Common Cold Weather Mistakes

Whether you’re a winter enthusiast or use this time of year to count the days until summer, you still probably take some measure of comfort from snuggling up with a fluffy blanket by the fire (or not) and letting the stress of your day melt away.

Kind of easy to get lost in that thought, let alone the actual experience, right? Great, but don’t get so lost that you forget to take all the proper precautions to better protect your home and family.

As such, here are six common winter time mistakes well-worth avoiding:

Not Preventing Icicles

While they may be pretty to look at, icicles hanging from your gutters probably indicate the formation of an ice dam – a buildup of ice on your roof or gutter that prevents rain, melting snow, and ice from flowing through your gutters and tout through the downspouts. If left unattended, they could lead to costly roof repairs and water damage inside your home. Start by checking that your attic is properly insulated. If it isn’t and you can’t re-insulate right now, add heated gutter cables to the areas that are prone to ice damns as a temporarily fix.

Not Winter-Proofing Your Plumbing

It’s amazing what damage just a little frozen water can do. If you want to prevent finding out the hard way, be sure to winter-proof your plumbing. Insulate exposed water pipes in unheated areas of your home, like the garage and basement. Also, shut off the water supply to outdoor spigots, drain the hoses, and add a faucet protector to help keep cold air from getting in.

Allowing Cold Air to Sneak In

A cracked window sill here, a loose outlet cover there – all the little cracks and gaps in your home can add up to cold nights and sky-high heating bills. Walk through every room of your home and take note of where warm air is escaping and cold air coming in to fill the void, and then seal them off.  This little fix will also serve you well in the summer.

Not Having Your Heating System Inspected and Tuned Up

Annual heating system preventative maintenance not only helps keep your system in top working order, it enables us to detect small problems before they become bigger and costlier repairs.

Skipping the Fireplace Inspection

For all the good your fireplace does, a dirty chimney can put your home and family in danger. Be sure to have your fireplace inspected and cleaned once a year, preferably before its first use of the season.

Need help in not letting winter get the better of you or your home?  If so, contact Eagle Service Company today for help with winterizing your plumbing, heating system preventative maintenance, or any other home plumbing or heating need.

 

10 Things You Should Clean More Often

When was the last time you cleaned all the door knobs in your home, or your toothbrush? If your answer falls somewhere between “The 12th of never” and “I’m supposed to do that?” then read on.

When most people think of dirty, germ-infested surfaces, they tend to focus on things and places like public bathrooms and ATMs. But the truth is, dozens of surfaces are harboring dirt and bacteria right in your own home – perhaps the very computer or mobile device you’re using right now being one very good example! Ready to declare war on all that dirt and grime? Here are 10 places to start.

  1. Kitchen sink – Kitchen sinks are said to contain more E. Coli than toilets. So after each time you wash the dishes, spray the sink down with a disinfecting spray.
  1. Door knobs and light switches – Think of all the people who touch these on any given day. Yet they often go overlooked during cleaning.
  1. blogRemote controls – Use a disinfecting wipe to clean all the remotes in your home, including those that control your music system, automatic blinds, and ceiling fans.
  1. Toothbrush – Ideally, you should replace your toothbrush every 6 months, or after any illness. But you can give it a soak in vinegar to keep it clean in between.
  1. The trash can – Wipe it down every time you take out the trash, and give it a thorough cleaning once a month.
  1. Telephones and tablets – Never spray anything directly on your phone or tablet, simply wipe them down with an approved cleaner.
  1. Laundry baskets – Designate one for dirty clothes and one for clean. And wipe the “dirty” one regularly with a disinfecting wipe or wash the liner if it has one.
  1. Refrigerator handles – Wipe these down once a week – or once a day if someone in your home is sick – to kill germs and bacteria.
  1. Dishwasher – Just because it cleans, doesn’t mean it is Place a small dishwasher-safe bowl or mug of vinegar upright on the top rack of an empty dishwasher, and run a hot cycle.
  1. Garbage disposal – Keep it fresh with a mixture of baking soda and vinegar. Sprinkle ¼ cup of baking soda down your disposal, followed by one cup of distilled vinegar. Let it foam up and sit for 10 minutes. Flush with hot water as the disposal is running to clear everything out.

Speaking of your garbage disposal, has yours been acting up lately, or is slow to fully dispose of its contents.  If nothing you’re trying on your own is bearing any fruit, then give us a call:  your local plumbing professionals at Bruce Solomon Plumbing, Heating & Air.

 

5 Tips for Faster – But Still Effective – Household Cleaning!

We all spend more time cleaning than we want to, and when you add in work, dinner, homework, and afterschool activities, life gets down right messy and, way too often, dirty.

And yet the trick to maintaining a clean and organized home is not to work harder, but smarter. Not quite sold on that idea?  Well, check out these five proven effective cleaning shortcuts, and soon you might be whistling while you work (around the house) too!

  1. blogBreak up the tasks: Instead of writing “clean kitchen” on your to-do list, break up the task into smaller steps. For example: “Empty dishwasher,” “wipe down stove top,” “clean the microwave,” and “sweep floor”. This not only gives you a greater sense of accomplishment as you complete each task, but also makes it easier for others in the house to help out. When you write out each step your expectations are clear to everyone, and can easily be delegated to others.
  1. Keep cleaning tools handy: Quick cleaning becomes more doable when you don’t have to walk all over your house for supplies. Instead, keep cleaning supplies handy for each task.  For example, while the kids are in the bath, grab the cleaner under the sink and give everything a quick spray. While you’re waiting for water to boil on the stove, grab a sponge and wipe down the counter.
  1. Use a basket: Ever start cleaning the living room, find a pair of shoes that belong in a bedroom, and end up cleaning the bedroom instead? Try using the basket trick! As you clean up the room, place all the items belonging to one family member inside its own dedicated basket.  Then it’s their job to return the basket and its contents to their rightful places while you stay focused on, in this case, the living room.
  1. Clean as you go: Most people save deep cleaning for when company is coming, holidays, or spring cleaning. By then the to do list is long, overwhelming, and only adds to the stress level around the house. It’s much easier to clean regularly when the opportunity arises. Are you already on your belly looking for a lost toy under the couch? Grab the broom, and sweep under the floor while you’re there. Only use your food processor or other small appliance a few times a year? Be sure that it returns to the closet with the cord wiped down, and all parts cleaned.
  1. Make it fun: Put on music and make house cleaning a game! A great clean up game for kids is to make a race to put away everything in their respective piles the fastest. That’s less work for you, and they’re having so much fun they don’t even realize they’re helping out.  Talk about the ultimate win-win.

More frequent and organized cleaning also leads to faster detection of plumbing leaks.  Let’s say, for example, this is your designated week for vacuuming and dusting behind your refrigerator.  But once you pull it away from the wall, you notice a small pool of water.  Or maybe black mold spots on the wall that were previously blocked by the fridge.  Those are two pretty clear signs of a water leak, and those need to be taken care of pronto to avoid further loss of water and even greater damage to your home.

Anytime you spot signs of water where there shouldn’t be any, contact Eagle Service Company for a fast response, expert leak detection, and the right remedial solution.  Eagle Service Company:  for all your home plumbing needs.

How to Make the Best Use of Your Living Space.

Ever wonder how those homes featured in designer magazines or home reality TV shows always look so flawless, while your living room looks like a hodge-podge of furniture and “stuff”?

Well, making the necessary adjustments to improve the look and feel of virtually any room in your room is usually a lot simpler than you might think.  Better yet, you won’t need an interior decorator to get you from point A to B.

Here are 6 tried and true ways to achieve amazing results, and that’s true whether you’re starting with an empty space and an already fully furnished room.

  1. blogPull your furniture away from the wall. Even a small room can benefit from a little extra breathing room. You’ll be surprised how spacious yet inviting your room will actually look.
  1. Add secondary lighting. Don’t rely just on overhead lighting to deliver the ambiance you desire. Floor lamps, table lamps, and sconces are perfect ways to create a soft glow and defining sitting areas.
  1. Avoid blocking the flow of traffic. You and your guests shouldn’t have to maneuver around furniture just to get into or out of a room. Make sure your furniture placement enhances rather than impedes flow.
  1. Remember that less is more. Too many furniture pieces – no matter how beautiful and stylish – can make a room feel like it’s closing in on you. Which is to say you probably don’t need the 12-piece living room set you recently saw advertised on TV, no matter how favorably priced it might have been.
  1. Group together items of similar style and scale. A large, bulky piece placed next to a short, slender one will look off-balance and thrown together. Consider size and scale when purchasing or arranging furnishings.
  1. Think about how you intend to use a room. Is it formal and rarely occupied or is it the favored gathering place for friends and family? If the latter, perhaps those sleek, stainless steel arm chairs you’ve been considering aren’t really the way to go.

What can we do to help?  Well, interior decorators we are not, but we are indoor comfort experts. In fact, we get calls all the time from folks looking for ways to more efficiently heat and cool homes whether or not they’re actively involved in a home remodeling project.  Perhaps a baseboard unit can be re-located so your sofa won’t block a large percentage of the heat.  Maybe you need a ceiling or floor vent moved – or one or two new ones added – to enhance indoor comfort.  Or, how about adding a wet bar to your family or dining room to make entertaining more fun and with fewer back and forth trips to the kitchen.

For more information on how we can improve your family’s indoor comfort while adding greater convenience into your everyday lives, contact Eagle Service Company today.

 

Winter Home Upkeep in Birmingham & Mountain Brook

blogYour home is one of the single biggest investments of your life. And just like your health and even your car, it needs occasional TLC to keep it in tip-top shape. But the truth is, between work, the kids, and other commitments that demand our attention, it’s easy to place routine home maintenance chores on the back burner. Sometimes indefinitely, and way too frequently, until a preventable problem forces you to take action.

So this year, reap the rewards of a well-maintained home by tackling that pesky to-do list now while it’s still winter and before spring fever gets the best of you.

  1. Clean around your washing machine, removing lint from the lint trap and vent. Use a sold bristle brush or sponge to clean around the opening of the washing machine and wipe with a wet cloth.
  2. Clean out the inside of your refrigerator and freezer. Throw out expired items and wipe down shelves and produce compartments. Then, pull the refrigerator out and vacuum behind it.
  3. Replace the water filter in your fridge or water filtration system.
  4. Inspect faucets and toilets for leaks and repair or replace if necessary.
  5. Clean your dishwasher. Place a cup of vinegar in the top rack of your dishwasher and run a hot cycle. Once complete, sprinkle a cupful of baking soda on the bottom and run a short hot-water cycle.
  6. Tighten loose screws on cabinet knobs, door knobs, stair railing, etc.
  7. Dust heating vents and clean or replace the HVAC filter.
  8. Inspect, clean, and test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  9. Check your sump pump to make sure it is operating properly. If it has a battery back-up, unplug the pump and test it.
  10. Take an inventory of your home and possessions so that, should the need arise, you could substantiate an insurance claim in the event of fire, flood, or some other disaster. And update that list monthly or as you acquire new things.

In the course of performing home maintenance and taking general inventory around the house, check around your water heater for signs of leaking water, even if the water has dried up. Internal corrosion can lead to cracks in the lining of your storage tank and can result in leaking water. If you do spot such evidence, contact the professionals at Eagle Service Company so we can take corrective action now, and hopefully before it’s necessary to replace your water heater.

 

 

Fun Facts about Gingerbread Houses in Vestavia Hills & Hoover

blogNo holiday treat symbolizes the season quite like gingerbread, from candy-studded gingerbread men, to spiced loaves of bread, and even gingerbread flavored coffee and muffins.

Still, the signature expression of gingerbread making is surely a gingerbread house adorned with icing, candy, and a dusting of confectioner’s sugar.

For many families, the act of building and decorating a gingerbread house is a time-honored tradition. But do you know why we only find gingerbread houses around Christmas time? Or how these little delectable houses even came to be so popular?

Here are 7 interesting facts about the origins of gingerbread, and the ever-popular houses that we all know and love.

  1. Gingerbread is typically made with ginger and sometimes cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom and anise. It is sweetened with any combination of brown sugar, molasses, light or dark corn syrup, or honey.
  1. It is believed that gingerbread was first brought to Europe in the year 992 by an Armenian Monk, Gregory of Nicopolis, who taught gingerbread cooking to priests and other Christians.
  1. Over time, gingerbread baking became a highly regarded profession. In fact, in the 17th century, only professional gingerbread bakers were allowed to bake gingerbread. The only exceptions were at Christmas and Easter.
  1. Gingerbread houses originated in Germany during the 16th century, typically decorated with foil and gold leaf, and became associated with the Christmas holiday.
  1. The popularity of gingerbread houses quickly rose after the publication of a well-known Brothers Grimm fairy tale “Hansel and Gretel”.
  1. Though the origins are unknown, Gingerbread House Day is celebrated each year on December 12th.
  1. The world’s largest gingerbread house was built by the Traditions Club of Bryan, Texas in 2013. The structure is 60 feet by 42 feet and stands 20 feet tall on a wood base.

As you prepare for the upcoming holidays, please let us know if there’s anything we can do to enhance your family’s indoor comfort – plumbing- or heating-wise – for an even merrier overall experience.

Holiday Season Safety Tips in Birmingham & Mountain Brook

blogWhether it’s simply enjoying a quiet night by the soft glow of tree lights or a festive and fun-filled gathering with family and friends, one thing’s for certain: there’s no place like home for the holidays.

But all that decorating, cooking, and entertaining can put your home and loved ones at risk for accidents, fires, and injuries. So as you’re sprucing up your home for the holidays, tackle the following to-do list for a safer and happier season.

  1. First and foremost, test your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, and invest in a small fire extinguisher if you don’t already have one. Make sure nothing is blocking exits and escape routes in the event of a fire.
  2. Do not overload outlets and avoid connecting multiple extension cords together as they could spark a fire.
  3. Prevent trips and falls by keeping floors clear of cords, toys, and decorations.
  4. Inspect all plug-in decorations, lights, and cords for damage before plugging them in. And resist the urge to “fix” frayed wires with electrical tape.
  5. Place any candles and breakable decorations out of reach of children and pets.
  6. Keep young children away from cooking areas. Use back burners whenever possible and turn pot handles in towards the cooktop.
  7. Keep your live Christmas tree from drying out by watering it daily.
  8. As pretty as they are, certain holiday plants are poisonous to both people and pets. So be careful what you buy and where you place real mistletoe and other holiday season plants.
  9. Using a space heater? Make sure it’s inspected by a qualified independent safety company like UL. And place it at least three feet away from bedding, drapery, and any other flammable items.
  10. Blow out candles and make sure the fire in your wood burning stove or fireplace is completely out before going to bed or leaving the house.

Here at Eagle Service Company, we wish you and your family a happy, healthy, and safe holiday season.

How to Protect Your Pet from the Heat in Birmingham & Vestavia Hills

eagleSummer months are often filled with outdoor family gatherings, trips to the beach or lake, and simply more time spent out of the house than in. But they are also filled with skyrocketing temperatures, thick humidity, and numerous associated hazards for your pet.

At the same time, no need to forgo all the fun while doing everything you can to keep Fido or Fluffy safe in the sun. By understanding the dangers and taking a few safety precautions, you can keep your furry friends cool and comfortable this summer.

  1. Heat – Cats and dogs respond differently to excessive heat than humans do. Make sure your pet has a cool shady place to rest, and provide him (or her!) with plenty of fresh water. Avoid walking your dog during the hottest part of the day, and be sure to apply a pet safe sunscreen to the less fur covered areas of the body.
  2. Falls – Cats, and even small dogs, love to relax on window sills and watch the world go by. Make sure unscreened windows are closed, and that window screens are secure to prevent your pet from falling.
  3. Water – There’s nothing more refreshing than a cooling swim on a hot summer day. Introduce your dog to water gradually, and don’t assume that all dogs can swim. Don’t leave your pet unattended near water, and if they do go for a splash, be sure to rinse off sand, salt, and pool chlorine thoroughly.
  4. Poisons Keep your pet off lawns treated with harmful chemical fertilizers for at least 24 hours, and make sure they don’t take a lick of that tempting antifreeze that often ends up on city streets. Store insect repellants, citronella candles, and other chemicals out of your pets’ reach.
  5. Parties – It might be tempting to take your pooch to a pool party or cookout, but that’s one temptation that also might be worth resisting.  If you do bring them, keep them away from lit grills, people food and beverages, party decorations, and garbage. And, of course, not all dogs are excellent swimmers.  Is yours? If not, then you don’t want to leave your dog unattended by backyard pool.

How’s your pet enjoying life indoors right about now?  If your answer is “not so much,” then it might be time to schedule an AC system cleaning and inspection, as performed by the home comfort professionals at Eagle Service Company.  Annual maintenance is the key to cooler and more comfortable conditions all summer long.  And that goes for you and your pets.  Contact us today to schedule service, and allow us to help you enjoy your summer even more.

Creative Father’s Day Activities in Birmingham and Vestavia Hills

eagleHe kisses boo-boos away, coaches the baseball team, and looks for monsters under the bed. He’s always there to talk and listen, and his love is unconditional. He’s the first man his little girl will ever love, and the hero his little boy looks up to. He’s dad. And this Father’s Day, he deserves much more than a new necktie.

If you’re looking for unique and meaningful ways to honor the special dad in your life, look no further. Here are 7 ways to make this Father’s Day one to remember.

  1. Plan a day or afternoon around his interests and hobbies. Is he a sports fanatic or a trivia buff? Would he rather spend the day at the beach or on a golf course? Whatever you do, make it about him.
  2. Have the kids jot down their favorite things about dad in a journal. The younger ones can draw pictures, and the older ones can write about what makes dad the best in the world. You can even add family pictures. Then, present the journal to him on Father’s Day.
  3. Make him his favorite meal or take him out to his favorite restaurant.
  4. Make a gift basket. Include a book by his favorite author, some delicious snacks, crossword puzzles, and whatever else you think he might like.
  5. Breakfast in bed isn’t just for moms! Have the kids help make breakfast and enjoy it together in bed.
  6. For the handyman, build something together. A bird feeder or raised garden bed, or maybe start a more ambitious project he can work on with the kids throughout the summer.
  7. Give him the gift of free time. We could all use a little down-time, and those hard working dads are no exception.

Here at Eagle Service Company, we salute dads everywhere for all you do in your personal and family endeavors.  And if there’s anything we can to make things a little more comfortable and convenient for you around the house, be sure to let us know:  now or any time at all.