December 8th, 2010
It’s been a beautiful fall, but winter and the holiday season arrived in tandem on Thanksgiving Day, and actual snow flurries on Monday!
Ahhhh, Yes. Winter/Holidays-the season of so much to do, so little time….well, a very little bit of planning now in your home can save you loads of time, money and heartache down the line.
Charles Brown, a State Farm property and casualty agent in New Rochelle has seen first-hand the damage winter weather can cause. Helping prevent loss is his goal; here are some of his favorite tips on trouble-proofing your home this season.
Ice Dams form in your gutters when under-insulated attics let warm air up from the living space below. Warmer attic temps melt roof snow fast, and when the melted snow hits the colder eves, it re-freezes.
A few days of this builds up an ice sheet that traps other melting snow below, and with nowhere to go, it pushes water thru the roof covering into the house.
Same under-insulated attic, but now air coming into the attic is both warm and moist-cold temps condense the water vapor and can cause rot in the wood framework.
Remedy: Right now-before ‘real weather’ hits-clean out gutters/downspouts and install gutter screens. Also-insulate the attic, and insure there is good ventilation to keep interior and exterior temps closer.
Freezing water pipes that burst ruin about a quarter-million homes a year, and it can happen to both PVC and copper piping. A one-eighth inch crack can spray 250 gallons of water… a day.
Before the temps nose-dive, insulate the exposed pipes in your attic, crawlspace and garages. The more insulation, the better. Seal any leaks around pipes or wiring that could let cold air in, and turn off the outside water from the interior shut off valve.
Inside, keep temps at 55 degrees or higher. Open cabinet doors that conceal pipes to let warmer air circulate around them, and let both cold and warm water trickle out of one faucet. Going out of town? Even if it’s one night, arrange for someone to come over and check.
If you turn on a faucet and nothing comes out, your pipes may have frozen. Keep faucets on, turn main water valve in house off and call a plumber. NEVER try to thaw out a pipe with any type of flame. Warm air from a hair drier may help-start close to the faucet and work towards the frozen section.
Unless you are uber-handy, consider licensed professionals to do these jobs easily, correctly, and safely.
Click here for more tips on how to keep you and your family safe this holday season. Just like anything else preventative, it’s best to know about these things before you have to.
October 24th, 2010
It has been a glorious start to fall…leaves in brilliant reds, oranges and golds. set against bright, clear blue skies. Days are comfortable, but nighttime is getting chilly, so we close the windows, maybe turn on the heat or if we are so fortunate, light a fire in the fireplace.
Two weeks from today Daylight Savings time will end, and in about 10 days the reminders are going to start-change the batteries in you smoke and CO detectors, I suggest not waiting.
Smoke detector laws in New York State have been on the book for some time, but CO detectors became law earlier this year.
CO-carbon monoxide-is produces when any flamable material does not burn completely-this is any type of flammable material: oil, coal, wood, natural gas; even kerosene, propane, charcoal and gasoline.
Colorless and mostly odorless, symptoms include disorientation, and often mimic those of the flu, and the more severe the exposure, the less likely someone is to be aware of their condition, or able to seek help.
Children, pregnant women and the elderly are at the highest risk. Most recent complete data shows there were 42,000 fire and rescue responses to CO poisoning in 2007.
No one is in more homes than real estate professionals, and no one better poised to help carry this message-dare I suggest year-round. We all have AA and AAA batteries on hand (heaven forbid the remotes don’t work!!) so I have started to keep a supply of fresh 9volt batteries in my car, to leave them with each new client consult, and include new detectors as part of my Staging and Decorating proposals.
Perhaps a new CO detector would make a great closing gift?
Local community laws vary and will trump state requirements-where I live in White Plains, part of getting ANY building permit closed is the installation of hard-wired detectors in the appropriate place. Office managers-how about scheduling an official from the local building department to speak of this at your next office meeting?
We all ‘know’ what fire can do, but seeing it first-hand is something else. Last year I was witness to 2 separate fire restorations. One, very close to home, in my own co-op complex; the other was a project I was called into. The former was a roof repair gone horribly wrong, the latter an electrical fire.
Photo on left is entry into apartment, hole in wall is where electric panel was; on right is in bedroom, looking up into bedroom of upstairs apartment.
If you look carefully, above 2nd beam on the left, you may be able to see outlet cover is melted, and soot stains coming out of it
March 18th, 2010
Water, Water Everywhere…Don’t Let It Lead To Mold
As I am writing this, several local schools have just opened for the first time this week, power is still out for almost 9,000 Westchester residents, and so far over 300 TONS of tree debris has been removed from Scarsdale streets alone, (with an estimated 600-700 MORE tons still to be removed)…wow!
Many of us found ourselves reminded of the power of the elements in a most abrupt and unpleasant way. While the damage of last weeks’ storm can’t be undone, mitigation, and preventative action for the future are center stage for most of us now.
If you were unfortunate enough to have water infiltrate your home, of course extracting it is of the first order. But just because a surface is dry does not automatically mean all is well. Mold is not just unsightly, it destroys property, can sicken, and even kill you.
Mold is tricky; it only needs 2 things to grow: water and cellulosic material (paper, wood) and contrary to some claims, one-size-fits-all solutions like washing with bleach, or using a mildew-resistant primer will not do the trick. Of the over 100K species of mold, roughly 10K of them are known to exist here in the northeast, and it is virtually impossible to know how harmful it might be just by looking at it.
According to Frank Petrullo,owner and President of Envirocare Air Quality Restoration in Jefferson Valley NY, after water extraction there are 4 steps to genuinely assure mold will be kept at bay: Containment, to prevent airborne spores from migrating to other parts of the house; Dehumidification; Treatment with targeted mold-retardant products and/or systems, and lastly Implementing recommended corrective actions.
And even if your home escaped the storm unscathed, you may be surprised to know how ripe conditions are for mold to grow under everyday circumstances…are you sitting down?
In a year, the average 2000 sf home can produce/develop enough moisture to fill 2 Olympic-sized swimming pools. Yes. As Joel Schachter PE, professional engineer and owner of Precise Home Inspections explains- a number of factors like cooking, showers/baths, and weather and overall ventilation combine and can play real havoc with a home, even one that appears to be in good repair.
More on preventitives at another time, but meanwhile wishing a speedy rebound to all those affected by the storm