Friday, October 8, 2010

PREVENTIVE MEASURES CRUCIAL DURING WINTER MONTHS


With the onset of winter, you will start hearing a lot more about fire prevention.  This is because with the colder weather, heat systems and auxiliary heating devices are used in the home, adding to the risk of fire.  Here are some tips to make sure you take precautions to prevent fires from occurring in your home:
  • Have your heating system inspected.  With regular servicing of your heating system, you benefit by burning less fuel and a system that gets regular service is less likely to break down.
  • Gas-fired furnaces should be serviced yearly and inspected.  Since gas-fired furnaces burn cleaner than oil-fired furnaces, you need not have the flue cleaned every year, but the flue should be checked to make sure there are no obstructions.  Your service tech will:
    • Check for C.O. leaks
    • Inspect the blower system
    • Inspect gas lines
    • Inspect flue system
    • Check filter
    • Check Heat Exchanger
  • You can save yourself costly repair by just changing your furnace filter on a regular basis.  Remember, even in the summer you need to change your filter if you have central air conditioning.  The blower on your furnace is the same one that circulates the cold air.
  • Oil-fired furnaces need to be serviced annually as well.  Since oil does not burn as clean as gas, the flue needs to be inspected every year.  Depending on the age of the unit and how clean it burns, the flue may have to be cleaned annually as well.
  • Boilers need to be serviced annually whether they are hot-water systems or steam. 
  • Heat pumps and electric furnaces also need to have annual inspection to prevent untimely breakdowns.
  • Outside air conditioning units and swamp coolers should be covered
Now is also a good time to:
  • Check your smoke detectors and change the batteries
  • Check your C.O. detector (if you do not have one – it is a small investment for your safety)
  • Plan an escape plan with your family in case of fire (and have a practice drill)
  • Talk to your children about fire prevention
  • Check that garage for flammable items – making sure they are stored properly
  • Check your fire extinguisher (keep one in the kitchen – they are inexpensive)

Friday, October 1, 2010

WEATHERIZE YOUR HOME FOR WINTER


Last winter, we got some of the worst winter weather the country had seen in a while.  The snow and cold were almost unbearable and another cold and snowy winter is sure to come again this year.  Advance preparations can save money, energy, increase safety and allow for an easy transition into the winter months.  Here are some great tips to check into before winter hits.
  • Winterize to Keep Your Home Energy-Tight
    • Use caulk on your home's exterior to seal out moisture and outside air; at the same time, it helps keep heat indoors. Caulk creates a tight moisture barrier which prevents rain and snow from seeping into gaps and joints, causing wood to rot and paint to blister.
    • Place a dollar bill between the door and the jamb or the window sash and sill. With the door or window closed, attempt to remove the bill. If it slides out easily, you're losing energy.
  • Clear Downspouts and Gutters
    • Avoid basement flooding and deterioration of the foundation by cleaning the gutter channels and clearing downspouts of debris. Replace deteriorating or broken gutters and downspouts.
  • Crank the Heat!
    • Turn on your furnace and give it a test-run
    • Change the air filter. This will enable your heating system to run at maximum efficiency which can even help save money on heating costs.
    • If your home has gas heat, check the pilot light, burner and chimney flue.  If not vented properly, you could have carbon monoxide building up in the house.
  • Prevent Trouble Down Below
    • There may also be things that need attending to beneath your property.  For example, flush underground sprinkler systems before the cold sets in by blowing air into pipes to displace leftover water. This is important because water lines are typically only 6 to 8 inches below ground -- and prone to freezing. If they freeze and then burst, you could have a costly repair situation on your hands.
  • Check the Septic
    • Homeowners with septic tanks should also think about pumping them now -- before the ground freezes and snow buries your yard. Septic tanks should be checked once every year and cleaned no less than every three years.
  • Protect Your Pipes
    • Frozen or burst pipes are among a homeowner's worst nightmares. For a preventative measure, add insulation to pipes in unheated areas, which reduces heat loss from hot-water pipes and condensation on cold water pipes.
    • Install a freeze-proof outdoor faucet which will eliminate the problem of a frozen or broken spigot.  These faucets employ a long stem that shuts the water off about a foot back in the house preventing the pipe from freezing.
  • Conduct a Water Heater Check-Up
    • There may also be things that need attending to beneath your property.  For example, flush underground sprinkler systems before the cold sets in by blowing air into pipes to displace leftover water. This is important because water lines are typically only 6 to 8 inches below ground -- and prone to freezing. If they freeze and then burst, you could have a costly repair situation on your hands.
 
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