12 Plumbing Facts You Never Knew

At Green Apple Mechanical NJ our service is almost as popular as our HVAC services. From toilets to sewer lines to showers and more – we’ve got you covered. For fun, check out these interesting facts that you may not have known about plumbing:
1. Standardized plumbing can be traced back to around 3,000 B.C. when the Indus River Valley civilization used earthen plumbing pipes to provide transportable water and drain wastes.
2. If you have a leaky faucet that drips twice per minute, you’ll waste over a gallon of water in a week.
3. The flushing toilet was invented by John Harrington in 1596, which is where we get the nickname “the John.” We also call the toilet “the crapper” because of Thomas Crapper, who widely increased the popularity of it.
4. Mario and Luigi (of the video game Super Mario Brothers) are plumbers.
5. Ever hear the myth that when you flush a toilet in the Southern Hemisphere, the water flows the opposite direction? It’s not true. It’s possible for the water to flow either direction in either hemisphere.
6. The word “plumber” comes from the Latin word “plumbum,” which means “lead.”
7. There are two different types of plungers – a toilet plunger and a sink/shower plunger. Toilet plungers narrow at the bottom to fit into the toilet while sink/shower plungers are flat.
8. In 1939, Al Moen invented the single-handle faucet that can control hot and cold water in just one turn.
9. Insulating your home’s pipes can reduce the amount of heat lost as your water travels from your heater to your faucet. You’ll run less water waiting for it to warm up and save money on your utility bills.
10. The floating mechanism in your toilet’s water tank is called a ballcock and it controls the flow of water.
11. The first fire sprinkler system was invented by a British man named Sir William Congreve. He perforated pipes along the ceiling and installed a valve outside the building that could be opened to send water through them.
12. Manhole covers are circular because if they’re turned sideways, they can’t fall through their own opening.
If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to call your friends at Green Apple Mechanical NJ toll free at 888-611-7191

Maintenance Tips: Central Air Conditioner

Perform a few simple maintenance tasks, schedule professional HVAC service on a yearly basis, and enjoy efficient performance and trouble-free operation of your central air conditioner throughout its expected lifespan (and maybe longer).
Invented after the turn of the 20th century but not mass-produced for homes until after World War II, the air conditioner has increased our comfort and modified the landscape from coast to coast. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) 2009 American Housing Survey (AHS), 75% of owner-occupied housing in the United States has a central air conditioning unit. The average life expectancy of these air conditioning units is 10–15 years, according to the Study of Life Expectancy of Home Components, prepared in 2007 by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). Neglecting your unit will result in a shortened lifetime, costly repairs, and higher energy costs due to inefficient operation. Maintain your unit and you will extend its lifetime and keep repair and energy costs low while ensuring your comfort on those hot summer days.
A central air conditioner is part of your home’s heating and cooling system. A central air conditioner is a closed loop system, and the specific components that make up the central air conditioning portion of your heating and cooling system include a condenser (outside) and an evaporator (inside). The condenser contains a compressor, coils, and fins. Piped refrigerant is compressed under high pressure and temperature in the compressor and then travels as a  superheated vapor into the coils. It expands into a cool, low-pressure gas as it enters the evaporator, which is located on the supply side of a furnace, within the plenum. After warm air from the return side is filtered, the furnace blower directs air over a chilled evaporator. This supplies cooled, conditioned air to rooms within your home.

HVAC Technician Responsibilities

Your trusted HVAC technician is the best source for information about your home’s central air conditioning system. The technician should be able to properly maintain, troubleshoot, provide parts for, and make necessary repairs to your air conditioner. “Consumers should find a company that they trust and use them for all of their HVAC needs. A technician who has a complete service history will know that an HVAC system has had factory-authorized parts installed versus after-market parts, which may affect the proper operation and UL listing of the equipment.
Keep in mind; it is best to schedule professional HVAC service before it is needed. Generally speaking, maintenance on the cooling portion should be done once a year, during the spring. This spring service call should include the following maintenance tasks:

  • Ensure that the thermostat is functioning properly,

  • Inspect the furnace filter,

  • Inspect and clean the evaporator and coil,

  • Inspect, clean, and adjust the blower motor,

  • Inspect the condensate drain for blockage,

  • Inspect and clean the condenser and coil,

  • Inspect the fan motor and blades for damage and proper operation,

  • Inspect all components, wiring, and controls to ensure that they are safe and working properly, and

  • Inspect refrigerant piping for leakage, repair any existing leak(s), measure and (if necessary) balance the refrigerant level.

While most of these tasks are related to the mechanical operation of a central air conditioning system and it is possible for a knowledgeable homeowner with the proper tools to complete such tasks, refrigerant within the system is dangerous to the ozone and as such is federally regulated. Federal regulations govern an individual’s ability to purchase, dispose of, and handle refrigerant. Section 608 of the Clean Air Act of 1990 requires an EPA Refrigerant Usage Certification in order to purchase refrigerant and repair systems containing ozone-depleting refrigerants such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) or hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). With regard to disposal of refrigerant, the EPA states that “it is illegal to intentionally release any refrigerant during the maintenance, service, repair, or disposal of refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment, unless [the] EPA determines that such a release does not pose a threat to the environment. It is illegal to intentionally vent all CFC, HCFC, and HFC refrigerants including, but not limited to, R12, R22, R134A, R404A, and R410A.” Balanced refrigerant levels within a system are essential to proper operation. An out-of-balance system will operate less efficiently than a balanced system and will have higher energy costs and a reduced lifetime.

Homeowner’s Responsibilities

In comparison, a homeowner’s responsibilities are somewhat limited in scope. However, this doesn’t preclude the importance of completing them. “We often run into ‘lack of filter replacement’ problems at our customers’ homes. Regular filter replacement is the single most important thing a homeowner can do to help maintain their HVAC system,” say experts. If you’re a homeowner, you should perform these simple tasks:

  • Inspect your furnace filter monthly, changing or cleaning it as needed. How often you change your furnace filter depends on the type of filter you have, furnace blower fan operation, and the conditions that exist in your household.

  • Turn off power to the furnace. Clean the condensate drain line using a vinegar and water solution.

  • Inspect the condenser (outside) and the area surrounding the unit. Using a carpenter’s level, ensure that the condenser is sitting level. The condenser should be able to efficiently draw air into the system. Remove any debris, keep the landscaping cut back at least 2′ –3′ from the unit, and trim grass and weeds that surround it.

  • Use a garden hose to gently spray off the exterior side of the condenser. Rinsing the condenser clears any loose dirt, debris, or residue from the components and metal surfaces. For safety reasons, disconnect power at the condenser prior to working around it.

  • During the cold months, covering the entire condenser is not advised.  Water trapped in the interior of the condenser may cause the metal components to corrode. If you want to prevent objects and debris from falling into the condenser, you can cover the top opening with an appropriate material safely secured to the unit.

Beyond the aforementioned tasks, you can also perform a couple of inspections  to ensure optimal performance of your HVAC system.

  • Take a trip to each room of your home and identify return and supply grilles. Ensure that no objects (such as furniture, rugs, clothing, baskets, etc.) are sitting on or blocking the return and supply grilles.

  • Inspect the ductwork, where it is accessible, in the attic, basement, and/or crawl space of your home. Examine ductwork for holes, loose tape, disconnected sections, etc. If you notice any of these problems, repair and/or seal these areas by using a mastic sealant or insulation and metal tape. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has developed a helpful Energy Star guide,Duct Sealing, which contains more information regarding common duct problems and solutions to prevent air leakage.

When you spend a little time each spring performing a few simple maintenance tasks and schedule yearly service for your HVAC system, you will remain cool during the hot summer months, keep more money in your pocket, and extend the life of your air conditioner.
If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to call your friends at Green Apple Mechanical toll free at 888-611-7191

DUCTS MATTER – A LOT

One reason systems may appear not to be producing enough cold air is because of duct leakage. Duct leakage can sap 20 to 40% of the energy out of even a well-operating air conditioner, if the ducts pass outside the cooled space (this includes attics, crawlspaces and garages). Ducts outside need to be well insulated. Various products exist specifically for insulating ducts that can be installed by a keen home owner or a professional contractor.
You might be able to get an extra half ton of air conditioner capacity for free, if you seal your leaky ducts. If the ducts are accessible, handy consumers can seal ducts with mastic—that white sticky stuff you can paint on the ducts. Otherwise you would need a professional to seal the ducts.
If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact your friends at Green Apple Mechanical NJ toll free at 888-611-7191

5 Tips for Keeping Kitchen and Bathroom Sinks Clean & Clear

Knowing what causes the drains in your home to become blocked, and understanding how to keep them clear, can save you from having to call a plumber. Better yet, when you can maintain free-flowing drains, it is easier to keep your sinks and bathtub clean and clear. They will be less likely to get coated with deposits of whatever gunk that would otherwise become backed up and make a mess.
Bathroom drains routinely become slow from sticky substances like toothpaste, shaving cream and hair which all collect in the drain pipe. Kitchen sink drains have similar problems because oil and grease tend to solidify and build up over time.

Clean & Clear Tips From the Pros

It is easy to treat and prevent these issues using items you already have at home. Below are some ways you can clear your drains and keep them running smoothly:
1. Do-It-Yourself
Bathroom sinks and tubs usually become slow and blocked for different reasons than kitchen sinks, so you have to deal with them in different ways. For cleaning bathroom drains, ordinary table salt can be a very effective ingredient in your toolbox. Pour at least one tablespoon of salt into your bathroom drain followed by 1⁄4 cup of plain white vinegar, and let it sit for an hour. Then, run HOT water to clear out the all of the loosened substances from the drain. For best results do this a second time.
2. Maintain Your Sinks
To keep your drain clear after you clean it out in this manner, from time to time pour a little bleach into the sink. Let it sit overnight or for at least an hour before you run water down the drain again.
3. Ditch the Grease
Grease build-up in your kitchen sink drain can be remedied with liquid dish detergent and a large volume of boiling water. Put a big pot of water on the stove and bring it to a boil. Squirt a generous amount of dish liquid (at least a tablespoon) directly into your drain and pour the boiling water into the drain, a little at a time. The rapidly boiling water will melt grease deposits while the detergent helps to dissolve grease and oil and allow the boiling water to flush it away. You may want to repeat this process two to three times if the grease build-up is substantial.
4. Hotter Than Usual Water
It may seem obvious, but simply putting hot water down your kitchen and bathroom sink drains at least weekly can go a long way to keeping them clean and clear. For the kitchen sink, hot water will help to melt and flush away light grease deposits. Bathroom drains also benefit from very hot water, since you normally wouldn’t use such hot water for washing your hands or face.
5. Use Cold Water Wisely
Conversely, when running your garbage disposal, run copious amounts of COLD water down the drain, not hot. Cold water will keep oils and grease in a solid state so they can be broken up by the disposal, whereas hot water will melt and soften grease and encourage it to coat the inside of your drain. Only use hot water after you have already run the disposal to help remove any grease deposits that may have formed when you were washing pots and pans.
If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to call your friends at Green Apple Mechanical toll free at 888-611-7191

Is Running Central Air Cheaper Than Running 3 Wall Air Conditioners?

Air conditioning makes the hottest summer days more enjoyable, but rising energy costs and the growing awareness of energy conservation and resource depletion demands you cool your home as cheaply and energy efficiently as possible. Deciding which cooling method will save you the most — three window air conditioners or a central air unit — depends on a few factors. Cooling your home with the proper system saves you money and electricity, and keeps you completely comfortable no matter the temperature outside.

Comparing Energy Usage

Considering that the average home uses more electricity for cooling than for any other appliance or accessory, if you want to save money on your utility bill, carefully consider your cooling choices. A central air unit uses more energy to cool your home. As Mr. Electricity states, a window unit uses anywhere from 500 to 1440 watts to run, while a 2.5 ton central unit (about the size for a typical 1,500- to 2,000-square-foot home) uses about 3,500 watts. It’s not simply about the size of area cooled, but the fact that central air involves the furnace, too. The air does not flow to the rest of the house without the furnace blower — so more running parts equal a larger power draw.

Cost of Unit Installation

It’s simple to see that a central unit uses more power than a window unit, but there’s more to your cost than just the energy draw. Once you factor in the purchase price and cost of installation, your cost per use may rise significantly. Dividing the total price and installation labor cost by the months you use it dramatically illustrates the true cost of just having the air conditioner, without figuring in the utility bill. Window units sell for a lot less than central units, and the installation typically is do-it-yourself.

It’s Not All About the Unit

Another factor when determining which cooling unit is best for your circumstances is the condition of your existing HVAC system. No matter how efficient your central air unit, if the ducts the cool air travels through are full of holes, or poorly insulated and exposed to temperature extremes, the efficiency of the whole system goes down — and the cost goes up. If you choose to run a central air unit, insulating your ducts, and inspecting and maintaining the whole system is important, although it adds to the cost. Compared with window units, which blow directly into the room and need little but occasional cleaning unless they go out, a central unit again costs more.

Verdict

Although it costs more to purchase and install a central unit — and responsible owners also spend more on annual service calls for maintenance and inspection — if you plan to cool three or more rooms, the most cost-effective and energy-efficient choice is the central unit. A central unit has greater resale value, so you recoup more of your investment if you sell your home. The weightiest factor, however, is that three window units typically use more energy than a single central unit. Also consider that three rooms likely is a large portion of the home, and every time you travel between cooling zones with a window unit, you’re leaking cool air, making your unit work harder. However, neither unit will work efficiently and save money unless it is properly sized. Carefully research your choices before purchasing.
If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to call your friends at Green Apple Mechanical toll free at 888-611-7191

Old Plumbing Usually Means Problems

“Any plumbing from the ’60s or older is on its last legs,” says Rogan Springmeld, a long-time home inspector in the greater Tri-State area.
That’s because most of the piping used pre-1960s was galvanized steel, the bane of old-house plumbing. In fact, if you are looking at a house from that era or earlier, chances are it probably has had so many problems that it’s already undergone substantial re-plumbing.
But in case they have not been fixed before, these are the two top plumbing concerns you are likely to find in most old houses.

Old plumbing problem no. 1: galvanized pipes

For a quick test of an old house, turn on the hot water. If the pressure is low, the house probably has galvanized pipes that have corroded and plugged up. The hot-water pipes are the first to go.
The house could have good pressure in the hot-water lines, but still have unseen galvanized-pipe problems. It is possible that only the bad pipes were replaced, leaving lots of old galvanized pipes still in the house and either in need or soon-to-be-in need of replacement.
Experts will tell you to replace the entire piping system when galvanized piping starts to go bad, but that is pricey, and often homeowners opt for the more economical, halfway fix by repairing only the pipe that is the immediate problem. Worse, the bad galvanized pipe may have been replaced with more galvanized pipe instead of copper or plastic pipe, meaning the problem has just been extended, rather than cured.
It’s difficult to determine the entire plumbing picture, since most of the system is behind walls. Maxfield says to look under the sinks to get some understanding — often, plumbers run new pipes up through the floor under the sink instead of through the wall, he says, so you can see where there is new plumbing.
If the house has a crawl space and you’re not too discomfited by going into it, you can get a better picture of the plumbing status.
Anytime copper piping has been attached to galvanized pipes, dielectric coupling is required to stop the corrosion caused by dissimilar metals touching. Unfortunately, these junctions may be hidden inside the walls. If a plumber did the replumbing, it certainly should be correct. If it was a do-it-yourself job, the homeowner may not have included the dielectric coupling.

Old plumbing problem no. 2: sewer line

Plumbing isn’t confined to the house. It begins and ends at the street.
On the supply side, all piping on the house side of the meter belongs to the homeowner, and everything on the street side belongs to the water district. The meter should have a dial that shows minute water flow, so that if you turn off all the water inside the house, and the dial still moves, there is a leak in the system somewhere.
If the house is on a sewer line, the homeowner owns the line from the house to the street, and that line can be worrisome in old houses.
“The sewer line can be root-bound or crushed,” says Springmeld. “It’ll probably cost around $250 to run a camera down the line to check its condition.”
You can probably rent a sewer camera for around $150 for a half-day if you want to check the line yourself, but you really need a skilled eye to understand what you are seeing.
Sewer lines can be cast iron, clay or plastic. A World War II-era product, Orangeburg, was made of tarpaper, and if you have that in the house, there is no question it needs to be replaced. Old cast-iron pipes corrode, and clay is particularly susceptible to root intrusion. Plastic, which became common in the 1980s, is durable, but can be crushed. Of course, all types of pipe material can succumb to an impenetrable plug from grease, tennis balls or diapers.
Old houses, like anything else getting on in years, can be notorious for age-related ills. When it comes to plumbing troubles, you can suspect galvanized pipes and bad sewer lines are the source.
If you have any questions or concerns feel free to call your friends at Green Apple Mechanical NJ toll free at 888-315-5564

Stores Must Keep Doors Closed if Air-Conditioning Is On

Starting this summer, nearly all shops and restaurants in New York City will be required to keep front doors and windows shut while their air-conditioners and cooling systems are running.

The requirement, which became law on Wednesday, is intended to address a ubiquitous, if environmentally unsound, summer sensation: the beckoning blast of chilled air that lures sweaty passers-by into the cooler confines of an enterprising merchant’s store.

“It’s always been a pet peeve of mine,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a City Hall ceremony on Wednesday before signing the bill into law.

“It’s the middle of the summer in New York City, it’s 90 degrees, you walk by a store, and the door is wide open and the air-conditioning is blasting,” the mayor said. “That’s wasting a lot of energy. That’s having its own impact on global warming.”

Shop owners who violate the rules would face fines, ranging from $250 for a first offense to as much as $1,000 for an egregious violation. The measure is an expansion of an earlier law passed by the City Council, which restricted “the co-mingling of indoor and outdoor air” only in large-scale chain stores.

The new law includes exceptions for restaurants with outdoor space for al fresco dining. Also excluded are sidewalk cafes and counter-type stores, such as the Lemon Ice King shop in Corona, Queens, according to Councilman Costa Constantinides, Democrat of Astoria, who sponsored the legislation.

“This year had the most 80-degree days we’ve had in New York City on record,” said Mr. Constantinides, who is chairman of the Council’s Environmental Protection Committee. “Action had to be spurred.”

Enforcement will be provided by the city’s Department of Consumer Affairs. The agency began its own campaign this summer to discourage the offending practice, distributing stickers saying: “Shut the Front Door!”

“Clever, clever slogan,” Mr. de Blasio said approvingly on Wednesday.

Still, not every New Yorker was thrilled to hear the news. Robert S. Bookman, a lawyer who frequently sues the city on behalf of small businesses, wondered if the regulation overreached.

“Businesses pay their own electric bill,” Mr. Bookman said. “I think it’s their business, and not the government’s business, about how much electricity they should use.” He suggested that the “extra few hundred dollars a month” that owners might pay in electric fees could be worth the additional business that a cool blast of air could attract.

The mayor, for his part, linked the air-conditioning limits to his administration’s work to significantly reduce New York City’s carbon footprint. Mr. de Blasio has also been urging New Yorkers to compost more of their household trash and to adopt reusable water bottles.

Fines for the new air-conditioning violations will not be issued until July 1, which Mr. Constantinides said would give shop owners time to adjust to the new rules. “Everyone,” the councilman said, “has to be responsible to climate change.”

If you have any questions or concerns regarding any of your air conditioning needs feel free to call your friends at Green Apple Mechanical NJ toll free at 888-611-7191

10 Ways to Prevent a Home-Plumbing Nightmare

When homeowners hoist a wrench to install or repair sinks, tubs and toilets, they risk more than leaks. They risk their sanity, finances and general mechanical disaster. Here are 10 essential principles to avoid plumbing disaster.

1. Don’t go galvanic.

You often see copper and galvanized steel plumbing mixed in residential water systems with nothing separating them other than a little thread sealant or Teflon plumbing tape. The galvanic connection (copper to steel) can be trouble-free for years or the steel plumbing can begin to corrode almost as soon as the connection is tight.

What to do: Use a plumbing fitting called a dielectric union to connect copper pipe to galvanized steel. The fitting uses a steel collar on the steel side and a copper collar on the copper side and isolation bushings to keep the parts separate.

2. Flow out, not back.

Back flow occurs in municipal water systems (or within a house) when there’s a sudden and severe drop in water pressure that causes water to flow back through pipes opposite the direction that it normally flows. When a runaway car severs a fire hydrant, for example, parts of a municipal system will see a flow reversal as water gushes out the hole where the hydrant once stood. The same thing can happen if there’s a massive leak within your house.

What to do: If your house’s water is supplied by a municipal water system and you do a lot of work outside with a garden hose, use a vacuum-breaker fitting threaded onto the end of the hose bib (the valve mounted on the outside of the house). These fittings prevent back flow from a garden hose and attachments in the event of a massive shift in pressure. Some municipalities require their use, and they’re not a bad idea even if you have a well. Suppose you’ve left a garden hose in a bucket of sudsy water and the severed-fire-hydrant scenario occurs. The vacuum breaker prevents water from being pulled out of the hose and bucket and into the municipal water system. If you’re replacing a hose bib, use a freeze-proof type with a built-in vacuum breaker. Common sense measures apply too. For example, don’t leave a hose unattended in a bucket and don’t leave a hose laying in a puddle on the lawn.

Likewise, if you replace or repair the main supply and valves entering the house, you may likely be required to install a back-flow preventer.

3. Use the right connector.

Don’t forget, gas lines count as plumbing too. Connecting a new gas range or dryer to an existing gas line seems simple, but the job can quickly go awry when you try to hook up a flexible gas connector to the line and find that the connector doesn’t fit or you can’t make the connection gas-tight, no matter how tight you make the connection.

What to do: This is a thread compatibility problem usually brought about by a mismatch between the iron pipe supplying gas and the fitting on the end of the flexible connector you intend to use to bring the fuel to the appliance. The simplest solution is to buy a universal connection kit for a dryer or for a gas range. The kit will come with a variety of adapters to help you make the transition from the pipe and fitting supplying the gas to whatever appliance will be using it.

4. Know where your pipes are.

Pounding nails and driving screws is all well and good, until you puncture a copper or plastic supply or drain.

What to do: Buy a stud sensor that also detects pipes and wirings. You can also look around in the attic or the basement (if it’s unfinished) to get a sense of where pipes are hiding. Finally, if the wall will be covered by whatever you’re building or installing, you can always carefully cut a test hatch to find plumbing lurking in the walls.

5. Know the code.

Plumbing is a tricky business, with rules that dictate how far you can place a fixture from the home’s drain-waste-vent line based on the pipe diameter and other arcane matters. The only way you can handle a big job yourself is to know the code and what it calls for in pipe sizing, fixture spacing and related matters.

What to do: There’s lots of reference for ambitious do-it-yourselfers. Buy a copy of the International Plumbing Code or the Uniform Plumbing Code. One of the best references that we’ve used here over the years is Code Check, a handbook that’s updated as building codes are updated. One of its best features is that it’s written to cover common problems and things that even professionals get wrong.

6. Cut right, fit tight.

You can’t make a neat water- or gas-tight joint unless the parts are neatly cut.

What to do: Buy pro-level tubing cutters, reciprocating-saw blades, hacksaw blades and a plastic pipe saw. For example, you’ll be amazed by the difference between a professional tubing cutter from Ridgid, say, and the $5 special from the home center. Likewise, it seems silly to spend $20 for a plastic pipe saw when a standard handsaw works pretty well. The thing is, the plastic pipe saw works better and leaves less of a burr since its teeth have very little set compared to a saw meant for cutting wood.

Remove burrs from plastic and copper and thoroughly clean both types of plumbing materials before soldering or gluing. Copper is best abraded with plumber’s cloth (aluminum-oxide sandpaper on a spool) and plastic requires material-specific primer that softens the plastic so that the adhesive can create an optimal bond. When pipe feels greasy or dirty, use pipe cleaner before applying primer.

A few minutes of preparation goes a long way in ensuring a watertight or gas-tight joint.

7. Seal the deal.

Only a soldered or glued joint doesn’t require sealant; everything else does.

What to do: There are typically two types of sealant tapes in hardware stores and home centers. Tape for sealing water connections (in a blue spool) and tape for sealing gas (in a yellow spool). Yet there’s no need for you to be satisfied with just those choices. Pros often carry brushable types, with variations specially formulated for threaded plastic or galvanized steel. Visit a plumbing supply house or shop online to find these varieties. Professional varieties have a higher percentage of gap-filling solids and better ensure a tight joint—no small matter given the lack of thread engagement that you often find today with badly made plumbing materials, valves and fixtures.

8. Don’t over-tighten.

If tight is good, really tight must be better. Right? Wrong.

What to do: Given what I just said about the hit-or-miss quality of many plumbing components today, you’d think that a generous application of wrench torque is called for. Not so. A clean, properly cut and fitted joint that’s been sealed just doesn’t need to be massively tightened. In many cases, after bringing the parts together firmly hand-tight or using a wrench, often all it takes is another half a turn. In fact, brass–copper gas fittings are particularly vulnerable to wrench damage from over-tightening, while steel pipe is more forgiving.

9. Leak test. Always.

It should be obvious: Make a thorough leak inspection before closing up and moving on.

What to do: When you’ve installed a new valve component (or the valve itself), aggressively open and close the valve as well as running both hot and cold water through it. Do the same when checking drains. Run water down a drain and fill up a sink or tub and then drain it to check for leaks. Check gas lines with a soapy water and detergent solution or spend a few dollars for an 8-ounce bottle of bubble-creating leak detector sold on the Web or at a plumbing supply house. The advantage of this material, as opposed to dish detergent, is that it creates larger, more brightly visible bubbles than detergent does.

10. Be kind. To your septic system, that is.

We get asked this question all the time: “Should I use an additive to improve the performance of my septic system and reduce the need to pump the septic tank?” An additive can be almost anything from sugar or enzymes to a dead chicken (we’re not kidding about the chicken—we get that one plenty).

What to do: Don’t bother with additives, especially the chicken. A properly designed, built and maintained septic system will last for decades, and trying to reduce pumping intervals will more likely lead to a clogged leaching field as solids, not clear effluent, flows out of the septic tank and out into the leaching field. A septic-tank-pumping company can advise you on how often the tank needs to be pumped. It will depend on the tank’s size and how many people live in the home. Likewise, avoid excessive use of chlorine bleach or caustic chemicals that can kill off beneficial digestive bacteria in the septic tank.

If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to call your friends at Green Apple Mechanical NJ toll free at 888-611-7191

Replacing Your Home’s A/C System? What You Should Know.

Frequent repairs, failing performance and increasing utility bills are common situations that get homeowners thinking about replacing their central air conditioning systems. If these problems are becoming an issue for your home’s comfort, begin to research contractors and systems to help you make an educated decision. You can start here with our tips for considering air conditioning replacement.

Selecting the Correct System for Your Home

 
A qualified HVAC professional will assess your cooling needs, based upon guidelines established in the Manual J of the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA). They should spend time measuring the interior of your home and inspecting the insulation in your attic and other key places.
What to Know:

  • Insist on a full property evaluation to determine the right size. Don’t allow a contractor to make a guess as to what you need.
  • It’s very important to select a system that is the right size for your home. The one thing you do not want is to replace your home’s A/C system with an oversized system. The wrong sized unit will end up cycling on and off too often. This can result in wear and tear on the unit and increased utility costs for you.
  • Air conditioning systems are measured in “tons” — one ton equals the amount of cooling obtained from the melting of a ton of ice.

Selecting a System for Efficiency

 
All new air conditioning systems are required to be minimally rated at 13 SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio). The air conditioner you choose should be Energy Star rated. Keep in mind that getting a 13 SEER unit is fine, but consider that systems with higher ratings equal greater energy efficiency. It will cost you more up front to go with an advanced rated system, but it will result in greater utility savings over time.
What to Know: 

  • Advanced SEER ratings cannot be guaranteed if you are partially replacing your home’s A/C. You must replace the entire system to take full advantage of the advanced SEER rating.
  • It is important to note that your furnace and air conditioning system share the same air handler during operations and the system you choose should match for efficient operation.
  • During the selection process, ask your HVAC contractor about available energy rebates that may help to lower costs for you.

Advanced Technology for Your HVAC System

 
Newer HVAC systems are using more efficient technology than ever. Many newer systems are being designed with on-board diagnostics to determine heating and cooling inefficiencies. Regulations are currently being upgraded to provide for safer refrigerants.
What to Know: 

  • For superior indoor air quality, you should consider your options for advanced air cleaners such as electrostatic air filters or humidifiers.
  • The market is hot right now for advanced programmable thermostats that you can control with your smartphone while you are away from home.
  • Homes with little or no ductwork can now accomodate central air conditioning through installation of a ductless mini-split system. These systems are highly efficient and offer zoning options for different area of the home.

Choosing a Qualified Contractor

 
Choosing the right HVAC contractor is just as important as choosing your new HVAC system. When searching for a contractor, you should ask friends and neighbors for recommendations. Look into the background of a potential contractor and consider the points below.
What to Know:

  • Will you receive a fully itemized written estimate up front prior to starting work? This blog post will give you some additional important questions to ask during your home evaluation.
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program recommends 10 tips for hiring an HVAC contractor.

An Informed Decision for Your Valuable Home

 
Researching your options before replacing your home’s A/C system will help you to make a sound investment when it’s time for a new cooling solution. Remember, your central air conditioning system is part of the investment you have in your home. So, choosing the right HVAC system and contractor is an important decision.
Partner with a contractor who will give you recommendations and advice geared toward your needs for your home.
If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact your friends at Green Apple Mechanical toll free at

Not Sure If You Need To A Plumber?

Don’t lull yourself into believing that you’ll never need a plumber. Even if you are skilled at home repairs, you may need to call on a professional from time to time for plumbing emergencies. In addition to relying on your local plumber for occasional emergencies, the following situations are best left to professionals:

  • Low water pressure throughout the house: Several factors can cause this problem: obstructions (rust or debris) in the water lines, which can start at the meter and run all the way to the faucet aerators; low water pressure from the city supply or a well; or even poor supply-line design. A good plumber knows how to analyze the problem.

  • No hot water: It’s obvious what happened, but unless the hot water tank is leaking, it may take a while to find out why. If the tank is electric, it could be a bad heating element, a tripped circuit breaker or blown fuse, a faulty thermostat, or a bad overload switch. On gas heaters, thermocouple burners and igniters can fail.

    No one likes to be without hot water for long. Your grandmother may have heated bath water on the stove, but people don’t do it that way today. Call a plumber for this one — he or she likely has loads of experience and can tell you if you need a new heater or if the existing one can be repaired. If the heater needs to be replaced, your plumber can carry the new one to the basement, hook it up, make sure that it works properly, and dispose of the old one.

  • Sewer line stoppage: If you’ve tried all the tricks you know to get your sewer line to drain properly, yet backups continue, you probably have a bad plug in the line that runs out to the main sewer. (Tree roots are often the cause.) Rather than rent one of the big sewer rodding machines that you may break — or that may damage your sewer — call a plumber or drain-cleaning service. If they get in trouble, they’ll make the repairs.

  • Frozen pipes: If a pipe freezes, close the main water shutoff valve and open a faucet nearby before attempting to thaw the pipe. Check carefully to see whether the pipe has already burst or cracked. If it’s bad news, you may need a plumber. If not, hair dryers and heat guns are the safest ways to thaw a pipe. If you must use a propane torch, do so with great care — old, dry wood (which usually surrounds pipes) catches fire easily. Even if the pipe isn’t burst or cracked, you still may want to call a plumber — some plumbers simply replace a section of frozen pipe rather than thaw it.

    If you have a plumbing emergency, you and your family need to know the location of the main water shutoff valve.

  • Extensive water line damage (usually caused by freezing): Repairing the problem can take up much of your valuable time. It’s better to pay a plumber so that you can earn money at your regular job.

  • If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to call your friends at Green Apple Mechanical NJ toll free at 888-611-7191