HVAC | Electrical | Plumbing

Maintenance Tips: Air Duct Cleaning

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How often do you need to clean your ductwork? Recommendations vary, so individual circumstances and preferences should dictate the timing of this task.

Every day we bring dirt and dust particles inside our homes from the great outdoors. We also generate dirt and dust indoors, depending on our daily activities. As the particles become airborne, they get drawn into our HVAC systems. (Our children may even drop toys, socks, or balls into them as well). As this continues over time, particles build up along the inner walls of the ductwork. Imagine what your furniture or floors would look like if you never dusted them. Cleaning up the accumulation of dirt, dust and debris inside your ductwork is common sense and part of good housekeeping.

Installing Track Lighting in Your Home

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Follow our step-by-step guide and successfully install track lighting.

Installing track lighting in your home can really spruce up a room and give it new ambiance. Join our host, Jeff Wilson, as he demonstrates how to easily install new track lighting to brighten up your home.

Maintenance Tips: Central Air Conditioner

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Perform a few simple maintenance tasks, schedule professional HVAC service on a yearly basis, and enjoy efficient performance and trouble-free operation of your central air conditioner throughout its expected lifespan (and maybe longer).

Invented after the turn of the 20th century but not mass-produced for homes until after World War II, the air conditioner has increased our comfort and modified the landscape from coast to coast. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) 2009 American Housing Survey (AHS), 75% of owner-occupied housing in the United States has a central air conditioning unit. The average life expectancy of these air conditioning units is 10–15 years, according to the Study of Life Expectancy of Home Components, prepared in 2007 by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). Neglecting your unit will result in a shortened lifetime, costly repairs, and higher energy costs due to inefficient operation. Maintain your unit and you will extend its lifetime and keep repair and energy costs low while ensuring your comfort on those hot summer days.

Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters

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Arc fault circuit interrupters (ACFIs) de-energize circuits when an arc fault is detected, preventing overheating and possible combustion. ACFIs enhance safety in any home and are required for some new construction, varying by state.

Over the past decade or so, a discussion about arc fault circuit interrupters and their required use in residential construction has raged among officials, organizations, corporations, and individuals related to the construction industry. Change can be difficult but “only the wisest and stupidest of men never change," as Confucius said. Change has occurred consistently in residential electrical systems since Thomas Edison unveiled the first electric light on New Year’s Eve, 1879. Knob and tube, cloth-braided, PVC-jacketed, two wire then three wire, fuses then breakers… the list goes on and on. Change happens. Most of that change can be attributed to our steadily increasing understanding of electricity since we were first electrified. With its increasing use in our homes, and the considerations of inhabitants’ safety and the prevention of property damage, it is not surprising that regulations have continued to change. So why do we resist? We should expect change and grow with it, particularly when it is in the interest of our own safety and can prevent the loss of property.

Energy-Efficient Gas Water Heater Replacement Options

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Tankless hot water heaters are popular line items on most “green home improvements” lists. Does installing a tankless water heater pay off and, if so, how long does it take to see a return on your investment? That depends on your usage rate and other factors… check out the cost comparisons below.

Most of us take hot water for granted – but we really shouldn’t. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, heating water accounts for 14%–25% of the energy consumed in our homes. If you’re like most people, you have a conventional gas storage water heater that serves your household. When it fails, you’ll likely replace it immediately with another conventional gas storage water heater, because that is the least expensive option and it will quickly mitigate any potential for another cold shower. Iinstead of waiting until your heater breaks, you should plan (now, while the water is hot!) for your water heater’s replacement. We’ll provide basic information about some of your options by taking a look at two types of ENERGY STAR-qualified water heaters: high-efficiency gas storage and whole-home gas tankless. Then, when your water heater fails, you’ll be able to make an educated decision and purchase an energy-efficient replacement.

Pipe Insulation

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Do you know what to do if you have a frozen pipe -- or even how to tell if that is the problem? Learn how to identify and remedy frozen pipes or, better yet, prevent them from freezing in the first place.

According to The Old Farmer's Almanac, this upcoming winter will be a season of unusually cold and stormy weather. While homes in the north are more likely to experience longer durations of cold temperatures, homeowners in the south shouldn’t ignore the potential for one or two cold spells. During the cold winter months, frozen pipes are a serious risk to your health and home. With Old Man Winter right around the corner, now is the time protect your home and prevent frozen pipes.

Prevent Basement Flooding with a Backup Sump Pump System

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It’s no fun to end up with wet feet when you step into your basement, not to mention the fact that extensive flooding can cause real damage. Even if you have a sump pump, it is a piece of equipment that can fail just when you need it most. Find out what your options are for a backup pump and what it will cost.

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." — Benjamin Franklin

Houses with in-ground basements, if they were built after the 1980s, commonly have AC-powered sump pumps installed. The sole purpose of such a pump is to discharge groundwater that is collected in a sump, then direct it outside and away from the foundation. The anticipated life span of a pump depends on how often it’s used, as well as the size, type, and quality of the pump installed. Unfortunately, there is no definitive duration of time that one can expect a sump pump to last; it may operate for 5, 15, or even 30 years. No matter the age of the pump, it won’t operate during a power failure, and such failures are common enough occurrences during severe storms. For these reasons, a sump pump’s failure to operate cannot be planned for. The best work-around is to put in place a preventative measure, such as a battery or water powered backup sump pump system, to insure that groundwater is collected and removed.

Plumbing with PEX

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Are you working with your builder to plan construction for a new home or remodel your existing home? Maybe you are just contemplating your next move. Chances are you have heard about PEX plumbing and have wondered if it's a suitable option for your residence as compared to the more traditional piping material, copper. Although PEX (cross-linked polyethylene) is a relatively newer piping material than copper or even chlorinated polyvinyl chloride (CPVC), it has a successful history of use in residential applications. PEX has been used in Europe since the 1960s and has experienced significant growth in the United States since its introduction in the 1980s. In a highly regulated industry, PEX piping undergoes extensive testing and certification to meet strict performance requirements to ensure a quality material that provides healthy drinking water.

How to Maintain a Furnace

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The old saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” couldn’t be truer when it comes to your furnace. Whether you have an oil, gas, or electric furnace, it’s important for your health, safety, and even your home budget, to perform regular checks and maintenance. Join our host, Jeff Wilson, for a review of some simple tips and tricks to keep your furnace operating safely at its highest efficiency.

How to Install a GFCI Outlet

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What kind of electrical receptacle should you install in the kitchen or bath? The answer is a GFCI outlet, or a ground fault circuit interrupt outlet. A GFCI (or GFI) outlet should be installed in any place where electricity might come in contact with water; such as a kitchen, a bathroom, a laundry room, garage, or exterior space. Basically, a GFCI outlet will sense when electricity is going to pass through a person’s body and it will shut off before the shock is delivered. Installing this type of outlet is only slightly more complex than installing a standard three-pronged receptacle. Join the At Home channel’s host, Jeff Wilson, for a tutorial on how to install a GFCI electrical outlet.

How to Replace a Light Fixture

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Replace an old light fixture in a few easy steps with our helpful guide.

Old light fixtures can make a room look dated. Funny thing is, installing new light fixtures is one of the easiest things to change and is a job any do-it-yourselfer can tackle. Join our host, Jeff Wilson, as he demonstrates the job of removing an old fixture and replacing it with a new one to brighten up your room.

How to Install an Electrical Outlet

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Whether you have a broken electrical outlet or just want to update the look of your home’s electrical devices to go with the new decorating, installing a new 120-volt electrical outlet is a simple project. A broken or faulty outlet is a definite concern, and, as with any electrical project around the home, safety is the number one concern. With a little bit of advice and a focus on safety, any homeowner or DIYer can replace an electrical outlet. Join the At Home channel’s host, Jeff Wilson, for a quick lesson on how to install a standard 120-volt electrical outlet.

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