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Maintenance Tips & How to Videos

Smoke Detectors

Test Smoke Detectors once a month. Press the test button or test with approved smoke detector smoke spray. Replace Battery if Fails, contact us if new batteries don’t solve the problem. It is important to replace the batteries annually. Most units requires one 9 volt battery. If a battery is bad typically it will cause the unit to chirp (This usually happens at 3:00 in the morning) Changes the batteries annually will prevent the unwanted wakeup call and of course potentially save your life in the event of a fire. Have a fire escape plan in place and practice it with all the occupants of the home.

Heating and Cooling System

Thermostat
Maintenance Reminders and tips for efficient operation
Energy Star says Keep it Clean – A dirty air filter can increase your energy costs and lead to early equipment failure. Clean or change the air filter in your heating and cooling system monthly. Some filters only need to be changed every 3 months. Dirt and neglect are the #1 causes of system failure.
MGE Recommended Thermostat Setting for efficiency:
Recommended thermostat settings when you are home are 68˚ in the winter or 78˚ in the summer. When you’re sleeping or not at home, set it at 65˚ in the winter or 85˚ in the summer.

Whole House Air Filters
Change Every three months (per lease), or more often if unit has ran more than average. If you notice dust accumulating faster, most likely its time to switch the filter. Replacing the filter regularly not only keeps the systems running peak and efficient, but helps keep the home clean longer between dustings. Date each filter when you install so you will know when its time to change. I like to use a sharpie. “Replace Filter xx/xx/20xx” See video below.

No Heat or Air Conditioning – Not Performing well
(KCPL Thermostats will run fan but cut AC during peak times. Contact KCPL.)
Check Breakers. Check Thermostat is in correct position and set temp is below/above room temp. If electronic thermostat check/replace batteries. Check that all furnace covers and in proper place. Check that switch located near furnace is in on position (looks like light switch on many units). Make sure all utilities are paid on time and account is in good standing. Filter is clean.

Outside AC UNIT
In order to prevent damage to outside unit do not set anything on top or sides of unit and keep vegetation cut and groomed at least 3 feet surrounding unit.
Water Leaking Near Furnace
Could be a clogged coil drain pipe. If pipe is free to detach, see if there is a clog, clear and reinstall. If it will not disconnect try tapping the line several times to see if it dislodges the clog.

Water and Plumbing

Main Water Shut Off In house –In case of an emergency turn valve clockwise to shut off. You may also shut off water at water meter in yard if main shut off in house wont function.

Localized water shut off Each Faucet and Toilet is equipped with its own shut off valve. Most likely you will not need to utilize shut off valves, however in the event a toilet would clog and appear that it may overflow you can quickly reach down and turn the valve to right to shut water off to fixture. When toilets clog typically the water level will drop gradually over time. If the water level is too high to insert a plunger simply wait 15-20 minutes for the water level to drop enough to effectively insert plunger and dislodge and clear the blockage.

Toilet is running Occasionally a toilet may have a tendency to “run” this can happen if the drain flapper leaks or if the float needs adjusted. Open the tank lid to toilet and carefully sit on floor where it is out of the way. Check to see if water is spilling over the center black tube, if so the float is either stuck or out of adjustment. If so a simple adjustment is needed. Toilets adjust different ways but look for either an adjustment screw or a float ball. Turn in small increments to adjust water level down. Flush and refill to see corrected adjustments. If water level is good most likely it’s leaking from the flapper. Turn off water and Flush. Lift up the rubber flapper and clean the surface of the flapper and the porcelain where they meet with a rag and soapy water to remove any hard water build up that may be creating the leak. Turn toilet on and fill tank to see if leak was corrected. If not contact us for repair.

Water is only warm – Little or No Hot Water Gas Hot Water Heater, Check to make sure the dial is not on “Vacation or Low” setting. Turn dial to right and set to the manufactures recommended setting. Turning the heater above this setting is less efficient and can damage the valve seals in the plumbing fixtures.
In the event gas service is disrupted to the home it may be necessary to relight the pilot light on the water heater. Follow the manufactures directions and lighting procedure on the base of the water heater. (back to top)

Garbage Disposal In the event the disposal becomes clogged and will not spin, turn off the disposal immediately. First turn off the circuit breaker in the circuit panel in the basement and unplug the unit. Confirm it is off by attempting to turn it on again then turn switch back off. Inspect with light to see if something fell into disposal that doesn’t belong there. NEVER, EVER insert your unprotected hand into the garbage disposal…unless, of course, you want to lose it! If you must use your hand to remove objects and debris from the garbage disposal, unplug the unit or turn off the appropriate circuit breaker. Always wear safety gloves to protect your hand from the garbage disposal’s sharp blades. Only after confirming power is off use wooden spoon handle, chop sticks, or needle nose pliers to remove foreign object or excess food. If there is no material in the disposal but the blades have become jammed, use the manual disposal tool or hex Allen wrench to dislodge the blades and free them. Simply insert tool from bottom side of disposal “under sink” and rotate clockwise until resistance frees up. Turn breaker on, plug unit in, rinse with water and turn electric switch to disposal on until disposal empties itself. Always run water before and after disposal is in use. If disposal makes no noise when switching on, check that a breaker is not tripped in main CB Panel. Also there is a device breaker located on the bottom of the unit next to hex tool insert. Simply press the reset button to reset. Check that a blockage didn’t cause the trip.
Foods to avoid putting in or down the Garbage Disposal
The kitchen garbage disposal is useful for getting rid of a variety of food scraps, however, many foods can actually damage your disposal or render it useless.

  • Fibrous foods: The strings of celery, artichokes, asparagus, lettuce, corn husks, carrots, onion skins and potato peels can wrap around the blades, preventing proper operation of the motor.
  • Grease, fats and oils: Greasy foods will distribute a film over the blades, diminishing their effectiveness. Eventually, the grease will begin to decay, causing an unpleasant odor in the kitchen. Pouring grease into a garbage disposal can result in clogged drains when the grease solidifies.
  • Pasta, rice, potatoes and beans: Even small particles of these foods will swell with water to form a paste-like substance, and eventually clog the trap or further down the pipe.
  • The most important rule of thumb: Don’t Put Anything in the Garbage Disposal That Is Not Biodegradable Food. A garbage disposal is not a trash can; it’s for food scraps only. Nonfood items can damage both blades and the motor. When in doubt, throw it out! Keep it clean – Run Regular dish soap in it regularly. Use Ice Cubes, or freeze ice cubes with vinegar in them for more stubborn smells.

    Exterior Spigots
    Unscrew the hose and drain each time to preserve hose and prevent damage. In the winter install a Foam Faucet Cover to protect against freezing and save energy.

    Electrical

    Circuit Breaker Box No Lights or power in part of the home? Could be a tripped breaker. If a circuit breaker is to trip, first unplug any device that may of caused the overload then locate the tripped breaker in the box. (It should be slightly out of line with rest of CBs) Slide the breaker hard left then back hard right into its active state.

    If that didn’t fix your issue, it could be a tripped GFCI Outlet. These can be a little tricky at times to track down, because often addition outlets without the trip/reset button are actually tied to a protected outlet that can be in same room or different room. Typical places to look for them are bathrooms, kitchen, garages, and basements. Look for the master outlet that has the buttons and press Test then Reset. This usually corrects the issue but sometimes it could take a couple clicks. (There Could be multiple GFCI outlets in the home, start with the one nearest the power outage-back facing bathrooms have been known to share a circuit)