Thursday Jul 07 2011
A little planning can save money and time later
By: Paul Apfel Inside Lincoln Correspondent
Home Maintenance Series
With the arrival of the hot weather, one of your home systems is an immediate concern. The other will become a concern within a few months when the wet weather returns. Air conditioning First, let’s deal with the heat and how you can stay cool. The most obvious solution is a well-functioning air conditioning system. Reputable contractors tell us that homeowner maintenance is simple and straight-forward. Keep the external compressor units clean and debris-free. You should be able to through the cooling fins to the inside the compressor housing. If, however, those fins are so dirty that your view is obscured, try using a garden hose to clean the fins. If that doesn’t work, call a Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning technician to clean them for you. They can apply chemicals that would be too dangerous for the average homeowner to use. Next, ensure your interior filter units are clean. Contractors tell us these should be changed or washed every 60 to 90 days. Buy the disposable ones at your local hardware store. Washable filters may be purchased through reputable HVAC contractors. If your air conditioning unit is not working, first check the exterior switch to ensure it’s in the “on” position. Then check your breaker panel to ensure that the breakers are in the proper position. If the unit still doesn’t operate, contact a licensed HVAC contractor. This is where you should exercise caution. We hear from some homeowners that some unscrupulous contractors have been presenting outrageous bills to unsuspecting homeowners, claiming that capacitors and motors need to be replaced when second opinions have proved the earlier diagnosis incorrect. While HVAC units do wear out and occasionally need repair, they are remarkably resilient, often lasting 15 to 25 years without major repair, according to contractor Tom Howes of The Howes Company in Orangevale. Be skeptical of contractors who advise major expenditures and equipment replacement. And get second opinions if you become suspicious. Your roof Now is also a good time to be thinking of your roof and its potential for leakage when our weather changes, which it will do in just a few months. If you came through this wet winter without leaks, congratulations. But don’t rely on the past to keep you dry next winter. According to building representatives with whom we’ve asked, roofs should be inspected every two to three years and more frequently if you live on a golf course and are an occasional target of errant golf balls. Golf ball strikes can crack roofing tiles and high winds can dislodge tiles. Cracked tiles should be replaced and dislodged ones have to be repositioned and refastened. But your No. 1 culprit in roof failures, according to our sources, is mud and debris. Over time, dust and debris can collect under roof tiles. Add water and you have mud. All that should wash into the gutters; that’s the way roofs are designed. But, experts caution, exit pathways can become clogged over time. That allows the water to collect and stand and eventually penetrate the roofing felt under the tiles. Now, you have a leak. Homeowners should contact the roofing company who originally installed the roof or another reputable roofing contractor and arrange for an inspection. Doing so now may avoid a rush later in the year when the weather forecasters advise us that wet weather is on the way. A little planning and preventative maintenance now can go a long way in saving money and grief later in the year.