Tag Archives: home maintenance

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.

Preparing Your Home for a Winter Storm

The first winter storm is poised to hit the Triad; is your home ready?

Preparing your home for a winter storm

Here’s a checklist of things to do before the storm hits:

  • Clear your gutters; they can’t direct water away from your house if they’re clogged with leaves and debris.
  • Trim your trees. The Triad is especially prone to ice storms, which can cause ice to accumulate on branches. Ice-laden branches can then break off and fall on your home, car, or power lines.
  • Cover your outdoor HVAC unit. Although we generally recommend leaving the unit uncovered for the winter, a blizzard is one of the few reasons that we recommend temporarily covering it. After the storm, remove the cover and clear the area of snow and ice.
  • Make sure your sump pump is working by pouring a five-gallon bucket of water into the well. If it seems to be lagging, make sure it’s clear of debris. For other problems, call Johns Heating, Plumbing, and Air Conditioning as soon as possible.
  • Familiarize yourself with your electrical panel and power main.
  • Make sure your furnace and heating system is working at full power by scheduling a check-up with Johns.
  • Charge your phone.
  • Secure all outdoor furniture, bicycles, etc.
  • Create an emergency kit with flashlights, extra batteries, first aid supplies, candles, matches, food, and fresh water.




Should You Cover Your Air Conditioner for the Winter?

Winter has finally reached the Triad; are you ready? Hopefully, you’ve already had Johns Plumbing, Heating, and Air Conditioning do our seasonal maintenance on your HVAC system. But now the question arises: should you cover your air conditioning unit for the winter?Should I cover my air conditioner in the winter?

This is a question that has been hotly debated for years, and there’s not exactly a simple answer. Read on to learn about the pros and cons of covering your air conditioner, and to decide on the best choice for you.

Reasons to Cover Your Air Conditioner

  • It keeps falling snow and ice out of the unit.
  • It keeps leaves and debris from clogging the unit.
  • It keeps water off the coils, where it can freeze and damage them.

Reasons Not to Cover Your Air Conditioner

  • Even with a cover, moisture from condensation can get into your air conditioning unit, causing damage. This is why seasonal maintenance is so important.
  • The moisture from condensation can breed mold and mildew, which can also damage your system and degrade air quality.
  • Covering your air conditioning unit can create a lovely haven for mice and other animals to make a winter nest.

What’s the Bottom Line?

In the Triad, we don’t often experience extended harsh winters. However, blizzards and hailstorms are the two weather events that warrant covering your air conditioning unit. If such a storm is in the forecast, cover your unit before the storm starts, and remove it afterwards. In the case of a blizzard (extremely rare in the southeast), take a few minutes to brush the snow from around the base of the unit.