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Cold Weather Tips for You and Your Home

January 6, 2014

With the temperatures in the Metro Washington, DC and Northern Virginia areas expected to drop to the single digits this evening and in the teens all day tomorrow many homes will be susceptible to issues in their homes due to the extreme cold weather. Here are some home heating and plumbing tips to follow to help us all get through this extreme cold front.

Cold Home Plumbing Tips:

  • Keep the house heated to a minimum of 65 degrees. The temperature inside the walls where the pipes are located is substantially colder than the walls themselves. A temperature lower than 65 degrees will not keep the inside walls from freezing.
  • Identify the location for the main water shutoff in your home. Find out how it works in case you have to use it.
  • Open hot and cold faucets enough to let them drip slowly. Keeping water moving within the pipes will prevent freezing.
  • If you haven’t already, make sure all hoses are disconnected from outside spigots.
  • If you discover that pipes are frozen, don’t wait for them to burst. Take measures to safely thaw them immediately, or call a plumber for assistance.
  • If your pipes burst, first turn off the water and then mop up spills. You don’t want the water to do more damage than it already has.
  • Make temporary repairs and take other steps to protect your property from further damage. Remove any carpet or furniture that can be further damaged from seepage.

Cold Home Heating Tips:

  • Below 35F degrees it is normal to see some frost on an outdoor HP unit.
  • Frost is keyword though. Heavy amounts of ice is different.
  • We DO NOT recommend trying to de-ice with mechanical tools.
  • De-ice with hot water (not very effective when it’s cold though).
  • De-ice naturally. Shut HP unit OFF, and go into EM HEAT at thermostat.
  • We recommend using EM HEAT temporarily (aka: Emergency Heat), or until weather temperatures are back above 40F.
  • Dirty Filters, dirty coils, low refrigerant (Puron or Freon), bad fan motors; can all be causes for HP’s not to work properly.
  • When snowing and/or freezing rain it is highly likely a HP unit will freeze. Definitely recommend EM Heat in those situations.

Following these tips can keep you and your family comfortable and safe during this artic blast of cold air on its way as well as save you on potentially expensive repairs and service.

EPA Summer Cooling Tips

August 7, 2012

The EPA pulled together 7 tips to help keep you cool and your costs down during the summer months.

1. If you don’t have a programmable thermostat, buy one. The savings tally to nearly $200.00 a year. This way, when you are out of the house, on vacation or sleeping, you can set your ‘stat to “Save.” (We are offering two different digital thermostat specials currently. See our specials page now.)

2. Search your house for leaky ducts. The majority of homes lose about 20% of their cooling energy through leaky ducts.

3. Seal off any ducts to unconditioned areas, and insulate rooms like the garage, attic or cellar. (Families with larger homes and empty nesters consider not cooling the wing of the house no one ever goes into.)

4. It may be time for an AC upgrade. Get a qualified professional to inspect your system. Look for models that have the EPA’s Energy Star. (We are offering $300 off a complete Air Conditioning installation now. Call us for details.)

5. Replace those old-fashioned, roundy light bulbs. The Energy Star fluorescent light bulbs use two-thirds less energy and generates less heat than those dinosaur incandescent bulbs.

6. Turn off all appliances and lights when not in use. Coffee makers and toaster ovens don’t need to be plugged in all day.

7. Make sure your fan is spinning clockwise. This will create a wind-chill effect. Turn your ceiling fan off when you exit the room. Fans cool people not rooms.

Bonus:  This summer, wear skimpier clothing, keep yourself hydrated, take cooler showers and plant shade trees around your house.

Heat Stroke – Real Danger for the Elderly

July 19, 2012

The risk of heat-related illnesses, such as heat stroke and heat exhaustion, increases with age, experts at the U.S. National Institute on Aging warn.

As people get older they are less able to adapt to high temperatures, like those engulfing much of the Metro DC area now. As a result, the heat might exacerbate any medical conditions they have.

In addition, older folks may develop certain health problems that could increase their risk of hyperthermia (when the body overheats).

An elderly person’s environment can also influence their response to the heat. For instance, not having access to air conditioning or transportation, or overdressing could put them at greater risk for heat-related illnesses involving hyperthermia, including heat fatigue; heat syncope (lightheadedness or fainting in the heat); heat cramps; and heat exhaustion (milder form of heat-related illness).

What are the signs and differences between Heat Stroke and Heat Exhaustion?
Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness. It occurs when the body becomes unable
to control its temperature: the body’s temperature rises rapidly, the body loses its ability to sweat, and it is unable to cool down. Body temperatures rise to 106 ° F or higher within 10 to 15 minutes. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided.

Signs and Symptoms of Heat Stroke
Warning signs vary but may include the following:

• An extremely high body temperature (above 103°F)
• Red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating)
• Rapid, strong pulse
• Throbbing headache
• Dizziness
• Nausea

Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heat-related illness that can develop after several days of exposure to high temperatures and inadequate or unbalanced replacement of fluids.

Signs and Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion
Warning signs vary but may include the following:

• Heavy sweating
• Paleness
• Muscle Cramps
• Tiredness
• Weakness
• Dizziness
• Headache
• Nausea or vomiting
• Fainting
• Skin: may be cool and moist
• Pulse rate: fast and weak
• Breathing: fast and shallow

You can follow these prevention tips to protect yourself from heat-related stress:
• Drink cool, nonalcoholic, non-caffeinated beverages. (If your doctor generally limits the amount of fluid you drink or has you on water pills, ask him how much you should drink when the weather is hot. Also, avoid extremely cold liquids because they can cause cramps.)

• Rest.
• Take a cool shower, bath, or sponge bath.
• If possible, seek an air-conditioned environment.
• If you don’t have air conditioning, consider visiting an air-conditioned shopping mall or
public library to cool off.
• Keep warm areas ventilation if not cooled. Proper ventilation will promote adequate sweat
evaporation to cool the skin.
• Wear lightweight clothing.
• If possible, remain indoors in the heat of the day.
• Do not engage in strenuous activities.
• Sunblocks and sunscreens with a protection factor of 15 (SPF 15) can be very helpful when one is exposed to extreme direct sunlight.

What You Can Do to Help Protect Elderly Relatives and Neighbors
If you have elderly relatives or neighbors, you can help them protect themselves from heat-related stress:

• Visit older adults at risk at least twice a day and watch them for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
• Take them to air-conditioned locations if they have transportation problems.
• Make sure older adults have access to an electric fan whenever possible.

What is a MERV rating and what does it mean?

June 20, 2012

What is a HVAC MERV rating and what does it mean?

Minimum efficiency reporting value, commonly known as MERV rating is a measurement scale designed in 1987 by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) to rate the effectiveness of air filters. The scale “represents a quantum leap in the precision and accuracy of air-cleaner ratings” and allows for improved health, reduced cost and energy efficiency in heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) design. For example, a HEPA filter is often impractical in central HVAC systems due to the large pressure drop the dense filter material causes. Experiments indicate that less obstructive, medium-efficiency filters of MERV 7 to 13 are almost as effective as true HEPA filters at removing allergens, with much lower associated system and operating costs.

Something to consider, the higher the MERV rating the more particle matter that will be captured, but your HVAC system will have limited and more restricted air-flow meaning you will need to change out the filter more often.

Leaving a dirty air filter in place or using a filter that is too restrictive may result in low air flow and possibly cause the system to malfunction.

The MERV rating scale PDF below is designed to represent the worst case performance of a filter when dealing with particles in the range of 0.3 to 10 micrometres. The MERV rating is from 1 to 20. Higher MERV ratings correspond to a greater percentage of particles captured on each pass, with a MERV 20 filter capturing more than 99.99% of particles over the full range.

Click Here to view a MERV Rating Chart

Why you need to change your HVAC filter often and install it correctly.

May 23, 2012

Importance of changing your HVAC Filter

HVAC filter

Why should I change my HVAC Filter?

Here is a perfect example of a homeowner not replacing their HVAC filter often enough and installing the filter incorrectly. As you can see this filter is almost entirely clogged with dust which makes your system run less efficiently and much harder. 70% of equipment damage is due to lack of maintenance and dirty HVAC filters. During peak heating and cooling months your system is running more often and therefore you need to change your filter more often. If you have an active home with children and pets we recommend changing your 1 and 2 inch filters monthly. If you have a less active home you can get away with changing your filter every other month as needed (regular visual inspections are a good idea).

HVAC filter

You can see in the image to the left this filter was installed incorrectly so the pressure from the air flow pulled the filter inwards.

Visit us at the Kingstowne Home Expo – Meet former Redskin LaVar Arrington

May 16, 2012

We will have a booth (#46) at the Kingstowne Home Expo this Saturday, May 19th from 10 AM – 3 PM at the Synder Center, 6450 South Van Dorn St., Kingstowne, VA 22315. Come out to the expo and when you are there be sure to stop by booth #46 – we will have lots of free goodies (while they last) and meet Former Washington Redskin LaVar Arrington from 12-2.
Kingstowne Home Expo

Is the person at your door really a service technician?

March 29, 2012

John C. FloodIn lieu of recent events where someone was impersonating a service technician to gain access to a home and committing crimes we thought we should pass along some tips to help. There are some tips which can help reduce the risks of becoming a victim from criminals pretending to be service technician such as cable, plumbers, electricians, etc.

Here are some tips you can use when someone is at your door identifying themselves as a service technician and you are unsure:

  • Ask what company they are from and let them know you are calling to confirm the appointment and the identification of the technician they sent before you let them into your home.
  • If you are a minor and home alone you do not have to open the door if you are unsure or feel threatened. Just tell them to come back another time. If they don’t leave tell them you are calling the police.
  • Ask to see their work identification credentials and/or their ID badge

John C. Flood’s Email ID Dispatch Program – For Your Safety

In this day and age it’s all too often we hear stories in the news about how burglars and criminals gain access to a home pretending to be someone they are not…often a service technician. It’s because of this we are pleased to announce a new Email dispatch Program. It’s called Email ID Dispatch and this service was created solely for peace of mind for our customers, so when a technician arrives at your home on behalf of John C. Flood – you can feel comfortable in knowing the representative is indeed from John C. Flood.

How this works – we will send out an email once the assigned John C. Flood employee is dispatched to your home that includes a confirmation of your appointment, the scheduled time and date along with a photo of the employee. This will allow you to feel comfortable once our representative arrives at your home that you will know in advance who they are so you can verify their identity.
All we will need from you is a valid email address to send this ID Dispatch notification.

We all need to do our part to keep our families, our homes and our community’s safe and that’s something we take seriously here at John C. Flood.

When we say “We do it all” we mean it…especially when it comes to the safety and security of your home and family.

John C. Flood

Spring 2012 is tomorrow

March 19, 2012

Well, I am going to go ahead and say that Punxsutawney Phil may have thrown the wrong prediction on February 2, 2012 when he saw his shadow noting 6 more weeks of winter. The last few weeks have been anything but winter-like weather and with Spring officially starting tomorrow, March 20th that means it’s time to get your AC inspected.

It’s a much better idea to get your HVAC system inspected well before the summer season kicks in. If you wait too long to get your annual inspection you will indeed wait longer due to high demand for AC repairs and servicing. If you have an annual service maintenance contract with us we can get to you whenever you are ready, so call us anytime. If you don’t have an annual service maintenance contract with us – what are you waiting for? Priority scheduling, discounts on parts and labor and depending on your plan no diagnostic fees.

Don’t like waiting in lines? Neither do we…we love VIP treatment just like everybody else.

March 14, 2012

Well at John C. Flood we offer annual maintenance service contracts. We call them Energy Management Plans or EMP’s for short. If you don’t like waiting in lines, or having to wait longer than you need to get something done we hear you. Buy one of our annual maintenance service contracts and jump ahead of those without one when scheduling your emergency repairs or servicing for heating, AC, Plumbing or electrical.

Summer is creeping up fast so imagine its Saturday morning and the weather forecast calls for blistering heat for the next few days. You will surely have your system cranked up to keep you and your family comfortable. Well, surprise, surprise you aren’t the only one cranking up their systems and if your system craps out right at the beginning of a heat streak…and on a weekend…be prepared for some serious wait times.

Well, that’s only if you don’t have one of our annual maintenance service contracts. If you do, you will get priority scheduling ahead of all those without…cutting your wait time considerably! You will be a hero for getting you and your family cool again.

Now these plans don’t just cover AC, depending on your plan, they also cover heating, Electrical and plumbing nightmares too! And depending on your plan you won’t pay a diagnostic fee for us coming out either.

Trust me; these plans pay for themselves many times over…even if just for that one instance, on that one blistering hot weekend.
Call us now, before it’s too late and we will explain the plans available and pricing.

Steam Heating Service Checklist

February 15, 2012

Many homeowners still utilize steam radiator heating in their homes, which have their own set of items that need to be checked. Here’s a short list of items you as a homeowner can check on your own to ensure your steam heating system works as efficiently as possible.

• Maintain records.
• Check all flue pipes and vents for leaks, rust and loose connections.
• Check the system for any noticeable and visible leaks
• Check the steam gauge. You should have, if you haven’t already, get your contractor to mark the normal range.
• Check the water level every month. The normal range should be marked on a sight glass.
• Make sure the radiators slope slightly toward the steam inlet pipe. This will help keep the pipe from knocking or pounding.
• Make sure the vents on the radiators are operating; otherwise, radiators may be cold.

Note: Turn off power to the unit before inspection or maintenance.
If you experience any issues or problems that you cannot correct or repair on your own call a qualified contractor to come out and service your steam heating system.