Just How Safe Are Our Homes?
I recently read a news article about an Electrical Company in Montgomery County Maryland, “Fab Electric” that told a story about a very dangerous problem they found that probably saved someone’s life! I’ve Known Jim Fab for a few years and we share one thing in common: we really care about the well being of our customers. When I read that article about his company, I was inspired to write this article about the most common household hazards we found over the last month. I can only hope that these tips will also save someone’s life, but at the very least, I can bring to your attention some of the more dangerous common hazards around homes.
One thing almost everyone looks forward to every Memorial day weekend is the first family cookout on the deck. This year, before you fire up the old grill, lift up the cooking grates to check for nesting material from birds and other animals. Make sure that nests won’t block the flow of gas and cause a sudden combustion when lighting the grill. Also, make sure your grill is at least 5′ away from your home so you don’t have to worry about the heat from the grill melting your siding. If the owner of the home pictured here had waited a little longer to come back outside and check on their steaks, their home probably would have caught on fire! Something else to think about is the condition of your deck; when was the last time that it was washed and sealed to remove slippery mildew? When was it last inspected to ensure that the railings and footers were stable and in good condition? If it’s been over a year, visit our website, or give us a call for a free estimate on deck cleaning for Montgomery County Maryland homes.
Some mulches, especially the ground rubber commonly used in playgrounds, can ignite quickly and without warning in certain circumstances. It is one of the most unsuspecting, yet common hazards around homes. Mulch is a decomposing organic material, a process which produces heat; heat which can build up inside deep layers of mulch. Combine that with hot air, low humidity, and direct sunlight, and the risk of a sudden fire grows. Though mulch fires usually start small, they can spread quickly, are difficult to put out and produce poisonous fumes.
Overall, mulches high in oils, such as pinebark and shredded cypress bark, can be ignited easily from a carelessly dropped cigarette. Besides cigarettes, some deck stains can also spontaneously burst into flame if left on rags in a confined area, or in some cases, if the stain is sprayed onto mulch and left to dry. You have probably seen freshly laid mulch smoking occasionally as it starts to decompose on a hot sunny day. When you see this, just keep in mind that it doesn’t take much to get it to ignite!
Exterior outlets like the one shown in this photo can easily break without you realizing it. Sometimes they are also improperly installed with gaskets, without covers, or improperly caulked leaving a tiny gap that water can enter during a rainstorm. If left unfixed, a tiny problem like this could easily cause your home to burn down while you are at work, or even while you are at home sleeping. Exterior outlets may be handy to have but they can also be extremely dangerous if they are not properly maintained. By replacing these outlets with a watertight, or in-use outlet covers and a GFCI outlet, you can prevent damage to your home and danger to yourself. An outlet with a short can also easily electrocute someone while plugging something in. By using a cover like the one shown below you can keep the outside outlet safely covered even while cords are plugged in. The National Electrical Code also requires the use of ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) for outdoor outlets. A GFCI outlet trips itself when it senses a current leakage or a short circuit, severing the flow of electricity to prevent damage or a fire.
Another word of caution: do not attempt to perform electrical or any other type of utility repair yourself. Hire a professional to handle any home issue involving plumbing, electricity or gas. Even for work that we don’t perform, you can always call us to get a referral. The dangers of working with any type of utility just aren’t worth the risk to your health, or your home. If you watch the news, you have probably seen a story where an unqualified person tried to fix a gas powered dryer incorrectly, which resulted in the house blowing up. Incidents like these happen all the time to inexperienced contractors. Saving $100 bucks or so just isn’t worth the risk of losing your home or your life. If you think it is, please call us first, and we will try to work something out with you!
If it’s been a while since your home has been inspected, I highly recommend that you get this done at least every three years. Home inspections aren’t just for when you’re buying or selling a home. A home inspector can find hidden problems that you might not be aware of, before they become major problems that cost far more to fix, and that may additionally threaten your safety.
We launched our new web site and upgraded some of it’s features including our online estimating system, online payments and some other new features where will be running unique specials and discounts, like our Facebook page, YouTube Channel, Twitter, and our RSS FEED. The services offered in some of these will help protect you against common hazards around homes, such as those listed above. We hope you enjoy these new areas and sign up for them this week for some of the free prizes we are giving away this week!
If you would like to contact us to schedule a service, get an estimate, or if you need immediate attention, please call our main office at 301-216-9675.
Don’t forget, we also have an extensive network of contractors and service providers for anything you could possibly need from Accountants to Real Estate Agents! If you would like a referral for anything at all, just give us a call at 301-216-9675 or email us!
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