OnTheHouse Express

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Choice Hotels
Choice Hotels

Family Handyman
Family Handyman

PexSupply.com
PexSupply.com

QuietRock
QuietRock

Rebuilding Together
Rebuilding Together

Sears
Sears

SeriousWindows
SeriousWindows

Tradesperson of the Year
Tradesperson of the Year

WD-40
WD-40

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Pex Supply

Just set it and forget it! Easy Ways to Make Your Home More Efficient

  1. Set It and Forget It
    A programmable thermostat maximizes comfort and efficiency by allowing you to customize temperature settings based on whatever your unique schedule may be. These settings will automatically occur so you do not have to remember to adjust the thermostat as you leave your house in the morning! Save energy by setting a lower temperature for those hours while you are at work or sleeping. Then, set the temperature to automatically increase again an hour before you return or wake up to ensure that the temperature in your home is always comfortable when you need it to be.
  2. Communication is Key
    An outdoor boiler reset control communicates with your boiler to make your heating system more energy efficient. The control monitors the outdoor temperature so that the boiler’s temperature adjusts as the outdoor temperature changes. For example, the boiler temperature will lower as the outdoor temperature rises. By keeping the boiler temperature in sync with actual air temperature, it will function while using less energy. Maintaining a lower boiler temperature also substantially decreases fuel usage in your home while leaving keeping you comfortable year round. High-efficiency boilers, water heaters, and variable speed pumps can be a more significant investment, but if you are looking to replace one of these components in your system, the payoff is well worth it. Not only will you save on utility bills by using less energy, but you may also qualify to receive federal tax credits on select models.
  3. Do Your “Condensation” Dance
    All high-efficiency boilers are condensing boilers that better utilize heat normally be lost in a traditional system. . As a traditional boiler heats the water in the tank, the water turns into steam and is vented out the flue, resulting in wasted energy. Condensing boilers utilize the heat from the water vapor more efficiently and, as a result, the water vapor vented through the flue is several hundred degrees cooler than traditional boilers. Due to the relatively low temperature of the exiting steam, it “condenses” back into water which can then be reused by the system. Since the high-efficiency boiler utilizes more of the heat exerted, the system wastes less energy and requires less energy to function. This “boils down to” less heat loss and more money in your pocket.
  4. Make Your Shower Wallet-Friendly
    Indirect and tankless water heaters are two popular energy-efficient alternatives to standard water heaters. Indirect water heaters still incorporate a storage tank, but utilize your existing boiler or furnace to heat the air in your home and to produce your hot water. The water heater is attached to a heat exchanger, which is heated by the boiler or furnace. The water is then moved by the water heater into the storage tank (similar to a traditional water heater) where the hot water is kept until it is needed. Using an indirect water heater can save you money, especially during those cooler months when your furnace or boiler runs regularly.
    Another great energy-efficient option is a tankless water heater. Whereas traditional water heaters waste energy by keeping water constantly heated throughout the day, tankless water heaters save on energy costs by not heating water when it is not being used. Tankless heaters heat water only as needed, providing a constant supply of hot water only when it is called for.
  5. Cover Every Corner
    You may be overlooking many other areas in your home where simple changes can be made to increase efficiency. Seal up drafts near all windows and doors and plug unused electrical outlets. Also, make sure you have proper pipe insulation (such as Thermacel) to prevent condensation on your pipes and frost formation on your chilled water and air conditioning lines.
Get started by visiting www.pexsupply.com where you can find all these energy efficient products and more. Their new Honeywell Thermostat Finder Tool makes it easy to take the first step and find the right programmable thermostat for your home. Visit the "Honeywell Thermostat Finder Tool" www.pexsupply.com/Honeywell-Thermostats-283000 to find a thermostat that will best suit your needs. And don’t forget to get your free DIY PEX Project Guide available for a limited time. Simply call (888) 757-4774 or email professor@pexsupply.com today for your free copy!

Seasonal Preparation

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Each fall Americans turn clocks back an hour, marking the end of Daylight Savings Time. "Spring-forward-" and "fall-back" clock-changing can also serve as a reminder to replace smoke-alarm batteries.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, fire is the second leading cause of unintentional death in the home. Each year, nearly 2,700 people die in residential fires, and there are more than 330,000 residential fires reported to fire departments.

Manufacturers and fire-safety experts say if your unit is 10-or-more years old, an alarm that sounds when the button is pushed just means it's getting electricity and not necessarily that the sensor chamber is activating properly. To be certain, either test older units with a smoke device or replace them. Sensor chambers can become dirty and ineffective or non-operational even if the button test works. For safety's sake replace an older unit; then you'll know it'll be working.

Though safety is first, there is a laundry list of other home-maintenance tasks that should be performed as we move through fall and into winter. The following tasks will help save money on utilities and prevent the need for major repairs, improve comfort and safety, save energy and preserve the integrity of your home.

  • Gutters and downspouts: Wayward water is one of a home's biggest enemies—especially rainwater that is shed off the roof of an average home. When allowed to collect at the perimeter of a foundation, excessive water can result in a damp and musty basement or cause foundation movement that produces cracks over windows and doors. If your home doesn't have gutters and downspouts, install them. If it does, be sure they are clean before heavy rains begin. Consider installing a gutter protection system to prevent leaves and other debris from clogging gutters.
  • Drainage: Having clean gutters and downspouts is only piece of the water damage prevention puzzle. A mistake that many make is to allow downspouts to discharge at the base of the foundation. This condition is worse than not having gutters at all due to the high concentration of water. To avoid this problem, downspouts should discharge into a subsurface drainage system and into a municipal storm drain or other water-collection facility. Further minimize ponding around the foundation by ensuring that all soil immediately surrounding the house is graded to drain away from the foundation.
  • Landscape Irrigation: Throttle back on the amount of water used to irrigate landscaping by adjusting automatic timers and use the "rain-off" switch when weather dictates. If you live in a part of the country where the mercury dips below freezing, use compressed air to blow water out of irrigation lines to prevent freeze damage.
  • Water heater and plumbing pipes: You can maximize your water heating dollar by removing sediment at the base of your water heater's tank. The sediment that collects over time greatly reduces burner efficiency and can even cause damage to the interior lining of the tank when allowed to superheat. Adjust burners for the most fuel-efficient and safest combustion. For flames, blue is good, and yellow isn't. Uninsulated water pipes are an energy-waster and a burst pipe waiting to happen. Insulating cold water lines will prevent a burst pipe during freezing weather while well-insulated hot water lines will improve both energy efficiency and comfort as hot water will be delivered more promptly.
  • Roofing: The time to discover you have a leaking roof should not be during the middle of a rain storm. Replace damaged shingles, patch damaged flashing and remove surface debris to facilitate proper watershed and prevent leaks. Binoculars provide a means of inspecting shingles and flashings without getting on the roof.
  • Attic insulation and ventilation: According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a well-insulated attic is one of the best ways to improve energy efficiency, save money and increase comfort. A well-insulated and properly ventilated attic will also prevent ice dams from forming.
  • Weather-stripping and caulking: Gaps around windows and doors are a leading cause of drafts that rob a home of comfort and result in high utility bills. All exterior doors should be weather-stripped and have an adjustable door shoe and threshold. Weather-stripping and vinyl gaskets at door shoes and thresholds that have become brittle over time should be replaced with new supple material. Trim that surrounds windows and doors (at both the interior and exterior) should be caulked to prevent drafts. Gaps and large penetrations, such as those made to accommodate plumbing pipes or conduits, should be filled with expandable foam sealant.
  • Siding: Gaps and cracks in siding should be caulked and patched to prevent leaks and the subsequent damage. Raw siding should be primed as a means of temporary waterproofing until spring; then a more thorough job can be done. Brick exteriors should be sealed with a high- quality masonry sealer to prevent freeze-thaw damage.
  • Fireplace: Creosote-lined fireplace flues are a chimney fire—and potentially hazardous explosion—just waiting to happen. The National Chimney Sweep Guild recommends that a fireplace flue be inspected before each season of burning. In addition, the guild recommends that a fireplace be cleaned after each cord of wood is burned. Inspect the condition of the spark arrestor that sits atop that chimney to ensure that are no tears in the fabric that could allow embers to escape and result in a house fire. Before making your first fire for the season, be sure to open the damper and leave it open whenever there is a fire in the fireplace.
  • Heating: Give your home's heating system the once-over to be sure that all components are in good working order, clean and well lubricated. Be sure that the burners are clean and the flame is properly adjusted. Replace dirty filters to improve air flow and efficiency and to lower utility costs. Also, consider installing one or more decorative ceiling paddle fans to move heated air trapped high up at ceilings. Doing so will make your home more comfortable and lower your heating bill. A side benefit is reduced condensation at windows and glass doors.

A little seasonal home maintenance can prevent big problems down the road and save you money.

Getting the Job Done with WD-40

WD-40 has partnered with Rebuilding Together and “On The House with the Carey Brothers” to find the 2010 Rebuilding Together Tradesperson of the Year—a skilled trade professional who gives back to the community and adds value to his or her trade industry. Six finalists will be chosen from specific skilled trade categories, including: carpenter, contractor, electrician, HVAC/plumber, painter and roofer. One grand-prize winner will receive a Super Bowl trip for two, $500 cash and a product prize package worth $15,000, courtesy of Sears Blue Tool Crew and WD-40. Five runner-up finalists and their nominators will also receive products and tools.

The grand-prize winner will also be featured as a guest co-host on an upcoming broadcast of On the House. Using their expert knowledge, the Tradesperson of the Year will help Morris, James and Rebecca answer listener questions and discuss why community activism is important to him or her.

Do you know someone that fits the bill? Individuals can nominate trade professionals at RTTradespersonOfTheYear.com until Nov. 16, 2010.

Did you know there are 2,000+ uses for WD-40? Besides using WD-40 on the job, “doers” use WD-40 every day in the home and garden, to help with craft projects and on sports equipment… Check more out at wd40.com. Have stories about WD-40 or just love that little blue-and-yellow can? You’re not alone. Join the Official WD-40 Fan Club at mywd40.com to get weekly tips, join discussions, get exclusive downloads and participate in regular contests and giveaways.