Waived Diagnostic Fee

For the month of May and June, McCoy’s Heating and Air is waiving their diagnostic fee for all residential HVAC or plumbing repairs.

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Many times, we have customers who call and say “my air conditioning is out… what will it cost to fix it?” This is where the diagnostic fee comes into play. When we come out to your house and run tests on your system to determine the problem, that is the diagnostic test. We are “diagnosing” the problem. It covers a full inspection of your heating and cooling system to find any issues.

Fortunately for you, this fee is being waived for the months of May and June. So give us a call today to come check out your HVAC.

7 Spring/Summer Maintenance Tips for Your HVAC System

Your home’s heating and cooling unit may be a silent support system, but when it comes to your energy bill, its presence is as loud as can be. How loud? According to the Alliance to Save Energy, the average household energy expense is about $2,200 per year, and nearly half that amount can be tied directly to costs associated with heating and/or cooling your home. That’s pretty loud.

The costs associated with controlling the temperature in your home are significant, and if your HVAC system isn't running efficiency, then your costs only go up. Fortunately, ensuring your HVAC system is running at peak performance doesn’t always require an expensive repair bill. There are plenty of things you can do to make sure your HVAC system is up to the task with a little preventative maintenance.

Make a habit of doing these seven things, and your silent energy partner won’t shout so loud when the monthly bill arrives.

  1.  Change the furnace filter. Why is this tip number one? Simple: It’s easy to do and can have a big impact on the health of your HVAC system. A clean filter can reduce your energy usage by 15 percent according to the Alliance to Save Energy. If your filter is temporary, replace it every month on a day you’ll remember — like the first of the month. And if it’s a permanent filter, take it out and rinse it off monthly.

  2.  Clear the drainage hole. Air conditioners commonly have a drainage hole located at their cabinet’s base. The hole is usually located beneath the evaporator fins. In order for your air conditioner to work effectively, this hole must be kept clear. While the hole may be too small for you to clean out manually, a paper clip or small piece of wire works wonderfully.

  3.  Drying out your dehumidifier. Depending on the time of year, a dehumidifier can be invaluable. To be sure it’s working at maximum capacity, remove the outer casing and allow your system to dry. Once the system is dry, vacuum the entire unit to remove excess dirt and debris before putting it back together.

  4.  Remove obstructions around your exterior system. Though the AC is located outside your home, you cannot afford to sacrifice your air conditioner to the elements. Inspect the unit at least twice a month and remove loose vegetation or debris. Standing vegetation surrounding your air conditioner should not be allowed to grow within two feet of the unit. This clear zone allows your air conditioner to pull in the air it needs to control the temperature in your home.

  5.  Clean the bathroom fans. Your bathroom fans work hard all year and this is the perfect time to ensure the work they do is as efficient as possible. Remove the covers from your fans before washing them with soap and water. Once the covers are off, use a toothbrush to clean the fan blades before reapplying the cover. Just make sure the power is off before starting this task.

  6.  Add a smart thermostat. Smart thermostats allow you to program the temperature settings in your home so you can set your home to be warmer during periods when you’re away and more comfortable when you're home. The system will also communicate with you and provide ways of saving even more energy and lowering your monthly bill. Follow its recommendations and you'll get new tips that can help you save even more. 

  7.  Schedule a tuneup. Once you’ve accomplished all the tasks above, it’s time to bring in the experts. The professional at McCoy’s Heating & Air will be able to take a more detailed look at your system and identify problems you may have otherwise missed. Follow them around during their inspection and ask questions. You may just learn some insights that will be invaluable in your ongoing efforts to reduce your energy usage and total bill.

Tips to Make Your HVAC System More Efficient for Earth Day

Earth Day is an annual event celebrated on April 22. It has grown into a global event recognized by countries all over the world. This special day is devoted to the planet’s environment and raises awareness about pollution.

Participating in Earth Day is simple. If you are looking for opportunities to shrink your carbon footprint and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, consider some improvements you can make to your HVAC system. Not only are these small changes great for the environment—they can also make a big difference in your monthly heating and cooling bills.

Here are just a few ways you can make your home HVAC strategy more eco-friendly:

Change your air filters. This is something you should already be doing on a regular basis. Earth Day is a great time to swap them out and establish a habit of changing them as recommended by the manufacturer.

Schedule an HVAC tune-up. A simple tune-up can help boost the energy efficiency of your system. It can also help you catch problems before they progress into something catastrophic.

Inspect your Duct-work. Seal off any leaky areas. Leaky ducts are the most wasteful (and most common) problems in HVAC efficiency.

Replace your Insulation. If you haven’t replaced your attic insulation for many years, it is a great time to evaluate if a replacement would help with efficiency.

Invest in a Programmable Thermostat. With a programmable thermostat, you can “set it and forget it.” You set the temperature based on the times you are normally home, and your habits. Why waste energy heating or cooling a home when you aren’t there? Plus, programmable thermostats can save you around 15% on your energy bills. 

Keep your thermostat a degree or two higher this summer. A small adjustment can have a big impact in the amount of energy saved.

If your HVAC system is 11 years old or older, replacing it may be the best way to boost your household energy efficiency. Many utility providers like TVA are offering great rebates for customers who upgrade to energy efficient systems.

Some of these Earth Day solutions are simple DIY tasks, but others require a professional touch. If you need help getting more out of your HVAC system for your energy dollar, contact us. Show your love for the planet we call home!

8 Plumbing Tips to Save You Money

If you have ever experienced a leaky toilet or broken pipes, you know that plumbing repairs can be extremely expensive. Knowing a handful of preventative tips can help you save money and hassle in the future. It’s better to take care of plumbing problems from the start in order to avoid big repairs that can cost thousands of dollars.

 McCoy’s Heating & Air has gathered a handful of helpful tips to save you money on common plumbing problems. Take a look!

  1. Utilize strainers to prevent hair and debris from clogging drain lines.

  2. Clear your shower and sink drains by using a solution and drain stick regularly.

  3. Do not flush feminine products down the toilet as they can build up and prevent other items from flushing down the pipes.

  4. If your toilet is clogged because of an accumulation of waste, try using a plumbing snake or a closet auger.

  5. If you have a garbage disposal, avoid pouring fats, oils or harsh food items that will clog the drain.

  6. Watch out for leaks and drips. If you do have a broken pipe or leaking toilet, turn off your main water valve to save water/money. The faster you fix a leaky pipe the less you will have to spend in maintenance costs.

  7. Some plumbing problems are do-it-yourself. Before you call a professional, take to the internet to research what the problem is and if you can achieve the solution yourself.

  8. Preventative maintenance costs money but will pay for itself in the long run by catching minor problems and providing the necessary care to keep your plumbing system in good shape.

 If you are experiencing a major plumbing malfunction or a simple leak, McCoy’s Heating & Air can help! We offer a wide variety of residential, commercial and industrial plumbing services to protect your home and business. If you have a puzzling plumbing problem and need assistance, don’t hesitate to call the friendly team at McCoy’s Heating & Air at 731-668-7492.

How to Landscape Around Your A/C Unit

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We get it…outdoor air conditioning condensers are, well, not the most attractive things in the world (although I’m sure many of our techs would beg to differ). They’re big and bulky, taking up valuable space in your yard, and can sometimes bring down the curb appeal of your home. So when homeowners want to hide these unsightly but necessary pieces of equipment, we totally understand. However, when you are landscaping around your condenser unit, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

Give the A/C unit some breathing room. When using fencing or other construction materials to cover your condenser, make sure there is at least 2’ of space surrounding the unit. The 2’ rule should apply to plants as well – any type of plant you opt to use to hide the condenser should leave plenty of space for air to flow freely around the unit, as well as allow a technician easy access in the event that a repair or a replacement is necessary.

Cover the ground around the unit. Wind and rain can cause sand and dirt to get into your condenser, leaving it dirty and creating the potential for clogs. Before you start your landscaping project, cover the space around the unit with mulch, gravel, or rocks. This will help to prevent debris from getting into the unit during bad weather.

Think about severe weather. If your home is new construction, you likely had a conversation about where to put the condenser in the first place – hopefully that conversation took into account severe weather conditions. If so, the condenser is likely shielded from the worst of the winds during a storm. If your home is older, it’s possible that this conversation didn’t happen, and that the unit is open to strong winds and flying debris. If this is the case, take into consideration what weather conditions might be like before deciding on a landscaping plan. You may benefit more from a fence or a portable solution than from trees that could potentially fall and cause damage.

Shading your A/C unit is a good idea. Keeping the condenser itself cooler means that it won’t have to work as hard to cool the air in your home. If your condenser is located in a shady spot already, perfect! If not, you may want to think about adding plants that are tall enough to shade your system.

Watch for foliage fallout. Shade is great, but you may want to be selective with your plant choices. Plants that do a lot of shedding, either of leaves, berries, or fruit may pose some problems, as all of the stuff falling from the plants could cause a clogging issue with the condenser. Does that mean you can use plants that shed leaves, berries or fruit? No, but you’ll definitely need to remember to clear off and around the condenser unit on a regular basis. We recommend evergreen shrubs and trees for the purpose of hiding an unsightly air conditioner year-round.

Think big. Large pots or planters may be your friend when hiding an unsightly air conditioner. Because they are portable, large pots or planters make a great option for hiding a condenser unit. They can be moved when work needs to be done, and you aren’t necessarily stuck with the same plants year after year in this scenario. We loved the idea of planting ornamental grass in large pots to create a screen – it’s perfect.

5 Houseplants for Improving the Air Quality in Your Home

Many posts on this blog focus on improving the air quality in your home. We do all we can to ensure total home comfort with regular cleaning, upgrades and repairs to your system, but, along with this regular maintenance, you might also consider reaching out to mother nature for a helping hand when it comes to improving the air quality in your home.

We would like to believe it’s not true, but the air in our home can contain mold, dust mites, radon (from rocks below the foundation or even granite countertops) and volatile organic compounds such as benzene and formaldehyde. Ongoing exposure to these pollutants can negatively impact our health. However, many plant varieties have been proven to naturally purify the air and compliment a good home comfort system.

Should you decide to tackle your home’s air quality from the ground up, here’s a list of five air-quality conscious plants:

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Garden Mum

The garden mum is a relatively inexpensive plant, and it’s an air-purifying champion. Specifically, the garden mum is one of the best house plants for removing benzene, a solvent commonly used in inks, oils, paints, plastics and rubber. Benzene is also used for manufacturing detergents, pharmaceuticals and dyes.

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Dracaena:

This purifying plant is effective for removing xylene, a solvent found in many common household products such as paints, lacquers, adhesives, rust preventers and thinners. Xylene is even found in permanent magic markers. However, if you have pets, you may want to consider an alternative houseplant, as Dracaena is toxic to cats and dogs.

 

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Bamboo Palm:

A great pet-friendly plant is bamboo palm. This palm variety can grow up to 12 feet tall and is a superstar when it comes to filtering formaldehyde, a pollutant found in virtually all indoor environments. If your home was built prior to the 1970s, you may find foam insulation containing formaldehyde in your basement, crawl spaces or unfinished attic spaces. Formaldehyde is also found in particle board or pressed-wood products, and household basics such as grocery bags, waxed papers, facial tissues and paper towels.

 

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Spider Plant:
Spider plants are also very effective for removing formaldehyde, and as one of the easiest plants to care for, they are a great choice for homeowners who don’t possess a green thumb. Spider plants can help remove the formaldehyde resins found in common household cleaning agents as well as floor covering, carpet backing and permanent-press clothes.

 

Peace Lily
Peace lilies are easy to grow, and they are one of the best house plants for removing trichloroethylene, making them extremely beneficial for your home. Trichloroethylene is a commercial product with a variety of industrial uses, specifically in the metal degreasing and dry-cleaning industries. Trichloroethylene is also used in printing inks, paints, lacquers, varnishes and adhesives.

Many of these houseplants are easy to care for, but make sure you take into account your plant’s specific needs when placing a plant in your home.

According to Esposito Garden Center, when picking the right plant for your home, take note of the plant’s individual light, temperature, humidity and water requirements; this information can usually be found on the plant’s label. A well-rounded fertilizer will also help keep your living “air-purifiers” happy, healthy and looking fresh.

In today’s world, it’s impossible to completely eliminate exposure to these common pollutants. But, a quick trip to your local garden center, combined with regular maintenance on your home comfort system, could prove to be a breath of fresh air. If you have any questions about your home’s air quality, contact McCoy’s Heating & Air Conditioning at 731-668-7492.

Diagnostic Fee Waived

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AC or Heating System Not Working Properly?

McCoy’s Heating & Air will waive your diagnostic charge with the authorization of any repair!

When your AC or heating system stops working, you need to get to the root of the problem to make sure you find a solution that will last. McCoy’s Heating & Air will waive the fees for your HVAC system diagnostic with the authorization of a major repair.

Trained Technicians

McCoy’s Heating & Air has NATE certified technicians, which is the highest level of certification in the HVAC industry. They’re knowledgeable about factory standards for all major HVAC brands. They will diagnose every aspect of your heating and cooling system.

Reasons to Get Your HVAC System Diagnosed

An HVAC system diagnostic check can be a beneficial part of preventative maintenance, but it’s especially important if you’re noticing a change in your unit’s performance. Here are some of the warning signs that you’re overdue for a diagnostic check:

  • Abnormally high energy bills

  • Failure to reach desired temperature on thermostat

  • System makes unusual or especially loud noises

  • Unit won’t start or stop when it should

  • Blower or fan problems in your outdoor unit

  • Rubbing noises from moving parts in outdoor unit

  • Longer running time than before to reach desired temperature

  • Unusual readings or lights on thermostat interface

Trustworthy HVAC System Diagnostic

As a family-owned business since 1981 our vision has been to provide the best client experience and deliver the highest quality products and services available. McCoy’s Heating & Air aims to embody unrivaled craftsmanship and knowledge in the HVAC industry. Fast forward four decades, we are the Jackson Sun Readers’ Choice awards winner for over 10 years in a row and have over 500 5-Stars reviews!

To get your heating and air conditioning system diagnosed by the most reliable company in West Tennessee, reach out to McCoy’s Heating & Air. We even offer special financing for major repairs with approved credit.

Restoring Your HVAC After Flooding

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Flood recovery is on everyone’s minds after flood watch in West Tennessee. Whenever a home is flooded, there’s a lot of work that has to be done to make it safely habitable again, in part due to the infectious microorganisms like bacteria and fungus that floodwaters carry. The HVAC system, in particular, generally requires major remediation or total replacement in order to make sure that the home’s air will be safe and healthy to breathe.

AFTER THE FLOOD

After the floodwaters have subsided, the first step in flood recovery for HVAC is determining how much damage has occurred and whether the system needs to be completely replaced or can be cleaned and repaired. The Air Conditioning, Heating, & Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) recommends that flood damaged HVAC systems should always be replaced, but depending on the amount of damage and the cost of repairs, some homeowners choose to remediate their system instead.

Sometimes it can be difficult to determine just how much damage has been done. For instance, while a gas furnace may look fine after floodwaters recede, AHRI points out that if any moisture has gotten inside of the valves or controls, it can lead to corrosion over time. Corrosion due to moisture can be a problem for electric furnaces too.

AHRI does provide the reassuring note that heat pumps and air conditioners are generally sealed systems, so as long as that seal hasn’t been broken, the refrigerant system may be fine after flooding. However, it goes on to say that if the flood water managed to shift either unit of a split system, even if only a small amount, then that sealed system may have broken open, allowing refrigerant out and flood waters in. That will require major repairs or replacement.

SHOULD I CLEAN THE UNIT OR REPLACE IT?

If homeowners decide to clean and repair their HVAC system rather than replacing it, then the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide detailed instructions for the restoration of HVAC systems after flooding.

The CDC and AHRI both strongly recommend that all work be performed by licensed and trained HVAC professionals because of the serious health hazards involved. To begin that restoration, even if the air ducts and HVAC unit themselves don’t have to be replaced, all flooded insulation that’s around any part of the HVAC system must be removed and disposed of, along with any HVAC filters. Insulation and filters simply cannot be cleaned sufficiently to make them safe again.

The CDC states that the entire system must be cleaned and disinfected. Dirt and debris must be vacuumed out of the unit and air ducts using specially filtered vacuums. Once the debris is cleared, all surfaces must be thoroughly disinfected to kill off any microorganisms that remain. AHRI notes that fully cleaning the ductwork requires taking it apart, cleaning and disinfecting, and then putting back together again. The cleaning must be done carefully and in a specific order to ensure that already-cleaned areas don’t get re-contaminated with microorganisms from parts that haven’t been cleaned yet. Again, that’s why this is work for trained professionals!

Once the entire system has been disinfected, the CDC explains that it must be rinsed out with clean water. As part of the process, the fan should also be removed from the unit to be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, then dried out and tested before it’s put back in place. After all cleaning and rebuilding of the system, including replacing insulation and filters, has been completed, the system must be checked by a trained professional. Then it should be run on its normal settings for two to three days to see if any bad odors persist. These odors can be a sign of a missed area that still needs to be cleaned.

Finally, after all cleaning and restoration and testing is complete, and the home is considered habitable again, the CDC recommends that the HVAC system be checked frequently to ensure that everything is working properly and that no microorganisms, such as mold, have started to grow due to any lingering moisture.

FLOOD INSURANCE AND FEMA

As you can see, restoring a home’s HVAC system after flooding is not a small job, so whether the system is remediated or completely replaced, it can be very expensive. If you have flood insurance, it may pay for the restoration of your home’s HVAC.

If you don’t have flood protection on your home insurance tat’s where FEMA steps in. Homeowners in a federally declared disaster area can apply to FEMA for grants or loans that may cover the cost of replacing or cleaning and testing HVAC systems damaged by flooding. That’s because part of FEMA’s mission is to make homes in disaster areas habitable again (which doesn’t always mean completely restoring them to their pre-disaster state). FEMA considers working HVAC systems as necessary to making a home habitable—and we certainly agree!

IN CONCLUSION

Hopefully, you and your family will never have to deal with flooding like we’ve seen in West Tennessee in 2010. But less severe floods can still cause damage to homes and HVAC systems. If your HVAC system is ever contaminated by flood water, make sure to call a trusted, licensed HVAC contractor to get your restoration done right. Your family’s health depends on it.

Preparing for Winter Storms

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In West Tennessee, we have come to expect freezing temperatures to start in January and can go until April. Freezing temperatures means ice on the road, close schools, power outage, but more importantly the furnace suddenly going out or a pipe burst. It’s important to keep yourself and your home ready for the unexpected and ensure you’re preparing for seasonal ice in advance.

In the coming weeks, gather emergency kit essentials:

  • Have an ice-melting agent such as rock salt available for your driveway

  • Sturdy shovels that are easily accessible to clear your driveway

  • Flashlights in a few areas of your home

  • Candles and matches

  • Extra firewood if you have a wood burning stove or fireplace and portable space heaters

You should also ensure that you have plenty of clothing for layering. Remember that in the event of power loss and being stuck in the cold, you should avoid sweating and maintain a comfortable body temperature by adding and removing layers as time passes.

  • Keep the water in your home running during severe winter storms. Keeping all taps running at just a trickle will help to prevent your pipes from freezing.

  • Check your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors.

  • Fully stock your First Aid Kit with:

    • Medication

    • Bandages

    • Compresses

    • Ointments

  • You can even add extra batteries and a portable radio near your First Aid Kit so you have everything accessible in the same area of your home.

  • Fully charge portable battery packs for your cellphone in case your phone battery is low when the power goes out.

  • Be sure to have those extra things your family specifically needs, like dog food or baby formula.

  • Store at least 3 days’ worth of non-perishable food and water for each member of your family.

  • Avoid going out when you hear warnings of winter storms, but keep your car’s gas tank full in case you run out of power and need to leave.

McCoy’s Heating & Air hope you keep these tips in mind and stay safe this winter by preparing for the occasional cold temperatures and ice

Stay warm this season!

Be Prepared for Cold Weather with a Winter Plumbing Inspection

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When the full force of winter weather finally descends upon West Tennessee region, there are many home maintenance tasks to think about. From having your annual furnace tune up to ensuring your emergency kit is well stocked in advance of any winter storms. An equally important but often overlooked task is to schedule a winter plumbing inspection.

Importance of Winter Plumbing Inspection
Proper plumbing is important going into the winter season for a number of reasons:

Frozen Pipes: When pipes freeze, they often burst, causing a lot of damage that is expensive to repair. During a winter plumbing inspection, a certified plumber will be able to spot any trouble areas and make recommendations to help ensure that all your pipes are properly insulated.

Hot Water Tank Inspection: On a cold, snowy day the last thing you want to do is have to endure an ice cold shower. With a professional inspection, a plumber will assess your water heater and make recommendations for repairs or replacement to keep your showers hot all winter long.

Prevent Clogs: You’ll want to ensure that your pipes will be able to handle the increase in demand. Friendly Reminder: Never pour fat or grease down your sink—it can accumulate in your drain and cause clogs and backups.

Our Whole-Home Plumbing Inspection is only $50. During this inspection, our certified plumbers will inspect your water pressure, kitchen, bathrooms, laundry room, hot water tank, and main shutoff valve to ensure that your plumbing system is ready for whatever winter brings.

Schedule a service appointment with one of our plumbing professionals today and stay ahead of winter plumbing problems.

McCoy’s Heating and Air has provided reliable plumbing, heating, cooling and air quality service and installation in the West Tennessee areas since 1981. We are available for any of your plumbing needs and are happy to help you keep your pipes working all winter long.

9 Easy Ways To Keep Dogs Warm In Winter

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Few things are more unpleasant than feeling chilled to the core, especially when you are unable to do anything about it.

Unfortunately for dogs, many of them find themselves in this position when their humans forget to think of their basic needs… like “Is my dog warm enough!”

So here are some practical ideas to consider if you think your dog may be getting cold during the day or night, and how to keep them warm…

1. On sleeping outside…

Not all dogs are designed for the cold night air…and if freezing temperatures hit then some dogs do not have the ability to stay warm… Period. So if you have a dog who didn’t originate from the colder climates then give them a bed inside the house.

2. Kennels

Every dog that’s left outside should be given the choice of using a kennel. If they don’t need it then great, but many will if it really gets cold. Kennels should be watertight and protect from driving rain at the front. Consider the use of vertical plastic strips if water is getting in (or look for a kennel with a bigger roof out front).

3. Thick blankets

Every dog’s bed should have enough blankets or covers to keep warm. These could be old sacks, hay, or soft beautiful blankets! Wool blankets will keep much more heat than most. This may even be an old sweater that you’re thinking of throwing away!

4. Get your dog off the ground

The ground can suck a lot of heat out of a dog so get them off the ground. This may be a simple dog bed, or even a wooden pallet with a good thick cover over the top.

5. The doughnut ring

For maximum heat retention place the blankets in a doughnut shape with space for your dog to curl up in the center. With protection from the cold on all sides (and underneath) they only lose heat upwards rather than all directions…

6. Doggy Jackets

Some dogs love them, some hate them… Even if you have tried one before it may be worth giving it a second go.

7. Inside the home…

Of course if your dog is sleeping inside with you then they are probably going to be pretty warm. Many dogs would do anything to be allowed to sleep inside and keep warm. Maybe give it some thought.

8. Wrapping them up at night

I’m not sure how it has ended up that every night all 4 of my dogs get wrapped up! (I shall catch it on camera one night) I’m sure it’s because it makes them feel warm and safe… Something to consider if it’s cold!

9. Shelter

Every dog needs shelter from the rain so if you haven’t already put some sort of shelter together then today is the day. Doesn’t have to be flash but they need something…!

Hoping these tips will help you love your dogs even more this winter…

Stay warm everybody!

Six Ways to Stay Warm without Central Heating

Whether you’re looking for ways to save a few bucks or to be kinder to the environment, these are some fun tips to fight the cold.

Here are a few extremely DIY ways to save on your heating costs this winter.

1. COVER THE WINDOWS:

Feel your windows, if they're cold, that means they're making your whole house cold. The smart, cost-effective solution is to insulate your doors and windows for extreme weather conditions. Proper insulation cuts your electric bill and makes your house more energy-efficient. If you don’t have time or short on money then nail heavy blankets over the windows. One important tip: make sure the windows are shut all the way before you cover them.

2. HOT WATER BOTTLE:

They're not just for sick cartoon characters any more! Water has a high heat capacity, which means it takes a lot to change its temperature. A bottle of warm water will hold its heat for a while even in a cold house, acting as a very cheap mini-furnace. The rubber bottles made for this purpose may be better insulated and more comfortable to hug, but any bottle will do in a pinch. A quick and dirty DIY cover made out of an old sweater improves warmth storage and snuggliness.

3. HOT BEVERAGES:

This one is hardly a secret, but cup after cup of tea, cocoa, and/or coffee are an integral part of any winter survival plan. It seems important to mention here that, despite what you may have heard, liquor doesn't actually make you warmer. However, for those so inclined, the right drink can make you feel warmer. A cup of just about any kind of non-fruity tea with a shot of whiskey combines the best of both worlds.

4. FORTS:

Living-room forts should be familiar to anyone who has ever been or met a child, but here's how they work: gather as many pillows and blankets as you can from around the house and pile them into an inhabitable structure. They're not only a fun way to make a mess of the house, forts can keep you warm for free. As long as you're willing to confine yourself to one room that you leave for food and cocoa, a fort is a great way to make a final stand against the cold since it concentrates all the available insulation in a smaller space. Fort building is also a fun group activity to combat Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as seasonal depression.

5. LAYERS:

Anyone who puts on one sweater and then wants to turn on the heat just isn't trying hard enough. If one doesn't work, try two, three, seven sweaters or pairs of socks. This is basically the same operating principle as step four: concentrate available warming materials. If you're cold under a blanket or two, add more. If you've nailed all your extra blankets to the walls in accordance with tip one or constructed them into a fort as in tip four, put a few clean towels in between layers. Sure, you may not be able to put your arms at your sides wearing all your flannel and sweaters at the same time, but you won't be cold.

6. COMPANY:

The most efficient, least costly, and most fun way to stay warm in the face of winter's chill is to hang out with friends and family. Besides distracting you from the cold, people produce their own heat. Crowd everyone into a small room or a fort in accordance with step four and feel the literal and figurative warmth. A concentrated crowd can turn an icebox into a party sauna, and everyone can bring their own sweaters and blankets, increasing the collection of warmth beyond your physical into your social network. All the hot water bottles in the world don't hold a candle to sharing the cold with others.

Follow These Steps To Winterize Your Hose Bib

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As we’re nearing the winter months and our first frost, it’s time to disconnect your garden hose(s) and turn off the water to your hose bibb (also commonly known as an outdoor faucet). It’s best to disconnect the hose early — one night of freezing weather can cause a break in the pipes.

In order to prevent damages to your home and belongings this winter, we’ve provided you with step-by-step instructions to properly winterize your hose bibb:

  1. Regardless of what kind of hose bibb you have, frost proof or not, it’s important to remove your garden hoses from the spigot first.- After you remove the hose, untie any kinks or knots, and then drain all of the water out completely.- When the water is drained and the kinks are out, wind the hose in a circular shape and store it in a warmer location like your basement or heated garage. Sometimes garages and outdoor sheds reach freezing temperatures, which can ruin the hose.

  2. The next step is to inspect your outdoor faucet for leaks. It’s important to repair any leaks or drips you find. It doesn’t matter how much water is leaking or the speed of the drip, the water can build up and freeze in the pipe or the fixture causing a major mess.

  3. Once you’ve removed the hose and inspected the area for leaks and drips, it’s time to turn off your inside supply line. Once you’ve shut that off, make sure you turn on your outdoor faucet to drain the existing water — this is very important. If you have a hose bibb that is not frost-proof, the best way to do this is to shut off that line, if possible, and drain it down. If you can’t isolate the water supply to the hose bibb to shut it off be sure to use extra insulation.

  4. For extra protection, consider installing a hose bib cover or a frost-proof hose bibb. The covers are typically made of thick foam so it’s effective keeping most of the cold away from the valve.

Once you’ve completed the steps above, your garden hose and hose bibb should be ready for the cold weather.

We know the last thing you need to worry about this winter is a plumbing issue, so if you’re interested in installing a frost-proof hose bibb, give us a call today!

Seasonal Plumbing Tips for Fall

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Chilly fall temperatures serve as a polite reminder that when winter arrives it can be sudden, often leaving homeowners unprepared for the troubles associated with extreme cold. A few simple plumbing preparations now will help prevent headaches and costly repairs throughout the winter months.

  • Disconnect outside water hoses. If left connected, water in the hoses can freeze and expand causing faucets and connecting pipes inside your home to freeze and break.

  • Make sure outside faucets aren't dripping or leaking. Make the necessary repairs or call a plumber before freezing temperatures arrive. Be aware that when pipes freeze, water pressure builds causing cracks - no matter if the pipe is made of plastic, copper or steel. Even a tiny crack can unleash enough water to cause serious damage or flooding.

  • If your home is equipped with interior shut-off valves leading to outside faucets, close them and drain water from outside lines.

  • Cover outside faucets using a Styrofoam faucet insulation kit available at home centers.

  • Insulate pipes in unheated areas, such as garages or crawl spaces. Apply heat tape or thermostat-controlled heat cables around pipes that are exposed and prone to freezing.

  • Seal leaks around doors and windows to reduce cold air penetration.

  • Your water heater works harder during winter months. Flush it out and remove sediment buildup, which causes corrosion, shortens life span and reduces heating efficiency. Drain several gallons from the faucet near the bottom of the tank. Connect a hose to the faucet and direct water into a nearby drain. Check your water heater manufacturer 's website for specific instructions concerning your make and model.

  • Carefully test the water heater's pressure relief valve (Danger: water is very hot) by lifting up on the lever and letting it snap back. The valve should allow a burst of hot water into the drainpipe. If not, call a professional to have a new valve installed. Caution: if your water heater is more than five years old and the pressure relief valve has never been tested, you can actually cause a leak by testing older valves that have corroded or stuck seals. A plumber should be consulted.

  • Check the temperature setting on your water heater's thermostat. Set at 120°F for optimum performance.

  • Clear leaves and debris from outside gutters and downspouts to ensure easy drainage when water freezes and thaws throughout the winter season.

  • Inspect and clean sump pump and pit. Pumps exposed to extreme cold can freeze, preventing the pump from operating.

  • When leaving home for extended periods, shut off the main water valve and drain the system by opening faucets at the highest and lowest points of the house. Make sure the heat is left on and set no lower than 55°F.

  • Caution! These plumbing tips are intended for homes that will be inhabited throughout the winter months. Many additional steps should be taken to winterize vacation properties that will be left unattended for weeks or months at a time. Seek professional help for winterizing such properties.

Why Regular Furnace Cleaning and Maintenance Are a Must

Most homeowners have a strict maintenance schedule they follow to keep their home clean and their landscape maintained, but despite their diligence, they may be forgetting to care for one important thing.

If you have a furnace, it should be a part of your regular maintenance routine. Furnace cleaning is important throughout the year, but it becomes especially important before the winter.