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Frequently Asked Questions About Plumbing, Heating, AC & Electrical Work

Your Questions Answered by Black Diamond

At Black Diamond Plumbing & Mechanical, we understand that HVAC, plumbing, and electrical work may not be second nature to you. Throughout the McHenry and Chicagoland area, we are the experts when it comes to your home servicing needs. Because we are the experts, we hear a lot of questions! While most answers are pretty straight forward, there are some answers that depend on your situation.

Below, we have gathered the most frequently asked questions from our customers as well as answers! If you have a question that is not listed below, feel free to give us a call! We would love to answer your questions about your HVAC, plumbing, or electrical work in your home or office.

Heating & Air Conditioning FAQ

How often should I have my equipment serviced?
In order for your HVAC equipment to run safely and efficiently, your furnace and air conditioner should be inspected once per year. The best scenario is to have the heating system checked in the fall and the air conditioning checked in the spring before the full heating or cooling unit begins.

Why should I have my equipment serviced?
Annual servicing includes cleaning the system, checking for any problems or potential problems and adjusting for peak efficiency. The benefits include:

  • Increased dependability
  • Maximizes efficiency which lowers energy costs
  • Increased life-span of the equipment
  • Maintains a safe operation
  • Reduces the chance of a break-down

How do I know my air conditioner or furnace is working properly?
Is it starting to make noises? Is it cooling and/or heating all areas of the house sufficiently? Have your utility bills gone up for no apparent reason? Has it been taking longer to cool down or heat up the space? Any of these are signs that you may need service to avoid any further serious damage to your system as well as keep your home or business comfortable.

Do I need a maintenance agreement?
Maintenance agreements are an easy and inexpensive way to protect your home or business from sudden failure of your system. You always want to be sure that your system is up and running when you need it on that first hot or cold day of each season! Black Diamond’s maintenance agreements, you will receive two Precision tune-ups each year. Also, as a maintenance agreement customer, you will earn discounts on parts as well.

Although you do not need a maintenance agreement in order to schedule service, we highly recommend you become a maintenance agreement member.

What is Puron?
Puron is the earth friendly “green” coolant that is replacing Freon. Beginning in 2010 Federal law will require that Freon will no longer be produced.

How often should I change my air filter?
Your filter or air cleaner should be inspected and cleaned on a monthly basis. For furnaces with washable filters, the filter should be cleaned the same as the disposable filters, every month.

Should I keep the furnace fan on all the time?
Yes, continuous fan operation costs a little more, but will even out the temperature in your home, especially in multi-level or two story homes. To keep your furnace on, set your thermostat to ON, rather than AUTO.

Where should I set my humidistat?
Turn your humidistat off for the summer, 35% for the winter and adjust as needed. Lower the setting if moisture forms on the windows, and raise the setting for more humidity.

How long will my equipment last?
Depending on usage, maintenance, and the model, your furnace should last 12-15 years. Your air conditioner should last 10-12 years. Give Black Diamond a call if you are unsure if it’s time for a replacement.

Plumbing FAQ

What should I do if my sump pump is running and there is no water in the pit?
This is a common issue that could be caused by a malfunction in the pump or with the float mechanism. Either way, unplug the pump immediately to avoid burning out the motor. Your next step is to call Black Diamond!

My water heater is leaking! What should I do?
This is one of the most common calls we have. Unfortunately, there are many reasons this could happen. The age and “wear and tear” of the heater are the most common factors. Another reason is when the valve on the side of the heater dispenses water. This is a concern because it means that either the temperature or pressure has exceeded the safety parameters. Whatever the reason is, it is important that you act quickly. On most heaters, there are isolation valves for the cold water supply as well as the gas. These should be shut off. If your heater does not have any isolation valves, you will need to shut off the water to the entire house or building. Makes sure to call Black Diamond for plumbing services and we will make sure to get you hot water again!

My water bill is very high. Could this be a plumbing problem?
It very well could be. Although there are many reasons that this could happen, faulty toilets are to blame most of the time. Your outside hose bibs can also be the cause. Call Black Diamond and we will help isolate the issue and get those bills down to normal.

After two showers I run out of hot water. Do I need a new water heater?
A new water heater is certainly an option, but may not be your only option. In a lot of cases, an adjustment or repair can be made. Black Diamond will provide you with all of your options and give our recommendation depending on the age and condition of the heater.

My pipes seem too loud, what should I do?

Pipes that rattle or make loud noises may not be properly secured. Loose pipes can rub against the wall or floor joints and make noises whenever water flows through them. To fix this, if it is bothering you, try to find the source of the problem and then put a piece of foam between the pipe and whatever it’s rubbing against. You can also give Black Diamond a call for professional help.

 

What should I do about a plumbing leak?

A plumbing leak is not a cause for panic, but you do need to act fast to avoid potential damage. First, turn off the main water shutoff valve to stop water from flowing through the pipe. Once the leak has stopped, call Black Diamond. We have emergency plumbing services available for situations just like hits.

My water smells bad. What causes this?

Water that smells like sulfur is not a cause for alarm. While it is disconcerting, it is typically caused by hydrogen sulfide in the water. All water has bacteria and sulfur naturally, and when those react with the magnesium anode rod in the water heater tank, it creates hydrogen sulfide, which is harmless but has a strong odor. Purifying the water coming out of your water heater or replacing the magnesium anode rod can help with this, but you can also leave it as it won’t hurt you. If you need help with this particular problem, let us know!

 

Why does my water look dirty?

Water that doesn’t look clear can be a sign of a problem. If you’re noticing black chunks, then you may have minerals floating in your water. This can also be from algae, resin from the water softener, or degradation of your pipes. Typically these are not harmful, but you can eliminate them by installing a water purification or filtration system. After all, no one wants to drink water that looks like it has stuff floating in it!

My pipes are frozen. What do I do?

Frozen pipes need to be addressed quickly, because if left alone they can burst. If you have a frozen pipe, your goal is to thaw it quickly. If you can reach the pipe, warm it up with a hair dryer or space heater. Before you begin, though, turn off the main water shutoff valve, just in case the pipe is damaged. If you can’t reach the pipe or aren’t sure where it’s frozen, give Black Diamond a call right away. If the pipe is burst, turn off the shutoff and call for emergency plumbing repair.

 

Is a running toilet a bad thing?

A running toilet doesn’t put any system in your home at risk, but it does drive up your energy bills. In fact, you may be paying as much as $100 extra in water bills each year if you have a toilet that’s running. If you can’t figure out how to fix the toilet, give Black Diamond a call to stop this waste.

 

Sewer FAQ

Why do I need an outside access for my sewer?
Most main lines going from your home or business to the city sewer or septic tank are 6 inches in diameter. Most cleanouts, or access points, within the home are 3-4 inches. In addition to being smaller, most cleanouts within the home possess many turns that limits the effectiveness of the rodding machine.

Installing an outside cleanout is the best option, because it provides a full diameter access to the pipe. This way, the blades on the rodding machine have the ability to clean out the entire pipe of roots and other materials. In most cases, rodding from a smaller access will open the line, but will back up sooner than later due to the fact that only part of the pipe was cleaned. Black Diamond can not only rod out your sewer, but also has the equipment to camera the line to see the condition of the pipe. If there is an issue, the device can also pinpoint its location.

What kind of equipment do you have to inspect or clean a sewer?
As mentioned before in an earlier question, our state of the art cameras have the ability to inspect and DVD record a sewer line. In cases where there is a problem, the camera can also pinpoint the location. Every truck is equipped with the best rodding machines available on the market. Black Diamond also has hydro jetting machines that use very powerful streams of water to clean a line. Call Black Diamond today for more information!

How do you get rid of grease in a sewer?
Grease is typical of many of the restaurants that we service. Most of our customers are set up on a maintenance program so that back-ups never become an issue. Because of the nature of grease, the best form of removal is by hydro-jetting. Hydro-jetting is a process that uses high speed and high pressure water to clear blockages in pipe systems. If you are a restaurant where grease is a problem, you can’t afford not to be on a maintenance program! Call Black Diamond today for more information!

When I run my washer, water backs up from my floor drain. What causes this?
Depending on what floor your washing machine is on, there is a good possibility that there is an obstruction in your main sewer line. If multiple fixtures are backing up, that is another good indication. Call Black Diamond day or night and you will be washing clothes in no time!

There is a bad smell near my sump pump. What could be causing this?
Often this could be an indication that there may be a break in your sewer line allowing sewage to seep into your drain tile. Using our sophisticated camera equipment, Black Diamond can inspect your main sewer line to see if this is indeed the issue.

Is there a solution for my basement flooding?
Whether or not you have a finished basement, most people keep many things of value down in their basement. Black Diamond has the options and solutions to make flooded basements a thing of the past with the latest technologies. Give Black Diamond a call for more information on our Peak Flow systems and generators.

Electric FAQ

Why do I need a generator?

As more & more businesses and residential areas are added to the electrical grid, the amount of power available is spread thinner and thinner. This creates more and more power outages or partial outages. A generator can protect your home and family in case this happens by supplying stand by power to your crucial systems like, security, furnaces, sump pumps, and refrigerators. With our intense storms in Illinois, you can’t afford to go without a generator.

I keep blowing fuses. What could be the problem?
If you still have fuses then you are probably living in an older home. These older electrical systems were not designed for the amount of power that is required to run today’s “Hi-tech” world. The more equipment we plug in, the bigger the demand we put on an older, fragile electrical system, and eventually the insulation breaks down, and becomes brittle due to overheating. This creates a fire hazard and possibly putting your family and your home in jeopardy. Before this happens to you, call us for an inspection of your electrical system today.

When I turn on my air conditioner, the lights go dim. What is going on?
This is usually caused by the air conditioner and the large amount of electricity that is needed to start such a large appliance. When the unit turns on, the current draw is so great in your panel, that there is not enough for all of the other devices that are running at the same time. Most of the time the dimming is so quick that it usually is not that noticeable. Other times lights will dim slowly and not return to full power for few seconds. When this happens, it is time to have the electrical system inspected as soon as possible by a qualified electrician. A hot summer day is not the time to find out that your electrical system cannot handle the load. That wouldn’t be cool.

Can I add more breakers to my existing panel?
In most cases, yes. It all depends on the amount of circuit breakers the panel is designed to have. Most panels depending on the size of the service has anywhere from 24 to 40 circuits. Adding a circuit in a panel that is already maxed out, sometimes involves adding a sub-panel or enlarging the entire service. Anytime you require electrical work to be done, give us a call day or night, otherwise you could be shocked at the outcome.

I just bought a new flat screen television, what is the best way to protect it?
When you purchase an expensive TV, the last thing you want is the power to fail and damage your new electronic.  Protect it and all of your other electronics. Don’t be fooled by those “power strips” that also say they are surge protectors. Transient Voltage Surge Protection (TVSS) is the most efficient and is not as expensive as it once was. These devices are capable of taking multiple strikes and can last for years. Some even come with Monetary Equipment warranties. So before you buy a power strip, give us a call to install Whole House Protection, it could very well be the best investment you make.

Need to Schedule HVAC, Plumbing, or Electrical Service in McHenry, IL?

If you’re looking for reliable services for your home or business, count on the HVAC, plumbing, and electrical experts at Black Diamond Plumbing & Mechanical. Our family owned business has been repairing, installing, and inspecting units throughout the Chicagoland area for more than 15 years!

To schedule service or to ask a question about your HVAC, plumbing, or electrical needs, give us a call or contact us online!

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