Tell Pests to Take a Hike

Indoors is indoors and outdoors is outdoors, and homeowners are pretty clear about what belongs where.  Yet pests and other tiny wildlife have little respect for which is which when they find their way through an entry point into our homes.

Ants marching in formation, buzzers caught in the miniblinds, stingers winging through your family room, crawlers setting up camp in the kitchen – this is nothing any of us want to see.

To help keep your home secure from unwelcome pests, start with this principle: Don’t give them what they want.

Pest infestations begin when pests find what they need to live and reproduce.  Like the rest of us, this includes food, water, shelter.  For example, pests see food in unsealed containers or in unsecured garbage cans as a welcome sight.  Moisture from leaky plumbing and fixtures or stagnant water from drainage may be distasteful to us but delightful to them.

Simple solutions will help, including:

  • Have a pest control technician check crawlspaces and the attic twice a year for signs of moisture, entry points and pest activity.
  • Keep food tightly sealed (pet food too).
  • Seal entryways such as windows, crawlspace openings, electrical wiring structures or other holes and cracks.flower

Cooling System Checklist

Carbon Clean Merv 16 filter

Carbon Clean Merv 16 filter

Here is a DIY checklist to make sure your cooling system will save you money on your electric bill this spring and summer.

  • Have the cooling system maintained and inspected yearly, by a qualified contractor like us.
  • Set the thermostat at 78°F.  Each degree higher saves approximately 6% on air conditioning costs.
  • Don’t turn the thermostat lower than the desired setting.  The house will not cool off any faster and can overshoot the desired temperature – wasting energy.
  • Install a ceiling fan to create air movement.  The air movement can keep you cool at a higher temperature, allowing you to avoid using your air conditioner, or letting you set the air conditioner at a higher temperature.
  • Cut back plants, bushes, and trees that may restrict air flow to the outdoor unit.
  • Keep the outdoor coils free of dirt, debris, and leaves.
  • Keep windows shut when closing up the house for the day or when running the air conditioner.
  • Make sure your clothes dryer is vented outdoors.  You don’t need the heat or humidity inside the house.
  • Close your drapes on hot days.  If there is some way to shade your windows from the outside, this will keep out even more heat.
  • Use kitchen and bath vents to rid the house of excess heat and moisture.  Turn off the gas furnace pilot light in the summer.
  • Change the furnace filter.  They need to be changed anywhere from every 30-270 days.

DIY Energy Saving Checklist

Listed below are some simple things you can check to better control your electrical usage throughout the year.

  • Install flow reducing shower heads
  • Insulate your water heater, unless it’s a newer insulated model
  • Insulate pipes in unheated spaces
  • Vacuum the vents and coils for the refrigerator/freezer twice a year because dust makes them work longer to cool.
  • Don’t block air circulation around the refrigerator
  • Replace gaskets that don’t seal tightly on the refrigerator/freezer
  • The higher the air temperatures are in a garage in the summer, the higher the operating costs of refrigerator/freezer will be.
  • Use lower wattage lamps in fixtures where you don’t need as much light, such as hallways and bedrooms.
  • Use florescent fixtures and lamps whenever possible.  They use a quarter of an incandescent lamp, and provide the same amount of light, and last at least 7 times as long.
halloween snoopy

Happy Halloween!!!

Heating System Checklist

If you are concerned about your electric bill this winter, here is a DIY checklist that will allow you to save and better control your electrical/gas usage.

  • When the house is occupied, the recommend temperature setting during the winter is 68°F.  If the house in unoccupied see our blog What Should I Set My Thermostat To When I’m On Vacation to see what you should set your thermostat to.
  • Leave the registers open and do not block registers with furniture (air flow is important).  Any time a register is blocked, even if you don’t want air going into that room, it creates a strain on the heating or cooling system.
  • Check the furnace filter every 30-60 days.  Fun tip: You can have us send email reminders to check your filter if you don’t think you’ll remember.
  • Use the bathroom and kitchen vents only when moisture, heat, and odors become a problem.
  • Close drapes at night and on cloudy days.
  • If you have natural gas of propane appliances make sure your carbon monoxide (CO) detectors are in proper working condition.
  • Insulate hot and cold water pipes in unheated areas.

filters

Home Efficiency Checklist

IMG_1225

Weather stripping around doors.

Here are a number of simple and inexpensive DIY projects that will reduce your heating cost this winter and cooling costs next summer.  These projects will also make your home a healthier and more comfortable place to live.

  • Weather-strip the attic access door.
  • Seal the holes between the heated space and the attic.
  • Check weather-stripping on windows and doors inside and outside of the house.
  • Caulk along baseboards with a clear sealant.
  • Replace your old leaky windows.  When unable to replace an inefficient window, install plastic over the inside of the window.  If you desire something more permanent than plastic, install an interior storm window.
  • Replace broken glass and any loose caulking.
  • Replace an old warped entry door with a new insulated door.
  • Keep dryer vent screens lint free.
  • Seal any holes in the foundation wall with caulk for foam sealant.
  • If you have a crawl space, place a layer of plastic on the dirt floor.
Window

Make sure your windows are sealed.

DIY: The Perfect Room

It’s true, not everyone can be Michelangelo and paint the Sistine Chapel.  But, if you’ve got the color, a free weekend and your own two hands, there’s no reason you can’t transform your own home into a DIY masterpiece.

These FAQ’s can put you on the path to painting perfection:

What type of paint is best?

There are two basic types: oil based and water-based paint.  When painting a room, modern water-based paint dries faster, has less odor and has plenty of gloss and wipeability.  You’ll find it hard to go wrong with a matte or eggshell finish.

How much paint do I need?

The general rule is to use one gallon for every 350 square feet or surface area.  Sherwin-Williams.com allows you to type your wall dimensions into their paint calculator.  Always buy an extra quart for touch-ups later on.

What about a primer?

There is no need for primer unless walls are badly stained, marked up with spackle from patching or you’re painting a light color over a dark one.

What’s the step-by-step?

  • Clean dusty ceiling corners and baseboards.
  • Apply painter’s tape.  Start in a corner and take your time tearing off tape strips (about 2-3 feet long).
  • Put down drop cloths.
  • Before you lift a roller, “cut” all corners in the room.  Roll away!

Painting Supplies