Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Why Do Annual Maintenance?

Furnace manufacturers and fuel suppliers (natural gas, propane, oil and electrical) all recommend annual maintenance for your home comfort equipment. Many people wonder if this is really necessary, as equipment will often run for several years trouble free.

There are several important reasons that make annual maintenance a wise choice.


Equipment that is not cleaned regularly and adjusted properly, accumulates dirt and moisture residue. This causes it to use more energy (up to 30% more). Even a small improvement in efficiency will pay for a service call. Homeowners can do some simple tasks themselves. Changing filters on a regular basis, replacing batteries in the thermostat yearly and keeping your outside unit clear of debris and shrubs are jobs that you can do yourself. Modern furnaces are complex, so you do need a licensed technician to 'check under the hood'.


This is of particular concern on gas, propane, oil or wood heating systems. These systems all produce CO gas, which is deadly. A licensed technician will measure CO levels in your home as part of his inspection. Furnace exhaust fumes must be ventilated from your house properly. A cracked heat exchanger on your furnace can be very dangerous. It is now law in Ontario to have a working CO detector in each and every home.


Many new furnaces and air conditioners come with 10 year warranties on parts. All warranties require annual maintenance inspections to keep the warranty valid. Failures on properly maintained equipment are less likely. Parts on older equipment can be quite costly, so you’ll want to keep your warranty in place.

Air Quality

Dirty filters will cause your equipment to run less efficiently. Many new homes are also equipped with air exchangers. New furnaces also rely on outside air for combustion. Many home owners do not really understand how all their equipment works. In addition to heating and cooling your home, your equipment helps improve the home's air quality, which directly affects you and your family's health.

Water Damage

Many people do not realize that modern equipment requires drains that are operating correctly and clean. In the summer your air conditioner produces condensate that drains the entire time its running. High efficiency furnaces also produce condensate in the winter months. Humidifiers also drain water as they run. Plugged drains on your furnace can produce as much damage as any other leaking water source.

Equipment Life and Reliability

Just like your car, properly maintained home comfort equipment will last longer and be more reliable. Equipment will often fail when it’s under the most stress. Failures will occur on some of the coldest or hottest days of the year (and not usually Mon-Fri between 8-5!). These are also the days that contractors are the busiest, so they cannot always get to your home immediately.

The Hayter Group employs only licensed technicians to visit your home and inspect your equipment. We often receive testimonial letters about the professionalism of our staff. We offer annual maintenance programs for our valued clients at reduced rates and no after hour’s charges. You don’t have to remember to call us every year and we’ll provide you with an affordable price for quality annual maintenance.

Chad Hayter

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Geothermal Heating Pays Off for Local Chicken Farm

In 2006, The Hayter Group was approached by a Lambton County, Ontario chicken farm looking to double the size of their operation. They were operating a 32,000 square foot barn that was heated by a radiant in-floor system and natural gas fired boilers.

In Canada, the chicken you are serving for dinner was likely raised on a family farm. Chicks are shipped in large plastic trays, about 100 at a time. They arrive at a chicken barn and are placed on the concrete floor of the barn, which has been prepared with fresh bedding of clean shavings or straw.

Chicken barns are warmed up to almost 90°F when the chicks first arrive. Food and water is delivered through special bins that are within easy reach of the chicks. The barn is kept very warm for about a week. The barn temperature is then lowered by 2° to 3° per week as the birds begin to grow. Larger birds give off their own heat and start warming up the barn themselves.

As the chicks grow, the special feeding bins are raised higher for easy access. Chicks are able to roam freely throughout the barn. The feed is adjusted as the birds grow to be optimal for their development. Once the chickens are ready for market, the barn is completely cleaned and fresh bedding is put down for the next flock.

Chicken Barn Feeding System

The Lambton County farmer felt that he already had the best possible heating solution when he approached us about his expansion plans. The radiant heating system heats up the concrete slab, right where the chicks are. He was able to keep barn temperatures lower, because there was no need to heat the air above the chicks. The natural gas boilers were able to deliver the peak heat required for the first week and then could be adjusted downwards as the chicks grew.

The Hayter Group suggested a solution that had never been tried before. It made economic sense to use a geothermal system to heat the new barn. The system would require a larger up front investment, that would pay off over time in energy savings.

To produce 5 units of heat, a geothermal unit requires 1 unit of electrical input and 4 units from the earth (essentially free energy). The system would cost far less to run than paying to fuel a natural gas boiler.

The new geothermal system would heat both the existing barn and the new barn. We estimated that the geothermal system could provide 97% of the heat needed for the two barns. The existing boiler was integrated into the system to provide extra heat for the short period of time when the chicks are first introduced to their new home.

The installation was far larger than a typical residential geothermal system. Four WaterFurnace units were required along with two 120 gallon holding tanks. A 14,400 foot, 3/4” pipe loop was installed under existing farmland. The ground above the loop is still being used for crops.

This installation has attracted quite a bit of industry attention. In 2007, the farm owner received the Innovative Farmer of the Year Award. The operation also received The Premier’s Award of Agri-Food Excellence.

Eden Energy Equipment distributes WaterFurnace products in Ontario. They are featuring a case study of this installation on their web site. Farm journals from as far away as Africa have reported on the installation. Geothermal heating is now being used in all types of livestock operations around the world.

WaterFurnace Logo

The Hayter Group is currently one of Ontario’s largest geothermal dealers. We’ve developed several innovative green energy strategies, including geothermal and solar, that are paying off for our agri-business customers. Many farming operations are large volume businesses running on low operating margins. Controlling inputs like energy costs is an area where The Hayter Group can contribute to the success of our rural customers.

The Hayter Group

Chad Hayter

Friday, 19 December 2014

Maintaining Floor Drains

Most homeowners would not realize that basement floor drains are critical for their heating and cooling equipment. They are also there to protect your investment if unexpected water enters into your basement.

Modern furnaces and air conditioners all have condensate drain lines. They require a properly operating floor drain to take away this moisture. You can hear water dripping from your air conditioner when it’s running. Many people do not realize that modern high efficiency furnaces also have condensate lines producing moisture during the heating season. Modern by-pass style furnace humidifiers also have a drain line that goes into your floor drain. These units can run quite a bit of water into the drain when they are operating.

A slow running floor drain in the basement is more than a nuisance. If you have a pipe break, or a washing machine hose burst, you’ll need a floor drain that gets rid of all the water quickly. This will give you time to correct the problem without a lot of damage to your basement.

Floor drains can block up for any number of reasons. It could just be accumulated sediments. It could be tree roots. The drain line may have even broken open and be blocked by soil.

Professional plumbing contractors now use video equipment to diagnose floor drain problems. A small video camera is pushed through the drain line with a flexible cable that connects to a monitor. The unit has a light, so that the camera can get a good view of obstructions. The operator can see exactly what is blocking the line. He can even download copies of images and video that the homeowner can view on their home computer.

If the line is blocked by sediment or tree roots, specialty augers can be employed to clear the line quickly. These augers have a cutting blade at their head. The operator can adjust the speed that the auger runs at, depending on what has to be cleared in the line.

If the drain line or sewer is broken, it normally needs to be dug out to repair it. The video equipment also can be equipped with a locator feature. This way, the contractor knows exactly where to dig. This saves the homeowner time and money. It also minimizes disruption to the property.

Homeowners also should be aware of unusual smells coming from basement drains. This can be caused by a leaking trap, blocked lines or improper venting of your plumbing.

A simple solution can be to pour some water into the floor drain. The trap is designed to keep smells coming back into the home. If the drain is dry, there is nothing to block odors from the line. Normally if you look into the floor drain with a flashlight, you’ll always see some water. If the water all runs away, you may have a leak in the trap.

A previous owner of your house may have done some D.I.Y. plumbing or hired an unlicensed handyman. This is often the reason that professional plumbers find improper venting. If you have a sink or tub that always drains slowly or makes a lot of noise when draining, this could be the cause.

The Hayter Group has the industry’s best video inspection equipment and augers for clearing obstructed drain pipes or sewer lines. Video inspection equipment enables us to diagnose the problem quickly. Once the problem is properly diagnosed, we have the equipment to clear lines quickly and efficiently. In the end, dealing with properly equipped licensed tradesmen will save you money. The job is done as quickly as possible and it’s done correctly.

The Hayter Group provides drain and sewer video inspections in Kent County, Western Middlesex County, Western Elgin County and Lambton County from our locations in Alvinston, Ontario and Chatham, Ontario. Call us anytime for emergency plumbing service.

Chad Hayter

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Do You Need to Humidify Your Home?

The advantages and reasons for using a humidifier in the winter months are not always obvious to homeowners. Maintaining proper humidity levels benefits your health, your comfort, your home’s efficiency and your investment.

In Southwestern Ontario, we get a lot of cold damp days in the winter. Even on damp days, when you heat the air in your home, humidity levels drop. Warm air expands and relative humidity drops. If you wake up in the winter with dry eyes and nose, it’s because the relative humidity in your home is too low.

Health Benefits

Humidity allows the tiny hairs in your nose to move and do a better job of filtering out bacteria and viruses. Proper humidity can actually lower the chance of getting a cold or the flu.

We all know that if we have a cold, a humidifier helps us breath easier and soothes the throat. Humidity also has a major impact on skin conditions like eczema. Dry air also dries out your skin which can cause itchy scaly rashes. Proper hydration and humidity can also lessen snoring.

Comfort and Efficiency

Indoor air in winter, can have humidity levels at around 10% without a humidifier. The ideal winter humidity level for your home is between 30% and 40%.

Increasing humidity in the air will make your home feel warmer. Air that is 70°F and 10% humidity will feel like 67°F. Air that is 70°F with 50% humidity feels like 69°F.

After you have installed a humidifier, you will find that you can keep your thermostat at a lower setting while maintaining comfort. Keeping your thermostat just a degree lower will add up to a lot of energy savings over the winter.

If you pet your cat or dog in the winter, you can get a static electricity shock if the air is too dry. Other signs of static electricity are unruly hair and socks stuck to shirts. Any of these nuisance shocks will be eliminated by proper humidification.

Protecting Your Investment

Static electricity can be an expensive problem as well. Static electricity in your home can damage sensitive electrical equipment like computers.

Wood furniture does not do well in a dry home. Joints on chairs that are glued can shrink and come loose, causing a creaky chair. Cabinet doors can get out of alignment or warp if your house is too dry.

If you’ve installed a hardwood floor, the manufacturer will have humidity recommendations. A dry home will cause gaps between the boards to grow. Flooring manufacturers will not honor warranties if you have not maintained proper humidity levels.

Tropical plants are also susceptible to low humidity. Leaves may get brown at the tips or die off completely. The health of your plants is an indication of the health of your home’s air.

Types of Humidifiers

Whole home humidifiers are installed on your furnace. There are three common types of furnace humidifiers.

Steam humidifiers use less water than other types. 100% of the water used is converted to humidity. Steam humidifiers are also the healthiest choice. They don’t have moisture filled pads that can be a place for bacteria to grown. Maintenance is simple, just clean it annually. A steam humidifier actually cleans itself during the heating season.

Bypass humidifiers are quite simple and trouble free. Water runs over a pad. The moisture evaporates into the air as your furnace fan blows over the pad. These types of humidifiers can deliver a lot of moisture into the air. The drawback is that they waste a certain amount of water. They have a drain pipe that needs to be kept clean.

Drum humidifiers are more common in older homes. A pad wrapped around a rotating drum soaks up water from a tray. Moisture is evaporated into the air, much like a bypass humidifier. Drum humidifiers have more moving parts and are more likely to fail. They require annual cleaning and pad changes.

The Hayter Group sells and services Honeywell Whole Home Steam and Bypass Humidifiers. New humidifiers are often installed with new furnaces. We’ll also service your existing humidifier, when we service your furnace. If you don’t have a humidifier or need one replaced, we are happy to meet with you to make sure that you get the model that will best fit your needs.

Chad Hayter

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

What is Zuba Central?

It’s a revolutionary new alternative for heating and cooling your home.

Many people are aware that if you want to improve on the performance of a high-efficiency natural gas furnace, you can go to a geothermal heat pump. Geothermal systems are the most energy efficient way to heat and cool your home.

Geothermal however is not for everyone, as the costs can be high with vertical installations and of course the disruption to your property.

Mitsubishi Electric has developed new leading edge technology that’s changing the heating and cooling equation. Zuba-Central is a system that can heat and cool your home. Heating costs in a typical South-Western Ontario home are 28% lower than a mid-efficiency natural gas furnace and 60% less than electric, oil or propane heat! The bonus is you also get cooling at a fraction of the cost of conventional air conditioning systems.

The Zuba-Central system is perfect for existing homes with a forced air furnace. The system is made up of two major components. There is an air handling system that replaces your existing furnace. There is also an outdoor unit that looks much like an oversized air conditioning unit.

The air handling equipment is connected to the outdoor unit with refrigerant lines, just like a conventional air conditioning system.

A heating and cooling system’s performance can be represented by its Coefficient of Performance (COP). COP is a standardized measurement of how much energy you get from every unit of energy input.

There are 3 types of gas furnaces: low-, mid- or high-efficiency. Older low-efficiency gas furnaces that are chimney vented have a COP between .6 and .75. Mid-efficiency gas furnaces generally have a COP from 0.78 to 0.82. High-efficiency gas furnaces achieve a COP range of 0.89 to 0.95. Most oil furnaces are generally in the 0.70 to 0.84 range.

A COP of .8 means that 80% of the fuel that you are buying is being converted to heat. The other 20% is going up the chimney.

Electric heat is actually more efficient than gas or oil. Electric baseboard heaters have a COP of 1. There is no wasted energy. The reason they are so expensive to heat with, is the high cost of electricity.

Zuba-Central has a COP ranging from 1.4 to 3.19. Zuba-Central is able to achieve these amazing COP ratings because it not only converts 100% of all electrical energy into heat, but it also absorbs outdoor heat energy, which is essentially free.

Zuba-Central is a heat pump with two key components: the compressor and the refrigerant. The system absorbs heat energy from outside and transfers that energy indoors via refrigerant which is moved throughout the system by the high efficiency compressor. And the higher the outdoor temperatures rise, the more efficient the system becomes.

In our area, most winter nights will be between 0°C and -10°C and your Zuba-Central system will be very efficient. The lower COP range on the Zuba-Central will occur on colder -20°C nights. Unlike more traditional heat pumps, a Zuba-Central will still draw heat from the outdoor air at frigid -30°C temperatures.

The Zuba-Central outdoor unit measures 13" (33 cm) x 37" (950 cm) x 53" (1350 cm). This is smaller than a traditional Air Conditioner. The indoor Air Handling Unit is smaller than a gas furnace, and fits right onto your existing ductwork.

You may not even realize your Zuba-Central system is working. The unit runs at noise levels of 52db(A), far less than the 80db(A) of most air conditioning units. Zuba-Central will run as quiet as a light rainfall.

The Zuba-Central system uses ozone-friendly R-410A refrigerant which produces no CFCs or HCFCs, and has zero Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP). Since Zuba-Central is energy-efficient and it’s capacity varies according to demand, it is actually more environmentally friendly than traditional air conditioners and gas or oil furnaces.

Zuba-Central provides both heating and cooling within the same system. It requires less maintenance than having an air conditioner and a furnace. Zuba-Central is electrically operated, therefore it has no ignition-related problems.

The compressor in a Zuba-Central system features a unique soft-start function, which draws only a small amount of power at start-up. This eliminates light flickering and surges.

Zuba-Central’s outdoor unit weights 267 lbs. Because it is so slim and compact, the unit is easy to handle and may also be wall-mounted to save outdoor space.

The Hayter Group is one of Southern Ontario’s largest geothermal contractors. The company also has expertise in high-efficiency gas, propane, wood and oil furnaces. There is not a single solution that works for every customer. Zuba-Central gives us another environmentally friendly cost efficient offering for our urban and rural customers.

Chad Hayter

Thursday, 30 October 2014

microFIT Solar Power Rates for 2015

The Ontario Power Authority (OPA) has announced rates it will pay for power from homeowners who install solar panels in 2015.

The provincial government has a program to encourage the development of solar power. The program for homeowners wishing to install panels on their roof is called microFIT. FIT stands for Feed-In-Tariff, which just means the rate the utility will pay for power produced for the grid.

The microFIT program is for FIT projects that are under 10kW. The program is specifically designed for homeowners. A 10kW system is made up of 40 solar panels on a home’s roof. Most residential solar panel installations are between 5kW and 10kW.

The OPA is required to review the prices offered on an annual basis to ensure both ratepayer value and a fair return on investment. The rate for 2015 is 38.4¢ per kWh.

The new rate is 3% less than the 2014 rate. Rates paid for solar power have declined steadily since the program was first introduced.

As the market for solar power has increased across North America, equipment costs have declined. The government has designed the program to provide a fair rate of return for homeowners investing in solar equipment.

Solar Panel systems that are 5 - 10 kW in size are surprisingly affordable. Full installation costs are in the range of a new car. Banks are willing to finance the systems because of the guaranteed government contracts. Financing costs are below the revenue a system will produce. A 10 kW system will generate over $90,000 in revenue and produce an ROI of 10-13%.

Homeowners that install solar panels continue to pay the utility 7.5¢ to 13.5¢ per kWh for the hydro they use (depending on time of use). They sell the power their solar panels produce back into the grid for 38.4¢ per kWh for the next 20 years.

The government is willing to pay a premium price for solar power for several reasons. Solar Power production peaks on the hottest sunny days in the summer, just when air conditioners cause peak demand to occur. The alternative to solar power during these peak times is more power plants and more transmission lines. This is a very expensive proposition just to supply power at peak demand times. Solar Power is produced without emissions, so we have cleaner air. Solar Power is used locally (in your neighborhood), so it does not require extra infrastructure spending.

The microFIT program is set up so everybody wins. There has been an increasing number of homeowners wanting to take advantage of this investment opportunity and at the same time make a valuable contribution to the environment.

Before you can proceed with solar panels, there is an approval process. Most homeowners in urban areas can obtain approval. There are some rural areas that cannot accommodate more solar projects. Reputable contractors like The Hayter Group help homeowners with the approval process with no out-of-pocket costs.

In 2015 the OPA will be looking to add as much as 70MW in residential solar projects to the grid. This is made up of a 50MW annual target, plus some carry-forward from the previous year.

The general rule of thumb is that 1MW will power 1,000 homes. The province will be adding enough solar power projects in 2015 to power a small city. There will also be an opportunity for 1,000’s of homeowners to make a great investment and at the same time make a substantial contribution to the environment.

Chad Hayter, The Hayter Group

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Heating the Workshop

Take a drive around South-Western Ontario to see the fall colours and you’ll also notice a lot of new buildings going up. Farmers are investing in their operations, building new barns, workshops and drive sheds.

The increase in propane costs has lead to a lot of questions about how to heat these buildings more efficiently. The choices available for most rural operations are propane, electric, oil, geothermal and wood.

It might surprise people to see wood as one of the choices. We have a company right here in Ontario that is manufacturing wood hybrid furnaces. The name of the company is Napoleon (you many know them for their barbeques) and they have a modern plant in Barrie, Ontario.

A wood hybrid furnace combines wood with a backup fuel source of either oil, electric, natural gas or propane. If you are away for a few days, or run out of wood on a cold night, the backup fuel source kicks in automatically.

Many farms have large wood lots, that always have lots of dead trees. People like to burn wood. It’s more labour intensive, but avoids large fuel bills in the winter when money is not always coming in.

The new Napoleon wood hybrid furnaces are highly efficient. The natural gas or propane furnace they are paired with run at 96% efficiency. Wood efficiency is more difficult to measure, because it varies with the type and quality of the firewood.

A consideration before installing a wood hybrid furnace is that it will require a long-term commitment. Studies have shown that after 3 years, the average Canadian finds they don’t have the time or inclination to continue cutting firewood.

The best way to deliver heat to a workshop is through in-floor tubes. The best time to install these is when you pour the floor for your new shop. In-floor heating is inexpensive to install during construction of a new shop. It leaves you with all sorts of options for what fuel to heat the shop with.

In-floor heating is more comfortable in a workshop. Shops normally have high ceilings. The heat is delivered at the floor, where it is needed. You feel more comfortable at lower temperature settings with in-floor heating. That also saves you on fuel costs.

Boilers can use wood, propane, natural gas, oil or almost any combination you decide. You can also install a geothermal system.

Geothermal systems are the most expensive to install, but the most cost-efficient to run over the life of the equipment. Geothermal is also the most environmentally friendly choice. Geothermal systems can use in-floor tubing or forced air duct work.

Revenue Canada helps soften the blow of installing geothermal with accelerated depreciation schedules. You can write-off 79% of the entire system in three years, and all within 5 years.

The Hayter Group specializes in rural service and installations. Over 75% of the company’s business comes from rural customers. We are well established to service our rural clients from three locations (Chatham, Alvinston and Cambridge).