Monthly Archives: October 2015

DIY Alert: You Can Treat Your Frozen Pipes!

It’s every homeowner’s nightmare: pipes that freeze and then break, flooding the house and causing thousands of dollars in damage. The Piedmont has already had its first overnight freeze of the season; can the first major cold snap be far behind?How to fix frozen pipes yourself.

Cold snaps—several days in a row of very cold weather—can cause the water in your pipes to freeze. However, there are several things homeowners can do to prevent freezing. Even if the pipes do freeze, it is possible to thaw them before they burst and flood. Read on to learn how you can prevent and treat frozen pipes.


  • Keep the air around pipes at least 58 degrees. A slightly higher heating bill is much cheaper than fixing a burst pipe. Investing in extra insulation as well as sealing any gaps in the windows, foundation, or crawlspace can also pay off.
  • Insulate pipes in the basement, crawlspace, and exterior walls with foam insulation.
  • In extremely cold areas, invest in thermostatically controlled heat tape that automatically comes on when the temperature drops below a certain point. (All heat tapes are not the same. You need to check the product guidelines carefully, use the right heat tape, and install it correctly.)
  • Disconnect all garden hoses and shut off the water to all exterior faucets. Cover exterior faucets with foam insulation.
  • During cold snaps, keep warm water slowly dripping from interior faucets. It keeps water from freezing and also reduces built-up pressure in the pipes.


  • First, cut off the water at the main valve.
  • Next, open the tap (or taps) that lead from the frozen pipes.
  • Heat the sections of pipes that are frozen using a hair dryer. Make sure that you’re not standing in water as you do this!
  • If you can’t reach the pipes with a hair dryer, try wrapping the pipes in towels that have been soaked in hot water.
  • NEVER pour boiling water directly on the pipes or try to warm the pipes with a blowtorch; this can cause an explosion!

When all else fails

Call Johns Plumbing, Heating, and Air Conditioning, the experts who can fix the pipes and make sure they never burst again.

Why Do I Hear My Furnace Turning on and Off?

Hummmmmmmmm…Why is your furnace making the noises that it does? May be time for a tune-up!







Do these sounds seem familiar? In most Triad houses during the winter, you can hear these sounds regularly as the furnace cycles on and off, keeping the house at a comfortable temperature. If you have your heat set at 68, for instance, the thermostat will tell the furnace to cycle on as soon as the temperature drops to 67. Once the furnace brings the temperature back up to 68, however, the thermostat tells the furnace to turn back off.

When working properly, a furnace cycles on three to six times per hour. However, when it short-cycles, it turns on and off every five minutes or more. This can indicate a serious problem with your furnace, and you should investigate right away. Here are some of the common reasons why furnaces short-cycle, some steps you can take at home, and some tips on when to call in the experts at Johns Plumbing, Heating, and Air Conditioning, Inc.

Short-Cycle Reason #1: Dirty Filters

If you don’t change your air filter frequently enough, it can collect dirt and debris. This reduces airflow, which can result in mixed messages between the furnace and thermostat. Fortunately, this common problem is one of the easiest to fix; simply replace the filter, turn the heat back on, and see if the short-cycling stops.

Short-Cycle Reason #2: Thermostat Problems

Since the heating cycle relies on communication between the thermostat and the furnace, it makes sense to make sure that the thermostat is not the problem. Start by checking the thermostat battery; again, this is a quick, easy, and cheap fix if this is the problem. Also, check the location of the thermostat; if it’s too near a heat vent or a fireplace, it might be turning off too quickly when the hot air blows on it.

Short-Cycle Reason #3: Furnace Problems

If your furnace it too big for the space it’s meant to be heating, it can cycle on and off too frequently, trying to find the right temperature. This is a common problem that Johns can solve by adjusting the furnace down to the appropriate heat output. Another potential culprit is the pilot; make sure that it’s lit and working properly.

If you can’t stop your furnace short-cycling with any of these tips, make sure to call Johns Plumbing, Heating, and Air Conditioning, Inc., today to schedule an appointment. Short- cycling can drastically reduce heating efficiency and shorten the life of your furnace.

Got Condensation? Here’s Why and What to Do

We all recognize condensation when it forms on a glass of cold iced tea in August. But what does it mean when it forms on the inside of our windows? The same principal is at work on our windows and the iced tea glass: the cold surface meeting the warm, damp air causes moisture to form on the glass.

What is condensation and what can you do about it?

We usually see condensation forming on the inside of windows in the winter, especially at the beginning of the heating season. The cold air outside makes the window cold, and if the warm air inside has too much moisture, it will form condensation. In North Carolina, where the temperature usually rises well above freezing during the day, the condensation will usually dissipate during the day; however, that doesn’t mean that you should just ignore it.

Condensation on the inside of your windows indicates that your indoor humidity might be too high, which can cause much worse problems than foggy windows. Excessive humidity can cause paint to blister, wood to rot, floors to buckle, and insulation to deteriorate. Ironically, it’s often the newest, most energy efficient houses that can be prone to excessive indoor humidity; these houses are “tighter” and don’t allow air to flow freely through the walls to the outside. This keeps heating or cooling inside where you want it, but it also keeps humidity inside. Older houses were often built with more porous materials that allowed water vapors to escape.

Most experts agree on the following scale for indoor relative humidity, based on a range of outdoor temperatures:

  • -30° F or below – not over 15%
  • -20° F to -10° F – not over 20%
  • -10° F to 0° F – not over 25%
  • 0° F to 10° F – not over 30%
  • 10° F to 20° F – not over 35%
  • 20° F to 40° F – not over 40%

(Assumes 70° F indoor air temperature)

Since North Carolina winters are fairly mild, the humidity in your house should be in the 30 to 40 percent range for most of the season.

If your indoor humidity is too high, there are several steps you can take to bring those levels down:

  • Invest in a dehumidifier. They come in different sizes for different-sized spaces and can drastically reduce humidity. You can also buy moisture-eliminating products for high-moisture rooms like bathrooms or basements.
  • Add some air. Open windows for a little while each day, or run ventilation fans if you have them. If you don’t, consider investing in a ventilation system, which will keep your whole house dry.
  • Add some heat. Turning up the temperature will bring warm, dry air into the house, helping to reduce overall moisture.

Sump Pumps Help Keep Basements Dry

Sump pumps can help keep your basement dryThe sump pump: is it North Carolina’s favorite appliance? It’s almost certainly in the top five, especially after the rainy weather we’ve seen this fall. The Piedmont gets an average yearly rainfall of about 42-46 inches, and when the water saturates the ground, leaky basements abound.

If you’ve never heard of a sump pump, consider yourself lucky; it means you don’t have a problem with flooding! But for many people in the Triad, a sump pump is a necessity to avoid a basement full of water. A typical sump pump sits in a pit  where water collects. It has a water control switch that is activated when the water in the pit rises to a certain level. When the pump turns on, it sucks the water out of the pit and expels it out of the house.

Most primary sump pumps are electrical; they need a dedicated circuit and should not be plugged into an extension cord. If your basement floods frequently, or if you have a finished basement, you should also have a battery-operated backup. You can check to make sure your sump pump works by pouring a bucket of water into the pit. As the water rises, it makes the float rise, which should trigger the pump to start working. If it doesn’t, call in the experts at Johns Plumbing, Heating, and Air Conditioning to make sure your basement stays dry.