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Gas vs. Electric Water Heater Replacement: Which Is More Efficient?

Posted on December 12th, 2018 by ChristainSon_Admin

Eventually, the water heater in your home will show signs that you will need a water heater replacement. Some of the more common signs it is time to start looking at new water heater models are if you notice any of the following:

  • Cracking and Popping Sounds
  • Water Leaks Around the Tank
  • Hot Water Not Hot
  • Rust on the Tank Bottom
  • Rust or Sediment in Hot Water
  • Water Heater Runs Almost Constantly
  • Water Heater Circuit Breaker Blows Frequently
  • Pilot Light Won’t Stay Lit
  • Water Heater Is 10 Years or Older

Before scheduling new water heater installation, it is worthwhile to consider the advantages and disadvantages of gas and electric water heaters. While gas and electric water heaters both provide hot water for your home, one could be more efficient than the other.

Water Heater Types

Before reviewing the pros and cons of gas vs. electric water heaters, you need to know what type of water heater you want to be installed. The two most common types are storage tank water heaters and tankless (“on demand”) water heaters. There are also solar powered, heat pump, and condensing models. For our purposes, we will be looking at storage tank and tankless models.

plumber holding clipboard and pen

How Water Is Heated

With storage tank water heaters, the water is heated and stored inside the tank. There is standby heat loss which occurs, so the tank will run periodically to reheat the water to the preset temperature level. With tankless water heaters, the hot water is heated when it is required.

There are both electric storage tank and tankless water heaters. Electricity heats up a heating coil to create the hot water. In storage tank heaters, there are normally two coils—one at the top of the tank and one at the bottom—for more even water heating.

There are also both gas storage tank and tankless water heaters. Natural gas is used to heat up the water in a storage tank or as it flows through a tankless water heater. Gas heaters will either have a pilot light that remains lit all the time or an electric ignition to start the flames required to heat the hot water.

Pros of Gas Water Heaters

  • A gas water heater can heat cold water much faster.
  • It only takes about 60 minutes to heat up 50 gallons of hot water in a storage tank.
  • Gas storage tank heaters have a faster recovery rate.
  • Gas water heaters are better suited for families of four or more people.
  • Some models may still work even during power outages.
  • The cost of natural gas can be much less than electricity.

Cons of Gas Water Heaters

  • Gas water heaters are less energy efficient.
  • There is more heat loss with a gas water heater.
  • Water heater installation can be more complex.
  • They require the tank be connected to a natural gas line or tank.

Pros of Electric Water Heaters

  • Electric water heaters are more energy efficient.
  • There is less heat loss with an electric water heater.
  • They can be easier to install.
  • They do not require a home to have access to a natural gas line or tank.
  • They can be easier to repair and maintain.

Cons of Electric Water Heaters

  • Electric storage tank heaters have a much slower recovery rate.
  • It can take several hours to heat up 50 gallons of hot water.
  • Electric water heaters will not work if the power goes out.
  • Electric water heaters may not meet a family’s hot water demands.
  • The electricity needed to heat hot water can cost more than natural gas.

Which Is Better for My Home?

As you can see, there are pros and cons to both gas and electric water heaters. While a gas water heater is less energy efficient, it does heat hot water faster. Plus, the costs for natural gas are typically less than electricity, so you could end up coming out ahead with a gas water heater.

On the other hand, even though an electric model may take longer to heat hot water up, it is not as prone to excess heat loss like gas heaters. Gas heaters lose some of their heat from the exhaust fumes that have to be vented out of the home. Not to mention, if there is an unexpected hike in natural gas rates, electricity rates could end up being less.

It really comes down to deciding which type of water heater installation will best meet your home’s hot water demands. Additionally, it depends on whether you have access to a natural gas line. If your home is not connected to natural gas, then getting a gas water heater will have added installation costs to run a natural gas line.

electric water heater tank

What You Need to Know about Hot Water Recovery Rates

The hot water recovery rates of water heaters have to do with how fast the water heater can make more hot water. If your household uses a large amount of hot water at the same time each day, then you will want to look at models that have a much higher hot water recovery rate.

You should also take into account the FHR. On storage tank models, it is common to find a “first-hour rating” or FHR. What this rating tells you is how much hot water the tank can provide continuously for one hour.

For example, you are looking at a 50-gallon water heater that has an FHR of 25 gallons. If you use more than 25 gallons of hot water in one hour, the water heater will not be able to meet your hot water demands. Contrarily, if you find a tank with a 40 FHR, but you only use 20 gallons of hot water in a typical hour, then the tank may not be the most efficient for your home.

Storage Tank or Tankless Water Heaters?

Choosing which water heater installation you need also requires you to decide between storage tank and tankless models. Storage tank water heaters are better suited for homes that have a higher hot water demand all at the same time. Tankless water heaters are not able to easily keep up with hot water demands when it is needed in multiple places simultaneously.

For example, you like to run the dishwasher while doing laundry and giving your kids their evening baths. In this situation, your home would benefit from a storage tank water heater to ensure you had plenty of hot water.

Conversely, if you only use cold water to do laundry, start the dishwasher before going to bed, and only need hot water to bathe your kids, then a tankless heater might be able to meet your hot water demands.

While tankless water heaters are much more energy efficient than storage tank water heaters, they do cost more upfront to get installed. However, they tend to last much longer. So the initial upfront costs could easily end up being less in the long run if you had to replace a storage tank heater two or three times over the lifespan of a tankless water heater.

Other Things to Make Water Heaters More Energy Efficient

If you are looking for ways to improve the energy efficiency of your water heater and lower your hot water heating costs, there are several things you can do, as follows:

install water heater

  • Insulate Storage Tank Heaters: Insulating the storage tank will help reduce heat loss and keep more heat inside the tank.
  • Insulate Hot Water Pipes: Heat loss occurs through hot water plumbing, and insulation will help. Insulation can also help provide hot water faster, which saves water.
  • Install Low Flow Faucets and Fixtures: Lowering the amount of hot water you use will save on hot water heating and water bills.
  • Turn Down the Thermostat on Storage Tank Heaters: Lowering the setting a few degrees will lower your water heating bills.
  • Buy an Energy Star® Water Heater Replacement: Energy Star® water heaters are more energy efficient than standard models without this rating.
  • Schedule Annual Water Heater Service: To make sure your water heater is operating at its optimal level, regular annual maintenance is necessary.

Do not hesitate to contact the plumbing and hot water heater replacement experts at your nearest Christianson Air Conditioning & Plumbing location if you have further questions about what type of water heater is best for your home or for help figuring out your home’s hot water demands.

We are happy to lend our expertise and advice to help you choose the best water heater for your home in New Braunfels, San Antonio, Temple, or the Austin Metro Area. Call us today!


How to Prevent Damage from Frozen Pipes

Posted on November 27th, 2018 by ChristainSon_Admin

Freezing can cause water pipes to suddenly burst. Water within a pipe expands when it turns to ice, eventually causing the pipe to burst, which can lead to extensive water damage in your home. Call a 24-hour plumber immediately to resolve potential problems, before your home floods and you experience major losses.

The temperature threshold for pipe freezing is 20°F, according to the Building Research Council,1 although you want to keep your home above the freezing point, which is 32°F. One of the greatest risks of property damage in low temperatures, burst pipes often occur in basements. About 37 percent of all pipe failures happen in a basement, and a water pipe burst typically causes $5,000 in water damage. By comparison, pipe insulation, which can prevent pipe freezing, costs as little as $0.50 per linear foot.1

Why Do Pipes Freeze?

The simplest answer is that water expands as it turns to ice. The pressure it can exert on a conduit such as a pipe is quite strong. Pipes most susceptible to freezing include those exposed to outdoor temperatures, located near uninsulated exterior walls and in basements, attics, garages, and other unheated interior spaces.

Pipes don’t usually break exactly where an ice blockage forms. One can imagine the radial expansion of ice pushing against the pipe walls, causing them to crack, but that’s not often the case. Freezing and expansion dramatically increase the water pressure between the blockage and a closed faucet. A burst tends to happen somewhere along that length of pipe, often where there is little or no ice.

burst pipe

On the other side of a blockage, water can always return to its source. Pressure buildup there isn’t a problem, yet pipes should be insulated and exposed to heating along their entire lengths. In northern climates, they’re usually installed inside of building insulation. Although not completely immune to problems during extremely cold weather, pipes in northern climates can be further protected by sealing any holes in the building.

In homes built in southern climates, water pipes are more often found in unprotected areas since sub-freezing temperatures occur so rarely. Contractors and homeowners often overlook the need for insulation. A lack of protection means exposed pipes are more vulnerable during southern cold spells. More cracks or openings in walls—especially where TV, cable, and phone lines enter—and the wind chill effect can accelerate ice blockage in pipes.

Potential Damage from Pipe Bursts

Pipes are most at risk from freezing in unheated areas of your home. A heating system failure can, however, increase the risk of freezing anywhere. The higher up the break occurs, the more space the water has to fall because it is under the influence of gravity. It will continue until it reaches the lowest floor, basement, or crawlspace, causing water damage to every flooring material, piece of furniture, and structural component it touches.

Mold is another potential problem. It doesn’t take long to form in the presence of moisture, and it can crop up long after the initial cleanup. Mold can cause further property damage and trigger allergies, asthma, and other health conditions. It can be particularly dangerous for people with weakened immune systems.

If you have an older home, cleaning up after a broken water pipe can expose you to other dangers. Lead-based paint can be problematic in damaged areas. Asbestos in old homes can be broken loose during a break, or the clean-up process can release asbestos dust into the air. Microscopic abrasive fibers can damage sensitive respiratory tissues and lead to serious health problems over time.

What to Do if Your Pipes Freeze

Once a pipe has burst and water is flooding your home, get to the shut-off valve immediately. Call your local 24-hour plumber for help finding the break and to send an experienced professional to repair the pipe. If the pipe is frozen but hasn’t yet burst, you can thaw it out by:

  • Using a portable space heater, electric heating pad, hair dryer, or hot-water-soaked towel.
  • Slowly moving the heat source toward the coldest spot you can find.
  • Turning on the faucet, letting water run until the pipe thaws out.

Continue applying heat until full water pressure is restored. Be sure to check other faucets as well; if one pipe has frozen, it’s safe to assume others may have.

However, you don’t want to concentrate the heat on a single location. If the ice cracks, it can shatter the pipe. Nor do you want to use a blowtorch or any device with an open flame for thawing pipes, due to the fire risks. Call a plumber if you can’t reach the frozen area or if you suspect there is one, especially if you turn on a faucet and the water just trickles out.

dripping tap

How to Keep Pipes from Freezing

If you are in the middle of a cold spell, there are limited options for eliminating the causes of the problem. However, during cold weather, here are ways you can prevent pipes from freezing:

  • Close garage doors to minimize contact between cold air and water supply lines.
  • Let cold water drip from faucets; running water helps prevent freezing.
  • Open kitchen/bathroom cabinets to bring warmer air closer to plumbing.
  • Set the thermostat to the same temperature, day and night.
  • Keep the heat no lower than 55°F when away from home.

These long-term solutions can protect your home and pipes during future cold spells:

  • Insulate basements, crawlspaces, and attics that don’t have insulation already.
  • Seal cracks and openings around doors, windows, and near the foundation.
  • Drain any water from swimming pools and water sprinkler supply lines.
  • Remove and drain any outdoor hoses and store them indoors.
  • Close inside hose bib supply valves and open outside valves so water can expand without breaking your pipes.

Before an impending freeze, you might realize your home has insufficient insulation. There’s little time to schedule a renovation. You can, however, drain and stow away hoses, drain your swimming pool circulation system, and cover vents around the foundation. A quick way to protect faucets and exposed pipes is to wrap them in newspaper, plastic foam, or trash bags. Old rags can prevent frozen pipes as well.

These steps may protect your pipes in cold weather. This, in turn, can help you avoid losses associated with water damage. Contact your insurance company right away if pipe breakage and water damage do occur. The sooner you file a written claim, the more protected you may be.

Plumber at Work

Also, review your coverage to see whether property repairs, debris removal, and living expenses (if you need to find temporary housing) are covered. Temporary repairs may be required by your homeowner’s insurance policy. Don’t fix anything permanently, or your claim may be denied. Be sure to keep photos and videos of the damage, as well as receipts for any bills associated with temporary repairs or housing costs.

The concern about frozen water pipes is that many insurance policies don’t cover them unless you’ve taken reasonable care to maintain your heating system, drain water from your plumbing system, and shut off the water supply.

Suspect You Have a Frozen Pipe? Call a Plumber

Christianson Air Conditioning & Plumbing provides all types of plumbing service, including leak repair and emergency services. You can call a technician in Austin or San Antonio who can tell you how to unfreeze pipes or find your water supply shut-off valve.

If in immediate need of service and a 24-hour plumber, call us or request service online, letting us know what the problem is so our technicians are ready to fix it as soon as they arrive. To reach our Austin office, call 512-246-5400. To reach us in San Antonio, call 210-651-1212 today.

Source:

  1. http://disastersafety.org/wp-content/uploads/Freezing-Bursting-Pipes_IBHS.pdf


Bathroom Plumbing and Caulking Tips: How to Caulk a Bathtub

Posted on November 24th, 2018 by ChristainSon_Admin

Bathtubs have caulk around them to prevent water and moisture from running down behind and under the tub, as well as into the walls. Some of the more common signs it is time to replace the caulk around your tub include:

  • Cracked Caulk
  • Missing Sections of Caulk
  • Mold & Mildew in the Caulk
  • Caulk Discolorations (Yellowing)

Replacing the caulk is a task some people can do, while others may find it more challenging and messy. If you don’t want to attempt the project, our bathroom plumbing experts are more than happy to replace the old caulk with new for you.

bathtub white ceramic interior in bathroom

Ready to get started? Here are our tips for calking a bathtub.

Gather All Tools and Materials

You will want to make sure you have everything you need to do the project beforehand. The last thing you want to do is to stop halfway through because you forgot something.

  • Plastic Scarper/Utility Knife: Make sure it has a plastic blade so it does not damage the tub.
  • Shop-Vac: You need a vacuum cleaner with a hose attachment.
  • Painter’s Tape: You want the tape to be at least two inches wide or wider.
  • Caulking Gun: This tool is needed to apply the caulk unless you get the prefilled tubes.
  • Caulk: You want bathroom tub and tile caulk. Choose acrylic for ceramic bathtubs and silicone for all other tub material types.
  • A Sponge/Cleaning Rags/Paper Towels: These are needed to clean up after removing the old caulk and putting the finishing touches on the new caulk.
  • Rubbing Alcohol: This helps clean and remove smaller pieces of the old caulk.
  • Chlorine Bleach: If your caulk had mold and mildew in it, you will need bleach to treat the area before applying new caulk.
  • Caulk Removal Tool: This special tool can be beneficial to have if the caulk is difficult to remove.

Removing the Old Caulk

Start by using your plastic scraper to scrape off the old caulk. If you opted for a utility knife, you can use it to separate the caulk from the tub and wall first, then use the caulk removal tool to scrape it off.

Once you have gone completely around the tub, remove any large sections of old caulk and discard. Vacuum around the tub. Run your hand over the spot to do a final check to ensure you did not miss any old caulk. If you have more caulk to remove, make sure to vacuum around the tub once you are done.

If you have mold and mildew, you will want to mix about a half cup of chlorine bleach with a gallon of cold water. Using a sponge or rag, completely scrub the areas where the caulk used to be around the tub. Allow this to dry overnight.

Next, use the rubbing alcohol and a sponge or rag to wipe around the area where the old caulk used to be. You want to make sure to use it on the wall and tub, too. This helps prepare the surface so the new caulk sticks and seals correctly.

bathroom caulking applying silicone

Applying the New Caulk

Use the painter’s tape and go around they tub twice—once above the area where the caulk will go and a second time below the area where the caulk will go. The gap in between is where the new caulk will be applied, so you do not want the gap too big.

Cut the tip off the end of the caulk tube at a 45-degree angle. You will need to puncture the seal to release the caulk. Most caulk guns have small “stick” on their ends to do this. Load the caulk into the gun and slowly depress the trigger until you can see caulk at the end of the tip.

Holding the gun and caulk tube at a 45-degree angle, apply it completely around the tub. Next, lightly dampen a paper towel and using your finger run it over the caulk to smooth it into a concave shape. It’s okay if caulk gets onto the painter’s tape, but it should not go past the tape.

After the caulk is smoothed, slowly and carefully remove the painter’s tape. You can use a lightly dampened paper towel to smooth out any ridges the tape left. The caulk should be left alone and the tub should not be used for at least 48 hours so it has time to cure and dry.

There are many steps to removing the old caulk and applying new caulk around your bathtub. It is important to do these correctly for properly sealed caulk and a great looking finish. If you need help doing this or have other bathroom plumbing repairs, please feel free to contact your nearest Christianson Air Conditioning & Plumbing location in New Braunfels, Temple, San Antonia or the Austin Metro Area today!

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Ten Reasons You Should Consider Replacing Your Furnace

Posted on November 20th, 2018 by ChristainSon_Admin

Depending on the type of furnace you have, most home heating systems will last around 15 to 20 years with regular furnace maintenance. As your furnace gets older, you will want to start making plans for home furnace replacement, like starting a special savings fund. That way, when your furnace does need to be replaced, you will have—at least part of—the money set aside for a new furnace.

Aside from your furnace wearing out and not working, you should also consider home heating replacement for the following reasons:

  1. Problems with the pilot light staying lit.

There are all sorts of underlying causes why pilot lights on gas heating systems will not stay on. There could be a bad thermocouple, which monitors the pilot light and shuts it off if there is something wrong. When the thermocouple wear outs, it will start shutting off gas to the pilot light for no reason whatsoever. You can have your heating installer replace the thermocouple.

There could also be problems with residue on the gas nozzles inside the furnace. Over time, they can become clogged. This can cause your furnace’s heating cycle not to run correctly or not to produce the right amount of heat in the home. You can have these things replaced as well.

However, if issues with the pilot light and related hardware start to become ongoing, where you have to call your home heating installer for service on a weekly or monthly basis, you may want to consider getting a new furnace instead.

hand adjusting gas furnace

  1. The blower motor has failed.

The blower motor is responsible for blowing the heated air through the ductwork and into your home. If it goes out, none of the heated air will be forced into the rooms inside your home. Rather, all that heat will remain around the furnace. The cost to get a new blower motor installed could range from $400 to $1,000.

If you compare the costs of a new blower motor with the costs of a new furnace, along with the benefit of a new system, you could end up saving money in the long-run by replacing your furnace right away. New furnaces have modern features like variable speed blower motors to improve heating efficiency. Some models may even offer special incentives like rebates or tax breaks.

  1. The heat exchanger inside the furnace is cracked.

The heat exchanger is the part of the furnace that helps keep carbon monoxide and other exhaust gases from getting inside the home. It vents these dangerous gases out through an attached air vent. When the heat exchanger cracks, it allows these deadly gases to move freely into ductwork and be blown around the home.

The cost to replace and install a cracked heat exchanger can end up totaling $2,000 or more. If you were to consider a new, energy-efficient modern furnace, you may be surprised to discover that the costs are very similar. It would make more sense to replace your furnace if you have an issue with the heat exchanger.

  1. A circuit board inside the furnace needs to be replaced.

Circuit boards control a wide range of functions on the furnace. These are also required to receive signals and send feedback to the thermostat. Essentially, circuit boards are the furnace’s brain. If one or more goes bad, the furnace will not operate correctly. For instance, the furnace could turn on and run constantly without ever shutting off.

Depending on how technologically advanced your current furnace is, replacement costs for a new circuit board can run from around $300 to $1,200. While it might seem better to replace the circuit board, stop to consider the age of the furnace. If it is already 15 years old, getting a new circuit board may only add another five years or so to the life of the furnace.

On the other hand, investing in a new furnace means you will have between 15 and 20 years of life. Not to mention, you would get all the latest features, options, and energy-efficient updates that your current system lacks.

plumber repairs furnace

  1. The maintenance and repair costs on your current furnace are becoming more frequent.

If your furnace has reached the point where you are having to replace hardware, parts, and components on a regular basis, or it is constantly breaking down, it is time for a new furnace. Over time, you could end up spending as much on maintenance and repairs as you would for the cost of a brand new furnace.

  1. You are replacing your air conditioning unit.

It can be a good idea to replace your furnace at the same time you are replacing your air conditioning unit. Even though you can find new AC systems that are compatible with your current furnace, they will not always allow you to take advantage of all the energy-saving features found on your new AC.

For example, if the new AC offers variable speed cooling but your furnace’s blower motor, which is also used by your AC, is not a variable speed motor, then you will not be able to use this feature. However, if you upgrade your furnace at the same time to one with a variable speed motor, then you would be able to use this feature on your new AC.

  1. You are looking to lower your home heating energy bills.

Installing a new furnace will help lower your energy bills. According to Energy.gov, an Energy Star® furnace could save you as much as $1,241 in heating costs. If you choose the best model available, your savings could increase to as much as $1,443.1

In addition to getting a new furnace installed, ensuring there are no air leaks around doors and windows can help lower your home’s heating cost. In addition, you should have weather stripping and/or have new caulking installed.

  1. Your home does not feel as comfortable as you would like it.

As your furnace gets older, it can reach a point where it is no longer capable of maintaining your preferred comfort level. You may notice some rooms seem warmer than others, or that your furnace has to run longer, causing you have to set the thermostat higher to achieve the desired temperature.

Another cause for this type of problem is that your furnace may not have been sized correctly for your home. If the furnace is too small, it will not be able to deliver heat properly. It will have to run more frequently and for longer intervals, which shortens its lifespan, in order to attempt to heat the home. Getting a new furnace installed by your home heating installation company will help resolve either of these issues.

  1. You are getting ready to sell your home.

If your home’s current heating and cooling system is more than 10 years old, it can be beneficial to get a new system installed before listing your home. Doing so could potentially increase the value of your home. In addition, you are often able to attract more potential buyers.

couple choosing the furnace unit

  1. You like having access to the latest technologies.

If you want to take advantage of new smart home technologies, which can also help reduce energy usage, then you will want to get a new furnace installed. Modern systems could allow you to remotely control the furnace through an app on your smartphone.

You may even have access to energy usage reports and other useful data that can show you ways to lower your energy usage while maintaining your preferred comfort level inside your home.

For additional information about heating replacement and how to get the savings and comfort provided by a new furnace, please feel free to contact your nearest Christianson Air Conditioning & Plumbing location in New Braunfels, Temple, San Antonio, or Austin Metro to schedule an appointment today!

Source:

  1. https://www.energy.gov/eere/femp/purchasing-energy-efficient-residential-furnaces


Do I Need to Replace My Furnace and AC at the Same Time?

Posted on October 24th, 2018 by ChristainSon_Admin

furnace is nearing the end of its useful lifespan. One question that comes up quite frequently with homeowners is whether they have to replace their furnace and their AC unit at the same time.

Front view of a heat pump

To answer this question, it will largely depend on the type of heating and cooling system used in your home. In Texas and other southern states, packaged systems are very common. A packaged system is an “all-in-one” cooling and heating solution that is installed outside the home.

Packaged systems are well-suited in areas where you tend to use your AC more throughout the year, compared to heating. They also help save space inside the home since the entire unit is installed outside.

If the heating or cooling part of the packaged system fails and needs to be replaced, then, yes, you would have to replace both at the same time. This is because both heating and cooling functions are integrated into the packaged system. Fortunately, packaged systems can last up to 20 years or longer with proper AC and heating maintenance.

On the other hand, if your home has a split system—where the AC unit is outdoors and the furnace and blower motor are indoors—then you do have a few different options when you need to replace your furnace.

  • You could replace just the furnace. With split systems, you do not have to replace both at the same time. If your AC is not that old and still working great, then you just need to find a compatible furnace that works with your AC unit.
  • You could replace both the furnace and the AC. If both the furnace and AC are older, it can be beneficial to get an entirely new split system installed. One of the primary reasons for doing this is when you want an energy-efficient heating and cooling solution for your home.

Other Benefits of Replacing Both Your Furnace and AC at the Same Time

Aside from having a matching, modern, and energy-efficient split heating and cooling system, other benefits of replacing both at the time include:

  • Tax Incentives: Some systems might qualify for government tax incentives or tax rebates you can deduct off your federal taxes. We do advise checking with your accountant to find out what the current incentives are for homeowners.

couple choosing the furnace unit

  • Rebates: Some heating and cooling system manufacturers can offer rebates when you replace your furnace and AC at the same time. You can find out what rebates are currently available by talking to your local AC and heating installation
  • Special Discounts: Some heating and cooling contractors and companies may offer special discounts on top of any other incentives and rebates when purchasing both a new furnace and AC at the same time.

To learn more about packaged systems and split systems and whether you should replace just your furnace or both the furnace and AC at the same time, please feel free to contact your nearest Christianson Air Conditioning & Plumbing location in Austin Metro, San Antonio, Temple, or New Braunfels today!

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The A to Z List of Causes for Clogged Toilets

Posted on September 27th, 2018 by ChristainSon_Admin

Over the years, our toilet plumbing professionals have encountered a wide range of clogged toilets. We thought it might fun to share some of the things we have encountered, some of which may seem a bit weird and unusual.

A: Automobile Fluids

You should never flush gasoline, antifreeze, brake fluid, or other such fluids down the toilet. While they do not necessarily cause clogs, they are dangerous and could cause your toilet and pipes to explode, crack, and break, creating a much bigger mess.

B: Baby Wipes

If you look at the small fine print on baby wipes’ packaging, it clearly states to not flush these down the toilet, as they can cause a clog.

C: Cotton Balls and Cotton Swabs

The cotton can get stuck and caught in different areas of the toilet’s drain pipes. Cotton will absorb water and continue to expand until there is a clog.

D: Disposable Diapers

This is another baby item that should never be flushed down the toilet. Disposable diapers are meant to absorb liquids, so, if one or more get stuck in the drain pipes, they can expand and eventually clog up the toilet.

baby disposable diapers and powder

E: Extensions

Those hair extensions you have worn for several weeks and which now need to be replaced should never get flushed down the toilet. Even if they are made from real human hair, it can clog up the toilet.

F: Food Scraps

You might be surprised by how many people flush food scraps down the toilet instead of putting them in the garbage or starting a composting pile. Various food products can even cause internal pipe damages, which could lead to leaky pipes.

G: Garbage

Some people get into the habit of emptying their bathroom wastebasket and flushing it down the toilet. Any type of garbage is not good for your pipes, not to mention, it can create problems if you have a septic tank.

H: Hot Grease

The moment you pour hot grease into the cold water in the toilet, it will start to congeal and solidify inside the pipes. Eventually, there can be so much grease on the interior of the pipes, it clogs up.

I: iPhone

If you accidentally drop your iPhone into the toilet, do not flush it—even if it is sitting in bodily waste. The phone can block drain pipes if it is tilted upright as it goes down the drain.

J: Jell-O Gelatin

Gelatin helps turn liquids semi-solid. If you flush Jell-O down the toilet, the gelatin can still cause the water in the drain pipes to start to thicken and create a clog.

K: Kitty Litter

No type of kitty litter should ever be flushed down the toilet. You should also not scoop the litter pan and put cat waste down the toilet, as litter will be stuck to it. Most kitty litters on the market today are clumping types, which means the moment they get wet, they turn solid.

L: Latex and Nitrile Condoms

These items are not intended to be flushed down the toilet. They can get stuck in the drain. Plus, it could be embarrassing to have your plumber find the cause of your clog was from latex and nitrile condoms.

M: Menstrual Products

Personal hygiene menstrual products, including sanitary napkins and tampons, weren’t designed to be flushed in the toilet. They absorb bodily fluids and will continue to absorb water and expand if you flush them.

N: Neon Tetra Fish

While these fish look great in your tank, you should avoid flushing them down the toilet when they die. Even though they might not seem that big, they can and do get caught on various parts of the plumbing. As they degrade, they not only smell bad but could cause a clog.

O: Oil

Any type of oil—whether it is olive oil, cooking oil, motor oil, or oil from a hot oil hair treatment—should not get flushed. Not only is it damaging to your pipes but also the environment.

P: Prescription Drugs

Aside from posing risks to reclaimed water sources, prescription drugs can be the cause of a clogged toilet. The drugs are made using various capsules, gelatin, and other such coatings and materials that could stick to the inside of pipes.

Q: Quills and Feathers

It might seem like a great idea to flush the quills and feathers of a chicken, duck, or another wild bird you caught and are getting ready to cook. However, quills and feathers can get stuck in the pipes and are difficult to remove.

R: Rubber Gloves

Rubber gloves are not meant to be flushed. Rubber is a flexible material, but if it covers and blocks the drain pipe, your toilet will become clogged.

rubber gloves for cleaning

S: Sponge Animal Toys

Those toys that expand when they get wet and which come in a capsule can clog up the toilet drain pipe. Once the capsule part gets wet, the toys will start expanding inside the pipes and, before you know it, the toilet is overflowing into the home.

T: Toilet Paper

An excessive amount of toilet paper can lead to a clog. Generally, you should only use a small amount per flush. If you must use a lot, it is highly recommended to flush several times.

U: Underwear

Underwear and socks are common items that cause clogs in toilet drains. This problem commonly occurs in homes with children and teens.

V: Vegetable and Fruit Peelings

Any type of peelings from vegetables and fruit should not be flushed. If you have ever attempted to put potato peelings in a garbage disposal, you know they can quickly clog up the drain.

W: Wigs

When you grow tired of wearing the same wig, do not flush it. Just like extensions, the hair and materials the wig is made from can result in a backed-up toilet.

X: Xylophone

This popular kid’s toy sometimes ends up getting flushed by toddlers. They are fascinated at seeing the toy go down the drain, but they do not understand when it does not come back and the water overflows onto the bathroom floor.

Y: Yo-Yos

plumber using a plunger to unclog a toilet

Yo-yos are another kid’s toy that gets flushed down the toilet. Children often hold onto the end of the string to pull the yo-yo back up. Yet, that does not always work as well as they might have planned.

Z: ZhuZhu Pets

Little kids might want to give these popular animal toys a “bath” in the toilet. Then they decide to rinse off it off by flushing, and there goes their ZhuZhu Pet!

Toilet plumbing is not designed to handle everything, even though it might seem like it can. In fact, certain foreign objects can not only cause a toilet clog but potentially break your pipes.

When to Call in a Toilet Plumbing Professional

You may be able to remove your average type of toilet clogs on your own using a plunger. However, you should avoid using chemical-based drain cleaners and clog removers. Most of these products are not effective at completely removing the clog. Many contain corrosive chemicals that could cause damage to your drain pipes.

It is time to call in your local toilet plumbing professional for help if one or more of the following continues to occur:

  • The clog keeps reoccurring.
  • You are not able to remove the clog with a plunger.
  • There is waste or sewage overflowing into the bathroom.
  • The toilet is gurgling.
  • There is water that is spilling over the sides of the toilet.
  • You hear water running and the toilet tank is not refilling.
  • You notice the water is not shutting off after flushing the toilet.

Please feel free to contact your nearest Christianson Air Conditioning & Plumbing location in San Antonio, New Braunfels, Temple, or Austin Metro to schedule toilet plumbing clog removal services today! Our plumbers are also available for emergency plumbing service calls 24/7!


What to Consider Before Water Heater Installation

Posted on September 27th, 2018 by ChristainSon_Admin

Your water heater is nearing the end of its life and has started to show the signs, like snapping and cracking sounds, leaks around the tank, and the inability to meet your home’s hot water demands. You could even wake up one morning and go to take a hot shower before work to discover there is no hot water at all!

While not having hot water can definitely be an emergency, it is worthwhile to take a little time to compare your options. Before replacing the water heater, there are several things you will want to consider about water heater installation and selecting the best water heater for your home.

gas lines water heaters winter

  1. What is actually wrong with the current water heater? One common problem in electric water heaters is the heating elements will wear out. If that is all that is wrong, you may not necessarily need a new water heater right now. With gas water heaters, the burner unit at the bottom of the tank can also wear out and can cause problems. You will want to compare the costs of water heater repair versus a new one.
  2. What are your home’s hot water demands? Prior to looking at the different types of water heaters, you need to figure out your hot water usage. Does more than one person shower simultaneously? Do you like to take long hot showers? Do you run the dishwasher and washing machine at the same time? It is important to think about these things to ensure you will have hot water when you need it.
  3. What type of energy do you want to use? Your current water heater will most likely be electric or gas. Often, the water heater replacement will be the same as you use now unless you are doing some home renovations and want to switch energy types. Another option you might want to consider is solar power.
  4. How big of a water heater do you need? Your home’s hot water demands should fit the proper tank size if you are looking at a traditional water heater. You want to make sure the storage capacity will be sufficient so you never run out of hot water. In addition, the size of the water heater needs to be able to fit into the available space. If not, you may have to move the new heater to a new location.
  5. Which type of water heater do you want to get installed? While a traditional water heater is a good choice, you may want to consider tankless or solar-powered water heaters. These alternatives can cost more initially, but, in the long run, can save you money on your water heating energy bills. Just keep in mind, there can be added conversion costs when switching from one type of water heater to another.
  6. What is the energy efficiency of the new water heater? Energy efficiency has to do with how much your average annual water heating costs will be for electric or gas water heaters. Tankless heaters can be more energy efficient than traditional tank models. However, new tank-type models are much more energy efficient compared to five years ago. All new models should have an energy efficiency rating sticker to help you make a comparison.
  7. What type of warranty is on the new water heater? All new water heaters will come with some type of limited warranty. You will want to find out how long the warranty period is, what it covers, and how to get warranty service if it is required.
  8. How will you dispose of your old water heater? If you buy your new water heater from a qualified and licensed plumber and water heater installation company, they will typically haul your old water heater away. Some companies will haul the old water heater away for free, and others may charge a fee. Make sure to ask ahead of time to find out.
  9. Can the plumber do an in-home inspection and offer advice? Having a plumber come to your home is a good idea. They will need to see where the current water heater is installed to get an idea of how much space is available. Plus, they can help you with your hot water needs assessment to ensure you choose the best new water heater for your home.

woman meeting service worker

  1. How much do you have to invest in a new water heater? Your budget is equally important when selecting a new water heater. You want to get estimates and verify you can easily afford the water heater. If you are short on the cash, talk to your plumber, as many are able to refer you to finance firms that can lend you the money to get a new water heater.
  2. How long will you have to be without hot water during water heater replacement? This will depend on the type of water heater you are having installed. On average, if you are replacing an existing tank-type water heater with another one, you should plan about three hours. This does not take into account any additional plumbing work that may need to be completed. For tankless water heaters, it can take longer. When you get your estimate for your new water heater, your quote should show an estimated installation time.
  3. What brands does the plumbing company sell? You may already have a particular brand in mind you want, but you should verify your plumber also sells this brand. If not, verify they can install and service the brand should you decide to purchase it elsewhere.
  4. Are there special incentives, rebates, or promotions? Sometimes water heater manufacturers offer deals on select models. Your local plumber may also have his or her own deals. Don’t forget to check out possible tax rebates you may qualify for if you opt for an Energy Star® Certified or solar-powered water heater.
  5. Should you include a preventive maintenance plan on your new water heater? Annual maintenance helps ensure your new water heater will last as long as it can. Should there be any problems that start to develop, they are far less to repair and fix than waiting until the water heater breaks down.

(H2) Why Hire a Professional Plumber for Water Heater Installation?

You may have watched an episode of your favorite DIY program that showed how to do your own water heater replacement. You might think after watching the program that replacing a hot water heater might seem like an easy weekend DIY project. All you have to do is shut off the water, drain the heater, and disconnect some plumbing lines. Right?

Wrong. There is much more that they may not show on TV. In general, there are several important safety precautions and steps you need to take before even touching the old water heater. The water, electricity, and/or gas all need to be shut off.

Then you have to deal with draining the scalding hot water from the tank. Opening the drain on the bottom of the tank is never a good idea. You will need a heat resistant hose to drain the water safely away. After the tank is drained, you not only have to disconnect plumbing lines but also electrical wiring and/or gas lines.

smiling plumber

When installing the new heater, there are certain things you will need to do to prevent water leaks, gas leaks, and electrical problems. You even need to make sure the water heater is installed according to current building codes.

Plus, you may have to get a plumber to certify your DIY installation satisfies current building codes to keep your homeowner’s insurance. It will also need to be certified if you are going to sell your home. Additionally, your local government municipality could require you to obtain a permit.

As you can guess, all of these other things you don’t see on TV can quickly increase your actual “DIY” costs. If you mess something up, you will end up having to call a plumber in the end. It is for these reasons, along with your own personal safety, it is highly recommended to always use a professional plumber for water heater replacement and installation.

For assistance in selecting the right water heater to have installed in your home, as well as water heater repairs and maintenance, household plumbing services, and air conditioning services, please feel free to contact your nearest Christianson Air Conditioning & Plumbing location in San Antonio, New Braunfels, Temple, or Austin Metro today!


Why Is My Faucet Dripping Nonstop?

Posted on September 24th, 2018 by ChristainSon_Admin

Is that dripping faucet preventing you from sleeping? Has your water bill gone up? Putting off faucet repair doesn’t just mean more annoyance; it can lead to some pretty expensive plumbing repairs. There are some strong incentives for faucet repair. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a single leak can waste close to 10,000 gallons a year, and you can cut your monthly water bill by 10%  just by fixing that leak.1

dripping tap

Christianson Air Conditioning & Plumbing can easily fix a water leak. However, water leak repair depends on finding the exact problem causing water to drip uncontrollably. Here are some of the common reasons for leaky faucets.

Broken Seal

The seals of a disc faucet can be damaged by sediment and minerals. To fix the leaking faucet, a plumber will have to replace the seals. They may also suggest regular maintenance to clean out the seals from time to time so the issue doesn’t recur.

Broken Pipe

If a pipe cracks or its fittings fail, you may need more than kitchen faucet repair. Repairing or replacing a pipe is a more involved job, but it certainly avoids more serious issues such as floods and water damage from an uncontrolled leak.

Loose O-Rings

An O-ring is a small disc in the handle of a cartridge faucet. It is in the base of the handle and secured with a stem screw. When the O-ring wears out, the handle may drip; the faucet must be disassembled for the part to be replaced. A plumber has the tools, experience, and training to do this easily.

Loose Screws

A faucet leak may mean you have a screw loose, literally. Faucets have different types of fasteners, including screws, nuts, and rings; if these wear out, water may leak. Repairs may include tightening or replacing parts or may involve a new faucet or sink installation.

Worn-Out Washers

The washer is pushed against the valve seat every time the faucet is turned on. Wear and tear causes leaks, but sometimes the wrong-sized piece is used or the part is installed wrong. A bad washer will cause water to drip from the spout. Consult a plumber who knows how to fix a kitchen faucet to remedy the problem.

Corroded Valve Seat

money flowing out of a bathroom tap

In a compression faucet, the valve seat connects the faucet and spout. Corrosion caused by water sediment can cause a leak. A plumber can either clean the valve seat or replace it.

The Cartridge Has Worn Out

The cartridge, which is the primary component of a cartridge faucet, can wear out and leak. You’d need to measure the part to pick a replacement of matching size, but, instead of buying new equipment or a faucet repair kit and risking further damage, call a professional plumber instead because any mistake can cost you.

Experienced plumbers know how to perform kitchen sink or shower faucet repair quickly and effectively. When you need bathroom faucet repair, don’t procrastinate; you don’t even have to know how to change a bathroom faucet washer yourself. Call Christianson Air Conditioning & Plumbing today, and our faucet repair technician will find the reason for your leak and correct it, avoiding a continuous wastage of water.

Source:

  1. https://www.epa.gov/watersense/fix-leak-week

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How to Repair or Replace a Water Heater to Enhance Water Heater Performance

Posted on August 31st, 2018 by ChristainSon_Admin

There are several things you can do when you are looking to improve and enhance the performance of your hot water heater. The most important thing is to consider the age of your hot water heater before doing anything else.

If your hot water heater is around ten years old or older, it is probably time to replace the water heater with a new one. Most water heaters performance can start to decline once they get older. They do not heat the water as efficiently, they use more electricity or gas, and they start to have noticeable problems.

plumber smiling at the camera

If your hot water heater is still in decent shape and not ready to be replaced, then you will want to consider doing the following things:

  • Install a water heater blanket if you do not have one already. A water heater blanket will insulate the tank and help reduce heat loss. A good test is to carefully touch the side of the water tank and, if you can feel heat, it means you are experiencing heat loss.
  • Insulate hot water pipes on the heater and other ones you can easily access. This enhancement can require the assistance of your plumber since reaching some hot water lines can be difficult.
  • Turn down the thermostat setting about ten degrees. Lowering the thermostat setting can enhance the performance of the heater because it will not have to reheat water as often.
  • Have the tank flushed and cleaned by your plumber. Sediment and debris can collect on the bottom of the tank and decrease performance. It is highly recommended to have the tank flushed and cleaned annually.

If your hot water heater is older and nearing the end of its useful life, the best way to enhance performance is to get a new high-efficiency water heater. There are several different model options and choices available to choose from, including:

  • High-Efficiency Gas and Electric Storage Heaters: These are your traditional water heaters that have been updated with newer technologies and better tank insulation. Some even offer programmable thermostats so you can regular water temperatures based on your home’s needs.

hot water tank

  • High-Efficiency Gas and Electric Tankless Heaters: These types of water heaters do not require a storage tank. Rather, hot water is made on demand when you need it. You can use a single large tankless heater or install smaller individual heaters in specific areas of the home like the kitchen and bathrooms.
  • High-Efficiency Heat Pump Water Heaters: This type of water heater works similarly to a heat pump by drawing in warm air from around the tank and using it to heat the water. During peak demands, there is an electric heating coil inside that will turn on to ensure hot water is available.

When selecting a new water heater for your home, you will want to take into account your home’s hot water usage and peak times.

For assistance in determining which high-efficiency water heater would be best for your home or for help enhancing the performance of your existing water heater, please feel free to contact your nearest Christianson Air Conditioning & Plumbing location in New Braunfels, Temple, San Antonia, or Austin Metro today!

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Water Heater Energy-Use-Saving Tips When Using Your Water Heater

Posted on August 24th, 2018 by ChristainSon_Admin

Most of us have a conventional hot water heater featuring a storage tank filled with hot water. The water heater runs whenever we use hot water. It will also run periodically to maintain the preset temperature level of the hot water inside the tank. Due to how conventional water heaters function, it can become a huge energy user that impacts our electric and gas bills.

gas bill charges paper with pen and eyeglasse

In order to help reduce how much energy your water heater uses, there are several effective ways you can cut your energy usage and save money on water heating costs. All that is required is some simple water heater maintenance.

  1. Wrap your hot water heater in a blanket. There are special insulated water heater blankets that prevent heat loss from the water tank. Without the blanket, heat loss occurs constantly and causes the water heater to run to reheat the water back up to the desired temperature. With the insulated blanket, heat loss is reduced, so your heater will run less frequently and your energy usage will drop.
  2. Turn down the thermostat setting. Most of us have the thermostats on our hot water heaters cranked up well beyond the original manufacturer-suggested setting, which is normally around 140 degrees Fahrenheit. By turning the setting down ten degrees, you can reduce your energy usage and still have plenty of hot water.
  3. Reduce your hot water usage. This doesn’t imply you have to take cold showers. Rather, look for other ways where you may not need to use hot water. For instance, most loads of laundry can be washed using cold water. You can also install low-flow shower heads and faucets to reduce water usage. In addition, consider upgrading your dishwasher and washing machine to a newer model with water-saving features.

Aside from these things, there are some other “more advanced” things you can do to cut water heater energy use. Some of these can require getting help from your local plumber to ensure they are completed correctly.

  1. Fix any leaking pipes and faucets. If any hot water pipes or faucets are leaking, it will cause the water heater to run more often. Get these fixed to not only reduce your water heating bills but also your water bills.
  2. Have your hot water plumbing lines insulated. Wrapping hot water plumbing lines with the appropriate pipe insulation will help reduce heat loss transfer when hot water is flowing through the pipes, as well as when sitting idle.

insulate hot water pipes

  1. Have your hot water heater drained and Sediment, scale, and other such deposits can be an issue with conventional water heaters, which reduces its overall efficiency. Having the tank drained and cleaned annually will help remove these things from inside the tank. It will also help ensure your tank lasts longer.
  2. Upgrade to a tankless water heater. If you want to really reduce how much energy you use to make hot water, replace your conventional water heater with a tankless model. Tankless heaters make hot water on demand, so there is very little energy waste.

For assistance with water heater maintenance to reduce your energy usage, please feel free to contact your nearest Christianson Air Conditioning & Plumbing location in San Antonio, Austin Metro, Temple, or New Braunfels today!

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