Written by Ashlee Juneau   |   Posted on   |   925 views

How much do you know about your home’s mechanical system?

Every home has a system of mechanical appliances that run systems like heating and cooling, electrical and plumbing and they’re important for you to make yourself familiar with them.

While these systems can differ from home to home, it’s important that you acquaint yourself with each one, and learn some of the basic maintenance that you’ll need to do as the homeowner.

Taking care of each of these systems will help ensure that your home remains efficient, safe and in good condition for many years to come. So let’s take a look at these various systems in more detail:

  1. Heating and Cooling
  2. Plumbing
  3. Electrical

Cooling Systems

Not every house has a cooling system built into it. Some of us have to rely on fans, window air conditioners, and cold showers to keep cool on a hot day. But if you’re lucky enough to have air conditioning, these are the most common types:


Central air conditionerCentral air conditioning is the popular choice among home owners. Your central air conditioning unit is usually located outside—along the side or back of your home.

The grills on the side of the unit filter the air from large debris while it sucks in fresh air through the system (pulled by the fan on top) which is cooled by a refrigerant.

Then this cold air is distributed throughout your home by the air ducts in your walls.

Maintenance Tip:  It’s important to keep the side grills of this exterior unit free of leaves and debris, so that it can pull in fresh air easily. Make sure to have your unit inspected regularly to ensure there are no refrigerant leaks.


Example of a heat pumpBelieve it or not, the units that heat your home in the winter can also be used to cool your home in the summer.

A heat pump uses evaporator and condenser coils filled with a refrigerant. As air gets pulled into your system and passes over those coils, the air cools down and is pumped through your home’s duct system, cooling your home.

Maintenance Tip: You should regularly check all ducts, filters, the blower, and the indoor coil for dirt and other obstructions to keep this running smoothly.


Whether your water is supplied municipally (through the water provided from the city) or through a well on your property, you may have some of the following plumbing systems in your home:


Water heater tankOne of the most common forms of heating water is the tank system. It looks like a large round cylinder in your home that is heated either by natural gas or electricity.

These tanks keep a large amount of the water hot and disperse it throughout the home as needed.

But be careful! If you use too much all at once, you could be waiting a while for the water to heat up again as it refills the tank.

Many people choose to rent their water heater from a local provider for a monthly fee just in case there should be any leaks or problems that arise. If so, their tank will be fixed or replaced at no additional cost.

If you own the water heater and you encounter any problems, it will be up to you to pay for any repair fees.

Maintenance Tip:  You can control the temperature of your hot water, usually through a dial on the the side of it. If you have small children, set the temperature lower to save on energy costs and avoid any heat scalding.


Tankless water heater hung on a wallA more energy efficient way of getting hot water is with a tankless system. This only heats water as you need it, as opposed to holding and maintaining a tank full of water at all times.

The downside is that it sometimes takes a little longer for you to heat up your shower, because the water needs to pass through the heating coils before it’s warm enough. But the energy savings can make this method quite attractive to homeowners.

Maintenance Tip: Your tankless system should be flushed at least once a year to clean out any buildup of minerals. Also, there is an air filtration system that will need to be periodically cleaned.


Water softener and filtration systemDepending on where you live, the water your home uses could have more minerals in it than you’d like. Things like iron, rust, calcium and more can also sometimes lead to a buildup in your waterlines—not to mention they could add deposits on your dishes, showers and sinks.

A water softener takes this “hard” water and uses salt to neutralize these deposits. Together with a full-home filtration system, you will notice your hair lathers with less shampoo in the shower, and your dishes will look less foggy or dusty.

Maintenance Tip: You will need to keep your water softener stocked with special softener salt and any filters in the system will need to be replaced regularly. This will reduce build-up and damage to your plumbing lines and fixtures.


The most common (and safest) type of wiring in your home is insulated copper wire. Older homes should be cautious of older wiring (like knob & tube). A licensed electrician should be able to tell you what you’ve got and how you should maintain it.


Electrical breaker panelYour home may have a breaker panel (usually in the basement of a house) where a series of switches or “breakers” are wire-connected to various circuits throughout the home.

If there is a surge or electrical short along one of these circuits it will trip the breaker and cause them automatically shut-off until the issue is resolved.

Be cautious not to overload your breaker panel too. If you’re adding additional circuits for any larger energy using items (e.g. a hot tub, stove, etc.) you may need to ask an electrician to add an additional panel to balance out the load of these circuits.

Maintenance Tip:  Having a list of what each circuit does is so handy! If you know which breaker controls which part of your home, you’ll be able to easily figure out what is tripping the breaker and causing the flow of electricity to stop.


Electrical fuse panelOlder houses may have a fuse panel. They work similarly to a breaker panel but instead of switches that can be flipped back on, they contain a series of round fuses that screw in to each circuit.

If there is a surge or electrical short along one of the circuits the fuse will “blow” and it will need to be replaced. There are various fuses of differing amperages so it’s important that your electrician ensures the right amperage of fuse is used along each circuit.

Maintenance Tip:  Keep a variety of different fuses on hand. If a fuse gets blown out you won’t have to make a trip to the hardware store for a replacement.

*All information provided by the Brantford Regional Real Estate Association (BRREA) and ITSO for the highest sales volume and highest number of completed transactions since January 1, 2015. All Brantford MLS® House Listings come from the various systems operated by Real Estate Boards and Associations across Canada. The trademarks REALTOR®, REALTORS® and the REALTOR® logo are controlled by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify real estate professionals who are members of CREA. Used underlicense. The trademarks MLS®, Multiple Listing Service®, and the associated logos are owned by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify the quality of services provided by real estate professionals who are members of CREA. Used under license.



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