ACI Northwest Blog : Archive for March, 2012

Home Inspection 101 for Shoshone County

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

When purchasing a home in Shoshone County, it is very important to analyze precisely what kind of investment you are about to make. This type of investigation might be best for a professional home inspector to perform.  They are accustomed to advising potential homeowners on what type of heating repairs or electrical maintenance needs to be done. Remember though, employing an inspector could be pricey, depending on the time and expert level they might require.  But it could be worth the investment since a home is undoubtably going to be worth more than a home inspector’s fees.

For that reason, it can be very helpful if you can take a look at a place on your own first to see if it is even worth making an offer on. Of course, you cannot complete the type of inspection that a professional would be able to do, but you can take a look for some important and easy to spot problems that will give you a good idea whether or not it is even worth taking the process on this house any further.

For instance, you should start by taking a look at the house from a good distance away. Make sure the house actually looks like it is standing upright and that it is even. Sometimes from a distance you can see that a house is actually leaning to one side when that is not obvious up close.

Also, this will give you a chance to check out the lay of the land around the house. Remember, you want water to flow naturally away from your house so that it does not get into the basement and cause a problem on a regular basis. That means that you want the ground to slope away from the house rather than be flat or slope towards it.

Check out all of the plumbing and be sure to run water, flush toilets and thoroughly inspect all bathrooms and the kitchen. You want to see high quality fixtures and good water pressure. Also, check to see how long you have to wait to get hot water at various locations to test the water heater.

Be sure to find out what type of heating system the house has in place as well and how old it is. Even a system that works well will need to be replaced soon if it is more than 10 years old. While this may not necessarily stop you from purchasing the house, the cost of replacing that system can certainly impact the amount you are willing to offer.

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What You Need to Know About Water Heater Leaks

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

In Cheney a leak in your water heater can be a big or small problem depending on where the leak is, how severe it is and whether it requires repair or replacement. Here are some things you should know about tank water heater leaks that will help you determine who to call and how to act.

Where Is the Leak?

Step one is to determine where the water is coming from. Look for leaks around the fittings and valves attached to the device. If one of them is loose or if you see water dripping from a connection, it can probably be fixed relatively easily. However, if the leak is coming from the body of the water heater, you may have a ruptured tank which is a sure sign of a bad water heater that needs to be replaced.

Draining Your Tank

Once you identify the leak, turn off the water supply to the tank and prepare to drain it the rest of the way. You should also disconnect the power from the device. If the water heater is gas, I recommend you call a professional who is certified to work on gas appliances. For electric water heaters, you may still want a professional, but the next step here is to simply turn off the breaker to stop electricity from flowing to the device.

Drain the tank next, using the bucket to capture the water as it is released. If you have a floor drain and can angle the tank over the drain, go ahead and do that now. Once the tank is empty, it is time to tighten your fittings.

Fixing the Problem

Assuming this is a fittings or valve problem, loosen any fittings that appeared to have leaked, repair the plumbing thread and retape the pipes, finally tightening the fittings back into place. The pressure valve may need to be replaced as well – do this now if it is necessary.

Before reapplying the electricity to the water heater, reattach the water supply and turn it on to check for leaks. If it holds water, you are lucky and your water heater’s tank isn’t leaking. Reattach everything and turn it back on.

If you notice the leak continues, you should call ACI Northwest, as it is likely the glass inside your tank has cracked or is leaking. Most of the time, this cannot be repaired and means you need a new water heater installed.

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Heating Q/A: Why is my Air Handler Squealing?

Friday, March 16th, 2012

As a Sandpoint resident, do unusual noises ever come from your expensive heating system?  Do they make you worry that something is wrong?

It’s true that an unusual noise does often mean that you need heating system maintenance; however, a noise emanating from your HVAC system does not necessarily mean a major repair. You should always have a technician check out if you suspect a problem with your system, but not all problems are going to be expensive to fix.

One common noise that homeowners notice and complain about is a squealing noise originating in the air handler. Usually, this noise is coming from the fan belt that connects the blower fan and the motor. Over time, the belt can stretch out and become worn or misaligned, which makes it slip and generate that aggravating squealing noise.

So, while the squealing can be annoying and unpleasant, a slipping belt is by no means major. A belt is an inexpensive part and a technician can install it in just a matter of minutes.

As long as the noise is a squealing and not a grinding, this simple fix wil often take care of the problem. If you hear a grinding noise, however, immediately shut the unit down and call a technician. This may mean that your motor bearings are worn out and need to be replaced ASAP before further damage is inflicted on the motor itself.  Call ACI Northwest with any questions about your heating system.

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Getting a Heating Upgrade? Consider an Energy Audit First for Your Bayview Home

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

Are you considering a heating system replacement for your Bayview home?

Good for you! After all, it’s usually a sound investment that generates savings both in heating costs and repair bills, plus it keeps your family happy and comfortable.

Before you take the plunge on new equipment, though, you may want to get a home energy audit. What you find may help you choose the right system or even decide you don’t need to make the leap after all.

A home energy audit is essentially an inspection by a professional of the materials used to insulate your home. This includes not just the insulation in the walls, but also the walls themselves, along with windows, doors and so on. The idea is to figure out how much heat is escaping your home to the outside, so an audit may also include looking at ducts, vents or anywhere else where air could flow through.

So what does an energy audit have to do with a heating upgrade?

Think about it like this. There are two ways to make your home warmer: increase heat gain (e.g., get a more efficient heating system) or decrease heat loss. If you are able to do the latter, you may find that the former is unnecessary.

For example, you may get an energy audit and discover that by installing new windows and resealing your doors, you can increase heating efficiency by 10%. This could have big implications for your decision to get a new heating system, as you may decide that you can save money by getting a smaller capacity furnace.

You may even realize that you no longer need a new furnace at all!

Of course, you may still need a new heating system regardless. This is possible, but if it happens, so what? You have lost nothing by getting the audit — and you may have learned something about your home’s efficiency — and you wind up with the new system you were going to buy anyway.

Either way, a home energy audit is a diligent first step in upgrading your home’s heating efficiency.  To lean more call ACI Northwest

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