Hard Water in Your Home

ID-10056037

 

In the past, we have discussed the benefits of a whole home filtration system and how it protects against contaminants in tap water. Removing things like lead, cooper and chlorine can be extremely beneficial to you and your family’s health; But what about the health of your appliances and faucets? Millions of homes have what is called hard water running through their pipes and causing damage the whole way through. Hard water just doesn’t cause damage to pipes, fixtures and appliances; it also raises your energy bills. Let’s go over how hard water affects your home in more detail.

What is hard water?

Hard water contains a high amount of calcium and magnesium. Nearly 80% of all homes in the United States have hard water.

Pipes

Hard water causes lime scale, which can wreck havoc on pipes in your home. Lime scale causes corrosion and clogs that can lead to a costly and extremely messy pipe burst.

Water Heater

Because of hard waters density, it takes longer to heat. This means your water heater has to work twice as hard every time you need hard water. Hard water also eats away at the heating elements and coils inside your water heater, that means costly repairs or replacements.

Valves

Lime scale build up around valves can be a problem for you homes pluming system as well. Valves with lime build up can’t be properly sealed and will eventually result in damaging leaks.

Shower heads and Faucets

Hard water can be especially damaging to faucets and shower heads. Because faucets and shower heads have restricted water build up, mineral deposits form at a faster rate.

Energy Cost

Hard water not only ruins the components in your water heater, it also causes it to work overtime. Because of its density, hard water takes longer to heat up, which means an increase in your energy bills.

If you have hard water in your home, don’t wait another day, call Michael & Son Services. We can help you determine if you do have hot water and what solution is the best fit for your home. Call and schedule a free water testing today! Also, like us Facebook, follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube page to find out about upcoming events, great savings and much more!

Preserving Your Foundation

foundation

The Michael & Son Cares team sees a wide range of issues on its visit to recipient’s homes. In the 8th episode of Helping Hands The family’s home had a whole host of problems including a leaky roof, no gutters, poorly insulated windows, no working HVAC and worst of all, foundation problems. While a majority of the damage to the foundation was caused by the previous years earthquake, much of it was made worse by the lack of gutters and proper drainage. One of the largest costs a homeowner can incur is making repairs to the foundation. These repairs are almost always expensive, disruptive and can lower the value of the home. Today we would like to go over the different types of foundation problems, preventive maintenance and how to address foundation issues, should they arise. Let’s start by going over the different types of foundation problems.

Types of Foundation Problems

  • Uneven or sloping floors – There are different degrees to which this can occur. Sometimes it can be spotted from across the room and sometimes it takes a level. Over time, even a slight sloped floor can cause it to separate from the wall.
  • Cracks in interior or exterior brick – Cracks that form on exterior or interior brick walls are another sign of a failing foundation. The cracks tend to form around windows, outdoor stairs and areas situated in unstable soil.
  • Interior molding cracks – Cracks in your homes molding is a sign of a foundation problem that originates on the exterior. If you notice these types of cracks inside your home, chances are there are cracks in the brick foundation.
  • Wall Rotation – Unstable soil can cause interior support walls to rotate and crack the brick exterior of a home. Like all foundation problems, this can be dangerous if not addressed.
  • Wall Separation – A combination of the above types of foundation problems can lead to wall separation. This is when support walls on the exterior separate from the home

Trouble Shooting / Preventive Maintenance

  • Gutters & Downspouts – Keeping your gutter cleaned and well maintained is the first step to preventing foundation problems. Pooling water can cause soil instability which can erode your foundation.
  • Keep Hydrated – During dry spells or droughts its important to keep the soil surrounding your foundation well hydrated. Dry soil can contract and expand, causing damage to the foundation. Remember to avoid pooling, which can also cause foundation problems.
  • Adjusting the Slope – If the land around you home slopes towards the house it will need to be leveled out.

As we said earlier, foundation problems are complex and expensive. If you think you have foundation damage or the potential for it to occur, call an expert to take a look. With a little bit of awareness and vigilance, you can avoid costly damage to your foundation. Also, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube page and find out about great offers, special events and more!

Flood Prevention – The First Line of Defense

sumpump

Here in the DC metro area, we are no strangers to the seasons; from snow to searing heat, we see it all. Since extreme changes in weather can affect your home, it’s important to remain vigilant with regular service and maintenance. With the temperature fluctuating day by day, we’d like to offer a few tips that will help you keep your home in prime shape through the changing weather. Virginia winters are a wild card, one month could see flooding rains and the next a drought and sometimes even snow. Whether it’s one, the other or both, you need to be prepared.  You may not know it, but a drought or water shortage can wreak havoc on your homes plumbing.

When a drought or freezing occurs, the ground expands due to a lack of moisture. This expansion causes contractions in the surface that can easily cause underground pipes to crack or burst. Once a pipe burst, there are not only the repairs to the plumbing that must be dealt with, but also the cost of valuables that will almost certainly be lost. During a drought, moisture is practically ripped out of the soil and turns it to clay. This can cause underground plumbing to physically shift, when this occurs, normally all the affected plumbing must be replaced. Repairing underground plumbing lines is not only costly but also an enormous inconvenience for the homeowner.

The best way to defend against these plumbing disasters is keeping your properties moister level consistent. This can be achieved through a simple sprinkler system or regular watering of the grounds. However, if you live in an area where water use is strictly regulated or you are of believe in conserving natural resources, heavy watering might not be a good option for you. If that’s the case, an underground irrigation system that draws water from a natural source maybe the only other option.

On the other side of the weather coin is heavy flood causing rains. While droughts and water shortages do occur in our area, the flooding is something we experience almost every year. Just like in a drought, your underground plumbing can become damaged during a flood.  Protecting your home against flooding involves a few basics requirements and steps. Here is a quick run down:

 

  • Sump Pumps – This is your first and most important line of defense when facing potential flooding. A sump pump works by pumping excess water out of the “sump pit” and into the sewage system. There are two types of pumps, a pedestal pump and submersible pump. Which pump is right for your home depends on the size of the area where the pump is being placed. A trained Michael & Son Plumbing Technician can help you choose and install whichever pump is right for you.
  • Roof Gutters – Clean and sturdy gutters are another important factor in preventing home flooding. Clogged gutters can cause your roof to leak and also increase the chance of basement flooding. If you need new gutters or just someone to clean them out, call Michael & Son’s Handyman Division.
  • Check Your Downspouts – Make sure your downspouts are pointed away from your home and dump water at least 3-5 feet away. You can always check your downspouts by running a garden hose into your gutter and following the water path.
  • Keep Sandbags on Hand – You never know when the rain will just be two much for your sump pump to handle, that’s when you need sandbags. Use the sandbags to block the entry points of any flood water but make sure to leave a clear exist in case of an emergency.
  • Stay Away From The Water – Flood water is filthy stuff. Avoid coming in contact with moving water which can not only make you sick, it can also sweep you away. Remember, it only takes six inches of rushing water to knock you off your feet and 2ft to sweep away your car.

Making sure your home is prepared for the seasons is a lot of work and also a absolute necessity; the best tactic is to remain vigilante and not let a small issue become a costly disaster. Don’t have time to be vigilante? Then call Michael & Son and ask about our Home Cares Agreements. Get comprehensive, whole home care from a friendly and professional Michael & Son technician by signing up today. Also, like us on Facebook, follow us onTwitter and subscribe to our YouTube page and find out about special events, great savings and much more!

Preparing for Winter – Plumbing

FrozenPipes_10411-300x239

 

 

As the temperature drops, the probability of issues with your home’s plumbing system rises. Winter plumbing issues can range from damaged sprinkler systems to indoor flood causing pipe burst. With just a little preparation, most winter plumbing issues can be avoided. Today, we will be going over a quick checklist to get your home’s plumbing system ready for the season ahead.

Locate Main Water Shut Off

If you don’t already know where to find it, now is a good time to look. The main valve is usually found inside a utility closet; however, each home is different. In the event of a plumbing emergency, shutting down the main water valve is the first thing you’ll want to do.

Sprinkler Systems

Of all your homes plumbing systems and appliances, the sprinkler is most exposed to the elements. Prepare your sprinkler system for the winter by shutting off the main water supply and then turning on the sprinklers. This will flush out any water that has collected in the hoses and keep them from freezing over.

Outdoor Hoses

Makes sure to disconnect and remove all outdoor hoses from the hose bib. A frozen hose can completely damage the bib, which can be a costly repair.

Outdoor sprinklers, garden hose and bibs are very easily damaged by the weather

Insulate Exposed Pipes

Exposed pipes in your home are the most likely to freeze in below zero temperatures. Insulate exposed pipes using inexpensive and easy to install foam wrap. Insulating your pipes will protect them from freezing temperatures and help cut down on your energy bills.

Repair Existing Leaks

Even the smallest leak can be a big problem when the temperature drops. Make sure to repair all leaks, no matter how minor, before the cold hits.

Preparing your home for the winter season is simple, inexpensive and will help avoid serious plumbing issues. Call Michael & Son for help with winterizing your home, or any plumbing job, no matter how or small. From simple leak repairs to large scale construction jobs, there is nothing the Michael & Son Plumbing division can’t handle. Also, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube page to find out about great savings, upcoming events and much more!

Hidden Dangers in the Home

asbestos

If you’ve ever talked to the owner of an older home, before everything became synthetic,  you’ll often hear them boast about a higher level of craftsmanship and superior quality materials. While this is often the case, there are also many hidden dangers in homes built before the mid to late 70’s. Today, we’ll be going over one of the most common and potentially dangerous building materials widely used in the U.S., asbestos.

History of Asbestos Use

Asbestos is naturally occurring and found in mines all over the world. In the last 19th century builders began using asbestos for attic insulation, ceiling tiles, floors, walls and duct work. Asbestos was favored by builders because of its low price and resistance heat and corrosion. Years later, when asbestos was linked to respiratory related illnesses and deaths, it was banned from use in the building of new homes.

Was this wall made with material containing asbestos? Most of the time you'll need a lab test to know for sure

Was this wall made with material containing asbestos? Most of the time you’ll need a lab test to know for sure

The Dangers of Asbestos

Asbestos is covered in small fibers that are released into the atmosphere when it is disturbed. Inhaling these fibers over a long period of time can cause mesothelioma and other upper respiratory diseases. Nearly all documented cases of mesothelioma diagnoses related to asbestos exposure are found in those who worked with or around the material for extended periods. Along with respiratory illness, asbestos can also cause warts and other skin irritations.

Identifying & Dealing with asbestos

It’s not always possible to identify asbestos just by looking at it. Asbestos can be in the form of all kinds of different products and a lab test is usually needed to determine if it is asbestos. If asbestos is found in the home, sometimes the best course of action is to leave it alone. The harmful fibers that cause respiratory illness are encapsulated inside the asbestos and are not released unless it’s broken. Removing asbestos requires the skill of trained professionals and is a costly process. If you do suspect that an area of your home contains asbestos, keep an eye out for cracks and other damage. Never touch what you suspect might be asbestos.

If you would like more information about asbestos and its removal, visit the EPA’s website for more information. Also, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube page to find out about upcoming events, special offers and much more!

The Beauty of a Backup Generator

snow storm

Anyone living in the DC / Metro area is no stranger to the agony of a power outage. No matter what the season, having no access to Air conditioning, running water and lights is enough to make anyone miserable. Aside from general discomfort of not having power, an outage can also be deadly for very young children and the elderly.

One of the great services Michael & Son offers is generator sales, installation and maintenance. With a generator, you’ll no longer be at the mercy of the power company. A backup generator installed by a trained Michael & Son technician can restore power back to your home in seconds after the outage. Here’s how it works:

  • The generator transfer switch monitors incoming voltage from the utility line.
  • When the outage occurs, the generator is signaled to activate.
  • The utility line to the generator is shut down and the new power line from the generator opens.
  • Within seconds the generator provides power to critical circuits.
  • When the utility line voltage has returned, power transfers back to the source.

generac

 

Since each home is different in size and energy consumption, the Michael & Son technician can audit the energy use of your home and tailor a generator package just for you. While some generators will only target essential circuits, others will cover every circuit in house. Whichever you choose, installing a backup generator will save you and your family from having to sweat out another summer power outage. Don’t be at the mercy of the slow moving power company, call Michael & Son today and ask about installing a backup generator in your home. Also, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube page to find out about special offers, upcoming events and more!

Right now you can save up $200 on the purchase of a standby generator! Click to learn more.

 

Fireplaces 101

fireplace

Winter is here and most homeowners are experiencing increase in heating cost. With the drastic increases in energy cost, especially concerning oil and gas, homeowners with fireplaces should seriously consider taking advantage of the low cost heat they can provide. For many people, the fireplace is more a decorative than functional; some of us would not know how to use it if we had to. Whether you have never used your fireplace or just plan on knocking the cobwebs off this winter, there are a few things you should be aware of and check.

Keeping your fireplace in good working order through regular maintenance is a must. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 25,000 home fires are caused by fireplace each year. As tragic as it is; after all it is a large open flame coming out of your living room wall so safety should be a chief concern. Many accidents are simply a result of a homeowner not knowing how their chimney works. So, let’s start by going over the basic parts and operation of a chimney.

Hearth – The brick, stone or other fireproof material and extends beyond the fireplace.

Surround – This is usually made of a decorative material and surrounds the exterior of the fireplace. This portion of the fireplace usually includes a mantel that is perfect for displaying framed pictures, trophies and hanging stockings for Christmas.

Firebox – This is the interior of the fireplace where the fire is contained. It is very important to keep the area well maintained.

Flue – Usually made of stainless steel or baked clay, the flue is the passage way that smoke and gasses travel out of the home.

Chimney – Surrounding the flue is a narrow, stone enclosure that protrudes at the roof of the home. The chimney is open at the top and allows smoke and gasses to pass through.

Smoke Chamber – This connects the flue to the chimney. The Smoke chamber deflects drafts and keeps rain and debris from entering the firebox.

Damper – Located beneath the smoke chamber, the damper is a moveable covering that keeps cold air from entering the home when the fireplace is not in use.

Spark Arrest – Made from mesh chain, the spark arrest prevents sparks or embers from escaping from the firebox.

Doors – These are usually made from glass or metal and shut off all air flow when the fire has died down.

Now that you’re familiar with the inner workings of your fireplace, let’s go over basic maintenance. The most important aspect of fireplace maintenance is keeping it as clean as possible. With regular cleaning and maintenance your fireplace will be safe and last a life time.

Ash – Never use a vacuum to clean ash in your firebox. Use the small shovel in your fireplace tool kit to scoop out ash into a trash bag. Leave at a one inch bed of ash at the bottom of the fire box to act as insulation.

Chimney Cap – At the top of your chimney is a metal cap that keeps debris and birds out. Make sure to replace the cap if it is missing or damaged.

Masonry Inspection – Examine the masonry on the exterior and interior of your chimney. If it is cracked or damaged it must be replaced.

Creosote Formation – Creosote is a flammable substance that is produced during the incomplete combustion of wood. When creosote accumulates, it can result in chimney fires. Removing creosote can usually be done by a trained fireplace maintenance technician.

Keeping your fireplace cleaned and well maintained is very important both in terms of its effectiveness and its safety. While some of the maintenance can be preformed by the homeowner, calling a professional is always your best bet. The Woodburners Two specializes in chimney maintenance and repair. There trained and courteous technicians can assist you with all of you fireplace maintenance needs. Visit theWoodburners Two show room today and see over thirty working displays of all the latest designs and styles on the market today.

Call The Woodburners Two at (703) 241-1400 and set up an appointment today!

Visit the beautiful Woodburners Two Showroom located at..

6600 Arlington Blvd

Falls Church, VA 22042

Dear Michael & Son…

ID-10050742

Each day, we receive a few messages on our Facebook page from our friends looking for advice on home repairs. Many of the questions we receive might be ones you the reader have wondered about. The questions represent some of the most common issues faced by homeowners and our replies are usually the solution.

Katie M. wrote…

Hello,

I was wondering if you could give me some advice on an issue I’ve been having. The lights on my ground floor (it’s a two story house) will flicker and light bulbs burn out quickly. Is this something I need an electrician for?

Katie,

Thanks for reaching out to us! I’m sorry to hear about the problems you are having, however, there might be an easy fix. You may not know it, but most home appliances that use light blubs are rated for 60-watt bulbs. If you are using a higher watt bulb, try the 60 and see if that does not solve the problem.  If you are still having the issue, please contact us and we will send an electrician out for a free safety inspection. Good luck!

Julian T. wrote…

Dear Michael & Son,

I recently bought my first home and have some questions about smoke detectors. What are the best kinds and where should I place them? This was never much of a concern in the past as we lived in an apartment. Our new home is three levels and four bedrooms, all of which are occupied. I appreciate any suggestions you can give me.

Julian,

Congratulations on the new home! Smoke detectors are one of the most important safety features you can add to your home. While home fires are a huge danger, the real killer is Co2 poisoning. In fact, Co2 poisoning accounts for the majority of home poisoning deaths each year. With that in mind, a combo unit that detects both Co2 and smoke is the best way to go. The units should be placed between sleeping areas and away from rooms that generate a lot of heat. Also, look into units that can be hard wired into your home electrical system, that way you’re not worrying about batteries dying at a critical time. We can help with the hard wiring and any other electrical problems you might have, just give us a call. Hope this helped.

Ryan T. wrote,

Recently my homes basement has begun flooding during rainy days. Right now it’s manageable but still has the potential for being a serious problem. The rain comes in through the basement door, any ideas?

Ryan,

Sorry to hear about your plumbing issues, flooding can be a real pain. It sounds like you either need a sump pump or need yours to be repaired. If you are not familiar, a sump pump removes water that collects in low spots and moves it away from the home. Sump pumps often get clogged with leaves, sticks and other debris. Another common problem with sump pumps is blown fuses. Both of the above problems are easily corrected. Depending on how handy you are, you will probably need a plumber to install a new sump pump. Call us anytime and we’ll send a plumber to check it out. Good luck.

If you are faced with a home repair that you feel uncertain about, don’t hesitate to call Michael & Son. At Michael & Son Services, we can handle any job, both big and small. If you would like to set up an appointment with one of our friendly technicians, call us at the number below. Be sure to check in with us every week for more great home repair information. Also, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our Youtube page!

Hidden Dangers in the Home

ID-10086969

 

If you’ve ever talked to the owner of an older home, before everything became synthetic,  you’ll often hear them boast about a higher level of craftsmanship and stronger, better quality materials. While this is often the case, there are also many hidden dangers in homes built before the mid to late 70’s. Today, we’ll be going over one of the most common and potentially dangerous building materials widely used in the U.S., asbestos.

 

History of Asbestos Use

Asbestos is naturally occurring and found in mines all over the world. In the last 19th century builders began using asbestos for attic insulation, ceiling tiles, floors, walls and duct work. Asbestos was favored by builders because of its low price and resistance heat and corrosion. Years later, when asbestos was linked to respiratory related illnesses and deaths, it was banned from use in the building of new homes.

The Dangers of Asbestos

Asbestos is covered in small fibers that are released into the atmosphere when it is disturbed. Inhaling these fibers over a long period of time can cause mesotheliomas and other upper respiratory diseases. Nearly all documented cases of mesothelimoas diagnoses related to asbestos exposure are found in those who worked with or around the material for extended periods. Along with respiratory illness, asbestos can also cause warts and other skin irritations.

Identifying & Dealing with asbestos

It’s not always possible to identify asbestos just by looking at it. Asbestos can be in the form of all kinds of different products and a lab test is usually needed to determine if it is asbestos. If asbestos is found in the home, sometimes the best course of action is to leave it alone. The harmful fibers that cause respiratory illness are encapsulated inside the asbestos and are not released unless it’s broken. Removing asbestos requires the skill of trained professionals and is a costly process. If you do suspect that an area of your home contains asbestos, keep an eye out for cracks and other damage. Never touch what you suspect might be asbestos.

If you would like more information about asbestos and its removal, visit the EPA’s website for more information. Also, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube page to find out about upcoming events, special offers and much more!

The Danger of Dry Air

Do you or a family member suffer from allergies or asthma?  Are frequent nosebleeds and dry, itchy skin a nuisance you have to live with on a day to day basis? The problem may be a lack of humidity in your home. The warm air generated by heaters and furnaces dry your homes air and can cause or worsen illnesses.  Dry air not only affects you and your family’s health, it also can cause damage to any wood you have in your home; from hardwood floors to window frames.  If you have problems in your home like…

  • Splits or cracks in woodwork or walls
  • Wood doors that show gaps or no longer fit tightly
  • Gaps between the boards in hardwood floors.
  • Widening joints in cabinets or wood paneling.
  • Loose or wobbly chair legs and arms.
  • Pianos that don’t stay tuned.

 

Dry air can cause damage to wood furniture in your home.

Laminate-Flooring-Water-Damage

If these sound like issues you have around the house, the air in your home is probably too dry. So, how can you protect your family and home from the damage caused by dry air? With a Michael & Son humidifier, you can not only protect your families’ health but your valuable furniture as well. Humidifiers work by using humidity sensing controls that release water vapors into the air as needed.

 

A whole home humidifier helps protect your family and valuables

aprilaire-humidifier

With balanced level of moister circulating through your home, you’ll notice the difference in no time.  If you would like more information about whole home humidifiers, call 1800-948-MIKE or visit our website; and remember, if you can’t, we can.