November 2010 Edition

It’s That Time Of Year Again!

Daylight Savings Time ends on November 7th. This is a great time to check all of the important safety items around your house and take care of the maintenance. 
I know the 9V batteries in smoke detectors will last years, but go ahead and replace them anyway. It is a small price to pay for your family’s safety. Some detectors have an access door on front that can be opened to expose the battery. Other units might need to be unscrewed or are hinged to access the battery. If you can’t figure out how to open yours, Google the manufacturer and model number. Most websites will help out. If your detectors are over ten years old, go ahead and replace them. They can lose their sensitivity over time.  Be sure to test the detectors after replacing the batteries.
Smoke Detector 
If you have gas heat, you should have a carbon monoxide detector. Older furnaces can develop cracks in the heat exchanger that can allow CO from the flames to leak into the supply air and be distributed throughout the house. Since CO is odorless, you cannot detect it. I recommend a unit that can be plugged into an electrical outlet and has a screen to display the CO level.
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Have you checked your fire extinguisher lately? I checked mine last summer and found it was down into the “recharge” zone. I immediately purchased a new one to replace it.
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A fire extinguisher is one of the most important safety devices you have in your home. It can mean the difference between minor damage or major damage in case of a fire. I recommend purchasing the largest one you can handle. It is always better to have too much, rather than too little. Install one in the garage, kitchen and on each level of your house.
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Since we are talking about fire protection, do you have an escape plan in case of a fire? What will happen if you’re upstairs and a fire downstairs blocks the stair? Do you have a plan? First, I would have a fire extinguisher available upstairs that I can grab, if the fire is small. Otherwise, what will you do? Next, it is good to have a rope ladder in one of the closets that can be hooked onto a window sill. This will allow your family to escape to safety. It is a good idea to read the instructions to familiarize yourself with the operation before an emergency happens.
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Test all of your ground fault circuit interrupters. These may be either electrical outlets or panel breakers. GFCIs protect you in case of an electrical short. The device can detect an electrical short and trip an internal switch in a 40th of a second. It is very common for these to burn out. The only way to know is to test them. Push the test button and the GFCI should trip. Then you push the reset button to turn the power back on.
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Newer homes may have arc fault circuit interrupters located in the electrical panel box. The AFCI breakers are now required to protect some of the electrical circuits from starting fires due to the electrical cords of lamps, radios and alarm clocks from wearing through the insulation, arcing and starting fires. If there is an arc or spark, the breaker will trip. To test AFCIs, press the button on the breaker, and the breaker should trip. Then you must reset them to turn the power back on.
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Water heaters are one of the items we rarely think about, unless you run out of hot water. There is great debate on whether to drain the water out of the tank to remove the rust deposits. I recommend you do what you think is best. All water heaters have thermostats to set the temperature of the water. Be sure the temperature is not set above 120 degrees, to prevent scalding small children. If the thermostat goes bad, the temperature of the water can reach 210 degrees, or the pressure inside the tank may increase to 150 psi, creating a potential for the heater to explode. The safety device installed to prevent this is called a temperature and pressure relief valve.  The valve should be tested yearly by lifting the lever on top of the valve and listening for water escaping through the pipe. After testing the valve, drain the water out of the pipe if the pipe turns up. Replace the valve if it is frozen and does not allow the flow of water.
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Do you use your fireplace for burning wood? If so, you may need to clean the chimney flue to remove the deposits of creosote that can create chimney fires. There isn’t a simple rule of thumb on how often to clean your chimney, such as cleaning after 50 uses or one year. The problem is, creosote can form when wood is burned incompletely. You can reduce creosote buildup in your fireplace by providing adequate combustion air, which will encourage a hot, clean-burning fire. To check for creosote yourself, take a strong flashlight and your fireplace poker and scratch the black surface inside the flue above the damper. If the groove you scratch in the creosote is paper thin, no cleaning is needed. If it’s 1/8 inch thick, schedule a cleaning soon. If you have 1/4 inch of creosote, do not use the fireplace again until it is cleaned - a chimney fire could occur at any time.
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We recommend replacing washing machine water hoses every five years. The rubber hoses that connect the washing machine to the water supply can break and flood your home. Purchase the ones with metal braided covers for additional support. Also, turn off the water supplies when going on a vacation or out of town. The hoses could break while you are gone.
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If you have a question, change of address, comment, home tip or would like to send Home Tips to your clients, send your letter to Home Tips, Christian Building Inspectors, Inc., 3697 Habersham Lane, Duluth, Georgia 30096. You can E-Mail your questions to us at rodharrison@christianbuildinginspectors.com. We reserve the right to edit questions for length. 


Quote Of The Month 

"Whether you think you can or think you can’t –

you are right.”

Henry Ford 


A Tip Of The Hat To:

Doug Baker

Keller Williams Realty

2170 Satellite Boulevard, Ste 195

Duluth, Georgia 30097

**** Thank You****