What not to put down your kitchen drain.

With the holidays rapidly approaching everyone knows that some hearty feasts are getting close. With that in mind it is important to know what to do with food scraps and leftovers. While your garbage disposal unit may seem like an obvious candidate for food waste, it is important to know that what you put down there may cost you.

First of all, never pour cooking oils or fats down the drains as the can solidify and create clogs. An easy way to get rid of oils and fats is to wipe them up with a paper towel and throw them away. Don’t put stringy and hard to chop items down the drain as the garbage disposal may not be able to chew through it. This can cause a clog or destroy your disposal. For example, don’t put these down the drain: poultry skins, banana peels, carrots, potato skins, onion peelings, or pumpkin pulp. Before using your disposal you always turn it on and also run cold water down the drain before using it. Make sure it’s cold water as hot water can solidify grease in your line.

So if you’re going to have the in-laws over this thanksgiving just remember to keep your kitchen line clean so you have extra money to spend on Black Friday.

Furnaces and Boilers: What is best for your house and your wallet.

As the weather gets colder it is time to start thinking about the heating system in your home. Whether you have a boiler or a forced air furnace it is important to know how they work as well as the cost of neglect on these machines.

Lets start with furnaces. Furnaces are the most common form of house heating in the United States as they are cheaper than boilers and relatively cost effective to run. However, just like your car, furnaces do require attention at least a couple of times per month. Replacing your furnace filter is the best way to prevent any major damage occurring inside of the unit. Make sure you understand what size filter it requires as well as how to replace it. If you don’t replace your filter at least once a month in the winter and every 6-7 weeks in the summer (depending on the stress you put onto the furnace), you could damage your furnace which could cost you hundreds if not thousands of dollars to repair.

Now, would it be more cost effective to just replace the furnace as opposed to repairing it? Sometimes this may be the case because the parts of a furnace don’t last forever. And sometimes when you figure out a part is bad and replace that part, another part might go bad right after it. After a while you may end up spending half the cost of a new furnace just to keep the old one alive for maybe another year. Another positive for replacing your furnace as opposed to repairing it is the fact that new furnaces are more energy efficient and safer than the older models. Newer furnaces are also vastly more reliable than older models and should last around 15-20 years. The only con to purchasing a brand new furnace and having somebody install it is the price. Depending on the model and efficiency rating of the furnace that you purchase it can range anywhere from $2,800 to $4,600.

Now lets talk about boilers and some of the advantages and disadvantages they can offer a homeowner. Firstly, boilers last a long time if maintained properly.  On average boilers can last anywhere from 25-30 years. The only difference is that boilers require people with knowledge of hot water heating in order to be maintained and repaired. These machines are much more cost effective to repair, because a new boiler could cost anywhere from 15 to 20 thousand dollars. However, despite their immense upfront cost boilers are much more energy efficient than a furnace and they also make less noise. The heat boilers put out is much more comfortable too.  On the down side, boilers take up quite a bit of space in your basement or crawlspace, as they are very large machines and the plumbing that goes with them also takes up quite a bit of room. This can be negated if you decide to purchase or have a combination boiler which, as the name suggests, combines the boiler and hot water heater into one. This saves lots of space in the room that the boiler is in and cuts down on energy costs. However, because boilers heat your home with hot water they can leak and cause water damage to your home.

Ultimately it is up to the home owner as to what they want to do with their heating system for their house. Whether you want to spend the extra money and have a new system installed or you want to run the risk of repairing and something else going bad, you have that ability. Just remember that repairs aren’t always guaranteed to fix anything and that there could be multiple things wrong with your system. Always remember to change your furnace filters every month or so depending on the time of year, and remember to service your boiler every couple of years to make sure it is running in perfect condition.