Water Heaters

How do I know if my water heater needs to be replaced?
The life expectancy of a residential water heater is about 8-10 years. Signs there is need of replacement include: • An old unit (You can find its exact age by looking for the serial number on the manufacturer’s sticker near the top.) • Rusty water • Not enough hot water • Rumbling and noise • Leaks
What is the best temperature setting for a water heater?
A comfortable setting for the water heater is about 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Manufacturers use this as a pre-setting for new water heaters.
Why does my water heater keep leaking?
Leaks can spring from many different places. The internal tank could have a crack, or a pipe fitting could have become loose. Widespread leaking problems could mean that you need to replace the water heater.
What are the differences between conventional versus tankless water heaters?
Conventional: Minimal maintenance, lower purchase price, and peace of mind Tankless: Required maintenance (must have filter or water softener), gas and venting may need to be upgraded, and there is a higher purchase price

Air Duct Cleaning

Why do I need my air ducts cleaned?
Air ducts are like the lungs in the body because they take air in and let it out. Because dirt and dust accumulate inside ductwork, air ducts need regular cleaning, especially if you have pets or it there are family members with allergies or asthma. There is also an energy savings, since clean air ducts prevent the spread of contaminants that force the system to work harder. Note: Before moving into a new home, consider having the air ducts cleaned, especially if you don’t know if the prior residents had pets.
How does air duct cleaning work?
A cleaning team checks the ductwork’s condition. They look for leaks and cracks and note where there is a dirt buildup. A vacuum system is attached to gather the dust and debris. Electronic brushes are used to remove debris from the ducts’ interior walls. In this way, pollutants, such as pet dander, mold, mildew and dust, can be removed that otherwise contaminate the air you are breathing.
Are there health benefits of having air ducts cleaned?
Yes! Contaminants in your heating ventilation air conditioning system (HVAC) can irritate asthma and allergies. Cleaning ducts eliminates bacteria and fungus, to improve the quality of air your family breathes. Even in a newly-constructed home, the air duct system has been open, and the drywall dust, dirt, carpet fibers, and the like, are swept into your system. Cleaning the ducts is the only way to remove these contaminants.
I was told the ductwork in my home is leaking. How did that happen?
Ductwork can be bumped out of place, crushed, or rodents can even take up residence and disturb connections in the joints. Give leaks quick attention because a leak lets cool air escape, before it ever gets into your indoor space to cool. Use duct tape for an easy fix, but if ductwork is crushed, those pieces will need to be replaced.

Ductless Minisplits

What is a ductless mini-split system?
A ductless mini-split system is an efficient way to add heating and cooling to specific areas of a home or outbuilding. It is a good choice for room additions where extending or installing ductwork is not feasible. They have two components: an interior air-handling unit connected to an outdoor compressor.
What are the advantages of a ductless mini-split system?
Simplicity of installation, no loss of energy through ductwork, and flexibility of the interior design options are all advantages. The indoor unit can be suspended from the ceiling, hung on a wall, flush mounted or could be free standing.
What are the disadvantages of a ductless mini-split system?
The chief disadvantage is cost. Mini-split systems cost 30% more than central systems (without the ductwork). Another disadvantage is the appearance of the indoor unit which seldom has the built-in look of a central system. And, unless the installer is qualified and correctly sizes each indoor unit and judges the best location for installation, the resulting over-sized or incorrectly located air-handlers will cause short-cycling and wasted energy, not to mention poor temperature or humidity control.


Do I need a simple repair or a new toilet?
One of the longer lasting appliances in a home is the toilet. Maintaining this appliance requires that parts will have to be replaced over time. However, with age, most toilets begin to have problems. A replacement, low-flow toilet can benefit the homeowner in water-savings. A complete replacement will not be necessary, however, unless the toilet has a hairline crack or is leaking water.
Why is my toilet “running” (sometimes called “ghost flushing”)?
The toilet is refilling—not actually flushing. The reason is that the flapper has eroded and is not creating a good, water-tight seal. To verify, use food coloring in the toilet tank to see if the color will leak out into the bowl.
Why is there a puddle of water around the base of my toilet?
This usually means there is a leak due to a bad seal or gasket. That will require that a new seal be fitted, after the toilet is removed from the floor.
Why does my toilet “gurgle” when I flush it?
This problem means there is air going back up through the toilet which is usually due to a blockage in one of several places—the sewer line, the toilet trap, or the vent stack (where sewer gases escape).
Why is my toilet shaky?
If the bolts are worn that hold the toilet to the floor, that could be the problem. The bolts should be replaced, or the wax ring, or possibly both.
Do I need a plumber to install a bidet?
If you want to have a freestanding bidet, then a plumber will be needed due to the plumbing requirements for a bidet. However, you can install a bidet toilet seat very easily yourself.
Why won’t my toilet flush all the way?
Possible reasons: A clog in the toilet, flange, or drain A problem with the flapper The water level in the tank is set too low There are blocked inlet holes There is a poor toilet drain pipe design


Why does my drain run so slowly?
There is a clog that needs to be removed. You can try running hot water through the drain, but a “snake” will probably be needed to clear the drain. If it is a big clog, a plumber may need to be called to remove it.
Why is the sink clogged when nothing goes down the drain?
Whether we realize it or not, something is always traveling down the drain. Things like hair, soap scum, and toothpaste can clump together to cause a clog, causing the sink to drain more slowly.

Drains and Sewers

I am cautious about what goes down the drain. Why am I still getting clogs?
You cannot stop all unwanted waste from going down the drain. Clogs can result from hard water deposits, too. Drains will eventually clog, requiring a drain cleaning
Is it safe to use a liquid drain cleaner from the store to unclog a drain?
No! They only clean out a small hole in the clog and do nothing to clean the drain. The sulfuric acid and lye in such solutions can damage drain pipes, and they put dangerous, toxic fumes into the air.
What methods are used to clean drains?
Depending of the situation, a technician might use a motorized drain auger for a simple clog, or he might employ a hydro-jetter to blast high pressure water into the interior of the drain pipe for a thorough cleaning.
How often should sewer lines be cleaned?
Sewer lines should be cleaned out every 18 to 22 months.

Sewers and Septic

What causes sewer line damage?
Tree roots can invade the joints of pipes, accidental damage can occur from digging too close to the pipes, and there can be deterioration to pipes over time.
How can I prevent damage to my sewer line?
A regular video sewer line inspection is good insurance against joint failures, bulges in pipes, cracks and tree root invasion. This service can prevent costly sewer line backup and major repairs.
How do I care for my septic system?
The sludge that accumulates in the bottom of the tank must be pumped out periodically (every 2 to 3 years for a 1,250-gallon tank for 3 to 4 people). Having a garbage disposal is like adding another person to the household. If not pumped, the sludge will finally overflow into the soil-absorption area. This clogs the system, and it will need to be replaced, at major expense and trouble.
What does pumping a septic tank entail?
Pumping means that the wastewater sludge and scum will be vacuumed out of the tank chambers via a large, tank truck with a high capacity vacuum pump system. The waste is then transported to a municipal wastewater treatment facility for processing.


When should I replace my thermostat?
Generally, when you replace your air conditioning unit, you should install a new thermostat as well.
If I have a programmable thermostat, what kind of batteries are best?
Most models require AA lithium batteries, not alkaline. Alkaline batteries lose energy much faster. Checking the thermostat batteries is the first thing to check, when an air conditioner will not turn on.
Where should thermostats be located in a home?
To get an accurate reading, thermostats should be located in the central portion of a home, away from sunlight, appliances that give off heat, and away from air vents.
Should I clean my thermostat?
Since dust is a common thermostat problem, take the cover off the thermostat and use a soft paintbrush to clean the unit, taking care not to bend or loosen any of the inner contacts or wiring.
What are the signs of a thermostat that is beginning to fail?
The HVAC system “short cycles” which means the system shuts off too early and does not finish the full heating or cooling cycle. The HVAC system will not turn on when you make changes at the thermostat. The thermostat loses programmed settings. The thermostat does not respond to changed settings.

HVAC Air Conditioning and Heating

Why is my air conditioner leaking water?
The cooling process produces condensation that needs to be carried away from the system. Because leaking water can damage your home and cause mold, mildew and bacteria, this is a serious problem. If you have a leak, that means the water is not being drained away. The drain hole could be clogged, the pump may have failed, the coils in the system may be caked with dirt, or it could simply be due to a dislodged drain pipe
My outside air conditioner unit is covered with ice. Why has this happened?
The first thing to do is turn the unit off to prevent damage to the compressor. If the evaporator coils have frozen, the problem is often caused by a dirty air filter which restricts air moving across the evaporator coils and causes ice to form. Or, the air ducts may be blocked, either by furniture or by dirt. Floor and ceiling registers return air flow to the coils and should not be blocked. Low refrigerant could be the source of the problem.
When should I replace my air conditioner?
Age: Air conditioners usually last from 10 to 20 years. Less energy efficiency: If the air conditioner is losing its efficiency, the utility bills over several summers will indicate this. Leaking refrigerant: Refrigerant leaks will cause the compressor to go out over time. Cost of repairs: If the cost of repair is more than $3,000, it is probably cheaper to buy a new unit.
Is air conditioning air good for your health?
Yes it can be. One example, is ac controls humidity. Humidity can create the perfect condition for dust mites, which can acerbate allergies for sensitive people. Mold loves moisture, so high humidity is not good.
What are the signs of a thermostat that is beginning to fail?
The HVAC system “short cycles” which means the system shuts off too early and does not finish the full heating or cooling cycle. The HVAC system will not turn on when you make changes at the thermostat. The thermostat loses programmed settings. The thermostat does not respond to changed settings.
Can air conditioning really help me sleep better?
Yes, when your air conditioner is set a little cooler than room temperature, the brain produces melatonin, which is the sleep hormone, and it does so more effectively if you are in a completely dark room with the temperature slightly cooler than normal. In addition, sleeping well helps your body repair and rebuild muscles. Having a good night’s sleep also gives you better control of your mood. Sleeping well also allows the brain to make long-term memories. So set the ac a little lower, feel better and remember great times!

Garbage Disposers

Why has my disposer stopped running?
The disposer has a thermo-electric control that protects the motor when the disposer has been overloaded which will automatically shut the motor off. If you pack food too tightly or too rapidly down the disposer, that can happen.
Why is my disposer running (or humming) but not grinding foods?
Fibrous materials, like corn husks, and hard materials, such as bones, can cause a disposer to stop grinding. Additionally, if the unit is old, the edges of the shredder and impellers may have become worn and dull. The flywheel and shredder parts can be replaced, or a new unit can be installed.
Why is my disposer making excessive noise (and/or vibrating)?
Causes can include the fact that the disposer has not been correctly installed so that it is level. Also, bone wedges or other foreign objects can wedge themselves in the shredder, causing a ticking sound.
Why does my disposal smell?
There may be food stuck in the garbage disposal, the drain, or deep down in the pipes. Garbage disposal units have a slight smell even when there is no clog. To improve the smell, use lime and vinegar.
How do I clean my garbage disposal?
Grind a quartered lemon and use lots of water to clean and leave a fresh, lemon scent in the disposal. Or, fill the disposal with ice cubes and baking soda, and run the unit. If the sides of the chamber walls are not clean, repeat the process.
How do I remove objects and clear jams in my disposer?
First, NEVER put your hand or any part of your body in the disposer. To remove stuck objects, turn the power switch to the OFF position. Disconnect power at the main circuit breaker. Use a flashlight to check for foreign objects, and use long-handled tongs to remove objects. Place a broom handle, or an un-jamming tool, into the disposer hopper and turn the flywheel CLOCKWISE.

Ask a Question

More info

Still need Help?

Contact us at (936) 447-1603

Our Services

Cooling, Heating and Plumbing installs and repairs.

About Us

Find out more about J-Star Services

Pro Tips

Learn more about the home systems that keep you comfortable

Skip to content