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Archive for November, 2015|Monthly archive page

Getting Your Snow Blower Ready fro Winter / Cold Floors Over a Crawl Space

In Uncategorized on November 18, 2015 at 12:10 pm

Q:

I want to get my snow blower ready for the season. I used up most of the fuel last year. Do you think it’s ready?

A:

Not a chance. As a matter of fact if you haven’t prepped your snow blower here are a couple of tips in addition to what you may have done.

Drain any leftover fuel from the tank and replace it with a fresh supply. Old fuel can turn gummy and really screw up the engine. Change the engine oil in four-cycle engines (two-cycle engines use a gas and oil mixture). Consult your operator’s manual for the recommended weight. If you have a two-cycle engine, you may need to make minor carburetor adjustments. Again, consult your operator’s manual. Also install a new spark plug and keep the old spark plug as a spare after you’ve cleaned it. You better inspect the belts. If they show signs of cracking or thinning, buy and install new ones. If your snow thrower is a chain-driven type, get a spare master link for the chain. Also, lubricate the chain for smoother operation. Buy extra shear pins/bolts. If you hit a rock chances are you’ll have to replace a broken pin. One year I broke four shear pins. Replace the fuel filter and air filter or if they’re washable, wash them. Then put a couple drops of oil on the air filter and then squeeze it out. Apply a wax to the auger and on the inside of the discharge chute to prevent snow from sticking. If you don’t have any wax use a silicone spray or even Pam cooking spray.

Q:

I read your column in the Observer and have a question hopefully you can help us with. We have a crawlspace under our 30-year old addition of our house. We redid our family room in the addition two years ago and installed hardwood floors instead of carpet and now the floors are cold in the winter. Can you recommend a way to fix this problem?

A:

Is the crawlspace insulated? If so, how much? I would install at least R-19 insulation to the three perimeter exterior walls. Is there any ductwork in the crawl and if so are the ducts insulated as well? The ductwork as well as any plumbing should be insulated. The pipes, so they don’t freeze or drip condensation, and the ducts so any heat or air conditioning can get into your family room. Make sure the ductwork has not fallen or become loose. You should also have a vapor barrier on top of a dirt floor. The plastic should completely cover the ground in the crawl, overlap each section of plastic and tape it to the adjoining plastic. If you have vents in the perimeter walls, they should be closed in the fall and open in the spring. Now your tootsies should stay toasty.

 

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Duct Cleaning / Shower Pan / Drafty Houses

In Uncategorized on November 18, 2015 at 12:08 pm

Q:

What is your opinion of having your ductwork cleaned? Is it really necessary?

A:

I once believed that duct cleaning was no longer necessary. I also once believed in the Easter bunny. (What a shock that was!).

I thought since most heating systems were no longer gravity-fed but had pressured duct systems, they didn’t need to have the ductwork cleaned. I gave that theory (which I made up) even more credence since the air going through the ductwork had to pass through a filter. It seemed logical, at least to me. That’s another reason to just say, “NO!”

But, awhile back, in an attempt to prove my point, I had my own ductwork cleaned. Much to my chagrin, I’d say I was eating crow, but I’d been eating and breathing an incredible amount of dirt, dust, hairs, furs, cooties, etc.

So, yes you should have your ductwork cleaned/vacuumed out professionally. You should also install a quality, electrostatic air filter. You know, those inexpensive, fiberglass filters, which most people use, are the least efficient.

Duct cleaning is another of those home repair/improvement fields, which are fraught with unethical companies. To do the job properly it takes about half a day and costs several hundred dollars. It’s worth doing. I recommend it being done after any major remodel. I also think it should be done to any older house’s ductwork. If you have cats and dogs you may want to have them cleaned every five years or so.

Q:

I’ve heard the term “shower pan”. I checked my stove drawer and the chef’s catalog, but couldn’t locate one. What’s up with that?

A:

You’re so cute. A shower pan is the waterproof liner beneath the tile, under the floor in your shower. When it leaks it could cost $800.00 to $1000 to replace.

Mist tile installers now use a rubberized membrane (maybe 30-mil thick) but in the good old days they used less expensive, three pound lead pans that only lasted 7 to 10 years, and four pound lead about 12 to 14 years. While 6 pound lead could last 30 years or longer.

Repairs are expensive since tile work, and replacement, is itself, expensive.

To determine if your shower pan is bad and a possible leak is not from any plumbing pipes, block the drain with a rag or stopper. Then using a bucket or hose, collect water from another faucet, fill the shower up to the step or ledge in the shower and let the water sit for 12 hours. If you find you have a leak, you probably need a new pan.

Q:

My windows in my older Tudor style house are cold and drafty. How can we avoid the draft?

A:

If you’re talking about Uncle Sam, you’re too late. If you’re talking about your windows, you’re just in time!

Everyone knows that houses lose heat through walls, windows, and attics and up the chimney. That’s a lot of ways to lose heat and throw away money. If you have an older house with those steel windows, poor quality aluminum windows, you could be losing 20-percent of your heat through them.

Without spending a lot of money on new aluminum, vinyl or wood windows, you can tape plastic sheets or insider storm windows to the frames. Sure it looks funky, but if you had the money you would probably replace those windows. So to help you save money for those new windows, in the meantime install those inexpensive insider storms. They’ll help with convection currents. That’s where just the cold air radiating off the glass causes air to fall and you feel a draft. They’ll also help with conduction. You know glass is a good conductor of heat. Putting on storm windows, double glazed windows, or even the insider storm windows provides somewhat of a dead air space, which is a good insulator.

Finally, you should have listened to me earlier when I told you to re-glaze those windows, and caulk and weather-strip them. Doing that, of course, would have reduced air infiltration and, or course, saved you money.

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