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New Year’s Resolutions: 7 Ways to Save More Money on Utility Bills in 2019

Hand turning up thermostat

By Joseph Braswell, Owner

Eat healthier, get more exercise and save more money are some of the most common New Year’s resolutions. While we can’t help you eat a healthier diet or hit the gym more often, what we can do is help you save money.

“How,” you ask?  

Well, there are actually some very easy ways you can start saving on your utility bills today. As the year comes to a close, now is the perfect time to take steps to reduce both your energy and water usage.

 

7 Easy Ways to Lower Your Utility Bills Today

There’s not one homeowner out there who doesn’t want to cut down on the utility bills. Here are some great ways to do just that.

  1. Turn the temperature up and run a ceiling fan. If you prefer setting the temperature at 72 degrees but can still be comfortable at 74, you’re going to save money – plain and simple. In addition to turning the temperature up, I would also recommend running a ceiling fan since moving air makes you feel cooler.
  2. Use a programmable thermostat. With a programmable thermostat, you can set the temperature a little higher while you’re not at home and have it set to cool down before you get back. This means you won’t forget to turn it up before leaving the house and, thus, have a higher energy bill.   
  3. Have regular maintenance performed on your system. A clean system is key to having an efficiently running HVAC system. When you have regular maintenance performed, it doesn’t have to run as long and uses less energy. Plus, when you have a maintenance plan like GuinGuard, you don’t have to give it a second thought. We’ll remind you when it’s time!
  4. Invest in a high-efficiency water heater. While using either electricity or gas, these high-efficiency water heaters need less fuel to heat the water, ultimately keeping more money in your pocket.  
  5. Install low-flow toilets and showerheads. These use less water than typical toilets and shower heads without losing the water pressure you need.
  6. Turn the water off when you’re brushing your teeth. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, we waste 8 gallons of water while we’re brushing our teeth each day. To put that into perspective, the average African family uses about 5 gallons of water a day, according to the African Wildlife Foundation.
  7. Wait to turn the shower on until you’re ready to get in. When it comes to saving water, it really is the little things that count. If you’re sitting there with the shower running while you’re laying your clothes out for the day, you don’t realize how much water you’re wasting. 

There’s no better time than the New Year to get into some good habits, especially if they can end up saving you money on the utility bills. All it really takes is being aware of the best ways to conserve both energy and water, and you’re bound to keep countless dollars in your pocket.  

 

Learn More About Saving Money on Utility Bills from 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.

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.

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.

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.