Welcome to Preventive Maintenance, Energy, Appliance & Weather related tips

Here you will be able to find a small check list of tips on common things that are forgotten, before calling me for a Service Call, tips in using most common appliances, energy saving & spring preventive maintenance tips which you will come to appreciate. Just another service I offer which is helpful to many.

Pre Service Call tips before Calling 404-375-7110 or email

 

Preventive Maintenance

Electrical

  • Check Breaker - Center position = Tripped - Turn Off, then back to On to reset.  If breaker flips back to Center position, do not repeat this again as it is dangerous, as you have a Direct Short and you need to call for service

  • Replace darkened/metal blown screw in plug fuses with same taken out. Do not install something different just because you don't have the correct fuse handy.

  • Reset the GFI buttons of outlets in kitchen, bath, garage or basements where these are required and often installed

  • Some GFI's control other outlets nearby such as kitchens, Others may control outside outlets as well

Lighting

  • Can lights have heat sensors for safety. ONLY USE appropriate size bulbs

  • Try replacing bulbs using 60 Watt max unless otherwise labeled

 

Fall/Spring P. M. Tips

  • For better cooling, and heating with heat pumps and cooling units only -wash/clean coils at unit outdoors yearly with coil cleaner and use outdoor hose with spray narrow nozzle cleaning out coil in reverse of air flow, if possible

  • For NO CLOG condensation pump lines, pour bleach/water mix into pump tank to clean them out yearly

  • Flush Hot Water Heater with hose yearly to clean bottom which will reduce energy usage & flush out rust which ruins your water heater. 

  • Insulate All pipes within 5 feet of any outside wall to help prevent freezing

  • In winter, turn off any outdoor faucets from inside and leave open outside to drain, or have a ball cock shutoff installed or replaced inside to drain water properly for winter

  • Clean refrigerator coils on back side or underneath at least yearly for proper operation and prevent break downs

*These tips are 'Preventative Maintenance' tips and can prolong the life of your appliance and could Save you a Service Call and big bucks with expensive repairs. It can also reduce the energy it costs you to run these High Energy appliances 

**All the above tips are based on my personal experience through many years of testing or work related jobs and professional knowledge based facts, some listed in books, user manuals, guides and TV shows with tips. Not all may work for you, and may be particular in your situation depending upon surroundings, construction, insulation, abilities and other influencing factors.


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Energy & Weather tips!

Here you can find many energy tips which can save $$ on service calls & energy bills.  Also learn how things operate and how to size them when purchasing new ones.

 For other questions, Call 404-375-7110 or email

Energy Tips

Dryers

  • Use Auto Dry on your dryer - Shuts off automatically when clothes are dry

  • Clean filter after each load to prevent overheating, fires and breakdowns


Heating and Cooling

  • Heating is easier than cooling - close shades during the day in summer
  • Leave shades Open during the day in the winter - helps heat your home
  • Use foam weather stripping under sliding windows and in cracks of doors
  • You can only cool 15-20 degrees cooler inside than the temp outside  
  • Trying to cool any lower than this, Only forces condenser to run 24/7 and costs you more than expected
  • Seal all cracks & leaks in your home/business, it could save you 30-50%

HVAC Thermostats

  • Setting your thermostat to 60 in summer does NOT cool your bldg more, it only makes your A/C run 24/7 without shutting off  after reaching a certain point

  • Know how your thermostat works - it could save you $100 + a month

  • DO NOT use the set back/program feature in winter time if you have a heat pump.  If using the setback/program feature in winter time, ONLY allow setback of 4-5 degrees

  • Setback needs to be an 8 degree decrease for at least 8 hours to save $$

  • Electric Heat on heat pumps will run if desired room temp set, requires a 2 or higher degree rise

  • One objective in your HVAC system, is to achieve the temp set and then cycle off the soonest possible

  • Turning fan switch to Auto so fan runs automatically, could save you $20+/Mo

  • When very hot or cold outside, using the fan "ON" setting for a day or so will help circulate air and make you feel more comfortable. In this position, the heating or cooling will continue to cycle On and Off automatically to maintain the temperature you have selected regardless of the fan setting.  The fan ON setting has nothing to do with cooling or heating

  • If you have a heat pump thermostat, make sure during the winter that you have the mode set to "Heat" and not "Emergency Heat" on a continuous basis.  Emergency heat setting with electric heat back-up, can cost you BIG bucks, like Hundreds! It energizes the heat strip continuously which is used for backup purposes automatically and will degrade your energy saving heat pump feature.  Some off these heat strips can cost upwards of over $1/hr.  An example of this is a heat strip of 10k=10,000 watts.  You are billed by the number of killowatts used per hour.

Dehumidifiers

  • When picking out a dehumidifier unit, choose the correct size to fit the size and humidity level of the room or area you are trying to dry.  These units go by SF (room size), just as heating and cooling units are sized to
  • DON'T turn your dehumidifier's humidistat lower than a 40% humidity level. Most dehumidifiers will Not bring down the humidity level in a room below 40%, but will cost you plenty. They are like another air conditioner running.
  • First, set humidistat Level high to check for room dryness.  When a comfortable level of dryness is felt or you have accomplished the dryness you want, Turn down until the compressor cuts Off or you feel/hear a click or notice the compressor shut off.  It will then continue to maintain that room's humidity level automatically whether by shutting off completely or at least the compressor cycling on and off.  The fan may continue running depending on the make of the unit.  Some fans cycle off with the compressor and some do not.  It is suggested that you do not turn these units to CONSTANT run permanently. It can not only freeze up depending on the unit you bought or it will cost you more than what it needs to, to accomplish adequate dryness which is 40%-50%.
  • These units are like small air conditioning units and can cost the same to run or $50/month depending on how much the compressor runs or how aware you are of it.

Refrigerators

  • Cleaning the coils in the bottom or on the back of your refrigerator will save you $$ in energy & repair costs
  • Using a thermometer, set refrigerator to maintain 38-40 degrees.  Too cold will cost you more than needed and too warm will force you to throw food out sooner
  • The knob that actually turns the refrigerator Off and On, is the main control for the whole refrigerator (usually the Refrigerator side, not the freezer side)  
  • Always leave your ice maker turned on so it keeps your ice bin full, even if you don't use the Ice.  This will help cool the refrigerator thus lowering the refrigerators cycle run time which saves you $
  • The more you have stored in your refrigerator or freezer, the longer your refrigerator will keep cold before it has to cycls back on again to maintain the set temperature in your refrigerator
  • And if you loose power, the ice will help keep the refrigerator cool until power is restored, at least within  2-5 hours

Ovens

  • Using small portable ovens instead of large range ovens will save $$
  • Using your convection cycle on your oven, you can lower your baking temp by 25 degrees which lowers running costs
  • In the winter, after using your oven - Leave the door ajar to cool - It \will help heat your home

Furnaces & Air Handlers

  • Change your air filter every 30 to 60 days depending on use in summer and depending upon whether the air return is in the ceiling or the floor.  A floor or wall bottom return will normally collect more dust and dirt than one in a ceiling.
  • If you have animals, you will notice the filter becoming clogged faster due to hair, floor dust, etc.  These need to be cleaned more frequently
  • If fan runs constantly and never shuts off, your temp is set too High/Low - winter/summer respectively.  Readjust your temperature or check to make sure that the airflow is normal.  In summer, if there is a freon problem, Yyur coils at the outside unit or the freon lines entering the furnace inside will have ice or frost on them as they are freezing up and it prevents airflow
  • Clogged filters will make your system run longer and possibly not move any air at all if they get clogged, cost more to run and eventually cost $$ to have the coils inside your furnace or air handler cleaned so air will continue to move freely and run efficiently

Window A/C Heat Units

  • Thermostats on window A/C units work just like the ones on your wall
  • When room becomes comfortable, turn thermostat down until it clicks Off.  It will then continue to maintain that room temperature automatically


ENERGY SAVING SERVICE

For great energy savings each month, winter or summer, use my low-cost Energy Saving Diagnostic Service.  Go to my "Energy Service"  for more information.                                                 

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Just Plain Tips!

Dishwashers

  • If your dishwasher has a top tier wash arm, make sure it is free to move.  This helps in rinsing down dirty water and debris.
  • If your dishwasher has a middle pop-up feature or water tier below the top rack that washes the top rack of dishes, make sure there is nothing placed higher near it as this will prevent water from reaching the top rack all the way to the left or right corners of your dishwasher
  • Using the "Pots/Pans" , "Pot Scrubber", or "Sani Wash" cycle on your dishwasher heats the water on washes and cleans dishes better
  • Use "Light Wash" for few dishes and glassware on top rack only
  • "Light Wash" requires soap in ONLY the closable cup of the two cups
  • Dishwashers having Dirt Sensing Sensors requires no rinsing to work
  • Some of these new sensored dishwashers will not operate properly if you rinse your dishes first.
  • Most new dishwashers since roughly 1998 Suggest NO RINSING in directions
  • A Maytag or "Jet Clean" cleans best with NO rinsing even with oven baked-on foods
  • If you have soft water, Use less soap to prevent etching on glassware
  • NEVER use abrasives or bleach in dishwasher to clean or otherwise.  Purchase dishwasher magic cleaner or cleaner manufactured for dishwashers to prevent ruining of rubber seals etc.

If you are having problems getting clean dishes out of your dishwasher, consider these suggestions:

  • Are you using the correct amount of detergent? Over filling or under filling depending on your water softness or hardness can have an adverse affect on the cleaning of your dishes. Use less for softer water and DO NOT OVER FILL past the lines in the detergent cups. They are marked towards the bottom side of the cups on ALL dishwashers. Line 1 at the bottom is for very soft water or highly concentrated detergents. The middle line is for medium hardness, and top line is for harder water. You have to test between middle and top line filling on cleanliness of dishes by each load washed on your new or first used dishwasher till you get it right

  • Do you load dishes with the dirty side facing the outside of your dishwasher?  Lots of people Load their dishes facing the outside of the machine and THIS IS INCORRECT and will lessen the chance of clean dishes. Most sprays come mostly from the bottom, middle and Top TOWARDS the top and sides of your dishwasher - Some expensive dishwashers have sprays from sides but their quality is not high, believe it or not

  • Do you use a cleaner once a year to remove build-ups of dirt and corosion on your heating coil and spray arms?  This is essential to getting clean dishes.  Jet Dry makes a dishwasher cleaner that should be used. It is more important than the soap!

  • Is your hot water heater set to a minimum of 130 degrees?  If it is not, or you don't use the "Pot/Pan Scrubber" cycle, "Sanitize" or "Sani wash" cycle on your dishwasher, (which has heated first Wash and heated first Rinse besides the last rinse that is usually always heated on most dishwashers and does not advance timer until 135 degree water is reached on these cycles) your dishes may not come clean.  Cooler water does not only diminish clean dishes and cost more for the heater to raise the water temp in some cycles in your DW, but may not run and clean properly unless the temperature on your water heater is raised

  • If you have to rinse or wash your dishes BEFORE YOU WASH THEM, you then need to replace your washer with a better one, or read up on your operating and loading instructions. You should not have to rinse your dishes. It is Not Only a waste of time, energy, product, and utilities - but why have a dishwasher if you have to wash your dishes before it washes them for you? Some instructions Specifically tell you NOT to do this. It will not clean your dishes properly because of the cleaning time. I find most people won't read their instructions because "They have had one before". Unfortunately now, this is Not True, as new advancements in electronic technology have new outcomes, and they work differently than you have been accustom to in the past. Just like the commercial on the TV, you should be able to load your dishwasher from the table or the oven right to the dishwasher with a cake on the plate.  It WILL dissolve in the hot water. They are designed and have at least 2 washes and 4 rinses to accomplish this. Don't worry about the dirty water. That is the reason for detergent, rinses and "rinse aid". Using a better detergent that is highly concentrated through Amway is another option(this detergent, you only use 1 tablespoon for each wash, or in each detergent cup).

Again, Don't let the price of a dishwasher or any appliance fool you on quality.  I find and it may be a fact that the more expensive machines such as Bosch, Thermadore or Gagenau do not clean dishes worth a flip.  They may look nice, be expensive, and quiet(except Gagenau), but they do not clean dishes well.  Check out Consumers Guide to buying, in order to find out which one for the previous year was the best before spending allot or more $ than necessary to get a "quality washing" machine.  You don't want a machine you have to pre wash or rinse dishes before hand, now do you?

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Garbage Disposals

  • A disposal works fine if you use it properly
  • Did you know that you don't need a garbage disposal for coffee grounds?
  • Garbage Disposals grind anything from banana peelings to chicken bones, but shy away from egg shells-they crystallize in your pipes
  • See directions for what these can grind - You will be amazed!
  • Run water 15-20 seconds after turning off to wash foods farthest away towards the street 

Most 1/2 - 3/4 horse machines will do fine for the average homeowner

Ovens

  • Use the Cleaning Cycle of your oven yearly in the winter.  It makes the oven safer to use later, and helps to heat your home while running the cycle.
  • Buying a new oven?  Consider one with an electric flat top - Easiest to Clean!
  • When buying an oven, an electric oven has more options and getting one with Self Cleaning or even the Clean Cycle will help you out allot and save time cleaning by hand. 

If this is for a rental property, it is a must unless you like spending an hour scrubbing at the end of each lease or possibly all afternoon

HVAC Thermostats

  • Thermostats are ONLY an automatic On & Off switch
  • When your set room temp has been reached, the system shuts Off
  • When the room temp changes approximately 1/2 degree, the system starts back up

Small Appliance Thermostats are just an Automatic ON and Off switch

  • When the appliance heats, once that appliance or what is in it reaches the degree you set it to, it will shut off till temperature starts to change and then it will turn back on to heat up to maintain that temp you set it to. 
  • Sometimes also there will be a pilot light that glows when the temperature reaches the desired temp you have set it at, or the light goes out when the temperature you have set reaches that set temperature.

Refrigerators

  • Setting your refrigerator to 38-40 degrees will increase food life, especially Dairy products
  • Lower temperatures decrease the chance of growing mold & bacteria
  • Lower temperatures slow the curdling and rotting process and time to about half
  • Dairy and other foods can keep 1-2 weeks past the "Sell By Date" if 40 degrees is maintained
  • Vegetables and other things may tend to freeze at the bottom of the drawers if turned colder than 40 degrees.
  • Did you know that the date on meats/dairy/food are "Sell By Dates"?  Sell by dates are the date the grocers can only guarantee freshness.  It doesn't mean that the product is no good the day after.  That would be impossible for anyone to know, of coarse.  Allot depends on ambient room temperature and surrounding humidity levels, etc.

Condenser and Heat Pumps (A/C and Heat)

  • If Your A/C condenser runs continuously, it shortens its life and costs a lot
  • With Heat Pumps, you have an Emergency Electric Heat Strip backup (if this is the backup of your choice installed).  These heat strips Cost $1 + per hour until temp is reached within 2 degrees of your desired thermostat setting for your room and then turns off
  • Heat Strips will also mainly kick in when set temp inside is hard to reach within 2 degrees
  • Heat Strips will be more prevalent when temps outside don't rise above 45
  • Heat Pumps don't do well below 45 degrees.  That is why there is a backup heat unit for ALL Heat Pumps

Related Vocabulary of common terms & meanings in HVAC

 Air Handler
The portion of your heating and cooling system that forces air through your home's ductwork.

BTU
British Thermal Units. The amount of heat it takes to raise one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit. The higher the BTU rating, the larger the heating capacity of the furnace or air conditioner.  Heating is usually expressed in BTU'S, cooling is expressed in tons.

Compressor
The motor/pump that drives the air conditioning unit. It is responsible for pumping refrigerant throughout the system.

Condenser Coil
Part of the outdoor portion of a heating or cooling system, that releases or collects heat from the outside air.

Evaporator Coil
Part of the heating or cooling system located indoors, that cools and dehumidifies the air by converting liquid refrigerant into gas. Also referred to as an indoor coil.

Heat Exchanger
The major part of the furnace that transfers heat into your home.

Heat Pump
A unit that handles both heating and cooling. In some climates, a heat pump may handle your heating and cooling needs more efficiently than a furnace and air conditioner. 

Indoor Coil
Indoor coils are the indoor section required in a split system application. Together the outdoor section and indoor section combine to meet efficiency ratings.  Homeowners should replace this if replacing the outdoor section, otherwise they could damage their new equipment, get poor efficiency, and void the system warranty. Typically, you will find the coil on top of the furnace, but not always.  Also reffered to as Evaporator Coil.

Refrigerant
A chemical that cools air as it evaporates.

SEER
Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating. SEER measures a unit's cooling efficiency. The higher the number, the greater the efficiency but can cost more in repair as these devices like the fans that are variable speed outside and inside your furnace wear out.  But in the long run according to consumers, they see their savings after 5-7 years depending on how much you initially spent, how cool or warm you keep your home-The cooler you keep it in the summer, the faster you will see the savings later after recovery cost of the units. 

Thermostat
A device that monitors and controls your temperature inside your home.

Zoning
Zoning allows you to control the heating and cooling delivered to specific areas of your house for a custom solution.  Zoning can increase efficiency and comfort in the areas of the house you use most often.   Each area/room or zone will have its own thermostat.

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Hot Water Heaters

  • Insulate hot water pipes especially from water heater to dishwasher
  • If your hot water heater is in a cold place, purchase a water heater blanket
  • Putting the hot water tank in the attic will also save energy.  Why?  What is the warmest place in your house?
  • Although water heaters are insulated well, blankets will help save energy in colder areas placed
  • If you have to replace your water heater, you may consider electric in the future depending on cost of electric verses gas in your area.  Also, tankless water heaters are more efficient and will save you about 60% of hot water heating using a tanked water heater
  • Electricity may be cheaper now/in the future to use, than gas.  Although there are other factors of using electric.  It present's factors to our ECO system because of the waste process that gets in our ground water tables as the by-product of producing electricity to us with coal produces.

One drawback to an electric water heater is, the recovery time will be longer, but easier to install in odd places without the need for a flu pipe through the roof!

Outside Faucets

  • If the hose leaks where it attaches to faucet or hand sprayer etc, replace washer in these female ends

  • Some hose faucet bibs need tightening to stop leaks

Water Heaters and Plumbing

  • Make sure all pipes in crawl spaces are insulated properly
  • Insulate All pipes within 3 feet of any outside wall to help prevent freezing
  • Have your pressure valve checked to make sure it doesn't exceed 75 psi as water surges that exceed 75 psi can lead to leaky appliances
  • Water surges/high pressure can lead to explosion of your hot water tank
  • Have a blue expansion tank installed to your hot water tank - required now to protect your water system and the appliances hooked up to them
  • Expansion Tanks take up the water surges that can create these problems

Appliances that have Water Valves that may be affected

  • Dishwashers, washing machines, some new dryers as of 2009, ice makers, water heaters & furnace humidifiers
  • Toilet valves, pond valves, faucets (inside and out)

Electrical

  • Use 60 watt bulbs ONLY unless otherwise labeled, or the base is porcelain
  • Only unplug cords by using the plug at the end.  DON'T pull on the cord-It may rip out of the plug, short circuit/or burn your hand which is called "flash" burn
  • Replace frayed cords or replace the appliance - They lead to shorts & fires
  • Don't leave lights that hug the ceiling on for extended periods of time as they get very hot and may cause a fire

In General

  • DO NOT turn anything on all the way, or max out any control as this will Only later be asking for problems and service calls, or wear out your appliance sooner!
  • ONLY medications, yeast and picture film have expiration dates.  After these dates, the products quality and effectiveness will be greatly diminished and would be a waste of time using and the money you spent on it. Sell By Dates on food are for quality freshness only mainly for stores.  These products can be fine for 10 days past their dates if your refrigerator is kept at 40 degrees or lower to 35.

  • Set warming trays to keep food 135 degrees minimum.  These all help to keep bacteria from growing


Weather Related Issues

Problems associated with our possible Global Warming changes, will become more prevalent unlike what we may be accustom to.

Below are a list of things that should be done for colder weather and what to do in case of new problems that arise related to Plumbing & Electrical.  Some helpful info.  Some will prevent Service Calls and some will require additional work/maintenance.

  • Insulate as many pipes possible under your house or places where there is no air circulation and no chance of any heat, using proper insulation and using the correct method of insulating.  Those are the pipes that freeze first.*

  • Use electric heat cable for problematic freezing pipes and the same ones U have had to have fixed in the past.  The sensor should be in the coldest area of those pipes, against the pipe.*

  • Buy outdoor styrafoam spigot covers and install, which will help to keep faucets from freezing in Winter.

  • Drain all hoses or other apparatus and machines that have water in them in October or November before first hard freeze if left in unheated and unprotected areas less than 40 degrees.

  • Insulate underneath your floors if you can get to them with proper 6" thick floor joists insulation, not wall insulation.  There are insulation rods you should buy that go in-between floor joists or wall studs to hold insulation in place.  If not used, insulation will fall to the ground in a matter of time and does no good without it.  The object of this, is that there should be no air space be-tween insulation and your inner floors/walls.*

  • Use weather stripping around all doors properly to keep outside air out and inside air in.*

  • Use window insulation to ensure no air space underneath old windows when they are closed.  The object to the door and window insulating is to not be able to see daylight around the cracks of your doors from the inside looking out.


* There are right ways and wrong ways to do everything.  Make sure if insulation has a paper backing that this backing goes towards the area you are trying to insulate and not towards the elements

*All the above tips are based on personal experience through many years of testing or work related jobs and professional knowledge based facts listed in books, user manuals, guides and TV shows with tips. Not all may work for you, and may be particular in your situation depending upon surroundings, construction, insulation, building materials used, abilities and other influencing factors.


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