House Maintenance – CheckThisHouse https://www.checkthishouse.com Home maintenance, remodeling, repair, and improvement tips for your property Thu, 29 Oct 2020 11:19:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.16 5 Common Appliance Problems and How to Fix Them https://www.checkthishouse.com/8606/5-common-appliance-problems-and-how-to-fix-them.html Tue, 19 May 2020 11:41:25 +0000 https://www.checkthishouse.com/?p=8606 Common household appliances aren’t perfect and can often run into drainage or efficiency problems. Luckily, there are a few simple solutions to some of these problems that don’t require calling a maintenance person to fix it. To see what these solutions are to five common appliance problems, keep reading: Fridge Isn’t Staying Cool When your ... Read more]]>

Common household appliances aren’t perfect and can often run into drainage or efficiency problems.

Luckily, there are a few simple solutions to some of these problems that don’t require calling a maintenance person to fix it.

To see what these solutions are to five common appliance problems, keep reading:

Fridge Isn’t Staying Cool

When your fridge isn’t staying cool, it’s easy for its contents to get spoiled. Luckily, there is a solution to this problem, and it involves some simple cleaning.

Oftentimes, you need to clear the coils of the fridge to clear any build-up that may prevent your fridge from cooling properly.

To fix this problem, follow the steps below:

  1. Unplug your fridge.
  2. The coils on your fridge are either located on the back of your fridge or underneath the opening of the door. Pull out your fridge or remove the panel to expose the coils.
  3. Use a brush and a vacuum to remove any dirt, residue, or dust on the coils.
  4. Repeat as necessary.

To prevent this from happening again, regularly check and clean your fridge coils.

Washing Machine Smells

A smelly washing machine is not only unpleasant itself, but it can also leave your clothes with a musty smell as well.

Typically, a smelly washer is caused by a combination of dirt, water and other residue creating an environment where bacteria, mildew, and mold can grow.

To fix this problem, follow the steps below:

  1. Run a high-heat washing cycle with vinegar poured into the basket or drum, and mix baking soda into the detergent.
  2. Clean the inside of your washing machine with a sponge

To prevent this from happening again, regularly clean your washing machine. You can also leave the door open to help dry the washing machine after every cycle.

Try not to store your washing machine in a humid environment.

Dryer Not Drying Clothes

Sometimes, a clogged vent can cause your dryer to feel hot but not dry your clothes fully. When the vent is clogged, it prevents proper ventilation and circulation of air throughout your dryer.

Plus, clogged vents can become a fire hazard as well, so it’s important to address the problem.

To fix this problem, follow the steps below:

  1. Unplug your dryer and locate the vent — it should be on the back of the dryer.
  2. Remove the vent and dislodge or pull out any lint or other debris left.
  3. Use a vacuum to remove any remaining debris.

To prevent this from happening again, frequently clean out the vent and lint trapper located inside the dryer.

Clogged Garbage Disposal

A clogged garbage disposal is a common yet frustrating problem. A garbage disposal clog is mostly caused by an overload of food, trash, or a foreign object becoming lodged within the disposal.

To fix this problem, follow the steps below:

  1. Take a sink plunging tool and plunge the disposal. Do not use a toilet plunger.
  2. Plunge until the object is dislodged or water is able to run through your disposal.

To prevent this from happening again, try to avoid putting large amounts of food or undisposable objects down the drain.

Dishwasher Not Draining Water

If you notice your dishwasher is not draining water properly, there may be a clog.

To fix this problem, follow the steps below:

  1. Check the drain valve of your dishwasher and clear if there are any blockages.
  2. Check the bottom of the dishwasher and the filter that lays on the bottom for any particles or blockages.
  3. Similar to cleaning a smelly washing machine, you can use vinegar and baking soda to clear your dishwasher as well.

To prevent this from happening again, try to avoid overloading the dishwasher or loading the dishwasher with dishes that have large amounts of food left.

When to Call a Professional

If these problems continue to arise or aren’t fixed by following these steps, you may need to do more complex repairs or hire a professional.

In situations like these, having a trusted home warranty company or maintenance man to ask questions can be extremely helpful.

However, with regular cleaning and good treatment of your appliances, you can avoid having too many maintenance issues.

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Does Painting Your Home’s Exterior Boost Its Value? https://www.checkthishouse.com/8549/painting-homes-exterior-boost-value.html Thu, 05 Mar 2020 23:49:20 +0000 https://www.checkthishouse.com/?p=8549 painter holding a rolling brush as they paint the exterior of a home on a step ladderA beautiful house will instantly catch the eye of potential buyers. Painting the exterior of your home will have many benefits such as: Great first impressions Curb appeal Another form of protection Painting the exterior of your home can be a lot of work. But is it worth it? According to a study done by ... Read more]]> painter holding a rolling brush as they paint the exterior of a home on a step ladder

A beautiful house will instantly catch the eye of potential buyers. Painting the exterior of your home will have many benefits such as:

  • Great first impressions
  • Curb appeal
  • Another form of protection

Painting the exterior of your home can be a lot of work. But is it worth it? According to a study done by RD, curb appeal is vital in the real estate world. It can attract buyers, revive the house, and sell the house much quicker.

So, will painting the exterior increase your home’s value?

It can be tough trying to figure out if it is worth the time, money, and energy. To save you the suspense, the answer is yes. Just by painting the exterior of a house you could instantly boost your home’s value by 2-5%. Not only raising the value but also sell your home much quicker!

Why You Should Paint Your Exterior

There are many reasons to paint your exterior. The obvious is that it just looks good. Also, the paint will actually take a beating as your home’s first line of defense. Painting on stucco exterior will last about 10 years, while a wooden surface will last about 5-7 years. It’s important to keep up with the paint as a home inspector will not accept defective paint.

As stated before, the curb appeal will increase your value. But make sure to do it properly, here are some tips:

  • Avoid bright colors
  • Paint your door black
  • Do not paint yellow

Be cautious of your neighborhood’s rules, as some places are very strict on what you can paint your home. Avoid going cheap on paint, this will create more time, money and effort in the long run.

Average Cost Of Exterior Painting

Painting the exterior will take some work and dedication. Depending on the size of the home, It will cost on average $2,802 to paint the entire exterior.

There are many ways to reduce this cost, the first would be to do the work yourself. If that isn’t an interest you could also choose to do a touch up instead of a full job, this is a lot less work and can be reasonably cheaper. Prices will also change based on the quality of the paint; one gallon of paint will cost anywhere from $17 to more than $100.

All in all, the cost to paint the exterior could be a little frightening but will set you up to earn more on the backend.

DIY Or Hire Professional

Just like any home renovation, there are all kinds of factors on choosing whether or not to hire a professional. For example, should you make sure it’s done properly with a professional or save money by doing it yourself?

Although it costs more, a professional will finish the project typically within 5 days while it would be about 2 weeks for an amateur. A professional also holds the secrets to quality making sure you a get a top of the line paint job! Whether you choose the professional or DIY route, it’s important to know what type of job it will take.

Touch Up Or Full Job

If your exterior happens to be in pretty decent shape, it could save you a lot of money and time. It might only take a little bit of touching up the rougher areas or adding a few accent colors to raise the value of your home.

On the other hand, it might be worth doing a complete paint job, if the exterior is rough or just a bad paint color. To get the best value it will require a nice paint job along with color. According to the PDCA, It’s important to power wash your exterior regularly to avoid any dirt or debris.

Final Thoughts

All in all, your home’s value can dramatically increase with just 1-2 weeks’ worth of work! Although it can be a little scary and take some work, raising the value by 2-5% will be worth it in the end!

For more great home ownership tips, check out the other blogs on Check This House.

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Handyman Insurance: Here’s What You Need to Know https://www.checkthishouse.com/8510/handyman-insurance.html Mon, 27 Jan 2020 20:13:57 +0000 https://www.checkthishouse.com/?p=8510 wrench over screw and hammer over top of nail on wooden boardA handyman can fix just about anything. From fixing the leaky toilet and bathroom pipes to remodeling kitchen cabinets. Since they work in their customer’s homes, having handyman insurance to protect their business is advisable. Every type of business must have insurance coverage, and handyman businesses are no exception. In fact, as a handyman, you ... Read more]]> wrench over screw and hammer over top of nail on wooden board

A handyman can fix just about anything. From fixing the leaky toilet and bathroom pipes to remodeling kitchen cabinets. Since they work in their customer’s homes, having handyman insurance to protect their business is advisable.

Every type of business must have insurance coverage, and handyman businesses are no exception. In fact, as a handyman, you might actually need insurance more than other types of businesses. You spend most of your time in businesses or homes, interact more with the public, and any mistake you make can cause significant damage to the customer, or potentially yourself.

What Types of Insurance Does a Handyman Need?

While every business is unique, specific types of insurance policies are necessary to protect professionals in the handyman industry. Here are some of the types of insurance policies you might want to consider.

Handyman Liability Insurance

Being a reputable handyman means you’ll always be at work. Almost every house in the US needs minor repairs from time to time. If minor fixes are neglected, they can turn into major problems.
As a handyman, you’re also in constant contact with the public, which increases your risk of something going wrong. Despite being careful, mistakes can still happen. This is why you need handyman liability insurance to help mitigate your risks.

What’s Covered by Handyman Liability Insurance

The most important insurance policy you can invest in is liability insurance. It covers a lot and will respond if your business is sued for something you or your employee are found liable for.

Typically, a general policy pays the following:

  • For the time spent on the case
  • For attorney expenses, court cost and other defense-related fees
  • For any fees ordered by the court

Who is Covered?

The best thing about handyman liability insurance is that it covers almost everyone working in your business, including you, partners, and your employees. If you’ve incorporated your business, your directors will also be covered if they are faced with any work-related lawsuits.

Contents Coverage for Handymen

If you’re like most handymen, you own expensive tools and equipment. What will happen to your business if those tools and equipment get lost?
The best way to protect your tools and equipment is to buy content coverage policy. Stolen tools and equipment can harm your business, not just in replacing them, but also for the jobs you might miss during that time you need to replace these items.

With contents coverage, you’ll be compensated for the tools replacement costs regardless of whether the loss is due to damage or theft. Depending on your business size and the types of jobs you take, you can get contents coverage at a cost-effective price.

Workers’ Compensation

If you have employees in your handyman business, it is essential to have workers’ compensation insurance. It protects your employees from any job-related injuries and also protects you from any legal fees resulting from employee lawsuits. Workers’ compensation is mandatory in many states.

Commercial Auto

A truck is among the most valuable assets for a handyman business. Commercial auto insurance covers you in case of injuries, repair bills, or other losses in the event of an accident on the job.
Keep in mind that your personal auto insurance policy does not cover your work vehicle. If your truck is involved in an accident while on the road for commercial purposes, a personal auto insurance policy might not cover it.

Inland Marine

As a handyman, you’ll be moving with your tools from one place to another. What happens to your tools and equipment if they are stolen, vandalized, or destroyed while on transit?
You need marine inland insurance to compliment your commercial auto policy. Commercial auto protects your truck, while inland marine takes care of your valuable materials, tools, and supplies stored in the truck.

Tips On Finding the Best Coverage for Your Handyman Business

Now that you’ve read about the most critical coverages for your handyman business, it is crucial to know where and how to find the right policies.
Before you buy a policy, take some time to study your business. These details will help make your buying process easier and faster. Consider:

Job Types

Do you specialize in a particular area, for instance, power washing or you are a jack of all trade?

Equipment

Do you own expensive tools?

Annual revenue

Do you have an estimate of your yearly business earnings?

Subcontractors

Do you give jobs to subcontractors?

You’ll need to get policies tailored for your specific needs, as no handyman business is exactly like the other.

For more great handyman tips, check out the other blogs on Check This House.

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The Impact Windows Have on Energy Efficiency and More https://www.checkthishouse.com/8477/windows-energy-efficiency.html Wed, 13 Nov 2019 18:43:14 +0000 https://www.checkthishouse.com/?p=8477 renovation work in an old house and replacing windows, building energy efficiencyUnless you live in a region of the country known for mild winters, you’re bracing for a drop in temperature that could easily fall below zero before it’s all said and done. And, once it hits the mark, it might hover there indefinitely. Ick. It’s enough to make most of us shudder just thinking about ... Read more]]> renovation work in an old house and replacing windows, building energy efficiency

Unless you live in a region of the country known for mild winters, you’re bracing for a drop in temperature that could easily fall below zero before it’s all said and done. And, once it hits the mark, it might hover there indefinitely. Ick. It’s enough to make most of us shudder just thinking about it. Instead, let’s focus on the image of your family tucked away from winter’s arctic chill.

Is your family safe and sound, all warm and cozy, spending time together during the deep freeze? Or are you dragging the furniture away from the windows to try and avoid the draft, with a distinct chill in the air as everyone burrows under blankets to watch a movie?

If the second scenario fits, you may have already winterized your entire house! When focusing on your windows, there are a number of ways to block the cold winds of winter.

  • Re-caulking
  • Adding weather stripping
  • Covering the windows with a see-through plastic for added insulation

Notorious for energy loss

If you live in an older home, odds are that your windows aren’t nearly as energy-efficient as they could be. Even if your home is newer, though, advances in technology continue to increase the amount of energy efficiency that new windows provide a home.

Always check the EnergyStar rating to help you determine which windows are best equipped for your climate zone.

It’s fair to say that hanging plastic and other routine maintenance help reduce the chill in the air, but replacing your windows will make a much larger impact. You’ll feel the difference in your comfort level and lower your bills in the process also!

“Statistics show that homeowners can experience up to 30% energy loss through their windows. You may be surprised to learn that even if you replaced your windows as little as 10 years ago, you could be experiencing substantial energy loss as well. Replacing your windows can lower your energy costs by as much as 15% and some homeowners have reported seeing up to 30% reduction in usage.” explained Randy Reece, CEO of Reece Builders / Windows.

However, many homeowners across the nation, especially those that live in areas prone to hurricanes or tornadoes, don’t place energy efficiency at the top of their list of reasons why replacement windows are a worthy investment.

Outclassing ordinary

In addition to the fact that your old windows probably aren’t as energy-efficient as they should be, are they made of ordinary glass? If so, they’ll undoubtedly crack or even shatter when anything strikes them with a degree of force.

Homeowners today are looking at the added storm protection that impact windows provide their home and families. Instead of normal glass, impact windows contain tempered glass. It’s a bit stronger than ordinary glass, but that’s not the main reason that this glass is used. While undergoing the rapid heating and cooling process to temper the glass, the molecular make-up changes causing it to break differently. So, rather than cracking and splintering into piercing shards, the glass crumbles into tiny rounded pellets.

Now, we understand that if storm debris is hitting your windows, odds are that the winds packing it are pretty intense. Even glass pellets can do some major damage and cause serious injury when hurled through the air by the high winds associated with hurricanes or if there is a tornado on the ground nearby. Impact windows don’t fly apart because there is something between the panes absorbing the force of impact and holding the glass in place. Usually, a sheet of high-tech polymer adheres to the glass panes.

The reinforcement agent also plays a part in the increased energy efficiency that these windows provide. Inspectors rate Impact windows for both storm resistance and energy efficiency.

If you have wet winters…

You’ll want to make sure your windows don’t let moisture begin to seep into your windows. Granted, it takes a while, but over time moisture problems left unattended only get worse. It allows mold and wood rot to set in and once it does, it continues to spread throughout the interior framing of your home.

Mold causes serious health issues and they only grow worse with prolonged exposure. If your windows show signs of moisture damage or you discover mold growth, it’s wise to have a professional inspection done to assess the situation.

“Many buyers request a home inspection before they finalize the purchase. They often specify that mold is included in their pre-inspection requirements. Removal can get costly if it’s been in the home for an undetermined length of time. It’s not something new homeowners want to discover after the fact.” said JoshuaSilva, CEO of the Silva Group.

We get that.

If mold is discovered during those inspections, the seller is probably wishing they’d known about the issue long before that point. Mold is nothing to mess around with and discovering it early on will benefit your entire family.

Other benefits to check off the list

You probably weren’t aware there was a list, however, impact windows offer so much year-round value, we compiled a list so we wouldn’t leave anything out. There’s a lot more to these windows than blocking the cold and resisting the debris that hits them during severe storms.

They deter would-be intruders from gaining access to your home too. Think about it. A thief isn’t likely to stick around after their first attempt at smashing your window comes to an abrupt and whiplash-inducing—we hope!—halt when your windows don’t give way.

The protection doesn’t end there

Impact windows block over 90% of the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays. That means you’ll never have to worry about sun fade ruining furniture and carpets.

Furthermore, noise reduction is a benefit that most homeowners don’t begin to value until they experience it for themselves. We become desensitized to our surroundings over time. You might not realize just how noisy your neighborhood is until it isn’t any longer!

A worthwhile investment

Preparing your home to better withstand the onslaught of the cold winter months isn’t difficult. Investing the time to complete some basic home maintenance tasks now will keep you and your family warmer this winter.

In addition, considering window replacement is an option worth considering as well.

No matter which benefits you’re considering, installing impact windows is a win-win all around. You’re bound to experience a more comfortable environment as you spend time inside over the winter. Moreover, you’ll find beating the heat during the summer more enjoyable too. Both your furnace and air conditioner will catch a break and you’ll be using less energy.

Whether you decide to winterize your windows or your brand new replacement windows stand strong against the season’s storms, making sure your windows aren’t left exposed to the elements maintains its structural integrity.

And…

It’s a lot more enjoyable to break out the popcorn and snuggle under a blanket to watch a movie with your family on a cold winter’s day than to be under a blanket cowering from the cold all winter long.

For more great house maintenance tips, check out the other blogs on Check This House.

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Best Replacement Glass Strategies- How to Replace Insulated Glass https://www.checkthishouse.com/8466/how-to-replace-insulated-glass.html Tue, 05 Nov 2019 23:43:14 +0000 https://www.checkthishouse.com/?p=8466 woman sitting with a cup of coffee next to sunny window at homeImagine being at home on a chilly day. You are wearing your warmest clothes, but the cold air inside your home hits your skin like needles. Sunlight shines through the single glass window, and yet, the room is still cold. To ensure that your home is insulated and prepared for winter or summer, you should ... Read more]]> woman sitting with a cup of coffee next to sunny window at home

Imagine being at home on a chilly day. You are wearing your warmest clothes, but the cold air inside your home hits your skin like needles. Sunlight shines through the single glass window, and yet, the room is still cold.

To ensure that your home is insulated and prepared for winter or summer, you should consider installing double glazed window panes, or rather, insulated glass units right away.

What is Double Insulated Glass?

cross section of insulated glass

Insulated glass prevents the inflow and outflow of heat from your home, office, studio or building. Several pieces of glass are separated by placing separators between them.
Made up of metal, structural foam, or aluminum, these spacers keep the glass panes in place. Most of the time, this empty space might be filled with a noble gas such as krypton or argon. Usually abbreviated as IG, insulated glass provides various benefits to your space.

What is an Insulated Glass Unit?

cross section of insulated glass unit

When multiple components are assembled together, they make up an insulated glass unit that you can install in your home windows. These critical parts include several pieces of glass, spacers and, noble gas. Together, this IGU (Insulating Glass Unit) is set in place to allow your space to maintain the temperature inside.

What are the Benefits of Insulated Glass Units?

From among the various window material and design options available, why should you opt for insulated glass? Let’s learn.

1. Improved insulation

infographic of energy flowing through windows

Initially, double glazing was introduced so it could insulate homes and regulate the temperature inside. Hence, they act as barriers and minimize the heat coming into your space. So, you can keep the humidity out in hot seasons and trap it in during the colder days. With double glazed windows, you can start enjoying cooler summers and warmer winters.

2. Reduction in external noise

infographic of noise reduction through windows

Do you live in a busy neighborhood, let’s say, near the market? Is there a lot of noise, especially when you are trying to enjoy a quiet evening by the window? Double glazed window panes will ensure that your space is protected from all noises, and the environment is peaceful. Similarly, no noise will leave the room either.

3. Better security

Double glazed windows are also effective in keeping the potential burglars at bay since these windows are not easy to break. You can also improve security by getting an IGU that uses toughened or laminated glass. So lay back and enjoy being alone in your home or studio without being afraid of any break-ins.

4. Lower energy bills

infographic of double pane versus triple pane windows cost efficiency

Perhaps the best selling point of insulated glass is that it restricts the heat leaving or entering your space. With heat trapped inside in winters, you can turn down your heater. Similarly, with no heat being allowed to enter, you can keep the air conditioning to a minimal. This allows you to consume less energy and pay bills of smaller amounts.

5. Added property value

Because installing an IGU makes your home more energy conservative and comfortable, potential buyers will be more attracted to it. It will also increase the value of your home.

6. Minimized interior damage

If you have had single-glazed windows, you may have noticed that furniture placed near the windows were probably damaged by sunlight. The UV radiation can cause your belongings to deteriorate and fade over time. However, that is not something that you have to worry about with double glazed windows. Why? Because they act as a shield and prevent most of the sunlight from entering your home or office.

For further protection, you can even add a UV window film to the IGU.

7. Environment-friendly

infographic of visible light solar gain and heat

The fact that double glazed window panes help consume energy and reduce its wastage makes them an Eco-friendly solution. So, they help you to reduce the impact they have on the environment.

8. Reduced condensation

If you previously had a single glazed window open, did you ever see water droplets appearing on it? Did you wonder why they appeared? When the air inside the house is hotter than the windows, these droplets form, which then condenses on the window panes. Though it does not sound like a big deal, condensation can cause harm in the long run. The constant appearance of these droplets can lead to mildew and mold that can consequently lead to health issues.

The humidity may also damage your wooden window frames, causing them to rot. With double glazed windows, you will not have to waste money on repairs as a result of water damage.

9. Easy to maintain

The only maintenance with double glazed windows is to wipe off the few water droplets appearing on them. You do not need to spend hours wiping them down with hardcore cleaning materials.

10. Aesthetically pleasing

With the advancement in technology, you now have a massive variety of glass and colors to choose from, especially for IGU. This will automatically enhance the beauty of your home.

What are the Required Tools and Materials Needed to Replace the Insulated Glass Window?

Like any other piece of furniture made up of glass, your windows can run the risk of breaking. As soon as you notice cracks in your double glass window, replace it right away to retain the optimal temperature.

Before you can begin with glass replacement, you will need a caulk gun, hammer, dust mask, and a cordless drill. For everything to go smoothly, you would also need a putty and utility knife with a 4-in-1 screwdriver and pry bar. For your safety, wear goggles and gloves once you start handling the tools.

Materials necessary for window glass replacement are silicone, glass setting tape, and of course, a brand new insulating glass unit.

How to Replace the Insulated Glass?

There are three main methods that you can use to replace the glass.

1. Gasket seal method

The name is given because the edges of the window panes will be wrapped in a single-molded neoprene or vinyl gasket. You will hold the frame together with the help of a total of four screws, one in each corner. The grooves present in the frame will hold your window in place. The sashes that you assemble using this method can easily be taken apart and reassembled when needed.

Follow the steps below to replace insulated glass using this method.

  • First, you need to remove the screws that are holding two of the diagonally opposite corners. Do not unscrew the other two corners so that you can reassemble with ease later.
  • Next, separate the gasket from the glass with the help of a hammer or a wooden block. Ensure that you do not accidentally end up damaging the frame. It is advised that you use a piece of discarded carpeting if necessary.
  • Now what you need to do is to wrap the old gasket around the edges of your new IGU. Then, using a hammer, tape the pieces of the frame back together.
  • Lastly, to keep water out of the panes, seal the open areas with just a dab of neutral-cure silicone. Voila! You are done with glass replacement using the gasket seal method.

2. Adhesive tape seal

You will often find windows sealed with double-sided adhesive tape. The tape is only 1/8 or 1/16 inches. So, there is enough room for you to slip in your thin-blade knife and slice through it.
The following steps will make your work easy and assist you in applying this method.

  • The first and foremost thing to do is to use a thin pry bar to remove the stops. You may also use a putty knife with a thin blade. Work your way from top to bottom in an orderly fashion.
    Then, as aforementioned, neatly slice through the tape using a thin-blade knife.
  • Next, scrape off all the old adhesive and tape. If some of it is stuck, use a solvent or paint thinner to remove it. Now lay the brand new tape in place.
  • Carefully evaluate the position where you want the glass to be and drop it there. Ensure that it’s placed with great caution because once it touches the adhesive, it cannot be readjusted. To place it accurately, have someone keep the frame steady while you set the bottom and top edges accordingly. Once in the glass, replace the old stops and use the caulk seal to close off any gaps in the corners.

3. Caulk seal method

Caulk seal is basically a fancy word for glue because virtually, the pieces of glass caulked together are actually glued. There is a stop holding the glass in place, so it may be difficult to use a knife to cut. You will probably have to smash the window and then pry the glass out, one piece at a time.

The steps stated below will guide you about what to do.

  • Using a stiff and firm putty knife or a thin pry bar, remove the stops carefully. Ensure that you do not damage the frame in the process.
  • Turn the window over and try to work your way through the caulk with the help of a utility knife. Often, a weak caulk will come free. All the other times, to remove the caulk, you may have to break the glass.
    Flip the window again and fully cover it with cardboard. Hammer in hand, smash it near the frame. Ensure that you are wearing a dust mask, leather gloves and goggles for your safety.
  • Next, one piece of glass at a time, pry it out. If the frame starts to chip or crack, soften the adhesive with a heat gun. Clear the edges and scrape the remaining pieces off of it. Your work station must be padded and cleaned throughout this process so that the surface of the frames remains intact.
  • In the end, before you drop the glass onto the frame, apply a little bit of neutral-cure silicone to it. Blocks must be appropriately positioned before you use a bead of caulk to the back of the stops and fix them. Let the entire caulk dry before you scrape the excess off with a razor-sharp scraper.

How to Remove Window Sashes?

If damage to the windowpane is minimal, you may not have to go through the entire process of glass replacement. Instead, you can simply fix it. Most of the time, you will notice that such glass sashes can be removed with ease. On the other hand, stationary sashes may be a little more difficult to get rid of. They will need to be fixed where they are. Mentioned below are three sashes that can be opened. By following the instructions, you can learn how to repair them.

1. Double-hung windows

Insulated glass windows that slide can do so because of vinyl jamb liners. If you want to take out the sash, push the liners down slightly and take out the uppermost part. To release the counterweighted springs from one side connected to the bottom, twist the sash. To put it back in place, insert the bottom first and repeat the procedure only this time, in reverse.

2. Casement windows

If your windows are hinged on a single side and swing outside, are called casement windows. The release catches on the swing arms need to be taken apart. If you are having a hard time figuring them out, then unscrew the top and bottom arms to separate the sash. Have someone assist you by holding the window in place while you unscrew the entire thing.

3. Slider windows

If the windows installed in your space slide from side to side, then they are called slider windows. They can easily be removed if you just lift the sash and swing the bottom out. If there are already nails in place, use side-cutting pliers to cut or a simple hacksaw to remove them.

If you are handy and experienced, it will not be challenging for you to follow these simple instructions. They will not take too much of your energy or time and assist you with glass replacement or repair.

For more great tips around the home, check out the other blogs on Check This House.

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What Does a Home Warranty Cover? https://www.checkthishouse.com/8459/what-does-home-warranty-cover.html Fri, 25 Oct 2019 20:39:13 +0000 https://www.checkthishouse.com/?p=8459 Happy couple holding keys to new home and house miniature - real estate conceptWhat is a Home Warranty? A home warranty is a service contract that helps homeowners cover the cost of replacement or repairs to home systems and major appliances. These policies offer a smart way to protect yourself from the unexpected expenses that come with homeownership. Benefits of a Warranty There are many reasons why you ... Read more]]> Happy couple holding keys to new home and house miniature - real estate concept

What is a Home Warranty?

A home warranty is a service contract that helps homeowners cover the cost of replacement or repairs to home systems and major appliances. These policies offer a smart way to protect yourself from the unexpected expenses that come with homeownership.

Benefits of a Warranty

There are many reasons why you should consider getting a policy to cover incidentals in your house.

1. Save Money

Homeowners who have their air conditioning unit fail may have to pay thousands of dollars out of pocket to get it repaired. By having a home warranty in place that covers the air conditioning system and HVAC unit, the cost of these repairs will fall on the home warranty company.

2. Choose Your Own Coverage

They can choose a policy that best fits their needs and pay a small monthly fee to their home warranty company. In return, when a problem arises that is under warranty, this cost is covered by the home warranty company.

3. Reputable Repair Services

There is no need to find your own repair companies either, as you’ll have all the resources needed available to you through your home warranty company. Home warranty companies have standing business relationships with third-party providers in all different areas of expertise including:

  • Plumbers
  • Electricians
  • Pool/spa professionals
  • Appliance repair

4. Service Calls Schedule For You

Your home warranty company will arrange for an appropriate service technician to come to your home. They will diagnose the problem and the home warranty company will cover the cost for repairs or replacement. As long as it’s covered under the plan, you’ll only need to pay your deductible.

Repairs covered under the plan are based on the coverage you choose and will be outlined in the contractual agreement with your home warranty company.

What Does a Home Warranty Cover?

It is important to note that not all home warranties are the same. Home warranty companies offer different levels of coverage based on the homeowner’s needs. For example, you would not need a warranty that covers a pool and spa system if your home does not have one.

With that in mind, it is important to evaluate the needs of your home and the life expectancy of the systems and appliances within it. This can help to give you a good idea of what you are looking for in terms of a home warranty plan.

Each home warranty plan will come with a detailed service contract agreement. The service contract will have a very specific list of what it does and does not cover, plus any deductibles and cap limits on coverage.

Repairs That Might Be Covered

A home warranty can cover many repairs and maintenance concerns you have with your home. It can cover major systems like:

  • Air conditioning and heating
  • HVAC
  • Electrical
  • Pool
  • Septic

It can also cover the repairs or replacement of appliances such as the:

  • Refrigerator
  • Dishwasher
  • Oven
  • Washer
  • Dryer

There are many types of home warranty coverage plans. You decide what type of coverage fits your needs and budget the best.

How do You Get a Policy?

Homeowners can get a home warranty policy at any time. Most times there is no need for a home inspection or maintenance records. Securing your home warranty can be done easily from the comfort of your home by computer or phone. Many home warranty companies offer online quotes and multiple coverage option plans that you can compare and contrast online.

How Long is The Warranty Good For?

Most home warranties are contracted for one to two years. At the end of your contractual agreement, you can decide to cancel your service, adjust your coverage options or sign up for another year to continue your coverage.

Who Should Get a Home Warranty?

All homeowners are encouraged to have a home warranty or an emergency fund of at least 1% of the price of your home for the unexpected repairs that often arise. Depending on your current situation a home warranty may be the best option to protect yourself from spending thousands of dollars on an essential system repair to your home.

In addition, if you are buying or selling a home, a home warranty offers an excellent incentive to both the buyer and seller. A buyer who is purchasing a home with an included 1 year home warranty may feel protected against any unseen or undetected issues. On the other hand, the seller who has a home warranty in place is relieved of any buyer issues or complaints after the sale of the home has been completed.

For more great home tips, check out the other blogs on Check This House!

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10 Best Tips To Decorate Your Living Room in 2019 https://www.checkthishouse.com/8450/10-best-tips-to-decorate-your-living-room-in-2019.html Thu, 25 Jul 2019 15:55:35 +0000 https://www.checkthishouse.com/?p=8450 If the kitchen is the ‘stomach’ of the house, then the living room is definitely the heart of the house. We do everything in it- welcome visitors with a bottle of wine, pull out a book on a lazy Sunday, take a nap on cool Saturday and a host of other activities are carried out ... Read more]]>

If the kitchen is the ‘stomach’ of the house, then the living room is definitely the heart of the house. We do everything in it- welcome visitors with a bottle of wine, pull out a book on a lazy Sunday, take a nap on cool Saturday and a host of other activities are carried out here. So, we wouldn’t want it to look deserted and unattended to. That’s why we decorate it; to give it a little a spark that could light up the whole house.

Here, we have brought together tips you should look out for when decorating your living room:

Dangle Modern Artwork

Artwork has a way of bringing this ‘spark’ into your living room. Something peculiar about artwork is it’s durability. If you are looking for a timeless decoration that you can perhaps pass to your children: try artwork.

Remember to buy throw pillows with perhaps, the same colors as the artwork- just for cohesion sake. This has a way of improving the general appeal of the room.

Fireplace Decorations

Though this is an ancient decoration, it is timeless. Fireplaces do not only serve as sources of warmth, especially for people living in the cold regions of the world but as a means of improving the style of your living room. Not to say that if you are in places close to deserts- which are known for being too hot, you cannot use a fireplace. Your fireplace doesn’t have to be a raging fire; it could be an electric fireplace.

Bring On Marbles

Marbles, although, a little expensive have a way of arousing visual interest where they are attached to. Imagine having them on your floor, tiles, walls and a host of other places in your living room.

Light It Up

In this regard, most living rooms are just as well-decorated as they ought to be. But, how can you bring out the glam in these decorations when you have poor lighting? Take time to choose proper lighting material; especially a conspicuous metal one- if you want to decorate your living room

Living Room Mattress

Calm down. I don’t mean you should turn your living room into a bedroom for the sake of decoration. But, going out of the box would do no harm right? You know all those magazines and old books that seem to just be all over the house, you can store them under your mattress. Your mattress doesn’t have to look like one- camouflage them using toppers.

Good Spacing

Tell me: Of what use would it be if your living room is claustrophobic and choked up? This cannot be understated –  before you even start any decoration, take time to properly arrange the furniture in such a way that allows for adequate spacing.

Stylish Flooring

Decide whether you want rugs or carpets. Choose any of them, but just make sure your flooring makes a bold design statement. Your flooring should also be also one which gives comfort underfoot.

Design The Media Center

How you do this should match your tastes. If you are a person who loves reading, incorporating a built-in bookshelf could give you thumbs up. Also, if your living room serves the purpose of a family room, watching television might as well be the purpose of the room. Make the television design a feature but not too dominant

Walls and Ceiling Color

Your walls have a way of shouting out to visitors your fashion sense; so choose to go with paints or wall coverings that reflect your style. Also, make sure the color of the paints at least close to if not the same color as the throw pillows- to improve the overall appeal.

Set The Mood

The overall ambiance you want to give off as soon as anyone enters into your house would determine how you set the mood in your living room. Candles, scents, or even a simple rearrangement of furniture will do the trick!

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Home Maintenance Tips for Selling Your Home https://www.checkthishouse.com/8446/home-maintenance-tips-for-selling-your-home.html Wed, 17 Jul 2019 03:42:09 +0000 https://www.checkthishouse.com/?p=8446 If you just purchased your first starter home or an investment property and plan to eventually sell it, maintaining the home for resale is essential. If you’re not part of a Homeowners’ Association program, you’ll need to take care of all of the maintenance yourself, but it will pay off in the long run. As ... Read more]]>

If you just purchased your first starter home or an investment property and plan to eventually sell it, maintaining the home for resale is essential. If you’re not part of a Homeowners’ Association program, you’ll need to take care of all of the maintenance yourself, but it will pay off in the long run.

As it has in many cities, the cost of real estate in Phoenix, for example, has increased by more than 7% over the past year. The market is expected to continue rising by up to 5% next year, as the Home Buying Institute (HBI) reports

These tips can help you protect your investment to reap the highest possible resale value.

Regularly Check for Termites

Check your home for termites regularly. These tiny creatures can destroy your home’s foundation and wooden structures such as decks or overhangs. Since termites survive only in dark places, you’re most likely find them in your basement.

Make sure there are no gaps in your basement structure and, again, check for them regularly. Use a flashlight to inspect the wood. If there are any signs of them, such as rotting, contact a professional to get the situation under control before it gets worse or spreads to other parts of your home.

Gutters

Check your gutters regularly for water and debris like leaves. Clean them at least seasonally, seal leaks, and repair any loose or drooping gutters to save the cost of having to replace them and avoid further damage to your roof.

Air Filters

Replacing or repairing an HVAC system, depending on the issue, can cost up $6,000. Save yourself the money by maintaining it and keeping your air filter clean. The filter helps keep it running properly, can save you money on your energy bill, and maintain better air quality in your home.

Plumbing

Keep up your pipes in good shape by avoiding clogs or any other major damage. Don’t use chemical pipe cleaners. Harsh chemicals can damage your pipes, especially in older homes.  Avoid putting oils and fats down the kitchen sink. Clean your bathroom sink and bathtub drain regularly too, using a snake if necessary, as backups due to hair are common.

Maintain Your Curb Appeal

Repainting the entire exterior of your home can be very expensive, but it may be necessary to maintain curb appeal, essential when putting your home up for sale. You might be able to avoid that high cost by power-washing the outside of your home and touching up any areas of paint that may have faded or chipped.

Keep your lawn looking great by mowing and watering regularly, pulling weeds, and adding grass seed where necessary. If you live in a drought area, consider landscaping with artificial turf or decorative rock.

Hiring a professional gardener may be worth the cost if you struggle in this area or are limited on time, and it’s often relatively inexpensive too.

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How Do You Know if Your Tile is Weeping? https://www.checkthishouse.com/8424/how-do-you-know-if-your-tile-is-weeping.html Fri, 28 Jun 2019 19:17:26 +0000 https://www.checkthishouse.com/?p=8424 Weeping tile may sound like a sad state but, the truth is, you want your weeping tile to weep. Weeping tile is an integral part of your home’s structure and is important in ensuring that your basement stays dry and your foundation maintains a crack-free form. Once you know what weeping tile is, where to ... Read more]]>

Weeping tile may sound like a sad state but, the truth is, you want your weeping tile to weep. Weeping tile is an integral part of your home’s structure and is important in ensuring that your basement stays dry and your foundation maintains a crack-free form.

Once you know what weeping tile is, where to find it and whether or not your home has it, you can easily verify if it is working and keep it well maintained.

What is Weeping Tile?

Weeping tile consists of 6 inch pipes with several small holes that discharge underground water from around the perimeter of your home or from your basement.

Does My Home Have Weeping Tile?

Most homes built prior to the 1960’s do not have a weeping tile drainage system. Before the 1980’s, these systems were made of clay-based materials.

To find out if your home has weeping tile, look in the catch basin (basement floor drain) or sump pump pit. If you have a weeping tile drainage system, you will see a series of 6 inch pipes coming from different directions under the floor.

In older homes, you may see a piping system with larger pipes. These are not weeping tile; these older style drainage systems drain water from the eaves of the house directly to the basement.

How to Tell if Your Weeping Tile is Plugged

Sometimes the weeping tile of your home can become plugged and cause issues such as foundation cracks, water leaks and mold.

Here are some signs you can look for that may indicate a plugged weeping tile system:

  • Cracks in the foundation.

Check the foundation in your basement or crawlspace for horizontal, vertical or diagonal cracks. These cracks could be as thin as a hairline crack or larger. The force of water pooling against the foundation can cause it to crack.

Do a visual check of your basement or crawlspace for small areas of dampness or pools of water. Look closely around windows and on the floor.

  • Unusual odors.

If you notice a musty of damp smell in your basement or crawlspace, there could be mold or mildew caused by moisture. Pay close attention to joists, walls and flooring. Signs of mold and mildew include stained or peeling drywall, paint or paneling as well as lifted flooring.

  • Empty sump pump pit.

There should always be some water at the bottom of your sump pump pit. If your pit is not filling with water, this is a sign that the weeping tile is plugged.

  • Pooling water around exterior.

Next time it rains, check the outside perimeter of your home. Look for pools of water on the soil around the house.

Testing Your Weeping Tile Drainage System

You can test the efficiency of your weeping tile by running a garden hose near the exterior foundation wall or window well, turning it on and letting it run. Make sure the water is not running directly against the house.

Watch your sump pump pit. If the weeping tile is working, water should be carried by the weeping tile to the sump pump pit.

Weeping Tile Maintenance

There are maintenance steps you can take to ensure that your weeping tile works properly:

  • Keep your gutters clear of leaves and debris and redirect the spouts away from your home.
  • Clean out window wells and consider covering them to keep water out completely.
  • Maintain proper operation of your sump pump.
  • Keep sinks and toilets free of clogs.

You can also clean out your weeping tile:

  • Wedge a large plunger into the sewer floor drain in your basement or crawlspace.
  • Connect a garden hose to an indoor faucet and fill the catch basin and weeping tile with water and liquid soap (any dish soap works). Be sure not to overflow.
  • Leave for 30 minutes.
  • Pull out the plunger.
  • Repeat several times.
  • Rinse out the soap residue.

Weeping Tile Repair and Replacement

A weeping tile drainage system can be repaired or replaced if damaged. If you own an older home, weeping tile can be installed if it doesn’t currently exist.

Cost depends entirely on the age of the home, the depth of the excavation and the types of soil surrounding the weeping tile.

If you are looking to have work done on your weeping tiles, or having a drainage system installed, it is recommended you contact a specialist to evaluate your weeping tile needs.

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What to Look for in a Maintenance Employee https://www.checkthishouse.com/8414/what-to-look-for-in-a-maintenance-employee.html Sun, 23 Jun 2019 20:44:19 +0000 https://www.checkthishouse.com/?p=8414 When you’re in the business of property management, there’s always something in need of repair. Busted plumbing, bad electrical, improper heating or air conditioning. All of these things can escalate if you don’t have a knowledgeable maintenance guy on-call or on-site to address the issue immediately. Left untreated, a leaky pipe can turn into a ... Read more]]>

When you’re in the business of property management, there’s always something in need of repair. Busted plumbing, bad electrical, improper heating or air conditioning. All of these things can escalate if you don’t have a knowledgeable maintenance guy on-call or on-site to address the issue immediately. Left untreated, a leaky pipe can turn into a busted pipe, leaving you with flooded rooms, angry tenants, and a bill in the thousands.

Success in the property management business demands hiring the right maintenance employee. But how? Follow these steps.

Look for a Handyman

You can’t afford to hire a specialist for every little issue, a plumber for clogged toilets, an electrician for faulty lighting, etc. There are simply too many small miscellaneous problems that regularly crop up to be hiring a tradesman in that specific field. You’d wind up putting these specialists’ kids through college! No, what you need is someone who can do a bit of everything—a jack-of-all-trades.

Consider all the possible duties a maintenance employee might have for a moderately-sized apartment complex:

  • Routine inspections of the grounds and equipment
  • Basic repairs and maintenance
  • Preventative maintenance

To earn his keep, your maintenance employee needs to be able to at least handle the basics, from performing small repairs and upkeep, to dealing with larger issues. Ideally, seek out a handyman who’s at least spent a bit of time in all the various trades. That said, also look for someone who is humble enough to recognize the limits of their skill set and knows when it’s time to call in a professional tradesman.

Do You Need Someone On-Call or On-Site?

It’s wise to ask whether you need a full-time property manager who works on-site, or a person or team who’s on-call. To find an answer, try and gauge how regularly you’ll need help.

How many units do you have? Do they need to clean units in addition to repair? Will you need one maintenance guy, or a team? There are so many things you’ll have to consider. In CA and NY, a live-in property manager is required if you have a certain number of units.

Consider the pros and cons of each route:

  • On-Call
    • Pros: This route cuts down on paperwork. Also, all spending on repairs is tax-deductible.
    • Cons: Higher wait time between the problem and repair. You may also have to use a service, which means several workers of varying quality and less ability to screen them.
  • On-Site
    • Pros: The moment an issue crops up, they’re on it.
    • Cons: You have to pay more and set up a compensation plan since they’re full-time.

Whatever you decide, remember to have cash on hand to bring in an expert for repairs that surpasses your maintenance employee’s abilities.

Have them Take a Test

You don’t know a wrench from a screwdriver, so how can you tell whether or not your handyman actually knows what he’s doing? Give him a test. For $50, the National Center for Housing Management (NCHM) offers the Maintenance Technical Aptitude Test (MTAT).

According to NCHM, this 50-question test measures “knowledge of key concepts, terminology, and methods common to multifamily housing maintenance. The test is intended for use as one part of a comprehensive process of assessing skills, knowledge, experience and attitudes.”

Test categories include:

  • Appliance repair
  • Decorating and painting
  • Electrical, plumbing and HVAC
  • Exterior maintenance
  • General carpentry
  • General repairs and work methods
  • Safety
  • Tools and equipment

That is a relatively small cost to pay if it grants you confidence in your employee.  

Perform a Background Check

Once you think you’ve located the right maintenance employee, you’ll have to request that they consent to a background check. Using employment screening solutions allow you to dig into a person’s past, checking for criminality and confirming prior work experience. This action protects you from liability and ensures the safety of your tenants and employees.

Start Hiring

Hiring the wrong maintenance employee could potentially break your rental property. Look for someone who has a history of reliable work and that’s capable of doing a bit of everything. Don’t just hire the first handyman you find. Hire the right one!  

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5 Upgrade Ideas for Your Rental Property https://www.checkthishouse.com/8398/5-upgrade-ideas-for-your-rental-property.html Thu, 16 May 2019 19:39:53 +0000 https://www.checkthishouse.com/?p=8398 If you own a rental property, it’s important that you make big upgrades once or twice per year. The only way you’re going to make money as a rental property owner is if you have tenants constantly occupying the place. But if your property is run-down or has notable deficiencies, you might have a more ... Read more]]>

If you own a rental property, it’s important that you make big upgrades once or twice per year. The only way you’re going to make money as a rental property owner is if you have tenants constantly occupying the place. But if your property is run-down or has notable deficiencies, you might have a more difficult time attracting tenants.

But even if you have a terrific property, there’s always more you can do to make improvements—after all, the better your property, the higher rent you’ll be able to charge. So here are 5 great upgrade ideas for your rental property.

#1: Remodel the Kitchen

The kitchen is undoubtedly one of the most important rooms to upgrade. We don’t live in the Victorian Era anymore, where many kitchens were essentially relegated to an outdoor box. In this day and age, kitchens need to be one of the most extravagant places in the home. Remember, this is where your tenants will have some of their fondest memories. It’s where holiday dinners will be cooked, where wine bottles will be popped open, and where your tenants will cook meals every evening. Nothing draws tenants better than a nice kitchen.

First, do a kitchen inspection and figure out which things need the most work done. Do you need revamped plumbing? A better refrigerator? New countertops? Find areas where you can make both cosmetic and functional upgrades.

New kitchen sink plumbing is probably the most important functional upgrade. But if the kitchen workspace is a little small, consider buying a rolling kitchen island (which is an incredibly effective, yet budget-friendly addition). So far as cosmetics are concerned, consider installing brand new glossy granite countertops and new tile flooring.

#2: New Payment and Request System

Your landlord responsibilities include collecting rent and responding to your tenants’ maintenance requests. Most people nowadays have access to the Internet, so why not bring your landlord duties into the Internet era, too? Consider using an online rent payment and maintenance request platform.

Both you and your tenants can benefit from this addition. First, you won’t have to field phone calls from your tenants about maintenance issues. Your tenants can easily submit a request online to alert you of any issues on the property. Second, you won’t have to worry about collecting a physical check, and you won’t have to go to the bank to deposit it. Instead, your tenants will be able to make online payments with their credit cards. Rent payments will be deposited into your account much faster than through the check method.

#3: Revamp the Attic

Lots of rental property owners forget entirely about the attic. For most owners, the attic is a dark and dusty place that’s better used for storage. But there are lots of ways you can improve the attic of your home and make it useful.

You can improve the heat circulation in your home by installing the furnace in the attic rather than the basement. You could even turn the attic into a fun hangout space. Lay down a carpet, add some better ventilation, brighten up the walls and sweep up the dust. Then, add some lighting equipment and some cozy furniture. When the attic becomes a habitable hangout room, it’s less likely the place will get infested by pests—and your tenants will enjoy the added amenity!

#4: Prep for the Winter

If your rental property is located in a very cold area, consider making upgrades that make it warmer during the cold weather months. One of the most effective things you can do is to get a new water heater if your current one is outdated. Old water heaters take a longer time to get water heated, which is annoying for your tenants and which could cost you a lot of money. If you don’t have the budget to get a brand new water heater, consider doing maintenance on your current heater.

You might also consider installing baseboard heaters in the home.

#5: Install New Alarms

One of the most important upgrades you can make is to install the newest, top-of-the-line alarm systems in the home. Your property should have smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. Many properties have these alarms, but they’re installed in inefficient locations. Learn where to install alarms, and re-install them in better locations of the home if need be.

You should also consider installing a home security system at your property to deter break-ins. Your tenants will feel much safer on the property, and you could charge a slightly higher rent cover the costs.

Whether your rental property is in dire needs of modern upgrades, or if you’re just trying to enable yourself to charge higher rent, these 5 upgrades are sure to be appreciated by your tenants.

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Don’t Forget Landscape Maintenance on Your Winter To-do List https://www.checkthishouse.com/8357/dont-forget-landscape-maintenance-on-your-winter-to-do-list.html Tue, 15 Jan 2019 17:40:48 +0000 https://www.checkthishouse.com/?p=8357 Your home is probably the most important investment you have, and you know that all of its parts and systems have to be maintained on a regular basis to keep things humming. But while you’re up-to-date on what your house needs, have you given enough thought to keeping the landscape that frames it in top ... Read more]]>

Your home is probably the most important investment you have, and you know that all of its parts and systems have to be maintained on a regular basis to keep things humming. But while you’re up-to-date on what your house needs, have you given enough thought to keeping the landscape that frames it in top condition?

Trees, flowering plants and a lush green carpet of grass are not only beautiful to live with, but they are an asset to your neighborhood and to the value of your home. What’s more, all growing things help the environment by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen as well as trapping and and breaking down pollutants to purify the air.

Just like taking care of your house itself, it takes some planning and work to keep your landscape thriving and healthy. That means there are chores to do in every season of the year. And yes, that does mean in winter (not just the fall) you need to do the following tasks:

Take Care of Your Lawn

If your lawn is covered with snow, there’s not much to do but periodically inspect the area and remove debris and any fallen branches. But avoid routinely walking on the lawn, and by no means ever drive or park on it because any pressure on frozen lawns can kill turfgrass crowns as well as compact the soil, leaving you with bare spots and drainage problems you’ll have to rectify later.

If you’re in a more moderate climate or when there’s a thaw or a period of fairer weather:

  • Rake. Take the opportunity to clear the lawn of fallen leaves that provide a home for insects and invite disease.
  • Mow. Depending upon where you live, your turf will be dormant or certainly growing more slowly in winter. For example, if you live in the TB area, lawn mowing is more important than if you’re in Fargo, but when you do mow, leave the clippings in place to serve as mulch protecting and adding nutrients to the soil.
  • Water if necessary. Your lawn won’t be able to maintain itself if it doesn’t get an inch of water a week, so make sure you irrigate if the weather doesn’t do it for you. Oddly enough, it’s also important to water before a freeze, so that grass root zones retain enough moisture.

Prune Your Plants and Trees

The ideal time for trimming perennial plants and pruning shrubs, hedges and trees is while they’re in winter dormancy. Roses, hydrangeas and other perennials each have their own rules, so study up before you remove branches that new growth depends on.

Mature trees pose a danger if strong winds and heavy snow break off branches that can harm people and property, but don’t tackle large trees or high branches yourself; it’s worth the money to hire professionals experienced in climbing and using powerful equipment.

You can trim smaller trees yourself. Just never remove more than 25 percent of a tree’s branches while leaving living branches on at least two-thirds of its height. In any case, remove only what’s necessary, like broken, diseased and damaged branches, branches that are crossing each other or growing inward and branches that are taking off in odd directions.

Give Planting Beds Some TLC

If you didn’t get to it in the fall, there’s still time to protect plant roots from bitter temperatures that are still to come as well as to keep roots from sprouting deep in winter. Lay a good layer of mulch around plantings, but take care not to cover the trunks of shrubs and trees because the moisture held by mulch can cause rot.

Get a Head Start on Spring

It’s past time to plant most bulbs, but you can still give it a try if you’re able to dig in the ground. Just plant a little deeper than usual and cover the soil with straw for insulation. You can also plant bulbs in containers. Water them only enough that the soil doesn’t completely dry out. When the weather is warmer, you can transplant them into your garden or simply let them bloom in their pots to add color to your patio or to any room in your home.

Winter is also the time to start vegetable and flower seeds inside, or at the very least, sit by the fire with a stack of nursery catalogs and decide what plants to order for a beautiful summer garden.

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Should You Sell, Throw Out or Fix the Expensive Stuff? https://www.checkthishouse.com/8349/should-you-sell-throw-out-or-fix-the-expensive-stuff.html Wed, 05 Dec 2018 21:56:53 +0000 https://www.checkthishouse.com/?p=8349 Owning big-ticket items like a house and car is a decision not to be taken lightly, mainly because the responsibility of ownership doesn’t end with that initial purchase. When we buy something expensive, we expect it to last for a long time and are not necessarily thinking about future costs associated with repair, replacement and ... Read more]]>

Owning big-ticket items like a house and car is a decision not to be taken lightly, mainly because the responsibility of ownership doesn’t end with that initial purchase.

When we buy something expensive, we expect it to last for a long time and are not necessarily thinking about future costs associated with repair, replacement and maintenance. When something does go wrong, it always seems to happen at the most inopportune time.

The life expectancy of many household appliances is at least 10 years if taken care of properly. Meanwhile, items such as the home’s interior windows should last 20 years or more. Even a car can last 20 years; however, the average age of all cars on the road is 11 years.

It may be difficult to know exactly when to ditch or sell your old appliances, cars and windows. You may want to consider fixing them before getting rid of them. Selling your old appliances can also be a great way to make some extra cash on the side.

Let’s look at how to know whether to sell, toss, or fix some of life’s more expensive necessities and highlight ways to make the selling, fixing and throwing out processes easier.

 

Maintain & Clean Appliances

To make sure you’re getting the most mileage you can out of your appliances, you should schedule regular maintenance checks and cleanings. A dryer is supposed to last a decade or more, but if you aren’t cleaning out the areas that trap lint such as the motor, belt, drum and vent pipe, it may die before its time. Washers and dryers also become unbalanced over time, which can cause the components to fail and be costly to repair. If your washer is rattling and rocking back and forth during a load of laundry, it’s probably unbalanced.

Your first solution should be to fix the problem rather than buy a brand new appliance, especially if it fails before its intended lifecycle is up. Regular maintenance of any appliance can help extend the life of it, but sometimes it may make more financial sense to replace an old appliance rather than repair it. If you aren’t sure about the condition of your appliance, you could always ask a repair technician for advice.   

Be sure to research the lifespans of your appliances and systems and consider purchasing a home warranty plan in case something major breaks down.

 

Sell Your Old Appliances

If you’ve taken good care of your older appliances and simply want to upgrade to newer appliances, you can probably earn money to put toward a new purchase by selling your current appliances if they are in good condition. This is why it pays to properly maintain appliances like your refrigerator, stove, and washer and dryer.

Selling your items online through Craigslist may be your best bet as that’s where bargain hunters are looking to buy large appliances and furniture for themselves or to sell for a higher price. Unless you have a truck or trailer, you’ll have to specify that you want the buyer to pick it up.

If you simply want appliances gone, you may consider hiring a dump truck service if you have heavy loads and want someone else to haul the junk away. But if you really want to make a little extra money, you’ll have to get creative. In addition to Craigslist, you could sell at a garage sale, to a local scrap metal recycling center, or to an appliance reseller.

 

Replacing the Windows

Like our modern appliances, it’s easy to take our home’s windows for granted. Eventually, windows wear out, become drafty and lose their luster. Even if window replacement is not at the top of your priority list, keep in mind that replacing them will help increase the value of your home, make it look nicer, and improve energy efficiency. Other benefits of replacing your windows include better security, more comfort and lower heating and cooling bills.

A standard, double-pane vinyl window will cost about $450-$600, including installation. A wood replacement window runs between $800-$1000 each. Depending on how many windows you need replaced and the size, you could spend a pretty penny.

According to HomeAdvisor, the cost of 10 new replacement windows and installation for a single-story home ranges from $3,000 to $7,000. If the window frame needs replaced, cost of replacement increases anywhere from 50-100 percent, which raises the average cost to $5,000-$40,000.

 

Cars: Sell, Trade, Repair

Other than your home, you probably don’t own anything more expensive than your car. But unlike a home, a car depreciates in value as soon as you buy it.

You may be wondering when is the perfect time to sell, trade in, or repair your used car. A lot of it depends on your current needs and the condition of the car. If the car you have runs perfectly fine and it’s paid for, it wouldn’t make sense to trade it in for a new car unless you have disposable income or want something fancier. If your car is old and beat up, you could still sell it for cash if you know what your “junker” is worth, even if it’s just for parts.

The mileage and age affect the value of the car even if you don’t have repairs to make yet. Cars tend to dip in value after the warranty expires and around the 70,000-mile mark. Around 100,000 miles, the car takes another dip in value and seems to be a symbolic milestone when people either decide to sell it or run it into the ground.

Expensive repairs also need to be taken into consideration. Let’s say you have an old car and the transmission went out but the vehicle is otherwise in good condition. You could either sell the car or rebuild the transmission. If you sell it, you may only receive salvage value for it. If you get the transmission replaced or fixed, you can keep driving it because it’s in good shape otherwise or decide to sell it once it’s fixed.

If your car, home appliances and windows are all perfectly functional and you don’t have the money to buy new things, maybe it makes more sense to pay for repairs until you absolutely need those upgrades in your life.  

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3 Ways To Avoid Large Scale Bathroom Renovations https://www.checkthishouse.com/8331/3-ways-to-avoid-large-scale-bathroom-renovations.html Tue, 20 Nov 2018 19:52:21 +0000 https://www.checkthishouse.com/?p=8331 Well-functioning bathrooms achieve a lot. When they run well and look good, they increase the value of our homes, they keep us safe from things like mold, and they allow us to feel refreshed and at home in our houses. Sometimes, though, our bathrooms themselves are in need of a refresh. As those who own ... Read more]]>

Well-functioning bathrooms achieve a lot. When they run well and look good, they increase the value of our homes, they keep us safe from things like mold, and they allow us to feel refreshed and at home in our houses.

Sometimes, though, our bathrooms themselves are in need of a refresh. As those who own their homes know, one of the costs of home ownership is maintaining your home so that its value remains over the long haul. Keeping bathrooms updated means ensuring that you’re taking care of what you have and you’re making small changes as the needs arise. Doing so is the key to preventing a situation wherein your only option is a major, costly renovation to save your bathroom.

 

Remove Dirt and Grime

Many large problems people run into in their bathroom spaces are the result of small problems that they never addressed. The smaller an issue is, the easier it will be to deal with. Any problem that arises in the bathroom that you put off will not go away, it will simply become more problematic, and more costly on your time and your resources.

Get rid of rust: Both seen and unseen rust is problematic in bathrooms. Removing rust from the likes of toilets and showers ensures unsightly stains don’t make your bathroom look dirtier than it actually is. Rusting pipes in the bathroom left untreated can end up damaging your plumbing.

Kill mold: Not only is mold potentially harmful for individuals, it can also damage the walls and drywall within your home. As soon as you spot mold growth in your bathroom, take the steps to kill it. It’s important to remember with mold that if you can see some, there is likely more lurking where you cannot see. Therefore, it’s valuable to use a squeegee to remove excess moisture after showers, and to keep fans running at least half hour post-shower to ensure proper ventilation.

Clean the fan filter: As Josh Crank writes in his overview of cleaning fan filters out, “Bathroom exhaust fans are among the most underappreciated systems in today’s homes. They’re easy to forget about when it comes to home maintenance, and they can sometimes malfunction without homeowners even noticing. But when they’re used properly and well maintained, they can make any home safer, more energy efficient and fresher-smelling.”

Consistently assessing how the components in your bathroom are fairing and taking the steps needed to keep them well-maintained will serve you and your bathroom well.

 

Replace the Worn Out or Damaged

Given the fact that our bathrooms really operate as an interconnected system, it’s clear that areas in need of replacing aren’t simply isolated issues. Instead, when things are broken or worn down, it’s often the case that those problems will weaken the area as a whole and you’ll end up having to fix more components.

Fix flooring issues: No matter the type of flooring in your bathroom, if there is damage to the floors the inevitable consequence is that you will have water damage, as well. Whether you need to replace hardwood planks or tiles in the floor, the quicker you respond to damage the better off you’ll be.

Reseal grout: While many will tell you that grout should be sealed every year, the reality is that watching your grout for signs of wear is a better, more cost-effective way to judge. When film coatings on top of grout begin to chip, the grout showing underneath is a sign you’ll need to reseal. If your grout has a penetrating sealer, which is clear, you know you need to reseal when the grout begins changing color, because that is a sign air is reaching the grout.

Things will inevitably break and where out, but staying on top of repairs is the difference between a worn out bathroom and a like-new one.

Refresh Where Needed

Sometimes bathroom maintenance isn’t so much a matter of complete replacement or removal, but rather giving some attention to areas that need a relatively straightforward fix. We can easily tune out small imperfections that we see on a day-to-day basis, but not doing that and actively problem-solving will ensure fixes stay small and your bathroom stays pristine.

Stop the leaks: “The average household’s leaks can account for nearly 10,000 gallons of water wasted every year and ten percent of homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons or more per day,” writes the EPA. Leaks waste water and money, and bathrooms leaks a prime culprit. Check your toilet flapper faucet, especially, for leaks.

Deal with cracks and chips: As we’ve noted before, “While cleaning the bathroom or taking a shower; follow the grout lines and look for missing grout, hairline cracks. Pay close attention to the corners and seams – those are the most common areas for the cracks to appear and the grout to become loose.”

If you see an area in need of a little love, give it some, and reap the rewards of bathroom that works they way it should.

When we do home maintenance, we have the power to make many small choices and repairs that ultimately save us from having to make large ones. When you see maintenance that needs to be done, a choice is always made: you either fix it right then or you fix it later. The only difference is usually the time and money spent on it. The longer the problem is allowed to exist, the larger the cost. As in most areas of life, the best home maintenance is that which works smarter, not harder.

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Basic Ways to Prepare Your Home For Winter https://www.checkthishouse.com/8317/basic-ways-to-prepare-your-home-for-winter.html Mon, 22 Oct 2018 18:43:51 +0000 https://www.checkthishouse.com/?p=8317 The cooler months of the year are certainly full of their own distinct charms, but for homeowners they also bring a distinct set of challenges. The precipitation levels increase, cold winds blow, and temperatures drop. Keeping our homes in good working order and ensuring they remain bright and warm doesn’t happen accidentally. Instead, it’s a ... Read more]]>

The cooler months of the year are certainly full of their own distinct charms, but for homeowners they also bring a distinct set of challenges. The precipitation levels increase, cold winds blow, and temperatures drop.

Keeping our homes in good working order and ensuring they remain bright and warm doesn’t happen accidentally. Instead, it’s a matter of planning ahead and preparing for the specific difficulties potentially on the horizon. But, there are relatively straightforward ways homeowners can maintain their homes and create a space that weathers — pun intended — the seasons well, and in doing so promotes health and happiness.

 

Highlight the Sources of Light

Obviously, the primary way to achieve a home that remains warm and welcoming all year is by ensuring you have the appropriate lighting sources. Successfully utilizing your existing natural and artificial light sources is the key to combating less sunlight.

Windows

While it’s more challenging, even in months with less daylight you can take steps to maximize the natural light — and by extension warmth — coming into your home. This is largely a result of creating a support system that will highlight every bit of light.

Make sure they’re well sealed: It is important to make sure your windows are well sealed. This will ensure that the value of the light let in isn’t missed due to loss of heat in your home. In most cases, this will require simple recaulking if your windows aren’t fully sealed.

Reflect the light: When you can, fill your spaces with reflective surfaces so that the light is continuously transferred throughout the room. Mirrors, hardwood floors, and reflective furniture are best for this.

Accentuate window spaces: Home decor experts note, “The effect of sunlight through your window curtains can sometimes bathe a room in color when the curtains are drawn… The less dense the fabric is, the more light it will let in unless it is lined.”

Thus, choosing curtains shouldn’t just be about how well they’ll block, but also how well they’ll be able to let light through while still granting privacy.

Artificial Lighting

Not all artificial lighting is created the same. In this case, more is not necessarily better. Instead, it’s worthwhile to invest in the right kinds of bulbs and to use them in a strategic manner.

Pick the right bulb: Warmer, yellow light-creating bulbs will make spaces like the bedroom and living room seem cozier and calmer. Whiter lights in practical, task-oriented spaces like the bathroom and kitchen will work best.

Install dimmers: This is the magic step that can transform how bulbs appear and how they impact the living spaces where you place them. Dimmers give you the ultimate control over the bulbs you’re using.

Keep them clean: The most cost effective way to utilize what you’ve got is to keep the bulbs clean. Going through your home and cleaning what you have will pave the way for lighting that is efficient and effective.

 

Maintain the Spaces That Receive the Most Winter Wear

Part of the reality of inclement weather is that it inevitably takes a toll on the spaces we live in. Whether its because it’s impossible to leave the precipitation outside, or because our behavior inside our home changes, there are specific sections of the home that often experience more damage during the cold months.

Outside Interiors: Cold weather can make otherwise harmless outside spaces risky to move about in. If you have a garage or shed, water can enter and then freeze when the temperature drops, creating a hazard for all who enter.

Before the weather takes a serious turn for the worse, organize your shed or garage so that the floor is free of obstructions, and you can access whatever tools you may need with ease. If keeping the area heated is not an option, remain diligent in terms of removing excess water from the floor or vehicles so that it won’t become a safety risk.

Floors: When there’s excessive rain, sleet, or snow, it will often stick to clothing and shoes, and our floors pay the price. This really means we pay the price if we don’t take care of them. To protect floors from damage, use mats inside and outside, mop up any liquids, and vacuum up the salt tracked inside as quickly as possible.

Stoves: According to the Department of Energy, a seasonal shift happens in the kitchen: when the weather drops we use our stoves and ovens more than during other parts of the year. Be sure to keep burners and the oven clean.

 

Prepare for Storms

There are few things more disconcerting than being caught unprepared in the midst of severe weather. You can’t always control the amount of impact that a weather-related situation has on you and your family. However, preparing in advance for difficult situations means you are doing what you can.

Batten down the hatches: To prepare for weather at its worst, be sure to take some precautionary measures to protect your house. Tree branches should be trimmed, gutters cleaned out, and siding secure. This is the time to check and verify that weatherstripping on your home is up-to-date.

Protect pets: Include your pets in your preparation. In winter, it’s difficult not to expose some pets to the elements. Take preventative measures to ensure your pet stays safe and dry at home, too; options like pet insurance and pet wellness plans guarantee that you’ll prepared in the worst case scenario.

Emergency supplies: Consider investing in extra supplies, and even a generator in case of power outage. Keep emergency kits in both your home and vehicles. Additionally, there’s wisdom not only in knowing CPR as adults but also in having kids learn CPR.

Prepare for health hazards: While colds and flus may not be literal storms, in the United States they become so pervasive during fall and winter the CDC refers to them as “annual epidemics”. Thus, to avoid illness taking over your home the healthcare professionals at Healthline recommend taking extra care to keep your home clean and disinfected and to practice healthy habits as individuals.

Home preparations for fall and winter may seem daunting, but the reality is they’re totally doable. Not only that, they have the power to make the season, as a whole, more enjoyable as well. The cooler months of the year can mean we feel that we’re perpetually battling the weather so that we can protect our home from the elements. This can be discouraging not only in terms of our houses physically, but also in terms of how we feel in general.

Most of the time, though, the elements’ power to affect our homes and our emotional well-being is impactful only in direct correlation to the amount of time and planning we invest in home preparation.

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Keep Your House Warm This Fall Without Breaking the Bank https://www.checkthishouse.com/8283/keep-your-house-warm-this-fall-without-breaking-the-bank.html Mon, 17 Sep 2018 15:00:21 +0000 https://www.checkthishouse.com/?p=8283 According to the U.S. Department of Energy half of what Americans spend on energy goes towards heating and cooling their homes, which means it is the single costliest energy expense for most families. The majority of us — and especially those who live in northern regions of the country — know that fall and winter ... Read more]]>

According to the U.S. Department of Energy half of what Americans spend on energy goes towards heating and cooling their homes, which means it is the single costliest energy expense for most families.

The majority of us — and especially those who live in northern regions of the country — know that fall and winter can take a heavy toll on the budget as we rely on our homes to keep us warm and shield us from the elements.

But there is smart, preventative home maintenance that can be done in effort to ensure your family stays warm without breaking the budget.

 

Inspect Your Furnace

The most important thing you can do to protect your budget from unnecessary heating costs is ensure that your furnace is in good working order. A furnace that isn’t is a furnace that is working inefficiently and potentially even dangerously.

Hire a Professional

Hiring a professional to inspect your furnace is the best way to ensure your home is prepared for fall and winter. Professionals bring with them the training and experience required for the most thorough of inspections.

According to real estate expert Patrick Chism, “Even if you have a new home, no construction is entirely without fault. Whether the issues are big or small, having an inspection done will open your eyes to potential problems.”

It’s valuable to recognize that even if nothing appears to be wrong, it could be, and having the right set of eyes may be the solution to the problem you don’t even know you have.

Do-It-Yourself

There’s a chance that even if you aren’t a professional, you do have experience with heat systems. Additionally, conducting routine maintenance yourself is a way to save even more funds.

If you’re going to inspect the furnace yourself, here are some key things to remember about when you should bring in a professional in the name of safety:

Be careful: Always turn off the source of power. Hit the off switch on electrical furnaces and turn off the gas line on gas furnaces.

Check flames: Whatever type of furnace you have, it should produce steady blue flames. A yellow flame means there is something contaminating the flame, and you need to call a pro.

Smell: While an occasional, small whiff of gas isn’t likely cause for concern, a large amount or regular occurance is a sign of a leak that needs immediate attention.

Listen: If a noise seems out of place, or a vibration is questionable, these are also signs that you need to call a professional.

However you decide to go about inspecting your furnace at the beginning of the chilly season, remember to prioritize safety. Even if you have a thorough how-to guide, if you’re uncomfortable, don’t hesitate to bring someone in who can put your mind at ease; it will be money well spent, especially in light of how much you’ll likely save on utility bills.

 

Ensure Your Home Isn’t Releasing Heat

The best heat source in the world cannot combat a home that has trouble keeping the warm air produced inside. Thus, it’s worthwhile to take the time before the cold hits to make sure that the usual heat-releasing suspects aren’t causing you to use your heater more than absolutely necessary.

When The Washington Post overviewed the major ways heat escapes homes these were the most substantial problem areas:

Ceilings, walls, and floors: Even well-insulated houses inevitably have gaps and holes that permit heat to escape in these areas. Heated areas that have openings into unheated areas are surefire ways to lose the heat you’re paying for.

Good solutions include insulating the backs of areas like attic doors and hatches, and weather-stripping their edges. Additionally, small hacks like covering your hardwood or tile floors can add a layer insulation.

Ducts and plumbing penetrations: Holes that allow pipes, vents, and ducts to pass through walls often have extra space that allows heated air to escape. A caulk or foam spray is a smart and relatively easy way to seal them.

Fireplace: Fireplace maintenance experts recommend checking the chimney a minimum of once a year to ensure there are no cracks, which would obviously lead to heat loss. Additionally, if you have a fireplace with a poorly fitted or missing damper, that fireplace is allowing air to pass through. If you close the flue, light a flame, and the smoke travels upwards into the chimney you have a leak.

Windows and doors: Depending on the size of the gaps surrounding your windows and doors, there is the potential for major heat loss in these areas. Utilizing weather stripping and indoor caulk can make a drastic difference.

Many of the common ways our homes lose heat can be treated fairly easily after a quick trip to the hardware store. And what’s more, these fixes will pay for themselves as you reap the rewards of a well-insulated home. Fall is the season we love best, but a skyrocketing energy or gas bill can easily distract from the pleasure of it. The good news is that with a relatively modest amount of planning, your preventative home maintenance efforts can keep your space warm throughout the entire season, without draining all of your financial resources.

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How to Use Thermostat Fan ON – OFF Feature https://www.checkthishouse.com/6274/how-to-use-thermostat-fan-on-off-feature.html Fri, 11 Nov 2011 00:56:59 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=6274 Picture of the thermostat fan ON-OFF switchThermostat fan ON – OFF Use forced air heating and / or AC thermostat fan ON – OFF feature to your advantage and help your HVAC forced air system perform most efficiently. Utilizing thermostat fan ON – OFF feature will probably be more beneficial for multi-level homes equipped with just one HVAC unit and little to no air return ports assigned for each room (ie. two air returns on a two story residence / one per floor only). HVAC systems designed with a single air return port, usually installed in the center of the house or in the center of each floor, are often [...]]]> Picture of the thermostat fan ON-OFF switch

Picture of the thermostat fan ON-OFF switchUse forced air heating and / or AC thermostat fan ON – OFF feature to your advantage and help your HVAC forced air system perform most efficiently.

Utilizing thermostat fan ON – OFF feature will probably be more beneficial for multi-level homes equipped with just one HVAC unit and little to no air return ports assigned for each room (ie. two air returns on a two story residence / one per floor only).

HVAC systems designed with a single air return port, usually installed in the center of the house or in the center of each floor, are often responsible for poor air circulation and can utilize thermostat fan ON – OFF feature.

There might be areas within your house with a temperature differential as high as 10°F (sometimes even more) during very hot or very cold days. There are two ways you can equalize the temperature quickly.

You can use each one of those procedures separately, or combine both of them during extremely hot or cold days for maximum performance. It’s good to familiarize yourself with benefits of thermostat fan ON – OFF feature

Thermostat Fan ON – OFF Feature #1

Move the switch to thermostat fan ON setting if you feel significant temperature changes while walking between different sections of your house, i.e. from the first to second floor. The fan will circulate air independently from the Heat or Cooling cycle, equalizing temperature through the house.

Some of the more advanced heating systems have a variable speed fan installed, which operates on the lower speed setting during that cycle – this function is very energy efficient and extremely quiet. You can also purchase additional equipment that attaches to your HVAC air duct system providing constant air circulation and air cleaning continuously (their cleaning is an important part of your home maintenance schedule).

Thermostat Fan ON – OFF Feature #2 – adjusting air registers

Instead of using the thermostat fan ON – OFF feature you can attempt to equalize temperature through the house by adjusting your air supplying registers between the cold and warm season.

Thermostat fan ON-OFF - air duct damper allows changing air flow volume to various registers through the hoouseThermostat fan ON-OFF - air duct dampers allow changing air flow volume to various registers through the hoouseYou may also have dampers installed inside the air ducts that adjust airflow through the house.

  • Cold season – fully open upper floor registers, and partially close the ones located on the lowest floor. Make your adjustment until the temperature equalizes through the house. Do not to close any of the registers completely (unless you really want to eliminate conditioning of some area). Use the thermostat fan ON function if necessary to speed up the air exchange process
  • Warm season is just the opposite of the above. By partially closing upper floor air registers and fully opening the ones located on the lower floors you’ll be able to equalize temperature through the house much faster. Again, turn the thermostat fan ON to speed up this method.

This natural process, known as a “stack effect”, is simply being accelerated by the HVAC system.

Stack Effect” in buildings is a process of warmer air rising from the lower to upper portions of the house where it escapes through the openings beyond the house.

If you have a forced air heating system or if you are using fans, the air is being re-circulated back to the lower floor. The same thing will happen naturally as soon as the warm air cools down. The rising warm air reduces the pressure at the lowest level of your home, which allows infiltration with the cold air (through the windows, doors, or any other openings).

Combine thermostat fan ON-OFF feature with recommended thermostat settings for even bigger energy savings!

Utilize thermostat fan ON – OFF function to increase efficiency of your heating and air conditioning system and to make your home more comfortable.

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Recommended Thermostat Settings For Energy Savings https://www.checkthishouse.com/6249/recommended-thermostat-settings-for-energy-savings.html Mon, 31 Oct 2011 21:29:08 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=6249 Recommended thermostat settings savingsRecommended thermostat settings  and thermostat location Before I explain recommended thermostat settings for energy savings I’d like to point out the best and the worst thermostat locations. To maximize home energy savings and ensure the most efficient operation of your HVAC system, thermostat location should be chosen on an inside wall in a frequently occupied area of the house or the apartment. Additionally, thermostat location should be at least 18″ (46cm) from any of the house’s outside walls, and approximately 5′ (1.5m) above the floor surface in a location with freely circulating air of an average temperature. Thermostat locations you should avoid! The recommended thermostat settings [...]]]> Recommended thermostat settings savings

Recommended thermostat settings savings

Before I explain recommended thermostat settings for energy savings I’d like to point out the best and the worst thermostat locations.

To maximize home energy savings and ensure the most efficient operation of your HVAC system, thermostat location should be chosen on an inside wall in a frequently occupied area of the house or the apartment.

Additionally, thermostat location should be at least 18″ (46cm) from any of the house’s outside walls, and approximately 5′ (1.5m) above the floor surface in a location with freely circulating air of an average temperature.

Thermostat locations you should avoid!

The recommended thermostat settings may not help to improve your home energy savings if you have a thermostat installed in the following locations :

  • Behind the doors and within the walls inside corner areas
  • On an outside wall’s interior surface
  • In direct sunlight or where radiant heat from appliances might affect control operation
  • Next to, or directly in front of, an HVAC air discharge grill, stairwells, or outside doors
  • Where thermostat’s functioning may be affected by water pipes, steam, air ducts, or by an un-heated/un-cooled (not conditioned) space behind the thermostat

Recommended Thermostat Settings / What is the perfect temperature for maximum home energy savings?

Finding and setting your home at the right temperature is the first goal. Recommended thermostat settings during the winter or at least the best starting point for the cold season is 68°F.  In the summer months, recommended thermostat settings is that of 76°F degrees (again for the starting point).

As a rule of thumb, every 1 degree difference in thermostat settings will give you energy savings of 2% to 4% for a 24 hour period (energy used for heating and / or cooling). This will depend on your geographical location / climate zone, insulation, etc.

Let’s use this recommended thermostat settings profile as a starting point; if you are in the winter months and you have your thermostat set at 70°F degrees normally, if you can still feel comfortable by lowering it to 68 F degrees, you will be able to save up to 8% in your energy costs dedicated for heating purposes.

In the summer, keep the air conditioning set at just 76 F degrees and turn on a fan.  Doing this will pull out all of the humidity in the air and keep the temperature at a low level.  If you can tolerate moving this more so, you will save money.

Recommended Thermostat Settings  – Using Programmable Thermostats

If you’re still using old fashioned dial type thermostat, consider upgrading it to a digital / programmable one. They are not that expensive but can produce significant savings every year if properly used – about $180 every year.

Recommended Thermostat Settings  – Programmable Thermostats advantage

Recommended thermostat settings for a programmable thermostatProgrammable thermostats operate on the same principle as the regular once. Whenever the temperature drops below (heat cycle) or raises above (cooling cycle) the pre-set they turn ON and OFF your appliance.

However, they have additional functions which will allow us to input recommended thermostat settings for energy savings into their memory to achieve maximum home energy savings.

Depending on the thermostat model you might be able to set several time periods during each day of the week for maximum home energy savings.

  • What’s the point of keeping the temperature at home at the comfortable level if nobody’s there to enjoy it – use recommended thermostat settings from the table below!

When you go to work, send your kids to school, or take entire family for weekend getaway simply adjust the thermostat to conserve precious energy and set the time to be about an hour or two before you come home, and at that time, the comfortable / recommended thermostat settings  for energy savings settings will kick in.

When the time comes to turn the system on, they get the home to the right temperature efficiently. Once you start using recommended thermostat settings you will not notice any difference until you see that your next heating or cooling bills have dropped. I’d also recommend programming the thermostat for different temperatures at night when you are sleeping.

Another of the great features of the programmable thermostats; you do not need to remember changing recommended thermostat settings  for energy savings every day, as the device will take care of that for you once set.

The recommended thermostat settings for energy savings below are pre-programmed in many (if not all) programmable thermostats. Play with it and keep checking your monthly statements.

 

Recommended Thermostat Settings for Energy Savings

Setpoint Times & Temperatures

Setting Time Setpoint Temperature (Heating) Setpoint Temperature (Cooling)
Wake 6:00 A.M. ≤ 70° F ≥ 78° F
Day 8:00 A.M. Setback at least 8° F Setup at least 7° F
Evening 6:00 P.M. ≤ 70° F ≥ 78° F
Sleep 6:00 P.M. Setback at least 8° F Setup at least 4° F

Remember, those recommended thermostat settings  for energy savings are just a starting point for you. Since we all have different levels of comfortable temperature environment, you might need to do some adjustments. However, I would recommend to do it in 1° increments and giving at least a couple of days between the next changes of thermostat settings.

Use recommended thermostat settings  for energy savings and stay comfortable!

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Hot Water Heating Maintenance: Interior Fall Maintenance https://www.checkthishouse.com/6243/hot-water-heating-maintenance-interior-fall-maintenance.html Tue, 25 Oct 2011 23:51:58 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=6243 Hot water heating maintenance - circulating hot water boilerHot Water Heating Maintenance Hot water heating maintenance procedures should be an important task on your interior fall maintenance list. Hot water heating maintenance – bleeding hot water radiators once or twice a season Bleeding your radiators means releasing any air trapped in them. This hot water heating maintenance process improves your hot water heating efficiency instantly. Hot water can flow into every part of the radiator, so it does a better job of warming your room. In order to figure out your hot water heating system’s radiators performance, turn up the thermostat a few degrees above the room temperature, make sure that all [...]]]> Hot water heating maintenance - circulating hot water boiler

Hot water heating maintenance procedures should be an important task on your interior fall maintenance list.

Hot water heating maintenance – bleeding hot water radiators once or twice a season

Bleeding your radiators means releasing any air trapped in them. This hot water heating maintenance process improves your hot water heating efficiency instantly. Hot water can flow into every part of the radiator, so it does a better job of warming your room.

Hot water heating maintenance - circulating hot water boilerIn order to figure out your hot water heating system’s radiators performance, turn up the thermostat a few degrees above the room temperature, make sure that all of the radiator valves are open, and run the system for 15-30 minutes – more or less will depend on the design of your system and a floor plan of your house.

Touch the radiator surfaces; if you notice that the upper sections are cold or remain significantly cooler then the bottom, it means that the radiator requires bleeding.

Hot water heating maintenance – radiator bleeding procedure

The bleeding procedure is very simple, but if it hasn’t been done for a while, the valves might break while opening or start leaking after the service has been performed. Therefore, if you are in doubt about how to perform this task, call a professional.

Radiator bleeding procedure:

Hot water heating maintenance - air bleeding of the radiatorAfter testing the radiators, turn the heat off and let the radiators cool. Then put your “bleed key” into the valve at the top of the radiator and turn it to release air. Make sure you have a rag or a container handy to contain any small amount of water that may spray out once the air is released.

Hot water heating maintenance – Tips that will help you to maximize performance and energy efficiency of the radiator:

Install a reflective heat panel behind the radiators, especially ones that are attached to the exterior walls – this helps a lot in older homes, which have little or no wall insulation installed. The panel will reflect / direct heat from the wall behind the radiator towards the living area.

You can purchase reflective materials / panels designed specifically for this purpose and just cut them to the required size. A Novitherm™ is just one of the examples you can use, or simply do it yourself.

Hot water heating maintenance – Homemade radiator reflector alternative #1

Grab a piece of cardboard, thin plywood, paneling, etc. Cut it to the size of the radiator, attach aluminum foil to it (shiny surface out), and slide this reflector behind the radiator. Whatever you’re going to attach the foil with, make sure that it doesn’t become toxic when exposed to heat – read the labels!

Hot water heating maintenance – Homemade radiator reflector alternative #2

If you have enough clearance behind the radiator, purchase a 1” thick insulating foam panel that is lined with aluminum foil, cut it to the size of your radiator and then slide it behind.

While doing the above, keep in mind the following:

Hot water heating maintenance #1

Reflectors can be installed behind the hot water heating and steam radiators (including hot water baseboard heaters). However, you have to make sure that the material you are using can handle the temperature of the radiator. For the hot water system,  it would be 180°F, while steam radiators may reach 215°F.

Hot water heating maintenance #2

The hot water heating radiator manufacturers recommend maintaining at least ¾” clearance between the radiator and the wall behind it in order to maintain its maximum performance. Make sure to maintain that ¾” clearance when choosing the reflector.

Hot water heating maintenance #3

Placing the reflective material between the hot water heating radiator and an un-insulated (or poorly insulated) exterior wall might result in condensation buildup and mold growth. You should be OK when using insulating materials for the reflective panel purposes and securing it flat / tight / permanently against the wall. Loose or temporarily attached reflective panels should be monitored periodically for any signs of moisture, condensation, and mold.

I hope those hot water heating maintenance tips for the interior fall maintenance will save you a few bucks during the cold season.

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Combustion Air Requirements for Fossil Fuel Burning Appliances https://www.checkthishouse.com/6236/combustion-air-requirements-for-fossil-fuel-burning-appliances.html Sat, 22 Oct 2011 22:21:17 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=6236 Combustion air requirements - example of a water heater, furnace, and washing equipment instalalionCombustion Air Requirements There are four possible combustion air sources in your home; House living space Attic Crawlspace House exterior In some cases combinations of the above combustion air sources is required, but the application of each has to be determined on an individual basis. EXAMPLE of the combustion air calculations For your own safety; I want you to examine the location of the fossil fuel burning appliances in your home as soon as you finish reading this chapter (furnace, water heater, fireplace, heating stove, etc.).  If you have a problem figuring combustion air requirements and determining if everything is correct, email me with detailed description of your [...]]]> Combustion air requirements - example of a water heater, furnace, and washing equipment instalalion

There are four possible combustion air sources in your home;

  1. House living space
  2. Attic
  3. Crawlspace
  4. House exterior

In some cases combinations of the above combustion air sources is required, but the application of each has to be determined on an individual basis.

EXAMPLE of the combustion air calculations

For your own safety; I want you to examine the location of the fossil fuel burning appliances in your home as soon as you finish reading this chapter (furnace, water heater, fireplace, heating stove, etc.).  If you have a problem figuring combustion air requirements and determining if everything is correct, email me with detailed description of your setup, pictures, or contact a licensed HVAC contractor to evaluate your situation. Some installations are potentially life threatening…

I’m going to use just one configuration in this combustion air calculations example, and it is a very common type of installation.

Let’s assume that we have 2 gas appliances – a furnace and a water heater – installed in a utility room or closet (not in the garage – different requirements apply, bathroom or bedroom – not permitted / safety hazard). Both appliances’ combustion process relies only on combustion air from the house interior / living space.

A high efficiency furnace with two PVC pipes installed (one for exhaust and one for combustion air) and both of them terminating on the house’s exterior would not qualify for this example.

What we need to do is to calculate the combustion air volume within that living space and compare that with the combustion air requirements of our appliances to support proper / complete combustion process.

Combustion air requirements - water heater label displaying BTU's per hourCombustion air requirements - furnace label displaying BTU's per hour

Take a piece of paper and write down two numbers from the appliances’ labels (click pictures for examples of labels) – their BTU’s per hour. Use the simple formula below to calculate the amount of combustion air required by those appliances.

(Water Heater BTU’s – 38,000) + (Furnace BTU’s – 69,000) = 107 000 BTU’s

The calculation is very simple:
(38,000 + 69,000) x (50 ft³) / (1,000 Btu/hr)  =  5350 ft³

5350 ft³ is the amount of air volume that those two appliances require per hour of their operation in order to complete a clean combustion.

In the next step you need to take a measuring tape, and right down the height, length, and width of the room supplying combustion air for those appliances (or combine dimensions of a few smaller rooms if they are connected together with properly installed vents allowing free air flow between them).

Going back to our example; the room size capable of supplying combustion air to our appliances would have to be approximately 26’ L x 26’ W x 8’ H = 5408 ft3, quite large… So, in order for the utility room or a closet to provide that much combustion air, it has to be somehow open to the rest of the living space.

Slipping area and / or a bathroom cannot be used for providing combustion air to the fossil fuel burning appliances.

Combustion air requirements - example of a water heater, furnace, and washing equipment installation

There are two options:

  1. If the closet or utility room has been equipped with a solid door(s) – the door would have to be replaced with a louver type door(s), equipped with an appropriate size of the louvers.
  2. Two openings would be required in the existing door or closet wall (between the closet interior and an area that would provide sufficient amount of combustion air). Each opening must have at least 107 sq inches of a net free air flow area (100 sq inches minimum if total BTU of installed gas appliances is less than 100000, and additional 1 square inch of net area per each 1000 BTU’s over 100000).One opening is required within 12″ from the floor, second within 12″ from the closet ceiling.

Keep in mind that in order to provide sufficient amount of combustion air an actual opening will need to be larger if covered with some decorative grill:

  • Metal louvered combustion air vent cover provides 60%-75% of its net free area (10″x10″ louvered opening would only provide 60-75 sq inches)
  • Wood louvered combustion air vent cover provides only 20%-25%

Check those vent covers periodically for lint contamination and never put anything against them that could limit combustion air flow – put it no your routine home maintenance list.

I hope this will help you to calculate combustion air for fossil fuel burning appliances.

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Fall Maintenance | Home’s Interior Fall Maintenance Tips https://www.checkthishouse.com/5292/house-interior-maintenance-tips-fall.html Fri, 30 Sep 2011 21:13:41 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=5292 House interior fall maintenance tips - examine your attic for mold, leaks, and ventilation problemsInterior Fall Maintenance Tips The interior fall maintenance tips is a second part of home maintenance check list series dedicated to routine, seasonal tasks around your house. Follow this link: exterior fall maintenance tips for the first part of those important home maintenance procedures. We’ll start interior fall maintenance tips check list from the top of your house. 1. Evaluate your house’s attic for signs of leaks, moisture, and mold / compare suspect areas with any exterior roof observations you may have and correct issues. Moisture and mold presence might be a result of ventilation problems and during the cold season is when an [...]]]> House interior fall maintenance tips - examine your attic for mold, leaks, and ventilation problems

The interior fall maintenance tips is a second part of home maintenance check list series dedicated to routine, seasonal tasks around your house. Follow this link: exterior fall maintenance tips for the first part of those important home maintenance procedures.

We’ll start interior fall maintenance tips check list from the top of your house.

House interior fall maintenance tips - examine your attic for mold, leaks, and ventilation problems1. Evaluate your house’s attic for signs of leaks, moisture, and mold / compare suspect areas with any exterior roof observations you may have and correct issues. It is very important to do it as a part of your fall maintenance schedule. Moisture and mold presence might be a result of ventilation problems and during the cold season is when an unconditioned attic space requires proper air circulation the most.

Make sure you check attic vents for contamination and clean them if necessary to improve air circulation. Check “Attic” category above for all the information you need about attic evaluation.

House attic fall maintenance tips - make sure that bathroom and kitchen vents discharge to the exterior, not into the attic2. Second of the house’s interior fall maintenance tips is connected with exterior evaluation section. Make sure your bathroom and dryer vent discharge to the house’s exterior. Allowing warm and moist air into the attic, crawlspace, basement, or inside the wall / ceiling cavity creates a perfect mold growing environment. Remember to check their exterior terminations / dampers for proper operation.

Attic fall maintenance tips - missing attic floor insulation3. Cover exposed sections of attic floor with insulation. Some of the interior fall maintenance tips will benefit your home all year long and this is one of them. Missing attic floor insulation allows for migration of warmer air from conditioned space into the attic, which could result in condensation buildup and mold growth under the roof (besides tremendous energy loss).

Attic fall maintenance tips - have your heating system evaluated before the cold season4. Don’t neglect this next of the interior fall maintenance tips: have your furnace serviced before winter – ask your HVAC guy about combustion air requirements – important safety issue! Replace air filters on regular basis and check air registers (especially floor ones and those located low on the walls) and air ducts boots directly underneath the registers for contamination. Remove debris and vacuum as much as you can, consider professional air ducts cleaning service if heavily contaminated.

House interior fall maintenance tips - clean your clothes dryer vent, replace if plastic5. This one is not necessarily limited to the interior fall maintenance tips check list but it’s definitely worth mentioning. Clean the clothes dryer exhaust duct (obviously this should be done on regular basis), if you have a plastic duct pipe which is a serious fire hazard, replaced with a metal one. Don’t forget to clean area behind the dryer from lint. Check the following link for more about clothes dryer vents.


House interior fall maintenance tips - evaluate crawlspace condition and insulate water pipes if necessary6. For all of you who have a crawlspace under your home it’s important to follow this next of the interior fall maintenance tips, especially if you’re experiencing cold winters and if the crawlspace has no heat source.

Check crawlspace area for water pipes, insulate them or install heat tape if necessary. If the crawlspace contains any fossil fuel burning appliances that require combustion air from within this area don’t close exterior vents for the cold season / while performing your fall maintenance tasks. It could result in Carbon Monoxide poisoning or even death, please check with your heating contractor and don’t hesitate to ask me any questions you may have.

House interior fall maintenance tips - check fireplace damper, hire a chimney sweep professional for detailed evaluation 7. To enjoy your fireplace you have to maintain it properly and this next of the interior fall maintenance tips covers this important subject.

Check your fireplace damper for proper operation, open it and carefully look inside the chimney flue using a flashlight. Don’t be surprised if you see a beehive, rodent / birds nest or even some very much alive rodents occupying the flue. A certified chimney sweep inspection would be highly recommended as a part of your fall maintenance schedule.

If your fireplace does not include exterior combustion air supplying channel you should consider such installation. It will improve combustion process and make fireplace more energy efficient.

Interior fall maintenance tips - check your smoke and Carbon Monoxide locations, age, batteries, test if functional8. Smoke and Carbon Monoxide detectors maintenance should be on every single home maintenance check list! Putting it on an interior fall maintenance tips list is just another reminder about this extremely important safety maintenance task.

If you don’t know much about smoke and CO detectors I highly recommend to dedicate a few minutes of your time for reading first 4 articles in “Safety” category. This could be your life saver in case of a fire or some condition that would compromise proper combustion of your fuel burning appliances.

Feel free to submit questions and add your interior fall maintenance tips in the comment area below.

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Anode Rod, WH shut-down & Combustion Air: Water Heater Maintenance Part 3 https://www.checkthishouse.com/6075/water-heater-maintenance-3-anode-rod-shut-down-combustion-air.html Sun, 17 Apr 2011 00:22:39 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=6075 You have reached Part 3 of Tank Gas Water Heater Maintenance Water Heater Maintenance Part 1 Water Heater Maintenance Part 2 Water Heater Maintenance Part 3 Use the navigation above to revisit Parts 1 & 2 of this important gas water heater maintenance procedure. Part 3 covers the following: Sacrificial Anode Rod maintenance Vacation and ... Read more]]>

You have reached Part 3 of Tank Gas Water Heater Maintenance

Water Heater Maintenance
Part 1
Water Heater Maintenance
Part 2
Water Heater Maintenance
Part 3


Use the navigation above to revisit Parts 1 & 2 of this important gas water heater maintenance procedure.
Part 3 covers the following:

  • Sacrificial Anode Rod maintenance
  • Vacation and extended shut-down of the water heater
  • Water heater’s combustion air – extremely important!

Tank gas water heater maintenance – the Sacrificial Anode Rod

The anode rod purpose is to prolong the life of the water heater’s glass lined tank. While protecting the tank from corrosion the rod deteriorates. It’s performance and the life span depend on the water conditions in your area, which will influence the time intervals for the anode rod’s evaluation, and replacement if such is required.

If you have a good quality water supply and you’re not using any water softening systems, water heater maintenance will not be that extensive and you can expect the sacrificial anode rod to last approximately 3-5 years. However, the softener system or an acidic water source will cut that time in half or even more thus increasing water heater maintenance

Therefore, my suggestion is to have a professional performing at least the first time evaluation of the water heater’s sacrificial anode rod. The plumber will be able to show you what tool would be the best to remove it (1 1/16″ socket wrench in most cases), how to determine the remaining life span of the rod, and hopefully come up with a time frame for the next check-up.

Water heater maintenance - most typical / exposed sacrificial anode rod hex head locationWater heater maintenance - replace deteriorated anode rodWater heater maintenance 3 – Tank water heater sacrificial anode rod access.
In most residential tank type water heaters it is fairly simple to locate the anode hex head screw on top of the appliance’s enclosure.

However, in some water heater tanks this access might be obscured and without information about a particular appliance design and extra tools you may not be able to find it – get a plumber.

Water heater maintenance 3 – Perform the anode rod maintenance inspection by following these steps:

  1. Turn off the water heater’s gas supply (lower the thermostat to minimum, set the regulator to OFF and / or turn OFF the shutoff valve) / turn off the electrical power supply if such exists
  2. Turn off the cold water supply at the water heater cold line and at the the main water shutoff
  3. Release the water pressure by opening any of the water faucets located below the top part of the water heater’s tank level. If you have any faucets on the floors above the water heater level, open those faucets as well and wait until there’s no water coming out of the lowest faucet (leave it open for the rod inspection)
  4. If there’s no faucets below the water heater’s top plate level (for example: a water heater located in the crawlspace or a basement with no extra sink) you’ll have to used the WH’s drain valve to release the pressure and drain water from the system
  5. Use a 1 1/16″ socket wrench to unscrew the rod (you may also need a breaker bar, especially on older water heaters)
  6. Carefully (to prevent it from breaking apart if severely deteriorated) pull the anode rod from the water heater’s tank and depending on its condition: clean it or replace it with a new one. I’ll try to get some pictures for you so you know what to expect.
  7. Reverse the procedures above

NOTICE:
Completely removing the anode rod from the water heater’s tank (except for inspection and/or replacement) will void the warranty and shorten the life span of the glass lined tank.

Tank gas water heater maintenance Part 3 – Vacation and Extended Shut-Down of the water heater

Whenever your water heater is to remain unused for an extended period of time, you can save money and energy by simply turning off the gas, power supply (in some models), and water feed to the appliance.  This will also prevent a build-up of dangerous hydrogen gas.

Hydrogen gas can be produced in a hot water heater that has not been used for some period of time, usually more than 2 weeks.

HYDROGEN GAS IS EXTREMELY FLAMMABLE!

To safely disperse such gas and minimize risk of injury, open the kitchen hot water faucet for several minutes prior to operating any of the electrical appliances that might be connected to the hot water system. Refrain from smoking or using an open flame near the faucet.

A typical hydrogen confirmation presence is a sound of air escaping through the open faucet as the water begins to flow.

Water heater maintenance 3 – Planning to leave your house completely unattended during the winter / concerned about freezing?

  • Consider draining the tank water heater and piping if they might be subjected to freezing temperatures. If it’s a long shut-down period, have a professional check your water heater’s operation. If you decide doing it on your own, make sure the water heater is re- filled completely prior to starting its heating cycle.

Water heater maintenance 3 – plumbing system draining pros:

  • If you turn off the water to your property and properly drain / air blow the entire system, you don’t have to worry about freezing, cracking  pipes, and flooding.

Water heater maintenance 3 – plumbing system draining cons:

  • Anode rod helps to protect water heater’s tank from corroding but only while filled with water. Even its interior walls are glass-like ceramic coated, its rust-resistance will be compromised when empty.

Final gas water heater maintenance requirement – combustion air (applies to all fuel burning appliances)

Gas water heaters require oxygen from air to burn its fuel (gas or oil), which is called a combustion process. Consequently, this air required for water heater’s combustion is called “combustion air”.

An insufficient amount of combustion air supply results in an incomplete combustion process. As a bi-product of such incomplete combustion, Carbon Monoxide is released to the WH surrounding area, and this could be deadly for you.
Unfortunately many of us don’t understand it or simply forget about it. Therefore, I highly recommend following this link and educate yourself about combustion air – combustion air minimum requirement

Some basics of the water heater maintenance concerning combustion air:

  • The water heater takes its combustion air through the openings around its base (sides and / or underneath the bottom plate). DO NOT block or obstruct any of those combustion air inlets. Keep anything at least 1” away from them.
  • DO NOT store ANY combustible materials (wood, paper, fabrics, etc.) or flammable liquids (paint, paint thinners, aerosol spray, gasoline, etc.) near the water heater.
  • Make sure that the water heater location has plenty of fresh air circulation – combustion air
  • Maintain functional Carbon Monoxide detector(s) and smoke alarms in your home – check Home Safety category for details.

That concludes Part 3 of the tank gas water heater maintenance, let me know if you have any questions. If this is where you have started from, make sure that you go over Parts 1 & 2 of water heater maintenance.

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Tank Gas Water Heater Maintenance 2: TPRV, Tank Drainage, Flue-Way https://www.checkthishouse.com/6049/tank-gas-water-heater-maintenance-2-tprv-tank-flue.html Sat, 16 Apr 2011 14:20:14 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=6049 Second part of the tank gas water heater maintenance explains: TPR valve maintenance, water heater tank drainage, and internal flu-way maintenance / venting.]]>
Water Heater Maintenance
Part 1
Water Heater Maintenance
Part 2
Water Heater Maintenance
Part 3

 

Part 2 of the tank gas water heater maintenance explains:

  • TPR (Temperature & Pressure Relief) valve maintenance – perform annually
  • Water heater tank drainage – a few quarts once a month
  • Internal flu-way / venting system maintenance – once a year

Tank gas water heater maintenance Part 2 – TPR valve maintenance, testing should be performed at least once a year by a homeowner and / or by a professional – licensed plumber.

Tank gas water heater maintenance - before testing TPR valve make sure it has a properly installed discharge pipe - Safety Hazard

DANGER: Before you start gas water heater maintenance and attempt TPR valve testing, make sure that there’s a properly installed and secured to the valve discharge pipe (click water heater’s TPR valve for details), and that no one will be exposed to the hot water released from the discharge line. Its temperature may be high enough to cause body injury or property damage.

Tank gas water heater maintenance - if possible, use the floor drain to test TPR valveTank gas water heater maintenance - with no floor drain use a bucket to test TPR valveIn case there’s no floor drain directly beneath the discharge line, place a bucket under the water heater’s TPR valve discharge pipe, and place a towel over the bucket to prevent water from splashing.

If you have water temperature set to hot or very hot, I would recommend pouring some cold water into the bucket prior to opening the valve in order to immediately lower the temperature of the discharging water.

Tank gas water heater maintenance - TPR valve locationsContinue with gas water heater maintenance and lift and release the lever handle on the temperature pressure relief valve (TPRV).  This will ensure that the valve is operating freely. TPRV is located near the top of the water heater, on its top or side wall surface. You should discharge a few gallons of water through the discharge line into an open floor drain.

You may also find the discharge pipe suspended directly above the drip pan under the water heater (some jurisdictions do not allow such installation / some do). I wouldn’t recommend discharging water into the pan. Even if the drip pan has been plumbed to the floor drain, some water will remain inside and evaporate through the water heaters burner chamber accelerating its corrosion – use a bucket.

While performing your gas water heater maintenance procedures you may notice the TPR valve discharging water periodically by itself. There could be a couple of reasons behind it:

– A thermal expansion in a closed water system
– Faulty TPR valve

Tank gas water heater maintenance - TPR valve drippingYou can try to slightly lift and release TPR valve lever until it sets properly without leaking and operates freely (repeat that a few times if necessary). If that doesn’t help: Turn off the gas valve, turn off the water shutoff valve, open a faucet located below the TPR valve level to release the water pressure, and contact your plumbing contractor.

DO NOT plug the TPR valve / its discharge pipe outlet to stop the leak! This could result in an explosion of your water heater!

If you have an older water heater and there’s no way of knowing if its TPR valve was ever tested, it is possible that it may still leak when re-closed after opening / testing. It’s a good idea to have your phone nearby and a plumber’s number ready… just in case.

Tank gas water heater maintenance schedule Part 2 – tank drainage / a few quarts monthly

Tank gas water heater maintenance - tank drainage - if it is an older WH tank, you may not be able to fully close the drain valve after testingThe same rule concerning older water heaters applies for the water heater drain valve maintenance procedure – if it is an older WH tank, you may not be able to fully close the drain valve after testing.

Manufacturers suggest draining a few quarts of water from the water heater’s tank once a month in order to remove silt and sediment that tend to accumulate at its base. You can perform this easy water heater maintenance procedure by attaching a garden hose to the drain valve or by using a bucket. Remember to fully open the valve, which will help in accumulated mineral deposits release.

Skipping this gas water heater maintenance procedure for a few months or even years (depending on your water’s source and quality) could allow a significant amount of mineral deposits to accumulate and harden. As a result, they could cover the WH’s gas control (thermostat) sensors, causing their erratic operation / malfunctioning.

This could further result in false temperature readouts delivered from the sensors to the gas control valve, and increased water temperature at the fixtures / higher than the gas control (thermostat) dial setting.

Tank gas water heater maintenance schedule Part 2 – Internal flue-way & venting system / annually

Tank gas water heater maintenance shut downTank gas water heater maintenance - thermostat exampleTurn the temperature dial to vacation, or the lowest setting, or to OFF position (depending on the design) and the gas cock knob to OFF position (not all designs  have one).

If the pilot stays ON, turn OFF the gas shutoff valve and call the plumber!

Wait until the water heater’s draft hood and its vent pipe have cooled down / use  protective gloves for this water heater maintenance procedure.

Tank gas water heater flue baffle hanging inside the WH flueTank gas water heater maintenance - flue baffle should be ispected on annual basisTank gas water heater maintenance - flue baffle hanger-bracketThe water heater’s internal flue requires annual inspections. In order to perform this gas water heater maintenance task, the draft hood and the vent pipe section must be disassembled, and the flue baffle removed from the flue-way for evaluation.

When replacing the flue baffle, make sure it is secured properly by its hanger at the top of the flue way. Reconnect / secure in place the vent pipe and the draft hood. Check this post for the vent pipe information.

If your gas water heater maintenance evaluation of the flue-way revealed any soot or deterioration, contact your local gas utility company or a plumber to further investigate and correct this condition prior to activating the water heater.

Test for exhaust gases spillage around the draft hood after about 5 minutes of burner operation. Put a flame of a match or candle or smoke next to the draft hood – make sure that the flame or smoke is being pulled into the draft hood. Call the plumber if it doesn’t!

Gas tank water heater & vent pipe maintenance

There are many requirements that have to be fulfilled for the gas water heater venting system to operate safely and a few components of this system that must interact with each other constantly. Once you familiarize yourself with them, importance of the gas water heater vent pipe maintenance will become very clear.

As a part of tank gas water heater maintenance have the gas water heater vent pipe inspected by a professional annually. After the first inspection /based on the design and condition of your particular installation he should be able to give you a list of basic maintenance procedures.

For details about the gas water heater venting system visit the following articles:

For details about the power vent water heater system visit  Water heater power vent and follow the maintenance task described below

  • Check all visible / accessible connections on the gas water heater power vent system PVC vent pipe starting from the power vent assembly connection – all of them must be air tight.
  • Check accessible, horizontal PVC vent pipe sections for proper support – there should be no sagging.
  • Water heater power vent motor has sealed bearings and does not require oiling. If it becomes unusually noisy – contact its manufacturer if still under warranty.

Continue to the final Tank Gas Water Heater Maintenance Part 3

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Gas Water Heater Maintenance 1 | How To Maintain Tank Water Heaters https://www.checkthishouse.com/6043/gas-water-heater-maintenance-tank-water-heaters.html Sat, 16 Apr 2011 03:53:59 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=6043 Gas Water Heater Maintenance – Part 1 of 3
Water Heater Maintenance
Part 1
Water Heater Maintenance
Part 2
Water Heater Maintenance
Part 3


Wow, I’m very impressed… You must be one of the very few that are actually interested in a gas water heater maintenance. While performing home inspections, I have asked hundreds of homeowners about this simple procedure and a raised eye brow was usually the answer to my question.

Besides water heater maintenance you can also check this water heater inspection post that covers many other things,

With a few simple gas water heater maintenance steps you can get years of reliable operation from your appliance. Most of those steps can be easily performed by a homeowner, however, there are a few that should be carried out by a qualified service personnel experienced in gas water heater repair.

Warning:
Just like with every appliance, your gas water heater maintenance should be performed on regular basis. Neglecting this requirement can compromise the proper operation of your appliance. The outcome could be hazardous, result in Carbon Monoxide poisoning and hot water scalding.

I divided this gas water heater maintenance schedule into 3 parts just in case you don’t like to scroll too much. I highly recommend to read all of them but you can use quick links below to jump between them as well.

Gas water heater maintenance components that are recommended to be periodically evaluated by a professional (even that most of them can have basic tests performed by a homeowner as well):

  • Gas control (thermostat) – annually
  • Burner in a sealed combustion chamber equipped appliances – newer water heaters (2003 and later) – bi-annually
  • TPR valve – temperature & pressure relief valve – at least once a year
  • Internal flue-way – annually
  • Venting system – annually


Gas water heater maintenance components that are suggested for routine checkups performed by a homeowner:

Part 1 – you are here

  • Visual ONLY evaluation of a burner in a sealed combustion chamber equipped appliances – newer water heaters (2003 and later) – scroll down for more
  • Open combustion chamber burner maintenance – scroll down for more

Part 2 – Tank Gas Water Heater Maintenance

  • TPR valve (temperature & pressure relief valve) maintenance – can be tested by a homeowner following simple guidelines in Part 2
  • Water heater’s tank drainage – monthly
  • Internal flue-way in a natural draft water heaters annually
  • Water heater natural draft venting system maintenance – annually / partial evaluation by a homeowner can be performed
  • Gas water heater power vent system maintenance – annually / partial evaluation by a homeowner can be performed

Part 3 – Gas Water Heater Maintenance

  • Sacrificial anode rod maintenance
  • Vacation and extended shut-down of the water heater
  • Water heater’s combustion air – extremely important!

Gas water heater maintenance – sealed combustion chamber burner, visual evaluation ONLY – perform twice a year

  1. Look through the sight glass and inspect the pilot burner flame with the main burner off and the main burner Gas water heater maintenance  - examine sealed combustion chamber through the sight glasswhile firing. To activate the burner run your hot water faucet(s) for a few minutes or increase the temperature setting – remember to return dial to the original position after testing (120°F starting point is recommended).
  2. If you observe soot buildup inside the burner chamber or / and dominating yellow – orange flame, the water heater should be turned OFF and serviced by a licensed professional.
  3. If you observe any foreign objects inside the burner chamber (other than the burner and the pilot / ignition device) have it serviced by a professional ASAP

Gas Water Heater Maintenance CAUTION:
Servicing of the water heater burner contained within the sealed combustion chamber must be performed by a licensed / qualified professional. After removing the burner’s access door, its gasket must be replaced.

Gas water heater maintenance – open combustion chamber burner – perform twice a year

Gas water heater maintenance - remove both burner chamber covers for interior evaluationRemove the burner chamber covers (be careful – they may be HOT) and observe the pilot flame with the main burner off and with the main burner while firing. The only difference from the sealed combustion chamber evaluation is that you should not look into the chamber while attempting to ignite the burner!

Wait until the WH burner is on (after running hot water for a while or increasing the temperature setting) and then look inside (use safety glasses), while keeping a safe distance to prevent an injury from heat.

Malfunctioning, improperly adjusted open burner chamber water heaters may cause a flame roll-out while firing, so be careful – call a professional if something like that happens. The burner flame should light smoothly from the pilot or igniter.

Other conditions to look for inside the burner chamber while performing gas water heater maintenance:

Gas water heater maintenance - remove rust flakes from the burner and the floor shield beneath itGas water heater maintenance - leaking water heater requires immediate servicing

  • Foreign objects on top of the burner and underneath it – the only thing you should see inside the burner chamber is the burner and the pilot / igniter

  • Corrosion / rust flakes – they are not uncommon but should be carefully removed ASAP
  • Standing or dripping water – condensation is normal, especially after running hot water for a long time. However, if it doesn’t evaporate and keeps accumulating at the base of your water heater; turn off the gas shutoff valve, turn off the water shutoff valve and call the plumber.

Gas water heater maintenance / cleaning burner chamber components – follow this procedure:

  1. Turn the temperature dial to vacation setting and the pilot knob to OFF position. If the pilot stays ON, turn OFF the gas shutoff valve and call the plumber!
  2. Make sure that the water heater’s chamber interior is cool enough to perform cleaning. A vacuum cleaner attachment can be used to remove rust flakes from the burner and the floor shield beneath it. Be extremely careful around the pilot area / igniter device – some designs are very delicate and easy to damage.
  3. Any larger objects will have to be removed by hand (use safety gloves for that). Some objects you can expect (I’ve seen them all) are birds, mice, rats, and corroded flue baffle.

Gas water heater maintenance - flue baffleA flue baffle (more about it in “Gas water heater maintenance 2”) is normally suspended inside the flue, directly above the burner. After its hooks / brackets or bottom sections corrode, deteriorate, they may fall down onto the burner in which case the flue baffle requires immediate servicing / replacement – it’s a SAFETY HAZARD – call a plumber.

Please continue to Gas Tank Water Heater Maintenance Part 2 that covers TPR valve, water heater tank drainage and internal flu-way maintenance. Remember to go over all 3 Parts of the gas water heater maintenance procedures.

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House Spring Maintenance Schedule, Preventive Repairs Checklist https://www.checkthishouse.com/5301/spring-house-maintenance-spring-schedule-preventive-repairs-checklist.html Thu, 17 Mar 2011 03:14:26 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=5301 If you are looking for the spring house maintenance schedule this is the right place - click to watch the video and print the checklist.]]>

House Spring Maintenance Schedule

Roof spring maintenance
Attic spring maintenance
Exterior walls spring maintenance
Fireplace spring maintenance
Gutters and downspouts spring maintenance
Drainage spring maintenance
Sump pump spring maintenance?
Deck spring maintenance
Air conditioner spring maintenance
Landscaping spring maintenance
Exterior water faucets spring maintenance
Humidifier spring maintenance

Watch Home Maintenance videos on Youtube.com – Spring Home Maintenance

Asphalt shingles roof maintenance - your roof may be leakingLadder safety first - before you climb up the roofIf you are reading this house spring maintenance schedule, you’re most likely a homeowner wondering how to decide what needs to be done and what things should have the highest priority on your list…

There might be some obvious, critical maintenance items that require your immediate attention. Print this House Spring Maintenance Schedule and add those critical items to the checklist. DO NOT attempt to perform any of the following tasks unless you are 100% sure that you’re capable of doing it – Safety First!

House Spring Maintenance Schedule

spring house maintenance schedule - clean debris from the roof surfaceSpring house maintenance schedule - leaking roof visible from the atticSpring house maintenance tips - missing roof shingles may be responsible for leaksLet’s start this spring maintenance from the roof. Inspect its surface for damage, contamination, and house attic along with the interior ceiling surfaces for any leakage / moisture stains.

If you notice something inside, examine the roof surface again concentrating on sections corresponding to any suspect / stained areas observed in the attic or inside your house. Pay close attention to the roof valleys and around roof penetrations; such as chimneys, vents, pipes, etc.

For more details check asphalt shingles maintenance and house attic posts.

Spring home maintenance schedule - inspect attic for contamination of ventsSpring house maintenance checklist - check power vent condition, don't touch the blades or service it unless you turn off the powerAttic spring maintenance

a) Check attic vents for contamination and damaged screens. Test  attic power vent by lowering its thermostat setting – you might need a screwdriver and the attic’s temperature must be above the lowest setting of the power vent .

  • Don’t touch the blades with your hand, the motor starts automatically and can cause severe injury!
  • Cut the power off completely if the fan requires any maintenance.
  • If necessary, clean the vents to improve air circulation and replace damaged screens to prevent rodents and birds from accessing your attic.

Spring home maintenance tips - check the chimney condition within the attic Spring home maintenance tips - check the brick chimney exterior condition Spring home maintenance tips - check the metal chimney exterior condition b) One more thing in the attic; winters are often devastating for the house chimney. If it passes through the attic and there’s sufficient access to it, check its condition.

Look for corrosion on metal pipes, joints separations, brick, stone, or any other material deterioration, holes, leakage stains, etc. If you notice any problems call a professional immediately. Check the exterior condition of your chimney as well.

You can find all the details in: brick chimney problems, brick chimney crown, and other articles from chimney category.

Spring home maintenance checklist - check the roof soffitsSpring home maintenance checklist - check the roof soffit conditionHome spring maintenance checklist - check the exterior wall finishExterior walls spring maintenance

a) Check exterior wall surface and seal off any openings that could become an entry point for rodents, birds and / or insects.

b) Examine the soffits, the wall finish, and trim along the roof overhang for water stains or discoloration. Stains are usually an indication that either:

  • the ice dams might have created leaks along the roof edge
  • the roofing material or flashing is in a poor condition
  • or maybe your gutters are leaking

Spring maintenance - have the fireplace or wood stove and chimney cleaned and serviced after the cold seasonFireplace spring maintenance / Always have the fireplace or wood stove and chimney cleaned and serviced after the cold season. Even if you didn’t use it, make sure that there’s nothing obstructing the flue!

This next item is not only an important house spring maintenance schedule task, but I recommend doing it more often if you house is in a wooded area.

Spring home maintenance schedule - if you see leakage stains under the gutter, check the roof aboveSpring home maintenance schedule - reinstall downspout extensionsGutters and downspouts spring maintenance / Check the roof gutters and downspouts condition, reinstall downspout extensions removed for the cold season. Also, make sure that all of the surfaces surrounding your house have a positive slope to keep rain water flowing away from the foundation.

Everything you need to complete those task is on my website in: rain gutter maintenance and gutter downspout maintenance

Spring maintenance - clear all the ditches and culverts of debrisSpring home maintenance tips - check the sump pump operation and sump pump well conditionSpring home maintenance - reinstall sump pump discharge pipe extensionDrainage spring maintenance / To further improve drainage at your property, clear all the ditches and culverts of debris that could have accumulated over the winter.

Sump pump spring maintenance / Check the sump operation and sump pump well. Re-install sump pump exterior discharge pipe extensions removed for the cold season – house sump pump.

Spring home maintenance - check your deck and any exterior elements for deterioration◊  Deck spring maintenance / Check your deck and any exterior elements such as decking boards, deck framing, supporting posts, steps, railings, guardrails, fences, gates that might have been affected by the cold weather.

If some of the materials require refinishing, make sure that before applying a coat of paint to the surface, they are fully dry and the ambient temperature is somewhere between 70°F-75°F.

Air conditioning is one of those systems that shouldn’t be only a house spring maintenance schedule item. It usually requires more attention during the season.

Spring house maintenance - clean AC condenser before the hot season◊  Air conditioner spring maintenance / If it wasn’t done after the previous cooling season, clean the air conditioner’s condenser enclosure from lint and any debris – it will increase your home energy savings. Be careful not to damage its delicate aluminum fins that surround the exterior walls.

Turn the electrical power off before cleaning and use leaf blower and vacuum brush attachment to remove contamination. Turn the power back on after servicing.

Replace damaged or missing insulation on AC copper lines. Ideally, you should have the system checked by a professional every couple of years.

 Landscaping spring maintenance / Inspect trees surrounding your property for weak and broken branches, have them removed before they can cause an injury. Spring is also a good time to fertilize your lawn and young trees.


Home spring maintenance - test exterior water faucets for freeze damage and leaks Exterior water faucets spring maintenance / With this next step, wait until the frost danger has passed. Test exterior water faucets for freeze damage and leaks.

With an attached garden hose open the valves and while running water examine house interior areas corresponding to the valves for possible leaks (basement, crawlspace, interior wall section at the valve’s level, etc.).

Spring home maintenance - turn whole house humidifier off, drain it, clean it, and depending on the model you may need to replace some of the components Humidifier spring maintenance / Do you have a  whole house humidifier installed on your forced air furnace? If so, it is time to turn it off, drain it, clean it, and depending on the model you may need to replace some of the components. You should close the furnace humidifier damper on central heat – air conditioning combination systems.

Spring Maintenance / Add your critical items to this list and GO over to Anytime House MaintenanceHouse Safety Maintenance / Fall Maintenance.

I know you are exhausted, but if you have successfully completed all the items from the House Spring Maintenance Schedule checklist, dedicate some time for celebration :-).

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Roof Rain Gutter Downspout Maintenance & Cleaning Tips https://www.checkthishouse.com/5643/roof-rain-gutter-downspout-maintenance-downspout-cleaning.html Thu, 23 Sep 2010 20:13:02 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=5643 Roof Rain Gutter Downspout MaintenanceThe amount of the roof rain gutter downspout maintenance depends mostly on the rain gutter maintenance and the downspout bottom end / its extension condition. There's not much to worry about if you're living in a tree-free neighborhood, where your rain gutter downspout will (in most cases) require no maintenance. However, every tree located close to your house will increase the chances of losing some of your valuable time on rain gutter downspout maintenance. The closer and taller the trees are, the more maintenance might be required. The simplest method to minimize it and keep the gutter downspout interior clean is to install the rain gutter strainer. The gutter strainer will stop leafs and other debris from flowing into the downspout, and in some cases, contaminating it. You have to remember to clean the gutter strainer periodically (depending on the number of trees surrounding your house) to prevent it from blocking the water flow. Your rain gutter downspout should do OK without the gutter strainer if there are no trees in your area. Clogged Rain Gutter Downspout 1. Observe your rain gutter downspout discharge while it’s raining. If there's little or no water coming out the downspout bottom end - check the gutter outlet first (top of the downspout / at the rain gutter attachment point). If it's contaminated - clean it and watch if that improves the water flow.]]> Roof Rain Gutter Downspout Maintenance

There’s not much to worry about if you’re living in a tree-free neighborhood, where your rain gutter downspout will (in most cases) require no maintenance.

Rain gutter downspout performance depends on the gutter maintenanceRain gutter downspout maintenance - clogged downspout discharge end

However, every tree located close to your house will increase the chances of losing some of your valuable time on rain gutter downspout maintenance. The closer and taller the trees are, the more maintenance might be required.

Rain gutter downspout - gutter strainers require cleaningThe simplest method to minimize rain gutter downspout maintenance and keep the gutter downspout interior clean is to install the rain gutter strainer. The gutter strainer will stop leafs and other debris from flowing into the downspout, and in some cases, contaminating it.

You have to remember to clean the gutter strainer periodically (depending on the number of trees surrounding your house) to prevent it from blocking the water flow.

Your rain gutter downspout should do OK without the gutter strainer if there are no trees in your area.

Clogged Rain Gutter Downspout Maintenance

Observe your roof rain gutter downspout discharge while it’s raining.

If there’s little or no water coming out the downspout bottom end – check the gutter outlet first (top of the downspout / at the rain gutter attachment point). If it’s contaminated – clean it and watch if that improves the water flow.

Damaged rain gutter downspout extension causes gutters overflowing and downspouts crackingIf your roof rain gutter is still full of water, the gutter outlet is clean, and not much is coming out of the downspout – start by checking the condition of the downspout bottom end (most likely at the point of a curve), and / or its extension (especially the flexible type). Be careful while doing it, though.

If the bottom end is clogged, there might several gallons of water just waiting for you to open the clogged section.

Top point of a downspout curve is the most common spot to look for a clogBottom point of a downspout curve is the most common spot to look for a clogIf the bottom appears clean and there’s no mechanical damage, you’ll have to work your way down the gutter downspout. The clogging debris usually accumulates at the first or second point of curve, right below the soffit level.

You can try to unclog the downspout with a plumbing snake by fishing it down through the rain gutter outlet. Anything long enough that is small in diameter, flexible, and strong enough to be pushed through a few downspout curves will work fine too. One of the examples would be an electrical “fish tape”, just be prepared for it to corrode, unless you happened to have a fiberglass type.

Continue your  rain gutter downspout maintenance and keep turning / wiggling the snake line if it gets stuck on any of the curves or obstructions until you get through. Try to go in and out a few times to push down or break loose as much of the accumulated material as possible.  The sound of the rushing water and a suddenly emptying rain gutter will confirm your success.

If your roof rain gutter was empty, insert the garden hose into the downspout’s top opening and open the water valve – full blast.  This should clear any remaining deposits from the clogged area.

Roof Rain Gutter Downspout Maintenance – Back Seam

Clogged rain gutter downspouts, or their extensions, hold the water inside. The water freezes during the cold season and expands / cracks the seams open. When it gets warmer, the downspout spills water onto the wall behind the open seam, even after the clogging has been removed.

Rain gutter downspout seam cracked - rain gutter maintenance pictureLook between the gutter and the house wall to see if it is intact. If the gutter downspout surface looks uneven – the seam is most likely broken. Other signs of the broken downspout seam might be a stain on the wall, deterioration of the house wall material, and/or interior wall damage in the area corresponding to the downspout.

You can try to squeeze the gutter seam together – sometimes it will snap back in, sometimes you’ll need to replace this damaged section.

Roof Rain Gutter Downspout Maintenance & Underground Drains

Some jurisdictions do not allow underground drains anymore and require home owners to discharge rain water from their roof gutter downspouts onto the surface. Others may require to use those drains.

Extend rain gutter downspout into the underground drain pipeIf your gutter’s downspouts run into an underground drain, do not permanently secure that connection, allow for expansion and contraction during the cold season. Just make sure that the downspout section is slightly inserted into the underground drain opening to prevent water from splashing onto the wall finishes. Also, install the gutter strainer to lower the amount of debris flowing into the drain.

Roof Rain Gutter Downspout Maintenance – Extension

The further the gutter’s downspout extensions run from the house, the better. Their installation directly benefits your house and various components around it.  The following are just some of the most important:

  • lower amount of water that might penetrate foundation walls
  • lower pressure that water saturated soil puts on the foundation walls
  • it helps to prevent house foundation cracking and uneven settlement
  • it helps to prevent cracking, settlement, and displacement of the house’s surrounding hard surfaces


However, any sections of the extensions resting on the ground surface that are left attached to the rain gutter downspout for the cold season will most likely freeze up. The ice will eventually build back up to the downspout preventing drainage and causing downspout seams to crack – one of the reasons you need rain gutter downspout maintenance.

If your downspout extends almost to the ground level, disconnect that long extension as soon as the temperatures start dropping below freezing point. Also, make sure that the bottom discharge end is clean.

Cut back the downspout and elevate it above the ground before the cold seasonAnother option is to cut a section of the gutter downspout attached to the wall, so its extension starts higher above the ground. At the same time you also keep the extension suspended / supported above the ground level.

For practical reasons / in some high traffic locations around your house, this rain gutter downspout extension setup may not be possible, but it is something to consider.

And the next step is to get your roof rain gutter downspout maintenance rolling 🙂

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How to Clean Gutters and Other Gutter Cleaning Tips https://www.checkthishouse.com/5618/rain-gutter-maintenance-gutter-leaf-guard-gutter-screen.html Mon, 20 Sep 2010 03:05:39 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=5618 Routine gutters cleaning may prevent corrosion of a steel gutterLearning how to clean gutters is one of the most important house maintenance tasks to perform on the exterior of your property. Neglecting rain gutter cleaning and its maintenance might result in damage and costly repairs of the soffit, fascia, house wall (exterior and interior), roof decking surfaces, and other structures surrounding your property.

Rain gutter cleaning must be performed more often if there are trees surrounding your house or if there are trees in the near neighborhood. During the fall, when all those trees start shedding their leaves, you may need to have gutter cleaning performed several times.
Remember to perform your final rain gutter cleaning, gutter maintenance and downspout maintenance / check-up at the end of the fall, when all tree leaves have disappeared.

The safest method to find out how your gutters are performing and if the gutter cleaning would be required is to go outside during the rain and check your downspouts.

If there’s very little / no water discharging from the roof downspouts, or water is overflowing the gutter edges, you have a few possible problems:

  • the gutter or the downspout itself is clogged – downspout or rain gutter cleaning is required
  • the rain gutter has a negative slope – away from the downspout, and needs to be repositioned to discharge water properly (1/4″ slope per every 10 linear feet of the gutter will minimize your gutter cleaning efforts, of course, more would be better )
  • section of the gutter is sagging – that happens occasionally as a result of loose nails / screws / brackets holding the gutter in place (separating from fascia board), contamination (weight of dirt, leafs and debris accumulated along the rain gutter) – gutter cleaning and / or just repositioning would be required
  • if you have lots of water discharging from your downspout and still have an overflowing gutter, you might need to replace your gutter system or at least the downspouts with a larger diameter

How to clean gutters #1

For a lightly contaminated rain gutter cleaning you can use a regular garden hose and flush all the deposits towards the downspout, then pick up anything that didn’t make its way down in the downspout attachment area.

It might be possible to perform your gutter cleaning from the ground by using a garden hose attachment / extension. In case you have some type of the gutter leaf guards installed, you’ll need to remove them first.

However, such gutter cleaning procedure may not work on years of deposits inside the gutter and you’ll need to pick up all the decomposed leaves and debris by hand.

While performing gutter cleaning use utility gloves (preferably rubberized) to protect your hands from gutters sharp edges and joint screws. Safety glasses are also recommended.

For the clogged downspout, try to use your garden hose – just make sure the bottom of the downspout is open and free of debris before you stick the hose into the top opening.

Filling a completely clogged rain gutter downspout with water will put a lot of stress on all joints and downspout brackets – it might cause your entire downspout assembly to collapse. For more about downspout maintenance follow this link: Roof rain gutter downspout cleaning.

Flushing the gutter or downspout with a garden hose while standing on top of the ladder is hazardous. Water filled garden hose is heavy and might pull you down from the ladder – ideally, it should be secured / anchored above the area you’re working on / not to the ladder!

There are various tools available on the market and some of them might speed-up your gutter maintenance process, but the old-fashioned way (100% manual) will give you the most satisfaction :-), just be extremely careful and outsource it if you don’t fell 100% comfortable with gutter cleaning by yourself.

How to clean gutters #2 – Gutter seams

Learn how to clean gutters and seal leaking gutter corner seams

All it takes to repair a leaking rain gutter seam is a few minutes of your time – perform gutter cleaning in this leaking area, remove all debris and contamination, and apply Dap 27062 Butyl-Flex Gutter and Flashing Caulk, or a similar sealant designed for that purpose.
After it stops raining, look at the gutter corners, around the downspout attachment area, and any other seams.

Depending on the installation, a leaking seam may or may not cause any problems. Surface beneath the gutter protected by a good quality paint (no matter how good it is, it will not last forever), or aluminum capping will survive that leak.

Gutter cleaning - if you see leakage stains under the gutter, check the roof condition aboveYou have to look for damage in the area directly next and below the leaking gutter seam, there might be a rotten soffit / fascia board, deteriorating brick or mortar, water damaged siding or even moisture / water penetrating the interior of the house.

If you notice any stains underneath the rain gutter, I’d also recommend to check the roof surface directly above this area – it might be already damaged.

On taller houses, with roofs above the tree line, gutter cleaning may only be required once a year (or every couple of years), usually in the downspout attachment area. However, their seams might break and start leaking periodically as well.

How to clean gutters #3 – Gutter cleaning may prevent corrosion

Rain gutter maintenance - gutter cleaning may prevent corrosion, holes in the gutter bottom surfaceRain gutter maintenance - leaking gutter patchIt all depends on the amount of rain gutter corrosion – seeing slightly corroded gutter bottom might be a sign of a heavily corroded interior, and in that case the gutter or its section would most likely require replacement. However, if you are creative… roofing cement, aluminum foil, silicon, electrical tape, duct tape, and many other materials can be used. It might not look beautiful but sometimes it works for a while

If the metal gutter material feels solid, remove as much rust as possible with a steel wool, treat the area with a liquid rust remover, apply the rust converter and than mach the gutter color with some corrosion resistant paint.

Routine rain gutter cleaning may often prevent corrosion. Simply because there would be no standing water inside the gutter or contaminated sections where trapped moisture accelerates deterioration process of rain gutter material such as copper, aluminum, or galvanized steel.

How to clean gutters #4 – Rain gutter guards and screens

Rain gutter guards and screens help to lower the amount of maintenance and gutter cleaning. There are several different types of rain gutter guards, so do some research before you spend money. I personally recommend plastic guards, which I installed on my own gutters several years ago.

Rain gutter maintenance - leaf guard (brown color on the picture) minimizes gutter cleaning requirementRain gutter maintenance - leaf guard (white color visible on the picture) helps to maintain clean guttersThey have round holes on the surface and a fine screen / micro mash on top of it. This prevents debris falling off the trees from contaminating the gutter. Anything that accumulates on top of the screen will be eventually washed off by the rain or blown off the surface with the wind, thus reducing your gutter cleaning tasks to minimum.

There’s another version of this guard without the screen, it is slightly cheaper but allows smaller leaves and debris to penetrate and eventually clog the gutter.

Another thing to consider is the rain gutter guard color – this particular type comes in white and brown, at least in my local home improvement stores. Believe it or not, the color has some impact on the amount of your gutter cleaning time.

Why is the rain gutter screen / guard color important – if your roof receives a lot of sun, brown gutter guards made out of plastic will absorb lots of heat and start bending and changing its dimensions over time. This is what happened on my roof and resulted in significant gaps between individual sections … and more rain gutter cleaning / maintenance.

So, a white gutter guard (plastic) will perform better, and if you could get a similar product in long sections to avoid seams, your gutters will be almost maintenance free.

There is a variety of other products that minimize your gutter cleaning efforts (or at lest this is what they claim) on the market like foam and brush-like inserts that in my opinion will require a lot of maintenance. For those who are willing to invest some serious money, there’s a Gutter Helmet® system (and a few other similar products) that achieve the same goal as a simple plastic screen with a micro mash.

How to clean gutters #5 – Rain gutter strainers

Clean gutters on regular basis to prevent overflowing - plastic strainerAnother thing that helps to cut our rain gutter cleaning time or rather downspout cleaning is a gutter strainers. Those small devices are installed inside or on top of the rain gutter outlet, in most cases partially inserted into the downspout. They prevent leafs and debris from clogging your downspouts and work fine for as long as you perform gutter cleaning on regular basis. Leafs and debris that start accumulating around the strainer will eventually block it completely, and cause the gutter to overflow.

I highly recommend using rain gutter strainer if your downspout discharges into an underground drain and if there are any trees in the vicinity of your property – just remember to clean it periodically!

However, if you have no trees at / and / or around your property, the rain gutter strainer is not necessary. Small debris carried by wind will simply flow down the downspout without accumulating around the strainer and having any negative impact on gutter cleaning efforts.

In such case a missing strainer may save you from gutter cleaning.

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GFCI Maintenance | Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter Testing https://www.checkthishouse.com/5571/gfci-maintenance-ground-fault-circuit-interrupter-testing.html Wed, 15 Sep 2010 01:21:22 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=5571 GFCI maintenance is a very simple and extremely important procedure. Just like many other house maintenance tasks, maintaining functional and properly operating GFCI outlet receptacles will ensure that you and your family are protected from a ground fault. Ground Fault - it's when the electricity, instead of following its normal path - electrical wire - passes through a person's body to the ground. That person becomes a conductor (wire) and you may know this condition as an electrical shock. * Never paint GFCI outlet receptacle! If you've just moved into the house and installed GFCI's are covered with paint - replace them immediately. Removing paint from their surface is not enough, even if Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter appears to be responding to the test buttons. * Never insert into an outlet receptacle objects other than a plug designed for its configuration. * Avoid spilling liquids onto the device - it could result in permanent damage or malfunctioning. Testing is the most important part of the GFCI maintenance routine and it should be performed on monthly basis. The reason is very simple - Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter outlet receptacles are just like any other electronic devices - sometimes they fail.]]>

GFCI maintenance is an extremely important and simple procedure

It is a very simple and extremely important procedure. Just like many other house maintenance tasks, maintaining functional and properly operating GFCI outlet receptacles will ensure that you and your family are protected from a ground fault.

Ground Fault – it’s when the electricity, instead of following its normal path – electrical wire – passes through a person’s body to the ground. That person becomes a conductor (wire) and you may know this condition as an electrical shock.

  • Never paint  GFCI outlet receptacle! If you’ve just moved into the house and installed GFCI’s are covered with paint – replace them immediately. Removing paint from their surface is not enough, even if Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter appears to be responding to the test buttons.
  • Never insert into an outlet receptacle objects other than a plug designed for its configuration.
  • Avoid spilling liquids onto the device – it could result in permanent damage or malfunctioning.

Testing is the most important part of the GFCI maintenance routine and it should be performed on monthly basis. The reason is very simple – Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter outlet receptacles are just like any other electronic devices – sometimes they fail.

There are two simple ways to perform this test:

GFCI Maintenance – Testing Method #1

1. Plug a lamp into the GFCI outlet receptacle 2. Push the “TEST” button on the GFCI – it should trip and cut the power to the lamp. In some devices the RESET button will pop out, in others the button will appear to be staying in the same position, you just hear the click immediately after depressing “TEST” button. 3. If the lamp is still ON after pressing “TEST” button (some devices also have an indicator light), your GFCI outlet receptacle could be improperly wired or damaged, and you are not protected – call a licensed electrician

GFCI Maintenance – Testing Method#2

This will cost you a few bucks (literally), but with a simple testing device you’ll be able to detect a potential life threatening problem immediately, and test all of your outlets – it’s worth it! Basic GFCI testers can be purchased in any local hardware store or online for under $10.00.

1. Insert your tester into the GFCI outlet (or GFCI protected outlet).

2. View the indicators on the tester and compare them with the chart attached to its body – this is to verify that the power is ON and that the outlet is wired properly.

3. If the readout indicates a problem, consult a licensed electrician.

4. If circuit appears to be wired properly, push the GFCI TEST button on top of the device – the GFCI outlet should trip and tester lights go OFF.

5. If the tester fails to trip GFCI outlet, there is either some wiring problem or faulty GFCI outlet – call a licensed electrician I highly recommend to familiarize yourself with currently required GFCI locations and if you decide to upgrade your home with those safety devices, I have a GFCI installation manual ready for you – enjoy it :-).

This is it, you’ve just learned how to perform basic GFCI maintenance and testing – don’t forget to do it on monthly basis.

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Smoke Alarm Maintenance, Cleaning, and Battery Replacement https://www.checkthishouse.com/5558/smoke-alarm-maintenance-cleaning-and-battery-replacement.html https://www.checkthishouse.com/5558/smoke-alarm-maintenance-cleaning-and-battery-replacement.html#comments Sat, 11 Sep 2010 03:36:01 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=5558 Test the smoke alarm once a week by pressing the Test-Reset buttonSmoke alarm maintenance (and smoke detector) is a very simple task and should be performed in addition to weekly testing and yearly battery replacement (some manufacturers might suggest to replace the battery twice a year) - put it on your house maintenance priority list! ]]> Test the smoke alarm once a week by pressing the Test-Reset button

Smoke Alarm Maintenance


Smoke alarm maintenance - Smoke alarms have a limited lifetime and require replacement at least every 10 yearsAs a part of smoke alarm maintenance test the alarm once a week by pressing the Test-Reset button

Smoke alarm maintenance is another very simple task that should be performed in addition to weekly smoke alarm testing and yearly battery replacement (some manufacturers might suggest to replace the battery twice a year) – put it on your house maintenance priority list!

  • Before you start any smoke alarm maintenance, check its age – if the alarm is more than 10 years old, replace it immediately because its sensor response could be delayed, or it might not even respond at all.

Smoke alarm and smoke detector are two different devicesSmoke alarms and smoke detectors are two slightly different devices, but they both require maintenance – find out the smoke alarm and smoke detector difference.

Periodical smoke alarm maintenance involves cleaning dust, dirt, and any debris that might have accumulated in small openings and screens covering its sensors.

Never paint smoke alarms or smoke detectors, to avoid clogging of their sensors – this voids warranty and could result in a false alarm or no response in an emergency.

Smoke alarm maintenance - if you have a fire alarm system installed in your home - contact service provider before testingIf your house is equipped with a security / alarm system, smoke and / or carbon monoxide detectors might be a part of it. Performing smoke alarm maintenance or testing could result in an alarm buzzing at the security company, police, and / or fire department.

If you’re not sure how your system is set up, contact your security system provider and consult with them prior to attempting any maintenance.


 

Smoke alarm testing schedule sheet to print and place it in your home
SMOKE DETECTOR TESTING SCHEDULE

Click on the image (link opens in a new window) and print your smoke alarm testing schedule for the entire year.

Put this smoke alarm testing reminder on your refrigerator, message board… whatever, just remember to do it often! You can involve your kids into the smoke alarm testing and have them mark the schedule every week


 

DANGER – ELECTRICAL SHOCK HAZARD –
Disconnect Power Before Performing any Smoke Alarm Maintenance

If your smoke alarm is a hard wired type (remove the device from its socket to see if there are wires attached to it), make sure that you turn the power OFF or unplug the wires from the back of the device before cleaning it or changing the battery.

Smoke Alarm Maintenance – Cleaning

  • An alarm should be cleaned at least once a month, especially in homes equipped with forced air heating and air conditioning systems. Dust particles moving with circulating air can easily contaminate your smoke alarm and compromise its response. You can easily clean a smoke alarm using a soft brush or a vacuum cleaner with a wand attachment.
  • Vacuum all sides of the device and its cover, making sure that all openings are free of dust, debris, and cobwebs.
  • Make sure there’s no painter’s masking tape blocking its vents.
  • Some of the alarms have removable covers which you can clean using soapy water.

While performing smoke alarm maintenance do not force the cover off the alarm if it appears to be permanently attached, and do not clean the electronic components of the safety device – never submerge the smoke alarm in water! This will void your warranty and you may permanently damage the device.

During smoke alarm maintenance do not spray the device with cleaning agents or waxes, abrasive cleansers, or any cleaner containing ammonia. Such liquids may compromise performance or permanently damage the sensors inside your alarm.

 

Smoke Alarm Maintenance – Battery Replacement

Do Not Use Rechargeable Batteries in smoke alarms. Only alkaline type batteries should be used.

Smoke alarm maintenance - swing type alarm coverSmoke alarm maintenance - pull-out type battery compartmentSmoke alarm maintenance - swing type battery compartmentFor this next smoke alarm maintenance item turn off the power to the hard wired smoke alarm and remove the back-up battery from its compartment.

This might be as simple as sliding out a small drawer containing a battery (found on the front or side of the alarm), lifting a battery compartment cover, twisting the entire device, or removing it from the socket to expose a battery compartment, etc. – each manufacturer might have a slightly different design.

  • Battery connector might be a part of the compartment or just a set of terminals attached to a wire – be careful while removing it from the battery, don’t pull by the wires!

Continue smoke alarm maintenance, snap a new battery in place, and fully close the compartment. If it was removed – secure the alarm back in place, turn the power back on, and test device using its TEST button.

  • In some smoke alarms, you must fully close the battery compartment in order to close the circuit / engage battery terminals – if the compartment is left partially open, and the power goes OFF, there will be no protection.

Remember to replace the battery at least once a year, or immediately after hearing a low battery indicator chirp – extremely important part of the smoke alarm maintenance. Even if your smoke alarm is powered by your home electrical system and the battery is only a back-up, replace it before it becomes too weak to alert you in an emergency and / or when the power goes off.

If you neglect this smoke alarm maintenance item by just removing old battery from your smoke alarm without replacing it because that chirping noise becomes annoying, you are dramatically lowering your chances of surviving a disaster since the alarm will not sound / don’t compromi.

One more thing – you have to make sure that your smoke alarm placement is correct – without it, even a functional alarm might not sound at all.

This concludes your smoke alarm maintenance education – don’t forget to implement it on regular basis!

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Carbon Monoxide Alarm Maintenance | CO Alarm Testing https://www.checkthishouse.com/5540/carbon-monoxide-alarm-maintenance-co-alarm-testing.html Wed, 08 Sep 2010 22:02:13 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=5540 Carbon Monoxide Warning LabelCarbon monoxide alarm maintenance doesn't require any special skills from you. However, just like the smoke alarm maintenance it is something that should become a routine for you. Those few minutes dedicated to CO alarm maintenance and testing might be a difference between life and death.]]> Carbon Monoxide Warning Label

CO alarm maintenance - Test the CO alarm once a week by pressing the Test - Reset buttonCarbon Monoxide Warning LabelCO alarm maintenance – this another extremely important house maintenance task doesn’t require any special skills from you. However, just like the smoke alarm maintenance it is something that should become a routine for you. A few minutes dedicated to CO alarm maintenance and testing might be a difference between life and death.

Between 1999 and 2004, Carbon Monoxide poisoning contributed to 16,447 deaths in the United States… just a few minutes of their time could lower those numbers.

If your house has been equipped with a security / burglar alarm – contact your service provider and let them know about testing and CO alarm maintenance procedures. CO alarm / detector might be a part of the system. While testing the alarm, you may want to cover the siren opening with your fingers – properly functioning CO alarm will be very loud.

An important CO alarm maintenance item is testing it once a week by pressing the Test/Reset button – simple, isn’t it…

Depending on the design and manufacturer, the response of the CO alarm may be different, usually you should hear one short beep followed by a few seconds of silence, and a few additional beeps. This might be in addition to a blinking light, strobe like effect, or voice warning announcement.

CO alarm dead space - carbon monoxide installed in a wrong area1. Start CO alarm maintenance from examining its location, it’s as important as regular CO alarm maintenance and testing. If the alarm has been installed improperly, in a wrong spot, it might not respond to an elevated carbon monoxide level as soon as it supposed to, or not respond at all.

Check the following link – where to install CO detector, or at least watch the short video below that shows those locations.

CO alarms have a limited lifespan, the average is around five years, but some might have as little as 2 year warranty

2. Check the manufacturer date on you CO alarm (there’ should be a label attached to the back wall of the device) and contact its manufacturer (the easiest way would be to check their website) to determine the life span of this particular model.

CO alarm has a limited life-span

The average life-span is around five years, but some might have as little as 2 year warranty, while others 6-10 years. Replace with a new device immediately if you confirm that its warranty has already expired.

3. Another step in CO alarm maintenance procedures is vacuuming – do it once a month / remove accumulated dust from its cover. The soft brush attachment from your vacuum cleaner is the best for this purpose. If your carbon monoxide alarm is a plug-in or hard wired type  – unplug / disconnect the alarm from the electrical power supply before vacuuming.

CO alarm maintenance - avoid installing plugin type carbon monoxide alarms in areas easily accessible by children4. Always instruct children never to touch, unplug or otherwise interfere with the CO alarm. Educate children of the dangers of Carbon Monoxide poisoning.

5. Never use any detergents or solvents for CO alarm maintenance purposes. Chemicals can temporarily contaminate the sensor or cause permanent damage to this life saving device.

6. Never use air fresheners, spray paint, hair spray, or any other aerosols in the CO alarm area.

7. Do not paint the CO alarm enclosure. Paint will seal the vents / screens protecting the sensor and interfere with its proper operation.

8. Believe it or not, but mounting the CO alarm directly above or near a diaper pail can cause faulty readings on the digital display (high amounts of methane gas).

9. Before you begin:

  • staining or stripping wood floors
  • furniture painting
  • wall-papering using aerosols or adhesives

10. Remove the CO alarm from the location you’ll be performing this work in order to prevent possible damage or contamination of its sensor. You may also cover the unit with a plastic bag for the duration of the project – remember to remove the plastic and / or reinstall the CO alarm as soon as the work has been completed and area well ventilated.

Do Not Use Rechargeable Batteries in Carbon Monoxide alarms. Only alkaline type batteries should be used. Replace the batteries as soon as the unit starts chirping an audible low battery alarm, and blinking warning lights – don’t just remove the old batteries – REPLACE THEM as soon as possible!

High levels of the substances listed below can affect the CO alarm sensor. Their presence could result in temporary readings on the digital display that are actually not carbon monoxide readings:

Methane, propane, iso-butane, ethylene, ethanol, alcohol, iso-propanol, benzene, toluene, ethyl acetate, hydrogen, hydrogen sulfide, sulfur dioxides, most aerosol sprays, alcohol based products, paints, thinners, solvents, adhesives, hair sprays, after shaves, perfumes, auto exhaust (cold start) and some cleaning agents.

Two of the major CO alarm manufacturers and links to pages where you can locate manuals (please report to me if any of the links are broken);

Kidde Carbon Monoxide Alarms

First Alert Detectors

Never ignore an alarming CO alarm! It is warning you of a potentially deadly hazard.

Go ahead, start your CO alarm maintenance and testing right now!

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House Safety Maintenance Checklist – Do It Now https://www.checkthishouse.com/5304/house-safety-maintenance-checklist-do-it-now.html Thu, 02 Sep 2010 04:01:33 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=5304 All of the house safety maintenance checklist items listed below are extremely important for household members, especially for children. While performing home inspections I’ve noticed that many home owners, parents of small children, are simply not aware about the critical safety issues in their homes.

They don’t realize that sometimes things need to be updated / replaced / maintained to perform as required, and to provide protection. Execute the following house safety maintenance checklist as soon as possible and keep educating everyone in your family about hazardous conditions.

House safety maintenance #1 – Prepare and review a fire escape plan with your family

House safety maintenance - basement safety windowHouse safety maintenance - basement safety window label

  • Make sure that everyone knows about hidden keys to locked doors leading to exterior.
  • Maintain functional windows in areas that could provide safety escape route, such as basement windows – people sometimes replace safety escape type windows with regular ones or block / seal them permanently.
  • Make sure that your basement windows and window wells guards / bars can be easily removed from interior.

House safety maintenance #2

House safety maintenance - install GFCI outlet receptacles in required locationsMaintain functional GFCI outlets / Install GFCI outlets in bathrooms, kitchens, wet bar sink areas, garages, exterior, laundry area (within 6′ from the sink edge), crawlspace, unfinished basement – GFCI locations

If you don’t have GFCI protected outlet receptacles in any or some of those areas, you’re not obligated to update them (unless you’re replacing it for some reason). But… your life might depend on one of those devices and such a small investment is definitely worth considering. Learn how to install GFCI outlet and  GFCI outlet maintenance / testing procedures – recommended on monthly basis.

Smoke alarm testing schedule sheet to print and place it in your home

Put a reminder of this next house safety maintenance item (#3) in your phone calendar, tape a note to your refrigerator, computer monitor… whatever, just remember to do it often! 

Click on the image (link opens in a new window) and print your smoke alarm testing schedule for the entire year. Mark each week after you test the alarm!

House safety maintenance #3

Maintain functional and properly installed smoke & Carbon Monoxide alarms on each floor of your property (including basement) and in each sleeping area (within 15′ from the sleeping area in some jurisdictions). Replace smoke alarms every 10 years (max) and CO alarms based on the manufacturer recommendation (usually every 5 years). Test the smoke and CO alarms once a week, clean their covers periodically from dust, and change the batteries twice a year.

For those life saving devices to perform properly they must be installed in the right location; check smoke alarm locations and Carbon Monoxide alarm locations.

House safety maintenance #4

House safety maintenance - replace clothes dryer plastic vent pipes with metal oneshouse safety maintenanceLook behind your clothes dryer and immediately replace its vent pipe if it is plastic – it’s a fire hazard. Use a metal vent pipe, as short as possible, preferably solid / smooth wall, clean it often to prevent it from clogging – read more about clothes dryer vent requirements.

House safety maintenance #5

Clean your dryer filters after every cycle, check vent pipe and exterior cover for contamination on regular basis

House safety maintenance #6

House safety maintenance - uncoated brass flexible gas connectors pose safety, fire, explosion hazard and should be immediately replacedReplace uncoated brass gas appliance connectors immediately. Those flexible gas connectors were banned decades ago but are still in use in many homes – it’s a serious safety / fire / explosion hazard. Check all house appliances utilizing gas as a fuel.

House safety maintenance critical with small children!

House safety maintenance #7

Guardrail pickets must be less than 4 inches apartHouse safety maintenance - climbable balcony guardrails are not permitted - watch your childrenMake sure that stair handrails and guardrails (including balcony) are secured and safe for your children. You can find more in in  Stair handrails and guardrails safety and balcony safety.

House safety maintenance #8

House safety maintenance - clothes closet light fixtures must be fully enclosed - no exposed light bulbsCloset light safety - plush teddy bear touching exposed incandescent light bulb will be set on fire within a few minutes, or soonerProvide full covers for all exposed light bulbs in clothes closet areas. Another easy to correct but hazardous item of the house safety maintenance checklist. Stuffed animals, pillows, plastic and paper bags – you name it – your child can simply pull the chain and forget to turn that closet light bulb OFF…

House safety maintenance #9

House safety maintenance - laundry chute mounted flush with the floor is large enough for a small child to fall throughHouse safety maintenance - laundry chute mounted flush with the floor poses safety hazard for small childrenMake sure that your laundry chute is not within the reach of a small child. I find this item completely neglected in many homes – it’s scary – make sure you check Laundry chute safety.

House safety maintenance #10

Garage fire wall - garage - house entrance door should be self - fully closingInstall self closing device on a door between your home and the garage / make sure it is a solid and fire rated door. This will minimize possibility of carbon monoxide, fire, and smoke penetration of your home – check attached garage firewall.

House safety maintenance #11

Garage door opener safety sensors improperly installed above the opener - at ceiling levelTest the garage door opener auto reverse feature, make sure that the safety sensors are within 6″ from the floor, make sure that the overhead door can be operated easily without the opener – details in garage door opener safety posts.

I hope that you’ll follow this house safety maintenance checklist and that it will make your house a better place.

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House Roof Asphalt Shingles Maintenance Tips https://www.checkthishouse.com/5449/house-roof-asphalt-shingle-maintenance-tips.html Mon, 30 Aug 2010 21:30:12 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=5449 Roof asphalt shingles maintenance - your roof may be leakingHouse roof asphalt shingles maintenance process can be divided into three steps and performed twice a year – fall, and spring (unless you notice something alarming in between the roof maintenance checkups). This will give you a more complete picture of the asphalt shingles roof condition, even if it is a brand new roof – trust me.

Put this task on top of your house maintenance exterior schedule, as soon as you spot a problem, don’t delay any repairs – do it before you start remodeling interior of your property.

Step 1 – Asphalt shingles roof exterior evaluation
Step 2 – Asphalt shingles roof decking / house ceiling and attic evaluation
Step 3 – Asphalt shingles roof repairs and replacement

Amount of the required house roof asphalt shingles maintenance depends on the property surroundings, roof shape, shingle colors, quality of the workmanship, attic or cathedral ceiling ventilation, your geographical location, etc.

Step 1 – House asphalt shingles maintenance – roof exterior evaluation

If you have a single story home, the safest (but limited) method of inspecting asphalt shingle roof surface would be from the ground, preferably with a pair of binoculars .

Inspecting asphalt shingle roof from the ground has significant limitations / because of the angle you’ll be looking at the roof surface, and detailed evaluation will not be possible. However, before you climb up the roof or start making any repairs, try to visually memorize any “out of ordinary” areas observed from the ground, continue to Step 2 to ensure that there’s a solid decking beneath the shingles, and come back outside to compare your observations.

While performing asphalt shingles maintenance look for:

  • broken / cracked shingles
  • displaced shingles
  • missing shingles
  • curling asphalt shingles edges
  • washed out protective granules from the shingle surface
  • nails penetrating the asphalt shingle surface
  • uneven house asphalt shingle roof surface – significantly sagging or buckling areas
  • debris accumulating on surface
  • discoloration of shingle roof surface
  • loose, displaced, contaminated, corroded, leaking gutters

or anything that simply put – doesn’t look right.

If you think that there is no more room for asphalt shingles maintenance, consider new roof – if you’re from IL, click the link to get Illinois replacement roof cost using my calculator.

Asphalt shingles roof maintenance - leaf contaminated valley shingles deteriorate much fasterPay special attention to the valleys on your asphalt shingle roof because they tend to deteriorate much faster than open / flat surfaces. Especially if you let debris and leafs accumulate and decompose for a few seasons inside the asphalt shingle roof valley.

Also, carefully inspect flashing around the roof penetrations – this includes the chimney, plumbing vents, skylights, and anything that is attached to the roof or penetrates the roof asphalt shingle roof surface. There should not be any cracks / separations along the seams. Follow the roof edges looking for loose / displaced pieces of trim, rotten soffit, and fascia.

If you have a tall house and / or low pitch roof, it might not be possible to get a good observation angle even with the binoculars. In such case, you’ll need a professional roofing contractor to perform this evaluation, and if necessary, proceed with asphalt shingle roof maintenance / repairs… unless you feel 100% capable of doing it yourself.

Ladder safety first - before you climb up the roofIf you decide to climb up the ladder to perform asphalt shingles maintenance;

1. make sure you’ve already followed Step 2 / attic evaluation – it’s very important to perform this 2nd step because it might save you from falling through your roof while working on its surface


2. check Ladder safety guidelines. It’s sometimes very painful not to follow the basics of safety.
Some important tips on using the ladder:

  • Check your ladder for any damage before climbing, make sure it can support your weight
  • Make sure it stands on a solid, flat surface to prevent it from tipping over – don’t use any small objects (stones, bricks, etc.) to level it
  • Never lean the ladder against the chimney unless you’re are absolutely sure it can support it
  • Avoid windy days
  • Secure the ladder if possible to prevent if from sliding away from the roof when unattended
  • read the Ladder safety guidelines again!

Asphalt shingles roof maintenance - step on shingles with caution, some might be loose and slide from under your foot Some of the asphalt shingles might be loose, improperly secured, and even if they look OK, might slide out from under your foot – be extremely careful / watch your step – feel the area before you fully shift your body weight onto your  foot.

Loose shingles are common on multi-layer asphalt shingle roofs where the installer used shorter than required roofing nails – they need to penetrate old shingles layer(s) and the roof decking.
Asphalt shingles roof maintenance - never step on cables while evaluating roof surfaceNever step on cables / wires left on the roof surface, they will roll under your foot and you may loose your balance. If your asphalt shingle roof looks suspicious / uneven, heavily deteriorated, it is wet, frost / ice / snow covered, or appears too steep – don’t step on it!

Stay away from the roof edges, especially along the gutters – decking surface might be rotten and won’t support your body weight.

So, you’ve noticed some problems on your asphalt shingle roof surface, checked the attic / house ceilings for water damage, and learned the ladder safety abc’s.

Now it’s time to perform repairs if necessary and put a check-mark next to your house roof asphalt shingles maintenance entry.

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Fall Maintenance Tips | Exterior Fall Maintenance Check List https://www.checkthishouse.com/5295/house-exterior-maintenance-tips-fall.html Sun, 29 Aug 2010 02:57:35 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=5295 Exterior fall maintenance tips for your house performed during the last days of summer and through the fall season should prepare your property for the cold weather extremes.

Follow this  exterior fall maintenance tips / check list and pick whatever applies to your property, never delay it until the next month – you might be too late.

House exterior fall maintenance tips - repair damaged roofHouse exterior fall maintenance tips - seal all roof penetrations, flashings1. Start your preventive exterior fall maintenance by checking the roof surface for any damage and repair it if necessary, inspect flashing around penetrations, seal the gaps.

Remember that climbing the ladder and walking the roof is dangerous, you must be comfortable with it! Get a professional help if necessary – this also applies to some of the following list items.

House exterior fall maintenance tips - repair damaged chimneyFall maintenance tips - install screen around the chimney cap2. Second on the fall maintenance tips list is chimney inspection. Examine exterior walls for deterioration, ensure that its top is sealed around the flue, and that it has a rain cap installed.

Newer attempt to use a house chimney to support the ladder – it’s a general warning, but in many cases following it might save your life.

3. This item from the house’s exterior fall maintenance tips list applies to your chimney as well – examine / install protective screens around the chimney cap to prevent birds from falling into the flue during the cold season – use caution just like in the previous two paragraphs or outsource it!

Exterior fall maintenance tips - clean contaminated gutter and downspouts before the winterNumber 4 on our exterior fall maintenance tips list is to secure and clean gutters and clogged downspouts, seal leaking seams, disconnect long extensions resting on the ground to prevent them from freezing.

Even if you have gutter guards / screens installed, check the areas close to the downspout to ensure that they are clean. Check those two posts for more details about downspout maintenance & gutter maintenance.

House exterior fall maintenance tips - repair, refinish house soffit, fascia and trim5. Soffit, fascia, house trim – not only the fall maintenance tips items but extremely important before the cold season. Check them for moisture damage, replace missing sections to minimize rodents penetration, scrape loose paint, caulk, and apply new coat of paint.

Surface temperature should be above 50F for painting, otherwise it will not stick properly, and you’ll have to re-do the whole thing in a season or two.

Seal all wall penetrations to prevent air drafts, moisture and insects from getting in - home maintenance check listExterior fall maintenance check list #6. Check all penetrations – around the windows, doors, pipes, vents, etc. for gaps / cracks. If necessary, re-seal it with silicon (preferable) or caulking, fix windows glazing.

Always remove as much of the deteriorating compound as possible, clean surfaces and apply new sealant.

We are almost in the middle of the house’s exterior fall maintenance tips…

Clean clothes dryer vent, vent pipe - home maintenanceHouse fall maintenance - repair damaged ventsHouse fall maintenance check list - ensure proper vent covers installation7. Make sure that all exterior vents / covers / dampers are functional and clean.

Clothes dryer vent will need to be cleaned more often than just during your exterior fall maintenance and this should be definitely included in your routine around-year house exterior maintenance schedule – it’s a potential fire hazard.

To determine frequency of cleaning you’ll need to monitor it for a few weeks. As soon as lint starts accumulating  around the discharge end, clean it, and mark your calendar.

I forgot one thing – make sure that the vent covers have not been installed up side down – just like on the right picture above, and that they have no screens of any kind / damper or louvers only.

Seal Dryvitt joints - Fall House Maintenance Tips8. An obvious item on the fall maintenance tips list are house exterior wall finishes. Fix siding panels, seal gaps/cracks in stucco, Dryvit, brick, stone walls.

The consequences of neglecting Dryvit finishes maintenance can be devastating and include mold contamination of the house structure. Assuming that it was properly installed make sure that there are no open seams between the Dryvit sections and Dryvit to other material joint. Moisture / water that will penetrate open seams might become trapped under the finished surface, which usually results in mold growth.

Deteriorating tuckpointing between the bricks and any other masonry units can be devastating to a house wall if left in such condition for the freezing temperatures. The only way to fight Chicagoland’s weather impact on masonry structures is to have them evaluated before the winter and serviced if necessary. For tuckpointing Chicago and surrounding neighborhoods check the company featured in the video below.

House exterior fall maintenance - check weather stripping around the doors and windows9. This next of the fall maintenance tips will help to make your home more energy efficiently.

Check weather stripping around exterior doors and adjust thresholds to prevent air drafts.

House maintenance exterior fall tips - drain exterior water faucets, remove and drain garden hoses10. While performing exterior fall maintenance remove, drain, and store garden hoses, drain exterior water faucets.

Freezing water expands and will cause damage to the hose fittings, spray nozzles, and valves. Replace your regular water faucets with a frost-free type for extra protection. As an additional protection, you can install removable Styrofoam cover over the faucet.

House fall maintenance exterior tips - remove sump pump extensions resting on the ground to prevent freezing11. Sump pump discharge pipe requires its presence on the fall maintenance check-list as well. Keep it above the ground and sloped towards the ground, monitor long extensions or remove for the cold season to prevent them from freezing.

If the sump pump keeps turning ON more often during the cold season, this might be a result of a frozen or partially frozen discharge pipe.

While performing your exterior fall maintenance make sure that all of the exterior electrical outlet receptacles have GFCI protection# 12 of the fall maintenance tips deals with electrical outlets but even you know nothing about electricity you can perform some basis evaluation. Check electrical outlets for GFCI protection (check this link for more information) and weatherproof cover.

If you have some old, not GFCI protected outlet receptacles, have them replaced by a professional with GFCI outlet receptacles or protect that circuit with a GFCI breaker.

During fall maintenance seal driveway and sidewalk cracks to prevent expansion and possible displacement during the cold season13. As a next step on my fall maintenance tips list check and seal if necessary cracked sidewalks and driveways before the cold season to slow further deterioration.

Water trapped in those cracks could freeze up, expand them, and even cause displacement of hard surfaces.

Lawn sprinkler system head - drain your sprinkler system while performing fall maintenance, before the cold season14. Winterize sprinkler system – another of the fall maintenance tips that might save you from a lot of repairs next season.

Draining it is not enough; you’ll need a compressor to blow out whatever water remains in the lines. Under the ground they might not always be sloped properly towards the drain valve and could freeze up / crack during the cold season.

Clean window well drains - fall maintenance15. Since color changing leafs are the beautiful part of the entire fall maintenance period, keep your eye on them and remember to keep them out of the drainage channels around the property like inside the basement window wells, basement exterior entrance, etc.

When performing fall maintenance before the cold season seal or remove window or wall air conditioning units16. And the final of my fall maintenance tips: Seal or remove (and seal the openings) window or wall air conditioning units to minimize air drafts.

To complete preparation for the cold season follow the link to the house interior fall maintenance tips.

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Anytime House Maintenance | Small, Preventive Repairs Always Help https://www.checkthishouse.com/5307/anytime-house-maintenance-small-preventive-repairs-always-help.html Wed, 25 Aug 2010 22:45:06 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=5307 Anytime house maintenance explains a few of the house components that do not necessarily depend on seasonal preventive repairs. Of course, based on your observation of those components, and their quality, you can implement some kind of a schedule that will help in monitoring and servicing.

1. Change or clean your forced air heating / AC system filter every 1-4 months based on type and usage.

House maintenance - maintain your HVAC system air filers on regular basis

House maintenance - furnace air filter performance depends on its type, thickness, quality and installation

The reason to list HVAC filter replacement under the “anytime house maintenance” is that its performance depends on type (mechanical / media air filters and electronic air cleaners), quality, usage (amount of time you run HVAC system), cleanliness of your house, condition of the air ducts, etc.

There might be some longer periods of time your HVAC system is not running at all, and the air filter replacement per schedule or per its manufacturer recommendation would be just wasting of money. On the other hand, if your HVAC system runs very often, make checking the air filter a routine for a few months – after some period of regular monitoring you’ll be able to work out a schedule.

House maintenance - electronic air cleaners are very expensive but outperform significantly media filtersHouse maintenance - contaminated HVAC air filter compromises your system performanceIf you let the dust particles to accumulate on the air filter  surface, your HVAC system will have to run longer to condition the air within your house. Air conditioning coil icing might develop and clog your system / cause its damage.

2. Replace caulking / silicon around your tub, shower stall and sink whenever it starts separating from surfaces.

House bathroom maintenance - deteriorated silicon along the tub edge - tiled wall seam requires replacementHouse maintenance - a gap between the bathroom sink, sink counter and the backsplash must be sealed to prevent water penetrationYou could schedule this next anytime house maintenance item based on the caulking / silicone warranty label (25, 35, 50 years), but only if applied in… laboratory conditions. Real life applications don’t last that long, not even close.

Frequent cleaning, running water over it, applying pressure to the seams, structure contraction / expansion, and often improper application of caulking and silicon cause it to separate from the surface. This will eventually result in water / moisture penetration and by the time you notice some stains on the ceiling below or in any areas surrounding that leaking enclosure, there might be already a significant damage inside the wall (including mold contamination).

3. Inspect your bathroom tiled walls for cracks and missing grout – fill the gaps as soon as possible to prevent water penetration and tile backing wall damage.

Bathroom house maintenace - cracked corner grout joints require resealing with caulking or siliconBathroom house maintenace - cracked grout joints should be cleaned, grout removed and new grout appliedThis second bathroom maintenance item actually applies to all tiled and grouted surfaces through your house. However, tiled walls and floors in the areas often exposed to water have the priority. Properly applied and sealed grout between the tiles that are firmly secured to a solid and stable surface will last a long time.

While cleaning the bathroom or taking a shower; follow the grout lines and look for missing grout, hairline cracks. Pay close attention to the corners and seams – those are the most common areas for the cracks to appear and the grout to become loose. If it is cracked – cut / remove the old grout, clean the area well, and fill the joints with a new compound. I don’t recommend applying it over an old and contaminated grout – you’ll be wasting your time.

There is one grout type that has very low maintenance requirements, I have personally used it in my bathrooms and I highly recommend it because of its durability, and mold /stain resistance. It’s epoxy based grout – SpectraLock by Laticrete International, Inc., much more expensive than the regular grout, more difficult to apply, but performs perfectly (I’m not associated with this company in any way – it’s just my personal opinion).

4. Periodically check the main water shutoff valve and individual plumbing fixtures valves – might leak if left untouched for several years, might not operate at all and start leaking if you force them to turn. If it turns freely, open it all the way, and then back up a little – this helps to prevent the valve from being stuck.

House maintenance - leaking water main and galvanized pipe attached to itIf this is the first time (in an older house) you’re trying to test your water shutoff valve – be prepared for a leak, and it could be a heavy one. That’s why routine house maintenance is so important; imagine your kitchen faucet seals start leaking suddenly, water spilling allover the floor, the handle on the water shutoff valve under the sink breaking (because it has never been turned / tested), and the main shutoff valve is frozen / stack in fully open position…

Be gentle on those valves, especially the plastic ones are extremely fragile, it is very easy to break the handle and the stem assembly, which could result in leakage. Before you start testing individual plumbing fixture water shutoff valves, make sure that the main water shutoff valve is fully functional so you can turn the water off in an emergency.

Just in case it leaks – prepare a tray or bucket (better have two than one), some towels to collect water, and have an emergency plumbing service number ready. The valve should turn freely, if it is frozen in place – I’d suggest calling a plumber. You can try to apply some pressure using a wrench, but the results are unpredictable if you overdo it… and I don’t know how much of that pressure is too much.

If the valve handle is missing, provide one if possible, or replace the valve so it can be operated.

5. Periodically check your house water heater for leaks, especially if it is beyond the warranty period. Watch for stains / dripping water on WH walls, inside the burner chamber (if accessible / some are sealed), under the appliance and on any accessible pipes.

Water heater cracked and leaking under the top coverHouse maintenance - water heater leaking from underneathThere’s really no way of predicting the water heater failure; my own WH flooded the entire house floor the day after its 6 year warranty expired. However, during my inspections I often see 15 – 20 years and older water heaters that show no signs of corrosion or leakage.


Assume that it can happen suddenly and without any announcement, consider drip pan installation under the WH (plumbed to the drain) – a must have feature on above ground (upper floors) installations, and highly recommended in any location.

6. Observe and listen to your appliances during their cycles, if it doesn’t sound right – investigate.

Most appliances produce some distinctive noises  during operation, or some might be almost noiseless. If something changes in their behavior, act upon it, maybe there’s nothing serious, or it could be the beginning of some critical condition.

Maybe you have an idea of some “anytime house maintenance”, I’d appreciate your comment.

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