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Ways to Increase the Water Pressure in Your Home

Having your home's water pressure be too low can be a frustrating experience. In many cases, the pressure will suddenly drop for a few hours or even a few days before suddenly returning to normal. When this happens, the issue is typically caused by a problem with the city's water supply and nothing you really need to worry about. However, if your water pressure is constantly low, the problem is likely caused by some issue with your home's plumbing. The good news is that there are a number of steps that can potentially help to make your low water pressure problems a thing of the past.

Testing Your Home's Water Pressure

Ideally, your home's water pressure should be somewhere between 40 and 60 psi (pounds per square inch), and this is something you can easily check on your own. Many homes have a pressure-reducing valve located at the main shut-off that controls the water to the entire building. This valve should have a pressure gauge that shows you exactly how many psi your system has. However, there is no guarantee that the gauge is accurate, especially if it is fairly old. For this reason, you may want to purchase a pressure gauge and test it yourself.

The pressure gauge will screw directly onto a garden hose. After connecting the gauge, turn the water on as high as it will go and then check to see how high the pressure is. If it is below 40 psi, then it's time to figure out what is causing the pressure to be so low. If it is above 40 psi and you still occasionally have issues with low water pressure, it may be that your flow rate is too low and you're trying to use too much water at one time.

Use Your Water Meter to Make Sure Your Plumbing Isn't Leaking

While a small leak generally won't have much of an impact on water pressure, a major leak definitely will. If your water pressure issues started fairly recently, it may be that a plumbing leak is the cause. You can easily check this by monitoring your water meter. After making sure that no water is running inside or outside, inspect the water meter to see if the meter is still going up. If so, then it is time to contact a plumber to find and repair the leak.

Many water meters also have a leak indicator. This is usually a small triangle or disc that spins whenever water is flowing. If the disc is spinning when the water is off, this indicates that there is a leak.

Check Your Main Water Shut-Off Valve

If you have determined that a leak isn't causing your water pressure issues, you should then check to make sure that your main water shut-off valve is fully open. If you had any plumbing work done recently or had to shut off your water for any reason, it may be that the valve didn't get fully reopened. If the valve is partially closed, it limits the amount of water flowing into your plumbing system and will cause the pressure to be much lower.

Your main water shut-off is most likely located inside your house. Most commonly it is somewhere near the front of the house where the main water line enters the building. It may also be located inside an underground box near the front of your foundation, but this isn't all that common in Illinois and other colder climates due to the potential of freezing.

After locating the shut-off valve, check to make sure that it is fully open. Most newer plumbing systems use a ball valve, which is a straight handle that can turn 45 degrees. When fully open, the handle should be parallel to the pipe. If the valve is perpendicular to the pipe or at an angle, then it is not fully open.

If your plumbing system is older, it may use a gate valve instead. This type of valve has a round handle just like most hose spigots. To open a gate valve, turn the handle in a clockwise direction as far as you can.

Adjust the Pressure-Reducer Valve

If your home has a pressure-reducer valve, it could be that it is broken or malfunctioning. If the pressure valve isn't working correctly, it can result in either a major increase or decrease in water pressure. In either case, the valve will need to be replaced to overcome the pressure issue.

It may also be that the valve is working properly, but the pressure is simply set too low and needs to be raised. Adjusting the pressure-reducer valve only takes a few seconds, but it really isn't something you should do on your own. For starters, there is no way for you to know whether the valve is working properly. As well, you could seriously damage your plumbing system if you accidentally adjust the valve so that the pressure is too high. For this reason, it is always best to have a plumber inspect and adjust the valve for you just to be safe.

Contact Your Water Provider

Most municipal water providers will come and test your water pressure for free. This can be useful as it allows you to determine whether the water pressure coming into your home is sufficient. If not, then the issue lies with the main water line that brings the water into your home and not your plumbing system.

The city has shut-off valves that control the water from the municipal water main into each property. If this valve is even partially closed, it will decrease the flow rate and water pressure just as if your home's main shut-off valve isn’t fully open. This is a much more common problem than you might think. Unfortunately, this is not something you can check or adjust on your own as only the city has the proper key.

If All Else Fails, Install a Pressure Booster Pump

If all of the above steps have failed to solve your water pressure issue, the final option is to install a pressure booster pump. These electric pumps can drastically increase the pressure and flow rate as the water comes into your home. Most pumps use small blades known as impellers. As water comes into the pump, the electric motor spins the impellers, which increases the water pressure.

Booster pumps are a great option for increasing water pressure, but they are generally a last resort. If your water pressure issues are caused by clogged or obstructed plumbing or other issues, it is always best to fix the underlying cause instead.

Award-Winning Plumbing Services in Plainfield

At TR Miller Heating, Cooling & Plumbing, our team of licensed plumbers have the knowledge and experience to help you quickly overcome your water pressure issues. We can inspect your plumbing system to determine why your water pressure is low and then identify how best to fix the issue. Our team specializes in a full range of plumbing services including leak detection and repairs, repiping, booster pump installation and more. If you're experiencing a problem with low water pressure, give us a call today to make it a thing of the past.

Is Power Washing Your AC Unit Safe to Do?

Power washing your home might be something that can benefit it as part of your annual maintenance and home improvement efforts. Based on your home's exterior and the general climate in which you live, power washing can restore the vibrant curb appeal your home once had so it's once more inviting to those who pass by or visit. At the least, it's more attractive for you to look at when you come home. It might be tempting to include your AC unit in the power washing so it stays clean, too. However, that is actually not a safe thing to do.

Why Does Your AC System Need to Be Clean?

In most areas of the country, the coils of an air conditioning system should probably get cleaned every season. Spring has dust and pollen, and fall can mean leaves dying and dropping. Any of these can impact the airflow that needs to move freely through the coils of your unit. Any system clogged with debris or dirt isn't going to work as well. When your unit is overworked, it's going to be more susceptible to breakdowns. A blocked AC also results in more power usage, and it will actually work less effectively at the same time it's running up your utility bills. Wanting to clean your coils is a natural impulse so you can save energy and prevent damage. However, power washing isn't the way to go. Whether you are power washing your home or having a professional do it, don't do it to your AC unit. The high power is just too intense for your unit coils.

Why Is Pressure Washing an AC Unit a Bad Idea?

Power washers and pressure washers can do deep cleaning like nothing else. They can get gum and even graffiti off of pavement and concrete. They do this because of thousands of PSI, which is pounds per square inch, of water pressure. Even small battery-powered units can dish out some serious PSI. If you're looking to freshen up your driveway or sidewalk to your front door, that might be okay. If you're looking to clean your AC coils, you're hurting your home. Many AC units are made of soft materials, such as aluminum. Pressure washing will warp this metal out of shape and potentially ruin your system. You should even be careful when pressure washing a wood deck, although that's admittedly not our particular area of expertise. The fins of your AC unit can be easily damaged, especially if they're aluminum, or another soft metal, such as copper. You might even damage the tubing and hoses of your AC unit. Don't do it yourself. If you have someone else power or pressure wash your home, have them skip the AC unit.

A Costly Error

Your home has many different appliances you rely on for a comfortable living. Your AC unit is likely on of the most expensive ones of the bunch. Repairs can be very costly. A replacement is even worse. Damage from pressure washing is probably not going to be covered by a warranty or any insurance policy. Even if it might, why risk it? Having a technician clean your AC unit might cost you several hundred dollars. However, having repairs done to a unit damaged by power washing can cost much more. An entirely new AC system will cost you several thousand dollars.

How Can You Know When the AC Needs Cleaning?

Not sure when your system needs cleaning? It should be a part of your regular service calls, but there are other times that there can be specific indicators that something is wrong. If your power bill goes up without warning, then you might have a problem. When your condenser coils and evaporator are dirty, your AC unit might use more power. In fact, it can be as much as 30% higher than usual. If your AC is blowing warm air, that might mean heat is trapped in the system. Dirty coils can do that. It's almost like a traffic jam where cars can't get where they're going. If your AC is running longer than it used to, it might need the extra time and work to cool your home. That will start reducing the lifespan of the unit due to extra wear and tear. Know when to call in a technician. They have the tools and training to clean your AC system safely inside and out. They can also do preventative maintenance and diagnostics that keep your AC running efficiently and effectively for a long time.

How a Technician Will Clean Your AC Unit

The first thing a technician will do to clean your AC unit is to disconnect the power. This is a necessary safety feature to protect both the AC unit and their personal safety. If it were to come on or have live power during cleaning, serious bodily harm or equipment damage might happen. Your technician might talk to you about removing vegetation that is growing around the unit. Plants can restrict the airflow your AC relies on for utmost efficiency. However, vegetation might also help the system get dirty or even provide shelter for animals not helping matters. The technician will remove the top of the unit. They do this so they can get inside of it, and it might involve lifting some of the fan assembly. Once inside, they will clean off the fan blades and lubricate the motor at the proper points. If they do any water or foam cleaning, they will first cover the motor and electrical wires with plastic. They might spray the various AC coils before letting them soak. Once that is done, they'll spray the unit to flush out any debris or dirt. A proper inspection includes looking over the coil fins for bending or damage. A technician can use a fin comb to do repairs that restore appropriate airflow. Once done, the technician will remove any protective plastic they put into place, replace the cover, and then restore power to your AC. Once the system is running, you and your technician can both verify it is working properly. It won't likely take long for you to notice the difference in your AC system's performance following the right service call.

Key Takeaways

If you have an AC unit in Springfield, Illinois or surrounding communities, you need to keep it clean so that it can run better and last longer. Instead of power washing it, you should turn to our HVAC technicians who know how to properly clean your system inside and out safely and properly. Your AC unit can look great on the outside, work efficiently on the inside, and pump your home with fresh, clean air thanks to our industry experts. In addition to maintenance, our professionals handle AC repairs and installations. We also work on mini-split systems and provide a full range of heating services. Need help with your indoor air quality? We're the team for the job. Contact TR Miller Heating, Cooling & Plumbing today for more information!

Are Galvanized or Copper Pipes Better for Plumbing?

Most homeowners in the Plainfield, IL, area will face a time when they need to have plumbing work done. You may have to choose between copper and galvanized pipes. Both are designed to reduce the use of lead in plumbing systems. Copper and galvanized pipes have advantages, but there are also some key aspects to consider when choosing between these two types of pipes. Here are the primary differences between galvanized and copper pipes that the experts at TR Miller Heating, Cooling, and Plumbing share with our customers.

Material

Steel is a durable material, but it is prone to corrosion. For plumbing applications, the steel pipes are coated with zinc to create galvanized pipes. The process ensures that the pipes withstand the effects of water exposure and weathering. Copper pipes are primarily made with copper, but some other metals may be added. In some cases, manufacturers use scrap copper that introduces impurities. This practice often results in copper pipes that are not as durable or as long-lasting.

Longevity

When you invest in a plumbing project, large or small, you want to know that your investment will provide years of worry-free enjoyment of your home. Galvanized pipes may last up to 40 years, and copper pipes can last longer.

Lead Content

Believe it or not, galvanized pipes do contain a small amount of lead, even though the material was introduced to eliminate lead from residential and commercial plumbing applications. The lead in galvanized steel pipes is considered a safe level, even if it leaches into your water. For homeowners in Plainfield who want to completely eliminate any type of lead from their plumbing, copper is the way to go.

Sizing

If your Plainfield home is designed with several tight spaces for your plumbing, the professionals at TR Miller Heating, Cooling, and Plumbing may recommend copper pipes. Galvanized pipes are not available in smaller diameters, so they may not fit in your home.

Bacteria

Water contains bacteria that can grow inside your plumbing pipes. Galvanized pipes don’t inhibit bacterial growth. Copper pipes have certain natural properties that prevent bacteria from growing inside your pipes.

Hard Water Deposits

The water in the Plainfield, IL, area is hard, meaning that it contains a high level of minerals. Deposits develop inside your pipes over time, and this can lead to costly repairs. Mineral deposits are common in galvanized pipes, and copper pipes are less prone to these deposits. Unless you have a hard water softener, copper pipes may be your best investment.

Freezing

The winters in Illinois can be hard on plumbing. If your pipes tend to freeze, choose copper pipes. The material has the ability to expand and contract with changing ground and outdoor temperatures. As a result, copper pipes rarely burst due to freezing. Galvanized steel pipes cannot expand, and they often burst during the winter if they are not properly insulated and protected. On the other hand, water tends to condense inside copper pipes, and the condensation may freeze during the winter. Although the pipe may not burst, the ice can slow water flow.

Heat Resistance

One area where galvanized pipes outshine copper is applications that require very hot water. Copper pipes will fail if they carry water that is hotter than 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Hot water heaters should be set around 120 to 140 degrees so excessive heat is not a concern for most homes in the Plainfield, IL area. If you do have a special application for your plumbing that requires water that is 180 degrees or higher, we may recommend galvanized pipes.

Material Cost

Thus far, it seems that copper pipes are the best choice for homes in the Plainfield area, but we also advise our customers about the difference in cost. Copper pipes are more expensive. If you are working with a budget, galvanized pipes are the best choice. The pipes will last for several decades, and they are very durable and safe.

Repair Costs

Galvanized pipes are very affordable to install and repair, so, even if they don’t last as long as copper, this is still a very affordable option. Copper pipes are costly to repair. Fortunately, they rarely break, burst, or leak when they are properly installed by the experts at TR Miller Heating, Cooling, and Plumbing.

Taste

If you enjoy drinking tap water, galvanized pipes are the better option. Copper pipes leach materials that cause a metallic taste in drinking water, including ice cubes.

Property Value

Copper pipes add more value to your home than galvanized pipes. In fact, having a copper plumbing system may give your home an advantage over comparable properties in your neighborhood. Even if you aren’t planning to stay in your home, you will see a return on your investment in copper pipes when it’s time to sell.

Warranty

Like any other product in your home, plumbing pipes may come with a warranty from the manufacturer. For galvanized pipes that are warranted, the term is between 10 and 25 years. Copper pipes, though, come with an amazing 50-year warranty against manufacturer defects.

Should You Replace Galvanized Pipes With Copper Pipes?

For new construction in Plainfield, most plumbing systems are designed with copper pipes. For older homes, it may be worth considering replacing your galvanized pipes with copper. If your plumbing system is working well, there is no need to replace the entire system just to change materials. When you start having issues with your galvanized pipes, the professionals at TR Miller Heating, Cooling, and Plumbing may recommend an upgrade to copper pipes. Now might be the best time, though, if you are concerned with lead leaching into your drinking water from older galvanized pipes.

Can You Combine Galvanized and Copper Pipes?

Joining galvanized and copper pipes causes a specific type of corrosion that damages the pipes. The rust builds up inside a galvanized pipe and creates a clog. A better approach would be to evaluate your home to see if subsystems can be plumbed with different materials. If you want to stay within a budget and only update part of your plumbing with copper pipes, we may recommend using galvanized or copper pipes only on the wastewater part of your pipes.

How Are Plumbing Pipes Replaced?

In addition to upgrading the materials for your plumbing system, there are other reasons why you may need to change out your pipes. One of the most common times that we recommend replacing the pipes is when you have frequent repairs. If you are remodeling, changing to copper pipes adds even more value to your property. When it’s time to change out the pipes, expect the water to be off for part of the day. In more advanced plumbing projects, the water may need to be off at night, as well. We will need to cut holes in the drywall to access some of the pipes. We will patch the holes and repaint the walls once the work is complete.

Expert Plumbing Professionals

When you decide to change out the pipes of your home, you want a company that you can trust to do the job right. TR Miller Heating, Cooling, and Plumbing is a top-rated plumbing company that serves homes in the Plainfield area. We can also help with installation, repairs, and maintenance of your HVAC system. Give us a call today to find out how we can make your home more functional and comfortable.

Possible Reasons Why Your AC Makes Your House Humid

The summers in the Chicago area can be extremely hot and muggy, and this can make it extremely difficult to manage the humidity level inside your home. If everything is working correctly, your air conditioning system should be able to effectively control the humidity inside your home since the system removes both moisture and heat from the building. However, there are a number of potential issues that can cause your home to still feel damp and humid even when the AC is running all the time. If you're currently experiencing this issue, here are some of the possible causes and what you can do about them.

AC Isn't Working Properly

If your home feels overly humid when your air conditioning is running, there is a good chance that your AC system isn't working properly and either needs to be repaired or replaced. This is especially true if your air conditioner seems to be running constantly or has issues keeping your home at the desired temperature. It may be that your system is low on refrigerant due to a leak in the evaporator coil, condenser coil or refrigerant lines. In this situation, you will need to have an HVAC technician inspect your system to find and repair the leak and then top the system up with more refrigerant.

The problem could also be that you don't have sufficient airflow coming into the system. This could be because your air filter is clogged and needs to be replaced. Insufficient airflow can also occur if your supply or return air vents are clogged or obstructed or because of leaks or other issues with your ductwork. It may also be that the motor on the blower fan is beginning to wear out and can no longer circulate enough volume of air for the cooling system to work properly.

In most cases, these and other AC issues will lead to both higher indoor temperatures and increased indoor humidity. The easiest way to avoid these issues is to have your cooling system inspected and professionally maintained every spring. That being said, problems can still arise at any time and especially if your AC unit is more than 10 years old. If you suspect you're having any air conditioning issues, the NATE-certified HVAC technicians at TR Miller Heating, Cooling & Plumbing are always on hand to diagnose and repair whatever issue you’re facing.

AC Isn't Running Often Enough

If your air conditioning system is running properly and you're still having issues with high indoor humidity, it might be that you're simply not running your air conditioner often enough. If you're like many people, you might shut your AC off when you go to bed at night in order to save energy. You might also be one of those people who sleeps with the window open every night. In either case, this could be a major part of the reason why your home is constantly humid.

If you turn off your air conditioning at night, even if the temperature inside your home doesn't rise, the humidity level still can. This can make it nearly impossible for your AC to keep up with the humidity during the day since it will still shut off when it reaches the set temperature no matter what the humidity level is.

The problem can become even worse if you keep your windows open at night since it will allow the humid outdoor air to penetrate into the home. When this happens, the moisture doesn't just stay in the air. Instead, it soaks into your floors, walls and furnishings, and this can result in the humidity level inside the house staying much higher no matter how long your air conditioner runs.

Studies have shown that in humid areas, keeping your AC off and windows open at night will usually negate any energy savings from the AC not running at night. This is because the system will need to work harder when it comes back on in the morning due to all of the moisture that got into the house at night. For this reason, it is always best to keep your AC turned on and your windows and doors closed throughout the summer except for on much milder, drier days.

Condensate Drain System Is Clogged

Your AC system is designed to trap moisture from the air, and this moisture then exits the building through the condensate drain system. However, if the condensate drain system is clogged or not draining properly, the moisture will be trapped inside the house and eventually evaporate back into the air. When this happens, your AC won't have an effect on the humidity level inside the home no matter how long it runs. Luckily, issues with the condensate drain system are usually fairly easy to spot and to fix. If the drain pan inside the air handler unit has standing water in it, this indicates that the drain system isn't working properly. In this case, you can either attempt to unclog the drain line yourself or enlist the help of an HVAC technician.

Insufficient Insulation in Your Attic

Your indoor humidity issues may also be a sign that your attic isn't properly insulated and sealed. If the attic has air leaks or insufficient insulation, it will allow the heat and humidity from outside to seep into the building. As with many of the other issues, this can make it impossible for your air conditioning system to ever properly manage the humidity level inside the building. In this situation, you will need to have your attic air sealed or add additional insulation to overcome the issue.

Ways to Better Control Your Home's Humidity Level

If you're dealing with high indoor humidity levels in your home, there are several things you can do to make it easier for your AC to keep up. The most obvious one is to always keep your house sealed up tightly whenever the humidity level outside is higher. You should also make sure to use the exhaust fans in your kitchen and bathroom every time you cook or bathe since both of these things can create a lot of steam and quickly increase the humidity level.

While these things can definitely help, by far the best way to better control your home's humidity level is to install a whole-home dehumidifier. These units work to remove much of the moisture from the air inside your HVAC system before it reaches the evaporator coils. This not only reduces the humidity level in the air but also lessens the strain on your air conditioner. The more humid the air is, the hotter it is as well. As a result, your air conditioner will have to work much harder to keep your home cool. This is why, in many cases, installing a whole-home dehumidifier leads to lower energy bills as it can allow your air conditioner to run less frequently and for shorter periods.

If you're experiencing any issues with high humidity or insufficient cooling, the technicians at TR Miller Heating, Cooling & Plumbing can help to ensure your home stays cool and comfortable. We work on all makes, models and types of heating and cooling systems, and we also offer a full range of plumbing services. With locations in Plainfield and New Lenox, we serve customers throughout most of the Chicago metro area. Stop struggling with high heat and humidity and instead give us a call to see what we can do to improve your home comfort.

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