How to Extend the Life of Your AC System

When you buy something that you know won’t last forever, what’s the next best thing? Getting it to last as long as possible, of course. Well, your central air conditioning system falls neatly into that category. Even better, there are numerous ways to help it reach or surpass its average life expectancy of 12 – 15 years. Here are several ways you can participate in its ongoing care and maintenance:

  • Clean or replace the filter at least every 60 days. A clogged filter makes your system work overtime to keep you cool, and that adds significantly to its wear and tear.
  • If you have one thermostat controlling your entire house and certain rooms that don’t get used at certain times of day, you can extend the life of your system by adding one or more zones – each with its own thermostat – to cool only those rooms or areas that are occupied.
  • Keep all vents and registers clear of window treatments and other obstructions so cool are can flow unabated throughout your house.
  • Replace or caulk or weather stripping where you can feel cool air escaping and warm air from outdoors taking its place.
  • Don’t plant any flowers or shrubs too close to your outdoor condensing unit so the heat transfer process can proceed with interference.
  • Cover any windows that receive direct sunlight during the day or have them covered with window film to help limit the amount of cool air needed during the day.
  • Try to avoid cooking and baking as much as possible during the hottest times of day.
  • Install one or more ceiling fans to pull cool air back up so, once again, your AC system doesn’t have to work quite as hard in certain rooms.
  • Replace one or more of your thermostats with a programmable model that also comes with an app you can download to your mobile devices.  That way, you can change temperature settings to conserve even more energy while your away from home and your plans suddenly change.

With a little help from your friends at Messmer Mechanical, you can help your system last even longer. And all it takes is contacting us for annual system maintenance; if fact, and at your request, we can contact you each spring so you never have to worry about having your system professionally cleaned and inspected once a year, just as your system’s manufacturer advises.  Has it been a year or longer since preventative maintenance was last performed?  If so, why contact Messmer Mechanical today!

Looking to Buy an Old House or Fixer-Upper? Talk to Us First.

When it comes to buying an old house or one in dire need of repair, there are pretty much just two kinds: real bargains or money pits.  The question is, how can you tell the difference before laying down you cash?

When it comes to the home’s plumbing, heating and cooling systems, and water quality, Messmer Mechanical can offer you all the advice and assistance you need. But even before you get that far, hiring a qualified inspector will help you determine if certain deal breakers are in place, such termite damage, the presence of radon inside the home, structural damage to the foundation, and rampant mold and mildew.  Other than those, most other issues should prove to manageable, provided the selling price plus the cost for renovations does not add up to an amount that exceeds the market value of the home.

At your request, we conduct our own thorough investigation of the plumbing, heating and cooling systems. No existing cooling system, no duct work, and no place to install the duct work?  No problem.  Because with the advent of ductless air systems, you can enjoy all the benefits of whole-house conditioned heat and air, no ducts needed.

Plumbing-wise, the first thing to consider is the condition of the home’s water and drain pipes.  If none have to be replaced, then we’re way ahead of the game.  After that, it comes down to one system and fixture at a time:  water heater probably being at the top of the list, then toilets, faucets, garbage disposal, and so on.

Ultimately, our first goal is to help you decide if the home is a good investment. If you find that is, even with all the renovations need, we’ll not only determine the plumbing and HVAC “must dos” and “can waits”, but price everything out and show you how to save money every way possible.

Contact us today for the assistance you need in making that older home work for you.

How to Buy a New Air Conditioning System

Is it time to replace your aging central air conditioning system or, perhaps, purchase one for the first time? Either way, you’re in for a whole new world of indoor comfort along with reduced humidity levels and the kind of energy savings that make a difference.

Still, there’s a lot to think about before deciding on the one system that best meets all your needs, so here are some key factors well worth considering in advance.

  1. Bigger is not necessarily better.

A central AC system right-sized to your home is crucial. A unit that is too small might do a fine job keeping you cool on milder days, but won’t be able to hold its own during high heat season. Conversely, an oversized unit will keep you nice and cool but also will drive up your energy costs from constantly turning on and off.  Our experienced HVAC professionals can recommend the perfect size unit for your home, and your budget.

  1. If upgrading, check (or replace) all components.

If you have existing ductwork in your home, it’s important to check for any cracks or gaps that could be resulting in air leaks. And if you’re upgrading your system, it might be tempting to replace only certain components. While this can save a few dollars up front, it could mean higher operating and maintenance costs down the road:  not to mention a decrease in performance and efficiency.

  1. Consider an annual maintenance agreement.

Once an air conditioning system is installed, it’s easy to forget about it until something goes wrong.  Our suggestion?  Don’t wait.  Instead, purchase an annual service agreement as soon as your system is installed, one that includes annual preventative maintenance.  It’s your best assurance of ongoing comfort, fewer repair problems, and a longer system lifespan.

  1. How much energy do you want to save?

When considering your new system options, keep in mind that the higher the SEER (seasonal energy efficiency rating), the lower the energy consumption and your monthly utility costs.  SEER ratings range from a low of 13 to a high of 23.

  1. Hire a reputable HVAC company.

Messmer Mechanical has everything you need to ensure your complete satisfaction: the training, experience, commitment to quality, and an annual service plan program that can be custom designed to meet the precise needs of every family we serve.

Contact us today to schedule a free in-home comfort analysis and new system proposal.  And remember:  Messmer Mechanical is rated A+ by the Better Business Bureau.

Creative and Affordable Ways to Clean Your Car

You could spend all day searching for just the right car cleaning products.  But who has all day for something like that?  Instead, spend just a few minutes now reading this blog and you’re likely to find you already have several outstanding – yet unexpected – car cleaning solutions in your possession.

Vodka: This classic alcoholic spirit also doubles as a windshield fluid that doesn’t freeze. In a pinch, you can add it directly to the wiper fluid. You can also use it to clear the windows of frost in the morning. Add a dash of castile soap to the vodka and spray the combined solution on the windshield. Not only will the ice quickly melt away, but the window will take longer to re-ice.

Rubbing Alcohol: Rubbing alcohol breaks down oils and has the added benefit of drying more quickly than plain water. Accordingly, rubbing alcohol makes a great wiper blade cleaner. When the blades start getting streaky, just pour some rubbing alcohol on a clean cloth, wipe the blades several times, and voila! No more streaks!

Kerosene: To add a no-wax waterproof shine to your car’s exterior, just add a small amount of kerosene to an old rag, and rub onto the car. Your car will shine like new and you’ll get the dual benefit of waterproof protection without the waxy build up or the need for added elbow grease!

Coke and Steel Wool: These two items create a match made in heaven when it comes to removing rust, oil, or getting chrome to sparkle again. For extra challenging spots, just soak a clean rag in the soda and let the rag sit on top of the problem spot. After about 5 minutes you should see the rust or tarnish come right off.

Club soda: Sure, you know that club soda is good for getting stains out of a shirt or a dress, but what about inside the car? Of course! Club soda lifts fabric stains through all that bubbling action. Poor some onto the fabric and when the bubbling subsides, just soak it up with a clean towel. Repeat as needed, and you can gently scrub the fabric, as well, to pull the stain out.

Of course, when it comes to cleaning an obstructed drain line, none of the above remedies are right for the job.  But Messmer Mechanical is, no matter how stubborn that clogged drain appears to be. Contact us today or anytime for our professional drain cleaning assistance.

How to Chase those Winter Blues Away

The dark of winter can make people feel tired, sluggish, depressed, moody, and even hungrier than usual. The good news is that waiting for spring isn’t your only option.  Instead, here are several proven effective ways to brighten your mood until added daylight and warmth combine to do it for you:  

Light: Once we turn the clocks back in early November, people often complain of having difficulty getting up in the morning. To help compensate for fewer hours of daylight, plug a bright full-spectrum or fluorescent light into a timer, and set it to go off about an hour before you wake up. This will simulate an artificial dawn to help put a little bounce in your early morning step.

Exercise: The brain releases dopamine when you exercise and that makes your whole body feel better and more positive. So, get outside for a brisk walk, invest in a treadmill or stationary bike, or head to the mall for some indoor walking if the weather is just too harsh.

Eating light: When the body is tired, it compensates by eating more, and when we are cold we tend to eat heavy, warm, gooey, rich foods. Adding more fruits and veggies to your diet will help you feel better, less moody, and make your body crave more of the same. If it’s too much of a struggle to stay away from that mac and cheese, then eat it! But also have a salad on the side. Eating healthier doesn’t have to mean giving up foods, but your body will benefit just by adding something plant-based to your plate.

Time for yourself: One of the best parts of winter is having more time to enjoy your indoor activities. That book you never got to read in the summer, that project you meant to finish, that hobby you were interested in learning more about – you get the idea. And now, it’s time to get into a whole different rhythm to make the most of your winter at-home time.

Here’s another way to enhance your mood:  don’t let anything bad happen to your heating and plumbing systems.  Easier said than done, you say?  Not when you call Messmer Mechanical for a whole-house plumbing inspection and preventative maintenance for your furnace or boiler.  These services are designed to stop problems from happening which then leads to lower (if any) repair costs, lower utility bills, and longer system lifespan.  Contact Messmer today for services designed to put a smile on your face.  

“My Electric Water Heater is Leaking.”

There are several reasons why your water heater might be leaking.  Most of them require assistance from a professional plumber, but there are a couple of simple fixes you can attempt on your own that hopefully will make the problem go away.

Water Leaking from the Bottom of an Electric Water Heater

Electric water heaters contain a heating element located inside the bottom of the storage tank.  To operate at peak efficiency, it needs to removed and cleaned about every six months.

If you’re the handy type and want to try cleaning or replacing the heating element on your own, follow these simple but crucial steps:

  • Shut off the water heater power and hot water supplies. If you’re not sure where they’re located – even after checking your manufacturer’s guide – stop right there and call your plumber.
  • Once the power and water supplies are off, you next want to drain the storage tank. Attach a hose to the drain valve and then place the other end outdoors or in a sink. Keep it up until the tank is completely empty.
  • Next, remove the heater element by unscrewing it with an element wrench. After that, remove and dispose of the rubber gasket.  Then thoroughly clean the element, paying special attention to sediment that may have formed on the threads of the element or tank.
  • Attach a new gasket and place the heating element back inside the tank, making sure it’s thoroughly tightened.
  • (You’re almost done!) Refill the tank by closing the drain valve, opening the cold-water valve, and opening a hot water faucet to avoid creating a vacuum.
  • Turn the power and water supplies back on.

If the leak is gone, then give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done.  On the other hand, if your water heater continues to leak, the heating element wasn’t the problem in first place.  And that’s when you need to call a professional plumber.

At Messmer Mechanical, we service and repair all makes and models of electric, gas, and tankless water heaters.  Which means no matter what the problem might be, we have the experience, know-how, and commitment to fix it right the first time, every time.  We look forward to your call.

How to Maintain Clean Indoor Air

In a rush to conserve energy in the ’70s, builders, architects, and designers built tighter homes with better windows and doors, thicker insulation, and took extra steps to seal out any potential drafts.

While the energy savings were impressive, so was the build-up of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) inside these and other airtight homes built since then.  And it remains the way in homes all across America as dust, dirt, pet dander, bacteria, and other airborne pollutants have reduced means to escape outdoors.

If you or other family members feel physically worse the more time you spend indoors, here are just a few ways you can help your own cause.

  1. Keep your home as clean as possible.  Staying ahead of dust and dust mites can dramatically improve air quality.  Dusting window treatments, around window and door trim and out-of-reach areas helps even more. But not just any vacuum cleaner will do.  Those that use a HEPA type filter prevent the dust from spewing back into your living space.  Also, consider switching to a bag-less vacuum to avoid the plume of dust that happens whenever you change a bag.
  1. If you have a forced air heating system, have the air ducts cleaned and sealed internally, especially if it’s been four years or longer since they were last tended to. The more gunk inside your ducts, the worse for anyone suffering from allergies, asthma, or other respiratory ailments.
  1. Purchase better filters for your air handler and furnace. Many of us have spun glass filters that cost about $1.  While these protect the blower motor, they do virtually nothing to improve indoor air quality.  Upgrade to a pleated filter that captures smaller particles, thus trapping more airborne pollutants.     
  1. Load up on indoor plants. Certain types of indoor plants are highly effective at trapping and removing air pollutants from your living environment.  Some of the most effective plant varieties Spider, Dracaena, Peace Lily, and Boston Fern.

For a broader-based solution, contact Messmer Mechanical today to speak with one of our indoor air quality specialists.  We have several available solutions not just to improve your indoor air quality, but help keep it that way.

5 Natural Cures for Insomnia

In a perfect world, your daily life is all the preparation you need for a good night’s sleep.  You work hard, play hard, watch a little TV, spend time with the kids, pay the bills, clear the sink of dishes – who wouldn’t be tired after all that?

Well, how about someone with insomnia?  Maybe even you – someone who could stand a little extra help, the all-natural way, to get the kind of restful sleep you and your body are craving.

One simple solution is to add one or more of just the right plants to your bedroom to help guide you seamlessly into dreamland.  Here are five proven sleep inducers:

5 Natural Cures for Insomnia

Lavender

Lavender is better known as an essential oil for helping to relax the mind and body while soothing tensions. Lavender also slows the heart rate and helps you achieve a peaceful state of mind. Keeping a lavender plant in your room will naturally ease your insomnia.

Aloe Vera

Most people know Aloe Vera as a cure for skin ailments, but this special little plant releases a large amount of oxygen at night. The extra oxygen relaxes the muscles and encourages dreaming. This can also be useful for people who have difficulty breathing well while lying down, or who snore.

Snake plant

The snake plant goes by many aliases, including Saint George’s Sword. It releases a large amount of oxygen at night, like the aloe, and eases tension and anxiety. Snake plants also are amazing air purifiers, and that’s something to consider if you’re plagued by asthma, allergies, or other breathing issues.

English ivy

Ivy is easy to grow, releases oxygen, and helps remove pollutants from your indoor air.  This special vine also removes up to 94% of airborne mold, which is a known cause of insomnia and headaches.

White jasmine

This plant has a nearly magical sweet smell that peaks at bedtime. Jasmine has been used for thousands of years to reduce anxiety and improve sleep. You can also use it in tea as a part of your bedtime routine to help you relax.

Here at Messmer Mechanical, we have better-sleep solutions of our own.  With a whole-house humidifier, for example, you can get rid of that dry indoor winter air that causes you dry skin and itchy eye problems, among others. Or, if a hot shower or bath helps relax you but your water heater doesn’t always cooperate, we can look for a way to repair it and assist you in upgrading to a replacement system that will provide all the hot water you want and need.  Contact us today for all your home plumbing, heating, air conditioning, and indoor air quality needs.

 

Creative Uses for Ordinary Household Items

Household maintenance is necessary for every homeowner, but that doesn’t mean you can’t work more efficiently and save some time along the way.  In fact, you can do precisely that with assistance coming from some pretty unlikely sources.

Let’s have a look:

Chalk

Anywhere in the house you have excess moisture – such as musty closets, sweaty sneakers, laundry basket, or even your tool box – can be de-moisturized by chalk. Just grab a handful of pieces, place them in a cheesecloth bag, and hang or place them where you need to remove the excess moisture.  Works like a charm.

Cooking Spray

Keep the snow blower or lawn mower blades in their best shape by spraying with cooking spray. This prevents grass, dirt, and other debris from ticking to the blades.

Tennis Ball

Cut an X into a tennis ball and place it on the end of a broom handle. Use the tennis ball to scrub away any scuff marks on the floor, and you won’t even have to bend down!

Painters’ Tape

Repairing caulking in a bathroom or kitchen is a relatively easy task, unless you also want it to look nice and straight.  So, simply buy a roll of painters’ tape to mark the edges before applying the caulk.

Baby Powder

Prevent your floorboards from creaking by sprinkling baby powder into any floor cracks. Continue to step on the floor, adding more powder, until it is all worked into the cracks. Once it is well worked in, the floor creaks will cease.

House Plants

Sure, they look nice, but certain varieties of indoor plants can remove bacteria and other pollutants from the air to help lessen your problems with allergies, asthma, and other respiratory ailments.  Fern, Ale Vera, Spider Plants, and Jade are just a few of the varieties particularly well-suited to the task.

For a more encompassing solution to your indoor air quality concerns, contact Messmer Mechanical today.  We have the right solution – or combination of solutions – for every size home and air quality need.  Plus, we offer free quotes and will be happy to answer all your questions.

 

 

How to Prevent Home Heat Loss

When you open your utility bills during the winter, do you break out in a cold sweat?  Wish you lived further south?  Think about getting a second job?

Well, you can put those concerns at least partially aside by doing a little detective work or, if you feel so inclined, hiring a professional to do it for you.  The idea is to determine if and where heat is escaping your home, and how to block any such escape routes you might find.

Here are some great places to start your investigation, and all with a goal to taking a big bite out of your home heating bills:

  • blogAttic Insulation – If attic insulation isn’t bouncing the rising heat back into your living quarters, then it’s doing the exact opposite, i.e., allowing heat to continue travel upward, right out through your roof. That’s why you should check your attic insulation to make sure it covers your whole attic without gaps and is it at least 6” thick.
  • Window and Door Insulation – Older windows and doors don’t have the insulating powers of more recently built products.  If now’s not the time to replace them, you have other options, like thermal drapes, thick shades, caulking, and weather stripping.
  • Wall Insulation – Forty-five percent of the warm air that escapes your home exits through your walls.  Remember, you don’t have to insulate all your walls all at once.  Start with the colder rooms in your house, like those over your garage. And no, you don’t have to tear down your existing walls to add insulation behind them.
  • Other Holes in the Walls – Your fireplace opening is so large, it practically sports a flashing “Exit” sign pointing the way out for warm air.  To stop that flow, purchase a pair of air tight doors.  Next, move your hand around wall sockets and switches.  If you feel any cool air, you can add insulation inside them to stop yet one more source of heat loss.

Here’s another great way to help reduce your home heating costs: with a heating system tune-up and inspection from Messmer Mechanical, your local home heating professionals. With the kind of annual preventative maintenance we perform, you also can look forward to fewer repairs and a longer lifespan for your heating system, so why not call today to schedule service.