Stay Cool When The Temperature Rises

There it sits, patiently waiting for the thermometer to climb.  Ever ready to jump into action at a moment’s notice when the homeowner calls.  Is it really ready?

The central air unit, we may see it every day and yet don’t notice it.  We know properFraser Johnson AC unit maintenance means it should be looked at each Spring but we haven’t called or taken the time ourselves to give the unit a once over.  Then it happens, the day when the air conditioning is turned on and we cross our fingers everything works.

A few simple steps will help you avoid the worry and stay cool when the thermometer rises, and we all know it will.

 

Safety first, shut off the power to the unit – There is often a shutoff box outside near the unit or turn off the power at the circuit breaker.

Protective grille – You may need to remove this to effectively clean the inside of the unit.

Clean the cabinet – the first and easiest maintenance step is clean the dirt, leaves and debris from the condenser unit.  Trim grass, trees, vines, anything thing that may have grown around the unit.  This keeps the air flowing and the system working efficiently.

Clean condenser – There are a variety available which will help cut grease and dirt.

Check and clean the fins – You can use a soft brush to clean the fins and a fin comb to straighten. The fins are a lightweight aluminum so be careful when cleaning or straightening.

Pad – Make sure the pad the unit sits on has not shifted.  Level if needed.

Check the tubes, wires and controls – Make sure there is no damage and everything is connected

Inside the house – Check the drain tube making sure it’s not plugged; the plenum is free of dust and debris and change the air filter. (Yes, we say that a lot)

 

With everything cleaned, maintained and if it all checks out,  the AC unit should be good to go keep you cool in the warm temps.

Stay Cool, P.o.P.

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P.o.P.’s Guide To A Tasty Grilling Season

It’s that time of year when Grilling Season really kicks in.  Whether you put your gas grill away or used it all winter, now is the time to give it a thogrillrough cleaning and make sure everything is in working order.

So, what are the key parts to a gas grill?  Especially the parts that tend to wear out?  Let me give you a quick overview….

 

 

 

 

 

Valves – Valves in a gas grill regulate the flow of gas to the burner so they are a key component in how well a gas grill works.  Over time valves can become plugged with debris or corrosion.  They can also rust and just plain wear out.  A replacement valve must be an exact match to fit and operate correctly.

 

Burners – The burners are the key part in a gas grill.  They mix the gas with air and release the mixture for combustion creating the heat.  The control knobs regulate the mixture which controls the heat.  Burners have a series of holes which the gas and air mixture flow through to produce the flame.  Drippings from the food being cooked often plug these holes.  The burners can also become corroded effecting the performance.  When the holes are plugged, there is uneven or no heat from the burner.  Sometimes the holes can be cleaned.  If they’re too clogged the burner may have to be replaced.

 

Cooking grid – The cooking grid or grates are what the food sits on to be cooked.  It’s important to clean the grates each time the grill is used.  Even with good cleaning the grates can become encrusted with grease, oil and food debris or start to rust.  If this happens and can’t be cleaned off the grate will need to be replaced.

 

Heat shield – Heat shield, heat plates, heat tents or heat angles, whatever you call them they disperse the heat from the burner and protect the burner from the food drippings.  When the drippings hit the heat shield they release the flavor from the drippings back into the food being cooked.

 

Ignitors – Igniters are the system which creates the spark to light the gas and air mixture.  Some folks use a lighter wand when the igniter system isn’t working.  This can be very dangerous and is not recommended.  There are three key parts to the igniter systems- Electrodes and wires, Igniter knobs and Spark generator.  You can replace whichever part is not working or all with a kit.

 

There are many more parts to a gas grill which can be replaced without having to buy a brand new grill just ask and we can help find your part. Proper maintenance and care will extend the life of your grill and keep the food tasty.

P.o.P.

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Spring Ahead

calendar_popDay light savings, Spring ahead and then the First Day of Spring….. these calendar markers are a great time to remember general household maintenance.

Here is PoP’s to-do list this Spring –

Replace furnace filters – This is a perfect time to change the furnace filter.

Is the AC unit ready for use? – It won’t be long and temps will be up, time to turn on the AC unit.  Window units have filters, make sure to change or clean.  Outdoor AC units need to have debris cleaned away and both need to have the drainage hole checked making sure it’s clear so the air conditioner will work properly.

Clean appliances

  • The Dishwasher may seem clean, it does run soapy hot water after all but it gets dirty too.  Run a cleaner through the dishwasher and check the filter.  Dishwashers are equipped with either an automatic filter that grinds food particles so they wash away with the waste water or a manual filter that you need to clean yourself. The grinders can be noisy so quiet dishwashers often have manual filters.  Check the owner’s manual for the manufacturer recommendations on how often to clean the dishwasher filters.  It can vary anywhere from 3-6 months depending on use.  Clogged or dirty filters may not damage a dishwasher but will certainly affect the performance.
  • A Washing machine needs to be cleaned as well along with, you guessed it, the dryer.  Make sure to check for lint build up in the dryer.  This not only extends the dry time using more energy and costing more, it also can lead to malfunctioning and fire.
  • This is a good time to check and clean the Stove/Oven.  Don’t forget to look up.  Whether it’s a range hood or microwave, pull out the filters and either clean or replace if needed.
  • While in the kitchen this is a good time to clean, and check over the refrigerator.  If the refrigerator has a water dispenser and/or ice maker now is a good time to check for and replace any filters.

Smoke Detectors – It’s recommended to change those batteries twice a year.  The Spring and Fall markers are good guide  lines to follow.  It’s also important to follow the manufactures replacement recommendations.  They are “on” 24/7.

Avoid that wet basement with regular sump pump maintenance.  Here are a few things to check into –

  • Clean inlet screen
  • Check power cord and backup power
  • Refer to the owner’s manual see if the pump bearings require grease or oil
  • Dump a bucket of water into the sump to raise the float and make sure the pump turns on.

And finally, my favorite, get that gas grill ready.

  • Wash the grill
  • Clean the cooking grates
  • Clean the burner and tubes
  • Stock fuel levels

Let the grilling season begin!

Spring ahead with these tips for a trouble-free Summer.  Enjoy!

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P.o.P.’s oven care for Thanksgiving

It’s Thanksgiving week

Are you hosting dinner?  Even if you’re not this is a good time to take care of your oven.  As much as we would like to believe it,(No -) a dirty oven is not built in seasoning.

thanksgiving-turkey-dinner-in-oven

 A dirty oven can be a fire hazard.  Food and grease burnt to the inside of an oven will continue to burn changing the taste of food.  Think about it, food and grease smoldering in the oven produces a burnt food smoke which unlike a BBQ smoke is not tasty.

A clean oven saves money – Food build up can lead to damage in the oven and reduces the efficiency as well.

Another issue caused by a dirty oven, food is less likely to cook evenly. 

 PoP Torch

What to do?  A few suggestions from P.o.P. –

  • Self-cleaning setting –
    • If your oven doesn’t have a self-cleaning setting
  • Try one of the many great oven cleaning products
  • Clean green with baking soda.
    • Remove the baking racks and soak in a deep sink or bathtub. Make a paste with baking soda and water, coat the inside of the oven with the paste and let sit overnight.  The next day wipe out as much of the paste as possible then spray with vinegar.  This will create a foamy reaction. Wipe away the goop for a clean oven.

 

Whatever your preference delicious food starts with a clean oven. 

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours

P.o.P.

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P.o.P.’s Fall heating checklist

leaves-159396_1280
Temperatures are dropping, leaves are changing, apples and pumpkins in abundance – Fall is the time to review the home check list and get ready for the heating season.  Regular maintenance can help prevent system failure and safe money in heating costs.  An HVAC professional can perform a complete system tune-up which should include….

  • Test and calibrate thermostat
  • Cleaning the system
  • Lubricating moving part
  • Tightening connections
  • Check safety switches
  • Measure voltage and current on motor
  • Clean condenser coils
  • Check ignition system

 

Things you can and should do as part of the fall maintenance checklist…

  • Change filters (recommendation is monthly)calendar_pop
  • Clean condensate drain lines
  • Visually check your system for wear and tear
  • Check that gas and electrical connections are secure
  • Keep area surrounding the system clean and free of debris

While going through the fall maintenance check list for your heating system it’s a good time to also look at your water heater, humidifier and if you have a fireplace (wood, gas or electric) make sure the unit is ready for the heating season.

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Do I need to replace my icemaker?

I got this call recently and decided it would make a good post:question_PoP

“There’s a mini-iceage happening in my fridge!”

I also decided “Do I need to replace my icemaker” was more descriptive and wouldn’t crash the site with a giant influx of geologists searching for a fabled fridge.

Now, on to business. You can skip this part if you just want to view the steps below, but I highly recommend learning just a bit about how your icemaker works. If nothing else, you can whip out your amazing icemaker factoids at the next cocktail party.

There are 3 key components to an ice maker –

  1. Power – ElectricityIce Maker
  2. Water
  3. Heating unit

The ice maker is hooked up to an electrical circuit within the refrigerator, a water hose and a heating unit.  Heat, in an ice maker?  Keep reading and you’ll see.

The process is a cycle.

  • It starts with a water valve opening to fill a mold. The mold is usually semicircular with a small notch so that the ice cubes will be connected to each other.
  • Once full the water is left to freeze in the mold. A sensor will detect when the water is frozen and close a switch.  When the switch closes an electrical current will run to the heating unit.
  • Yes, this is where heat comes in. Ice will stick to most surfaces so the heating unit slightly melts the ice just enough to provide a thin layer of water so a motorized arm with blades can push the ice out of the mold and into a storage bin.
  • Remember, the individual cubes are all connected so the ice moves as one piece and breaks apart as it falls into the bin.
  • The cycle continues until a sensor determines the storage bin is full.

 

So do I need to replace my icemaker?  You may not need to replace the unit, there are a few things to check first.

  1. Check the storage bin for clumps of ice. Break up any clumps or remove ones that won’t break apart.  Sometimes the cubes don’t break apart when they fall into the bin or they refreeze together creating an ice clump.
  2. Check the blade arm making sure it’s free of ice.
  3. Check the ice chute for build up

If everything looks good then the icemaker may need to be replaced ….  How to Replace an Icemaker -well that’s another post.

May your ice cycle blockage free,

P.o.P.

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What is an amp meter and how/when do I use one?

The short answer – it’s a device you use when you would like to measure the electrical current through a circuit.

As a quick side note, an amp meter (or ammeter) is to a multimeter as the corkscrew is to a jackknife. A multimeter includes the amp meter’s functionality and can measure other things as well (resistance, voltage, etc etc).

An amp meter measures – you guessed it – AMPS. An “amp”, or ampere, is a unit of measurement used to describe the speed at which electrons flow through a circuit (somewhat like mph). An amp meter measures the magnetic field of the conducting wire you clamp it around, and from there (ask if you need a better explanation of the magic) it gives you the amp reading. Below this post are the step-by-step instructions for hooking up and reading an amp meter…

(* jeopardy theme song *)

So, you now have a number.  If you think of the amperage as a speed and someone standing next to you suddenly said “50 mph,” you would have no context to associate that with (You might even step just a little farther away from that person). Same with the amperage measurement,  you need to find out what reading you’re aiming for. I can give you some examples, but then you are on your own as this varies situation by situation.

– When measuring an ignitor, you want to find the amperage “speed limit” on the back plate (it should say something like 2.5-3.0A)

– When measuring a burner switch, you can look the amperage up online based on your model or on the back of the switch (for example, 15A)

May all your readings be in a reasonable range,

P.o.P.

 

AMP METER READING INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Decide if you are measuring AC or DC and flip the switch to the proper setting on your device. (DC goes one direction and is usually found in baKlein amp metertteries, AC alternates directions and is often used for household appliances.)
  2. Which wire are you taking the reading from? Either supply wire (the wires supplying power to the device).
  3. Make sure the item you want to take a reading from is on – BE WARY OF ELECTROCUTION … the wires are “hot”.
  4. Clamp the meter around your chosen wire and read the amps from your screen. Done.
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