Make Your Home Safe for Everyone
Let’s face it; you shouldn’t have to worry about whether your furnace will last the winter or whether your water heater is running efficiently. When your HVAC, plumbing, and electrical systems are functioning smoothly, there’s really no need for them to take up your time or energy.
However, when it comes to these systems’ safety concerns, you do need to be attentive. When something goes wrong with any of these critical systems or their components, it’s not just inconvenient but also can be hazardous.
Did you know that March 4 is National Safety Day?
With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at some safety tips for your HVAC, electrical, and plumbing systems and how they can help you not only save money but, more importantly, give you peace of mind on National Safety Day.
HVAC System Safety Tips
Your HVAC system plays a major part in keeping you and your family comfortable. Still, it’s equally important for homeowners to be familiar with using and maintaining these systems safely.
Being aware of the heating and cooling elements in your home can go a long way to helping assure the safety and comfort level of your family.
Here are several tips to keep you safe.
Install a carbon monoxide detector
You’ve probably heard any number of horror stories about carbon monoxide, the deadly, odorless, colorless gas that has triggered numerous illnesses and fatalities.
Some of these stories may indeed have been a bit exaggerated, but the danger of carbon monoxide needs to be taken seriously. When not taken seriously, carbon monoxide can prove to be fatal, and therefore it’s vital to take precautions.
Sometimes these leaks can be produced by faulty heating systems and ventilation glitches. To be sure you’re able to detect a leak, it’s best to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home. These devices, which can be purchased in your local home improvement store, will warn you of a leak, so you’re able to make an informed decision to maintain your family’s safety.
Note: You need to make sure these detectors have fresh batteries. Also, if you smell gas, don’t attempt to fix the leak or shut off the gas yourself. Leave the house immediately and contact your local utility company.
A clogged filter could create a fire hazard
One of the essentials of HVAC safety and upkeep is constantly changing out your air filter. A clean air filter can enhance your indoor air quality, cut your energy usage and prolong the life of your unit. Alternatively, a clogged air filter can worsen your indoor air quality, boost the amount of dust and dander, cause your unit to work overtime, and even produce a fire hazard.
Since a clogged filter will reduce the amount of airflow, this can cause a system breakdown, leading to a ventilation fire. Not only can this severely damage your HVAC system, but it will also pose a danger to your whole home. To avoid this occurrence, take a few minutes to change your air filter.
It’s advised that homeowners change or clean their HVAC air filters every one to three months. However, you need to clean or replace it more often if your home is exposed to pet hair, smoke, or excessive dirt, such as from construction. Remember, changing the filter takes only a couple of minutes. Time well spent!
Another tip is to confirm the correct size of the filter for your system. Using filters that are too small or too thick will cause debris to collect, resulting in poor airflow and preventing your system from operating properly.
Make sure the air ducts are clean
Your air ducts also need to be free of dust, debris, dander, pests, and molds. All of these allergens can degrade your indoor air quality, heighten your level of discomfort, and ultimately trigger health problems.
If you detect a moldy odor coming from your vents, you might have to have your ducts cleaned. Keep in mind the air you breathe travels through your ductwork recurrently, so it’s imperative to be sure they’re clean and free of contaminants. If you want DIY duct cleaning, check out our blog on, How to Clean Air Ducts Yourself.
Electrical Safety Concerns
Electricity is part of our everyday lives. We employ it from the time we wake in the morning until the time we go to bed. Since it’s such an everyday part of our lives, we sometimes forget how hazardous it can be.
While it’s a good idea to call an expert for any type of electrical repair or upgrade, here are a couple of electrical safety tips that can help keep you and your family safe in the interim.
Be wary of overloaded outlets
Overloading an electrical outlet is a familiar source of electrical problems. That’s why it’s important to check all outlets to ensure they are cool to the touch.
According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), you should follow these additional electrical outlet safety tips.
- Do not utilize extension cords or multi-outlet converters for household appliances
- Plug only a single heat-producing appliance into an outlet at the same time.
- Hot outlets need to be inspected by certified electricians.
- Remember, power strips only add outlets – they don’t change the amount of power the outlet receives.
- Smart plugs can be placed to check outlet power loads and even shut off appliances when an outlet begins to overheat
Damaged power cords are a significant electrical safety risk.
They are capable of triggering both fires and electrocution. All power and extension cords need to be examined routinely for indications of fraying and cracking and need to be repaired or replaced as required.
Never staple a power cord into place or run it under rugs and furniture. Cords under rugs create a tripping hazard and can overheat, while furniture placed on a cord can crush the cord insulation and damage wires.
Truthfully, the regular use of extension cords could mean you don’t have sufficient outlets to fit your needs. We recommend you have a qualified electrician install additional outlets in rooms where you find need more power use. When purchasing a power cord, pay special attention to the electrical load it will carry. A cord with a load of 16 AWG can handle up to 1,375 watts. For heavier loads, use a 14 or 12 AWG cord.
Note: AWG stands for “American Wire Gauge.” The lower the number, the thicker the cord.
Consider an Arc Fault Protection Interrupter (ACFI)
Arc faults cause a monstrous 30,000 home fires in the U.S. each year, according to the ESFI. Since the issue begins with damaged wires, outlets, and appliances, you’re more prone to contend with arc faults in older or badly wired homes.
Arc fault protection interrupters spot the moment this potentially destructive fault occurs, blocking off power before the problem gets worse. An AFCI offers a higher amount of protection than a conventional circuit breaker by first sensing and then removing the dangerous arcing condition before it becomes a fire hazard.
Can I have ACFIs installed even if I’m not required to install them?
Absolutely, do you only place locks on the house’s front door? Just like putting locks on all external doors and windows for security reasons, it’s logical to request AFCI protection on all 15- and 20-amp branch circuits to protect the entire home from an electrical arcing ignition hazard.
AFCIs are available through electrical distributors and in most home centers.
Plumbing Safety Issues
Imagine waking up in the morning to a mini-lake where your basement used to be! Boxes of childhood photos and high school yearbooks are totally ruined. You immediately pinch yourself and understand you’re not having a nightmare. Your water heater sprung a leak overnight!!
It might seem like a melodramatic scene out of a movie, but plumbing catastrophes occur routinely. Remember, within your home is an intricate network of pipes, drains, and appliances that all work in unison to help make your life easier.
We have a habit of recalling things we don’t see, and plumbing systems generally function away from the naked eye. But just like most everything else in your home, your plumbing is susceptible to wear and tear. And the best way to sidestep a disaster? A decent knowledge of basic plumbing problems and solutions is critical for effective plumbing maintenance.
Here are some important plumbing tips you should want to master as a homeowner.
Become familiar with your main water line.
Your main water line is the initial entry point for water flowing into your home. It’s usually located in the basement close to the water heater. On the main water line, you’ll notice a shutoff valve (either a lever or wheel). This valve will totally halt water flow into your home when you close it.
If you need to take care of a major plumbing project or experience a condition such as a leak or a burst pipe, cutting off the main water line needs to be the first step you take!
Know how to cope with clogged drains
At some point when owning a home, you’re going to endure a clogged drain. Why? When we take showers, our hair falls out and builds up in the drain over time.
Your first impulse when tackling a clog might be to pour a liquid drain cleaner down the clogged drain. Don’t do it.
That’s right, keep away from liquid drain cleaners like the plague. We know, it looks like an easy fix. But the chemicals contained in these cleaners can harm your plumbing infrastructure. If your sink or tub keeps clogging up, get a snake or similar device that can pull out any debris blocking your pipes.
If you did try to use a liquid drain cleaning product prior to calling a plumber, please make sure to tell our technician there are chemicals in the system. The presence and intensity of the acids are valuable information to keep our team members safe from chemical burns as well as aid in the best course of corrective action for the clogged drain.
If there’s a doubt, plunge it out
Now, if your sink clog appears to be salvageable, use a plunger to help reestablish the water flow. Plungers are a wonderful, non-invasive way to push the water out – minus a massive amount of work to be performed. But, of course, when it comes to plungers, you’ll want a flat-shaped plunger for your sink as opposed to a bell-shaped plunger designed for the toilet.
The whole ball of wax (figuratively speaking) is not meant to be flushed
This may come as a big revelation to some, but your toilet bowl was never intended to be employed as a garbage can. Your home’s toilet should be used to rid of toilet paper and human waste. However, if you’re enticed into risking the “health” of your toilet bowl, you most likely will encounter a severe clog.
Keep drains garbage-free
Another plumbing issue that inclines to be abused (in addition to the toilet) is a nearby sink drain. While it may very well be appealing to “jab down” any loose garbage at hand, doing so can be harmful to your drain’s well-being.
For example, never get rid of coffee grounds or vegetable shavings down any drain – they can trigger a rather severe blockage. For example, putting the wrong items down the garbage disposal can snap the blades, break the device and cause further issues.
These are only a few of the safety tips for HVAC, electrical, and plumbing issues. Please look back on some past blogs for other important safety tips.
Need expert service?
If you happen to run into a problem with your home’s HVAC, electrical or plumbing systems, please don’t hesitate to contact the experts at J&A Service Partners at (412) 357-6043 .