Should YOU Be Concerned About Lead?

The crisis in Flint, MI has certainly brought the issue of lead poisoning to the forefront of our awareness. But the scary truth is –  there are 18 cities in Pennsylvania with higher lead level exposure than Flint. Here in PA the majority of lead poisoning risk comes from older homes with deteriorating lead based paint. Public drinking water systems typically are not sources of lead poisoning, but especially older homes may still have lead contaminated water. There were some interesting insights in a recent PennLive article. If present, elevated levels of lead can cause serious health problems, especially for pregnant women and young children. Lead in drinking water is primarily from materials and components associated with service lines and older home plumbing systems. None of the region’s water mains are made of lead, but some service lines are. While the authorities do replace lead lines, the homeowner is responsible for the service line from the curb to the home. Water agencies also add a corrosion control inhibitor that reacts with the water pipe’s wall to prevent heavy metals like lead from leeching off the piping and out of the spigot. Also most of our regional water is ‘hard’, which reduces the possibility of lead leaching from pipes. The hard water builds up a film on the pipe, creating a physical barrier. This is a doubled edged sword because hard water is the cause of many other plumbing issues for which many people use a water softener. While the CDC has established the reference level at 5 [micrograms], they’re not saying that 5 is safe. Even at 5 there is evidence that nerves...

How is the air quality in YOUR home?

Winter is a time that we tend to be cooped up inside and is a good time to evaluate the quality of our air. Some air quality problems are just annoying, like dry nasal passages, but some are more serious. According to the EPA indoor air is often five times more polluted than outdoor air.  Problems include odors, toxic chemical vapors, as well as mold, bacteria, viruses, and allergens. Humans breathe in and out about 20,000 times a day, and most people spend 90% of their time indoors. Many people notice that they feel better when they are outside and that when they are stuck indoors, they frequently have headaches or feel nauseous. Possible indoor air quality problems can be detected by the presence of unusual odors or “stale” air. If there is a noticeable lack of air movement in your home, the air you breathe has not been circulating and is not fresh and you probably notice a big change in the way you feel when you open a window or even spend some time outdoors. You should also look for physical signs such as mold or mildew in rooms that may have excess humidity. If your heating and/or air conditioning equipment is dirty, your home most likely suffers from poor indoor air quality. Even living in a new or remodeled home is no guarantee of good air quality. In fact, many building materials contain known carcinogens and hazardous chemicals like formaldehyde and organic solvents. Adding to the problem is the fact that homes and offices insulated very tightly these days, and the lack of airflow is a...

Visit with Friends & Family this Holiday Season, Not Us!

Here at BHCP we love seeing our customers but we know that it is your family and friends you want  visiting your home this holiday season, not us! Here are some tips to help you prevent the need for costly and inconvenient service calls and keep a little holiday cash in your pocket!     PLUMBING (In the Kitchen) Make sure that you have a plunger handy should any sudden issues arise with your drains Fats, oils, and grease are some of the biggest threats your drains face. Don’t strain the drain. Even if you use a detergent that claims to dissolve grease, it can still build up in the system and cause problems later. Wipe greasy pots, pans, dishes and utensils with a paper towel before putting them in the dishwasher or rinsing them in the sink. Garbage disposals are convenient but not for high volume – If you must put food into the drains, break large pieces into smaller chunks first, and try to avoid fibrous foods (like celery and onion skins) that can wrap around the disposal and jam the motor. Do not put expandable foods (such as pasta or rice) down the drain – Even SMALL amounts of these foods can swell with water and clog the trap. Always run the water for at least 30-60 seconds after disposal use or washing dishes. NEVER use hot water! While it may seem to help dissolve grease and flush it better, it is worse when it coagulates further down the pipes. To remove stuck debris and odor, run cold water while emptying a tray of ice cubes into your disposal. You...

Smart Thermostats – Nest Vs. Lyric

Since the introduction of the Google Nest and the Honeywell Lyric thermostats we are beginning to see what the future of home automation may have in store for us. The Nest and Lyric are similar in design, both are round thermostats ( or Tstats ) approximately 3 inches in diameter, and both require the downloading of an app to access the full capabilities of the Tstats. However, there are some differences between the two. The Lyric’s app can be downloaded on a smart phone or tablet while the Nest app can be can be used on a smart phone, tablet or computer. Also the Nest and Lyric operate somewhat differently within the home . Let’s take a closer look at some of those differences. The Nest is a learning thermostat. You do not have to program it. You set the thermostat during the day at the temperatures you prefer and within a week it learns your preferences and begins adjusting itself. And through its auto scheduling feature it adjusts its program to your changing preferences season by season, month by month and year by year. You can make minor changes to the program and it will not affect the schedule it has already learned. It also has built in sensors which detect movement within the house. The Nest includes an auto-away feature. This feature recognizes, by lack of physical movement, when the house is empty and adjusts the temperature setting. It could do that for a single room of the house if it has not sensed any physical activity. The Nest can also be operated manually and it will still be...