Taking Care of Your HVAC in the Winter

As the weather gets chillier, your thoughts are probably turning towards staying cozy. But even as you bundle up in your favorite winter blanket with a cup of hot cocoa, you should always keep your HVAC system in mind. After all, you want it to run efficiently and reliably regardless of the season. Here are a few great tips you can use to keep your HVAC system in great shape this winter.

Please Do Touch That Dial

According to our HVAC experts at Conditioned Air Solutions in Huntsville Al, the first thing you should do this winter is adjust your thermostat settings to maximize your HVAC system’s efficiency. This is easy to do if you have a programmable thermostat. If you don’t, make that one of your holiday gifts for your home this season.

Replace Your Filters Regularly

Air filters are a commonly neglected item when it comes to wintertime HVAC maintenance. Many people simply forget to change theirs, resulting in an HVAC system that can barely breathe through a clogged, dirty filter. Clogged filters are also packed with allergens that could trigger allergies and asthma in many people.

A clean air filter can make an amazing difference in your HVAC system’s performance, so plan on changing it this winter. Ideally, you’ll want to change your air filter at the end of each season or once a month if you have pets or a family member with severe allergies.

Check the Insulation

See that stuff wrapped around the lines coming from your HVAC unit? That insulation is crucial for keeping your unit running efficiently. Rotten or damaged insulation can let cold air through, resulting in energy loss and extra work needed to heat your home efficiently.

Look Out for Ductwork Issues

Leaky ductwork means less heat for your home and more work for your HVAC system. Pinhole leaks, tears and improperly sealed junctions can throw away valuable heat, preventing that warm air from reaching the rooms you want to keep warm. Keep a sharp eye out for leaks and have a professional seal them as soon as possible.

Consider Covering Your Outdoor HVAC Unit

The outdoor portion of your HVAC system is a robust unit, but it’s still vulnerable to the leaves, twigs and other debris that manage to get inside, especially when it’s not being used. If you have a gas or electric furnace, then chances are you’re giving your air conditioner a break for the season. This is a good time to cover up the outdoor unit.

Covering up your HVAC unit can be as simple as placing a sheet of plywood over the condenser fan outlet. Mesh covers let you cover the entire unit without the risk of trapping moisture inside. Avoid plastic tarps and thick covers, as these can trap rust-causing moisture and encourage animals to nest inside the unit. You should also avoid covering your outdoor unit if you own a heat pump.

Trim Back Plants and Foliage

Your HVAC needs room to breathe, so give it some space by pruning and trimming back any foliage that’s growing nearby. You’ll want to keep at least 2 to 3 feet between your HVAC system and whatever plants or shrubbery you have growing nearby. The same general rule goes for more concrete obstructions like wooden fences.

Getting Rid Of Your Carpets? Here’s How

carpet being rolled up

If you’ve just purchased a home or you’re thinking about redecorating your home, there’s a good chance you’re thinking of beautiful hardwood floors. Whether it’s the aged elegance of reclaimed wood or new bamboo, parquet or any other kind of hardwood, the first step is getting rid of your existing flooring – and all too often, that means tearing out carpeting. It’s a big job, but it’s not nearly as hard as you might think. Even if you’re not up for the challenge of laying down new floors yourself, this is definitely a DIY project.

Don’t Try To Take It Out In One Piece

Your carpet may have arrived in one piece, but there’s no reason at all that it has to leave the same way. You’ll have a much easier time dealing with it if you cut it into smaller, more manageable pieces. A box cutter works wonders here – don’t use scissors, this is actually a lot harder than using a knife. Strips of 2’ by 8’ are pretty easy to handle. Start from the edge and work your way through the room. Not only are these smaller pieces a lot easier to work with, you’ll also have a much easier time getting them into a trash can or dumpster.

Get Rid Of The Padding

Taking out the padding is equally easy. Just repeat the same process you used to take out the carpet, cutting the padding into manageable pieces and taking them out.

Tack Strips

This part can be a challenge, at least until you get the hang of it. However, with the right tools, this can be a very quick and easy job. If you’re planning to lay down a new floor, then there’s an especially easy method: push a chisel (or the end of a pry bar) under the tack strip and push to remove it. This can scratch up your floors, so you may want to skip this method if you’re not installing new flooring afterwards. The slightly less easy method involves a flat head screwdriver and a hammer. Slip the head of the screwdriver under the tack strip and give the handle a gentle tap with the hammer to force the tack strip up. After you have all of the strips out, use the hammer to pry up any remaining nails.

Now, it’s just a matter of cleaning up and preparing your floor for the next step. If your goal was just to expose your existing hardwood floors, then there is no next step. It really can be that easy to give your décor an upgrade and even increase the value of your home!

Redecorating Ideas to Rejuvenate Your Home’s Interior

Does your house’s interior look drab or boring? If your answer is yes, then your house needs a bit of rejuvenation and redecorating to enhance its appearance. Luckily, we have a list of things below that you can do to your house to accomplish this task.

Change Paint Colors of the Walls and Trim

Repaint the walls and trim with new paint and new colors! This will brighten your interior and could even make you feel like you are living in a new house. You must take the right enough time to match the paints, though, as you do not want them to clash with each other or the furnishings.

Do not just depend on the small paint samples from the home store to make your decision. You can now buy small containers of the paint to try on a wall in a place that is out of view. This way you know what each color looks like after it is on the wall and trim.

Add Colorful Throw Rugs

Colorful throw rugs brighten up carpeting that has seen better days. You can use the rugs to cover stains and worn spots. These come in a wide range of prices, colors, patterns, sizes and shapes. It is surprising what a big difference this makes in the house.

Of course, if you have a large enough budget to work with you could replace all your carpeting, but it is nice to know that throw rugs provide a cheaper alternative solution for worn carpeting. You would need to choose the carpet and have a professional install it for you. This is an expensive way to freshen up the appearance of the carpeting.

Don’t Forget the Kitchen

You use the kitchen on a daily basis cooking food for your family. The cabinets and cabinet doors most likely are starting to show the wear and tear. Repaint or re-stain the cabinets and shelves, whichever is your preference. If you need to, you can purchase new cabinet doors to match the cabinets. These doors also may need a coat of paint or stain depending on the look you are going for in your kitchen. Attach the new doors when the paint or stain dries. Add new knobs if necessary. Easy fix for a rundown kitchen.

Popcorn Ceiling Removal

acoustic ceiling - popcorn ceiling

Popcorn ceilings are so ’70s. Not only are they well past their prime, bumpy ceilings are tacky. If you’re tired of living with these monstrosities, let’s talk popcorn ceiling removal.

Experts strongly recommend an asbestos check before you disturb the status quo. You can buy an asbestos testing kit or mail some scrapings to a laboratory for analysis.

In the event asbestos is present, put away your tools and contact state-certified asbestos abatement professionals. Asbestos removal is not a prudent DIY project.

Under the best circumstances, popcorn ceiling removal is a dirty job. You should wear personal protective equipment (PPE) including: face mask, goggles, close-toed sturdy shoes, coveralls and work gloves.

Gather your tools before beginning the project. You’ll need: ladder, 6″ putty knife or plastic trowel, spray bottle or garden sprayer (preferred), plenty of plastic tarps and a couple of rolls of masking tape. You may need a sander.

Prepare the room by moving contents to another area. Turn off the electricity in the room where you’re working and take down light fixtures and/or ceiling fan. Cover the floor and walls with plastic and secure with tape. Put on your PPE.

If it appears somebody has painted over the bumps, you will need to sand the ceiling before wetting.

Wet the textured ceiling thoroughly, using your garden sprayer or spray bottle. Using side-to-side motions lightly spray the same small section several times until you have properly saturated the entire ceiling. Let the water soak into the ceiling about 20 minutes.

Now it’s time to get down to serious popcorn ceiling removal business! You might want to crank up your favorite tunes. Get your putty knife and start scraping. Don’t get overly vigorous. Keep your putty knife level so you won’t gash the drywall.

There is no doubt this work is tedious, but very important. Just keep scraping until done. If it seems your work is getting harder, give that section another drink of water. Wait the requisite 20 minutes, start scraping and the “popcorn” should pop right off.

After you finish scraping, get a damp (not wet) sponge and remove any stragglers. Now, eyeball the ceiling for gouges or rips. If necessary, use drywall compound to repair the damage and conceal any nail holes. Be mindful, you’re aiming for a smooth surface, so that you will likely need to do a final sanding prior to painting.

Now, stand back and admire your popcorn ceiling removal work!

Choosing Perfect Window Treatments

When redecorating a room, most of the thought goes into carpeting, wall coverings, and

woman standing at window looking at blinds - window treatments

furniture, but often window treatments aren’t given much thought. Window treatments should be given the same amount of weight as any other decorating decision because they can make or break the entire decorating scheme.

When faced with the many options available for windows, such as drapes, panels, or blinds, not to mention and untold number of fabrics, patterns, etc. making a choice may seem a bit intimidating. It doesn’t have to be however, there are a few guidelines that can help ensure that you choose the perfect window treatments to top off your new decor.

Consider the purpose of the room

There is a common misconception that window treatments should be matching throughout the house; disregard that completely. Because different rooms are used for different purposes, each should have its own style of window dressing. A family room, for example, is generally where people will be watching television so draperies that deaden outside noise are often a good choice. For bedrooms, often a blind or shade to keep out light and offer some privacy is in order, but they can be topped with an aesthetically pleasing sheer or panel to soften the look.

What is the window’s main purpose?

If it truly has no purpose other than to let in light, your choices for window coverings are almost endless, but if it is accessed frequently to let in a breeze or for its wonderful view, you will need to choose more carefully. Roller shades or blinds are a good bet for a window that has to be functional as well as pretty. They can also be topped with a sheer panel or simply a valance to add some color.

Is privacy an issue?

For bedrooms, bathrooms, or any room that can easily be seen into by a close neighbor, privacy should play an important role in your choice of window treatments. There are many stylish blinds that are every bit as pleasing to the eye as curtains and will allow you your privacy. Blinds are often a good choice for large windows as well because they can be opened to allow light in or closed for privacy or to insulate against heat or cold.

Consider your curtains as a frame for the perfect picture

Window dressings are the icing on the cake. Choose shades and patterns that will accent your newly decorated room and show it to its best advantage. Choosing a pattern that complements your walls and upholstery will bring out the best of everything in the room.

There is certainly more to choosing window coverings than what is mentioned here, but these guidelines can help you get started. Many people (myself included) like to change the curtains with the season. For summertime, a light, breezy sheer makes everything seem cheerful while heavier drapes or curtains in the winter will keep things feeling warm and welcoming. As with any decorating, window dressings are limited only by your own specific tastes and your imagination.