Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Time to Winterize

It’s hard to believe, with the record warm temperatures we have been enjoying, that in a few weeks we may have pipes bursting because of freezing. As winter approaches it’s time to prepare for the cold and snow.

If you have a sprinkler system, it needs to be turned off and drained before the temperatures dip below freezing.

If you have an evaporative cooler, the water line needs to be disconnected and drained. A cover over the cooler will help keep the winter cold out.

Outside faucets need to have hoses disconnected and some need to have the water turned off and drained.

It’s time to have the furnace filter changed and it may be good to have a professional do a check-up on the furnace.

Gutters need to be cleaned so that accumulated leaves don’t keep them from draining.

Spending a little time on these items will prevent repair bills later.

I would be glad to help you get your home ready for winter. You can reach me at 303-232-3347.


Monday, April 12, 2010

Spring - Time to Clean Gutters

Did you clean your gutters last fall? Have they been cleaned in the last year?

Unless you live in an area where there are no trees around, gutter cleaning is a very important part of home maintenance. The purpose of the gutters is to collect water that falls on our roofs and to divert it away from the home foundation.

When the gutters are not cleaned, two main problems can occur. One is that the water can’t drain out so it backs up into the fascia and soffit (the wood behind and below the gutters). When that happens, the wood starts to rot and in some cases the wall inside the house can be damaged. A second problem is when the water overflows the front of the gutter and instead of being diverted away from the house, it ends up running down the foundation. This can result in flooding in the basement.

It’s a good idea to clean your gutters at least once a year and more often if you have trees in your yard. It’s usually not very expensive and keeps you from having damage to your home that can be very costly to repair.

I do most gutter cleaning jobs although there are some I don’t such as full two story homes and steep roofs. In any case if I can’t do it I can refer you to a company who can.

Give me a call at 303-232-3347 and we can discuss your need.


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sewer Gas Smell

I received a phone call from a friend about a smell in the basement. They were sure it was sewer gas. There had been some maintenance done in the street; could have it resulted from that?

The first question is to make sure you know the difference between the smell of sewer gas and natural gas. Natural gas has a very distinctive “rotten egg” smell. If you have never smelled either you may need someone with an experienced nose to point out the difference. Otherwise what you smell may be a pair of stinky sneakers.

You really should know what natural gas smells like so that if you ever smell it you know to get out of the house and call the fire department. It isn’t something you want to mess with.

It you do smell sewer gas, the most likely culprit is a drain trap that has dried out. Places to check are floor drains, tub and shower drains, sink drains and toilets. If these are not used regularly they can dry out and let the sewer gas into the house. Make sure to run water in them every few months. You can pour a bucket of water into the floor drains. Another possibility is if the wax seal at the base of a toilet has been compromised and is allowing the gas to escape.

There are other possibilities that allow sewer gas to escape such as a broken vent pipe but that’s less common. In those cases it may require a plumber with specialized equipment to locate the source.

After I talked to my friend I found out that there was a bathroom in the basement that was rarely used. They ran water in all the drains and the smell went away. They were relieved that their fears of a much larger job didn’t come to pass.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Carbon Monoxide Alarms Save Lives

A bill was signed into law in Colorado last year that mandated carbon monoxide alarms beginning July 1, 2009. Here are the basics of the law: it applies to new homes, homes that are sold, homes that are remodeled, and rental homes or apartments where a change of tenancy occurs after July 1, 2009. The alarms need to be installed within 15 feet of sleeping areas.

Here is a link to House Bill 09-1091, see it for complete details.

So what is carbon monoxide and why should we be concerned about it? Here are some facts from the article, Carbon Monoxide Questions and Answers.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a deadly, colorless, odorless, poisonous gas. It is produced by the incomplete burning of various fuels, including coal, wood, charcoal, oil, kerosene, propane, and natural gas. These products include malfunctioning fuel-burning appliances such as furnaces, ranges, water heaters and room heaters; engine-powered equipment such as portable generators; fireplaces; and charcoal that is burned in homes and other enclosed areas.

Because CO is odorless, colorless, and otherwise undetectable to the human senses, people may not know that they are being exposed. The initial symptoms of low to moderate CO poisoning are similar to the flu (but without the fever). They include:
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
High level CO poisoning results in progressively more severe symptoms, including:
  • Mental confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of muscular coordination
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Ultimately death
Symptom severity is related to both the CO level and the duration of exposure. For slowly developing residential CO problems, occupants and/or physicians can mistake mild to moderate CO poisoning symptoms for the flu, which sometimes results in tragic deaths. For rapidly developing, high level CO exposures (e.g., associated with use of generators in residential spaces), victims can rapidly become mentally confused, and can lose muscle control without having first experienced milder symptoms; they will likely die if not rescued.

As you can see, carbon monoxide can be very serious. I advise that even if this law doesn’t apply to you that you install alarms in your home. Some simply plug in to a wall outlet. A basic battery operated model can be had for less than twenty dollars. That’s a small price to pay for safety and peace of mind.

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