In this month’s blog, we are going to highlight a few of the ways that you can ensure that your front door is a safe and secure one. While some of them may seem obvious, perhaps there are others that you may not have thought of.
The first and, possibly the most obvious security feature, is the doors lock. The door should be fitted with a good quality deadbolt. Some homeowners like to use a chain for added security, which is a good idea but only when used along with the deadbolt. Another good idea is to install a bump-resistant lock as bump keys are popular with would-be intruders. As an additional security measure, you could also have a peephole fitted so that you will be able to check who is at your door before you open it.
The construction of the door itself is very important when it comes to how secure it is. The door should be constructed with solid materials and have a steel or solid wood core. Regular maintenance of the door is also very important and should not exhibit signs of deterioration such as rotting, cracking, or warping.
Glass panels, while an attractive feature, can be a security risk. If at all possible, the locks position should be as far away from glass paneling as possible. This is so that if the glass is smashed, the lock would be difficult to reach. Mail slots are also fitted in some doors. To prevent someone from accessing the inside lock there should be a box or cage on the inside which surrounds the mail slot.
After reading this blog, perhaps you have thought about some improvements you can make to the security of your front door.
Lighting is a major factor in a home’s design and can make all the difference when creating a warm and inviting living space. Although electrical lighting can be used to make a dark space brighter, natural lighting a much more appealing option. But, what if a room's design does not allow for traditional windows, what other natural lighting choices are available? Let’s look at a few of them:
One of the more common alternatives to adding natural light into a dark space is skylights. Skylight windows a very effective at adding a maximum amount of natural light into a room. If you do decide that you want to install skylights in your home, make sure they are double-paned windows and check that the flashing is done correctly, otherwise, you may run into problems.
Clerestory windows are another good natural light option as they are short and wide in design and are usually installed high on a wall. The positioning and shape of the window allow a good amount of natural light but, because of the roof overhang, it does not allow excessive heat into the room during the summer months. Because the sun is in a lower position in the winter, however, it does help to heat the room in the colder months.
Yet another way of adding natural light into a dark space is with light tubes. As the name may suggest, these are tubes covered in a highly reflective material. A lens is also fitted to the tube which can minimize the intensity of the midday sun but also enhance low-level light. A light diffuser helps to distribute natural light evenly through the room.
These alternatives to traditional windows can help to make your home an inviting space to live in.
Everyone desires a comfortable home that is also energy efficient, but many may wonder how easy it is to achieve, especially with an older property. One, surprisingly easy way, is by sealing and insulating gaps and holes throughout the home. This is a job that can be done by the majority of homeowners so you can save even more by doing it yourself. Here are a few areas throughout the home that may benefit from sealing or insulating:
Perhaps one of the first areas to check is the attic space as this is where you will notice air escaping the most. Gaps and holes are likely to be found where the attic meets with the floor, under attic knee walls, and in dropped ceiling areas. If you find any holes, close them up. What about gaps or holes that are particularly small, how can you find out where they are? One clue would be patches of insulation that appear darker than the rest which is an indication that air is escaping. Another place that will benefit from foam board insulation or weatherstripping, is the attics access panel.
What other areas of the home might you notice air leaking? Some areas you will want to check are wall-mounted or window air conditioning units, window frames, doors, electrical outlets or receptacles, baseboards, and piping.
While this is just a small list of the areas in a home that will benefit from sealing and insulation, doing so will go a long way in helping your home feel more comfortable. They will also help to improve indoor air quality and save you money on cooling and heating costs.
Searching for a home to buy can be a very stressful experience, especially if this is your first time buying property. Perhaps you’ve come across properties listed “as is” and are wondering whether they are a wise option or not. So, why are homes listed “as is” and are they a good investment?
There are various reasons why a homeowner might put their home for sale in “as is” condition. For example, it could be that they don’t want the hassle of fixing it up before putting it on the market, or they may not want to be held responsible for the condition it's in after the sale. But does this mean that it’s going to be a bad investment? Not necessarily.
A lot will depend on the person buying the home. If it is in their ideal location and the price is within their budget, then it may be a wise choice. However, there are some very important steps you should take before making the final decision. First, you will need to find out the true condition of the home. A simple walk through of the property will not tell you everything about it and, while many areas require the homeowner to provide a written disclosure stating its condition, very often key information is omitted.
The best way to ensure you know all you can about the home is to have a thorough home inspection performed on it. The home inspection will find any areas of serious concern that may affect your decision to buy the property and will also give you a good idea of how much money will need to be spent to get it to your standard.
Having a basic knowledge of your home and the way it functions is beneficial for a homeowner. And while you don’t have to become an expert in construction, observing areas that are falling into disrepair will help you to know when to call in a professional. With this thought in mind, we are going to talk about the chimney and what signs you can look out for that show it is in need of repair.
The first thing to think about when determining if your chimney needs repairing is whether anything has happened that would cause damage. For example, has something fallen on it such as a tree limb or scaffolding? Have you experienced any natural disasters like a tornado or a bad storm? Even a small earth tremor can do some damage. The weather is another factor that, over time, can begin to cause erosion to materials like mortar and brick.
It is also important to perform a visual check of the chimney to determine its condition. One simple way to do this is to stand a short distance from your home so that you can see the chimney from ground to roof. Does the chimney look like it might be starting to separate from the rest of the building? Does it seem to be leaning or listing at all? Next, have a look at the chimney’s footings, are there any signs of deterioration? Do a quick test of the mortar by using a screwdriver to scrape some of it, if you notice it crumbling away easily, this is a sign that maintenance is needed.
As you can see the majority of homeowners can perform a few simple checks to see if areas of their chimneys need repair work. It's important to note, however, that while these checks are good at determining the condition of outer areas of the chimney, there are other areas that will need professional attention.
When trees are positioned very close to a building there is a risk that they will do some damage to it, but what type of damage could you see? Here are a few of the problems often associated with trees situated too close to a house:
Many homeowners worry that tree roots will damage the home's foundations. This can happen when roots make their way into cracks that have already formed in the foundations. If a trees roots become big enough, they might also grow under the foundations and cause them to lift.
What about above ground? If leaves and small branches start to pile up and block gutters they can create problems with water intrusion, if not cleared quickly enough. Trees can also be problematic in that falling branches or tree limbs can fall and damage a roof or power and communication lines. A person could even be at risk of injury. The risk of these things happening is even greater if the tree is old or in bad shape.
A tree that is close to a building also gives rodents and insects a greater opportunity to access it which means you could see an increased pest issue. Fire can also spread more rapidly from one area of the home to another with the aid of a close tree.
These are just a few of the problems that a closely situated tree can create.
Sadly, we are in a time when all are vulnerable but most especially the elderly. While there are many practical things we can do to help them, it might be a good time to think about how safe the homes of our elderly neighbors and loved ones are and, if possible, what we can do to help prevent accidents taking place within the home. Here are a few areas that may need consideration:
It would be a good idea, if you are able, to check through the home looking at the areas where someone is most likely to slip and fall. The bathroom is probably where an elderly person is most at risk so check whether it is equipped with sufficient anti-slip mats and grab bars, including inside the tub or shower.
Corded electrical appliances can be a huge tripping and fire hazard. Check to make sure there are no electrical cords stretching across high traffic areas of the home or covered over with rugs. If they are, reposition them to be fixed against a wall. It may be better to rearrange some furniture so that electrical appliances are positioned closer to electrical outlets.
If the home has stairs, this is another high-risk area for slips and falls. Ideally, handrails should be fitted to both sides of the staircase to provide extra support. Make sure they are sturdy and do not wobble. You will also want to check that all rugs have a good rubber backing and carpets are not becoming loose.
Being vigilant with a view to safety will help our older ones to stay safe while at home.
Is there a grinder pump installed in your new home? It's important to get to know how a grinder pump works, especially if your previous home did not have one, as this will help you understand the dos and don’ts of using one.
First of all, we should address the question of what is a grinder pump? This is a machine designed to manage household waste which it does by grinding up waste into a slurry and then pumping it through to the sewer system. A grinder pump is generally needed if the home drainage system is either below or at the same level as the public sewer line or septic tank. This means that sewage is unable to flow quickly enough through the system by itself.
Taking care of the grinder pump is important and there are some items that should never be placed down a toilet or drain. Diapers, feminine hygiene products of any kind, aquarium gravel, cat litter, plastic, toxic or caustic chemicals, and grease, which will build up in the tank, are among the items that should not be flushed.
There are some other important reminders when it comes to maintaining a grinder pump. For example, if you are going to be away, it is a good idea to run the water long enough so that you activate the grinder pump leaving only clean water in the tank, this will prevent unpleasant odors. If there is a power outage, try to limit the amount of water you use as the pump requires electricity to operate. No power will also cause the tank to become too full. Do not connect a grinder pump to a sump pump. This will overwork the pump and cost you more money in electricity.
As we can clearly see, if your home needs a grinder-pump, getting to know the dos and don’ts of using it will help prevent any unpleasant issues.
Toilets get a lot of use, in fact, a person will on average flush the toilet around 2500 times a year. Naturally, that amount is multiplied in large households. It comes as no surprise, then, that your home's toilets will require attention from time to time. As home inspectors, we perform a lot of checks to make sure the toilet is working properly but, how can you the homeowner know if a toilet is functioning correctly?
When you flush the toilet, take note of how long it takes the tank to fill back up. If it seems to be really slow, this could be a sign that the toilet is in need of maintenance. The same can be said if the toilet takes an abnormally long time to flush.
The toilet bowl is another area that can become damaged. From time to time give it a thorough check to make sure there are no chips or cracks forming in the porcelain. If a home inspector finds damage like this in a toilet bowl, it is listed as faulty.
Constant running water is another common issue with toilets that often go unnoticed. Over time, however, this can become a problem that not only wastes a lot of water but also wastes a lot of money. Plus, if your home has a private well, it could be damaging the pump.
From this brief look at toilet maintenance, we can clearly see how important it is to fix any apparently minor issues as this can lead to greater, more costly problems down the line.
Electricity has become something we all depend on very heavily so, if the power goes out for any reason, we can easily find ourselves in utter chaos. For those who depend on a constant flow of electricity to their homes for health reasons, however, a power outage can become a serious concern. To prevent a complete lack of power to the home, many people opt to purchase a portable generator. These can be very useful machines to own as they do not require a special permit to own or operate and can be transported easily, making them also ideal for camping, etc.
Proper safety measures should be taken when using a portable generator as they can be dangerous if not used the way they are intended. An example of this is being careful not to overload the generator which can happen easily during a power outage if you are trying to keep all appliances running as normal. Make sure you only use it for appliances that are necessary for the basic running of the home. Its also important to note, especially if someone relies on electricity for health reasons, that portable generators are meant only for corded appliances and not for those that are hard-wired to the home.
Never keep a portable generator running inside the house as they produce carbon monoxide which can be extremely dangerous. While the generator is running it will become hot so care should be taken when working around it and most especially when putting gasoline into it.
We can clearly see the benefits of owning a portable generator but, its also important to be aware of the dangers associated with operating one.
Devereaux Van Dyne, Certified Professional Home Inspector