Home Inspection Fall Tips #5
Further to our blog on Condensation, recently, think about potential & risk of MOLD build-up and follow advice to reduce the indoor moisture levels – especially during the colder months. Molds are fungi that can be found both indoors and outdoors. Thousands of species of fungi exist. Outdoors, they can be found in shady, damp areas or places where leaves or other vegetation is decomposing. Indoors – they can be found anywhere around us and when humidity levels are high, such as basements, bathrooms or showers – look-out. Molds grow best in damp and humid conditions and spread and reproduce by making new spores. Mold spores can survive harsh environmental conditions, such as prolonged dry conditions, that do not immediately support normal mold growth, much like a dried tea bag and then spring back upon re-wetting.
Keep the De-humidifier running typically a bathroom exhaust fan humming to ensure less humidity in your home, so as to discourage mold growth.
Check caulking around showers, bathtubs, sinks and toilet bases; make repairs as needed.
Know where the outside gas turn off is and how to turn it off and also even in condos and apartments in the case of a gas fireplace. If you ever smell “rotten eggs”, get outside after shutting-off the supply and call for help.
Fire extinguishers. Every home should have at least one fire extinguisher rated for all fire types (look for an A-B-C rating on the label). At a minimum, keep one near the kitchen; having one per floor isn’t a bad idea. Annually, check the indicator on the pressure gauge to make sure the extinguisher is charged & ready for use. Make certain the lock pin is intact and firmly in place and check that the discharge nozzle is not clogged. Clean the extinguisher and check it for dents, scratches and corrosion. Replace if the damage seems severe. Note: Fire extinguishers that are more than six years old should be replaced. Mark the date of purchase on the new unit with a permanent marker, if not obvious.
Fire escape plans. Every bedroom, including basement bedrooms, should at least have two (2) clear exit paths. Make sure windows aren’t blocked by furniture or other items and open wide enough for safe exit. Ideally, each upper-floor bedroom should have a rope ladder near a large enough opening window for emergency exits. Review what to do in case of fire and arrange a safe meeting place for everyone away from the house.
General cleanup. Rid your home of accumulations of old newspapers which can easily absorb moisture and /or be very combustible and leftover hazardous household chemicals (check with your local Environmental Protection Agency about the proper way to discard dangerous chemicals). Store flammable materials and poisons in approved, clearly labeled containers. Keep a clear space around heaters, furnaces and other heat-producing appliances.
Button up your overcoat. A home with air leaks around windows and doors is like a coat left unbuttoned. Gaps in caulking and weather-stripping can account for a 10% of your heating bills. Weather-stripping is easily the most cost-effective way to rein in heating and cooling costs. This humble material also reduces drafts and keeps your home more comfortable year-round. Because weather-stripping can deteriorate over time, it is important to inspect it periodically. If you suspect a problem with weather-stripping, you have several options for checking. Close a door or window on a strip of paper; if the paper slides easily, your weather stripping isn’t doing its job. Or, close the door or window and hold a lighted candle or feather near the frame (don’t let the flame get near anything flammable) ! If the flame flickers at any point along the frame, you have an obvious air-leak.
While you’re at it, also check for missing or damaged caulk around windows, doors, attics and entry points for electrical, cable, phone, gas, and so. Seal any gaps with a suitable caulk. Another way to detect leaks is with a Thermal Leak-Detector, an inexpensive, easy to use tool.
Check your electrical outlets for potential fire hazards such as frayed wires or loose-fitting plugs. Be sure not to overload electrical outlets, fuse boxes, extension cords or any other power service.