We all try to take care of our homes as best we can, but most of us are not experts in home repair and maintenance.  Busy lives and schedules make it all too easy to neglect certain areas of our homes.  Unfortunately, neglect can lead to increased repair, decreased efficiency of appliances, and in some circumstances, life-threatening situations.

Below is a list of important information all homeowners should know:

  • NEVER store flammables close to your furnace, boiler or water heater, especially one with a standing pilot light.  Basements or utility rooms tend to be where we store a lot of our stuff, but if it comes in contact with heat or flames it could be a very dangerous situation.  Rule of thumb, keep a wide path around combustion appliances.
  • Furnace filters should ideally be changed every other month, or monthly during high use seasons (summer & winter).  Filters need to be changed on a regular basis to insure efficient and safe operation of your equipment, nonetheless, technicians routinely encounter furnaces in which filters have not been changed in years.
  • According to Energy Star, a division of the EPA, 20 percent of the air that moves through the duct system is lost due to leaks, holes, and poorly connected ducts. The result is higher utility bills and difficulty keeping the house comfortable, no matter how the thermostat is set.  Make sure that the connections at vents and registers are well sealed where they meet the floors, walls, and ceiling. These are common locations to find leaks and disconnected ductwork.
  • According to the National Fire Protection Association (between 2003-2006) more than 66 percent of home fire deaths occurred in homes without a working smoke alarm. Studies show that one working smoke alarm can reduce your chances of dying in a home fire by almost 50%.  In this same study, a quarter to one-third of smoke alarms in homes didn’t work due to dead or missing batteries.  Inspect and install new batteries once a year, pick a significant date that you will remember (i.e. daylight savings, birthday, anniversary).
  • Water pressure enters your home at about 40-60 pounds per square inch.  That’s enough to cause weak piping joints to burst.  If you notice a noisy condition, known as water hammer, or your water pressure seems too high, things probably aren’t right in your plumbing system and you need to call a plumber.
  • One of the simplest ways to extend the life of your water heater is to drain and refill it once a year.  Sediment will build up in your tank and in turn decreases the life of your water heater.  The build up of sediment in your tank leads to corrosion, which eventually rusts the bottom of your water heater out.  Flushing this sediment once per year, also improves the efficiency of your hot water heater, saving you money.
  • Any water heater without a working temperature and pressure relief valve is a time bomb waiting to explode.  Schedule water heater maintenance once a year to prevent this dangerous situation.
  • Corrosive drain cleaners, such as those sold on supermarket shelves, frequently cause injury to plumbers or homeowners when they open up pipes or sink traps to do repairs.  Non-corrosive drain cleaners are a much better choice.  Check with your plumber for options on environmentally safe drain cleaners.
  • Ground-fault circuit interrupters are simple, inexpensive devices that need to be installed in bathroom outlets or any outlets near water.  This is a necessary, inexpensive safety feature in any home.  If you’re comfortable you can install them yourself, if not, call an electrician.
  • More and more homes are installing carbon monoxide detectors, which is good!  However, many are installed near CO-emitting appliances, and they need to be installed near bedrooms.  The biggest risk from CO occurs when people are sleeping.
  • A programmable (or setback) thermostat is one of the best investments any homeowner can make.  These devices can be programmed to adjust your household temperature for maximum comfort when occupants are present, but conserve energy when everyone is away at school and/or work.

Sources:
www.Energystar.gov
www.usfa.fema.gov
www.nfpa.org