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Tag Archive | "maintenance"

Top tasks for your fall home maintenance checklist


Gutter cleaning should be part of your fall home maintenance checklist. Courtesy: HomeAdvisor

Gutter cleaning should be part of your fall home maintenance checklist. Courtesy: HomeAdvisor

(StatePoint)  Keeping your home in shape may not top your daily to-do list, but completing certain small seasonal tasks can save you money, time and the need to complete larger, more expensive projects in the future.

“Investing a small amount for preventative fall home maintenance can save thousands in the long run,” Leah Ingram, personal finance expert, says.

Don’t know where to start? The following checklist from HomeAdvisor can help homeowners prepare their homes for the cooler months:

• Clean gutters: During the year, debris such as leaves and twigs can pile in your gutter. Cleaning them once a year prevents problems such as water damage, roof damage and flooding.

•Service your furnace: A well-maintained furnace can help save on heating costs and prevent the need for repairs. Before temperatures drop, schedule your furnace to be serviced.

• Install weather stripping: As fuel and electricity costs continue to rise, keeping your home warm without wasting money and energy is important. Weather stripping your doors and windows can make a big impact.

• Winterize sprinklers: Removing all the water that’s in the lines, pipes, fittings, valves, sprinklers and pumps will prevent your equipment from freezing, expanding and potentially breaking. Hire a professional to attach an air compressor to the system to blow out the water from the lines, pipes and other parts. The service is inexpensive and a professional will know the proper amount of volume and pressure to use to ensure no water is left in the system.

• Clean your chimney: Chimney maintenance is not optional. Deadly fires, carbon monoxide poisoning and expensive chimney repairs are serious consequences associated with neglected chimney maintenance. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends all fireplaces, chimneys, flues and venting systems be inspected at least once a year by a pro.

• Flush your water heater: Generally speaking, water heaters are fairly reliable, so they usually aren’t top of mind. But flushing your water heater periodically can prevent leaks and promote efficiency.

“Hiring a professional for fall maintenance tasks like these is a great idea,” Ingram says. “Use a resource such as Cost Guide to research the average price of a project in your zip code before hiring a pro.”

To use Cost Guide and find a professional, visit www.HomeAdvisor.com.

 

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Save time and money with easy DIY auto maintenance tips


CAR-DIY-auto-maintenance1

(BPT) – Vehicles are a big investment for families – usually the second highest valued item in a household after the home itself. While the purchase price for cars, trucks and SUVs keeps going up, the cost of maintenance is holding steady or even dropping for most vehicles. Better materials, sophisticated computers and other advances increase reliability and allow less frequent oil changes, tune-ups and other service.

Owners can do some of the work themselves to lower maintenance costs even further. Anyone interested in saving money and increasing pride of ownership by doing their own work can spend just a few minutes and accomplish the following four maintenance tasks easily, without any expensive tools or training.

* Cabin air filter replacement – The air conditioner is cranked up on those hot summer days. The cabin air filter keeps the air blowing through the heat and air conditioning ventilation system clean, and it should be replaced at least once a year. But in areas of the country where there is a lot of pollen or dust – from dirt roads, construction projects or even arid conditions – it’s a good idea to replace this filter more frequently.

“Cabin air filters are usually easy to install, but installation will vary between cars,” says Tom Taylor, engineer and vice president of RockAuto.com, an online auto parts retailer. “Some filters are behind the glove box, and others are accessed through the cowl panel below the windshield.”

Check your owner’s manual to see if there is information on replacing the cabin air filter, or visit RockAuto.com to find installation instructions provided by filter manufacturers.

* Headlamps and tail lights – When a headlamp or tail light burns out, you may be surprised to discover how easy it is to replace these bulbs. For most vehicles, installation of headlamps is from the engine compartment. Just unplug the electrical connector on the back of the bulb, unscrew the large plastic ring that holds the bulb in place and pull the bulb out. Because headlamps are usually halogen lights, be sure to wear gloves or use a cloth to avoid getting fingerprints on the bulb. Oils from your hands can shorten the life of the bulb.

Tail lights are similar – usually you can gain access through the trunk of the vehicle underneath the trim material.

CAR-DIY-Auto-maintenance2* Wiper blades – Trying to see the road through a streaky window is almost as bad as trying to see the road in a heavy rain shower. The quality of the blade purchased will determine how long the blade will last and how well it will perform in clearing the windshield of rain.

“It is now easy to choose wipers that are better than what originally came on the car,” Taylor says. “There are longer-lasting blades, winter blades that resist freezing to the windshield and beam-type wiper arms that hold the blade more firmly on the glass.”

Higher quality blades tend to cost more, but drivers will appreciate the durability and clarity they provide.-RockAuto.com is promoting a wiper wholesaler closeout for top-quality blades at extremely low prices. Once you have your blades purchased, just follow the included directions on how to install them.

* Engine air filter – These air filters keep the oxygen supplied to the engine’s combustion chambers free of dirt and other contaminants. Clean air is needed to optimize the engine’s performance and extend its life. Manufacturers recommend replacing an engine air filter every 12,000 miles driven.- However, it will also depend on the car’s model and how dusty the environment is. This filter is typically located under the hood in a large, rectangular, plastic air filter housing. Remove the four bolts or clips around the edges and then lift the dirty filter out.

These maintenance tasks are ongoing, but they become even easier with repetition. DIYers save money and time when they handle them at home.

 

 

 

Posted in Auto Life, FeaturedComments Off

Simple steps so save gas without driving less


Fuel economy is directly related to vehicle care and driving behavior.

Fuel economy is directly related to vehicle care and driving behavior.

(NAPS)—Just because gas prices go up, that doesn’t mean your driving has to go down.

You can’t control the price of gas but you can control how much you use with some simple and inexpensive vehicle maintenance.

Save Gas And Cash

Consider these simple steps to save gas without driving less:

• Keep your car properly tuned to improve gas mileage by an average of 4 percent.

• Keep tires properly inflated and improve gas mileage by 3 percent.

• Replace dirty or clogged air filters on older vehicles to improve gas mileage by as much as 10 percent.

• Change oil regularly and gain another mile per gallon.

• Check the gas cap. Damaged, loose or missing gas caps let the gas just vaporize into the air.

• Observe the speed limit. Gas mileage decreases rapidly above 60 mph.

• Avoid excessive idling. Idling gets zero miles per gallon. Warming up the vehicle for one or two minutes is sufficient.

• Avoid quick starts and stops. Aggressive driving can lower gas mileage by 33 percent on the highway and 5 percent in the city.

• Consolidate trips. Several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much gas as one longer multipurpose trip.

• Don’t haul unneeded items in the trunk. An extra 100 pounds in the trunk reduces fuel economy by up to 2 percent.

“Some motorists think they are saving money when they put off needed vehicle maintenance,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “What they don’t realize is that neglecting routine maintenance can end up costing a lot more. Keeping your car running efficiently and modifying your driving behavior is the best way to improve your vehicle’s fuel economy and keep more money in your pocket. Fuel consumption is directly related to vehicle care and driver behavior and both can have a significant impact on how much motorists pay at the pump.”

The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers.

Learn More

For a free copy of the council’s “Car Care Guide” or for further information, visit www.carcare.org.

 

 

 

 

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Weekly fishing tip


From the Michigan DNR

Gear maintenance an important task
With the colder months quickly approaching, many anglers may be getting ready to store their gear for the season. There are a few maintenance tips you should follow so your quality gear is ready to be used next season.
1. The biggest tip is to always make sure all of your gear is clean and completely dry before storing it. Start by cleaning everything (rods, reels and lines) in fresh water with soap or the manufacturer’s recommended solution to remove any materials that may have become attached or embedded.
2. Now is a great time to inspect your gear for any damage and make repairs, or prepare for replacements.
3. Don’t store any of your gear in direct sunlight and don’t store any of your gear where heat and/or moisture might build up.
4. Have waders? Air them out completely and don’t forget to hang them upside down for the months they are out of use.
Check out the DNR’s weekly fishing tip, obtained from various angling resources throughout the country. Go to www.michigan.gov/dnr and click on fishing, then weekly fishing tip.

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Water tower back online


The maintenance on the Cedar Springs water tower is complete, and the tower and all fire hydrants are back online.
The tower went offline in August. During that time, the Cedar Springs DPW department encountered a few hiccups, including a boil water advisory when pressure dropped as a result of a power outage; a false anonymous tip to the DEQ that the blasting dust emanating from the top of the tower was toxic; a site visit by the DEQ that resulted in a citation for air quality despite the fact they followed the DEQ’s suggestions; and a complaint from a woman whose laundry turned brown.
The boil water advisory affected several businesses on the west side of town. All samples came back negative for bacteria.
The false tip to the DEQ Air Quality Division said that lead dust was being emitted from the tower. DPW supervisor Roger Belknap visited the work site August 26 and asked the crew to stop blasting activities until a bonnet could be put in place, which they did. The crew chief also explained that the blasting media they use encapsulates the coatings, pulling it downward, and the dust coming from the top was not hazardous. The DEQ arrived on scene on August 30 to investigate, and suggested the bonnet, which was already ordered, and on August 31 the DEQ Hazardous Waste division took samples, which all came back negative for lead and chrome. They also visited on September 7 and on September 19, issued a violation notice of air quality. The notice said they were blast cleaning without proper enclosure, requiring an air use permit to install, and that fallout adversely impacted neighboring properties. They noted that Utility Services Company, contracted by the city, had installed and commenced operation of equipment without a permit. The city was invited to send them a response if they felt this was inaccurate.
Belknap sent the DEQ a response outlining all the events that had taken place and the city’s response to the situation. The city then got a letter back from the DEQ saying the situation had been resolved.
“I think it was a matter of procedure, of protocol on their end (to issue the violation),” said Belknap. He noted that they had the proper permits for drinking water, but not air. “They are putting the contractors on notice that they need to abide by permits if doing work in Michigan,” he said. “Hopefully the process will help other water tower projects go through the same scrutiny as other projects when it comes to sandblasting.”
Opal Waller complained both the Post (see page 5) and the city about her water turning her laundry brown. Belknap explained that with the water tower offline and no hydrant flushings, a slug of iron may have built up and then been released. “All communities have problems with brown water from time to time,” he said.  He noted that the water in Cedar Springs is naturally hard and has a high iron content.

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Seven vehicle maintenance tips


Professional preventative maintenance can help keep your car on the road to safety and savings.

(NAPS)—A good way to drive down the cost of keeping your car is to have a professional check it regularly, at least seven ways:
1.    Check Tires. Tire wear is a good indicator of how the steering and suspension are performing. Excessive edge, center or shoulder wear suggest other maintenance is needed. Check air pressure on all tires, including the spare, as incorrect tire pressure can cause tires to wear prematurely. Tread and sidewall areas should be inspected for uneven or irregular wear and replaced if worn or damaged.
2.    Check Brakes. Pads, shoes, rotors, calipers, fittings, brake hardware and parking brake should be checked. If your brakes squeal, it may be time for replacements.
3.    Check Fluid Levels. Engine oil should be changed or replenished and all vehicle fluids and lubricants checked and changed at factory-recommended intervals. Low or dirty fluids can damage your engine.
4.    Check Engine Belts, Ho­ses and Fuel Filter. In today’s vehicles, a single drive belt provides power to many engine accessories and hoses carry vital fluids under high pressure. Prevent a breakdown or serious engine damage by replacing belts and hoses at recommended intervals.
5.    Change Air Filter. The air filter is designed to protect your engine from airborne contaminants. Poor airflow to the engine inhibits performance and can mean greater fuel consumption. A new air filter lets clean, unrestricted air flow into the engine for proper performance and longer car life.
6.    Check Battery. Whether for starting up in the morning or running the air-conditioning and other accessories, the battery is critical. Corroded terminals or a bulging or cracked case are signs it’s been subjected to extreme conditions. Each battery has a limited “life” to it. Test yours and replace it if necessary.
7.    Check Wiper Blades. Worn wiper blades can affect your ability to see the road and vehicles in front of you. For greater visibility and smooth operation, Mopar all-season wiper blades are built for the long haul and feature a strong, all-metal superstructure for durable, reliable performance. An innovative wear indicator gradually turns from black to green to yellow as the blades wear. Mopar is Chrysler Group LLC’s service, parts and customer-care brand.
According to Mopar’s Jim Sassorossi, “Performing preventative maintenance is critical for maintaining the safety and performance of your vehicle. Our technicians have the expertise, tools and factory-backed parts for these vehicles. And they work on them every single day.”
Learn More
More information and a complete list of accessories and performance parts are at www.mopar.com.

Posted in Auto LifeComments Off

Oil filter 101:


Choosing the right filter for your vehicle

oil change(ARA) – In today’s economy it’s more important than ever to take care of your vehicle. Engine maintenance is critical when extending the life of your vehicle. There is a lot of information available about the differences in oils and other maintenance components, but what no one explains is what to look for in an oil filter.

The oil filter serves as the lifeblood for your engine. It is important because it cleans the oil and is capable of filtering high volumes of oil with relatively low restriction. How do you know which filter to choose and what are the differences between styles? Here is some information to help you decide.

The shell is the outside casing you see when the filter is installed. It keeps your filter safe during the wear and tear on your vehicle, and protects it from punctures.

The media is the filtering component. Depending on the level of filter you chose, media can be described as a maze of cellulose, synthetics and/or microfibers that remove the harmful debris from your engine oil.

The core is the part of the filter that helps the filter keep its shape and prevents it from collapsing under extreme pressure. It is inserted inside of the filter media and can be made of a variety of materials.

The base plate is the threaded component of the oil filter. In addition to providing the threaded attachment for the filter, it directs the oil flow through the filter.

The gasket is the rubber ring that seals the filter to the engine’s oil filter base. This gasket is typically made of flexible rubber.

Now that you understand the components of an oil filter, it’s easy to see that not all oil filters are the same. There are some key differences in the quality of oil filter you are purchasing.

Most “economy” filters are very basic and last for a limited time in comparison to the higher end filters. These filters use media of natural wood fibers to sort out the debris in your oil.

The “better” filter contains media that is a blend of fibers. The majority of the fibers are cellulose with a minimal blend of synthetic fibers that enhance the media strength and efficiency performance.

The “best” or premium level of filters use micro-glass filter technology. Advanced micro-glass oil filters are designed to extend the life of vehicle and equipment. In addition to superior filtration media, the other internal and structural components are of higher quality materials, making for easier installation and removal, as they are much less prone to crush while installing or removing. These oil filters can extend change intervals up to 12,000 miles.

Vehicles still under warranty should follow the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended filter change intervals.

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Get your auto maintenance in gear


CAR-Getyourautomain(ARA) – In a tough economy, it’s only natural to look for ways to cut corners. But trimming auto maintenance expenses isn’t worth the risk. Taking proper care of your car steers you on the road to safe driving. It can help to keep more cash in your pocket too.

“Even the most cautious drivers are putting themselves in danger if they’re not driving a well-maintained vehicle,” says Charles Valinotti, senior vice president with QBE Regional Insurance. “No one wants to be in a less-than-road-worthy vehicle during an emergency.”

Most drivers are diligent about addressing major mechanical issues, especially since today’s cars have automatic alerts when a problem surfaces. However, many people overlook the basics – like tires – which can quickly outlive their usefulness. In recent surveys, The Rubber Manufacturers Association reported that nearly two out of three drivers do not know how to tell if their tires are bald and only 9 percent of vehicles have four properly inflated tires.

Valinotti warns that all too often windshield wipers go unnoticed until it is too late. “It’s usually after a nighttime auto accident where there’s bad weather and little visibility, when a driver realizes that they haven’t replaced their wiper blades in years,” he says. Holding off on an oil change or spark plug replacement is not worth compromising safety either.

In addition to the peace of mind that comes from having reliable tires, windshield wipers, brakes, suspension and steering systems, there are other benefits from proper car maintenance:

  • Save yourself from expensive car repairs after an accident that could’ve been prevented.
  • Extend your vehicle’s life span and avoiding replacement costs for big-ticket auto parts. Consult your owner’s manual to determine how often you should perform certain services on your car. If you take a long road trip or have greater wear and tear on your car, think of making a visit to your auto mechanic ahead of schedule.
  • Save money at the pump. If you drive a car with a poorly tuned engine or tires that aren’t properly inflated, you could find yourself filling up the gas tank more often. Fixing a serious maintenance problem, such as a faulty oxygen sensor, can improve mileage by as much as 40 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environment Protection Agency.
  • Score some discounts on your auto insurance policy. “We encourage our customers to drive safely and invest in ongoing auto maintenance,” Valinotti says. “Our safe driver discount can take up to 10 percent off your premium.” Approximately 85 percent of vehicles insured by General Casualty, a QBE Regional Insurance company, get that reward. The safe driver discount is applied automatically and keeps rolling over each year you are accident or violation free.

In between scheduled maintenance checks with a mechanic, drivers should do routine checks on their own, too. It’s as simple as referring to the owner’s manual for instructions. A little more diligence with car care goes a long way.
Courtesy of ARAcontent

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