Tips & Articles

Our Top 5 Tips for Spring

Spring is officially one month away which excites many homeowners but also means that it’s time to prepare for the warm weather ahead.  Maintenance is key when getting ready for spring and summer days.  Read our top five tips to help you transition into the spring season with ease.

  1. Clean Your Gutters – This is a good idea to do at least twice a year. So when the snow is seeing its last days, check your gutters for any signs that your roof may need replacing if you find pieces of asphalt in the gutter bottoms.  But also clear them out of any debris so water can flow easily through.cleaning gutters
  2. Lookout For Termites – In the spring, termites swarm to find wood to burrow in.  If you see a bunch of winged insects flying around exterior wood this could be a sign of termites and you should call a pest control professional right away to avoid an expensive problem later on.
  3. Check Sprinklers and Hoses – Make sure none of the heads of hoses are broken or damaged and check to see if water is flowing easily through after a few minutes.  If not, there could be a blockage in the system that needs to be unclogged.
  4. Schedule an Air Conditioning Service – Just because your air conditioner is cooling down the house, it doesn’t mean it’s working efficiently.  Hire a licensed professional to service your AC unit before the summer and make sure to change air filters each season. backyard
  5. Get Your Soil Ready – Spring is the time to prepare your grounds for summer nights with family friends.  Clean off any benches, chairs, the deck, and outdoor entertainment equipment to welcome guests over.  Also rake beds of leftover winter debris so that your lawn is in tip top shape for warm weather!

With these 5 tips for outdoor spring maintenance, you will be ahead of the game when summer rolls around!  Call us today to schedule an appointment for tune-ups or repairs!

717-397-2577

5 Benefits of Installing a Water Conditioning System

We use water everyday in our homes.  From washing clothes and cleaning dishes to using it for showering or drinking.  Water has so many important uses in our homes so it’s crucial that it is safe and void of any impurities.  A water conditioning system makes sure your home’s water is safe for every day use and cleansed of any metals that contribute to “hard water.”  Before installing a water conditioning system homeowners can notice a weird taste, funky smell and inefficient water supply.  Here are top five benefits of adding a water conditioning treatment system to your home water supply.washing machine

  1. Cleaner Clothes: With a water conditioning system, clothes become softer since hard minerals trapped in the fabric are sifted out.  Fabrics end up lasting longer and whites stay whiter without the hard water making them gray.
  2. Extend Appliance Life: any appliances that use water such as dishwashers, coffee makers, ice makers, etc. will last longer with a water conditioning system, helping you in the long run avoid purchasing new appliances.
  3. Better Looking Dishware: If you notice hard water marks on glasses, dishes that aren’t completely clean or dirty silverware, a water conditioning system can be the solution.  By sifting out impurities in your water supply, you will see a major difference in shinier silverware, cleaner dishes and no water marks on glasses. 
  4. Safer Water: It’s no secret that tap water can contain some scary things.  Chemicals, bacteria and microorganisms can live in tap water unfiltered.  A water conditioning system install does the job to ensure any impurities are filtered out, leaving just pure, clean water that tastes better.
  5. Hair and Skin Benefits: Hard water rinses out the natural oils in your skin and hard, leaving both dry and brittle.  Just like using a moisturizer or conditioner, a water conditioning system provides “softer” water that coats skin and hair instead of stripping away necessary oils and minerals.

These are just some benefits of the many associated with installing a water conditioning system.  Make the switch by calling Ranck and setting up an appointment today!

Click Here for a limited time offer to save on your water conditioning system!

717-397-2577

Fall is the Time to Check Your Heating System

A woman adjusts her thermostat to check her heating systemAs the weather begins to cool down, you can open the windows to save on your electric bill. A good way to invest the money you save in the fall is to get a heating system tune-up. The small amount you pay for the tune-up can mean big savings on the repair bills you won’t have in the winter. Just like a vehicle, your heating system needs to be inspected and maintained to prevent larger repairs down the road.

Each type of heating system has a different set of elements that need to be checked and maintained throughout the year. You can find our complete 15 Point Service Checklist on our Ranck Maintenance page, but we have included some of the key issues that should be inspected for each system.

Gas Heating Systems
Gas furnaces and boilers are the most common heating system in the older homes of Berks, Lancaster and York Counties. Natural gas systems are very efficient and can be an economic way to heat your house. Still, like every other system there are components that need to be maintained and cleaned every year to keep your system working correctly and efficiently.

Cleaning
Build-up, after a winter of burning, can clog and decrease the efficiency of your system. It is important to clean the flue pipes and base at the chimney to make sure the airway does not have dangerous blockage. The exhaust and burner assembly also need to be cleaned.

System Checks
Like any fine tuned machine, different elements need to be checked and adjusted to ensure they do not compromise the rest of the system. These parts range from the gas line, ignition and combustion systems, to specific components like the pilot burner, heat exchanger, relief valve, and belt tension. This ensures that the complete system is running at maximum efficiency from the thermostat to the heat in your home.

Oil Heating Systems
Oil heating systems have become much more efficient than they were in the last century and gallon-for-gallon oil produces more heat than gas. However, oil prices have been much higher than natural gas in recent years. There are many similarities in maintaining oil heating systems, as well as a few key differences.

Cleaning
Like the gas systems, it is very important to clean the flue pipes and base of the chimney to make sure the airway is not blocked. The internal thermostat also has to be cleaned. Unlike gas systems, there is an oil filter that needs to be changed and the old one needs to be disposed of, according to hazardous waste rules. The oil nozzle atomizes the fuel before it ignites. These tend to get clogged with build-up from impurities in the fuel. There are many nozzle types, so it is important that the company servicing your system replaces it with one that will maintain or improve your heating efficiency.

System Checks
Oil systems have different stages that turn the oil into heat. Each stage needs to be tested to make sure it is functioning correctly. These stages include the transformer, oil blowers and motors, oil pump pressure, combustion chamber, relief valve, expansion tank, and heat exchanger

Heat Pump Systems
Like oil, electrical heat pump systems have become much more efficient in recent decades. The efficiency of a heat pump depends on the ease of airflow and the effectiveness of the machine pumping the air through the house. Since the same system is often used to cool the house, it is being used in both summer and winter, and should be checked twice a year.

Cleaning
The most important part of cleaning for the heat pump is the air filters, since a dirty air filter can restrict airflow and efficiency. The ducts should also be cleaned as a separate service at least every three years.

System Checks
Heat pump systems have many moving parts and smaller systems within the unit. System checks require lubricating all moving parts and examining the multiple components of the electrical, evaporator, pressure, blower, and condenser systems.

Many people wonder if it really is necessary to service your system every year. The answer is yes. For older systems, it is vital to replace older parts that can fail or reduce efficiency. Likewise, it’s important to have regular inspections of newer systems to prevent issues and catch problems before they become an expensive repair.

If you have not scheduled your annual check-up with Ranck, give us a call at 888-997-2625 or schedule an appointment. You can also sign up for Preventative Maintenance Service and have peace-of-mind throughout the year.

 

 

 

 

 

How to Fix a Kitchen Drain Clog

Banner: Helpful Plumbing tips

Drain clogs can happen in every home for a variety of reasons. Today we will look at kitchen drain clogs and different methods for removing and for preventing them in the first place. The kitchen sink is one of the most common places to get a clogged drain. This is due in a large part to the amount of grease and organic matter that can potentially go down the drain and into the water trap and pipes. And, if you are using a garbage disposal, there is even more potentially disruptive organic matter going down your drain. Here are some steps we recommend to keep your kitchen drains flowing:

Kitchen Sink Clog Prevention
Prevention is the largest factor in dealing with clogs. When cleaning dishes, make sure you scrape most of the food into the trash first and do not put coffee grounds down the drain. Pour any grease from pans into a metal can, which can be thrown away after the grease has cooled. Minimize the amount of food you put through the disposal. Avoid large amounts of potato peels, orange rinds, leafy vegetables, etc. Also use a constant flow of water during and for 30-60 seconds after the disposal is shut off. This will assist in the process and keep the drain from clogging. After you do the dishes, make sure you run hot water to prevent greasy buildup near the drain. If you really want to get serious pour a half-cup of baking soda and a half-cup of vinegar down the drain, followed by very hot water. 

Use Natural Bacteria/Enzyme Cleaners
Unlike toxic chemical drain openers, enzyme cleaners will create slime eating colonies that literally eat all sorts of organic matter. However these cleaners work best as a preventative, removing the grime before it can build up. The best time to use enzyme cleaners is right before bedtime, so they have all night to settle in before the next day’s water can wash them away.

Unclogging a Kitchen Sink
The best way to unclog a sink is to actually take out what is clogging the pipes. Toxic chemicals have acid and will “burn” a small hole trough the clog which may get rid of the backed up water, but will not open the drain. Once the drain is clogged, 90% of the time it is in the drain itself. If using a plunger on the clog doesn’t work, it will need to be “snaked” (opened with a flexible cable with a cutting attachment on the end that will open the drain as it rotates). While there are electric and mechanical versions the mechanical snakes are the better option and can be rented at a local tool rental center.  When using a snake, make sure you are wearing clothes that can get dirty because this can be tricky and messy task. If you have snaked the drain and still have the clog, you will have to go lower into the P-Trap. Empty or dip as much water out of the sink itself with a bucket before attempting anything under the sink.  If you don’t, you will get more water than even a large bucket can hold.

Once you have removed most of the water from the sink, put a large bucket under the P-Trap (the curved part of the drain). Then slowly loosen the top nut. If the clog is in the P-Trap, then water will start to run out into your bucket. Once the water has drained, remove the P-Trap. Take the P-Trap and shake it into the bucket to remove the clog. You can also push a paper towel through to clean out the grease and muck. If the water does not run out of the sink it means the clog is in the pipe above the P-Trap. Put the bucket back and see if you can work the clog free from the back end of the pipe. Remember, the water is still in the sink above the clog so things may get messy when it comes loose.

We realize removing the clog isn’t for everyone. So, if you need help we are only a phone call away. Call us at 888-997-2625 or contact us for help.

How to Keep Your Home Cool Without the AC

A family using fans in the top 10 ways to cool home without acAs the temperature climbs, you will find no better investment than your home’s air conditioning system to keep you cool. Making smart choices inside your home can prevent your AC from working too hard to maintain a cool temperature and could even help you have a cool home without AC if you want to give your system a rest.

Here are some tried-and-true and a few new ways to cool your house without the AC.

  1. Window Treatments
    Sunlight coming in through your windows can result in up to 30% of the excess heat in your house. Using blinds and light colored curtains can reduce the afternoon temperature in your house by almost 20 degrees. If you don’t want to reduce the light in your house just close the blinds on the south and west facing windows. You can also use sheer curtains to diffuse the light and reflect much of the heat back outside.
  2. Run Your Appliances at Night
    Laundry appliances generate heat whether through the hot water of the washer or the heat of the dryer. The heat generated by the dishwasher also contributes to the inside temperature. It’s best to run them at night when the air is cooler outside.
  3. Plant Deciduous Trees
    Planting trees that lose their leaves in the winter (deciduous) on the south and west sides of the house will generate cooling shade in the summer and allow sunlight to warm your house in the winter. Choose fast growing Poplar, Sycamore or Maple trees. You can also plant Birch trees that have smaller leaves, so the raking is a little easier.
  4. Grill More
    Your oven and stovetop are cooking more than your food. They are also raising the temperatures in your kitchen. Start grilling outside as the day starts to cool. With a little dedication you can grill most of the foods you make in the oven from pizza to oysters and french fries.
  5. Keep the Fans On
    Air circulation is important, especially if you are not using your AC. Many systems allow you to set the fan to run for a set number of minutes per hour. In the evening, running a fan to push the hot air out of the attic and pull in the cooler air will also help lower temperatures. Ceiling fans also do a great job of moving cool air downward within the room.
  6. Dehumidify
    In Central PA; humidity can make all the difference. If you have a dehumidifier keep it running. Also, be aware of the humidity generating activities in your home. Bathing or running the laundry and dish washer can add moisture to your home, so run the bathroom fan or a ceiling vent to pump out that moist air whenever possible.
  7. The Beauty of a Box Fan
    Box fans placed in or near windows can help draw in cool air from outside or pull warm air out of a room depending on how they are placed. If the blades face the window screen, the fan helps pull hot air out of the room. Flipped the other way, it draws in air from outdoors.
  8. Use LED Bulbs
    LED bulbs not only save on electricity, they also generate less heat. In Pennsylvania, electric companies often subsidize the cost of LED bulbs to lower the price, which in turn allows you to save on your electric bill and reduce the heat added to your home at night.
  9. Change Your Sheets
    Cotton sheets are the coolest option of the traditional fabrics. In the summer you will want to use sheets with a LOWER thread count since they breathe more. For those who need to sleep under a comforter or a blanket, try using a crochet blanket with wide openings to keep the air moving. There are also sheets and pillows engineered to absorb moisture and keep you cool. Some people even fill a hot water bottles with cold water and put sheets in the freezer before bed to stay extra cool.
  10. Old School AC
    It’s an oldie but a goodie. Put a pan full of ice in front of a fan. The fan will blow cool moist air from the pan into the room. This trick works best in smaller rooms.

We’re sure if you ask your elders they will have additional ideas you have never heard of and may want to try. In the meantime, sit back and appreciate the blessings of the modern system in your home today.