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Like a house on fire…

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A while back, the Today Show ran a story about how modern homes and furnishings burn faster than those of 30 years ago. According to their report, that means less time to escape a burning home!
If you’d like to read up on this, click here to learn more.

Remember to keep your smoke detectors in good working order, and make sure there is one in every bedroom. Stay safe!

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Cool tips to stay warm

The best way to keep your house toasty in the winter is to make sure that your weatherstripping for your doors and windows are in good shape, and your heating unit is in good working order. But sometimes, that’s not enough. Here are some easy tips for staying warm this winter:

Before you reach for the thermostat, reach for a sweater instead! Or what about that Snuggie your great-aunt gave you last Christmas? Adding clothing indoors is the easiest (and cheapest!) way to feel cozy. Don’t forget about a good pair of house shoes, too! Your energy bills will thank you.
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Close off the vents in unused rooms and shut the door. No need to be heating the guest bedroom or game room when they’re not in use.
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On sunny days, open up the curtains on the windows that receive direct sunlight. Just remember to close them again when the sun goes down to hold the heat in.
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Reverse your ceiling fans so they rotate clockwise. There’s usually a switch on the fan that will reverse the motor. Since warm air rises, this will help push the warm air at the ceiling back down into the living space.
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Switch your regular bed sheets with flannel or jersey knit sheets. These are warmer to the touch, so your bed won’t feel chilly when you get in. Speaking of which, remember in old cartoons, they would show people sleeping in night caps like this?:
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It’s actually a really good idea! OK, maybe not an actual old-timey night cap, but a stocking hat works great!

Area rugs are your friend when it comes to keeping your house warm. The more surface area you can cover on your floor, the better insulated it is.
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And lastly, if possible, move your furniture toward the middle of the room and away from windows.
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If all else fails, just remember those blistering days of summer and know they’ll be back again before you know it!
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I don’t mean to be an alarmist, but…

Recently there was a news story about a Colleyville woman whose front-loading washing machine EXPLODED! Yup. Seriously. One minute it’s happily chugging along, then the next minute–BOOM; the machine looks like it’s been turned inside-out:

According to Whirlpool, it isn’t being reported to the Consumer Product Safety Commission because it’s not part of a pattern. Well, after a quick Google search, I see that the UK has had a rash of similar incidents with front-loading washers:
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PICTURE MIKE SEWELL. Pictured is Sarah Blackshaw from Braunstone with her two year-old son, Harry. Sarah's  washing machine exploded throwing everything off the counter, shifting the cabinets either side and giving Harry a black eye when the soap drawer hit him in the face. (Pete Squires) sarah blackshaw  07932 548800

PICTURE MIKE SEWELL. Pictured is Sarah Blackshaw from Braunstone with her two year-old son, Harry. Sarah’s washing machine exploded throwing everything off the counter, shifting the cabinets either side and giving Harry a black eye when the soap drawer hit him in the face.
(Pete Squires)
sarah blackshaw 07932 548800

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Now granted, these are not all the same brand; some of them are brands that are not even sold in the US. But it still gives you pause to think “WHAT THE HECK?!”

And you thought the worst problem with front-loading washers was the mildew smell that sometimes develops in them. I’ll stick to my cheapo top-loader, thank you.
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Get your house ready for winter…..now

Author: Kent Keith | Find Us on Google+

As a professional home inspector, I see so many homes with problems that could have been avoided with simple home maintenance. Not sure what to look for when determining what items need attention? Why not consider hiring a home inspector to evaluate your home for necessary maintenance tasks? What better person to know what to look for and care for a home that a home inspector? If you can perform your own maintenance, here is a list of fall maintenance items I hope you will find helpful.

Early fall is the best time to start getting your house ready for the cold winter season. Most people don’t get into the winterizing “mode” until the first cold snap, but he reason early fall is better than late fall is because it is just easier to perform some of the different tasks when the temperatures are warmer. Roofing shingles are more pliable and easier to work with, caulk is applied easier when warm and it’s just nicer to work outside when a cold north wind isn’t blowing on your face!

Here is a good checklist for fall maintenance items

1. Clean those gutters

If your house has gutters, be sure to keep them debris free and if you have large trees over the house, you may have to clean them more that once before they lose all their leaves. Many people think, “I’ll just wait until all the leaves fall, then I’ll clean the gutters”. The problem with this is that it does not take many leaves to stop up the drain spouts and if a hard rain comes, water could overflow the gutters and cause water damage to the roof edges and get under the roof’s flashing.

2. Inspect your roof and repair shingles

Perform necessary repairs to cracked and torn shingles. Use roofing cement to seal in areas that you feel may cause leaks and to secure shingles that you may feel will blow off in high winds. Also make sure tree limbs are not touching or rubbing on the roof. Trim any tree branch that may rub on the roof surface. During my routine home inspections, I have seen several roofs that will require expensive repairs simply because tree limbs were rubbing on the roof surface.

3. Cut back shrubs

Shrubs rubbing against the house can invite insects and rodents to enter the house and can cause siding damage when the branches rub on the house in winds.

4. Caulk Windows

By the time the fall rolls around, more that likely your windows probably have cracked caulking around them. Sealing around your windows on the inside as well as the outside of the house can really cut back the amount of cold air that enters your home and warm air that escapes. You may think that these cracks look so small and insignificant, but when you consider all the cracks around all the windows, that could be a lot cold air coming in! Especially pay attention to those north windows.

Here is a tip if you have those older single pane windows with no storm windows installed.

Take some thick clear plastic and cut it to the size of the window frame. Attach it to the inside of the window around the frame and it should create an air space between the glass and the plastic. This will really help insulate the window and keep the room warmer. I have seen people put the plastic directly on the glass, but that will not create the air space. It’s the air space that insulates the window.

5. Clean the fireplace and flue

If your home has a fireplace, make sure it’s clean and clear of creosote buildup before a heavy season of fireplace use. What is creosote? It’s a black flaky substance that builds up in the flue and the opening of the flue. This substance can become flammable in high temperatures, so keep it clean! Also keep in mind that poorly drafted fireplaces can cause carbon monoxide to enter the living space, so always have CO detectors installed in the home when fireplaces are present as well as gas appliances.

6. Winterize external plumbing pipes ad fixtures

Don’t wait until the first freeze comes to rush out and do this. Calling a plumber to come out and repair a freeze busted pipe is expensive, not to mention the damage that this can cause. Wrap exposed pipes on the outside of the house and the garage with pipe wrap and install covers on the hose spigots. These are easily removed and reinstalled if you need to use the hose in the meantime.

7. Store outdoor furniture

Most outdoor furniture is made of some sort of plastic material that can crack and break in cold temperatures. If you can’t store it in a protected area, at least wrap the furniture in a thick protective covering.

I hope you find this information useful and again, the best way to get a complete analysis of your home’s condition before the cold weather sets in is to get a professional maintenance home inspection. Call or email me if I can answer any question you may have.

Fort Worth Home Inspector

Dallas Home Inspector