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Shut-off locations are the first thing that homeowners need
to be aware of. Depending on the emergency, it often becomes necessary
to shut-off a utility quickly. Therefore, every responsible member
of a household should make a mental note of the shut-off locations
and understand how each operates.
Water can be turned off either at a meter near a curb or at one close
to a house. Shutting it off near a meter usually requires a plumber's
key and a little muscle, although some modern valves are able to be
turned off with an ordinary wrench, and some with just fingers. When
the water is on, the valve key should lie in the same direction as
the pipe, and can be turned off with a ninety degree turn, leaving
the key at right angles to the pipe.
Shutting it off at the house is considerably easier,
and accomplished by turning a gate valve clockwise until it stops,
or by turning the handle of a sweep valve until it stops or is at
right angles to the pipe.
Shutting off the gas works in exactly the same way, except the valve
is nearly always on a vertical pipe below the meter. It requires either
an adjustable wrench or a specialized slotted tool. The valve can be
turned ninety degrees in either direction, or until it is at right angles
to the pipe.
Turning off electricity is easy. Most modern electric panels have
a disconnect switch inside a weatherproof cover, which shuts off the
entire service as shown in the picture below. However, older panels
could have a similar switch, or fused pull-out, in an adjacent panel.
And some could have a lever at the side of the panel, which serves
the same purpose.
is important to a home. It can add beauty and brighten our lives with
birds, bees, flowers, and shrubbery. There are few sights more pleasant
than a crocus that has pushed its way through a bank of snow and turned
to follow the sun, or night-blooming cactus that has opened its petals
to the moon, or the delicate dance of butterflies.
Most people enjoy nature and spend many happy hours pruning and tending
to their gardens. However, if a property is not maintained it will
quickly return to a wild state, and this is not good for any structure.
Seemingly innocent bushes and vines can quickly overgrow a house,
deteriorate its surfaces and introduce vermin, moisture, and
Trees and bushes need to be pruned, and foliage kept 12 inches
away from house, walls, and other structures. Tree roots can crack
driveways, walkways, and other hard surfaces with relative ease, and
trees should never be planted too close to the foundation
of a house. Ivy provides an inexpensive and hardy ground cover, but
it can also become a haven for rodents.
grounded outlets is quite simple with ordinary electrical
testers, such as those in the picture to the left, which are available
at most hardware stores. They will show common faults in the wiring,
such as an open ground, open hot, open neutral or reversed polarity,
which are explained on the testers. The round button on the tester
to the left (right image) allows the user to see if the outlet is
ground fault protected. Even though it may not appear to be, it could
be protected by a breaker in a panel or from a ground fault protected
outlet in another location, such as in a garage or a bathroom. Common
but potentially dangerous faults with the wiring are indicated on
the testers as follows:
ground means that the ground wire is not attached or not present
and cannot provide a pathway to ground, which poses a safety-hazard.
Open neutral means that the neutral wire is not attached,
and the outlet will not work.
Open hot means that the hot wire is not attached, and
the outlet will not work.
Hot/ground reverse means exactly as stated, and is
a dangerous defect.
Hot/neutral reverse means that the hot and neutral
wires have been installed in reverse, a dangerous defect commonly referred
to a "reverse polarity".
Electricity can kill, and should only be serviced by
qualified personnel. Homeowners should never service any component unless
you are qualified to do so.
Concerns: All plate glass sliding doors should be
replaced with doors that have tempered glass or, at the very least,
should be retrofitted with safety-film. Also, they should have decals
at eye level to alert persons to what can be an almost invisible barrier.
Store fuels and flammable objects away from ignition sources. If children
or domestic animals occupy the residence, make sure that the garage
door opener has an infra-red reversing mechanism or is pressure-sensitive.
All electrical outlets should be ground fault protected.
Ducts (where visible) should be inspected annually to ensure that
there is no open seams where energy is being lost and where rodents
could enter. In addition, wherever there is moisture, and this includes
condensation, there is the possibility of mold.
Safety Tip: As winter takes hold across the Midwest your
furnace and other heating equipment will be used more often. Purchase
a Carbon Monoxide Detector. CO poisoning is a colorless,
odorless gas that is produced during the combustion of fossil fuels,
including natural gas. Many CO related incidents could be avoided
by simply installing a CO detector. In fact as of 2007 Illinois
law requires that every home a properly operating CO detector
installed within 15 feet
of every room used for sleeping.
Those exposed to dangerous levels of CO will experience flu-like symptoms
including dizziness, nausea, headache and coughing, irregular heartbeat,
and pale skin with cherry red lips.
||You can avoid the buildup of dangerous levels of CO in your home by
following these guidelines.
•Never run a combustion engine, such as the one
found in your car, portable generator, lawn mower or snow blower in
•Never leave a fuel-burning portable heater unattended
while people sleep.
•Never heat you home with your gas range or oven.
•Never burn charcoal inside your home or garage.
•Be sure to open your chimney flue when using your fireplace.
•Have your furnace cleaned and checked by a qualified
Streaks, They're destroying the longevity and curb appeal of your
The streaks and stains are actually an algae feeding on the limestone
filler in the asphalt shingle on your roof.
Roof Algae is photoautotrophic cyananobacteria spores that grow in
colonies and are carried by wind, birds, squirrels, etc. The colonies
need heat, moisture and nutrients to grow. What better place for them
to thrive than on your shingles causing ugly black streaks?
If left neglected for too long this algae will shorten
the life span of your roof and destroy your property's curb appeal.
Don't let anyone use a power washer on your roof - IT WILL
DON'T LET ANYONE TELL YOU TO REPLACE YOUR ROOF, have
it professionally cleaned by a qualified roof cleaning company.
you have an artificial tree, be sure it's labeled,
certified or identified as fire retardant.
• If you buy a live tree, make sure it's fresh. The needles
should be hard to pull off the branches.
• To keep a live tree fresh, cut off about two inches of the trunk for better water absorption, and make sure the tree has plenty of water.
• Place the tree away from heat sources and high-traffic areas.
• Check your tree lights for frayed or broken wires. Replace
• Take care with candles. Place them away from flammable
decorations and in locations where they cannot be knocked over or
reached by children or pets. Never leave them unattended.
When searching for a contractor you should:
• Ask neighbors and friends if they have worked with any contractor
they would recommend
• Look in the yellow pages / internet
• Focus on local companies
• Get three bids with details in writing
• Ask about previous experience
• Check references
• Check with the Better Business Bureau if any complaints
Tricks to Scare Away Burglars
• Check the latest tech. There are all
sorts of new home security devices, like doorbells that ring on your
cell phone and inexpensive easy to install surveillance systems, such
as the Canary. get advice at your electronics store or read on-line
• You can't hide. Crooks know all the
"secret" places so forget about hiding your keys around
the house. Instead ask a trusted neighbor or friend who lives nearby
to keep spare set. Or better yet, consider a keyless entryway.
• Forget Facebook. Resist posting pictures of
your vacation on social media while you're away. Friends may not be
the only ones reading.
• Don't advertise big buys. An empty computer
or television carton left on the curb is a flag to crooks. So drive
those big boxes to a recycling plant or cut them up.
• Ask for a reference. Before hiring anyone
get personal recommendations. Even so, don't leave a worker alone
in your home, even for a few minutes.
• Keep your mail out of reach. Identify
thieves can find a treasure trove in your mailbox, so consider a locking
model. And if you haven't gone paperless, remember to shred important
documents before putting them in the trash.
• Stay well-trimmed. Over grown shubbery
provides cover for thieves, so make sure that your house is clearly
visible from the street. Keep the front of your house well-lit. Guard
access to your backyard.
• Get a virtual pet. Burglars think twice
when they hear a barking dog. If you don't have a pet. get a CD of
a growling hound. Or put a dog bowl by your door.
• Call the police. Some departments have
crime-prevention officers who will survey homes and offer security
• Know your neighbors. It's the oldest
safety system around, but still works like a charm. Ask your neighbors
to keep an eye on your home, and do the same for them.
Kollias Property Inspections, Inc
2212 Cedar Ridge Dr. Plainfield, Il 60586