Replacing vs. Cleaning an Exhaust Fan

July 7, 2019

By Austin Heyen, Head of Aurora’s HVAC Division


Does your existing bathroom fan seem to be lacking efficiency? Before you upgrade to a new or larger model, try giving it a good cleaning. Signs that a cleaning is needed include:

  • Accumulated debris on the decorative grille

  • Sudden decrease in effective air circulation

  • Loud operation

Bathroom fans should be cleaned twice yearly to remove dust, grime and allergens that collect on the outside of the grille and the inside of the housing. To clean a bathroom fan, turn the power off at the circuit breaker and remove the cover from the ceiling. Place the cover on a towel and vacuum over both sides using a brush attachment. Use your vacuum’s dusting attachment and/or crevice tool to clean the inside of the housing and motor. Place the cover back on, turn the power back on and test the fan’s operation. If cleaning the fan doesn’t fix the issue, the fan may need to be replaced.

Homeadvisor.com has a great step by step guide to replace your bathroom exhaust fan and light combination.  Although homeowners with some carpentry and electrical experience can approach this as a DIY project, if you’ve never worked with electrical equipment before, you should hire a professional to make sure everything is installed correctly. Don’t hesitate to give us a call at Aurora Plumbing, Electrical, Heating and Cooling to schedule an upgrade. 701-242-7202.

Home Advisor's link to replacing your fan.



Programmable Thermostat - Yes or No?

By Austin Heyen, Division Head - Aurora HVAC

Adjusting to the changing temperature is one thing, but constantly adjusting your thermostat to match the day’s temperature is another. The quick shift in degrees can cause your heating and cooling bills to quickly rise, and you end up wasting money on your thermostat — especially while you are away or sleeping.

The programmable thermostat could be your solution: installing a programmable thermostat in your home will let you run a scheduled heating and cooling program without having to remember to manually change your settings throughout the day. 

Most programmable thermostats are able to automatically adjust the heating temperature in your home up to six or more times per day. You can also manually override the automatic settings if you need to at any time without interrupting the daily or weekly programming. 

A programmable thermostat offers such ease of use, that it's easy to set your home's temperature lower while you are asleep or during the day when you are at work.

When programming your thermostat, just take into consideration your daily schedule. In the winter, do you like to sleep in a cool house?  If you like your home cooler at night, set your thermostat to a lower setting about an hour before you actually go to bed so the house starts to cool down. Prior to waking up, you might want to set the thermostat so the heat comes on approximately two hours before you actually get up so the house is nice and warm.

You should also consider adjusting the thermostat anytime your house is vacant for four or more hours per day. Typically, adjusting temperatures 5 – 8 degrees (down in winter, up in summer) can help save energy if you are going to be away from home for several hours.

Here are a few tips and benefits of a programmable thermostat from Energy Star:

  • Install your thermostat away from heating or cooling registers, appliances,
    lighting, doorways, fireplaces, skylights and windows and areas that receive
    direct sunlight or drafts. Interior walls are best.

  • Keep the thermostat set at energy-saving temperatures for long periods of time,
    such as during the day when no one is home and at bedtime.

  • Set the “hold” button at a constant energy-saving temperature when going
    away for the weekend or on vacation.

  • Change your batteries each year if your programmable thermostat runs on
    batteries. Some units will indicate when batteries must be changed.

A home's comfort level is determined by who lives within the home. Some people like a home that is warm and some prefer a cooler environment. If you haven't been consciously managing your temperature settings up to now, you might be surprised that changing your settings just a little up or down, depending on the season, will provide you with the same comfort you have enjoyed previously in your home.

No matter what your preference, adjusting your thermostat — either manually or with a programmable thermostat — will ultimately help you save money.  Give us a call at Aurora Plumbing, Electrical, Heating and Cooling to set up an appointment to upgrade your thermostat. 701-242-7202


Why Does My Shower Get Hot When Someone Flushes the Toilet?

By: Chuck Foertsch, Master Plumber, Aurora Plumbing, Electrical, Heating, and Air Conditioning

“Don’t flush the toilet if someone’s in the shower!” We hear this all the time. If you flush the toilet, the person in the shower gets a blast of hot water.

It’s unpleasant, painful and probably due to your water pressure in your home. That’s right, water pressure is to blame for your suddenly boiling shower. But how does it work? How does water pressure affect your shower’s temperature?

Usually plumbing is configured in a trunk and branch system. The water runs from one side of the building to the other in a large pipe, with small offshoot pipes that connect to different plumbing fixtures, like your shower, washer, toilet or sink. If you have lower water pressure in your home, when a fixture takes some of that water from the trunk pipe, it means there is less water for the rest of the fixtures. When you flush the toilet, it calls for cold water to fill up the tank. The toilet draws water from the trunk pipe. If you’re showering during this time, the shower will have less cold water to draw from in the trunk pipe, and compensate with more hot water. This heats up your shower!

This doesn’t only happen with your toilet. It could happen if someone turns on the washing machine, the sprinklers or gets a drink from the kitchen sink.

The easiest way to prevent a scalding shower is to limit how fast water fills up the toilet tank. You can do this by closing the supply valve on the wall behind the toilet slightly. This will make the toilet tank fill more slowly and allow for more water pressure to accommodate the shower. Simply twist the supply valve behind your toilet to change your water pressure You can also purchase a pressure-balanced valve that will provide water at a constant temperature in your shower, regardless of if your water pressure changes in the hot or cold water lines. A pressure-balanced valve recognizes the drop in cold water when a toilet is flushed, and makes sure the hot water drops the same amount. The water temperature is the same, but the pressure of the water may be lessened. Aurora Plumbing, Electrical, Heating, and Air Conditioning can install this type of valve in your plumbing system, give us a call 701-242-7202 and go ahead, flush that toilet when someone is in the shower.



Leaky Hot Water Heater?

By Chuck Foertsch

June 15, 2019

Just. Great. You turned your faucet on and let it run and run and no hot water.  You check your hot water heater and you noticed water pooling around the bottom. So is this serious, do you need to call a plumber? The seriousness of the problem depends on WHERE the leak is coming from at the bottom.

Step 1: Look at these 2 places:

  • The drain valve (the spigot at the bottom of the tank that drains the water heater of sediment)

  • The water heater's tank

The drain valve: If the leak is here-good news-the repair is simple and relatively inexpensive. You just need a plumber to replace the faulty drain valve.

The tank: If the leak is coming from the tank you'll need to replace the water heater. Most likely, sediment (minerals) has built up at the bottom of the tank, corroding the tank's inner lining.

Step 2: Turn off the water heater and water supply Now that you know where the leak is, you'll want to slow the leak to prevent further water damage. First, turn off the water heater.

  • For electric water heaters, find the water heater's circuit breaker and flip it to "off."

  • For gas water heaters, look on your water heater for an on/off switch or dial. Turn it to "off."

Now, shut off the cold water supply. To do that, look for a lever or dial above your water heater. Pull the lever or turn the dial clockwise. WARNING: Your water heater may be hot. So be careful that you don't come in contact with the tank as you reach for the dial or lever.

Step 3: Call a plumber for help. If the drain valve is leaking water, call a plumber to replace the valve. Like I  said, it's a relatively inexpensive repair. If the water heater's tank is leaking, you'll need to call a plumber to replace your water heater.   Feel free to give me a call at the shop at Aurora. 701-242-7202,



Ensure your Farm Operation has Proper Wiring around your Bins 

June 8, 2019 

By Michael Mauch, Aurora Master Electrician  

Our team at Aurora is well aware of the electrical and safety requirements for grain bins. Faulty, aged or damaged electrical wiring and controls can pose a major safety hazard. We can help avoid any issues, meet standards, and improve the safety of your grain bins and farm operation.  Give us a call if you have questions on your operation’s wiring or would like to consider updating your operation to achieve maximum safety and efficiency.  

Aurora services include the following items:  

• Power Quality Services 

• Buried Cable 

• Underground Detection 

• Interior Lighting 

• Exterior Lighting 

• Trenching 

• Backup Power Systems 

• Repair and Maintenance Services 

Does Switching Back and Forth Between Heat and AC Hurt Your HVAC System? 

By Austin Heyen 

May 30, 2019 

Spring in the Midwest can give us quite the temperature variation; it’s hot one day and cold the next. Sometimes we get all four seasons in one week. It can be a challenge to regulate your home’s temperature. During the day you may need to turn your air conditioning on, but at night you may find that it is too cold to fall asleep. Because of this many homeowners switch units back and forth between heat and air conditioning. 

But will this switching back and forth damage your unit? 

The good news is, NO! Generally, doing this will not cause any problems with your system and inherently it isn’t bad for your unit. There are a few important things you should know before switching back and forth. 

Because of the demands that switching back and forth puts on your HVAC unit, preventative maintenance of your HVAC system becomes even more important to make sure everything runs smoothly. Here are some more tips to ensure that you are switching between heat and air conditioning in the safest way possible. 

● Let your unit completely finish its current cycle before switching it. Once it has stopped, shut your unit off completely. 

● Wait five or more minutes between turning off one system and turning on the other. If you switch them too quickly an electrical issue could arise and you are at risk of tripping your breakers. 

● Make sure you don’t set the temperature to something drastically different right away when switching between systems. Raise or lower the temperature by just a couple of degrees at a time. This will keep your system from overworking, and it will help it operate more efficiently. 

If you find it hard to maintain a comfortable temperature in your home, contact the professional technicians at Aurora Plumbing, Electrical, Heating and Cooling. We are available to inspect your system, make any necessary repairs and tune-ups, and offer advice on the best way for you to stay comfortable in your home. Also, keep in mind that your HVAC system is an investment and it is important to keep it operating efficiently. Please give me a call at Aurora if you have any questions, 701-242-7202.

Sniffling, Sneezing, Watery Eyes - Help your Allergies, Optimize your HVAC System

May 18, 2019 

By Austin Heyen, Head of Aurora’s HVAC Division 

Have you ever considered that optimizing your HVAC System may improve or alleviate asthma and allergy symptoms? There are many easy options to reduce allergens and improve indoor air quality.  

Schedule Annual AC Maintenance 

Indoor air pollution includes mold, dust mites, pet dander and pollen. Your HVAC system’s air filters are designed to trap the majority of these allergens when they become airborne, but they can still affect you, causing allergic reactions or asthma attacks. Additionally, your HVAC system can harbor mildew and mold, which can end up in your indoor air during the air conditioning cycles. That’s why annual maintenance is so crucial, especially for someone with asthma or allergies. 

Know Your Filter 

Since the air filter is such a crucial player in reducing indoor allergens, you need to invest in a quality filter capable of trapping even the tiniest particles. An air filter’s effectiveness is measured using a MERV rating, or a minimum efficiency recording value. MERVs range from one to twenty, with the higher numbers offering the highest level of filtration. Not every air filter is recommended for any system, however. Higher air filter efficiency tends to add stress to the system. At Aurora, we are happy to guide you to the perfect filter for your system and personal preferences. Call us at 701-242-7202. 

Add Whole Home Air Purifiers  

While centralized HVAC systems work best with medium to high-efficiency air filters, adding an air purifier with a HEPA filter is the smartest option for trapping those allergens your HVAC can’t handle alone. Whole-home air purifiers are great for anyone suffering from severe asthma or allergies because they improve the entire home’s air quality, helping everyone in the family to breathe easier. 

Control Humidity 

In addition to air purification, it’s important to maintain ideal humidity levels inside the home in order to alleviate allergies. Humidity, in particular, is a major trigger for many asthma sufferers. Having a dehumidifier installed can help to keep those humidity levels in check.  

Keep Your HVAC Systems Maintained 

One of the best and most cost-effective ways to optimize your HVAC system is to schedule annual maintenance service. This should include having your air filters changed and the ductwork cleaned in order to improve airflow and keep the system running efficiently. Don’t suffer from allergies and asthma. Call Aurora at 701-242-7202 to discuss optimization solutions for your HVAC system. Whether you opt for an annual HVAC tune-up or a new indoor air quality product, we can have your family breathing better in no time. 

MAKE SURE YOUR AC IS READY FOR SUMMER TEMPS

By Austin Heyen, Head of Aurora’s HVAC Division

Have you run your air conditioner yet this year?  Believe it or not, the temps will be heating up and we are going to need to run our AC units.

If your AC has developed any issues over the winter, the best thing you can do is refrain from using it until you’ve had it tuned-up. Instead of waiting just before the summer returns, however, you can get that maintenance check out of the way anytime before summer.

A few reasons to service your AC unit:

CLEAN=EFFICIENT

Check your air vents. If you can see dust there, just imagine how much could have formed inside the ducts and in the sensitive components of your air conditioner. Turning on your AC for the first time in several months, some of that dust might even come out and leave a bit of an odor.

The U.S. Department of Energy has found that nearly 25 to 40 percent of the energy used by your AC is wasted due to excessive dust in the system. The dust that can build up on the air conditioning coils and other parts of the system can reduce the AC’s cooling potential.

While air filters are put in place to help prevent this problem in the first place, dust manages to find its way inside the system through other entry points. Plus, if the filter gets too dirty for a prolonged period of time, it will be less effective in filtering out dust.

A little maintenance now saves time and money in the long run

There will come a time when you start running your air conditioner consistently. Soon after that, there will come days so hot that you’ll be very thankful to have a fully-operational air conditioner. The worst possible thing that could happen at that time? The AC breaks down and it’s likely to happen during the hottest part of the season, especially if the unit hasn’t received any maintenance since the year prior.

The most common issues that can cause a malfunction include refrigerant leaks, frozen evaporator coil, dirty condenser coil, broken blower motor or fan. Luckily those issues can be prevented with a quick tune-up.  Give us a call at Aurora Plumbing, Heating, and Cooling. We’d be happy to make sure you’re AC unit is ready when the temps start to rise.