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Choosing the Right Water Heater Replacement: Tank vs. Tankless

Posted on August 16th, 2018 by ChristainSon_Admin

As a homeowner, the water heater in your home ensures you have plenty of hot water to do laundry, wash dishes, and shower. Over time, the water heater will wear out and eventually need to be replaced. When it is time for a new hot water heater for your home, you will want to explore the pros and cons of tank-type vs. tankless water heater replacement.

What Is the Difference Between Tank and Tankless Water Heaters?

Most people are familiar with traditional tank-type water heaters. There are electric, gas, and propane models available. They come in different sizes, with the average sizes storing between 30 to 50 gallons of preheated hot water inside the tank.

Electric tank-type models use heating elements inside the tank to preheat hot water. Gas and propane models use a burner unit in the bottom of the tank to preheat hot water. As the preheated hot water is used, it is replaced with cold water. The cold water is then heated to the preset temperature level based on the thermostat setting.

Tankless water heaters are a fairly new residential product that first started to gain popularity back in the 1990s. As the technologies have improved over the past few decades, costs for this type of water heater have continued to decline, making them much more affordable for homeowners today.

Tankless heaters also are offered in electric, gas, and propane models. Electric models use heating elements to create hot water, while gas models use a gas burner. Tankless heaters heat hot water on demand as it is needed, rather than storing preheated hot water.

When the hot water is turned on, cold water flows through the heater and starts to heat within the unit. The water continues to heat to the preset temperature level and continues to provide hot water until it is shut off. Once the hot water is turned off, the tankless heater also shuts off and stops making hot water.

plumber installing water heater

Tank-Type Water Heater Pros

  • Lower Initial Costs: The overall costs for a new water heater and installation tend to be less with tank-type heaters.
  • Easier to Maintain and Repair: Since tank-type heaters have been around longer, the costs of maintenance and repairs is normally less and easier to do.
  • Fewer Installation Issues: It is easier to swap out an existing tank-type heater for another tank-type heater.
  • No Retrofitting Costs: You do not have to retrofit the area where the heater is installed if you are replacing an existing tank-type heater.
  • Steady Flow of Hot Water with Intermittent Usage: If you turn the hot water on and then off for a short period, like when rinsing dishes, the hot water flow tends to have a more consistent temperature level and does not cool as quickly.
  • Compatible with Recirculating HVAC/Water Heater Systems: If your home has a recirculating HVAC/water heater system, tank-type heaters are compatible.
  • Access to Hot Water during Power Outages: If the power goes out, you have access to whatever hot water is currently being held inside the tank.

Tank-Type Water Heater Cons

  • Recovery Time to Make More Hot Water: It can take longer to make more hot water and bring it back up to the desired temperature level.
  • Less Energy Efficient: Tank-type heaters have to run periodically to maintain the desired temperature level, which will use more energy.
  • Requires More Space: Tank-type heaters take up more space to install.
  • Shorter Lifespan: Tank-type heater last between 10 and 15 years on average.
  • Limited Hot Water Supply: There is a limited amount of hot water available at any given time based on the size of the tank. Once it is used up, you have to wait while it heats up cold water.
  • Increased Risk of Water Damage: Tank-type heaters can leak as they get older, which can cause water damage if the water does not drain into the overflow drain pan.
  • Safety Concerns: The safety pressure release valves can wear out and need to be replaced. In addition, there can be problems with hot water overheating, leading to increased pressure inside the tank, which can cause the tank to explode.

wall mounted gas boiler

Tankless Water Heater Pros

  • Water Usage Savings: You will use less water because you normally do not have to wait as long for hot water to start flowing.
  • Ongoing Energy Savings: The energy savings gained with tankless heaters is enjoyed for the life of the heater. Since hot water is delivered on demand, you also don’t have the added costs of maintaining the water at a preset temperature.
  • Requires Less Space to Install: Tankless water heaters can be installed just about anywhere in the home, including in the kitchen, bathroom, an attached garage, or basement.
  • Unlimited Potential to Create Hot Water: There is an endless supply of hot water available with tankless heaters.
  • Less Risk of Water Damage: Tankless heaters don’t store water, so the risks of water damage from leaks are less.
  • Increased Safety: Tankless heaters are safer without risks of water overheating and other concerns common with tank-type heaters.
  • Longer Lifespan: Tankless heaters last, on average, around 20 years.

Tankless Water Heater Cons

  • Higher Initial Costs: The initial costs for the heater and installation is higher, compared to tank-type heaters.
  • Retrofitting Costs: There can be added retrofitting costs when replacing a tank-type heater.
  • Inconsistent Hot Water with Intermittent Usage: If you use water intermittently, you can experience a short delay in the flow of hot water each time you turn it on and off. One way to remedy this issue is to insulate hot water plumbing pipes.
  • Delayed Starting: It does take a few seconds for the tankless heater to start making hot water and come up to the desired temperature.
  • Not Compatible with Recirculating HVAC/Water Heater Systems: Tankless heaters are not compatible with recirculating HVAC/water heater systems since hot water is made on demand.
  • No Hot Water During Power Outages: If the power goes out, you may not have access to hot water, depending on the type of tankless heater installed.
  • Multiple Demand Limitations: If you want to run the dishwasher, take a shower, and have a load of laundry going all at the same time, tankless heaters will have issues providing enough hot water at the desired temperature level.

plumber smiling at the camera

Tips for Deciding Between a Tank-Type and Tankless Water Heater

To help you decide whether a tank-type or tankless water heater replacement would be best for your home, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you constantly running out of hot water? If you never have enough hot water to meet your daily demands, a tankless system might be a good choice.
  • How much hot water do you use daily? If you use around 40 gallons of hot water each day, then a tankless heater may be perfect for your home. On the other hand, if you are using around 80 gallons or more, then a tank-type heater could be better.
  • Does your household require hot water for multiple purposes at the same time? If so, a tank-type heater is better at ensuring hot water is delivered at consistent temperatures to more than one area of the home at the same time.
  • Do you have space considerations? If space is a concern, then a tankless heater might be better.
  • What is the amount of your water heater replacement budget? Your budget can determine what models, sizes, and types of water heaters you can afford.

As you are thinking about these questions, it is worth pointing out that a home can have more than one tankless heater or a combination of a tank-type and tankless heater. For instance, two heaters can be installed next to each other to help deliver hot water when it is needed in more than one area of the home. Some people also choose to have individual heaters installed and connected to specific plumbing lines, such as one heater for the kitchen and laundry room and another heater for the bathrooms.

For additional information about tankless and tank-type water heaters, help selecting the best water heater for your home, and a quote for water heater installation, please feel free to contact your nearest Christianson Air Conditioning & Plumbing location in San Antonio, New Braunfels, Temple, or Austin today! We also offer water heater repairs and maintenance services for gas and electric tank-type and tankless heaters, as well as other plumbing services and heating and cooling system services.

Troubleshooting Six Common Water Heater Problems

Posted on July 31st, 2018 by ChristainSon_Admin

Learning there are problems with your hot water heater is often self-evident through normal day-to-day usage. You turn on the hot water to take a shower, and nothing but cold comes out. You may notice the temperature of the hot water is excessively hot. You might hear snapping and popping coming from the heater when it is heating hot water.

No matter what the water heater problems are, it is important to troubleshoot them to determine the causes. Once you know the causes, you can then decide if it is something you can resolve on your own, or if you need to call a professional plumber for assistance.

  1. Hot Water Not Hot Enough or Runs Out Quickly
  • Check the hot water thermostat setting and turn it up if needed. On electric models, there will be an upper and lower thermostat.
  • Look for leaks around the water heater and tighten any connections.
  • Check the overheat breaker on electric heaters located above the upper thermostat and reset it.

If none of the above fixes the problem, your water heater may be too small for your hot water needs.

water heater repairing

  1. Hot Water Is Excessively Hot
  • Check the thermostat and turn it down.

Excessively hot water is dangerous. If the thermostat was not turned up, one potential problem is the heater is overheating due to a defective thermostat or heating element. The overheat breaker on the heater should be blowing as a safeguard. It is highly recommended to shut off the breaker to the heater and call a professional plumber for help.

  1. No Hot Water
  • Check to make sure the breaker has not blown.
  • On electric heaters, verify the secondary safety switch is turned on. This looks like a light switch located near the hot water heater.
  • On gas models, verify the pilot light is lit.

If you still don’t have hot water after checking these things, the heating elements may need to be replaced if you have an electric heater. The thermostat could also be defective and no longer working. On gas heaters, the burner may need to be replaced if it is not turning on.

  1. Snapping and Popping Sounds When Heater Runs

This problem typically means there could be scale and other types of sediment building up in the tank. You will want to have the tank drained and flushed to try to remove it. On electric heaters, you should also check the heating elements and have these replaced if there is excess buildup on them.
man analyzing water heater temperature

  1. Pilot Light Won’t Light or Stay Lit

On gas water heaters, if your pilot light keeps going out or will not stay lit, it often means there is a problem with the thermocouple. Other causes could include clogged or dirty gas lines and a defective gas valve.

  1. Burner Does Not Stay On

The burner is the part on gas water heaters that heats the water. It is located in the bottom of the tank. If it is going out mid-cycle, it could need to be cleaned and/or replaced.

If you need further help troubleshooting water heater problems, please feel free to contact your nearest Christianson Air Conditioning & Plumbing location in San Antonio, New Braunfels, Temple, or Austin today! We offer hot water heater installation, repairs, and maintenance services for gas and electric tank-type and tankless heaters.

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Is the Average Water Heater Replacement Cost Expensive?

Posted on July 24th, 2018 by ChristainSon_Admin

When you have problems with your hot water heater, you need to determine whether it is better to repair it or replace it. One important consideration is the average replacement costs of hot water heaters, which depend on four factors:

  1. Age of the water heater. On average, tank-type heaters last between 10 to 15 years. Tankless heaters tend to last up to 20 years. If your current heater is nearing the end of its useful lifespan, it might be worthwhile to have it replaced rather than repaired.
  2. Cost of repairs vs. replacement. You need to compare the costs of repairs to the cost of having a new water heater installed. For instance, your estimate for repairs is $500, and the cost to get a new tank-type heater is $700. Since there is not much difference in cost for this scenario, it would be better to invest in a new water heater.
  3. Type of water heater. The type of water heater being replaced does influence the cost. Electric heaters tend to cost less compared to natural gas and propane-type heaters. There are also variances in costs between tank-type and tankless heaters you need to evaluate.
  4. Size, capacity and/or gallons per minute of the heater. For tank-type heaters, there will be differences in cost based on the size and capacity of the heater, as well as the number of gallons per minute it will deliver. For tankless heaters, there are variances in cost based on the gallons per minute of hot water the heater can generate.

white water heater or boiler

Whether the average replacement cost is expensive will vary based on your budget and household needs. Costs run from around $800 with installation to several thousands of dollars for a high-end tankless system. Please keep in mind, to determine your actual replacement costs, you would need to request a free quote.

Pro and Cons of Different Types of Water Heaters

Aside from the replacement costs for a new water heater, it is equally beneficial to weigh the pros and cons between tank-type and tankless heaters.

Tank-Type Pros

  • Ideal for homes that have a large hot water demand at the same time.
  • Costs tend to be less than tankless heaters.
  • Installation processes and time is often less.
  • Electric tank heaters are up to 90% energy efficient.

Tank-Type Cons

  • Hot water temperatures have to be constantly maintained.
  • Tanks need their own dedicated space inside the home.
  • Tanks have to be installed over emergency drain pans, with added drain lines.
  • Shorter average lifespan compared to tankless heaters.

Tankless Pros

Smiling Water Heater Technician

  • More energy efficient than tank-type heaters.
  • Can help reduce water heating energy bills by as much as 25%.
  • Only has about a 5% heat loss, compared to up to 30% with tank-based heaters.
  • Never run out of hot water.
  • Requires a smaller space to install.
  • More flexibility with where the heater can be installed.
  • Lasts around 20 years.

Tankless Cons

  • Takes much longer to install.
  • Retrofitting can require new plumbing.
  • Could require multiple units to meet a home’s hot water demands.
  • Costs can average upward of twice the cost of tank-type heaters.

For assistance in deciding what type of hot water heater is best for your home, and a free water heater installation and replacement quote, please feel free to contact your nearest Christianson Air Conditioning & Plumbing location today!

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Eight Warning Signs You Need to Know to Avoid Emergency Plumbing Repair

Posted on July 1st, 2018 by ChristainSon_Admin

Your home’s plumbing will give you subtle early warning signs to watch for that could indicate a bigger problem is brewing. Ignoring these signs often leads to unexpected and surprise plumbing problems that will then require an emergency plumbing repair service call to fix.

  1. Small Puddles of Water Around the Dishwasher: This indicates there is a slow leak in either the water line or drain line connection. If you don’t have it checked, you could end up with a flood of water in the kitchen.

Flooded Floor In Kitchen From Water Leak

  1. Small Puddles of Water Around the Washer: This is another appliance problem where there is a slow leak in the water intake or outtake lines. You will want to get the water lines checked and fixed to avoid a flooded laundry room.
  2. Water Stains Under Cabinets: If you notice there are water stains underneath sink cabinets, there is a slow leak in the water or drain lines. Fittings can come loose, washers can wear out, and other such issues can develop from normal usage.
  3. Toilets that Run Every Hour or So: If you notice your toilet tank is refilling with water every hour or so, there is a leak from the tank into the bowl or even from the tank out onto the floor in the bathroom.
  4. Strange Sounds Coming from the Hot Water Heater: If you hear snapping, cracking, or popping coming from your hot water heater, it needs to be serviced. The heating elements can be wearing out, and the tank could require a professional flushing to remove scale, rust, and other sediments.
  5. Strange Smells Coming from the Drains: If you notice a smell like rotting food or a horrible raw sewage smell, it could indicate a few different plumbing problems. The first one often means the drain lines are dirty and are accumulating grease, hair, soap, and food particles. The second one tends to mean there is a problem with the sewer drain line.

Man with clothespin on his nose

  1. Small Patches of Greener or Wet Grass: If you notice you have patches of greener grass or an area that always is wet, even after a dry spell, you most likely have a cracked sewer drain line. You will want to get this fixed right away. Otherwise, if you ignore the problem, you could awake one morning and find raw sewage coming up the drain lines in your shower, tubs, and sinks.
  2. Slow Draining Sinks Even After Plunging: Slow-draining sinks often indicate there is a difficult and hard-to-remove clog forming in the drain pipes somewhere. It could be directly under the sink or farther down the drain line inside the walls of the home. You will want to have your drain lines professionally cleaned to fix this problem before it completely clogs.

In addition to calling for plumbing service when you notice any of these warning signs, another way to avoid emergency plumbing service calls is with annual maintenance of your home’s plumbing system. Annual maintenance helps ensure everything is working correctly and can help identify potential problems before they become major repairs.

If you require 24-hour emergency plumbing repair, preventative plumbing maintenance service, or have other plumbing repairs or problems, please feel free to contact your nearest Christianson Air Conditioning & Plumbing location in Austin, San Antonio, New Braunfels, or Temple today!

Don’t forget to also request AC maintenance service to keep your AC running great year-round!

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Four Signs Your Home Could Require Emergency AC Repair

Posted on June 28th, 2018 by ChristainSon_Admin

No one wants to wake up in the middle of the night to a warm and humid home during the hot Texas summers. Yet, air conditioning systems do break down unexpectedly when they are not well-maintained, and then they require an emergency AC repair service call.

Require Emergency AC Repair

Long before your home’s AC breaks without warning, there are several early warning signs it will exhibit. If you can catch these and have the AC system repaired by our air conditioner company, you can hopefully avoid scheduling a 24-hour emergency repair service. Some of the more common warning signs to watch for include:

  1. There is a reduction in the force of the airflow blowing out of the vents.

This problem can be related to the air conditioning system not having access to unrestricted air flow. There can be a few causes for this type of problem. The most frequent cause is a dirty and clogged air filter.

If you notice this problem, the first thing you will want to do is check your air filter. If it is dirty and caked full of dust, dirt, and other debris, then change it. DO NOT run the air conditioner without a filter. Doing so will allow dirt, hair, dust and other debris to get inside the system and potentially damage it.

The other cause for a reduction in airflow could be an obstruction in the air vents themselves. It is not unheard of for a small animal, like a squirrel, mouse, or bird to get into the air vents and build a nest.

The materials they use to build the nest can block the air flow and create a restriction in the air vents. You will want to have our air conditioner company clean your air vents and verify all obstructions have been removed.

  1. The air conditioner is constantly running but not blowing cold air.

The cause for this issue could be that your air conditioner needs to have its coolant levels recharged. There might also be a slow leak in the cooling coils where the coolant is escaping. Additionally, if the air intake vents on the sides of the outdoor unit are dirty and need cleaning, the cooling coils cannot properly release heat.

This will cause the coolant to become warmer, so the air blowing out can feel cool or even warm. Having these types of problems fixed sooner than later could make a huge difference in your air conditioner breaking down unexpectedly.

  1. The thermostat “clicks” on but the air conditioner does not start.

For this type of problem, there are a few things you can check to see if you can get it started on your own before calling for AC repair. Start by verifying the breaker switch for your AC has not blown.

Depending on how your home is wired, the breaker for your AC outdoor unit could be in the main breaker box or in its own breaker box next to the unit. If the switch has blown, reset it and see if this fixes the problem. If the switch blows again, call for AC service, as there is an electrical problem that is overloading the system.

Another reason your AC will not start is if any of the wiring has become disconnected or damaged. Sometimes small rodents and other animals will chew on any exposed wiring. If they chew all the way through the wires, the signal between the thermostat and outdoor unit will be broken, and the AC will not turn on.

You can check to see if wiring near the unit appears to have been damaged. However, make sure to shut off the breakers first before touching the wiring. If you find wires are damaged and broken, then you will want to call for emergency AC repair.

  1. The air conditioner only runs for a short time and won’t turn back on for hours.

This issue can be related to low coolant levels inside the unit. It can also be caused if you have your thermostat set too low, and the coolant moving through the cooling coils is freezing. Yet another cause is if the water drain line on the side of the outdoor unit is clogged, it can cause the system to shut off.

For the latter two issues, you can do a self-check yourself before calling for service. Turn your thermostat up five degrees and wait to see if the system starts running correctly. If it does, then you had the unit set too low. You may still want to schedule a service call just to have your system checked.

For a clogged drain line, inspect around the outdoor unit and see if water appears to be coming out from underneath the unit. If it is, then the drain pipe is clogged. These are easy to clean if you have a removable one. If you are not sure how to do this, then call an AC repair technician for help.

When to Call for HVAC Emergency Service

If you failed to catch any of the early warning signs or your air conditioner just stops working unexpectedly, then you will need to decide if you truly need HVAC emergency service. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you have children in the home?
  • Are you elderly or caring for elderly parents in the home?
  • Do you have pets in the home?

If you said yes to one or more, then you need emergency repair service. The hot Texas summers can be extremely difficult and hard for children, the elderly, and pets to deal with when they are stuck in a home that is 90+ degrees. Even if it is the middle of the night and your AC stops working, you can call and get 24-hour emergency repair service.

runner resting after running hard

Otherwise, if you can wait until morning and do not have children, pets, or elderly parents in your home, then you can still schedule same-day service so you will not have to be without your AC for long.

  • Emergency AC Repair Tip: Make sure to store our emergency service phone number in your cell phone or on a piece of paper hung on the side of your refrigerator.

Five Tips to Keep the Home Cool When Your AC Breaks

While you are waiting for AC repair service, there are several things you can do to help keep your home cool:

  1. Keep window blinds and curtains closed. You want to keep out direct sunlight, as this can heat up the home. You can also hang up sheets, beach towels, or light comforters over the windows for added layers to stop the heat.
  2. Turn up the speed on ceiling fans. If you have ceiling fans in the home, turn them up to medium or high speed. This will help keep the air flowing throughout the home better and prevent pockets of warm air from accumulating near the ceiling.
  3. If it is windy outside, create a natural cross-breeze upstairs. Open windows on opposite sides of your home in the bedrooms and leave the doors open. The cross-breeze will help draw up hot air from downstairs and vent it out of the home. If it is not windy out, you could place box fans in the windows and have one side blow into the home and the other outward to create an artificial cross-breeze.
  4. If you have children or elders, get out of the house. Go to a neighbor’s, the mall, a library, or a 24-hour diner where there is air conditioning and you can stay cool. You can let your AC service technician know you are leaving the home and ask them to call you when they are on their way to fix your AC.
  5. Keep electronics off and do not cook inside the home. Keep the TV, video games, computers, and other electronics off. These generate heat. Also, do not use your stove or oven or run the dishwasher or dryer, as these appliances will also create excess heat inside the house.

How to Avoid Emergency AC Repair Calls

Emergency AC Repair Calls

The most effective way to avoid having to call for emergency AC repair service is with regular maintenance and AC tune-up services. In Texas, since we tend to use our AC units almost year-round, it is highly recommended to have AC systems inspected twice a year—normally in the spring before the hot summer arrives, and again in the fall when temperatures start cooling down.

Bi-annual AC maintenance service helps prevent problems and can identify issues before your system fails unexpectedly in the middle of the hot summer. If you have not had your AC serviced yet this year, or if you are noticing any of the common warning signs we discussed or need emergency repair service, do not hesitate to contact your nearest Christianson  Air Conditioning & Plumbing location in San Antonio, Austin, New Braunfels, or Temple today!

How Can a Dehumidifier or Humidifier Benefit My Texas Home?

Posted on June 24th, 2018 by ChristainSon_Admin

It is important to ensure the level of indoor humidity in your Texas home is kept at the right percentage level year-round. At Christianson Air Conditioning & Plumbing, we are frequently asked: “Do I need a humidifier or dehumidifier for my home?” To answer this question, let’s look at what humidity is and how it can affect indoor air quality.

Man installing a dehumidifier

Humidity is the amount of moisture that is in the air. Ideally, you want to make sure the humidity level in your home is less than fifty percent. A good average to aim for is around forty percent. Maintaining around forty percent humidity in your Texas home will ensure you are comfortable.

This humidity level also helps promote better indoor air quality, alleviates problems with allergies and asthma, and reduces the spread of illnesses. In addition, you will discover you can set your thermostat a few degrees higher in the summer and a few degrees lower in the winter and still be comfortable.

Why You Need a Dehumidifier

As we all know, during the hot Texas summers, humidity levels can be rather high and make going outside almost unbearable. Even in your home during the summertime, humidity levels can increase and cause problems with mold and mildew.

If you have allergies or suffer from asthma, increased humidity levels can make it difficult to breathe. Not to mention, no one likes feeling moisture on their skin while they are trying to get a good night’s sleep.

While your air conditioner is designed to lower the indoor air temperature, it does not fully remove all humidity. You may have noticed your home feels warmer than what the thermostat says on those 90+ summer days. This is because the humidity inside is higher. When humidity levels are higher, they can make it feel warmer.

A dehumidifier can help by removing the excess moisture from the indoor air. As the water is extracted from the air, it makes it drier. Drier air feels cooler on the skin. Additionally, you won’t have to worry about condensation inside the home, which can promote mold and mildew growth.

Why You Need a Humidifier

The steam from the humidifier in the night

Humidifiers, on the other hand, add moisture to the indoor air. They are perfect for your home in the winter when humidity levels can drop below 40 percent. As the air becomes drier, it makes it easier for bacteria and viruses to be spread. It also can cause dry and chapped skin.

Another side-effect of drier air with low humidity levels is it will make you feel colder. If you have ever gotten the chills when temperatures dip down to the 50s or 60s, it is probably because there is very little humidity in the air.

Furthermore, dry air is not good for anything made from wood, including your furniture and flooring. Low humidity levels will suck moisture out of the wood and cause it to dry out. Dry wood can become brittle and break easier.

Hopefully, you can see the benefits of getting a dehumidifier and humidifier for your Texas home. To learn more about getting a dehumidifier and humidifier installed, or for AC repair and plumbing repair services, please feel free to contact your nearest Christianson Air Conditioning & Plumbing location in San Antonio, Temple, New Braunfels, or Austin today!

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DIY Plumbing 101: Common Mistakes Homeowners Make

Posted on May 31st, 2018 by ChristainSon_Admin

Tackling home plumbing problems, from bathtub faucet repair to fixing leaks and unclogging drains, requires a certain amount of knowledge and skill. Many homeowners make the mistake of assuming these types of plumbing repairs are not difficult to do on their own.

Unfortunately, their plumbing repairs are not completed correctly, which often leads to calling a professional plumber for help. In some cases, homeowners cause more damage on top of the existing plumbing problems, including:

Leakage Of Water From Pipe

  • Forgetting to shut off the water. This mistake happens quite frequently. Homeowners start taking apart a faucet or pipes and, next thing they know, they have a rush of water flooding their homes. All this excess water can damage drywall, subflooring, and insulation, and even create problems with mold and mildew.
  • Excessively tightening plumbing fixtures and components. Trying to stop a drip by using excessive force on the faucet’s handle or over-tightening connections could cause it to break. Doing these things could also create leaks, cracks in pipes, and other problems where water is flowing freely into the home.
  • Not matching the right plumbing pipe sizes. Most homeowners have no idea how big their plumbing pipes really are until after they’ve bought the materials. The water is off, so they figure they might as well complete the job. What difference does it really make if the replacement pipe is a little smaller or bigger? It makes a big difference.

Smaller pipes can create excessive pressure in the lines and cause other blowouts. Larger pipes can reduce overall water pressure, as well as create pressure issues if the water flowing through the pipes goes from a smaller section to a larger one and back to a smaller one.

  • Attempting to join together two different types of plumbing pipes. Trying to connect a copper pipe to a PVC or PEX pipe is difficult to do. There are special fittings required to ensure the connection is leak-free. Simply using plumber’s tape and joint compound is not enough. Eventually, the pipes will start to leak at the connection.

Man at home dealing with neighbor flood leak

  • Failing to find out if a permit is required. Certain types of plumbing repairs could require obtaining a permit before work begins. If you find out later you needed a permit, you could be looking at not only the cost of the permit but also other penalties and fines.
  • Not completing repairs to current building code standards. If you ever sell your home and the work you did was not up to current building codes, you will have to bring things up to code.
  • Using chemical drain cleaners to try to unclog drains. Chemical drain cleaners are toxic and harmful to people and pets, as well as the environment. The chemicals in these cleaners could do more damage to your home’s plumbing than good.

How to Avoid These Mistakes

The easiest way to avoid plumbing mistakes is to know when a job is beyond your abilities. This is when you should call a professional plumber from Christianson Air Conditioning & Plumbing. Feel free to contact your nearest location in Temple, New Braunfels, Austin, or San Antonio, or call (512) 246-5400 or (210) 651-1212 for 24-hour plumber service.

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Clogged Drainage System or Sewer Line? It’s Time to Call the Experts

Posted on May 24th, 2018 by ChristainSon_Admin

Dealing with a clogged drainage system or sewer line can be quite challenging. It is not uncommon to think you fixed the cause of the problem, only to have it return a short time later. The reason these types of plumbing problems can be difficult is that there can be one or more underlying causes of the problem in the first place.

Fixing one of the problems will not fix other drainage and clogging issues. Eventually, what you did will pale in comparison, especially if there is a major clog. You could wake up to discover water flowing over the toilet seat, sink drains backed up, or raw sewage oozing up the floor drains in the basement. At this point, you will want to pick up the phone and call a professional plumber for help.

You Need to Call a Plumber Experts

How Your Home’s Drainage System and Sewer Lines Work

There are a series of drain pipes that are inside the walls and floors of your home. Each drain pipe is connected on one end to a different fixture, such as:

  • Toilets
  • Sinks
  • Bathtubs
  • Showers
  • Laundry Tubs
  • Dishwasher
  • Washing Machine

The other end of the drain pipe is connected to your home’s main sewer drainage line. Each drain line and the main sewer line are also connected to various vent pipes. You may have noticed these sticking out of your roof, especially in areas near bathrooms. The vents allow sewer gases and foul smells to escape, rather than waft back up the drain lines and into the home.

The main sewer drainage line runs from the home, outside, and is connected to your city’s sewer system or into your septic tank. Keep in mind, this is just a general overview of most home’s drainage system lines. Some homes have dual systems, where one drain line is for raw sewage and the other for gray water.

When you run water or flush the toilet, the water and any objects run down the drain line and into the main sewer drainage line. From there, it flows out of the house and into the city’s sewer system or your septic tank.

What Happens When There Is a Clog?

If a drainage problem occurs, it often means there is a blockage somewhere within the series of drain pipes that can affect how water drains and where it goes. For instance, if there is a major blockage in the primary sewer drain line just before it exits out of the house, it could cause water and raw sewage to back up all of the drains in the home on the lower floor.

If the clog is somewhere else, like at the location where the drain line connects to the main sewer line, then anything coming down drain lines and into the sewer line, prior to this blockage, could be rerouted back up that drain line.

To illustrate this type of clog, consider there is a sink, toilet, and shower connected to the main sewer line. The sink’s and toilet’s drain lines come before the shower’s drain line. A clog forms in the main sewer line just past where the shower drain line connects. If you turn on the sink faucets or flush the toilet, water and waste could flow back up the shower’s drain.

Signs of Clogged Drains and Sewer Lines

There are several warning signs you will notice when clogs are starting to form in drain lines and the primary sewer line. Learning to recognize these signs can mean the difference between having the drain lines cleaned and experiencing a serious clog with raw sewage and waste coming back up the drains.

Clogged Drains and Sewer Lines

  • Slow-Draining Water: This is a sign a clog has started to form and has not yet become a major problem.
  • Gurgling Sounds from Other Drains: If you hear this sound, it means there is a clog somewhere in one or more drain lines. Water cannot drain correctly, so it creates air bubbles.
  • Water Coming Up Drains: This is an indication there is a clog in the sewer line that is not allowing all the water or waste to flow out of the home.
  • Wet Areas Outside the Home: If you notice your grass is constantly wet, even when it is dry outside, this means water could be coming out of sewer line access pipes or the sewer line is broken.
  • Pooling Water in the Basement or Main Floor: If you notice water pooling in the basement, it could be coming up from floor drains. This often indicates the blockage is in the main sewer line.
  • Foul Smells Coming from the Drains: This indicates there is a blockage in the drain or sewer line where sewer gases are not venting correctly.

How to Determine the Source of the Clog

Based on the symptoms, it is possible to determine where the clog could be located within the drain lines or main sewer line. Normally, if there is just one drain that drains slowly or not at all, it means the clog is somewhere in that particular line.

On the other hand, if you notice several drains are draining slowly or water is flowing back up multiple drains when you run water someplace else or flush the toilet, then the clog is probably located in the main sewer drainage line. The location of the clog within the line will depend on which drains are experiencing problems.

Common Causes of Drainage System and Sewer Line Clogs

There can be all sorts of things that can cause clogs in drain and sewer lines. There really is no easy way to tell what is causing the clog until after you have drain cleaning and clog removal service performed by your local plumber. Keeping this in mind, the source of the clog could be caused by:

  • Grease
  • Hair
  • Soap
  • Detergents
  • Lint from Clothing
  • Food
  • Excessive Toilet Paper Usage
  • Flushing Items You Should Not (Paper Towels, Sanitary Napkins, Tampons, etc.)
  • Kids’ Toys
  • Jewelry

Why Hire a Professional for Drain Cleaning and Clog Removal?

want a professional plumber for drain cleaning

Since there can be more than one reason for a clogged drainage or sewer line, it can be difficult to troubleshoot and find the source of the problems on your own. Let’s assume you have multiple problems, where there are a few different minor clogs in drain lines prior to flowing into the main sewer line and blockages forming both in the main sewer line inside the home and outside the home.

You might use a plunger to clear out the clogs in the drain line. Yet, removing the blockages in the main sewer line requires more than a plunger. Since only part of the problem was fixed, the other blockages will still cause drainage system issues.

This is why you want to hire a professional plumber for drain cleaning and clog removal service. Having your drainage and sewer lines cleaned not only gets rid of the clog but also removes any buildup on the inside walls of the pipes, like soap, hair, or grease.

In some cases, the cause of the clog could be from tree roots that have grown into and through sewer drain lines outside the home. If this happens, then fixing the problem requires digging up the yard and replacing the damaged sewer lines with new ones. As you can imagine, this type of work can be rather messy and can be stinky since there is raw sewage involved.

If you are having problems with slow-draining drains, stopped up drains, clogs in sewer lines, or other plumbing problems, please feel free to contact your nearest Christianson Air Conditioning & Plumbing location in San Antonio, Austin, New Braunfels, or Temple today! You may also request drain cleaning and clog removal service by using our online non-emergency service request form.

Plumbing Tips for Pet Owners

Posted on May 16th, 2018 by ChristainSon_Admin

Pet care and plumbing safety aren’t often brought up together. However, dogs, cats, and other animals can interact with your drains and pipes in unexpected ways. Neglect certain practices, and you are likely to need a licensed plumber to fix the problem—immediately.

What to Do

Despite the risks posed by pet dander, curious animals, and thirst, there are things you can do to protect your plumbing and your pet. These include using:

  • Drain stoppers or strainers: Bathing a dog or cat is necessary, but just a small amount of shedding can cause a drain to clog. They may not seem to be shedding at the time. A rinse and a scrub can, however, release a lot of fur. The stopper or strainer will block the hair and prevent a big fuzzy glob from clogging things and causing a backup.

Home Drains Clean

  • Wrap pipes: There’s no guarantee a teething puppy or kitten won’t chew on an exposed pipe. They could get hurt or cause a major plumbing problem. Wrap pipes in a chew-resistant material or, if possible, hide them entirely so local plumbers aren’t needed for repairs.
  • Cover drains: A young animal that sticks its paw in a drain can be seriously injured. If they’re small enough, they could even fall in and get trapped inside the drain. That is why a cover is so important. Drain covers are easy to purchase and prevent the dangers of pets getting into open drains.
  • When washing a pet, check the water pressure and temperature: High water pressure can be uncomfortable for your pet and, at the worst, even injure them. Low pressure might prolong the cleaning process. You want it just right, so the experience is as positive as possible. Always test the temperature with the inside of your wrist, first, to make sure it’s not too hot or too cold.
  • Make sure there’s plenty of drinking water: Always leave water out. Thirsty pets can get desperate. It’s not unheard of for them to turn on faucets, which can be dangerous and cause a flood or high water bill.

What Not to Do

To avoid adverse impacts on your plumbing:

  • Don’t leave pipes exposed: Exposed pipes encourage clawing and chewing, which may lead to injury and a phone call to a 24-hour plumber.
  • Don’t flush pet waste or cat litter: Pet waste and litter can easily clog up pipes. If a cat enjoys reaching into the toilet bowl, the fur and litter it might carry can lead to clogs. Try to keep the toilet off limits.
  • Don’t keep the lid up: Close the lid so pets can’t reach the water. Besides, they risk getting hurt reaching in, and chemical residue from commercial cleaners can be harmful if ingested.

­­­­­Count on Christianson Air Conditioning & Plumbing

Christianson is a 24-hour plumbing service experienced in all types of installations and repairs. Whether problems are caused by pets or other factors, a licensed plumber will find the source of the issue and take the right course of action. For assistance, contact us today or call one of our local offices in case of an emergency.

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10 Ways to Avoid High Water Bills

Posted on May 7th, 2018 by ChristainSon_Admin

The monthly bills eat into your budget, so it’s no wonder people often seek more affordable cable TV plans or utility companies with better rates. High water bills may require plumbing contractors to take a look at what is driving up the cost. While some might consider this an extra expense, addressing why the water rate is so high can help save money on the water bill in the long run.

According to CNN Money, the average household incurs a cost of $335 annually on water bills. If your monthly bill seems higher than it should be, and/or has gone up, here are some possible reasons why.

save money on the water bill

When to Call a Plumber

Plumbing contractors are experienced in dealing with water problems. Their knowledge and skill go way beyond using drain cleaner or a plunger, so finding and fixing a leak or clogged pipe before it’s too late can save you a great deal of money. Our first tip on avoiding high water bills is to call a plumber who can address the problem and ensure your plumbing system is functional and cost-effective.

  1. Contact a plumber if:
  • Water pressure is low: A lack of pressure can mean residue has clogged a pipe, a pipe is leaking, or one has completely fractured. The issue can be within your plumbing or a city-wide problem, but only a plumber can determine the root cause.
  • There are backups: Although a backup means no water is getting through, a blockage can trigger problems such as raw sewage and floods; it can also lead to a pipe rupture, so you can see how fixing the problem can lead to conserving on the monthly bills.
  • There’s no hot water: This may be caused by a failed pipe or a bad water heater, which can impact other utility bills. A plumbing inspection can identify the reason for water heater failure and decrease any costs associated with it.
  • You hear water running: When no water is being used, but water is heard running through the pipes, there’s likely a leak. Look for wet or brown spots on the walls or ceilings, which your plumber can use as a guide to find the source of the problem.
  • There are gurgling sounds: A drain problem may be the culprit if there’s gurgling sound while using the toilet, shower, dishwasher, or washing machine. You risk a backup by keeping these running and unnecessarily wasting water.
  • You experience slow drainage: This is another sign of a clog, which can damage the pipe, along with any method you might use to clear it. If the kitchen or bathroom sinks don’t drain properly, call a plumber.

Room by Room: How to Keep the Bills Down

The following tips will help keep the water bill down and protect the environment, just by changing some simple habits in and around the home. If you’re serious about how to save money on a water bill, try the following:

In the Kitchen

  1. Refrigerate drinking water: Either use bottled water or fill up a pitcher and store it in the refrigerator. You avoid running the tap while waiting for cool-enough water to drink. If the pitcher has a filter attached, that’s better. Or fill a cup from the tap and put some ice in. These methods are a water-saving alternative to keeping the tap running while the water cools off, unnecessarily wasting resources.

drinking bottle water

  1. Use a dishwasher properly: According to gov, a dishwasher uses six gallons of water, which amounts to less than washing dishes by hand. A kitchen faucet flows at two gallons per minute. Also, scraping food off plates is enough; there’s no need to pre-wash them. Your dishwasher will handle the rest of the cleaning. Only run the system when it is full, as the same amount of water is used no matter how big the load. The same goes for doing the laundry; wash only a full load of clothes before running the cycle.
  1. Install a faucet aerator: This novel device reduces water flow. By adding air to the outgoing stream, it limits the volume of flowing water, but it also compacts it to maintain or even increase the pressure. You only need to screw it onto the bottom of your faucet; no plumbing companies are needed. Some new faucets come with aerators pre-installed, saving as much as 700 gallons per year on your bills, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
  1. Efficient water heating: Running the tap until it gets hot is a waste of time and—water. Instead, take some water and use the stove or microwave to heat it up. Therefore, none is wasted, other than what you intend to use. A point-of-use hot water heater is another option. Installed under the kitchen sink by plumbing contractors, it can supply hot water as soon as the tap is turned on, so it is useful when washing dishes and pots or fixing up hot drinks. Plus, it costs much less than wasting gallons of water at a time.

In the Bathroom

  1. Shorter showers: Low-flow showerheads keep water usage down, but so does reducing the time your shower head is running. During a 15-minute shower, it will use 37.5 gallons, but a five-minute shower will only draw 12.5 gallons. The U.S. Department of Energy also says low-flow models use just 2.5 gallons per minute, compared to older units that can use up to 5.5 gallons each minute, yielding a 25% to 60% reduction in your water bill. Sticking to the five-minute shower rule, you’ll also save with this alternative, compared to taking a bath.
  1. Check the toilet: A toilet leak can waste hundreds of gallons of water per day. From time to time, look for evidence of leakage, such as unusual sounds and evidence of moisture outside the toilet or on the floor. To save water here:
  • Drop a dye tablet into the tank; if you soon see colored dye in the bowl, there is a leak and a plumber should be called.
  • Change the toilet flapper every year to ensure it’s always working properly, or even install an adjustable one to adapt to the flush volume as needed, potentially saving gallons each time you flush.
  • Install a fill cycle diverter, which directs overflow water back to the tank while the toilet is filling.
  1. Turn off the water when brushing/shaving: The longer you run the faucet, the more water you waste. Only run the tap when you need to wash off your toothbrush. The same goes for shaving. Use your razor without the faucet on, running the water only when you need to rinse off. This potentially saves several gallons of water each time, as plumbing companies well know.

In the House

  1. Manage your hot water system: Foam insulation will prevent heat loss, so you’ll achieve the desired temperature faster, without waiting for running water to heat up. Also, move the hot water heater closer to where the hot water is used, so there’s less distance for heat to be lost. Other ways to reduce bills include installing a hot water recirculation system or a tankless hot water heater. Although an up-front investment, these can lead to lower bills and long-term savings. Also, don’t forget professional maintenance from time to time to avoid unforeseen inefficiencies and failures.


washing the car

  1. Focus on water conservation: Ways to conserve water use outdoors include attaching rain barrels to the gutter drain spouts; the water collected can be used for washing the car or watering the plants. Soaker hoses, wading pools, and garden mulch (reducing evaporation) reduce the amount of water you use. You’ll also save on water bills by sweeping the sidewalks, having drought-resistant plants, and washing the car less frequently (or going to a car wash).

Call Christianson Air Conditioning & Plumbing

Since 1950, we have addressed the various plumbing and air conditioning needs of customers throughout central Texas. We focus on what customers need, finding the right solution, being responsive, and providing exceptional service through training and a caring attitude. If you suspect a leak or a problem with a faucet, sink, toilet, or water heater, or wish to have a plumbing inspection, submit a service request or call one of the most respected plumbing companies in the region at 512-246-5400 in Austin and 210-651-1212 in San Antonio.


  1. http://money.cnn.com/2012/02/27/pf/water_bills/index.htm
  2. https://water.usgs.gov/edu/activity-drip.html
  3. http://www.nyc.gov/html/dep/html/ways_to_save_water/waterleak_wide.shtml
  4. https://www.homeadvisor.com/cost/plumbing/
  5. https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/water-heating/reduce-hot-water-use-energy-savings
  6. https://www.epa.gov/watersense/bathroom-faucets

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