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10 Ways to Warm Up Your Bathroom in Winter

January 13, 2017

During the chilly winter months, the thought of touching your feet to the bathroom’s ice-cold tile floors is enough to make you want to avoid the room altogether. And as for that dreaded moment when you step out of the steamy warmth of the shower into the frigid air—forget it! But there are some easy ways to cut the chill; here are ten ideas that will turn your bathroom into a cozy retreat during the coldest part of the year.

By Faith Towers

  1. A Case of Cold Feet


    There is nothing worse than touching cold tile with your bare feet. To mitigate the problem, place a few thick rugs in front of the sink, toilet, and shower. Not only will they keep your feet warm, but they will also lend a soft, inviting feel to the bathroom.

    Photo: westelm.com

  2. A Warm Welcome


    Believe it or not, the visual warmth of a room can help to make it actually feel warmer. Decorate with warmer tones to give the space an intimate feel. Red, orange and yellow tones along with warm wood finishes will all help to lend a cozy ambiance to the space.

    Photo: Houzz via Michael Knowles, Architect

  3. Efficiency Check

    If your bathroom feels chillier than the rest of the house, the windows may be the culprit. Perform a quick test to see if your windows are letting in drafts by holding up a piece of tissue around the perimeter—if it moves, you have an air leak. Caulk around the window to prevent future air flow.

  4. Window of Opportunity

    Let the sun shine in through the windows. The daylight will raise the temperature of the room slightly, and the sun’s bright rays will give your skin a warm sensation. If you are concerned about privacy, apply a decorative translucent film to the bottom half of the window.

  5. Coming In Hot

    If you hate the feeling of wrapping up in a cold towel right after a hot shower, try this. Hang the over the edge of the shower door or shower rod so you don’t have to let the cold air in to reach it when you are finished. Just be sure to place it out of the way of any potential splashes, because a wet towel is even worse than a cold one.

  6. Don’t Be Left Out In The Cold

    Do you break out in goosebumps each morning when you leave your humid bathroom to go assemble the day’s outfit? Instead, choose it ahead of time and hang it on the back of the door. The clothing will heat up in the balmy bathroom—and the steam will loosen small wrinkles, too!


  7. Throw In The Towel

    If simply hanging your towel over the edge of the shower door isn’t enough, you may want to invest in a heated towel warmer. They are usually mounted to the wall, and will warm up your towel all the while that you are in the shower.

  8. In The Heat of The Moment

    Heat lamps are another great way to raise the temperature of the room for a brief period. Switching on a special lamp is much more efficient than, say, turning up the heat for the whole zone just so the bathroom will be warm when you get out of the shower. Your local home improvement store can help you pick the right one for your space.

  9. Water It Down

    If you have radiators that don’t warm up completely, chances are it needs bleeding. Bleeding a radiator lets trapped air out of the system, allowing hot water to fully warm up the radiator. To do this, simply turn the radiator’s bleed valve counter-clockwise slightly with a radiator key (or a flat screwdriver) until you hear a hissing sound. Once water begins exiting the valve, turn the key clockwise to close it.

  10. Take The Floor

    If you’re really serious about staying warm in the bathroom, consider adding radiant floor heating. Electric heating coils or water-heated tubing are added underneath your floors, creating warmth that rises from the floors upward to heat the room naturally. Not only will these heated floors keep your toes warm, but they’ll heat the entire room as well.

    Ready to warm up your floors with radiant heating? Contact us today!

    Jim Lavallee Plumbing

    Serving Eastern Massachusetts and the Boston area
    Phone: Toll-free (888) 884-4122

Solve Common Furnace Problems with 9 Easy Fixes

January 11, 2017

Furnace not performing up to snuff this winter? Before you call in a furnace repair company, go through these 9 troubleshooting tasks to see if you can uncover the problem yourself.

By Christopher Solomon

  1. Set to “Heat”

    “This sounds obvious, but it’s true: A lot of people don’t have their thermostat set right,” says Bobby DiFulgentiz, director of product management for Lennox International. Double-check that the thermostat is set correctly. The switch can easily get moved—say, during dusting. DiFulgentiz also advises to make sure the set point is at a temperature that will actually turn on the furnace.


  2. Filter Out Trouble

    Check your filter for obvious dirt. Don’t try to skimp by cleaning and reusing cheap hardware-store filters, says Mike Bonner, at Gray Furnace Man. They have been sprayed with an oil that catches dirt, and once saturated they are no longer effective. “I recommend that homeowners replace their filters once a month,” says Bonner. “A monthly routine will be much easier to remember than every two months—and it’s that important.”


  3. Batteries Not Included

    Some thermostats are wired to the home’s electrical system, while others use batteries. How is yours powered? Sometimes those that use batteries will flash a low-battery symbol when they need a replacement, but the signal often goes unnoticed, says Bonner.


  4. Do You Have Juice?

    You need to know if the furnace is getting electricity, so check. Most thermostats have a switch for the fan that says either “On” or “Auto” (which means that the fan turns on when the equipment comes on). Throw the switch to “On.” “If the fan comes on, then you know you’ve got power to the furnace. If it doesn’t, you know you’ve got other problems,” Bonner says.


  5. Look at the Circuit Breaker

    Still haven’t found the problem? Go to your breaker panel and look for the circuit that controls the furnace. “You’re looking for the one switch that seems in a different position from all the others,” says Bonner. “To fix it, throw it all the way off, then back on.”


  6. Throw ANOTHER Switch

    Furnaces have another switch that often looks like a regular light switch. It can be located either on the unit or on a wall nearby. Often this switch is unlabeled. If installed correctly, the switch in the up position is “On.” Unfortunately, this switch can sometimes be mistaken for a light switch and be accidentally turned off. Throw this switch and give it a few minutes, as some furnaces have a few minutes’ delay.


  7. Break the Code

    Furnaces built after 1990 have a tiny window where a light shows through. That light can flash a code to help you know what’s going on. If you’ve flipped the furnace switch off, then back on, note the sequence of the flashing light. Then open the furnace’s access panels. Inside one will be a key that tells you what the code means. That meaning will be useful information to tell a technician if the furnace still won’t start after you replace the panels.


  8. Follow the Light

    “If your furnace has a pilot light—anything less than 20 years old won’t—there are instructions in your owner’s manual for how to relight the pilot,” says Bonner. A modestly capable homeowner should be able to do it. You’re dealing with fire, however, so don’t do anything you’re not comfortable with.


  9. Check the Gas Valve

    If all else fails, check the furnace’s gas valve to make sure that it hasn’t somehow been turned to the “Off ” position. Any gas furnace has a gas cock, or valve, that has to be located within six feet of the furnace, Bonner says. This is usually never touched, but you could check it. Another way to double-check: If you have more than one gas appliance, find out if it’s working. If it is, you know that the gas line into the home is OK.


  10. Call Us

    So when should you give up troubleshooting your furnace yourself and call in the cavalry? That point varies for every homeowner. “When you get uncomfortable, call somebody,” Bonner says.

    Jim Lavallee Plumbing
    Serving Eastern Massachusetts and the Boston area
    Phone: Toll-free (888) 884-4122


11 Stylish Ways to Enhance—or Hide—Your Radiators

January 9, 2017

With much of the nation experiencing the bitterest temperatures on record, many of us are appreciating our radiators like never before. Why not show that love by considering one of these decorative finishes or encasement’s for our trusted cold-weather friends?

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    Make your radiator part of the room’s decor by painting it a coordinated color. “Spice it up with a gradated ombre pattern,” suggests stylist Janet Lee, of LivinginaNutshell.com, “or highlight it with a hot color that contrasts with your wall.”

    Photo: Aimee Herring/Living in a Nutshell

  • Always in Style


    A built-in radiator cover fronted with grates fits seamlessly into traditional interiors and offers a prominent resting spot for houseplants or other displays.

    Photo: fdphoto.biz

  • A Grand Entrance


    The functionality of a foyer radiator does not have to dash your dreams of an elegant entryway. A built-in bench like this one offers a stylish perch to slip on shoes and prepare for the day ahead.

    Photo: conardromano.com

  • A Modern Twist


    Radiator covers can be made to match any decorating scheme from classic to contemporary, as the clean-lined, honey-tone wood design in this urban kids’ room attests.

    Photo: neuarch.com

  • Kitchen Camouflage


    White slats and a butcher-block top help a radiator below the window in this airy kitchen blend into its surroundings.

    Photo: squarefootageinc.com

  • A Simple Solution


    Positioning a delicately detailed table directly above a radiator creates a charming vanity area with ample natural light.

    Photo: yaarch.com

  • Bookcase Basics


    The overall plan for a wall of bookshelves cleverly incorporated two covered radiators—a smart solution for this well-appointed living room.

    Photo: sigmarlondon.com

  • Simplicity Itself


    A small marble slab secured to the wall above a bathroom radiator becomes an ideal spot to rest a scented candle, a bottle of bubble bath, or even a warmed towel.

    Photo: kaseybuick.com

  • Best Seat in the House


    To create a cozy reading nook, enclose a low radiator in front of a window with a banquette and top it off with an upholstered cushion.

    Photo: sadrodesign.com

  • Mix and Match


    Grates for radiator covers come in myriad patterns, so choose one that underscores the overall look of a room, as the radiator grilles in this whimsical living room do.

    Photo: amylaudesign.com

  • A Unified Look


    In this sunny home office, white-washed radiators were topped with the same warm wood surface as the desk area, drawers, and file cabinets around the room.

    Photo: jeffclarkearchitect.com


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