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Ask any plumber and they will tell you that people often flush things down the toilet that really should not be flushed. They’ve cleared enough clogs from toilet drain pipes to know the worst things that people flush. Save yourself the plumbing bill by never flushing any of the following things down your toilet.

Wet wipes

Baby wipes, wet wipes, and cleaning wipes are often marketed as “flushable” wipes, but many of them are only flushable in the same way that a t-shirt or towel is flushable. Yeah, maybe you can flush them, but they are going to cause clogs, if not in your drain pipe, then in the sewer line or at your municipal wastewater treatment plant. Many wipes simply do not disintegrate quickly enough to prevent clogs and backed-up sewer lines.

7 other things you should never flush

In addition to “flushable” wipes, here’s other things you should never flush down the toilet.

1. Paper Towels

After wiping up a mess in the bathroom, tossing a paper towel in the toilet might seem like an easy way to get rid of it. But consider those paper towel commercials that boast about how strong and absorbent their paper towels are. There’s your top two reasons not to flush them!

2. Feminine hygiene products

Would you believe there’s a good reason why public bathrooms often have signs telling you not to flush feminine hygiene products down the toilet? Tampons and pads are designed to be ultra-absorbent and they expand as they get wet. You don’t want them expanding in your drain pipe.

3. Condoms

Condoms are what plumbers least like to pull out of the toilet drain. Latex prophylactics take years to degrade and even if they get through your drain pipe, they will cause issues in your city’s wastewater treatment system.

4. Floss

Long strands of floss can wrap around other things, creating string balls that can create clogs by collecting more “solids.”

5. Cotton Swabs

Throw used cotton swabs in the garbage because if flushed they will get jammed in the drain pipe and then act like a little dam, blocking other things from continuing down the drain.

6. Hair

When you pull those clumps of hair out of your brush, toss them in the trash not in the toilet. Hair does not dissolve and will worsen any little blockage in the drain pipe.

7. Too much toilet paper

The problem with thicker, multi-ply, plush toilet paper is that it does take a bit longer to dissolve. If you have to use a lot of it, flush a couple of times rather than sending it all down at once.

Summary

If it’s too late now and you know you have flushed some of these things down your toilet, call a Ameriserve plumbing at 610-258-2591 if the toilet is not draining properly. If it’s still good, count yourself lucky and stop flushing these things down the drain.

Find us on-line at AmeriserveNow.com

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Help! My Kitchen Sink Is Gurgling—What Do I Do?

It’s frustrating enough doing all the dishes that the family seems to leave in and all around the kitchen sink, but when you finish the dishes and drain the sink and it gurgles back at you, that’s maddening! Why is the kitchen drain gurgling like that? Let’s figure out what you can do to get your kitchen sink to stop gurgling.

Could it be a clogged drain pipe?

The kitchen sink drain probably gets used more than all the other sinks in your house combined. Even without a garbage disposal, there’s a lot of food that ends up being rinsed off of plates and going down the drain. Certainly food debris (and hardened grease for those who think rinsing frying pans in the sink is a good idea) can clog the drain over time. If the drain pipe gets to be partially obstructed, the water will still drain but air will get trapped at the obstruction and make that gurgling sound. If bubbles come up when the dishwater is draining, this is the likely cause.

Don’t run out and buy a liquid drain cleaner. These products are harsh chemicals that can be dangerous. And in many cases they do more damage than good, especially to older drain pipes. Unless you want to invest in a proper plumbing snake and other equipment, it’s best to call a plumbing professional to clear the drain pipe for you. Even if it’s just a little gurgling and not slowing the drain down much, it’s best to get it dealt with before it becomes a bigger obstruction.

How about a blocked vent pipe?

This is the classic cause of the gurgling sound you hear after the sink has drained, maybe even a few seconds after the water has drained. A vent pipe is attached to the drain pipe under your sink to allow sewer gas to escape. These vent pipes run to the roof of your house and vent outside, but they can become blocked by leaves, dirt or nesting material from birds. The vent pipe can sometimes be roughed in behind the cabinetry or in the wall so it can be hard to find. The best solution to this gurgling problem is to call a plumber who can quickly verify the problem and then clear that vent pipe properly.

Was your sink just recently installed (or reinstalled)?

If a new sink drain is gurgling, it’s probably because the drain pipe has not been properly installed. Non-professionals sometimes do not understand the importance of the P-trap, routing of pipes and the proper hook-up of a vent pipe. It would be best to get a professional plumber to correct the plumbing in this case.

Summary

If your kitchen sink is gurgling, it’s telling you there’s a problem with airflow in the drain pipe. There could be a clog or blockage or even an improper installation. A plumber can listen to the gurgle and quickly determine how best to get rid of it. Call AmeriServe Now for fast same day service at 610-258-2591

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When summer is coming on, it can be surprising how quickly we adjust the thermostat from giving us a little heat in the morning to take the chill off the house to switching on the air conditioning to combat the afternoon heat. Even if the furnace has been working well throughout the winter, if you start hearing one of these seven sounds, you may have a problem and need to contact an HVAC professional before it turns into an even larger repair bill.

Scraping Sound

A loud scraping noise, a grating metal-on-metal sound, coming from inside your furnace could be a serious problem with the blower wheel. Maybe the wheel is coming apart from the shaft and scraping the casing or in some other way the motor is causing the wheel to scrape the casing. Turn off the air conditioning and/or furnace immediately and call an HVAC service company.

Fast Clicking/Flicking Sound

Remember that sound when you were a kid and attached a playing card to the spokes of your bicycle wheel? If you hear that kind of fast thwapping sound from your furnace, something might be stuck on one of the blower wheel blades or one the housing around the wheel. While your air conditioning (or heat) may be working just fine, this stuck object is causing resistance and it will cause excessive wear on the motor. Get it cleaned up by a furnace technician.

Squealing Sound

A squealing noise from the blower motor could be caused by a belt wearing out. That’s normally not an expensive repair and best taken care of before the belt stretches further or breaks.

Grinding Or Metal Groaning Sound

A bearing problem in the blower motor will make a dull repetitive groan. Some blower motors have ports for adding lubricant, but some are sealed. Adding lubricant will often eliminate the groaning sound, but you have to use the correct oil, not WD-40. An HVAC company doing an annual maintenance inspection on your furnace would like do this kind of lubrication.

Rattling Sound

If you hear a rattling sound from your central air conditioning unit outside of the house when the air conditioning is coming on, the hardware around the compressor could be loose. An air conditioning service repair person should be contacted.

Popping Sound Or Banging Sound

If you turn on the furnace for heat and you hear popping sounds or a distinct banging sound (like from a cap gun), the furnace probably has dirty burners that need to be cleaned. The gas is not being ignited right away. Instead it’s building up and then igniting in a mini-explosion. You’ll want to get this serviced by a professional immediately.

Summary

When operating properly, your HVAC system should be fairly quiet, but if you’re hearing one of these seven sounds you really should contact an AmeriServe your HVAC professional to come in and repair the problem before it turns into an even bigger problem.

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Top Tips For Annoying Toilet Clogs

It’s a really good idea to have a plunger in the bathroom for the next time the toilet is clogged. It can easily be stored under the sink or in a storage closet. And it is the best and quickest way to clear most clogs from the toilet.

But what if you don’t have a plunger? Maybe you’re at the cottage without a plunger. Maybe your plunger broke and you haven’t hand a chance to get a new one. Is there any hope for clearing a clog?

Hot water

Put on the kettle and pour a full kettle of hot water into the toilet. This works surprisingly well most of the time. It works even better when used in conjunction with a plunger, but will often been effective even without it.

Baking soda and vinegar

You might have heard AmeriServes recommendation to use baking soda and vinegar to unclog a sink. This fizzing/dissolving solution can sometimes work for a clogged toilet too. You don’t want to recreate your volcano project from elementary school so be careful with the amount of baking soda and vinegar you combine in the toilet bowl. Start by scooping out a quarter-cup of baking soda into the toilet bowl as close to the drain as possible and then add an equal amount (quarter-cup) of vinegar. The bubbles and fizzing action should drop down to the clog. Depending on the result you see you may want to repeat or try a half-cup. Follow it up by pouring a kettle full of hot water into the bowl.

Even if this doesn’t full clear the clog, if you see improvement repeat the baking soda and vinegar. When it fully works you should hear a quick suction sound and then see the water drain naturally. Follow up with hot water and a couple of flushes to be sure it’s cleared.

What not to do

Many homeowners will run to the grocery store and purchase a bottle of chemicals that are supposedly “guaranteed” to clear the drain. AmeriServe Plumbing does not recommend these products as they are harsh chemicals. They are unsafe and may be corrosive to your plumbing or cause damage to older pipes. They may even cause serious injury if they splash on you or on a technician who comes in to clear the clog. Consumers often report that these drain-cleaning chemicals fail to clear stubborn clogs. In many cases you’re just pouring your money down the drain with these chemicals.

Don’t ever use baking soda and vinegar before or after using these drain-cleaning chemicals. Remember it’s impossible to completely clear out all these different components before trying something different because after all the drain is clogged.

The best solutions…

If the hot water and baking soda, vinegar and hot water methods fails to unclog your toilet, you could always go out and buy yourself a plunger. There are definitely times when a clog is so stubborn that only a professional plumber will be able to clear it completely and quickly. So don’t hesitate calling a AmeriServe Plumbing at 610-258-2591 if these methods fail to clear the clog.

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Do you find yourself wearing a sweater in some rooms of your house but just a t-shirt in other rooms of your house?

Or maybe you walk from one room, through a central room, to another part of your Phillipsburg Hj. house and find that one spot is just a bit chillier.

These “cold spots” in your home are especially noticeable when the temperatures are cool — during fall, winter, and spring — but it’s possible in some areas that they may exist all year ’round.

So, what are “cold spots” in your home, anyway?

Your home’s HVAC system works on a simple premise: Air is drawn through vents (internal vents and/or external vents) and pushed into your furnace. From there, the air is warmed and then forced out through the ductwork in your walls, through vents, and into the rooms of your house.

But here’s the thing: air is invisible but it acts a lot like water: It flows in easy, meandering ways around a room, invisibly bouncing off of walls and furniture. In fact, if you could see the air flow from a vent, you’d notice that it moved and flowed from vents outward throughout the room but it stops and redirects when it hits an obstruction.

Therefore, some areas of your home may not get air flow. The air just sits there. And, depending on the air flow and air pressure in the house, the ambient temperature (and temperature fluctuations) inside your home and outside, as well as other factors, cold spots can be created. Simply put, warm air isn’t flowing there; it flows around or is stopped.

You may especially notice cold spots by windows or exterior doors (no surprise there) but you may also notice cold spots near exterior walls, which could indicate that the insulation has degraded slightly. Or, you may notice cold spots in unusually shaped rooms, or rooms where the HVAC ducts aren’t venting into the center of the room.

These are just a few of the reasons, and it really depends on a number of factors.

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do about it. If you want a simple, temporary solution, add a small fan nearby to circulate the air more effectively in the room. Another option, in rooms that are larger but not too unusually shaped, consider a ceiling-mounted fan.

However, some homeowners want more effective fixes for challenging cold spots, especially in hard-to-reach places. For these scenarios, you may consider installing extra vents to get the air flowing into that area. 

There are other options of course but this is a great starting point.

Your home should be comfortable — you shouldn’t have to avoid one area of your home just because it’s colder than other areas!

If you notice cold spots in your home, there’s lots you can do about it so take a walk around your home and make note of all the cold spots… and see if you can’t transform them into comfortable warm areas!

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Springtime Plumbing Tips For Homeowner

Spring is here in most parts of the country… and with spring comes a mix of weather for many people! This could include rain… maybe snow… warm days but cold nights.

And the result? It’s hard on your plumbing! 

Those warm days may make you want to open up the windows and turn on the garden hose and start taking care of your lawn.

But then the cold nights still come and in some areas that can actually freeze your pipes and cause them to burst, spilling water everywhere; it’s a costly mess.

So, what should you do this spring? Here are several tips to help you navigate the ups and downs of spring to keep your plumbing working the way it should!

#1. Make sure you close your windows at night. The warm spring air during the day is nice but it can really cool off and freeze those pipes. You don’t want that! Make sure the windows are closed at night to keep pipes from freezing. (And you probably won’t mind being warm too, right?)

#2. Maybe wait on the garden hose. You may want to wait a week or two before pulling out the garden hose. At least make sure the temperatures don’t drop below freezing at night. If they do (and depending on how fast it freezes and for how long), the hose faucet and even your garden hose could be damaged. Likely you’ll be able to run your hose soon but just be cautious of those night-time temperatures.

#3. Clean your gutters. This might seem like an odd PLUMBING suggestion but you’ll see why in a moment: over winter, debris like leaves and sticks can collect in your gutters. Then when springtime rains come, the water runs into your gutters and spills out over the sides and pools at your foundation instead of running down the downspout and away from your house. Once pooling at your foundation, the water then runs down and may collect in weeping tiles… but it could also enter your home and cause flooding. So, make sure you have a sump pump all set up to collect and move water that could be rising underneath your house, and send it away from your home.

#4. Remove snow and standing water from around your foundation. If your area got snow over the winter and it’s melting now and pooling by your foundation, you’ll want to remove it. Sure, this may not affect everyone in the same way right now but a flood is something you won’t want to risk. Again, make sure you have a sump pump ready

#5. Spring cleaning: don’t forget about your pipes. Lastly, when you’re doing spring cleaning, don’t forget about your pipes; especially the wastewater pipes that move water out of your home. They should be cleaned too! Have a plumber come in and inspect your pipes and clean them out each year so you never have to worry about backed up lines that won’t drain.

Summary

April is here! Spring is here! That means we can all enjoy the beautiful weather and the great outdoors. But as a homeowner, be aware that the fluctuating temperatures of spring could be hard on your plumbing. These simple tips will help keep things flowing for you!

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Happy Spring!

The birds are singing, the leaves are appearing on trees, and it’s a time when many people are thinking about spring cleaning. If you’re opening up your windows for some fresh spring-time air and cleaning up your home for the spring, don’t forget your plumbing!

Just like other parts of your home, your plumbing needs to be cleaned too! When you clean up your plumbing, you’ll save money and enjoy worry-free, problem-free water for this season and many more to come.

Spring is Time to check your Phillipsburg homes Plumbing

Here are some tips to help you know what to clean when it comes to your home’s your Phillipsburg plumbing:

#1. Toilet. Clean out the bowl as you normally would, and also clean out inside of the tank. Avoid using harsh chemicals. It doesn’t hurt to give your toilet a plunge, or consider pouring a small bucket of water into the bowl from about waist level to “power flush” your toilet. Remind your family not to put trash in the toilet: never flush paper towels, tissue, diapers, or tampons. These things do not break up correctly and can clog your pipes. Additionally, use the minimum amount of toilet paper required to clean up after you are done.

#2. Bathroom sink. Ensure that your sink’s overflow holes are clear. Overflow holes are used in case the sink starts to overfill, which may not seem like a big problem–until it is. Fill your sink to test the overflow holes and clear any overflow holes that are clogged.

#3. Bathtub. To keep things flowing smoothly through the drain of your bathtub, each month you should feed it baking soda—one cup’s worth, with a cup of vinegar to chase it. Plug up the drain and allow the chemical reaction to occur. Wait for a little while, and then pour boiling water down the drain. This method clears out soap scum buildup and accumulated hair that gets caught in the pipes. Avoid slow bathtub drains by using a drain straining device to collect hair that would normally clog the pipes. This inexpensive device, when cleaned regularly, will prevent a lot of problems.

#4. Kitchen sink. Your kitchen sink drain takes in a lot of debris, including grease and fat, which can clog the drain and slow drainage. Pour boiling water down your kitchen sink drain to proactively clear the build-up. Consider using a drain straining device here too.

#5. Garbage disposal. Don’t use your hands to clean your garbage disposal. You can actually use lemon rinds or dishsoap to do it!  And when you use your garbage disposal, avoid pouring grease or fat into it because that can clog up the machine and your pipes, especially when the grease or fat cools off.

#6. Dishwasher. Check your dishwasher for leaks. Remove and clean the drain straining device.

#7. Water heater. Take a look at your water heater. Is it producing enough hot water for you? Are there leaks or visible cracks? Be proactive; don’t wait for your water heater to break before you do something about it.

Summary

Spring is here and for many people that means it’s time to do a big spring cleaning. When you do, don’t forget your pipes because they are crucial to helping you keep your Phillipsburg family comfortable and clean and quenched all year long! Call AmeriServe at 908-859-0207 or find us online at www.ameriservenow.com

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Quick Tips For HVAC Safety

Chances are, you don’t give much thought to the system that warms your Easton PA. home in the winter and cools your home in the summer.

And why should you? You leave it to the experts to take care of it for you; meanwhile, you focus on more important things in your life—like family, work, etc. As long as everything runs normally, you shouldn’t have to give it a second thought; just sit back and enjoy the temperature and air flow as everything works as it should in the background.

Heating service in Easton Pa

But what happens if it doesn’t work as it should?

With winter here, you don’t want to get cold or uncomfortable as you discover it doesn’t work. And if there’s an emergency, you want to be able to act fast to deal with it.

So, here are some tips to help you be “HVAC aware” this month… to give your HVAC system a little bit of love so it will continue to keep you and your family comfortable.

Tip #1. Let’s start with the word HVAC itself: It stands for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning, and it’s the name given to the entire system that heats and cools your home. It often includes your furnace, your air conditioning unit, as well as the ductwork that runs through your walls.

Tip #2. Find out what kind of heating system you have. Is it electric? Oil? Natural gas? (Note: even systems that run on oil and natural gas may also be plugged in to your home’s electrical system.) You should also know the brand, the year it was installed, and the company that installed it. Keep this information on the HVAC system but also keep it handy in a drawer somewhere else so that you can make a quick call to that company if you ever need more information in a hurry.

Tip #3. Find out how to turn your furnace and air conditioner off and on, including any switches ON the system itself as well as how to turn it on and off at your circuit panel. If there’s ever a fire, you’ll want to be able to turn off your HVAC system at the circuit panel if you can’t get to the system itself.

Tip #4. If your system is fed from a municipal supply (such as natural gas), learn where those pipes are and if there is a place to turn off the supply. If there’s ever a leak, know how to turn it off fast.

Tip #5. Look for exhaust pipes. Depending on your system, your HVAC system might use a chimney or an exhaust pipe. Keep these free from blockages. For example, make sure that leaves or snow don’t block up the exhaust pipe, and make sure that small animals don’t get into your chimney.

Tip #6. Even though you can’t see most of the ductwork, you can see the vents! Know where they are and see which vents blow OUT warm (or cool) air, and which vents take in air to circulate it back to the system. Keep an eye on these vents and keep them free from being blocked by furniture.

Tip #7. Know where the filters are. Different systems use filters in different ways. Those filters help to remove particles from the air that you would otherwise breathe. Clean those filters regularly and replace them regularly too.

Tip #8. Use all your senses to monitor your HVAC system. If it starts to sound unusual or smell unusual, take action right away. Turn it off and call an expert HVAC company like Ameriserve Heating Service at 610-258-2591 and get their help.

Summary Your HVAC system is an important system in your home and it works 24/7 to keep your family safe and comfortable. But if it suddenly stops working the way you want, your February can very quickly go from warm and cozy to cold! Use these tips to be HVAC Aware this month and throughout the year.

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Tips for your homes plumbing

If you own a home in Easton, Pa then you know a key part of home ownership is caring and maintaining your home’s plumbing system.

While there are licensed professionals to do a lot of the work that needs to be done, there are a few things you can do with your home’s plumbing to keep it maintained in between check-ups with your friendly neighborhood plumber.

#1. Avoid using harsh chemicals in your pipes. The chemicals poured down your toilet (including bleach or even those blue odor-removing tablets) can eat away at the rubber parts in the toilet, which means you’ll need to replace them if they degrade too much. As well, you could cause very serious injury to yourself or a plumber if they are working on the pipes and those chemicals splash out of the pipes and gets in their eyes or on their skin.

#2. If your pipes squeak or knock, you may want to anchor them with clips or brackets. Do not drill holes in your plumbing! Instead, use clips or brackets to secure the pipes to beams and joists in your home. If the pipes are inaccessible to you, consider getting a plumber to help.

#3. Keep an eye out on your floor (especially in your basement and around your toilet and sink) for water. This could indicate leaking and you’ll want to fix that right away before it gets worse. Some leaks are simple fixes with a small repair, others may require a greater effort. A plumber will be able to help you find the source of the leak and recommend some quick and simple fixes.

#4. Avoid putting any fats, oils, or grease down the drain. These substances can harden and cause pipe back-ups, making a huge and costly mess on your floor. Dispose of household trash in your garbage and locate a local grease/oil depot to dispose of these substances. Occasionally, dump boiling water down your drains to clear any fat or cooking oil that may have been inadvertently poured down the drain.

#5. Keep other household drains clear by pouring a cup of baking soda down your drain, followed by a cup of vinegar. Do this monthly to help agitate any debris or build-up. Repeat if necessary. Flush with a pot of boiling water (be careful that it does not splash you when pouring!)

#6. Use an inexpensive “hair catcher” (available at most dollar stores) to prevent hair from running down your drain and collecting in your pipes.

#7. If you live in an area that can get below freezing during the winter, make sure you turn off your water and drain your pipes before you leave for an extended period of time (such as a winter vacation). That way, if your house freezes, it won’t cause a pipe burst from frozen water.

Summary

Owning a home is a great privilege and the American Dream. But it also comes with responsibility to make sure you are maintaining it. These simple tips from Ameriserve will help you keep your Easton home’s plumbing (and your home) in tip top shape!

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Winter is coming, is your HVAC system ready?

Fall is here… Winter is coming… will you be warm and comfortable through it all? A properly running HVAC system can mean the difference between comfort and discomfort in your home. After all, you invested in a furnace or HVAC system so the following article will help you maximize your investment. You can enjoy a warm, worry-free home through the fall and winter when you use these tips to maintain your HVAC system.

Ameriserve will keep you warm this winter

Locate all the vent and air exchange covers in your home and ensure they are free of dust and debris, and are not blocked by furniture or large objects. This will help to keep dust from blowing around your home and also make sure proper air flow and consistent heat to each room.

Clean and/or replace your HVAC filters regularly (as often as is recommended by the furnace manufacturer or your HVAC installing expert). In many cases, you may able to vacuum the filter every month (more often if you have pets) and replace the filter every 3-4 months.

Have your ducts cleaned regularly. Before winter is a great time to have them cleaned because the windows will be closed for winter so you won’t get new dust and debris coming in. Vacuum your home around the same time to eliminate any dust that is currently outside of the ductwork, to keep it from cycling back in.

Test your HVAC system before you need it. Run your system and listen for unusual sounds or smells.

You’ll want to do this for two reasons.

  1. First, you might notice a very slight burning smell as a small amount of dust burns off of the heating unit, so it’s nice to be able to open the windows and air that out. (Note: the burning smell should disappear quickly. If it persists or is very strong, shut your HVAC unit down and call an HVAC expert right away.)
  2. Second, testing your HVAC system before you need it means that if there is a problem, you can get it fixed right away instead of being uncomfortably cold while the system is being repaired!

If you try running your HVAC system and it doesn’t turn on, look at the following things first:

  • Is your HVAC unit plugged in?
  • Did you check the circuit breakers to make sure they are in the correct position?
  • Do the batteries need to be changed in your thermostat?

These 3 simple steps could be the difference between an HVAC system that works and one that doesn’t.

If your HVAC unit has pipes that connect to the outside of your house (such as exhaust and fresh air intake pipes), make sure they are clear of debris and not blocked by anything.

If you need to call an HVAC professional, check the brand name and model number of your HVAC unit over the phone. This will help them understand the situation better even before they arrive at your home.

Summary With the colder weather on its way, it’s important to make sure that your home is safe and comfortable for your family. That means making sure your HVAC system is running the way you want it to run. Use these tips and ideas to help you have a more comfortable home for your family.

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