Checking Your HVAC and Plumbing Holiday List

Two women in winter clothing greeting each other indoors.

You’ve made your list and checked it twice, but did you include holiday plumbing and HVAC prep? No matter whether your home is ground zero for holiday festivities or you’re the jolly holiday guest, check out this list of holiday home tips.

Home for the Holidays

Change Your Air Filters

Entertaining is a lot of work, and so is trying to heat your home through dirty air filters. Give your HVAC system the gift of clean air filters so it can work effectively and efficiently.

Enroll in a Preventative Maintenance Plan

You’ll get a real chilly reception from your guests if your heating system stops working. Schedule a preventative maintenance check with an expert who can perform a multipoint inspection to help identify repair needs early and enhance the performance of your home’s HVAC system.

Don’t Run Out of Hot Water

Nothing will get your guest hot under the collar like a cold shower. Chances are your water heater will be working overtime when you’re hosting overnight guests this holiday season. Make sure your water heater is ready.

If you notice your water isn’t as hot as it used to be or your water has a rust color, call a professional to service your water heater before it becomes an emergency.

Be Careful What You Grind

Holiday hosting means there’s a lot of holiday meal prep and cleanup. Now isn’t the time for a garbage disposal backup. Never put fibrous foods, leftover pasta, or grease into your garbage disposal. Use a composting can or throw those items away so your garbage disposal jam doesn’t become the center of attention.

Vacation Mode

Readjust Your Thermostat

You’ve packed your sunscreen, now make sure your thermostat gets a chance to dial it back while you are away. Turn down the temperature in your home about five degrees from its normal setting. This avoids heating the home unnecessarily while you’re away while also providing enough warm air in the home to prevent pipes from freezing.

Turn Off Your Water Main

Nothing will ruin a vacation vibe like getting a call that your home is flooding. Turn off your home’s main shut-off valve and drain the remaining water from your faucets.

Switch Your Water Heater to Vacation Mode

Your water heater doesn’t need to continually have hot water on the ready when no one is home. Switch your system to vacation mode if possible or turn down your water heater temperature.

Drain Your Outside Spigots

Northern New Jersey temperatures can take sudden dips, so even if you leave for vacation on a mild day, don’t bank on it staying that way. Turn off the water to the outdoor spigots and drain them before heading out of town so they don’t freeze and crack.

Choose Russo Bros. & Co. for HVAC & Plumbing Services in Northern New Jersey

This holiday season, you can rely on the professionals at Russo Bros. & Co for all your HVAC and plumbing needs. We work on holidays and are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We know plumbing and HVAC emergencies never take a holiday.

Call (973) 887-1334 now to request HVAC or plumbing services in Northern New Jersey!

Scary HVAC Noises: Witch Noises to Worry About

Woman standing in front of thermostat.

Ghosts and goblins may visit your front door this Halloween, but it’s the strange noises coming from your HVAC system that are most frightful! HVAC issues can be frustrating and expensive, so it’s important that homeowners know what to look for and when to schedule maintenance or repairs.

Check out this list of scary HVAC noises and what they mean.

Knocking

Trick-or-treaters knock on your front door for treats, but it’s no treat if there’s knocking coming from your HVAC system. A knocking or banging sound can mean your HVAC system has a bent blade. Unbalanced or bent fans can do additional damage to your entire HVAC system and should be fixed immediately by an HVAC professional.

Squealing

A high-pitched squealing sound can be the sound of an HVAC motor that needs lubrication. If it isn’t fixed right away, you could have a big fright on your hands. Get an expert to confirm the issue and consider a maintenance program for your furnace, boiler, or heat pump that will ensure these components are ready for duty.

Whistling

Dirty filters can make it sound like there’s a ghost in your walls. The sound is caused by air trying to rush through blocked filters. A simple swap for clean filters can put that ghostly noise in the grave once and for all.

Buzzing

A buzzing sound from your unit can be caused by a few different things, from an electrical issue to a failing condenser fan. A professional technician can determine what the buzz is all about.

Clicking

A repetitive clicking noise can mean there’s an issue with the HVAC relay process or thermostat, which is the command center for the system. If you hear a simple soft clicking sound intermittently, that sound is your thermostat telling your HVAC unit to kick in.

Banging

If your heating system is just firing up for the first time, your ductwork might make a banging noise as the cold metal ductwork expands from the warm air passing through. The sound should resolve on its own as the system continues to push warm air through. If the sound persists or comes from a different area, it’s time to call an HVAC professional.

Choose Russo Bros. & Co. for HVAC Services in Northern New Jersey

Halloween is full of scary sounds. However, you don’t need to stress about the frightful sounds coming from your HVAC system. The professionals at Russo Bros. & Co. can make sure your HVAC system doesn’t leave you in the cold this fall and winter.

Call us at (973) 887-1334 today to request HVAC maintenance or repair services in Essex, Morris, Union, or Passaic County.

How to Maintain Your Sump Pump & Why You Need a Backup Sump Pump

Close-up of rain falling on the corner of a roof and gutters.

In quick thunderstorms or all-day downpours, your home’s sump pump is the first line of defense for your home when it comes to flooding. Follow these sump pump maintenance tips to prevent problems and protect your home. Then, learn why you should invest in a backup sump pump.

Check Your Sump Pump’s GFCI Electrical Connection

Your sump pump relies on uninterrupted power from a GFCI electrical connection to ensure it works properly. If your sump pump is malfunctioning, check this connection first.

Clean the Sump Pump Grate

Debris in the grate can clog the system and prevent it from working correctly. If you see debris, remove the submersible pump from the sump pump pit and clean the grate at the bottom of the unit.

Check the Discharge Line

Debris or clogs can prevent the pump from easily expelling the water, causing it to work harder and reduce its life span. Water should be drained at least 20 feet from your foundation. If your sump pump isn’t draining water properly, check for debris in the discharge line.

Look for a Leaning Sump Pump

A sump pump that is leaning isn’t working efficiently and can create extra vibrations when in use. Do a visual check of the sump pump to make sure it isn’t tilted or leaning.

Perform a Manual Test

Perform a manual test of the sump pump so you can inspect the components and check for inconsistencies in its operation. Call a plumber for repairs if the sump pump doesn’t turn on or doesn’t clear the water properly.

Should I Have a Sump Pump Backup System?

Your sump pump should automatically turn on when there’s excessive rain, rapidly melting snow, or a high water table. A backup sump pump system is insurance in case your sump pump fails. Backup sump pumps are available in either battery- or water-powered versions.

The battery-powered system is installed directly into the sump basin and can run for as long as the battery is charged. A water-powered backup sump pump uses the pressurized water from your home to draw water out of the sum basin. It isn’t limited by a battery charge but can be more costly to install and requires a home that receives a municipal water supply.

Choose Russo Bros. & Co. for Sump Pump Services in Northern New Jersey

Properly maintaining and testing your sump pump is an easy way to avoid the water damage that can happen quickly with sump pump failure. The expert plumbers at Russo Bros. & Co. can provide you with same-day sump pump repair and replacement for your New Jersey home. We can also help you determine which sump pump backup system is right for your home.

Contact us online or call (973) 887-1334 now to schedule sump pump services in Northern New Jersey!

Late Summer AC Issues and Fixes

A woman relaxing on a white couch with her hands behind her head.

Your air conditioning system has been working hard all summer to keep your family comfortable. However, that pressure can take its toll on your HVAC system. Take a look at these late summer common HVAC issues and what you can do about them.

Clogged Filters

Your system has been pushing air through your vents all summer long. Dust, pollen, and pet dander can get caught up in your vent filters, making your system work harder. While a good rule of thumb is to change your home’s air filters every three months, it’s a good idea to change your air filters even more frequently in summer to help your air conditioning system do its job more efficiently.

Refrigerant Leaks

High demand during the summer can put strain on your HVAC system, and a system that hasn’t been well-maintained, or is more than 10 years old, can be subject to small leaks.

Leaking refrigerant can cause your AC to lose its cooling power and be less energy-efficient. A professional AC technician can locate the source of your HVAC leak, fix it, and refill your refrigerant. For larger leaks, you may need to replace your AC unit.

Failing Capacitors

Nothing will short-circuit your cooling system like a problem with your AC’s capacitor. The capacitor ensures the system has the correct voltage to run the compressor and fans. Demand and high temperatures can cause your system’s capacitor to fail.

If your AC is blowing warm air or you hear a humming noise coming from the access panel of the condenser unit, it could mean that your capacitor is failing. A trained AC technician can diagnose late summer HVAC issues and repair them quickly.

Frozen Coils

When it’s sweltering outside, it seems unlikely that the cause of your AC issue is ice! However, if your AC unit has a frozen evaporator coil, it can freeze up the system. Low refrigerant levels, blocked registers, clogged drainpipes, or dirty evaporator coils can create a layer of ice on the unit and stress the system.

To troubleshoot these issues:

  • Turn off your AC unit if the temperature outside is mild enough, and wait up to 24 hours to see if the coils thaw themselves.
  • Check for dirty filters that could be adding stress to the system.
  • Turn on the fan-only setting on your AC unit, which will force warm air over the coils to help with thawing.
  • Slowly blow air over the coils using a hair dryer on the lowest setting. Keep a distance and go about the thawing process slowly to avoid cracking a frozen coil.
  • Call a professional to maintain the system.

Evaporator coils should be free of dust and dirt. An AC technician can clean and maintain your AC system to ensure it works effectively and efficiently all summer.

Choose Russo Bros. & Co. for AC Services in Northern New Jersey

When late summer heating demands put your AC system to the test, the professionals at Russo Bros. & Co. can ensure it’s up to the task. Our team has provided fast, reliable AC repair and professional maintenance and tune-ups to homeowners for more than 65 years.

Call us at (973) 887-1334 today to request same day emergency air conditioning services.

3 Ways to Unclog Your Toilet

Closeup of a hand lifting a toilet seat

Nothing will kick your reflexes into high gear more than a toilet getting ready to overflow! Here are some quick actions you can take to stem the tide.

Unclog Your Toilet Using a Plunger

When your toilet is stopped up, your first instinct is to grab a plunger. Great plan! A plunger is the first line of defense for unclogging your toilet.

  1. Make sure there is at least some water in the bowl. You may need to add water manually if there isn’t enough to cover the rim of the plunger cup.
  2. Lower the plunger into the toilet bowl at an angle so the cup fills with as much water as possible.
  3. Cover the toilet drain hole so the flange is inside the hole and the rest of the plunger completes a seal around it.
  4. Using a push and pull motion to create a vacuum. This might take five to seven thrusts.
  5. Pull the plunger out and repeat until the bowl empties itself.
  6. Flush the toilet. If it operates normally, you have cleared the clog.
  7. If it is still clogged, stop the water from overflowing by closing the flapper inside the tank.
  8. Continue to plunge until the toilet is clear.

Unclog Your Toilet Using a Toilet Auger

Sometimes a toilet can become clogged by items other than toilet paper that were mistakenly flushed.

A toilet auger is like a drain snake and can be used to dislodge a clog near the toilet drain’s surface. It’s important to use a specific auger for toilets that has a protective sleeve to keep it from scratching the toilet’s porcelain surface.

  1. Put on gloves and insert the toilet auger curved section into the drain hole.
  2. Crank the cable of the auger into the toilet drain slowly for it to be effective.
  3. Reverse the crank to gradually feed the back until the handle is against the top of the auger tube.
  4. If you feel resistance, you may have reached the clog.
  5. Rotate the handle and pull backward to remove the auger cable from the toilet.
  6. Flush the toilet to test if the clog has been resolved.
  7. You can repeat the process if the clog persists.

Unclog your Toilet Using Hot Water

In some cases, a minor clog can be cleared with hot water. However, you shouldn’t use boiling water.

Pour the hot water into the bowl and flush to see if the heat of the water resolved the clog. If the clog persists, add a bit of dish soap. It can act as a lubricant to move the clog along.

Call Russo Bros. & Co. for Drain Cleaning If You Can’t Clear The Clog

Overflowing and stopped-up toilets can create a panic, but having the tools to deal with the situation can get things flowing again quickly.

If you have a persistent clogging issue or a tough clog to resolve, let the experts at Russo Bros. & Co. provide the professional drain cleaning you need.

We’re available at your first sign of a plumbing problem, including overflowing toilets, poor water pressure, clogged drains, and more. Make our team your first and last call for emergency plumbing services in Northern New Jersey!

Schedule drain cleaning online or call Russo Bros. & Co. at (973) 887-1334 today.

The Dirtiest Items in Your Kitchen & How to Clean Them

Kitchen sink with cleaning gloves and sponge

It’s pretty obvious when your bathroom needs cleaning or your furniture needs dusting, but did you know it is just as important to clean some of the hardest working parts of your kitchen—your garbage disposal, dishwasher, and drains?

Tips to Clean Your Dishwasher

Your high-efficiency dishwasher saves you money by reducing the water used and energy needed to heat it. It deserves a little TLC to make sure it runs at its best.

Check out these three easy steps to clean your dishwasher so it can return the favor:

  1. Give the outside of your dishwasher a thorough cleaning: Soap and water will do for dishwashers with plastic fronts. Most manufacturers suggest specialty cleaning products for stainless steel dishwashers.
  2. Clean the dishwasher filter: Scraps of food get caught up in the dishwasher filter instead of pushing them through the drain for quieter performance. The filter is usually located on the bed of the dishwasher and can be unscrewed easily and then rinsed using the spray nozzle of your faucet and brushed with a sponge.
  3. Run a dish rinse aid or dishwasher cleaning agent: This simple step will remove the odors and discolorations that can build up in your dishwasher over time. Experts recommend doing this monthly.

How to Sanitize the Sink Spray Nozzle

You likely clean your sink basin and faucet handle but neglect your sink sprayer. Over time hard water and the minerals in it can build up on your spraying affecting its ability to work.

You can easily clean your sink sprayer by filling a bowl with white vinegar and warm water. Dip clean micro cloths into the mix and wipe down the nozzle hose. Then, using a clean cloth, dry off the vinegar from the hose and repeat the steps, this time scrubbing the nozzle.

Use a toothbrush to best clean stubborn spots and clogged spray holes. Consider allowing the spray nozzle to soak overnight in a water and vinegar mixture.

Wipe down the components with a clean cloth to finish the job.

How to Clean Your Garbage Disposal

You put food waste down the disposal, and it’s out of sight, out of mind, but odors and germs can linger on the blades and other parts of your disposal.

To clean your disposal:

  1. Turn off the power to the unit and unplug it if possible.
  2. Clean the rubber splash guard using an old toothbrush and dish detergent.
  3. Pour ½ cup of baking soda into the disposal. After waiting 30 minutes, pour in 1 cup of vinegar and allow it to sit for a few minutes. Rinse with hot water or a pot of boiling water. Restore power to the unit.
  4. Run the disposal with cold water to flush through

How to Get Rid of Stinky Smell in Your Kitchen Drain

You’ve finished doing the dishes and run the garbage disposal, but there’s a stink lingering in your kitchen drain. Here’s what you can do:

Combine sliced lemon, a couple of tablespoons of salt, and 2 cups of ice. Dump the mix into the garbage disposal and turn it on until it runs freely. The combination will cut the smell and scrub away any food stuck in the unit.

Turn to Russo Bros. & Co. for Your Appliance Service Needs

Your kitchen is one of the busiest rooms in your house and can sometimes be the dirtiest. Broken garbage disposals and clogged kitchen drains can bring your home to a grinding halt.

The experts at Russo Bros. & Co. for all your Northern New Jersey plumbing service needs, including:

Request service online or call (973) 887-1334 now to schedule an appointment for your Northern NJ home.

Is it Too Late for an AC Tune-Up?

Technician maintaining an air conditioner

Lawn mowing, mulching, and spring cleaning—your spring to-do list can get pretty long, so it’s no wonder you put off your annual air conditioning maintenance.

Even if temperatures have called your AC into action, it’s not too late for an AC tune-up! Routine service is important no matter when you schedule it.

What is an AC Tune-Up?

Air conditioning maintenance allows your HVAC technician to inspect and diagnose issues before they become inconvenient problems.

Here is some of what’s included in your inspection:

  • Cleaning condenser coils
  • Inspecting for leaks
  • Cleaning out the condensate drain tube
  • Recalibrating the thermostat
  • Inspecting wires
  • Inspecting and recharging refrigerant levels

Why is an AC Tune-Up Important?

Annual air conditioning maintenance will reduce the impact of regular wear and tear on the unit, ensuring it’s functioning efficiently.

Your technician can spot and repair any issue with your AC so it doesn’t cause a greater problem. Small air conditioning repairs found during the inspection can prevent costly repairs and premature AC replacement.

Your system tune-up will also help your AC run more efficiently, so you can save on your energy bills. In some cases, an annual maintenance contract is a requirement of your system’s warranty.

Schedule Air Conditioning Maintenance with Russo Bros. & Co.

At Russo Bros. & Co., our technicians can provide the peace of mind that your AC starts the season with a full inspection. We offer no-hassle annual maintenance contracts, maintain a full parts inventory, and service most major air conditioner brands.

We can provide the routine maintenance your system needs, whether it’s the start of the spring season or the heat of the summer. It is never too late for a professional AC tune-up from trusted technicians.

Schedule AC service with Russo Bros. & Co. by calling (973) 887-1334 today.