Jerry's Corner Blog | Williams Home Maintenance

How Often Should You Clean Your Air Ducts?

Air duct cleaning is something that not many homeowners concern themselves with. Even though there is no scientific evidence to prove that air duct cleaning has an important benefit, it is agreed that there are good parts to having it performed regularly. Here’s how to tell if the ducts in your house are due for a proper cleaning.

One of the most obvious signs of overdue cleaning is mold. Even if you can’t see it, you can usually smell it or feel it in the air. If your ducts are full of mold, you need to get them cleaned as soon as possible because it’s hazardous for your health! Another major sign is seeing a vermin infestation in your home, coming from or to your air ducts. Don’t let it spread any further because it will get more complicated to get rid of as time passes! Finally, seeing dust being released from supply registers whenever cold air is released from the vents is your cue to set an appointment for air duct cleaning.

As mentioned above, there are several benefits to having air duct cleaning done regularly. Some of the most notable ones, found by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, are:

• Cleaner air ducts lead to a reduced number of microorganisms such as mold or bacteria.
• The dust being formed in return-air ducts is reduced by a proper cleaning.

These may seem like minor benefits, but after living in a home full of mold for five years, I can tell you that this is the last thing you want happening to you! Having bacteria spread all over your home is hazardous for your health, and there’s no reason to let this happen when all it takes to prevent it is a proper air duct cleaning.

If you’re wondering how often you need to have the air ducts cleaned, then here’s some advice to help you make a decision:

• Generally, somewhere between three to five years is recommended. There’s no need to listen to contractors who recommend doing it more. It’s not needed more often than that.
• If anyone in your family suffers from allergies, then air duct cleaning is especially important because allergic people are much more sensitive to the bacteria being spread from poorly cleaned ducts.
• After building, or moving into, a new home. You may have dust or other materials left in the ducts after finishing the construction, or you may not know if the previous owner had the ducts cleaned, if moving in. In both cases, a proper cleaning is essential.
• If you have pets that shed, then you definitely need to get the ducts cleaned regularly. The hair left by pets gets into the ducts and from there, it spreads throughout your entire home. That’s not something you want happening too often!
The three to five year period is an estimate that should be right on if you don’t face any of the things mentioned above. If you have an allergic family member or a pet that sheds, you probably need to decrease the wait from three years to one.

No matter how often you decide to do it, make sure to hire a professional for your air duct cleaning. It’s important to have it cleaned properly, so look for the best! We recommend using members of the National Air Duct Cleaners Association because they know what they’re doing!


Benefits of an HVAC Maintenance Plan vs. a Home Warranty

As a homeowner, you need to be aware of the potential for HVAC problems. The two major ways to prepare for heating and/or air conditioner problems is through either an HVAC maintenance plan or a home warranty plan. The goal of a home warranty plan is to assist the homeowner with problems relating to repairs to the home. The plan may have a deductible which needs to be paid before the work is done or even started. A maintenance plan has several aspects which are more beneficial to the homeowner than the standard home warranty plan.

First, the HVAC maintenance plan is through a company that you most likely already have a relationship with. Therefore, you trust the company. Even if you do not have an existing relationship with the HVAC company, they are looking to provide you with excellent service so the can build a long-term relationship. When shopping for a maintenance plan, you can research available HVAC companies and choose the one that you wish to work with. With a home warranty plan, typically you are not permitted to select the actual service provider. And that service provider knows exactly what the warranty will cover and may strongly suggest that you need additional services which are not covered.

In the event your air conditioner unexpectedly stops working in the heat of the summer, a maintenance plan generally provides for priority or same-day service. And in the middle of a hot and humid summer day, you don’t want to wait any longer than is absolutely necessary. With a warranty company, there is never a guarantee that you will receive prompt service.

The best way to prevent major air conditioning or heating system problems is to maintain your unit and have it inspected regularly to detect potential problems early. Most HVAC companies include regular inspections and cleanings in their HVAC maintenance plans. This is typically not offered through a warranty plan, even though they may reject your claim in the HVAC unit is not adequately maintained. So, you will still need to engage a local company for these inspections. An additional benefit to these regular inspections is an HVAC unit which is running in peak condition can save you on utility bills. In addition, most HVAC maintenance plans provide for some discount on repairs and/or replacements should the need arise.

For peace of mind, your best option to handle possible heating and air conditioning issues would be to obtain an HVAC system maintenance plan from a reliable and reputable HVAC company.


Home Heater or Furnace Not Working?

Is there anything worse than coming back home from work to find your house a frozen wasteland,? How about waking up in the middle of the night with your toes numb and your nose stuffy? If you’re home heater or furnace is on fritz, don’t panic; here are a few easy steps you can take to get back to a comfortable home and a nice warm bed. While going through the troubleshooting process, carefully write down the steps you take and their results.

Troubleshooting your thermostat:

This might seem like a no-brainer, but it is important to make sure your thermostat is in the heat position. When you turn the switch to heat, do you hear that satisfying click? Does your thermostat control your heating system and air conditioning? Is your thermostat set to a few degrees above room temperature? Your heating system will not activate without being set to at least three degrees above ambient temperature. If you have an electronic thermostat, do you have display? Are you sure the electronic thermostat’s batteries are charged? Once you have made certain that your thermostat is operational and set correctly, and you are still without heat, it’s time to check the electrical system.

Troubleshooting the electrical system:

Because some homes have a different electrical panel for the furnace.and the rest of the home, it is important to find the appropriate electrical panel in your home before following the following steps. Once you have found the electrical panel, check to see if any of the breakers are tripped. If you’re unsure about what a tripped breaker looks like, the breaker will be caught between the on and the off position. Try resetting the breaker by turning it to the off, and then to the on position. Do you have fuses? Is the furnace fuse blown? Replace the blown fuse; make sure that it is of the same size and type. Does your heating system have an emergency shut-off switch? If so, it should be located near the furnace and you should make certain that it is in the on position.

Troubleshooting the furnace service light:

Find your home’s furnace service panel; there should be a label on the furnace panel door with instructions on what how to proceed depending on the furnace service light’s behavior. Does the light blink? Slow or fast? is the light on without blinking? Is there no light at all? Your light may be flashing you a code, and you should follow the instructions on the label.

Should all of the above instructions fail, we advise you to enlist the services of a qualified HVAC technician for a heating tuneup. Don’t worry, your hard work may still pay off. When you call the technician, tell the technician what troubleshooting steps you took and what measures you tried. This will help the technician make a more accurate diagnoses of your heating system, which means potentially less expensive furnace repair.


Top 6 Drain Cleaning Tips

Unavoidably, all plumbing systems develop blockages. Without the proper knowledge, cleaning your clogged drain can be an exasperating albeit costly experience. However, with the right tools and a little perseverance you can successfully clean your drain without the aid of a professional. These helpful drain cleaning tips will equip you with the know-how to clean and prevent virtually any blockage.

1. Plunger
One of the most trusted household tools—the plunger can generally clear any clog that hasn’t made its way too deep into the main drain. Block the opening and powerfully push the handle down. After several forceful plunges, test the drain to see if the clog has been removed. If water is still sluggishly pooling, try plunging again.

2. Professional Drain Cleaner
You can find drain cleaner solution at mostly any grocery or home improvement store. Be sure to read the label carefully before purchasing. If used wrong, you could cause permanent damage to plastic pipes or garbage disposals. While effective, it is important to remember overtime, harsh chemicals can be damaging.

3. Vinegar and Baking Soda
Never underestimate the power of baking soda and vinegar. These two household regulars are an excellent alternative to harsh chemicals. Start by pouring half a cup of baking soda down your drain followed by half a cup of vinegar. Next, pour boiling water down to create a natural drain cleaner that will dissolve the blockage without fear of damage.

4. Brine Solution
Much like the vinegar and baking soda, a brine solution is another safe alternative to cleaning your drain. A high concentrate salt solution (usually sodium chloride) can be poured down the drain to eliminate odor and clear buildup.

5. Snake
Also known as a toilet Jack or electric ell, a snake can be bought or rented from your local hardware store. The snake works by using the crank to thread the long coil down the drain. The auger end of the wire digs into the blockage, either allowing retrieval of the clogged item or breaking it up.

6. Call a Professional
While these techniques will ordinarily dislodge any clog, it is important to remember that excessive force can cause permanent damage. If after a few attempts the drain is still clogged, it is time to turn it over to a licensed professional.


5 Reasons to Get Your Air Ducts Cleaned

Regular cleaning of the air ducts in your home can help with different factors of your HVAC system. The indoor air quality, air circulation, energy costs, system performance, and even health issues can be affected by the cleaning of the air ducts. It is recommended that you clean your air ducts when mold, excessive debris, or pests are cluttering your system.

The Air Quality of Your Home

The air quality in your home can be made better by a thorough air duct cleaning. By getting having a clean pathway for the air to circulate, it will not be able to pick up the excess debris that was there before. If you have lots of cats, dogs,
and kids, you may need to give it a good cleaning even more often to clear out the things that are left behind.

Increased Air Circulation

Increasing the circulation of your system is another good reason to have your air ducts cleaned. As circulation decreases, the performance of your system will be affected. In addition to cleaning the air ducts, changing the filters regularly will help improve circulation as well.

Cheaper A Energy Costs

A dirty heating and cooling system will have to work harder causing it to have a shorter life. In addition, a regularly serviced heating and cooling system can cut energy costs by up to 40%. In the long run having your system serviced will save you money on energy bills and the costs of replacing a system.

Increased System Performance

An increase in performance can be seen when a system that needs cleaned gets it done properly. If your system is not meeting your expectations and you think it should be doing better, have a qualified professional check if possibly a good cleaning is just what your system needs. There could be many other reasons for the system to be not running up to par that a certified technician can diagnose.

Health Benefits

Individuals who suffer from allergies, asthma, and other respiratory ailments will also benefit from an air duct cleaning. Some health problems can even be linked to the pollution in the air of your home. Dust, dirt, and cigarette smoke are all pollutants commonly found in homes that directly affect thousands of people’s health issues.

Remember to get your air ducts cleaned every once in awhile to help with the quality of the air in your home, increased circulation, cheaper energy costs, increased overall performance, and possible health benefits for you and your family.


Does Changing a Thermostat Make a Difference in Your Home?

For many homeowners, they have been perfectly happy with their homes non-digital thermostat for decades. This leads them to become perplexed when it is suggested to them that they should upgrade to a new digital thermostat, even if they are not having their heating and air-conditioning replaced. Believe it or not, new digital thermostats are worth the upgrade, as they save home owners hundreds of dollars each year on their energy bills. This article will help to shed light on the benefits of a digital thermostat, and show how an upgrade in your homes thermostat could save you money.

The main reason that digital thermostats save homeowners money is simply due to accuracy. Digital thermostats possess precision technology that traditional thermostats cannot compete with. This means that it knows exactly what temperature it is inside your house, and is able to raise or lower the temperature in your home to the exact degree you want it. Non-digital thermostats do not possess this accurate of heating and cooling abilities, thus they can cause your system to over work, and cool or heat you home to a temperature you did not want. This overuse of energy can cause huge fluctuations in your energy bills that would not occur if you had a digital thermostat.

Another reason that digital thermostats are able to save homeowners so much money is that they are programmable. This means that you can set them to heat or cool your home to specific temperatures for different times of the day; you can also set different schedules for different days of the week, and different times of the year. Traditional thermostats do not provide homeowners this freedom, as they must be adjusted manually. With digital thermostats, you can set your system to only come on during the hours in which you are going to be home. You can even program it to turn on prior to when you will be home, so your home will have cooled/heated to a comfortable temperature by the time you get home. Programming your system in this way can save homeowners an average of ten percent on their heating and cooling bills each year.

Whether or not you are in the market for a new heating/cooling system in your home, if you still have a traditional thermostat, it would be highly beneficial for you to upgrade to a digital thermostat. Due to the precise nature in which they function, a digital thermostat will save you hundreds of dollars on your energy bills each year.


Benefits of Regular HVAC Maintenance

Those who want to keep their HVAC system working well know that it needs to be maintained. These systems cost people a lot of money over time, and being sure that they are functionally correctly is important. There are HVAC maintanence professionals available who will happy to help homeowners get the most of their HVAC systems. These are some of the benefits of regularly having these systems looked at by professional.

The main benefit at having regular HVAC maintenance is that it can save homeowners a lot of money. Over time, things can happen within the heating and cooling systems which can prevent them from working efficiently. Having these fixed regularly can help people to keep their bills down year round. All of the little problems that occur throughout time can cause the system to work less efficiently, but these are easily fixed by professionals. Also, it can help people to avoid the cost of having to have a system immediately repaired because it has stopped working. It also saves homeowners the hassle of getting stuck without air conditioning or heat because something has stopped working.

Another important benefit to having these systems regularly maintained is that it can make the home safer. Sometimes, if there is problem within the heating or cooling system, carbon monoxide could be released. That is extremely dangerous, so being sure that the HVAC system is functioning correctly can help keep all of the people living in the home safe. Other issues could be problems with the heating system that could potentially cause a fire. Don’t let a family be in danger, simply have a professional look at these systems before there is a problem.

Another great benefit of regular HVAC maintenance is that the heating and cooling systems will last longer. As those little problems that occur throughout time add up, it can take a toll on the systems. Having them fixed on a regular basis can keep serious problems from occurring. It can save homeowners a lot of money in having to have an entire heating or cooling system replaced. That is very expensive, and it could be entirely avoided if people have professionals check on their systems regularly.


Is Air Duct Cleaning Worth it?

The basic rule of thumb for homeowners is that if the air ducts look dirty, then they most likely need to be cleaned (air duct cleaning). There are a host of problems that can occur is air ducts are not kept clean. This includes the accumulation of dust that is directly related to the air quality in a home. There is also energy waste that occurs when air ducts are dirty.

Family members who appear to have allergies or other types of respiratory problems often indicates an issue with air quality. The air quality in a home is directly related to the air coming from the ducts used for the air conditioner and furnace. One reason for ducts being dirty is typically the filter in the furnace or air conditioner. The filter needs to be changed every other month to prevent dirty air from being sent throughout the home. Dirty filters also make the air conditioner and furnace in a home work harder.

Cleaning of air ducts in a home helps to improve the air quality in a home. One way to determine if the ducts in your home need to be cleaned is to remove the register cover or colder air return cover. If there is a build up of lint or an accumulation of dirt, then the whole duct system should be cleaned. Cleaning the ducts also improves the efficiency of the furnace and air conditioner. Dirty ducts in a home make the air conditioner and furnace run harder. This will use more energy and increase utility bills.

The EPA suggests that cleaning of air ducts be done on an “as-needed” basis. This means that a regular cleaning is not always necessary. However, regular cleaning will not have any negative effects with an air conditioning system or furnace in a home. One way to see if cleaning is necessary is to have the air ducts in your home inspected once each year or every other year to see if they are dirty.

One of the biggest benefits of having air ducts cleaned is the increase in efficiency that is gained. If the air ducts in the home are kept clean, then less energy is being used to keep a home heated or cooled. This results in reduced energy use and a lower utility bill. Many homeowners will welcome lower utility bills that result by simply having all the air ducts in their home routinely cleaned.


8 Questions to Ask an HVAC Contractor

Before hiring an HVAC contractor, it is important to know what questions to ask them in order to get the best contractor. People who do not know the right questions to ask are subject to hiring any contractor who comes along, which can be damaging. It can cost people more money in the long-term.

Here are 8 questions to help you find the best contractor for the job:

Do you have a NATE certification?

In the majority of states, a license is required to be a contractor. This ensures that quality is first and foremost, and it shows you that a contractor was willing to go the extra mile to get their license.

Do you have insurance?

If anything goes wrong, then you are covered if they have insurance. Whether something goes wrong with one of the things in your home or with the contractor. Be sure that their insurance comes with worker’s compensation and liability insurance.

What do you do to determine my HVAC size?

Most people go wrong here and get an HVAC that is too big. This will cost more money and be less energy efficient in the long-term. A reputable company is going to use the Manual J load analysis when they install a new system. Also a good contractor is going to ask if you have any heating and cooling issues. This ensures there are no problems later.

What are your most energy efficient offers?

Good contractors will keep up with the latest energy efficient demands because it is becoming more in demand. Energy efficiency might cost more money, but in the long-term it will cost less.

Do you offer a warranty?

You always want guarantees on equipment because if anything goes wrong, then you are covered. Do not assume it is guaranteed by their word. Get the guarantee in writing.

Do I need to do any maintenance?

Before the contractor leaves, make sure you are shown how to properly maintain your newly installed equipment.

Will someone inspect the system?

Quality contractors have made it a standard practice to come back and inspect their work. Usually 30 days after the installment.

Can you give me a bid and references?

A contractor that is worth what they say will bid. They will also be willing to give references because they are confident in their past work.

These are eight questions that help you to hire the highest quality contractor. It is essential to ask questions and interview multiple contractors because that helps you to hire the best person for your project.


Simple Repairs to Make Your Toilet More Efficient

Your toilet is one of the most important tools in your home. However, after a lot of us, it may no be at its best. Many people find that their toilets start to leak, overflow, or even not flush. All of these are problems caused by parts in the toilet that can either be repaired or may need to be replaced. Luckily, there are simple repairs you can do to your toilet that will make it much more efficient. Fixing these issues right away will save you money and keep you from having to buy a brand new toilet. Check out these simple repairs and try them on your own:

1. If you have high water bills:

Unusually high water bills may mean something is up with your toilet. To test it, use food coloring and see if there are any leaks. Put in a few drops and wait around 15 minutes. If the food coloring is in the toilet bowel, there is a leak or bad flush valve. Because of this, the toilet flushes by itself.

To fix this problem, you’ll need to turn off the water supply to the toilet. Then, look for the water line at the back of the toilet. There, you should find a handle that turns off the water supply. Remove the flapper and replace it with a new one.

2. If you have an overflowing toilet, or simply one that has issue flushing when needed:

The cause behind this common issue may be that the water level in the tank is not at the proper point. However, fixing this issue can be done by anyone. The water in your tank should be at about average height, not too low and not too high. If it is any of these, try turning the screw on the top of the fill valve which will add or reduce the amount of water in the toilet. Turn the screw until the water level is a half inch from the overflow pipe. This method is great for quick fixing of problems, however, it signifies that you need to replace fill valve soon.