How to Keep Cool and Maintain Your Home’s A/C

HVAC MaintenanceIt’s the middle of the summer in Maryland and that means over 90 degree temperatures. Staying cool and comfortable is becoming more of a daily struggle. You may have noticed that your HVAC unit has started acting up because you have neglected it for the past few months of temperate weather. Even if you are enjoying the weather, don’t neglect and take your home for granted. Maintaining your home’s heating and air conditioning unit is a year round chore. Although routine service and maintenance from a professional HVAC repair company in Baltimore is essential, there are some small tasks that you should take on yourself as a homeowner. Listed below are our three tips to keeping your A/C unit working all summer long.

Don’t Forget the Filters

If your HVAC unit has old and dirty filters it could be negatively impacting you’re A/C unit as well as your overall home efficiency. Set a date every month that you replace your filters, remember you may have multiple vent filters scattered throughout your home. Consider purchasing a washable air filter that you can clean and then reuse. Look for filters with a MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) rating between 1-12 depending on your home environment and your particular air conditioning unit. Setting a day every month where you do this will help you not to forget or neglect your HVAC unit.

Program Your Thermostat

If you have a central air unit, consider installing a programmable thermostat and set the temperature higher when you know you will be away. Unless you are going to be away for more than 48 hours, don’t completely turn off the unit. When you return your HVAC unit’s compressor will have to work much harder to cool down your house again. If a programmable thermostat isn’t an option, you can buy a timer for your adjustable thermostat. Built-in timers usually cost around $15 at your local home improvement store.

Don’t Block the Compressor

You want to make sure that you do not obstruct you’re A/C systems compressor and condenser which is normally located right outside of your home close to the foundation. It is ideal if your condenser is installed on the east or north facing portion of the house as to avoid direct sunlight. This can increase home efficiency by as much as ten percent. Make sure to clear a path about two feet in radius to any obstacles such as tall grass or shrubbery. The compressor is the life blood of your HVAC unit and keeps refrigerant moving throughout the system. But don’t let this fool you; the compressor actually generates heat by putting the air conditioning refrigerant under high amounts of pressure.

Tips to Installing and Maintaining Your Carpets

The floors in your home can say a lot about you, maybe more than you would like. If your carpets are in poor condition and not visually appealing as well, you may want to look into replacing them. There are a lot of options out there when it comes to carpets. You can choose from various colors, textures, and carpet piles that best fit your home’s style while also being functional in order to fit your lifestyle. However, picking out new carpeting for your home is the easy part yet installing may not be so fun or simple. Below are 7 tips to keep in mind when adding carpeting to your Northern Virginia home.

1.  Measure, Measure, Measure

I am emphasizing this point for a reason. Measuring the room you want to carpet prior to shopping, purchasing, and again before installation is essential to getting the optimal result you desire. By knowing the width and length of the room, this will help you determine how much carpet is needed. This can help you with design as well as staying on budget. Know that depending on where you purchase your carpet from, the company may require their own professional installation team to complete the job in order for any warranties to remain intact.

2.  Check Your Bare Floors

Remove any existing carpeting, flooring, and shoe molding to check the bare bones of your home floors. Once you have completed this step, with the proper footwear, walk over the floor and take notice of any squeaking noises. Make sure to mark these spots with electrical or painters tape so you or your professional carpet installer can go back and insert a drywall screw into the floor joist.

3.  Install a Tack Strip

A tack strip is an essential material when it comes to properly install carpeting. They typically made of Douglas fir wood measuring around four feet long and one inch high. A tack strip is to be installed around the perimeter of the room. Be careful on this step because the strip contains sharp tacks that hold carpeting in place.  When installing the tack strip, be sure to place the strip about half of an inch away from the wall. Use your fingers and place your fingertips between the wall and the tack strip, this will be approximate distance where you should install the tack strip on your subfloor. Nail down the tack strip, even around air vents and other obstructions. Make sure you have at least one nail for every two feet of strip.

4.  Remember the Carpet Cushion

This is one step you do not want to skip. The second you or your guests walk on your carpets they will be sure to notice that you forgot to install the carpet cushion. Make sure you invest in a high quality carpet cushion. Starting from the corner of your room completely roll out the carpeting cushion, trimming as close to the tack strip as possible. Again, make sure to staple the carpet cushion to the tack strip every two feet or so.

5.  Add the Carpeting

Line up the carpet to the edges of the room, running it along the baseboard. Once properly measured and fitted, cut the carpet twice vertically and then once horizontally. Make sure to start in a corner of the room and work your way outward nailing down the carpet every five inches. If possible, use nails with a wide head so that if you choose to change your flooring in the future, carpet removal will be far easier.

6.  Extra Touch-ups

If needed, trim the carpet using a plastic paddle. Get precise edges by using a wooden end of the hammer to firmly press down and place the carpet into the tack strip. Be sure not to hammer down the carpet into the tack strip because the tacks will bend and no longer be able to hold the carpet. Depending on the material of your carpet, choose the right power stretcher and apply it to the width of the room. A cotton head power stretcher is intended for loop-pile carpet while a pinhead is designed for cut pile carpet. Invest in a carpet trimmer to get a professional and precise cut down to the carpet gulley. These are typically less than $40 and can be purchased from your local home improvement store.

7.  Keep it Clean

Now that you’ve invested the money, time, and energy to add new carpeting to your home make sure you properly maintain it. This starts the second after carpet installation completion by simply vacuuming. Also, keep in mind to schedule an annual professional carpet cleaning service from a local expert you can trust. Build a relationship with your favorite Northern VA carpet cleaning company and try to schedule it around the same time every year to keep you from forgetting and neglecting your carpet. For daily maintenance be sure to vacuum once or twice a week.

Is Your Electrical Panel Still Up to The Job? Here’s How to Find Out

Your electrical panel is the pulsing heart of every electronic system in your house. Every home appliance – and every device that needs power – relies on a functioning electrical panel in order to function. But despite its importance, most people are entirely unfamiliar with their panels. Most haven’t looked inside their panels for the months, if not years, since the last time a circuit breaker tripped.

If it’s been a long time since you’ve looked inside your electrical panel, now would be a good time to perform a visual check at the least. If you see anything that isn’t supposed to be there, you’ll be able to call a local professional electrical service before the problem becomes a much bigger concern. Here are a few things to watch for when you inspect your electrical panel:

Identify the manufacturer of your electrical panel. You’ll be looking for two names in particular: Federal Pacific or Zinsco. Electrical panels from these two manufacturers are known for having circuit breakers that don’t trip when needed; if the breakers don’t trip during a current overload, all of the connected systems, appliances, and devices in your home will be highly vulnerable to power surges. If you see either of those two names, you’ll want to call a reliable, local electrician.

You’ll also want to know when your electrical panel was installed. While panels can function for decades, many older models were not designed to handle the demands of modern homes filled with dozens of electronics. There is no set rule-of-thumb when it comes to the lifetime of an electrical panel; but if your panel is decades old and you use a significant number of electrical devices (and most of us do), you may want to have your panel evaluated by a pro.

Take a look at the condition of the panel. Even though you lack the eye and the experience of a professional electrician, you’ll recognize some signs of trouble. Moisture, for example, could be an issue. You don’t want to see any sign of moisture inside the panel – a bad mix with electricity. You also don’t want to see any sign of previous moisture, which could leave tell-tale corrosion. Finally, you don’t want to see anything that looks missing, mismatched, or out of place – these are signs of amateur work that should be checked.

Maybe by now, you might be starting to wonder if your inspection will miss something, if it might be a better idea to have someone with experience take a look at your panel. That would be the smartest thing you could do. While any inspection of your panel is better than none, many recommend an annual inspection by a licensed electrician and for good reason: That panel works every hour of every day, handling one of your home’s most important functions. Give that hardworking electrical panel the respect it deserves, and give it the care it needs to keep right on working.

A Brief Overview: Deck Renewal

Handyman Project: Renewing an Old Deck

Home improvement topics and home repair projects are a common interest among many homeowners today.  By doing the work yourself, you wind up saving money and in the end you learn quite a bit of valuable information and gain new skills.  Today, I’m going to briefly cover the topic of renewing the appearance of your deck – as it’s actually much more simple than completely building a brand new structure all together, and avoids the complication of having to update everything to meet the ever changing building code in your area.  You can either choose to take on the project yourself, or if you don’t feel up to the challenge then plenty of contractors and handyman service providers in Richmond would be more than happy to tackle the challenge for you.  I personally recommend The Carpentry & Painting Experts as the professionals of choice, check them out if hiring a professional is something that interests you!

Material Choices

evergrain-composite-deckingSo, renewing the appearance of your deck is going to require some thought, and of course a bit of an investment.  Knowing how much of a budget you have to work with is crucial here, as there are several options that are expensive, but also very appealing.  In general, one commonly used material today is composite decking boards.  These boards are made from recycled materials, and best of all they are going to last a LONG time – far much longer than the typical salt treated wood that you find on most older decks.  The downside is that even though you won’t have to maintain composite decking at all – it does cost on average slightly more than twice that of standard wood.  The choice is completely up to you – and the material used is not going to change the process moving forward, so take a moment to consider it.

Out with the oldDecking-Board-Removal-300x300

Hopefully this process isn’t going to be too much of a hassle.  Decide on whether or not you are going to replace the side railing first, if you aren’t then it’s important to be careful with your approach here.  If you are, then go ahead and remove the railing before touching any of the deck boards themselves.

Once you have the railing topic sorted out, go ahead and start removing the decking boards one by one.  This is going to be easier if they happen to be screwed in, and drilling out any that have been stripped is a much wiser idea than trying to beat them off the deck (and damaging the underlying structure).

Inspect the Supporting Beams

decksupport

Once everything is off of the top of the deck, take a look at the beams and supporting structure underneath.  Identify anything that may be concerning – rotted wood, damage beams, and other structural damage is going to need to be replaced at this point in order to maintain a safe deck.  If nothing looks like it’s in bad shape, then take some measurements  and count up how many boards you are going to need for replacements. Tip: When shopping for your replacement materials, it’s a great idea to get on average 15% more materials than you actually need.  Mistakes happen, and having extra on hand is going to save you time on unnecessary trips to the hardware store.  After all, you can return unused materials without a problem!

busted deck boards

Cut the decking boards to fit the length of the deck, and don’t worry if some of them are slightly longer than others.  Attach them with TWO DECK SCREWS PER SUPPORT BEAM, MAKING SURE NOT TO PLACE THE SCREWS TOO CLOSE TO THE OUTER EDGE OF THE BOARD. Not doing this will result in a split board, and will waste materials in the end. After all of the decking boards are attached, take a circular saw and cut off the excess overhang of each board, so that everything is consistent and even – appearance is important here!  After that, you can do a number of things to improve the lifespan of your deck – from staining to treating.

Home Replacement Windows

Living in Brooklyn you will experience a lot of window damage due to rowdy vandals or just flying projectiles from street cleaning. Not only will window damage affect your home but the severe heat during the summer and coolness during the winter causes damage to window frames over time. Over time you will have to replace your windows so that you can improve the look of your home and regain home energy efficiency. You could always use a standard window contractor and cheap windows for your home, but that means you will have to end up paying more in the future.

By purchasing the best quality right off the bat you will end up hitting home runs in savings and increased home value. By installing Andersen replacement windows like the ones found at brooklynreplacementwindow.com you will gain a higher home value and a lot of money saved each month through energy savings.

Each Andersen window is custom built to fit your specific window opening. Any other company would just pull a standard window size out of their warehouse and install it on your home. This is a very bad practice because it if that window frame doesn’t fit the window opening correctly then you will lose a lot of money heating and cooling your home. You can trust that every single Anderson window will fit properly and give your home the proper insulation that it needs.

All Andersen windows come with high performing window glass that helps insulate your home and keep down those annoying electricity bills. Your HVAC system will no longer have to run at maximum capacity to keep your home cool or warm because the windows will help insulate the temperature in your home at all times.

If you want to have the best brand in replacement windows then I strongly suggest purchasing Andersen windows. They have been performing window installation services for the past 100 years and there are no other installers that are more professional then the service professionals at Brooklyn Replacement Window.

Choose the Right Auto Repair Shop

car in need of auto repairWe have all done it before with our cars, something we soon regret which costs us a great deal of money and sometimes extra time as well. Im talking about bringing your car to a bad mechanic or car repair shop. Because of the demand in this industry for work on cars, there are a lot of subpar businesses around and it can be really difficult to spot which is which. Even if the company has just one or two bad employees it can make for a risk that you shouldn’t take when it comes to something as valuable as your vehicle.

So how can you be sure you are taking your company to the best auto repair service in your area? While you can never completely sure, one great way is to look for online reviews. These days with the internet, its harder for bad businesses so survive so check them out online before you call for any auto work. Next I like to see how long they have been in business for much of the same reason. Finally I give them a call and make sure they are friendly on the phone. I have no need to work with anyone who doesn’t appreciate and work for my business to some degree.

Finding a reliable auto repair shop can be as good as gold, so if you do find one then keep coming back. For the rest of us, it might take a little bit of trial and error but if you are not happy with your current service don’t be afraid to try different shops. What I used to like to do is take my car somewhere else for little things like an oil change to get a feel for if I would trust them with more advanced problems.

Great Glass Service

It is difficult to find great in home glass service because most glass companies are not concerned with customer service. Any service company should focus largely on customer service because that is what the customer is experiencing. I have recently experienced great glass service from a company called Glass Doctor. I wanted to share with everyone how great the service and glass repair was performed so that you know the best service out there. If you are interested in seeing the company’s website then just visit westchester.glassdoctor.com.

My son has a habit of throwing rocks at the side of our home and just like any other 10 year old child he doesn’t listen to my warnings. One day he was throwing rocks at the side of our home and one rock ended up going throw one of our side windows. After grounding my son I began looking for glass repair companies in my area.

I found Glass Doctor and called to get an estimate of service and they offered to come out that afternoon free of charge to give me a quote. Our home windows are French pane windows and I just needed one pane replaced on the window. The technician came out to my home and was very friendly and courteous. He began measure the size of glass that I needed replaced and give me price of service. I was surprised at the low cost of the replacement and signed off on the price.

It only took them about three days to cut the size glass that I needed and the same technician called and informed me that the glass was ready for replacement. We scheduled an appointment time and he showed up exactly on time like he had the first time and began replacing the broken pane.

He completed the task in a little under twenty minutes and make sure that he cleaned up any mess he made from the repair and went on his way. I was very pleased with the speed and quality of glass repair and I would call them again in the future for any glass repair or replacement needs.

Repairing a Toilet Is Easier Than You Think

When it comes to repairs, I like to get things done on my own. So on a random weekend, you’re liable to find me in my backyard in Cedar Park, Texas, fiddling with everything from cars to lawnmowers. The same goes for plumbing repair: I’ve had my head under every sink in the house at one time or another. I’ve replaced pipe and cleared my share of clogs. But until last week, I’ve never tried to fix a toilet.

Lately, each time my toilet was flushed, it would take what seemed like forever for the tank to fill with water again. I’d hear the water running and running, until finally the tank was filled. Fixing that problem wasn’t high on my list, but soon the tank wasn’t able to fill at all. I’d hear the water – almost sounded like a soft, high whistle – but the tank would remain nearly empty. Of course, that meant I had to use another bathroom. It was time for a fix.

I’d been looking inside my tank for a couple of weeks now, trying to see the source of the issue. Now I was reading up on plumbing repair and all of the different components inside the toilet tank: the overflow tube, the refill tube, the tank ball, float ball – I was learning the names and purposes of each part. Now I had to see which part wasn’t fulfilling its purpose.

I flushed my toilet – or attempted to – several times in an attempt to see what was working and what wasn’t. Eventually my attention turned to the tank ball and the valve at the bottom of the tank. I realized that water was escaping out of the valve, when instead the tank ball should have formed a tight seal. Either the tank ball or the valve needed some attention.

If the surface of the tank ball is damaged, either through corrosion or wear, it may not be able to form a tight seal. I wasn’t sure quite what to expect, but I studied the ball, and it seemed to be fine to me. I’m sure that any plumbing repair pro in Cedar Park would wrap this up in no time, but I was slow and methodical. Next I studied the surface of the valve, looking for any irregularities that could compromise the seal and let water out.

There was some kind of substance on the valve, some kind of chemical residue – from what, I don’t know. So I grabbed a dull kitchen knife that I use for utilities nowadays, and I got to work on the stuff on the valve. After a little while it was gone, and I let the tank ball back down to rest on the valve. I crossed my fingers.

The running water sound was different – normal – and it stopped altogether after a moment or two. I peeked into the tank for one last time, and was pleased to see it filled with water. My toilet was back in business, and my latest attempt at plumbing repair was a success.

Why Hire a Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning Service

Dark fabric can hide the stains and dirt that it has absorbed, but it cannot hide the smell. I bet that once in the life of your furniture and carpet, you spilled something on it and tried to clean it with water. Guilty? Don’t feel bad if you did. 90% of furniture owners do this. This is alright if you followed the manufacturer’s cleaning code and you have a furniture or carpet cleaner and dryer. When your furniture starts to look and smell funny, it’s time to call Richmond Chemdry, a carpet and upholstery cleaning service. Cleaning with water is not always the right way to remove dirt and stains and furniture fabric and carpets do not dry easily. This largely depends on the kind of stain and fabric.

Some stains on furniture are removed by water. But if you notice, the water usually leaves a dark ring where the stain used to be. On light colored fabrics, it’s not a pretty sight. Wet carpet and fabrics also develop a nasty dog smell if you weren’t able to dry it thoroughly, either with a drying equipment or by putting it out to dry in the sun. They can become bald and faded when scrubbed with a brush too often. Sometimes, doing it on your own is more trouble than it’s worth and it would be a better option to just hire professionals to do it.

Our furniture serves us well around the house, and caring for it is to your advantage. Nobody really wants to sit in a dusty, smelly sofa or a ring stained, smelly carpet. Find a reliable and experienced cleaning service in your neighborhood. Their expertise and experience might eventually incur savings for you. Not caring for your furniture or carpet the proper way will ruin it and you will then have to buy a new one. Care for your carpet and furniture by hiring a cleaning service that knows how to keep your upholstery looking and smelling like new.

Selecting A Contractor

When thinking about finding the best contractor for your home improvement project you want to keep a few ideas in the back of your head. These ideas will help you find the best priced contractor and the one with the most experience. I have used this process and found it very successful in finding the best contractor in your area. Using this process I found a great contractor in Northern Virginia called Metropolitan Contractors. They replaced my siding and windows that were damaged by a hurricane a few summers ago. I am sure you are anxious to hear about the process so let’s jump into it.

Basic Search

The basic search entails talking with friends and family about contractors that they have used in the past. If you come up dry on information this way then begin searching online for contractors in your area. Most contractors have a wide service area so don’t be alarmed if you find a company that is located fifty miles or so away.

Advanced Search

This is when you get into the gritty details of the companies that you noticed on your basic search. Begin by reading reviews online or if the company offers previous customers remarks take advantage of reading those. You can also look at local contractor organizations in your area to see what contractors are a part of those associations. A great contractor will have a good website that has a lot of information for you to educate yourself with.

Interview

Once you have narrowed down the companies that you are interested in start contacting them and asking for prices and how soon they will be able to complete the project. Most places allow you to contact them over the phone or through email. Whichever form of contact you feel most comfortable with should be the one you use to contact. Make sure that the service representatives are friendly and they answer all of your questions. If they fail to answer questions or their prices are too high then you know that this contractor is not right for you. I hope you found this process helpful and will be on your way to the perfect home improvement experience.