This article was originally published April 8, 2013.
Almost every homeowner or renter has a few essential tools on hand to cope with minor plumbing emergencies. Many times, a clogged toilet or slow drain may only need a little elbow grease and a plunger to work as intended. If you’re handy around the house, you can generally tackle a small repair such as changing out a worn washer or replacing a drain cover. However, bigger plumbing repair jobs need professional attention. Trying to repair some common issues such as slow drains or leaking toilets could lead to bigger problems later.
You may not be ready to turn down your thermostat as you settle into autumn, but it’s more important than ever to keep up with HVAC maintenance. Here are some key steps for getting ready for those rare chilly nights in southwestern Florida, even as you prepare for next summer’s heat.
During our dry season, you may not find much use for your heating system. Still, you should have a technician tune up your furnace in the fall, checking that all exhaust vents outside and that wiring poses no fire hazards. To prevent future repairs and lower operating costs, have them also clean fans and burners, check for fuel leaks, ensure drains are emptying and lubricate moving parts.
There are many ways to avoid common air conditioning problems and ensure your system will function properly in the spring.
- Change the filters every other month to improve efficiency. For window units, simply wash and dry the filter.
- Hose off dirt or debris from outdoor units after disconnecting the power. In addition, use a nylon brush and garden hose to clean A/C coils. Clean window units in both spring and fall.
- Find and remove any blocks to airflow around your outdoor unit, including plantings or fencing closer than 12 to 15 inches away.
- Drain water hoses. Close the valve, shutting water off after hoses and pipes have emptied.
- Cover outdoor units without fully enclosing them, as that increases the potential for moisture, rust and mold. Window units should be covered or removed and stored in a dry location.
- Set your thermostat slightly higher when you’re out of the house and lower when at home. This lowers energy use and is easier on the system. Turn off window units when you’re not home.
The best HVAC maintenance for keeping your heating and cooling system in good shape is to have a professional contractor provide an annual tuneup.
For help maintaining your HVAC system in and around Sarasota and Bradenton, contact Aqua Plumbing & Air today.
Written by John Miller
Savvy Sarasota and Bradenton area homeowners understand that proper HVAC maintenance reduces energy costs, but may be unfamiliar with performing routine plumbing maintenance.
The following checklist may assist you.
Find potential expensive toilet repairs as follows::
- Flush toilets and listen for “running” afterward.
- Inspect tank parts for damage.
- Add a small amount of red food coloring to the tank, and then check the bowl’s water later. If it has changed colors, water is seeping from the tank.
- Gently “rock” and note any shifting.
Leak damage is often preventable using this method:
- Turn off automatic sprinklers and check your water meter immediately before leaving for a day. Check again when you return home in the evening to see if the gauge moved.
- Examine faucets for leakage around valves or handles.
- Inspect areas around or under sinks, showers, bathtubs, toilets, washing machines, dishwashers or other “wet” areas for signs of moisture or loosening caulk. Mildew typically indicates areas where standing water has dried.
- Examine ceilings for watermarks, and then inspect showers, sink areas and other tiled areas for damaged, loose or hollow-sounding tiles.
- Check pipe locations for puddles or watermarks indicating current leaks. Look for green stains near copper and brass fittings, which indicate corrosion and could precipitate future leakage.
- Check washing machine hoses for cracks or other signs of wear. Consider using braided stainless replacement hoses instead.
- Test every drain. Slow drainage signifies a blocked vent pipe or clogging; gurgling could indicate venting problems. Bubbles or incomplete swirling require further investigation. Consider installing strainers to prevent clogs.
- Low water pressure can indicate water line problems. Low pressure in specific areas only may indicate sediment buildup.
To address areas where sediment buildup commonly occurs, follow these steps:
- Remove buildup in showerheads and aerators using commercially available cleaners, or soak the fixtures in vinegar overnight.
- Drain several gallons from your water heater at least once per year to “flush” it and prevent buildup.
If you need further assistance with plumbing maintenance needs, contact us. Aqua Plumbing & Air Quality Service has been the area’s most trusted name since 1974.
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For more than four decades, customers throughout the Sarasota and Bradenton area have trusted us for their heating, air conditioning and plumbing needs. Today, we continue to honor their trust by offering a full range of affordable commercial and residential installation and repair services. We’ve won plenty of awards for honoring our commitments to delivering great service and customer satisfaction, so it was no surprise that the folks at Angie’s List awarded us for our hard work and dedication to our customers.