Steam traps are a very important part of any steam heating system. The problem is that the maintenance that they require is often overlooked and that can cost owners a lot of money! Not repairing or replacing failed steam traps in a timely manner only puts off repairs that are required until the future. It does not making the problem go away. The biggest loss though comes from the energy your system wastes when steam traps aren’t working properly. Read the following article from Xcel Energy and you’ll realize just how much energy and money you might be wasting by not paying attention to steam traps. Bartingale Mechanical has the experience and knowledge needed to properly maintain this type of system or bring a neglected system back up to speed.
Bartingale Mechanical has a lot of wheels on the road throughout the year as we travel throughout western Wisconsin. Our service technicians can especially rack up the miles as they visit our customers. Providing 24/7 emergency HVAC, Plumbing and Temperature Control service means that we need to be there no matter what type of weather conditions are present. As a result, safe driving is always a top priority. Winter provides some especially dangerous driving conditions, making it more important to be aware while on the roads. Fortunately, Washburn County Highway Department and Sherrif’s Office has some great winter driving safety tips that anyone can use. Pay attention and be safe out there this winter!
1. Plan ahead and give yourself extra time when traveling in adverse weather conditions. Wisconsin weather can be unpredictable, and you will never know when you will encounter winter weather conditions and treacherous roads. Always wear your seatbelt.
2. Ice and Snow, Take it Slow. Remember the posted speed limits are for dry pavement. Do not get overconfident in your 4×4 vehicle.
3. Slow down or move over. Wisconsin law requires you to slow down or move over when approaching emergency or maintenance vehicles. This includes law enforcement, tow trucks, and snow plows stopped on the side of the road with their flashing lights on.
If you approach a stopped emergency or maintenance vehicle during a winter storm and decide to change lanes, be extra careful. The passing lane may be in worse shape than the driving lane. There may also be a snow ridge between the two lanes. Avoid making an abrupt lane change.
4. Keep safe distance. During plowing operations, visibility can be reduced by blowing snow. State law requires a minimum of 200 feet behind a snow plow engaged in slow or ice removal on highways posted with a speed limit of 35 mph or greater. On highways having a posted speed limit of 35 mph or less, state law requires a minimum of 75 feet behind a snow plow.
5. Don’t stop too close behind a stopped snowplow. The driver could be preparing to back up and may not see you if you are stopped too close in their blind spot.
6. Move away from the centerline. When you see an approaching snowplow on an undivided highway, move as far away from the centerline as you safely can. Use caution as blowing snow may obscure the actual width of the snowplow’s blade. Slow down and be sure to provide enough room.
7. Pay attention and stay sober. Avoid distractions and put down your cell phone. Conditions can change quickly and all attention needs to be given to your driving and those around you.
8. Don’t use your cruise control. Even roads that appear clear can have sudden slippery spots, and the short touch of your brakes to deactivate the cruise control feature can cause you to lose control of your vehicle.
9. Call 511 or visit 511wi.gov for real-time traveler information, including winter road conditions. If your trip can wait until the storm is over, stay at home until conditions improve.
10. Pack a winter emergency kit. Winter emergency kits should include items such as food, water, a flashlight and batteries, and blankets. In your vehicle, include a snow shovel, extra gloves and hats, and kitty litter or sand to help give your wheels traction on icy roads in case you get stuck.
Key HVAC Maintenance Tips for Fall and Winter
During the long, cold Wisconsin winter nights, your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system becomes the most valuable equipment in your home. Heating your home is generally the largest energy expense for any homeowner. Keep that expense under control through properly operating and maintaining your HVAC system. Follow these tips in the fall to help your HVAC system operate efficiently throughout the winter.
Change the Air Filter and Clean the Vents
Changing the air filter every month is one of the most important things you can do to support your HVAC system. It’s also one of the easiest. The filter should be checked every month and replaced if it is dirty. Filters should be replaced at the very least every three months – no matter what.
The same day the filter is replaced is also a good time to vacuum off the air vents. This keeps them clean and allows warm air to flow freely, easing temperature regulation throughout the home.
Have It Inspected
Yearly service of your HVAC system ensures it runs properly. Homeowners should have the system inspected in the fall to best prepare it for the demands of winter. A qualified technician can identify potential issues before they turn into full blown, more expensive problem.
If Your HVAC System is Ancient, Replace It
Replacing the home’s HVAC system is an expensive proposition, but if your system is old and inefficient, the added comfort and financial benefits of a new system can be very real. If your system is more than 10 years old, ask a service technician’s opinion on the longevity of your system. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, replacing it with a new high-efficiency model could reduce your home’s annual energy bill by as much as 20-40 percent. Identifying replacement needs ahead of time can also give you time to save money towards future projects.
Sufficiently Insulate the Attic
One of the easiest ways to help your HVAC system operate at peak performance is to lighten its load. Insulating the home’s attic keeps warm air in the home and prevents it from escaping outside. This allows your HVAC system to do less and still maintain the home’s proper temperature. According to energystar.gov, a simple visual test will determine whether the home’s attic is sufficiently insulated. According to their recommendation, insulation in the attic should be high enough to obstruct the view of the floor joists. If this is the case, additional insulation will offer little to no benefit.
Install a Programmable Thermostat
The right temperature inside a home depends largely on who is there at the time, and when no one is in the home, the right temperature can be significantly lower than a conventional “living area” temperature. Many homeowners however fail to adjust their thermostats when they leave their home because it’s too much work, they forget, or they don’t want to return to a cold home. A programmable thermostat system can automatically make the adjustments to your temperature needs throughout the entire day. This can result in higher comfort levels and significant energy savings.
Schools, government and agricultural customers have a great opportunity to earn valuable incentives with the Boiler Tune-Up incentive from Focus on Energy. Keeping up on preventative maintenance already provides higher efficiency and longer lasting equipment, now you can get a money back for doing it as well. Bartingale Mechanical is a registered Trade Ally with Focus on Energy and we are qualified to perform the tune-up and provide the required documentation to receive an incentive.
To find out if your facility qualifies for these incentives see the attached information along with the simple form to complete for the incentives. To be eligible for the current program, all tune-ups must be completed before the end of 2019. This program is not offered every year so make sure your facility takes advantage of these incentives while they are still available!
Save money, save energy and enjoy the improved comfort and control of your facility this season!
This is a great blog post from Arista that highlights how your business can benefit from the same type of services that Bartingale Mechanical provides throughout Western Wisconsin.
Michael Rosone • July 31, 2019
Are you monitoring HVAC expenses?
As a business owner, monitoring hard costs is a vital part of maintaining your livelihood. You’re constantly keeping an eye on expenses like payroll, rent or mortgage, and let’s not forget energy costs. Your HVAC system is one of the most expensive and integral parts of your business infrastructure. Do you know what is it costing you? And, more importantly, how can you minimize HVAC expenses? That’s the purpose of regularly servicing your equipment. Let’s take a closer look at the costs of HVAC problems and the benefits of HVAC maintenance.
The soft costs of HVAC problems
When thinking about the benefits of HVAC maintenance, consider the following questions:
- How many customers would you be willing to lose because your building was say, too hot to complete that workout, or too cold to finish that meal, or too drafty to try on those clothes?
- How productive do you think your employees should be? How is their productivity impacted by the poorly-regulated temperature in your space?
- How long would you be willing to close your doors due to an HVAC equipment failure?
- How about your energy costs? Is your electric bill getting higher every month? That can happen when HVAC equipment is neglected and no longer operating efficiently.
Like any smart business owner or building manager, you probably wouldn’t tolerate any of this. And yet, these are the soft costs of a poorly maintained HVAC system.
These soft costs are something you may not account for in your monthly budget, but they can lead to declining profits if you don’t pay attention. That’s especially true if you are operating a restaurant, retail store, or other business where attracting and retaining customers is critical to your success. Staying on top of your HVAC equipment with regular preventative maintenance might seem expensive, until you realize the price of lost opportunities.
So how can you control costs you haven’t thought about until now? With an HVAC preventative maintenance plan.
Let’s explore some of the benefits of HVAC maintenance.
Benefits of an HVAC maintenance contract
- Correcting issues in advance means your company doesn’t suffer from emergency situations that can require you to shut down. You should expect your HVAC preventative maintenance contract to include regular visits from HVAC experts to check on equipment, evaluate performance, and identify and correct any problems.
- Regular check ups allow you to budget for future business expenses. If you know that your HVAC system is nearing the end of its life, you can start saving for new components before the old ones break down.
- Priority service in the event of an emergency. Without a contract, you might be in line behind hundreds of other businesses that also need service calls (especially during a heat wave, when AC systems always seem to break down!). Having a contract in place gives you priority over others without contracts.
- Better control of utility costs. When your air conditioning and heating systems are operating at optimum efficiency, they use less energy. That’s one of the benefits of HVAC maintenance that may surprise you. Those numbers can add up to more than you expect.
It’s important to know that all maintenance contracts are not the same, so carefully vet HVAC service providers and pay close attention to HVAC service contract terms. So do your own research and ask questions to be sure you’re getting all the benefits of HVAC preventative maintenance with your contract.
Helpful hints for selecting an HVAC maintenance agreement
- Find out if the provider is close to your business, or if they regularly have trucks in your area (in fact, pay attention to trucks you often see in your area… your neighbors are trusting those companies).
- Check out the qualifications of their professionals. Are they certified and regularly trained to keep their skills current?
- Find out whether the company maintains a well-stocked inventory of parts and replacement equipment. This is essential because waiting several days for parts can cost you business.
- Thoroughly review the contract, including its provisions on the maximum time period for response when you experience equipment failure. Ideally, you should look for a crew to respond within 1 business day, or the same day if you call in the morning.
- What tasks are included in preventative HVAC maintenance? Be sure to ask about this because not all contracts are the same. Some companies will just change your filters and spend a few minutes looking over the system and call it a day. Do they include coil cleaning? How about checking electrical connections?
- Some contracts also include the cost of labor and parts for any repairs you might need within the contract period. These contracts are more expensive, but can help you budget expenses. And if you do need a major repair, they can save you a bundle.
While the costs of entering into a preventative maintenance agreement may seem steep, remember they’re small compared to the expense of lost business opportunities (and also the cost of major repairs that happen when equipment is neglected. Keep those soft costs in mind when adding up the overall benefits of HVAC maintenance as well as comparing prices.
Companies that do consider proper HVAC system maintenance into account when figuring future financial success are making smart, informed choices that help them increase profits and grow their business.