Best Water Heater Temperature

Carolina weather is notoriously unpredictable during the winter months - we may get mild weather one day, then a freezing cold day the next.  These cold days often prompt us to enjoy the warmer features in our home all the more. A space heater, warm blankets, and hot showers often become our go-to on these cold winter days. While you want your shower to be hot, it shouldn’t be scalding hot. You can avoid this by setting the best water heater temperature.

Manufacturers often set the water heater to 140 degrees. Although this is the standard temperature for water heaters, it can produce water that is much hotter than ideal. If you have small children in the home who like to play with faucets, then you’ll definitely want to adjust the water heater temperature.

The best water heater temperature is around 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

Not only will 120 degrees feel just the right amount of hot, but it will also help you save on your energy bills! The estimated annual savings from your water heater set at 120 degrees is about $10-30.

Image shows hot water coming from shower headAccording to the EPA, setting your water heater at 120 degrees is also hot enough to prevent diseases and bacteria from growing. The EPA does warn you not to turn it too low, however. Doing so could cause bacteria to grow or prevent you from getting enough hot water during your showers.

Check the current temperature setting on your water heater by taking a temperature reading from your faucet. You can also find it by looking at the dial located on your water heater.

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!

Home Maintenance Apps

With the regular hustle and bustle of life, it is all too easy to lose track of home maintenance tasks. Fortunately, technology is here to help! Below are home maintenance apps specifically designed to reduce some of the hassles that come with being a homeowner.

HomeZada

HomeZada is a home maintenance app that offers many features. First, users can keep track of appliances, set maintenance reminders, create moving lists, and manage property insurance. Next, the app can categorize and track the value, purchase date, serial number, warranty for all of your personal possessions. HomeZada acts as a digital filing cabinet. For example, it can store owner’s manuals, product registrations, and important documents like digital records of mortgage, insurance, and taxes.

Centriq

Centriq is an appliance troubleshooting app. Having trouble with an appliance? Simply take a snapshot of the product label. Centriq will provide the user manual, troubleshooting guidelines, parts and consumables, and how-to videos. It also stores information pertaining to various aspects of your home – even down to paint colors.

HouseHappy

Woman uses smartphone in her home

HouseHappy is home maintenance app that simplifies service needs. As a result, the app offers service reminders and an easy process for scheduling service requests.

HomeRoutines

HomeRoutines is an app that helps users create routine checklists down to the day, the week, and month. This app syncs with your calendar and offers advanced organization features. For instance, users can divide rooms and areas of their homes into different zones for further organization of chores and maintenance.

In short, these apps can really help simplify your home maintenance tasks! However, sometimes you need the help of a professional. Call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010. You can also submit our online request form.

 

Home Energy Efficiency Checklist

As the new year rolls in, most of us are thinking about changes and improvements we can make in 2021. Perhaps home energy efficiency isn’t as interesting as learning a new language or training for a marathon, but it can surely help you save money!

Here are some of our favorite home energy efficiency tips from energy.gov. We suggest resolving to save money in 2021 with these quick and simple ideas.

Install a programmable thermostat

Programmable thermostats are readily available at home improvement stores and easy to install on your own. You can program your home’s temperature around your schedule, so it will run less when you are away. Experts say a programmable thermostat can save as much as ten percent on your annual heating and cooling costs!

Replace your light bulbsImage of woman replacing incandescent bulb with a LED bulb

Swapping out old bulbs for Energy Star bulbs can add up to big savings. If you want to really invest in your home’s energy efficiency, consider Energy Star LED bulbs. These bulbs last 25 times longer and use 75% less electricity than incandescent bulbs. Energy.gov reports that use of LED lighting has the greatest potential impact on energy savings in our nation.

Put electric equipment on a power strip

You can save as much as $100 annually just by turning off so-called “energy vampires” in your home. These are devices that continue to use energy behind-the-scenes even when you aren’t actively using them. A simple way to do this is to install devices like this together on the same power strip. Then, you can just turn it off when not in use.

Unplug your chargers

We know, it’s so convenient to keep your phone charger plugged in all the time. But chargers consume energy even when your phone isn’t attached. For savings, unplug your charger when it isn’t in use.

Put your HVAC system on a maintenance plan

Regular preventive maintenance of your HVAC system will save you in the long run. A well-maintained system runs more efficiently and lasts longer. In addition, it’s best to have a professional spot potential problem before they become emergencies.

For information about preventive maintenance plans, call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010. You can also use our online form.

Prevent Frozen Pipes This Winter

We’re approaching the time of year where frozen pipes are all too common. When water freezes, it expands, and when this happens inside your plumbing pipes, it puts the entire system at risk. And then when increased pressure builds inside the pipes it makes them prone to cracking. Let’s discuss how to prevent frozen pipes this winter.

You certainly don’t want to deal with a burst pipe during a freezing winter spell! There’s so much damage a frozen pipe can cause. For instance, an 1/8-inch crack can release 250 gallons of water per day. Flooding can lead to mold and to very costly structural damage. You should take every precaution possible to prevent this disaster from happening. Do you know how to avoid frozen pipes? We’ve got a few tips to keep you ahead of a winter disaster.

A few preventive measures will keep your pipes moving and above freezing, even when temperatures fall.

Open your faucets

If you are expecting freezing temperatures, open the water faucets in your home, just a little, to allow a slow, constant drip. This will keep your pipes warm and reduce the pressure.

Open cabinet doors

Expose the pipes under your bathroom and kitchen sinks. They are prone to freezing and by opening the doors warm air will reach them.

Open the air vents

Avoid cold zones as much as possible. If all the air vents are open warm air can blow into every room.

Protect outdoor faucets

Drain and close off all outdoor faucets. Disconnect any water hoses that are still attached outdoors. Use faucet covers. They provide insulation and protection from falling ice.

Keep the furnace on low

Leaving town? Be sure you program your furnace to continue running. If your house gets too cold, a burst pipe may greet you upon your return home.

Protect Outdoor Faucets from Freezing

You’ll want to implement these low-cost, temporary fixes when temperatures begin to drop. If you notice ice crystals on your indoor pipes, use a hair dryer on a low setting to melt the ice. If you lose power and the weather is sub-zero,  insulate and cover your most vulnerable pipes immediately.

Longer-term solutions, although certainly more expensive, can give you even more security and protect your pipes from freezing for many years.

Try these permanent solutions to prevent frozen pipes:

  • Insulate your crawl space
  • Replace standard outdoor faucets
  • Insulate the walls
  • Repair exterior wall cracks
  • Reroute the pipes

While you cannot prevent icy weather, you can protect your pipes with these temporary or long lasting methods. If you have questions about which measures will work best for your pipes, contact a professional plumber.

Unclog a Toilet Without a Plunger

When you notice your toilet is not flushing well or not filling up with water, you usually reach for a plunger. In most homes, this is a standard tool with very little difficulty to use. But what happens if you don’t have one handy? It may sound impossible, but there are ways you can try to unclog a toilet without a plunger. Read on for some doable tricks and tips to try before you run to the store to snag a toilet tool.

STEP 1: Cut the water to the toiletIllustration of a cartoon stick figure looking perplexed at an overflowing toilet

Always start with stopping the water flow to the clogged toilet. Remove the lid and pull up the float to stop water, then shut off the water at the valve on the wall.

STEP 2: Pour in hot (NOT BOILING) water a little bit at a time

Before you start, remove some water with a bucket or cup if the toilet is very very close to overflowing. If not, start pouring in very hot water a few cups at a time from the sink or tub. The hot water can loosen the clog in the toilet.

STEP 3: Try adding dish soap or shampoo to the hot water

If plain hot water doesn’t do the trick, add a little surfactant like dish soap, shampoo or even bar soap. To do this, remove as much water as you can from the toilet bowl and add in a generous amount of soap in the toilet. If you are using bar soap, break it into smaller pieces and repeat pouring in hot water. This works by lubricating the clog and pipes so the blockage can move, allowing you to unclog a toilet without a plunger.

STEP 4: Use a wire hanger as a plunger replacement

If both of these options still leave you clogged, you may need to try to physically move the clog. Grab a wire hanger and try to “plunge” the toilet with the toilet cleaning brush. If the clog is almost cleared, a few forceful pumps of the brush and hanger could generate enough pressure to move it through the pipes.

STEP 5: Reverse course – buy the plunger

Is the water you’re pouring into the toilet is draining freely? Can you turn the water back on at the valve and flush the toilet again? If you used a surfactant, can you flush several times to remove residue? If yes, great, but if not, head to the store to purchase a plunger.

For plumbing problems that you can’t solve on your own, call the professionals at Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010.

What to do if a rodent dies in your ductwork

In the event a rodent dies in your home, you likely ask these questions – where the smell is coming from and how can you get rid of it? It’s common for homeowners to discover a small rodent like a rat, mouse or other creature has died in their ductwork. And it’s not pleasant.  It will most likely leave you with a horrible smell and some mess to clean up. If a rodent dies in your ductwork, the smell will most likely seep into your home, so you’ll need to plan on cleaning.

While it’s usually best to hire a professional, here are some DIY tips on what you can do in the event a rodent dies in your ductwork.

Track the Smellimage of a man inspecting an air vent

The smell of the dead animal will usually tip you off that there is a problem. But noticing a smell can mean the rodent died in one of various places in your home – the  basement, crawlspace, attic or ductwork. You’ll have to follow the scent.

If you suspect that it’s in your ductwork you should look into it using a flashlight. If you can see the animal, go ahead and remove it. However, if you don’t see it, you may need to hire a professional to search for and dispose of the animal.

Remove It

Once you have found it, you will need to remove it carefully. You’ll need supplies like a garbage bag, paper towels, gloves, and disinfectant spray. If you cannot reach the animal, you may need other tools to drag it closer to you. Once it has been located and the source of the smell has been removed disinfect the entire area. This will remove the smell and kill the germs left by the animal carcass.

Take Follow-up Steps

One thing you should do is thoroughly inspect your system and ductwork. It’s important to find any leaks to prevent another animal from getting into the ductwork. This will also increase the energy efficiency of your system.

You may also want to hire a professional to clean your ductwork. This will help get rid of any lingering odors and give you the peace of mind for your health that any bacteria or viruses have been cleaned away.

You may be able to rectify the issue of removing a dead rodent from your ductwork, but hiring a professional, like a pest control specialist is never a bad idea. To schedule a HVAC system inspection and make sure unwanted guests aren’t climbing through your ductwork, call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010.

How to Clean a Ceiling Fan

Ceiling fans are a great home accessory to create a breeze to keep rooms comfortable and add an attractive look to any living spaces. But, how do you clean a ceiling fan without making a bigger mess? The most common issue is dealing with all that dust! In the kitchen, how do you clean a greasy kitchen ceiling fan? And what about the fan attached to that super high ceiling?

Ceiling fan dirt is more than just a cosmetic issue. It can cause problems like noisy fan operation and even damage to the motor. If anyone in the house has allergies or respiratory illnesses, dust can make matters worse.

Here are a few hacks to help you clean a ceiling fan and eliminate dust, dirt and all the problems that come with it. With these tips, you can clean your ceiling fan in less time and with less hassle. Plus, when guests come over, you won’t have to hope they don’t look up!

Here are some great tips and strategies to clean ceiling fans Image shows a man trying to clean a ceiling fan with a clothwith ease:

  • Turn off your fan and make sure the blades aren’t moving.
  • Clean the motor unit and pull chains with a clean cloth.
  • Clean the fan blades using a pole duster that cleans the top and bottom of each blade at the same time.
  • If you want a deeper clean, climb up a step ladder and clean the blades by-hand. Use a lightly damp microfiber cloth and dry and finish with a dry cloth.
  • Avoid putting too much pressure on the blades as you clean to prevent breaking or damaging.
  • You can go over each clean blade with an unused dryer sheet. This may allow you to go longer between cleanings because the dust won’t cling to the blades.

Have you ever heard of the pillowcase method? You can prevent the typical dust storm that ensues from the ceiling when you clean the fan by using a pillowcase! Put a clean pillowcase around the fan blades and slide the case down the blade. You will remove the dust and keep it contained inside the pillowcase.  When you’re done, take the pillowcase outside and turn it inside to shake clumps of dust off before washing it.

Another messy situation is cleaning a greasy ceiling fan.

A kitchen ceiling fan attracts grease. And the combination of grease and dust results in a grimy, sticky residue on the blades that can be difficult to remove. Take the steps to clean your kitchen ceiling fan.

  • Wipe individual blades with dry paper towels to remove loose debris.
  • Follow up with a damp microfiber cloth to remove the layer of sticky grime.
  • Continue this process to remove the layers of grease buildup.
  • Put a small amount of a de-greasing household cleaner on a microfiber cloth and scrub if the blades are really gunky.
  • Follow with a clean, dry cloth until clean to the touch.

For extra high ceilings, get a tall ladder or an extension duster to reach the blades. The pillowcase method is also effective!

If your ceiling fan blades are textured or covered in fabric take extra care.  Keep them dust-free by using a handheld vacuum attachment to remove dust and debris. Follow with a water-moistened microfiber cloth to clean tough grime.

If you’re looking to install some new ceiling fans in your home, contact the pros at Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010.

HVAC Upgrades for Comfort & Equity

HVAC upgrades will always be a safe bet and a smart investment — and yet, these home improvements are some of the most commonly overlooked by homeowners and flippers. A prospective buyer probably won’t automatically walk away from a home without all the newest gadgets, but they won’t even look twice at a home that lacks basic heating and cooling abilities.

Therefore, you should take HVAC renovations quite seriously and make them a priority over new flooring, paint, and other aesthetic or luxury upgrades.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports that HVAC remodels have a higher average return on investment than most other types of remodeling projects, yielding a return of up to 71%.

You’ll want to take into account the region, the age and size of your home, your budget, and the layout of your property. With these factors in mind, you can get an idea of your HVAC system upgrade options.

Is your current HVAC system in good working condition?

During the home-selling process, you can bet that people will ask you the age of your HVAC system. Was your system installed less than 10 years ago? If so,then it very likely has several good years of use left in it. Anything newer isn’t likely to make a difference in home value or offers from potential buyers. Anything older than 15 years old; however, will be a turnoff to buyers.

Can you get away with an HVAC repair instead of a replacement?

If your HVAC unit is less than 10 years old but functions like it needs to be upgraded, you might be able to get away with some simple repairs rather than a complete system overhaul.

It’s hard to go wrong with most basic HVAC upgrades. This is especially true if the home you’re renovating is more than 20 years old. Even though you may only recover 50% or less of certain HVAC investments, an upgrade could capture the interest of buyers and make it worth the purchase.

Furnace/Boiler

Replacing an old furnace or boiler is an easy upgrade that doesn’t require much labor. Most furnaces can last up to 15 years with proper maintenance, but most older heating appliances require frequent, pricey repairs and cost a lot to run. By switching to a new heating appliance, you conserve energy and improve the efficiency of your home’s heating system. This is attractive to potential buyers.

Insulation

Fiberglass insulation only costs around $1,200 on average and yields a $1,400 return upon resale within a year of completion. Poor insulation is an easy fix and a low-risk investment that yields a 95% to 116% return. Properly insulated walls improve a home’s ability to regulate internal temperatures and reduce the demand on its HVAC system.

Air DuctsImage shows new ductwork installed to add equity to a home

If you are replacing an old HVAC system with a more efficient one, you might need to upgrade your ductwork to accommodate it. Ductwork is made to last 25 years at the most, but it starts to degrade in about 15 years. Deterioration will reduce the efficiency of an HVAC system significantly. It’s a good idea to replace the ductwork if you plan to sell your home in the near future.

Windows

Approximately 35% of a home’s heat escapes through low-quality windows. Even if the walls of your home are highly insulated, it won’t do much good if the windows aren’t equally energy-efficient.

Doors and Weather Stripping

Another way to significantly improve your HVAC efficiency with minimal labor is to upgrade to energy-efficient doors and repair or replace any old weather stripping. Some of the most energy-efficient materials available for residential doors include fiberglass, steel, and vinyl. Try to avoid wood and glass if your goal is to prevent airflow.

After replacing your door, you should see a return of 75% to 91% of your investment upon resale, depending on the type of door you’ve chosen. When swapping out your door, don’t forget about the weather stripping. New weather stripping will ensure a tight seal around your doors and windows and prevent air leaks. This is one of the cheapest upgrades you can make to your home, ranging from $130 to $340.

Central Air

People want to be comfortable in every room of their home all year long. Most homebuyers today consider central heating and air conditioning a standard feature rather than an upgrade. So,without it, you may struggle to sell your home. A central air installation can cost anywhere from $6,000 to 15,000, but it could increase your home value by up to 10%.

Roof

While the roof serves to protect everything under it, it’s also an important insulator. Inefficient roofing materials account for 25% of heat loss. Just by upgrading to modern, high-tech shingles, you can relieve a lot of the strain on your HVAC system and improve your indoor comfort. Asphalt shingles can lower a roof’s surface temperature by up to 50 degrees and increase home value by $12,000. Investing in a new roof might seem like a big expense, but it has been shown that you can recover 105% of the cost at resale.

You can count on the professionals at Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, and Electrical to help you maximize your HVAC upgrades. Call us at 800.461.3010 or submit our scheduling form, to get started.

 

Plumbing Maintenance Guide

Summer is coming to an end and during a season transition it’s always a good idea to do some house maintenance to prepare for upcoming weather. Guarding against problems is easier and more cost effective than fixing them after they occur! Preparing your plumbing for fall and the months ahead is important – let’s look at this quick plumbing maintenance guide.

Clean the gutters around your home

Gutters become blocked in the summer and it’s common for leaves and branches to become trapped in them. In the

long term this will only become a larger problem when more leaves and branches fall in the coming months. Significant gutter clogs are a much bigger problem if they aren’t maintained, so it’s important to do some outdoor plumbing maintenance. Clearing your gutters at the end of summer lowers the chance you’ll end up with a clogged gutter in fall, or having water back up because it cannot drain from the roof properly.

Check and drain your water heater

So many other appliances depend on your water heater to function properly. As a result, your water heater must be in good working order to keep the rest of your home running smoothly. It’s also timely to drain your water heater, because there are a few hot summer days left and you can get by without hot water for a while.

  • Look for cracks or rust, wet spots and leaks. These are signs it’s time to call a plumber.
  • Also, if you find rust, leaks or cracks on the anode rods or pressure relief valves, immediately call a plumber.
  • Once you’ve inspected the water heater, drain the tank. This is an annual maintenance task and is done to flush out the sediment that may have built up over the year. Sediment build up can damage the inside of your unit,

    making a loud popping sound.

Check your all your fixtures, appliances and pipes

  • Even the smallest of leaks can waste gallons of water every year. Anything that holds or moves water needs to be checked.

The sink

  • Visually check underneath your sinks. Do you see evidence of water? Is there a sign of past water damage? Try running the water for a few seconds. When you turn it off, check the pipes below. If you see water dripping around them you may have a leak. If you are unsure if it’s serious, check with your plumbing professional.

The toilet

  • Toilets create many household leaks. They can be tricky to find or monitor. If you want to see if you are flushing extra time and money down the toilet, put some food coloring in the tank. Don’t flush the toilet for a few hours. When you go back, check to see if there’s food coloring in the toilet bowl, If so, you know your toilet is leaking.

The washing machine and dishwasher

  • Visually check your washing machine and dishwasher to ensure they are operating efficiently. Do you see any water damage around the connections? The next time you run either one, take a look and make sure everything is tight and no water is escaping.

The pipes

  • Lastly, but not least – check your pipes for leaks. Problem pipes are prone to freezing or busting in the winter. If you notice any rust or leaks on your pipes, call a plumber. While you’re checking into it, you may want to ask about insulating your pipes before winter to protect them from freezing conditions.

If you have concerns after running through our quick plumbing maintenance guide, you may need a professional plumber. For expert help, call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010.

 

Light bulbs keep burning out? Here’s why.

Not only is it frustrating, but even worse, in some cases, it can mean there’s a fire hazard. Finding out why your light bulbs keep burning out too soon is crucial.

How long should bulbs last?

Incandescent bulbs should last for about a thousand hours. Compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs and LEDs (light-emitting diode) typically last much longer – about 10 thousand usage hours for CFLs and 25 thousand hours for LEDs. Still, if your bulb is burning out before it should, it’s time to find out why.

Why do my light bulbs keep burning out too soon?

There are many possible reasons, here are the main ones:Light bulb that is not working

  1. You may be using the wrong type of light bulb in a certain fixture.
  2. A bulb may be loose or incorrectly connected.
  3. The bulb’s power supply voltage may be too high.
  4. The dimmer switch may require a different bulb.
  5. Recessed lighting may be causing overheating in the insulation about it.
  6. Filaments in the bulb could be broken due to excessive vibrations.

Wrong bulb type

If a lamp is rated for 40 watts, placing a 1o0-watt bulb in the fixture creates excess heat. This can shorten the bulb’s life, and possibly even cause a fire to start. Always make sure the bulb’s wattage is not more than the fixture’s wattage recommendation. Another possible problem is that the bulb is not right for its location. LED bulbs are better to light fixtures that have frequent on/off usage throughout the day, but CFLs are not.

Loose bulbs

You may notice a bulb flickering if it is loose. Check to make sure that the bulb is correctly connected into the socket and if it’s loose, turn it until it’s snug. Ideally, the fixture’s tab and the bulb solder should be roughly the same size. This will create a good connection between them. If they are not, try switching light bulb brands.

Wrong power supply voltage

In the United States, 120-volt electrical outlets are standard in homes. Be sure that the light is connected to a standard outlet. If it is, use a multimeter to check if the reading is more than 120 volts. If you are having electrical supply issues, contact a licensed electrician right away.

Dimmer switch with incompatible bulb

Using CFL or LED bulbs can damage the bulb or circuitry in an older dimmer switch. Those were made to be used with incandescent bulbs. Be sure your dimmer switch and light bulb are compatible.

Recessed lighting overheating

“Can lights” hang inside the ceiling. Newer models may be designed to be in contact with insulation (IC-rated) and not cause any problems with overheating, but older recessed lighting fixtures can overheat. If they are not, this situation poses a fire risk. Be sure to install IC-rated fixtures so that they don’t overheat insulation.

Broken bulbs due to vibration

Excessive vibrations like ceiling fans or automatic garage doors can crack or prematurely cause incandescent bulbs to burn out. If the problem bulb is near an entrance, in a ceiling near heavy upstairs foot traffic, or in other places where there are vibrations you may want to switch to an LED bulb. They are better designed to handle vibrations.

If you’re concerned about your home’s electrical system, call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010.