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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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What's Split-Ductless Air Conditioning?

 
Q: I'm doing a remodel. I've been hearing about something called "split ductless" air conditioning? What is it and would it be a good option for cooling my home?
A: My in-laws are in Laguna Woods, California. They live in a two bedroom condominium with split ductless air conditioning. It works wonderfully and is
very efficient method of cooling, primarily because of the smaller size of their living quarters. Whether it's the best option for you depends on your particular home.
Split ductless air conditioning, hence the name, is a way to cool your home without adding ductwork, which typically requires walls, ceilings and attics to be opened up. More efficient than typical window AC units, split ductless is a an option if you only have several different rooms that need cooling.
Mounted high up on the wall, split ductless are modular units that contain an exterior condenser and an indoor evaporating component.  The blowers are connected by electric wires and tubes. The refrigerant flows through the tubes. Extremely energy efficient, they convert AC voltage to DC current and use very little electricity.
Split ductless units are remote controlled and tend to be quieter than traditional window coolers. Typically less expensive than central air systems, not having ducts means you eliminate the heat loss associated with ductwork. Approximately 30% of energy loss in central air systems comes from ductwork. However, if you are trying to cool an entire home, a central air conditioning system will likely be more cost effective. If your home is large it would be cost prohibitive to put ductless units in every area.
The pros at Sinclair are happy to answer all your questions about heating and cooling, including what equipment will be best for your particular home.
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Need New Pipes? Say Hello To "PEX"!

 
Unless we were engineering students, we likely didn't write a term paper titled "The History of Water Pipes". And it probably isn't a book title you'd grab off the store shelf. Water lines don't make the news unless they break.
From the aqua ducts, rolled lead pipes and canals of ancient Rome to wooden well casings from the Middle Ages to modern era light-gauge copper and plastic, water pipes continue to evolve.
PEX (aka "crosslinked polyethylene") piping has become a popular product in new home construction and remodels. It has many advantages over traditional copper, metal or rigid plastic pipes.
To appreciate the advantages of PEX, it helps to understand what other products require in the way of installation. Copper pipe, aside from being more expensive, is rigid. It comes in fixed lengths. Soldering is required to attach lengths together or when cutting smaller lengths to go around corners. It requires more precision fitting and is time consuming to install. It must be handled carefully as an improper bend could cause a crack in the pipe.
PVC pipes are easier to handle and more forgiving. Yet they require a two-stage gluing process. While less expensive than copper, it's similar in that it comes in fixed lengths and it's rigidity makes installation more challenging.
PEX eliminates or minimizes problems inherent with traditional piping. It's flexible, coming in large rolls instead of rigid fixed lengths. A typical 1/2" tube comes on a spool containing 1,200 feet.
Increased flexibility means fewer fittings. Instead of elbow joints and 90 degree couplers on copper and PVC, the PEX pipe simply bends around corners. It's easily run through walls. No glues or solder are necessary, eliminating chemicals from the installation process. It doesn't corrode, won't develop holes and doesn't allow scale build up.
In cold weather climates, PEX significantly reduces the dread of freezing pipes. In copper or PVC piping, when temperatures drop and water freezes, the water expands putting pressure on the pipe to the point of cracking or breaking. In cold temperatures, PEX piping expands with the freezing water instead of cracking.
PEX tubes are much easier to install, reducing labor costs. They also come color coded in white, black, blue and red, to help the homeowner and plumber distinguish between cold and hot water lines. If you can believe it, water through PEX tubing flows more quietly than through copper so there's no more "rattling pipes".
The professionals at Sinclair utilize PEX tubing in both new construction and remodel projects. If you're planning for a new home or updating your existing residence, they will be happy to talk with you about the best plumbing options for your needs. Call Sinclair at 806-749-COOL (2665)
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