GENERAL INFORMATION FAQ
Q: Where are you located, and where do you work?
FJ MURPHY & SON, INC. is located in west-central Illinois at 1800 Factory Avenue, Springfield, Illinois 62702-2820. Springfield is about 190 miles southwest of Chicago, and 98 miles northeast of St. Louis along I-55. We are also located approximately 180 miles west of Indianapolis. While we're focused on Springfield and central Illinois, we provide some of our services throughout the rest of the state, and in portions of Missouri, Iowa and Indiana.
Q: What are your business hours?
Our regular business hours are Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM. Emergency services are always available for regular and select customers 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, by calling our main phone number at (217) 528-4081.
Q: What sort of guarantee do you give on your work?
It depends on the type of job you require. Our minimum guarantee on new construction is for one year. This applies to all materials and workmanship on the product we install. We outline our guarantees in initial discussions, so you know from the outset what you are getting. Additionally, at the completion of the project, a formal, written guarantee is provided. Our repair service has a conditional guarantee on the workmanship, and various manufacturer guarantees on most repair parts.
Q. Are you legally licensed and if so, by whom?
We are licensed as follows:
Corporate Registration # F 2084-268-7 – IL Secretary of State, Corporations Div.
Plumbing Contractor License # 055-014-054 – IL Dept. of Public Health
Fire Sprinkler Contractor License # 26 – IL State Fire Marshall
Mechanical Contractor License – City of Springfield
IDHR Registration # 99657-00 – Illinois Dept. of Human Resources
Numerous other licenses and registrations in states of IA, IL, IN, and MO counties, cities, and municipalities, as required.
Q. What kind of insurance do you carry?
In addition to employee health, pension, and life coverages that benefit our employees and their families, when you hire us the insurance coverage we provide for your peace-of-mind takes on a variety of risks, and is comprised of different policy types:
General Liability, Auto, and Workers Compensation policies are carried by legitimate contractors and are necessary to protect you if an incident occurs that’s related to the work being done for you.
Umbrella/Excess Liability is an optional separate policy that we carry in the unlikely event that a claim exceeds the high limits of the other policies. Not all contractors have this.
Fidelity bonding is a separate policy that is additional coverage for both of us in the unlikely event a dishonest act is committed by our employees when working for you. We have never had this occur, and we have never filed a claim on a Fidelity policy. We attribute this to our careful vetting and background checks on our employees. Again, very few businesses in our industry have this type of extra coverage to protect their customers.
License bonding requires separate insurance policies that businesses such as ours must furnish to various government entities in order for us to obtain licenses to operate.
The next type of insurance we carry is Performance and Payment Bond. It is project-specific and for the amount of our contract and guarantees that others will complete your job at no additional cost to you should the company falter for any reason before the job is done. Like Fidelity bonding, F. J. Murphy & Son, Inc. has never left a job uncompleted and there was never a claim filed on any of our Performance and Payment Bonds.
Q. Do you have upper limits on your Performance and Payment Bonds?
F. J. Murphy’s Performance and Payment Bonding level is $11,000,000.00 for a single project, and $28,500,000.00 aggregate.
Q. How about lower limits?
There really is no lower limit. We will furnish Performance and Payment Bonds for any size project(s) up to the levels shown above.
Q. Are you pre-qualified with any companies or agencies?
We are pre-qualified with the IL Capital Development Board (CDB oversees all construction and capital improvements for state properties) for all types of work we perform. F. J. Murphy & Son, Inc. is also pre-qualified with the University of Illinois for work at all three U of I Campuses in the state, and we are pre-qualified with the Board of Regents for our work at other IL colleges and universities. Further, we are pre-qualified with numerous other state agencies as well as a number of private sector Fortune 500 and local companies and institutions. This pre-qualification and vetting process allows any of them to hire us immediately with a comforting degree of confidence based on our know-how, reputation, experience, financial ability, and past performance.
Q. Is F. J. Murphy active in community affairs?
We are members of the Chamber of Commerce and the Capital Area Independent Business Alliance (CAIBA). We also support Hoogland Center for the Arts in Springfield. Based on our positive business activities in the communities we serve, we are proud the Better Business Bureau (BBB) has automatically assigned us their highest rating of A+ (although BBB accreditation and membership has actually never been requested by us).
Further, we are longtime supporters of the Salvation Army, Goodwill, Helping Hands Homeless Shelter, Boy and Girl Scouts, and many other civic and religious organizations, schools, and charities in various communities where we work. We try to do our small part to “give back to the community”.
Q. How do you stay informed about laws and regulations?
When we work for you, we want to be certain that all codes and regulations are being followed. This is for your health and safety as well as our reputation. By virtue of our active membership and meeting attendance in different trade and industry associations, we stay abreast of the latest rules and trends in the services we perform. Some of these organizations are:
Plumbing Heating and Cooling Contractors Association of America (PHCC)
Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA)
National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
IL Mechanical & Specialty Contractors Association (IMSCA)
National Fire Sprinkler Association (NFSA)
St. Louis Fire Sprinkler Alliance (SLFSA)
Northern IL Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board (NIFSAB)
Iowa Fire Sprinkler Contractors Association (IFSCA)
Mechanical Service Contractors of America (MSCA)
U. S. Occupational Safety and Health Agency (OSHA)
Q. Do you provide training for your employees, or do you advertise “No Experience Necessary” when looking for new staff?
Individuals do not work here unless they have had formal training. Some of our competitors simply hire unknown individuals with little training, hand them the keys to a truck and send them to you hoping they can do the work. Unlike such "disasters waiting to happen", our entire staff is highly trained, monitored, and tested vigorously, both in the classroom, and on the jobsite with supervision, before they are ever assigned to serve you. The curriculum involves all aspects of the type of work they perform and includes elements of mathematics, physics, geometry, safety, first-aid, and customer satisfaction, among others. Annual continuing-education is mandatory. The United Association of Plumbers, Pipe Fitters, and Sprinkler Fitters of the US and Canada (UA) has without question the best classroom and field training in the entire industry. The membership undergoes a mandatory comprehensive 5-year training program before becoming a Journeyman or Journeywoman. F. J. Murphy sponsors such training as a UA union contractor, and combined with our own company training, you benefit from the efficiencies and talent you receive when we are working on your job.
Q: Aren’t the faucets sold in hardware stores the same faucets that plumbers supply?
That depends. Many of the plumbing parts & other equipment sold at retail warehouse stores are not the same grade. Even the better-known name brands make lower end “builders-grade” or “consumer-grade” products, even some with plastic internal parts that most plumbers would never use. There is a genuine value difference between a $89 faucet and one that costs $159, even if they look the same. When you can trust your plumber, the old adage “you get what you pay for” is still as true as ever.
Q: How can I determine the quality of plumbing products I buy myself in retail stores?
Chances are you probably can’t because you haven’t had a professional plumber’s experience from working on hundreds of systems a year, finding which products work best, last longest, and give you the least problems. Remember, cheap work is not good and good work is not cheap. When you hire a trained professional to do a job, part of what you are paying for is this expertise. This is true with other trades as well: electricians can’t provide a warranty for fans and fixtures you buy at a retail store; tile setters know from experience that they can waste a lot of valuable time struggling to set tile that an owner bought on sale from a discount store because such tiles are often “seconds” which cannot be set straight; a carpenter can’t properly hang an odd-ball door. Bottom line: It usually takes more time to try to make an inferior product fit or work properly than to use the right materials the first time.
Q: I have a sump pump in my basement. Is it really necessary to have a secondary pump installed?
Well, we think it’s very important to have a back-up pump of some type. If you have an electric primary pump (likely) you have 3 pump options for back-up redundancy: 1) an additional electric; 2) a battery-powered; or 3) a water-driven. After all, if you didn’t care about water in your basement, you probably wouldn’t care about having a primary sump pump in the first place! It’s sort of like wanting to get to your destination in a car with no spare tire…you’re “rolling the dice” without a back-up. Unfortunately electric pumps themselves have limited service-lives, often fail, and leave many basements flooded. Not pretty. A properly installed secondary electric is a good choice as long as your city power is on. Under certain conditions, a better choice might be a battery-powered. As a matter of fact, many backup pumps installed in the past are battery-powered. Of course they only work if the battery has been maintained, and is fully charged and fresh. Once the battery wears down after a few hours, if your city power isn't back in service, you’re back to “square one” with no way to keep the basement dry. The battery-powered was certainly better than nothing at all. But the best is yet to come:
Nowadays, we highly recommend installing a high quality water-powered back-up sump pump. It's clearly the best choice. It has very few moving parts, and requires no battery and no electricity. The big reasons a water-driven pump is best: 1) It requires virtually no maintenance and it will just about last forever; 2) Groundwater typically becomes a problem when there are storms and the odds of power outages always increase with storms. Unless you have your own standby generator, the water-driven pump will be there to pump day and night without missing a beat no matter how long it rains…when the primary sump pump stops due to lack of electricity, and the battery back-up stops due to an exhausted battery; 3) Importantly, the water-driven will pump more water out of your basement faster than the typical battery sump pump and often as much or more than the electric primary pumps. Water-driven…the best choice for peace-of-mind and proper groundwater removal. Our choice.
Q. Why do I need a backflow device and why does it require annual testing?
Backflow Prevention Devices (often called RPZ's) are an important part of many plumbing systems. Basically they help prevent the possibility of contaminants getting into your drinking water. The were mandated by the IL EPA a number of years ago in many applications involving potable (drinking) water. Accordingly, the EPA required that special training (approx. 32 hours) and subsequent licensing was required for both Backflow Installation and Servicing. Only Journeyman Plumbers already licensed by the IL Dept. of Public Health are allowed to undertake the training and be issued a Certified Backflow license on successful completion. Our Backflow crews are of course fully licensed.
HEATING & COOLING FAQ
Q: When should I purchase a new heating or air conditioning system?
At F. J. Murphy & Son, we realize that purchasing a heating or air conditioning system is no small matter. However, if your existing system is old, in need of continual repair or simply inefficient, purchasing a new unit, one which can be as much as 60% more efficient than a system purchased just 10 years ago, can offer long-term benefits. Rather than continuing to pay for costly repairs and costly monthly bills, you can invest in a new system today that will help save you money for years to come.
Q: How can I find the system that’s right for me?
There are many heating and air conditioning systems to choose from today. We draw on our vast degree of heating and air conditioning knowledge and experience to help you decide on the system that best fits your specific needs. The size and age of your property, as well as the number of rooms, climate, local and regional utility costs, and utility incentive/rebate programs are all factors that will affect the functionality and, therefore, selection of your system. Utilizing the latest technology, we consider all these factors while assisting you in choosing the best system.
Consumers seeking to replace an existing system often choose a new unit with equal or higher efficiency ratings compared to their previous system. Replacing a unit that is 10 to 15 years old may reduce natural gas or electricity costs by 30 to 50%.
Q: How do I determine the size, or capacity, of my HVAC system?
Factors affecting the size of your new system include our regional climate, inside and outside humidity levels, the number of windows and doors in your structure, total square footage inside, the geographic direction your property faces, the number of heat-producing appliances, the type of insulation you have, and the number of people that typically occupy the premises.
We can perform the proper calculations to determine the appropriate heating or cooling unit for your home or business.
Q: I have a new air conditioning system but it's still too hot upstairs. Is this normal? Is there anything we can do about it?
This is a common problem usually found in two story buildings that were built without zone controls (separate thermostats for upstairs and downstairs). The best way to solve the problem is to adapt a new zone control system; it brings the temperature closer to being even. Short of doing that, one thing that you can do to help but not solve the problem is to run the blower continuously. This helps to mix the upstairs air and downstairs air.
However, the electrical usage of the blower is a factor and can run as high as $50 or more per month if you let it run 24 hours per day. It's best to run it only during severe problem times. Closing down all of the downstairs registers in order to force more cool air upstairs is usually not advisable since such an airflow restriction may cause icing of the evaporator coil, which will create a non-cooling situation.
Q: My new air conditioner seems to run all day long and it still doesn't cool down my house enough. What's the problem?
There are several possible reasons. Among them is a lack of airflow due to an undersized, broken, or otherwise restricted duct system. But if the air conditioner was recently installed and has never worked properly, the chances are that the installation was deficient and/or it's too small to handle the heat load of your property. Unfortunately many air conditioning companies today cut out the very necessary first step of running proper heat load calculations prior to sizing the equipment. Have you been given the calculations? If you’ve been sold a unit which is too small to handle the load, the only thing to do is replace it with the proper size unit.
Q: My new air conditioner seems to only run for short periods of time and then shuts off. It's on and off all day long and the environment seems uncomfortable even though the temperature is down at 72 degrees. Is this normal?
It sounds like the air conditioner is oversized. Again, the first step in installing a new air conditioner is to run proper heat-load calculations on the home to determine the proper size. An oversized unit will cycle on and off frequently, wasting electricity and causing wear and tear on the equipment itself. The other problem is that it never runs long enough to dehumidify the air inside the building. This causes an uncomfortable feeling; it seems cold and clammy, as if you were in a cave.
Q: Ever since my new air conditioner was installed in our home, our energy bill has skyrocketed. We don't even use the air conditioning very much since we work all day and are only running it for a few hours at night. They said it wouldn't cost so much. Is something wrong?
Very likely. The newer air conditioners should not be that expensive to run. They come with Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratings (SEER) of 13 as a minimum and go as high as 19. The older machines had ratings down around 6 or even lower. Newer units correctly sized, installed, and maintained, differ greatly. As an example, an average 2000 square foot home with 3 bedrooms and 2 baths, in Sangamon County, using a 3-ton, 12 SEER system may have annual cooling costs of around $180 (Based on .10 per KWH/ton, 25,000 sensible BTUH, 600 hours run time, 12 SEER.) If your energy bill has skyrocketed there probably is a problem somewhere in the system. On installation a new air conditioner must be tested and have the refrigerant charge accurately adjusted. The factory does not preset these as every job site has different conditions. A study by researchers at Texas A & M University found that a refrigerant undercharge of 23% results in a 52% efficiency loss. North Carolina Alternative Energy Corp. found that 90% of the units they tested exhibited some sort of energy wasting problem, 50% had an improper refrigerant charge and 40% had inadequate airflow. Proper installation of the air conditioner and testing of the system as a whole, as well as correct periodic maintenance, are crucial to performance and energy savings.
Q: If I replace my old air conditioner with a new one, will it help me to lower my energy bill?
Yes, and it can in a big way. If you have an old unit built in the 70's, it was probably rated around 6 SEER when it was new, and due to age is now running something like 3 or 4 SEER. Replace it with a new 13 SEER unit and cut your cooling energy bill by 67% or more! The indoor coil must also be replaced at the same time in order to get the advertised SEER rating of the new unit and the rest of the system must be in proper working order.
Q: How much will it cost to install a new air conditioner?
It is impossible to quote a price without first checking conditions at the job site. We simply cannot determine what the price will be without this first step. Price will be influenced by the size, SEER rating, and location of the new unit as well as whether or not the existing furnace, electrical panel, and ducts are suitable for air conditioning or if they must be replaced. We charge a small fee to come out and take our measurements. Then we return to the office to do the sizing analysis and provide you with a detailed, written proposal customized especially for your situation. The proposal will provide you with our calculations, show exactly what work will be performed, what options we recommend and what the cost will be. The initial fee for the visit and sizing is waived when we are hired to do the installation.
Q: Can I make payments on the installation of a new air conditioner so I don't have to pay for it all at once?
Yes. We accept credit cards and can arrange several financing options so that you can make small monthly payments rather than paying it all at once.
Q: What size of air conditioner do I need for my house?
Air conditioners are rated in "tons" of cooling capacity. This phrase comes from the days when ice was used for cooling. One ton of air conditioning is equal to the amount of cooling you would get from one ton of ice melting in your home in one hour. One ton of cooling is also equal to 12,000 BTUH (British thermal units per hour) and this 12,000 BTUH is further broken down into sensible BTUH (heat which can be sensed with the aid of a thermometer) and latent BTUH ("hidden heat" which cannot be sensed with the aid of a thermometer.) This has to do with how much moisture removal is accomplished by the air conditioning system and gets fairly complex.
Contrary to popular belief, proper sizing is not done solely based on the square footage of the home, such as one ton of a/c for every 500 square feet. Such rough rule-of-thumb guesses do not allow for important variables. The proper size can only be determined from the results of a heat load calculation on your home. A correct calculation takes into account the area of exposed walls, the glass area and whether it's single or dual pane, the insulation levels in floors, walls, and ceilings, any exterior or interior shading, the requested indoor temperature, and the volume of the house in cubic feet. We use a method of calculation called "Manual J" which was developed by Air Conditioning Contractors of America and approved for this use.
Proper size is critical to your comfort and savings on your energy bill. Oversized units cost more to operate and short-cycle so much that your house may become humid and uncomfortable. Undersized units run all day long and still don't cool the house. Make sure you get the right size.
Q: Do I need a permit to install a new air conditioner and if so what is involved in getting a permit?
Yes. A permit is a legal requirement in most cities and towns. The issuance of a permit usually involves making a sketch of the property showing the location of the air conditioner, then taking this to the local Building & Zoning Department along with a completed application, and paying the fees. The permit usually is issued the same day. When the job is done, normally a Building & Zoning inspector from where you live will come by to inspect the job and sign off the permit. Some companies illegally do these jobs without a permit and when apprehended, the homeowner gets the fine. At F. J. Murphy & Son, Inc., we take care of getting the permit, making the drawings, and scheduling the inspection for you. This affords you additional protection.
Q: Is there any real difference between brand names of air conditioners?
YES…and…NO. All units operate on the same basic principles of physics, electronics, and mechanics. However, some are built using different types of materials, different types of motors, different types of compressors, different electrical components, etc. No one knows better than the professional companies and employees that do the repair service as to which units have the best track record and are to be favored. Added to that is the fact that what might be the best choice one year may not be the best next year since manufacturers have a habit of changing designs and parts…sometimes for the good…sometimes for the bad. So, that which F. J. Murphy might have recommended two years ago might not be what we would recommend today…simply due to manufacturing changes.
It’s for this reason that F. J. Murphy has no allegiance to any particular brand but instead uses our knowledge and experience to pick the very best at any given point in time. After all, we want our customers satisfied for the long haul, not just the day of the installation. Further and even more confusing to the consumer, as it is with many automobiles, manufacturers have consolidated brands and factories along with equipment design. With most major manufacturers, the equipment comes down the same assembly line using the exact same parts and assembly workers, only to have a different “brand” nameplate and/or paint color installed before shipment. Often the price differential with such units is simply the result of marketing and advertising expenses associated with one “brand” name vs. another.
Q: After I have a new air conditioner or furnace installed will it require any maintenance?
Yes. As it is with anything mechanical, most certainly. We suggest that if you have a combination heating and cooling system you have us come out and do a tune-up on the system at the beginning of the heating season and again at the beginning of the cooling season. Keeping the system clean is the name of the game. As the coils and blower wheels begin to get dirty the efficiency of the system plummets, your energy bill climbs, and your comfort level drops. Regular tune-ups also extend equipment life and help to prevent mechanical breakdowns.
FIRE SPRINKLERS FAQ
Q: How do fire sprinklers work?
Automatic fire sprinklers are individually heat-activated and attached to a network of piping with water under pressure. When the heat of a fire raises the sprinkler temperature to its operating temperature (usually 155-165 degrees F), a solder link will melt or a tiny liquid-filled glass bulb will shatter to open that exact sprinkler, releasing water and sounding an alarm. By acting automatically at the origin of a fire, sprinklers prevent a fire from growing to a dangerous size.
Q: Do sprinklers go off accidentally?
It is possible for a sprinkler to discharge accidentally, but this is an extremely rare occurrence in systems that are properly maintained. Records indicate that only 1 in 16,000,000 sprinklers per year will open accidentally.
Q: Don’t fire sprinklers cause widespread water damage?
Fire department hoses typically discharge ten to a hundred times more water than that discharged by sprinklers. Since only the sprinkler closest to the fire is activated to immediately extinguish the fire, the total amount of water damage is usually very limited. Fire and smoke damage is also limited: in buildings with a fully functional sprinkler system, one or maybe two sprinkler heads put out most fires quickly.
Q: How do I find out if I'm required to have fire sprinklers?
Building codes detail where and when sprinklers are required for life safety, and NFPA codes cover the design, layout, and installation of the systems themselves. A licensed fire protection designing contractor can help you find out about any specific requirements that apply to you.
Q: How much will a new sprinkler system cost?
According to the National Fire Sprinkler Association (NFSA), systems usually cost about $1.90-$3.50 per square foot--comparable to the cost of quality flooring. Specific prices depend upon the building type and construction, its water supply, and the degree of hazard of contents (occupancy). An inadequate water supply will increase the costs. Retrofit installations into existing buildings can be a bit more expensive. More importantly, a sprinkler system quickly pays for itself in greatly reduced insurance and liability premiums for the property owner. F. J. MURPHY can quickly provide you with a no-obligation estimate.
Q: Who designs sprinkler systems?
F. J. MURPHY & SON, INC. employs NICET-certified Fire Protection Engineering Technicians. NICET, the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies, has a stringent testing and certification program for fire protection designers. This is a requirement of IL State law that governs the licensing of Fire Sprinkler Contractors. Only professionals should design and install sprinkler systems.
Q: How can I maintain my sprinkler system?
Most importantly, your system should be inspected QUARTERLY by a NICET Certified professional working for a State Licensed Contractor. You must do this in order to comply with codes. Further, un-inspected systems or those inspected by uncertified persons can be the cause of an insurance carrier’s refusal to honor claims for fire damage if investigation shows that the system malfunctioned. Most insurance companies have such “fine print” language in their policies. Clearly, having insurance coverage denied can amount to very substantial out-of-pocket costs in the event of a fire. Thorough inspections will also catch any minor problems before they become major. In addition, regular maintenance will usually lower insurance premiums. Remember, you’ve made the major investment; now protect it.
Know the location of the system shutoff valve.
Make sure the system control valve is always open.
Have your system re-evaluated for needed upgrades when:
Water supply changes--addition or change of backflow preventer or water meter, or reduction of public water supply volume or pressure.
Building occupancy or use changes (storage racks, materials, etc.).
Physical building changes (walls, partitions, additions).
Leave the building and contact the fire department when any activation of the system occurs, even if the fire has apparently been extinguished.
Paint the sprinklers.
Damage sprinklers (report any damage immediately).
Hang objects from any part of the system
Cover the sprinklers.
Stack products that obstruct the sprinklers.
Q: Can you install a Fire Sprinkler System for our business without having to close?
We will make every effort to enable you to carry on business as normally as possible while we are working on your installation or remodel. This occurs with 90% of our clients in occupied buildings. On certain unusual situations, it's possible that you may have to partially close for a short time. However, in such cases, we plan carefully to minimize the inconvenience.