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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.


  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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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!

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