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Preparing Your Home From Heat Loss

In Uncategorized on November 14, 2018 at 11:40 am

If your chimney flue has not been cleaned recently and you use the fireplace weekly, have it cleaned to prevent a chimney fire. Also, examine the firebox for loose or crumbling bricks. Make any necessary repairs using fire clay, which is a heat resistant mortar. Take a look at your chimney from the outside. If ivy or tree limbs are near the top, cut them back. If you have loose or missing bricks, have them repaired or replaced before you use your fireplace.

Most fireplaces built since 1990 have dampers just above the firebox that close off the flue to limit heat loss when it’s not in use. Make sure the damper is not damaged by age or stuck open (or shut) because of fallen debris. Call in a chimney sweep for major problems. They should be able to make a “clean sweep” of anything wrong.

If your house has a crawlspace make sure you’ve closed all the vents. Also, if you have little or no insulation in the crawl, add R30 insulation to the perimeter walls, a vapor barrier (generally 4-6 mil plastic) should be covering the dirt ground of the crawlspace. And finally, insulate all plumbing pipes with insulation or pipe wrap.

Does your house have a whole-house fan in the hall ceiling? Install a plastic vapor barrier on top of it and then cover it with insulation to prevent heat loss. The heat loss through those louvers is considerable. One problem I find when inspecting houses is some families don’t seal the whole-house fan, which causes rotting and mold in the attic to the roof sub-structure. That is not good.

If you total up all the areas around the average house that need caulking and weatherstripping, you’re looking at an equivalent of a three-foot gaping hole in the wall. Weatherstripping consists of those slim strips of rubber, plastic, metal and foam that seal the moving edges of doors, windows and other areas. To stop air leaks, weather stripping has to make a good seal between the door or window and its frame.

Storm windows not only protect the main window from water, winter, rain and snow, they slow heat loss by creating a dead-air space, however, only if they are tight enough to limit air movement. Make sure storms fit snugly all around the window frame, leaving only small weep holes along the bottom edge to allow condensation, rain and moisture vapor to escape. Loose storms are not only ineffective, they promote frost on the indoor window surface.

Pipes, vents, hatches, recessed lights, and cracks that penetrate the upper floor ceilings are easy avenues for heat loss. Even more important, they allow moisture vapor to migrate to the attic, where cooler temperatures cause it to condense into water that saturates insulation and freezes into frost. Close off large penetrations with plywood or wallboard, then seal all joints and cracks with caulk.

If you think you have “bats in the belfry” what do you have up there? You’d better make sure you have good attic ventilation. In an insulated attic, the rafters and roof boards are cold. Any warm, moist air reaching them through the insulation immediately condenses into moisture. The moisture gets trapped and eventually rots the wood. So whenever you add attic insulation, make sure you have good attic ventilation. To see how much insulation and ventilation you need, go to my website at www.technihouse.com and click on “Insulation: Packing It In”.

If a winter storm strikes, close off those rooms that are not absolutely essential. Listen to TV and radio for weather developments. Letting faucets drip a little may prevent freezing damage. If a power failure occurs, turn off most light switches, your furnace switch, and unplug the freezer and refrigerator. The surge of returning electrical power can damage the motors of appliances.

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Help make AC Run More Efficient / Service Entrance Conductor / Plumbing Soil Stack

In Uncategorized on June 8, 2018 at 11:06 am

Q:

What can I do to help make my air conditioning unit run more efficient?

A:

When it’s air conditioner time, it’s also time to do a little summer maintenance to allow your air conditioning unit to operate at its most efficient level, with the least amount of trouble. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Cut shrubbery away from the compressor, allowing about one foot of clearance.
  • Verify that electrical current at the compressor is off by removing the cartridge fuse or turning off the service safety switch.
  • Use a garden hose, spray off all lint and debris on the fins or louvers on the compressor intake side. This is best done by hosing the unit from the opposite end of the intake or, if possible, inside out.
  • After the unit has been cleaned, replace the cartridge fuse or safety switch to the “on” position.
  • Indoors, change the furnace filter (a dirty filter restricts air flow) and oil the furnace motor, if it requires periodic oiling.
  • Turn off, drain and clean the humidifier because leaving it filled with water will reduce the efficiency of the air conditioner. Besides cooling, air conditioners also dehumidify the air. If you don’t drain the humidifier, the reservoir of water will add humidity and reduce efficiency.
  • If your system has a condensate pump, clean it and make sure it is operating properly by pouring water into the condensate pump pan until it operates. If you have a condensate drain tube leading to a floor drain or sump, secure it properly to eliminate moisture leaking on the basement floor. Before securing it, remove the tube or hose and blow through it to verify that it is unobstructed.

You’re no fool, if you stay cool and don’t skip school. (Just felt like throwing that in.)

Q:

Should I be afraid that the electrical wiring coming into my house is frayed?

A:

Very, very frequently I find that the service entrance conductor is frayed and bare wires are exposed in homes that I’m inspecting. The service entrance conductor is the cable on the exterior that brings power to your house. It originates at the pole belonging to the utility company. The energy company is responsible for this service drop (the cable from the pole to the house.)

Shocking, as it may seem, it is your responsibility to repair or replace the frayed electrical service conductor, while the utility company maintains the meter and the service drop from the pole to the service head.

Often, a lightly frayed cable can be taped with electrical tape. If it is too badly worn, it must be replaced. In either case a licensed electrician should do this job. You’re dealing with 220-volts, which can add more than just a permanent perm to your hair. We’re talking about electrocution, so hire an electrician.

Q:

What is a plumbing soil stack?

A:

What do blood pressure, taxes and a plumbing stack all have in common? They all go through the roof, but only the last one is suppose to. It’s called a soil stack or stack vent.

It takes methane gas and sewer gas from the plumbing system and safely vents it up and through the roof where it is diluted into the atmosphere.

Periodically, it can become plugged or the upper floor plumbing fixtures become obstructed at a main. In those instances, run an auger or long snake down from the vent till the obstruction is removed. Then flush it clear using a garden hose with the water turned on.

The boot or collar often dries out and cracks. Leaks can develop and rot the roof boards and ceiling below. You can tar around this pipe, but the tar also dries out. For fewer than ten dollars you can buy a stack sleeve that easily slides down the vent hugging it, while eliminating further leaks.

 

 

Spring Cleaning Tips for the Kitchen

In Uncategorized on May 23, 2018 at 2:42 pm

Here are some inexpensive tips for spring-cleaning, and you don’t even have to leave the house to buy supplies to do them.

These tips are to help eliminate odors, remove stains and rid food build-ups in the kitchen.

Doug Rogers, president of the Mr. Appliance Corp. says, “Don’t neglect your kitchen appliances during spring cleaning. Your appliances never get a day off. They take the most abuse yet probably get the least attention. Keep them clean to help them last longer and run more efficiently.”

Give spring-cleaning a whole new meaning with these different and often forgotten tips from Mr. Appliance® and Mr. Rooter Plumbing®:

  1. Eliminate odors in the refrigerator by using vanilla extract soaked into a paper towel and wipe down the walls inside the refrigerator.
  2. Soak removable refrigerator parts in a sink with warm, soapy water to remove stains and spills.
  3. Run an empty dishwasher with a cup of vinegar to remove food residue.
  4. Removed caked on foods from over racks with warm, soapy water.
  5. To eliminate odors in the garbage disposal, place ice cubes and citrus peels in the disposal. Turn on the cold water and then run the disposal for 15 to 30 seconds. After turning the disposal off, continue to rinse with hot water for 15 more seconds.
  6. For cleaning the inside of microwave surfaces use a mixture of two tablespoons baking soda and one quart warm water to remove food stains.
  7. To avoid the yellowing of white appliances, use a mixture of ½-cup bleach, ¼-cup baking soda and four cups of warm water. Using a sponge wipe down the appliances let it set for 10 minutes before rinsing and drying.
  8. To remove grease build up from garbage disposals, turn on the hot water then the disposal and squeeze a tablespoon of dish washing liquid into the disposal. Run the hot water for 15-30 seconds and turn off the disposal but let the hot water run until all the suds are gone.
  9. For cleaning residue and stubborn stains on the inside of the microwave, heat a bowl of vanilla extract for three minutes and use it to wipe down the inside of the microwave (be careful the vanilla extract may be hot.)
  10. To clean the condenser coils, which are located behind the fridge, use a brush or hand-held vacuum to remove dirt, dust and pet hair.

“The best way to ensure an odor-free and grease-free kitchen sink is to prevent the smell and build-up before it begins”, said Mary Kennedy Thompson, president of Mr. Rooter Corporation. “A good dose of spring cleaning can clear the air, keeping your garbage disposal in good working condition.”

Kitchen appliances and plumbing fixtures will continue to sparkle and smell fresh for many years to come just by following these tips from Mr. Appliance and Mr. Rooter Plumbing.

 

 

 

 

 

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