Spring To Do List – Part 1

After a long, hard winter, spring is finally, hopefully, maybe even desperately, expected to arrive. Here are some home maintenance tips to help welcome the new season.

Weatherstripping

 

The Department of Energy (DOE) says weatherstripping the windows on your home is an easy and effective way to help save money on your energy bill. Weatherstripping is a material you can apply around your window and door frames to help ensure there’s a good seal. During the harsh winter months, it can help keep the warm air inside the house, and the cold drafts out. In the spring and summer, weatherstripping works the opposite way, helping to keep the cool air inside and the warm air out.

If you didn’t install weatherstripping before the winter cold set in, you may want to take this opportunity to seal your windows before you have to turn on the air conditioner. In the summer, if the cool air is contained inside, then the AC will not have to work as hard, and that may help you save money on your energy bill. The same can be true of your furnace when winter rolls back around. Thinking about installing weatherstripping? The DOE recommends that you apply weatherstripping to clean, dry surfaces in temperatures above 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

Indoor Maintenance

 

Spring cleaning is a time-honored tradition, an opportunity to sweep the cobwebs from your home, clear out the dust that accumulated during the winter and let the sunshine in. While you’re up to your elbows in soap, washing the windows, defrosting the refrigerator and tackling what seems to be a never-ending list of spring cleaning chores, you might as well make a maintenance checklist, too. On those warmer days, you may want to do the following:

Test and clean ceiling fans. According to the the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, an efficient ceiling fan in each room can help allow you to raise the thermostat setting about 4 degrees Fahrenheit without reducing your comfort level. Ceiling fans can be a good way to air out the house and generate a cross-breeze. So, now might be a good time to make sure your fans are clean and ready to start cooling you off this spring.

Replace your AC filter. While the warm weather is still technically several weeks away, you want to make sure your air conditioner is prepared and ready to go. The National Center for Healthy Housing recommends you replace the filters in the air conditioner in the spring. A new filter will likely optimize the efficiency of the unit.

Replace torn or damage window screens. If you don’t have an air conditioner, or if you simply like to keep the windows open in the spring and summer, it’s a good idea to make sure your screens are in good shape — you don’t want to let flies in with all that fresh air! Winter storms and wind can damage window screens, so it may be a good idea to assess any damage and replace what needs to be fixed.

Biowashing.com

Preventing Water Damage

One of the most disheartening experiences is to find flooding or extreme water damage to your treasured home.

Just a little time and some effort can prevent a lot of heartache and hassle.  Here’s a few tips that can help to avoid potential water damage in your home:

  • Make sure your water pressure is not set too high. For just $6 or so, you can purchase a gauge that will help you test your pressure for the appropriate level, which should be set between 60 and 80 PSI.
  • Standard hoses on new appliances are not as durable as they used to be. So check your appliances. If they’re rubber, either replace them with longer lasting stainless steel braided hoses or replace them every three years.
  • Keep water from leaking into the walls or floor of your bathroom by replacing cracked tiles and re-grouting when it’s needed.
  • Examine the shingles on your roof. Worn, curled or missing shingles allow water in, so replace them as soon as noticed.
  • Consider buying a water alarm, which can help you find leaks, or automatic shut-off mechanisms, which can help avoid bursts.
  • A lot of water damage occurs when you and your family are away from home. Make a practice to avoid running the washing machine or dishwasher while you’re out.
  • When you leave for vacations, turn off the water supply to appliances.
  • Keep up maintenance on all appliance hoses, because slow leaks from worn out hoses can cause major damage.
  • Clean and maintain gutters around your home and extend downspouts at least four feet away from your home.

Biowashing.com

The Winter Prep

Christmas is almost here and before you know it, we all may be shoveling snow out of our walkways.  In fact, this Saturday the Delaware Valley may get one to three inches of snow with temperatures dropping to twenty seven degrees on Friday.  With that being said, prepping your home is vital to avoid potential disasters from occurring.  Here’s a quick winter prep list:

  1. Install Weatherstripping
  2. Install a Door Sweep
  3. Seal Any Attic Leaks
  4. Close the Damper
  5. Check Thermostats or Replace Them
  6. Replace Heating Filters
  7. Seal Any Ducting Leaks
  8. Have Your Furnace Serviced
  9. Insulate Your Hot Water Tank
  10. Wrap Plumbing Pipes That May Freeze
  11. Shut Off Water to Exterior Plumbing Sources
  12. Reverse Direction of Ceiling Fans
  13. Seal Off Any Leaks in the Home
  14. As Always, Check Batteries in Your Smoke Alarms

Following some easy and low tips for your home can reduce the chances of damage leading to costly repairs, while also reducing energy costs during a cold winter.

MoldSolutions24-7.com

Tips To Prevent Pipes From Freezing

Until recently, not many people knew what an Arctic Vortex is, but with one bearing down on the northern U.S. over the next few days, everybody’s talking about it. As it brings record-breaking cold, here’s what you need to know to keep your pipes from freezing.

Be Prepared

“Preparation is key,” says Pat Porzio, heating ventilation and air conditioning manager for Russo Brothers Plumbing in East Hanover, NJ. “Cut some blocks out of foam insulation to block off foundation vents leading to crawl spaces and know where your water shutoff is located in case a pipe breaks,” Porzio advises. Another item homeowners should have on hand is a temporary patch kit (sold at home centers) to seal off burst pipes as they wait for favorable weather to make a permanent repair or to hire a plumber to sweat in a new length of pipe. “Above all,” Porzio says,” find out which local plumbers are equipped and ready to handle frozen pipes.”

 Turn Up The Thermostat

If you live in an old house built over an uninsulated crawl space, this isn’t the time to worry about your heating bill. Turning up your thermostat will increase the air temperature in the crawlspace by projecting heat energy through the floor into the space. Plan on insulating and air sealing the space.

Install Fiberglass

Take a ride to the nearest home center and pick up a package or two of unfaced fiberglass insulation. While you’re there, get a set of heavy duty disposable coveralls, a dust mask, work gloves and a package of fresh utility knife blades. Don the protective work wear, load the fresh blades in the knife and assess your insulation needs in the attic, crawl space or other out-of-the-way place installing insulation over poorly-protected pipes. This is one scenario where neatness doesn’t count, just get the insulation where it needs to go.

Use Foam Board To Insulate Large Areas

Got a really big area to protect? Keep the heat in with a rough-and-ready barrier built with foam board. Faced or unfaced foam board will work, especially if this is a temporary set up. If you’ve never worked with foam board, it’s easy to cut. Mark its surface with a carpenter’s pencil or a Sharpie pen. Score to the depth of a utility knife (if need be, score it from both sides) and snap it on the line. Hold it to wood framing with 1-1/4-in or 1-5/8-in. coarse-thread drywall screws.

Install A Heating Cable

Install a heat trace cable to keep a cold pipe from freezing. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the packaging for how to do this. Some heat tapes are wrapped around the pipe, others simply run along it. If you can’t find heat trace cable at your local home center, try an electrical supply house. Sometimes this cable is cut to length from a roll, in which case you may have to buy a kit (or separate parts) to convert into a working heat trace cable. In other cases, the cable is sold ready to use, with one end safely terminated and insulated and the other end with an electrical plug.

Place A Space Heater

You can keep unprotected pipes above freezing by simply placing an electric heater near them. Remember, the goal is not to make the space toasty warm and comfortable. It’s to keep the water in the pipe above freezing.

Turn Off The Water

In the worst case, turn off the main water valve while the house is unoccupied or while you sleep. If a pipe freezes and breaks, the spillage is limited only to the water in the pipe.

Open Cabinet Doors

It’s not unusual for plumbing running to a kitchen sink on an exterior wall to be extremely vulnerable because the wall is not insulated. Open the cabinet doors along that wall to project heat into the space. Place an electric heater in front of the cabinets for an extra measure of cold protection.

MoldSolutions24-7.com

Repairing an S-Trap

A J-trap is also commonly known as a P-trap, S-trap or S-bend. This is the U-shaped pipe under a sink that keeps sewer gases from entering your home. The terms are interchangeable, and parts may be labeled one or the other. Common problems with a J-trap include leaking, misalignment or breakage. All of these problems can be repaired with a little do-it-yourself experience.

  1. Inspect the J-trap for misalignment. The pipes in the trap will be attached sideways, hanging low or possibly even disconnected. Reconnect the pipes by unscrewing the lock nuts with an adjustable pliers and sliding them back together. Many J-traps are connected with compression nuts that squeeze compression washers around the pipe. The nuts need to be tightened firmly to make positive contact between the washer and the pipe. By doing that, the pipes will stay in place and aligned.
  2. Check the connections and the washers for leaks. Unless the J-trap is damaged, virtually all leaking will come from either a badly fastened joint or a broken washer. Cross-threaded compression nuts will leak whether there is a washer in place or not. Remove the compression nuts on the J-trap and check the washers before rethreading the nuts back onto the pipe. If any washer is broken, frayed or bent, it needs to be replaced. Slide it back into place on the pipe and carefully thread the compression nut into place. It must not cross-thread. If it cross-threads repeatedly, you will need to replace the nut because the threads have been damaged.
  3. Check the integrity of the J-trap pipe. Most PVC pipes will remain solid, but metal pipes may corrode and begin to leak. Feel the bottom of the trap for either water or a soft spot in the metal. If it leaks, the only repair is to replace the J-trap itself by turning the compression nuts counterclockwise and removing it. If possible, replace the pipe with PVC. Adapters are available at hardware stores. A PVC pipe will never corrode and will save you a replacement hassle in the future.

MoldSolutions24-7.com

Fall Home Checklist

Before the weather grows colder it’s important to prepare for the winter months to prevent costly damage. Below are the fall preventative home maintenance steps that every homeowner should follow.

Gutters and Downspouts

Clean gutters and downspouts frequently throughout fall to prevent build up of leaves and other debris. Neglected gutters can lead to wood rot problems and pest infestations, not to mention ruined gutters. Be sure water is not coming down behind gutters and that all support brackets are securely in place. Ensure that water drains properly and doesn’t pool. Pooling can cause damage to foundations, driveways, and walkways.

Windows and Doors

Change summer screens to cool weather storm windows and doors. Inspect and repair any loose or damaged window or door frames. Install weather stripping or caulking around windows and doors to prevent drafts and to lower heating bills.

Heating Systems

Replace the filter in your furnace. Consider having a heating professional check your heating system to ensure optimal performance and discover minor problems before they turn into costly major repairs. Clean your ducts to better your heating system’s efficiency as well as to reduce household dust and to provide relief to those with respiratory problems.

Plumbing

To prevent pipes freezing and bursting, ensure that the pipes are well insulated. Know how to locate and turn off the water shut-off valve in case pipes do freeze.

Chimney and Fireplace

Call a professional in to inspect and clean your chimney. Fireplaces that are regularly used during the season should have an annual cleaning to prevent dangerous chimney fires. Test your fireplace flue for a tight seal when closed.

Attic ventilation

Be sure attic insulation doesn’t cover vents in the eaves to prevent winter ice dams on the roof.Be sure ridge vents and vents at eaves are free of plants and debris. Check bird and rodent screens for attic vents to prevent any unwanted guests.

Landscape and Yard Work

Although grass appears to stop growing in the fall, the roots are actually growing deeper to prepare for winter. Now is the best time to fertilize and reseed your lawn. Prune your trees and shrubs after the leaves turn to encourage healthy growth. Trim any tree limbs that are dangerously close to power lines or the roof of your house. Heavy snow and ice can cause damage in the winter.

MoldSolutions24-7.com

Locating You Water Main

Believe or not but many home owners do not know where their main water shut off is located and others simply don’t even know what a Main is. After the water passes through the three city-installed valves, it comes to what is known as the main shutoff valve in your home. This is the valve that you need to be able to locate in an emergency. This valve is usually in the basement or on an outside wall in a utility area of the house. The main shutoff valve allows a full flow of water through the pipe when it’s open. Turning off this valve (by turning it clockwise) cuts off the water supply to the entire house.

The main shutoff valve in your house probably has one of two designs:

  • Gate valve: Gate valves are very reliable and last for years, but they become difficult to turn after not being turned for years. If you haven’t closed the main shutoff valve since you moved into your house, do it now. Better to find out that you can’t turn it with your bare hands now than to wait until you’re standing in 6 inches of water.

  • Ball valve: Houses with plastic or copper main water pipes leading into the house may have a full-flow ball valve. This valve is open when the handle is aligned with the pipe. To close it, turn the handle clockwise 1/4 turn so that it’s at a right angle to the pipe.

The main valve is the one to stop most plumbing catastrophes, such as a burst pipe. Make sure that everyone in the household knows where this valve is located and knows how to turn it off. Turning the handle clockwise closes the valve. You need to turn the handle several turns to fully close a gate valve.

After you’ve closed and opened the valve, it may start to leak a bit around the valve stem. The stem of the valve is held in place with a packing nut. Tighten this nut just enough to stop the leak. Don’t overtighten it or the valve is difficult to turn again. (If you need a cheat sheet to remember which way to turn the control, use a label or tag with the simple reminder: “Right off” with an arrow pointing right, for example.)

Any time you shut off the water and allow the pipes to drain, unscrew the aerators (small screens) on the ends of all faucets before you turn the water back on. Doing so keeps the small particles of scale that may shake loose from inside the pipes from clogging the small holes in these units.

MoldSolutions24-7.com