Category Archives: Advice

Could occupancy sensors save you money?

Indoor lighting occupancy sensors detect activity within an area. They turn lights on automatically when someone enters a room. They reduce lighting energy use by turning lights off soon after the last occupant has left the room. The sensors must be located where they will detect occupants or activity in all parts of the room.

There are two types of occupancy sensors: Ultrasonic sensors detect sound, while infrared sensors detect heat and motion. In addition to controlling ambient lighting in a room, they are useful for task lighting applications, such as over kitchen counters. In such applications, task lights are turned on by the motion of a person washing dishes, for instance, and automatically turn off a few minutes after the person stops.

Both are readily available online and at retail stores.

Is your chimney leaking?

One thing that brick chimneys, stone chimneys and fireplaces have in common is that eventually most will require some type of maintenance to keep a water tight seal. Leaks into a chimney can cause unsafe heating equipment as well as costly damage to the chimney, the appliances connected to it, and to the building itself. Is your chimney leaking? Are you experiencing water marks on the ceiling or walls near your chimney? Is there water appearing in the firebox? Similarly, are you experiencing cracks on the exterior of the chimney which seem to keep getting bigger or are bricks actually flaking off from your chimney? Water is the common thread between all of these problems (for the most part) and following this checklist should help you to be able to arrest water infiltration or prevent further damage.

January fireplace safety

Keep your family safe with these fireplace safety tips. Build the right size fire, and baby proof the fireplace. Heed safety concerns when cleaning a fireplace and chimney. Learn about fireplace inspection and proper disposal of fireplace ashes. Not sure if you need a chimney sweep to come out to your house? Or, concerned about getting your home dirty? And, what is the difference between having your chimney inspected and having it swept? Chimney Safety Institute of America offers two short online tutorials that walk you through the basics on chimney sweeping and inspections

January home tips

January is a good time to inspect furniture, cabinets and vanities for loose knobs, pulls and hinges. Tighten or repair as necessary.

Tighten screws on drawers, doors, and furniture.

Lubricate squeaky door hinges with lightweight machine oil.

Free sticky doors by trimming edges or shimming hinges with thin pieces of cardboard.

Check the house and make a list of minor household repairs needed.

Make a list of broken electrical face plates, missing pulls or knobs, locks that need lubrication, and spots that need caulking around sinks and tubs. Go to the home improvement store and buy everything you need to make all of your repairs at once.

Post holidays floor care

After all the holiday traffic your hardwood floors and carpets may be looking a little worse for the wear. Maintaining good hardwood floor care is not an easy task, but with these doityourself.com tips, you will be able to remove stains, polish, and keep your hardwood floor looking new. The site also has a good carpet cleaning article to help you clean, remove stains and extend the life of your carpets.

Winter holiday safety tips

Winter holidays are a time for families and friends to get together. But that also means a greater risk for fire. Following a few simple tips will ensure a happy and fire-safe holiday season.

Holiday decoration fires are most likely to happen in the living room, family room or den. Almost half of all home decoration fires are started by candles. Half of holiday decoration fires happen because decorations are placed too close to a heat source. Blow out lit candles when you leave the room or go to bed. Turn off all light strings and decorations before leaving home or going to bed. See more of the National Fire Protections Association’s suggestions for winter holiday decorating and entertaining safety.

Unsecure deck joists

It’s all too common to find metal deck joist hardware that isn’t fully fastened or nailed.  How much extra effort does it take to pound in a few more nails and allow the hardware to serve its intended purpose?  This is a simple, but necessary, fix.  This was discovered at a home inspection in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island.

Video: Handyman Furnace Filter Cover

Typically, furnace filters have a sheet metal cover with latches for ease-of-removal and replacement. In this case, tape was used which, while effective, isn’t really a professionally installed filter compartment cover. This was discovered at a recent home inspection in Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island.

Signs of water intrusion

So, you see a black spot on your sheetrock ceiling, what to do?  Well, you may very well have a water intrusion issue.  Pictured here is apparent mold growth on a sheetrock ceiling which, when probed with my moisture meter, revealed underlying saturation within the ceiling cavity above.  The likely contributing factor was a roof leak for which I recommended further evaluation, remediation and repair by a qualified contractor.  There is the possibility of underlying damage and mold growth not visible until the sheetrock is removed.  This was discovered at an Orcas Island home inspection in the San Juan Islands.

Video: Handyman Support Posts in Crawl Space

Handyman support columns and bases were discovered under a masonry fireplace in the crawl space at a recent home inspection in Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island. Upside down CMU masonry blocks (holes should face upwards!) and aggressive shimming, together with the lack of a positive connection between the post base and above floor structure, warranted further evaluation and repair by a qualified contractor.