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Safe Grilling

As boring as it may sound, an electric grill can still make a decent burger. And it’s probably the safest grill you will ever use. Since there is no open flame, there is no danger of carbon monoxide poisoning. There is no fuel, so hazards with fuel storage and handling don’t exist. There is also no need to use lighter fluid or any other starter.

As with any electric tool or appliance, be cautious when using an extension cord. Keep the cord out of walking paths. This helps prevent a trip hazard. Always unplug it when not in use. In general, make sure it’s being used in a safe place. Keep it away from kids, keep it away from pets, and keep it away from friends who have been drinking too much. If it’s hot enough to cook meat, it’s hot enough to burn people.

Be careful with these immediately after use. They stay hot, but there is usually no indicator that they are still hot. This can be especially dangerous for children.

How Much Water Is Too Much?

Have you ever wanted to find out what your faucet flow rate is? You might not even realize that there is such a measurement, but it can be useful for homeowners, especially if they want to conserve water. If your flow rate is too high, that is over 1.5 gallons per minute, and you have a well that tends to run dry at times, you would definitely benefit from adjusting the flow rate.

So how do you find out what the flow rate of a faucet is? The simplest method is to take a measuring container and then fill it up with the faucet fully opened. Time how long it takes to fill it, and then do the math to calculate how many gallons per minute it translates to. One way to have a faucet that functions well even with a lower flow rate is to install an aerator. This will give you more pressure with less water by introducing air into the water flow.

Getting Your Bathroom Fan Working

Don’t you hate it when you go to look in the mirror, but it is covered in condensation so that you can’t see a thing? This is a common issue in bathrooms, especially those with poor ventilation. Whenever hot water runs, there is also steam released, which will condensate on cold objects. You might see this happening on your toilet seat, metal fixtures and, in some cases even on walls. While this is not a major cause for concern, it could cause problems with mold and other water damage over time.

Your best solution to this problem is to take a look at your bathroom ceiling fan since it likely isn’t doing its job very well. A bathroom fan needs to pull out the air from the bathroom and funnel it outside, not into the attic or crawlspace, since releasing moisture into those areas will be just as damaging as having it remain in the bathroom. If your fan is full of dust or there is debris in the duct, this would impede airflow and compound the problem.

Using Less Water

Do you ever worry about the amount of water you and your family use? Some might not care too much, but if you are concerned about the environment, or if there is a cost for you getting water, there are steps you can take to lower your water usage. The largest culprit when it comes to excessive water use is your toilet. Older toilets used 7 gallons per flush. Modern toilets use much less but in some homes, the toilet hasn’t been upgraded in decades. The same is the case with other older appliances that use water. Getting them upgraded can make a big difference.

You can also consider the way you use water. Do you have a tendency to leave the water running while not actively using it? If so, train yourself to turn off the faucet when you don’t need water. Consider taking shorter showers as well. While it can be very nice to spend some time in a warm shower, it does waste a lot of water. You can also get in the habit of turning off the water when using soap to waste even less.

Keeping Sewer Gas Out

There are many parts to a home that you don’t really pay much attention to unless there is some kind of problem or failure. Your p-trap is definitely in that category. When your p-traps function properly, sewer gas can’t make it into your home causing smells and health issues. If a p-trap fails, however, the gas will have free rein of your home.

For a p-trap to function, there needs to be a specific amount of water sitting in the bend, so what can happen to make it so this doesn’t happen? One common issue is with p-traps that aren’t used very often. The water inside of such p-traps evaporates over time, leading to an open channel for the sewer gas to travel. To prevent this from happening, a tap primer can be installed that will top off the water when it runs low.

Another common issue is poorly installed appliances that all drain through the same p-trap. As a rule, you should never have more than 2 appliances or sinks draining through the same p-trap. More than that and the p-trap can fail.

Pros And Cons Of Window Bars

very homeowner wants to ensure the safety of all who live in the home and will look for the best ways to do so. One option some people decide on for extra security is window bars or safety bars. These metal bars fix onto the exterior of a window, typically the basement or ground floor windows. In this way, they prevent intruders from entering the home through a window.

The question that should be asked, though, is how safe are these types of window bars? While they may provide the homeowner with a sense of security, there are some downsides. A big safety concern is whether the occupant of the home could escape easily in the event of a fire or some other problem inside the house. Window bars could prevent a person from escaping through essential exit points and even hinder firefighters as they look for vital points of entry.

What can you do if you live in an area where you feel window bars are necessary? Window bars should be fitted with a quick-release mechanism. They should be not be complicated to use and should not require special tools to open them. They need to be simple to use so that even young children or very elderly people could operate them. Remember, in the event of a fire, a person can become very disoriented and start to panic, so a complicated release mechanism could cost valuable time.

To review, then, there are many security advantages to having window bars on the lower level windows of the home, but there are some major safety concerns in the event of a fire or other problem. So, it’s important to make sure they are fitted with a quick-release mechanism.

Wooden Siding Options

If you have built your own home or are about to, you will probably be familiar with the many exterior cladding options that are available to you. One option that has been around for many years is wooden siding. If this is a choice you are considering, what are some helpful things to know about it? Let’s look at a few of the wooden siding options available:

One of the more common types of wood siding is solid wood or lumber. You will find this can be arranged in a variety of combinations such as horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. This is a good wood siding option because of its attractive look and, as long as its well maintained, durability.

Hardboard is another, cheaper, option for wood siding. This is usually made up of compressed wood fiberboard that is made with synthetic adhesive, generally treated with EPA approved preservative. This helps to prevent decay and damage caused by insects.

Plywood is also used for wood siding. The types of wood generally used for this are: yellow pine, Douglas fir, and red cedar. This is a good option as it can add to the structural strength of the home, whether it’s fitted horizontally or vertically.

Weatherboard also referred to as clapboard is installed horizontally with long boards that overlap. Typical woods used for this are redwood or cedar due to their strength and not being as prone to decay.

From this brief consideration, we can see that there are many different types of wood siding and we have not considered all of them. So, if you are thinking about wooden siding for your new home, its worth taking time to decide which type is right for you.

Is Vinyl Siding A Good Option?

There are multiple choices of exterior cladding these days, one very popular type is vinyl siding. Whether you are fixing up a home and thinking about using vinyl siding or are about to purchase a home that already has it, its good to know a little bit about it. Let’s look at a few of the benefits to vinyl siding as well as the potential disadvantages

If installed properly, vinyl siding is durable and difficult to dent material. Another benefit is that it is rustproof and will not fade easily. It is also easy to maintain, simply requiring cleaning once a year or so. These are all important factors to consider with something that will be covering a large portion of the home’s exterior. You want it to last a long time.

While vinyl siding is a good choice, what are some things to be aware of? In certain circumstances and conditions, vinyl siding could be susceptible to damage (although we could expect that with most exterior siding). For example, the weather can affect it. Extremely hot temperatures could cause the siding to warp and melt, whereas extremely cold temperatures could cause the siding to become brittle which would make it prone to cracking.

You should also be aware that vinyl siding does not act as extra insulation and so it will not provide extra energy savings. Another point is that should a fire occur in or even around the home, hazardous chemicals could be emitted from the siding, making it dangerous for the home’s occupants.

After this very brief consideration, perhaps you feel that vinyl siding is the choice for you. Just remember to make sure it is installed properly.

The Kitchen….Revealing A Homes Condition

​We are well aware that for many homeowners one of the most important rooms of the house is the kitchen. Therefore, we make sure to inspect them thoroughly. We can also learn a lot about what kind of condition the rest of the house is in by the state of the kitchen. If you are looking around a potential new home what are some possible warning signs to look for in the kitchen?

Check the kitchen sink. What is the water pressure like when you turn on the faucet? If it seems low, then try to find out why. Does the water drain well? Check in the cabinet under the sink and look for any water damage or signs of water leaks.

Dishwashers are another area of concern. Again, check the surrounding area for signs of a water leak, what do the surrounding cabinets look like inside? If you are able to check the hoses and seals, what kind of condition are they in? These can be serious issues because water damage can cause rotting of the sub floor and even mold problems so it’s not something to ignore.

Countertops. Look for any signs of damage here as well. All kinds of bacteria can form in cracked tiles, grout or cracked laminate and although they can be replaced relatively easily, you might not want the extra expense.

Do all the electrical outlets work? If not, you will need to find out why as this might indicate a bigger issue with the house. Is the oven gas? If it is, do you smell any gas in the area of the stove? Is it working properly?

Although a home inspection will expose any major problems with a house, it’s helpful to know what to check for when looking around a home. Please feel free to contact us with any questions you may have.

Underhanded Sales Tactics

If you are thinking about constructing your own home, there is much to think about. Finding the right developer is a key to making this a success. So, what are some ways to make sure you hire the right company? One way is to be on your guard against dishonesty. Whether it’s the developers themselves or their high-pressure sales team, it’s good to be aware of some of the sales tactics that might be used to get you to sign up. Here are a few of the underhand sales tactics to be aware of:

You may have seen advertised some very low prices but then find out that all of the so-called low priced lots have gone. Be careful if at this point you are offered much higher priced lots.

Do not allow yourself to be convinced that you will “miss out” if you don’t decide to buy there and then. Quick decisions often lead to long term regrets.

Many people choose to purchase lots from developers because of all the amenities they have been promised. Make sure that all of the things you’ve been promised are fully listed on the property report.

Be cautious of allowing yourself to be led by the assurance that you are buying an excellent investment. An underhand sales tactic is to tell you all kinds of facts and figures about population growth and real estate prices in the area, but this may not apply to the precise area you are looking to buy. It might not be that easy to resell the lot either, particularly if the developer still has lots for sale.

While not all developers and sales teams are dishonest, its good to be aware of some of these sales tactics so you can avoid becoming being misled.

How Many Smoke Alarms Should Your Home Have?

Many of the house fire-related deaths that occur each year in the United States could have been avoided if the home had working smoke detectors in it. With this in mind, it’s good to periodically check over our homes and look for ways to improve on fire safety. To start with, it’s good to think about how many smoke detectors your home should have.

A good general rule to follow is to have a smoke detector on every livable floor of the home. You would also want to include the garage and basement. For extra safety, it’s wise to have one in each occupied bedroom as well.

Regularly checking all smoke alarms (and carbon monoxide alarms) is another important way to stay safe. Every month go through the home testing all the alarms, making sure they do not need new batteries and that they are in good working order. It is a very bad idea to disconnect a smoke alarm, even if cooking food sets it off constantly. This is because it is all too easy to forget to reconnect the alarm again.

All members of the household must know exactly what to do in the event of a fire, this is why it’s good to perform a periodic fire drill. Everyone should be able to hear smoke detectors and recognize the alarms sound so it should be loud and distinct.

You can never be too careful when it comes to fire safety in your home. Taking time to follow these brief suggestions will go a long way to helping your family in the event of a fire emergency.

Insulation – Hazardous Or Helpful?

Insulation comes in all shapes and sizes. It could be cellulose, perlite, and other types that are made for specific types of homes. But that are some things you must know about insulation before you install it into your home or replace some in your home. With these tips in mind, you can further protect yourself and your family.

Insulation uses all sorts of chemicals when combined with each other in order to create a thick layer to keep the heat inside your house, and the cold outside of it. For example, fiberglass insulation can have tiny glass particles as well as deadly dust if taken into your lungs over time, it can heavily affect your breathing and can cause irritation to your skin.; Wearing the proper ppe during the project is definitely a must if you wish to remain healthy and free from the chemicals in insulation.

Keeping these things in mind regarding insulation will continue to allow yourself to protect yourself as well as your family while maintaining a safe and warm environment in your home.

You Have The Power

When you need to connect several electronic devices to power at once, you more than likely plugged in a power strip to make sure you had enough receptacles to plug them all in. That is the purpose of a power strip, and it will definitely fulfill your needs at the time, but there is a correct way and an incorrect way to use power strips. Why does it matter? If you were to overload a power-strip, you could cause a fire.

How could you end up overloading a power-strip? There are many different ways in which this could happen. For example, you should never plug one power-strip into another. If you do that, you could end up with too much current going through the first power-strip. You also shouldn’t run a power-strip underneath a carpet. Having it covered by carpet can easily cause it to overheat. There are many appliances that shouldn’t be plugged into a power-strip because of the amount of power that they draw. Remember that the purpose of a power-strip is not to function as an extension cord, but just to give you more receptacles to use.

Keeping Cool With Your AC

Depending on where you live, temperatures and air humidity can make it quite unbearable to live without it. It is especially important for older ones since they often have other health problems that get exacerbated when exposed to extreme temperatures.

Central air conditioning is very convenient, since unlike window mounted air conditioners, it doesn’t require any extra work when the seasons change. However, it is important to make sure that it is kept in good shape, since a system replacement can cost quite a bit.

You could choose to have a service company do regular checkups, but if you don’t want to have that extra expense, many basic parts of the air conditioning system can be maintained by you yourself.

Changing filters in your unit is very important, since a dirty or clogged filter will make your air conditioner less efficient. You should also make sure that your vents are sealed well. If you notice that there is unusually cold air in crawl spaces or other areas that aren’t supposed to be climate controlled, you might have a leak dumping cool air in those areas.

Home Safety…Tip-Over Risks

Although better standards of safety are put into practice each year by furniture manufacturers, the fact remains that many injuries are still caused as a result of furniture items tipping over, with many of these accidents involving children. The main reason for this is that those standards of safety have not been implemented in the home. So, let’s look at some of the ways to avoid tip-over hazards in the home.

Furniture items such as shelving units and dressers, etc. need to be stabilized by securing them to a wall. You can do this using L brackets or straps.

If a child sees an object they desire they will often try to reach for it using any means necessary, like climbing on the furniture. Although it is a good idea to keep certain items out of a child’s reach, its also best to store them out of sight as well.

When shopping for furniture look for sturdy items that have a wider base. Store heavier objects in the lower drawers of a dresser to increase sturdiness and prevent them from becoming top-heavy. This would apply to a shelving unit also.

Televisions tip over easily so place them as far back as possible on a low tv unit or stand. Be wary of loose hanging electrical cords as these are a big risk for small children.

As you look through your home, you may notice many more areas that could be a tip-over risk and, as we have seen, several things can be done to prevent this type of accident.

Well, Well, Well…

Having a well is something that many homeowners find reassuring. They like the fact that they have control over their own water source, as well as, the feeling that their water is higher quality. This is, however, not always the case. Why is that? There are many things that can contaminate your well water. If you were to spill any chemicals near the location of your well, it can seep down all the way to the well and end up in your drinking water. This is why you should never park a vehicle on top of your well, since they could leak out harmful chemicals.

Your septic system could also contaminate your well if it is less than 50 feet away from it.

To check your well water, you can send in a sample to a lab, and they will let you know exactly how good your water is… or how bad.

Trees Around The Home

Do you have a house with trees around it? Of course, most of the United State’s population have trees all around them, so when heavy storms come rolling through, what could happen? Unfortunately, trees have the potential to fall on family’s homes, and it happens a lot more then people think it does. How can you keep the risk of a tree falling down on your house to a minimum? Here’s a few tips for you.

Number 1: Make sure that all of your trees around your house are trimmed neatly, none of the branches are right up against the house, and that no tree roots are beginning to grow beside your foundation. When this happens, the roots can’t grow right into the foundation, but the roots can grow into cracks into the foundation and spread them apart. To keep this from happening in the first place, make sure that trees are far enough away from your house where if the tree roots grew, they have plenty of room to do so.

Number 2: You will also want to take down any trees that are currently within a 30 foot space around the house. Any number of trees can fall on your house during a storm, but if you pull them back far enough away from the house, your defensible space around the house will be perfect. If you do have to cut down trees that are right next to your house, make sure that an accredited professional handle this. If you were to do it by yourself, then you will cause more problems than there were before. By keeping track of these two helpful tips, you will continue to have a happy and safe environment for your family to grow in.

Do You Need a Safe Room?

You have probably heard about safe rooms, but have you ever considered if you need one? Your first thought might be that only rich and famous people need something like that, but the sad reality is that home invasions and other crimes committed in homes are becoming more and more common, especially in bigger cities. A safe room can protect you from burglars, kidnappers, natural disasters and other dangers. If you do decide to have one installed, there things that need to be taken into consideration.

Your safe room needs to be located in a place you can easily get to without crossing paths with a potential intruder. It should be made from a material that can withstand great force, and this means that a safe room will be very heavy. In many cases, this could mean that you need to reinforce the flooring where it is installed. You should have plenty of food, water and first aid materials in your room in case you need to stay in there for an extended period of time.

Windbreaks – A Help For Your Home

A windbreak is basically a long row of trees and shrubs that keeps the wind speed to a reduced level before it reaches a building. How can they be helpful to your home and your family? Well, that will be the topic of discussion for our article today.

First of all, a uniform layout of trees and shrubs can be quite appealing to one’s eye, especially when in a field near someone’s home. They can even screen out undesirable scenery such as a factory, a neighbors home, or other things as well. It’s also interesting to note that windbreaks are great at sound reduction. Basically the sound gets sent through the bushes and trees, and then deflected by the large branches and leaves.

In snow torn areas, windbreaks can also act as snow breakers. These well-placed windbreakers will prevent snow from drifting onto your driveway, or even to block it from drifting into the road. With these things in mind, you will be able to protect your home and your family from an increase of wind pressure.

Single Ply Roofing

Single ply roofing is something that we find sometimes on home inspections, and very regularly on commercial building inspections. But what is single ply roofing?

These are flexible sheets called single-ply membranes made from compounded synthetic materials. In total, there are three different types – thermosets, modified bitumens, thermoplastics. With this material, you are provided with strength, durability, and flexibility. With pre-fabricated sheets, they have a broad appeal and this is mainly because of the high quality which is versatile in how it can be attached. Once installed, they will be watertight and durable for years to come regardless of what attachment method is used. 

Thermoset Membranes – Compounded from rubber polymers, EPDM is the most common polymer used and this can also be referred to as ‘rubber roofing’. In addition to being able to deal with the sunlight, this material can also handle the various chemicals found on the roof. For a watertight seal in the overlaps, an adhesive such as tape or liquid needs to be used and this is how you can identify thermoset membranes. 

Thermoplastic Membranes – Based on plastic polymers, PVC is the most common option and includes plasticisers in order to become more efficient. As opposed to using adhesives, thermoplastic membranes will be joined by using heat or chemical welding. Overall, this is seen as a stronger method which is then complemented by a reinforcement layer of fibreglass or polyester. 

Modified Bitumen – Essentially, these are hybrids that take the advantages of single-ply – pre-fabrication and the high-tech formulation – and then mixes it with some of the more traditional installation practices. Starting with asphalt in factory-fabricated layers, it is then modified with rubber or plastic in an attempt to increase its life, strength, and flexibility. Today, there are two main types of this in styrene butadiene styrene (STS) and atactic polypropylene (APP) and the choice will be made depending on the method of sheet installation. Whilst some use hot asphalt to mop down, others will use torches so that the asphalt melts. Then, the seams are also sealed in this way. 

Whatever your roofing material, be sure to contact us for a comprehensive roofing inspection!