Your air conditioning system could account for approximately 12 percent of your total annual home energy expenditures and up to 70% during the hotter summer months.
With a blast of Arctic air set to sweep into New Jersey this weekend, now is the time to make sure furnaces are in working order and your home’s pipes are protected.
Low temperatures on Saturday night into early Sunday morning will approach zero and could slip below zero in our area, according to the National Weather Service.
“The combination of wind and cold will make for dangerous conditions for the homeless and those not properly dressed this weekend,” according to AccuWeather.
Dressing for cold weather is both an art and a science. Think layers and choose the right fabrics.
Recognizing the warning signs of cold exposure — hypothermia — could save your life.
Here are some tips on what to do to keep pipes from freezing — and what to do if it happens anyway.
How to prepare:
- Know what areas of your home, such as basements, crawl spaces, unheated rooms and outside walls, are most vulnerable to freezing.
- Eliminate sources of cold air near water lines by repairing broken windows, insulating walls, closing off crawl spaces and eliminating drafts near doors.
- Know the location of your main water shut-off valve. If a pipe freezes or bursts, shut the water off immediately.
- Protect your pipes and water meter. Wrap exposed pipes with insulation or use electrical heat tracing wire; newspaper or fabric might also work. For outside meters, keep the lid to the meter pit closed tightly and let any snow that falls cover it. Snow acts as insulation, so don’t disturb it.
When temperatures are consistently at or below freezing:
- If you have pipes that are vulnerable to freezing, allow a small trickle of water to run overnight to keep pipes from freezing. The cost of the extra water is low compared to the cost to repair a broken pipe.
- Open cabinet doors to expose pipes to warmer room temperatures to help keep them from freezing.
If your pipes freeze:
- Shut off the water immediately. Don’t attempt to thaw frozen pipes unless the water is shut off. Freezing can often cause unseen cracks in pipes or joints.
- Apply heat to the frozen pipe by warming the air around it, or by applying heat directly to a pipe. You can use a hair dryer, space heater or hot water. Be sure not to leave space heaters unattended, and avoid the use of kerosene heaters or open flames.
- Once the pipes have thawed, turn the water back on slowly and check for cracks and leaks.
Who to call for help:
- If pipes inside the home are frozen, call us at (973) 943-0927.
- If there is no water or low pressure, and neighbors are experiencing the same situation, it could be a water main break, and customers should call the 24-hour customer service line at 1-800-652-6987.
When you are away:
- Have a friend, relative or neighbor regularly check your property to ensure that the heat is working and the pipes have not frozen.
- A freeze alarm can be purchased for less than $100 and will call a user-selected phone number if the inside temperature drops below 45 degrees.
- Residents are also reminded to clear snow from hydrants. Substantial snow accumulations combined with the after-effects of plowing roads and parking lots can leave fire hydrants partially or completely buried in snow.In these conditions, extra precautions should be taken to protect against carbon monoxide poisoning. Pennsylvania has one of the highest rates of carbon monoxide-related deaths in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Becoming a new home owner is a very exciting time. There are plenty of new tasks to take on after obtaining the keys. However, there are some things a new home owner should NOT do after moving in.
1. Not being familiar with the new home
There are parts of a new home that the new owner should be aware of. The main water valve and circuit box are two crucial components of a home. Locating these two items is very important as a home owner. In case of an emergency such as a burst pipe, there may be no time for scrambling to find the circuit box or water valve. In addition, it is good practice to label it, so it is clear which fuses belong to each room.
2. Not paying attention to the foundation
The foundation is arguably the most important aspect of a home. Something as simple as the slope of soil around the foundation can be indicative of big problems. If the soil does not slope six inches over ten feet, water from snow and rain can seep into the foundation causing cracks and leaks. This kind of repair starts at several thousands of dollars and can be devastating for home owners.
3. Cutting down trees
Cutting down a tree can seem like a small task anyone can do. Home owners should always hire a professional for this service. Even smaller trees can be awkward and are hard to control once they are fall and can crash into a home or garage/shed. Fixing a repair from a tree taking out the roof is much more costly than hiring for professional removal.
4. Drilling into walls carelessly
Much like removing a tree, hanging décor or shelves can seem like an easy job. However, one must be very cautious when putting holes in the wall. Behind the walls, there could be electrical wires and cables, duct work and plumbing pipes that could be damaged by a drill. To prevent costly errors, use a stud finder to help avoid wires and ducts. Even if a stud indicates clear to drill, only drill about 1.25 inches in to avoid hitting anything important.
5. Not insulating
Not only is a house uncomfortable when it is too hot or too cold, it is also very costly to the home owner. Check the attic for insulation depth to know if a home needs to be insulated. Home owners should know where the entrance to the attic is, and how deep the insulation is. If insulation is not 10-14 inches deep, new insulation should be put down. Also, ensure the hatch to access the attic has insulation covering it as well to ensure minimal air leakage.
6. Not cleaning gutters
Cleaning gutters is a chore many people hate. It can be a pain to get on a ladder and clean filthy debris from above. However, neglecting this task can mean serious water damage to the roof and the home in general. Clogged gutters can interfere with proper water flow from the property. Clean gutters will ensure water flows away from the house and not into it.
A properly working heater is the key to a comfortable home this holiday season. Peak functionality also keeps your heating bills down, an important consideration when other costs climb around the holidays. To ensure you and your guests stay comfy and cozy while the wind whistles outside, perform the items on this checklist prior to the holidays.
Change the Air Filter
This is the first and one of the most important tasks to prepare your heater for winter. A dirty air filter blocks airflow, reduces efficiency and overworks the equipment. On the other hand, replacing the filter regularly promotes cleaner indoor air, lower your energy bills and helps your equipment last longer.
Plan to change the filter at the start of the heating season. Then, check it once a month during the winter and change it when it begins to appear dirty, waiting no more than three months between changes. Make sure you choose replacement filters of the proper size and efficiency for the best results.
If you run an electronic air cleaner in the winter, be sure to clean the unit’s air filter according to manufacturer directions.
Check for Gas Leaks
If your heater runs on natural gas, a leak could develop and create risk for you and your family. Before relying too much on your heater this season, inspect the furnace for worn or damaged connections. Be aware of natural gas odors. If you discover a problem – either with your eyes or your nose – call a professional for further investigation before you turn on the heater.
Check the Air Vents
Supply registers deliver heated air while return registers send cooled air back to the furnace for reheating. If these vents are blocked, heating efficiency declines and you tend to experience hot and cold pockets throughout your home. This can create great discomfort during a holiday get-together.
To promote better airflow and a more even temperature, walk around your home and check that all air vents are unobstructed. Move area rugs, reposition furniture and tie curtains back if necessary to allow for ample airflow.
Test for Proper Operation
Switch the dial on your thermostat to “Heat” and turn the temperature up a degree or two to trigger the furnace. Listen for any strange sounds coming from the heater or the ductwork. If you hear anything odd, it may be wise to contact a heating technician for a repair.
Place your hand over various registers in your home, including those located close to the furnace and those farther away. Make sure the air is plenty hot and exiting the registers with ample force.
Schedule an Annual Tune-Up
A complete furnace inspection includes other tasks that only a qualified technician should perform. That’s why the final item on your checklist should be to schedule preventative maintenance from Green Apple Mechanical NJ. We have the knowledge and experience needed to check fuel connections, test the gas pressure, clean the burners, inspect the heat changer, test system controls and more.
If you experience trouble with any of the items on this checklist, please contact Green Apple Mechanical to speak with a knowledgeable technician. Call your friends at Green Apple Mechanical NJ at 888-611-7191