Tuesday, December 10, 2013

"If only homeowners had crystal balls to see into the future to know how they would feel after they call a contractor.  We want customers to look back on experiences with us as helpful and satisfying, and to know we'll be ready in the future to provide help or just good advice (check the web site's Helpful Hints section). "

I thought of that after we got a wonderful review from a customer on Yelp.  Part of what we try to do is take the stress out of having work done. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Get the LED out.

We're suddenly seeing a lot of new and less expensive LED bulbs on the shelves.  These can no be used almost anywhere.
They give the same amount of light as the old bulbs but use 1/6th of the power.  And they can last over 20 years.
Since the prices have dropped dramatically, you'll start to find everyone switching over.
The 2 key questions to remember:
  1. How much light doe the bulb make?  Your guide is the 'equivalent watts' number.  The LED bulb that is a 65 watt-equivalent means it's about the same as a 65 watt bulb (but only uses 9 watts).  You save on energy and heat output (important in the summer)..
  2. What color is the light?  The typical incandescent bulb color is rated as about 2700° K(elvin) The warm color is what you get if you heat an incandescent bulb's tungsten filament to 2700°K.  That's best for household lighting.  Fluorescent and some LED bulbs are often 3000° or 3500° for white and sun-light.  That's too white for normal use.  Look for the 2700° warm white LED bulbs.
Here's a NY Times article on LED bulbs.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Storm Sandy anniversary

I don't think you celebrate the anniversary of a natural calamity like Storm Sandy!
Remembering it is a good idea.  Learning from it is better.
It made life difficult for everyone.  Perhaps it also made us appreciate all the 'normal' things we take for granted every day.
Do you have a plan or stragegy for what to do if the power is out for just 6 or 12 hours now? 
What if it was a snow storm with 20° temperatures?

 "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail."

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

From our web site:

Bulbs and Broken bulbs

Bulbs come in different sizes, shapes, colors, brightness and longevity.  Some bulbs are interchangeable, some are not.  Here's how to make some bright decisions:
  • Buy name brand bulbs.  Off-brand bulbs may have the same wattage (watts say how much electricity it uses) but will not be the same brightness.  We've solved more than one lighting problem by simply having the customer use good bulbs.  Examples:  GE, Philips, Sylvania, Westinghouse.
  • If you change a burned out bulb and it still doesn't work, try a bulb from a working fixture.  If it doesn't work, be sure the bulb works when you put it................................

    A lot more info follows on CFL and LED bulbs also.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Penny wise, pound foolish

I don't know if it's because more homes are selling now, but we're getting more calls about home inspections where there's been improper, unsafe work done in the house.
Of course it could have been done before the current owner bought the house, but then usually the problems are listed in that old home inspection report.

"Oh, I had a neighbor friend help" or "the carpenter(/handyman/painter) said he could do it, no problem".
Well, it does become a problem when you're under pressure to sell your house and the work, time and expense to correct jeopardizes the closing.

Remember that a shortcut today can come back and haunt you when you least want it. 
And don't loose sight of the big picture: safety for your house and family.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Talk about no a/c, that's not just a bunch of hot air!

The customer said the a/c had stopped and the service people couldn't get there.  After going through a few things over the phone, we went there within 3 hours.
Long story short:  dirty air filter!
With a clogged filter, today's smart systems know there' a problem.  The a/c coils were all iced over and the system kept the fan off to protect the motor.
With a cleaned air filter, a couple of hours of running the fan to warm and evaporate the ice frozen on the coils (futher restricting air flow), and the system was back in action.\

Another case of letting cooler heads prevail.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

No fan of the heat?

The heat of the summer always makes persons think of trying to stay cooler.
Roof fans are a common way to help keep homes cooler (and lower a/c costs).
(Attic fan background info)
To add or repair a fan means working in the attic, so it has to be done in the morning when it's cooler.
By the way, the roof and attic get hot from the sun.   An overcast 95 degree day may not trigger the roof fan's thermostat (usually set for 110 degrees).  But a clear, sunny 80 degree day can result in a hot attic and the fan will turn on.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Turning a page in A-1 history

We've got a new web site with all new page styles and access.
Designed by Marielle Hampton with coaching from the sidelines.
It should be much easier to view and use.
The helpful hints pages have been updated a bit as well.
Feedback is appreciated: what you like, what you don't like, mistakes you see.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

"What you see is what you get" - what about what you don't see?

A few recent situations we've encountered:
==>  The home sale inspection said there were open wire connections in the attic.  Occasionally, we'll go to a house with one or two of these.  This house 18 recessed lights with over 20 open connections in the attic.  Maybe they thought sparks would be cooled as they traveled through the open air!
I guess they didn't understand why the lights have built-in junction boxes.  And if a wire is too short, just patch on another short piece. 
Of course, this means there can be a lot of other issues to be uncovered.

==>  Ugly installations of generators and their hardware.  The contractor won't have to look at it once they leave, so how important is that anyway?

==>  Penny wise, pound foolish.  We've seen some work done that kept the cost down by doing the minimum.  It sometimes takes just a bit more (10%) to get a much better (50%) installation with better value and return on investment.

Work on your home should be done with your needs in mind.  Both for now and for in the future.


Saturday, May 18, 2013

Since Storm Sandy, there's been a lot of talk, and questions about generators.
This link takes you to our Helpful Hints page section about generators:
and this link is for a  more general overview:

A significant part of what we do is make sure the job gets done as quickly and smoothly as possible.
There can be issues with the permit process and gas supply and also questions about the aesthetics.
We've seen other contractor installations sit for months because the process and work were not handled well.
We've even seen their customers go through a utility power outage and yet they could only look at the their generator sitting quietly doing nothing since the job was waiting and waiting to be completed.
And don't get us started on what some contractors consider 'acceptable' looks.

Our goal is to make the installation go smoothly and be stress-free for everyone.