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Electric Heat Pump Benefits

Electric Heat Pump Benefits

Heat pumps are pretty neat as they offer an alternative to running your air conditioner. If your home needs moderate heating or cooling a heat pump is a great alternative because it moves heat from a cool space to warm space, which makes the cool space cooler and the warm space warmer. During the heating season, heat pumps move heat from the cool outdoors into your warm house and during the cooling season, heat pumps move heat from your cool house into the warm outdoors. Because they move heat rather than generate heat, heat pumps can provide equivalent space conditioning at as little as one quarter of the cost of operating conventional heating or cooling appliances.

On average you save $1,000-$2,000 annually according to energy reports. On top of those savings heat pumps come equipped with filter systems so bacteria spores don’t have an opportunity to settle in your home. Heat pumps are extremely efficient in brand new constructions homes so definitely check out McKee Homes to find your next home with the electric heat pump already installed! To see this electric heat pump feature as well as read about all of our other energy-efficient features click here.

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Maintaining Your Septic System

When you think about the maintenance of the systems in your home your first thoughts are probably HVAC, electrical and plumbing. However, one overlooked and undervalued system in your home is actually outside your home, the septic system. As with all the systems in your home, if you properly maintain your septic system you can avoid costly repairs.

First, understanding how a septic system works will help you maintain it. The wastewater from your home leaves through a pipe and goes to the septic tank. The waste separates into solid waste (sludge) that sinks to the bottom and oil and grease (scum) rises to the top. There are bacteria in the septic tank that helps to breakdown the sludge. The wastewater then exits the septic tank and goes into the drainage field. The wastewater is released into the soil which removes harmful bacteria, viruses and nutrients.

So one thing you have to watch is what you put down your drains (that goes into your septic tank). Everything that goes down your drains should be biodegradable and septic safe. Flushing things like dental floss, feminine products, paper towels, coffee grounds and other kitchen and bathroom products can clog the tank and drain field. Also, household chemicals, paint, oils and grease can kill the good bacteria in your septic tank. If you have a garbage disposal, you will want to use it sparingly as it will increase the accumulation of sludge and scum.

Another thing to be aware of when you have a septic system is how much water you are using. Per the EPA, the average single-home family uses 70 gallons of indoor water per person per day. Leaking faucets and running toilets can waste as much as 200 gallons per day. Faucet aerators and high efficiency toilets and showerheads can help reduce excess water usage. Many people like the convenience of washing all their laundry in one day, but with a septic system you need to give your tank time to recover. So it’s recommended to spread your washing, otherwise you risk flooding your drainage field.

Knowing where your septic tank and drainage field are is also very important. You don’t’ want to put anything heavy like a shed, parked car or RV, cement or pool in this area as it can damage the tank and pipes as well as compromise the drainage field. Another thing that can damage your septic system are large trees and shrubs. Roots, especially aggressive roots that come with Willows, can damage pipes and the tank.

Having your tank pumped regularly is part of proper maintenance. Professionals typically charge between $200-$300 for this service, however, it can vary by region. Keep in mind that if they have to dig to find your septic tank that will incur additional fees. When your tank is pumped they should also inspect the tank to make sure everything is in good working condition. The frequency of pumpings varies between owners. No matter the size of your family, if you have a garbage disposal it is recommended that you pump your system annually. If you are a family of four with no garbage disposal, it’s recommended every 2-3 years. If you are a family of two with no garbage disposal, it’s recommended every 4-5 years.

Every few months using a septic tank system treatment, like Rid-X®, by pouring into your toilet can add the bacteria necessary to keep your septic tank performing optimally. For those of you who like homemade treatments, you can pour a liter of spoiled buttermilk down the toilet every few months, as it too is a great source of bacteria. If you notice anything that seems off with your septic system, it is best to contact a professional immediately to address any issues as early as possible.

While this system doesn’t need constant supervision, remembering these key things will help prolong the life of your septic system.

Sources: http://www.epa.gov/owm/septic/pubs/homeowner_guide_long.pdf; http://www.wikihow.com/Care-for-a-Septic-System

What causes drywall cracks, nail pops and screw pops?

Inevitably, at some point in time all homes develop cracks in the drywall, nail and screw pops as well as caulk separation. So what causes drywall screw pops, cracks, and nail pops and will it ever stop? The two main reasons these happen are due to temperature fluctuation and structural settling.

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As the seasons change so do the temperatures inside and outside the home. Depending on when your new home is completed, the inside temperatures between summer and winter can vary as much as 30+ degrees. So as you regulate the temperatures in your home, the materials expand and contract. Cooling the home causes materials to contract while heating the home causes the materials to expand. This will often show up in the form of cracks in drywall accompanied by nail and screw pops and caulk separation. Most of these drywall problems occur within the first 30 days from the time the temperature is regulated.

Here in North Carolina, the temperatures can vary from single digits in the winter to triple digits in the summer. Those major temperature changes contribute to the expanding and contracting of the materials as the outside materials are connected to the inside materials of your home.

The second factor is fairly simple. Your new house will settle. It takes a period of time for a house to settle completely. Usually, the majority of the settling will happen within the first year. The materials used to build your home will give a little here and there resulting in drywall cracks, nail and screw pops and caulk separation. If you are asking yourself, will it ever stop? It will lessen over time, but unfortunately it won’t go away entirely as homes never stop moving.

What can you do to help minimize these drywall cracks and nail and screw pops? Keeping the temperature regulated in your house is the most important way to minimize drywall problems. It’s best to keep the inside temperature somewhere between 60° and 80° F (15° and 27° C), to avoid temperature extremes inside the home.

While drywall cracks, nail and screw pops and cracked caulking are frustrating, it doesn’t mean that your home was poorly built. Repairing them is part of routine homeowner maintenance which will be covered in another article.

How To Maintain Your Home

When buying a new home it’s easy to get caught up in the financial obligations, but it’s important to remember the time and energy required to maintain your home. Just like changing the oil in your car or going to the dentist for cleanings, your home needs to be taken care of to avoid costly repairs down the road.

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Many maintenance items can easily be performed yourself. There are hundreds of videos and how-to guides only a mouse click away. Home improvement stores, like Lowes® and Home Depot®, often offer in-store educational workshops that you can take advantage of. However, if a maintenance items is too in-depth to complete yourself calling a licensed professional may be a good course of action.

Home upkeep can seem like a daunting undertaking, but creating a way to track what needs to be done may help lighten the load. There are many different calendars and spreadsheets for home maintenance available online that can help you stay organized. There is no golden rule on what tasks should be done when, so coming up with a schedule that works for your lifestyle is best.

McKee Homes has developed a Home Maintenance Guide that can help you with determining when and what items should be checked in your home.  McKee Homes offers 2-10 Home Buyers Warranties on all new home sales; they also offer a 2-10 Maintenance Manual as another resource for maintaining your home.

When you take the time and energy to sustain your home it can give you a sense of pride and accomplishment in the work you’ve done. That’s how the house you just bought becomes your home. Maintaining your home now will help keep your home happy and healthy for years to come.