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FAQ’s & Helpful Tips

Common Questions & Answers about Air Conditioners

What is the average lifespan of a central air conditioner?
The average lifespan of a central air conditioning system is 10-15 years.
What does the term "SEER rating" refer to?
The efficiency of central air conditioners is rated according to their Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). The SEER rating is the BTU of cooling output during a typical cooling season divided by the total electric energy input in watt-hours during the same period. The higher the SEER rating of a unit, the more energy efficient it is. Many older systems have SEER ratings of 6 or less. The minimum SEER allowed today is 13. Installing a system with a high SEER rating will save you money and reduce your energy usage.
Why is bigger not necessarily better?
If your air conditioner is not properly sized to fit your home, your comfort will suffer. A unit that is too large will fail to de-humidify the air. A unit that is too small will not be able to cool your home to the desired level. It is important to find the right system for your space. Our technicians can help you determine your perfect fit.
Will my new air conditioner be noisy?
No.  TMI offers residential heating and air conditioning units that are the quietest air conditioners on the market today.
What happens to my old air conditioner?
The refrigerant in the old system will be reclaimed and the old air conditioner will be removed.
Will my new air conditioner control the humidity in my home in the summer?
The only way to control humidity is to have a properly sized air conditioner, the comfort consultant from TMI will make sure the system is sized correctly to control both humidity and temperature.
How often do I have to service my air conditioner?
We recommend you have your air conditioner serviced every year to ensure optimal energy efficiency and smooth operation and to prevent costly repairs that may come from running your unit when it has not been serviced properly. TMI offers great maintenance plans that make sure you never miss a tune up again!
Is Freon being phased out?
Yes, R-22 freon, is ozone depleting refrigerant that is used in older air conditioning equipment. The United States EPA is phasing it out and recommends using a safer alternative known as 410A in the new equipment.  https://www.epa.gov/ods-phaseout
If I buy a new furnace or air conditioner do I qualify for a rebate?
Check with your local utility provider about current rebates they are offering. TMI is a Mid-American Trade Ally and HVAC SAVE certified.


https://www.midamericanenergy.com/ia-res-heating-cooling-water-heating.aspx https://www.alliantenergy.com/WaysToSave/Rebates/RebateLocatorTool

Common Questions & Answers about Furnaces & Heating

What should I do if the pilot flame goes out?
  • Check your gas furnace filter. Is it clean and when did you change it last? 50% of service calls (and associated charges) can easily be avoided by properly maintaining your furnace filter. Call TMI today to order filters of any size. 563-355-8686
  • Check to see if your Energy Star rated programmable thermostat has a battery back-up. Are they dead and when did you last change them? Some thermostats have a battery back-up even though they are wired to the electrical in the home. Some will have a warning sign that the batteries are going and some just stop working properly or all together. Check your owner’s manual for details on how to change the batteries.
  • Make sure that the breaker/fuse (in the main electrical box) for the furnace and air conditioner are in the on position if it is a breaker or not in need of replacing if it is a fuse.
  • Check the troubleshooting guide for your particular model furnace, in the homeowner’s manual. There are always good tips in there as well.
  • CALL A LICENSED HEATING, VENTILATION AND AIR CONDITIONING COMPANY to have an educated technician out to diagnose the issue.

ALWAYS REMEMBER that all furnaces and air conditioners can be dangerous, they are connected to electrical and/or gas and could result in injury. Never have an unlicensed person attempt to repair these pieces of equipment.

What is a ductless heating and cooling system?
Traditional heating and cooling systems rely on ductwork to deliver airflow throughout the home. Ductless systems use an outdoor unit and one or more indoor units to provide heating and cooling directly to different zones. Utility rebates may apply, see your local utility provider.
What if I do not have a standing pilot furnace?
Most new model gas furnaces do not have a continuously burning pilot flame (standing pilot), which wastes valuable energy and may cost you money. Your furnace may use an automatic, hot surface igniter to light the burners each time the thermostat starts your furnace. Follow these important safeguards if this applies to your system: Read and follow the operating instructions in the owner’s manual for your furnace or on the main furnace door. Never attempt to light the burners with a match or other source of flame. If a suspected malfunction occurs with your gas control system, such as the burners not lighting when they should, refer to the shutdown procedures in the owner’s manual or on the main furnace door. A qualified service technician should check your system to verify that it is working properly.
Why High-Efficiency Furnaces Are A Must in the Midwest
The Midwest is one of the coldest areas of the country. With fuel prices going up every year, a high-efficiency furnace is the best way to keep heating costs down, now and into the future. Replacing an older, inefficient furnace with an energy saving furnace stretches your budget and increases your home’s value.
Keeping Your Furnace Room Clean and Safe
While regular professional furnace check-ups and furnace cleanings are very important steps in keeping your furnace trouble-free and operating efficiently, there are chores you need to handle on your own, for the same reason. Keeping the area near your furnace clean and free of flammable materials is your responsibility. It will help prolong the life of your furnace and eliminate fire risks.
Replacing An Octopus Gravity Furnace
Many older homes are still using antiquated gravity (Octopus) furnaces. These antiques operate at less than 50% efficiency, even if they’ve been converted to natural gas. They also lower property values and contain harmful asbestos. Replacing such an old system is a must as high fuel prices drive up the cost of home heating. TMI has extensive experience replacing these units.  Call for a FREE estimate.


Can I install a high-efficiency furnace in my 80-100 year old home?
Yes. The older the home, the greater the urgency to upgrade your heating system.
Do you offer financing?
Yes. In addition to accepting Visa, Discover, American Express and Master Card, we also offer financing assistance.
Do I need to pull a permit?
TMI is licensed, bonded and insured, and provides mechanical permits on all of its installations. The work is inspected by city inspectors when the job is complete. This gives you confidence that the job was done correctly and safely.

Common Questions & Answers Boilers

Do you work on boiler systems?
Yes, we do! TMI has trained technicians to service and repair your boiler system.
Why should I consider replacing my boiler?
Sometimes maintaining and repairing an old boiler isn’t as cost effective as replacing it with a new model. The efficiency has increased over the past 20 years, which means lower operation costs. Over time the parts for a boiler can become obsolete and replacement might be a better option.

Common Questions & Answers about Plumbing

What makes my plumbing and drain pipes rattle?
This problem is usually caused by the water lines not being properly isolated. It can be easily fixed but only if your water lines are easily accessible. It means that either in one or many places your water lines come into contact with the wood of your floor joists. All you need to do is get plastic pipe hangers that go between your water lines and your joists. For help installing them please contact TMI.
What causes my hot water to smell like rotten eggs? My cold water doesn't smell, what is the solution for this problem?
The most common cause of “smelly water” is a non-toxic sulfate reducing bacteria, scientifically termed Divibrio Sulfurcans. This bacteria often enters the water system through construction or a break in ground piping. The bacteria creates the energy it needs to survive by converting sulfate (SO4) to hydrogen sulfide (H2S) gas you smell in the water. Hydrogen sulfide gas is distinctive because of its rotten egg-like stench. Its presence can severely affect the taste as well as the odor of the water.


The simplest treatment available is the shock-chlorination of the system. This is a surface treatment, and often requires repeated trials in heavily infected systems. The chlorination of a system requires that you follow each step explicitly to avoid an un-treated portion of the piping system from reinfecting another part. Longer lasting solutions include chlorination or aeration of the water supply.

How do you get water in the toilet tank to stop over flowing?
The fill valve in the tank may have a leak in it. Also, if the fill valve has been replaced recently it is possible that it has been set too high. If the fill valve is old, it could do you no harm to replace it. Sometimes the shaft or wire that is used to set the level corrodes off. By replacing it, your problem should be fixed.
Why does my water heater not work as well as it used to?
This is usually due to a sediment buildup in your tank. As water heaters grow older, they accumulate sediment and lime deposits. If these deposits are not removed periodically, the sediment will create a barrier between the burner and the water, greatly reducing the water heater’s performance level. The result is an increase in the amount of fuel required to deliver hot water.
Why would a water heater run out of hot water faster than normal?
If your water heater is running cold easily or frequently then several things could be happening. First check the shower head volume if showers are too quick. A new shower head puts out about 2.5 gallons a minute. Some older heads put out 5 gallons a minute. Working with the shower head would double shower length in this case. In some cases, the dip tube on the cold water inlet has broken or worn. When this happens, it creates a short loop for the water, water at the bottom half of the tank will not be used, which makes half of your tank useless. Call TMI to get it fixed as soon as possible.


On electric water heaters, they commonly have two heating elements that work in turns. First the top element heats up the top of the tank, then power goes to the lower element. If the lower element is out, only the top of the tank gets heated. If the top element isn’t working, there will be no hot water. Sometimes the Reset button needs to be pushed or reset. If this doesn’t get the element working, use a continuity tester to determine if the element has shorted out. Replacement of the element may be needed.

How do I know if I have a broken water line outside my house?
A broken water line out in the yard may include an excessively high water bill, puddles in your yard or the sound of running water when no faucets or appliances are using water. TMI can pinpoint the problem without needless trial and error destruction of working pipes. In many cases we can fix the problem right away and save you money.
How can you replace sewer pipes without digging up my landscaping?
TMI is the ONLY company in the area to offer Trenchless Sewer Drain Line Replacement. It used to be that a plumbing crew would have to spend days tearing up a yard from the house to the street to replace a sewer line. Now, with our Video Camera technology we can easily locate the problem and stop the leaks with a new pipe. The best part is it is possible to do this with minimal digging and complete the project in only one day. TMI is the only authorized dealer in the Quad Cities to use Nu Flow technology to repair broken sewer pipes without digging.


Get the Greatest Benefit from Your Programmable Thermostat
  • Keep the thermostat set at energy-saving temperatures for long periods of time, such as during the day when no one is home and at bedtime.
  • Resist the urge to override the pre-programmed settings. Every time you do, you use more energy and may end up paying more on your energy bill.
  • Use a programmable thermostat for each zone of your house if you have multiple heating and cooling zones. This will help you maximize comfort, convenience, and energy savings throughout the house.
  • Change your batteries each year if your programmable thermostat runs on batteries. Some units will indicate when batteries must be changed.
  • If you have a heat pump, you may require a special programmable thermostat to maximize your energy savings year-round. Talk to your retailer or contractor for details before selecting your thermostat.
  • If you have a manual thermostat, you can adjust the temperatures daily before you leave the house and when you go to sleep at night. Typically, adjusting temperatures 5 – 8 degrees (down in winter, up in summer) can help save energy if you are going to be away from home for several hours.
What's the most common mistake people make in trying to save energy around the house?
  • Letting the furnace or air conditioner salesperson sell them a unit that’s much bigger than they need.
  • Not getting the ducts checked for leakage when installing a new heating and cooling system.
  • Thinking that “since heat rises, we only need to insulate the attic.” Floors over a basement or crawlspace, walls and windows also matter.
  • Not using ceiling and portable fans to improve comfort in the cooling season. They use very little electricity. Use them to circulate air in the house, to make the house feel cooler by doing this, the thermostat setting for your air conditioner can be raised to 85°F, and still maintain the same comfort as the lower setting.
What's the single biggest user of electricity in my house?
If your house has central air conditioning, the air conditioner will probably be the biggest user by far. Although used only a few months of the year, the annual cost can be much greater than the annual cost of your refrigerator, which is typically the next largest user. In hot climates, the annual air conditioner cost can exceed a thousand dollars. You can get a very rough idea of what your air conditioner is costing you by subtracting the electric portion of your bill in a spring month when you aren’t using your air conditioner from the electric portion of the bill in the summer when you do use it. This gives you the monthly cost. Multiply this by the number of months you use your air conditioner to arrive at your approximate annual cost.

Refrigerators are typically the largest users in houses without air conditioning or in climates where the air conditioners are used only a few days of the month during the cooling season. If your refrigerator is more than ten years old should consider replacing it. New efficiency standards went into effect in 1992, and older refrigerators are typically two to three times more expensive to run than a new unit. For more information go directly to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s list of most efficient refrigerator-freezers.

Indoor Air Quality Concerns
All of us face a variety of risks to our health as we go about our day-to-day lives. Driving in cars, flying in planes, engaging in recreational activities, and being exposed to environmental pollutants all pose varying degrees of risk. Some risks are simply unavoidable. Some we choose to accept because to do otherwise would restrict our ability to lead our lives the way we want. And some are risks we might decide to avoid if we had the opportunity to make informed choices. Indoor air pollution is one risk that you can do something about.

In the last several years, a growing body of scientific evidence has indicated that the air within homes and other buildings can be more seriously polluted than the outdoor air in even the largest and most industrialized cities. Other research indicates that people spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors. Thus, for many people, the risks to health may be greater due to exposure to air pollution indoors than outdoors.

In addition, people who may be exposed to indoor air pollutants for the longest periods of time are often those most susceptible to the effects of indoor air pollution. Such groups include the young, the elderly, and the chronically ill, especially those suffering from respiratory or cardiovascular disease.

Air Cleaners
There are many types and sizes of air cleaners on the market, ranging from relatively inexpensive table-top models to sophisticated and expensive whole-house systems. Some air cleaners are highly effective at particle removal, while others, including most table-top models, are much less so. Air cleaners are generally not designed to remove gaseous pollutants.

The effectiveness of an air cleaner depends on how well it collects pollutants from indoor air (expressed as a percentage efficiency rate) and how much air it draws through the cleaning or filtering element (expressed in cubic feet per minute). A very efficient collector with a low air-circulation rate will not be effective, nor will a cleaner with a high air-circulation rate but a less efficient collector. The long-term performance of any air cleaner depends on maintaining it according to the manufacturer’s directions.

Another important factor in determining the effectiveness of an air cleaner is the strength of the pollutant source. Table-top air cleaners, in particular, may not remove satisfactory amounts of pollutants from strong nearby sources. People with a sensitivity to particular sources may find that air cleaners are helpful only in conjunction with concerted efforts to remove the source.

Over the past few years, there has been some publicity suggesting that houseplants have been shown to reduce levels of some chemicals in laboratory experiments. There is currently no evidence, however, that a reasonable number of houseplants remove significant quantities of pollutants in homes and offices. Indoor houseplants should not be over-watered because overly damp soil may promote the growth of microorganisms which can affect allergic individuals.

At present, EPA does not recommend using air cleaners to reduce levels of radon and its decay products. The effectiveness of these devices is uncertain because they only partially remove the radon decay products and do not diminish the amount of radon entering the home. EPA plans to do additional research on whether air cleaners are, or could become, a reliable means of reducing the health risk from radon. EPA’s booklet, Residential Air-Cleaning Devices, provides further information on air-cleaning devices to reduce indoor air pollutants.

What Causes Indoor Air Problems?
According to the EPA Indoor Pollution sources that release gases or particles into the air are the primary cause of indoor air quality problems in homes. Inadequate ventilation can increase indoor pollutant levels by not bringing in enough outdoor air to dilute emissions from indoor sources and by not carrying indoor air pollutants out of the home. High temperature and humidity levels can also increase concentrations of some pollutants.
Pollutant Sources
There are many sources of indoor air pollution in any home. These include combustion sources such as oil, gas, kerosene, coal, wood, and tobacco products; building materials and furnishings as diverse as deteriorated, asbestos-containing insulation, wet or damp carpet, and cabinetry or furniture made of certain pressed wood products; products for household cleaning and maintenance, personal care, or hobbies; central heating and cooling systems and humidification devices; and outdoor sources such as radon, pesticides, and outdoor air pollution.

The relative importance of any single source depends on how much of a given pollutant it emits and how hazardous those emissions are. In some cases, factors such as how old the source is and whether it is properly maintained are significant. For example, an improperly adjusted gas stove can emit significantly more carbon monoxide than one that is properly adjusted.

Some sources, such as building materials, furnishings, and household products like air fresheners, release pollutants more or less continuously. Other sources, related to activities carried out in the home, release pollutants intermittently. These include smoking, the use of unvented or malfunctioning stoves, furnaces, or space heaters, the use of solvents in cleaning and hobby activities, the use of paint strippers in redecorating activities, and the use of cleaning products and pesticides in housekeeping. High pollutant concentrations can remain in the air for long periods after some of these activities.

Amount of Ventilation
If too little outdoor air enters a home, pollutants can accumulate to levels that can pose health and comfort problems. Unless they are built with special mechanical means of ventilation, homes that are designed and constructed to minimize the amount of outdoor air that can “leak” into and out of the home may have higher pollutant levels than other homes. However, because some weather conditions can drastically reduce the amount of outdoor air that enters a home, pollutants can build up even in homes that are normally considered “leaky”.

24 Hour Emergency Service

If you have a plumbing, heating or air conditioning emergency, know that when you call TMI you will talk to a live person who will locate the closest available technician to respond to your emergency quickly. Our technicians are cell phone dispatched and have their fully stocked service vehicles standing by to quickly respond to your needs 24/7. Call us today for your emergency needs: 1-800-383-2813.

TMI – Total Maintenance, Inc. Serving Illinois & Iowa

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Since 1973, TMI has been a reliable source providing solutions for heating, air conditioning, plumbing and appliance related services in Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois. We are committed to delivering honest and exceptional customer service. Thank you for your business and the opportunity to work with you!

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