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Know Where Your Shut Off Valves are Located & How to Operate Them

Know Where Your Shut Off Valves are Located & How to Operate Them

It is important as a homeowner to know where your all the shut off valves for your home are located and how to operate them.

Water:

For your water supply lines it is important to locate your main shut off valve.  Simply turn your shut off valve till it is perpendicular to the pipe. This will stop the flow of water to the entire house. You should be familiar with the individual shut off valves in your home as well. They are known as isolating valves and they are at your washing machine, sinks and toilets. You will want to know how to shut off these valves in case of a leak or if water starts shooting out of a pipe. The sooner you stop the water the less damage may occur. Exterior faucets may also have isolating valves but because of their exterior nature these valves may not be located by the valve itself. Instead they can be located near an interior sink or by the main shut off valve.

Gas:

You should also know the location of your gas shut off valve. However if you notice a gas leak you should leave your house immediately and call your utility company. In many homes the shut off valve for your gas is located at the meter. A wrench is needed to turn the gas off and on. Some homes have a second gas shut off valve that is similar to water shut off valve. Isolated gas shut off valves have a lever that rotates ninety degrees. When the lever is in line with the pipe the gas is flowing. When it is perpendicular to the pipe the gas is shut off.  There may also be smaller levers that will feed to individual appliances in your home.

Appliances:

Some of your appliances may also have shut off valves at the units themselves. If you shut off the gas supply on appliances keep in mind that the pilot light will go out. This includes furnaces, gas fireplaces and hot water heaters. Once you turn the gas back on you will need to relight the pilot light on each appliance.

How to Fix Nail Pops

How to Fix Nail Pops

If you notice small bumps protruding from your wall this is likely what contractors call a nail pop.  As new homes settle drywall shrinks causing nails or screws to protrude from the drywall.

Here is a list of supplies needed to fix nail pops.

  • Phillips screw driver
  • nail punch
  • hammer
  • quick dry spackling compound
  • putty knife
  • sanding block
  • painting supplies

You need to first find out if the protrusion is caused by a screw or a nail.  You can do this by pressing a Phillip’s screw driver into the center of the protrusion.  If it’s a screw the screwdriver will set into the head of the screw and turn letting you know it is a screw.  Simply turn it until it is slightly recessed into the wall.  If the pop is caused by a nail take your nail punch and press over the opening and tap the end of the nail punch with your hammer until the nail is slightly recessed into the wall.

Next apply a layer of quick dry spackling compound over the surface.  Allow this to dry and then sand the surface.  You may need to apply another layer of compound and sand it again.  Once you have allowed this to completely dry you can apply fresh paint over it.

If the nail pop is in the ceiling you will need to set the original nail and then drive in a second nail approximately one inch from the old one or the nail pop could reoccur.

How to Find a Stud in the Wall

How to Find a Stud in the Wall

As a home owner you will often times need to know how to find the studs are located in your walls. Generally studs are spaced sixteen to twenty-four inches away from each other.

Different Methods for Locating Your Studs

There are a few different methods to locating your studs. The most accurate way is with a battery operated stud finder. First make sure your stud finder is calibrated. Hold down the calibration button while sliding it along the wall until the lights are green and it quits beeping. Slowly slide it along the wall, when it starts to beep it is the beginning of the stud and when it stops you have crossed over. You should slide this over the area a couple of times until you locate the center of the stud and then mark it.

Another way is to place a flashlight on its side against the wall.  Look for where the light changes or you see a slight difference in the wall texture. This indicates where the drywall seams are screwed into the studs. You can follow that seam down the wall and the line should be consistently there and may run into the baseboard.  You can check this by the nails in the baseboards that they may have been filled in with wood filler.

If you do not have either tool you can knock on the wall. It will have a hollow tone. As you knock over a stud, the sound will become denser.

How to Adjust a Toilet for the Best Flush

How to Adjust a Toilet for the Best Flush
Do you have a toilet that always seems to be running? This is sometimes caused by a fill valve that has been set too high, which causes the water level to be higher than the overflow tube.

Toilet Fill Valves

Toilet fill valves control the flow of water from the supply lines to refill the tank between flushes. Fill valves typically come in two types. One contains an arm with a float connected to the top of the valve. The other type contains a floating cylinder that moves up and down the valve body.
All fill valves are adjustable. Some can be adjusted with a screwdriver and some by moving the float up or down manually. Sometimes there is a spindle you can screw up or down to adjust.

Water Level

If the water level is too low, it may cause a weak or improper flush. You’ll want to check to see that the water fills to the appropriate line in the tank and readjust if needed. Sometimes the fill valve is adjusted too low and the tank does not fill up with enough water. Those same adjustments you made to lower the water level will fill the tank to the correct height for a good flush.

Water Supply

Check to see if there is an adequate water supply to the toilet. Check the outlet on the angle stop to see if it is a ½” iron pipe connection. A toilet flush requires the additional water that enters the tank once the flush begins. When the water supply lines are too small, they restrict new water from entering the tank fast enough to aid in the flush.

Finally, sometimes the toilet starts to flush but during the process it stops suddenly when a flapper valve reseals onto the flush valve seat. If this happens, usually the flapper valve is not buoyant long enough during the flushing process. Replacing the flapper valve should fix the problem.
Sometimes after all of the adjusting that you can do, you still have a flush that is not strong enough to clean the bowl. Try this. Pour a five gallon pail of hot water into the toilet bowl. Add some Drano. Then go to the water tank and add some Dawn dish washing liquid into the fill valve. Let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes and flush. If it is still too weak, you may have to do it again.

Changing a Furnace Air Filter

air filter

Regularly changing the air filter in your furnace can improve the air quality in your home and improve your HVAC system efficiency.  It is recommended that you change your air filter every three month.  However, if you have pets, smoke or have allergies you should change your filter more frequently.

Location of filter:

Before you purchase your replacement filter you need to determine the location of your filter. You then need to determine what type of filter and the size of the filter you need. The most common location of the filter is between the furnace air handler and the return air vent. Some furnaces have filters inside the air handler and the least common location is in the return air vents. The size measurements of the filter should be on the side of the existing filter. If they are not then you will have to use a tape measure and measure it.  You will need to measure the length, width and depth of the existing filter. Be sure to write the measurements down.

Type of filter:

There are several different types of filter available. Either the light weight or the high efficiency filters. For even better quality there are filters with the HEPA filtration and allergy reduction technology. These filters come in one inch as well as thicker two to four inch versions.  Less common types are electrostatic and re-useable washable filters.

When to change filter:

When you are ready to change your furnace filter turn your furnace thermostat to the off setting. Remove the old filter being careful to not knock the old dust off of the filter. Before you install the new filter write the date on it for a quick reference in the future. Insert the new filter and make sure the arrows are pointing in the direction the airflow flows through the system. Make sure your filter is secure and then turn your furnace thermostat back on.

 

Easy Steps For Tiling Your Kitchen Floor

Tiling is one job that most people would rather not learn how to do since it can be scary that you may make some mistakes in the process. However, it is actually a lot easier than what many might think. In fact, it can save you a whole lot of money in contrast to hiring a professional for the job. As long as you know the do’s and don’ts then this task is a no-brainer for you.

Choosing Your Tiles

To start off, you have to choose the tiles that you want to use. Tiles come in different sizes, colors, textures, materials and finishes. It can also depend on how you want the room to be and the overall design and feel of the room.

 Measurements and Computations

You will need to measure out your floor area. You will also have to deliberate on whether you want the tiles to go under any kind of fittings and units. Generally, it is better if you tile under the fittings. This is recommended so that if you have to move appliances in the future, like a fridge, then you do not have to lift it up and over the edge of your new tiles.

 Application

Be sure that you have an even coverage of adhesive placed on your sub-floor. The type of adhesive to use would depend on your sub-floor or the surface you are tiling. If it is a concrete floor, then you can use a rapid setting adhesive. However, be sure that you do not spread too much of the mixture at once, since it can set in as fast as 30 minutes.

If it is a wooden sub-floor, then you need a flexible adhesive. The bag or tub should say if the adhesive is flexible. If you have slate, then you need to use gray adhesive. If you’ll be using marble, then you need a white adhesive. This is so that no color coming from the underside would bleed and ruin your design.

Grouting

When you are done fixing your tiles on the floor, and after you have allowed enough time for it to dry, then you will have to do some grouting. If you have natural tiles, like marble, slate, limestone, granite, travertine, and porcelain, you need to seal them first before you can grout them. You have to use a specialized impregnating sealer so that they will be waterproof and can be more resistant to dirt and staining.

Mix up the grout and apply it using a grout float to your tiles. Try to work over the gaps until they’re all filled. If you have white marble tiles, then you need to use a white grout instead of gray since the gray kind can stain the marble.

To finish off, wipe out the excess grouts that are bulging from your tiles using a sponge. Also, use a grout finisher or your finger to smooth out the grout lines. After this, stand back, relax as you wait for your work to dry up!

Basic Faucet Replacement

Faucet replacement is a very easy task that anyone can do. Here are the basics that you should know about faucet replacement.

Being Prepared and Choosing Your Faucet

You should pick out a new faucet and have it on hand before you start to remove your old faucet. Having it on hand before removing the old one will make things easier and faster for you.  For your bathtubs and sinks, you can get single or double handled faucets. Generally, faucets have a standard size regarding their hook-ups, depending on their use. For kitchen faucets, you can usually find units with an 8 inch hookup. Bathroom vanity faucets usually come in 4 inches, while bathtubs come in 8 inches.

Tools That You Need

wrenches

channel lock pliers

or a basin wrench

Steps to a New Faucet

First, you should turn off all water supply lines that are linked to your faucet.  Once you have shut off your water supply you can remove the supply lines coming from both sides of your faucet. After that you should remove the large retainer nuts that are holding your faucet to the sink. When you are done with this, remove the old faucet from the sink.  Clean up the area where the old unit was. Once you are done cleaning up, get your new unit and place it in the holes. Then you can tighten the retaining nuts and hook up your water supply lines. Use plumbers putty or thread tape to prevent leaks or dripping on the joints, specifically in between the faucet and sink, or the supply line and the faucet. Turn on your water supply and do some tests for leaks and other defects. If you have some leaks, try reinstalling it again and make sure that you tightly place each part where they should be.

Three Ways To Help Maintain The Efficiency Of Your Air Conditioning Condenser Unit

air-conditioning unit

Today, we are going to take a look at three ways to help maintain the efficiency of your air conditioning condenser unit. These tips will help keep your home cool during those hot summer days and can also help lower your monthly utility bill.

Top 3 Tips To Keep Your Home Cool

1.) The first step is to make sure there is proper air flow to the unit. To do this make sure plants are trimmed back two feet in all directions.  Also remove any mulch that has built up around the unit.

2.) Now check to see if the fins on the coil are straight. The fins are the thin parallel metal strips on the unit. They are commonly bent by weed eaters and hail. Bent fins can impede air flow to the unit. To correct the fins, simply take a butter knife or other thin utensil and gently bend them to allow proper air flow.

3.) Finally, it’s time to clean the unit. The first step is to shut off the power. This is important and is done by removing the pull switch from the service disconnect. When the power is off, use your garden hose to clean off debris.  This may prolong the life of your unit by making it making the cooling process easier.

After it is clean, restore the power to the unit and enjoy your more efficient and cost effective air conditioning.

 

How to Unclog A Slow Sink Drain

Pea Trap

If your bathroom sink is slow to drain you may need to unclog the U shaped drain under your sink called a pea trap as well as remove the plunger to clean out the drain. The tools you will need are a small bucket and a large sized bucket as well as an old toothbrush. You should remove everything from under your sink to ensure you have enough room to work.

The first thing you will need to do is to place the small bucket under the pea trap to catch any water that may still be in the drain. You will want to remove the pea trap that is the U shaped pipe under the sink.  There will be two nuts that you should be able to unscrew by hand unless there is a lot of buildup on the nuts.  It there is build up you will also need an adjustable wrench. Loosen the nuts and slowly remove the pea trap from the drain.  Be careful because any water remaining in the drain will start dripping into the bucket. Clear away any visible debris from the drain. Then take the pea trap to a different sink and clear out any remaining debris. Then scrub the pea trap with the old toothbrush and rinse it out well.

Now remove the plunger from the sink by unscrewing the rod attachment from the back of the drain under the sink. Pull the rod out of the attachment. The plunger should be able to be removed from the sink basin now. Look down through the drain even if you can see all the way through the drain may still have hair and other particles in it. With the large bucket under the drain run a small stream of water and gently scrub the drain with a tooth brush. Do this at the basin entrance and from the bottom of the drain. Put the plunger back into the basin carefully aligning the notched opening to the back of the sink.  Then insert the rod back through the opening in the drain and then tighten the nut. Place the cleaned pea trap back onto the drain and tighten the nuts.

Attic Renovations That Give You a Big Return on Investment

attic-bedroom

Whether you are selling your home now, planning to in the future, or are just looking to increase the value of your home, you can do so with relatively simple attic renovations.

One of the most recommended upgrades for attics is finishing the space so that it can be an additional useable and livable area in your home. Doing so can increase the value of your home, giving you an excellent return on investment.

  1. Finished Attic

There are many things you can do with a finished attic. Depending on the size and shape of the room you have to work with, a finished attic could act as an additional office, playroom, man cave, sitting area, or living room.

  • Attic Bedroom

Renovating your attic into another bedroom is an excellent way to use the space and get a big return on your investment. Another finished bedroom is always a perk when it comes to the value of your home, and a creative use of attic space as another bedroom is a great seller.

  • Efficiency Apartment

If you really want a huge return on your investment, go the extra mile when renovating your attic and add a bathroom and even a kitchenette to the space. In doing so, you are creating a second complete living space that can be used as an efficiency apartment. The extra bathroom and kitchen area will add extra value to your home and is extremely useful as well.

 

  1. Smaller Projects with Big Payback

If you’re wanting to make some changes to your attic but are not wanting to complete a project as big as finishing the space and making it another living space, or if your attic is not large enough for another room, there are other options.

  • Attic Insulation

Redoing the insulation in your attic and using Energy Star rated insulation products can increase the efficiency of your home, which can save you a lot of money in heating and cooling costs. The more energy efficient your home is, the more money you save.

Approximately 40% of home energy loss occurs through the roof of your home. You can cut this down exponentially by properly insulating unused attic space. Make sure to add insulation not only along the attic ceiling and walls, but also along the floor to seal off the attic from the living areas of your home.

  • Attic Fans

Another way to save a lot of money with a small renovation is to add an attic fan for home cooling. These fans circulate and disperse cooled air throughout your home, and in most climates can reduce the need to run your air conditioning systems.

All of these attic renovations can provide you with a large return on your investment. Finishing your attic and converting it into a usable living space can greatly increase the value of your home, and energy saving smaller renovations can save you a lot of money on heating and cooling.

Another helpful tip from Choice Home Inspection Services; call us for all of your home inspection needs (770) 490-6911.