parts of your home.

You can do three things to prevent mold growth in your system:
1. Preventative maintenance will ensure that the collection pan under the indoor coil stays clean and clog free.
2. Install ultra violet lights next to the cooling coils to kill any mold or bacteria growing on the coils or collection pan.
3. Keep your ductwork clean and use a high-efficiency filtration system to keep your entire HVAC system clean.

What is a Heat Pump?

Heat pumps are a great solution for your home comfort system because they work to provide both heating and cooling. Heat pumps have SEER ratings like air conditioners and Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) ratings for measuring heating efficiency. Higher SEER and HSPF ratings mean greater energy savings. Heat pumps are a very efficient alternative to electric heat. A heat pump works the same as an air conditioner in the summer, but it runs in reverse in the winter to heat your home. The system will be matched with a backup heating source, most often electric heat for those extremely cold days of winter.

What is a Hybrid Heat Dual Fuel system?

With a traditional heating and cooling system, if you wanted to save more, you had to use less. But a Hybrid Heat system combines the benefits of intelligent control for both gas and electric heating to create an intuitive system that can actually react to changing conditions. No matter what the temperature is outside, a Hybrid Heat system will automatically select the fuel source most efficient for your home, which means you’ll stay warm in the winter, cool in the summer and save money all year long.

What is a Geothermal system?

The Earth absorbs almost 50% of all solar energy and remains a constant temperature of 50°F to 70°F depending on geographical location. A geothermal unit utilizes this constant temperature for heating and cooling your home. You can realize up to 60% energy savings vs. traditional systems. There is no flame, no flue, no odors and no loud outdoor equipment. Heating, air conditioning and hot water can all be attained from a single compact unit.

What are advantages of equipment with variable speed fans?

Variable speed fans operate on a simple principle: they are able to spin at different speeds depending on the heating and cooling needs of your home. Usually, they operate at lower speeds, delivering a steady, reliable stream of warm or cool air to your home. When conditions become more extreme, the fan speed increases so that the system can meet increased demand, guaranteeing that on even the hottest days or coldest nights, your comfort needs will be met. Older systems simply switch on or off. Newer, variable speed systems lower your utility bills by only using the energy needed to heat or cool your home at any given time.

Can carbon monoxide build up in my home?

Yes. Each year, carbon monoxide kills more than 200 Americans and sends nearly 5,000 more to emergency rooms for treatment, reports the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Where does it come from? When carbon-based fuels, such as gas, oil, kerosene or wood, burn they produce gases. When fuel combustion or burning isn’t complete, carbon monoxide enters the air. The CPSC advises that carbon monoxide detectors are the only way to alert yourself to the presence of toxic gas in your home. If you wake in the night with a headache — and especially if another member of the family complains of a headache or is difficult to arouse — get out of the house fast and seek medical help. We recommend carbon monoxide detectors be installed in your home!