Winterization Ideas To Keep Your Home Safe This Winter

Winterization Ideas To Keep Your Home Safe This Winter

Winterization Ideas To Keep Your Home Safe This Winter| Aurora Home  Inspections Bergen County NJ

Winter weather has already made some appearances in NY and NJ this year and soon will be here full time. If you have not completed your home winterization projects yet, now is the time! Don’t wait until it’s too late, and you are left in the cold. Aurora Home Inspections wants you and your family to stay safe and warm this winter. Here are a few last minute winterization ideas to keep your home safe this winter.

Have You Had Your Furnace Serviced Yet?

Before we get into any deep freezes this year, make sure you get your furnace serviced. If you wait too long, you could end up with no heat on some very cold nights. Too many people wait until the last minute, and by that time, you may have to wait a long time for an available plumber. In NY and NJ, we’ve already had some very frosty nights. Soon, that will be the story every night. Aurora Home Inspections urges you to have your furnace serviced before winter sets in.

There are also a few signs you should be on the look out for in case your heat is not working properly.

  • Check if your heater is short cycling, or not coming on at all when it is supposed to.
  • Is there any odor when the heat kicks on? It could be some gas not burning right.
  • Check your furnace cap for damage. Sometimes hail and other inclement weather can cause damage to the cap.
  • Check the batteries in your carbon monoxide detector and make sure you have one on each floor.

Last Minute Winterization

While you are waiting for a professional to look at your furnace, this is the perfect time to start disconnecting and draining water hoses and checking and changing all your filters in the home. It’s also a great time to look around the outside of your home and check on winterization projects you may have missed.

Home Energy Savings Tips

There are several small tweaks and projects around the house that are big energy savers. Just doing a few of these simple things will save you money and add tremendous energy efficiency to your home. Check out these blogs for more tips.

Switch To CFL Bulbs To Reduce Energy Costs

Switch To CFL Bulbs To Reduce Energy Costs

Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) have made their way into the mainstream after being invented in the 1970’s as a result of the energy crisis. However, due to a bit of a rocky history, consumers have been slow to get on the wagon. Many of the early versions of CFL bulbs had a delay in reaching full brightness and gave off a cold looking light. But advances in manufacturing and design have eliminated these issues and offer a tradition warm light for a more homey feel. The best part of CFL bulbs are their energy saving abilities. Here is why you should switch to CFL bulbs to reduce energy costs.

The best part of CFL bulbs are their energy saving abilities. Here is why you should switch to CFL bulbs to reduce energy costs.

Benefits Of CFL Bulbs

  • Choosing a CFL with an Energy Star label will generally save you over $30 in electricity costs over the lifetime of the light bulb compared with an incandescent lightbulb over the same time period. CFL will pay for itself within 6 months.
  • CFL bulbs typically last for 5-9 years, which is 10 times the average lifespan of an incandescent light bulb.
  • CFL bulbs come with a 2 year warranty. So you do not need to worry if you get a bad one.
  • While CFL bulbs are more expensive upfront, they are a long term money saver.

Where Not To Use CFL Bulbs

There are some places where a CFL bulb does not make sense and will not save you money. Anything other than standard lighting fixtures, digital timers, motion sensors, dimmer switches should be looked at and verified for use before hand. The packaging on the particular CFL bulb should advise you of compatibility. The same goes for outdoor and enclosed fixtures. You may also want to avoid use in fixtures that are turned on and off frequently, and areas that are subject to extreme temperatures, For those areas you will want weatherproof bulbs.

For more energy savings tips and an inspection of your home in NJ and NY contact  Aurora Home Inspections in Bergen County, NJ.

We are Licensed and Certified Inspection experts who inspect homes, condos, townhouses and apartments.

We can provide inspections for the following:

  • Residential Buyer Inspections
  • Pre Listing Inspections for sellers
  • Commercial Inspections
  • Radon testing
  • Wood Destroying Insect testing
  • Mold testing
  • Indoor Air Quality testing
  • VOC testing
  • 11th month warranty inspection

 

Changing Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Batteries Could Save Your Life!

Change Batteries In Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors NJ

Change smoke and carbon monoxide batteries | Aurora Home Inspection Bergen County NJ


 

Fall is the perfect time of year to consider the level of fire and carbon monoxide threat in your home. At Aurora Home Inspections, we urge you, when the clocks fall back this year and daylight savings time ends, to change the batteries in all the smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in your home. Changing smoke and carbon monoxide batteries at least once per year could save your life!

Your life can only be saved by an alarm that is working. Good batteries are essential to the effectiveness of both a smoke and CO alarm. It is also imperative to have a working alarm on every level of the home. Having an alarm on every level can buy you the precious time needed to escape disaster.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), approximately three out of five fire deaths occur in homes with no smoke alarms or homes without working smoke alarms.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, “home fires often result in lost lives, lasting injuries and property damage. CPSC estimates that between 2009 and 2011, an average of 362,300 unintentional residential fires attended by the fire service, resulted in 2,260 deaths, 12,820 injuries and nearly $7 billion in property damage each year.”

Some alarms will come with a sealed, 10 year guaranteed battery. However, if your alarm does not come that way, you must change the batteries at least once per year. It is also advisable to test each alarm on a monthly basis and place one in every bedroom on every level of the home to maximize safety.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission “carbon monoxide alarms are also critically important safety equipment in the home. Each year from 2008 to 2010, there were an average 162 reported carbon monoxide deaths involving consumer products under CPSC’s jurisdiction, including portable generators and home heating systems.”

Carbon Monoxide | The Invisible Killer

The importance of carbon monoxide detectors in the home cannot be stressed enough. You cannot see or smell carbon monoxide. Known as the invisible killer, the poisonous gas quickly incapacitates and kills its victims quickly from a variety of sources.

Lower Energy Costs With A Programmable Thermostat

Lower Energy Costs With A Programmable Thermostat

If you are looking for ways to reduce your home heating and cooling bills, you can cut them by 15% just by installing a programmable thermostat.  Programmable thermostats keep the temperature in your home at a comfortable level when you are there, and go into energy saving mode while you are away. The higher the price, the more program options offered, but even your least expensive options will give you a big jump in energy savings. If you are looking for an easy and fast way to reduce our bills, you will want to lower energy costs with a programmable thermostat.

 

Lower Energy Costs With A Programmable Thermostat

Programmable thermostats will work with almost every type of gas or oil furnace as well as central air conditioners. But, if you have heat pumps or electric baseboard, you may need to add a few extra features to make them compatible. You should be able to recognize any issues by reading the label on the thermostat. You can always call a heating and cooling professional if you have any reservations.

How To Install A Programmable Thermostat

It is best to call a professional to install the new thermostat for you to make sure everything is done correctly and safely. However, if you are a do it yourself kind of person, here is how to install your new programmable thermostat.

  1. Before removing your old thermostat, check to see if contains any mercury. If it does, you will need to take it to a hazardous waste disposal site. If it contains mercury, you will see a small glass tube with a shiny silver ball in it. Once you know how to dispose of the old thermostat properly, go ahead and remove it.
  2. Use the included marking tabs, or make your own with masking tape and label the wires that were hooked to the old thermostat as you remove them. Use the old screw terminals as your reference.
  3. Use a clothespin to keep the cable from sliding down inside your wall and mount the new wall plate. Make sure you insert any back-up batteries before completing the wiring.
  4. Now it’s time to configure the heating system. Consult the instructions for specific instructions for adjustments and programming options. Some will come pre-programmed if you are lucky. Remember, if the thermostat is not programmed correctly, it will not save you money!

If you are looking to reduce your energy bills, installing a programmable thermostat will accomplish this easily and quickly.

For more energy savings tips check out these related articles.

 

Is Your Hot Water Heater An Energy Guzzler?

Save Energy | Upgrade To High-Efficiency Water Heater

Save Energy | Upgrade To High-Efficiency Water Heater

A natural gas or propane water heater will generally use up about 17% of the energy in your home, and are notoriously known for being inefficient. Even when they are brand new they are truly only at most 59% efficient due to heat loss through the flue and walls of the tank. If your heater is an older model, the case is likely much worse. You could be losing half your heat! Electric water heaters also guzzle some major energy. While upgrading your gas or propane water heater to a new model will help with energy savings and efficiency, upgrading your electric water heater likely won’t make much of a difference. You can increase energy efficiency by upgrading to a high high-efficiency water heater.

Water Heater Buying Tips

A new conventional water heater can cost thousands of dollars, depending on installation and model. Here are some tips on water heater shopping to keep you from spending unnecessarily.

  • Always buy an energy star rated product that is at least 63 to 67% efficient.
  • Buy a high-efficiency electric model with an insulation rating of R-22 or better.
  • Check into off peak rates for electric water heaters by speaking to your energy provider.
  • Purchase the right size for your home. Too big and too small will both be less efficient at heating your water.
  • The longer the warranty the better. If the model has a longer warranty (10-12 years) then it is likely better insulated and has better heat transfer and larger heating elements. In other words, it will work more efficient for a longer period of time.

Protect Your Investments

You will always want to make sure you check for recalls of appliances, such as water heaters, in your home to protect your investment and keep your family safe. If your home inspection does not include a recall check of appliances you are leaving yourself open to potential disaster, and missing out on free repairs. At Aurora Home Inspections, when we perform a home inspection, we include a free recall check each and every time.

 

5 Home Energy Savings Tips You Can Do Right Now

Home Energy Savings Tips | NJ Home Inspections

Following a few easy steps will offer you a reduction in your energy bills and an major increase in your energy efficiency. Here are 5 home energy savings tips you can do right now.

Home Energy Savings Tips

Save More Energy With New Storm Windows

Storm windows are not new to the market, but lately they have been getting some major improvements. They are now made to be used year round, able to be opened and closed. There are new coatings on many brands as well called low-emissivity coatings, which help to cut heat loss even further. You will get the biggest payback from these windows if you use them over single-pane windows. You don’t want to use them over aluminum windows since heat build up between the two can damage the aluminum.

Air Tight Fireplace Doors Will Seal The Heat In

If you have a wood burning fireplace, upgrade your doors to an airtight model. Airtight fireplace doors will help keep the heat in your house, and prevent it from escaping up the chimney. If you have an older model fireplace that relies on room air for combustion, then upgrade to a door with operable vents. Make sure to keep the vents open only when you have a fire going. Otherwise, heat will constantly be escaping your home.

Wrap Pipes With Insulation To Limit Heat Loss

Insulating any exposed hot water pipes in your home reduces heat loss in the home and also makes your hot water heater more efficient by allowing you to deliver the hot water a lower temperature setting. If you insulate all accessible hot water pipes that are within 3 feet of the water heater, using quality pipe insulation, or pipe sleeve, you should see a return in energy savings. If you have a gas water heater, make sure to keep insulation at least 6 inches away from the flue.

Seal Electrical Boxes With Foam Gaskets

Energy experts tell us that one of the biggest sources of major heat loss in a home are electrical boxes that hold switches or outlets. You can combat this heat loss with foam gaskets, a very inexpensive solution. They won’t completely seal the boxes, but they will offer lot of help.

Check Attic Insulation For Air Leaks

Check your insulation in the attic for dark spots, or frosty areas. These spots will tell you where dirty air is escaping your home, or where warm, moist air is condensing and freezing when it hits cold attic air. Once you find and seal these leaks, you will retain a lot more heat in the home.

These steps are all quick, easy and fairly inexpensive ways to make your home more energy efficient. By doing even a few of these home energy savings tips , you will see a reduction in your energy bills.

It’s Time To Schedule A Furnace or Boiler Tune-Up In NJ

Furnace or Boiler Tune-Up In NJ

Furnace or Boiler Tune-Up In NJ | Aurora Home Inspections

It’s getting closer and closer to being cold enough to turn the heat on. Before it gets any colder, avoid any potential problems by scheduling a furnace or boiler tune up in NJ. Doing this will ensure that you can be comfortably warm and toasty in your home and won’t get any unwelcome surprises when you fire up the heating system for the first time this year. Make sure when you schedule a furnace or boiler tune-up in NJ, you are using a trusted, vetted professional.

NJ Fall Furnace Maintenance

Whether it runs on gas or electric, your furnace needs an annual tune-up to ensure it’s operating as it should. Fall furnace maintenance is crucial in ensuring that your home will be a comfortable and safe place in the cold months.  Every Fall furnace tune-up should include:

  • Cleaning of  the heating element, burners, pilot housing, and ignition.
  • Lubrication of  the fan motors.
  • Inspection of  the ventilation system and flue.
  • Gas leak inspection.
  • Inspection of the electrical components of the furnace.
  • Air filter cleaning or replacement.

NJ Fall Boiler Maintenance

Tuning-up a boiler system will prevent unexpected issues and increase the efficiency. Every Fall boiler tune-up should include:

  • Internal pressure inspection.
  • Checking of  the boiler’s structural soundness.
  • Pilot light housing cleaning.
  • Descaling hard water buildup.
  • Air handler servicing (If applicable).

By tuning-up and servicing your boiler or furnace ahead of the cold winter months you can be sure that you will be keeping your home safe and warm this winter. You will also boost the efficiency of the heater and save yourself money on your heating bills.

Winterize Your Sprinkler System In New Jersey

Winterize Your Sprinkler System In New Jersey

A sprinkler system is a fairly large investment into your the care and maintenance of your property. This being the case, people often want to protect their sprinkler systems in the colder, winter months. With these months rapidly approaching in many regions, it’s time to winterize your sprinkler system in New Jersey. By using compressed air to blow out the sprinkler system you can ensure that your your sprinklers will continue to work for many years.

Winterize Your Sprinkler System In New Jersey | Aurora Home InspectionsMany people will ask, if the sprinkler system is underground, why does it need to be winterized? Although it may seem that being buried would keep the system from freezing, that is not necessarily true. In times of freezing weather, which we see our share of in New Jersey, the frost level will sink deeper and deeper and the season progresses. To truly be safe from freezing, the system would need to be buried as deep as the water lines to your house. Instead of taking the chance, go ahead and winterize.

Why Winterize A Sprinkler System In NJ

  • There are too many variables to rely only on burying your system. You don’t know how deep it is, or what is under the ground with your system.
  • Sometimes the cold can last longer than expected and the frost line will sink deeper and deeper.
  • Windy spots can cause the cold to go deeper in that area.
  • Concrete retaining walls, soil conditions, mulch or the lack thereof, vegetation, and other things influence how deep the frost can travel.

The Consequences of Not Winterizing A Sprinkler System In NJ

  • Pipes can and often will crack if they freeze when filled with water.
  • Pipe fittings can also crack.
  • The the most expensive parts of your system are vulnerable to breaking from freezing temperatures. These being the anti-siphon devices and valves.
  • All metal parts will be affected by periods of alternating freezes and thaws. Even if you get by for a few years, this cycle will eventually cause pipes to split.

 

5 Fall Home Maintenance Tips For NJ Homes

Fall Home Maintenance Tips For NJ Homes

Each change in season brings new home maintenance and prevention projects with its changes in temperature, weather, and aging of the home. In order to keep things running smoothly and avoid costly repairs from occurring, why not take the time now and get your home ready for the fall and winter seasons while conditions are still mild. Here are 5 Fall home maintenance tips for NJ homes to help get you get a head start.

Fall Home Maintenance Tips For NJ Homes

1.) Clear Your Roof/Gutters/Downspouts Of Debris

It’s easy to forget about your roof. After all, out of sight out of mind! But, if left unchecked, roof repairs can become a very costly and can also cause insurance problems. Make sure the roof is clear of debris, shingles are in good shape, and flashing around the chimney and any openings are free of leaks.

2.) Change Filters

It is a good idea, if you have an air conditioning system, to change the air filters. If you have a wall unit instead, take that out of the window or cover it with a waterproof cover. You should also change the filters in any stove vents and clothes dryers. Changing filters will help with Fall allergies!

3.) Prepare Your Fireplace and Chimney

Make sure your fireplace and chimney are clean free of creosote build up. Clean out old ashes and clean the flu. It is not a bad idea hire a chimney sweep and have it professionally done. Chimney fires are both very dangerous and unfortunately very frequent. You should also have the chimney inspected for cracks and leaks.

4.) Drain Your Hot Water Heater

Hard water and sediment could be building up in your water tank. It is the perfect time, ahead of the cold months to drain the water tank and check for debris and rust. If your tank is old or rusty, it is probably time for a new one. An old rusty tank is not at all energy or cost efficient.

5.) Take Care Of Your Irrigation And Lawn Needs

To prevent spring weeds and lawn damage from the cold, wet winter, make sure you fertilize your lawn. You will be much happier in the Spring when you have a healthy lawn! It is also a great idea to have an irrigation professional come out and fix any broken sprinkler heads before the cold sets in .

 

How To Close A Pool For The Winter

 

How To Close A Pool For The Winter In NJ

Labor Day has come and gone and soon it will be time to close up your backyard pool. There are several steps that need to be taken to make sure everything is closed down properly so you can have a hassle free spring next year.  If you aren’t 100% sure how to do this the right way, you should call a professional.  Here is Aurora Home Inspections tips on how to close a pool for the winter.

It is incredibly important that when you close up your pool you have the right chemical balance in place. This will keep the water from becoming too corrosive in the off season. If left unchecked, the water can produce heavy calcium deposits, which can eat away at the lining of your pool. This would not be a pleasant surprise in the spring.

To test your chemicals to make sure the balance is right you should use a pool test kit and follow the directions from the manufacturer. Make sure each time you handle chemicals you wear eye protection and rubber gloves to protect yourself.

How To Close A Pool For The Winter In NJ | Aurora Home Inspections

How To Test Pool Chemicals

The details will vary with each test kit you use. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on each step..

  • First you will need to check and adjust the pH level of the water.
  • Next check the water hardness and adjust to the right level of calcium.
  • Next is testing for alkalinity. This is how well the water resists a change in pH levels.
  • And finally check and adjust chlorine level in the water. Chlorine is a bacteria, virus and germ killer. But, UV rays can dilute the effectiveness. Because of this you will always need a chlorine stabilizer in pool water.

Final Pool Closing Steps

  • Drain the water so it is just below the skimmer opening.
  • Remove the directional fittings and install the freeze plugs.
  • Turn off the filter pump.
  • Drain all the pool equipment and put it away in storage for the winter.
  • Install the cover over the pool and secure. Never walk on the pool cover and always make sure you supervise kids and pets around the pool at all times.