Lifeline Plumbing, Heating & Cooling Blog : Archive for 2013

The Ball in Times Square

Monday, December 30th, 2013

New Year’s is a time for parties, fun and great traditions, some of which go back more than a century. Among them is the famous “dropping of the ball” in Times Square, an event which is broadcast to millions of people every New Year’s Eve. With 2014 nearly upon us, we thought we’d take the opportunity to look at the history of this popular New Year’s Eve festivity.

The idea began in 1907 at what was then the New York Times building at One Times Square. The newspaper’s owner, Adolph Ochs, had been celebrating the New Year with fireworks since 1903. He wanted make the event even more remarkable, and added the ball in December of 1907 to welcome in the New Year. The first ball was designed by Artkraft Strauss, who made it out of iron, wood, and light bulbs. It took six men to hoist the ball up the building’s flag pole; once midnight struck, the tremendous ball was carefully lowered, and all were allowed to marvel at it.

Since then, the ball has undergone many changes in materials and design, and even the New York Times has moved to another building. But the tradition remains and the ball has dropped over One Times Square ever since. Today, the ball is electronically controlled, and uses LED lamps for its construction: designed by Waterford Crystal and weighing in at over 1,200 pounds.

A number of television broadcasts have helped carry the event over the years, but by far the most famous is “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve,” which first ran in 1972. The show was created and hosted by Dick Clark, who became a staple of the event as much as the ball itself. Clark hosted the show every New Year’s Eve from 1972 until his death in 2012. Since then, it has been hosted by Ryan Seacrest, who shared hosting duties with Clark starting in 2005.

Whether you’re watching the ball drop on TV or have some other New Year’s Eve plan in mind, we here at Lifeline Plumbing wish you nothing but the best for 2014. Have a safe and happy New Year!

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Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

Holiday greetings from Lifeline Plumbing! We hope you are having safe and pleasant season, enjoying your favorite traditions for this time of year. We wish you the very best, and we thank you for your business this year.

In honor of the season, here are some fun facts about one of everyone’s favorite holiday movies: It’s a Wonderful Life.

For years, one of the enduring December traditions in the United States was watching the movie It’s a Wonderful Life playing almost nonstop on numerous television stations. No matter the time of the day, you could turn on the TV set, flip through channels, and discover It’s a Wonderful Life playing. Whenever you needed him, you could find Jimmy Stewart shouting, “Hello, Bedford Falls!”

But now… It’s a Wonderful Life only appears on broadcast television a few times during December, and most families instead choose to watch the movie on video. What happened?

The reason goes back to the film’s initial wide release in January 1947. (That’s right, it opened after the holiday season. It was not even promoted as a holiday film.) It’s a Wonderful Life was a box-office disappointment at the time, and its studio, RKO Radio Pictures, lost more than half a million on it. The movie’s production company, Liberty Films, was sold to Paramount to avoid bank foreclosure. (A bit ironic, considering the movie’s plot.) In 1955, the National Telefilm Associates (NTA) took over the rights to It’s a Wonderful Life, which included the television syndication rights.

However, NTA failed to properly renew the copyright in 1974 because of a clerical error, which allowed the film’s images to enter into the public domain. Although the movie’s plot was still under copyright protection because it was adapted from a published story called “The Greatest Gift,” television stations across the world could now broadcast it with only minimal royalty payments.

In 1993, Republic Pictures, which now owned the NTA library, tried to enforce their claim to the copyright of the film, as they possessed the rights to “The Greatest Gift.” Republic Pictures succeeded, and licensed exclusive television rights to NBC. Suddenly, It’s a Wonderful Life vanished from local television stations, and NBC made the movie’s broadcasts—usually twice during December—into major events. As of 1998, Paramount again has the rights to It’s a Wonderful Life… 43 years after they lost them.

It’s still easy to make It’s a Wonderful Life a part of whatever traditions you observe during the holidays, whether through home video or television broadcasts. Despite its lackluster initial reception in 1947, Frank Capra’s film is now an inseparable part of December in the United States.

Have a great holiday week!

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How to Tell if Your Furnace Has Problems

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

Your furnace is an essential part of your home. It provides a cozy haven for you and your family, as well as keeping you safe from the adverse effects of our Chicagoland winters. When your furnace experiences problems, you need to call in a qualified Lombard, IL furnace repair service to deal with them, and the sooner you can spot a given issue, the better off both you and your furnace will be.

Here’s how to tell if your furnace has problems, grouped into three easy-to-notice symptoms.

  • Your furnace isn’t generating enough heat. A loss of heating capacity can stem from faulty burners, from a malfunctioning thermostat or from problems with the gas line, among other issues. Whatever the problem, it will take longer and work harder to heat your home (assuming it generates any heat at all), which places undue strain upon the unit.
  • Your furnace isn’t blowing any air or doesn’t blow air with enough force. A loss of air flow can be caused by a faulty fan motor, by a blockage in the duct, or by trouble with the electrical system. This category can also include situations where your furnace shuts down entirely, and refuses to turn on.
  • Your bills are higher than they should be. Problematic components don’t necessarily affect the heater’s performance. They just force it to work harder and expend more energy, while increasing overall strain on the unit. You can spot them if your find your bills higher than expected, despite the fact that you’re not heating your home any more often than normal.

Knowing how to tell if your furnace has problems constitutes a big step forward in getting them fixed before they cause too much trouble. The next step is contacting the right repair service. In Lombard, IL, furnace issues can be addressed by the trained experts at Lifeline Plumbing. We know how to repair ongoing issues quickly and efficiently, and we’re dedicated to your complete satisfaction every step of the way. Pick up the phone to schedule an appointment. You’ll be glad you did!

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Do I Need to Call a Professional Plumber if My Sink is Leaking?

Friday, December 13th, 2013

Plumbing repair can be complicated. Even comparatively simple projects can get out of hand very quickly without the right know-how in your corner. For instance, even fixing a leaky sink can go wrong without the help of a professional.

Leaky sinks are usually caused by washes or seals that wear out. They might also be caused by faulty O-rings or damaged seals in the pipes below your sink. They’re not typically expensive to replace, but they require knowledge and familiarity with plumbing systems to properly diagnose. Most homeowners will have to deal with just a few leaky sinks in their lifetime. Plumbers, on the other, hand, deal with them every day. That gives them unique insight into the precise causes of the leak, as well as the best way to repair it in a manner what fits the individual sink the best. In the process, that can save you a considerable amount of time and heartache. The problem is corrected quickly and a qualified plumber can guarantee his or her work in case any problems arise.

On the other hand, if you conduct repairs yourself, you have no such guarantee. You have to rely on trial and error, and if the cause of the leak isn’t immediately apparent, it may take your quite a while to pinpoint it and correct it. The longer you have a leak, the greater the potential for water damage and other issues. In the long run, it’s easier and more effective to let a professional do the job than worry about doing it right yourself.

If you’re asking “do I need to call a professional plumber if my sink is leaking?” then Lifeline Plumbing is here to help. We handle plumbing repair in St. Charles, IL and the surrounding communities, and we’re dedicated to doing the job right the first time, every time. Pick up the phone and give us a call today; we’ll stop that leaky faucet in its tracks!

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If I Can Buy a Drain Snake at a Plumbing Store, Why Call a Professional Plumber?

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

It’s a very valid question: “If I can buy a drain snake at a plumbing store, why call a professional plumber?” Plumbing supplies are available at any hardware store, and indeed for the most basic of drain clogs, a basic snake will probably do the job. For anything more than that, however, you’re best served by calling in a Geneva, IL plumbing professional. Your plumbing is a vital part of your house and treating it with professional attention ultimately helps keep it in good shape.

Store-bought drain snakes tend to be inexpensive and adopt a “one size fits all” approach to clearing the drain. Depending on the nature of the clog, that can actually cause as much damage as it cures. The snake could cause scratches, the clog could resist easy removal, and even if you open up a passageway for water to flow, the remainder of the clog could remain in place, causing a stoppage again before too much time passes.

A professional, on the other hand, doesn’t have to rely on a generic solution. He can establish the exact nature of the clog and use a motorized snake with an interchangeable head to fix it. That allows him to determine the exact amount of pressure to use, as well as the type of head that best matches the material making up the clog. That allows the clog to be dealt with in a definitive fashion, clearing your pipes completely without causing excess damage to the pipes themselves. Furthermore, a certified plumber will stand by his work and ensure that the job is done right, a promise you won’t have if you buy a snake to do the job yourself.

Lifeline Plumbing is standing by to give you a hand. Give us a call today and make sure your clogged drain is fixed right!

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Top 3 Benefits of Routine Heating Maintenance

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

Everyone knows that routine maintenance is important, but not everyone knows what it entails for your heating system.  During your maintenance visit, your heating technician cleans the internal components, tightens loose fittings and runs the heater with the specific intent of evaluating its performance. Here in Elgin, IL, heating problems are no joke, especially in the winter when a breakdown can turn your home into an unwelcome cold spot in the space of just a few short hours. A maintenance visit – preferably in the fall before heating season starts – can be a lifesaver. Here are the top 3 benefits of routine heating maintenance.

  • Improved efficiency. Dirt and grime increase friction on moving parts, while loose fittings add to the strain of functioning as individual components rattle in their housings. All of that adds to the energy your heater needs to consume to do its job, raising your monthly bills in the process. A maintenance session can keep those problems in check, allowing your heater to do its job much more efficiently.
  • Long life expectancy. Going hand in hand with improved efficiency is an extended lifespan for the heater itself. Less stress on the system means more time between repairs and a heater that will last longer before needing to be replaced: sometimes months or even years.
  • Reduced risk of repairs. Many times, a maintenance session will spot a small problem before it turns into a bigger one. Not only does it lead to cheaper repairs, but it can reduce or even eliminate the risk of repairs in the future.

Lifeline Plumbing handles Elgin, IL heating issues of all varieties, and we recommend scheduling annual maintenance for your heating system. Our trained staff conducts all operations with courtesy and care, and we’ll help you keep your heater running at peak capacity. Pick up the phone and give us a call today!

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The History of Thanksgiving

Monday, November 25th, 2013

Thanksgiving is upon us: a time to get together with relatives, eat some great food, watch a little football or the parade, and stop to appreciate the good things we have in life. Beyond all that, however, there’s a fascinating history to the holiday and its traditions.

The first Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621 in the Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts. Records are spotty at the time, but indicate that the harvest was particularly good that year due to help from the local Native Americans. The meal was probably much different than the one we’re used to, with venison and fish more likely than turkey, but the general principle was unchanged.

It wasn’t a few centuries later, however, that Thanksgiving became an annual tradition. George Washington called for a “national day of Thanksgiving” in 1789, and again in 1795, but they were both “one shot” declarations, rather than a call for an annual tradition. Individual cities and states picked up the ball, but it wasn’t until 1863 that Thanksgiving became a national once-a-year event. President Lincoln declared the last Thursday in November to be a Thanksgiving “to heal the wounds of the nation and restore it.”

From there, it remained a tradition until Franklin Roosevelt signed a law in December of 1941 making it a federal holiday. The law also changed the date from the last Thursday in November to the fourth Thursday in November, making it a little earlier in some cases (which Roosevelt hoped would give the country an economic boost).

Wherever you celebrate the holiday and whoever you choose to celebrate it with, we wish you nothing but happiness and joy this Thanksgiving.  

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Is a Fireplace a Good Home Heating Option?

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

Here in Barrington, IL, heating is a tremendous concern, especially in the wintertime. Homeowners have a variety of options when it comes to keeping their homes warm, but many of them tend to gravitate towards the basics: namely a good old-fashioned fireplace. Fireplaces provide tons of romantic atmosphere and make a terrific enhancement for any home. But is a fireplace a good home heating option?

Fireplaces specialize in very localized heat, comfortably warming the immediate area where it can be found. That heat rarely translates to the entire house however. When it comes to providing systematic heating, a fireplace works best in a small space. You can expand that with airtight inserts and an expansive flue system but even then, a wood-burning fireplace can’t match the sheer efficiency of a gas furnace or boiler.

That doesn’t mean that fireplaces are good only for atmosphere and ambiance, however.  A fireplace makes an excellent option for those times when the electricity is out. It doesn’t rely on any outside sources to keep you warm, provided you have a little stockpile of wood ready to go, and while its heating may be limited to one room, it can make that room very warm indeed. That can help you cut down on energy costs, even when you have power to run your heater. You can turn off the heat and spend the evening around the fire, playing games or watching a movie with your family. Relying on it to heat your entire home may not be feasible, but as a way of augmenting your existing heating system, it can’t be beat.

If you’re asking “is a fireplace a good heating option?” and need some expert advice on the possibilities available to you, then call on Lifeline Plumbing today. We handle Barrington, IL heating options of all varieties and can discuss installation and repair issues with you before setting up a plan that suits your needs. Call us today to make an appointment!

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Common Mistakes During Heating Installation

Friday, November 15th, 2013

Having a new heater installed in your home requires an investment of time and effort to get it done correctly. Because of the amount of work that goes into installing a heat pump or a furnace, there are many places during the process where mistakes—even small ones—can lead to significant problems that will be difficult to resolve or repair later. For this reason, you want the most skilled technicians available performing your heating installation in Naperville, IL.

Look to the assistance of a company like Lifeline Plumbing. We have the experience and certification necessary to put you at ease when you need a new heating system in your home.

Here are some common mistakes that occur when amateurs or inexperienced technicians take care of installing a new heater:

An incorrectly sized heater

Installers need to ascertain the correct size of heating system to place in a home so that it can do its job without excess strain. A heater that is too small will never be able to get a home warm enough. A heater that is too large will start to short cycle, shutting on and off numerous times and wasting energy while wearing itself down. Skilled installers will take all the necessary steps to see that the heater going into your home is the heater that is supposed to be there.

Improper connections to ductwork

Some of the biggest headaches from a sloppy heating installation come from poor hooking of a home’s ductwork to the new heater. If there are gaps anywhere in the ducts, they will reduce the air pressure inside and impair the heating system’s performance—as well as lead to a dust contamination inside the heater’s cabinet and along the ducts.

Unsafe operation

This is the most pressing concern, especially if you are getting a gas-powered furnace. Professional installers take every precaution possible to make sure that your heater will operate within safety guidelines. You won’t have this assurance with amateur work. Your heater could develop gas leaks that might lead to the risk of carbon monoxide exposure or explosions. Electrical heating systems with shoddy installation can become fire hazards.

Professional installers will not only work to avoid making these mistakes, they will also make sure that your new heater is fine-tuned to have as few repair needs as possible in the future. Make certain that your heating installation results in a home that is warm, clean, and safe: place the job in the hands of professionals. Contact Lifeline Plumbing and put our experience to work for you during your heating installation in Naperville, IL.

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Why Hire a Plumber to Clean Your Drains?

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

Clogged drains are one of the common hassles in a homeowner’s life. Everyone has experienced the aggravation of a backed-up kitchen sink or shower at one point or another, or at the very least the annoyance of a slow drain. The handy household plunger can sometimes remedy these problems… but not always. Beyond the plunger, clogs usually require the work of a professional plumber to clear out, usually with the assistance of a powered drain snake. When you need a professional plumber in Naperville, IL to handle heavy clogs like this, give Lifeline Plumbing a call.

Although clogs may seem inevitable, they don’t have to be frequent. With regular drain cleaning, you can keep away grease, soap scum, hair, and other residue from building up inside your drains and causing clogs and blockages. Drain cleaning will also mean a longer life in general for your pipes, and an increase in the flow of wastewater. The plumbing in your home will be much healthier if you schedule routine drain cleaning from a professional plumber.

Don’t use chemicals—hire a plumber

The first instinct most people have when they hear “drain” and “cleaning” in such close proximity is to think of liquid chemical drain cleaners, the sort you find in plastic bottles in supermarket aisles. However, that is not the kind of drain cleaning that we mean. These chemicals are acidic and toxic: bad news for your pipes and for you. A professional plumber can get your drains clean thoroughly without harming them or exposing you to dangerous chemicals. Make the right first step and contact a plumber to clean your drains.

Drain cleaning tools of a professional plumber

One of the ways that professional plumbers can clean your drains is through hydro jetting. Hydro jetters are devices that use motors to fire out concentrated streams of high-pressure hot water that will blast away clogs and even mineral deposits inside pipes. Hydro-jetting requires an experienced technician to handle, otherwise the high-pressure jets might cause damage to the pipes—or to yourself.

Professional plumbers also use video camera inspections to locate places far down in your drains that need cleaning. Miniature cameras mounted on long lines will snake through your pipes to identify spots that are developing clogs or mineral build-up.

Get started with drain cleaning

You want clogs to become as rare an occurrence in your home as possible. You also want your pipes to survive many years without needing replacement. Schedule professional drain cleaning today so you can get the most out of your plumbing. Leave the acidic chemicals on the supermarket shelf and call a Naperville, IL plumber from Lifeline Plumbing today.

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