May 9, 2014

Tips

Heating and A/C Equipment Maintenance

Cleaning: All components of the heating and cooling system must be thoroughly cleaned, including registers, grilles, diffusers, heat exchangers, heating and cooling coils, condensate drain pans (drip pans), fan motor and fan house and the air handling unit housing. All components of the system may be contaminated with particles of dust, pollen, or other debris.

Filters: Dirty furnace and air conditioner filters hamper airflow, costing you more money to run the system, therefore, clean or replace filters once a month. Thoroughly vacuum filters and the surrounding area before and after removing them, in order to prevent dirt/dust from entering into the ductwork. Equipment

Maintenance: Performing an annual maintenance service call on your heating and cooling equipment, may identify future problems with your system, including unsafe conditions and will also ensure your system is running efficiently.

 

Family Health and Safety

Anti-Scalding Shower Valves: Startling thermal shocks from cold or hot water can trigger serious falls, particularly with older or physically challenged people. Because children have thinner skin than adults, they are especially vulnerable to scald burns from hot water. The way to eliminate temperature shifts is to install a pressure balanced anti-scald valve or thermostatic temperature control valve in the shower/bathtub. Indoor

Air Quality: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that indoor air pollution levels can be from two to five times higher than the outdoor air. Along with this, they estimate that some people spend up to 90% of their time indoors. Typically, particles 10 microns in size and larger get caught in the nose and throat, but are expelled by coughing and sneezing. However, many particles, including allergens, can be as small as 0.1 microns. These can become embedded in the lungs and have long-lasting negative health effects. Proper humidification, air filtration and duct cleaning are essential for healthy breathing. UV

Lighting: Germs are constantly growing in our indoor environment and pollute the air we breathe. UV technology gives us the opportunity to clean the indoor air continuously in a cost effective manner.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors/Alarms: Carbon Monoxide is a common by-product produced when fossil fuels are burned. Although most household equipment and appliances produce minimal carbon monoxide when they are installed and operate properly, they can be deadly when they are not. Something as simple as an opened door to the garage, a small hole in dryer ductwork, or a malfunctioning exhaust fan can cause carbon monoxide levels to quickly rise to dangerous levels. Did you know that at an exposure to 0.08% (800 ppm) of Carbon Monoxide gas for 45 minutes could cause dizziness, nausea, and convulsions? Within 2 hours unconsciousness can occur. When buying a Carbon Monoxide Detector/Alarm buy one that has been tested and approved. Test you detector/alarm once a week and replace them every seven years. If you are not diligent about checking and replacing batteries, a battery operated carbon monoxide detector/alarm is not right for you. Although they allow for more flexible placement, a plug-in carbon monoxide detector/alarm may be best. Install at least one detector/alarm at each level of the home.

Smoke Detector: Smoke detectors save lives, and are very effective, provided they are installed and maintained appropriately. Smoke detectors can significantly reduce the number of fire-related deaths and injuries, and may be one of the simplest and best ways to give you and your family a fighting chance to escape a fire in your home.

Mixing Valve: A mixing valve will blend hot water with cold water to a temperature that is safe to touch.

Ventilation: The purpose of a ventilation system is to ensure a healthy comfortable living environment, by controlling odors, contaminants, and indoor level of moisture.

Child Safety: There are many stages to a children development that require more safety precautions. The most common are the cabinet door locks, stove cover, toilet lock, doorknob locks, outlet covers, and safety gates. Here are some of the newest ways to keep an eye on your child safety. GPS for children enables you to pinpoint your child’s location using the Internet or a tracking device. GPS devices come in several different forms, such as: cell phones, wrist watches and a tagging.

 

Loss Prevention

Water: Water corrodes, rots and provides a fertile breeding ground for illness causing bacteria and mold. Yet, our homes are filled with hundreds of feet of piping and several water-based appliances. Every minute of every day our homes are at risk. The average water damage repair cost is $3,000.00. Here are some tips to help ensure this won’t happen to you. Install a WAGS valve (Water And Gas Safety valve). The WAGS valve is installed on your water heater and is designed to shut off the water supply and gas supply in the event of a water leak, to prevent flood damage. Install Water Level Alarms. Provides early warning signal for leaky pipes, faulty water heaters, dishwashers and washing machines. Use the Water Alarm to detect even the smallest amounts of moisture before mold, mildew and serious water damage can occur. It can be placed near bathtubs, toilets, beneath sinks, or it can be used as a basement water alarm for early notification of flooding or leaky pipes. Install a standby sump pump. Prevents the space beneath your basement, and your basement itself, from flooding during heavy rainfall. The sump is a small reservoir under your basement that fills when groundwater levels rise, instead of letting the water seep into the basement and cause damage. The water is then removed using a pump, and discharged to a safe point away from the home. Install a floor drain. Floor drains are plumbing fixtures installed in the floor of a structure, usually near the water heater or boiler, in order to safely remove water and prevent flooding in the even of catastrophic equipment failure.

Gutter Cleaning: The main reason for cleaning gutters and making sure they allow rainwater to flow smoothly to the ground and away from your foundation is the water damage that can occur to your home over time.

Safety Glass: Safety and Security Films help provide a safer environment for your family, home and business. These products offer affordable protection against damage from severe weather, crime, heat and the sun. It also strengthens your windows’ glass and decreases the potential hazard of flying shattered glass. These specialty films are manufactured with layers of polyester bonded by special adhesives and impregnated with ultraviolet inhibitors. Laminated glass products can be penetrated or broken only with a weapon, sharp object, or intense heat, while normal glass can be easily broken with the impact of a rock. When broken by impact, laminated glass tends to remain integral in its frame, minimizing the risk of injury from sharp edges and flying or falling glass. It also strongly resists penetration by the impacting object or person.

Water Conservation: Saving water is like any other habit. The more you do it, the more natural it becomes. Watch for leaks. Pay attention to the SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS of plumbing, pool and spa leaks as outlined below. Do a routine indoor/outdoor check every three months, or call professionals to do one for you. Check all faucets for drips. If a drip fills an 8-ounce glass every quarter hour, it will waste about 180 gallons per month. That’s 2,160 gallons a year, enough for 30+ showers or baths! Drips can usually be fixed by replacing inexpensive washers or valve seats. Install flow restrictors or other conservation devices on all faucets and showerheads. With these in the shower alone, you can reduce your water use from approximately 5 to 10 gallons per minute, to as low as 2 gallons per minute. Wrap exposed indoor and outdoor pipes to prevent freezing and to save fuel.

Pools & Spas: Perform regular leak checks-ups. A leak in the pool area can waste 1,000 gallons or more per day. Keep track of the amount of chemicals you normally use. An increase in quantity used could be a sign of a leak. Use a pool/spa cover to reduce water loss and fuel costs, resulting from evaporation.

In The Kitchen/Laundry: Check under cupboards once a week for wet spots or bowed cabinetry. Keep drinking water in the refrigerator so you don’t have to run the tap until the water gets cold enough to drink. Only run full loads in your dishwasher. Scrape food from plates with a utensil, not running water. Don’t continuously run water in the sink. Hand wash dishes in a sink full of soapy water; rinse all at once. Soak hard-to-clean pans overnight.

In The Bathroom: Check sinks for drips or leaks once a week. Check toilets for leaks. Drop a teaspoon of food coloring into the tank. If the color appears in the bowl after 15 minutes, have the “flapper” valve replaced. If leaks continue, have a professional check your system. Decrease the amount of water used per flush. Replace regular or older toilets with new ultra-low flush models.

Outdoors: Walk around your property once a week to look for spongy or mushy ground where broken pipes might be hidden. Check sprinklers for jammed or malfunctioning heads. Use accurate, efficient sprinklers or drip irrigation systems instead of hand watering.

Lawn Watering: Water lawns during the coolest times of the day, before 10:00 a.m. or in the evening. Deep-soak lawns long enough for water to seep down to the roots, where it is needed. Water deeper and less often.

Dig basins around individual plants to prevent run-off while watering. Put a layer of mulch around trees and plants to slow moisture evaporation. Landscape with native plants that take little water. Pull weeds as they steal water from desirable plants. Sweep driveways, sidewalks and steps, instead of hosing them down. Use a commercial car wash, instead of hand washing.

 

Hiring a Contractor:

When you’re hiring a home improvement professional, you’re buying that person’s ability to bring your concept to life. It’s of critical importance to find a trustworthy, licensed professional for the work you need performed. Talk to people you trust, who have hired contractors. Gather leads from lumberyards, architects, home inspectors and real estate agents. Contact your local or state consumer protection office or Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org) to find out if the contractor has any unresolved complaints on file. Hire a licensed contractor familiar with the building codes, as only they should provide bids, since they are liable for the work they perform.

If an unlicensed contractor is hired, you accept responsibility for any damage. Discuss the contractor’s guarantee or warranty programs. If something seems amiss, research elsewhere. Execute a written contract specifying the work to be done, estimated start and finish dates, and total cost.

Contact the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors- National Association (phccweb.org) to find a master plumber, for a recommendation. Contact online services, such as ImproveNet.com and the National Association of Home Builders’ Remodel Council, or trade groups like your local Remodel Council branch.

 

Energy Savings:

When you heat or cool your home, you use energy and energy costs money. If you can make your home more energy efficient, you can save money and as an added bonus, help preserve the environment. Here are some ideas on how you can make your home more energy efficient. Use a lighted incense stick to find any drafts. Move it slowly around windows and doors, even slight air movement will move the smoke. Inspect the caulking around your windows. There should be no gaps in the caulking between those windows and the walls of the house. If there is a leak, remove the old and install new caulking. Checking the caulking every year is a good way to save energy. Inspect the weather-stripping on your doors. Weather-stripping prevents air from getting in or out. If you have no weather-stripping it’s easy to add. Check around your electrical outlets. Areas behind the electrical outlets and switches are often not insulated, but you can buy thin foam insulation specifically designed to fit under an outlet plate that will block drafts.

If you turn down the heat 1 degree Fahrenheit for eight hours a day, you can save about 1 percent of your heating energy cost. Turn it down 10 degrees Fahrenheit to save about 10 percent. The same goes with the air-conditioning: turning the temperature up 10 degrees Fahrenheit for eight hours a day to save approximately 10 percent on your bill. Consider using compact fluorescent lights instead of regular incandescent bulbs. Fluorescent bulbs provide an equivalent amount of light, but use much less energy and they don’t produce the amount of heat that a regular bulb produces. Add insulation to your water heater and hot water pipes. Insulating blankets are designed to wrap around a water heater. Insulating foam is used to cover hot water pipes and is readily available.

Replace your furnace filters on a regular basis. Blocked furnace filters make your HVAC system work harder and longer using more energy. A clean filter allows the system to work more efficiently. Adjust ceiling fans to circulate warm air from up high in the room downward in the winter. Consider the energy efficiency rating (EER) of any appliances you are replacing. Modern appliances are much more energy efficient when compared with appliances that are even a few years old. Use heat-generating appliances (dishwasher, washing machine, clothes dryer) in the cooler evening hours. This will actually help heat your home in the winter and will make your air conditioner’s job easier in the summer. Turn on your washing machine and dishwasher for full loads only. Washing a partial load wastes both energy and hot water. Take showers not baths. Showers use less hot water. Also consider installing water-saving showerheads that will conserve hot water. Open blinds and drapes so the sun can come in during the winter and close them to keep the sun out during the summer.