Check Around the House
Last month I wrote about emergency preparedness in case of a natural disaster.  Let’s address HOME preparedness in case of an emergency or to prevent an emergency.

The leading causes of house fires are; cooking, smoking, heating (space heaters, not furnaces), and electrical (wiring).  You should have a fire extinguisher rated A:B:C (that combination fights all of the above types of fire).  K rated fire extinguishers fight commercial kitchen fires and are now making in-roads into home application.  Use an extinguisher only after your home is evacuated and the fire department has been called.  Let the professionals do their job!

Tree Huggers (and I am one) beware of untrimmed trees.  A large full tree close to your home without interior trimming does not allow the wind to blow through and creates a wall.  The problem then exists of the tree toppling over during high winds..crash! not good.  Additionally branches over your roof, or worse, sweeping on your roof decreases the longevity of your roofing shingle.  There are professionals that do that type of work too, tree trimming that is.

This item is real simple but often overlooked; keep things.. clutter… stuff from accumulating on stairways…that’s for sure a trip, slip, fall waiting to happen.

Home Improvement 101

Be on the offensive defense against costly fixes.  How quickly does air leak from your tires?  Isn’t it amazing that for better miles per gallon performance we have to  maintain the air pressure in our tires?  With that same thinking that maintenance helps performance, let’s review water tight integrity on your home.
1- flashing; this is found at your chimney and where vertical walls meet the roof line.  Sometimes it pulls away from the brick or siding.  Look at these areas for loose or non existent flashing, caulk is not the answer.
2- chimney (brick or real stone); I am still comfortable climbing my roof but don’t advise it for most people.  Even though I reviewed the condition last fall, winter and spring reek havoc.  Look at the mortar joints for separation from the bricks, look at the cap or sill for deterioration/separation, look at your clay flue liners for cracking and staining.  An ounce of prevention: pound of cure.
3-chimney (other than real full sized brick 95% of the time); these newer type of chimneys have been showing up recently as a big problem.  They look terrific but some were not flashed properly and are contributing to leaking and subsequent deterioration of the chimney chase framing.  If you see signs of warping or pulling away of the facade on the chimney or notice a slight leak into your fireplace, now is the best time to prevent extensive rebuilding costs.  “Water always wins.”
4-your roof; break out the binoculars, look out onto your roof and look for;
curling at the edges of the shingles, huge color variations, no granules (color chips) on your shingle, missing shingles or bare areas, turned up or twisted shingles.  Look for ventilation boxes or a ridge vent across the peak of your house.  When roofs leak..things get wet… such as your insulation and when your insulation gets wet, its performance is greatly reduced and we start another bad cycle of increased energy bills (heating and cooling) and the increased probability of ice dams in the winter.  Without proper ventilation (intake and exhaust) there is increased likelihood of moisture in your attic.  And with increased moisture…when it settles on your insulation, again, the R-value of your insulation is decreased.