Apollo Heating Category


Drain Clearing: When to Throw in the Towel & Call a Pro

plumber drain clearingA clogged or slow drain may require professional drain clearing and cleaning in Cincinnati — or not. What it takes to resolve common clogs differs greatly from house to house. Some will be cleared by basic DIY methods while others resist the do-it-yourself approach and require drain clearing and cleaning in Cincinnati. What are the factors that make the difference?

The Clogged Trap

If debris washed down the drain has accumulated in the p-trap—that u-shaped bend in the pipes just below the sink—you may be able to restore proper drain function yourself.

First try a standard drain plunger. If a few rounds of vigorous plunging don’t work and you’re handy, you may try to clean the trap manually. A PVC p-trap can usually be readily removed by loosening the large slip nuts on either side of the trap and pulling the trap down and off the drain pipes. Clean out the trap and reinstall, hand tightening the slip nuts. Check drain function.

If the clog persists, avoid the temptation to pour caustic drain cleaners down the drain which may damage your pipes and cause expensive repair bills. Now’s the time for professional drain clearing and cleaning in Cincinnati to deal with these issues:

Deeper Clogs

Debris past the p-trap, deeper in the drain system, usually resists plunging. Consumer-grade household drain snakes, meanwhile, often aren’t long enough to reach it and/or may not get past sharp bends in the pipe. Professional intervention and equipment is required.

Sludge Accumulation

This gooey concoction of soap scum and grease accumulates in drain pipes and eventually stops flow of waste water. Plunging is ineffective and/or use of a drain snake only pokes a hole in the sludge, which quickly closes again and the clog recurs. A plumber can dissolve sludge with hydro-jetting technology that cleans the inside of the pipe with high-pressure hot water or utilize power-rodding equipment with rotating mechanical blades to scour internal pipe surfaces and restore drain function.

When professional drain clearing and cleaning in Cincinnati is what’s required to clear a clog, contact the experts at Apollo Heating, Cooling, Electrical and Plumbing.


Thinking of Fixing Your Own Furnace? A Few Important Reasons to Leave it to the Pros

A little bit of knowledge can be a dangerous thing, especially when it comes to trying to fix your own furnace. Modern furnaces are more complicated than in the past, and repairs require a high level of technical expertise. You also risk voiding furnace warranty with DIY repairs. Here are the five top reasons why you should leave furnace repairs to the pros.

voiding furnace warrantyDIY Furnace Repairs: Why You Should Avoid Them

  1. A professional has more experience and knowledge than the untrained DIY-er, so more likely can pinpoint a problem quicker. You may think you know what’s wrong, but furnaces are complex, and there may be an issue you haven’t even guessed at.
  2. Every year, at least 100 people die in this country after trying to fix their own furnaces. The fatalities are mostly from exposure to carbon monoxide. Only persons trained in handling combustion-powered appliances should do repairs or installations that might involve CO leaks. It’s odorless, and victims of CO poisoning often don’t know they’re in danger until it’s too late.
  3. DIY furnace fixers run the risk of starting fires or causing an explosion from leaking gas. Professional technicians have equipment to detect leaks, and the right tools to repair them. More than likely, it will take more than a screwdriver, channel locks and duct tape to successfully repair a furnace, so unless you’re ready to make a big investment in specialized equipment, you’ll actually save money by calling a pro.
  4. You may think you’re saving money by doing the repairs yourself, but you could make a malfunction worse if you lack proper training. You’ll probably have to call a professional later anyway, and it may cost you more to fix the damage caused by the DIY repair.
  5. Voiding furnace warranty is another reason to let the pro do it. A manufacturer won’t honor a warranty unless all repairs are done according to the agreed-upon terms.

For more on voiding furnace warranty or other hazards of DIY furnace repair, contact Apollo Heating, Cooling and Plumbing. We’ve served our Greater Cincinnati-area customers with pride for more than a century.


How to Prepare a furnace for the Autumn and Winter Months

With cool weather just around the corner in the Cincinnati area, now is the perfect time to make sure that your furnace is properly prepared. Here are a few home maintenance tips for your furnace that can help get the heating season off to a good start.

home furnace

An old gas furnace in a dirty basement
Source: istockphoto

Change the Air Filter

The air filter not only helps to remove dust and other pollutants from the air, but it also protects your furnace and keeps it running efficiently. Typically, an air filter is changed as part of your annual service visit, but you should also check it yourself each month during the heating season and replace it, when necessary.

Program the Thermostat

If you have a programmable thermostat, you may need to adjust its settings before the cool weather arrives. Choose a comfortable temperature for the periods when you are at home and awake, keeping it as low as possible.

For each degree you reduce the standard temperature, you can save up to 3 percent off your heating costs. For periods when you are away from home or asleep, set the thermostat 10 to 15 degrees lower to reduce your heating costs by up to 20 percent. If have a manual thermostat, replace it with a programmable model to enjoy similar savings.

Clean the Air Vents

Remove the vent covers in each, and vacuum any dust or debris out of the air ducts to help improve your indoor air quality. Open all the vents and make sure they are not covered by furniture, curtains or other objects that could inhibit airflow.

Inspect the Furnace

Clean the area around the furnace and kook for obvious signs of problems, such as holes in the vent system, dirty burners, cracks in the heat exchanger, or a frayed fan belt. If you notice any of these problems, have your system professionally inspected.

For more home maintenance tips concerning HVAC systems, talk to our team at Apollo Heating, Cooling and Plumbing. If your furnace has seen better days, and requires extensive repairs, be sure to call us first to learn about our affordable furnace replacement options.


Home Maintenance Advice: Why you should hire a Handyman

Part of the financial commitment homeownership involves requires keeping it in good shape on an ongoing basis. Some of the best handyman advice many homeowners receive is to stay on top of routine maintenance, whether it’s undertaking easy tasks or tackling more complex projects indoors and out.

Neglecting home maintenance can lead to bigger problems in the future. While painting a room or caulking a window is a fairly easy process, turning to a skilled handyman for the projects where you have less experience, skills, or lack the tools makes sense because:

  • The job will get done faster. Many home improvement projects disrupt daily living. When you have no water, power or heat due to a issue at home, it can be a major inconvenience. But if you hire a handyman, you can avoid the delay in repairs by hiring a professional that will get the job done as quickly as possible.
  • Materials usually cost less. Professional handymen often purchase materials at a discount because they’re able to buy at wholesale costs. You can also trust the handyman advice regarding the materials and products you need because they know the best ones to use for durability and dependability based on their knowledge and experience.
  • They use the right tools. Contractors invest in tools that simplify projects and assure you that you’ll have professional results.
  • Home improvement professionals know the building codes. Two of the most critical components of your home that deal with safety include its wiring and plumbing, both of which are covered under building codes. As part of licensing, contractors must demonstrate their competence with both.Having an unlicensed or inexperienced person make changes to wiring or plumbing can result in serious damage to your home and a risk to your family’s safety. Wiring, especially, poses safety risks. Plumbing problems from do-it-yourself changes or repairs can cost more in the long run than hiring a professional to complete the job.

If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of handyman advice and find expertise for your next project, contact Apollo Heating, Cooling and Plumbing, serving greater Cincinnati homeowners since 1910.


What is the Water Safe System Service Provided by Apollo?

Water is a necessity of life, but it can also be a destructive force. A blown pipe. A leaking washing machine hose. An overflowing drain. All of these can cause extensive property damage. If you are worried about any of these scenarios, you need to look into water leak prevention services in Cincinnati.

water

Water hitting a hand
Source: istockphoto

The worst thing about water leaks is that they often happen silently. There is no loud explosion or dramatic occurrence. The water starts leaking and it won’t stop. The family comes home and finds water flooding the basement. Or they wake up in the morning to find the first floor flooded. The damage is done by that point, and the only thing to do is stop the leaking and call the insurance company.

Introducing the WaterSafe

The good news is that are ways to detect water leaks and put a stop to them immediately. The WaterSafe is a perfect example of this kind of system.

This system involves installing water detection sensors at key locations throughout your home. Many homeowners choose to place them near the washing machine, dishwasher, water heater, and in the basement. If these sensors detect any increase in moisture levels that would indicate a leak, they signal a central control unit that is hung on a wall someplace in the home.

That signal sends an alert to an automatic water shut-off valve installed on the house’s water main. The shut-off valve cuts water to the entire home immediately. This helps prevent more water from leaking out and causing more damage. When the leak is fixed, there is a “over-ride” option on the central controller that will turn the water back on. The WaterSafe can also update special monitoring software that will send alerts to the homeowner immediately after the system is activated.

An automated water shut-off system like the WaterSafe not only protect your home from water damage. It may also qualify you for a discount on your homeowner’s policy.

If you are interested in water leak prevention services in Cincinnati, contact Apollo Heating, Cooling and Plumbing for more information on WaterSafe.


Is it Time for a New Furnance in Your Cincinnati Home?

Pinpointing the best time to replace your furnace isn’t necessarily a cut-and-dry decision, sometimes typical of decisions related to heating and cooling installations in Cincinnati. Because this climate can be extremely cold in the winter, heating systems work hard. Sometimes replacement is a clear-cut necessity, but more often, it’s a combination of its performance, heating costs, and your comfort that may prompt an upgrade. Here’s how to tell if you need a brand new heating installation in your Cincinnati home.

  • installing a furnace

    Repairman servicing or repairing basement furnace unit
    Source: istockphoto

    The furnace is more than 15 years old. As mechanical systems age, they experience wear and tear, and their energy efficiency starts to drop. Although a new furnace requires a financial investment, it’s one that will pay you back in lower heating costs.

  • Your heating bills keep rising without an appreciable change in the weather or your comfort preferences.
  • The furnace starts making strange noises inside the blower compartment. They can signal motor or heat exchanger failure.
  • The furnace needs frequent repairs. When the mechanical and electrical parts inside the furnace need to be replaced with some frequency, it’s time to consider a heating and cooling installation in Cincinnati. Not only is the lack of heat uncomfortable while you wait for a repair or the replacement parts, the investment in new parts and labor may not be worth it, especially if your heating bills keep rising.
  • It has signs of rust or a cracked heat exchanger. Any sign of rust inside the blower compartment is a red flag that replacement may be imminent. If your carbon monoxide (CO) detectors go off after the furnace starts or shortly after it stops, call your HVAC contractor immediately after turning off the furnace. A cracked heat exchanger may be emitting CO in to your air.
  • Lack of professional maintenance or running your system with a dirty air filter can crack this vital part. A cracked heat exchanger almost always requires a furnace replacement, unless a warranty covers parts and labor for repairs.

If you suspect it’s time for a new heating and cooling installation in Cincinnati, contact Apollo Heating, Cooling and Plumbing, providing trusted HVAC services since 1910.


Get Your Gutters Cleaned at the Beginning of Fall

Fall is the season for contacting a professional gutter cleaning service in Cincinnati. Most home maintenance experts advise cleaning the gutters twice a year, at the outset of fall and spring when gutter dysfunction is most likely.

cluttered gutter

A man taking autumn leaves out of gutters
Source: istockphoto

Gutters are more than just an appendage to conveniently divert water off the roof. Here are some reasons why a gutter cleaning service in Cincinnati is an important part of seasonal home maintenance in the fall.

Autumn means falling leaves. Organic debris like leaves and twigs accumulate in the gutter, obstructing the free flow of water. At the first rain or snow-melt, clogged gutters overflow and a waterfall encircles your home.?

Overflowing gutters cause structural damage. The exterior siding of your home is designed to resist exposure to raindrops—not a continuous cascade of water from an oveflowing gutter above. Water flowing down the exterior penetrates the siding and causes damage to the interior of the wall structure as well as triggers toxic mold growth.

Instead of being safely conveyed away from the house by functional gutter downspouts, the additional effect of water pooling on the ground adjacent to the home may cause infiltration into the foundation and/or basement walls.

Blocked gutters deform and deteriorate. Gutter supports aren’t designed to withstand the continuous weight of standing water in a clogged gutter. Obstructed gutters may bend, pull loose from mountings, and eventually collapse. Rust and corrosion due to constant presence of water in the gutters may also cause leakage.

Gutter water turns toxic. Stagnant, standing water inside clogged gutters forms a breeding ground for insects, attracts vermin, such as rodents, and provides a perfect environment for algae and mold growth.

Cleaning gutters properly can be difficult, hazardous work that requires professional expertise and equipment not available to the average do-it-yourselfer. Balancing on a ladder or attempting to stand on a wet, sloping roof while removing heavy amounts of saturated, decomposing leaves presents obvious safety hazards.

Contact the gutter cleaning service in Cincinnati offered by Apollo Heating, Cooling and Plumbing today to get the job done safely and swiftly.


How to Tell if the Boiler in Your Cincinnati Home Is Having Issues

Fall is just around the corner in Cincinnati and you will soon be using your boiler to heat your home again. It’s useful to go over the various signs of boiler malfunction, so you’ll know what you can fix and when to call for boiler repair in Cincinnati.

boiler

Horizontal view of boiler-house in the building
Source: istockphoto

Radiators Not Heating

A radiator may feel warm at the bottom but cold on the top. The cause could be rust in the pipes, air in the radiator or the pump is not circulating water as it should

Bleeding the radiator can help with the air blockage: Turn the radiator on till it’s warm, then turn it off. Place a towel under the pressure release valve. Insert a radiator key or screwdriver in the pressure release valve, turning it counterclockwise. When water starts to leak out, quickly turn the valve in the other direction.

No Hot Water

The reasons for this can be many, including a broken airlock or diaphragm, failing motorized valve, low water level or a broken thermostat.

Pilot Light Keeps Going Out

This is probably a faulty thermocouple, and a job best left to a service tech.

Noise From the Boiler

If the boiler is “kettling,” a kind of gurgling sound, there could be trapped air or lime scale buildup. You can try bleeding the radiator and flushing the pipes. If that doesn’t work, call a service tech. Pump failure could also be a cause.

Faulty Thermostat

Thermostats don’t last forever, so if you suspect yours isn’t sending the right signals, it’s time for a replacement.

Drips or Leaks

This is likely caused by worn-out hoses or parts. Call a service tech.

Losing Pressure

Pressurized systems may fail to keep up proper pressure. Water leaks may be the cause, or it might be a faulty pressure relief valve. If your manual tells you how to re-pressurize the system and you feel competent trying it out, then do so. Otherwise, call a professional repair person.

For more on boiler repair in Cincinnati, contact Apollo Heating, Cooling and Plumbing. We’ve been serving our Greater Cincinnati customers since 1910.


How to Find the Right Insulation Option for an Attic

Improving attic insulation in your home will lower the costs of keeping it comfortable year-round, since all insulation slows heat transfer. The best place to start is by exploring attic insulation services in Cincinnati to learn which type will provide the best performance, based on your attic’s structure, its usage, and your budget.

attic insulation

insulation of attic with fiberglass cold barrier and reflective heat barrier between the attic joists
Source: istockphoto

The U.S. Department of Energy recommends that you have at least 18 inches in the attic or an R-value of 49 for this climate. The most common choices you have for achieving the optimal levels include:

Batt

Fiberglass batt insulation lends itself to a do-it-yourself project since the rolls are relatively easy to install. If you have existing fiberglass batts and they’re in good shape, place the new layer perpendicular to the old layer for the greatest protection.

Always wear protective clothing and a dust mask when handling fiberglass. It sheds tiny, sharp particles when it’s handled that are known skin and respiratory irritants.

Loose-fill

Cellulose, or fiberglass loose-fill insulation, is another common way to insulate attics, and it’s a good choice for those that have areas or corners that are otherwise difficult to access. Installers use large blowers into which they place the insulation, and blow it into place.

Home improvement centers rent blowers, but because it’s important to distribute it carefully, it’s one of the types that you might want to use attic insulation services in Cincinnati. Cellulose is made from shredded recycled paper and treated with borates to retard fire, insect and mold growth.

Sprayed

The insulation value of sprayed foam coatings exceeds those of batt or loose-fill, and it’s the best option for insulating tight spaces, or if you plan to use the attic as livable space in the future. Instead of placing the insulation on the attic floor, it’s sprayed onto the underside of the roof. While it offers the greatest protection against heat transfer, it’s also the most expensive option for both the product and its installation.

For more information about attic insulation services in Cincinnati, contact Apollo Heating, Cooling and Plumbing, providing trusted home comfort services for homeowners since 1910.


Why You Need to Air Seal a Home before Autumn

Air sealing and home insulation are closely associated with energy savings during the wintertime heating months. Though, these practical home efficiency upgrades save energy and make your home more comfortable all year long.

caulking doors

Elderly contractor caulking around glass door frame, sealing from possible air leaks, conserving energy
Source: istockphoto

The sooner you tackle buttoning up your Cincinnati home, the sooner you can take the heat off your pocketbook and boost home comfort.

Benefits of Air Sealing

As mentioned, there are drawbacks to living in a leaky home. Newer homes are constructed with more efficient materials and methods, though, older homes are well known for their “natural ventilation.”

In addition to wasting energy and suffering uncomfortable drafts, leaky homes may promote unhealthful indoor air quality. Air infiltration typically passes through walls, the floor and the attic, which introduces any contaminants in those spaces to your living spaces. Moreover, if you use gas appliances, such as a gas furnace, water heater and dryer, you’re also at risk of dangerous back-drafting caused by air pressure changes.

How to Seal Your Home

A tube of caulk and a few packages of weatherstripping works wonders to stop leaks. Though, you must first find air leaks to seal them.

Take a pen and notepad and write down drafty areas you’re already familiar with. Check weatherstripping and caulking around exterior entry doors and windows. Replace any damaged or brittle sections. Use foam and silicone tubing weatherstripping to seal the attic hatch and exterior doors respectively.

A thin line of caulk around window frames and glass can stop air bypass and rattling windows. A can of low-expansion foam works best for larger gaps around wall penetrations from piping, recessed lighting and the flue. Make sure the spray is fire-resistant.

Assessing Home Insulation

Only after your home is tightly sealed should you install or add insulation. Attic insulation in the Cincinnati area should be as much as R-60. That’s approximately 15 to 19 inches of fiberglass insulation, for example. Replace insulation that is damp, moldy or damaged.

If you need help air sealing and assessing home insulation before the autumn leaves start to fall in Greater Cincinnati, please contact Apollo Heating, Cooling and Plumbing today.