Saturday, December 18, 2010

You Can't See It or Smell It, but it's Deadly

As the winter season comes into full tilt, homeowners start running their heating systems more frequently and longer to keep their homes warm.  Along with the warmth, comes a potential hidden danger.  Carbon monoxide.  Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless and toxic gas. Because it is impossible to see, taste or smell the toxic fumes, CO can kill you before you are aware it is in your home.  December and January are typically the coldest months of the year, and are also usually the peak months for carbon monoxide poisoning.  Carbon monoxide gas kills 450 Americans every year and poisons more than 20,000.  Symptoms of CO poisoning mimic the flu, with headache, fatigue, nausea, dizziness, and shortness of breath.  If you think you are experiencing symptoms, get to fresh air immediately!

What causes CO to build up?  Carbon monoxide is a gas produced by common fuel-burning sources such as furnaces, water heaters, fireplaces, stoves, alternative power sources and cars. That's why it's so important to get your fuel-burning appliances checked each year. Never use your oven to heat your home. Never leave your car running in an attached garage.  All of these sources of CO need to be well vented. Heating sources should be checked each year to ensure they are in proper working order.  All homes should have a CO alarm as well. 

Tips to avoid CO Poisoning:

  • Have a professional check heating systems, chimneys, flues and vents once a year.
  • If buying a new home, have your home inspector check all heat sources for leaks.
  • Use carbon monoxide detectors.
  • When using other heat sources, follow manufacturers instructions.
  • If you are feeling symptoms of CO poisoning, get fresh air immediately, and call 911 if needed.

For more information on carbon monoxide, visit the EPA website, and the Carbon Monoxide Headquarters.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Chimney safety for the holiday season

With the cold weather and holiday season here, a favorite pastime for homeowners is to make a nice roaring fire in the fireplace. Although that roaring fire may be a treat to sit in front of and watch, safety and mantenance of the chimney must be taken.

The Chimney Safety Institute of America reports that creosote accumulation is the leading cause of chimney fires. A chimney that is dirty, blocked or is in disrepair can inhibit proper venting of smoke up the flue and can also cause a chimney fire. Nearly all residential fires originating in the chimney are preventable. An annual chimney inspection by a certified chimney sweep can prevent fire or carbon monoxide poisoning. The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends the following chimney safety tips:
  • Have your chimney checked every year.
  • Burn only well seasoned hardwoods.
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector.
  • Install a chimney cap.
  • Have your chimney waterproofed.
  • Have your chimney flashing inspected and maintained.
  • Have a sealing damper installed in your wood-burning system.
  • Have your chimney sweep ensure that your chimney has a appropriate liner.
  • Following a violet storm, earthquake, flood or lightening strike, have your chimney inspected for damage - inside and out.
  • Hire a certified chimney sweep.
With annual maintenance and common safety precautions, you and your family can spend many hours this winter enjoying the beauty and warmth from your fireplace.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

What to expect from a Home Inspection

Having a home inspection performed on your house, whether you are a buyer or seller, can be a nervous experience.  Everyone wants there home to "check out" perfectly.  A home inspection helps identify problems with the main aspects of a home.  Here is a short video that explains what matters most in a home inspection.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Energy auditing leads to energy efficiency

Last week we wrote about how you can get your home ready for the cold winter months.  Most homeowners don't realize how many cracks and crevices their home may have which allow for warm air to exit, and cold air to enter.  In addition to the tips we gave, we want to let you know that National Grid is offering a program to find leaks in your attic or else in the home.

National Grid says that customers will get a comprehensive home assessment of air sealing, which would take up to two hours to complete.  All this service, for a fee of only $50, which is a fraction of what an audit like this would cost if done by a private contractor.  This is not a bad investment to find out more about your home.  To find out what other energy saving tips National Grid has to offer, check the website

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Some tips to get your home ready for the winter

The warm summer days are long gone, and cool days of fall are quickly leaving us as well.  That means only one thing, Old Man Winter is lurking just around the corner.  With this said, there is nothing worse than not having your home properly winterized.   A winterized home is a happy home, not to mention happy occupants (hopefully no unwelcome guests are making your home their home to...more on that at a later time).

Here are some basic tips to winterize your home.

Check your attic, ceiling, walls, floors and insulate as needed. As we know, heat will flow from warm to cool area but if we have a proper insulation, the insulation will resist the flow of heat. The more resistant it is, the less heat you will use, thus less heating expenses.

Try to cover cracks or any holes in your windows. If your windows needs replacement it is better to replace them before the winter comes. Weatherstrip your doors.

Check your fireplaces, space heaters and chimney. Be sure that they are clean and free from obstructions such as leaves and birds nest. If you do not know how to do these, call an expert who can do it for you

Check your furnace, make sure its operational.  Its a good idea to have it serviced before the cold weather strikes. Call an HVAC professional to inspect your furnace and clean ducts

Inspect the roof, gutters and downspouts.  Remove all leaves and debris from these areas.

Prevent plumbing freeze.  Do you know where your main water shut off is? This is good to know in case you have a pipe burst and need to turn off the water.  Insulate exposed plumbing pipes.  If you go on vacation, leave the heat on, set to at least 55 degrees.

These are some basic tips to get you started preparing your home for the coming months.  Don't let the cold get the better of you.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Keeping up with the times

As with all new businesses, times are changing and new technologies are abound.  We are introducing this blog to help homeowners, Realtors, investors, lawyers,and really, anyone that has an interest in residential real estate, or homeownership stay informed of issues related to the "House".  Our goal is to provide informative and interesting material related to owning a home, or perhaps buying and selling a home.  Stay tuned for what we hope will provide you good information. For more information on the home inspection process, visit our homepage at How's My House Home Inspections