The Home Safety Experts

Milestone Electric is Dallas & Fort Worth's Trusted Electrician!

Home Hibernation: Inspect and Repair Your Insulation

Good whole-house air sealing is a great way to cut heating and cooling bills and increase your comfort year round. In fact, sealing leaking ductwork and other areas of your home can lead to a 20% increase in your HVAC efficiency. While it is a good idea to maximize your home’s energy efficiency, you must be careful not to over-insulate your home. An air tight home is prone to indoor air pollution, harmful indoor gases, and other volatile organic compounds. While it may seem that the air inside your home is cleaner than the air outside, microbial pollutants like pet dander, mold, and pollen can build up in your home, creating a toxic environment "up to 10 times more polluted than the air outside"  

 

If you do have an air tight home, you will need mechanical ventilation systems which include supply, exhaust, balanced, and energy recovery.

 

For a thorough explanation and comparison of these different ventilation systems, including pros and cons, visit energy.gov. The simplest way to ventilate, however, is to simply open your doors and windows for just a few minutes each day.

 

When insulating your home, you want to carefully inspect your entire home, from top to bottom. Here is a great diagram we found on energy.gov that highlights some of the typical areas in your home that can benefit from some caulking and weatherstripping:

 

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Examples of where to insulate. 1. In unfinished attic spaces, insulate between and over the floor joists to seal off living spaces below. (1A) attic access door 2. In finished attic rooms with or without dormer, insulate (2A) between the studs of “knee” walls, (2B) between the studs and rafters of exterior walls and roof, (2C) and ceilings with cold spaces above. (2D) Extend insulation into joist space to reduce air flows. 3. All exterior walls, including (3A) walls between living spaces and unheated garages, shed roofs, or storage areas; (3B) foundation walls above ground level; (3C) foundation walls in heated basements, full wall either interior or exterior. 4. Floors above cold spaces, such as vented crawl spaces and unheated garages. Also insulate (4A) any portion of the floor in a room that is cantilevered beyond the exterior wall below; (4B) slab floors built directly on the ground; (4C) as an alternative to floor insulation, foundation walls of unvented crawl spaces. (4D) Extend insulation into joist space to reduce air flows. 5. Band joists. 6. Replacement or storm windows and caulk and seal around all windows and doors. Source: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

 

Walk around the inside and outside of your home with a smoke stick or lit incense and hold it up to areas you suspect may have a leak. If the smoke is sucked in or blown, that is where you have a draft. Once you have detected the areas that have gaps and leaks, use caulk, weatherstripping, and/or expandable foam to fill in the troubled areas. For gaps greater than a quarter inch, use expandable foam. For sealing gaps under a quarter inch, use caulk (weather-proof caulk for the outside).

 

For leaking ductwork, use aluminum tape or mastic sealing to seal any visible cracks or gaps.

 

IMPORTANT: After caulking, weatherstripping, and insulating your home, make sure that you call you trusted HVAC professional to stop by and make sure that the ventilation balance of your indoor air quality has not been upset to the point of causing a safety or health hazard for you and your family. You do not want a home that is too tight because it could prevent your home from venting safely and properly.

 

Visit our website and check out our Facebook or Twitter page for more expert advice for an energy-efficient home. Milestone Electric, Air, and Security is here to help. ♪♫ We’ll Fix It In A Flash! ♪♫
How to Locate and Leverage Your Electrical Panel

If you’re a new homeowner or even if you’re not, you’ll want to know where your circuit breaker (or fuse box) is. That way, when the power goes out, you can be the hero and come to the rescue.

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If you wait until the power goes out to look, you’ll look less like a hero and more like a zero when you are fiddling around in the dark for a flashlight, stumbling over things in your desperate search to find the electrical panel.

Before you go and blow a fuse (pun intended), you’ll want to know exactly where your electrical panel is. But before we get our Sherlock hat and pipe out, let’s discuss the difference between a circuit breaker and a fuse box:

Circuit breakers and fuse boxes are forms of electricity overload protection. Circuit breakers are more common, especially in new homes. They are easy to reset – just find the tripped breaker, turn it off and then switch it back on. Fuse boxes are usually found in older homes. When overloaded, a filament melts and you must replace it when blown. Thankfully, fuses are cheap and can be found in nearly any hardware store.

 WHERE IS MY ELECTRICAL PANEL?

Your panel is going to be located in a fairly unused area of your home, but not so out of reach that you have to go looking in crawl spaces and getting dirty to find it. Most likely, it will be in a closet, laundry room, basement, or garage. It is usually a gray box, but it may have been painted over to blend better with the wall. If you have looked high and low with no success, your box may be outside your home, which is more common in newer homes. Take a walk around the exterior of your house.

If all else fails, call your electric company. If they have served you before, they should have a record of where your box is located. 

LEVERAGE YOUR PANEL!

You may have more than one electrical panel. If you do, make sure to test the switches so you know which box controls which part of the house. After figuring out which box controls which area, find out where all the individual switches lead to, and label each switch (kitchen, upstairs bedroom, laundry room, etc.) so that you know for the future. Old school pen and tape will do the trick. It will save you a lot of time, trust us. Also, it is a good idea to have a flashlight and some extra fuses in a convenient place right next to your panel.

If your electrical panel is in area that gets leaks or flooding, call your electric company to talk to a professional about possible safety concerns and fixes.

If you have any questions or need help finding your electrical panel, call Milestone Electric  (214) 348-5100. Visit our website and Facebook page for more information and advice. “We’ll fix it in a flash!”

Fall Home Checklist Part 2: Outsider Edition

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Image Source: shutterstock

This fall, make sure you are taking all the necessary steps to keep your home, and especially your heating system, working properly this winter. Here is Part 2 (outdoor checklist) of our Fall Home Checklist to help you prepare your home for the cold weather ahead.

 

Outside:

 

  1. Inspect and clean gutters and downspouts. Gutters are an often neglected part of our homes, but they are an essential for protecting our houses from water damage. If you ignore your gutters, water can spill over your gutters causing foundation damage, peeling paint, rotting wood, moldy basements and attics, and roof leaks. Late summer and early fall are great times to inspect your gutters before the leaves begin to fall. No doubt you will have to clear your gutters again after the leaves start falling, but if you do a thorough gutter inspection now, it will make your work in the late fall a lot easier. 
  2. Inspect your roof for damaged shingles. Damaged/Missing shingles can be a warning sign for a more serious problem. You can inspect your roof yourself and even replace shingles by yourself, but if you have leaks or water coming into your house, you should have a professional roofer assess the situation. You can save a lot of money on more serious roof repairs by having a roofing professional inspect your roof for leaks and damaged areas.
  3. Drain and winterize any outdoor faucets and irrigation systems. Inspect all outdoor water faucets for damage. If they have a shut-off valve, close it off and turn on the faucet to drain any excess water in the faucets. For irrigation pipes, shut off the water supply and manually open all of the drain valves. For more information about how to drain and winterize faucets and irrigation systems, click hereTo help winterize your outdoor plumbing, hire a local plumber to ensure the job is done right.
  4. Using weather-stripping and caulk, seal any or cracks you find. Inspect your home for proper sealing. If you can see daylight coming through any window or door seals, try weather-stripping and caulking the cracks.
  5. Prepare all yard equipment for storage, including lawn mowers, leaf blowers and chain-saws. Be sure to drain the fuel from gas powered tools. Drain the fuel out of all your gas-powered yard equipment. If you let the gas sit in your equipment, it will gunk up in the bottom of your tank, causing clogs in your ports and fuel lines. Repair shops make a good living off of “bad gas” problems with yard equipment. Be smarter than the rest and run out your tank of gas  to avoid “bad gas.”
  6. Stow away all patio furniture. This is pretty self-explanatory. Protect your patio and yard furniture by storing them away during the fall and winter. Make sure they are completely dry before wrapping them up and storing them.
  7. Sweep the chimneys. This is a very important but often neglected fall task. Creosote, dust, and soot has been building up in your chimney for a while now and it is time to “Chim Chim Cher-ee” your chimney. You can do this yourself, but it is recommended that you get a professional to clean your chimney so the job is done right. Neglecting this task puts your home at a much higher risk for chimney fires.
  8. Trim plants and protect your outdoor unit. Summer was a great time for your plants to grow. Ensure that they are not growing too close to your outdoor HVAC unit by inspecting the area around your unit for any branches, vines, and weeds that may be encroaching. If you find any rust on your unit try to clean off as much as you can. You can apply a sealant or metal paint to the metal areas to protect it from the harsh winter. Continue to monitor the condition of your outdoor unit during the fall for leaves, branches, and other material that may be damaging your system. You want to make sure that there is good airflow around the unit. 
  9. Replace all of your air filters. Your HVAC system has been hard at work this summer getting you cool air. If you haven’t replaced your air filters this summer, they are most likely in need of one. You don’t want to forget about this one because if you do, airflow will be dramatically reduced, causing your system to work harder and possibly break down.
  10. Get professional maintenance.  Regular HVAC maintenance is essential for keeping your system safe, efficient, and long-lasting. Call your local HVAC technician today!

Make sure you have a trained HVAC professional deal with all of your furnace and boiler maintenance. Remember to change your filters and check your carbon monoxide and smoke alarms.

Milestone Electric & Air is here to help. Enroll in our Yes, MAM maintenance plan to help reduce energy costs and keep your HVAC system running at peak performance. Call us anytime!  972-267-2405 or 817-267-2405. We’ll Fix It In A Flash!

Fall Home Checklist: 20 Ways to Get Your Home Ready (Part 1)
As we enter into this interim period where the weather is just right, it’s a great time to complete a fall home maintenance checklist. The start of football season always reminds me to do my fall home checklist, even if the weather doesn’t. Here is a list of tasks that we do in our own homes in order to gear up for the cold weather ahead. Get started in the early fall so that these things don’t get lost in the hullabaloo.

 

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Inside:
  1. Replace your furnace or heater filter. Have an extra filter on hand for when you need to change it next.
  2. Schedule an appointment for a heating tune-up. You will want to make sure your system is fully functioning and as efficient as possible.
  3. Purchase a programmable thermostat. It will help you save money and energy.
  4. Test all smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. If you do not have a carbon monoxide alarm, have one installed. Over 200 people die from carbon monoxide poisoning every year in the US alone. Use Dust-Off or some equivalent to clean out any dust build-up in your detectors.
  5. Clean and check your humidifiers regularly before and during the heating season. When you have your furnace tune-up done, have your Milestone technician also do a tune-up on your humidifier. Change your humidifier from the summer to the winter setting. Remember that your water filter needs to be change also.
  6. Make sure you have proper insulation in your basement and attic.
  7. Check windows and doors for leaks. If you can see daylight coming from the edges of your doors or windows, you need to do some weatherstripping. Use caulk and weatherstripping to seal any cracks you find. Have your Milestone technician inspect your home for proper sealing. It is possible to have a home that is too airtight. 
  8. Turn on your furnace just to see if it starts up. You don’t want to find out you have problems with your furnace when it is too late.
  9. Test your emergency generator. If you don’t have a backup generator and you are thinking about getting one, now is a good time to call Milestone Electric to find out what generator system would be the best fit for your home.
  10. Check your chimney and have it cleaned. You could have a build-up of creosote, causing ventilation problems and even a fire hazard.

Check back next week for PART 2 (Outside).

For all your home service needs, call Milestone today, 972-267-2405 or 817-267-2405! Flashy fixes, right the first time. Also be sure to check out our website for a complete list of services as well as “like” our Facebook page to get more home service advice and entertainment.

Avoid the Shock of Your Life: Electrifying Advice

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Where would our world be without electricity? Computers, phones, televisions and toasters – we wouldn’t have any of these without it. Of course, these are only just a few examples; however, our society relies heavily on the support of this wonderful thing we call “electricity.”

 

Do you know how many appliancs and other electrical gadgets are in your home? Probably too many to count. With that being said, it’s important to take precaution when handling these appliances devices in your home as we often forget they can shock us silly. Don’t let the things that bring you so much joy cause you pain. Here are some tips to remember:

1.)   If you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s probably best to leave whatever it is to a licensed, trained electrician. Fiddling around with wires in which you have no idea what they do is a great way to get shocked.

2.)   Toast, toaster strudels and pop tarts — they’re some of the most popular breakfast items. Scenario: You’re running late to work and have no time to actually make yourself a 5 star breakfast, so you throw a couple pop tarts into the toaster. Hold up! Tears of sadness swell around your eyes as you realize the toaster is jammed. Uh oh! What do you do?

 

A.)  Stick your fingers down in there so that you can make your precious pop tart.

B.)  Grab the closest fork or knife to dig out any crumbs.

C.)   Unplug it, and let your toaster completely cool down. 

The correct answer is C, “Unplug it, and let your toaster completely cool down.” Never stick your fingers down a toaster, and never use a fork or knife to dig out crumbs as both can shock you.

3.)   As elementary as it may sound, never touch electrical equipment with wet hands. Even if it’s just a small amount of water, coming into contact with an outlet or ungrounded faulty appliance can cause electrical shock. Remember, water conducts electricity!

Here are a couple more do’s and don’ts:
  • If you see a downed power line, stay away from it. It could still be “alive.” In fact, keep away from all power lines.
  • Be careful where you dig, because there could be power lines located under the soil.
  • Make sure electrical devices in the bathroom are kept out of reach of children and far away from water sources.
  • Pull out electrical cords by the plastic handle; do not yank it from the wall by the cord.
  • Stay inside and away from water during lightning storms. That means no swimming.

If you have any concerns with your electrical equipment or want to learn about more ways to stay safe from electricity, contact Milestone Electric at 214-348-5100 or visit us on our website or Facebook.  Call Milestone Electric today for your electrical service or repair! We are your local electrician for greater DFW homeowners.

ULTIMATE SUMMER MAINTENANCE CHECKLIST

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We still have plenty of hot weather ahead of us here in Dallas. Take some time this Labor Day weekend to spruce up your yard and keep your home cool.

Air conditioning tune up

The number one priority for your summer home maintenance checklist is to have your air conditioning (AC) unit tuned up. As important as getting your car tuned, your AC needs to be tuned to inspect and prevent unwanted emergencies. The tune-up is used to inspect refrigerant levels, which is important for your AC to keep running cool and keep your summer electric bills low, as well as to ensure your fan is functioning well, your coils are thoroughly cleaned and there are no potential fire hazards with faulty wiring.

Homeowner tip: You can keep your AC bill running smoothly by changing out your air filters often. Experts advise changing them once a month when using your unit on a daily basis.

Roof check

Your roof should be inspected annually to ensure that you don’t have any problems. Whether you have just ended your rainy season or are about to begin it, checking your roof regularly will assist in finding a small problem before it becomes a large, leaky one. Contingent on the type of roof, you may also want to clean your roof to avoid any permanent water damage.

Clean gutters

Cleaning gutters regularly will help prevent clogging and unnecessary leaks. It is recommended that gutters are cleaned twice a year: once at late fall/early winter, after all of the leaves have fallen and prior to the first snowfall, and once at late spring/early summer after flowers, seeds and blossoms are done blowing off.

Window check

Ensure that the hot summer heat stays outside by checking and maintaining your home’s windows. One of the key items in window maintenance is routinely checking the sealants. Ensure that both inside and out are secured, and caulk any open areas in between. Also, check weather-stripping for any faults and replace it immediately if there is an issue. Taking care of windows will keep your home looking and feeling good.

Pressure wash the exterior

An important element of maintaining your home’s exterior is to routinely clean it, and the easiest way to do so is to pressure wash the walls. Do it to remove dirt, stains and mildew, especially prior to painting. Before you wash, just ensure that you cover plants, electrical outlets, windows and doors to avoid any DIY mishaps.

Pool maintenance

Depending on where you live, it’s probably been a good six months since your pool has been used for swimming. Get it ready for summer by cleaning it up, leveling the water, ensuring that your pumps are working and balancing your chemicals. Start at least a week prior to swim season to ensure that the water and your new bathing suit are safe from chemical harm.

 

For all your home services, call Milestone Electric or visit our website or Facebook!

 

Have a great Labor Day weekend! Be safe.
COOLER THAN YOU: HIP TIPS FOR STAYING COOL

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Do you want to be cooler? Well, you’ve come to the right place. These 7 tips will show you how to beat the heat without breaking the bank. When it comes to keeping cool during the summer, strategy is key:

1. Take a bucket of ice water and dump it over your head (or your friend’s head). Then, you can post it on facebook and your cool factor will instantly go up.

2. Use your ice tray to make more than just ice. You can fill it with coffee, wine, fruit, chocolate, coconut water, etc.

3. Over most of the cooling season, keep the house closed tight during the day. Don’t let in unwanted heat and humidity. Ventilate at night either naturally or with fans.

4. In hot climates, plant shade trees around the house. 

5. Close south and west-facing curtains during the day for any window that gets direct sunlight.

6. Clean your A/C’s air filter every month during cooling season. Normal dust build-up can reduce air flow by 1 percent per week.

7. Turn off your A/C when you leave for more than an hour.

Do you have any hip tips to share? Let us know how cool you are.

For all your electric and HVAC needs, call Milestone Electric.

Dallas County
214-317-4228

Summer Safety Tips
image 1. Heat

Sweating is the body’s natural way of cooling itself, but it may not be enough in extreme heat or long exposure.

What to do:

  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Seek air conditioning to keep cool.
  • Pace yourself.
  • Monitor people at high risk, including the elderly and young children.

Also, keep in mind that in some places, a hot day can turn paved roads into “streets of fire.” Metal surfaces, such as car doors or a shed in your yard, can also get extremely hot. Think twice before running outside to get your mail in bare feet. 

2. The Lawn Mower

Mowing the lawn is a weekly ritual for many in the spring and summer, but did you know that it sends nearly 80,000 Americans to the hospital each year? Researchers say the most common injuries are caused by debris, such as rocks and branches that are shot off by the mower’s spinning blades. With blades spinning at 160 mph inches away from our feet and hands, it’s crucial to use caution. 

Here are a few lawn-mowing safety tips from Bishai:

  • Wear goggles, long pants and closed-toe shoes with soles that offer good traction.
  • Clear the yard of debris before mowing.
  • Wear protective gloves when servicing the mower or changing blades.
  • Never service the mower while it is running.
  • Do not carry passengers on riding mowers or tow anyone behind the mower.
  • Do not allow children younger than 16 to operate a riding mower.
  • Store lawn mowers in an area that has minimal traffic and that children cannot access.

3. DIY Projects

Every year, emergency rooms treat 36,000 people for chain-saw injuries and thousands more for injuries caused by power hedge trimmers or weed trimmers. Any time you’re using a power tool, wear protective gear, head to toe. And don’t decide you’re going to build that Pinterest coffee table after a few too many glasses of wine. Power tools and booze don’t mix.

4. The Pool

While your pool may add value to your home and offer relief from the summer heat, it can also put your family at risk. Most accidental drownings of children ages 1 to 4 occur in residential swimming pools. 

The best way to keep your pool area safe is to install a fence to prevent anyone from falling in accidentally. Supervise your children at all times when they are in a pool.

Also be aware of any rivers, lakes or other bodies of water near your home, and exercise caution any time you are in or around them. Wear life jackets and know the weather forecast before you go swimming; a sudden change in weather can put you at risk.

7 Home Projects You Should Be Doing Now

Summer is a great time to work on your home and tackle those projects you have been putting off. Here’s a list of a few easy ideas to get you started. 

1. Clean the Gutters

If your home sits under a pollinating tree, then your gutters might have brown or yellow stains dripping down the sides from the spring’s pollination cycle. Even if it doesn’t, leaves may have accumulated, which not only clog gutters, but can cause stains as well. Now is a great time to scrub your gutters down because the weather is warm, and they’ll stay relatively clean until the fall.

2. Clean Exterior Lights

Have you ever cleaned out the dead bugs from your home’s exterior lights? Many people don’t think to do this, but those bugs add up. They not only look gross, but they also dim the quality of the light. This is an easy chore that will give your home a bright, clean look.

3. Fix Concrete Cracks

If you have a concrete driveway, patio, or path, you know that the winter months can be brutal on these areas. The constant freezing and melting, as well as the salt you throw down, all contribute to cracks. If left unattended, these cracks will get wider with each successive winter season. If the crack is small, buy concrete caulk. Simply clean out the crack (a pressure washer works great for this) and apply the caulk. If the crack is large, then you’ll need to apply concrete patch.

4. Caulk the Exterior

Caulk not only helps protect the exterior of your home from the elements, but it also helps keep it air-tight, which means lower monthly utility bills for you. Exterior caulking should be done once per year. And you sure don’t want to do this outdoor project during the dead of winter or during a wet fall or spring. Start caulking around windows and doors first. If your home has a wooden exterior, use clear caulk between any slats that are separating or open.

5. Clean and Seal Your Deck

Decks get dirty. Give your deck a good scrubbing with a stiff brush and soap or use a power-washer. Then, apply a fresh coat of sealer to protect the wood from rain and next winter’s snow. Not only will this keep your deck in good repair for years to come, but it looks great too!

6. Purchase Outdoor Furniture

August is actually the best time to buy outdoor furniture. Stock up now and save with all the sales. 

7. Add an Outdoor Fireplace

If you’ve been dreaming about summer nights in front of an outdoor fireplace, now’s the time to make it happen. Create a safe space in your yard for a fire pit; it shouldn’t be close to overhanging trees and should be at least 15 feet from the house. Dig into the ground to form a circle three feet in diameter. Pour sand in the bottom, and then surround it with a metal fire pit ring, which can be purchased inexpensively from any home improvement store. Once you’ve gathered some wood, you’re good to go!

Going on a Summer Vacation? Prep Your A/C First

If you’re planning a vacation this summer, there’s another task to add to your to-do list. Before leaving on a summer vacation, prep your air conditioner. A few easy steps could save hundreds or even thousands of dollars in unexpected repair bills.

Air Conditioning Prep

Before leaving on vacation, a little bit of air conditioner maintenance will go a long way in protecting the system. Help ensure a healthy air conditioner include:

  • Cleaning or replacing the air filter before going on vacation.
  • Clearing away debris from around the outdoor condenser unit. Mow the grass, cut back overgrown tree branches or shrubs.
  • Arrange for a professional service visit. A qualified service technician will perform a thorough tune-up of the system to detect any potential problems. Give us a call to schedule your tune-up.

Preparing for Storms

While you’re away from home, it’s possible that severe weather could affect your home and air conditioner. When severe weather arrives, so does the possibility of a power outage or lightning strike that could cause damage to the air conditioning system. Preparing for this possibility could prevent the need for system replacement due to catastrophic damage.

  • If severe weather is likely during your absence from home, consider unplugging the air conditioning system.
  • Remove any items from the yard that could become airborne during high winds. These items could hit the outdoor unit and damage it.
  • Ask a trusted neighbor to check on the system after a severe weather event occurs.

Setting the Thermostat

In preparing for your travels, adjust the thermostat settings to account for the empty house. Raising the temperature up to 85 degrees or higher will reduce utility costs for the period of time that you’re away. The air conditioner will still turn on occasionally so that the home does not become unbearably hot. Keeping the thermostat at a higher temperature also helps protect your home from burglary, as it will still appear as if your family is at home as the air conditioner cycles.

Getting your home’s air conditioner ready for your summertime vacation not only reduces utility costs while you’re away, but it also helps to ensure that there will be no unpleasant surprises when you return from your trip. 

Milestone can handle all things HVAC related. That means all brands and all types of problems. We promise to come prepared and equipped to perform the work the same day! Visit us at Milestone Electric and give us a call today!