Douglas Cooling & Heating Blog : Archive for the ‘Plumbing’ Category

What Is an Emergency Plumbing Situation?

Monday, February 12th, 2024

What image comes to mind when you read the words plumbing emergency? It probably involves a whole lot of water, maybe gushing dramatically from a broken pipe. And of course, that would definitely constitute a plumbing emergency. But you might need a plumber in a hurry even if your problem doesn’t quite look like that.

It’s understandable that you might hesitate when trying to determine how serious your plumbing problem is. We’d like to give you some pointers on how to decide whether you’ve got an actual plumbing emergency on your hands.

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What Size Water Heater Is Right for My Home?

Monday, October 23rd, 2023

Water heaters play a crucial role in our daily lives, providing the convenience of warm water for bathing, cooking, and cleaning. Yet, choosing the right water heater size for your home can be a daunting task. Whether you’re considering a traditional tank water heater or a modern tankless unit, getting the size right is essential to ensure a consistent supply of hot water while avoiding unnecessary energy costs.

In this blog, we’ll explore the benefits of both kinds of water heaters and explain how a professional plumber can perfectly determine what size water heater is right for your home.

Tank vs. Tankless Water Heaters: Pros and Cons

Before we start talking about sizing considerations, it’s important to understand the fundamental differences between tank and tankless water heaters.

Tank Water Heaters

A tank water heater, also known as a storage water heater, is a type of water heating system that uses a large tank to store and heat a specific amount of water. These tanks typically range in size from 20 to 120 gallons, and they are insulated to help maintain the water’s temperature.


  • Affordability: Tank water heaters are generally more affordable to purchase and install compared to tankless alternatives.
  • Simple Operation: They have a straightforward operation, making them easy to understand and use.
  • Readily Available: Tank water heaters are widely available and can be found in most stores.
  • Reliable: Tank hot water heaters consistently deliver hot water, which is important for households with high water demands.


  • Energy Loss: Tank water heaters may experience standby heat loss, meaning they continually reheat the stored water even when not in use, resulting in energy inefficiency.
  • Limited Hot Water: The amount of hot water is limited by the tank’s size, which can be a drawback for large households with high hot water demands.
  • Space Requirements: The physical size of the water tank may require a dedicated space in your home, which can be a limitation for smaller residences.
  • Shorter Lifespan: Tank water heaters tend to have a shorter lifespan compared to tankless water heaters.

Tankless Water Heaters

A tankless water heater, also known as an on-demand water heater, is a type of water heating system that heats water directly without the need for a storage tank. 


  • Improved Energy Efficiency: Tankless water heaters are more energy efficient since they exclusively heat water when required, substantially diminishing energy usage and decreasing utility expenses.
  • Endless Hot Water: You won’t run out of hot water with a tankless system as it provides a continuous supply.
  • Space-Saving: Tankless units are compact and wall-mounted, freeing up valuable space in your home.
  • Longer Lifespan: Tankless hot water heaters can last up to 20 years or more with proper maintenance, while traditional tank water heaters typically wear out after 10 to 15 years.
  • Reduced Environmental Impact: The lower energy use of tankless heaters reduces your carbon footprint.


  • Higher Initial Cost: Tankless water heaters can be more expensive to purchase and install upfront compared to tank systems.
  • Limited Flow Rate: The hot water flow rate of tankless systems may be limited, which can be a disadvantage if multiple hot water sources are used simultaneously.
  • Required Ventilation: Proper ventilation and gas supply may be necessary, adding to installation costs.
  • Potential Lag: There can be a slight delay in hot water delivery, especially in homes with long pipe runs, which might not be ideal for some users.
  • Regular Maintenance: Tankless water heaters require regular maintenance to ensure optimal performance.

Water Heater Sizing for Tank and Tankless Water Heaters

Whether you opt for a tank or tankless water heater for your Birmingham, AL home, the size plays a pivotal role in its efficiency and effectiveness. 

Tank water heaters are sized based on their storage tank capacity, typically measured in gallons. To determine the right size for your home, consider your daily hot water needs. A family of four, for example, may require a larger tank, like a 40 to 50 gallon water heater.

Tankless water heaters are sized by their flow rate, typically measured in gallons per minute (GPM). Calculate the GPM needed by considering the number of fixtures that may be using hot water simultaneously. For instance, if you anticipate running multiple showers and a dishwasher at the same time, you’ll need a higher GPM rating.

How a Plumber Decides What Size Water Heater is Right For You

Still wondering what size heater do I need? A professional plumber will help you find the answer. Professional plumbing technicians use various calculations to determine the appropriate water heater size for your home. These calculations consider your household’s hot water usage and patterns. Some of the key aspects they assess include:

  1. Peak Demand: Plumbers evaluate your water heater’s needs, paying close attention to when your home has its peak hour of hot water demand. This might be in the morning when family members are showering or in the evening when dishes are being washed.
  2. Fixture Flow Rates: They measure the flow rates of fixtures like showers, faucets, and appliances to gauge how much hot water is needed.
  3. Temperature Rise: Plumbers calculate the difference between your incoming water temperature and the desired hot water temperature. This difference impacts the unit’s capacity requirements.
  4. First-Hour Rating (FHR): FHR represents the total gallons of hot water the unit can deliver during the first hour. It’s a critical factor for tank water heaters and large households.

Get the Water Heater You Need Today

At Douglas Cooling & Heating, we recognize the importance of correctly sizing and skillfully installing water heaters. Our team of experienced plumbing technicians excels in selecting the properly sized water heater for your home and the number of people in it.

In addition to installation, we offer repair and maintenance services for a variety of water heater models including:

  • Natural gas water heaters
  • Electric water heaters
  • Propane gas water heaters
  • Power vent water heaters

Don’t let your home suffer from the inconvenience of cold showers and other water heater issues. Contact Douglas Cooling & Heating today for a free estimate or to schedule service. Our team is here to keep your Birmingham area home comfortable and your hot water running reliably.

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What Does it Mean When Black Stuff Comes Out of Your Drains?

Tuesday, September 5th, 2023

Drains are an important plumbing component of your Birmingham, Alabama, home that you may not realize you use every day. That is until a problem arises. From cooking to cleaning, drain issues can cause complications in your daily routines, and some can be downright gross. If you notice black sludge coming from your bathtub, shower, or kitchen or bathroom sink drain, you may be wondering what this is and how can you get rid of it, fast!

At Douglas Cooling & Heating, our licensed plumbers are ready to help you address every issue facing your home’s drains. In this blog, our experts will break down what it means when black stuff comes out of your drains and how to address it.

Contact our friendly team for expert drain cleaning service if you notice any unusual substances coming from your drinks or if it’s not draining properly.

What is Coming Out of Your Drains?

Both your kitchen and bathroom drains experience a lot of use. Each time you cook, wash dishes, clean your hands, or brush your teeth, you’re sending biological materials such as hair, phlegm, skin cells, nails, and oil, and other materials like food scraps, soap, and lotion down the drain.

Over time, these materials attach to the side of your drainpipe and build up a thin layer of film which becomes an ideal spot for bacteria to grow. As bacteria and mold grow, the combination of waste turns into a nasty black substance. When this substance comes loose or grows out of control, it can end up coming back out of your drains.

How Does Black Sludge Come Out of Your Drain?

While the black stuff originates in your drainpipe, there are times when it can make its way back up and out of your drain where you will see it in your sink or tub. There can be several causes, such as the bacteria growth becoming large enough to grow back out of your sink or shower drain. Other times, black sludge in your drain can be a sign of a more serious problem, including:

  • Clogged Drain: When your drain is clogged, the flow of water and waste slows down. As a result of drain clogs, loose bacteria film can float to the top of the water as it drains away, getting closer and closer to your drain until it comes out as the clog gets worse.
  • Vent Pipe Obstruction: A vent pipe regulates the air in your plumbing system to help waste and water flow away from your drains. When your vent pipes are obstructed, wastewater filled with black sludge can flow back up your sink’s drain pipe and through the opening.
  • Sewage Backup: In some rarer, but more serious cases, the black stuff from your drain could actually be sewage that has backed up throughout your home. While it often starts in basement drains, a backed-up sewage system could spread to all the drain pipes and drains in your home.
  • The Importance of Drain Cleaning

    Want to avoid gross, potentially harmful, buildups in your drains? The best way to ensure black stuff doesn’t appear in your plumbing lines and out of your drains is to regularly clean and maintain your plumbing systems with the help of a professional team like the one at Douglas Cooling & Heating.

    When you clean your drains, you’re removing the buildup of skin cells, soap scum, and other biological material so that bacteria doesn’t have a surface to grow on in the first place. The following types of drains can benefit from routine cleaning and emergency declogging by a professional plumber at Douglas Cooling & Heating:

    • Kitchen drains
    • Main sewer lines
    • Shower/bathtub drains
    • Bathroom sink drains
    • Toilet drains
    • Floor drains

    DIY Drain Maintenance

    While cleaning your drains may seem simple enough, you have to be careful not to use too many harsh chemicals or a possibly ineffective homemade drain cleaner. Follow these tips from our experts about how to keep the drains in your Birmingham, AL, home as clean as possible to avoid clogs and other buildups.

    1. Keep large food scraps and hair out of your drain pipes by installing a screen over your drain
    2. Once a week, run hot, boiling water down the drain for several minutes to flush out films
    3. Never rinse grease down the drain
    4. Regularly clean your drain and sink stopper
    5. Plunge your drain when needed
    6. Make your own safe drain cleaner with items such as baking soda and white vinegar.
    7. Call a plumber with Douglas Cooling & Heating

    When you notice your drains are in need of a cleaning or black sludge and other substances are coming from your drains, it’s always best to get a professional opinion and service from friendly, highly-trained technicians at Douglas Cooling & Heating. Call us today to schedule your drain cleaning appointment.

    Contact Douglas Cooling & Heating for Expert Drain Cleaning Today

    At Douglas Cooling & Heating, we have years of experience in clogged and backed-up drains and plumbing fixtures in homes across Birmingham. We’re proud to offer our customers the most innovative technology in the industry to address all of your plumbing needs from drain clogs to black slime production, and so much more. Contact Douglas Cooling & Heating today for drain cleaning services you can trust.

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    Common Plumbing Problems

    Thursday, June 22nd, 2023

    As a homeowner, it’s crucial you keep your property’s plumbing system in top shape. While most of us tend to overlook it, plumbing is an integral part of our homes, and it’s only a matter of time before things go wrong. Common plumbing problems may range from minor leaks to major water damage, which is why it’s essential to have prompt plumbing repair and maintenance services. Douglas Cooling & Heating explains what is a plumbing emergency and what you can do to stop the damage. Remember, you can always count on Douglas Cooling & Heating for plumbing help around your Birmingham, AL home. Schedule service with us today.

    Clogged Drains

    Everyone gets a clog now and again. Homeowners often tackle the issue themselves first, but these efforts do not always restore proper drainage. If all your at-home methods—plungers or drain snakes—don’t fix the clog, call a professional. Additionally, if you experience clogs on a regular basis, the problem most likely stems from a complete clog far down in your drain. At-home methods can’t fix these clogs.

    A plumber uses professional methods to safely remove blockages and restore proper drainage in your home. A drain auger or drain snake may be used to bust up tough clogs and remove them. Hydro jetting is a process that uses high-pressure water sent through your drainpipes to not only break up blockages but to clear the interior of your pipes from debris buildup.

    Sewer Line Clogs

    The sewer line that allows waste to flow out of your home to the municipal sewer or your septic tank can experience problems. Clogs in sewer lines are more severe in terms of common plumbing problems. Unlike a clog in a drain line, they cause problems all over the home, not just in one room or fixture. The signs of a sewer line clog include slow or clogged drains, gurgling noises from drains, water backup in showers or bathtubs when toilets are flushed, and bubbling from toilet water or faucets.

    Sewer line clogs can be caused by a number of reasons:

    • Flushing improper items
    • Tree root penetrations
    • Debris entering the line through a busted pipe

    To determine if you have a sewer line clog, call a plumber to inspect your sewer line. During their inspection, the plumber will also determine if your pipes have broken due to age and allowed outside materials to settle in the line and stop drainage – in this case, your sewer line needs to be replaced.

    Frozen Pipes

    Frozen pipes are one of the common plumbing problems that require emergency plumbing services due to the potential damage and hazards they present. When the water inside the pipes freezes, it expands, exerting immense pressure on the pipe walls. This pressure can cause the pipes to crack or burst, leading to severe water damage, flooding, and costly repairs.

    Emergency plumbing services are crucial in addressing frozen pipes promptly, preventing further damage, and restoring normal water flow. Professional plumbers have the expertise and equipment to safely thaw the pipes, identify any cracks or leaks, and perform necessary repairs, ensuring the integrity of your plumbing system is maintained.

    Leaky Pipes

    Your leaky pipe seems like an easy fix, but it often points to larger issues. The cause may be old pipes and connections that have started to wear out, or an issue such as improper water pressure is potentially damaging your pipes.

    Use leak tape before your plumber visits to keep leakage contained. Then, call a professional. They fix the underlying problem instead of the surface-level issue. Be sure to call a plumber at the first sign of plumbing leaks. Water damage can be incredibly expensive to fix, so the sooner you address the issue, the better.

    Water Heater Leaks

    Water heater leaks require emergency plumbing services due to the potential risks and damage they pose. Some reasons why prompt professional intervention is necessary include:

    • Property Damage: A leaking water heater can cause extensive water damage to floors, walls, and nearby belongings. If not addressed quickly, the leak may worsen over time, leading to more significant issues such as structural damage, mold growth, and costly repairs.
    • Electrical Hazards: If the leak reaches any electrical components or outlets, it can create a dangerous situation with the risk of electrocution or even an electrical fire.
    • Reduced Efficiency: A leaking water heater may not operate at its peak efficiency, resulting in higher energy consumption and increased utility bills.
    • Gas Leaks: In the case of gas water heaters, a leak might indicate a more severe problem, such as a faulty pressure relief valve or a corroded tank. Gas leaks can be hazardous and lead to fires or explosions if not addressed immediately.
    • Loss of Hot Water: A water heater leak can disrupt your hot water supply, causing inconvenience for daily activities like bathing, washing, and cleaning.

    Professional plumbers can accurately diagnose the issue, determine the appropriate course of action, and perform necessary repairs or replacements to restore the functionality and safety of your water heater, preventing further damage and potential hazards.

    Low Water Pressure

    Though it’s one of the most general plumbing problems, many believe this issue doesn’t need attention. Too often, homeowners pass it off as a comfort issue and skip further investigation. Your comfort matters and these issues need to be looked into by a professional not only to improve your satisfaction with your plumbing system but to address the cause to avoid future issues.

    Most of the time, low pressure stems from the buildup of minerals on faucets and shower heads. In homes supplied by wells, pressure tank malfunctions often result in low water pressure. If you notice low water pressure, try first cleaning showerheads and faucets. If that doesn’t remedy your water pressure, get in touch with a plumber. A deeper issue, like a water line leak or breach, could be the culprit. In that case, call a plumber to assess the problem.

    Broken Shutoff Valve

    Broken shutoff valves necessitate emergency plumbing services due to the potential risks and damage they can cause. Shutoff valves are essential components of a plumbing system, responsible for controlling the water flow to various appliances and fixtures. When a shutoff valve fails, it can lead to several problems:

    • Uncontrolled Water Flow: A broken shutoff valve may not be able to stop the water flow, causing flooding or continuous leakage. Uncontrolled water flow can lead to water damage, mold growth, and higher water bills.
    • Difficulty in Isolating Issues: In case of a plumbing emergency, such as a burst pipe or leaking appliance, a non-functioning shutoff valve makes it difficult to isolate the problem area, exacerbating the issue and increasing the risk of damage.
    • Inconvenience: A broken shutoff valve can disrupt daily activities like bathing, washing, and cleaning, as it may affect the water supply to specific fixtures or appliances.
    • Potential Damage to Other Components: A malfunctioning shutoff valve can cause pressure imbalances within the plumbing system, potentially damaging other components like pipes, fittings, and fixtures.

    Professional plumbers can assess the issue, repair or replace the faulty valve, and restore the functionality of your plumbing system, preventing further damage and potential hazards. By acting quickly, you can minimize the impact of a broken shutoff valve on your property and daily life.

    Keep Up On Regular Maintenance

    There are many things you can do to prevent common plumbing problems. When you notice a small issue, address it immediately. There are many home remedies you can try to clear your drains to prevent clogs. However, if you try multiple remedies and find no relief, that’s your sign it’s time to make an appointment with Douglas Cooling & Heating to address your plumbing issues.

    • Hot Water: Simply flushing your drains with hot water can be an effective way to keep them clean. Hot water can help break down and remove the buildup of oils and other materials that can cause clogs.
    • Baking Soda and Vinegar: This combination can be quite effective in cleaning drains. Pour half a cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by half a cup of vinegar. Wait 15-20 minutes and then rinse with hot water. The chemical reaction between baking soda and vinegar can help break down grease, food particles, and other debris in your drains.
    • Boiling Water: Pouring a pot of boiling water down the drain can also help to dislodge and dissolve some types of clogs. This is particularly effective with grease or soap build-up.
    • Salt, Borax, and Vinegar: Mix 1/4 cup of salt, 1/4 cup of borax, and 1/2 cup of vinegar, pour the mixture down the drain, followed by a pot of boiling water. This combination can be quite potent and effective at cleaning your drains.
    • Dish Detergent and Hot Water: For tougher clogs, especially in the kitchen sink, you can try using dish detergent as a de-greaser. Pour a half cup of dish detergent down the drain, followed by boiling water.

    For stubborn or unexpected issues, turn to the plumbing professionals at Douglas Cooling & Heating for quality plumbing repairs and services.

    Call Douglas Cooling & Heating to Solve Your General Plumbing Problems

    At the end of the day, professional help from plumbers guarantees your water flows as it should. While at-home fixes temporarily fix your difficult plumbing problems, they do not treat underlying issues.

    At Douglas Cooling & Heating, we provide high-quality plumbing repair and maintenance services to keep your home plumbing system running efficiently. Our experienced plumbers use modern tools and techniques to diagnose and repair any plumbing issues in your home. Don’t wait until the problem becomes catastrophic; contact us today for prompt and reliable plumbing repair services.

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    Signs You Need to Replace Your Garbage Disposal

    Thursday, May 25th, 2023

    Your garbage disposal is one of the most important appliances in your kitchen. It helps you get rid of your food waste quickly and cleanly, making kitchen clean-up a breeze. However, like any other appliance, your garbage disposal may eventually need to be replaced. If you have a problematic garbage disposal humming in the kitchen of your Birmingham home, you may need to replace it.

    The licensed Birmingham plumbers of Douglas Cooling & Heating explain what causes garbage disposal issues and some things you can try to fix it. If troubleshooting does not work, give us a call to solve your worst garbage disposal problems.

    You Hear Garbage Disposal Humming

    If you notice the garbage disposal is humming but it is not working properly, it could be a sign of a serious problem. This is not a normal sound, and it may indicate that your garbage disposal is not functioning correctly. You may hear the humming sound when you turn on your garbage disposal, but it won’t grind up food waste. In such a case, it is best to call an experienced technician to address the issue.

    Jammed Blades

    There could be several reasons why your garbage disposal is humming and not grinding up food. The first reason could be that the disposal blades are jammed. This can happen when food waste gets caught in the blades. When the blades are jammed, they are unable to rotate.

    Several things have the potential to jam up your unit’s blades and cause a garbage disposal humming sound. Pieces of food that have been collected in the bottom of the unit may clog it up, or kitchen debris like bones that shouldn’t be in garbage disposals at all. Foreign objects, such as kitchen utensils, are common culprits that cause jams and garbage disposal humming. Make sure you do not put fruit and vegetable peels, egg shells, fruit pits, or non-food particles down garbage disposals.

    Bad Motor

    Humming garbage disposals are a common sign that the motor has gone bad. The motor is a vital part of the garbage disposal, and if it’s not working correctly, the disposal won’t function correctly. In such cases, it’s best to call a technician, and they can give you further instructions concerning the repair of your current unit or install a new garbage disposal.

    If the garbage disposal is turned on while an object has blocked the blades from spinning, its use has the potential to burn out the unit’s motor. With a bad motor, you’re probably looking at garbage disposal replacement rather than a repair. Once you verify there is no blockage down in the unit causing the garbage disposal to make unusual noises, you can try to reset the disposal by turning off the power and manually freeing the trapped food. Never stick your hand down a garbage disposal when it’s running.

    Other Garbage Disposal Noises

    Your garbage disposal should make some noise when it’s functioning correctly. However, if you notice that your garbage disposal is getting louder or making grinding or screeching noises, it could be a sign that it’s time for a new garbage disposal. If your garbage disposal is functioning well but making a loud noise, there is a chance that there is something loose within the grinder that is causing the sound.

    Another reason why your garbage disposal could be making strange noises is that the blades are worn out. Over time the blades can dull or even break, causing unusual sounds while in operation. Worn-out blades can also lead to clogs and jams, which is another sign that it’s time to replace the entire disposal. Dropping ice cubes down your garbage disposal now and again can help sharpen the blades.

    You Experience Frequent Clogs

    If you find yourself constantly having to unclog your garbage disposal, you may want to consider replacing it. While clogs can usually be easily handled through regular cleaning and maintenance, frequent clogs may be a sign of an underlying problem. It may indicate that the blades, motor, or any other part of your disposal is in need of replacement. A qualified technician can help you assess the problem and recommend the best course of action.

    How to Unclog Your Garbage Disposal

    Luckily, as long as a garbage disposal humming sound is addressed right away, this problem isn’t too complicated to solve on your own. The solution is often as simple as removing the object from the unit. Due to the nature of the equipment and the sharp blades within, you need to be sure you do so in a safe manner. Our licensed plumbers outline the steps to follow to remove objects stuck in your garbage disposal.

    • Turn off the power to your disposal. Turning it off at the wall switch is not enough – cut power to the unit at your home’s electrical panel.
    • At the bottom of your garbage disposal, there is a small hex-shaped hole. Using the hex wrench, which is also called an Allen wrench, included with your unit, insert the Allen wrench into the hole.
    • Turn the wrench clockwise. Doing so turns the disposal’s flywheel, which helps to break up the material jamming the blades.
    • Once you feel the resistance release and are able to turn the flywheel with ease, the jam has been eliminated. Use a pair of tongs or pliers to reach into the garbage disposal from the drain to pull out the offending object. And remember, never put your hands down the drain.
    • Make sure to pull out the Allen wrench and turn the power back on by resetting the circuit breaker at your home’s electrical panel.
    • Turn on the disposal at the wall switch. If it runs, flush it with hot water for about a minute to clear out any debris left down in the unit.

    Call Douglas for Plumbing Help!

    If you notice the garbage disposal humming when you flip the switch but can’t fix the jam or don’t know the cause, call your plumber for assistance. Douglas Cooling & Heating helps homeowners throughout Birmingham, AL with plumbing repairs for garbage disposals as well as other components of a home’s plumbing system. Contact us today to schedule a service call.


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    How Often Should Drains Be Cleaned?

    Thursday, March 30th, 2023

    As homeowners, we often take the plumbing system for granted until something goes wrong. One of the most common issues is clogged drains, which can lead to a lot of headaches and expenses if not handled promptly. Regular drain cleaning can prevent clogs and ensure that your plumbing system works efficiently. But, how often should you have your drains cleaned? Douglas Cooling & Heating discusses the signs that your drains are clogged, the benefits of professional drain cleaning, and how often you should have this service performed.

    Signs That Your Drains Are Clogged

    The first sign that your drain needs cleaning is a slow-draining sink, tub, or shower. When you notice that the water is taking longer than usual to drain, it means that there’s a buildup of debris in the clogged drain pipes. Other signs that you need drain cleaning include foul odors coming from your drains, gurgling sounds, and water backup. When you see any of these signs, it’s essential to take action promptly to prevent further damage.

    Benefits of Professional Drain Cleaning

    Regular drain cleaning services by a professional plumber can help prevent blockages and keep your drains in optimal condition. It can also help identify other underlying problems with your plumbing system before they escalate into costly repairs. When you schedule professional drain cleaning services, you’re guaranteed to work with knowledgeable professionals who use advanced techniques and equipment to eliminate clogs and buildup.

    Our plumbers have specialized drain cleaning tools to keep homes running smoothly. We can perform camera pipe inspections, which use a small camera mounted on the end of a rod to inspect the interior of drain lines. This technology not only allows our plumbers to find the source of drain issues quickly and effectively, but it allows them to clean tub and kitchen and bathroom sink drains thoroughly, too.

    A powerful drain auger can clear tough clogs and remove debris with ease, while a drain snake is great for reaching deep into pipes. We can also use jetting and snaking equipment – a powerful combination of high-pressure water jets and flexible rods – to break up any drain clog or residue buildup in the drain line. With these drain cleaning tools, at the hands of an experienced plumber, your home’s drainage system will be as good as new in no time.

    How Often Should You Have Your Drains Cleaned?

    The frequency of drain cleaning depends on several factors, including the number of people living in your home, your lifestyle, and the age of your plumbing system. However, as a general rule, it’s recommended to have professional drain cleaning services done annually. If you have a large family, you often host guests, or you own a commercial property, you may need more frequent drain cleaning services. On the other hand, if you live alone, you may not need to have your drains cleaned as often.

    Professional Drain Cleaning Services

    Regular drain cleaning is essential to keep your plumbing system functioning efficiently and prevent costly repairs. If you notice any of the signs of clogged drains, such as slow-draining kitchen or bathroom sinks, or foul odors, it’s crucial to take action by contacting a professional plumber right away. At Douglas Cooling & Heating, we provide top-notch drain cleaning services in Birmingham, AL. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with our plumbing professionals and keep your drains in tip-top condition.

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    Should I Be Worried If a House Has a Sump Pump?

    Monday, February 27th, 2023

    Buying a new home is a major life decision, one that requires careful consideration of all the factors involved. One of those factors is the sump pump, which is an important element in a home. Many home buyers consider a sump pump means a red flag because that means the basement has flooded in the past, however, that is not always the case. Below, Douglas Cooling & Heating explains what you should look for in a new house that comes with a sump pump and why sump pumps are a useful part of the home’s plumbing system.

    What Is a Sump Pump?

    A sump pump is a device used to remove water from basements and crawl spaces to prevent flooding. The pump is usually located near the lowest point in your crawl space or basement floor and collects water via drain pipes connected to the foundation walls or floor of your home. The collected water is then pumped out of the basement or crawl space through a discharge pipe, which typically leads outside away from your home’s foundation.

    It’s important that you have a battery backup for your sump pump because it can help protect your home during times of extreme weather or power outages. With a battery backup system, the sump pump will still work in the event of a power outage. Often storms heavy rains and high winds can cause you to lose power and cause flooding. A battery backup ensures that your basement or crawl space won’t flood even if there’s no access to electricity from the grid.

    What to Look for When Buying a Home with a Sump Pump?

    • When buying a home with a sump pump already installed, verify that the system is operational and in good working order. You should look out for signs of wear and tear on the system.
    • Furthermore, confirm that the drainage pipes connecting the sump pump to the outside valves are clean and operational. Your home inspector should warn you of any issues they notice when looking at a house with a sump pump. If you are serious about purchasing the home, you can have these issues addressed by the seller before closing on the property so that you don’t have to worry about them later down the line.
    • You should also ask about how often the system was serviced and who performs regular maintenance on it; this information can help you plan ahead for future maintenance costs and avoid unexpected expenses down the road. You can also ask how old the sump pump is, and when was the last time key components like the float switch and pump pit were replaced.
    • Prior to making the purchase, check that its circuit breaker is functioning properly, and make sure all the electrical connections are secure. Additionally, if possible, aim for a model with a sump pump alarm system so that you’re alerted if water levels rise too high in the sump pit.
    • If you see a sump pump installed in a home, carefully look for signs of water damage or foundational damage. These clues can tell you if there was a flooded basement or crawlspace in the past.

    Call Douglas Cooling & Heating for Sump Pump Maintenance, Repair, and Installation

    Sump pumps are essential components in any home because they help prevent flooding in basements and crawl spaces by removing excess water from these areas. Often it’s better to have a sump pump system in place than to be without one. It’s important that you look for backup power systems when buying a house with an existing sump pump, as this helps to prevent flooding in the event of a heavy storm that knocks out your power. For sump pump repair, maintenance, or installation in your current home or new residence, call Douglas Cooling & Heating today!

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    What Are the Pros and Cons of a Water Softener?

    Friday, January 27th, 2023

    If you’re considering installing a water softener, you may be hard-pressed to find someone who wouldn’t vouch for the benefits of having one. However, there’s definitely more than meets the eye when it comes to their use. In this blog post from Douglas Cooling & Heating, we’ll dive into the water softener pros and cons—allowing you to make an informed decision about investing in one for your home. Read on for expert insight so that your investment is guaranteed money well spent!

    What Does a Water Softener Do?

    Water softeners work by removing the high concentrations of calcium and magnesium ions in hard water from your entire plumbing system. The ion exchange process takes place inside the softener, where sodium ions are exchanged with calcium and magnesium ions that make water hard. In a water softening system, water sits in a brine tank that is filled with salt. This is where the calcium and magnesium changes take place. The resulting softened water has fewer minerals, which is preferred by many homeowners.

    Water Softener Pros and Cons

    There are many factors to consider when deciding whether or not to install a water softener system in your home. The water softener’s pros and cons can vary depending on your individual needs and circumstances. To help you make an informed decision, we’ve compiled a list of the top water softener pros and cons.


    • Softened water can extend the life of your pipes and appliances by preventing mineral buildup
    • Softer fabrics and less soap are needed for laundry
    • Soap and shampoo lather better and skin feels softer after bathing
    • Soft water eliminates mineral deposits which cause spots on glasses and stains in toilets and other appliances
    • Coffee, tea, and vegetables boiled or steamed in water will taste better


    • Potential maintenance concerns if not properly installed or maintained
    • Some people prefer the taste of hard water
    • Additional cost for installation and annual maintenance

    Benefits of Soft Water

    Now that you know some of the key water softener pros and cons, let’s take a closer look at the benefits of softened water. One of the biggest benefits is that it can help extend the life of your pipes and water-using appliances like washing machines. This is because softened water prevents calcium and magnesium minerals can buildup in appliances which can eventually lead to clogs and other problems.

    Softened water also saves money on laundry costs by allowing you to use less soap and resulting in softer fabrics. And, because soap lathers better in softened water, you’ll use less soap overall which can save you money in the long run. Laundry and general cleaning will be generally easier with softer water. Dishes washed in softened water will come out cleaner and glassware will be spot-free. Hardness minerals that appear in toilets and other appliances that come from your hard water supply will disappear when you have a water softener installed.

    If you enjoy drinking coffee or tea, you’ll notice that it tastes better with softened water as well. Overall, there are many potential benefits to installing a water softener in your home. Weighing the pros and cons carefully will help you decide if a water softener is right for you.

    Are You Ready for a Water Softener? Talk to Douglas Cooling & Heating

    When it comes to water softener pros and cons, overall, the pros of water softeners outweigh the cons. The benefits of softened water make it a worthwhile investment for many homes–especially those with hard water. If you’re considering a water softener for your home, Douglas Cooling & Heating can help. We are experts in installation and maintenance and would be happy to answer any questions you have about softened water. Give us a call today!

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    Why Does My Water Heater Run Out of Hot Water So Fast?

    Tuesday, January 10th, 2023

    Do you ever find yourself running out of hot water in the middle of a shower? Or, maybe you’re washing dishes and your hot water suddenly turns cold. No matter what’s causing it, a water heater running out of hot water can be incredibly frustrating. Douglas Cooling & Heating explains some common reasons for experiencing sudden, insufficient hot water in the home. Keep reading to find out more about potential issues that could be causing your water heater troubles, and learn the signs that it’s time to replace your water heater.

    Why Is My Water Heater Running Out of Hot Water So Fast?

    There are several common issues that can lead to a water heater running out of hot water quickly. Some of the most common issues include:

    • Sediment buildup: Over time, sediment can accumulate in the bottom of the water heater tank. This sediment buildup can restrict heat transfer from the heating element to the water supply, causing your hot water supply to run out quickly. To fix this issue, the water heater tank will need to be drained and flushed to remove the sediment – however, you don’t want to do this if your water heater is older and it’s never been flushed before, as it may open up leaks.
    • Leaking tank: If the water heater tank is leaking, it can cause the hot water to be lost before it reaches the faucets. This can be why you notice the water heater running out of hot water quickly. To fix this issue, typically the water heater tank will need to be replaced by a qualified plumber.
    • Faulty thermostat: The thermostat on a water heater is responsible to maintain constant water temperature in your water tank. If the thermostat is not functioning properly, the unit may not heat enough water, which can explain why your hot water supply dwindles so fast. To fix this issue, the thermostat will need to be repaired or replaced by a plumber.
    • Incorrect size: If the water heater is not the correct size for your home, it may not be able to provide enough hot water to meet your needs. This can cause the water heater to run out of hot water quickly. To fix this issue, you need to upgrade to a larger water heater or supplement your current water heater with a tankless water heater. 
    • High demand: If there are multiple people using hot water at the same time, it can put a strain on the water heater and cause it to run out of hot water quickly. In this case, you may need to upgrade to a larger water heater to meet your hot water needs.

    Overall, if you are experiencing issues with your water heater running out of hot water quickly, it is best to contact a qualified plumber to diagnose and repair the problem. Attempting to fix the issue yourself can be dangerous and may result in further damage to the water heater.

    Signs It’s Time for Water Heater Replacement

    In addition to not having enough heated water when you need it, there are several additional signs that it may be time to replace your water heater. These include:

    • Age: Most water heaters have a lifespan of about 8-12 years. As your water heater ages, you’ll notice more frequent performance issues. When you’ve had enough of cold showers, talk to a plumber about replacing your water heater. 
    • Rusty water: If the water from your faucets is rusty or has a metallic taste, it may be a sign that the water heater tank is rusting and needs to be replaced.
    • Leaks: If the water heater is leaking, it can cause significant damage to your home. Replacement is necessary to avoid this damage.
    • Insufficient hot water: If the water  heater is not able to provide enough hot water to meet your needs, it may be time to upgrade to a larger water heater, or add tankless water heaters around your home to limit the strain on your current water heater. 
    • High energy bills: If your energy bills have been steadily increasing without clear reason, it may be a sign that your water heater is becoming less efficient and may need to be replaced.

    Water Heater Repair & Replacement Services from Douglas Cooling & Heating

    When a nice hot shower is interrupted by a stream of cold water, it can be jarring. If you’ve had enough water heater issues, then it’s time to replace your system. Most of the time it’s a lack of hot water is due to one of the reasons we listed above. Douglas Cooling & Heating is here to help. We have a team of experienced professionals who can repair or replace your water heater in no time. Give us a call today and let us take care of all your water heater needs!

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    What Plumbing Emergencies Are Worth Calling a Plumber?

    Tuesday, January 10th, 2023

    As a homeowner, you need to be familiar with the kinds of repairs that require professional help. In addition, you also need to know which issues cannot wait and require immediate service. It’s important to know when it’s time to call a plumber, as plumbing emergencies – even small ones – can quickly turn into big problems. In this blog post, we’ll explain what plumbing emergencies demand urgent repairs and are worth calling Douglas Cooling & Heating for.

    What Constitutes a Plumbing Emergency?

    A plumbing emergency is any situation that requires immediate attention to prevent damage to your home or property. Some common scenarios that are worth calling an emergency plumber from Douglas Cooling & Heating for include:

    • Burst pipes: If a pipe bursts, it can cause significant water damage to your home. This is a plumbing emergency that requires immediate attention from a plumber to repair the burst pipe and prevent further damage.
    • Frozen pipes: When pipes freeze, there is a risk of them eventually bursting and causing a severe water leak in your home. Call an emergency plumber as soon as you discover your pipes are frozen so they can be thawed quickly.
    • Flooding: If your home is flooding, it can cause significant damage to your property and create a safety hazard. This is a plumbing emergency that requires immediate attention from a plumber to identify and repair the source of the flooding, whether it be a malfunctioning sump pump in the basement or an overflowing toilet.
    • Sewer backup: If the sewer system backs up, it can cause water and waste to overflow into your home, resulting in a major health hazard. This is a time when you must call an emergency plumber to clear the blockage, remove sewage from your home, and prevent further damage to your drainage system.
    • No hot water: If your water heater is not providing hot water, it can be more than an inconvenience. A household cannot function without the use of hot water. Douglas Cooling & Heating can diagnose and repair the water heater issue, ensuring that you have hot water when you need it.
    • Gas leaks: If you suspect that there is a gas leak in your home, it is a plumbing emergency that requires immediate attention from a plumber. Evacuate the home immediately and call your local utility company and an emergency plumber. Common causes of gas leaks are a gas water heater, gas stove, or furnace leak. 

    Overall, if you are experiencing any of the common plumbing emergencies above, it is important to call Douglas Cooling & Heating right away to request emergency plumbing repair services. Our team is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to assist you whenever you have a plumbing emergency.

    Solve Plumbing Problems Fast

    Homeowners should have plumbing issues resolved right away for several reasons. First and foremost, plumbing issues can cause significant damage to your home and property if they are not addressed promptly. Burst pipes, for example, can cause water damage to walls, floors, and furniture, and may require costly repairs. Fixing underlying issues to prevent burst pipes can avoid this. 

    Plumbing issues can also create safety hazards. For example, a gas leak can be dangerous and may require immediate attention from a plumber to ensure the safety of your home and family. A clogged toilet can cause waste to seep into your home. Plumbing issues can be inconvenient and disruptive. If your water heater is not providing hot water, it can make it difficult to complete daily tasks such as showering, washing dishes, and doing laundry.

    Overall, it is important to have plumbing issues resolved right away to prevent further damage, ensure the safety of your home and family, and maintain your daily routine.

    Call Douglas Cooling & Heating For 24/7 Emergency Plumbing Repair Services

    If you have any type of plumbing emergency, it is always best to call a professional right away rather than wait. Some people think that they can save money by waiting until regular business hours to call a plumber, but if the water has already caused damage to your home, it will end up costing you more in the long run. Douglas Cooling & Heating offers 24/7 emergency plumbing repair services so that you can rest assured knowing that help is on the way, no matter what time it is. Give us a call next time you need emergency plumbing services, call us right away and we’ll be there to help!

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