Neglecting to test a sump pump routinely especially if it is rarely
used - can lead to severe water damage, especially when a heavy storm,
snow melt, or flooding sends water against the home.
Overload of the sump pump, due to poor drainage elsewhere on the property
can lead to pump failure. Frequent sump pump operation can be a sign
of excessive water buildup under the basement floor, due to poorly
sloped landscaping, poor rain runoff, gutter back-flows and other
Lack of a back-up sump pump, which can be quickly installed in the
event the first pump fails, can lead to serious water damage and property
loss. This is especially important if the sump pump is relied upon
to maintain a dry basement, or if the house is located in an area
of seasonally high groundwater. Sump pump failure can cause extensive
water damage and the loss of valuable personal belongings.
Clogged gutters can force rainwater to travel up onto the roof under
shingles, or to overflow and travel down the inside of the wall, or
to overflow and collect at the home's foundation.
First floor gutters can overflow if second floor gutters have been
mistakenly directed to drain into them.
An insufficient number of or undersized downspouts can cause gutters
to overflow. Downspouts that don't empty far enough away from the
foundation walls can lead to foundation wall damage and a wet basement.
Seal up the attic access panel with weather stripping. Cut a piece
of fibre glass or rigid foam board the same size as the attic hatch
and glue it to the back of the attic access panel.
If you have pull-down attic stairs or an attic door, these should
be sealed in a similar manner using weather stripping and insulating
the back of the door. Treat the attic door like an exterior door to
Electrical Service Panel
The main electric service panel is the distribution center for electric
service within the building. The primary function of the breakers
or fuses (overcurrent protection devices) is to protect the house
wiring from overloads.
All service panels must have covers or dead fronts.
All openings should be closed.
Main disconnect. A means of disconnect for service
must be located either outside or inside the dwelling unit nearest
the point of entrance of the service conductors. No more than six
hand movements or no more than six circut
breakers may be used to disconnect all service. Typically a main disconnect
switch is required by the local authority. The main disconnect should
be clearly marked to identify it as the service disconnect.
Plumbing. Obviously, you always want to check for
water drips or leaks. Check operation of the lavatory, toilet, tub
and shower. A common problem in bathrooms is water leakage around
the tub and shower.
It is a good idea to look up and check the ceiling below each bathroom
for signs of water or to catch the development of a major water leak.
If a toilet is not a water-saving fixture, consider replacing it with
a water-saving toilet that has a 1.6 gallon flushing capacity. Pressure
assisted toilets use water pressure to compress air in a tank that
makes the 1.5 to 1.6 gallon flush very effective in cleaning the fixture
bowl and preventing buildup in the soil pipe.
Snow and Ice from Your Gas Meter:
The regulator on your gas meter has to be able to release gas in the
event of a malfunction. If ice or snow covers the vent, the regulator
will sense that it cannot release gas. As a result the entire system
will automatically shut down, stopping gas service to your home. To
avoid gas service interruption, keep your meter free from snow and
ice build up, assuring proper operation. However snow removal that
damages or dislodges your gas meter can cause a dangerous gas leak,
so make sure you follow these guidelines.
• Use a broom (not a shovel) to clear snow from your
meter, regulator and vents.
• Remove icicles hanging above your meter.
• Sweep snow away from the outside vent openings
of natural gas appliances (such as clothes dryers) to avoid a backup
of dangerous CO gas into your home.
• Be sure whomever removes snow from your property
is aware of the placement of your meter if it is near a sidewalk or
• If your meter becomes encased in ice or if you
believe your meter has been damaged call your local Gas supplier immediately.
You can save as much as 10% a year on your heating and cooling bills
by simply turning your thermostat back 10% to 15% for 8 hours. You
can do this automatically without sacrificing comfort by installing
an automatic setback or programmable thermostat.
Using a programmable thermostat, you can adjust the times you turn
on the heating or air-conditioning according to a pre-set schedule.
As a result you don't operate the equipment as much when you are asleep
or when the house or part of the house is not occupied.
Programmable thermostats can store and repeat multiple daily settings
a day (six or more temperature settings a day ) that you can manually
control without affecting the rest of the daily or weekly program.
When shopping for a programmable thermostat be sure to look for the
ENERGY STAR label.
The 10 Best Places to Hide Valuables in Your Home
is a crime of opportunity. And burglars don't want to spend allot
of time looking through a home to find things of value to steal,
which is why there are obvious locations that they always check.
That means that there are ways to outsmart them by hiding your valuables
in not-so-obvious places, and sometimes in plain sight.
Depending on the size and type of them, the best places to hide
valuables are those that burglars don't want to search through or
wouldn't bother with, including places that are inconvenient or
difficult to search, messy, or uninteresting.
Here are the Top 10:
1. hollowed out books on your bookshelf. If you have only a few
books on the shelf, this may be a clue that they're actually hiding
places for your valuables, so make sure your library is large enough
to serve as a tedious place to search.
2. a false VHS tape or VHS carton. Who watches VHS tapes anymore?
Again, follow the rules above for books. A few can be a clue, but
many can be a time consuming distraction.
3. false containers in the kitchen cupboard, under the sink, and
in the bathroom, such as fake food cans and boxes, false cleaning
product bottles, and personal hygiene items, and even in a heavy
tub of "cat litter". Some false containers available on
the market today actually look like false containers, so you might
want to save yourself the expense and create your own.
4. In the false bottom or under the plastic liner of a bathroom
or kitchen trash can. No one wants to go pawing through your trash.
5. wrapped in plastic and aluminum foil and stored in the back of
the freezer. This is also a good place to store documents and paper
currency in case of a house fire.
6. in a floor safe in the bedroom closet. While this location may
be obvious, a burglar would have to exert a lot of time and energy
-- and create a lot of noise -- trying to break into a floor safe,
which is generally of the heavy variety, making it not only hard
to open, but hard to steal whole, if the thief has plans to break
into it later.
7. inside a house plant. Using the same method as for trash containers,
a plant's soil can be contained in a waterproof liner that can be
lifted up to hide items underneath. Just make sure the items you're
hiding are in a waterproof container, too.
8. inside a false wall outlet. Make sure it's not a live receptacle or in the way of any electrical wiring.
9. within hollowed-out/removable building components, such as wainscoting,
floor panels, door jambs, window sills, and cabinet doors.
10. in the garage inside boxes marked with mundane labels, such
as "Xmas Ornaments", "Kid's Clothes", "School Projects", etc. Again,
the more the boxes you have the longer the burglar will have to
search --if he's so inclined--to find something worth stealing.
of Fire Safety
Don't get alarm lazy.
Make sure you got ionization and photo-electric alarms on every floor,
including the basement. When the alarm clirps, replace the battery.
Do get a multisensory device. If you are deaf
or hard of hearing, you may need an alarm that flashes or vibrates
to alert you that something is amiss.
Toss after 10. Problems
with electric blankets and heating pads tend to occur when they're
more than 10 years old. Replace if they have charred spots, they have
frayed or cracked electrical cords, or they're a decade or more old.
Beware of overload.
Older homes may not be equipped to handle today's stash of electronics.
Overburdened systems can spark fires. Replace, don't repair damaged
Tend to the furnace.
Faulty fireplaces and wood stoves are prime hazards. Have a trained
professional inspect your system, especially if it's bee a while.
Generators should also be checked, ideally every year.
Practice makes protection.
Have an escape plan and practice it. Any plan should have two ways
out of every room: make sure windows and doors open easily. Remember:
Stay low and go.
Smoking no's. Smoking-related
fires cause the most fire deaths in the US. It's best not to smoke
inside your house, but fires can start out-side too. Dampen butts
and ashes before throwing them away.
Banish old space heaters.
They can lower your utility bills, but they're also a prime cause
of home fires. Buy a new model that turns off automatically if it
tips over or gets overheated.
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