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PLUMBING • DRAINS • COOLING • WATER QUALITY
Tuesday, 17 April 2018 00:00

Preventing Water Leaks Around the Home

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While water leaks can add up to higher utility bills over time, they can also cause extensive damage to your home and furnishings. Undetected water leaks can cause mold to grow inside the walls of your home, causing health problems.
Here are some areas to check for water leaks around the home.

1. Washing Machine Hoses

One of the most damaging water leaks that can occur in the home is a burst washing machine hose. If the washing machine is on the main floor or upstairs the damage can be even more extensive. Check the hose connections to make sure they are tight. If the hoses are over 5 years old, or show signs of cracking or buckling, they should be replaced. Consider installing braided stainless steel hoses, which can withstand more pressure than rubber hoses.

2. Leaking Toilets

Leaking toilets are often the most overlooked leaks in the home because they are the least likely to be noticed. To test for leaks add a few drops of food coloring to a gallon of water and pour it into the toilet tank. Without flushing the toilet if the coloring appears in the bowl there is a leak.

3. Water Heater Leaks

Water heaters that a beyond their life expectancy (typically 8-10 years) are most susceptible to leaks. Rust and corrosion inside the tank will eventually cause water to start leaking. To keep your water heater working reliably and reduce the likelihood of corrosion, flush sediment from the hot water tank annually.

4. Outside Faucets

That slow, constant drip can add up to hundreds of wasted gallons of water every year. In addition, water dripping against the house can cause decay and create an inviting environment for pests like termites and ants.

Have plumbing questions? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We're here to help.
If your home's cooling system is getting on in years and it may be time to replace it with a new, more reliable system, here are a few things to consider when it comes to new systems.

1. Reliabilty - An air conditioner is a major investment. Do your research and go with a proven brand and you'll reduce the chances of having problems down the road.

2. Efficiency - By choosing an EnergyStar rated system you'll save you up to 30% on your annual cooling bill.

3. Professional Installation - The most important day in the life of your air conditioner is the day it's installed. Proper sizing and correct installation is critical. Choose a heating and cooling company with experience and one that stands behind their work, now and down the road.

4. Air Quality - To reduce indoor pollution consider attaching a whole house air cleaner to your furnace or air handler. You can have peace of mind knowing your new system is capturing small contaminants that can cause health problems.

Have questions about choosing a new air conditioner? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We're here to help.
We don't often think about our drains and sewer line until there is a problem, but there are a few simple steps you can take to ensure that your home's drains sewer line and are kept in good condition both from inside and outside of the pipe.

Sewer & Drain Maintenance Tips

Homeowners are responsible for keeping the sewer lateral, the pipe that connects to the municipal sewer main.

You can help keep your home's plumbing system flowing freely from the sink drain to the sewer main by following these simple tips:
  1. Keep cooking fats and grease out of your kitchen drain. Pour cooking oil and grease into a disposable container and place it in your freezer. Once it solidifies you can dispose of it in the trash.
  2. Don’t flush wet towels, wipes, diapers, q-tips or hygiene products down the toilet.
  3. Avoid planting trees and plants where the roots may spread near the sewer line. Root intrusion is one of the most common causes for sewer line damage.
  4. Have ABC periodically inspect your sewer line to check for and fix the little problems before they become major repairs. Video sewer line inspections can find problems like cracks, tree root intrusion and obstructions.
For all your sewer and drain needs, you can trust ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning to keep your system running smoothly.

Should You Repair Or Replace Your Air Conditioner?

Should you repair or replace your AC?

If your old air conditioner is racking up the repair bills and still not performing well, it may be time to consider if replacement is a better option than yet another repair. Because a new air conditioner is a major investment, the following should be taken into consideration:

1. Repairing the AC unit may be the least expensive immediate option, but could cost more in the long run. For example if the evaporator coil has numerous leaks or is severely corroded, it’s time to replace the unit.
    
2. Depending on the age of your current air conditioner, installing a new, energy efficient system could pay for itself over time. By looking at the Energy Star Label on new air conditioners you can find out how efficient the unit is, as indicated by a SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating). The SEER rating tells you how efficiently a unit uses electricity: the higher the number, the greater the efficiency.

The typical SEER rating of units manufactured prior to 1992 is about 6.0. In 1992, the government established a minimum cooling efficiency standard for units installed in new homes at 10.0 SEER. High efficiency units have a rating of at least 12.0 SEER.

3. New Features - Some HVAC systems come with additional features that provide greater comfort. Two-speed units can run on low-speed (using about 50 percent of the energy) 80 percent of the time. Consequently, they use fewer on/off cycles and produce fewer drafts and small temperature swings.

At ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning our first priority is to keep your air conditioner running as reliably and efficiently for as long as possible. If you have questions about whether to repair or replace your current air conditioner our home comfort specialist can help.
Many people purchase a conventional tank water heater and simply forget about it until it stops working and it's time to replace it. However, with a few simple water heater maintenance steps you can increase the lifespan of the unit while also making it work more efficiently.

Water Heater Maintenance Tips

1. Flush the water heater tank annually

Almost all water heater manufacturers will recommend flushing the water heater tank annually. Draining the tank will remove the sediment that has collected at the bottom of the tank which will allow the burner to work more efficiently.

Check the manufacturer's instructions for the correct procedure for draining your model of water heater.

2. Check the anode rod and replace it if needed

The anode rod hangs in the tank to help prevent its inside from rusting out. It should be checked annually when the tank is drained. Replacing a badly corroded rod is far cheaper than replacing the water heater.
Without a good anode rod, hot water will rapidly corrode the inside of the tank, shortening its life.

3. Insulate the water heater tank

This is a step you only have to do once. Wrapping your water heater in a blanket of insulation can improve it's efficiency up to 40 percent.

Have questions about maintaining your water heater? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning.
"I recently scheduled an air conditioning tune-up for a very reasonable price with ABC Southwest Plumbing & A/C. I also had several small "honey do" items I needed completed while my husband was recuperating from a major surgery. Bryon arrived at the house the very next morning and within a couple of hours gave me an estimate, went to work and had everything completed within 2 hours. Bryon was very professional and at the same time very personable, expressing his sympathy towards my husband's condition. I was extremely pleased with his service and highly recommend ABC Southwest and Bryon for your air conditioning and plumbing needs. Fast, friendly service! "

– Bryon E., Google+ 03/28/18


"ABC Plumbers are great to work with. Jonathan was courteous and did a great job. I would recommend your company to ALL my friends and family. . And if ever I needed plumbing work again I would call on you."

Buzz Box Review, 03/27/18


"ABC Plumbing were very nice and Jonathan cared about my feelings. I would recommend them to ALL my friends. I can't say enough about Jonathan and his helper. They did an excellent job and cleaned up after they finished their work I'd give them MORE than 5 stars if I could. "

– Jonathan K.,  Facebook Review, 03/26/18
Low Water Pressure

If your home's water pressure doesn't seem strong enough there are a number of possible causes. First, if the water pressure is only low in a few places, such as a shower head or faucet, it could be that the shower head or faucet aerator are clogged with mineral deposits. Soaking the fixture in vinegar overnight will dissolve the buildup and get the water flowing.

If low water pressure is a problem with all plumbing fixtures, inside and outside the home, consider the age of the home. If the home was build in the 1960 or 1970s it may have galvanized steel pipes. The galvanization was designed to prevent corrosion of the steel pipes. However, when the galvanization wears away, rust can build up over time. The result is reduced water pressure. To fix the problem, the pipes will need to be replaced. If the house was built in the 1980s or later, there is likely another issue with the plumbing. Check that the main water shut-off valve is fully open.

Perform a Water Pressure Test

Water pressure can be tested using a pressure gauge on an outside water spigot. Water pressure is measured in pounds per square inch (PSI), and normal water pressure is typically between 30 and 80 PSI. If the reading is less than 40 psi, the city may be delivering water at a low pressure. If the city can't boost the pressure, consider installing a water pressure booster system.

Have questions about water pressure in your home? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We can help with all your plumbing needs.
Turn off AC when Away?

Central air conditioners are one of the most energy intensive appliances in the home. Using a programmable thermostat to automatically control the cooling schedule can avoid energy waste, increase comfort and save you money. So what about when you're going to be away from home on vacation for more than a few days? Should you turn the AC completely off, or just turn the temperature up so it runs less often?

One important factor to consider is humidity. If the forecast includes a chance that the temperature and humidity are going to reach tropical levels, mold and mildew could be a concern if the windows are closed. Remember, an air conditioner doesn't just cool the air, it removes moisture. Turning the thermostat up 10 degrees will enable the AC to turn on every occasionally and keep humidity levels in check.

Have a smart thermostat? Some include an app that will let you monitor temperature and humidity while you're away. If the temperature and humidity get too high, you can simply turn on the AC when your away.

If excess humidity is not a concern and you plan to turn off the air conditioner while you're away, it's a good idea to close the drapes or blinds on all windows that receive direct sunlight during the day.
Allergies

As the spring season arrives and trees and plants bloom, filling the air with pollen, many allergy sufferers retreat indoors with the AC turned on and windows closed. But is there more that can be done to keep the air on the home free of pollen and other allergens?

Changing the HVAC filter once a month is a good practice, but does buying a more expensive filter advertised to trap smaller particles really make a difference in how clean the air is in your home? It's important to remember that the main purpose of HVAC filters is to keep the equipment free of dirt that can damage the unit and cause it to wear out prematurely, or lower its performance. While the filter may do a good job of removing many of the larger particles from the air, removing pollen and other allergens are not what HVAC filters are design to do.

To effectively remove allergens from the air we recommend a whole home air cleaner. Depending on the design, these systems can not only remove the finest pollen, mold and bacteria particles from the air, but can even kill biological contaminants live viruses and remove harmful chemical vapors.

Have questions about improving the air quality in your home? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning, we can help.

Indoor Air Quality
According to the EPA, indoor air pollutants ranked among the top five environmental risks to public health. Because we spend around 90% of our time indoors, where the air can be 2 to 5 times as polluted as outdoor air, it's important to take steps to reduce the harmful health effects of pollutants like dust mites, mold, chemicals, radon, pet dander and more.

Here are 10 steps you can take to create a healthier indoor environment.

1. Vacuum Carpets and Dust Your Home Every Week

Although they can't be seen with the naked eye, dust mites are common in most homes. Dust mites can aggravate allergies and asthma, leading to respiratory irritation. A vacuum with a HEPA filter is the best way to reduce the number of dust mites in the bedroom and throughout the home.

2. Change Your Furnace Filter Every Month

A dirty furnace air filter not only makes your central heating and cooling system operate less efficiently, it can cause dirt to build build up inside your air ducts, creating an ideal environment for dust mites, mold and mildew.

3. Wash Bedding Every Week In Hot Water

Using a washable dust cover on mattresses can also reduce reduce allergens like dust mites.

4. Ensure that Kitchen and Bathrooms are Well Ventilated

Proper ventilation of cooking fumes and stale, humid air is critical to reducing the growth of mold and mildew.

5. Maintain Humidity Levels Between 30–50%

When the air is too dry in the winter, it can lead to cracked, dry skin and respiratory irritation. If the air is too humid it can lead to harmful mold growth.

If the humidity levels are difficult to control in your home, consider installing a whole house humidifier or dehumidifier that works in conjunction with your home's central heating and cooling system to maintain healthy humidity levels.

6. Test For Radon

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas and comes from the natural breakdown (radioactive decay) of uranium. Exposure to radon can cause lung cancer. Buy a radon test kit and if the radon levels are unhealthy, take steps to reduce the entry to your home by sealing cracks inside the walls and on floors.

8. Let Fresh Air Inside

Whenever possible, increase ventilation by opening windows to let fresh air inside the home.

9. Buy Air Cleaning Houseplants

Years ago NASA conducted study on the effectiveness of different houseplants in removing harmful chemicals from the air. They found many houseplants are effective at removing chemical pollution. By choosing house plants like Boston Fern and English Ivy, you can reduce chemicals like formaldehyde, benzene, ammonia in the air.

10. Consider Installing a Whole House Air Filtration System

If someone in the household has allergies or asthma, consider installing a whole home air filtration system. With features like UV light and advanced, multistage filtration, advanced home air cleaners can remove almost any type of indoor pollution.

11. Have Your Air Ducts Professionally Cleaned

Over time, dust and dirt can build up inside air ducts, providing an ideal environment for dust mites, mold, bacteria and other harmful pollutants to thrive. Regular duct cleaning will ensure that the air blowing through your air ducts is not spreading pollution throughout your home.
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