Furnace Maintenance in Vancouver, Langley and Richmond:

September 6, 2011

Just like any piece of equipment, your furnace needs some regular attention and maintenance to keep it running right. And one of the most important parts of the furnace to pay attention to during these service visits is the heating coil.

Without the heating coil, your furnace simply won’t be able to put out heat to keep your house warm. That’s because the combustion in the furnace is used to heat the coil. Air is then blown across the heating coil so that it can be warmed before being circulated throughout the house.

If your heating coil isn’t kept clean, it’s easy to see how you could wind up with all types of problems down the line. And since air is constantly being blown across the coil when the furnace is at work, it’s particularly susceptible to accumulating buildups of debris and sediment.

When this happens, there are several consequences. First of all, your furnace will have a harder time heating your whole house and heating it evenly. As a result, all of the parts of the furnace will have to work overtime to keep your home warm and this can cause them to wear out and break faster. Of course, when that happens, you’ll need professional repairs to get you back on track and you may have to go without heat for some time in the coldest part of the year.

Also, a dirty heating coil won’t be as efficient at transferring heat to the air blowing past, meaning that you’ll be getting less heating power out of the fuel your furnace is consuming to heat your home. Essentially, this will mean your furnace is not functioning at peak energy efficiency and that will certainly be reflected on your monthly heating bills.

But all of this can be avoided by keeping your heating coil clean and in good repair. You will likely need to have a professional take care of this for you and it is a standard part of an annual maintenance visit. While you may have to pay a bit each year for that regular maintenance, you’ll be much better off and save a good deal of money in the long run by having it done and your coil cleaned.

If your furnace is 15-20 years old, it may be a good time replace the furnace with an energy efficient unit which will save money, improve air quality and reduced environmental footprint. With the government rebates available on the federal and provincial side, it would be a great time to give Ashton Service Group a call 604-283-2383

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What is New in Air Conditioning in Vancouver?

August 19, 2011

There are developments being made in air conditioning just about every day. This is a huge business, and so manufacturers are constantly trying to outdo each other as it is their only way to compete for customers. What this means for you as a consumer is that you will always have an excellent selection of products from which to choose.

Energy efficiency is one of the main selling points for any air conditioning system. For that reason, manufacturers are constantly working to come up with new and better models. The most advanced air conditioning systems on the market have energy efficiency ratings that by far surpass what was available even ten years ago and it is only going to keep getting better.

Another type of air conditioning system that is relatively new but is rapidly gaining in popularity is the ductless mini-split system. These and other compact air conditioners are popular because they can be installed virtually anywhere and do not take up much space. They also do not require the duct system that many other central air conditioners do.

In this way, ductless mini-splits combine the best of central air conditioning and more conventional window or wall mounted units. They keep individual rooms of your house cool and comfortable and can be controlled independently of one another, but they are also very quiet and energy efficient. In fact, ductless mini-splits are among some of the most energy efficient options available in the air conditioning world today.

For many years, enjoying the comfort that air conditioning provides has meant putting up with the noise of the compressor as well. Now, however, you can get the best of both worlds. Many air conditioning companies, in response to customer requests, have been working to curtail the noise and vibrations that air conditioners make.

This has affected models all up and down the line. Whether it is a window mounted unit you are after or a large central air conditioning system, you can rest assured that the model you buy today will be much quieter and produce a great deal fewer vibrations than your old system.

This is not only good news for you. It can also help to make your relationship with your neighbors a bit friendlier. The outside component of most air conditioning systems is usually where all the noise and vibrations come from anyway, and so your neighbors are likely to hear and feel it as well.

Contact your local Vancouver Air Conditioning Company at 604-283-2383 for a no obligation quotation.

 

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Who you gonna call?

August 9, 2011

Many small businesses can’t afford their own IT departments, which is where informatics services like Safe Harbour come in.

If you work for a large company and can’t log on to your server, or lose a file and don’t know how to retrieve it, you can always just pick up the phone and call your company’s IT help desk.

But what if your business is too small to justify full-time IT staff? Several years ago, Salmon’s Transfer Ltd. in Richmond reached that critical mass.

“We’re big enough to require somebody that would probably cost us a full IT salary, but we’re small enough that he’d be sitting on his thumbs most of the time,” said Doug Kellough, president of Salmon’s Transfer, which has 70 employees, about 20 of whom work in the company’s office.

The company has three servers and 22 desktops. Kellough and his office manager used to handle the company’s IT issues themselves, but it wasn’t productive.

“We just found that it was either over the heads of our people or it took one person an inordinate time to do it,” Kellough said.

He ended up hiring Dan Stratton, and stayed with him when Stratton founded Safe Harbour Informatics two-and-a-half years ago.

Safe Harbour specializes in IT help for small and medium-sized companies (from five to 50 employees) that can’t afford a full-time IT department of their own.  A typical company employs two full-time IT technicians to service an office with 100 computer terminals, at a cost of about $120,000 per year, Stratton said.

“With us, you’d pay $30,000 to $35,000 per year to do the same maintenance,” Stratton said.

“One of the things we do that is a lot different than our competitors is a proactive-type service. We put software into your computers and your networks that monitors all aspects of it, and quite often we will know before you do when there’s going to be a problem.

“We had a BlackBerry server that went off [recently] at about three in the morning, so we had 30 users that wouldn’t have gotten email in the morning if we weren’t monitoring it. So we had that resolved before 9 a.m. They had no loss in productivity.”

Kellough said the power goes out a lot in the area of Richmond where his office is based, and Safe Harbour can often do reboots remotely before the outage is even noticed.

“They’re open for us 24-7 when we need them,” he said.  Safe Harbour employs six technicians who can manage up to 200 PCs each.

“Smartphones are a huge trend,” Stratton added. “We do a lot of work with smartphones.”

One of the most common problems small companies experience is loss of data that has not been backed up.

“I had one [business owner who] … went to do a restore and couldn’t do the restore so he lost a bunch of history,” Stratton said. “They’re an accounting firm so he was able to put a dollar amount of $17,000 on that.”

One of the products Safe Harbour provides for small business is its Office in a Box: a suite of computer and network products that includes a phone system, file server, firewall-router, email server, wired or wireless networking and automated backup. 

Newspaper Article featured in "Business in Vancouver".

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12 Air Conditioner tips to beat the Heat

August 3, 2011

Tips on making sure your air conditioning unit keeps you cool.

  1. Call a professional: Each central air conditioning unit should be inspected, cleaned and tuned by a professional. A professional air conditioning tune-up typically costs between $100 and $175.
  2. Keep the filter clean: Clean and replace the air conditioner filter frequently (check the filter once a month). This is especially important during the summer when dust and allergens circulate. If the filter becomes clogged, your system will have to work harder to supply the same amount of cool air.
  3. Made in the shade: Air conditioners with proper shading can be more efficient. Air in a shaded space is cooler than the surrounding air, meaning the A/C will have an easier time cooling the air, but keep plants, shrubs, and other landscaping about two to four feet away from your outdoor unit to ensure adequate airflow.
  4. Don’t take the heat: Don’t place lamps, TV sets, or other heat producing appliances near your thermostat. The thermostat senses the heat causing the air conditioner to run longer than necessary.
  5. Dial for dollars: Remember that each degree you dial below 78 increases your energy consumption by about 8 percent. If your monthly electric bill is about $100, you’ll save $8 a month with EACH degree you can stand above 78.
  6. Set and go: If it’s hard to remember to tweak your thermostat before you leave for work, consider investing in a programmable thermostat or a timer for your window unit.
  7. Time to replace? You may find your old air conditioner is no longer efficient. Consider replacing your unit with an energy-efficient model. They’re usually more expensive but thanks to tax credits and competitive prices, the prices are falling, and because they use less energy, you save in the long-run, too. When replacing your A/C, look for a properly sized unit. If you install a unit that is too large, it will cycle on and off – reducing the efficiency of the system. Contact your local Vancouver air conditioning company who will be gladly able to assist with the options available.
  8. Don’t cool the whole neighbourhood: Seal air leaks with caulking and weather-stripping. Add insulation around air conditioning ducts.
  9. Feel the breeze: If your home has ceiling fans, switch your ceiling fan to run counter clockwise in the summer. That will push the cool air down. You can run a ceiling fan half the day for about $1.50 a month, compared to $25 for an air conditioner.
  10. Watch the pavement: Avoid landscaping with lots of rock, cement, or asphalt on the south or west sides of your home. If it’s not shaded it will increase the temperature around the house and radiate heat.
  11. Free from debris: Keep plants, shrubs, and other landscaping about two to four feet away from your outdoor unit to ensure adequate airflow.
  12. Install window film: A great home improvement idea is to install home window film or tint to the insides of your windows. Not only can it help keep your house cooler in the summer, but also warmer in the winter.

 

We hope these tips are helpful in reducing your environmental footprint. Please give us a call at 604-283-2383 for all your air conditioning repairs and installations.

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Regular Plumbing Maintenance Saves Money in The Long Run

Have you ever wondered if there are any seasonal plumbing issues that come up in the spring?

Yes! Spring is a great time to do an annual plumbing maintenance checkup. It is less costly for you to keep things maintained with a regular plumbing check up than to wait until something breaks.

As a member of our Ashton Value Plan your annual checkup is included. Don’t hesitate to give us a call to discuss this or any of your plumbing concerns. We believe in being pro active and strive to be your Vancouver plumbing choice.

For more information on the Ashton Value Plan call 604.283.2383

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Kitchen Drains Can Be Easily Cleared

July 27, 2011

A question we get asked sometimes is…

I think my kitchen drains are partially clogged because the sink drains slowly. What do you recommend?

  • First, try using a plunger
  • Second, you can remove the trap. Be careful if you have used a liquid drain opener because there may be some in the trap
  • Third, if the clog is beyond the trap, there are drain augers that extend from about 15 feet to about 50 feet.

There are also special enzyme based drain openers that will help dissolve buildup in pipes in older homes.

Or if all fails, give us a call at 604.283.2383

Richmond Plumbers

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Richmond Heating Concerns Easily Corrected

July 20, 2011

How can I prepare for hot water heater problems?

Most problems occur when you least expect them.  Many can be solved easily as long as you know which part of the heater is malfunctioning. Water pollutants or sediment hamper the performance of the heater so lower the temperature so the deposit will become soft – 130 degrees works well.

Be sure to check reset buttons for any malfunction and if there is not enough hot water or water is too hot, be sure to adjust the settings. Check your pressure valve too. If the water is dirty or has a smell then empty and clean the tank.  Over the years we’ve found that most problems related to Heating Richmond do need professional attention.

If you feel you need help with your heating system or anything related to plumbing call us for assistance – 604.283.2383

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Richmond Chamber of Commerce – Annual Golf Tournament

July 12, 2011

 

RCC 28TH ANNUAL GOLF TOURNAMENT – SELL OUT SUCCESS – June 29, 2011

The Richmond Chamber of Commerce Golf Tournament draws both corporate foursomes & individual golfers to enjoy an outstanding day at Richmond Golf & Country Club in a “Texas Scramble” format.

Special Guest MC “Jim Hughson, Hockey Night in Canada”

Hole-In-One Opportunity for $10,000 Cash Sponsored by Ashton Service Group.

The sold out event was sponsored by Campbell & Pound Commercial Ltd. (Title sponsor) and Soo Singapore Jerky LTD (Platinum sponsor).  All of the members and guests were treated to lunch and a BBQ banquet. Later that evening, special guest MC “Jim Hughson, Hockey Night in Canada” gave attendees his comments on the last few months of hockey and closed off with an open auction.

 

Partial proceeds from the tournament were dedicated to the Richmond Chamber of Commerce Scholarship program. Since 1994 RCC have donated in excess of $80,000.00 for scholarships and are delighted to be able to continue support such a worthwhile program in the Richmond Community.

 

Newly elected Chair of Richmond Chamber Lisa Wong commented on the success of the day, “I always look forward to this excellent annual event which brings together members of our business and broader community. Resulting in yet another sell out this year, rain or shine, we see our members engaged, making business contact and having a great time”.

 Ashton Service Group is a Proud Sponsor of The Richmond Chamber of Commerce Golf Tournament

June 29, 2011

 

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What You Can Do About Loud Pipes

July 11, 2011

Q: When my washing machine shuts off abruptly, the water supply pipes make a loud banging noise. Is there anything I can do to stop this?

A: Water hammer (the noise you’ve described) occurs because the water in the pipes slams to a stop, causing a shock wave and a hammering noise. It’s not only annoying but also destructive to the pipes.

You can minimize or eliminate water hammer by installing air chambers dead-end pieces of pipe. Most washing machine manufacturers recommend extra-long chambers—up to 24 inches—to provide added cushion for abrupt turnoffs.

If you need help with anything, call us and we’ll take care of it for you… 604.283.2383

Richmond Plumbers at your service

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How Good are Tankless Water Heaters?

July 8, 2011

Tankless Water Heaters – Are they right for you?

Most of us are familiar with hot water tanks that store heated water – tankless water heaters or instantaneous water heaters only heat water on
demand when a hot faucet is opened.

Since a tankless water heater comes on when you open a hot water tap and turns off when you close the faucet, the energy used is only for the hot water that is needed. Because there is no storage tank of water, and no constant heating and reheating of stored water, you are not losing energy heating water when you don’t need it. These energy savings translate to dollar savings for you and reduced impact on our environment.

The advantages are many. Not counting the money savings (operating costs), endless hot water supply (if sized properly), smaller impact on
the environment, space savings, replaceable parts, the unit is made of fully recyclable parts and longevity.  Check out Canada ecoENERGY grants

Call us today to see if a tankless water heater is right for you  –  604.283.2383

 

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