Home Tips

Home Tips

A lot of home wear and damage can be prevented with regular home maintenance. Below are some links to suggested tasks to help keep your home looking as new as the day you moved in.

    • Set your thermostat “as high as you can stand it.” For every degree you raise the thermostat for eight hours, you will save about 1½ percent in energy costs.
    • Use a programmable thermostat to help cool before you get home.
    • Check air filters monthly and change them when necessary.
    • Use heat- producing appliances, such as the dishwasher and the dryer, in the evening when it is cooler outside.

    • Be familiar with the three basic components that make up any electrical system: power supply, circuit wiring and protection, and the load. The power supply is the electricity that runs through the system. The circuit wiring is the wiring that connects all the components of the system. Circuit breakers or fuses work to protect the system. The load is anything that uses electricity.
    • Never put a higher- watt bulb in your lighting fixtures than is recommended by the manufacturer, This can burn up the fixture’ s wiring, leading to a fire hazard.
    • Never cover up extension cords with furniture, floor coverings or window treatments. They can overheat and start a fire. Also avoid overloading extension cords, and do not use them on continual basis.
    • Flickering lights, outlets that work sporadically, circuit breakers that frequently trip, loose wall outlets and bulbs that blow out frequently are indications of minor electrical problems. If one or more of these events occur, Call a professional electrician to check out the situation.
    • Be alert for the smell of burning rubber or plastic, the feel of heat coming from electrical components, or the sound of sizzling or humming coming from electrical components. These are indications that something is amiss with your electrical system.
    • Know the location of the control panel and the main shut- off to the electrical system. Labeling in the control panel should identify each circuit breaker’ s circuit. The main shut- off may be located outside at the meter. If something is amiss with the system, everything can be shut down here. Panels need to be accessible.
    • When the time comes to hire a professional electrician, there are several avenues for finding a reputable contractor. The Georgia Secretary of State’ s office can provide a list of licensed electrical contractors or inspectors for your area. Also, check with your local Chamber of Commerce and the Better Business Bureau. Another good source is the Independent Electrical Contractors Association.
    • When hiring a professional electrician, ask for references and call to check them. Also, make sure the company has workers’ compensation insurance, This will protect you in the event that an electrician is injured on your property.
      Tips compiled using information from Georgia Power Company, Highland Electric Inc., Meer Electric and Pat Murphy Electric, Inc.

    • Store all matches, lighters and lighting fluid out of the reach of children.
    • Do not leave ovens, burners, or other cooking appliances on while unattended.
    • Install smoke detectors and fire extinguishers on every floor of your home. Check batteries often and replace when low.
    • Plan and discuss different escape routes and outdoor meeting areas with your family in case of an emergency.
    • When attempting to leave a burning house, drop to your knees and crawl to avoid excessive smoke inhalation.
    • If a person’s clothes catch in fire, remember the rule: stop (whatever you’re doing), drop (to the ground immediately) and roll (so the fire extinguishes itself).

    It’ s time to spring into action. Spring and fall are the best times of year to work on the outside of your home. Make sure these tasks are done before the heat of summer arrives. Here are some home- maintenance suggestions for spring.
    • Exterior – Take a pad and paper and walk all the way around your house, taking a good look at the exterior. Make note of what projects and repairs need to he done and put together a to-do list.
    • Gutters – Clean gutters and check and extend the downspouts if needed. Clogged gutters and downspouts can create all kinds of problems- from wet basements and crawl spaces to stained ceilings.
    • Faucets – Turn on outside water faucets and bathhouses that have been closed down for the winter. Check for any broken pipes.
    • Fireplace – Clean the ashes out of the fireplace. Close the flue and make sure it has a good seal. You don’ t want conditioned air going up the flue or bugs coming down. Move any fire starter and fire fuel woodpiles away from the house.
    • Air Conditioning – Have the air conditioner serviced. This is the least expensive time of the year to have the units checked and/or serviced, and it’s a good time to change out the air filter for your system.
    • Deck – Check wood decks for popped or loosened boards. Clean and seal wood decks. Clear sealer for decks lasts for about a year after it is applied.
    • Windows – Clean the windows and let the sun in. This cleaning will show you where the glass may need to be re-glazed. You also may discover cracked windowpanes and rotted sills.
    • Trees – Check for potential tree problems. Dead trees close to standing property may be a serious potential problem for you or your neighbors. Branches interfering with power and telephone lines can he a hazard or an inconvenience. The worst time to call tree professionals is when you and everyone else need them.
    • Emergency – Review your emergency readiness plan. Spring is thunderstorm and tornado season. If you have built emergency kits, check the expiration dates of stored items, like batteries and water. Checklist provided by Lou Alvarado of Handy Husband.

    • Listen to a battery- powered radio for news updates and public safety messages.
    • Shut off all unnecessary electrical appliances and equipment.
    • Test your phone and cell phone, but use them sparingly to avoid overwhelming the telephone system and to save your phone’ s battery charge.
    • Locate emergency numbers and have them close by. Stay indoors and in a cool area; avoid engaging in extraneous activities.
    • If you have a portable generator, run it only outdoors with adequate ventilation. Never use a generator indoors or in attached garages. Exhaust fumes contain carbon monoxide, which can he deadly if inhaled. If you haven’ t stocked up on fresh batteries in advance, you can borrow batteries from other gadgets to power more essential devices; do not remove batteries from your smoke detector, it is an important life-saving device, particularly during a blackout.
    • Avoid the use of candles if at all possible. Instead, use flashlights or glow sticks. If you must use candles, do not put them on or near anything that will burn.

    • Inspect your roof and flashing twice a year, using binoculars outside and a bright light in the attic.
    • Water should be directed into downspouts and not allowed to drain from the end of a gutter onto an adjoining roof slope. Standing water in gutters should be eliminated.
    • Be sure to maintain caulk around all doors and windows. Debris collecting between the screen and sill will hold moisture and lead to damage. If screens are not used, remove and store them for the next homeowner, or drill weep holes at the bottom rails of screens and clean behind them often.
    • Find out what type of foundation drainage system you have and make sure it is working. Make sure drains are not obstructed by dirt and debris. Other drainage systems should not be tied into foundation drains.
    • Check to see if your basement has a musty smell or damp feeling. Efflorescence ( powdery white deposits) on poured or block walls also is a sign of moisture. Dehumidification and possibly sealing is needed if excess moisture is in the air.
    • Excessive moisture in bathrooms can cause wallpaper to peel and mold and mildew to grow. Homeowners need to ensure moist bath air is sent outside ( not into the attic) with an exhaust fan.
    • Make sure you have a good, working shower pan, the membrane that goes between the mortar bed in your shower and the sub- flooring and stud walls.
    • Keep grout and caulking well maintained to avoid moisture problems in walls and floors. Rocking toilets and the smell of sewer gas are indicators of a failed seal and possible leak.
    • Consider a maintenance contract with an HVAC company. An annual checkup can keep many potential system- related water problems at bay.
    • To make insurance claims easier, keep a detailed, photographic inventory of all your personal belongings. If damage occurs, do not dispose of any items you feel may be a complete loss until they’ve been examined by an adjuster.


    Thunderstorms and Lightening

    • Before a storm, check outside areas of your property. Secure outdoor objects Like lawn furniture that could blow away. Take light objects inside. Shutter windows securely and brace outside doors.
    • During the storm, listen to battery- operated radio or television for the latest storm update. Do not handle electrical equipment. Avoid telephones. Stay away from the television, Avoid bathtubs, water faucets and sinks, because metal pipes can transmit electricity.
    • If you’ re outdoors, attempt to get inside a building. If no structure is available, squat low to the ground as quickly as possible. Avoid tall structures such as towers, tall trees, fences, telephone poles or power lines. Stay away from natural lightning rods such is golf clubs, tractors, fishing rods, bicycles or camping equipment. Stay away from bodies of water. If you are in an isolated area and you feel your hair stand on end (which indicates lightning is about to strike), drop to your knees and bend forward, putting your hands on your knees. Do not lie flat on the ground.
    • Tornadoes

    • Go to a storm cellar, underground excavation or basement.
    • Get under sturdy furniture, if possible. If you do not have a basement, choose an inside Wall away from windows and lie flat against central halls, bathrooms and closets.
    • If in a mobile home, go to the nearest community shelter or another sturdy building, if possible.

    • Install a four-sided, isolation pool fence with self-closing and self-latching gates. It should be at least 4 feet tall and completely separate the pool from the house and play area of the yard to prevent children from having direct access to the pool.
    • Be sure children swimming or playing near the pool are constantly supervised by an adult.
    • Never swim alone– that goes for adults,too.
    • Avoid alcohol during or just before swimming, and never drink alcohol while supervising children.
    • Be sure your children know how to swim. Once they are 4 years old enroll them in swimming classes.
    • Always have a phone handy around the pool, and know how to contact local emergency medical services.
    • Learn CPR (cardio- pulmonary resuscitation). This is particularly important for pool owners and individuals who regularly participate in water recreation.

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