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frozen pipesFrozen 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.

Preventive Measures Before Cold Weather Arrives

Take these steps to prepare your plumbing before severe winter weather arrives:
  • 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.
If you have lived in Richmond for any period of time, you know that the town essentially shuts down for flurries. So, with that being said, we wanted to give you a few tips to survive the first threat of snow this weekend.
  1. Get to the grocery store ASAP! At this point, the bread may be gone, but stock up on items that don't require a fridge or heat, in case you lose electricity. Canned goods, bottled water, ice and snack foods like goldfish are good in this situation. If you are lucky enough to have a gas powered stove, you can purchase soups, and other dry foods you can heat on the stove.Canned Food Drive
  2. It is important to make sure you have extra batteries, candles (be careful to never leave an open flame unattended), glow sticks, matches and wood for those of you with real fireplaces, a lighter, blankets that are easily accessible, an emergency kit, flashlights, hand warmers, a non-electric can opener and rock salt, sand (cat litter works) and a snow shovel for outside.
  3. Make sure you have a full tank of gas in your car - you can charge your phone, use the heat, etc. We do not recommend venturing out in severe weather.
  4. Be sure to have all emergency numbers - local fire, doctor, etc. - in an easy to access place in case you need them.
  5. A battery operated or hand crank radio is good to stay up to date with the news/weather conditions.
  6. Make sure you have all prescriptions and over the counter medicine that your family (and pets) need.
  7. Be sure to leave your faucets on slightly so that your pipes don't freeze. A slow drip is just fine!
  8. Some books, board games and other fun ways to pass the time!
We hope you all stay very warm this weekend. In the case of a heating malfunction, call our 24 hour service line (804) 277-4241. If you do lose heat in your house, it is important to note the using a gas powered stove is NOT a safe way to heat your home!
With temperatures dipping into the teens at night this week, it is clear that winter is here. This week we give you our top 10 tips to keeping you comfortable and warm in your home this winter.
  1. Have a well working heating system. This may seem obvious, but many of our heater systems have been dormant for many months and we forget about maintenance. If this is you, don't worry! We can come out and give your home heating system it's winter checkup. (We are currently offering $25 off service calls as well!)
  2. Let sunlight in during the day. Once the sun is up, you want to capture as much of that free heat as possible. Even on cold days, the sun is still warm. So before you leave the house for the day, open up those curtains and let the light shine in.
  3. Keep curtains closed at night. Once the sun goes down, keep all that heat you let in during that day from leaving through the windows by closing the drapes.
  4. Check out your ceiling fans. You don't normally think of ceiling fans when you think of the winter months, but they may be sitting needlessly dormant. Many fans have a “winter” setting, which reverses the fan so that it moves clockwise vs. counterclockwise. Since heat rises, the clockwise-spinning fan will push the heat back down into your rooms versus being trapped up at the ceilings. This is especially recommended if you have high or sloped ceilings.
  5. Move furniture away from vents. You may have unknowingly placed furniture in front of heating vents when you moved in or rearranged. Go around the house and double check that vents aren’t blocked, and if they are, find a way to move your furniture, at least for the winter. This will make sure every room is getting its max heat potential.
  6. Seal leaks. We all know the obvious ones - windows and doors, but air could be escaping beyond the windows and doors - think attics, basements (where cements meets the wood frame), even kitchen hood vents. Take a look at this handy guide from energystar.gov to find those leaks and seal them. Hint: caulking can be your best friend.
  7. Keep certain rooms toasty warm by closing doors. If you spend a lot of time in certain rooms, you can close doors and create a little sauna. If you have big, open spaces, you can use room dividers; it may not seem like much, but any blockage that keeps air from escaping just a little less quickly will help keep things warmer. You can also close doors to rooms that aren’t frequently used in your home — just make sure you also close the vents in those rooms. This sort of acts to lower the heated square footage, and the warm air will spread quicker and easier through the house. As a bonus, this will save a little bit on your heating bill, too.
  8. Use the oven. Baking, convecting, and broiling things will keep your house warmer, especially in rooms nearest the kitchen. Don’t be afraid to roast a chicken or bake a ton of cookies when the temperatures dip. Bonus - bring the cookies to your coworkers and become the office favorite!
  9. Add layers to your wood floors. According to the National Energy Foundation, uninsulated wood floors can account for up to 10% of a home’s heat loss. Carpets and rugs were created for a reason — to keep rooms warmer. They’re far better at trapping heat than your creaky wood floors. Add a rug or roll of carpet to your floor in the winter, and you’ll notice a difference in coziness.
  10. Utilize space heaters, but with caution. Space heaters are excellent tools for keeping individual rooms warm. The danger is that they are a high-risk fire hazard, especially compared to other tips listed here. To ensure the safety of your household, keep any flammable material at least three feet away, and make sure the heater is on an even and stable surface. Never leave space heaters on overnight or when you leave the home (there are timed space heaters that turn off after 1-4 hours that are a better option than entirely manually-operated ones). Additionally, it’s a good idea to only use space heaters that shut off automatically when tipped over.
We hope you all stay warm this winter! If you find yourself with any heating issues give us a call for out 24 hour emergency service.
plumber

According to the EPA's WaterSense program, the average American family uses about 300 gallons of water a day. That's a significant amount of water. Wouldn't you like to do your part to optimize the plumbing system in your Richmond, Virginia, home to use less water and save money on utilities in the process? Here are some efficient products that will help you do this.

Tankless Water Heater

If your home has an older tank water heater, consider upgrading to a tankless heater system. A tankless heater only uses energy to heat water on demand in place of storing large reserves of hot water on an ongoing basis. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that homes using tankless water heaters for up to 41 gallons of hot water a day will be 24–34 percent more energy-efficient than those using conventional tank heaters. Energy Star estimates a typical family will save about $100 a year with an Energy Star qualified tankless heater.

The upfront cost of a tankless water heater is expensive, so shopping for a good price is key. However, the unit's longevity is greater than the tank counterpart's, 20 or more years versus 10–15. Also worth noting, tankless heaters can have cold shower moments if too many hot-water faucets are running at the same time.

High-Efficiency Faucets

One simple way to cut down water usage is to change your water faucets over to more efficient fixtures. Older faucets have a water flow rate of 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm). The new EPA WaterSense standard is 1.5 gpm. If you prefer not to replace your existing fixture, you can add an inexpensive water-saving aerator or flow restrictor.

Ultra-Low-Flow Shower Heads

Similar to reducing faucet water flow, you can save water and energy by upgrading your shower heads. The EPA WaterSense standard for shower heads is to stay below 2.0 gpm. You can find high-efficiency, ultra-low-flow shower heads capable of exerting high-pressure water streams.

For more information on how Gilman Heating, Cooling & Plumbing can help optimize your plumbing system, call us today: (804) 277-4241.

Image provided by Shutterstock

smart appliances

When it comes time to shop around Richmond, Virginia, for your next kitchen or household appliance, take a look at the latest wave of smart appliances. This advanced technology is equipped with energy-saving sensors that provide automation; some can even alert your mobile phone when a task is complete.

Smart Grid Appliances

If you happen to live along a smart grid, you can make use of smart grid-enabled appliances, which provide energy-consumption feedback to utility companies. This two-way communication enables the appliances to adjust runtimes and scheduling to operate when the grid is at lower demand. This helps lower energy costs and reduces high demand on energy grids, which, in extreme situations, can lead to brownouts.

Laundry Washers With Load Sensors

New laundry washers are equipped with water load sensing technology. These smart washing machines will add only the amount of water that is needed to efficiently wash your laundry load.

Tank Water Heaters That Learn

Smart storage tank hot water heaters now exist with electronic thermostats that learn from household behavior. This ability allows the appliance to heat the water closer to an on-demand basis, and not keeping it hot all the time. These heaters also come smart grid-enabled.

Dishwashers With Soil Sensors

You can now find dishwashers with built-in soil sensors. These machines measure the amount of food particles contained in a dirty load and will adjust the amount of water, the water pressure, and the cycle time. Not only does this smart appliance save on water usage, but it also has a direct impact on energy usage.

Energy Star Products

Look for Energy Star products. They are not exclusive to advanced technology, but the role the organization plays in energy efficiency is crucial. Always look for its ratings on appliances as you shop, and use them as a guideline in making your purchasing decision.

For information on installing these smart appliances in your home, contact Gilman Heating, Cooling & Plumbing today at (804) 277-4241.

Image provided by Shutterstock

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