Easy Energy Conservation Tips for Winter

Winter is just around the corner! In Florida’ where MaintenX is headquartered, this means big energy savings for most businesses. However, our locations further north can expect more expensive heating costs as the snow starts to fall and chilly days become more and more frequent. If you struggle with higher energy costs in the winter, here are a few ways your facility can save:

 

Keep the blinds open

On sunny winter days, you can naturally heat your office space by opening the blinds and curtains as much as possible. This is more helpful for smaller offices and businesses where plenty of windows are built-in, but even larger facilities can benefit from individual offices using sunlight as a heat source. 

 

Seal doors and windows

Drafty air comes in from doors and windows every time they’re opened, but did you realize that small cracks under doors and windows equally contribute to colder air inside your facility. You may not feel the rush of a cool breeze, but the slow leaking of heated air out of your facility can make it more difficult for your HVAC system to properly regulate the temperature. Call your MaintenX team to install rubber seals around doors and windows to ensure your heater doesn’t have to work so hard. 

 

Use LED lights 

LED lights are the most energy-efficient lighting option available. While it’s wise to use them year-round it is especially important during the winter as the days get shorter. Plus, if your office or business plans to decorate for the holidays, you don’t want to add excess expenses by using high-energy lighting for your decor. 

 

Close vents in storage closets and unused spaces. 

Do you have a storage shed, vacant office, or other room in your facility that doesn’t need to be heated 24/7? If so, reduce your energy usage simply by closing the vents to that area. This will redirect heated air to the areas where it is most needed and is simple to reverse. 

 

Install a smart thermostat. 

Your office doesn’t need to be heated optimally while it’s closed or in certain areas that aren’t used daily. Save on heating bills by using a programmable thermostat that will adjust temperatures as needed. You can program your thermostat to start warming an hour before opening or can adjust temperatures based on different “zones” in your facility with greater use. 

 

With these simple tips, you can save 10% or more on your winter energy bills. For more cost-saving maintenance tips and ideas, visit our Resource Center

How To Know When It’s Time For A New HVAC System

HVAC systems, like all other commercial appliances, have a limited lifespan for effectiveness. While modern energy-efficient units can last 20 years or better, most will need replacement of parts or entire units between the 10-15 year mark. While most facility managers worry they’re replacing their units too soon, there are several reasons why you should budget for an HVAC replacement as soon as your technicians suggest. 

 

Why You Should Replace Your HVAC System

Replacing an entire HVAC system can cost upward of $10,000 for even a small commercial facility or office space. However, the long-term cost benefits outweigh the initial investment for several reasons: 

 

  • An older unit will expend more energy, leading to higher power bills every month
  • Outdated technology limits your ability to install cost-saving options like a smart thermostat or higher quality rooftop units
  • Older units are more costly to repair and need more frequent service, which will accumulate maintenance costs over time

 

By budgeting for a new HVAC in the upcoming year, you can begin saving on repair costs, while upgrading to newer technology that helps meet energy-saving goals. 

 

Signs Your HVAC System Needs To Be Replaced

If you’re unsure of when it’s time to replace your HVAC system, talk to your local MaintenX technician to determine when is the optimal time to upgrade. Some systems can be restored to their original performance with cleaning and repairs, while others are easier to replace. Below are some of the signs that your HVAC system is on its last leg and should be replaced within a year or two: 

 

Your system runs constantly

A properly functioning HVAC system should be able to maintain the temperature without running constantly. Even if you set it significantly lower or higher than the temperature outside, it should only run a few times throughout the day. If your system has to run constantly to maintain the temperature (or runs constantly and still can’t keep up), you are likely running into the end of your system’s service life. 

 

Your HVAC system makes these noises.

HVAC systems make noise occasionally, especially when they first turn on or run a cycle. However, if you notice any of these noises coming constantly from your unit or vents, it could mean signs of wear and tear: 

 

  • Constant humming from the blower
  • Banging noises from the furnace
  • Outdoor noise before the unit is in use

 

Your repairs don’t last

If you are paying for repairs that don’t last more than a few months, you’re likely past due for an HVAC replacement. Repair services are meant to fix problems, not stall them. If your MaintenX team is constantly redoing work and your system is over 10 years old, it’s time to start thinking about replacing your units. 

 

MaintenX can help you find an HVAC system that is clean, energy-efficient, and affordable. Contact us today for the latest industry recommendations. 

The Biggest Culprits of Poor Indoor Air Quality

Indoor air quality is a hot topic in commercial facility maintenance today. Winter is notorious for the cold and flu season, which can cause what is known in the maintenance world as “sick building syndrome.” As indoor air quality worsens, bacteria, viruses, and mold can spread through the HVAC system of a facility and cause everyone in the building to feel sick. 

 

Maintaining indoor air quality is especially important as our nation continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. The cleaner the air in your facility, the better your chances of reducing the spread of illness and. Even if your employees do not get sick from COVID-19 or another virus, these indoor air contaminants can worsen respiratory health and cause other illnesses to affect them more severely. 

 

Watch out for these common indoor air contaminants that could be causing sick building syndrome:

 

Mold 

Mold is not only a common cause of drywall damage, it can easily circulate through your vents and cause serious illness among tenants and staff. If your employees are breathing it in, they can become sick on their own or have worsening symptoms of respiratory illnesses like asthma. 

 

Chemical cleaners 

Chemicals like polyurethane, formaldehyde and other VOCs are commonly present in commercial facilities. They are either used in chemical cleaners and solvents or brought in through upholstery or furniture used in the office. Be careful where you source these materials, as overexposure to VOCs can cause long-term respiratory damage. 

 

Radon and carbon monoxide 

These colorless, odorless gases are lethal if leaking into your facility. Radon, which is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers, comes from uranium decay in soils. Carbon monoxide is also deadly if inhaled and can come from defective heaters, so be sure to test your facility for these gases and install a CO monitor to prevent injury or death. 

 

Maintaining indoor air quality not only helps keep everyone safe and healthy but creates a better atmosphere for productivity. To learn more about how you can keep your HVAC system and indoor air in the best condition, contact us today. 

Why Does The Office Heater Smell Like Its Burning?

Winter is just around the corner, which means you’ll be switching from air conditioning to heating pretty soon (if you haven’t already). In Tampa, Florida, where MaintenX is headquartered, we still have a month or so before our local clients need to turn the heater on every day. However, we want those in northern climates to be prepared with everything they need to know about heater maintenance this time of year. 

 

At home and at the office, you may have noticed that your heater has a strange burning smell the first time you turn it on. If so, we want to reassure you that this is completely normal. 

 

During the summer, your heater goes dormant for several months (even longer if you live in a southern climate). This means that dust can collect in the vents. When you turn on the heater for the first time in winter, the dust burns off and will cause an odor for a few hours until it is all gone. This is a normal part of your HVAC system’s cycle and is not a cause for concern. 

 

How to Prevent Winter Burning Smells

If you dislike the smell of a burning heater, or simply don’t want to make your customers uncomfortable, there are two ways you can prevent this smell: 

 

  • Schedule a cleaning with your MaintenX HVAC technician – If you want to prevent the burning smell altogether, call your HVAC technician to perform a cleaning before the first cold day of winter. They can clear the dust and perform a routine checkup to ensure that your heater is in tip-top shape for the season. 

 

  • Replace the air filter before you turn on the heater – While this won’t eliminate the smell completely, it will help your system to filter out the dust as the air starts to circulate and ensure that the burning smell is dissipated more quickly. 

 

Burning Smells That Are Cause for Concern

 

In most cases, it is normal for the heater to smell a little strange the first time you turn it on. However, if you notice the smell of burning plastic, rubber, or an electrical burning smell, turn off the heater and contact MaintenX immediately. 

 

These burning smells mean that something inside the HVAC system — a wire, electrical component, or piece of machinery within the heater — is burning. This can be dangerous in some circumstances and will guarantee a costly repair bill if you don’t fix the problem immediately. Don’t take any chances and call us if the burning smell is suspicious or doesn’t go away after a few hours. 

 

If you’d like to learn more about winter maintenance for your facility, contact us today!

How To Safely Remove Tree Roots From Your Sewer Line

If you’ve worked at one facility for long enough, eventually you will experience a plumbing backup at your facility. While MaintenX tries to prevent these with hydro jetting services and regular maintenance services for your pipes, older buildings often experience plumbing issues as the pipes corrode over time. 

 

One of the most common causes of plumbing backups is the intrusion of tree roots in the main sewage lines. Contrary to popular belief, the tree roots don’t break the pipe itself. Rather, they are drawn to existing leaks due to moisture seeping out of the pipes, and will begin to move into the pipe break in order to absorb the water and nutrients. That means if you have a tree root problem in your pipes, you likely have corrosion problems in general that need to be addressed. 

 

How To Know If You Have Roots In Your System

 

The most common symptom of tree root invasion into pipes is plumbing backups or drains that are slowing down. While this is similar to any other kind of backup, you’ll be able to tell it’s a tree root if you can’t remove the blockage with a snake. 

 

The Solution

 

  • Cut roots from inside the sewer line – MaintenX can remove the roots using a snake-like machine that cuts the roots from the inside and makes them easy to flush out during your next hydro-jetting service. While this will temporarily solve the issue, it may recur if your piping is severely damaged because of the growth.

 

  • Use rock salt or other root-killing agents – Some tree roots can be eradicated with chemical means, similar to how drain cleaning chemicals dissolve hair and food in your drains at home. However, like drain cleaning solvents, these can cause corrosion and damage your piping further. 

 

  • Schedule a hydro jet cleaning – Smaller roots and organic material can be removed with a hydro-jetting service. This powerful spray of water will break the roots apart and flush them similar to the root cutting service. However, if your pipes are damaged, this can be risky. The hydro-jet cleaning can further open leaks in the pipes and cause long-term damage. 

 

  • Remove and replace the damaged pipe – The best and most permanent solution is to replace the damaged pipe entirely. This eliminates the possibility of a recurring backup, and offers you the opportunity to upgrade. You can also use this opportunity to insulate your piping to prevent tree root breaks in the future.  

 

Tree roots are a hassle, but they don’t have to be long-term ones. With MaintenX by your side, you can easily remove tree roots at an affordable price. Call us for more information! 

How To Find A Water Leak Within Walls of Your Building

Water leaks are a major hassle for commercial facility managers. They can cause damage quickly and often end in expensive repairs. However, nothing is worse than a leak that is occurring within the walls of your facility. These are incredibly hard to catch and will result in drywall rot, roofing damage, and mold if you’re not careful. 

 

Sometimes internal water leaks are easy to catch — but it’s often when they’ve caused other damage to your facility. If you want to catch them early, here’s what to do:

 

Look for wall or floor discoloration.

This is the most obvious, and unfortunately the worst sign of an internal water leak. If the leak has gotten to the point where it is visibly causing discoloration or even puddles, that means a major pipe has been damaged and replacement of both the piping and the wall or flooring will likely be necessary. While this is an inconvenience, it can be repaired with the MaintenX plumbing and renovations team. 

 

Feel for changes in texture. 

If water is leaking within your walls, the texture of drywall and other materials is likely to change. You may notice that the wall is bubbling or puckering in certain places, or that it feels softer than areas adjacent to it. If so, the leak is likely nearby. 

 

Be wary of musty smells.

If you smell something musty or generally off but can’t find the source, a water leak may be the culprit. As the water absorbs into the wall, it doesn’t have a chance to dry out. Instead it will develop a mildewy odor which can signal you to a leak within the wall. While the musty odor may not be caused by water damage, it’s best to contact your plumber to confirm, so that a small leak doesn’t turn into a major disaster. 

 

Watch your water bill. 

Do you suspect there is a leak in your facility due to an unusually high water bill? This is often the case for smaller leaks, where physical signs aren’t apparent but you’re paying significantly more for water than you typically do. Even small leaks can waste gallons of water a day. If you’re suspicious, go ahead and call your MaintenX plumber. If it’s not a water leak, there is likely something else we can do to help get your water bill back to normal. 

 

Don’t take these signs of water leaks lightly — the sooner you call us, the easier your repair process will be. For more questions about commercial plumbing, contact us. 

Five Ways Your Facility Is Wasting Water

Water waste in commercial programs is a big deal. Not only are you wasting your own money, but your facility is unnecessarily contributing to environmental damage due to wastewater and overconsumption of energy. While some wastewater is difficult to avoid, other sources can be easily eliminated with a few maintenance upgrades to your system. 

 

If you want to improve the water efficiency of your facility, look into these # contributors of waste:

 

You aren’t addressing leaky pipes

Pipes that are leaking are the definition of water waste. This may not seem like a big contributor, but you could be wasting several gallons of water each week by not fixing your leaky pipes. 

 

You haven’t invested in low-flow faucets and other smart appliances

Conventional toilets, faucets, dishwashers, and other appliances often use way more water than is necessary for the 21st century. By installing low-flow appliances and energy-efficient systems, you can dramatically decrease both energy and water usage within your facility. 

 

Your employees are overusing water

Do your employees leave the sink running while washing out dishes and coffee cups from the office kitchen? Do they use the onsite shower daily, or flush things that should be thrown away? While you don’t want to be a stickler for water usage, it’s important to add gentle reminders not to waste water as part of your company’s environmental mission. 

 

Your commercial kitchen is running the dishwasher too often

Do you always run the dishwasher when there’s a full load? Or do you run it whenever you have time? By underfilling your dishwasher you’re wasting water that is adding up at the end of the month. 

 

You’re overwatering your landscaping

Commercial landscaping is important for maintaining the appearance of your facility as a whole, but you can go overboard by running your sprinklers all day instead of only when it’s needed. Be sure to turn off sprinklers when rain is expected, and only run them once a day to preserve water usage. 

Minor adjustments over time can lead to great savings for your company and your local environment. To learn more about other simple-to-do environmental programs for your facility, visit the MaintenX resource center.

How To Stop an Overflowing Toilet Fast

Rats! There is nothing worse than having a toilet overflow at the office and no idea how to stop it. At home, this is just a hassle, but at a place of business, it can permanently damage your reputation with employees and customers. If you’re in the midst of a toilet overflow, the most important thing to do is to stop it fast. 

 

If you have an overflowing toilet and are looking for help to stop it, here’s what you need to do immediately: 

 

  • Remove the toilet lid and set it somewhere safe.

 

  • Press the flapper (the rubber piece at the bottom) into the center of the tank to prevent more water from entering the toilet bowl. The water inside the tank is sanitary, so you don’t have to worry about washing your hands immediately after. This will hopefully stop the water from overflowing (or at least stop it from overflowing further).

 

  • Lift the float that operates the tank fill valve. This will allow the excess water to drain and hopefully, this will alleviate the problem until the plumber arrives. Once the water is drained you should be able to get go of the float and flush as normal. 

 

  • If the water doesn’t start to go down, you may have to shut off the water supply to that toilet so it doesn’t overflow. It should be located near the floor. To turn off the water supply, turn the valve clockwise. If you can’t reach it, get someone to hold the tank valve float while you turn it. 

 

  • If you believe a blockage caused the overflow, try plunging the toilet to get the water level back to normal. However, if multiple drains are experiencing issues or if the toilet is draining from one drain to another, it’s time to call your MaintenX plumber. 

 

While you wait for your MaintenX technician to arrive, it’s important to not use any other sink or toilet as you may cause further overflows. Our team should arrive in a matter of minutes or hours to resolve the issue depending on the time of day. However, even a temporary facility closure is worth it to ensure your employees and customers are safe. 

 

If you experience plumbing issues now or in the future, contact your local MaintenX plumbers!

Sounds That Could Mean Your Plumbing Needs Attention Now

It’s normal for your facility’s massive plumbing system to make noise from time to time. Your pipes are under a great deal of stress, especially in larger facilities, and you can expect the occasional gurgling or rushing noise from your bathrooms and commercial kitchen. However, sometimes the noises in your pipes are indicative of something serious going on below the surface. 

 

If you notice any of these four sounds coming from your pipes, it may be time to call a plumber. Be on the lookout, and let your MaintenX plumber know during your next check-up if any sounds start to arise out of the blue or more than once. 

 

Gurgling – blocked or sluggish sewage lines

Toilets will often gurgle right after flushing, but if you notice this noise before you flush, or if you hear it near a sink, it could mean your pipes are getting clogged. Luckily, this can easily be fixed with a snaking or hydro jet cleaning service. 

 

Dripping water – Internal pipe leak

Most people notice a dripping faucet and know it’s time to call a plumber. However, you may not always see the leak before it becomes problematic for your facility. If you hear a dripping noise but can’t locate the source, contact MaintenX for an onsite consultation. You may have a leaking pipe internally that’s causing water damage from within the walls. 

 

Banging or clanking near the hot water heater – Mineral deposit buildup

Hot water heaters occasionally make noise as they get older due to mineral deposit buildup moving around inside the tank. It may not be serious, but you should always contact your MaintenX plumber if you hear any loud noises coming from the hot water heater. You don’t want to neglect hot water heater care and have a major leak on your hands eventually. 

 

Hissing – leak outside the building 

If you hear a hissing noise coming from your pipes, it means that a leak is likely causing water to rush out of the system. Typically you would notice this leak, but if you can’t locate the source, check outside. You may be experiencing a leak outside the building that is wasting water by the minute. Even if you’re unsure of the cause, give MaintenX a call to ensure your pipes are in tip-top shape. 

 

MaintenX can help you solve any plumbing issue at your commercial facility. For more information or to schedule your next consultation, contact us. 

Four Ways To Tell Your Sewer Line Is Clogged

Sewage is the one thing that no facility manager wants to deal with on a workday. With any luck, you are working with a top-notch MaintenX team that performs regular preventative care services on your plumbing system. However, if you’re coming to us for the first time due to a plumbing issue, we are excited to get you back on track and hopefully avoid future sewage issues in the future. 

 

If you are suspicious of a clogged sewer line, these warning signs can help you diagnose and determine whether the issue is worth a service call. If you notice any of these symptoms, call your MaintenX team immediately: 

 

Multiple drains are slow.

If you have one drain at your facility that is slow, you more than likely have a simple clog near the surface. It could be hair, grease, or food in the case of a commercial kitchen. However, if multiple drains throughout the facility are slow or backing up, it is likely an issue with the main sewer line. 

 

Wastewater is backing up in one drain when another is in use. 

If water is backing up into the office sink every time you use the bathroom, there is likely a deeper issue going on. This could be a sign that your system is clogged, or that it has a break and is not draining properly. Either way, it’s important to notify your MaintenX team of the issue before it gets worse. 

 

Your sink smells funny, even when it’s clean. 

Commercial kitchen sinks and office sinks can start to develop an odor over time, especially if they are in heavy use between cleanings. However, if you start to notice a rotten smell coming from your sink at all times, it may be time to call the plumber. Your sewage may be backing up which is not only nasty, but can lead to expensive plumbing repairs if left unchecked. 

 

You hear a gurgling noise coming from the bathroom or kitchen.

Gurgling noises are never a good sign within a commercial facility. If you hear one coming from a drain such as a bathroom toilet or kitchen sink, call your plumber immediately. This is likely a sign that your plumbing will soon back up, which is something you don’t want to take lightly. 

 

Luckily, With MaintenX by your side, you never have to worry about plumbing disasters. We provide preventative care services including regular inspections and hydro jet cleaning to ensure your plumbing is in tip-top shape. And, if you do ever have a sewage leak or backflow, we are available 24/7 for your plumbing emergencies. Nobody has better plumbing service than your MaintenX team!