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How’s your 2016 going? Is it off to a good start? I hope so. Momentum in the right direction is always good.

My wife and I are determined to make 2016 a much better year at every level. So far we’ve left no area of our life and routine unexamined, including the function and maintenance of our home. We bought a fixer upper several years ago and it feels like we always have a project in progress. I told her last week that before I die I’d like just 30 days without sawdust or drywall around.

In going through our home room by room, we are realizing that by not being organized and somewhat systematic we are costing ourselves time and making things harder than they need be. Like having important warranty papers in five different drawers instead of one central location.

Here’s some “do’s and don’ts” regarding your plumbing and heating that may help you streamline your life and waste less time.

Some Do’s…

Speaking of papers, keep all your warranties, documents, receipts and instruction manuals in one place. Maybe it’s a folder in your file cabinet. Maybe in a desk. We keep all of ours in a box on a shelf above the washer and dryer. Any paperwork relating to appliances or plumbing/heating equipment goes in there. When an issue arises we know exactly where to find the information we need.

Schedule an annual maintenance check on your plumbing and heating systems. I know what you’re thinking. “Is it really worth spending money to have my system checked when everything is running ok?” As is typical with every system and piece of equipment we depend on, things work right up to the moment that they don’t. A professional heating/plumbing technician can spot weaknesses and worn equipment before it becomes an emergency. As we well know, our heating never goes out when it’s 80 degrees and sunny. And our air conditioning never goes out when it’s 32 degrees and snowing. When I lived in Phoenix, a place where your AC unit runs a solid 7 months a year, I called a professional technician to inspect my system before the weather got hot. He found a part on the verge of breaking. A simple $50 repair saved me $500 later.

Know exactly where all your valves and shut off’s are. Do you know how to turn off your main water line that brings the water from the city line into your house? Do you know where the shut off valves are under your sinks and toilets? When a pipe or line breaks isn’t the time to educate yourself. You’ll want to know exactly what to turn off to avoid further damage.

Change your filter every month. We talk about it all the time because it has the biggest cost/benefit return of anything you can do to insure the efficiency and longevity of your heating and cooling system. A clean filter traps the dirt, dust and particulates before they find their way into your equipment. A clean system operates well for a very long time.

Once a month, do pour boiling water down your sinks and shower drains. This will help dissolve any “gunk” like soap scum build up, helping your drains and pipes stay clean and free flowing.

Some Don’ts…

Don’t wait if you smell gas. Make sure all your stove burners are turned off. If you still smell gas, call the gas company immediately to report an emergency while clearing yourself, your family and pets away from the building. Natural gas is odorless so the company adds Mercaptan. It has a distinct and unpleasant “rotten egg” smell, alerting us that there is a leak.

Don’t place furniture or appliances next to thermostats. For a thermostat to get an accurate reading of the ambient room temperature, it needs to be in a centralized and uncluttered area. Placing heat producing items like TV’s, computers or radios near a thermostat causes it to read the room temperature as hotter than it actually is. In winter, this prevents the thermostat from activating the heat when the rest of the house is cold. In summertime, it will cause the air conditioning to run more frequently than it needs to.

Don’t ever pour boiling water into your toilet to try and free a clog. Most toilets are made of porcelain. Porcelain is naturally cool to the touch. Boiling water against cool porcelain can cause it to crack, creating a leak. The only solution at that point is to replace the toilet.

Don’t put everything down your garbage disposal. Fiber rich foods like celery and melon rinds can are better put in the trash can.

Finally, DO call the professionals at Sinclair with all your heating, cooling and plumbing questions. If in doubt, ask a question. We’ll be glad to answer and to help you solve your problem. Call us today at 806-749-2665!

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