Home Improvement Archives - PECO Heating & Cooling

How to Conduct a DIY Home Electrical Safety Check

Electrical issues are more than an inconvenience – they can be a serious hazard. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, approximately 24,000 home fires are caused by electrical problems annually. Sadly, many electrical fires can be prevented by conducting occasional safety checks. Electrical safety checks are quick, easy, and can potentially save you from property damage or injury. In some cases, they may even save a life! Understanding the common causes of house fires, as well as warning signs of electrical trouble, can help prevent an electrical fire in your home.

Here’s a list of nine things homeowners should make a point to check each year:

The Breaker Panel

Inspect your breaker panel and the surrounding area. You should make sure that there are at least 3 feet of clear space around it. Open the panel and examine the breakers. Do you see any signs of rust, corrosion, or rodents? Flip each of the circuit breakers on and off, noting any that are sticking or not working properly. If you often experience tripped breakers, this could be an indication that your system is being overloaded.

GFCI Testing

All outlets that are at risk of being exposed to water (near a sink, for example) should be ground fault circuit interrupt (GFCI) protected. These outlets can wear out after a while, so it’s essential to test them to make sure they’re still functioning properly. If you look at the face of a GFCI outlet, you’ll notice two rectangular buttons that say “Test” and “Reset.” To test your GFCI outlet, press the test button with your finger. You should hear a snapping sound that trips the outlet and cuts off power to the plug connections.

To confirm that the power is off, you can plug in a lamp or radio into the outlet. If the outlet is working as it should, the device you plugged in shouldn’t turn on. You can also check to see if the outlet is supplying voltage by using a voltage tester or multimeter. There are also GFCI outlet testers, which can alert you whether the outlet is wired correctly. Once you’ve confirmed that the safety function is working, you can press the reset button to restore power to the outlet.  

Test Your Outlets

Like your GFCI outlets, regular outlets should also be tested. One of the best ways to check them is by using a receptacle tester, which is also called a “cube” or “block” tester. This device plugs directly into the outlet and indicates whether it detects common wiring issues. These tools are handy and affordable, so we recommend them for any home toolkit!

Exposed Wiring

Many attics and basements have exposed wiring, which can become worn and cracked over time. You should inspect all visible wiring to make sure it’s free of cracks or splits. Rodents love to chew on wires, so you should also keep an eye out for areas of rodent damage. While you’re there, it’s also a good idea to check for other signs of rodents, such as nests or scat. Any damaged wiring should be replaced. If you’ve found evidence of rodents, this should also be dealt with as soon as possible.

Extension Cords

All extension cords should be checked for cuts, cracks, exposed wiring, or other types of damage that can occur during home projects. You should also check that any cords used for power tools are within their amperage rating.

Exterior Outlets

Exterior outlets are subject to the elements, so it’s important to make sure that they’re sealed and free from animal intrusion. All exterior outlets should be GFCI protected, so you’ll want to test them to make sure they’re working correctly. If something has been plugged into one of your exterior outlets for an extended period of time, check to make sure it’s not keeping the weather cover propped open. If you do use your outlet for an extended period, you should have an outlet with a cover that has access holes. This will allow the cover to completely close while you’re using it.

Test Your Outlets for Tightness

Outlets, like most things, can wear out over time. If you notice plugs sitting loosely in an outlet, or they slip out enough to expose the plug pin, the outlet should be replaced. If the outlet itself is loose in the electrical box, it can be quickly fixed using plastic outlet shims.

Voltage Testing

If you’ve noticed that your electrical devices seem to be working irregularly when plugged into a particular outlet, it’s a good idea to test the voltage. The issue could be caused by a loose wire, but a voltage test will help you determine if it’s a more extensive problem. Check the power to that outlet using a voltmeter or multimeter. Standard residential outlets should read between 110 and 130 volts. If you see readings outside of that range, it may be time to call in the professionals!

Use Your Other Senses

Beyond visual inspections, it’s also essential to take note of other things you notice using your sense of smell, sound, and touch. Place your hand on outlets and light switches. Do you notice excessive heat? It’s normal for dimmer switches to get warm when the lights are on, but they shouldn’t be uncomfortable to touch. Do you notice any acrid smells when you plug in a device or flip a switch? Do you hear popping or cracking noises near an outlet or switch? These are all signs that there’s something wrong with the switch or outlet. It could be that it’s defective or worn, or it could be a sign that there’s a problem with the wiring. In any case, it’s best to address the issue as soon as possible

I Found a Problem – Now What?

So, you’ve gone through your home and found some issues that need to be addressed. Now what? In some cases, you may need to replace a switch in the wall. In other cases, you may need to have areas of your home re-wired. At best, electrical work can be complicated. At worst, it can cause damage to your home or put you at risk for injury. Many times, electrical work is best left to the professionals. We offer a variety of electrical repair services, from minor outlet and switch replacements to major repairs and remodels. We hold both mechanical and electrical licensees and offer a 1-year parts and labor warranty on all repairs. If you’ve discovered an electrical issue or don’t feel comfortable conducting an electrical safety check on your own, contact us today at (864) 639-2424 to schedule a service call!

Debunking Common Home Maintenance Myths

As any homeowner knows, keeping your house well-maintained is a lot of work! There’s always something that needs to be done around a home, but how do you know if you’re doing the task correctly or as often as you should? To make matters more confusing, home maintenance misconceptions abound through word of mouth. We’ve compiled – and debunked – some of the most common home maintenance myths you may have come across.

Myth: Cutting Your Grass Shorter Will Allow You to Mow Less Frequently

Mowing the lawn is many people’s least favorite chore. While it may be tempting to cut your grass short so that you don’t need to do it as often, this can have consequences on your lawn. Grass that’s cut too short is more susceptible to weeds, disease, heat damage, and drought. Each species of grass has an ideal mowing height that will keep it lush and strengthen the root system. Once you’ve identified your lawn’s perfect height, it’s best to follow the one-third rule. Set your mower blade to your grass species’ recommended height and mow it often enough that you cut off no more than the top third of the grass.

Myth: Turn Off Your AC When You’re Not Home to Save Energy

It seems like you would save energy by turning off your air conditioner when you’re away from home, right? Unfortunately, that’s not the case. An AC unit that has been turned off for hours has to work much harder to cool down your home. Any money or energy you may have saved during the day is negated by the extra energy it uses once it’s restarted. Also, your AC doesn’t just cool the air – it also dehumidifies it. Turning it off completely allows the humidity in your home to climb, which can lead to mold growth or insect infestations. Instead of turning your AC off entirely, it’s best to turn your thermostat down by 5 – 10 degrees.

Myth: Gutters Only Need to be Cleaned in the Fall

Gutters are incredibly important for directing the flow of rainwater away from your roof, walls, foundation, and landscape. While the fall season certainly brings an increase of leaves and tree branches, debris can accumulate in your gutters throughout the year. Your gutters can’t do their job when they’re clogged, which puts your home at risk for interior or exterior water damage. Clogged gutters can also attract uninvited guests, like rodents, insects, and mold. To keep your gutters clear and working properly, it’s best to clean them in the spring and fall.

Myth: More Insulation = a Better Insulated Home

At some point, many homeowners will need to add more insulation to their homes. While you may think more insulation will result in a better insulated home, you don’t want to go overboard with it. Too much insulation can cause more problems than it solves. For example, putting too many layers of insulation in your attic can cause it to compress, making it less effective. Excessive attic insulation can also block your home’s eaves or soffit vents, which can lead to heat and moisture buildup.

Myth: Test Your Smoke Alarm Using the Test Button

Ask most people how to test their smoke alarm, and their answer will probably be to push the test button. This is a potentially dangerous misconception. When you push the test button, you’re only testing whether the batteries and sound are working. While these are both important, it doesn’t let you know if your smoke detector is actually able to detect smoke. To test that, you can hole a freshly burned out match under it. If the smoke detector is working the way it should, the alarm should sound. As a safety precaution, you should check your smoke detectors twice a year. Since dead batteries account for most smoke alarm failures, it’s also a good idea to replace the batteries once or twice a year as well.

Myth: Your Carpet is Dry if it Feels Dry

Cleaning up water from leaks or flooding is never pleasant, but it becomes particularly troublesome when it involves carpeting. Wet carpet doesn’t always appear wet, and to make matters worse, water can seep down into the lower layers of your carpet and into the subfloor. Even if your carpet feels dry, your floor could be at risk for mold, rot, or other serious issues.

Myth: You Bathroom Exhaust Fan Doesn’t Need Maintenance

Cleaning out your bathroom’s exhaust fan may not sound like a thrilling chore, but it’s one that should be on everyone’s to-do list. All the heat and humidity that accumulates in bathrooms make them the perfect breeding ground for mildew and mold. Your bathroom fan prevents mold and mildew growth – but it can only do that when it’s working properly. Over time, your fan collects dust and grime, which can gunk up the motor. It’s best to clean the grille and vacuum out the mechanical parts every 6 – 12 months to keep it well-maintained.

Myth: Furnace Filters Only Need to Be Replaced Once a Season

Your furnace filter plays a vital role in preventing contaminants from reaching the living areas in your home. Indoor air contains a lot of pollutants – as many as five times as much as what you’d find outdoors. Some homeowners try to save money by only replacing their filters once a season, but in most cases, they should be replaced more often. If you live in an area that’s dry and dusty, have allergies, or own pets, it’s recommended that you replace them once a month. For homes that are in more humid, lush locations, you can generally get by with replacing them every three months. Wondering how you can tell it’s time to replace your filter? Hold it up to the light. If you can’t see light shining through, it’s time for a replacement!

Myth: You Can Add Chemicals to Your Pool Any Time of Day

If you have a pool, you may have heard that it doesn’t matter what time of day you add chemicals. Many pool chemicals, like chlorine, are sensitive to the sun’s UV rays. Adding chemicals during the day can reduce their effectiveness and even cause them to dissipate. For this reason, it’s best to add pool chemicals in the evening.

Myth: You Should Always Remove Asbestos from Your Home

If you live in a house that was built before 1980, there’s a good chance you have asbestos somewhere in your home. Asbestos was once a widely used building material because of its insulating and fire-resistant properties. It was banned in 1978 because the fibers were found to cause several health conditions. However, if you have asbestos in your home, there’s no need to panic or have it removed. According to the EPA, asbestos is only a health concern if it becomes “friable.” Friable means easily crumbled by hand, which releases the fibers into the air. If the asbestos in your home isn’t damaged and you don’t plan on disturbing it, there’s no need to worry about having it removed. The EPA recommends that any asbestos in good condition should be left alone.

Myth: Your Dishwasher is Self-cleaning

It may seem like your dishwasher gets a deep cleaning with every use, but that’s unfortunately not the case. Periodic cleanings are recommended to keep it running well and prevent odors from accumulating. Begin by removing any debris or the tub and filter, so that it can drain properly. Place a couple of cups of vinegar in a clean bowl near the center of the bottom rack and run your dishwasher on its normal cycle without detergent. This will clean and deodorize your washer. If there are leftover mineral deposits, you can use a dishwasher cleaner like Affresh to remove them.

Myth: I Have to Do My Home Maintenance Myself

Home maintenance often gets pushed on the wayside, but it’s essential to protecting your investment and preventing more expensive repairs down the road. If you don’t have the time, tools, or skill set to do your own home maintenance, never fear – call your Home Service Heroes at PECO! We’re a licensed home contractor offering high-quality home repair and maintenance. We’re fully insured and have decades of experience in everything from minor repairs to remodeling. Give us a call today at (864) 639-2424 or contact us online!

5 Great Tasks To Keep Your Home At Its Best!

It is important to provide your home with routine care and maintenance so that it stays at its very best, but it is very common for homeowners to neglect doing so. Here are a few highly effective – yet simple – home maintenance tasks that will greatly benefit you and your home.

Cleaning the inside of your dryer and dryer vent

According to the US Fire Administration, 2900 fires are caused by built-up lint inside of a dryer every year, which has led to over $35 million in property damage. If excess amounts of lint have built up, it can be ignited from things like gas burners or electric heating elements, which will cause the flames to travel through the lint-lined exhaust vent. These fires can cause extensive damage and easily destroy a home, thankfully, they can be easily prevented. Simply check the exhaust vent as well as the inside of your dryer’s cabinet and clean it on a routine basis to prevent these disasters from occurring.  Many older dryer vents are not up to the new code – metal pipe – they are the plastic flexible lines, those must be replaced.

Cleaning faucet aerators

In case you weren’t aware, a faucet aerator is typically found at the tip of most indoor water faucets and serves multiple purposes. It helps to conserve water and energy costs, reduces faucet noise, prevents splashing, and provides slight filtration of debris. If the water from a faucet has recently started to flow unevenly or slower than normal, then it may be time to clean your faucet aerator.

Cleaning the aerator is a simple process that can help increase the quality and pressure of the water that comes from your faucet. To do this, unscrew and disassemble the aerator, and use something like an old toothbrush to scrub any debris or buildup. While you are there, it is also a good idea to do a quick scrub on the inside of the neck of the faucet, as it is very common for buildup to also occur there. After reassembling, you should find that the quality of the flow of water should be greatly increased.

Cleaning the oven door

Aside from just looking gross, spills and remnants of old food/liquids can cause pretty significant smoke and smell issues. Cleaning the big spills and messes as they happen is a great way to keep your oven looking good, but if you really want to make it shine it is sometimes necessary to go a bit further. To do this, you are going to want to remove the front panel on your oven by removing the screws, if you don’t know where to find the screws consult the manual or do a quick search online to find your model. Once you have it removed, simply take a nylon scrubber and degreaser and get to work! Once you are done, reattach the door and admire the pristine look of your oven.

Cleaning your bath Fan

Your bath fan is very important for the health and comfortability in your bathroom by helping air circulate. However, it’s very easy for it to become downright filthy, thanks to the combination of dust, moisture, and debris that constantly passes through. Cleaning your bath fan is an easy task that provides great benefits.

Before you start, make sure that the switch for the fan is turned off, and then squeeze the springs on the fan’s cover to remove it. Once you have taken off the cover, the next step is to remove the actual fan. First, remove whatever is holding the fan in place, which is most likely a screw. If there is no screw to be found, then there is probably a tab that is holding the fan in place, remove this tab and then push out the metal fan housing. Make sure to watch where you stand though, because there is a high chance that debris will fall out! Now that the fan is out, it’s time to clean. Use a damp rag or moist wipes to clean off all the buildup and use a Q-tip to clean any of the hard to reach sections. Now that your fan and cover are squeaky clean, just reverse the previous steps to reattach your fan and enjoy the benefits!

If you are still disappointed by the lack of performance after cleaning the fan, then you may need a new fan altogether, but that is a topic for another time.


Many older homes have the fans exhaust into the attic and not outside.  The code is to vent them to the outside with either a soffit or roof vent.  If you aren’t sure if yours does, go into the attic, find the fan box and there should be a duct that leads outside.  This is the new code standard…same for exhaust for a vent hood.

Cleaning your trash can

When we say cleaning the trash can, we don’t just mean routinely taking out the trash, although we certainly hope you are doing that as well! Even if you use big hefty trash bags, that doesn’t mean the actual trash can is free from exposure to germs. Sometimes your bag leaks or tears and some garbage manages to make its way to the bottom of the bin, which can cause lingering smells or stains to stay. Thankfully, the solution to this is extremely simple. All you have to do is spray some disinfectant into the bottom of the trashcan each time you take out the trash, take the time once a month to wash it out with some bleach and hot water, and boom, you’re all done.

Keeping your home at its best is something that all homeowners want to do, but a lot of them simply don’t know the best ways to do it. The professionals at PECO Heating & Cooling are your local experts when it comes to home maintenance. Be sure to give our team a call at (864)-639-2424 to learn more!

5 Common Household Emergencies Faced by Homeowners

It is a simple fact that every homeowner is going to experience some issues, some of which are more common than you may think. Here is a list of the top 5 household emergencies faced by homeowners and what you can do to deal with them!

Household Emergencies

1 – Getting Locked Out of Your Home

Ever lock your doors and walk out of your home, only to realize that you left your keys inside? The fact that this is the number one issue means that most of us have been there, but that doesn’t make it any less embarrassing or irritating when it does happen. Here are a few tips for when you find yourself in this unfortunate situation so that you don’t have to resort to breaking into your own home.

–          Having a spare key:

Okay, so this one is kind of obvious, but it still should be noted that having a spare key is one of the best methods available. If you have a friend or family member that you can trust, it is a great idea to let them have a spare key so that you have another way to get into your home if you lock yourself out. It also means that you have someone else who can get into your home if you need something done, but can’t be there to do it yourself. If you don’t want to give someone else a key, then you can always buy a key hider.

–          Call a locksmith:

It is best to avoid breaking the locks on your home if you ever lock yourself out. It will cost you money and time to get it fixed, and it will be way more of a hassle than simply waiting for a local locksmith to come to your home. Find out who your local locksmith is and give them a call, they will be able to get you back into your home and save you far more time and money than breaking in would.

2 – Losing Power

Something that is practically inevitable for everyone is experiencing a power outage. Nine times out of ten it is out of your control, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t things you can do. Be sure to remember to follow these steps in order to help protect you and your wallet, before you head over to the breaker panel.

–          Shut the fridge:

The simple solutions are often the most beneficial. Simply shutting the fridge or keeping it closed will help keep the interior cold, which will help the food inside from spoiling. This will help you avoid having to buy new groceries and can help you from getting potential food poisoning.

–          Unplug your electronics:

Power surges can seriously damage or outright destroy any electronics that are still connected to an outlet. Make sure you unplug any important devices to help prevent the need for buying a replacement. Alternatively, you may want to consider buying a UPS (unlimited power supply, not the shipping service). These are extension cord-like devices that will regulate the power supply to any connected devices in order to prevent damage from things like power surges, which means you don’t have to worry about unplugging them. Some even store power to help keep your devices on even after a loss of power.

–          Get a backup generator:

Having a backup generator is a great way to avoid completely losing power, and is generally just a good idea to have, especially in the event of an emergency. There are different types of generators, and the best choice will depend on your home as well as your needs. Be sure to give our team a call to determine the best solution as well and to get one of the best installation services you can find.

3 – Frozen Pipes

There are few things worse than a lack of hot water, especially when the weather is starting to cool down. Frozen pipes also run the risk of bursting, which can result in serious damage to a home that could require repairs that could cost thousands of dollars.

–          Turn off the faucet

If the stream of water from a faucet has recently stopped, or even slowed down to a trickle, then this could be an indication that you have a frozen pipe that is ready to burst. You can help prevent further damage by turning off the faucet and calling a professional to come over as soon as possible.

–          Turn up the heat

In the event that a frozen pipe is behind a wall, turn up the heat in your home or use something like a hair dryer in order to help the pipe thaw.

4 – Overflowing Toilet

The panic caused by an overflowing toilet is something that is hard to beat, but it is important to keep a clear head and act fast if you want to avoid more serious damage.

–          Stop the flow of water:

When most people notice the water start to overflow, their first instinct is to grab some towels, but what they should be doing is stopping the flow of water. You can do this by taking the lid off the toilet, pressing down on the flapper valve, and lifting the float in order to cut off the supply of water.

–          Grab a plunger:

A tool as old as the toilet itself… okay not really, but it is one of the oldest and most effective tools to have available. If there is a plunger nearby then it is time to act. If there is enough water to cover the plunger then your task is simple, put the device in the toilet and plunge until the suspected blockage is gone.

5 – Heating or AC goes out

Aside from making your home uncomfortable, excessive heat or cold can also be damaging to your health. Here are a few things you can do to keep your HVAC system running smoothly and what you should do if it breaks.

–          Keep your system maintained:

Just like most other machines, the best way to avoid your HVAC system breaking down is to provide it with proper care and maintenance. If you have noticed a dip in performance, strange noises, or the filters are particularly dirty, then this could indicate that your HVAC system needs some maintenance.

–          Call a professional:

Fixing your heating and cooling system is not a do-it-yourself task. Improper care could result in more damage which will cost you even more time and money. If your system breaks down, then your best bet is to call a professional and have them take a look as soon as possible.

At PECO Heating & Cooling, we stand by our work, which is why we offer a 1-year parts and labor warranty on all our repairs. We have a team that offers service 24/7, and we offer same or next day services for all your heating and cooling, or electrical needs. Call us at (864)-639-2424 to schedule your appointment as soon as possible!

Insulation for South Carolina Homes

One of the most common questions we get from customers is, “How can I save money on my energy bill?”. There are many different ways to save money on your energy bill. One of the most common answers we give is to regularly change your HVAC filter and have your HVAC system cleaned by a professional. With routine filter changes, your heating and cooling system will run more efficiently and use less energy. Making sure your home is properly insulated is another way you can reduce your energy bill – sometimes dramatically! In addition, your HVAC system will work better at keeping your home cool in the summertime and warm in the winter.

Another way to save money on your energy bill is to check out your insulation. If your attic is under-insulated, or the existing insulation is water stained, compressed, or moldy, then insulating your attic can make a huge difference in your comfort and cost savings! Attics that aren’t properly insulated leak air through the cracks. This makes your home drafty in winter and hot in the summertime. Proper insulation will solve both of these problems and lower your energy bill year-round.

Insulation for South Carolina Homes

Rely on Professionals for Insulation Installation

Our team can add blown-in insulation to the attic safely and cleanly. Are all your Christmas decorations and childhood memories sitting on bare plywood in your attic? You may need to find somewhere to store these goods for a short while. The bare plywood is not helping insulate your home – in fact, it’s letting the air right through! PECO offers attic and below floor insulation to fully insulate the attic or crawlspace of your home. You’ll be noticing a difference in your energy bill for years to come! Call us at (864) 639-2424 today to discuss how we can save you money with professional insulation!

What is Encapsulation?

In South Carolina, where we have warm and humid weather many months of the year, crawl spaces in homes are especially vulnerable to moisture damage. Older residences may have vented, rather than sealed, spaces that allow moisture in, threatening the stability and safety of the structure. Open spaces can allow in rodents, toxins, and moisture. All of these can cause damage to your structure and health. Here are some issues that encapsulation can fix:

  • Mold and other toxins
  • Rodents and pests getting into the house
  • Foundation sinking
  • Bowing
  • Radon gas leaking into the house from the soil
  • Excess moisture

encapsulation

Why Your Home Needs Encapsulation

Even if you aren’t experiencing these problems, or don’t realize that you are, finishing your foundation is always a smart investment in your home. The many benefits include:

  • Energy Savings – stopping the flow of air into/out of the home from the foundation will increase the efficiency of your heating and cooling system
  • Better Indoor Air Quality – air from the crawl space leaks into your home through ducts, floors, and partitions. Closing off the flow will mean mold, radon gas, and other toxins cannot leak in
  • Pest Management – closing off your foundation seals your home against rodents and other pests

Home Improvement is Easy with PECO

Encapsulation with PECO is straightforward and simple. First, one of our experienced home improvement professionals will inspect your space. We will make a plan for installing an effective encapsulation system for your home, whether that includes a Sump pump, dehumidifier, seal vents, or more. We also have to inspect your space for existing damage. The most serious damage includes sinking, settling, or mold remediation issues. All of these will need to be fixed by other experts – mold remediation companies and structural contractors, before we complete the encapsulation. The entire area will need to be cleaned thoroughly and any damage repaired before we begin work, including removing debris and rocks. We will create a plan based on the unique needs of your home. Our professional team will then install a vapor barrier to prevent moisture from entering the crawl space and insulation to reduce the outside air that gets in.

If you have any questions regarding encapsulation, we would be happy to answer them! Call PECO today at (864) 639-242 to discuss encapsulation for your home.