Real Estate Blog
Tuesday, December 20 2011
During the colder months, preventing ice dams should be a primary concern. Here’s how to protect your home from damage.
Wintertime icicles may look charming, but they usually signal a serious — and potentially costly — problem. Often lurking behind that thick ridge of ice on your roof is a pool of melted water, hence the term ice dam. That accumulated water can work its way under roof shingles and into the home, causing significant damage to ceilings, walls, and floors. Additionally, the sheer weight of the ice dam often causes gutters and downspouts to pull away from the house, sometimes bringing the fascia boards with them. Preventing ice dams helps avoid damage and costly repairs.
Over the five-year period leading up to 2007, water damage and freezing accounted for the second largest share of homeowner insurance claims, according to Claire Wilkinson of the Insurance Information Institute. The average homeowner claim for such damages was $5,531.
Ice dams are responsible for cracked plaster ceilings and walls, peeling paint, soaked carpets, and buckled wood floors. Less visible but no less destructive effects include drenched insulation, rotting joists, and the formation of mold. The most common form of ice dam-related damage is collapsed rain gutters, which can cost $100 to $300 per side to repair.
What causes ice dams
As heat rises from a home, it melts the accumulated snow on the roof. That melted snow travels down the roof in liquid form until it reaches the eave line and gutter, where it refreezes due to colder temps. This ice ridge continues to expand, blocking the flow of subsequent snow melt.
As water continues to melt higher up the roof, it collects behind the ice dam in the form of a puddle. Because that water sits over the warmer portion of the roof, it doesn’t freeze.
In order for ice dams to form, there needs to be roof snow buildup, home heat loss, and subfreezing temperatures. The more snow, the larger the heat loss, and the longer the subfreezing temperatures remain, the higher the likelihood that ice dams will materialize.
Preventing ice dams
Homeowners can’t control the weather, but they can do something about heat loss. “The main goal is to keep heat from reaching the roof, thus preventing snow melt in the first place,” explains Doug Bruell, president of Cleveland’s 25-year-old North Coast Insulation. Proper insulation and ventilation of the attic space is intended to keep the roof surface at or near outdoor temperatures.
Typical steps include insulating the attic floor and installing soffit, gable and/or ridge vents to expel heat. Folding attic stairways and recessed light fixtures also need to be insulated. “All penetrations into the attic from the heated living space need to be addressed,” adds Bruell. Homeowners can expect to pay $800 to $1,500 to insulate the attic, plus another $300 to $600 for the installation of vents.
The process is a bit more involved for homes with finished attics, says Bruell. To facilitate sufficient cold air flow from soffit vent to ridge vent, baffles or tubes are installed between the ceiling insulation and the underside of the roof. This might involve opening up the ceiling.
Insulation means savings
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, adding insulation to an unheated attic will have a greater impact on energy consumption than placing it anywhere else in the house. A properly insulated and ventilated attic not only reduces winter heating bills, it will trim summer cooling bills by expelling heat buildup. You can expect to save 10% to 50% on your heating and cooling bills.
In addition, you may qualify for a federal tax credit of up to $500.
In theory, roof rakes, brooms, and other long-handled devices can be used to remove snow before it has a chance to melt. In practice, however, the scheme is difficult to pull off, considering that most homeowners can’t reach all areas of the roof.
Electrically-heated deicing cables, which install along eave lines to inhibit water freeze, are only moderately effective, says Bruell. “These heat cables often just back up the problem, forcing the dams to form higher up the roof.” In addition to the purchase price ($150 to $300), and installation ($300 to $500), these cables require electricity to run. They also can shorten the life of roof shingles.
Ice dam removal
Homeowners suffering the effects of an ice dam—or those who fear a leak is imminent—can hire a roofing company to remove the ice buildup. Rather than employ hammers, chisels, and salt, which can damage the roof and gutters, technicians will steam away the ice and remove any remaining snow. Expect to pay around $500 or more for the service. It goes without saying that do-it-yourself removal can be dangerous when it involves ladders, heavy ice, and slippery roofs.
Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/home-thoughts/preventing-ice-dams/#ixzz1h600V0o5
Wednesday, December 07 2011
Decorating homes and businesses is a long-standing tradition around the holiday season. Unfortunately, these same decorations may increase your chances of fire. Based on data from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), an estimated 250 home fires involving Christmas trees and another 170 home fires involving holiday lights and other decorative lighting occur each year. Together, these fires resulted in 21 deaths and 43 injuries.
Following a few simple fire safety tips can keep electric lights, candles, and the ever popular Christmas tree from creating a tragedy. Learn how to prevent a fire and what to do in case a fire starts in your home. Make sure all exits are accessible and not blocked by decorations or trees. Help ensure that you have a fire safe holiday season.
What’s a traditional Christmas morning scene without a beautifully decorated tree? If your household includes a natural tree in its festivities, take to heart the sales person’s suggestion – “Keep the tree watered.”
Christmas trees account for hundreds of fires annually. Typically, shorts in electrical lights or open flames from candles, lighters or matches start tree fires. Well-watered trees are not a problem. A dry and neglected tree can be.
Selecting a Tree for the Holidays
Needles on fresh trees should be green and hard to pull back from the branches, and the needles should not break if the tree has been freshly cut. The trunk should be sticky to the touch. Old trees can be identified by bouncing the tree trunk on the ground. If many needles fall off, the tree has been cut too long and, has probably dried out, and is a fire hazard.
Caring for Your Tree
Do not place your tree close to a heat source, including a fireplace or heat vent. The heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be more easily ignited by heat, flame or sparks. Be careful not to drop or flick cigarette ashes near a tree. Do not put your live tree up too early or leave it up for longer than two weeks. Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times.
Disposing of Your Tree
Never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or wood-burning stove. When the tree becomes dry, discard it promptly. The best way to dispose of your tree is by taking it to a recycling center or having it hauled away by a community pick-up service.
Wednesday, November 09 2011
In less than three minutes, a house fire can become uncontrollable. In 1975, house fires tended to not become uncontrollable until an average of 17 minutes, according to a report by the National Institutes of Standards and Technology.
Despite better smoke alarms, home fires are spreading faster nowadays, studies show, so why are blazes spreading quicker?
Certain home furnishings may be one of the biggest culprits of home fires burning faster, some fire experts say. For example, upholstered furniture contains flammable polyurethane foam, which can potentially increase fire hazards. Also, fire experts note in an AOL Real Estate article, homes nowadays are constructed with more open floor plans and building materials, such as wallboard, that can contribute to faster spreading fires too.
Source: “Hot Stat: Today’s Homes Burn Faster Than Ever,” AOL Real Estate News (Nov. 7, 2011)
Wednesday, January 19 2011
Saturday, September 18 2010
Clogged drains are a common problem that nearly every homeowner will encounter and have to resolve. Because the plumbing pipes are designed only to bring in clean water and eliminate wastewater, poorly maintained plumbing systems can result in clogged drains. There are various substances that can create clogs. These items are not supposed to be put in the drains. In order to prevent clogs, it is important to know what kinds of items make drains clogged in home plumbing systems.
1. The bathtub drains can become clogged with a variety of substances such as hair, soap, and chemical cleaning agents which can accumulate in the drain and build up in the pipes. To prevent build up of debris and matter causing clogs, you can insert strainers in the drain hole and keep them cleaned out. As well, after bathing or showering, make sure that you run the tap water thoroughly in order to make sure all matter has been pushed through the pipes.
2. Kitchen drains can become clogged due to food, grease, and debris being put in the drain. Pour grease into a can and put it with the trash instead of pouring it down the sink. Make sure you have cleaned off all dishes that held food before you rinse and wash them. Once a week, run hot water down the sink drain to keep the pipes clear of debris. You can also add a homemade drain cleaner consisting of vinegar and baking soda down the sink once a week and flush it with hot water to remove accumulation of matter. As well, never use the garbage disposer without running water down the pipes to flush out the food particles and organic debris. Don’t put tough, fibrous foods into the garbage disposal such as chicken bones and celery pieces.
3. Some people will dump harmful products such as hot wax, paint thinner, and motor oil down the sink drain. This will not only contribute to clogs, but it can damage the plumbing system. Never pour these items into your sink drain and use non corrosive drain cleaners.
Slow drains are extremely frustrating, but a clogged drain is even more annoying. If you have something in your drain causing a clog, overtime it will only get worse and cause a more serious problem. By properly maintaining your plumbing system, you can reduce the chances of getting a clogged drain. Annual inspections by a professional plumber will help your plumbing systems stay clear, clean, and working properly.
If you do get a clog, there are items you can use to clear the clog such as sink augers, plungers, plumbing snake, and non corrosive chemical drain cleaners. There are also bacteria-based enzyme cleaners that eat away at a clog without causing damage to the pipes. Remember, for clogs that cannot be removed even after you have tried everything, it is important to contact a plumber who will have the skills and tools to identify the cause of the clog and repair the problem.
Friday, April 23 2010
If you aren’t sure whether your property or business is at risk from disasters caused by natural hazards, check with your local building official, city engineer, or planning and zoning administrator. They can tell you whether you are in an area where hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, wildfires, or tornadoes are likely to occur. Also, they usually can tell you how to protect yourself, your house, business and property from the different hazards.
Select a category below to view any of the resources listed here.
Protect Your Business from All Natural Hazards
Protect Your Property from an Earthquake
- Protect Business Records and Inventory
- Install a Generator for Emergency Power
Protect Your Property from Fire
Protect Your Property from Flooding
- Anchor Large Equipment Properly
- Anchor Tall Bookcases and File Cabinets
- Anchor and Brace Propane Tanks and Gas Cylinders
- Bolt Sill Plates to Foundation
- Brace Cripple Walls
- Install Latches on Drawers and Cabinet Doors
- Mount Framed Pictures and Mirrors Securely
- Restrain Desktop Computers and Appliances
- Use Flexible Connections on Gas and Water Lines
Protect Your Property from High Winds
- Build With Flood Damage Resistant Materials
- Dry Floodproof Your Building
- Add Waterproof Veneer to Exterior Walls
- Raise Electrical System Components
- Anchor Fuel Tanks
- Raise or Floodproof HVAC Equipment
- Install Sewer Backflow Valves
- Protect Wells From Contamination by Flooding
- Maintain EIFS Walls
- Protect Windows and Doors with Covers
- Reinforce Double Entry Doors
- Reinforce or Replace Garage Doors
- Remove Trees and Potential Windborne Missiles
- Secure Metal Siding and Metal Roofs
- Secure Built-Up and Single-Ply Roofs
- Secure Composition Shingle Roofs
- Brace Gable End Roof Framing
Thursday, February 18 2010
The middle of the winter is prime time for carbon monoxide poisoning. Make sure your appliances and heating system are operating safely.
Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that is formed when carbon-based fuels, such as kerosene, gasoline, propane, natural gas, oil, charcoal or wood, are burned with inadequate amounts of oxygen, creating a condition known as incomplete combustion. When incomplete combustion occurs, carbon monoxide is produced, and this can potentially lead to carbon-monoxide poisoning to a family.
The early stages of carbon-monoxide poisoning produce unexplained flu-like symptoms, such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, and mental confusion. Since carbon monoxide displaces the oxygen in the blood, prolonged exposure to carbon monoxide can lead to death by asphyxiation.
According to the Southern California Gas Co., these signs may indicate the presence of carbon monoxide:
- A yellow, large, and unsteady gas appliance burner flame (with the exception of decorative gas log appliances).
- An unusual pungent odor when the appliance is operating. This may indicate the creation of aldehydes, a by-product of incomplete combustion.
- Unexplained nausea, drowsiness and flu-like symptoms.
What to do if someone suspects carbon monoxide is present in their home:
- If safe to do so, immediately turn off the suspected gas appliance.
- Evacuate the premises and call 911.
- Seek medical attention if anyone in the home experiences possible carbon-monoxide poisoning symptoms.
- Contact The Gas Company or a licensed, qualified professional immediately to have the appliance inspected.
- Don’t use the suspected gas appliance until it has been inspected, serviced and determined to be safe by The Gas Company or a licensed, qualified professional.
How to maintain and use gas appliances safely and efficiently:
- Clean inside the burner compartment of built-in, vented wall furnaces once a month during the heating season to prevent lint build-up.
- Inspect and replace furnace filters on forced-air units or central heating systems according to manufacturer instructions.
- When installing a new or cleaned filter, be sure to re-install the front panel door of the furnace properly so it fits snugly. Never operate the furnace without the front panel door properly in place.
- Never store anything near a gas appliance that might interfere with normal appliance airflow.
- Assure that appliance venting is intact and unblocked.
- In higher-altitude areas, where snow can accumulate on rooftops, ensure that gas appliance intake and exhaust vents are clear of obstructions.
- Never use gas ovens, ranges or outside barbeques for space heating.
Carbon-monoxide alarms may provide an extra measure of safety, but they also require routine maintenance such as battery replacement and the unit itself must be replaced periodically per manufacturer’s instructions. Even with alarms in place, regular gas appliance maintenance still is required.
Inspection and routine maintenance are still the best defense against accidental carbon-monoxide poisoning from natural gas appliances.
Source: Southern California Gas Co. http://www.houselogic.com/news/articles/safety-tips-prevent-carbon-monoxide-poisoning/