Beat the Heat

5 Tips to beat the heat in a poorly performing house:

1) Don’t forget to close your windows and shades in the morning to keep in the cold air trapped inside during the day.

2) Change your furnace filter monthly or as soon as the light passing through it is reduced by particulates.

3) Keep your AC Condenser clear of plant material, level, and raised up off the ground at least a few inches.

4) Cut the power at the breaker box and rinse the fins of the condenser when dirty.

5) Put a fan at the bottom of the stairs blowing cold air up to the next level.

5 Steps to Cleaning Your A/C Condenser

1. Turn off the power at the electrical panel or remove the “key” fuse on the gray box outside.

2. Cut away anything growing over it that restricts air flow.

3. Rinse the radiator fins with a hose (dust, dirt, grass clippings, fuzz, leaves, reduce its ability to evaporate water efficiently).

4. Turn on the power.

5. Repeat seasonally.

The Dreaded Ice Dam

In the last month I have spoken with a handful of clients about ice dams and it felt like every other call to the Home Improvement Show on Newsradio WOOD 1300 has been on the same subject. West MI Morning News even had me on last week for an interview regarding Ice Dams.  Click here to listen to the podcast of that interview. In brief written-form here are the essentials you need to know about Ice Dams:

What Happens:

Heat melts snow that travels down to the edge of your roof where cold air refreezes it. The ice piles up and water pools behind the dam. Over time the water works its way under the shingles, through the attic, and into your house. It’s nasty and it’s very common.  If you see icicles, an ice dam may be forming.

Causes (In Order of Offense):

  1. Air leaks in the attic
  2. Improper insulation
  3. Improper attic ventilation
  4. Big things that radiate heat – i.e. Your chimney is both in the house and in attic and it radiates heat.
  5. Sun melted snow on South facing roofs

The Cure:

  1. Professional diagnosis of the 5 causes above…Call me. 616-942-1866

Manage the Symptoms:

  1. Buy a roof rake and remove the 6′ of snow closest to the lowest edge [eaves] of the roof.  The snow is pulled off the roof from the ground and they cost $35-75 dollars **Plus $10 per time to your neighbor’s kid!
  2. Electric heat tape can be installed along the eaves and up the valleys where two roof planes come together. Make sure to run 1 or 2 loops into the eave troughs [gutters] and down the down spouts so the melted snow has somewhere to go other than under your shingles and into your dining room ceiling.
  3. In an emergency you can put Ice Melt into a sacrificial tube sock, tie the end, and throw it/place it on the ice dam to create a way for water to get out.NOTE: Please don’t use ice melt on the roof as preventative maintenance. I shutter picturing you shoveling your front walk, putting down Ice Melt on the walk, and then heaving a big shovelful up over your shoulder on to your roof. Over time that will rot & deteriorate the wood support structure of your roof. That fix could be even more expensive than damage caused by an ice dam.

How to Care for Carpet

Care: The best way to prolong your carpet’s life is to vacuum regularly, as it prevents dirt from being embedded. Use scissors to clip snags do not pull at them. Professional cleaning is recommended every 18 to 24 months. Always pre-test a hidden area before using a cleaner to remove a stain. Never saturate carpet with liquid.

Cleaning: A wet/dry vacuum cleaner is the best way to effectively remove stains. Remove as much of the stain by vacuum and slowly add water, blotting as you go. If spot removal solvent is necessary, apply several drops to a clean white cloth and blot the carpet in an inconspicuous area. If a color change occurs or color transfers to the cloth, consult a professional carpet cleaner. Place towels or cloth over wet area and weight with a heavy, colorfast object to absorb moisture. Leave overnight. You can also use a detergent solution made of ¼ tsp dissolved in one quart of water.

How to Care for Natural Stone Tile

Natural Tile (slate, marble, travertine, etc.)

Care: Wipe up spills, especially acidic or oil based ones immediately. Prolonged exposure can cause staining. Natural stones are strongly recommended to be sealed. How often is highly based on use, but every 2-3 years is recommended. If used in a shower, you may need to seal as often as once every year. Tile can be sealed by a professional or use a “natural stone” sealer purchased from the manufacturer or home improvement store. This process takes about 5-10 minutes. Clean surface before sealing

Cleaning: Avoid cleaners with ammonia or vinegar. Use a soft damp cloth for routine cleaning. While a mild, soapy water can occasionally be used, overexposed will cause buildup and can dull the finish. It is recommended to use a specialized cleaner formulated for “natural stone” if you want to use more than water. To minimize build-up in a shower, do not use bar soap, but liquid body wash.

Special Note on Slate: A nature characteristic of slate is to slough off thin layers of itself-this is NORMAL and does not mean the tile has been damaged.  Slate also will have natural height variations that will produce a textured surface.