Archive for July 2017

Keeping your cords and cables under control

Any home with a television, cable box, computers, or even just basic floor lamps and fans, can easily have a mess of cords and cables. Over the years, we’ve seen lots of interesting ways that people manage cords in their home—some that are great ideas and some that put the homeowner at risk.

Here are a few tips for managing cords, whether it’s the mess of cords behind your entertainment center or the power strip next to your night stand.

Don’t overload power strips

This is one of the most important safety tips, and yet we see overloaded power strips all the time. Just because there are six or eight plugs on the power strip doesn’t mean you can plug six or eight things into it.

Some items, like fans or bedside lamps, don’t require much power. Other items, especially heating items like blow dryers, crockpots, and toasters, draw much more power. It’s a good idea to only have one of those on any single power strip.

Also be sure that any power strips are plugged directly into a wall outlet and not another power strip.

Avoid cords in high-traffic areas

Some homes, especially older ones, may not have electrical outlets in every place you need power. However, running power cords across high-traffic areas creates both a tripping hazard and a fire hazard if you’re regularly walking or rolling things across cords.

If possible, consider rearranging things so that whatever needs power is located close to the available outlets. If that’s not possible, try running cords over doorways instead of in front of them on the floor.

Keep cords tidy with labels and ties

If you peek behind your entertainment center or under your computer desk, is there a jumble of cords and cables staring back at you? That hidden mess of cords can present a fire hazard if you’re not careful, as electrical shorts can occur in the power strips or in the plugs themselves.

By keeping the cords more organized, you lessen the stress on any one plug or cord, as well as make it easier to inspect them regularly for any issues. Consider using velcro ties or other cord management tools to better contain the extra length of cords and keep things tidy.

Also consider labeling the cords where they plug in to the wall or power strip, as labels can help you quickly troubleshoot any issues with your electronics.

Tips for keeping your home cool in the summer

The summer heat has arrived, and your HVAC system is working harder to keep your home cool, which may mean a spike in your electric bill.

Whether your goal is saving money or you just want your house comfortably cool regardless of the outside temperature, follow these tips to help your HVAC system better handle the heat.

Check your doors and windows

Windows and doors are a key place where outdoor temperatures, whether hot or cold, sneak into your home.

Check your doors for any drafts and replace weather stripping that looks worn or damaged. Check the seals around all of your windows—if the caulk shows signs of cracking or pulling away from the edges, it’s probably time for some new caulk. Depending on which direction your windows face, you may also want to consider adding a tinted film on older, less energy efficient windows.

Close your blinds

Keep your blinds closed, especially during the hottest part of the day, to block some of the heat. For west- and south-facing windows that get lots of sun, consider adding a decorative room-darkening curtain on top of your regular blinds. The extra layer will help reduce the heat coming through the windows and prevent your home from turning into a greenhouse.

Keep air moving

During the summer, switch your ceiling fans to rotate counter-clockwise to help better circulate the cool air in your home. If you don’t have ceiling fans, a couple of strategically placed box fans or tabletop fans can still help circulate air and reduce the temperature in your home. In your bathroom and kitchen, be sure to use your exhaust fans to pull any heat or humidity out of the room as you shower or cook.

Fire up the grill

Using your stove and oven during the summer months makes your house hotter, which makes your air conditioning unit work that much harder to keep it cool. Head outside to the grill to avoid adding extra heat to the house. If you don’t have a grill, consider doing most of your cooking in the morning or late evening when temperatures are cooler and then reheating at meal times.

These are just a few of the tips you can use to help your HVAC unit better cool your home in the summer. If you’ve tried these tips and your unit is still struggling to keep up, it may be time for a service call to identify any other issues that may be going on.