How To Make Your Air Conditioner Last Longer

By Austin Heyen, Head of Aurora’s HVAC division

July 28, 2019

  • Always work with a reputable contractor. The air conditioning contractor that you choose to work with can have a big impact on how long your system lasts. If you work with a low-cost, low-quality contractor for your installation, your system might have operational problems from day one that plague the system for the rest of its life. In addition, a low-quality contractor might rush through maintenance and repair calls or even misdiagnose your system and make unnecessary and expensive repairs. By working with a high-quality and reputable contractor like Aurora’s, you can be sure your system is in good hands throughout its entire operating life, including during its installation, annual tune-ups and repairs.

  • Schedule a tune-up every year. Speaking of tune-ups, it’s essential that you schedule a tune-up for your air conditioner every year if you want your system to last as long as possible. Air conditioners are like cars in the sense that they work better and last longer if they are well-maintained. In the same way that you need to periodically change the oil, rotate the tires and add fluids to your car, your air conditioner requires maintenance tasks that should be taken care of during professional tune-ups every year. In fact, many air conditioner manufacturers will void the warranty on your system if you neglect to schedule annual maintenance.

  • Change your air filter regularly. The single most important maintenance task that you are responsible for when it comes to your air conditioner is to change the air filter. Dirty filters are responsible for many of the most common short- and long-term problems that develop with air conditioners, which is why keeping a clean filter installed is one of the best ways to make your air conditioner last longer. Many air filters only last for 30 days, while others can last a few months. Either way, we suggest that you at least check on your filter every month and change it when it’s dirty.

  • Use your thermostat wisely. Anything you can do to limit your air conditioner’s workload will lead to less wear and tear and a longer operating life for your system. One of the best ways to do that is to use energy-saving thermostat settings. When you’re at home, use the highest temperature setting that your family is comfortable with. When you leave the house for the day, raise your thermostat by 3-5 degrees to save energy while your home is empty. Over time, settings like these will save you energy and help keep your air conditioner in good shape. To make your life easier, install a programmable thermostat that will change your home’s temperature levels automatically based on your family’s schedule.

  • Ensure your system has good airflow. In order to keep your home cool while exerting a minimum amount of effort, your air conditioner must have good airflow. If something is blocking airflow through your system, or if air is escaping your ducts, your air conditioner will have to work much harder and longer than usual during every cooling cycle. This added effort will add up to a lot of extra wear and tear over time, which will shorten your system’s operating life. In order to help ensure good airflow, keep all of your home’s vents open and clear of obstructions, clear away plants and debris within a few feet of your outside unit, check and/or change your air filter every month and have your ducts inspected for leaks by Aurora’s HVAC technicians.

If you have any questions about how to make your air conditioner last longer, or if you’d like a cooling system serviced or installed in your home, contact Aurora Plumbing, Electrical, Heating and Cooling. 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,

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.