What Every Homeowner Should Look for in a Home Contractor Roger Odoardi This is a guest post by Heritage PHCE Perhaps you’ve just purchased your first home, recently moved from another locale or are looking forward to getting a Massachusetts mortgage, New Hampshire mortgage, or any New England state mortgage in the not-too-distant future. If so, congratulations! Of course, along with the joy and satisfaction of purchasing a home comes a certain amount of stress and an ever-present sense of responsibility. And one of the chief concerns for every homeowner is the ongoing need to make sure that all of your household mechanical systems keep running smoothly. As a longtime family business built on the idea of treating customers like family and taking care of each home as if it were our own, we take a unique approach to helping to ease the stress that all homeowners share. That means sharing our 30-plus years of expertise on our website by posting helpful advice on how to address common heating, cooling, plumbing or electrical problems and help your systems run as dependably and efficiently as possible. Below are just a few examples of how we provide troubleshooting advice for homeowners. Air Conditioning A broken air conditioning system can be extremely frustrating, especially since they most often seem to break down when the weather is scorching hot. Problem: My air conditioner isn’t cooling effectively Potential Causes/Solutions: Possible causes include refrigerant that is low or leaking, thermostat issues, a clogged drain or a dirty filter. You can and should regularly change your filter (every 6-9 months for high-quality 4-inch-thick filters; as often as every 30 days for cheaper 1-inch filters). You can also check to make sure your condensate drain line is not clogged, and check your thermostat to make sure it is set properly and is reading the correct temperature. Issues involving refrigerant are best handled by an HVAC professional because EPA certification is required. This air conditioning resource page offers additional insights into possible causes if your AC is not working at all, if your system is experiencing limited airflow or if your energy bills seem unusually high. Here’s a great video that quickly explains the top three issues seen in failing AC units. Home Heating Is your furnace making strange noises? If so, what kind? As explained in this noisy furnace blog post — bangs, booms or thuds usually mean something different than clanging, pinging, popping or rattling sounds; just as whistling or whooshing generally signifies different potential performance issues than screeching, scraping or chirping. Of course, perhaps the most common question we hear involves no heat or inadequate heat from boilers and furnaces fueled by oil or gas. Below is an example from our oil furnace resource page: Problem: Oil furnace — burner not functioning Potential Causes/Solutions: This could be happening for a number of reasons, including an electrical issue, a faulty blower or motor, a plugged line, a pump problem, or an igniter complication. These are just a few issues that a home heating professional might diagnose when inspecting a faulty oil furnace. Additional steps you can take include checking your circuit breaker and locating the reset switch (on most systems it looks like a light switch mounted on a red plate) and turning it off and back on. For more information about furnaces and boilers, check out this informational page from the U.S. Department of Energy and this Energy.gov infographic. Plumbing An overflowing toilet is every homeowner’s nightmare, but don’t panic. Here’s some advice from our bathroom plumbing page: Problem: My toilet is overflowing Potential Causes/Solutions: When confronted with this all-too-common problem, your first and most important step is to immediately shut off the flow of water to the toilet (the shutoff valve is usually found at the bottom left under the fixture, about 6 inches off the floor). You can then try gently plunging it. Our bathroom plumbing resource page also shares advice on what to do about clogged drains and low water pressure, and what to do if the toilet won’t stop running. And be sure to check out our kitchen plumbing resource page for leaky kitchen faucet and garbage disposal woes. Electrical A dependable electrical system is critical for your home, so a certain amount of basic knowledge is immensely helpful for all homeowners. (Here is a quick video offering tips about the circuit breakers on your electrical panel.) But due to obvious safety issues, it is generally a good idea to have your electrical repairs and service handled by a trained professional. Our experienced electricians receive advanced training in all types of repairs, upgrades and installations; safety inspections; indoor and outdoor lighting; whole-house surge protection; home generator systems and more. We’re also the only area contractor to have invested in a fully equipped onsite training center — providing up to 150 hours of additional advanced training each year to ensure that each of our technicians are certified experts in their core specialties. Finding a Home Contractor You Can Count On We know it’s not easy to find a home contractor you can trust to provide friendly advice as well as prompt, professional help with the repairs and inevitable upkeep that go along with home ownership. At Heritage, your family’s comfort and safety are vitally important to us. Sharing our expertise online is just one of the ways we help hard-working homeowners throughout our service area of New Hampshire and Northern Massachusetts make every dollar count. One final tip: Look for an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. It’s a reliable indicator that you’ve found a heating, cooling, plumbing or electrical contractor with the experience and knowhow to get the job done right at a fair price. Roger Odoardi Roger is an owner and licensed Loan Officer at the Blue Water Mortgage office in Hampton, NH. Roger graduated from the University of New Hampshire Whittemore School of Business and has been in the mortgage industry for over 20 years. Roger has originated over 2500 residential loans and is licensed in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut and Florida.