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Does your family have a home escape plan in case of a fire?

by Rose Price

It's National Fire Prevention Week

Ensure your family's safety by following these critical safety tips:

1. Draw a map of your family home with every room included.

2. Plan two exit points for each room.

3. Keep all doorways & windows clutter free and clear of any obstacles.

4. Designate an outside meeting spot once all members have exited the home.

5. Practice your fire drill home exit plan with all family members.

6. Make sure to test all carbon monoxide and smoke detectors for full functionality.  Each room in the home should be equipped with these.

7. Do all family members know how to call the Fire Department?

8. Make sure your house numbers are clearly visible from the street...especially at night.

For more information and family tips, visit the National Fire Prevention Association.

Winter Home Tips For Your Champaign Home: Ice Dam Prevention

by Rose Price

 

Icicles hanging off your house look beautiful, but they're usually a sign of trouble. 

The same conditions that allow icicles to form; snow-covered roofs and freezing weather, also lead to ice dams (thick ridges of solid ice that build up along the eaves). 

These dams can tear off gutters, loosen shingles, and cause water to back up and pour into your house. Obviously when this happens, the results aren’t pretty.  Paint peels, floors warp, ceilings get stained and worse sag, and the insulation in your attic becomes soggy, which is magnet for harmful mold.  

How it happens:

First, heat collects in the attic and warms the roof...but doesn't warm the eaves.

The snow on the warm roof melts, causing the water to rush down to the eaves…which are still cold.  So, the water freezes again. 

This ice accumulates along the eaves, forming a dam, preventing the water from running into the gutters and away from the house. So the Melt water from the warm roof backs up behind this ice, forcing it to flow beneath the shingles, and finally into the house.

Find out how to get rid of them OR better yet, prevent them below:  

 

Quick Fixes: 

Hacking away at ice dams with a hammer, chisel, or shovel is bad for your roofing—obviously…and is also quite dangerous for you. Throwing salt on them will do a lot more damage than the ice.  So, what do you do?

 Freeze It

Bring a box fan into the attic and aim it at the underside of the roof where water is actively leaking in. This targeted dose of cold air should freeze the water in its tracks.  This method can stop water from flowing in in just a few minuets.  

Rake It

Pounding is bad.  Raking, you can get away with.  Simply use a long handled aluminum roof rake to rake the snow and ice.  You want to make sure it is a dedicated roof rake, so you don’t damage your shingles. 

Steal Your Wife’s Pantyhose

Ok, so maybe you should ask first.  But you can lessen the damage after a dam has formed with a simple trick.  Fill the leg of an old pair of pantyhose with Calcium Chloride Ice Melter.  Then simply lay the hose onto the roof so it crosses the ice dam and hangs over the gutter.  The calcium chloride will melt through the snow and ice and create a channel for water to flow down into the gutters or off the roof, thus eliminating the backed up water.  

 

Permanent Fixes 

Preventing ice dams for good is simple: Just keep the roof the same temperature as the eaves. Do that by increasing ventilation, adding insulation, and sealing off every possible air leak that might warm the underside of the roof.

Taking care of these trouble spots (listed in order of priority) will give you a dam-free winter and will also lower your energy bill!

How to prevent it?

Two words: Heated Cables.  Attach with clips along the roof's edge in a zigzag pattern. Heated cables combat ice dams that lift shingles and cause leaks. This method allows you to equalize your roof's temperature by heating it from the outside.  Keeping your roof one consistent temperature will prevent ice dams from flowing beneath your shingles.  You’ll want to be sure to install the cables well before bad weather hits.

 More Prevention Tips:

1. Ventilate Eaves And Ridge. A ridge vent paired with continuous soffit vents will circulate cold air under the entire roof. Both ridge and soffit vents should have the same size openings and provide at least 1 square foot of opening for every 300 square feet of attic floor. Place baffles at the eaves to maintain a clear path for the airflow from the soffit vents.

 

2. Seal Your Attic. Attics are full of air leaks.  Fill these! This will help keep everything the same temperature in your attic, which will in turn help to keep the roof one consistent temperature. You may want to add some more insulation as well.  Follow the video below for instructions on how to seal attic air leaks.  

 

3. Always Exhaust to the Outside. Make sure that the ducts connected to the kitchen, bathroom, and dryer vents all lead outdoors through either the roof or walls, but never through the soffit.

 

5. Install Sealed Can Lights. Old-style recessed lights give off great plumes of heat and cannot be insulated without creating a fire hazard. Replace these with sealed "IC" fixtures, which can be covered with insulation. Keeping the heat from escaping into your attic.

 

6. Flash Around Chimneys. Bridge the gap between your chimney and house framing with L-shaped steel flashing.  * NOTE * Using canned spray foam or insulation isn't fire safe.

 

7. Seal and Insulate Ducts. Spread fiber-reinforced mastic on the joints of HVAC ducts and exhaust ducts. Cover them entirely with R-5 or R-6 foil-faced fiberglass.

 

8. Caulk Cracks, Gaps and Air Leaks. Seal around electrical cables and vent pipes with a fire-stop sealant. Also, look for any spots where light shines up from below or the insulation is stained black by the dirt from passing air.

Looking to sell your home this winter?  Want more tips like these to keep your home in tip-top shape this selling season?  Contact the Rose Price Team for more Champaign Home Tips.  
 

8 Things You Should Do When Moving Into A New Home

by Rose Price

Buying a home is obviously a BIG investment.  There are factors you've been considering for months: location, amenities, neighbors, schools, and more.  Once the papers have been signed, it's easy to relax and forget key chores every homebuyer should do once they move into their new home, but don't worry, here is a list of 8 important things you don't want to forget.   

1. Change the locks

You really don't know who else has keys to your place...when it comes to security, it’s always a good idea to make sure you’re the only one with keys, and the only way to really be sure is to get new locks. This is done by either re-keying or buying an entirely new lock set.  You can replace dead bolts yourself for around ten dollars.  Another option, becoming popular these days, is digital locks.  These open with a code and work with a home automation system (smart home).  So, you can live "key free" as well as lock or unlock your doors remotely.  

2. Look for leaks

Ok, so you've probably had a home inspection done before you bought the property, however, even if this report came back clean, theres no harm in double checking.  The risk is too great.  One way people are combating these water issues is with a set of sensors linked to their smart home system.  These sensors give you real time information for- if and when- a water leak develops.  This way you can be absolutely sure leaks have been taken care of, and if one occurs, you can handle it before a lot of damage can occur.   

*TIP: Here’s a neat trick: Check your water meter at the beginning and end of a two-hour window in which no water is being used in your house. If the reading is different, you have a leak.


3. Kick out the pests

 Pests are tricky.  You may not even know you have a pest problem. The previous homeowners may not have known about the issue, or maybe they simply "forgot" about the “friendly” squirrel living in the attic.  Well, there are a number of ways to get rid of these critters, some are more squeamish than others.  But, the easiest way is to hire a professional, which will run you usually costs about $100-$300, and there is a way to ensure these professionals don't miss anything; similarly to the water sensors, you can place motion sensors where suspected pests are, which will then alert your mobile device when motion is detected.  Now you know exactly where these pests have been hiding and can call a pest control company and point them right to where the problem exists.  

4. Inspect your Furnace / AC

Get familiar with your new HVAC system as soon as possible. Make sure to take a close look at the duct work around your furnace for broken or torn ducts and excessive taping.  Also, stand near the furnace while it’s running- the air should move through the system not into the room.  

Digital thermostats are also a great investment.  Especially ones you can control with your smart phone or tablet.  They give you the ability to set your temperatures remotely... say if you're on vacation and it is a super hot day back home.  

5. Update your Lighting

Everyone has their own unique lighting preferences.  I like being able to change the brightness of lights in each particular room, so I like the dimmable ones. Once you've lived in the house for a couple weeks, you start to get a feel for your preferences in this particular space.  Make it YOUR home.  And yes, you guessed it, you can also set these up digitally and control them from your phone! 

6. Get to know your Circuit Breaker 

It's always a good idea to figure out what fuses control which room and then label them accordingly.  It will take two people: One to flip the switch and and yell "How about now?" and the other to stand in the different rooms and yell back "yeah, that one!".  All kidding aside, it's good to figure out your new circuit breaker before you may really need it. If you need some assistance, your local hardware store is usually a good source for some of the more basic questions.

7. Get to know the Main Water Valve 

You want to make sure you can turn this valve off incase of an emergency; tornado or plumbing emergencies are common.  Another smart idea is to turn this valve off when you leave town.  You don't want to come home from vacation to find a pool of water in the basement.  It could be located outside or inside the home; find it and make sure you can turn it off.  Then test it by going inside and turning on the faucet.  

8. Steam Clean your Carpets

If you really want to get off to a fresh start, steam clean your carpets before you move any of the furniture in. You can hire a professional for around $50. a room or you can rent a steam cleaners and do it yourself.  Either way, you won't regret it.  

 

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