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Pillar To Post Newsletter January 2019


Small home, big storage

PLACES AND SPACES

Small Home, Big Storage

While “tiny houses” take storage strategies to an extreme, accessible, well planned storage will make daily life easier in any smaller home.

The Drop Zone

Most people use a back or garage entrance more often than the front door. These entryways can incorporate drop zones where everyone can unload their backpacks, shoes, outerwear and more. Baskets under benches provide both seating and storage. Some drop zones incorporate a dedicated shelf or cubby for each family member’s gear.

Beyond the Office

These spaces are often used not only as an office, but for homework, projects, and more.

Repurpose closets by replacing hanging rods with shelving and drawers. A dresser can be used to store project materials for easy access. With multiple users, this multi-function room, like the drop zone, needs to have a workable system that everyone can follow.

Pantry Solutions

The smaller kitchens found in smaller homes need to at least accommodate kitchen staples and big, bulky items such as large mixing bowls, seldom-used small appliances and serving pieces. Pantry shelving for food items should be relatively shallow so that everything is easy to find and reach. This type of shelving can even be added to a niche in the wall between two studs.

Smaller homes aren’t going away, and continue to be especially popular as starter homes and with downsizers. With efficient and practical storage solutions, even a smaller home can accommodate the needs of most families.


HOME & LIFE

Easy Ways to Boost Your Home’s Cozy Factor

cozy home

Try these surefire tips to warm up your home in the New Year and beyond.

  • Set up your own hot cocoa bar with cinnamon, peppermint and marshmallow add-ins. Don’t forget the whipped cream!
  • Keep a basket of soft, warm slippers or socks inside your entryway for guests.
  • Candles, scented or unscented, will add instant visual warmth.
  • Simmer cinnamon sticks, cloves and orange peel in a pot of water. Reheat to keep your home filled with fragrance all day.


zero clearance fireplaces

HOME MATTERS

Zero Clearance Fireplaces

There’s nothing like enjoying a crackling, wood burning fireplace on a chilly evening or weekend. But what if your house didn’t happen to come with one? Enter the zero clearance fireplace.

Zero clearance refers to a prefabricated fireplace unit that can be installed against combustible surfaces such as walls or floors. A prefab chimney is then run up the inside or outside of the home.

Use a Qualified Installer

Not all types of zero clearance fireplaces are suitable for every situation, so consult an expert if you consider getting one. This is not a DIY project.

Is It Allowed?

Make sure you check local regulations to see if new wood burning fireplaces are approved in your community.

Glass Doors

Most zero clearance fireplaces have glass doors. In some models the doors can be closed while the fire is burning and in others the doors must be left open.

Maintenance

Like its traditional wood burning cousins, a zero clearance fireplace can have dangerous creosote buildup in the chimney flue and must be cleaned regularly to avoid a chimney fire.

GENERAL TIPS

  • Burn only seasoned hardwood
  • Load the logs near the back of the firebox
  • Use a spark screen
  • Make sure your smoke and CO alarms are functioning
  • Never leave a fire unattended

Relax and enjoy!



Is radon on your radar?

INSPECTION INSIGHTS

Is Radon on Your Radar?

Radon is a naturally occurring odorless radioactive gas that seeps into homes from underground. Excessive levels of radon can be dangerous to your family’s health. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking.
  • An estimated 1 in 15 homes in the US and Canada has an elevated level of radon.
  • High levels of radon can be found in any type of home – new, old, snug, drafty, with or without a basement.
  • Testing is the only way to determine if your home is affected.

A qualified radon inspector will:

  • Test for unsafe levels of radon inside your home.
  • Analyze the data and report on results.
  • Recommend steps to reduce excessive radon levels if found.

Get peace of mind for you and your family. Schedule a radon inspection today!



Feel better every day

LIFE LESSONS

Try These 5 Favorite Tips and Feel Better Every Day

No matter what time of the year, these easy-to-fit-in ideas can make a difference every day – and not just for you.

  1. Reach out to a friend or relative. Even a quick text to touch base will do.
  2. Put your to-do list in writing to help clear your thoughts, especially at night.
  3. Make a cup of coffee or tea and just listen calmly to the sounds around you.
  4. Take a quick walk, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
  5. Greet everyone with “How’s your day going?” You may be the only one who asks.

Feel better



All about garage doors

HOME MATTERS

All About Garage Doors

Overhead garage doors may be the largest and heaviest moving object in most homes. For safety and reliability, make sure it’s up to date and kept in proper working order.

Safety First

Older garage doors can lack some of the safety features required in newer installations. Automatic openers must have sensors, usually a pair of electric eyes, that will stop and reverse the door if a person or pet moves across its path.

Power Out?

What about getting the door open during a power outage? Use the manual release – in most cases it’s a short red cord that hangs down close to the center of the door, inside the garage. Practice how to operate the release in case you need to get a car out of the garage during a power outage.

Smooth Sailing

Maintaining the door is important for safety and for quiet, smooth operation. A garage door specialist can provide periodic maintenance, or you can do much of this yourself, including lubricating the springs and hinges. The track where the wheels run should never be lubricated for safety reasons. A professional can also check the door balance and alignment and make any necessary adjustments.

Controlled Access

When moving into a new home, change the remote control code immediately for security purposes, just as you would re-key or change the home’s door locks. If the remote can’t be reprogrammed, chances are, it’s an outdated system, and should be upgraded for safety reasons.

A garage door and opener, with proper maintenance, will help ensure safe operation and should last for many trouble-free years.

New Year Resolutions For Your Home

Many of us make optimistic resolutions for the New Year. Whether it’s deciding to take a class, stick to a budget, or to finally drop those 20 pounds, we’re full of ideas on how to make ourselves and our lives better. Because your home is such an important part of your life, why not make some worthwhile resolutions for it as well? Here are some ideas to get you started.

Keep Current On Routine Maintenance

One of the most important things you can do as a homeowner is to make sure routine maintenance is part of your plan. Catching problems early can often help you avoid larger issues down the road. What is now a minor plumbing or roof leak can cause major problems if not detected and fixed promptly. Check around your home for cracked or peeling paint, have the chimney and fireplace inspected and cleaned, and make sure the driveway and walkways are not cracked or lifting.

Update Your Home Inventory For Insurance Purposes

If you’re like many homeowners, it’s probably been a while since you’ve reviewed your home insurance policy and reassessed the value of your home’s contents. An updated home inventory of your possessions can help you determine if you have the proper type and amount of insurance. There are a number of mobile apps available to help you organize and record your inventory, and many insurance carriers offer their own apps. Should you have an insurance claim for property loss or damage, a current and accurate inventory can help make the process and correct valuation easier.

Audit Your Home For Energy Savings

There are simple things that every homeowner can do to improve energy efficiency and save on utility bills. Check around your home for any fixtures that still have incandescent bulbs and replace them with LED bulbs wherever possible. This saves money and makes things easier for you, too; for example, bulbs in awkward places will need replacement far less often. Make sure windows and doors are caulked and in good repair, which will save energy in both winter and summer. If you’re planning to replace any appliances this year, shop for and compare efficient, energy-saving models.

Create An Emergency Safety Plan For Your Family

Everyone knows the importance of having a plan in place for emergencies including fire, flooding, blizzards and more. But each year, tragedy strikes homes and families who didn’t think about it or who promised to make a plan “one of these days.” The basics include emergency kits, an escape plan for every room, and prearranging a meeting place for your family. GetPrepared.ca has tips and resources that you can use to keep your loved ones safe. Give yourself some peace of mind by making 2019 the year to put a plan in place.

For more information about home inspections and for additional resources, please contact your local Pillar To Post office.

January is Radon Awareness Month: What You Need to Know

Any home can have a radon problem – old or new homes, well-sealed or drafty homes, homes with or without basements. The EPA estimates that nearly 1 out of every 15 homes in the U.S. have elevated radon levels. Prolonged exposure to unsafe levels of radon can increase the risk of lung cancer; in fact, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. Lung cancer caused by avoidable radon exposure is preventable, but only if radon issues are detected and mitigated prior to prolonged exposure in homes and buildings. There is real risk in not knowing if a home has a high level of radon.

What is Radon?

Radon is a naturally occurring odorless, colorless, radioactive gas formed by the ongoing decay of uranium in soil, rocks, sediments, and even well or ground water. While radon that escapes into the atmosphere is not harmful, dangerously high concentrations can build up indoors, exposing occupants to possible health risks.

How Does Radon Get Into a Home?

Radon can migrate into the home in several ways. Openings or cracks in basement walls, foundations or floors are common avenues. Sumps, basement drains, and spaces between gas or water fittings can also allow radon into the structure. Other entry points can include gaps in suspended floors and cavities within walls.

How Can I Make Sure My Clients and Their Families Aren’t at Risk?

We encourage homeowners to add radon testing to the home inspection process. Your Pillar To Post Home Inspector will set up the monitoring equipment in the home and report on the results. If an elevated level of radon is detected, steps can be taken to reduce the concentration to or below acceptable levels inside virtually any home. This can include a relatively simple setup such as a collection system with a radon vent pipe, which prevents radon from entering the home in the first place. Professional mitigation services can provide solutions for a home’s specific conditions.

Contact Pillar To Post Home Inspectors to schedule radon testing when you book your next home inspection.

HOLIDAY & WINTER FIRE SAFETY

Residential fires take their toll every day, every year, in lost lives, injuries, and destroyed property. But many conditions that cause house fires can be avoided or prevented. Taking the time for some simple precautions, preventive inspections, and concrete planning can help prevent fire in the home and can save property and lives should disaster strike.

  • Check holiday lights for fraying or broken wires and plugs. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines as to how many multiple strands can be joined together, as a fire hazard could result from overload. Enjoy indoor holiday lighting only while someone is home, and turn them off before going to bed at night.
  • Candles add a welcoming, festive feeling, and need to be placed in stable holders and located away from flammable items, drafts, pets and children. Never leave burning candles unattended, even for a short time.
  • Keep live Christmas trees in a water-filled stand and check daily for dehydration. Needles should not easily break off a freshly cut tree. Brown needles or lots of fallen needles indicate a dangerously dried-out tree which should be discarded immediately. Always use nonflammable decorations in the home, and never use lights, even LED types, on a dried-out tree.
  • Electrical items including lamps, appliances, and electronics should be checked for frayed cords, loose or broken plugs, and exposed wiring. Never run electrical wires, including extension cords, under carpet or rugs even temporarily as this creates a fire hazard.
  • Fireplaces should be checked by a professional chimney sweep each year and cleaned if necessary to prevent a dangerous buildup of creosote, which can cause a flash fire in the chimney. Cracks in masonry chimneys should be repaired, and spark arresters inspected to ensure they are in good condition and free of debris.
  • When using space heaters, keep them away from beds and bedding, curtains, paper – anything flammable. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use. Space heaters should not be left unattended while in use or where a child or pet could knock them over.
  • Use smoke detectors with fresh batteries unless they are hard wired to your home’s electrical system. Smoke detectors should be installed high on walls or on ceilings on every level of the home, inside each bedroom, and outside every sleeping area. Statistics show that nearly 60% of home fire fatalities occur in homes without working smoke alarms. Most municipalities require the use of working smoke detectors in both single and multi-family residences.
  • Children should not have access to or be allowed to play with matches, lighters or candles. Flammable materials such as gasoline, kerosene, or propane should always be stored outside of and away from the house.
  • Kitchen fires know no season. According to the U.S. National Fire Protection Association, cooking is the leading cause of house fires. Grease spills, items left unattended on the stove or in the oven, and food left in toasters or toaster ovens can catch fire quickly. Don’t wear loose fitting clothing, especially with long sleeves, around the stove. Turn the handles of pots and pans away from the front of the stove to prevent accidental contact. Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher within easy reach. Extinguishers specifically formulated for grease and cooking fuel fires are widely available and can supplement an all-purpose extinguisher.
  • Have an escape plan. This is one of the most important measures to prevent death in a fire. Visit ready.gov for detailed information on how to make a plan. Local fire departments can also provide recommendations on escape planning and preparedness. In addition, all family members should know how to dial 911 in case of a fire or other emergency.

Your local Pillar To Post office wishes you and your clients a happy and safe holiday season!