Tips to solve problems, save money, and improve your home. Not every home’s a fixer-upper, but all houses need occasional repairs and maintenance. Below are 10 things a homeowner needs to know.
1. Do Not Cut Down a Tree “Just Because”
Before deciding to cut down a tree on your property, consider the risk. Even small trees can fall awkwardly and cause damage to your house or your neighbor’s property.
The tree above is split down the trunk and would likely damage nearby structures if not removed. Sometimes cutting down a tree is required; however, always thoughtfully consider your options.
DO hire a professional tree service to examine your tree and provide options that best suit you and your needs. Furthermore, the longevity of your tree depends on the trimming, pruning, and canopy maintenance. A tree must have proper care from the beginning to provide you with beauty and shade. Also, the shade from a tree ultimately decreases energy bills.
2. Utility Lines Can Kill – Call 811 Before You Dig
Before you install a fence, plant a shrub, install a pond or anything landscape related, call to have the underground utility lines marked. Hitting an underground line can cause serious harm or even death. Remember, know what is below; always call 811 before you dig!
things a homeowner needs to
3. If a Pipe Bursts, You Need to Know the Location of Your Main Water Shutoff Valve
The main valve is the one to stop most plumbing catastrophes, such as a burst pipe. A homeowner needs to make sure everyone knows where this valve is located and knows how to turn it off.
things a homeowner needs to know
In warm climates, the main water shutoff is typically outside, attached to a wall or underground.
In colder climates, the main water shutoff is typically in the basement. There is also a “curb stop” shutoff that requires a special tool to operate.
things a homeowner needs to know
4. Hot Water from the Kitchen Faucet Can Scald Your Hands
A water heater set too hot is the reason why thousands of children arrive at the hospitals each year with serious burns.
The best temperature for your hot water is 120 degrees F. Although most water heater dials do not have temperature labels, you can check the temperature with a thermometer. Run hot water for at least three minutes. And then fill a glass. Using a thermometer, check the temperature. If the water is above 120 degrees, adjust the dial, wait a few hours, and check once again.
5. A Dirty or Missing HVAC Filter Will Cost You Money
When you set your thermostat to warm up your house, a couple of things happen. For example, a heat exchanger or electric coil activates. And then air pushes through the furnace with a blower fan and is heated by the exchanger. And finally, in a clean system, this air goes through the evaporator coil and into the supply ductwork.
The evaporator coil has a bunch of tiny air passages that make it work correctly. Therefore, if these are blocked, you’re gonna get cold. Not only will the dirt and junk restrict airflow, but it will also limit heat output. And unless you just turn off your furnace altogether, your HVAC system will have to run longer to reach the temperature you set on your thermostat. And the longer it runs, the higher your utility bills.
Your HVAC technician should service your unit once yearly. However, the filter of your HVAC unit tends to get dirty every month. This means that you will either need to call your HVAC every month or check it and change yourself. Although it depends on what type of air filter you use, you need to change it every one to three months.
Check the condition of your filter and change monthly if:
- you have pets or
- a large family or
- your unit is used six months a year to year-round
- there is a smoker in the house
- you live on a gravel road or in an area with high winds
Change the filter immediately if:
- the filter is warped or bent from blocking airflow
- there is evidence of microbial growth on the filter
To change the filter:
- using a marker, write the date of installation on the filter frame
- turn off the unit
- follow directions for your unit, to install the filter in the proper airflow direction
- also, make sure the filter frame does not bend when you install
- replace the lever, seal, or door
things a homeowner needs to know
6. Stop a Running Toilet
The most common cause of a toilet running is a worn flapper that no longer seals properly. In other words, if this flapper leaks, water will seep into the bowl.
To check the flapper: Open the top of the toilet. Use something long like a yardstick to press lightly on the flapper. If the sound of running water stops, you know that the problem is related to the flapper.
However, before you bother to replace it, run your finger around the opening that the flapper rests on. Mineral deposits on the rim will prevent the flapper from sealing. In that case, remove the deposits with an abrasive scrubber. If this does not fix it, replace the flapper.
7. Potato Peels and Garbage Disposals are Not Friends
Some foods do not grind down easily and will clog your sink, jam your disposal, or ruin it altogether. Furthermore, you risk flooding your kitchen and basement ceilings if you try to plunge a clogged sink! Do not put these items into your garbage disposal:
- grease will solidify and clog the drainpipe
- bones and pits can dull the blades, jam the disposal, or get stuck in the drainpipe
- potato peels have a huge amount of starch that can clump up and form a thick paste
- glass, paper, metal, and plastic can dull or jam the disposal blades
8. A Small Puddle at Your Water Heater is Never Okay
Do not gamble on your water heater. Water heaters sometimes leak from the drain or relief valves, which are easy to replace. But if a leak is coming from the tank, watch out.
Most leaks come from the hot water tank itself. If the tank leaks, there is a problem. For example, it is likely that one of the components has sprung a leak and caused water to slowly leak out and pool at the bottom of the tank.
Usually, the cause of this is sediment build-up inside the tank. If you leave the sediment long enough, it will begin to crack and rust the steel tank, eventually leading to a leak.
A leak from the tank itself almost always means the water heater will need to be replaced. In this scenario, you can contact a professional plumber to investigate further.
Left alone, a damaged tank will eventually rupture, and then you have an instant flood. It might take months or just days for a leak to become a flood—but it will happen. So, do not gamble; replace that ticking time bomb now.
9. A GFCI Outlet Only Needs to be on a Circuit–Not in Every Bathroom or Kitchen
Do you know that sometimes all bathroom outlets and one or more exterior outlets are powered through a single GFCI located in one bathroom or elsewhere, such as in a random basement room? The GFCI needs only to be in the CIRCUIT. Not in every bathroom or at every sink. For example, we found several homes where the GFCI in the basement powered the exterior electric outlet near the front porch AND the three bathroom outlets.
If there is an outage, locate all of your GFCI’s and push the reset button. That may be all you need to restore power.
10. Clogged Gutters Can Destroy a Home
They really can. We have seen it.
Here are just three ways clogged gutters do big damage:
- An overflowing gutter creates pools of water at the foundation. These pools of water will penetrate cracks and pores in the concrete foundation. When the foundation deteriorates, water may make its way into the basement ceiling, walls, and flooring.
- Clogged gutters are heavy! This weight pulls the fascia away from the roof structure. Consequently, this allows water to enter the attic and drip down into the interior. Or worse, it can saturate attic insulation and trigger toxic microbial growth.
- Overflowing gutters lead water down the exterior walls of your home. Siding is not always completely waterproof and cannot resist continuous water flow. Water will seep behind
sidingand penetrate exterior wood sheathing. Eventually, the water makes its way into your home. And when this happens, it could saturate your interior wallboards and again, facilitate microbial growth in your home.
We are here for you. Prepare your home for Spring by ensuring your gutters are free of debris and in good shape before the rain sets in.