Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Prudent Prepping: Fall Is Here

The dust has settled and the First 72 Hours have passed. Follow along as I build a long term plan via Prudent Prepping.

It's finally cooling down here and two things are going to happen sooner or later: it will be cold enough to fire up the heater instead of the air conditioner, and there will be rain. I know many folks are already drying out for the third time, but it hasn't rained much here for months and I expect both things to happen soon. Very soon.

Check Your Heater
I'm lucky in that my landlord is a friend and keeps the property up reasonably well. He maintains everything and usually replaces things before they break, but how do you know if something is wearing out?

Inspect it and check it. There are too many different types of heaters for me to be able to recommend anything but general tips, but this information can be used as the starting point for having your system checked.

How often should you have your heater looked over? My friend the HVAC guy says "once a year for all systems", regardless of  whether it's new or not.

Some work is best left to the pros, but we can do our part in having clean air!

Change Your Air Filter
If you have a filter, change it now. If you have a central heating and cooling system, more than likely it's full of dust and pollen from the summer. Filters are as little as $4 for disposables, to as much as $30 and up for washable and reusable ones. Look for your filter either in the return air ducting or right at your furnace. Can't find it? Ask a pro.

Clean Your Element
Speaking of "ask a pro," here's an example. Having a trained technician go through the insides of your heater is more that just running a vacuum over things: they will also check for any damaged parts, gas leaks, bad motors and proper venting.

Having the heating system looked at should be anywhere from $50 to $100 depending on your type of heater. I often see discounts offered in some Big Box stores in my area for that service.

About that venting: the CDC estimates that on average, 430 people per year die from Carbon Monoxide poisoning, and many thousands more are sickened from exposure to it. Making certain that the supply of clean air going in is equal to the bad air going out is very important. 

This is also a good time to look at your CO2 detector. There should be one on each floor of your house or other occupied space.

Rain Is Coming Soon
More than likely in the first part of November, so it's time to clean your gutters so water can flow off the roof and away from your house. I see many people near me having their trees trimmed and doing gutters at the same time, since leaves and small branches end up on the roof. For those of you that freeze, having gutters clean along with proper insulation will prevent roof damage from water freezing on and in your roof.

I don't have that problem, just occasional very heavy rain. Since this house is a slab foundation, water will sometimes not flow away fast enough and often get into the garage. Several neighbors with worse drainage than this house resort to sand bags in order to keep the water out.

Something I saw recently in my wandering through a Home Depot looks interesting as a replacement for sand bags, or maybe as a complement to them:

Quick Dam

Quick Dam

This looks really interesting as it is a continuous piece of protection, instead of several smaller items like sand bags.

From the Quick Dam Amazon listing:
  • Water Activated Flood Barriers, Rated #1 in Flood Control.
  • Grows to 3.5in high in minutes, just get them wet.
  • Long, flexible design creates all sorts of shapes.
  • Use to control, contain & divert flood water.
  • Ready to use, no sand or labor needed.
  • Compact & Lightweight, stores away until needed.
  • Use to protect doorways, garages, leaking hot water tanks, erosion control & more.
  • Dual chamber design prevents unit from rolling out of place.
  • Use indoors or out.
  • Do NOT use with salt water, chemical reaction causes deflation.
Sorry coastal people! If you get salt water intrusion, this product is not for you.

There are multiple lengths available, so finding something useful for your situation should be easy. Look at the parent company, Quick Dams, for even more interesting flood control products.

The Takeaway
  • A little prevention can keep everyone safe, healthy and alive.

The Recap

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NOTE: All items tested were purchased by me. No products have been loaned in exchange for a favorable review. Any items sent to me for T&E will be listed as such. Suck it Feds.

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