Sprinkler Tune Up

 

Get your lawn off to a great start this spring by making sure your sprinkler is in good shape after the long winter. Furthermore, an efficient sprinkler will save you time and money over the long, hot months.

First, check the irrigation controls and programs. Check the time and date on the timer and the settings to make sure they are what you want for your lawn. Generally 3/4 inch of water per irrigation cycle is recommended, which moistens the soil around 8-9 inches deep. Replace the battery in the timer if needed (it is a good idea to do this every year.)

Make sure the sprinkler heads are free of dirt, rocks or any other type of debris. Try to keep obstacles out of the way. All of that debris can disrupt the flow of water, which cannot only mean an uneven flow, but also wasted water— and money.

If the sprinkler heads or nozzles, valves or pipes are worn out, cracked, chipped or otherwise damaged, replace them. Valves are especially important because if not working properly, they can lead to a lot of wasted water. If you notice any muddy areas or too-wet areas when testing the system, it probably means you have a leaky valve.

Turn on the water and do a test run. Open the water valve slowly to let pipes fill gradually to prevent a big surge of pressure and thus, damage. Too much pressure can lead to cracked pipes, broken valves, leaks and watering that is not even or efficient. A water pressure gauge can measure your pressure in your house and your yard. You connect it to a hose faucet and if the pressure is above 40-65 PSI, you may need to install a pressure regulator or to fix any damage that you think may be causing it.
Think about additions to help your system. A rain sensor can keep you from over-watering. It will prevent your system from watering right after a heavy rain.


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!

Wiring Your Unfinished Garage

 

You’re looking around at your unfinished garage and realize you need more outlets and lighting. Before getting started, keep a few things in mind: If you are leaving the walls and ceiling open, you’ll have to use the framing members to protect and support the wires. Do not span stud or joist spaces with wires, and keep the cables closely hugging the studs, plates and ceiling joists.

Always make sure you’re doing everything safely and up to code. If you’re just not sure, don’t hesitate to bring in a professional electrician. Lastly, if you plan to close up the walls later on, you’ll have to rewire. So, what’s next?

You’ll route the cable along studs, top plates and ceiling joists, along the framing member that leads to the next box. Keep cables on vertical surfaces—not on the tops of walls. Plan your wiring and put up all the electrical boxes.

Next, run a cable from one box to another by pulling cable off the coil, stripping at least 8 inches of sheathing off the wires and threading the wires and about 1/2 inch of sheathing through the wire opening in the box.

Untwist the cable and staple, staple, staple! Do this at least every 4 feet to the framing, preferably more.

When you get to the next box, stretch out the cable and mark the entrance point on it, cut the cable about a foot long, strip the sheathing and feed the wires into the box. Nail in the staples near the box.

NOTE: You’ll have to hold all wires at least 1-1/4 inches from the back and front surface of studs and joists.

Electrical boxes may have metal or plastic cable clamps that are built in. Many duplex boxes only have knockouts. Staple cable within 8 inches of boxes without clamps and within 12 inches of boxes with clamps.

And don’t forget: If your garage has a wall made of concrete or is already dry walled, cable installed on these exposed surfaces has to be protected by conduit.

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!

Light Up Your Deck or Patio

 

Whether you’re hoping to throw some cookouts this summer or are concerned about your family’s safety while walking outside in the dark, adding lighting around your deck or patio is a great idea. What are some easy options?

  • Low-voltage landscape lighting is a great addition. It won’t light up a large area, but can work well along with other lighting components. They are great to light up a pathway.
  • String lights are increasingly popular, as they create a pretty ambiance and are inexpensive. When shopping, look specifically for outdoor-rated string lights. LED bulbs will last many years. If you’re looking for that softer glow, though, you may consider incandescent bulbs. If you need them far away from an outlet, look for solar options.
  • If you’re looking to cast a glow on an area, sconces are a good idea.  You can get one that mounts onto the house or a lantern-style fixture, which casts a larger glow.
  • If you have an outdoor grilling or kitchen area, overhead lighting is the most useful, instead of decorative mood lighting that is generally more used for the patio or deck.
  • If your house is old, make sure your outlets are upgraded to have the modern safety features. Outdoor outlets should have a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) and a cover that can withstand weather. If you need more outlets in your outdoor area, you may want to contact a professional. It is not recommended to run cords through an open window, as this is not only unsightly but can also be unsafe.

Last but not least, consider using lighting around stairs and other walking areas for safety.

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!

Sunroom Options

 

With warmer temperatures come dreams of a relaxing on a comfortable chair with a great book in beautiful sunroom. But before getting started on this major project, here are some things to think about so you can maintain temperature and save money on your energy bill.

First, decide on the location. Southern exposure means additional cooling could be needed on hot days, eastern means sun in the morning and shade later, western means harsher afternoon sun.

Next, consider materials. Vinyl material for the supports costs the least and don’t need much maintenance. Vinyl is also strong and insulated. Many vinyl supports have an internal reinforcement of aluminum or galvanized steel. Aluminum is more expensive and not as good an insulator as vinyl, however many homeowners use aluminum for the roof structure to provide additional strength. The most costly material for the support is wood. The benefit of wood is it easily lets you attach the screen mesh to the timbers. Wood does require some maintenance.

As for the pretty glass roof, that will cost you. Look for the U-value of the glass or polycarbonate, which is a measure of how much heat the material conducts. You’ll want to choose the lowest possible U value for the most energy-efficient space.

When looking at glass walls, they should be silicone double-sealed, A-rated, and—in order to meet building codes—will be labeled “tempered safety.”

If you can’t choose the optimal location or you want to make sure you have as many comfortable hours in the sunroom as possible, here are some additional things to look into:

-Adding operative skylights

-Putting in ceiling fans to circulate the air

-Installing exterior roof shade tracks which hold rigid exterior
sunscreens

-Using window treatments that can be raised and lowered

-Using a small gas wall heater for the cold months

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!

Reduce Laundry Energy Costs

 

An easy way to reduce your energy costs is to change the way you do your laundry. What are some changes you can make to reduce your carbon footprint and put money back into your wallet?

With the warmer weather coming, try line-drying your clothing instead of using the dryer. Drying accounts for up to 90% of laundry energy. If drying outdoors will not work for you, look around your home and see where you can put a drying rack or clothesline. Even if you only hang a few items, it’s better than nothing! You can even hang a few items on your shower rod. Choose the fastest spin cycle on your washing machine to get as much of the water out as you can. Keep racks away from the walls to prevent mold and don’t put items too close together so they dry quickly.

Maintain your dryer. Clean out the lint filter after each use, and deep clean your dryer (including the tubing) once a year. Use the automatic setting instead of the timed setting to avoid over drying.

As for your washer, about 80% of the energy it uses is for heating the water. Wash clothes and other items in cold water as much as possible. This will also help them to last longer. If you need more cleaning, then use a warm pre-soak then wash cold. Wash full loads as much as you can.

If you’re looking to buy a new washer and dryer, look into ENERGY STAR models. These typically use 25% less energy and 45% less water!

A few extra tips: reuse clothing as much as you can before washing, and don’t dry heavy materials or towels with lightweight items.

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!

Outdoor Starter Projects for Spring

 

Now that it isn’t too hot and isn’t too cold out (and the bugs aren’t swarming yet!) you might think about taking a look at your yard and outside of your home and getting some spring projects started. Many of us don’t do anything out there all winter long, right? So what can you start on?

Get your sprinkler system ready. Look for rocks, dirt and other debris that might be blocking the sprinkler heads. Replace any worn, cracked and chipped parts, such as sprinkler heads, nozzles, valves or pipes.  This is not only important so everything works properly and water is distributed evenly, but also so you don’t have an unnecessary increase in your water bill!

Rake the fallen leaves and dead foliage. Remove old mulch to get ready for a new layer. It’s also a good idea to spread a pelletized fertilizer for existing plants. Prune back damaged or dead tree or shrub branches to live stems using a handsaw if possible, as electric shears can create a thick outer layer of growth, keeping out the sunlight.

Compost your yard waste. Dump leaves, cuttings, old mulch, etc. into your compost pile. Shred leaves to accelerate decomposition. Aerate it with a pitchfork every two weeks.

Clean up your walkway, porch and patio. Use a pressure washer on all of these areas. Get some gravel to put in large depressions in the driveway. Remove rotted or damaged pickets and boards. Install new wood in areas where needed. And last but not least, add on a fresh coat of paint or stain.

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!

Ways to Allergy-Proof Your Home

 

Sneezing, itchy eyes, coughing… it’s that time of year again. Spring allergy season hits allergy-sufferers hard, particularly those who are sensitive to tree pollen. So how can you make your home more allergy-proof?

Blinds and curtains— Dust your blinds, and while you’re at it, consider replacing horizontal blinds, which gather a lot of dust, with washable roller shades. Wash your curtains, and again, consider buying those with easily washable materials if you haven’t already.

Windows— When the weather is nice, you may be tempted to open your windows. This, however, is not such a good idea during pollen season. Keep them closed and rely on your AC. (This should also keep your electric bill lower.) Clean mold and condensation off of windows.

Carpeting— It is best to avoid carpet if you have allergies, but if you have some carpeting, make sure to vacuum once a week with a HEPA filter and shampoo the carpet often as well.

Air filters— Choose a home air filter for your HVAC system that has a HEPA filter. Change it out regularly. Furthermore, get your HVAC unit inspected twice a year. Also, put small air purifiers in your bedrooms and change those filters regularly as well.

Bedding— Wash bedding once a week in hot water. It is also a good idea to put an allergy cover on your mattress.

Pets— You love Fido, of course. If you suffer from allergies, though, it’s best to keep him out of the bedroom. Even if you aren’t allergic to him, he carries in allergens from outdoors. Also, bathe him once every few weeks.

Entryway— Put a doormat out for everyone to wipe their shoes on. Make sure shoes are taken off right away after coming in.

“Green” cleaning supplies— Harsh chemicals are not only potentially harmful to your plumbing, but they can also make allergies worse, so opt for natural cleaners like vinegar and baking soda instead.

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!

Septic Myths 

 

A home’s plumbing system and septic tank are so important, and yet so often overlooked until there is a major problem. Here are some common myths about septic systems (and the pipes leading to them) that many homeowners believe:

Myth #1: You don’t have to get your septic tank pumped (or at least not very often)

Truth: You should get your septic tank pumped and inspected every one to three years, depending on its size and how many people live in your home.

Myth #2: Slow draining showers, sinks, tubs, washing machines, and toilets aren’t a big deal. 

Truth: This could be a sign that your tank needs to be pumped, or some other type of major plumbing issue. If you have gotten your tank pumped recently and know that is not the issue, you still shouldn’t wait to have a professional plumber come and look.

 

Myth #3: My well water doesn’t need any maintenance

Truth: If you have a septic system and a well, get the water tested once a year to see if nitrate levels are not too high, which could mean that waste water is overflowing your system and leaching into your water.

Myth #4: I need to use additives in my septic system

Truth: Additives will not prevent backup, properly break down solids, or prevent you from needing to pump and needing to be careful with your system. (In other words, it wouldn’t be a pass to allow you to suddenly start putting everything down the kitchen sink.)

Myth #5: Putting food, chemicals, medicines, etc. down the drain won’t harm the septic system.

Truth: If this is all new to you because you’re coming from a house or apartment without a septic system (especially with a garbage disposal), it may take some getting used to. It’s always best to not put anything except safe liquids such as water or drinks and septic-safe toilet paper and designated septic-safe products down the drain. Not only will this be good for your septic system, but your pipes and plumbing as well.

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!

Walter Filtration For Your Shower

 

While you may already have a water filtration system in your kitchen for drinking and cooking water, have you ever thought about filtering your shower water? It may sound strange at first, since you probably don’t stand under the shower and drink all your water for the day, but it is actually a smart thing to think about.

Water contains chemicals such as chlorine, which is not healthy to put into our bodies in high quantities. The skin is the body’s largest organ, and absorbs what it comes into contact with. Furthermore, since we typically take warm—even hot—showers, (and let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a long shower to decompress?) the absorption of the chlorine into our skin is easy.

In addition to the high levels of chlorine, we may also be exposing ourselves to harmful trihalomethanes (THMs), which come from chlorine reacting with other products in the water. Because of the warm air, inhaling the chemicals occurs easily as well. The chemicals can also lead to dry skin, irritation and eczema.

There are many types of shower filters that will help prevent your exposure to all of these things. Filters use charcoal/carbon, Vitamin C or KDF (kinetic degradation fluxion). Carbon filters remove chlorine well but don’t work as well at warm temperatures. The good news is, they are inexpensive. KDF filters are also inexpensive and a pretty effective option. Vitamin C filters create a chemical reaction that changes chlorine and other chemicals, making them harmless.

Most filters are easy to install but you will need to replace them every few months. If you take many baths, there are also filters for that as well. If you want to go a much more expensive but thorough route, consider a whole house filter, typically installed by a professional.

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!

Deep Clean Your Dryer

 

To keep your dryer running efficiently and to help keep your family and home safe from a potential dryer fire, thoroughly clean it annually. This is a great project to tackle on a weekend afternoon. Improper dryer ventilation causes 14,000 fires each year!

Over time lint builds up in the inside of your dryer, especially around the drum. With most dryers you can remove the top or front panel by simply removing a few screws, and take your extension on your vacuum to it.

Next up, your dryer ducts. This part is a bit trickier. Unplug your dryer and remove the flexible duct from the back of the dryer with your screwdriver. Use a large cleaning brush to push out any lint from behind your lint trap. Reach into the hole and pull out any buildup and vacuum again there and in the tubing. Be careful with using any sharper tools to get to the middle of the tubing, as they could puncture it. Typically, there is more buildup towards the ends.

Also vacuum where the duct exhaust exits your house. If you find that you have issues with birds/critters, install a bird guard on the outside. Make sure that the screen is not covered with lint, which will prevent any airflow.

Lastly, slide the clamp over the vent to attach and then put the dryer back into place. Run dryer on air fluff for about 10 minutes to let the debris that may be loose escape.

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!