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Displaying blog entries 11-20 of 21

Radon

by The Jana Caudill Team

In the United States, radon causes 20,000 lung cancer deaths annually.  By comparison, this is more than deaths resulting from drunk driving.  Radon is colorless, tasteless, and odorless, and occurs in the soils of every state in the nation.  It can get into your house through cracks in the foundation, through your water supply, gaps around service pipes, and gaps in service floors, etc. As radon is heavier than air it becomes trapped inside the home, and if improperly vented can reach toxic levels.

And now the good news.  Radon testing and mitigation are both easy and inexpensive.  There are several do-it-yourself testing kits available or you can hire a radon testing professional to do the job for you.  For self-testers, the EPA recommends starting with a short-term testing kit that takes only a few minutes to set up.  You will have results within 2 - 90 days depending on the kit.  If your results are 4 pCi/L or higher you should complete a second short-term test, OR a long-term test which is more likely to give you a more accurate year-round radon level reading.  At this point, if the second short-term or the long-term test are still at or above 4pCi/L than you need to proceed with mitigating your home of radon.  Here is a great resource page from the EPA on radon reduction in your home.

If you think you may have a radon issue get your Northwest Indiana home tested and protect your family.  It’s easy, and it’s inexpensive.

Toddlers on the Run

by The Jana Caudill Team

Ok.  You’ve baby proofed Cedar Lake, Crown Point, or Chesterton home. You’ve addressed sharp cornered furniture, choking hazards, exposed electric outlets, and more in every room.  You’ve installed baby gates to restrict movement to off-limit areas of your home.  You’ve secured top heavy furniture like bookcases and TV strands to walls.  You’ve put safety latches on cabinets and drawers, and even on the stove door.

Now it’s time to look ahead to when your infant becomes a toddler. The first step a baby takes as it works toward walking is to stand, which means using furniture to help pull himself up.  This is where I remind you, if you haven’t already done so, to please, please, please secure all top-heavy furniture like bookcases, wide-screen televisions, TV stands, plant stands and the like to a nearby wall.

Soon to be toddlers can use the wall as well to help them stand.  Accordingly, secure curtain and blind cords that are strangle hazards up and out of reach of your little one.  If you’re remodeling a room and window coverings are in the budget, consider purchasing cordless products.

Window latches, especially 2nd story and higher need to be safety locked.  Children are inquisitive by nature.  Once they learn to walk and can better maneuver about their environment it’s only a matter of time before they start testing doors and windows.  Avoid accidental falls by securing all home egresses.

Babies on the Move

by The Jana Caudill Team

Sharp.  Small.  Secure.  Start.  Think of these four S’s when baby-proofing your home for your soon to be crawling bundle of joy.

The best single piece of advice for our Crown Point, St. John, and Valparaiso parents baby-proofing their home in anticipation of their child starting to crawl is to approach the project from the baby’s perspective.  That is to say, get down on all fours and crawl around on the floor yourself looking for possible safety hazards.  Be sure to look for anything sharp.  Put smaller sharp items up high, and well out of baby reaching distance, or lock them up in a drawer or cabinet.  Add padding to sharp furniture corners, or consider moving that particular piece into another room restricted from access by the baby.  Complete your baby bird’s eye view in every room of the house.  You don’t know what you’ll find until you take a look.

Choking hazards are particularly worrisome especially if there are older children in the home who enjoy playing with smaller toys.  Restrict baby’s access to older brother’s and sister’s rooms that are already themselves a challenge keeping picked up and put away.  An old rule of thumb is “If it fits through a toilet paper cardboard tube it is a choking hazard.”

Electric outlet covers.  Tiny fingers can find small holes just as easily as tiny toys.  Cover up electric outlets.

Secure.  Use safety latches on all cabinets and drawers, keeping household chemicals, knives, and all other safety threats securely out of little hands.  Use baby gates to restrict baby’s access to not only older siblings’ rooms, but stairways, laundry rooms, etc.  Keep furniture like TV stands, dressers, and bookcases from toppling by securing to walls.

Start before the baby is born.  Your hands will be plenty full when you come home with your newborn.  Implement your safety plan well before that glorious day.  Here’s another great video on the basics.

Combating Lead-Based Paint

by The Jana Caudill Team

Most homes built before 1960 contain paint with dangerously high levels of lead.  Many homes built as late as 1978 contain some level of lead in their painted surfaces.  This doesn’t mean only interior and exterior painted walls though.  Other common areas for lead-based paint in older homes are window frames.

There is a significant health threat by ingesting particles of lead-based paint, most often by inhaling dust from dry-scraped lead-based painted surfaces.  The danger is compounded for infants, children, and even unborn fetuses as the growing body more readily absorbs and is damaged by the lead.

If you are undergoing a remodeling or refurbishing job and have old lead-based paint to deal with, here are a few safeguarding tips and links going into greater detail to help you mitigate the potential negative impact on your family’s health.

  1. Seal off and ventilate remodeling areas separately from the rest of the living areas in your home.
  2. If it is in good condition, leave lead-based paint alone!  Lead paint in good condition poses little threat.  It is a surface that is worn, potentially from rubbing against itself like in a window frame that creates the harmful dust.
  3. Keep work areas clean, and avoid tracking paint dust through the house on your clothing or work boots.
  4. Read the EPA’s pamphlet titled “The Lead-Safe Certified Guide to Renovate Right” here.

If your home was built in 1978 or earlier (really, if your builder’s permit was issued in 1978 or earlier) you owe it to your family to observe these safety tips before beginning any project that could expose them to potentially lethal levels of airborne lead through lead-based paint.

Check out our blog for more how to tips for Do-It-Yourselfers.

Implementing an Emergency Escape Plan for Your Family

by The Jana Caudill Team

Create the plan – Practice it with your family – Minimize risks

It’s crazy to think that most families do not practice their emergency escape plan, let alone have a plan in place.  Statistically speaking, the most common home emergency requiring a family to evacuate is the house fire, so any emergency plan should take into consideration fire contingencies.  Here are a couple key pointers for your family’s emergency escape plan:

  1. Plan your escapeCreate a plan that quickly and efficiently gets your family out of the house.  Designate primary and secondary exits, as well as a neighbor’s house as the destination everyone should head to for safety and for placing the call to 911.
  2. Practice your escape.  This is as crucial a step for adults as it is for children.  Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.  Children can be easily confused in an emergency.  Add the emotional trauma of an unexpected fire in the house and even mature adults can panic.  Practice the escape plan from the fire alarm all the way to your neighbor’s doorstep.
  3. Minimize risks in the home.  Test fire alarms and CO detectors, and change out backup batteries.  Clean build up out of the bottom of your stove and grill, and never leave pots and pans unattended on range burners.  Get a fire extinguisher, make sure everyone knows where it is in the house (in or close to the kitchen), and have it inspected regularly.

From our team to your family, Happy Holidays!

Relighting the Pilot Light

by The Jana Caudill Team

Here’s one: relighting the pilot light on your furnace.

First you’ll have to remove the access panel on your furnace.  Once you have the panel removed and set aside, locate the gas control knob.  Have your long fireplace matches ready.  Turn the knob to “pilot.”  Press and hold the “pilot” knob down while you use one of the matches to light the pilot.  Keep the knob depressed for thirty seconds before releasing.  If the pilot stays lit, turn the knob to the “on” position, replace the access panel, and you’re done!  Here’s a helpful video going into much greater depth covering all the furnace components involved, as well as a bonus video on lighting a pilot on a water heater.

Troubleshooting:

  1. If the pilot won’t light or stay lit the pilot nozzle (where the gas comes out and the flame lights) is more than likely obstructed and will need to be cleaned.  Be sure the gas is turned off and use a wire brush to clean away accumulated dirt and residue.
  2. If the flame is yellow or blue, not enough or too much oxygen, respectively, is reaching the burner.  You will have to adjust the burner control to obtain a flame that is light bluish on the outside and green on the inside.

Here’s to a safe and happy New Year!  Happy Holidays to our Northwest Indiana family, friends, and neighbors.

Garage Door Torsion Spring Replacement

by The Jana Caudill Team

This is NOT a do-it-yourself project to take on ill-advised.  Garage door torsion springs are under a tremendous amount of torque, and their replacement poses a serious safety hazard.  I’m certain there are a number of you out there who will choose to do this home repair yourself.  My hope with this article is that by helping you understand how the garage door and springs work together you will eventually decide to just go ahead and call in a professional should your garage door springs ever break and need replacing.

Standard 16 X 7 garage doors can weigh 150-200 pounds or more, so don’t think for a minute that little garage door opener from Sears is doing the heavy lifting on its own.  In fact, the counterweight created by the torsion springs balance against the weight of the door so all the opener has to do is give that little extra umph to raise and lower the door on its guide tracks.  Take away the springs and you have a giant guillotine on your hands.

Most two bay garage doors use two torsion springs to get the job done.  Even so, after thousands of ups and downs they still can break.  When they do, one or the other spring can snap, usually not both at the same time.  If the break happens while the door is part way up gravity will take over and the door will come crashing down.  That is why it is always important to stand clear of a garage door whenever it is in operation.  That goes double for children and pets!

Still not convinced?  Watch this video starting at about the 45 second mark.  It shows a torsion spring wound to the point of snapping.  Imagine that force behind one of the winding bars in these videos.  At a minimum that’s a trip to the emergency room for a broken hand.

Here’s your garage door safety checklist.

Stocking Your Home's First Aid Kit

by The Jana Caudill Team

You can always purchase a pre-assembled first aid kit that will contain most of what you’ll need for first response situations at home.  The downside is these kits can be more costly than assembling one yourself, and you’re subject to whatever the manufacturer decided to include with their product.

Here’s a great video on putting together your own first aid kit.  You’ll want to start with a container that’s large enough to keep all the supplies together in one place, yet highly portable so the kit can be moved easily from room to room and even outside for outdoor accidents.  Tackle boxes are always a great choice.  Here’s a list of the standard items to include in your first aid kit compliments of Kids Health.  For home kits, one item worth including that is often overlooked is a flashlight.  When assembling your kit keep in mind the types of activities you and your family often participate in.  For example, if your family hikes and camps frequently be sure to stock supplies in your kit to address campfire burns, poison ivy, and insect bites.

If you’re assembling a travel kit think about including an old cell phone and charger.  Most adults have cell phones nowadays, but this will insure you always a phone handy in an emergency.  I found this great webpage worth sharing with your family on tips for calling 911 from a cell phone.  It’s completely different from calling from home, and knowing the difference in an emergency, as they say, is priceless.

Have a healthy and safe new year!

Cleaning Out Your Dryer Vent

by The Jana Caudill Team

For most of us the laundry room is “Out of sight, out of mind.”  When we clean the house the rooms generally tackled first are those we frequent most (like the kitchen and bedrooms) or areas in the home that we might expect visitors to see (like the family room and bathrooms).  If the laundry room is an afterthought, what does that make the unseen accumulation of dust and lint in your dryer vent?  One word: dangerous.  Periodic cleaning of your dryer vent is a great habit to get into.  The problem is you just have to remember to do it – every year.  That or someone has to remind you.

Consider this your reminder.
 

Over 15,000 fires happen in clothes dryers annually, and the vast majority of them are attributed to poor cleaning and upkeep.  Daily, newspapers around the country run articles about dryer vent fires and their devastating effect on local families.  15 deaths and over 300 injuries happen every year in clogged dryer vent fires in residential buildings.
Experts recommend having your dryer duct and vent cleaned out at least annually.  It’s all too easy to overlook some of these infrequent yet necessary home safety maintenance chores.  Again, the reason for this reminder.  I recommend grouping this task with other annual or semi-annual home maintenance jobs like changing the backup batteries in smoke alarms and emergency flashlights, or inspecting your fire extinguisher.  Schedule this group of tasks into your computer or cell phone calendar, or pencil it in on the tried and true printed calendar on the front of your refrigerator. 

From all of us at the Jana Caudill Team, have a happy (and safe) new year!

Holiday Traveling

by The Jana Caudill Team

Everyone deserves a nice long vacation, and if you’re fortunate enough to be able to take the time off during the holidays then by all means pack up and go!  Yes, sometimes it’s nice just to stay home, watch a movie, complete the little renovation project on the powder room you started last spring, or maybe just catch up on some sleep.  Whatever suits you.  That’s not what I’m talking about here.  I’m talking about hitting the road, getting away, and in particular traveling during the holidays.

 Whether you’re venturing cross-country or just across the state, one thing to keep in mind when traveling during the holidays is the safety and security of your unoccupied home while you’re gone.  That brings up two main concerns, accidents and burglary. 

Accidents are the easiest to mitigate.  Start with turning off the main water supply valve in your home.  One of the top insurance claims throughout the year is water damage, and a burst pipe while no one is home to take care of it right away is no way to start the new year.  Also, turn off your water heater and its gas supply.  Not only does this prevent potential gas leaks, you’ll save money on your energy bill.  Everyone’s equipment is different, so refer to manufacturer’s directions first when considering any of these practices.  Here’s a complete checklist of things you can do to minimize the chances of an accident occurring while you’re away. 

The best way to deter burglary is to minimize opportunity while making it appear the house is operating just as it would any other day.  Stop newspaper delivery for the time you’re away so papers don’t start to pile up on the front porch.  Put house lights on timers.  Park a car in the driveway.  Remember, Business as usual.  That’s the message you want to broadcast to the outside world.  Even then, burglars are always out during the holidays looking for opportunities.  Don’t make it easy on them.  Hide spare car keys, jewelry, and other valuables in shoeboxes or behind the canned vegetables in the pantry.  Have a trusted neighbor stop by periodically to monitor the house, or consider hiring a house sitter for the week!

Take a few extra steps for your peace of mind before your vacation and whether you’re leaving Northwest Indiana for some time off or staying home enjoy the holidays!

Displaying blog entries 11-20 of 21

Contact Information

Photo of The Jana Caudill Team Real Estate
The Jana Caudill Team
Redkey Realty Leaders
503 East Summit St., Suite 2
Crown Point IN 46307
219-661-1256
Fax: 219-663-5949