It's said: big home problems often start small. Regular home maintenance prevents large repairs. Here are some tips for keeping you and your home safe and sound.

Grading:

Grading is how the ground slopes around your home. Proper grading is important for keeping the foundation dry by not allowing excessive amounts of water to collect in the soil around the foundation/basement.
Here are three easy steps to correct your home's grading:

  • 1. Remove any mulch or wood chips from the low areas around the house until you get down to the solid soil below.
  • 2. Bring in new soil and raise the area close to the house. The ground should be higher at the home and slope down lower as it moves away from the home. A good slope should be about 1/2" to 1" per linear foot. Be sure to tamp down the new soil so that it will properly shed water away from the house.
  • 3. Once the new soil is installed you can put back in the topsoil and grass, or mulch/woodchips and plantings. Be sure to keep the soil elevation at least 6" below the house framing to prevent insect and/or moisture damage.

Carbon Monoxide Safety Tips:

The NFPA (National Fire Prevention Association) gives us the following safety tips: Carbon Monoxide safety tips.

  • Often called the silent killer, carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless, colorless gas created when fuels (such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil, and methane) burn incompletely. In the home, heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel can be sources of carbon monoxide.
  • CO alarms should be installed in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home and in other locations where required by applicable laws, codes or standards. For the best protection, interconnect all CO alarms throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound.
  • Choose a CO alarm that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
  • Call your local fire department's non-emergency number to find out what number to call if the CO alarm sounds.
  • Test CO alarms at least once a month, replace them according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  • If the CO alarm sounds, immediately move to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door. Make sure everyone inside the home is accounted for. Call for help from a fresh air location and stay there until emergency personnel arrive. 
  • If you need to warm a vehicle, remove it from the garage immediately after starting it. Do not run a vehicle or other fueled engine or motor indoors, even if garage doors are open. Make sure the exhaust pipe of a running vehicle is not covered with snow.
  • During and after a snowstorm, make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove, and fireplace are clear of snow build-up.
  • A generator should be used in a well-ventilated location outdoors away from windows, doors and vent openings.
  • Gas or charcoal grills can produce CO - only use outside.
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    Smoke Detectors Safety Tips:

    • - Install smoke alarms inside every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home including the basement.
    • - Larger homes may need additional smoke alarms to provide enough protection.
    • - For best protection interconnect all smoke alarms so when one sounds they all sound.
    • - An Ionization smoke alarm is generally more responsive to flaming fires and a photoelectric smoke alarm more for smoldering fires. For best protection, both types of alarms or a combination ionization and photoelectric alarm (also known as dual sensor alarms) are recommended.
    • - Smoke alarms should be installed away from the kitchen to prevent false alarms. Generally they should be at least 10 feet away (3 meters) from a cooking appliance.
    • - Replace all smoke alarms when they are 10 years old.
    • - Don't forget... all smoke alarms should be tested at least once a month using the test button.

     

    Radon Testing Safety Tips:

    Radon is a dangerous poisonous gas. Breathing it can increase your risk for getting lung cancer. According to the EPA, radon causes approximately 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year and is second only behind smoking as a leading cause of lung cancer. As many as one out of every fifteen homes in America has a dangerous level of radon gas. Our area of Pennsylvania is considered a high potential area for detecting a radon levels over 4. The only way to be sure your home is safe is to test your home's radon level. Luckily if your radon level is high there are steps that can be taken to fix it.

    How to test for radon:

    • - Test for radon in the lowest lived-in level of your home. If you have a finished basement or a playroom below ground you should perform the test down there. If your basement is unfinished, or only used for storage then perform the test on your homes ground floor.
    • - It's easy to get a test kit. Just go to your local hardware or home improvement store to purchase one. You can even order a test kit from home by calling the National Radon Hotline at 1-800-SOS-RADON or 1-800-767-7236.
    • - If your test results come back and your home has a radon level of 4 or higher you will need to take steps to make your home safe. There really is no safe level of radon so you might consider performing these steps even if your home tests lower then a 4.
    • - You should hire a qualified contractor to fix the radon problem in your home. You can find a qualified contractor by visiting
      http://www.epa.gov/radon/whereyoulive.html

     

    Electrical Safety Tips:

    • - If your home is over 40 years old consider having an electrical inspection.
    • - Never place electric cords under rugs or bedding. Heat and or sparks from cords can cause fire.
    • - Check for overloaded extension cords. Usage should not exceed the recommended wattage.
    • - Cover unused outlets to prevent children from sticking a finger in a socket and getting shocked.
    • - All major appliances should be grounded. Be sure to check your grounded fault circuit interrupters regularly.
    • - Look for the UL mark appearing on products to ensure they have been tested, verified and inspected for safety by Underwriters Laboratories.
    • - Check electrical cords for signs of wear, replace frayed or cracked cords to prevent shocks and fires.
    • - Fix electrical problems right away. If you see fuses blowing often, circuit breakers tripping, or switches getting hot then you should call an electrician to inspect.
    • - When using a 3-prong cord, use it as intended. The third prong is there to ground the appliance and prevent electrical shock.
    • - Don't overhaul outlets. Only plug in an appropriate amount of items for each outlet or room.
    • - All outlets near water should be GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) protected.