Posts Tagged ‘home safety’

Fall Pet Safety Tips

Posted on: October 14th, 2014 | No Comments

Smiling dog is an example of pet safety. Buying or selling a house aren’t the only reasons to get a safety inspection; sometimes you just want to ensure your family is living in a healthy environment and that means investing in pet safety as well as human safety! After all, our four-legged companions are our furry best friends and they rely on responsible, aware owners to give them a full, happy life. Not to mention that pet safety very closely coincides with overall living safety for humans too! Think that dust, mold, or a crumbling foundation are any less dangerous for animals? Think again.

Here are some household tips for pet safety that you may want to give extra attention when cleaning, moving somewhere new, or just enjoying the fall weather and upcoming holidays:

  1. Reduce allergies. You might be susceptible to outdoor pollens and even your own pet’s dander, but did you know that they can be susceptible to allergens too? If you see your pet itching more often or developing a rash, that just might be the case.
    • Outside: To increase human and pet safety, be sure to rake away those fallen leaves and mow the grass and hedges down to counter any possible nature irritants to your pet and you!
    • Inside: Brush your cat or dog twice to three times per week as they shed their summer coats to make room for winter ones. Otherwise, that hair will get all over your carpet, clothes, and furniture – not healthy and definitely not welcoming to guests.
  2. Beware of pests. Fall is a season for all kinds of pests to make their last pre-winter harrah. Continue monitoring your pet safety by checking for fleas and ticks. Those are nasty little buggers to bring indoors to endanger your family, let alone torment your furry friend. Also, be aware of where your pets romp around. Leaves, wood piles, and long grass can host dangerous snakes and other cranky critters trying to prepare for winter.
  3. Ensure access to water. Even though the temperatures are cooling, your pet still needs to drink a lot of water to stay healthy and active. Check the water bowl, especially if its outside, as cooler temperatures can freeze the water. Clear out ice chunks from the bowl to increase pet safety. While you’re at it, check the walkways and gutters for ice buildup – if the bowl water froze, chances are that ice could have built up and created danger zones elsewhere.
  4. Stay vigilant on holidays. Your pets become attention hogs with all of those guests around, but it’s easy to lose track of them with all of the festivities.
    • Halloween: Thinking of dressing your pets up and letting them participate in giving out candy? Consider using reflective stickers on their outfits in case they get loose at night in the street. Also, keep an eye on that candy bowl by the door. Your puppy might decide that chocolate smells tasty, but it can make a dog seriously sick.
    • Thanksgiving: Lots of leftovers? It’s tempting to throw some to your lovable, pouting pooch. But many human foods can be harmful to animals. When it comes time to clean up, use safe alternatives to harsh cleaning chemicals. This will avoid releasing fumes and covering surfaces with human and pet safety hazards.
    • Christmas: Presents, tree water, decorations, strings of lights – all of these may look delicious to a dog or cat, but the sharp edges, chokable objects, and electrical sources can considerably jeopardize pet safety as well as interfere with seasonal celebrations.

Concerned about human or pet safety risks that might already exist in your home? It’s never a bad time for household maintenance and safety inspection services. Inspect-it 1st will help you find and address any possible concerns, keeping your entire family – including your pets – safe. Best of all, an inspection can set your mind at ease so that you can fully enjoy the cooling fall weather and the holidays to come!

Series on Safety: Lead Paint Poisoning

Posted on: August 11th, 2014 | No Comments

Lead paint removal to prevent lead paint poisoning.Lead-based paints were commonly used on houses and various other products prior to recent decades. It is estimated that lead paint poisoning has claimed a large portion of the 143,000 lives lost to lead poisoning worldwide and causes 600,000 disabilities per year, according to UN health officials. Low and middle income countries are especially prone to this health concern, but 30 countries and counting have phased out lead paint use. The United States banned lead paint in 1978 but over 24 million houses built prior to 1978 are still in use and exposing families to lead paint poisoning. Certain interior items such as antique furniture and toys are also putting people at risk.

 

What: Paint containing lead poisons all systems of the human body. After ingestion or consumption, lead pollutes the blood and results in damage to the brain and central nervous system. High exposure can produce convulsions and eventually lead to a coma or death. Low exposure still affects brain development, especially in young children. Lead paint poisoning has been shown to reduce IQ and attention span, increase antisocial behavior, and decrease academic achievement. Affected adults may see increased risk of kidney failure and raised blood pressure.

 

Where: Lead paint can be found on the outside or inside of older homes as well as on antique furniture and toys, and candy from Mexico. Costume jewelry and other toys passed down through generations within a family might be posing a lead paint poisoning danger.

 

When: As the lead paint on various surfaces begins to peel and decay, it often crumbles into a dust-like substance carried through the air and able to be ingested. In addition, studies claim that children under the age of 6 are at an increased risk of consuming lead by touching items with deteriorating paint and then putting their hands in their mouths.

 

Symptoms: While there are no obvious symptoms, an affected individual may demonstrate tiredness, hyperactivity, irritability, poor appetite, weight loss, trouble sleeping, or stomach aches. Because these symptoms may go unnoticed or attributed to other things, lead paint poisoning often goes unchecked. If you suspect someone you know is being poisoned by lead paint, encourage them to get a blood test.

 

Action: Once lead paint has been ingested or consumed and takes its toll on the body, there is no known countermeasure to undo the damage. Therefore, it’s imperative to take preventative measures.

 

Prevention: Lead paint poisoning can be prevented (especially in children) in several ways.

  1. Check the date of the buildings and houses your where you and your children spend the most time. If any were built prior to 1978, consult a local health official and take measures to reduce prolonged exposure until you know if the lead paint has been removed.
  2. Keep pregnant women and children away from renovations, especially renovations for structures older than 1978.
  3. Wash children’s hands and toys regularly.
  4. Keep children from playing in bare soil. Use a sandbox instead.
  5. Create barriers between your family and any items known to contain lead paint. Fence your house off from the older house next door or keep antique furniture in a room young children don’t enter.
  6. Keep your house free of dust by cleaning consistently.
  7. Get an inspection!

Lead paint poisoning is a serious health concern facing many countries. Even though the United States has banned the use of lead-based paint, old houses and antique or imported items may still pose a considerable threat.

 

Take preventative steps to protect your family from lead paint poisoning. Seek blood tests if you suspect exposure. And consider the inspection services from Inspect-It 1st to see if the painted surfaces or dust in your home are contaminated.

Home Security Systems

Posted on: June 30th, 2014 | No Comments

Home security systemsHome security systems used to be seen as a luxury for upper middle class families. In the past 15 years or so however, these systems have become more popular with families across the nation. Here’s a few of the reasons why investing in a home security system can be beneficial to your home and your family.

  1. Peace of Mind: Home security systems can be activated while you’re home, on vacation or just at work for the day. You can rest assured knowing your property and loved ones will remain protected from intruders with constant monitoring.
  2. Deterrence: Studies have found that homes which display security signs on their property are less likely to be broken into. It is thought that would be burglars see the sign and know there is a higher degree of danger if they break in. Homes without a monitored home security system are up to 300% more likely to be broken into according to some studies.
  3. Reduced Insurance Rates: Due to the deterrence of break-ins, many insurance providers will lower homeowner insurance rates for families with home security systems.
  4. Faster Emergency Response Times: Monitored home security systems will contact authorities when an alarm is triggered, meaning help in on the way in minutes. Whether it’s a break-in, fire or other home emergency, the faster help arrives the better. This is a contributing factor to consider when determining if you want to install a monitored or unmonitored system.
  5. Customizable Features: Home security systems generally alert owners about break-ins through doors and windows but newer, more advanced systems can also be configured to detect fire, carbon monoxide, rising water and even freezing temps and alert homeowners of such problems.
  6. Remote Access: More and more home security systems have a remote access option. This means you can arm your home, check in on any security cameras you may have, and even adjust the thermostat from your office, vacation or from anywhere you have wi-fi. You have complete control.

Not only can a home security system protect your belongings but your family as well. The market for such systems continues to grow and expand, offering new services and greater security as well. Consider all the available systems, the cost of installation and the effectiveness of each option before finalizing your plans for a new home security system.

 

Inspect-It 1st Home Improvement Radio offers tips to prevent home burglary, listen to it here. You can find more home improvement tips, buyer and seller resources, a home maintenance checklist and many other helpful links on our home page.

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.

Are you a new Homeowner? Here’s how to be an awesome homeowner!

Posted on: January 24th, 2014 | No Comments

Homeowner tips for upkeep and maintenance.A new house is exciting! Decorating and making it home is the best part. But, what happens when the move is over and you’re a homeowner in your house as life continues? Houses are also a lot of work. Maintaining your home is the key to maintaining the resale value. Here are a few areas to focus on to keep your home safe and fun:

 

  1. Safety – Keep an eye out for dangers within and around your home. Whether it be an exposed wire or cracked pipes, these things can depreciate the value of your house and put your family in danger. Be realistic with DIY projects too, if you don’t feel 100% confident you can do it correctly and safely, call a professional.

 

  1. Green – By replacing regular light bulbs with fluorescent bulbs you can cut down on electrical bills. Solar panels and other eco-friendly practices can benefit you in the long run especially when it comes time to sell. Create a compost pile in your backyard for easy access to homemade fertilizers, too. By getting in the habit of composting, recycling and upcycling you can cut back significantly on the amount of waste your household produces.

 

  1. Exterior – Curb appeal factors in when it comes time to sell your home. Maintaining the outside of your home has both aesthetic and practical purposes. Peeling paint and broken siding can allow moisture into the walls and cause mold to grow. Beautification also becomes a factor, especially if you plan on selling. Determine your hardiness zone to ensure you select plants that will thrive in your area. By maintaining your lawn & gardens as well as siding & gutters you ensure your home is both attractive and safe.

 

  1. Interior

  • Pipes/Plumbing – Leaking pipes and broken plumbing can cause serious damage and mold growth that can be harmful to you and your families health. If you notice any leaks or problems with your homes plumbing call a professional, this isn’t something you should DIY.

 

  • Furnace – Furnaces are expensive. Get yours checked 2x a year. Ensuring proper maintenance is being given to your furnace can keep you from spending thousands on a new furnace or even prevent a fire started by a furnace problem.

 

  • Flooring – Missing tiles, broken wood flooring and other flooring issues can devalue your home and cause safety issues as well. Be sure to maintain your flooring and fix any issues that may arise. Felt pads will protect your floors from furniture scratches.

 

A home can be the biggest investment you ever make so maintaining it is important. Should you decide to sell your house in the future, this maintenance will help to ensure you pass inspections and get the full value of your home.

Inspect-It 1st has information about home inspection services. In addition the website provides a maintenance checklist that divides the house into sections and outlines maintenance tips and suggestions throughout.

Moisture, Mold and Mildew: How to Combat the 3 M’s

Posted on: November 14th, 2013 | No Comments

peeling_wall_with_mold_growthMoisture, mold and mildew, three words that can make any homeowner cringe. The idea that moisture can grow mold and mildew in a home causing unreachable smells and irritating allergic reactions is immensely frustrating. So, how can you avoid these three dirty words and keep your home fresh and dry? Here are a few tips and tricks:

 

Moisture:

  1. The culprit and cause of mold and mildew, moisture can seep into walls and floors causing damage to structure as well as a perfect environment for fungus to thrive. There are a few things you can do to avoid moisture being trapped in your home.
  2. Check your plumbing and gutters. Leaky pipes, a burst or even ineffective gutters can allow water to leak into your home and collect. Simple maintenance will help prevent this from happening.  Clean up spills. Should you find a spill, burst or leak, clean it up immediately. Mold and mildew will start to grow within 24-48 hours so a quick dry out is the easiest way to keep that from happening. A small fan placed in a wet room will help move the air around and speed the drying process. For larger leaks and bursts, industrial fans are available for drying entire floors or basements.
  3. Dry surfaces where you see condensation. The insides of window sills and air conditioning drip pans (among other things) may collect condensation. By wiping them dry or dumping stand water, you reduce the chance for mold to form on the surface.

Mold:


Mold will not grow without moisture. That being said, it is impossible to eradicate all mold spores from your home. There are a few ways to remove it. Don’t forget, always take steps to avoid coming in contact with mold spores. The EPA recommends wearing an N -95 respirator, gloves and goggles when removing mold.

Continue Reading →

Home Heating System Safety

Posted on: November 4th, 2013 | No Comments

a_hand_adjusting_a_radiator_dialHome inspectors are usually hired when someone is looking to move and wanting to ensure the house they are buying or selling is up to par. This means these inspectors are the last line before a sale to point out any problems or safety concerns. In this series of blogs we will talk about a few of the most frequently discovered safety hazards that certified home inspectors come across and how to handle them.

 

One of the most common and dangerous problems found is an old or poorly maintained heating system. Broken or cracked pipes, blocked exhaust flumes and unusable control knobs should all be fixed. These can cause fires, carbon monoxide poisoning and other health issues that can be detrimental to you and your families health.

 

To prevent these problems keep your furnace and other heating system part in good working order. This includes regular service, cleaning vents and other parts of any dust buildup that could catch fire and updating when necessary. Replacing your central heating system can be expensive however, a more efficient system will save money in the long term and a safe heating system will provide peace of mind.

 

Selling your home? By repairing and updating these systems, you give yourself another selling point on which to base your homes price. A home’s safety can be a large deciding factor to potential buyers so replacing unsafe systems is a good investment. By replacing potential hazards you can also protect yourself from legal action should anything go wrong after the house has been sold.

 

Homes require a large amount of upkeep. By maintaining your home’s heating system you take steps to protect your family as well as become more appealing to future buyers.

 

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.

http://blog.inspectit1st.com © 2012. All Rights Reserved.