Monday, September 30, 2013

How To Secure Your House Effectively With Wireless Burglar Alarms

Technology has improved at a fast pace over the past few years. Not a day goes by without a new technology being released onto the market. Wireless technology was introduced various years ago and has now established itself as prominent figure in the world of technology. You only have to look at your web connection or the printer you own to see how it has been implemented. Another gadget that has well and truly gone wireless is burglar alarms. More and more individuals are deciding to have wireless burglar alarms in their property and it is not tricky to see why.

Unearth the advantages of wireless burglar alarms

One of the various reasons individuals prefer to have a wireless burglar alarm is because they are a lot easier on the eye. They don't need any wires to be dragged around your property. Not only this, but there will be no necessity for any drilling or any holes created in your structure. This is a large gain for most, after all; there is nothing worse than having your house ripped apart so you can have a safety setup implemented. Nevertheless, there is no must concern yourself with any of this if you opt to go down the wireless route.

This leads perfectly onto the next point; speed and ease of installation. As just revealed, the safety company who setup your alarm will not must use any wires or drilling. Because of this the set up is made loads straightforward. There is less workload and less effort needed on their part. This makes life much easier for you and them. After all, you won't have to spend the whole morning making cups of tea for your guests as they drill holes in your house!

Another point worth bearing in mind is the fact that wireless burglar alarms are easily expandable.

You will have the ability to add a ton of assorted devices to your alarm technology. For example, you may wish to add a speed dialler. A speed dialler is a gadget that contacts a set of predetermined numbers once your alarm has been activated. Consequently you can have the gadget set so it contacts a friend or a family member. This is an example of a gadget that can be easily joined to your wireless burglar alarm, yet there is no such flexibility with a wired technology. You would definitely find it loads more hard.

Additionally, wireless burglar alarms can reach areas that otherwise would be impossible. For example, many people want to protect their garage because they keep costly equipment in there. If you were to have a wired burglar alarm setup you would find this really hard. After all, it is probable to be impractical to have wires stretching across your garden to your garage area.

You would be forgiven for believing that wireless burglar alarms are more expensive. After all, they are an improved type of burglar alarm and they clearly offer several gains. However, this is not the case. Cast your mind to the point cited earlier about ease of installation. Because of this factor you will also benefit from paying a lesser cost too because the call-out fee will be dramatically lower.

If that wasn't enough, wireless alarms have an extended life span and have produced positive reviews on a large scales. Most individuals are happy with their wireless burglar alarm and deem it to be a reliable system. You should also consider the fact that your safety is enhanced too. After all, if a burglar knows that you have a wired setup then they can easily cut the wire so to make this ineffective - this is especially the case if the wire is clearly being strung across your garden so to reach your garage!

To conclude, it is quite easy to see that there are various gains associated with owning wireless burglar alarms. In the modern days these innovative technologies are tremendously advised in comparison to the wired offering.

Carlos Luis Florez - We have constructed an incredible reputation as being a safety professional, mainly in the division of Closed-circuit television monitoring and sometimes discuss that know-how through blogging.

If you have concerns I am always pleased to provide my best suggestions. Leave a comment here or drop me a note on my contact page.

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Saturday, September 28, 2013

How To Tile a Bathroom

Step 1: Prepare the Room

Place drop cloths at the base of the walls to be stripped. Remove all switch plates and outlet covers from the walls. Cut the power to the room.

Step 2: Score Wallpaper

Use a wallpaper scorer to create small holes in the paper, which allows the solution to penetrate through to the adhesive base.

Step 3: Mix Solution

While there are a number of commercially prepared solutions available, little works better than hot water and fabric softener. Combine the water and fabric softener in a large spray bottle at a concentration of one to one.
Tip: Mix the solution in small batches to keep the water as hot as possible.

Step 4: Soak Walls

Use a spray bottle to saturate a section of the wallpaper. Spray only as much of the wall as you can comfortably strip in a 15-minute period. Allow the solution to soak the paper for a few minutes before beginning.

Step 5: Strip Wallpaper

Grab pieces of wallpaper at a bottom corner and carefully pull upward. Use a wide putty knife to facilitate the removal of the paper. Repeat the above steps until all the wallpaper is removed.

Step 6: Clean Walls

In a bucket mix a tablespoon of dish detergent with very hot water. Use a sponge to wipe down the walls, scrubbing carefully to remove all traces of wallpaper adhesive. Finally, rinse down the walls with clean water and towel dry.

From the DIY Network

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Jacuzzi Bath Luxury Collection

The Luxury Bathtubs Collection by Jacuzzi sets the standard for high style and advanced features in luxury bathtubs. You can create a custom look with models ranging from contemporary freestanding luxury tub models, complete with decorative wood accents, to slipper tubs with Edwardian-era claw feet, and walk-in luxury bathtubs.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Home Repairs That Are Best Left to the Experts

Do it yourself projects have increasingly become all-the-rage due to the recent changes in the economy, which has prompted many homeowners to take on duty after duty in order to save some of their hard-earned money. While there are an abundance of jobs around the majority of households that you can easily do on your own, other difficult-to-complete chores truly need the attention of a seasoned professional who is an expert in their chosen field.

Here is a basic list of some of the most common home-based projects, and whether they are worth trying to carry out yourself.
• Electrical work: A large amount of electrical work is far too dangerous for an amateur to attempt on their own, especially without supervision. Wires can cause destruction to circuits and even fatally wound you.
• Plumbing: If it goes beyond the visible pipes and deep into the walls or flooring, it is highly advisable that you let a plumber tackle any water-related tasks around the house. Costly errors and significant mistakes can lead to serious flooding and extensive amounts of expensive-to-remedy damages.
• Roof repairs: If your roof has recently become damaged through extreme weather conditions, or it is simply in dire need of being repaired due to years of wear and tear, the risk of injury is rather high if you don't fully know what you're doing, or you are unaware of the dangers inherent in work of this nature. In cases such as this, it is highly recommended to play it safe and have a trained professional do the job for you instead.
• Customizing the inside of your home: Installing a luxury whirlpool or installing entire new recreational rooms into your home should be done professionally, as more complex calculations come into play involving dimensions and spacing. Furthermore, although it seems easy enough to the untrained and inexperienced eye, interior demolition is an art, and tearing down walls and structures could put you at risk of injury.
• Fencing in backyard areas: Countless complex calculations go into installing a high-quality fence, which can take a team of experienced workers several days to complete. Such hands-on projects are better left to the professionals.
• Complex landscaping: By all means feel free to cut your own backyard grass and care for your garden bushes and flower arrangements, but trying to chop down that obstinate, colossal oak tree that's been in the exact same location for the past 100 years will probably be out of your league.

Other than these more complicated projects, everything else around your home can be done yourself, such as creative decorations, furniture creation or modification, wallpapering, painting and minimal maintenance work. Essentially, if the chore seems too big and difficult to handle, then your gut instinct might just be correct.

With the fall months arriving soon, it's the ideal time to contact a HVAC professional who can address any air conditioning concerns you may have. If any of the following common AC unit problems begin, it's best for an industry professional to come out and handle the matter sooner rather than later:
• Standing water around the base of your AC unit.
• Improper refrigerant levels causing a leak.
• Electrical control failure usually occurs with older units and years of extended use.
• Drainage problems are caused if your unit starts to get clogged at the condensation drain.
• Heat sensor issues: If the unit is acting erratically, it's a good sign that the heat sensor isn't doing its job properly.

With over three decades of experience, Jim Donley's family-owned and operated business offers certified technicians every hour of the day. For more information on our expert heating, plumbing, air conditioning, solar panel heating and water systems, and other maintenance management services, please visit us online at Donley Service Center or, alternatively, you can call us on (602) 870-6840.

We are proud to serve residents living in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale and Glendale. -

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Sunday, September 22, 2013

All About Garage Doors

When choosing a garage door, it is important to consider the appearance, material, construction and method of operation (manual or automatic). Garage doors are usually either tilt-up or sectional roll-up. They are offered with flush, raised panel or recessed panel designs. Your decision will depend on budget, design and the structure of the garage itself — you may need more than one door in a double garage.

Automatic Door Openers:
Today's garage-door openers offer photoelectric safety devices that reverse the door if an object breaks the light beam, door openers on key chains, openers with security codes and electronic openers, which also operate lights and other electronic devices in the home. Electric garage openers also function as the garage lock, making it very difficult for an intruder to lift your door from the outside.

With all of the safety devices, one of the surprise frustrations electronic door openers bring is the inability to open during a power outage. Installing an emergency release kit on your garage door will enable you to open the door manually in the event that there is no power to operate it.
Types of Doors

Garage doors, traditionally made of wood, are now available in various materials. Steel and aluminum are commonly used, as is fiberglass. The latter is particularly popular, because it is lightweight, strong and easy to maintain. Weight is an important consideration; a lightweight door is particularly desirable if it is large, or if an automatic system is being installed. If you plan to install doors yourself, even lightweight ones will be difficult to handle alone, so make sure you have help during installation. Also remember to think about your old doors. They are not small items, and you may have to make special arrangements for their disposal.

Steel Tilt-Up:
Although not as light as fiberglass doors, steel canopies still provide a relatively lightweight feel, and are easy to open and close by hand.

Fiberglass Tilt-Up:
This type of door is made of lightweight material, and has a pivot mechanism allowing for easy opening and closing by hand.

Opening and Closing Mechanisms:
Garage doors have a wide variety of opening and closing mechanisms. Some are similar to those used by other entrance doors, and some are used only with garage doors. Sectional (roll-up) garage doors are the most popular type offered. One-piece doors are typically less expensive, but require more headroom in the garage. These doors are often called tilt-up or swing-up doors. Almost any type of door can be automated.

Tilt-Up: Canopy:
Canopy tilt-up doors have a pivoting hinge mechanism that allows the door to be lifted upward and slid back at ceiling level into the garage. A portion of the base of the door protrudes from the garage, providing a small overhang or "canopy." This is the simplest tilt-up mechanism, and the system is secured to the sides of the frame, saving space.

Electric Door Operation:
There are three basic types of electronic garage doors: screw drive, chain drive, and belt drive. Most electronic systems are based on a ceiling-mounted electric motor, linked to the door through a mechanism that pushes or pulls the door closed or opens it. Another type of system, called torsion, does not need a chain, belt, or screw. And unlike other systems, a torsion-operated garage door does not require the overhead tracks and ceiling-mounted box.

Some systems can be added to existing doors, in which case it may not be necessary to purchase a new door. However, there may still be a need to modify the opening mechanism of the existing door in order to incorporate an electric opener, so if you are adding the electric system retrospectively, take the time to choose a design of opener that best suits your existing door. The systems are for use with tilt-up doors, but there are other types available that work equally well with side-opening doors.

The motor is electrically operated and secured to the ceiling. A belt or chain held in the rail mechanism connects the motor with the door. Most motors are operated by remote control, and have safety devices that prevent the door from trying to close when obstructed. A 1/2 hp motor should lift most typical garage doors.

Automated Retractable Door:
A typical installation for automating this type of door involves a central rail with a motorized belt or chain. This moves an arm, which in turn pulls the door up or pushes it down.

Automated Retractable Garage Door:

Courtesy of DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited
Maintaining Your Garage Door

Like anything you use every day, you grow accustomed to counting on your garage door to function without problem. To keep your garage door running smoothly, tracks should be cleaned, rollers lubricated, and screws checked and tightened. Springs should not be rusty or have bulges. Also test your garage door's reversing feature monthly to make sure it is operating safely. For more information about garage doors and safety, visit the International Doors Association at


Excerpted from Do It Yourself Home Improvement

Friday, September 20, 2013

IsThere Fungus Among Us?

Mold has taken hold! Not that the microbes have reached out and grabbed us, but rather they have captured our attention. A rash of recent high profile media stories have petrified many people with concerns for both their health and finances. While it is true in some situations that variations and concentrations of mold can kill us both physically and financially, in the vast majority of cases mold problems can be remedied simply and economically.

Molds exist naturally all around us. Molds play a vital role in the decomposition of organic waste such as in a compost pile. Other molds are essential in the creation of some of our finest foods, such as wine and cheese. But, when mold growth occurs in an inappropriate place or in extreme concentration, the health of our home and family can be at risk.

All molds need two basic ingredients to grow, food and water. The favorite food of mold is cellulose. In our home, cellulose is a common constituent. Wood, paper, cotton, and drywall are plentiful in construction and are great sources of cellulose. Water is everywhere in our homes, both on the surfaces and in the air.

As the tightness of our homes has increased in response to a desire to conserve energy, the unintended consequence has been the trapping of moisture. The increase in moisture in our homes has in some cases resulted in a relative humidity above the 60% level needed to sustain mold growth in interior spaces. In some cases, the moisture level of the interior spaces is below the mold growth threshold, but the exterior wall cavities retain the required moisture level for rapid mold growth within the walls. To make matters worse, this condition is also perfect for accelerated wood rot and termite infestation.

So what is a reasonable person to do? Much like a physical exam is the first step in a plan for personal health, a home inspection is the first step in a mold survey. The intent of the inspection is to seek out all sources of moisture that may contribute to an environment that is attractive to mold and to visually identify any existing mold colonies. Roof leaks, plumbing leaks, and improper sprinkler positioning are among the more common sources of mold-causing moisture problems. After identification of the moisture source, a reasonable and practical remedy can be prescribed.

Areas with visible mold colonies can be thoroughly cleaned with detergent, followed by wiping with a bleach and water solution. Porous materials such as ceiling tiles and carpet are difficult to clean and often require removal and replacement in all but the most minor of outbreaks.

In most cases, testing to determine mold species is not necessary to solve the problem. If an individual has an extreme or specific health risk factor, testing may be of value in assisting the medical professional in addressing the specific health situation. If the outbreak of mold is extreme, testing maybe wise in ensuring safety during remediation. The choice to test or not should always rest with the homeowner or potential homebuyer, but the decision should be an informed one made with the assistance of an ASHI certified home inspector who has received additional training specific to mold management.

With a basic understanding of the management of moisture, household mold maintenance is simple. Molds have been around forever and will never be gone, and it is good that they are here. But like so many things, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. Stay informed, but don't get caught up in the hype. Remember, it's about knowing!

by Wally Conway ©2001-Present ArticleCity.com


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Protect Your Home - Evaluate your risk

Power or voltage surges are brief bursts of energy caused by a sudden change in the electrical conditions of a circuit. Wherever electrical or electronic equipment is used, power surges can and do occur. While often lasting only a millisecond, power surges can raise the voltage in electronic circuits from a few hundred to as much as several thousand volts. They are one of the most severe, common and immediate dangers to modern, sensitive electronic equipment.

The resulting damage can range from loss of expensive electronic equipment to structure fires that destroy an entire house.

What Causes Power Surges

  •     Lightning can create strong electromagnetic fields, which can induce a power surge.
  •     Risk factors include your location and frequency of lightning and thunderstorms.
  •     See the map 1997-2007 Average U.S. Lightning Flash Density Map to determine your exposure to lightning flashes.
  •     Homes in areas subject to an average flash density of 10 to 14 fl/sq km/yr or greater have a severe exposure to lightning.
Local Power System Problems
  •     A common source for externally generated surges in home is the local electric company. Problems and points of failure include faulty wiring by a utility, equipment breakdowns, downed power lines, grid shifting (reallocating stored energy to match demand), and capacitor switching (a routine, daily event).
  •     Homes connected to power grids that may include industrial parks and manufacturing facilities have increased exposure to power surges.
  •     Large users connected to the same power line can also create power surges.
  •     Large electrical equipment that frequently turn on and off, such as high-powered motors, production equipment, heating/air conditioning equipment, etc., can create sudden, brief demands for power that can upset the steady voltage flow in the electrical system and result in power surges affecting everyone connected to the same power line.
  •     Externally generated surges may also be caused when two power lines come into contact with each other as a result of vehicle crashes damaging power poles, fallen tree limbs, ice storms or animals.
Reduce risk of damage from lightning and electrical surge
  •     For protection from lightning strikes in the general area of your home and externally produced surge, a whole-house surge protector is the best starting point for reducing the risk of damage or a fire.
  •     It is important to make sure that it is either a secondary surge arrestor tested to IEEE C62.11 or a transient voltage suppressor that has been tested to UL 1449, 2nd Edition.
  •     The protector should be installed in accordance with Article 280 or Article 285 of the National Electrical Code (as is applicable) and must have a working indicator light.
  •     A number of power companies have programs to provide and install the whole-building surge protection.
  •     If this is not available in your area, consult a licensed electrician.
  •     Protection should extend beyond the whole-building surge protection.
IBHS strongly recommends the following:
  •     Install additional protection for important or expensive electronic equipment.
  •     This should include localized surge protection for power cords to the electronic equipment and any telephone and cable/satellite TV lines connecting to the equipment.
  •     These devices are available at most home improvement and electronics stores.
  •     It is important for the home’s electrical system to be properly grounded in accordance with Article 250 of the National Electrical Code. Also, all utilities (telephone, electrical, and cable or satellite TV) should be bonded to the same grounding point and preferably all enter your home within 10-feet of each other. This will ensure proper operation of the surge protection system and prevent ground potentials from developing between various elements of the electrical and communications systems.
  •     Have a licensed electrician determine whether your incoming line and disconnect box is properly grounded. If not, have them provide the proper grounding.
  •     Have them also review the power, telephone, electrical and cable/satellite TV connections to your building and improve the grounding if necessary.
Note: Whole house surge protection will not protect you from a direct strike on your house. For added protection from a direct strike, you would need to add receptors on the roof and cables that would help direct the strike away from the interior of your house. Homes in areas subject to an average flash density of 10 to 14 fl/sq km/yr or greater as defined in the Figure – “1997-2007 Average U.S. Lightning Flash Density Map” shown above have an increased exposure to lightning. Homeowners in these areas and those in other areas who are particularly concerned about a direct lightening strike should consider installing a lightning protection system.

Lightning protection systems are designed to protect a structure and provide a specified path to harness and safely ground the super-charged current of the lightning bolt. The system neither attracts nor repels a strike, but receives the strike and routes it harmlessly into the earth, thus discharging the dangerous electrical event.

If a lightning protection systems is to be installed for the home, it should be designed and installed in accordance with:
  •     National Fire Protection Assoc. (NFPA) 780, Standard for the Installation of Lightning Protection Systems
  •     Underwriters’ Laboratories, Inc. (UL) Standard 96A, Installation Requirements for Lightning Protection Systems
  •     Lightning Protection Institute (LPI) Standard 175, Standard of Practice for the Design – Installation – Inspection of Lightning Protection Systems
  •     All materials should comply in weight, size, and composition with the requirements of the UL 96 Materials Standards.
  •     All equipment should be UL listed and properly labeled.
  •     Equipment should be the manufacturer’s latest approved design of construction to suit the application where it is to be used in accordance with accepted industry standards and with NFPA, LPI, & UL requirements.
  •     Standards and References for Lightning and Surge Protection
  •     Underwriters Laboratory 96A Standard For Safety-Installation Requirements for Lightning Protection Systems
  •     Underwriters Laboratory 452 Standard for Safety- Antenna Discharge Units
  •     Underwriters Laboratory 497A Standard for Safety-Secondary Protectors for Communication Circuits
  •     Underwriters Laboratory 498 Standard for Safety-Receptacle and Receptacle Plugs (Including Direct Plug-In Devices)
  •     Underwriters Laboratory 544 Standard for Safety-Medical and Dental Equipment
  •     Underwriters Laboratory 1283 Standard for Safety-Electromagnetic Interference Filters
  •     Underwriters Laboratory 1363 Standard for Safety-Temporary Power Taps (Power Strips)
  •     Underwriters Laboratory 1449 Standard for Safety-Transient Voltage Surge Suppressors
  •     National Fire Protection Association 70 National Electric Code
  •     Lightning Protection Institute (LPI) Standard 175, Standard of Practice for the Design – Installation – Inspection of Lightning Protection Systems
  •     Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers – C62 Collection of Guides and Standards for Surge Protection
  •     Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers – C62.41 Guide for Surge Voltages in Low Voltage AC Power Circuits
  •     Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers – C62.45 Guide on Surge Testing for Equipment Connected To Low Voltage AC Power Circuits
  •     Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (std 1100) Emerald Book
  •     Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers Emerald Book (std 1100) FIPS 94
  •     Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers C62.41 Manufacturers (Allan Bradley, Motorola, other suppliers)
  •     National Electrical Manufactures Association LS-1 Low Voltage Surge Protective Devices
  •     National Electrical Manufactures Association LS-1

© 2012 Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety

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Monday, September 16, 2013

Curb appeal is key in selling a house

Curb appeal has always been a key component of selling a home. A well-manicured lawn, fresh paint on the front door and a clean exterior — from siding to windows to driveways and sidewalks — can immediately entice or repel a prospective buyer.

Nowadays, with the majority of buyers shopping for homes online before ever stepping foot on a property, the trick for sellers is to capture that curb appeal through photographs. Jim Hughes of Greenwell Realty and Property Management in Andover, Minn., recommends homeowners hire a professional photographer to help them capture their curb appeal to lure in buyers.

“The quality of the photograph is almost as important as the curb appeal itself,” Hughes said. “We’ll see great pictures that are taken in dim light or from bad angles all the time and they’ll get dismissed just as quickly as those (homes) that are not well-prepared (in curb appeal). That first glimpse might be the only shot you’ll get at the buyer having interest in your home.”

Once you get that prospective buyer on your property, how the home looks from the outside and immediately upon entering is key to drawing in or turning off a buyer, Hughes said.

“You want to make darned sure your entryway is super clean,” Hughes said. “People should feel comfortable walking in your house in their (socks). The first impression is the main reason for that, but the second reason is they’re really looking for a critical reason to eliminate the house while their Realtor is (unlocking the door). At that time, the buyer’s senses are overwhelmed. They’re absorbing everything they see with a lot more detail than once they get inside.”

Aside from general exterior maintenance — cleaning cobwebs, clearing the yard of any weeds, debris or decorative ornaments (think pink flamingos) — homeowners looking to sell should repair cracked windows or screens, fix small nuisances like a broken doorbell, and add fresh mulch or stones to garden beds. Cleaning asphalt roofs of black streaks, power washing siding and sidewalks, or sealcoating an asphalt driveway, can all enhance the appearance of the home.

Adding a fresh coat of paint is another cost-effective way to freshen up a home, inside or out.If your home is older and in need of updates, kitchens and bathrooms are the rooms that generate the most return on your investment. Consider upgrading laminate countertops with quartz or granite; changing out old light fixtures or replacing brass fixtures with brushed nickel, said Robin Burrill an interior designer and CEO of Curb Appeal Renovations in Keller, Texas.

Before embarking on any remodeling project, though, it’s important to talk with your contractor and real estate agent to make sure the project makes sense, will generate the return you’re seeking and fits with the other existing properties in your neighborhood.

“I think the most important facet is making sure whatever you do, that the remodel looks like it goes with the house,” Burrill said. “So many times, we’ll see people do a room addition or an outdoor living space and it doesn’t look like it goes with the home. A perfect example would be a patio cover. They’ll do a shed roof or a flat roof for a patio cover, whereas, if they had gone ahead and spent the money and went with (a style) that fits that home, it would add so much to that curb appeal and to the value of the home.”

Hiring a good real estate professional can help you decide the right projects to get the most out of your curb appeal. Hughes retains a professional home stager on staff to help prepare his clients homes for sale.

“Good curb appeal is like having an auction to sell everything you own,” Hughes said. “If, on the day of the auction, you get a big rainstorm, you’re not going to get much money for your items because the audience will be smaller. Essentially, the same is true with curb appeal. If you do a good job on curb appeal, you’ll have more buyers that are interested. Though they might not make offers, you’ll have a larger audience of buyers.”

 By Angie Hicks

Angie Hicks is the founder of Angie’s List.

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Saturday, September 14, 2013

Every Homeowner Should Own These Tools

The following items are essential tools, but this list is by no means exhaustive. Feel free to ask an InterNACHI inspector during your next inspection about other tools that you might find useful.

1.  Plunger
A clogged sink or toilet is one of the most inconvenient household problems that you will face. With a plunger on hand, however, you can usually remedy these plumbing issues relatively quickly. It is best to have two plungers -- one for the sink and one for the toilet.

2.  Combination Wrench Set
One end of a combination wrench set is open and the other end is a closed loop. Nuts and bolts are manufactured in standard and metric sizes, and because both varieties are widely used, you’ll need both sets of wrenches. For the most control and leverage, always pull the wrench toward you, instead of pushing on it. Also, avoid over-tightening.

3.  Slip-Joint Pliers
Use slip-joint pliers to grab hold of a nail, a nut, a bolt, and much more. These types of pliers are versatile because of the jaws, which feature both flat and curved areas for gripping many types of objects. There is also a built-in slip-joint, which allows the user to quickly adjust the jaw size to suit most tasks.

4.  Adjustable WrenchCaulking gun
Adjustable wrenches are somewhat awkward to use and can damage a bolt or nut if they are not handled properly. However, adjustable wrenches are ideal for situations where you need two wrenches of the same size. Screw the jaws all the way closed to avoid damaging the bolt or nut.

5.  Caulking Gun
Caulking is the process of sealing up cracks and gaps in various structures and certain types of piping. Caulking can provide noise mitigation and thermal insulation, and control water penetration. Caulk should be applied only to areas that are clean and dry.

6.  Flashlight
None of the tools in this list is of any use if you cannot visually inspect the situation. The problem, and solution, are apparent only with a good flashlight. A traditional two-battery flashlight is usually sufficient, as larger flashlights may be too unwieldy.

7.  Tape Measure
Measuring house projects requires a tape measure -- not a ruler or a yardstick. Tape measures come in many lengths, although 25 feet is best.  Measure everything at least twice to ensure accuracy. 

8.  Hacksaw
A hacksaw is useful for cutting metal objects, such as pipes, bolts and brackets. Torpedo levelHacksaws look thin and flimsy, but they’ll easily cut through even the hardest of metals. Blades are replaceable, so focus your purchase on a quality hacksaw frame.

9. Torpedo Level
Only a level can be used to determine if something, such as a shelf, appliance or picture, is correctly oriented. The torpedo-style level is unique because it not only shows when an object is perfectly horizontal or vertical, but it also has a gauge that shows when an object is at a 45-degree angle. The bubble in the viewfinder must be exactly in the middle -- not merely close.

10.  Safety Glasses / Goggles
For all tasks involving a hammer or a power tool, you should always wear safety glasses or goggles. They should also be worn while you mix chemicals.

11.  Claw Hammer
A good hammer is one of the most important tools you can own.  Use it to drive and remove nails, to pry wood loose from the house, and in combination with other tools. They come in a variety of sizes, although a 16-ounce hammer is the best all-purpose choice.

12.  Screwdriver Set
It is best to have four screwdrivers: a small and large version of both a flathead and a Phillips-head screwdriver. Electrical screwdrivers areWire cutter sometimes convenient, but they're no substitute.  Manual screwdrivers can reach into more places and they are less likely to damage the screw.
13.  Wire Cutters
Wire cutters are pliers designed to cut wires and small nails. The side-cutting style (unlike the stronger end-cutting style) is handy, but not strong enough to cut small nails.

14.  Respirator / Safety Mask
While paints and other coatings are now manufactured to be less toxic (and lead-free) than in previous decades, most still contain dangerous chemicals, which is why you should wear a mask to avoid accidentally inhaling. A mask should also be worn when working in dusty and dirty environments. Disposable masks usually come in packs of 10 and should be thrown away after use. Full and half-face respirators can be used to prevent the inhalation of very fine particles that ordinary facemasks will not stop.
15.  Duct Tape
This tape is extremely strong and adaptable. Originally, it was widely used to make temporary repairs to many types of military equipment. Today, it’s one of the key items specified for home emergency kits because it is water-resistant and extremely sticky.
 by Nick Gromicko and Rob London

From 15 Tools Every Homeowner Should Own - InterNACHI

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Home Staging Makes Your Property Appealing to Buyers

Planning to sell your home and at profit? Then, you need to know what prospects look for while purchasing a home. According to a study conducted by Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, better presentation is the key to sell a home and to reduce time for listing in real-estate market. The survey indicates that one in each three buyers looks for homes that need minimal repairs. This shows the importance of home staging before selling the house. In this article, let us know more about home staging, staging methods and their advantages.

What is home staging?
It is the art of highlighting a home's strengths by making it brighter, cleaner, more visually appealing, without major renovations. It makes prospects of selling the home better in a short span market listing.

Home staging can be done either by home owners or professionals, and involves not just decorating, but minor repairs at eye catching locations such as doors, fireplace, floors, windows, electric switches, removing contents that are likely to distract buyers' mind and making sure that it is not too dark in the interior of the home.

These amendments maximize all rooms functionality and create potential sense of inspiring buyer's mind that benefits you to sell with profits.

Different methods
• Partial home staging: This is best for those owners who want to sell with minimal investments to present homes to prospective buyers. This involves rearranging furniture, fixing masonry cracks, painting with attractive colors, adding greenery, removing outdated housing hardware units, improves lighting, and adding interior decorations. Planning for partial home staging is to amend things which buyers usually look for in general.
• Full home staging: It is a way of adding a new set of furnishings, art work, accessories to present the home in it's best to show in an eye-popping setup to buyers. Full home staging is very effective in real-estate marketplaces and gives your property an overall perfection that makes it sell at a profit and within a short span of time. It involves installing a whole new set of furniture, creating comfortable room environment, arranging furniture to create focal points, giving art work and decorating.

Home staging benefits you to present your home for a good impression that enables faster sale with a higher number of referrals and a better sale price. Buyers themselves come for your home and this makes it to last for fewer days in real-estate market.

Other benefits are - it creates an effective visual appeal. This makes buyers spend more time to connect with the home, and enables them to overcome stress of sales competition. Also, staged homes give buyers a feel that they are well furnished and maintained, bring in additional value to them, and makes it easy for your prospects in decision making. provides tips and information on various categories including business, technology, health, society, and living. These news updates and tips are helpful in daily living and provide thought provoking ideas on various news items.


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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Leaky Roof

There is almost nothing more concerning to a homeowner or buyer than buying a home with a leaky roof. While our roof plays an important structural role in the design of the home, we most of all depend on our roof to keep us dry in the rain and when our roof leaks it is a major concern.

Why do Roofs Leak?
Water flows under the force of gravity and winds and is always trying to follow the path of least resistance. When the path of least resistance allows water to get past the roofing system, a leak will develop. Roof systems are largely divided into ‘flat roof’ systems or ‘steep roof’ systems. 

A 'steep roof' system uses layers of roofing products like tiles or shingles to create a series of umbrellas that water flows down as it follows gravity. These umbrellas are typically installed in at least two layers at any point and there is often an underlying tar paper or plastic material as a last line of water defense. Leaks tend to happen most often at weak spots in the roof coverage like at chimneys, pluming stacks, skylights, and changes in roofing materials or angles. The roof system in these areas is penetrated and if the roof material and flashing is not correctly installed and maintained, it creates a risk area for water to penetrate. When the leak occurs in an area of concentrated water flow like a roof valley, leaks can be quite severe.

Flat roof systems require the entire surface of the roof to be water tight. Leaks in flat roofs can be caused by failing roof products, poor maintenance at roof penetrations, or by mechanical damaged often caused by people.

How Can I Tell if My Roof is About to Leak?
Roofs are very unpredictable as to when they will fail. New roofs that are poorly installed can leak in the first rain fall and roofs that have worked excellent for 15 years may fail suddenly on the 16th year. Regular maintenance is needed on roof systems in order to ensure the material is solid and that any roof penetrations are water tight. Most roof systems have a life span around 20 years. Having a roofing contractor begin an annual maintenance program on the roof when it is about 10 years old can help to extend the life of the roof to the maximum amount and reduce the risk of leaks prior to roof replacement.

My Roof is Leaking, How Big a Repair Job is It?
Small leaks in roofs can be a very big nuisance. First, water can flow down surfaces in the roof before eventually showing a leak on the interior ceiling. This can create a big challenge for roofing contractors to find the leak, especially a small one. Even with a small leak found and patched, the repairs to the interior of the home can be very disruptive and likely will cost more than the roof repair.

Major (or multiple) roof leaks may suggest that the roof material has reached the end of its service life and needs replacement. This can be a very expensive job for home owners but replacing a roof every 20 years or so it part of regular maintenance on a home and should be budgeted for by home owners.

What do Home Inspectors Look for When is Comes to Leaks?
As we have discussed, roofing systems can fail unpredictably. SitePro Inspectors are doing a visual assessment of the roof looking for damage to the roofing material, quality of installation, correct flashing, signs of regular maintenance, and trying to estimate the remaining life of the roof. Common roofing comments from a home inspector may include:
  • ·         No Deficiencies Observed/Satisfactory - At the time of the SitePro home inspection, the home inspector determined the roof material was in good condition and in the early to middle part of the roof material life expectancy. The home inspector visually does not have concerns about the roof in the near future. This is not a guarantee the roof won’t leak, it is just that as a trained observer, your home inspector cannot see a problem during the visual home inspection.
  • Maintenance Needed/Further Evaluation by a Contractor – The SitePro home inspector can see some concerns on the roof system and it needs some maintenance which should always be done by a roofing contractor. This maintenance may be flashing details that need improvement, missing roofing materials, or areas that may need some repair. The inspector may categorize the concern as minor maintenance or a bigger repair job.
  • ·         Roof Nearing End of Service Life, Budget for Replacement - In these cases, the SitePro home inspector is observing that the roof system even with maintenance will need replacement soon. Home buyers should not fear this comment as all roofs need replacement and the home inspector is giving the home buyer notice before purchasing the property to anticipate the upcoming expense.

Final Thoughts
Water is a very unpredictable element. It can be driven under our roofing systems in heavy winds or find the smallest of cracks in a roof system in which to leak into our homes. The best prevention for roof leaks is regular maintenance during the roof life cycle and preventive replacement at the end of the expected service life of the material. 

SitePro, LLC
Van Hibberts
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Sunday, September 8, 2013

Wood Rot and Home Maintenance

When we look around our neighborhoods’ it is easy to think that we humans are in control,  but nature does not agree. Our coastal homes in the wet Florida coast were built over tree farms and marsh and the moisture from the humidity around us carries spores and organisms. Given the right conditions, these organisms will attach to our homes and the damage done as our homes deteriorate we call ‘rot’.

Where Does Rot Grow?
Organisms that create rot grow where there are organic materials, moisture, and warmth. Organic material is commonly wood siding or trim materials but if the rot is advanced, it can also be the wood siding and even structural walls of our homes. We have all seen images of old farm houses and barns left to rot and over time they suffer from structural collapse.

What areas are susceptible to Rot?
Air movement and sunshine are the best tools at drying the exterior of our homes. Unfortunately, the north sides of our homes see very little sun in the winter months which makes this area the most susceptible to rot. Allowing vines or other vegetation to grow against the sides of our homes can also prevent the sun and air to dry out our homes. Storage placed against our homes can also restrict movement with one of the worst stored items being wood piles which are a constant source of rot causing organisms and wood eating insects.

Another high source of moisture can come from the ground itself either through direct contact with soil or through water wicked up concrete. Flower beds and planters placed along the side of the house can quickly create rot at and below the soil level causing non-visible damage to the exterior and structure. It is best to have 6-8” of foundation visible around your entire home to ensure the house is held above the water found in soil.

How do I Stop Rot?
Wood is an amazing building product as it can absorb and release water without damaging the structural integrity of the wood fibers. However, once rot has done damage to the wood fibers, the damage is permanent. It is possible to repair areas with small amounts of rot and protect them with a new coat of paint but when large areas are effected by rot, wood products may require replacement.

Replacing wood trim occasionally is considered regular home maintenance. Keeping wood trim and siding painted or stained regularly can also encourage drying and slow the effects of organic growth. If regular maintenance, particularly on wood sided homes, is neglected for a long period the costs of repair and replacement can be very significant to the home and may involve repairing structural areas.

What Does a Home Inspector Look for with Rot?
SitePro inspectors are looking for signs of rot to determine if there is maintenance needed, minor repairs needed, or major repairs needed. SitePro inspectors are looking for visual signs of rot and may probe sample areas to see if rot is perhaps concealed under paint.

Unfortunately, rot can often be hidden by soil levels, storage and vegetation, or concealed with paint which will not be visible during a SitePro inspection.

Final Thoughts
Preventing rot is about regular maintenance. Ensuring that your home has adequate clearance from the ground, removing vegetation and storage from the outside of the home, maintaining paint and caulking, and doing minor repairs as needed can keep your home free of major rot for its lifetime

Van Hibberts, CMI

Certified Residential Building Code Inspector ICC-5319905
Florida-State Certified Master Home Inspector Lic. #HI89
Florida-Certified Wind Mitigation Inspector
203(k) FHA/HUD Consultant #A0900
WDO Certificate #JE190791 
NACHI #10071802
362 Gulf Breeze Parkway, #214
Gulf Breeze, Florida 32561
850.934.6800  (Office)
850.485.3209  (Cell / Text Msg)
"Looking Beyond The Obvious"

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DISCLAIMER: The information in this communication is confidential and may be legally privileged. It is intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to whom it is addressed and other authorized to receive it. If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any disclosure, copying, distribution or taking any action in reliance of the contents of this information is strictly prohibited and may be unlawful. If you have received this message in error, please contact the sender immediately by return e-mail. SitePro LLC is neither liable for the proper nor complete transmission of the information contained in this communication nor for any delay in its receipt.

SitePro Residential and Commericial Inspections has taken every reasonable precaution to ensure that any attachment to this e-mail has been swept for viruses. However, we cannot accept liability for any damage sustained as a result of viruses and would advise that you carry out your own virus check before opening any attachment. This e-mail is meant to communicate company related materials only. Opinions expressed by the author of this e-mail are solely his/her own. SitePro Residential and Commericial Inspections will not be liable for opinions expressed in this e-mail.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Not even 9 months into our fiscal year, 2013 has already passed 2012's inspection numbers!

Well, nobody can accuse us of not celebrating our successes. Despite a tough real estate and insurance markets, and more competitors entering our space every day, at SitePro we continue to show tremendous growth in clients, home inspections, insurance inspections and commercial inspections. As of today, just a little more than 1/2 way into our fiscal year, we’ve provided more inspections than we did in all of 2012.

We’ve done a very good job of scheduling our clients to maximize our sales, additionally we have maximized our scheduling conflicts this year with our new programs, and starting in the immediately, SitePro has partnered with ADT to provide alarms systems to all of your clients FREE. For more information, contact us at 850-934-6800

Thanks again to all our great clients and business partners and we look forward to serving many more great clients in the back half of 2013 and for years to come.

Van Hibberts, CMI

Certified Residential Building Code Inspector ICC-5319905
Florida-State Certified Master Home Inspector Lic. #HI89
Florida-Certified Wind Mitigation Inspector
203(k) FHA/HUD Consultant #A0900
WDO Certificate #JE190791 
NACHI #10071802
362 Gulf Breeze Parkway, #214
Gulf Breeze, Florida 32561
850.934.6800  (Office)
850.485.3209  (Cell / Text Msg)
"Looking Beyond The Obvious"

Nothing in this message is intended to constitute an electronic signature unless a specific statement to the contrary is included in this message.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this communication is confidential and may be legally privileged. It is intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to whom it is addressed and other authorized to receive it. If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any disclosure, copying, distribution or taking any action in reliance of the contents of this information is strictly prohibited and may be unlawful. If you have received this message in error, please contact the sender immediately by return e-mail. SitePro LLC is neither liable for the proper nor complete transmission of the information contained in this communication nor for any delay in its receipt.

SitePro Residential and Commericial Inspections has taken every reasonable precaution to ensure that any attachment to this e-mail has been swept for viruses. However, we cannot accept liability for any damage sustained as a result of viruses and would advise that you carry out your own virus check before opening any attachment. This e-mail is meant to communicate company related materials only. Opinions expressed by the author of this e-mail are solely his/her own. SitePro Residential and Commericial Inspections will not be liable for opinions expressed in this e-mail.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Choosing a Manufactured Home

Manufactured homes no longer have to be the simple, rectangular, boxy trailer homes of the past. Depending on the size of your home site, you can choose from single-section or multi-section designs. Homes range in size from 900 to 2,500 square feet, and can be customized to meet your needs and preferences.  
What features are available?
The interior design of your home can include many of the custom features available in a conventional home. Because most manufacturers use computer-assisted design, you'll have flexibility in choosing variations of floor plans and d├ęcor. You can also choose from a variety of exterior designs, depending on your taste and budget. Exterior siding comes in an array of colors and materials, including metal, vinyl, wood and cementitious sidings, which are virtually fireproof. Awnings, enclosures around the crawlspace, patio covers, decks and steps also are available.
How much can I expect to pay for a home?
Depending on the size, floor plans and any custom features, a new home can cost anywhere from $15,000 to more than $100,000. This price doesn't include land.
What financing options are available?
Your retailer usually can provide information about financing. You can also check with lenders in your area. Just as there are choices when you buy a site-built home, there are a variety of financing options when you buy a manufactured home. Down payments and loan terms are similar to conventional loans (5% to 10% of the manufactured home's sales price), and loan terms from 15 to 30 years. Most lenders offer fixed- and variable-rate loans, and most have programs that allow you to "buy the rate down." If you own or plan to purchase the land where you will place your home, traditional mortgage financing can often be arranged.
What other costs can I expect to pay?
While your mortgage payment may be your biggest expense, you'll have other regular and periodic payments which will vary with your circumstances. Regular expenses may include utilities, property taxes, land rental fees, insurance, routine maintenance, and other service fees, such as water and sewer. Today's manufactured homes are built to meet new national energy standards set by HUD. The energy-conserving features found in manufactured homes help reduce monthly energy costs.
How much maintenance will my home need?
Your homeowner's manual outlines maintenance requirements, and it's important that you follow them. Failure to follow them could void your warranty, as well as erode the value and shorten the lifespan of your home. Additional maintenance, systems and safety information can be provided by an InterNACHI inspector during your next scheduled inspection.
What warranty coverage is offered on the home, its transportation and installation?
All manufacturers offer a written warranty which should cover:
  • structural workmanship;
  • factory-installed plumbing, heating and electrical systems; 
  • factory-installed appliances, which also may be covered by separate warranty; and 
  • appliance manufacturer warranties.
There are important differences among warranties. For example, manufacturer warranties usually do not cover installation (also called "set-up") and transportation of the home, although you may be able to get this coverage through the retailer or installation contractor. Although you may never need such warranty services, it's a good idea to check the coverage on any warranties offered before you buy.
InterNACHI-certified home inspectors know where to look for defective work. Whether you’re buying an existing home or considering a new home, allow the inspector to use his/her special knowledge to help protect you by finding defects while the home is still under warranty, and before they cause damage or injury to you or your family.
Where can I locate my home?
Many homes are placed on privately-owned property. If this option appeals to you, find out about zoning laws, restrictive covenants, and utility connections. Your retailer can give you more information. Another option is to place your home in a land-lease community specifically designed for manufactured homes. Here, you own the home but lease the land. Placing your home in a land-lease community involves fewer siting considerations, such as utility connections. A third option is buying the home and land together in a planned subdivision where siting issues are handled by the developer.
May I move my home?
Yes, but it's not a common scenario. The transportation of a home can place considerable stress on its structure and components. Nevertheless, if you do plan to move your home in the future, make sure you check with the appropriate state authorities about transportation and zoning regulations. States have restrictions on weight, size and width that may prevent you from moving your home. If you relocate, make sure you use a professional transporter; never try to move the home yourself. It's also important to check the climate zone maps for your home. These maps tell you the wind, snow and thermal zones for which your home was constructed. Use them to determine whether your home is suitable for the new location you’re considering.
The actual overall costs connected with moving are another consideration. In addition to transport expenses, which include licensing fees to take your home through a state, you'll have to pay for a new foundation, installation, and utility hook-ups.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Biological Pollutants in the Home

Outdoor air pollution in cities is a major health problem. Much effort and money continue to be spent cleaning up pollution in the outdoor air. But air pollution can be a problem where you least expect it, in the place you may have thought was safest -- your home. Many ordinary activities, such as cooking, heating, cooling, cleaning and redecorating, can cause the release and spread of indoor pollutants at home. Studies have shown that the air in our homes can be even more polluted than outdoor air. Many Americans spend up to 90% of their time indoors, often at home. Therefore, breathing clean indoor air can have an important impact on health. People who are inside a great deal may be at greater risk of developing health problems, or having problems made worse by indoor air pollutants. These people include infants, young children, the elderly and those with chronic illnesses. Many factors determine whether pollutants in your home will affect your health. They include the presence, use and condition of pollutant sources, the level of pollutants both indoors and out, the amount of ventilation in your home, and your overall health.
What are Biological Pollutants?

Biological pollutants are or were living organisms. They promote poor indoor air quality and may be a major cause of days lost from work and school, and of doctor and hospital visits. Some can even damage surfaces inside and outside your house. Biological pollutants can travel through the air and are often invisible. Some common indoor biological pollutants are:
  • animal dander (minute scales from hair, feathers, or skin);
  • dust mite and cockroach parts;
  • infectious agents (bacteria and viruses); and 
  • pollen.
Some of these substances are in every home. It is impossible to get rid of them all. Even a spotless home may permit the growth of biological pollutants. Two conditions are essential to support biological growth:  nutrients and moisture. These conditions can be found in many locations, such as bathrooms, damp or flooded basements, wet appliances (such as humidifiers and air conditioners), and even some carpets and furniture. Modern materials and construction techniques may reduce the amount of outside air brought into buildings, which may result in high moisture levels inside. Using humidifiers, unvented heaters, and air conditioners in our homes has increased the chances of moisture forming on interior surfaces. This encourages the growth of certain biological pollutants.
The Scope of the Problem
Most information about sources and health effects of biological pollutants is based on studies of large office buildings and surveys of homes in the northern U.S. and Canada. These surveys show that 30% to 50% of all structures have damp conditions which may encourage the growth and buildup of biological pollutants. This percentage is likely to be higher in warm, moist climates. Some diseases and illnesses have been linked with biological pollutants in the indoor environment. However, many of them also have causes unrelated to the indoor environment. Therefore, we do not know how many health problems relate only to poor indoor air.
Health Effects of Biological Pollutants
All of us are exposed to biological pollutants. However, the effects on our health depend on the type and amount of biological pollution and the individual person. Some people do not experience health reactions from certain biological pollutants, while others may experience one or more of the following reactions:
  • allergic;
  • infectious; and/or 
  • toxic.
Except for the spread of infections indoors, allergic reactions may be the most common health problem with indoor air quality in homes. They are often connected with animal dander (mostly from cats and dogs), with house dust mites (microscopic animals living in household dust), and with pollen. Allergic reactions can range from mildly uncomfortable to life-threatening, as in a severe asthma attack. Some common signs and symptoms are:
  • watery eyes;
  • runny nose and sneezing;
  • nasal congestion;
  • itching;
  • coughing;
  • wheezing and difficulty breathing;
  • headache; and 
  • fatigue.
Health experts are especially concerned about people with asthma. These people have very sensitive airways that can react to various irritants, making breathing difficult. The number of people who have asthma has greatly increased in recent years. The number of people with asthma has gone up by 59% since 1970, to a total of 9.6 million people. Asthma in children under 15 years of age has increased 41% in the same period, to a total of 2.6 million children. The number of deaths from asthma is up by 68% since 1979, to a total of almost 4,400 deaths per year.
Talking to Your Doctor
Are you concerned about the effects on your health that may be related to biological pollutants in your home? Before you discuss your concerns with your doctor, you should know the answers to the following questions. This information can help the doctor determine whether your health problems may be related to biological pollution.
  • Does anyone in the family have frequent headaches, fevers, itchy and watery eyes, a stuffy nose, dry throat, or a cough? Does anyone complain of feeling tired or dizzy all the time? Is anyone wheezing or having difficulties breathing on a regular basis?
  • Did these symptoms appear after you moved into a new or different home?
  • Do the symptoms disappear when you go to school or the office or go away on a trip, and return when you come back?
  • Have you recently remodeled your home or done any energy-conservation work, such as installing insulation, storm windows, or weather stripping? Did your symptoms occur during or after these activities?
  • Does your home feel humid? Can you see moisture on the windows or on other surfaces, such as walls and ceilings?
  • What is the usual temperature in your home? Is it very hot or cold?
  • Have you recently had water damage?
  • Is your basement wet or damp?
  • Is there any obvious mold or mildew?
  • Does any part of your home have a musty or moldy odor?
  • Is the air stale?
  • Do you have pets?
  • Do your house plants show signs of mold?
  • Do you have air conditioners or humidifiers that have not been properly cleaned?
  • Does your home have cockroaches or rodents?
Infectious diseases caused by bacteria and viruses, such as the flu, measles, chicken pox, and tuberculosis, may be spread indoors. Most infectious diseases pass from person to person through physical contact. Crowded conditions with poor air circulation can promote this spread. Some bacteria and viruses thrive in buildings and circulate through indoor ventilation systems. For example, the bacterium causing Legionnaire's Disease, a serious and sometimes lethal infection, and Pontiac Fever, a flu-like illness, have circulated in some large buildings.
Toxic reactions are the least studied or understood health problem caused by some biological air pollutants in the home. Toxins can damage a variety of organs and tissues in the body, including the liver, the central nervous system, the digestive tract, and the immune system.
Checking Your Home
There is no simple or cheap way to sample the air in your home to determine the level of all biological pollutants. Experts suggest that sampling for biological pollutants is not a useful problem-solving tool. Even if you had your home tested, it is almost impossible to know which biological pollutant(s) cause various symptoms or health problems. The amount of most biological substances required to cause disease is unknown and varies from one person to the next. Does this make the problem sound hopeless? On the contrary, you can take several simple, practical actions to help remove sources of biological pollutants, to help get rid of pollutants, and to prevent their return.
Self-Inspection: A Walk Through Your Home
Begin by touring your household. Follow your nose, and use your eyes. Two major factors help create conditions for biological pollutants to grow:  nutrients and constant moisture with poor air circulation.
  1. Dust and construction materials, such as wood, wallboard and insulation, contain nutrients that allow biological pollutants to grow. Firewood also is a source of moisture, fungi and bugs.
  2. Appliances, such as humidifiers, kerosene and gas heaters, washers and clothes dryers, dishwashers and gas stoves, add moisture to the air.
A musty odor, moisture on hard surfaces, and even water stains, may be caused by:
  • air-conditioning units;
  • basements, attics and crawlspaces;
  • bathrooms;
  • carpets;
  • heating and air-conditioning ducts;
  • humidifiers and dehumidifiers; and
  • refrigerator drip pans.
What You Can Do About Biological Pollutants
Before you give away the family pet or move, there are less drastic steps you can take to reduce potential problems. Properly cleaning and maintaining your home can help reduce the problem and may avoid interrupting your normal routine. People who have health problems, such as asthma, or who are allergic, may need to do this and more. Discuss this with your doctor.
Moisture Control
Water in your home can come from many sources. Water can enter your home by leaking or by seeping through basement floors. Showers and even cooking can add moisture to the air in your home. The amount of moisture that the air in your home can hold depends on the temperature of the air. As the temperature goes down, the air is able to hold less moisture. This is why, in cold weather, moisture condenses on cold surfaces (for example, drops of water form on the inside of a window). This moisture can encourage biological pollutants to grow.
There are many ways to control moisture in your home:
  • Fix leaks and seepage. If water is entering the house from the outside, your options range from simple landscaping to extensive excavation and waterproofing. (The ground should slope away from the house.) Water in the basement can result from the lack of gutters or a water flow toward the house. Water leaks in pipes and around tubs and sinks can provide a place for biological pollutants to grow.
  • Put a plastic cover over dirt crawlspaces to prevent moisture from coming in from the ground. Be sure crawlspaces are well-ventilated.
  • Use exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens to remove moisture to the outside (not into the attic). Vent your clothes dryer to the outside.
  • Turn off certain appliances (such as humidifiers and kerosene heaters) if you notice moisture on windows and other surfaces.
  • Use dehumidifiers and air conditioners, especially in hot, humid climates, to reduce moisture in the air, but be sure that the appliances themselves don't become sources of biological pollutants.
  • Raise the temperature of cold surfaces where moisture condenses. Use insulation and storm windows. (A storm window installed on the inside works better than one installed on the outside) Open doors between rooms (especially doors to closets which may be colder than the rooms) to increase circulation. Circulation carries heat to the cold surfaces Increase air circulation by using fans and by moving furniture from wall corners to promote air and heat circulation. Be sure that your house has a source of fresh air and can expel excessive moisture from the home.
  • Pay special attention to carpet on concrete floors. Carpet can absorb moisture and serve as a place for biological pollutants to grow. Use area rugs, which can be taken up and washed often. In certain climates, if carpet is to be installed over a concrete floor, it maybe necessary to use a vapor barrier (plastic sheeting) over the concrete and cover that with sub-flooring (insulation covered with plywood) to prevent a moisture problem.
  • Moisture problems and their solutions differ from one climate to another. The Northeast is cold and wet, the Southwest is hot and dry, the South is hot and wet, and the Western Mountain states are cold and dry. All of these regions can have moisture problems. For example, evaporative coolers used in the Southwest can encourage the growth of biological pollutants. In other hot regions, the use of air conditioners which cool the air too quickly may not be left running long enough to remove excess moisture from the air. The types of construction and weather for the different climates can lead to different problems and solutions.
Where Biological Pollutants May Be Found in the Home
  • dirty air conditioners;
  • dirty humidifiers and/or dehumidifiers;
  • bathroom without vents or windows;
  • kitchen without vents or windows;
  • dirty refrigerator drip pans;
  • laundry room with an unvented dryer;
  • an unventilated attic;
  • carpet on damp basement floor;
  • bedding;
  • closet on outside wall;
  • dirty heating/air-conditioning system;
  • pets; and 
  • water damage (around windows, the roof, the basement).
Maintain and Clean All Appliances that Come in Contact with Water
  • Have major appliances, such as furnaces, heat pumps and central air conditioners, inspected regularly by a professional InterNACHI inspector. Change filters on heating and cooling systems according to manufacturer's directions. (In general, change filters monthly during use.) When first turning on the heating or air conditioner at the start of the season, consider leaving your home until it airs out.
  • Have window and wall air-conditioning units cleaned and serviced regularly by a professional, especially before the cooling season. Air conditioners can help reduce the entry of allergy-causing pollen. But they may also become a source of biological pollutants if not properly maintained. Clean the coils and rinse the drain pans, according to the manufacturer's instructions, so water cannot collect in pools.
  • Have furnace-attached humidifiers cleaned and serviced regularly by a professional, especially before the heating season.
  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions when using any type of humidifier. Experts differ on the benefits of using humidifiers. If you do use a portable humidifier (approximately 1- to 2-gallon tanks), be sure to empty its tank every day and refill it with distilled or demineralized water, or even fresh tap water, if the other types of water are unavailable.  For larger portable humidifiers, change the water as recommended by the manufacturer. Unplug the appliance before cleaning. Every third day, clean all surfaces coming in contact with water with a 3% solution of hydrogen peroxide, using a brush to loosen deposits.  Some manufacturers recommend using diluted household bleach for cleaning and maintenance, generally in a solution of one-half cup bleach to 1 gallon of water. With any household chemical, rinse well to remove all traces of chemical before refilling the humidifier.
  • Empty dehumidifiers daily and clean often. If possible, have the appliance drip directly into a drain. Follow manufacturer's instructions for cleaning and maintenance. Always disconnect the appliance before cleaning.
  • Clean refrigerator drip pans regularly, according to manufacturer's instructions. If refrigerator and freezer doors don't seal properly, moisture may build up and mold can grow. Remove any mold on door gaskets, and replace faulty gaskets.
Clean Surfaces
  • Clean moist surfaces, such as showers and kitchen counters.
  • Remove mold from walls, ceilings, floors and paneling. Do not simply cover mold with paint, stain, varnish, or a moisture-proof sealer, as the mold may resurface.
  • Replace moldy shower curtains, or remove them and scrub them well with a household cleaner, and rinse them before rehanging them.
Dust Control
Controlling dust is very important for people who are allergic to animal dander and mites. You cannot see mites, but you can either remove their favorite breeding grounds or keep these areas dry and clean. Dust mites can thrive in sofas, stuffed chairs, carpets and bedding. Open shelves, fabric wallpaper, knickknacks, and venetian blinds are also sources of dust mites. Dust mites live deep in the carpet and are not removed by vacuuming. Many doctors suggest that their mite-allergic patients use washable area rugs rather than wall-to-wall carpet.
  • Always wash bedding in hot water (at least 130° F) to kill dust mites. Cold water won't do the job. Launder bedding at least every seven to 10 days.
  • Use synthetic or foam rubber mattress pads and pillows, and plastic mattress covers, if you are allergic. Do not use fuzzy wool blankets, feather or wool-stuffed comforters, and feather pillows.
  • Clean rooms and closets well.  Dust and vacuum often to remove surface dust. Vacuuming and other cleaning may not remove all animal dander, dust mite material, and other biological pollutants. Some particles are so small, they can pass through vacuum bags and remain in the air. If you are allergic to dust, wear a mask when vacuuming and dusting. People who are highly allergy-prone should not perform these tasks. They may even need to leave the house when someone else is cleaning.
Before You Move
Protect yourself by hiring an InterNACHI inspector to inspect your potential new home. If you identify problems, have the landlord or seller correct them before you move in, or even consider moving elsewhere.
  • Have professionals check the heating and cooling system, including humidifiers and vents. Have duct lining and insulation checked for growth.
  • Check for exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens. If there are no vents, do the kitchen and bathrooms have at least one window in each room? Does the stovetop have a hood vented outside? Does the clothes dryer vent outside? Do all vents exhaust to the outside of the building, and not in attics or crawlspaces?
  • Look for obvious mold growth throughout the house, including attics, basements and crawlspaces, and around the foundation outside. See if there are many plants close to the house, particularly if they are damp and rotting. They are a potential source of biological pollutants. Downspouts from roof gutters should route water away from the building.
  • Look for stains on the walls, floor or carpet (including any carpet over concrete floors) as evidence of previous flooding or moisture problems. Is there moisture on windows and surfaces? Are there signs of leaks or seepage in the basement?
  • Look for rotted building materials, which may suggest moisture or water damage.
  • If you or anyone else in the family has a pet allergy, ask if any pets have lived in the home.
  • Examine the design of the building. Remember that in cold climates, overhanging areas, rooms over unheated garages, and closets on outside walls may be prone to problems with biological pollutants.
  • Look for signs of cockroaches. (Carefully read instructions for use and any cautionary labeling on cleaning products before beginning cleaning procedures.)
  • Do not mix any chemical products. Especially, never mix cleaners containing bleach with any product (such as ammonia) which does not have instructions for such mixing.  When chemicals are combined, a dangerous gas can sometimes be formed.
  • Household chemicals may cause burning or irritation to skin and eyes.
  • Household chemicals may be harmful if swallowed or inhaled.
  • Avoid contact with skin, eyes, mucous membranes, and clothing.
  • Avoid breathing vapor. Open all windows and doors, and use an exhaust fan that sends the air outside.
  • Keep household chemicals out of reach of children.
  • Rinse treated surface areas well to remove all traces of chemicals.
Correcting Water Damage
What if damage is already done? Follow these guidelines for correcting water damage:
  • Throw out mattresses, wicker furniture, straw baskets and the like that have been water damaged or contain mold. These cannot be recovered.
  • Discard any water-damaged furnishings, such as carpets, drapes, stuffed toys, upholstered furniture, and ceiling tiles, unless they can be recovered by steam cleaning or hot-water washing and thorough drying.
  • Remove and replace wet insulation to prevent conditions where biological pollutants can grow.
Reducing Exposure to Biological Contaminants
General good housekeeping, and maintenance of heating and air-conditioning equipment, are very important. Adequate ventilation and good air distribution also help. The key to mold control is moisture control. If mold is a problem, clean up the mold and get rid of excess water and moisture. Maintaining the relative humidity between 30% to 60% will help control mold, dust mites and cockroaches. Employ integrated pest management to control insect and animal allergens. Cooling-tower treatment procedures exist to reduce levels of Legionella and other organisms.
Install and use exhaust fans that are vented to the outdoors in kitchens and bathrooms, and vent clothes dryers outdoors. These actions can eliminate much of the moisture that builds up from everyday activities. There are exhaust fans on the market that produce little noise, an important consideration for some people. Another benefit to using kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans is that they can reduce levels of organic pollutants that vaporize from hot water used in showers and dishwashers. Ventilate the attic and crawlspaces to prevent moisture build-up. Keeping humidity levels in these areas below 50% can prevent water condensation on building materials.
If using cool mist or ultrasonic humidifiers, clean appliances according to the manufacturer's instructions and refill with fresh water daily. Because these humidifiers can become breeding grounds for biological contaminants, they have the potential for causing diseases such as hypersensitivity pneumonitis and humidifier fever. Evaporation trays in air conditioners, dehumidifiers, and refrigerators should also be cleaned frequently.
Thoroughly clean and dry water-damaged carpets and building materials (within 24 hours, if possible), or consider removal and replacement. Water-damaged carpets and building materials can harbor mold and bacteria. It is very difficult to completely rid such materials of biological contaminants.
Keep the house clean. House dust mites, pollens, animal dander, and other allergy-causing agents can be reduced, although not eliminated, through regular cleaning. People who are allergic to these pollutants should use allergen-proof mattress encasements, wash bedding in hot water (130° F), and avoid room furnishings that accumulate dust, especially if they cannot be washed in hot water. Allergic individuals should also leave the house while it is being vacuumed because vacuuming can actually increase airborne levels of mite allergens and other biological contaminants. Using central vacuum systems that are vented to the outdoors, or vacuums with high efficiency filters may also be of help.
Take steps to minimize biological pollutants in basements. Clean and disinfect the basement floor drain regularly. Do not finish a basement below ground level unless all water leaks are patched and outdoor ventilation and adequate heat to prevent condensation are provided. Operate a dehumidifier in the basement, if needed, to keep relative humidity levels between 30% to 50%.

Health Effects From Biological Contaminants
Some biological contaminants trigger allergic reactions, including hypersensitivity pneumonitis, allergic rhinitis, and some types of asthma. Infectious illnesses, such as influenza, measles and chicken pox, are transmitted through the air. Molds and mildews release disease-causing toxins. Symptoms of health problems caused by biological pollutants include sneezing, watery eyes, coughing, shortness of breath, dizziness, lethargy, fever and digestive problems.
Allergic reactions occur only after repeated exposure to a specific biological allergen. However, that reaction may occur immediately upon re-exposure, or after multiple exposures over time. As a result, people who have noticed only mild allergic reactions, or no reactions at all, may suddenly find themselves very sensitive to particular allergens. Some diseases, such as humidifier fever, are associated with exposure to toxins from microorganisms that can grow in large buildings' ventilation systems. However, these diseases can also be traced to micro-organisms that grow in home heating and cooling systems and humidifiers. Children, elderly people, and people with breathing problems, allergies, and lung diseases are particularly susceptible to disease-causing biological agents in the indoor air. Mold, dust mites, pet dander, and pest droppings or body parts can trigger asthma. Biological contaminants, including molds and pollens, can cause allergic reactions for a significant portion of the population. Tuberculosis, measles, staphylococcus infections, Legionella and influenza are known to be transmitted by air.
Combustion Pollutants
Combustion appliances are those which burn fuels for warmth, cooking or decorative purposes. Typical fuels are gas, both natural and liquefied petroleum (LP), kerosene, oil, coal and wood. Examples of the appliances are space heaters, ranges, ovens, stoves, furnaces, fireplaces, water heaters, and clothes dryers. These appliances are usually safe. However, under certain conditions, these appliances can produce combustion pollutants that can damage your health, or even kill you.
What are Combustion Pollutants?
Combustion pollutants are gases and particles that come from burning materials. The combustion pollutants come from burning fuels in appliances. The types and amounts of pollutants produced depend on the type of appliance, how well the appliance is installed, maintained and vented, and the kind of fuel it uses. Some of the common pollutants produced from burning these fuels are carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, particles, and sulfur dioxide. Particles can have hazardous chemicals attached to them. Other pollutants that can be produced by some appliances are unburned hydrocarbons and aldehydes. Combustion always produces water vapor. Water vapor is not usually considered a pollutant, but it can act as one. It can result in high humidity and wet surfaces.
Where do Combustion Pollutants Come From?
Combustion pollutants found indoors include outdoor air, tobacco smoke, exhaust from car and lawn mower internal combustion engines, and some hobby activities, such as welding, woodburning and soldering. Combustion pollutants can also come from vented or unvented combustion appliances. These appliances include space heaters, gas ranges and ovens, furnaces, gas water heaters, gas clothes dryers, wood and coal-burning stoves, and fireplaces. As a group, these are called "combustion appliances."

Vented appliances are appliances designed to be used with a duct, chimney, pipe, or other device that carries the combustion pollutants outside the home. These appliances can release large amounts of pollutants directly into your home if a vent is not properly installed, or is blocked or leaking. Unvented appliances do not vent to the outside, so they release combustion pollutants directly into the home. Many of these problems are hard for a homeowner to identify. A professional is needed.

What are the Health Effects of Combustion Pollutants?
The health effects of combustion pollutants range from headaches and breathing difficulties to death. The health effects may show up immediately after exposure, or occur after being exposed to the pollutants for a long time. The effects depend on the type and amount of pollutants, and the length of time of exposure to them. They also depend upon several factors related to the exposed person. These include the age and any existing health problems. There are still some questions about the level of pollutants or the period of exposure needed to produce specific health effects. Further studies to better define the release of pollutants from combustion appliances and their health effects are needed.
The sections below discuss health problems associated with some common combustion pollutants. These pollutants include carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, particles, and sulfur dioxide. Even if you are healthy, high levels of carbon monoxide can kill you within a short time. The health effects of the other pollutants are generally more subtle and are more likely to affect susceptible people. It is always a good idea to reduce exposure to combustion pollutants by using and maintaining combustion appliances properly.
Carbon Monoxide:
Each year, according to CPSC, there are more than 200 carbon monoxide deaths related to the use of all types of combustion appliances in the home. Exposure to carbon monoxide reduces the blood's ability to carry oxygen. Often, a person or an entire family may not recognize that carbon monoxide is poisoning them. The chemical is odorless, and some of the symptoms are similar to common illnesses. This is particularly dangerous because carbon monoxide's deadly effects will not be recognized until it is too late to take action against them. Carbon monoxide exposures especially affect unborn babies, infants, and people with anemia or a history of heart disease. Breathing low levels of the chemical can cause fatigue and increase chest pain in people with chronic heart disease. Breathing higher levels of carbon monoxide causes symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, and weakness in healthy people. Carbon monoxide also causes sleepiness, nausea, vomiting, confusion and disorientation. At very high levels, it causes loss of consciousness and death.
Nitrogen Dioxide:
Breathing high levels of nitrogen dioxide causes irritation of the respiratory tract and causes shortness of breath. Compared to healthy people, children, and individuals with respiratory illnesses such as asthma, may be more susceptible to the effects of nitrogen dioxide. Some studies have shown that children may have more colds and flu when exposed to low levels of nitrogen dioxide. When people with asthma inhale low levels of nitrogen dioxide while exercising, their lung airways can narrow and react more to inhaled materials.
Particles suspended in the air can cause eye, nose, throat and lung irritation. They can increase respiratory symptoms, especially in people with chronic lung disease or heart problems. Certain chemicals attached to particles may cause lung cancer, if they are inhaled. The risk of lung cancer increases with the amount and length of exposure. The health effects from inhaling particles depend upon many factors, including the size of the particle and its chemical make-up.
Sulfur Dioxide:
Sulfur dioxide at low levels of exposure can cause eye, nose, and respiratory tract irritation. At high exposure levels, it causes the lung airways to narrow. This causes wheezing, chest tightness, and breathing problems. People with asthma are particularly susceptible to the effects of sulfur dioxide. They may have symptoms at levels that are much lower than the rest of the population.
Other Pollutants: 
Combustion may release other pollutants. They include unburned hydrocarbons and aldehydes. Little is known about the levels of these pollutants in indoor air and the resulting health effects.
What do I do if I suspect that combustion pollutants are affecting my health?
If you suspect you are being subjected to carbon monoxide poisoning, get fresh air immediately. Open windows and doors for more ventilation, turn off any combustion appliances, and leave the house. You could lose consciousness and die from carbon monoxide poisoning if you do nothing. It is also important to contact a doctor immediately for a proper diagnosis. Remember to tell your doctor that you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning is causing your problems. Prompt medical attention is important. Some symptoms from combustion pollutants -- including headaches, dizziness, sleepiness, coughing, and watery eyes -- may also occur because of common medical problems. These medical problems include colds, the flu, and allergies. Similar symptoms may also occur because of other indoor air pollutants. Contact your doctor for a proper diagnosis.

How can I reduce my exposure to combustion pollutants?
Proper selection, installation, inspection and maintenance of your appliances are extremely important in reducing your exposure to these pollutants. Providing good ventilation in your home and correctly using your appliance can also reduce your exposure to these pollutants. Additionally, there are several different residential carbon monoxide detectors for sale. These detectors alert consumers to harmful carbon monoxide levels in the home. They may soon be widely available to reduce deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning.
Appliance Selection
  • Choose vented appliances whenever possible.
  • Buy only combustion appliances that have been tested and certified to meet current safety standards. Examples of certifying organizations are Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and the American Gas Association (AGA) Laboratories. Look for a label that clearly shows the certification.
  • All currently manufactured vented gas heaters are required by industry safety standards to have a safety shut-off device. This device helps protect you from carbon monoxide poisoning by shutting off an improperly vented heater.
  • Check your local and state building codes and fire ordinances to see if you can use an unvented space heater, if you are considering purchasing one. They are not allowed to be used in some communities, dwellings, and certain rooms in the house.
  • If you must replace an unvented gas space heater with another, make it a new one. Heaters made after 1982 have a pilot light safety system called an oxygen depletion sensor (ODS). This system shuts off the heater when there is not enough fresh air, before the heater begins producing large amounts of carbon monoxide. Look for the label that tells you that the appliance has this safety system. Older heaters will not have this protection system.
  • Consider buying gas appliances that have electronic ignitions rather than pilot lights. These appliances are usually more energy-efficient and eliminate the continuous low-level pollutants from pilot lights.
  • Buy appliances that are the correct size for the area you want to heat. Using the wrong size heater may produce more pollutants in your home and is not an efficient use of energy.
  • All new wood stoves are EPA-certified to limit the amounts of pollutants released into the outdoor air. For more information on selecting, installing, operating, and maintaining wood-burning stoves, write to the EPA Wood Heater Program. Before buying a wood stove, check your local laws about the installation and use of wood stoves.
To reduce indoor air pollution, a good supply of fresh, outdoor air is needed. The movement of air into and out of your home is very important. Normally, air comes in through cracks around doors and windows. This air helps reduce the level of pollutants indoors. This supply of fresh air is also important to help carry pollutants up the chimney, stovepipe or flue to the outside.
  • Keep doors open to the rest of the house from the room where you are using an unvented gas space heater or kerosene heater, and crack open a window. This allows enough air for proper combustion, and reduces the level of pollutants, especially carbon monoxide.
  • Use a hood fan if you are using a range. They reduce the level of pollutants you breathe if they exhaust to the outside. Make sure that enough air is coming into the house when you use an exhaust fan. If needed, open a door or window slightly, especially if other appliances are in use. For proper operation of most combustion appliances and their venting systems, the air pressure in the house should be greater than that outside. If not, the vented appliances could release combustion pollutants into the house rather than outdoors. If you suspect that you have this problem, you may need the help of a qualified person to solve it.
  • Make sure that your vented appliance has the vent connected and that nothing is blocking it. Make sure there are no holes or cracks in the vent. Do not vent gas clothes dryers or water heaters into the house for heating. This is unsafe.
  • Open the stove's damper when adding wood. This allows more air into the stove. More air helps the wood burn properly, and prevents pollutants from being drawn back into the house instead of going up the chimney. If there is isible smoke or a constant smoky odor inside the home while using a wood-burning stove, this is a sign that the stove is not working properly. Soot on furniture in the rooms where you are using the stove also tells this. Smoke and soot are signs that the stove is releasing pollutants into the indoor air.
Correct Use of Appliances
  • Read and follow the instructions for all appliances so that you understand how they work. Keep the owner's manual in a convenient place to refer to when needed. Also, read and follow the warning labels because they tell you important safety information that you need to know. Reading and following the instructions and warning labels could save your life.
  • Always use the correct fuel for the appliance.
  • Use only water-clear ASTM 1-K kerosene for kerosene heaters. The use of kerosene other than 1-K could lead to a release of more pollutants in your home. Never use gasoline in a kerosene heater because it can cause a fire or an explosion. Using even small amounts of gasoline could cause a fire.
  • Use seasoned hardwoods (elm, maple, oak) instead of softwoods (cedar, fir, pine) in wood-burning stoves and fireplaces. Hardwoods are better because they burn hotter and form less creosote, an oily, black tar that sticks to chimneys and stove pipes. Do not use green or wet woods as the primary wood because they make more creosote and smoke. Never burn painted scrap wood or wood treated with preservatives, because they could release highly toxic pollutants, such as arsenic or lead. Plastics, charcoal, and colored paper, such as comics and wrapping paper, also produce pollutants. Never burn anything that the stove or fireplace manufacturer does not recommend.
  • Never use a range, oven or dryer to heat your home. When you misuse gas appliances in this way, they can produce fatal amounts of carbon monoxide. They can produce high levels of nitrogen dioxide, too.
  • Never use an unvented combustion heater overnight or in a room where you are sleeping. Carbon monoxide from combustion heaters can reach dangerous levels.
  • Never ignore a safety device when it shuts off an appliance. It means that something is wrong. Read your appliance instructions to find out what you should do, or have a professional check out the problem.
  • Never ignore the smell of fuel. This usually indicates that the appliance is not operating properly or is leaking fuel. Leaking fuel will not always be detectable by smell. If you suspect that you have a fuel leak, have it fixed as soon as possible. In most cases, you should shut off the appliance, extinguish any other flames or pilot lights, shut off other appliances in the area, open windows and doors, call for help, and leave the area.
Inspection and Maintenance
Have your combustion appliance regularly inspected and maintained to reduce your exposure to pollutants. Appliances that are not working properly can release harmful and even fatal amounts of pollutants, especially carbon monoxide. Have chimneys and vents inspected when installing or changing vented heating appliances. Some modifications may be required. For example, if a change was made in your heating system from oil to natural gas, the flue gas produced by the gas system could be hot enough to melt accumulated oil-combustion debris in the chimney or vent. This debris could block the vent, forcing pollutants into the house. It is important to clean your chimney and vents, especially when changing heating systems. Always hire an InterNACHI inspector to perform your home inspections, as they all must pass the most comprehensive, rigorous training program available. 
What are the Inspection and Maintenance Procedures?
The best advice is to follow the recommendations of the manufacturer. The same combustion appliance may have different inspection and maintenance requirements, depending on where you live. In general, check the flame in the furnace combustion chamber at the beginning of the heating season. Natural gas furnaces should have a blue flame with perhaps only a slight yellow tip. Call your appliance service representative to adjust the burner if there is a lot of yellow in the flame, or call your local utility company for this service. LP units should have a flame with a bright blue center that may have a light yellow tip. Pilot lights on gas water heaters and gas cooking appliances should also have a blue flame. Have a trained service representative adjust the pilot light if it is yellow or orange. Before each heating season, have flues and chimneys inspected before each heating season for leakage and for blockage by creosote or debris. Creosote buildup or leakage could cause black stains on the outside of the chimney or flue. These stains can mean that pollutants are leaking into the house.