Bethesda Plumbing Tip: Avoid Putting these Items Down the Drain

February 26th, 2015

When you have a plumbing system in need of repair, it’s never convenient. Plumbing issues can occur in the middle of the night, right before you planned to leave for work, or in the middle of a dinner party. The best way to keep such problems from occurring is to keep your plumbing system maintained. Schedule regular maintenance and drain cleaning with a professional, and keep your drains maintained by keeping certain items out of the drain.

You probably know to keep non-food items, like cigarette butts and plastic wrappers, out of the kitchen sink. The garbage disposal simply cannot process these items, and you may end up with drain clogs or a defunct disposal unit. But you should also avoid these common food items, many of which can be detrimental to your plumbing.

  • Fats, Oils, and Grease: This is perhaps the substance that most surprises homeowners when we inform them of its potential effects. These solidify when they cool down, and when they do so in the pipes, clogs occur. Additional debris collects until you have a major clog on your hand that requires professional repair.
  • Hard Food Items: Of course, you should avoid large hard food waste like meat bones, as these will stop the disposal and may put unnecessary strain on the motor. But you should also avoid smaller hard food items like popcorn kernels.
  • Fibrous Foods: This category includes things like celery and potato skins, which are difficult to break up and may get wrapped around the impeller, slowing down the disposal motor.
  • Expandable Foods: Even something as seemingly innocuous as spaghetti could cause trouble for your drains. But expandable foods like rice and pasta may expand in the pipes, stopping the drains and allowing waste to backup into your home.

Schedule drain cleaning with a professional if you’d like to make sure that your plumbing system is in good condition. A plumber will inspect your drains and use special equipment to pull out clogs and clear out the lining of the pipes. Call Tuckers Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing for quality plumbing services in Bethesda.

How Long Should I Expect to Wait for New Boiler Installation?

February 25th, 2015

If you need a new heating system, a boiler is an ideal choice. Boilers contain few mechanical parts, which means they are less prone to breakdowns than forced air heating systems. They also have a longer lifespan than furnaces, and run more efficiently in many cases. Besides, most homeowners who have a hydronic (radiant) heating system in place describe their homes as more comfortable than those with furnaces.

Radiant heating systems transfer heat to the people and objects in the room, not just into the air. This keeps you warmer, distributes heat more evenly, and heat is retained for longer. Hot water moves from the boiler tank to a series of pipes underneath the floorboards if you have an in-floor radiant heating system. Or, pipes lead to a terminal unit like a radiator or baseboard heater.

There are many different ways a boiler can be set up, and it must be sized properly for the space it is heating. Before installation, a technician must visit your home to assess the size and determine what steps must be taken during installation.

You should expect that the boiler installation process will take at least a day. The actual length of time will vary depending on a lot of factors. It may only take one day if you already have the piping system in place. However, it will take much longer if the technician has to install new pipes, terminal units, and a boiler. In some cases, renovations are necessary in order to accommodate this new installation.

In general, a better question to ask is this: have I chosen professionals for the job? When you have professionals handle your new installation, it will take a long time, but this is because they must take their time with every step of the process to ensure safety, efficiency, and proper operation. Many professionals will provide you with a temporary unit while you wait for the job to be completed so that you don’t have to worry about being without heat overnight.

Schedule an appointment by calling Tuckers Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing today for quality heating installation in Gaithersburg from experts you can trust.

Types of Ignition for Gas Furnaces

February 18th, 2015

Igniting a furnace is a process for your heating system, and the reason it is a process is to ensure safety while the fuel is released and lit. Technology has helped improve the ignition process over the years, and the result is that there are two main types of ignition for gas (and other combustion) furnaces.

First Type: Standing Pilot

Standing pilot ignition is the oldest type of ignition, and furnaces aren’t manufactured with this type of ignition anymore. We’ll explain why, but let’s first take a look at how a standing pilot works. As you can tell from the name, the standing pilot is a pilot light that stays lit continuously. To make sure the pilot is always lit, a furnace with a standing pilot has a small, dedicated gas valve that always has gas flowing; it also has a small component called a thermocouple that monitors the pilot light to make sure it is lit and viable. When the thermostat calls for heat, the thermocouple checks the pilot light, and if all is well, the thermocouple allows the main gas line to open so that the standing pilot can light the burner. So why aren’t standing pilot ignition systems part of today’s furnaces? Furnaces operate in cycles, so having a dedicated gas line open continuously can be a big waste of fuel, which is why this type of ignition is no longer used by manufacturers.

Second Type: Electronic Ignition

Today’s furnaces are equipped with an electronic ignition system, and there are two types of electronic ignition: intermittent pilot and hot surface ignition. While both types are used, hot surface ignition is installed more often than intermittent pilot.

The two ignitions achieve the same goal of lighting your furnace’s burner, but each does it differently. An intermittent pilot uses a pilot light that is lit only when your thermostat calls for heat. A dedicated small gas line is lit with an electronic spark and then the burner is lit. With a hot surface igniter, a small metal probe heats via electricity, and when the igniter becomes hot enough, it ignites the gas inside the burner.

It isn’t unusual to experience a problem with the ignition in your gas furnace, but it is never a good idea to try and repair these problems on your own. The experts at Tuckers Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing can help you service your gas furnace in the Rockville area, so call us at the first sign of problems. Give us a call today!

Are There Ways to Prevent Unnecessary Heating Repair?

February 16th, 2015

Heating systems are mechanical units, so at some point during your ownership of one, it is likely that you’ll have to schedule heating repair for your heating system at least once. While there isn’t a guaranteed way to prevent all heating repair that may develop with your system, there are ways to help reduce the incidence of repair that you may experience over your system’s lifetime.

Tips to Help Prevent Repair

Here are some simple tips from some of our Tuckers Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing experts that may help prevent unnecessary repairs for your heating system:

Change the Air Filter

It is such a simple task that it can be easily overlooked, but a dirty air filter can wreak havoc on your system’s operation. Why? Your heating system requires a certain amount of air flow to work properly, and a clogged and dirty air filter can seriously restrict the air flow. When this happens in furnaces, you may see low heat flow and even shutdown; in a heat pump system, you may see icing on the coils. It’s recommended that the air filter is changed every 3 months in order to keep your system working well.

Schedule Annual Maintenance

An annual maintenance visit is a full tune-up of your system. During a maintenance appointment, your system is thoroughly inspected for problems, components are cleaned and lubricated, and small adjustments are made, such as tightening a loose fan belt. Maintenance helps prevent repairs by getting ahead of potential problems.

Don’t Ignore Strange Sounds or Smells

As the homeowner, you are familiar with the normal working sounds of your heating system, and overall, there shouldn’t be any kind of odor that accompanies your heater’s operation. As such, if you hear strange sounds, or start to smell something that seems off, don’t ignore it; instead, call an expert for help.

Taking these simple steps can help prevent or get you ahead of potential problems that may develop with your heating system. If you need to schedule a maintenance or repair appointment for your heating system in Gaithersburg, call the people you can trust: Tuckers Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing.

Some of the Unusual Movies Released for Valentine’s Day

February 14th, 2015

Hollywood has always tried to match movies up to the seasons to draw droves of viewers to the theaters: October is packed with fright-offerings, while the winter holidays skew toward warm and pleasing family films (as well as Oscar hopefuls). Valentine’s Day falls in an odd spot when it comes to the movie release calendar, however, since February tends to be a slower time for the film industry. The studios are as likely to slot strange movies that don’t fit anywhere else in their annual schedules into the Valentine’s Day weekend as they are films with powerful romantic appeal.

So, while the second weekend of February has featured hugely successful romantic comedies like Hitch, The Wedding Singer, and (of course) Valentine’s Day, some truly weird choices have debuted in this weekend as well. And a few have even gone on to tremendous success despite the bizarre match with the holiday. Here are a couple of the odder Valentine’s Day movie releases:

  • Dracula (1931): Yes, this Halloween perennial and the start of Universal Studio’s Classic Monsters actually came out on Valentine’s Day! But perhaps this makes some sense, as the Dracula legend has often received a “doomed lover” approach in the many years since Bela Lugosi made the aristocratic vampire a screen icon.
  • The Silence of the Lambs (1991): Does any film seem less appropriate for Valentine’s Day than this unnerving and sometimes very violent psychological thriller? What’s even more astonishing than the film’s release date is that The Silence of the Lambs eventually nabbed the Oscar for Best Picture, an almost unheard of occurrence for a movie released so early in the year.
  • Daredevil (2003): This Marvel comic adaptation featuring Ben Affleck as a blind superhero does contain a romantic subplot, but the stronger connection to Valentine’s Day may just be that Daredevil wears a bright red costume.
  • A Good Day to Die Hard (2013): The least successful of the Die Hard film franchise, this is an excellent example of a studio dropping a film into a weekend where it doesn’t fit in the hopes that it works as counter-programming. (It didn’t.)
  • Wayne’s World (1992): Now here is an example of counter-programming that clicked with audiences. This comedy based on a Saturday Night Live sketch turned into one of that year’s biggest hits and spawned a sequel.

Whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day with a trip to the movie theater, or you have your own special plans, everyone here at Tuckers Air Conditioning & Heating hopes you and your loved ones have a wonderful weekend.

How Much Water Does a Leaky Faucet Waste?

February 13th, 2015

Most people would agree that leaky faucets are annoying. Despite the widespread agreement on that point, however, far too many people simply ignore leaky faucets rather than having them fixed. The general attitude is that while a leaky faucet is mildly inconvenient, it doesn’t have any significant or lasting impact, and is therefore easy to dismiss. This is, in fact, not true. Leaky faucets actually have a tremendous impact, not only on the environment but on you personally. Let’s take a look at how much water a leaky faucet actually wastes.

One Drop at a Time

The reason that so many people disregard leaky faucets is because they look at them from an in-the-moment perspective. If you look at a faucet that leaks one drop of water every few seconds, you probably wouldn’t think much of it. However, the impact that faucets have is measured over a much longer period of time. Let’s assume that you have a single leaky faucet in your home that drips once every minute. That’s an extremely conservative estimate compared to most leaky faucets, which tend to drip much faster. Even so, that one faucet will waste approximately 34 gallons of water a year. Now, let’s say that the faucet drips once every 2 seconds, or thirty times a minute. That adds up to around 1,041 gallons a year. A leaky faucet can easily waste more water than it takes to fill a swimming pool each year.

The Environmental Protection Agency has estimated that the average household wastes more than 10,000 gallons of water per year due to various leaks. That has a very real impact on the environment, but it also wastes a lot of money. All those thousands of gallons of water are still going to show up on your water bill, even though you didn’t notice them being used. If you want to save some money on your home’s utilities, get your leaky faucets fixed before they cost you.

If you have a leaky faucet, schedule an appointment by calling Tuckers Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing. We provide professional kitchen plumbing services throughout the North Potomac.

What Are Pinhole Leaks?

February 4th, 2015

When you think about threats to your plumbing system, leaks are probably the first things that come to mind. You would be correct to assume that leaks are capable of causing an immense amount of damage to a plumbing system, especially if a pipe cracks or ruptures. However, you would be wrong to assume that most damaging leaks are big or easily noticeable. In fact, the most dangerous leaks are the ones that are virtually undetectable to the untrained eye. These virtually invisible threats are called “pinhole leaks.” Let’s take a look at what pinhole leaks are, why they are such a threat, and what you can do to stop them.

What is a Pinhole Leak?

A pinhole leak is a leak that is so small as to only release a few droplets of water, instead of a stream or torrent. They are called such because they are usually no larger than the head of a pin, which is what makes them so difficult to detect. A pinhole leak is like a dripping faucet. It doesn’t seem like it’s wasting much water, only a few drops here and there. Those drops add up quickly, however, and before long you’ve lost thousands of gallons of water to a faucet that you refused to fix. Pinhole leaks are even worse than dripping faucets, though, because they are both hidden from sight much of the time and located in areas that are not meant to be exposed to water.

What Causes Pinhole Leaks?

Honestly, no one knows for certain. There are many theories about the cause of pinhole leaks, but no one has ever been able to conclusively point to a factor that directly contributes to it. What we do know is that pinhole leaks are the result of pitted corrosion, where a pipe will actually corrode from the outside inward. Beyond that, it’s a mystery.

Why are Pinhole Leaks so Damaging?

As mentioned above, pinhole leaks are bad news because they’re hard to detect, and located in areas that can be seriously damaged by exposure to water. Plumbing pipes often run through walls, where they are within reach of insulation and support studs. Even a minor flow of water, over a long enough period of time, can rot out the area and weaken the wall. This is why you need to be so vigilant with plumbing maintenance, because if you aren’t there’s a good chance that something small like a pinhole leak will cause quite a bit of damage.

If you haven’t had your plumbing checked in a while, schedule an appointment with the experts at Tuckers Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing. We provide professional plumbing repair services in the Bethesda area.

When Should I Schedule Commercial HVAC Repair for My System?

January 30th, 2015

Commercial HVAC systems (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) are large and complex, which means it may be difficult for you to detect when a small problem has occurred. Besides, if your own or manage a commercial property, you may be very busy on a day-to-day basis, so you might not always be attuned to details like the condition of the heater and AC. However, it’s important to keep an eye on your HVAC system in order to prevent a costly replacement, which could take quite a toll on your business. Learn the signs that you need commercial HVAC repair in Bethesda in our guide.

Schedule Service after the Very First Complaint!

One sure way to tell that your HVAC equipment is in trouble is when your employees, clients, customers, and/or tenants begin to complain. You may be tempted to wait until the problem becomes more serious if it sounds as though the HVAC system is still functioning on some level. However, you should keep in mind that when one component of a heating or air conditioning system is not working quite right, all of the other components may slowly become worn down until the repair need is suddenly far more costly. Call an expert whenever those on your property point out strange noises, reduced heating and cooling, or any other strange behavior.

High Energy Bills

If your system is running inefficiently, it means that at least one of the components is not in the best shape possible. A dirty coil, broken safety component, or slow fan can all cause your unit to run for longer periods of time, raising your utilities. Check your bills for any sign of unusual changes that could indicate a broken HVAC system.

After a Maintenance Visit

One of the easiest ways to find out whether there is anything wrong with your system is to schedule regular commercial HVAC maintenance. During a maintenance visit, your technician will inspect your entire system and can let you know if anything is in need of urgent repair, even if it hasn’t shown any obvious signs of failure yet. They’ll also clean and adjust some of the most important parts so that your unit has a better chance of running smoothly for the rest of the year.

Call Tuckers Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing to schedule maintenance or commercial HVAC repair service in Bethesda today.

Do Gas Furnaces Pose Any Serious Safety Risks?

January 29th, 2015

Gas furnaces, well, any gas-burning system really, work with some pretty dangerous materials every time they start up. Byproducts of the combustion of natural gas include some extremely toxic gases, like carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide. The reason this isn’t a big deal most of the time is that gas furnaces are designed to safely dispose of these materials before they can harm anyone. However, there are a few cases where a malfunctioning gas furnace can pose serious safety risk. Let’s take a look at these issues, and how you can identify them. That way, you’ll know when to call a professional as soon as possible.

Blocked Exhaust Flue

The exhaust flue is a part that extends from the heat exchanger up through the exterior wall or roof of the house and out into the open air. It serves only one purpose: to remove those combustion byproducts which are dangerous to the home’s occupants. Once the combustion gases reach the open air outside, they quickly disperse and become harmless. If the exhaust flue becomes blocked in any way, however, things can get unsafe pretty quickly.

Normally, blockages in the exhaust flue are caused by debris of some kind being blown into the flue. On occasion, a bird may even build its nest in the vent. If the flue becomes blocked, it forces all of those gases back down into the furnace and out into the home.

Cracked Heat Exchanger

The heat exchanger connects the burner assembly to the exhaust flue. It is responsible for both warming the air being circulated through the home and directing the combustion gases into the exhaust flue. As the warm air containing the combustion gases rises up from the burners, the heat radiates through the walls of the heat exchanger and into the home’s air supply. The gases remain trapped in the heat exchanger, and travel to the exhaust flue.

The problem that often occurs here is when the heat exchanger cracks, often from the stress of the heat it is exposed to over years of use. When this happens, there is a small chance that the combustion gases will escape into the air being circulated through the home.

It is important to remember that these problems only rarely occur, and only without regular maintenance to make sure the system is working properly. If you haven’t had your furnace checked in a while, call Tuckers Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing to schedule an appointment. We provide professional heating services in the North Potomac area.

Tankless vs. Storage Tank Water Heaters: Making the Best Choice

January 20th, 2015

For a long time, the only kind of water heater available was of the storage tank variety. This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it did mean that water heaters were rather limited in their options for homeowners who may have wanted something different. With the advent of tankless heaters, a debate has been sparked over which type of water heater is the best choice. Truthfully, that depends more on your individual circumstances than any general, objective assessment. However, there are a few things that can indicate that you should choose one or the other. Let’s take a look at the inner workings of each of these systems, and the areas in which each of them excel.

Storage Tank Water Heaters

Storage tank water heaters are a much older technology, but they are still quite capable of doing their jobs well. A storage tank water heater consists of a large, water filled tank, as you might have guessed. The tank is full of water at all times, with more being pumped in each time water leaves the system.

Storage tank water heaters can store and distribute a lot of hot water, which is a good thing. However, they aren’t very efficient. The water heater basically has to be on 24 hours a day to ensure that hot water is always available, which wastes a lot of energy. They are also susceptible to leaks, which can cause the tank to rupture and deal water damage to the surrounding area.

Tankless Water Heaters

Tankless water heaters are an attempt to solve for the storage tank water heater’s energy efficiency problems. A tankless water heater is basically connected directly to the house water line. When the water heater is turned on, it heats the water directly as it flows through the line and into the house. A tankless water heater doesn’t store water, and only turns on when it is needed. This saves a lot of money on energy bills. However, a tankless water heater can be more easily overwhelmed if there is a lot of demand for hot water all at once. If you have a lot of people living in your house, you may want to consider staggering your hot water demand so that someone doesn’t end up taking an unwanted cold shower.

To schedule an appointment or if you’d like to know more, call Tuckers Air Conditioning, Heating, & Plumbing today. We provide water heater installation service throughout Rockville.