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Unfortunately, the change from summer to fall and then winter takes place all too quickly and ambient temperatures seem to zoom right through our “comfort zone” – which, for most is between 68º and 78º – meaning it’s (once again) time to fire-up the furnace and to watch our utility bills soar instead.
However, it doesn’t have to be that way. Especially, this year, because in addition to all the usual annual “fall tune-up” items we recommend for your home heating system – like inspecting, cleaning and changing filters – there are also new and important options for homeowners to be considered as well.
What’s Your IAQ?
While increasing energy efficiency and improving comfort through maintenance is certainly as important as ever this season – because without yearly cleaning and inspection a heating system can wear itself out fast – it is also increasingly important to take your home’s indoor air quality (IAQ) into consideration as well.
Why? Today, homes are being sealed up tighter than ever to keep heat in, which is a good thing. However, there is a downside, in that a variety of airborne pollutants are being sealed in too, contaminating indoor air and thus dramatically reducing your home’s IAQ.
So, to help “clear the air,” here are some timely IAQ and heating system cost cutting, comfort-improving and reminder-type maintenance tips to make this year’s seasonal transition better than ever.
Improve Indoor Air Quality
Even the cleanest of homes may still contain a wide variety of microscopic dust particles, invisible pollen, pet dander and a host of other airborne contaminants.
In fact, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the air inside a home can be far more polluted than the air outside (see: epa.gov). However, and in most cases, a well-engineered home air purifier is the ready answer.
One such state-of-the-art unit is the Perfect Air Purifier™, by Bryant Heating & Cooling Systems, that vastly improves indoor air quality by treating 100 percent of a heating and cooling system’s airflow to capture and kill airborne bacteria, viruses and mold spores. The Bryant system uses the same technology developed to protect many secure government facilities and prestigious hospitals, and now offers this state-of-the-art technology for your home as well.
Hi-Tech indoor air purification for your home is now both available and affordable. Check it out.
Hybrid Heat Your Home
If unpredictable and sometimes shockingly high utility bills, have you considering upgrading your old energy-guzzling heating system to optimize energy consumption, here’s something else “new” to consider: Hybrid Heating.
What’s that you say? Well, it works in the same way as new hybrid automobiles in that both use gas and electricity as a combined source of power. A hybrid heat system allows homeowners to heat their home via the most economical combination available by joining a heat pump with a gas furnace. And again, Bryant Heating & Cooling Systems offers a state-of-the art solution with the combination of Bryant’s 90 percent variable-speed furnace and heat pump. The result is maximum efficiency because each system only operates when it is most cost-effective. The energy-saving Bryant Hybrid HeatTM system duo efficiently capitalizes on gas or electricity depending on which is more efficient in your area. The system can actually be customized based on your specific climate!
And in case you are wondering, “is it really worth upgrading your old heating system?” Take it from us (and everyone who has ever done so): you’ll find the up-front investment will pay off in energy cost savings – year after cozy and more comfortable year.
And As Always… Fall Furnace Tips
Remember, as temperatures drop furnaces work longer hours. In fact, a furnace can run up to 15 hours a day during winter. To ensure top performance, safety and all-around efficiency we recommend that homeowners hire a licensed HVAC technician to perform routine service and maintenance.
This year, ask about upgrading to a high-efficiency model too – that will both improve comfort and conserve energy (plus lots of hard-earned cash).
Need a few facts to get you seriously thinking about upgrading? Consider this: While standard furnaces have an annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) of 80 percent, high-efficiency models average an AFUE of 93 percent or higher. So, for every dollar spent on heating energy, a full 93 percent (versus only 80 percent) is circulated back into your home. Got you thinking?
Here are seven additional steps you can take early this season to both save money, to ensure comfort and to improve your home’s IAQ:
Doing these standard tune-up items is a great way to start… and upgrading your home heating and air purification is even better. With everything done and in place – well before old man winter comes a’ callin’ – you can be enjoying a cozy life nestled in your personal “comfort zone” and wearing a big smile as you open those now “not-so-big” utility bills.
Easy Fixes for Leaky Toilets
An average leaking toilet will waste up to 78,000 gallons of water per year. Think about it—that's enough water to fill two average-sized backyard swimming pools. What follows are some common toilet problems and their solutions.
This can be fixed by cleaning the flapper or tank ball and drain seat thoroughly using a brush or scouring pad. If the leak persists, remove the existing flapper and replace it with a new one.
OVERFLOW PIPE/FLUSH VALVE: Sometimes the overflow pipe or flush valve assembly can become so corroded it creates leaks that lower a tank's water level, causing the valve to turn on and refill the tank. The best fix is to replace the flush valve assembly with a new one that will work for your particular toilet.
Another overflow-related problem occurs when the water level is set too high and reaches the top of the overflow pipe when the fill valve shuts off. This results in small amounts of water pouring into the overflow pipe, causing the valve to turn on to refill the tank. This can usually be solved by setting the tank water to a lower level.
There are various ways to do this depending upon the type of toilet and style of flush valve. Some valves have an adjustment screw while others have an adjustment clip located on the link of the valve. An old trick is to bend the rod that travels between the flush valve and the float ball. However, this can backfire if the rod rotates a half turn where the water line raises and water goes pouring down the drain.
FILL VALVE: Another common problem that causes a toilet to leak is a fill valve that won't shut off, leaving water continually pouring down the overflow pipe. This is usually caused by debris that becomes lodged under the valve's seal. Debris can consist of hard water (calcium) deposits, tiny pieces of corroded pipe, pebbles, or solder, which are transported to the seal via the water pipe.
The simplest means of dealing with this problem is to shut off the water supply to the toilet and remove the valve top. Cover the opening with an inverted cup and turn the water on and off a few times to flush the valve and remove water line debris. If the problem persists after flushing the fill valve, the valve seal is probably cracked or split. Replacing the seal will usually solve the problem.
Plastic bags for painting
Planning a painting project? Start rounding up plastic grocery bags to save money, time and avoid mopping up spills with rags. When it's time to paint, first put your roller tray inside a plastic bag. When you're through, throw the bag away; the tray will stay like new, time after time. Such bags keep paint-filled brushes from drying out, too. If you can't get things finished in one day, put your roller and brushes away, paint and all, in a plastic bag in the refrigerator overnight. And, when you're all through painting, put a bag over your hand before you pull off the roller cover and another bag over the paint can before you hammer the lid back on. This practice prevents the floor and walls from being spattered.
Want to add a touch of elegance to your home? Try wainscoting. It's a decorating touch that has been used for centuries to make rooms and hallways look more luxurious. It involves adding wood paneling halfway up the wall, usually up to about 40 inches from the floor. There's a hidden bonus too. It's just the right height to prevent wall damage from wayward chair backs. Wainscoting often combines two different types of wall materials: rich wood paneling down below and paint or a tasteful fabric or wallpaper above. Regardless of which you choose to combine, you can turn any humble abode into an elegant and lavish English manor and any foyer, vestibule and/or hall into a grand entrance for your castle with wainscoting.
Hammering and Nailing Wood Trim
When you're ready to hammer and nail in trim, you'll want to protect where those nails go in. When nailing decorative molding or any type of milled woodwork or painted trim, don't let a misguided hammer blow ruin the surface. Instead protect it with a simple homemade shield: Cut a piece of pegboard a few inches square. Then start the nail in with a few light taps. Slip one of the holes in the pegboard shield over the nail head, and hammer away with gusto. Once you've driven a nail as far in as possible, lift off the shield and finish the job with a nail set. No hits, no runs, no errors.
GETTING YOUR OLD FAUCET OUT WITH PEERLESS
The first step, as you might guess, is to make sure you have everything you need before you get started. You can find a list of those items on Peerless’ helpful, plainspoken website, faucetcoach.com. So go there, then head over to the hardware store, then come back here. We’ll wait for you.
FAUCETCOACH.COM VISUAL GLOSSARY
Okay, now it’s time to do some actual labor. Peerless suggests you begin by giving yourself room to work. You know all those cleansers and half-used jars of hair gel you’ve got loitering under your bathroom sink? Move ’em out. Then slide under there and spray every nut and connecting piece you see with penetrating oil. Once you’re done with that, wait 24 hours for the oil to loosen the parts. (HINT: You’ll be more comfortable waiting somewhere besides under the sink.)
Once the oil has done its job, you can start yours. Start by shutting off the water valves under your sink, by turning them to the right. If those valves won’t turn (or if there are no valves under there, or you’re just very cautious), shut off your house’s main water valve, too. Finally, test your waterlessness by trying to run some in the sink. If nothing comes out, you’re ready to get under the sink and start twisting things.
Put your safety glasses on, to protect your eyes against falling rust. Then put a pillow or towel under your back, and get under the sink to disconnect and remove your old faucet’s pop-up assembly (which raises and lowers your sink stopper). First, find the flat, vertical piece of the pop-up and look for a screw at the top of it, up near the sink bottom. Loosen that screw to remove the vertical piece. To remove the strap, squeeze the clip ends together, and remove it from the horizontal rod. Next, look for the nut that’s holding in the horizontal rod, and unscrew that (you may need pliers, or an adjustable wrench). Now you should be able to remove both the horizontal rod, and the stopper in your sink—thus popping out your pop-up.
At this point in the installation, you may be feeling a little stress. Fortunately, Peerless has anticipated this. The company has created several coping tools to help you through your installation—such as this door hanger, that lets family members know how well things are (or aren’t) going.
DOWNLOAD “FAUCET INSTALLER MOOD EVALUATOR” DOOR HANGER
Next, find the mounting nut that’s holding the flange and tailpiece onto the sink basin. Unscrew that nut as far down as it will go, then push the tailpiece up to lift the flange up from the sink. Unscrew the flange from the tailpiece, remove the tailpiece from the drain, and peel off any old silicone or putty from the sink.
Now it’s time to grab your basin wrench, and remove both the supply-tube coupling nuts, and the tailpiece mounting nuts. Slide out from under the sink, and try pulling the faucet assembly straight up out of the sink. In a best-case scenario, everything will come right out. If that doesn’t happen, take a putty knife, gently work its tip under the edge of the old faucet, and pry the assembly up (being careful not to scratch your sink’s finish). If there’s any old putty remaining in the sink, get rid of it.
You should now have a handsome, empty space in your sink, just the right size to be filled with a new faucet. Like, say, the Peerless Classic Two Handle Centerset Bath Faucet (Model P99675-BN), with a PVD Brushed Nickel Finish.
To see more Peerless faucet styles for the kitchen and lavatory, take a look over here:
FAUCETCOACH.COM KITCHEN AND BATH FAUCET AREA!
Once you’ve found a faucet you like, visit faucetcoach.com for tips on installing it. Until then, try to keep your hands clean.