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10 Things a Homeowner Needs to Know

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.

Things a homeowner needs to know tips gutter cleaning wichita gutter king wichita

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.

A split tree trunk. Things a homeowner needs to know tips gutter cleaning wichita gutter king wichita
A split tree trunk

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

Call 811 before you dig. 10 things a homeowner needs to know. Things a homeowner needs to know tips gutter cleaning wichita gutter king wichita
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 know

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.

You need to carefully turn the handle several turns to fully close a gate valve. 10 things a homeowner needs to know.

You need to carefully turn the handle several turns to fully close a gate valve

things a homeowner needs to know

This ball valve is open when the handle aligns with the pipe. To close it, turn the handle clockwise 1/4 turn so that it is at a right angle to the pipe.

This ball valve is open when the handle aligns with the pipe. To close it, turn the handle clockwise 1/4 turn so that it is at a right angle to the pipe

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.

Temperature dial on a hot water heater. 10 things a homeowner needs to know.
Temperature dial on a hot water heater

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.

A very dirty filter. 10 things a homeowner needs to know.
A very dirty filter

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

A toilet flapper
A toilet flapper

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

Potato peels belong in the trash, not the sink. 10 things a homeowner needs to know.
Potato peels belong in the trash, not the sink

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.

A water heater with small puddles of water.
A water heater with small puddles of water

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

Ground fault circuit interrupt (GFCI)
Ground fault circuit interrupt (GFCI)

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.

clogged gutter Things a homeowner needs to know tips gutter cleaning wichita gutter king wichita

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 siding and 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.

Give your home the TLC it deserves with Gutter King Wichita.

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10 Wintertime Tips for Your Home

home maintenance

Your home needs several types of maintenance at different times of the year. Some tasks are performed monthly, quarterly or yearly. Other tasks are performed just once each season. January or February is a great time of the year to check off the items listed below. Here are 10 wintertime tips we hope you find useful to preserve your home for cold months ahead.

1. Check the Fireplace

Chimney gutter cleaning wichita gutter king wichita

For example, check for cracks on the chimney structure, as well as loose bricks or missing mortar. A wire-mesh cap should cover the top of the chimney to keep out critters, leaves, and rain. Also, check for creosote build up in your chimney. Call a professional chimney cleaner if you’re not sure when or how to clean your chimney.

2. Drain Sediment From Your Water Heater

home maintenance water heater

We do not know many people who actually do this; however, it most certainly can extend the life of your water heater by years. Sediment will collect at the bottom of a tank and create hot spots which can cause the tank to leak. If you have an electric-powered tank, sediment can cause the lower heating element to fail. Therefore, experts recommend draining water heaters at least once each year.

10 wintertime tips

3. Clean Up & Donate to Charity

home maintnenance

Winter months are a great time to go through your house and collect things that you or your family no longer uses. So, put on your favorite music and place a plastic tub in each room.

4. Prevent Outside Water Faucets from Freezing

home maintenance

Oh, the joy of going into your relaxing, cozy den only to discover wet carpet, soggy sheetrock, and water dripping down the wall. Firstly, we’re not pointing fingers here, but garden hoses should be removed from all faucets, including frost-free. The reason is that the water may not drain down properly away from the faucet. Instead, it will expand in the spigot and pipe. And finally, when that happens, you can expect a water leak, costly repairs to the interior, and costly plumber services.

10 wintertime tips

5. Prepare for Winter Storms

home maintenance ice storm wichita kansas

Unfortunately, with winter storms there can be heavy ice or strong winds which cause power outages. Therefore, you should have plenty of bottled water, non-perishables, first-aid supplies, toiletry items, a phone charger for your car, and flashlights. Check out the CDC’s recommendations for cold weather preparedness.

6. Stop Ice Dams From Forming

ice dam home maintenance wichita ks

Some homes are more likely to form ice dams than others. Ice dams are contiguous chunks of ice that form along the edges of your roof. They’re no big deal when they’re frozen. But when outside temps warm up, water melting off the roof will flow downward and pool behind the ice. This is when water will seep under the shingles. Eventually, the water will drip through and into the soffits, walls, and even onto your ceilings.

10 wintertime tips

7. Reverse Ceiling Fans

home maintenance wichita ks

Winter = Clockwise, Slowest Speed

Summer = Counter Clockwise

It’s that easy! In the summer, you want the air pushing straight down on you to help cool. In the winter, you want a gentle updraft to push warm air, which naturally rises to the ceiling, down along the walls and the floor.

10 wintertime tips

8. Protect Patio Furniture

snow patio furniture home maintenance wichita ks

You can extend the life of your patio furniture by taking a few winterizing steps. For example, you can apply a specialty oil finish on wood patio furniture and you can give aluminum powder-coated furniture a coat of automotive wax. After applying these protective coatings, dry thoroughly, then cover with a tarp.

9. Purchase Salt or Sand

ice removal sidewalk home maintenance wichita ks

Provide traction for family, friends, neighbors, and those delivering your Amazon Prime packages, by stocking up on sand or ice melt. For those with north-side exposure, you may have sidewalk surfaces or driveways in shade. These areas are particularly susceptible to ice or black ice. In the photo, you can see the condensation is on only part of the sidewalk–the section which is closest to the house and the entryway. The reason for this is because the air warmed up quickly today, from 21°F to 52°F. The sidewalk in the sun is warmer than the sidewalk in the shade, therefore we have condensation. Furthermore, ice will form again on this sidewalk in a few hours, when the temperature drop below 32°F.

10 wintertime tips

10. Clean Your Gutters

gutter cleaning wichita clogged

Clogged gutters in the winter are a particularly bad situation in this area because of the rainy season just around the corner. Your gutters must be free from leaf muck, sticks, pine cones, and leaves, in order to move water away from your home. If you haven’t already, call Gutter King Wichita to clean your gutters.

5 Tips to Prevent Winter Damage to Your Gutters

prevent winter damage to your gutters ice dam

Winter gutter maintenance is necessary for safe and long-lasting roofs. For instance, you might think gutter care is less important in winter; however, gutters can be damaged winter cold. Below, we have tips to prevent winter damage to your gutters

Inspect 

Regularly inspect your roof and gutters to make sure there aren’t blockages or breaks. Scoop out leaves and debris. Run water through your gutter and downspout. Unclog the spout if water doesn’t flow freely. Also, check for slow-moving water towards the downspout. This coudl be an indication of issues with pitch or slope.

prevent winter damage to your gutters

Insulation

Quality attic insulation and ventilation can prevent ice dams from forming. You should have a minimum of 12 inches of insulation in your attic. Typically, if you can see the ceiling joists, you need more insulation.


prevent winter damage to your gutters

Gaps

Attach seams and anchors firmly to the house. For example, there should be no gap between the fascia and gutter. If your gutters are not attached correctly to the sides of the house, this can create a gap. If ice and snow accumulate in this gap, gutters are easily damaged.

prevent winter damage to your gutters

Pitch

Pitch gutters properly to allow water to travel into the downspout. Gutters need to be pitched 1/2 inch per 10 linear feet, to lead water into your downspout.

prevent winter damage to your gutters

Above All, Hire a Professional

Even with proper winter maintenance, there are still issues which can damage gutters. In the winter, backed up water can freeze and result in ice dams, which will damage the roof of your home! And the slower water drains from your gutters, the easier it is to freeze in cold weather.

Call us today for a free gutter inspection. If needed, we also provide a free estimate to clean and repair your gutters. You’ll see for yourself the reason why we continue to leave our customers extremely pleased.

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