Property Management Blog

Navigating Plumbing, Heating and Air Maintenance

Bob Preston - Tuesday, November 5, 2019
{{ post.title }}

The following blog post is a time-stamped, full transcript of Bob Preston’s interview of John Padilla, owner of John Padilla Plumbing. The episode was recorded October 17, 2019 and published on the Property Management Brainstorm Podcast. The audio version of this podcast can be found at this link of the North County Property Group website, as Episode 23- Property Management Plumbing, Heating, and Air: Property Management Brainstorm Show

Bob Preston:                      01:09                     Welcome, welcome, welcome to the Property Management Brainstorm Podcast. I'm Bob Preston, your host of the show, broadcasting from our studio at North County Property Group in Del Mar, California. Before we get started today I would like to give a shout out to my friends at Buzzsprout, the podcast hosting platform I use for producing Property Management Brainstorm. To start your own podcast and get a free $20 Amazon gift card, follow the link in the episode notes. This lets Buzzsprout know that I sent you and helps support our show. On today's episode we're going to discuss one area of property management which comes up on a regular basis and that is plumbing, heating and air. It's a topic that can be kind of confusing today because there are a lot of different California building codes that have been changing and we always have to make sure that our properties are up to code as do our vendors. And so I have with me today the founder and president of one of our main partners and preferred vendors here at North County Property Group. It's John Padilla of John Padilla Plumbing, Heating and Air. And so thank you John for being here today. 

John Padilla:                      2:09                        Thank you for inviting me. 

Bob Preston:                      2:10                        It's great to have you. We've been doing business with you as one of our partners now for a few years and I know a little bit about your company and I worked with a lot of your team and your son Johnny, and from what I understand it's a family run business and you've been doing this for many, many years, over 45 years and perhaps you I think you started in the air force. So maybe you can just start by telling the audience about you, about your career, the end of this and today what's going on with John Padilla Plumbing, Heating and Air.

John Padilla:                      02:37                     Thank you. Yes. I joined the air force in 1971 and they trained me as a plumber, so I spent four and a half years, almost five years in the air force, most of the time in Europe where I took care of housing and interesting plumbing in Europe to say the least, but they give me a good training, a good basis. I came out of the air force and I went to work for the contractor state license board for 10 years. I investigated construction litigation and that was quite an experience. Learning about contractor law, getting to see the other side of enforcement and learning a lot about what not to do.

Bob Preston:                      03:09                     Some batch jobs along that you got to, you got to see.

John Padilla:                      03:11                     It was amazing. Some of the things that we would see out there and then we would turn state witness. Our investigative reports were used and spend a lot of time in court. After that I came out and went into the field, was a general manager for many years helping build plumbing companies here in San Diego. And then my son and I decided to get together. My son is a graduate from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He's a mechanical engineer, so having a mechanical engineer and he, he has the air conditioning licenses, definitely a benefit for our company and gives us a little bit of an edge on everyone. So we decided to go ahead and open up our own company with my background with the contractors license board and all the years of helping build businesses, you know, put a template together of providing good customer service and really looking into the property management side of the business. We feel that there's a huge market, especially here in San Diego and you know, that's our niche right now. We do some COD business, but we really like working with property management.

Bob Preston:                      04:11                     We like you too, I mean you guys are responsive, you know how our business works and what the urgent things are. So your areas are general plumbing or of all types, right? And then the heating and air conditioning as well. Anything else that falls in the mix there for your company?

John Padilla:                      04:25                     No. Um, you know, we have all the latest equipment, the hydrogen eaters for those difficult drains. We have the camera equipment, leak detection, leak detection as well. So you know, we stay on top of, you know, trying to lead the industry in our field.

Bob Preston:                      04:38                     And I'm sure you see a lot of stuff, a lot of interesting cases and cases.

John Padilla:                      04:43                     You know there's a lot of old cast iron pipe in San Diego and especially if you're buying a home, I would definitely recommend you know that you camera that sewer line. Those are not cheap fixes. Yeah. You know, you can buy a million, two million home and not know what the plumbing is made of or what the condition of that plumbing is. Intrusions or broken pipe.

Bob Preston:                      05:02                     Right. Interesting. Okay. So for the purpose of today, cause we're going to have to stay focused with our time constraint. I was hoping we could focus on three main topics that I think would be interesting to our listeners. And so the first one we're going to touch on is water heaters. Water heaters seem to be a particular issue here in San Diego. We'll cover that in a minute. The second one would be low flow plumbing fixtures and toilets. What that's all about when you have to comply with new regulations on that. And then the third area will be HVAC basically, you know, heating and air conditioning systems and cause those are kind of seasonal in nature. We just came out of summer, we're going into the winter. So does that sound like a good, those are good, great plan, good topics. And those are probably three of the areas you see most with your property management clients like us as well. So let's talk water heaters because that seems to be an item that we see fail. I don't want to say frequently, but it happens, you know, on occasion at our properties and when it does, it's kind of a deal for us because wow, I mean there's usually some leaking involved. The tenant and our properties without water, which is a big deal sometimes both hot and cold water. But for sure. Well hot water. So what's the deal with water heaters in San Diego? Why? Why do they seem to fail so frequently? Or is there a water situation or what? Where do you see out there?

John Padilla:                      06:16                    No, we have seen a differential in temperature from the cool to the heat of the day. Those tanks expand. And contract and it's wear and tear on those and they eventually start to crack and leak on your right. The water damage is one of the biggest issues. So some of the new code covers the fact that uh, you know these things are going to leak. You will have water damage and how they should be piped so it could limit the amount of damage to your have properties.

Bob Preston:                      06:42                     Is there anything to do with the water quality? The amount of mineral content we see, cause I know the water here is not the greatest, right? 

John Padilla:                      06:49                     No it's not. But maintaining that water heater is essential. You know a lot of people do not do the yearly maintenance. You need to drain that down, flush it out, fill it up again, drain it down again, flush it one more time. Check all the components and that will extend the life of your water heater. 

Bob Preston:                      07:06                     Okay. And is there a typical scenario you would see with a water heater and what does your team look for when they're assessing? Like if we call and say, Hey, we think we have a failing water heater, what would your team look for? 

John Padilla:                      07:15                     You know, we look for the pilot first to make sure that you know that the pilot is functioning properly. We turn on the water and it activates the gas of burners to make sure that activates properly and all the burners are working properly. We look for the amount of flow coming out of the hot water side of the fixtures as well and make sure that there's nothing clog. And again, if you don't maintain it, it builds a lot of really ugly junk. The bottom of these water heaters, rust, then there's calcification, it almost looks like oatmeal. That's a real odd substance. So is that what gets flushed out if you do a regular flushing? Exactly. Okay. Yes. And that maintains it. 

Bob Preston:                      07:57                     Can too high of water pressure impact your water heater. Do you ever see that have an impact? 

John Padilla:                      08:03                     High water pressure mostly impacts the fixtures, so you really need to maintain that as well. But any type of high water pressure is going to put a lot of pressure, for lack of a better term, on the piping, the fixtures, especially a little angle stops underneath the sink and the risers that go from those angle stop to your fixtures.

Bob Preston:                      08:20                     Okay. All right. Well as I mentioned before, with tenants in a property and even if a property owner is living in their home themselves, it can be pretty urgent because you're without water or certainly without hot water. So how was your team equipped to respond to these kind of because me become pretty urgent, right? Hey, you don't have any water. You may be leaking out. How does your team go about responding? 

John Padilla:                      08:39                     Well, we go out there and we assess the situation. If you have a leaking tank, we will advise you right away. As you all know, we sometimes recommend if there is a situation where you need to get a hold of the owners to make sure that you get approval to replace these, yet that we provide a loop so that at least they have cold water. We don't like to leave your tenants without any water at all. So then we get the approval. We change the water heater and bring it up to the latest codes.

Bob Preston:                      09:05                     Well, let's talk about the codes because I know that can be kind of confusing. We've had some cases in the past year where owners have a water heater that fail on their property and then we go to replace it and they're all, Whoa, this is, you know, a lot different than what I've had in the past. And I think there's a cost differential too. So maybe you can bring us up to speed on what the code is today. 

John Padilla:                      09:23                     Sure. On the new water heaters, especially the ultra-low nox water heaters is what they sell in the market. Now they burn a lot hotter. So it's requiring, and it is a requirement per code to add an expansion tank. Of course it has to be earthquake strapped like all water heaters do. There is a pan that's required and that pan needs to run down to the garage floor if it's anywhere else, if it's in within the house. And that has to be run to the exterior. And then there's the gas sediment trap that's a requirement now as well. So you know, a lot of new requirements, the water heaters are more expensive because of the ultra-low nox factor in them. And of course unfortunately that goes to the consumer. 

Bob Preston:                      10:05                     Let's talk about what low nox is. Is that by low nox is that a lower emissions to reduce carbon greenhouse gases?

John Padilla:                      10:12                     You know exactly how it's exactly what it is. And because of those requirements, especially in the state of California, there's several States that have that. I think there's six. Um, but of course, you know, it's, it's costly and especially here in California for us. 

Bob Preston:                      10:25                     And why do they run hotter?

John Padilla:                      10:26                     Because they're a closed chamber. They're a little bit more efficient as far as the gas burning components. Okay. And so it makes it run hotter thermal expansion and therefore, you know, you have to have that expansion tank. 

Bob Preston:                      10:40                     Interesting. So it's a, it has to still be vented to the exterior of the home. Right. 

John Padilla:                      10:46                     All of it does. The rest, it's all the same. It's still vented to the exterior. The piping has to be insulated on the hot side. So the inspectors are really, really looking to make it safe for the consumer. We like to pull permits on everything, so we prefer the inspector going in there and looking at it and say, yes, you know, this is a good installation. You were signing you off. I feel better. The consumer feels better, your tenants feel better and your owners are more at ease. 

Bob Preston:                      11:12                     So is that typical like at a home replacement you would have actually an inspected and signed off by and permitted? 

John Padilla:                      11:15                     Yes, I do. It is a requirement of contractors, state license law and the city also requires it as well. 

Bob Preston:                      11:22                     Okay. What about the space opening for the water heater or the low nox? Any different in their size? I think they're fatter for lack of better description. Right. 

John Padilla:                      11:30                     Wider and a little bit taller. So in a lot of those situations we can't get those water heaters back in there. So we've been jumping to the alternative of a tankless water heater. In some cases. With a tankless you have to have electrical. We have to move the gas, but they're very, very efficient. Once you get them going, they're not instant. And a lot of people have the misconception of a tankless water heater that you're going to have instant hot water and no, the water that's already passed the tank was, is going to be on your system and it has to purge that. But once the hot water starts to go, it never ends.

Bob Preston:                      12:00                     And that's true of a conventional water heater as well. I mean you have to let the cold water round pie unless you have one of these research systems. 

John Padilla:                      12:11                     Unless you have a research system, but the only differences is tank type water heater will run out of hot water where the tankless will not. 

Bob Preston:                      12:17                     Are there any other circumstances where you might recommend tankless? 

John Padilla:                      12:21                     If you have a large family or one of the reasons I got one from my house is I have three daughters and a wife that were constantly using the hot water. By the time I got into the shower, I wasn't very comfortable. So, uh, you know, being a plumber, I decided to go ahead and install one in my home and it's perfect for that situation. If you use a lot of hot water, if you have someone that's washing all the time or you have a lot of people that are showering, this is the ideal way to go.

Bob Preston:                      12:48                     Okay. Are they typically more expensive though? 

John Padilla:                      12:52                     They are more expensive, but in the long run they last longer. There's no tank, there's no rupture of water that's going to ruin your home. 

Bob Preston:                      12:57                     We have a lot of vacation rentals in University City. You know, it's about 30% of our property management business and so we see a lot of our vacation homeowners install those because they're not there all the time. And so it's an efficient way versus when you're living in the home full time. Okay. You're going to, your tank is always hot, but why be burning, you know, and reverting the same water. Oh yeah, I'm wearing out your water heater if you're only going to be there part of the time.

John Padilla:                      13:24                     And tankless as well. Yeah, there is a maintenance factor as well. Same thing. Every year you flushed the uh, the heat exchanger out in those to make sure it's efficient.

Bob Preston:                      13:30                     Let's touch on a couple of the other things you mentioned. One is the expansion tank. What does that do? And that's the sort of oldest looking thing that's sort of props that sticks out of the top. Yeah, you may see. 

John Padilla:                      13:44                     Yea and it's a bladder that's full of air and basically it controls the air that comes into the system. Your water pressure at night always goes up, so it puts a lot more pressure on the entire system. The expansion tank, water pressure goes up presumably because not as many people in your neighborhood are using water. So interesting. The tank then relieves that pressure and eliminates any factors of pressure or wear and tear on your water pressure. 

Bob Preston:                      14:07                     Also is the water pressure when the water's being heated because of the combustion that's going on? Exactly the same. Okay. Yes. And what I guess what could happen if you don't have expansion tank? Do you ever see things erupt or what happens?

John Padilla:                      14:14                     Well what happens if you don't and if somebody installs ultra low nox water heater without an expansion tank, then your temperature and pressure relief valve will start to discharge constantly. Okay. A lot of times you won't notice that because it goes to the outside and the way it's supposed to, so it's a good idea to kind of trace that and see if you are losing water that way because the expansion tank is required with these new water heaters. 

Bob Preston:                      14:40                     Okay. You mentioned the gas sediment trap and I've seen them before so I can visually interpret what you're saying here. It's almost like a T at your input piping for the gas and part of the T is face down in his cap. That's the trap, right? Yeah. Then the other goes up and services gas to your water heater was like, what's the purpose of the trap? What does it actually do?

John Padilla:                      15:02                    The trap actually catches any condensation and keeps it out of your gas control valve and it prolongs the life of that. 

Bob Preston:                      15:10                     Okay, so it's a good thing to do regardless of the code because it helps prolong the life of your unit. Yes. Okay. One more item because we see that you mentioned it is the drip pan or the catch pan, I guess what's the proper term for that? At the bottom of the water is called the water heater pump water heater pan. So we see, you know quite a few homes where there is not a pan maybe cause they were installed using the old code or maybe a shortcut was taken whatever that leak out and water of course can go anywhere, right? It can seep into drywall, it can some water heaters are up on a pedestal that can become saturated. Some water heaters we even see today are still installed inside the unit or in a closet on the patio. So I mean bad things happen. When the water pan isn't installed, right? 

John Padilla:                      15:57                     Yeah. And the major factor there is that if your tank starts to leak and you don't see it and it's on a stand, it weakens that stand and you have gas connected to this water heater collapse, collapse. You know, you want to divert the water away from that. And then of course you want to divert it away from your home so it doesn't cause a lot of damage. 

Bob Preston:                      16:14                     Yeah, I mean it's just a common sense safety mechanism and that one, cause the pans aren't expensive and you're kind of piping the water. You're catching the water in the pan and then you what? Take some PVC piping and where does that go typically?

John Padilla:                      16:27                    You divert that to the garage floor. Okay. If your water heater is in the garage or what he hears in the garage, if it's not, you have to run it to the outside. A lot of people still run it to the outside. Now you know, I have consumers that look at these pans and they're not very, they're only about four inches deep. Right. They go around the water heater and so there's not a lot of space with water, but it's mainly to divert the water. Yeah, it's not going to catch all of it. 

Bob Preston:                      16:50                     Yeah. We had a situation recently where the water heater started leaking, had to be replaced and he had the pan, had the PVC piping diverting at the floor, but his garage was filled with storage related items and you know, so the water just ran out like a chit on the garage floor out underneath the garage door. Problem is all this stuff was in the way and it all got saturated and ruined. So people, if you're listening, don't store your stuff in the line where your water heater line is diverted to right.

John Padilla:                      17:15                    And especially you don't want to store things around that water heater. That water heater needs the oxygen to function properly and you'll have flame there. So you want to avoid putting a lot of items. You know, sometimes we'll come into a garage and we're looking for the water heater because it's stacked behind you know, items so. 

Bob Preston:                      17:30                     Oh that's interesting cause sometimes water heaters can be in a closet out on a patio or something. And so you shouldn't be putting brooms and mops and stuff like that in there where you know, bags of a whatever. I mean that's all. That's all even worse. Okay, so that was really good review on water heaters. At the start of the episode today, I mentioned Buzzsprout as a great podcasting partner. Have you ever thought about starting your own podcast? It isn't hard when you have the right team behind you and the folks at Buzzsprout are passionate about helping podcasters like me succeed. If you are a voice that wants to share or just think it would be fun to have your own talk show, podcasting is a great way to get your message out there. Buzzsprout is hands down the easiest and best way to launch, promote and track a podcast. Your show can be online and enlisted in the major podcast listing directories like Apple podcasts, Spotify, Google podcasts, and more within just a matter of minutes after finishing your recording, follow the link in the episode notes to give Buzzsprout a try. This will let Buzzsprout know that we sent you and you'll leave and get a $20 Amazon gift card for signing up. How cool is that? Buzzsprout the easiest way to start a podcast.

Bob Preston:                      18:38                     Let's shift gears here and talk the low flow water conservation's top priority here in California and in other parts of the country as well. Low flow water fixtures and toilets. Similar to new water heater codes. There are a lot of federal and state standards. You know this better than I do so maybe you can bring us up to speed on that when an owner needs to do it, when should they do it? Give us the rundown. 

John Padilla:                      19:00                     So right now if you decided to get on the internet and look at SDMC147.04 and it gives you a whole list of plumbing fixtures and flow rate information that's provided by the San Diego Municipal Water Department. Toilets right now, maximum flow rate, 3.5 or 1.6 gallons per flush or less. Shower heads are at 2.5 gallons per minute. Sink faucets, 2.2 gallons per minute and urinals are at 1.0 gallons per minute.

Bob Preston:                      19:31                     Most of us don't know what any of that means. So like compare to older fixtures. I mean, is it, what kind of a flow reduction would that be? 

John Padilla:                      19:40                     Let's use toilets as an example and as they used to be five gallon. Yeah. So every time you flush that it was five gallons of water, then you know that we could definitely use it. Especially with the conservation that we're doing. So you know, going from five to 3.5 now to 1.6 mile makes a tremendous amount of difference. Less than a third of less than a third. And again, knowing the type of piping you have is essential to knowing, you know, how low you can really go on these. If you want to try to maintain a 3.5 if you have old cast iron piping or if you have new ABS type piping, the flow is a little bit better. You know you can use the 1.6 gallons per flush.

Bob Preston:                      20:12                     Okay. So the regulations that you just read off, I'd love to provide that link. So leave that with me when you leave and I'll put it in the podcast description notes so that people can access that. Yes, a link to that. So that was for the city of San Diego or the County of San Diego County. Okay. And are the other cities in Southern California similar to that? Is it a state mandate? Is it a federal mandate? It's a state and federal mandate. Okay. So it's a mandate. But when would owners actually be required? 

John Padilla:                      20:48                     Well, yeah, if you were to replace your fixtures right now in the state of California, in University City, you cannot buy anything that's not a low flow. 

Bob Preston:                      20:52                     Okay. So if you walk into home Depot and you need a new kitchen faucet, it's going to be low flow. 

John Padilla:                      20:57                     It's going to be low flow. The toilets are going to be low flow. The shower heads are going to be low flow. So it's all, you know, they've all complied with the mandate. So the only place I think you can go get a five gallon toilets if you go to Arizona and then bring them back. 

Bob Preston:                      21:11                     Yeah, okay. They're still legal there. So we've installed low flow fixtures before, you know, and then the tenants complain, Hey, I can't get enough water pressure. They think to sometimes that their water pressure is also, there's an educational factor here and to the low-flow aspect, right? I mean this is kind of the way it is. There's a reason for it.

John Padilla:                      21:23                     You'll see the difference in a lot of people buy the shower heads and tried to manipulate them so that you know and provide some more pressure. But it's just a matter of getting used to this still a lot of gallons per minute and it should be sufficient for all your needs. 

Bob Preston:                      21:39                     How and where is the flow controlled? I don't want to encourage people to start taking apart their fixtures to look for it, but I know you know there's a little screen sometimes where the water comes out. I think sometimes there's a flow widget that's inserted or is it down more in the guts of the fixture, 

John Padilla:                      21:55                     Especially in the showers that are right where you connect them, you'll see them right there. Okay. The other ones that are a little bit more hidden and they're difficult to manipulate, especially the toilets and urinals and all those fixtures.

Bob Preston:                      22:05                     So codes aside on this low flow topic, are there other reasons why an owner might want to just go ahead and bite the bullet and do this? 

John Padilla:                      22:13                     Well it's the amount of water that'll save, which will equate to the amount of money that they save as well. Using the low flow really limits the amount of money that you spend on a monthly basis for your water bill. 

Bob Preston:                      22:26                     Yeah. So if you're in a conservation, I mean a lot of homeowners put in solar just because they conscientiously want to contribute to the environment. And this is another good way to do it through local. Exactly. I know we have a second property in Mammoth Lakes and they're in Mono County and the city or the town of Mammoth Lakes actually gave us a credit back on our toilets. I think it was $200 each. And when we installed the low flow. So there are some times you can see that to your local water district may sometimes provide credit.

John Padilla:                      22:48                     If you go on their websites, you can sometimes find that they have promotions where they're going to give you credits to replace those. And that's always a good time to go ahead and do that. 

Bob Preston:                      23:02                     Yeah, why not, right. I mean if your water district is going to help you pay for the low flow fixtures, you get upgraded new fixtures, which you know, yours might be aging anyway. So go ahead and do it, but you're saving money and compliant. Yep, yep. Absolutely. Okay, so that was the second topic of cover. So now we're going to sort of go into the HVAC area. So we're coming out of summer and I know that you probably had and saw a lot of issues out there during the hot weather period because people are running their AC’s. That's likely starting to subside a little bit. But what are some of the issues and problems that you saw pop up regarding air conditioning yet?

John Padilla:                      23:34                    Well we're really glad you asked this, this is one of the most common problems that pop up is the lack of maintenance. Lack of regular maintenance is the biggest issue we run up against and dirty air filters can cause several issues, low airflow, no cooling or heating and can actually damage the equipment in the AC. They can freeze the indoor coils and they would literally turn into a block of ice and when the ice on the coil start to melt, it could lead to water leaks, condensation and that's again a small piece of PVC that handles that condensation. So if you're not maintaining it, then you can end up with some water damage. You'll notice all of a sudden a stain in the ceiling and you've been running your air conditioning about 90% of the time it's going to be the condensation that's blocked up or the system is frozen.

Bob Preston:                      24:14                    And the condensation line would pick up for example, if your coils are starting to freeze and that would catch in some sort of a drip pan and then? 

John Padilla:                      24:21                     Any type of condensation that goes into that pan. And then it's, you know, gravity pipes right out of the system. 

Bob Preston:                      24:26                     So a lot of AC systems you'll see, and I might not be using the right terminology, John, but there's the sort of square or rectangular blower looking device. What do you call that? The compressor or the condenser. Okay. Oftentimes in a single family home you'll see that outside kind of bolted to a concrete concrete platform. You can also be up in the attic, right? 

John Padilla:                      24:47                     For the most part no they have to be on the exterior so they can exchange the air that's required.

Bob Preston:                      24:50                     And where would it be that things might be leaking? Like, cause I know for some properties we'll see leaking coming out of the ceiling or sometimes.

John Padilla:                      25:00                     Those are the indoor coils. Okay. And that's where the water is going through the coils and getting to the cooling factor. And those are the ones that will freeze up and then they'll cause heavy amount of condensation. 

Bob Preston:                      25:10                     Okay. So your condenser and blower might be outside, but you could also have components that are up in your attic and other parts of the home. That's correct. Okay. And why does the condensation line block, is it just kind of, you know, debris and things that collect and the, you know? 

John Padilla:                      25:23                     It could be just a little bit of scale that starts to build up inside and uh, you know, the air conditioning tackle go up there and either use a small cable or blow the system right up and then we look at the rest of it to make sure that it's not going to fill up again and cause the same issues.

Bob Preston:                      25:36                     And what are the common things that might need to be replaced or replenished and an AC unit? 

John Padilla:                      25:42                     Well, you know, we do a check of the system and we want to make sure that the system is safe, uh, since there is gas connected to it, if there's any cracks that allow the carbon monoxide poisoning to escape. 

Bob Preston:                      25:50                     Okay. Now that would be mainly acting as a heater, is that right? Or would that also be during, you know, if it's, if there's AC involved? It could be either one. Okay. Yes. All right. Okay. Well I'll tell you what, let's talk heating now. If that's cool, then we'll talk about kind of servicing and are they done at the same time or are they separate items? So, you know, I think I took my daughter to school the other day it was 45 degrees in the morning, so we're not quite a winter yet, but I think that heating systems might be kicking on around the County and certain parts of the County. So yeah. Tell us about heating systems, why we should be checking them regularly and what the concerns might be. 

John Padilla:                      26:28                     Sure. When you first start a furnace, after a long summer of non-use, it's there usually is going to be a musty smell, which account on new burners like, yeah. And this is actually the dust that has settled down to the heat exchanger. This isn't normal and should go away after a short period of time. But if you suspect something is wrong or the smell lingers, it's always good to have a checkup. Again, dirty filters, little things like this cause a lot of issues, both heating and cooling and older furnace, all types. Wall floor, forced air, lights, especially if they've been turned off for the whole summer. When you turn off the pilot light, it allows us to build up on the thermal couple and this will stop it from working at all.

Bob Preston:                      27:05                     Some systems have a pilot light, some just have the electronic igniter, right? Or some of them do. Yeah. For the most part we see the pilot light a lot. If you hear the clicking sound when your units that that would be the igniter, right?

John Padilla:                      27:18                     Or yes. You know, hear that on a water heater as well. Gas valves are the second biggest item we come across. Most of the times these fail due to the age, the newer electronic gas valves last about 20 years and are usually pretty robust, but they also fail. So again, having them checked yearly is essential. The last issue without a lot of cracked heat exchangers. This is most dangerous of all issues on a family can have in the heating system. The crack will allow the carbon monoxide to get into the house and can make you extremely sick or even cause death. The following things are very important to remember when you're using the furnace and it doesn't seem right. If you have flu like symptoms only when the furnace is running runny nose, slight headache, excessive tiredness or lack of energy, you know, turn off your, yeah, don't screw around with all those are signs of carbon monoxide, carbon monoxide, so you want to shut it off. A loud bang when the furnace starts as is caused by a build up of gas before ignition. That's not uncommon. You'll hear it a lot of times.

Bob Preston:                      28:10                     That doesn't sound good. No, it doesn't. No. It scares me and even when I still hear it today, but that shouldn't be happening. I mean, do they ever explode? 

John Padilla:                      28:18                     No. No. You know, it's just letting you know it's time to have me checked out. See what's going on. Yeah. 

Bob Preston:                      28:28                     You talked about a cracked heat exchanger, you probably talk this kind of verbiage all the time, but for the layman at home, what does that, is that like inside where the flames are coming out of the. 

John Padilla:                      28:31                     Yeah, that's a box that attached to the heater. It again, it's metal, it'll expand and contract and then eventually it'll start to crack. And when that happens, that's when it becomes dangerous. It's really dangerous. So that's one of the points that we check when we do our maintenance says, you know, especially the, the heat exchanger since it's such a critical component and can cause the most.

Bob Preston:                      28:52                     Yeah, I've heard, and don't ask me where this references, cause I, I'm not able to tell you, but I know my insurance company is requiring us to make sure we maintain the HVAC systems and our properties on a regular basis. And I've heard that the most common landlord lawsuit now can be carbon monoxide. So for the people that are out there that are landlords, even if you're using a property manager, you know, the property manager should be doing this on a regular basis. In fact, you know, many of them now have insurance companies for their own liability that require it. So we see a lot of homes without AC. So let's do it two ways. You know, one would be just a furnace. The other would be you've got both the furnace and an AC. How often should you be getting these checked and when?.

John Padilla:                      29:32                     You should do it every year. Okay. And especially just before the season, you're gonna use that appliance. Okay. Winter is coming, let's start checking the heaters. Okay. Summer's coming. Would've been to start checking the air conditioning. Can you do them both at the same time? Does that make sense? Yes you can. You can run both and check them. But you know, again, using it for the season that's coming and having it checked out for that is the best cause. That's the one you're gonna use the most. 

Bob Preston:                      29:50                     Okay. And during your service checks, again, lack of better term, you might call something different, but if I call you and say, Hey, go do our annual check at this property, what do you guys do? What's the rundown? 

John Padilla:                      30:12                     We check all points of connection, we clean it, we check the filters, we check the heat exchanger, we check the gas valves, the wiring connection cause you know, wire become loose. Then all of a sudden your thermostat doesn't work properly. You know, they go through silver points and then the whole thing is leading up to making sure that the system is safe and efficient and that is going to provide what you calling it for. 

Bob Preston:                      30:25                     Are you able to do a carbon monoxide check? Do you have tools? 

John Padilla:                      30:30                     We have carbon monoxide detectors. However, I highly recommend that every unit has its own right, of course. 

Bob Preston:                      30:41                     Yeah, no, that's another code. You know, that's for another day, another topic, but right. But you're able to determine, okay, exactly. We have all the tools, we hook up our connections points and we checked levels of fluids and make sure that everything is proper. Yeah. So to our listeners, this is really an important aspect to us. We have John Padilla Plumbing Heating and Air check all of our heaters and AC units once a year, as I mentioned, because we're required to, but all sorts. Just common sense. If you're a landlord, you have a tenant in your home, you're responsible for their welfare and safety. Got to do this once a year, make sure your unit safe. Right? I mean that's.

John Padilla:                      31:10                    Yeah know it's better safe than sorry. As we've been saying for many, many years. 

Bob Preston:                      31:16                     Yeah, and as John mentioned, also have your own carbon monoxide detectors in the proper place. There's another code for that. We won't go. We won't get into that till we could be here a while. Yeah. Hey listen, there are many other areas I'd love to explore and ask about today and the interest of time I need to wrap up. I try to keep these to about a half an hour, but any last comments, things? I mean, you've touched on some really great topics here today. Any other tips of the trade for our audience?

John Padilla:                      31:40                     You know, you can always do a visual check of your plumbing. If you see rust build up, you know, starting to develop on your faucets, that's an indicator that you might need to, you know, have that looked at, look under the sink. Those little shutoff valves underneath that, they start to get rusty or the little piping we call the riser that goes from that little shutoff up to the fixture is starting to show wear and tear. You know, it always helps to be a little bit preventative to avoid any water issues. So whether you're an owner or renter, you know, you want to protect all the items in your home. So visual checks, if you turn on a faucet and it doesn't operate the way it usually does, then it's time to have it looked at. When we go, we'd go for a specific reason to handle a lot of the properties that we work with, but we always do a visual check and we always check water pressure to make sure that your fixtures are going to be safe.

Bob Preston:                      32:25                     Okay. I suppose there can be visual cues like you've talked about. There could also be audio. I like if you hear something right or if you're hearing the faint sound of water running perhaps when it shouldn't be. 

John Padilla:                      32:38                     Exactly. You're always going to be able to hear that, especially late at night. So if you hear water running and you have no fixtures being used, then you should definitely look into that. 

Bob Preston:                      32:49                     Yeah. Now you don't always hear dripping, but you might hear the plunk kerplunk, kerplunk or the other thing is, aside from fixtures resting or looking calcified or just sort of, you know, aging water spots, right? I mean if you see wet spots in the ceiling under your sink in odd places that they shouldn't be. Yes. And that's another visual cue. 

John Padilla:                      33:12                     That's definitely a visual cue, especially the stains on the dry wall because that stain is going to take a little bit to get through. So you have a lot more on the other side of that dry wall. Then you're going to see on your side of the wall.  

Bob Preston:                      33:20                     You don’t always know where it's coming from. Water runs to wherever it has the least resistance and gravity. Right? So just because you see it in one spot on the wall doesn't mean that's where the leak is. 

John Padilla:                      33:31                     No, unfortunately what we have to do as well, we call chasing the leak. You know, we'll open it at that spot and try to trace where the water is coming from. Sure. So it becomes pretty interesting when we're chasing a leak. 

Bob Preston:                      33:45                     Yeah. So that, we touched on that earlier with leak detection. Okay. I would love to get into that topic today, but we don't have time. So if our listeners wanted to reach out to you or the company, how would they get ahold of you? Or how could they find the company John?

John Padilla:                      33:53                     On our website is or you can always contact us at 858-836-1830. 

Bob Preston:                      34:06                     Great, and I'll put a link of your website and your phone number up in our show notes. So thank you very much. People can get ahold of you. These guys are great. They're very experienced. They're also just really great people. We enjoy working with them. And probably I would say one of our most responsive and I’ll say the most cooperative. I mean you have to work together on these kinds of things. Right? And every now and then we have some bumps in the road but we always are able to figure him out and you guys know the business really, really well. Terrific. Well John, thank you so much for taking time to join the show today. I know it was a long drive to get up here and do it face to face, but I really appreciate that. Great episode, really good information particularly with winter coming up and yeah, really glad you're here today. So I would like to make a quick plug before we close here to leave a positive review for the Property Management Brainstorm. It would make our day and pay it forward to encourage more great guests on the show. And that concludes today's show. Thank you to all of our listeners for joining the Property Management Brainstorm. Until next time we will be in University City working hard for our clients to maximize their property value and rental income and maintain top tenant relations. See you next time.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, we may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

Recent Posts


Are You Ready to Get Started?