Recent General Posts

Best Practices When Using a Humidifier

3/4/2019 (Permalink)

Maintaining the perfect environment for each member of your family in your home is not always the easiest task. From regulating the temperature, being respectful of noise levels, and considering others when turning on and off lights are just of the few ways in which we attempt to make homes more comfortable. However, how you ever considered the humidity level in your house? Knowing when to use a humidifier in your home can be a game-changer, giving those who need it a much more pleasant space to live. Make sure to follow to follow humidifier best practices to ensure safety.

What is a Humidifier?

Simply put, humidifiers release moisture back into the air when the air is particularly dry. Therefore, when deciding when to use a humidifier, consider especially dry months like those in winter. Each humidifier comes equipped with a large tank of water at the base. When this small machine is turned on, air is forced through a filter where it then evaporates some of the water in the base. This process successfully increases the humidity level in the surrounding area. Maintaining a humidifier requires very little work, as most machines today are completely self-regulating. In fact, the machine will detect the specific level of humidity at a given time, releasing more or less evaporated water as needed.

Humidifiers come in a number of different sizes based on the specific needs of an individual or family. There are small, tabletop size humidifiers ideal for increasing the humidity level of a single room. A console humidifier will cover a bit more ground, maintaining a comfortable humidity level across a few rooms. Lastly, a whole house humidifier, as the name indicates, will maintain the humidity level throughout the entire house.

Humidifiers are also available in cold air or warm air. Making a decision when to use a humidifier and which type between warm air vs cold air humidifiers really comes down to personal preference, as they are both equally as effective. In the debate between warm air vs cold air humidifiers, some things to consider are that cool mist humidifiers tend to use less energy because they have no heating elements, and they are less hazardous for small children. On the other hand, warm mist humidifiers are usually quieter, and can really help out on chilly winter nights.

Benefits of Humidifiers

In determining if and when to use a humidifier, consider the numerous benefits they offer. For one, humidifiers can help to reduce your heating costs. Humidifiers can reduce energy costs because they not only make the air moister, they also make the air warmer as well. Because most humidifiers are energy efficient, you will use up less energy than if you were to keep your heat on. Another benefit to using humidifiers is that they can reduce experiences of static electricity shocks. Most often, we experience static shows as a result of coming into contact with dry and dusty carpets. However, when moisture is added back into the air and surrounding surfaces, this is less likely to happen.

One of the most important benefits for why and when to use a humidifier is the positive impact they can have on health. It is generally recommended that the humidity level in our living spaces sits between 30% and 50%. Unfortunately, many of us to do not have humidity levels in this range in our homes. Without the right humidity level, occupants of a home are at risk for issues including respiratory irritation, asthma, and even infection. Additionally, using a humidifier can have unexpected benefits such as reduced snoring, moist skin, and fewer allergy symptoms.

When to Use a Humidifier?

How can you tell when to use a humidifier? While humidifiers are mostly associated with winter, you could actually need a humidifier in summer. There are a few signs you can look out for to figure out when to use a humidifier, and whether a humidifier is needed in summer or winter. If you or someone in your family is experiencing issues including chronic runny nose, sinus congestion, dry throat, flare-ups of asthma, allergy flare-ups, nose bleeds, or hay fever symptoms while inside the house, there is likely not enough moisture in the air. Also, if you notice that your skin has become drier than usual despite the consistent use of lotion, dry air may be to blame. Additionally, if your partner’s storing has kicked into overdrive, they may be suffering from the effects of low moisture in the air.

Humidifier Best Practices

If you’ve determined why and when to use a humidifier, and have made the decision to purchase one for your home, there are some very important best practices to keep in mind. Best practices when to use a humidifier include:

  1. Clean frequently: one of the most important practices for how to maintain a humidifier is to clean it frequently. Cleaning a humidifier is a must because harmful mold and other contaminants can begin to grow within the machine. Mold grows in moist environments, and humidifiers produce moisture, so they are at particular risk for growth. For cleaning a humidifier, you can simply use vinegar, cloth, and q-tips to get into small nooks and crannies. Make sure to completely disassemble the humidifier, and let each component soak in vinegar for about 30 minutes. Each model comes with recommendations for frequency of cleanings.
  2. Use clean water: Another important best practice when to use a humidifier for how to maintain a humidifier is to always use clean water in the machine reservoir. Water can carry various levels of minerals, that, if distributed in the air, can cause bacteria and respiratory issues. Opt for cold water over warm water, as it typically contains fewer minerals. Before each use of the humidifier, empty the tank and fill with all new water.
  3. Find the right humidity level: how and when to use a humidifier in your home will be determined by how humid the air already is. If you notice condensation gathering on the surfaces in your home, the humidity level is likely too high and you should probably turn off the humidifier. This excess moisture can lead to water damage, including nasty mold growth.

Insulating A Basement Ceiling and Why It's Important To The Health Of Your Home

2/25/2019 (Permalink)

A lot goes into to keep your home comfortable for you and your family. From ensuring your HVAC system is in working order for warm and cool weather to keeping your air quality strong through air duct cleanings, and everything in between. When it comes to regulating the temperature in your home, one of the most important components lying throughout your house is insulation. While there are places in your house where insulation is a no brainer, many are unsure of whether or not to add insulation to their basement ceiling. So, what are the insulation options for how to insulate a basement ceiling, and how much does it cost to insulate basement ceilings? It turns out that insulating a basement ceiling should be on your to-do list, as it will not only keep you comfortable but can also save you money on energy bills.

What is Basement Ceiling Insulation?

Simply put, basement ceiling insulation is any material that is specifically designed to prevent heat loss in addition to heat gain. During cold winter months properly installed insulation will hold in the heat coming from your HVAC system and, during balmy summer days, will make sure excess heat doesn’t get into your home. There are a variety of types of 

Types of Insulation

There are a variety of types of basement ceiling insulation available on the market for those asking what type of insulation for the basement ceiling to use. What type of insulation for the basement ceiling to use will depend on factors including budget, home layout, and whether you want to attempt to install the installation yourself versus hiring a professional company. Each basement ceiling insulation option for how to insulate a basement ceiling comes with its own unique advantages and disadvantages. Some of the most common types of household basement ceiling insulations used for hanging insulation in basements include batts and blankets, loose-fill insulation, insulated panels, and spray foams.

Batts and blankets: The most common type of basement ceiling insulation and option for how to insulate a basement ceiling is to use batts and blankets and is the most accessible form of insulation for the average homeowner looking to do the job themselves. Batts and blankets come in roll form, making them easy to transport as needed. This type of basement ceiling insulation must be carefully stuffed into spaces around pipes, wires, and other fixtures in order to increase efficiency. Unfortunately, with this form of insulation, it’s easy to miss spots that need insulation, losing its overall effectiveness. Some of the pros of batts and blankets include easy installation, transportability, and ability to fit in and around studs, rafters, and other fixtures. Cons of batts and blankets include needing to be cut by hand, some types retain moisture, and some types are itchy during installation.

Loose-fill insulation: Another option for how to insulate a basement ceiling is to use loose fill insulation, which is made up of fluffy fibrous strands that are blown into small nooks and crannies. Loose-fill insulation is primarily used in spaces such as attics and walls, though can also be used effectively in ceilings as well. Some of the pros to loose-fill basement ceiling insulation is that some forms like loose-fill fiberglass are very lightweight, can be installed by almost anyone, and loose-fill cellulose is highly effective in all temperatures. On the other hand, some loose-fill insulation is so fluffy it can lose effectiveness in very cold temperatures.

Structural Insulated Panels: Next on the list of options for how to insulate a basement ceiling is to use structural insulated panels (SIPs), which are used to insulate the entire surface of a wall. SIPs are primarily used for new ceilings, walls, floors, and roofs in areas including basements and crawl spaces. Some of the pros of SIPs include that they are lightweight, highly energy efficient, and relatively easy to install. The primary con of SIPs is that they are more expensive than most types of insulation.

Spray foam insulation: Finally, another common type of household insulation for how to insulate a basement ceiling is spray foam insulation. As the name tells, spray foam is adhered in liquid form and then expands to fill cracks and gaps, thereby preventing air leaks. The main pros of spray foam insulation is that it is very effective in stopping the movement of air and moisture because it so securely fills cracks and gaps. Cons of spray foam is that for this type, hanging insulation in basement typically requires professional installation, which raises the price.

Why is Insulation Important

Because adding insulation is an investment, before figuring out the steps and options for how to insulate a basement ceiling you might be asking yourself, why is insulating a basement ceiling important? The answer is that an uninsulated basement inevitably leads to some level of heat loss. When heat is lost out of your home, especially when your heat is turned on to keep your home warm, you’re wasting energy and increasing pricey energy bills. This happens because warm air seeks out cooler spaces, so the warm air pumping into your living spaces above will begin to flow into the basement where it is cooler. The air then in turns seeks out even cooler spots, heading towards outside where it is colder. When insulation is in place, the warm air is not able to escape and will circulate back throughout desired areas.

The cost to Insulate Basement Ceiling

Once of the most important factors in how to insulate a basement ceiling is the actual cost to insulate basement ceilings. When making the decisions, homeowners need to compare how much they’d spend on energy bills without insulation with the cost to insulate basement ceilings and the expected benefits that will result. While the exact dollar amounts for energy bills with and without basement ceiling insulation vary from house to house, in general, most homeowners have found a decrease in their energy bills following the installation of basement ceiling insulation, making the initial investment cost to insulate basement ceiling worth it.

Cold Weather Tips For Your Home

2/4/2019 (Permalink)

Cold weather preparation of your home is extremely vital in making sure that you can enjoy the winter months.

There is a lot to look forward to during the cooler months. However, without properly preparing your house for winter weather, your time could be spent making costly repairs to your home as a result of cold weather instead of enjoying fun activities. Making adequate preparations in and around your house is key. But just where do you start? Use the following cold weather tips for home to get your home ready to take on the cold without suffering any damage.

Cold Weather Tips for Home: What to Do to Prepare

Without properly protecting your home, you can experience issues such as burst pipes, water damage, high energy bills, uncomfortable temperatures, and more. Fortunately, with the right winter home maintenance tips and preparation in the weeks and months leading up to cold weather, you can enjoy a relaxing, uneventful winter season. Some of the most important cold weather tips for home necessary for preparing your house for winter weather are to:

Protect the Pipes: One of the most important cold weather tips for home is to protect the pipes in your house. When water freezes, it expands. During cold weather, the water in your pipes can freeze and expand, resulting in cracked or completely burst pipes. Additionally, you may experience a burst pipe when water builds up behind a chunk of ice. Burst pipes can cause extensive damage in your home, including water damage to walls and floors, flooding, and mold growth.

But just how to protect pipes from freezing? To prevent frozen pipes, there are a few cold weather tips for home to take. First, disconnect and drain any hoses sitting outside. Store the hose safely for the winter in a warmer space such as a garage or basement. Next on how to protect pipes from freezing, insulate any exposed pipes to regulate temperature and prevent them from bursting. Another on the list of cold weather tips for home for your pipes is to drip faucets. If wondering how many faucets should I let drip, it depends. A good rule of thumb is to let hot and cold faucets in bathrooms and kitchens drip.

Clear Gutters: When gutters are not cleared during cold weather, they can form ice dams. Ice dams are created when heat from the roof melts snow on top of it, which then drains to the edges of the house and refreezes. When gutters and downspouts are clogged with leaves and other debris, water cannot properly drain and will instead flow through cracks leading into your home. Key to preparing your house for winter weather is to clear gutters so that water can successfully drain from the roof and away from cracks in the roof and in the foundation of your house.

Mind the Fireplace: Who doesn’t love a warm fire in the winter? Preparing your house for winter weather also means that before you light up, you should make sure the fireplace and chimney are clean. If debris is left in the fireplace or chimney, it can potentially catch fire and cause a serious threat to your personal safety and home. If you are unfamiliar as to how to properly clean your fireplace and chimney, enlist the help of a professional chimney sweep to get the job done.

Check Heating Sources: In preparation for cold weather, among the top cold weather tips is to check that your heat is working properly. This entails checking your furnace by engaging the blower. You will also want to change the filter in your furnace as the start of the cold weather season, then every few months after. Without a properly cleaned filter, your house won’t warm up as efficiently. Further, check that your HVAC system is clean and free of dirt and debris. If not clean, dirty air ducts can cause harmful contaminants to circulate throughout your home when your heat is turned on. Check for visible dirt on air vents, one of the most obvious signs of dirty air ducts.

Install Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors: During the winter months, your home is at a higher risk for house fires if you enjoy using your fireplace, candles, and cooking large holiday meals. Because these winter activities involved the use of open flames, one of the recommended winter home maintenance tips is to make sure smoke detectors are all in working order to keep your family safe in the event of a fire. Also, make sure to install a carbon monoxide detector. The risk of carbon monoxide exposure increases during winter months. What makes this gas particularly dangerous and lethal is that it has no color or odor.  

Inspect Your Roof: In many states, with winter comes snow and rainfall. This can leave you at risk for flooding and other types of water damage if there are any cracks or holes in the roof of your house. Also important for preparing your house for winter weather is to make sure to inspect your roof a couple months before the winter weather sets in to ensure you have enough time for any repairs. Water damage can be particularly unpleasant, leading to mold and a pricey restoration process.

Seal Windows and Doors: Among important cold weather tips for home and cold weather tips for apartments is also to seal windows and doors. As you can imagine, cracks or holes in and around windows and doors can cause cold air to get in, and warm air inside your house to get out. Caulk around windows and fill gaps under doors to help save on heating costs.

The Home Winter Weather Checklist

Before the cold sets in, make sure that all the items on this winter weather checklist have been checked off to ensure a safe and comfortable season free of pricey repairs:

  • Prep pipes - drain hoses, insulate exposed plumbing pipes, and drip hot and cold faucets (remember, those asking how many faucets should I let drip, focus on faucets in bathrooms and kitchens)
  • Clear gutters - remove buildups of debris such as dirt and leaves sitting in gutters
  • Clean your fireplace and chimney - make sure your fireplace is free of dirt and ashes prior to lighting fires
  • Inspect your HVAC system - confirm that furnace filters are clean and air ducts are free of dust and debris
  • Check your roof - make sure there are no cracks or holes in the roof that could lead to water damage
  • Trim tree branches - tree branches near your roof can cause damage during winter storms