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Making your home safe and secure for your family

Mar 01, 2018 08:30AM

Making your home safe and secure for your family

Just as important as projects which improve your home’s aesthetic (remodeling a basement, upgrading a kitchen) are those that make your house more secure for your family. Have you thought about installing a home security system? Is your basement at risk of flooding this spring? Below, we tackle a few common safety issues homeowners run across, and some simple ways to avoid potentially big problems.

Home security systems—make the right investment

According to an article on securitytoday.com, it’s a good idea to create a game-plan and involve all members of your family in the discussion before installing a home security system. Make a list of your family’s home security needs and expectations, along with what you want the system to do and not do. When considering home security essentials, take into account the specific layout of your home and all of the areas you want secured (doors, garage doors, windows, etc.). You may also want to research the amount and type of crime in your neighborhood to determine which security system is best for you.

Of course, in the age of smart home products, a sophisticated security setup will connect with your home Wi-Fi network and allow you to surveil your home remotely. Today, home security systems can interface with laptops, tablets and smartphones, and video cameras allow you to monitor and control your home in real time: “Entry-level systems typically include a couple of door and window sensors, a motion detector and a hub that communicates with these devices using one or more wireless protocols.” (pcmag.com).

If you live in an apartment or simply want to spend less money, you could choose to install a security camera in lieu of an integrated security system. Many of these standalone security cameras are also able to connect to your home’s Wi-Fi, allowing you to monitor activity with your phone or tablet.

House pests—spring is their time

Remember your first apartment? Chances are, at one point or another you lived in a space infested with some type of pest. From spiders, ants and mosquitoes to cockroaches and mice, home pests are gross, unsettling and have the potential to carry disease. How can you prevent pests from showing up and keep them out of your home this spring?

As it turns out, basic home maintenance goes a long way toward keeping most common pests at bay. Insects and smaller rodents can fit through tiny cracks and openings, so you should fix gaps or holes in broken screens, doors and cracks in your walls (brandpointcontent.com). Further deter pests by sanitizing any place food is stored; keep sinks clean to avoid attracting flies and wipe up all food residue to avoid attracting cockroaches and ants. It’s also a good idea to vigilantly monitor for droppings and other visual signs of infestation so that a potential issue can be cleared up quickly.

When it comes to your yard, keep trees near your home trimmed so squirrels can’t access your home through your roof. You should also try to keep outdoor trash cans secured and yard clutter at a minimum to fend off a variety of rodents. Of course, mosquitoes are one of the worst warm weather pests, and also arguably one of the most difficult to defend against.  

“Mosquito treatment is a big thing in today’s world with the diseases they carry,” said Brittany Sigler, Mosquito Joe Operations Manager.

Luckily, barrier treatments from pest control companies like Mosquito Joe of Tri-Cities can help keep your yard clear of mosquitoes this spring and summer. Barrier treatments only take around 15-25 minutes, are customized for the size of each yard, and last around three weeks.

Plumbing—avoid a spring basement flood

Unfortunately, spring basement flooding is an all-too common occurrence that can accompany the more welcomed signs of warmer weather. Fortunately, you can substantially minimize your risk of flooding by taking preventative action before problems arise.  

Many spring flooding issues are due to faulty sump pumps (the pump used to remove water that accumulates in a water-collecting basin, usually in the basement of homes). If you have a below-grade sump pump, keep it free of debris, and if you have a portable sump pump position it in the lowest part of your basement connected to a power source (bobvila.com).

“Make sure your sump pump is not more than seven years old,” added Douglas Saam, Bulldog Plumbing. “If you have a battery backup system, make sure it’s not more than five years old. Most backup systems have a way to test them, and it’s a good idea to test early before you have an issue.”

Outdoors, keep gutters free of debris and position downspouts away from your foundation. You should also inspect your home’s exterior foundation and use epoxy to fill foundation cracks. Additionally, spring is a good time to have your sewer inspected and your septic tank cleaned; periods of heavy rainfall will tax septic tanks and clog sewers, which can cause flooding.

A/C—why you should get it checked

According to the Farmer’s Almanac, April and May will be warmer and drier than normal this year, and summer will be hotter and drier than normal--in short, you’ll want your A/C to be up and running.

“Typically, everyone waits until the first hot day to inspect their air conditioner. That’s when they discover mice lived in there and chewed up all the wires,” said Thomas Wangler Jr., Owner and President of Confident Aire in Batavia. “Anyone who wants to inspect their unit themselves should turn off the breaker on the inside of the house (this breaker is usually twice as wide as a normal breaker). There’s also typically a service disconnect on the outside of the house they can pull out.”

Wangler also urged homeowners to check and change their air filters on a regular basis. A clogged air filter causes ice to form on the air conditioner's evaporator coils. When the ice melts, water will flood in the area around the furnace and inside the furnace itself.

If you don’t feel comfortable inspecting your air conditioner yourself, consider scheduling an A/C tune up before you turn your unit on for the first time this spring. Among other things, a comprehensive tune up will involve an HVAC expert checking the filter, inspecting the thermostat mounting, inspecting the indoor blower and checking the unit’s electrical wiring.

Exterior home security—roofs, windows, doors and foundation

Everyone deserves a roof over their head. How do you know when yours is in trouble?

“If your roof’s leaking, or if you see shingles or other materials in your yard it’s time to replace your roof,” said Brian Hunter, D-Wing Construction. “You may also need a roof replacement after a major storm if you see curling shingles or excess granules in your gutter.”

Likewise, windows and doors can pose safety issues when they’re not properly sealed and fog up or allow drafts into your home. And while window and door replacements might be far down on some homeowners’ to-do lists, most new windows are more durable and energy efficient, and new doors and windows will also increase your home value should you decide to sell.

Finally, know how to spot the warning signs of home foundation problems before they create major issues down the road. Indoors, watch for doors that begin to jam or fail to latch. You should also look out for cracks that appear in walls where the wall meets the ceiling. Additionally, windows that stick or fail to close completely can sometimes signal an issue with a home’s foundation. Outside, a curve or bulge in a block foundation or a poured concrete wall is a signal that the foundation has shifted, or that the soil around your foundation is expanding and contracting and putting pressure on the walls. (houselogic.com)

If you think you might have an issue with your foundation, hire a structural engineer to provide an evaluation. Fixing your home’s foundation can be expensive, but as with most home projects it’s better not to wait. 

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