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The Top 9 Most Common Texas Plumbing Problems

Posted on October 20th, 2021 by ChristainSon_Admin

American and Texas state flags

Most Texans do not think much about common household plumbing problems until something goes horribly wrong. However, unfortunately, there may already be plumbing problems in the home that are being ignored or have not yet been discovered in some cases.

When you do discover plumbing problems in your house, do you attempt a short-term solution that costs less upfront, or do you have your Texas plumber resolve the problem that costs more? There is not a simple answer. It largely depends on what is wrong, whether it is an easy fix, and other factors.

Let’s look at some of the most common Texas plumbing problems, what causes them, and the best way to resolve them.

#1: Slab Leaks

If your home is built on a slab, slab leaks can develop as the house settles, ground shifts, or the slab shifts. In addition, it is not uncommon for plumbing pipes to extend through the slab, so if the slab shifts, it can cause the pipes to move, creating leaks.

The problem with slab leaks is they are hard to notice right away. By the time you notice a slab leak, there can be extensive damage to your home. So, if you see your water bill has been increasing or your well pump is running more often, and your water usage hasn’t changed, chances are you have a slab leak.

Fixing slab leaks is best left to a professional plumber. The work involved to find the leak requires precision equipment. This is one type of plumbing problem you want to resolve fully.

#2: Leaking Pipes

Plumbing lines and sewer lines are hidden out of sight. If fittings work loose, pipes crack or wear out because they are older, leaks can develop. Just like slab leaks, leaking pipes may not be discovered immediately.

There are a few different things to watch out for that could indicate leaking pipes:

  • Your water bill increases or the well pump runs more often, and your water usage hasn’t changed.
  • You notice brownish-colored stains on your ceiling or walls.
  • You notice certain areas of the ceiling or wall are wet or dripping water.
  • You see water pooling in the basement or under your crawl space.
  • The insulation under the home in the crawl space is wet.

The work involved to repair leaking pipes can be time-consuming and complex. Once the leak is located, the drywall has to be removed, the pipes repaired, and any moisture inside the ceiling or walls has to be removed before the drywall can be replaced.

As such, this is a plumbing problem you want to take care of with a long-term solution with help from your plumber.

#3: Tree Roots

big old tree roots underground, sunny forest

Tree roots can become a problem if your sewer pipes have any type of leak. You would be amazed by how even the tiniest of openings in between pipe fittings can allow tree roots to grow into the sewer pipes.

Fortunately, you have a few options if tree roots are creating sewer clogs. First, you could have the sewer line cleaned out and the tree roots removed. This is a short-term solution, as the tree roots will go back if you don’t find the source where they got into the sewer line. However, clearing the line of tree roots is a less expensive solution than having the sewer pipe replaced.

If the sewer line has collapsed or you do not want to worry about the tree roots regrowing into the sewer line, the other option is to have it replaced. There are a few different sewer line replacement options your plumber can discuss with you to help you decide which is best.

#4: Dripping Faucets

Dripping faucets may not seem like that big of a common household plumbing problem. Yet, the constant dripping can become annoying, and it wastes water.  In some cases, the washer and internal hardware inside the faucet can be replaced, costing less than having a new faucet installed.

#5: Hard Water

Hard water is not good for your home’s plumbing system if you have well water. The calcium and limescale in hard water leave deposits inside plumbing lines, faucets, fixtures, appliances, toilets, and your water heater.

Over time, you may lose water pressure, notice your hot water isn’t as hot as it used to be, and see scale buildup around faucets and fixtures. Another negative effect of hard water is shortening the life span of your water heater, appliances, fixtures, and faucets.

Several options are available depending on the hardness of your water. The best place to start is with a water test. A water test will show you exactly what is in your well water. Once you know what is in the water, then you can decide if you want to have your plumber install a water softener. You may also need a water filtration system.

Luckily, once a water softener or both a softener and filtration system are installed, you won’t have to worry about hard water causing further damages to your home’s plumbing system.

#6: Frozen Pipes

Most people never think about their pipes freezing in Texas. However, the temperatures can dip down below freezing at night if a cold front passes through. If it stays below freezing long enough, frozen pipes can burst, creating a watery mess in your basement or under the crawl space.

The best way to prevent frozen pipes is to ensure they are insulated. You can have the pipes individually wrapped. Another option is to verify the pipes are covered in a thick enough layer of insulation to prevent them from freezing.

#7: Occasionally Running Toilets

Have you ever heard your toilet refill with water and no one used the toilet? This is another common household plumbing problem. It begins as a slow leak and, as the seal between the tank and toilet bowl wears out, turns into a constantly running toilet.

As long as there are no other toilet leaks, fixing this problem can be as easy as replacing the flapper inside the toilet tank. However, if there are other issues with the toilet, it can be better to replace all the hardware in the tank or even the toilet itself.

#8: Rust-Colored Water

Rust-colored water is a common plumbing problem in old homes that still have galvanized plumbing lines. The zinc galvanization wears off, exposing the iron, which then rusts.

The exposed iron will continue to rust away and can lead to pipe leaks and water pressure problems. It is better to have your plumber repipe your plumbing lines in your home to get rid of rust-colored water.

However, rust-colored water could also come from well water or your water heater if it is rusting from the inside out. If the source of rust is from either of these, you will want to talk to your plumber about what solutions will eliminate the rust problem.

#9: A Drop in Water Pressure

Bathroom faucet with pouring water

If you notice the water pressure in your home is not as strong as it once was, you will want to investigate to find out what is wrong. You need to begin by checking the water pressure throughout the home to see if it is isolated to one area or the entire home.

Low water pressure throughout the house indicates a leaker in the water main. If the problem is isolated to a specific area, then there is probably a leak in one of the plumbing lines in that part of the house. It is a good idea to call your plumber and have them check your home and water main for leaks.

Alternatively, if your water pressure has always been low, you can have your plumber install a pressure regulator to help boost the water pressure inside your home.

Getting Help with Common Household Plumbing Problems

The sooner you resolve common household plumbing problems, the less damage they will cause. Plus, with the right solutions, you could save money in the long run. For help finding and fixing plumbing problems, contact our Texas plumbing experts at Christianson Air Conditioning & Plumbing today!

Call us at 512-246-5400 to schedule plumbing services in New Braunfels, Temple, San Antonio, or the Austin metro area.

What to Do if Your Toilet Overflows

Posted on September 24th, 2021 by ChristainSon_Admin

Water damage due a broken pipe or toilet

We have all experienced an overflowing toilet at some point. We flush the toilet, and the toilet water just keeps rising and rising until it is overflowing over the toilet bowl and onto the floor.

At this point, panic sets in because all that wastewater is flooding onto the bathroom floor. If we don’t stop the water, it could create an even bigger mess. The best thing to do is take a deep breath and use the following step-by-step instructions.

Step 1: Contain the Water

You need to contain the water and stop it from flowing across the bathroom floor. Grab some towels and put them down to contain the water around the toilet as best as possible.

Do not waste time getting paper towels or rags, as too much water could overflow onto the floor. You can wash the towels with bleach later, so you just need to grab whatever towels you can as quickly as you can.

Step 2: Shut Off the Water

Once the water is contained, you need to shut off the water if it is still overflowing from the toilet. At the base of the toilet in the back, underneath the tank, should be a water shut-off valve. Turn this valve until the water stops running.

Alternatively, you could remove the lid from the toilet tank and push the flapper inside down into the hole to stop the water. Another option is to lift the float fill valve to stop the tank from filling with water. You will need to find something to keep the float fill valve in place.

Step 3: Clean Up the Mess

Now that the water has been shut off, you can start cleaning up the excess water. Gather your cleaning supplies, including:

  • Rubber Gloves
  • Mop Bucket
  • Mop
  • Antibacterial Floor Cleaner

You need to first mop up the excess water off the floor. Wring the mop out in between to extract as much water as possible. Empty the mop bucket in the shower or bathtub.

Carefully pick up the towels from the floor and wring those out in the bathtub or shower. Using your mop bucket or another container, transfer the towels to your washing machine so that you can wash them with hot water and bleach.

After all the excess water is cleaned up, mix hot water with the antibacterial floor cleaner and mop the floor. If you don’t have an antibacterial floor cleaner, you can mix the hot water with chlorine bleach to kill bacteria and germs that were in the toilet water.

Step 4: Plunge the Toilet

Plumber repairing toilet with hand plunger

You need to remove the clog that caused the toilet to overflow in the first place. Do not put chemicals or chemical-based clog removers down your toilet. Instead, use a toilet plunger to remove the toilet clog. Keep plunging until any excess water in the toilet bowl has drained out of the toilet.

Step 5: Place Towels Around the Toilet

As a precaution, place towels around the base of the toilet. Should the clog still be present and water starts backing up, you will at least have towels already in place if needed.

Step 6: Turn the Water Back On

Turn the water back on. If you shut off the water supply, turn the valve until water starts refilling the toilet tank. If you lifted the float fill valve, remove the object you held it up with so the toilet tank refills.

Step 7: Flush the Toilet

Keep your plunger nearby and flush the toilet. If the water level in the toilet bowl starts rising, start plunging to try to unblock the toilet clog. If the clog is too stubborn and the water level is nearing the top of the toilet bowl, shut the water off before it overflows.

If the water flushes down the toilet without any problems, the clog was removed. However, you will want to keep an eye on it for the next several flushes.

What could be causing your toilet to overflow?

Toilet overflow problems can be caused by various things, including:

  • Foreign objects that got flushed down the toilet like toys, batteries, and other small objects.
  • Flushing items in the toilet you are not supposed to, such as disposable diapers, paper towels, baby wipes, feminine products, etc.
  • Sewer and septic tank problems where the water backflows into the house up the toilet drains.
  • A broken or damaged sewer line.
  • Low water pressure that is insufficient to fully flush the toilet.
  • Overfilling the toilet bowl with too much toilet paper.

How do you prevent future overflows?

While certain plumbing problems, like sewer line and septic tank problems, cannot always be avoided, there are other things you can do to limit future toilet overflow problems, including:

  • Never flush anything in the toilet that should not be flushed.
  • Avoid using too much toilet paper.
  • If you have to use a lot of toilet paper, flush the toilet a few times to prevent overfilling it with too much toilet paper.
  • Have the toilet drain lines professionally cleaned by a plumber annually.

When should you call a plumber for toilet repairs?

smiling adult woman talking on phone

In situations where the toilet continues to overflow after you attempt to plunge it to remove the toilet clog, you will want to call a plumber. There could be a difficult clog or another sewer line or septic tank problem that needs to be fixed to resolve the overflowing toilet problem.

For example, tree roots are notorious for growing into sewer lines and creating clogs. The pressure from the tree roots could also cause the sewer line to crack and break, thus preventing water from draining away.

If you notice strange gurgling sounds when you flush the toilet that comes from another toilet, shower drain, bathtub drain, or kitchen sink drain, this is a common sign of a sewer line problem.

Additionally, you should call your plumber when the flow of water does not stop in between flushes. There could be a problem with the toilet flapper, float fill valve, etc.

For professional toilet drain cleaning, toilet repairs, and sewer line repairs in New Braunfels, Temple, San Antonio, and the Austin Metro Area, please feel free to contact Christianson Air Conditioning & Plumbing at 512-246-5400 today!

At What Temperature Should a Hot Water Heater Be Set?

Posted on September 24th, 2021 by ChristainSon_Admin

Plumber repairing an hot-water heater

You need to make sure your water heater is set at the right temperature. If it is set too high, the hot water could scald your skin. If it is set too low, it can allow the bacteria that causes Legionnaires disease to thrive and grow.

What is the ideal water temperature for my home?

While the plumber preset the temperature when your water heater was installed, it may not be the best temperature for your home. The maximum Department of Energy recommended water heater temperature setting you should never exceed is 140 degrees Fahrenheit. The lowest recommended setting should never be below 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

You can use the answers to the following questions to choose the ideal water temperature for your home.

  • Do you or does someone in your home have a suppressed immune system? If so, then set your water heater to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Do you have any infants, toddlers, or children in the home? If you do, then turn it down to between 120 degrees and 130 degrees Fahrenheit. At 140 degrees, it takes just seconds for your little ones to get third-degree burns.
  • Do you have a dishwasher with a pre-heat or water heating feature? If you do, you can turn it down to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • How many people live in your household? If you live alone or with one other person, setting the temperature on your water heater to 120 degrees should be sufficient to meet your hot water needs. For a family of four, start at 120 degrees Fahrenheit and adjust it up in five-degree increments but do not go over 130 degrees Fahrenheit.

Water TankTemperature Setting

Another important consideration when setting the water temperature is the type of water heater you have in your house. If you have a water tank-type heater, never set it below 120 degrees unless you are on vacation and no one will be using hot water while away. Anything below 120 degrees allows bacteria to grow.

Tankless Temperature Setting

Since there is no standing water to worry about, you can set the water temperature slightly lower with a tankless heater. 120 degrees Fahrenheit is the recommended initial energy-efficient temperature setting. If you find the water temperature too hot, turning it down to 110 degrees Fahrenheit is acceptable.

How does the water temperature affect my energy bill?

On average, there is a 3% to 5% change in your monthly energy bills for every 10 degrees you adjust the temperature on your water heater. If you turn it down 10 degrees, then you decrease your energy usage and save money. If you turn it up 10 degrees, your energy bill will increase because you are using more energy.

How do I adjust the water temperature on my water heater?

Smiling technician servicing a hot-water heater

For water tank heaters, there is a dial on the front of the water tank. Simply turn it down or up to adjust the settings. For tankless water heaters, there is a digital display on the unit. Setting the water temperature is as easy as changing the temperature on your thermostat.

What should I do if my water temperature is inconsistent?

If your water temperature is inconsistent, it does not seem like your water gets hot enough, or all that comes out of the hot water lines is cold water, it is time to call a professional plumber for help. Additionally, if your water heater is more than 10 years old, you may want to talk to your plumber about upgrading to a new energy-efficient water heater.

For help setting the temperature on your water heater, or for water heater repairs, maintenance, or new installations in Temple, New Braunfels, San Antonio, or the Austin Metro Area, please feel free to contact Christianson Air Conditioning & Plumbing at 512-246-5400 today!

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Gas Water Heaters 101

Posted on August 27th, 2021 by ChristainSon_Admin

Gas water heaters help make hot water for showers, doing dishes, and washing clothes. Every homeowner should know several essential parts of a gas water heater to understand what they do. It is equally important to understand the basics of how a gas water heater makes hot water for your home.

The most common parts of a gas water heater are on the outside and include:

  • Flue
  • Draft Diverter
  • Temperature and Pressure Relief Valve
  • Overflow Pipe
  • Gas Supply Shut Off
  • Thermostat Control Valve
  • Pilot Light Control Valve
  • Cold Water Supply Line
  • Hot Water Supply Line
  • Gas Burner

Whether you have a tank-type gas water heater or a tankless gas water heater, you will find these common parts. There are parts inside, too, but they are ones your plumber needs to know about when performing water heater repair service.

To learn more about what each of the common parts of a gas water heater does, we invite you to continue reviewing the following infographic.

If you need water heater repair, replacement, or inspection services in Temple, New Braunfels, San Antonio, and the Austin Metro Area, please feel free to contact Christianson Air Conditioning & Plumbing at 512-246-5400 today!

Gas Water Heaters 101 Infographic

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Posted on August 24th, 2021 by ChristainSon_Admin

Young woman relaxing under air conditioner at home

On average in central Texas, an air conditioning system will last from 10 to 12 years. The service life can be shortened or extended, depending on how regularly preventive maintenance is performed. Maintenance will also help the system run more efficiently so that your home or office stays more comfortable and it costs you less money.

Regular maintenance ensures your system is more energy-efficient and requires fewer repairs, both of which save you money.

There is some maintenance you can do yourself, while other maintenance requires the service of an HVAC system expert. Professional maintenance should be performed on an HVAC system twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall.

The following is a list of the tune-up, inspection, and services offered at Christianson Air Conditioning & Plumbing:

  • Thermostat calibration & setting – Ensure comfort when at home and save energy when you’re away.
  • Check & tighten all electrical connections – System will operate more safely and it will increase the life of components.
  • Lubricate all moving parts – Reduce energy by minimizing friction and overheating.
  • Check & inspect condensate drain – Plugged drains can affect indoor humidity levels and, more seriously, cause water damage.
  • Check all system controls – Ensure the system starts, operates, and shuts off properly.
  • Clean condenser coils – Dirty coils increase energy costs and reduce the life of equipment.
  • Check refrigerant levels & adjust if necessary – Too much or too little refrigerant increases energy costs.
  • Clean & adjust blower components – Airflow problems can reduce efficiency up to 15%.
  • (If applicable) Check all gas connections, gas pressure, burner combustion, and heat exchanger – Improperly sealed gas connections are a fire hazard. Dirty burners or failed heat exchangers can allow carbon monoxide to escape, which can be extremely unsafe or possibly fatal.

Do-It-Yourself Air Conditioning Maintenance

Changing air conditioning air filters is probably the part of air conditioning maintenance that most people are most familiar with. Still, many fail to keep records or follow up with routine filter changes. Not only is this one of the most important parts of do-it-yourself air conditioning maintenance, but it is also one of the simplest.

When dirt builds up on air filters, air flow is obstructed, preventing the system from working efficiently. Additionally, it lowers indoor air quality. So, if you have allergies or asthma, you can notice an increase in respiratory problems when you have a dirty air filter.

Either cleaning a reusable filter or replacing it with a new one can improve energy efficiency by as much as 15%. To aid in system efficiency and help extend the life of your system, Christianson recommends cleaning or replacing filters once a month.

The air conditioner coils absorb heat, making them an important part of the cooling system. They are also prone to collecting dirt, even when the filter is kept clean. When dirt covers the coils, they are unable to absorb heat efficiently. Indoor units should be examined visually each year, prior to air conditioning cooling season, and cleaned if necessary.

On the outdoor condensing units, the coils are even more vulnerable due to exposure to foliage, dust, and grass clippings. It is important to keep grass, weeds, bushes, and plants cleared and trimmed away from the condensing unit. It is also a good idea to treat around the unit’s concrete slab with pesticide to prevent ants and spiders.

You may recognize the area on the evaporator and condenser coils known as “coil fins” by sight more than by their name. These flat metal pieces are extremely fragile and easy to bend. Be very careful when mowing or trimming to not damage the coils. Bent coils reduce airflow dramatically and impact the efficiency and life of your system. If the fins become badly bent or damaged, contact a service provider or a Christianson expert to restore them to good operating condition.

Other DIY Air Conditioning Maintenance Tips

Electrician fitting a new thermostat

There are several other DIY AC unit maintenance you can do before scheduling HVAC maintenance, including:

#1: Upgrade Your Thermostat

Older thermostats are not as energy-efficient as programmable thermostats and smart thermostats. Smart thermostats are superior because they learn your routines and will automatically adjust temperatures based on those routines.

Additionally, you can access your thermostat from just about anywhere using an app on your smartphone. You can make changes to your settings, such as turning down the AC a few degrees when you leave work so your home is cooled to your desired temperature when you arrive.

#2: Clean the Drain Pan

Some air conditioning units have a drain pan that helps drain away water when the unit runs. Dirt, dust, and other debris can get into the bottom of the pan. Over time, as the water mixes with dirt and dust, it can create clogs in the drain line.

About once a month, check the drain pan to make sure it is clean. If it is dirty, wash it with a mild dish soap, rinse it, dry it, and put it back into the unit. Your AC technician can show you where the drain pan is the next time they perform AC maintenance.

#3: Verify the Outdoor Unit Is Level

The outdoor unit must be level in order for it to function correctly. If it is not level, the unit will still run but can lead to problems with condensation getting under the evaporator and making the insulation wet. Should this occur, then all the insulation has to be replaced since wet insulation no longer provides any resistance.

Not to mention, the wet insulation becomes a breeding ground for mold and mildew. When the AC runs, it will not only increase the humidity inside the house but also make it smell.

#4: Check the Drain Pipe on the Outdoor AC Unit

When the air conditioner runs, it will produce water as it cools hot air. The water should drain out a drain pipe on the side of the unit. If you notice the water is not draining properly, carefully remove the drain pipe and run hot water through it to remove any clogs.

Other DIY Tips to Improve Your Home’s Energy Efficiency

Aside from keeping up with air conditioning maintenance, there are several other things you can do to improve your home’s energy efficiency to keep it cool in summer and warm in winter, as follows:

Worker repairing ceiling air conditioning unit

  • Recaulk Around Windows – You should replace the old caulk annually to help prevent air leaks around windows.
  • Replace Door Seals – Inspect the door seals around doors and replace anywhere you can see light coming in around the door.
  • Block Direct Sunlight – Use thick curtains or thick blinds to block out direct sunlight on sun-facing windows.
  • Replace Your Windows – Upgrading to energy-efficient windows does improve the overall energy efficiency of your home.
  • Add Attic Insulation – Another easy DIY project is to increase the amount of insulation in your attic.

Leave It to the Pros

Although some minor maintenance can be performed by the homeowner or business owner, a maintenance plan with Christianson Air Conditioning & Plumbing includes all the annual and bi-annual maintenance that will keep your HVAC system running more efficiently. These services include two precision system tune-ups annually: one in the spring and one in the fall.

Your air conditioning is a vital component of your comfort and utility bill. Don’t leave its efficiency to chance. Call Christianson Air Conditioning & Plumbing in Austin at (512) 246-5400 or our San Antonio location at (210) 651-1212 to schedule your maintenance services before hot weather rolls around.

11 Warning Signs Your Air Ducts Are Clogged

Posted on August 13th, 2021 by ChristainSon_Admin

Woman holds ventilation grill with dust filter to clean it

The air ducts in your home are an essential part of your home’s HVAC system. Without air ducts, it is much more difficult to heat and cool your home to your preferred comfort levels. The primary purpose of air ducts is to direct the heated or cooled air from the furnace or air conditioner into each of the rooms in your home.

The duct system can be rather intricate with different branching and connections to ensure proper airflow at the desired output, so each room receives the same amount of heated and cooled air.

Another crucial part of your air duct system concerns the air vents. The air vents help direct the heated or cooled air into the rooms inside your home. Your home could have ceiling or floor air vents or both.

The return air vent is another type of air vent that helps circulate heated and cooled air to keep your home comfortable. Depending on the time of the year, the return air vent draws in warm or cold air and sends it back to the furnace or air conditioner so it can be heated or cooled.

The process of circulating the heated or cooled air through your home is continuous when your furnace or air conditioner is running. Due to the very nature of how the air flows through the home, over time you can start to notice the following signs of dirty air ducts and clogged air ducts.

#1: Dust accumulates much faster than normal.

If you notice that dust appears much faster and the accumulation of dust is much heavier, this is a common sign of dirty air ducts. The increase in dust could also indicate an air leak somewhere in the air ducts, so it is drawing in dust and dirt when your HVAC system operates.

#2: Your air vent covers are dirty.

Another sign of clogged air ducts is when you notice air vents in every room in the home have dirt on them. The dirt and dust debris on the vent covers indicate that the air ducts are dirty and need to be cleaned.

#3: Your air filter needs to be changed more frequently.

Since airflow through your house is cycled through the duct system and return air vent, the air filter helps catch dust, dirt, and other debris to help prevent it from getting inside your HVAC system. So, if you notice the air filter is getting clogged long before it needs to be replaced, you could have clogged air ducts.

#4: You notice a change in airflow in certain areas of the home.

The airflow from your HVAC system should be the same in every room of the home. If it seems like air is flowing out of air vents more slowly or not at all, it indicates a clogged air duct.

#5: There are noticeable differences in temperature variances between rooms in your home.

If you notice that some rooms seem warmer or colder than others, this indicates an airflow problem. Sometimes the airflow coming out the air vents may seem normal, yet it may not feel as hot or cold as the air blowing out vents in other areas of the house.

#6: You notice your energy bills have increased.

Angry woman sitting on couch holding letter reading awful news

An increase in energy bills is another sign of clogged air ducts and dirty air ducts. Since the rooms that are affected by the clog are not able to reach your desired temperature as easily, your HVAC system has to run longer to bring the entire home to the desired comfort level.

#7: You notice a dust cloud when your HVAC system turns on.

An easy indication that your air ducts are dirty or clogged is when the system turns on, you may see a cloud of dust coming out the air vents. You can double-check this by turning off the HVAC system and waiting a few minutes after it has shut down. Turn it back on and see if dust clouds come out the vents. If they do, call your HVAC technician for duct cleaning service.

#8: You just completed a major home renovation project.

Renovation projects create a lot of dust and dirt that can get blown into the air ducts. The last thing you want is all that construction dust and dirt getting spread around the entire home. If you overlook this, your home will get dusty and dirtier faster. After your renovation project is completed, make sure to get your ducts cleaned.

#9: You notice a musty odor throughout the house.

During the summer months, humidity is an issue that can cause mold and mildew to grow inside the air ducts, especially if they are dirty. Water droplets will form on dust and dirt particles inside the ducts, which creates the perfect environment for mold and mildew growth.

#10: You notice your allergies seem worse.

Dust can contain all sorts of allergens that aggravate your allergies. If you are sneezing, coughing, or experiencing watery, itchy eyes that seem much worse than normal, your air ducts are probably dirty.

#11: You are having respiratory issues or other health problems.

Poor indoor air quality can trigger respiratory issues and other health problems. If you have asthma, you might notice your flare-ups are occurring more frequently. If you or your family members are constantly sick with colds and the flu, it could be caused by dirty air ducts.

How to Check for Dirty or Clogged Air Ducts

Aside from the above signs of clogged air ducts and dirty air ducts, there are a few things you can check before calling your HVAC technician, as follows:

  1. Remove the air vent cover and take a look inside the duct. If there is a lot of dust and dirt, then you know you need to have your air ducts cleaned.
  2. Open the return air vent and check it for dust accumulations. If you notice fuzzy and thick dust on the inside of the return air vent slats, it is a good indication your air ducts need cleaning.
  3. Inspect the outdoor AC unit’s cooling coils. The cooling coils are typically wrapped around the exterior of the unit. You can often look inside through the top or in between the air vent slats on the sides. If you notice these are dirty and dusty, they need to be cleaned, along with your air ducts. Your air return needs to be checked, as well, because it is not working correctly. It is allowing dust and dirt to be spread throughout the home.
  4. Inspect the blower motor. If you have a split system, where your furnace is inside with the blower motor, you can open the furnace door to check for dust and dirt accumulations. If you notice an excessive amount, then your ducts could be dirty or clogged.

How Often Do Air Ducts Need to Be Cleaned?

Young repairman repairing ceiling air conditioning unit

You should have your air ducts inspected every three years and every year after that until they require cleaning. Normally, ducts require cleaning every three to five years to remove dust, dirt, and other debris.

Air duct cleaning is also the perfect time to verify your air ducts are properly sealed. When air ducts are not sealed, they can draw in dust and dirt anytime the HVAC system is in operation. Plus, air gaps affect your system’s efficiency because the system is drawing into the air ducts hot or cold air, depending on the time of year.

Schedule Air Duct Cleaning Today

If you notice any of the signs of clogged air ducts and dirty air ducts we mentioned, or if it has been more than five years since your air ducts were cleaned, your air ducts need cleaning. Please feel free to contact Christianson Air Conditioning & Plumbing at 512-246-5400 to schedule an appointment for air duct cleaning in New Braunfels, Temple, San Antonio, or the Austin Metro area today!

Is a New HVAC Unit Tax Deductible?

Posted on July 24th, 2021 by ChristainSon_Admin

Ac air appliance change checking clean condition

Energy Star equipment tax credits for residential homeowners were extended by the IRS through December 31, 2021. Taxpayers who make qualifying home improvements before the end of 2021 can claim a tax credit when they file their 2021 tax returns.

Included in the eligible tax credits are certain HVAC systems that meet specific qualifying requirements when you have a new system installed by a professional heating and cooling company. There are two specific qualifying conditions you must satisfy to be eligible for a federal tax credit, as follows:

#1: The new air conditioner must be installed at your primary residence.

You can only qualify for the tax credit when the new system is installed in your primary residence. For most people, this will be their existing home. If you own more than one home, only the one you use as your primary residence qualifies for the tax credit.

#2: The new air conditioner must meet energy-efficiency improvement requirements.

The new HVAC system must meet the required energy efficiency rating. Energy efficiency ratings are determined by the type of system you have installed. It is highly recommended you review what systems qualify for the energy property tax credit with your HVAC installer to ensure you select an eligible unit.

How Much Is the Energy Efficiency Tax Credit Worth?

The maximum amount of the energy efficiency tax credit will vary depending on the type of system installed. You could qualify for a tax credit if you have one of the following HVAC systems installed in your home:

  • Gas Furnace
  • Split System Heat Pump
  • Packaged AC System
  • Heat Pump/Dual Fuel Systems
  • Central Air Conditioning Split Systems
  • Gas Furnace or Packaged System with an Advanced Main Air Circulating Fan

Qualified home improvement HVAC system installations can earn tax credits ranging from $50 to $300. However, some homeowners may qualify for 10% of the installed costs up to $500 maximum.

Why Does This Home Improvement Incentive Exist?

In efforts to get homeowners to make energy-efficient home improvements, the federal government rolled out the incentive program back in 2006. Since that time, they have continued to renew the program, extending its expiration date. Originally, the program was slated to expire on December 31, 2020. However, it was extended for another year.

There is no guarantee the program will be extended beyond 2021. Furthermore, each time the program is extended, the amount of qualifying energy-efficiency tax credits have been gradually reduced. So, if you have been thinking about having a new HVAC system installed and want to take advantage of the federal tax credits, now is the perfect time.

Aside from the energy property tax credits for HVAC systems, there are tax credits for qualifying water heaters as well. You can combine tax credits up to the maximum $500 amount.

How Do You Claim This Tax Credit?

Accountant working with US tax forms

To claim the energy-efficient home federal tax credit, you need to fill out IRS Form 5695 and complete Form 1040 when preparing your federal income tax return. If you use a tax preparation software or application, make sure to select that you need to fill out Form 1040.

The application should prompt you by asking questions about energy-efficiency improvements you made to your home. If you have a tax accountant prepare your tax return, simply let them know you want to claim this tax credit on your 2021 tax return.

Find Out How Much You Could Qualify For

If you want to find out how much you could qualify for when you have a new HVAC system installed in your home, please feel free to contact Christianson Air Conditioning & Plumbing. Call us at 512-246-5400 to schedule an in-home consultation in New Braunfels, Temple, San Antonio, or the Austin Metro Area today!

We can also provide you information about water heater replacements that qualify for federal tax credits.

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10 Signs Tree Roots Are Growing in Pipes

Posted on July 22nd, 2021 by ChristainSon_Admin

Split drainage pipe caused by ingress of tree roots

Most homeowners in Texas will have trees on their property to help provide shade, especially on those hot summer days. However, while trees provide shade, they can cause problems with your home’s water and sewer pipes.

When roots get in pipes, it is essential to resolve the problem sooner than later. Otherwise, you end up with more plumbing problems and repairs to fix.

How do tree roots grow in pipes?

Tree roots seek out moisture to provide water for the tree. In general, most tree root systems are about three times larger than the height of the tree. So, if you have a ten-foot-tall tree, the root system is roughly thirty feet long!

The root system also extends over a wide area under the ground to help keep the tree in place. When water leaks develop in water pipes and sewer pipes, tree roots are attracted to it. Very small parts of the tree root can grow into tiny cracks and openings in the plumbing pipes to get to the water.

As the roots get inside the pipe, they gradually become bigger and bigger. Eventually, their size can cause water and sewer pipes to become obstructed and prevent the flow of water and sewage.

Additionally, the larger roots can cause the pipes to crack and break. Depending on whether it is your water line or sewer line that cracks and breaks, you may not notice right away, unless you know what signs to watch for that could indicate tree roots are in the pipes.

How fast do tree roots grow in sewer pipes?

All tree roots see out water, oxygen, and nutrients to help the tree thrive and grow. The roots will grow in any direction necessary, including into sewer pipes. Most tree roots grow the most from spring through fall.

How fast tree roots grow in sewer pipes is much faster than growing in the dirt. Since the roots have access to a constant supply of water, oxygen, and nutrients in the sewer line, not only will the tree thrive and look very healthy, but the root system will expand and grow much quicker.

In general, depending on the size of the sewer line, it could take anywhere from a year to three years before the roots completely clog the sewer line. The smaller the pipe’s diameter, the faster it will clog.

With water lines, the rate of growth is about the same. Initially, when tree roots first enter sewer or water pipes, most people will not notice anything until something goes wrong with their home’s plumbing.

What signs should homeowners watch out for?

young woman checking faucet while having problem with dropping faucet in kitchen

Sign #1: Strange Odors

If you notice strange odors coming from drain lines, it might indicate a tree root problem. However, it could also indicate there is yucky stuff inside the drain pipes that just need a professional drain cleaning to remove.

Sign #2: Water drains away slowly.

Slowly draining drains could indicate tree roots in the sewer lines. Yet again, it could also be a problem that requires a drain cleaning service to clean away accumulated deposits inside the drain pipes.

Sign #3: Toilets have lost their “oomph.”

When you flush the toilet and the water seems not to go down as powerfully as it used to, it might indicate that tree roots are growing inside sewer pipes. A clog could also be developing if you flushed down items you shouldn’t have in the toilet like paper towels, tissues, or baby wipes.

Sign #4: You hear gurgling coming from drains or toilets.

When water is draining down one drain line, you might notice gurgling sounds coming from other drains in the home or the toilets. You might also hear these sounds when you flush a toilet.

Sign #5: Toilets back up when flushed.

When you flush the toilet, it could back up, or other toilets in the home could back up if there are tree roots in your sewer line.

Sign #6: Your water bill increases unexpectedly.

If you notice your water bill is increasing, yet you are not using any more water than usual, this could indicate tree roots have grown into your main water line. However, this sign could indicate there are water leaks as well.

Sign #7: You notice parts of your yard are sinking into the ground.

Leaks from sewer and water lines when tree roots have damaged them can cause the ground to become overly saturated with moisture. Eventually, the weight of the wet soil causes it to sink into the ground.

Sign #8: You notice certain trees are growing more quickly than other trees in your yard.

If a few of the trees on your property look greener and have a lot more new growth than others, this often indicates that they have found a steady source of water, typically from sewer or water lines.

Sign #9: You notice a drop in water pressure.

Water pressure will not drop unless there is an obstruction of some sort. When tree roots grow into water supply lines, the blockage will cause water pressure to drop.

Sign #10: You notice pipes are making a banging noise or whistling noise.

When you turn on the water, flush the toilet, or drain the tub or a sink full of water and hear banging noises or whistling noises, this could indicate the water pipe or sewer pipe has been cracked or crushed, allowing air to flow into the pipe.

Tree Roots in Pipes Removal

service man, plumber or electric

Several different tree roots pipe removal options are available, depending on the extent of the problem, as follows:

Sewer Root Removal

Small tree roots can be removed using a special pipe auger that cuts the roots away and clears the clog from the sewer pipe or water pipe. However, this is a temporary solution to the problem. The same leaks and cracks that allowed the tree roots inside the pipe will remain. So, the problem will return again.

Sewer Pipe Lining

Sewer pipe lining is a more permanent solution to tree roots in pipe problems. The tree roots are removed first using sewer root removal processes. Once the roots are gone, a pipe lining is inserted inside the existing pipe. Even though there are cracks and leaks in the original pipe, the new pipe lining blocks those to prevent tree roots from returning.

Sewer Pipe Bursting

Sewer pipe bursting is another minimally invasive way to fix sewer and water lines that tree roots have invaded. This method is also a permanent solution that is better to use when the pipes have extensive cracking and breaking.

The new sewer pipe is connected to a winch. A special pointed-head is put on one end of the new pipe. It is then pulled through the existing line, clearing out the tree roots and damaged sections to create a new section of pipe fitted to the existing sewer or water line.

Sewer Line Replacement

The final option to eliminate tree roots from water and sewer lines is to replace the existing pipe with a new one. This process requires digging up larger sections of the yard to have full access to the sewer line or water line.

The old sewer line or water is removed from the ground, along with the tree roots in the pipes. Next, a new section of sewer line is installed and connected on both ends to the existing line. Sewer line replacement is also a permanent solution to tree root problems.

To determine which tree root pipe removal option is best, a camera inspection should be performed first. Camera inspections help determine where the obstructions are located. They allow you to find out if tree roots are the problem or if you simply need a professional drain cleaning service instead.

If you suspect tree roots might be growing into your water and sewer pipes, you will want to contact Christianson Air Conditioning & Plumbing to schedule a camera inspection as soon as possible.

After we conduct the inspection, we will advise on the problem and make recommendations on how to resolve it. Please feel free to call us at 512-246-5400 to schedule an appointment today! We can also take care of your other plumbing or air conditioning problems in New Braunfels, Temple, San Antonio, or the Austin Metro Area.

How to Prevent Water Damage in Your Home

Posted on July 8th, 2021 by ChristainSon_Admin

As a homeowner, it’s important to know how to prevent water damage in your home. Water damage does more than make things wet. Excess moisture on any surface can lead to mold and mildew, and some can be harmful to your health. Water damage can also cost tens of thousands of dollars to fix.

When it comes to water damage prevention, there are external and internal factors to consider. On the outside of your home, remove all debris from gutters and downspouts. It’s also important to disconnect hoses, especially during the colder months, as the standing water can freeze. This increases the risk of a blockage or burst pipe.

When beautifying your home, avoid planting bushes, trees, and thick-rooted plants near pipes. Eventually, the root system could wrap around and break underground pipes.

Most importantly, keep an eye on water drainage. When it rains, water should be moving away from your home. Otherwise, you risk water puddling against your home’s foundation.

There are also some interior things you can do for successful home water damage prevention.

Make sure everyone in your household knows where the water main shutoff is located. In the event of a plumbing problem, turning off the main water supply is critical in minimizing water damage.

Unsure if you have a plumbing issue? Keep tabs on your water bill. An unexpected jump in water usage could mean you have an undetected leak.

Ensure that your showers and bathtubs are properly sealed using waterproof caulk. This prevents water from seeping through onto the drywall.

It’s also important to regularly inspect your appliance faucets and hoses. Make sure that there are no leaks coming from your dishwasher, ice maker, washing machine, or water heater.

If you suspect you have a leak or an undetected plumbing issue, or if you need water damage cleanup and restoration services, look no further than Christianson Air Conditioning & Plumbing. Our team of experts use state-of-the-art tools and techniques to protect your home from water damage.

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Can Facial Tissue Be Flushed Down the Toilet?

Posted on June 24th, 2021 by ChristainSon_Admin

hand picked tissue form pink box

It is not uncommon for people to interchangeably use toilet paper and facial tissues. For example, they might use toilet paper to blow their nose when tissues are not handy. They may use facial tissues to wipe when they run out of toilet paper.

However, there are some key differences between the two and the effects they can have on your home’s sewer system.

What is the difference between facial tissue and toilet paper?

Facial tissue and toilet paper are both paper products. They are designed for single-use applications. These are the only two similarities between the two.

Facial tissues have a special coating on the paper that helps the tissues retain their shape and absorb moisture. Some tissues have lotions or other coatings to help keep the nose soft and from getting red and irritated.

Compared to facial tissues, toilet paper is designed to be absorbent when used. Yet, it will start to dissolve and break down in a short period of time when exposed to water. Depending on the toilet paper quality, this could occur as soon as it is discarded into the toilet bowl.

What happens if you flush facial tissues?

Facial tissues are not designed to break down quickly. While they will degrade over time, it can be days or weeks before the tissues start breaking down. Since tissues retain their shape longer, they can cause all sorts of problems if you flush them down the toilet.

Tissues can get stuck in various areas of your home’s sewer system. If you flush multiple tissues simultaneously, you could accidentally create a clog that can be difficult to remove. Not to mention, facial tissues are not as easily processed by water treatment plants and will cause septic system tanks to fill up faster.

What can you do if your toilet clogs from flushing facial tissues?

If you clog your toilet from flushing facial tissues, there are a few things you can do. The first thing you do is use a plunger to try to remove the clog. Sometimes, plunging the toilet will work if you usually do not flush tissues down the toilet.

For more difficult clogs, it could be necessary to call a plumber for assistance. Your plumber will use various tools and methods to remove the clog. If you were habitually flushing tissues down the toilet, it is highly recommended you also have your plumbing system sewer lines cleaned to ensure every bit of tissue is removed.

What other items should you never flush in the toilet?

Flushing down disinfectant wipes as toilet paper

Facial tissues are not the only items that you should never flush in the toilet. Other items that are not safe to flush include:

  • Paper Towels
  • Disposable Diapers
  • Dental Floss
  • Baby Wipes
  • Tissue Paper
  • Q-Tips
  • Cat Litter
  • Cleaning Wipes
  • Condoms
  • Cigarette/Cigar Butts
  • Feminine Hygiene Products
  • Medications

What about flushable wipes? Are they safe to flush?

There are numerous brands of flushable wipes on the market. You need to read the packaging to see if it says it is safe to flush. If there is nothing on the package indicating this, do not flush the wipes in the toilet.

Additionally, you should never flush more than two flushable wipes at a time. Otherwise, excessive amounts could also cause a clog.

For help removing toilet clogs and other plumbing problems in New Braunfels, Temple, San Antonio, or the Austin Metro area, please feel free to contact Christianson Air Conditioning & Plumbing at 512-246-5400 today!

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