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When it comes to indoor air quality, one question typically pops into homeowners’ minds. Are my ducts clean? Almost without exception, a common HVAC system is pumping hot or cool air into the home all year round. It’s no secret – dirty ductwork can lead to dirt, dust or allergens clinging to this forced air and create big problems when it comes to the overall air quality within the home. So, how do we fix this?

 

It’s easy to jump to a quick conclusion and just decide to bring in a cleaning crew to take care of dirty ducts. While having ducts cleaned is an obvious and necessary solution, it may only be a temporary fix. Ideally, ducts are completely sealed systems. Properly sealed and functioning ducts should be enough to keep dirt, dust or worse from entering your heating and cooling system. Ducts that require regular cleaning are likely in need of repair or replacement in order to create a fully sealed system.

 

Leaks in the ducts are a very common cause of a faulty or regularly dirty system. Leaks that occur on the return side of the duct system are probable culprits of dirt and dust entering because this side of the system creates negative pressure, pulling air in. If the leak is in a dirty area of the house, such as the attic or crawl space, the result will be dirty air getting into the system.

 

Another common cause of dirty ducts, which can also be the root cause of the aforementioned leaks, is improper sealing of joints and duct connections. Expansion and contraction in these joint areas, especially in poor quality ducts, can cause leaks to form over time. Especially in older homes, many heating and cooling systems’ ductwork is out of date in terms of current code. Newer (and properly installed) systems should always be up to code and prevent leaks and air quality problems permanently.

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It’s a common question that is asked by anyone who is thinking about contracting out for home improvement work. What am I paying for when I hire a professional contractor? There are many factors that go into pricing for these services, especially those of professionally trained and licensed contractors. While prices certainly can vary and should be examined to ensure fairness, there are many details that should be taken into account when searching for a contractor.

 

Just like with tangible goods purchased at a store, services such as HVAC, plumbing or other home improvement work require a markup. While it’s easy to understand product markups from these stores (shipping costs, overhead, cost of goods, advertising, etc.), many often overlook key components to “service markups.” Especially with highly trained and expert staff, like the team at Bel Red, there are many factors that need to be covered within this “markup” cost. While costs may initially seem higher for well trained, experienced, and licensed contractors, the cost savings of doing things right can result in huge benefits.

 

The cost of service for the work Bel Red does for its clients goes a long way to help ensuring that work is done properly. We spend a great deal of time and money on education and training programs for our employees, as we want to ensure all installers, service technicians, handymen, plumbers or other service providers wearing the Bel Red uniform are as knowledgeable and professional they can possibly be. This education and training includes licensing and accreditation through some of the top home energy, heating and cooling industry organizations, including ACCA, NATE, BPI and more.

 

Aside from training, the cost of services also includes expenses such as insurance  (including liability, property, auto, workers compensation and more) and bonding—which provides peace of mind to our customers. There are also many miscellaneous costs that are associated with in-home services such as fuel and transportation costs, vehicle and equipment maintenance costs and costs to ensure compliance with government and industry regulations on multiple levels. Providing excellent service also requires a substantial support team from customer service reps to dispatchers, accounting staff and more.

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If you’re reading this post, you’re probably well aware of the many different services that Bel Red Energy Solutions offers including heating, air conditioning, home energy and plumbing services. For over 26 years customers have trusted Bel Red Energy Solutions to make their homes more comfortable, energy efficient, safe and healthy. You may, however, be a little bit less familiar with some of our other offerings, including a full range of handyman services for household repairs, maintenance and home improvement projects.

 

As is the case with all of our home energy and plumbing professionals, our professional handymen are extremely talented and experienced. Like those other services, our handyman services are guaranteed. Bel Red is licensed, bonded and insured for your protection; And our staff is SafeScreened Certified™ for your peace-of-mind.

 

Our handyman services are here to help with most any project our customers need. These services include:

  • Deck repair
  • Bathroom and kitchen repairs and upgrades
  • Lighting and fan replacement
  • Wall and ceiling repair, trim and moldings
  • Interior painting
  • Air sealing and weatherization
  • Flooring and tile installation and repair
  • Attic, garage and basement upgrades
  • Pressure washing and gutter cleaning
  • Finish carpentry
  • Furniture, outdoor grill, and play set assembly
  • Household projects and miscellaneous repairs around the home

Last week, we posted Part 1 of a two part series on common plumbing questions that arise for homeowners. In it, we addressed some common issues, from how to properly clean a disposal to maintaining plumbing fixtures properly. In this post, we’ll wrap up the series with five additional plumbing tips for homeowners to keep in mind. Here goes…

 

6. Is it ok to spend less money for a cheap product as long as it includes a warranty?

This one’s pretty simple. What you buy is what you get—even when a warranty is included. While having warranties is a great thing, they shouldn’t necessarily be the top consideration for product purchases, especially when it comes to plumbing products. Consumers should always think about the quality of the plumbing fixtures, accessories and other products before making the purchase. Sometimes spending a little more up front or having professional plumbers do the work can save a lot of headaches, time and money in the long run. Even if a cheap product is covered under warranty, that warranty will only replace it with the same or similar quality product. This could be a stressful cycle if cheap products keep failing or breaking, and does not factor in the value of your time and inconvenience.

 

7. Everything eventually goes down the drain—that means everything is working properly, right?

Not necessarily. Just because food, hair or other things make their way down a drain eventually doesn’t mean everything is in perfect working order. Out of sight, out of mind doesn’t apply in the plumbing world. Small food items, such as rice, tend to bloat and expand once they make their way down (or get caught in) drainpipes. This waste can build up over time and cause clogs or even corrosion. Remember, in order to prevent these types of drainage issues, proper precautions and preventative measure should be taken beforehand.

 

8. Are water pressure regulators always dependable?

While they can be effective, water pressure regulators aren’t always dependable and accurate. Sometimes, they can give misinformation to a homeowner, which could lead to some big problems such as floods, leaks or other problems. Measuring the pressure and adjusting by yourself can often be as effective as using a regulator. If you commonly have leaks, flooding, or notice constant draining noise from your toilet after flushing, chances are your water pressure may be too high. If it’s too low… well… you’ll notice with the lack of sufficient water.

Plumbing can be a tricky task – especially when you throw in all of the common misperceptions and “tricks” that Do-It-Yourselfers sometimes rely on. We thought it might be a good idea to post some common questions, with answers, to the wonderful world of plumbing.

 

1. How can I make my disposal smell fresh again?

It’s long been thought that a simple lemon will do the trick. However, putting a lemon down the disposal can actually do more harm than good. While this may be a temporary fix in terms of a nice fresh smell, the citric acid from the lemon (or any citrus fruit – depending on your scent preference) can cause corrosion on the metal in your disposal. A better idea is to put ice cubes down the disposal. While it will be noisy, the ice does a great job cleaning and polishing the disposal. It will remove the scum that is causing the bad odor in the first place.

 

2. Does running water really help wash down waste placed in the sink disposal?

This is something we have all done at one time or another. We place waste in the disposal and then flip on the faucet to watch it all go down. But, you may have noticed this doesn’t really work at times. The reason it’s not working? The food and waste is still traveling down the drain in front of the water. So, just like sending “dry” waste down the disposal, the buildup and block is occurring before the water arrives. This isn’t to say water won’t help in any disposal situation.  Filling the bottom of your sink with a little bit of water, adding the waste you want to send down the drain, then turning on the disposal should be effective. This gives the sitting water a chance to break up the food and let’s the two go down the disposal at the same time, making it a smooth process all around.

 

3. Are plumbing fixtures low maintenance?

While fixtures often seem sturdy and stable regardless of age, leaving them unattended to or unused can cause some big problems. The performance of these plumbing fixtures can suffer after long periods of ignored care or sitting for a long time without being used. Parts and pieces can deteriorate if you don’t turn fixtures such as faucets on every once in a while. Don’t forget about uncommonly used sinks in basements or garages and even water spigots outside. Taking a few short minutes to run these faucets can keep them running properly for years and ensure you’ll have water when you do need it from these sources.