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Your HVAC Maintenance Checklist

It’s critical to take care of HVAC maintenance before the cold season so that your home is prepared for chilly, sweater weather. The importance of prevention really can’t be emphasized enough. Ideally, this home maintenance should be done on a regular basis to cut back on the need for expensive HVAC repairs in the future. It’s also important for your comfort and health!

In this blog post we’re going to share with you some things you need to keep an eye on when it comes to HVAC maintenance, as well as how a specialist can help.

Essential HVAC Maintenance

Even if your heating and cooling systems seem to be working just fine, they may not be as efficient as they could be. A yearly tune-up will ensure that your heating and cooling systems are working at their optimal efficiency levels; this can help you save money on your monthly electric bill too. A professional HVAC tune-up will also identify any issues with things like airflow or faulty parts.

Is Your Heater Ready?

The first step to making sure your home is comfortable during the coming cold season is to make sure your heating system is running effectively. This, of course, requires routine HVAC maintenance, like making sure the blower motor is working right.

If you have a gas furnace, the exhaust flue needs to be checked to verify that it’s clear as well. This is because carbon monoxide is a serious threat to our homes, but an HVAC specialist can help keep your household safe. If the exhaust flue becomes blocked, carbon monoxide can build up inside your house.

What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a deadly gas that is colorless and odorless. It’s created by the burning of fuel, such as leaving a car idling in a garage. It’s so dangerous to breathe in CO because it actually displaces oxygen in your blood. This can cause both short-term and long-term health effects, and even result in death.

Replace Air Filters

Air filters are typically replaced every three months (90 days), or as recommended by the manufacturer. A dirty filter that’s full of trapped dust and allergens obviously won’t be as efficient, and can actually increase your monthly energy costs. It’s also not great for your health, so be sure to change air filters regularly to remove dust, pollen, pet dander, and other allergens from the air that circulates through your home.

Clean AC Condenser Coils

Do you have an air conditioner? Have your AC condenser coils cleaned at least once a year. Dirty, clogged coils can decrease the efficiency of your HVAC system and lead to expensive AC repair work. Also, be sure to remove debris around an outdoor air conditioning unit, such as grass clippings or leaves that accumulate during yardwork.

Flush Your Water Heater

How do you know if your water heat needs to be flushed? In general, it’s a good idea to have this done once a year by a professional who provides HVAC maintenance. This will help make sure there are no sediment blockages in hoses or fittings that can lead to frustrating issues. There are some common signs to watch out for, including a lack of hot water, strange smells, and even rusty-looking water.

Check Hoses for Cracks or Leaks

An HVAC expert will also check hoses for cracks or leaks. If they’re damaged, they will need to be replaced with hoses that match the original equipment and specifications. This is essential because it can help prevent extensive damage in the long run. An HVAC expert should check all hoses to ensure they’re in good working order.

Swap Out Old Thermostat Batteries

A simple thing you can do on your own is check the batteries in your thermostat to make sure they’re still working properly. It’s usually not too tricky to swap them out for a fresh pair if it’s needed. But if your thermostat is not working properly or is showing signs of wear and tear, replacing the batteries may not fix the problem. If it’s still not functioning properly even after new batteries have been installed, then a professional can check the controls.

Inspect for Leaks with Gas Furnaces

If you have a gas furnace, you will also need an expert to inspect the entire system for any possible gas leaks. As mentioned above, this is one of the most important steps you need to take as a homeowner to protect your household.

Check for Faulty Fans

Faulty fans can act up in different ways, like continuing to circulate air at high speeds. This can really cause unnecessary wear and tear on some HVAC parts. Humming or rattling are a strong indication that your AC fan motor needs to be replaced or repaired.

Examine Ductwork and Vents

This is also the best time to have ductwork and vents examined. These parts need to be in good shape for your HVAC system to function at its best. Did you know that dirty ducts can harm the air quality of your home? It pays to remove the buildup and grime that accumulates over time. It’s also possible for air ducts to leak if they become loose or disconnected. In some cases, wild animals have even been known to build nests inside ductwork, which can cause issues as well.

Schedule HVAC Maintenance Today

It’s important to be proactive when it comes to the HVAC maintenance in your home. Keep in mind that a problem is much easier and (usually) cheaper to fix before disaster strikes, so schedule an annual HVAC tune-up to make sure you’re getting the most out of your system!

These tasks will help keep your living space as comfortable as possible during both the cold winter months and the hottest summer days! Preventative measures can also save you the hassle of needing an emergency HVAC repair or replacement that could cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Let’s Talk

Here at Palo Alto Plumbing, our team can solve anything from a drippy faucet to a cracked sewer pipe, and also take care of all your HVAC needs. Our friendly and knowledgeable staff will ensure your household’s health and safety by providing quality services.

Contact us at 650-405-1460 or fill out a contact form to chat with us today.

The Dangers of a Sewer Leak

A sewer leak is one of the most dreaded household plumbing malfunctions. Though most modern homes have preventative measures already in place, pipes can degrade or get damaged over time, creating prime conditions for a leak. If you regularly experience household mold, strange odors, slow draining, extra foliage growth with no alternative explanation, or cracks in the foundation of your home, it’s time to call a plumber. You may be dealing with a sewer leak.

The unpleasant eau de excrement odor aside, a sewer leak can be quite dangerous to your health and your home alike. The consequences of neglecting a leak, aside from being unsanitary, can lead to some serious issues for your home and well-being. Read on below to learn more about some of the most common dangers of a sewer leak.

Poisonous Sewer Gas

When human waste breaks down, it forms a byproduct known as sewer gas. Sewer gas is composed of several chemicals, including ammonia, methane, carbon dioxide, and hydrogen sulfide. This smelly gas is often identified as smelling like rotten eggs – but is it toxic?

The answer is yes and no. In low concentrations, sewer gas is foul but not necessarily harmful. At higher concentrations, or if you are exposed for a long period of time, you may experience symptoms of sewer gas poisoning. Left unchecked, these symptoms can lead to serious health issues for household residents, including pets. This is why, if you suspect a leak, it’s crucial to call a plumber immediately.

Ammonia is a toxic chemical at high levels. Low to moderate exposure can cause eye, nose, and throat irritation. High levels of ammonia can cause death in humans.

Hydrogen sulfide is one of the main components of sewer gas. Research shows that hydrogen sulfide is toxic to the organ systems of the body – meaning that exposure can lead to organ damage and death.

While carbon dioxide and methane are not inherently harmful to humans, you do not want these gases hanging around in the air that you breathe. Methane alone is highly flammable. In combination with ammonia (which is also flammable), these gases are a serious fire hazard.

If you suspect sewer gas exposure, contact a medical professional and an emergency plumber immediately.

Contaminated Water

Old or damaged pipes can crack, rust, degrade, and eventually seep into nearby groundwater. This worst-case scenario can contaminate your water supply. What’s worse, if your neighborhood uses aquifers for groundwater, contamination can occur on a much larger scale. An entire neighborhood could suffer poisoning from one cracked line.

The health consequences of drinking water contaminated with sewage cannot be understated. Even healthy individuals may experience disabling gastrointestinal problems, stomach cramping, dehydration, developmental problems, reproductive problems, or death. Such consequences can be avoided by having your plumbing checked approximately every two years. It’s just not worth the risk of skipping essential maintenance.

Home Damage

Sewer leaks can cause the foundation of your home to crack as well. As water or sewage leaks pool in various areas of your home, it can cause the ground to shift. All of this erodes at your home’s foundation from the bottom up, which can cause cracks in the foundation and even buckle your patios or driveways.

Water damage is also a common side effect of a sewer leak. If your septic tank is located close to your home, or if the leak is severe enough, you may experience flooding and water damage to your house. Water alone can cause serious structural damage to a home, but the chemicals and hazardous byproducts from natural waste can make that damage much more severe. Drywall can give out, mold can form, and, ultimately, supports can even become unstable. A bad leak can leave a house almost uninhabitable if left alone for long enough.

Unwanted Critters

If you choose to neglect your leaking sewer, you may as well tape a sign to your window that declares “PESTS WELCOME.” Sewer leaks can attract a host of unwanted vermin. Rats, mice, squirrels, raccoons, possums, and chipmunks naturally search for hidden sources of water away from prying eyes. Drippy pipes are naturally enticing. If you provide a convenient water source in the form of a leak, expect to see (or hear) some crawly new friends.

That includes insects! Cockroaches, mosquitoes, ants, spiders, and termites are just a few of the insects that are commonly attracted to standing water and sewer leaks. These sneaky insects often build whole colonies before they’re ever noticed. Maintaining your pipes is an easy way to prevent such animals and insects from invading your home.

Increasing Water Bill

If your water bill has been steadily increasing and your house smells funny, you may be paying for a sewer leak. All of that water not only damages your home, but it can put a serious dent in your wallet too. A moderate water leak can cause you to waste 6,000 gallons of water per month. That’s an incredible waste of water and money.

And remember – all of that leaking water is seeping into the foundation of your home, creating the prime conditions for mold and mildew.

These serious dangers are not something to put off. Neglecting your leaking sewer can cause damage to your home and your health. The best way to avoid these problems is to solve them before they arrive by way of prevention. You should never attempt to fix a serious plumbing problem on your own. It could be a real safety hazard and you may accidentally cause more damage. A licensed plumber will have the proper equipment and expertise to repair your sewer. Additionally, a licensed plumber should regularly inspect your home’s plumbing system at least every two years, and more often if problems arise.

When You Need a Plumber

Here at Palo Alto Plumbing, our licensed plumbers can solve anything between a drippy faucet and a cracked sewer pipe. Our detail-oriented and knowledgeable plumbers can ensure your household’s health and safety by providing quality services. Don’t let a fixable leak destroy your home. Contact us at 650-405-3052 or fill out a contact form on our website to chat with one of our representatives about all of your plumbing needs!

From Around the Web: X Excellent Infographics About Home Improvement

For many individuals, a home is one of the biggest investments they will make in their lifetime. That’s why it is so important for homeowners to understand their home improvement needs, including yearly maintenance and repair concerns.

We at Palo Alto Plumbing, Heating, and Air know how important it is for you to get the information you need to protect your home and keep it running smoothly and efficiently throughout the year. That’s why we’ve put together a list of informative infographics that help you better understand your home improvement needs.

Top Home Improvement Infographics

Whether you are a brand new homeowner or you’ve lived in your house for decades, it’s important to understand your home improvement needs. Use the infographics below to educate yourself on basic home improvement:

United States Census Bureau – Home Improvements

The U.S. Census Bureau gathers important data about the improvements that U.S. homeowners make to their homes. This infographic gives you more information about the top improvements that U.S. homeowners are making and how much they spend each year on home improvement. If you are planning your home improvement budget for the year, this infographic will give you a better idea of what most homeowners choose to focus on and how much you can expect to spend.

United States Census Bureau – Home Improvements

Home Improvements That Pay You Pack

Before investing in home improvement projects, it’s important that you consider your return on investment. Though any home improvement project may make your home a more comfortable environment, some projects are more worth your while because they tend to provide a higher resale value when you are ready to sell your home. This infographic gives a nice breakdown of the projects that will end up paying you back in the end.

Home Improvements That Pay You Pack

 

Drab to Fab: Home Improvements for Less than $1,000

Want to make some improvements to your home without breaking the bank? This infographic offers some awesome tips for affordable home improvement. It gives a simple breakdown of the costs for different improvements you can make in the kitchen, living room, bathroom, and bedroom. It also provides some general tips for saving more money on your home improvement projects. This is a great infographic for the budget-conscious homeowner.

Home Improvements for Less than $1,000

 

Want to find more great, informative content on home improvement topics? Each month, we update our blog with interesting posts on home improvement, HVAC, and energy efficiency topics.

 

4 Best DIY Accounts to Follow on Twitter

The DIY community is all about sharing their tips and tricks for tackling any project big or small. From how-to blogs to inspiring imagery, there is no short of great DIY content on the web. One of the best places to find informative and inspiring content on the latest DIY trends and fun projects is on Twitter. Though there are many DIY-focused Twitter accounts, there are a few that we follow regularly for new ideas, helpful information, and fun inspiration.

Best DIY Twitter Accounts

Whether you’re looking for a how-to video for crafting, a blog post with home improvement tips, or just home design inspiration, you can find it all on Twitter. Here are just a few of our favorite DIY Twitter accounts:

DIY Inspired

@DIYInspired

This Twitter account is brought to you by DIY and craft blogger, Dinah, from www.diyinspired.com. On this Twitter account, she shares links to her blog content which offers tips, tricks, and advice on DIY craft projects. She also shares links to inspiring Pinterest boards as well as helpful DIY craft how-to videos. If you love to get crafty and you are always looking for new ways to improve your home décor, this is a great Twitter account to follow.

DIY Network

@DIYNetwork

The DIY Network is known as the home improvement how-to network, and that’s exactly what it provides – information on how to do just about anything around your home. Their Twitter account offers updates and behind the scenes looks at all your favorite DIY Network programming like Tiny House, Big Living and Building Off the Grid. The social media account also offers links to informative content about how to tackle DIY projects around your home.

Lifehacker

@lifehacker

Lifehacker is a different type of DIY resource than the rest. This Twitter account shares fun and informative articles on all the best tips, hacks, and how-to’s for your home and general daily living. This site covers everything from simple tricks that make using a digital scale easier to answers to life’s biggest questions, like, should I exercise on an empty stomach? This diverse resource is great for those who like learning neat little tips and tricks for making life easier. Just beware of any HVAC hacks!

This Old House

@ThisOldHouse

This Old House provides a wealth of informative content on home improvement, home repair, renovations, and other DIY projects. The Twitter feed is full of great content on everything from how to grow your own garden to affordable upgrades for your home. This is a must-follow account for anyone who is a fan of This Old House programming, or any homeowner who likes to learn more about how they can make affordable and lasting improvements to their own homes.

If you use social media to keep up with the latest in home improvement, be sure to follow us on Facebook. We post regular content on home improvement and HVAC topics, as well as company updates and recent promotions to help you save on all of your Palo Alto heating and air conditioning needs.

What the Best Home Improvement Pros Do (And You Should Too)

What the Best Home Improvement Pros Do (And You Should Too)

Whether you just bought your first home or you’ve been enjoying your home for many years, one thing that never changes is that fact that you need to work to maintain your home. While some Palo Alto homeowners may hire experts to take on home improvement projects, others take these projects on by themselves to save a little money and make their home their own. Below, we offer some tips from the home improvement experts that can help you make your next home improvement project a success.

Pro Home Improvement Tips

If you’re ready to kick your home improvement projects up a notch, use this list of pro home improvement tips before you start your next project:

  1. Choose the improvements that add the most value to your home.

There’s a good chance that there are a variety of projects that you could take on around your house to improve the look and feel of your home environment. However, most of us just don’t have the time or resources to invest into every home improvement project that we’d like to take on. If you ask a pro, they’ll tell you that the projects worth taking on are those that will add the most value to your home. For example, adding a wood deck provides a higher return on investment than other remodels or additions, so this is a good project to prioritize.

  1. Get the right tools.

Once you’ve decided to take on any home improvement project big or small, it’s vital that you have the right tools on hand to complete the job successfully. Make sure that your home toolbox has the essential repair tools to take on any simple project. Universal toolboxes include basic tools like a screwdriver set, pliers, an adjustable wrench, claw hammer, and tape measure. For more information, check out this article from Lifehacker, which gives you the low down on how to properly stock your toolkit.

  1. If you can’t handle the project yourself, find a good contractor.

It’s important to recognize whether or not you have the knowledge and skillset to take on certain home improvement projects. Not only can working on a project that’s out of your league be dangerous, but it can also end up costing you even more in the long run as a professional will have to come in and fix the mess anyway. For any projects that you have decided you are not able to do-it-yourself, be sure to find a qualified, experienced, and licensed contractor to complete the job. Again, it may require a significant investment to hire a seasoned pro, but if you settle for a bargain contractor, you may end up having to pay even more down the line to correct the mistakes.

Do you like learning about home improvement? Check back on our blog each month for new content on HVAC, home maintenance, energy efficiency, and other helpful topics for Palo Alto homeowners. Be sure to follow us on Facebook so that you never miss an update from Palo Alto Plumbing Heating & Air.