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8 Options for Natural Cleaning Products

Need a shortcut to improving the quality of your indoor air? It all starts with the type of cleaning products you use. If you’re cleaning your home with products that include harsh chemicals, you could unwittingly be unleashing toxic fumes and residue throughout your household. But if you switch to cleaning products manufactured with non-toxic and biodegradable ingredients, you’ll be creating a safer, healthier living space for your entire family — and helping the environment as well.

There’s no shortage of natural cleaning products and alternatives on the market these days, so we’ve compiled a list of eight of our favorites to help you get started. (PS: If you need help getting the family on board or creating a cleaning schedule, we’ve got you covered there, too.)

Green Works All Purpose Cleaning Spray

You’ll need an all-purpose cleaner in your arsenal of natural products, and this offering from Green Works is a solid choice. Savvy brand shoppers may already know that Green Works is owned by Clorox; however, this line of cleaning products is created without the same manufactured chemicals as its parent brand. Instead, Green Works uses essential oils and coconut-based cleansing ingredients to help cut through grease and dissolve all types of messes.

Seventh Generation Disinfecting Bathroom Cleaner

Along with an all-purpose cleaner, you’re going to want a natural cleaner to tackle some of your bathroom’s more specific needs, like pesky mold and bacteria on sinks and showers. This offering from Seventh Generation utilizes essential oils to help disinfect and deodorize naturally, without the nasty fumes you’d get from regular bathroom cleaners. (They also offer multiple types of liquid laundry detergent and chlorine-free bleach if you’re looking to cut the chemicals out of your laundry!)

Better Life Natural Toilet Bowl Cleaner

When it comes to cleaning your toilet, most of us look for something a little stronger than a standard bathroom cleaner — but unfortunately, “stronger” typically means corrosive chemicals and bleaching agents. Better Life’s toilet bowl cleaner, by comparison, isn’t dangerous for children and pets, plus it’s biodegradable, derived from plant materials, and safe for septic systems. Whatever makes cleaning the toilet a safer practice is good by us!

Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid Soap

“Face, body, hair — food, dishes, mopping, pets — the best for human, home and Earth!” says Dr. Bronner’s company website, and though it might seem impossible that one natural soap is that multi-purpose, Dr. Bronner has the formula down pat — and in eight different non-toxic scents, to boot. Take note of their dilution cheat sheet — you’re going to want to make sure you mix only as much soap with water as you need for the task at hand.

Method Hand Wash

If you’re looking for a more affordable natural hand soap option, the Method brand is available in stores such as Walmart or Target, and they offer a wide array of different soaps to keep your hands clean and bacteria-free. According to The Good Trade, Method’s founders “have truly set the standard for any company aiming to be sustainable” by incorporating environment-friendly practices such as using renewable energy, making the packaging eco-friendly, and launching a biodiesel shipping program.

Breathe Aerosols

We place a lot of importance on air quality — household and otherwise — for a reason: if the air is full of invisible fumes and chemicals, it could be making you and your family sick. That’s why the Breathe line of natural aerosols is a top choice — their website notes that their product is the first aerosol cleaning line with 100% of ingredients meeting the EPAs Safer Choice criteria, and their aerosols are not made with the typical liquefied petroleum gas. Their furniture and stainless steel polishes should be what you’re reaching for if you’re doing a deep clean in your dining room.

Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Room Fresheners

Air fresheners are often where you’ll find problematic aerosols — do you really want strange chemicals and toxins floating around in the air you’re breathing indoors? Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day sells natural air freshening sprays in non-aerosol bottles to keep rooms fresh, so you don’t have to worry about your family inhaling something they shouldn’t. Bonus: The company also sells all-natural candles.

Vinegar

Think you have to spend a lot of money on organic cleaning products? Surprise: one of the most effective all-natural cleaners is probably already in your pantry! White vinegar — often combined with lemon juice and other infusions in order to take the edge off the sharp smell — is an incredibly cheap and effective way to make your own natural household cleaner.

Check out The Kitchn’s tutorial on how to make lemon-thyme vinegar cleaner, good for any surface except marble. Or, if you’re not the DIY type, The Strategist recommends White House Foods Cleaning Vinegar, which comes with a lavender scent.

Keep Clean Without Chemicals

Although it may seem like the cheaper and quicker way to get your house clean, choosing chemical-filled cleaning products can be worse for you — and the environment — in the long run. With so many natural cleaners to choose from, you’ll definitely be able to find what you need within your budget — and you might be amazed at how effective they are at keeping your home clean and toxin-free.

Be sure to follow the Bob Jenson blog for tips on improving household air quality, updates on the HVAC industry, and all other related topics!

How to Get the Whole Family on Board with Household Cleaning

Here on the Bob Jenson blog, we’ve talked regularly about the importance of keeping your home clean and dust-free and how those initiatives positively impact air quality and, in turn, the health of you and your family. However, household cleaning shouldn’t be the responsibility of any single person — maintaining good air quality is a task best tackled by your family as a team.

So what do you do when members of your family aren’t motivated to stay tidy, or when the kids start complaining about having to clean?

It’s easy for everyone to make excuses — what you have to do, as captain of Team Clean, is to transform cleaning the house into something that your family starts to enjoy conquering together. Here are a few ways how to do this:

Make a Chore List Together

Before you start putting together a cleaning schedule or shopping for cleaning products, you’re going to want to determine what needs to be cleaned around the house, and how often. To start, take a look at some of the biggest problem zones: bathrooms, playrooms, and kitchens are frequently in need of a good tidying up.

Next, determine who should be responsible for which cleaning chores. For example, you don’t want kids taking care of anything with cleaning chemicals or changing out the air filters, but they’re definitely capable of putting away their toys or dusting low shelves!

Once you’ve made your chore list, you’ll be ready for the next step: creating a chore chart.

Sort Out the Chore Chart

This is an effective way to keep families on track, especially those with young children. Put together a cleaning schedule in the form of a chart with columns for tasks, how often the cleaning needs to be done, when cleaning should happen, and who should be responsible. Depending on your household, it might even be valuable to have two different charts separated out by age-appropriate cleaning tasks: one for teens and adults, and one for the little ones.

Put the charts up somewhere visible like the kitchen fridge so nobody can miss them. You could even try making it more fun by using bright colors or stickers — Molly Maid has got some great, colorful chore chart templates, and the team at Bob Jenson has created a printable cleaning schedule just for this purpose.

Change It Up

Nobody’s going to want to do the exact same cleaning chores every week, so consider rotating different family members through the specified tasks. As you roll out the chores for the first few weeks, you might also find that one member of the family isn’t very effective at cleaning the bathroom, while another member drags their heels when it comes to vacuuming. Switch them around and see if you don’t get better results.

When you start playing to your family’s strengths, everyone wins — and there’ll be much less complaining as well.

Have Family Check-ins

Whether you’ve got a large or small family, it’s smart to have semi-regular check-ins to see how everyone’s feeling about their assigned cleaning tasks. You may have to reorganize the chore chart based on what dates and times work better for individual schedules, or you could let family members discuss which tasks they’d like to take on.

As The Happier Homemaker notes, this is also the perfect time to reinforce the general cleanup rules of the household, such as reminding children that they’ll lose their toy privileges for a certain amount of time if they don’t pick up after themselves as they go.

Be a Good Example

It should go without saying that you will be taking part in the cleaning tasks as well. However, it’s also smart to make your own everyday behavior a good example and let your family members see you putting away your own dishes or filing away the magazines you’ve just read.

Kids in particular definitely learn from what they see, and there’s a good chance that they might start naturally start cleaning their own messes because they see you doing it. Leading by example can go a long way in a short period of time!

Keep Clean and Have Fun

Getting your family to share household cleaning tasks doesn’t have to be an uphill battle — in fact, it’s a great way to promote teamwork and communication. Having a clean home will benefit your entire family when it comes to better air quality. Remember: don’t be afraid to divvy up cleaning chores — getting everyone involved helps build a stronger appreciation for a tidy living space.

Be sure to follow along with us here at the Bob Jenson blog for more useful household cleaning tips and tricks, and contact us if you have any questions or issues with your HVAC system.

Infographic: A Spring Cleaning Schedule for 2019

Refining Your Cleaning Routine

A new year brings with it the opportunity for fresh starts and healthier habits.

Because many people focus on common resolutions like losing weight or exercising more to help boost their well-being, it’s easy to overlook one of the most important things you could be doing to enhance your life. Committing to a regular cleaning schedule not only frees you from the clutter and mess associated with higher levels of stress, but it also improves your everyday air quality.

Air quality in your home, office, and other indoor spaces is more important than you might think. Something as simple as an overload of dust or pet dander can lead to headaches, respiratory irritation, allergies, and even chronic fatigue.

A quick and simple structured cleaning schedule eliminates those nasty contaminants. Let 2019 be the year you discover a happier, more energetic you.

When you approach cleaning armed with a well-planned cleaning schedule, you’ll find that it’s much easier to stay on top of those crucial chores that contribute to a better quality of life. That means fewer weekends spent overhauling your entire home when you’d rather be spending time with the family.

Furthermore, as your tidying strategy beings to spruce up your home, you’ll notice other benefits beyond better air quality. Your home will seem more spacious thanks to limited clutter, you won’t spin into a cleaning frenzy when unexpected visitors turn up on your doorstep, and you may even find that your HVAC and air filters last longer, too!

Want to breathe easy this year? Check out the infographic below for an easy-to-follow, printable cleaning schedule.

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Download and Print:

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A Cleaning Schedule for the New Year

Your tired and you can’t get rid of that nasty cough. Or is it the flu? (We certainly hope not.) We’ve all been there. Feeling under the weather is no fun, and what’s even less fun is wondering if the air quality in your home could be holding you back from regaining your health.

When you start off the new year with an effective cleaning schedule, you’re setting your entire family up for healthier living and enforcing strong habits. You’d be shocked how much of a difference weekly dusting and regular carpet cleaning can make!

Here are some tips for creating a schedule that works for you (while improving the air quality in your home).

Weekly Themed Schedule

Some tasks should be done every week. Make it easy to remember what you’re working on each day by creating a theme. If you’re lucky, it might also make it easier to get your kids on board with helping. Here are some samples to inspire your own daily cleaning themes:

Moppin’ Monday: Give your hardwood floors and carpets a good cleaning every Monday. After a weekend of outdoor play or family gatherings, it’s good to rid of the dirt that was tracked inside.

Toss It Tuesday: Take out the garbage, clean out your fridge, and go through your mail on Tuesday. The less clutter you have, the easier it is to wipe down surfaces and keep them dust free.

Wiping Wednesday: It’s time to wipe down your tables, counters, TVs, bathrooms, and doorknobs. You’ll get rid of germs and dust in a single swoop; don’t forget to reach behind picture frames and other spots where dust can sneakily collect.

Thorough Clean Thursday: You should reserve at least one day for projects that take a bit more time. Does your bathtub need a detailed grout clean? Is the dust beginning to show on your crown molding? Schedule one of these projects per week so they’re less daunting than trying to tackle them all at once.

Folding Friday: Clean your sheets, towels, and laundry once a week. You’ll definitely want to wash hand towels that are used by multiple people throughout the week – you’d be surprised how many germs your freshly washed hands can still leave behind! Get everything folded and sorted so you start the weekend with this task behind you.

Monthly Cleaning Chores

Other cleaning jobs are just as important but don’t need to happen every day or week. Dedicate a half-day once a month to the following cleaning projects:

Quarterly Upkeep

Every 3 to 4 months, you should roll up your sleeves and take care of some deep cleaning. Dust and debris can collect in the most random of places, and a quarterly deep clean ensures that you’re not missing any blind spots. Check these cleaning items off your list about four times a year:

  • Wash your comforter and pillows
  • Clean shower curtains and liners
  • Clean the inside of your oven and dishwasher
  • Give your refrigerator and freezer a thorough cleaning
  • Vacuum out the fireplace
  • Shampoo your carpets

Maintaining a regular cleaning schedule means fewer scrambles to clean everything at once, less stress, and improved air quality. Maintaining a dust-free home with clean air vents means the air quality that’s circulating won’t be filled with dirt — not only will you impress your guests with a floor that’s clean enough to eat off of, but your airways will thank you, too.

Want to keep up with all of the ways to keep your home’s air supply clean and your surfaces tidy? Follow the Bob Jenson blog for the latest news on home air quality, HVAC repairs, and more.

4 Causes of Hot or Cold Spots In Your Home

Conquer Differing Temperatures in Your Home

Do you have a room that always feels hot — or one that is much draftier than the others in your home? Your house should have a uniform room temperature throughout, which is why it can be frustrating to find that certain areas feel warmer or colder than they should be.

No matter what time of year you notice disparate temperatures, you should investigate the problem as soon as you find it — it could end up saving you a ton of money on your heating or air conditioning, not to mention you won’t have to randomly bundle up (or take off some layers) in particular rooms! Identifying what’s causing this issue can help you get back to an ideal temperature in no time.

Here are a few of the most common causes of hot or cold spots, and what you can do to fix them or prevent them from happening:

Why Hot or Cold Spots Are Happening

Although we’ve heard plenty of spooky stories about ghosts causing cold spots, the real causes are far less supernatural. The same goes for hot spots. They’re both due to certain flaws that are happening within the home’s heating and cooling systems, which also include the windows, the insulation, and more.

These flaws could include:

  1. Your HVAC is too large or too small for your home. Whether your home is old or new, it’s worth taking a look to see if your HVAC unit is the right size to heat and cool it properly. A small HVAC in a large house would be working ineffectively, and a large HVAC in a small house would struggle to properly dehumidify.

    Either way, it’s a recipe for inconsistency and can wreak havoc on how humid or dry your home feels. You should get an expert’s consultation on exactly what size HVAC system your home needs— particularly if you’ve been renovating and adding on units.
  1. The air ducts might not be working properly. If your home’s air ducts have holes or cracks, they could be letting warm or cool air escape. Also, this means your HVAC has to work even harder, since faulty air ducts — even if they’re simply loose or not connected correctly — can lose up to 40% of your heated or cooled air.

    Dirty air ducts are another issue, as debris that’s built up within the ducts can affect air flow from room to room. In this case, you can clean or replace the duct filters yourself, or call in a professional to take care of it. A professional can also assess if there are any cracks in your ducts — again, you can seal those yourself, but it’s a smarter move to have an expert fix them, especially since it can save you from more damage down the line.
  1. Your home has an insulation problem. Since ductwork is typically made of metal, it needs to be insulated to ensure that it can carry the warm or cool air further away from the HVAC unit. If the pipes aren’t properly insulated — or if they aren’t insulated at all — this can cause random hot or cold spots as the temperature leaks. It’s also an issue if you have exposed ducts in areas like basements or attics.

    A trained professional can take a look at all areas of your home and note where there should be more insulation around the ductwork — and they can also check to see if your windows and doors need stronger seals to prevent drafty leaks.
  1. You need better zoning. If you’ve got a large home, it may be difficult for your HVAC’s output to reach every single area. This is where zoning comes in: It allows you to set different temperatures for different rooms, which is especially handy when the heat rises within a multi-level home.

    Setting the temperature from room to room can also save money on your heating and cooling bills. And it allows everyone to choose how warm or cool they’d like their bedroom to be! A similar solution is to go ductless, which will give you an even higher level of customization.

Get the Right Fix

You shouldn’t have to live with hot or cold spots in your home, particularly when it’s an annoyance that could also be costing you money. Although it could be as small an issue as a dirty duct filter, it could be something as serious as an embattled HVAC straining itself to service a larger home.

Whatever the problem may be, contact Bob Jenson for an evaluation and consultation — we’ll make sure you’re not too hot and not too cold, but just right!

4 Home Decorating Tips for Better Air Quality

Home Decorating for Health?

As a homeowner, you want your home to be a relaxing, comfortable environment for you and your loved ones to enjoy. We often think of interior decorating and home decor selections as a way to achieve those goals. But did you know that many of the decisions you make when it comes to your home can also enhance — or compromise — your health?

Everything from the type of decor you choose to liven up your rooms to the way you manage your cleaning routine can affect the quality of air in your home. Today we’ll be exploring some of the choices you can make to support improved air quality.

Here are five ways to ensure your house supports not only your desired aesthetic but your health, too:

1. Go Green

First, can you name a natural detoxifier that will purify air while also being nice to look at? If you guessed “plants,” you are absolutely correct. Studies done by NASA revealed that plants can filter harmful toxins that cause negative health effects like headaches and nausea.

Some plants are more effective at improving air quality than others. For instance, the spider plant (chlorophytum) removes approximately 90% of chemicals from the air, according to the aforementioned NASA study. Alternatively, the peace lily (staphiphyllum) is easy to care for, and it can reduce the humidity in your rooms — perfect for getting rid of dry noses.

NASA recommends one plant for every 100 square feet of real estate. To keep your plants thriving, be sure you care for them properly. Soil must be kept free from sugars and exposure to liquids other than water; this will help eliminate flies. Vegetated plants with white speckled leaves require plenty of light. Each plant comes with its own care instructions, and you should do your best to follow them.

2. Upgrade to a “Smart” Thermostat

Want a cutting-edge, modern look for your home? A smart thermostat brings a unique edge to your décor. These systems are sleekly designed, and they provide plenty of helpful information about your home’s humidity and air quality.

Smart thermostats make life more convenient by allowing you to adjust your heating and cooling from your smartphone. What’s more, the system can learn from your typical behavior patterns and turn systems off and on as it predicts you’ll need them. Lastly, smart thermostats provide handy data about your AC filter status, so you’ll never miss a routine change again.

3. Rethink the Ordinary

A clean home is a standard most of us try to meet — few things offer more peace of mind than a spotless, dust-free abode. There are benefits beyond that, though. For example, a regular dusting schedule can eliminate dust and irritants from the air, thus protecting your lungs, reducing your risk of allergies, and helping respiratory issues like asthma.

Here are some suggestions for transforming your home in ways you may have overlooked:

  • Get rid of clutter. A simple, minimalist look for your home can be a great way to draw attention to visual focal points, like a stunning fireplace or a family portrait on the wall. What’s more, less clutter means fewer places for dust to gather.
  • Replace curtains with blinds. Although blinds require regular cleaning just like curtains do, soft furnishings can be a serious magnet for dust. Switching to dust-resistant shades and cleaning them regularly with a damp cloth will boost your air quality in no time.
  • Swap carpets for hardwood floor or laminate. Eliminating carpets might seem like a big step, but hardwood floors are both stylish and much easier to clean. Whereas your carpeted floors can cling to dust even after a vacuum, your hardwood floors will be clean with just a quick mopping.

Always remember to replace your furnace and air conditioning filters regularly as part of your monthly routine. Filters prevent dust from blowing throughout the home and undoing all your hard work.

4. Opt for Natural Scents

Cans of air freshener and bulky plug-in devices can diminish the impact of your interior décor efforts. What’s more, many of these devices are filled with chemicals and VOCs that damage air quality. It may take some creativity, but you can absolutely enjoy an amazing-smelling home without compromising on air quality.

Try making a DIY air freshener with a diffuser and some essential oils, or add bunches of fresh herbs or flowers around the house. Also, consider investing in an up-to-date air purifier. The latest models are sleek and attractive — just like your smart thermostat! — and they’ll help eliminate odors, dust, and other pollutants.

Improving Home Style and Air Quality

Creating a beautiful home for yourself and your family isn’t just about choosing the right paint colors and color schemes. For a happier and healthier life, it pays to implement an interior design strategy that will provide a literal breath of fresh air.

Just remember that the tips above are meant as an enhancement to a proper HVAC strategy, as using the right heating and cooling system has the strongest, long-lasting impact on the way air circulates around your home. Reach out to Bob Jenson for advice on how to achieve the best indoor air quality possible.

5 Mistakes San Diego Homeowners Make in Spring

Outta Site, Outta Mind.

As winter turns to spring, homeowners start thinking about spring cleaning and home maintenance. Most of us have the basics covered, and it’s easy to remember the tasks that are in plain sight — but, have you thought of the things you can’t easily see?

The air quality in your home isn’t a visible aspect, and many of the causes of poor air quality are easy to overlook or ignore, until it’s too late. Here are some of the most common springtime maintenance mistakes that San Diego homeowners make — and how you can avoid them this season.

1. Not Replacing Your HVAC Filters

Replacing your HVAC filters is usually quick and easy, but many homeowners forget to do it regularly. A dirty filter forces your HVAC system to work harder and use more energy. It also allows more dust and other allergens to remain in your home.

Set yourself a reminder to change the filters at least every 90 days, and possibly more often during times of heavy use, like the summer season.

2. Neglecting to Check Seals on Doors and Windows

The transition from winter to spring comes with changing temperatures and an increase of moisture in the air — both of which can affect the seals on your doors and windows. If the entryways of your home are letting air leak through, your HVAC system will have to work that much harder to control the temperature and air quality of your home. This can result in an unexpectedly ugly energy bill towards the end of the spring and summer.

Check to make sure your seals are in good condition and aren’t letting drafts in or out of your home. Minimizing air leaks allows your HVAC system to work more efficiently. Reinforcing and replacing seals are relatively simple tasks, but they can make a big difference.

3. Failing to Clean Mattresses and Pillows

You wash most of your bedding regularly, but remember that your mattress and pillows get dirty, too. Dust mites and other allergens can build up and over time, this negatively affects the air quality in your bedroom. Since you spend a significant portion of your time in close contact with your mattress and pillows, this is a critical oversight. Be sure to add these two items to your spring cleaning list.

Most pillows (with the exception of those made from a foam material) can be put in your washing machine; but you should refer to the care instructions on your own pillows to learn how to clean them correctly. Once they are clean, you also can use anti-allergen pillowcases that zip around the pillow and help repel allergens. Anti-allergen mattress pads also are available.

While your mattress obviously isn’t machine-washable, you can use your vacuum cleaner’s upholstery tool to remove dust near the surface. Check the manufacturer instructions for your mattress to see what kinds of cleaners you can use to remove stains and disinfect the surface without doing any damage.

4. Forgetting to Dust Fans and Vents

It’s easy to remember to dust objects at eye level, but don’t forget to look up! If dust has built up on your ceiling fans and air vents — which have been sitting dormant during the winter months — you’ll be in for a nasty surprise when you turn them on and all that dust blows around the room.

The brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner is a great tool for this task. Remember to do this before you clean the rest of the room, so any dust that may fall during the process isn’t landing on surfaces you just cleaned.

5. Skipping Your Annual HVAC Maintenance Check

This is a big one, because skipping your annual HVAC checkup can become very costly and inconvenient. Just because you don’t see or hear anything unusual when you run your air conditioner doesn’t mean everything is fine. Regular preventive maintenance is necessary to keep your HVAC running smoothly and identify any potential problems before they become emergencies.

It’s best to schedule your annual maintenance for the early spring, before it’s hot enough to turn on your air conditioning. Your HVAC professional will clean and inspect your unit(s) and recommend any necessary repairs. This reduces the chance that your unit will break during the spring and summer, leaving you in a swelteringly hot house with a large repair bill coming.

It’s also a good idea to have your air ducts checked and cleaned to eliminate dust, mold, and other problems that lead to poor air quality in your home.

This spring, contact the experts at Bob Jenson to schedule your annual HVAC inspection and maintenance before it becomes necessary to run your air conditioning. Make the call now, so you can stay cool later.

5 Home Improvement Highlights from Our Blog

Spreading Some HVAC Knowhow

Since 1977, Bob Jenson A/C has consistently delivered top-notch customer service, equipment installation, and system repairs in the greater San Diego area.

Forty years of experience has taught our dedicated team a thing or two about the ins and outs of home improvement. With that experience, comes a great responsibility: passing on the knowledge we’ve gained to benefit homeowners everywhere. When it comes to property upkeep, you don’t have to be an expert in every facet of home maintenance; you just have to know where to look to find the answers you need.

Through our dedicated blog, we strive to provide the comprehensive and practical answers our customers are looking for. Here are 5 of our favorite home improvement tips, featuring expert advice from our most recent blog posts:

1. Do HVAC Systems Increase Home Values?

If you’ve been thinking about impactful ways to increase your property value, this article is for you. This post is designed to help you decide whether an HVAC upgrade is worth the investment for your home. We specify what factors to consider, such as how often you should replace current HVAC models, and to what extent an upgrade can truly add value to your home. The post covers the cost saving incentives — both at the onset of homeownership, and when selling your property.

2. Home Buying Checklist

Purchasing a new home (or investment property) comes with an overwhelming number of things to consider — the least of which is how the home looks from the outside. This article guides you through the key questions to ask before you buy a home. Some of these questions will have an incredibly large impact on whether you say yes or no to the property. Plumbing, electrical systems, and basement problems are just a few of the many issues we cover in this blog post. With these tips, prospective homeowners can buy with confidence and address problems efficiently as they arise.

3. Sustainable Home Solutions [Infographic]

Families are faced with more decisions than ever when it comes to energy efficiency; and it’s hard to tell which “green” solutions will have the biggest influence on your home’s sustainability. We are always on the lookout for ways to reduce energy waste, through everything from improving indoor air quality to upgrading energy-draining appliances. Check out our stunning infographic detailing the four most impactful ways to maintain and improve your sustainable home.

4. Effective Insulation for Any Situation

One of the most important (and energy efficient) decisions a new homeowner can make is the choice of insulation for the attic. If you weren’t previously aware that there are different types of insulation, now is your chance to learn about them. From Batt Insulation to spray-on insulation, and everything in between, this blog post outlines what to expect from each insulation type — as well as which conditions each one performs best in. Selecting the right insulation will have a long-term impact on the efficiency of your home, and the cost of your energy bills.

5. Water Heater Q&A

Having trouble getting consistent hot water throughout your home? Hearing strange noises coming from your water heater? Our helpful Q&A provides the most common answers the age-old question: why does my water heater do that?

If you’ve ever noticed a bad odor or strange color in your water supply, this is the blog post you must read. With the average American spending one-third of his or her annual income on home improvement, it pays to understand what your water troubles may indicate — and whether you need to call a professional or not.

At Bob Jenson A/C, our aim is not only to provide affordable, safe, and efficient installation services; but to also offer informative guidance and advice to our customers. These five home improvement posts just scratch the surface of our expertise. Make sure to follow our blog for current advice from our experts, and don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have a specific question.

Will Upgrading Your HVAC Increase Home Value?

Factors to Consider

Though it may not be the first feature you think about when preparing your home for sale, your HVAC system is an intrinsic component of your home. Whether it’s keeping you cool during the summer, warming your family throughout the winter, or providing crucial ventilation, HVAC equipment impacts not only the comfort levels within a property, but also the value of the residence. Many experts agree that upgrading your HVAC system could be enough to increase the chances of selling your home faster — particularly in certain geographical locations.

Although estimating the value of a home requires a great deal of investigation into various factors, including the size of the home, and the various amenities that make a property attractive — the quality of your central air system could be pivotal in giving your real estate a better shot in the market. Research suggests that homes with high-efficiency HVAC systems and dual-pane windows generate a 5.8% higher selling price compared to similar properties that lack those features. In other words, it’s a factor you can’t afford to ignore.

These days, when a potential buyer views your property, they expect that certain systems will be well-maintained and in good condition. If you don’t have a reliable HVAC system installed, that aspect alone could be enough to send interested viewers running. After all, if you consider the stress involved in moving to a new home, then add on the cost and trouble of installing a new HVAC system, you can see the deterrent that you’re placing on your home sale.

Usually, it’s a good idea to consider replacing your HVAC system if it is more than ten years old — but try to avoid simply swapping the unit for another standard model. Opting for a higher-quality, energy efficient model will assist with lowering energy costs, and give you an extra selling point when it comes to increasing your property value. Keep in mind that there are also numerous components that you can add to a HVAC system in order to improve efficiency and performance. A professional HVAC technician can install for instance, improved compressors, a variable-speed blower, and other aspects, so that you have more to brag about when potential buyers come looking.

Upgrading Your HVAC Delivers Savings

Most real-estate professionals advise that failing to replace an out-of-date HVAC system isn’t something you can simply get away with. When it comes to having your property inspected for sale, an old HVAC system will undoubtedly raise flags, and failing to upgrade could prevent buyers from making an offer on your property. In other words, upgrading your HVAC system isn’t just about improving the value of your home, it’s essential to making sure you can find interested buyers in the first place. Without a reliable HVAC, buyers are more likely to ask you to lower your price, or search elsewhere for a different property.

When upgrading your HVAC system, it’s worth looking into newer, more energy efficient models wherever possible. Being able to offer residents a lower energy bill can be a huge factor in persuading them to buy your property, as many residents are beginning to consider the long-term costs of powering their home. After all, heating bills make up about one-third of our annual utility costs, and swapping to an energy-efficient furnace can cut down those bills by up to 20%.

At the same time, it is possible to experience tax breaks if you decide to invest in a new, more energy-efficient unit. Certain states provide tax benefits to people who choose to purchase energy-saving appliances and home improvements, meaning that you’ll have more money to invest in your future.

Enhancing Your Home’s Value

Just as with any addition to a home, It’s important to remember that certain HVAC upgrades and improvements are likely to sell more successfully in particularly geographical areas. For instance, a heat pump may be appealing in the desert, whereas solar heat is more likely to pay for itself in San Diego, where the sun appears to be constantly shining.

In spite of this, the evidence suggests that no matter where you live, having a fully-functional and dependable HVAC system installed is an essential part of cementing your home’s value. Though an upgrade may seem like a significant investment, it could be everything you need to get that all-important sale.

New Home Buying: What to Check

Things to Check Before You Buy a New Home

Buying a new home can be both a nerve-racking and exhilarating experience. With all those emotions filling you at once, it can become all too easy to focus on the big back yard and open foyer. However, focusing too much on the aesthetics often causes home buyers to forget about the functional parts of the home. This mistake could cost you heaps of money in the future as well as pose health hazards if you decide to move into the home without addressing its issues.

While you should always have a professional inspector examine the house before you close on it, you can make a better decision of which home to purchase if you spot issues during your house showing. Keep these systems in mind when deciding whether or not to move forward with a sale.

Signs of Water in the Basement

Water in the basement can pose several risks. For one, moist, dark basements are the perfect environment to foster mold growth, which can cause illness in family members, especially those who are already sensitive to air quality, such as people with asthma. Second, water that travels along structural elements, such as in the ceiling or exposed beams in the basement, can weaken the structure of your home.

During your house showing, sniff for musty odors in the basement, and look for signs of water leakage, which can include:

  • Damp walls
  • Rotting wood
  • Mold
  • Water stains
  • Standing water

There can be many causes of a damp basement, including a poor foundation, damaged pipes, or improper gutter installation. Be sure to identify the cause before you move in so you know how much repairs will cost and can determine if the house is still worth buying.

Damage to the HVAC System

When you move into your new home, it’s important that the HVAC system is in proper working order. Without a working system, you could end up with heat stroke if you’re moving in during the summer, or you’ll be extra chilly if you’re moving during winter. Not only that, but if you have to replace the entire system, you’re looking at spending an extra $2,300 – $4,900 for a brand new unit.

Start by making sure the model and capacity are the right size for your home. If it’s not, you’ll end up expending more energy than you need to and/or feeling uncomfortable in your own home. Generally, you’ll want to have a professional inspect the system to ensure it’s working properly.

Issues with the Plumbing

If a pipe springs a link, your family can be in big trouble as this can cause mold growth and structural damage to the home. If all of that is already present before you buy the house, you’ll want to weigh the costs and benefits of having to make repairs once you move in. Be sure to turn on the faucets to check the water pressure and how well the water drains down the pipes. Also make sure you look for signs of leaks around sinks and tubs. If a pipe is leaking, you may notice mildew, sagging floors, water stains, or in some cases, standing water.

Problems with the Electrical System

While the realtor might flip on lights for you as you pass through the home, you’ll want to inspect the electrical system closer than just determining whether you get power to the rooms or not. For example, find the breaker box to assess how easy it is to access and whether it’s in good condition or not. You’ll also want to keep an eye out for power outlets to make sure the home has enough. This is a step many new home buyers forget, but choosing a home with enough outlets for your needs will prevent you from having to call someone in to install new ones.

Inspecting a home’s systems now for damages and necessary repairs can help you make a better decision on which home to buy. If you do find areas of concern, pointing this issues out can help you negotiate a lower price and prepare you for future home repair costs. However, it’s always a good idea to hire a home inspector before closing on the house to get a professional opinion.

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