It’s Home Safety Month

According to the Center for Disease Control. unintentional injuries are the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S., overtaking  strokes on the list. Most accidental injuries are completely preventable, so paying attention to home safety can save pain, time money or even a life.

Entryways can be made safer with the addition of more lighting and railings. Steps and sidewalks, whether they are made of wood or cement, should not be left to crumble, warp, pull away from the main structure or sag unevenly. Where possible, a no-step entrance is even better.

Adequate lighting can make all the difference when walking from room to room. All areas of a home should have adequate lighting. Lights can be places on timers to illuminate rooms on a specific schedule. Motion-activated or on-all-night-lights can help when walking in a house at night. In particular , hallways and stairs should be properly lit.

Keeping the interior of  home clean, organized and in good repaid can help prevent accidents. Clutter can be not only unsightly, but dangerous. Messy conditions and broken items are trips and falls waiting to happen. Area rugs that slip out of place, stacks of newspapers and magazines and piles of belongings or other possessions can serve as barriers and obstacles, as well as tripping hazards.

Most homes have a mandated smoke alarm, but in safety survey, less than 20 percent of all homeowners reported they ever tested their alarm. The majority of deaths from home fires are from smoke inhalation, so early warning an evacuation are critical. A working smoke detector should be in every bedroom or sleeping area, another in the hallway outside sleeping areas, as well as a smoke detector for every level of the home.

If there are children in a home, accidental ingestion of pills or household chemicals is always a concern. All medications should be out of reach or in a locked cabinet, and all household chemicals and cleaners should be made inaccessible to children. Some cleaners today in the form of brightly-colored and vacuum-sealed powders that are appealing  to children. These and all cleaners should be out of reach and the Poison Control hotline number posted near the phone or in the cabinet.

Even prescribed medicines can be hazardous. The CDC estimates about 128,000 people die each year from drugs prescribed to them. This makes prescription drugs a major health risk. Medicines should always used only by the person whose name is on the bottle and any adverse reactions to a medication should be reported immediately.

As the prevalence of guns continues to rise, so do gun accidents and fatalities. Sadly, American children younger that 15 are nine times more likely to be involved in a gun accident than those is the rest of the developed world. IF there are guns in the home, they must be placed in a locked cabinet with the key hidden. Ammunition should be locked separately.

fire can be a household hazard, but one that in the main can be prevented by having chimneys cleaned and inspected and making sure dryer lint is regularly removed from filters, vent and piping. If a fireplace is sued frequently, screens and other barriers should cover the area of open flame.

In case of fire emergency, fire extinguishers should be installed on every floor of the home;keep on in the garage, and one in the kitchen.

No Time To Give Gutters A Pass

Avid gardeners know all about fall clean-up. When a perennial fails to bloom anymore, they cut it back. They clean up plant debris from beds and borders. Homeowners need to follow a similar fall checklist, to prepare for cool weather ahead.

For some homeowners, one of the best parts about fall is saying goodbye to the lawn mower for the season. A fuel stabilizer can be added to gasoline to keep it from deteriorating over the winter months. If not, a mower should be run dry before storing it.

No wonder everybody wants to steer clear of the gutter. It’s gross in there. And the leaves, twigs, and dirt that invariably clog gutters can cause problems with proper rain runoff. Once of twice a year, gutters need to be cleaned free of debris. If necessary, worn or damaged gutters and downspouts should be replaced. (Gutters should extend at least five feet from the house to help keep water away from the structure. Downspouts can be added for under $20 per spout.)

Trim trees and bushes to keep foliage about twelve inches away from the siding. If you do not have a regular pest control service plan for your home, you may need to have you home inspected for wood pests.

And who doesn’t love spending quality time with a caulk gun? Before cooler weather hits, sealing up cracks between trim and siding, around windows and doors, and at any pipe and wire openings help create a tighter building envelope. This will keep water out and warm air in. Caulk works best when temperatures are about 50 degrees. It is easy to find color-matched,exterior caulk at hardware stores for under $10.

To avoid problems with the venting for clothes dryer, make sure you disconnect, clean ,and inspect the dryer duct and venting every couple of years, or hire a professional company to clean the dryer components.

To make sure the indoor temperature remains balmy throughout winter, a checkup for the heating system is a good idea too. Such checkups are relatively inexpensive- usually under $200- and can provide reassurance or catch any problems early. It’s a good time to change furnace filters as well.

Smoke and CO detectors are key to indoor safety during months when homes are closed up tight. The batteries in each battery-operated smoke and carbon monoxide(CO) detector should be replaced at least yearly.  Detectors can be checked by pressing the test button or holding a smoke source( like a blown-out candle) near the unit. Smoke detectors should be placed on every floor of the home, and in every sleeping area. Older units should be replaced.

Homes should also be equipped with at least one fire extinguisher rated for all fire types (look for an A-B-C rating on the label). Since most home fires start in the kitchen, keeping one in or near the kitchen makes the most sense.

Finally, if the home has a fireplace, check on that unit as well. Just like gutters, a flue can become clogged by debris or even a birds’ nest or two. Opening the damper and taking a look can reveal any obstructions. When the damper is open, daylight should be visible at the top of the chimney . If any damage is visible, or if it has been a long time between inspections, ordering a professional fireplace and chimney inspection will run between $200 and $500.

Pre-Cast Fireplace Warning

Pre-cast fireplaces were installed on many homes throughout California during the mid 70’s to the mid 80’s.  We come across them frequently while inspecting homes here in San Diego County.  Many of these fireplaces were cracked or damaged before they were even installed.  Most of the cracks discovered are typically at the “insulation plate” which starts at the fireplace opening and extended to the smoke chamber .  A damaged fireplace can allow smoke, fire and carbon monoxide to enter the home which is a serious safety concern and fire hazard.  During a recent home inspection, I came across this pre-cast fireplace that was severely cracked (one of the worst I’ve ever seen) and not safe for use. The only fix for this fireplace would be to tear it down and build a new one.  If you are concerned about the fireplace in the home that  you currently own or one installed at a home you are considering purchasing, be sure you have it thoroughly inspected by a qualified expert before attempting to use it.

severely cracked pre-cast chimney

A severely cracked pre-cast chimney was discovered at a recent home inspection here in San Diego

Cracks inside the liner of this pre-cast chimney

Cracks were noted inside the liner of this pre-cast chimney

cracked pre-cast chimney

A severely cracked pre-cast chimney was discovered at a recent home inspection here in San Diego

A severely cracked pre-cast chimney was discovered at a recent home inspection here in San Diego

A severely cracked pre-cast chimney was discovered at a recent home inspection here in San Diego

A severely cracked pre-cast chimney was discovered at a recent home inspection here in San Diego

A severely cracked pre-cast chimney was discovered at a recent home inspection here in San Diego

A severely cracked pre-cast chimney was discovered at a recent home inspection here in San Diego

A severely cracked pre-cast chimney was discovered at a recent home inspection here in San Diego

A severely cracked pre-cast chimney was discovered at a recent home inspection here in San Diego

A severely cracked pre-cast chimney was discovered at a recent home inspection here in San Diego

Cracks were noted inside the liner of this pre-cast chimney

Cracks were noted inside the liner of this pre-cast chimney

Fire Protection

When inspecting a home, the inspectors of John Robinson’s Inspection Group are always thinking about the health and safety of the current and future occupants of that property.  When it comes to health and safety, Fire Protection is always at the top of our list.

Did you know that materials like gypsum board provide passive protection against the rapid spread of a fire?

In single family homes, townhouses and condos with attached garages, a minimum of 1/2 in thick gypsum board or equivalent must be installed on the garage side of the walls and ceilings common to the house or shared attic space to maintain proper fire separation.  Also, 5/8 in thick Type X gypsum board must be attached to the ceiling of the garage under habitable rooms.

There should be no direct openings between the garage and sleeping rooms.   The door to the house from the garage is required to be 20 minute rated, 1 and 3/8 inches thick, solid wood or steel.  There should be no duct openings in the garage (i.g. no central air or heat vent openings that terminate in the garage common to the house).   Ducts that penetrate the common/firewall must be 26-gauge steel.

The most common issue we see are voids, holes or separations in the firewall to allow the passing of water lines, gap piping, and electrical wires from the garage to the home.   All voids in the fire separation between the garage and the home should be sealed with approved materials.

Home Inspector San Diego Fire Wall Separation or Void www.home-inspector-San-Diego.com John Robinson's Inspection Group

www.home-inspector-san-diego.com 619-684-1444 Home Inspector San Diego reveals a void or separation in the fire separation between the garage and livable space of this San Diego Home

If you have any questions regarding fire-separations and/or possible voids in the firewall of a home you currently live in or thinking of buying, please do not hesitate to give us a call at 619-684-1444.