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Tips for the Busy Homeowner - HVAC Edition

Home maintenance can be over-whelming and Heating and Air Conditioning can be something you don’t think about unit it stops working. I sat down with Jerry Myers with Super Cool Heating and Air for some general information homeowners should do to make their current system last as long as possible.

In short, change your filters on a monthly basis to keep the system working it’s best and to keep the air you and your family breathe as healthy as possible. One thing that was new to me was that not all air filters of the same size should be used inter-changeably. If you’ve ever been to Lowes or Home Depot to buy these, you’ve seen the loose mesh version you can see through all of the way up to thicker felt-like accordion filters. The prices of these things they vary widely so I would think that the more expensive ones would be better for my system. According to Jerry, you need a professional to look at your system to see if it can handle the tightly woven filters. If you have only one or two intakes in your home, it could choke too much airflow and can shorten the functional life of your unit.  

Many people buy a home, but don’t really know about the equipment it has. Heating and Air Systems are installed differently in many homes due to access in attics and crawl spaces. Builders may have cut corners with the HVAC, so it’s super important to have it inspected twice a year and know what you can do in-between times to keep it working.

AC units create condensation as they cool your home- just like the water dripping under your car on a hot summer day when the AC is on. The system should be installed where this condensation is captured and drained through a pipe that takes it out of the house where it most likely drips at ground level. Jerry Myers advises homeowners to add one teaspoon of bleach at the beginning of each season to keep insects from building nests in these drain pipes. If a wasp or other insect were to build their nest in there, it clogs the pipe whereby the water builds up in the overflow pan and will eventually overflow. Many times these systems are up in the attic so sheetrock damage is common with these overflow situations.

Many heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) companies like Super Cool Heating and Air have annual service contracts available to make sure your system isn’t having any issues. The technician can should you what you need to look for on your system so you know how it works and what filters you should be buying and changing out regularly. 

I hope that helps someone out there with some basics about your HVAC system. Stay cool!
-Sara Tidwell

Tips for the Busy Homeowner - Water Edition

Owning your home can be exciting and give your family stability and pride. With increasing rental rates and still-low mortgage rates, owning a home can be a great choice. But, along with the fun-side of owning a home like picking paint colors and decorating, comes routine maintenance. Let's face it. Taking care of the little things around your home as they pop up will save a great amount of time, headache and expense in the long run. So, we are writing a number of blogs about general home maintenance. 

Let's face it. We all have busy lives and looking for possible signs of damage on your property and home isn't something that stays top of mind. Often times homeowners don't realize how important it is to do so until it is too late. In this installment, I want to talk about water and ways small amounts of water can do major damage if not taken care of.

Dump the Water

Do you see mosquitos when you are in your yard? If so, standing water is to blame. Mosquitos can breed in even small puddles. Take a walk around your yard and look for containers, spare tires hiding behind the garage, or low points in yard. Dump the containers of water, dry the tires and cover them up, or add soil to the low points fill in the puddles. This will make being in your yard more fun and will help the neighbors as well. If you have a water feature where you want standing water, consider adding a floating “donut” to it that prevents mosquitos from breeding.

Control the Flow

Years of pounding water around your homes’ foundation can cause erosion to the soil around your home. That could weaken it’s integrity or create an opening to unwanted pests. There are two common methods to combat this from happening. One is to have gutters installed. Gutters catch the water at the edge (eave) of your roof and direct the water to a downspout where it is directed to ground level. If you do have gutters, they must be kept clean or they will overflow. At the bottom of the downspout, be sure the water is directed away from the foundation by a diverter or another solution. The second, more old-school approach, is to have foundational plants that defuse water when it hits the leaves or rocks around the home so that the water that falls in sheets off the roof in heavy downpours cannot change the soil level when it hits the ground.

Rushing Water is moved away from the foundation with diverter or rocks at the opening at ground level.

Water is moved from the foundation under the flower bed with a buried pipe. The other end can have a pop-up drain or in this case dumps onto concrete.

Move it Back

If water pools around your home, here again, it’s not good for the foundation. Add soil around the perimeter so that water will move away and not toward your home. Don’t add too much so as to allow pests access through small spaces in the brick or siding, but just enough to get water away. If your yard slopes toward the home, consider installing a French drain. That’s a fancy term for creating a small trough (ditch) in the yard that will move the water away from and around the structure. Fill the drain with rock to keep soil in place but allows water to flow through. Some can have a perforated pipe but many times that isn’t necessary to do the job.

Stop the Leak

Last but certainly not least, if you see water in your home where isn’t supposed to be, follow the path of water flow to determine it’s source. Termites and mold both require a consistent water source, so check it out and stop that leak. Water can come in one spot but the evidence shows up somewhere else. So look under that cabinet, outside the window or climb in the attic. Water can come in from around windows (check and re-caulk every year or so), plumbing leaks, roof leaks, or even from condensation created from an air conditioning unit that isn’t draining correctly. If you aren’t able to find the source or would rather not do this yourself, professionals are available to help. The fee of a service visit is much less than the damage that undiagnosed water intrusion can create. If you are in the Northwest Arkansas area, Pinnacle Roofing does free roof inspections and will check out your attic space. 

These are my top tips regarding dealing with general water issues. I’ll address plumbing, HVAC, and roofing in future blog posts.

-Sarah Tidwell
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