Tips to Keep Your Home Safe and Comfortable During Self-Quarantine

In the past few weeks, our lives in Plano have changed drastically. We’re still adjusting to our “new normal” of curbside pick-up, virtual meetings, homeschooling and social distancing being practiced in practically every household across America. While some see this as an opportunity to connect and collaborate using technology in a safe indoor area, others are experiencing a total loss of comfort.

As we continue to adjust together, remember that our comfort is only compromised for a short amount of time. We’re North Texans – we’re resilient and tough! After all, who else can adjust to four seasons in a single day? Who else can pull together to help our neighbors when they need us most? Which other community bands together to ensure our local small businesses continue to thrive? WE DO!

For the past 20 years as a project manager focusing on electrical and HVAC projects, my job has been to make sure 100% of homeowners and businesses receive a worry-free experience from project initiation to completion. My role is to break down complex, technical options into manageable, stress-free solutions to ensure families are safe, secure and comfortable based on their budgets.  

I’ve compiled a list of my 10 tips to help keep your home safe and comfortable while we’re all spending much more time indoors.

1. Install a bidet on your home toilet. You’ll never look at toilet paper the same after the Great Toilet Paper Shortage of 2020. And you’ll never worry about purchasing it again if you invest in a bidet. A bidet is a hygienic way of feeling fresh. This device is installed by your local plumber and uses an insignificant amount of water. Bidets come in all sizes with different features. Did you know that some toilet seats have a built-in bidet that provides warm water?

2. Install a back-up generator that automatically turns on if your home loses access to electricity. With all the focus on COVID-19, you might have forgotten we’re headed straight into our spring tornado and storm season. If you don’t have the budget for an automatic generator, a more cost-effective option is a manual generator, which is just as effective. Learn how to operate your generators before you actually need them. In newer homes, a generator can continue to run your home for several hours, whereas an older home may be limited to a single room or core appliances. I also highly recommend that your refrigerator/freezer is linked to your generator. 

3. Have a surge protector installed and connected to your electrical panel box. This will prevent potential damages, disruptions and electrical surges when thunderstorms roll in. If devices, such as your thermostat, Wi-Fi router, garage-door opener or laptop, are damaged while connected to an outlet, they will be covered up to $75,000 worth of damages. Only a licensed electrician can provide this service. Once you get this device implemented, make sure to take inventory of expensive equipment connected to your electrical system.

Invest in faucets with built-in ion and purifying property filters // photo Jacek Dylag
Invest in faucets with built-in ion and purifying property filters // photo Jacek Dylag

4. Invest in a whole-house air purification system that is scientifically proven to kill up to 99% of bacteria and viruses, like the REME or iWave. These devices are installed and implemented by a state-licensed electrician or HVAC contractor to ensure the product is installed correctly without damaging the equipment or compromising your air conditioning unit and connected air ducts.

5. Have your air ducts cleaned after home renovations, no matter how minor. Without cleaning, debris from the materials may make you sick. Renovations should be on a tight timeline, with an ideal completion window within two to three weeks, so that your air quality isn’t compromised longer than necessary. Remember to get plenty of outdoor air during this time.

6. Change your air-conditioning filters monthly, using reliable, HEPA verified filters like Micro Allergen Defense or a pleated design for trapping optimum particles. Most home service companies offer monthly maintenance that ensures a premium air filter is supplied and installed by an EPA certified technician. Remember, air filters are designed to trap pollutants so that your central air system doesn’t overwork itself by rotating dust and debris throughout your home. In the spring, change air filters more often since pollen can quickly clog airways. 

Test your smoke detectors and CO2 alarms // photo Kittipong Jirasukhanont
Test your smoke detectors and CO2 alarms // photo Kittipong Jirasukhanont

7. Make sure all your central air conditioning systems have enough coolant and are fully capped. Otherwise, your household might become victim of a critical A/C emergency call the first week we experience temperatures over 85 degrees. During a seasonal tune-up by a licensed HVAC contractor, a technician will determine the air pressure, conduct maintenance and change air filters so that your air conditioning units operate most efficiently.

8. Invest in faucets with built-in ion and purifying property filters for all your faucets, including shower heads. These water purifiers help soften the water by removing chemicals, toxins and other radicals. Most homeowners see a difference in their hair and skin as well as the taste of their water within the first month.

9. Take care of your appliances. I’m talking about seasonal maintenance on essential appliances including your dishwasher, clothing dryer, oven, microwave, freezer, deep freezer, washing machine, ice-maker and hot-water heater. Remember, we have so much technology and innovation we rely on to keep us comfortable.

10. Test your smoke detectors and CO2 alarms. A smoke detector should be in every bedroom, in a hallway that connects bedrooms and in any open areas where people congregate like the dining or living room. These life-saving devices have come a long way, with some alerting you on a mobile app. You can upgrade to devices that actually announce “Fire!” while illuminating a pathway to safely exit the home. Change your batteries annually, test all devices monthly and make sure there are no active recalls. If this becomes too much of a hassle to check, you can always rely on a local home services company to keep this maintenance task up to date. 

In my 20 years of being in the home service industry, these are the top 10 issues that I’ve seen compromise the comfort of people. Do I personally have all of the recommended items? Absolutely, and I sleep like a baby!

Irum Jones is the Chief Operating Officer at Electrician On Call: Electric, Heating & Air. 

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