Brave New Ballot

Tips for Home Ownership and other Life Problems

Chimney Maintenance: Smokin’ Tips

During the cold winter months, many homeowners like using their fireplaces and chimneys without giving any thought to annual maintenance and repair. On a cold winter evening, the smell of a wood fire coming from a brick fireplace makes one think about chestnuts roasting over an open fire and Jack Frost nipping at your nose as mentioned in The Christmas Song sung by Nat King Cole. During the holidays, hanging Christmas stockings on the mantle and burning the old-time Yule log isn’t much fun if the fireplace and chimney cannot be used.

Some homeowners perform annual chimney cleanings but they do not thoroughly inspect the fireplace and chimney. This type of maintenance neglect often leads to expensive fire damage and loss of human life. Annual chimney cleaning and maintenance can save thousands of dollars. Within a few hours, and spending about $300, by adding a chimney cap and sealing the bricks and crown, the life of the chimney is extended.

The best way to perform chimney and fireplace maintenance is to hire a trained professional called a chimney sweep to perform a certified cleaning and inspection of the fireplace and chimney. However, a skilled DIY homeowner can perform some of the annual maintenance tasks by learning useful maintenance tips. Learn the parts of the fireplace and the chimney in order to be informed about proper operation and maintenance.

Fireplace maintenance and repair tips:

To avoid a possible house fire, perform annual maintenance on the fireplace and chimney system. Annual cleaning of the fireplace and chimney will help to avoid creosote buildup, carbon monoxide, and avoids a house fire. Millions of dollars in fire damage can be avoided and human lives can be saved by performing annual maintenance and repair tasks. Inspect the fireplace for cracks and repair damaged mortar joints. Repair cracks, missing mortar, loose bricks, and broken mortar joints. Inspect the damper, flue, and vents. A poorly operating flue can lead to soot and creosote buildup and noxious fumes.

Chimney maintenance and repair tips:

Approximately 61 house fires in the U.S., on a daily basis, begin with a dirty or poorly maintained chimney. When the creosote buildup in a chimney reaches a ¼ inch or more buildup, have it cleaned. Monitor the chimney’s mortar joints for cracks. This is where deterioration begins, water damage occurs, and mold can grow. Water damage begins with cracks inside and outside of the chimney near the crown, cap, and chimney flashing. From the top down into the chimney water and moisture damage continues. Use mortar mix and a pointing trowel to repair chimney cracks. Better yet, hired a trained professional tuckpointer to repair and seal the cracks. Ensure that chimney flashing gaps are sealed and replace damaged flashing, caps, crowns, and vents. Water mixing with creosote buildup becomes acidic and causes rusting of the damper and speeds up the deterioration of the brick and mortar within the chimney and fireplace. Remove bird and squirrel nests from the chimney cap. Make sure there is a mesh cover, or chimney cap, and keep it clear of nests, leaves, and debris. A chimney cap prevents rodents from entering the home, keeps out moisture, and protects the roof from burning embers and starting a house fire. Be safe and perform annual fireplace and chimney maintenance.

Winter Pest Control Tips

During the cold winter months, pests like to find a way into your home. Similar to humans, pests, such as rodents, dislike cold temperatures. They will find any route possible to invade your home. Sneaky pests find every nook and cranny to hide. Rodents are troublesome pests that eat paper, insulation, material, food, and wiring, causing big problems inside your home. Mice, rats, and squirrels like to invade attics and cellars to chew on items stored in your home. Squirrels will even chew on plastic. Protect your family because rodents pose a health risk. 

Most people use natural methods, mouse traps, or chemical products to remove rodents. Never store dangerous chemicals within the reach of children or pets. Purchase baited mouse traps that are available at most retail or hardware stores. Natural pest control is a safe alternative to use. Acquire a cat, though, all cats are not effective mousers. Various types of mouse traps allow for catch and release. Purchased traps include glue or sticky, baited and electric mouse traps that can be purchased at most large retail stores. 

Using internet research, you will discover many creative do-it-yourself (DIY) methods of trapping mice, rats, and squirrels. Year-round pest control requires work. Whether you prefer natural methods, chemicals, or traps, to rid your home of rodents, take preventive steps to eradicate your home of the pesky critters. Seal off all entry points and replace worn-out weather seals or weather stripping. Replace worn door sweeps. Seal up cracks and crevices in your chimney and basement foundation.

Inside the house, remove clutter and don’t allow trash and old newspapers to collect. Outdoors, ensure that garbage cans are tightly sealed and stored away from your home’s entrance doors, windows, and all air vents. Seal around all types of pipes, ducts, and vents. Tightly seal all gaps, cracks, and crevices where rodents can find entrance routes into your home. Mice are attracted to food so keep appliances and counter surfaces clean and free of food residue. Seal all food in containers. Remove clutter, oily rags, and newspapers which are fire hazards that attract rodents. Clear out storage boxes or regularly check them to deter all types of pests. Check the attic and basement for old clothing, paper, rags, and old furniture, and other items stored in your home. Rodents will hide in and chew on these types of items. Rodents will eat the wiring in a car. Repair and replace damaged screens and check all vents. Check the attic vents and the chimney cap because squirrels and mice can use them as entry routes. Replace damaged caps and install screens to keep out rodents like mice, or squirrels, and even raccoons from creating a nest in your chimney. Fix damaged window screens and put screens over vents to deter rodents. Remove clutter and old rags. Remember that half of the battle of pest control is diligent prevention and maintenance of your home, basement, attic, and garage. Prevention is the best method to deter rodents.

Hot Solutions for Your Furnace Problems

If you want to be warm and cozy during the winter season, maintaining your HVAC system is very important. An HVAC system includes heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. You want to stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer seasons. The furnace is an integral component of an HVAC system. Avoid a chilly home by hiring an HVAC expert to perform annual maintenance on your HVAC system. When you least expect it, lack of proper annual maintenance will lead to furnace problems and higher than normal heating bills. During the frigid winter months, a furnace will quit working and it will cost you money to fix avoidable problems. There is nothing worse than waking up in the middle of the night to discover that the furnace has quit running and your home is very cold. You want to maintain a warm home to keep your family healthy and your home’s pipes from freezing and bursting. It sounds scary. But, if the water pipes freeze and burst, it will flood a home. This situation causes even bigger problems and expensive repair bills. Avoid an emergency by performing annual or semi-annual maintenance and keep your furnace and your entire HVAC system in smooth-running condition. 

Common problems with a furnace are a malfunctioning motor, dirty furnace filters, clogged air ducts, poorly functioning thermostat, normal wear and tear, and electric ignition issues. If your HVAC system has an old gas furnace, there might be pilot control and ignition issues. With older gas furnaces, the pilot on a gas furnace can go out causing the furnace to stop working. Modern gas furnaces do not have standing pilot lights.   But, that is not to say that modern gas systems are without ignition issues. Problems that you cannot fix yourself could include faulty wiring, ignition issues in gas furnaces, or computer board failure (modern HVAC systems). Older furnace systems can have belt or blower problems. Both old and new systems have faulty safety switch problems. If the furnace fails to turn on, there could be a failing ignition system. With gas furnaces, old or new, burner cleaning and adjustment is necessary to keep the furnace running. This is the reason that HVAC maintenance is tantamount to keeping your home toasty warm during the cold winter season. 

Furnace Repair Columbia MO

Check for a tripped circuit breaker or a malfunctioning thermostat. Even new thermostats can fail. If you can’t find the problem yourself, consider hiring an expert HVAC service technician. Finding and hiring an HVAC company and a good HVAC technician is an important part of performing annual HVAC maintenance. Be sure to hire a reputable HVAC service technician by checking on certifications, references, and credentials. Always check on references and ask contractors for customer referrals, too. Don’t leave anything to chance. Ask about the contractor’s service performance, and if the previous jobs were completed. Your home’s HVAC system is important to keep your home in good running order to protect your family and keep everyone healthy

Tree Trimming and Pruning: Benefits

One of the most common requirements in the world of tree maintenance is trimming and pruning.  Trimming ensures that the tree maintains an aesthetic appeal, grows in a manageable condition in line with the available space and enhances the quality of the area in which it grows.

Search Google for a leading provider of tree trimming service in your area.

Pruning your trees on a regular basis keeps them healthy and beautiful. There are many different tree trimming methods for different species of trees – and for how you want your trees to grow.

Some benefits of trimming and pruning are:

  • Providing more light on your lawn so that your grass can grow?  If so, your trees may need to be elevated and thinned.
  • Are large tree limbs growing over your house?  We can prune the trees back or remove them so that they do not interfere with your house or structure.
  • Do your trees need general clean-up?  We can prune out dead, hazardous and crossing tree limbs to keep your trees growing strong and healthy.
  • Clearing of space and enhancement of airflow in a given area.
  • Greater access to sunlight.
  • Increased opportunities for the tree to grow in a healthy manner as decaying/infected parts are removed.
  • Enhancing the safety of tree zones by reducing branch weight, thereby making them lighter as well as less obstructing to nearby houses and electricity wires, reducing accident risk and exposure.
  • Aiding in the beautification of landscape.

You have the benefit of choosing from a variety of tree trimming options such as thinning, pruning and crowning etc.

Most arborists will be happy to walk your property and discuss short and long term tree pruning and tree trimming programs.

Most tree trimming services guarantee customer satisfaction. You will be amazed at the ‘before’ and ‘after’ difference in your tree zone. Their expertise allows you to see the aesthetic and functional potential of trees and landscapes.

You can consider tree trimmers as your external decorators…really, if you have a patch of land with trees (or stumps!) on it and wish to make it look better or enhance its utility–tree trimming is the tree service for you. Do your research and find a reputable tree company to meet your needs. There are many tree services out there that are merely looking to line their pockets with your hard earned money. Ask around and do your due diligence. You can often find a great tree service by simply asking your friends or neighbors. Good luck!

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