Saturday, January 10, 2009

Where do the Smoke Alarms go in my home...

Where must alarms be installed in a single family home?

The minimum requirements are:

  • Smoke alarms must be installed outside the sleeping area.
  • If the home has more than one level a smoke alarm must be installed on each level.
  • Install smoke alarms on the ceiling at least four inches from the nearest wall or high on a wall, four to 12 inches from the ceiling.
  • The Office of State Fire Marshal recommends adding smoke alarms to each bedroom for additional protection.
  • Single family dwellings are required to meet the applicable requirements of the State Building Code at the time of construction.

Also be sure to change the batteries in these devices and test every 30 days. You never know when your life may depend on it.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Preventing Frozen Pipes

An average of a quarter-million families have their homes ruined and their lives disrupted each winter, all because of water pipes that freeze and burst.

And recovering from frozen pipes is not as simple as calling a plumber. An eighth-inch (three millimeter) crack in a pipe can spew up to 250 gallons (946 liters) of water a day. Both plastic (PVC) and copper pipes can burst.

By taking a few simple precautions, you can save yourself the mess, money and aggravation frozen pipes cause.

  • Before the cold hits Insulate pipes in your home's crawl spaces and attic. These exposed pipes are most susceptible to freezing. Remember - the more insulation you use, the better protected your pipes will be.

  • Heat tape or thermostatically-controlled heat cables can be used to wrap pipes. Be sure to use products approved by an independent testing organization, such as Underwriters Laboratories Inc., and only for the use intended (exterior or interior). Closely follow all manufacturers' installation and operation instructions.

  • Seal leaks that allow cold air inside near where pipes are located. Look for air leaks around electrical wiring, dryer vents and pipes. Use caulk or insulation to keep the cold out and the heat in. With severe cold, even a tiny opening can let in enough cold air to cause a pipe to freeze.

  • Disconnect garden hoses and, if practical, use an indoor valve to shut off and drain water from pipes leading to outside faucets. This reduces the chance of freezing in the short span of pipe just inside the house.

  • When the mercury drops a trickle of hot and cold water might be all it takes to keep your pipes from freezing. Let warm water drip overnight, preferably from a faucet on an outside wall.
    Open cabinet doors to allow heat to get to uninsulated pipes under sinks and appliances near exterior walls.

  • Before you go away, set the thermostat in your house no lower than 55°F (12°C). Ask a friend or neighbor to check your house daily to make sure it's warm enough to prevent freezing or
    Shut off and drain the water system. Be aware that if you have a fire protection sprinkler system in your house, it will be deactivated when you shut off the water.

If your pipes freeze don't take chances. If you turn on your faucets and nothing comes out, leave the faucets turned on and call a plumber. If you detect that your water pipes have frozen and burst, turn off the water at the main shut-off valve in the house; leave the water faucets turned on. (Make sure everyone in your family knows where the water shut-off valve is and how to open and close it.)

Never try to thaw a pipe with a torch or other open flame. Water damage is preferable to burning down your house. You may be able to thaw a frozen pipe with the warm air from a hair dryer. Start by warming the pipe as close to the faucet as possible, working toward the coldest section of pipe. Do not use electrical appliances in areas of standing water because you could be electrocuted.

Electrical Panels

Two Important Electrical Panel Tips:
1) You should know where it is located in case you need to shut off all electricity in an emergency, or if a breaker trips and you need to reset it.

2) Do not obstruct access to your main electrical panel by building shelves or storing items in front of it.

Train Kids Fire Safety

If you have small children in your home, make sure one window in each child's bedroom is easily opened. Children have a tendency to try and open windows instead of breaking them to escape fire. Also plan your escape route and meeting area, then practice it.

Fireplace Tips

Before you light your fireplace, make sure the chimney is clean and in good working order. You should have a Licensed Chimeny Sweep clean and evaluate your system once per year.

Fireplaces can add cozy warmth to a home and can be safe if the proper precautions are taken. Before lighting your fireplace, always make sure the damper is open and there is no cover on top of your chimney. Covers are sometimes left by a previous owner. If you have a gas starter, use a low flame setting at the start, to help prevent damage to the firebox.