‘Spring’ into Maintenance – Part 1: Life Lessons

23Mar11

“Spring forward, Fall back” – We learned this as kids to help us remember how to change our clocks from standard to Day-light Savings time. Now that I’m in the Plumbing / Heating / Cooling business, I have a new saying this time of year, “Spring Into Maintenance”. I can tell you from experience it’s well worth remembering.

Regular Maintenance on the Mechanical (plumbing, heating, cooling) Systems in our homes and businesses is vital for safe, smooth, economic operation, and to ensure our investment lasts as long as possible. Some regular maintenance is annual, some bi-annual, but all if it is recommended by all Manufacturers, and required by all Manufacturers if your System is still under Warranty; or the Warranty is void.

Many of us have a tough time doing or even ‘embracing’ the importance of regular maintenance because we just don’t know what is needed.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned about education, one way or another – we all have to pay. Either make the investment, or pay for not knowing.  (Either we invest in getting educated and acting on what we learn, or pay for repairs & down-time because we didn’t choose to learn…)

Reminds me of my first car, an older Galaxy 500.  It was in fantastic shape mechanically because my dad had just put a new 289 V-8 engine in it for me, (free!).  I loved that car and drove it thousands of miles the first year and a half.

One day I noticed a little smoke following me down the freeway.  I watched for a few days, and sure enough my new engine was smoking!  I didn’t like talking to Dad about my stuff, but I felt he should ‘stand behind’ the engine he ‘provided’, so I did.

“Hey dad guess what; I just noticed my car is starting to smoke a little… that’s not right is it?” He was lying on the couch almost asleep, but in about two beats his eyes were wide open. “Have you checked the oil?”.

“Oh yeah,”  I said, “it’s a couple quarts low… but it’s not making that ‘clicking’ noise or anything yet; I was gonna put in at least a quart next pay-day.”  Dad slowly sat up, sighed a deep breath while rubbing his face with both hands and then said, “Son, when was the last time you changed the oil?”

“Hmm must have been last December when I got my Christmas Bonus… I just couldn’t afford to pay for the oil and filter ’til then… it cost so much and I had so many bills”.  This was 9 months previous to our little talk.

Dad shook his head, let out a deep, long sigh, and looked at me with that special  disgusted/amazed/intense/ exasperated look I came to perfect years later with my own teens.  “Well son, you have ruined your car ( or engine).  We talked about maintenance.  I told you how often to change your oil, right?  RIGHT!!!!!!??? “

The talk got interesting from there but bottom line, Dad was right. I paid for the new engine this time…and I learned the most valuable lesson of regular maintenance. Doing is FAR less expensive than NOT doing.

While they didn’t raise us, manufacturers still want to help us keep our equipment safe, economical & working well. In most homes & businesses that requires Annual (Spring or Fall) or Bi-annual (Spring and Fall) maintenance on some or all of the following:

  • HWT (Hot Water Tanks), electric, gas or propane.
  • Hydronics for the HWT, if it heats both Domestic Hot Water and Hydronic Hot Water for heating the home with Hydronic Radiation.  (Space Heaters and/or Radiant Floor Heating.)
  • Furnace & its Filters, electric, gas, propane or oil.
  • Heat Pump or Air Conditioner; outside unit, inside Air Handler, Coil.
  • Boiler and all Hydronics Radiation.  (Space Heaters, Radiators and/or Radiant Floor Heating.)
  • Fireplace and/or Stove and Chimney.
  • 

All education comes at a cost… nothing is free.  Tuition for my “Life Lesson” was a V-8 engine. Whether we like to pay in relatively small, budgeted amounts, or all at once due to a big surprise or emergency, the choice is ours!

So… Need a reminder to keep your equipment in tip-top shape? “Spring into Maintenance!”.  If you’re short on time and training, sign up for regular maintenance by a licensed professional. If you like to do-it-yourself, stay tuned.  In “Spring into Maintenance-Part 2”, I’ll give you inspection and maintenance tips for your Hot Water Heaters.

Bruce Davis Sr.

Licensed Journeyman Plumber
Licensed Electrician, HVAC/R
Electrical Administrator, HVAC/R
Certified WA State C.E.U. Instructor

Bruce Davis Sr is President of Day & Nite Plumbing & Heating, a 55-year old family owned and operated plumbing and heating business in Lynnwood, Washington. Contact Bruce at:  Bruce@dayandnite.net

Day & Nite Plumbing & Heating Inc.
16614 13th Ave. W.
Lynnwood, WA 98037
800-972-7000

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