Hello Utah Valley Moms! We feel privileged be able to do monthly guest blog posts on this blog. We are an Orem-based General Contractor with experience in everything from tiny remodels, to whole home construction, and everything in between. Our combined 30 years of experience in Utah’s Construction Industry have taught us a thing or two about home maintenance and we are happy to share a few tips with you today. Below are questions that you and readers on our own blog have submitted to be answered by our two experienced and qualified owners, Chris Jensen and Aaron Schauers. Enjoy!

Question: How do you know if you have a broken sprinkler pipe? And where it is located without tearing up the whole yard?

Answer: A broken sprinkler pipe will always manifest its location one way or another. How it reveals itself depends on a host of factors such as soil percolation rates, surrounding slope or plantings, type of break, volume of water being discharged at the break point, etc. Most often a line break shows up by way of a “bubbling” mud hole. Sometimes a breakage will erupt almost like a geyser—most commonly associated with a broken head. In any case, it’s important to monitor your system closely and address sprinkler leaks right away. The water loss, in many instances, can destroy the surrounding landscaping or worse, find its way into your basement. Sprinkler maintenance and repairs are relatively inexpensive; however the costs of related secondary damage from an unchecked system can skyrocket rapidly.

Question: How often should I change my furnace filter?

Answer:  For optimal performance on your furnace, you want to use the 30 day filters as they allow for best air flow.  However, these filters are only recommended if you are sure to be diligent in remembering to replace them monthly.  For most people, the 90 day filters are the best choice as they only need to be swapped out 4 times a year. It’s easy to be reminded to change the filter with each change of season. The tightly pleated heppa type filters are not recommended, unless someone living in the home has allergies or other respiratory complications, as they drastically reduce air flow. If your home has Central Air you will need to stay on top of your replacement intervals, according to your filter type, year round as your furnace blower is also used when the AC is operating.

Question: My gas bill always shoots up during the winter. What can we do to lower our gas bill in the winter months?

Answer: You would be surprised how much savings can be achieved by simply lowering your heat 2-3 degrees at night without noticing a measurable difference in comfort. Take care to ensure that all doors and windows are tightly closed during the months you are running your furnace.  We have a more in depth blog post with more detailed information regarding simple steps you can take to reduce your utility bills.

Question: Last winter, a lot of pipes froze in Utah County. What should we do to prevent this from happening to us this winter?

Answer: Disconnect all exterior hose bibs from your home, keep your garage door closed to trap in heat, on those super cold nights open your cabinet doors to circulate warm air into your cupboards, and never turn your heat all the way off when you leave for a trip or are gone for the day.  If temperatures are getting really cold (daytime highs less than 25 degrees w/ teen or single digit overnight lows) it is a good idea to turn your faucets to a slow steady drip. The small movement of water is typically enough to keep the line from freezing. For a more invasive but long-term corrective action approach, you will want to evaluate the insulation and air gaps surrounding any water pipes near exterior walls of the home and ensure that all is properly insulated and sealed.

Question: What are some cheap ways to add curb appeal to my home?

Answer: There is a myriad of inexpensive and easy ways to add beautiful curb appeal to your home. You can replace the hardware on your door, replace your mailbox, add new street numbers, paint your front door, remove or trim back over grown plantings, add shutters, carriage hardware to the garage door, etc. Here’s another one of our blog posts that can give you more ideas on some great ways to add curb appeal to your home.

Question: I’ve heard rumors that dry clean carpet procedures can actually damage carpet. Is this true?

Answer: Yes. In our combined 30 years of experience in home maintenance, we repeatedly see problems arise from homeowners using dry chemical type carpet cleaning. Instead of extracting the filth from your flooring, companies that do use this treatment will first spray your carpet with chemicals in your carpet, then buff the carpet with towel like pads to try to get dirt out. In reality, this process smears the dirt around, frays the fibers, decomposes the glued backing, and overall reduces the lifetime of your carpet. The best (and less expensive) alternative is to get your carpets steam cleaned. This technique will safely REMOVE dirt from your carpet and is much cleaner, faster, and effective. Here’s a picture of a rental property that initially had a chemical-dry cleaning done. You can see that it looks horrible as it always does, so we had to arrange for a steam cleaner come in after and actually clean the filth rather than just distribute the dirt all over the carpet.


Question: How do I locate a stud in my wall?

Answer: Studs are usually placed in 16 inch intervals, so once you find one, it’s pretty easy to find the rest. Start in a corner or by taking off the cover plate on an electrical outlet to determine which side of it the stud is on and measure across the wall in 16 inch increments. You can also pick up an electronic stud finder from your local hardware store for around $10 – a handy and useful gadget to have in your tool stock.

Question: What do I do when paint is spilled on carpet?

Answer: If you have paint spill on the carpet, start by cutting a piece cut off of a cardboard box. Use the edges of the cardboard to corral and scoop up the pool of paint. Keep doing this until all the liquid is gone. Then, saturate the spill with clean water and scoop it up with large spoon. Keep pouring water while scraping across the surface of the carpet with the spoon then a wet rag. Re-wet and towel up as necessary until the water is no longer discolored by the paint. You can also use a wet/dry shop vac. Be sure to remove the internal dry filter before extracting the water. Keep applying water to the affected area and continue sucking it up with the shop vac. If you get at it immediately after the spill, you will have a high likelihood of being able to save your carpet. You’ll probably want to rent a carpet cleaner to follow up with the spill. If the paint has dried and is only a small amount it can be removed with a solvent such as goof off or Oops. It is important to test a small inconspicuous spot first to see if the solvent will discolor the carpet.


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