Improve Indoor Air Quality with HVAC Technology

Americans are spending an average of 90% of their time indoors! Therefore, indoor air pollution poses a major health risk. This is especially true for young children, older adults and people who have heart or lung diseases and spend even more time indoors. Fortunately, HVAC technology offers ways to improve indoor air quality and prevent air pollution.

What are some causes of indoor air pollution?Dust can cause indoor pollution

Dust and other fine particles from vehicle exhaust, boilers, construction, etc., can get indoors through windows, doors and other openings. They can also get drawn indoors through a building’s HVAC system. In addition, mold, pet hair, dander and dust mites can build up over time and contribute to indoor air pollution.

Air quality issues can develop if proper ventilation is lacking. Improper ventilation allows for the buildup of hazardous pollutants. Cigarette smoke, synthetic building materials, carpeting and furniture, personal care products, pesticides, cleaning solvents, air fresheners and dry-cleaned clothing, can all contain pollutants.

Then there are pathogens — viruses and bacteria that can linger and spread contagious illnesses. These pathogens can even be distributed throughout a building by the HVAC system or be recirculated through ductwork.

Additionally, some of the newer building features such as airtight construction and improved insulation can increase all of this indoor air pollution because it limits the flow of fresh air into the building.

Here are seven ways that HVAC technology can improve your home’s air quality.

1.  Use UVC technology

UVC is the most damaging type of solar radiation, but it is completely filtered out by the atmosphere and does not reach the earth’s surface. UVC-emitting lights are useful for air purification because it can kill virtually any microbe. Today, UVC is used in many healthcare facilities as part of air disinfection systems. It’s also used in other buildings where air quality and preventing the spread of illness is a concern, such as schools, offices, senior living facilities and large residential buildings.

2. Incorporate good ventilation design

A properly designed ventilation system reduces indoor air pollution by providing fresh air, controlling odors and eliminating contaminants.

3. Use VRF for humidity (and temperature) control

As part of your indoor air quality testing, you can use a humidity gauge to see if the humidity in your building is at a healthy level — between 30% and 50%. To maintain a good, consistent humidity level and temperature, consider a zoned HVAC technology called Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF).

4. Explore the HEPA filter option

While standard air conditioner and furnace filters do not remove pathogens like UVC does, these everyday filters still play an important role. High efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters are designed to reduce indoor air pollution by trapping 99.97% of dust, pollen and smoke particles.

5.  Clean the ductwork to reduce indoor air pollution

Whatever fine debris is floating in your building’s air can accumulate in the ductwork, thus impacting air quality. The particles in your ductwork can end up back in the air you breathe.  Clean your ductwork to help prevent

6.  Bring in a professional for mold remediation

By the time you learn you have mold in your air ducts, then the problem could already be widespread. Unchecked, mold is more than an air quality issue, it is a health issue. If your ductwork has been invaded by mold, it is crucial to call an HVAC professional for remediation ASAP. An HVAC professional will determine where and how the mold problem started, and help you resolve the underlying issue so that mold does not recur.

7. Stay on top of air quality with routine HVAC maintenance

Since the air that you breathe indoors is circulated by your HVAC system, it’s important to schedule regular inspections. Investing in routine HVAC maintenance, along with duct inspection and cleaning, helps you detect, prevent and eliminate sources of indoor air pollution.  This ensures that your HVAC system is performing properly.

For peace of mind and control of indoor air pollution, ask the professionals at Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical, about their Whole House Maintenance Agreement!

Heating and Air Affects Health

Heating and air is not something that we consider unless something is wrong, even though it is such an important aspect of our everyday comfort. Did you know heating and air can do much more than just change the temperature of our homes? It’s true – heating and air affects health.

There are many ways homeowners can maximize health and comfort with their heating and air systems. With smart heating and air solutions homeowners can:

  • Improve air quality for better peace of mind
  • Expect consistent heating and air performance no matter the system’s age
  • Keep heating and air from damaging the home
  • Help the heating and air system last longer and work better
  • Save money from expensive repairs

Heating and air affects indoor air qualityDusty filters can impact indoor air quality

Every day, we breathe in thousands of microscopic particles particles and pathogens in our own homes. Often, outdoor air is cleaner than the air inside our homes. Homeowners who regularly use their heating and air conditioning benefit from air filtration. This is because all indoor air passes through a filter installed in the heating and air system before it is conditioned.

The average home heating and air filter removes particles like:

  • Pet dander
  • Insects, fecal matter
  • Hair
  • Dust
  • And more

Depending on your home and preferences you can choose to upgrade your air filter to catch smaller particles including:

  • Bacteria
  • Viruses
  • Gasses, vapors and fumes

If you have a family that depends on high indoor air quality, consider an upgrade. It could benefit people in your family who might:

  • Be sick
  • Have allergies
  • Suffer from asthma
  • Battle respiratory issues

Work with your HVAC contractors to determine how to fortify your home against poor indoor air. Reliable heating and air should be the last worry homeowners have. No matter what time of the year it is, homeowners should always have:

  • Reliable heating and air conditioning
  • Accurate temperature control
  • High indoor air quality
  • Low heating and air bills
  • Peace of mind

Maintenance Matters

Homeowners invest in heating and air and we expect our central air systems to deliver, but how can you maximize your heating and air systems to deliver these results?

The answer is regular maintenance.  The reason why heating and air technicians recommend regular maintenance is because it works.

Regular heating and air maintenance prevents most repairs and damages. Once your technician is through, you can expect:

  • Proper and efficient heating and air operation
  • Reliable heating and air service
  • A clean and safe heating and air system
  • Improved indoor air quality
  • Improved energy efficiency
  • Fewer heating and repairs, if any
  • A longer lasting heating and air system

The main reason we use heating and air is to control the temperature of our homes and some homeowners do not know just how temperature changes can affect their home and health.

If heating and air is too dry:

  • Furnishing loses shine and luster
  • Instruments warp out of tune
  • Wood splinters and cracks
  • Paint peels
  • Skin, hair, nails, eyes and nasal passages dehydrate

In short, dry heating and air causes trouble.

Additionally, heating and air that is too dry or moist also manipulates the feeling of temperature, so even though the thermostat reads a certain temperature, your air may not feel like it. As a result, homeowners generally change the temperature until they feel what they want. This causes large energy spending, longer heating and air cycles and other inconveniences.

Fortunately, there is a solution for chronically dry heating and air. Your HVAC technicians can install a central humidifier. They analyze the home, take measurements and determine just how much moisture the air needs. As a result, the balance of your heating and air is restored.

If you have concerns about how your heating and air affects health, then contact the professionals at Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 1.800.461.3010.

Cold Weather Home Maintenance

Temperatures have been cold across most of the country this month. You may be waiting until spring to tackle big home improvement projects, but here are some easy cold weather home maintenance tasks to consider.  Many of these jobs can be done yourself, but in some cases you will want to enlist a professional’s help.

1. Check Your HVAC System

It’s a good idea to do some basic maintenance to help keep your heating system working at optimal capacity. Check your filters, and change them if they look dirty. Filters should be replaced at least every three months. It’s also a good idea to have your HVAC system cleaned and checked by your heating professional.

2. Fill Gaps Around Windows and Doors

Drafts around windows and doors can leave you feeling cold, and they could be wasting energy as your HVAC system works harder to warm that cool air. Apply caulk around the window trim to seal off any drafts. You can also install weatherstripping around edges of doors and windows to create a tight seal. Another DIY tip is to make a simple door draft blocker to help keep heat from escaping under your door.Warm and cozy home

Adding insulation can also lower your utility bill, make your home more environmentally friendly and ensure that you stay nice and toasty! Since heat rises, most of the heat loss in your home escapes through your roof. To fight the cold, add an extra layer of insulation in your attic. Consider adding layers of insulation in your basement or garage to prevent heat loss from these areas as well. You can also insulate your garage door for extra protection.

3. Test the Sump Pump

As water drains from under and around your home, your sump pump pushes it out of the house and away from the foundation. You can consult your sump pump’s owner’s manual and perform some basic maintenance and regular testing yourself. Also have a professional inspect your sump pump each year.

4. Inspect Your Chimney and Fireplace

If you want to enjoy a warm fire this winter, be sure to get your chimneys, vents and fireplace cleaned first. A professional chimney sweep can clean and inspect your fireplace and chimney. If you have a gas fireplace, your chimney and flue should be inspected for any blockages. A professional will also inspect the gas lines and vents for leaks and can make necessary repairs.

6. Turn Off Outside Faucets

In cold weather, water in exterior pipes can freeze and cause pipes to burst. So, before the temperatures reach freezing disconnect garden hoses from outdoor faucets. If your exterior faucets have shutoff valves, turn them off. Then, release any water remaining in the pipe by opening and closing the outside tap. You can also help protect exterior faucets with an insulated cover.

These cold weather home maintenance tips will help keep your home warm and energy efficient this winter.  If you need professional assistance, be sure and call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 1.800.461.3010.

Find out why your toilet keeps clogging

Get to the bottom of what is causing your toilet to clog once and for all. There are a few reasons your toilet keeps clogging. The following reasons could help you put down the plunger for good! Plunging is only a temporary fix so it’s important to find the root cause of the clogs.

Here are some common scenarios that might explain your returning toilet clogs.

Old toilet

If your toilet is older, it may not be able to handle a lot of flushes. By upgrading your toilet, you can ensure it is working properly and is updated to current standards. Newer toilets are designed to flush with a significant reduction in water usage while still clearing the toilet bowl completely.

Valve issues

Check the fill valve to ensure it is working properly. The fill valve is a mechanism inside the toilet tank that ensures there is enough water to flush. When the tank doesn’t fill with enough water, clogs become more common.

Flapper not opening completely

The flapper is the part of your toilet that lets water flow from the tank on the back down into the toilet bowl, creating the flush. If the flapper doesn’t fully open it won’t release enough water and you’ll get a weak flush. Clogs are common in toilets with a weak flush.

To fix it adjust the chain in the tank that connects the flapper to the flush handle. That way, the flapper opens completely when you flush.

Pipe blockages

Sometimes you can have a block in the pipes beyond the toilet. These blockages are most likely caused by flushing things that shouldn’t be flushed like a toothbrush or razor that fell into the toilet. These items will slowly be collecting debris and ultimately cause a clog.

Other common things people flush – sometimes accidentally – that cause clogs include:

  • Feminine products
  • Facial tissues
  • Cotton swabs/Q-tips
  • Dental floss
  • Diapers

Sewage line issues

A major sewer line problem somewhere in your neighborhood could be the reason why your toilet keeps clogging. Broken pipes, tree roots growing into the sewer line, or corroded metal pipes are all common causes of sewer line issues. There isn’t much homeowners can do to prevent these types of damage. However, regular sewer line maintenance and inspections can help uncover small issues before they become big, expensive problems.

Plumbing vent issues

If your plumbing vent is blocked or damaged you can get a clog. The plumbing vent removes gas from the plumbing system and helps the pipes maintain proper pressure. If your plumbing vent was damaged or is being blocked, this could cause the toilet to flush with little force.

Something stuck in the trap

The “trap” is an S-shaped tube that separates your toilet from the drain line (and keeps nasty sewer gases from getting into your home). If something unflushable was flushed down the toilet, it could be stuck in this trap. Each time you flush, more debris gets wrapped around this object, eventually leading to a clog.

man plunges toilet and grimaces

A plunger can solve the problem by sending all the debris down the sewer drain, but the object stays in the trap because its shape makes it difficult to get through the S-curve.

To fix this, you must take the toilet off the floor and get to it from the bottom. This is a pain, so make sure you’ve eliminated other possible causes. Many people would rather call a plumber because mistakes can lead to bigger problems and higher costs.

If you decide to pursue this task on your own, make sure you replace the wax ring on the bottom of your toilet if you remove the toilet from the floor. This is the seal that keeps wastewater from leaking into your home.

If all else fails …

You’ll probably have to pull up the toilet. This job will take several hours. The steps involve turning off and unhooking the water supply, partially disassembling the toilet, and unscrewing it from its mounting ring. At that point, you can usually get at the problem. Be sure to buy a new wax ring and new mounting bolts to reseal the toilet base.

Remember, if other drains in your home are plugged, or if water comes up through them, the problem is probably farther down in the main drain pipes and usually out of easy reach.

If your toilet keeps clogging and the DIY fixes aren’t working, then contact the professionals at Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 1.800.461.3010!

Best Electric Fireplace Benefits

Electric fireplaces are an attractive, much more cost-effective alternative to a wood-burning fireplace. Some of the best electric fireplace benefits are their safety features, impressive heat output and energy efficiency.  Electric models provide a significant amount of heat for small spaces.  They also reduce the need to run the furnace at full speed and save money on energy bills.

Person operates electric fireplace with remote control

What is an Electric Fireplace?

An electric fireplace is an electric heater that has the look of a fireplace, with realistic-looking flames.  They are much sturdier than your average space heater. They work by drawing in the cool air in a room, heating the air using internal heating coils, and then forcing the warm air back out using a fan system.

Are Electric Fireplaces Safe?

There is no need to worry! While improper use and other safety issues can arise with any electric appliance, these units are actually very safe. In fact, many people choose an electric fireplace over traditional gas and wood-burning options.

Electric fireplaces require virtually no maintenance. Since there is no real fire, you don’t have to worry about dangerous smoke or fumes. This makes them an ideal choice for the safety-conscious and for anyone dealing with allergies or breathing sensitivities. If any troubleshooting is required, it won’t involve climbing on the roof or calling a chimney sweep.

Electric Fireplace Safety Tips

When it comes to electric fireplace safety, it’s a little less intimidating than traditional space heaters. Electric fireplaces are sturdier than space heaters, making them nearly impossible to knock over. However, it’s important to follow safety guidelines.

For instance:

  • Keep surrounding objects at a safe distance – Your electric fireplace heater should be clear of objects such as blankets, electronics, furniture or toys. Leave at least three feet of clear space in all directions. Never place anything on top of your electric fireplace.
  • Avoid touching the surface – The surfaces of your electric fireplace can become hot to the touch during use. It’s best not to touch it at all when in use.
  • Do not leave children or pets unattended – Accidents can happen when it involves small kids or animals. Don’t leave them unattended when your electric fireplace is in use.
  • Use your unit inside – Electric fireplace heaters are designed to be used indoors only.
  • Make sure your outlets are safe – Never plug your electric fireplace into an outlet you suspect is unsafe, nor use a cord or plug that is frayed or damaged. If you’re unsure of the safety of your electric system, consider an electrical safety inspection.
  • Unplug the unit when not in use – For precautionary reasons, always unplug your electric fireplace heater when it’s not in use.
  • Never modify the unit – Modifying an electric fireplace can be very dangerous. Always consult the owner’s manual when problems come up. Hire a qualified electrician to do any repairs or modifications.

Installation Options

In most cases, you can put your unit anywhere in your home you want to enjoy the best electric fireplace benefits. Depending on the model you choose, the unit can be mounted to the wall, set on a TV stand or installed into the wall. You can use electric fireplaces on most types of flooring, including carpet. Because it’s an electric appliance, keep it away from liquids, especially while the unit is turned on. Overall, these units are safe.

If you are unsure if an electric fireplace is right for your home contact an electrical professional from Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010!

Do bath bombs cause drain clogs?

Tossing a fizzy, colorful bath bomb into your tub can transform your bathroom into a stress-relieving spa. It’s a great way to unwind after a long, hard day. But, be cautious, because bath bombs cause drain clogs.

Knowing the danger of using bath bombs and what you can do to prevent problems can help you take care of your bathtub drains.pink bath bomb in tub can cause drain clog

So just how do bath bombs cause drain clogs?

The answer lies in the ingredients, which can vary greatly.

Bath bombs typically consist of salts, scent and oils designed to create a fragrant, relaxing and colorful bathing experience. They may include:

  • Epsom salt and baking soda, that typically dissolve in water.
  • Other common additives—including essential oils, cornstarch, cocoa butter, bits of flowers, and even glitter, which do not dissolve well. These additives leave behind residue that may stick to the inside of your pipes. Oils often solidify as they cool, and cornstarch can harden in pipe elbows or curves as it dries.
  • Over time, bath bomb remains may collect soap, hair, and other substances, eventually leading to nasty clogs.

Can you have your bath bombs and clean pipes, too?

You may be happy to hear that you can have your bath scents and keep your pipes running in the right direction!

1. Use barriers to prevent ingredients from going down the drain.

  • Ideally, your tub stopper should include a strainer to keep out large objects.
  • For more protection, place the bath bomb in a nylon sock and tie it shut before putting in the water. The nylon will allow the good stuff to disperse in the water, while keeping most of the clog starters contained.

2.  If you have your heart set on floating petals and glitter confetti, use sparingly and be prepared for a little extra work.

  • Before draining the water, use a fine mesh net to catch solid material.
  • If possible, temporarily remove the stopper and add an extra layer to the strainer by covering it with nylon material or mesh screen. You may need to weigh the strainer down as the water drains.

3.  Immediately after using bath bombs, flush your drain thoroughly with very hot water, or use a vinegar and baking soda mix to help break up residue before it can settle.

  • Pour 1 cup of baking soda in the drain.
  • Add 1-2 cups white vinegar.
  • Cover the drain and let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes.
  • Flush with hot water.

Never mix bath bombs and hot tubs

In the case of a hot tub, bath bombs can do more than just a little damage. Bath bombs can destroy the functionality of your hot tub in just a few uses. Small pieces found inside bath bombs can destroy the jets and cause devastating clogs. Before adding any substances that are not specifically designed for hot tub use, check the hot tub manufacturer’s recommendations. You may void your warranty if you don’t follow their guidelines.

Get professional help if your drains are slow

If you’ve been using bath bombs regularly and you’ve noticed that your tub is draining much slower than usual, you probably already have a clog. Although you might get lucky with a home remedy, your best bet is to call a professional to clear your drain.  Call the professionals at Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical for expert assistance – 1.800.461.3010.

Best Water Heater Temperature

Whether you’re taking a shower or doing dishes, being stuck on the wrong water temperature is no fun. If you’re frustrated that you can’t seem to get the shower as warm enough, or because it feels like the water is at a painfully scalding temperature, you can do something about it. Achieve the best water heater temperature safely and correctly—whether you have a gas water heater or an electric model. You don’t have to settle for a water heater that runs too hot or too cold.

When setting the temperature – know the risks.

Yes, something as simple as a water heater can be dangerous! There are risks in both the process of adjusting the water heater and the problem of water temperature that isn’t right. Any time you are dealing with electricity and water there is risk. To protect yourself, be sure to follow any instructions for adjusting the temperature carefully and call on  professionals if you aren’t sure what to do.

As for the water heater setting, it’s important to have the correct setting to avoid the following risks:

  • Bacterial contamination – If the water isn’t hot enough, it can be a breeding ground for bacteria.
  • Burns to the skin – If the water is too hot, it can result in scalding injuries to which children and the elderly are especially susceptible. At 150 degrees Fahrenheit, it takes less than two seconds to suffer third-degree burns. Anyone can be burned, but infants, young children, older adults and people with disabilities are more likely to experience burns, and require serious care and recovery.

What is the right temperature setting for your water heater?Hot water and shower faucet

The recommendation from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is to set the temperature of your residential water heater at 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Bacteria are unlikely to survive at that temperature, and it is not hot enough to cause scalding. Also, at 120 degrees, your water heater will be able to supply enough hot water for your family while promoting energy efficiency.

However, depending on your home’s needs, you may require hotter water. Check with a plumbing professional for a recommendation if you aren’t sure.

Steps for how to set water heater temperature

1.  Turn off the power to the water heater at the circuit breaker panel.

2.  Find the dial or thermostat for your water heater. The location will vary depending on the model and type of  water heater you are using.  In most cases, you will find the dial behind an insulated panel. For an electric model, there are often two—one at the top of the tank and another at the bottom.

If you are trying to determine how to set a gas water heater temperature, you should find the dial near the bottom of the tank. The temperature for gas water heaters is easier to adjust because you only turn the knob counterclockwise to increase the temperature, or clockwise to decrease it.

For an electric model, you will need to access the dial behind the insulated panel. To do this, open the access panel using a flat-head screwdriver. Then, push aside the insulation covering and use the screwdriver to lower or raise the temperature to the desired range.

3.  If the water heater has two thermostats, make sure both are set to the same temperature.

4.  Replace the insulation and access panel once you are satisfied with the water temperature adjustment and restore power to the water heater.

5.  Always test the water temperature after adjusting the dial to ensure it is at a safe and appropriate temperature. Allow the water to heat to the new temperature setting, then run water from the tap at a sink or tub until it is hot. Catch some water in a cup and test the temperature with a cooking thermometer.

Next Steps

Keep in mind it may take as long as an hour for the water to reach the new temperature after having the unit shut down.  Again, working with water and electricity can be dangerous, so it’s a good idea to call an expert.  Call the professionals at Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 1.800.461.3010. for assistance.

Home Electrical Safety Checklist

Electricity is a modern convenience that most of us could not live without.  But along with the convenience, also comes some risk.  How much do you know about home electrical safety?  According to the National Fire Protection Association, “electrical failures or malfunctions were the second leading cause of U.S. home fires in 2012-2016.”  Below is a checklist to help ensure your home’s electrical safety.

Cords and plugs

  • Check all cords, plugs, surge protectors and extension cords for frayed casing, exposed wire or broken parts. Replace right away.It can be dangerous to overuse power strips and extension cords
  • Never run extension cords under carpets or over door thresholds.
  • Don’t use an extension cord as a permanent fixture. If you need additional outlets, contact a licensed electrician to install some wherever you require.
  • Do not overload one outlet with several high-wattage or heat-producing devices, for example a space heater or coffee maker.
  • Plugs should fit snugly into outlets. So, if yours do not, contact a licensed electrician.
  • Major appliances – washers, dryers, refrigerators, stoves, air conditioners, hot water heaters, etc. – should be plugged directly into a wall outlet. Do not use surge protectors, plug strips or extension cords.

Lighting

  • Only use light bulbs at or below the maximum wattage listed on your lamp or light.
  • Always place lamps on a flat, level surface and at least a foot from anything flammable like curtains.

Appliances

  • Place heat-producing appliances such as the toaster, heater and coffee maker away from flammable or combustible goods.
  • Unplug kitchen countertop and bathroom appliances when not in use.
  • Keep your kitchen exhaust fan clean and free of grease, lint and other blockages.
  • Never use a portable heater in the bathroom. The only safe options are a ceiling unit or strip heater placed up high.
  • If you use portable or space heaters, make sure they receive a seal of approval from a nationally-recognized testing laboratory.

Extra Safety Considerations

  • If you have young children, consider installing tamper-resistant electrical outlets. Always use a licensed electrician.
  • Ask a licensed electrician about installing arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs) in your home. They are a special type of circuit breaker that shuts off the current when dangerous conditions arise.
  • Ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) are another type of circuit breaker, and these help reduce the risk of electric shock by switching off the circuit if it becomes hazardous. Most importantly, a licensed electrician should install GFCIs in your garage, basement, kitchen, bath and all outdoor outlets.
  • Test AFCIs and GFCIs at least once per month.
  • If you need to dig, always dial 811 to have your underground lines marked.

Contact a licensed electrician if you have any concerns about the electrical safety of your home or are planning home improvement projects.  Call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 1.800.461.3010.

Carbon Monoxide Safety Tips

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas produced by the incomplete burning of any carbon-containing material, like gasoline, natural gas, propane, coal or wood. CO is dangerous. It replaces oxygen in the blood and interferes with the transport of needed oxygen to cells in the body. It is deadly, and since symptoms often come on like other illnesses, they may be ignored. It’s important to educate yourself on carbon monoxide safety.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning

Everyone, including pets are at risk; however, young children, the elderly, and those with heart or lung problems are particularly vulnerable.  Low levels can cause flu-like symptoms, such as nausea and headache, as well as shortness of breath. Moderate levels can cause dizziness and light-headedness. High levels of CO can be fatal within minutes of exposure.  Carbon monoxide can be present even if you’re not experiencing any symptoms. So when you hear the alarm, you should take action regardless of how everyone in your household feels.

What to do if you suspect CO poisoning

If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning and people and pets in your home aren’t feeling well, it’s best to evacuate. Leave the door open for ventilation and contact the fire department immediately. If the alarm sounds, even if you and your family are symptom-free, contact the fire department anyway to be safe.

Carbon Monoxide Safety Tips

Many incidents involving carbon monoxide poisoning can be prevented. Below are seven tips to help keep your home and family safe from carbon monoxide.

1.  Know the risks.

Anything that burns a fuel including a furnace, fireplace or generator, gas appliance or car produces a toxic by-product called carbon monoxide (CO).  When these devices are properly maintained and vented this gas can be effectively channeled out of your home. If not, inhaling carbon monoxide can trigger serious health issues.

2.  Keep your vents clear.

During and after a storm, make sure nothing is obstructing the outside stack or vent for your dryer, stove, furnace and fireplace.  In the event of a snow storm, be sure to prevent snow from building up and blocking these areas.

3.  Do not run engines in a closed area. 

Proper ventilation is critical to avoiding CO poisoning. Do not start a car, fire up a grill or stove, or run a generator in a closed area like a basement or garage.

4.  Schedule regular maintenance. 

At least once a year, have a qualified professional inspect your fuel-burning devices to make sure they continue to operate properly.

5.  Keep fireplaces clean and well vented. 

If you have a wood-burning fireplace or stove, make sure you keep it clean and that the flue is working properly.carbon monoxide alarms are an important safety device

6.  Install CO alarms. 

If you have fuel-burning appliances, a fireplace or an attached garage, install CO alarms in your home. Install one on every level within the vicinity of each sleeping area and in other locations required by any applicable building codes.

7.  Maintain your CO alarms. 

Your CO alarms need to be maintained regularly.  Many come equipped with a battery backup to ensure uninterrupted operation, even if the power goes out. But you will need to remember to change your batteries at the frequency recommended by the manufacturer, like you do with your smoke detectors.

To schedule an inspection of your HVAC system to make sure it is safe and properly ventilated, contact Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 1.800.361.4010.

Garbage Disposals – a Do and Don’t List

Garbage disposals are a convenient way to manage food waste in your kitchen. With proper maintenance you can avoid clogged drains and stinky, costly repairs. Treat your garbage disposal well, and it will treat you well! Below we share some tips on how to keep your disposal working smoothly for many years and minimize the likelihood that you’ll need to call for plumbing or drain cleaning services.

Proper maintenance and operation will extend the life of your garbage disposal and prevent plumbing and drain mishaps.

DO Follow these Tips . . .

  • Keep your garbage disposal clean. Pour a little dish soap inside and let the garbage disposal run for a minute or so with cold water after washing dishes.
  • Run your garbage disposal regularly. Frequent use prevents rust and corrosion, assures that all parts stay moving and prevents obstructions from accumulating.
  • Grind food waste with a strong flow of cold water. Using cold water will cause any grease or oils that may get into the unit to solidify, so that they can be chopped up before reaching the trap.
  • Grind certain hard materials such as small chicken and fish bones, egg shells and small fruit pits. A scouring action is created by these materials that cleans the unit.
  • Cut large items into smaller pieces. Add them into the garbage disposal one at a time instead of trying to push through a large amount at once.

DON’T Dare . . .

Water runs smoothly through a clean garbage disposal

Only put biodegradable food in garbage disposals. These appliances are not trash cans! Non-food items can damage both blades and the motor.

When in doubt, throw it out!

  • Don’t grind glass, plastic, metal or paper.
  • Don’t grind anything combustible.
  • Don’t grind cigarette butts
  • Don’t pour grease, oil or fat into your garbage disposal or drain.
  • Don’t use hot water when grinding food waste. Hot water will cause grease to liquefy and accumulate, causing drains to clog.
  • Don’t grind extremely fibrous material like corn husks, celery stalks, onion skins, and artichokes. Fibers from these can tangle and jam the garbage disposal motor and block drains .
  • Don’t turn off the motor or water until grinding is completed. Then, turn off the garbage disposal first. Let water continue to run for at least 15 seconds to flush out any remaining particles. Then turn off water.
  • Don’t put large amounts of food down the garbage disposal. Feed food into the garbage disposal a little at a time with the cold water running.
  • Don’t put expandable foods into your garbage disposal such as pasta and rice. They expand when you add water in a pot and do the same thing once inside your pipes or garbage disposal.
  • Avoid putting coffee grounds down the garbage disposal. They won’t harm the unit and they’ll help eliminate odors, but they can accumulate in drains and pipes, causing clogs.
  • Don’t use harsh chemicals like bleach or drain cleaners. They can damage blades and pipes. Opt for a natural sink cleaner and sanitizer.

Ice is an extremely effective and inexpensive method for cleaning your garbage disposal, sharpening the blades and breaking up any grease build-up which has accumulated. A few ice cubes tossed in the garbage disposal which it’s running will chop the ice and scour all the hard to reach areas of the unit. Try this once or twice a month to keep your garbage disposal in good working order.

Keep Smells at Bay

Here are some natural methods to clean your garbage disposal that are good for the environment and are very inexpensive.

  • Take a lemon or orange and toss it into the disposal. The oils and juice from the fruits and peels naturally clean the walls inside the garbage disposal and create a fresh, long-lasting scent.
  • Freeze vinegar in ice cube trays and run those down the disposal. This will keep your blades sharp while safely killing odor-causing bacteria.
  • For stubborn odors pour baking soda into the drain and let it set for several hours before running the water and disposal.
  • For really stubborn odors, use a safe, natural cleaning product like Borax. Just pour 3-4 tablespoons of Borax down the drain and let it sit for an hour. Then turn on the hot water and flush the cleanser away.

Troubleshooting

Most garbage disposals that appear not to be working just need to be reset. There is usually a red or black reset button on the garbage disposal motor underneath your sink. Just push to reset. If the garbage disposal is plugged into a wall outlet, ensure the outlet has power. If that doesn’t work, check for a blown fuse or tripped circuit breaker.

If the reset doesn’t work, then we are here to help!  Contact Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Heating, & Plumbing at 1.800.461.3010 to schedule a visit with a plumbing expert.