How to Humidify Your Home this Winter, and Why

Once the windows are closed and your heating system is on, you no doubt spend considerably more time indoors.  Enough so that, before long, you start experiencing certain annoying phenomena, such as dry skin, frizzy hair, a bloody nose here and there, not to mention the unmistakable zap from static electrical shock.

What do they have in common?  They’re all caused by dry indoor air. Which is exactly what heated indoor air does:  it saps the air around you of enough moisture to make things uncomfortable in their own distinct way.

Here’s how.  Warm air rises and, unless your home is well sealed, it continues rising through your ceilings, into the attic, and out through your roof.  Warm air can also escape vis wall switches and outlets, your chimney, windows and doors, and un-insulated outside facing walls.

Well, as warm air escapes, so does much of the moisture we put into our homes every day through cooking, showering, washing dishes, and all the rest.

Sure, you can solve the problem by making your home air tight, but that can cause other indoor air quality problems.  Which means the best way to humidify your home during the winter is with a whole-house humidifier from Eagle Service Company.

Once installed, it will work hand in glove with your heating system to keep you warm with exactly the right level of indoor relative humidity, a level you can set yourself and change at will.  Not only will your skin no longer dry out, etc., but moister air also will help prevent wood furniture, musical instruments, and doors from shrinking, warping, and cracking.

Plus, you’ll end up paying less to heat your home.  That’s because added humidity will help you feel warmer at the same temperature setting, and that leads to both energy and cash savings.

To learn more or request a free in-home air quality evaluation, contact Eagle Service Company today.

Common Cold Weather Mistakes

Whether you’re a winter enthusiast or use this time of year to count the days until summer, you still probably take some measure of comfort from snuggling up with a fluffy blanket by the fire (or not) and letting the stress of your day melt away.

Kind of easy to get lost in that thought, let alone the actual experience, right? Great, but don’t get so lost that you forget to take all the proper precautions to better protect your home and family.

As such, here are six common winter time mistakes well-worth avoiding:

Not Preventing Icicles

While they may be pretty to look at, icicles hanging from your gutters probably indicate the formation of an ice dam – a buildup of ice on your roof or gutter that prevents rain, melting snow, and ice from flowing through your gutters and tout through the downspouts. If left unattended, they could lead to costly roof repairs and water damage inside your home. Start by checking that your attic is properly insulated. If it isn’t and you can’t re-insulate right now, add heated gutter cables to the areas that are prone to ice damns as a temporarily fix.

Not Winter-Proofing Your Plumbing

It’s amazing what damage just a little frozen water can do. If you want to prevent finding out the hard way, be sure to winter-proof your plumbing. Insulate exposed water pipes in unheated areas of your home, like the garage and basement. Also, shut off the water supply to outdoor spigots, drain the hoses, and add a faucet protector to help keep cold air from getting in.

Allowing Cold Air to Sneak In

A cracked window sill here, a loose outlet cover there – all the little cracks and gaps in your home can add up to cold nights and sky-high heating bills. Walk through every room of your home and take note of where warm air is escaping and cold air coming in to fill the void, and then seal them off.  This little fix will also serve you well in the summer.

Not Having Your Heating System Inspected and Tuned Up

Annual heating system preventative maintenance not only helps keep your system in top working order, it enables us to detect small problems before they become bigger and costlier repairs.

Skipping the Fireplace Inspection

For all the good your fireplace does, a dirty chimney can put your home and family in danger. Be sure to have your fireplace inspected and cleaned once a year, preferably before its first use of the season.

Need help in not letting winter get the better of you or your home?  If so, contact Eagle Service Company today for help with winterizing your plumbing, heating system preventative maintenance, or any other home plumbing or heating need.

 

A Back-up Sump Pump Can Help Keep Your Basement Dry.

blogSpring being the rainy season makes winter the perfect time to prepare your home to withstand all that extra moisture.

If you live in a home or neighborhood prone to basement flooding and already have a sump pump, good start.  But that may not be enough to protect your home from encroaching water.

Your sump pump, after all, is a mechanical object and won’t last forever. Next, what happens if you lose power during a rain storm?  Your sump pump becomes disabled until power is restored.

Now there’s a simple way to guard against a failed sump pump or one without electrical power:  add a back-up sump pump that doesn’t depend on electrical power to operate.

Here at Eagle Service Company, we install, maintain, and repair two different kinds:  battery-powered and water-powered.  While they both have their advantages, we recommend water-powered.

Water-Powered vs. Battery-Powered Back-up Sump Pumps.

No matter how heavy the rainfall or how bad the overall storm conditions, a water-powered sump pump is a solid defense against flood damage in your home.  The best available units can remove up to 1,324 gallons of water per hour and are the only pumps that are compatible with ¾” municipal water supply pipes.

A water-powered sump pump requires no battery, no power, and has no moving parts. All it needs is water from your well or city water supply.  With that, a water-powered sump pump can operate indefinitely.  Battery-powered sump pumps, by comparison, eventually will require a battery charge, thus potentially limiting their effectiveness.

Remember, it’s never the wrong time to fortify your basement defenses against an excess of rain water.  That’s why we invite you to contact Eagle Service Company today to learn more about your sump pump options and now best to keep your basement dry and damage free.

 

“How Can I Tell if I Have a Clogged Sewer?”

blogEver hear this saying: “It’s a dirty business, but someone has to do it!”  Well, we’re not sure, but would it surprise anyone if it was coined by a sewer cleaner of yore?  No, probably not.

Still, how would you even know if you had a problem with an underground sewer line, short of digging up your yard until you found something worth reacting to?  Actually, there are several symptoms that indicate you might just have a problem down below, including these:

Multiple Fixtures Are Clogged – When more than one sink, tub, or toilet back up at the same time, odds that’s been caused by a clogged sewer.  To test that theory, pour some water down your shower or tub drain.  If it doesn’t drain, it’s time to call your plumber.

Strange Reactions – If the simple act of flushing the toilet causes water to back up from your tub or shower, you have another clear indication of a sewer clog.  Or, let’s say your toilet bowl water that starts to bubble, and apparently for no reason.  To see if there is a reason for such a strange turn of events, run some water in the sink closest to the toilet for a minute or so.  If the water bubbles or rises, you pretty much have confirmation of a clogged sewer.

How Damp It Is – A damp spot on your lawn is another dead giveaway of a clogged sewer problem, especially when the rest of the lawn is bone dry.

Noticing any of these symptoms is all the reason you need to contact Eagle Service Company, your Mountain Brook and Hoover professional drain cleaners. With our video drain inspection cameras, for example, we can spot the exact location and extent of the problem.  That, in turn, saves times and expense in implementing the right solution:  either clearing, repairing, or replacing the problem drain.

Whatever the job requires, you can count on Eagle Service Company for prompt scheduling, and dependable results.

 

Hot Water in an Instant – What a Concept!

blogThink of all the ways you use hot water in your kitchen on a daily basis: making hot coffee or tea, boiling pasta, or cooking up some vegetables, just to name a few. Now think about the time and energy it takes to boil that pot of water or tea kettle on your stove.

Now there’s a faster way to get the job done while reducing energy consumption at the same time.  All it takes is the installation of an instant hot water dispenser in your kitchen. This remarkable kitchen convenience provides near-boiling, 200-degree water as soon as you turn on the faucet.

This dedicated faucet doesn’t replace your hot and cold water kitchen faucets – think of it as adding to the collection.  The system consists of a dedicated sink-mounted faucet/hot water dispenser plus an under-sink hot water storage tank and heater.  Tank size range in size from 2/3 to 60 gallons, meaning there’s one that fits your family’s needs and budget.  You also can choose from a wide rank for faucet styles, colors, and finishes to match your existing kitchen décor.

What can you use it for? Well, in addition to making hot drinks or getting a jump start on dinner, your instant hot water dispenser will prove just as handy for cleaning jewelry or silver, peeling tomato skins, melting chocolate, softening butter, removing baked-on food, warming serving dishes, loosening jar lids, and much more.

To learn more or request a free quote, contact Eagle Service Company today.

The Best Houseplants for Cleaner Indoor Air

blogIt’s that time of year again – more time spent indoors with the windows generally closed.  Not always the cheeriest of propositions, but it’s all part of the seasons changing.

Still, once the first signs of spring emerge, we tend to practically sprint our way to the backyard or front walk just to take in the warmth and let it embrace us.

Well, why wait for spring when you can bring some of nature indoors now with the right assortment of houseplants and, at the same time, enjoy cleaner indoor air.  For that, we all owe a debt of gratitude to NASA whose Clean Air Study conducted in the late 1980’s concluded that certain houseplants remove as much as 87% of indoor air pollutants within just 24 hours.

In addition to replacing carbon dioxide with clean oxygen, certain houseplants also can rid your home of such toxins as benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene.

NASA’s research coincided with the discovery of “Sick building syndrome,” a term used to describe the symptoms of those suffering the ill effects of indoor air pollution.  Sick building syndrome itself was a direct result of new home and commercial building construction practices that created more tightly sealed spaces as a direct response to the energy crisis of the 1970’s.

In addition to outgassed chemicals from new building construction or remodeling, certain household cleaning products also contribute to indoor pollution by releasing

carcinogenic xylene, toluene, and ammonia into the air, especially from aerosols and sprays.

Which Houseplants Work Best?

According to Greatist.com, the following are the 9 best houseplant varieties for helping clean up your indoor air:

  1. Garden Mum
  2. Spider Plant
  3. Dracaena
  4. Ficus/Weeping Fig
  5. Peace Lily
  6. Boston Fern
  7. Snake Plant
  8. Bamboo Palm
  9. Aloe Vera

Another great thing about each of these is that they’re nearly impossible to kill, although we don’t recommend you make that part of your mission, just in case.

Here’s another way to clean up your indoor air:  with a whole-house air filtration system from Eagle Service Company.  The system is installed inside your ductwork and works in combination with your forced air heating and AC systems to filter out air pollutants before they can reach your living spaces.  For more information or a free in-home comfort analysis and new system quote, contact Eagle today.

Does Your Water Pressure Need to be Adjusted?

While low water pressure is pretty easy to spot, you might be so enamored with high water pressure that you don’t recognize you might have a problem on your hands.

Water pressure that’s too high can cause serious harm to plumbing fixtures like pipes, faucets, and washing machine hoses which, in turn, can cause leaks and even flooding. But a simple, inexpensive test can tell you whether your water pressure is too high, too low, or just right.

  1. blogStart by purchasing a water pressure test gauge and following the instructions. They’re inexpensive and available at your local hardware or home improvement store.
  1. To get a more accurate reading, keep all indoor and outdoor water sources turned off during the test.
  1. A healthy level of water pressure is somewhere between 40 psi (pounds per square inch) and 80 psi. If you’re reading falls within this range but you’re still convinced your water pressure is too low or high, something else is probably causing the problem.
  1. If the water pressure is below 40psi, check with your town’s water department to see if they’re performing any tasks that might account for a temporary drop in pressure.
  1. If the water pressure is greater than 80psi, the solution could be as simple as replacing rubber hoses with metal-jacketed models on your toilet, sink, and washing machine pipes.
  1. If the water pressure exceeds 100psi, you might need to have a pressure regulator installed to help save you money on potentially costly and recurring plumbing repairs.

If you have neither the time nor the inclination to test your own water pressure, Your 1 Plumber would be happy to do it for you.  Simply contact us today to schedule service, or to report any other plumbing issues you might be facing.

“Should I Repair or Replace My Furnace?”

It’s one thing to talk about replacing a frayed table cloth or an outdoor light fixture.  Neither purchase – among countless others – is going to put much of a dent in your budget.

Replacing your furnace is a whole different story.  Depending on the size of your home, a new furnace can represent a substantial investment in your family’s ongoing comfort and convenience.  The question is, when is the right time to replace it?

Well, here are a few key considerations to keep in mind:

  • blogYour furnace has been designed to last an average of 10-15 years. If yours is within that range already, replacing it now means you have total control over the replacement process vs. being forced to make a quick and perhaps wrong decision; all too often, that’s what happens when people are forced to buy a furnace because the old one has died.
  • Even if you’ve had your furnace faithfully maintained over the years, it’s still not going to last forever. On the flip side, you can expect an earlier demise if it hasn’t been cleaned and inspected from one year to the next by a qualified home heating professional.
  • Did you inherit your current furnace when you bought the house? If so, a word of advice:  if you don’t know how old it is, jot down the serial number and contact the manufacturer to find out.  Then you’ll have a much better idea of what to expect going forward.
  • How much is too much for a furnace repair? If your furnace is getting up there in years and needs major repair work, is it worth it?  Most experts agree that if it costs close to 50% – or more – of a replacement system to have the old one fixed, it makes more sense to replace than repair.

If you’ve had annual preventative maintenance performed on your furnace since year one, great job and keep up the good work.  If not, and you can’t even remember the last time it was serviced, it’s time to call Eagle Service Company for our very thorough furnace cleaning and inspection service.  In the process, we can determine exactly what kind of condition your furnace is in and if it’s likely to make it through winter without costing you an arm and a leg in repairs.  On the other, if it’s still got some life in it, maybe it’s worth hanging onto.  Eagle Service Company: your partner in year-round indoor comfort, and your source for honest and straightforward feedback.

 

How to Prepare Your Home & Plumbing for Winter.

blogWinter takes it out on everyone.

“You think THIS is cold?  Wait ‘til you see what I have in store for you tomorrow,” winter is fond of saying.  Or would be if it could talk.

Well, at Eagle Service Company, it’s our job and pleasure to help you escape winter’s wrath by helping you better protect your plumbing this fall:    

Disconnect garden hoses

Unhook your hoses, then drain and store them in an above-freezing location like your garage.  At the same time, shut off the water valves to your outdoor hose bibbs to prevent freezing and cracking.

Insulate open, unheated spaces and the water pipes inside them

By insulating open spaces – such as a crawl space or garage – you can reduce drafts.  That helps lower your heating bills and reduces the risk of freezing pipes.  For even greater protection, insulate the pipes inside those open spaces.

Inspect your water heater and have it serviced

The last thing you want is to run out of hot water in the winter, which only increases the likelihood of pipes freezing and bursting.  So check for signs of water leaks around the base of your storage tank or in the pan.  Also, have your tank flushed to remove built-up sediment that can corrode your tank’s inner lining or rob it of a good deal of its efficiency.

Clean out your gutters and downspouts

Poor attic insulation causes snow to melt on your roof, and clogged gutters cause melting snow or ice to overflow.  Then, when water freezes, it expands and can tear apart your eaves, roof, and rip whole sections of your gutters right off the house.

Check for hidden water leaks

Any water leak should be repaired as quickly as possible, and yet some are more difficult to locate than others.  So start by pulling your refrigerator away from the wall once a month.  If you see any water on the floor, something’s leaking, and water could be seeping into your floorboards.  Also check inside your attic, under your cabinets, and look for water stains and black mold throughout your home.

Fall is also a great time of year for plumbing and heating system preventative maintenance, two specialties of the house here at Eagle Service Company.  To learn more or request service, contact is today so you’ll have a lot less to worry about this fall and winter.

10 Things You Should Clean More Often

When was the last time you cleaned all the door knobs in your home, or your toothbrush? If your answer falls somewhere between “The 12th of never” and “I’m supposed to do that?” then read on.

When most people think of dirty, germ-infested surfaces, they tend to focus on things and places like public bathrooms and ATMs. But the truth is, dozens of surfaces are harboring dirt and bacteria right in your own home – perhaps the very computer or mobile device you’re using right now being one very good example! Ready to declare war on all that dirt and grime? Here are 10 places to start.

  1. Kitchen sink – Kitchen sinks are said to contain more E. Coli than toilets. So after each time you wash the dishes, spray the sink down with a disinfecting spray.
  1. Door knobs and light switches – Think of all the people who touch these on any given day. Yet they often go overlooked during cleaning.
  1. blogRemote controls – Use a disinfecting wipe to clean all the remotes in your home, including those that control your music system, automatic blinds, and ceiling fans.
  1. Toothbrush – Ideally, you should replace your toothbrush every 6 months, or after any illness. But you can give it a soak in vinegar to keep it clean in between.
  1. The trash can – Wipe it down every time you take out the trash, and give it a thorough cleaning once a month.
  1. Telephones and tablets – Never spray anything directly on your phone or tablet, simply wipe them down with an approved cleaner.
  1. Laundry baskets – Designate one for dirty clothes and one for clean. And wipe the “dirty” one regularly with a disinfecting wipe or wash the liner if it has one.
  1. Refrigerator handles – Wipe these down once a week – or once a day if someone in your home is sick – to kill germs and bacteria.
  1. Dishwasher – Just because it cleans, doesn’t mean it is Place a small dishwasher-safe bowl or mug of vinegar upright on the top rack of an empty dishwasher, and run a hot cycle.
  1. Garbage disposal – Keep it fresh with a mixture of baking soda and vinegar. Sprinkle ¼ cup of baking soda down your disposal, followed by one cup of distilled vinegar. Let it foam up and sit for 10 minutes. Flush with hot water as the disposal is running to clear everything out.

Speaking of your garbage disposal, has yours been acting up lately, or is slow to fully dispose of its contents.  If nothing you’re trying on your own is bearing any fruit, then give us a call:  your local plumbing professionals at Bruce Solomon Plumbing, Heating & Air.