Archive for the ‘appliances’ category

Quick Tip #30 – Clothes Dryer Venting – A Hidden Danger

September 8th, 2014

Each year many home fires are caused by improperly maintained clothes dryers. The dryer and vent pipes can overheat and cause a fire. Vents plugged with lint will compound the problem. Don’t let your home become the next casualty.

First, always follow the manufacturer’s requirements for cleaning the dryer lint screen. On most dryers, the screen is easy to find and clean between each load; just pull the screen from your dryer and remove the lint.

Next, make sure the ducting that vents dryer discharge to the outdoors is properly installed. Many dryer manufacturers and local municipalities require a metal vent duct, not a flexible vinyl vent. The metal duct should have as few bends as possible and be routed outside with as short a duct as possible.

M061C - Clothes Dryer Venting - Poor Conditions_300dpi

 

The problem with flexible vinyl and flexible metal ducts is that their rough interior traps lint. Also, these ducts are often installed with excessive loops and tight bends that trap lint.

When in doubt, contact the manufacturer of your dryer for specific requirements. A person who cleans chimneys may also clean and maintain dryer exhaust ducts and will know local code requirements.

Quick Tip #10 – Reviving a “Dead” Disposal

April 22nd, 2014

Garbage Disposal Wrench, ResetDead garbage disposal? Usually, it’s easy to bring this gadget back to life. Take a look at the illustration and follow these simple steps.

Does the disposal “hum” when the switch is on? If not, most likely the problem is a tripped overload in the disposal. Turn the wall switch off. Look under the disposal and locate the reset switch — a little button recessed within a hole toward the side of the housing. Push the button, and the disposal should at least hum when you hit the wall switch. It may also come up to speed.

If the disposal hums but the blades don’t spin, you can use a service wrench to loosen up the motor. You’ll probably find the disposal’s service wrench stored in a small plastic sleeve below the sink. It will look like a hex wrench with two angled ends. If you can’t find your wrench, purchase one (they’re inexpensive) at the hardware store.

With the power off (no hum), place the small hex wrench in the center hole at the bottom of the disposal. Twist the wrench back and forth to free the impellers. Remove the wrench and hit the switch — yeah!

By Tom Feiza, Mr. Fix-It

Energy Efficiency Improvements – Where to Start?

August 21st, 2010

QUESTION

I have some funds to do energy efficiency improvements to my old (1950’s) home, but I don’t know where to start. The home is well maintained, but has had no energy improvements. It seems that every contractor has the best product, and there are many claims about huge energy savings. The government rebates and tax credits just seem to complicate the issue. Where do I start?

ANSWER

There is no simple answer. I can outline where to logically start, but I think your home deserves an evaluation and some scientific testing before you start spending.

I suggest you contact Focus on Energy. Their goal is to provide information, resources and financial incentives to help improve energy efficiency in Wisconsin. The state program is well known throughout the country.

I used the Focus on Energy program called “Wisconsin Energy Star Home Program” when I built a new home. They gave advice on construction details, and worked with the builder on energy efficiency. The results were fantastic.

For existing homes like yours, they offer a service to scientifically evaluate your home and the systems in your home at a very reasonable price. Their consultants can test for leaks, review your equipment, and use a computer model to identify the best areas to invest.

Overall, you should look at the easy energy improvements and your old equipment. If you have a furnace that is over 25 years old, put that at the top of the list. If the attic insulation has never been improved over the original three to six inches, that should be high on the list as well. Insulating the top of the basement wall, using low-flow plumbing fixtures, fluorescent lamps, and a set-back thermostat are simple changes with a great payback.

An evaluation by the Focus on Energy is the best first step. They also offer a new interactive website at Ask Focus on Energy. They will answer your questions and refer you to a large database of answers. If you have a unique question, one of the experts can respond.

Clothes Dryer Will Not Dry

February 8th, 2010

Question:

We have an electric dryer and our issue is excessive drying time due to 100 feet of elbows and 4-inch vent ductwork. The contractor who installed our radon system told us to install a booster fan, but the HVAC contractor told us to shorten the dryer duct and add 6-inch vent ductwork instead. This would result in a total of 23 vs 100 feet. What should we do?

Answer:

I like the idea of shortening the dryer vent duct and limiting bends. Increasing the size will also help if the connector through the wall is 6-inches. Make sure to use rigid, smooth duct and connections.

Adding a booster fan should be the last resort solution – it is just one more thing to maintain.