Tag Archives: maintenance

When so Many Dangers Threaten Your Home, Taking Every Kind of Precaution Makes Sense

Your home, your haven, your refuge…if only you could believe that it will stand the test of time and be there for you no matter what. Sadly, many people lose their homes to disasters every year, or suffer through property losses, damage or theft. Really, it’s no surprise when you consider just a few of the threats your home might face:

Earthquakes—Not every home in the U.S. sits in a quake zone, but for those that do, even a small quake can do foundation damage.

Fires, internal—According to the National Fire Protection Association, there were 369,500 home fires in the U.S. in 2013, resulting in 2,755 deaths and $6.8 billion in property damage. Fires can start within your house for all kinds of reasons, from faulty wiring to a candle left burning unattended, or even a kitchen fire.

Fires, external—Then there are the fires that originate outside of your home but still threaten it, such as wildfires, fires started by lightening, a neighbor’s house catching fire and spreading to yours, etc.

Burglars—Those who would like to exploit your prosperity by stealing from you also threaten your home, taking not only your property but also your peace of mind…and potentially causing damage to your home if they force entry through a door or window.

Pests—Carpenter ants, powder post beetles, termites, oh my! We live in house built in 1890 that had such extreme pest damage, we had to rebuild one-third of the house. The insects had destroyed floor joists, walls, ceilings, framing…you name it.

Water—Which brings me to water, by which I mean leaks: Even the tiniest leak can lead to extensive damage to your home. In our situation, the pests were drawn to the wet wood that was the result of water getting in through poorly maintained windows and siding. That was on the south side of the house. On the north side, leaky kitchen plumbing had rotted out almost the entire floor.

Flooding, internal—Another kind of water danger is flooding caused by something with the home, from burst pipes or a water heater gone haywire.

Flooding, external—Then there’s the flooding caused by nature, such as the basement flooding in a heavy rainstorm, or flooding from rising waters. No matter the reason for the flooding, your home is going to get damaged!

Falling trees or branches—Then there are the gravity-driven events, like trees falling over or branches breaking off…and falling right onto your roof.

Collisions—OK, so this one is a bit of a stretch, but it can and does happen: Your house could be hit by a car, a truck or even an airplane!

Lightening—Lightening is another less common threat to your home but it is still a threat and you must be ready to react if something happens.

Vandals—Another less common threat to your home but a valid one is the obnoxious vandal, the teen spray painting your fence in the dark of the night or breaking windows while you’re off at work.

So why pull together such a depressing and frightening list? Only to make the point that we as homeowners should all do everything we can to protect our homes, property and family, because you never know what kind of man-made or natural disaster might strike. Keeping up with home maintenance, investing in a home security system that includes fire and flood detection, and taking steps to make your home less inviting to outsiders are all proactive ways to protect what you can to the best of your abilities.

4 Ways to Be Safe When Maintaining Your Yard

If you have a yard, you’ve probably been out mowing or weeding more than once already now that May is well under way. Since you’ll likely be out there again soon–like this weekend–let’s make sure you’re being safe while being mindful of your yard’s maintenance, so you’re able to enjoy it in peace…and in one piece.

1) Speaking of mowing…
Where we live, the grass grows like crazy once the weather warms up a little bit and I am ever so grateful for the riding mower that helps me (sort of) keep up with it. Lawnmowers of every kind, however, for all of the beauty they bring about by enabling neatly manicured lawns, are potential hazards. Here’s how to minimize those hazards:

Whether you’re mowing or weed whacking, wear protective eye gear, long pants and long sleeves. If the equipment is loud enough, wear ear plugs too. It might be too warm for covered skin, but I can tell you from experience that a flying rock set in motion by a weed whacker will do some serious damage to your bare skin!

Only gas up when the engine is cool and in a well-ventilated area (like outside!), and store the gasoline in a safe place, out of reach of any little hands as well as in a place where it can’t be knocked over. Obviously, you should only use an approved container for storing the gas as well. (Need I say you shouldn’t be smoking while refueling? I didn’t think so.)

2) Commonsense tool and chemical storage
In addition to keeping the gasoline stored in a safe place, make sure any lawn-care tools and chemicals are as well. This is for the protection of the kids and you. Sure, it’s a cliché from a cartoon to see someone step on a rake and get hit in the face, but guess what? It happens. Anything with sharp edges, like a rake or pruning shears, needs to be stored in such a way that injuries can’t happen. Be broadminded when you think about what falls into this category of tools needing commonsense storage: Even a small digging tool for ferreting out dandelion weeds can be potentially dangerous depending on the circumstances–and the (little) hands that get hold of it.

Chemicals such as fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides also must be kept out of reach, and—like the gasoline—stored so they can’t accidentally get knocked over. And always, always keep these chemicals in their original containers!

3) Keep sidewalks and walkways clear
OK, I admit it: I am lazy when it comes to putting hoses away, and this is dangerous. Hoses, extension cords, power cords…if you’re dragging something across the lawn and front walk to do some yard maintenance, make sure you drag whatever it is back again and put it away so no one trips over it.

Also give these walkways and any outdoor stairs a good once over, checking for tripping hazards or even loose boards. The freezing cold of winter can cause sidewalks to crack or even buckle, and the wet weather can wreak havoc on wood.

4) Remove the attractive hazards
You might see just a ladder and a bucket lying out in your yard, but you know what you’re really looking at? A good fall and a drowning hazard. Kids will be kids. Put the ladder away as soon as you’re done with it, and put any buckets out of reach of kids too. Remember that a bucket hardly needs any water to be a drowning hazard for a young child. And there’s no reason to have it out anyway, right? I mean, you’re working on making your yard pretty, so think of stuff like this as “clutter” and get it out of sight, and you’ll be safe as well as tidy.

For those of us who suffer through long, dreary winters, the warmer weather of spring and summer is to be savored outdoors whenever we get the chance. Let’s make sure that we’re around to do that savoring by following some yard maintenance safety tips!

Be Wary of Winter Weather by Giving Your Roof a Late Winter Review

Yes, signs of spring are popping up all over, and so are the reminders that winter is still upon us. “The Ides of March” have been words of foreboding for centuries, and we do well to approach the middle of the month with the same caution…especially when it comes to our roofs.

Be wary of winter weather when it comes to your roof. All kinds of damage might have happened during the earlier part of the winter, and the time to get any problems fixed is now, as much as you want to wait for warmer, drier days.

Here are just a few of the parts of your roofing setup that might be damaged—and dangerous—and therefore in need of repair sooner rather than later:

Gutters can get clogged or damaged
Clogged gutters can lead to all kinds of issues beyond just the annoying overflow that dumps water on your head as you walk out your back door. When gutters aren’t free flowing, water sits, stagnates and can lead to damage to those gutters, such as rust and decay. That water can also end up backing up into the house or dripping onto the siding, depending on how your gutters are attached, to do water damage. Oh, and mosquitoes are all too happy to use your stagnate water for laying eggs.

When doing your inspection, also make sure the gutters are still at the correct pitch to ensure the water flows out. Branches knocking against the house or ill-placed ladders used to hang Christmas lights can bend gutters, disrupting the intended flow.

Shingles can get loose
Loose shingles might seem to be annoying only, noisily flapping when it’s windy. But they are a threat to the integrity of your roof. Consider why they are there in the first place: to keep rain out. As someone who has had to rebuild one third of a house that was almost ruined by water damage, I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to keep even the tiniest bit of water from gaining access to anywhere it shouldn’t be! And loose shingles can easily become missing shingles once another windstorm blows in!

Flashing can become loose around skylights, vents and chimneys
Water can get into even the tiniest opening—and will! Water wants only to flow downward. If rain is pounding upon the roof and there’s a tiny opening that water can seep through, trust me, it will! And even just a little water can do a lot of damage. Check the flashing around anything that protrudes from your roof, to make sure water is being kept out. And look for loose flashing elsewhere too. Flashing usually has a reason for being wherever it was installed. Make sure it stays put!

Why not wait until spring?
Sure, we’d all rather wait for better weather before tackling any roof repairs—but we shouldn’t. That’s because anything that’s even just a wee bit damaged will likely get worse as the weather continues. A loose shingle can become a flyaway shingle in a strong wind. A crack in the seal around a skylight can let in a little bit of water that can do a whole lot of damage. A clogged (or loose) gutter can let excess rainfall end up somewhere it shouldn’t be. Yes, waiting would be nicer, but it’s never too soon to keep your roof safe from weather damage!

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