Tips to Help Homeowners Combat Common Seasonal Home Problems and Save Energy--
Springtime is near and as flowers begin to bloom and life is injected into trees and plants, cold, dreary weather will soon be long forgotten. This transition from winter to spring can be very exciting, but can also cause potential problems regarding your air conditioning, heating and plumbing systems. Now is the time to ensure your home is running as efficiently as possible, thus saving you money by preventing energy loss.
ARS®/Rescue Rooter® has provided the following tips to prepare tampa area residents’ homes for the upcoming seasonal change.
Keep It Cool: Proper care will keep your air conditioning system running efficiently to save you money.
• As warm temperatures approach your air conditioning system will be put to work more and more, and it is extremely important that you change air filters monthly. This will keep your system working more efficiently and can help you save energy and money.
• Outdoor HVAC units should be level to prevent compressor damage. This is especially important in newer homes, as it is more likely for the grade to experience uneven settlement after springtime rain. Keep an eye on your unit and make sure to call a professional if you notice any signs of shifting.
• Also, be sure to have your air conditioning system tuned up before the warm weather really kicks in. A dirty system works much harder than a clean one, so be confident that your AC system is working as efficiently as possible to keep you cool this spring and summer.
Pump It Out: Sump pumps, when maintained can save you from costly damage.
• Just like other major appliances in your home, sump pumps should be inspected for wear and tear each year.
• Early spring is a good time to have this check completed because when the thawing from winter begins, the ground becomes more saturated and it rains more often. This means your sump pump is working overtime, especially from March to May. This is especially true if you have experienced a drought recently. With the excess rain that occurs during spring, your sump pump would not be used to working as much and problems could occur.
• Professionals should also check the back-up sump pump in addition to the primary one. If you do not have a back-up pump, you should seriously look into investing in one. If the power goes out or there is a failure in the main pump, the back-up kicks in and can save homeowners thousands of dollars in water damage.
Insulation Appreciation: Insulation keeps both cooled and heated air in the home, thus saving energy.
• After the cold season has passed, you should check out your duct work and insulation to make sure all joints are secure. Early spring is a good time to do this inspection because it is more comfortable to be in tight areas like the attic, since temperatures are not too hot or too cold.
• If you find open areas in your insulation, you are likely losing cold or warm air through these joints, causing a loss of energy and higher fuel bills.
Let Air Flow: Prepare your windows for warm weather, keeping you cooler while saving energy.
• It is important to make sure you have screens in all windows and doors before springtime sets in. The screens should be clean and free of any holes that would allow insects to enter the home. If you don’t have air conditioning, or want to reduce your AC usage to save energy costs, screens can allow air to flow throughout the home to help keep it cool.
• Also, be sure you have blinds on windows that face the south and west. Open windows once the sun has set and close them before sunrise to keep your home cool without air conditioning.
• Check the sealant around exterior windows and doors. Poor weather stripping or caulking can cause cooled air to flow out quickly. Damage to the seal often occurs due to cold weather, and if not resolved, can cause your AC to work harder than necessary to keep your home cool while you pay the cost for lost energy.
Water Heater Deterioration Salvation: Check your water heater in spring to ensure efficiency throughout the season.
• You can extend the life of your water heater by paying attention to the condition of its anode rod. The longevity and efficiency of your water heater is reliant on this piece. This rod is made of magnesium as is used to protect the tank. This rod is sometimes called a sacrificial anode, due to the fact that its purpose is to slowly dissolve and draw corrosion to itself, instead of the tank. The anode rod should be replaced every three to four years, depending on the corrosiveness of your water. If you do not replace the anode rod, it will eventually corrode so much, it breaks off, and then into pieces. Once this happens, your heater will begin to rust and corrode instead of the anode rod.
Check It Out: Maintain your air conditioner for optimal comfort and energy savings.
The best defense against springtime air conditioning and heating problems is to make sure your system is maintained year-round. Having equipment serviced by a reputable company at least once a year could reduce your energy costs and prevent costly repairs and replacements in the future.
This professional inspection should include:
• Checking and cleaning of your entire system, including outdoor A/C units
• Analyzing pressure, temperatures, motors and controls
• Checking, cleaning and calibrating the thermostat
• Lubricating motors where necessary
• Checking air handler, bearings and blower motor
• Inspecting and Cleaning condenser coil
• Inspecting Condenser fan, motor and blades
Out And About: When taking springtime vacations, take energy saving precautions before you leave.
• Many homeowners and their families plan to take vacations during the spring. When leaving for an extended period of time, be sure to turn down the temperature of your water heater to help save money and energy.
• Also, turning up the temperature of your refrigerator can help save you energy while away. If you plan to do this, be sure to remove highly perishable foods, like dairy products, produce and meat. Other less perishable items, like condiments, will still remain edible with the refrigerator temperature set to “low.”
Uprooted: New spring tree growth can cause sewer line issues. Get it checked before the damage sets in.
• Sewer line backups are very common during springtime due to rain entering sewer pipes via cracks. Also, new tree root growth also causes sewer backup issues. Roots are drawn toward the sewer line for a source of nutritious water and not only can block the pipe itself, other objects, like toilet paper, latch onto the roots causing blockage.
• Having a plumber inspect your sewer line pipes before spring sets in will let you know if you are susceptible to a sewer line backup problem or if damage has already occurred. In either situation, your plumber will be able to help you determine the best treatment option.
Plumbing Power: Don’t ignore quick or common plumbing fixes, they will only get worse.
• Common issues that are quick fixes from a plumber, if taken care of early on, are clogged or slow drains. These require a simple drain cleaning and regular maintenance with a drain product, like DrainRight® from Rescue Rooter®.
• Another plumbing issue that is commonly ignored is a leaky faucet that can account for gallons of wasted water in a home, which adds up. The longer you put off problems like clogged drains and leaky faucets, the worse they becomes and can cause the repair to be more expensive than if fixed earlier.
Burning Up: Have you chimney inspected for energy loss.
• Now that you’re most likely done using your chimney for the next several months, you should have it looked at by a professional. Have them inspect the flue and cap for cracks and leaking. This maintenance will prevent both future chimney problems and energy loss.
• Have your chimney cleaned if it has been used during the winter to avoid a smokey smell entering your home due to excessive dampness during the spring and summer. Also, be sure to remove old logs and ashes from your fireplace, if not completed during your cleaning.
Bath Time: Bathtubs can cause damage due to leakage if not sealed properly.
• Just like a sealant is needed around windows and doors to keep warm air in, your bathtub needs the same TLC. Caulking around tubs, showers and sinks provide a seal keeping water from leaking out. This barrier helps keep your floor in good condition, and if you have wood flooring in your bathroom, the caulk will help prevent floor and sub floor rotting.
• If there is missing or cracked caulk, it must be replaced immediately to avoid damage. Check for absent grout as well, as it can cause water to get underneath the bathtub.
• Also be sure that around your bathtub and sink faucets and overflow area are sealed properly. Any leakage requires a plumber’s attention.
Gutter Clutter: Keep gutters clean and flowing freely during spring.
• Gutters work best when they are clean. It is vital to check your gutters and down spouts regularly to ensure proper drainage is occurring and if it is not, be sure to clean them regularly.
• Some homes have a “french drain” where the water flows into an underground pipe system that moves moisture away from the home. Although these drains typically cannot become clogged with leaves or other debris, their drainage area can be blocked, resulting in a backup situation that can cause damage to the home including the foundation. Stay on top of your gutter cleaning to avoid this costly problem.
• With the extra rain in springtime, moisture can become trapped in a clogged gutter and make your home vulnerable to moss and mildew. Also, it is always a good idea to make sure your gutters are firmly connected flush to the roof without any sags or dips.
Wash And Wear: Don’t be a victim to washing machine issues—you can prevent them.
• Washing machine hose failures cause millions of dollars in damages to homes around the country every year.
• Check your washing machine hoses for bulges, leaks or cracks. Also, move your machine at least four inches from the wall to prevent hose kinking and damage, and never leave your home with the washer running.
• Washing machine hoses should be replaced approximately every three years.