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Protect Yourself When Composting

In our last article, we saw that while composting can be a very good thing to do, caution must be taken at the same time to avoid the health-related hazards that can come with it. There are many precautions we can take to ensure that we stay safe when it comes to composting.

Always protect yourself by wearing suitable clothing. Good protective footwear is essential if you want to keep yourself protected. You want to avoid coming in contact with the compost as much as possible. Never keep this footwear on when entering the home.

As someone who handles compost regularly knows, that tilling is something that must be done regularly in order to help the compost break down. It’s important that you avoid the possibility of inhaling spores, so make sure to wear a breathing mask when tilling. Its also not a good idea to do this when its windy out.

Did you know that compost can be quite combustible if stored wrongly? Store your compost in a container that allows for decent air-flow.

Washing your hands after handling compost is one of the most important things to do to stay healthy. This is often overlooked though, especially if you move on to doing something else in the garden.

These are just a few of the simple ways to protect yourself while doing something you love.

Compost’s hidden dangers

We all know composting to be a very good thing. It is one of the ways we can be responsible for the environment. Composting can also be beneficial for the soil. What then, are the negatives if any to composting? Lets consider a few things we need to keep in mind with regard to composting.

Unfortunately, there are a number of ailments associated with composting. When we think of what composting actually is, we can understand why. It is full of decaying food and plants, and with that comes certain dangerous pathogens.

What are some of these dangerous pathogens?

There are a number of fungal diseases that can be caused by compost. Farmers lung is one, this can display symptoms like that of pneumonia. It is caused by being exposed to certain fungal and bacterial pathogens. Another is Aspergillosis, this can also be caused by inhaling spores from rotting plants. Histoplasmosis, is again caused by a fungus, this time though, it comes from bat and bird feces.

Other diseases caused from exposure to rotting compost are Tetanus, Legionnaires Disease and Paronychia, an infection around the finger and toenails.

As you can see, while we are doing our part to protect the environment, we also want to be aware that there are dangers. In our next article, we will discuss ways to keep safe while composting.

Protect Your Home From Burglars

We all need to protect our homes from burglars, especially this time of year, when a lot of people go on vacation, so how about a few tips and pointers on how to do so.

Did you know?

What if you’re going to be away?

Try to make it look like someone’s home. Timer activated lights, TV or radio are a good idea. Make sure the yard is kept neat while you are away, also try keeping a car in the driveway.

Aluminum Wiring

If you are thinking of buying an older home, you might want to consider that it could possibly be wired with aluminum wiring. Is this something you should be concerned about?

Here are a few factors to consider;

As you can see from this very brief overview, aluminum wiring can be quite dangerous especially as it poses a much greater fire risk than copper wiring

Please contact us for more information and also advice on what to do if you have aluminum wiring is in your home.

Do You Have A Retirement Plan For Your Home?

If you are approaching retirement, it’s a good idea to start putting a plan together for when you may not be quite as active as you are now.   We know this is not an enjoyable prospect, and isn’t something to worry about too much, but planning ahead for a time like this is a sensible option.  What kind of things should you plan for?

Of course, living a lifestyle that is as healthy and active as possible is vital to feeling young, but we have some additional suggestions for you to keep in mind when planning for retirement. 

Discussing your future plans with family members is a crucial step.  If they are aware of your desires and plans, then should the need arise for them to make decisions for you, they will know exactly what you want.  Something that might be good for them to know is if you intend to keep living in the house you are in now or whether you would be happy to move to a home that is easier for your needs

This might be an appropriate time to think about having a separate savings account for future home maintenance.  We know all too well how much maintenance a house needs.  Go through your finances and retirement plans and make sure they are all in order.

How does your budget now?  Might this be the correct time to start some of the homes larger projects that you have been thinking need doing?   Have you been considering renovating certain areas of the home?  Now would also be a good time to have the home inspected to see if there are any areas, like the roof or heating system, that may well need replacing or fixing in the future.  By preparing for this ahead of time, you will avoid any unwelcome surprise expenses at a time when it may be harder for you to do something about it.

Please feel free to contact us if you would like to schedule an inspection, or have questions.  We will be happy to help you.

Safety With Asbestos

Do you and your family live in an older style house? If you do, there is the possibility that you still have asbestos in parts of your house, such as the walls, window trim, etc. How can you protect yourself and your family from it? Also, what can you do to get rid of it? While we are not asbestos specialists by any means, here are some general suggestions given by many organizations.

The easiest way to fix your problem if you do have asbestos in your house is to do nothing at all with it as long as it’s not creating problems for your household. The cost it would take in order to remove and replace every piece of material that has asbestos in it would just be too big of a cost. However, if the asbestos in your house is causing you trouble, then the next phase in your process of removing it would be to call a professional to come take samples of the materials that may have asbestos in them. There is no real way to look at a piece of wood and tell if there is asbestos or not in it.

Also, if you plan to have the asbestos removed, even in a minor way, call a professional who knows what he is doing. If you do it and a problem arises when one hadn’t before you had started to remove the asbestos, then serious consequences could result from a lack of waiting for the professional to come and check everything out. Keeping these things in mind will help you to remember how to be safe in either contemplating or repairing the asbestos-related problems in your home.

What is Defensible Space?

What really is defensible space? Well, it can be defined as an area, or zone, around your house that will better protect you from naturally occurring fires, falling trees, or things that could potentially damage your house. The easiest way to think of this would be to split the area into 3 zones.

Zone 1 would be an immediate 15 feet in any direction from the outside of your house, having no flammable plants or even firewood, which should be located a reasonable distance away. Zone 2 would be an extension from zone 1, a total of 75 to 125 feet from the house.

Keeping flammable debris like dead leaves, branches, or pine needles must be kept in check. If there are trees or shrubs, it may be good to have them spread out, so as to slow a fire down in case one did occur. Zone 3 would extend beyond zone 2 and to the property limit.

More vegetation can be left in this area, but should still be kept in check. Maintaining your zones around your house can help to keep your house and family safe in the long run.

What To Know Before Installing a Ceiling Fan

Most homes here have air conditioning to provide a comfortable temperature when it’s so hot outside (or so cold this time of year), but you may decide that a ceiling fan is an adequate solution to have proper airflow and a comfortable living environment, especially when the temperature cools a little. Before adding this attractive and helpful addition to a home, here are some tips for installation.

If you are installing a ceiling fan for your home, only use a residential one, which typically has 4 or more blades. Generally, a ceiling fan should be 8 or 9 feet from floor to ceiling, and no part of the fan should be less than 7 feet away from the floor. These measurements add various advantages. One advantage is that ensuring proper clearance avoids accidental contact with the fan. Also, when the fan has the right distance from the floor, the downward air movement is maximized and the air flow is right where you want it. What if your ceiling is much higher than the average home? Simply drop the fan to the desired height, which can easily be done by an experienced installer.

These details may seem like a lot to remember but if are willing to take the time to install a ceiling fan correctly and safely, you can enjoy the benefits of this simple solution to an air flow problem.

Low-E Windows

If you have considered installing new windows in your home you may have come across one type of window that is on the market called “low-E windows”. A first look at these windows may seem like buying or installing them is a “no-brainer”, but the advantages aren’t the only thing to consider while looking at low-E windows.

The term ‘low-E’ comes from the type of glass used in the windows which is low-emissivity glass. This type of window uses an almost invisible metal added to the pane, and the energy savings achieved can be up to 50% when compared to that of the average window. Sounds great right? Certainly an attractive aspect to new windows, but what are the disadvantages to these windows?

Low-E glass works very well, but sometimes the effectiveness of the glass reflecting the rays from the sun actually has been reported to be a hazard in some instances. Due to the reflection of the sun from these windows, the heat emitting from them can become so intense that it can burn or damage a neighboring house or structure that is up to 20 feet away. Vinyl siding has been reported to melt from its heat. Four house fires have been blamed on the reflection of low-E windows. A hotel in Las Vegas reported the reflection from these windows has burned the guests swimming in the nearby pool.

For an inspection of your windows or anything else in your house don’t hesitate to contact us.

Relocate Responsibly

Moving is one of the most stressful things to deal with. There is so much we need to do, and more often than not, even when we think we have planned it well when it comes to moving day we just end up shoving everything we can into boxes or throwing a ton of things in the garbage. At a time like this, being conscious of the environment may well take a back seat. How, then can we prepare to move and at the same time be conscious of the impact we might be having on the environment?

There are a lot of steps we can take long before we relocate. We may find that by putting some of these steps into practice even if we are not moving, our lives can feel a bit more organized.

This is a very obvious statement, but the less we have, the less we will have to move. Periodically go through items you no longer use. This is a good time to decide what to do with them because you have the time to think carefully about it. On a stressful moving day, items like this might just end up in the trash.

Try to recycle your unwanted items. Organize things you no longer need into piles for recycling or even a yard sale. By doing this far ahead of time, you will minimize the stress later on.

Dispose of potential hazards in a responsible way, for example, chemicals, paint cans, unwanted electronics, light bulbs, batteries etc. should all be properly disposed of and not just thrown in the garbage. There are a lot of places nowadays where these types of unwanted things can be taken to. You might want to call your local environmental agency who can tell you the best thing to do.

So, while moving can be a terribly stressful experience, simplifying ahead of time can help alleviate some of the stress.

Ladder Safety

Over 49,000 injuries from ladder falls are reported every year, so knowing how to use a ladder the right way while doing construction projects or any DIY projects is of the utmost importance. Some safety tips and ladder tips are as follows:

Knowing the different types of ladders is the first step to prevent injury. Each different type of ladder has its own ability, so knowing the abilities and functions will help prevent injury to yourself in the long run. Before using a ladder, make sure all the components, i.e. bolts, screws, steps, are attached properly, etc.

Always face the ladder when walking up and down the steps, to minimize the chances of slipping and falling. When setting up your ladder, make sure it is set up on secure ground, so that as you climb up, the ladder doesn’t move side to side and have that potential of falling over with you on it.

If you are on a roof, be aware of where the ladder is. If it does fall, and you don’t know it, you could unknowingly go to step back on it with nothing being there, thus leading to a fall. Finally, wearing the right kind of safety gear is vital as well. Gear like hard hats, eye protection, heavy duty boots, and gloves will help keep you steady on the ladder and will prevent injury to your head if you do fall.

Keeping these tips in mind will help you to remain injury free, and complete your projects with the best outcome.

How to Avoid Being Scammed

Are you planning your homes maintenance projects for the year? How can you be sure you will not get ripped off by a dishonest tradesman? We have prepared a few things to watch out for to make sure you do not fall victim to a home repair scam.

Firstly, you may get different estimates for work done depending on what kind of neighborhood you live in. If you live in a wealthier area, you may get quoted more than someone who doesn’t. Try and get a quote for work without giving your address. That way it won’t be based on the area.

It’s a sad fact, but a lot of the time, the elderly are mostly targeted by con men. Be very aware of this when you are looking for a contractor. Be careful of tradesmen who come to your door or call you on the phone trying to get you to have work done. A con man will shy away from giving an address, so check all these facts before you decide to use them.

Make sure that the person you hire is licensed for the work they will be doing. Try to have them agree to a flat rate for the work. If not, they may add a lot more to the price they quoted. Get this fixed price written down and signed on a contract beforehand. Also, it is unwise to pay large deposits for the work, and do not pay for the whole job before it is done.

If you have any questions or concerns about the type of tradesmen to hire, please contact us. We will be happy to assist you.

Windows And Stairs – Threats To Your Kids

The safety of a young child is number 1 on parents minds. However, some areas in your house may not be as safe as you’d like them to be if you have a child between the ages of two and six. What are some dangers in the house, and what can you do to safeguard your children from them?

Nearly 8,000 children are sent to the ER every day, averaging around 2.8 million every year from non-fatal injuries. So the first step in protecting your child from windows would be to move any furniture from the windows area to make it less accessible for the child. Secondly, by installing windows stops will allow the windows to only be opened to a certain point, maybe 4 inches, thus removing the possibility that a child could put their head out the window or even a limb.

Stairs are another huge danger to young children. Having a safety gate either at the top of the staircase or at the bottom will prevent your child from gaining access to the stairway, which would potentially lead to a fall. Also, your railing along your staircase poses yet another problem. The child may want to climb on it, put their head through the risers, etc. Having the height of your ballisters be between 34″-36″ inches will not allow the child access to the top of the railing, and having 4″ space between each riser will keep the child from putting a limb though.

Keeping all these tips in mind will help you to further protect your child from potential dangers in the home.

Elderly Safety

Slips and falls are one of the most common reasons why elderly ones are injured, either in a home or in a business. How can you make sure your business or home is accessible and safe for the elderly?

First of all, keep all power chords and lines free from the flow of traffic, and not laying freely across the floor. Reducing the number of chords on the floor will decrease the chance of a slip or fall for an elderly person. In addition, in the case of an emergency, have emergency contact information accessible near a telephone or doorway. In the case of a slip or fall, having such emergency lifelines like the ‘Life Alert’ necklace will allow emergency response teams to react quickly.

Also, bathrooms are one of the main areas where elderly ones are most likely to fall. Keeping your floors cleaned, your area free of clutter, and stalls handicap accessible will keep elderly ones from injury.

These are just a few things you will need to keep in mind to prevent injury to elderly ones and keep yourself from blame in the case of a court case.

Wall Coloring Versus Wallpaper – The Battle Of The Ages

Wall Coloring and Wall Paper have been used over the years to beautify homes around the world. But the question arises: what would work best for you.. wallpaper or wall coloring? Well here are a couple pros and cons for each item.

So first off, if you are looking for something modern, simple, efficient, and pleasing to the eye, then wall coloring is for you. The expense of wall coloring in a house renovation is far less than buying the materials for wallpaper installation, which would include the wallpaper, the glue, and rollers needed for the install. If the paint is scratched, with a little patchwork and a little paint it will be good as new.

On the other hand, we have wallpaper. Wallpaper probably has thousands of designs and gives you the choice of decorating your walls to your hearts fullest content. However, because it is paper, it has the con of having mold grow on it quickly. If in a moist area, the paper could begin to lose the adhesive, then begin to have mold grow. If this happens, then you will have to cut out entire sections and replace those specific sections.

Keeping these in mind will help you to make a decision that is best for you and your house so that you can continue living on and enjoying your home.

Flooded Homes

USDA Loans

Are you thinking of getting a USDA Loan? There are some great opportunities for first-time home buyers out there with this type of loan. The home inspection is basically the same, but there are some requirements. For instance, be sure to tell us if you are getting a full USDA loan,as they have the home inspector fill out the USDA Home Inspection Summary FOrm. It isn’t anything special, just a one page document that summarizes the report.

Other than that, there are a few other things to consider, such as Applicant Eligibility – Currently, the USDA has set out the following eligibility factors;

To be considered ‘low income’, applicants must earn below 115% of the median income for the city/state. If you happen to earn above this amount, there may be small adjustments that can be made to help you qualify.

Although the idea is to get people in housing in rural areas, there are some zip codes that happen to fall in the suburbs of major cities.

In order to qualify, a family must not have adequate housing but still have the funds to pay for a mortgage.

Depending on the number of dependants, this will decide the loan amount and credit histories need to be acceptable. With any previous bankruptcies, foreclosures, repossessions, and late payments, they will show on a credit check.

Appliances – How to Save Energy in the Home

We love our appliances, don’t we? Whether it’s our fridge, microwave, stove, toaster, coffee maker, etc, all these appliances and electronics take a lot of power, sometimes too much, which will, in turn, have a profound effect on your electricity bill. With just a few simple tricks, you can take steps to reduce your electricity bill and continue to have an energy efficient house.

Step 1: Keep your refrigerator or freezer away from the stove, dishwasher, vents, or in the direct sunlight. This will cause the fridge or freezer to use more electricity to keep everything inside cold enough.

Step 2: Something as simple as chargers for laptops and phones that are still plugged in, even when they aren’t connected to a device, draw power. So in this case, unplug chargers when not using them.

Step 3: Using ‘Energy Star’ rated appliances and devices. These appliances and devices have been specifically created to be energy efficient and use less power.

Following these steps will help contribute to a lower electrical bill and a better energy efficient house.

Saving On Electric Bills

Saving money is always a good thing. One of our most regular bills is our electric bill. It can be pretty large sometimes, especially this time of year with AC units running all the time. So how can you save on your electric bills?

Well, if you have kids, turning off the lights can be a big one. No matter how hard we try though – kids just forget. Consider installing motion lights for bathrooms and hallways, as this can reduce how much power is used in these areas.

Also, since we are heavy in the cooling season, keeping the AC off when people are not at home is very helpful as well. Please be considerate of pets though – animals may need the AC.

And lastly, insulate better. Insulating attics and other parts of your home are relatively easy and can save on cooling costs.

Buying a Second Home

Buying a second home is the goal of many people. It gives you something away from your actual home, without having to stay at someone else’s house or a hotel. Are you ready to buy a second home? Here are some things to consider.

Be sure to consider the distance. Everyone thinks that the beautiful cabin in the middle of nowhere 5 hours away is perfect. But those 5 hours turn into long drives. It also makes quick getaways hard too. If you only have Saturday and Sunday, but you spend 5 hours each day driving, it isn’t very relaxing.

A good rule of thumb is to find something about 1-2 hours away. Far enough to feel away from things, but not so far that if you forget your glasses you can’t drive back and get them if you had to.

Also, consider maintenance. Mowing the lawn, water heaters breaking, squirrel in the attic causing damage, and other things can happen without notice. So have a good handyman in the area ready to help.