Monday, April 27, 2015

Spring Cleaning - Fire Safety

Keeping fire safety in mind while spring cleaning is important, and could help prevent fires. Things like cleaning the dryer’s lint filter after each load of laundry, removing lint that has collected around the drum, and keeping the area around your dryer clear of things that can burn like boxes, cleaning supplies and clothing.
Check all smoke alarms and ensure smoke alarms are installed on every level of your home, including the basement. The U.S. Fire Administration recommends installing smoke alarms both inside and outside of sleeping areas. Test them at least once a month and replace batteries in all smoke alarms at least once are year. Replace the entire smoke alarm unit every 8 to 10 years or according to manufacturer’s instructions.
Check electrical cords. Frayed or chewed electrical cords start many house fires. Exposed electrical wires will light your floor or rug on fire in no time. Pets often chew on electrical cords as well, causing serious fire hazards. Do not overload outlets. The blades inside electrical outlets loosen over time, something you may notice when you plug in an appliance and the cord falls out easily. This may seem like a little more than a nuisance, but loose blades can generate intense heat that can lead to fires. Your best bet is to replace outlets as soon as you notice that plugs don’t fit snugly.
In places such as the kitchen, keep a 3-foot zone between combustible materials, such as paper towels, pot holders, hand towels, etc. and the burners.

In addition to clothes dryers, smoke alarms, and outlets, fireplaces and chimneys should be inspected annually by a professional and cleaned accordingly.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Spring Cleaning - Indoor Air Quality

The birds are singing, the trees are budding and the flowers are blooming. Spring is here, and with it, spring cleaning. Whether you love it, hate it, or have a bittersweet relationship with it, you need to take several things into consideration when deep cleaning your home.

A task that is often overlooked is checking and being aware of the indoor air quality. Many homes are contaminated with indoor pollutants that could be dangerous, and comes in many forms.

Carbon monoxide is the most dangerous indoor pollutant, because it goes undetected due to the fact that it is odorless. The two main sources of carbon monoxide inside the home are the gas furnace heat exchanger and gas hot water heater.

Mold is another big concern. To keep homes safe from mold it is important to keep the humidity level below 60 percent because mold doesn't grow well at lower humidity levels. If you discover mold, it is important to remedy the source of the moisture in addition to the clean-up and disinfection.

Because of the dangers linked to lead and asbestos, which is commonly found in old homes, be advised that special precautions should be taken. Wear protective clothing and a respirator.

Other forms of indoor pollution include secondhand tobacco smoke, radon, chemical indoor pollutants such as cleaning products, lead, and biological pollutants such as dust mites, molds, mildew, pet hair and dander.

The thought of cleaning up the pollutants may seem daunting, but homeowners can take simple measures to keep the air quality more breathable. First, keep the indoor humidity level between 40 and 60 percent. An inexpensive temperature and humidity gauge can be purchased at hardware stores.

Second have the air conditioner and the heater serviced once a year by a professional, and be sure the air conditioner has a filtering system.

Other recommendations are keeping pets outside, or at least out of the bedroom.

The most important process a homeowner can take to reduce indoor pollution is to identify the pollutants, control the source, and remedy or mitigate.