Maintaining Your Gutters

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Everyone loves a colorful foliage. But once those leaves come down, they create lots of messy chores around your property. Aside from all the raking and bagging required to keep your landscaping looking lovely, the real headache is making sure leaves don’t clog your home’s gutters.

Keeping gutters and downspouts free of debris is essential to maintaining a strong roof foundation. Allow them to clog and your roof will soon be leaking or, worse yet, buckling under the weight of snow this winter.

In order to make sure you’re maintaining your gutters properly, let’s review the best upkeep practices.

Keep Them Clean

Sounds like a no brainer, right? However, there are several steps you’ll want to follow, some not as obvious as others. First, use a gloved hand to remove all leaves, sticks and other debris from your gutters. Second, check for granules which fall from the roof shingles and remove them. Over time, these granules mix with water to create a gooey substance that is very stubborn to clean. Finally, use a hose to make sure there are no areas where water can pool. If you do witness pooling, make sure your gutters are aligned properly and sloping down at a slight angle.

Go With The Right Gutter

There are a few different choices when it comes to gutters, each with its own pros and cons. Different materials can affect cost, durability and function. Let’s review what’s available:

  • Vinyl Gutters: Besides being durable and easy to install, vinyl gutters are the most economical choice, generally running around $3 to $5 a foot. The downside? They can become brittle in extremely cold temperatures and sometimes crack.
  • Steel Gutters: Slightly more expensive than their vinyl counterpart, steel gutters are very sturdy and can support a good amount of weight. Unfortunately, they are difficult to install and are also prone to rusting.
  • Aluminum Gutters: Light and easy to install, aluminum gutters are a DIY handyman’s dream. But they also dent easily, making them susceptible to wind and falling debris. At $6 to $10 a foot, you might want to think twice before installing these fragile gutters.
  • Copper Gutters: The most attractive of the bunch, copper gutters can go for as much as $20 a foot.

Remember, not maintaining your gutters can lead to roof damage, leaks in the home and premature foundation wear. The most important factor is not what kind of gutters you choose but how well you maintain them. For more helpful home upkeep tips, visit us at michaelandson.com.

 

Garbage Disposals 101

 

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The garbage disposal is one of the simplest but most improperly used appliances in the home. When used correctly, a garbage disposal can last for decades and prevent plumbing issues not related to the disposal. However, a disposal that is not properly operated or maintained can result in leaks, clogs and even pipe burst. Today, we will be going over the proper use and function of a garbage and maintenance. Let’s start with what can and cannot go into the disposal:

 

Never Put the Following in Your Disposal:

Grease – Many people don’t know it, but grease can wreak havoc on not only your garbage disposal but the rest of your homes plumbing as well.

Hot Water – When using the grinder, do not use hot water. Hot water will liquefy grease, causing build up that will eventually result in a clog.

Combustibles – Grinding combustibles can result in damage, fire, injury and death.

Potato Peels – When mixed with water and mashed up, potato peels form a thick paste like substance that can gum up the works of your disposal and cause clogs.

Expandable Foods – Foods like pasta and rice expand when submerged in water. Even after being grinded down, they can still cause clogs.

Large Bones – Grinding large animal bones can cause damage to the grinder blades and clog pipes.

 

Pasta expands and can cause clogs. Never put pasta in your disposal.

Pasta expands and can cause clogs. Never put pasta in your disposal.

 

Maintaining Your Disposal

Dish Soap – While running cold water through the disposal, add a small amount of regular dish soap. Let the water run for 15 min or until bubbles stop forming.

Regular Use – Run your disposal frequently, even if you do not use it often. Running the disposal and cold water for a few minutes a week prevents rust, corrosion and will prolong the life of your disposal.

Odor Control – Your disposal deals with some pretty nasty stuff. Grinding up Citrus fruit peels will help keep foul odors under control.

Running Water – Always run cold water while using the disposal and never use hot water (see above).

Small Bones – Grinding up small bones can actually help maintain your disposal. As the bone is broken up into smaller particles, the bone shrapnel bouncing around will clean the inside of the disposal by loosening waste stuck to the walls.

Ice Cubes – Every month, grind up around 10 to 20 normal sized ice cubes. This will help sharpen the blades, break down grease and clean hard to reach areas as it melts down the drain.

 

 

Always run water cold water while using your disposal

Always run water cold water while using your disposal

Maintaining your garbage disposal is as simple as not using it incorrectly. While a properly used garbage disposal will usually give you years of trouble free service, problems can arise. Although a disposal is simple in function and operation, it is also connected to both the homes electrical and plumbing services. Unless you are experienced, should any problems arise, it’s always best to call a pro. At Michael & Son, we install and service all major brands of garbage disposals and usually have the brand you want right on the truck. Call Michael & Son today for all your plumbing needs. Also, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and subscribe to ourYouTube page to find out about special offers, upcoming events and much more!

 

Low Water Pressure

 

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Has the water pressure in your home decreased over the years? Was there once a time when your shower head shot water out like a cannon but now is down to a weak trickle? Do you get out of the shower every morning feeling like you are still covered in soap and shampoo? There are a number of different reasons and solutions to low water pressure in your home, today we would like to go over them.

Mineral Build Up

Sediment and mineral deposits can build up over time and clogs in plumbing, especially shower heads. Mix vinegar and baking soda and use a tooth brush to scrub out the deposits. If the deposits are really stubborn, try filling a bag with the mixture and rubber band it to the shower head. Leave it over night and the run the shower for a few minutes. This usually clears up any build up and allows for better water pressure.

Removing build up from your shower head can improve water pressure

 

Cracked and Damaged Pipes

If you have cracked or damaged pipes in your home water can seep out and cause low water pressure. The most common for reason for damaged pipes is usually because of cold weather. You can check for damage to your plumbing by performing the following test: Shut down the main water valve and note the reading on the meter. Wait a couple of hours and then check the meter again. If the meter shows an increase, you have a leak and need a plumber.

 

 

Removing build up from your shower head can improve water pressure

Removing build up from your shower head can improve water pressure

A cracked or damaged pipe can cause water pressure problems

Tank Placement

The placement of your water tank plays a roll in what kind of water pressure your home will have. A tank set lower than the home will usually have water pressure issues.

Pressure Regulators

The pressure regulator is a bell shaped device usually found in the front of your home. If the regulator is faulty,you’ll need to call a pro.

Plumbing Valves

In order for water to flow correctly, the valves must be open to their full capacity. Check to make sure each valve is turned all the way to the “on” position.

 

Check you main water valve and make sure its turned to the on position.

Check you main water valve and make sure its turned to the on position.

 

If you are experiencing low water pressure, it’s most likely caused by one of the above reasons. Besides removing the mineral deposits and checking the valves, most of the repairs will require a professional. Call Michael & Son Services and set up an appointment with one of our trained, friendly plumbers and we’ll have your water pressure problems fixed in no time. Check out our other blog post on plumbing repairs and diagnosis you can do yourself. Also, like us onFacebook, follow us Twitter and subscribe to our YouTubepage to find out about special events, great savings and much more!

 

Preserving Your Foundation

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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

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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

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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

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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 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.

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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

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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.

How Safe is Your Water?

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According to the Environmental Working Group’s National Drink Water Database, analyses of municipal drinking water have shown that, despite government regulations, there are still many dangerous contaminants present in our water, even after it has gone through municipal water treatment facilities. In reality, these water treatment facilities, more often than not, contribute to the problem by adding dangerous chemicals like fluoride and chlorine to water as part of the treatment process. Chlorine and fluoride can cause a whole host of medical issues including; heart disease, immune disorders, respiratory illness and many other dangerous ailments.

Treatment plants add harmful contaminants to your water

Treatment plants add harmful contaminants to your water

The Michael & Son Services whole home water treatment system uses innovative “green’ technologies that bring clean, healthy, great tasting water to your home while protecting the environment.  It’s a great choice for those who:

  • Want a healthier living environment
  • Want clean, mineral rich water
  • Are looking for better alternative to tap filters, fridge filters and bottled water
  • Know that 70% of our water exposure is though skin and bathing
  • Want to protect their plumbing system and appliances
  • Want to save money and the environment

You can protect you family against harmful containment’s in your homes water with a Michael & Son Whole Home Water Filtration System. Whole home water filtration systems work by filtering water at the point where it enters your house. Dishwashers, refrigerators, washing machines, bathtubs, and toilets all will use clean, safe water. It also protects your indoor air from chlorine vapors and chloroform gas. Whole home water filtration systems are also cost-effective, and end up saving you more money than installing individual filters for each of the water sources within your home. Call Michael & Son at 800-948-MIKE today or fill out the form below and schedule to meet with one of our home water filtration consultants. Our consultants can help you determine what system is right for you and your family.

shower blog

With a Whole Home Water Filteration System, even the water from your shower pure

Benefits

  • Great value for the price: Our 3-in-1 system replaces all tap/fridge/jug filters and water softeners
  • Uses no electricity or salt: saves you money and is great for the environment
  • Every ounce of water is treated: no wasted water
  • No monthly filters to replace: easy maintenance
  • Reduces the formation of hard water deposits:spend less time scrubbing scale form showers, tiles and dishes
  • Anti-scale technology can be installed immediately after the pressure tank or water meter, thereby treating all water used within the home
  • Attractive appliance styling looks great any home

 

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Preparing for Winter Pt. 1

FrozenPipes blog

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 sprinkles are easily damaged by winter weather

Outdoor sprinkles are easily damaged by winter weather

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.

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The slightest leak can cause plumbing problems in freezing temperatures

 

The slightest leak can cause plumbing problems in freezing temperatures

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 ourYouTube page to find out about great savings, upcoming events and much more!