Keep Your Furnace Happy!

On snowy days like today, these are the days that we all appreciate our furnaces the most! That’s why it’s important to keep up with your furnace maintenance annually especially for days like today. One way to make sure you are getting the most from your furnace and that it is capable of working to its full potential is by scheduling an annual furnace inspection. Annual furnace inspections are recommended by HVAC manufacturers and HVAC repair and service professionals. It’s important to catch any small problems that your furnace may be having before they can turn into larger more expensive problems if left unchecked. You don’t want to be left out in the cold! Feel free to call your friends at Green Apple Mechanical NJ toll-free at 888-611-7191 if you have any questions or concerns regarding any of your HVAC or plumbing needs.

Snow Storm Predicted Tomorrow

There is a snow storm predicted tomorrow for New Jersey. There could be up to a foot of snow some forecasters are predicting. Now is the perfect time to make sure that your home furnace is working to its full potential and is completely up to date. Annual furnace inspections are recommended by manufacturers and HVAC experts. We are the experts you can trust. We have been serving the New Jersey area for years with professionalism and expertise. Customer care and service are always given top priority. Don’t be left in the cold. If you have any questions or concerns regarding any of your HVAC needs please feel free to call your friends at Green Apple Mechanical NJ toll-free at 888-611-7191

Snowdrifts can shut down a new furnace

Homeowners are often surprised when their fairly new high-efficiency furnace shuts down unexpectedly in mid-winter. These furnaces exhaust combustion gases and bring in fresh air through PVC pipes to the outside, usually routed through a house sidewall. Often, the problem is ice build-up in the vent pipe, blocking the exhaust flow. The cooler exhaust produced by high-efficiency models can allow moisture (produced by combustion) to condense in the flue, especially when outdoor temperatures drop below 30 degrees.
The pipes can also be blocked outside the house. During wintry weather, you should check the exhaust and intake pipe exits on the outside of the house regularly, to make sure they aren’t covered by snow or ice. Besides shutting down the furnace, a blocked exhaust pipe can allow carbon monoxide to build up inside the house.
More rarely, the pipes may not have been installed correctly or may have developed problems later. If your newer furnace shuts down, check these common venting problems:

  • Incorrect size of the exhaust pipe. Manufacturers specify the maximum length and number of elbows that pipe of a given diameter can handle.
  • Not enough hangers to support the exhaust pipe, so condensate pools in low spots where the pipe sags, blocking the vent enough to trigger a furnace shut-down.
  • Incorrect pitch of the exhaust pipe. The pipe should slope back toward the furnace, rather than towards the outside. The exhaust piping should slope at least 1/4-inch per foot, so condensate drains freely back into the furnace.
  • Vents positioned too close to the ground, where they can be blocked by snow drifts or critters.
  • Running exhaust and intake pipes out different sides of the house. The pipes must be next to each other so the wind pressure is the same on both.

These situations should be addressed by a professional. So feel free to call your friends at Green Apple Mechanical toll free at 888-611-7191

What to do about Frozen Water Pipes

The damages caused by frozen water pipes can be catastrophic. Just one burst pipe in a home running at 4-8 gallons a minute from a burst pipe can do tens of thousands of dollars damage in a manner matter of minutes, let alone the following mold mitigation problem. Once you have had a major water leak in your home, your insurance company may even cancel your coverage and you may lose your ability to obtain homeowners insurance. Contrary to belief, the pipe freezes and bursts 1st, then the water starts to flow once the ice thaws. For a burst to happen, the water super cools a couple of degrees lower than freezing in the pipe causing ice to form. It is the growth of the ice water to flow after the thaw.
Green Apple Plumbing NJ’s policy is to educate the public on what they can do to help prevent the possibility and what to do, if it does ever occur.that builds up excessive pressures in excess of 3000psi. This excessive pressure splits the pipe that causes the

1 – Prevention

  1. Locate and identify any and all shut off valves in your home and make sure they work
    1. Everyone should know where their “Main water valve” is and how to operate it
  2. Identify any potential problems
    1. Areas where pipes may be on outside walls, ceiling, crawl spaces, attics, etc.
  3. Seal any gaps around the home where cold air may penetrate and become in contact with piping. In the severe cold, especially wind driven, even a tiny opening can let in enough cold air to cause a pipe to freeze.
    1. Dryer vents, windows, cable penetrations, etc.
  4. Turn off and drain all standard outside hose bibs.

2 – When the temperature is expected to drop

  1. Open kitchen sink and any vanity doors of any potential problem area
  2. With pipes that are on outside walls that may be a freeze problem, leave a small trickle of both the hot and cold water running.
  3. Temporarily seal off any crawl space vents that may be around the foundation.
  4. Keep the house warm

3 – What to do if you experience a frozen pipe

(The first sign of a “frozen” pipe is reduced or no flow at a plumbing fixture.)

  1. If you experience a “no flow” situation.
    1. Turn off the “Main” water valve” to the house and leave the faucets “open” **
    2. DO NOT use any open flame to attempt to thaw the pipe
    3. DO NOT use any electric heater, hair dryer applied directly to the piping as any leaking water may cause electrocution
    4. Turning the water back on is best handled with (2) people. One person turning on the water “slowly” and the other walking about the house to be sure no water is running.
  2. Green Apple Plumbing NJ does not recommend sending a plumber to thaw out piping as it is very time consuming and costly to the client. Heat and patience is the best way to get the pipes to thaw. We do however recommend that if a freeze occurs, find the source and correct it so it will not happen again. If you were lucky enough that it did not burst the first time, you may not be so lucky the next time. The pipe(s) that froze may already be fatigued so the next time they may burst.
  3. If water is flowing, turn off the Main water valve immediately and open the lowest hot and cold faucets in your home, I.e. basement laundry tray.

** Be aware that if the water to your house is shut off, it may also turn off any fire protection system you may have.

4 – What to do if you leave your home in the winter

  1. Turn the Main water valve off to your home ***
  2. Leave the heat on to the house and set no lower than 60*
  3. Have a neighbor stop by daily, especially when the temperatures are in the 20s or below.

*** If you have “hot water and/or steam heat, the water must remain on even when you are not there. A neighbor stopping by is critical in the scenario. If you have any questions or concerns feel free to call your friends at Green Apple Plumbing NJ toll free at 888-315-5564

Keep Snow Build Up Away from Venting Systems

Keep Obstructions Away from Venting Systems

Here’s a super easy tip that can save lives and your heat from failing.  Keep Snow Build Up Away from Venting Systems.  Snowdrifts or a large snowfall can block your furnace or hot water heater exhaust pipe and cause it to stop working.
High efficiency furnaces, water heaters and other energy-saving appliances may have exhaust vents that exit your building through an exterior wall rather than through a chimney.  These vents can become blocked in the winter months by snow and ice, which can affect the safe operation of the appliance.  Make sure that all snow, ice and other obstructions are removed from your venting systems.  Drifting snow and caused a buildup of carbon monoxide inside of the house.  It’ important to think plan for and take steps to keep snow build up away from venting systems. If you have any questions or concerns feel free to call Green Apple Mechanical toll free at 888-611-7191

NJ Snow Storm Prep: A Survival Guide for 2016

A few days before a “major winter storm” was expected to dump up to a foot snow on NJ (that is, if the storm system doesn’t veer eastward at the last minute), the state released its annual guide to surviving the weather.
“We’ve had bitterly cold weather this week and snow is in the forecast, so we want people to make sure they’re fully prepared for all that winter may bring,”
Make a Plan

  • Make sure your Household Disaster Plan is ready and all members of your household are familiar with how to contact one another in an emergency.
  • Winterize your Go Bag by adding a blanket, warm socks and gloves.
  • Your Emergency Supply Kit should be fully-stocked to allow you to sustain yourself for up to three days without power, or in the event you are unable to travel far from home. You may wish to include additional items such as extra blankets, additional warm clothing, and a battery-operated NOAA Weather Radio to monitor weather conditions during a storm.

Winterize Your Home

  • Install storm shutters, doors and windows; clean out gutters; repair any roof leaks; and have a contractor check the stability of your roof in the event of a large accumulation of snow.
  • Insulate walls and attic. Caulk and weather-strip doors and windows. Install storm windows, or cover windows with plastic from the inside.
  • Have safe emergency heating equipment available. For residences with functioning fireplaces, keep an ample supply of wood. Utilize portable electric space heaters. Keep a fire extinguisher on hand.
  • Install and check batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Make sure you have sufficient heating fuel; you may have difficulty obtaining fuel in the immediate aftermath of a bad storm.
  • Service snow removal equipment, and have rock salt on hand to melt ice on walkways. Kitty litter can be used to generate temporary traction.

Winterize Your Car

  • Make sure to have a mechanic check the following items on your vehicle:
  1. Battery
  2. Antifreeze
  3. Windshield wipers and washer fluid
  4. Ignition system
  5. Thermostat
  6. Lights (headlamps and hazard lights)
  7. Exhaust system, heater, brakes, defroster
  • Oil level (if necessary, replace oil with a winter oil or SAE 10w/30 variety)
  • Install good winter tires that have adequate tread. All-weather radials are usually adequate for most winter conditions. However, some jurisdictions require vehicles to be equipped with chains or snow tires with studs.
  • Regardless of the season, it’s a good idea to prepare for an in-car emergency. Assemble an Emergency Supply Kit for your vehicle, and consider adding the following items for winter conditions:
  1. Blankets, sleeping bags, extra newspapers for insulation
  2. Plastic bags (for sanitation)
  3. Extra mittens, socks, scarves and hat, raingear and extra clothes
  4. Sack of sand or kitty litter for gaining traction under wheels, small shovel
  5. Set of tire chains or traction mats
  6. Working jack and lug wrench, spare tire
  7. Windshield scraper, broom
  8. Small tools (pliers, wrench, screwdriver)
  9. Booster cables
  10. Brightly colored cloth to use as a flag, flares or reflective triangles

Tips for Staying Warm
Exposure to cold can cause life-threatening health conditions. Avoid serious conditions such as frostbite and hypothermia, by keeping warm.

  • When outdoors, wear warm clothing and cover exposed skin. Use multiple layers to maintain warmth.
  • Wear a hat, hood, or scarf, as most heat is lost through the head.
  • Wear layers, as they provide better insulation and warmth.
  • Keep fingertips, earlobes, and noses covered if you go outside.
  • Keep clothing dry; if a layer becomes wet, remove it.
  • Wear sturdy boots that provide traction to reduce slipping. Use handrails when using stairs.

What to Do Before a Storm Strikes

  • Listen to NOAA Weather Radio and your local radio and TV stations for updated storm information. Know what winter storm watches and warnings mean.
  • Check on relatives, friends, and neighbors who may need assistance preparing for a storm.
  • Be alert to changing weather conditions and avoid unnecessary travel.
  • Let faucets drip a little to help prevent freezing.
  • Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Know the Terms

  • Freezing Rain: rain that freezes when it hits the ground, creating a coating of ice on roads, walkways, trees and power lines.
  • Frost/Freeze Warning: issued when temperatures are expected to drop below freezing over a large area for an extended period of time.
  • Sleet: rain that turns to ice pellets before reaching the ground. Sleet also causes moisture on roads to freeze and become slippery.
  • Ice Storm: when ice accumulations are expected during freezing rain situations. Significant ice accumulations are usually 1/4 of an inch or greater.
  • Wind Chill: the temperature it “feels like” when you are outside.
  • Heavy Snow: snowfall accumulating to 4 inches or more in depth in 12 hours or less; or snowfall accumulating to 6 inches or more in depth in 24 hours or less.
  • Winter Weather Advisory: issued by the National Weather Service when a combination of winter weather (snow, freezing rain, sleet, etc.) may present a hazard, but does not meet warning criteria.
  • Winter Storm Watch: issued by the National Weather Service when there is a potential for heavy snow or significant ice, usually at least 24 to 36 hours in advance. The criteria for this watch can vary from place to place.
  • Winter Storm Warning: issued by the National Weather Service when a winter storm is producing or is forecast to produce heavy snow or significant ice. The criteria for this warning can vary from place to place.
  • Blizzard Warning: issued by the National Weather Service for winter storms with sustained or frequent winds of 35 mph or higher with considerable falling and/or blowing snow that frequently reduces visibility to 1/4 of a mile or less. These conditions are expected to last for a minimum of 3 hours.

 
What to Do if You Lose Heat or Hot Water at Home
Call GREEN APPLE MECHANICAL right away at (888) 611-7191
Take measures to trap existing warm air and safely stay warm until we come to you, including:

  • Insulate your home as much as possible. Hang blankets over windows and doorways and stay in a well-insulated room while the heat is out.
  • Dress warmly. Wear hats, scarves, gloves, and layered clothing.
  • If you have a well-maintained working fireplace and use it for heat and light, be sure to keep the damper open for ventilation. Never use a fireplace without a screen.
  • If the cold persists and your heat is not restored call family, neighbors, or friends to see if you can stay with them.
  • Do not use your oven or fuel-burning space heaters to heat your home. These can release carbon monoxide, a deadly gas that you cannot see or smell.
  • Open your faucets to a steady drip so pipes do not freeze.

Safe Home Heating Tips
Improper use of portable heating equipment can lead to fire or dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. Take precautions to ensure you are heating your home safely.
Fire safety tips:

  • Make sure you have a working smoke alarm in every room. Test them at least once a month and change the batteries twice a year.
  • Use only portable heating equipment that is approved for indoor use. Space heaters are temporary heating devices and should only be used for a limited time each day.
  • Keep combustible materials, including furniture, drapes, and carpeting at least three feet away from the heat source. Never drape clothes over a space heater to dry them.
  • Never leave children alone in the room where a space heater is running. Always keep an eye on heating equipment. Turn it off when you are unable to closely monitor it.
  • Plug space heaters directly into a wall outlet. Never use an extension cord or power strip. Do not plug anything else into the same outlet when the space heater is in use. Do not use space heaters with frayed or damaged cords.
  • If you are going to use an electric blanket, only use one that is less than 10 years old from the date of purchase. Also avoid tucking the electric blanket in at the sides of the bed. Only purchase blankets with an automatic safety shut-off.

Carbon monoxide safety tips:

  • Carbon monoxide comes from the burning of fuel. Therefore, make sure all fuel-burning devices such as furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters, and clothes dryers are properly vented to the outdoors and operating properly. If you are not sure, contact a professional to inspect and make necessary repairs.
  • Make sure you have a working carbon monoxide detector. Most homes and residential buildings in New York City are required by law to have carbon monoxide detectors installed near all sleeping areas. Owners are responsible for installing approved carbon monoxide detectors. Occupants are responsible for keeping and maintaining the carbon monoxide detectors in good repair.
  • If you have a working fireplace keep chimneys clean and clear of debris.
  • Never heat your home with a gas stove or oven, charcoal barbecue grill, or kerosene, propane, or oil-burning heaters.
  • The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are non-specific and include headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, sleepiness, trouble breathing, and loss of consciousness. Severe poisonings may result in permanent injury or death.
  • If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, call 911, get the victim to fresh air immediately, and open windows.
  • If a carbon monoxide detector goes off in your home, call 911, quickly open a nearby window, and go outside for fresh air immediately.

How to prepare your home for the big snow

Before you run out for milk and toilet paper in a pre-snow panic, you’ll want to ensure that your home is ready for a day or two of hunkering down. Here’s what experts say you should do now:
1) Protect your outdoor faucets, which are particularly vulnerable to plunging temperatures. Shut off the inside valve leading to any outside faucets and unhook hoses. Run the outside faucet to drain any water from that pipe and then close it.
2) Watch out for your water pipes. If yours are prone to bursting, keep cabinet doors beneath sinks open so warm air from your home can reach the pipes more easily. Use a blow dryer to warm up exposed pipes instead of space heaters, which can be a fire hazard. If you’re in an older home, consider keeping your thermostat up a bit higher than usual, even up to 74 degrees. Even a few degrees makes a difference, plumbers say. “You’ll spend a little more on your heating bill, but you’ll save your pipes,” said Tom Nicholson, president of Kensington-based Nicholson Plumbing Co.
3) Use space heaters with care. Keep them at least three feet from any curtains or clutter and turn them off when you go to bed.
4) Plan for a possible power outage. Stock up on flashlights and batteries. Charge cellphones, laptops and the tablets you might want to keep the kids entertained. Don’t burn a candle unless you remain in the room with it. Don’t use a gas stove or burners for heat — they are a burn hazard and a source of potential carbon monoxide. Don’t use a gas grill indoors, including in your garage, because of the carbon monoxide risk. Don’t run generators in garages or outside where it’s close to windows, through which carbon monoxide can seep into a home. If the power goes, unplug appliances to prevent them from succumbing to a surge when it comes back on.
5) Keep snow clear from outside drains and vents from your home. You’ll need the drains, including for sump pumps, clear when the snow starts to melt, and indoor heating systems can shut down if the vent gets clogged.
6) Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Make sure you have working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Anything that uses combustion to produce heat, including gas appliances and wood-burning fireplaces, can produce carbon monoxide if not vented properly.
7) Keep an eye on what you’re flushing. Having a home full of people home all day means lots more flushing than usual. Make sure everyone goes easy on the toilet paper, as this will be a tough weekend to get on a plumber’s call list. “If this is as bad as they’re saying, no plumber will be able to get around in it,” Nicholson, the plumbing company owner, said of the storm.
8) Clear snow from area fire hydrants.
9) Make sure your furnace filter is clean. A clogged filter can shut it down.
10) Make a “personal disaster kit” that includes water, food and medicines. This is where the milk and toilet paper come in.
11) Lastly, take a deep breath and watch the flakes fall. As Pete Piringer, spokesman for the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service, put it: “Just have fun and relax. With a little bit of planning ahead of time, the experience will be wonderful for most of us.”