Keeping It In The Home: Insulation Basics, Part 1

You spend a bunch of money every month keeping your home at a proper, comfortable temperature, and your home’s insulation helps keep all that expensive air exactly where you want it. If your insulation is insufficient to your needs — as if often the case, especially with newer, less expensive homes — you could be throwing money right out through your attic every month. Here are some basic insulation tips to keep your energy bill manageable.

How do I know if I need more?

The first step is making sure you have *any.* Pop up into your attic and make sure you can see some amount of insulation, usually batts of fiberglass (often pink) or loose fill insulation between the ceiling joists. For exterior walls, look for a series of regularly-spaced patched holes on your home’s exterior: they’re a tell-tale sign that blown insulation was added.

Generally speaking, the older the house the draftier it will be. Fireplaces might not have proper dampers in the chimneys, windows are likely to have more cracks and need new caulk and glaze, ducts might have cracks and holes just from years of use. Electrical outlets and recessed lighting fixtures are also trouble spots. Still, if you’re starting from nothing, most heat loss is always through the attic, so make that your focus.

What do I do with what’s already there?

Some homes, especially older homes, have stop-gap insulation solutions. Some early 20th century homes were insulated with shredded paper, wood shavings, corncobs, or similar items homeowners could locate in sufficient quantities to fill space. Most of the time, you can leave this insulation in place. It might not be top-of-the-line, but it’s better than you’d think, and it isn’t causing any harm.

Mid 20th century homes are where problems arise. Insulation from this time period often contained asbestos and formaldehyde. These products are now known to be carcinogens and should be tested if you suspect your insulation contains them. Even then, it’s usually best to keep it in place unless you’re totally renovating the home to the point of knocking down walls, just for safety reasons. If it’s flaking, it should be encapsulated so it can’t become airborne.

As a rule of thumb, if it’s still in the walls, not breaking apart, and not causing any problems, just leave it.

What should I use for new insulation?

There are four main types of insulation: loose fill, batts, boards, and sprays. Batts and boards are used most in unfinished spaces like attics: large chunks of sold insulation rolled out to cover the full surface of the area. Loose fill is used most in older houses with unknown and difficult-to-reach nooks and crannies. It consists of a bunch of small bits, often little balls of recycled newspaper, that are blown into the empty space en masse until it’s totally filled up.

 

Next time we’ll cover how much insulation you need and where you should install it!

This entry was posted in My Blog.

HVAC Maintenance

HVAC are an important investment. It may be somewhat expensive to own one, but this equipment is designed to last for several years. It is always recommended that you maintain your HVAC system because the better care you give it, the longer it will serve you, and the longer it will operate efficiently. There are several things that one can do to make sure that his or her HVAC system works efficiently and hits its maximum lifespan.

Here are some of the most recommended HVAC maintenance tips:

Change the filter frequently: Changing your filter regularly is one of the simplest ways to maintain your system. The most surprising thing is that this is the most overlooked tip when it comes to HVAC maintenance. Filters are very much affordable and can be accessed from your local hardware store. Replacing your system’s filter is something that takes just a few minutes. A good filter will greatly improve the efficiency of your system as well as the quality of your indoor air. If you are not sure about the size of the filter that your system requires, it’s always advisable that you visit your system contractor. Your contractor will certainly have more information about what you are looking for. It’s recommended that you change your filter at least once per every three months.

Keep the vents and the grills clean: Many people always think that when their HVAC system fails to work there must be something seriously wrong with it. What they fail to understand is that sometimes it may be just a minor issue like dust that is causing their system to function properly. This is why it is very important to maintain your system regularly. Dusting your vents and grills helps prevents debris from entering into your system. If dust is allowed to enter into your system, it can pile up and block your blower. Once your blower is off balance, it will start making unnecessary noise and lower the efficiency of your entire system.

Always keep the supply registers and the return registers unblocked and open: Be very carefully when closing and blocking off some parts of your HVAC system. If some portions are not closed properly they may have some serious effects on the balance of your system. HVAC systems are designed in such a way that they must be balanced at all times. If you leave some of the parts open, they may attract dust or grow molds which will hinder the performance of your system.

The condensing unit must be free from debris: If you fail to maintain your system and let it be infected by debris and tree leaves, the coils of your system will be clogged and this may cause some serious damage. It’s therefore important to keep your system clean at all times. Make sure that the trees which are around your property are well trimmed and taken care off.

Furnace inspection and cleaning: There are many things that you can do to extend the life of your HVAC system. Hiring the services of a qualified technician to inspect your system frequently is one of the best things that you can do to increase the lifespan of your system. It’s advisable that you have your HVAC system inspected by an expert at least twice per year. Do not wait until things are out of control to visit a skilled HVAC technician. Here are reasons why you should seek the services a HVAC technician:

Professionals always have a reputation to maintain. Hiring a qualified reputable technician to inspect your HVAC system is very much recommended. Professionals are always updated and they will tell you the cause of your problem and help you fix it. It’s always wise to find a technician who has many years of experience handling problems that are related to yours.

As much as people love handling their problems on their own, HVAC owners should know that preventative maintenance is the best thing that you can do to your system if you want to extend its lifespan. Preventative maintenance will also help you to improve the efficiency of your system. A qualified HVAC technician has the necessary knowledge required to repair and replace all the parts of your system that are costing you a fortune in other areas such as deferment of customers, electricity bill, or the buildup of broken parts.

A qualified HVAC technician knows how important it is to have a working system and he or she also understands the stress that comes with a system that is not working properly. What’s more, many reputable HVAC companies have technicians who work 24/7. This means that you can call and have a technician at your door step anytime that you want. Professional technicians value your time and they will always do their job on time. They will help you fix any problem that you may have with your system with precision and efficiency.

A broken HVAC system is one of the things that give many people sleepless nights. Air conditioning is not just for the rich, it is now a basic thing that every homeowner should have. It has become a very important part of our lives that if you lack it your life won’t be the same. If you are a business person, do not be surprised to see your customers going to the shop next door simply because your air conditioning unit is not working properly. In this light, it is highly recommended that you have your HVAC system inspected by a qualified technician regularly.

When hiring the services of an HVAC technician to repair your system, make sure that you find a technician that has sufficient experience. He or she must also have the right credentials and a license is required in your city or state, it is important that they produce one. The license shows that the technician you are about to hire is well trained and has passed all the tests required to install HVAC systems in your city or state. It’s also wise to find a technician that you feel comfortable working with.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plumbing Repairs – An introduction to DIY Home Plumbing

Plumbing repairs around the home are an inevitability. All it takes is time, before one thing or the other requires attention. It has nothing to do with the quality of the plumbing installation, rather, it is a result of normal wear and tear. Most plumbing repairs in the home are simple, but this does not mean that they are necessarily an easy fix. Some will be easy for you to fix by yourself, while there are simple repairs for which you must have to contact a professional plumber.

One important issue to consider before you engage in a plumbing repair is local building standards and codes. These can vary from place to place, so it depends on the area where you live. A licensed professional plumber will definitely know all these standards that he is meant to adhere to, so you as DIY plumber would be better off by also getting informed. The reason is simply to avoid any costly future repair jobs, for example, if you decide to sell your home and it fails an inspection, because your repair jobs were not standards compliant.

When To Call A Professional

No matter how enthusiastic you are about carrying out any plumbing repair, or how good a handyman that you are, there will always be plumbing jobs that are better left for licensed professionals. The following are some of these:
– Gas Plumbings
Any plumbing work that has to do with gas, should be avoided and contracted to an expert. In most places in fact, even normal plumbers need an extra certification in order to do gas plumbing. As a responsible DIY plumber, simply delegate any gas plumbing repair.

– Inner Wall Plumbing
Inner wall plumbing repairs are another type of repair jobs that should be contracted out to a professional plumber. The reason is because inner-wall plumbing repairs can, and do easily get complicated.

– Drainage
Except you have a good understanding of drainages, you should also leave their repair to a professional.

– Machine Installations
With machine installations like the dishwasher, water heater and laundry machines, you can try your hand at them if you are well versed in such a technology, else, simply leave the plumbing repair job for a professional plumber.

Common DIY Plumbing Repairs

Apart from the individual cases listed above, where plumbing repair jobs are better left for the plumbing professional, there are a wide variety of other simple and straightforward repairs that can be easily taken care of by any DIY plumber. Following is a list of the most popular ones:
– Unclogging Toilets
Unclogging a toilet can be a very messy affair that most DIY plumbers will even shy away from, and pay someone else to do it. If you do decide to unclog a toilet by yourself, then you should know how to use a plunger well. Most people leave plenty of air inside the plunger cup, and this is a big mistake, because air is compressible. In order for the plunger to work effectively, you have to compress mostly water, which is not compressible. So always make sure that you have as little air as possible in your plunger cup. The plunger can also be used in unclogging showers, sinks and bathtubs, just make sure to cover any overflow drain, where applicable.

– Repairing Plumbing leaks
Leaks are another leading type of plumbing repair jobs that often come up around the house. Leaks may develop from faucets, shower heads, toilet tanks e.t.c. The solution for fixing each particular leak will depend on the situation. You may need to change a washer in a faucet, or simply seal a pipe to stop the leak, and in other situations, a complete change might be necessary.

– Repairing or changing Shower Heads
Shower heads are also frequent plumbing problems. Just like other types of leaks, a shower plumbing repair might simply require sealing, or a complete change of the head.

– Repairing Burst Pipes
There are many reasons why a pipe may burst, but the repair process will depend on the material used to make the pipe. Copper pipes for example can be welded, while pvc pipes can be glued, taped or even completely removed.

– Garden Hose
The Garden hose can sometimes develop a leak, either because of a punctured pipe or the fault could be from the faucet. A teflon tape can be used effectively in sealing a hose head to the faucet, for those that use screws, while others may need just a washer change. If the hose itself is punctured, then it is better to cut off the area with scissors, and install a hose repair kit consisting of a coupler and two clamps. This is usually the best solution for repairing a punctured garden hose.

– Changing a Toilet
This one is not for everyone, but some DIY plumbers will definitely attempt to completely change their water closet toilet by themselves, if the need arises. Such a plumbing repair job is way over the heads of most hobby plumbers, so if you don’t feel sure about changing the toilet by yourself, then call a professional.

– Installing a Garbage Disposal System
One additional project that any DIY or hobby plumber can attempt is the installation of a garbage disposal system under his or her kitchen sink, that is, if it was not there already. A garbage disposal system helps to break down all types of solid items that are disposed of from the kitchen sink. By tearing up all the items into tiny pieces, and flushing them down the drain with enough water, garbage disposal systems help to preserve the longevity of your drainage.

The Causes of certain Plumbing Issues

The following are common plumbing issues and their causes:
– Faucet leaks
Faucet leaks are usually caused by either worn out washers, high water pressure and worn out cartridges.

– Blocked Drains
Blocked drains may be caused by hard objects that have gotten stuck inside the drainage, or by toiletries like tampons and baby nappies, by accumulated grease and also by hair.

– Clogged Toilets
These are almost always caused by solid objects like food items that got flushed down the toilet, or by other solid items like paper, tampons, hair e.t.c. The problem with clogged toilets is that unclogging them can be quite a messy plumbing repair job sometimes, so all possible care should be taken to avoid clogging the toilet. This simply means avoiding the bad habit of flushing things down the toilet.

Conclusion

Although much money is saved by doing things by yourself, most DIY hobbyists and handymen usually do it for the emotional satisfaction. When you choose to do your plumbing repair by yourself, you will surely save some money, as well as get the corresponding emotional satisfaction, which many DIY hobbyists crave. Remember though, that certain jobs are better left for professional plumbers. This is because once you have caused a much larger mess, by trying your hand at a problem above your skill-set, then you can kiss your emotional satisfaction goodbye.

Roof Repair Made Easy

There are inevitable realities in home maintenance that home owners must be vigilant about. One of these is roof repair and how to deal with it in order to avoid major damages which may affect the market value and quality of your property. Although this may not be a very welcome topic to discuss, it is valuable and highly important that you have the right information and clarity of the things you should do when remedying roof repair dilemmas.Your roof serves a very important role, along with other exterior features, in protecting your home from the worst that Mother Nature can throw its way. But your roof can only be effective in its duties if it’s taken care of and issues or damages are taken care of quickly.

Benefits of roof Repairing 

· One of the major benefits of roof repair is, of course, to fix up trouble spots and prevent damage in the future. Roofs that are neglected and begin to suffer wear and tear can actually cause further damage to other parts of the roof, as well as the interior of your home. If you want to prevent your roof from reaching into your wallet and continually taking money out, it’s a good idea to take care of problems as soon as they become apparent so that they can’t spread and cost you even more money.

 

· Taking a preventative stance toward roof issues can not only save you money from other minor damages that may occur, it can also save you from having to replace your entire roof completely. The installation of a whole new house top can be a costly endeavor; that’s why repairing certain areas alone can benefit you tremendously in terms of money and time

 

· Your roof is like a helmet for your home; effective in doing its job, which is to protect the top of the home and the things inside of it, but only if it is checked out regularly and kept in good condition

· By locating a local roof repair company, you can ensure that you have a roof that is doing its job and keeping unwanted elements from the outdoors out of your home’s inside. Keep these benefits in mind next time you have a roof problem that needs to be addressed.

 

What are the signs that you need a roof repair?

Here are a few problems your roof could have that likely indicate some repairs are needed. After all, you want your roof performing at an optimal level to shield your home, right?

· When there are shingles missing from your roof, the underbelly can be exposed and begin to take on water damage. Since many roofs are built from wood, shingles are one of the few lines of defense that wood has from the rain and snow that can begin to do serious damage. Shingles keep your roof from taking on the heat of the sun, too. These simple pieces are tasked with very important responsibilities, so if a few are missing from your roof after a big storm, some repairs might be necessary.

 

· Loosened metal, such as flashing, is another problem your roof can experience and can have negative effects on its ability to keep external elements from making their way into your home. If you notice gaps in your flashing, or if the flashing has somehow come off altogether, it’s probably a good idea to call in a roof repair specialist to take care of the situation before it gets worse.

 

· A leak indicates that a part of your roof has already been compromised, meaning shingles could be missing, flashing could be out of place, or an item could have fallen and punctured your roof in some way. Chimneys can also be responsible for leaks, so keep that in mind.

 

These are some of the signs that your roof is in need of a repair. Keep these in mind the next time a big storm goes through your area, and if you can, take a peek at the top of your home afterwards to see if there is any visible damage. If you see something, get in touch with a local, experienced roof repair company.

 

Rules to be followed while doing roof repairs

A leaking or damaged roof is a situation that usually must be dealt with expediently and effectively. Flat roof repair is one of those things that might vary in terms of difficulty with each situation. These five tips will apply to those in search of hiring out the job, in the hopes that your situation resolves itself as best as it possibly can;

1. If you’d like to find a professional to handle the job for you, the best course of action is to get a trusted roofing contractor via word of mouth. If you know someone they’ve done the roof work for, there’s a better chance that you’ll be happy with the job.

 

2. If you can’t find someone to fix your roof through a friend, I’d suggest looking online. Not only should you conduct a traditional search via Google, but you should also follow up by Googling the name of the company you’ve found to see if you can provide any customer feedback.

 

3. You’d be shocked as to what you can dig up on some flat roof repair companies by simply taking the extra steps to be cautious in advance. This may end up saving you hundreds or thousands of dollars, and many potential headaches.

 

 

4. Once you do find someone to fix your broken roof, you’ll want them to come to your home to take a look at the damage. From there, they’ll likely assess the scope of the work that needs to be done on your flat roof and they’ll give you a quote.

 

5. Too many people don’t realize that everything is negotiable when it comes to this stuff. They’ll want your business just as badly as you need the job done, so don’t be afraid to try to bargain down a lower rate. Chances are, you’ll get what you want.

 

By following these basic rules, there’s a good chance that you’ll get a fair flat roof repair job done for the best price possible. finally Your final bit of advice is to walk carefully on your roof, so you don’t damage it any more than it already is. If it’s old and brittle then bring up some pieces of wood that you can set down to walk on as you traverse it. Also make sure to use a good long ladder that extends up past your roof, so you don’t suffer a fall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Solar Power for Homes – Learn How to Make Your Home Environmentally Friendly

During the past few years, the global market has witnessed an increased demand for modern home solar systems. These systems are extremely adaptable, easier to install and cheaper than ever before. Furthermore the equipment can effectively generate the required amount of solar power for home. Whether you’re looking to transform some amount of solar energy into electrical or heat energy in order to lower your monthly electricity bill or eliminate it completely, there are many home solar power systems that can be of value to you.

Advanced Energy Conversion Efficiency

One major advantage of these domestic solar systems is their high degree of efficiency in converting solar energy into electrical or heat energy. In fact, a typical system today has an average conversion efficiency exceeding 15%, enough to generate far more power than older systems from the same amount of light. On that account, an average solar power home will need a smaller system to generate all the power it requires.

Most of the new systems are more affordable and simpler to install with limited components. Their lower cost of installation has allowed many homeowners across all corners of the world that couldn’t take advantage of solar energy for homes to have them installed.

Design Flexibility because of Interchangeable Components

Another great thing about modern domestic solar equipment is that they’re more flexible in their designs than systems in the past. This is good for homeowners because they can more easily mix components from different manufacturers into the same system. By doing this they can pick the exact components they need to create the perfect solar power for home. In the past, these systems were quite strict about mixing of components and typically required all of the parts in the system to be made by the same company.

In addition, the lack of standards in the older systems meant that the connections, voltages and mounting equipment would vary between manufacturers making it even harder to mix and match different equipment. Because of such challenges, modern manufacturers now design their solar power equipment to established international standards. Therefore, the mixing of various system components is much easier and safer.

Modern Systems Allow for Future Expansion

The newer systems are more open to future expansions than ever before. Older systems were very rigid in their design and didn’t accommodate changes once they were installed on a home. This meant that one had to install the largest system they would ever need from the start since they couldn’t expand it later. In many cases, this initial investment kept many people from being able to take advantage of solar energy because of limited budgets. With modern systems, you’re able to expand your system slowly over time.

Depending on your budget, you can begin with a smaller and cheap system and add extra solar panels to it over time to increase the amount of power you’re generating. This is pretty advantageous because you can enjoy the savings your initial system provides and increase those savings as you expand your system. This allows you to spread the cost of solar power for home out over a number of years and not have to worry about a large initial installation investment.

What are possible options when implementing solar energy for homes?

Whether you’re in the middle of constructing a new home or renovating an existing one and wish to live a greener and environmentally friendly quality of life, solar energy is the most suitable to fit your needs. There are various ways to incorporate solar system into your house. Should you need to power most sections of your house, you’ll possibly need to buy more solar panels or build your own homemade solar panels. Fortunately, you’ll find less complicated methods for implementing solar power for home that happen to be much less expensive. Here are some of them:

Off-Grid Solar Power System

Generally, the off-grid or standalone system is the old school version which is mostly used in developing countries. These systems are usually applied in far-flung areas where a utility power company is not accessible. The great thing about this strategy is that it can get a bit more affordable. However, your system is completely independent from any specific power grid, only completely dependent on sunlight.

Grid Tied Solar Power Systems

As its name suggests, a grid tied solar system is actually connected to the electric power grid in your area. With this model, the extra amount of electricity generated from the panels is fed into the power utility company, triggering your electrical meter backwards. This is known as Net Metering and the extra amount of electricity you’ve produced will give you a credit into your power expenses. This system is a lot more cost-effective than standalone models.

Solar power Water Heaters

If an entire home overhaul isn’t for you, a solar water heating system is a technique best suited for you to earn a green living. If the area you’re living in has comfortable weather conditions, you’ll be able to utilize a solar power batch collector. Water is stored in a tank and heated quickly from the direct sunlight. Many standard solar water heat and air eugene systems incorporate homemade solar panels connected to your water heater to successfully heat up the water inside.

Bottomline

Solar systems play a useful role in converting sun energy into clean electrical energy for your home, drastically reducing your operating expense. However, regular maintenance of these appliances is of great importance as they are always exposed to the outer elements like dust, dirt, rain, debris, and algae. Many people always take this to be a boring and time-wasting task, but in reality regular maintenance is an important factor that shouldn’t be neglected.

Cleaning the Plexiglas must be carried out with proper care. They are easily damaged by dirt, hand brushes or harsh cleansers. Avoid using scrubbing pads or gritty cleaners as these cause scratches on the Plexiglas surface. The surface should be gently rinsed with water to float the dirt off, and then warm water and mild detergent to remove the remaining dirt. Do not use common household cleaners with ammonia or alcohol. Diluted bleach is also not recommended as it may discolor the aluminum frames.