At Jerry’s Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning, we’ve served homeowners throughout Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties since 1993. We’ve fixed thousands of plumbing, heating, and cooling problems, and we get a lot of questions from our customers.

Here are our most frequently asked questions.

Routine HVAC maintenance is a small investment to keep your system healthy, efficient, and safe. But you’d be surprised how many homeowners either don’t think it’s worth the price or isn’t necessary.

So, let’s look at the benefits you get from routine air conditioner and heater maintenance.

Money Savings
Sure, routine HVAC maintenance costs money, but it’s a drop in the bucket compared to how much you’ll save by scheduling it.

The first way maintenance saves you money is by keeping your system running efficiently. The typical HVAC system loses up to 5% efficiency every year, causing it to work harder and your utility expenses to rise. Keeping your system tuned up, calibrated, and clean reduces your energy bills, and that’s money in your pocket.

The second way routine maintenance saves money is by preventing costly breakdowns and repairs. In our experience, most catastrophic air conditioner and heater failures occur because of minor problems that went unaddressed and led to system breakdown. It goes without saying, but the cost of a maintenance service call is practically nothing compared to a major HVAC repair or replacement.

Finally, routine maintenance protects your warranty. Most HVAC systems come with a manufacturer’s warranty; however, you must stay up to date with maintenance service and provide records if you ever need warranty repairs. Otherwise, you’ll pay out of pocket for the service that the warranty would have covered.

Better Air Quality
Many homeowners don’t realize it, but according to the EPA, the air in your home can be two to five times more polluted than the air outside. This is important for people with family members who suffer from allergies or upper respiratory illnesses.

Your professional HVAC technician will thoroughly clean your system and replace the filter, so the dirt, debris, dust, and pet dander don’t spread throughout the house and exacerbate allergic conditions.

Improved Comfort
You have a heater and air conditioner to keep your home and family comfortable year-round. So, when your system is in disrepair, you can drive yourself mad fidgeting with the thermostat, never getting the desired temperature or consistent heating or cooling throughout the house. Preventative maintenance like cleaning your ductwork, keeping your system in tune, and calibrating the components ensures your system works as intended to maintain your desired comfort level.

The bottom line is that your HVAC system is a complex machine, and much like your car, routine maintenance is essential for keeping it running efficiently, avoiding costly repairs, and extending its useful lifespan for as long as possible.

Clogged drains are one of the most common household plumbing problems homeowners will experience. And most people prefer home remedies like soap, hot water, and vinegar or over-the-counter drain cleaners to solve the problem instead of calling a plumber.

However, there’s been a lot of articles online and videos about how dangerous drain cleaners are, and many people wonder if it’s true.

Well, here’s the lowdown on chemical drain cleaners.

When speaking of the dangers of drain cleaners, we must look at the ingredients in these products. Go to your local home improvement or hardware store, pick up a drain cleaning product, and you’ll see chemical ingredients like:

  • Aluminum
  • Sodium Chloride
  • Sodium Hydroxide
  • Sodium Nitrate
  • Sodium Hypochlorite

Most of these products work through a chemical reaction that creates heat to melt a clog’s proteins and fats to break it up and clear the pipe. However, the heat and acids can harm certain plumbing systems, weakening joints and corroding pipes. If you rely too heavily on chemical drain cleaners, you could end up with burst pipes or a situation that requires repiping.

PVC pipes are especially vulnerable to the corrosive chemicals and heat these products use to clear away clogs, but plastic pipes aren’t the only concern. If you have a home with an older metal plumbing system that’s not in the best shape, the chemicals can speed up their deterioration.

The last thing to consider is the health consequences of using drain cleaners. The chemicals they use aren’t dangerous for your pipes but for you as well. Just read the warnings on these products, and you can see how dangerous they can be if you inhale the fumes or spill them on your skin or get them in your eyes.

The bottom line is that, while chemical drain cleaners seem to be effective, they’re not worth the risk of repeated use, and you’re always better off calling a professional plumber for safe drain cleaning.

Most homeowners rely on a traditional water heater to provide hot water whenever they need it. Traditional water heaters utilize a large storage tank to keep water hot until it’s ready for use. However, many people become frustrated at the limitations of these systems, such as running out of hot water with increased demand, short lifespan, and high maintenance. People in these situations often look for alternatives such as a tankless water heater and wonder if they’re worth the money.

If you’ve thought about a tankless water heater installation and wonder if they’re all they’re cracked up to be, here are a few benefits to consider.

Greater Energy Efficiency
As mentioned, the way a traditional water heater works is by filing a tank with water and allowing heating elements to heat it until it’s ready for use. The problem is that this system must continually heat the water throughout the day and night to keep it hot and ready, which costs money even when you’re not using it. Tankless systems only heat water when you need it, making them more energy-efficient and lowering your electric or gas bills.

Longer Lifespan
While tank-style water heaters are cheaper to purchase and install than tankless systems, they wear out more quickly. The average lifespan of a tank-style water heater is 10- 15 years, while a tankless system can last up to 25 years. So, while tankless water heaters cost more initially, you get more for your money in a longer lifespan.

Space Savings
Another frustration some homeowners have with traditional water heaters is the amount of space they take up in the house. It’s not uncommon for these systems to take up an entire closet, depending on how large the tank is. On the other hand, tankless water heaters are much smaller and can be mounted on a wall, allowing homeowners to reclaim valuable floor space.

Unlimited Hot Water
Finally, one of the biggest drawbacks of a tank-style water heater is that it still has a finite supply of hot water no matter how large the tank is. If you have a family with large hot water demands, it’s frustrating to run out of hot water constantly. Because tankless water heaters heat water as it comes into the system as you need it, you can enjoy an unending supply.

While tankless water heaters seem like the ideal solution, they’re not right for every family and have drawbacks.

The primary disadvantage of a tankless system is the cost. It’s not uncommon for a tankless water heater to cost up to three times what you’d pay for a traditional water heater.

Another disadvantage is that they’re not efficient at providing multiple streams of hot water at once. So, let’s say you’re washing dishes and doing laundry, and someone wants to take a hot shower. In this scenario, a tankless water heater probably will struggle to provide everyone with consistent hot water at the same time.

Switching from a tank-style water heater to a tankless model is a difficult decision and one that you will be stuck with for many years, which is why it’s best to consult with a professional to weigh your options and go with the best system for your use case.

If you own an HVAC system, you should know that changing the filter regularly is one of the most important things you can do to keep your system running efficiently and protect it from future problems. But, how often should you do it?

The short answer is that there’s no one answer that’s right for everyone; many variables determine how often you should change the filter, such as how often you run your system, how clean your indoor air is, and the quality of the filter itself.

Depending on the filter, they can last anywhere from one month up to a year, so it’s best to consult your users’ manual for their recommendation.

As mentioned, various factors determine how often you should change the filter, which we look at below.

Household Pets
If you have pets living in the house, you might have to change your filter more regularly because of the fur and pet dander that clog the filters more quickly. In general, if you have pets, you should plan on replacing your HVAC filter every one to three months.

Usage Habits
Another factor determining how often you should change your HVAC filter is how much you use your system. If you run your air conditioner and heater year-round, you can expect to change the filters more frequently than people who use their system sparingly. Also, filters require more frequent changing during the peak of summer and winter because homeowners typically rely more heavily on their HVAC during these times.

If you have someone in the home who suffers from allergies or asthma, you’ll want to change the filter more frequently to ensure they’re getting the cleanest air possible.

If you’re unsure how often to change your HVAC filter, consult your users’ manual or call a professional HVAC technician for help.

If you’re a homeowner, you’ve likely run into a toilet that constantly runs before — it’s one of the most common plumbing problems besides dripping faucets and clogged drains.

When your toilet continues running after you’ve flushed it, you probably jiggle the handle to see if that fixes the problem.

Toilets that constantly run do so for one of these reasons:

  • The float needs adjusting
  • The flapper is leaking and needs to be replaced
  • The refill tube needs to be shortened

If you’re handy around the house and comfortable getting your hands dirty, you can usually fix these problems yourself. However, for everyone else, it’s recommended that you call a professional plumber to do the job right and prevent further problems.

Well, there you have it. While we get a lot of questions every day, these are the most common. We hope this helps, and if you have a question, please don’t hesitate to call us and ask.

Jerry’s Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning is the go-to plumbing, heating, and cooling company in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties. Contact us today at (805) 928-5526.