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My Plumber - Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioner Blog - Archive for November 2010

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Posted on Monday, November 29, 2010 7:55:10 PM

Your home is closed tight against the outside chill and the furnace clicks on and off. Running at intervals it is designed to keep your home at a steady temperature. Your home is warm; you are cozy and safe from the wicked cold that whistles past your windows. You don’t realize it yet, but your warm, safe cocoon is slowly poisoning you and your family to death.

Carbon monoxide is odorless, tasteless and invisible but, according to the CDC (Center for Disease Control) it is responsible for more than 500 deaths and an incredible 15,000 hospital emergency room visits each year. Carbon monoxide is an insidious thief that steals the health, mental and emotional well being of those who are unlucky enough to inhale it. If it is not detected, carbon monoxide will steal the very life from its victims.
The most common cause for carbon monoxide poisoning is a malfunctioning automobile exhaust system, or a non-electric heat source in a home with an obstructed or malfunctioning exhaust system. Poisonings are most common during power outages when people use electric generators or drag their gas grill indoors and use them in an attempt to stay warm. However health professionals and first responders never forget that gas powered home heating systems can have a cracked heat exchanger. A cracked heat exchanger can cause a most terrible case of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Carbon monoxide poisoning is exhibited through flu-like symptoms…headache, nausea and fatigue are all common. These can be followed by shortness of breath and impaired judgment.   Like heat, carbon monoxide rises, so a slow poisoning from a small crack in a heat exchanger will affect those who spend the most time in the home or who sleep on the highest level of the home, then affect other family-members later.   A major crack in the heat exchanger can put a whole family in a fight for their very lives in a single night.
A yearly cleaning and examination of a gas heating system will reveal a crack in the heat exchanger as well as optimize operations of a home heating system. Convincing people, that they need a pre-season checkup on their heating system, however, can prove difficult. Convincing them that a byproduct of their gas heating system is escaping into their homes and that it will kill them, is even more difficult; but it is an argument that HVAC technicians know that they can’t lose. After all lives are at stake.

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A Thanksgiving Reminder

Posted on Monday, November 22, 2010 9:43:30 PM


Thanksgiving Day is here and you have 12 guests due at dinner. The turkey is in the oven, potatoes are mashed and the green bean casserole is ready for its debut. Everything is running smoothly in the kitchen when you decide to dispose of some celery and carrot peelings to get them out of your way and all heck breaks loose, at your house.
Among the food items that should never be processed through the average home garbage disposal are fibrous vegetables like celery strings, carrot peelings and onion skins. Other foods that your garbage disposal should never be introduced to include anything greasy and starches (like rice and potatoes). Fibers can wrap around the blades, jamming the garbage disposal, fat can coat the pipes as can starches, worse they can attract small tidbits of this and that and glue them to the ever increasing restriction in the pipes, setting  your kitchen drain line up for a clog.
As you prepare for Thanksgiving keep in mind the fact that your garbage disposal, like anything else, has its limits.
·         Before you start working in the kitchen, run a tray of ice through the garbage disposal to clean and sharpen the blades.
·         Throw a lemon in afterwards to cut grease build-up and further clean the blades.
·         Avoid filling the hopper with large quantities of food waste; small batches are more easily processed by your garbage disposal.
·         Avoid pouring grease down your drain.
·         Don’t process potatoes, rice, food peelings, onions, carrots, celery, and any fibrous, greasy or starchy food through the garbage disposal. 
·         Run cold water, not hot when processing food waste and continue to let the water run for at least 10 seconds after you have processed the food.
Keep these things in mind as you prepare for Thanksgiving and you probably won’t have a problem in your kitchen drain that needs a plumber to solve over the holiday. And from those of us at My Plumber Heating and Cooling to all of you in Fairfax, Alexandria, Leesburg, Potomac, Laurel and Annapolis have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and friends.         

Food on the Table

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A Question About Our Service

Posted on Friday, November 19, 2010 3:36:09 PM

A gentleman from Accokeek Md. recently wrote to us and asked:


I am unhappy with the company that I currently have a heating and A/C repair contract with.  I was wondering if you offered contracts that for an annual fee provided a heating inspection in the fall and an A/C inspection in the spring and provided a reduced cost for repairs.  We have been with the same company for 8 years however the technicians they have been providing have been doing substandard work of late that resulted in our system failing 2 weeks after the inspection 3 times in a row, all due to missing problems.  We are looking for a new and reliable company to provide all services for our systems.


Our Answer


Sir, we have the kind of program you are asking about, with some pretty incredible side benefits. Our Priority Club offers three preventive checks a year, one for each of your systems (heating, cooling and plumbing) in addition to a fantastic bundle of services and perks available only to you, as a Priority Club member.
Some of these services include:
·         Extended Same Day Service Hours – Call before 2PM Monday – Friday and before 10AM Saturday and Sunday
·         Waive the Plumbing Dispatch Fee
·         Double your Discounts, up to $200
·         Concierge Service! Each member gets a concierge phone number to call, and receive Priority service
·         Over $2,200 in Coupon Savings – available only to Priority Club members
You can look at our Priority Club online at our website.   The address is   and if you have any questions our customer service agents will be happy to help you at 1-866-469-7586


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Keeping Baby Safe in the Bathroom

Posted on Monday, November 15, 2010 6:06:47 PM


It happens: a young parent steps out of the bathroom and leaves the baby sitting in a tub of water “for just a minute”. The result is a tragedy from which that parent will never recover. 
Somehow we always think, that can never happen to me but each year babies and toddlers continue to suffer burns and drown in horrible accidents that were preventable. My Plumber Heating and Cooling would like to remind readers of some basic safety rules that can protect babies and toddlers from plumbing-related accidents in the home; specifically, hot water burns and drowning.
  • The law requires manufacturers of home water heaters to set the thermostat at 120°F. The reason for this requirement is because babies, the elderly and some people with disabilities burn easily or react slowly. Water temperatures above 120°F can scald in a matter of seconds. Homeowners can save on their energy bills and reduce the risk of scalding accidents by setting the thermostat on their water heater to 120°F.
  • Don’t leave standing water in a bathtub or a bucket; a toddler or baby can drown in as little as an inch of water. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, drowning is the second-leading cause of accidental death among 1-4 year olds, and the fifth leading cause of accidental death in infants under one year of age.
  • Keep toilet lids closed and consider using clamps to keep top-heavy toddlers from leaning over an open bowl and falling in.
  • Never leave a baby or a small child alone in the bathtub, even in a safety seat. Safety seats are not foolproof and it can take less than ninety seconds for a child to drown.
  • Face babies and toddlers away from the faucet during baths so they cannot grab a hot water spout or turn on the hot water. Consider installing a shower safety tap. This is a clear box that attaches around the shower tap to prevent children from turning on the water and burning themselves.
            Accidents involving babies or toddlers are heartbreaking – even more so when they could have been prevented. We hope that by writing about the safety rules listed above, accidents will be avoided, and readers will be galvanized to put into practice the safety measures necessary to protect small children in their homes.

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Getting Ready for Winter

Posted on Thursday, November 11, 2010 5:57:05 PM


Preparing for a Hard Winter
Winterizing Your Outside Plumbing System
Northern Va. and Suburban Md. - “If the cool, crisp days of autumn are upon us,” said Mark Presgrave of My Plumber Heating and Cooling recently, “it stands to reason that freezing rain, sleet and snow will soon follow.  It is time to winterize your outside hose bibs to protect your home from a burst water supply pipe.”
There are frost-proof Hose bibs and non frost-proof hose bibs.  The easiest way to identify the difference is by the location of the handle.  If the handle is on top of the faucet, it is probably not frost-proof.  If the faucet continues to drain for a few seconds after it is turned off, it probably is frost-proof.  Both types of hose bibs need to be winterized for full protection against a burst pipe causing a plumbing leak, during a hard freeze.
First, disconnect the hose and any timer or other device attached to the hose bib.  Then locate the shut-off valve (inside the house) for the hose bib and turn it off to interrupt the water supply.  Back outside, simply open the faucet and let it drain completely.  This simple act of prevention, which takes just a few minutes, can protect a home from serious water damage caused by a frozen, broken water pipe.
For more information regarding this plumbing alert or further information about My Plumber Heating and Air, please visit their website at  To contact My Plumber Heating and Air, e-mail

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* - Weather permitting, call before 12 noon Monday - Friday. Call for weekend availability. Priority service calls only.