Safe & Healthy Home
now browsing by category
Rewarding House Cleaning Projects for Spring
The sun is out and the flowers are beginning to bloom, which means it’s time for some spring cleaning. Enjoy the warmer weather while spending some time improving your home. Here are a few rewarding house cleaning projects for spring.
Remove Debris from the Roof and Gutters
Depending on where you live, your roof may be put to the test during the winter months. Snow and fallen branches can damage your roofing. Springtime brings more rain and you’ll want to have clean gutters to handle the showers. Take the time to scoop leaves and debris out of your gutters. Inspect the roof and remove pine needles, twigs, and tree branches. Replace any broken or damaged shingles.
Windows Should be One of Your Cleaning Projects for Spring
Windows get dirty during the year. Clean them inside and out with spray cleaner. Cleaning the exterior is easy with a window cleaning attachment connected to your garden hose. You’ll be able to easily reach top floor windows and cleaning the lower windows will be a breeze.
Service and Clean the Air Conditioner
It’s important to prepare your air conditioner for warmer weather. Make sure it’s in good working order. Call your HVAC professional to service your system. You can change the filter, check the hose connections for any leaks, and check the drain pans. Regular maintenance will extend the lifespan of the system.
After a long winter, your lawn may have downed branches, decaying leaves, weeds beginning to grow, and fallen pine needles. Take a weekend to clean up the yard. Now is a great time to test your sprinkler system and outdoor faucets. Service the lawnmower, buy some gas for it, and make sure it is working properly.
Cleaning Projects for Spring: Get the Grill Ready
Prepare the grill for warm weather cookouts. Check your grill’s burner jets for clogs. Scrub the grates with a sturdy grill brush. Make sure the hoses and connections are working properly. If you have a propane grill, purchase propane so you’re ready for the first barbecue of the season. If you have a charcoal grill, clean out any residue and ash.
As you work to get your home in great shape, enjoy the time outdoors with your family. Spring cleaning helps you prepare your home for entertaining family and friends in the warmer months ahead.
Common Causes of Mold in the Home
Indoors or outside, mold and moisture go hand in hand. Outdoors, mold is an important type of fungi that helps with decomposition. In the home, mold is unsightly, destructive, and unhealthy, especially for those with mold allergies. This article explains the common causes of mold in the home.
Poor Ventilation in the Bathroom
Bathrooms often get warm and steamy after showering. This humidity creates the perfect conditions for mold to grow. Over time, you may notice discoloration on the ceiling and walls or in the grout between shower tiles. Help prevent mold in the bathroom by installing a ventilation system or simply opening the bathroom window for 10-15 minutes after bathing.
Moisture in the Crawlspace Can Cause Mold in the Home
If your home has a crawlspace, you have an environment conducive to mold growth. The reason being most crawlspaces have exposed earth that allows groundwater to seep in. The area doesn’t have to flood for moisture to accumulate.
Reduce moisture beneath your home by maintaining proper drainage away from the foundation, installing a moisture barrier, and sealing the exterior of your home’s foundation.
Unrepaired Leaks Lead to Mold in the Home
Don’t ignore leaks under sinks, behind toilets, and beneath appliances like the fridge, dishwasher, and washing machine. Small puddles of water are enough to cause mold in the home. The same is true of roof leaks. The best way to prevent roof leaks is with regular maintenance. Check frequently for cracked or missing shingles and replace them. Keep gutters clear of debris to prevent roof damage.
Homeowners often overwater houseplants. This practice is not only bad for plants, but it can also cause mold growth in and around the plants. Houseplants should only be watered when the top inch or so of soil is dry. If you notice a fuzzy white layer on the soil, you have mold growing that will release spores into the air. Scoop the moldy layer away and replace it with fresh soil.
Leaving Spills on Carpets and Rugs
You may not think too much about a small amount of water or other liquids that get spilled on rugs and carpets. But even the smallest puddles can cause mold in the home. The liquid seeps into the fibers and dampens the padding, creating the perfect environment for mold. Blot up spills on carpets and rugs right away.
Wet Clothing Left on the Floor Contributes to Mold in the Home
As family members shower and rush out the door, damp items often get left in piles on the floor. Encourage family members to hang wet clothing and towels to dry before putting them in the laundry bin.
Stacking Firewood Indoors
It’s convenient to have a stack of firewood indoors, but as freshly-cut firewood ages, it releases moisture. Only bring firewood inside if it has been seasoned for six months after being cut.
5 Home Safety Essentials That Should Be in Every Home
You want to keep yourself and your family safe and protected from danger. Don’t overlook these basic home safety essentials that should be in every house. Make sure that you have these items in your home and that they are ready to use in case of an emergency.
5 Home Safety Essentials
Whether you live in a house or an apartment, these five home safety essentials should be part of your home.
1. Carbon Monoxide Detector
You probably know that you should have a smoke detector on every floor of your home and near all bedrooms. But, did you also know that a carbon monoxide detector is equally important? Since CO gas is odorless and colorless, it’s undetectable without this device. Carbon monoxide gas sickens between 20,000 and 30,000 Americans each year and kills about 500 of those people. Don’t risk your family member’s lives by failing to have CO alarms in your house.
2. Deadbolt Locks are Home Safety Essentials
If you have concerns about theft or forced entry, a deadbolt lock for your exterior doors should be high on your list of home safety essentials. These locks offer more security than a standard doorknob lock with a steel bolt that passes straight through your door frame. A reinforced door frame makes your door even more secure.
If your family members lose their keys often, it may be time to invest in a smart lock for your door. This way you can add, remove, or change codes as needed so there aren’t stray keys to your home just laying about. Some even let you unlock the door remotely through a connected app.
3. Fire Extinguisher
If a small kitchen flare-up occurs, you want to be able to put it out quickly and safely. Have a multi-use fire extinguisher available in an accessible location. Make sure that your family members know how to operate it. Learn about when you should use a fire extinguisher and when you should just get out of the house. As a rule of thumb, if it takes you longer than 5 seconds to put out a blaze, you should vacate the building.
4. Emergency Ladder
Anyone with a second story or raised level in their home should have an emergency ladder in their home safety essentials kit. They are portable, collapsible, and can help you get out safely from a high window without waiting for rescue personnel with a ladder or jumping.
5. First Aid and Disaster Kit
Although these are technically two separate items, they can easily be combined into a portable and accessible unit. You should have them in your home no matter where you live. Include bandages and basic first aid supplies, bottled water and shelf-stable food, medicines, and flashlights with batteries. Make sure you have enough supplies for every family member to last at least 2 days, including pets.
Gathering these items isn’t hard to do, and the peace of mind that comes with having home safety essentials is worth it.
Uses of Thermal Imaging in Home Inspections
Thermal or infrared imaging technology is used by some home inspectors during an inspection. A thermal imaging camera produces a color image showing the amount of thermal energy an object is emitting. This provides a trained inspector with information about the condition of the property. He or she can find problems that are not visible to the naked eye. Thermal imaging in home inspections provides insights to the homebuyer by helping to find certain issues in the home.
Thermal Imaging Helps Find Moisture in a Home
Unless you find a puddle or can see water damage, leaks can easily go unnoticed. With infrared imaging, your inspector can examine a water stain to determine if it’s an active moisture problem or an old stain. A lower temperature might indicate a current moisture problem.
If your home inspector suspects mold, thermal imaging can help find the source by detecting water leaks behind walls that would be difficult to identify without this technology.
Detecting Electrical Hazards With Thermal Imaging in Home Inspections
Infrared imaging can find problems with wiring that may be a potential electrical fire hazard. Your home inspector will use a thermal camera to examine the walls or electrical panel for hot spots. During the scan, dangerous hot spots are displayed as warmer colors on the camera.
Locate Areas of Defective or Missing Insulation
An infrared camera is used to detect uneven heat distribution. It can find areas of missing, defective, or inadequate insulation in a home. Uninsulated or under-insulated spaces will show as cooler areas on an infrared image so the homeowner knows where the insulation needs to be replaced.
Energy Efficiency Issues
Leaky window or door seals can be found using thermal imaging. The camera will register a difference in temperature around doors or windows where there are air leaks. An infrared camera shows the home inspector areas where the seals around doors and windows need to be replaced.
How to Reduce Humidity at Home
Humidity in the home is uncomfortable and can cause your energy bill to increase. As the humidity levels in your home rise, your HVAC has to work harder to cool the area. Eliminating excess moisture from your home takes time and attention. Here are a few simple steps you can follow in order to reduce humidity at home.
1. Cover Your Crawlspace to Reduce Humidity
The crawlspace is an entry point for moisture in the home. Reduce humidity by covering the dirt floor with a plastic vapor barrier. Make sure there is no standing water or damp soil in your crawl space. Use fans to increase airflow and help keep the area dry.
2. Use Exhaust Fans Throughout the House
Another easy way to reduce humidity at home is to use ventilation fans. Rooms like bathrooms and the kitchen tend to have higher humidity and benefit from the use of exhaust fans. Run the fan when cooking or showering to remove moisture and discourage bacteria and mold growth.
3. Use a Dehumidifier
Dehumidifiers are an effective option for excessively humid homes. If humidity levels in your house are 60% or higher, a dehumidifier is a good investment. A portable dehumidifier in a damp living space pulls moisture from the air. Keep the unit clean and empty the reservoir when it is full. Another option is to install a whole-house unit to reduce moisture throughout the home.
4. Grow Plants to Absorb Humidity
Certain plants are natural dehumidifiers. Plants like the Boston fern reduce moisture in the air. You’ll be adding more oxygen as you dehumidify your home. With the plants in the home, you will enjoy a more comfortable environment with cleaner air.
5. Dry Your Clothes Outside or in the Dryer
If humidity is an issue, don’t leave wet clothes to air-dry inside the home. While this may be an inexpensive and effective way to dry your clothes, it also adds moisture to the indoor environment. Reduce humidity at home by drying your clothes in the dryer or on a clothesline outdoors.
6. Take Colder Showers
Hot showers increase the amount of humidity in your home. Cooler showers are more appealing during the summer months and help to limit the amount of moisture that lingers in the air. If you’re showering with humidity levels in mind, take shorter, cooler showers.
Uncomfortable levels of humidity can be resolved with the right tools and techniques. Use the above tips to reduce humidity at home.
9 Grilling Safety Tips to Follow This Summer
The summer months are the perfect time to host a cookout, but July is also the biggest month for accidental grill fires. Both gas and charcoal grills have risks associated with their use. The next time you use your grill, practice these grilling safety tips to keep your family and home safe.
Grilling Away From the House is an Important Grilling Safety Tip
Many homeowners don’t realize that their home is at risk since flames from the grill can reach nearby structures. Use your grill away from walls, patios, and balconies. Stay away from patio umbrellas and overhanging tree branches as well.
Make Sure That Your Grill is on a Flat Surface
Unstable grills can tip over and cause injury or fire. Make sure your grill is on a flat surface and doesn’t tip over easily. A grill pad will contain any food scraps, protect your deck or patio, and create an even surface that stabilizes the grill.
Clean Your Grill After You Use It
Always clean your grill after use. Use a brush to scrub the grates. Empty accumulated grease from the tray below. If you use a grill that requires charcoal, dispose of the coals in a metal container after they have cooled off.
Check Your Grill For Propane Leaks
If you are using a gas grill, check it for propane leaks. You can easily do so with a soap and water solution. Apply the solution to the fuel line hose, then turn the gas on. If you see any bubbles forming, there is a leak. Another sure sign of a leak is if you smell gas.
Don’t Re-Light the Flame Right Away
Sometimes your flame will go out on a propane grill. When this happens, wait about five minutes before igniting again. Be sure to turn the propane off while you are waiting.
Never Leave Your Grill Unattended
Accidents often happen because of an unattended grill, especially with children or pets present. Always stay close to your grill when you are using it. The grill can stay hot for quite some time after you are finished cooking, so it’s important to keep your kids and pets away from it both during and after grilling.
Starter Fluid Grilling Safety Tips
Only use starter fluid when you are starting a charcoal grill. If the flame goes out, don’t add more fuel. Use a safer alternative like newspaper to re-light.
Grilling Safety Tips for Clothing
When you are using your grill, pay attention to your clothing. Don’t wear flammable items or accessories. Stay away from shirts that have long sleeves or strings hanging from them. Tie back your apron strings. Make sure that nothing hangs over the top of your grill that could catch fire.
Be Prepared In Case Of An Emergency
Emergencies happen, so always keep a fire extinguisher close by. Don’t use water when trying to put out a fire caused by your grill. That can just make it worse. This is one of the most important grilling safety tips to remember.
The summer is a great time to barbecue. However, take proper precautions to keep your family safe when you are grilling out.
6 Basic Tools for Homeowners
Purchasing a home is a goal that many people have, however, homeownership also means you are responsible for maintenance tasks around the house. You will no longer have the luxury of being able to call the landlord to take care of issues around the property. By relying on a few basic tools for homeowners, you can easily make simple repairs.
Six Basic Tools for Homeowners to Include in Their Toolbox
1. Claw Hammer
A hammer is one of the most basic tools that every homeowner should have, and you may already own one. This hammer has a head with a flat side and another with a V-shape designed to extract nails without damaging surfaces. If you do not already have one, choose a quality hammer with solid construction and durability.
2. Screwdrivers are Basic Tools for Homeowners
Screwdrivers are helpful tools to have in your home. Tighten cabinet knobs, open battery cases, and assemble furniture with this basic tool for homeowners. It’s also important to note that screwdrivers come equipped with a variety of screw sizes and heads, so purchase some with multiple head sizes and tips.
3. Pliers are Basic Tools for Homeowners
Generally, there are two types of pliers you will want to have: tongue-and-groove and needle-nose. Needle-nose pliers can be used to grip and bend wires and nails while tongue-and-groove pliers are used more for tasks like crimping and fastening.
Whether it’s a laser level or a standard level, this is a useful tool to include in your toolbox. A level helps you install items such as mirrors, shelves, and frames.
5. Staple Gun
A staple gun is great for tasks like securing fabric, installing carpet, and adding insulation. Many homeowners prefer to use manual staple guns because they’re easier to use and less expensive than electric ones.
6. Cordless Drill
The best perk of a cordless drill is that they don’t require an electrical outlet or cord. A cordless drill is a convenient basic tool for homeowners to have around the house.
When you own a home, stock your toolbox with these basic tools. Even if there are no pressing tasks that need to be completed yet, it’s always a good idea to have these tools for future maintenance tasks that are sure to arise.
Helpful Hints to Repel Mosquitoes Around the Home
Mosquitoes are troublesome insects that can disrupt a beautiful evening outdoors. Here are helpful hints to repel mosquitoes around your property.
Repel Mosquitoes Around the Home
One useful hint to repel mosquitoes is to check that the screens on your windows and doors are in good condition. Mosquitoes are small insects, so a tiny tear in the screen is enough to allow them access to your home. Repair window screens to keep the bugs outside.
Treat Your Lawn to Repel Mosquitoes
Have a lawn service apply mosquito repellant around your property. Having your lawn treated for mosquitoes will help keep them away from your home. Depending on how many rainy days you have, your lawn may need to be treated several times throughout the summer.
Plant Natural Mosquito Repellents
Some plants naturally repel mosquitoes and are a beautiful addition to your landscaping. Depending on your particular climate, you can plant catnip, rosemary, lemon thyme, holy basil, feverfew, or citronella to help repel mosquitoes.
Drain Stagnant Water
Mosquitoes need water to lay their eggs. Anywhere that water settles is a perfect breeding ground for them. Birdbaths or unused kiddie pools are common culprits. Keeping an eye out for standing puddles is one of the most helpful hints to repel mosquitoes.
Use Scented Repellents
There are plenty of options for bug repellents. You can find them made from chemical solutions or derived from natural sources.
- Sprays or lotions are available for your skin.
- Mosquito repellent candles can be used outside.
- Use oil repellents in lanterns to repel mosquitoes in larger areas.
- Mix natural oils like peppermint, citronella, and camphor with water and spray on decks and outdoor furniture.
Hints to Repel Mosquitoes Include Keeping Your Gutters Clean
Your gutters are another area where mosquitoes can breed. Debris that settles inside of your gutters creates damp areas that mosquitoes like. Have your gutters cleaned on a regular schedule to help discourage mosquitoes.
Using these hints to repel mosquitoes, you’ll enjoy being outside this summer without pesky insects biting you.
Addressing High Radon Levels in the Home
Radon is a radioactive gas that is created as uranium breaks down in rocks and soil. Radon enters into homes through cracks in the foundation or utility openings. Since houses are enclosed and doors and windows are often shut, radon can build up indoors. Exposure to high radon levels is the leading cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers. It is important to test for radon in the home and take steps to lower unsafe levels.
Testing For High Radon Levels in the Home
Radon testing is the first step toward identifying and correcting any issues. The gas is challenging to detect because it does not emit any odor or taste, and it is colorless. Hire a professional to test for high radon levels in the home. Their training, experience, and knowledge will deliver the most accurate results. Also, professionals use superior devices which are more accurate and reliable than DIY home testing kits.
Mitigation for High Radon Levels
Mitigation refers to the process of reducing high radon levels in the home. It’s critical to hire a radon mitigation professional to reduce radon levels because DIY tactics often backfire. Some methods include using pipes to suction the radon away from the home, sealing cracks to prevent more radon from entering, pressurization, and installing heat recovery ventilators.
Dealing with high radon levels in the home can be challenging. Hiring a professional will simplify the process and correct the issues in an effective and timely manner.
5 Benefits of a Pre-Listing Home Inspection
Why Order a Pre-Listing Home Inspection
It is common for a home buyer to schedule a home inspection. Sellers can also benefit from having their home inspected before listing the property for sale. A pre-listing home inspection can be used to more accurately price your home, avoid surprises, and help you decide which repairs to make before listing.
1. Avoid Surprises
After living in a home for many years, you know that it isn’t perfect, but you might not know of specific issues and their order of importance. A pre-listing inspection will inform you of potential problems so you can avoid unpleasant surprises when the home is inspected by the buyer.
Problems like a hidden roof defect, foundation issue, or termite infestation can derail a closing. These surprises affect the value of your home, can interfere with the buyer’s ability to get a mortgage, and potentially cause the buyer to walk away from the deal.
One of the primary benefits of a pre-listing home inspection is uncovering potential issues so they can be addressed before the home is shown to buyers. Depending on the results of the inspection, you might choose to make repairs or updates to your home or change the price of your home to account for any issues.
2. Time to Fix Problems
If the inspection reveals items that need to be repaired, it’s best to find out early in the process rather than in the middle of escrow. A pre-listing home inspection gives you plenty of time to fix issues so you can make smarter decisions about home repair. When you aren’t under a time crunch, you can shop around for the best price from a contractor.
3. DIY Repairs are an Option
When the pre-listing inspection turns up minor issues that can impact your home’s value, you have the option to tackle projects on your own. Once you are negotiating with a buyer, they will likely require that you bring in a professional, even for simple fixes. This can cause easy, inexpensive projects to become more costly.
4. Reduce Negotiations
By eliminating surprises and addressing any needed repairs before the home is listed, you can shorten the negotiation process by taking defects off the table. This helps you gain the upper hand in negotiations by removing the buyer’s justification for price reductions, repairs, and other concessions.
5. Accurate Pricing
One of the most challenging aspects of selling your home is choosing a price that is fair and will help your home sell quickly. When your home is priced correctly, you get the most money possible and a quick offer. A pre-listing home inspection helps you set a reasonable price for the property being sold.