Pros and Cons of Replacing Original Windows

If you are the owner of a home built before 1960, you’ve probably considered energy efficiency and the pros and cons of replacing original windows. A big challenge is that all homes are different and the only way to really measure savings with new windows is to replace or repair them and compare energy costs.  Another challenge is the simple fact that a typical 2,000 square foot home built before 1960 could have as many as 22-25 windows. The investment factor is significant.

Window Restoration

Many people who buy older homes do so for historic value, the romance of old architecture, and the quality of craftsmanship. Most original windows were made with quality hardwood frames with panes of glass sealed into the grid with glaze. Over time, the hard putty-like glaze starts to wear away and the weather-tight seal is compromised. Re-glazing is the technique of repairing windows with new seals and sometimes new glass and frames, depending on the extent of the damage. It’s considered an art form and can be expensive and time consuming. If your home has historical value or is located in a neighborhood that has been designated by the municipality for

preservation, re-glazing the original windows might be the best option or even the only option.  Grant funding is sometimes available to homeowners in these areas.

Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency can be a major issue with old windows, particularly those that weren’t maintained properly. Storm windows provide a barrier from the elements, but nothing compares to the insulation of vinyl replacement windows. The expense of replacement can be considerable because homes built before air conditioning were designed with more windows to promote airflow during the summer. Long-term, restoring or replacing original windows will lower heating and cooling costs, and possibly extend the life of your HVAC unit.

To learn more about lowering your heating and cooling costs, contact Central Carolina Air Conditioning at 1.800.461.3010.

DIY Project Safety and Kids

Family DIY ProjectA growing family and tight budget can make DIY home improvements necessary, but there are extra safety precautions that have to be considered when renovating with children in the home.  Basic comfort and convenience aside, keeping dangerous tools, materials, and chemicals away from children requires extra planning and care.

Here are some tips to keep children safe during DIY home projects:

  • As a general rule, any time you are considering doing home improvements (with or without children in the home), compare your estimated cost in materials/time to what a professional would charge.
  • Break large scale projects into phases. Make sure that you identify specific areas of the house for your family that won’t be impacted, and don’t allow any project materials or tools in those areas. Make sure the “work-free” areas can function between phases of the project.
  • Don’t try to multi-task. Even small repairs require full attention and if you’re responsible for supervising a child at the same time, you could be putting everyone at risk. Work with family or other caregivers to designate work times when small children can be supervised.
  • Ask for help. Make sure you truly understand the scope of the project and how long it will take to complete. For example, one person painting a room that requires priming and two coats of paint could take two days or more. It’s possible that three people could do it in less than 24 hours.
  • Any DIY project that requires breaching the security of exterior doors or windows, cutting off access to water or electricity, or moving furniture should be carefully considered. In some cases, it’s best to have children stay with a family member if security or physical safety is an issue.
  • Determine a lockable space to secure tools and equipment when you take breaks or between project phases.
  • Be aware of fumes and dust travelling through air vents. If you can, isolate your work space with a door or hang heavy duty plastic in the doorway. As a precaution, cover air intake vents and open windows exterior doors.

Before starting major DIY projects, it’s best to consult an expert.  Call Central Carolina Air Conditioning at 800-461-3010 to ensure your safety before starting a project, especially one involving electrical or plumbing systems.

Old Houses – New Problems

Home renovation before and afterHome Improvement shows add an element of glamour to historic home renovations, and people who invest in them relish in the charm. In one hour-long TV show a cute bubbly couple can turn a moldy, abandoned shack into a bright, trend-forward bungalow. Fixing up a historic home can be very rewarding, but what’s hiding in the walls or even in plain sight, can be downright scary.

In homes built prior to 1977, and especially homes built in the mid 20th century, there is a good chance that there are deadly chemicals in those “good bones”.

Health Risks

Older homes were designed to stand the test of time, but some of the materials used become hazardous or even deadly as they break down over the years. Asbestos and lead were present in significant levels in homes built between 1930 and 1950. Code laws and building guidelines have evolved, but there are serious health risks involved with renovating homes that contain these materials.

This danger goes beyond lead paint and asbestos floor tiles. Homes built before 1977 can have asbestos in popcorn ceilings, exterior insulation, HVAC duct-work insulation, plumbing insulation, and even roof shingles. Luckily, when undisturbed and in a solid form, exposure can be prevented. However, a simple project like moving HVAC ducts, replacing insulation, or scraping a popcorn ceiling could create dust which poses immediate danger.

Lead was used to make paint, water pipes, old window blinds, radiators, and it can even be present in the soil around older homes due to leaching. Despite our knowledge of the danger of lead, it’s still out there. There are still school systems and municipalities replacing lead drinking water pipes to this day.  Serious health problems, particularly in babies and children, can be caused by the chipping of lead paint and exposure to the dust on lead pipes.

Despite the risks, there is value and satisfaction in taking something old and making it new again. If you are planning to take on a renovation of an older home, call Central Carolina Air Conditioning 800-461-3010 for an HVAC and electrical inspection.

How to Pick a Ceiling Fan

In a previous post, we talked about using ceiling fans to circulate cool air in the summer. Fans are multi-functional and offer lots of benefits, so be sure and pick a ceiling fan with the features you need. You’ll enjoy energy savings, cooler spaces, and extra light (if you choose one with a light fixture).  They make your home more comfortable to the point that your thermostat can be adjusted 4-7 degrees lower!

How to pick a ceiling fan

Pick a ceiling fan that will provide aesthetic and practical benefits!

Here are some points to keep in mind as you pick a ceiling fan to meet your needs:

  • When it comes to the size of the fan, it’s best to choose the size that best matches with the square footage of the room.  Rooms that are less than 144 square feet should have a 42-inch fan. Rooms up to 225 square feet should have a 44-inch fan. If you are picking a fan for a room that’s up to 400 square feet, go with a 52-inch fan.
  • It’s important to choose the right blade size that doesn’t disrupt the purpose of the room that the fan is in. If you want to install a fan in your office, for instance, choose a fan with larger blades so the papers don’t get ruffled. They create a lower velocity and still keep the room cool. The number of blades will not make a difference in cooling the room.
  • Each fan should be carefully installed and follow basic guidelines. They should hang down 10-12 inches from the ceiling and 7-9 feet above the floor. Ceiling fans should always be 18-24 inches away from any walls.
  • Fans now come with many options and features.  If you want to use your fan on a frequent basis and save on your energy bills, then consider a fan that is easy to operate. Fans come with remote controls, noise level control, fan speed control, and the ability to dim or brighten the light.

Whether you have a fan that needs updating or want to install a new fan, it’s always best to have a professional take care of it.  Having a professional install your new fan will ensure that you get the manufacturer’s warranty and ensure the safety of your family. The mounting process is specific and includes precise mounting to a ceiling joist. Sometimes a mounting bracket is used instead of a ceiling joist, but both require proper alignment.

Call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing & Electrical at 1-800-461-3010 to install your ceiling fans.

Summer Home Maintenance List

Home ownership comes with many joys, but there are also a lot of responsibilities. Life can get hectic, so we’ve created a summer home maintenance list to help you knock out some chores. Maintaining your home will make it more enjoyable to live in and alleviate any problems that can arise if these chores are neglected over time. Knock out the maintenance list below, and you’ll be able to relax for a little – at least until the fall maintenance comes around!

Summer Home Maintenance List

1. Clean ceiling fans

Your fans may have been off during the previous seasons of colder weather and have likely accumulated some dust. Take the time to clean your fans, since you are surely wanting to use them now!

2. Create a summer watering schedule for your garden or plants

Different seasons require different watering guidelines for your plants. Create a watering schedule this summer to keep your plants healthy and strong.

3. Check carbon monoxide and smoke detectors

Most carbon monoxide and smoke detectors have a test button.  Check to make sure they are working and your family is safe!

4. Clean your grill 

Make sure your grill is ready for those perfect evenings where you and your family can enjoy a BBQ on the back deck!

 

5. Give your windows a good wash

Summer home maintenance means window cleaning

Add window cleaning to your summer home maintenance list.

It’s always good to add this to a seasonal home maintenance list.  Pets and children can especially leave their marks on our windows!

6. Enhance your yard – add some mulch

This will not only help keep the weeds down, but it will also help the ground retain more moisture during the summer heat.

7. Keep dirt out of your home – get a couple of doormats

With shoes coming in and out of your house constantly, your floors can easily get muddy and dirty. Consider getting a coarse mat to put at the exterior of your home so that everyone can rub the dirt off before entering. Then put a softer door mat inside your door to catch any remaining dirt.

8. Have your air conditioning inspected

Perhaps the most important item on your summer maintenance list is your air conditioning unit! It’s running the hardest during these summer months, so you’ll want to make sure that your unit isn’t working unnecessarily hard or inefficiently. Call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing & Electrical to come out and perform a tune-up and inspection on your AC unit!

Call to schedule your appointment today at 800-461-3010.

Signs Your Water Heater Needs Maintenance

Tucked away in a closet, basement, or garage, our water heaters are often out of sight, out of mind.  It’s a good idea to check regularly to see if your water heater needs maintenance and to observe its function. You’ll want to catch potential problems early, before they cause damage to the water heater or your home.

Here are several signs to look for:

Your water heater is dripping, or water is gathered around it Hot water heater

If your water heater is dripping water, this could be coming from the drain valve or from the tank itself.  Check your water heater regularly to see if there is any water dripping or any puddles have formed. Sitting water can cause serious damage to the walls and floors. If you suspect that your water heater has a leak, call a professional to see if it needs maintenance or replacing.

Your water looks discolored

If your water has any signs of rust or a brown tint to it, then you may have a problem with your water heater. The brown color or rust in your water may be a symptom of your water heater corroding. When this happens, the rust and corrosion from the heater can come off in the water. It’s also possible that there are other sediments in your water that are causing the discoloration.

 Your water isn’t hot

This sign is rather obvious, but if your water is cool or cold, it could be a sign that your water heater needs maintenance.  First, how much hot water is in use? If you have the washer running at the same time while doing dishes, and someone is also taking a shower, then these sources running at one time will drain the hot water. If this happens on a regular basis where you can’t get hot water when running the sink or shower, then it could mean a few things. The tubes may have damage. There could also be a bad energy supply to your home that’s causing the lack of hot water. A third possible cause is a faulty heating element.  It’s also important to monitor whether or not your water temperature is too hot, due to a faulty water heater.  Tap water scald is a serious danger, especially for children and the elderly.

When dealing with any maintenance or repairs, it’s always safest and best to call a professional. Not only can a professional do the maintenance or repair work, but they also provide peace of mind for you knowing it’s done the right way! Call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing and Electrical to check your water heater for any signs of damage. We can also provide routine maintenance on your water heater! While we’re out there, we will check for any money-wasting leaks. Our services also include maintaining and/or fixing drain pipes, exposed hot and cold water lines, and ventilation systems!

Call today to schedule your appointment at 800-461-3010.

How to lower the humidity in your home

July is an appropriate time to talk about humidity!  Those of us in North Carolina can feel the humidity every time we step outside. But what about the humidity inside your home?  The humidity level of your home has a direct effect on your health and comfort and your home’s health.

Recommended humidity levels

During cold months, there can be problems if humidity levels get too low. In summer, there is risk of humidity levels being too high. It turns out that high humidity doesn’t just lead to bad hair days!

Problems with high humidityHumidity causes mold and mildew

  • Mold thrives on high humidity. Mold attracts insects and can also cause health problems for you and your family.  The CDC recommends controlling humidity in order to control mold.
  • Too much humidity can also trigger allergies and create dust mite problems.
  • Humidity can ruin the paint on your walls and can even warp the wood, in extreme cases. If the excessive humidity in your home creates mold, this mold could set into the carpet as well.

How to regulate humidity in your home

A dehumidifier will increase the comfort level of your home by pulling moisture from the air. This will allow you to sleep better at night and will help prevent mold, dust mites, insects, etc. There are a few other things you can do to minimize the humidity in your home:

  • When you are cooking, use your vent fan
  • If possible, use colder water and keep your showers short
  • Minimize the number of plants in your home to keep humidity levels down
  • Always use the exhaust fans in your bathroom while showering
  • Consider installing a fresh air intake duct in your home

Your air conditioning unit will play a significant role in the amount of humidity that is in your home. It needs to be sized properly for the square footage of your home, otherwise it won’t be running efficiently. When your air conditioning unit is sized correctly and maintained properly, it will be pulling the humidity out of your home while it’s running.

Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing & Electrical can install a dehumidifier directly to your heating and cooling system to ensure optimal comfort during the hot summer months. It’s also important to have your air conditioner maintained regularly. Your air conditioner should be dehumidifying the air as well, so it’s important to make sure it’s running efficiently.

Call to schedule your appointment today at 800-461-3010.

 

Is your AC about to go out? Know the signs!

Air conditioning is one of modern life’s greatest privileges. We often don’t think about the comfort it provides, until our unit stops working. When the AC goes out, it always seems to happen suddenly (and on the hottest day of the year).  But there are usually signs and symptoms before a unit goes kaput – you just have to know what to look for. Staying on top of your air conditioning unit’s health will save you from discomfort and unexpected expenses down the road!

Signs your air conditioning unit may be about to go out

It’s full of hot air

The number one sign that something is wrong with your unit is that the air doesn’t seem cold. There could be a few reasons why this is happening. It’s possible that your compressor is broken or your unit may have low levels of Freon.

It’s leaky

If you check your unit and there is moisture or leakage, this could be a sign that something is not right. Slight condensation is normal, but a significant amount of moisture is not. A refrigerant leak around your unit can cause a risk to your family. Water leaks can cause damage to your floors and furniture, and they can sometimes even cause mold. It’s best to call a professional to fix the problem sooner rather than later.

It’s thumping, bumping, clicking, or banging

If you hear a strange sound coming from your unit, it may be time to have an inspection done to find the cause of the noise. If you hear rattling, banging or grinding sounds coming from your unit, turn it off immediately and call a professional.

It’s ready to retire

Is your unit 10-15 years old? If so, you may want to consider replacing it with a newer energy efficient model. Air conditioning units typically last 10-15 years, so if yours is within this time frame, then you should be anticipating a unit replacement soon.

It’s a money pit

Are you constantly paying for repairs on your unit? If so, replacing the unit may save you money in the long run. Repair costs can really add up over time.

It’s hogging energy

What is your system’s SEER rating? Every Air Conditioning system has a SEER rating, and the higher the rating, the better. If your SEER rating is low, then it may be time to replace your unit. Any units that have been made since 2006 are made with a minimum SEER rating of 13. It’s best to have a rating higher than the minimum if you want to reap the most energy savings from your unit.

Call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing & Electrical to visit and perform a tune-up on your AC unit! Our service professionals will inspect your condenser and evaporator coils to ensure that your system is running efficiently. We will also come out and check your insulation for any small holes or non-insulated walls.  This will also help reduce the cost of your energy bills since your system will be running properly after our inspection and tune-up!

Call to schedule your appointment now with Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing & Electrical at 800-461-3010

 

How to Avoid Water Damage

Repairs and maintenance are a normal part of home ownership. If the thought of leaks, floods, and overflows scare you, you aren’t alone. Water damage can be highly destructive to your home and cost you significantly. Let’s look at the most common culprits of water damage, and what you can do to prevent it.

An Overflowing Toilet

That one phrase makes most people uneasy! Most homeowners have encountered some kind of overflow from their toilet. Depending on how much damage the overflow causes, you could be looking at a cost of up to $5,000 to repair the water damage. So what can you do to prevent an overflowing toilet? Your best bet is routine maintenance! Have a professional regularly check the flush valve, toilet fill and water supply to ensure that everything is running properly.

Washing Machine Problems

Washing machine water damage is commonly caused by an exploding hose. This is an easy way to flood your whole laundry room. Follow this simple tip to prevent your machine hose from exploding and causing a flood: don’t overstuff your washer with clothes. It may be extra work to do two separate loads of laundry, but it will save you a headache and money down the road.

Plumbing System Failure

Water pipes run throughout your entire home – including the walls, floors and ceilings. Depending on how old you pipes are and the condition they are in, they could burst and cause significant damage. An annual inspection by a professional is the best way to prevent pipes from bursting, because a professional will be able to catch any problems before they turn serious.

When dealing with any maintenance or repairs, it’s always safest and best to call a professional. Not only can a professional do the maintenance or repair work, but they also provide peace of mind for you knowing it’s done the right way! Call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing and Electrical to provide routine maintenance on the water appliances and pipes in your home. While we’re out there, we can also check for any money wasting leaks! Our services also include maintaining and/or fixing water heaters, drain pipes, exposed hot and cold water lines and ventilation systems!

Give us a call today at 800-461-3010 to schedule your appointment.

Alternative Cooling Options for your Home

Summer is officially here and we’re experiencing our hottest days. Most homes have a central air conditioning unit, but you may want an additional cooling option to provide relief from the heat. There are several options available – let’s go over each cooling option below:

Window AC Unit

These are most ideal for cooling a small amount of space in your home. There’s an important consideration when adding a window AC unit to your home. It’s important to have a professional come out and check your electrical system first. You’ll want to make sure that your system can handle an additional window unit. Depending on the size of your window AC unit, it may need a committed outlet used only for powering that unit. If your electrical system is not fit to power a window AC unit, you can always have an outlet installed. This may require additional upgrading to your electrical or circuit panel. These units do replace a central air conditioning system, but are great for smaller rooms in your home or places like a granny flat above the garage that needs to be cooled.

Ceiling or Floor Fans

Fans are great alternative cooling options. It’s important to turn a fan on only when people are occupying that room. They can also help circulate the air provided by a central air conditioning system. By using a standalone fan, you can also direct it to funnel air in a room that’s humid to get rid of the moisture.

Ductless Air Conditioner

Also known as a mini-split unit, this may also be an option for you. Compared to a window AC unit, the ductless air conditioner will cost more, but it also comes with more power. For the energy conscious individuals, this may be a favorable option. It is more energy efficient and can cool larger areas than a window AC unit. You may be wondering how exactly this unit works, so we’ll break it down for you! The air vent and thermostat are both inside the room that is being cooled, and the cooling fans are located on the exterior.

Some features of the ductless air conditioner are similar to a central unit. There is a programmable thermostat that allows you to adjust settings for morning versus evening preferences. The programmable thermostat will also provide money savings because you’re able to adjust the unit to turn off when you’re away. If you have reservations about the sound that a window unit makes, then the ductless air conditioner is also a better option. The sound level will equate to the sound of a fan, which makes it a quieter cooling option.

Call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing & Electrical to come out to go over the options for your home. We can also install a programmable thermostat that will enable you to track your energy usage and learn how to save more money! While we’re out there, we can also inspect your current air conditioning unit as well as the condenser and evaporator coils. Both require maintenance to ensure that your system is running efficiently. It will also help reduce the cost of your energy bills since your system will be running properly after our inspection and tune-up!

Call to schedule your appointment now with Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing & Electrical at  800-461-3010.