With the season about to (hopefully) transition, we wanted to offer a few tips on how to know if your pipes are healthy. The “Water is Your Business Campaign,” sponsored by the National Association of Water Companies and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, reports that there are 650 water main breaks per day in the U.S., resulting in a daily loss of 7 billion gallons of water. The results of a residential water pipe break can have a serious impact on homeowners’ properties and their wallets.Here are some questions you need to ask (and find answers to): 1. What is the age of my pipes?
The average age of a broken water main in the U.S. is 47 years. Knowing the age of your pipes will help you to assess their need for repair.The vast majority of the nation’s water pipes were installed after 1940 and are in serious need of replacement or repair. A 2010 report from the National Association of Water Companies and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce stated that nearly half of all pipes in the U.S. were in poor shape. 2. Do I have mature trees near my water service lines?
Invasive tree roots often disrupt service lines. Roots seek out pipes because they provide essential elements that trees need to grow - water, nutrients and oxygen. When tree roots get into pipes, they can cause clogs and blocks that lead to serious problems and need for repair. 3. What kind of soil do I have?
Poor soil conditions - such as low soil resistivity and high chloride content - can cause corrosion of pipes from the outside, and lead to leaks and contamination. Sandy soils are among the least corrosive, and clay soils are among the most. Corrosive soil can start attacking your pipes almost immediately, with corrosion building over time. This means that although your pipes are already being invaded, you might not experience a leak or break until much later. 4. Have I been ignoring the warning signs?
Many times, it’s the small things we overlook that may signify a pipe issue. Something as simple as cooking frequently in the kitchen can lead to continued grease and food disposals building up over time in the sewer and drain lines. A stammering faucet can be an indication that a water line is leaking. And, a clogged toilet or slow drainage can signal to you that the sewer line is clogged. All of these signs could point to a sudden and potentially costly repair. Detecting these easy fixes and taking care of them can save you from potential problems. 5. Do I live where the seasons suddenly change?
Water lines are more susceptible to breaks at times of extreme temperature swings, both hot and cold, which we often experience in Richmond. Pipes become brittle when water temperatures dip below 40 degrees, while air temperatures below freezing cause the ground to freeze. However, water main breaks often don’t occur until one or two days after the freezing temperatures arrive because water temperature takes more time to decrease than air temperature. 6. Do I know what my pipes are made of?
Older pipes were generally made from clay, steel or tile – materials more prone to deterioration over time. If your home was built before the 1980s, it is mostly likely that your pipes are made of clay, and in need of repair or replacement. Asking yourself these simple questions can help you plan for potential problems. Do you think you are at risk? Give us a call and we can help! Early prevention can save you money and hassle.
Spring is just around the corner and with that comes spring cleaning, gardening, and for some, the purchase of a new home. Whether you are a first time home buyer, or done this plenty of times before, there are certain things you should look for and do when purchasing a new home. 1. Check out the roof - Before you set foot inside, check out what’s happening on top. Does the roof look relatively new or is it caving in? A newer roof could mean a lower homeowners insurance rate (always great). Likewise, a roof made of an especially sturdy material is better equipped to defend against wind and hail (and can save you from a potential claim). 2. Don’t judge a room by its paint job - When you step inside your prospective abode, focus on the structural stuff — aging appliances, loose wires — and tune out any freshly painted walls or upscale decor. You can always change the paint, but it is much harder to change the bones of the house. 3. Take its temperature - When you’re buying a house, keep in mind: if it looks rickety or old, it probably is. Heating and cooling systems are expensive to fix and replace, and inefficient ones can eat away at your utility bills. Make sure the furnace is up to date and in good repair. If it's not, call us for an estimate on how much it will cost to replace and factor that into your costs.4. Decide on your dealbreakers - Aside from the basics, like quality windows and countertops, think about the purpose of your home and the requirements for your lifestyle, like storage for a large book collection, a big backyard for barbecuing or a basement for sports equipment. 5. Plumbing: what lies beneath - When you’re poking around a new home, don’t stop at eye level — get underneath the sinks and examine those pipes. Check for leaks, water damage and mold. We can come out and do a home inspection for you to assess any damages or potential hazards to your plumbing. 6. Check out the land beforehand - Don’t just look at the building — examine the area around it. Is the house in an area prone to flooding or wildfires? Is the driveway shared with another property? If there are fences, have they been built and positioned properly? It’s a lot to take in, but when you buy a house, you can’t ignore its surroundings. 7. Stop and smell the roses (and more) - Do you smell sewage, gas, or anything equally unpleasant? Sewage systems in older homes can sometimes get clogged or damaged by tree roots. Also worth noting: pet odors, cigarettes, and mildew. 8. Invest in a well-insulated house - Above all else, your home should be comfortable. Check the attic, water pipes, and heating ducts to make sure they’re properly insulated. This can reduce heating and cooling costs and keep you comfortable in summer and winter. Double-paned windows can also save you money down the road. Plus, they can help soundproof your place from outside noise. This is also something we can look at for you. 9. Get your hands on everything - Turn on every faucet and light switch, open every window and door, flush the toilets, even taste the water. Buying a house is a big step — maybe one of the biggest — and you need to know how everything works firsthand. That way, you can address problem areas and see if there’s a cost-effective solution. 10. Have a home inspection done - There’s only so much you can do with your own 5 senses. You’ll also want to enlist a professional to ensure the foundation is solid and the wiring is up to code. Home inspectors can even check for lead paint and wood-eating pests. We wish you luck in the search for your dream home! If you need us in that search, give us a call.
With these unexpected snowstorms coming in weekly now, you want to make sure you are optimizing your heating this winter. We have a few tips to help you save some money:
Check your basement for leaks in any exposed ductwork. Make sure your furnace blower is running, and hold a lit candle up to the visible ductwork joints. If you find leaks, seal them with mastic tape.
Seal up leaks to conserve the air you're heating. Weatherstrip exterior doors, re-caulk and cover your windows with plastic film and install a chimney balloon. Don't forget to check the basement, garage and attic for any spots where cold air from these unheated areas can infiltrate your living space.
Make sure you get a precision furnace tune-up every six months. This comprehensive checkup can improve its efficiency, and help you save money on your heating bill. The semi-annual maintenance includes cleaning or replacing the filter, but you should check it every month during the winter.
While your technician is there, ask about having a programmable thermostat installed. You could save as much as 30 percent on your heating bill by learning how to program it, and then setting it for a 10-degree temperature drop while you're sleeping, and whenever there's no one home.
While you're in the attic, check your insulation situation. You should have 7 inches of insulation (that's a minimum) to keep warm air from escaping through the roof.
Optimize your heat circulation. Set all your ceiling fans on reverse, and turn them on 'low' to push the warm air back down as it rises. If your home has two stories, let the rising heat help warm the rooms on the upper floor.
Valentine's Day is this Sunday - guys if you haven't gotten the special woman in your life a little something, stop what you are doing and go buy chocolates, flowers and maybe some jewelry!On this day of love, it is important to remember who and what is important to us - and that includes the roof over our heads. Showing your home a little love is important to keep it running smoothly all year long! Follow our 5 tips to show your home some love this Valentine's Day: 1. Bring your home a present! Homes love a nice bouquet of flowers.
2. Do a mini makeover. Thinking about rearranging some pictures? Do it! Small things like this immediately make a home happy.
3. Give your home a fresh coat of paint. Nothing says love like a color update. Stick to a small room, like a bathroom, and choose a bright, happy color.
4. Make sure your home is being cared for by keeping up to date with inspections, general maintenance, etc. We offer home inspections for heating and cooling with our Home Energy Audit Inspections.
5. Take your home to the spa with a deep cleanse. Get carpets, floors and drapes professionally cleaned. Your home will thank you. Happy Valentine's Day from all of us at Gilman!
Frozen pipes can cause all sorts of problems. Be sure to pay attention to when the temperature drops into the teens or lower. Frozen water lines often result in broken pipes and water leaks that damage walls, flooring and personal property. Plumbing repairs and cleanup work can cost thousands of dollars. Fortunately, you can take steps to prevent frozen pipes from causing you headaches this winter.
Insulate exposed piping. Insulate pipes that are outside your home's heated space, such as in the attic, crawl space or in exterior walls that aren't protected from the cold.
Protect outdoor piping. Remove garden hoses from outdoor faucets. Turn the water supply to outdoor faucets off inside the house, if possible, and leave the outdoor faucet valves open to drain water and relieve pressure.
Drain the sprinkler system. Drain sprinkler lines and weatherize the system according to advice from the installer.
Preventive Measures When Cold Weather Strikes
Extremely cold weather can cause problems even in well-weatherized plumbing. Doing the following will help prevent frozen pipes if unusually cold temperatures are expected:
Open kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Leaving cabinet doors open lets warm air from inside the house into spaces where water supply lines are exposed to cold walls. Be sure hazardous materials in cabinets are kept away from children.
Drip faucets. A trickle of water running from hot and cold water pipes will help prevent freezing and will relieve pressure in water lines in the event that they do freeze.
Keep the heat turned up. On extremely cold nights, leave the thermostat set a few degrees higher than you normally do to help protect plumbing. If you'll be away from home for several days, leave the heat set to turn on if the weather turns cold. The extra money you spend on heat will be cheaper than repairing damage from broken pipes.
Call Gilman Heating & Cooling for help weatherizing your Richmond home for greater energy efficiency and to prevent frozen pipes.