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Lubbock HVAC, Plumbing, and Energy Management Blog

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Rain and Plumbing Issues


Q: After years of drought, we're thankful for all the rain we've been getting in West Texas. This may sound like a strange question, but are there any potential plumbing problems I need to look for when it rains a lot?

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Common Plumbing Mistakes To Avoid

Here at Sinclair we're here to solve your plumbing, heating and cooling problems. And while we're always glad to hear from you, we're also about helping you avoid making mistakes that would cause you to pick up the phone.
Here's three common mistakes we want you to know about so you can avoid plumbing problems in your home:
* (Toy) Planes, Trains and Automobiles - Every plumbing company has stories about the strangest items they've retrieved after being flushed down the toilet. Toy cars are right up there on the list. As are small stuffed animals, LEGO's, and other items small children like to watch go down the drain.
Years ago I read a "Dear Abby" column about two parents who intended to present their child with a bill when he turned 18. Their little Junior by the tender age of 3 had already cost them over $2,000 in plumbing bills from all the toys he'd flushed down the toilet.
When the foreign object gets stuck in the trap, the toilet must be removed to retrieve it. Sometimes people think plunging will force the item through, clearing the clog. It's not a good idea as plunging can force the item deeper into the waste line where it will likely become jammed, causing a nasty back up.
Solution: Keep an eye on Junior! And if something does get lodged, don't make it worse by plunging.
* Don't Forget To Pull The Plug - When I lived in Arizona the home I purchased needed a new garbage disposal. The installation went smoother than I anticipated. A little too smoothly. I forgot to remove the knock out plug from inside the disposal. When I ran the dishwasher there was no place for the water to go and it caused a major leak.
Solution: Don't forget to knock out the plug!
* Opposites Don't Always Attract - When two different kinds of metal pipes are connected, it can accelerate corrosion. The scientific term is "dielectric corrosion". It will cause scale to build up and clog the pipe.
Solution: Connect the pipes with a dielectric union. It's a special connector that has a plastic sleeve and a rubber washer that keeps the two metals from coming in contact with each other.
The experts at Sinclair are always here to help you with your plumbing issues. Give us a call at 806-749-COOL (2665)
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My AC Isn't "Keeping Up"

http://callsinclair.comQ: My air conditioner is working, but it's not "keeping up". It feels like the air coming out is cool enough but the house never gets to the point where it's really comfortable. Do you have any ideas as to what the problem could be?

A: It's Labor Day. I'm ready for cooler weather. But it's going to be 103 degrees today. So our AC units aren't going to get a rest for at least a little while.

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Sinclair Is Looking For An Experienced Technician!


Sinclair Plumbing and Heating is looking for an experienced commercial service technician.

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Buying An Older Home? Ask About The Plumbing!


Q: Some friends of mine bought a house about 6 months ago and they've already had lots of plumbing problems. It seems strange to me because they had a home inspection done. Wouldn't those problems show up in the inspection?

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Why You Should Hire A Licensed & Bonded Plumbing Company

Q: I'm adding a bathroom and utility room to my house. A friend of mine recommended someone he knows who does plumbing work as a side job. I have to say, I like his price a lot more than the bid the local plumbing company gave me. My friend says he does great work. Should I take the chance?
A: I'm sure your friend's plumbing acquaintance does good work. And the choice of whom to hire is yours. Yet a key to any wise decision is to have all the facts before moving forward. Here's some thoughts for you to consider as you approach your plumbing project.
* Anytime we consider spending money, there's a truth we need to remember. "In the beginning there is price. In the end there is cost." Everyone likes to save money. Yet if our decision is made strictly by the initial low price, we may be setting ourselves up for a higher cost in the end.
My wife and I are in the middle of a remodel on our fixer upper house at the lake. We wanted a fireplace. We're trying to budget our dollars and didn't want to pay the high price for a new fireplace. It seemed like a small miracle when we found one on Craigslist. It was just what we were looking for and they were only asking $100. Sure, it was three hours away but we'd be saving at least $1,700. So we made the drive and found it exactly as advertised. We were thrilled with our purchase until our contractor said the stove pipe required for it isn't made anymore. As in anywhere. As in "even if you can find it the building codes have changed so we can't use it". We paid a very low price. But it cost us in the end. Not a good deal.
Speaking of codes, that brings us to the next thought.
* Licensed and bonded plumbers are familiar with current building codes. There are talented people who know how to plumb, build and wire. Yet if they aren't full-time professionals in those fields, they won't be versed in the latest local building codes. Your bathroom project, if not built properly and according to code, can be "undone" by a building inspector who can, depending on the degree, make you undo and repair or take down the entire project and start over. This can be very costly, essentially paying more than double for what could have been done correctly the first time.
Licensed and bonded plumbers will review your plans and let you know what permits, if any, are required. Building without permits when they are required is an expensive mistake. If in the future you want to sell your house and the appraisers and inspectors see that additions have been made that weren't permitted, they can make you open up or tear down the addition because it wasn't inspected. And the best reason to abide by building codes and permits is that if your house burns down and the fire started in the non-permitted addition, your insurance won't pay for the damage.
* Licensed plumbers must meet state approved standards for knowledge and expertise. Few things are more frustrating in the construction process than realizing the person doing the work has "over sold" their abilities. Licensed plumbers have proven their competence.
* If you use an unlicensed plumber for your project, you're likely giving up any right to warranty claims for poor workmanship. In the event of poor workmanship, you can voice your complaints to the state contractor board. They are unlikely to help you with a claim against an unlicensed person.
* If you use an unlicensed plumber/contractor, you can be subject to unwanted liability. If they get injured on your property, you could be on the bad end of a lawsuit even though you had nothing to do with the accident. Licensed contractors carry liability and workman's compensation insurance.
The professionals at Sinclair stake their name and reputation on doing quality work that, in the end, will cost you less. Give them a call before starting your next project. They will be happy to review your plans and make suggestions that will keep your project legal and safe. 806-749-COOL (2665)
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Thinking Ahead About What's Behind

If you're a homeowner chances are you've been there. There's a problem with your plumbing. Or your air conditioning. You just can't see where it is. You get the flashlight. Then you look for batteries for the flashlight. Then you start looking in the dark corners and crevices, hoping for a glimpse of what's
causing the noise. Or the leak.
Professional plumbing and heating experts know how to track down hard to trace problems. When they do, it sometimes involves cutting and probing and digging to locate the trouble until someone points and says, "There it is."
There's a common technology that almost everyone carries in their pocket that can make home repairs easier during the time you're in your home. It's the camera on your cell phone. Taking pictures of the repairs made to your plumbing, heating, cooling and electrical systems can be a good resource. My
wife and I would pay a lot to have photos of what's behind our walls. We are in the middle of a remodel on our fixer upper home built in 1965. It started out as a small lake cabin and was added onto several times as the years went by. Everything is patched together. The result is we never know what we're
going to find when we open up a floor or knock down a wall. And when we do open it up, wow are we surprised.
So how can we "think ahead" about "what's behind" the walls?
* If you're building a new home, take pictures of the final runs of plumbing, ductwork and electrical systems BEFORE the drywall goes up. In the future should any repairs or remodeling be done, you'll have a picture of exactly where the lines run. That can save you a lot of time and money in guesswork about where to cut or open a space.
* If you're remodeling a home, do the same thing. Having a pictorial record of the positions of pipes and wires can save you a lot of frustration.
* Take pictures of repairs made in your existing home. In the event the repair doesn't hold or that area becomes part of a future remodel, you'll have something to reference.
* Label your photos! These aren't family pictures where you can tell the difference between your Uncle Fred and Aunt Freda because he's bald and she's wearing the funny hat. Electrical boxes, 2x4 studs and PVC pipe can look the same from room to room. So be sure to label the pictures. If you're
printing them out, write on the back. "Billy's bedroom - north wall", etc. If you're keeping them on your computer, give the image a description. That way you have a reference point should that part of your home need attention in the future. It's much easier to look at a picture and say "drill here" instead of cutting out a chunk of drywall to peek inside.
The pros at Sinclair are more than happy to help you outline the best plans for plumbing, heating and air conditioning in your new or remodeled home. A visit with them before you break ground or crack into a wall can save you a lot of time and money. Call them today at 806-749-COOL (2665)
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Do I Really Need A Check Up?


Q: I hear commercials from plumbing and HVAC companies advertising a "check up" for my system. My system's running fine and I think about the old saying, "If it's not broke, don't fix it." Why should I consider a check up when everything is working?

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What's So "Hard" About Water?

Q: I hear a lot about how hard the water is in Lubbock. My parents had a water softener when I was growing up but all I remember is lugging bags of salt to the basement. Can you tell me what makes water "hard" and what a softener does?
A: Ah, yes. Those 40-pound bags. I was a salt hauler myself back in the day. My parents water softener couldn't have been in a more inconvenient location under the stairs. I had to twist like a gymnast to squeeze in there.
We use the phrase "hard" to describe water that is heavy with minerals like magnesium and calcium, to name a couple. When minerals in the soil dissolve, they work their way into the ground water. As to determining the "hardness" of water, it's measured in "grains per gallon". According to the Water Quality Association, if your GPG is between 7-10.5 grains of calcium carbonate per gallon, you have hard water.
We don't think about math when we turn on the faucet. Maybe algebra teachers do, but I never have. So how does GPG affect us normal every day homeowners?
The first, and maybe worst, thing it does is create a build up of scale in our water pipes. Perhaps you've boiled a tea kettle dry and seen the white stuff on the inside? That's scale. After it builds up long enough, it will reduce your water flow. Let it go long enough and your pipes will plug up completely.
Hard water also makes your soaps and detergents less effective. It won't lather as well and creates that soap scum that the TV commercials talk about. Again, if scale builds up long enough, it will take more than cartoon scrubbing bubbles to fix your problem.
Water softeners remove the minerals that cause scale build up. It's a chemical process that involves replacing calcium ions in the water with sodium ions, thus making the water "softer".
The experts at Sinclair are always available to help you with your water questions. Whether you're wondering what system is right for you in the future or you have a right now emergency water problem, we're here for you. Give us a call at 806-749-COOL (2665)
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My Water Heater Is Making Funny Sounds

Q: My water heater is making funny sounds.  Except I'm afraid the reason for the sounds won't be funny at all. Any ideas?
A: Maybe the funny noises are a cry for help? If water heaters went to therapists they would say, "Nobody appreciates me until I stop working." We take this appliance for granted. It doesn't often get our attention until it breaks.
Here's a couple simple tips to help prolong the life of your water heater.

* Check for scale build up. If you've noticed that your hot water flow is decreasing, the problem may be your water heater. The water in West Texas is hard. As in hard as a rock hard. The mineral and sediment in our water is brutal on appliances like water heaters.

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