Ben Franklin “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  While Ben Franklin was referring to fire prevention in Philadelphia, over the years this homespun adage has come to reflect a universal truth about life – it’s better to avoid a disaster than clean up afterwards.

‘Ounce of prevention’ wisdom is all around us – brushing, flossing, dieting, exercising, fire drills, airport security, and maintenance on our cars. But what about our biggest asset?  What about our homes?

Our homes are literally begging for preventative maintenance, and all we have to do is PAY ATTENTION – unforeseen disasters can be avoided by having your three major ‘Can’t Fail’ systems checked on a regular basis.

System #1 – Heating/Cooling

Loss of control over your home’s temperature can be a huge pain in summer and a total disaster in winter.  Have your HVAC contractor service your equipment prior to each heating and cooling season.

  • Cleaning – Whether your system is fueled by natural gas, propane, oil or electricity, keeping it clean and lubricated is very important regular maintenance.
  • Bleeding – If your system is hot water radiation, bleeding any air out of the system will increase efficiency.
  • Flushing – With a steam boiler, flushing the system, as you would a car radiator prevents rust build up and future leaks.
  • Filters – In a hot air system, changing your filters twice a year will both improve efficiency and increase air quality.heating_cooling

I cannot over emphasize the importance of hiring a professional to perform this maintenance, even if you’re a do-it-yourselfer and YouTube is your best friend.  A professional mechanic will not only perform the maintenance properly with quality parts but, equally as important, will perform a detailed inspection of your entire system.  They will spot & replace questionable valves or fittings before they fail and start the ‘disaster ball’ rolling.

System #2 – Hot Water

water tank corrosionConventional hot water heaters have expiration dates on them, usually 5 or 10 years. It’s a good idea to keep a record of this and check the date at least once a year.  Anyone who has had a hot water heater blow while they were away or at work will tell you what a disaster this can cause. If you need an incentive, just picture coming home to a basement filled with hot water on a bitterly cold February night.

If it’s time to replace your hot water heater, you may want to consider alternatives to the conventional system.

  • Super saver hot water storage systems work off of your existing boiler. The water is preheated in your existing boiler and fed into a stainless steel storage thank which then brings it up to the required temperature.
  • Longer Life – This system operates at a much higher efficiency & has a much longer life span.
  • On Demand – On demand hot water systems have no storage tank and eliminate the flood worry. You only heat the water when you need it. It goes in cold on one side and comes out hot on the other. You are never storing hot water “in case you need it.” Now that is energy efficiency!

System #3 – Electrical

Your electrical system is involved with essentially everything in your home and is not something to take for granted.

  • Grounding – Are your kitchen, bathroom and outdoor outlets ground fault circuit interruption protected (GFCI)? You don’t want to find out the hard way that the answer is no. Electricity needs a path to the ground. Preferably not you.2co_alarm
  • Detectors – What about smoke, heat and carbon monoxide detection? Is your system up to date? Here, we are not taking about a flood or an inconvenience; we’re talking about the safety of your family.
  • Venting – In addition to the usual producers of carbon monoxide, direct vent heating and hot water systems also produce this deadly gas. Making sure that the vents on the outside of your house stay clear is very important, but don’t stop there. Upgrade your system of detection.
  • Surge protection – Lightning strikes are more common than you think. You don’t really want to replace all of your electronic devices do you? I’m not talking about those power strips you’re plugged into with the littlewhole-house-surge-protector-1 button that is supposed to protect you. I’m talking about a whole house surge protector attached to your electric panel to protect your entire house. All good reasons to bring in your electrician for an inspection.

In addition to these three main systems in your house, here’s a short checklist of other items that merit an ‘ounce of prevention’:

  • Roofing – Don’t wait until it leaks
  • Dryer Ventilation – Periodic cleaning will prevent lint fires
  • Chimney Inspection – Keep your flue clean if you are burning wood
  • HVAC – Air ducts and bathroom fans need to be kept clean
  • Trees – Now is a good time of year to inspect for dead limbs or even dead trees before they land on your house.

Hopefully, this ounce of information will give you a pound of motivation.

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