Category Archives: Maintenance & Cleaning

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 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.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning and Detectors

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, poisonous gas that forms from incomplete combustion of fuels, such as natural or liquefied petroleum gas, oil, wood or coal.

Facts and Figures

  • 480 U.S. residents died between 2001 and 2003 from non-fire-related carbon-monoxide poisoning.
  • Most CO exposures occur during the winter months, especially in December (including 56 deaths, and 2,157 non-fatal exposures), and in January (including 69 deaths and 2,511 non-fatal exposures). The peak time of day for CO exposure is between 6 and 10 p.m.
  • Many experts believe that CO poisoning statistics understate the problem. Because the symptoms of CO poisoning mimic a range of common health ailments, it is likely that a large number of mild to mid-level exposures are never identified, diagnosed, or accounted for in any way in carbon monoxide statistics.
  • Out of all reported non-fire carbon-monoxide incidents, 89% or almost nine out of 10 of them take place in a home.

(read full article here)

VIDEO: When to Service your Gas Fireplace!

At a recent home inspection in Anacortes on Fidalgo Island, I discovered a gas fireplace clearly due for servicing and cleaning. When you begin to see a white, brown or black film beginning to present on the glass front of the fireplace, that’s your first sign that the appliance is due for servicing. As the video explains, it is highly recommended that you hire a professional to do so because if it’s not done properly, you risk carbon monoxide entering the home and soot byproducts outlining the ceiling and wall studs in the home. Manufacturers typically advise servicing annually.

Some Hints for June Home Maintenance

  • Check central air-conditioning units according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Replace filters in forced-air systems. Clean debris from outside condensers or heat pump units.
  • Reset thermostats and automatic sprinkler systems.
  • Wash windows, inside and out (try a solution of three tablespoons non-sudsy ammonia to a gallon of water). To prevent streaking, don’t work in direct sunlight.
  • Clean and inspect gutters. Ensure clips, straps and spikes are tight. Flush debris from downspouts with hose. Make sure downspouts and splash blocks direct water at least three feet away from the foundation.
  • Clean mineral deposits from faucet aerators and shower heads by soaking parts in white vinegar and scrubbing with an old toothbrush.
  • Dust ceiling fan blades.
  • Coat outdoor metal patio furniture with auto polish.
  • If appropriate, have swimming pools cleaned. Inspect and service pool liners and filters.

Open rain leader

If you see an exposed, open pipe at the exterior of your home, it’s likely a gutter downspout rain leader (e.g., a pipe into which the gutters were designed to be routed, to ensure storm water is directed away from the home).  At a recent home inspection in Anacortes, I discovered an open rain leader and recommended it be capped to prevent debris accumulation into the pipe that may block the subterranean drainage system and can be costly to repair.

AFCI Breaker Testing Explained!

AFCI, or arc-fault-circuit-interruptor breakers are common in newer construction homes. Manufacturers recommend testing breakers on a monthly basis. How to test these breakers is advised in this video taken at a recent home inspection in Anacortes on Fidalgo Island. If the breakers don’t “trip” when tested, replacement by an electrician is advised. Continue reading

Don’t pressure wash your roof!

Exposed fiberglass underlayment and granular loss were noted at a recent home inspection in Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island.  This was likely caused by someone pressure washing moss off the roof system.  The issue is that moss has rhizomes, or roots, that imbed into the roof coverings.  When mechanically removed, they take with them the asphalt and granules from the roof coverings, exposing the underlying fiberglass mat, and rendering the roof system compromised.  I strongly recommend against the practice of pressure washing as I’ve seen too many roofs destroyed by this practice.  Treating your roof on a semi-annual basis with zinc granules is advised to help prevent moss growth.  If the growth is pronounced, treatment more often will help speed the process, but it will take time.  Personally, I like a perfect roof, so I treat my new roof four (4) times annually with zinc granules readily available at all hardware stores.  Some homeowners prefer Tide with bleach, others say baking soda works.  Treat, don’t pressure wash!

VIDEO: Gas Fireplace Cleaning…NOT a DIY!

This video explains why it’s important to have your gas fireplace professionally serviced by a qualified contractor. If you clean the glass front and don’t properly seal the front, you risk combustion byproducts entering the home- which results in CO (carbon monoxide) entering the home- together with combustion byproducts “sooting,” or “ghosting,” your interior walls and ceilings (you’ll see the studs in the walls and ceilings outlined in black and need to repaint). So, this is best left to the professionals for safety and cosmetic reasons. Continue reading