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10 Things You Should Never Put Down Your Garbage Disposal

Posted on January 19th, 2021 by ChristainSon_Admin

The garbage disposal is a very useful kitchen appliance that can make many kinds of food waste disappear with just the flick of a switch. However, it’s important not to overestimate the capabilities of your garbage disposal. Though your disposal may seem like it can handle anything, it really can’t. Certain types of waste products can cause serious harm to the system. For instance:

  • Hard food waste can badly ding up your disposal equipment.
  • Stringy food waste can become entangled in your grinder and interfere with its ability to function.
  • Some kinds of liquid waste can cling to the sides of your pipes, causing them to become clogged.

Even people who are aware of these dangers sometimes temporarily forget themselves and end up dumping the wrong kinds of materials into the disposal. For the most part, it’s okay if this happens every now and then. Your disposal should be able to deal with the occasional mistake without suffering any lasting harm. But repeated encounters with these unmanageable waste products will put your entire disposal system in danger and possibly lead to costly repairs.

Check out the following infographic from your friends at Christianson Air Conditioning & Plumbing to learn about the types of products you should not be putting into your garbage disposal.

Things You Should Never Put Down Your Garbage Disposal Infographic

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8 of the Most Common Furnace Problems and What They Mean

Posted on December 28th, 2020 by ChristainSon_Admin

As we move into the winter months and colder weather, it means people will be running their furnaces to heat their homes. To keep your furnace running smoothly all season long, it is a great idea to contact your local furnace repair service and schedule furnace maintenance. Doing so now can help you avoid these common furnace problems later.

Plumber fixing gas furnace

1.  The furnace turns on, shuts off after a few minutes, and then repeats this cycle.

Furnaces have built-in sensors to ensure they are operating correctly. One of these sensors monitors how hot the furnace is. When it gets too hot, the sensor shuts it off. If your furnace is cycling on, runs for a few minutes, then shuts off, only to repeat the cycle over and over without ever heating your home, there is something wrong with the furnace.

Overheating can occur for various reasons. One reason you can easily check is your furnace filter. When your furnace is not getting sufficient airflow, it will overheat. If your air filter is dirty, change it and see if this fixes the problem. If not, call your furnace repair technician.

2.  There is no warm air coming out of the air vents.

Another common furnace problem is when there is no warm air. There are several things you can check before calling for furnace repair service. First, check to make sure the heat is turned on at the thermostat. If the thermostat was not changed from cooling to heating, your air conditioner may still run during the day.

If the thermostat is set to heat, the next thing to check is to see if the fan is turned on. If the fan is turned on and running, it will blow cool air out the air vents, even when the furnace is not cycling.

Next, check the air filter. If it is clogged and airflow is restricted, it can seem like no warm air is coming out of the vents. Replace the air filter to see if this fixes the problem.

Large sized furnace filter loaded into the appropriate place

If you have a gas furnace, verify the pilot light is lit. If the pilot is not lit, the furnace won’t run. After lighting the pilot light, confirm it stays lit and does not go out. If it does, then there is something wrong with the pilot light that needs to be fixed.

If you have an electric furnace and have tried everything else, your heating coils may need to be cleaned or replaced. This is a job best left to your furnace repair technician.

3.  You notice a burning smell from the furnace.

A burning smell from the furnace is normal at the start of the heating season. The first time you turn on the furnace, you may notice this smell. The furnace is burning off the dust that has gotten inside the system and air vents. The smell should dissipate and go away in about two to three heating cycles.

If the smell does not go away, or you notice a strong natural gas smell around the furnace or coming through the air vents, shut the furnace off. Open up windows to let in some fresh air. Call for furnace repair service ASAP.

4.  You notice the furnace is leaking water.

If you have a furnace that is connected to your hot water heater or a newer model with energy-efficient features, you could experience this common furnace problem. One cause for the furnace leaking water is there are leaks in the pipes connected from the hot water heater to the furnace.

If you have a condensation unit on your furnace, you may notice water leaks too. The pipes can get clogged or develop leaks at pipe connections and other such areas. To pinpoint the leak and problem, it is best to call your furnace repair company.

5.  Your furnace seems louder than it used to be.

Furnaces make noise when they run. You will hear the sound of the blower motor as it blows the warm air throughout your home. You will hear the sound of the furnace unit running. On gas models, there can be a whooshing sound when the unit first turns on and the gas is set on fire.

Other sounds to listen for include clanging, banging, rattling, and knocking noises. These can indicate something is wrong with the furnace and the moving parts and components inside. If you suspect something is wrong, shut off the furnace and call for repair service. DO NOT keep running the furnace, as you could make the problem worse.

6.  There is no power to the thermostat or furnace.

The thermostat and furnace both require electricity, even if they are gas furnaces. If your power is out due to an outage, then your furnace will not work. If you notice you have power elsewhere in the home, then you will want to check your breaker box. There is a high probability that the circuit breaker blew.

Reset the breaker and see if that fixes the problem. If the furnace turns on but the breaker blows again, something is wrong. A wire could be exposed or there could be a faulty connection somewhere in the wiring. You will want to call for furnace repair service to have the problem pinpointed and resolved.

7.  The carbon monoxide monitor goes off each time the furnace runs.

This type of furnace problem should be taken seriously. If your monitor is being set off, that means there is too much carbon monoxide in the home. Shut the furnace down, call your furnace repair technician, and open up some windows to air the carbon monoxide out of the home.

8.  The furnace turns on and won’t shut off until you turn it off.

Another common furnace problem occurs when the furnace turns on but won’t cycle correctly and shut off. If the furnace has to be manually turned off at the thermostat or by resetting the breaker, something is wrong with it.

One possible cause is there is something wrong with the wiring between the thermostat and the furnace. The thermostat might be attempting to send the end of the cycle signal to the furnace, yet, if there is a broken wire, the signal may never reach the furnace. Regardless of the cause, this is one problem best left to your furnace repair technician.

Signs Your Furnace Needs to Be Replaced

Aside from the common furnace problems we covered, there are other things that can go wrong with your furnace. These things often indicate it is time to replace your furnace with a new model.

●    Your heating bills keep increasing.

If you notice the costs to heat your home have increased, and it has not been extremely cold, this could mean your furnace is not working properly and is using more energy to heat your home.

●    Your furnace is more than 10 years old.

The life expectancy of your furnace can vary from about 15 to 20 years. However, after 10 years of service, you need to start planning for a new furnace. Older furnaces are no longer energy-efficient and can start to cost too much to maintain.

●    Your furnace keeps breaking and needs frequent repairs.

Heating system with hot water thermal storage tank

If you have to call your furnace repair technician every month or more often during the fall and winter for furnace problems, it is time for a new furnace. The costs to repair your furnace will end up costing you more in the long run rather than getting a new furnace now.

●    Your home doesn’t seem warm at your preferred thermostat setting.

If you have to turn up the thermostat to feel comfortable, it often indicates the furnace is not working properly. If the furnace is older, it could be on its last legs and ready for replacement.

As you can see, common furnace problems could indicate your furnace needs to be repaired in some cases. In others, it may need to be replaced with a new furnace.

For furnace repair service and furnace replacement service in San Antonio, Austin Metro, Temple, and New Braunfels, please feel free to contact Christianson Air Conditioning and Plumbing at 512-246-5400 today!


Do You Notice Funky Garbage Disposal Smells? How to Fix a Smelly Garbage Disposal

Posted on December 24th, 2020 by ChristainSon_Admin

Garbage disposals are great kitchen appliances when they are used correctly. With regular use, you may notice unpleasant and funky garbage disposal smells coming from your sink. Fortunately, how to clean your garbage disposal is fairly simple and something you can try to resolve on your own using these great tips.

  1. Clean the sink. Use an approved cleaning product for your sink type, and clean the sink base and exterior of the garbage disposal. Sometimes small food particles can dry and remain on the base of the sink and the top of the disposal.
  2. Pull out any food scraps or debris from inside the disposal. Make sure the disposal is shut off! We recommend also turning the breaker switch off as an added safety precaution. Carefully reach inside the disposal unit and feel around for larger food scraps and remove these.
  3. Flush the garbage disposal. Put the sink drain plug over the disposal. Pour about ½ a cup of vinegar into the sink. Next, fill the sink half full with hot water. Remove the drain plug and turn the disposal on. The vinegar helps remove stuck-on particles and flushes the entire system.

Water running into a garbage disposal of a stainless steel sink

  1. Refresh and deodorize using the rinds of citrus fruits. Oranges, limes, lemons, or any other citrus fruit will work. Remove the rind from the fruit, and break it into small pieces. Toss these into the disposal. Turn on the water and turn the disposal on. The natural oils in the rinds help deodorize and clean the disposal.
  2. Clean the blades with salt and ice. Fill the interior of the disposal with ice cubes. Next, measure out one cup of kosher salt or rock salt and pour it into the disposal. Run a slow trickle of cold water while turning the disposal on. The ice and salt will help sharpen the blades and remove any stuck-on debris.
  3. Try vinegar and baking soda to clean and deodorize the disposal. Another great way to get rid of funky garbage disposal smells is to measure out 2 cups of baking soda and carefully pour this into the disposal. Next, measure and pour ½ cup of vinegar into the disposal. Let this mix and foam for about an hour. Last, run hot water down the disposal for a minute or two.
  4. Clean the disposal regularly. Get into the habit of cleaning your garbage disposal regularly to keep odors and funky smells away. Depending on how often you use your disposal, use one of the previously mentioned cleaning methods.

What Do I Do If Funky Smells Return and I’ve Tried Cleaning My Garbage Disposal?

If you have tried cleaning your garbage disposal and funky smells keep returning, this often indicates debris, food particles, and other icky stuff are all stuck to the inside of your drain pipes. To eliminate the odors for good, you should contact your plumber and schedule drain cleaning services.

Professional drain cleaning with a self guiding electric snake

We also highly recommend you have your drains cleaned annually to keep them clean and prevent clogs. Once your drains have been cleaned, make sure to avoid putting anything in the garbage disposal you should not, including:

  • Coffee Grounds
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Potato and Vegetable Peelings
  • Celery
  • Egg Shells
  • Hot Grease

These things can leave food particles, get stuck in the disposal’s moving parts and components, and create funky and unpleasant odors.

To schedule drain cleaning services, other plumbing services, or air conditioning and heating services in Temple, New Braunfels, San Antonio, or Austin Metro, please feel free to contact Christianson Air Conditioning & Plumbing at 512-246-5400 today!

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How Does a Water Softener Work?

Posted on November 25th, 2020 by ChristainSon_Admin

A water softener removes dissolved minerals that make water “hard.” It replaces these minerals with sodium, which makes water “soft.”

Calcium and magnesium are two of the most common and troublesome hard water minerals. They aren’t harmful to consume. But they can wreak havoc on your appliances, plumbing fixtures, and even your skin and hair. If you find crusty deposits in your bathtub or water spots on your dishes or coffee pot, odds are you’re one of the 85% of households in the U.S. with hard water, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Components of a Water Softener System

 plumber with a wrench

Water softeners remove problem-causing minerals through a process called ion exchange. The typical salt-based water softening system contains three main components: a softener tank, a brine tank, and a control valve.

Water enters the softener tank and moves through resin beads that are charged with sodium ions. The positively charged minerals in the water cling to the negatively charged sodium ions in the resin beads, like a magnet. The minerals are swapped out with small amounts of sodium, making the water soft.

The brine tank regenerates the system. It contains a concentrated salt solution, which is flushed through the softener tank. This serves two purposes. First, it washes away the hard-mineral deposits from the resin beads. Second, it recharges the resin beads with sodium ions. Regeneration cycles typically happen at night and allow the system to continue providing soft water.

The control valve gauges how much water passes through the softener tank. It automatically triggers regeneration cycles, as needed, to keep the system functioning optimally. The built-in computer on the valve can be programmed with information about your household—things like the size of your home and the hardness level of your water.

How do I know if I have hard water?

hard water in the cattle

Hard water causes the familiar spots on dishes and the scummy film that coats sinks, tubs, and shower curtains. Over time, it causes scale deposits in plumbing lines, which can reduce your home’s water pressure and damage your plumbing system.

Hard water also shortens the lifespan of appliances, like dishwashers and coffee makers. If you’ve ever noticed a popping sound from your hot water heater, it’s likely due to scale build-up on the unit’s heating element.

Bathing with hard water causes itchy skin and dry hair and makes it hard to get a good lather.

All of these are signs you have hard water. To know for sure, consider hiring a professional plumber to perform a water quality inspection. In addition to testing hardness, a professional inspection can reveal whether your water contains harmful substances like lead, nitrates, and radon.

What are the benefits of soft water?

We’ve covered some of the problems associated with hard water, from reduced water pressure to scale build-up. Let’s look at the benefits of installing a water softener.

Increased longevity of appliances

Scale build-up from hard water is incredibly damaging to appliances. Investing in a water softener can extend the life of your appliances by many months or years.

Easier cleaning

Scale build-up and hard water stains make cleaning more difficult and time consuming. A water softener will reduce or even eliminate scale deposits.

Better performance of soaps and detergents

Soft water makes soaps and detergents work more efficiently. In fact, sudsy products should be used more judiciously with a water softener, as a little goes a long way. This also means you’ll save money on cleaning products.

Softer skin and hair

Hard water dries out skin, hair, and nails. You’ll likely notice a difference immediately after installing a water softener system.

Reliability and low maintenance

Modern water softeners are efficient and easy to maintain. Other than adding salt pellets to the brine tank periodically (and the recommended annual service check), these self-contained systems tend to be exceptionally reliable, requiring little work for homeowners.

Ready to Install a Water Softener System?

A water softener should be installed by a licensed plumber or contractor, especially if your home is on well water. The experts at Christianson Air Conditioning and Plumbing will recommend the optimal system for your home, based on the hardness level of your water and your needs. Our full-service plumbing and air conditioning company has been faithfully serving customers in the Greater Austin-San Antonio region for 70 years. Learn more about our company and contact us to schedule an appointment.


5 Signs Your Heater Is Not Working Properly

Posted on November 24th, 2020 by ChristainSon_Admin

This time of year, you rely on your furnace or heater more and more for indoor comfort. With that warmth comes the risk of a breakdown if you don’t act on signs of trouble. Most heater problems can be spotted early. Here are signs you should contact a heating repair professional before you’re left shivering on a cold winter’s day.

1. Something Doesn’t Sound Right

A furnace making noise isn’t always a reason to panic, but if you suddenly hear rattling, banging, squeaking, clicking, popping, or hissing sounds, the best thing is to call a technician. If a furnace suddenly stops making sounds and is silent, that’s also a reason for it to be serviced. Heater noise may originate from a faulty blower fan, a loose belt, or even a gas leak.

2. Odd Smells

Woman With Warm Clothing Feeling The Cold Inside House

If you smell a musty odor when your heater is running, there may be dust inside the ducts. The odor tends to dissipate over time—call a professional if it lasts more than a few hours. If your heater smells like it’s burning, there may be a mechanical malfunction or plastic or rubber components burning in the system.

3. Your Home Isn’t Hot Everywhere

Some parts of your home may be cold while other areas are warm and cozy. Try looking at whether every vent is open. If it’s not your vents, then something may be wrong with the appliance. In extreme cases, you may notice ice forming. Also, be on the lookout for areas that are too hot; your furnace may be inefficient and wasting energy.

4. Your Energy Bill Has Spiked

While abnormally low temperatures and other factors may cause utility bills to rise, a struggling heater will burn more energy to get the same job done—thus, there’ll be a noticeable increase in your energy bill. If the number goes up in moderate temperatures or compared to last year at the same time, check the filter or have a professional troubleshoot any potential issues.

5. The Pilot Light Is a Color Other Than Blue

Plumber fixing gas furnace

The pilot light in a gas furnace should always be bright blue. A yellow or orange pilot light flame means the gas isn’t burning properly and carbon monoxide may be present. If so, there may be soot streaks on the heater, signs of moisture on exterior windows and walls, water pooling below the chimney or flue pipe, or rust on the vent pipe. Also, know the signs of CO poisoning, such as headaches, nausea, dizziness, flu-like symptoms, and hallucinations.

Call Christianson Air Conditioning and Plumbing

These are just a few common problems with heating systems. If not addressed, they can lead to heater breakdowns and even indoor air quality and health issues. Customers in Austin and San Antonio rely on us for high-quality heating repair, no matter what kind of issue is occurring. To schedule heating system repair, we can be reached 24/7 by calling our local offices:

  • Austin: 512-246-5400
  • San Antonio: 210-651-1212
  • Temple: 254-773-7175
  • New Braunfels: 830-627-2211

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How to Prevent Plumbing Problems This Holiday Season

Posted on October 24th, 2020 by ChristainSon_Admin

You might be surprised to learn that the busiest time of the year for our Texas emergency plumbers is the holiday season. From around Thanksgiving through New Year’s, it is not uncommon for people to have friends and family visiting or they are hosting holiday parties at their homes.

One of the top plumbing service calls plumbers receive is for problems with kitchen sink drains and garbage disposals. These types of services increase during the holidays because people are putting things down their drains and into their disposals that they shouldn’t.

Plumber with Facemask Cleaning Drain

It is not uncommon for people to pour hot grease, oil, potato skins, potatoes, other such things into their sink drains or garbage disposals. These things can quickly clog up drain lines.

As grease and oil cool, they harden and can create blockages. Potato skins and potatoes are full of starches. Starches act like glue when they go through plumbing lines and stick inside the pipes. Even worse, these things can end up in the garbage disposal. There will be leftover grease, oil, and potatoes in the disposal that can cause it to stick and cause the motor to burn out.

The easiest way of how to prevent plumbing problems with clogged sink drains and damaged garbage disposals is to dispose of food scraps, peelings, grease, and oil by putting these things in your composting pile.

Other Types of Plumbing Problems You Can Prevent

Some other types of plumbing problems that tend to increase during the holiday season include:

1. Frozen Pipes – Here in Texas, there can still be cold weather that causes pipes to freeze and burst. Make sure to have your plumber wrap and insulate any pipes in your crawl space or basement to avoid this problem. It is also beneficial to wrap and insulate pipes under sinks as an added precaution.

Professional handyman repairing dishwasher in the kitchen

2. No Hot Water – With a house full of guests, your water heater can be strained to keep up with hot water demands. Running out of hot water is never good. Have your plumber check your water heater settings to make sure they are set to accommodate the number of people in the home and keep up with hot water demand.

3. Water Heater Failure – A side effect of increased hot water demand is when the heater fails because it is older. If your water heater is more than 10 years old, you may want to replace it before the holiday.

4. Leaks – Water leaks tend to become more common when temperatures are cooling off. This is because pipes can contract when they are cooler. If the pipes are loose or damaged in some manner, leaks can occur. If you suspect a leak, call for emergency plumbing service immediately.

5. Clogged Dishwasher Drains – This problem occurs when you don’t take the time to scrape off excess food from dirty dishes. You don’t have to rinse the dishes and waste any water before loading the dishwasher. However, you do need to remove larger particles of food from the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher.

As the holidays are just around the corner, now is a great time to schedule a plumbing inspection of your home. A plumbing inspection of sink drains, toilets, water heaters, and garbage disposals will discover any potential problems. Your plumber can also verify if your plumbing lines are sufficiently wrapped and insulated to prevent freezing.

To schedule a plumbing inspection or other plumbing services in San Antonio, Temple, New Braunfels, or the Austin Metro area to avoid having to call our Texas emergency plumbers this holiday season, please feel free to contact Christianson Air Conditioning and Plumbing at 512-246-5400 today!

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How to Prepare Your Heating System for Winter

Posted on October 23rd, 2020 by ChristainSon_Admin

Before winter arrives, one of the most important things you can do is prepare your heating system to make sure it’s clean and safe to run. These preparations will not only guarantee the safety of you and your family but will also ensure that your heating system runs as efficiently as possible, minimizing fuel costs in the process.

Preparing your heating system is especially important if you live in a warmer area of the country, especially in areas like Texas where heaters aren’t used as often. Though they may not be in use, heaters left off for months on end can still get dirty and develop other problems such as rust. As a result, most heating systems problems are only discovered after the heating system is turned on once it gets cold—talk about poor timing!

Thankfully, there are a few basic things you can do to ensure that your heating system is in top condition for winter. Some of these preparations include:

  • Changing the air filters
  • Inspecting blowers, chimneys, and other ventilation
  • Cleaning the furnace and heat exchanger(s)
  • Testing thermostats and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors
  • Having an annual inspection performed by a heating system professional

For more tips and information, check out the infographic below or visit us at ChristiansonCo.com.

How to Prepare Your Heating System for Winter Infographic

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Everything You Need to Know About Your Home’s Sump Pump

Posted on October 22nd, 2020 by ChristainSon_Admin

What is a sump pump? What does a sump pump do? Our sump pump plumbers are frequently asked these common questions. To help you better understand what a sump is and what it does, we have prepared this handy guide that will cover the basics of sump pumps and everything you need to know about your home’s sump pump.

What Is a Sump Pump?

A sump pump is a type of pump people use in their homes to keep water out of the basement and to help pump water from below ground to above ground. For example, some homes might have a bathroom, shower, or washer in the basement. When the water goes down the drain, it cannot easily flow upward to the main sewer line.

What Does a Sump Pump Do?

For water to be pumped upward to the main sewer line, it needs an assist from a sump pump. The sump pump turns on to help move water from the basement level up to the main sewer level or even above ground, depending on your home’s plumbing configuration.

Types of Sump Pumps

There are different types of sump pumps, depending on your specific needs for keeping your basement dry, including:

1. Backup Sump Pumps – This type of sump pump ensures water is still pumped from the basement even when the power is out. Having this type of sump pump installed in your home provides peace of mind from not having to worry about a flooded basement, especially during heavy rains and storms.

A sump pump installed in a basement of a home with a water powered backup system.

2. Submersible Sump Pumps – While this type of sump pump can be difficult to say 10 times fast, it is designed to be submerged in water. A typical installation will place the entire pump and motor in a basin in the basement. The basin is dug down below the foundation to provide an area for the water to collect.

When the basin fills to a preset level, the sump pump kicks on and pumps the water away. The primary benefits of this type of sump pump are that it is quiet and it is easy to keep concealed to maximize space in your basement.

3. Pedestal Sump Pumps – This type of sump pump consists of a separate pump and motor. The motor sits on top of the basin on a pedestal. The motor is connected to the pump, which is submerged into the basin by a hose.

When the water reaches a preset level, the motor and pump engage to pump the water away. This configuration can be a bit louder because the motor is not inside the basin. Yet, the primary benefit which people gain with this configuration is that the motor and pump tend to last longer since they are separate components.

Keep in mind that some sump pumps may include backup features and other options, depending on the make, model, etc. Your sump pump plumber can help you decide which sump pump is best for your home.

How Does a Sump Pump Work?

A sump pump will work differently, depending on the type you have installed in your home. Additionally, the type of switch in the pump will vary its operations. The types of switches used in sump pumps include:

  • Float Switch – This is like the float used in your toilet. Instead of turning off when water reaches a certain level, it turns on. Once the water level goes down and the float falls below a preset level, it switches off.
  • Electronic Switch – An electronic switch uses sensors to monitor water levels. As the water rises in the basin, once it triggers the sensors, the pump turns on to pump water away and out of the basin.
  • Diaphragm Switch – This type of switch is like an airbag that fills with air as the water rises as if you took a glass and put it upside down in a sink full of water. As the air bubble in the diaphragm causes it to move upward with the increase in water, it triggers the sump pump to turn on. Once the water level goes down, the diaphragm returns to normal and switches the pump off.
  • Pressure Switch – As the amount of water rises in the basin, the pressure increases. The increase in pressure will eventually reach a sufficient amount to activate the pressure switch to turn the sump pump on. Once the pressure levels recline, the switch turns the pump off.

The purpose of all sump pumps is to pump water out of the basin and upward into the main sewer line so it can safely drain away.

Why Does Your Home Need a Sump Pump?

If your home has a basement, it should have a sump pump. Without a sump pump, there is a higher risk of your basement flooding when it rains and storms. As the water drains into the ground, it will look for paths of least resistance to drain away. This can include running down the insides of concrete foundation walls.

When enough water pools, it can eventually flow into your basement. With a sump pump, as the water drains away, it pools in the basin rather than your basement. So, instead of having a flooded basement, your basement stays dry.

Signs of Water Damage in Your Basement

If you have a bathroom, shower, or washer in your basement, you also need a sump pump to pump the water upward into the main sewer line. If you didn’t have a sump pump, the water would drain into the basin and eventually overflow into your basement.

Please remember, if your sump pump fails or is not the right size to handle the volume of water correctly, your basement can still flood. As such, you want to consult with a skilled sump pump plumber to help select the right size pump for your home.

How Long Do Sump Pumps Last?

On average, sump pumps last anywhere from around seven to ten years. Some models do last longer, and others can fail earlier. It really comes down to the operating environment. Things like frequent power failures, how often the pump runs, the length of time the pump runs when it is on, and others will affect the overall lifespan of sump pumps.

Ideally, if your sump pump is more than seven years old, you should start thinking about replacing it sooner than later. If you wait until it fails, it could be during a heavy rainstorm, and your basement will end up being flooded.

A good indication the pump is nearing the end of its life is when it becomes noticeably louder as it runs and if it seems like the pump cycle is getting longer and longer. If the pump turns on and won’t shut off, this is also an indication the pump could be getting ready to fail.

A sump pump in a home basement-plumbing repair

Sump Pump Maintenance and How to Clean a Sump Pump

To ensure your sump pump lasts as long as possible, it requires regular maintenance. Part of this maintenance is removing the pump from the basin to inspect and clean it. The maintenance process is when you inspect the switching mechanism, wiring, and other such things.

You will need to drain as much water out of the basin as possible to check for sludge, grime, bacteria, and other such things that you’ll need to address. Since sump pump maintenance and cleaning can be a messy job, most people have their sump pump plumber take care of it for them.

Maintenance and cleaning should be performed annually before the start of the heavier rainy season in your area. Hopefully, this should help prevent unexpected failures when you need your sump pump the most.

For professional sump pump repairs, maintenance, cleaning, replacements, and new installations, as well as other air conditioning and plumbing services in San Antonio, Temple, New Braunfels, or the Austin Metro area, please feel free to contact Christianson Air Conditioning & Plumbing at 512-246-5400 today!


Texas Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

Posted on September 25th, 2020 by ChristainSon_Admin

Fall has arrived in Texas and, in order to protect your home from damage, it’s vital to ensure you conduct some fall home maintenance, both on the inside and outside of your home. This checklist will help you to prepare for cooler weather and enjoy all of the money and energy savings that go along with it.

Interior Fall Maintenance

Although it may seem like a change in season only requires your attention on the exterior of your home, the reality is that what you do on the inside will matter just as much to your home’s health and energy costs.

Test Your Detectors

Changing the smoke detector battery

Fall is a great time to schedule testing of your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors and change the batteries in them, whether they require them or not. You’ll want to ensure you do this again in the spring as well. If your detectors are hard-wired, they can still be tested, along with their electrical connections, to ensure complete safety during the winter months.

Check for Leaks

The bulk of your winter energy costs will be from heating your home. That being said, it’s important to ensure as little heat as possible escapes. Check around your windows, doors, and other openings for air leaks by holding a flame or incense stick near the frames and watching for movement.

Ensure you inspect all areas that could have air leaks, including:

  • Attic hatches
  • Entry points for phone and cable TV lines
  • Electrical outlets and switch plates
  • Baseboards

Air can also escape through gaps around mail slots, as well as foundation seals. Repair all leaks by replacing caulk and weather stripping.

Get Your Generator Ready

The last thing you’ll want to have to do in the middle of winter is to troubleshoot your generator when you need it most. Ensure next-to-no downtime this winter by checking to make sure it’s in working order and that no lines are leaking, it is far enough away from your house, and that you have enough fresh gas to fill it at least once.

Inspect Your Drains

Although it may not seem like a big deal now, slow-clearing drains may be a sign of a bigger and more serious issue that can’t wait until spring. There are many things you can try yourself to get things moving again, but, if these don’t work, it’s always best to call a drain-cleaning professional to avoid causing any damage to your drainage system.

Change Out Dirty Filters

Summer is the time to fling your windows and doors wide open and let the air flow through. However, when temperatures cool, dirty furnace filters and other filters can put unwanted particles into the air you breathe. You will definitely want to inspect and clean your furnace filters thoroughly; depending on how dirty they are, a vacuuming may do. Or you may need to immerse them in a cleaning liquid to loosen that dirt.

You’ll also want to concentrate on any filters you may have in your vacuum cleaner or air purifier, as these will also make a big difference to your indoor air quality.

Exterior Fall Maintenance

Your home is bombarded by all kinds of weather, humidity, and sunlight in the summer, which can cause many different types of damages that can worsen in cooler temperatures. Here’s what you can do during fall to protect your investment.

Clean Those Gutters

Ensuring your gutters are clean should be a top priority when preparing your home for winter. Leaves and debris can hold onto moisture and prevent it from draining through downspouts properly. Not only that, but should temperatures drop below freezing, ice will turn to water, expanding, stretching, and causing potentially expensive damage to gutters and drains.

Get Up on the Roof

The more tasks you can accomplish at the same time, the better; if you’re already on a ladder cleaning out your gutters, you may as well check your roof for secure seals around the chimney, missing shingles, and anything else you may notice is out of place.

Another thing you’ll want to inspect while you’re on the roof is your chimney itself; check its exterior for cracks and other damage. If you haven’t yet had it inspected and cleaned this year, now is the time to do it.

Inspect Your Trees

Summer storms and winds can wreak havoc on trees and, if there are any near your home, you’ll definitely want to take a walk and inspect them closely. Note any dead trees close to your home and have them removed, as it may only take one or two winter storms with high winds to bring them down. causing severe and expensive damage to your home, powerlines, and other structures. Also, check for and remove any tree branches that are loose and ready to fall.

Clean Gutter Spouts

Cleaning your gutters is definitely important, but, unless you also clean your gutter spouts, the job is only half done. Do only the gutters, and water and debris will readily run right to your gutter spouts but build up over time until they’re completely clogged. Use a plumber’s snake to get clumps out or use a pressurized hose to remove debris.

Check for Exposed Surfaces

A gutter mounted on the wall of the building

Just like your roof, the exterior of your home also suffers through the hot Texas summer. That being said, you’ll want to check for any areas, such as fences, trim, or railings on which paint has chipped. These exposed surfaces can worsen over winter, so protect them with paint or sealant if you plan to address them after winter’s end.

Other exterior surfaces to check for include your home’s foundation, as well as the seals around the outside of windows, doors, and pipes. If any foundation cracks are found, you’ll want to seal them immediately; should water be allowed to enter your foundation in the fall, below-freezing temperatures will cause it to expand, leading to catastrophic damage.

Feed Your Lawn

The onset of cooler weather may have you thinking that your lawn no longer needs nourishment or hydration, but this couldn’t be further from the truth; your lawn will need as much protection as possible before winter sets in. So now is also a great time to ensure it is well-watered and fertilized so you have a healthy lawn when warmer weather arrives.

Have Your HVAC Unit Inspected

Dirty air conditioning unit. Condenser coils full of dirt and grass debris

Those hot, humid Texas summers take their toll on everyone and everything, including your HVAC unit, which has probably been working overtime. There are things you can do to extend your unit’s life, such as listening for unusual noises, ensuring your filters are always cleaned or replaced, and cleaning your registers. It’s also a good idea to be sure that any bushes located close to your unit are cut back to allow for sufficient air flow.

However, it’s just as important to know when it’s time for a professional HVAC inspection; putting this off can mean an increased risk of future repairs or replacement way before those repairs or a replacement should occur. Getting professional, twice-yearly maintenance allows your HVAC unit to be prepared for winter, and then again for spring and summer.

What’s Included in Professional Maintenance?

A thorough professional inspection should always consist of servicing, tuning up, and inspecting all aspects of the HVAC unit, including its condensers, compressors, and coils, as well as the heating assembly, static pressure, and electrical components.

When you need to complete your fall home maintenance checklist, you’ll definitely want to include maintenance on your HVAC unit. Christianson Air Conditioning and Plumbing has been providing our customers in Austin Metro, San Antonio, Temple, and New Braunfels with service excellence and true value since 1950. Call us at (512) 246-5400 today.


When Is the Busiest Time of Year for Plumbers?

Posted on September 24th, 2020 by ChristainSon_Admin

Beautiful autumn landscape with yellow trees and sun

Need to call the plumber? Now might not be the best time!

While plumbing problems occur regardless of season, there’s one season in particular where plumbers see massive upticks in calls. While a good plumber will always be ready to help, knowing when the busy season is—and the reason why it’s so busy—can help you avoid the long waiting times.

When is the busiest time of year for plumbers?

The busiest time for plumbers is from September to December, though the busy season can extend to March or April depending on the climate. While this range may seem arbitrary, there are some good reasons why this time comes with so many plumbing issues.

Why are fall and winter the busiest seasons for plumbers?

person picking food on tray

One of the reasons for the business is the changing weather; many homes in colder climates suffer from frozen and/or burst pipes due to the drop in temperature during this time. Even when the temperatures aren’t freezing, they can still be cold enough to cause things to “shift” enough to break something!

A more interesting reason for the increase in plumbing problems is the holidays that occur during this time. With most families preparing large meals for winter holidays such as Thanksgiving, many kitchen sink plumbing systems get clogged with grease and food waste. As a result, the day after Thanksgiving is often the busiest plumbing day of the year!

In climates where the busy season extends into the spring, rainfall is often the reason. With increased rain during the fall and spring months, many drain systems become overwhelmed or damaged due to the sudden increase in flowing water.

How can homeowners prevent plumbing problems over the fall and winter months?

While many homes experience plumbing problems during this time, there are a few easy things you can do to prevent plumbing problems during the holidays and winter months.

First, make sure your pipes are properly insulated and functioning before the temperature drops too low. Freezing temperatures can make metal pipes brittle and freeze backed-up water, resulting in frozen and/or burst pipes. While this precaution mostly applies to those in colder climates, even those in more moderate areas may want to have their plumbing checked before seasonal temperature changes.

Second, be careful when cooking or hosting parties during the holidays. Never pour grease or fat down the drain, even if you have a garbage disposal. Instead, store grease and fat in a separate, heatproof container such as an empty can or glass jar. Once the grease is at room temperature, simply throw it away or find some way to reuse or recycle it.

Third, if you have a garbage disposal, be sure to make sure it’s in working order before using it—especially if you haven’t used it in a while. There’s nothing worse than filling your sink with dinner scraps only to find that the garbage disposal doesn’t work.

Last, be sure to have your plumbing regularly inspected and maintained throughout the year. With yearly checks and careful use during the holidays, you can avoid these holiday plumbing problems and keep your plumbing free of stuffing (pun intended).

Stuffing in your drain? Don’t worry!

Though the holiday season may be the busiest time for plumbers, that doesn’t mean they don’t have time for you. While you may have to wait a little bit longer, most plumbers work hard to prepare for the increase in calls.

No matter when you’re having problems, our emergency plumbers are here to help! Call Christianson Plumbing and Air Conditioning today at 512-246-5400 to schedule an appointment.

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