Do I need a water softener?

What’s the difference in soft water and hard water? Are both kinds of water safe? Do I need a water softener?

Talking about water in these terms can be confusing. The terms certainly aren’t descriptive enough to know what they mean and what to do about them! But, if you have hard water, you may be having issues that need to be addressed for the longer term condition of your home.

What causes hard water?

In route to your home, water can pick up sediments and minerals that can wreck your appliances with build up over time. If this is a problem you have, you may want to install a water softener. Having hard water is very common, only about 15% of households have soft water flowing without being treated. And having hard water is actually more expensive than using a softener.

Why get a water softener?

The reason to address hard water isn’t necessarily about your health. It’s more dangerous for your plumbing appliances than anything. Water that has a higher level of minerals and sediment in it, including calcium and magnesium, can become a problem by collecting in the pipes, drains, and on faucets. If those deposits build up they can restrict water flow or permanently damage plumbing. If limescale solidifies in your pipes, you will need replacements, which are far more expensive than just a good cleaning. In this case, the use of a water softener can control the situation much more easily and cost-effectively.

How do water softeners work?

Water softeners are systems that help each tap and faucet as part of your plumbing system. They eliminate mineral contents and also protects your pipes. Softeners have benefits like delivering better tasting, cleaner water that is also easier on your clothes and dishes. You may notice your shampoo and soap don’t lather like they should. Maybe you’ve noticed stiff fabrics and discoloration of clothing coming out of the wash. Freshly cleaned dishes are spotty and grimy. Or maybe your food doesn’t taste quite right. These are all signs that hard water are the culprit. You probably need a water softener.

Call a professional

If the sound of a water softener in your home appeals to you, call a professional. Don’t try to install one on your own. You want to make sure the installation is done correctly and without problems that can lead to damages to plumbing. A DIY water softener install can end up costing you far more, so let a professional plumber help you get softer water that will treat your pipes better. Call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010 for assistance.

Your HVAC System can help allergies

Spring has brought April showers, the hope of beautiful May flowers – and allergy season!  The air can get really bad for people who suffer from seasonal allergies, but believe it or not your HVAC system can help allergies and bring some relief.It’s not expensive or difficult to get your HVAC in shape for this tricky time of year, and it just takes a few steps and considerations.

Put in a new air filter

The air that circulates through your home has to first go through your air filter. We recommend that you change the filter at least twice a year, and if you have pets, you may want to change it more often. You want to make sure there is a new filter in before furnace season and again before you use the air conditioning. If the filter is dirty it can’t catch dust, so the air you’re breathing in your home will be dirty and unhealthy. A new, clean filter will catch dust and any particles that can bother allergies.

Talk to your technician about using a MERV filterAllergy season sign

Sometimes a regular filter is not enough protection for allergy sufferers. If this is the case in your home ask your HVAC technician about using a Maximum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) filter. They are designed to catch even more than dust and some air pollutants. Depending on the rating of the filter, they can catch dander, pollen and other allergens. The higher the rating, the more pollutants they can filter.

Consider a UV air purifier

To create the cleanest indoor air possible, consider using a UV light solution. These types of purifiers can reduce bacteria, mold, and other allergens in the air. These filters work by providing a second cleaning after treated air is pushed through the air filter. It will also remove unwanted odors from the air like pet stink, kitchen smells and perfumes. You may want to check out the Air Scrubber. It’s an attachment to your existing HVAC unit, It won’t require major installation.

Don’t forget to dust your return vents and the HVAC unit

The simple step of dusting can help cut the spread of allergies. And don’t forget to clean your return vents and HVAC unit. If you have dusty return vents, that dust will spread throughout your house. To prevent the spread, use a damp cloth to wipe around your return vents, outside condenser and any other HVAC units you can access.

Get a tune-up

If someone in your home has allergies, nothing can replace a regularly scheduled HVAC tune-up. As a result of professional cleaning and inspection, your HVAC system can help allergies. You should plan to get tune-ups twice a year to make sure no dirty air is being distributed throughout the house and that the system is problem-free.

A preventive maintenance plan will ensure that your HVAC system is served twice a year, without you having to worry. For information, call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010.

Light bulbs keep burning out? Here’s why.

Not only is it frustrating, but even worse, in some cases, it can mean there’s a fire hazard. Finding out why your light bulbs keep burning out too soon is crucial.

How long should bulbs last?

Incandescent bulbs should last for about a thousand hours. Compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs and LEDs (light-emitting diode) typically last much longer – about 10 thousand usage hours for CFLs and 25 thousand hours for LEDs. Still, if your bulb is burning out before it should, it’s time to find out why.

Why do my light bulbs keep burning out too soon?

There are many possible reasons, here are the main ones:Light bulb that is not working

  1. You may be using the wrong type of light bulb in a certain fixture.
  2. A bulb may be loose or incorrectly connected.
  3. The bulb’s power supply voltage may be too high.
  4. The dimmer switch may require a different bulb.
  5. Recessed lighting may be causing overheating in the insulation about it.
  6. Filaments in the bulb could be broken due to excessive vibrations.

Wrong bulb type

If a lamp is rated for 40 watts, placing a 1o0-watt bulb in the fixture creates excess heat. This can shorten the bulb’s life, and possibly even cause a fire to start. Always make sure the bulb’s wattage is not more than the fixture’s wattage recommendation. Another possible problem is that the bulb is not right for its location. LED bulbs are better to light fixtures that have frequent on/off usage throughout the day, but CFLs are not.

Loose bulbs

You may notice a bulb flickering if it is loose. Check to make sure that the bulb is correctly connected into the socket and if it’s loose, turn it until it’s snug. Ideally, the fixture’s tab and the bulb solder should be roughly the same size. This will create a good connection between them. If they are not, try switching light bulb brands.

Wrong power supply voltage

In the United States, 120-volt electrical outlets are standard in homes. Be sure that the light is connected to a standard outlet. If it is, use a multimeter to check if the reading is more than 120 volts. If you are having electrical supply issues, contact a licensed electrician right away.

Dimmer switch with incompatible bulb

Using CFL or LED bulbs can damage the bulb or circuitry in an older dimmer switch. Those were made to be used with incandescent bulbs. Be sure your dimmer switch and light bulb are compatible.

Recessed lighting overheating

“Can lights” hang inside the ceiling. Newer models may be designed to be in contact with insulation (IC-rated) and not cause any problems with overheating, but older recessed lighting fixtures can overheat. If they are not, this situation poses a fire risk. Be sure to install IC-rated fixtures so that they don’t overheat insulation.

Broken bulbs due to vibration

Excessive vibrations like ceiling fans or automatic garage doors can crack or prematurely cause incandescent bulbs to burn out. If the problem bulb is near an entrance, in a ceiling near heavy upstairs foot traffic, or in other places where there are vibrations you may want to switch to an LED bulb. They are better designed to handle vibrations.

If you’re concerned about your home’s electrical system, call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010.

Windowless bathroom? Add light for function and style

It’s not uncommon to have a windowless bathroom in many different sizes and styles of homes. Sometimes these bathrooms are used for guests, are only half bathrooms, or the layout of the house was built with the bathroom in the interior. A windowless bathroom doesn’t have to be dreary with only dim light. We will tell you how to light your windowless bathroom for function and style. Brighten things up, it can really make a difference!

Ambient & Task Lighting

If you bring in ambient light and task lighting into a bathroom with no windows you create a bright, functional space. Start with overhead lighting that’s bright and projects throughout the room. Add focused lighting directly over the vanity or mirror to make bathroom tasks like washing your face, applying make-up or shaving a breeze.

Light Bulbs

Knowing the lighting options you have will help you choose the best bulbs for the right location. Making a good decision is more than just choosing a high watt bulb. Light quality is based on a few factors so take a look at different options that are available.

For bathrooms there are two main types of bulbs available – you do not want to use a compact fluorescent light (CFL) in this space. You can use halogen incandescent or light emitting diodes (LEDs.) Many pros use LEDs for windowless bathrooms. Incandescent bulbs will work fine, but LEDs are much more energy efficient, lasting 25 percent longer than incandescent bulbs.

The measurement for bulb brightness is lumens. For a windowless bathroom, the ideal total lighting is 2,000 lumens at a minimum. Most household bulbs emit about 800 lumens, or the equivalent to a traditional 60 watt incandescent bulbs. A light fixture that is centered overhead and takes two or three bulbs will get you the lighting you need and makeup for not having natural light.

Color Options

Add light to a windowless bathroom

You also want to consider the color of the light you want to shine. Color temperature is measured in Kelvins. It rates the color or tone of light. All you need to know is lower color temperatures are warm tones – yellow to soft white – and higher temperatures indicate cool, bright light with blue undertones. Consider something in the 3000K to 4000K for general lighting in a windowless bathroom.

Also, the color rendering index (CRI) tells you how an object’s color appears under the bulb’s light when compared to how it appears in natural lighting. A higher value indicates a more true representation of color, like incandescent bulbs. For bathroom lighting look for a CRI of 90 or higher. This will work well for task lighting that provides light over the bathroom mirror. Try LED for optimal lighting for makeup application.

Light Fixtures

Many different types of light fixtures work well in bathrooms. If it’s a small space you may want to avoid low-hanging lights. Choose clear or white shades so the light shines through. Moisture accumulation is common in bathrooms, so recessed lighting may not be the best choice. It can allow moisture to escape into spaces above the ceiling.

If you are lighting a vanity sconces on each side of the mirror will minimize shadows from overhead lights and add an elegant touch. For a more contemporary look check out Hollywood style kits where globe sets or rope lights are placed all around the mirror.

Dimmer Switch

There may also be times you want to relax in lower light at the end of the day. Installing a dimmer switch to control the brightness for overhead lighting will allow you to adjust lighting. You can get a dimmer switch for all types of bulbs. Always check the dimmer’s label for information about what light bulb it’s compatible with.

If you need the assistance of a licensed electrician, call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010.

 

How to prepare for summer storms

It’s springtime and severe weather is on its way. It’s time to prepare for summer storms that bring power outages. Have you thought about what you and your family will do if the power goes out? Without power you have no heat or air conditioning, no power for your freezer or refrigerator, and no lights to see after dark. A few steps taken now could ensure your next power outage is less painful and as inexpensive as possible.

Get prepared with these steps to reduce damage to your home and bring comfort during an outage.

1. Trim trees in your yard that could pose a threat to your home during high winds.

An arborist can remove branches that overhang the house or fence and remove dead, dying, or diseased trees.

2. Reinforce your garage door.

Garage doors are vulnerable in storms with high winds. Brace your garage door to reduce the damage caused by wind blowing it inward and allowing wind to push up on your roof. If you need to replace it, upgrade to a wind-rated model.

3. Get a generator.

power outage

Having a standby generator will keep your home comfortable when there is a power outage. It will automatically kick on when it senses a break in the power and protect appliances and keep you comfortable. If you are one of the many thousands of employees working from home, a generator will keep you working and accessing the Internet even after a storm. You’ll also have surge protection. Power surges can happen at any time and cause damage to electronics. If you are living with someone who is a medical dependent, a generator will ensure their health and safety by powering  life saving devices like oxygen tanks or ventilators.

4. Upgrade to gutters and downspouts.

Steel is stronger than its common counterparts, vinyl and aluminum. If you live in a hail-prone region, upgrade to steel which is more durable against hail. You’re less likely to have a leak, too.

5. Protect your HVAC units.

Again, if you live in an area that gets hail, screens on your HVAC can prevent costly damage. Install screens around your air conditioning unit to help reduce damage to its fins and coils.

6. Protect your whole home with good or excellent impact-rated shingles.

Your roof is your home’s first line of defense against any forms of severe weather. You can minimize storm damage by replacing your shingles on time with a shingle that defends against rough elements.

If you need an expert to help you prepare for summer storms, call the professionals at Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010.

Will my plumbing work during a power outage?

There are many inconveniences during power outages. At night, it’s dark and you can’t see anything, your home is exposed to risks and all of your favorite appliances are down. You may be wondering, “Will my plumbing work during a power outage?” Let’s talk about that and how you can prepare for the next power outage.

For most of us, theWater runs smoothly through a clean garbage disposal water is going to continue to run, since water is supplied by city and municipal water sources. Water is supplied to customers by a standard gravity water supply system. This means that the water is built to flow without aid, or through the power of generators.

Still, there are a few of us who will not have water while the power is out. Well-water users get their water from well pumps that are almost exclusively powered by electricity. So when there’s no power, there’s no flow. If a well-water customer has a water reservoir they will have from 10 to 50 gallons of water until that runs out.

Many other appliances that supply or support water use will also be out during a power outage. These include:

  • Sump pumps. They go down when the power is out, and this is really bad news because storms that cause outages bring rains. Rain is the reason to have a sump pump in the first place. If you have a sump pump, we recommend you run a generator to keep your basement from flooding during an outage.
  • Water heaters. This is because even a gas water heater still uses some electricity. If your water heater is out you won’t be able to get a hot shower. You might have one tank of hot water available, so you’ll want to use it wisely.
  • Sometimes, toilets. Many toilets use gravity and water pressure, so they will continue to work fine. But, some models out there are assisted by a pump to generate a strong flush, If yours is one you’ll need to know it won’t work without power.

Spring storms are here, and it’s a good idea for you to take inventory of which appliances require electricity. Be sure and know if plumbing work during a power outage. It will allow you to be prepared and make any needed adjustments so you and your family can be as comfortable as possible during a power outage. You can always call a plumbing technician to help you assess your home and make recommendations. Contact Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010 for expert assistance.

When to Call a Professional Plumber

Do you know when to try DIY plumbing and when to opt for a professionally licensed plumber? The difference often comes down to the size and scope of a job. Simple fix plumbing jobs and repairs can usually be handled by a homeowner or someone with basic handyman skills. However, there are times you need a licensed professional, too. Let’s look at the difference so you know when to call a professional plumber.

DIY or Basic Handyman Jobs

The first step in deciding who to call for a plumbing job is to assess the severity of the situation. Smaller, non-invasive fixes are jobs for a handy homeowner or handyman plumbers. These include fixes dealing with toilets, showerheads, sinks, and other smaller plumbing fixtures around the house, but not cutting walls.

Consider DIY or a Basic Handyman when:

  • You have a minor clog
  • A new faucet, toilet, or showerhead needs to be installed
  • The faucet needs repair or replacing
  • You have leaky faucets
  • A garbage disposal needs installing
  • You have a repair that doesn’t require cutting into the wall or floor
  • Your toilet handles or arms are broken
  • The toilet seat is broken and needs replacement
  • The flapper or other toilet tank pieces need fixing

There are times when you need a licensed professional plumber for the job. Most of them have years of training or apprenticeships to learn the trade, and as a result, will save you time and money in the long run.

When to call a professional plumber:bathroom remodels require the help of a professional plumber

  • You have no water in the house
  • There are burst pipes
  • There are major sump pump problems
  • You have a rapid drainage line leak
  • You have a rapid water supply line leak
  • The bathroom needs a remodel
  • A supply line needs installation or replacement
  • A tub or shower needs installation
  • Clogged pipes that won’t correct with a drain snake
  • You have a sewer line leak or gaseous odors
  • Your water heater has a natural gas leak
  • There are issues with water temperature or gas pressure
  • You have plumbing repairs that require cutting into the wall or floor

If you need to call a professional plumber, the experts at Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical can help. Call 800.461.3010 for assistance.

Prep your AC for Summer

Even though temperatures are pretty mild, you may have already test driven your air conditioner this year. On days when the inside of your home becomes uncomfortable, you may opt to run the AC instead of opening windows. In the south, this is mostly due to pollen that can coat the floors, countertops and anything in sight! Be sure to prep your AC system for summer; it’s one of the most important investments you’ll make as a homeowner.

There are many ways you can maintain your air conditioning system that will save you money even if you are not skilled at it. Here are a few simple ways to keep your system cooling on the days you need it most.

Clean the coils

Air conditioning coils help refrigerants absorb heat and cool your home. They are a very important component of your AC system and need attention because over time, the coils become dirty. When this happens there is a  reduction in the amount of heat they absorb and your AC has to work harder to cool your home. Keep the coils clean by clearing the area around the condenser unit of any built up debris.

Change the filters each monthChange filters at least four times per year

The best way to maintain your AC is to change the air filter in your system on a regular basis. It’s an easy, inexpensive and quick task. But left undone, it can cost you in air quality and system function. An air filter prevents particles like dirt, dander, and dust from getting into the rooms of your home. If it’s bogged down in excess particles your AC system won’t be efficient, it will be strained and the quality of your circulated air will be poor.

Clean the condensate drain

Your AC has a drain line that takes water from the unit to the outside. This line should be clean because it can get clogged and moldy. If that happens you are in danger of damaging the unit and the line itself. If you notice water isn’t draining properly, unclog the line with these steps:

  1. Unplug the AC.
  2. Take off the filter at the end of the outside drain line.
  3. Put a wet-dry vacuum at the end of the drain line.
  4. Wrap a cloth around the area of the vacuum and drainage and make a firm connection. Turn on the vacuum for about five seconds to allow it to remove the debris causing the blockage.
  5. Last, pour a cup of bleach in the line to reduce future clogs.

Check the condenser and evaporator fins

AC’s have a condenser and an evaporator, and each has a “fin.” Over time, they can become bent and cause interrupted airflow. Regular checks on the fins will allow you to see any bending. If you see that, a fin comb can fix the issue.

Call a professional

If you think your AC is not performing and you’ve already tried the above fixes, it’s best to contact a professional air conditioning technician to prep your AC for summer. They can make sure your system is clean, inspected, tuned and that there aren’t underlying issues affecting its performance. Call the experts at Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010.

Keep pet dander and hair under control

Millions of Americans have a pet (or a few!) in their homes. Along with the joy they bring, there are duties – daily feeding, love and attention, and cleaning! It can be a challenge to keep pet dander and hair under control. To keep your pet and your family living the healthiest life, be sure and follow our tips.

Fur, dander, feathers and tracking-in outside germs all take a toll on your home’s air quality and cleanliness.

Symptoms of highly-polluted indoor air include:

  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • headache
  • sneezing
  • dry nose, eyes, and throat
  • flu-like symptoms

Follow these tips to maintain a clean and healthy home and keep pet dander and hair under control:

Clean your HVAC system with a regular maintenance appointment

Ask the technician to clean your HVAC system, so it is clear of dust, mold, pet hair, and other indoor contaminants. Do this twice a year and ask the technician if he recommends having your air ducts cleaned.

Clean your carpets

You can improve the health of your indoor air with a little spring cleaning. Airborne contaminants, especially in spring during peak allergy season, cause a worsening of asthma, allergies and respiratory illness.

Clean the rest of your home

When living with pets, dander is a major allergen found in our homes. People and pets also bring in other allergens into our homes. Wash laundry, dust, vacuum and mop often to remove allergens as much as you can.

Use an air purifier

Pet hair can impact a home's air quality

In addition to removing pet dander, a purifier can neutralize other pollutants like bacteria, viruses, mold spores, smoke and pollen.

Groom your pet

If your pet is clean and trimmed, your indoor air stays cleaner because there’s less shedded fur in the filter and ducts. You should brush your dog every few days and bathe her every two to four months.

Keep your floor vents clean

Check around your home to see which vents need attention. Pets like to lay on floor vents, so their hair can get caught in the vents. To clean the floor vents, turn off your HVAC system, remove the vent covers and clean them using a duster, cloth, brush or vacuum. You can also take an extra step and wash them with soap and water. If you do, be sure they are completely dry before putting them back. Clean floor vents will help with airflow and allow cleaner air to move throughout the house.

Keep your outdoor unit clean

Check the condition of your outdoor unit. Sometimes dogs may claw at the unit or unintentionally cause other damage, such as “marking” the unit. If you need to protect the unit from your pet, choose a small fence that doesn’t block airflow. This will keep it protected from the elements and your curious pet.

Keep the filter clean

If you have pets, you should be changing your air filter every 30-60 days. Using a HEPA or ionic filter may not be heavy-duty enough to capture pet dander. Check with your HVAC technician to find out which air filter will work best in your home.

Keep the ducts clean

Dander, tiny particles of skin that animals with fur or feathers shed can be a problem for those with allergies. While most people will experience typical symptoms, prolonged exposure to pet dander can lead to bronchitis and other respiratory problems. If ducts aren’t clean, they will continue to circulate particles in the home every time the HVAC system is turned on. We recommend professional duct cleaning every 3-5 years.

For professional assistance, call the experts at Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010.

Spring Home Maintenance

Spring has arrived! If you are ready to clean out the closets, scrub the floors and purge excess items, don’t forget to give some TLC to your plumbing and fixtures that keep your home running smoothly. Our spring home maintenance list will help. From kitchens and bathrooms to appliances, drains and outside pipes, your systems need inspection and cleaning. Here are some tips to be sure you don’t miss a thing!

General spring home maintenance

  • Check the basement and sink pipes for leaks.
  • If you have a sewer in an area, install a back flow valve in the floor drain. This could prevent future problems.
  • Fill drains with a gallon of water to also help prevent odors. Snake slow floor drains so they continue to carry water away in the event of rushing water.
  • Do you have a sump pump? Keep it running properly by pouring a few buckets of water into the pit. After the pump turns on, it should discharge the water then shut off without problems.
  • Help mitigate flooding with a flood alarm. It will operate like a smoke alarm and sound when it comes in contact with water, alerting you to potential flooding or leaks.

Appliances

  • Adjust the temperature on the water heater to no higher than 120°F. This will prevent scalding and energy overuse.
  • Flush the water heater tank with several gallons of water to flush out corrosion causing sediment. By doing this you will reduce heating inefficiency and lengthen the life of the heater.
  • If your water heater is more than 15 years old, consider replacing it. There are more energy efficient models out there.
  • Remove flammables if they are stored near the water heater or furnace.
  • Check all the supply hoses on your washing machine, dishwasher and ice maker for bulges or leaks. Replace any hoses that are showing age or are older than ten years – stainless steel hoses are most reliable.
  • Check on your washing machine lint trap, and if you can, place a wire trap or a piece of pantyhose over the end of the hose that drains the washer.
  • Clean your garbage disposal. It’s a very important part of your kitchen, be sure to give it some love! Clean it and be sure to only put in it what’s intended to go down the drain.

Kitchen and bathrooms

  • Repair dripping or leaky faucets. This will help you to save water.
  • Pop in a drain strainer to catch soap, hair and debris from clogging the drain lines.
  • Test the toilets for leaks. To do this just add six drops of food coloring to the toilet tank. Color will appear in the bowl if the toilet is leaking.
  • Give the area behind the toilet a good cleaning, especially if it isn’t part of your normal routine.
  • You may need to replace toilet parts if the handle must be held down for a thorough flush or jiggled to stop the water from running. By doing this inexpensive task you will lower your water bill.
  • Don’t neglect your shower head. Mineral deposits collect, but it can be cleaned – soak it overnight in a plastic baggie of vinegar. In the morning, remove and gently scrub with an old toothbrush. While you’re at it, tackle everything from the doors to the floor to remove soap scum and shine dull-looking fixtures.

Outdoors

  • It’s the perfect time to clean out gutters, downspouts and yard drains. Use a drain snake to clear out any debris that could cause a clog.
  • Clean out any birds nests in plumbing vent pipes.
  • Check hoses and faucets to make sure water is flowing freely. If you have an outdoor faucet dripping you may have had a frozen pipe that needs to be replaced.

Need professional help? Call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010.