Losing heat can be very expennsive. So a relatively small investment of weatherproofing and/or insulation is definitely worth the trouble. Furthermore,, it’s something the do-it-yourselfer can do safely. Usually, we give most of our attenting and servicing to the furnace. It’s the proverbial squeaky door. If it’s not working, or makes noises, you call someone immediately. But leaky windows, doors or even the attic go unattended. So you fix the furnace and give much of its energy to the atmosphere.

Where to start.

Insulation, or should I say lack of it is a serious problem but it’s not the place to start. Lets talk about the doors and windows first. We know that 30 or 40% of your energy loss is caused by leaky windows and doors. You can start outside looking at joints where different materials meet, like where the siding meets the windows. Check existing caulking or weatherproofing. They deteriorate over time, expecially in extreme weather. Shake the windows. If there is any kind of rattling that signals they are loose, there’s likely to be a leak. Do the first floor with a small ladder first. Upstairs, if you have one, needs more time and a bigger ladder. Skip it for now. As you go around the outside, use some kind of colored tape to mark what you’ve found. There are a lot of windows and you will forget. Get a caulking gun and be sure when you caulk that the caulking spans the gap between the materials so that there’s no exit possibility.

Inside, you can do all the windows. Very often, what you can’t get from outside, you can handle inside. Look for the same things inside. Caulk around loose windows and where there seems to be leaks. Frequently, on a cold day, you can literally feel where the cold air is coming in. Mark with tape and caulk. Most houses today have build in storm windows. If you have an old house without them, that’s a very important and not insignificant expense. But that’s another topic.

The same is true about doors. Caulk around them but you have to consider that doors open and close so the bottoms and tops of doors have to be weatherstripped. Constant opening and closing of doors wears the weatherstripping down. It should be replaced periodically and that means taking the door off to reinstall stripping. If you’re not up for that right away, there are decorative strips you can put on the floor at the doors to keep the drafts out and heat escaping.

One thing that’s ignored are electrical outlets. Remove each of them and feel if any cold air is coming in. It’s obvious when you remove the cover if there’s a leak. Also, if you have window air conditioners, they should be removed in the winter. They are a constant source of leaks which you ignore in the summer. But in winter, they have a dramatic effect on energy loss. Another thing you can do is to measure the temperature in different parts of the house and different parts of a room. Much can be learned from that. Next time we’ll go into details about the more difficult weatherproofing tasks.

3 Ways You Can Free Stuck Wooden Windows Without Calling A Professional Handyman

Windows are a vital component to every residential property. These windows aid in improving ventilation and allow much-needed air into a home’s interior. The lack of windows in a house can lead to a suffocating feeling for its residents. Furthermore, it would also trap harmful gases inside a home and can lead to severe respiratory diseases. That’s why you need to maintain your windows at their best condition to ensure proper ventilation.

While most homes have windows made from steel, there are those that prefer wood as its main material. As such, opening a wooden window can be quite a struggle, especially if you fail to maintain them every now and then. When that time comes, don’t panic and break down your window. There are several methods you can use to safely open a stuck wooden window without resorting to destroying it or calling a professional handyman.

First Method

First and foremost, you need to locate the sashes on your wooden windows and break the seal that’s covering them. Then, find a wooden block in your home and a piece of cloth to wrap it with. Make sure you wrap the cloth carefully as to cover every inch of the wooden block. Place the wrapped block against the bottom frame of the window.

Once you have placed this wooden block in the specified location, tap it lightly with a hammer. The window will slowly budge as you do this act. Now, ask someone to hold the wooden block for you on other areas of the window. Again, tap it gently with your hammer until the window has totally opened.

Second Method

If the previous method didn’t work out for you, maybe this one will. To start with, you will need a hammer and a putty knife that uses a stiff blade. Insert the aforementioned knife into your window’s cracks and again, tap it with a hammer in a light manner. Repeat this step until you reach the window sash. The use of a putty knife will help loosen a stuck wooden window and prepare for the next step.

After you have finished the first step, get a block of wood and place it on the window sill. Then, place a pry bar under one end of the window sash. Use the block of wood as a lever and to lift your pry bar and open the window. Repeat it until you have succeeded in this endeavor.

Third Method

This method requires you to be more drastic with your stuck wooden windows. To accomplish the third method, you will need a utility knife to cut the window seal. This act will take a long time but you need to be patient and work carefully. There will also be the presence of paint around this area to hinder you. Just continue cutting it with your utility knife and worry about the paint after. Once you have cut through the seal, shake the sash in a gentle manner to release the window frame free.

The Proper Way to Replace an Old Kitchen Faucet and Why You Can Easily Do It

A kitchen will never be complete without a faucet to provide clean water. This plumbing fixture allows you to have a source of water to help prepare your meals or wash various items in your kitchen and dining room. Without the presence of a working faucet in your kitchen, all of your cooking duties will be severely compromised. If you are in the middle of this particular scenario, the best course of action is to determine why your kitchen faucet is malfunctioning and how it can be best resolved. To help you out, here are the certain replacement steps you should follow if you have a defective faucet in the kitchen.

First and foremost, you need to locate the water valves under your kitchen sink. Once you have located this specific valve, turn it off immediately. This step will stop the flow of water into your kitchen, giving you the freedom to take out your old faucet and replace it with a new one. After turning the valve off, turn on your faucet to drain the remaining water and relieving it from pressure.

Now that there is no water flowing into the faucet, you can now start disconnecting it. To do this feat, you’ll need a pair of channel-locking pliers and an adjustable wrench to help you out. Place the pliers on one end of the water line and use the wrench to loosen it from its position. If the water supply line is showing signs of wear and tear, you should think about replacing them too with a flexible variant. Furthermore, do remember to place a basin underneath the supply line because there will be water coming out once it has been loosened.

After disconnecting the supply line, you can then take out your old and malfunctioning faucet. Be careful as you are performing this step because you might cause damage to other plumbing pipes inside your kitchen sink. There will be some dirt that will come out too from your old faucet so you need to prepare for that as well.

By this time, you should take out your trusty tape measure. This tool will help you get the accurate diameter of the holes in your kitchen sink. Compare those readings with those of your new faucet’s dimensions. This should be done to ensure there will be a perfect fit between the replacement faucet and the sink in your kitchen.

As soon as the measurements match up, insert the new faucet into those holes and seal them with the help of a gasket. After sealing the new faucet, get your tools again to connect it to the water supply line. Once it has been connected, turn on your kitchen’s water valve and the faucet afterwards. You can now check if your new faucet releases water using the right amount of pressure. To make sure everything is working fine, check the area under the sink for any water leaks.

Although it might seem daunting at first, anyone can replace an old and worn out faucet in the kitchen. With the proper set of tools and a little bit of patience, you can accomplish this task faster than what you expected.


Electrical Grounding and Polarization

You guys and gals doing you own electrical work, pay attention to grounding and polarization for safety reasons. With some of the shoddy manufacture of (usually) small appliances, it’s common for insulation to crack or come loose so that, in the worst case, a live wire is making contact with the metal part of the device. If you happen to touch the metal, a shock is in store. A grounding wire picks up this errant power and dumps in into a ground which can be a major pipe or a grounding connection that goes into the footer of the house. The idea way is to connect it to the power panel., which in turn is grounded. When it’s done this way, the power that’s short circuited is routed to the circuit breaker or fuse which does it’s job and cuts power to the outlet. In the ancient days, dropping an appliance like a hair dryer into a bathtub with someone in it would have disastrous consequences. With grounding, that danger is minimized if not eliminated. So if you repair an appliance yourself, watch that all the wires are well insulated and the grounding circuit is intact and properly connected. While you are at it, be sure that the polarization is kept straight. A polarized outlet is designed so that a polarized plug can go into the socket in one way. One side is wider than the other. Why is polarization important? An electric current comes from the live wire into the appliance and back to the source on the neutral wire. In an appliance, the on/off switch is connected to the live wire. If you have it connected the wrong way, the switch may be off but power wire is still connected. This is not a good idea. Polarization avoids the problem by forcing the plug to go in so that when the switch is off, the power is cut.

To be sure a circuit is polarized properly, you should invest in a receptacle analyzer which you plug in and it tells you if the receptacle is correctly wired. It’s not an expensive piece of equipment and if you plan to do any electrical work, it’s one of those tools you should have. In another blog piece later on, I’ll go over the various electrical tools available and what they can do for you.

Preventing Clogs in Your Drain

Clogged drains in a home can be inconvenient and bothersome. Because of this, you need to have them fixed fast. Once you have removed clogs from drains, you need to take cautionary measures to ensure that they do not recur. One thing that you should not forget is that all the causes of clogging are in your home, and you can avoid them if you want to. Try the following methods.

Be more observant of what goes down the drain

You should educate your children about the things that can go down the drains, and those that shouldn’t. Let them be careful with what they drop there so that they do not end up causing clogs all the time. In addition to that, you may want to seal areas where such objects may accidentally drop into the drains. You can put a meshed wire over open drains, and redirect the water that flows after storms so that they do not carry materials into your drains.

Flash hot water through kitchen and bathroom sinks

Clogs that are caused by soap and fat residues can easily be eliminated by regularly flashing hot water through the sinks. This water will melt all the fatty materials so that they flow more easily into the sewer. You do not have to do this every day. However, if you keep doing it regularly, it will be long before you see slowly draining water or water flowing backward in your sinks.

You also can prevent clogged drains by hiring a plumber to regularly inspect them. They will notice clogging early and remove whatever materials that could be causing it. They also can clean the pipes regularly, and ensure that nothing blocks them. Plumbers will also replace the faulty pipes that are likely to cause slower movements of waste water.

This company has licensed, professional plumbers who are experts in handling commercial plumbing needs and emergencies. Call them now and ask for a free estimate.  

Common Plumbing Problems You Shouldn’t Try To Fix Yourself

You probably already have some essential tools that you use to try to solve minor plumbing problems around your home with the hope of saving money. This can be anything from leaking toilets, clogged sinks to slow drains. However, if you don’t have the necessary skills to fix a problem with precision and accuracy, you might end up causing extensive damage that will cost you more in the long run. With that in mind, here are some of the plumbing issues you shouldn’t attempt at home:

Gas Line Plumbing

Doing plumbing on your home’s gas line without the proper skills or tools is extremely dangerous. It doesn’t matter how much you love DIY projects, stay away from gas lines if you value your life. Only licensed plumbers should handle gas lines.

Dishwasher Installation

Most household appliances such as dishwashing machines come with a user manual containing the steps for installation. You might be tempted to try to install it yourself because the steps seem easy, but don’t. That’s because there are complexities involved in the installation process that are best left to professionals. For instance, installing drainage or water lines beneath your kitchen sink can only be done by professionals.

Repairing a Leaking Septic Tank

If you reside in an isolated area, sometimes, the water leaving your toilet, bath tub or sink may pass through a septic tank as opposed to a sewer line. What happens when your septic tank suddenly leaks? I know the stench emitted can be overwhelming but don’t be tempted to repair a leaking septic; call a licensed plumber instead. These experts have the tools, knowledge, and experience to solve the issue once and for all.

Clogged Drains

The drains in your home can clog because of age or lack of care (if you let grease, food particles or hair down your bathtub, sink or shower). In such instances, you’ve probably used a plumbing snake or chemical to try to unclog the drain by yourself. However, using either of these may not clear the obstruction as you expected. Instead, you might end up damaging the drain pipes and worsen the situation further. By further I mean being forced to replace the entire drain system. This is way more costly than hiring a plumbing expert to handle the problem as soon as it happens.

So, avoid DIY plumbing if you don’t have the necessary skills to do a particular project. It’s much better to hire professional, licensed plumbers like this company has. You can count on their expertise and they will do the job right every time. 

Don’t Bring Bedbugs Home from Your Vacation!

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Vacation time should be time that you can relax and unwind. Unfortunately, bed bugs can be a serious concern for vacationers, as these tiny creatures are rampant in hotels today.

Here are some travel tips that can help you to prevent bed bugs.

Check hotel reviews

Check out the reviews of your hotel to see if anyone has reported bedbugs at this particular hotel. It’s important for you to know ahead of time, because you can always choose to stay somewhere else! If you do still have to stay at that hotel, you can take plastic bags to seal your clothing in as well as other precautions to prevent bed bugs from hitching a ride home with you.

At your hotel

Once you do get to your hotel, do a room inspection to see if there are any dried blood spots on the bedding. Look at fabric on chairs, check the creases of the mattress, look at the headboard and in the drawers. Should you find any evidence at all of bed bugs in your room, contact the management of the hotel as soon as possible. Insist that they give you another room that doesn’t border your current room on any side.

Once you do get in (and inspect your new room), unpack just the clothes that you’re going to wear, and put your shoes up off of the floor. Keep everything sealed safely in plastic bags to keep bed bugs from getting in.

At home

Once you’re home in Jersey City, look closely at everything  for signs of bed bugs. Unpack your bags outside or in the garage to prevent bugs from coming into your home. Should you find bedbugs, wash everything in hot water or dry on the highest setting in your dryer for ten minutes.

With these simple tips, you can prevent bringing bed bugs home before you find yourself needing to bring in a pest control company when you get home!

This company is the one to call if you have a bed bug infestation in your home or business. Do not underestimate this pesky pest as they multiply fast. Request for a free quote today.

What’s that Smell? How I Banished Garbage Disposal Smells from My Sink

Photo credit: Dean Hochman via / CC BY

There are places in the kitchen that seem to just gather smells. The trash can. The produce drawer in the fridge. The trap in the bottom of the dishwasher. The garbage disposal.

The thing that these all have in common is that they’re where food goes to decompose. It’s the bacteria that goes with decomposition that causes the smell. We don’t like these smells because they signal that bacteria – which our bodies of course are naturally averse to. Yes, that sickening feeling in your stomach when you smell your stinky garbage disposal is a survival thing.

Last week I was in the kitchen making some tacos for dinner for my two teenagers when I go a whiff of something that made my stomach lurch. What was that? I checked the fridge. Nope, that wasn’t it. I checked the trash can to find that it was empty (that boy of mine had taken out the trash!). Then I followed my nose to the sink to find the source – the garbage disposal! Ick!

Though everyone in my household is really good about keeping the water running while the garbage disposal is running, apparently that’s not enough to keep bacteria totally out. Who knew?

I quickly decided to come figure this problem out – after Taco Tuesday dinner of course.

Cleaning the garbage disposal blades

First off – NEVER STICK YOUR HAND OR ANOTHER OBJECT INTO YOUR GARBAGE DISPOSAL. I cannot overstate this. No smell is worth losing a finger or sending a rigid object flying towards you when your garbage disposal kicks it out. Cleaning your garbage disposal NEVER involves putting anything rigid down there, and of course you should NEVER put your hand in the garbage disposal. You probably didn’t need to know that, but it’s worth saying firmly.

This part isn’t so hard. Luckily I had used some fresh lime juice to make the taco filling, so I was perfectly placed to get to the deep down smell. To clean garbage disposal blades, all you need to do is to put something down there and run the garbage disposal as usual. Here are some ideas.

  • Pour half a cup of baking soda and one cup of vinegar down your garbage disposal and let sit for five minutes. Then run the hot water and turn on your garbage disposal.
  • Pour two cups of ice down your disposal. Add a cup of coarse salt. Turn on the cold water and run the disposal until the ice is gone.
  • Stuff the rind of two lemons or three limes down your garbage disposal and run as usual.

I of course used the lime rinds that I had leftover from Taco Tuesday. It worked like a charm!

How to clean a garbage disposal splash guard

This was SO much easier than I ever imagined.

What you need:

  • Old tooth brush
  • Antibacterial, anti-grease kitchen cleaner spray

All you’ve got to do is to lift up the corners of the splash guard and spray your cleaner, then scrub off the crud, one corner at a time. Again, NEVER stick your fingers down near the blades, even if the garbage disposal is off. Rinse with cold water, working your way around the edges. Take your time, running cold water to see how you’re doing. It’s cleaning the underside of the garbage disposal guard that makes the difference here, so get in there!

If you’ve never cleaned your splash guard (like me), then you might find that this takes a little while. But in ten minutes you’ll be done with the whole process! No more bacteria. No more smell. Next time I’m sending my sixteen-year-old to do this one. DIY I for everyone!

Meanwhile, if you need to get a new disposal, you can find them here.  (We will do a DIY article on how to replace them in the near future.  it’s not hard!).

What Causes a Clogged Sewer?

To date, a clogged sewer is still one of the most common plumbing problems. This problem develops over time and by the time you notice it, the dirt in the plumbing system will have piled to unbelievable levels. Although everyone rushes to find a plumber to unblock such sewers, studies show that most of them do not even know what causes it. The following are some of the most common causes of sewer clogging.

Soap and fat residues

The soap that you use in your bathroom and kitchen can slowly cause clogging in the sewer line. Soap particles often stick to the walls of pipes and drains and therefore, they become a huge chuck of solid as time goes by. They may accumulate right under the sink of in the other parts of pipes. In addition to that, fats from dishes in the kitchen can also cause clogging. When you wash dishes, the fats solidify as they drain and may cause blockage.

Foreign objects

Food particles, sanitary towels, pieces of cloth, children’s toys and many other objects that are introduced in the sewer lines can cause a clogged sewer. In fact, these ones will cause instant clogging unlike soap which accumulates over time. A child could be playing with one of their toys and accidentally drops them into the drainage. It may take a lot of time to identify where the problem is even though all that you need to do is to take the item out.

Other factors that are likely to cause a clogged sewer include faulty pipes and poor plumbing. When the pipes break, they are likely to block the drainage of water at that point and so, you will have to fix it before you can enjoy a smooth flow of water through the sewer line again.

If you are a landlord, be sure and put IN THE LEASE with all your tenants that NOTHING should go in the toilets that is not human wasted or toilet paper.  It helps to list everything, which embarrasses them and keeps them honest.  If you have a plumber / drain cleaner come to your property, have him tell you what he found, and and then tell your tenants, because it can’t be argued with. This goes a long way to outing the people who are the worst offenders.