Water Heater Problems? 4 Early Warning Signs to Watch For

Has your water heater done something odd lately? This appliance is usually the last thing on a homeowner’s mind, but strange sounds, not enough hot water and mysterious leaks are hard to ignore. These are among the warning signs you should watch for to prevent bigger water heater problems in the future.

Read on to learn about water heater sounds, leaks, pilot light issues, and circuit breaker problems.

Warning Signs of Water Heater Problems

When our team answers calls for water heater repair in the Greater Toronto Area, we often find that the homeowner noticed at least one red flag beforehand. These are some of the most common warning signs of water heater problems:

  • Loud knocking/popping/banging sounds, which indicates a layer of sediment at the bottom of the tank.
  • Pilot light that won’t stay lit, usually because of a defective thermostat, thermocouple, or pilot tube.
  • Leaks from the top of the tank (a minor issue) or bottom of the tank (much more serious)
  • Circuit breaker tripping when the water heater is in use due to electrical issues.
  • Not enough hot water for a shower

Most of these issues are minor if dealt with early on. However, they can lead to more serious water heater problems if not addressed.

We’ll look at each of these issues in more detail below.

1. Water Heater Making a Knocking, Banging, Popping Noise

It can be alarming to hear sudden pops and bangs coming from inside the water tank. Why would a water heater make knocking noises when there isn’t there anything but water in there?

Fortunately, the cause of the popping noise is not something serious. The sound you hear is most likely the sound of steam bubbles bursting through a layer of mineral scale that rests on the bottom of the tank.

Water heater tanks accumulate a layer of mineral sediment on the inside over time. The harder the water, the more minerals deposit on the sides and bottom of the tank. Since the water in our region is considered moderately hard (between 6 and 7 grains per gallon) water heaters in Toronto are prone to this issue.

When the bottom heating element heats up, the water between the element and sediment boils and escapes with a popping sound.

Why is this a bad sign? Because that amount of sediment is going to make your water heater less efficient. With a layer of gunk sitting obstructing the heating element, the heater has to consume more energy to maintain the desired water temperature.

2. Water Heater Pilot Light Won’t Stay Lit

Most gas-powered water heaters use a pilot light to ignite the heating element. Without it, the heat won’t kick in when it’s in demand.

What does it mean if a water heater pilot light stays lit? There are several potential causes. When a pilot light keeps going out, it may indicate a problem with one or more of the following components:

  • Control thermostat
    Part of the gas valve assembly, this component monitors temperature and lets you adjust the temperature using a dial.
  • Thermocouple
    The thermocouple uses an electrical current to gauge whether the pilot light is on. When defective, dirty or damaged, it can restrict the supply of gas to the pilot assembly.
  • Pilot Tube
    The tube that supplies gas to the water heater can be obstructed by dirt and grime. Anything that prevents a clear path can cause the pilot light to go out frequently.

3. Water Heater Leaking from the Top

When a water heater leaks from the bottom, it’s an emergency that necessitates shutting down the appliance and calling for water heater repair. Leaks from the top are usually less urgent.

Most of the time, a water heater leaking from the top simply needs to have its fittings tightened in the areas where water enters or leaves the tank: the cold water inlet, temperature and pressure release valve (TPR or TP valve), or anode rod.

However, these small leaks can point to bigger problems. A damaged TP valve, for example, is an urgent problem that should be addresses immediately. In rare cases, a water heater leaking from the top could have a crack or hole, which indicates extensive corrosion.

If you cannot easily identify the source of the leak, it’s worth having the water heater inspected by a professional to head off more serious issues.

4. Water Heater Tripping Circuit Breaker (Electric Tank)

Compared to the other water heater problems on this list, a tripped circuit seems minor. But when it happens over and over again, it’s much more than a simple annoyance.

If a water heater keeps tripping the circuit breaker, it may have to do with a malfunctioning heating element. The casing of the element can split and expose its electrical components to the water, causing a short circuit.

Wiring issues with the water heater thermostat can also trip the circuit.

In either case, the appliance should be assessed by a professional.

5. Not Enough Hot Water

If you notice the hot water isn’t as hot as it used to be this usually requires a service call. There are a few issues that could cause this but as a home owner make sure the thermostat is set properly on the knob near the gas valve. On newer hot water tanks there is an electronic controller that indicates a normal position.

Water Heater Repair in the Greater Toronto Area

Need water heater repair in Toronto or the GTA? Since it’s between the busy seasons for air conditioner and furnace inspection, fall is a great time to have your water heater inspected or repaired.

Call us or request a free quote for water heater repair at any time.

Water Heater Maintenance: 3 Things You Should Do With Your Water Heater At Least Once a Year

When it comes to water heaters, a few minutes of maintenance goes a long way. Most water heater problems are preventable with proper care. Unfortunately, many people go years without having their water heater serviced.

Performing these three basic maintenance tasks today will reduce the risk of costly water heater repairs down the road:

  1. Test the pressure release valve
  2. Flush the tank
  3. Inspect the anode rod

Below, we’ll explain why these aspects of water heater maintenance are so important.

1. Test the Pressure Release Valve

All water heaters have an essential safety device called a temperature and pressure release valve (often called a TPR valve or T&P valve). This valve is designed to gauge pressure inside of the water heater tank and open automatically to release pressure when necessary.

Without a working temperature and pressure release valve, there is a risk that the tank can over-pressurize due to excess heat — and potentially explode. While unlikely, the risk is one no homeowner should take.

Most water heater maintenance is about ensuring the efficiency and longevity of the unit. Testing the temperature and pressure release valve, however, is a vital safety issue.

2. Flush the Tank

Over time, naturally-occurring calcium will deposit on the interior sides of the water tank. Much of this sediment settles at the bottom of the tank. Although this doesn’t affect the water quality, it can interfere with the water heater’s performance, since it creates a barrier between the water and the heating element at the bottom of the tank.

The trouble with sediment is that it accumulates slowly. Most homeowners won’t notice a change to their water, and it’s only gradually that the water heater will become less efficient. By the time someone points out the issue, it may be difficult to restore the appliance to peak condition.

To prevent sediment build-up, homeowners should have the water heater tank flushed at least once a year. Flushing the tank involves shutting power to the water heater, closing the cold-water inlet, and opening the pressure and drain valves to allow water to drain until it runs clear. It’s a dirty job, and one that requires caution, since the water inside the tank is extremely hot.

Some homeowners do flush the tank themselves, and there are videos that demonstrate the process online. For safety reasons, we recommend calling an HVAC technician with experience in water heater repair and maintenance.

3. Inspect the Anode Rod

This maintenance issue should be done by a professional. Inside every tank-style water heater is a replaceable rod called an anode. The rod is made of a reactive metal like zinc or aluminium. So long as the anode is in place, the water’s electrolytes will corrode the rod instead of the walls of the tank.

But that anode doesn’t last forever. Eventually, it disintegrates, leaving the tank prone to corrosion.

Proper water heater maintenance includes removing the anode to ensure it is still intact. If the rod is less than half an inch in diameter, it’s time to replace it.

Bonus: Tidy Up Around the Tank

In most homes, the water heater is installed in one of two places: a laundry room or basement utility room. Both locations are prone to fill up with boxes and other clutter. But unless the owner’s manual states otherwise, it’s best to maintain at least 2 feet of clearance around the water heater tank.

If you have to clear away clutter before you can perform maintenance, don’t put those objects back where you found them. Leave plenty of space around the tank to make future maintenance a breeze!

2018 Fall/Winter Weather Forecast: What to Expect in the GTA

When the Farmer’s Almanac released its 2018 winter forecast for Ontario and the rest of Canada, it sent shivers down our spines. The 200-year-old periodical predicted a “teeth-chatteringly cold winter” for most of Canada, with the lowest temperatures afflicting the Prairies, Quebec, and our home province of Ontario.

But the story doesn’t end there. On September 1st, Environment Canada released its own extended winter forecast, which paints a different picture of winter in the Greater Toronto Area.

Since our team is on-call 24/7 for furnace repair in Toronto and the GTA, we’re always paying close attention to the weather. To that end, we want to take a closer look at these opposing predictions to understand what’s really in store for Ontario’s 2018 winter forecast.

What Climatologists Say About the 2018 Fall and Winter Forecast

Per Senior Climatologist Dave Phillips, Canadians can expect a “milder than normal” fall and winter this year.

He predicts the transition from summer to fall will be a gentle one, with warmer-than-usual temperatures across the country. This is already evident here in the Greater Toronto Area, with record-high temperatures hanging over the first week of school.

Around the Great Lakes (including the GTA) the warm weather will likely be punctuated by plenty of rain and thunderstorms. Our region has already seen a severe thunderstorm watch this week.

Brett Anderson, a Senior Meteorologist for AccuWeather, adds that the widespread fall warmth might delay the peak fall foliage season by a week or two.

Regardless, the weather should leave plenty of time for Toronto homeowners to get their homes ready for winter. Environment Canada’s Dave Phillips agrees: “This fall, Canadians shouldn’t be thinking about migrating or hibernating,” he said in an interview with CTV, “Canadians should be outside enjoying the mild fall weather instead.”

As for winter? In contrast to the Farmer’s Almanac warning of teeth-chattering cold, Environment Canada’s long-range forecast calls for an unusually warm winter thanks to the influence of El Niño.

El Niño, a warming in the Pacific Ocean, typically results in higher temperatures and greater precipitation in the Greater Toronto Area. The last two El Niño winters occurred in 2016 and 2010, two of the warmest winters in Canadian history.

To summarize Environment Canada’s 2018 fall and winter forecast for Ontario:

  • There will be a gradual transition from summer, with milder temperatures lasting well into fall.
  • Toronto and the GTA can expect plenty of fall rain and thunderstorms.
  • The influence of El Niño will likely make for a milder-than-normal winter.

Why the Difference?

It’s not unusual for the Farmer’s Almanac and government climatologists to come to vastly different conclusions about the forecast.

Environment Canada’s method centres on analysing water temperatures in Canada and around the world, using what we know about patterns like El Niño to anticipate how global trends will impact Canada in the coming months.

The Farmer’s Almanac, on the other hand, keeps their methodology secret, but says it combines “sunspot activity, tidal action of the Moon, the position of the planets, and a variety of other factors.”

Long-range weather forecasts are never an exact science. However, we know Environment Canada uses recognized models that incorporate mathematics and climate science. Besides, we couldn’t blame you for hoping for a gentler winter after last year’s frigid temperatures.

Don’t Wait Until Winter for Furnace Maintenance

With a potentially warm fall on the horizon, you may be tempted to postpone this year’s furnace maintenance appointment a while.

But just because it’s not cold yet doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare.

Late summer/ early fall is a great time of year to close your air conditioner and get your furnace ready for the winter. With the back-to-school hustle behind us and the holidays months away, there’s finally time to deal with these essential but often-overlooked home maintenance tasks.

Call us or fill out our contact form to book your furnace maintenance appointment.

Fall Tips For Senior Home Maintenance

As summer slowly comes to an end, now is a great time for seniors to start thinking about preparing for winter. Taking care of your home before any issues arise is a great way to minimize unexpected damages. Maintenance is important to improve health, safety and possibly your bank account! Here are some tips for seniors to consider while we still have some sun:


  1. Check the furnace. Every home should have good indoor air quality. Inspect your furnace filter and ensure it’s clean for the winter. You may be spending more time indoors so you will want to make sure you and your loved ones are breathing in clean air. Read this for more tips.
  2. Protect the air conditioner. Your air conditioner should also be cleaned from summer use. Removing any debris may prolong its lifespan and save you time next summer when you’re ready to use it again. After it’s been cleaned, be sure to cover it so that it doesn’t become damaged throughout the winter.
  3. Get your ducts in a row. Duct cleaning is also linked to good air quality. When dust collects inside ducts, it can affect your furnace’s performance. Dusty ducts will fill up the furnace’s filter and the dirty cycle begins. You may also find some lost treasures you’ve been missing in the ducts, or unwanted critters. AtlasCare technicians are experienced and can do this for you.
  4. Check your windows and doors. Cold air can get through any crack or gap. Inspect your windows to ensure there aren’t any obvious issues where winter can make its way into your home. Your furnace will continue to run if the temperature inside the home is not controlled. For both windows and doors, also check that the locks are working. Keeping them locked can keep the cold and other unwanted guests out.

These easy steps can allow for a stress-free winter – even spring. It’s important for anyone to stay on top of home maintenance, but if you’re a senior and need assistance, seek help from a loved one or a professional.


Why Do Air Conditioners Freeze? 5 Possible Causes of a Frozen Air Conditioner

A frozen air conditioner? Strange as it sounds, it happens. We answer hundreds of calls for air conditioner repair in Toronto and the GTA each year, and there are always a few homeowners asking how to fix a frozen air conditioner. So, why do air conditioners freeze in the first place, and what can you do about it?

Why Do Air Conditioners Freeze?

In most cases, the cause of a frozen air conditioner has to do with an interruption in the heat transfer process.

The most common type of central air conditioning in Toronto is the split system. Split central air conditioners work by drawing warm air out of the home with the help of a blower fan; the warm air moves through the air ducts until it reaches the evaporator coil. There, a heat transfer takes place. The air is cooled by refrigerant as it passes over the coil, and the refrigerant disperses the heat outside through the outdoor condenser unit.

What does this have to do with air conditioners freezing up? When something prevents this heat transfer from happening, the ice-cold refrigerant can freeze condensation that builds on the evaporator coil.

Left untouched, ice can encase the entire indoor unit and even spread to the outdoor components.

An air conditioner that continues to freeze up or is frozen for an extended time can be severely damaged. If your air conditioner is frozen, we recommend calling for air conditioner repair in Toronto or the GTA as soon as possible.

Possible Causes of a Frozen Air Conditioner

The following are common causes of ice build-up on a split central air conditioner:

  1. Leak in the refrigerant line causing low pressure
  2. Poor airflow to the evaporator coil
  3. Dirt build-up on the evaporator coil
  4. Low outdoor temperature (16°C/62°F)
  5. Malfunctioning blower fan

1. Refrigerant Leak

Putting refrigerant under pressure causes its temperature to rise; the opposite occurs when it expands. Air conditioners use this effect to cool the evaporator coil and transfer heat from the warm indoor air to the air outside.

A leak in the refrigerant line (even a very small one) causes pressure to drop. As a result, the refrigerant is forced to expand more, causing the evaporator coils to become colder. This temperature shift may not be evident at first, but if the system continues to lose refrigerant, more and more ice will accumulate on the coils.

If the air conditioner is in good condition overall and has years of useful life left, a qualified heating and cooling technician can fix the problem by repairing the leak and ‘recharge’ the refrigerant. For older units, a refrigerant leak is often caused for replacement.

2. Poor Airflow

A split central air conditioner lowers the home’s temperature by drawing warm air into the ductwork and through the evaporator coils to transfer the heat outside. In the process, moisture from the air builds up on the coils as condensation. The heat absorbed by the refrigerant prevents this moisture from freezing.

But what if warm air can’t get through to the coils? The heat transfer cannot take place if something is obstructing the flow of air. In that case, there is nothing to keep the condensate from turning to ice.

There are many possible reasons for poor airflow to an air conditioner:

  1. Filters have not been cleaned or replaced in more than three months
  2. Supply registers blocked by furniture or other objects
  3. Closed or blocked gates or dampers
  4. Air ducts clogged with dust or debris
  5. Air duct leak

The first three are potential causes are things homeowners can investigate themselves. Inspecting air ducts for leaks or obstructions is messier and more difficult.

If you suspect a problem with your air ducts, contact a qualified HVAC technician you trust (not a door-to-door duct cleaning salesperson.)

3. Dirty Evaporator Coils

Few people realize how much dust and debris build up in their central heating and cooling system. Most of it is caught in the air filter or ductwork before it reaches the air conditioner, but dirt can accumulate on the evaporator coils over time.

A layer of dirt between the air and the coils makes it harder for the refrigerant to absorb heat. The result? Condensate begins to freeze on the coils, further limiting heat transfer.

Most homeowners do not have the expertise to inspect or clean the evaporator coils without risking damage to the air conditioner. Call a qualified technician if your central air conditioner requires maintenance.

4. Low Outdoor Temperature

Central air conditioners require a warm ambient temperature to transfer heat outside the home. If the outdoor temperature drops below a certain threshold (usually 16°C or 62°F), the system cannot operate properly, and ice can form on the coils.

Low temperature is not normally a concern in the summer months in Ontario, but the temperature can drop suddenly at night on rare occasions. This is one reason why it’s wise to program the thermostat to shut off the air conditioning at night.

Barring an unseasonably warm September, homeowners should take steps to close the air conditioner come fall.

5. Damaged Blower Fan

The blower fan pulls warm air into the air ducts then re-distributes cool air throughout the home. If the fan or its motor malfunctions, the heat transfer process comes to a standstill, and ice will begin to accumulate on the evaporator coils if the air conditioner continues to run.

My Air Conditioner Is Frozen – What Should I Do?

The most common causes of a frozen air conditioner are heat transfer issues: low pressure due to a refrigerant leak, a lack of warm air reaching the evaporator coil, or low ambient temperature.

If the problem stems from a dirty air filter, blocked vents, or closed dampers, the homeowner can usually resolve it. Other issues, such as a refrigerant leak, dirty evaporator coils, or blower fan malfunction, should be addressed by a professional qualified in air conditioner repair.

Our team is on-call 24 hours a day for air conditioner repair in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area. View our service area here or click here for a free estimate.

Central Air Conditioner Buying Guide: What to Consider When Installing an Air Conditioner in Toronto

A central air conditioner is a significant and long-lasting investment in your home. Knowing what to consider when choosing a central air conditioner is important to ensure you choose a reliable system that fits your home and budget.

Keep these facts in mind as you prepare for a central air conditioner installation in Toronto.

Types of Central Air Conditioner

There are two main types of central air conditioning systems in use in Ontario:

  • Split-system central air conditioners consist of an indoor evaporator coil unit inside the ducting and an outdoor compressor unit. The compressor unit sends refrigerant to the evaporator coil, which cools and removes moisture from indoor air as it passes through the ducts.
  • Ductless air conditioners distribute cool air through narrow piping instead of large air ducts, which means it can be installed in a house that does not have existing ducting. Some have an outdoor compressor while others are single-package units.

If a home already has a furnace, it is possible to modify the existing air ducts to accommodate central air conditioning. However, the scope of this project will vary depending on the size and location of the current ducting. It may be necessary to resize, reseal, or replace all or part of the ducts.

Ductless air conditioners are an alternative for homeowners who do not wish to undertake the often-extensive renovations necessary to add air ducts to an existing home. For heritage homes with small attics, ductless air conditioners are the most discrete way to add central air conditioning.

When shopping for air conditioning installation in Toronto, be sure the installer inspects the home to ensure the existing air ducts are properly sized and have sufficient supply registers for central air conditioning.

Sizing a Central Air Conditioner

When choosing what size air conditioner to buy, there are two terms you should know: cooling capacity and cooling load.

  • Cooling capacity is what people mean when discussing an air conditioner’s ‘size’. Cooling capacity is an air conditioner’s ability to remove heat. It is measured either in British thermal units per hour (Btu/hr) or in tons (one ton is equal to 12,000 Btu/hr).
  • Cooling load is the amount of heat that builds up in a space when there is no cooling system.

An air conditioner should have sufficient cooling capacity to meet a home’s cooling load. If the unit is too large, it will short-cycle, meaning it will cool the air too quickly and shut off before it has had a chance to de-humidify. The result is a damp, uncomfortable home.

There is no rule of thumb for choosing the right size air conditioner to buy. Whoever you hire for air conditioner installation in Toronto should calculate the home’s cooling load using reliable methods like that developed by the CSA.

You should also know that a house’s cooling load can change. If the home has had more insulation or energy-efficient windows installed since the air conditioner was last replaced, its cooling load may be smaller. On the other hand, if the house has a new addition, the cooling load will have increased.

Noise Level

Does your city or town have by-laws limiting the noise level allowable for outdoor compressor units? Some municipalities in Ontario do. Most energy-efficient air conditioners have low sound ratings, but the noise level varies between different models.


For central air conditioners, efficiency means the amount of cooling a system can provide per watt of electricity it consumes. The seasonal energy-efficiency rating or SEER expresses an air conditioner’s efficiency over a typical cooling season (where the average outdoor temperature is 28°C). The higher the SEER, the less it costs to run the air conditioner.

Thanks to technological improvements like efficient compressors, more effective heat exchangers, and better refrigerant flow, today’s top-performance air conditioners are more than twice as efficient as those from just a decade ago. A 10-year-old air conditioner has a typical SEER of 7.0 to 8.0, while high-efficiency air conditioners can now reach a SEER as high as 17.0.

In Canada, an ENERGY STAR® qualified split central air conditioner must have a SEER rating of at least 13.0.

Electrical Load

An often-forgotten consideration when choosing a central air conditioner is electricity. Depending on the home’s current capacity, it may be necessary to upgrade the electrical service to accommodate the increased electrical load of a central air conditioner. This is another consideration an installer should be aware of and check before advising on which central air conditioner to buy.

Cost of Air Conditioner Installation Toronto

The cost of air conditioner installation will change depending on several factors, including:

  • Cooling load
    Large or inefficient homes require a more powerful central air conditioner to meet the larger demand for cooling. Typically, the cost of installing an air conditioner increases with cooling load.
  • Air ducts
    If the home already has ducts, it may be necessary to modify them for central air conditioning. Adding new ductwork to a home that does not have ducts is often a costly and time-consuming renovation.
  • Electrical load
    Upgrading the electrical service to deal with the electrical load of central air conditioning will add additional costs to installation.

A reliable installer will always provide a free quote for air conditioner installation.

6 Ways to Reduce Summer Energy Bills (Without Touching the Thermostat)

One of the easiest ways to reduce summer energy bills? Turn down the air conditioner and allow the temperature to rise a few degrees in your home. But in this weather, that’s a sacrifice few of us can make.

Here are six other sure-fire ways to reduce your summer energy bills without laying a finger on your thermostat:

  1. Shut summer heat outside
  2. Reduce the amount of heat generated inside the house
  3. Use an energy-efficient air conditioner
  4. Move certain activities outside
  5. Make your swimming pool more energy-wise
  6. Keep your air conditioner running efficiently

1. Shut Out Summer Heat

Blocking heat from entering through doors and windows saves energy by making it easier for the central air conditioner to keep the house cold. With a few quick changes and touch-ups, you can significantly reduce the amount of heat that comes in.

  • Use caulking and weather stripping to seal air leaks around windows and exterior doors.
  • Tightly shut windows and exterior doors from morning until evening. Don’t leave the front or back door hanging open when coming and going!
  • Close curtains, blinds, or window shades during the day to block direct sunlight. Window coverings also reduce the amount of heat that enters the home through conduction.

2. Reduce Heat Generated Inside the House

Much of the heat generated inside a home comes from appliance use. The more heat you generate, the more energy it takes to maintain a cool temperature in the house. Changing your usage habits will contribute to a reduction in summer energy bills.

  • If you still use incandescent light bulbs, consider switching to LED or CFL bulbs that use less electricity and produce less heat. Between 10 and 15% of the electricity incandescent bulbs consume is turned into heat.
  • Use the washing machine and dishwasher sparingly, washing only full loads when possible.
  • Unplug or switch off electronic devices with a power strip. Electronics continue to consume power and produce heat while in Sleep or Standby mode.
  • Use kitchen or bathroom fans to ventilate while cooking or taking a shower.

3. Upgrade to an Energy-Efficient Air Conditioner

The average cost of running a 2.5-ton central air conditioner in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is $112.95 per summer month. You can reduce this cost by replacing an old unit with a newer, more energy-efficient air conditioner.

ENERGY STAR-certified air conditioners use 8% less energy than standard models. By replacing an air conditioner that was installed 10 years ago or longer, you can easily save upwards of 20% on cooling and significantly reduce summer energy bills.

4. Spend More Time Outside

Summers are short here in Canada, so get outside and enjoy it! Moving a few of your routine activities outdoors will keep the house cooler, easing the load on your central air conditioner and reducing energy consumption.

  • Hang clothes on the clothesline instead of using the dryer. Dryers use more energy than washing machines and produce a great deal more heat.
  • Cook on the BBQ instead of the oven on hot nights.
  • Unplug electronic devices or switch them off using a power strip. As mentioned, many electronics continue to use power and produce heat while in Standby mode. Besides, it’s too nice to spend all day with your devices!

5. Have a Pool? Make it More Efficient

Swimming pools are a blessing on sweltering summer days, but it’s shocking how much energy it takes to keep them up and running.

How much? On average, running a swimming pool in the GTA costs:

  • $58.09 per month for a 1/2 HP pool pump
  • $77.45-$135.54 per month for a pool filter motor, depending on HP
  • $322.71 per month for a pool heater

Fortunately, there are ways to make swimming pools more energy-efficient so you can keep cool without spending a fortune on electricity.

  • Use a swimming pool cover to reduce water evaporation, which helps to lower heating costs.
  • Clean the pool filter regularly so the system can run as efficiently as possible.
  • Replace an inefficient pool pump with an energy-efficient, multispeed pump. This improvement can reduce the associated energy cost up to 70%.
  • Replace an electric pool heater with an energy-efficient gas or solar heater.

6. Service Your Air Conditioner to Maintain Efficiency

Like your vehicle, central air conditioners require regular maintenance to perform at peak efficiency. Having your system serviced once a year will help reduce the cost of running your air conditioner in Toronto and the GTA.

Request a free quote to find out the cost of air conditioner service in your area.


Image: Anna Bizoń

5 Steps to Securing Your Home for Summer Vacations

If there’s one upside to this scorching-hot weather, it’s the excuse to escape the city for a summer vacation. But don’t forget to secure your home for the summer before you go!

These tips will help give you peace of mind that your house and home comfort system are safe and secure while you’re away.

1. Remove Your Home Address from Your GPS

Does your GPS device or mobile phone app have a “Go Home” button?  If so, anyone who has access to the device can discover where you live.

And if they ‘find’ it your bag or vehicle at the airport, they also know you aren’t home.

Be sure to remove your home address from GPS apps or devices before you hit the road. Otherwise, leave them at home.

2. Install a Smart Wi-Fi Thermostat

In just a few short years, smart thermostats have grown from a high-tech niche to a must-have device for millions of Canadian homes.

One of the benefits of a smart thermostat is that it allows you to monitor the status of your home remotely. That’s great news for summer travellers, since it lets you know if something goes wrong with the air conditioning while you’re away.

With the help of a smart thermostat (and a friend or neighbour to let in the technicians), you can arrange an emergency air conditioner repair in Toronto from a campsite up north or a beach down south.

3. Turn the Thermostat Up to Save Energy (But Only a Bit)

Turning the thermostat up when nobody’s home is the most tried-and-true ways to save energy in the summer. However, we do not recommend shutting off the air conditioning entirely.

In addition to keeping the house cool, central air conditioning also regulates the humidity inside your home. Fluctuating humidity levels can damage your home in numerous ways:

  • Causes wood to shrink and expand, which can damage wood floors and furniture
  • Leaves moisture on the outside of pipes, causing rust
  • Spurs the growth of mold, mildew and dust mites

Turn the thermostat up just a few degrees while you’re away. You’ll save energy and keep your home safe from humidity hazards.

4. Put Mail on Hold

If your trip lasts more than a few days (and your house still gets home mail delivery), your mailbox could quickly fill up with flyers and bills. This poses two potential problems: first, it tells onlookers that you’re away from home, and second, it leaves you vulnerable to mail theft.

Here in Ontario, you can stop mail delivery to your house for a time by purchasing a mail hold from Canada Post. You must do this at least five business days before the date you want to mail to stop. For newspapers, you will have to call the person or company responsible for delivery.

You could also ask a neighbour to collect the mail and newspapers for you.

5. Leave Signs of Life, Even Though You Aren’t Home

There are many ways a potential burglar could catch on to an empty house: no lights, tall grass, empty driveway, and untouched newspapers, to name a few. You can secure your home against all these issues with a bit of ingenuity and some from your friends and neighbours.

  • Put a few indoor lights on timers so they will turn on for a few hours at night. In addition to the traditional plug-in timers with a dial, you can now find Wi-Fi-enabled “smart lighting” that can be adjusted using a mobile app.
  • Have a friend or neighbour mow your lawn once a week, so the grass doesn’t grow too tall. You could also hire a landscaper.
  • Ask a neighbour on your street to park their car in your driveway while you’re on summer vacation. They can collect your unread newspaper at the same time.


Image: maximkabb

Reasons Why Your Air Conditioner Isn’t Working As Well As it Used To

Air conditioners typically have a lifespan of between 10 and 12 years. At that point, it’s not surprising for the unit to falter. But when a newer air conditioner is not working as well as it used to, it means something’s going on behind the scenes.

Below, we’ll point out some of the possible reasons why an air conditioner is not working as well as it used to.

Common Air Conditioner Problems

These are among the most common complaints people have when we get a call for air conditioner repair in Toronto. Often, it’s a combination of issues that seem to have gotten worse over time.

  1. Air conditioner not cooling effectively (or not at all)
  2. Some rooms are colder than others
  3. Air conditioner turning on and off frequently
  4. Air conditioner running all the time
  5. Air conditioner frozen

1. Air Conditioner Not Cooling Well or Not Cooling at All

Does the central AC that kept you comfortable last summer seem to be on vacation this year? Numerous problems can result in subpar performance.

  • Restricted airflow
    There should be a clear passage for air to travel from the supply vents to the evaporator coil and back into the home through the air registers. The air conditioner won’t do its job as well if there’s something in the way, be it a clogged air filter, weeds and debris in the outside condenser unit, furniture blocking the supply vents, or unclean air ducts.
  • Thermostat issues
    Check to confirm that the thermostat is in working order. It may simply require fresh batteries, or it could need replacement.
  • Frozen evaporator coils
    The evaporator coil cools and removes moisture from the air to manage the temperature and humidity inside the home. When the coil freezes over, warm air cannot pass through it to cool down. We cover what to do if your air conditioner is frozen in the section below.
  • Low refrigerant
    When an air conditioner is low on refrigerant, it can cause a whole host of problems, including poor performance. If the problem persists after replenishing the refrigerant, it could indicate a leak — which is a problem that necessitates an air conditioner repair call.

2. Some Rooms Colder than Others

Central air conditioning should maintain an even temperature throughout the home. It’s fair to expect small differences (rooms furthest from the AC unit will be slightly warmer, for example), but a significant temperature difference indicates a problem.

  • Air duct leak
    Small leaks in the air ducts can hinder airflow to the entire house, and larger leaks can result in distant rooms being cut off from central air.
  • Thermostat location
    The thermostat acts as a temperature gauge for the entire house. If the environment surrounding the thermostat differs drastically from other parts of the home, it can result in a temperature imbalance.

One solution to temperature differences is a zoning system, which lets you fine-tune the temperature in different parts of the home individually.

3. Air Conditioner Turning On and Off Frequently

Short cycling is one of the most prevalent air conditioner problems. The usual cause is an oversized air conditioner that cools the home too quickly, resulting in a constant on-off cycle. But if your air conditioner used to work fine, it could be a different issue entirely.

  • Thermostat location
    Heat sources near the thermostat can cause the air conditioner to cycle more often than it should. Make sure the thermostat is not in direct sunlight or close to a supply vent. Avoid placing heat-emitting electronics, like TVs, near it.
  • Thermostat settings
    If you use a smart or programmable thermostat, check to see that it’s set to adjust on a schedule you desire.
  • Low refrigerant
    Low refrigerant causes pressure in the system to drop. The compressor unit, which supplies refrigerant to the evaporator coil, will usually shut off automatically if the pressure drops too low. Afterwards, the pressure will rise again, creating a rapid On/Off cycle.

4. Air Conditioner Running All the Time

A central air conditioning unit is designed to shut off once the home reaches the desired temperature set on the thermostat. There are several possible reasons why this isn’t happening.

  • Broken contact
    The contactor is a switch in the outdoor compressor unit that tells the air conditioner when to shut off. If the contactor is broken or obstructed by debris, the unit will run non-stop.
  • Not cooling effectively
    Another reason why the air conditioning might constantly be running is that it cannot meet the home’s cooling demand. See the section above on why an air conditioner might not be cooling as well as it used to.

5. Air Conditioner Frozen

You know something’s not right when you find a sheath of ice on your air conditioner in the middle of summer. Turn off the unit to let it thaw, then consider the following possible culprits.

  • Restricted air flow
    Ice forms when warm air can’t reach the evaporator. This could be because the air filter is clogged, the blower fan is malfunctioning, or something is blocking the supply vents.
  • Low refrigerant
    When pressure drops due to the low refrigerant, the remaining refrigerant expands, causing cooler-than-normal temperatures inside the system.
  • Low outdoor temperature
    This isn’t a likely concern in the summer, but it’s something to keep in mind when fall comes around: running the air conditioner when the temperature drops below 18°C can turn your AC into an icebox.


Image: thamkc