10 Solutions for Air Leak Repair

10 Solutions for Air Leak Repair

  • Cooling
air leak repair

You wouldn’t run the heat in the house with the windows open in the winter, would you? Of course not! Unfortunately, when you have multiple air leaks in the house, this is the exact effect happening within your home. The warm, expensive indoor air is permitted to escape the house, while chilly, winter outdoor air is allowed into the home. These air leaks can be found in many areas of the home. The attic, windows, doors, and basement are prime places for the average homeowner to lose warm air to the outdoors. You need air leak repair and you need it fast. 

]If the weather in your area is beginning to get a little chilly, you may want to begin some yearly maintenance tasks to keep the cold air out of your home. If the warm air leaks outdoors, your heating unit will have to work overtime to try to keep the house comfortable. This means more wear and tear on your unit, and possibly costly repairs in the future. Additionally, you will feel chillier in the house and your heating bills will skyrocket if too much cold air is able to penetrate your home. Most of the following ten repairs are fairly inexpensive and simple to do, requiring little more than a screwdriver, a few easily found items, and a sharp pair of eyes. If you can’t afford the big tasks, like new windows or a complete insulation replacement in the attic, do what you can in other areas of the house. Tackle a few of these jobs each weekend, and you’ll be surprised at how much cozier your home is this winter.

1. Caulk and weatherstrip doors and windows that leak air.

You know what it’s like to stand in front of the door with cold air blowing on your toes from the crack under the door. Seal those door jambs and thresholds with weatherstripping. Also, pass your hand around the window frames and door frames. If you feel cool air, caulk the cracks to keep out the air

2. Install foam gaskets behind outlets and switch plates on the wall.

This is super easy to do, but it does take a little bit of time.  For just a few dollars, you can buy a large packet of foam gaskets to insulate behind your light switches and electrical outlets. Simply remove the center screw that holds in the faceplate, place the foam gasket in place, and replace the faceplate and screw. 

3. Install foam sealants on larger gaps on windows.

If you have larger cracks and gaps in the framing around your windows and doors, you may be better off using expanding foam to seal them up. Use this stuff carefully and always wear gloves while applying it.

4. Inspect insulation for mold and leaks.

When checking out the neglected corners of your house for air leaks, pay attention to the status of your insulation. If you have moldy insulation, you should replace it. Mold can make people very sick, and it’s an indication of dampness that can lead to rotten wood. Make sure there are no gaps or leaks in your insulation .

5. Cover or replace single-pane windows. If you seek replacement, install efficient double-pane windows instead.

While it can be expensive to replace the windows in your home, installing efficient double paned windows can save you big money over the years and keep your home more comfortable. The air space between double paned windows serves as insulation to allow light in, but keep cold air outside. If you can’t afford new windows at this time, using a window insulation kit or heavy insulated drapes can help keep winter drafts at bay.

6. Cover the kitchen exhaust fan when you are not using it.

The kitchen exhaust is like a huge chimney and can vent your indoor air if you don’t pay attention to it. You can cover this opening with a dishtowel using Velcro type attachments. However, it is very important to not forget to remove it before you turn on the fan. Also, don’t make the mistake of shoving an old rag in the opening. If someone doesn’t know about it or forgets to remove it before turning on the fan, the rag can be sucked up into the exhaust fan, completely ruining the appliance.

7. Seal air leaks around furnaces, chimneys, or water heater vents with fire resistant materials.

Be sure that when you insulate and seal around potential fire hazards that you use fire retardant materials. Places like chimneys, furnaces, and hot water heater vents can get very hot. Flammable materials could ignite in these places.

8. Check your dryer vent for any blockage.

While you’re checking around the dryer vent, you may want to make a quick inspection of the dryer vent. If the dryer vent is blocked this is a fire risk.. Also, your dryer will be very inefficient without maximum airflow.

9. Check attics, basements, and crawl spaces for air leaks before the winter begins.

Look around in the frequently overlooked areas of the home for cold air leaks. Attics, basements, and crawl spaces can be places where cool air can enter the home. Close the vents to crawl spaces to keep cool air out. Shine a flashlight in dim corners to ensure that rodents or other critters haven’t chewed holes in unexpected places. Seal up cracks with putty or caulk, and make sure the insulation in the attic hasn’t been disturbed.

10. Seal air leaks around any plumbing or electrical fixtures coming from the walls, floor, and ceiling. 

Any time an electrical or plumbing fixture enters the house, there’s a chance that the opening through the wall isn’t sealed well. Double check these areas, and use foam insulation or caulk to close up holes where cold air can invade. Look behind toilets, under sinks, where the refrigerator water line enters the house, and where the dryer vent exhausts to the outdoors.

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A Comprehensive Guide to Duct Cleaning

A Comprehensive Guide to Duct Cleaning

  • Cooling
  • Heating
duct cleaning

Does your home have an HVAC system? Then it’s important to perform regular duct cleaning to ensure the air flow into your home is as clean as possible. The system’s vents will get dusty over time, since dust particles are naturally drawn into the duct along with the air. By cleaning them thoroughly, you can reduce the amount of unwanted particulate in your household’s airflow. In addition, by keeping your air ducts clean, your HVAC system will be more energy-efficient, which will prevent your energy bills from rising. 

How to clean your air ducts yourself

Fortunately, you can do routine duct cleaning yourself. You’ll need a Phillips screwdriver; household cleaner; a cloth; warm, soapy water (optional); microfiber cleaning cloths; and a vacuum cleaner (preferably one with a HEPA filter) with a dust brush. You’ll also need protective eyeglasses, a face mask, and sturdy rubber gloves.

  • Turn off your HVAC system. Before starting, turn off your HVAC system. The last thing you want is for air to be blowing onto you while you’re trying to remove dust and debris from the vent. 
  • Remove the vent cover. Wall vent covers need to be unscrewed. Do this carefully to avoid damaging the wall. Some floor vents can simply be lifted up, while others also need to be unscrewed. 
  • Clean the vent cover. There’s likely dust caught in the vent cover; plus, it will feel greasy to the touch. You can clean it with a regular household cleaner and a cloth, or you can wash it in warm water and dish detergent. Always make sure to dry it carefully. 
  • If you have vent register filters, clean them. Some vents have filters installed to catch pet hairs or other things. If your vents have filters, remove the debris that’s built up, and clean them.
  • Vacuum the inside of the vent. Attach the dust brush to the vacuum cleaner and reach as far as you can inside the vent. Vacuum up all visible dust and debris.
  • Wipe the inside of the vent. Using a microfiber cleaning cloth and the household cleaner, wipe the inside of the vent as far as you can reach. 
  • Re-attach the vent cover. Carefully replace the vent cover. If it’s attached with screws, make sure they’re firmly screwed in place. 
  • Clean your HVAC system’s filter. To get the best performance from your HVAC and ensure the best indoor air quality, clean or replace your HVAC’s filter when you’ve finished cleaning your vents. 

Note that if you find any signs of mold infestations, pests, or damage to the inside of the ducts, you’re best advised to call your HVAC expert right away as these are issues you shouldn’t address yourself. 

Why you should still schedule professional duct cleaning

Keep in mind that it’s always a good idea to schedule professional duct cleaning and maintenance at least once a year. That way, your HVAC specialist can remove all dust and debris you might not be able to reach and at the same time, repair any damage that might be causing air leaks. And in the long run, whatever time, effort, and money you spend on duct cleaning is an investment in better indoor air quality—and that’s better for your and your family’s health. 

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What You Need to Know About Electrical Code Compliance

What You Need to Know About Electrical Code Compliance

  • Electrical
  • Miscellaneous
electrical code

If you’re upgrading your home’s electrical system or about to start a remodeling project, then it’s important to be aware of electrical code compliance requirements. Electrical codes are specifically designed to set a safety standard that minimizes the chances of injuries and property damage due to electrical shock, faults, or fires. In other words: While complying with electrical codes might seem like a hassle, it’s an investment in your and your family’s safety.

Of course, due to increased household power consumption and technological advancements, homes today have to meet a different set of requirements than homes that were built 20, 30, or 40 years ago. And although you won’t be required to upgrade your home’s old wiring just because it’s old, it’s a good idea to do it because it’s much, much safer. 

Once you start working on your home’s electrical system, it’s good to have a general overview of all applicable requirements. The following brief overview will provide you with a basic understanding of electrical code compliance. 

National and local codes

  • National codes: The National Electrical Code (NEC) describes all national codes for both commercial and residential wiring. 
  • Local codes: In addition to the NEC, there are also local codes that are determined by local building departments. Note that local codes can vary significantly between different municipalities.

General code requirements

  • Circuits: Existing circuits cannot be overloaded by the addition of a new service. Residential buildings generally have 120 volt circuits at 15 amps, with kitchen and utility areas having 20 amps. 
  • Wires: 15 amp circuits require 14-gauge wire, and 20 amp circuits require 12-gauge wire. 
  • Service panels: Service panels usually don’t require upgrading unless you’re adding a new circuit.
  • Cable: Non-metallic cable can generally be used unless the cable will be exposed, in which case conduit or armored cable will probably be needed. 
  • Fixtures, appliances, and receptacles: All fixtures, appliances, receptacles, and switches must be safely grounded. 
  • Boxes: Most municipalities allow plastic boxes, although there are some local codes that require metal boxes. 

Additional code requirements

In addition, there are also highly detailed electrical code requirements for each room in the home, as well as the home’s exterior. For example, pull chains for light activation are not allowed in many rooms including the bedroom, living room, and dining room. A kitchen with several appliances such as a dishwasher, garbage disposal, stove, refrigerator, and microwave may require those appliances to be on their own individual circuits. In the bathroom, all receptacles must be GFCI-protected and light fixtures must be moisture-proof. Exterior electrical receptacles and lighting must all have waterproof covers and fittings, and cable may not be exposed.

It should be clear that ensuring compliance with national and local electrical codes is both complicated and necessary. That’s why it’s always best to hire a qualified local electrician in the event your electrical system needs upgrading or expanding. He or she will be able to advise you on your best options and make sure that all the work that’s done is up to code. 

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Best Ways to Utilize Outdoor Lighting 

Best Ways to Utilize Outdoor Lighting 

  • Electrical
outdoor lighting

As we come up on the warmer months, one thing is certain: we’re going to be spending more time outdoors enjoying those idyllic summer nights. But it’s hard to enjoy those summer nights when you can hardly see anything. Proper outdoor lighting is key for maintaining a comfortable, enjoyable environment on your property after the sun goes down. 

But just like any home improvement project, there are right and wrong ways to utilize outdoor lighting. That’s why we’ve compiled a handy list of ways to get the most out of your outdoor lighting needs. 

Security Lighting 

More function over form, security lighting is to deter unwanted wildlife from your property and discourage would-be burglars. These types of lights are most effective when mounted high up on the side of a house or on a corner of a garage roof, and directed in such a way that the light would illuminate the furthest reaches of the property. 

These are most often motion-sensor lights that activate for a short time upon sensing motion within their given area, alerting you to any potential problems as they happen and saving money by not having extremely bright lights on at all times. 

Deck Lighting

Plan on spending a lot of time on the deck? You might consider looking into brightening it up. It’s typically standard voltage and acts as a way to illuminate the deck/steps to avoid falling in the dark. Strategically placed lights can double as accents for nearby garden fixtures.

LED deck lights are most effective when installed around the perimeter of the deck, along the stair railings, and in various high-traffic spots on the deck itself. 

Path Lights 

You went to the trouble of installing a beautiful stone pathway around your property. Show it off with some literal spotlighting. Path lights are exactly what they sound like: small plastic fixtures placed along a walkway that house LED lights. 

When installed along both sides of the walkway in question, path lights become a fashionable and functional addition to your home. They’re most often divided into two categories: low voltage and solar-powered. For your time and money, solar-powered ones may be the way to go. They charge during the day and are the embodiment of “set and forget.”

String Lighting 

An all-time classic. These quaint little strings of bulbs provide a warm, intimate environment that’s perfect for entertaining company or even just kicking back in the yard on a warm summer evening. And, when compared to other options, they’re extremely easy to put up and take down whenever you need them. String them up over your desired area and take them down at your convenience; no installation needed. 

There’s a lot of options out there for string lighting, but for outdoor solutions, you want to make sure your chosen product is waterproof; you’d hate for unexpected bad weather to torpedo your lights. Again, solar options are available that eliminate the need for long, unlightly extension cords draped across your yard.


More commonly referred to as spot lighting, up-lights are placed in the ground and directed up to direct attention to certain parts of your home, commonly plants, the deck, trees, the house itself, and more. 

Lighting taller objects like trees and the like should be done with bullet-shaped lights staked into the ground. Their adjustable head sits above ground and casts light over a longer distance, making the subject much more in-focus. 

Still hungry for more information on how to light up your property? Give us a call at North Shore. We’ve been Newburyport’s favorite provider for over 25 years. No one knows how to light up the night quite like us! Call today!

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Accessories to Consider for Your Automatic Backup Generator

Accessories to Consider for Your Automatic Backup Generator

  • Generators
  • Miscellaneous
generator accessories

Whether you’re in the shop for a new automatic backup generator or you’re a seasoned owner of a reliable, considering a few helpful accessories can save you from potential headache later down the line. Accessories that you’ll locate online will range from pure-maintenance use to pure-aesthetic purpose, so figuring out exactly what you desire/ are looking for in an accessory can be totally subjective to the buyer. We’ve laid out the most common accessories, dabbling in both the aesthetic and the practical, to try and help you pinpoint exactly what you may want to consider tacking on to your automatic standby generator purchase or grabbing to help your already-installed backup generator.

Extra Oil Filters

Clean oil is a crucial element to any well-maintained automatic generator. As time rolls on, your current filter will begin to dirty due to a variety of reasons that could honestly make up their own separate article. A dirty filter means bad news for your engine. At first the filter will be less and less effective at separating different contaminates from your engine that make their way into your oil. This can cause damage to the engine over a long period of time. When the filter gets dirty enough, it will become clogged and limit the oil that can get to your engine when it needs it. This can do serious damage to your backup generator and warrant extra cost for repair. 

Extra Air Filters

If it hasn’t become clear yet, the engine coupled in a backup generator is maintained very similarly to an automotive engine. You’ll see many of the same terms mentioned regarding both. When an air filter is blocked with contaminants, airflow and clean oxygen intake is decreased significantly. Without clean oxygen to mix with the fuel, your engine cannot use the gas you provide it as efficiently as it would like, and the engine begins to experience a significant amount of stress. This stress, over time, can cause unbeknownst damage to your generator. Having an extra air filter on hand means that you will be able to stay on top of generator maintenance instead of being purely reactive to issues when they come up.


These are purchased for more aesthetic reasons than any, but also provide some practicality. Purchasing some fascia that fits together around your unit will give it a sleeker, smoother look than the clunky, box-like look it most likely has now. This will allow your generator to look a lot more natural sitting in your yard with the rest of your landscape. For anyone, including small children, running around in your yard, fascia can prevent them from getting any nasty scrapes or wounds while passing by the corners of the generator during play.

Touch Up Paint

Despite how it may sound, touch up paint is in fact not used for aesthetic purposes. As much as we’d love to tell you that you can spray paint your generator that neon-green you’ve always wanted, touch up paint is actually used to prevent future corrosion on your generator. You simply spray it on current scratches and other signs of wear and tear on your generator, and the spray will prevent any corrosion from building up in those spots. This can be particularly useful for seasoned generator owners who haven’t checked for corrosion in their generator yet, and need a quick way to stop it from growing or prevent any more from happening.

Maintenance Kits

For any standby generator, and to a much larger extent any engine in general, routine maintenance is a must. The consensus for maintenance on a standby automatic generator is at least once a year. Exposure to the outer elements, dust, or even salty air can cause long-term issues with your generator if not maintained properly. Luckily, many generator suppliers, including Generac, offer maintenance kits that make your generator upkeep as easy as possible.

Most commonly a maintenance kit will include:

  •         Fresh oil that is compatible with your generator
  •         A new oil filter to replace the old one in your system
  •         A new air filter to replace the old one as well
  •         A pre-cleaner
  •         An oil funnel
  •         New spark plugs
  •         Chamois
  •         A reminder sticker

All of these items are essential for that yearly tune-up that your generator requires. Kits are priced around the $50-$100 range depending on the make and model of your generator as well as the contents of the kit.

Cold Weather Kits

If the temperature surrounding your generator regularly dips below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, it may be in your best interest to consider a cold weather kit. Colder climates can affect everything in your generator from the oil itself to the battery. The longevity of your generator, as well as the efficiency at which it runs is put at serious risk in cold temperatures.

Most cold weather kits include:

  •         Fresh oil
  •         An automatic battery warmer
  •         A crankcase oil heater
  •         An automatic thermostat that functions in tandem with the crankcase and battery warmer

In cold/sub-zero temperatures your battery longevity is reduced and your oil becomes more Jello-like than smooth liquid. Getting the warmers attached to your generator will help prevent these detriments while keeping your generator healthy and functioning. All of these accessories can be found at most generator providers’ websites, including Generac’s!

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7 Factors to Consider Before a GFCI Installation

7 Factors to Consider Before a GFCI Installation

  • Electrical
  • Miscellaneous
gfci installation

Many people don’t understand how electric circuits work, and the equipment used to protect your family from an electric shock or fire. This is done through a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI), which is one of the most important pieces of equipment in a home that can save your life. For any areas that have both water and electricity, a GFCI is a must, and is required by law according to the National Electric Code (NEC).

What does a GFCI do?

A GFCI detects any irregular current flows and shuts off the power before things become serious. Without a GFCI, there is a heightened risk, putting you and your family at risk. Without a GFCI in place, property values are lowered due to the high risk of electrical issues being present. There are three main advantages to having GFCI outlets:

  • Preventing Shock

GFCI outlets prevent electrocution and shock. The built-in sensor monitors the change in electric flow and will shut down when there is a problem. Although a little more expensive than standard outlets, it is well worth the cost.

  • Preventing Fire

GFCI outlets detect ground faults. This aids in preventing electrical fires. Coupled with the assistance of electrical fuses, the likelihood of an electrical fire occurring is very slim.

  • Prevention of Appliance Damage

As time passes, there are instances where electric currents can damage certain appliances within home. This is one reason why computer hard disk drives fail or shut down. When using a GFCI, when leaks are detected, the circuit will shut down. This helps protect your appliances and equipment from being damaged.

What is the difference between a GFCI and a circuit breaker?

Circuit breakers are designed to protect an electrical circuit from damage caused by overload or short circuiting. It can be reset automatically or manually to continue operation. They are designed in a number of sizes – consider it a mechanical fuse. A GFCI senses a leak in the circuit, usually before the circuit break. Although both interrupt electrical shortages, the GFCI is more sensitive, identifying other places that have water usage.

Where should you install a GFCI?

Before installing a GFCI, it is best to know where it should be placed. Because GFCIs detect electrical currents near water, it should be installed in an area that is subject to moisture. This includes bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, garages, and other places where moisture can collect.

How do you test a GFCI?

If you have a GFCI that was installed prior to 2006, you need to test it with a circuit tester. You plug it into the outlet and push the test button. If the power goes off, the GFCI is still working. Pressing the reset button will restore power. If the power does not go off, that means the GFCI is no longer working. Newer GFCIs give you an automatic warning when they are no longer working, and the power will shut off on its own. This indicates it needs to be replaced.

How does a GFCI differ from an AFCI?

An Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) outlet is designed to recognize arc faults, which are in the wiring. A GFCI protects people from electric shock. Faulty wiring in arc-faults can be a result of humidity or heat, extended mechanical or voltage stress, or age. When wires become damaged by nails or other punctures, animal bites, or bent wires that cause cord damage, this can result in arc-faults.

How do you use a temporary GFCI?

A temporary GFCI is used to provide electricity for areas that need temporary use. This is done by installing a GFCI breaker that should be tested on a weekly basis to ensure there are no hazards that could cause electric shock or fire. There are certain rules to follow for temporary installation, and additional guidelines to be followed for installation removal.

When can you use temporary GFCIs?

You can use temporary GFCIs when you have certain activities going on that require electricity, but can be removed after completion of the purpose. This includes remodeling, demolition of buildings, developmental work, emergencies, tests, decorative lighting for events, and other instances where temporary electrical power is needed. Temporary GFCI installation has time limits on the amount of time it can be used, based on the use. Portable GFCI devices are also widely used on job sites, for portable generators, vending machines and more.

Knowing these seven factors on how and why GFCIs are important can provide peace of mind, knowing the risk has been lessened and will keep your family comfortable and safe. Now you are aware of what is required, whether installing yourself or using a contractor. This will assist in making sure your home is protected the right way.

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Never Lose Power Again With an Automatic Standby Generator

Never Lose Power Again With an Automatic Standby Generator

  • Generators

Many things can affect power in your home. While many people simply rely on the power company to remedy the problem in a timely manner, there are others that prefer to take it into their own hands. Sometimes, the power company can get the power back on quickly but what happens if they can’t? You can bypass this possibility by having a standby generator for your home just in case anything like this occurs.

Pains of Not Having a Working Generator

You never know when the power will go out and without a standby generator, you will open yourself up to many different pains that can only get worse with time. Without a generator, you will have no power in your home, you will lose air conditioning in the summer and heating in the winter, and you may even lose all of your food in the refrigerator and freezer if the power is off long enough. It will be difficult to walk around your home at night because you will not have any lights that you can turn on. You can use a flashlight or candles if you have them but even that can be a pain. One thing that loss of power effects is the water in your home. Many people do not consider this but without power, your water pump cannot work. This results in an inability to flush toilets in the home, inability to use a shower or bath, and inability to even wash your hands or dishes in the sink. All of these pains result in more stress. The longer power is off, the worse these things become and the more stressed you are as a result.

Benefits of Having a Working Automatic Generator

When you do have an automatic standby generator, you have something that can help you avoid all of these pains. It serves as automatic emergency power should you ever need it. By providing emergency power, it gives many other benefits to the users such as lights to use within the home when needed, use of the air conditioner or heater so you can be comfortable, preservation of your food within the home, and even continuous use of the water in your home. You will not have to wait to use the water until the main power source comes back on which means you can freely use the restroom or take a shower as needed. Essentially, you can go about your day as if nothing has happened even if your main power source is not functioning correctly. This brings you more peace of mind and less stress overall. 

Features of a Working Generator

Having a working generator is beneficial as long as you get one that is reliable. Before you purchase the first one you find, you need to make sure it has some key features. You do not want to waste money on a system that in inefficient for your home.

Size and Placement

The first thing you want to consider is the size of the system. You want to make sure that it is big enough to power your home should you need it. Additionally, you need to consider the space you need for the generator and make sure you have the space for it in your home. The best way to do this is to have a technician come out to and conduct the measurements for you.

Power Source

A backup generator needs to be powered by something and there are several different fuel types available. These are some of the most common ones as well as what you can expect while using them:

  • Gasoline – Gas is an in-expensive fuel option that is easy to obtain. It is also highly flammable and can only be stored for a year before going bad so it is not always the best option. 
  • Diesel – Diesel is very common because it is highly efficient, just as easy to acquire as gas, and can be stored for 1.5 to 2 years. It is slightly more expensive, however.
  • Natural Gas – With natural gas, you have to have a gas hookup at your home. However, this also eliminates the need for storing fuel because you will have it as long as it is hooked up.
  • Propane – Propane is a popular option because it can be stored indefinitely. Generators that use this fuel as a source burn through more fuel, though so it is not ideal for a big system.


In order to continue working properly, generators need to have maintenance on them periodically. This is an additional responsibility and cost you will need to plan for. When searching for the right generator, you need to take note of the maintenance schedule so you can understand what is expected of you as the homeowner.

Brands of Generators

When you are shopping for a working generator for your home, you will find that there are many different brands of generators available in the marketplace. While the basic idea is the same for all generators, there are benefits of choosing specific brands. Some will offer warranties, others will offer rebates. You will want to research these brands prior to buying to make sure you get a quality generator. A good way to research them is by looking at reviews online for the different brands. 

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