Monthly Archives: March 2016

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.

Is Your Ceiling Fan a Friend or a Foe?

Recently, there has been some fast and loose talk about ceiling fans being ineffective for cooling. Are these claims true or false? As with so many issues, the answer is “both.” Read on to learn how to make the most of your ceiling fans.Are ceiling fans effective in cooling down a room?

The reason some energy experts disapprove of ceiling fans has more to do with how people use ceiling fans than with the fans themselves. Unlike air conditioners, which contain cooling agents called refrigerants, fans don’t actually cool the air. In fact, the motor that runs the fan actually warms the air around it! However, the air movement that the fan creates gives the feeling of cooler air. It’s the same principle as the wind-chill factor that meteorologists use when determining outdoor temperature; a cold wind will make the air feel colder, even though the wind doesn’t register on the thermometer.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) states that for users of both air conditioning and ceiling fans, the wind chill factor of ceiling fans allows users to raise their air conditioning temperature four degrees without sacrificing any real-feel comfort. During milder weather, ceiling fans can actually replace air conditioning, drastically reducing energy usage.

So why would energy experts complain about ceiling fans? Note the Department of Energy’s recommendation that users can reduce or even eliminate their air conditioning usage by using ceiling fans. Many users only take the second piece of that advice; that is, they keep the ceiling fans on, but they don’t bother raising their AC temperature or turning their AC off when it’s not necessary. This results in a greater energy expenditure than if the ceiling fans weren’t turned on at all.

Furthermore, most people leave ceiling fans on, even when they’re not in the room. As the DOE says, fans cool people, not rooms, so it doesn’t do any good to leave them on if you’re not in the room. To get the most out of your ceiling fans, follow these simple steps:

  • Raise your AC temperature a few degrees if you’re using a ceiling fan.
  • In temperate weather, use a ceiling fan instead of air conditioning.
  • Turn off your ceiling fan when you leave a room.