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How to Prep Your Yard for Fourth of July Celebrations

Friday, June, 23rd, 2017 at 6:00 AM by Mike Agugliaro

How to Prep Your Yard for Fourth of July CelebrationsHappy Fourth of July! If you are hosting a backyard barbecue or a firework viewing party at your home this year, learn how to celebrate America’s birthday in style with these preparation tips.

Lighting

When it comes to Fourth of July lighting, there are so many different options to choose from. From red, white, and blue icicle lights and LED rope lights to more kitschy American flag and starlight sphere shaped lighting décor, add some novelty and patriotism to your property using these lighting options.

Use patriotic red, white and blue icicle and string lights. Sticking with typical holiday theme colors and accents will elevate your casual backyard barbecue and create an inviting atmosphere. Certainly all of your guests will know which house is hosting the party!

Red, white, and blue rope lighting is another great option for Fourth of July this year. You can buy over one hundred feet and get as creative as you want! You can use the rope lights to create your own custom shapes, such as spelling out U-S-A or creating the outline of a flag on the fence or wall. Durable for the outdoors, rope lighting is fun and functional.

Color-changing bulbs and string lights that cycle from red and blue will add a different take on traditional icicle flair. They add a lively touch, shifting from red to blue throughout the night.

String lights in the shape of stars and flags are super cute. These can be put inside or outside to create instant theme-worthy displays.

Patriotic paper lantern string lights are always a hit. They have a homey feel that also provide comfortable lighting. String them up in the backyard over the outdoor table and seating area.

Consider adding some novelty décor. When it comes to holiday celebrations, the more festive the better. Why not add fun lighting pieces, like American flag-shaped yard décor and USA starlight spheres that can be hung from trees for added patriotic bling. Novelty lighting is always perfect to create the ambiance for family and friend get togethers. It’s typical to see lighted snowmen, reindeer and other lawn accessories at Christmas, this could be the year you celebrate with similarly novel spirit for Independence Day!

Beat the Bugs

Most likely the entire party will be outdoors. How do you keep the bugs away? Be prepared to help your guests beat the bugs with sprays, citronella candles, and bug lights.

Although some unsolicited insects may still find their way in, you can reduce the number of bugs with these tips:

Use bug-deterring lights and candles. Most insects are attracted to heat signatures more than light sources. That’s why hot incandescent bulbs attract more bugs than cooler LED bulbs (Battle of the Bulbs). Use citronella candles and torches along with mosquito repellent lights and lanterns.

Get rid of stagnant water. Mosquitoes and other insects LOVE standing water. Before the party, make sure there isn’t any water gathered in garbage pan lids, toys, flowerpots, or any other container. Learn how to improve the drainage around your home to avoid standing water and basement flooding.

Use bug repellent sprays and sunscreen. Bug repellant sunscreen and sprays are probably the best way to deter mosquitoes and other insects. Make sure you follow the instructions carefully and reapply as needed.

Wear strategic clothing. Insects love sweat and bacteria, so consider wearing high-top sneakers, high socks, and lightweight, light-colored clothing that cover your arms and legs.

Pre-treat the outdoor space. A day before the big outdoor soirée, consider pre-treating the outdoor space with a backyard bug repellant spray that connects to your garden hose. Follow the directions carefully as these types of products can potentially damage plants and lawns.

If you are hosting a large get-together, you may want to consider renting tents with mosquito nets.

Learn how to make a heavy duty mosquito trap.

Stay Cool!

The Fourth of July is always hot! While you may have the day off, your air conditioner still has to work. Try giving your A/C a vacation by using these tips for staying cool:

Take a dip. If you have a pool, take a dip to stay cool. If you don’t have a pool on the property, check out all of the community swimming pools, local swimming holes, and public beaches.

Use the BBQ. When cooking hot meals in the summer, use your BBQ over the indoor oven/stove. Not only is it traditional to cook hot dogs, hamburgers, and chicken on the grill for the Fourth of July, it’s also a great way to save money on air conditioning and energy costs. Use the kitchen for cold meals, such as salads, fruit bowls, and antipasti.

Find and create shade. Being in the direct sun makes it feel around 10 to 15 degrees hotter than it actually is. If you are looking for a place to cool off, find a grassy area in the shade. If you don’t have a nice shady oasis for guests and have a garage, consider opening it up and placing some chairs and refreshments in there. Learn how to strategically use blinds and shades to block the sun’s rays from unnecessarily heating up your home.

Make sure the air conditioning is working. Be sure your air conditioner is working inside your home for when everyone needs to escape the backyard heat for a bit. For pre-holiday air conditioning services, contact Gold Medal Service (we’re available 24/7).

If you have not scheduled your annual air conditioning maintenance appointment for the summer, what are you waiting for? It’s the best way to reduce operating costs, improve indoor air quality, and extend the lifespan of your system (sometimes even doubling it).

Plumbing

Any large get-together presents a risk to your plumbing system. In order to prevent plumbing problems during your Fourth of July Party, remember to:

Keep guests away from the garbage disposal. Some people have more powerful garbage disposals than others. To prevent garbage disposal clogs, use paper plates and garbage bins rather than your disposal to get rid of food waste. Consider taping up the garbage disposal switch or displaying a sign to use the garbage instead… better safe than sorry!

Place a sign near your toilet. Instruct guests to only flush human waste and toilet paper down the toilet. Anything else should be thrown in the trash. Make sure the trashcan is available and empty. Find a new place for items that could accidentally be knocked into the toilet.

Make sure propane tanks are full and gas lines are working. Nobody want to be in a situation where the grill or oven is not working.

Learn more plumbing tips for parties and large gatherings.

If you experience any plumbing or appliance problems, don’t hesitate to contact Gold Medal Service. We are here for you 24 hours a day, 365 days a year—including the Fourth of July.

Related Resources:


Happy Fourth of July!

Contact the experts at Gold Medal Service (1-877-803-0511) if you have any plumbingHVAC, or electrical problems.

We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (July 4th included) to assist you with any problem you may have

Stay connected with us on FacebookTwitter, and Google+ for more useful information and advice for your home.

Septic and Sewer Maintenance 101

Friday, June, 16th, 2017 at 6:00 AM by Mike Agugliaro

How to Maintain Septic and Sewer Systems

Nobody likes dealing with sewage, but in order to prevent the worst of it, you will want to remember a couple of maintenance tips:

  • For a typical septic system, schedule professional maintenance at least every 3 years.
  • For alternative septic systems, schedule professional maintenance once a year.
  • Annual plumbing maintenance is recommended regardless of if you have a septic system or not.
  • Septic tank pumpings are typically needed every 2-5 years. By scheduling regular maintenance, you’ll be able to tell how your septic system is behaving and whether or not you need to schedule professional pumping or not.
  • Don’t plant trees or plants with long roots near any sewer lines. All landscaping should be done at least 10 feet away from all sewer lines to prevent root intrusions.
  • Contact a professional plumber as soon as you detect a problem with your plumbing system

How Does a Septic System Work?

The typical septic system has three main parts:

  • Pipe from home
  • Septic Tank
  • Drainfield

Parts of a septic tank - septic and sewer maintenance

Source: Wikimedia Commons

After being treated by your septic tank, the wastewater travels to the drainfield for further treatment. Since septic systems require large drainfields, they are usually not found in densely built areas.

If there is a problem with your septic tank or your drainfield gets overloaded with too much wastewater, sewage can make its ways to the ground surface or create backups in plumbing fixtures within the home. Many times, a backup drainfield is needed for when the main drainfield fails.

As a homeowner, you are responsible for maintaining your septic system. Protect your home and septic system by learning how to be a responsible septic tank owner.

Sewage System Warning Signs

Since your plumbing and septic systems are hidden, they are often neglected by homeowners. Luckily, there are ways to tell if you have a problem with your main sewer line.

If you have a main sewer line clog, this can cause raw sewage to back up into other drains in your home, causing extensive damage and a very uncomfortable situation for all household members.

  1. Sewage Smells

The most obvious sign that you have a problem with your septic tank is the smell of sewage around your septic tank, drainfield, or even inside your house. You may notice sink and toilet drains running slowly.

  1. Sewage Backups

Sewage that backs up into the yard or into the home is a clear sign of a septic tank failure.

Call a qualified plumber before the situation gets worse. Generally, a major repair can be prevented by clearing a blockage, pumping the septic tank, or fixing a break.

  1. Clogged Toilet

If you have a toilet or toilets that back up and gurgle, you could have a major problem. For instance, if the toilet backs up when you are draining your bathtub or if your shower drain gurgles and flows with water when you flush the toilet, this is a major red flag that something is wrong—most likely, a problem with your main sewer line.

  1. Water Backing Up Into Sinks

If you flush the toilet and notice water backing up into your bathroom sink or water pooling around a floor drain in your basement, you most likely have a min line obstruction that requires immediate attention.

Sewage systems can leak sure to pipe breaks cause by root intrusion and erosion. If you notice a break in your sewer main, contact a qualified plumber immediately.

Public sewer systems’ local service mains (via manholes in public streets) can break or become clocked from tree roots, fats/grease, and debris. Even though you are not directly responsible for the public sewer system, it’s important to do your part to reduce the chance of public sewer problems.

Don’t flush these items down the toilet, including so-called “flushable” wipes, one of the main causes of “fatbergs,” a combination of congealed fat and items that don’t break down, like wet wipes.

Who is responsible for a backup in the sewer system? 

If there is a backup in the sewer system between the sewer main in the street and the homeowner’s property line, the city is responsible. If the backup occurs between the property line and the house, it is the homeowner’s responsibility.

What is the difference between on-site septic systems versus public sewer service? 

Owners of private septic systems are responsible for the replacement and maintenance of their own private wastewater collection system.

Customers of the public sewer system pay for the wastewater utility to collect and treat their sewage at a central treatment facility.


Contact Gold Medal Service to ask your questions, provide feedback, and schedule service.

We 24-hour service and customer support so even if you experience a plumbing emergency in the middle of the night, we’re there for you.

Call us today at (877) 803-0511 or fill out our online request form.

Stay connected with us on FacebookTwitter, and Google+.

Swimming Pool Safety | How to Prevent Shocks & Drownings

Friday, June, 9th, 2017 at 6:00 AM by Mike Agugliaro

Avoid Drownings Shocks Electrocution - Pool, Hot Tub and Spa Safety

Summer is all about fun in the sun. But there tends to be a dark cloud that hangs over summer’s favorite past time: swimming. Residential swimming pool safety has become particularly important as the rate of unintentional drownings, especially among young children, startles the public each year. This summer, teach your family about how water safety protects you while you play.

If you’re a parent, practicing water safety is especially vital. Children between the ages of 1 and 5 are the most at risk for drowning. It’s also shown that adult supervision isn’t enough to keep all children safe from water-related accidents and fatalities. Included in this blog are some general water safety guidelines as well as preventative measures to block access to a pool or spa on a residential property.

Swimming Pool Safety

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends “layers of protection” because “nothing is foolproof when it comes to protecting children from drowning in a pool.” In contrast with adults, who mainly drown in natural waters, children are more likely to drown in a residential swimming pool.

Get the Facts:

  • From 2005-2014, there was an average of 3,536 fatal unintentional drownings (non-boating related) annually in the United States — about ten deaths per day.
  • About one in five people who die from drowning are children 14 and younger.
  • For every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries.
  • More than 50% of drowning victims treated in emergency departments (EDs) require hospitalization or transfer for further care (compared with a hospitalization rate of about 6% for all unintentional injuries).
  • These nonfatal drowning injuries can cause severe brain damage that may result in long-term disabilities such as memory problems, learning disabilities, and permanent loss of basic functioning (e.g., permanent vegetative state).

Source: CDC.gov

General Residential Pool Safety Recommendations:

Supervise – There should always be a responsible adult present when children are in the pool. If the child is a non-swimmer, the adult should be close enough to reach the child at all times, known as “touch supervision.”

Take Swim Lessons – Supervision has proven to not be enough on its own. The sooner a child can begin with water competency skills, the safer. Knowing how to protect yourself from drowning is the best defense.

Learn CPR – Courses are readily available, and it can be a fun family activity to learn together. Emphasize how to avoid situations where someone would need emergency CPR.

Build a Fence – Access to a residential pool or spa should be difficult for a child. The fence should be at least 4 feet tall and go around the entire perimeter of the pool. It needs to be self-closing with a latch that’s out of reach for a child. Read CPSC’s Safety Barrier Guidelines for Pools (PDF) to learn more about constructing pool barriers.

Safety Alarms – Drowning can happen in a short time span and without any audible signs of distress. Several reports are made of a child drowning when adults were home. Put an alarm on the outdoor pool gate or even use a floating pool alarm. A safety alarm is an additional life-saving alert.

Toys – Remove toys in order to avoid any accidents related to kids trying to retrieve a toy from the water. Additionally, do not use air-filled or foam toys as safety devices. There is no substitute for life-jackets.

Emergency Preparation – Be sure that everyone is aware of what to do in the case of an accident. All children and adults should know to call 9-1-1, and have a phone and plan in place to do so.

Weather – Always go swimming in appropriate weather. Swimming is an activity best enjoyed with sunshine.

Electrical Safety Around Pools & Spas

Water and electricity don’t mix. Wet skin and surfaces greatly increase the chance of electrical shocks and electrocution (death by an electrical shock).

Common sources of electricity around pools and spas:

  • Underwater lights
  • Electric pool equipment (pumps, filters, vacuum, etc.)
  • Extension and power cords
  • Electrical outlets or switches
  • Radios, stereos, TVs and other electrical products
  • Overhead Power Lines
  • Lighting

Prevent shocks and electrocutions by:

  • Knowing where electrical power switches and circuit breakers are located, and how to turn them off. Label all of your circuit breaker switches if you haven’t done so already.
  • Do NOT swim before or during lightning or thunderstorms.
  • Have a qualified electrician conduct an annual electrical inspection before the start of the swimming season. Your electrician will be able to inspect and upgrade essential electrical components according to all local codes and the National Electrical Code (NEC).
  • As outlined in the NEC, keep all electrical wires, outlets, and junction boxes at least 5 feet away from any water source.
  • Follow NEC requirements for ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs):
    • on underwater lighting circuits operating at 120-volts (CPSC recommends GFCIs for circuits that are 15 volts or greater);
    • on pumps and electrical equipment used with pools, spas and hot tubs, including heaters close to the pool and operated on 240 volt circuits;
    • on electrical circuits around pools, spas, and hot tubs;
    • on all outdoor receptacles and receptacles within 20 feet of the water’s edge to protect people from injury.
  • Test all GFCI outlets EVERY MONTH (wear shoes while testing):
    • Push RESET button
    • Plug in light or similar device (light should be ON)
    • Press TEST button (light should turn OFF)
    • Push RESET button again (light should turn ON)
    • If GFCI is not working properly, call a qualified electrician
  • If possible, use battery-operated devices instead of cord-connected ones.
  • Print and laminate an emergency plan and CPR instructions in clear view of those using the pool.
  • Make sure overhead power lines and junction boxes are in safe positions whenever installing a new pool, hot tub, or spa.

Source: CDC

If you think you are being shocked, get out of the water as soon as possible and move away from the source of the shock. Exit the pool without using a metal ladder, as this may increase the effect of the shock.

  • Learn how to treat someone in the water who is experiencing an electric shock here.
  • Learn more about child electrical safety here.
  • Learn more about backyard electrical safety here.

Summer is Water Safety Season

Water Safety USA is made up of many of our most respected and longstanding national nonprofit and governmental organizations. Its members include the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Red Cross, the USA Swimming Foundation, Safe Kids Worldwide, the Boy Scouts of America and the U.S. Coast Guard, among others. They currently lead the “U.S. in water safety and drowning prevention.”

They’ve got some great tips for staying safe this summer, including the most essential: designating a Water Watcher. The single most important precaution against drowning is an alert and prepared swimming pool supervisor—an adult, trusted babysitter or older sibling.

Qualities of an appropriate Water Watcher:

  • Is at least 16 years of age (adults preferred)
  • Has the skills, knowledge, and ability to recognize and rescue someone in distress or can immediately alert someone nearby who has that capability
  • Knows CPR or can immediately alert someone nearby with that skill
  • Has a working phone to be able to dial 9-1-1
  • Has a floating and/or reaching object that can be used in a rescue
  • Is alert and not under the influence of drugs or alcohol

Source: Water Safety USA

Have a happy and safe summer! Read these homeowner tips to keep your house cool this summer.

For any of your home service needs this sizzling season, from electrical inspections to indoor air quality, contact Gold Medal Service.

Give us a call today at 1-877-803-0511 or schedule an appointment online (available 24/7).

Battle of the Bulbs: LED vs. CFL vs. Incandescent‎

Friday, June, 2nd, 2017 at 6:00 AM by Mike Agugliaro

Battle of the Bulbs - LED CFL Incandescent Light Bulbs

With so many options on the market, consumers need to know what to look for when it comes to lighting. LED has dominated sales and the conversation surrounding energy-efficient lighting in the recent years. LED lights also have the lowest yearly operating cost and the longest bulb lifetime as compared to a CFL or traditional Incandescent. LED lighting is obviously not the only option out there; its design and efficiency represents current lighting technology, but there are still reasons to use CFL and traditional Incandescent.

As the green movement and the topic of sustainability becomes increasingly important, people want to know more about transitioning their home over to LED. Consumers still have many questions about performance, lifespan, energy use and yearly operating costs. In looking to remodel or upgrade, what are the best options? We investigate bulb basics in Gold Medal’s Battle of the Bulbs.

Which Bulb Shines Brightest?

One big consumer concern is brightness. People want to ensure that the bulb they choose will offer appropriate brightness with broad light coverage. We look at a common question: Are LED lights as bright as CFL or Incandescent?

When it comes to brightness you need to consider the Lumens. It’s not the Watts that tell you how bright the bulb is, it’s Lumens. The higher the Lumen, the brighter the bulb.

Current LED bulbs are equivalent to their counterparts, with 800 Lumens in a 12 watt LED bulb, as compared to 800 Lumens in a 14 watt CFL or 60 watt Incandescent. At the low end, a 6-7 watt LED will produce 400-500 Lumen Output, as will an 8-16 watt CFL or a 40 watt Incandescent. At the brightest end, a 25-28 watt LED will produce 2700+ Lumen, and so will a 30-55 watt CFL or a 150 watt Incandescent (veribright).

webcontent.lighting-learn-more-Brightness-Chart

In the Battle of the Bulbs, the difference between them is more apparent when considering energy and cost efficiency than it is when comparing brightness. They are able to match each other in Lumen Output; the only noticeable difference is in the bulb’s Watts, or energy usage. In other words, you can achieve your desired brightness with an LED, CFL, or Incandescent bulb.

Which Bulb Saves the Most Money & Energy?

When it comes to the most cost effective and energy efficient lighting available to consumers today, it’s good to look at the bulb’s lifespan and the overall cost of electricity used. Although LED’s cost more upfront, they have the longest average lifespan and cost the least amount to use. An Incandescent light will last an average of 1,200 hours, while a CFL looks forward to a long life of 8,000 hours, and the modern LED has the secret to youth with 25,000 total average operating hours. It would take 21 Incandescent bulbs and 3 CFL bulbs to last 25,000 hours. Based on 25,000 hours at $0.15 per kWh, an LED light will cost about $30 to operate, while an Incandescent will be charging towards $200, with around $169 in electrical costs (veribright). At about $6 bucks a bulb, you definitely get your money’s worth with LEDs.

And the Winner Is…

LED lights outperform their competitors in the essential consumer categories. Low cost, maximum longevity, and solid energy efficiency are valuable characteristics of LED bulbs. However, taste and preference often dominate why a consumer will choose a different option. Incandescent lights emit a nice natural color, and when it comes to aesthetics, you may prefer the look of a traditional bulb.

CFLs or Compact Florescent Lights are a more energy-efficient option than conventional Incandescent lights. They have a spiral design that make it compact yet powerful. CFLs were designed to replace Incandescent and Halogen options. CFLs are more energy-efficient than Incandescent, but less so than LEDs. They do have more of the bulb-look and will create a warm atmosphere.

Again, lighting is a personal preference, but consider the key qualities: brightness, cost, energy efficiency, and lifespan the next time you choose a bulb. LEDs are still evolving, but hands down they are the best option on the market and the most wallet and environmentally friendly.


To schedule PlumbingHVACElectrical, Waterproofing and more, contact the professionals at Gold Medal Service. We’re available 24/7 to solve all of your home service needs.

Give us a call today at 1-877-803-0511 or schedule an appointment online!

Follow us on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and Pinterest for more useful information on your home and health.

Prepare Your Home For Summer Heat

Friday, May, 26th, 2017 at 6:00 AM by Mike Agugliaro

how to prepare your home for summer

With only a few weeks left before summer is in full swing, there are things you can do to prepare your home for the coming heat wave. There’s a lot to think about as this sunny vacation season comes our way. Practical questions such as, “How will I keep my utility costs low?” and, “How will I entertain the kids during the day?” are being asked by parents and homeowners across the country.

As a BBB A+ rated heated, cooling, plumbing, and electrical service company in New Jersey, we want to share a few ideas on how to prepare your home for summer.

How to Prepare Your Home for Summer

1. Ceiling Fans

Your ceiling fans may have been collecting dust all winter long. Time to properly dust them off for daily use during the upcoming months. Using your ceiling fans this summer alongside your air conditioner will help you stay cool without overrunning your HVAC system. Turn your thermostat to 78-degrees and your ceiling fan on high for energy-efficient comfort.

Be sure to switch the direction of your ceiling fan to the counter-clockwise setting. You’ll know it’s on the right setting if you immediately feel air blowing down on you. A clockwise fan setting is only used in winter as it blows the air up towards the ceiling.

2. Ventilation

If there are ventilation leaks, then heat will creep into your home while your air conditioned air will flow out. This occurs mainly through small cracks in windows, doors, and walls. Checking up on the condition of your home’s insulation is one way to ensure an energy-efficient home this summer. If you notice anything, call in a professional for sealing and weather stripping services.

3. Window Coverings

Along with checking for ventilation leaks, your windows play another role in temperature control during the summer. One of the best ways to keep out the heat is to close and cover your windows during the daytime. If you currently do not have shades or overhangs for your windows, we recommend installing these natural shade solutions. 

4. Reduce Humidity

If your home is already struggling with moisture and humidity, consider indoor air quality solutions such as a dehumidification. Portable dehumidifiers in many sizes are available in home stores. A professional technician can set up a whole-home dehumidification system. Put on a ventilation fan while showering to decrease condensation and humidity in the home. Standing fans in high-humidity areas such as the basement, attic and kitchen will increase circulation and reduce humidity. Purchase a dehumidifier, standing fans, or a ventilation fan before the temperature and relative humidity rise to unbearable heights.

5. Pre-Season Tune-Up

Your HVAC system performs best with bi-annual maintenance. Tune-ups by a professional HVAC technician are recommended once in fall and once in spring. This guarantees that everything will be functioning in the more weather-severe seasons.

“We only have another month to go before the real hot weather hits,” says Mike Agugliaro, co-owner of Gold Medal Service. “You don’t want to be stuck on a hot summer’s day without an air conditioning system. Having a pre-season tune-up of your cooling system will prevent unnecessary and costly repairs later in the season when you really need it to work.”

Even with your best efforts, your air conditioner may decide to malfunction. If something does happen this summer, maintenance and repair services are available on any day, especially the hottest ones, from Gold Medal Service.

For more tips on How to Prepare your Home for Summer, check out the article we recently published on PR Newswire.

Related Resources:


Contact the experts at Gold Medal Service (1-877-803-0511) for more information on maintaining your home this summer.

We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to assist you with any problem you may have (electrical, plumbingwaterproofingHVAC, and more)

Stay connected with us on FacebookTwitter, and Google+ for more useful information and advice for your home.