If you’re a proud owner of a snowmelting system, you’re already aware of how costly and time-consuming repairs can be. Regular maintenance of your system is essential to keep it running efficiently and reduce repairs. Our professional services in the Toronto area can help you save both time and money by ensuring your system is properly maintained. We’ll take care of checking glycol levels, taking thermal imaging, balancing loop flow, and testing snow sensors to ensure correct performance.
By entrusting us with your snowmelting system’s maintenance, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that your investment is being taken care of by experienced professionals. Our team will work to ensure that your system is running smoothly throughout the winter months, so you can enjoy a clear and safe property without the hassle of maintenance. At Blackrock HVAC we want to see you once a year and reduce the likelihood of system repairs.
In addition to the financial benefits of regular maintenance, there are also safety benefits to consider. A snowmelting system that is properly maintained can greatly reduce the risk of slips and falls on your property. As a homeowner, you understand the importance of keeping your loved ones safe, especially during the winter months when the risk of slips and falls is heightened. By investing in the maintenance of your snowmelting system, you can have peace of mind knowing that your property is protected against potential hazards. Our team of professionals is dedicated to ensuring that your system is functioning at its best, so you can focus on enjoying your winter season without worrying about safety concerns.
Don’t wait until it’s too late, contact us today to schedule a maintenance appointment for your snowmelting system. Let us help you save time and money while taking care of your investment!
A DETAILED PHOTO SUMMARY OF OUR MAINTENANCE PROCESS
A residential boiler is like the engine of your heating system, powering your warmth and comfort through the bitter cold of a Toronto winter. It’s the workhorse that keeps your home and driveway toasty, and heats your pool during the summer months. You rely on it every day for hot water, and it’s easy to take for granted until something goes wrong. As a homeowner with an NTI brand boiler, you’ve made a wise investment in a high-performance machine. However, regular maintenance is critical to keep it running efficiently and prevent costly repairs down the road. Just like your car needs regular oil changes and tune-ups to keep it in top condition, your boiler requires a little TLC to ensure it’s running smoothly. In this article, we’ll break down the importance of boiler maintenance and explain in detail what’s involved in a professional annual service, using lots of pictures with simple text to visualize the process.
The NTI models we work on include: VMAX, TFT, TX, TXc, FTVN and TRX.
Just like a car, your NTI boiler has an engine of its own – the heat exchanger. It’s responsible for producing the heat that keeps your home warm. Over time, just like with a car engine, the heat exchanger can accumulate dirt, debris, and other particles that can cause it to work less efficiently. Think of it like changing the oil, spark plugs, and air filter – regular maintenance is essential to keep your car running smoothly, and the same is true for your boiler. In the image above, you can see a high-performance car undergoing an engine teardown. This is similar to what we do when we perform a boiler maintenance. We carefully examine the heat exchanger, clean it thoroughly, and check for any signs of damage or wear and tear.
The fire tube heat exchanger is a critical component of your NTI boiler, where the combustion process occurs. Over time, debris can accumulate inside the exchanger and hinder its ability to transfer heat efficiently. This can lead to reduced performance, increased energy costs, and ultimately, the need for replacement. By neglecting the cleaning of the heat exchanger, you’re asking for issues that will only be noticed when you have a serious problem. In the four images below, you can see the drastic difference in the before and after cleaning of the heat exchanger, highlighting the importance of regular maintenance.
The accumulation of debris in the heat exchanger is a common issue with boilers, especially those that are not maintained regularly. In some cases, it may look like black soot, while in others it may resemble coffee grounds! The combustion process is the root cause of debris accumulation in the heat exchanger. During combustion, fuel is burned to produce heat, and the by-products of this process can accumulate on the surfaces of the heat exchanger. Over time, this build-up reduces the efficiency of the boiler and creates blockage that result in overheating and cracking.
Regular boiler maintenance, including cleaning the heat exchanger, should be performed by a licensed and experienced HVAC technician. They have the knowledge, tools, and experience to safely and effectively clean the heat exchanger without causing any damage to the system. By hiring a professional, you can have peace of mind knowing that your boiler is in good hands and that you’re doing everything possible to keep your heating system reliable.
The burner is the heart of your boiler, just like the engine is the heart of your car. It’s responsible for igniting the fuel and generating the heat that warms your home. Just like how an engine needs tune-ups, the burner also requires regular maintenance to ensure optimal performance. During a maintenance visit, a technician will clean the burner and inspect it for any signs of wear or damage. They will also check the spark plug and flame sensor. Neglecting the burner can lead to increased fuel consumption, and even dangerous carbon monoxide emissions. So be sure to schedule your annual maintenance with Blackrock HVAC to keep your burner and boiler running smoothly.
Below are some examples of NTI burner inspections.
THE COMBUSTION ANALYSIS
If the technician you hired doesn’t use a or own a combustion analyzer, you’re only getting half the job done. A combustion analysis is an essential part of any heating boiler maintenance. During this process, a professional tech will test the boiler’s combustion efficiency, flue gas temperature, and carbon monoxide levels. The goal is to ensure that the boiler is burning fuel efficiently and safely. A poorly adjusted boiler can result in decreased efficiency, higher fuel bills, and even dangerous carbon monoxide levels. Therefore, it is crucial to hire a qualified and experienced technician for this task. Additionally, make sure the company you choose has a good standing with the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) to ensure that they comply with all the safety regulations and guidelines. Don’t take any risks with your family’s safety and your home’s heating system, trust the professionals.
WHAT IF I OWN A COMBI BOILER?
If you’re a homeowner with a combi boiler like the Tx151c, there is an additional step in the maintenance process that you should be aware of: descaling the plate heat exchanger. Over time, the plate heat exchanger accumulates scale and calcium buildup, which can reduce efficiency and cause damage to the system. To prevent this, it’s important to have the plate heat exchanger cleaned regularly by a qualified technician using not just vinegar, but a phosphoric acid instead. Neglecting this maintenance step can lead to a range of issues, from reduced efficiency and higher energy bills to system breakdowns and costly repairs. Think of it like a coffee maker with a clogged filter: the buildup will impede the flow of water, leading to a weaker and less satisfying cup of coffee. Similarly, scale buildup in your combi boiler’s plate heat exchanger will impede the flow of heat, leading to reduced efficiency and a cracked heat exchanger.
These pictures show a before and after combi boiler descaling. We use a professional grade highly concentrated solution of phosphoric acid which has shown itself to be superior to a vinegar/water mix. This is how you keep your boiler working longer!
As a homeowner with an NTI brand boiler, you have made a wise investment in a reliable and energy-efficient heating system. However, regular maintenance is crucial to ensure your boiler runs efficiently, prevent costly repairs, and avoid safety risks. Maintenance includes cleaning the heat exchanger, drain, interior cabinet, performing a combustion analysis, and, if you have a combi boiler, descaling the plate heat exchanger. Hiring a professional and TSSA-certified technician ensures your boiler is well-maintained and safe to operate. Don’t ignore these essential maintenance steps, as they will help extend the lifespan of your boiler and ensure it runs at peak performance for years to come. Remember, your boiler is like a high-performance car engine, and just like you wouldn’t neglect your car’s engine, you shouldn’t neglect your boiler. Contact us to schedule your annual maintenance today and keep your home warm and comfortable all winter long!
HOW TO FIND MY NTI MODEL #
You’ll be pleased to know that finding your model and serial numbers is a breeze. Simply locate the large sticker on the top right side (sometimes left on newer units) of your boiler cabinet, and you’ll have all the important information you need. It’s a good idea to provide this information to your technician before they arrive, as it will help them prepare and ensure a smooth maintenance process.
Don’t wait, don’t hesitate, book an appointment now before it’s not too late!
Have you heard of Warmboard? It’s a type of radiant heating system used in residential buildings that provides consistent and efficient heat throughout the space. The Warmboard panel is made of high-density plywood with channels for the radiant heating tubing to be installed. Warmboard-S is 1 1/8″ thick, 4×8′ panels, Douglas Fir 7 ply plywood and is used as a structural subfloor. Warmboard-R is 13/16″ thick, OSB, 2×4′ panels, and is commonly used in remodels.
Warmboard is known for its quick response time and efficient heat distribution thanks to the innovative upper aluminum layer. It works by circulating warm water through the tubing to radiate heat upwards into the room. It’s an energy-efficient solution to traditional heating systems, providing comfort and cost savings. The panels can be customized to fit any room layout or size.
On your first day of installation, it’s important to get organized on the job site. After the Warmboard panels have been installed by the framers, the next step is to install the tubing according to the layout provided by Warmboard. This layout is more important for the framers, but as a heating contractor, you should also use it to visualize the predetermined loop layouts and where to make router cuts in the panels (have a few black markers with you). Take the time to review the layout and ensure you understand it before starting the installation. It can be frustrating at first, and you may make some unnecessary cuts, but take them as practice. Organize your tools and materials in a way that’s easy to access, and keep your work area clean and tidy (bring a good vacuum!). This will help you stay focused and efficient while working on the job site. Don’t forget to order some food for dinner because the work can get addicting one you get in the zone and you’ll likely be up late!
To make the necessary routes in the Warmboard panels for the tubing, you will need to buy a router (or two). Get yourself a heavy-duty router and a few bits because making all these cuts in the panels takes a serious toll on the tool. Additionally, it is important to make sure that the router is set to the correct depth for the tubing, which is typically 5/8″ for 1/2″ tubing. By using the right router and bit, you can ensure that the tubing routes are precise and accurate, which will lead to a successful installation of your Warmboard system. Remember to have a good heavy weight rubber mallet for installing the tubing into the groove.
We start and end each loop at the manifold, which is located inside a closet wall. We mounted the manifold to a beautifully stained oak plywood, which will add to the visual appeal once the project is complete. To ensure the fitment of the tubing, we used protector plates at bends to hold down any pipe that may stick up, despite our precise cuts. These plates are almost flush with the floor, ensuring a smooth finish. It’s crucial to pressure test the system before leaving the job site to guarantee its stability. Once completed, you’ll have a sturdy Warmboard system that’s ready for your preferred flooring.
We had the pleasure of working with Simpson Properties Contracting Ltd on their modern home project, and we couldn’t be more impressed with the innovative and new products they utilized to create such a beautiful and comfortable home. It’s clear that Simpson Properties pays attention to detail, and this home is a true testament to their commitment to quality, craftsmanship, and accurate scheduling of trades. As their HVAC contractor, we were honored to be a part of the project and bring our expertise to the table. We also had the opportunity to build a custom mechanical room that included a fuel-efficient boiler mounted on a stunning Picasso mural, which will be discussed in another article. Thank you, Simpson Properties, for allowing us to be a part of your project and for your commitment to excellence!
This article will focus on a Gypsum Overpour application when installing a radiant heating system. All the pictures and videos used here are our own from a project for Will Gonell, with tubing and manifolds installed by Blackrock HVAC, and the overpour installed by Mack Constructions Inc.
WHAT IS GYPSUM OVERPOUR?
Many Toronto homes like this one are removing old cast iron radiators and creating more room by installing/hiding the heat source into the floor. In the case of new construction, the gypsum overpour is already calculated into ceiling heights. Gypsum overpouring can be a cost-effective and efficient way to create a smooth, level surface for finished flooring, especially in situations where the subfloor is uneven. However, it is important to ensure that the subfloor is structurally sound by consulting with your structural engineer, and free of any moisture issues before applying the overpour.
The overpour is usually around 1 1/2 inch thick, and it can be used with a variety of finished flooring materials, including carpet, vinyl, wood, or tile. The gypsum material used is a self-leveling light-weight compound that is mixed and poured onto the prepared subfloor. The gypsum compound is typically fast-setting and can be walked on within 24 hours after application, allowing you to quickly get back to construction.
WHAT ABOUT THE HEATING PIPES?
Before beginning the overpour there’s work to do. Your framer, heating contractor, and gypsum team need to be on the same page. The framer should be installing double bottom plates for all the walls to accommodate for the 1.5″ of gypsum. This allows a 2×4 to still be there for drywall and baseboard installation. Just before our team were scheduled to install the tubing, the team at Mack Constructions Inc did a fantastic job prepping the floor with a plastic sheet and a foam perimeter so the self-leveling compound stays within the area and doesn’t escape through all sorts of cracks. Your heating contractor then needs to install the loops using staples or PEX clips and not leave the site until it’s all pressure tested.
The advantage of using the staple-down method is that it provides a secure and reliable method of installing the radiant heating piping. The staples hold the pipes in place during the pouring of the gypsum overpour, ensuring that the pipes do not shift or move. A common newbie mistake is to not use enough staples. This creates a tripping hazard AND the piping will actually lift and float on top of the overpour causing a headache and panic.
The staple-down method is a common way to install radiant heating piping before pouring gypsum over the top. In this method, the radiant heating pipes are stapled to the subfloor to hold the pipes in place. The radiant heating piping is typically installed in a serpentine pattern, but at Blackrock HVAC we do it better and try to always install them in a reverse-return pattern. Once the pipes are in place, a pressure test is always performed to ensure that the system is free of leaks, and to sound an alarm incase the tubing gets accidentally punctured during the overpour process.
It’s important to note that the use of a plastic slip sheet is not always necessary. On occasion, you will pour on a plastic slip sheet and/or styrofoam insulation, but more often, you’ll pour “bonded,” where a primer is supplied and installed to the existing floor just prior to the pour to enhance the bond between the gypsum concrete and existing structural substrate. The primer also helps to decrease moisture penetration in the existing subfloor. Ultimately, the choice of whether to use a slip sheet or bonded method depends on the specific jobsite conditions and other factors that may be present.
WHAT TO DO IN THE BATHROOMS?
Typically bathrooms take up very little square footage and they don’t require their own heating loop unless it’s a large ensuite. In this project, we ran a bedroom loop inside the one of the smaller bathrooms where your feet would be, and a separate loop for the ensuite. You can skip installing pipes under the vanity since it won’t have a noticeable effect. Wether or not to install it under the shower needs to be discussed with the builder. It depends on their plan for the shower floor, here we skipped both showers.
THE MANIFOLD LOCATIONS
The use of a water manifold allows for precise control of the flow of water to each individual loop of tubing in the radiant heating system. This allows for greater flexibility in controlling the heat output of the system and can help to improve overall efficiency. It is important to ensure that the water manifold is installed correctly and that all connections are properly tightened and secured. That’s all obvious. What isn’t obvious to some are how and where to install them!
Consider hiding the manifold and tubing connections inside a closet to optimize space. Since your mechanical room is likely already crowded with equipment and located far from the upstairs manifold, installing a separate 3/4″ supply and return from the mechanical room can save over 100 feet of 1/2″ tubing. Ideally, have your framer construct one closet wall using 2×6 lumber.
To prevent hot spots near the manifold, it is important to insulate the tubing in the vicinity. While your furry friend may enjoy the warmth, it may not be comfortable for the human occupants of the room. To ensure proper insulation, extend it a few feet away from the manifold and organize the pipes neatly.
Embrace the opportunity to add style to even the most hidden parts of your project! At Blackrock, we believe that attention to detail is key, even when it comes to the interior of a closet wall. In this project, we took a creative approach by painting the plywood black and installing perforated aluminum sheets behind each manifold. The result is a visually stunning effect that adds a touch of sophistication to the home, even in areas that are typically overlooked.
TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL PROJECT
As a company that specializes in installing overpour, Mack Constructions Inc offers their clients essential prep work to ensure a successful project. They provide and install the floor primer and discuss the predetermined heights for features such as staircases, windows, fireplaces, and door heights with the client to avoid confusion. Mack Constructions requests to seal all gaps and holes, which is outlined in their quotes and discussed with the client. However, their team will still ensure that it is done sufficiently to their standards to prevent any leaks to the floor below. During the actual pour, their team checks that the correct mix ratio of sand, gypsum product, and water is used to achieve a consistent and strong mix throughout the entire job. Their goal is to provide a smooth floor surface for every client!
At Blackrock HVAC, we believe that working with other companies that have a proven track record of successful projects makes all the difference when it comes to hiring us. With our experience and expertise, we can easily collaborate and work with other teams towards a common goal!
Three Steps to Maintaining Ductless Mini Splits in the GTA.
Clean or replace air filters. Easily the most important routine step that few actually do. It’s shocking how many people don’t do this. You can also visit the outdoor unit and look around it. Spot dirty spots, dusty coil, or growing weeds or bushes. Keep it clean down there.
Don’t wait until your system breaks down! Schedule regular maintenance with a technician to catch up, give them a bottle of your new wine, and have them spot and potential issues.
With high season in the Greater Toronto Area being June – September, it’s crucial to schedule your maintenance between April and June. Anytime after that you’ll be hunting and paying higher prices for your service visit.
Evaporator: The Indoor Unit
As a condominium property manager or a warehouse maintenance manager in the Toronto area, ensuring the proper heating & cooling is critical for occupant comfort and boss satisfaction. Neglecting routine maintenance can lead to expensive repairs or system replacements real quick, resulting in uncomfortable conditions, potential legal liability, and awkward boardroom conversations. By scheduling ahead using our booking app below, be on top of your deadlines.
Condenser: The Outdoor Unit
Dirt, leaves, and other debris accumulates on the condenser fins, which reduces airflow and often leads to poor cooling. It’s important to regularly clean the unit, either by hosing it down or using a soft-bristle brush to remove debris. Also, decide at what frequency you want to schedule your maintenances. The technician can perform checks that your tools can’t, like testing the refrigerant levels, and inspect the compressor and capacitor to make sure everything is in good working order. At Blackrock HVAC our goal is to perform a maintenance so good that we barely see you for service calls!
At our company, we pride ourselves on being experts in ductless systems. Our team has traveled around the world to places like Japan, India, and Costa Rica, where ductless systems are a common and preferred form of heating and cooling. Not only have we seen them in action in these countries, but we’ve also installed them in our own homes and for countless satisfied customers. So when it comes to ductless systems, you can trust that we have the knowledge and experience to answer your questions and deliver on expectations. Book an appointment for your ductless system using our booking app.
The ability to carry tools and parts inside of our vehicles increases the confidence of our team and improves the chances of getting things done. Speaking for many trades: electrician, painter, carpenter, builder, etc, they maintain a lifestyle of self-reliance and express it through tools, including vehicles. This article begins with a short story, followed by pictures of our Transit XLT and ends with a video filmed somewhere in Ontario.
Shelving, partition wall, roof rack, winter tires, and a back-up camera will make you safe on the road but won’t fix the situation you’ve been sent out to diagnose. “The days of seeing a plumber with his ass crack showing are over”, says Will Gonell of Gonell Homes. Meaning, if you want to be involved with modern construction, you need to be up to date and carry everything you might need that day. Clients have expected professionalism since forever, lets deliver on this.
At Blackrock HVAC we accept this reality so we work on improving the comfort, fun, and functionality of our vans. Our company culture has lots to do with automobiles and engines. If your van or truck is a tool for business then taking care of it is money well spent. Don’t be that guy who drives a creepy rusty old van around town scaring women and children, we’re professionals by trade.