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.

Causes of Reduced Cooling Capacity in Your Air Conditioner

June 20th, 2014

During a summer in Bethesda, you’ll depend on your home’s air conditioning system to carry you through many hot days. If your AC has received regular maintenance and is still in the prime of its lifespan, it shouldn’t give you many problems during the season. But even with the finest care, an air conditioner will sometimes encounter malfunctions that will reduce the amount of cooling it will send into a home.

When you notice that the rooms of your house are not getting as cool as they should, it’s time to contact the team at Tuckers Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing for air conditioning repair service in Bethesda, MD that will restore your comfortable home. We have NATE-certified technicians on staff to see that you receive only the finest trained work on your AC.

A loss in cooling capacity can come from a variety of sources. Here are a few of the ones you might encounter:

Thermostat Issues

A common reason for air conditioners to start to fail to live up to their cooling ability is not a problem within the ACs themselves, but a problem within the thermostat units that control them. It only takes a small miscalibration in temperature sensing in the thermostat to make it begin to shut the compressor off too early and create reduced cooling in a home. Repair technicians will check the thermostat first to see if it is the cause of the misbehaving air conditioner.

Problems in the Outdoor Fan

The fan inside the outdoor condenser isn’t responsible for sending air through the ventilation system, so if it malfunctions you won’t notice a drop in airflow. However, the outdoor fan is crucial for the heat exchange cycle, where the outdoor coil must release the heat from indoors to the outside. Without the fan pulling outdoor air across the hot coil to cause the heat release, the whole heat exchange cycle will be reduced, and the indoor cooling level will also drop. Technicians must find out if the fan is suffering because of motor issues, falling capacitors, or damage to its blades.

Indoor Coil Icing

If the indoor evaporator coil starts to ice over, it will prevent the coil from properly absorbing heat from the inside and lower the cooling capacity. Icing can happen because of a drop in refrigerant due to leaking, grime along the coil, or a clogged air filter. Whatever the reason for the ice to develop, the problem must be addressed quickly or the system could suffer serious damage aside from losing cooling capacity.

Don’t “tolerate” a reduction in cooling capacity due to a malfunctioning air conditioner. Give us a call today and speak with one of our qualified HVAC technicians regarding air conditioning service in Bethesda, MD right away, since this problem will not somehow miraculously fix itself. The excellent team at Tuckers Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing is ready to help you regain the cool temperatures you expect.

Never Put These Items Down a Garbage Disposal

June 13th, 2014

Garbage disposals are among the most convenient of devices in a modern kitchen. However, we sometimes rely on them too much and start to place objects down them that don’t belong there. As durable as manufacturers build garbage disposals, these machines can’t cope with everything, and too much mistreatment will lead to a mechanical breakdown or serious clog.

Here is a short but helpful guide to items that you should never place down your kitchen’s garbage disposal. Following these instructions will make your kitchen plumbing in Rockville, MD healthier. But should you ever need plumbing repairs of any kind, call on the dependable services of Tuckers Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing. We are proud to be the only contractor who offers a 15 year parts & labor guarantee.

Do not put the following down your garbage disposal!

  • Liquid fat, oil, or grease: These three liquids, which we’ll call “FOG,” are major enemies of all drains, not just garbage disposals. Although seemingly harmless when in hot liquid form, they all change into waxy, thick solids when they dry. This can easily jam up the mechanical parts of a garbage disposal, causing it to repeatedly trip its “reset” switch and eventually burn out its motor. Remove all FOG to a separate receptacle and then place it in the trash.
  • Un-chewable food items: Not all food can go down a garbage disposal. The teeth of the grind ring cannot rip through every bit of organic material sent down into the chamber. Here’s a good rule of thumb: “If your teeth can’t chew it, then the garbage disposal’s teeth can’t either.” Place chicken bones, un-popped popcorn kernels, eggshells, pit, and seeds in the trash.
  • Actual trash: Despite the name “garbage” in the title, actual paper and plastic refuse should never go into the garbage disposal. These objects will easily jam up the mechanical parts.
  • Rice and pasta: These may seem innocent enough… but both of them swell in water. If noodles and rice become stuck inside the disposal, they will continue to swell and can eventually stop the disposal from working.
  • Coffee grounds: This one might surprise people, but the tiny particles of coffee grounds will start to build up inside the pipes (the disposal does nothing to cut them down) and begin to trap other food particles.
  • Your hand: We hope this would seem obvious, but please do not put your hand down into the disposal to try to unjam it! This is a standard safety precaution. If the disposal is experiencing problems, call for plumbers to take care of it in safety.

Most garbage disposal issues are basic ones for trained plumbers to remedy. Call Tuckers Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing to handle the next jam you experience with your plumbing service in Rockville, MD.

3 Things to Consider With a New Air Conditioner

June 6th, 2014

No one wants to consider buying a new air conditioner, but sooner or later, your old unit is bound to give up the ghost. You can delay the day with regular maintenance and similar care, however, and when the time arrives to install a new system, you can apply that same thoughtfulness in selecting a new model. When it comes to air conditioning installation, Bethesda, MD residents have a number of professional services they can count on for good advice.  Here are 3 things to consider with a new air conditioner, things you should be sure and discuss with your technician beforehand.

  • SEER Rating. SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, and it measures how efficient your system is. The higher the rating, the more energy your system will apply directly to cooling your home. Ideally, you should pick up a system with a SEER rating higher than your existing system, and in any case you should select the most efficient system within your budget.
  • Power load. Every air conditioning unit is designed to support a certain power load, which needs to match your space precisely. Too little power and the AC won’t cool your home. Too much and it will cycle on and off rapidly, costing you energy and unnecessary strain in the process. You need a system that is balanced against the square footage in your home, as well as other factors like insulation and sunlight exposure. Proper calculations on this front could save you hundreds of dollars a year in saved energy.
  • Upgrades. A new system is an ideal time to add energy-saving upgrades to your system, such as zone control systems that let you shut of cool air to parts of the house you aren’t using.

You need to consider things like these in relation to your budget and to the needs of your home. If you’re looking for a reliable partner to help guide you through your new air conditioning installation in Bethesda, MD, you have an ideal service in Tuckers Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing. We have the skills and experience to help you right sand install the right system for you, so give us a call today!

Some Common Plumbing Repairs for Bathroom Toilets

May 30th, 2014

Toilets are an essential of daily life, but in general we don’t like to think about these useful items much. But when a toilet experiences problems, it becomes imperative to think about it and call for repairs as fast as possible. Please don’t try to tinker with the inside of the toilet tank to solve possible problems! You might make the situation even worse. Instead, call up Tuckers Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing. We can take care of your bathroom plumbing in North Potomac, MD—as well as any other plumbing problems you might encounter.

Toilet plumbing repairs we often perform

  • Replacing the wax ring seal: One of the areas of greatest concern for leaking in a toilet is at the base, where it seals onto the floor. A key part of this seal is a wax ring underneath the base, out of sight. Should this wax ring deteriorate, it can cause water to start to escape and leak onto the floor. These leaks are especially hazardous because they can weaken the floor material, and in extreme cases will cause the toilet to plunge through the floor! When you see leaks developing around the base of your toilet, call for plumbers right away. They will pry up the toilet, replace the wax ring, and then re-seal the toilet to the floor.
  • Replacing a worn-down flapper: If your toilet starts to run continuously, which is an enormous waste of water, the issue might be a decaying rubber flapper inside the tank. This flapper controls when water moves from the tank and into the bowl. If it starts to deteriorate due to age, it will lose its seal and water will leak from the tank continuously, and the tank will constantly draw more water from the main feed to fill up again. Have a plumber locate the right sized flapper and replace the older one.
  • Bowl replacement: This is one of the larger repairs that a toilet can need, but it is sometimes necessary. If you notice water dripping out of the bowl from what seems like a crack, and the water level of the bowl has dropped, call for a plumber to look into it. If the problem comes from a crack in the bowl, or a crack in the interior colon or piping in the bowl, there is usually no other option except to have a new bowl installed—a job you should definitely leave to an experienced plumber.

You can trust Tuckers Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing with your bathroom plumbing. We also offer free estimates on replacement equipment, free second opinions, and a variety of other plumbing services in North Potomac, MD. Make us your first call to solve all your plumbing woes. Contact us today.

What are the Stages of New Plumbing Installation

May 23rd, 2014

New plumbing can be a big undertaking, but with the right contractor and a lot of planning, you can create the kitchen or bathroom of your dreams with it. When it comes to plumbing installation, Rockville MD homes are each unique, and no one project is going to be exactly like any other. But a good plumber can steer you in the right direction, and it helps if you understand the basic steps that may be involved into the process. What are the stages of new plumbing installation? A basic breakdown can be found below.

  • The plumber performs measurements for all of the planned pipelines: charting a path through the walls, floor and ceiling as well as factoring in removal of drywall, floor tiles and the like.
  • The plumber ascertains where the new plumbing will connect to any existing plumbing, and whether the new system will require any valves, seals or the like.
  • The plumber measures the square footage required for new, sinks, toilets or similar appliances, making sure that not only that the space is properly fitted, but that the counter top and/or floor can support the weight.
  • The plumber shuts off the water main to the section to be expanded (and if necessary, the entire house.)
  • The plumber lays down plastic sheeting to protect as much of the surrounding area as possible.
  • The plumber opens up the path to be used by the new piping: cutting away drywall, lifting tiles and the like.
  • The plumber installs the new piping, taking care that all of the seals and connections are firm.
  • The plumber installs any appliances involved in the expansion, including toilets and sinks.
  • The plumber connects the appliances to the piping.
  • The plumber seals the appliances in place with grouting, then turns the water back on and tests to see if everything is functioning.
  • The plumber restores the tiles, seals up the drywall and otherwise returns the space to its former condition.

For more on the stages of new plumbing installation, give us a call today. When it comes to plumbing installation in Rockville, MD, residents can’t do better than Tucker’s Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing!