At Your Service Plumbing, Heating & Air Blog

Combining HVAC and Landscaping Areas for Efficiency

April 9th, 2019

combining hvac landscaping efficiencySpring is here for Utah homeowners, and that means it’s time to consider a few post-winter HVAC areas to ensure your system is ready to go for the spring and summer. For those who maintain theirs, it’s also an important time of year for landscape design and preparing the property for the growing season.

The pros with At Your Service Plumbing, Heating & Air, though, are here to tell you that this is one period of the year where these two areas might combine briefly. That’s right, our heating and air conditioning pros can offer you some basic expertise on how you can intelligently utilize your landscaping in ways that directly benefit your HVAC system, including saving you major costs on your bill each month. Let’s look at a few themes that are important here.

Natural Shade Options

Are you looking for a way to lower your AC and energy bills in the summer without impacting your comfort or indoor air temperature at all? Your best bet is the natural option available to you: Shade.

Your primary tools here within a landscaping perspective are trees, which can provide major shade and sun cover to huge sections of your property. Many homeowners don’t fully appreciate just how much the sun plays a role in heating your home – simply stopping it from beating down on the outer areas of your house for a few hours a day can save you untold cooling costs, up to 20 percent of your energy bill in many cases. Prioritize tall, broadleaf trees that can reach up to the highest parts of your home, including covering the roof (another major heat transfer area). If possible, look for deciduous options that will show large leaves during the summer but then shed them during the winter, allowing sun to hit the home and assist with your warming needs.

For lower areas of the home, consider shrubs and bushes. These are particularly important for stopping reflected heat, which pings off driveways, sidewalks and other surfaces and shoots into your home. Many homeowners also place shrubs around the AC unit itself to keep it cool and shaded.

Trellis or Pergola

If trees or shrubs are not realistic given your soil or other considerations, or if you simply don’t want to wait for them to grow to the proper sizes, you can consider man-made additions here as well. A trellis or pergola is the perfect choice, an item you can place against the sunniest side of your home to shade it all day long from the sun. For optimal effects, cover this area in vines, leaves or other shade providers.

Water Features

For both ambiance and some cooling effects, consider water features like ponds, waterfalls or others in your landscaping. These will cool an entire yard space by a degree or two at least, making a significant impact on the temperature of air as it reaches your home.

For more on using landscaping to improve your HVAC efficiency, or to learn about any of our heating or cooling services, speak to the staff with At Your Service Plumbing, Heating & Air today.

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Basics and Benefits of Video Pipe Inspections

April 9th, 2019

basics video pipe inspectionsModern technology has impacted several areas of home care, and the plumbing world is a good example. Take drain cleaning, for instance – what used to be restricted mostly to plungers and older metal snakes now utilizes several modern materials or solutions in many cases, bringing cost-effective and efficient methods to clearing drains.

When you come to At Your Service Plumbing, Heating & Air, you’ll find a team that’s fully trained and licensed on all the latest drain cleaning technology. One option here that’s growing in popularity in recent years, particularly for tougher clogs in sewer lines, is the video pipe inspection – what is this, and what can it help with? Here are some basics to understand.

How it Works

Also known as a sewer camera inspection or various similar terms, a video pipe inspection is a process that, as the name suggests, utilizes a small video camera fed into the pipe in question to determine what’s causing a given blockage or issue. During this process, a small, flexible camera will be fixed to a cable that’s meant to feed into pipes and run the whole way through them if needed.

From here, the line will be fed down the pipe until it reaches the blockage or other issue (such as a broken or leaking line). Not only is a camera present, but also a tiny radio transmitter that can track the precise location and depth of the issue and inform the plumber of where they need to work.

Together, these devices make clearing drain issues far more efficient than in the past. Instead of taking educated guesses at what’s causing an issue, or worse yet having to dig up pipes or part of your yard to find out, you can understand the problem quickly and with no mess or hassle, plus your plumber will know exactly what needs to be done to fix your issue.

What it Helps Identify

There are several issues a video pipe inspection can help us identify in your system:

  • Clogs and blockages: Your pipes themselves might be in great condition, but the system itself will not work well if various products or messes have clogged them significantly. A video inspection can not only identify where a clog is, but what it’s made up of and what might be required to clear it.
  • Cracks, breaks or other pipe issues: If your pipes have undergone strain that’s led to cracking, leaking or other breakages, video can identify this as well.
  • Sagging sewer lines: In some cases, sagging sewer pipes will allow waste and other materials to build up in the sagging section, which in turn will cause major blockages. Video can spot this, however.
  • Tree root issues: In certain older sewer lines, tree roots may grow toward the line and even into it as they search for water, causing major issues. Video line inspections can help showcase the issue if it’s taking place.

For more on video drain inspections, or to learn about any of our plumbing or HVAC services, speak to the staff with At Your Service Plumbing, Heating & Air today.

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Utilizing Your HVAC System for a Good Sleep

March 12th, 2019

utilizing hvac system sleepWith proper HVAC technology and maintenance services, like the kind provided by our technicians with At Your Service Plumbing, Heating & Air, you can control the air quality and comfort levels of your home or business to the full extent. Modern systems allow for complete grasp over everything from basic temperatures to several other HVAC areas, allowing you to make life more comfortable without running up a huge energy bill.

One particular area where your ability to control your comfort levels comes in handy? Sleep. You may not realize it, but there are several HVAC areas that relate directly to your body’s consistent ability to get a good night of sleep – let’s look at a few of these areas and how you can optimize them while still keeping your utility bill low.

Proper Temperature Range

The simplest task of your HVAC system is maintaining your desired temperature, and the range you should be in here is more specific than you might think when it comes to sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends all humans sleep with the temperature somewhere between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit.

If your room is significantly colder or warmer than this, it could lead to restlessness and the disruption of REM sleep, a vital bodily cycle. You should be on the higher end of this range if a baby or toddler sleeps in the room with you, but never exceed 70 for any reason.

Humidity Concerns

Beyond just the temperature, the humidity of your room is also very important. Too much can lead to a damp, muggy feeling that’s both unhealthy and can risk the wood in your home. If humidity is too low, on the other hand, the room – and possibly your skin, throat, hair and nasal passages – will feel very dry.

The optimal range for humidity is between 40 and 45 percent in general, and humidity level detectors are cheaply purchased at any home improvement store. If your home has consistent low humidity issues, speak to our pros about a whole-home humidifier.

Thermostat Options

The thermostat controls much of the above, and which option you choose will play a big role in how tight your grip is. Most homes today have at least a programmable thermostat, which allows you to set a schedule that includes sleep hours – you can have the temperature drop into the proper range if you prefer it higher than 67 during the day, for instance.

There are additional options out there as well, however. A zoned HVAC system includes multiple thermostats that are each responsible for their own area, allowing you to adjust bedroom temperatures only if you want. There are also smart thermostat options that can be controlled from anywhere using your smartphone.

Utilizing Fans

If you’re looking for a low-cost way to cool your room down at night, consider your ceiling fans. These not only can lower the temperature by a degree or two, they circulate air and keep it fresh all night.

For more on utilizing your HVAC system for a good night’s rest, or to learn about any of our HVAC or plumbing services, contact the pros with At Your Service Plumbing, Heating & Air today.

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Assessing and Addressing Slow Water Heating Concerns

February 12th, 2019

slow water heating concernsMany of us have experienced one of the most frustrating winter plumbing concerns out there: You turn on the hot water faucet, whether from the sink or shower, and it takes what feels like forever to get any actual hot water. Water stays cold for up to a minute or two, wasting you valuable water and showcasing a prominent sign that something might be amiss with your water heater or delivery system.

When you come to the pros with At Your Service Plumbing, Heating & Air, we can help if this has happened to you. Our HVAC professionals can assess your system and determine what the issue is, then offer cost-effective solutions. Let’s look at what some of these causes might be for slow hot water delivery, plus dive into whether our modern tankless water heater systems might be the right choice for your if you’re experiencing this issue.

Possible Explanations

  • Proximity: The primary cause of slow hot water delivery in many homes simply comes down to how far away certain water features are from the water heater. This is particularly concerning if pipes are old and may have buildups in them.
  • Water heater issues: Especially if your model is over 10 years old, it may be failing or becoming far less efficient. We can provide inspections that will help you determine whether repairs will suffice or you need a new heater altogether. In many cases, the issue is sediment that’s built up over years, causing the heater to take longer in between refills. We can flush the tank out and leave you with a virtually brand new heater, so long as it hasn’t degraded too far.
  • Low volume restrictor: Are these issues taking place in a home you’ve recently moved into? It’s possible the home has a low volume restrictor installed on certain fixtures, which will delay water delivery in some cases.

How a Tankless System Helps

If our assessment of your system reveals that you need a new water heater, we strongly recommend considering one of our tankless options. These whole-house heaters use a different kind of heating technology for your home – rather than keeping water in a pre-heated tank, tankless heaters heat “on-demand” using a high-efficiency heat exchanger.

What this means is, anytime you turn on a hot water tap or appliance in the home, the system kicks in. The heating element is powerful enough to heat water virtually instantly, which avoids the need for a tank to constantly keep many gallons of water hot. In turn, this can lower your energy bill and water bill alike – you use less energy to keep water hot, and also waste less water waiting for the heat to appear.

For more on issues with water heating and whether a tankless option is right for you, or to learn about any of our HVAC or plumbing services, speak to the pros with At Your Service Plumbing, Heating & Air today.

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Preventing Pest Access Via HVAC System

January 18th, 2019

preventing pest access hvacOne simple reality of any HVAC system, whether in a home or business, is that it will have some connection to the outdoors. Air has to be exchanged between outdoors and indoors as part of basic heating and cooling operations, and this does present at least the theoretical risk of various outdoor critters – from tiny pests to larger rodents – attempting to invade.

Luckily, the pros with At Your Service Plumbing, Heating & Air are here to help prevent this from happening to you during our various heating maintenance services. Let’s go over a few of the broad basics on pests and your home, plus how you can prevent them from invading through various HVAC-related channels.

Pests, Warmth and Indoor Locations

In general, most pests and rodents are always on the hunt for warmth and food – especially during the winter when these are less available in outdoor areas. They will go to great lengths to seek out warm areas that provide moisture and any scraps of food they can find, and when it gets cold, this often means they look to your home for refuge.

Your exact pest risks may vary based on your area or other factors, but your HVAC system has several characteristics they’ll often go for. They love to flock to moisture areas, such as leaking water heaters. Some of them are capable of chewing through significant materials, as well, meaning you have to keep yourself protected. Our next section will go over just how you can go about this.

Tips for HVAC-Related Pest Prevention

A few basic tips we can recommend for keeping your HVAC system fully protected from any pests or other invaders, both during this winter and throughout the year:

  • Seal off entry points: One of the primary aspects of our heating and air services is inspections, and one element of these inspections is checking for entry points where air might be able to get in – but also various pests. We can help you with everything from protective screens to pinpointing draft areas, which may point you to the cracks or openings where pests are entering and allow you to seal them off effectively.
  • Ductwork: Duct material can wear down over time, particularly if you have any duct tape on your vents. Make sure you regularly check your ducts for leaks, as several pests may look to nest in them if you don’t.
  • Moisture: Any puddling water is an invitation for certain pests to gather and breed, so look to prevent this however you can. Seal outdoor areas and use dehumidifiers if certain areas of your home are too humid generally.
  • Pest control and inspections: Basic pest inspections and spraying can go a long way here, as can basic HVAC inspections to ensure your system doesn’t have any easy openings for pests.

For more on preventing pest access through your HVAC system, or to learn about any of our other HVAC or plumbing services, speak to the pros with At Your Service Plumbing, Heating & Air today.

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All About Sump Pumps  

October 22nd, 2018

slightly-used-sump-pumpWhen it comes to flooding and heavy rains, it might seem like there’s little hope for your property. After all, there’s very little anyone can do about the forces of nature. However, sump pumps can do more than a little to help your home suffer from water damage during these harsh conditions. Below, we’ll explain in detail how sump pumps work and the kinds that are available on the market.

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Are Tankless Water Heaters Truly More Efficient?

October 8th, 2018

tankless-water-heaterYou may have heard all kinds of things about the efficiency and performance of tankless water heaters, especially if you’re doing your research into water heater upgrades. You might have a tank water heater right now, or maybe you’re just wondering if your tankless water heater is really the best choice for your home.

If you’re debating whether a tankless water heater is truly the most efficient option for your home, we’ll help you figure it out below.

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3 Unexpected Reasons Your Air Conditioner Isn’t Working

September 24th, 2018

blue-question-markIs your air conditioner simply not working the way it’s supposed to? Or maybe it seems to be working fine, but your recent energy bill tells a different story. If you’re not noticing anything obvious that would lead to your AC’s poor performance, it could be something you’d never expect, such as:

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Should I Install a Furnace or Boiler?

September 10th, 2018

radiatorIf your only concern is whether your home is being heated or not—and whether the monthly energy bill is staying at a reasonable rate—you may not have given much thought to how your heating system works. But even if you’re already satisfied with the system inside your home, it won’t hurt to know how furnaces and boilers work. And when it comes time to replace your current heating system in Salt Lake City, UT, you might find that one is more suited for your needs than the other. In this post, we’ll break down some differences between the two to help you decide.

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Be Careful When Living With Old Pipes in Your Plumbing

August 27th, 2018

copper-pipes

If your home is old and you know that it has old pipes, you should also know getting them replaced as soon as possible will be the best choice for your health and to prevent any future plumbing disasters. However, we’re not here to lecture you.

Actually, we are, just a little bit. At the very least, there’s a chance that being aware of why old pipes are bad for your home could be very helpful to you, either now or in the future. In this post, we’ll explain just a few reasons that old pipes could be trouble if not dealt with.

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