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Tuesday, 24 October 2017 19:11

How to Drain a Home Plumbing System

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There are several reasons you may need to drain your home's plumbing system. You may have a vacation home that will be unoccupied during the winter months, and the water needs to be drained to prevent damage from frozen pipes. You may be undertaking a major plumbing, repair, or you need to drain the lines to fix water hammer or another issue.

1. The first step is to locate the main water shut-off valve. This is usually located near the water meter.

2. Next, go to the highest floor in the house and open the sink faucets.

3. In the basement or lowest level of the home, open the laundry tub faucet.

4. Return the the top floor of the house and turn on the shower and tub drains.

5. Next, flush the toilets on every floor.

6. All the faucets should be left open and the water should be drained now.

Need help draining your plumbing system? Call Gibson's Heating and Plumbing. We can help with all your plumbing and drain needs.
One of the major causes of damaging water leaks in the home is from a failed washing machine supply hose. If the washer is on an upper level of the home, it can lead to major flooding and many thousands of dollars of damage – an expense that may not be covered by homeowner's insurance.  If your washer hoses are plain rubber, we recommend that you replace them with braided stainless hoses for extra security.

Water Alarms

Because water leaks often go undetected, stopping the leak early is essential. That's where a water alarm can be invaluable. A water alarm can detect even the smallest water leak and send a signal to shut off the hot and cold water supply valves to the washing machine. 

Another application where water alarms can prevent a water leak disaster is with water heaters. When a water heater tank fails, the amount of water released can flood a basement. A water alarm is cheap insurance against major water damage.

Need help with water alarms or other plumbing safety devices? Give us a call, we're here to help.
Having pipes that make strange noises is not just annoying, it can also be a sign of a plumbing problem. If severe cases, loose pipes can disconnect from mounting brackets stressing the pipe and causing a water leak. 

Water Hammer

If a banging noise is heard when turning the water on and off, water hammer is the likely cause. Water hammer occurs when the water chamber that normally cushions the water pressure becomes filled with water. The condition can usually be fixed by draining the pipes in the home to restore the chambers with air. 

Pipe Rattling Sounds

Rattling noises from your plumbing system are often caused by pipes that have come loose in anchoring brackets or are making contact with a wood joist or other object. Tighten the lose brackets, or add additional brackets as needed to support the pipe.

Vibration Noises

As pipes pass through holes in joists they can come in contact with the wood framing. If you're lucky and can access the pipe where it's contacting the joist, it can be cushioned with pieces of foam insulation.

Squeaking Pipes

As hot water passes through metal pipes they cause them to expand. The pipe may then rub against the metal mounting straps as the pipe expands and contracts. Adding foam of rubber cushioning to the mounting anchors will quiet the noise.

Have noisy pipes or other plumbing problems? Call Gibson's Heating and Plumbing. We can help with all your home plumbing repairs.
As winter approaches and the temperature outside begins to drop, the heat will be turned on and the humidity level will drop. Dry indoor air from low humidity can cause many problems in the home.

Health Problems From Low Humidity

While static shock can be an annoyance, dry skin, itchy eyes and respiratory irritation can lead to more serious ailments. As mucous membranes dry out our bodies becomes more susceptible to infections and are more likely to catch a cold or flu virus. Because dry air can cause dust and dirt to remain in the air longer, allergies can be aggravated as the air becomes drier and nasal passages dry out.

Home Damage From Low Humidity

Wood furniture, floors and other woodwork are most susceptible to damage from low humidity levels. If humidity levels fluctuate too much, wood can swell and shrink as moisture is absorbed and released, causing cracking and damage. Musical instruments, paintings and electronic equipment are also susceptible to damage from low humidity.

Use a Whole-Home Humidifier to Increase Humidity

The best solution to low humidity levels in the home is a whole-home humidifier. By working in conjunction with your home's HVAC system a humidifier will provide consistent, healthy humidity levels throughout your home. A humidity level of 40-60 percent during the winter months is best for most homes. 

Have questions about maintaining healthy humidity levels in your home? Call Gibson's Heating and Plumbing. We can help with all your indoor air quality needs.
Tuesday, 26 September 2017 21:09

Tips For Designing a Laundry Room

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Having a dedicated laundry room in your home is a great convenience. Whether your redesigning your current laundry room or designing a new space, here are some tips to ensure everything goes smoothly and that the room fully meets your needs.

Where Should a Laundry Room Be Located?

Traditionally, laundry rooms were located in the basement of a home. A basement offers a number of advantages. There will be a floor drain to handle overflow if a hose breaks. Noise and vibration will also be better isolated on a basement floor. However, it's not always convenient on a multi-level home to have the laundry room located far from the upstairs bedrooms.

The main level of the home off a garage or back door is another popular location. Combining a laundry room with a mud room you have the advantage of utility sinks and a washer where it they are most convenient.

If the laundry room is going to be added to an upper level of the home, it's important to ensure that the washer is placed on a drain pan to prevent water damage. In addition, strong, stainless steel braided hoses should also be used for extra protection against leaks.

If the laundry room is near bedrooms look for a washer and dryer that is insulated and has lower decibal rating.

Gas and Electric Hookups

In addition to hot and cold water supply and drains, you will need 120-volt circuits for the washer and, if you have a gas dryer, a gas supply line and ventilation line. These hookups should be left to a licensed plumber and electrician.

Lighting and Ventilation

Laundry rooms will generate a significant amount of heat and humidity. If the washer and dryer are in a large space, such as a basement, a ventilation duct that vents the dryer outside may be sufficient. On upper levels or smaller spaces, an exhaust fan should be installed to prevent mildew growth and unhealthy air.

Having good lighting is also important. Consider recessed LED lighting directly over the washer and dryer and sinks.

Need help installing or upgrading your laundry room? Give Gibson's Heating and Plumbing a call.
Professionals rely on advanced thermal imaging cameras to identify problems with plumbing, ductwork, insulation and other systems around the home. Thermal imaging works by converting infrared light into an visible image on a video screen called a thermogram. Temperature differences are easily seen as a range of bright and dark colors. Aim a thermal imager at an old window and cold air leaks become easily visible. By performing a thermal inspection of an entire house you can locate leaking air ducts and attics with insufficient insulation.

The advantages of thermal imaging are not limited to home heating and cooling. Problems with plumbing and electrical systems can also be identified. Water leaks inside walls and ceilings, and clogs inside pipes can be detected through thermal imaging. The cause of overheating electrical systems can also be quickly located by identifying temperature variations in electrical wiring and components.

Inexpensive Thermal Imaging for Homeowners

Until recently the high cost of thermal imaging systems meant they were used almost exclusively by professional contractors. With the rise of smartphones, inexpensive thermal imaging cameras are now in reach of the average homeowner. One example is the Seek CompactXR®, a portable thermal imaging camera that plugs directly into your smartphone. It works by translating thermal energy (infrared light) into a visible image right on your phone. So the next time you're weather sealing your your home tracking down water leaks, or checking for overheating electrical systems, you can take the guesswork out of the equation by using a thermal imaging device to pinpoint the source of the problem.
One of the most energy intensive appliances in the home is the water heater, second only to the air conditioner and furnace in annual energy costs for the average home in Indiana. Even if it's a newer, high efficiency model, there is still radiant heat loss from the tank. One simple way to prevent heat loss is to install a water heater blanket. Usually made from fiberglass or other insulating material, water heater blankets are available at most home improvement stores for $20-$40 depending on the size of the tank. Water heater blankets are simple to install and will pay for itself in just a year or two in increased efficiency.

You may be thinking, can a blanket help save energy when my tank feels cool to the touch? Yes. Because it takes more energy to heat water than air, insulation will help. Still not convinced? Once the blanket has is installed for a few hours, put your hand under the blanket. You'll notice that it's nice and warm to the touch. That's heat that will keep the tank warmer for a longer period of time rather than radiating out.

One word of caution on water heater blankets: some manufacturers advise against using them because if they are not properly installed they can block controls, ventilation and valves. So be sure to cut away around controls and the pressure relief valve and follow the instructions on the package carefully.

Have hot water questions? Give Gibson's Heating and Plumbing a call, we can answer all your water heater questions.
Do you have bathroom shower or sink drains that are slow and gurgle after draining? In some older homes it's not uncommon for water to take longer to drain. The reason is that drain pipes used in the past had a smaller diameter than drain pipes used today. Another common cause of slow draining is inadequate plumbing vents in the roof to aid in air flow. When a plumbing system is starved of outside airflow, it can slow water flow and result in drain gurgling sounds.

A professional plumber should clean out the drains with a drain snake or a high pressure drain cleaning machine. In some cases it's not the floor drain that causes the problem, so be sure to have the upper reaches of your plumbing system inspected, including the vent pipes.

Have plumbing or drain problems? Call Gibson's Heating and Plumbing, we can help.
Many homes have rooms that go unoccupied for long periods of time. Guest rooms, bedrooms and basements make up a large percentage of the air volume in the average home. So it seems like a simple question: if the room is unused, why not close the air registers? The reality is that closing vents can actually waste energy, harm your furnace and air conditioner, while also making occupied rooms less comfortable.

When your central heating and cooling system was installed your HVAC technician carefully measured the volume of air in your entire home, then matched the size of your furnace and air conditioner to provide the best performance. Reducing the air volume by closing vents will not make your AC cool less or the heating system heat less, it will simply send the same amount of air to the open air ducts and vents throughout your home. In addition, during normal operation a home's ductwork will lose 20-30% of the air though leaks. Closing vents will simply cause more conditioned air to leak, wasting energy.

Closing air vents also increases the pressure inside the ductwork, which in turn will make the blower fan work harder to push the air through. The result is an increased risk of the AC evaporator coil freezing or the furnace's heat exchanger overheating.

Of course, closing one or two air vents is not going to cause major issues, but for each vent that is closed the performance of your central heating and cooling system will be diminished.
A lot of homeowners like to save money by tackling home improvement projects themselves. However, there are some projects that are definitely not DIY – including most central heating and air conditioning repairs. For your safety, and to ensure that HVAC equipment is working properly, always have a qualified, licensed professional install and repair air conditioning and heating equipment.

Consider These Facts and Statistics:
  • According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), 15% of consumer-product related electrocutions are related to contact with large appliances. These electrocutions occur most commonly while someone is attempting to service or repair the appliance.
  • In 2006, an estimated 33,500 injuries were reported to hospital emergency rooms as involving air conditioners, fans, humidifiers, dehumidifiers, air purifiers, and heat pumps. The leading types of injuries were laceration (14,890), contusion or abrasion (6,110), and strain or sprain (4,430).
  • In 2006, air conditioning or related equipment was involved in an estimated 7,400 reported U.S. home structure fires, with associated losses of 270 civilian injuries and $200 million indirect property damage.
  • In 2003-2006, the 7,000 reported home structure fires per year involving air conditioning and related equipment included 2,400 per year involving central and room air conditioners specifically and 3,700 per year involving fans.
  • In 1995-2003 (excluding 1999, which was not reported), there were 11.5 electrocution deaths per year involving air conditioners and 4.3 electrocution deaths per year involving fans.
So the next time you need help installing or maintaining your home's air conditioner or furnace, call the pros at Gibson's Heating and Plumbing, we're here to help keep you safe and comfortable.
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