Dealing with un-fixable electric fan problems

Electric fans can be one of the best energy-saving tools. For example, by cooling areas effectively with fans on a regular schedule, even homeowners who rely on room air conditioners can reduce their energy expenditures. This is how my wife and I reduce our energy bill. But, we can't take all the credit, since our standing electric fan really does all the work, filtering in cool nighttime air so that our air conditioner doesn't work overtime when we are at home.

But, occasionally overworked fans can malfunction. Sometimes this only means easy fixes need to be pursued. For example, the blades may be unbalanced and need tightening. This process only takes an hour or so and the help of few trusty tools. But, while it may seem that most problems would be easy to diagnose given their relatively simple design, sometimes electric fan issues require the whole unit to be replaced.

Hopefully, the problem will be something as simple as a dirty switch rather than a failed motor or a faulty electrical cord. With these problems, it may be more cost effective to purchase a completely new electric fan. Many of the new models come with a sleeker, thinner design and more features.

In addition, by shopping online, consumers could save money and receive their product in only a few days. This is a best case scenario, however, and those looking to make this type of investment may want to look at trusted internet resellers before making a decision. While an electric fan won't exactly break the bank, in today's day and age it's important to get the most for every dollar.

Dealing with a leaky humidifier

In the past, I've found that one of the most common problems my wife and I have had with our humidifiers are pesky leaks. Many times, waters spots can go unnoticed for weeks at a time, and impair the efficiency of the machine itself. For example, I tend to keep my humidifier in one place, meaning that when small leaks occur under the device, I don't find them until much later.

Leaks are tough because they could have a number of sources. Most often, however, this indicates a crack in the reservoir tank. If this is the case, the humidifier most likely wasn't of a very high quality to begin with, or simply suffered when it was jostled about by a houseguest or pet. Hey, you never know.

However, in certain instances, this could mean more advanced problems. The float mechanism that controls the flow of the water in the appliance could be malfunctioning, for instance. In turn, this could cause the machine to keep the water running even when it's not being put to use.

Regardless of the source of the issue, consumers looking to fix this problem may not want to go through all the hassle of duct taping small holes. While this may seem like a good idea, it's not very effective and most often the humidifier will have troubles as it attempts to continue to correct the moisture levels in your home with this defect.

As a result, savvy homeowners may want to purchase a new humidifier from a trusted online retailer with a solid return policy. By analyzing factors such as shipping and special discounts, consumers could save money and quickly get a replacement for their faulty unit. 

Humidifiers may not be enough to limit black mold growth

While all mold is problematic, certain types of this fungus can be more harmful to a home environment and require more serious home repair. For example, purchasing a high-quality humidifier from an online source can be enough to prevent mold from occurring in areas without substantial leaks and even minimize growth, but it can't eradicate the prescience of this threat fully.

Also known by its scientific name, Stachybotrys, black mold is a big concern for homeowners, as it can cause a number of long-term health problems. For example, this type of toxic mold has been linked to a variety of diseases and afflictions including, asthma, bronchitis, memory loss and certain types of infections.

Most homeowners don't need to worry about this type of harmful growth. For instance, black mold experts suggest it only commonly grows in areas that experience heavy flooding. Typically, black mold prospers in a wet environment that takes several days or weeks to dry out. But, homeowners who recently purchased a home could take on these problems without their knowledge.

In addition, flood-like conditions don't always mean heavy rains. A steady drip from a leaky pipe can provide a similar style of saturation in a small area. Experts suggest black mold is even capable of growing inside pipes. If certain members of the house are experiencing long-term allergy symptoms, even when the homeowner invests in air purifiers, allergy bedding and over-the-counter remedies, a more serious home inspection may be warranted.

Despite the dangers, homeowners shouldn't overreact. Black mold shouldn't be confused with other types of more common mold growth. For example, tile grout routinely has a sort of blackish, grimy look. But, unlike black mold this malady can be removed with heavy scrubbing and the proper ventilation of the room with products such as trusty electric fans

The dangers of mold growth in a home and how humidifiers can help

Over the last few days, I've been focusing on mold. But, while some of my readers act like I'm simply talking about a moot issue, mold is actually a serious threat to any homeowner. When it comes to mold and mildew, homeowners shouldn't take the problem too lightly. And now, I state my case.

In addition to the costly structural damage mold can cause (it's been known to be attracted to everything from wallpaper to the wood or stucco that sits under it), mold can lead to long-term health problems given prolonged exposure. For example, young children with allergies may experience severe headaches and symptoms that appear to be related to seasonal allergies year round.

Experts suggest that mold may be hiding in some strange places. Attics and crawlspaces are a few of the more obvious areas, however, when was the last time you inspected these places? Granted, there are a million better things to be doing on a Sunday afternoon, but none may provide the security of knowing that your health and finances are intact.

Mold can be equally problematic when dealing with insurance companies, as many homeowners insurance policies don't cover this type of damage. In fact, according to an ABC News report, in 44 states it's explicitly left uncovered. This means simply discovering the mold won't get rid of the problem.

So, does this mean homeowners should routinely check these areas? Once or twice a year should be enough. However, the fight against mold can be best fought by investing in products that are known to reduce moisture. By using dehumidifiers and humidifiers, for instance, homeowners can gain the assurance that any mold growth is likely to be mitigated.

Reducing washer and dryer moisture with electric fans

In response to my last piece about moisture buildup in my bathroom, one faithful reader responded by asking me if similar measures would be effective against basement problems. To get more specific, this homeowner is experiencing problems due to an old clothes dryer.

Living in a small basement apartment – and without an alternative outlet – our reader is forced to keep this appliance in the kitchen. To get rid of the moist, warm air created by the use of this machine, she runs the ventilation hose directly out her front door. However, she says she still is experiencing mold buildup in the areas along where the hose runs.

In my experience, this may have less to do with the dryer than the actual vent duct itself. In certain cases, lint can buildup even in this passageway, thereby obstructing the natural air flow. In her case, the duct used metal rings to keep its formation even when air wasn't passing through. This can obviously make detecting a leak difficult, as these hoses can be a number of feet in length and the fact that there only really needs to be a small hole for problems to persist.

Short of buying a new dryer, our reader was wondering if electric fans could provide a solution to this problem. In this case, I would advocate for a fan to be purchased – or borrowed from a trusted friend or neighbor – to blow this steamy air out of the apartment. Still, though, a new dryer or vent duct will need to be purchased eventually for the room to be fully protected from mold and mildew.

When looking for a new electric fan, consumers may want to examine online resources. By saving money on this purchase and getting prompt delivery, our reader may be able to reduce her immediate worries while saving for a more long-term solution. 

Electric fans could provide stopgap solution for mold and mildew problems

In my last piece, I talked about every homeowner's favorite subject, mold and mildew. Nothing makes you feel like you're taking great care of your home like finding out that well, you've been missing some of the smaller details. I don't know about you readers out there, but I'm a pretty groggy person in the morning. As a result, I didn't notice buildup of these maladies on our bathroom ceiling that could have been prevented (I'm useless before a cup of coffee, as my wife will attest).

One of the primary culprits for this type of quick mold buildup is faulty ventilation fans. Oftentimes, these fans can get blocked up, even when they appear completely functional. Not every fan problem will be accompanied by the type of shrieking noise that you'll typically find with a hard blockage – or in other words, when something gets in there that shouldn't.

If this problem happens in your home, you have to replace or repair the fan. But, you may be asking, what about those on a budget, those looking for short-term solutions or who don't have the resources to fund a big repair quickly?

While it's always better to fix this sort of problem sooner rather than later, to reduce this type of buildup in time for the next holiday gathering without an extensive overhaul, homeowners can invest in low-cost electric fans. By keeping an electric fan in the bathroom, homeowners can ensure that any moisture leaves their bathroom quickly. When used in conjunction with treatments that can get rid of any existing mold, buying a high-quality Duracraft, Honeywell or TPI Commercial fan should be a sufficient stopgap.

Dealing with household mold and mildew

I don't think there's anything that freaks out my wife more than mold or mildew. She and I go through great lengths to take care of our home and keep it free from these "imperfections," so I think she perceives the mere sight of fungi as a failure on our part.

Personally, I try to take a less defeatist attitude. Fact is, mold and mildew occur naturally, and they can crop up no matter how clean your keep your home. These threats are most likely to appear in your basement or crawlspace.

Why is that? Well, biological growths are typically the result of excess moisture, which provides ideal living conditions for fungi. That's why you'll typically encounter mildew in your bathtub or shower if you're not careful about cleaning it regularly.

High humidity is what creates the moisture mold needs to grow. Basements and crawlspaces can be ideal breeding grounds for humid conditions because they're underground. Without getting too technical, the cool conditions in your underground basement decrease the temperature of the air that enters this space, increasing its relative humidity and leading to condensation and moisture.

So, how do you control the level of moisture in the air in your basement? Well, if you find that you have a water leak from some of the plumbing in the space, you'll need to have that fixed immediately.

If your problems are related to high levels of humidity in the air, a dehumidifier can help. These machines dry out the air in the basement, robbing mold and mildew of the ripe conditions they need to exist.

We've had one in our home for a few years now, and the wife and I encounter far less mold and mildew downstairs. It's simple, cost-effective and spares us the "shame" of an unkept home.

Adjust your manual thermostat for energy benefits

At home, I'm known as the unofficial guardian of our manual thermostat. My family knows I like to have some control over how hot or cold our home is, and I'm afraid to say I've become the butt of a few jokes for the way I painstakingly manage our thermostat.

Hey, I'm not saying no one else can play with the heat. I'm simply following in the footsteps of my own father, who worked hard to ensure we were not only comfortable, but also careful in the way we managed our energy use.

For instance, it can be frustrating to come home from a day trip to find out that we were running the heat full-blast when no one was around. Wasteful habits like that can lead to higher energy costs in the long run.

As a result, I like to follow a few simple thermostat rules I've picked up over the years. For starters, most experts suggest setting your manual thermostat at a comfortable 68 degrees during the winter and 78 degrees during the summer.

When you leave the house or go to sleep, you can adjust these temperatures by 5 to 8 degrees (down in the winter, up during the summer). Of course, you don't have to follow these rules exactly, since some of us live in much colder or warmer climates. But, in general, these figures provide a good base to start with.

Once you've determined your ideal temperature control strategy, you'll start experiencing some real energy savings. According to Honeywell, turning back your thermostat 10 to 15 degrees before bed can save as much as 10 percent on your monthly bill. With savings like that, you can truly be the master of your manual thermostat.

Locating Energy Star appliances

In my last piece, I focused on Energy Star appliances and the benefits they can have when added to kitchens. I cited my recent experience with my basement refrigerator and how my wife and I are now seriously looking into kitchen upgrades. However, aside from my personal experience I often dedicate this column to reader questions. In response, one reader asked me what the best way to locate Energy Star models would be, with a particular emphasis on cost.

I would recommend using the Energy Star Store Locator, which is a handy tool provided by its website. The service lets users simply add their zip code and then locates stores within a specific radius of the location. It's fairly simple to use, even for those like me who only use the internet to keep current on home improvement tips.

To get a more concentrated view, those who visit the website can select a number of different categories. For example, if you decide your home's lighting needs an upgrade, you can search for just light bulbs, or go ahead and search for all the retailers that carry light fixtures, ceiling fans or decorative light strings.

Similarly, those looking for just humidifiers or dehumidifiers can hone their search for this particular appliance. However, while Energy Star products are great and they can save you money, consumers may want to explore all their buying options before making even a small investment in room air conditioners.

By conducting their search online and looking for the best deals, consumers looking to cut their costs could find big savings. However, you should also remember that shipping costs should be evaluated as part of the deal, and that there isn't a substitute for a great return policy.

Kitchen appliance upgrades to reduce energy costs

In my last post, I talked to you about my adventures replacing our basement refrigerator and the reduced energy expenses my wife and I saw as a result. Since this recent switch has been so beneficial, we have been considering buying a new refrigerator for our kitchen, which has a few older appliances that could be costing us more money than necessary.

For example, our downstairs fridge was about 15 years old, and research suggests this added as much as $200 to our yearly energy bills. Some experts say a new fridge, especially one equipped with a great Energy Star rating, can cost as little as $1 a week.

This can add up to a savings of about $150 dollars a year, which isn't exactly chump change these days. In addition, our dishwasher is in bad need of an overhaul. While they say "they don't make them like they used to," the old adage may not be true when it comes to this appliance.

Our dishwasher uses around 15 gallons of water during a normal wash cycle, which while that doesn't sound like much, is far more than current models. On today's market, some new dishwashers uses as little as three gallons to perform the safe job.

This seemingly small savings can then be invested in other energy saving techniques. For example, by purchasing electric fans, you can reduce your air conditioning costs in the summer. When it comes to energy efficiency its all about investing and saving. By cutting costs here and there and then reducing them further with new purchases, homeowners can ensure they don't waste more money. After all who wouldn't enjoy a nice vacation right about now as the temperatures are dropping and the electric heaters are back in action once again?