We’re reaching into our mailbag to help answer your most pressing questions about living comfortably and operating your home systems efficiently. From settling temperature disputes to selecting the right water heater, our staff members weigh in with their expert advice.
How Zoning Can End ‘Thermo-spats’
Dear AAA Service,
They say men are from Mars, and women are from Venus. I’m not sure what planet men are from. But I’m positive my wife is Venusian. Her home planet has a surface temperature of 900 degrees Fahrenheit, which makes Earth unbearably cold for her.
After 15 years of marriage, we still argue over the thermostat. She likes to set it at 82 degrees. That’s at least 10 degrees too warm for my comfort. Our arguments have become so heated lately that I fear she’ll beam back to her home planet any day now.
I realize this isn’t a relationship column, but can AAA Service please save my marriage?
Too Warm in Aurora
Dear Too Warm,
Your wife likely is not an alien. What you and she are experiencing is all too human. One recent study estimates that 75% of Americans can’t settle on a temperature.
So, yours is a classic hot-and-cold relationship. One is shivering while the other is sweating. Fortunately, there is a solution that may very well bring lasting comfort for both you and your spouse of questionable planetary origins. It’s called zoning.
A conventional HVAC set-up distributes the same temperature throughout the house. If one room is 82 degrees, then all rooms are 82 degrees. For you, there is no escape. Zoning solves that problem by dividing your home into different climates. That means your Venusian spouse can enjoy balmy temperatures in one part of the house while you’re chilling in relative comfort elsewhere.
Not only can a multi-zone system save your marriage, but it can also save money. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, zoning can slash your heating and cooling costs by as much as 30%!
Why Chemical Drain Cleaners Are a Bad Idea
Dear AAA Service,
Every time there’s a clog in the toilet or the sink, my husband reaches for the chemical drain cleaner. I’ve tried to tell him that’s not the best solution for our plumbing system, but he insists it’s the only way to dissolve stubborn obstructions in our pipes.
I’m tired of arguing with him. Can the experts at AAA Service convince him?
Drained in Denver
Chemical drain cleaners are convenient, but they can do major damage to your plumbing system over time. (Feel free to tell your husband “I told you so!”)
Chemical drain cleaners are designed to erode the gunky build-up along the interior of the pipe. That’s what makes them so effective at getting your water flowing freely down the drain once again. But the erosion doesn’t stop with the organic matter. The chemicals can eat away at the pipe itself, compromising the integrity of your plumbing system. That means leaks!
The proper way to clear a drain is a plunger. For a toilet, use a flange plunger. It has a rubber cup that narrows to a sleeve at the bottom. This creates a strong seal in the drain trap. Likewise, use a flat plunger for sinks and bathtubs.
However, if slow or clogged drains are a recurring problem (and it sounds like they are), we suggest scheduling a professional drain cleaning. We’ll diagnose the issue with a video line inspection to determine the clog’s severity. Then we’ll determine which drain-cleaning method to use for your particular situation, such as high-pressure water jetting. If the issue is impacting your sewer line, we can fix that as well.
How to Get Rid of That Nasty Cigarette Smoke Smell
Dear AAA Service,
We recently relocated from Los Angeles to Centennial, where my family and I can take advantage of the bountiful opportunities for outdoor recreation. Needless to say, we love it here! But there’s one problem: we bought a home that was previously occupied by a smoker who had multiple pets. Replacing the carpets has helped, but a faint odor persists. Is this something that we’re going to have to live with, or can we banish this funk once and for all?
Smelly in Centennial
Few things are worse than spending all day in the Great Outdoors, breathing in our fresh pine-scented air, only to return to a stinky house.
We’re glad to hear that you replaced the carpets. That was a good first step, but as you’ve discovered, certain odors, particularly cigarette smoke, are stubborn.
To eliminate the smell, further action may be required, such as:
Replace window coverings
Wash all cupboards, draws, walls, and ceilings with TSP
Seal walls and ceilings with a good primer and paint
Next, you’ll need to improve your indoor air quality. Cigarette smoke can permeate your air ducts. That means every time your AC kicks on, it distributes the smokey smell throughout your house. A professional duct cleaning can remove smoke residue, as well as dust, debris, and other allergens. Also, consider adding an air purification system, such as an activated carbon filter. This type of filter traps gases, volatile organic compounds, and other contaminants in a bed of charcoal.
These measures will get rid of nasty cigarette smoke odors for good and dramatically improve your home’s indoor air.
How Tankless Water Heaters Supply Unlimited Hot Water
Dear AAA Service,
I have a wife and three daughters. I’m usually the last to take a shower in the mornings. Needless to say, I haven’t had a hot shower in years. Please help.
Cold in Boulder
Cold showers are no way to go through life. Fortunately, you have a couple of options. It sounds like your current water heater isn’t large enough to supply your family’s needs. Water heaters range from 20 to 80 gallons. For households of three to five people, we recommend a water heater of 50 to 60 gallons. Add ten gallons for each additional person.
Even better, upgrade to a tankless water heater. Unlike a conventional storage unit, a tankless model doesn’t keep gallons of hot water on standby. Instead, it supplies hot water as needed. That means no more cold showers for you and a smaller energy bill. That’s because tankless water heaters use 30 to 50% less energy.
Do you have questions you’d like to see answered in our advice column? Hit us up at facebook.com/aaatoday. If you’re interested in any of our services, contact AAA Service Plumbing, Heating & Electric at (303) 622-3449 today!