Have you loved your water heater lately?

Your water heater is the faithful friend which gives you the warm showers or baths you enjoy after a long day, along with helping to wash your dishes and clothes.  When was the last time you showed it some love?

Depending upon your water quality, water heaters tend to be fairly reliable, quiet servants.  However, like anything mechanical, they require some attention.  Most importantly, water is corrosive to the water heater lining and provides a constant source of sediments to fill up the bottom.  The detrimental effects of water will vary by location, and even by house.  Some houses will experience more sediment than others, and even the temperature setting will effect the life of the water heater.

Several things you can do to help your water heater are: 1) maintain a moderate temperature setting so as to maintain adequate hot water supply, but not hot enough to scald skin (most people can comfortably use the lower temperature settings on a well-functioning water heater);  2) drain some water out of the bottom once or twice a year to help remove sediment, which might accumulate; 3) periodically replace the anode rod which helps to minimize internal corrosion.  (See anode rod pictures on the main "Services" page.)   There are many good resources online to help you with these suggestions; however, if you need some help familiarizing yourself with your water heater operation, please feel free to give me a call. 

Remember, even your water heater needs a little love from time to time... just like the rest of us.

Transitioning into winter... things to consider

With the change of seasons from summer to fall, and fall to winter, Harried Happy Homeowners are faced with many challenges and demands on their time.  There are many newsletters and advice pieces found in the mail from your electric & gas companies, as well as local HVAC contractors, yard companies and the like.  Take a few minutes to review their checks lists.   Along with their tips,  here are a few other items you might consider for your to-do list:

  • Small critters (e.g. mice, squirrels, etc.) are seeking warmth and shelter for the winter.  It's important to watch for signs of entry, such a gnawing marks, scratches and holes where critters are trying to get inside the home.  Once they're inside, the challenges of removal get tougher; so, head them off by preventing their gaining access.  If you need help stopping them, let me know by using the "Contact" page.
  • Insects are also seeking a warm place to hide from the cold, especially spiders working their way indoors.  One way to prevent most insects from migrating into your cozy home is to treat the exterior areas by setting up a zone, much like a buffer around your home.  Spreading a dry insecticide in a band, 2-3 feet wide around the entire house, in the yard and flower beds will help.  Spraying a long-lasting (3-6 months) liquid home pest control on the foundation, around windows, and thresholds will help finish creating the buffer zone.
  • Rebalance the air flow in your home.  Reduce the temperature variances and cold spots.  In most homes with more than one level (split level, 2-story, walk-out ranches, or even a traditional ranch with basements), you can improve comfort and energy savings by adjusting the duct dampers.  By reducing the air flow to upper levels, and increasing flow in the lower levels it's easy to warm the home from the bottom up during the winter.  (The reverse is true in the summer; cool the house from the top down.)  This usually can be easily accomplished by adjusting the main trunk line dampers in the ductwork on the forced-air furnace/AC system just off the plenum.   If you need help locating them, or adjusting them, shoot me a note using the "Contact" page.
  • Save money... don't throw away good air filters.  Most routine maintenance lists suggest to change your furnace filters on a regular schedule.  Checking them is always a good idea.  However, don't change them just because it's been 30, 60 or 90 days... whatever your schedule is.  Most filters don't start becoming efficient until they are 10% or more filled.  Dirt attracts dirt and the efficiency improves gradually.  If you can  hold your filter up to the light and see a lot of light coming through, it may not be all that dirty.  Mark the date on the filter and put it back in for another 30 days, or longer.  On the other hand, if the filter is dark grey, or blocks out most of the light, or is even bent from the air struggling to get through it, by all means change it.  ...and, don't forget to change your whole-house humidifier pad each year to avoid over-use and potential health hazards.

This is not meant to be an all-inclusive listing; instead, it might help you start thinking about other issues which often get overlooked.  If you have any questions, or need help assessing a heating & air-conditioning comfort problem, or anything else, please drop me a note using the "Contact" page on the website.

Stay warm and snuggle by the fire.  The Harried Happy Homeowner

In the beginning...


Who is the "Harried Happy Homeowner"?   If you're reading this, it's probably you; and, you likely own a home needing some minor repairs.  But, I digress.

Our father, Brad, was probably not the first "Harried Happy Homeowner".  However, he always enjoyed welcoming each of his four sons into the "Harried Happy Homeowner's Club" when we bought our first home.  I became a member of the "club" when my wife and I bought a 1921 bungalow in Des Moines, IA.  I was 23 years old and we had our first child, a son, with us; our first daughter was also born to us while living in that house.

We loved that old house, with it's solid gold oak wood work and floors, large brick fireplace, wide front porch, large sash windows, a cute little breakfast nook in the kitchen, and a huge tree in the front yard... like a Norman Rockwell painting.  Not to forget, it also had crumbling mortar between the bricks, hollow exterior walls without insulation, a gravity furnace from the Dark Ages (no blower fan), no air conditioning, peeling paint on the lap siding, and more cockroaches than you can imagine...  did I say we loved that old house?  With an FHA loan, it was only $750 down!

And, my father said, "Welcome to the Harried Happy Homeowners Club!"

Many thanks to "whosewoods design", our web designer

As we prepare to hit the big red button to launch our new website, hmsomaha.com, a big "thank you!" is in order to Barbara Woodbury at whosewoodsdesign.com for her wonderful support and patience.  She literally provided a turn-key service which allowed me to focus on what I do best, being a handyman, instead of taking time from my business to learn the web design process from the ground up.  She also created our logo which has just the "right feel" I wanted for our company.  After creating the site, she held the reins until I was ready to assume full control.  If you need someone to help get your website off the launch pad, please reach out to Barbara.

Thank you, Barbara!   ...the Harried Happy Homeowner