Home Maintenance


Home Energy Assistance Program is back for 2017-18
HEAP is a federally funded program that assists low-income New Yorkers with the cost of heating their homes. HEAP also offers an emergency benefit for households in a heat or heat related energy emergency. Nearly 1.5 Million Households Received Assistance Last Winter
Households that need help paying their heating bills are able to apply for assistance from the Home Energy Assistance Program. The program provides financial assistance to help low-income and elderly New Yorkers keep their homes warm in the winter months and cool in the summer months.
heapgrid“The Home Energy Assistance Program is vital to helping struggling households afford the costs of heating their homes during the cold New York winters,” Governor Cuomo said. “It provides some much-needed relief, especially for low-income working families, as well as senior citizens on a fixed income. I encourage anyone in need of this assistance to apply before the coldest weather sets in.”

The Home Energy Assistance Program is funded by the federal government and is overseen by the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. Eligible households can receive a one-time benefit depending upon income, household size and heating source. For the 2017-18 season, a household of four can earn up to $53,484, or $4,457 a month, and still qualify for assistance.

Regular Benefit
Regular benefit component assists households that pay a high proportion of household income for energy.

Emergency Benefit
The Emergency benefit component assists qualifying low-income New Yorkers who are facing a heat or heat related energy emergency and do not have resources above the established limits. If you have an emergency, contact your local department of social services office.

Heating Equipment Repair or Replacement
The Heating Equipment Repair and Replacement benefit component help eligible low-income homeowners repair or replace primary heating equipment necessary to keep the home’s primary heating source functional.

Cooling Assistance
The Cooling Assistance component provides for cooling assistance services to HEAP eligible households that include an individual with a documented medical condition that is exacerbated by heat. Because the amount of funding is very limited, cooling assistance services will be provided on a first come, first served basis.

Income Guidelines
HEAP Gross Monthly Income Guidelines

Questions regarding the HEAP program should be directed to your local department of social services office or the OTDA Hotline at 1-800-342-3009.

Hamptons Home:Prepare for a Frozen Pipe Disaster? 

I have been hearing about several homes in the Hamptons whose pipes have froze from this brutally cold winter we are experiencing. I have lived in Sag Harbor for the last 14 years and this is by far my coldest winter.

Every winter season, the pipes in your home are at risk of damage from freezing conditions. Low temperatures can cause your water pipes to freeze, and in some cases burst. The following tips can help you safeguard your home before, during and after a pipe freezes.

Prevent Your Pipes From Freezing

  • Disconnect all gardening hoses and install covers on all outside faucets.
  • Keep your house temperature at 68 degrees or higher, even if you’re leaving the house for an extended period of time.
  • Open cabinet doors below sinks to allow heat from the home to circulate.
  • Identify the location of the main water valve and the valve on your water heater. (Learning the location of these valves may come in handy during an emergency.)
  • Wrap pipes nearest exterior walls and in crawl spaces with pipe insulation or with heating tape. This can prevent freezing, especially for interior pipes that run along outside walls.
  • Close all windows near water pipes; cover or close open-air vents. Freezing temperatures combined with wind drafts can cause pipes to freeze more frequently.
  • Heat your basement and consider weather sealing your windows.
  • Insulate outside walls and unheated areas of your home.
  • If you plan to be away from home for an extended period of time, shut off water supply valves to your washing machine.

Monitor Freezing Pipe Conditions

  • Allow a faucet to drip slightly (lukewarm water) in order to minimize freezing.
  • The first sign of freezing is reduced water flow from a faucet.
  • Check your faucets for water flow and pressure before you go to sleep and again when you wake up.
  • Check pipes around your water meter, in unheated areas, near exterior walls and in crawl spaces.
  • These tend to be vulnerable to freezing conditions.
  • Identify cold air drafts coming in from a flue or chimney chase and caulk gaps that are near pipes.

If a Pipe Freezes

  • If a faucet or pipe inside your house freezes, you can thaw it using a good hair dryer. (For safety purposes, avoid operating a hair dryer around standing water.)
  • To thaw a frozen pipe, heat water on the stove, soak towels in the hot water and wrap them around cold sections of the pipes.
  • When thawing a pipe, start thawing it nearest to the faucet. Make sure the faucet is turned on so that melted water can drip out.

If a Pipe Bursts

  • Shut off water at the main valve.
  • If the break is in a hot water pipe, the valve on top of the water heater should be closed.
  • Call a plumber. Keep an emergency number nearby for quick access.

information provided by Allstate

Hamptons Home: How To Tell If Your Home Heating System Is Up For The Coming Winter
Do you feel a chill in the evening breeze? Are your woolens slowly coming out of the closet? Winter is around the corner, and it is time you got ready for it.
Your Heating System: The Most Vital link to Winter Comfort

When it is snowing outside, water freezes on the sidewalks, and an icy wind cuts across the neighborhood is the time to cozy up with your family in a comfortably heated home, enjoying the warmth of human relationships. Winter can be the loveliest season of all, provided it does not invade the comfort of your home.

Get your Heating System Winter Ready

Your heating system has been lying around doing nothing since last spring. It has idled through the summer months and even now lies in deep slumber. However, before the winter arrives it needs to be fighting fit. So how and when do you get it back into shape?

Autumn the Season of Preparation

In the days gone by, autumn was the period of preparing for the winter. The harvest was brought in, and a store of provisions was stocked in the larder.

As it was then, so is it now. According to heating experts, autumn is the right season to get heating systems back into working order. Give everything a check and have a dry run. See if everything is working correctly. Otherwise, you would be forced to conduct heat pump Charlottesville repairs while your whole family freezes in the cold.

Getting Heating Systems back into Shape

The simple rule is check everything, and then check again. Everything was working the last time you switched it on, but that was almost a year ago. So make sure that every little thing is in working order. You may want professional help with this, there are plenty of plumbers nationwide such as Spie Plumbing who are part of a group of Yucaipa plumbing companies that offer this service.

Here are a few things that you need to do to get your home ready for winter.

Will Winter Come in Through the Cracks?

No matter how well heating systems work, if there are leaks and cracks through which heat can escape, they will never be effective. So check all your doors and windows. Do they close properly? Are they allowing the outside air to come in?

Let the Air Filter Through

A steady supply of air is necessary for your furnace to work properly. So if dirt and debris are clogging the filter, it could reduce heating efficiency while significantly increasing energy consumption. The best thing to do would be to change the filter before the onset of winter, and then do regular checks every week. You will probably need to install new filters once every month of winter.

Get the Temperature Just Right

Thermostats are a critical part of heating systems. These make sure that the heating of a home is just right not too cold nor too uncomfortably warm. A malfunctioning thermostat can cause more trouble than you can imagine. So check whether your thermostat is working correctly. Use a thermometer for this test.

Take Care of the Leaks

The hot air is circulated through your home through ducts. If the duct is damaged or leaking, it could mean that the heated warm air is not reaching where it should. So check all your ducts carefully.

Get Professional Help

It is true that with due diligence and care, you can solve most of the problems of your heating system. However, heating systems tend to be complex and difficult to repair. It would, therefore, be wise to call in a professional such as the ones over at to give it a thorough going over before the onset of winter.

A Warm Winter, A Safe Winter

If you choose to take care of your heating system by yourself, be sure to be careful. Wherever there are furnaces and fuel involved, there could be danger. So take all the precautions you can think of, and then some. This will not only ensure that your family stays warm but safe as well during the winter season. href=’’>image source

The writer, Edrick Hypolite, is a do it yourself enthusiast who cares about helping to keep his family warm in winters and cool in summers, and thus has learned a number of tricks to do just that without breaking the bank. You can learn more about Edrick by visiting on Google+.

Hamptons Home Fall Maintenance To Do List

We think of spring as the season for cleaning, but in fact, fall has its own To-Do list. Now’s the time to prep your yard for next summer and to make sure your house is up to snuff for cold weather. There’s no time to dawdle: Many items need to be handled in the next couple weeks, before the ground freezes (and pipes begin to burst).

Here’s a look at fall’s major maintenance requirements. If you don’t have the hours to tackle these tasks on your own, a property management company can help. A property manager can identify service providers, schedule appointments and oversee workers at your house to make sure chores are completed, which means you can enjoy your downtime.unnamed

When water freezes, it expands. When water freezes in a pipe, it expands, the pipe bursts, water escapes and serious damage results. Don’t let this happen in your Hamptons home!

If you won’t be using your home at all off-season, get a plumber in to drain all your pipes (hot water heater, toilets, faucets, appliances, etc.) and generally close your house down. If you plan to be out occasionally, you still need to have a plumber blow out the water in all pipes that could freeze. This means all pipes connected to your irrigation system, pool, AC units, hose bibs and any outdoor kitchen appliances and showers. Make sure you disconnect all garden hoses from hose spigots (even the frost-free ones) as they can cause interior pipe damage as well.

Even if you completely drain your plumbing system, it’s best to leave some heat on in your home. Mold and mildew form from condensation and your upholstery will take a hit. Leaving the heat on at least 50 degrees if you close your house will help eliminate this problem. If you plan to use your home off-season, many energy companies recommend setting your heat at 60-63 degrees while you’re away, ensuring pipes won’t freeze and giving you a couple days of wiggle room if your burner shuts off.

If you don’t have a property manager checking your home frequently (at least once or twice each week) consider installing a WiFi thermometer to monitor your home’s temperature remotely or an alarm system with an alarm company to monitor the temperature for you.

Take good care of your outdoor furniture or it’ll rapidly show its age. In addition to becoming weathered and faded by the elements, it can slowly start to fall apart. Bring outdoor furniture inside and store it in a warmer, dry place. Same goes for grills and outdoor sports equipment. If you need to leave these items outside, cover them with a protective layer.

Make an appointment with a professional for your furnace’s annual checkup. Without this yearly cleaning and inspection, your system can wear itself out quickly, pump deadly carbon monoxide into your home or simply stop working. The plus here? A clean system will save you money on fuel this winter.
Get a pro to vacuum out your burner, clean its blower, inspect belts and change the furnace filter. He should adjust dampers from summer to winter settings and seal any leaks, as well as change/clean the filters in all vents throughout your home for maximum operating efficiency.

Who knew? Throughout fall, grass is busily absorbing energy, moisture and nutrients in preparation for a long, dormant winter. This means it’s time to tackle leaves, aerate and fertilize.
The rake is your friend. Use it to get those mountains of leaves off your grass. Leaves prevent sunlight from reaching grass blades, suffocate grass and breed fungal diseases. Lawn aeration — the process of perforating soil with small holes that allow water, oxygen and fertilizer through to get closer to the grass roots — is also key. Add a fall fertilizer application to deliver essential nutrients for grass to grow deep roots now and to keep nutrients on reserve for a healthy start next spring. Go the whole nine yards and seed any bare, bald spots.
Trim trees away from your home and driveway, cutting any hanging, dead or diseased limbs. Not only does this promote fast and healthy growth in spring, but these branches can be hazardous! We get a lot of freezing rain and snow in the Hamptons, and when it hits, weakened branches can’t hold the additional weight of snow and ice and often collapse, causing serious damage.

Clogged gutters can cause serious damage to your home, potentially leading to expensive repair. Clean your gutters at least once in the fall — twice if you have a lot of trees nearby. The excess weight of leaves, twigs and standing water can cause gutters to sag and pull away from your house. In winter, clogged gutters keep water from draining off your roof, causing large ice chunk formation. When snow begins to melt, the ice prevents proper drainage and water pools on and around the edges of your roof, breaking it down.
Don’t forget to give your chimney a bath! Chimneys, fireplaces and vents should be inspected at least once a year for soundness, sooty buildup and clearances in order to prevent fire hazards. The dampening of a chimney, which can lead to cement crumbling, can ultimately result in the chimney falling. If a chimney is dampened, it may need to be repointed, which would require knowledge of the repointing a chimney cost. Repointing a chimney often involves peeling, removing, surfacing, or otherwise softening the current cement, which is valuable in maintaining the strength of your chimney. Even if you don’t use your chimney much, animals may nest in the flue or there may be other types of deterioration that could make the chimney unsafe to use.

Last but not least! Buy a cord of seasoned, dry wood and have it delivered and stacked. Many nights lie ahead when you’ll want to curl up with a glass of pinot in front of a roaring fire.

____ Pool
____ Outdoor shower (remove nozzle)
____ Outdoor kitchen (Turn off and blow out water for sinks
and icemakers, turn off electricity for refrigerators
and icemakers)
____ Hose bibs (drain and winterize; detach all hoses)

____ Outdoor furniture
____ Umbrellas
____ Outdoor TV
____ Tennis net
____ Pool pump
____ Pool floats and toys
____ Kayaks, paddle boards, bikes, etc.
____ Garden hoses

____ Inspect burner (replace furnace filters and air filters, clean
air vents and ducts, inspect blower)
____ Clear gutters
____ Clean chimney
____ Change batteries in smoke and carbon dioxide alarms

____ Remove Leaves
____ Aerate, fertilize seed and lawn
____ Turn back irrigation clocks, and ultimately, turn irrigation off
____ Trim Trees

AND MORE . . .
____ Suspend garbage pickup, if possible
____ Place snow posts along driveway to mark in the event of snow
_____ Set heat to 61 – 63 degrees even when away