What is Backflow Prevention & Testing

Backflow is a condition that enables contaminated water to enter or re-enter your drinking water supply.

More importantly, it’s a condition that needs to be prevented to protect your family’s health.  Here at Eagle Service Company, we install, repair, test, and monitor backflow prevention valves, which every Birmingham area home should have.

Contaminated water can enter your home through cross connections.  A cross connection occurs when drinking water pipes are connected to various plumbing fixtures or water-using equipment, such as a lawn sprinkler system.

What can cause a backflow event? Let’s have a look:

  • Sudden drops in municipal water pressure, like the kind that occurs when a water main breaks
  • When an existing backflow preventer breaks
  • A crack or break in an underground sewer line

When any of these conditions occur, backflow is the likely result. Worse, the contaminated water that re-enters your drinking water supply can include raw sewage, pesticides, fertilizer chemicals, soapy water from a garden hose, and so on.

One or more backflow prevention valves can prevent these potentially hazardous conditions. And yet, like any other mechanical device to ensure its reliable operation or to prompt the necessary repair measure should circumstances warrant.

For more information or to request a backflow test to determine your family’s needs, contact Eagle Service Company today.

Common Winter Home Problems

Homeowner responsibilities are great any time of year. But most would agree that winter can present some especially hard and unique challenges – from keeping your family warm and comfortable to making sure your walkways are free of ice and snow for friends, neighbors, and passersby.

In addition to everyday home maintenance, there are several bigger issues that could quickly turn into costly emergencies if ignored. Here are 6 of the most common among them:

  1. Pests – Keep doors securely closed at all times and seal any cracks or gaps around doors, windows, and your foundation to prevent rodents from settling in for the winter.
  2. Frozen pipes – Insulate your pipes to prevent them freezing, and make sure outdoor spigots are drained and the connecting valve is shut off for the season.
  3. Loose or missing shingles – Snow and ice can do a number on your roof. So, routinely inspect your roof for damage and repair it as necessary to prevent further damage.
  4. Rain gutters – Keeping your gutters and downspouts clear of debris is important. But so is keeping them free of heavy snow and ice, as the added weight can cause gutters to loosen and collapse.
  5. Frozen sump pump – If your sump pump is equipped with an extension hose, remove it if the temperature dips below freezing to prevent freezing and resulting damage to your pump.
  6. Failing heating system – Avoid a furnace breakdown by having your home heating system inspected annually by a qualified technician. If your furnace is on its last legs, consider replacing it with a new, energy efficient unit before you’re forced to make that decision.

So, when was the last time your home heating system was thoroughly cleaned and inspected?  Or your plumbing, for that matter. If it’s been a year or longer, contact Eagle Service Company today for professional and thorough heating and plumbing system inspections. Because a little preventative maintenance today can prevent a costly repair tomorrow.

How to Prevent Holiday Disasters

The house is spotless, the table is set, and your family and friends are on their way to your home to enjoy a delicious home-cooked holiday meal. And just then, your kitchen sink won’t drain. We’re talking a water-up-to-your-elbows clog.

We’ve all been there, and we know how quickly these pesky mishaps can zap the holiday spirit right out of you. Thankfully, some of the most common issues can be avoided with a little preventative care.

Here are 5 common holiday hosting problems and tips for avoiding them.

The oven won’t heat. During the holidays, the oven quickly becomes one of the most important appliances in the house. If it stops working, it can quickly turn your festive holiday meal into a casual pizza party. To help prevent it from going caput, resist the urge to use the self-clean function – and risk blowing a fuse or thermostat – until after the holidays, especially if you’ve never used that function before. Also, if you notice your oven acting up now, don’t put off contacting an appliance repair person. A little money spent now can prevent a major malfunction later.

The kitchen sink won’t drain. Did you know that the holiday season is one of the busiest times of year for plumbers? More cooking and baking means more dirty dishes, and in our haste to clean up, it’s not uncommon for homeowners to let some things slip down the drain that we otherwise wouldn’t. Avoid a serious back-up and protect your plumbing by properly disposing of all food waste. Never pour cooking fat and oil down the drain, and if you have a garbage disposal, don’t feed it starchy or fibrous food. Also, resist the urge to use chemical drain cleaners. They actually do more harm than good. Keep a plumbing snake handy to dislodge backed up food waste.

The heat goes out. You want your guests to enter a warm and inviting home, not a frigid tundra. Be sure to clean or replace your furnace filter at least every 90 days, and have your heating system inspected annually by a licensed HVAC technician to ensure that it’s in tip-top shape.

The toilet is backed up. Nothing gets your heart racing faster than the sight of quickly rising water in a toilet. And while there’s never a good time for a clogged toilet, it’s extra annoying during the holidays. Don’t throw anything other than toilet paper down the toilet. And consider putting up a polite note reminding your guests to do the same.

The refrigerator won’t stay cold. Avoid having to dispose of hundreds of dollars-worth of food by keeping an eye on your fridge, and being mindful of any temperature changes. Your fridge needs to circulate cold air, so don’t over-stuff the shelves. And keep the condenser coils on the back free of dust, dirt, and pet hair.

Of course, even with the best of care, plumbing and heating mishaps can and do happen. Should happen to you this holiday season, Eagle Service Company will be on hand to turn disaster into delight before you know it. Contact us today for the service you need, when you need it.

Is it Time for a New Heating System? Let’s Find Out.

Some things are worth hanging onto forever. Your grandmother’s wedding ring, your mother’s hope chest, or even your children’s’ first pairs of shoes.

But for most of us, mechanical objects – like heating and cooling systems – don’t make the “forever” list. Speaking of heating systems, even the best-made models have an average lifespan of 15-20 years, which results in one obvious conclusion: if you live in your home long enough, sooner or later you’ll need to replace it.

Is that time now? It could be if you’re noticing one or more of these heating system warning signs:

  • Rising utility costs
  • More frequent and costlier repairs
  • Hot and cold spots vs. consistent temperatures throughout your home
  • You just can’t get warm enough, even when you spike the thermostat
  • Strange, unpleasant noises

Sound familiar? Then perhaps it’s time for a new heating system from Eagle Service Company. Here are just some of the benefits you can count on:

  • Up to 92% energy efficiency, meaning potentially huge energy savings
  • Optional programmable thermostats for even greater energy efficiency
  • Consistent temperatures from room to room
  • Reliable operation
  • Greater peace of mind

With Eagle Service Company, you also can count on proper system sizing, expert installation, and optional annual maintenance to help keep your new heating system in top operating condition.

So, if you’d rather replace your ageing heating system now instead of waiting until it suddenly calls it quits one cold wintry day, contact Eagle now for a free in-home heating system evaluation and proposal.

Furnace Odors, and What They Mean

From the sweet smell of home-made pumpkin pie baking in the oven, to the smoky aroma of a wood- burning fireplace, autumn provides us with a symphony of fragrances that delight the senses.

But when it comes to your home, not all aromas are as pleasant. Some can even be an indication of a serious problem in immediate need of attention.

So, as you prepare to curl up on the couch with your slice of pie this season, be mindful of any odors that might fill the air once your heating system is turned on. While some are common and pose no serious risk, others could leave you out in the cold.

Burning Dirt and Dust

It’s common to notice a slight smell of burning dust as you fire up the furnace for the first time. This odor is caused by the heating up and burning of dust that has settled on the furnace as it sat idle and typically is no cause for concern. Having your furnace inspected and your filters cleaned or replaced will often prevent the odor and ensure that your heating system is ready for another long winter.

Musty Smell

A stale, musty smell coming from your home’s heating vents indicates that moisture has entered your heating system and mold or mildew has formed. Not only is mold a health concern, but cracks or gaps in your ductwork can cause heat loss and result in higher energy bills.

Electrical Odor

Over time, furnace components can wear out. If electrical wires are frayed or motors become damaged, you may notice an electrical burning smell as air is moved through the system.

Smoky Smell

If you detect the scent of smoke, check to see if registers are opened so warm air can move freely. A smoky smell also can indicate that a motor is over-heating. The motor may need to be lubricated or replaced.

Don’t take furnace odors laying down. Instead, contact Eagle Service Company for prompt, professional, and thorough attention. We are your complete resource for all things plumbing, heating, and air conditioning.

Toilet Problems You Can Fix Yourself

How far do you have to travel to find the nearest toilet? Probably no more than 20 – 30 feet from where you’re currently sitting. That’s because pretty much wherever you might be, there’s ALWAYS one close by. And for obvious reasons.

Well, it should be equally obvious that the more your bathroom gets used, the more likely it is that problems will occur, especially with your toilet. If, for example, yours is a family of four, your household toilets get flushed an average of 20 times per day. Multiply that over six months to year, and what you come up with is a whole lot flushing going on. It’s no wonder things go wrong from time to time.

Well, for the sake of helping you conserve some plumbing repair dollars, here are two common toilet repairs most people can and often do fix on their own.

Changing or adjusting the seat and lid

Replacing or adjusting a lid or seat is a relatively simple process. First, locate the two hinges where the seat screws into the fixture. If they’re covered by a plastic cap, simply pry it open and save it for later. Next, unscrew the nuts and plastic washers. To replace the seat, remove the nuts, washers, and bolts, then follow the process in reverse to attach a new lid or seat. To repair a loose toilet seat, adjust it the spot you’d like it to be and then re-tighten the nuts.

Fixing a running toilet

Another easy toilet repair is replacing the flapper valve: the flexible rubber valve attached to the flush lever. It’s made of rubber which means, over time, it can degrade and become incapable of still forming a tight seal as it attempts to shut off the flow of water. The flapper also can close tightly over the chain, which also prevents it from sealing. Adjusting the chain can fix that problem while replacing the flapper itself is also a simple affair. First, turn off the water supply valve to your toilet. Then flush the toilet to remove the remaining water in the tank. Remove the flapper and bring it to a hardware store where you can find the closest possible match. Later, follow the instructions on the package to install the flapper. Yes, it should be just that simple.

What happens when encountering a toilet problem beyond your ability to repair it? That’s easy, too: simply contact the professional plumbers at Eagle Service Company and we’ll get the job done to your complete satisfaction. And that includes a guaranteed upfront price quote.  Eagle Service Company – for all your home plumbing needs.

Conserve More Water with a Dual-Flush Toilet

As technology evolves, you continue to have a greater number of green living options made available to you.  And we’re all better off for it.

Here’s a very good example: not exactly the newest kid on the block, but one not yet widely known. It’s called a dual-flush toilet, and it has two built-in flushing options.: half flush for liquid waste which consumes only 1.3 gallons of water, and the full flush mode for solid waste disposal consuming 1.6 gallons of water per flush.

If the toilet you’re replacing is an older model, it currently uses 3-5 gallons per flush. How much water can you save by switching from your older toilet to a dual-flush model? According to the Sierra Club, a family of four will save an average of 7,000 gallons per year.

One more thing about dual-flush toilets to keep in mind: less water does not mean more toilet blockages.  Quite the opposite, in fact, since dual-flush toilets have greater flushing power and in-bowl traps about twice the size of older style toilets, thus virtually eliminating the potential for clogged toilets.

Have questions before you buy?  At Eagle Service Company, we’ll be happy to answer them so you can be sure you’re making the right decision for your home and budget. And that goes for any of our residential or commercial plumbing services. So, for new toilet installation or whatever your current plumbing need might be, contact Eagle Service Company today.

When Should I Replace My AC System?

In a perfect world, the answer would be “never.”  Never, because your current system would run problem-free for all time.

So much for that perfect world scenario.

Still, as imperfect as they might be, today’s better-made and well-maintained AC systems have an estimated shelf life of 15-20 years.  Can yours last that long, and perhaps longer still. It’s possible, but the fact remains that if you live in your house long enough, eventually you’re going to have to replace it.

Some people do so proactively when their energy bills start reaching uncomfortable new heights. They want to pay less and come to realize the amount they save will be enough to cover the cost of a high-efficiency replacement AC system over time.

Other people tolerate the higher energy costs but know that some action needs to be taken when one or more of the following symptoms start to manifest themselves:

  • Frequent and increasingly more costly repairs. What you pay $200 to have your system repaired if you had reason to believe it would run “just fine” after that?  Of course you would.  But how about $500, $1,000, or even $1,500?  In other words, what’s the point when you say “enough is enough,” and finally decide your money is better spent on a replacement AC system?
  • Noisy operation. Remember the good ol’ days when your current system was first installed, and how quietly it operated (assuming it was properly installed)?  Well, the older a system gets, the more prone it becomes make unpleasant and persistent noises, like popping, banging, whirring, and the like.  Noisy operation doesn’t necessarily indicate the need for a new system, but it is something you want to get checked out.
  • Hot and cold spots throughout your home. A well-designed AC system should provide equal amounts of cool air from one room to the next.  If that how it used to be, but no longer is, then you have another reason to have the cause thoroughly investigated.
  • You want to contribute to a cleaner environment. Older AC systems use Freon as a refrigerant, while newer systems are equipped with the more eco-friendly r-410A which is not ozone depleting.  Plus, the longer you hang onto your older system, the more expensive Freon charges are going to become.

If you’re AC system isn’t performing up to par, contact Eagle Service Company today so we can get determine the root cause. After that, we’ll present you with repair and new system options as appropriate, and help you decide on the course of action most in keeping with your family’s indoor comfort needs.

How to Hire the Right Drain Cleaning Company

Lou Holtz, the former head coach of the University of Notre Dame Football team, once commented that even the person who graduates last from his or her medical school class gets called “doctor.”  His point:  just because you have a designation doesn’t mean you’re at the top of your game.

Well, the same goes for plumbers and drain cleaning companies. Here at Eagle Service Company, are we at the top of our game?  That’s not for us to say, but for you to decide.  Here’s what we can tell you:  we’re well trained, broadly experienced, our technicians take part in continuing training and development, and we offer our customers a 100% satisfaction guarantee.

And yet, when it comes to something as potentially messy, tricky, and inconvenient (for you) as a clogged sewer or drain, being highly trained and skilled isn’t enough.  Lots of local plumbers are.  But only a small group of us have the advanced tools that enable us to tackle even the most difficult jobs from start to finish.  How does that benefit you?  Because when you hire a drain cleaning company that can do it all, you won’t be required to hire two or more companies to complete the same task.

So before you hire someone to clear, repair, or replace your problem sewer or drain, make sure they are fully capable AND equipped to get the job done with these advanced drain cleaning tools:

  • In-line video drain inspection camera. Our cameras enable us to pinpoint the exact location, extent, and cause of the blockage. If, for example, we discover an underground sewer pipe crushed by a tree root, we know instantly that no amount of drain cleaning will solve the problem. That pipe will have to be repaired or replaced as needed, and the tree roots near or inside the sewer pipe removed. No matter what’s going on in a sewer or drain pipe, video inspection facilitates faster problem diagnosis, and that frequently leads to lower-cost solutions.

  • High-pressure water jetter. Our water jetters blast the inside of drain pipe with a high pressure spray of water that can cut through just about anything. At the same time, water is sprayed backwards to help propel the jetter through the pipe. It’s a highly efficient and effective process. And one that helps ensure the blockage is removed completely.

Not all drain jobs require the use of a video inspection camera or high-pressure water jetter.  But what if yours does? To ensure you call the company that can handle any drain cleaning or repair job from start to finish, contact Eagle Service Company today. It’s a smart and confident choice.

How Tree and Shrub Roots Can Clog a Sewer Line

You may not be so fond of what flows through your sewer pipes, but to tree and shrub roots, it’s mother’s milk.

That’s right:  human waste is chock full of life-enriching nutrients that roots not only thrive on, but seek out.  In fact, they naturally grow towards your underground drain lines sensing the presence of what could be their next meal.  Unfortunately, drain pipes will eventually invite the roots inside for an unending banquet – that’s because pipes crack and spring leaks over time, and it doesn’t take much of an opening for the first group of roots to take up residence.

Later, as the roots multiply, the cracks correspondingly widen.  That eventually leads not just to slow moving drains, but a dead stop.  One that only drain repair or replacement can fix.

What’s a home owner to do?  For starters, avoid planting trees and shrubs near underground pipes.  If a sewer line breaks beyond repair, have it replaced with PVC plastic piping – the kind that does a better job of barring root invasion.

As you gaze outdoors at your property, do you see trees and shrubbery everywhere, but have no idea where your sewer pipes are buried?  If so, this is a great time to contact Eagle Service Company so we can inspect your drain lines for root invasion and other problems in the making.  At the same time, we’ll give you a guaranteed upfront price quote to treat your underground pipes with an organic root killing substance that won’t harm your trees and shrubs even a little.

One such treatment a year – along with being careful where you plant new greenery – should be all it takes to prevent a major disruption to your home drainage system.  Contact Eagle Service Company today to schedule service.