Best Ice for Cold Drinks

Entertaining family and friends is a fun way to spend the season, and creative and cold drinks make any party festive. Is your ice maker in working order? Is it serving what you want in your glass? Just as there are dozens of decisions to make when buying a refrigerator, now there are decisions for cold beverage lovers to make when it comes to the shape of ice they prefer! What’s the best ice for cold drinks?

Here’s a look at some of the most popular options out there.

Pellet ice (crushed ice)

This ice is popular for an icy soda. It melts quickly, so it’s best for those who don’t mind a little water dilution in their drinks. Many refrigerator-installed ice makers produce these cubes which are round on one side and flat on the other. Did you know the shape is also designed to prevent splashing when liquid is poured on top of it? Pretty smart!

Two cold beverages in glasses with cubed ice

 

Large clear cubes

Due to their larger size, these slow melting cubes are perfect for straight liquid drinks like whiskey. They create a bubble-free ice cube that is tricky to produce and requires a specific mold.

Ice rods

Special ice trays are made to create these cylindrical shaped pieces, and are a very popular way to keep water bottle water cold.

Crescent cubes

These cubes are found mostly in portable ice makers or under-the-counter machines. It’s called “gourmet ice,” and is round and hollow in the middle.


Types of Ice Makers

For people who like to entertain or that have several people in the house who are into fitness or spend time outdoors with multiple ice-filled water bottles each day, under-the-counter ice machines might be the best choice. Because of all the gadgets that come in modern refrigerators, built-in ice makers tend to take a back seat. They just can’t keep up with high demand. But, if you do go with an under the counter machine, you will need a professional plumber to hook up your machine.

If you decide the shape of ice and type of machine is one you don’t have, make your purchase and make the water connection you need to make it happen. Connecting your water line should be a task completed by an expert to make sure your appliance doesn’t leak. It’s really a matter of opinion when it comes to the best ice for cold drinks.

Whether you are upgrading to a refrigerator with an ice maker that fits your needs, need help with the malfunctioning one you have or want to install an under counter model, contact a professional to get the job done right. Call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010 for assistance from a professional plumber.

7 Most Common Plumbing Problems

Plumbing problems often come with home ownership. Some problems come with aging fixtures or normal wear and tear, but other problems may be caused by how the systems are used or maintained. Let’s take a look at the seven most common plumbing problems.

1.       Weak water pressure

Weak water pressure can challenge any plumbing system. It’s usually a sign of a bigger problem like hidden water leaks, drain or sewer clogs, cracked or backed up sewer lines, or pipe corrosion.

2.       Dripping faucets

Dripping faucets are wasteful, annoying and costly. Sometimes, these drips can be the result of a worn-out washer, which is easy to replace. Other times; however, corrosion or poorly installed faucets can be the problem.

3.       Leaking pipesWoman looks frustrated by leaking pipe under her kitchen sink

Leaking pipes are the result of one of many sorts of problems, including: corrosion, clogs,  damage to pipe joints, excessive water pressure or cracked seals or pipes.

No matter what’s the cause, this common plumbing problem needs attention fast! Leaving leaking pipes ignored only creates more damage, therefore, causing trouble for your plumbing system and to your home itself.

4.       Clogged or slow drains

Drainage problems can cause health hazards and major plumbing disasters if left undone. In general, one slow or clogged drain in the home means the problem is localized to that area. Typically, these clogs are the result of soap or hair, for instance, and other build-up over time. Routine drain cleaning can solve this problem. Multiple slow or clogged drains typically mean you are dealing with sewer line problems.

5.       Water heater problems

Hot water is necessary in every home, so when water heaters can’t work properly, then homeowners can be dealing with a crisis. Usually, when water heaters have problems they are caused by issues like loose or broken electrical connections, improper water heater installation, heating element issues, or corrosion buildup in systems.

6.       Running Toilets

Running toilets may waste up to 200 gallons of water per day! In most cases, the issues that cause running toilets include: corroded toilet handles, refill tube problems, improperly sized flapper chains or worn out seals or valves.

7.       Sump Pump Failure

This plumbing issue can be related to a problem with the unit or an outside issue. In most cases, sump pump failures include aging (sump pumps around 10 years old or more), clogged discharge pipes, stuck switches, a large amount of water, like after a heavy rain storm, or improper installation.

Sometimes the most common plumbing problems can still be too big for a DIY homeowner to handle. For help from a professional plumber, call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010.

How to dispose of coffee grounds

You may have heard that putting coffee grounds down the sink (or garbage disposal) can clean and freshen the scent in the drain. While they won’t harm the garbage disposal, and they will help eliminate odors, grounds will accumulate in drains and pipes. This will lead to clogs, so it’s best to avoid. Your garbage disposal is not a trash can, and shouldn’t be treated that way. There are better ways to dispose of coffee grounds.

Why can’t coffee grounds go down the drain if food can?

Unlike most foods, coffee grounds clump together in water while many foods break down. Over time the grounds will build up and create clogs that don’t allow the drains to properly move water.

While we’re on the subject, other items that should go in the garbage and not in the sink include:

  • Starchy foods like potatoes, rice and pasta
  • Eggshells, fish skins, celery and banana peels
  • Grease, oil and fats
  • Anything that is not food! Never dispose of metal, wood, glass, and cigarette butts in the sink.

The rule of thumb is – when it doubt throw it out (in the trash).

When to call a professional

There are signs you need help with a clogged drain or glitchy garbage disposal; they include:

  • Food particles in the sink after the dishwasher has run
  • Slow draining water
  • A gurgling noise coming from the drain
  • Water backing up
  • Odor of rotting food coming up from the sink

Better ways to dispose of coffee grounds

So, if you can’t flush your grounds, are there things you can do to make the most of this waste? Yes!

Other ways to dispose of coffee grounds include:coffee grounds being scooped into a potted plant

  • Garden – They are a nice fertilizer for your garden if you have a green thumb. Plants benefit from coffee grounds. And even if you do not have a full compost, grounds will work by themselves. In addition to providing nutrients, grounds spread in your garden repel insects such as slugs and ants.
  • Indoor house plants – The same goes for indoor plants!
  • Exfoliate skin – You can scrub away dead cells from your skin when you mix used coffee grounds with coconut oil.
  • Cleaner hair – Take a handful of grounds and massage them through your head and rinse. This will clean out built-up remains from styling products.
  • Absorb food odor – An opened container of coffee grounds may also help to absorb stinky smell from a refrigerator, in the same way baking soda works.

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

Installing a Hot Tub

Unwind, soak your muscles, decrease stress and relax – all in your own hot tub! Spending time in a hot tub is a great way to unwind. You can soak to soothe your mind and body, spend time and reconnect with your family, and even get some great health benefits, too. Soaking regularly may even improve your sleep. Installing a hot tub is not difficult, but you need to check your homeowners’ association rules and local zoning laws. Once you have all the requirements, just follow these steps to create your own spa setting right in your backyard.

Follow these five easy steps for installing a hot tub:

1. Find a location.

Hot tub on patio

Choosing the best location to install your hot tub is the most essential step. Try to envision your new oasis in your yard. Take into consideration neighbors, traffic flow, and anything that may disrupt a peace time. Also consider these questions:

  • How will you move the tub off the delivery truck to the location you selected? Will you need tools, more manpower or even a crane? Be sure to plan ahead so you don’t end up spending unnecessarily.
  • Do you want your hot tub in the shade or in the afternoon sun?
  • If privacy is an issue, do you need a fence or gazebo? If you are in the sun do you want to block it out with an awning?
  • Are you creating a space to be a focal point or do you prefer privacy in a quiet corner of your yard?

Remember, your space will need:

  • Easy access via a walkway from the house. You won’t want grass, dirt or sand in the tub.
  • Flat, firm ground or surface.
  • Easy access to a water source and a dedicated GCFI electrical circuit for power.
  • An area that doesn’t collect leaves, limbs or excess rainwater.
  • A space that is at least 10 feet away from overhead trees and power lines.

2. Select a foundation to build on

It’s not advised to install a hot tub directly on the ground. When the tub is filled with water the weight may cause the tub to shift and become uneven. If you are installing on an existing deck be sure of the weight limits and strength of the foundation. A concrete slab is a good long-term choice. If you are pouring a new slab be sure the concrete is fully dried before installing the tub. You can also use a foundation of paver stones, gravel or hot tub pad. Just make sure that the ground underneath is on hard-packed dirt and that materials are level.

3. Use upgraded, dedicated electrical outlets

Check that the electrical system you are using can safely power the unit. A lot of electricity is used when running heating components and pumps. Installing the hot tub circuit and GCFI outlet should only be done by a licensed electrician.

4. Place the tub in the desired position

Orienting your hot tub on the foundation is a crucial step. Steps or entry ladders should be placed away from obstacles. Make sure the tub is in a position that provides quick, easy access to control panels. You will also need plenty of room to easily remove the cover. If you have children, add safety measures locks on covers or alarm

5. Just add water!

Once your tub is in place, follow manufacturer instructions to begin operating. Turn off electricity that powers the tub at the circuit breaker. Check that the drain valve is closed, the filters are in place and that the tub is clean by using a non-foaming cleanser. Use the garden hose to fill the tub with cold, clean water. to the fill line. Once filled to the fill line, check for leaks. When you are certain everything is holding up properly, turn on power at the breaker. You’ll then set the controls for the unit and treat the water with chemicals. About eight hours later the water will be warm and ready to enjoy!

Don’t be afraid to call the professionals at Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010 for expert assistance.

Can COVID-19 spread through plumbing?

We are all aware of the basic guidelines to follow during the COVID-19 pandemic. Maintain six feet of distance between others. Stay home as much as possible. Practice excellent hygiene like washing hands frequently. But, are there other ways the virus might spread that we don’t fully understand? Could COVID-19 spread through plumbing?

According to the Center for Disease Control, it is possible that coronaviruses can be transmitted through the sewage system, affecting tenants and plumbers. But the current science on COVID-19 shows so far that the risk of the virus transmitting through the plumbing is very low.

Precautions

Nonetheless, if you’re in an apartment building or other multi-tenant dwelling and you want to take extra precautions with your plumbing, here’s a list of tips to prevent COVID-19 transmission through your pipes:

  • Be sure to schedule routine plumbing inspections as they are key to finding problems that could spread the coronavirus or any other virus.
  • Keep bathroom fixtures and surfaces clean. Disinfect with an antiviral non-toxic solution.
  • Cover and fix any issues with the septic tank.
  • If you have an overflowing toilet quickly handle it to avoid fecal contact. Eliminate any standing water immediately.
  • Dry pipes may have an odor. Be aware of any foul odors coming from a drain that may signal dry pipes.

Solid Waste

When it comes to how COVID-19 might spread through your plumbing, solid waste is the main issue you want to be aware of, not water. The odds of airborne transmission through sewage pipes is low. Poop may be a problem.

There is some science that supports the fact that coronavirus can be transmitted through contact with infected feces. While it is believed the virus can be spread in stool, many factors are still unknown. Scientists don’t know how much of the virus is shed from the body through stool and whether the virus in stool is infectious.Wash hands to prevent spread of COVID-19

It is widely accepted that COVID-19 is mainly transmitted orally. Droplets spread the virus through sneezing or coughing. The poop theory is weaker, meaning there may have to be fecal-oral transmission. To mitigate this possibility wash your hands after using the bathroom. So if there were disease particles on the toilet it would have to make it to your mouth. This would not be possible if you are thoroughly washing your hands.

Water

There have also been concerns from Americans about water transmission. At this time it is not believed to be possible to get COVID-19 from a hot tub or pool. Treated and chlorinated water eliminates disease and therefore the possibility of water being affected.

When it comes to plumbing, the bottom line – the way to keep coronavirus out of your pipes is consistent plumbing maintenance and excellent personal hygiene.

Routine plumbing inspections can be done at minimal time and cost, but people often find this a chore and overlook the importance of it. However, in pandemic conditions we should not be complacent. Just be sure your plumber wears protective gear and takes personal hygienic precautions that are in line with the CDC’s measures to stop the spread. For professional plumbing assistance, Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010.

Do I need a water softener?

What’s the difference in soft water and hard water? Are both kinds of water safe? Do I need a water softener?

Talking about water in these terms can be confusing. The terms certainly aren’t descriptive enough to know what they mean and what to do about them! But, if you have hard water, you may be having issues that need to be addressed for the longer term condition of your home.

What causes hard water?

In route to your home, water can pick up sediments and minerals that can wreck your appliances with build up over time. If this is a problem you have, you may want to install a water softener. Having hard water is very common, only about 15% of households have soft water flowing without being treated. And having hard water is actually more expensive than using a softener.

Why get a water softener?

The reason to address hard water isn’t necessarily about your health. It’s more dangerous for your plumbing appliances than anything. Water that has a higher level of minerals and sediment in it, including calcium and magnesium, can become a problem by collecting in the pipes, drains, and on faucets. If those deposits build up they can restrict water flow or permanently damage plumbing. If limescale solidifies in your pipes, you will need replacements, which are far more expensive than just a good cleaning. In this case, the use of a water softener can control the situation much more easily and cost-effectively.

How do water softeners work?

Water softeners are systems that help each tap and faucet as part of your plumbing system. They eliminate mineral contents and also protects your pipes. Softeners have benefits like delivering better tasting, cleaner water that is also easier on your clothes and dishes. You may notice your shampoo and soap don’t lather like they should. Maybe you’ve noticed stiff fabrics and discoloration of clothing coming out of the wash. Freshly cleaned dishes are spotty and grimy. Or maybe your food doesn’t taste quite right. These are all signs that hard water are the culprit. You probably need a water softener.

Call a professional

If the sound of a water softener in your home appeals to you, call a professional. Don’t try to install one on your own. You want to make sure the installation is done correctly and without problems that can lead to damages to plumbing. A DIY water softener install can end up costing you far more, so let a professional plumber help you get softer water that will treat your pipes better. Call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010 for assistance.

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.

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.

Prepare Your Home for Snow and Ice: Winter Safety Tips

Falling snow is a beautiful part of winter, but it can also pose potential dangers for homeowners. It’s important to prepare your home for snow and ice so you can stay safe and prevent extra work down the road. To ensure no problems show up and to keep your family safe, these projects should be done throughout the coldest months.

Prevent Water Damage

  • Ventilate the attic and insulate the attic floor to stop warm air in the house from melting snow and ice on the roof.
  • Wrap exposed pipes with insulation sleeves.
  • Caulk cracks and holes in the home’s outer walls and foundation. Holes left by cable installation can also leave pipes exposed.
  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors so warm air can circulate around pipes.
  • Trickle water from any faucet connected to pipes that run through unprotected spaces.
  • Locate the home’s main water valve, usually found in the basement or outside near the curb. Turn water off quickly if a pipe does burst.
  • If you are traveling and leave the house unoccupied for an extended period, shut off the water and have a professional drain the system. Turn the heat down, but don’t turn it off.

Buy a carbon-monoxide detector.It is important to have a carbon monoxide detector on each floor of your home

  • Install carbon-monoxide detectors on all floors of your home to prevent one of the biggest winter dangers, carbon-monoxide poisoning. This can happen when ventilation of furnaces, generators, charcoal-burning or propane-burning devices, or wood-burning stoves are not properly ventilated.

Buy a generator

  • Use a generator to keep your heat and power running. This includes your sump pump, and your fire and burglar alarms.
  • Consider installing an automatic standby generator, which immediately turns on after a power outage. You may qualify for a discount on your homeowners insurance, too.

Prepare for a Flood

  • When snow and ice begin to melt, be aware of flooding for localized trouble spots around your house. Water can buildup can seep into your foundation and flood the basement.
  • If you have a sump pump, check to ensure it’s working properly in advance.

Ensure Proper Ventilation

  • Clean exhaust fans and filters in the bathrooms and kitchens because we spend more time indoors.
  • Dust and airborne particles can cause indoor air quality issues in the absence of adequate ventilation. They can even become a fire hazard.
  • Monitor other filters in your home, including cleaning out the dryer’s filter and replacing the furnace filter.

Prepare Your Pipes for the Cold

  • Prevent water issues by insulating water pipes exposed to freezing temperatures. Pipes that border an exterior wall have the greatest freezing potential, so they should be insulated with a towel or other piece of cloth.
  • In extreme cold weather, open water lines slightly to allow water to drip slowly into an indoor sink.

Prevent Icy Gutters

  • Clean gutters before the snow falls to help prevent water and ice buildup that could eventually find its way into your home.
  • After the colder weather arrives, look for clogged gutters by checking for large icicles hanging from them and/or an accumulation of ice on the roof.

Eliminate Outdoor Electrical Problems

  • Prevent electrical problems by inspecting the outside of your home. Specifically, look for damaged or frayed wires vulnerable to harm from snow and ice.
  • Check for any bird nests near electrical fixtures. Nests can cause a fire.
  • Make sure any electronic decorations have tight-fitting connections: three-pronged outlets are optimal. These cords should be stored away from main walkways, and never beneath a carpet or rug, as this creates a fire hazard.

For professional help with your HVAC, plumbing, and electrical work, contact Central Carolina Air Conditioning at 1.800.461.3010. This winter, we can help you prepare your home for snow and ice!