CO is an odorless, colorless gas produced by the combustion of fuels such as natural gas, oil and propane in devices including furnaces, water heaters and stoves. These appliances are designed to vent the CO to the outside, but incomplete combustion of fuel, improper installation, or blockages, leaks or cracks in the venting systems can cause CO to reach harmful levels inside the home. Dangerously high levels of CO can lead to incapacitation or death, with victims sometimes never having been aware they were being poisoned.
Homeowners can take action against carbon monoxide poisoning by taking the following steps:
- Never use a gas stove or oven to heat the home, even temporarily.
- Have all fuel-burning appliances professionally inspected annually, preferably before the start of the cold weather season when heaters and furnaces are first used.
- These appliances include gas stoves and ovens, furnaces and heaters, water heaters and gas clothes dryers.
- All such devices should be properly installed and vented to the outside.
- Have flues and chimneys for gas fireplaces inspected regularly for cracks, leaks, and blockages that may allow a buildup of CO to occur.
- Don’t start a vehicle in a closed garage or idle the engine in the garage even if the overhead door is open.
- Gasoline-powered generators and charcoal grills must never be used indoors.
- Install a CO detector (either battery operated, hard-wired or plug-in) and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the proper location. Working CO detectors in residences are now required by law in most states.
- Learn what to do if the CO alarm activates. If anyone in the home experiences symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness, blurred vision, nausea, or confusion, everyone should leave immediately and seek medical attention. If no symptoms are felt, open doors and windows immediately and shut off all fuel-burning devices that may be potential sources of CO.
Enjoy the comfort and safety of home this winter and all year long.
Given that as much as 25% of household energy costs go to heating water, it makes sense to evaluate various systems with an eye toward saving both energy and money. Here we take a look at some of the water heater options for homeowners to consider.
Storage (Tank) Water Heaters – These are by far the most common type of residential water heater. Once the water in the tank reaches the desired temperature, the heater cycles on and off to maintain the temperature of the water. Most of us know the phenomenon of running out of hot water after family members take one shower after another; this will happen if the tank’s storage capacity is insufficient to meet demand. Whether water is being used or not, the heater must still fire on and off to keep the contents of the tank hot. While tank heaters are an affordable option, it is quite inefficient to keep a tank of water hot all day.
Tankless (Demand) Water Heaters – Rather than being stored in a tank, water is rapidly heated by gas or electricity when the faucet is turned on. Because it reaches the desired temperature so quickly, much less water is wasted while waiting for hot water to flow through the faucet; however, the results are not truly instantaneous. Tankless systems normally cost more up front than a conventional storage water heater, so homeowners should take that into account along with what type, size, and location makes the most sense for them.
Solar Water Heating – This uses the sun’s energy to pre-heat water for the home. The pre-heated water then flows into a solar tank that monitors temperature. Then it’s piped into the regular hot water system, usually a storage water heater. If no water is turned on within a brief period of time, the water circulates through the system again, making it unnecessary to keep a large tank of water constantly hot. The pre-heating is done by one or two solar panels, usually installed on the roof.
With efficiency and decreased energy use as a goal, the best choice of water heater depends on what pencils out in any given home.
With these easy steps, your clients will enjoy the comforts of home all season long and know that they’re protecting their investment, too.
- Caulk around exterior door and window frames for a tight seal. Look for gaps where pipes or wiring enter the home and caulk those as well to protect from water, insects and mice.
- Check the roof for missing or damaged shingles. Water, wind, ice and snow can cause serious damage to a vulnerable roof, leading to a greater chance of further damage inside the home. Always have a qualified professional inspect and repair the roof, but binoculars can be used to do a preliminary survey from the ground.
- Clear gutters of leaves, sticks, and other debris. If the home gets heavy leaf fall, this may need to be done more than once during the season. If the gutters can accommodate them, leaf guards can be real time-savers and prevent clogging. Make sure downspouts direct water away from the house.
- In cold-weather climates, drain garden hoses and store indoors to protect them from the harsh winter elements. Shut off outdoor faucets and make sure exterior pipes are drained of water.
- Have the furnace inspected to ensure that it’s safe and in good working order. Most utility companies will provide basic, no-cost furnace inspections to their customers. Replace disposable furnace air filters or clean the permanent type according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- A wood-burning fireplace can be a real pleasure on a chilly fall evening. For safety, have the firebox and chimney professionally cleaned before use this season.
Pillar To Post is always committed to the health and well-being of our clients. This is especially true during this time of Covid-19 and Realtor Safety Month. We remain committed to providing the highest quality home inspection while adhering to the strict safety and cleanliness guidelines provided by the CDC and local governments. We also encourage you to learn about precautions you can take to keep yourself and your team safe while showing homes and in the office. Realtor Safety resources are available at:
Any home can have a radon problem – old or new homes, well-sealed or drafty homes, homes with or without basements. Health Canada estimates that 1 in 14 homes in Canada has an elevated level of radon. Prolonged exposure to unsafe levels of radon can increase the risk of lung cancer; in fact, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. There is real risk in not knowing if a home has a high level of radon.
WHAT IS RADON?
Radon is a naturally occurring odourless, colourless, radioactive gas formed by the ongoing decay of uranium in soil, rocks, sediments, and even well or ground water. While radon that escapes into the atmosphere is not harmful, dangerously high concentrations can build up indoors, exposing occupants to possible health risks.
HOW DOES RADON GET INTO A HOME?
Radon can migrate into the home in several ways. Openings or cracks in basement walls, foundations or floors are common avenues. Sumps, basement drains, and spaces between gas or water fittings can also allow radon into the structure. Other entry points can include gaps in suspended floors and cavities within walls.
HOW CAN I MAKE SURE MY CLIENTS AND THEIR FAMILIES AREN’T AT RISK?
Testing is the only way to measure radon levels. Your Pillar To Post Home Inspector will set up monitoring equipment and report on the results. If an elevated level of radon is detected, steps can be taken to reduce the concentration to or below acceptable levels inside virtually any home. Professional mitigation services can provide solutions for a home’s specific conditions.
Request radon testing when you book your next home inspection with Pillar To Post Home Inspectors.