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New Years Resolutions for your Home (Part 2 of 2)

We hope you are on your way to achieving your New Years resolutions and goals.  Earlier this month we encouraged you to add home maintenance into your New Years resolutions.  We are now adding ways to increase your home safety as well as  recommendations to save money on your home.

Increase your homes safety.

  • Check your smoke detectors and ensure you have a carbon monoxide detector.  Carbon monoxide detectors should be located where your family sleeps.
  • Schedule maintenance for your furnace and AC units.
  • Consider a home management system such as Nexia Home Intelligence.  http://www.americanstandardair.com/products/nexia-home-intelligence.html This wireless technology can manage your home from your computer as well as your mobile device. Adjust temperature, lighting, and even security with the added  Schlage® Home Security Kit.
  • Schedule a “Homeowners 101 Inspection” inclusive of “Home Comfort Audit” and “Plumbing Inspection”. The more you know about your home the better especially in cases of emergency. Call 317.243.3581 for more information.
  • While vacationing

    • If your water softener regenerates on a timed schedule, and not demand, consider putting it on bypass.
    • Most water heaters have a vacation mode. This will keep the water heater pilot lit, but it will not continually heat water you are not using.
    • Use light timers inside and outside. (Nexia Home Intelligence has this feature)

Reduce costs and/or save money on your home:

  • Check that your homeowners insurance is up to date. Here are some issues that our customers have had in the recent past.   Some policies have added basement back up or sump pump failure exclusions.  You may have had the same policy for 20 years but the insurance company sends updates and policy information periodically. If you are like me you don’t always read the fine print. Pull the policy or call your agent and check.  If you are currently renting your old residence , be sure your agent is aware of this change. We have had  more than one customer that did not realize renting out a house you could not sell changes everything to the insurance company.
  • Vow to install a programmable thermostat and save money. Why heat or cool your home when you aren’t there? Adjust the temperature back to your comfort level when you’ll be there.
  • Increase your home value by making upgrades such as a bathroom remodel or new kitchen sink. (Be sure and consult with your homes insurance provider as many upgrades may cause adjustments to your policy.)
  • Contact a home comfort expert to compare the energy costs of your current heating system to a new energy efficient system. For many systems there are utility and manufacturer rebates that can reduce your initial investment.

We hope you found this article helpful. Don’t hesitate to contact our team at 317.243.3581 with any questions you may have.

 

New Years Resolutions for your Home.(Part 1 of 2)

With a new year comes New Years Resolutions.  While health goals top many lists don’t forget to set some goals for your home.  It is probably your largest financial investment anyway, so protect it.  We’ve included 3 major areas and will divide them into a two series blog.  Below we cover many plumbing and heating maintenance tips that go unnoticed.   Later this month we will add part 2 sharing many cost saving and energy efficient goals for your home as well as increasing your homes safety.

Monthly:

  • HVAC filters should be checked.  Filters 1” or less should be changed.  Depending on conditions, in your home, the larger media filters may last 3-6 months.  Did you know burning candles can plug your filter in just a week?
  • Every home owner should know where to find the main water shut off, water meter pit (if on city water) and natural gas shut offs.

Quarterly:

  • Test smoke/carbon monoxide detectors and replace batteries.  Carbon monoxide detectors should be located where the family sleeps.
  • Clean all shower heads. (Simply tie a bag of vinegar and let sit, when removed, lightly scrub with small brush or an old toothbrush.)
  • Check your plumbing shut off valves so that they open and close properly.

Seasonally:

Winter – 

  • Prevent your pipes from bursting by leaving a slow drip (of warm water), when temperatures outside are freezing, and open your cabinet doors.
  • Make sure your humidifier is working. An HVAC tech can test the humidity in your home.

Spring –

  • Check for plumbing leaks inside and out.  A slow trickle can increase your water bill.  You can also turn off the water and look at your meter.   If you see activity then call a plumber.
  • Your humidifier should be off.
  • Prepare your AC system by scheduling a service/maintenance.
  • When you use your outside faucet for the first time in spring, carefully check inside your home to verify it did not freeze and burst over the winter.
  • Test your sump pump, make sure there is nothing in the pit. Dump water in the pit and verify the pump clears the pit.

Fall- 

  • Unhook your hoses outside to prevent freezing.
  • Test your sump pump.
  • Schedule maintenance on your furnace.

Upgrades to consider.

  • Consider a home water softening system.  Your hair and skin will appreciate it.  Also, sediment build up on your fixtures and in your toilets and water heater will be greatly reduced.
  • Just changing the kitchen sink and faucet can make the entire kitchen look new.
  • Contact a home comfort expert to compare the energy costs of your current heating system to a new energy efficient system.  For many systems there are tax credits and utility rebates that can reduce your initial investment.
  • A whole home humidifier greatly reduces static and improves comfort.  Besides the benefits to your family did you know a whole house humidifier extends the life of your wood furniture?

We hope you found this article helpful. Share your comments on any other tips you include in your home maintenance.  Stay tuned for part two later this month on home safety and money saving tips for your home.

Happy New Year!

Cold Weather Tips and Suggestions

Looks like we aren’t going to have our typical mild winter here in Central Indiana. Since the weatherman is predicting the coldest temperatures in twenty years, you might have forgotten what to do to keep your home warm and your pipes from freezing.  Here are your reminders.

Plumbing

It is usually the combination of wind and temperature that causes plumbing water lines to freeze.  Sometimes the water line you least expect to freeze is the one that does.  Here are the most likely areas for concern in your home.

Crawl Spaces:
Make sure the vents are closed and any other openings are closed.  You want as little outside air to get in as possible.

Garages:
Make sure the garage door stays down as much as possible.  Every time it gets cold we get a call from a homeowner and someone in the family left the garage door open.  If your garage is not heated, and you have plumbing in the walls or in the garage, find a way to add some heat.  Be sure to follow all safety guidelines if using a portable heater.  We can add infrared radiant heat that you can turn on when you need it.

Laundry Rooms:
In most homes the laundry room/area is on an outside wall.  Unfortunately there is no way to run a steady stream of water to prevent freezing at the washing machine; if there is a valve to shut off the water to the entire area, we would recommend turning it off until the temperature rises.  If there is not a way to turn off the water then move your washer to get as much heat to the area as possible.  Turning it off at the washer hoses will not solve the problem if the lines in the outside wall freeze.

Sump Pumps:
Often sump pump discharge lines freeze in this weather.  If your sump pump doesn’t run all the time, then you’ll just wait for weather to return to normal…just make sure the discharge line is clear when the ground begins to thaw. We have seen lines that are still partially frozen even when the temperatures starts rising.  Also, expansion from freezing and thawing can cause some discharge lines to break prevent proper drainage of the sump pump.  If your sump pump does run most of the time due to an underground spring or high water table then you may need to run a temporary line for the discharge.  Also, Be sure your check valve is working or the water will not leave the pit.

Other things to Know:

  • Leave a steady stream of hot water running for all faucets located on an outside wall.  The hot water freezes first.  Leave the cabinet doors open too.  You want as much heat in the area as possible.
  • Do you know where the main shut off to water for your home is?  Is the valve in working order?
  • If you are on city water, do you know where your meter pit is located?  If the lid is cracked and there is not snow to insulate your entire water service could freeze.
  • The water coming into the home is much colder than the summer.  You may not have as much hot water as you do doing the warmer times of the year.
  • Electric thawing machines can only be used on metal pipes.

Snow Birds

If you are one of the lucky snowbirds that leave this winter wonderland and head for the sunshine, here are a couple of tips so your house survives the winter.

  1. Turn off the water to your home, either at the main valve or the meter pit.
  2. Turn your water heater to pilot/vacation if it is gas, or turn the power off if it is electric.
  3. Turn your water softener to vacation or off .
  4. Open all the faucets in the home to relieve any pressure
  5. Consider a weather alarm. There are a wide variety of types and prices. The basic type mount a light in a window and if the light is flashing your neighbor knows there is a problem with your heat. If you want something more sophisticated, there are alarms that will call or text you when there is a problem.

Heating

 Most heating systems in our area are designed to keep it 70 degree inside when it’s zero outside.  If the temperature falls below zero, your heating system may not keep the temperature as selected on your thermostat.  During these times it is important to do some or all of the following:

  1. Check your filter, even if you think you replaced it a couple of weeks or a month ago, it’s probably been longer than that.  Installing a clean filter is the most important thing a homeowner can do to help keep proper operation & efficiency of the system.
  2. Your heating system will probably run continuously for extremely long periods of time so it’s critical that all of your registers are open and not obstructed by furniture or household items.
  3. Leave your blower running continuously in the on position, this helps even out the air temperature though out the home, your heat will still turn on and off as needed. B&W and American Standard Heating and Air Conditioning recommend this for a more comfortable indoor climate.
  4. Old wood burning fireplaces can actually cool your home by allowing warm air to escape up the chimney.  You will be losing more heat than the fire generates.
  5. Be careful burning candles, many of them produce soot which floats in the air and collects on the furnace filter, this can causes the filter to malfunction.  Burning candles can also leave a black soot residue in your home.
  6. It is a good time to change the batteries on your digital thermostat.
  7. You lose a lot of heat through uncovered windows.  Do what you can to cover or insulate windows and sliding glass doors.  If you have a smoker in your house that opens a window to smoke tell them when the temperature drops this low to go outside or quit smoking.
  8. If you have a heat pump and see the little symbol that indicates your auxiliary heat is on, it is okay.  It is working just as it should. It is not necessary for you to manually switch your heat to auxiliary.

From the Professionals in the Big Black Trucks