8 Steps to Prevent Running Out of Hot Water

8 Steps to Prevent Running Out of Hot Water

Imagine being in the middle of a nice, hot shower and the water turns cold! Leave the snow and cold outside and take comfort in knowing your hot water heater has your back. Many Chicagoland homeowners rely on hot showers to help ease away that tension from a long day.

If you’re beginning to experience these types of problems often — and your hot water runs out after five to ten minutes — it’s time to stop wondering why and start looking for solutions. If you’re experiencing cold showers after reading these steps, you may want to contact a Hobson Heating and Plumbing technician.

Because water heating is the second largest expense in the American home, accounting for 14–18 percent of our utility bills, it’s worth your while to better understand the reasons your hot water runs out quickly. Then take easy steps to prevent it.

If you ever find yourself in a pickle with little to no hot water and can’t determine the root cause, Hobson Plumbing and Heating is here to serve you. Contact us to schedule an appointment.

5 Reasons Your Home Is Extra Dusty

5 Reasons Your Home Is Extra Dusty

Who likes a dusty home? If you have ever wondered why your home gets so dusty regardless of how often you clean, this could be a sign that your HVAC system is not filtering dust as it should be. As your trusted Chicagoland plumbing and HVAC service provider, Hobson Plumbing and Heating is always here to help!

Air Filters

Your air filters could be the culprit if you’re experiencing issues with dust. Filters are supposed to trap dust or other materials from entering your home and need to be either replaced or cleaned regularly. If they get too dirty, they will become ineffective and cause dust to build up in your home.

Air Ducts

The problem might also be leaking air ducts. The primary issue with leaky air ducts is that it can cause your HVAC unit to work harder and cause unfiltered, dusty air to get into your home. Signs of a leaky air duct are lint or dust build up on vent registers, high energy bills, and hot or cold spots in your house. If you think the air ducts might be the issue, you should inspect the ductwork for leaky joints and seal as needed. Hobson Plumbing and Heating is highly trained in fixing ductwork so don’t hesitate to contact us.

High Humidity Levels

High levels of humidity in the home can also cause dust to build up. Thankfully, there is an easy solution to this issue. To solve for this, many homeowners have installed a whole-house humidifier or a humidifier for each room with the most use. Humidity can be a common problem in Chicagoland area homes and since fungi, mold, and dust mites prefer high humidity levels, this is an issue homeowners should not ignore. 

Check for Cracks Around Windows

Another way dust can get into your home is through cracks in windows. If you believe this may be the issue simply re-caulk your windows. This is a great project to tackle during the winter months if re-caulking, however, be sure to use the appropriate caulk that can withstand cold temperatures if near window seals or colder parts of your home.

Reduce Incoming Dirt

Dust can easily be brought into the home from your family’s shoes which is a common reason why the house is so dusty. A simple fix with this is having everyone refrain from wearing shoes inside the home. Easier said than done we know!

It’s a good idea to run through this list first to see if you can tackle dust issues by yourself. However, if you have followed our tips by changing your filters, sealing your ducts, added a humidifier, and are still finding your home to be dustier than usual, it’s best to have your HVAC system checked out by a professional to determine if a repair is needed.

If you have been experiencing indoor quality air issues or an excessive amount of dust in your home and believe your HVAC system may be the issue, contact us for service.

3 DIY Fixes For Your Hot Water Heater

3 DIY Fixes For Your Hot Water Heater

The thought of going near a hot water heater may seem daunting to some homeowners, but there are 3 repairs that are not so complicated if you’re willing to give it a shot. 

As a trusted plumbing company in North Aurora, we get a constant flow of calls from shivering homeowners experiencing a freezing shower.  Often the call is due to these 3 simple to fix problems.

Hot water heater temperature

When water heater temperature is too hot or too cold, this is a common problem with hot water heaters. Luckily for the homeowner, it’s an easy problem to fix.

Every water heater has a temperature dial on the front of the tank. Adjust the dial to either increase or decrease the temperature.

Most Chicagoland plumbers recommend setting the temperature of the hot water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit which is also a safe temperature with young children in the home.  

You must give the water heater time to change the water’s temperature. Test the water to make sure the water has heated up to the temperature you like.

If this doesn’t fix the problem, then you could have a defective hot water heater thermostat on your hands. This is a much bigger problem and recommend you give Hobson Plumbing and Hearing a call. 

The pilot light goes out

If you have a gas water heater the pilot light may go out on occasion. There are several reasons why a pilot light might go out.

The pilot light is a tiny flame that exists to light the gas burner inside the hot water tank.

To light the pilot light first make sure the knob is in the OFF position. Wait at least 3 minutes. While waiting, you can remove the access cover to the burner. Use a flashlight to illuminate the burner.

After five minutes, turn the knob to PILOT. This will start the flow of gas to the burner. Depending on your model, there might be an ignition button. When you push the button, you will hear a click and the pilot will light. It might take more than one push to get the job done.

If there is no ignition button you will need to light the pilot using a flame source. Find a long-necked lighter and apply the flame until you see the pilot light burning again.

Once the pilot light is burning, you must press the regulator valve knob down a with a finger and maintain pressure for one minute. This allows the safety sensor to detect a pilot flame. After the one minute has passed, let up on the knob. Check that the pilot light stays lit then turn the knob to the ON position.

Draining The Hot Water Heater

There are several reasons you might need to drain your hot water heater. Many times, sediment builds up because of hard water, causing your water heater to become less efficient or even clog the water lines. Draining the heater’s tank will allow you to flush the sediment out before it becomes a problem.

Before draining your hot water heater, turn off the cold water supply valve (the water pipe that feeds water into the tank). Then turn off the gas or electricity.

For a gas hot water heater, turn the thermostat setting to PILOT. For an electrical heater turn off the breaker.

After turning off the heating source, you might need to wait several hours for the hot water inside the tank to cool.  Proceed with caution as the water draining from the tank may be scalding hot. If this becomes too challenging, please contact us so we can schedule a visit to your home and address the issue for you. 

Next, attach a hose to the drain valve. This standard outside style hose valve is located at the bottom of the tank, usually next to the thermostat control knob. Place the other end of the hose somewhere the water can drain such as outside or into the shower drain.

Always assume the water coming from the tank is hot as a safety precaution.

Next, open a hot water tap (faucet) nearest to the hot water heater. This will help relieve the air pressure as the water drains. Open the drain valve to let the water drain from the tank.

Once the tank is empty of water and sediment, you can refill the hot water heater tank. Refilling the tank is just reversing the above steps.

Hot water heaters can be dangerous. So if not 100% confident with your DIY skills then it’s a good idea to play it safe and call an expert.
Don’t wait until you’re deep in hot water, get your hot water heater repaired at the first sign of trouble. Contact Hobson Plumbing and Heating at 630.761.3400. for a trusted service provider in the tri-cities area.


5 Tips For Preventing Heating System Failure During the Winter

5 Tips For Preventing Heating System Failure During the Winter

When winter snow and cold weather comes to Chicago, you want to make sure your furnace is in top shape or you could be left in the cold. Even if your furnace is in good shape when you start the season, it could fail or have problems once you begin to use it more heavily.

Below are some things you should do to ensure that your furnace or heating system runs smoothly throughout the winter as well as common troubleshooting for heating problems.

Perform Pre-Season Maintenance

The best way to prevent or reduce the chance of total furnace failure is to have a professional like Hobson Plumbing & Heating come out and do a thorough furnace and air duct check. Our skilled team can check your pilot light, if you have a gas furnace, along with your blower motors, and switches. At the same time, we can clean any filters and air ducts.

Make Sure The Switches And Motor Work

Periodically turn on your furnace’s switches after periods of non-use to ensure that your blower motors work properly. Be on the lookout for weird sounds and smells and contact us if you smell something burning, hear rattling, or even clunking. Do not use your furnace if you suspect that something is wrong with the motor.

Check The Filters Regularly

Even if you just had your filters checked during pre-season maintenance, give them a check off and on throughout the winter season. Heavy use, as well as pet hair and dust flowing through the system, can quickly clog the filters. These clogged filters restrict airflow and cause uneven heating.

Clear Your Vents

Check your furnace registers to make sure that you don’t have furniture, rugs, and other items blocking them. If too many registers are blocked or closed in your home it could create pressure problems that could damage your heating system. Constant hot air blowing is also not good for your rugs and furniture.

Learn Your Furnace Codes

Most modern thermostats have an indicator light that flashes a code whenever there is a problem. You count the number of flashes to find out the error code. Usually, this is a two-number code with one number flashing, then a pause, and the second number flashing. When you call for service, this code number, as well as your furnace’s brand name, is helpful information to give to the technician who can then diagnose and repair the unit quickly. 

Furnace failure, especially during a cold winter storm, is a serious problem. If you see any signs of furnace trouble, contact Hobson Plumbing & Heating for a thorough inspection. At Hobson Plumbing & Heating, we have skilled technicians who will check your furnace and determine the cause of your furnace failure. We also have a 100% satisfaction guarantee on all of our work. Contact us today if you need assistance.  

3 Important Post-Renovation Cleaning Tips For Your HVAC System

3 Important Post-Renovation Cleaning Tips For Your HVAC System

Why you need a post-renovation HVAC cleaning

With more time being spent at home these days, many homeowners are opting to take on renovations. Small businesses with facilities are also taking on necessary improvements. Renovations are a fantastic way to improve the comfort, aesthetics, functionality, and resale value of your home or business property. But it’s a complex process and many people experience a sigh of relief after the project is complete. The loud noise and dust everywhere, you know what we’re talking about!

However, the work isn’t complete once you write your contractor the final check or put away the tools. Nearly all renovations bring in residual dust and debris. If hiring contractors, contracting crews don’t always do a great job of cleaning up after themselves. At Hobson Plumbing and Heating, we take pride in ensuring we leave your space just the way we found it. 

The problem is, there’s dust and debris in places you can’t see (and won’t be removed by a post-renovation clean up crew). That’s because it’s inside your HVAC system. Its putting your indoor air quality at risk by harboring odors and putting a strain on your heating and air conditioning equipment. Here’s what you can do about it.

3 Important tips for a post-renovation HVAC cleaning

Any renovation puts a huge load on your HVAC system. Renovations throw up a lot of dust and debris in the air, and it ends up going into your ductwork. While that gets dust out of sight, it also drives up your power bill and shortens the life of your HVAC system.

1. Replace or clean HVAC filters

HVAC filters prevent dust and debris from entering your furnace and air conditioning equipment. If you don’t change the filter regularly, grime accumulates on the moving parts, which affects the equipment’s functioning and drives up energy bills. Clogged filters compromise air flow, and they can lead to your coils freezing or your compressor overheating.New HVAC filters ensure optimal indoor air quality. As a general rule of thumb, you should change out your filters every 90 days. If you have pets, asthma, or young children, you may want to change it as frequently as every 6 to 8 weeks.

2. HVAC duct cleaning

Duct cleaning refers to cleaning the different heating and cooling system components of forced air systems. Following a renovation, the dust and debris that coats every surface of your space has also accumulated in your HVAC ducts.

Professional duct cleaning gets rid of dust that can clog the passages, but it does more than that. Duct cleaning improves indoor air quality, gets rid of smells from decomposing paint flakes, as well as other volatile chemicals. It also removes moisture that accumulates in the layer of dust, which is a perfect environment for mold growth. When your equipment doesn’t have to work as hard, it uses less energy and is more efficient. That means lower energy bills for you!

3. Air conditioner coil cleaning

Another place where dust and debris can build up after a renovation is on your air conditioner’s coils, which are essential to your cooling system. Over time, the buildup impairs the air conditioner’s ability to remove heat from your space. It can also affect the airflow, which can result in higher utility bills and costly repairs due to equipment failure. Therefore, coil cleaning should be an integral component of all post-renovation cleaning projects.

At Hobson Plumbing and Heating we take care of these tasks. This way you can enjoy your newly renovated space without worrying about odors, breathing construction debris, or unexpected HVAC repair bills due to equipment damage.

When it comes to your HVAC equipment, maintenance matters. Because it’s hidden away out of sight, you can’t see what’s happening to it over time when maintenance is neglected. But you pay the price with higher energy bills, poor comfort conditions, and more frequent breakdowns and repair bills.

Contact Hobson Plumbing and Heating at 630.761.3400 or schedule an appointment for an HVAC cleaning that can help save you from a costly equipment replacement down the road.


3 Ways Dehumidifiers Help With Humidity & Dampness

3 Ways Dehumidifiers Help With Humidity & Dampness

Dehumidifiers are a valuable tool in preventing dampness, but they will not resolve the issue entirely. If your home or business is suffering from a dampness problem, the use of a dehumidifier will only help contain the problem as opposed to damp proofing – the more permanent solution.

What is Humidity?

Keeping it simple, humidity is just moisture in the air, typically caused by the evaporation of water. It can be caused by anything from local/global weather patterns to taking a long, steamy shower, to just making several cups of coffee.

There are two main ways to measure humidity – relative and absolute. Absolute refers to the absolute amount of water in a given measure of air, usually in grams per metres cubed. Relative humidity refers to a more complex set of variables linked to everything from air pressure to temperature of the air to the temperature of the environment. What’s important to understand is that the closer the number is to 100%, the closer the air is to what’s called “dewpoint” which is when water will condense.

How are Humidity & Dampness Connected?

It is important to understand that humidity inside a home or building is a symptom of dampness, not the cause. Perhaps your gutters are blocked, weather damage to your roof has let rainwater get in, or something else altogether. These reasons all mean that the air in the space is in contact with more moisture than it should be. This creates humidity and also creating ideal environments for mold spores to settle in and grow.

3 Ways Dehumidifiers Help With Dampness

First, dehumidifiers pull the air into your house. Using their filtration systems, dehumidifiers extract the water expelling clean, dry, air. Dehumidifiers are widely used for all kinds of issues, ranging from allergies to quarantine procedures, as they provide a deeply valuable and functional service to make sure air is dry, clean, and safe.

Secondly, as more spores and moisture collect, condensation and mold sprouting is inevitable. The only way to effectively combat this is to design your spaces with either as little dead air as possible or mark out the spaces where this air might be and move things around regularly.

Thirdly, a whole house dehumidifier creates a better chance of eliminating almost all the moisture in the air and stops new collections of spores sprouting into mold on other surfaces. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t kill the existing mould, as that can only be removed with thorough cleaning. Mold is deeply resilient and needs only the most limited supplies of water to survive.

For more information on the services that we provide, or to request a quotation, please call Hobson Plumbing & Heating today at 630.761.3400 and we will be happy to help.

3 Considerations for Teacher Wish Lists in 2020

3 Considerations for Teacher Wish Lists in 2020

According to Education Week a federal watchdog estimates that 41 percent of school districts or 36,000 schools need to update or replace heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems in at least half their schools, underscoring a significant infrastructure need for schools as they tackle coronavirus or what’s commonly referred to as COVID-19 this school year.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released long-awaited guidance to help schools reopen, and among the recommendations is that schools should “ensure that ventilation systems operate properly” and should increase ventilation of outside air by opening windows and doors, unless it creates concerns for students with asthma.

Portable HEPA Filters

A temporary solution for classrooms is to have a portable HEPA filter to help clean the air. COVID-19 has presented teachers with an array of new challenges. And with the 2020 back-to-school season just beginning, educators are being forced to find ways to tackle remote learning or make their classrooms socially distance-friendly while working to ensure that learning experiences aren’t degraded.

HEPA Filter

Books About Germs and Proper Hygiene

Books about germs and proper hygiene such as how to properly wash your hands may come in handy for all ages. If students are in secondary education and interested in learning more about what Hobson Plumbing & Heating is all about or interested in the trade business, HVAC training books might be a nice option.

Gift Cards

Give the gift of choice digitally for supplies such as bacterial disinfectant/wipes, hand sanitizer, dedicated refillable water bottles, and more! Let teachers, nannies, caregivers, etc. know you appreciate their hard work with a gift card applicable to many retailers, including popular food services, online retailers, and more. Websites such as Giftogram or Gift Card Mall are great places to start!

You don’t have to be an expert on HVAC systems to find a skilled technician. If you need to schedule an appointment to service your own HVAC unit, please ​contact us​ today!

5 No Cost Ways to Boost Savings at Home

5 No Cost Ways to Boost Savings at Home

Energy efficiency means using less energy, reducing your home’s energy waste, and saving money. To effectively increase your energy efficiency involves more than just using less energy – it requires you becoming aware of how energy is used, where it’s wasted, and how it can be used more effectively and efficiently in everyday life. Here are some top tips to help your home or business save energy and be more efficient.

Reduce hot water temperature.

Set your water heater to the “normal” setting or 120, unless the owner’s manual for your dishwasher requires a higher setting. Savings are 7-11% of water heating costs. 

Use the right amount of cold water when washing clothes.

About 16% of an average home energy bill goes toward heating water. Most detergents perform better in cooler temperatures. Be sure to set the water level appropriately for the size load that’s being washed.  

Take a five-minute shower instead of a bath.

Take a five-minute shower instead of a bath to reduce hot water consumption. 

Use your ceiling fan.    

Ceiling fans help keep you comfortable not only in the summer. If your biades are still reversed from the winter, flip the direction of the blades so it pushed cooler air down into the room. Fans should turn clockwise in the summer and counter-clockwise in the winter. 

Keep vent space clean & clear.

Make sure heating registers, vents and cold air returns are not blocked by draperies, furniture or rugs. In fact, keep then closed or blinds turned facing upward during the summer to help keep your home cool. 

If you’re looking for additional savings for your home, visit Energy Star and begin by entering your zip code. 

If you’re interested in Hobson Plumbing & Heating performing any of your Plumbing/HVAC inspections in order to increase savings, contact us today to schedule an appointment.


What Size Tankless Water Heater Do I Need?

What Size Tankless Water Heater Do I Need?

When it comes to tankless water heaters, size really does matter. If you have a unit installed that’s too small, you won’t have enough hot water to meet your household’s needs. On the other hand, an over-sized unit will cost more to purchase and operate than what’s needed, nullifying one of the biggest benefits of tankless water heaters—energy efficiency! Rest assured, as an essential business we are open and taking very necessary precautions to ensure your safety upon entering customers’ homes by sanitizing thoroughly on a daily basis, hand washing prior to and after calls, carrying gloves and masks on all trucks, social distancing, and more. 

In a nutshell, the tankless water heater size must be just right to meet household demand. In a previous blog, we walked you through four signs you may need a new water heater. Consider the two factors that go into sizing a tankless unit so you know what to install in your home if you do in fact you are in need of a new unit.

FLOW RATE

The flow rate is how much hot water the tankless unit can produce, in gallons per minute (gpm). You want the unit you install to provide a high enough flow rate to meet your household’s needs. Keep in mind that tankless water heaters will typically limit your family to one or two hot water activities at a time, depending on the size of the water heater you install.

Examples of efficient, low-flow hot water plumbing fixtures include:

  • Bathroom sink faucet – 1.0 gpm
  • Shower-head – 2.5 gpm
  • Bathtub faucet – 4.0 gpm
  • Kitchen faucet – 1.5 gpm
  • Dishwasher – 1.5 gpm
  • Washing machine – 2.0 gpm

Now, determine how many of these hot water fixtures you expect to use during peak times in your household. For instance, if you have two bathrooms and want two people to be able to take a bath at the same, you’ll need a flow rate of around 8 gpm, depending on the precise flow of your bathtub faucet. Similarly, if you want two people to be able to take a shower at the same time, you will need around 5 pgm.

TEMPERATURE RISE

Knowing the flow rate you want is a good place to start, but that’s not all you need to know. You need to consider the temperature of the water when it goes in and how hot it should be when it comes out. This is known as the temperature rise. Seasonal shifts change the water temperature coming, but when sizing a tankless water heater, you need to know the average groundwater temperature in your region.

There are helpful resources such as USGS where you can find the groundwater temperature (in degrees) for your area. The temperature you want at the tap ranges from 102 degrees for the bathtub and shower to 120 degrees for the dishwasher and washing machine. Starting with 52-degree water, this means you need a tankless unit capable of delivering a temperature rise of 50 to 68 degrees.

TANKLESS WATER HEATER SELECTION

As you shop around for tankless water heaters, you’ll see their sizes are listed as a flow rate and temperature rise combined. Both of these factors are critical to consider when finding the appropriate sized tankless water heater. If you need assistance selecting the appropriate unit for your residence or business, we’re here to help!

SCHEDULE TANKLESS WATER HEATER INSTALLATION

The water heater experts at Hobson Plumbing & Heating can help you determine the proper tankless water heater size for your family’s needs. We perform all the calculations to help you determine the right unit for your household’s needs when it comes to purchase price, performance, and energy efficiency.

If you move forward with the tankless water heater installation, we can assure you our experts at Hobson Plumbing & Heating come highly recommended for the job. We are fully trained, licensed, certified, and bonded, and our plumbers are background-checked and drug-tested for your peace of mind. We have a proven track record of providing excellent plumbing service to our residential and commercial customers in the Chicagoland area.

Call Hobson Plumbing & Heating today at 630.761.3400 or contact us to schedule a tankless water heater consultation.



5 Easy Steps to Extend the Life of Your Air Conditioner

5 Easy Steps to Extend the Life of Your Air Conditioner

Now more than ever, homeowners in the Chicagoland area are seeking ways to save and air conditioner maintenance can certainly help save you money now and down the road. Keep your air-conditioner maintained and you’ll not only save money on energy, but you’ll also extend its lifespan, saving money on costly early replacement. The best time period to use these tips is just before each cooling season begins which is now! 

Your Heating, Ventilating, and Air-Conditioning system (HVAC) will consist of either a furnace and AC or a heat pump, which both heats and cools. Both types will have an interior unit (evaporator and blower) and an exterior unit (condenser coil and compressor). 

5 Easy Steps For Your Whole-Home Air-Conditioner:

Step 1: Turn Off The Power

The dangers of working around electricity and the air-conditioner’s moving parts make it important to completely turn off power to the unit.

Step 2: Remove The Gunk

On the exterior condenser/compressor, remove the fan cage. Using a screwdriver or wrench, remove the fasteners and lift the cage or fan grill away from the top of the unit. Remove any funk or debris such as leaves from the interior.

Step 3: Clean The Fins

By removing the outer covers, you can use a brush attachment on a shop vacuum to remove dirt. Then, using a gentle stream from a garden hose, spray through the fins from the inside out to remove any build-up or debris from between them. Never use a pressure washer as the pressure can damage the fins. A fin cleaning spray available at most home improvement stores may be necessary for tough to clean fins.

Step 4: Straighten The Fins


Since any reduction in air-flow through the fins can reduce efficiency, carefully straighten bent fins using a dull knife or fin-straightening tool available at most home improvement stores. It’s imperative to be gentle so the tubing in the fins doesn’t get damaged in the process.

Step 5: Level The Unit

Over time and especially around newer home construction, the pad upon which the condenser unit sits can begin to tilt as the soil settles beneath it. Al condenser unit that’s not level can cause the compressor within it to fail. Check the condenser for level and use rot-resistant shims to bring it back to level. 

If you’re interested in Hobson Plumbing & Heating performing any of your HVAC inspections in order to increase savings, contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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