Schedule a maintenance visit before the heating season starts. If there are any problems with your system, it’s better to find out before it’s freezing outside! Do the same for your cooling system before sweltering season begins.
Replace your air filters on a regular basis. Operating your system with old, dirty filters means energy is wasted and your system may even be damaged. While you’re at it, check and clean the filters in your home’s air cleaners and humidifiers.
- If you have a forced air heating system, check your furnace’s blower compartment and blower coils. Vacuum them if you see dirt and dust there. You should also check fan belt tension, and lubricate fan and motor bearings.
- If you have a steam system, check the shut-off valve for leaks.
- Bleed hot water system radiators at least once a year.
- Don’t keep clutter near your furnace. It’s a fire hazard, and may keep your system from operating efficiently.
- To make sure you’re getting the most out of your heating system, keep the heating registers and vents throughout the house free of dust, dirt, and pet hair by vacuuming them at least once a year.
- Listen for odd sounds when your heating or cooling system kicks in. If you hear anything unusual, get in touch with your service professional so you can head off problems before they become serious.
- In winter months, set your ceiling fan at its slowest speed and reverse it in order to gently push warm air down from the ceiling without generating a breeze.
Electric power gives us light and warmth, but without safety precautions, it can also be dangerous. Follow these simple precautions to help insure you and your family’s safety:
- Replace or repair loose or frayed cords on all electrical devices.
- Avoid running extension cords across doorways or under carpets.
- In homes with small children, electrical outlets should have plastic safety covers.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for plugging an appliance into a receptacle outlet.
- Avoid overloading outlets. Consider plugging only one high-wattage appliance into each receptacle outlet at a time.
- If outlets or switches feel warm, shut off the circuit and have them checked by an electrician.
- When possible, avoid the use of "cube taps" and other devices that allow the connection of multiple appliances into a single receptacle.
- Place lamps on level surfaces, away from things that can burn and use bulbs that match the lamp’s recommended wattage.
- Never touch anything electrical when you have wet hands.
- Don’t use electrical appliances such as hair dryers or radios in a wet place or near water.
- If power is lost during a storm, turn off or unplug electrical appliances so that there’s not a power surge when the electricity comes back on.
- If there’s flooding, watch out for water around electrical items, and never use appliances if they’re wet.
- Never play with kites or toy planes near overhead power lines.
- If a toy happens to get caught in a power line, don’t attempt to remove it yourself.
- Never prune trees yourself that are near power lines.
Tankless water heaters offer a proven alternative to the storage tank water heaters most commonly found in U.S. homes. Storage tank water heaters store 40 to 120 gallons of water at a time and constantly reheat that water regardless of how much is actually demanded. A tankless water heater is also called an "on-demand" water heater because it only heats water when you turn on the hot water tap.
When you turn the hot water tap in a home with a tankless water heater, a powerful gas or electric heater kicks on and instantly heats water running through coils in the unit. Since water is only heated when you need it, you save on the costs associated with constantly heating and reheating a large tank of water. Tankless water heaters can accommodate the needs of large families and commercial buildings and can be adjusted for temperature just like the "old fashioned" storage tank water heaters.
Used for decades in Europe where living space is at a premium, tankless water heaters are a safe and reliable way to use less energy. They are also smaller than standard water heaters, saving space if you are doing new construction.
First, check the emergency shutoff under your sink to make sure it’s fully open. If rubber washers or seals have begun to deteriorate, you’ll also lose water pressure, so check those. Calcium and lime buildup will also cause low water pressure.
Even small drips can waste thousands of gallons of water, as much as 150 gallons a day! Be sure to check under sinks for moisture or small leaks. And always repair leaky faucets right away to avoid paying for wasted water and also to avoid water damage to your fixtures and pipes. Remove and clean your faucet aerators annually to ensure an even flow of water. Make sure overflow holes on tubs and vanities are clear and open to prevent water damage to floors and ceilings.
Usually faucet dimensions and sink openings are standard throughout the plumbing industry, so the answer is usually yes. There are a few exceptions, so check the size of the sink opening before you buy new fixtures.
Do not rinse fats or cooking oils down the kitchen sink. Liquid fats solidify in the cold pipes and create clogs. To help prevent clogs, fit all your tubs and shower drains with a strainer that catches hair and soap chips, and clean the strainer regularly.
In most homes, the kitchen and laundry drains are connected. When the lint from the laundry drains meets the grease buildup from soap and food products, a nearly solid substance is formed, causing blockage.
Using filters and strainers will help, but you’ll also need to get the drains snaked periodically as well.
Yes. You want to make sure they’re not stuck in the open position just when you have a water emergency! Do the same periodic check for the shutoff valves on your sinks, tubs, and toilets, too.
Noises can be fairly common in plumbing supply lines. If a washer in a faucet or valve is loose, you’ll hear it rattling or knocking. If the sound occurs when you open and close faucets rapidly, it generally means pipes are loose, and can be corrected by anchoring pipes more securely. If it really bothers you, you can add air chambers at the end of long pipe runs. Their installation will probably require a plumbing professional.
The main culprit is tree roots, and once they’ve blocked the line, there is very little you can do. A plumbing professional can snake the line to get it as clear as possible, and then use copper sulfide products to kill the remaining vegetation. But odds are the sewer line will most likely need to be replaced.
For minor clogs, they’re fine, but never use them on a drain that is completely clogged. The caustic ingredients are trapped in your pipes, and it can severely damage them. If you can’t snake the drain yourself, contact a professional to do so. Never use caustic drain openers in a drain that has a garbage disposal.
This is usually due to a sediment buildup in your tank. As water heaters grow older, they accumulate sediment and lime deposits. If these deposits are not removed periodically, the sediment will create a barrier between the burner and the water, greatly reducing the water heater's performance level. At least once every three months, drain water from the tank. Draining a gallon or so on a regular basis helps remove the sediment.
You should also periodically inspect your water heater burner. The flame under the heater should appear blue with yellow tips. If it’s mostly yellow, or if it’s sooty under there, your flue may be clogged, which is a dangerous situation. Contact a professional to check it out. At least once every two years, have your water heater inspected by a service technician. He or she will also check the drain valve for signs of leakage, and the anode rods for corrosion.
Always use plenty of cold water when running your disposal, and avoid overloading it. Never dispose of very hard items like bones or corn husks. And never use a caustic drain opener. You can extend the life of your hands by never using them to remove items dropped inside – use tongs instead!
Before calling a professional, be sure to try the reset switch located on the bottom of most disposals.
Toilet leaks can be wasteful and expensive. At least once a year, check your toilet for leaks by adding a small amount of red food coloring to the tank, and then check the toilet bowl later. If the toilet bowl water is colored red, water is seeping through from the tank. If it is leaking, you should replace the tank ball.