As the fall season nears, protecting our homes from the cooler weather is an important step in home ownership. With the fall and winter comes more rain and cooler temperatures. Here are 8 maintenance tips that can be completed over the weekend. These tasks will prepare your home for the change of season as well as reduce the chance of needing a major repair.
- Heating System Tune up. For a minimal charge of $80-$100 an HVAC contractor can check your heating system to ensure optimal performance and discover minor problems before they turn into costly major repairs. It is also a great time to change your furnace filter. You may want to consider getting your ducts cleaned as well.
- Roof and Gutters. Gutters clogged with leaves can quickly damage a homes foundation. Clean gutters and make sure they drain completely. Also consider walking the roof to look for leaks or damaged shingles. Only do these tasks if you are comfortable on ladders and working on the roof, otherwise hire a professional.
- Caulking and Paint. Fall is a great time to check for cracked or damaged caulk around your windows and doors. Moisture can quickly leak into these cracks and reek havoc. Any chipped or damaged paint should be scraped, primed, and repainted.
- Downspout Extensions. Make sure your downspouts are extended to move water 4-5 Feet away from the foundation. This is an important step any time but especially the fall and spring as this tends to be the wettest part of the year.
- Trim Landscaping. Trim your bushes and shrubs so they are 1 foot away from the surface of the home. This allows for proper air flow and lets the area dry out. Also clean any leaves and debris from around the foundation.
- Disconnect Water Hose. This will help prevent your water line to the hose from freezing.
- Chimney. Great time of year to call a qualified chimney sweep to clean and inspect your chimney. This could prevent a dangerous and costly repair. Do not light your fireplace without an annual inspection to ensure your safety.
- Crawl Space. We tend to forget about the crawlspace because we hate getting in there. This time of year is a great time to get in the crawl space to make sure there is no trouble. Check your vapor barrier, sump pumps, look for water or insect damage.
Fall is a great time for an annual home inspection. Look to New Start Inspections to inspect your home this fall. We want to help you protect your home as it is your greatest investment.
As the weather turns dangerously cold in my neck of the woods, there are some very important things to consider and remember. What if the power goes out. What if you cannot leave the house for days. It is important to be prepared and keep these tips in mind to keep you and your family safe during this cold weather.
1- Set fan on furnace to “on” to circulate air.
2- Pull all curtains and blinds shut in order to keep heat in.
3- Close doors to rooms that are not used, as long as there is not plumbing in them.
5- Make sure heating vents are not covered by furniture etc.
6- Check propane tank to make sure you have plenty of gas, this includes propane grills as you can cook if power loss occurs.
7-Leave cabinet doors under kitchen and bathroom sinks open in extreme cold to help prevent frozen pipes.
8- Avoid overloading electrical circuits with electric heaters, we recommend infrared heaters as they are not a fire hazard .
9- Be careful with fireplaces that haven’t been used or chimneys that have not been cleaned.
10- Make sure your heating equipment has been serviced annually.
11- Block off unused fireplaces, because they can suck the heat out.
12- Stay in contact with family and friends.
13- Set up a plan for shelter if you were to lose power.
14- If you have a generator, make sure it runs and that you have gas.
15- Make sure your cars and trucks are fully fueled.
16- Check on elderly as it is difficult for them during harsh weather
Stay safe and warm during this winter. If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact me anytime at:
New Start Inspections Corp
This time of year brings families and friends together. We have put together some safety tips to help ensure your holiday season is safe. Happy Holiday and Merry Christmas from New Start Inspections
Use caution with holiday decorations and, whenever possible, choose those made with flame-resistant, flame-retardant and non-combustible materials.
Keep candles away from decorations and other combustible materials. Do not use candles to decorate Christmas trees.
Carefully inspect new and previously used light strings, and replace damaged items before plugging lights in. If you have any questions about electrical safety, ask an InterNACHI inspector during your next scheduled inspection. Do not overload extension cords.
Don’t mount lights in any way that can damage the cord’s wire insulation. To hold lights in place, string them through hooks or insulated staples–don’t use nails or tacks. Never pull or tug lights to remove them.
Keep children and pets away from light strings and electrical decorations.
Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching a branch could be electrocuted.
Before using lights outdoors, check labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use.
Make sure all the bulbs work and that there are no frayed wires, broken sockets or loose connections.
Plug all outdoor electric decorations into circuits with ground-fault circuit interrupters to avoid potential shocks.
Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house. The lights could short out and start a fire.
- Use caution when climbing ladders. Keep all ladders clear of overhead power lines
Use only non-combustible and flame-resistant materials to trim a tree. Choose tinsel and artificial icicles of plastic and non-leaded metals.
Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Always use non-flammable holders, and place candles where they will not be knocked down.
In homes with small children, take special care to avoid decorations that are sharp and breakable, and keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children.
Avoid trimmings that resemble candy and food that may tempt a young child to put them in his mouth.
Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the U.S. When cooking for holiday visitors, remember to keep an eye on the range.
Provide plenty of large, deep ashtrays, and check them frequently. Cigarette butts can smolder in the trash and cause a fire, so completely douse cigarette butts with water before discarding.(Or set up an ashtray on the porch or patio and ask guests step outside to smoke.)
Keep matches and lighters up high, out of sight and reach of children (preferably in a locked cabinet).
Test your smoke alarms, and let guests know what your fire escape plan is.
- Make sure all walks and driveways are clear of ice and are not slick
When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label “fire-resistant.”
When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree is green, needles are hard to pull from branches, and when bent between your fingers, needles do not break.
When setting up a tree at home, place it away from fireplaces, radiators and portable heaters. Place the tree out of the way of traffic and do not block doorways.
Cut a few inches off the trunk of your tree to expose the fresh wood. This allows for better water absorption and will help to keep your tree from drying out and becoming a fire hazard.
Be sure to keep the stand filled with water, because heated rooms can dry live trees out rapidly.
Make sure the base is steady so the tree won’t tip over easily.
Before lighting any fire, remove all greens, boughs, papers and other decorations from fireplace area. Check to see that the flue is open.
Use care with “fire salts,” which produce colored flames when thrown on wood fires. They contain heavy metals that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting if eaten.
Do not burn wrapping papers in the fireplace. A flash fire may result as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely.
- Keep area around the fireplace clear from gifts, coats and anything flammable
Toys and Ornaments
Purchase appropriate toys for the appropriate age. Some toys designed for older children might be dangerous for younger children.
Electric toys should be UL/FM approved.
- Do not allow small children to play with small toys and parts they could choke on.
Toys with sharp points, sharp edges, strings, cords, and parts small enough to be swallowed should not be given to small children.
Place older ornaments and decorations that might be painted with lead paint out of the reach of small children and pets.
Children and Pets
Keep decorations at least 6 inches above the child’s reach.
Avoid using tinsel. It can fall on the floor and a curious child or pet may eat it. This can cause anything from mild distress to death.
Keep any ribbons on gifts and tree ornaments shorter than 7 inches. A child could wrap a longer strand of ribbon around their neck and choke.
Avoid mittens with strings for children. The string can get tangled around the child’s neck and cause them to choke. It is easier to replace a mitten than a child.
Watch children and pets around space heaters or the fireplace. Do not leave a child or pet unattended.
Store scissors and any sharp objects that you use to wrap presents out of your child’s reach.
Inspect wrapped gifts for small decorations, such as candy canes, gingerbread men, and mistletoe berries, all of which are choking hazards.
Use your home burglar alarm system.
If you plan to travel for the holidays, don’t discuss your plans with strangers.
Have a trusted friend or neighbor to keep an eye on your home.
- Have exterior motion activated lights and leave your front porch lights on.
- Do not post travel plans on Facebook or other social media sites.
This was written in conjunction with InterNACHI and Louis Annee, CMI with New Start Inspections Corp
12 Home Safety Devices to Protect Your Children
About 2-1/2 million children are injured or killed by hazards in the home each year. The good news is that many of these incidents can be prevented by using simple child safety devices on the market today.
Any safety device you buy should be sturdy enough to prevent injury to your child, yet easy for you to use. It’s important to follow installation instructions carefully. In addition, if you have older children in the house, be sure they re-secure safety devices. Remember, too, that no device is completely childproof; determined youngsters have been known to disable them.
You can childproof your home for a fraction of what it would cost to have a professional do it. And safety devices are easy to find. You can buy them at hardware stores, baby equipment shops, supermarkets, drug stores, home and linen stores, and through mail order catalogs.
Here are some child safety devices that can help prevent many injuries to young children.
1. Safety Latches and Locks
Use Safety Latches and Locks for cabinets and drawers in kitchens, bathrooms, and other areas to help prevent poisonings and other injuries. Safety latches and locks on cabinets and drawers can help prevent children from gaining access to medicines and household cleaners, as well as knives and other sharp objects.
Look for safety latches and locks that adults can easily install and use, but are sturdy enough to withstand pulls and tugs from children. Safety latches are not a guarantee of protection, but they can make it more difficult for children to reach dangerous substances. Even products with child-resistant packaging should be locked away, out of reach; this packaging is not childproof.
Typical cost of a safety latch or lock: less than $2.
2. Safety Gates
Use Safety Gates to help prevent falls down stairs and to keep children away from dangerous areas. Safety gates can help keep children away from stairs or rooms that have hazards in them. Look for safety gates that children cannot dislodge easily, but that adults can open and close without difficulty. For the top of stairs, gates that screw to the wall are more secure than “pressure gates.”
New safety gates that meet safety standards display a certification seal from the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA). If you have an older safety gate, be sure it doesn’t have “V” shapes that are large enough for a child’s head and neck to fit into.
Typical cost of a safety gate: $13 to $40.
3. Door Knob Covers and Door Locks
Use Door Knob Covers and Door Locks to help prevent children from entering rooms and other areas with possible dangers. Door knob covers and door locks can help keep children away from places with hazards, including swimming pools.
Be sure the door knob cover is sturdy enough not to break, but allows a door to be opened quickly by an adult in case of emergency. By restricting access to potentially hazardous rooms in the home, door knob covers could help prevent many kinds of injuries. To prevent access to swimming pools, door locks should be placed high out of reach of young children. Locks should be used in addition to fences and door alarms. Sliding glass doors, with locks that must be re-secured after each use, are often not an effective barrier to pools.
Typical cost of a door knob cover: $1 and door lock: $5 and up.
4. Anti-Scald Devices
Use Anti-Scald Devices for faucets and shower heads and set your water heater temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit to help prevent burns from hot water. Anti-scald devices for regulating water temperature can help prevent burns.
Consider using anti-scald devices for faucets and shower heads. A plumber may need to install these. In addition, if you live in your own home, set water heater temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit to help prevent burns from hot water.
Typical cost of an anti-scald device: $6 to $30.
5. Smoke Detectors
Use Smoke Detectors on every level of your home and near bedrooms to alert you to fires. Smoke detectors are essential safety devices for protection against fire deaths and injuries.
Check smoke detectors once a month to make sure they’re working. If detectors are battery-operated, change batteries at least once a year or consider using 10-year batteries.
Typical cost of a smoke detector: less than $10.
6. Window Guards and Safety Netting
Use Window Guards and Safety Netting to help prevent falls from windows, balconies, decks, and landings. Window guards and safety netting for balconies and decks can help prevent serious falls.
Check these safety devices frequently to make sure they are secure and properly installed and maintained. There should be no more than four inches between the bars of the window guard. If you have window guards, be sure at least one window in each room can be easily used for escape in a fire. Window screens are not effective for preventing children from falling out of windows.
Typical cost of a window guard or safety netting: $8 to $16.
7. Corner and Edge Bumpers
Use Corner and Edge Bumpers to help prevent injuries from falls against sharp edges of furniture and fireplaces. Corner and edge bumpers can be used with furniture and fireplace hearths to help prevent injuries from falls or to soften falls against sharp or rough edges.
Be sure to look for bumpers that stay securely on furniture or hearth edges.
Typical cost of a corner and edge bumper: $1 and up.
8. Outlet Covers and Plates
Use Outlet Covers and Outlet Plates to help prevent electrocution. Outlet covers and outlet plates can help protect children from electrical shock and possible electrocution.
Be sure the outlet protectors cannot be easily removed by children and are large enough so that children cannot choke on them.
Typical cost of an outlet cover: less than $2.
9. Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Use a Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detector outside bedrooms to help prevent CO poisoning. A carbon monoxide (CO) detector can help prevent CO poisoning. Consumers should install CO detectors near sleeping areas in their homes. Households that should use CO detectors include those with gas or oil heat or with attached garages.
Typical cost of a carbon monoxide (CO) detector: $30 to $70.
10. Cut Window Blind Cords
Cut Window Blind Cords; use Safety Tassels and Inner Cord Stops to help prevent children from strangling in blind cord loops. Window blind cord safety tassels on mini-blinds and tension devices on vertical blinds and drapery cords can help prevent deaths and injuries from strangulation in the loops of cords. Inner cord stops can help prevent strangulation in the inner cords of window blinds.
For older mini-blinds, cut the cord loop, remove the buckle, and put safety tassels on each cord. Be sure that older vertical blinds and drapery cords have tension or tie-down devices to hold the cords tight. When buying new mini-blinds, verticals, and draperies, ask for safety features to prevent child strangulation.
11. Door Stops and Holders
Use Door Stops and Door Holders to help prevent injuries to fingers and hands. Door stops and door holders on doors and door hinges can help prevent small fingers and hands from being pinched or crushed in doors and door hinges.
Be sure any safety device for doors is easy to use and is not likely to break into small parts, which could be a choking hazard for young children.
Typical cost of a door stop and door holder: less than $4.
12. Cordless Phones
Use a Cordless Phone to make it easier to continuously watch young children, especially when they’re in bathtubs, swimming pools, or other potentially dangerous areas.
Cordless phones help you watch your child continuously, without leaving the vicinity to answer a phone call. Cordless phones are especially helpful when children are in or near water, whether it’s the bathtub, the swimming pool, or the beach.
Typical cost of a cordless phone: $30 and up.