Keep Your Home and Family Safe

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Keep Your Home and Family Safe

   The holiday season can bring dangerous people and situations to your own home. Criminals are looking to turn a quick buck and the holiday are a perfect opportunity for them. As a home inspector, I have intimate knowledge of the inner workings of a home as well as peoples tendencies. I have outlined some small steps to help keep you and your family safe this holiday season. 

  1.   Install working motion lights around the home. Position them so windows and doors will be bright.
  2.  Trim bushes and shrubs around windows and doors.  This should work with the motion detectors so that criminals cannot hide around your windows and doors
  3.  This next one will sound silly to most, but lock all your doors and windows.   You would be surprised to know that the majority of homes I inspect have 1 or more windows left unlocked.
  4. Leave porch lights on through the night. If you are worried about your energy bill we recommend a new LED light bulb.
  5. Do not leave window shades open and do not leave expensive belongings in clear view.
  6. Alert your neighbors or someone you trust when going away for a few days. Have them check in periodically.
  7. When out, leave the impression that someone is home. Leave a light on a timer, leave a car locked in the driveway.
  8. Have a monitored alarm system and USE IT! Just having the alarm will not help if it is not armed!
  9. Make sure all exterior doors are secured with a secondary lock. For a main door this is usually a deadbolt. For a sliding door this could be a slide lock.
  10. Make sure you have 2 lines of communication in the home. This could be a home phone and a cell phone to dial 911.

 

 

Follow these tips to help keep you safe this holiday season.  New Start Inspections wishes you and your family a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

 

Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

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Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Disconnect Water Hose.  This will help prevent your water line to the hose from freezing.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

Certified Master Inspector (CMI)buy-back-guarantee-1internachi_blue_gold

Home Safety Tips During the Holidays

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Home Safety Tips During the Holidays
    

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

Holiday Lighting

  • 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

Decorations

  • 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.

Holiday Entertaining

  • 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

Trees

  • 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.

Fireplaces

  • 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.

Security

  • 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

 

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