Infrared Heaters: How to Keep Your Home & Save Money

For many homeowners, winter is a frigid time of year, full of extreme weather and very low temperatures. Unfortunately, the cost of heating your home using your central air can be rather expensive, especially when you think about all the empty rooms that you’re paying to keep warm, yet aren’t using. These extra energy costs can be worrisome for families on a budget or trying to lower their utility costs.

Thankfully, we may have a solution for you. By following a supplemental heating strategy in your home, you will be able to save on your overall energy costs, without sacrificing your overall comfort levels.

Infrared heaters are a great option to help you accomplish this. They are a comparatively inexpensive yet effective way to keep your home or office warm.

How Do Infrared Heaters Work?

In a nutshell, an infrared heater, or “heat lamp,” uses a process called electromagnetic radiation, in which an entity with a higher temperature transfers heat energy to an entity with a lower temperature. While the term electromagnetic radiation might sound scary or dangerous, it is perfectly safe for use when it comes to infrared heaters.

This type of heater actually projects out infrared light, which we humans lack the ability to see. Though it is invisible, things like our skin, clothes, and furniture absorb the light, and heat up.

In general, objects in the direct line of an infrared heater (infrared light projection) heat up very quickly, while surrounding objects will take slightly longer to warm up and raise the overall temperature of the area.

Remembering that infrared heat is actually light, some larger and more industrial versions of these heaters use a type of gold coating on the tube that reflects the radiation. The element Gold has exceptional oxidation resistance, and reflects approximately 95% of infrared light. This effectively doubles the amount of radiation projected outward.




Types of Infrared Heaters

Infrared heaters vary on the type of fuel or energy needed to power them. Most personal infrared heaters are electric, but propane and natural gas-powered are fairly common as well. All of these heaters are extremely efficient, and project nearly 100% of the heat they generate.

Material

This type of heater also varies when it comes to the material used in their construction. Larger infrared heaters are usually metal or ceramic, and are used mostly for commercial or industrial purposes.

Personal-sized infrared heaters can be metal, ceramic, or made of different types of composite plastics that have the ability to withstand high temperatures. Many personal heaters are made with a combination of these materials, with metal being the most common as the reflectivity of the material may help intensify the heat.

Aesthetics & Decor

As far as aesthetics are concerned, rest assured that infrared heaters have made great strides to fit into various styles of interior décor. Recently, many personal versions have been made to look very stylish and complement their surroundings.

Filament

Still, another way to classify different types of infrared heaters is the material used for the filament. The most effective and most common filament material used for the electric-style heaters is tungsten.

Tungsten has the highest melting point of any metal, which means it can stay strong and withstand extremely hot temperatures.

Alternative filament materials used for lower-temperatures include various alloys of iron, carbon aluminum and chromium. Carbon filament in particular is becoming more popular among personal infrared heaters due to its ability to heat up very quickly.

What Are the Benefits of Infrared Heaters?

Making the decision to use an infrared heater comes with several advantages over central heating, as well as other types of space heaters.

  1. Fast, safe, directed heating.
  2. Silent: They just radiate light.
  3. No reduction in oxygen or humidity levels, which can dry out skin and sinuses.
  4. Infrared heat promotes healthy blood circulation.
  5. No UV radiation.
  6. No pollutants or toxic by-products.
  7. No long fuel lines, open flames or carbon-type combustion.
  8. Extremely efficient and inexpensive to operate: Almost 100% of the heat created is transferred.
  9. Very little maintenance – No moving parts, no motor to wear down, no air filters or lubrication required.



Are Infrared Heaters Safe?

Although infrared heating is considered to be safe among consumers and professionals alike, they still emit heat and can be extremely hot at very close ranges. This means caution should always be exercised if the heater is operating around children or pets.

Much like any other type of heater, proper safety precautions should always be followed when operating. This would include avoid leaving your heater on when you go to bed or leave the room for an extended period of time.

It’s also worth noting that this type of heat can be started and stopped very quickly, as it is literally switching a light on and off. This may be considered to be a safety feature for some homeowners.

Lastly, remember that infrared heating is largely directional and focused. A rise in ambient temperature within a living area may take some time to occur, due to surrounding objects absorbing the light and heating up.

Why You Should Consider Using One

When it comes to using a personal heater to keep you and your family warm, you have many choices to choose from. And for the most part, they will all work great at achieving its purpose. Infrared heaters are a great choice because they require very little maintenance and are extremely quiet.

The heat they produce is gentle, cost-effective and very energy-efficient. You are guaranteed to stay warm and save money with this type of heater.

6 Ways An Extra Freezer Can Save You Time & Money

How an Extra Freezer Can Save You Money

Economic inflation is causing the price of food to skyrocket and families are looking for ways to reduce their monthly expenses in order to maintain the quality of life they have become accustomed to. One way that consumers can combat the ever-rising cost of food prices is to invest in an extra freezer.

Whether you have a chest freezer in your garage or an upright freezer down in the basement, the extra space you’ll gain to store your frozen goods will bring many benefits to you and your family.

Here are six reasons why having another freezer in your home is a practical investment that will not only save you time and money, but also promote a healthy lifestyle for you and your family.

1. Save Money on Grocery Bills

The average person goes grocery shopping one to two times a week. While there is nothing wrong with this, those frequent trips to the grocery store can quickly add up.

Having an extra freezer in the home will encourage you to take an in-depth look at your shopping habits and tweak them. By tweaking your shopping habits, you can save hundreds of dollars every month on groceries, without having to use coupons. You can also save more money on gas since you will not have to drive to the grocery store as often.

Extra Freezer Can Save You Money

2. Purchase Food in Bulk

Purchasing food in bulk quantities means that you can purchase better quality food for a cheaper price, or just save more money on the food you would’ve normally bought. Most importantly, meats and cheese have a lower price per unit when they are purchased in larger quantities.

By dividing your bulk food purchases and preparing them in advance, you will not have to go to the grocery store as often. Purchasing food in large quantities also gives you the flexibility to purchase food only when it is on sale to save additional money. Purchasing food in bulk sizes makes it easier to store and prepare meals in advance.




3. More Storage Room

The average person has a limited amount of storage space for their food. Less space means frequent trips to the grocery store. Frequent trips can actually put a significant dent in your budget, because there is always the risk of waste due to purchasing more food than you can immediately use.

With an extra freezer inside of your home, you will have enough freezer space to store your groceries. You can purchase large quantities of meats, fruits, and vegetables and freeze them for future use.

Common ways to store freezer foods include:

  • Place pre-measured portions of cut up vegetables and meats into a storage bags and containers for future oven and crock-pot meals.
  • Label all foods with the date they are placed into the freezer for storage.
  • Use small containers to prevent freezer burn and preserve quality.
  • Always cool hot foods prior to freezing them.

4. Better Time Management

One reason why so many people avoid cooking is that they simply do not have the time or energy to do so. With an additional freezer in the home, one can prepare meals in advance and freeze them. If you happen to have a free day such as Sunday, use that day to prepare your meals for the rest of the week.

Once the meals are frozen, you can pull a meal out each day and heat it up in the oven while you handle other tasks. It is not necessary for one to be in the kitchen the whole time their meal is cooking. Preparing your meals in advance will give you time to deal with other things and give you more personal freedom.

This will also help put an end to any impulse grocery shopping and restaurant trips.




5. Reduce Food Waste

How much food do you throw away each month? Have you ever noticed that some of the food you are tossing in the trash has not been touched since it came from the supermarket?

Have you noticed that wasted leftovers are a frequent occurrence in your home? Your lack of time and frequent trips to the grocery store cost you money that you don’t have to spend.

Instead of resolving to be a savvier shopper, start using an extra freezer in your home. That freezer will keep you from throwing away so much food each month, and keep you from having to repurchase items anytime soon. Leftovers can be frozen for future consumption. By freezing your meats, fruits, vegetables, and leftovers, you gain more time to use them.

Standard Times for Frozen Foods Include:

  • Ground meats can last up to three to four months in the freezer.
  • Cooked meats can be frozen up to four months.
  • Different cuts of meat can last up to a year in the freezer.
  • Fruits and vegetables can last as long as eight to twelve months in the freezer.
  • Soups and stews can be frozen anywhere from two to three months.
  • Cooked leftovers can be stored in the freezer for as long as two months.

6. Incorporate More Healthy Foods Into Meals

Prepackaged and processed foods may seem like they are convenient items to add to your grocery bill, however they cost more money and often have unhealthy ingredients. This can cause you to become dependent and addicted to certain foods, although they hold no nutritional value for you and your family.

Encourage healthy eating habits by purchasing healthier foods. Purchase fresh fruits and vegetables in bulk when they are in season, and freeze them for use throughout the rest of the year.

Save Time & Money with an Extra Freezer

It doesn’t matter what type of freezer you use, having this extra appliance can be a real life-saver for you and your family. From reducing waste to helping you prepare meals in advance to saving you time and money, there’s no doubt that having an extra freezer is guaranteed to improve the quality of your life.

How to Prepare Your House to Sell

If you are preparing to sell your house, then you probably know that taking care of a few basic maintenance concerns and making it look great are keys to selling it at a better price. What you might not have heard about, though, are the directed strategies that pay off best and how to put them into place for your sale.

Below, we highlight a few of the key home improvements that may pay off when you are trying to raise the value of your home before you put it on the market. While every house has a maximum reasonable asking price that is mostly determined by its size, location, and architecture, these strategies will get you as close to that number as you can get without overspending.

1. Make Simple Upgrades

Full remodels tend to be more expensive than they are worth for sellers, regardless of which room you do them in. They are great ways to make a home your own, but when you want to sell, you really need to be concerned with the cost-to-value ratio, and the only value that matters is the final sale price. Here are the cost-effective upgrades that you might want to try out in your home:

House for Sale
  • Add a Fresh Coat of Paint

    Prioritize rooms with walls that show a little wear or damage, and keep your color choices light, inviting, and relatively neutral. Just don’t be boring or flashy, keep things in the middle.

  • Repair damage with fills, plasters, and other bonding agents.

    Whether it is wood, porcelain, drywall, or whatever, you do not want cracks, chips, divots, and other signs of wear showing up. For woodwork, many hardware stores carry blending touch-up pens that can be a huge help.

  • Reglaze damaged countertops, tubs, and sinks.

    This one is easy to lose money on if you do not really need it, but it is better to spend a few hundred dollars reglazing a chipping or peeling formica countertop than it is to lose thousands because show features are damaged. If you have questions about whether this option is right for your home, talk to your realtor about it.

  • Consider simple fixture replacement.

    New cabinet handles, faucet features, and other basic fixtures can often be purchased and installed cheaply as DIY projects. A few simple swaps for tarnished, over-painted, or just out-of-date fixtures and your new additions make the room look up-to-date without investing in a full remodel.




2. Depersonalize Your Space

The hardest step for most homeowners is coming to terms with the need to cut back on their personal clutter.

Your house is your refuge, and even when it’s time to sell, it can be difficult to transition into treating it like a space for other people, but you really need to do that if you are going to get the most out of your sale. Think in terms of how a professional might come and stage your home before a showing. These steps will help you to make your home showroom-ready, and they can also help your move be easier in the long run.

  • Declutter Everything.

    Box up items that really do not need to be around the house, like old photo albums and keepsakes that are mostly out for display, take down most of your old family photos, and try for a minimalist approach to wall decor. You do want a few pictures or paintings for accent pieces, but it can be hard for a buyer to see the house behind your stuff if it is too full.

  • Tidy Up Your Storage Space

    Even if you normally organize your tools or books with piles that are mostly the same size and color, your buyers are looking to see what is possible in a space, so storing some items and arranging others to showcase the best uses of your cabinets and other built-in storage areas will help prospective buyers see that.

  • Trim Your Furniture to a Tasteful Minimum

    You want each room to have the pieces that are necessary to say it is completely furnished, but most of us like to over-furnish our rooms as part of our personal decorating style. Pulling that back makes it easier to see the room for itself, and it also helps you to stage it in a way that takes advantage of natural light.

  • Clean Up After Your Pets

    If possible, get them out of the house, even if it is just during the days when the house is being shown. Having strange animals around can be off-putting to some people, and you never know who is going to be allergic.

Having some of your family’s extra belongings in storage, including that extra furniture, makes moving simpler because it gets everything that is not essential out of your way until you are ready for it.




3. Clean the House from Top to Bottom

A deep and thorough home cleaning is actually a house improvement, because it rolls back some of the wear and tear that can become damage in the long-term if it is not taken care of. This can include the growth of mold or mildew, especially in the bathroom and window sills, air purity issues that come from allergen buildups in the carpet, and moisture that can lead to problems with your basement and crawl spaces. Take these steps to get a solid deep cleaning, so that buyers see your home in the best possible light.

  • Remove all the stains

    From hard water buildup to soap scum, rings around the drop sink, and rust marks in the basement, you will want to get rid of any signs of regular wear from your home’s fixtures. There are a variety of products, including natural alternatives, that will help with everything from rust stains to limescale. Inventory the sites in your house that need to be treated, and hit them systematically until you see no signs of the deposits.

  • Shampoo Carpets and Rugs

    Even if they are not permanent installations in the home, a deep cleaning on all the rugs and carpets helps purify your home air quality and takes years off the appearance of the rugs. Sometimes, it can even rescue a carpet that looks like it needs to be replaced.

If you follow through with these basic upgrades and house improvement strategies, then it should be easy to maximize your home’s resale value for today’s market. Just remember, the key is to find low-cost solutions. Anything that involves major remodeling should wait for your next house.

How to Winterize Your Sprinkler System

Your sprinkler system is an important part of your landscaping. Lawns, trees and plants are very expensive to replace, so it is important to protect and maintain your sprinkler system at all times. Before the temperatures drop with the onset of winter, it’s important that homeowners take the appropriate steps to winterize their sprinklers.

Without the proper preparation, you may be facing expensive repairs to your sprinkler system or the loss of established trees, shrubs, or flowers. And expensive repairs are the last thing that any homeowner wants, especially when a bit of preventative maintenance can avoid this altogether.

Check Your Owner’s Manual

First things first, if possible, look in the owner’s manual for how to winterize your sprinkler system and follow those directions to ensure that you don’t void a warranty or make any other mistakes.

If you’re unable to find the original owner’s manual or just want some quick tips to winterize your sprinklers, we’ve put together several important tips that every homeowner should be aware of.

1. Shut Off the Water

The first thing to do as winter’s freezing temperatures are drawing near is to turn off the water to your sprinklers. Make sure to shut it off at the main valve. Your sprinkler system’s shut-off valve should be housed in a space where it can’t freeze. If this wasn’t done during the installation, perform this task before the frigid weather arrives.

2. Turn Off the Controller

Once you’ve gotten the water turned off, you need to shut off the timer, also known as the controller. Timers sometimes have settings marked rain mode. If yours doesn’t, you will need to disconnect it from the power source.

If your controller is outdated, you may want to update to a model such as a solid-state controller, which has digital displays for time settings as well as efficient energy usage to reduce your electric bills.




3. Remove Backflow Preventer

Your system has a device to prevent backflow, which is great for lawn-watering season, but during the winter, it must be removed and stored safely until spring. After it is removed, it’s time to drain the water.

How to Remove Backflow Preventer:

  • First, you can try to siphon it out.
  • If siphoning doesn’t work, pump it out with a shop vacuum designed for wet/dry use.
  • It’s helpful to attach duct tape to the hose in order to narrow the opening.
  • Drain above ground valves and store them, as well.
  • You can use pipe-heating cables on some areas, but this can be problematic in case of power failures.

4. Drain Water From Pipes

It’s absolutely crucial that you drain all the water from your irrigation system. If any water is left in the system, it’s possible for the pipes to freeze, which will lead to the pipes cracking or bursting once the water starts to expand.

You can use a shop vacuum to do this process, which can be time consuming, or you can take an easier route. The simpler alternative method to clear your sprinkler valves is to blow them out.

How to Blow Out Irrigation System

Below are the steps to help you blow out your sprinkler system and remove all water from the lines. It’s important that you have the right safety eye protection prior to starting this process. If you have any doubts, it would be best to call a professional.

  • Get a large compressor: To drain your valves with the blowout technique, you’re going to need the right equipment: a compressor with 50 cubic feet per minute rating. It’s imperative that the regulator valve gauge on your compressor is accurate.
  • Take off the backflow prevention: If you have an anti-siphoning lock on your valve, remove the entire mechanism.
  • Turn on the air compressor: Connect this equipment to the backflow-prevention riser.
  • Switch on valves: Using the automatic controls, turn on your valves one at a time as you blow out your irrigation system. It’s best to start with the highest elevation and open the hand valves manually.
  • Turn on compressor: Take your time and gradually increase the pressure. If it’s too hot or powerful, attach a hose length to modify it.
  • Blow out the H2O: Watch the pressure gauge and temperature as you slowly blow the water out.
  • Move to the following valve: One by one, move around your yard, blowing out each valve. Repeat this process until the draining process has been completed.
  • Blow out main line: You’ll also need to blow out your irrigation system’s main line if it has one.
  • Finish up: At the end, you’ll need to replace caps, set rain mode or turn your power source off.

5. Protect Spigots & Hoses

In addition to protecting pipes and valves, you can also safeguard other parts of your landscape-watering system, including:

  • Spigots: Protect the spigots by covering them with Styrofoam protective devices that can be found at home improvement stores.
  • Hoses: Drain water from garden hoses and store them in an area away from ice and snow to prevent cracking.



Get to Know Your Irrigation System

While it’s not entirely necessary, it’s wise to have a good understanding of the ins-and-outs of your sprinkler system before you start the winterizing process. You don’t have to be an expert, but, if possible, every homeowner should learn what they can about the following:

  • Drain Valve Locations:

    Your system should have drain valves at each pipe’s low point. You also need them at high points, so air can be released; otherwise, the water won’t be able to drain properly.

  • Slope of the System:

    When a sprinkler system is installed, there should be a slight slope to allow for easy draining.

  • Auto-Drain Valves:

    If you install automatic drain valves, your annual winterization can be greatly streamlined.

Create a Map of Irrigation System

It would be helpful to have a diagram or map that tells you where all of the sprinkler heads, valves, and watering zones are located. This will not only help you stay organized, but also make it easier to upgrade, repair or winterize your sprinkler system.

Once you create your irrigation map, keep it in a waterproof and convenient location. This will ensure that it remains helpful and ready all year round.

Know Your Region’s Climate

Before performing any winterizing steps, take time to think about the climate in that your home is located in.

If it snows only once in the season and the temperature barely hits freezing, then you may not have to winterize your irrigation system at all. On the flip side, if your home is in an area that always has freezing temperatures, snow, and ice, then you will definitely need to prepare your irrigation system for the deep freeze.

This is where a professional can be a real help. They know the area well and will be able to tell you how to best prepare your sprinkler system for winter.

Takeaways

If you want a beautiful yard when spring arrives, there are many tasks that a homeowner should do to prepare their yard for winter. One of the most important is to winterize your sprinkler system.

Because it’s a moderately difficult DIY project, consider hiring a professional to do the job for you. You and your front yard and backyard will be glad you did.

relative-humidity

Relative Humidity: What Every Homeowner Should Know

Relative humidity is an important factor of the indoor air quality in your home. As such, it’s wise for homeowners to educate themselves about what relative humidity is, as well as how they can control it in order to protect their homes and family members.

As weather changes and temperatures move up and down the thermometer, relative humidity changes, as well. Homeowners should learn about how the humidity in their homes impacts air quality, wellbeing, and building structures. Excess moisture can damage the structural integrity of a house, plus lead to mold, mildew, and a wide variety of ailments for anybody living within. By controlling our indoor humidity, homeowners have the ability to prevent all sorts of problems.

What Makes Healthy Indoor Air?

Considering we spend the vast majority of our time inside, the indoor air quality of your home or office is so crucial that the EPA considers it a substantial environmental threat. In order for air inside a structure to be considered healthy, it should be:

  • Free of toxins
  • Fresh & well-ventilated
  • Less than 50% RH

In order to have fresh air, buildings must be well-ventilated to flush out pollution and airborne particulates. An air purifier is a great way to instantly improve the indoor air quality of your home. Outdoor air should flow in and out of a building, and allergens and harmful airborne particles should be kept at an absolute minimum.

What is Relative Humidity?

Relative humidity is a measurement of water vapor being held at a specific temperature compared to the amount it could hold. This calculation is usually expressed as a percentage. As temperatures rise and fall, the capacity of the air to hold the H₂O is impacted. The warmer the temps are, the more moisture the atmosphere can contain. When air cools down naturally, its moisture-holding abilities are diminished.

Once this happens, there are many variables that may affect an individual’s comfort level, such as their health, clothing, or physical activity at the time. Of course, everyone has their own personal preferences, but for the most part, humans are typically most comfortable when relative humidity stays between 20% and 60%.

While this may be the broad comfort range for your average person, however, it is not recommended to allow the relative humidity levels to rise above 50% inside your home.




What is the Ideal Humidity Levels For Homes?

Between 30-50%. To prevent mold growth, the EPA recommends keeping “indoor humidity below 60 percent (ideally between 30 and 50 percent) relative humidity.”

Depending on whether you’re using a heater or air conditioner to help control the temperature, homeowners may change the humidity levels in their home to make the air feel more comfortable.

Confused? The Paper Towel Metaphor.

If the concept of relative humidity seems confusing, you’re not alone. It may help to think of a concrete example such as a paper towel.

Have you tried to mop up a spill with a paper towel? After the towel is saturated, it can’t hold any more liquid. This would be considered 100% capacity; whereas if the sheet could still absorb a bit more, it would be a lesser percentage, such as 70%. Air’s capacity to hold moisture is similar to the paper towel’s; when it can hold no more, it has reached 100%, and this is known as its dew point.

How Can Excessive Humidity Affect Your Home?

You can use your senses to determine if your home has a problem with excess humidity. Unless you live in a dry desert, chances are you’ve noticed a few of these red flags:

  • Mold growth.
  • Warped boards or wood floors.
  • Musty smell, especially in crawl spaces, attics, and basements.
  • Bubbling or peeling paint.
  • Wallpaper peeling away from walls.
  • Stickiness on surfaces.
  • Condensation on windows or other areas.
  • Water stains on ceilings or walls.
  • Sneezing and other allergic reactions to inhaling dust mites.
  • Moisture build-up on ceilings or inside closets.
  • Frequently-fogged windows.

Is Excessive Humidity Unhealthy To Live In?

It is not healthy to live in a house that perpetually has too much moisture in the air. Many of these ailments develop as a result of mold exposure and other issues that homeowners face when there is too much humidity in their home.

For further research, here are a few studies that discuss the potential health effects associated with relative humidity.

  1. “Indoor air humidity, air quality, and health – An overview.” (PMID: 29398406)
  2. “Indirect health effects of relative humidity in indoor environments.” (PMID: 3709462)
  3. “The dichotomy of relative humidity on indoor air quality.” (PMID: 17499853)



Can A Dehumidifier Help With Relative Humidity?

Yes. If there is too much moisture inside your home or office, a dehumidifier can be utilized to help you remove the excess moisture and get your relative humidity back at an ideal level.

These devices have many uses and benefits for homeowners, but its most common purpose is to help extract H₂O from your indoor air, as well as help remove any musty odors that may be lingering as a result of too much moisture. Once that water has been removed, it will either be collected within the unit or pumped away automatically, depending on the type of dehumidifier you are using. To get rid of excess water by vaporizing it, an ionic membrane dehumidifier may be used.

Can A Humidifier Help With Relative Humidity?

Yes. Just as there are many reasons to remove moisture from the air, there are also many reasons why moisture in the air is beneficial. Striking the right balance of relative humidity is the key to having comfortable indoor air.

If your home is lacking humidity, you can help correct this by using a humidifier. Because they add moisture to the air, humidifiers can help alter the relative humidity levels in your home and make your indoor air more comfortable. These are especially important to use in the cold winter months, as you likely have a heater running which may be drying out the air. Just remember to clean your humidifier on a regular basis.

There are different types of humidifiers on the market, including:

  • Portable:

    These models are designed to humidify a space by forcing air to circulate through a wet pad, which then flows into the room in a fine mist.

  • Evaporating:

    A pan or absorbent pads are dipped into water, and then attached to a heating system. This causes moisture to evaporate into the environment.

  • Power:

    Water moves automatically into this unit to allow moisture to be circulated. A humidistat allows a homeowner to control the amount of water generated.

Where Household Moisture Comes From

The world is full of moisture; even your breath and body release droplets of water. While certain percentages of RH are desirable in an environment, too much can lead to trouble. Moisture moves through buildings in several ways:

  • Roof leaks
  • Rain water
  • Plumbing leaks
  • Steam from cooking
  • Steam from showers and bathtubs

No matter how your home becomes saturated with water vapor, condensation may occur on windows or other surfaces. This occurs more readily during chillier seasons. When moist warm air meets the cold glass of a window, it causes the air temps to drop, changes the relative humidity, and results in condensation.

Because a home’s relative humidity can impact family members’ overall well-being and the building structure, it’s crucial that homeowners educate themselves about this important component of air quality. If the RH percentage is kept in the proper range, health problems can be avoided or greatly minimized. For homes with too much moisture, a dehumidifier can create a safer and more comfortable interior. On the flip side, houses that are too dry can add water vapor with a humidifier. Armed with knowledge about humidity, individuals can live happily ever after in their homes.


Mold In Home

How to Remove Mold From Your Home

As a homeowner, it’s critical for you to know and understand the dangers that mold presents to your home. It is a common concern for homeowners and can cause unseen damage to your home and your health.

Mold is a fungus that has the potential to grow within any location that is damp or excessively moist. If these areas are also warm, poorly ventilated, or have no light, then mold is more likely to thrive and cause issues.

At first, mold in your house will only create a musty or unpleasant odor, but as time goes on, mold can lead to some pretty serious damage. In fact, according to the CDC, exposure to mold has the potential to provoke allergies and asthma attacks for people who are prone to them.

In this article, you’ll learn more about how to get rid of mold from your house, as well as how you can spot it and prevent it from growing in the first place. Ask any homeowner, mold is not something you want in your home.

1. Control Humidity & Moisture

Mildew is a thin black or white substance that you typically find growing on grout in a bathroom. It flourishes in warm, humid areas, so the first step in removing and preventing it is to clean the places in a home where it’s mostly likely to show up, and keep them dry.

Mold

Be sure to regularly clean your bathroom and kitchen, stretch out wet shower curtains and dry damp clothing quickly.

If your basement is often damp, there may be crevices in the walls letting moisture in, so replace cracked mortar and make sure you have sufficient outside drainage.

An air conditioner can help by taking in warm air, which holds more moisture, and circulating it back out as cool, dry air. A humidstat or dehumidifier is also useful for reducing humidity.

On days when the air outside is dry, open up your windows and use electric fans to let the outside air circulate into your home and carry the moisture out.




2. Use Cleaning Solutions & Products

There are a number of cleaning solutions you can use, all of which are relatively inexpensive and easy to find.

Bleach

Bleach is very effective when used on moldy surfaces. Mix 1 cup of bleach with 1 gallon of water, then use either a spray bottle or a bucket and sponge to clean the affected area.

If you want to prevent growth, don’t wipe the area afterward. Note that bleach has some drawbacks, the foremost being that it’s useless on porous materials like wood and drywall. It also gives off harsh fumes, and mixing chlorine bleach with ammonia or certain other household cleaners is incredibly dangerous as it produces toxic gas.

Note: Never mix bleach with other chemicals!

Vinegar

Vinegar isn’t quite as effective as bleach, but it’s safe and doesn’t give off harsh fumes. Pour undiluted white vinegar or apple cider vinegar into a spray bottle, spray the affected area, let it sit for an hour, then wipe clean.

If you want to use it to prevent growth, simply don’t wipe afterward, and spray again every few days. Use it only on non-porous surfaces.

Borax

Borax is dangerous if swallowed, but it’s otherwise safe and doesn’t give off dangerous fumes. Create a mixture of 1 cup of borax for every 1 gallon of water, then clean with a scrubbing brush. Once again, only use it on non-porous surfaces, and you can use it to prevent growth by not wiping it off afterward.

Ammonia

Ammonia is similar to bleach in that it can’t be used on porous surfaces, and also that it’s a dangerous chemical. Make sure that you only use clear ammonia. Create a 50/50 mix of water and clear ammonia, and spray the affected surface. Let it sit for a few hours, then wipe and rinse.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is both mild and safe, and it also acts as a deodorizer. What’s more, unlike the other solutions, baking soda can be used on porous surfaces.

Add 2 tablespoons of baking soda to 8 ounces of water and mix thoroughly. Spray the affected area, scrub with a sponge or brush, then rinse. Follow this by spraying a second time, but don’t rinse afterward.


3. Cut Out & Remove Large Infestations

Mold can grow behind the walls and other unseen places in a house, leaving homeowners unaware until they smell it or notice stains on the wall. At that point, it has to be literally cut out of carpets and drywall.

How to Remove Moldy Drywall & Carpets

If you choose to do this on your own, you’ll want to wear old clothing and shoes along with goggles, gloves and N-95 respirator.

N-95 Respirator For Mold Removal

N-95 Respirator For Mold Removal from 3M

Prep & Set-Up

Set a box fan in the window of the room you’re working on. Next, make sure you tape plywood or cardboard around the window openings so spores expelled by the fan can’t get back in. Turn off your air conditioner and/or furnace, and then seal off the airflow within the room by covering the vents and doorways with plastic sheeting and duct tape.

Removing Moldy Carpets

Use a utility knife to cut moldy carpets into 6′ x 8′ sections, and mist the surfaces with a pump sprayer to control spores. Roll up the sections and wrap them in thick plastic trash bags.

Removing Moldy Drywall

Turn off power to the room, and probe stained or soft spots on the wall with a screwdriver to find the infestation and locate any wiring, removing baseboards and trim if necessary. Use a drywall saw or utility knife to cut out the infested drywall and any moldy insulation behind it. Mist with the pump sprayer to control spores, then double-bag the material in heavy plastic bags and tie the bags off.

Clean-Up

Vacuum up the debris with a shop-vac with an extra-long hose, so you can keep the shop vac outside to keep spores from spreading. Use a brush to scrub stained surfaces inside the walls with a water and bleach mixture, and then wipe the areas, but don’t rinse them. Dry any trim you washed in direct sunlight, and use fans and dehumidifiers to dry the room for at least three days.

When you’ve eliminated it all, seal the wood with a pigmented shellac or oil-based primer. Put in new insulation and drywall, replace the trim, and repaint using paint that contains mildewcide.




4. Hire Mold Remediation Professionals

If you have a persistent infestation, you may need to hire a mold remediation specialist.

Do your homework to find one who is reputable. The specialist will thoroughly inspect your home to determine the extent of the infestation, and afterward he or she will let you know if you can take care of the problem yourself, or if you’ll need to hire professionals to handle it.

Make sure the specialist gives you a written report. Note that, to avoid conflicts of interest, the specialist who inspects your home should work independently from the company you hire to clean out the infestation.

Garden Slug

How to Get Rid of Garden Pests

Growing a successful and productive garden is a lot of work. It can be rather frustrating to tend to your garden, only to watch a variety of bugs, insects, and other pests destroy it before you can harvest.

Before deciding to use chemical pesticides which may be harmful to the overall ecosystem of your garden, homeowners should consider using a natural approach to getting rid of those annoying plant-eaters and garden disturbers. Any number of homemade sprays and methods can be helpful in deterring garden pests from your yard, all while keeping your plants healthy.

To start, it is helpful to identify the particular pests that have invaded your yard or to discover common pests to your area so you know what you’re up against. Then, consider using a few of these tips to keep your plants thriving and bug-free.

1. Slow Down the Slugs

Slugs can be good at eating other bugs, but unfortunately they also tend to target your garden veggies. Fortunately there are a number of ways you can deter these slimy garden pests.

One way to keep the slugs from destroying your plants is by distracting them with copper flashing. The copper will give the slugs a slight electrical shock when they come in contact with it. This means that the copper will act as a barrier to keep the slugs out of the blocked off area or away from a particularly susceptible plant.

Because slugs have soft bodies, you can utilize certain materials as garden borders that the slugs would avoid coming in contact with. Try applying gravel or lava rock in strips around your plants or garden in order to keep the little slugs from crawling across and into your garden. Wood ashes are another good choice for this sort of slug warfare because not only are the ashes good for deterring these pests, but the potassium in the ashes is good for the soil too.




2. Avoiding Aphids

Aphids come in a variety of colors and are excellent at sucking the sap from new growth in a plant. Often, you can get rid of these garden pests simply by hosing them off, but you will need to be vigilant.

If you are looking for a method that is a little more effective and permanent, you could try creating your own aphid-repelling spray. For this method, you will be creating a blend of cooking oil, water, and dish soap. Mix approximately one cup of fresh cooking oil with a tablespoon of dish soap.

Then, dilute the mixture in a spray bottle by taking four teaspoons of the oil/soap mix and blending it with one pint of water. As you spray this on your vegetables, it can help keep aphids away, and also thrips, spider mites, and whiteflies. You should reapply this mixture to your plants once a week for the best results.

3. Utilize Citrus Peels

Citrus peels from lemons or oranges are a great way to add nitrogen to your compost pile, but they can also be used as garden defense. This method will not only deter garden pests, but it will also improve the health of your soil.

If you dry the peels first, you will be able to grind them up and sift the powder directly into the soil. This will make your entire garden more resistant to a bug invasion.

A whole orange peel is also able to help keep aphids and mosquitoes away. For this method, all you need to do is cut a slit in an orange peel and carefully slide it over an aphid-susceptible plant, or else simply rub the peels on the plants to act as a mosquito repellent. Even cats are supposedly deterred by citrus peel. Sprinkle leftover orange peels in spots where your or neighborhood cats tend to prowl.

4. Sprinkle Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is a powder made of fossilized bodies of tiny, aquatic organisms, also known as diatoms. The particles in diatomaceous earth are abrasive and excellent for deterring soft-skinned insects, such as slugs.

All you need to do is sprinkle the diatomaceous earth over plants and around the garden’s perimeter to control flea beetles, twig borer, thrips, cockroaches, ants, earwigs and spider mites. The sharp edges of the dirt dry out and kill these undesirable pests. It also works to destroy these pests if they ingest the diatomaceous earth.




5. Use Garlic on Your Garden Pests

Garlic, a seasoning we all have in our kitchen pantries, is surprisingly useful in the garden as well. If you are dealing with apple maggots, caterpillars, sowbugs, grasshoppers, grubs, leafminers, mealybugs or whiteflies, garlic spray is an effective and natural way to battle the bugs.

To make a natural garlic pesticide, you need to blend 12 cloves of garlic with one and a half cups of water. Strain the pulp and then dilute the strained garlic water with a gallon of water. Shake it well, and then use the mixture in a spray bottle once a week on your plants to keep the bugs away.

6. Use Your Chickens

If you keep a coop of chickens, know that you can use them for more than a food source. While you may want to keep your chickens out of your garden beds, you might consider constructing a chicken moat around your gardening area.

A chicken moat is essentially a strip of dry ground fenced in on both sides which surrounds the plants. This space allows for the chickens to go to town eating weeds and grasshoppers and any other bug or beetle attempting to enter your garden plot. This is an effective method for controlling the pest population while giving your chickens plenty to feast upon.

If you are a homeowner interested in more details on how to construct a good chicken moat, check out this blog post. The double fence has the advantage of keeping deer and rabbits away from your plants, as well.

7. Invite Friendly Birds

Hornworms and other bugs are destructive to your tomato plants and can easily gobble up leaf after leaf if left unchecked. To prevent this, try attracting birds to eat these worms by placing bird feeders or a bird bath around your vegetable garden.

Check your plants once or twice a day for hornworms, and if the birds aren’t getting them all, you can always create another homemade spray. Try mixing garlic, soap and cayenne pepper with water to spray over your plants for added protection. This green pesticide helps to keep the moths that lay hornworm eggs out of your garden.




8. The Five-Finger Trap

One of the most common, cheap, and effective ways a homeowner can get rid of squash bugs, slugs, Japanese Beetles and hornworms is handpicking. It is tedious and not for the squeamish, yes, but very effective because you can see exactly what bugs you are removing and from where.

If you happen to have chickens, you can feed the insects and critters to the chickens or hope that some local robins may come scoop up the handpicked pests. Handpicking, along with some of the other remedies in this series, is a great way to be sure you have a pest-free garden.


As you prepare your garden, find out which pests are common to your area, and then arm yourself with these natural remedies for keeping the bugs out of your vegetable beds. By following these tips, you will find that garden care isn’t so challenging after all.


Swamp Cooler

Swamp Cooler FAQs

Affordable and energy efficient, swamp coolers are a great way to drop the temperature in your home, without spending the money on a new air conditioner. They don’t use any chemicals or refrigerants, all it needs is water to help you feel cooler.

While this all may sound great, evaporative air coolers are not the right fit for everyone or every home. Only some homeowners will benefit from using a swamp cooler inside their home, and even then, it is hardly ever a suitable alternative to other types of air conditioners.

What Is A Swamp Cooler?

A swamp cooler is an appliance that uses the evaporation of water to help cool the air stream and add humidity back into the air. They are particularly useful for anyone living in arid climates.

Other names for these devices include:

  • Evaporative coolers
  • Wet air coolers
  • Desert coolers

How Does A Swamp Cooler Work?

This type of air cooler utilizes the principles of evaporative cooling.

A swamp cooler is really just a simple contraption that uses a fan to suck in hot air, typically from the outdoors, then pushing the air over a number of wet “cooling” pads.

As the hot air passes over these pads, the liquid water turns into vapor, which is then pushed out of the unit, and into the air inside your home. Once the vapor starts to circulate into the air, the added moisture will extract the heat from the air, helping the ambient temperature feel cooler.

How An Evaporative Cooler Works

The dry air temperature cools during the evaporation process. This is the same method that the human body uses to cool itself down. When we get hot we sweat and the sweat evaporates which lowers our body’s temperature.

Because of this it’s important to use only in hot, dry climates. For optimal performance, only homeowners that have humidity levels below 50% should use a swamp cooler inside their home.




Does It Lower the Ambient Temperature?

A swamp cooler will help make the temperature feel approximately 5°-15° lower in the area within close proximity to where it is located. However, they will not lower the overall ambient temperature in the room.

This is a common misconception and important for homeowners to understand prior to purchasing an evaporative cooler. Unlike an AC unit, you will not feel a significant drop in temperature, nor will you be able to control the temperature with any sort of precision.


What’s the Difference Between a Swamp Cooler & Air Conditioner?

The most notable difference is the method in which they each cool the air that is being circulated within the room.

An air cooler uses water, cooling pads and an internal fan to increase the humidity within the room, whereas an air conditioner uses a compressor and refrigerants that can rapidly cool the air.

While they may have similarities and are both intended to cool a room, it’s very important to understand that they each utilize a distinct cooling method and are not a one-for-one replacement.

Portable Cooling Confusion

The similarities are noticeably obvious when it comes to portable air conditioners. Because of how similar they are in shape, size and design, not to mention they each have “portable” in their name, it’s very common for homeowners to confuse these units with portable evaporative coolers.

Unfortunately, they operate very differently, and this has left plenty of homeowners both confused and disappointed with their purchase.




What’s the Difference Between an Evaporative Cooler & Air Fan?

A fan uses rotating blades to create a current of air but has no real effect on the temperature or humidity within the room. All it does is circulate the air around you. It may feel cooler when you first feel the air circulating around you, but this is due to the “wind chill effect” that it creates and will be temporary, at best.

Whereas, an evaporative cooler utilizes an internal fan to help circulate air, but also goes one step further by using a set of wet cooling pads to help recreate the evaporation process by adding a bit of moisture to the air.


What is the Best Environment to Use a Swamp Cooler?

Due to the evaporative nature of how they operate, swamp coolers are best used in hot, dry climates where the temperature is high, and the humidity levels are low.


Can I Use One If I Live In A Humid Climate?

This is not recommended. If your home is located in an area with a humid climate, then it would be unwise to use a swamp cooler inside your home.

Not only will they be ineffective at cooling, but they will just add unnecessary amounts of moisture to the air. As a result, the excessive humidity levels inside your home will cause more issues and lead to poor indoor air quality.

If you live a humid climate, the better choice would be to use an air conditioner for cooling the interior of your home. However, depending on your location and the fluctuating temperature, there may be certain times in the day that you could use a swamp cooler to help supplement your air conditioner.




Will a Swamp Cooler Help Cool a Garage or Workshop?

Yes. An evaporative air cooler can be a great choice for cooling your garage or workshop. Due to the large doors and poor insulation, you are less-likely to experience the negative effects of too much humidity.

Ironically, it’s because of these same reasons that garages often don’t have an air conditioner. As a result, a swamp cooler could be the ideal choice to provide cooler airflow, especially on those hot summer days.


What Size Swamp Cooler Do I Need?

Once you’ve made the decision to purchase an air cooler, you need to determine the right size unit. Air coolers are measured by cubic feet per minute (CFM). This is the measurement used to determine the amount of air that will be circulated each minute.

How to Calculate CFM:

Figuring out the CFM is pretty easy and shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes. Here’s the steps you will take.

  1. Determine the square footage of the room.
  2. Multiply the room’s square footage by the height of the ceilings.
  3. Then divide that number by 2.
  4. This is your suggested CFM for that room.

For Example:

To illustrate how this works, we’ll be calculating the amount of CFM needed to cool a room with 150 square feet and 9ft. tall ceilings.

  • Room Sq. Ft — 150 square feet
  • Ceiling Height — 9 ft
  • 150 x 9 = 1350 / 2 = 675 CFM

In the example above, I would need to find a unit that has a minimum of 675 CFM.

If the CFM falls in between units or you have an odd-shaped room with lots of corners, you would want to purchase an air cooler that is slightly larger. If it is too small will have to worker harder to keep the area cool and waste energy doing so.


How Do You Clean A Swamp Cooler?

A swamp cooler will follow a similar cleaning process as a humidifier. Any part of the device that gets wet, needs to be cleaned and sanitized on a regular basis.

To ensure proper cooling and the prevention of mold or mildew, the tank and cooling pads should be cleaned with soap and water at least once every 7-10 days. Allow all parts to dry thoroughly.

This will prevent dust, dirt, and mildew from building up. Cleaning the unit regularly is especially important if you are using the air cooler for long periods of time.

External – Cleaning the outside of the air cooler can be done periodically by simply wiping it down with a damp cloth.




How Often Do You Refill the Tank?

This depends on many factors, ranging from how you are using the device to the brand/model itself. Generally speaking, you should not have to refill the tank for at least 4-6 hours.

Refilling Swamp Cooler Tank

Below, are a few considerations that will play a role in how long your tank will last before it needs to be refilled.

  • How big is the device?
  • How / where often are you using it?
  • What is the temperature of the room / surrounding area?
  • What is the relative humidity of the room / surrounding area?
  • What is the insulation like in the room it is being used in?

Depending on how you answered the above questions, you to help you determine whether or not you can use your swamp cooler in a more efficient manner.


How Often Do You Replace the Cooling Pads?

This depends on how you are using and caring for the device. If you clean your swamp cooler on a regular basis, then your cooling pads will last for quite a while.

As the summer season sets in and you prepare to use the evaporative cooler for the first time, inspect the pads to make sure that they have no damage. If you notice any cracks, then they will need to be replaced.


Do you have a question about evaporative air coolers that you didn’t see listed here? If so, leave it down in the comments below.


Robot Vacuum

Robot Vacuums: Are They Really Worth It?

Robot vacuum cleaners have really taken off in the last few years and it’s fairly easy to understand why. With their ease of use and practical, hands-free action, homeowners are discovering the many advantages of purchasing this type of vacuum cleaner. But, are they really worth the higher cost? Let’s take a look at some of the benefits you can expect from using one.

What Are Robot Vacuum Cleaners?

Robot vacuums are an autonomous device that is designed to clean carpet, tiles and hardwood floors of all dirt and debris, much like other types of vacuum cleaners. The main difference of robotic versions is their ability to minimize the amount of work hat homeowners need to do.

Upon their release in the late ’90s, robotic vacuums initially struggled with homeowners. However, after two decades of innovation and the continual rise in Smart Home devices, robot vacuums have never been more popular.

In recent years, there is no denying their spike of interest from homeowners, partly because they’ve become more affordable, but mostly because they’ve become more efficient at accomplishing their intended purpose — cleaning your floors without requiring you to put in much work.

The Benefits of Owning a Robot Vacuum

If you’re currently looking to buy a vacuum cleaner, you would be doing yourself a disservice by not considering a robotic vacuum. To help you determine if this is the right device for you, let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits you can expect to receive from a robot vacuum.

1. Easy To Use

Perhaps the number one benefit of owning a robot vacuum cleaner is that they are extremely easy to use. Once the machine is programmed for a given space and the timer is set for a predetermined start time, the product virtually runs itself. Simply place the device on the floor in an appropriate starting spot and you’re good to go.

In addition, many models have been refined over the years to be self-regulating and nearly foolproof, meaning mishaps are becoming more and more unlikely as the technology evolves. That means you don’t have to worry about your vacuum malfunctioning or becoming stuck on a surface.

2. Incredibly Efficient

Today’s robot vacuum cleaners provide multiple tasks. They not only clean, they remember the layout of your space, are able to dump the dirt they collect, and then find their way back to the charging station.

Some higher-end models have advanced sensors and are also able to transition between bare floors and carpeted areas without manually switching settings. Other allow you to control them through a smartphone app.

The methodical, back-and-forth or circular motion of the machines also ensures that every inch of a floor or space is covered, which translates to a more thorough cleaning overall.

ECOVACS Robotic Vacuum Cleaner

Photo Credit: ECOVACS Robotics

3. Saves You Time

It is a universal experience that everyone’s lives have become increasingly busier in the 21st century. Indeed, multi-tasking has become paramount to, and part of, modern-day existence. One of the most desirable benefits of robot vacuum cleaners is that you don’t have to be present when the vacuum is operating.

Simply turn it on before you leave the house and it will do all the work for you while you’re out of the house. Therefore, time not spent manually vacuuming can be spent working, relaxing, playing with your kids, or doing whatever your heart desires. Indeed, the old adage that time is money certainly applies to this product as well.

4. Works on Different Surfaces

Another benefit of the robot vacuum cleaner is that it works on multiple types of surfaces, from carpets to wood floors to linoleum to concrete.

As mentioned, higher-end models are able to transition between different types of surfaces during the same cleaning cycle. With other models, you simply change the setting, place the product at a designated starting point, and set the programmer and timer as usual.

5. Detects All Levels of Dirt

Along with working on all types of surfaces, autonomous vacuum cleaners are able to tackle all types of dirt as well. From dust that has barely settled to deeply-embedded debris in your carpet, the vast majority of these vacuums are designed with increasingly powerful suction capabilities, despite their compact size.

Using built-in sensors, the machines also can detect the amount of cleaning required in different situations and will repeatedly go over an area until it is clean. This level of detail when it comes to cleaning is unmatched in other similar products.

6. Sets Boundaries

Another advantage of robot vacuum cleaners is their inherent ability to perform in — and only in — a given space that they are programmed for.

For instance, if you have children playing in another room while the product is operating, you can set virtual walls in the programming function to prevent the machine from going across doorways and other openings. Likewise, if you have pets alone at home while the machine is operating, you can easily limit the scope of the machine so it won’t frighten them.




7. Small, Compact & Easy to Store

A robot vacuum is much smaller than an upright or canister vacuum cleaner and, as such, can easily be stored in just about any space — in a closet, under a bed, or wherever you have room. This makes the product ideal for any homeowner that has limited storage space or is trying to downsize their belongings.

These smaller vacuums can also be easily transported from one location to another because of its size. You don’t need to clear out your trunk or borrow somebodies truck to move it from one place to another. As an added benefit, the small, low-slung nature of the product means it can get under furniture and reach areas that a regular vacuum cleaner cannot.

8. Makes Housecleaning Go Faster

Because a robot vacuum cleaner is self-sufficient and self-operating, it is an ideal product to help you maximize the amount of time spent on housecleaning.

Indeed, while your robotic vacuum is doing its thing on your floors, it frees up your time to work on cleaning other areas of the house. Working in tandem, you’ll be able to significantly cut down on the time it takes to clean your house. And, the result of more efficient cleaning is that you’ll be more likely to clean your house more thoroughly more often.

9. Ideal Solution for the Handicapped & Elderly

People with mobility issues, such as the elderly and handicapped, can truly benefit from owning a robot vacuum cleaner.

With its ease of use and hands-free operation, a robot vacuum cleaner can be a liberating product for this demographic, who would otherwise be forced to hire house-cleaners at a much greater expense. In addition, the money saved that would otherwise be spent on doing so makes this a product worth investing in.

10. Economical and Cost-Efficient

Because robotic vacuum cleaners have been on the market for a number of years, both the price and features have improved significantly, and continue to improve as the years roll by.

The good news is that you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a decent product that does the job right for your particular needs. Starting at approximately $150, with high-end models running upwards of $1,000 to $1,500, there is something for everyone’s budget when it comes to this type of product.

Takeaways

When considering the reasons why you should buy a robot vacuum cleaner, the previous ten benefits should be at the top of your list. If you can see your life improving with 8, 5, or even 1 of the benefits outlined, then purchasing a robot vacuum cleaner is worth it and then some. For efficient and effective cleaning power, a robot vacuum cleaner is becoming the hands-down choice among many homeowners, businesses, and commercial establishments alike.


Frozen Pipe

How to Prevent Frozen Pipes

If you live in a cold climate, you probably know all too well the dilemma of frozen pipes. If you’re new to cold climates or, perhaps, new to owning a house, it’s wise to learn all you can about what you should do in the event that your pipes freeze during a cold winter chill.

To help you prepare and protect your home, let’s take a look at why pipes freeze, as well as some simple prevention tips that every homeowner should know as the mercury starts to drop.

Why Do Pipes Freeze?

The reason behind why pipes freeze is likely self-explanatory. When the temperature outside your home drops too low, the water inside the pipes will freeze.

This typically starts with any spigots, faucets or pipes that are exposed to the elements. However, it can have an effect on areas in your home this is not heated or just poorly insulated. Upon hitting this frozen state, the water inside your pipes and spigots will expand, which may cause it to burst. This is where things can go really bad for homeowners, possibly leading to a whole host of other problems.




How to Prevent Frozen Pipes

There are many preventative measures that a homeowner can take to protect their home from a frozen pipe. There’s no single “best” way to prevent your pipes from freezing.

Instead, familiarize yourself with the tips below and use them in conjunction with each other. This will go a long way to make sure your pipes don’t freeze and, hopefully, prevent them from bursting and flooding your home.

1. Add Insulation to Exposed Pipes & Fixtures

By far, this is the easiest thing that a homeowner can do to protect their pipes. By adding a layer of insulation to all plumbing fixtures that are exposed, especially pipes and spigots, you can help prevent them from becoming too cold.

Most homeowners will initially think of the pipes and faucets on the exterior of their home. But, don’t forget about any pipes that are exposed in areas of your home that are not heated or well-insulated. This could be your garage or a basement, but also any of the forgotten crawl spaces. All of the pipes in these areas should be insulated, too.

There are lots of types of insulation that can help you here, all of which are available at home improvement stores or online.

Faucet Cover

Faucet Covers

These are a great way to protect outdoor spigots or faucets. Typically, a faucet cover is only a couple of bucks and they’re incredibly easy to install. If possible, opt for the faucet covers that have a hard plastic shell, as these are a bit more durable and will last for many seasons.

Foam Pipe Insulation

Resembling the colorful “noodles” you kids playing with in a swimming pool, these are pieces of foam that are designed to wrap completely around and insulate all exposed pipes. Extremely affordable and easy to install. The best part about this type of insulation, is that it goes far beyond preventing pipes from freezing, it will actually help cut your energy costs and prevent those same pipes from condensation when the temperature goes back up in the summer.

Pipe Wrap Tape

Very similar to the foam insulation above, but instead of a giant noodle of foam, this type of pipe insulation looks more like a roll of duct tape. You’ll apply it much like you would tape, too. Simply wrap it around any exposed areas and it will add a layer of thermal insulation to prevent it from freezing. Unfortunately, pipe wrap tape is going to be one of the more expensive options.

DIY Insulation

Sometimes, a winter storm will creep up on you and leave you with little to no time to get the necessary supplies or insulation. If you find yourself in this situation, don’t worry, there are still some easy and free insulation options that will protect your pipes.

Perhaps, the oldest method of protecting your pipes. Simply take some old rags or towels, and wrap them around any exposed pipes, spigots or other areas that you think is susceptible to freezing.

Make sure it’s wrapped up tight and won’t come loose during a storm. The best option is to wrap duct tape around the towel. Another option is to use another towel, tying it into a knot around the “insulating” layer to ensure it stays in place.

2. Use Heat Tape to Regulate Temperature

The name “heating tape” can be a bit of a misnomer. While there are different types available, some of which do have adhesive properties, most homeowners will think of this as a type of extension cord or cable.

The heating cable is then strategically wrapped around any exposed pipes. Once installed, simply plug in and turn on. The cord will emit a small amount of heat that will help regulate the temperature around the pipe, thus preventing from freezing.

When used properly, this can be a great way to make sure your pipes never freeze. Unfortunately, they are much more expensive then other types of pipe insulation. Additionally, you also need to be mindful of the type of heating cable you use, as well as the material your pipes are made of.

3. Protective Measures Inside Your Home

For pipes and spigots located on the exterior of your, insulation is about the most you can do to protect them from freezing. However, when it comes to the inside of your home, there are many things that a homeowner can do.

Frozen Water Spigot
  • Maintain Temperature:

    The number one thing you should do is regulate and maintain a steady temperature inside your home. Try to keep it above 60°F at all times, even if you’re not home at the time.

  • Heat & Insulate Exposed Areas:

    If you have a basement, garage or crawl space with an exposed water line, then you may want to consider using a small heater in that area to help prevent the temperature from dropping to a level that will cause water inside to freeze. Of course, a heater should only be used if it is deemed safe by the homeowner. Insulating pipes will be the best prevention, but a heater may also help. The very least you can do, at least for a garage, is keep the door closed and insulated.

  • Weather Sealing Doors & Windows:

    This is something that every homeowner should consider, just for the energy savings alone. No matter how extreme the temperature is outside, this is one easy DIY project that will help you regulate the temperature inside. It’ll help prevent pipes from freezing in the cold winter, as well as help your air conditioner keep the room cool in the hot summer.

  • Heat Circulation Within Cabinetry:

    Inside your home, it’s not uncommon for pipes to be exposed inside the cabinetry. They may be hard to spot, but there they are. Look inside your cabinets and if you see pipes, leave those doors open to ensure that the heat in the room can circulate to those areas.

4. Shut-Off Water Supply & Drain

Your pipes won’t burst if there’s no water inside to expand. Therefore, it would be wise to shut-off the water supply for any pipes that lead to an exterior spigot, as well as drain all the water out.

This would include:

If the weather hits extreme temperatures, then you may also want to drain the water out of any appliances that have a water supply, such as your hot water heater or fridge. This is especially true if they are located in a basement or garage.




5. Let Your Faucet Drip

The most popular way to prevent pipes from freezing, is to allow the faucets in your home to slowly drip water. Sure, it’s a gross waste of water, but it works. This is much better than dealing with a burst pipe.

The slow drip works because it helps moderate the water pressure inside your pipes. This allows the water to keep flowing and pressure lowered, all of which makes it more difficult to freeze.

6. Wash Your Dishes & Clothes (While You Sleep)

Most dishwashers and washing machines have an option that allow you to delay the wash-cycle for a few hours. If you have one of these, schedule a load to start in the middle of the night. This is when the temperatures will be at their lowest, and when your pipes have the highest risk of freezing.

This follows the same principles of a dripping faucet, but instead, you’re putting some of the appliances around your home to work (and not completely wasting water).

7. Use Ice Maker to Make Ice

While it sounds counter-intuitive to make ice when the weather is creating ice everywhere else, this little trick works quite well.

Your refrigerator makes ice when it detects that it’s needed. So, empty all the ice out of it. This will cause your fridge to make more ice, thus using more water and helping relieve the pressure that may lead to your pipes freezing.

Keep A Close Eye On Your Pipes

Knowing how to prevent frozen pipes in your home and yard is only part of the battle. If you’re in the home when the cold weather strikes, it’s wise to also keep a close eye on your plumbing.

This includes all faucets inside and outside of your home. Turn them on occasionally, inspecting that the pressure of water is working properly. This should be the first thing you do in the morning, and the last thing you do before you go to sleep.

Visually inspect occasionally to ensure that the preventive measures listed above are working. You want to be able to catch frozen pipes as soon as possible, so you can take the necessary steps to thaw them.