4 Steps to Prepare Your Home for a Weather Emergency

When you talk about home ownership one of the most important things to keep in mind after purchasing your home is protecting your investment. Burglary and natural weather disasters are two of the most common and costly losses a person can experience in regards to their home. Depending on which area of the country you live, you may be more prone to specific weather issues. Nashville TN in particular has a higher probability of being devastated by a tornado compared to other states across America. The specific facts and figures about tornadoes that have historically hit Nashville and the surrounding Tennessee areas can be found by clicking here.

We are here to help you be more prepared. Below we have listed our four steps to prepare your family and home for a tornado or severe thunderstorm.

  1. Properly Protect Your Property

Some things you want to definitely get done before the storm hits is to add hurricane shutters or outdoor plywood boards to all of your home’s windows. Be sure to install anchors and pre-drilled holes ahead of time. This is as a precaution in case of an emergency you can board up your windows quickly and easily. Also, if you are looking into replacement windows in Springfield or Nashville TN be sure to ask to have tempered or storm resistant glass installed. In addition, consider adding hurricane straps that connect the roof to the walls of your home. Lastly, when the storm hits be sure you have a basement or interior room to gather everyone together until the storm passes. Broken glass and flying debris are two of the most common sources of injury turning a tornado.

 

  1. Stock Up

Ever notice when there is a big storm forecasted to hit your hometown that your local grocery store always runs out of bread and milk? That isn’t the kind of stocking up we are talking about. If your power goes out that milk isn’t going to do you any good. You want to make sure that you have enough basic survival items to get you through. You will want to have at least a two week supply of bottled water as well as ready-to-eat non-perishable foods for both the humans and the animals in your family. Also, be sure to have a bag packed in case you get orders to evacuate your home.

You are going to want to pack the following:

-          A manual can opener

-          Medicine

-          Hygiene products

-          Clothing

-          Tennis shoes

-          Battery powered flashlight

-           First aid kit

-          Two coolers: One with ice and one with food

-          Blankets

-          Sleeping bags

 

  1. Take Inventory and Make Sure You’re Covered

Do a quick inventory of your home to prepare yourself for the worst case scenario. Take pictures, or better yet video, of expensive items that if damaged would need to be replaced through an insurance claim such as electronics, clothing, jewelry, and furniture. Also, when making large purchases be sure to file the receipts to prove their value. Check your insurance coverage and make sure it reflects the current value of your home as well as the items within your home. Consider taking on additional coverage that will cover living expenses and valuable items should your home be classified as uninhabitable following a tornado.

 

  1. Have an Exit Strategy

This is one of the most important steps that will safe valuable time and reduce stress should it be deemed necessary that you leave your residence. If you don’t have your own vehicle, be sure your coordinate communication and transportation arrangements prior with family members or friends. You want to make sure your whole family has a place to go, and this includes your pets. Never leave your pets behind at home. Also, make sure you have the proper paperwork packed in the car in case you cannot return to your home. This includes your social security card, proof of residence, wills, birth certificates, driver’s license, insurance policies, and a personal checkbook. You do not want to take risks when it comes to mother-nature. If your area is under instructions to evacuate, you should do just that.

Products to Make Your Home More Energy Efficient

Do you every stop to think about off of the items you have accumulated in your home over the years? You have clothing, furniture, appliances, electronics, and more. I know it can be overwhelming. It seems like every week, or maybe even every day, you find that there is something you need and you make another trip to the store. There are a lot of products on the market to consider, but we’ve compiled a list of 4 energy efficient products that every homeowner should know about.

colorado home 4Window Tinting
According to Business Insider, Colorado was named one of the top ten healthiest states in America. So why wouldn’t you want your home to be healthy and efficient as well. Make the investment in home window tinting in Colorado Springs and your home will thank you. Residential window tinting can reduce 99% of harmful UV rays from the sun. Also, window film can protect the items inside your home such as furniture, carpets, and other fabrics from fading. Most importantly, you will see window tinting begin to pay for itself once you see that savings on your next electric bill.

Rain Harvester
Having a rain harvester is a great way to recycle water that is provided free of charge from Mother Nature. Collect the rain runoff water from your roof and recycle is to water your lawn or even wash your car. It is important to remember that for safety reasons, this water is not for human consumption. However, you can still cut down your water bills dramatically and not feel guilty about shining up your vehicle. To learn how you can start harvesting rain water for your home, click here.

Power Circulating Pump
The average American household will waste around 17,000 gallons of water down their drain while waiting for hot water to travel from the water heater to the faucet. Investing in an efficient circular pump will eliminate the wait time for getting the water temperature you desire. The best part is, the circulating pump only uses about as much energy as a night-light.

Foam Insulation
We all know that insulating your home is essential to maintaining a comfortable temperature and saving money on your energy bills. When you weigh your options consider putting in spray foam insulation instead of the traditional fiberglass insulation. Foam spray has a higher R-value which means it has higher insulation properties and increased thermal comfort. In addition spray foam offers benefits of being mold and water damage resistant. Lastly, with foam insulation there are absolutely no air cavities or pockets for heating or air conditioning to escape.

It’s Too Hot to Live with a Warm Refrigerator

Normally by the time mid-July arrives in Louisiana, the inside of my refrigerator starts to seem like a cool, refreshing respite from the annual heat and humidity. Thankfully, it isn’t that hot today, because I don’t have the luxury of a cold drink from my fridge or the refreshing cool that beckons each time I open the door.

Instead, I find myself standing with the refrigerator door half-open, wondering if the air isn’t actually cooler than it seems to be. I place a can of soda on my forehead, and that confirms it: my refrigerator just isn’t that cold. I consider calling a repairman for a moment, but then bring my not-cool-enough soda to the desk and start researching how to fix my fridge.

I went through a couple of the most easy-to-spot causes for warm refrigerators, and didn’t find anything unusual. It was time to start taking off panels, and looking at the refrigerator’s inner workings. The outside of the panel looked fine, but as soon as I opened it, I could see there was a problem: Frost.

Now that I think about it, I wonder how many people know that frost on the inside of a refrigerator is a sign of warming – not cooling. This is especially true when frost covers the evaporator coils behind the panel. The coils need access to circulating air in order to cool the refrigerator. If frost is restricting air flow or otherwise keeping air away from the coils, the air won’t be adequately cooled.

No need to call one of Bossier City’s appliance repair pros to get this problem fixed – at least not yet. All I needed to do was unplug my refrigerator, open the doors, and let the frost melt away. My brother lives in nearby Shreveport, so I was able to store some food in his fridge for a couple of days; aside from a little inconvenience – and having to wipe up the melted water – the solution wasn’t a big deal.

We’ll see if defrosting the fridge solved the problem, or just temporarily dealt with a symptom of another problem. My fridge is more than a decade old, and I understand that frost can happen once in a while without anything malfunctioning. But sometimes frosted coils are a symptom of another problem like a bad gasket, a bad thermostat, or a clogged drainage tube.

Now – two days after the defrosting and my refrigerator is doing fine. I’m not sure if my fridge is in the clear yet, so I’m still watching it closely. If the refrigerator warms up again, I’ve got a repairman to call. In the meantime, I’m crossing my fingers and looking forward to grabbing a cold drink the next time I want one.

Reduce Your Air Conditioning Bills This Summer

We’re just three weeks into summer, and Birmingham’s weather forecast already looks familiar: Temperatures in the 90s, partly cloudy, and humid. Air conditioners all over Alabama will be getting a workout. And that means your next few utility bills could put a dent in your budget.

There’s no way to avoid paying a little more to stay cool when it’s really hot and muggy. But there are several steps you can take to give your air conditioner – and your budget – a little relief this summer:

Many homeowners turn their homes into cocoons over the summer, only rarely opening the windows and relying completely on the air conditioner to keep things cool. That’s a mistake. Here in Birmingham, temperatures often drop about twenty degrees overnight – usually cool enough to be very comfortable. Take advantage of the cool by opening some windows at every opportunity – especially early in the morning when temperatures are lowest.

Another natural way to reduce your utility bill is to create some shade. Smartly-positioned trees and large shrubs can shield your home from direct sunlight, and help to keep your home cooler inside and out. While it may take a while for a tree to grow large enough to shield your home, shielding your windows is an easier goal that can also be an effective means of keeping heat out of your home.

If your windows aren’t already shielded from the sun by some well-placed vegetation, you should take care to ensure that warm sunlight is not pouring in. Blinds and curtains are very effective at keeping heat at bay – or they can be if they are closed when the sun is shining directly on them. Unless you’re enjoying the brightness, you’ll want to keep your blinds and curtains closed against direct sunlight.

Everyone knows that drafty windows and doors can let cold air in and bleed the heat from your home in wintertime. The opposite is true during the summer months, when hot air can enter your home and precious cool air can escape. No matter the season, drafts can add to your utility bill; if you haven’t done so already, check your windows and doors for them. Simply move a candle around your seals, watch the flame to identify a telltale breeze, and then caulk or weather-seal any gaps.

Here’s another idea: If you’ve got a ceiling fan, use it. Ceiling fans are less expensive to run than air conditioners, and while they can’t cool the air, they can help to keep you cooler. Using a ceiling fan when you’re in the room can keep you comfortable even when the temperature is a little higher than ideal. If a ceiling fan or two allows you to remain comfortable even when thermostat set a couple of degrees higher, you can save a lot of money.

Every good heating and air technician in Birmingham will tell you: Change your air filters regularly. If you don’t, the filters will become clogged with dust that makes it harder for your heating and air conditioning system to draw air. And that extra effort will cost you money as well as needless wear-and-tear on your system. Changing filters once a month requires a little effort and investment on your part, but lower utility bills will be your just reward.

Finally – and this could represent a much bigger investment than the others – you should have a heating and air technician evaluate your system. This is especially true if your system is more than a decade old. The technician will be able to let you know if your system is energy-efficient by today’s standards and estimate how much you might be able to save each month by upgrading.

No matter what you do, it’s going to be a hot summer. So plan for it, adopt some better habits, and do what you need to do to stay comfortable without breaking your budget. In the meantime, I’ll be relaxing under a ceiling fan with a cool drink.

Questions You Should Be Asking Your Electrical Contractor

Often times it can be difficult to choose a company when you are searching for a service. Unlike with a tangible product, you can’t hold a service and with that there comes a higher level of uncertainty. There are a lot of electricians out there, so how do you know which electrical contractor in Chattanooga to choose? We have prepared a list of 3 questions you should ask your expert electrician before they begin any work on your property whether it’s a residential or commercial space.

Ask if they are licensed and insured

Whether you choose a local company or an individual electrical contractor this should be the first question you ask. In Tennessee and most other states, electricians are required to obtain a license identifying that they are certified in their field. Within that licensed there are two different tiers of electrician certification. First is the journeyman license. If you hear this term this means that your electrical contractor is only licensed for electrical installation. For more complex repairs they will need a master electricians license or need to work alongside one. To obtain the certification of a master electrician an individual must have clearance for both installation and design of electrical systems and must have at least two years of professional experience. Also, since electrical work can potentially be dangerous, make sure companies and/or individuals are insured for at least $500,000 combined in both work compensation and liability insurance. Lastly, if you choose a company for your electrical repairs, check their standing with the Better Business Bureau t

-  Ask about estimates, references, and permits

Do you own research online with tools like social media and Angie’s List but also don’t be afraid to ask for references from your potential electrical contractor. Also, never allow an electrician to initial repairs before giving you a written estimate. Understand that there may be a small service or diagnostic fee for the electrician’s time if you choose not to go forward with the repairs. Make sure you have all information upfront, in writing, and filed away in case there is a discrepancy in the future. Be sure to ask if there any permits that you need to file or that will be filed on your behalf. Often it is standard for the electrical contractor to request and fulfill and permit requirements, but make sure your electrician knows you want to be informed every step of the way.

-  Ask the personal questions

This doesn’t have to get too personal now but ask general questions such as what kind of electrical work the contractor does most or if they have a specialty. Even if you have multiple electricians with various experiences, it is ideal if their skills and abilities overlap so you can be confident that if an issue arises whoever is around will be able to troubleshoot. Also have a clear understanding of who is expected to complete the work. Most people assume the person they are talking to will be the electrician actually working within their home or commercial space. If the task isn’t too difficult it may be passed down to a journeyman or apprentice. Have this discussion upfront and communicate your expectations with your professional electrical contractor.

Helping You Find the Right Auto Repair Shop

nail in tire before taking car to get fixedFinding a mechanic you can trust is not an easy thing to do.  I was lucky and found mine quite by accident when I had a nail go through my tire and needed a quick fix. When it happened I checked my smartphone and realized I was only a few blocks away so I was able to limp over there in my car for the repair. Now I use Aarrow Transmissions for auto repair whenever I need something fixed. Most people on the other hand are not so lucky and need to do a great deal of research before they can find a good car repair shop. Here are my top tips for finding a reliable one.

  1. Check for certifications and affiliations
  2. Check on their reputation
  3. Price Comparisons
  4. Customer service

Any auto repair business who knows what they are doing should at least have certifications from the ASE or AAA. Being certified and having affiliations with places such as the Better Business Bureau is a sign they care about being recognized for the quality of work they are performing.

As for a shops reputation, these days it’s hard to hide. Ask people you might know about a repair place and also go online and look at reviews. It’s a dead giveaway to spot businesses with happy customers or those that wish they would have gone somewhere else for their service.

No matter what size repair you need, always shop around. Figure out what each place you are considering taking your car to charges per hour as well as how much they they charge for parts. You can usually find out the latter by looking up the market price of the part online. Prices vary widely so beware.

Make sure you choose a company that cares about their customer service. Talking to a car repair receptionist who is rude or doesn’t want to help is usually a sign they don’t like their employer and are treated poorly themselves. If the auto shop doesn’t treat people well just think about what they might do to your car.

Water Damage Prevention

Leaky PipeWhen it comes to preventing water damage the best course of action is to perform routine maintenance on your plumbing. You can also create an emergency plan to prevent the extent of the water damage to your home. Make sure you know where to shut off your water main so you can stop the flow of water coming out of the leaky or broken pipe. This is generally located somewhere on the bottom floor or in your basement; very rarely will you find it on the second floor of a home. Repairing a leaky or broken pipe is not as difficult as it might seem and most homeowners, equipped with the right tools, can do it themselves.

Spotting water damageLevels of Water Damage in its early stage is important in preventing extensive damage, but it can be very difficult to spot sometimes. You will want to make sure that you look for water stains on the ceiling and walls on a regular basis. You will also want to check underneath sinks for any leaks coming from the kitchen garbage disposal, kitchen faucets, or bathroom sinks. Most broken pipes start off as leaky pipes and eventually break causing large amounts of damage to your home. If you see any sign of water damage on the ceiling or pooling of water underneath a sink, then put your emergency plan into action.

Being constantly vigilant is a great way for a homeowner to prevent damaging leaks in your home, but you still don’t have the ability to see or understand your entire plumbing system. This is why you should contact a professional plumber to inspect your system at least once a year. We have found Mr. Rooter plumbers to be experts in the field of maintenance. They will provide a full inspection of your plumbing, clean the interior of your pipes, and unclog drains all in one visit. They even have their own trademarked service called the HydroScrub®; which is a special tool used to clean the interior of your piping system.

By having regular maintenance performed by a professional plumber in combination with your own inspections is a fantastic way to prevent damaging issues to your home. The prevention and maintenance steps that you take will dramatically decrease the cost of repairing the damaged areas of your home. Not to mention save a lot of sentimental value of items that can never be replaced.

All Mr. Rooter HydroScrub® and services information was found on http://tampa-bay.mrrooter.com/Services.