Posts Tagged ‘Home Safety Tips’

Series on Safety: Carbon Monoxide

Posted on: May 6th, 2014 | No Comments

Carbon Monoxide - gas stove burning. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a poisonous gas which has been responsible for an average of 170 U.S. deaths per year. Understanding when and where you may come in contact with carbon monoxide can help to protect you from the symptoms and effects of CO poisoning.

 

What: Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that is produced when fuel is not burned completely. It’s especially lethal since it is impossible for people to detect its presence on their own. CO can build up in enclosed and semi-enclosed spaces causing dangerously high levels of exposure.

 

Where: Carbon monoxide poisoning can occur inside the home and go undetected if you don’t have a carbon monoxide monitor. Besides in the home, internal combustion engines also produce this dangerous gas.  Enclosed or partially enclosed spaces can trap CO from dispersion into the air.

 

When: According to the CDC, carbon monoxide poisoning can occur from a number of situations, prevention is the key:

  • Heating systems, water heaters and any other gas or oil powered appliances should be evaluated on a yearly basis to ensure they do not pose a risk of CO emissions.

  • Flameless chemical heaters (catalytic) should not be used indoors. Although these do not use a flame, they can emit CO that can build up in enclosed areas.

Symptoms: Carbon monoxide poisoning can be identified by a number of symptoms including

  • Headache

  • Fatigue

  • Shortness of breath

  • Nausea

  • Dizziness

 

Additionally, extended exposure to carbon monoxide can lead to:

  • Confusion

  • Vomiting

  • Loss of coordination

  • Loss of consciousness

  • Death

 

The importance of early detection of carbon monoxide poisoning can allow people to ventilate the room and reduce CO exposure. If you are worried about carbon monoxide building up in your home or garage, there are CO detectors available for purchase. Be sure to install the detector according to the manufacturers instructions. CO detectors should be placed high on a wall, away from heating vents.

 

If your new carbon monoxide detector does go off, leave the area immediately and head outside for fresh air. Call 911. Once you have determined what caused the CO build up, be sure to have that appliance serviced by a professional to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Don’t forget to replace the batteries in your CO detector on a regular basis to ensure it’s always in working order.

 

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that on average 170 people a year die from CO poisoning, and even more end up in the hospital due to CO exposure. Being aware of the risks and preventative measure that can be taken can keep both you and your family safe in your home. For more information on carbon monoxide poisoning, visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission website.

 

Home inspectors examine potential in-home hazards including sources of CO emissions. Click to find out more about inspection services from Inspect-It 1st.

 

Electrical Wiring: How To Be Sure Your Home is Up to Code

Posted on: March 25th, 2014 | No Comments

Electrical wiring by an electrician.

From running the dishwasher to powering important electronic devices, electricity runs our lives. But, what happens if there is a problem with the system? Exposed wiring, outdated breakers, and a host of other potential issues could pose dangers for you and your family. So, how can you avoid these pitfalls and ensure the wiring in your home is safe? Here are a few tips from the experts at Inspect-It 1st:

  1. Get your home inspected if it is:
    • Over 40 Years Old: Old wiring and circuits can wear out, become exposed or simply not be fit to handle the amount of energy that is being transmitted along them. Ensure any older wiring is up to par by getting it professionally inspected by a home inspector or your local electrician.
    • Major Renovations: If your home has had any major renovations or additions and is more than 10 years old, it is a good idea to get the wiring inspected. Verify all new wiring was run correctly and that safety standards for adding an electrical circuit meet code requirements.
    • New Home: If you are moving into a new home. No matter what age your home is, it is always a good idea to have the electrical wiring inspected to make sure it is up to code prior to purchasing. Repairs can sometimes be costly, so knowing beforehand is important when assessing your the best purchase options.
  2. Keep an eye out for unexpected power loss, flickering lights, overheating switch plates or outlet covers and other signs of electrical problems. These can indicate faulty or old wiring that can cause electrocution or start a fire.
  3. Check your fuse panel. If fuses are consistently being blown, they may be old and need replacing. Additionally, over fused electric panels can be extremely dangerous. Be sure the electric panel does not contain fuses or breakers rated at a higher current than the current capacity allows.
  4. Label all fuses or breakers in the electrical panel.
  5. Test outlets to ensure all plugs fit snugly and do not move or wobble. If outlets are not snug, they should be replaced  to avoid shocks or potential fires.
  6. Maintain cord integrity. If you find a cord that is frayed or damaged, remove and replace it immediately for your safety. Any exposed wiring can be dangerous because splicing and taping is not a safe, long-term solution.

Maintaining a safe electrical system in your home is important to avoid the occasional shock or blown fuse. It can also prevent larger shocks and electrical malfunctions which could lead to an electrical fire. By inspecting your home’s wiring thoroughly when you move in and maintaining the wiring through proper maintenance and upkeep, you can feel better about the safety of your home for both you and your family.

 

Don’t have a trusted electrician in your area yet? Inspect-It 1st can provide an experienced and trustworthy inspector that will evaluate your home’s wiring system. They can also provide you with the names of electricians in your area that can help fix any present problems.

Series on Safety: Plumbing

Posted on: March 11th, 2014 | No Comments

Plumbing - Plumber fixing a broken pipe.Winter can wreak havoc on your home plumbing. With arctic temperatures sliding across the United States in recent weeks, many people in the southern half of the country were surprised by unexpected plumbing problems they had never experienced before. From frozen pipes to drainage problems, a cold snap can mean waking up to a big mess. Flooding, even leaks, can cause unhealthy mold growth and leave your home smelling musty and wet. So, how can you avoid frozen pipes? Can you DIY a plumbing job? We have the answers for you.

 

The most prevalent issue when it comes to cold weather and plumbing is frozen pipes. Don’t worry too much if the temps outside dip below freezing as pipes will not freeze until temps hold around 20º according to the University of Illinois Building Research Council. However, temperatures in the sub-zero range can put your pipes in danger. The easiest way to avoid freezing is insulation. Foam pipe insulation sleeves are available at most home improvement stores, and do the trick for exposed pipes in crawl spaces and attics. In addition, electrical tape can be wrapped around smaller sections of pipe to prevent freezing.

 

Another way to prevent frozen pipe problems is to maintain heat circulation throughout the house, including crawl spaces and attics. Any vents that let cold outside air into these spaces should be closed, and heat from the house will be allowed to radiate through them. This minimal heat can help to ensure the pipes don’t freeze through during an extended deep freeze.

 

In the event that your pipes do freeze, there are a few things you can do to prevent them from bursting or other pipe damage. First, turn off the water main to prevent issues after the ice melts. Second, turn on all faucets in the house, just enough so that they dribble. This allows the pressure to be released that can form in frozen pipes. Relieving this pressure can help ensure the expanding ice does not crack or burst your pipes. Lastly, if you want to try manually thawing the pipes, a hair dryer or other radiative source of heat can be used to slowly warm the frozen sections. Do not use an open flame or torch to thaw frozen pipes.

 

Should a pipe crack or burst, a drop in water pressure will be noticeable, and would indicate a problem somewhere in the line. The water main should be turned off immediately to avoid a constant flow of water through the pipes. Even a small crack can create immeasurable damage on your home, so if you notice a small leak or crack, call a plumber immediately and have the cracked section replaced. Even if you cannot see a crack or break, that does not mean it is not there. These problems can occur out of sight, so make sure to keep an eye out for any indications of the presence of water in walls, floors or your ceiling.

 

Be aware of the cold temperatures, and keep an eye on plumbing to keep your home safe and dry. If problems do arise, call a professional. Plumbing is not always something you can learn how to do on the internet, especially large repairs. Avoiding major water damage is a top priority when protecting your family and home. Vigilance when it comes to plumbing care and maintenance is the first defense when cold weather strikes.

 

Radon In Homes – What you Need to Know

Posted on: February 25th, 2014 | No Comments

Radon in homes Radon – This is a term many homeowners have likely heard but do not necessarily know what it is or how it can harm their family. According to the EPA, radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers in the United States and can be linked to up to 20,000 lung cancer deaths a year. Here’s what you need to know as a homeowner:

 

  • This radioactive particle is found the air and cause lung cancer in those exposed to large amounts. Radon is produced by the natural decay of uranium in the soil but this decay can be fixed and homes made safe from radon.

  • At home tests are available for testing your home’s radon levels. Generally these accumulate in the basement, nearest the ground where decaying uranium resides. The average concentration of radon in a home in the United States is 1.3 pCi/L. Radon concentrations between 2 and 4 pCi/L should consider fixing their home to protect against exposure to radon. For levels above 4 pCi/L the EPA strongly recommends action to be taken.

  • Contractors are available to test and fix your home. These people are experts in mitigating the risks of radon and ensuring your home is safe.

Contractors can be hired to inspect your home, especially rooms below ground level and those directly above ground level, for radon levels deemed unsafe. If your home does have higher than average radon levels there are a number of options.

 

As stated above, the EPA has set a maximum radon level of 4 pCi/L. Many homeowners take this to mean that anything below this level is “safe”. This simply is not true. Any levels between 2 and 4 pCi/L should still be considered dangerous and steps taken to reduce them. Your contractor will be able to explain the best option for dealing with radon in your home but generally there are three different solutions depending on the structure of our home.

 

  • For homes with basements, one of four types of suction can be used to reduce radon. Essentially, this process uses pipes directly in the earth below the basement slab and fans. The fans create suction below the slab and suck the radon up through the pipe. The open end of the pipe generally leads to an attic or outside the home where the radon is quickly diluted to safer levels.

  • Homes with a crawl space generally will use a thick plastic sheet layed over the earth. Underneath this sheet, a pipe and fan, much like that mentioned above, suck the radon out from the space between the ground and the plastic sheet and ventilate it to the outside. In some cases, ventilation of the space without a plastic sheet can also be used to reduce radon.

  • Any home, no matter the footings can benefit from sealing cracks in the foundation but this should be done in conjunction with other solutions to ensure the radon levels are reduced enough.

  • Ventilation of any space that may have excess radon is always a good idea. In lower levels of home be sure to open windows periodically, run fans to move the air up and out and keep track of radon levels.

The health risks associated with radon mean that all steps necessary should be taken to reduce exposure. Any of the above solutions can be used in conjunction with one another to ensure maximum diffusion. If you have radon accumulation in your home, contact a professional to ensure the correct steps are taken to reduce it’s presence and protect your family. For more information about radon visit the EPA website at http://www.epa.gov/radon/index.html. There you will find information about radon levels in your area, where to find testing kits and the more about solutions to radon in your home.

Keep Your Lawn Safe This Year!

Posted on: June 26th, 2012 | No Comments

We know how important it is to make sure our homes are safe – but do we stop to consider the potential hazards in our lawns? We’ve put together a list of ten ways you can make your lawn safer this year.

  • Get rid of dead leaves and debris near the house! This can be a major fire hazard and can also create homes for numerous types of insects.
  • Prevent drowning and other water accidents by fencing in pools or other bodies of water. Due to the threat of mosquito infestations, you should never allow water to remain stagnant.
  • When you prepare to mow your lawn, inspect the yard for sticks, large stones, and any toys or other items that could be thrown by the lawnmower blades. Roll up water hoses and move electric wires out of the way.
  • Always store tools (landscaping tools, car repair tools, etc.) in a place where they will be out of reach of children.
  • Avoid using toxic chemicals on plants near the house. If you keep a vegetable garden, you should use only natural ingredients to keep the bugs away. If you have any toxic chemicals, be sure to keep them under lock and key.
  • If your trees have large overhanging branches, you will need to keep them trimmed. Branches near the chimney can easily catch fire!
  • Keep an eye out for insect nests under the eaves of any buildings or in the yard itself. Wasps, bees, and other stinging bugs can turn a cozy yard into a warzone!
  • Check all railings and fence posts for stability. They are often overlooked, but they can lead to severe injuries if they give out under stress.
  • Opt for plastic dishes when you dine al fresco – especially if you have children. Broken glasses are infamous for leaving sharp pieces everywhere, even after you think you’ve cleaned it all up.
  • Be vigilant about turning off the gas when you are finished grilling. Check to be sure the gas supply hose is not cracked and keep the grill (whether it’s gas or charcoal) at a minimum of ten feet from your home.

If you take just a few minutes today, you can make your lawn the safe, relaxing place it is meant to be! If you found this post helpful, please share.

 

Do you have a safety tip? Comment and let us know!

 

 

7 Home Safety Tips You Can Use Today

Posted on: April 4th, 2012 | No Comments

When you hear the words “home safety”, you might picture padlocks, security systems, or maybe even a big guard dog! However, there are a few incredibly simple steps you can take to keep your home safe.

  1. Turn your telephone ring volume down so it can’t be heard ringing from outside your house. If someone is looking to break in, they could hear an unanswered phone ringing and realize you aren’t at home.
  2. Make sure your keys are in a place that burglars wouldn’t think to look (not tucked away under the doormat, flowerpot, or rock key hider).
  3. Secure bookshelves and entertainment centers to the wall with brackets so they can’t tip over. These heavy pieces of furniture can cause serious injury; luckily, it’s easy to prevent them from falling if you invest in a few inexpensive brackets.

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Our home inspection company's history began in 1991 with the establishment of American Home Inspection. Over the course of the following seven years, a home inspection business prototype was developed that could be implemented anywhere in the United States. Our founders believed they had a unique methodology of providing homebuyers and sellers with consistent, professional and unbiased home inspections.

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