My furnace isn’t getting warm enough in the winter.
Each room in my house is being heated and cooled inconsistently.
My cooling bills increase dramatically in the summer.
My heating bills increase dramatically in the winter.
Looking to cool your garage or extra room? Ductless mini split systems offer great advantages. Want to enjoy your garage year round? Are you looking to save energy on cooling costs? Are you experiencing problems with your ductless system?
Sometimes a home’s master bedroom, bonus room or sunroom doesn’t get as warm or as cool as you want. Other times, heating or cooling that room to the desired temperature sends your total power bill soaring. In those cases, your central-air system could use a boost from one or more of the small, flexible units called ductless mini-split heat pumps.
They are ductless because they don’t require you to install or extend the bulky ductwork used in your main central-air system. They are mini-split because they have their own thermostat serving an individual room, which gives you the convenience and energy savings of heating or cooling just that room instead of the whole house. And like standard heat pumps, ductless systems have an indoor unit – the air handler – and an outside unit – the compressor and condenser.
Do you have more than one problem room? You can have up to eight indoor units installed in different rooms, each with its own thermostat and all connecting to the one outdoor unit.
Think of a ductless system like a light switch in a home, you don’t flip one switch and all of the lights in your home turn on. With a ductless system, it’s like turning on a light in one room.
What to expect during installation
Adding a ductless system to your home starts with having a professional well-trained Design professional determine the correct size and best location for the system, based on the size and other features of the room you want to heat and cool. The units also have sensors that allow them to direct the correct-temperature air at any especially hot or cold part of the room.
The indoor portion of the unit comes in low-profile designs that are less noticeable and much quieter than window air conditioners. LBA recommends installing the units on exterior-facing walls. That’s because instead of traditional ductwork connections, the indoor portion of the unit is connected to the outdoor portion by a conduit. The conduit houses the power cable, the refrigerant tubing and the drain tubing, and it needs only a three-inch hole in the wall to connect the indoor and outdoor units. The conduit also comes in various lengths, so you can place the outdoor unit almost anywhere — close to or farther away from your house – as long as there is a place near the unit to drain condensate water.
The ductless systems run on their own high-voltage electrical current.
It’s simple to maintain ductless systems. LBA recommends maintaining yours by having the unit’s fan cleaned once a year.
Cost and savings
Installation of a ductless mini-split system for a single room averages around $3,800 to $6,500. You can cut that price by taking advantage of rebates offered by Kansas City’s utility company (insert hyperlink in rebate section) or by watching for manufacturers’ promotions. Going forward, the energy savings that come with ductless systems can lower your operating costs by about 25 percent for a one-room system. You also save because the LBA systems come with a 12-year warranty on parts, which is a longer warranty than on conventional systems.
If a ductless system sounds like an energy-saving solution for your rooms that are too hot or too cold, call LBA to have one of our knowledgeable technicians come to your home and help you decide what’s right for your family, lifestyle and budget.
Is your water heater leaking or in need of repair? Or is it time for a new water heater? If your water heater is leaking, be sure to turn off your water main. From gas to electric to tankless water heaters, we repair them all. We’ll also present the options and help you decide what type of water heater is right for your home and your family.
Tankless water heaters
If you run out of hot water before you have finished showering, or if family members or appliances in your household go through lots of hot water, it’s time to consider a tankless water heater. Even if your goal is to conserve as much water and energy as possible, a tankless heater may be the best solution for you and your family too.
What they are, how they work
Tankless water heaters are small units mounted on either a wall or a stand. Like standard hot-water tanks, they connect to water lines that lead to faucets or appliances and to a flue pipe that vents to the outdoors. And like standard tanks, tankless heaters can be powered by electricity or by gas. Tankless unit can use the same gas line that runs to your existing water heater.
Tankless water heater systems differ from the standard systems in several ways. Tankless systems don’t use those tall, bulky tanks that take up space in a basement or utility closet. They don’t store 40 to 50 gallons of hot water, just to wait around the clock for you to turn on a hot-water tap. And they are much more energy efficient, so they don’t lose 30 percent or more of their energy up the flue pipe.
Because tankless systems heat water at time of use, they are also called on-demand heaters. They work like this: When you turn on a hot-water tap, cold water runs through a pipe into the tankless heater. The water is heated at that time, and hot water flows out of the heater, through your faucet or showerhead or into your dishwasher or other appliance. For as long as you need or want hot water, the tankless heater will keep on producing it for you.
Benefits they offer
Tankless water heaters have other benefits beyond convenience. They last 15 to 20 years, compared to standard tanks, which have an average life of nine years. They are designed with components, so if a part gives out, only that part is replaced, not the whole unit. And they have less chance of leaking, because their smaller water lines withstand pressure better than big tanks that are under heavier and more constant water pressure.
When considering a tankless system, be aware that they really aren’t “instant” water heaters. Water will take the same amount of time to travel from the heater to your faucet as it will take to travel from a standard hot-water tank. If you’re expecting “instant” hot water, ask us about installing a hot-water re-circulator. Also consider whether you like a lot of hot water at high pressures or if you tend to use the shower and run the dishwasher at the same time. In these cases, larger tankless heaters or additional heaters can be installed to meet those demands.
What you can expect in costs
LBA makes it easy to upgrade from a standard hot-water tank to a tankless system. Where other contractors will do extensive work in your home to relocate the tank and water lines and get them closer to bathrooms or kitchens, LBA installs your new tankless water heater in a location where your water lines and electric or gas lines already exist – an installation approach that saves you time and money.
The initial cost of installing a tankless water heater system is greater than the cost of installing a tank, but you enjoy the payback from years of lower operating costs. Because tankless systems last roughly twice as long as tanks, the cost of installing one tankless system is comparable to the cost of installing two tanks over time. Operating costs are cut in half: gas-powered tankless systems cost about $200 a year to operate, compared to $400 a year for standard tanks.
Tankless water heaters are easy to maintain. If your home has soft water, you don’t need to worry about maintenance. If your home has hard water, the system should be de-scaled yearly to prevent minerals from plugging up the system.
To enjoy hot water continuously and on demand, and to save energy and money as you run your water heater, talk to LBA to find out more about installing a tankless water heater in your home.
When an aging sewage line breaks or leaks, the unpleasant, sickening smells can pervade your home. Or if clogs or tree roots have blocked your sewer line, you eventually will find the dirty water backing up and overflowing from your toilets, tubs, showers or sinks.
These are sure signs that your sewer line needs to be repaired or replaced. But you’ve probably also heard horror stories of homeowners who have had huge parts of their yards, gardens or paved driveways torn up, endured days without sewer service, and spent well over $10,000 to have the sewer trenches dug and repairs made.
A better alternative
Fortunately, there is an innovative alternative that is less disruptive and less expensive than digging trenches. It’s called trenchless sewer repair, and it starts with lowering a camera into the pipe to identify the specific source of the problem. If the camera shows that any part of a sewer line is broken and needs to be replaced, the whole line probably needs replacement.
Your new line is assembled on site. Instead of digging extensive trenches, LBA digs in just two places – in the basement where the sewer line leaves your home, and at the other end where your line connects with the city’s sewer line. In a process called pipe bursting, we then use a sturdy cable (of the type used in elevators) to pull a solid steel cone through the line. The cone forces the old pipe to break, and we use the cable to pull your new pipe into place.
Advantages in time, money and materials
Trenchless repairs have numerous advantages over traditional sewer repairs. Traditional repairs can take two or three days and cost $10,000 to $12,000, plus another $2,000 to $4,000 to clean up and restore your yard, garden and paved surfaces. Because trenchless repairs take minimal digging, they save time and money. The work can be done in a day and save you thousands. You get your life back to normal more quickly and with less expense.
The new pipes are also made of much stronger high-density polyethylene, or HDPE, and come with a lifetime warranty. The material resists chemicals and repels water, so you don’t have to worry about future cracks or corrosion in your new sewer line.
To find out more about sewer line problems and the best way to fix yours, call LBA. One of our experienced, knowledgeable technicians will come to your home and give you a choice of solutions that best fit your family, lifestyle and budget.
Sump pumps and battery backups
Flooded basements and crawlspaces can be a nightmare. The water soaks into your furniture, appliances and family possessions, which are ruined or take days to dry out. The water also damages any carpeting, wood framing and drywall, creating the wet conditions that dangerous mold, mildew and fungus love to grow in. Flooding not only leaves you with a lot to clean up, but it ultimately weakens the structural integrity of your home.
Flooding often occurs when rainwater or melted snow isn’t carried far enough from your home’s foundation. The water saturates the ground near your home, entering through fissures and cracks and slowly rising inside your basement or crawlspace.
How does a sump pump work?
Sump pumps are installed in a sump hole, or pit, at the lowest level of your basement or crawlspace, and they run on the home’s standard AC current. When water reaches a certain level in the sump hole, the sump pump turns on and pumps the water outside through a pipe leading at least three feet from your home’s foundation. In effect, the pump pushes water away from your house before it has a chance to rise to the level of your basement floor and create flooding.
Many homeowners installing or replacing sump pumps choose one with a battery backup. If a storm is severe enough to cut off your electricity, or if the primary pump gets clogged or has mechanical problems, the primary pump can’t work, and it can’t prevent flooding. Backup pumps are independent units that sit next to the primary pump and run on DC current from a battery, giving you a redundant system and ensuring that the sump pump keeps operating even without electricity. And when the main pump can’t keep up during especially heavy storms, battery backup pumps turn on to provide extra pumping capacity. (Water-supplied backup pumps exist, but LBA advises that they aren’t powerful enough to handle large amounts of water.) A control box tests your backup pump weekly and sounds an alarm to let you know when a power failure or other problem has activated the backup pump.
Who should consider a backup pump?
You should consider a battery backup pump if you live in an area of older homes and if severe storms or heavy snows frequently knock out the power that runs your pump. LBA also recommends backups if your current pump turns on too often, or if you have a finished basement that would be costly to repair or restore after flooding.
A backup pump can be added to an existing pump, but for just a little more money, you can replace the old one and get a battery backup in what are called combination sump pumps. Combination pumps provide both a new primary pump and a backup pump in one compact unit. LBA offers multiple different options in combination pumps, so homeowners can pick the price, quality and warranty that best fit your family, lifestyle and budget. Reconstructing a flooded finished basement and replacing furniture and possessions would cost much more.
How much maintenance do sump pumps need?
Sump pumps last five to seven years, and the batteries for backups last five to eight years. To keep your pumps operating smoothly, it’s important to do regular maintenance of your sump pump. LBA has found everything from children’s toys to construction debris in sump pits, so check regularly to make sure the pit is clear of items that could get sucked into the pump and damage it. Also run a hose or pour water inside the pit regularly to make sure the pump activates when the water rises to higher levels. When you sign up for LBA’s whole house safety and maintenance check, this maintenance is included in our service.
So avoid flooding nightmares. Call LBA to replace a failing pump, to install a combination pump and battery backup, or to inspect and maintain a system that will keep your basement dry and comfortable year round.