Tips for Buying Your Next Air Conditioner

Central air conditioning systems can last from 15 to 20 years. Sticking with an older unit may seem less expensive, but not when it comes to utility bills. When time comes to buy a new air conditioning system, there are 3 things to remember.

First, is your new air conditioning system sized properly?

Sizing your air conditioner is based on both the latent cooling load, which is the humidity of the air, and the sensible cooling load, which is your home’s air temperature.

That’s why we start by measuring floors, ceilings, walls, and windows. We check insulation in the attic, walls, and crawl spaces. We also check for leaky, disconnected, or crushed ducts, or ducts that are too small for the system and constrict airflow. All this data is necessary to calculate proper sizing. A properly sized air conditioner can maintain a 20 degree difference between the outside and inside temperature of your home.

But, did you know that most of the cooling process is actually dehumidification? An improperly sized system might cool your home, but leave an uncomfortable, clammy feeling. That’s a breeding ground for allergens and mold. Oversized air conditioners cycle on and off too quickly, using more energy and preventing removal of humidity. Undersized systems, on the other hand, may not be able to reach comfortable temperatures on hot days. And since they have to work too hard, they run up higher electric bills.

Only a correctly sized unit will provide optimal performance, operating life, and energy efficiency.

Now, while AC size is important, so is the location of the condenser.

For optimal performance, the condenser unit should be located in a cool, shaded place, ideally on your home’s north side, out of direct sunlight. It also needs unimpeded airflow, with at least 4 feet of clearance at the top.

It’s also important that the inside coil is located for easy access, so it can be reached for annual cleanings.

Finally, don’t be tempted by the lowest bid.

Use printouts of the cooling load calculations for each air conditioner to directly compare the attributes of each unit. Also, be sure to check the Internet for reviews of each air conditioning company. In particular, keep a close eye out for reviews that include details of what the reviewer’s experience was like months or years after their air conditioner was installed.

Cutting corners on your air conditioner or the installer will cost you more in the long run. Improperly sized or installed air conditioners will run much more efficiently than indicated by their ratings, resulting in higher than necessary energy bills.

When you’re ready for a new air conditioner, call the experts at Gilmore. We offer free consultations, and have the experience and technical expertise necessary to identify and properly install the air conditioner that’s right for your home.

What Causes AC Freeze-Ups?

When ice forms on air conditioning units, it robs them of their ability to cool. These freeze-ups can lead to expensive repairs. That’s why it’s critical to understand the causes of freeze-ups and the steps you can take to prevent them.

Common causes of freeze-ups include:

  • Dirty filters
  • Dirty evaporator coils
  • Low refrigerant levels
  • Closed-off supply registers

As it cools your home, your AC unit condenses water vapor into liquid that drains outside. When airflow is impeded by a dirty air filter or other obstruction, water ends up freezing on the evaporator coils before the condensed water can be drained away. The AC still runs, but doesn’t properly cool, and uses more electricity. Running your AC with ice on the coil can result in serious damage that requires repair or replacement of the compressor, the most expensive component in your system.

Thankfully, there are steps you can take to prevent AC freeze-ups.

If you see ice forming on the outdoor unit or pipes leading from the compressor, check your filters. Blocked or closed vents can also impede airflow, so make sure that yours are open and free of blockages.

Other common causes of freeze-ups include faulty fans that don’t circulate air through your ductwork, faulty thermostats, and low refrigerant levels. Low refrigerant levels make the coils too cold, preventing the system from absorbing enough heat, leading to a freeze-up. Since air conditioners do not burn refrigerant, low levels indicate a leak. Locating a leak is work for a licensed technician, who will likely need to recharge your refrigerant.

Cold weather is another cause of freeze-ups in certain regions. When nighttime temperatures drop below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, you should switch off your AC and open windows, or install an ambient temperature control, which allows air conditioners to operate properly in lower temperatures.

Annual maintenance tune-ups are your best defense against freeze-ups. These checkups should include cleaning both indoor and outdoor coils, checking and replacing air filters, a check of refrigerant levels, and a variety of other important elements of your system.

If your air conditioning system isn’t operating properly, or hasn’t been looked over by a professional recently, it’s time to call the experts at Gilmore. Our trained technicians will take all the steps necessary to ensure that your AC unit doesn’t experience a freeze-up or other breakdown when you need it most during the hot days ahead this summer.

Common Central AC Issues You’ll See This Summer

As the weather starts heating up in earnest this week, here at Gilmore we know that the phone calls are going to start rolling in quickly. While we love assisting our customers, we believe in saving them money whenever possible.

There are many problems that can affect air conditioners which require professional attention. However, there are some that do not. Here are the three most common AC issues that can be remedied by homeowners, without professional assistance.

Clogged HVAC Filters

Is your air conditioner not putting out much air? It might be the air filter.

Every home that has a central cooling and/or heating system has an intake air filter somewhere in the home. If you’re not sure where it is, check around your home for an especially large air vent covered by a grate that either pops out or has a couple of screws holding it in place.

In order for your air conditioner to work properly, this filter needs to be replaced regularly. That’s because the filter catches dust and other debris that originates in your home, preventing it from being sucked through the air conditioner and causing damage. Over time, this debris will build up in the filter, reducing airflow and reducing the effectiveness of your AC.

Sooner or later, the ultimate consequence of this is that your air conditioner coils will freeze up. This can cause serious damage.

If you’re feeling very little airflow from your AC, turn it off and then replace the AC filter (don’t run the AC without the filter in place!). If you see a marked improvement in performance, then the filter was likely just caked in too much dust.

If you don’t see an improvement, check the coils on your AC unit. If they’re frozen up, then you’ll need to keep your air conditioner off and allow the coils to thaw. Once the ice has melted, try running your AC. If it’s still not putting out a steady flow of cool air, then it’s time to give Gilmore a call, as either damage has been done to your AC, or something else is going on.

Tripped Electric Breakers

Air conditioners require a lot of power. If you’ve ever seen the lights dim when you plug in your vacuum cleaner or another appliance, you can understand how a single piece of equipment can tax your home’s electrical system.

This is why every home comes equipped with a breaker box (or in the case of very old homes, fuse panels). If the total electrical draw in a part of your home—such as the kitchen, living room, garage, etc.—exceeds what is safe, then the breaker will flip, cutting the power.

However, your AC system should always be on its own circuit, thus you likely won’t be able to tell that the AC has flipped a breaker. If the AC is on its own circuit (if it’s not, please contact us immediately, as this is a serious concern), all you’ll notice is that your air conditioner simply won’t turn on. If it won’t start, check the breaker for the circuit it’s on. If it has been triggered, simply reset the breaker, and you’ll be able to start your AC.

It may be necessary to avoid running other major appliances, such as vacuum cleaners, while your AC is running. However, if the breaker trips again while only the AC is running, then there may be a larger issue, such as a wiring problem. If the breaker keeps tripping, then it’s time to call Gilmore.

Dead Thermostat Battery

This is a very common issue, and probably the easiest one to fix. If the display on your thermostat is blank, and doesn’t power on or otherwise respond when you press a button, then the battery is likely dead.

If you’re using an older style LCD thermostat, then replacing the battery is very easy.

First, check around the edges of the thermostat to see if there’s a button or catch to press in order to remove the thermostat casing. If there’s no such release, then simply grasp the front of the casing firmly, and gently pull it toward you. It should pop off in your hand.

You should immediately notice a compartment with one or more batteries inserted—typically AAs, but occasionally 9 volts or other batteries are used. Remove the dead batteries, and replace them with high quality alkaline batteries (don’t use cheap “heavy duty” batteries, which have a short lifespan and tend to leak and have other issues).

The thermostat should immediately power on, and you can go ahead and replace the cover. If the thermostat still won’t turn on, then professional service is likely necessary.

If you’re using a newer style smart thermostat, such as a Nest, these use rechargeable batteries which are charged through your home wiring. If an issue arises with your smart thermostat, you’ll likely want to go ahead and give us a call.

Hopefully, this brief primer on common AC issues will help you avoid any unnecessary service calls. Here at Gilmore Heating Air and Plumbing, our goal is to provide you with top notch HVAC service. If you ever have questions about your air conditioner, just give us a call, or use our site’s contact form to request an appointment.

Is a Portable Home Air Conditioner Right For Your Home?

Window AC units have been a popular home cooling solution, especially for those who live in apartments and older homes that lack central AC. But window units aren’t a workable solution for some, due to a lack of an appropriately sized window, or other issues.

In response to this need, manufacturers have recently started marketing “portable air conditioners.” These units, which are similar in appearance to dehumidifiers, are essentially a small air conditioner that doesn’t mount in a window, but instead uses a hose to pass warm air out through a sliding or casement window, sliding door, an exhaust vent cut into a wall, or a dryer vent.

While portable ACs provide homeowners and renters with an additional option to consider, the question has to be asked: how effective are these products?

According to Consumer Reports, portable air conditioners aren’t particularly effective.

Recently, Consumer Reports —the nonprofit organization that reviewed a wide variety of consumer products for more than 80 years—published an article providing a brief overview of the effectiveness of popular portable air conditioners.

What they found wasn’t terribly reassuring. Consumer Reports tests window and portable AC units by placing them in a 90 degree room, and seeing how long it takes the unit to bring the temperature down to 75 degrees. However, they reported that, “few [portable ACs] made it to even 80 [degrees] after 100 minutes.”

Chances are that you don’t want to wait 2 hours for the temperature to drop to still stifling 80 degrees. And the best of the bunch that Consumer Reports has tested—keep in mind, none of the portable units they tested made CR’s list of recommended air conditioners—lists for $600.

Portable air conditioners have other problems to deal with as well.

It may be that you live in an area with a mild climate, and so being able to lower the temperature a few degrees is good enough. However, there are other unpleasant issues to contend with if you choose to purchase a portable AC.

The exhaust hose. For an air conditioner to be effective, it has to expel the hot air outside of the home. Window units accomplish this by venting hot air right out the window into which they’re mounted. But because portable ACs are free-standing, they use an exhaust hose that has to be directed outside. You’ll either have to spend some time inserting what is essentially a piece of flat plastic with a hole in it into your window, cut a hole in the wall through which to put the hose, or figure out some other solution.

The noise. The process of cooling air is rather noisy. Central air conditioning units have the advantage of putting the noisy condenser outside your home, so that you aren’t subjected to the worst of the noise. But a portable AC contains the condenser, meaning that whatever room you’re cooling will be very noisy.

Not quite so portable. Portable ACs are typically mounted on wheels, allowing you to move them from room to room. But they’re only portable in the loosest sense of the word, tipping the scales at up to 80 pounds. If your home is carpeted, or if you wish to use the unit in an upstairs room, you’ll have to use some muscle to get one around the house.

Limited area of effect. Like window units, portable ACs are only designed to cool a very small area, such as a bedroom. This means that only a small part of your home will be cooled, and all the doors connecting it to the rest of your home will need to be closed at all times.

Negative pressure. Portable ACs, like window units, use a small amount of the air they draw in to push out waste heat through the outside exhaust. Because air is being pulled out of the room and not replaced, this creates negative pressure. As a consequence, warm air in surrounding rooms will be pulled into the room that you’re trying to cool. This air in the surrounding rooms will, in turn, be replaced by warm outside air that is pulled in through cracks, window seals, and door frames. So, your portable AC will have to continuously work to deal with this constantly intruding warm air, while in turn effectively heating up the rest of your home.

Portable air conditioners are an expensive solution to hot summer weather. For a bit more money, an internal air conditioning solution will cool your whole home, without the unpleasant noise and inconveniences associated with a portable AC.

To find out what Gilmore Heating Air and Plumbing can do to keep your home cool this summer, give us a call, or use our contact form to schedule an appointment.

How to Choose an HVAC Contractor

You may spend weeks or even months doing research, trying to decide upon an air conditioning system to install in your home. This due diligence makes perfect sense. After all, you’ll likely own your next air conditioner for 10 or 20 years, or even longer! However, the effectiveness of an air conditioner isn’t just determined by the stats on the box. A poorly installed air conditioner will never perform as well as advertised, and will cost you dearly on your power bill.

But how can you choose the right heating and air expert? Well, this guide will provide you with some helpful suggestions.

Look up reviews for popular heating and air installers in your area.

It’s definitely a good idea to start by looking for the best-rated AC installers in your area. Yelp and Google are reliable standbys that are great sources of information. But there are also other sources of reviews to check out, including Facebook and the Better Business Bureau, as well as more industry specific review sources like HomeAdvisor.

Really take some time to read some of the reviews written by past customers, so you can get a sense of what you can expect from each company. Look for reviews written by customers with questions and concerns similar to yours, and see what their experiences were like.

Ask around for referrals and opinions.

No opinion is more valuable than then opinions offered by trusted friends and family members. Ask them who they have worked with previously, and what their experiences were like. In addition, try mentioning some of the potential companies you’ve found in your research—naming names may remind them of experiences they’ve forgotten, or may prompt a recollection that, “Oh, so-and-so worked with that HVAC company. You should give them a call and see what their experience was like.”

We know from experience that word-of-mouth and family recommendations go a long way. In a few instances, we have worked with three generations of the same family. So be sure to ask around and see if your loved ones have any insight.

Call up the AC installation companies you like best and pick their brains.

Every job is different. In your case, you may know that your home will pose a particular challenge due to its layout or construction, or you have specific requests for your system setup. Or you may simply have particular preferences, such as a specific brand of air conditioner you have found consistently reliable.

Call your short list of promising HVAC installers and pose your questions to them. Treat it like a job interview or audition—you have a list of very specific needs, and you need to ensure that the installer you choose has the skillset and experience necessary to fulfill your needs. In addition, be sure to ask what guarantees and warranties do they offer for their work. If they won’t stand by their work, why should you?

If they don’t have experience with your preferred brand of AC or they don’t sound confident about their work, then it’s probably wise to move onto the next contractor on your list.

Ask for a home inspection.

Once you’ve weeded out the lemons, call the remaining companies and request an onsite inspection. The only way an HVAC contractor can provide a reliable cost estimate is by actually inspecting your home.

Don’t make your determination based upon the price tag alone. It’s often worth it to pay a little more—after all, you get what you pay for. Instead, look for attention to detail and evidence of professionalism and competence. A good contractor won’t do a quick in-and-out. They should look over your entire home: check the insulation, visually inspect the windows and doors, examine the condition of your home’s insulation, and so on.

Once they have completed their inspection, make sure to get a written estimate. Never accept a bid unless the contractor stands by it with a written budget and a guarantee that they’ll get the job done. Follow these same guidelines for choosing company for A/C repairs as well.

Now, http://air-conditioning-repair/it’s time to make your decision.

But if you’re still feeling uncertain about the process of choosing an HVAC installer, we are more than happy to answer any questions you might have. Here at Gilmore, we’re big believers in providing customers with all of the information they need in order to make an informed decision. Our goal isn’t to make a sale, but to make you happy.

To get a hold of one of our HVAC experts, just give us a call, or schedule an appointment with us using our convenient contact form. We’ll be happy to assist you in any way we can!

Schedule an Air Conditioner Tune-Up

Air conditioners are complex pieces of equipment, which rely upon flawless operation of a large number of moving parts, as well as secondary components such as intake fans, unobstructed ductwork, and so on. The failure of one or more components, even something as simple as a blocked air filter, can result in substandard performance.

While many things can go wrong with an air conditioner, it’s easy for homeowners to know when it’s time for an AC tune-up:

  • Your air conditioner has been breaking down frequently or is unreliable.
  • Your AC usage hasn’t changed, but your power bills are going up.
  • Your AC’s repair costs have been climbing.
  • Your air conditioner simply can’t keep your home comfortable during hot summer weather.

The important thing to keep in mind is that when you notice your air conditioner isn’t operating as it should, don’t wait to call us. While your problem may not worsen for weeks or months, on the other hand it could be symptomatic of damage that will become more expensive to repair the longer you wait.

Besides, if you live anywhere in Central California, air conditioning isn’t an option. Do you really want to live in a hot house with ever-increasing power bills and no comfort to show for it?

What an air conditioner tune-up involves.

When you call Gilmore and schedule an AC checkup, your service expert will perform the following services:

  • Inspect blower wheel, compressor, evaporator coil, outdoor coil, and ductwork
  • Check supply and return air temperatures
  • Check the filters and thermostat
  • Take the amp draw of the indoor and outdoor fan motors
  • Take the amp draw of the compressor
  • Inspect refrigerant lines and measure refrigerant pressures
  • For heat pumps, check the operation of the reversing valve
  • Check the air handler and look for air leaks
  • Inspect the control boards
  • Check the compressor contactor
  • Check condensate drain lines
  • Test run capacitors
  • Check starting devices, drain pans, and fuses
  • Inspect electrical wiring
  • Check condition of compressor windings
  • Inspect breakers and service disconnect
  • Evaluate the safety of electrical connections

You may or may not know what much of the above means, but what we want you to understand is that we take the tune-up process seriously. That’s because we know how important proper AC maintenance is, and the degree to which it can improve your system’s performance.

You can contact us to learn more about our residential AC Tune-Up and, or to go ahead and make an appointment. But don’t wait! Delaying necessary maintenance can result in expensive repairs and pricey power bills. Let the experts at Gilmore ensure that your air conditioner is running efficiently and effectively!

How to Stay Cool if Your AC Fails

This week we’ll see another page come off the calendar as August gives way to September. But while this may mean cool autumn weather for some areas of the country, the summer has a lot of life left in it.

According to CBS Sacramento, the temperatures over the weekend (August 26th and 27th) crushed all-time records for those dates since weather record-keeping began in Sacramento in 1877, with highs of 105 and 108 degrees. And the next few days aren’t looking to be too much of an improvement.

When Sacramento’s temperatures get this hot, it’s downright dangerous.

It’s deceptively easy to overheat once temperatures hit triple digits, even if you’re a longtime resident and feel that you’re used to the weather. A few extra minutes out in the sun when you’re running errands can make a big difference. And it’s in this kind of weather that aging air conditioning systems tend to break down—when they’re working at their hardest.

So, what can you do if your air conditioner fails in order to keep your family safe?

Just like in a medical emergency, you want to make sure that you have expert assistance on the way. So first, you need to call Gilmore Heating Air & Plumbing immediately, or make an appointment online ASAP for air conditioner repair. When it gets this hot, we get busy, fast. You want to make sure that you get scheduled as soon as you can, so that you minimize the wait.

Once you know that you have an appointment for one of our AC technicians to come out and fix the problem, then it’s a matter of making sure that your family stays safe and comfortable.

How do you stay cool and healthy in the heat without air conditioning?

If your air conditioner has just failed and your home is currently cool, try to keep it that way. Keep windows and doors closed, and close all blinds and curtains. As long as it’s cool, stay indoors.

If your house is too warm to comfortably inhabit, make a day-trip of it. Go to the mall, your local library, or somewhere else indoors and air-conditioned. Do your best to minimize heat exposure.

If you have to head outdoors, wear a hat and sunglasses, and consider putting on sunscreen as well.

Make sure to drink lots of water. Do not wait until you’re thirsty. If you’re exposed to temperatures above 90 degrees or so, you should be drinking at least a couple glasses of water per hour.

Watch out for signs of dehydration and heat stress, such as:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Tiredness
  • Muscle cramping
  • Disorientation and difficulty thinking
  • Rapid shallow breathing
  • Clammy skin
  • A lack of sweat in high temperatures

If you start noticing these signs, you need to hydrate immediately, and then find shelter somewhere cool. If your symptoms worsen, it’s time to seek medical attention.

This time of year is very deceptive. It’s late in the year, and many of us are anticipating pumpkin spice drinks and pleasant fall weather. But you need to be on your guard, as Sacramento and surrounding areas are capable of generating dangerous 100+ degree weather as late as early October. We’re not out of the woods yet.

So if your air conditioner fails or is showing signs of failing, you need to get it repaired now. Gilmore can help. Give us a call, or send us a message using our appointment contact form!

Maintenance Tips to Keep Your HVAC System Running Effectively

We’re getting towards the end of the summer, but here in Central California we still have another month or so of hot weather to get through. You’ll need to keep your air conditioner running strong for a few more weeks, and perhaps more importantly, you’ll want to make sure that your HVAC system as a whole is set for success, no matter what the weather.

Chances are that you’ve been running your air conditioner a lot the last few months, which means that conditions are primed for ductwork contamination.

Ductwork is one of the most vulnerable parts of any HVAC system. Moisture accumulation due to leaks can result in mold contamination, and debris buildup can choke off air circulation and eventually overwork your system.

Have you had Gilmore perform a checkup on your HVAC system? Then now is the time to give us a call, or send us a message with our appointment scheduler form to take advantage of our special promotional pricing before it ends!

Even if you’ve had your HVAC system checked recently, it’s always a good to have preventive maintenance program for your air ducts—whether or not you decide to have the air ducts in your home cleaned. It not only helps prevent contamination—it provides great peace of mind knowing that your indoor air quality is the best it can be.

8 Ways to Prevent Dirt from Entering Your HVAC System:

  1. Use the highest efficiency air filter recommended by the manufacturer of your heating and cooling system.
  2. Change filters regularly.
  3. If your filters become clogged, change them more frequently.
  4. Be sure you do not have any missing filters and that air cannot bypass filters through gaps around the filter holder.
  5. When having your heating and cooling system maintained or checked for other reasons, be sure to ask the service provider to clean cooling coils and drain pans.
  6. During construction or renovation work that produces dust in your home, seal off supply and return registers and do not operate the heating and cooling system until after cleaning up the dust.
  7. Remove dust and vacuum your home regularly. (Use a high efficiency vacuum (HEPA) cleaner or the highest efficiency filter bags your vacuum cleaner can take. Vacuuming can increase the amount of dust in the air during and after vacuuming as well as in your ducts).
  8. If your heating system includes in-duct humidification equipment, be sure to operate and maintain the humidifier strictly as recommended by the manufacturer.

How to Keep Moisture from Building up in your HVAC Ductwork

When water builds up in ducts, this can promote biological contamination, such as mold that is unhealthy and even dangerous to breathe. That’s why it’s very important to make sure there is no moisture in your air ducts by carefully controlling the environment.

Moisture can enter the duct system through leaks, or if the system has been improperly installed or serviced. Research suggests that condensation on or near air conditioner cooling coils is a major factor in moisture contamination. So, condensation or high relative humidity is an important indicator of the potential for mold growth on any type of duct.

3 Smart Tips for Controlling Moisture:

  • If you know something is wrong, don’t delay in getting your A/C system repaired. Promptly and properly repair any leaks or water damage.
  • Pay attention to cooling coils which remove water from the air—they can be a major source of moisture contamination of the system that can lead to mold growth. Make sure the condensate pan drains properly. The presence of substantial standing water and/or debris indicates a problem requiring immediate attention. Check any insulation near cooling coils for wet spots.
  • Make sure ducts are properly sealed and insulated in all non-air-conditioned spaces (e.g., attics and crawl spaces). This will help to prevent moisture due to condensation from entering the system and is important to make the system work as intended. To prevent water condensation, the heating and cooling system must be properly insulated.

If your AC system isn’t working at its peak capacity, it’s probably time for a checkup, especially as the weather starts to turn in the next couple months and increased moisture raises the odds of indoor air quality concerns. Talk to the HVAC experts at Gilmore Heating Air & Plumbing by giving us a call, or send us a message through our appointment form. We look forward to hearing from you!

How to Unclog Your Pipes the Right Way & Care for Your Home Plumbing

Taking care of the plumbing in your home isn’t just a matter of dumping some Liquid-Plumr or Draino down the sink every time it backs up. In fact, in many cases this is the worst thing you can do for your plumbing. Many homes still use cast iron pipes, and each time corrosive chemical products are used to chew away at a clog, they also chew away at your pipes as well. Sooner or later, your plumbing will begin to fail and leak, and you will need to call up your local drain cleaner or plumbing contractor for a service call.

Here are a few tips on how to care for your plumbing and minimize any future plumbing service calls.

Do NOT pour boiling water down your sink or toilet.

In recent years, DIYers looking to find a green alternative to chemical products have suggested pouring a potful of boiling water into a clogged sink or toilet to clear a clog. While it’s probably okay to dump boiling water in the sink when your pipes are clear, a clog will trap the water in the pipe. This can melt PVC piping and pipe seals, causing serious damage.

In addition, using boiling water to clear a clogged toilet can melt the wax ring around the toilet, or even crack the porcelain bowl, leading to a pricey trip to your favorite hardware store.

The also widely suggested solution of pouring baking soda into a drain, followed by vinegar, isn’t nearly as problematic, as vinegar isn’t very acidic. In fact, it may clear very mild clogs. However, this likely won’t accomplish much with more severe clogs, as all the fizzing reaction does is shift around whatever is clogging the pipe.

To clear a clog, use a snake or other physical implement, rather than a chemical-based solution. Also, don’t use boiling water.

Physical drain cleaning tools are actually very inexpensive, and are cheaper overall when compared to one-time-use products after you’ve cleared even a couple clogs. There are three types of clog removal tools that can be effective.

The easiest to use is a plunger. In addition to the ever popular toilet plunger, there are specially made sink plungers which are very inexpensive. These may either resemble a child-sized version of a toilet plunger, or utilize an accordion design, like the one below.

For shallow clogs, one of the most under-appreciated and handy drain tools is a plastic toothed drain snake.

The names for this tool can vary wildly—you may also find them in your local store or online described as a clog remover, drain opener, auger wand, drain cleaning tool, or something else entirely. This tool isn’t appropriate for clearing a kitchen sink or toilet, but can be a lifesaver when you’ve got a stubborn hairball lodged a couple feet down your shower drain or bathroom sink. The teeth are perfect for grabbing onto hair and pulling it up. However, its small size limits its suitable applications.

For more stubborn, deeper clogs, there’s the well-known drain rooter, also referred to as an auger. These can vary widely in design: they may use a drum or wand to contain the snake, and some use an electric or even gas motor. But the old crank-style augers are what you’ll find in the average homeowner’s garage.

Drain augers can be very helpful for removing small to mid-size clogs. But be careful not to get too aggressive when attacking a stubborn clog. Otherwise, you risk providing a bit of amusement for the plumber who has to remove both the original clog and the drain snake jammed in your pipes.

If none of the above tools is sufficient to clear up your drains, then it’s time to give Gilmore a call and schedule an appointment.

A few additional tips on how to maintain your plumbing and avoid plumbing service calls.

  • Watch what you put down your kitchen sink. Dumping grease, chicken scraps, and tough fruit peels down your kitchen drain is a sure fire way to clog your sink, no matter how good your disposal is.
  • Use a hair trap. A metal or plastic hair trap that fits over the shower drain is a cheap, effective way to prevent annoying clogs and having to pull nasty hairballs out of the drain.
  • Don’t flush wipes and hygiene products down the toilet. Hygiene products are not plumbing safe, and even the wipes that are supposedly flush-friendly are not. Toss them in the trash.
  • Watch out for leaks. Not only do leaks wastewater, they can also cause mold and dry rot. Check your pipes occasionally for any sign of water leaks, and call a plumber ASAP if you see one.
  • Reduce your water pressure. For about 8 to 10 dollars, you can buy a water pressure test gauge that twists onto your garden hose. If your water pressure is over roughly 80 PSI, then your plumbing is being strained, and there’s a high risk of leaking and failure. If the pressure is too high, hire a plumber to install a pressure reducer (this is not the same thing as the water flow reducers often used in sinks and showers).

We know it’s annoying to call a plumber. But sometimes, it’s the right thing to do to protect your home and ensure your family’s comfort and convenience. If you’ve got a stubborn plumbing problem, Gilmore Heating Air & Plumbing can help. For assistance, contact us today and we’ll send out a plumbing pro to assist you as soon as possible.

Don’t worry over that clogged sink or toilet: call Gilmore and let the professionals take care of it!

How to Choose a Reliable and Honest Plumber

Deciding on a plumber back in the day used to be either very easy, or very hard. If you lived in a small town, you might have been lucky to have two choices. If you lived in a big city, you had plenty to choose from, but the only information you had to refer to was the phone book. How could you tell a good plumber from a bad plumber? The only way to go was to get a reference from a friend or family member.

Nowadays, Yelp, Google, and even Facebook give you access to hundreds or even thousands of plumbing businesses, and tens of thousands of reviews. (As of October 2017, a Yelp search for “plumbers” near Sacramento yields 940 results). Now we have the opposite problem: Once you’ve narrowed down the search results to a few dozen plumbers with good reviews, how do you decide which one to choose? How do you ensure that you get good service at a fair price?

First, know when it’s a time to call a plumber. Give yourself time to do research.

Before we get ahead of ourselves, we have to point out that an important part of keeping your plumbing repairs costs down is knowing when you’re in over your head. There are plenty of minor plumbing issues that you can take care of yourself, such as dealing with a minor plumbing clog, or even installing a new kitchen faucet.

But when you’ve been at it for an hour or two and haven’t seen any positive results, and you’ve got a wrench in hand and you’re about to start cranking on a PVC pipe, stop. Do you know what you’re doing? Too much tension on a pipe running into your wall can cause pipe damage that requires doing demo work in order to get at the damaged plumbing. Or you might cause a flood of water that results in severe water damage to floors, walls, and elsewhere.

Take a moment to consider whether you’re confident in what you’re doing. This is especially the case if you’re working on something outside of business hours. You do not want to have to call an emergency plumber out at 10 PM on Sunday night because you busted something and your kitchen floor is flooding. You’re going to pay a fortune repairing the damage—just the call-out will run you $50 to $100, and they’ll tack on an extra $50 or even $75 per hour onto their normal rates—the repair work will be much more extensive and costly than it would have been otherwise, and you’re not going to have the time necessary to do research and pick a good plumber.

When in doubt, stop, and start looking for an expert.

Ask friends and family if there are any plumbers they have had good experiences with. Then do your own research.

We may live in the age of the Internet, but personal recommendations are still worth considering. See if your loved ones have had positive experiences with local plumbers. You can also try asking relevant businesses that you have worked with, such as contractors, gardeners, realtors, property managers, and so on.

If you’re lucky, they may have some names. If so, start looking online. Make sure that their reviews online are good. If they aren’t, then maybe your family members just got lucky.

Once you’ve got a short list of plumbers that are well recommended by friends and/or have solid reviews, start making phone calls. First of all, ask for their license numbers. In California, independent contractors and businesses that offer plumbing services must have a current C-36 Plumbing Contractor license. Any trustworthy plumber will be more than happy to provide their license number, which you can then verify on the California Contractors State License Board’s page for checking contractor’s licenses. In fact, you can find Gilmore’s current license here. That page will also show you the licenses relevant to our other professional services as well.

There are a lot of reasons not to choose a plumber. Don’t ignore these signs.

If they aren’t licensed, don’t work with them. It doesn’t matter how great a deal they offer you, if they aren’t licensed, then they probably aren’t properly bonded either, and don’t have an insurance policy to cover any damage they cause.

Ask them how long they have been in business. When possible, always hire a plumber who is well-established, and is unlikely to disappear into the night if you need further assistance.

Secondly, ask them if they guarantee their work. If they don’t, don’t hire them. And don’t just take their word for it. (Check out our Gilmore Guarantee on our website’s homepage.) Make sure that they provide that guarantee in writing. Also, this is why it’s important to ask them about their work history. A guarantee doesn’t matter if the business isn’t around to honor it.

Third, get a price quote. They won’t be able to give you a price quote without coming out first—at least they shouldn’t—but you can at least get a ballpark estimate so that you can shop around for prices. Don’t just choose the lowest bidder. But you can at least weed out anyone that seems particularly pricey.

Lastly, once you have chosen and called a plumber, don’t stop asking questions. Ask them what they’re doing, and why. It’s your home, be involved in the process. If they refuse to be open and honest about their process, that’s a red flag. Watch how they use their tools, and what tools they’re using. If they’re a pro, they should have the right tools for the job. If it seems like they’re really winging it because their tools aren’t quite right, that’s another red flag. Again, it’s your home. Don’t be afraid to tell someone to stop if it appears that they’re in over your head. But if they seem competent, judge their judgment. You may not like what they have to say, but if the only reason you don’t like their opinion is because it’s expensive, and they can show evidence for their opinion, then they probably know what they’re talking about.

It can be really tough to find a plumber you can trust. That’s why we always invite anyone considering hiring Gilmore Heating Air & Plumbing to check out our website and read our many blog posts, which contains a ton of handy tips that can help you avoid having to call out someone to repair your plumbing, heater, or air conditioner. Also, we invite you to check out the several hundred reviews that have been left for us on Google.

If you’re facing a challenging plumbing issue, give the experts at Gilmore a call or use our online appointment form. We’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have, and give you the best possible service. Check us out, and find out why thousands of long-time customers swear by Gilmore!