(DIY) How to Troubleshoot Boiler Problems

Do it Yourself concept

If your home uses a hot water boiler as your source of heat then having some basic DIY knowledge as to how they work can help you if trouble should arise. With winter just around the corner here in CT, knowing how to diagnose and fix simple problems, or how to relay that information to a professional, can help save you both time and money.

First, follow these quick inspection steps for the physical locations of your boiler’s components:

Step 1: Familiarize yourself with the basic parts, apparatus and definitions that pertain to your boiler. The attached diagram shows a complete breakdown of all the exterior parts of on an oil-fired hot water heating boiler.

Step 2: Identify your specific boiler’s fuel source. Follow the supply piping to the source to establish what heating-fuel your boiler uses to heat your home, e.g. oil or water. This information can help you when doing some troubleshooting research.

Step 3: Establish the boilers heat distribution and follow the unit’s delivery of heat as it leaves the boiler and then returns to it. Having a tight system that follows logical paths can reduce potential, simple problems like adequate return, adding years to its life, and removing sources of heat loss like splits or cracks.

Step 4: Make observation of the unit’s controls at the source. These controls located around the boiler are designed for use by the homeowner (meters, gauges, etc.), as well as being a source of information by an inspector. Other issues related to the temperature/pressure release valve can originate here. Check your unit’s manual for adequate PSI.

Once you have made your basic observations of the unit, it’s then time to diagnose why you have no, or little heat. There are typically four possible causes that can be quickly assessed and fixed without much aid:
  • No power to boiler: Check the circuit breaker associated to the unit. Reset the breaker, or replace the fuse as needed. Believe it or not, this problem is very common and a quick check can save so much trouble.boiler problems
  • Low water level: The water level should remain around half-full at all times. The boiler pressure relief valve should be around 12-15 psi.
  • Pilot or electronic burner ignition malfunction: Check to see if the boiler burner is closed via the control valve. Additionally, verify that the pilot light is lit. If your boiler has no standing pilot light, consult the manual for your specific unit as to how to relight it. Don’t be afraid to call a professional if you are insecure about the process.
  • Thermostat error: Establish your thermostat is set to heating mode. Then, move the temperature setting up and down. If you hear that familiar click, and nothing happens, you’re problem may need servicing.

Once you have exhausted all of your resources, and you still can’t find a solution, it might be time to call a professional. The problem may be something far greater and going without heat is definitely not an option.

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Home Buying Tips: Do you Need a Permit?

permitYou’ve found your dream home in the historic district of a quaint Connecticut town. The house needs new windows, but that’s okay. You’ve factored repairs into the price and you can afford them.

Or maybe you found a home that will soon be your dream home, once you build a front porch. You can picture yourself rocking in a chair, sipping iced tea and chatting with neighbors on that new covered porch.

Maybe you feel any house is your dream house, as long as you can build a shed in the back for your tractor and tools.

As you’re purchasing your new home and thinking about the improvements you’ll make, keep in mind building permits.

Each town or city in Connecticut has its own regulations for permits. In some towns such as Middlefield, permits are required for most construction, even sheds.

As you probably know, Connecticut is filled with old towns. Old towns often have historic districts in order to preserve the history and styles of buildings.  In a town such as Kent, you might need a certificate of appropriateness from the Historic District Commission for replacing windows and doors or to add a fence.

Inland Wetlands is also something to consider. Towns like Seymour are beautiful because of their wetlands. If you’re thinking of building on your property, check to see if there are inland wetlands and find out what permits you need before starting any construction.

With a little research at the town or city hall, you’ll know if you need a permit for you project. And soon, you’ll be sitting on your new porch, listening to the lovely evening sounds of crickets.

Contact Michelle Manter for more information.

The Trouble With Mold

trouble with mold

The last thing anyone wants to hear when they buy a house is that there’s a mold problem, but these sneaky little spores aren’t always easy to detect.

Mold is a fungus and although some molds are visible and even odorous, mold can also grow between walls, under floors and ceilings, or in less accessible spots, such as basements and attics. Mold flourishes in water-soaked materials (paneling, wallboard, carpet, paint and ceiling tiles), and can survive in almost any damp location.

There have been thousands of disputes over mold between sellers and buyers through the years, so both parties should protect themselves up-front. A wise seller should put a specific mold disclaimer into the real estate sales contract and encourage in the sales contract that the buyer hire and rely upon the buyer’s own independent mold inspection and testing of the home by a certified mold inspector. Conversely, a buyer should ask the seller about mold and hire an inspector who can seek it out.

While it’s not the inspector’s job to look for mold, most home inspectors will mention obvious signs of water damage and the possible presence of mold. And, because the inspector will poke around in spaces you might not, he or she may see things you wouldn’t. Don’t be shy to ask whether the inspector saw signs of mold or potential mold dangers.

In some states, real estate agents or brokers have a duty to disclose problems they know exist. Appraisers should also notify you of any obvious sign of a mold problem if the value of the property can be affected.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, molds produce allergens (substances that can cause allergic reactions), irritants, and in some cases, potentially toxic substances. Inhaling or touching mold or mold spores may cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals, including hay fever-type symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rash.

Molds can also cause asthma attacks in people with asthma who are allergic to mold. In addition, mold exposure can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs of both mold-allergic and non-allergic people.

Mold spores are very easily aerosolized and once they are disturbed, hundreds of thousands of spores can fill the air within a short period of time. Because of this, containment procedures are necessary to prevent contaminating the entire house or building.

Preventing water damage is one of the keys to stopping mold. Many indoor mold problems begin with an aging, weathered, leaky roof that may allow water to enter the home.

If you know your home or property has a water, mold, or other environmental problem, or if you have a reasonable suspicion that there may exist such a problem, you would be wise to remedy the water problem, mold infestation, or environmental threat prior to even offering the property for sale and prior to even listing the property for sale with a REALTOR®.

Remember, if you are house hunting, you should learn how to detect mold in homes, get the seller to disclose mold issues, and negotiate around any mold problems that come to light in the course of the sale.

Michelle Manter can be reached at 860-716-2227. Prudential Connecticut Realty is an independently owned and operated broker member of BRER Affiliates, Inc. Prudential, the Prudential logo and the Rock symbol are registered service marks of Prudential Financial, Inc. and its related entities, registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Used under license with no other affiliation with Prudential. Equal Housing Opportunity.

Listing information is deemed reliable, but not guaranteed. This IDX solution is (c) Diverse Solutions 2013.
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