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Home Renovation Tips

What Water Damage Can You Clean up Yourself—and When Do You Need a Professional?

Posted by on Mar 26, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

If you’ve recently suffered a water leak in your home, you may be overwhelmed at the thought of cleaning up  the damage yourself. Indeed, water remediation is a task often best left to the professionals. However, there are a few things you can do to speed the process along — as well as help prevent further damage to your walls, floors, and furniture. Read on to learn more about the steps you should take immediately upon learning of a water leak, as well as the situations in which you should consult a professional water and sewer cleanup service. What Steps Should You Take Immediately? The first and most obvious step is to stop the flow of water—remediation efforts are futile if water is still entering the home. Short of rescuing children and pets, your primary focus should be on stopping the flood. Next, remove and isolate any soft furniture, paper, or other portable objects that have been penetrated with water. If important papers like birth certificates or college transcripts are soaked, place them in plastic bags and put them in the freezer as quickly as you can. If you have a vacuum sealer, you may want to “laminate” these documents, which will remove most excess moisture and prevent molding or mildewing. Place soft furniture in a dry area—or outside if possible—and use any box fans or ceiling fans available to create a breeze. Your next priority is to remove wooden furniture, which can quickly warp when soaked in water. If a carpeted area has been affected and you have a carpet steam cleaner available, you may be able to avoid permanent damage by quickly steaming the carpet as dry as possible within 24 to 48 hours of the flooding. If you don’t have a dehumidifier in your home, now is the time to purchase one. These devices remove excess moisture from the air and condense it in a holding tank, which can be emptied as frequently as needed. When Should You Call in a Professional? Whenever you’ve suffered standing water for any period of time—even in a basement—you should contact a professional water remediation company. Once water has been allowed to remain in the drywall and underlying wood, you’re at a high risk for mold problems. A water remediation company (such as RTC Restoration) uses heavy-duty fans, heaters, and water extractors to eliminate all traces of moisture from your floors and walls. These contractors will also be able to let you know what flooring or other items should be replaced rather than remediated, and may be able to arrange for a quick and seamless...

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How To Prevent Your Air Conditioner From Breaking Down

Posted by on Mar 13, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Many homeowners find that their air conditioner breaks down at the least opportune times. No matter how well you maintain your air conditioner, you will likely need to have it repaired at some point. Here are a few tips that will help you prevent your air conditioner from breaking down. Clean the Filter One way you can keep your air conditioner repair bills down is by cleaning the filters on a regular basis. You can clean the filter of your HVAC unit for reuse by vacuuming it.  Ideally, you should clean the filters once every few months, or in the beginning of a new season. During periods of intense usage, such as the hot summer months, you should make an effort to clean the filter at least once a month. Cleaning the filter will make your HVAC unit run more efficiently, leading to lowered energy and repair bills. When it comes to some HVAC units, it is necessary to replace the filter. You should refer to your owner’s material to determine how often you should replace the filter of the air conditioner. When it comes to most units, you should replace the filter two to four times per year. Thermostat One way you can prevent your air conditioner from breaking down is by using the thermostat. Oftentimes, when an air conditioning unit breaks down, it’s because it became overworked or overheated. Therefore, you should use your thermostat to reduce the amount of work your HVAC unit does. First of all, if you don’t know how to program your thermostat, take the time to learn. Once you’ve learned how to use it, you should program it on a regular basis. For example, if your air conditioner is set to 50 degrees, but you’re not in the house for the vast majority of the day, both energy and money are being wasted. Therefore, before you leave the house, use the thermostat to set the air conditioner from 50 degrees to 70 or 80 degrees. Once you get home, you can set the thermostat to 50 degrees once more. Certain HVAC units allow you to program the thermostat remotely, so that you can turn on the air conditioner right before you get home, so that you don’t have to wait for the house to cool once you arrive home. As you can see, there are many things you can do to prevent your air conditioner from breaking down. Just follow the tips listed above, and you likely save a lot when it comes to repair costs. For more information, contact a business such as Certified...

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Prepare Your Water Heater For Winter

Posted by on Dec 10, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

With winter’s cold weather on the way and out of town visitors coming for the holidays, many homeowners are asking themselves what can be done to stretch the hot water in their home. These tips will help you get the most out of your hot water heater this winter. Inspect your Hot Water Heater As a homeowner, you know that you’ll be in trouble if your water heater breaks down in the middle of a holiday party, long weekend, or when out of town visitors are staying in your guest room. To prevent this from happening, inspect your hot water heater for signs of distress. Things to look for include: Corrosion Extra moisture Puddles beneath the heater Soot around the burner Hot water heaters that display any of these symptoms could be in danger of breaking down. If your water heater is showing signs of distress, contact your plumber immediately to find out what can be done to avoid problems. Insulate the Pipes Pipes that run through cold basements and crawl spaces can lose a lot of heat as water travels from the heater to the faucets. Insulating these pipes helps to hold in the heat, so water will still be hot by the time it reaches faucets and showerheads. There are two ways to insulate pipes. Taping fiberglass insulation to pipes is a cost effective (but time-consuming) method. Alternatively, self-sticking pipe insulation is sold in hardware stores and home improvement centers, and is easy for homeowners to install personally without help from a professional. Insulate the Hot Water Heater Hot water heater blankets can help keep the heat inside the water heater. This may be helpful if your water heater is in a cold basement, however, if the installation is done incorrectly, the blanket can become a fire risk. If you want to insulate your hot water heater, speak with a plumber (such as one from Professional Plumbing Solutions) to ensure that it’s done correctly. Turn up the Temperature on the Water Heater When expecting guests or anticipating extra use of the hot water heater, temporarily turning up the temperature on the heater can help. Don’t allow the temperature of the tank to exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit, as temperatures above 120 degrees can be scalding. Taking these steps will help to ensure that you’ll have all the hot water you need throughout the holidays. This way, you and your guests will stay warm and happy throughout the...

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Common Air Conditioning Problems And Solutions

Posted by on Dec 5, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Like any other major household appliance, air conditioners come equipped with their own set of electrical and mechanical problems. The more you know about these problems, the easier it will be for you to deal with them on your own. You will be able to handle some of the problems on your own, and others will merit reaching out to an AC specialist for assistance. Problem #1: The Air Conditioner Does Not Turn On It is not uncommon for an air conditioning unit to fail to turn on at the start of the summer. When this happens, it could be because there is an issue with the thermostat or because the unit is not getting enough power. Check The Thermostat First You want to start by inspecting your thermostat. It should be switched to cooling mode. You should also try turning it down several degrees to see if the air conditioning kicks on. If adjusting the settings does not fix the thermostat, it may need to be recalibrated. This is an issue an air conditioning technician would need to fix for you. Inspect the Power Source You also want to make sure the air conditioner is actually getting power. Locate your fuse box and make sure the circuit was not blown. Next, make sure the unit is actually plugged in and turned on. Try power cycling the unit by turning it off and back on to see if it kicks on. If your unit has any type of electrical issue, you will need the help of a technician to get it fixed. Problem #2: The Unit Is Blowing Warm Air   Your air conditioner can blow warm air when it is dirty. Cleaning or replacing the air filter could make the problem go away. You also could need to have the ducts cleaned as well. You should take a trip outside and make sure the area around the outdoor unit is clean and clear. Any debris could clog the unit and prevent it from working properly. The unit could be blowing warm air because the coolant level is low. The coolant level of your air conditioner should only be checked and replenished by an expert. Most air conditioner problems can be prevented with routine maintenance and cleanings. As a homeowner, it is your responsibility to purchase preventative maintenance from an air conditioning repair contractor, such as Comfort Advisors Heating & Air Conditioning. With preventative maintenance, you would have a contractor come out and inspect your unit a couple times a year for any signs of...

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PEX Is The Choice For A Remodel

Posted by on Nov 29, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Plumbing materials have changed in many ways over the years. In centuries past, people were restricted by the need to use materials that did not require a lot of intricate work. Thus, they would use bamboo, hollow logs, rock, and clay. These materials worked fairly well, but they are nothing compared to the materials that are available today. If you have a plumbing project to complete in your home, then you should use the best materials available. When it comes to quality and construction, PEX is the way to go.  PEX vs. Metal Metal pipes will hold up to abuse better than PEX will. After all, PEX is really nothing more than a plastic. That being said, how much abuse do plumbing pipes take? You don’t need the world’s most durable material in order to move water from one point to another in your home. Besides, water can react with metal and create bad-tasting, stain-creating hard water. PEX will not break down in water, so you don’t have to worry about your pipes creating problems with the quality of your water.  PEX vs. PVC PVC is a good material in that it is easy to work with, but it does have some drawbacks. For one, PVC will break down when exposed to hot water. For another PEX is not very bendable; PEX, on the other hand, can bend, so you end up using less fittings. Another problem with PVC is that it is not good for use with fresh hot water because the chemicals in the PVC can leach into your water and create problems. PEX will not break down when exposed to hot water, so it can easily be used with fresh water. PEX also has the ability to expand, so even if water in the pipe freezes, it should not break.  Installing PEX When you use PEX pipe, you will use insert fittings and clamps to make connections between different sections of pipe. While working with these clamps will not be quite as easy as gluing sections of PVC together with a good contact cement, it is a lot easier than trying to solder or thread pieces of metal pipe together.  PEX is a highly versatile plumbing material that can be used with hot or cold water, can be bent to go around corners, and can cut down on costs associated with the wasted material you get with other plumbing materials. If you are having a hard time deciding what material to use with your plumbing project, look no further than PEX. More information on plumbing products can be found by clicking on the...

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Experiencing Higher Heating Bills? Check The Plenum For Leaks And Learn How To Eliminate Them

Posted by on Nov 24, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

If you’re electric or gas bill is more expensive than usual, but you haven’t been running the furnace more than normal, there may be a problem with the supply plenum. This part of your furnace is attached to the ducts via joints that can sometimes leak. Use this guide to determine whether there is an air leak at this joint and then fix the problem. Step 1: Gather Your Tools Go to the home improvement store and pick up the following tools: foil tape smoke pencil stepladder utility knife latex gloves duct mastic Note: Some homes have a lower supply plenum that is easy enough to reach without a stepladder. Step 2: Test the Plenum Joints Turn the furnace on by turning up the thermostat, and then locate the plenum joint; use the stepladder to reach it if necessary. Hold the smoke pencil near the joint, and use it to place marks on the wall or on the joint itself where you see the smoke from the pencil. The location of the smoke will show you where the air leaks are. Step 3: Turn Off the Furnace Go back to the thermostat and turn the furnace off. Then allow the plenum joint and the ductwork to cool completely. This might take a little while. Step 4: Apply the Duct Mastic Put on a pair of latex gloves, and dip your fingers into the duct mastic. Smear the mastic liberally directly on the joint, where the pencil marks indicate the leaks are. Step 5: Apply the Foil Tape Cut strips of foil tape with the utility knife, and then pull off the backing of the tape. Then attach the tape to the joint seams on the plenum and duct work. Press the tape around the joint so that it contours and gives the appearance that it is not there. Step 6: Test the Plenum Joint Turn on the furnace at the thermostat again, and test the joint with the smoke pencil once more. If there are still leaks, turn the furnace off and allow it to cool. Then repeat the mastic and tape process again. Call your HVAC professional, like at Affordable Group Inc- Heating & Cooling Specialist, if you have any problems with these steps, or if you simply cannot get the leak to go away. Ask them about other troubleshooting tips should you experience high electric or gas bills in the future. Share this with others who might be a little perplexed about their energy...

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Tips For Removing And Preventing Ice Dams On Your Roof

Posted by on Nov 21, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Ice dams form on your roof when heat from the home rises, causing water runoff from melting snow. This runoff freezes as it touches the cold edge of the roof line, which creates an ice dam. It is called an ice dam because it prevents water from draining properly off the roof. These dams can cause serious damage to your roof and the inside of your house. To prevent damage and extra expense for roof repair, you need to take steps to remove or prevent ice dams. Removing Existing Ice Dams It is best to remove ice dams as soon as you notice them in order to restore water drainage. You should carry out periodic inspections for ice dams by looking for moisture and water stains in your attic and around the tops of interior walls on the top floor of the home.  If you think you can safely reach your roof and feel comfortable doing so, you can use a roof rake to either knock the ice dam off or try to knock out a channel in the ice to allow water to flow through.  A roof rake is a long-handled tool used to remove snow off roofs. If you cannot reach it yourself, you can hire a roofing contractor to safely remove the ice dams.  Another method of removing ice dams is to pour some calcium chloride ice melt  or rock salt into a sheer stocking and lay it across the dam to melt a channel through through the ice. Do not use rock salt or ice melt directly on the shingles; this can damage your roof.  Preventing Ice Dam Formation There are steps you can take to help reduce the number of ice dams that form. First, make sure that your downspouts are clear to allow melting snow to drain. This helps gutters drain when snow melts and prevents flooding caused by melting snow and ice. If possible, use a roof rake to clear snow off your roof each time you have an accumulating snowfall.  Long-term prevention methods are also available. Insulation plays an important role in preventing the formation of ice dams. If you take steps to keep your attic well insulated, it helps stop the ongoing cycling of melting and freezing that leads to ice dam formation. Good roof insulation includes sealing any areas where warm air could escape into your attic, such as around chimneys, vents, light fixtures and exhaust fans.  Talk to your roofing contractor about installing a water-repellent membrane under the roof shingles. This membrane is extra protection to keep water from leaking into the home.  Ice dams can lead to extensive damage if not removed and prevented, so it is important to discuss your options with a roofing contractor, such as Palmer Roofing, to keep your home dry and damage...

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How To Clean Clogged Aerators And Fix Low Water Pressure

Posted by on Nov 20, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Low water pressure can be frustrating. Identifying what is causing your low water pressure is the fastest way to fix the problem. One of the first things you should check for is leakage. If you do not spot any obvious signs of leakage from pipes or pipelines in the home or around the yard then your low water pressure could be caused by clogged aerators. Clogged aerators are usually caused by debris that has gotten into the aerator. How does debris get into aerators? There are several ways that debris can get into the pipelines and clog aerators. Older homes will usually have old iron pipes in the plumbing system, and these older iron pipes are prone to rusting over time. When the rust gets loose it is likely to clog up aerators resulting in low water pressure. Other types of debris such as algae can also get into the water and clog aerators. Algae is often seasonal and looks like fine sawdust. Debris may also be introduced into your pipelines when the water company makes repairs to its system. How can I remove debris from my aerator? Removing debris from aerators is relatively easy and usually only requires that you locate and remove the aerator and give it a good clean. The aerator is cylindrical in shape and is located at the mouth of the pipe. It is can usually be screwed off with minimum effort. However, if you find that it is too tight to remove it by hand, then get a pair of pliers and cover inside the mouth of the pliers with tape so that you do not scratch the aerator’s surface when you use the pliers to grip it. Clench the mouth of the pliers over the aerator and gently but firmly unscrew it. Once you have removed it, check to see if there is debris inside it, if debris is present, give the aerator a good clean by running water through it.  If it is rusty or corroded then soak the aerator in vinegar overnight and use an old tooth brush to scour it clean in the morning. Double check if the aerator was the problem by turning on the tap without the aerator on and see if the water pressure increases. Where can I buy a new aerator? Occasionally your aerator may be too damaged by corrosion to simply clean and replace it.  In this is the case you will need to get a new one. Take the old aerator to the hardware store. They will use a slick gauge to make sure that you get the right fit for your faucet. All you will need to do is take the new aerator home and attach it to the faucet. Clogged aerator problems are easy to locate and fix and should be one of the first things you check for when you are experiencing low water pressure. For more information, contact a plumber like Walt’s...

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Have Ugly Tree Stumps In Your Yard? Here’s How To Get Rid Of Them

Posted by on Nov 19, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

One of the hardest things about removing trees from your property is getting rid of the stumps. You can hire a tree removal expert to do the job for you using heavy equipment, but that can be expensive if you have more than one stump to remove. Before you do that, you can try to get rid of the stump yourself. The method you choose depends on the size of the stump and how soon you want it gone. These are some things you can try. Chemical Stump Killers If you’re not in a hurry, you can use chemicals to break apart the stump. These work to hasten decomposition, but it is still a slow process. It will be several months before the stump is gone. If you want to try this route, you can buy chemical stump removers at a garden or home improvement store, and apply them to your stumps. All you have to do is drill holes into a stump and pour in the chemicals. You may also have to add water depending on the product you buy. After several months, the wood will be soft from decay. Then you can take a hatchet and break apart the stump and dispose of the wood. Fire If the stump is situated in a safe location, you can try to burn it out. Stack firewood around it and burn it as you would any bonfire. When most of the stump is burned away, and the fire has gone out, you can chop apart the rest of the stump. The fire may need to burn for several hours if the stump is very big, or you may need to have multiple fires over a span of time. This method won’t work if the stump is close to your house or if you don’t have time to babysit the fire. Backhoe Another option is to rent a backhoe or tractor to pull the stump out with a chain. Unless you have a friend you can borrow a tractor from, this will be a costly way to remove your stump. However, if you want to build something in the space such as a swimming pool, using a backhoe might be the best choice for removing the stump because it pulls up the roots too and gets them out of your way. Besides the expense, another disadvantage is you’ll have a huge tree stump you need to dispose of. It could be costly to take it to the dump, so a good alternative is to bury the stump on your property if you have the space. Stump Grinder You can get a stump grinder rental from an equipment rental company. This is the ideal way to get rid of a stump because it grinds it up, so there is no big chunk of wood to get rid of, and the wood chips can be used as mulch. The grinder sits on top of the stump and grinds it into chips for several inches below the soil. Once the job is finished, you can plant grass seeds or put in sod, and you’ll never know a tree was ever growing there. Also, stump grinding is quick, so if you want a stump gone in a hurry, grinding is the way to go. Since...

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Duct Maintenance To Keep Your Heating Costs Down

Posted by on Nov 18, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

The air inside your home can be full of allergens. Dead skin cells, dust mite carcasses, dust, pollen, pet dander, mold spores—the list goes on. The surfaces of your home are constantly being bombarded with tiny debris. Unfortunately, some of these surfaces are hard to reach and therefore hard to keep clean. For example, the surfaces of your ducts can get clogged with allergy-causing gunk. Not only can this gunk pollute the air in your home, but it can slow down the efficiency of your furnace. Thus, duct cleaning is an important part of furnace maintenance.  Dirty Ducts and Allergies While your furnace should have an air filter, some particulates will get past the filter. Furthermore, dust can fall down into your ducts through the vents in your home. As dust builds up in your ducts, it forms a foundation for other problems. For example, mold and/or mildew can start to grow inside your ducts. Every time air is forced down your ducts, it picks up some of the allergens in the ducts and then spews them into your house. In order to keep your home free of air pollutants, you need to not only change your filter regularly, but you also need to have your ducts cleaned.  Duct Cleaning and Furnace Maintenance The air flow through your ducts is best when the air coming from your furnace can pass over smooth surfaces. As dust builds up inside your ducts, it causes two problems: for one, the dust will create uneven surfaces. As air flows over your dirty ducts, the rough surfaces will create eddies that slow down the flow of air. Another problem is that dirt build-up on the walls of your ducts can decrease the diameter of your ducts, and the smaller space the air has to flow through can choke off air flow. In order to keep your system running at its optimum efficiency, it is important to inspect your ducts regularly and have them cleaned when necessary. Ducts are easy to forget about. You never see them, so it is easy to never worry about how dirty they might be. If you disregard your ducts, you could be dealing with a swamp of allergens and lung irritants in your home and never know that better lung health is just one duct cleaning away. To keep your family and your furnace happy and healthy, you should make sure that you stay up on duct cleaning. Contact an HVAC contractor like Kohl Heating & Air Conditioning for more...

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