Choosing The Right Water Heater

Choosing the right water heater is not simply a matter of the best brand or having the bigger, the better. With the cost of energy rising, our first consideration will be what is enough for your household? Considering usage, what type of water heater will be best? A household spends between 14-20% a year of the utility bills on water heating. Know the different types, heat source, size, and costs before you decide.

Types of Water Heaters

Conventional Storage Tank Water Heaters

This is the most common type of water heater.  Water is heated in the tank either by gas or electricity and stored until needed. Natural gas types of storage tank heaters cost less than the electric type, though the natural gas water heaters have a higher initial out-of-the-pocket cost. They generally cost less than other water heaters. Still, in general, this wastes energy as water in the tank is kept heated.

Storage water tank heaters last about 10-15 years.

Fuel sources: Electricity, propane, natural gas, fuel oil

Tankless or On-Demand Water Heater

A tankless water heater provides heat only when you turn on the faucet or shower, and as such is more energy efficient. However, with multiple simultaneous users, it becomes less efficient in heating water consistently. To solve this you might need another tankless water heater if hot water usage is high. This is more costly than a storage water tank heater.

The good note is that tankless water heaters last longer, about 20 years or more.

Fuel sources:  Electricity, propane, natural gas

Heat Pump Water Heater

Heat Pumps work by pulling heat from the air and then transferring it to to the tank to heat the water. They are more energy efficient than conventional storage tank heaters, but they cost more to install. Furthermore, this type of heater doesn’t work well in cold places, and they need to be installed in places that maintain heat between 40-90 degrees. Heat pump water heaters also need more space of clearance around it to be able to capture enough heat from the air, plus a drain for the resulting condensate.

Heat Pump water heaters last about the same as the storage tank type, 10-15 years.

Fuel sources:  Electricity, propane, natural gas

Solar Water Heater

As the name suggests, solar panels installed on the roof absorb the sun’s heat and transfer the heat into the storage tank. Though this is earth-friendly as it uses nature’s own heat, this may not be enough on cloudy days or when demand is high, or where there is not too much sun. You will still need a backup heater just in case. They are also relatively expensive to install.

Solar water heaters last about 20 years.

Fuel source: Solar heat

Tankless Coil or Indirect Water Heaters

A tankless coil water heater works by water flowing through a heating coil in the main furnace or boiler. They may not be efficient all the time. Indirect water heaters, on the other hand, are more efficient. They work by using the boiler or main furnace to heat fluid through a heat exchanger in the storage tank.

The lifespan of tankless and indirect water heaters: 10 years.

Fuel sources: Electricity, propane, natural gas, fuel oil.

Aside from choosing the right water heater and the availability of fuel source in your area, you also need to consider the size/capacity. Contact us for a more efficient estimate and to get your best options in choosing the right water heater.

The Benefits of Tankless Water Heaters

Tankless water heaters are becoming the product of choice over the traditional hot water heaters.  Consider the several advantages of a tankless water heater.

Benefits of Tankless Water Heaters

Energy Efficient

tankless water heatersTankless heaters use up less energy as it heats up water only when you turn the faucet or shower on. This means more savings for your household, aside from the fact that you are helping the environment in conserving energy. Imagine needlessly keeping about 50 gallons of water hot in a storage tank versus using heat only as needed. This translates to earth-friendly efficiency. Energy savings will be about 30-50% more.  You also enjoy a steady hot water supply as needed.

Space Saving

Tankless water heaters take up significantly less space than units with tanks, thus you can be more flexible with the installation.  You can install a small water heater in a closet or under a cabinet, nearer to area of usage.

Cleaner, Safer Water

When you use water from a tank, you are using stored water with a possible build-up of scale and rust. This does not have to be the case with a tankless water heater.

Reliable and Durable

Tankless water heaters last much longer by 5-10 years, even more.

As for the disadvantages of a tankless water heater, the main concern is the initial, out-of-the-pocket cost. The tankless types can cost up to three times more. There might also be additional installation costs, like adding a natural gas line for gas heaters or possibly installing additional circuit for electric models.

Considering these costs may be overwhelming, but consider the long-term benefits.  With a traditional storage tank heater, you might have to replace it again in approximately 10 years. This plus the monthly cost add-on to your energy bill by 40% more. Tankless water heaters give significantly more years of use.

If you are considering a tankless water heater, contact us now.

Plumbing Problems: Knowing When To Call Your Plumber

We all associate a plumber for common plumbing problems like water leaks under the sink and drainage problems, but there are telltale signs when you need to call your emergency plumber.

Symptoms of Plumbing Problems

Water Bills Become Higher Than Usual

A higher water bill suggests burst water pipes or your toilet’s flush not working properly, causing toilet running all the time. Aside from burst water pipes that will obviously cause some puddles in your basement, floor, or seeping through the walls of your home, or a toilet running all the time.

Slow Draining Toilets

This is a symptom that necessitates an emergency plumber.  This strongly suggests there is a clog along the lines. This might soon get to the point that your toilet gets fully clogged. Do not wait till your toilet gets totally clogged and not working.

Water Heater Problems

If your water heater is not working, this is also an issue of concern especially for safety that needs the attention of your emergency plumber.

Gas Leaks

Aside from usual plumbing problems, your plumber also takes care of your copper pipes and furnace connections. This is one of the most serious plumbing problems that require immediate attention.  This can pose health hazards when there is gas/carbon monoxide leak. Another gas line that needs checking for leaks is when you have built-in barbecues. This is a danger that might not be too obvious since it is in open air and leaks dissipate quickly. Hence, whether you smell a gas leak or not, have your plumber inspect this regularly.

Frozen Pipes

Extreme cold temperatures can cause water to stop running into your home due to frozen pipes.  This needs an emergency plumber to defrost the pipe as well as ensure that the frozen pipes do not crack or burst which causes an even bigger problem.

Need an Emergency Plumber?

Contact American Air to check your plumbing system and thus avoid situations at home that can be anywhere from a minor discomfort to a serious problem.

Plumbing Advice from American Air


american-airBasic plumbing knowledge is important for everyone that owns or even rents a house. Oftentimes, unexpected blocks or leaks interrupt the entire water flow of your house. Solving simple plumbing problems is easy if you know how to deal with them. Leave the complicated ones to a professional plumber. 
Small do-it-yourself fixes do not require much time and will save you some money. The following plumbing advice from American Air will help you solve plumbing issues at home.

Plumbing Advice from American Air:

  • Identify Your Drainage Pipes. The first important plumbing need-to-know (whether you own the house or not) is where your drainage pipes are. You need to know all the main and secondary drainage pipes that lead to the different areas of your house. This is necessary so you can identify the root cause of the plumbing problem.
  • Correct Use of the Bathroom. Bathrooms are the most abused areas in any home. It is where major drainage blockages and leaks occur. Many times, people treat their toilet as a garbage disposal. Materials such as toilet paper, paper towels, hygiene pads, cotton balls, diapers, etc. are flushed in the toilet and cause severe clogs, blockages, and breaking of drainage pipes. Ensure that drainage pipes in the bathroom are free of all waste materials.
  • Install Drain Filters. Make sure to use drain filters. These are essential tools to prevent your drains from any clogs or blockages caused by accidental or unavoidable debris and clutter. Always clean the drain filters regularly to prevent any deposits, scum or oil from accumulating. These elements can cause flooding in your bathroom or overflow of water in your sink. They are also major hindrances to having a free-flowing drainage system.
  • Learn how to Use Basic Plumbing Tools. Know what the basic plumbing tools are and have them on hand at home.

Learning to solve small issues at home not only saves you time and money but also makes you confident and highly independent! Remember, however, do not to try your hand at fixing plumbing problems you are not capable of doing. Always seek the advice of a professional plumber if you are unsure about anything.

How to Troubleshoot Common Plumbing Problems

plumbingTroubleshooting simple plumbing problems is one of the basics every homeowner should know. Even if you don’t have plumbing skills, knowing the basics will save you from bigger issues down the road and will help in maintaining your home.

Here are some of the most common plumbing problems:

  • How to handle a Water Leak. It is important for every homeowner to know the location of the main shutoff valve that supplies water to your house. You also need to know the location of all the shutoff valves that control the water supply to your appliances and utilities in the kitchen, basement, bathroom, toilet, and yard. To locate the shutoff valves, you need to inspect your kitchen sink, water heaters, heating systems, toilet pipes, tubs, and other appliances. If you are having difficulty finding them, ask a plumber or someone who knows a little more about plumbing.  By identifying the location of these valves, you will be able to turn them off in case you have an emergency water leak and/or a broken pipe. You will still need the help of a plumber to make the repair, but being able to put things under control first is a big help!
  • Here are the steps to take if you have a broken pipe. 1) Turn off every valve that feeds water to the leaky or broken pipe to stop the water from breaking the pipe. 2) If there is no exclusive shutoff valve to stop the flow of water to the broken pipe, shut off the main valve that supplies water to your whole house. And 3) if the flow of water did not stop immediately after shutting off the water supply, open all the cold-water faucets to release the water in the entire system. Remember you only need to open only the cold-water faucets and not the hot water faucets.
  • Here is some info about clogged drains: A clogged drain slows or stops water from flowing properly in your drainage system. The worst that can happen is when your plumbing systems blocks to a standstill and you cannot use water anywhere in your home without having water overflow. It is common to use chemicals to unclog drains. Be careful if you decide to do this, drainpipes inside the wall may get damage with continuous exposure to chemicals.  If you decide to use chemicals: 1) Dilute the acid by adding water before pouring it into the drain. 2) Use gloves and eye protection when pouring the chemicals. 3) Read the instructions carefully. Using a drain cleaning cable is another option that can help remove clogs in the drain line. This should be done by a professional plumber. So if the chemicals don’t work, call American Air to have one of our plumbers come help.

Being able to troubleshoot and act quickly when plumbing emergencies arise, will help save your home from further damage. Assess the situation, do what you can, and then call one of our plumbers at American Air to come and get your plumbing back to working order.

What You Need to Know About Your Main Water Line

main water line

Clean, fresh water is essential in our daily life. Problems, particularly ones concerning health, can arise without clean water flowing into your home. To ensure that the water flowing into your home is healthy and drinkable; your main water line needs to be in good condition. The water line installed in your home should be very strong and built to last for years. However, no matter how strong the water line is, other factors can cause damage. These include corrosion, tree roots and the type of pipe used depending on how old is your home.

You don’t need to be a plumber to identify if your main water line is defective. Understanding a few basics will help to know if it needs replacing or repaired.

Following are some warning signs to look for:

  • Low water pressure. A drop in water pressure could mean a leaking water line and that you are losing water. Although several factors can cause low water pressure, a leak in the water line is one of them.
  • Discoloration of water. Rust-brown color in your water is another warning sign of a defective main water line. Factors that can cause the water discoloration include soil and dirt entering the water line, which means your water line has cracks and/or corrosion. Poor soil conditions due to high chloride content and low soil resistivity can corrode the pipes from the outside leading to leaks and contamination.
  • Wet areas on your lawn. Wet areas on your lawn, even if it didn’t rain, could mean leaking water underneath the surface of your lawn. This is coming from a crack in your water line. Check this immediately to prevent flooding on your lawn.
  • Increased water bill. An unusual or significant increase in your water bill, although there are no additional consumptions, signifies a problem in your water line. Have this checked to determine it is time to replace or repair your main water line?

 

What can damage your water lines?

  • Extreme weather changes. Extreme weather changes can damage your main water line. A 10-degree change, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, can cause cracks in the water line. This is because the pipes become fragile when the temperature gets below 40oF. Alternatively, the ground freezes if air temperatures are at or below freezing point. It takes one or two days after the freezing temperature before the water line can break because the water temperature requires more time to decrease compared to air temperature.
  • The age of the pipes. Older pipes are prone to cracking. In a study conducted by the Buried Structures Laboratory of Utah State University, they found that almost a quarter of all U.S. water mains are over 50 years old. These pipes are generally made of steel, clay or tile, materials that are susceptible to deterioration or corrosion over time.

 

Being observant and checking for warning signs will help you to know when your water line needs a replacement or repair. Water line repair is something that should be done by the experts. Call the plumbers at American Air if you are experiencing a problem with your main water line.

How to Prevent Frozen Pipes

frozen-pipesWhat causes pipes to freeze? During the cold months, the water that comes into your house from outside much is colder than it was during the summer months. Pipes contract because of the cold water and this usually results in small cracks or leaks in the weakened parts of the pipes. Water in a crack will expand if it freezes, causing the pipe to burst. This could cause hundreds or thousands of dollars in damage to your home.

There are no practical methods to heat up the ground temperature surrounding your home. Moreover, you have no way of controlling the contraction caused by the cold water to your pipes and stopping the leaks when the temperature drops. The best thing you can do is to check your pipes for any leaks as soon as the temperatures change.  

Prevent Frozen Pipes

To prevent your pipes from freezing and bursting, follow these tips.

  • Lines located near a window or an outside wall are prone to freezing. Check your basement and look for any lines near the exterior of your home. Direct warm air to the colder areas of the home, where the pipes are located.
  • Always run one or two faucets slowly if the outside temperature is extremely cold. Especially if the heat were to go out in your home. The pipes will not freeze when water moves through it.
  • Kitchen sinks are usually on an outside wall. Leave your cabinet doors open to let warm air into the cabinet. Leave your kitchen faucet on during extremely cold weather.
  • Detach your hose from the outside faucet. Water will not drain out of the hose hydrant or silcock if the hose is left attached to it. This results in frozen pipes and rupture.
  • Keep your pipes warm during extremely cold weather by installing heat tapes around the pipes.
  • Always check the temperature in any areas of your home where the pipes are located during cold weather. The temperature should not drop below 32 degrees.
  • Check your home for any leaks that permit cold air to enter. Inspect the areas around dryer vents, electrical wiring, and pipes. Use insulation or caulk to seal the leaks and to keep the cold from getting into your home. Cold air can go into your home even through a tiny opening when the weather is severely cold, leading to frozen pipes.
  • Call a licensed plumber to examine your pipes. Ask advice on how to prevent frozen pipes.

 

If you have any questions about preventing your pipes from freezing and bursting, call American Air for a consult.

Is My Hot Water Heater Going Bad?

hot-water-heaterYour home’s water heater is a modern convenience that often gets taken advantage of until something goes wrong. If your hot water heater is having any of the problems listed below- it might be time to have it replaced or maintenance by a licensed plumber.

  • Inadequate Hot Water. Insufficient hot water is the most common sign that a water heater going bad. Mineral build-up occurs when water is heated. These mineral deposits settle to the bottom of the hot water storage tank and act as an insulator, keeping the heat produced by the burner to reach the water in the tank. However, the buildup of mineral deposits reduces the heat that reaches the water, so the supply of hot water is reduced.  
  • Foul Smell. Your hot water heater is going bad if the water has a foul smell. When the mineral deposits go out of the water heater, it gives the water a foul smell. These deposits move to your tap, blocking the screens in the aerators that lead to the slow flow of water.
  • Dull Color or Muddy Water. Dull color or muddy water indicates that your water heater is malfunctioning. Increased mineral deposits in the tank can make discolor the water, causing it to look dull or muddy. Turn off the unit then connect a hose to the drainage bib, drain and inspect the contents.
  • Banging or Popping Noise. Banging or popping noise is another sign that your hot water heater is going bad. This noise is caused by the buildup of mineral deposits in the water tank. These deposits insulate the heat from the water as water is being heated by the hot water heater, which causes the tank to overheat and make the banging or popping noises. Metal fatigue results because of the constant heating of the tank and sooner or later, it will break down and starts to leak. To prevent this, flush the tank annually.
  • Leaking or Corroded Connections. Leaking or corroded connections to your hot water heater indicate trouble. To prevent corrosion, hot water heaters use an anode that weakens in time due to the natural corrosion process. The corrosive forces start to attack the tank and connections when the element weakens that leads the water heater to go bad.
  • Leaking Water Tank. It is pretty obvious that there is a problem when your hot water tank leaks. Turn off the gas or disconnect the electricity to the tank to allow the water to cool down. Remove and replace your leaking water tank immediately to prevent any flooding.
  • Water is Too Hot or Not Enough. Adjusting the thermostat can solve this problem. The ideal hot water temperature for most households is between 120 and 140 degrees. Your tank could have a broken heating element if the water is not too hot or hot enough or no hot water is coming from it. If your hot water tank is run by natural gas, then the gas thermocouple might be broken. Replace this element to enjoy the hot water supply.

 

Hot water heater installation requires the skill of a professional plumber. Call American Air if you think yours might need replacing.

Buying an Old House? Have the Main Plumbing Line Scoped

main plumbing lineBuying an old house may seem grand, they are full of history and character; but they can also be full of costly problems. A house inspection is critical when buying a house, particularly if you decide to buy an older house. One of the most neglected areas during house inspection is the sewer line. The main plumbing line (sewer line) flows away from the house all the way to the street. Most home inspectors do not check the main plumbing line because it is hidden in the ground. They also do not have the right equipment to check it. If you are purchasing an old home, we recommend having the main plumbing line scoped by a licensed plumber.

Why to Have the Main Plumbing Line Scoped

Prevention. Identifying a problem before it turns up is much better than waiting for it to become serious. Leaking, flooding and foul smell are signs that there is a problem. A plumbing camera is inserted in your internal piping system that helps identify any plumbing issues easily. In older homes, the main plumbing line is typically made of cast iron. These lines can rust and disintegrate over time; allowing sewage to leak into the ground, or tree roots to invade and clog the line. If the camera scope shows leaking or blockage, you will be able to have the problem fixed before you purchase the home. This will save you thousands of dollars and a lot of headaches.

Even if you already own an older home, having the main plumbing line scoped could help prevent a bigger problem before it starts. Call American Air today if you have any plumbing concerns or questions. Our licensed plumbers are available to help!

Don’t Be a “Jimmy Rig” Plumbing Expert

SONY DSC

Doing plumbing fixes on your own can many times lead to more problems. You may have performed simple plumbing tasks like fixing a leaking faucet- but this does not qualify you to do bigger plumbing jobs. Bigger plumbing issues should be performed by a certified and highly-trained plumber.

Plumbing projects you shouldn’t Jimmy Rig

  • Remodeling your kitchen or bathroom. Rooms without plumbing are a lot easier to renovate than rooms with. To ensure that you and your home are safe during a kitchen or bathroom remodel, hire a plumbing contractor. They will be more familiar with building codes and permits; and will be more prepared if/when complications arise.
  • Installing a major appliance. Water heaters, dishwashers, refrigerators and washing machines all require a plumbing hook up. To make sure that they are installed correctly, leave it to the expert.
  • Leaking pipes. Tightening up the pipe yourself might be for your first impulse; but an incorrect repair on a leaky pipe would not only result in continuous water loss, it can become hazardous to the environment. Mold starts to grow as the water leaks and household surfaces get moisture residue.

 

Plumbing projects you can DIY

  • Replacing a faucet. Many times, when you move into a new house, one of your first projects is to replace outdated faucets. This is a relatively easy project. A new faucet can be purchased at any hardware store, and some even come with directions.
  • Changing the hose of your washing machine. The hose of modern washing machines is susceptible to bursting, and that could lead to a flooded basement or home. These should get replaced every 5 years. If you’re feeling confident, this is something you can do yourself.
  • Unclogging a drain. Whether it’s hair in the shower, food in the kitchen sink or a full toilet; there are items you can purchase to unclog your drain. If your first few attempts fail, you are most likely dealing with a bigger issue and it’s time to call a professional.

 

Trying to be a Jimmy Rig expert may be your initial reaction, but you need to think again. Ask yourself – Are you confident enough to fix the problem? Do you understand anything about plumbing? If not, don’t attempt to fix the plumbing problem. Call American Air instead and you get the assurance of having a qualified plumber to fix your plumbing problems.