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.

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.

6 Tips for Safety During the Holidays

6 Tips for Safety During the Holidays

The holidays involve decorating, entertaining guests, and cooking delicious meals. While these activities help set a festive mood, they also pose hidden risks. Here are a few tips for safety during the holidays.

Lighting Safety During the Holidays

Conduct a thorough inspection of your lights before hanging them and replace any light strands with damaged cords or bulbs. When changing bulbs, use bulbs with the correct wattage to avoid an electrical problem.

Once you have confirmed the lighting is in good condition, be careful to not overload outlets or extension cords when plugging in lights. Keep children and pets away from light strands to avoid accidents. Finally, when you leave home or go to bed, switch off the holiday lights to help prevent an electrical fire.

Holiday Tree Safety Tips

A freshly cut tree is less susceptible to catching fire. Be sure to water the holiday tree and keep it away from open flames. Place the tree on a stable surface to prevent it from tipping over and causing injury. If you opt to purchase an artificial tree rather than a freshly cut one, make sure it’s labeled as “fire-resistant.”

Cooking Safety During the Holidays

Unattended cooking is a common cause of fires in the United States, and the winter holidays are the peak season for house fires. Prevent a fire by closely monitoring your oven and stove and never leaving the area when food is cooking. Clean spills right away to avoid slips and falls in the kitchen.

Fireplace Safety Tips

Gathering around a fireplace is an excellent way to keep warm and cozy. Make sure the flue is open before starting the fire. Use seasoned wood as fuel. Don’t burn wrapping paper or cardboard boxes in the fireplace. These materials can burn out of control and emit toxic fumes that are harmful to your health. Keep flammable objects like curtains, furniture, and rugs several feet from the fireplace.

Outdoor Safety Tips

Safety during the holidays isn’t limited to inside the house. Take safety measures outdoors, too. Keep the walkways and front porch safe and easy to navigate by shoveling snow and using ice-melt. Doing so will reduce the risk of injuries from falls.

Tips for Home Security

While you’re busy enjoying the holiday, burglars may be watching your home. Deter burglars by keeping curtains closed and bringing packages inside promptly. Use motion-sensing lighting to illuminate the yard after dark.

When you’re away for the holidays, ask a trusted neighbor to monitor your house for suspicious activity. Put the indoor lights on a timer to create the appearance that someone is home. Don’t post announcements online that you’ll be out-of-town. You compromise your home’s safety when you broadcast that it’s unoccupied.

The holidays are a time to relax and enjoy yourself, but it’s important to stay safe and well. Follow these tips for safety during the holidays.

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

6 Ways to Prepare for a Power Outage

6 Ways to Prepare for a Power Outage

Every homeowner should be prepared for a power outage. While most outages are usually resolved in a short time, some last hours or even days. In the event of a major storm or accident, power to your home may be interrupted for quite some time. Here are a few tips to help you prepare for a power outage.

Six Things to Do to Prepare for a Power Outage

Assemble an Emergency Kit

If you lose electricity, the last thing you want is to fumble around searching for supplies. Assemble a power outage emergency kit and store it in an easy-to-access location. Some of the items to include are listed below. Inspect your kit frequently and update it as needed.

  • Flashlights (one for each person in your household)
  • First aid kit
  • Necessary medications
  • Batteries
  • Whistle (to call for help in case of an emergency)
  • Battery-powered radio
  • Cell phone chargers

Store Plenty of Water to Prepare for a Power Outage

While water shortages are uncommon, they can happen if the power goes out for an extended period over a widespread area. On average, you’ll need one gallon of water per person per day. As a rule of thumb, store enough drinking water to last at least 72 hours. You’ll also want to put aside some water for cleaning and personal hygiene.

Stock Up on Non-Perishable Food

When there’s a prolonged power outage, shoppers may empty store shelves quickly. When you’re prepared, you won’t be stressed about finding essential supplies. Stock your pantry with non-perishable foods. Some excellent products to stow away include:

  • Crackers
  • Nuts
  • Powdered milk
  • Canned fish
  • Cereal
  • Granola bars
  • Dried fruit
  • Canned soups and vegetables
  • Instant coffee and tea

When shopping for non-perishable foods, check their expiration dates. You will be storing them for several months, so it’s best if they’re far from expiring. If you purchase canned goods, make sure to include a can opener in your emergency kit.

Plan for Alternative Lighting

Good lighting is essential for safety and comfort. Be ready for a power outage by keeping alternate light sources on hand. You can purchase items like solar lanterns, LED flashlights, and candles. If you opt for the latter, keep matches or lighters nearby. To stay safe, don’t forget to extinguish candles before going to bed or leaving the house.

Purchase a Generator to Prepare for a Power Outage

A backup power source is an excellent way to prepare for a power outage. Purchase a small indoor generator to power items like your cell phone, computer, tablet, or a few lamps. These are lightweight, easy to carry around, and relatively quiet. However, these must be charged overnight before use and they aren’t very powerful.

On the other hand, gas-powered generators don’t have these drawbacks. They use gasoline or propane and can power many of the appliances in your home. However, this type of generator is bulkier and noisier and must be used outdoors.

Plan to Stay Occupied

Power outages can feel like an eternity and may increase the anxiety of some of your family members. Reduce stress by engaging in fun activities. Along with emergency supplies, be prepared with board games, puzzles, books, and magazines to keep everyone occupied. Activities help reduce anxiety and make the time pass more quickly.

Whether you live in a region prone to power outages or not, it’s essential to be prepared. Plan for a power outage by following the tips above to make the blackout more bearable.

American Home Inspection Services provides inspections to customers in Southeastern Michigan. Contact us to request our services.

What to Know About Smoke Detector Placement

What to Know About Smoke Detector Placement

When homeowners consider home safety, protection against house fires comes immediately to mind. The most important defense against house fires is your smoke detectors. Statistics show that 3 out of 5 deaths due to house fires are in homes without working smoke detectors. Review these rules for proper smoke detector placement and make sure they are all followed in your home.

Rules of Thumb for Smoke Detector Placement

There are some basic, common-sense rules for smoke detector placement that should always be followed. While most people have heard them before, it is easy to let them fall by the wayside and cut corners.

  • There should be at least one smoke detector for every level of the home.
  • The smoke detector should be on the ceiling, or on the wall no more than 10 inches from the ceiling.
  • Smoke detectors need to be tested monthly to make sure they are operational.
  • A smoke detection device has a lifespan of about a decade.
  • Change your smoke detector’s batteries when the time changes twice a year.

Commonly Forgotten Areas for Smoke Detectors

Some areas you may not think to install a smoke detector are the laundry room, basement, attic, and garage. Because of the rule that a smoke detector should be on every level, there should be one in the attic and basement whether the furnace is located there or not. Also, they should not only be inside every bedroom but outside of the bedroom doors in the hallways.

Things to Avoid With Smoke Detector Placement

Certain conditions can make a smoke alarm fail to detect smoke. Painting over a smoke detector or otherwise decorating it inhibits its ability to function properly. Don’t install a smoke detector near an air vent, ceiling fan, ventilation fan, or doorway because the movement of air can dissipate the smoke. You won’t be able to rely on your smoke detector to alert you to fire if they are installed in these locations.

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

5 Ways to Make Your Home Healthy and Safe

5 Ways to Make Your Home Healthy and Safe

Your home should be the place where your family is the safest and most comfortable. Regular maintenance is key to keeping your house in good condition. However, appearances aren’t enough. Follow the below five tips to keep your home healthy and safe for years to come.

1. Reduce the Risk of a Fire in Your Home

While no one can eliminate the threat of a fire, there are measures you can take to prevent one. Don’t overload any of your outlets. Make sure nothing is up against your furnace, baseboard heaters, and space heaters. Have fire extinguishers in the kitchen, basement, and garage. Install smoke detectors in several rooms throughout your home including all bedrooms, the attic, and the basement. Check your smoke detector batteries twice a year and replace the units every decade.

2. Prevent Mold to Keep the Home Healthy and Safe

Every homeowner dreads finding mold in their home. Mold is a living organism that makes your home unhealthy. It can wreak havoc on your health if you inhale its spores. It thrives in damp places, so the bathroom and basement are the most common areas where mold can show up. To keep your home healthy and safe from mold, control the moisture levels in your home. A ventilation fan protects your bathroom from growing mold. A dehumidifier and fans can keep your basement dry.

3. Minimize Dust

A buildup of dust in the home is not healthy. Dust mites and other tiny organisms breed in the dust. They can cause skin rashes and breathing problems. Dust is especially problematic for anyone who is allergic to dust, has asthma, or has other respiratory disorders. You can combat dust by dusting regularly with a microfiber cloth, keeping the surfaces clean in your home, and purchasing an air filtration device.

4. Keep Your Drinking Water Pure

The quality of your water is essential to keep a home healthy and safe. Most municipal and well water contains contaminants of some form. You have two options when it comes to purified water. You can either buy bottled water or you can install a water filter. Bottled water promotes waste and is expensive. A water filter comes with an initial expense that will offer you the return of clean drinking and cooking water for years to come.

5. Test for Radon to Make Your Home Healthy and Safe

Radon is a radioactive gas that is often found in the basement. It can increase your risk of lung cancer. Testing is the only way to find out the levels. If you do have high radon levels, hire a mitigation professional to make your home healthy and safe.

When you are conscientious, you can keep your home healthy and safe throughout the years. Reduce hazards like mold, dust, radon, house fires, and polluted drinking water with the above tips.

American Home Inspection Services provides water testing, radon testing, and other home inspection services to Southeast Michigan. Contact us to schedule our services.