Frequently Asked Questions

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As experts, we get asked a lot of questions; from house maintenance to details on our services in general. We've compiled a list of the questions we most commonly get asked here for your convenience.

About Plumbing

You should have your water heater serviced annually to reduce sediment buildup and inspect all safety components. You should also replace the anode rod and expansion tank every two to three years.

The right water heater depends on how many people are living in the home and what your priorities are. If you are looking for the most budget-friendly option, gas or electric units are the best. If you need endless hot water and efficiency, a tankless system would be the right call. If efficiency is your number one goal, a heatpump might be a good option.

Water leaks inside of the home can be discovered if your water meter is moving while no fixtures are running. Other signs of hidden leaks may be a musky smell, mold, discolored or wet drywall, and sagging paint. Squishy floors and wet areas, especially near walls, are also signs of a hidden leak.

Water heaters not maintained have an expected lifespan of 7 to 9 years. Tankless water heaters typically last anywhere from 15 to 30 years.

Slab leaks are often not easily found in comparison to leaks inside walls. Leaks under slabs of concrete may not surface and are ruled out through a series of testing with electric, thermal, acoustic, and gas detection equipment.

Oftentimes, garbage disposal odor is due to mold buildup inside the discharge hose from the dishwasher. Getting rid of garbage disposal odor may require using baking soda and vinegar, chemical treatments, Bio-Clean, or even replacing the dishwasher discharge hose.

The garbage disposal should only be used for minor food residue that is stuck to dishes after all other food was scraped into the trash. Some foods that should never be put down the garbage disposal include starches (rice pasta, etc.), egg shells, and grease.

The most common cause of tub and shower drain clogs is hair build up. The best way to prevent shower drain clogs is the use of a hair trap.

Pipe corrosion is commonly caused by minerals and chemicals in the water, and/or poor preparation of piping material before assembly. High water pressure can also be a contributing factor.

Every fixture should have an emergency shut off valve for service. Leaking faucets could be caused by broken seals, seats, gaskets or cartridges that may need to be replaced. Newer faucets may be more cost effective to replace rather than repair.

Just because you can flush something down the toilet doesn’t mean you should. All other items besides human digestive waste and toilet paper should not be flushed down the toilet. Items such as feminine hygiene products, wipes, birth control, paper towels, etc. should go in the trash bin instead. When in doubt, throw it out.

About HVAC

HVAC systems are not simply sized off of the square footage of a home. For the most efficient system, sizing is done by a trained technician that takes several factors into consideration, including the number of vents in the home, insulation type, window sizes, and other specifics.

HVAC system service should happen before the start of each season; ideally at least twice a year. Air filters should also be replaced every 2-3 months.

Most HVAC manufacturers’ warranties are 10 years for parts warranties, as well as either a limited warranty or up to 20 years on heat exchangers when registered.

Our recommendation is to replace the unit when the warranty period has been exceeded, the unit is older than 15 years, or the cost of repair is not economical in comparison to the unit's remaining useful life. If you're considering a replacement, it's also useful to weigh in other factors like a newer unit's improved efficiency as well as any potential rebates or tax credits.

The most basic type of air filters are one inch x the dimension of the return air next to the system. Box filters or larger, reusable, electric filters can drastically improve your air quality and efficiency.

It could be an issue with the fan motor or a damaged blower fan. Other noises could be caused by a motor or fan being loose, a piece of debris falling into the fan blades, or another failing component.

A new heating and cooling system can have a significant impact on what you spend to keep your home at a comfortable temperature; especially if you consider a heat pump system. Federal, state, and utility company rebates may also make this the best choice for your home. Other ways to cut down costs are to improve airflow with a higher quality air filter and even upgrading your home's insulation. Planting shade trees is also a great way to decrease the cost of cooling in the summer.

Covering your AC unit can prevent snow accumulation or debris from causing damage to the unit or decreasing its efficiency—especially in the winter when it's not in use. If you decide to cover your AC unit, do it after the summer season when you know you won't be turning it on again. We recommend only covering the top.

Depending on the kind of filter, you may need to inspect or replace your air filter every 2-3 months. We recommend setting filters up for automated delivery every few months as a reminder.

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The average lifespan of a HVAC system is between 15 and 25 years.

Indoor air quality can be improved through a variety of products, including asthma and allergy-friendly air filters like AccuClean, as well as UV light air cleaners and humidifiers.

Newer furnaces and AC systems are more efficient than older comparable systems. Just like with everything else, age can also decrease efficiency—especially when not properly maintained.

About Electric

The circuit and outlets on the system may be overloaded. Breakers trip to prevent overload and as a safety mechanism. Faulty wiring or outlets could also cause a breaker trip.

For most homes, the largest consumers of electricity are air conditioning systems; electric ranges, ovens, dryers, electric water heaters, furnaces, and appliances may also be large consumers depending on what kind they are. Lighting can be a consumer that is easily reduced though energy-efficient LED upgrades.

Most electricians will tell you that the lifespan of wiring is around 25 years. However, many homes have electrical wiring that lasts up to 40 years. Any wiring older than that could be made from material that has since been recalled or discontinued (usually for good reason) and should be considered for replacement.

Faint electrical panel humming may be caused by vibration of electrical currents through the panel and may not be anything to worry about. If your electrical panel is loudly humming it could be from a faulty breaker, loose or damaged wiring or a failing capacitor in your system. Any of these issues should be inspected by a licensed electrician.

You should call an electrician for any electrical problem that's outside of your knowledge. Tampering with electrical systems without knowledge of how to do so safely may cause serious injury or even death. If your electrical problem extends beyond checking tripped breakers or outlets, you may want to consider having an electrician look at your issue. Smoking or scorched outlets, a burning electrical smell, or high voltage should always be checked out by an electrician.

How often a home should be rewired is up for debate, but most people would agree that if your home is wired with material that is no longer sold or allowed by current code standards, you should consider rewiring the home. Some house wiring systems may last 40 years, but the expectation is that you should consider updating some wiring about every 25 years. Insulation around wiring may break down, causing a serious fire risk. Again, if your home's wiring contains material not used today, wiring without grounds, black burn marks around outlets, or recalled or discontinued electrical panels, it may be time to consider rewiring.

The ease of moving an electrical outlet depends on how far it needs to be moved and what kind of material you're dealing with. Adding an extra outlet nearby may be a simple, minimally invasive procedure that does not require drywall repair.

Double-tapped electrical panels are a safety hazard that poses a fire risk. When two wires are plugged into a single circuit breaker not designed to accept two wires, you have a double-tapped electrical panel. The repair can be as simple as changing out the breaker or upgrading the panel itself.

Electrical outlets may fail at any time, but generally, they may need replacing every 15 to 25 years.

About Sewer

Sewer line repair costs could range anywhere from $800 to $28,000. Repair costs vary greatly depending on the complexity, depth, length, location, and sewer district or city/state permitting fees. Sewer repairs on private property less than 8 ft in length may cost between $2,000-$6,000 depending on the depth and surface material; whereas that same repair in a city or state road may cost upwards of $10,000. Sewer repairs in the road cost more, especially if the road is state-owned. We have seen home, city, and state fees exceed $7,000, including road closures needed for repairs.

Shut off the water to the home immediately and stop any washing machines or dishwashers that may be running so they don’t eject more water during their drain-down cycle. Be sure not to flush any toilets and call a plumber to clear the line as soon as possible. Flood mitigation will most likely be necessary to sanitize everything and prevent hazardous mold, especially if sewer or drain water comes in contact with porous material such as wood, drywall, carpet, or underflooring.

Although there is no legitimate data as to the failure rate of a house sewer line, there are some common trends we've noticed: homes older than 1990 that have any portion of their sewer line made from anything other than plastic have a far greater chance of failure. These failures can be caused by poor sloping of the line, misuse and abuse of the system, large trees or bushes in the area with aggressive root systems, heavy traffic over the piping, or lack of maintenance in descaling the line periodically. Earthquakes, nearby construction, poor install practices, and pressure on systems due to blockages may cause systems to start to crack or offset and can lead to total failure as well.

Preventative maintenance for sewer lines may save you from costly repairs in the future. The most important thing you can do to keep your sewer line in good condition is to avoid blockages. Avoiding putting anything down the line except toilet paper and what comes out of your body. Everything else, including wipes, hygiene products, and food waste should go in the trash. Enzymes, routine camera inspections, and hydro jetting may help prevent or catch issues that could become costly. Large trees with deep root beds should be avoided, especially around homes with sewer systems older than 40 years.

Tree roots in sewer lines are a common problem found in older homes with larger trees nearby. There is a good chance you may have a root problem if your home is older than 1985 and your sewer is located within 1.5 times the height of any nearby trees. The only way to know for sure is through a sewer camera or drain cleaning when roots are seen or retrieved.

Sewer lines made of material other than plastic had an average life expectancy of 25 to 35 years. Some newer plastic sewer pipe manufacturers and sewer liner manufacturers anticipate a useful life of their products to be around 50 years.

Sewer lines should be cleaned regularly as needed. Our recommendation is to have your sewer line inspected every one to three years for homes older than 1980. Newer homes with plastic pipes may only need to be inspected every three to five years.

Hydro jetting sewer lines is similar to pressure washing the driveway. Water pressure up to 4,000 psi is delivered through a variety of special heads designed to clean and descale pipes.

Depending on the material of the pipe and the ground surrounding it, Sewer lines need to be replaced or lined after 30 to 50 years. Some lines may last longer. Plastic piping or sewer liners will withstand root penetration, whereas cast iron, clay, cement, asbestos, and orangeburg have been known to have root issues.