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What is the Strange Smell Coming from My Drains?

A plumbing system works with the aid of traps beneath each of your fixtures. These traps keep a small amount of water in a joint at all times that blocks sewer gas from reentering your home. Because waste water is filled with waste and sediment, it naturally has this odor. However, you don’t want it in your home, so it’s vital to keep those sink traps well maintained at all times.

If a smell starts to permeate your bathroom or kitchen, the likely culprit is evaporation of the water barrier in your trap. While this is uncommon in most homes, it can happen if you don’t use a particular drain often, such as in a guest bathroom or when you’ve been out of town for an extended period of time.

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I Just Noticed a Spike in My Water Bill? What Should I Do?

A sudden spike in your water bill is a common symptom that there is a problem somewhere in your home’s plumbing. Many people assume that a leak will cause three feet of standing water in their basement, but sometimes the leak occurs outside or in the drywall, where you can’t necessarily see it. The damage is the same as if the water was pouring out from under your sink, but it remains hidden. A high water bill is a good sign that you have a leak somewhere and it’s time to call a plumber.

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What Happened to My Water Pressure?

One of the most common complaints related to home plumbing is low water pressure. Normally, a slow but steady decrease in water pressure is due to a long term issue like bad piping or a buildup of sediment, but if you notice your water pressure dropping off suddenly, the issue could be something else entirely.

The first thing you should do is check the shutoff valve to make sure it is on and then check any incoming water lines or hoses for kinks that might slow the flow of water. Old pipes might have high mineral deposits as well – an easy fix for a skilled plumber.

To the extent you can on your own, check each fixture in your home to see what is affected by the low water pressure and try to determine the source of your problem. If you find nothing, call a plumber and provide what information you did gather. They can quickly check and find the issue once they visit your home.

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My Hot Water Isn’t Working – Help!

Hot water is a necessity in any modern home, but it can be fickle – slowing down, decreasing or stopping without notice. The most common problem associated with lower hot water supply is a blown heating element in your hot water tank. The type of hot water heater doesn’t matter here – it can happen in any system.

This is an easy fix, but if it doesn’t remedy the situation, your water heater may be getting old enough that it actually needs to be replaced. Either way, your plumber should be able to diagnose the problem quickly.

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What’s the Easiest Way to Lower My Water Bill?

Conservation and money saving are hot topics right now for many homeowners, so if you’re interested in learning how to cut back on your water use, there are a lot of things you can do. The easiest way is to install low flow fixtures and upgrades throughout your home. Aerators on sink faucets are a great first step, as well as a low flow shower head. A lower GPF toilet is another fantastic upgrade. Upgrading your hot water supply can also help to reduce wasted water, as newer tankless systems don’t require a standing supply of hot water at all times like traditional tank-style systems.

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What Should I Do if My Sewer Line Backs Up?

If a sewer line on your property backs up, you are likely the one who needs to call to have it repaired. It will ultimately depend on where the backup occurs, what your municipal guidelines are, and what caused the problem. However, most of the time, if it occurs on your property before it reaches the city main lines, it’s your responsibility.

In this case, you should call someone in your area that can provide expert care and service for your sewer line. There isn’t anything you can personally do, especially if the backup is in the main sewer line, so get a professional in to check it out as soon as possible.

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How Do I Prevent Drain Blockages?

The easiest way to make sure your sewer line never gets blocked is to have a professional come out and perform annual maintenance. Even when being extremely careful about what goes down a drain in your house, it’s impossible to know how much waste will back up or get clogged on its way to the main sewer lines. An inspection and annual flush removes that excess waste and ensures your line remains consistently clear.

If you’re considering using chemicals advertised on television for clog removal or prevention, you need to take in to account the impact they have on the environment and the pipes. Many chemicals are abrasive by their nature and corrode the pipe over time. While not an issue right now, it will slowly break down the line, possibly creating leaks. And with such a strong environmental impact, it is highly discouraged.

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What about Video Inspection?

Video inspection services are an advanced way to pinpoint and diagnose problems in your drainage system. While not necessarily used during routine inspections, video tools allow a professional to dig deep into your drainage system and check for obstructions, possible wear in the pipe walls, and any roots that are growing into or near your pipes. If you suspect a problem in your line or you recently moved into a new home and want to start with a clean slate, a video inspection is a great option.

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How Much Digging is Involved in a Repair?

In the past, the only option a plumber had when a block or leak occurred was to dig up the property around the sewer line and repair it directly. However today, it is possible to use video inspection technology to directly pinpoint the problem and dig only where necessary. In some cases, repairs can be made without any digging at all, especially if the pipe integrity is still intact. The only way to be sure is to call a professional for an inspection of the pipe.

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Is There Anything I Shouldn’t Put Down the Drain?

Basically anything that doesn’t say “flushable” is not safe for flushing. Toilet paper is unique because it is designed to break down quickly in water. Most food waste, when broken down by a garbage disposal is also very soluble. However, other paper products like paper towels and tissues are designed to absorb water and stay intact. As a result, they quickly clog drains and do not flush well.

Some food products are equally dangerous to flush down your drain. If not properly broken down, anything that absorbs water, like potatoes or some vegetables, can clog the drain when combined with kitchen grease and other debris. In short, be smart about what goes down your drain and you’ll limit the risk of an actual leak.

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What is Hard Water?

Your water is considered hard when the mineral count is too high, including an excess of both calcium and magnesium ions. While hard water is not generally bad for your health, excessive hard water can have a negative impact on your pipes and fixtures and can cause discomfort when bathing or at extreme levels when drinking. Hard water also requires you to use more soap to clean your clothing or dishes and lime scale is more likely to develop on your tile.

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How Are Softening and Filtering Different?

Softening of water removes the excess minerals that build up in your water to make it softer. However, in doing so, the chemicals in the softening process usually create a greater sodium and salt level. The ion exchange used to remove minerals that have been dissolved in your hard water uses that sodium to create the exchange.

Water filtration, however, uses a bed of minerals to capture certain particles like iron or organic debris as they pass through. When the particles are captured, fresh water can pass through cleanly and leave behind the particle contaminants. More advanced forms of filtering include reverse osmosis which uses pressure and a semi-permeable barrier to pass fresh water from one module to the next, removing all impurities, including the sodium added during softening.

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What Type of Water Treatment System Do I Need?

Water softening and filtration are important to protect your pipes and your family’s drinking water. However the only way to know for sure what system you need in your home is to have your water tested. Regular water testing should be done to check for the water’s hardness, its pH balance, the general consistency of things like lead, iron, nitrates, arsenic, chlorine, and other chemicals and minerals that might build up over time in your pipes or water supply.

While there are home test kits for water testing, it is important to have an expert check the results before making any decisions. Only an expert water treatment technician can tell you what the numbers mean and whether your current water treatment system is sufficient to remove the particulates and chemicals that enter your water supply each day.

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How Much Maintenance is Required for My Treatment System?

A water softening system does require regular maintenance, as you must refill the salt and have the filters checked on your system from time to time. Most companies can provide this service for you, however, setting up times in advance to check the current status of your salt levels and adjust as necessary. Filtration systems generally need annual maintenance as well for similar reasons.

Beyond the filter changes and salt refills for your system, make sure you have your water tested at least once per year. Ideally, this can be done when you have your filters checked each year, and you can minimize the amount of money your maintenance visits cost.

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Do I Need a Reverse Osmosis Filter?

Reverse osmosis is a complicated process that removes the minerals and salts from your water with a high pressure, two chamber transfer of water through a semi-permeable filter. This type of system is used not only in homes, but in hospitals and restaurants where large volumes of pure, safe water are needed every day.

These systems are not only better than faucet and under-sink filters, but they are more efficient and will last much longer. Because they also remove things like nitrates and sodium from softening, they are recommended for systems with advanced cartridges or treatments systems that make your water cleaner but less safe to drink.

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Why Is Annual Air Conditioning Maintenance Important?

Having annual air conditioning maintenance performed on your system is extremely important for a number of reasons. First of all, it can help to ensure that your air conditioning system doesn’t lose efficiency as time goes by. A system that isn’t properly maintained can lose as much as 5% of its efficiency annually. But with a proper tune up, your air conditioning system may not even lose that much over the course of 10 years, saving you a good chunk of money along the way.

Also, during their annual visits, professional air conditioning technicians will be able to spot any problem areas or parts that seem to be wearing out too quickly. Attending to these types of issues before they actually manifest themselves in the form of performance problems can save you both time and money.

These minor repairs are much less costly than the larger ones that might be needed if the problem was allowed to persist. Also, because your annual maintenance is scheduled to fit nicely into your schedule, you won’t have to take off extra time from work or interrupt your busy schedule like you might if your air conditioning system needed emergency repairs unexpectedly.

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How Long Will My New Air Conditioning System Last?

In general, you can expect your new air conditioning system to last between 10 and 15 years. With proper maintenance, they can sometimes last even longer.

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How Do I Know if I Should Replace My Air Conditioning System?

There are several instances in which you may want to consider replacing your air conditioning system. For instance, if you’ve been calling for a lot of repairs recently, then there’s a good chance your system is on its last legs.

And even if it isn’t and the repairs are relatively minor, you could still probably save money by investing in a new system now rather than paying for repeated repairs. Plus, your new system will likely be so much more energy efficient than your old one, so you’ll save money there too.

However, you may also want to look into replacing your air conditioning system even if you haven’t been having problems with it. Particularly if your system is 10 years old or more, you can replace it with a newer air conditioning system that is so much more efficient and it will quickly pay for itself in terms of monthly energy savings.

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Will a Ductless Split or Mini-Split Air Conditioning System Work For Me?

Ductless split and mini-split air conditioning systems have many qualities that make them attractive to all types of consumers. Particularly if you don’t already have ductwork in place, these are the cheapest and easiest systems to install.

The indoor components of ductless splits can also be installed in multiple locations throughout your home so that you can control the temperatures in those areas individually. Split AC units are a good option for many people in many different types of houses, but you will benefit particularly from this type of installation if you have a smaller home or one that does not lend itself easily to the installation of ducts.

To determine if a ductless split system is the right choice for you, it’s best to discuss your needs and concerns with an expert. They can walk you through the selection process and explain to you exactly what the benefits would be of splits or mini-splits relative to other types of systems in terms of your specific situation.

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How Do I Know Which Air Conditioner Is the Right Size For My House?

Sizing an air conditioning system for your home can become a pretty complicated process. You need to know what type of space the air conditioner can cool as well as how many vents there will likely be and how the dimensions of the house will affect the overall cooling power of the system. Expert technicians use industry-recognized formulas to calculate exactly what type and size of air conditioning system you need.

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What Is an AFUE Rating?

The annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating that comes attached to just about every furnace on the market measures how energy efficient that particular model is. Modern furnaces typically have at least an 80% AFUE rating, with some even reaching into the high 90s.

Knowing how energy efficient a furnace is certainly is important when you’re trying to decide which one to buy, but you should also take into account the relative price of each model and how much you project that you will use the furnace.

The more energy efficient models tend to come with a higher price tag, and although you’ll pay slightly less on your monthly heating bills because of the added efficiency, it’s not always enough to make up the difference. Discussing your heating needs with a home heating professional is the best way to get an idea of what type of AFUE rating you’re looking for in a furnace.

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Why Doesn’t My Heat Pump Have an AFUE Rating?

Heat pumps operate by pulling heat out of the outdoor air in the winter to bring into your home and removing heat from indoor air in the summer. Some of them do also heat air like furnaces, but because they operate on different principles, their energy efficiency is measured differently. The heating energy efficiency of a heat pump will be reflected by its HSPF number, and just as with an AFUE rating, the higher the number, the more efficient the model.

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Is an Electric Furnace Safer than a Gas Furnace?

Modern furnaces, no matter what they’re powered by, are generally quite safe and energy efficient. There are advantages and disadvantages to both gas and electric furnaces, but safety is almost exactly the same between the two types of systems.

Technically the presence of gas fuel may pose a very small safety risk, but because of the way modern gas furnaces are designed, that risk is almost nonexistent. Particularly if you keep your furnace well maintained, your gas or electric furnace will continue to work efficiently and safely for many years.

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How Long Will My New Heating System Last?

While the life span of a home heating system can vary from one model and type to another, you can generally expect a new system to last from 10 to 15 years. Some types do last longer and with proper maintenance service, many home heating systems can outlast their projected lifespan.

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How Do I Know Which Type of Home Heating System to Choose?

There are a lot of factors that will help to determine which type of home heating system is best for you and your family. Because the sheer volume of data you need to sort through in order to make a good decision can be pretty overwhelming, it’s wise to have an expert help you through the process.

Heating technicians can come out to examine the particulars of your home and determine how powerful of a home heating system you need. They can also offer some expert advice on which type of system will be the most appropriate given the dimensions and location of your home and your family’s specific heating needs.

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How do I Choose an Indoor Air Quality System?

There are many types of indoor air quality systems out there and finding the one that’s right for you can be a complicated process. A big part of it, however, is determining what types of indoor air contaminants you’re most concerned with targeting. That’s because some indoor air cleaners and purifiers are better at trapping and removing larger particulate contaminants, while others are more effective with smaller particles.

The specifics of your home dimensions and layout and the type of home heating and cooling system you have in place will also play a major role in determining what type of indoor air cleaner or purifier is right for you. You’ll need one that’s large enough to handle the volume of air moving through your house each day, but you don’t want to spend too much if you don’t have to of course.

This can be a lot of information to sort through on your own, and that’s why it can be very helpful to get a professional opinion when it comes to selecting the right indoor air cleaner or purification system. Experienced technicians can answer any and all questions you may have on the topic and can go over the specifics of your situation with you so that you wind up with the best possible product for your needs.

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What Is a HEPA Filter?

A high efficiency particulate air, or HEPA, filter is a device designed to remove airborne particles from any air that passes through them. They’re the most common type of indoor air filters on the market today, thanks in large part to the fact that they can be up to 99.97% effective at removing particles that measure 0.3 microns or larger.

HEPA filters are usually made of fiberglass fibers that trap airborne particles through interception, impaction or diffusion. This combination of particle trapping techniques is what makes HEPA filters so effective at removing all manner of airborne contaminants.

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Do I Need UV Germicidal Lights?

UV germicidal lights add a great deal to any type of indoor air purification or cleaning system. While indoor air filters and ionizers can quite capably remove particulate contaminants, they are not as effective at eliminating the bacteria and viruses that float around in your household air as well.

And that’s where UV germicidal lights come in. If you really want to do a complete job and remove all types of indoor air contaminants, then adding UV germicidal lights to your existing indoor air quality system is a great step to take.

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How Do I Know if I Have an Indoor Air Quality Problem?

It can sometimes be difficult to tell if you have an indoor air quality problem. One of the first things you should do, though, is to get a carbon monoxide detector. This will alert you to the presence of this odorless yet harmful gas.

You should also pay attention to any allergy or breathing-related symptoms that you or your family may have been experiencing recently. There are many possible causes for these types of symptoms, but poor indoor air quality is certainly one of them. It may even be worth talking to your doctor to find out if they think an indoor air quality problem in your home is causing these symptoms in members of your family.

You should also keep an eye out for mold, which is a leading contributor to indoor air pollution. And make sure that the vents in your kitchen and bathroom are working effectively. You may also want to have someone come out and take a look to see if there are any leaks or cracks in your home ventilation system or your duct work.

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