Archive for the ‘DIY & How-To’ Category

Cold Weather Tips for You and Your Home

Posted on: January 6th, 2014 by christhompson No Comments

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.

The benefits of a universal shower

Posted on: November 13th, 2013 by admin No Comments

Universal showers, which are designed for ease of access, are often seen as a feature of homes meant for older or disabled occupants. The fact is, however, that anyone can injure themselves in the shower. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2008 there were over 234,000 injuries in the bathroom, and 81 percent of these were caused by falls. For this reason, homeowners of any age should contact a Washington DC bath remodeling contractor who can make their bathrooms, and particularly their showers and bathtubs, safer and more accessible.

Some of the additions you may want to consider include:

  • Grab Bars: These give those taking a shower or bath more leverage when trying to stand up, and they provide something to hold on to when stepping out of the shower.
  • Non-Slippery Flooring: Many bathtubs lack any kind of friction that could prevent slipping and falling. Having your bath remodeling contractor install tiles or strips to reduce the risk of slipping is a good idea. You can also purchase adhesive strips if you don't want to replace the enamel or tile that is already there.
  • Seating: While most people tend to stand when they're taking a shower, it's worth considering whether or not to install a recessed bench for those who lack stability.

John C. Flood, Inc. specializes in Maryland and Virginia bath remodeling, so if you're interested in finding out what it would take to make your bathroom safer for you and your family, give us a call today and we can provide you with an estimate.

Remodeling market index up

Posted on: October 29th, 2013 by admin No Comments

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has released its quarterly Remodeling Market Index (RMI), and the results indicate that the home renovation is continuing to improve after several years of declines due to the recession. The RMI rose two points in the third quarter to 57, which was the highest rating since 2004.

"The growth in home equity and home sales prompted home owners to remodel as they prepare to move or undertake upgrades that they put off during tough times," Bill Shaw, NAHB Remodelers Chairman and a remodeler from Houston, said in a press release. "NAHB Remodelers looks forward to continuing our tradition of professional service and craftsmanship as the housing recovery makes progress."

The RMI is conducted on a quarterly basis and surveys 2,000 home builders across the country on their perception of the home renovation market. A score higher than 50 means that more builders felt the market was improving than getting worse. The Index takes into account both current conditions, as well as expected conditions for the future.

Many homeowners put off improvement projects after the stock market crash of 2008 and subsequent economic downturn. The NAHB believes the steady improvement in index numbers is partly the result of many residents deciding to embark on those previously delayed renovations. 

If you've been holding off on calling a Virginia plumbing contractor or remodeler due to less than ideal economic conditions, you may want to consider revisiting that project now that the situation has improved. We recommend calling John C. Flood, Inc. today to discuss your idea and what options are available that can make your house a better place to live for you and your family.

Identifying septic trouble early

Posted on: August 20th, 2013 by admin No Comments

Around this time of year, when were getting ready to wind down our summers and prepare for fall, the toll that summer overuse might have had on your plumbing may be starting to show.

There are several ways to tell if you have a problem in your septic system. The first and most apparent sign is if you have sewage backing up into your house. This indicates some kind of blockage between your house and the leach field.

Another way of telling if your septic system is in trouble is if you smell sewage outside your house. If this occurs, along with damp or soggy soil, or even visible ponds, you may have a serious fault in your system that is preventing it from draining properly. You should definitely consider calling professionals before the problem gets any worse.

There are a few courses of action available to you if you believe there's a blockage in the system. Firstly, you can try Septic shock treatments, which are powerful, fast-acting and usually very affordable. However there is no guarantee, depending what your problem actually is, that shock treatment will work. You can also hire an experienced plumber to provide a maintenance regimen to repair and reverse the damage.

The third option, which may want to give thought to if your system is close to or more than thirty years old, is a total replacement. Although expensive and temporarily inconvenient, older systems will probably end up costing you more in repairs and having the replacement done now while the weather is still nice is better than the potential unpleasantness of having to deal with it in the dead of winter.

If you need an experienced plumber in Fairfax VA, call John C. Flood. Our local technicians are available to deal with all your Virginia, Washington D.C., and Maryland plumbing needs. 

        

Make sure your plumbing can keep up with the summer demand

Posted on: July 10th, 2013 by admin No Comments

If you have children, then you know that during the summer vacation, everything in your house gets a special workout. The faucets are on more, the toilet is flushed often and even the washing machine has a lot more work to do as kids will tear through clothes faster than they would've in school.

Make sure that with this added demand being placed on your plumbing that you're proactive in stopping any problems before they start. This usually just comes down to good maintenance and knowing what to check for.

With your washing machines, check your hoses for kinks, cracks and bulges. Hoses should be replaced about every three years. Don't leave home while it's running and remember to always check for leaks. Try to move it off of the wall a little so the hose doesn't bend and crease.

Toilets will clog at some point - it's nearly unavoidable. Usually you can clear these up using a simple plunger or drain snake. If these don't work, however, call a professional. To reduce the risk of a badly clogged toilet, ask your kids to use a very moderate amount of toilet paper.

If you get lots of rain this summer, you may also have to deal with sewer line backups. Excess rainwater can make its way into your sewer line through cracks and cause this problem. If you also have large trees with spreading roots you may face the possibility of an outright sewer main rupture.

If one of these situations does arise, take immediate action and call the Washington D.C., Virginia and Maryland plumbing experts, John C Flood. We have the experience and know-how to fix all your most difficult summer plumbing needs. We're local so give us a call and or technicians will be there to fix your emergency quickly and correctly. 

It’s going to get hot…is your A/C ready?

Posted on: May 28th, 2013 by christhompson No Comments

It’s going to get warm the next few days, so many of you will be putting your A/C system to the full test. Here are a few informative blog post links regarding your A/C system with helpful tips, tricks and DIYs to help keep you and your family cool.

How a ground-fault circuit interrupter works

Posted on: May 15th, 2013 by admin No Comments

Before the introduction of the ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) power outlet in the United States, nearly 800 people a year died from household electrocutions. Now that this kind of outlet is standard in most new construction, that number has dropped down to roughly 200 fatalities annually.

Basically, GFCIs de-energize a circuit when they detect a ground current to prevent a potentially deadly electrical flow from passing from the outlet through an individual holding onto the device. These outlets are extremely common in most homes and are especially useful for higher voltage appliances.

It's easy to recognize a GFCI as they are found in most buildings with up-to-date electrical layouts. When you look at a normal 120-volt outlet in the United States, there are two vertical slots and then a round hole centered below them. The left slot, which is slightly larger, is "neutral," the right slot is called "hot" and the hole is called "ground." All of the electricity goes back and forth between the hot and neutral prong, while the ground acts to regulate flow. 

If there is ever an imbalance in the flow, the round ground prong will detect it and trip the circuit in a fraction of a second – hopefully enough time to prevent electrocution.

Your home or business should at the very least have GFCI outlets on the walls as a safety precaution. If your house's electrical wiring isn't up to date, contact an experienced Washington, DC electrician like the kind found at John C. Flood to have the space upgraded as soon as possible.

Toot our own horn here at John C. Flood

Posted on: April 30th, 2013 by christhompson No Comments

With more and more people having access to the Internet through either their PC and/or their Smartphone’s it’s becoming easier for consumers to provide useful feedback via online review sites.

Now as you can imagine this is a double-edged sword for most companies, in particular service companies.  It’s inevitable you will receive both positive and negative reviews posted for everyone to research and view online.

Now like most of you, I am a consumer who often uses the internet to research potential vendors and reviews posted by customers to determine if you want to hire the company.

It’s with this in mind that we would like to toot our own horn a little, now that’s not to say we didn’t receive some poor reviews during the past 12 months, but overall we are kicking butt!

From April 30, 2012 through April 29, 2013

  • Number of jobs completed – 19,810
  • Number of negative reviews – 4*
  • B Rating from Angieslist
  • A- Rating from the Better Business Bureau

* Data pulled from Insiderpages, Yelp, AngiesList and Better Business Bureau for 12 month time period for John C. Flood of VA.

Again there are two John C. Flood’s so keep that in mind. We are not the John C. Flood of DC based in Washington, DC. We are based in Alexandria, VA as well as Brentwood, MD.

John C. Flood – Animated Short

Posted on: April 5th, 2013 by christhompson No Comments

How to stop foul odors from exiting the drain in your bathtub

Posted on: March 12th, 2013 by admin No Comments

One amenity that is popular in most households is a bathtub. When shoppers are perusing potential properties for purchase, the bathroom is often a major selling point, as buyers can imagine themselves lounging in a large hot tub or Jacuzzi after a long day of work. However, many homeowners find they they rarely actually use this feature once they have lived in a space long enough. This is most common in private bathrooms with a separate tub that isn't used for daily cleansing like a stand-alone shower is.

Over time, homeowners may start to notice a foul odor in these bathrooms that is originating from their tub's drain. Often, this is because the drain trap has dried out, which means there is no water in the pipe to act as a barrier against the smells that either rise up from the sewers or the waste areas attached to your home's plumbing system. These traps are shaped in a way that allows water to pool up in a joint  so that the liquid at the bottom of the curve will act as a seal. If the drain is rarely used, this water will evaporate, allowing that nasty air to seep up into your bathroom.

Simply run your tub for a little while to fill the pipe. If the fluid quickly drains, you should be all set and the trap should have established a water barrier. However, you may notice that the water in your tub isn't draining, which will be indicative of a clog somewhere in the drain. While you may be able to purchase a drain cleanser, your best bet is to hire a professional Maryland plumber like John C. Flood to investigate the issue. 

As spring approaches, tidy up your house by clearing out the basement

Posted on: February 27th, 2013 by admin No Comments

Thankfully, winter is finally about to come to a close. It's been a long one for many in the Mid Atlantic, as freak snow storms and a slew of damaging tropical depressions – not to mention Hurricane Sandy – left thousands of residents with major property damage. While conditions may have been less than ideal during the colder months to undertake extensive home repairs, the time has finally come to start your spring cleaning projects. The first place to begin tidying up should be your basement, as this space is likely to have taken quite the beating over the past few months, especially if you live in an area prone to flooding.

Many people load up their basements with a bevy of items during the winter months that would normally have a home outside when the weather is more pleasant. From lawn furniture to gardening gear, these items spend the winter in dark, moist basements, sometimes hiding secret messes that worsen over several months.

Begin by emptying your basement completely so that there aren't any hidden puddles or mold spores. Wearing an air mask, do your best to dry your basement out using a dehumidifier and plenty of towels if necessary. 

Since March and April are historically wet months, look into Alexandria sump pump repair before any additional flooding comes about. John C. Flood has more than 100 years of experience serving Virginia residents and helping keep basements dry.

If you don't have a sump pump in your basement, investing in one now will save you a lot of money down the road, preventing major property damage when basements get wet.

How to locate your home’s main water shutoff valve

Posted on: February 15th, 2013 by admin No Comments

When you move into a new home, one of the very first things you’ll want to do is locate the main water shutoff valve. This is the primary connection between the water that travels from your town’s supply to  your home’s plumbing system. If there is ever an emergency, like a burst pipe that is flooding your property and causing thousands of dollars in damage, you’ll need to access this valve immediately so that no new water can enter your home.

In a lot of cases, the water travels through three different city-installed valves before passing through your main shutoff valve. This is most often located in the basement or the outside wall of many houses.

These valves always have a handle on them that you simply have to turn clockwise to cut the flow of water. If the pipes leading into your house are metal, usually copper, then you probably have a gate valve. This design essentially brings a wall down when the handle is turned that keeps the water at bay. A big problem with this is that if the handle doesn’t get turned over a long period of time, it may get stuck and be difficult to turn when you need it to. It’s best to test this valve immediately if you haven’t in a long time to make sure that it’s still working when you need it most. 

If there are plastic pipes leading into your house, you’re likely to have a ball valve at the shutoff point. These kinds of valves require you to turn the handle clockwise a quarter of the way to seal off water.

Should you discover that your valve isn’t effectively turning off the flow of water into your house, contact at Maryland plumbing service like John C. Flood to come inspect potential flaws in your home’s plumbing.

The Tale of The Two John C. Flood’s

Posted on: February 7th, 2013 by christhompson No Comments

We have mentioned previously in articles the fact there are two John C. Floods operating within the Northern Virginia and Metro DC areas performing the same services.

We were once the same company, but separated many years ago and operate as completely separate entities with one major difference – customer service.

Our approach to customer service has been, and always will be, very important to us. It can be confusing for customers to have two companies with the same name performing the same service that are not affiliated with one another. We often get calls from angry or dissatisfied customers that we learn were not customers of ours, but rather unhappy customers of the other John C. Flood of DC. We often are able to go in and correct the issue and they become a customer of ours moving forward.

We perform over 20,000 jobs a year so it’s inevitable some customers will not be happy. We work very hard to correct any issues so the customer is satisfied in the end.

We just wanted to make sure folks know the story, for those who didn’t know already. Also we carry a Better Business Bureau® rating of A- where as the other John C. Flood based in Washington, DC has a rating of F. So as you can see there’s a big difference.

Thanks again to all our long-time customers, new customers and soon to be customers. We very much appreciate providing you with excellent service.

EPA Summer Cooling Tips

Posted on: August 7th, 2012 by christhompson No Comments

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.