How to Tell if Your Hot Water Tank is Leaking

January 13, 2016

hot water tank

Is The Hot Water Tank Leaking?

You look into your mechanical room/basement or closet and notice there is water on the ground by your hot water tank. Your first reaction may be that the hot water tank has a leak somewhere but that is not always the case.  Sometimes the hot water tank and the surrounding pipes form condensation (water vapour in the air turns to liquid water) that can accumulate until it falls onto the floor.

The first time you see some water under or around the hot water tank, wipe it up and try to see if you can determine where the water came from. Closely inspect the hot water tank and its fittings/connections for signs of water leaking.  If you cannot source the origin of where the water is leaking from, lay down a cloth or paper towel over the area where the water was and check in every couple of hours to see if the water returns.  If the water reappears and you cannot identify any other sources where the water is coming from than the hot water tank is likely the culprit.

First thing to do when you determine your hot water tank is leaking is turn off the power supply. If you have an electric water heater this is especially important as electricity and water don’t mix.  If you have a natural gas hot water tank, there should be an on/off switch and turn the switch off. Avoid turning of the gas shut off valve as they are susceptible to wear and tear.

However if the hot water tank is leaking significantly, turn off the water supply at the cold water shut off valve that is locate above the water heater. The valve will either have a handle that you pull down or one where you turn it clockwise to close. Shutting the water off should slow down or temporary stop the water from leaking. If you don’t know where the leak is coming from, leave the water supply on as it will help in locating the leak.

Finding the Location of the Hot Water Tank Leak

There are a number of things that can cause a hot water tank to leak so performing a quick inspection to find the source is best before calling a professional plumber for  to solve the issue.

First check the cold water inlet and the hot water outlet connections. This is where the inlet and outlet pipes connect to the hot water tank at the top of the unit. If this is where the leak is coming from the repair may be no more than tightening a loose connection with a pipe wrench.

Next look at the temperature and pressure relief valve. All hot water tanks have a temperature and pressure relief valve located on the side of the tank with a pipe running down to the floor. This valve is there in case the water is heated too much, or there is too much pressure in the tank, the valve will let water out of the tank to relieve the pressure. Inspect the area where it enters the tank, on the side of the water tank near the top to see that it is watertight.

Check the valve too. If this is the source of the leak, then water will be flowing down the pipe attached to it when the valve is in the closed position. This either means the valve is defective, or it is working properly and there is excess pressure inside the tank that is forcing it to open. A leak from here is usually repairable but you may need to call a professional if you do not know what to do.

Inspect the drain valve that can be found near the bottom of the tank. Make sure that it closes (and is closed) completely, and that its point of entry into the tank is watertight. A leak from here is not a major concern and is repairable.

Lastly check the bottom of the hot water tank. The tank is wrapped inside insulation and is enclosed in an outer skin and any leak in it will not be visible from the outside. If your hot water tank has an internal leak, water will likely escape from the bottom of the tank. Most hot water tank leaks are from the tank itself and are due to age and wear. The only solution is to replace the hot water tank.

Hot water tanks usually have a life span of 8-12 years that depends on a variety of factors such as severity of local weather, tank design, quality of installation and the level of maintenance the hot water tank has received.

If you need a licensed plumber to repair/replace your leaking hot water tank, please give Ashton Service Group a call at 604-283-2383.

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5 More Tips to Keep the Warmth Inside Your Home

January 4, 2016


Last week we posted 5 tips to keep your home warm and we would like to share 5 more tips to keep the warmth inside.

1. Insulate hot water pipes.

Wrap the external hot water pipes with simple insulating tape which will reduce the heat loss from the hot water tank to the taps. This will also reduce the energy needed to get your hot water. You can buy insulating tape from your local hardware store.

2. Reflect heat with your radiators.

Put aluminum foil on the back of the radiator. This will reflect heat back into the room instead of having it float up to the ceiling. There is special reflective radiator foil, but the kitchen kind will work as well. You can also put up a shelf or table over the radiator ( don’t put anything directly on it). This traps the heat and let it spread more evenly through the room.

3. Reverse the ceiling fans.

Many ceiling fans have a “winter” setting, which reverses the fan so that it moves clockwise vs. counter-clockwise. Since heat rises, the clockwise-spinning fan will push the heat back down into your rooms versus being trapped up at the ceilings. This tip is especially recommended if your home has high or sloped ceilings. Test it out on a low speed, and see if it warms the room. No harm no foul if it doesn’t do the trick for you.

4. Move furniture away from vents. You may have moved furniture in front of heating vents when you moved in or rearranged the furniture. Go through the house and double check that your vents are not blocked. Find a way to arrange your furniture so every room is getting its maximum heat.

The larger the home is, the more expensive it is to heat. If you have any empty/rarely used rooms or storage space, close the door and seal it with a double draft seal. You won’t waste money heating a room you don’t use. Fill in the gap between your door and the floor with an insulating draftstopper.

5. Use heavy curtains for your windows.

Up to 40 per cent of the heat escaping from your home in the winter is from uncovered windows. Using heavy, lined curtains which go below the window frame will insulate your windows and help keep the warmth in. Draw your curtains/blinds once the sun sets to trap the heat that has come in during the day.

We at Ashton hope you will spend the holidays all warm and toasty. If your furnace/boiler or heat pump is acting up, please call us at 604-283-2383 for service. We have people on call 24/7.

Have a Happy and Safe New Year!

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Ashton Service Group Year in Review

December 31, 2015


Ashton Service Group is very appreciative of everyone who called us for the first time and to our long-time customers. It means a lot to trust us to take care of your home or business’ heating, air conditioning or gas problems. We can say that 2015 has been a great year for both our commercial and residential divisions with both departments seeing growth. Thank you to our clients and our staff for making this happen.

The heat wave that we had in the middle of the year which seems so long ago now generated a lot of interest in installing ductless splits and heat pumps as people wanted to have an air conditioner at home so they could stay cool and be able to sleep through the night. Our technicians got trained and lots of experience on installing air conditioners this summer.

We can expect to see more people calling in wanting to install air conditioners and on demand/tankless hot water heaters in the new year. People are wanting to stay cool and use as much hot water as they want when they need it. Technological advances in air conditioners and tankless hot water heaters are making the systems more user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing.

Ashton Service Group is investing in more training for their staff in the new year to continue to offer better customer service and product and service knowledge for their customers. Ashton wants to continue to be a “one call solves it all” company and are looking into adding trenchless water pipe replacement to the range of services they provide. Let us know if there is a need in the market and we will invest in the training and equipment to be able to provide this to our customers.

Ashton Service Group cannot wait to see what 2016 will hold and while our office will be closed at 1 pm on New Year’s Eve and on New Year’s Day, you can always call us for emergency service as we have technicians on call 24/7 at 604-283-2383.

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5 Tips to Keep Your Home Warm This Winter

December 30, 2015

warm house

The chilly weather is returning to Metro Vancouver this week and the next. We like to return home to a warm and toasty home after a day out. Here a some simple things you can do to keep the warmth inside your home and keep the cool air out.

1. Keep warm by closing doors. If you spend a lot of time in some rooms, close the doors to create a sauna like atmosphere. Leave the door closed at night, let the heat run like normal, and as there are not many gaps for heat to escape, so the room is warm in the morning.

2. Close doors to rooms that you don’t use. If you use this method remember to make sure you close the vents in those rooms. This lowers the heated square footage, and the warm air will spread quicker and easier through the house.

3. Utilize space/portable heaters. Portable heaters are great for keeping individual rooms warm. The danger is that they are a high-risk fire hazard and account for one-third of all heating-related house fires in the winter. Remember to keep any flammable material three feet away from the heater, and make sure it is on an even and stable surface. Never leave space heaters on overnight or when you leave the home. Also it’s a good idea to use space heaters that shut off automatically if they tip get knocked over.

4. Use the oven. Baking, and broiling things will keep your house/kitchen warmer. After you are finished with the oven, leave the door open and let the warm air drift into your other rooms.

5. Add layers to your wood floors. Uninsulated wood floors can account for up to 10% of a home’s heat loss. Carpets and rugs keep rooms warm. They are better at trapping heat than the wood floors. Add a rug or roll of carpet to your floor in the winter, and you’ll notice a difference in the level of warmth.

We at Ashton hope you will spend your holidays toasty and warm. If your furnace/boiler or heat pump is acting up, please call us at 604-283-2383 for service. We have people on call 24/7.

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Smoke Alarm Maintenance Tips

November 4, 2015

People have hopefully adjusted to Daylight Savings Time from this past Sunday and the commute the first couple of days have been smooth.  While modern technology is smart and has made it such that we don’t need to turn back the clocks in our home, you should change the batteries in your smoke alarms.

Fire departments recommend you change the batteries in your smoke alarms when you change the clocks, which ensures that they get checked at least twice a year. Most fatal fires occur in homes that do not have a working smoke alarm. Smoke detectors are life-saving devices and having a working smoke alarm increases your chance of survival from a fire.

It may seem like a hassle to have to get a ladder or chair to change the batteries but it’s better to deal with it now than wait until the telltale beeping of a dying battery and you find out you have run out of batteries and now need to go to the store to buy them.

You can minimize your family’s risk of fire-related injury or death by installing a smoke alarm outside each bedroom and sleeping area on each level of your home including the basement, and by keeping them all in good working order.

It is very important that you read and follow every step of the manufacturer’s directions when you install your new smoke detectors.

Test your smoke detectors every month to make sure that they are working properly by pushing the test button.

Never paint the smoke alarms and make sure to clean the dust from them.

Change the batteries as often as recommended by the manufacturer (at least twice a year).

Replace any smoke alarms that are more than ten years old.

Make sure you and your family have an escape plan in case of a real fire and that your review it every year.

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Your Furnace’s Pilot Light Goes Out

October 28, 2015

pilot light

The pilot light on a gas furnace can go out because of drafts. Most natural gas appliances with pilot lights are designed to shut off automatically if the pilot goes out.

To locate your furnace’s pilot light assembly follow the below directions.

On some gas furnaces and heaters, a plug-type door covers the pilot light assembly. To access the pilot burner, pull the door out of the furnace housing. On other units, remove the panel that covers the pilot light and gas burners.

The pilot light controls, reset buttons, gas valves and thermocouple are usually contained in an assembly at the front of the furnace. The furnace limit switch is located on the main chamber or main duct junction on the upper housing of the furnace.

To relight the pilot, follow the manufacturer’s instructions exactly; they’re usually fastened to the furnace. If instructions for relighting the pilot are not provided, follow this general procedure:

Step 1: Find pilot light assembly. It typically has a gas valve with On, Off and Pilot settings on it.

Step 2: Turn the valve to the OFF position and a couple minutes.

Step 3: Switch valve to PILOT setting. Hold a lit match to the pilot opening while you push the reset button on the pilot control panel. Keep this button pressed until the pilot flame burns brightly, then set the valve to the ON position.

Step 4: If the pilot flame won’t stay lit, the opening may be clogged. Turn the gas valve OFF and clean the opening with piece of fine wire. If it won’t stay lit after several attempts, you may have a faulty thermocouple and if you are not comfortable, please call a professional heating contractor like Ashton Service Group to take it from there .

Newer models of gas furnaces have an electrical system to ignite the gas and do not have a standing pilot light. Check your owner’s manual for instructions.

Instead, an electric element heats up and ignites the burners. If this electric ignition system malfunctions, call a professional gas contractor.

Ashton Service Group has TECA certified technicians who have been trained specifically in residential heating, ventilating and cooling industry. We are also a licensed gas contractor and are listed on Fortis BC’s website.

If you have any questions or need assistance with your furnace or heating system in the Vancouver area, please call us at 604-283-2383 to schedule an appointment.

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How You Can Tell if a Furnace is Energy Efficient?

October 23, 2015

vancouver furnaces

The best kind of furnace not only keeps your home warm, but should also be energy efficient. A good furnace is dependable, quiet and reduces frequent service calls and costs.

How efficient your furnace is based on how much energy the furnace uses to keep you home warm and how much the furnace loses or wastes heat. Some furnaces lose heat though the walls of the furnace cabinet, thus is not as efficient.  Furnace pilot lights can be a source of waste since it is constantly burning. Electric ignition furnaces eliminate the need for a pilot light, this feature can sometimes give up to 6% high efficiency.  Understanding the rating for how efficient your furnace is easy. For example, a 95.7 efficiency furnace means that for every $1 dollar spent on energy, 95.7 % is turned into heat for heating your home, while the remaining is lost. Thus, the higher the efficiency number, the more efficient your furnace.

A high efficiency furnace generally costs more. However, this difference can quickly be made up by reducing energy costs.

EnerGuide labeling is a requirement of Canada’s Energy Efficiency Regulations which set minimum energy performance standards for specified products and equipment. The Regulations stipulate whether the label is mandatory, how it should be displayed and what elements it must contain.

EnerGuide for heating and cooling equipment

The EnerGuide label provides that model’s AFUE/SEER rating, EE rating or FE rating, and a scale for similar models.

EnerGuide labels for heating and cooling equipment (except for room air conditioners) are administered by The Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI) in all provinces except Quebec.

Choosing a furnace can be a daunting task with so many manufacturers and brands on the market today. Finding the right furnace for your Vancouver area home involves expert knowledge from highly trained heating technicians. In order to find the right furnace for your home, we’ll sit down with you to go over your needs and expectations. Call us today for a free quotation and consultation today at 604-283-2383.

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Is It Time for a New Furnace?

September 28, 2015

York Furnaces Vancouver

A furnace typically lasts between 8-12 years  depending on how well you have maintained  your furnace. There are some repairs and heating inspections you can do to extend the life expectancy of your furnace  The amount you spend on replacing some parts every year can add up quite easily and there are other factors that you may want to consider if it is time to replace your furnace.

Increased Energy Bills

If your energy bill is rising every month and it certainly isn’t because of the cold weather that Metro Vancouver is experiencing or Fortis BC has decided to increase their rates yet again- it may be because your furnace is not operating efficiently anymore.  Your heating system’s engine may no longer have the ability to provide the warmth like it used to.  You can check for possible filter issues- if the filter is plugged and the air can no longer pass through and you replaced the filter but there is no improvement.

Heating Inconsistencies

Another sign that you need a furnace replacement is the heating differences you get from the different rooms in your home.  If your furnace is used to equally distribute warmth in all rooms but some rooms are colder than others, your furnace might be having some issues.  It is highly recommended that you call in a licensed heating contractor to do a check up to determine what is causing the heating differences.

Noisy Furnace

Your heating system’s cycling on and off is one thing, but having clanking sounds coming from your furnace is another thing.  The noise can come from the expansion and contraction of the pipes or it can also come from the unit itself.  When your heating system acts up and gives out noises that are out of the ordinary, you can do a simple cleaning to remove  particles that may have built up.  However, if the noise is coming from a well-worn motor, it is best to have your furnace checked out by a professional to diagnose and provide their recommendations.

Excessive Dust and Soot

A  sign of issues with your furnace system is when dust and soot is exhausted out.  Although this can indicate a dust build up and only requires some cleaning, it can also reveal something a little more serious like issues with the ignition or burning chamber.

Rust Around Heating System

A little bit of rust on your furnace isn’t too big of a deal, but too much oxidation around your heating system can be an issue.  The rust can eventually corrode the important parts of your HVAC system including the heat exchanger.  If rust has already made its way into your heating system, it will not only cause more problems with your furnace but it can also spread air pollutants within your home.  The rust in your furnace is a sign of poor ventilation, humidity conditions, or excessive water temperature.  All these issues have to be addressed before a new furnace is installed to avoid the same problems in the future.

We realize a new furnace is a large investment you make for your home. But the heating system in your home is like the lungs of a person. The furnace circulates the heat and air that everyone inside the home breathes and lives in. It is an expensive purchase but if you make sure everything is done by a licensed professional and is properly serviced and maintained your new furnace will last you many years.

You can check with your local gas utility company to help find a licensed and registered heating company and contractor. You can schedule a free in home consultation with us to provide you with a free estimate/quote on a new furnace. Please call 604-283-2383 to schedule an appointment today.

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Maintenance Tune-Up Season

September 15, 2015

Summer is slowly leaving Metro Vancouver and fall is moving in. Ashton Service Group is getting ready for the phone calls of people’s furnace, boiler or heat pump not working or heating their home once the temperatures dip a bit lower in the evening.

We recommend to our customers to get a fall maintenance inspection/tune-up before the cold sets in and late August/early September is the best time to schedule this service in to avoid any delays and to get the best appointment slots available.

A typical maintenance inspection includes:

    1. Checking thermostat settings are working properly to ensure the cooling and heating are set at comfortable temperatures as well as saves your home energy while you are out.
    2. Make sure all the electrical connections are tight and measure the voltage and current on motors. Faulty electrical connections can cause unsafe operation of your system and reduce the life of major components meaning extra repair costs.
    3. Lubricate all moving parts. This reduces the amount of friction in motors and reduce the amount of electricity it uses.
    4. Check controls of the system to ensure proper and safe operation. Check the starting cycle of the equipment to make sure the system starts,
    5. Check all gas connections, gas pressure, burner combustion and heat exchanger. Improperly operating gas connections are a safety and fire hazard. A dirty burner or cracked heat exchanger causes improper burner operation and can release dangerous gases into the home if not addressed.
    6. Inspect, clean, or change air filters once a month in your  furnace, and/or heat pump. We can show you how to do this as a dirty filter can increase energy costs and damage your equipment, leading to repairs.

Ashton Service Group has a 20+ point inspection checklist to ensure that your heating system in thoroughly inspected and is being properly maintained.

Please give us a call today at 604-283-2383 to schedule your maintenance today.

P.S. If you have your furnace or boiler serviced before September 30th, Fortis BC will credit you $25 in your account.

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Metro Vancouver Level 3 Water Restrictions

July 21, 2015

Starting today July 21st 2015, Metro Vancouver has raised its water restrictions to Level 3.

What level 3 means to everyone:

– No lawn sprinkling.

– No new residential or commercial permits issued or renewed. All forms of watering using treated drinking water are prohibited. New lawns, cemetery lawns, ornamental lawns belonging to municipal buildings, and grassed boulevards will not be exempt.

– No refilling of pools, spas or garden ponds.

– No public or commercial water fountains and features.

– Private and commercial outdoor surface washing is permitted only for health and safety purposes or to prepare a surface for painting or similar treatment. Washing for aesthetic purposes is prohibited.

– Commercial pressure washing  is permitted only for health and safety purposes or to prepare a surface for painting or similar treatment. Washing for aesthetic purposes is prohibited. No private pressure washing.

– No washing of vehicles and boats, except for safety reasons, (windows, lights, licenses) and only then if using a spring-loaded shutoff nozzle. This includes residential, commercial, institutional and government vehicles.

– Golf courses may water greens and tee areas minimally; fairways may not be watered.

– Artificial turf and outdoor tracks may be hosed down for health and safety reasons only.

– Minimal watering of school yards and sports fields to maintain areas in useable condition.

– Watering of flowers and vegetable gardens, decorative planters, trees and shrubs are allowed but only if done by hand using a spring-loaded shut-off nozzle, or using containers or drip irrigation. Use of sprinklers or soaker hoses is prohibited.

– Watering of commercial flowers and vegetable gardens is still allowed.

– Public water parks and pools will be operated by user-activated switches.

Metro Vancouver municipalities will have more by-law workers out to enforce these new water restrictions and those who are caught will face fines up to $250.

Ashton Service Group is committed to conserving water and we will not be washing our vans/trucks except for the windshields and lights for driver safety.

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