Best Water Heater Temperature

Carolina weather is notoriously unpredictable during the winter months – we may get mild weather one day, then a freezing cold day the next.  These cold days often prompt us to enjoy the warmer features in our home all the more. A space heater, warm blankets, and hot showers often become our go-to on these cold winter days. While you want your shower to be hot, it shouldn’t be scalding hot. You can avoid this by setting the best water heater temperature.

Manufacturers often set the water heater to 140 degrees. Although this is the standard temperature for water heaters, it can produce water that is much hotter than ideal. If you have small children in the home who like to play with faucets, then you’ll definitely want to adjust the water heater temperature.

The best water heater temperature is around 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

Not only will 120 degrees feel just the right amount of hot, but it will also help you save on your energy bills! The estimated annual savings from your water heater set at 120 degrees is about $10-30.

Image shows hot water coming from shower headAccording to the EPA, setting your water heater at 120 degrees is also hot enough to prevent diseases and bacteria from growing. The EPA does warn you not to turn it too low, however. Doing so could cause bacteria to grow or prevent you from getting enough hot water during your showers.

Check the current temperature setting on your water heater by taking a temperature reading from your faucet. You can also find it by looking at the dial located on your water heater.

Have a concern with your electrical, plumbing or air conditioning? Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing and Electrical is here to help! We offer 24 hour emergency service 7 days a week!  Give us a call! 1-800-461-3010 to speak with our customer service agents that can answer your questions or schedule an appointment!

Home Maintenance Apps

With the regular hustle and bustle of life, it is all too easy to lose track of home maintenance tasks. Fortunately, technology is here to help! Below are home maintenance apps specifically designed to reduce some of the hassles that come with being a homeowner.

HomeZada

HomeZada is a home maintenance app that offers many features. First, users can keep track of appliances, set maintenance reminders, create moving lists, and manage property insurance. Next, the app can categorize and track the value, purchase date, serial number, warranty for all of your personal possessions. HomeZada acts as a digital filing cabinet. For example, it can store owner’s manuals, product registrations, and important documents like digital records of mortgage, insurance, and taxes.

Centriq

Centriq is an appliance troubleshooting app. Having trouble with an appliance? Simply take a snapshot of the product label. Centriq will provide the user manual, troubleshooting guidelines, parts and consumables, and how-to videos. It also stores information pertaining to various aspects of your home – even down to paint colors.

HouseHappy

Woman uses smartphone in her home

HouseHappy is home maintenance app that simplifies service needs. As a result, the app offers service reminders and an easy process for scheduling service requests.

HomeRoutines

HomeRoutines is an app that helps users create routine checklists down to the day, the week, and month. This app syncs with your calendar and offers advanced organization features. For instance, users can divide rooms and areas of their homes into different zones for further organization of chores and maintenance.

In short, these apps can really help simplify your home maintenance tasks! However, sometimes you need the help of a professional. Call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010. You can also submit our online request form.

 

How to Social Distance in 2021 – What You Need to Know to Stay Safe

This virus has rocked the entire globe. New information continues to be discovered, but there’s still a lot we need to learn about the virus. While many families in the U.S. are starting to slowly integrate more of their pre-pandemic habits, it’s important to keep in mind the safety protocol from health officials.

CCAir service tech discussing recommendations with family

According to the CDC, there are three primary ways that you can slow the spread of Covid-19. One of those ways is social distancing. At Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing & Electrical, we take extra precautions when visiting your home. Our technicians always wear masks and social distance and will abide by your standards when in your home to help keep you healthy and safe.

There are some ways to help when traveling and in public that will benefit not just yourself, but others as well.

 How to Socially Distance while Traveling

The CDC recommends that you continue to maintain 6 feet of space between you and others, whenever possible. It can be tempting to constantly grab onto any sides, railings, and other touchpoints throughout your traveling (especially while in airports). Try to minimize touching surfaces, since they tend to be gathering spots for germs. Of course, you can’t avoid touch points and surfaces completely when traveling. That’s why it’s a good idea to bring hand sanitizer and wear a quality face mask that is thick and will provide the best barrier possible.

How to Socially Distance While in Public

We all have to grocery shop, go to the doctor, fuel our cars, and complete other various errands.  So avoiding crowds of people isn’t always realistic.  I think this past year has taught us all to be smart and protect ourselves and others by wearing a quality face mask, washing our hands often and try to give others as much room as possible when in public.

Additionally, there are many services that companies are starting to offer remotely, giving you the option to order online without ever leaving your home. More employers are offering the option for their employees to work remotely if the job doesn’t require them to be physically present. Many meetings have shifted to a virtual platform. Some doctor’s appointments are fulfilled via phone instead of in person. Many food chains and restaurants have adapted to provide take-out and delivery services.

Some jobs, such as fixing your heating, cooling, and plumbing, cannot be done remotely. These are essential functions in your home, so they can’t be postponed either. Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing and Electrical is on call 24/7 to provide emergency service!

We also want you to have peace of mind, knowing that we follow all the CDC recommended guidelines. Each of our technicians will maintain social distancing protocols and wear a mask while working at your home. Give us a call with any questions at 1-800-461-3010. One of our team members will be happy to help!

Home Energy Efficiency Checklist

As the new year rolls in, most of us are thinking about changes and improvements we can make in 2021. Perhaps home energy efficiency isn’t as interesting as learning a new language or training for a marathon, but it can surely help you save money!

Here are some of our favorite home energy efficiency tips from energy.gov. We suggest resolving to save money in 2021 with these quick and simple ideas.

Install a programmable thermostat

Programmable thermostats are readily available at home improvement stores and easy to install on your own. You can program your home’s temperature around your schedule, so it will run less when you are away. Experts say a programmable thermostat can save as much as ten percent on your annual heating and cooling costs!

Replace your light bulbsImage of woman replacing incandescent bulb with a LED bulb

Swapping out old bulbs for Energy Star bulbs can add up to big savings. If you want to really invest in your home’s energy efficiency, consider Energy Star LED bulbs. These bulbs last 25 times longer and use 75% less electricity than incandescent bulbs. Energy.gov reports that use of LED lighting has the greatest potential impact on energy savings in our nation.

Put electric equipment on a power strip

You can save as much as $100 annually just by turning off so-called “energy vampires” in your home. These are devices that continue to use energy behind-the-scenes even when you aren’t actively using them. A simple way to do this is to install devices like this together on the same power strip. Then, you can just turn it off when not in use.

Unplug your chargers

We know, it’s so convenient to keep your phone charger plugged in all the time. But chargers consume energy even when your phone isn’t attached. For savings, unplug your charger when it isn’t in use.

Put your HVAC system on a maintenance plan

Regular preventive maintenance of your HVAC system will save you in the long run. A well-maintained system runs more efficiently and lasts longer. In addition, it’s best to have a professional spot potential problem before they become emergencies.

For information about preventive maintenance plans, call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010. You can also use our online form.

Space Heater Safety

Space heaters can be great for adding extra heat to small areas or making drafty spots cozier. But along with their benefits, space heaters add real fire risk to your home. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), space heaters account for about 43 percent of home heating-related fires and 4 out of 5 home heating fire deaths. It’s important to follow space heater fire safety guidelines, if you’re going to use this type of equipment in your home.

Space Heater Safety Tips

Space heater plugged safely into the center of the room.

  • Keep anything that can burn at least three-feet away from your space heater. This includes the wall. Space heaters typically come with longer cords so that they can be positioned in open areas away from the wall and outlet.
  • Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around space heaters. Keep kids and pets a safe distance away.
  • Never leave space heaters on while sleeping. You should also turn them off when leaving the room.
  • Test your smoke alarms at least once a month to make sure they’re working properly.
  • Make sure your space heater has been tested and approved by an independent laboratory like Intertek (ETL seal) or Underwriter’s Laboratories (UL).
  • Only place space heaters on the floor. Never place them on a table or other elevated surface.
  • Don’t use space heaters in rooms with water – like bathrooms and kitchens. Water and electricity don’t mix.
  • Only plug your space heater directly into the wall outlet – not into surge protectors, drop cords, etc. – otherwise you risk overloading the circuit.

Modern Safety Features

Many modern space heaters come with safety features like adjustable thermostats, timers and a tip-over safety switch. Be sure and research options before making a purchase, so you can use a space heater as safely as possible. If you follow these space heater safety tips, you can enjoy the benefits off a little added coziness this winter!

Expert Assistance

These tips apply to portable space heaters. If you are looking to add a stationary space heater to your home, be sure and consult an expert for professional installation. And, as with all electrical items in your home, if you have safety concerns, it’s best to have an electrician do an inspection. Call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010 for professional assistance.

Prevent Frozen Pipes This Winter

We’re approaching the time of year where frozen pipes are all too common. When water freezes, it expands, and when this happens inside your plumbing pipes, it puts the entire system at risk. And then when increased pressure builds inside the pipes it makes them prone to cracking. Let’s discuss how to prevent frozen pipes this winter.

You certainly don’t want to deal with a burst pipe during a freezing winter spell! There’s so much damage a frozen pipe can cause. For instance, an 1/8-inch crack can release 250 gallons of water per day. Flooding can lead to mold and to very costly structural damage. You should take every precaution possible to prevent this disaster from happening. Do you know how to avoid frozen pipes? We’ve got a few tips to keep you ahead of a winter disaster.

A few preventive measures will keep your pipes moving and above freezing, even when temperatures fall.

Open your faucets

If you are expecting freezing temperatures, open the water faucets in your home, just a little, to allow a slow, constant drip. This will keep your pipes warm and reduce the pressure.

Open cabinet doors

Expose the pipes under your bathroom and kitchen sinks. They are prone to freezing and by opening the doors warm air will reach them.

Open the air vents

Avoid cold zones as much as possible. If all the air vents are open warm air can blow into every room.

Protect outdoor faucets

Drain and close off all outdoor faucets. Disconnect any water hoses that are still attached outdoors. Use faucet covers. They provide insulation and protection from falling ice.

Keep the furnace on low

Leaving town? Be sure you program your furnace to continue running. If your house gets too cold, a burst pipe may greet you upon your return home.

Protect Outdoor Faucets from Freezing

You’ll want to implement these low-cost, temporary fixes when temperatures begin to drop. If you notice ice crystals on your indoor pipes, use a hair dryer on a low setting to melt the ice. If you lose power and the weather is sub-zero,  insulate and cover your most vulnerable pipes immediately.

Longer-term solutions, although certainly more expensive, can give you even more security and protect your pipes from freezing for many years.

Try these permanent solutions to prevent frozen pipes:

  • Insulate your crawl space
  • Replace standard outdoor faucets
  • Insulate the walls
  • Repair exterior wall cracks
  • Reroute the pipes

While you cannot prevent icy weather, you can protect your pipes with these temporary or long lasting methods. If you have questions about which measures will work best for your pipes, contact a professional plumber.

Unclog a Toilet Without a Plunger

When you notice your toilet is not flushing well or not filling up with water, you usually reach for a plunger. In most homes, this is a standard tool with very little difficulty to use. But what happens if you don’t have one handy? It may sound impossible, but there are ways you can try to unclog a toilet without a plunger. Read on for some doable tricks and tips to try before you run to the store to snag a toilet tool.

STEP 1: Cut the water to the toiletIllustration of a cartoon stick figure looking perplexed at an overflowing toilet

Always start with stopping the water flow to the clogged toilet. Remove the lid and pull up the float to stop water, then shut off the water at the valve on the wall.

STEP 2: Pour in hot (NOT BOILING) water a little bit at a time

Before you start, remove some water with a bucket or cup if the toilet is very very close to overflowing. If not, start pouring in very hot water a few cups at a time from the sink or tub. The hot water can loosen the clog in the toilet.

STEP 3: Try adding dish soap or shampoo to the hot water

If plain hot water doesn’t do the trick, add a little surfactant like dish soap, shampoo or even bar soap. To do this, remove as much water as you can from the toilet bowl and add in a generous amount of soap in the toilet. If you are using bar soap, break it into smaller pieces and repeat pouring in hot water. This works by lubricating the clog and pipes so the blockage can move, allowing you to unclog a toilet without a plunger.

STEP 4: Use a wire hanger as a plunger replacement

If both of these options still leave you clogged, you may need to try to physically move the clog. Grab a wire hanger and try to “plunge” the toilet with the toilet cleaning brush. If the clog is almost cleared, a few forceful pumps of the brush and hanger could generate enough pressure to move it through the pipes.

STEP 5: Reverse course – buy the plunger

Is the water you’re pouring into the toilet is draining freely? Can you turn the water back on at the valve and flush the toilet again? If you used a surfactant, can you flush several times to remove residue? If yes, great, but if not, head to the store to purchase a plunger.

For plumbing problems that you can’t solve on your own, call the professionals at Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010.

Electric Blanket Safety

Cooler weather is here! You can enjoy warm sweaters, fuzzy socks and  . . . your electric blanket. But, is it safe to use?  Follow these simple electric blanket safety “dos and don’ts” to ensure you don’t create an unsafe situation in your home.

Electric Blanket Safety: DO!

  • Select an electric blanket that follows the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) standards. They have been testing products and establishing standards for more than 100 years.
  • Place the blanket over you, not under you, so you do not damage the blanket’s internal coils. Keep items away from the blanket that confine heat to escape such as books, technology and stuffed animals.
  • Lay the heated area of the electric blanket flat instead of folding or balling it up so the heat doesn’t become too hot.
  • Keep pets off electric blankets, especially while on. A sharp claw or animal’s tooth could puncture the cord insulation or damage the wires.
  • Only loosely wrap the control cords around the blanket when preparing for storage.
  • Immediately turn off and unplug the blanket if you see smoke or smell something burning. Notice any blanket discoloration which could indicate melting or burning inside elements.
  • Keep the electric blanket turned off when no one is using it. Most models have no temperature control, so they will not automatically turn off if they overheat.
  • Call the manufacturer with any questions – especially if your blanket starts operating improperly. Examples include: one area of the blanket becomes overheated, or you see a burn mark on the blanket. If you can’t resolve the problem, discontinue using the blanket.

Image of a folded electric blanket

Electric Blanket Safety: DON’T!

  • Don’t use electric blankets on babies or young children, people with disabilities, or anyone who cannot operate the blanket’s heating controls independently.
  • Don’t use an electric blanket all night unless it is designed for safe overnight use.
  • Don’t run the power cord under the mattress when using the electric blanket in bed. It could damage or heat up the cord so hot that it causes a fire.
  • Don’t twist or bend the control cords since this could damage them. This also means you shouldn’t use electric blankets with adjustable hospital beds or sofa sleepers where the cords could become pinched in the bed-folding mechanisms.
  • Don’t use an electric blanket if you are sleeping on a waterbed.
  • Don’t combine an electric blanket and a heated mattress pad. Using them together could cause overheating and start a fire.
  • Don’t wash an electric blanket. The motions of the washing machine will most likely cause damage to the internal coils.
  • Don’t iron the blanket because it could melt the cord insulation.
  • Don’t send out your electric blanket for dry cleaning. Solvents used in the dry cleaning process could damage the cord insulation.

This may seem like using an electric blanket comes more rules than they are worth, but most of them are fairly common sense. If you use your electric blanket safely you’ll enjoy the added warmth and coziness they bring during a cold winter.

If you have concerns about electrical safety in your home, then call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010.

Common Dishwasher Problems Solved

It’s a major headache when your dishwasher stops working. Dishwashers save time and are convenient for families, especially at the holidays! We have listed some of the common dishwasher problems and plumbing issues with ideas for how to fix them yourself.

How to Prevent Common Dishwasher Problems

Even when your dishwasher is problem-free, it’s a good idea to pay attention to the way it operates. Here are some dishwasher plumbing maintenance tips that could prevent a problem from occurring down the line.

  1. Make sure you are using the right kind of dish detergent, because the wrong type of detergent can clog the Image of upset man as dishwasher overflows with soap behind himdrain in your dishwasher. The manufacturer’s directions will tell you which kinds of detergent you can use before you try a new kind.
  2. Listen to the dishwasher while it’s on. If you know what your dishwasher sounds like when it’s working correctly, a problem arising will get your attention more quickly. Identifying one early is always best. Humming or clanking sounds might indicate a problem with the drainpipe or the motor.
  3. Pay attention when you are loading the dishwasher. Anyone can run into issues loading the dishwasher, especially if they’re in a hurry. Overloading and arranging dished haphazardly are common mistakes. Check the appliance manual for instructions about loading your dishwasher if you are ever unsure.

The Dishes Aren’t Clean

There are a few different situations that could cause your dishes to not get clean. Here are some factors to consider.

  • Is the float switch dirty? If so, the solution may be a bit tricky and you may need to call a professional. You will need to take the dishwasher apart and clean the float switch and the surrounding components. The switch might also just be stuck, which is something worth checking out.
  • Are you using the wrong detergent? Again, check the manufacturer’s instructions regarding what kind of dish soap you should be using. Sometimes, a fix as simple as changing the dish soap can cure the problem! It is really important you use the correct detergent because it can lead to other issues as well.

The Dishwasher Won’t Drain

Is the dishwasher draining? If not, try these steps to identify the problem.

  • Check to see if there are any blockages at the bottom of the machine. Sometimes food or utensils can fall in and block the drain.
  • Inspect the drain hose. Check for any kinks in the hose or if the garbage disposal is too full. If so, your dishwasher’s ability to drain might be impacted.

Still Having Dishwasher Plumbing Problems?

These tips can certainly go a long way toward helping you keep your dishwasher running well. If you need additional guidance, you might consider reaching out to a plumbing professional. Call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010 for professional assistance.

DIY Plumbing Tools and Gadgets

Household plumbing repairs can be expensive and time-consuming. It’s important to contact a professional plumber to fix the big problems, but small clogs and leaks are often DIY fixes. Having a well-stocked toolkit with plumbing tools and gadgets can make even the toughest DIY plumbing projects hassle-free, cost-effective and straightforward.

Seven Must-Have DIY Plumbing Tools and Gadgets

When you’re ready to tackle common household plumbing issues, you’re going to need a set of quality plumbing tools to help you get the job done quickly and correctly, with the least amount of strain and mess possible.

Most plumbing tools and gadgets you need for basic fixes are affordable and easy to find at your local hardware store. Along with basic tools — like a hammer, tape measure, screwdriver kit, tape and a utility knife — you can these gadgets will help you tackle commons projects.

man plunges toilet and grimaces

Plunger

Every plumber knows to keep a plunger nearby for any type of plumbing mishap. It’s the first tool plumbers use to dislodge clogs from kitchen sinks, toilets, floor drains and tubs or showers. Use a plunger properly by forming a firm seal between the plunger and the drain, then pull upward in a controlled motion. This will release the clog and prevent it from moving farther down into your pipes.

Hand Auger

When a plunger doesn’t have the power needed to remove stubborn clogs, it’s ideal to have a hand auger. This tool is also known as a drain snake. Most augers are available in lengths reaching up to 25 feet long. They’re made of flexible steel for improved durability and strength to get rid of the toughest sink and shower clogs.

Closet Auger

Similar to a hand auger, a closet auger is specially designed to fit inside a toilet to clear difficult clogs.

Adjustable Wrench

An adjustable wrench helps you effortlessly remove and reattach hex-shaped compression nuts and supply line fittings. Consider buying an adjustable wrench in both 6″ and 10″ sizes for project flexibility. Find a quality product that holds firm and won’t slip under pressure.

Tongue and Groove Pliers

To quickly tighten, loosen, twist or remove parts, keep a pair of tongue and groove pliers available. These pliers have angled jaws, long handles and several adjustable positions for handling plumbing fixtures easily. Consider keeping two pliers available — one for stabilizing the fixture and the other to loosen or tighten it.

Hacksaw

For heavy-duty projects, use a hacksaw to smoothly cut through metal or plastic pipes and hardware. Keep extra blades around to easily switch out old, ineffective ones.

Basin Wrench

A basin wrench is best used for tightening and loosening the fasteners that secure sink faucets. This tool has a long handle and a swiveling jaw that can easily maneuver in narrow spaces behind sinks and hard-to-reach areas.

These plumbing tools and gadgets will help you tackle your home’s most common plumbing jobs. For projects that are bigger than small clogs and leads, call the professionals at Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010.