The New Year is time for new batteries!

As a good practice you should change the batteries to your smoke and carbon momoxide detectors every January 1st. If you do not have any working smoke detectors, please get some soon, In my opinion you should have one in each bedroom, one in the hallway leading to the bedrooms, and at least one on each level of the house.

I'ts best to place your smoke detectors on the celing in the center, but no closer than 4 inches from the side wall or 3 feet from the peak of a slanted roof.

Go in the bathroom and look for cracks to fill!

Okay get your mind out of the gutter! I’m talking about cracks in the bathtub or shower at tile and tub surrounds. The joints where the tub meets the wall and floor should be properly sealed with caulking to help prevent moisture penetration. If this is not done, water can leak behind walls or onto the floor and damage the plaster or drywall at wall or ceiling below, not to mention the chance of mold growth. I’ve even seen subfloors rotted out from water damage. This is easily avoided and can save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars in the future.

Go into the attic and look for unwanted guests!

I don’t mean one of your in-laws, although if they are up there, please help them down! Attics are a great place for insects, rodents, birds, bats, and moisture to enter. You should see if there are any areas that need sealed off or repaired. A common area that may need repaired is the screens around gable end louvers or roof vents. The screens eventually deteriorate, leaving a welcome hole for birds, wasps, and squirrels to enter. Wasps also build nests in these areas and inhibit the necessary airflow needed for proper attic ventilation. You should clean out any wasp nests, they shouldn’t be active this time of year, and repair any holes. Any signs of moisture penetration should be further evaluated by a roofer or contractor and repaired as needed

Trim the tree! I know Xmas is over . . . I mean the trees and vegetation outside your home!

Any vegetation around your home should be kept around twelve inches away from the exterior walls. Tree limbs should be cut so that they are not overhanging the roof or chimney. Any growing vines should be removed from the house. Vegetation can act as a ladder for carpenter ants to crawl onto your home, and these characters are always up to no good. Don’t invite them over! Cut the vegetation away and keep trees limbs from overhanging. This is especially important if you have wood siding or trim on your home. The vegetation will keep the moisture in the wood which is a welcome site for any wood destroying insect.

Gee your garbage disposal smells terrific!

I guess by now you see why I haven’t made it as an advertising executive? Well at least I can get your disposal smelling good. As you probably read in the monthly checklists, throwing orange or lemon peels down the disposal and some baking soda will keep it smelling fresh and clean. Small ice cubes will also help to clean the blades and freshen it up.

Test and reset the GI Joe breakers in your main panel!

What the heck are they called? People call them all kinds of crazy names. The correct term is GFCI breakers and they can help save your life! As well as having GFCI outlets in your home, you may have GFCI breakers in your electrical panel. They work on the same concept although will generally control several outlets, such as all the exterior outlets, all of the bathroom outlets, or both. If you ever have an outlet that has no power, be sure to check the main panel and see if a GFCI breaker is tripped. If you want to read about how I really messed up one time with a GFCI outlet, go to the GFCI article section and read all about it!

If you play with fireworks, you just might get burned!

It seems like common sense, right? Well, every year we see someone on the news with nine fingers and even less teeth saying, “I didn’t think it would go off that fast!” Well Junior, now you know. If you are going to mess with fireworks, please be careful and keep the kids away. Maybe even wait until the kids are asleep so they don’t learn any bad habits from Uncle Cletus. Stupid is what stupid does!

Are my gutters supposed to be used as planters?

Sounds funny, although I see it time and time again; gutters so filled with debris that there is vegetation growing inside. I’m all for adding flowers to the exterior of your home, although the gutters are not the right place. Your gutter system is an important part of keeping water out of your basement and if they are filled, they can not do their job. So let’s keep them clean and keep the flowers in the flower beds!

Vent your dryer to the exterior.

Technically if you have an electric dryer, you can vent it into a canister like the kind they sell at home improvement stores, although I don’t recommend it. A gas dryer has to vent outside to get the carbon monoxide out of your home. I think that any dryer should vent outside. I have seen through the years, houses with extensive dryer lint on the walls in the laundry room that looks like it has blue carpet on the walls! There also is a considerable amount of moisture that stays in the house from the dryer. So consider venting it outside no matter what kind of dryer you have.

Who keeps shutting this door?

Do you have an interior door that keeps swinging shut? Some times it’s because the floors are out of level or the door is not plumb. Regardless, I have an easy solution that can help tame your free swinging door. Take out one of the pins from a hinge. You can tap it out from the bottom of the hinge with a nail or small screwdriver. Once you have it out, place the pin on a hard surface such as your concrete floor slab in basement or garage. Tap the pin in the center with a hammer to slightly bend the pin. Don’t over do it, just a slight bend. Tap the pin back into place on the hinge and test out the door. The bend will cause the hinge to bind slightly and keep the door from swinging closed; although still allow it to close properly when needed.

Why not start a home maintenance fund?

Home maintenance is going to cost you some money each year, why not budget for it each week or month? If you have a 15 year old furnace, you may be replacing it within the next five or so years. Let’s say for example a new furnace will cost you around $1500. If you start a fund and put in $25 a month, each month, you will have the money to replace it no problem when the time comes. You can get in the habit of setting a little aside each month and whenever a problem occurs, you will have the money for whatever needs done. Once you get your fund built up, you can put more or less in as needed. This way you can do the things to keep your home in great shape when the maintenance is required. I drive by people’s houses everyday and see roofs that have needed replaced for a long time. Some people wait until it starts to leak and cause damage to the interior of the house or their personal belongings before they replace their roof. If they started to save up years ago for a new roof that would inevitably need replaced some day, they would have the money when needed. I know it’s easier said than done, but it’s something to think about.

Your fire safety plan shouldn't include you jumping out a window!

Smoke detectors will alert you to the fire, but you still need a safe method of escape from your home. The stairwell may not be accessible during a fire and you need to have another way out. Every family should have an emergency escape plan in place and know how to evacuate in the case of fire. An emergency escape ladder stored in the upper floor of your home may save you and your family’s life. You can get a decent one for under $100 and could prove to be invaluable if ever needed.






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