Ginger used to follow me around on the farm everywhere I went. Ginger was a dog that some would refer to as a Heinz 57, which means her bloodline was mixed. To me as a six-year-old, she was incredibly smart and seemed to “talk” with her bark. She understood me and I understood her. We were best friends.

One snowy morning I walked outside, and Ginger was not there eagerly waiting as always. Instead, Ginger was under a Juniper bush and her snow-covered head was all I could see. I reached out to pet her and was surprised when she snapped her warning to me. Lo and behold she was feeding five beautiful puppies! It was an incredible surprise since I didn’t have a clue, she was pregnant.

Surprises are all around us. Good surprises are exciting. The Huskers beating Michigan State in the final minutes last weekend was an exciting surprise. There are also pleasant surprises like the other day Deb, and I was pleasantly surprised with the news that our 14th grandchild is on the way. Grandkids are a special surprise.

There are also bad surprises that can disrupt life. A flat tire can be a bad surprise. A car accident is an especially bad surprise if there are injuries.

The good news is many of the bad surprises can be avoided if we are well prepared. Planning to avoid bad surprises in the plumbing and HVAC world is a great example. Here are some easy ways to plan:

  1. With another cold Nebraska winter around the corner, one of the easiest ways to prevent water damage surprises is to make sure garden hoses are unhooked so water does not freeze and break hose bib piping. A good practice this time of year is to completely remove the hoses from the area.
  2. To avoid a water leak surprise in the spring, lawn sprinkler systems need to be shut off and drained to prevent freeze-up damage. Many sprinkler systems are self-draining after being shut off, but some need to be blown out with air pressure. Vacuum breakers have drain ports that should typically be left in the open position after draining.
  3. Water and sewage damage risks are always present in homes or businesses. Imagine being surprised with a floor covered in sewage or water. Water damage risks can be greatly reduced by installing water alarms that can be as inexpensive as $12. There are many water alarm options available at various price ranges.
    Some alarm systems can even shut off the water supply if spilled water is detected. Installing a high water alarm in a sump pump pit is a great way to prevent flooded basements. Another good location for water detection alarms is under a water heater. If there is a water flood, it’s important to know how to shut off the water supply valve.
  4. Carbon monoxide poisoning may not be a surprise if it puts you to sleep permanently! The best way to avoid carbon monoxide surprises is with alarms with good batteries.
    Water heaters are one of the most common sources of carbon monoxide poisoning that often results from poor maintenance. The burners naturally get dirty over time and do not allow natural gas to burn as efficiently. Levels of carbon monoxide go up and the flue gas is cooler, which reduces the natural drafting of flue gases. The flue gases can then backdraft more easily.

    Ideally, water heaters should be maintained and checked on an annual basis. The same can be said for natural gas furnaces that commonly experience failed heat exchangers. Maintenance prevents surprises!

  5. There are pleasant surprises too, like the Lennox iComfort smart thermostat that will improve comfort. It can automatically adjust temperatures as you drive away or arrive back in the area within a distance you programmed.

You can adjust it to new settings with your iPhone or just check various conditions. It is easily programmable for occupancy times. It can even give you an energy report.

The Lennox iComfort can also adjust your HVAC equipment to respond to outside weather conditions or increase fan run time to improve filtration and reduce high pollen counts.

Simple technology during a no-heat situation can generate a warning to you with a text or phone call so you have time to react.

New technology in thermostats is a comforting surprise!

There do not have to be as many bad surprises in life if we plan and stack the deck in our favor.

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