You know the drill! You hear about a defective product being recalled and you silently hold your breath hoping it’s not something you’ve purchased or rely on. And, in most cases, you breathe a sigh of relief because you don’t have any connection to the product and never even purchased from the company that produced it.

But what about when a product recall does affect you or someone you love? Or when a product is recalled and, due to poor communication by the company, you keep using it; completely unaware of the hidden dangers.  The road to product recalls is winding and twisted. By becoming an educated consumer, and being aware of recalled products that can cause harm, you can keep both you and your family safe.

(more…)

With the holiday season just wrapping up, you’re probably still wondering what to do with all of the unwanted gifts you received. According to Finder.com, ““Some 61% of Americans surveyed admit to getting at least one unwanted gift over the holidays, totaling roughly 154 million American adults.” Unfortunately, Christmas gifts etiquette is not always followed by well-intentioned friends and family members. Truth be told, it’s often etiquette that goes out the window first, especially if your gift was purchased at the last minute. Unwanted gifts are a plague on humanity and, since you can’t vaporize them to oblivion, it can take some clever maneuvering to get rid of them while avoiding detection by the gift-giver.

 

Here are 5 ways to get rid of all of your unwanted gifts once and for all!

Image Credit: Pixabay

 

(more…)

The unforgiving winter months can wreak havoc on your home and, worst of all, cause your home energy bill to go through the roof. The good news is that you can take proactive measures to make sure your home is winterized efficiently and create a warm haven for your family. What does winterized mean to you? Here are 11 winterization tasks that will pay off big when you see your next energy bill!

(more…)

When Call Center Support is Non-Existant

Finally! You laid down some hard-earned cash for a new gadget you’ve had your eye on for a while and it just landed on your doorstep. Now it’s time to sit back and savor the moment as you gently unwrap it, skim the instruction manual and prepare to use it. But hold on a minute, right out of the box and it doesn’t work? As you scratch your head and simultaneously fumble for that now-very-important instruction manual, reality begins to set in. You’ve got a product that’s not working as expected. One last glance at the directions to find the call agents support number and you dial expecting help, but instead, you discover that it’s non-existent.

We’ve all been there before. Sitting on the other end of a customer support call that goes nowhere and leaves you even more frustrated than before. What can you do when call center best practice is lacking when you need help?

(more…)

How Brands and Retailers Can Improve Long-Term Customer Loyalty and Drive Revenue by Helping Homeowners Effectively Manage their Products

Though ultimately rewarding, home ownership is a daunting and stressful endeavor. NerdWallet’s Home Buyer Report found that nearly two-thirds of homeowners (65%) have experienced anxiety related to their home, with 75% of those people attributing their stress to unexpected home repair costs. Census Board statistics found that, on average, every home requires annual maintenance costs around 1-4% of the home’s value – and that number is likely to rise given the widespread adoption of tech-enabled home products.

(more…)

It doesn’t matter if you’ve lived in your home for one year or ten years, it can start to feel stale over time. Worst of all, the home you once loved can actually turn into something you hate. And since you can’t purchase a new home as often as you’d like, work with what you have and learn how to love your home again!

 

(more…)

As the cold months of winter begin to fade away, it’s time to set your sights on the arrival of spring and prepare for your annual spring clean up. Dating back more than 3,000 years, the concept of “spring cleaning” is rooted in Middle Eastern culture and is known as the shaking of the house. It is also an annual tradition in countless countries around the world including Greece, Egypt and the United States. As for the latter, a day in the life of an American housewife in 1864 is part of an exhibit at the Smithsonian Institute with a diary page that reads, “Swept and dusted sitting-room & kitchen 350 times. Filled lamps 362 times. Swept and dusted chamber & stairs 40 times.” A layer of soot covered every surface in homes back then due to a reliance on coal for heat and whale oil to illuminate lamps. The spring season was the perfect opportunity for people to engage in some deep house cleaning and welcome in the fresh air and warmer temperatures. Hence, “spring cleaning” was born!

Fast-forward to the year 2020 (where spring cleaning is an equal-opportunity chore!), winter is almost over and it’ll soon be time to prepare your home for the glorious spring season!

(more…)

Why it’s Important & 7 Often Overlooked Tasks

A home maintenance checklist can be different for every home, but there are core basics that every homeowner and renter alike need to be aware of.  Most of us remember to change the air filters, clean the gutters, and maybe even to change the fridge filters. But, there are also those often overlooked home maintenance items that are just as important. In fact, many of the most commonly overlooked home maintenance items can be the most dangerous if left undone. Every year tens of thousands of fires in the home are caused by dirty dryer ducts, lint filters, and chimneys, and thousands of people fall ill from food-born bacteria found in their dishwashers.  Regular home maintenance can also help you be prepared for the worst. Keeping up with items like smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and fire extinguishers can play a key role in protecting you, your family, and your home.

Here are 7 Often Overlooked Home Maintenance Tasks

  1. Deep Cleaning the Dryer Lint Filter
  2. Cleaning the Dryer Duct
  3. Cleaning the Chimney of a Wood Fire Burning Fire Place
  4. Changing the Furnace Filter
  5. Cleaning the Dishwasher Filter
  6. Replacing the Smoke Detector Batteries
  7. Testing the Fire Extinguisher

Deep Cleaning the Dryer Lint Filter

Emptying your lint trap after every dry cycle is basic maintenance for your clothes dryer and is absolutely essential in order to prevent your dryer from setting on fire–so if you don’t already do it, start now! Heck, start yesterday!

OK, so assuming you already know that you need to empty your lint trap regularly, let’s talk about how you can (and you should) take cleaning your dryer lint trap to a new level by scrubbing it once every 6 months.

Why do you need to deep clean your lint trap? Well, tiny particles of lint can get stuck in the filter screen, and even more importantly, if you use any fabric softener in your laundry, it will actually start to build up a greasy residue on the mesh of the filter that will prevent air from passing through. When this happens, your dryer becomes way less effective and you increase your risk of fire, too.

Cleaning your dryer lint filter is really easy to do, it just requires finding a product that will dissolve the greasy residue that is caught on the mesh. We’ll discuss some options below.

Click here to read more about Deep Cleaning the Dryer Lint Filter, including printable step-by-step instructions. 

 

Cleaning the Dryer Duct

Now, some of you might even be asking, “Wait! What is a dryer duct? Where is my dryer duct! What are you talking about!” and that’s fair enough. Everyone kind of knows that they need to empty their lint trap if they want to avoid a house fire. But for some reason, we hear a lot less about dryer ducts and the importance of cleaning those. This is weird because out of the thousands of dryer fires that occur every year in the U.S., a large portion of them are caused by clogged dryer ducts–not dryer filters. Dryer ducts get clogged with lint just like your lint trap does, and cleaning it out is a part of basic dryer maintenance.

Your dryer duct is the vent pipe or metal tube behind your dryer that leads to the exterior of the house. When your dryer is on, it pushes hot air out of the dryer, and sometimes lint gets pushed out right along with it. This leads to clogs and can be a real issue if you don’t keep on top of it.

So how often do you have to clean it? This is one of those tasks that really only has to be done when needed, and there are three easy ways to check if it’s needed:

  1. Open the duct and take a look to see if there is lint buildup
  2. Next time your dryer is running, go outside and look for the dryer vent. It looks like a plastic hose sticking out of the wall of your house, and it should have a plastic cover on it. If the dryer is running, the cover should be pushed open by the steady stream of air coming out of the vent. If the air stream is too weak to push the cover open, you need to clean your duct.
  3. Put in a load of wet clothes and see if they take longer than one cycle to dry.

To be safe, you should give your duct thorough cleanings every 6 months.

Read more about cleaning dryer ducts, including printable step-by-step instructions.  

Cleaning the Chimney of A Wood-Burning Fireplace

Wood-burning fireplaces are incredible and when properly maintained they can provide warmth and coziness during cold winter nights. However, when left neglected they can build up soot and create a potential disaster. It only takes a small amount of creosote buildup to create a deadly house fire. But what, you may ask, is creosote? Good question! Creosote is an extremely flammable substance that builds up inside your chimney due to burning wood. Depending on how often you use your fireplace and how often you clean it, the rate of creosote accumulation will vary. Different types of firewood also create different amounts of creosote when burned. For example, pine is a terrible choice for firewood because it can quickly cause creosote buildup in your chimney.

Keeping the chimney of your wood-burning fireplace regularly cleaned will help prevent any excess creosote from building up and causing a possible fire hazard. If you regularly use your fireplace but can’t seem to remember the last time you cleaned your chimney, then it’s probably overdue for a cleaning. In most instances, removing chimney soot is pretty simple and you should be able to clean it yourself. However, if there appears to be a heavy buildup of creosote, then you’ll have to call a professional to clean it.

Read more about cleaning a chimney of a wood burning fireplace, including printable step-by-step instructions.

 

Changing a Furnace Filter

Simply, changing your furnace filter is the most important thing you can do to keep your heat working at top efficiency, and it’s so easy that a 10 year old could do it.

(Not that we’re recommending this. Don’t make your 10 year-old change your furnace filter.)

Your furnace functions by sucking up the cold air from your house, heating it, and then pushing it back out. In other words, the entire functioning of your indoor heat is based on your furnace’s ability to move air around. If the furnace has to suck air through a blocked filter, you can imagine how much harder this process will be and how much less effective your furnace will run as a result.

Looking for info on changing your AC filter? Don’t sweat! In most cases, this is the same filter as your furnace filter, so the information is the same, but we created a separate guide here for all the info you need.

Read more about changing furnace filters, including printable step-by-step instructions.

Cleaning the Dishwasher Filter

There’s nothing worse than running a load of dishes to discover that they are still dirty at the end of the cycle. If your dishwasher is less efficient than normal–if it’s leaving food residue on dishes, or if the water looks dirty– it’s probably well past time to clean your dishwasher filter. Cleaning your filter will keep the food mess going down the drain properly so that it doesn’t wind up back on your dishes.

In terms of replacing your filter, most dishwasher filters will last a solid 5 years with regular maintenance. You don’t need to start thinking about replacing a filter until you can see noticeable wear and tear, or until cleaning the filter alone doesn’t get the dishwasher efficiency back to normal.

Read more about changing dishwasher filters, including printable step-by-step instructions.

Changing the Smoke Detector Batteries

Don’t bother changing your smoke detector batteries until you’ve tested your smoke detector. We’ve got a step-by-step of how to do that here.

Once you’ve read through that, it should be pretty obvious whether or not you should change your battery and why it’s important. But here’s a list of reasons just in case you need more motivation:

Read more about changing the smoke detector batteries including printable step-by-step instructions.

Testing the Fire Extinguisher

Well actually…you shouldn’t! Testing your fire extinguisher by shooting the product out can lower the internal pressure and render it totally useless in the case of a real fire–so don’t do it. When it comes to “testing” your fire extinguisher, all you can really do is inspect it and give it a couple  of turns to shake up the product, and this should be done once a month.

Inspecting your fire extinguisher can alert you to issues like if the content pressure of the canister is too low or too high, if the extinguisher has gotten damaged in any way, or if there is any build-up or clogging in the hose. If your extinguisher is located in a public place where lots of people (like high school students or angry customers) are able to mess with it, these inspections are absolutely crucial. Even if it’s located in an isolated place–checking the extinguisher’s pressure regularly and giving it a quick shake is still a very good idea.

 

Read more about testing the fire extinguishers including printable step-by-step instructions.

We also have helpful information on the real costs of home ownership as well as important tasks toward properly winterizing your home.

It’s those unexpected mishaps at home that are the most alarming. Most arrive unexpectedly and you, most likely, have no idea what to do about them once underway. A burst water pipe is just one of those things that can happen without warning and has the potential to inflict a great deal of damage unless dealt with swiftly and correctly. Unfortunately, most homeowners do not know how to fix a broken water pipe. Burst pipe costs can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars to fix. Burst pipes in winter are one of the most common homeowner’s woes in the colder months and are also the easiest to prevent. However, if you find yourself with a burst water pipe on your hands, there are steps you can take to limit the damage.

How To Fix

 

Turn Off Electric Main

Turn Off the Main Water Valve

*Pro-Tip – In most cases, a burst water pipe will be situated behind a wall. Depending on the material of the wall, whether something hard like brick or less-rigid like drywall, you might have to call in a professional to access it.

 

Image Credit: Canva

Drain the Pipes

Remove Standing Water

*Pro-Tip: Once the pooling water is absorbed and everything is dried, the electrical main can safely be turned back on.

 

Image Credit: Unsplash

Save Your Furniture and Personal Belongings

One of the most devastating aspects of a burst water pipe is the damage it can inflict within your home. Home decor, family mementos, and expensive furniture are just a few of the casualties that typically fall victim to unexpected flooding in the home. However, by taking swift action, you can limit the damage. The key is to remove as much moisture as possible and allow each item to dry, whether through air-drying or the use of a commercial fan.

*Pro-Tip:If the burst pipe is releasing a lot of water, set up a barrier to prevent it from flooding other rooms. It can be as simple as a pile of towels, bedsheets or whatever you have on hand, such as a basket or two of dirty laundry.

 

DIY or Professional Repair

Non-Main – If the burst pipe is not a primary water pipe, and the fracture is small, you can fix it yourself. (i.e. bathroom sink pipe)

Main – If the burst pipe is a main pipe that leads to another network, it will require a professional plumber to make the necessary repairs. This type of pipe holds more water and can cause extensive damage if not fixed properly

 

Image Credit: Unsplash

Potential Health Hazards

There are long-lasting side-effects of a burst water pipe that can affect the health and wellbeing of your family if not addressed properly. For this reason, it is vital to dry every area and surface affected by the burst water pipe.

 

Keep a Log for Insurance

Most insurance companies offer emergency assistance. By giving your insurance company a call, immediately, you can get the ball rolling on your claim.

 

Image Credit: Unsplash

Preventative Action

It’s always better to take preventative measures to avoid having to go through the financial and emotional stress of dealing with a burst water pipe. With prior planning and preparation, it’s easy to avoid the disaster of a burst pipe.

We also have helpful information on the real costs of home ownership as well as the top maintenance tasks for your home.

 

As we prepare to shed the last trappings of winter and herald in the glorious months of spring, Daylight Saving Time (DST) is right around the corner. Much more than a kickoff to spring home maintenance or giving up an hour of sleep, DST has an interesting history. Erroneously credited to Benjamin Franklin by many historians, it was actually an Englishman named William Willett who came up with the idea to “save” daylight by changing the time. First adopted by Germany after WWI to conserve electricity, it wasn’t until 1918 that the United States of America adopted DST to much controversy. Ultimately, it was the passage of the Uniform Time Act in 1966 which standardized DST for all of the United States excluding Hawaii and Arizona. With such a rich history, DST is the right time to tackle your spring maintenance checklist!

(more…)

Download

Fill in your details to download your very own Centriq Insights Report sample.