How to Clean a P-Trap

Small clogs are the universal leveler. No matter how big or small the home, no matter how many people are in the home, every homeowner must deal with a clogged drain at some point or another. While big clogs should be left to the professionals, smaller ones can be handled at home. Here is our surefire way to clean a P-trap.

What is a P-Trap?

A P-trap is a bend in a plumbing pipe that acts as an air filter for your plumbing system. Any basin that collects water—a sink, toilet, shower, or bathtub—has a P-trap underneath it.

This pipe is in a u-shape and the dip at the bottom of the U creates a gravity barrier and stops noxious, and sometimes dangerous, gasses from passing through.

A gravity barrier, sometimes called a “plumbing trap,” is shaped like a P or U. The sharp drop in the pipe stops any gasses from getting through. A small caveat to this is that the pipe needs to have a small amount of standing water in it.

When someone complains of a bad smell coming from a sink that’s not used too often, chances are it’s because the P-trap dried up.

However, because so much waste goes through the P-trap, things can get stuck. This usually means there is some buildup in the bottom of the trap that’s not allowing for anything to pass through.

Step by Step Instructions: How to Clean a P-Trap

Materials Needed:

  • Bucket – To catch any water, loose materials, or drain debris
  • Wire Brush – To scrub out the pipes
  • Pliers or Adjustable Wrench – To remove the P-trap

Step 1: Turn off the Water Faucet

The first step of this process is to make sure the water faucet is turned off. Despite this step, it’s important to keep in mind that water will be present in the p-trap and this process will be somewhat wet.

This pipe always holds a small amount of water in it, so no matter how long you have the water shut off for, there will be something to drain in the pipe.

After you turn off the water faucet, make sure to put a bucket under the pipe. This will catch any loose water and debris in the trap.

Step 2: Remove the P-Trap

For this next step, you may need either pliers or a wrench. Start by unfastening the nuts that hold the piece of pipe in place.

In most cases, you can dislodge the nuts with your hands. Sometimes, they’re on a little tight and this is when you would use the pliers or wrench.

Keep in mind that water will start to fall out as you loosen the nuts. Make sure all the debris is aligned with the bucket.

When you get the trap loose, dump all excess water into the bucket and move on to step 3.

Step 3: Clean the P-Trap

Cleaning the P-trap is a pretty easy task. All you need is a flexible wire brush; similar to the one used for bottles.

Wet the wire brush and push it through the pipe until there is no more debris in the pipe or sticking to the brush. This should be enough to clean out the entire pipe.

You’ll still want to conduct a visual inspection of the P-trap to make sure everything is clean and clear.

Step 4: Put Everything Back Together

After everything is cleaned out, simply put the P-trap back on the way it came off. Make sure the long side of the pipe faces the sink drain.

Use your hands to screw the nuts back into place. Remember to pull out the pliers or wrench again if it needs some extra force to get back into place.

Don’t remove the bucket just yet. You need to make sure everything is working properly.

Test the P-trap by running water in the sink for 15 seconds. Does the water drain without leaking? Great, you can remove the bucket and clean up the area.

Does the pipe leak? You need to either tighten the nuts a little more or use Teflon tape to create a seal between the pipe and nuts.

How Often Should I Clean my P-Trap?

At Service Champions, we recommend cleaning your P-trap four times per year. Or, once every three months.

Additionally, it’s advised to clean your sink and drain every few months as well. A little bit of prevention can help keep the plumber away.

Need something more than a small P-trap cleaning? The plumbing experts at Service Champions can help.

DIY HVAC Projects You Should Never Try at Home

Being handy at home is something nearly all homeowners enjoy. However, it’s important to know when to call in the pros. It’s not pretty when our techs are called in to fix attempted DIY HVAC projects.

While there may be a ton of YouTube videos telling you exactly what to do, that will never compare to the level of experience, professional knowhow, and specialized tools a certified HVAC technician will have.

For effective AC repair and service, you need to call in a professional.

Reasons You Shouldn’t Try to DIY HVAC Repairs

Carbon Monoxide

The biggest reason the average homeowner shouldn’t try any DIY HVAC projects is because working with heating and cooling systems can be incredibly dangerous because of the potential for carbon monoxide exposure.

Any sort of badly repaired line or gas leak can cause carbon monoxide to fill your home. This could put you, and your family, at extreme risk.

Electrical Danger

Another thing that can cause gratuitous bodily harm is high voltage electricity – just like the electric work used in your HVAC system.

HVAC systems have electrical wiring that should only be handled by a professional who’s had extensive training. The last thing we want is a client hurting themselves over a tune-up or small fix.

Issues with Insurance and Warranties

Most home insurance policies and company warranties will not cover any DIY HVAC work. A badly done DIY job can void your system warranty.

Most of these polices have language saying repairs must be done by a trained and licensed professional. Doing the fixes yourself can cost money in the long run and even make it hard for your to find new homeowners insurance.

DIY HVAC Repairs that Usually Go Wrong

Changing the Thermostat

Changing the thermostat sounds easy enough, right? Unfortuantely, that answer is wrong. Especially when it comes to a smart thermostat.

We’ve seen a lot of customers purchase a smart thermostat, try to install it and realize it just doesn’t work. An easy answer for this is that their HVAC equipment might be too old and can’t properly communicate with the advanced thermostat.

Another issue we see is electric. Thermostats need to be wired correctly or they won’t work. When a professional HVAC tech comes to your home to install a thermostat, they also make sure the wiring isn’t damaged or frayed. Then the easy part if just programming your new thermostat.

Blocking Room Vents

For some reason people think that by closing the vents to a room they don’t use will help save energy and lower their bills.

This “quick fix” can actually end up costing you a lot in the long run. A closed vent means the HVAC system is still producing enough air to cool your home, but now that air has nowhere to go.

In turn, this extra air just creates more pressure in your system which can raise your utility bills and even put a hole in your ductwork.

Cleaning the Outdoor Condenser

Even though your condenser looks like a big, tough piece of machinery, the coil inside is actually quite delicate.

We’ve seen homeowners think that they can just spray down the outside of the unit to get it nice and clean. Instead, when you spray a hose at it from the outside, you run the risk of twisting and bending the coils. Essentially rendering them useless.

What you Can Do

Clean Around the Condenser

Your condenser is the only part of your HVAC system that’s exposed to the elements all year long. While you don’t need to put a cover over your unit when it’s not in use. Cleaning around it is great.

At Service Champions, our technicians are constantly cleaning leaves, dirt, and other garden debris out of condensers. For a DIY HVAC project, we recommend regularly cleaning around your condenser to prevent any foreign objects from getting in.

Change the Air Filter

Changing the air filter in your HVAC system is easier than most would think. The hardest part is accessing an attic unit.

Our Service Champions techs recommend changing the air filter at least twice every year. Once in the spring before furnace season, and once in the fall before AC season.

We also recommend checking your air filter periodically if you live in a home with lots of shedding pets, live close to a construction site, and after fire season.

Battery Checks

Things like thermostats and carbon monoxide detectors are amazing safety tools and should be treated as such. One of the best things you can do for these tools is to check their batteries once every few months.

A thermostat is only good if it continues to work. The same can be said for a carbon monoxide detector.

Why the Air Conditioner May Give You a Sore Throat

Heating and air conditioning are such a part of everyday life that we usually don’t give them a second thought—until something goes wrong, or we experience discomfort of any kind. If you’re feeling a little choked up, there are three main reasons why an air conditioner can give you a sore throat.

Dry air, dirty air, allergies, and sore throats happen, and when they do, sometimes the first suspect is the air conditioning. While this isn’t true for everyone, there are times when a sore throat or other body reactions can be triggered by the air conditioner.

Improper Installation

A general reason why air conditioning may be to blame for a sore throat, or any type of discomfort, is improper installation. Faulty technical work, negligence, or accidents result not only in poor air conditioning but create areas that can foster lower sanitation and overall health.

When an air conditioner is installed in a bad location, it can degrade faster. This damage can be attributed to an excessive amount of UV rays, low amount of insulation, or improper air circulation.

A professional HVAC technician and installer makes sure the system is in a place that receives proper air flow.

Leaky Ductwork

Over time and with use, small leaks and punctures can appear in your ductwork. Ductwork is responsible for transporting air to the HVAC system, then distributing temperature-treated air to the home. These small leaks can lead to contaminates, such as dust and allergens, getting into your HVAC System.

Leaks and punctures within the central air system, duct work, and filter allow for dirt, dust and other irritants to contaminate the internal anatomy of the furnace and air conditioner as well as the indoor air supply. The dirt continues to build up over time, hurting the system efficiency and degrading air quality.

Lack of AC Maintenance

The air supply inside of the home is recycled again and again with each air conditioning cycle, traveling through the central air system and throughout the house. Homeowners who tend to skip out on AC maintenance can forfeit the benefits that come with a regular tune-up.

One of the biggest contributors to an AC induced sore throat is a dirty air filter. Air filters serve two important roles. First, they keep dust from clogging important components of your HVAC system. And second, they trap indoor air pollutants.

Air filters that are too full or haven’t been changed force your HVAC system to work harder to push air through the clogged filter. Additionally, your indoor air will stay polluted because the filter can’t pull dust, dander, allergens, and other contaminates from your air.

For those particularly sensitive to indoor air quality, several air-cleaning systems are available with the help of your HVAC contractor.

Closed Vent Control

Closed vents prohibit the interaction between indoor and outdoor air. This seals the house from the outside and the same air cycles around the home. Air that has been trapped indoors for prolonged periods of time grow stagnant, breed bacteria and collect dust.

Try opening the vents of the central air system to allow the exchange of outdoor air with indoor air. This allows for a new supply of healthier air for central air conditioning.

It’s also a good idea to open your windows from time to time and let fresh air in. This will help with keeping your air from getting stale.

What You Can do to Combat an AC Induced Sore Throat

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do when the air conditioner starts to give you a sore throat. Our tried and true methods for combating this are:

  • Schedule Regular Tune-Ups: The best thing you can do for your home and HVAC system is to schedule two tune-ups per year. Once in the spring before you start using the AC and once in the fall before it’s time to turn on the furnace.

    During a tune-up, our techs will clean everything in your system, making sure there is no buildup of dust or other debris.

  • Routinely Check the Air Filter: The air filter is responsible for trapping indoor air contaminates. When it’s too full, you could be breathing dirty air.
  • Keep Yourself Hydrated: Central air conditioners can dry out your air. Make sure you’re staying hydrated any time you’re home.
  • Frequently Dust and Vacuum: Some homes have more dust than others. A great way to keep that dust at bay is to routinely dust and vacuum your home.

When the Air Conditioner Isn’t to Blame

If your HVAC contractor cannot find any faults within the central air system, you can adjust some personal habits to help alleviate pain and discomfort.

Consider adding a humidifier to restore moisture in the air supply. When the central air system runs for great lengths of time, water is zapped out of the air. Your HVAC contractor can help you find the right humidifier for your home and lifestyle needs.

Always remember to keep hydrated to help wash out irritants breathed in.

Four Common Misunderstandings About How Your AC Works and How to Use It

Common Misunderstandings About How Your AC Works

At A-Avis, our techs help so many homeowners they have a trained eye for detecting problems common to Southern California air conditioning systems.

Far too often we see problems left unattended for so long they pose a greater threat later down the line. This compromises the system’s performance altogether or even the health of people living in the home.

We believe in empowering clients to make the right choices for their home and central air system. Because of this we’re sharing common misunderstandings about how your AC works.

Problem #1: Homeowners let the heat load get too high

It’s a common habit in Southern California to close the windows and doors for more than three to four hours at a time during peak heat periods. However, this results in no home ventilation.

While homeowners are out, the indoor home temperature can rise considerably. For example, it can be 95° outside and by the time you arrive home the indoor temperature has risen to 88°.

This is an uncomfortable temperature for most families. Turning on the air conditioner is the logical solution, most people set it in between 73° and 75°. Unfortunately, even if the air conditioning never turns off, it may take hours to lower indoor room temperature (as a whole) from 88° to 75°.

When the home gets too hot and the AC must work overtime, the system:

When the home gets too hot and the AC has to work overtime, it:

  • Stresses out the air conditioning system, adding strainItemized Image of a Central Air Conditioning System
  • Expends extra energy
  • Costs more to cool the home now and maintain later

Solution:

When you know you’ll be out of the house during peak heat hours, leave the air conditioner on to a reasonable temperature (78° to 80°). This allows your AC to run at a sustainable level so that you can adjust the thermostat to a comfortable 75 without stressing out your air conditioner.

Another solution would be to invest in a smart thermostat. This way you can control the temperature from your phone. Leaving the house? Set a higher temperature! On your way home from the store? Lower your temperature from your phone so you’re walking in to a nice, cool home.

Problem #2: A lower number on the thermostat does not mean cooler air

Central air systems work by cooling air 15° to 20° at a time. For example, if the indoor air temperature is 80°, the AC system takes that supply of air and subtracts 15° to 20° of heat before releasing it back into the home air supply. Because it mixes with the other 80° air that has not been conditioned yet, the air is somewhat cooler, but not necessarily the temperature that was set on your thermostat. It takes time for the indoor air to reach temperature equilibrium.


However, if you believe the mixing of temperature treated air and the indoor air supply is not the reason for poorly conditioned air there, may be a greater issue. Though air is still conditioned, it is less efficient, forcing the system to work twice as hard to cool the same amount of air.

Solution:

If your air is not cooling air in 15° to 20° increments, a maintenance call is required to restore proper function and efficiency levels.

Problem #3: Homeowners ignore filter maintenance

A regularly scheduled maintenance call usually eliminates issues with poor or dirty air filtration. From stuffed filters to debris buildup over the evaporator coils, keeping your central air system clean benefits the system itself and the cleanliness of the air inside of your home.

How Often Should I Change my HEPA Filter

When air filters are not cleaned or replaced it adds excess strain to the AC. This happens because less air gets through the filter and less air is conditioned. This can also cause the evaporator coils to ice up while the system overheats.

Refrigerant, an essential part of the cooling process, flows through the evaporator coil. This coil is made of hollow tubes that are cooled by the refrigerant. This colder temperature triggers the heat transfer process. Meaning any heat from the indoor air is transferred to the evaporator coil and refrigerant.

Something as simple as a dirty filter can stop this process because less room temperature air passes over the coils which in turn ice up.

Likewise, poor air flow due to dirty filters can result in the system overheating and shutting down. This is because a central air system needs a heat source to function, and restricted air flow means the same amount of energy is used for less and less air.

Dirty or overfull air filters are the number one reason a system shuts down.

Solution:

Have your preferred HVAC technician visit to service your AC system. Be sure to replace filters and have the evaporator coils and drip pans cleaned. These areas collect water and are prone to microbiological growth.

Problem #4: The AC system is not an open system

Most homeowners tend to think their air conditioning system is an open system. This is not the case. Contrary to popular belief, there is no need to refill your refrigerant supply.

In a perfect world, a properly installed system would incur no damage and would never need to be refilled. The idea being that refrigerant is recycled with every use.

Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world and refrigerant leaks happen.

Refrigerant is a harmful substance and should only be handled by an HVAC professional. It can also damage the ozone layer.

Because of these two issues, it’s important you call someone immediately if you suspect a refrigerant leak.

When there is a leak in your refrigerant supply, the system is less efficient because it does not have enough cooling power to work with. If your AC system previously cooled indoor air in 20° increments, it now may be cooling in 10° increments; the air conditioner works harder to treat the same amount of air.

Solution:

Have your preferred HVAC technician repair the leak, refill refrigerant and recalibrate.

Warning Signs of a Slab Leak

If you’ve never heard the term slab leak, buckle up, it’s about to get rough. These leaks are one of the most challenging plumbing issues a homeowner can face. However, this plumbing problem only affects homes build on concrete slabs. For those not in the know, we’re explaining everything, including the warning signs of a slab leak.

What is a Slab Leak?

Slab leaks are something that only happens when your home is built on a concrete slab. They happen when a there is a leak in the water line that runs under your home’s concrete foundation.

A slab leak typically happens when a pipe under the concrete foundation is corroded or has a hole in it. Over time, these types of leaks allow water to inundate your home’s foundation. Water damage can also spread to the soil around it, creating a huge amount of damage.

When left untreated, slab leaks can do major damage to the foundation of your home. Eventually, the foundation can crack and move, causing your floors and walls to crack. In extreme causes, slab leaks have cause entire parts of a home to collapse.

How Common is it to Have a Slab Leak?

Slab leaks occur in concrete foundations.

Unfortuantely, California homeowners need to be on the lookout for slab leaks. Earthquakes can easily break pipes and concrete, both of which lead to leaks.

Older and historic homes also need to be on the look out for these types of leaks. With enough time and use, the commonly used copper pipes can corrode, which will lead to a number of plumbing issues. Slab leaks being one of them.

Five Warning Signs of a Slab Leak

Here are some of the tell tale signs you’re dealing with a slab leak.

Your Floor feels Warm

When the hot water line bursts, many homeowners can feel it through their floor. When the hot water is running, many homeowners can feel warm spots on the floor.

It’s easier to feel warm water spots on floors with carpet or thin linoleum. Tile and hardwood floors make it harder to feel these spots.

No matter what material your floors are, warm spots are something that should be investigated as soon as possible by a professional.

Water Bills are Shooting Up

Slab leaks can make your water bills go up.

When there’s a slab leak water is running 24/7. This will make a noticeable difference in your water bill.

One of the best ways to monitor your plumbing system in general is to keep an eye on your water bills. A sudden increase can indicate a number of plumbing issues.

In addition to slab leaks, a high water bill could indicate:

  • Leaks throughout your plumbing system
  • A fixture in your home (i.e. the toilet) is leaking
  • There’s a faucet that won’t stop dripping
  • There’s a leak in your sprinkler system

Water Pressure is Lower than Normal

Slab leaks can cause low water pressure.

When you have an active leak in your plumbing system, it takes away precious water from your other fixtures. Meaning your shower, faucets, and other plumbing fixtures are not getting the same amount of water they normally do.

This all leads to a lackluster shower or dish cleaning session. When you notice your water pressure has dropped for seemingly no reason, it could be a good indicator you’re dealing with a slab leak.

Carpet or Flooring is Damp

When slab leaks aren’t caught early enough, there’s a very high possibility they can damage your carpet or flooring.

Since these pipes are buried in concrete, there aren’t a lot of places for the water to go. With enough time, the water can collect all the way up and into your home.

Random Puddles in or Outside of the Home

Just like we mentioned above, when a leak is left long enough, the water needs somewhere to go. This can mean finding puddles inside or outside your home.

If you notice water pooling around your foundation on a warm day, this is a very obvious sign it’s time to call a plumber as soon as possible. Slab leaks can also force water to puddle in places like, under your cabinets or around your washing machine.

Slab leaks are something that should absolutely be left to professionals. Call your local plumber immediately if you suspect there is a leak in your concrete foundation.

How to Clean a Garbage Disposal

Cleaning your garbage disposal is a small task that makes a huge difference. One of the most effective ways it can make a difference is by getting rid of any lingering odors that might be wafting through your home. When your sink starts to have some stink lines coming from it, that’s a sure sign you need to clean your garbage disposal.

Tools Needed

One of the great things about garbage disposals is that they can usually clean themselves. The only time you need to worry about cleaning it is when some smells start to linger. However, when it’s that time, you’re going to need a few tools. They are:

  • Rubber Gloves
  • Sink Stopper
  • Abrasive Sided Kitchen Sponge
  • Dish Soap
  • Ice
  • Rock Salt
  • Citrus Peels

How to Clean a Garbage Disposal, Part 1: Scrubbing Instructions

It’s fairly easy to clean your garbage disposal, despite this, there are a few important steps to take.

Step One: Turn off the Power

How to clean a garbage disposal, start by turning it off.

This is arguably the most important step when it’s time to clean a garbage disposal. Forgetting this step could lead to a hospital visit instead of a clean sink.

Some garbage disposals can be turned off by unplugging a power switch. For others, you may need to locate the breaker box and disconnect the power there.

Finally, give the on/off switch a little flip to make sure the power is truly off.

Step Two: Clean the Sink Baffle

The rubber stopper at the lip of your disposal is called a sink baffle.

Don’t be baffled by the baffle. It’s the technical name for the rubber splash guard that sits in the mouth of your garbage disposal.

Run your sponge under some water to get it nice and wet. Now, soap up the abrasive side of the sponge and get to scrubbing.

Make sure to scrub between all the folds and creases as well as the underside. A lot of nasty buildup can hide there.

Don’t forget to routinely rinse the sponge.

Step Three: Scrub the Grinding Chamber

You’re not going to scrub the blades themselves; this is what the ice and salt are for. Instead, you’ll be scrubbing the walls of the grinding chamber.

Use the sponge and just start scrubbing from the top. Frequently rinse the sponge and scrub the walls until the sponge isn’t pulling up any disposal sediment.

Step Four: Add the Ice

For this step, simply fill the disposal with ice cubes.

You don’t need to fill it all the way to the top, but it never hurts to put in too much ice.

Step Five: Add the Salt and Run the Disposal

You can clean your garbage disposal with ice.

For this step, measure out a cup of salt. We recommend rock salt instead of traditional table salt.

After you add the salt, run some water. We recommend cold water. When water is too hot it can break up any oils and fats which could lead to a nasty backup.

Cold water is preferred because it keeps any fats and oils clumped together. This lets them travel through your plumbing system without adding to any backups.

How to Clean a Garbage Disposal, Part 2: Deodorizing

Now that you have a nice, clean garbage disposal, the last thing you need to do is deodorize it.

Our favorite way to naturally deodorize a garbage disposal is with citrus peels. Whether it’s orange, lemon, or lime, it doesn’t matter. Just choose the scent you like the most.

Keep in mind, these peels are not to clean your disposal, they just give a nice scent.

Simply grind some of the peels in your now clean disposal. This will eliminate any lingering scents and leave your sink smelling nice and fresh.

How to Deep Clean a Bathroom

Cleaning the bathroom doesn’t need to be a daunting task. For some homeowners, cleaning the bathroom is a breeze, for others, not so much. We all have our preferences for cleaning and organizing. Here is our favorite way to deep clean a bathroom.

Items Needed to Deep Clean a Bathroom

There are a few things you should never be without in your cleaning arsenal. We’re sure you have most of these things on hand, but in case you want to make sure, here are all the things we use when working in the bathroom, or any other room in the house.

  • Toilet Brush
  • Bowl Cleaner
  • Rubber Gloves
  • All-Purpose Cleaning Spray
  • Baking Soda or other Powder Cleaner
  • Glass Cleaner
  • Bleach
  • Clean Rags
  • Paper Towels
  • Vacuum
  • Wet mop or wet Swiffer

How to Deep Clean a Bathroom: Step by Step Instructions

De-Clutter Your Space

The first thing you should do is clear the way for cleaning! Start by taking out any rugs, bathmats, or towels. Put them aside to be washed.

Use this moment to check for anything that can be put away or organized into a drawer, cabinet, or other storage solution. The less stuff you have on the floor and countertops, the less you’ll have to dust.

Start Without Liquids

For many, the first instinct is to grab the cleaner and start spraying everything down. This will usually lead to you doubling your work.

Start by dusting everything, and when we say everything, we mean everything. When you start by dusting, you’re making it so you can clean the dust as you go, instead of chasing after visible dust particles in a clean bathroom.

Start Tall, End Small

When it comes to deep cleaning a bathroom, start dusting at the celling and work your way to the floor.

Our next bit of advice is to begin by dusting at the top of the bathroom. This means any molding you may have, the light fixtures, fan blades, and anything else that may be on the walls.

After you’ve knocked all the dust down, start to clear it from the countertops, fixtures, and anything that may be residing on said countertop.

The last part of your dusting task will be the baseboards and floor. Don’t forget to dust the outside of the toilet. When you’re done, vacuum or sweep everything off the floor.

Spray Down the Glass

Use a microfiber cloth when cleaning glass doors and windows.

Now it’s time to get out the spray cleaner. We always start with the glass cleaner.

Spritz down the mirror, light fixtures, and windows. Give them a wipe down with a microfiber cloth or an old t-shirt. Washcloths and even paper towels can leave residue on your sleek surfaces.

Time for the Fixtures


Don’t put away the glass cleaner yet, you’ll be using it to wipe down the fixtures on your sink, shower, and tub.

Use the same cloth you did on the glass and wipe each fixture until it’s nice and clean. Use a little extra spritz of glass cleaner if you need it. Swap the cloth for a small brush if you have any buildup or mineral deposits on your faucets.

Clean the Countertop

When it comes time to clean the countertop, don't forget to spray down the soap dispenser and other grooming products.

This task can be broken into two parts. First, clean the items on your countertop. Start by wiping down any soap dispensers or cups and move on to any grooming products you keep out. Place them aside while you clean the countertop.

For most countertops, you can use an all-purpose cleaner. The only surface that needs a specific cleaner is granite.

Clean the countertops before the sink or any other porcelain surface. Even though you dry dusted the counter, loose dust can still find its way into the sink, shower, toilet, or tub.

After everything is wiped down, put everything back on the counter.

Scrub the Porcelain

Don't forget to scrub down the tub.

Now is the time when you want to break out the baking soda or other scrubbing agent. One of our favorites is Bar Keepers Friend.

Run a non-abrasive scrubber, like a mesh sponge, under some water to get it a little wet and then scour the sink, toilet, and tub.

Start at the rims of all of these and work your way down. It’s the same principle as dusting. Starting high up will knock any debris or residue down so you clean as you go.

Once everything is scoured clean, give everything a good rinse to wash away any grime or soap residue.

Tackle the Toilet

The toilet might be one of the grossest places to clean, so that’s why we recommend cleaning from the outside in. Spray the outside of the toilet with your all-purpose cleaner. Wipe it all down. Don’t forget to clean behind the toilet. It’s an awkward space that many homeowners forget about.

Next, use your all-purpose cleaner on the seat and lid. Spray and wipe everything down.

Now it’s time for the bowl. Use a toilet specific cleaner and distribute it along the top of the bowl. Then put some baking soda or commercial cleaner into the toilet water. Use a toilet brush to scrub the inside of the bowl.

Flush the toilet to rinse everything and you’re done with the toilet!

Leave the Floors for Last

Finish your deep clean by mopping the floor.

Now that everything else is done, it’s time to clean the floors. Begin with a broom or vacuum. Sweep up any excess dust that may have fallen during the cleaning process.

Next, get that mop wet and clean until the tile looks nice and shiny. Wait for everything to dry, then put down a clean bathmat and hang some clean towels.

How Does Radiant Barrier Work?

We’re always looking for ways to make our homes as energy efficient as possible. A solution that sometimes goes overlooked is radiant barrier. This insulation method is pretty much tin foil. We can see your quizzical expression, and today we’re telling you how radiant barrier works.

What is Radiant Heat?

During the summer months, your attic takes a beating from the sun. For example, on a hot summer day even though it’s 95° outside, your attic can reach a temperature of 150°.

The reason your attic gets so hot without actual sun exposure is because of radiant heat. UV rays from the sun will make your attic so hot it starts to radiate its own heat. All without actually being touched by something that’s physically hot.

Think of your car in the sun. When parked in an area without shade, the inside of your car gets warmer faster than the outside temperature.

This extreme heat can do damage to anything stored in your attic and even your HVAC system. Additionally, the high temperature can be felt in your insulation, which transfers that heat to your home. Making your HVAC system run harder to cool your home.

How do Radiant Barrier Work?

Going back to the car example, when you put a shade over your windshield or park under a tree, these things block the heat from the sun. There’s a remarkable temperature difference between the interior heat of a shaded and non-shaded car.

This same rule applies to your home. Radiant barrier acts as a mirror in a way. It bounces heat and UV rays away from your home. The heat will try to transfer from the sun to your roof, shingles, and eventually your attic.

When installed properly, radiant barrier will stop heat from getting in. Think of an insulated stainless steel cup. The science that keeps your drink cold throughout the day can do the same for your home.

What is Radiant Barrier Made From?

Radiant barrier is a reflective surfaces that create a gap between your home and the sun. They’re usually made from an industrial grade tin foil. Similar to the tin foil blankets found in emergency survival kits.

A radiant barrier is made from an industrial grade foil that reflects heat rays back into the atmosphere.

We don’t recommend getting the tin foil in your kitchen and taping it all over your attic, this will do absolutely nothing and just waste a bunch of time and perfectly good tin foil.

Your options are to either call in a professional, like the ones at A-Avis. Or work closely with someone well versed in the language of home improvement.

What are the Benefits?

With the right conditions, radiant barrier can have great perks. This insulation will be the most beneficial for homes with HVAC systems and ductwork in the attic.

Radiant barriers block heat transfer in a natural way so you save money and decrease your carbon footprint.

When your HVAC system and ductwork are in the attic, the extreme heat from the sun can degrade your system and force it to work much harder than it needs to. With radiant barrier, you’re elongating the life of you HVAC system.

Additionally, you can save between 5% and 10% on your energy bill. Which also makes your carbon footprint a bit smaller.

Radiant barrier can be a great, cost effective, way to help keep your home cool, lengthen the life of your HVAC system, and be more energy efficient.

How Does a Condensate Drain Pan Work?

The condensate drain pan is an important part of the entire central air system. This little tray protects your home from damage and protects the furnace from microbiological growth and failure. Perhaps most importantly, it protects your home from any type of water-related safety issues.

Southern California homeowners who want to keep their home and air healthy and clean should also care for their condensate drain pans.

What does a Condensate Drain Pan Do?

The primary purpose of the condensate drain pan is to collect excess water that comes from the air conditioning process. But where does this water come from?

When the thermostat is set to cool, the evaporator coil, part of the central air system and found in the furnace, fills with compressed refrigerant. This A-shaped coil drops to very low temperatures and get very cold.

Moist, warm air from inside the home enters the HVAC system from air ducts. It then passes through the air filter and into the open center of the evaporator coil.

This is where a heat transfer takes place. Moisture and heat are pulled from the air. The now cool air is then pushed through the air ducts and into the house.

As the heat transfer goes on, condensation creates excess water. It’s similar to a glass of ice water on a hot day. After a few moments in a warm environment, the glass is covered in beads of water. In the same way, tiny water droplets collect along your evaporator coil. Water slips down the sides of the evaporator coil and right into the condensate pan fitted below.

This process continues until the air conditioning is turned off. The condensate drain pain is installed to safely collect any water that drips off the evaporator coil. Then, a condensate line in the pan moves water out of the home, emptying to the sewage system or another external location.

Where is the condensate drain pan located?          

The condensate drain pan is part of the evaporator coil. The evaporator coil is a box of tightly wound wires that sits around the furnace. Its exact location depends on the type of furnace installation in your home.

Vertical furnace installation or application

  • Vertical furnace installations are in the upright position. Typically, the furnace is installed in the furnace closet or garage. With these furnaces, the evaporator coil sits on top of the furnace. The condensate drain line is right beneath the evaporator coil.

Horizontal furnace installation or application

  • Horizontal furnace installations have the central air system lie on its side. The furnace is installed in the attic and placed in this position because of space constraints in the attic. Air flows side to side rather than up and down. The evaporator coil sits beside the furnace with the air ducts in the attic.

Why does the horizontal application have a second drain pan?

For attic furnaces, there is a second condensate drain pan. This is an added layer of protection from water damage.

In most HVAC systems, the entire central air system is lying on its side. In the event of condensate drain pan failure, water does not drip in one general location. Instead, water drips from the entire central air system. Additionally, overflow of water results in damage to the ceiling, drywall, and wood. To protect the home from water damage, a secondary condensate drain pan is fitted beneath the entire appliance. This is similar to placing a pan beneath the car during an oil change. This added barrier protects the floor from stains and other damages.

This secondary condensate drain pan also has its own drain line. It is connected directly from the pan to an external location, usually traveling out the window. It is highly visible. Homeowners should notice when the central air system reverts to this water removal method. It means that the standard method has been compromised. An HVAC specialist should be called in order to make timely repairs.

How does the condensate drain pan get damaged?

Unfortunately, there are times when the condensate drain pan can fail.

In the past, condensate drain pans were built of metal. Then, HVAC specialists discovered that water created rust that ate at the metal creating holes and leaks. Since then, condensate drain pans have been made of plastic.

The newer, plastic condensate drain pans are durable, lasting between five to 10 years. However, they are a part of the evaporator coil system and cannot be replaced independently.

What damages the condensate drain pan?

The condensate drain pan is meant to collect excess water generated during the air conditioning process. However, during the cold winter months, many homeowners only use the furnace. Because the condensate drain pan is located either directly above or directly below the furnace, the drain pain gets a blast of hot air with each heating cycle. The constant battery of heat sucks out the moisture of these plastic pans. Eventually, it leads to cracks.

A cracked pan is unable to hold water. When air conditioning season starts in the spring, water slips through the cracks of the pan, and can pool at the bottom or trickle throughout the furnace interior.

The drain itself can also clog. This can result from a dirty air filter, foreign obstruction, or simply old age. When this happens, water never makes it through the condensate drain line. Instead, water backups and fills the condensate drain pan. Unfortunately, these pans are not designed to carry large amounts of water. They’re quite shallow and built to hold water for a short amount of time. When they work correctly, water is constantly cycling through the condensate line. In the event of an overflow from a clog, water drips backward toward the furnace.

A clogged condensate line, a cracked condensate drain pan, or a soggy furnace can lead to many unwanted issues. This includes:

  • Microbiological growth
  • Safety hazards
  • Low indoor air quality
  • Internal buildup
  • AC repairs
  • Higher energy expenditure
  • Smelly air
  • Water damage to the home

Homeowners who find water pooling anywhere around their central air system should contact their HVAC specialist. Quickly finding repairs saves time, money and trouble that could avoid more permanent and serious damages.

Care for Your Condensate Drain Pan with the Experts at A-Avis

A-Avis is the best HVAC provider for Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. Our technicians lead in superior technical care for furnaces and air conditioners.

Homeowners of Southern California rely on our expertise and experience for exceptional HVAC service and genuine customer care. Your satisfaction is guaranteed.

How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The first modern air conditioner was introduced in 1902 by a young man named William Carrier. Back then, the air conditioner was used to offset humidity. Though the job has changed, the technicalities have stayed the same. For those wondering how an air conditioner works, we’re explaining everything below.

AC Basics

Carrier’s first AC system used a fan and steam coils. The steam coils were filled with cold water and the fan blew ambient air over said coils. As the air travelled over the cold coils, any excess humidity would condensate on the coils and produce nice, somewhat cool air.

While the machines look incredibly different, they way the function is essentially the same. Think of your air conditioner as a refrigerator. However, instead of a stainless steel box, the walls of your home keep the cool air in.

Key AC Parts

Every central air conditioning unit has 6 main parts. While it takes more than these key parts to make the system function at its highest level, no HVAC system could successfully do its job without these pieces.

  1. Thermostat – Your thermostat is the remote control of the entire HVAC system. It won’t start the cooling process until the thermostat tells it do so.
  2. Evaporator – The evaporator is a set of metal coils that use refrigerant to extract heat and humidity from the air.
  3. Blower – A blower circulates air over the evaporator and then disperses the temperature treated air through your home.
  4. Condenser – The condenser is another set of coils, only this set releases heat into the air outside your home.
  5. Compressor – Refrigerant is what pulls the heat out of air. The compressor moves refrigerant between in the indoor evaporator coils and outdoor condenser.
  6. Fan – The fan in the outdoor condenser has two jobs. It pulls warm outdoor air in to be treated. And it expels heat into the outdoor atmosphere.

How it All Works

The central air system is broken into two parts. One inside the house and one outside the house. Both these parts rely on refrigerant to keep your home cool.

One of the things we say a lot is that a central air system recycles air. When you turn on your HVAC system and set it to AC, the first thing it does is to pull air that’s already in your home into the HVAC system.

The warm air is pulled in by a vent and sent to your furnace. There it blows over the evaporator coil. The evaporator coil converts liquid refrigerant to gas. This refrigerant gas pulls heat and humidity from the warm air that flows over it.

After, the cool air is sent into your home. Then the refrigerant, now an incredibly hot vapor, is transported outside to the condenser. Refrigerant travels between the furnace and the condenser by way of the compressor.

As the hot vapor—full of heat and humidity from your treated air—flows from the evaporator coil to the condenser, it is exposed to the outdoor air. The ambient outdoor air pulls heat from the refrigerant, which changes the refrigerant from a vapor or gas back to a liquid.

When the refrigerant converts back to a liquid, it’s cool again and ready to repeat the process. This cycle continues until your home is at the temperature specified on your thermostat.

Types of Air Conditioners

When it comes to air conditioning options, most homeowners have a few they can choose from. We’re not here to tell you which one is best, it all depends on your individual situation. Here are the 4 most common types of air conditioners:

  • Central Air Conditioning – this is the most common type of cooling system we see in Southern California. It has two units and uses the process we described above. This is the most effective system for cooling a whole home. You have the option of zoning your home and switching to heat when the season turns.
  • Mini-Split System – The mini-split, or “ductless” system is found in older homes, smaller homes, hotels, or apartments. It operates the same way as central air conditioning but does not rely on ductwork for air distribution. The evaporator coil is in a single unit located inside your home.
  • Window Units – The window units are small air conditioners that are installed on a windowsill. They are typically used to cool a single room or studio apartment. We don’t recommend them for larger spaces.
  • Portable Air Conditioners – The portable air conditioner is similar to a window unit except it can be moved from room to room. These standalone units are usually on wheels and can be moved throughout a very small space.