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.

Spring Plumbing Checklist

Spring is on its way and for homeowners it’s often an opportunity for home improvement projects, cleaning and updating.  Longer days and warmer temperatures may motivate you to get started on major projects. Before diving in, complete our spring plumbing checklist. The last thing you want to overlook is a costly broken pipe or leak that puts all those dream projects on hold.

Check for cracks and leaks

Before taking on a makeover, start by inspecting your plumbing for cracks, leaks or other damage that might have occurred during winter. Doing high-level evaluation helps, but you want to make sure everything is working properly.

Bathroom Tasks

In the bathroom be sure to clean your shower head. Since the shower gets used every day grime and soap scum build up and tend to slow water flow. For the easiest way to clean your shower head, attach to the shower head a bag filled with vinegar and baking soda and secure it with a rubber band. Remove the bag after an hour and let the shower run until the vinegar smell is gone.

While you are in the bathrooms don’t forget to check your toilets for leaks. To do this, put food coloring in the toilet’s water tank. After 20-30 minutes check to see if the water in the bowl is colored. If it is you have a leak that needs to be addressed.

Water Heater

Water heater checks are also important so you can stay ahead of leaks and corrosion. Your water heater is usually set at 120 degrees, but if you turned it up in winter you’ll want to check it when you turn it back down. If you notice moisture, rust or corrosion around the control panel you’ll want to call a plumber for a second opinion. Also remember that the lifespan of most water heaters is only 10 years. If yours is older continue to inspect it on a regular basis. Sediment will likely build up in your water heater over time. This can affect efficiency of the unit which will use more energy to heat water. Inevitably this will cost you more money every month.

Outside

Head outdoors for the next part of our plumbing checklist. Outside there are plenty of opportunities for clean up and improvement as spring approaches.  You can start with cleaning your gutters. During winter debris such as pine needles, twigs, leaves and other debris gather in your gutters, This. can cause drainage issues and leaks inside your home if they aren’t cleaned out.

If you are working in your garden or lawn check for leaks in outdoor spigots and sprinklers. Cold temperatures can cause outside water sources and pipes to freeze and crack causing leaks when you turn on your outside water for spring. If you find any leaks fix them right away so they don’t become worse.  Likewise check for leaks under your sinks and with any supply hoses. Freezing temperatures can also make your indoor water fixtures susceptible to leaks. Be sure to check the parts to your washing machine and dishwasher and look for water, corrosion, mold and rust.

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

HVAC Myths Dispelled

When it comes to HVAC systems how do you know what’s a myth and what’s true about maintenance and services? Let’s take a look at a few of the most common HVAC myths and dispel them so you know how to make the best decisions to keep your systems working efficiently.

HVAC Myths Dispelled

MYTH: Your filter only needs changing only once a year.

TRUTH: This is a myth and a big mistake! Change your filter every 30 days and if you have a lot of pets that produce a lot of dander and fur around the house, change out more often. This will keep your system much more efficient.

 

MYTH: Having the biggest system is always the best.

TRUTH: Actually, bigger is not always better when it comes to an HVAC system. In fact, if you have a system that is too large for your home, it can be much less efficient and less effective in removing humidity. It’s best to have a professional decide on the right size HVAC unit for your home.

 

MYTH: You don’t need to maintain your HVAC system unless it’s broken.

TRUTH: Regular maintenance on your HVAC system is crucial. This will prevent large and expensive problems and ensure that your system is working properly. Maintenance with an HVAC specialist will save you costly and major repairs down the road.

 

MYTH: It’s easy to find air leaks in your home.

TRUTH: It sounds simple to find an air leak around your home, but even some of the biggest leaks can be difficult to detect. It’s best to ask an HVAC service technician to find and properly seal leaks that are wasting energy and making your system inefficient. During your regular check, ask your technician to also check for leaks. This will ensure your system is running properly and efficiently.

 

MYTH: The best way to change the heat or cooling your home is to turn up the thermostat.

TRUTH: While your thermostat setting controls the temperature, your home may never reach that temperature, especially if your HVAC is not working optimally. If your HVAC system needs maintenance, if your home needs new insulation or there are serious leaks, the system will have a difficult time heating and cooling properly.

Hiring a professional

When you hire an HVAC company to help service your system, ask them to:

  • Evaluate if the size of your system is right for your home.
  • Replace a new HVAC system in your home if it’s determined that you need one.
  • Perform regular maintenance to prevent bigger problems and keep your system running efficiently.
  • Test for leaks that may be making your system inefficient.
  • Troubleshoot any other potential problems with your HVAC system.

It’s always best to ask your HVAC professional if you have a question about what’s true or a myth in maintaining and maximizing your home system. For expert assistance, call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010.

 

Choosing your toilet is a matter of comfort and cost

It’s an often overlooked centerpiece of your bathroom, but when it comes to choosing a toilet, you have many considerations to make. From an efficiency standpoint, 1.6 gallons per flush is the standard in the United States – higher and lower-end models will most likely use the same amount of water.  So what differentiates one stool from the next? When it comes down to it, it’s a matter of style and conveniences.

Gravity toilets vs. power-assist toilets

One decision you make when choosing a commode is whether to pick a gravity or a power-assist model. A gravity toilet, standard in many homes, allows only gravity to move waste to a sewer system. After flushing water from the tank fills the toilet and sends waste through the tubes for disposal. With a power-assist model, additional forced air helps do the job. What’s the difference? A compressor or pressure tank helps with power-assist toilets, instead of only relying on gravity. In this case water flows into a tank of compressed air which pressures the water to move when someone flushes.

Comfort and cost

As with many homeowner decisions, choosing a toilet model comes down to comfort and cost. And the more comfortable a toilet is, the higher its price tag. For instance, a higher-end model could include a bidet. It works by washing you with warm water. Some luxury models also include a heated seat or embedded antimicrobial properties.

Some luxe models also include:

  • Auto raise and lowering toilet seat covers
  • Music
  • Auto flush (powered by a sensor)

A slightly less expensive toilet might flush when you put the lid down or give you the option to use varied water amounts, using less for strictly liquids. Another option that is appealing to people who want easier cleaning, is to purchase a wall-mounted toilet.

When considering the purchase of a high-end commode, keep in mind that while custom seats and unusual flush mechanisms add a cool factor, replacing parts will cost you additional time and money.

A higher sitting stool can be more comfortable for taller and older people. American With Disabilities Act have heights of 17 – 19 inches instead of the standard 15 inches. Of course this will take some maneuvering if you have young children in the house.

Cost-savings

For cost-savings, there are many options such as a three-sided tank for smaller bathrooms. When faced with a small amount of floor space, homeowners can choose a toilet that can be cemented to a wall and house the tank within that wall. Toilets built in two pieces are some of the least expensive models, because it takes more work to mold everything together instead of assembling various parts separately. Color will also make a difference in the cost of your commode. Choosing a white toilet could cost as much as $150 less than a gray one.

Keep in mind that designer toilets are usually not friendly in a re-sale. Cushioned seats, colors and other luxury features are typically based on an individual’s taste and often in disagreement with someone else’s ideas of the perfect stool.

For all your plumbing needs, call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010.

Plumbing pipes are not invincible

Plumbing pipes are not invincible, although many homeowners do not often think about their age and condition. Pipes have a limited lifespan and depending on when your home was built, it may be time for an upgrade. Modern plumbing systems use copper, brass or PVC pipes. These materials have different lifespans and none are meant to last forever.

Eras of Pipe Materials

For instance, if your home was built before 1970, then it likely was part of the Galvanized Steel Age of piping. A house that was built even before then may put it in the Cast Iron Age ,which is usually pre-World War II. Materials such as iron and steel are durable, but they’re also no longer used for plumbing systems. Both materials have limitations, such as susceptibility to corrosion. Internal corrosion is what can lead to toxins like lead getting into the water supply and any corrosion also weakens pipes making them more likely for them to break.

In homes with 50+ year-old piping you may already have hidden leaks developing. With pipes at this age you may want to have leak detection done to point out any issues with the condition of your plumbing.

In the 1970s copper became the most common type of metal for plumbing. It was attractive because of its lower cost, lightweight and corrosion resistance. If your copper pipes are extremely old you may need partial repiping, but probably not whole-house repiping.

Pipes like those that were used in homes built  in the later 1970s and 1980s are made with one of the most popular types of plastic pipes, polybutylene – easily recognized by its gray color. Polybutylene was primarily the material of choice in the 1980s until it was discovered how easily it becomes brittle and breaks. Any polybutylene pipes in your house should be replaced with other types of plastic.

Other ways to determine if your pipes might need an upgrade are these signs of aging:

Water color

Discolored water coming out of the tap could be a sign that the water pipes are corroded and need to be replaced as soon as possible.

Unpleasant odors

Odors coming from plumbing fixtures could indicate a blockage in the sewer. Over time gases could build up over time and lead to sewer leaks that can affect your whole property.

Water stains

Staining that appears on walls and underneath plumbing pipes can indicate leaks.

Low water pressure

If your faucets are running lower than usual you could have a blockage in your plumbing system. A gradual loss of pressure doesn’t necessarily indicate an urgent problem. A sudden loss could mean there’s a broken or blocked pipe in your system.

Damage

Look for flaking, dents, discoloration and dimpling in your tubing. If there is damage or changes in the physical characteristics of plumbing pipes and tubing this can signal the need for replacement.

Leaks

Obvious leaks and drips coming from your pipes are the most reliable signs that a plumbing problem requires replacement at some level.

Lead

Buildings constructed before 1978 are at a major risk of containing lead. If this is the case, there is a chance that these fixtures could contaminate drinking water.

If you aren’t sure about the condition of your home’s pipes, have a plumbing specialist analyze the plumbing system and check for leaks. Once a professional has evaluated your system they can give you an honest answer about what services you may need. Call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010.