Bell Home Solutions Summer 2015 Newsletter
Preparing Your Home for the Summer
As spring’s warm thaw replaces the cold days of winter, many people are taking the opportunity to relax and enjoy the weather. For homeowners, however, there’s still work to be done. Summer is not far off, and it is important that you take steps to prepare your home for the hot months ahead. Keeping your home during the summer involves a lot more different systems than you are probably aware of. If one of those systems is not in the best shape, or happens to fail during the summer, then you could be faced with a significant drop in your home’s comfort level. Below you’ll find a list of all the things in your home that you should have checked before summer begins.
Obviously, air conditioning is one of the best ways to keep your home cool and comfortable during hot summer days. Air conditioners, like many other home systems, are designed with the expectation that they will receive annual preventive maintenance. Without this maintenance they won’t last nearly as long, or operate as efficiently. So, it is important to have a professional HVAC technician inspect your air conditioning system every spring. This will help identify and fix developing issues before they are worsened by the increased demand of summer.
Heat will always travel from an area of high concentration to an area of low concentration. If your home were not insulated properly, that would mean it would be hot in the summer and cold during the winter. Insulation is designed to hinder the transmission of heat between your home and the environment, which allows you to keep your home at a comfortable temperature regardless of the weather outside. However, insulation is not invulnerable. Over time, it can wear out and rot away. Animals can damage it, as can excessive moisture.
Though you may not realize it, the insulation in your walls may no longer be up to the task of keeping your home comfortably isolated from the heat changes outside. So, how do you test your insulation? The best way is with an energy audit. This is a test designed to locate areas in your home that are releasing more energy into the environment than they should be. It doesn’t just apply to insulation, either. Energy audits can isolate problems with improperly sealed windows, as well as any other areas that might be allowing heat to enter or leave the house. Before summer gets fully underway, make sure that your house is properly insulated against the heat with an energy audit.
According to the US Department of Energy, the average forced air system loses around 30% of its output to duct leaks. Don’t waste money on cool air that isn’t even reaching you. Have your ducts sealed before you plan on using your air conditioner this summer. Duct sealing is the process of finding and closing any leaks that may be present in your ducts, increasing your energy efficiency and helping to keep you cool.
What Is an Arc Fault Interrupter and Why Does My Home Need It?
The electrical system in your home requires a number of safety features in order to operate safely, including protection from high voltage shocks and the prevention of electrical fires. It is very important that you receive electrical inspection for your home from licensed electricians to make sure that the electrical panel, wiring, outlets, and switches are safe and up to current safety requirements. If you have never had an electrical inspection performed at your home, this spring is an excellent time to call a professional electrician and schedule it.
The Importance of the Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter
One of the crucial safety precautions in modern electrical systems is the arc fault circuit interrupter (AFCI). An AFCI works in tandem with a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) to avert the most common dangers from a malfunctioning electrical system. A GFCI is designed to stop people from receiving high voltage shocks, while an AFCI serves an entirely different purpose: it shields homes from the dangers of electrical fires.
An arc fault interrupter detects arcing in electrical circuits, which is when electricity travels through air and jumps from one circuit to another. Unintentional arcing is the major cause of house fires in the U.S., causing around 26,000 fires a year and totaling $1 billion in property damage. Standard circuit breakers do not react to arcing, which is what makes AFCI installation so crucial.
An AFCI monitors electrical current and detects when unintended arcing occurs. As soon as it does, it cuts off the circuit to prevent the electrical arc from starting a fire.
Where is an AFCI Installed?
Arc fault interrupters can be installed in a number of ways. AFCI outlets may be integrated as receptacles throughout the home. These are recommended for sleeping areas, rooms that use water (bathrooms, laundry rooms), and any other location that is at an elevated risk of fire danger. Arc fault interrupters can also be installed into the electrical panel.
Effective since 2002, the current National Electrical Code (NEC) requires AFCI installation in all homes. The NEC is not a federally enforced law, however, but a set of guidelines for local jurisdictions to adopt and alter. A licensed electrician will know the requirements for your jurisdiction and provide the guidance necessary to see that your home has the mandated electrical fire protection.
Make sure that your family has the best defense possible against electrical fires, as well as electrical shocks, and contact a licensed electrician for an inspection this spring. Arc fault interrupters and ground fault interrupters are an essential part of maintaining a safe home.