Quick Tips To Be “HVAC AWARE”

Chances are, you don’t give much thought to the system that warms your home in the winter and cools your home in the summer.

And why should you? You leave it to the experts to take care of it for you; meanwhile, you focus on more important things in your life—like family, work, etc. As long as everything runs normally, you shouldn’t have to give it a second thought; just sit back and enjoy the temperature and air flow as everything works as it should in the background.

But what happens if it doesn’t work as it should?

With winter here, you don’t want to get cold or uncomfortable as you discover it doesn’t work. And if there’s an emergency, you want to be able to act fast to deal with it.

So, here are some tips to help you be “HVAC aware” this month… to give your HVAC system a little bit of love so it will continue to keep you and your family comfortable.

Tip #1. Let’s start with the word HVAC itself: It stands for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning, and it’s the name given to the entire system that heats and cools your home. It often includes your furnace, your air conditioning unit, as well as the ductwork that runs through your walls.

Tip #2. Find out what kind of heating system you have. Is it electric? Oil? Natural gas? (Note: even systems that run on oil and natural gas may also be plugged in to your home’s electrical system.) You should also know the brand, the year it was installed, and the company that installed it. Keep this information on the HVAC system but also keep it handy in a drawer somewhere else so that you can make a quick call to that company if you ever need more information in a hurry.

Tip #3. Find out how to turn your furnace and air conditioner off and on, including any switches ON the system itself as well as how to turn it on and off at your circuit panel. If there’s ever a fire, you’ll want to be able to turn off your HVAC system at the circuit panel if you can’t get to the system itself.

Tip #4. If your system is fed from a municipal supply (such as natural gas), learn where those pipes are and if there is a place to turn off the supply. If there’s ever a leak, know how to turn it off fast.

Tip #5. Look for exhaust pipes. Depending on your system, your HVAC system might use a chimney or an exhaust pipe. Keep these free from blockages. For example, make sure that leaves or snow don’t block up the exhaust pipe, and make sure that small animals don’t get into your chimney.

Tip #6. Even though you can’t see most of the ductwork, you can see the vents! Know where they are and see which vents blow OUT warm (or cool) air, and which vents take in air to circulate it back to the system. Keep an eye on these vents and keep them free from being blocked by furniture.

Tip #7. Know where the filters are. Different systems use filters in different ways. Those filters help to remove particles from the air that you would otherwise breathe. Clean those filters regularly and replace them regularly too.

Tip #8. Use all your senses to monitor your HVAC system. If it starts to sound unusual or smell unusual, take action right away. Turn it off and call an expert HVAC company and get help.

Your HVAC system is an important system in your home and it works 24/7 to keep your family safe and comfortable. But if it suddenly stops working the way you want, your February can very quickly go from warm and cozy to cold! Use these tips to be HVAC Aware this month and throughout the year.

Cleaning your home’s air ducts every few years reduces dust and allergens

It’s not terribly pleasant to think about where dust comes from — an accumulation of dirt, dead skin cells, dandruff, pet dander, mites, smoke particles and other pollutants. This detritus circulates through the air in your home, where you and your family unavoidably breathe it in on a daily basis. And because dust is heavier than air, it settles into vents and ducts just like it does onto flat surfaces. Think about how often you dust your furniture, and how much dust would build up if you neglected this chore for weeks, months or years. Now ask yourself, when’s the last time you had your air ducts cleaned?

 

How dirty are your air ducts?

 

Air ducts act as the lungs of your home, and they affect the actual lungs of the residents. To function most efficiently, they need to be kept clean and clear. Too much dust can contribute to literal respiratory problems, particularly for anyone who suffers from asthma or allergies.

If you live in a newer home that wasn’t properly cleaned before you moved in, construction dust and debris have probably been collecting in your ducts and circulating throughout the house whenever the furnace or air conditioning kicks on. Or, if you’ve recently undergone a major remodeling project, it’s likely to have generated additional dust that’s settled into the system.

No matter how often you dust and vacuum, you’re usually just moving particles around, stirring them up into the air before quickly resettling. Cleaning out your air ducts and HVAC system every now and then gets to the real root of the problem, removing dust before it has a chance to circulate. Another benefit, air duct cleaning may help your HVAC system operate more efficiently by preventing clogs and improving overall air flow.

 

When to clean your air ducts

 

Indications that it may be time to clean out your air ducts can include heavy dust accumulation on your furniture, frequently occurring respiratory problems among the residents in your home, visible mold in vents or other HVAC components, and signs of mice or insects that can infest and contaminate the system.

It’s a good idea to have your air ducts and related HVAC parts professionally cleaned every two or three years; more often if circumstances merit. Because air duct cleaning requires specific tools and a thorough understanding of the mechanical duct/HVAC system, it can be a difficult task for homeowners to try to tackle on their own. Even the longest attachments on a regular vacuum won’t work for deep air duct cleaning. Professional cleaners use a negative pressure system to vacuum dust out with a hose and a spinning soft brush that dislodges the debris. Air duct cleaning also requires taking protective steps homeowners may not be familiar with, such as making sure the furnace coil is blocked off to prevent dust and dirt from pushing through, which can create extra stress on the blower motor and cause potentially expensive damage.

The cost of air duct cleaning depends on the size and complexity of your system, but the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that professional service for an average-sized home typically ranges between $450 and $1,000.

 

Air duct homework

 

In between air duct cleanings, the best thing you can do to keep dust levels down is to change out the furnace filter on a regular basis. If excessive dust is a problem in your home, don’t skimp on quality. The higher the MERV rating is, the more effective the filter will be.

Another helpful hint — pay close attention to areas of your home where excess debris may be entering the system. For example, flat vents on the floor next to a dog bed or kids who tend to kick off their shoes next to a vent as soon as they enter the house may be inadvertently introducing extra dirt into the ducts.

 

Proper insulation is the key to keeping your house warm this winter

 

At some point in their lives, most people have probably heard a mom or dad yell, “Close the front door! We’re not trying to heat the whole neighborhood!”

Everyone wants to keep their home appropriately warm during the winter and cool during the summer without spending a fortune to do so. In this scenario, the door represents the basic principle of how insulation works, acting as a barrier that helps seal warm or cool air inside where it belongs. Making sure your house has adequate insulation is the crucial factor in achieving that goal.

Like water, air seeks to balance itself by acclimating to its surroundings, much like an ice cube will melt if the air around it is above freezing. Let’s say the air in your home is 40 degrees warmer than the exterior temperature. Without any insulation for resistance, the warm air will seep out of your house trying to equalize with the colder air outside.

 

What is insulation?

 

In simplest terms, insulation is material that’s placed into your home’s walls, floors, attics and ceilings to prevent the heated or cooled air inside from leaking out. (It also absorbs sound, reducing noise between rooms and spaces.) Good insulation helps your HVAC system operate more efficiently — you’re already paying for the energy to heat or cool your home; insulation ensures the effect lasts as long as possible. If you don’t have decent insulation, the warm or cool air your HVAC system is working so hard to generate dissipates much more quickly, costing you money and personal comfort.

Modern insulation is made from fiberglass and sold in batted sheets that can be cut to size, rolled into joists and stapled into place; or as loose bagged cellulose that can be spot-blown into spaces using equipment specific to this purpose. Most insulation usually costs somewhere in the range of $1 to $2 per square foot.

Insulation is measured by R-value, a number between 1 and 60 that rates the material’s resistance to heat and air flow based on its thickness and density. The higher the R-value, the better the insulation will perform. A product with higher R-value will cost more than a product with lower R-value, but in colder regions of the country, the added upfront expense may prove well worth it in terms of heat preservation and savings on utility bills over time. Homeowners who live in more moderate climates probably won’t need insulation of the same R-value level as those in areas with harsh winters. Helpful charts of recommended R-values by geographic region are readily available online for quick reference.

 

How do you know if your home has enough insulation?

 

You can measure the insulation in your home with a ruler and research the suggested R-value for your region to determine if you have what you need in place. Most homes should have at least 12 inches of insulation with no obvious gaps. If there’s any question as to whether or not you have the right amount, err on the side of excess. It’s better to have too much insulation than not enough. It’s also important to note that the U.S. Department of Energy updated its R-value recommendations just last year, so if your house was built prior to 2017, it’s likely to need more insulation.

Homeowners can choose to purchase insulation at home retail stores and install it themselves or hire a professional contractor. It’s fairly easy to roll and staple batted insulation into place, although this option can create gaps. Blowing in cellulose fills spaces more completely, but the process can be a bit more complicated, not to mention messy. Plus, you’ll have to rent the proper equipment and learn how to use it correctly and safely. The advantages of relying on the professionals to install your insulation lie in the assurance that they have the experience and the tools to get the job done right the first time.

Once it’s in place, good insulation should last for years. The fiberglass material won’t break down over time and shouldn’t require revisiting unless R-value recommendations change or it gets damaged by rodents or birds.

 

 

Yearly furnace inspections prevent expensive repairs or early replacements

Auto mechanics usually advise changing the oil in your car every three months or 3,000 miles. You can always feel free to ignore those recommendations. But if you do, your engine will seize at some point and you’ll wind up paying much more for repairs than you would have for a simple oil change.

The same basic principle applies to your furnace as well. You don’t have to get an annual furnace inspection, but skipping this potentially time- and money-saving maintenance means taking a risk you might later regret. Having a professional furnace inspection once a year can help your system operate at peak efficiency, and it may even lower your energy bills.

Every major furnace manufacturer recommends routine maintenance and inspections to prolong the life of your system. Read the fine print — some manufacturers may even include language in their warranties that precludes coverage for repairs that stem from improper maintenance. Just ask anyone who’s ever had to foot the bill for a pricy furnace fix, it’s smart to take proactive steps now to keep your system in tip-top shape through the long winter months ahead.

 

What to expect during your inspection

 

The main goal of any furnace inspection is to make sure everything is working the way it should. A qualified heating contractor or maintenance service expert will make a house call to take a thorough look at your furnace, offer recommendations and feedback, and tune up or replace parts as needed.

Any device that burns natural gas or propane creates carbon monoxide that exits your home through a vent. It’s vitally important to make sure there are no leaks in the heat exchanger, burners and flue that could let this dangerous gas pool into your home. Gas pipes themselves usually don’t leak because they don’t have any moving parts, but it never hurts to check those as well.

Other elements the service expert will examine include the inducer and blower motor, the thermostat, pilot, safety switch, drain lines, filter, ductwork and general air flow. Depending on the age of your unit, the tech might lubricate some of the bearings and fans and tighten up any loose connections. If everything looks good, the service expert may not need to do much more than wipe down the unit to remove dust and debris.

Early fall is the ideal time to schedule your furnace inspection before cold weather sets in. The last thing you want to experience during a Colorado winter is the heat going off in your home, especially during a weekend or holiday when you’re likely to wind up paying higher rates for a service call.

How much to spend for your furnace inspection depends on the company and how much detail the service expert gets into. Prices for this service can range anywhere from $30 to up several hundred; $100 is a fair rate for a good annual inspection that covers all the bases. Ask for a detailed list of inspection items when making the appointment so you’ll know exactly what you’re getting for your money. And look at it this way — you’re likely to recoup whatever you spend on a furnace inspection in energy bill savings thanks to increased operating efficiency.

 

Do-it-yourself tips

 

In between inspections, there are a few DIY maintenance tasks homeowners can perform themselves to keep their furnaces running well. The best thing you can do to preserve the life of your system is to change out your furnace filter on a regular basis (usually every 30 to 90 days). Also, plan to have the air ducts in your home cleaned every two or three years to prevent excess dust from going into your furnace, prolonging its life and operation.

 

Do you have lung cancer-causing gas in your home?

There could be a dangerous killer lurking in your home, and you wouldn’t even know it.

According to estimates from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, radon causes as many as 21,000 lung cancer deaths annually, second only to smoking. So what exactly is radon, and why is it such a threat to your home and your health?

Caused by the breakdown of uranium in soil, radon is a colorless, odorless gas that can seep into homes and buildings through gaps in the foundation. When radon leaks into a basement, it can pool there and permeate through the rest of the house, where it then gets unknowingly ingested and inhaled by the occupants. Exposure to high concentrations of radon over time can result in serious health problems up to and including death.

Radon is much like oil or water — you know it’s there underneath the earth’s surface, but there’s no way to tell exactly where, how deep or how big the pockets are. Here in Northern Colorado, ground disturbances due to fracking and construction can stir it up, and newer homes with well-sealed basements may actually be more at risk than older homes with cracks that allow avenues for some of the gas to escape.

 

How do you know if your home has radon?

 

Radon exists in all 50 states, and almost every home has some degree of radon in it. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has found that approximately 50% of all Colorado homes have radon levels higher than the EPA-recommended 4 picoCuries per liter (pCi/L).  Although radon inspections are strongly recommended during home buying and selling transactions, they’re not required by law. Therefore, many people live in their homes for years without ever knowing what their radon levels are, or that they can change from year to year.

Since radon presents no obvious indications and related health issues may only appear after years of exposure, the only way to know how much is in your home is to measure it. There’s no standard guideline about how often radon levels should be checked, but it’s a good idea to take a measurement once a year.

 

What’s involved in radon testing?

 

Getting an accurate radon measurement is a fairly uncomplicated process that can be performed by a homeowner or a licensed professional. The simplest way to do it involves placing a test kit in the lowest level of the home to absorb air particles for 48 hours, then sending it to a lab to analyze the results. More sophisticated equipment can provide real-time results on the spot without lab input. Expect kit prices to run anywhere from $10 to $200.

It’s important to follow the provided instructions and place the kit in an area without drafts and away from vents, windows and doors in order to get the most accurate measurement. High heat and humidity can also throw off a radon measurement. If sections of your basement are cut off or isolated, you might want to test in several different areas.

 

My radon level’s too high. Now what?

 

While a high radon reading is a serious problem that must be addressed, the good news is it’s not hard to mitigate. If you find your home has a high concentration of radon, there are several ways you can reduce it down to an acceptable level.

Passive mitigation remedies allow radon from your basement to dissipate through a venting pipe installed under your slab or in a crawlspace. Active mitigation uses a fan to pull the interior air outside, a system that can cost between $800 and $1,500 depending on your needs. You can also install a radon monitoring device or detector to make sure the level in your home stays in a safe range.

If you need further help or advice, it never hurts to consult a certified radon mitigation specialist for assistance.

 

Filters make a big impact on air quality and furnace efficiency

Imagine what would happen if you tried to brew your morning coffee without using a filter. The end result would be full of coffee grounds, and the whole process would clog up your machine.

A furnace filter functions in much the same way as a coffee filter. These humble household heroes are important for two main reasons — they strain out debris from the air in your home, and they support your furnace by protecting its inner workings.

 

How clean is your air?

 

It’s not pleasant to think about, but household air is full of dust, bacteria, smoke, pet dander and pollen — all of which carry the potential to detrimentally affect the health of those who live in your home. Filtering out this debris can make a big difference in the quality of the air you and your family breathe every day.

When dirt and dust get sucked into the furnace unit, they can weigh down the blower wheel and other moving parts, throwing everything out of balance and wearing out the overall system much more quickly. If you can’t remember the last time you changed out your furnace filter, chances are you’re overdue.

 

Get to know your filters

 

All furnace units include a filter with size and complexity depending on your individual system.

Disposable filters are the most popular variety, fairly inexpensive to replace and can readily be found at most hardware stores and home retailers. For any filter you’re buying, make sure to take note of the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating on the packaging. The higher the rating, the more efficient the filter will be. Low MERV ratings between 1 and 4 will filter out most garden-variety dust, mites, pollen and carpet fibers; moving up to a 13 to 16 rating at the top end of the scale will also remove harder-to-catch smoke particles, bacteria, germs and viruses.

Available in a wide range of sizes, disposable filters should be changed out every 30 to 90 days depending on the amount of dust and debris in your home. A good rule of thumb that’s easy for most homeowners to remember is to change your furnace filter at the start of each new season.

Washable filters don’t need to be frequently replaced like disposable filters — maybe once every three to five years, but they do require regular cleaning at the same 30- to 90-day intervals to do their job effectively. Electrostatic features in both disposable and washable filters electrically charge the air as it passes through to help trap more dust and debris.

If you have pets that shed heavily or family members who suffer from allergies, you may want to consider a high-efficiency particulate arrestance (HEPA) filter to sift out a greater volume of potential irritants from the air. However, keep in mind that these filters can sometimes be so dense, they actually wind up restricting the airflow into your furnace with negative impacts its functionality.

 

Which filter is right for you?

 

Deciding what kind of filter is best for your home depends on your specific needs and how much you want to spend. A simple disposable filter that you change out once a month can control the dust and debris in your household air quite nicely, but if you want to significantly improve your indoor air quality and/or the life of your furnace system, you might find it well worth upgrading to a higher-end product.

Basic disposable filters usually start around $20 and can run up to several hundred dollars for the most sophisticated models. Most average homeowners can expect to spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $30 to $50 for a decent disposable filter that will meet their needs just fine.

Changing out your furnace filter isn’t a difficult task. Just locate the filter rack on your furnace system, remove the old filter and slide in a new one. Make sure the arrow on the filter is pointing in the same direction that the air flows into the unit, and you’re good to go until it’s time for the next replacement.

How to keep your water heater operating at peak efficiency

We’ve all been trained to take our cars in for oil changes every three months or 3,000 miles, but when’s the last time you thought about giving your water heater a tune up? Most homeowners don’t realize just how much they rely on hot water until it’s gone. Fortunately, a little preventative water heater maintenance can go a long way to prevent problems and keep you in ample supply at the turn of a faucet. But if you still notice problems with your water temperature, it’s best to call a professional company like Lion Home Service.

Types of water heaters

There are two main styles of water heaters on today’s market — models with tanks and newer tankless options. The traditional tank-style units include metal holding tanks of various sizes with a heating element that warms the water inside using electricity, propane or natural gas. These models work on the same basic principle as turning on your cooktop to heat a pot of water. In comparison, tankless water heaters operate by running water past a sensor and through a pipe where it’s spot-heated to deliver hot water on demand.

Each option offers its own unique pros and cons. For instance, tank models are cheaper to purchase than tankless models, but they only hold a finite amount of water. And once that tank of hot water has been depleted, you have to wait for the next batch to warm up to get more, which can take up to an hour. Because tankless models only heat the water when you need it, there’s an unlimited supply. Since they don’t require a holding tank, they’re often a good option for apartments, condominiums and small homes where space is more valuable. However, turning the hot water on and off can create pockets of cold water in the pipe between use.

Standard tank water heaters will usually last between 7 and 11 years and can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $4,000 depending on size, model features and whether any plumbing in your home needs to be brought up to code before the unit can be safely installed. Because they involve smart technology components, tankless water heaters are more expensive and can run $3,000 to $8,000 — about twice as much as traditional tank heaters. They’re not working constantly to keep heating, however, so they cost less to operate and can last twice as long as a tank heater— up to 15 or even 20 years if properly maintained.

Maintenance recommendations

Whether you decide to go with a tank or tankless model, maintaining your hot water heater shouldn’t require a lot of time or money. Each should be inspected and treated at regular intervals to keep them operating effectively; how often you’ll need to do this depends on the hardness of the water in your home.

Hard water can create sediment that collects in the bottom of a hot water heater tank over time, making it more difficult for the unit to heat the water and resulting in higher energy bills. Flushing this sediment a couple times a year can make a big difference in the heater’s overall efficiency. A home service professional can easily take care of the job for you, but it’s fairly easy to manage yourself after you’ve seen it done and received some instruction. Simply disconnect the electricity or turn off the gas/propane, release the pressure in the tank, drain it halfway and then turn the water back on to push any sediment out. (Of course, you’ll need to make sure the draining water has a place to go.) Another maintenance checklist item to keep in mind: Water heaters with tanks include a rod part that should be replaced every two or three years.

Likewise, tankless water heaters should be checked on a regular schedule to get rid of any scaling or calcification that can collect inside the unit and prevent optimal function.

If your hot water heater starts making odd noises or you simply notice it’s not heating properly, it’s always a good idea to call a professional who can evaluate the situation and make appropriate recommendations to remedy the problem.

No more dry skin and ruined wood furnishings with an ideal humidity level

Maintaining proper humidity levels in your home offers a number of benefits including improved energy efficiency and indoor air quality, longer life for your hardwood flooring and furniture, and even added protection against airborne cold and flu viruses. The ideal humidity level usually ranges somewhere between 30% and 50%. It’s easy to find out exactly where yours clocks in by using a basic hygrometer device, available at hardware stores and big-box retailers.

Why do you need a humidifier?

Like the human body, your living space requires a certain amount of water to thrive and function at its best. If the air in your home is too dry, you may notice frequent static shocks, cracks forming in wood furnishings and floors over time and possible health issues such as dry skin, sore throats, chapped lips, respiratory problems and bloody noses. These problems can become more noticeable in the winter when your furnace kicks on for the season, because heat saps air of much-needed moisture. Daily living activities like showers, cooking and laundry do introduce some water vapor back into the atmosphere, but often not enough to keep homes and those who live in them comfortable during the drier months of the year.

Humidifiers can add moisture to the air of a room or an entire home to reduce these and other adverse conditions. Another tangible benefit to note — humidity helps the air in your home feel warmer than it actually is, which can help residents feel good about leaving the thermostat turned down and keep energy bills low.

Humidifier options

There are several types of humidifiers to consider on today’s market — whole-house models that attach to a furnace, free-standing portable units and small vaporizers that you can buy off the shelf at drug stores and retail outlets.

Whole-house humidifiers work in conjunction with your furnace to add moisture to the air throughout the entire home at regular intervals automatically whenever the furnace comes on. A more involved purchase than simply plugging in a portable unit, whole-house humidifiers must be professionally installed, and they can cost anywhere from $500 to $3,000 depending on the size and sophistication of the unit. If maintained correctly, whole-house humidifiers generally last 5 to 10 years.

By comparison, portable units and vaporizers are easy for homeowners to set up and move around themselves, relatively inexpensive and effective for adding moisture to individual rooms or small spaces. However, they don’t last as long as whole-house humidifiers, and portable units do require the use of a hose to discharge water into a nearby drain.

Maintenance recommendations

Homeowners don’t usually spend a lot of time thinking about their whole-home humidifier until it stops working. Some signs that may indicate a problem include noticeably drier air in the home, or water and moisture leaking around the unit.

The hardness of the water in your home plays a significant role in how well your humidifier works and can affect its shelf life over time. When hard water calcifies inside the unit, it leaves behind scale and debris that can reduce its operating power and efficiency. To keep whole-house humidifiers running smoothly, homeowners should plan to clean the unit and change the pad inside every two to three years, and as often as every year if the water in the home is especially hard. Water also runs through a metal or plastic grate in the unit where calcification can build up, leading to occasional replacement of that part as well.

Whether to tackle whole-home humidifier maintenance yourself or call a professional to do the job depends on the nature of the problems and your own skill and comfort level. Scheduling a professional service for your whole-home humidifier at the same time you have your annual furnace tune-up is an easy way to get ahead of any potential issues and keep both systems working in optimal condition for as long as possible.

A running toilet is a bigger problem than you might think

How serious is a running toilet? Just ask anyone who’s received a $500 water bill because of one.

To most people, a running toilet doesn’t sound like a terribly big deal, but what may seem like a mere annoyance can quickly escalate into a major problem. It’s like turning on a faucet and just letting it run. Even a simple leak in your toilet can easily fill a swimming pool with thousands of gallons of wasted water within a matter of days. And while water is a fairly cheap commodity under normal circumstances, a leaking toilet can result in an unpleasant surprise when you find yourself opening a utility bill that usually totals around $40 to discover you owe several hundred dollars.

The lifespan of a toilet

It’s not often a top-of-mind fixture but make no mistake about it — the humble toilet is one of the most essential and frequently used items in your home. How long yours lasts depends on the material it’s constructed from, the amount of use it gets and whether it’s thoughtfully maintained. Well-constructed toilets that are properly maintained can last a lifetime, but poorly made models that receive a great deal of wear and tear may need to be replaced every few years.

The older a toilet is and the more use it’s seen throughout its life, the more likely it is to experience cracks and fissures. Imagine dropping a china plate from the height of a half inch. It’s probably not going to break after one drop. But, if you keep dropping that plate repeatedly, tiny stress fractures will begin to form and eventually, it will shatter. The same principle applies to slamming the seat down on a toilet. Over time, the porcelain can become weakened and crack, creating prime conditions for leaks.

Hard water is another factor that can adversely affect your toilet and your plumbing on the whole. When hard water deposits form in the pipes, it can prevent a toilet from functioning at optimal efficiency.

 When does a running toilet become an issue?

If you can hear the toilet running or see any leaking at all, even if it seems minor, you’ve got a problem that shouldn’t be ignored and needs to be fixed quickly. Beyond the astronomical water bills running toilets have the power to produce, they can also cause damage to the home if water is actually leaking out of the bowl or tank.

In cases of a hard or corroded flapper (the stopper that holds water in the tank before releasing it into the bowl when you flush) or an old gasket, the leak is usually contained within the toilet. However, a crack in the bowl or tank can lead to water leaking directly into your floor, destroying hardwood, tile, carpet and even the subfloor underneath. If that happens, you’ve got a major — and expensive — remediation problem to deal with.

Toilet leaks can sometimes be very subtle. In some instances, you may not actually hear or see water leaching out of the toilet. If you suspect your toilet’s sprung a minor leak, you can perform your own simple test by adding a drop or two of food coloring to the water in the tank. If after 20 minutes you see colored water seeping into the bowl, you know you’ve got a leak.

Tackling DIY repairs

Most mechanically minded homeowners can address minor toilet repairs themselves without much trouble. It’s usually not too complicated to take care of small fixes like replacing a flapper or chain yourself with parts readily available at hardware stores or major home improvement stores, although some brands can be trickier to work with than others.

When to call the professionals

If you’re experiencing a major leak or damage to the gasket, the flushing mechanism, the pipes, the bowl or the interior of the toilet, it’s best to call a plumbing pro. Overly ambitious homeowners can quickly find themselves in over their heads and wind up making the problem worse, costing more time, stress and money in the long run than if they paid a professional plumber to quickly correct the problem at its onset.

Tips Xcel Energy Wants to Keep Quiet

Summer is here and energy costs are rising. Between the warmer weather and children being out of school and using more electricity, the market for electricity expands. As it expands, electricity suppliers raise costs. While the average homeowner has no recourse but to pay their electric company the market rate, they can change some of their habits to reduce their use. Respected area heating and cooling service company, Lion Home Service wants to get the word out on how to save on energy costs during the dog days of summer. According to CEO and founder, Barton Palmer, there are several tiny steps that homeowners can take to save big on energy costs.

“A lot of service companies will try to tell people that need a new, energy-efficient cooling system for their home and while they can certainly lower a home’s energy use, not everyone can afford it,” says Palmer. “I usually tell people to look for tiny ways here and there that they can save on energy use because over the course of a few months those tiny changes in behavior will add up to big bucks.”

Lion Home Service recommends changing filters and performing routine maintenance on heating and cooling systems will make a huge difference. When a system doesn’t have to work hard to do its job, energy is reduced. Dirty air filters play a huge role in cooling costs, which is why Lion Home Service stresses changing filters regularly.

Other tips include purchasing UV shades to block out the suns more harmful rays and being sensible with the cooling dial. Instead of setting the temperature to 69 degrees, set it to 70 or 72. According to Palmer, the little things add up to big savings.

“If our customers have a little extra money,” he says,” installing solar powered attic fans, roof vents, or additional insulation may also help. You’d be surprised how much heat is stored in the attic of a home. If you can reduce that, it lowers the effort on the cooling system to regulate the temperature.”

For more information on how to adopt energy-saving polices or have a system serviced for summer contact us.