Common Winter Home Problems

Homeowner responsibilities are great any time of year. But most would agree that winter can present some especially hard and unique challenges – from keeping your family warm and comfortable to making sure your walkways are free of ice and snow for friends, neighbors, and passersby.

In addition to everyday home maintenance, there are several bigger issues that could quickly turn into costly emergencies if ignored. Here are 6 of the most common among them:

  1. Pests – Keep doors securely closed at all times and seal any cracks or gaps around doors, windows, and your foundation to prevent rodents from settling in for the winter.
  2. Frozen pipes – Insulate your pipes to prevent them freezing, and make sure outdoor spigots are drained and the connecting valve is shut off for the season.
  3. Loose or missing shingles – Snow and ice can do a number on your roof. So, routinely inspect your roof for damage and repair it as necessary to prevent further damage.
  4. Rain gutters – Keeping your gutters and downspouts clear of debris is important. But so is keeping them free of heavy snow and ice, as the added weight can cause gutters to loosen and collapse.
  5. Frozen sump pump – If your sump pump is equipped with an extension hose, remove it if the temperature dips below freezing to prevent freezing and resulting damage to your pump.
  6. Failing heating system – Avoid a furnace breakdown by having your home heating system inspected annually by a qualified technician. If your furnace is on its last legs, consider replacing it with a new, energy efficient unit before you’re forced to make that decision.

So, when was the last time your home heating system was thoroughly cleaned and inspected?  Or your plumbing, for that matter. If it’s been a year or longer, contact Eagle Service Company today for professional and thorough heating and plumbing system inspections. Because a little preventative maintenance today can prevent a costly repair tomorrow.

How to Prevent Holiday Disasters

The house is spotless, the table is set, and your family and friends are on their way to your home to enjoy a delicious home-cooked holiday meal. And just then, your kitchen sink won’t drain. We’re talking a water-up-to-your-elbows clog.

We’ve all been there, and we know how quickly these pesky mishaps can zap the holiday spirit right out of you. Thankfully, some of the most common issues can be avoided with a little preventative care.

Here are 5 common holiday hosting problems and tips for avoiding them.

The oven won’t heat. During the holidays, the oven quickly becomes one of the most important appliances in the house. If it stops working, it can quickly turn your festive holiday meal into a casual pizza party. To help prevent it from going caput, resist the urge to use the self-clean function – and risk blowing a fuse or thermostat – until after the holidays, especially if you’ve never used that function before. Also, if you notice your oven acting up now, don’t put off contacting an appliance repair person. A little money spent now can prevent a major malfunction later.

The kitchen sink won’t drain. Did you know that the holiday season is one of the busiest times of year for plumbers? More cooking and baking means more dirty dishes, and in our haste to clean up, it’s not uncommon for homeowners to let some things slip down the drain that we otherwise wouldn’t. Avoid a serious back-up and protect your plumbing by properly disposing of all food waste. Never pour cooking fat and oil down the drain, and if you have a garbage disposal, don’t feed it starchy or fibrous food. Also, resist the urge to use chemical drain cleaners. They actually do more harm than good. Keep a plumbing snake handy to dislodge backed up food waste.

The heat goes out. You want your guests to enter a warm and inviting home, not a frigid tundra. Be sure to clean or replace your furnace filter at least every 90 days, and have your heating system inspected annually by a licensed HVAC technician to ensure that it’s in tip-top shape.

The toilet is backed up. Nothing gets your heart racing faster than the sight of quickly rising water in a toilet. And while there’s never a good time for a clogged toilet, it’s extra annoying during the holidays. Don’t throw anything other than toilet paper down the toilet. And consider putting up a polite note reminding your guests to do the same.

The refrigerator won’t stay cold. Avoid having to dispose of hundreds of dollars-worth of food by keeping an eye on your fridge, and being mindful of any temperature changes. Your fridge needs to circulate cold air, so don’t over-stuff the shelves. And keep the condenser coils on the back free of dust, dirt, and pet hair.

Of course, even with the best of care, plumbing and heating mishaps can and do happen. Should happen to you this holiday season, Eagle Service Company will be on hand to turn disaster into delight before you know it. Contact us today for the service you need, when you need it.

How to Use Castile Soap

Never heard of Castile soap? Pity, but you’re far from alone.

Castile Soap is a centuries old invention that originated in Syria and later spread to Southern Europe. It’s in Spain where today’s formula was solidified, particularly in the cities of Malaga, Carthagene, Castile, and Alicante due to their high quality of water and an abundance of olive oil.

What else do we know about Castile soap?

  • 100% bio-degradable
  • Still growing in popularity as it replaces soaps with artificial ingredients
  • Mild and effective in removing dirt
  • Converted to liquid form in Germany in the 1880’s
  • Modern Castile soap is still primarily olive-oil based

Even today, hundreds of years after it first came on the scene, new uses are still being found for Castile soap. Here just a few ways to use it now:

All-Purpose Cleaner – Forget the pricey, chemical-filled commercial cleansers and make your own all-purpose spray by adding ½ cup of Castile soap to a quart of warm water in a clean spray bottle. Stir well to combine and use on kitchen counters, sinks, or any other solid surfaces. For an added boost, add a half cup of vinegar to the mix.

Tub and Shower Scrub – Give soap scum the boot with a powerful mixture of 1/3 Castile soap, 2/3 water, and ¼ cup white vinegar. Sprinkle baking soda liberally around tub and tile, then spray with the Castile soap mixture to activate the baking soda’s foaming action. Let it bubble for a few minutes before cleaning with a soft bristle brush or scouring pad. Rinse clean with water and let dry.

Laundry Detergent – If you or someone in your family is sensitive to fragrances or chemicals, or if you simply want a more natural laundry detergent option, mix one cup Castile soap and ¾ cups baking soda, then add ¼ cup sea salt dissolved in 2 ¼ cups of warm water. Pour the mixture into a clean gallon jug and use about ¼ cup per load to get your clothes clean without the irritants.

Dish Soap – Even if you only occasionally hand wash your dishes, you know how dry and chapped your hands can get with regular dish soap. Instead, fill the sink with 10 parts warm water and 1 part Castile soap, and wash dishes as you normally would. For extra stubborn grime on pots and pans, pour a couple drops of undiluted Castile soap right the surface and scrub.

Dishwasher Detergent – For a more natural way to tackle dirty dishes in the dishwasher, mix 8 ounces of Castile soap with 1 cup water and 3 teaspoons of lemon juice. Add 1cup of white vinegar to your dishwashers sealed detergent compartment, plus 1 tablespoon of the mixture to its unsealed detergent compartment, and run a regular wash cycle.

Floor Cleaner – Most floors, like tile, vinyl, and wood, can be cleaned with a mixture of a half cup of Castile soap dissolved in three gallons of hot water. Just be sure to use a barely-wet mop on hardwood floors. You can use a little more on water-resistant flooring materials.

For even better cleaning results, consider the benefits of a whole-house water filter from Eagle Service Company. You’ll drink, cook and clean with filtered water, no matter where your draw water from in your home. It’s a smart solution for anyone who cares deeply about what they put inside their bodies. Call today for more information and a free new system quote.

How to Remove Mold from Your Dishwasher

Mold. It’s one of those four-letter words that can do more than offend you or give you the creepy crawlies. It can cause serious concerns about the condition of your home and the potential for health-related problems that mold can trigger.

A common mold breeding ground is right inside your dishwasher. Mold thrives in warm, dark, damp places. It also loves leftover food particles and soap residue – so, what’s not to like about a dishwasher.

Luckily, with a little elbow grease and some basic cleaning supplies, you can remove even the most stubborn of mold deposits and keep it from coming back.

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  • Start with an empty dishwasher and remove all racks and silver-wear trays or baskets. Wash the racks and trays by hand with warm soapy water and set aside to dry.
  • Mix 2 cups hot water with ½ cup distilled white vinegar in a bowl or empty spray bottle, and apply to the moldy areas as well as all seals and crevices where mold might be hiding. Thoroughly scrub the inside of your dishwasher with an old toothbrush or sponge – paying special attention to the underside of the spinning arms – and then rinse with warm water.
  • Place the racks and utensil tray back in the dishwasher. Pour two cups of vinegar into a small dishwasher-safe bowl or measuring cup and place it upright on the top rack of the dishwasher. Run a full wash cycle on the highest heat setting.
  • Finally, sprinkle a cup of baking soda on the dishwasher floor and run a full wash cycle on the highest heat setting a second time. While the vinegar works to kill the mold, the baking soda tackles any mold spores the vinegar may have missed while it deodorizes the interior.

When the job is completed, you can step back and enjoy your shiny clean and fresh-smelling dishwasher. To keep mold from coming back, wipe down any wet areas if you won’t be running the dishwasher for a few days.

At Eagle Service Company, we can stop the spread of mold in your home when the problem stems from a leaking water pipe. So, if you should spot black mold forming on all walls, ceilings, or inside your tub or shower, contact us so we can determine the cause, source, and take the necessary corrective action.

How to Protect Your Pet from Heat Stroke

For pets that are heat sensitive, the steamy summer months not only make their lives more uncomfortable, pets are risk of heatstroke – a potentially fatal condition.

Here are some tried and true techniques to help keep your pets from harm:

  • First, make sure they have plenty of shade all day long. Just because they’re in a shady spot in the morning doesn’t mean the same spot will be shady later in the afternoon. Pets also need a cool surface to stand, sit and lay on.  Asphalt, for example, can quickly burn the pads of their feet.
  • Next, provide plenty of cool, fresh water several times a day. Make sure they can reach the water, and secure the water bowl so it can’t be overturned. Avoid ice water, though, as it causes problems for some pets.
  • NEVER leave your pet in a parked car. The temperature on dark, leather seats exposed to the sun can reach 180 degrees Fahrenheit and hotter.

Still, how would you know if your pet is in the throes of heatstroke. In the early stages you’ll notice heavy panting, rapid breathing and a bright tongue and gums.  Try to cool your pet down to prevent the condition from growing worse.

Symptoms of more advanced and dangerous levels of heatstroke include unwillingness to move, noisy breathing, and uncontrollable body functions.

To help your pet recover, the AKC advises you to apply ice packs to the groin area, douse it with water and allow it to lick ice cubes. If it can’t be cooled down and begins to show signs of advanced heatstroke, take the dog to an animal hospital as quickly as possible.

How about inside your home?  Are conditions cool and comfortable for pets and humans alike? Eagle Service Company can help keep it that way with annual preventive maintenance, which features our multi-point cleaning and inspection service.  If it’s been a year or longer since your last such service, why not call today to avoid problems later on.

5 Common Home Remodeling Mistakes

You’ve been dreaming about it, saving for it, and planning it in your head for months – maybe even years. Suddenly, it’s time to embark on your long-awaited remodeling project.

So, what’s the last think you want moving forward?  Costly mistakes and delays, that’s what!  That’s why you’ll want to avoid these 5 common home remodeling mistakes.

Not setting, and sticking to, a budget.

Remember that the quotes you often see for remodeling projects are simply estimates and averages. While you can remodel a bathroom for $5000, you’re going to pay quite a bit more for such luxuries as floor-to-ceiling marble, a cast iron claw-foot tub, or a multiple-head shower system.  So be sure to price out materials and labor when setting your budget. Then, prioritize your must-haves so you know where to splurge and where to save.

Questioning your decisions.

Between HGTV and Pinterest alone, you could literally spend every waking moment digesting new and old design ideas. Then, just when you think you’ve made up your mind, something shinier, newer, and more exciting pops up. That’s why you should consider your design ideas set in stone once the materials have been purchased and work has begun.  That’s not to say you can’t make small tweaks here and there, but changing your mind about the kitchen backsplash after it’s already been ordered – or worse, installed – can set you back by weeks, and cost you a pretty penny to boot.

Scheduling work without materials.

When ordering materials, appliances, and furniture, keep track of when everything is expected to arrive and don’t forget to factor in delivery time. Then, consult your contractor and schedule a start date for the renovation. Otherwise, you might find yourself without a usable kitchen or bathroom much longer than necessary.

Not staying organized.

Let’s face it, remodeling means temporarily living in a construction zone. But you can make that experience more tolerable by staying organized. Find a place to store items you know you won’t need for the duration of the project, and designate a place for everything else for quick and easy access.

Ignoring permits.

Whether you’re doing the work yourself or hiring a professional, make sure you know what does and doesn’t require a permit. Your father-in-law might swear that he didn’t pull a permit for his sunroom addition and everything worked out fine, but should a nosey neighbor report you or an inspector happen to drive by, skipping this step could cost you big time. Also, don’t assume that your contractor is pulling necessary permits, either. Ultimately, it’s the homeowner’s responsibility.

If your home remodeling project involves updating or placing any of your plumbing, heating, or cooling equipment, you’ll find Eagle Service Company a ready and able addition to your project team. Talk to us early on the process so we can help you stay true to your goals and budget, too.  For a free in-home consultation and proposal, contact Eagle Service Company today.