Spring Home Maintenance Checklist

Spring Into Action – Keep Your Home in Shape

spring  

Spring cleaning gets all of the attention this time of year, but spring maintenance is just as important to keep your home working properly, so we’ve created our free Spring Home Maintenance Checklist.

After a long winter, it is a good idea to spend time on preventive measures to help maintain your home and property. Making sure all the elements of your home are in good working order can help keep your family safe and your maintenance expenses lower over the long run.

Do these things now & you’ll be able to spend those summer weekends relaxing!

HVAC

  • Service your AC Unit (Yes, this is somewhat self-serving, but it really is important to do.) Before summer arrives, make sure you have a maintenance agreement in place.
  • Clean out around your outside AC unit by removing leaves, dust, overgrown shrubbery and debris.
  • Change your interior AC filters now and on a regular basis throughout the warm weather.
  • Furnace: This is a good time to clean or replace your furnace filter.

Plumbing

  • Check for signs of water leaks around toilets, under sinks and around the dishwasher.
  • Check all the caulking in your home around sinks, tubs, showers, and toilets to ensure it is in good condition. Be sure to check that there are no leaks, gaps, seepage or mildew.
  • Inspect Grout & Joints in bathroom tiles for any discoloration and crumbling. Grout protects flooring, shower enclosures and countertops from water damage, and it costs much less to replace than any of those items.
  • Check your water heater for leaks and corrosion.
  • Don’t forget to make sure the sump pump is working properly before spring and summer storms hit.
  • Check outside hose faucets and their pipes for freeze damage.

Home Safety Devices

  • Change the batteries in all your smoke detectors and test each one to make sure they are working.
  • Check your electrical outlets for potential fire hazards such as frayed wires or loose-fitting plugs. Make sure outlets, fuse boxes and extension cords are not overloaded.
  • Inspect your fire extinguishers, including the hose, nozzle, and other parts, to make sure they are in good condition. Also, check that the pressure gauge is in the “green” range.

Appliances

  • Clean out the dryer vent: Dryer lint can build up inside the vent pipe, causing a fire hazard. To clean it, disconnect the vent from the back of the machine and use a dryer vent brush to remove lint. While your back there, clean up all lint, dust, and anything you find behind the dryer. Outside your house, remove the dryer vent cover and use the brush to remove any lint from the other end of the vent line.
  • Inspect Laundry Room water-supply hoses each spring for cracks.
  • Vacuum behind the refrigerator: One of the easiest ways to improve the efficiency of a refrigerator is by pulling the refrigerator away from the wall and gently vacuuming behind it to make sure it’s getting enough air circulation and the coils are not running too hot.
  • Clean your garbage disposal: To remove any food particles left on the blades, simply feed a tray of ice cubes through it while running cold water. To eliminate any bad smells, you can run a mixture of baking soda and vinegar through the disposal.

Windows & Doors

  • Check seals around windows and doors: Cold weather can cause seals around windows and doors to crack or loosen, letting air leak in and out of your house. Repairing any problems you find can help increase your home’s energy efficiency and reduce your cooling costs.
  • Check & clean screen doors and windows: Before putting your screens in, be sure to carefully check each one and repair any holes or tears, no matter how small, so bugs can’t get in. You can find screen repair kits at most hardware and home improvement stores.

Attics & Basements

  • Don’t overlook your attic: Search for signs that indicate insects or animals have made your attic their home. Also, look carefully for mold, which often takes the form of gray or black blotches that look like staining. Proper insulation and good ventilation will deter mold growth in the attic, especially in the heat of the summer.

Roof, Chimney & Gutters

  • Inspect your roof: Check for damaged shingles, which can make your roof susceptible to leaks.
  • Examine the exterior of Chimney: While you’re looking at your roof, be sure to check out the exterior of the chimney for signs of damage.
  • If you have a wood burning fireplace, then have the flue cleaned and inspected by a certified chimney sweep.
  • Clean and examine gutters: Clean leaves and other debris from your gutters and downspouts to keep water flowing and reduce the possibility of water damage. Multiple freezes and thaws during the winter can result in sags and dips so be sure to check for those and get them fixed so water doesn’t drip onto exterior wood like fascia boards.

Wood, Brick & Patios

  • Inspect brickwork and stucco: Check for chipping, deteriorated mortar, and unsightly deposits.
  • Inspect driveways and paths: Freezing and thawing are rough on concrete, asphalt and other hardscaping materials. Take a walk around your property to look for damage to walkways, paths and driveways, and schedule repairs as needed.
  • Inspect Wood Decks, Railings, Windowsills and Steps: Check the wood around your home for any rot that took hold during the winter months. If boards become soft or splinter, they create an unsafe situation for you and your family.
  • Probe the Wood Trim: Use a screwdriver to probe the wood trim around windows, doors, railings, and decks. Make repairs now before the spring rains do more damage to the exposed wood.
  • Repair Paint: Keep painted surfaces in good shape by scraping off any chipped and peeling paint and spot painting exposed surfaces. The worst thing you can do is leave wood exposed because that’s when it will begin to rot.
  • Check Foundation Vents: A house with a crawl space has vents along the foundation walls. The vents provide air circulation that helps dissipate excess moisture and prevent mold growth. The vents have screens that keep critters from taking up residence under your residence. The screens usually are recessed and become blocked with leaves, twigs, and debris.
  • Trim Overgrowth: Spring is a good time to trim branches of shrubs and trees away from your house. Keep branches 5 to 7 feet away from your house so they can’t conduct moisture onto your roofing and siding. You’ll also help discourage squirrels and raccoons from exploring ways to nest in your attic.

If you’ve found any HVAC, plumbing or electrical issues that you can’t fix yourself, just give us a call at 804-358-9333. Also, don’t forget to call us to have one of our experienced HVAC technicians come out to Inspect and Tune-up your Air Conditioning System before the hot weather hits. Visit JamesRiverAir.com for more information.

 

Why is my sump pump not working?

Why is my sump pump not working?

You’re probably asking this question because you’ve experienced some water in your basement during or after a heavy rain. There are a number of steps you can take to diagnose and fix the problem before the next storm hits.

sump pump

What are the main causes for a sump pump to fail & how do I fix them?

  1. The sump pump is not getting power.

  • Check to make sure the electrical outlet the pump is plugged into is working. Plug something else into the outlet & if it’s not working, then check to see if the circuit breaker has been tripped.
  • Sump pumps require a lot of electricity, so you want it to be on its own circuit breaker.
  • If you have to use an extension cord, make sure you’re using one that can handle the voltage.
  1. There is a problem with the float switch.

    • Before checking anything inside the pump, be sure to unplug it from the power source.
    • The float switch on your sump pump operates in a similar way to the float switch in your toilet. If it can’t engage properly, the pump will not turn on or off.
    • The pump may have shifted inside the basin, causing the float switch to lodge against its side. Check to make sure it’s in the proper position.
    • Debris may also be a factor in preventing the switch from operating freely, so clear away any that you see.
  2. The screen inside the pump is blocked.

    • Sump pumps have an intake screen at the bottom through which the water flows into the pump. Check to make sure that it hasn’t been plugged by debris and that water can flow freely.
  1. The discharge line has become clogged.

    • Sump pumps typically expel water out of your basement and away from your foundation through a discharge pipe. If water can’t exit your home, the system will not work.
    • The end of the pipe will be outside your house, with the drain pipe on a downslope leading away from the house.
    • Inspect the end of the pipe to make sure there isn’t any debris blocking the water flow. Be sure to shine a flashlight into the pipe to see if something is farther inside. Clear away any debris you find.

I think I fixed the problem but how do I test my sump pump to make sure it’s working?

First, make sure the sump pump is plugged back into the electrical outlet. Then dump enough clean water into the pump to raise the float switch and listen for it to start up. If you can, have someone outside to make sure the water comes out of the drainage pipe.

If you couldn’t find the problem or your sump pump is still not working after you test it, then it could be the pump motor is broken, the sump pump itself is defective, or there is a clog in the drainage line that you can’t access. In that case, just give us a call at (804) 358-9333 and one of experienced plumbers will be right out to make sure your sump pump is working before the next heavy rain comes! Learn more about us at www.jamesriverair.com.

What causes your water heater to make loud rumbling noises?

What Causes Your Water Heater To Make Loud Rumbling Noises?

Loud noises coming from your hot water heater is obviously concerning. The good news is that it isn’t dangerous; it’s not going to blow up. But you do need to fix the problem so you can keep taking those hot showers we all enjoy, especially in the winter!

So what’s causing the noise and what should you do about it?

The most common culprit is that sediment has built up at the bottom of your water heater tank.

Where does the sediment in the tank come from?

It’s from the water itself. As water makes its way from rain falling on the ground, through waterways and into our water systems, it collects minerals (mostly calcium and magnesium.) Homes that have ‘hard’ water are particularly susceptible to mineral buildup.

What does this sediment do to your water heater?

As the sediment builds up in the tank you will began to hear a rumbling sound. As the amount of sediment increases, the noise increases.

The sediment sinks to the bottom of your tank where the heating element is. Water gets mixed in and trapped underneath the sediment. As your water heater’s burner heats that water, it creates steam bubbles that are forced to escape the sediment layers and that’s what causes the loud knocking or rumbling noise.

The sediment acts like insulation, reducing the heat transfer within the tank, so your water heater’s burner has to work harder. And working harder mean less efficiency and higher utility bills.

A bigger issue is that sediment buildup can overheat the water heater’s metal tank, causing it to deteriorate. It will only be a matter of time before the tank will rust and begin leaking or burst, causing possible water damage in your home.

So how is this water heater problem fixed?

Your hot water heater needs to be drained and the sediment flushed out. You can do it yourself or call a professional plumber. Draining your water heater is fairly straight forward but the process has number of steps that must be followed exactly to avoid damage.

We’re biased, of course, and suggest you let one of our licensed plumbers do it for you. While we’re there we can thoroughly inspect your water heater to make sure there are no other problems. An efficiently running water heater not only saves on utility bills but also prolongs the life of your water heater.

So if you don’t feel confident about doing it yourself or don’t have the time, just give us a call and we’ll be right over.

If you have any questions feel free to contact us at (804) 358-9333 or at jamesriverair.com. If you want to learn more about our Tankless Hot Water solution visit this link: Tankless Water Heaters.

A Look Back Into artoberVA

 

Let’s take a look back into our experience during artoberVA. What is artoberVA? Every October, CultureWorks presents events, exhibits, collaborations, and any arts or culture in the Richmond area for the entire month. If you love art, then the month of October in Richmond is a special month for you. As a company, we were able to participate in a couple of ways. The first thing we were able to do was hang an extraordinary piece painted by Matt Lively, who did an incredible job. This piece was purchased by our owner, Hugh Joyce, during an auction that benefited the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund. Drop by our office anytime to check it out. We would love to have you and maybe you can get a picture with the bow tie man himself, Hugh Joyce.

Lastly, we were able to collaborate with RVA Coffee Stain created by Doug Orleski. RVA Coffee Stain is a cartoon strip and blog that has been featured in Style Weekly, ABC 8 News’, and more. Doug has a tradition where he leaves random pieces of art around Richmond and post on his social media where they are located and if you find it you are able to keep it. We thought that was cool, so we partnered with him to leave 4 pieces at 4 different locations on October 14th, 2017. The art abandonment that day was a complete success. With the art pieces, we even threw in a couple of James River Air swag for the people who found the pieces. Congratulations to all the people who found the art abandonment’s!

We are excited for artoberVA next year. It’s good to come together to celebrate art and culture in Richmond. Thanks to Matt Lively and RVA Coffee Stain for celebrating artoberVA with us. Remember if you ever need James River Air we are hear for you!

 

Your HVAC system isn’t working? What the heck!

Temperatures soared to 100° – Your HVAC system isn’t working?  What the heck!

Last week, in the RVA, temperatures soared to almost 100°.  Most of us were cool and comfy in our homes and not terribly concerned with the extreme heat…it was outside and out of our minds.

HVAC

During these high temperatures was your air conditioner performing well?  Was it able to keep up with temperatures close to 100° for five or six days consecutively?  If your answer is no, you’re probably asking yourself why!  Why are you paying a HVAC company to come out and check your equipment regularly?  Why did you just invest thousands of dollars to install a new HVAC unit only for it to disappoint you when you need it the most?  This can all be very frustrating for you!  We are here to tell you…the equipment is not the scoundrel in this story!

Let us explain.  In the RVA, your air conditioner is designed to run optimally when outdoor temperatures are as high as 95° and the indoor temperature is 75°.  Most of the summer, you will achieve the temperature you’ve set on the thermostat but when outdoor temperatures are above 90°, the system isn’t designed to lower the inside temperatures to 72-73°.  If the system installed at your house was designed to accommodate high temperatures for 10 -20 days a year, the system would be grossly oversized and would create a dreadful humidity problem in your home.

What’s the solution?  Insulation and sealing of your homes envelope is the best way to keep temperatures cool inside.  Keep the cold air in and the warm air out!

Contact us at (804) 358-9333 or www.jamesriverair.com for more information on how to keep the cold air in and the warm air out.

Behind The Scenes Of Our Latest Commercial Shoot

Hugh with dogs

Hugh Let The Dogs Out

We always have a blast working with the Richmond SPCA, but we especially have a good time when we can shoot a commercial showing off some of the best dogs and cats.

But what good is it when no one else knows? So we decided to give everyone an exclusive look behind the scenes of our latest fall promotion commercial shoot “Hugh Let The Dogs Out.”

watching video

Hugh and others viewing the recorded shot.

hugh with cat

On set recording with Richmond SPCA cat.

Director preparing for the shoot.

Director preparing for the shoot.

Getting ready for the shoot.

Getting ready for the shoot.

Snapchat!

Snapchat!

Say cheese!

Ted Linhart, Hugh Joyce, and The Official Mascot of the Richmond SPCA

Dogs ready for action.

Dogs ready for action.

Thank you, Richmond!

You helped us raise over $5,000 for the Richmond SPCA!

Last month, we ran a campaign on our Facebook page.  One like for James River Air = $1 donation to the Richmond SPCA.  Photos of artists’ work from the Plein Air Richmond event = $5 donation to the Richmond SPCA.

We were very happy with the results!  We received 4,885 new likes ($4,885) and there were 88 ($440) photos posted.  We rounded up our donation to $5,000 for the likes bringing the total raised to $5,440!

Thank you everyone for helping us support the Richmond SPCA and all the great work they do here in Richmond!

richmond-spca-likes-james-river

Dirty Sock Syndrome

dirty_sockIf you smell something when your A/C first starts up and / or when your heat pump goes into defrost…

From the Desk of Tom Pugh, Residential Service Manager

Dirty Sock Syndrome is a product of the environment.  Where you live can have a lot to do with whether or not you will have Dirty Sock; it is not the equipment’s fault.  That being said, we sometimes have clients experience Dirty Sock after installing a new unit.  They’ll tell us that they never smelled it with the old unit; it’s just since the new unit was installed.  They are correct!

The new evaporator coils are larger and run at a warmer temperature because of government mandates for higher SEER ratings.  This 2-3° difference has opened up a new can of worms.  It is estimated that up to 2% of all HVAC systems in North America have Dirty Sock Syndrome.

The cure is not always simple.  One way to eliminate the problem is to coat the coil with a sealant that will prevent the microbiological growth from adhering to the coil.  The sealant makes the coil slick.  Another way is to install indoor air quality accessories, like a UV light or bipolar ionization system.  These can come with a cost of $1,000-$2,000.

Bottom line:  the bacteria / microbiological growth is a nuisance for the homeowner, but can be treated.  Contact us today if you’re experiencing Dirty Sock Syndrome – we can help!

Whole-House Dehumidification Systems

One product we like to recommend to our clients is a whole-house dehumidification system.  When you’re looking at ways to increase your comfort during the humid summers in Richmond, one of these can make a huge difference.

A well-insulated, tightly-built home, while efficient, can trap moisture, causing a sticky feeling, window condensation, odors, and uncomfortable conditions.  A whole-house dehumidification system removes that moisture, and unlike a portable dehumidifier, it doesn’t require manual emptying.

While your air conditioner can bring your home’s temperature down to where you set it, it can’t always remove the humidity down to a comfortable level.  Without a dehumidifier, you might find your home is at your desired temperature, but you’re still uncomfortable!  On the other hand, with a dehumidifier, you may actually be able to turn your thermostat up and run your air conditioner less, saving on cooling bills, because the dehumidifier costs less to run than the air conditioner.

We install several major brands of dehumidifiers, including Honeywell and AprilAire.  They require little maintenance, usually just a filter change once per year.

Contact us today for more information!

We Still Have Golden Tickets!

Richmond-area homeowners:  Our Golden Ticket promotion is going until April 20th!  We still have plenty of Golden Tickets remaining.  We’ve had a lot of winners, but one of the $1 system tickets is still out there!

Call, contact us online, or stop by our office for a free ticket!