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The Home Inspector's Blog
|Posted on June 13, 2018 at 1:30 PM||comments (0)|
|Posted on June 13, 2018 at 1:19 PM||comments (0)|
How to clean your dryer ductwork.
Originally published by the Boston Globe
by Rob Robillard
According to the US Fire Administration, 2,900 home clothes dryer fires are reported each year and cause an estimated five deaths, 100 injuries, and $35 million in property damage. Failure to clean the dryer is the leading cause.
The most efficient and safest dryer ducts are the 4-inch rigid metal ones. The smooth interior of these pipes reduces air flow drag and lint buildup. The flexible white plastic hoses are inefficient and a fire hazard; they become brittle from the heat.
There are also flexible metal hoses, although they tend to build up lint and are best used for connecting the machine to your rigid metal ductwork.
Determining whether your dryer duct is full of lint and in need of cleaning can be straightforward. The clue is noticing whether your clothes dryer is taking longer than usual to dry its contents. If this is the case, you either have an airflow issue or a defective heating element. If your clothes come out hot after the last cycle, then you can probably rule out the heating element.
Inspect the exterior vent flap when the dryer is in use. Make sure there are no obstructions like bird, mouse, or bee nests. The air velocity should open this vent wide.
If the exterior flapper barely opens, then your airflow is minimal and your duct probably needs to be cleaned, shortened, or both.
When dryers are located a short distance from an outside wall, the straight duct run works well, requiring little maintenance and making inspections easy. Many laundry rooms today are deeper inside homes, however, which means long runs and several elbows, often resulting in restricted airflow.
As far as cleaning your ducts, I’ve seen people use a shop vacuum from both ends of the dryer vent duct. One home inspector friend of mine uses a battery-powered leaf blower on the inside and a shop vacuum on the outside with good success.
I use a dryer vent-cleaning kit. You can purchase one online or at your hardware store for about $40. These kits are designed to be used with a drill. An auger brush attaches to a flexible rod. The brush head is bendable to get in tight spaces and has a plastic round nose that allows it to navigate in and around pipe elbows. The rotating action of the self-feeding auger brush and flexible rods scours the entire vent surface. The flexible rods are typically 36 inches long. A kit typically comes with enough flexible rods to clean a 12-foot duct.
TIP: As you add more rods, wrap the connections with electrical tape. Do not use your drill in reverse, or the rods will detach.
If you are cleaning the dryer duct from the outside, remove the dryer hood, if possible. If you can’t, use a paper clip to hold open the flapper.
After cleaning the ductwork, reattach it to the dryer and replace the hood. Plug the dryer back in.
TIP: Turn on the dryer and allow all of the loose debris to exit the pipe. Run the brush through the pipe once or twice with the dryer running.
Remove and clean the lint trap.
Rob Robillard is a general contractor, carpenter, editor of AConcordCarpenter.com, and principal of a carpentry and renovation business.
|Posted on December 16, 2016 at 1:50 PM||comments (3)|
When Should You Replace Your Furnace?
No one wants the furnace to break down during winter. Here are the obvious and subtle signs to watch for before your furnace goes out.
With a change in the calendar comes an inevitable change in the weather. As colder air creeps in, you’ll want to be sure your furnace is up to the challenge. Of course, not all household breakdowns come with warning signs; but your furnace could be warning you it’s time for a replacement. Here are the key signs to watch out for:
You Have An Old Furnace
Household systems and appliances don’t last forever. The average lifespan of a furnace is typically between 20 and 30 years old. If your home is around that age and you still have the original furnace, you should be preparing yourself for the inevitable. It may be time for an upgrade.
Your Energy Bills Are Going Up
The rise in energy costs may not be the only reason your heating bill is going up each winter. Over time, furnaces lose efficiency, particularly if they haven’t been regularly maintained. As time goes on, you may find you need to run your furnace longer to get that same toasty, warm feeling. Naturally, the longer you run it, the more oil or natural gas you use. Instead of spending so much on your monthly utility bill, it might make more sense to invest in a new energy-efficient model.
You Constantly Adjust The Thermostat
If some rooms are toastier than others and you have to turn up the temperature in cooler rooms to compensate, it could be that your furnace can’t properly distribute the air throughout the house to maintain a consistently warm temperature.
Your Home Smells Stale
Older furnaces aren’t great at cleaning and moisturizing the air. Sometimes, homes with older furnaces also accumulate dust and other airborne allergens -- like pet dander -- more easily. Poor indoor air quality is nothing to sneeze at. Viruses can actually linger in your home when air isn’t what it should be. Even your plants can be droopy when the furnace isn’t doing a good job.
Your Furnace Is Making Strange Noises
Generally speaking, a properly functioning furnace should run smoothly without making a lot of noise. If you hear banging, popping, squealing, rattling, especially if you’ve never heard that from your furnace before, it could be a sign your furnace is going to fail. Also, if you hear the blower running when it shouldn’t be or if the air is cold instead of hot, your furnace may need to be replaced.
You’ve Had Multiple Furnace Repairs In The Last Two Years
It’s not surprising that as furnaces age, they may need more and more repairs to keep running. They’re like cars in this sense. And just like with cars, when the cost to repair repeatedly adds up to more than the cost to replace, then it just makes sense to look at getting a new one. Typically, furnaces have more repairs in the last two years of their lifetime than during any other time. So if you’re noticing more repairs than in the past, a new furnace should probably be in your near future.
You Haven’t Been Feeling Well
It’s not uncommon for older furnaces to develop cracks in the heat exchanger. When this happens, carbon monoxide could leak into the home undetected. This is why it’s recommended to have functioning carbon monoxide detectors on every level of your home. If you don’t and haven’t been feeling well, your furnace could be to blame. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include frequent headaches, nausea, disorientation, burning in the eyes or nose, as well as other general flu-like symptoms. If you or any members of your family are experiencing symptoms like these, call a technician immediately. In the meantime, air out your house by opening windows.
Of course, a new furnace can be a big expense, so it’s always best to care for the one you have for as long as you own it. Regular routine maintenance is key. Regardless, repairs from time to time are not uncommon. Repair costs can still add up. An American Home Shield® Home Warranty Plan is a smart way to protect your budget and control the hassles of repairing your furnace, as well as other household system components and appliances.
Unlike homeowners insurance, a home warranty is a service contract that covers the repair or replacement of important home system components and appliances that break down over time. A home warranty can help save you money.
|Posted on December 16, 2016 at 1:42 PM||comments (2)|
|Posted on December 16, 2016 at 1:10 PM||comments (1)|
How To Adjust Water Heater Temperatures
If you've noticed the water temperature in your shower isn't as hot as it once was, it may be a problem with your water heater. To solve this problem adjust the temperature on your home's water heater. With these easy to follow steps you'll be able to enjoy your morning shower again.
|Posted on December 13, 2016 at 1:43 PM||comments (3)|
|Posted on December 13, 2016 at 1:08 PM||comments (0)|
|Posted on December 13, 2016 at 1:01 PM||comments (1)|
Don't Get Stuck
with Frozen Pipes
For many parts of the country, the holidays bring cold temperatures along with festive celebrations. Frozen pipes that burst and cause water damage can put a damper on holiday merriment and can cost thousands of dollars in repair as well as hours of your precious holiday vacation time. Here are a few tips that may help you avoid frozen pipes – and frustration – this winter:
Check your homeowner’s insurance to find out what kind of coverage you have in the event of water damage from broken pipes (and the amount of any deductible). Know in advance what steps you’ll need to take to provide proof of damage, obtain an estimate and file a claim.
If your home sustains water damage from a broken pipe, it’s important to get a qualified restoration professional to the site as soon as possible to categorize the type of water and begin appropriate clean-up steps. It’s important to start water mitigation as soon as possible to maximize structural drying and dehumidification to minimize damage. Letting the water sit will likely only complicate and possibly prolong the restoration process. Many disaster restoration professionals offer 24-hour emergency services so they can respond to water damage situations quickly.
|Posted on November 22, 2016 at 1:03 PM||comments (1)|
Fall Maintenance Musts
Use these ten easy fall maintenance projects to keep your house in peak condition through the winter.