We know that this is the time of year when many people will spend extra time at home with family and friends. More time at home means a greater risk of accidents taking place in the home so, with that thought in mind, we felt this would be a good time for a few safety reminders.
There is nothing like a cozy open fire when its cold outside, however, to make sure it remains a source of enjoyment be sure to remove any flammable items that you have around the fireplace before you light it. It's also important to double-check that the flue is open.
It is not just the fireplace that poses a fire risk, there are other potential fire hazards to check such as fraying wires or broken bulbs in string lighting, also be careful not to leave lit candles in a room unattended or close to combustible materials. It is a good idea to check all carbon monoxide and smoke alarms to make sure they are working well and not in need of new batteries.
Will there be having small children staying with you during the holiday period? If so, make sure you pay extra attention that any dangerous objects such as knives and scissors are well beyond their reach. Poinsettias are a popular plant this time of year, but did you know that they are poisonous? Be sure to keep this beautiful plant out of reach of children or pets as well.
These safety reminders will go a long way to ensuring an accident-free home.
Anyone with children will know how much they love to climb and access areas that are not safe for them. While falling over is something every child does frequently without incurring injury, falling from height has a very different outcome. So, childproofing areas of the home that are dangerous for them is essential. Windows are one such area. Here are some low-cost, simple childproofing options available for windows:
You can also help childproof the home by the way furniture is positioned. Do not arrange furniture so that it is underneath a window or placed in a way that a child can climb on it and reach one. Another important reminder is that if windows have screens in them, these will provide no protection against a fall, so it is still necessary to take additional safety measures.
Is it really time to start preparing our homes for winter? For many of us, the thought of ice and snow is not a pleasant prospect but, by getting ready for it now, before the temperature drops too low, we will ensure our homes stay warm and cozy. Here are a few areas of the home that you should get ready for winter:
Obviously, during the winter months, the main priority is heat so this is something to prepare for now. Test your heating system by turning the thermostat up and observe the length of time it takes for the system to respond. If you notice it’s taking an unusually long time, the system may need to be serviced. This is also a good time to change air filters and have the oil or propane tank filled (if this is what you use to heat the home). For homes with fireplaces its important to have this inspected as well as the chimney to make sure it's working well and not blocked in any way as this could be dangerous for the occupants of the home.
The home's plumbing system can take a beating during the winter months. Pipes are often prone to freeze and burst in unheated areas of the homes such as the attic and crawlspaces. To protect against this, cover pipes in these areas with fiberglass or foam insulation and keep the temperature of the home at a level high enough so that pipes in unheated places do not freeze
No doubt, during the fall months you will have some yard work to do. On your list of jobs to get done, be sure to include having the gutters cleaned out. Any debris that is left in guttering will freeze and become heavy leading to damaged guttering. If any water and air are left in a sprinkler system this can cause cracks to develop so make sure the system has been drained. Outdoor furniture will also need to be protected by either storing them in a dry, covered place or by placing a protective covering on them.
While there are many more ways to winterize your home, these simple suggestions will help you make a good start.
For many homes and apartments cockroaches can be a real issue. They spread disease, multiply in huge amounts and are very resilient so naturally we will want to do all we can to prevent them from moving into our homes but, how can we do this? Here are a few simple suggestions:
First of all, we want to eliminate things that attract them. While cockroaches can survive many different types of environment, they are attracted to moisture, dirt and grease. One area of the home where all these elements can be found is the kitchen. The kitchen should be kept very clean so give it a thorough scrub on a regular basis including underneath and behind all appliances, even the larger ones. If you have pets, try not to keep their food out for very long. Any food items should be kept in tightly sealed containers and the trash can should also have a tight lid on it. Keep the sink as clean and dry as possible. Its also good to remember that cockroaches tend to stay away from well lit areas so you might want to keep a few lights on at night. Cockroaches also love the bathroom; this is another room to keep very clean and as dry as you can.
As we have discussed, cockroaches are drawn to moisture so if you its good to check the home for any dripping taps or leaking pipes which may be attracting them. If you do find this, be sure to fix the problem immediately. You will also want to look out for possible points of entry that cockroaches are using and seal the areas up.
Naturally doing all we can to prevent a cockroach infestation is the key but, what if you already have a problem with them? It would be best to call in a pest control company to come and tackle the problem. However, after they have treated the infestation, you may want to place boric acid in areas you have previously seen them to keep them under control.
Have you found an area of mold forming in your home? If so, maybe you’re wondering if it is something you can just clean up yourself or whether you should call in a professional to take care of the issue. The answer to that depends on a number of things, however, most of the time if the area of mold is not covering more than 10 square feet, it can be dealt with by the homeowner. Here are some points to consider before you begin:
As you are likely well aware mold spores can have very harmful effects when breathed in so be sure to wear a respirator mask when cleaning up mold and put on the appropriate protective clothing.
While you may think that cleaning up the mold will be the end of it, the reality is that mold will not grow unless it has moisture. The presence of mold is likely being caused by an underlying issue in the home such as an undetected water leak or other water related problem. You will need to address this issue otherwise the mold will continue to grow back again.
If you have discovered mold in carpeting, the best thing to do is to replace it. Mold is very difficult to remove from a carpet so it’s usually best to get rod of it. Mold will also leave staining of soft furnishings even after you have removed it so have this in mind when you’re deciding whether or not to keep moldy curtains or cushions etc.
Before repainting a wall that has had mold make sure the area has been scrubbed well using detergent and water and is completely dry, if not, paint may start to peel. If you need to use caulking in bathrooms etc. its important that you don’t put it where mold is still present.
Yes, mold can be cleaned up yourself in small areas but, as we mentioned, this does depend on a variety of factors. Before starting the job, consult with a mold remediation specialist for advice.
Everyone wants a fresh smelling home but, if you have just moved into a home where the previous owner smoked, it can be very difficult to obtain. This is because smoke particles can permeate almost anything, making it very difficult to completely remove. Nicotine also leaves behind and oily, brown residue that adheres to everything creating a worse problem. So, what are some ways to remove the odor?
Start out with some simple methods. Open all windows and doors as much as you can to ventilate the home. You could also use natural odor absorbers like baking soda or coffee grounds and place them in rooms throughout the home. Replace or clean any light bulbs left by the last homeowner. When switched on nicotine covered light bulbs will warm up and diffuse tobacco scent into the air. Take down any blinds that you wish to keep and soak them in a tub of soapy water, then, give them a good scrub and leave to hang dry. Change HVAC and air conditioner unit filters. Use detergents that contain ammonia on hard surfaces, these work well for removing nicotine although it's not advised to use them on wood.
It is very difficult to remove nicotine odor from carpets. The best thing to do is replace the carpet, however, make sure the floor underneath is thoroughly cleaned and dried before installing new carpet. Painting walls will also help although nicotine can seep through the paint so you might want to look into different types of paint available first.
We hope, by following these suggestions, your new home will be fresh and tobacco odor free in no time.
If you are preparing to buy your first home its important to choose the right team of people to help you with the process which, at times, can be very stressful. Maybe you are looking to hire a real estate agent to help you find the perfect home but, does it matter which realtor you choose? Are they all the same? Let’s consider the answer to those questions:
Different real estate agents all bring different qualities to the table, your challenge will be to find one that fits your specific requirements. By way of example, it would not be a good idea to choose a realtor only skilled at selling expensive homes if you want to purchase a cheaper property to fix up. So then, what are some things you can find out to help you make the right choice?
Prepare a list of questions in advance to ask a potential agent. Include questions such as: What are your credentials? What type of experience have you previously had with my specific needs? What types of properties are you used to selling? And, what makes you stand out from other agents? Don’t just be content with a generic answer but ask for specific experiences. Its good to ask a lot of questions to find out if they would be someone who would work well with you and what you want.
Other things that are good to find out are if the real estate agent own property themselves. This would be helpful because they would have firsthand experience of what its like to buy and own a property. You might also want to know if they work part time or full time in realty. Someone who works at this full time may be more familiar with updated laws and guidelines and should have a good idea of the current local market.
So, as we can see, it does matter which realtor you choose to help you find your home and not all real estate agents specialize in the same field which means its important to find the right one.
Sometimes when we are young we are not always as responsible financially as we ought to be. While this might not have many immediate ill effects, it could affect you in the future. One example of this is when you want to buy a home for the first time and apply for a loan. A lender will usually take a look at your credit report to see how financially responsible you are such as; do you have a history of paying bills on time? And, how much debt do you have? To improve your chances of being approved for a loan, here are a few suggestions on how to maintain a good credit report:
If you have acquired numerous credit cards and have some you no longer use, call the companies to cancel them. Even though you may not use them, too many credit cards give a lender the impression that you are not responsible financially because you give yourself too much available credit and could put yourself in danger economically. Keep your longest held credit card accounts, though, as this shows a lender that you have a long credit history.
Its vital that you never miss a credit card payment. This will be noted on your credit report and you will end up paying a fortune in late payment fees. If you find remembering to make a payment before the due date, why not set up an automatic payment plan that covers at least the minimum due? That way you will eliminate the problem of late payments.
Obtain a copy of your credit report so that you can look for ways to improve it. You are entitled to one free copy every 12 months, so take advantage of what’s available to you. Occasionally, a credit report will contain an error, having the report before a lender sees it will give you the opportunity to fix the issue before they see it.
As we can see, a bad credit report could affect your chances of being approved for a loan so think about improving it with these suggestions.
Every year we seem to be experiencing bigger and stronger natural disasters. It’s easy to see, then, the need to be prepared for one and doing so in advance is one of the keys to staying safe. So, what are some things that can be done ahead of time in case of a disaster?
Make sure everyone in your household is aware of the steps to take in an emergency situation. Some things to discuss together would be the location of meeting points and evacuation routes etc. Have an emergency go kit. This, easy to grab, kit should contain all that you need to survive for a few days, be sure to include medications, important documents and some cash as well as food and water supplies.
While it really depends on the type of natural disaster, the home can sustain a lot of damage. Although it would be difficult to prevent some damage, there are things you can do ahead to minimize it. Trimming back trees that are close to the house is one way to stop branches and tree limbs falling on a roof or power lines. Keeping gutters and downspouts clear of debris will help water to drain away from the house easier. Doing small roof repairs such as fixing loose shingles will also help. Securing any loose items around the property that might become projectiles during high winds is another good idea to do ahead. Another important thing is to be aware of the shut offs to the home’s utilities. Turning off the electricity, water and gas before a disaster strikes will make the home less hazardous when you return.
Hopefully you will never have to deal with the effects of a natural disaster but, being prepared for one in advance will contribute greatly to the safety of you and your household.
If you are considering the purchase of a home, there are a number of factors to consider. Of course, you want the right location and it needs to be a price to fit your budget but, what other factors need to be taken into consideration?
The history of the home is one of those factors. For example, has the home been involved in any type of disaster that might have compromised it in some way? One problem the home may have experienced in the past is flood damage. How big of a problem is this?
The following video will help you with the answer to that question. It shows how the problems you could encounter will largely depend on the source of the flood as well as how the damage was addressed. Being fully aware of these types of issues before you decide on the purchase of a home is crucial to making a sound investment.
PARKER AND WEST ENGINEERING, PLLC.