The Fashion of Wearing White and Labor Day

September 1st, 2014

You may have heard about the fashion faux pas of wearing white after Labor Day. In the present, this tradition is usually treated as old fashioned and a joke. Few people will criticize you for wearing white articles of clothing after the first Monday in September, or even take notice of it except to wonder why it was ever a major concern at all.

Where did this tradition of white clothing going out of fashion after Labor Day come from, and why did it fade away like colorful fabric washed in a hot load in the washing machine?

In general, white makes sense for the heat of summer. Light-colored clothing reflects away the radiant heat of the sun, instead of absorbing it the way dark colors do, so for thousands of years of human history people have preferred to wear white clothing during the hotter months.

However, the idea of white as strictly fashionable during the summer season only emerged in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries—the time when the very concept of “fashion” began to spread across the Western Hemisphere.

It was only the highest level of post-Civil War society in the U.S. that strict and often bizarre rules for fashion controlled whether someone was in with the “in” crowd. Compared to our ideas of what’s fashionable today, the Czars of Style in the 1880s were true despots. Things as trivial as sleeve length could determine whether a woman in high society—no matter her level of wealth—was fashionable or a pariah.

Wearing white during the only summer, when it was common for weddings and outdoor parties, was only of these restrictive society rules. When the U.S. government made Labor Day a federal holiday in 1894, the Fashion Czars gained a definite cut-off point for when wearing white was no longer “acceptable” in the upper echelons of wealthy society.

For many decades, this rule only applied to a small number of millionaire socialites in a few big cities, but in the 1950s it reached general fashion magazines that were read around the country and started to affect more people.

But time eventually broke apart this odd rule, and during the 1970s fashion became more individual. Some fashion legends, like Coco Chanel, also purposely rejected the restriction and wore white throughout the year. Today, the “no white after Labor Day rule” is little more than an amusing gag to tease friends, and almost nobody takes it seriously.

Whatever you choose to wear after Labor Day (and if it’s white, we won’t tease!), everyone here at Tuckers Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing hopes you have a happy end of the summer and great plans for the fall!

How Long Does Geothermal Installation Usually Take?

August 20th, 2014

If you have any familiarity with how residential geothermal systems operate, then you may have an image in your head of the installation process: large trenches dug into the ground around your home to lay down a series of refrigerant loops that will harness the stable energy of the earth. It seems like an immense amount of work, and it is. This is why you have to hire trained professionals experienced with handling geothermal installation so the job will get done speedily and with no mistakes.

With Tuckers Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing handling your geothermal installation in North Potomac, MD, you can expect the quality job that will ensure your new geothermal heat pump will work for many years. It’s a small investment in time that will pay off for decades.

But…how much time?

We understand why many people envision that geothermal installation can takes weeks of work to complete. But the process goes fast when professionals handle it.

The planning for geothermal is the part that takes the longest. You need to first have geothermal specialists survey your property and determine if the available space and the soil conditions make installation practical. After that, the installers must decide what type of system will work best (vertical loops, horizontal loops, open loop system, closed loop system) and the layout. This usually takes a week.

Once the actual installation starts, the physical process will usually only last for two days. The time can vary up or down depending on the hardness of the soil and the depth at which the loops must be placed. If you need a vertical loop configuration, which requires deep drilling, the installation may take a day longer than the shallower digging for horizontals loops, which requires larger and more extensive equipment. However, softer soil will make vertical drilling easier. At the most, in extreme conditions, installation could take up to 5 days. But for the most part, you should expect the process to last only 2 days. After that, you’ll have loops that can endure for more than 50 years!

And is it worth it?

Yes! If geothermal specialists identify that your house will benefit from installing a loop system for a heat pump, you will enjoy advantages such as performance that works 3–6 time more efficiently than other heating and cooling systems, and reliable heating through the coldest outdoor temperatures. You will also help the environment with the lowering of emissions.

To get started with geothermal installation in North Potomac, MD, call Tuckers Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing. Schedule an appointment with our geothermal professionals to learn if your property is ideal for a geothermal heating and cooling system.

How New Installations Can Reduce Water Use in Your Bathroom

August 13th, 2014

The bathrooms of your home use more water than any other location in the house, even more than your kitchen. Showers and baths require enormous amounts of water on a daily basis, and toilets can account for 33% of your indoor water use every year. If you are searching for methods to conserve water in your home, you should start with the bathroom.

Installing EPA-approved (WaterSense) low-flow fixtures for your bathroom plumbing in Bethesda, MD is a great way to lower your water use—sometimes by drastic amounts. You will not only save money on your water bills, but you’ll help the environment. Reducing water use in the bathroom will also lower your energy bills, as we’ll explain below.

To get started with water conservation in the bathroom, schedule an appointment with our plumbing team at Tuckers Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing. We can help you find the best options for low-flow installations.

The Water Savings With Low-Flow Fixtures

A bathroom toilet can use between 1.6 to 6 gallons per flush, depending on its age. A WaterSense low-flow toilet only uses 1.28 gallons per flush, a 20% savings over even the most efficient standard model, and without any sacrifice in flushing power. With new installation of a low-flow toilet, you can save 20–60% off your water bills a year and reduce your water use by approximately 13,000 gallons.

Low-flow water faucets lower water use by 30% without any noticeable reduction in quality. According to test done by the EPA, the average faucet uses 2.2 gallons per minute, while a low-flow model uses 1.5 gallons per minute. Accounting for all the bathroom faucets in a home, the average-sized family will save 700 gallons of water per year using low-flow faucets, which is the equal to 40 showers. Replacing the showerheads with low-flow models will give you similar benefits.

How can this also save you on your energy bills? With faucets, and even more so with showers, the reduction in the volume of water when hot water is turned on means the home’s water heater will need to work less, so you can expect lower electric/gas bills, as well as a longer life for the water heater.

Low-flow models do cost more than standard ones to install, but when you consider the savings over their lifetimes, they will payback their price tags many times over.

When you join in the fight for water conservation, you will benefit yourself along with the planet. At Tuckers Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing, we want to assist you with water conservation and savings with new bathroom plumbing installation. Call us today to find out more about low-flow fixtures for your bathroom and other plumbing services in Bethesda, MD that we offer.

Why Hire a Commercial Specialist for Commercial HVAC Services

August 6th, 2014

If you own or manage a commercial property in Rockville, your clients, customers, employees, or tenants are important to you. But if your commercial property is not kept cool in the summer and warm in the winter, you may begin to get complaints. It’s important to maintain your air conditioning and heating system and schedule repairs as soon as possible so that your building is always as comfortable as it can be. However, if you call an HVAC technician with little experience in dealing with commercial systems, you may not get the services you need. This guide details the services offered by commercial technicians and why calling someone experienced for commercial HVAC services is vital.

Commercial Installation/Replacement

Commercial systems are larger and more complicated than residential systems, as they cover a larger area. With any air conditioning system, you need to ensure it is sized properly so that it won’t run into problems later on. With a system that is not the correct size, your business may never reach the desired temperature, or your system may overheat. So many factors go into sizing such a system—such as the number of floors, the needs of the business, the number of occupants, and the building’s insulation—that an inexperienced technician may be incapable of determining the proper size.

Commercial HVAC Repairs

The components of a commercial HVAC system are often combined into one cabinet. These packaged systems may be unfamiliar to some technicians, who may take longer to locate and repair faulty components, leaving you without a working heating or cooling system for a longer period of time.

Commercial HVAC Maintenance

You should call for professional maintenance at least once a year to ensure the system continues to perform well throughout the year. Commercial HVAC maintenance can improve performance, restore efficiency, and prevent the need for repairs. A technician cleans dirty components, adjusts parts, and notifies you of any problems, but an inexperienced technician may be unable to identify crucial repair needs.

For commercial HVAC services in Rockville, trust the experts at Tuckers Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing. Give us a call today!

Common Causes of Bathroom Sink and Shower Clogs

July 30th, 2014

Sink and shower clogs are an unfortunate reality of daily life. Everyone has, at one time or another, needed to deal with the nuisance of a slow drain in a bathtub or a sink that won’t drain at all. Sometimes a basic sink plunger will take care of this problem. At other times, you will need to call in a professional plumber to use a drain snake or hydro-jetter to clear out an obstinate clog.

(By the way, never use chemical drain cleaners on sink or shower clogs. The acidic action of these chemicals is damaging for drainpipes.)

When you need a tough clog eliminated so you can have your shower, bathtub, or sink back in working condition, call Tuckers Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing for bathroom plumbing service in Silver Spring, MD. Our skilled plumbers will be out to your house and have the trouble fixed in no time at all.

Here Are Common Reasons for Bathroom Fixture Clogs

  • Hair: It’s hard to stop hair from going down a bathroom drain, although a drain cover will help. Hair that goes down a drain will get stuck in the sludge that collects in the p-trap (the curve in the pipe under the sink). This will eventually build up into a solid plug.
  • Soap scum: Here’s another material that you will have a hard time keeping from flowing down your drains (again, a drain guard of some type will slow down the amount that enters). Soap scum will start to accumulate along the pipe lining, and not only will this lead to clogging, but it can also cause an acidic reaction that will damage the pipes.
  • Small objects: Be cautious of the items that you place on the ledge of your sink or on the lip of the shower. Small, seemingly unobtrusive items like the caps of bottles can fall into the drain and become lodged there. These are often difficult to remove, and plumbers may have to detach the pipes to clear them. (If the item lodge in the pipe is also valuable, you should definitely call a plumber to retrieve it.)

If you have trouble with clogs on a regular basis, consider calling for drain maintenance. Plumbers will provide your drainpipes with a thorough cleansing that will reduce the occurrence of clogs. Keeping up with regular drain maintenance for your bathroom plumbing in Silver Spring, MD will mean fewer repair hassles in the future and a more pleasant bathroom in general.

Call Tuckers Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing for all of your household plumbing service needs in Silver Spring.

Can I Still Run My Air Conditioner with Low Refrigerant?

July 21st, 2014

Your air conditioner would not be able to cool your home without refrigerant. As long as your air conditioner is turned on, refrigerant cycles throughout your air conditioning system, playing a vital role in heat exchange. The chemical has the ability to change from a gas to a liquid and back again as it reaches the various mechanical parts of your system, absorbing heat from your home and releasing it outdoors.

However, while refrigerant helps heat to dissipate, the refrigerant itself is not supposed to leave your system. If you have low refrigerant levels, it most likely indicates that there is a leak in your system. If you notice signs of low refrigerant levels, turn off your system and call an AC professional today for air conditioning repair in North Potomac, MD today.

Signs of a Refrigerant Leak

Leaks form along the refrigerant line because of corrosion or loose connections. Sometimes, refrigerant leaks are small and may go undetected for long periods of time. However, a hissing sound from your AC system is usually a good indicator of a refrigerant leak. Another sign that you may have a leak is reduced cooling power, since low refrigerant has a significant impact on heat exchange.

The Dangers of Low Refrigerant

Hissing noises and reduced cooling may seem like minor issues, but low refrigerant can cause major damage if you continue to run your system and do not call for air conditioning repair. One risk is that your system will break down when you need it most. Your system is designed to meet a certain refrigerant “charge,” and, if this charge changes, your system cannot keep up.

The compressor increases the pressure of the refrigerant so it can give off heat at the condenser. Loss of refrigerant can cause the compressor to overheat, which may lead to a costly replacement. Low refrigerant may also cause your indoor evaporator coil to freeze, further preventing heat exchange until your system fails entirely.

For professional air conditioning repair in North Potomac, speak to an AC specialist at Tuckers Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing and let us help you get your AC up and running again. Give us a call today to set up a service appointment!

Causes of Backflow in Your Plumbing

July 15th, 2014

Backflow is a serious issue in plumbing that can lead to contamination of a home’s drinking water. Unlike blockages, which simply stop the flow of wastewater down pipes, backflow is the active movement of wastewater up into the fresh water supply, which occurs either because of excess pressure on sewer side, or a drop in pressure on the fresh water side.

Backflow testing can determine if your plumbing is suffering from this problem, and the plumbers who perform the testing will have solutions to stop it. Call Tuckers Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing: we care about your health, and we will send a plumber in Bethesda, MD to see if you need our backflow prevention services.

Why Backflow Might Occurring in Your Plumbing

Understanding backflow requires understanding some of the basics of home plumbing. Most sewage removal systems in homes rely on gravity and ventilation to carry wastewater from a home. However, the fresh water that enters your home is pressurized. Should the balance between these two change—pressure develops in the wastewater system, pressure drops in the fresh water system, or a combination of both—it will result in waste material forcing its way back up into the freshwater pipes.

A common reason for a loss of pressure on the supply side is due to an issue in the municipal system such as a break in a water main or a large amount of water used for firefighting. The pressure drop from this loss of water will suction up wastewater into the drinking water system. This is known as back siphonage.

If the pressure of the wastewater system increases above that of the fresh water system, it is called backpressure. This can occur because of problems inside the sewer system, or a break along the sewer line that leads from your house. If there is already reduced pressure from the supply side, it will not require much rise in pressure from the sewer system to cause backpressure backflow.

What Can Be Done to Prevent Backflow

Air gaps built into your plumbing helps prevent siphonage, but this is often not sufficient. If a technician determines that your plumbing is suffering from backflow, there are a number of methods to deal with it. The most effective is a backflow preventer that uses a check valve to make sure that wastewater can only move one direction and cannot force itself back up a pipe. A backflow preventer must receive professional installation so that it works with your plumbing; do not attempt to install a backflow preventer yourself.

Tuckers Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing offers full services to install and maintain a backflow preventer if your house requires one. Give us a call and talk to an expert plumber in Bethesda, MD today to schedule backflow testing to see if we can assist you with protecting your drinking water.

Fan Motor Problems in Your Air Conditioning System

July 10th, 2014

Your air conditioner has many components that must be in good working order to keep you cool all summer long. Parts are likely to fail from time to time, and repairs are a necessary part of owning an air conditioner. One part that may sometimes run into problems is the condenser fan motor. An air conditioning professional can tell you the exact source of the problem with your AC, but there are some signs that the condenser fan motor may be the culprit.

In order to work properly, your air conditioner must be able to remove heat from your home and transfer it outdoors. One of the components used to do this is the condenser coil located in the outdoor unit of a split AC system. A fan blows air over the condenser coil, and the heat from indoors is released into the outside air. If the fan does not run properly due to a motor problem, heat exchange cannot take place.

If anything causes the fan motor to work improperly, it can overheat. Just a small amount of dust can interfere with the motor and cause it to malfunction. If your AC unit does not provide you with cool air, it may mean the fan motor has stopped working.

Another sign that your condenser’s fan motor is not working properly is a buzzing or grinding sound coming from your outside condenser unit. This often indicates that something has interfered with the system or that your motor has worn down and needs replacement.

If you hear loud noises coming from your outdoor unit, turn it off and contact an HVAC professional. Never try to replace a motor on your own. Your AC unit needs a fan motor of a specific size and speed, and a trained professional is the best person to find this part and install it without risking further damage to your AC.

At Tuckers Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing, our USA Maintenance Plan can help you avoid sudden fan motor problems with maintenance visits twice a year and discounts on all repairs. To learn more about air conditioning services in Rockville, MD, call us today!

The Famous Painting of the Declaration of Independence Isn’t What You Think It Is

July 4th, 2014

If you grew up in the United States, you probably first saw John Trumbull’s painting of the Signing of the Declaration of Independence in an elementary schoolbook. This oil-on-canvas 12’ x 18’ painting hangs in the rotunda of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. It is one of the most famous symbols of freedom in the country and almost every citizen can conjure it from memory.

Except… the painting isn’t of the singing of the Declaration of Independence. The actual title of the work is Declaration of Independence, and although it does portray an important moment in the history of the document that announced the Thirteen Colonies’ decision to break away from British rule, the event in the painting occurred on June 28, 1776, not July 4, 1776.

John Trumbull, a Connecticut native who fought in the Revolutionary War and whose father was the state governor, was commissioned to create the painting in 1817. He did painstaking research on the figures in the picture and also visited Independence Hall to see the actual chamber where the Second Continental Congress met. Trumbull only included 42 of the original 56 signers, because he could not find adequate likenesses for 14 or them, and added a few figures who were not present (most of whom declined to sign the actual document). In fact, the men depicted in the painting had never been present in the same room at one time.

So if the painting does not portray the signing of the Declaration of Independence, what is happening in the image? The Trumbull’s scene depicts the presentation of the draft of the declaration to the Continental Congress for editing and approval. The five-man drafting committee (John Adams, Roger Sherman, Robert R. Livingston, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin) is handing over their finished work, which congress would then edit carefully over the next few days before voting on it and signing it on the day that we now celebrate as the start of the United States of America.

One last, odd, fact: two of the five-man drafting committee, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, both died on July 4th—although many years later.

Our family at Tuckers Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing hopes that your Fourth of July (or Twenty-Eighth of June if you decided to start celebrating early) is a memorable and happy one.

What Is Clogging My Kitchen Sink?

June 27th, 2014

Sink clogs are unfortunately a common occurrence in kitchens; even kitchens with the best regular maintenance and cleaning done on their plumbing can experience an accident that will result in a slow sink drain or even a full blockage. Professional plumbers can help clear out your drains no matter the problem—although some types of clogs are worse problems than others.

Here are a few common reasons you may encounter clogs in your kitchen plumbing that our team at Tuckers Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing can fix. We offer quality plumbing service in North Potomac, MD that will help keep your kitchen’s plumbing and the plumbing in the rest of your house in top shape.

Common Reasons for Kitchen Sink Clogs

  • Fat, oil, and grease (FOG): These three substances, commonly used in cooking and food preparation, are the #1 enemy of sink drains. When FOG is in hot, liquid form, people tend to think it offers no potential to harm pipes­—no worse than any other liquid. But FOG only remains in liquid form when it’s hot. After cooling down, FOG changes into a solid: waxy and tough. This will start to coat the insides of your drainpipes, and eventually will cause clogs and a dangerous increase in water pressure. Plumbers can use scouring technology to clear out FOG deposits. You can also take steps to keep from pouring these substances down your drains and instead place them in separate receptacles for the trash.
  • Soap scum: This is a common foe of kitchen and bathroom sinks. Soap does not often wash down a drainpipe completely, and it leaves behind a residue that can release acid into the pipes and create damage. This soap scum will also start to close off the drains and trigger clogs. Full drain cleaning services are often necessary to eliminate soap scum build-up.
  • Sewer line problems: Here is one of the more serious troubles that can assault your plumbing. You may notice it in your sink first, but sewer lines breaks or blocks will eventually cause clogs throughout your plumbing, and will lead to worse problems with sewage back-up in your house’s foundations. If the blocks in your sink are accompanied by foul odors and gurgling sounds, then you may have a sewer line issue and must call for professionals immediately.

When you encounter a kitchen sink clog, you should try to remove it using a plunger if you have one handy. Plungers are safe for your pipes and easy to use. If the sink plunger does not work, don’t resort to any other home remedy or store bought chemicals for clogs; most of these will damage the pipes. Call Tuckers Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing instead and look to our assistance with your kitchen plumbing in North Potomac, MD.