Category : DIY

3 Water Heater Maintenance Tips

Your water heater is one of the most important parts of your home – it’s used for everything from showering to doing laundry to washing dishes and more, which is why it’s important to maintain it. Learning how to do simple maintenance on your water heater can extend its lifespan and keep it running smoothly all year long. Here, our water heater experts share some tips:

Checking the Pressure Valve

Whether you have an electric water heater or a gas-powered water heater, you’ll find a safety devices called a temperature and pressure relief valve. It’s important to make sure this valve is operating correctly because if it’s not, it can mean an explosion.

First, turn off the power to the water heater and shut off the cold-water inlet. Next position a bucket of water underneath the valve and pull up the lever. (You should hear a rush of air and see some water vapor.) If water continues to flow out of the valve, drain the tank partway, unscrew the old valve, and replace it with a new one.

Replacing the Anode Rod

A water heater’s anode rod protects the exposed steel of the water heater when the tank is filled through a method called electrolysis. Because the rod protects from rust, it can become coated with calcium carbonate and should be replaced.

Start by connecting a garden hose to the tank’s drain valve and open the pressure relief valve and the drain valve. Let a few gallons of water drain out and close the drain valve. Next, look for the hex head of your anode rod on top of the heater or under the top plate. Once you locate it, fit a 1 1/16-inch socket onto the head and unscrew the rod. Examine it – if it’s less than 1/2 inch thick or covered in calcium carbonate, buy a new one, wrap its threads with Teflon tape, and replace the rod.

Flushing the Tank

As your water heater gets older, sediment will begin to settle in the tank and not only reduce the heater’s efficiency, but clog the lines. This is why you should flush your tank on a regular basis.

First, start by turning off the power to your water heater and shut off the cold-water inlet. Connect a garden hose to the tank’s drain valve and make sure the other end of the hose is in an area that won’t be negatively affected by hot water. Open the pressure relief valve, then open the drain valve. Let the tank drain completely and close the relief valve and drain valve. Turn the cold-water inlet back on and open up all hot water spigots in your home to refill.

If you’re uncomfortable working on your water heater, don’t hesitate to call our water heater experts! We can have your heater maintenanced in no time!


The Best St. Patrick’s Day Events in Philly

St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner and between now and then, there are plenty of fun and festive things to do. In this blog, our heating and cooling experts share the top St. Patrick’s Day events going on in Philadelphia this year:

Parade

Sunday, March 12th, 12:00 p.m.

Philly’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade has been going on since 1771 and draws thousands of people. This year, the parade will march down Broad Street to City Hall and from City Hall to Penn’s Landing via Market Street. Visitors will enjoy a wide array of music, dancing, youth groups, Irish associations, and more. The parade will be held March 12th, rain or shine and an encore will be held Friday, March 17th at 12:00 p.m.

Bar Crawls

Old City

Friday, March 17th, 12:00 p.m.

Crawl through more than 10 bars in Old City including Infusion Lounge, Sto’s Bar, The Gaslight, and more. Tickets are $8-$40 and include free cover charges, free t-shirt (for the first 200 through the door), and green accessories (beads, hats, glasses, etc.)

Shamrock Stroll

Saturday, March 11th, 12:00 p.m.
Sunday, March 12th, 12:00 p.m.
Friday, March 17th, 3:00 p.m.

Each year, pubcrawls.com puts together a St. Patrick’s Day pub crawl through multiple Philadelphia bars. Tickets are $10 and one ticket grants you access to the bars for all three days. You’ll enjoy free cover charges and a variety of drink specials.

Erin Express

Saturday, March 11th, 9 a.m.

This legendary pub crawl (it’s been going on more than 30 years!) is free to all and features a festive school bus that carts celebrators to bars like Smokey Joe’s, Slainte Pub, The Green Room, Liberty Bar, and more. You’ll be able to hop off, grab a drink, and hop back on.

Card Making

Sunday, March 12th, 4:00 p.m.

Looking for something different to do? Head down to Rittenhouse Town and learn the fundamentals of paper making while creating holiday cards for St. Patrick’s Day. Tickets are $12-$20 and include beer and snacks.

The Leprechaun Run

Saturday, March 11th, 7:30 a.m.

The 31st annual Leprechaun Run supports the Special Olympics Philadelphia Athletes (SOPA). Participants can do a 7-mile race, a 5-mile run, a 2-mile walk and all of the proceeds go to SOPA (their goal is to raise $40,000). The event starts and ends at Martin Luther King Drive by Paine’s Park. To register, click here.


14 Ways to Repurpose Broken Household Items

Every year, homeowners throw away thousands of household items that have broken, chipped, frayed, or have otherwise become useless. With a little creativity and some effort, however, these items can be anything but. Our HVAC installation company shares some favorite ideas for repurposing common household items:

Picture Frame Earring Holder

If you break the glass in a picture frame, use the frame to create an earring holder. Cover the cardboard insert with paper or fabric, then cut a piece of chicken wire to fit the frame opening and fasten to the frame back. You’ll have a perfect place to hang your earrings.

Wicker Basket Recycler

Have an old wicker basket that’s broken or fraying? Depending on the size, place one or two small trash can inside and turn it into a recycling center. You can even fashion a lid from an old piece of wood. Just drill a few holes, string some yarn through, and attach.

Bottle Cap Tea Lights

Though bottle caps technically aren’t broken, they do end up in the trash – repurpose them by creating tea lights instead. Place a wick in the middle of each bottle cap, then fill with melted wax (from an old candle or even old crayons!). Trim the wicks and light.

Terracotta Garden Markers

If you have several terracotta pots that are cracked or broken, use a piece of lid as a garden marker. Simply write your plant or herb on the pot and place the curved shapes in front of your crop so you know where everything is.

Mosaic Plate Planters

Accidentally break a plate? Take a hammer to it and break it further (into half-inch pieces). Glue each piece onto a terracotta pot and let dry. Spread grout around the pieces and wipe with a damp towel to level. Once dry, you’ll have a decorative planter.

Stemware Flower Accents

Nothing is worse than breaking the stem of a beautiful wine glass or martini glass. Instead of tossing the glass, sink it into the dirt of a potted flower plant and add a votive candle. Then light it for a cozy accent.

Door Coat Rack

Old doors of all kinds can easily be transformed into a beautiful coat rack for your entryway. Simply repaint or re-stain the door and attach large hooks to a smooth area. For uniformity, replace the doorknob with one that complements the hooks.

Chair Swing

If you have a chair with legs that are in bad shape, remove them altogether and drill four holes in the chair seat (two in the front, two in the back). String some heavy-duty rope through the holes and attach hardware to a tree or porch ceiling and hang your new swing.

Mini Blinds Picture Frame

Don’t throw away your blinds just because one or two are broken. Instead, detach them from their cords and stack them in a rectangular shape to create a unique picture frame. You can get creative by cutting them into different sizes and layering them large to small as you go.

Teacup Curtain Tiebacks

If you have teacups with chips or cracks on the cup portion, you can turn them into adorable curtain tiebacks. Simply drill a large hole through the bottom of the cup, slip your curtain through, and hang the teacup on a wall hook.

Ladder Bookshelf

If you have an old wooden ladder that can’t be used anymore, sand it down and refinish it with paint or stain. Then, lean it up against your wall and use it as a rustic shelving unit!

Tin Can Hairbrush Holders

Instead of recycling your used tin cans, remove both ends and paint them or cover them with Washi tape. Then attach them to your bathroom wall or cabinet and use them to hold your hairbrushes.

Bucket Serving Containers

Buckets with holes may seem useless, but you can easily repurpose them into silverware, condiment, or napkin containers for your outdoor parties. Give them a new paint job and line with a decorative piece of fabric – then fill with your goodies!

Rake Utensil Holder

An old metal rake makes a great kitchen utensil holder while adding a rustic accent to your decor. Simply remove the rake handle, attach the toothed portion to the wall (teeth facing out), and hang your spoons, spatulas, whisks, and more.

*Photos courtesy of diyncrafts.com


Start Your Christmas Decorating Early with These 8 Ideas

Thanksgiving is over and Christmas will be here before we know it! Get into the holiday spirit early by decking your halls with garland, candles, lights, bows, and more. Here are some decorating ideas from our heating and cooling company:

Break Out the Garland

xmas-mantel

The great thing about Evergreen garland is you can you use it nearly anywhere in your home to add some holiday cheer. Wrap it around your staircase banister, around your hanging light fixtures, across your fireplace mantel, above your mirrors, and more. You can even add lights, bows, or small ornaments to it for more flair.

Go Plaid

plaid

For a rustic, homey touch, choose plaid as a decoration theme this year. Wrap your presents in various plaid-colored wrapping paper, choose plaid ribbon to accent your Christmas tree, create plaid pillow covers for your couch and chair pillows, and even create your own plaid votive candle holders. You’ll give your entire home a cozy feeling.

Up the Front Door Appeal

porch

Why not impress your family, friends, and passing neighbors by giving your front door a holiday makeover? String garland around your front door, columns, and/or banisters, hang ornaments from the ceiling, add a colorful wreath, or get creative with oversized Christmas bows. You can even keep it simple by displaying festive poinsettias on either side of your door or on your porch stairs.

Create a Stunning Centerpiece

centerpiece

Why not make your table centerpiece the focal point of your decor this year? Start with large glass cylinders of different sizes and fill them with festive ornaments, pinecones, berries, and even red roses. Then, group them together on your table and lay pieces of garland around and in-between them. Finish the centerpiece off with some gold or silver votive candles.

Add Some Faux Gifts

gifts

Nothing says Christmas like some neatly wrapped gifts, so why not create a few of your own to use as decoration? Take a few old boxes of various sizes and wrap them neatly with wrapping paper colors that complement each other. Finish them off with some pretty ribbon or a bow and stack them neatly on your end table, coffee table, or mantel.

Include Your Mailbox

mailbox

If you have a mailbox at the end of your driveway, why not turn it into a decorative piece for all to see? Tie a big red bow to the base or wrap garland around it. Or, you can cover the actual box with wrapping paper and turn it into a present. If you have a mailbox built into a brick or stone column, try adding some decoration to the top of the column.

Ribbonize Your Tree

tree

Everyone puts ornaments on their tree, but not many drape ribbons down it. For a unique look, grab a large embroidery hoop and tie just one end of long ribbon pieces to it (you can use scraps you have or search the remnants section of your local fabric store). Then, slip the hoop over the tree so that you have cascades of ribbon falling down it.

Put Some Glow in Your Windows

windows

Small touches can really make your home a cozy one for the holidays. If going all out with the decorations isn’t your thing, keep it simple by placing an electric candle in each of your windows. Then, put them all on a timer so that they turn on as soon as the sun goes down for a warm glow.

*Photos courtesy of:
lisahiggason.com
majhofftakesawife.com
homebnc.com
hometalk.com
hgtv.com
natyoreiro.com
timewiththea.com
a57.foxnews.com


6 Easy Ways to Add Halloween Spirit to Your Home

painted-pumpkins

Halloween is fast approaching and if you haven’t decorated your home yet, there’s still time! Here are six easy ideas from our HVAC and plumbing company that can add some spirit to both the interior and exterior of your home:

Porch Pumpkins

What better way to say “Happy Halloween” than with some pumpkins? Pumpkins come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, so get creative and stock up. Try clustering or stacking several pumpkins together on either side of your front door or along your steps. Or break out the paints and paint some fun patterns or designs on them. You can even go traditional and carve some scary faces or a fun message.

Hanging Crows or Bats

Another easy way to add some spooky fun to your home is to hang black crows or bats around your rooms. You can usually find plastic crows and bats at your local party store, so all you’ll need is some black yarn or string and some tape or tacks. Wherever you hang them, hang them at different heights to give them a realistic quality (but don’t hang them so low that guests bump their heads on them).

A Festive Wreath

Wreaths aren’t just for Christmas and with that said, there are tons of fun, festive Halloween wreaths you can either buy or make. Hang a playful candy corn wreath above your mantel and an orange felt flower wreath on your front door. Or up the creepiness factor with a wreath made from “eyeballs” or one of these other spooky Halloween wreaths.

Spider Webs

One of the easiest ways to add some Halloween spirit to nearly anywhere in your home is with spider webs. Head to your local party store and grab some stretchable spider webs that you can string along your banister, in the corners of your doorways, around your fireplace, along the ceiling of your porch, and more. It’s easy to get creative!

Colored Lights

Colored lights are a great way to add some Halloween ambiance both inside and outside your home. Swap out your regular porch lights for yellow, orange, or even purple lights to make your home look a little haunted. Or if you have exterior spotlights, illuminate your whole house in Halloween colors. Inside, try lining your mantel with strands of colorful lights or placing some colored candles in your windows. If you have a chandelier, you can even swap out the bulbs to give the room an old mansion-y glow.

Banners

While you can hang a festive banner from nearly anywhere, one of our favorite places is across the mantel. Craft a paper “trick-or-treat” banner or use some black and orange glittery felt to make geometric banner. You could even find a simple strand of craft leaves or tie some shiny ribbon tassels to a string for a pop of color.

*Photo courtesy of tuvaluhome.wordpress.com


How to Avoid Common Plumbing Mistakes

plumbing mistakes

At Oliver, we know the world of plumbing is a complicated one, and there are many homeowners who decide to take on plumbing projects themselves. If you’re going to attempt a DIY venture, don’t make some of the most common plumbing mistakes:

Uneven Fixtures

If you decide to take on a larger installation like a toilet or a sink by yourself, one of the most crucial parts is leveling. While it seems like a common step, many people forget about leveling and end up with a fixture that doesn’t look or function properly. Invest in a level and don’t let an uneven installation cause you problems down the road.

Too Much Drain Cleaner

When homeowners experience a clogged drain, the first thing many turn to is a drain cleaner. However, drain cleaners contain harsh ingredients that can actually do more harm for your pipes than help; too much can eat away at both metal and PVC pipes. Here are a few more reasons why you should avoid chemical cleaners.

Wrong Tee’s or Wye’s

There are several different types of pipe connectors including various tee and wye fittings. Which you use depends on whether your pipes are running horizontally or vertically as well as their directional change. Using the right tee or wye is an important step in pipe installation and their future performance, so make sure you’re using the correct shape.

Leaving the Hose Connected

Once the temperature starts to drop, there are several things you should do to prep your home for winter – including removing any outdoor hoses from your spigots. If you leave them connected, ice can form and pressure can build up in the water lines inside your home, leading to water line damage. Remove them before it gets cold and store them in a dry place like your garage or a shed.

Mismatched Pipes

If you’re in need of a pipe replacement, it’s easy to accidentally choose the wrong shape, size, type, or material. Before you attempt a pipe replacement project, make sure you know exactly what replacement type you need. Choosing the wrong one can lead to leaks, breaks, corrosion, and more.

Avoidable Costly Repairs

Too many times, our home plumbing experts are called to repair a situation that was caused by a DIY attempt. Before you decide to take on a plumbing project yourself, know whether or not it’s beyond your skill level. If it is, simply give Oliver a call. We’ll take care of the project correctly and you won’t have to worry about costly repairs in the future.