May 2004 Edition

Air Conditioning Not Working 

We tried turning on our air conditioner but cannot seem to get it to work. Do you have any suggestions?
It is that time of year again - time to prepare for the summer heat. Before you call in a professional, there is a check list to go down to see if you can solve the problem yourself before paying out for a service call.

Thermostat

First, let's start with the basics. Is your thermostat switched to the "cool" mode? You would be surprise how many people forget to do this simple operation. If it is, be sure to set the thermostat at a temperature that is lower than the current inside temperature for the air conditioning to turn on. Next, if you have a digital thermostat, can you read the current temperature in the LCD screen? If the screen is blank, try changing the batteries. Most thermostats use "AA" batteries. Just remove the cover to access the batteries. If the screen remains blank after changing the batteries, go to your furnace. All furnaces have a service switch located very near the furnace. The service switch looks just like a light switch. Make sure the switch is in the "on" position. If it is in the "off" position, this will often turn off the power to the thermostat. Switch it on and verify you get a temperature reading in the thermostat.
 Next, verify the electrical panel box panel breaker has not tripped. Most people forget to check their panel box. Sometimes storms or power surges can trip breakers. If it is on, try switching it off and then back on. Give the furnace five minutes to see if it resets.
 If you still cannot get it to run, check the blower compartment cover. Sometimes when you change the filter, the cover does not go back on completely and this can trip a safety switch inside the cover. To check for this problem, go back to the thermostat and switch the fan from the "auto" position to the "on" position. The fan should turn on. If it doesn't, take the blower cover off and then put it back on securely. Some furnaces have a "reset" button inside the top cover. Verify the reset has not tripped.
 If you still cannot get it to work, it is time to call in the professionals. It is a good idea to have the system serviced twice a year, before turning on the furnace and then before using the air conditioning. This will ensure the system is operating in peak condition and will extend the life. Remember, most air conditioning condensers will last approximately 15 years.

Fire Escape Ladders

 We are concerned about fire safety for our family. Since our bedrooms are upstairs, we want to purchase a safety ladder that can be used through one of the windows in case a fire blocks the stairs. Can you give us information about fire escape ladders?
According to the Seattle Fire Department Fire Prevention Division, "One of the most important features of a home fire escape ladder is the presence of standoffs.

Ladder

These are protrusions that hold the ladder rungs away from the side of the house. Standoffs help steady the ladder and allow enough room for a secure toehold. The more standoffs on a ladder the better. Home escape ladders come in two standard lengths—15 feet and 25 feet. The shorter length is adequate for most two story bedrooms, while the longer is used for three story rooms. Make sure that the ladder is easily deployed by the person who is meant to use it. Also check for the load limit. Ladders should be rated for at least 1,000 pounds. The cost of a home escape ladder ranges from $30 to $150.
 WHERE TO GET THEM
 Safety Supply Stores
 Look in the yellow pages under safety equipment. Many of these stores carry reasonably priced escape ladders. Also check under fire extinguishers for suppliers that may provide home escape ladders.
 Hardware & Department Stores
 Local stores may carry escape ladders on a periodic basis. Check by calling around to see who is currently carrying them.
 Mail-order Catalogs or On-line.
 There are a variety of safety supply catalogs from which you can order ladders. This can be an expedient means of obtaining a ladder for those who are unable to purchase them locally. Also, try these websites:
 http://www.safetythink.com/products/escape_ladders.htm
 http://www.fireescapesystems.com/
 http://www.safelincs.co.uk/products/fire-escape-ladders.htm
How To Use Them
 Portable ladders work somewhat like a boat ladder. They are generally made from aluminum or heavy plastic chain with rigid bars as the rungs of the ladder. You keep them folded up in a box in your bedroom. When you go to use the ladder, you hook the top portion of the ladder over the window sill and drop the rest out the window. They can be somewhat awkward to use, but they can save your life.
 After purchasing a ladder, make sure that it fits the specific window for which it's intended. If the ladder is for a child’s room, have the child practice putting the ladder out the window. Then have them practice climbing out, but do this from a first floor window. Do this as part of a family fire drill.
Home Escape Plans
Every home should have an escape plan in case of a fire. All family members should be included in the planning process. Draw a picture of your home floor plan. Mark the location of exits (two from every room, if possible), an outside meeting place and the closest telephone. Make plans for anyone with special needs, such as a baby, toddler or older person. Check the exits from each bedroom. If the second exit is a window, can it be opened? Can someone safely make it to the ground? Is an escape ladder needed? Tell your plan to the entire family. Have a family fire drill to practice the plan. Start with family members in their bedroom with the door closed. An adult should push the button on the smoke detector to sound the alarm. Each person should test the door before opening it, then follow the way out to the meeting place. Everyone should meet there. Then one person can pretend to go call 911. Evaluate the drill and make any changes needed. Review and practice your plan at least once a year."

 Source: http://www.cityofseattle.net/fire/pubEd/brochure/ladders.pdf


 If you have a question, change of address, comment, home tip or would like to send Home Tips to your clients, send your letter to Home Tips, Christian Building Inspectors, Inc., 3697 Habersham Lane, Duluth, Georgia 30096. You can E-Mail your questions to us at rodharrison@christianbuildinginspectors.com. We reserve the right to edit questions for length.


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Re/Max Executives

2260 North Druid Hills

Atlanta, Georgia 30329

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