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Prepare for Winter 2019 – Pre-Winter Home Service Tips and Tricks

Prepare for Winter 2019 featured image with Keep Calm and Gobble On text on a slider image featuring family on Thanksgiving

With an extra hour in the day — and winter on the way — it’s a good time for a seasonal home preparedness checklist!

Winter is coming! It’s practically here! As you circle the house, resetting clocks, decorating, and making merry, always make sure you leave some time to run through this short checklist of pre-winter home service tips and tricks. We promise it’ll go a long way towards preventing several holiday and winter-related catastrophes!

Change the Clocks and Batteries

Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors save lives! Well, they can save lives if and only if they’re powered by a fresh battery. Safety experts recommend replacing smoke and carbon monoxide detector batteries twice a year–so celebrate Time Change Sunday with new batteries all around. Energy savings hint: don’t toss the replaced batteries just yet. While they’re likely not fully charged, replaced batteries can still do duty in children’s toys, media players, or electronic devices. Squeeze the last drop of power out of them before you recycle!

Replace Light Bulbs

Long dark winter evenings call for a little light! Since you’ll have stepladders out to reach smoke detectors and clocks on Sunday, double up on safety (and energy savings) by checking for light bulbs and fixtures. Consider replacing conventional bulbs with energy-efficient compact fluorescent (CFL) or LCD bulbs.

Check Your Heating and Cooling Systems

Maintenance is absolutely vital for responsible homeownership. Anyone who has had to replace an HVAC system knows it can be costly for a brand new system. Proper maintenance can help lengthen the life of your system and avoid expensive repairs. Every year have your system looked at by a Brothers HVAC technician to save you costly heartache in the long hall.

Schedule a Water Heater Flush

On a gas water heater, the sediment creates hot spots that can damage the tank and cause premature failure. On an electric water heater, sediment buildup can cause the lower heating element to fail. Flushing offers a payback in lower energy bills and extended heater life.

Change the Rotation of Your Ceiling Fans

Clockwise is the correct rotation for winter. The fan blades should send air upward to disrupt the warm air that collects near the ceiling and disperse it downward. This is particularly effective in rooms with high or vaulted ceilings and rooms with stoves or fireplaces.

Well, there you have it: a shortlist of easy to follow pre-winter home service tips and tricks. Follow this quick and simple list, and we promise that your winter and holiday season will go as smoothly as possible. However, if you do wind up with a home service problem this winter, then you can always count on the Better Business Bureau accredited experts here at Brothers Plumbing Heating & Electric. Contact us for assistance today. We’re always standing by to help!

Fall 2019 Maintenance Hints, Tips and Reminders

Fall is finally here! With it comes crisp days, long nights and the beginning of the holiday season. While it is easy to get caught up in the pumpkin spice and fun-filled events of the season, it is also essential to make sure your home appliances, plumbing, heating, and electrical systems are all ready to withstand the cold of winter. Luckily, us here at Brothers Plumbing, Heating and Electric have you covered. Follow this simple list of recommended fall maintenance and home preparation hints, tips, and reminders to make sure your property is ready for winter!

Fall Home Preparation Hints, Tips and Reminders

More Pre-Winter Hints, Tips, and Reminders

In addition to the hints, tips, and reminders listed above, our home experts recommend you perform the following tasks as well:

  • Turn Down Your Water Heater
    Turning down your water heater will help to reduce your monthly energy bill during the winter.
  • Winterize Plumbing Lines
    Merely pouring a small Dixie cup (around 1.5oz) of antifreeze down each of your drains and toilets will help keep your plumbing and water lines from freezing during the winter.
  • Contact Us
    For anything more complicated, we recommend you give our company a call to come out and give you a hand.

Get In Touch With Us To Schedule Any Services You Need

Some of the hints above are difficult or impossible to perform if you are not a trained professional. Luckily our team of Brothers Plumbing, Heating, and Electric home experts is always standing by to help make sure you are ready for winter. Get in touch with us by calling 303-468-2294 or visiting our Contact Us page today!

Cold Weather Recommendations

cold weather recommendations featured image featuring woman huddled by computer when it's cold
Winter is right around the corner. With winter, comes colder and colder temperatures. Unfortunately, the cold can wreak havoc on your home. Before the onset of cold weather, prepare your home by following these recommendations:

Electrical and HVAC System Cold Weather Peparation

  • Reverse your ceiling fans to clockwise to help move the heat around.
  • Check and change the batteries in your CO and smoke detectors.
  • Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.
  • If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55° F.

Plumbing Cold Weather Preparation

  • Drain water from swimming pool and water sprinkler supply lines following the manufacturer’s or installer’s directions. Do not put antifreeze in these lines unless directed. Antifreeze is environmentally harmful and is dangerous to humans, pets, wildlife, and landscaping.
  • Remove, drain, and store hoses used outdoors. Close inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibs. Open the outside hose bibs to allow water to drain. Keep the external valve open so that any water remaining in the pipe can expand without causing the pipe to break.
  • Check around the home for other areas where water supply lines are located in unheated areas. Look in the basement, crawl space, attic, garage, and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Both hot and cold water pipes in these areas should be insulated.
  • Consider installing specific products made to insulate water pipes like a “pipe sleeve” or installing UL-listed “heat tape,” “heat cable,” or similar materials on exposed water pipes. Newspaper can provide some degree of insulation and protection to exposed pipes – even ¼” of newspaper can provide significant protection in areas that usually do not have frequent or prolonged temperatures below freezing.
  • Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.
  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.
  • When the weather is freezing outside, let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe – even at a trickle – helps prevent pipes from freezing.

Sometimes Things Happen

Unfortunately, even if you follow the previously mentioned preparation steps to the letter, pipes can still end up freezing and homes can still end up damaged when it gets cold. But don’t fret! Even if you do experience cold weather-related home damage, you can always contact the professionals here at Brothers Plumbing Heating Electric for fast and reliable assistance!

How Does Your Air Conditioner Work?

air conditioning banner image featuring coolant measuring device
Almost everyone has an air conditioning system these days. However, most people that own an AC system have no idea how it functions. Moreover, knowing a little bit about how air conditioners work can help you know when to call in the HVAC professionals for service, repair, or replacement work. So, how does your air conditioner work? Let’s explore just how your home air conditioning system keeps you cool all summer.

The Air Conditioning Process

The air conditioning process is relatively simple. Basically, air conditioners pull the heat out of the air to help cool a space. They do this in a two-cycle process. The two cycles of air conditioner functionality are:

  • Evaporation
  • Compression

The Evaporation Cycle in Modern Air Conditioning

The evaporation cycle in modern air conditioning systems is the cycle in which the actual cooling of the air takes place. To accomplish this, your air conditioner passes inside air through a coil filled with supercooled liquid refrigerant. The refrigerant pulls the heat from the air, and then fans distribute the air through your ductwork (or directly into your space if you have a ductless split air conditioning system). After cooling the air, your air conditioning system sends the now gaseous refrigerant to the compression side of the system.

The Compression Cycle in Modern Air Conditioning

The compression cycle is the second primary operation cycle in modern air conditioning systems. It works in almost the exact opposite way that the evaporation cycle does.

During this cycle, two things happen. The first thing that happens is that your system will pull outside air through what is known as the condensing coil. This coil contains the gaseous refrigerant from the evaporation cycle. When the outside air is pulled through the coil, the heat from the gaseous refrigerant is transferred to the air. This begins transforming the gaseous refrigerant back to its original liquid form.

However, the coil itself is not enough to fully compress the refrigerant. That is why modern air conditioning systems also use a device known as a compressor to finish the job of transforming the coolant back to a supercooled liquid. Then, once the compression cycle is complete, the refrigerant is transported back to the evaporator side of the machine to start the process all over again.

Is it Time to Kick Your AC to the Curb?

During a Colorado summer, we rely on a few essential things – sunscreen, a hat, and at home, our air conditioning unit.

An air conditioner can make life comfortable when temperatures climb… however, how do you know when you can no longer rely on your AC system, and it is time to “kick it to the curb”? Maybe you’ve noticed it doesn’t seem to cool or run as efficiently as it used to. Like all appliances, your air conditioner won’t last forever, although you will get a good life out of a well-maintained system. A regularly serviced air conditioner will last much longer than one that is not.

Even a well-maintained air conditioner of a certain age might run into problems. So we’ve prepared a list of the top 7 telltale signs that indicate you need to kick your air conditioner to the curb.

1. Unit is blowing hot or cold air which is inconsistent to temperature settings

One of the most common problems in an older air conditioning unit is that it just doesn’t cool or heat. It may still produce normal air levels, but the air isn’t coming out cold or hot as per its settings. From time to time during regular use, you may experience some warm air in a cool environment. However, if your unit stops producing cold air entirely, it’s time to investigate and vice versa for heating. It may mean low refrigerant levels. However, warm air production, when set for cooling, can indicate a severe problem such as a damaged compressor.

Inconsistent temperatures are a sign of trouble too. Your air conditioner is supposed to provide a consistent air temperature at the setting you’ve chosen. When individual rooms become cold zones, and others don’t seem to get any cold air at all, it could mean your air conditioning unit is on the way out. If your unit is producing hot (or inconsistent) air, inspect the filters, valves, condensation drains and coils for airflow obstructions. However, be prepared, a replacement unit may be on the cards.

2. Your unit has diminished airflow

During operation, there is little or no cold air coming out of the vents. A significant decrease in airflow could be another sign that your air conditioner’s compressor is on its last leg. If your thermostat is set to a reasonable temperature and your home is still too warm, then your air conditioning system is not working at its optimum level. Again, check filters first, but it might be time for a new unit.

3. It’s emitting strange noises or strange smells

A fully functioning air conditioning system should operate almost silently. If you know your unit well, you’ll be familiar with any little sounds it makes as it cycles. In fact, those noises will be a regular part of your life’s sound symphony. So, when you hear noises different from the norm, it’s time to act. Minor noise changes could indicate the need for some repairs. Perhaps the fan isn’t working correctly, or one of the parts inside the unit has become loose, or an internal mechanism has become clogged with dirt. However, if the noise is a little stranger – such as screeching, grinding, grating, rattling, buzzing, or ticking, this could indicate a serious problem that means unit replacement!

The same goes for unusual odors! If your unit is giving off a bad smell, it’s not just a nuisance; it indicates a problem you need to address right away. Foul odors can mean that your air conditioner’s insulation has become damaged or that the ductwork has become moldy. Dirt, mold, or mildew inside your unit can circulate contaminated air through your home and cause health issues for your family. So, don’t ignore those bad smells. Strange smells may be caused by a filter that needs replacing. So, check them first, but if your unit is still smelly, it could be time to replace it.

4. Your unit is leaking or producing excess moisture

Depending on the type of air conditioner you have, a small amount of condensation or water dripping on the outside of your unit (i.e., outside the house) is reasonable. However, for the most part, your air conditioning unit should stay dry whether or not it’s in use. If you notice moisture inside the house, a sudden increase in condensation or a leak, it may be time to replace your air conditioner. First of all, ask a Brothers air conditioning technician to inspect it right away for safety reasons (electrical components and water are not a good combination). Some units may spring refrigerant leaks; refrigerant should only ever be handled by a professional due to the health risks it poses. Your air conditioning specialist will locate the source of the leak and let you know if a new unit is the most cost-effective course of action.

5. Your unit is short cycling

It’s entirely reasonable for your air conditioner to cycle on and off to maintain a set temperature throughout your home. However, has your unit developed a tendency to switch itself off randomly? Alternatively, does it sometimes have difficulty getting started? If you notice that it is turning on and off more frequently than usual, your unit may be malfunctioning. Short cycling puts extra stress on your air conditioner and will cause it to fail if not handled quickly. Call a Brothers, and with any luck, it may just be a blown fuse. However, it may mean it’s time for a new unit.

6. Your energy bills have dramatically increased

Even if your unit appears to be functioning ‘normally,’ one of the most prominent telltale signs, there may be a significant problem that can be found on your energy bill. Has it spiked suddenly and you aren’t sure why? Undertake an ‘energy audit’ and consider other factors that may have caused your energy bill to increase. This will help you to work out whether your air conditioning is the culprit behind a surge in energy costs. If all roads lead to your unit being the source of the extra power, then you need to determine why it has become significantly less efficient. Perhaps your air conditioning system is overworking? Diminished cooling capacity will raise energy costs as your unit struggles to maintain the desired temperature ineffectively. Try cleaning the air vents, replacing the filters and then check for any lumps or knots in the condensing coil. Of course, it may be an energy drain only because it has become sluggish and is reaching the end of its working life.

7. Your unit requires frequent repairs (and is out of warranty)

Has your trusty air conditioning unit become more trouble (and expense) than its worth? In an ideal world, your unit should be serviced every year to keep it well maintained, clean, and in tip-top shape. Occasionally, you may need an extra service or repair. However, if your air conditioning system is always in need of mending and repairing multiple times per year, then you may have to Kick it to the curb. In those situations, replacing your air conditioner may be the more economical and efficient option. Usually, you can factor in one major repair or part replacement. However, if dangerous repairs occur later in the unit’s life, they serve as a warning of future issues. If your unit needs a complicated repair after the warranty expires, that’s a sure sign to start shopping around for a new unit instead of pouring money into an old one with a limited shelf life.

So, do you recognize any of these signs? Don’t wait.

If you detect any of these seven signs that your air conditioning is malfunctioning, it’s time to call Brothers. To stay comfortable during the summer months, it’s vital to carry out any necessary repairs, or if it proves to be more cost-effective, it may be time to part ways with your unit and invest in a brand spanking new one with a warranty. Acting now will let you get back to enjoying a trouble-free, noise-free, leak-free, energy-efficient Colorado summer.

Call 303.451.5057 or visit www.BrothersPlumbing.com to schedule today!