Prepare for Power Outages with Standby Generators

 

imagesLosing your power is never something anyone wants, especially during the winter months. For some homeowners, a lapse in power is a minor annoyance while for others it can be life threatening. For this and a variety of other reasons, a generator may be a wise purchase for your home.

While you may already have a portable gasoline-powered generator (or have thought about getting one), you may want to consider upgrading. A standby generator can energize your home for days. This is especially useful during extended power outages.

A great option for big families, standby generators are especially beneficial for those with young children or elderly relatives who may rely on medical equipment run by electricity. When looking at sizes, remember that the higher the generator’s capacity, the more circuits it can power. Think about what you’ll need to power.

The standby generator is permanently installed in your yard and is connected directly to your home’s electrical panel. It is powered by an external fuel supply, such as liquid propane, natural gas, or diesel. When you lose power, an automatic switch will start the generator. When power comes back on, the switch shuts down the generator and reconnects your home to the grid. The switch prevents back-feeding electricity, which is unsafe and can start fires.

Look for a trustworthy professional to install yours. The person will need to assess your load needs based on what you’ll want to run electricity to and the starting wattage of appliances that rely on motors. The person will also assess all of the logistics. Keep in mind that you will need some space: it will need to be several feet away from home openings and flammable materials.

If you do end up using the generator, get it serviced if it runs for 24 or more hours continually. Check the engine oil daily while it is being used and run it at less than 75 percent of its rated capacity.

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!

Make Your Home Greener

 

Today there are plenty of “greener” choices when it comes to your home. Whether you’re trying to help the environment or just want to save money, here are some ideas to get you started.

  • 13334874691845924070House in the Sun.svg.medSwitch to CFLs or LEDs. They cost more up front but use far less energy and last much longer. Plus, incandescent bulbs are being phased out in stores.
  • Take a look at items that are constantly using energy in your home while plugged in, such as kitchen appliances, computers, chargers, printers, etc. It only takes a moment to unplug!
  • If you’re in the market for new appliances, look for the Energy-Star seal. They may cost a bit more up front, but using these can slash a third of your electric bill!
  • Insulate your attic. The attic can be as much as 50 degrees warmer than the other parts of the house. You can also look into an attic fan, which will help reduce the amount of energy spent on heating and cooling.
  • How many of us really know what is in the cleaners we use? Typically, it’s a bunch of stuff we can’t even pronounce. It’s easy to make safe, homemade cleaners out of vinegar, water and baking soda.
  • Seal gaps around doors and windows. You can save 10 percent on your electric bill by installing weather stripping to fill the gaps. You can choose from cheaper foam rolls or the more durable plastic option.
  • Fix leaky faucets and toilets. Not only is wasted water literally going down the drain, but also these issues should not be ignored, as leaks can lead to more costly repairs in the long run. For example, your pipes may end up needing to be replaced.
  • Install low-flow showerheads. According to the EPA, showering accounts for nearly 17 percent of residential indoor water use. Look into low-flow toilets as well. These are the main source of water in the home– nearly 30 percent of
    water use!

 

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 for Your Home Office

 
imagesMore and more people are working from home. You can have the best speed and performance in your home office if you set everything up properly and don’t cut corners.

You’ll likely need high-speed Internet and networking. Structured wiring is a data delivery system that can carry phone, fax, broadband, networking, and video/television technologies. The system has three parts: a panel where outside service enters the home, wires and cables throughout the house, and connecting hardware. You can get a prepackaged system, but that means you may have wasted outlets or no outlet where you need one. It is a good idea to develop a home-office plan before you wire. Figure out where the computer, printer, phones, and media will be set up and where conference calls will happen.

The system is installed the same way regardless of whether you have a new construction or are remodeling. The preferred method is the “star” layout, where each outlet extends individually to the service panel. This will allow for flexibility and help to figure out any problems. There are options for older homes so you don’t have to open up walls. Wires can be fished through walls.

If you’re not comfortable doing such a big project on your own, hire a professional. Not only do you want it to be installed correctly but you also want to make sure you have create necessary flexibility to accommodate future expansion. Costs vary, but the system typically ranges from about 1 to 3 percent of a home’s value.

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!

Bathroom Makeover for Less

On average, a bathroom remodel costs about $9000, but the range can be significant. Here are some ways to update yours without spending too much.

  • imagesChange your sink faucet. Turn off the water supply (valves are typically under the sink). Next, turn on the faucet to relieve any water pressure. Disconnect the supply lines from
    the faucet and the lift rod, and then remove the nuts from under the faucet. Unscrew the slip nut on the P-trap. Put a bucket underneath to catch water. Disconnect the drain flange from the tailpiece. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for the new faucet.
  • Change your tub faucet. Again, turn off the water supply. Open the faucet and drain the water. Unscrew the screws that attach the handles. Pull the handle away from the wall to expose the valve. Unscrew the entire stem from the bathroom pipes. You’ll want to take the whole faucet to the store to pick out a new one.
  • Put in some new hardware—a curved, double-rod shower curtain, towel hooks, or cabinet handles can make a big impact.
  • Add in some storage space to reduce clutter. Look for unused areas on the wall or between things.
  • Paint and/or add crown molding.
  • Change your vanity light fixture.
  • Create a new frame for the mirror.

Remember, if you run into any issues with your plumbing or electricity during the renovation, this will add onto the cost. If, however these are things you’re not comfortable with doing yourself, it’s best to hire a professional from the beginning to avoid further complications once you’re in the middle of a project.

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!

Updating Your Light Fixtures

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With a new year right around the corner, many people are considering how to start fresh in the year ahead — and that includes making improvements to their home. If you’re one of them, and you’re looking for one easy way to increase ambiance and useful lighting areas without breaking the bank, updating your light fixtures is worth consideration.

It’s amazing how proper lighting can make a world of difference in your kitchen and other areas throughout your home. Unfortunately, not only can old light fixtures appear dated, but be aware that they may also have become inefficient.

As you begin to assess what your needs are, there are some specific points to ponder. First, think about your other décor and the style you’d like. Just because you find a beautiful artsy light fixture at the store doesn’t mean it will fit well in your home. It may help to bring photos with you to talk with the retailer.

Also, installing dimmer switches on light fixtures and lamps allows you to adjust for your mood and tasks while helping save energy. If you’re shopping for these switches, note that dimmers come in two basic wiring configurations. If your light will be controlled by one switch, buy a single-pole dimmer. If your light or group of lights will be controlled by two switches, buy a three-way dimmer.

To make a significant improvement in your ambiance and useful lighting, under-cabinet light strips are a great choice for your kitchen or work area. Options include puck lights, fluorescent strips, LED strips, and LED rope or tape.

For reading areas without tables to place a lamp, simply install a reading light on the wall. For dark garages, attics, hallways or staircases, strategically placed motion sensor lights can improve your visibility.

A few final tips:

  • Add layers of light in one room to give you options as well as provide ambiance. For example, you can have lamps and ceiling fixtures all in the same room.
  • Clean lights bulbs make a difference! Dust them frequently.
  • Finally, remember it is always best to hire a professional if you don’t feel comfortable doing these projects yourself.

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!

Maintaining Your Water Heater

 

water heaterYou do not want your water heater to break down at this time of year — well, any time of year really, but definitely not when you need a hot shower after a cold day! Did you know that water heaters typically last for a decade or more?
If you maintain yours, it can last even longer. So how do you make sure yours is in good condition and when you need a new one?

An easy way to keep you water heater in good working condition and save money every month is to dial the temperature down. (This is also a good safety measure if you have young children that could easy turn the handle on a tub and burn themselves with hot water!) You’ll find a setting dial on your water heater—either a knob on the gas valve or thermostat behind an electric water heater panel. Dial it down to 115 to 120 degrees. This will not only reduce energy used to heat the water, but also protect the tank from overheating.

Test the T&P (temperature and pressure) relief valve. All you have to do is lift up on the lever part way and let it go so it will snap back. You’ll hear the water being released into the drain tube. If it did not do anything, it needs to be replaced.

Every year, conduct a mini flush. Sediment at the bottom of the tank leads to rust and inefficiency. All you have to do is put a bucket under the drain valve near the bottom of the water heater tank and turn the valve counter-clockwise to release a few gallons of water into the bucket. Sometimes you can do a full flush, but that requires more work and shutting down your water heater.

Finally, if your water heater does not heat efficiently and/or constantly needs repair, look for a new one. A new water heater is typically about a thousand dollars, often less.

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!

Hot Tubs for Cold Winter Months 

 

During the cold months of winter,images the idea of soaking in a steamy hot tub sounds like a dream. Getting one for your home, though, comes with some expenses and takes preparation. If you’re thinking about splurging on this big-ticket item this holiday season, here is what you should know:

You’ll want to consider where you’d like to put the hot tub and what type you’d like, as some are heavier than others and may require more support than currently exists in that location. Furthermore, the hot tub will need to be at least 10 feet away from overhead power lines and 5 feet from the spa panel.

You will need to install a breaker in your electrical control box. Keep in mind that sometimes warranties are voided if a professional electrician does not install the electrical circuit. Often it also needs to be approved by a building inspector.

Prepare for hot water costs—on average, an electric hot tub uses about 2,500 kWh per year. What does that mean? Well, it’s enough to run more than six refrigerators for about a year. Yikes! So, you’ll want to make sure you have an energy-efficient cover and that it is in good condition. When shopping for a hot tub, look for one that has plenty of insulation and uses an efficient variable speed pump or two-pump system.

Most hot tubs are self-contained, so plumbing won’t be as difficult as the electrical work.

Overall, you’re looking at a project that will cost you several thousand dollars, but in the end, if done correctly, can be a great addition to your home.

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!

Updating Your Kitchen for High-End Appliances

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Professional-style kitchen appliances are becoming increasingly available and popular in everyday homes. If you’re considering upgrading your kitchen by installing these types of appliances, there are some things to consider and tips to make sure it’s all done safely.

First, think about your kitchen size. Many kitchens will simply be too small for these items. You will need about three feet of space for the refrigerator, three feet of freezer space and four to five feet for a commercial-style range. Also, some of the ranges are very heavy and require a special base. Many manufacturers do offer smaller models, so check their specifications.

Consider the burners and ventilation hoods. Many high-end ranges and cooktops have burners that can exceed 20,000 BTUs and require hoods that can handle up to 1,200 CFM. This is almost 10 times the typical amount. To ensure proper ventilation, add up the total BTUs of the range burners, divide by 100, and then you’ll get the number of CFMs needed. For example, a range with a total output of 70,000 BTUs should be equipped with a hood capable of moving 700 CFMs. This will help prevent issues with heat, grease, smoke and moisture.

Houses with high-power hoods may need to install an air makeup unit to replace the air that the ventilation is removing from the home. This is because the removal of too much air can be dangerous with the use of
chimneys and furnaces.

Lastly, any customizations involving electric extensions or plumbing work is best handled by a professional if you aren’t sure of what you’re doing.

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!