Free Tip Friday – January 12, 2018

Does your heating system have a humidifier installed?  Is it functioning properly? Or perhaps you use a room humidifier.  Is it working well enough to keep your home comfortable?  Do you know what level of humidity in your home is, or how to measure it?

So many questions…how about a few answers?

Let’s start with the basics – why should you consider a humidifier, and what are the benefits?

  1. Increased comfort – The higher the humidity level, the warmer the air will feel at any given temperature.  Just think of how hot it feels in the summer, when the humidity level is sky high. Same principal in the winter months.  If you can keep the humidity level in your home up, you will feel more comfortable at lower heat levels.  Your home will just “feel” warmer, even at the same temperatures.
  2. Save Money – Higher humidity levels allow you to keep the temperature in your home lower.  Lower temp = lower heating bill!
  3. Avoid Illness – Dry air in the winter months can lead to increased health risks:   allergy symptoms, dry sinuses and headaches, colds, and irritated skin conditions, just to name a few.
  4. Prevent damage to wood floors and fine furniture – Extremely dry air can cause damage to surfaces in your home.  

Free Tip Friday – January 5, 2018

According to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), one of the most common causes of clothes dryer fires in the US is failure to clean the dryer and exhaust vent. The NFPA has published a great one page clothes dryer safety guide – you can download the guide by clicking HERE.

Typically, the dryer itself and the lint screen are easy to access and clean. However, the exhaust vent and the flexible connector that most dryers have between the dryer and the wall can be a real challenge to reach.

I would guess that most of us – after we fight the initial battle of getting the dryer vent connected, and then the pushing the dryer back into place, would prefer to NEVER move the dryer again. However – to properly clean the dryer exhaust, you simply must move the dryer out and take a look.  Sorry – but it’s worth it!

The two most likely spots for lint to accumulate in the dryer exhaust system are where the flex line terminates at the wall, and then outside the home, at the damper/wall termination.  Please – check both areas!

Unfortunately, some dryer exhausts make a number of twists and turns before reaching the outside.  Read more...

Free Tip Friday – December 29, 2017

Being comfortable in our homes is so important.  Who wants to spend time in a room, or an entire level of a home, that is less inviting than the rest?

When the really cold temps take hold and single digits are the high, a few colder spots in a home are somewhat unavoidable.  Unfortunately, if you have a two-story home, you may be dealing with an entire level that is less than comfortable.  

We happen to live in a 1970’s era two-story home, and the basement can be a bit chilly. However, we have found that making a few minor adjustments to the furnace output in the cold winter months can make a significant difference in our comfort level.

Simply closing down a few registers on the upper level of our home, and making sure that the lower level registers are wide open, makes a big difference! The hot air is going to rise throughout the home, so why not make that work for us?

Such a simple thing.  But simple does not mean unimportant.  Comfort in our homes is important!

A word of caution though:  don’t close down too many registers – the increased pressure on the furnace can cause the fan to work harder, and burnout sooner.Read more...

Free Tip Friday – December 22, 2017

Such a simple thing – change your furnace filter when needed.  Most everyone knows you’re supposed to check and change your filter regularly.

But what is “regularly”?  Everyone knows you change the oil in your car every 3 months or 3 thousand miles.  BTW – great marketing job oil industry :).  But what about the filter on your furnace/air conditioning?   A cheap filter might need changed every month.  A high-quality filter might last 2-3 months.  Some filters can be cleaned.  Others you just throw away.  If you open your windows often, change the filter more often.  If you keep ‘em shut, the filter stays clean longer.  What’s a person to do?  

My suggestion – check at least every other month, and replace when dirty.  That’s pretty simple, right?

But – let’s dig a little deeper, just for fun.  I can think of 4 excellent reasons to check & change the filter at least every 2 months:

1: SAVE MONEY –  a dirty filter makes the HVAC system run longer and harder.  Your energy bill goes up.

2: BREATH EASIER –  a clean filter, and thus a clean HVAC system means less dust in the air, and fewer allergens in your home.  Read more...

Free Tip Friday – December 15, 2017

A number of readers have asked me, “Why in the world did you start blogging about home maintenance?”  Believe it or not, seeing a hose left on a home’s exterior faucet all winter long started it all.  Seeing that hose, week after week, knowing that it may lead to a burst pipe in the spring, prompted my very first blog post: How to save $1k or more this winter.  That post was all about the damage a frozen faucet can do to your home.  Many homeowners aren’t aware that leaving a hose on a faucet over the winter months greatly increases the risk of damage.  Such a simple thing – remembering to store a garden hose inside for the winter – but so often overlooked.

Although it hasn’t turned terribly cold yet here in Kansas, winter weather can’t be far away.  So I thought the timing was right to cover this topic again as this week’s Free Tip Friday. Please, take a few moments to check your exterior faucets this weekend.  Remove, drain and store the hoses if they were still attached.  This one simple step today might just prevent a flooded basement or crawlspace in the spring!

Thanks for reading,

Darren

Free Tip Friday – December 8, 2017

Unfortunately, the number of injuries and deaths due to carbon monoxide poisoning has been rising for years.  There are a number of theories for why this is, but one thing we do know: homes are much more energy efficient these days.  And an energy efficient home does not “breath” like an older (drafty?) home.  Therefore, even low levels of carbon monoxide in a newer home can lead to CO poisoning symptoms.

Last winter I wrote an in-depth article all about Carbon Monoxide and winter home safety.  You can read that article HERE.  If you do not currently have a CO detector – and if you have any of the items in the picture above (fireplace, gas furnace, or an attached garage) … please install one ASAP.  Today would be great!  

The National Fire Protection Association has a great one page summary about where and how to install a CO detector. You can download it by clicking HERE.

Stay safe, and thanks for reading!


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