Category Archives: Household

8 Gas Appliance Safety Tips You Can’t Afford to Ignore

Gas appliances are not inherently dangerous. In fact, they’re exceedingly safe, as long as they’re well-maintained and treated with care and respect.

YOU CAN’T AFFORD TO IGNORE

If you have a gas-fueled furnace, room heater, stove, or water heater in your home, here are eight safety tips you would be wise to follow:

  1. Install carbon monoxide detectors in the immediate vicinity of each appliance.

If you have gas-burning appliances in your home, carbon monoxide poisoning is the biggest risk you face. Every year, thousands of people are sickened by exposure to carbon monoxide, and a few people pay the ultimate price.

Carbon monoxide detectors are highly sensitive, and they’ve saved many lives. They do need to be installed fairly near gas appliances to work correctly, and you should change the batteries twice a year even if the low-battery warning beeper doesn’t sound.

  1. Learn to recognize the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon monoxide detectors are great, but carbon monoxide is so dangerous that you shouldn’t count on them exclusively. Even if they do go off during a leak and you manage to flee, someone may be exposed to hazardous levels of carbon monoxide before you can get out of the house.

The telltale indicators of carbon monoxide exposure include these:

  • Dizziness or vertigo
  • Steadily increasing drowsiness
  • Tension headaches
  • Muscle and joint stiffness
  • Blurred vision
  • Disorientation, confusion
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Loss of consciousness

If you or anyone else in your home experiences any of these symptoms, leave the house, open all windows and doors on the way out, turn the gas off at its source, and call the gas company (after you exit the house) to alert them to the danger. If anyone’s illness persists, or if anyone loses consciousness, call 911 and ask them to dispatch an ambulance immediately.

  1. Keep the floor and wall space around your gas appliances free and clear.

Don’t install gas appliances near cabinets or shelves or in a spot with a low ceiling. Don’t push the appliance right up against the wall, and keep the floor space around it clear of all obstacles for a distance of 4-6 feet.

  1. Don’t store combustibles anywhere close to a gas-burning appliance.

If it burns, you should keep it far, far away from your gas furnace, heater, or stove. In fact the best idea is to store your chemical products, oil or kerosene cans, paint, newspapers, magazines, and any other flammable items in an entirely separate location.

  1. Make your gas appliances off-limits to children and pets.

No matter how responsible and careful your kids (or cats and dogs) might be, why take any chances?

  1. Check your gas appliance vents often to make sure they remain clean and open.

Vent maintenance is fairly simple and straightforward. Fortunately, modern gas appliances are often manufactured to shut down if venting is inadequate, but if you inspect the vents yourself and clean them out as needed, you’ll have nothing to worry about.

  1. Look for soot accumulation, a yellow pilot light flame, or any other sign of damage or diminished performance.

Older gas appliances need extra-special attention. It might be a good idea to get rid of your furnace, heater, or stove before it ages too much, but at the very least, you have to watch it carefully for any signs of breakdown or malfunction.

  1. Arrange for regular maintenance visits from an HVAC contractor (and other professionals if needed).

If you have a gas furnace, this is where Johns Plumbing, Heating, and Air Conditioning can really help you out. Call us to make an appointment before heating season begins, and we’ll send a trained technician to your home to inspect your furnace for any sign of damage. Quick tune-ups are free, and if more extensive repairs are needed, you’ll be happy to know we’re one of the most affordable contractors in the area, and our technicians are highly experienced in all types of repair procedures. We can also give you the chance to enroll in our maintenance program, which will ensure regular inspections as well as saving you money on parts and labor.

Keeping your gas appliances in tip-top working order at all times is one of the best ways to ensure their continued safe operation, and no matter what type of gas appliance you own, it’s always good to have the assistance of a professional.

 

 

 

 

How Deep Are Your Pipes?

(Sung to the tune of “How Deep is Your Love”)

If you live in one of the Triad’s older neighborhoods, you’ve probably seen people having their water and sewer lines replaced. This involves having a backhoe come and dig down to the original lines, take them out, and then replace them with new PVC piping. It makes a big mess for a few days, but it could be much worse in a colder climate.How far down should your pipes be?

In the Triad (as in most of North Carolina), water and sewer lines only need to be buried 12 inches deep. This is to accommodate the frost depth of the region, which rarely goes below nine inches. In the mountains, careful plumbers will install pipes closer to 18 to 24 inches, even though code only calls for 12. A 12-inch pipe depth makes it easier for plumbers to access (or replace) pipes, which could make your life easier.

However, having pipes buried only 12 inches deep can also mean that your tap water (and shower) is prey to the changing seasons. In the heat of summer, for instance, you might not be able to get a cold glass of water from the sink. And in the winter, the hot water for your shower won’t last as long.

Building codes on pipe depth can vary from state to state and even from municipality to municipality. In Syracuse, NY, for instance, pipes have to be buried 48 inches deep. In Bismark, ND, it’s 72 inches. And in parts of Alaska, it’s 10 feet! That’s a big hole to dig in your front yard! At least the water temperature in these states probably remains consistent.

The Attack of the Tree Roots

Tree Roots and Your Plumbing

The damage that tree roots can do to your pipes.

Tree roots! If your pipes could run for their lives, they would. As attractive as trees are, their roots create a significant danger to sewer pipes. And since they are buried several feet underground, you might not know you’ve got a problem until it’s too late. Johns Plumbing, Heating, and Air Conditioning has the tools you need to clear your pipes and keep them clear.

What Causes Roots in Sewer Pipes?

Many residential neighborhoods are filled with beautiful, mature trees that add charm and shade to area homes. However, the roots of these mature trees enjoy another aspect of residential neighborhoods: their sewer pipes! Sewer pipes have everything trees want: water, oxygen, and nutrients. So roots naturally gravitate toward sewer lines, where they burrow into cracks or loose joints. The problem is especially severe in older homes with clay pipes, as opposed to the newer PVC.

Once roots find their way into pipes, they can cause extensive damage. They will continue to grow, creating a “net” that traps fats, oils, grease, and grit (FOGG) from your household waste. Eventually, they can create larger cracks in your sewer pipes, causing a total rupture or collapse. Replacing a sewer line is much costlier than removing roots, so it’s crucial to deal with this problem before it becomes much worse!

What Are the Signs of Roots in Sewer Pipes?

The first sign you might have roots in your sewer line is slow drains and toilets, or a gurgling sound when your flush the toilet. Once the roots have built their net in the pipes, you may experience a FOGG backup.

What Can You Do about Roots in Sewer Pipes?

For preventative maintenance, you may consider introducing a chemical root killer into the pipes, usually through the lowest toilet in the house. These corrosive chemicals dissolve tree roots, but they require great care—as they can be harmful to skin and eyes as well as family pets. Also, if there’s any chance that your sewer pipe might be cracked or collapsed, you’ll want to get a professional opinion.

That’s where Johns Plumbing, Heating, and Air Conditioning comes in. Our expert plumbers have been helping Triad homeowners with their plumbing problems since 1974. With a borescope—a drain snake equipped with a camera—we can assess the extent of the damage while we remove any existing tree roots. Don’t wait until it’s too late: Call Johns today!

 

Pollen and Your HVAC System

Spring has sprung in the Triad, and for many local residents, that means a sharp rise in seasonal allergies. Any allergy sufferer recognizes the symptoms: sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, headaches, and even skin rashes. The flowering trees of spring are beautiful, but they also regularly land Greensboro a spot in the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s Spring Allergy Capitals’ list.

Pollen and Your HVAC System

That pesky acid-yellow pollen may be unavoidable when you step outside, but that doesn’t mean that you need to suffer in your own home. Read on to learn how to reduce pollen in your house and how your HVAC system can help.

Check Your Filters

When was the last time you changed your HVAC filters? If you can’t remember, then it’s probably time. Filters perform the important task of keeping allergens out of your vents and out of your house, so it’s crucial to keep them clean. As we have previously discussed on this blog, different kinds of HVAC filters have different effects on your air quality. Air filters are rated according to their minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV), a value that ranges from 1 to 12. The higher the efficiency, the higher the rating. Look for filters with a minimum MERV of 10, especially high-energy particulate air (HEPA) filters. During the months with the highest pollen counts, you should change your filters once a month for maximum efficiency.

Make the Most of Your System

There are other ways to make sure that your HVAC system is doing the most for your allergies. The air quality specialists at Johns Plumbing, Heating, and Air Conditioning can make sure your vents are clean and sealed—ensuring that pollen stays outside where it belongs. Checking your coils and drip pans can also ensure that you’re circulating clean, pollen-free air through your house. Speaking of air circulation, try keeping your HVAC in recirculation mode during high-pollen days.

Other Tips

With all this effort to help your HVAC system keep pollen out of your house, some common sense steps can also make a big difference. For one, keep doors and windows closed. It may seem straightforward, but even screened windows let pollen float freely into your home. On the highest pollen days, you’re probably bringing pollen into the home with you on your shoes, clothes, and hair. Try taking off shoes and outerwear before entering the main living area of your house, especially the bedrooms. And washing your hair before bed will keep pollen off your pillow, giving you a better night’s sleep.

There’s Something in the Water

Triad residents were dismayed this week to discover that traces of a chemical solvent known as 1,4-dioxane have been found in the Cape Fear River system. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classified 1,4-dioxane as a “probable human carcinogen” when it is ingested in high dosages. The level of the chemical found in the Randleman Regional Reservoir is relatively low—less that two parts per billion—but it raises concerns about what other chemicals might be lurking in the region’s supply of drinking water.Solvent found in local water supplies

The EPA regulates physical, chemical, biological, and radiological contaminants that are on the Contaminant Candidate List (CCL). Currently, 1,4-dioxane is not one of the hundreds of regulated chemicals, but this fact just highlights the level of uncertainty about the quality of the nation’s drinking water. As the lead poisoning in Flint, Michigan, and the coal ash spill from Duke Energy show, our water supply is uniquely vulnerable to contamination.

The EPA also identifies Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CECs) that are increasingly appearing in water supplies. These contaminants are often the remains of pharmaceuticals and personal care products that end up in the water when they get flushed or washed out of homes or businesses. People sometimes forget that what we put into the water, as a society, is what we get out of the water. And in the case of CECs, these are chemicals and other substances that may have detrimental effects to both aquatic animals and humans. In particular, the EPA is concerned about endocrine disruptors, which can affect reproductive health and cause some cancers.

Do you know what is in your water? Dr. Johns H2O can do a free in-home water analysis to make sure that your family’s water is safe. And with our charcoal and reverse osmosis filters, we can reduce known contaminants for your health and peace of mind. Contact us today to make sure that when you’re drinking water, you’re only drinking water.