Top 7 Things That Will Damage Your Septic System

toilet not trash can

Whether you have a sewer or septic system, it’s important to know what not to send down your drains.
Flushing items that aren’t biodegradable down your drain has the potential to damage your septic system, but there are seven types of items that are particularly harmful to your septic system:

Drain Cleaners & Other Chemicals

While household drain cleaners might boast powerful cleaning capabilities, they often cause more harm than good, so it’s better to just call for professional drain cleaning.
Antibacterial cleaners can work against your septic tank, which uses good bacteria to break down waste and keep your system running smoothly.

In addition to liquid drain cleaners, homeowners should avoid flushing other heavy chemicals, such as:

  • Household cleaners
  • Gasoline
  • Insect or weed killers

Sending any harsh chemicals or cleaners down your drain won’t just harm your septic system. It can also contaminate your soil and water supply. Dispose of these chemicals safely and use eco-friendly products whenever possible.

Flushable Wipes

Even though the label reads “flushable,” you should never send cotton wipes down your drains. Wipes are not biodegradable and will build up over time, clogging your septic system and causing severe plumbing problems.

Avoid putting other cotton-based products down your drains for the same reason, including:

  • Tampons and sanitary napkins
  • Cotton balls and swabs
  • Diapers
  • Paper towels

Grease, Fat & Oil

Grease and oil don’t break down like water and waste. Pouring grease down the drain will only end in a clog, making it difficult for anything to pass through safely. You could also risk a sewer line clog resulting in sewage backup that wreaks havoc on your system.

Instead of sending grease, fats, and oils down your drain, pour these materials into a can where they can safely solidify and be thrown in the garbage. You can also wipe your pans clean with a paper towel to ensure they are free of any greasy debris that could clog your drains.

Cat Litter

If you have a cat at home, don’t make the costly mistake of flushing litter down the drain. Most cat litter expands in liquid, making it extremely dangerous to flush down the drain.

You shouldn’t even flush biodegradable and flushable kitty litter. It’s not worth the risk to your septic system!


You shouldn’t flush pills, capsules, or liquid medication down your drains either.

These materials won’t just clog your drains and pipes but can also corrode your system over time. Dispose of medications properly by throwing them away in the trash.

Food Waste

Sending food items down your drains is never a good idea. If your home relies on a septic tank, even using a garbage disposal can end up causing problems for your system. While any food waste is risky, the following items are particularly hazardous:

  • Coffee grounds
  • Starchy foods, such as rice, potatoes, etc.
  • Fibrous foods, such as broccoli, celery, etc.
  • Eggshells


Anything you’d typically throw in the garbage should not be flushed down your drains. This includes anything from cigarette butts to dental floss and contact lenses.

When in doubt, opt for the trash can instead of your drain pipes. Your septic system will thank you!

When To Contact a Plumber for Septic System Repair or Maintenance

Mistakes happen, and avoiding sending dangerous materials down your drain isn’t always possible.

If you have pesky drain clogs, don’t try to clear them yourself. When you notice signs of multiple drain clogs or sewage backups in your home, it’s time to contact a professional for septic system repair or maintenance.

At Russo Bros. & Co., our plumbers have the skills and experience to resolve even the toughest septic system service requests.

Request hydro jetting or septic system repair or maintenance for your home by contacting our team at (973) 887-1334 today!

6 Signs Your Furnace May Need To Be Replaced

Woman adjusting thermostat

Your home’s furnace is the engine behind ensuring you are warm and comfortable this winter. Take a look at these signs that your furnace is failing.

1. Your Furnace Is Short-Cycling

Your furnace may not always be on, but it shouldn’t be turning on and off without reaching the temperature set on your thermostat.While it could be a simple fix like a clogged air filter, short-cycling can also happen when a furnace is too large for a home.

2. Your Furnace Is More Than 15 Years Old

A furnace’s life span is between 15 and 20 years old. If you’re not the first homeowner, you may need to determine your system’s age using its model number.

Regular maintenance helps to keep your system working efficiently, and an HVAC technician can spot potential problems before they affect your comfort or system reliability.

3. Your Furnace Needs Frequent Repairs

If your furnace seems to need frequent repairs and it’s in the last few years of its life span, it might be worth considering a replacement instead of a repair.

If your furnace repairs cost more than 50% of the price of a new furnace, a new unit is a more cost-effective option.

4. Your Furnace Makes Strange Sounds

Grinding, banging, and rattling sounds are not the sounds of a furnace that’s functioning properly. If your furnace is making strange sounds, it’s time to get an expert to take a look.

  • Clicking can indicate a problem with the igniter.
  • Screeching can indicate a damaged furnace blower motor.
  • Rattling can indicate a loose air duct or other loose components.

5. Your Heating Bills Have Risen Over the Years

If your furnace is aging and not working as efficiently as it could, it may be reflected in your heating bills.

If your furnace is wasting energy, it might be time to replace it with a more energy-efficient unit.

6. You Have Hot & Cold Spots Throughout Your Home

A poorly functioning furnace has a difficult time evenly distributing heat to all rooms of the home.

If you notice drastic temperature changes between different areas of your home, call a professional to evaluate your furnace’s performance.

Russo Bros. & Co. Makes Furnace Replacement Easy

If you’re unsure if your furnace is up to snuff, call the experts at Russo Bros. & Co.

Our company is backed by generations of experience, and our trained HVAC professionals have helped many Northern New Jersey homeowners with all their heating needs.

Call (973) 887-1334 or contact us online to request quality furnace replacement from our team.

4 Fall HVAC Maintenance Tasks That Affect Energy Efficiency & Comfort

As you pack up your summer wardrobe and eye that cozy sweater, your heating and cooling systems are finally getting a breather. Fall is that sweet spot for your HVAC system between summer’s cooling demands and winter’s warming needs.
Early fall is the best time for an HVAC system check and seasonal heating maintenance. If you want to see a real difference in your HVAC performance, you should:

Change the Air Filter

Your air conditioning has been cranking all summer, and your filter has kept pollutants, allergies, and dirt from circulating in your indoor air.

While filters can often last up to 90 days, early fall is a great time to start with fresh, clean filters to move into the winter season.

It not only improves indoor air quality, but a clean air filter will also improve the energy efficiency of your HVAC system.

Clean Around Your Outdoor Unit

Your exterior compressor can take quite a beating over the summer. Summer storms can drop branches and other debris onto your outdoor unit. And summer growth can infringe upon the unit’s ability to run properly.

The outdoor unit should have about a 3-foot buffer free of landscaping and other debris.

Start the fall by ensuring your outdoor compressor unit is unentangled by growth or other landscaping. Then, use a blower to brush off grass clippings or fallen leaves.

Secure an Energy Audit

Before turning on that heat, now is a great time to determine where your home might have energy leaks.

You can do your own energy audit to identify cracked caulk around doors and windows and check if your home’s insulation meets standards. All these issues can make your HVAC system work harder than it needs to.

If you want to take your energy assessment ever further, hire a professional to conduct a formal energy audit to determine where you can improve your home’s energy efficiency.

Schedule HVAC Maintenance

Routine maintenance helps identify any issues with your HVAC system quickly and prevents small problems from evolving into bigger ones.

Hire a professional to complete annual HVAC maintenance in early fall. If an expert identifies a problem, you can conveniently schedule a fix rather than waiting for a system breakdown and paying for an emergency repair.

During a system check, your technician will:

  • Clean condenser coils
  • Change the air filter
  • Clear vents
  • Clean out the condensate drain tube
  • Realign bent or crushed fan blades
  • Recalibrate the thermostat
  • Inspect wiring
  • And more!

Call Russo Bros. & Co. for a Fast & Effective HVAC Tune-Up

Fall is a great time to get back into your routine; HVAC maintenance should be part of that.

At Russo Bros. & Co., we can ensure your HVAC system is still in good shape after keeping you cool all summer and is ready to keep your home just as comfortable this winter.

An early fall HVAC system check is the best way to extend your HVAC system’s life and avoid costly repairs.

Call (973) 887-1334 or contact us online today to schedule expert HVAC maintenance in Livingston, Short Hills, Chatham, South Orange, or the surrounding areas!

Your Home’s Dehumidifier Helps Take the Sweat Out of Summer

Closeup of condensation on window

You know that sticky feeling you get when you walk outside on a humid day? You should never feel that way when you’re inside your home!
A properly functioning air conditioning system and a dehumidifier are the keys to reducing high humidity in your home. Let’s look at what a dehumidifier does and how it works.

What’s the Problem With Having High Humidity Levels in Your Home?

High humidity is one of the leading causes of mold and mildew growth in your home.

In addition to the high humidity causing unsafe indoor air quality, high humidity can make it feel warmer in your home than it is, causing you to crank up the AC and drive up your cooling costs. This can also cause your air conditioner to work overtime and fail.

Using a dehumidifier can help to reduce the amount of moisture in the air and increase the comfort level of your home.

What Are Signs My Home Has High Humidity?

In addition to feeling that sticky, heavy air, you can look for the following signs that your indoor humidity is too high:

  • Mold or mildew in the bathroom
  • Condensation on windows in the winter
  • Peeling or cracking paint on interior or exterior finishes
  • Rotting wood inside your home
  • Mold growth on the ceiling

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, indoor humidity levels should stay between 30% to 50%. You can find humidity gauges at your local home improvement store to check your home’s exact humidity level.

How Does a Dehumidifier Work?

All dehumidifiers work by using a fan. A dehumidifier pulls in the moist air from the home and runs it over cold coils or an evaporator to condense the moisture out of the air and collect it in a drip tray.

The dehumidifier uses a condenser coil to bring the air back to room temperature, and a fan blows it back into the room.

How Can I Balance My Home’s Humidity Levels?

If your home’s AC is working properly, it should ensure you have acceptable humidity levels in your home. It’s important to perform preventative air conditioner maintenance to detect any issues that might make it less effective.

A whole-home dehumidifier can be a great option for homes with a humidity issue. This system will monitor your home’s humidity levels and turn on a humidifier or dehumidifier as needed.

Whole-Home vs. Portable Dehumidifiers

Whole-house dehumidifiers can be more effective and efficient than single-room dehumidifiers. This is a permanent and separate system to your AC unit, and you should talk to an HVAC professional before investing in a whole-home dehumidifier.

Portable room dehumidifiers are single units that can be easily set up and moved from room to room as warranted. On the downside, these units are often a bit noisy and unsightly, and the condensation pan that collects the water from the air will need to be emptied frequently.

Choose Russo Bros. & Co. for Whole-Home Dehumidifier Installation

Controlling your home’s humidity is not just about comfort — it’s about maintaining healthy indoor air quality in your home. Russo Bros. & Co. has helped New Jersey homeowners tackle humidity issues in their homes for over 65 years.

Call us at (973) 887-1334 or contact us online today for all your AC repair, maintenance, installation, and replacement needs.

Strange Sounds Coming From Your Outside AC Unit? Here’s What You Need To Do

Closeup of outdoor AC unit fan

They are the sounds of summer — birds chirping, barbecues sizzling, lawn mowers roaring, and your outside AC unit making screeching and banging sounds.
If you hear a few summer sounds that don’t belong, don’t just ignore them. Let’s look at five strange noises that your outside AC unit can make and what they can mean.


You may want to ignore this clanking noise, but it may indicate an issue with a loose part, such as the compressor or fan blades.

Turn off the system and call an expert to investigate the noise and solution.


If you hear a screeching noise when you turn on your fan, but then the sounds stop, it may indicate the fan motor bearings are worn out.

While seasonal maintenance would assure that these bearings are properly lubricated, you could lubricate the bearings yourself to troubleshoot the problem.

Be sure to disconnect electrical power to the outdoor condenser before beginning any work on the unit.

If you are unsure that this is the cause of the noise or you are uncomfortable making this repair, get a professional to inspect your fan motor for a replacement or repair.


Buzzing sounds from your exterior unit could mean a few different things:

  • It could be caused by an electrical issue affecting the fan motor.
  • It could be caused by an electrical issue affecting the compressor.
  • It could be a sign your outdoor fan is going bad.

These issues all require the expertise of a professional to resolve the problem.


Your AC system uses refrigerant that is under pressure to cool your home.

When there is a refrigerant leak somewhere in the system, the refrigerant can create a hissing sound as it escapes through cracks in the pipes.

Even though newer AC units use environmentally friendly R-410 A or Puron refrigerant, homeowners should never handle a refrigerant issue.


Are you hearing the plop-plop sound of water dripping? It could simply mean you need to empty your AC drip pan.

However, the dripping could also be a sign of a frozen coil melting. Coils can freeze because of a dirty air filter or a malfunctioning thermostat.

While not an emergency, it’s a good idea to call a professional to ensure your system doesn’t have an underlying issue.

Call Russo Bros. & Co. for Air Conditioning Repairs & Tune-Ups

At Russo Bros. & Co., we can investigate all your AC problems and let you get back to enjoying the sounds of summer.

We are proud to be New Jersey’s go-to source for AC repair and maintenance services.

Call (973) 887-1334 or contact us online for a team with generations of HVAC expertise.

Five Reasons Why Your AC Won’t Turn On & Troubleshooting Tips To Fix It

man standing in residential hallway adjusting thermostat on the wall

You’ve seen the weather forecast, and you’re prepared for the hot temperatures, but it seems your air conditioner didn’t get the memo. Let’s look at some common reasons why your AC won’t turn on and share some tips to fix it.

Dirty Filter

One of the most common reasons an AC fails to function properly is because of dirty filters. Filters work to remove dust and other particles in the air to improve indoor air quality and the efficiency of your system. If your filter is dirty, it can disrupt your AC system. If your AC system fails to turn on, check your filters.

Broken Thermostat

Your thermostat gives your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system the order to turn on and off. If your thermostat has an issue, that communication doesn’t transmit to the system. Older thermostats might have a problem with frayed or damaged wiring, the batteries might be dead, or they could be malfunctioning in another way. A bad thermostat can be a reason why your AC won’t turn on. Try resetting the thermostat, replacing the batteries, or replacing an outdated thermostat with a new programmable version.

Electrical Issue

Summer heat can also mean storms that bring power outages and surges. If you have had a violent storm and your AC won’t turn on, it might be an issue with your home’s circuit breaker. Check to see if an electrical issue has tripped a circuit breaker in your home. A tripped circuit breaker can be the reason why your AC won’t turn on.

Dirty Evaporator Coils & Condensation Lines

Your AC unit is not immune to the dust and dirt in your home. Too much buildup of dust and dirt on your evaporator coils, condenser, or filter within your air conditioner can cause it to fail. Condenser lines can get a buildup of mold and algae or could also become the winter home for critters. Regular maintenance of your HVAC system prevents this buildup. At Russo Bros. & Co., we offer no-hassle annual maintenance, so you will stay on top of maintaining your HVAC system.

Refrigerant Leak

Refrigerant acts as the coolant for your AC system. When it is low because of an insufficient coolant charge or leaking, your system might not turn on properly. Adding refrigerant or diagnosing a leak isn’t something a homeowner should tackle. This issue is best left to a trained technician.

Since 1954, the Russo Bros. & Co. team has helped keep our New Jersey neighbors cool and comfortable. If your AC system won’t turn on and you’ve tried to troubleshoot the problem with no success, call the Russo Bros. & Co. experts at 973-887-1334 to restore your comfort.

How Do You Know When It’s Time to Repair or Replace Your AC Unit?

With the increase of time spent in your home and the need for optimal efficiency of your utilities, it’s important to become familiar with how well your HVAC unit is operating. The warmer months are approaching and you’ll want to ensure that any AC maintenance or replacement is taken care of now to ensure your family is comfortable this summer.

We recommend all units be serviced for maintenance on an annual basis to ensure maximum efficiency and minimal repair costs. When a unit has reached a certain age, however, it is likely that a replacement of the system is on the horizon. Here are some signs to look for in determining if your AC unit is due for general maintenance or replacement:

AC Maintenance

  • Your AC is less than 10 years old
  • Your AC is already properly sized for your home or office
  • Repair costs are low
  • Very few breakdowns

AC Replacement

  • Your AC is more than 10 years old
  • Damage to the coil, condenser, compressor, or blower motor
  • Repair costs are high
  • Frequent breakdowns

Newer equipment not only has a fantastic warranty but can save you money on your monthly utility bills. Poor performing HVAC systems can cost you more than just money on your bills, they can affect the air quality in your home. Older equipment will have outdated parts that can be hard to get or don’t exist anymore. It is better to be proactive than to be left in the heat.

So, whether you need a tune-up, repair or replacement, Russo Bros. is always here to help. With over 68 years of experience servicing homeowners in New Jersey, Russo Bros. offers same day service and best-in-class technicians to ensure your home is taken care of in a timely, professional manner. Call today at (973) 887-1334 or schedule online here.