Disaster Proofing Your House

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Your home is your sanctuary. It is the place that you’ve put a lot of time and attention into making a safe, comfortable environment for you and your family. This is why the prospect of a natural disaster causing damage or disruption to your house can be so upsetting. 

No-one likes to dwell on this possibility, of course. However, even if you aren’t living in an area that has frequent earthquakes or storms, that doesn’t mean to say that your home is immune to emergencies. The World Economic Forum recently reported that extreme weather events are occurring more frequently, and they are likely to continue causing severe damage and destruction in the future. This rise has also been linked to the growing effects of climate change. As such, it is imperative for the continued safety of yourself and your family that you take steps to ensure that your home is protected from disasters.  

This is all very well to say, but it’s not always easy to know how to go about doing this practically. It’s certainly a wide-ranging area, but we’re going to take a moment to guide you through a few main points for your attention. How can you best act to protect your home, and sleep soundly at night, safe in the knowledge that you’ve done all you can to keep your family safe? 

Audit Current Issues

Whether you’ve purchased a home with the specific intention to renovate, or you bought a new build, an audit is essential. Why? Well, in most cases, the pre-purchasing property survey that was undertaken at the time would have been geared toward determining the general safety of the home. Indeed, when buying a home, people are usually on the lookout for common trouble areas — existing water damage, pest issues, or health hazards. As such, you are unlikely to have the data you need to understand how well-prepped your home is to withstand an unexpected natural disaster.  

It can be a good first step to review the types of natural disasters that may be most likely to occur in your area. After all, it’s not wise to disaster-proof your home for earthquakes if you are not in a risk location. Review recent years’ weather and emergency events — has there been an uptick in any activity? The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) keeps statistics for all reported disasters, which can help guide you. However, it can be just as useful to talk to neighbors and local emergency services personnel about what you should be aware of.

Using this knowledge, undertake a review of your home. You can do this personally if you feel confident doing so — identifying all the areas that may leave your home vulnerable or dangerous. Use ready-made checklists to review systems like electrical and plumbing. It can also be helpful to engage a contractor here. That way you not only benefit from their assessment expertise, but can also arrange for any repairs to be made, or at least make a plan for the future that fits your budget. 

Alternative Utilities

Disasters don’t just affect the integrity of your home. In a lot of cases, they may impact the infrastructure that allows you to maintain a safe and operational house. There may be direct contact with your property that causes utility outages, or there may be a problem further down the line that affects you. If you live in a remote area, it may take a long time for your services to be restored. It can therefore be appropriate to look into alternative solutions.

A generator on your property can provide backup power when there is an outage. However, this tends to be terribly cost-ineffective, and it’s not particularly environmentally friendly. On the other hand, solar power is an increasingly popular and accessible choice for homeowners. In essence, you’ll need a solar panel array — either on your roof or somewhere near your property — which is attached to an inverter that turns the energy into usable electricity, which is then distributed through your home using a computerized controller. You can also get a battery backup system to assist in emergencies. While you can install it personally, it can be wise to engage a skilled contractor if you’re not familiar with your house’s electrics.  

While most internet and communications lines are underground, that doesn’t make them impervious to disasters. Your ability to stay in contact with friends, relatives, and emergency services can be vital when a disaster strikes. Therefore it can be sensible to set up alternatives in your home. A spare 5G router can keep you connected to the internet to check for updates and advice. 

Structural Upgrades

If you have the budget for it, it is definitely worth considering which structural upgrades you can make to your home. Over the last few decades, there have been technological advances that can put your home in a better position to withstand a disaster. Some of these are simple and others make for more involved projects.

If you live in an area that is particularly prone to heavy storms, earthquakes, or even wildfires a good example of advanced structural technology is interlocking 3D panels. These are constructed from a combination of materials — concrete, steel, polystyrene — and reinforced by welded wire trusses. As such, this means that the building can withstand high winds and effectively fireproof the home for at least two hours.

However, this requires substantial capital to undertake, and if you are unable to access these funds immediately it can be worth considering refinancing your home to some extent. This is possible even with bad credit, although it can be sensible to repair your credit score first to get a better financing rate. It can seem like a big step, but this could be an important safety feature in your home and even raise its value.

Conclusion

Your home is an important asset to you and your family, and as such you want to protect it and everyone within it from natural disasters. Not all the alterations you make need to be structural overhauls. However, you should guide your actions with a thorough understanding of the risks.

How Much Is That Water Leak Costing You?

For many Americans, a constantly leaking tap is not much of a deal. A source of little annoyance maybe, but that’s all. Or is it? What if you come to know that this constant dribbling of tiny water droplets is also draining your wallet? And that it’s also one of the major reasons for the ongoing water shortage in many big cities. 

Yes, you read that right!

To take an example, the drought-hit state of California has been dealing with a similar sort of water dilemma for decades now. On top of it, its complex infrastructure is old, and mostly damaged by frequent earthquakes, making it extremely challenging for authorities to figure out the faults, let alone fixing them. 

But that’s not what we’re here for. We’re here to understand its impact on you. To know how much is that water leak costing you? And also, to help you save it. 

Well, let’s get started, shall we?

How much water does a tap leak?

Although there is no specific device to measure it, there’s certainly a way to come to an estimate. For instance, the United States Geological Survey suggests that,

15140 drips = 1 Gallon

4000 drips = 1 Liter

There’s also a drip calculator by USGS that you can use to calculate nearly how much water does a leaking tap waste. Just count the drips of a leaking faucet and you can calculate approximately how much water gets wasted from it every day and every year. Rest assured, the results will surprise you. 

To give you an idea, here are a few water stats and facts from the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Stats and Facts on Water Leak

An average American family wastes about 1800 gallons per week or 9400 gallons of water annually.  

It spends more than $1000 per year as water costs but can save around $380 by using WaterSense labeled fixtures and ENERGY STAR certified appliances.

The total volume of household leaks can reach and cross a staggering 900 billion gallons of water annually, which can be used otherwise for nearly 11 million homes. 

But a water leak can cause more damage than you can imagine. Apart from water wastage and extra charges, it can also harm your property and result in unnecessary repair costs. We’ll do the math in a while, but first, let’s take a closer look at all the possible sources of a water leak.

Sources of a Water Leak

The sources of water leakage are not just limited to leaking taps, showers, bathtubs, sinks, toilets, pipes, hoses, or fittings. Instead, there are other places as well that you might want to watch out for, such as:Electrical appliances like washing machines, refrigerators, dishwashers, and water heaters/geysers.

Lawn sprinklers.

Plumbing that’s not visible, for instance, under the kitchen, sink, or wall, etc.

Roof, ceiling, walls, windows, doors, and floor, etc.

The point is that if you’re considering conserving water plus save money, you must take all these factors into account. An undetected leak can turn into a major problem in no time and can cost you fortunes. So, make sure that no leaks are left undetected or ignored for too long. 

Moreover, water prices are already on a rise in the state of California.  Therefore, it’s important to detect and fix any leaks and use water carefully to avoid paying extra. Let’s know more about it. 

Drip by drip, the water decreases, and the bills increase! 

A normal tap leak can increase our utility bills by more than $30 annually.

A small hole or crack in a pipe can cost you about $70 every month.

Leaking/running a toilet can cause you anywhere between a $80-600 rise in your monthly water charges. 

A leaking garden hose can cost you more than $300 per month.

Hiring a plumber can cost you somewhere between $250-325 per visit.

Repair of appliances damaged by water leaks is always an expensive task. For e.g. repairing a water heater or pipelines can easily cost you more than $500 in a blink. 

Replacing old plumbing lines with new ones can be quite pricey too and may charge you hundreds and thousands of dollars. 

The bottom-line is ignoring even the smallest leak can turn into a major defect and seriously disturb your budget.

Now obviously, you might not be able to detect and fix all the leaks on your own and may require assistance from expert plumbers for the same. 

At the same time, there are certain steps and measures that you can take to detect hidden leaks or to be certain that there are hidden leaks somewhere on your property. Here’s what you can do.

Last but not the least…

How to detect a water leak?

1. The first thing you should do is to turn off all the faucets, appliances, and water valves. Then check your water meter when you aren’t using water. If the reading changes, then there is a leak.

2. A routine check-up into plumbing pipes and water lines can also bring out many hidden leaks that need a fix. 

3. Be mindful of any odd sounds from water tanks or pipelines.

4. Check for any water spots, stains, or green patches in your property to see if it’s due to a leak.

5. Don’t ignore the dribbling; turn off the leaking taps.

The TakeAway

Whether it’s about saving yourself from paying high bills or protecting our natural resources, stopping water leaks quickly is worthwhile. So, the next time you suspect leakage in your faucets or any pipes, rush to a professional for a quick fix. 

Author Bio

For the past 30 years, twin brothers Dave and Jim Schuelke have run their company Twin Home Experts. Twin Home Experts can be found throughout California, Arizona and Utah for home services including plumbing, mold repair, bathroom remodeling, and rodent control. Twin Home Experts is also one of the fastest-growing YouTube channels online for valuable content to both homeowners and plumbers showcasing DIY and frequently asked questions. 

Home Improvements To Help You Get Through Winter

You may not like the bitter winter cold but for your house, this season is the hardest to survive. In fact, the biggest structural damage your home suffers occurs during winter as the snow and cold take their toll on the unprepared house. Luckily, there are home improvements that can help you get through winter without any major repairs. Regulating the temperature inside and insulating the walls are just some of the measures you can apply to winter out this snowy season.

Insulating the unusual spots

You probably know all about the importance of insulating the walls of your house. However, it is equally important to invest in insulating the less probably areas of your home. For instance, insulating the basement is not a waste of money since a cold basement will literally drain all the heat from the rooms above.

Furthermore, the hot water pipes that run through the basement can benefit from insulation as well. The last thing you need is lukewarm water reaching your heating bodies when the temperature outside plummets below minus 20 degrees Centigrade. Metal is not very good insulation so even a thin layer of foam around the hot water pipes can help reduce waste of energy.

Finally, insulating the attic is also a great move. You don’t of this space as an energy-inefficient area because the roof is slanted. However, a roof without proper insulation underneath will give out warm air that is generated below. This will cool down the house, especially the upper floor where the nursery and the bedrooms are located.

Disconnecting the garden tap

Just like the hot water pipes in the basement, every meter of piping that is not going to be used during winter and that lacks proper insulation should not be used. This is easier said than done, as homeowners forget to disconnect the garden tap, for instance. They turn it off in September or October and completely about it until springtime comes. However, as temperatures hit their yearly low, the water inside freezes over, increasing the risk of a pipe bursting.

Instead of closing off the garden tap, be sure to disconnect it all together so there is no water inside the pipes underground. The same should be done with other outdoor water features, like a provisional kitchen. As far as swimming pools and splash pads are concerned, they should only be fully emptied but covered with a plastic sheet to prevent the show from accumulating inside them.

Cement rendering the walls

Having mentioned the swimming pool, it is worth noting that its inner walls are much more reliant to cold than the walls of your house. The main reason for this is that cavity insulation can only provide protection against cold air to a certain point.

A much better solution is rendering the walls with cement. This method will not only weatherproof the walls (subzero temperatures included,) but it will increase the overall aesthetic appeal of the house. If you have already used this method to treat your walls, then perform the necessary cement rendering repairs before the onset of winter.

Helping Santa

If your children ask you if the chimney stack is clear for Santa to come down, don’t take this question as a joke. In the best Christmas spirit, be sure to actually look up the chimney. Namely, it needs to be cleaned because you are going to fire up the hearth once again and if there is anything stuck inside the shaft, all sorts of problems can occur. Even if the chimney is unobstructed, it still needs to be cleaned for the inside so call the local chimney sweeper to the rescue. Finally, check the kitchen hood and all the other air vents, as they should all be ready for the winter season.

Inspect the house for openings

In the end, one final checkup will get you ready for the holiday season. Get outside and walk around the house inspecting it in the process for holes, cracks, and openings. You might find out that there is a draft coming from under the windows or that the corner roof tile is missing. These are easy fixes but if you fail to perform them, you could be in trouble after the first snowfall.

If you notice a chilly breeze sweeping through the house but you have ruled out the window area as the likely culprit, turn to the front door. Its bottom section is often disproportion to the size of the frame so a gap several millimeters wide can appear. You could never tell it existed during summer but in winter you’ll need to get a rubber gasket to cover this minuscule opening that cold winds can still get through.

Getting through winter is not easy as it’s the most challenging season of the year for your home. However, a couple of home improvements listed here will help turn the tide around and ensure you spend the snowy January in the comfort of your warm home.

 

A New Way To Remove A Splinter

I found this tip and have been waiting to try it before I share. I got a syringe in the house and the opportunity arose when I was making some shelves. It took a bit of trials and errors but the last time it was just out. I had almost given up on it but it finally worked. A simple non-painful way to get those out of your finger or better yet your child’s finger.

Ultimate Home Maintenance Checklist to get Your Ready for Autumn

As much as we enjoy summer and wish it would never end, autumn always comes around. For some, it’s even their favorite season. What’s not to like about pumpkins and colourful leaves? The problem is that autumn also brings with itself a host of problems. It’s important that you take precautions to make sure that the autumn weather won’t cause damage to your home. Here are some examples you should watch out for.

1.     Keep the gutters free

They might not look the part, but your home’s gutters serve a very important role in protecting your house from the elements. They help divert water from your roof and spread it evenly across your garden and backyard. At the same time, they also keep a lot of the debris from staying on the roof or damaging the walls beneath them.

During most of the year, cleaning the gutters isn’t much of a problem. You rid them of leaves and debris every once in a while, and they remain clean. However, autumn is a bit different in this regard. You have to give them a thorough clean and de-clutter them a lot more often. The combination of heavy rains and a bunch of leaves falling will inevitably clog the gutters. This will cause the water to pile up on your roof and it can easily spring a leak. Because of this, you need to make sure that the gutters are regularly cleaned and maintained before the start of autumn.

2.     Check the roof for damage

Every autumn, you can expect a lot of rain to grace your home’s roof. It might be designed to withstand rain and hailstorms, but that doesn’t mean your roof is completely impervious to damage. It’s not uncommon for the occasional shingle to crack or fall off after years of use. This small bit of damage might not harm your roof during most seasons, but it’s going to be hard to ignore when the autumn rains begin.

Leaks can cause a lot of damage to your home. Even if you disregard the loss of heat through the leak opening, you still have a lot of stuff to deal with. Mould can accumulate on your attic walls and damage them. Not to mention, mould can also cause health problems if it’s allowed to grow and spread.

3.     Drain the hoses

Garden hoses might seem like they should be fine on their own, but the weather can cause them some significant damage. There will always be a bit of leftover water in your hoses, even after you turn off the tap. When the weather turns cold, this water can freeze and cause the hoses to burst, possibly damaging them and the faucet.

There are a couple of ways to help keep them safe. For one, you need to make sure they’re completely drained from any excess water. All you have to do is press them from one end to the other. Afterwards, you should roll the hoses up and keep them inside your shed. This will prevent them from getting too cold when late autumn arrives.

4.     Make sure your plumbing is functional

The colder seasons put a lot of pressure on your plumbing. During autumn, the cold temperatures might cause water to expand in some of the external and internal piping, damaging them. This is further exacerbated by the fact that you’re going to start using more hot water than usual. Once the warm summer days are over, people are more likely to quit their cold shower routine, because it gets really cold.

Dealing with the pipes isn’t going to be easy. It’s not a job you can easily DIY. This is why a lot of people look for hot water heating experts to help them during the autumn. It’s a lot easier than opening up the walls and trying to check things out by yourself. Professionals have better tools and diagnostics that can figure out where a problem might manifest itself.

5.     Keep the lawn fed

Different seasons require different care products for your garden and lawn. During autumn, you should take great care in preparing your lawn for the upcoming harsh weather. Since the temperature is about to drop, have to make sure your garden is well-fed.

Autumn is the perfect time to add some fertilizer to your garden and lawn. Plants tend to suffer through the late autumn and winter, which is why they might need more nourishment than usual. Adding fertilizer twice during this season should be enough to keep the plants alive and healthy.

Conclusion

Autumn is a turning point of the year. The weather shifts to dramatically colder temperatures and you’re left with a host of problems if you aren’t prepared. Because of this, you need to know exactly what awaits you during autumn. Make sure you take all the necessary precautions to protect your home and you’re going to have smooth sailing from here on out.