Safety tips for household danger zones

Safety tips for household danger zonesFire and water are two elements that are essential to human survival. Fire, in a controlled setting, keeps our homes heated and comfortable, while water keeps us hydrated and clean. It is therefore rather ironic that these two elements are also the cause of numerous household dangers.

Walk around your home and try to pinpoint every source of heat or water. Each area you target is a candidate for malfunction that could put the health and safety of you and your family at risk. That said, there is good news: most of the issues that arise from these household danger zones can be easily addressed without breaking your budget.

At Towne & Country Building Inspectors, we love helping local homeowners, buyers, and sellers ensure their properties are safe and secure. Here are some key safety tips for household danger zones.

Oven Range and Cooking Elements

Many household fires originate in the kitchen. Whether your oven is gas or electric, your cooking surfaces should never be left unattended while in use. Ensure that combustible materials such as paper towels and fabric pot holders are kept a safe distance away from cooking surfaces.

In addition, it is essential that your oven range is properly ventilated. Exercise common sense when engaging in high-risk cooking methods. For example, if you are cooking in a compact studio apartment kitchen, it is probably not a good idea to practice your flambe!

Smoke Detectors

Smoke detectors are an essential home safety component required by local building codes in many municipalities. When your smoke detector is running low on batteries, it should beep once every minute or so, indicating it is time to change the batteries. However, if this happens to occur during a time when your family is on vacation, you may miss the warning signs before the batteries completely die. Use the “Test” function monthly to ensure proper operation.

Ice Dams on the Roof

During cold Wisconsin winters, snow can accumulate on a home’s roof. Warm air inside the home can melt this snow, causing it to drip water towards your gutters, where it freezes into ice.  This results in what is called an ice dam, with long thick icicles hanging over your home’s eaves and fascia.

The size of these icicles can be quite large and heavy, creating a safety hazard for anyone who happens to stand underneath. To prevent ice dams, ensure your attic spaces are properly insulated to help regulate internal temperatures during winter. Additionally, be sure to clean your gutters well before the winter season begins so dripping water is effectively directed away from the home.

Clogged Gutters

Clogged gutters can cause water to overflow down the side of your home, through your foundation, and into your basement. Unaddressed basement moisture can be a source of hazardous mold growth. Perform annual gutter cleanings each fall, after leaves have fallen from the trees.

Malfunctioning Wiring

Flickering lights, fuses that blow frequently, and static tingling when you touch an appliance or light switch are all signs of faulty wiring. Consult a licenced electrician about installing arc-fault interrupters, which help by cutting electricity in a circuit at the first sign of danger.

Cracked Plumbing

Even a tiny crack in a home water pipe can cause significant damage and flooding. Insulate your pipes with foam insulation and install frost-free exterior hose bibs to help prevent ice from forming in your pipes. Perform routine inspections of your plumbing for signs of “sweating”  and leaks and call in a pro if you notice any of these symptoms of a plumbing issue.

Improper Dryer Venting

A flexible plastic dryer vent duct is prone to catching on fire. If your dryer has this type of flexible plastic vent, replace it with a semi-rigid metal duct  Position your clothes dryer as close to the exterior vent as possible, with minimal turns or elbows in the vent duct. This will help prevent lint buildup within the vent system, a common cause of dryer fires.

At Towne & Country Building Inspectors, we are committed to helping home and building owners develop the knowledge they need to take care of their property. We have seen it all when it comes to safety hazards in homes, and the list above are the issues we see most often. If you’re thinking about buying or selling a home or commercial property, you can trust Towne & Country with your pre-listing inspection, residential inspection, commercial inspection, and radon testing needs. Give us a call to get started today.