Spring Maintenance Tips, from the pros!

After a long, dark winter, spring’s bright sun and warm winds are, well, a breath of fresh air. The only downside? All that sunshine spotlights your leaf-filled gutters, cracked sidewalks and the dead plants in last year’s flower beds. Dwight Barnett, a certified master inspector with the American Society of Home Inspectors, shared this checklist to help you target the areas that need maintenance so you can get your chores done quickly, leaving you time to go outside and play in the sunshine.

  • Check for loose or leaky gutters. Improper drainage can lead to water in the basement or crawl space. Make sure downspouts drain away from the foundation and are clear and free of debris.
  • Low areas in the yard or next to the foundation should be filled with compacted soil. Spring rains can cause yard flooding, which can lead to foundation flooding and damage. Also, when water pools in these low areas in summer, it creates a breeding ground for insects.
  • 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.
  • From the ground, examine roof shingles to see if any were lost or damaged during winter. If your home has an older roof covering, you may want to start a budget for replacement. The summer sun can really damage roof shingles. Shingles that are cracked, buckled or loose or are missing granules need to be replaced. Flashing around plumbing vents, skylights and chimneys need to be checked and repaired by a qualified roofer.
  • Examine the exterior of the chimney for signs of damage. Have the flue cleaned and inspected by a certified chimney sweep.
  • Inspect concrete slabs for signs of cracks or movement. All exterior slabs except pool decks should drain away from the home’s foundation. Fill cracks with a concrete crack filler or silicone caulk. When weather permits, power-wash and then seal the concrete.
  • Remove firewood stored near the home. Firewood should be stored at least 18 inches off the ground at least 2 feet from the structure.
  • Check outside hose faucets for freeze damage. Turn the water on and place your thumb or finger over the opening. If you can stop the flow of water, it is likely the pipe inside the home is damaged and will need to be replaced. While you’re at it, check the garden hose for dry rot.
  • Have a qualified heating and cooling contractor clean and service the outside unit of the air conditioning system. Clean coils operate more efficiently, and an annual service call will keep the system working at peak performance levels. Change interior filters on a regular basis.
  • Check your gas and battery-powered lawn equipment to make sure it is ready for summer use. Clean equipment and sharp cutting blades will make yardwork easier.

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Your poor garbage disposal, make sure you treat it well!

How is it working?

imagesA waste material disposal is a feature ideal for any kitchen sink, as well as beneficial simultaneously for the home-owners and their surroundings. Garbage disposals deter unhealthful bacteria growth and make a far better kitchen area that limits food out of your garbage bin, all it requires is a little cold water, and the turning on of the disposal. Instead of making methane gas in a earth fill somewhere, the food waste delivered by your garbage disposal will be handled by the city sewerage.

Be ready with the problems!

An effective trash disposal could endure for numerous years, with the right use and regimen maintenance our recommendations will help you to maintain it, and to keep it in very good shape. No matter what, ALWAYS turn on the cool water as quickly as the trash disposal is working. Water pushes the food stuck by pushing straight down and aside through the drain. We recommend chilled water in the place of warm, seeing that hot water should dissolve any oil. As warm fluid and water fat go through your water outlines, they are supposed to cool off. That may make a oil build-up in an nearly difficult to achieve your water line. Cool water, as an alternative, retains the oil, consequently the garbage disposal can split it down and deliver it down in slight bits.

Mostly everyone is conscious of the tip that is after nevertheless it still warrants suggesting: by no means NEVER put glass, plastic, or metal down the disposal. Additionally, cornhusks, fruits and veggies with hard pits, shrimp covers, and some other foods to be hard to maintain a healthy disposal. If you accidentally find one of these items slipping down the drain, they are going to get noticed and you will accrue the clutter, along with a non-operating garbage! To remedy the blades, rush ice cubes down your disposal.

images (1) As a quick fix, if you notice an item using a flashlight, you could very well grab that item with a pair of tongs, and set yourself back to normal.

Winter home maintenance tips

As winter nears, make sure your home is prepared to withstand another season of cold temperatures, driving winds and icy conditions. The maintenance that you do today can help prevent more costly emergency repairs in the height of a storm, when it can be difficult to find supplies and licensed contractors.

Your Heating System

Before you give your heating system a workout this winter, take the time for preventive maintenance. It may help extend the life of your system and identify potential problems.

Before winter:

  • Have your furnace or boiler checked and serviced by a licensed contractor at least once a year, preferably before the heating season begins.
  • Clean or replace the furnace filter on forced hot air systems.
  • Have your chimney checked and serviced by a licensed contractor at least once a year. Pay particular attention to having creosote build-up removed for chimneys servicing woodstoves and fireplaces.

During winter:

  • Have your fuel tanks filled and keep an eye on levels throughout the winter.
  • Set your heat no lower than 55 degrees as the temperature inside the walls where water piping is located is colder than the living spaces; open doors to unoccupied rooms to keep an even temperature throughout the house.
  • Maintain your wood-burning or pellet stoves according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Your Insulation

Is your insulation prepared to protect you from the cold? As an important line of defense from winter’s gusty winds and freezing temperatures, it is worth taking some time to inspect and upgrade insulation and weather stripping before the season starts.

  • Add extra insulation in the attic to guard against ice dams. If too much heat escapes into the attic, it can warm the ice and snow on the roof. When it refreezes, it can cause an ice dam, which can lead to water damage inside your home or possibly even a roof collapse.
  • Add weather stripping around doors and caulk windows to guard against drafts and heat loss.
  • Remove screens from windows, and install storm windows.

Your Utilities

Freezing temperatures can be especially damaging to your home’s water piping. Make sure your pipes are adequately prepared to withstand a cold snap and remember to take extra precautions if you are going to be leaving your home, including shutting off your water.

  • Check for water leaks and fix problems immediately; wrap water piping in UL-Listed heat tape and insulate if it is exposed in unheated areas such as garages, crawl spaces or attics. Use only thermostatically controlled heat tape if your water piping is plastic and follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions.
  • Learn how to shut off your water and know where your pipes are located in case they do freeze; you may be able to prevent water damage.

Your Winter Safety Measures

As you prepare for winter, following are some further safety measures that are especially important during the cold season.

  • Trim trees and remove dead branches so they do not damage your home or injure someone if they fall because of ice, snow or wind.
  • Keep gutters clear of leaves, sticks and other debris to ensure melting snow can drain properly. Make sure downspouts direct water away from the foundation.
  • Repair steps and handrails to make them safer in the ice and snow.
  • Check smoke detectors, fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors and replace batteries to ensure they are operating properly.

Your Key Supplies and Equipment

The first storm of the year can come sooner than you think. Stock up early and get key equipment, like snow blowers and generators, in good working condition long before you need them, so you can be prepared to enjoy what the season has to offer.

  • Make sure you have snow shovels and a roof rake on hand. Stock your ice melting compound to melt ice on walkways.
  • Have your snow blower and generator serviced and any necessary repairs made.
  • Keep fuel for snow blowers and generators in approved safety containers and away from heat or flame producing devices. Do not store fuel in your basement.

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Protecting Your Outdoor Tankless Water Heater!

Protecting Your Outdoor Tankless Water Heater During The Winter

imagesA tankless water heater performs well in winter months even it has some restrictions. Tankless water heaters make use of a condenser that pre-warms the water, so it does not take you very long time to reach the pre-set temperatures for using.

Approximately, the water reaches the temperature set by the home owners at the rate of 1.6 gallons per minute . In the beginning it may flow with less pressure, so that the water heater has time to heat the water, but it is as hot as desired when it gets to its destination. Contrary to common belief, the hot water temperatures produced by the tankless water heater are not restricted by the temperatures outside. However, the tankless hot water heater can freeze if certain precautions are not taken when the temperatures drop below a certain level.

The majority of indoor and outdoor tankless water heaters have built-in freeze protection against short-term winter temperatures ranging from -7 degrees Fahrenheit to -21 degrees Fahrenheit. This protection cannot resist long term below freezing temperatures. To avoid your tankless water heater from freezing in the winter there are several steps you should take. To begin winterizing your tankless water heater, first turn the unit off and unplug its power source. Next, turn off the water supply and drain the water from the water heater. Minimize the water pressure and disconnect the water pipes from the water heater. Place a cover over the vent termination for intake and exhaust to hold debris out. After that, when setting up a concentric or dual vent system face vent pipes away from the wind to prevent freezing. Set up drain pipes in areas not subject to freezing such as inside a wall. Enable ample combustion air for gas powered appliances to prevent negative draft from freezing the water in a tankless unit or use a backdraft reducer which closes the backdraft flapper. Subsequently, you can run a small stream of hot water constantly to avoid freezing.images (1)

These procedures can protect your water heater through the entire winter withstanding freezing temperatures in your local area. You may probably not have to do such a thing when weather conditions pretty low for a time which is really short. You have one thing crisis that is prepared by calling an expert to winterize your tankless water heater in you house if it expected that the current weather will remain cold for an extended period of time of this winter.

What to do if a frozen pipe bursts in your home!

What to do if a frozen pipe bursts in your home

By Margaret Ely, Washington Post

Christopher Thompson of Michael & Son Services said the plumbing company is swamped — it received a flood of service calls about frozen pipes, for example, after Monday’s snow storm.

“We are still recovering from the amount of calls,” Thompson said. “It was pretty much all of the calls.”

Owners of older homes are more likely to encounter frozen pipes, Thompson said, but they can happen anywhere; the likelihood depends on where the pipes are located and how they are insulated. When water freezes, it expands, and weak metal or plastic pipes that aren’t insulated are susceptible to bursting or leaking.

With a chance temperatures will drop to record lows tonight, here is what to do if a pipe bursts in your home or apartment:

1. Shut off your water and, if necessary, electricity.

Go to the home’s main water valve and shut it off immediately. (And don’t wait for a burst pipe to find out where the main water valve is.) Electricity should also be cut off to the section of the home where the water damage has occurred, Thompson said. If you live in an apartment complex and don’t have control over the building’s water supply, he added, be sure to contact your building manager or landlord.

2. Call a plumber.

Not all plumbing companies have 24-hour service, so it’s a good idea to research and choose one in advance so you’re not scrambling as water floods your house. Plumbing costs associated with the damage control can vary depending on where the pipes are located and how bad the damage is, Thompson said. You may also need to contact a water damage professional, he said, particularly if carpeting, flooring, walls or ceilings are severely damaged.

3. Start removing water.

“You need to prevent mold and mildew buildup,” Thompson said. Mops, buckets, towels and a wet/dry vacuum may be needed.

Some prevention tips

If you suspect a frozen pipe, thaw it yourself using a hair dryer, heating pad, space heater or warm washcloth, or call a professional.
“Not many pipes are visible, so if your faucet is not running or toilet is not refilling, there is a good chance a pipe is frozen,” Thompson said.

 

Dealing with your frozen pipes!

With our recent cold snap and single digit temperatures, we’re experiencing a higher then usual call volume with customers experiencing frozen and burst pipes.  Here’s a few tips on handling the situation from the big freeze to a potentially leaky thaw.  Please note that we always advise having a licensed plumber perform any plumbing work and remember Michael & Son is here to assist.

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During cold weather:

  • If there are water supply lines in your garage, keep the garage door closed.
  • Open your kitchen/bathroom cabinet doors so warmer air can circulate.
  • Let water drip from the faucet. A little trickle can help prevent freezing.
  • Even if you are not home, make sure you do not set your thermostat any lower then 55 degrees.

Identifying frozen pipes:

Water lines covered in frost, or bulges are first signs of frozen pipes.  Unfortunately not all pipes are visible, so if your faucet wont flow or your toilet doesn’t refill after flushing, chances are you are experiencing frozen pipes.

Thawing frozen pipes:

  • Keep the faucet open as you treat the area running water will help thaw the ice.
  • Apply heat to the section of pipe: hair dryer, towels soaked in hot water, heating pads, and space heaters.  Be sure to keep away any flammable materials.
  • If you cannot access or locate the frozen area, call a licensed plumber.
  • Check all faucets and toilets in your home to locate any other frozen pipes.

What if my pipe bursts?

If you notice any leaks and pools of water, immediately shut off the main water supply to minimize flooding and call us immediately.  Try and remove as much water as possible to minimize mold and mildew and remember that Michael & Son Restoration services are also available to assist with any moisture related problems.

Preventing frozen pipes:

  • Close any valves that supply your outdoor hose bibs.  Most importantly, remove the hose and open the hose bib to allow water to drain and keep it open so that any water that remains in there can expand without causing the pipe to burst.
  • Drain water from your sprinkler system.
  • Locate areas in your home where water supply lines are located in unheated areas:  Kitchen/bathroom cabinets, attic, garage and basements.  Pipes in these areas should be insulated.

Since 1976, Michael & Son proudly provides plumbing electrical, heating & AC, remodeling and restoration services.  We serve Baltimore, DC Metro, Charlottesville, Richmond, Norfolk, Raleigh and Charlotte.  Remember, “If you cant, we can!”  Visit www.michaelandson.com or call us at 800-948-MIKE.

Michael and Son comes to single moms rescue!

If you drive from the suburbs of D.C. and down through Northern Virginia, you’d hardly see any signs of the financial crisis that swept through the country. From the Mc Mansions of Fairfax and Arlington to the sprawling estates of Clifton; Northern Virginia has some of the wealthiest communities in the country. While there are many within those communities who are struggling, you could never tell from a glance. There is one place, however, that stands out among the upper class communities; Triangle. Over the last several years, Triangle, Virginia has become a virtual ghost town. Boarded up businesses and foreclosed homes fill the landscape of an area that was once a thriving part of Northern Virginia.

Just off the freeway in a dilapidated home lives a single mother named Mary and her son, Elias. Mary had to give up working to care for Elias who suffers from Spina bifida. Requiring, 24 hour care, Elias is confined to a wheel chair and unable to speak. That leaves his mother responsible for literally every single daily activity; from taking showers to brushing his teeth. Because of her inability to work, Mary could not afford the much needed repairs to her home. The list of repairs was a long one; a new roof, HVAC system and the most daunting of them all, repairs to the foundation. She had reached out to many different organizations for help but the scope and size of the job was always more than they could handle.

One Saturday morning, Mary had a rare opportunity to relax and watch TV. She caught an episode of Helping Hands and decided to send a letter requesting assistance. “When I saw the Helping Hands, I was amazed by the things Michael & Son was doing in the community” said Mary. “I just had this feeling that this was the answer” continued Mary. She was right, just days after her letter was sent the repairs on her home were underway. With the help of other local businesses, the family received all the repairs to their home at no cost.

Helping Hands
If you or someone you know is currently facing a hardship and is unable to afford home repairs, please contact the Michael & Son Cares Team. Michael & Son Services established their “Cares” charitable campaign in 2010 providing essential home services to local families in need.  To date, the program has assisted over 20 families in the area.  They are also proud sponsors and supporters of Dreams for kids, Saltwater Soldiers and Susan G. Komen. Michael & Son Services has been serving the greater DC metropolitan area for over 30 years with electrical, plumbing, heating, A/C, construction and handyman services. Make sure you tune in this weekend to see this incredible story for yourself, showtimes listed below.
Our motto has always been, “If you can’t, we can!”  Check us out at www.michaelandson.com.
BasimElias 
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Washington DC WRC NBC4 

2/7         9:30 – 10:00 AM

2/21       9:30 – 10:00 AM

2/28       9:30 – 10:00 AM

3/14       10:00  – 10:30 AM

3/21       10:00 – 10:30 AM

Norfolk: WVEC

2/7         9:00 AM

2/21       9:00 AM

2/28       9:00 AM

3/14       9:00 AM

3/21       9:00 AM

Richmond WTVR

2/8         11:30 PM

2/22       11:30 PM

2/29       11:30 PM

3/15       11:30 PM

3/22       11:30 PM

Baltimore WMAR

2/7         6:30 PM

2/21       6:30 PM

2/28       6:30 PM

3/14       6:30 PM

3/21       6:30 PM

Charlottesville WVIR

2/7         9:30 – 10:00 AM

2/21       9:30 – 10:00 AM

2/28       9:30 – 10:00 AM

3/14       10:00  – 10:30 AM

3/21       10:00 – 10:30 AM

Tips on removing an ice dam from your roof!

An ice dam has the potential to cause serious damage to both your roof and the inside of your home. It is important to take steps to help protect your home from the risks associated with ice dams.

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What is an ice dam?
An ice dam can form when water from melting snow re-freezes at the edge of your roof line. Without roof snow removal, the ice dam may grow large enough to prevent water from draining off the roof. The water can then back up underneath the roof shingles and make its way inside your home.

Immediate steps you can take:

  • Remove snow from your roof after every storm. Use a roof rake to clear the first three to four feet of snow from your roof immediately after each winter storm to prevent ice dams from forming. While the amount of snow and ice that your roof can handle may vary depending on a number of factors such as the roof type, age and condition of the structure, a good rule of thumb is if there is more than a foot of heavy, wet snow and ice on your roof, you should try to have it removed.
  • Clear downspouts. An easy way to help snow and ice drain off your roof is to make sure the area around your downspouts is clear. This will make it possible for your gutters to drain when snow does melt. It will also help prevent flooding when the snow and ice melts.

Longer-term prevention:
Ultimately, the best prevention for ice dams is to eliminate the conditions that make it possible for them to form in the first place.

  • Insulate your attic. Make sure your attic is well insulated to help prevent the melting-and-freezing cycle that causes ice dams to form. Check and seal places where warm air could leak from your house to the attic, including vent pipes, exhaust fans, chimneys, attic hatches and light fixtures.
  • Install a water-repellant membrane. When replacing a roof, make sure to install a water membrane underneath the shingles. This acts as an extra barrier that helps prevent water from seeping inside the building.

Removing ice dams
Just because an ice dam is present does not necessarily mean water has penetrated the roof membrane. However, it is always best to remove ice dams before they have the opportunity to cause damage. To determine if you have damage, look for water stains or moisture in the attic or around the tops of exterior walls on the top floor.

  • If you can reach the roof safely, try to knock the ice dam off with a roof rake, or cut a channel through the ice to allow standing water to drain.
  • If you cannot reach the roof safely, consider hiring a contractor to remove it.
  • Another method is to fill a nylon stocking with calcium chloride ice melt and place it vertically across the ice dam so that it melts a channel through the dam. If you try this method, make sure you can safely position the ice melt on your roof, and make sure to use calcium chloride, not rock salt. Rock salt will damage your roof. Also be aware that shrubbery and plantings near the gutter or downspout may be damaged.

Look carefully at large icicles. If the icicles are confined to the gutters and there is no water trapped behind them, this does not indicate the presence of an ice dam. However, large icicles can pose a danger to people when they fall off. Try to safely knock the icicles off from the ground, making sure not to stand directly beneath them. If you cannot reach them safely from the ground, consider hiring a contractor to help.

Generally speaking, property owners are responsible for the cost of preventive maintenance. However, each claim is unique, and coverage and claim decisions always require an expert analysis by a licensed Claim professional. Keep in mind that the cost of snow removal is likely to be considerably less than the cost of roof damage or interior property damage caused by water leaks.

Charlie Crohare; Bean Bag Extraordinaire

Charlie Crohare; Bean Bag Extraordinaire

This story features April Crohare, a strong mother of two, who balances volunteering work at her son’s school, being a member of the PTA, and helps other local families with disabilities navigate through agencies, to obtain the correct medical products. She uses her experience to uplift and assist other people, and that we find to be, truly incredible!

The star of this episode however, is her eldest son Charlie, an incredibly brave six year old, who has a disorder extremely similar to that of Miller Dieker syndrome. He has the brain development of a two-month year old baby, and with that, he suffers from daily seizures (some lasting up to forty-five minutes at a time.) On top of this, he also suffers from hypothermia, is color blind, and is confined to a wheel chair. Charlie has outlived his diagnosis by many years, and is a ray of hope who inspires us all! Charlie has a younger brother, Mathew, to

The Crohare family had an extension built on to the home, and it’s where Charlie spends most of his waking hours. The room has a wood burning stove that not only irritates Charlie’s respiratory system, but eventually caused a fire, – luckily no one was hurt. When the owner of Michael and Son, Basim Mansour, heard of Charlie’s condition, he knew we had to help. The HVAC department installed a mini split in the room, allowing Charlie to breathe much easier!

We are so thankful to the people who donated their goods to Charlie, and helped to make this episode a true example of Helping Hands. Ahh Bean Bags – who donated a bean bag chair (below is an image of Charlie enjoying his chair), and to Go Bananas who generously donated a music board.

April Crohare found out about the Michael and Son Cares Project after watching an episode of “Helping Hands.” She contacted our Project Manager, Shadi Tahrawi for help, and he was quick to get her information in front of our owner.

If you or anyone you know needs home repairs done by the way of: plumbing, electrical, heating, air conditioning – please contact Shadi at: shadi.tahrawi@michaelandson.com.

Tune in Saturday January 31st at 9am on NBC 4 to see how Michael & Son came to the aid of a family in need.

Washington DC WRC NBC4 

1/31       9:00 – 9:30 AM

2/7         9:30 – 10:00 AM

2/21       9:30 – 10:00 AM

2/28       9:30 – 10:00 AM

3/14       10:00  – 10:30 AM

3/21       10:00 – 10:30 AM

Norfolk: WVEC

1/31       9:00 AM

2/7         9:00 AM

2/21       9:00 AM

2/28       9:00 AM

3/14       9:00 AM

3/21       9:00 AM

Richmond WTVR

2/1         11:30 PM

2/8         11:30 PM

2/22       11:30 PM

2/29       11:30 PM

3/15       11:30 PM

3/22       11:30 PM

Baltimore WMAR

1/31       6:30 PM

2/7         6:30 PM

2/21       6:30 PM

2/28       6:30 PM

3/14       6:30 PM

3/21       6:30 PM

Charlottesville WVIR

1/31       9:00 – 9:30 AM

2/7         9:30 – 10:00 AM

2/21       9:30 – 10:00 AM

2/28       9:30 – 10:00 AM

3/14       10:00  – 10:30 AM

3/21       10:00 – 10:30 AM

Family trip to the Baltimore Aquarium!

Family trip to the Baltimore Aquarium! 

In Helping Hands Season 4, Episode 2 we showcase Monet and Greg Caldwell, a hardworking couple who recently had a young daughter named Skyler, the younger sister of adorable Noah Caldwell. Skyler was diagnosed with a thyroid issue at 2 weeks, and things have been really tough for the family to make everything work with their crippling medical bills, as doctors predict Skyler will need surgery at just 15 weeks old.

After Skyler’s diagnosis, doctors warned she was highly susceptible to infections because of thyroid complications, and further infections could lead to closing of her breathing passageways and possibly, subsequent death.

Over the summer, the family’s HVAC went out, and Monet Caldwell stayed strong without A/C throughout her pregnancy!

Our owner Basim Mansour heard of this story, and knew we had to intervene. Michael & Son techs came in and saved the day with installing a brand new HVAC system! Afterwards, Michael and Son sent the family on a trip to the Baltimore Aquarium, complete with a dinner at the amazing Chart House restaurant in Annapolis, Maryland.

If you would like to speak with Basim Mansour regarding the Michael & Son Cares Program, please contact Shadi Tahrawi at (571) 237-8209 or shadi.tahrawi@michaelandson.com. Media outlets are free to use the text, videos and images in any TV, print or radio media.