4 Ways to Prevent Chimney Fires

4 Ways to Prevent Chimney Fires

A house fire is a scary prospect for any homeowner. Fire can spread quickly throughout your home, causing extensive property damage, injury, or even death. Luckily, with proper chimney maintenance, you can reduce the risk of fire in your home. Below are four strategies you can implement to prevent chimney fires.

Minimize the Build-up of Creosote to Prevent Chimney Fires

Creosote is undoubtedly one of the leading causes of chimney fires. This highly flammable substance is a by-product of burning in the fireplace. Smoke condenses as it travels up the chimney. If the temperature within the flue is high and the creosote build-up is thick enough, creosote could ignite.

To prevent chimney fires caused by creosote build-up, use only seasoned wood stored in a dry place for at least six months. Before burning the firewood, test the moisture content using a moisture meter which you can purchase online or at hardware stores. Don’t burn freshly cut wood because it produces more smoke and creosote. Keep the damper open when using the fireplace to allow adequate airflow.

If your chimney is not insulated, hire a professional to insulate it. A well-insulated liner prevents the temperatures in the flue from getting too cold – an environment that leads to creosote formation when the smoke condenses quickly.

Schedule a Professional Chimney Inspection

Many defects that lead to chimney fires, like a damaged flue liner, aren’t usually visible to the naked eye. To promote safety, have a professional inspect and clean the chimney at least once per year.

An expert will check the chimney and notify you of any signs of damage. You’ll be able to schedule necessary repairs before the issue becomes more severe.

Clean Your Chimney

Before building the first fire of the season, ensure the chimney is clean. You’ll reduce the risk of fire by removing flammable materials like leaves, pine needles, animal nests, and creosote from the flue. You can clean your chimney yourself using a chimney brush and a ladder. However, it’s always preferable to let a professional handle this task. They have the tools necessary to eliminate soot, creosote, and other debris that has accumulated in your chimney.

Check the Cap to Prevent Chimney Fires

Another great way to prevent chimney fires is by making sure that you have a functioning cap. A chimney cap helps to keep debris, pests, and rainwater out of your chimney. It also helps to prevent backdrafts, where smoke from a fire re-enters the home as the wind blows down the chimney. If your chimney cap is loose, missing, or damaged, replace it before using the fireplace.

Fireplaces are a convenient source of heat during the cold months and can help you save on energy bills, but they can be dangerous if you don’t take proper precautions. Use these prevention tips to protect your loved ones from chimney fires.

American Home Inspection Services offers inspections to homebuyers and sellers in Southeast Michigan. Contact us to request our services.

3 Steps for Yearly Roof Maintenance

3 Steps for Yearly Roof Maintenance

Yearly roof maintenance can prevent minor issues from becoming large and expensive problems. Regularly cleaning and inspecting the roof guarantees that your investment lasts as long as possible. Inspect your roof after strong storms or at least twice yearly, once in spring and once in fall.

Assess the Condition of Your Roof

Only those capable of safely climbing a ladder should examine the roof. Depending on the slope, it may be difficult to walk on. Professional roofers can perform inspections safely, and they are less likely to miss an issue. Whether you hire a professional or do it yourself, this checklist will highlight what to look for.

Yearly Roof Maintenance Checklist

Inside Your Home

Start your yearly roof check-up inside the house. Examine interior walls and ceilings for any signs of water. If there is staining on the wall or ceiling, this could indicate a leak in the roof. Mildew and mold are signs the area has been damp for some time. Notice if there are areas where the ceiling seems to be sagging, indicating rot caused by water damage.

Clear the Gutters

Cleaning gutters is an essential part of roof maintenance. Clogged gutters and downspouts lead to water pooling on the roof. Remove debris and use a garden hose to check the flow of water. Water should drain away from the house, not near the foundation. Look for rust spots or leaks in the gutter. Make necessary repairs as soon as possible. Rust erodes the guttering material, causing water to leak in undesired areas.

Exterior Roof Maintenance 

Walk the roof and remove any debris. Check for missing tiles or shingles, and replace them as soon as possible. If any tiles or shingles are broken or damaged, replace them. For metal roofs, keep an eye out for rust. For wooden roofs, look for areas that are sagging or appear soft, a sign of rot. Repair or replace these areas before the damage becomes worse.

During your yearly roof maintenance, pay attention to features on the roof, such as solar panels, the satellite dish, or the chimney. Make sure the roof beneath the extra weight is sturdy, and verify that the seals around the chimney are in good shape.

By completing yearly roof maintenance, you extend the life of your roof and prevent leaks and water damage.

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

6 Ways to Save Energy at Home

6 Ways to Save Energy at Home

Energy conservation lowers your monthly utility expenses and positively impacts the environment. If you’re looking to save energy at home, here are a few simple changes you can start implementing today.

Switch Off the Air Conditioner to Save Energy at Home

If the weather is hot or humid, your first move may be to turn on the air conditioner. But save the AC for sweltering hot days if you’re trying to conserve energy. Instead, hang blackout curtains to block the sun’s rays from warming your home. Use a fan, especially during cooler parts of the day, to circulate the air, creating a wind-chill effect. 

Set a reminder to adjust the thermostat or turn off the air conditioner altogether when no one is home. Install a smart thermostat that can be managed via your smartphone to control your home’s temperature from anywhere.

Be Efficient with Appliance Usage

Only run the dishwasher and washing machines when you have a full load of laundry or dishes. Save even more energy by using cold water instead of hot when washing the laundry. Most modern detergents and machines work just as well with cold water, and you’ll prevent clothing from fading.

If you tend to fall asleep in front of the television, set a timer to automatically turn it off at a specific time.

Hang Laundry to Dry

You can save even more energy when doing your laundry by air drying your clothes instead of using the machine. Even if you can’t air dry every time you do your laundry, consider skipping the dryer sometimes, especially when the weather is warm. Hang clothes outside on a clothesline to dry.

Use the Oven Less Frequently to Save Energy at Home

Cooking at home has a lot of advantages, and it tends to be healthier and less expensive. But if you’re trying to save energy, look into recipes that don’t require the oven, such as salads, smoothies, cold sandwiches, or no-bake cookies.

Unplug Devices

Some devices use power while plugged in, even if powered off. Reduce your energy usage by unplugging appliances and devices you’re not using. For example, there is no reason to leave the microwave, blender, computer, or tablet plugged in around the clock.

Replace Your Light Bulbs

If you’re looking for an easy way to save energy at home, replace traditional incandescent light bulbs with LEDs. These modern bulbs are more energy-efficient and longer-lasting than standard light bulbs.

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

6 Ways to Improve the Deck or Patio this Summer

6 Ways to Improve the Deck or Patio this Summer

When the weather warms up, there is no better place to be than relaxing on your deck or patio. It’s a perfect place to enjoy the summer weather. Here are a few tips to improve the deck and prepare your outdoor living spaces for the summer.

Install a Classic Pergola

Building a vine-covered pergola in your yard is an attractive way to add shade to a patio or deck. Use wood beams to build the frame and lattice for walls. The filtered sunlight created by the latticework overhead provides a calm, relaxing environment that is perfect for backyard entertaining.

Add Lighting to Improve the Deck

An easy way to transform your deck or patio is by adding lights. Install string lights overhead to add a festive look to your outdoor getaway. Add solar-powered deck post lights or an outdoor fireplace to brighten the space.

Rustic Deck and Patio Improvements

Rustic furniture and accent pieces give the deck, porch, or patio an authentic feel. Weathered wooden and cast-iron furniture go together perfectly. If you’re into DIY projects, there are various options for upcycled pallet furniture to build for your deck.

Island Deck

A deck in the middle of the backyard offers an escape a short distance from the house. Enjoy relaxing outdoors and entertaining friends and neighbors while being surrounded by the beauty of your backyard. Purchase lounge furniture and a patio umbrella to provide shade from the sun.

Build a Gazebo for the Grill

Build a gazebo to house your grill and provide space to show off your grilling skills in comfort. The shade from the gazebo protects you from the sun and keeps you cool while cooking on a hot grill. Add comfortable furniture to make it an ideal place to hang out with friends for your backyard cookout.

Improve Your Deck With a Living Wall

Create a living wall to give yourself more privacy from the neighbors. Add hanging flower baskets or install herb plants with a dripping irrigation system to a privacy fence or wooden wall. A garden wall adds color and fragrance to the area around the deck, courtyard, or patio.

Summer is a great time to get outdoors and into nature with friends and family. With these deck and patio ideas, you’ll make time outside more enjoyable. Simple touches will transform the backyard into a fun and attractive place your neighbors will envy.

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

7 Tips and Tricks to Reorganize Your House

7 Tips and Tricks to Reorganize Your House

If your home feels disorganized and cluttered, you may feel more stressed than usual. It’s hard to relax and unwind when it seems there is always something to clean up. Here are a few tips to help you reorganize your house. You’ll create functional and tidy living spaces.

Prioritize the Most Pressing Projects

Make a checklist of the areas that need to be organized. Determine the most important room, closet, or space to organize and start there. Having a plan before beginning your decluttering and organization work is helpful. Create a list of cleaning products or storage containers you’ll need to complete the job.

Lighten the Work Load to Reorganize Your House

Before reorganizing, do a sweep of each space and purge items you don’t want or need. Don’t hold on to things that no longer serve you. Gather useful items in cardboard boxes and donate them to a charity of your choice next time you run errands. There is no point in spending time organizing things you don’t need.

Budget Your Time

Use a chore chart or calendar to schedule time for cleaning each area in your home. Try to estimate the amount of time you’ll need and put it on the calendar. If you only have 15 minutes, clean a single kitchen drawer. A free weekend may be enough time to reorganize the garage.

As you complete an area, check it off the list. Seeing your progress is often an incentive to continue the work of decluttering and organizing.

Store Items Appropriately to Reorganize Your House

Make sure things are stored where they belong. It doesn’t make sense to store your bed sheets in a cabinet above the refrigerator. Don’t keep extra bottles of dishwashing liquid in your bedroom closet. You are more likely to put things where they belong and find things when you need them if your organizational system is logical and convenient.

Use Vertical Space

You’ll save floor space by getting creative with your storage. Use over-the-door shoe racks, hanging organizers, hooks, and pegboards. Especially if you have a smaller home, making use of vertical space helps you preserve square footage and keep your living areas open.

Clean As You Reorganize Your House

When you declutter and organize, this provides a perfect opportunity to dust the bookshelf and wipe fingerprints off the coffee table. When reorganizing an area, remove everything and clean the space. Wipe the walls, dust surfaces, and make repairs if needed. You’ll be able to organize and store your belongings in a clean room.

Maintain the Organization

Just as important as organizing your whole house is maintaining the organization. After the entire home is organized, upkeep is easy. Set aside 15-20 minutes per day to put things back where they belong. Use labels on boxes, bins, and totes, so your family members know exactly where things go. Your house will stay organized, and you’ll feel less stress when you’re at home.

American Home Inspection Services offers inspections to homebuyers and sellers in Southeast Michigan. Contact us to request an appointment.

How to Improve Front Door Security

How to Improve Front Door Security

Homeowners are surprised to learn that intruders often enter through the front door. Protecting a home is just as important as maintaining it. With better security options, you can protect your home from break-ins. Here are a few tips to improve front door security.

Improve Front Door Security

One of the most effective ways to strengthen an entry against break-ins is to reinforce the door frame and install a deadbolt that reaches further into the frame than a standard lock. To further boost security, install a smart lock that sends alerts when the door opens and lets you lock your door remotely.

Security hinges are a simple and efficient upgrade to your front door security for those with outswing doors. An intruder cannot open the hinges from outside without proper tools.

Renovate your entrance by replacing the door with an enhanced solid core version. A solid core door adds weight and extra strength. A stable door prevents intrusion and is excellent for safeguarding against the elements.

Non-Invasive Security Options

If you’re looking for a less permanent solution, defend your home with a horizontal security bar. Unlike a traditional barricade, drilling holes into the wall is unnecessary. A security bar fits any standard door opening and is not complicated to install. These blockades are handy for rental homes and apartments where modifications might cost you your security deposit.

A video doorbell is a fantastic way to monitor your front door. They are easy to install and use. Video doorbells are available as a single unit or a system that allows you to monitor multiple locations. This smart technology will enable you to monitor your home’s entrances from anywhere you have access to a smartphone.

Motion-sensing lights detect movement at the front door. These lights automatically turn on and can deter would-be burglars. Because many break-ins occur after dark, motion-sensing lights provide peace of mind while you’re asleep or away.

Regardless of what components you use to secure your home, options exist for your specific needs. There are many possibilities to protect your home, from deadbolts and motion lights to new hinges and smart security.

American Home Inspection Services provides inspections to customers in Southeast Michigan. Contact us to schedule our services.