Archive for January, 2018

How to Fix a Frozen Pipe Leak in Your Home

January 31, 2018

Cold winter temperatures can stress our home’s systems, from HVAC and electrical to plumbing. But during extreme cold, there is a particular headache that homeowners can face: frozen pipes.

Actually, the frozen pipe itself isn’t usually the biggest concern; it’s the water leaks that can come after water starts flowing again. The best way to manage water leaks is through prevention. However, if you do find yourself experiencing a water leak, following these steps will get your plumbing back in order.

1. Turn off the water supply

The first step is to stop water from running into your home. It’s important that you always know the location of the main shut off to your home or, at the very least, how to stop the water at the meter. Once the flow inside has been stopped, you’ll only have to worry about what remains in your pipes.

If you notice any electrical sparking or outages, turn off the electricity to the affected area using your home’s fuse box or breaker panel. Always be careful around water and electricity.

Pro tip: If you don’t know where your shut off valve is located, you can call your local water department or fire department and they will cut your water off for you.

2. Call a licensed plumber

A plumbing professional will fix the leak and drain off any remaining water from your pipes, making sure nothing else in your home gets wet or damaged. If you suspect some pipes may still be frozen, ask your plumber to help thaw them out. Be sure to talk with your plumber to discuss the best ways to prevent freezing in the future.

Pro tip: Common places to protect against freezing include foundation vents and unprotected water lines.

3. Take pictures and document all damages

If you need to file a claim with your insurance company, you’ll want photos of affected areas before doing any cleanup. Walk through your home and document any places you notice a water leak and take photos of the damage. Note any furniture or other items that have also been affected or damaged. Don’t throw anything away until the insurance adjuster has seen it.

Pro tip: Make sure to look up! Look at the ceilings around your house and take note of any water stains or bulging. You can also ask your plumbing professional to help identify and remedy any hidden leaks.

4. Dry the area as quickly as possible

Use mops and sponges to sop up standing water (old newspapers are also a great tool for soaking up puddles). Move wet items out of the room to dry and pull up any wet carpet or rugs. Use fans and dehumidifiers to create as much air circulation as possible around the area of the leak. The goal is to dry things out quickly to prevent mold and mildew from growing in your home. If it isn’t too cold and wet outside, open windows to increase airflow.

Pro tip: Do not circulate hot air. It can induce bacteria growth and encourage mold and mildew to show up more quickly.

5. Call your insurance company if a large area was affected

Water leaks are one of the most common sources of homeowner insurance claims. Most homeowners policies will cover the damage but not the actual broken pipe (be sure to review your policy). Prepare your photos and documentation so you can easily share them with your insurance company when filing your claim.

6. Contact a remediation company, if needed

Most work with a variety of insurance companies. Your plumber or insurance company may even have a favorite they’ll recommend to you.

Water can be one of the most destructive forces in a home. The sooner you can take action on a leak, the less you’ll have to worry about potential damage.

10 Best Uses of Amazon Alexa in Your Home

January 24, 2018

10 Best Uses of Amazon Alexa in Your Home

Amazon’s Echo with built-in Alexa was on our list of top holiday gifts for good reason. Tens of millions of Alexa devices have been sold worldwide and the Echo Dot was the most popular product during the 2017 holiday season.

If you were one of the lucky people to have an Echo wrapped for you under the tree, here are some of the most fun and useful ways to make Alexa work for you.

1. Listen to almost any song, on demand

Alexa works with almost all the most popular music streaming services. If you choose to go with Amazon’s Prime Music offering, Alexa even responds to specific requests for music genre, mood, era and can even search by lyrics.

Hosting an 80’s-themed party? Ask Alexa to play 80’s pop. Need to relax after work? Ask Alexa to play some chill music. You can even use your Echo as a sound machine to help you fall asleep.

Try this: “Alexa, play classic rock, please.”

2. Get the daily news and weather

Arguably Alexa’s most-used feature, any Echo device will give you daily updates or weather reports on command. It’s as simple as asking “Alexa, what’s the weather in Nashville today?”

Customized Flash Briefings will also help you start your morning right. Select from popular news outlets or see which of your favorite publications has added their own feed, then ask Alexa for your flash briefing when you wake up.

Try this: Open your phone’s Alexa app and navigate to Settings > Flash Briefing, then select Get more Flash Briefing content. From there, search or select your favorite feeds. Then say, “Alexa, what’s my flash briefing?”

3. Listen to your favorite books 

The first major online bookseller (Amazon) has more than a few best-sellers in its library. If you’re an Audible member or have purchased audio books on Amazon, Alexa can play anything in your library with a simple voice command. It will even keep track of where you leave off so you can listen later on your drive to work.

Alexa can also use text-to-speech technology to read many of the Kindle books sold on Amazon. The only downside is that instead of a human narrator, your book will be read back in Alexa’s robotic voice.

Try this: “Alexa, play the Kindle book [title], please.”

4. Set your smart thermostat 

The days of using your hands to set your thermostat are behind you now. If you happen to have another one of the items featured in our gift guide — the Ecobee — you can ask Alexa to change your home’s temperature at any time.

Try this: “Alexa, set the temperature to 72, please.”

5. Control other smart home gadgets, including your lights

Since the days of the clapper, we’ve all dreamed of controlling the lights in our house on command. With Alexa and some smart lightbulbs, today it’s possible.

After installing smart LED bulbs that can connect to WiFi, or a smart hub that’s compatible with Alexa, you can use your voice to turn on the kitchen lights, dim the living room lights, or even turn your office green.

Try this: “Alexa, dim the living room lights to 50 percent, please.”

6. Manage security systems and cameras

If you’ve ever woke up in the middle of the night wondering if you locked the back door, Alexa can help you avoid leaving your warm covers.

Alexa pairs with many alarm systems, allowing you to arm and disarm your system with a voice command. Even better, some companies pair with smart locks to check the status of a door sensor, or even lock your doors (garage door included). That’s peace of mind.

Try this: “Alexa, ask [alarm company] if the alarm is armed, please.”

7. Control your Amazon Fire TV with voice commands

Through pairing your Echo to a Fire TV, you can search for and play television shows or movies on any supported app. You can even control playback, pausing, rewinding and resuming all using your voice. And when you’re ready to switch it off, just ask Alexa to turn off your Fire TV.

Try this: “Alexa, find home improvement shows on Hulu, please.”

8. Call friends

Alexa’s new calling and messaging feature allows you to call almost any number in the U.S. from your Echo device. And if your friends have an Echo, you can call them there, as well. Just sync your contacts list using your phone’s Alexa app and all of them become instantly Echo-reachable. With Alexa, you can talk hands-free anytime you want.

Try this: “Alexa, call dad’s office, please.” Or if you need to call to schedule a service, you can just say “Alexa, call Lee Company, please.”

9. Set up routines

Want lights dimmed to a certain level, the weather forecast and a traffic report when you wake up? Alexa now lets you bundle commands into a single request. We were going to make a joke about asking Alexa to make your coffee, but then we found out connected coffee makers exist. Now you can get your caffeine fix ready before you even walk into the kitchen!

Try this: Open your phone’s Alexa app and navigate to Settings > Routines. Choose your phrase and select which actions you want Alexa to take. Then say, “Alexa, start my day.”

10. Find new features

Alexa is always adding new skills. A simple voice command will help you keep up.

Try this: “Alexa, what new features do you have?”

How to best use your car’s HVAC system and save time in the morning

January 17, 2018

How to best use your car's HVAC system

For all of us, there are big questions that remain unanswered for too long. Thankfully, the Internet provides guidance when we need to immediately know the origin of the Twinkie or the health benefits of black tea. But what about the times our phones aren’t accessible for a quick search – namely, these cold winter mornings when we’re behind the wheel, late for work and can’t see out the windshield?

Fear not! We have your car heating questions answered, so you don’t have to suffer through any more half-defrosted windows when you’re already behind schedule. To protect you and everyone else on the road, we compiled all the tips in one place, so you can read them safely in the comfort of your home. Enjoy.

The fastest way your HVAC can defrost your windows and the science behind it

We investigated nearly every possible scenario to properly address this question, and found the answer in science. To defrost your windows most quickly, use both your car heater and a DIY melting spray.

First, your heater settings. You’ll want to do four things:

  • Turn climate control to the hottest setting
  • Turn on the A/C
  • Make sure recirculation is disabled
  • Turn fan to full blast

We know, three of those four make complete sense. But why would we turn on the A/C? Well, the trick is to remove excess moisture from inside the car so that the windows don’t fog up as they’re warming. That moisture will just freeze again or cloud your view as you’re driving. Warm air can hold more moisture than cold air, so we want to get things warm as quickly as possible. And our cars’ A/C systems run air through an evaporator that removes moisture as it passes through, ensuring that we’re bringing the driest air possible through our vents.

Next, we use some science to quickly get the ice off the outside. The recipe for our melting spray is a simple mix of two ingredients — 1 part water to 2 parts rubbing alcohol. Put the mixture in a spray bottle and have it ready for the next cold morning. Alcohol has a freezing temperature of -128 degrees Fahrenheit, so when it comes into contact with ice, it immediately begins to melt it.

Combine those two methods and you’ll be ice-free in no time at all.

What that recirculation button really does

Only use your recirculation button in the winter if you want your windows to fog up inside the car. The recirculation setting is really meant for summertime, to save your A/C from having to cool hot summer air. Recirculating air in the winter also recirculates moisture from you and your passengers, trapping humidity inside of the car. As we learned above, cold air can hold less moisture than warm air, so we end up with lots of fog.

Save recirculation for the summer.

Save gas and skip “warming your engine”

If your car was built in the last couple decades, its engine is ready to run after about a minute of running, even on the coldest days. Let it idle beyond that, and you’re wasting fuel. In the days of carbureted engines, running them for 10 minutes prevented stalling, but today’s cars don’t need to wait.

A best practice is to let it run for as long as it takes to scrape any ice off the windows – no more than 5 minutes – and then start driving slowly (slamming on the gas will add wear to the engine). Cars actually warm faster when they’re being driven, rather than running idle. After 5 to 15 minutes of normal driving, your engine will be warm.

The future is looking warm

Automotive climate control systems are getting more advanced every year. Teslas today can even be warmed in advance using an app. But until everything is electronically controlled, it’s helpful to know how to use your car’s HVAC to save fuel and time.

 

We’re Always Here When You Need Us

January 05, 2018

We're always here when you need us

Boy, is it cold outside!

The frigid temps have led to a very busy week for our call center and technicians here at Lee Company, and we want you to know we’re always here when you need help. Here is a quick reminder that you have a number of options when you need to get in touch with us.

1. Customer Portal

If you’re a returning customer and do not need a same day appointment, the newest and best way to schedule your service is our online Customer Portal. On the portal, you can request service and book appointments online, whenever it’s convenient, 24/7. Once scheduled, you can even track the status of your service requests — getting updates on the Lee Company technician scheduled to come to your home.

Access the Customer Portal here.

2. Get a Call Back

Giving top-notch care to every customer takes time during weather like this, so we’ve tried to make it easy if you ever find yourself waiting. If you call in and all our representatives are helping other customers, simply press 1 and we’ll give you a call back when it’s your turn in line.

You won’t lose your spot and you won’t have to keep the phone glued to your ear. We call that a win-win.

3. Online Chat

Don’t feel like picking up the phone? Our website has a live chat tool that lets you get your questions answered anytime. In the bottom-right corner of any page on the Lee Company website (including this one), you’ll see a Chat Now button. Click the arrow on right side of the button, enter your name, and you’re ready to chat.

We know that these bitter temperatures can wreak havoc on even the sturdiest HVAC and plumbing systems, which is why we’re committed to doing the best we can to serve every customer in need. Thank you for your patience as we work to take care of you, our wonderful customers!

Chat with Lee Company  Have a Question? Chat Now.