Author: bell

Top 3 Reasons You’ll Want to Install a Home Generator Before Winter Hits

It’s been all the talk, and everyone in the Birmingham areas is well aware that this winter is set to be colder and wetter than average. With this being the case, now is the time to be proactive about preparing for the harsh winter ahead.

While no one can forget Snowmaggedon of 2014, many of us know the importance of packing a pair of boots, some bottled water and a few snacks in the car, in case of emergencies. But at the same time, it’s crucial to prepare your home for any wild winter weather as well.

With ice and snow having the potential to cause power outages in the winter, one of the best ways to be prepared, aside from preparing your pipes, is by installing a standby home generator.

Three Huge Benefits of Installing a Home Standby Generator

Reason #1: Enjoy your water supply, even if you have well water.

According to Alabama Public Health, around 800,000 people, or 20 percent of Alabamians, depend on private water supplies, such as wells, for drinking water.

If you receive your water supply from a private well, the pump that delivers water to the household won’t work during a power outage. Once you use the remaining water in the system, you won’t have any more until power is restored. While this may not be a problem immediately, if you were to lose power for an extended period, this would obviously become a more serious issue.

 

Reason #2: Avoid throwing out countless dollars worth of food.

If the power goes out, and you don’t have standby generator, the FDA recommends you discard any perishable food, like meat, poultry, fish, eggs, or leftovers that’ve been at temperatures above 40° F for 2 hours or more, or 1 hour if temperatures are above 90º F.

Of course, if there’s any question about whether or not these perishable foods are still good, it’s best to throw them out as they have the potential to result in sickness if eaten.

 

Reason #3: Remain safe and comfortable in your home.

While you may not be able to really put a price on having the ability to stay warm and comfortable in your home even when the power goes out, those who work from home probably can.

But along with staying comfortable and on task, a home generator also gives you the means to keep your security system on and your family safe. This may be especially important if the power goes out while you’re out of town.

With all the benefits a standby home generator can offer your family, most people would agree that installing one before the winter hits is simply a smart idea. Some might even say that keeping your family warm, safe and continuing on with their daily activities during a power outage is priceless.  

Home Generator Installation and Maintenance by Guin Service in Birmingham, AL

Contact Guin Service, LLC, serving Birmingham, Hoover, and Mountain Brook, AL, for AC Repair or Replacement as well home generator installation. We’ve been in business for 60 years because we do what’s right for our customers. You can always trust us to be honest and have your best interest in mind. Just give us a call today at 205.595.4846.

How to Avoid the 3 Most Common Plumbing Emergencies This Thanksgiving

From a perfectly cooked turkey to making sure your guests feel at home, it’s normal to have a bit of anxiety over everything going just right when it’s your turn to host Thanksgiving. Of course, one thing that can quickly make any Thanksgiving turn sour is a plumbing emergency. But have no fear, here are some easy steps you can take to avoid the most common reasons people find themselves calling a plumber on Thanksgiving.

#1: Clogged toilet.

How to Avoid: Ask your guests not to flush things like napkins or wipes down the toilet. It’s also a good idea to keep the top of the toilet tank clear so that nothing accidently gets knocked into the toilet bowl. In case one of your guest runs into a dilemma, you might even put a plunger in the bathroom so they don’t have to ask for one in front of a crowd.

#2: No hot water.

How to Avoid: Don’t let your guests take showers one after the other, and make sure there’s at least ten minutes, or more depending on your water heater, in between each. It’s also a good idea to wait to run the dishwasher until after your guests have finished showering.

#3: Clogged garbage disposal.

How to Avoid: Even though the disposal can handle small amounts of food waste, on Thanksgiving, it’s best to throw the majority of it away in the trash, especially starchy things like potatoes, turkey skin, or bones. On that same note, don’t pour grease, fats, or oil in the kitchen sick since they can clog up the pipes once cooled.

Although these plumbing emergencies are usually easily avoided, there are times when these things will happen despite your best efforts. When that’s the case, it’s always a good idea to call your plumber who can help you fix the problem quickly and efficiently and get your Thanksgiving back on track!

Contact Guin Service, LLC in Birmingham, AL for AC Repair or Replacement.  We’ve been in business for 60 years because we do what’s right for our customers. You can always trust us to be honest and have your best interest in mind. We’re happy to come out and give you a free second opinion if you’ve been told you have to replace your AC. While we may come out and say that’s not a bad idea, we’ll also give you your options, or repair your unit until you’re ready to make the decision. Just give us a call today at 205.595.4846.

Our Best Tips for Avoiding Frozen Pipes This Winter – Or Tonight

By Joseph Braswell, Owner

During the winter, freezing pipes can become a serious problem, especially if you don’t take the necessary precautions. Whether you’re ready to take action now before winter arrives, or your scouring the internet the night before a freeze, we have all the information you need.

Before we jump into some tips, you’re probably wondering if you should really be worried about your pipes freezing.

While, theoretically, a pipe can freeze if it’s 32 degrees outside, more often than not, your pipes are going to be a little bit warmer than that since they’re either underground or inside the home. Most of the time, you have to be approaching the teens for 48 to 72 hours before it becomes a real big fear. The main exception here is if you have an outside hose that’s attached to your house; that’s going to freeze a little bit easier. At the same time, keep in mind that even if your pipes do freeze, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to burst.

That being said, most would agree that it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you don’t take the appropriate precautions, and your pipes burst, you’re going to have water damage.

This could mean severe damage to your flooring, walls, and ceiling, and cleaning up water damage isn’t cheap. Whether you’re being proactive prepping for the cold weather ahead, or you’ve procrastinated and just found out it’s going to freeze tonight, just follow these tips to avoid having to deal with frozen pipes this winter.

If winter is on the way, and you’re being proactive:

  • Insulate your pipes. Make sure you don’t have any bare pipes showing in your attic, basement, or crawlspace. Vulnerable pipes in these spaces should be fitted with foam or fiberglass insulation sleeves.
  • Wrap heat tape around pipes that are exposed to the elements. Heat tape is just like an extension cord that’s essentially going to let off heat so the pipes won’t freeze. This is especially important for pipes that are in an attic, unfinished basement, or garage.
  • Apply covers to outside faucets. An outside hose connected to the house has the potential to hold water in the faucet that could expand and burst. You can prevent this by using covers from your local hardware store that are only a couple dollars. There’s no installation; you just pop them on there.

If you procrastinated, and it’s going to freeze tonight:

  • Leave the water running a little bit. This isn’t a fix all because even if it’s running a little bit, there’s still the possibility of your pipes freezing, especially if it’s going to be cold for a longer period of time. But if you’re just going to have one night of real low temperatures, you can let a faucet drip for a little while, and that moving water will help prevent them from freezing.
  • Unhook your hoses from the faucets outside. If you don’t have time to go out and buy the covers mentioned above, your best bet to avoid frozen faucets outside is to simply unhook the hose.

If you procrastinated, and you’re going out of town:

  • Keep your heat on. A lot of times, people that are going out of town or have a rental property don’t leave the heat on when they’re not there. But in the winter, you need to have your heat on at a minimum of 50 or 60 degrees. Some of that heat will seep into the basement or crawlspace and keep your pipes a little bit warmer.
  • Turn the water off at the street. This is a good precaution to take, especially if you’ll be gone for an extended period. This way, if the pipes did freeze and burst, you would know that the water wouldn’t just be running.

If you’ve really procrastinated and now have frozen pipes on your hands, the best thing you can do is just wait until they thaw. Other than putting the heat tape on your pipes or getting a hair dryer to thaw them out, there’s really nothing you can do. If the situation takes a turn for the worse, and a pipe bursts, turn the water off at the street or call a plumber to do it for you. If the plumber can’t get there quickly, a lot of your local fire departments will turn the water off at the street for you. Then the next time winter comes around, just be sure to take the appropriate precautions before the cold weather hits.

Contact Guin Service, LLC in Birmingham, AL for AC Repair or Replacement. We’ve been in business for 60 years because we do what’s right for our customers. You can always trust us to be honest and have your best interest in mind. We’re happy to come out and give you a free second opinion if you’ve been told you have to replace your AC. While we may come out and say that’s not a bad idea, we’ll also give you your options, or repair your unit until you’re ready to make the decision. Just give us a call today at 205.595.4846.

Professional and DIY Ways to Prep Your Heating System for the Cold Weather Ahead

HVAC Contractor

By: Joseph Braswell, Owner

The cold weather will be here before you know it, and the last thing you want is to be stuck without heat when it does. If you have a very old furnace, or you’ve had a technician tell you that it’s close to its life expectancy, it’s probably a good idea to have your system checked out beforehand. While you may want to know how to check it out yourself before the winter hits, I strongly advise against anyone other than a licensed technician do this since you’re having to deal with natural gas.

At Guin Service, when we come out for a pre-winter service call, we’ll check a few things in order to ensure your system is not only functioning efficiently, but also not putting you and your family in any danger. 

 

Our top priority is to ensure there are no leaks in the heat exchanger that could cause carbon monoxide issues.  

The heat exchanger is essentially the inner workings of the furnace where the flames are, and it’s designed to where those flames burn in a certain way. If those heat exchangers have any cracks in them, the flames don’t act properly, meaning gas and fumes can start to leak out. That’s where you get carbon monoxide issues. From a safety standpoint, we want to make sure the burners are working properly, and there’s no chance of carbon monoxide leaking out into the home.

 

We’ll also check the vent to make sure the exhaust is not coming into your home.

We’re not talking about the vent the air comes out into your home, but the vent the exhaust goes out. Think about your car. What if the exhaust pipe from your car was blowing all that inside the vehicle? Now that wouldn’t be good. We’ll make sure the vent is leading outside without any cracks or leaks.

 

What can you do to have a more efficient system – and lower power bills this winter?

A dirty system due to lack of maintenance is the number one cause of failure, on both the heating and cooling side. Of course, before it goes out, this will also cause your power bill to be much higher than it needs to be. Sitting there dirty for years and years causes the system to work harder than it was intended to, and that’s why it’s so important to change the filter.

Think about if you had to run up a hill; you need all the air you can get. What if you had to run up a hill with a mask that only gave you half the air you needed? Your heart would have to work harder, your lungs would have to work harder, and you’d eventually break down. It’s the same concept here – when the unit can’t breathe, it breaks down.

And remember, you can’t change the filter too much. Whatever filter you buy, you should follow the recommendation on the package, though, as a rule of thumb, if you’re using the inexpensive filters from a big box store, you’ll want to change it out monthly. I will say though, if you’re interested in indoor air quality, we do sell filters at Guin Service that you can change out every six months to a year, depending on the home. These are really popular because you know they’re working well, and you don’t have to change it until we’re there to do your regular maintenance. We just bring that filter with us so it’s one less thing you have to worry about.

 

Let Guin Service Ensure Your System is Ready for Winter

If you have an older heating system, the team at Guin Service gladly serves customers around Hoover, Mountain Brook and surrounding areas. Plus, if you sign up for GuinGuard, we’ll give you a call every six months to remind you that it’s time for maintenance. And no, this service doesn’t cost you a penny – does your dentist charge you when you don’t come get your teeth cleaned? Contact us today to make sure your heating system gets the attention it needs to run efficiently while lowering your bills this winter.

HVAC Service Contracts: Are They Worth It?

Air conditioner with guard

Let’s be honest, most people don’t see the need for a HVAC service contract, and truly don’t understand how they and their equipment can benefit from having one. Unfortunately, this is a prime example of how what you don’t know can hurt you. While you can wait until your AC malfunctions to reach out to a professional, there’s actually a much better, more cost-effective way to keep your HVAC equipment running optimally.

What are the benefits of having a HVAC Service Contract?

Since having a service contract like GuinGuard is going to help you properly maintain your equipment, there are countless benefits that can come from it. By simply being proactive and having a professional assist you in maintaining your HVAC system, you’re going to be far less likely to experience any unexpected problems or repairs. Trained HVAC professionals are going to be able to spot a problem before it even affects you and, in most cases, prevent it from happening again. Along with saving money on avoidable repairs, you’ll also save countless dollars on utility bills by having a system that runs efficiently. Not to mention your equipment is going to last much longer.

What’s included in a service contract like GuinGuard?

While this isn’t true for every HVAC company, GuinGuard, offered by Guin Services, is an extremely cost-effective service we offer that comes with many perks that are hard to pass up. These benefits include:

Regular maintenance reminders and visits. Once you’re signed up, you can count on our team to give you a call to schedule a time to come out for regular maintenance twice a year. This includes one pre-season cooling service and one pre-season heating service. During these biannual visits, our trained technicians will inspect your HVAC system and ensure everything is in good working order.

Free standard maintenance parts and labor. Along with standard maintenance parts being replaced free of charge, you’ll get free labor on regular maintenance as well. This includes checking operating and safety controls, cleaning and replacing air filters, and even the minor adjustments of belts and pulleys. This in itself is going to help you keep more money in your pocket when it comes to maintaining your system.  

Documentation of regular maintenance. After inspecting your equipment, your technician will give you a report that states if any services, repairs, or replacements are necessary. This is great to have in order to keep up with equipment warranties, and also to have on hand when you decide to sell your home.

Priority service. Also, as a GuinGuard member, you can expect priority service from our team. In the unfortunate event that you do experience a issue with your equipment, you’ll be at the top of our list of service visits.

Sign Up for GuinGuard Today

Signing up for the GuinGuard service contract can only save you money, so what are you waiting for? Give us a call at 205.595.4846 or visit our website now to ensure your HVAC equipment gets the care it needs to run efficiently for as long as possible while saving you money on bills and costly repairs.

How You Can Lower Your Energy Bills by Keeping Your Air Conditioner in Tip-Top Shape

Guin Services- AC Contractor

Do you want to lower your energy bills while extending the life of your air conditioning unit? If you’re like most homeowners, you probably answered yes, but you’re not exactly sure how. Well, the good news is, you don’t have to be an HVAC expert to keep your AC performing its best. There are many things you can do to keep your AC in tip-top shape, and your home perfectly cooled during these hot summer months. Just follow our recommendations below to make your AC’s job easier, and your energy bills lower.

  • Change Your Air Filters Regularly – Dirty air filters can restrict the airflow from the AC, meaning large buildups of dirt and debris will make your AC work twice as hard to cool your home. To avoid this issue, check your filters about once a month, especially during the summer when you’re using the AC every day, and change them out as needed.  
  • Check Your Outdoor Unit – You’ll also want to keep your outdoor, or condenser, unit uncovered and free of debris. This is where all the heat from your home is pushed outside. If it’s covered up, it’ll just have to work that much harder, and take that much longer, to cool your home. Simply cleaning around the area and cutting vegetation back away from the vents can ensure the unit has the airflow it needs.
  • Ensure Ductwork Is Insulated – This is something you’ll want a professional to check at your next scheduled maintenance visit. Wherever the ductwork runs through unconditioned spaces, your HVAC professional will need to make sure it’s sealed so that it isn’t leaking out any conditioned air. These leaks cause your AC to overwork, leading to you wasting money on energy bills.
  • Schedule Regular Maintenance – Annual maintenance is probably the best way to keep your AC in tip-top shape while lowering your energy bills. With a regular maintenance plan like Guinguard for commercial and residential spaces, you can have someone come out and check your unit regularly, and even get free labor and parts. Not only do maintenance plans like these save you money on upkeep, but they’ll help reduce your energy costs throughout the year.

By following the recommendations above, you’re going to help your AC run more efficiently, which means you’ll probably see a decrease in your energy bill. Of course, if you don’t think your AC is running optimally, there are plenty of other ways an HVAC professional like the ones at Guin Service, can take a closer look and get your AC in tip-top shape for the summer.

Avoid Calling the Plumber with These 6 Tips and Tricks

While the team at Guin Services in Birmingham, AL, will happily come out to your residence for any plumbing issue, we know there are many people out there who’d rather take care of the problem themselves, if at all possible. From clogged drains to not having any hot water, there are a variety of issues we come across that not always, but sometimes, have an incredibly simple solution.

If you want to reduce your chances of having to call the plumber, check out these six tips and tricks that just might help you solve your plumbing problem all by yourself.

  1. Grab the plunger. People seem to think that it’s just for a commode, but when the kitchen sink is stopped up, there’s nothing better to use than a plunger. To unclog a sink with a plunger, just use it the same way you would on a toilet. Hit the plunger three or four times, and it’ll wash on through. Then get you a Clorox wipe to wipe down the sink, and you’re good to go.
  2. Use a coat hanger. On the other hand, if it’s hair that’s clogging up your sink, a coat hanger works great. Just remove the plug or drain cover and grab a wire coat hanger. Use needle-nose pliers to straighten the hanger out while leaving the hook. Be sure to make yourself a small loop or handle at the other end. Stick the hook into the drain and rotate the hanger as you push it down. Then pull it out, and just like that, you’ll have a hair-free drain.
  3. Try a vinegar solution. Many people also aren’t aware that you can use a vinegar solution to remove calcium deposits from shower heads and faucets. By removing these deposits, you can restore water pressure while also reducing the chances of them getting clogged in the future. While this tip works great, if you’re having to do it more than once a year, you should talk to your plumber about getting a whole house water purifier.
  4. Check your pilot light. Before you call a plumber to come out and see why you don’t have any hot water, check your pilot light. Or if your water heater is electric, make sure the gas is on, and all your breakers are working properly. You wouldn’t believe how many times we come out, flip a breaker panel, and the water heater is back on. We also recommend you check to see when you last paid your gas bill, as you wouldn’t be the first to accidentally miss a payment.
  5. Be careful with drain cleaners. Liquid drain cleaners can undoubtedly work wonders when it comes to unclogging drains, but if you find yourself using it more than once a year, it’s probably time to call a plumber. While it may be a convenient solution at the time, if it’s used too much or too often, it can actually eat through your pipes, especially if you live in an older home. This obviously creates a much bigger problem than a clogged sink.  
  6. Think twice before flushing. Just because something says its flushable, doesn’t mean it is. Whether wipes, hygiene products, or cotton swabs, just be aware that unless it’s toilet paper or coming from your body, it may not be the best thing for your plumbing. Simply being weary about what you flush down the toilet can greatly reduce your chances of having to call a plumber.

If you’re a do-it-yourself kind of person and want to at least try to fix your plumbing issue yourself before calling the plumber, use the tips and tricks above. These can not only help you fix a problem you’re having right now but can also help you avoid calls in the future. Of course, sometimes calling the plumber is unavoidable, and in that case, Guin Services is here for all your plumbing needs.

5 Tips to (Almost) Effortlessly Keep Your Garbage Disposal in Tip-Top Shape

Garbage disposal

While some of us are lucky enough to have a garbage disposal in the kitchen, not many people are aware of how to keep them in good shape. With the number one rule being to never stick your hand down there, lack of maintenance can leave you with a disposal that’s prone to clogs –  not to mention the foul smell that typically goes along with those clogs.

If you really want your garbage disposal to last, while also eliminating stinky smells, just follow the tips below. Not only are they incredibly simple, but they don’t require any special tools or cleaners. With minimal effort, you can have an optimally functioning garbage disposal for years to come.

Keep it clean.

You can keep the disposal clean by simply pouring in a small amount of dish soap down the drain and letting the disposal run for about a minute each time you do the dishes.

Use it regularly.

Rust, corrosion and even clogs are more likely to occur if the disposal isn’t used on a regular basis. Even if you don’t have anything to dispose, make sure you run it at least every few days to keep it moving.

Use cold water.

Run cold water at least 30-60 seconds after all the waste is gone. While cold water hardens foods, making them easier to grind up, hot water can potentially melt the food onto the disposal making it more likely to get stuck on the blades.  

Throw in ice.

Putting a hand full of ice in the disposal will knock off anything that’s stuck on the blades and also help keep them grinding properly. You can even go a step further and make ice cubes from lemon juice to really get a good clean, and a fresh smell, at the same time.

Cut it up.

Though tempting, you don’t want to shove a large amount of waste down the disposal at once. Trying to put large pieces of meat or fruit in there can overwork the disposal and even cause it to break. If you don’t have the patience to cut it up, the trash may be a better option.

Contact Guin Services for Garbage Disposal Repair in Birmingham, AL

By following the simple garbage disposal maintenance tips above, you can have a properly working disposal for many years. While these tips will greatly reduce your chances of having problems down the road, the team at Guin Services is here to help if you do run into any issues. Whether repairing, replacing or installing your new disposal, we’re your go-to for all your garbage disposal needs.

Why your AC may not need replacing–even if you’re told you HAVE to

Air conditioning repair

Air conditioning repair

By Joseph Braswell, Owner of Guin Services, LLC

Your AC isn’t performing up to par, so you get a technician to come out and see what the problem is. Instead of the simple repair you expected, they tell you that you have no other choice but to replace the unit.

While this may be a good option, the truth is, nothing is beyond fixing. Though sometimes it’s not the best choice economically, leaving you spending more on repairs than replacement, there’s always an alternative solution. That’s why it’s so important to work with a company like Guin Services that’s going to give you options. For various issues, we may be able to find at least a temporary solution until you decide if and when you’re ready to replace.

Should you replace your air conditioner if it has a refrigerant leak?

Refrigerant leaks are the most common reason we replace units nowadays. While the unit doesn’t need to be replaced due to the leak itself, the problem lies in the refrigerant used by the system. Freon, also known as R-22, has been used as a refrigerant for decades, but since it’s not environmentally friendly, it’s being phased out and replaced with a new refrigerant called Puron, or 410A. All new units made since the early 2000’s use this new refrigerant, and in 2020, R22 will be completely banned, which has skyrocketed its price.

If you have a refrigerant leak that you can’t find and repair, you’re going to have to keep putting money into expensive, outdated refrigerant in order for your AC to work properly. In this case, it makes more sense to get a new unit, with new refrigerant, along with a good warranty and maintenance plan.

When should Birmingham residents repair vs. replace their AC unit?

Whenever we run into the question of repairing versus replacing, I always tell the customer to look at cost versus benefit. If you can spend $1,000 and get five more years out of the unit, that makes sense. If it’s going to be $5,000 to fix, and there’s no guarantee the problem won’t continue, then it might be time to consider replacing.

When looking at cost versus benefit, age should also be taken into consideration. If you have a 15-20-year-old AC, and you’re having to spend a great deal of money on repairs, it might be worth spending the extra money a new one.

It’s actually no different when it comes to buying a new car. Let’s say you have a 1995 Honda Civic. You need a new engine and a new transmission, but the car probably isn’t worth $5,000. You may not be able to buy a new car for that much, but if you do – well, you’ll have a new car.

This is a discussion we regularly have with our customers, and it’s not often, if ever, we tell someone that they have no other choice than to replace their AC. You can always fix something; it’s just not always a smart idea.

Contact Guin Service, LLC in Birmingham, AL for AC Repair or Replacement.  We’ve been in business for 60 years because we do what’s right for our customers. You can always trust us to be honest and have your best interest in mind. We’re happy to come out and give you a free second opinion if you’ve been told you have to replace your AC. While we may come out and say that’s not a bad idea, we’ll also give you your options, or repair your unit until you’re ready to make the decision. Just give us a call today at 205.595.4846.