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Preventative, Water

Preparing your Home for Winter 

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Winter! It’s never too early to start thinking about the winter months and how you can be prepared in the event that we have a snowfall that rivals 1017. A lot of customers were caught off-guard for the amount of snowfall we had here in Central Oregon. Here are a few preparation tips you can use to be ready.

1. Invest in Weather Stripping:

Weather stripping is a good way to help seal warm air in and cold air out of your home and is available in almost any hardware stores, weather stripping installs quickly around windows and doors. Before winter arrives, check the following parts of your home for leaks or drafts:
  • Windows
  • Doors
  • Vents and fans
  • Plumbing areas
  • Air conditioners
  • Mail chutes
  • Electrical and gas lines
 

2. Clean your Gutters:

Clear gutters help drain water away from your roof and your house. If they’re clogged however, especially in colder months, they’re more apt to freeze, causing additional blockages. Blocked gutters can allow melting ice and snow to seep into your roof, or flood your home’s foundation, causing water damage both on the exterior and interior of your home. If it’s safe to do so, take some time before winter hits and clear out your gutters, or work with a trusted roofing professional to have your gutters cleaned.

3. Evaluate your roof to prevent ice dams

While a roofing professional is cleaning the gutters, see if he or she can evaluate your roof for ice dams too. In cold weather, heat escaping your home can melt and refreeze ice and snow on your roof, leading to ice dams. These block off drains, and let water and ice continually build up on your roof – and possibly under it – weakening your roof and putting your home at risk. To help prevent ice dams:
  • Insulate your attic – Your attic should have plenty of insulation to prevent too much heat transfer from your living areas to the attic. Check parts of the attic that may not be well insulated, like:
    • Pipes and vents
    • Chimney systems
    • Light fixtures
  • Ventilate your attic – If your attic wasn’t built with a ventilation system, contact a trusted professional or contractor about ventilating your attic before winter. Proper ventilation allows cold air into the attic, while the insulation seals heat in your living areas. This can help prevent warm air from melting ice on the roof, leading to possible damage.

4. Buy a roof rake to keep snow from building up

An average roof can handle up to four feet of fresh snow before it’s stressed. However, as snow packs down from multiple storms, could cause a roof collapse! If you expect a lot of snow this winter, invest in a roof rake. It can help you easily remove the snow and protect your home during those blizzard months.

5. Prune trees around the house

If there are long tree branches hanging near your house, your roof, or your gutters, prune them before it gets too cold. Branches broken from heavy snow and ice can cause all kinds of damage to your home. A few hours with the pruner now could save you thousands of dollars in damages later this winter.

6. Protect pipes from freezing

  • Don’t turn the heat down too much when you’re out of the house. You may not be there to enjoy it, but your pipes need the heat to prevent freezing.
  • Let faucets drip during serious cold snaps to provide relief for your pipes.
  • Give your home a once over for any exposed or vulnerable piping, and wrap them with insulation. Hardware stores usually carry foam rubber or fiberglass sleeves for pipes, which are easy to install. Caulk up cracks or holes in your walls to keep cold air away from pipes. This might not be practical for the average homeowner, so speak to a trusted contractor.
  • If your pipes do freeze, and water stops flowing from faucets, call a plumber immediately!
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Cleaning, Water
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Storm, Water

According to the insurance company Chubb, homeowners are more likely to experience water damage during the winter than any other time of year.

“In the wintertime, the water in the pipes gets cold; it freezes,” Jim Magliaro, Risk Consulting Technical Leader at Chubb says. “Water goes everywhere.” Insulate your pipes. You can buy simple insulation for about 25 cents a foot. Replace rubber hoses. Check your washing machine to make sure the hoses aren’t rubber. Steel-braided hoses are inexpensive, costing about $10 each. Know how to shut off the valve under your sink. “Once a week, you look under the sink and you look for any puddles of water and move your hand along the pipes to see if there are any leaks,” Magliaro said. If there are, shut off the valve. Check for puddles behind your refrigerator. Many refrigerator leaks are due to the water line that feeds the refrigerator. Magliaro suggests you pull your refrigerator out once a month and look for puddles behind it. Know how to shut off your water main. With the holidays approaching, many of us are leaving for vacation or visiting family. Experts say if you’re heading out of town, you should shut off your water main. It’s an easy way to prevent major leaks or bursts while you’re away. The main water shutoff valve is usually located at the point where the main water line enters the home. In homes with basements, it is usually in the basement. In homes that are on a crawl space or slab, it can be in the garage (if one exists), in a first-floor utility closet, or, in many Southern climates, outside of the home.
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Preventative, Water

Should I Have My Water Tested?

The answer to this question depends on several factors. It concerns your health and the health of your family, so you need to know some basic facts. In addition to illness, a variety of less serious problems such as taste, color, odor and staining of clothes or fixtures are signs of possible water quality problems. Other things to think about include the nearness of your water well to septic systems and the composition of your home’s plumbing materials. This fact sheet provides information to help you decide whether or not to have your water tested, and if so, suggested tests for your situation.

Public Water Systems

When you turn on the tap, where does the water come from? If you pay a water bill, you are purchasing water from a public water system, where your water is monitored, tested and the results reported to the federal, state or tribal drinking water agencies responsible for making sure it meets the National Primary Drinking Water Standards. Your water company must notify you when contaminants are in the water they provide that may cause illness or other problems. Most people in the United States receive water from a community water system that provides its customers with an annual water quality report, also known as a Consumer Confidence Report. Normally, you will receive it with your water bill once a year in July. The report contains information on contaminants found, possible health effects, and the water’s source. If you do not receive a report, contact your water company for this information.

Private Water Supplies

If your drinking water does not come from a public water system, or you get your drinking water from a household well, you alone are responsible for assuring that it is safe. For this reason, routine testing for a few of the most common contaminants is highly recommended. Even if you currently have a safe, pure water supply, regular testing can be valuable because it establishes a record of water quality. This record is helpful in solving any future problems and in obtaining compensation if someone damages your water supply.

The following items will help you determine when to test your private drinking water supply.

How frequently should I test? Test water every year for total coliform bacteria, nitrates, total dissolved solids and pH levels, especially if you have a new well, or have replaced or repaired pipes, pumps or the well casing. Do you expect to have a new baby in the household? Test for nitrate in the early months of a pregnancy, before bringing an infant home, and again during the first six months of the baby’s life. It is best to test for nitrate during the spring or summer following a rainy period. Do you have taste, odor and staining issues? Test for sulfate, chloride, iron, manganese, hardness and corrosion, and every three years. If you suspect other contaminants, test for these also. Have you had a chemical or fuel spill or leak near your water supply? Test your well for chemical contaminants, such as volatile organic compounds. Tests can be expensive; limit them to possible problems specific to your situation. Local experts can tell you about possible impurities in your area. Do you notice a change in water taste, odor, color or clarity? You may need to test more than once a year. Do you know who can test your water? Often county health departments will help you test for bacteria or nitrates. If not, you can have your water tested by a state certified laboratory. You can find one in your area by calling the Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800-426-4791 or visiting www.epa.gov/safewater/labs.
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Storm, Uncategorized, Water

 

“With the heavy snowfall we got last week, added to the heavy rain we’re expecting, the potential for impactful flooding is high,”

If you lived in northwest Oregon in 1996, this week’s weather and the forecast of what’s to come may feel ominously familiar. In late January of 1996, just like last week, heavy snowfall blanketed the region. Then a week-long cold snap set in, just like it did over the past few days. In the first week of February 1996, an atmospheric river of moisture took aim at the state, bringing with it warm temperatures that melted the snow, and catastrophic flooding quickly followed suit. On Saturday, the National Weather Service said a similar atmospheric river — the meteorological term for a warm, moisture-rich storm system — was headed our way so it appeared that all the pieces were in place for a repeat. “With the heavy snowfall we got last week, added to the heavy rain we’re expecting, the potential for impactful flooding is high,” Will Ahue, a meteorologist with the weather service, said Saturday. Unlike 1996, however, the region’s largest rivers — the Willamette and the Columbia — aren’t predicted to surpass flood stage and, weather being as unpredictable as it is, no one is sure yet exactly where the jet stream will make landfall and exactly how much rain it will drop. *** When the rains came in early February of 1996, they were carried on a warm jet stream from the tropics. That warm air sent snow levels soaring and accelerated snowmelt in the mountains. The mix of rain and snowmelt inundated nearly every body of water in the region and sent rivers to flood stage and beyond in a matter of hours. Eighteen of Oregon’s 36 counties were declared disaster areas as Corvallis, Oregon City, Portland and other communities along the Willamette River were overwhelmed with water at levels not seen since the Christmas Floods of 1964. At least eight people were killed, including an 8-year-old girl who drowned when she slipped into a culvert on her way to collect mail at her home in Scio. Another 21,000 were evacuated. In Oregon City, the river flowed at such a torrent that Willamette Falls all but disappeared in the deluge. Water lapped at the sidewalks of RiverPlace in Southwest Portland and came within inches of cresting the harbor wall in downtown. Some 40,000 sandbags and 600 plywood boards were deployed along the river in what came to be known as “Vera’s Wall” after then-mayor Vera Katz. The flooding was severe enough that President Bill Clinton visited Portland in the aftermath and commended the efforts of its citizens in helping fend off the flood from downtown. “If you look at this wall behind us, it seems to me that it is a symbol of what our country does when everybody pulls together and works together and forgets about their differences and focuses their attention and their hearts and their minds,” he said. Read More Here: Potential Flooding to Hit Portland, Oregon
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Uncategorized, Water
It can happen to anyone — just that one time you forget to protect your home’s plumbing system from freezing, and wake up to flooding in your home. Make sure you avoid the hassle and expense that frozen pipes can bring by using these tips: Keep water moving: Water that’s moving will freeze at a lower temperature than water that’s still. Even minimal movement of water through your pipes can prevent them from freezing, so leave one faucet dripping a bit during a hard freeze. Plumbers recommend turning on the faucet that’s farthest from the main water feed into your home. Don’t turn off the heat: If you plan to be away from home for a few days while there’s a chance of sub-freezing temperatures, set your thermostat to no lower than 65 degrees. Turn off outdoor faucets: Disconnect garden hoses and make sure that no water is left inside the faucets or in any exposed part of the pipes running to it. You can also place covers on outdoor faucets. Open cabinet doors: Allow warmer air to circulate around the pipes under your sinks by leaving cabinet doors open. This is especially important if pipes are located near an exterior wall. Add insulation: Insulation is a simple and relatively inexpensive way to protect your pipes. Foam tubes for this purpose are readily available in hardware and home-improvement stores. Use insulation on pipes that are near exterior walls or windows or in unheated garages and basements, which are the most vulnerable to freezing. Locate the shut-off valve: You don’t want to be frantically searching for your shut-off valve if you do have an emergency. Make sure you know where it is and that it’s fully operational before potential problems arise. Keep your plumbing system in good condition: A leak may be your first clue that a pipe is susceptible to bursting. Have a professional plumber inspect your plumbing and repair any problems right away. What if a pipe has already frozen? If a freeze does catch you by surprise or you believe you have a frozen pipe, shut off the water to your house first. If you can easily access the pipe, a blow dryer (not a blow torch) aimed at the frozen spot is one way to thaw it safely, but only if you don’t have to stand in water to do so. If a pipe has burst and you have flooding, move any items in your home to a higher level, but don’t risk harming yourself by wading too long in freezing water. Call on a qualified professional. The best way to ensure that your plumbing system is properly protected from freezing is to contact a professional plumbing contractor. At Contractor Connection, we’ve already verified that each of the plumbing contractors in our network have the experience, licensing and insurance to take care of all of your plumbing needs. If you’d like to get in touch with a contractor, contact us at 541-385-0752.
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Storm, Water

A Monster Image for a Monster Storm

This week, Haiti, the Bahamas, and Florida have begun to experience the wrath of Hurricane Matthew. With strong winds and rain, Matthew has caused a serious amount of destruction to everything in his path leaving people injured and homes lost. Hurricane Matthew is a monster storm and now has a monster image to match.
The image of Hurricane Matthew, which to many resembles a human skull, has lit up the Internet. The creepy satellite photo was posted Tuesday by Weather Channel senior meteorologist, Stu Ostro. The image was taken just as the hurricane made landfall in Haiti.
The image shows the hurricane through an infrared camera lens. Vibrant colors have been used to highlight the eye of the storm. Clouds also resemble teeth, creating similarities to the comic book character Ghost Rider or the Grinch,  some Twitter users suggested.
It does leave viewers with creepy feeling, that’s for sure. CNN meteorologist Judson Jones explains that “Basically, Scientists use color tables to identify the strongest part of the storm.”
For Hurricane Matthew updates visit weather.com for the most up to date information.
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