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Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
12:24 AM Wed, Sept. 26th

Ask the contractor: Check your HVAC system in times of good, and bad, weather

With the severe cold weather with which we've been blasted, I've been cranking up the heat - however, the cost of fuel makes me wish for spring to arrive early. Our unreliable weather is a reminder to make sure your HVAC system is working properly. The sensible and practical thing to do is to make sure you contact a reliable, local, licensed HVAC company in late summer or early fall. Have your unit inspected to avoid possible problems before you need to rely on it.

Precautions are necessary to protect your home and your HVAC unit, which will ultimately save you money in heating and cooling costs and in maintenance. Here are a few quick tips to follow:

• Schedule routine checkups and maintenance. The best way to ensure savings throughout the seasons is with routine maintenance. An HVAC company can detect any problem with your heating system and catch those malfunctions which will prevent your unit from operating and save you time and money.

• Change furnace air filters. It is recommended that air filters be replaced or cleaned monthly especially during heavy months of use such as summer and winter.

• Perform a quick check of the system before summer and/or winter. Just turn your system on to make sure it is operating properly. If there is not heat and/or cooling coming from the system, this would be the time to call for a service check.

• Make sure the air vents are open not closed and not blocked by furniture and/or window coverings. Proper ventilation ensures that air from the HVAC system is being distributed evenly throughout your home.

• Make sure all air vents and adjusted for the most favorable and best possible air circulation.

• Contemplate replacing your unit if it is more than 15 years old. Upgrading to a more energy efficient on the market today can save money.

Just by performing some of these simple tips, you can be sure that your home's HVAC unit is working for you.

Again, many of our readers this past week called in with additional questions on the City of Prescott backwater valve issue. One question asked from multiple callers was:

Q: What does the city do to keep back-ups from happening in the sewer system?

A: The City's Wastewater Collections Department is tasked with the operations and maintenance of the sewer system. The collection crews follow a scheduled cleaning program which documents all cleaning activities on a daily basis and enters the information into a mapping system that tracks the cleaning of the entire 300-plus miles of city sewer system on a regular basis. Several types of cleaning equipment are used to maintain the sewer system including jet rodders, combination cleaners, video inspection and a steel rodding unit. There are 62 sewer lift stations throughout the city which are also cleaned and maintained on a quarterly basis. These maintenance activities are all industry standard methods to maintain sewers with normal flows and materials (human waste products) being discharged. Another maintenance method that has been utilized since 2008 is to treat areas of the system with a chemical root control agent to help fight the natural growth of tree roots that grow into the sewer mains and private sewer lines. Normal materials that are discharged into the sewer system are manageable through the cleaning programs, however there are many items that are routinely seen in the sewers that do not belong and many times cause problems. The most common offender in the sewer system is FOG (fats, oils & grease) from residential and commercial sewer lines. FOG is very problematic in the sewers as it sticks to everything in the pipes and starts to create restrictions that then grow as paper products pile up and ultimately cause a plugged pipe. Many other items show up in the sewers that have caused numerous problems and blockage that creates back-up situations. These items include rebar, rocks, bricks, wood, drywall mud, concrete, plumbing tools, sanitary napkins, adult diapers, baby wipes, underwear, clothing and tennis balls. All are found in the sewer system, and the cleaning program is not able to control them. To have the most trouble-free sewer system, a combined effort between the city's maintenance operations and the community's involvement by reducing the introduction of foreign materials into the system that are problematic will help control and maintain a healthy sewer system.

As a reminder, YCCA and The City of Prescott have partnered to help you with any concerns you have on the issue of backwater valves. There are three upcoming seminars on this issue: 6 p.m. Feb. 24 at the Rowle P. Simmons Senior Center; 6 p.m. March 8 at the Grace Sparkes Activity Center on Gurley Street; and 2 p.m. March 16 at the Prescott Public Library Founders Room.

There are additional concerns being expressed by Prescott homeowners and business owners, such as: Why do property owners have to sign the agreement? What happens if they elect not to sign the agreement? Can the city stop homeowners and or business owners from selling their property if a Hold Harmless Agreement is recorded? If a backwater valve is not installed and the Hold Harmless Agreement is not signed, what happens?

YCCA wants to assure you that we are in the process and on the road to discovery about these issues. There are meetings with city staff that have been scheduled; we have met with PAAR (Prescott Area Association of Realtors); and we will bring this information to you in next week's column.