One of the most important reasons to have your heating system maintained regularly is to protect against the threat of carbon monoxide in your home. A key part of a heating maintenance visit is to inspect your heat exchanger for cracks or holes. If these problems are not detected and corrected while still minor, they can become a major safety issue.
There are many different ways that carbon monoxide can be found in your house. This includes:
Auto exhaust fumes from attached garage
Blocked chimney opening
Corroded or disconnected water heater vent pipe
Cracked heat exchanger Gas or woodburning fireplace
Leaking chimney pipe or flue
Operating barbecue grill in enclosed area such as the garage
Propane powered refrigerator
If you suspect that any of these sources might be in your home, please make sure to contact us today.
Summer is over and autumn is quickly approaching, but is your home ready for the cooler temperatures? At our Oliver, we’ve put together nine ways to get your home ready for the fall (including calling our experts!):
Check for Drafts
Check your windows and doors for drafts so that your home doesn’t take on cold air when you don’t want it to. You can check them by lighting a candle and holding it near the area. If it flickers, there’s a draft. You’ll want to replace the weather stripping and/or caulking to get a nice, strong seal before the cold sets in.
Prep Your Washer & Dryer
All of those loads of summer laundry mean your washing machine and dryer have gotten a lot of use. Be sure to check your washing machine hose – one that’s too worn can burst and spill gallons of water very quickly. Also make sure that lint hasn’t built up in your dryer – too much lint can catch fire from the dryer’s heat.
Replace Your HVAC Filter
Summer comes with a lot of dirt, dust, pollen, grass, and other airborne contaminants. Start fall with a fresh, clean HVAC filter and you’ll be breathing easy as the temperatures get cooler.
Seal Your Walkway/Patio
If you have a paver walkway or a paver patio, take some time to seal it before the ice, snow, and cold temperatures hit. You’ll protect it all winter long and will love the way it looks come springtime.
Schedule a Furnace Check-Up
Make an appointment with one of our heating service experts to do a thorough check of your heater. We’ll make sure it’s working properly and ready to use once the temperature drops so you don’t experience any unwanted and inconvenient problems.
Fertilize Your Lawn
Grass roots will continue to grow until the ground temperature gets down to 40 degrees, so feed your grass a fresh helping of fertilizer to keep it growing strong through the fall and ready for winter.
Install Outdoor Lights
As it gets cooler, the days get shorter and there are fewer hours of sunlight, so why not install a few outdoor lights on your garage or ones that lead to your front door? You’ll light the way not only for yourself, but for your guests, too.
Test Your Detectors
Put fresh batteries in your smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector and test them to make sure that they are working properly. This is a good thing to do every few months.
Insulate Your Pipes
When colder temperatures hit, your plumbing pipes could freeze and burst, causing big plumbing problems. Our plumbing experts can make sure your pipes are prepared for the fall and winter – just give us a call.
Nothing feels better than the safety of your own home, but there are actually a wide array of hazards that could compromise your well-being. While you may think of children when it comes to safety hazards, individuals of any age can be affected. To keep you and your family safe, remember these risks and take actions to prevent them:
Believe it or not, there are fire hazards all over your home, and many of them are electrical. Our electrical repair specialists advise against overloading your electrical outlets. In fact, you should unplug any small appliances that are not in use. In addition, check all of your appliances on a regular basis for frayed or damaged cords that can lead to an electrical fire.
As far as other fire hazards, make sure you regularly clean out the lint in your dryer vent. Lint buildup can easily spark a fire. Also, always blow out candles when you’re not in the room, and never light them close to flammable materials.
Every year, around 200 people die from carbon monoxide poisoning. This gas is both colorless and odorless (hence the nickname “the silent killer”), and is often produced when fuel-burning appliances malfunction. These include fireplaces, portable generators, stoves, clothing dryers, and more. To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, install detectors near bedrooms and in other places they can be easily heard if triggered. Also, never block the exhaust system of a fuel-burning appliance or try to repair one on your own. Instead, call a professional.
Make sure any sharp objects in your home are safely out of the reach of children and are properly protected. These include common kitchen items like knives, cheese graters, scissors, blender or food processor blades, skewers, corkscrews, and peelers. It also includes things in your garage or shed, such as rakes, shears, nails and screws, and saw blades.
Toxic substances can be harmful to not only children, but pets as well. Safely store things like paint, paint thinner, bleach, detergents, cleaners, pesticides, furniture polish, air fresheners, and other dangerous items in a locked cabinet or on a high shelf. Also be sure to keep them out of range of heat and flames.
The number one reason a stove is dangerous is because it can potentially burn your family members, but in addition, an improperly installed stove can cause even bigger problems. If the stove wasn’t installed on a level surface, it has the potential to tip over and crush fingers or toes, and if a gas stove isn’t hooked up properly, it could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.
There are several different things outside that could lead to an injury. Staircases are a major culprit for falls, so make sure your stairs aren’t cracked, uneven, or missing pieces. Also make sure they’re well lit at nighttime and have a banister for balance.
While fun, swing sets can also pose a threat. Look for rusted pieces, splintered wood, and sharp objects. Also, if the swing set is old, consider reinforcing it to prevent parts of it collapsing.
In addition, if you have a pool, make sure there is a secure fence around it to prevent children from falling in and that any ladders that aren’t in use are removed.
Even though it’s one of the smallest places in your home, your bathroom can be more dangerous than you may think. Bathtubs and showers can be very slippery when wet, and can therefore be a threat to family members of any age. Install grab bars for balance and anti-slip floor mats for grip. Your medicine cabinet should also be locked to prevent children and other members from accessing potentially dangerous medication. Things like nail polish, nail polish remover, hairspray, hair dyes, and mouthwash should also be out of reach.
When you own a home, there are some things that you should know to make your life (and your family’s lives) safer and easier. Our heating and cooling service experts have come up with 12 things that we believe every homeowner should know:
1. How to replace an HVAC filter
Your HVAC filter should be changed every two months, on average, and it’s a fairly simple task to do. Each HVAC unit is different, so consult your manual to find out which filter you need and the steps you need to take to replace it.
2. Where to store flammables
While it may seem like a no-brainer, many homeowners store flammable materials in a basement or utility room that has a furnace, boiler, water heater. This is not a good idea and could cause a serious fire.
3. How to unclog a toilet
All you really need is a good plunger and a pair of rubber gloves. Make sure there’s some water in the toilet bowl (but not too much or it’ll come splashing up) and put some elbow grease into your plunging. If you flush and the toilet is in danger of overflowing, shut off the water supply valve.
4. How to start a garden
Starting a garden may seem intimidating, but it’s not as difficult as you may think. Simply choose a good, level spot that gets a lot of sun. Then, test your soil to see what nutrients it may need. After that, talk to your local nursery about which types of plants are best.
5. Where a wall stud is
When you go to hang something on your wall, you’ll want to place your nail or screw into a wall stud (instead of your drywall). This way, you can hang heavier items and won’t have to worry about damaging the wall. You can find a wall stud by knocking and listening – a stud will sound solid instead of hollow. Or, invest in an inexpensive stud finder.
6. How to paint a wall
While it may seem simple, painting a wall requires some prep work and technique. Patch any existing holes or gaps, then make sure you sand the surface well. After that, prime the surface, sand again, and cover any wall hardware with tape. Then paint using smooth, even strokes.
7. Which drain cleaner to use
Many popular drain cleaners that are available are also corrosive, which can cause damage to your plumbing and can also injure anyone trying to make a repair. Choose a drain cleaner with natural, non-toxic ingredients. (For more information, read our blog on Reasons to Avoid Chemical Drain Cleaners.)
8. When to use heat/AC
Use your heat or air conditioning while you’re home, but when you leave and there’s no one in the house, you should turn it down. You’ll not only save energy, you’ll save money. You can also save money by keeping your thermostat two or three degrees above or below your normal temperature (depending on the season).
9. How to clean grout
Yes, the grout between your tiles gets dirty too. Take some time to scrub it clean with warm water, soap, and a hard-bristled brush. You can also make a paste with baking soda and water to clean it even deeper.
10. How to wallpaper
Like painting, wallpapering requires some prep work and some patience. If you’re wallpapering over a dark paint color, prime it so that the paint doesn’t show through. Then, layer your pieces of wallpaper side-by-side so that the pattern lines up and overlap them a little (around two inches).
11. Where to install CO detectors
Many homeowners install their carbon monoxide detectors near appliances that emit carbon dioxide. However, the biggest risk of carbon monoxide poisoning occurs when people are sleeping, so install your detectors near bedrooms instead.
12. How to shut off the water
While individual fixtures usually have their own water supply valves, turning off the valves won’t turn off the main source of water. The main water shut-off valve is usually next to the water meter. Remove the meter cover, then turn the valve 90 degrees with a cutoff key or adjustable wrench.
When it comes to heating your home this winter, there are three main “fuels” used to do so – oil, natural gas, and electricity. If you’re in the market for a new home, you may be wondering what the differences are between the three. Here’s some insight from our heating repair experts:
If you’re hoping to close on a house before winter sets in, you’re probably wondering how much money you’re going to spend to keep your home warm. Different factors affect the cost of each fuel:
When it comes to natural gas, prices usually depend on supply and demand. Natural gas production, imports, and storage levels affect its price from the supply side and economic conditions, weather, and petroleum prices affect its price from the demand side. So if there’s an increase in supply, prices will go down, but if there’s an increase in demand, prices will go up.
Electricity costs depend on a few factors as well. One is the price of the fuel used to generate it (on your electric bill, you’ll find a “fuel surcharge”). Each month, the price of the fuel can change, and each change will affect the price of your electricity. You’ll also pay to keep the transmission lines running on a regular basis (which means in bad weather, electricity prices could go up due to downed lines).
Oil prices can vary as well and often depend on the cost of crude oil. Like natural gas, crude oil prices can change because of supply and/or demand, economic conditions, and weather. Where you live can also affect the cost of your oil. If you’re in an area that’s far from an oil supplier, you could see higher costs.
If carbon monoxide is a major concern for you, it may sway your decision on heating fuel. Both oil and gas use combustion to produce energy, which releases carbon monoxide. If not protected against properly, large amounts of carbon monoxide can poison those in the house. Carbon monoxide is odorless, tasteless, and can cause symptoms that are easily confused with the flu. To protect your family from this potentially deadly substance, our heating repair experts recommend a low-level CO monitor, which can be easily installed during a maintenance visit.
Electricity, on the other hand, uses wires to produce energy, so there’s no carbon monoxide released.
When it comes to energy efficiency, the type of heating fuel you use plays a part, but the actual furnace can play an even bigger part. If you’re using a furnace that’s either old or not working properly, you won’t experience efficient heating nearly as much as you would with a highly efficient furnace from Oliver.
Maintenance is another important part of heater efficiency. By having a heating repair specialist inspect your heater on a regular basis, you can make sure your heater is in its best shape.
It feels a little strange to be writing a post about Carbon Monoxide (CO) prevention on a 60 degree day in December. Actually, it feels a little strange to be using the phrase “60 degree day in December” at all! But, the reality is, the cold weather is just around the corner, and CO safety is something that we should all take very seriously.
In part one, we reviewed the symptoms of CO poisoning and shared some reminders about home safety during a power outage. Today, we’ll take a look at some of the things to be aware of throughout the winter, and ways that you can help prevent a CO problem from affecting your home.
The very first prevention recommendation given by the Center for Disease Control is to keep up with your heater maintenance. Notice that they specify to have your system maintained by a qualified technician. “Qualified” is an important word here. Make sure that anyone working on your system has proper training and is knowledgeable about both the technical and safety aspects of a maintenance visit.
Your next line of defense is a CO monitor. We recommend a model that detects carbon monoxide at low levels and can provide an early warning against this deadly substance. Our customer service representatives or technicians will be happy to help answer any questions you may have about CO monitors.
Under no circumstances should you try to heat your home with a gas stove. If you have a fireplace or wood stove as supplemental heat source, do not start burning until the equipment is properly vented. Again, a qualified professional should clean and inspect your chimney to be sure there are no blockages that could cause CO to build up in your home.
Carbon monoxide poisoning should be taken very seriously, and these basic precautions should be taken every year to keep your home and family safe. If you need help with a CO monitor, or to schedule your annual maintenance visit, please give us a call at 484-477-0461.
The Oliver Safety Committee recently sponsored a “Near Miss” safety contest for all employees to share stories about disaster averted on and off the job. And although it’s kind of embarrassing to say – I won. Here’s the story:
“I was visiting my mom and dad awhile back, and my mom and I were sitting at the table having a cup of tea when I see my dad walk by with his gas-powered leaf blower. Not seen through the window, mind you, but through the living room. He heads down in the basement and shuts the door. I glance outside and see the Bilco doors to the basement are also closed. So I jumped up and yelled down to find out what the heck he thought he was doing?!
He said he was going to clean out the central vac line and had shut all the doors and windows “so the noise wouldn’t disturb us upstairs”. I pointed out that him dropping dead of carbon monoxide poisoning would probably disturb us a little bit more than the noise! We couldn’t talk him out of the leaf blower experiment (which, unfortunately for the future, worked) but I at least managed to run around and open up EVERY door and window before he killed himself. The best part? He remembered to wear his safety goggles.”
When I told my dad I won with this story, he was very anxious to know whether I told everyone that the experiment worked. (See Dad? I did!) Luckily, I think my mom and my little brother got the bigger point: OUTDOOR EQUIPMENT BELONGS OUTDOORS! Anything that burns fuel also produces carbon monoxide. And yes, that includes candles.
So when you’ve got the air running and the windows closed, be mindful of what else is in your home. Burn a candle, sure. Just don’t plan any fancy “flood the house with candlelight” situations. Other summer culprits of CO: camping equipment and generators. Do not use camping stoves indoors. Period. And if your power is out and you need to use a generator, do not put it in your garage or basement or any other enclosed area.
People are more aware of carbon monoxide in the winter, but it’s good to keep in mind that this is not a winter problem. Be safe, and keep the outdoor equipment where it belongs!