6 Ways to Maintain Your Septic Tank

6 Ways to Maintain Your Septic Tank

Your septic tank is an important component of your home. Taking proper care of it will save you thousands of dollars in repairs or replacement and promote a safe and healthy living environment. Use these 6 tips to maintain your septic tank.

1. Have Your Septic Tank Serviced

Professionals recommend having your septic system inspected yearly. Use a qualified technician to maintain your septic tank and save all service records and inspection reports. The number of people living in your home, the amount of wastewater generated, and the size of the tank determines how often your septic tank should be pumped.

Experts say the average tank should be pumped every three years or more often if yours uses an electrical float switch, pump, or other mechanical pumps. If your septic system is newer, it may have a filter to prevent solids from entering the drain field. If so, the filter should be cleaned or replaced upon servicing.

2. Protect Your Drain Field

The drain field is the part of your septic system that removes contaminants from the liquids that exit the septic tank. Sometimes called the leach field, it is a shallow, covered excavation in the ground. The drain field will flood if it becomes deluged with wastewater or outside liquid, causing a sewage back-up. Maintain your septic tank with regular pumping to protect the drain field. Don’t park vehicles over your drain field and don’t plant trees nearby. The roots can grow into the septic system and cause damage.

3. Watch What Goes Into Your Septic Tank

Most toilet tissue is designed to break down and dissolve inside the septic tank. Don’t flush items like feminine hygiene products, diapers, paper towels, cigarette butts, cat litter, or dental floss down the toilet. In the kitchen, don’t put coffee grounds or grease into the garbage disposal. In fact, if you have a standalone septic system, it’s best not to have a garbage disposal. Drain openers and other chemicals can damage the septic tank, so choose safer, non-toxic solutions instead.

4. Use Water Wisely

Conserving water helps maintain your septic tank. Avoid excessive washing machine and dishwasher use, running toilets, and leaky faucets. When it’s time to replace appliances, toilets, and showerheads, replace them with energy-efficient models if you don’t already have them. Conserving water will help keep your drain field from flooding and you’ll also save money on your utility bills.

5. Use High-Water Pressure Jetting

Regardless of regular pumping, all septic systems will accumulate solids in the drainpipe that can clog connecting pipes to the drain field. Maintain your septic tank by high-pressure water jetting the drain lines about every five years. This will clear away solids and other debris that could affect efficient operation.

6. Use a Bacteria Additive

Another way to maintain your septic tank is by using a bacteria additive. Organic bacteria will break down unnatural substances such as soaps and detergents that enter your tank. These common household products kill the naturally occurring bacteria that keep your system functioning properly. Bacteria additives are inexpensive and can help keep pipes clean and odor-free.

American Home Inspection Services provides septic inspections and other inspection services to Southeast Michigan. Contact us to schedule your yearly septic inspection.

Tips for Home Security While on Vacation

Tips for Home Security While on Vacation

Vacation is an escape from everyday life to get some rest and relaxation. Make sure your vacation is the stress-free adventure that you’ve planned by preparing your home before you leave. The following steps to improve home security will help you to enjoy yourself on vacation knowing that your home is protected.

Home Security While on Vacation: What You Should Know

You’re excited about going on vacation and want everyone to know. However, sharing the news on social media is not the best idea. Never divulge information about your trip such as the destination or the dates of your departure and return. Wait until you’re back home to share pictures and details on social media.

Don’t let your home look empty while you’re away. Stop newspaper and mail delivery until you return. You can also ask a friend to stop by and collect your mail so it won’t pile up. Leave a light or two on in the house. Put lamps and your television on timers to create the illusion that someone is home. Install motion-detecting lights to illuminate the yard or back deck.

So that your home looks occupied, keep your regular appointments with the landscaper and other maintenance services. For an extended vacation, hire a company to handle the chores while you’re away.

An Alarm System Increases Home Security While on Vacation

More than 2.5 million burglaries occur in the U.S. each year. Approximately 66% of these are home burglaries. July and August are the most common times for burglaries to occur since they’re popular for family vacations.

Home alarm systems are affordable and protect you when you’re home or out-of-town. Not only does a monitored alarm system reduce the risk that a burglar will break into your home, but it notifies you and the police department that something is wrong. With an alarm system in place, you enjoy peace of mind and superior protection.

Protect Your Home While You are Away

Give the house a quick inspection before you leave to make certain all of your doors and windows are locked. Taking steps to improve home security requires only a small amount of effort so that you’re prepared for your time away.

American Home Inspection Services offers home inspections in southeast Michigan. Contact us to schedule our services.

5 Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality at Home

5 Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality at Home

Your home is healthier when you maintain a clean environment. There are several different factors that impact air quality indoors. Pollen, dust, pet dander, mold, and chemicals in the air worsen air quality. Poor indoor air is linked to allergies, fatigue, and asthma. Take these steps to improve indoor air quality in your home.

How to Improve the Indoor Air Quality of Your Home

Clean air reduces allergies, headaches, and fatigue. If you are experiencing these symptoms, make these simple improvements.

Regular Cleaning to Improve Indoor Air

One of the main causes of poor air quality is dust, so it’s important to keep the whole home clean. Sweeping, mopping, and vacuuming on a regular basis will reduce the number of pollutants in your indoor air. Regularly launder bedding and drapes and dust your home weekly.

Change Your Filters for Better Air Quality

If your HVAC system uses forced air to heat or cool your home, change the filters on a regular basis to improve air quality. Filters collect dust and other particles, but they eventually get clogged and reduce the efficiency of your system.

Purchase an Air Purifier

An air purifier in your home is an easy way to reduce allergens in the air. While a purifier may not remove all irritants, it will reduce the level of pollutants in the air.

Improve Indoor Air Quality by Opening Windows

Open your windows for at least 15 minutes a day so fresh air can circulate through your house to improve your air quality. When cooking or showering, use exhaust fans to lower humidity and remove contaminants from your home.

Choose Purifying Plants

Houseplants improve indoor air quality by removing pollutants from the air.  Add air-purifying plants to your home environment.

Good air quality in your home is essential for your family’s health. Improve indoor air quality and you will begin to notice a difference in how you feel.

American Home Inspection Services offers home inspection services to Southeast Michigan. If you’re buying or selling a property, contact us to schedule a home inspection.

Tree Maintenance at Home: From Purchase to Pruning

Tree Maintenance at Home: From Purchase to Pruning

From the moment a tree is selected for your home, care and maintenance begin. How you care for trees at home will affect their growth and health, especially in their early years. In fact, tree maintenance over the first few years affects the tree’s strength, shape, and lifespan. Follow these tips to ensure your tree gets a good start for a strong, healthy life.

Choosing Trees and Placement

When adding new trees, there are a few things to consider. First, you’ll want to have a clear idea of the tree’s purpose. Is it meant to provide aesthetics, shade, privacy, or serve as a windbreak?

Next, you should understand the limitations of the planting site. Know your hardiness zone. Estimate the maximum spread and height for a tree within the available space. Know the soil conditions and sun exposure. Get started with tree maintenance at home by putting careful thought into your choice of tree and its placement on your property.

Choose Healthy Trees to Get Started With Tree Maintenance

Because trees are transported in different ways, it is important to know what to look for with each variety. Grow trees at home more easily when they start out healthy and thriving.

  • With bare-root seedlings, look for roots that are fibrous and moist. Seedlings for deciduous trees should have roots that are roughly equal to the length of the stem.
  • Trees with roots that are wrapped in burlap should have a root ball that is firm to the touch, particularly near the trunk. Ensure the root ball is of sufficient size for the size of the tree.
  • For container-grown trees, pruned roots should be cleanly cut, with none wider than the width of a finger. There should be no large, circling roots in the container. The soil and roots in the container should be tightly joined.
  • When purchasing a mature tree, look for bark that is healthy and bright, leader or leaders that are well-developed, lack of mechanical or insect injury, ideal spacing in between the branches, and low branches.

Pruning is Part of Regular Tree Maintenance

Proper pruning is essential for a healthy tree. The correct time of year to prune depends on the reason for pruning. Light pruning can be done any time, as can the removal of dead branches and limbs. Winter pruning is common, resulting in a burst of new growth that is vigorous in the spring. This is best performed in late winter once the coldest days have passed.

To direct the growth of unwanted branches, or to dwarf a tree or branch’s development, pruning should take place in summer shortly after the growth of the season is complete. Defective limbs are easier to see and remove in summer.

Trees heal more slowly in autumn and potentially damaging fungi spread spores profusely at this time, so it’s best to limit pruning to the times outlined above.

Add Mulch Around Your Trees

For newly planted trees, mulch is helpful for soil insulation, water retention, weed prevention, and protection from damaging lawn equipment. Start by removing the grass within a three to ten feet diameter area, depending on the tree’s size. Pour bark pieces or wood chips within the circle at a depth of two to four inches. Do not allow the mulch to touch the tree’s trunk. Mulch is beneficial for new and well-established tree maintenance.

American Home Inspection Services provides home inspections in Southeast Michigan. Contact us to schedule an appointment for our services.

7 Ways to Babyproof Your Home

7 Ways to Babyproof Your Home

Bringing home a new baby means you’ll need to make some changes at home. While your newborn can’t get into any trouble just yet, he or she will be mobile before you know it. Babyproof your home as soon as possible with these tips.

Babyproofing Your Home for Bathtime

To keep newborns safe at bathtime, a contoured baby bathtub is a good investment. Check the temperature on your water heater. For safety, the water heater should be set no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Babies and toddlers should never be left in the bathtub alone.

Secure the Furniture to Babyproof Your Home

Before too long, your newborn will be an infant pulling up on furniture. Start babyproofing your home now with an anchoring kit or furniture safety straps to fasten wardrobes, dressers, and bookcases to a stud in the wall. Cover sharp furniture corners with padded corner protectors.

Be Careful with Televisions in Your Home

Televisions should be placed where they can’t fall on a child. Mount a flat-screen TV securely to the wall or keep your TV in a cabinet with doors that close that is anchored to the wall.

Store Toys Safely

When babyproofing, take a look at your toy storage. Your child’s toy box shouldn’t have a hinged lid. The hinges can pinch small fingers and the lid can slam shut and cause injury. Boxes with completely removable lids or baskets on a low shelf are the best options.

Babyproof Your Home: Electrical Safety

Covering electrical outlets is an important step in babyproofing your home. Many children figure out how to remove the covers that simply push into the outlet. Fortunately, several styles of outlet covers are on the market.

The box style cover is useful because you can still plug things into the outlet. Starting in 2008, the electrical code required tamper resistant outlets for new homes and renovations. These outlets don’t need covers because the openings have a spring-loaded barrier.

Babyproof by Moving or Locking up Chemicals in Your Home

Anything that shouldn’t be ingested should be locked up or moved out of the child’s reach. Lock under-sink cabinets filled with household cleaners and store all of your medications out of reach.

Do a Knee-Level Inspection for Other Areas to Babyproof

Get down on your knees and look for hazardous conditions to find out if babyproofing your home has been successful. If you find additional concerns, look for ways to make the area safer.

American Home Inspection Services offers home inspection services to Southeast Michigan. Contact us to request an appointment.

Expected Home Appliance Lifespans

Expected Home Appliance Lifespans

You don’t usually think about how long you’ve had an appliance in your home until it stops working. Learn about the typical major home appliance lifespans so you’ll know when to budget for replacing the ones you have.

Gas Ranges Have Longer Home Appliance Lifespans Than Electric

At about 15 years, gas ranges have the longest life expectancy of any major appliance. Their electric range counterparts aren’t far behind with a 13-year average lifespan. The hood that’s used to trap grease above a range usually functions for about 14 years. Extend the life of your range by:

• never dragging pots from one element to another on electric ranges
• cleaning food particles from between burner head slots on gas ranges
• using the oven’s self-cleaning feature as per the manufacturer’s directions

Fridges Won’t Last as Long, but They’re More Efficient Than Ever!

The U.S. Department of Energy reports that new refrigerators with an Energy Star label use about 15 percent less energy than other models. They use about 40 percent less power than models available just after the new millennium started.

Major home appliance lifespans for refrigerators are about 13 years for standard models and almost a decade for compact models. Chest freezers average about 11 years, although new models could last as long as 20 years. Boost the lifespan of refrigerators and freezers by:

• cleaning the compressor coils every 1-2 months
• using a soft-bristle attachment to vacuum easily accessible parts
• wiping exterior and interior surfaces down with mild detergent and water

Dishwashers Have Shorter Home Appliance Lifespans

These popular kitchen appliances get a lot of use, so you should start looking for a new dishwasher after about 9 years. On the bright side, newer models use much less water than older, less efficient models. Get the maximum life out of your dishwasher by loading it properly, cleaning the filter, and wiping down the door gasket.

Washers and Dryers Will Last About a Decade

Clothes dryers tend to last a bit longer than washing machines – 13 and 10 years, respectively. Major home appliance lifespans for washers and dryers can be stretched a bit if you maintain them by:

• only using your washer/dryer when you have a full load
• cleaning traps and filters on a regular basis
• replacing hoses on your washer as needed
• empty any pockets before washing your clothes

Newer Furnaces and Water Heaters are Smart Long-Term Investments

Typically, modern furnaces will last around 15-20 years, depending on the model and the type of fuel it uses. Gas furnaces generally last a longer than electric models. Gas-fired boilers, however, keep you warm for roughly 20 years. Heat pumps provide year-round heating and cooling for 16 years, on average. Air conditioners average about 10-15 years.

With water heaters, expect traditional gas and electric tanks to work well for 10-11 years. Major home appliance lifespans for water heaters can be 20 years or more if tankless. Increase the home appliance lifespans of your furnace and water heater by having them professionally serviced at least once a year.

Replace Your Microwave and Trash Compactor More Often Than Other Appliances

Microwaves, which have been making meal prep a breeze for more than 50 years, last anywhere from 5 to 10 years, with the average life expectancy being 9 years. Trash compactors are at the lowest end of the appliance life expectancy scale at about 6 years. However, your garbage disposal could last for about a dozen years if you maintain it properly.

These are averages for major home appliance lifespans. The actual life of your appliances depends on how well they are maintained, the manufacturer, and how often they are used. Be proactive about taking steps to make your appliances last longer so you can enjoy them for their full expected life.

American Home Inspection Services provides home inspection services to Southeast Michigan. Contact us to schedule an appointment.