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There is an art form to building a fire in a wood burning insert. The first step is to make sure that the chimney has been inspected in the past twelve months. If you has no obstructions and is well maintained the first order of business is to open the damper. This is normally found on the front of the stove, above the glass. Pull the damper handle to you and this will put it in the open position. Take newspaper and make about 10 balls of paper about the size of a softball. Place kindling wood on top of the paper. The kindling wood should no bigger than 1 ¼” in diameter…. Now light the paper. To get the fire started, you must have draw up the chimney. The chimney will be warmed by the burning paper and continue with the kindling slowly catching fire creating a good draw up the chimney. If smoke would happen to come into the room crack a window to reverse the air flow. Once The fire is going well add the logs to the fire and close the door to the insert.
As the weather turns to cold days and nights we look for ways to add supplemental heating. Many people use kerosene heaters though I rarely recommend them. If you want to use this type of heater make sure that the room has proper ventilation. When refueling your heater, make sure that it has cooled down and that the process takes place outside. You should only use crystal clear K 1 kerosene. Any other type of fuel is asking for big problems including an explosion in your home. The wick on the heater should be checked every few weeks during the heating season. If the wick is found to be dirty clean or replace it. Kerosene heaters do have an open flame, it should never be used in a room where there are flammable solvents, aerosol sprays, gasoline or any type of oil.
All indications point to a very cold winter this year. It has been a while since we experienced severe cold in many parts of the country. If you have lived in your home for a while you may remember trouble spots developed when it got real cold. If you are new to your home you should look for trouble spots and take action. You should look for areas of copper pipe that can be subject to the cold temperatures and may freeze and split. These areas include pipes in your attic, crawl spaces or in the garage. I have had one length of pipe that was in the attic and was not in the wall cavity and therefore was not insulated. Every time it got down to zero in froze. If you find copper pipe like; the pipe should be insulated to protect it from freezing. The hardware store sells foam sleeves that can slide over the pipe and keep the water in the pipe from freezing. This little project can save you from water damage.
It is that time of year when the Christmas lights go up on the house. If you hang your lights along the gutters or off the fascia here is some important information. Hanging lights on the gutter is fine but make sure they are firmly attached. There are plastic gutter clips that fit onto the gutter or onto the roof shingles which will securely fasten the lights making the wind ineffective at causing problems for your display. If you are to hang lights along the wood trim or fascia never use nails, cup hooks, or staple to secure the wire. Those fasteners will eventually wear away the insulation of the wire and cause a short in the system. I recommend a plastic command adhesive hook or an insulated wire hanger
Carpet can be expensive so keeping it well maintained is important. Here are a couple tips for you to use around your house. Make sure to remove any spots and stains quickly from the carpet by blotting with a cotton cloth. Always repair any rips, holes or unraveling in the carpet. Make sure the carpet is always tight if not have it tightened down. Use carpet mats by entry ways to diminish dirt and grime to the surface of the carpet. Avoid getting the carpet soaking wet. Make sure to vacuum the carpet at least once a week, more often when children are in the house. Have the carpets cleaned twice a year to remover grit and ground in dirt which shortens the life of the carpet. Another good idea is to keep pets out of the carpeted areas of your home.
Saving energy this time of year is important and so is being comfortable in your home. Many times we heat the air with our furnace but never benefit from the heated air. The heated air seeps out of the duct work and never makes it to the room or is blown out of the registers only to be trapped behind drapes. Both of these issues can be solved to a degree and will help you be more comfortable in your home. Check the floor registers and if they are positioned to blow air up behind the drapes or furniture, buy some clear register deflectors. These have magnets on them and are place over the register. The deflectors then will direct the heated air out into the room. Inspect your furnace duct work and see if all the seams are good and tight. If there are gaps at the seams use aluminum tape to seal the joints. This will help get more of the heated air to the rooms above. The last thing is to change your furnace filter. A clogged furnace filter impedes the heated are from getting to the rooms and will make your furnace work harder.