Is There Asbestos in My Home?

In the 20th century, asbestos was a popular material for home builders. It has excellent insulating properties, and it’s naturally fire retardant. Unfortunately, it’s also rather dangerous. So much so that it’s been banned in more than 50 countries around the world. For homeowners, it can be pretty stressful to consider. So how do you know when you should be concerned?

The Health Consequences of Asbestos

To understand why it’s dangerous, you must realize the consequences of asbestos exposure. When the fibers enter your lungs, they can embed within the tissue. The damage results in large amounts of scarring and eventually tumors. Asbestosis, mesothelioma, and lung cancer can all be caused by the material.

Asbestosis is an inflammation. It affects the tissues of the lungs so strongly that the swelling can result in continual shortness of breath along with coughing and pain. Mesothelioma, on the other hand, is a type of lung cancer. Your lungs are surrounded by a special membrane that keeps them safe and controls input and output for the cells. The membrane is affected by this kind of cancer, depleting the lungs’ condition. Over 100,000 people are killed by these diseases annually.

Gauging The Risk of Asbestos in Your Home

Homes built prior to the 1980s will likely contain asbestos in some form. Many building materials included it, and you may be surprised to know that it could be lurking in your:

•    Ductwork (many old systems feature white tape holding portions together; this fabric is most often found on metal ducts)

•    Floor and ceiling tiles

•    Insulation

•    Roofing and siding

•    Paint

Even if you’ve got examples of each of these, does that mean you’re automatically at risk? Actually, it doesn’t. There is a small chance that even brief exposures could have consequences, but it’s not very likely. Those who are afflicted with one of the big three diseases almost always have extended records of exposure. The most prominent source to blame is asbestos mines and mills. Workers within the facility as well as those in charge of transportation, received the greatest about of exposure. Other industries were affected too, however. Any product that contained asbestos, such as automobiles and ships, exposed workers to contamination.

Even if they weren’t involved directly, people could still be impacted from afar. When family members worked with the substance, they often endangered everyone in the household by unknowingly dispersing fibers from their clothes and hair. Those living near mines or mills faced lots of exposure too.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that everyone will come in contact at some point, and the majority of people are unaffected. Continuous exposure at high levels is what creates the conditions for disaster.

Just in case…

If a suspicious material has you worried, don’t be afraid to call the professionals just in case. At $25 Plumbing, we also specialize in heating and air conditioning. Since old ductwork is the most common source of asbestos in American homes, we have the knowledge you need to keep your family safe. We’re more than happy to replace your outdated system with modern, efficient, and asbestos-free materials.

Is Your Home’s Water Safe for Drinking?

Drinking water contamination in the United States is thankfully not that common. But as recent headlines make clear it can and does happen, and that makes it a legitimate cause for concern.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency tests all municipal drinking water at its source for a wide range of toxic chemicals and disease-causing microbes. However, it has no jurisdiction to test water that comes from private wells, and if you have plumbing-related issues in your home that is another potential source of contamination that centralized testing could never uncover.

Testing Options for Home Drinking Water

By July 1st of each year your water supply company should mail you a Consumer Confidence Report, which will contain information about what they EPA found when it tested your city’s drinking water. A copy of this report can also be obtained directly from the EPA website, and if you’d like to have one you can perform a search for your place of residence here.

If, however, you are a part of the 10 percent of the American population that gets your drinking water from a well, or if you have reason to suspect contamination may have occurred somewhere between the point of origin and your home’s faucets, this data won’t do you much good.

In either case you’ll need to have separate drinking water safety tests performed by an outside party. This could be the company that supplies your water, a state-certified water testing agency (you can look for one on the EPA website here) or a private national testing service such as Intertek, NSF International or Underwriters Laboratories.

These tests may cost you anywhere from under $100 to over $500, depending on how extensive you’d like your test to be and which testing agency you choose to carry it out. However, in some cases your local water supplier may be willing to perform these tests at no charge, which is an ideal solution if it is offered.

Home testing kits can also be purchased for $30 or less. However, these tests will only catch a handful of possible contaminants (check the label before purchasing) and will not give you the most thorough and reliable results.

If you rely on a well for your drinking water, annual testing should be considered mandatory for nitrates, dissolved salts, intestinal bacteria and pH balance, and it’s probably a good idea to test for lead, arsenic, copper, pesticides and radon at least this often as well. Other contaminants you should test for intermittently include sulfate, manganese, iron and chloride.

Strange odors in your water are one indicator that testing may be in order, along with unusual taste of coloring. But you won’t be able to tell if your water is contaminated based on these factors alone, and you shouldn’t forgo regular testing simply because your water seems all right.

At $25 Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning Safe Drinking Water is Our Business

If you are an Inland Empire resident and ever have reason to suspect your pipes or faucets are responsible for the contamination of your drinking water, contact us at $25 Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning and we will be glad to send a plumbing expert to your home to assess the situation and make recommendations for change.

We are a full-service plumbing company, and in addition to fixing your plumbing problems we can also help you find and purchase water filters or water treatment systems that will purify your home drinking water and keep your family safe from danger.

Please follow our blog for more insights into the smooth, safe and efficient operation of your HVAC equipment, plumbing system and indoor air quality products.

HVAC Safety Tips: How to Manage and Prevent Carbon Monoxide Leaks in the Workplace

In places of business with appliances that burn fossil fuels, carbon monoxide detectors are a must. However, these detectors are not foolproof and may occasionally miss smaller leaks. A low but steady stream of carbon monoxide contamination isn’t deadly, but it can be a cause of “sick building syndrome,” where occupants of an enclosed space complain of constant headaches, dizziness, fatigue and other mysterious ailments that can’t be traced to any obvious source.

If you see evidence of sick building syndrome in the commercial facility you own or manage, you should have your gas- or oil-burning appliances and HVAC equipment inspected by trained professionals, who will be able to detect carbon monoxide leaks and repair the damage responsible for the problem.

Responding to a Carbon Monoxide Detectors Alert

When carbon monoxide detectors go off it means significant levels of this colorless, odorless gas are circulating. These detectors are programmed to sound before gas density rises to potentially dangerous levels, but if the leak continues it could mean big trouble.

As soon as you hear the detector’s alarm, evacuate the building and don’t leave anyone behind. You should already have an evacuation plan in place, and you should hold annual drills to make sure everyone who occupies the building on a regular basis is prepared to act quickly during a crisis.

Once you’re sure everyone has gotten the word and is ready to leave, shut down your HVAC system along with any other appliances that run on gas or oil. Try to breathe as little as possible when in proximity to potentially leaking equipment, and open all windows and doors that lead outside to help clear the air as quickly as possible.

Before letting everyone back in the building call your HVAC contractor and let them know you have an emergency situation. Ask them to dispatch a technician to inspect your boiler or furnace immediately.

Stopping Carbon Monoxide Leaks Before They Happen

To reduce the likelihood of carbon monoxide leakage, arrange to have your HVAC contractor inspect your HVAC system at least once every year. Make sure they check the heat exchanger very carefully, since unseen cracks or holes in this unit are responsible for more carbon monoxide leaks than any other source.

Clogged and dirty vents, fireplaces and chimneys won’t cause carbon monoxide leaks, but poor ventilation will prevent leaking gas from dissipating and therefore increase the risk of serious injury should a carbon monoxide leak ever occur. All sources of venting in your facility should be checked closely on a regular basis, and if any sign of excessive accumulation of dirt or debris is observed you should hire professional cleaners to provide whatever cleaning services are required.

If you have any gas appliances besides your furnace or boiler, hire a company that specializes in the maintenance of that equipment to perform annual inspections.

Worried about Carbon Monoxide Leakage? Contact $25 Plumbing Heating and Air Conditioning Today

If you own or manage a business in the Inland Empire, call $25 Plumbing Heating and Air Conditioning and make an appointment to have your HVAC system inspected ASAP. We offer special preventive maintenance plans that can save you money and keep your HVAC equipment in perfect working order for years to come. We can promise you our work will be thorough and if we find even the slightest risk of carbon monoxide leakage we will fix the problem immediately.

Follow us here for a treasure trove of tips and tidbits about heating, cooling, plumbing and indoor air quality maintenance.

Cooling Tips For Your Home

The thought of summer brings to mind a trip to the beach or spending time by the pool with a cold drink. However, summer can also mean mercury–bursting, sweltering days and night filled with humidity and oppressive heat. On such days, everyone’s first instinct is to set the thermostat as low as possible; however, there are other summer cooling tips for cooling down the home without abusing the electricity bill.

Cooling Tips for Your Home

· One of the most obvious house cooling tips is to keep the sun out. Summer sunshine brings excessive amounts of heat into the house. Therefore, one should keep out the sun and its heat by closing the drapes, shutters, blinds, and windows during the day. In fact, shutters are excellent for both summer and winter since they provide adequate insulation value during the winter season.

· Some people are their own worst enemies when it comes to keeping their home cool in summer. They leave the light on during the day and use appliances that generate a lot of heat when in use. The best remedy for this is to turn off all unnecessary lighting or swap the heat–producing bulbs for compact fluorescent light bulbs, and use appliances during the cooler parts of the day.

· When looking at tips to stay cool in summer, one must address the subject of fans. It is important to make good use of all types of fans including ceiling fans, attic fans, and box fans. It is significantly cheaper to run a fan than it is to run the air conditioning unit. In addition, running a fan together with the air conditioner can produce excellent results and help in reducing utility costs.

· It is possible to cool a home by strategically opening windows depending on the direction the wind is blowing. When wind blows against the house, it produces a high–pressure area where it hits and a low–pressure area on the opposite side. Therefore, opening windows on both sides of the house will create a breeze as the air moves through the house.

Experts recommend scheduling a maintenance inspection to analyze and maintain the efficiency and performance of the air conditioning system.