We recommend that a professional HVAC specialist come and service your unit for you when it is needed. However, there are some things you can do yourself to Maintain your unit and keep it working and kicking out the cool air when you need it.
Note: Turn off all power and disconnect switches before performing inspections/maintenance on the unit yourself.
A/C Home owner Maintenance check list.
Change out the filter as often as required. (Sometimes once a month).
Switch to high/low returns at the start and end of winter going into spring.
Listen to the unit for any unusual noises and call an HVAC specialist if it is concerning.
Check that the drain lines are draining correctly.
Look for water leaks or changes in the system.
Clean up weeds and plants from around your unit.
Keep the exterior coil clean.
Keep the exterior unit level and away from landscaping materials.
Make sure the inside supply and return registers are not blocked.
Home Owner Heat Pump Maintenance Check List.
Schedule professional service yearly
Watch for ice forming on the exterior unit.
Follow the maintenance recommended for the central air conditioning above.
It is gearing up to be a nice warm summer. You want to make sure that your A/C unit is working at its best. The best way to do that is to maintain your unit every year. Regular maintenance will not only keep your unit nice and cold when you need it most but, will keep it working longer.
A home inspection is not only for when you are purchasing or selling a home. It can also help you know what things are happening in your home while your living there. Having a plan will help you get to where you want your home to be. A home inspection will help you form your game plan to a well maintained home for years to come.
In the first post with tips 1-5 we took a brief look at what you can do on the exterior, windows and plumbing of your home to be more energy efficient. In this post I will focus more on the appliances and fixtures of your home to make it more energy efficient. Having an energy efficient home can save you money every month and you don’t necessarily need to change your lifestyle to do it.
When you research how to be energy efficient there are so many tips on the internet that it can give you a headache. Some are practical, others are just confusing! I wanted to give a straight forward list that is easy to do and doesn’t break your wallet. Some things on this list cost you nothing to incorporate into your home, just a small change in your daily routine. Lets dig in.
6. Energy Efficient Home: Shower heads
Lowering the amount of water used in your home can save you a bundle. The shower is where we use the most water. Most standard shower heads push out 4 gallons per minute. That is about 40 gallons for a ten minute shower times the amount of people in your home and how many times a week you shower. That could come to 15,000 gallons a year for one family. That is a lot of water! What if I told you that a one time $20-$50 purchase could save you up to half the water a year! Installing a good quality low flow shower head can greatly reduce your water usage.
There is a lot of controversy on if a low flow shower head is really worth it. Angi.com has some great information on low flow shower heads that may help with your decision. If the low flow shower head is not for you, consider shortening your time in the shower by half.
7. Energy Efficient Lighting Controls and Light bulbs.
Another big energy user in your home is lighting. Use natural lighting when possible. Consider replacing your light bulbs with LED bulbs or fluorescent lamps. Fluorescent bulbs have come a long way and you can get ones that give off more of a natural light or light more like the incandescent light bulbs. They also can last 10 times longer than the incandescent bulbs that are most likely in your home.
There are always advantages and disadvantages to saving energy. Fluorescent lighting does help with energy efficiency, but there are some disadvantages to using them.
Disadvantage: The fluorescent lamp contains a small amount of mercury liquid inside of it, which is converted into a mercury vapor when the lamp is turned on and is what allows the lamb to make light. The amount of mercury in the lamp is very small. However, it is a poisonous substance and should be treated carefully if the lamp is ever broken or goes out.
Disadvantage/advantage: Seemingly high cost is also a disadvantage to the fluorescent bulbs. But, since the bulbs last significantly longer than the incandescent bulbs the cost does end up being less expensive.
Advantage: One of the best benefits of fluorescent lighting comes from its energy efficiency. The energy savings can be up to 35% when compared to conventional light bulbs. Fluorescent bulbs also do not put out much heat like the traditional bulbs do. So it shouldn’t burn you when changing it out. It also helps keep the room at a cooler temperature!
I cannot tell you how many times a day I have to remind my children to turn off the lights! You can purchase a light switch with a timer or one with a motion sensor from most most home improvement stores. Then you can set to shut off after 1-15 minutes, or just walk in the room! Or you can be like me and just keep reminding your kids to turn the lights off. One day they may just remember!
A great way to save energy is to dress appropriately for the temperature. Wear a sweater around your home so you can keep the thermostat at a lower temperature during the winter and wear shorts and t-shirt during the summer. The less your cooler or heater has to work the more energy you can save. If the weather is nice out, open a window or door. Fresh air will do you good I promise!
9. Energy Efficient Washing Machine.
Whenever possible, wash your clothes with cold water. Cold water is fine for most types of clothing and most stains will come out by using cold water. Not all stains will be removed when using hot water, such as sweat. The warmer water may even set the stain into the fabric, making it harder to remove later. Cold water washing also means clothing is less likely to shrink or fade and ruin your clothes. In addition, cold water can reduce wrinkles which then saves energy on ironing.
It is estimated that 75-90% of the energy your washer uses is to heat up the water.
Of course you can’t always use cold water to clean your clothes. There are some fabrics that may not do so well in the cold wash. If you are unsure, you can check the tags on your clothes. This should tell you if they should only to be washed in hot water. GE appliances has a great list and rules on clothes labels and what they mean. The statistics about the energy usage was also found in this article.
10. Energy Efficient Home Air Filters.
Your air filters for the cooling/heating systems should be changed every month or every three months depending on where you live. Most units have a disposable filter. However, you can also get a reusable one. Changing filters often makes your equipment work easier and more efficiently. A clean air filter is an efficient one! You can read more about air filters here!
Switch to low flow shower heads or spend less time in the shower.
Switch your incandescent bulbs out with LED or fluorescent bulbs.
Polybutylene is a type of supply plumbing piping that was installed in homes all across the United States roughly between 1978 and almost to the 2000s. It is estimated that up to 10 million homes were fitted with polybutylene during construction. The reason this material was so widely used was because it was a lower cost material and is much easier and quicker to install than it’s typical copper counterpart because it is flexible, is made of a plastic-resin and doesn’t require extensive soldering or bracing.
Can You Identify Polybutylene Piping?
There are a few fairly simple and typically easy ways to identify this piping material. Here are a few ways to tell if you have polybutylene in your home.
They are usually a grayish-blue color. This is the most common type. But it is important to note that they can also be a cream color, white or black.
Pipes are only used for water supply. They are not used for drains or vents. This means that it will be connected to the water supplies and not the underside of sinks, tubs or showers.
They are typically about 1/2″ to 1″ in diameter. That’s about the size of a dime or a quarter.
They are very flexible, can curve and feel like smooth plastic.
The only way to know 100% is to find the tag stamped on the pipe that says “PB-2110”
Where Do You Look To Find Polybutylene?
Sometimes it can be difficult to determine what type of piping is in your home. However, there are a few places to check that may help you find out.
Places To Check
The piping runs through the walls and then comes out at specific locations called “stub-outs”. This would be at laundry connections, toilet connections and connections under the sinks.
Many times you can find the plumbing material at the water heater where the pipes connect to the top.
Sometimes you can see piping material in unfinished areas such as garages or under stairs.
Usually there is some sign of the plumbing material in the attic or crawlspace, or both!
On the exterior of the home at the main water shutoff.
At the water meter in the meter base. These are often near the street or sidewalk.
Be careful! Because there are certain cases where the stub-outs are a different material then the plumbing inside the walls. Many times the stub-outs are copper and it is very difficult to see the piping inside the actual wall.
If you think you have polybutylene in your home, you should consider having a home inspection performed or contacting a plumbing specialist.
What Is Wrong With Polybutylene?
Polybutylene has been known to fail due to the chemicals and minerals put into the municipal water. As a result, these additives can cause damage over time to the piping on the inside. Which in turn can cause cracking leading to leaks.
There is no guarantee that polybutylene will leak. It is just like any other system in your home and will wear out over time. It is just more likely than other materials.
This really depends on the situation, if the home is in the middle of a sale. You may have to. Again, there is no guarantee the piping will fail, there is just a high likelihood.
Should I Buy A Home With Polybutylene?
This again depends on the situation. Because due to the uncertain nature of this material, many buyers will ask for the piping to be replaced or for a credit to replace it themselves after they have bought the home. You should ask your Realtor and Home Inspector about their advice on the material itself and about what is in your current contract. Ultimately it is your decision.
Home Owners Insurance & Polybutylene
In many places insurance companies actually require the polybutylene to be replaced before they will approve your policy. This is especially true in Florida. On occasion the insurance will offer a very high rate if it is not replaced. Buyers and homeowners should always be completely honest with the insurance company about the presence of polybutylene. Especially because many will require a 4-Point Inspection before they will even write the policy which will most the time reveal the presence of polybutylene anyway.
When this piping was in use it had many benefits including cost and ease of installation. Unfortunately however, there are still many issues tied to its use.