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How to Turn off Water and Hoses in the Winter

When you live in a place like Highland, MD for as long as we have, you learn how to deal with harsh winters. Part of doing this is ensuring that your home and pipes are prepared for the cold of the winter by contacting a home inspection company.

A house covered in winter snow

Don’t Let Your Pipes Burst

Anyone who has ever dealt with a burst pipe knows exactly how much trouble it can be. The easiest solution to a burst pipe? Prevent it from bursting in the first place.

One usual culprit for wintertime pipe freezing is your hose bib. The hose bib is the outdoor faucet that your garden hose connects to. Even if you shut the bib completely off, there can still be water left in the pipe which can freeze and cause your pipe to burst.

How to Properly Shut Down Your Hose Bib

In order to completely ensure your pipe’s safety, you need to be thorough. In order to help you make sure your pipes are safe, we have put together this step by step list:

  1. Turn the valve off – The first thing you need to do is to make sure your hose bibs are completely turned off. Find the shut off valve within your home and turn it to the off position. Make sure the valve is completely off, or else some water can still get into the pipes.
  2. Pack up your hoses – Your next step is to disconnect all hoses, drain any water from them, and store them indoors in a dry location.
  3. Drain the hose bib – Even though you’ve already shut off the valve, water could still remain within the hose bib itself. To remove this water, you need to turn the faucet on and allow it to drain.
  4. Bleed the shut off valve – After you’ve drained your hose bib it is important to go back to the shut off valve. Once there you need to find what is known as the “bleed valve”, which typically can be found beneath the primary shut off valve. Place a bucket below the valve and allow for any water to drain out.
  5. Leave your bib open – Your last and final step is a minor but important one. You want to ensure you leave your hose bib open in case any water finds its way into the pipes. Once done your pipes should be completely water free.

If you follow these steps then you will greatly decrease the chance of your home’s pipes bursting. However this is not a be all end all set of solutions, and you may still benefit from the services and advice of an experienced Highland, MD home inspection company.

Whether you are preparing to sell or buy a property, contact us at Highland Home Inspections. We can help ensure your pipes remain intact, and can help with any other home inspection needs you may have.

Is Your Heat Pump Performing Properly?

Cold weather has finally arrived and that means that it’s about time to turn on the heat. To heat your home, it’s time for your heat pump to get to work if you have an all-electric house. However, once the temperature dips lower than 30°, your heat pump will run into some trouble keeping your house warm.

To learn a little bit more about your heat pump, read on and check out our video. 

A heat pump outside of a house

Check #1: The Thermostat

Make sure your system is calling for heat properly by setting the thermostat to a higher temperature than it is currently set to. If you do not hear the heating system kick on within a few minutes, there might be an issue with your heating system. If the thermostat doesn’t seem to be calling for heat, it might need new batteries. You can also check the circuit breaker to make sure it hasn’t been tripped.

Check #2: The Filter

A clogged air filter in your HVAC system can greatly decrease the heating efficiency and if not replaced can cause further damage to your heat pump. Your filter should be inspected once a month and changed no less than 4 times a year. If you notice your filter getting dirty often, it’s advisable to switch to a new filter once a month. Having pets who shed can cause this.

Check #3: The Unit Itself

There’s a very simple way to check in on your heat pump and make sure that it’s running properly. Head on outside and take a look at the unit itself. When you approach the outdoor unit, you’ll see a pipe that leads into your home easily identified with black insulation. Pull that insulation back and touch the copper pipe. If the heat pump is functioning properly, the pipe will be almost too hot to touch. If this is not the case, then it’s time to call in a professional to address the problem.

Neglecting to address your heat pump can lead to expensive bills come the Spring. It’s far better to avoid those surprise bill spikes by taking care of the issue now.

Winter Energy Efficiency Tips

  • Draw curtains and shades away from sun-facing windows during the day to bring in small amounts of heat that natural sunlight provides.
  • Check windows and doors for drafts and re-seal or re-insulate problem areas.
  • Upgrade to a programmable thermostat that allows you to give the heating system a break when no one is home.
  • Have your heating system inspected by a professional before the weather gets cold to ensure your heating system is running efficiently and is in great shape to keep you and your loved ones warm all winter long!

Looking to buy or sell a home and in need of a Maryland Home Inspection? Contact the professionals at Highland Homes Inspections today!

A Guide to Changing your Indoor Air Filter

Did you know your indoor air filter needs regular checking and changing? Over time air filters in the home become clogged and dirty, which can make them inefficient.

But how often does the filter need to be changed? Let’s take a look at filters and when they should be changed, how often they should be changed, and how to change them.

A Guide to Changing your Indoor Air Filter

Why Change the Filter?

Over time your indoor air filter becomes filled with dust particles that travel through your home’s air ducts. The filter’s purpose is to pick up dust and prevent it from entering the heating and cooling unit, and from cycling through your home. Filters are made to catch dirt and debris, so over time they should and will become dirty and full.

When the filter has caught all the dirt and dust it can handle it will stop being effective. When this happens it becomes harder for the air to pass through the filter and the air that does pass through isn’t cleaned as well as it should be. Changing the filter is an important part of maintaining your air duct system and maintaining clean breathing air in your home.

How to Determine if the Filter Needs to Be Replaced

To determine if your filter is in need of a replacement you can simply pull it out and examine it. A filter that needs to be changed will appear dusty and dirty. If you are unsure whether the filter needs to be replaced, consider replacing it on a regular schedule, such as every three months.

There are some other considerations to take into account when deciding how often to change your filter. The amount of pets you have in the home will greatly impact the amount of time you can get out of a filter. On average a filter can last approximately three months, but if you have several pets you will want to change it every 30-60 days instead.

Steps to Replacing the Filter

To replace the filter you’ll first want to figure out what type of filter to use, this information should be available with your HVAC units information.

Once you’ve determined the type of filter to use, turn off the unit and remove the existing filter from its place in the unit, the air filter slot. If you have trouble locating this consult the units guide, or contact the company that installed the unit for you.

Once you’ve removed the existing filter you can insert the new one, close the slot, and turn the unit back on. Before turning the unit back on quickly check the new filter to ensure it fits in the slot properly.

After you are finished you can throw away the old filter as you won’t need it anymore. If you were unsure of which kind of filter to purchase, it may be a good idea to write that information down for the next time the filter needs to be changed.

There are Many More Home Maintenance Tasks

Changing your home’s air filter is a simple but important part of home maintenance. Replacing the filter frequently can help your HVAC unit run smoothly and efficiently. In addition to changing your home’s air filter are a multitude of other home maintenance tasks. Changing the air filter is one of the more common of these home maintenance items. In the video below, we go into some of the… lesser known home maintenance tasks.

If you are unsure how to locate or replace your air filter, call us at Highland Homes Inspections, we’d be happy to help. Our team of Maryland home inspectors can help you ensure everything in your home is as it should be.

Inspecting Your Home Five Years Later

A lot can happen in five years. You’ve had five Christmases, five Thanksgivings, and twenty seasons worth of weather. In all of that hustle and bustle, what has happened to your home?

Have strong winds affected the roof? Has the basement flooded? Have the pipes frozen? All this to say a home can change a lot in five years and a fresh home inspection may be prudent.

Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why you should have someone periodically re-inspect your home.

5 year home inspection

Roof-Related Issues Can Crop Up Over Time.

A roof can be challenging to keep an eye on. After all, it’s probably not something you see every day or even every month. Things like leaks can clue you in to a roof problem, but without a Maryland home inspection, you may not be aware to developing issues.

Due to the high cost of roof replacement, catching problems early can make a big difference to a thrifty home owner.

HVAC Systems Can Become Costly When They Become Inefficient.

One item that we take a look at when we do a home inspection is the HVAC system and all that goes along with it. We want to make sure that it is still performing its best, even after five years.

Poor Fireplace and Chimney Maintenance Can Be Dangerous.

Fireplaces and Chimneys are wonderful additions to any home, but without the proper maintenance they can become quite dangerous.

When we tackle a home inspection, we always take a look at these features to ensure they are performing safely.

What Should You Expect When You Schedule a Home Inspection?

When you call on us to perform a home inspection, you can expect a thorough walk through. Not only do we inspect all we’ve mentioned above, we go far beyond as well. And we give you a thorough understanding of what we’re seeing with common sense documentation.

We will take about two and a half to four hours to survey your home. Then we will talk you through what we’ve found.

Within 24 hours of this inspection, we will also send you a detailed report on what you need to take a look at. To see what this looks like, check out our sample homes inspection report.

Stay Up to Date on Your Home’s Status and Needs with a Home Inspection.

Don’t let small maintenance items go undiscovered in your home. Schedule a home inspection with us today to ensure all is right with your home. You can contact us by phone at 301-854-3634 or by filling out the contact form on our website.