The Professional Choice

A companion overview to the popular "Ask Mr. Handyman" radio program airing on Christian Talk Radio, KCRO 660AM Saturdays @ 9:30AM.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Protecting Your Home from Fire and Flood

As a reminder to area homeowners, Mr. Handyman is offering two simple suggestions that most homeowners can manage themselves and that will greatly reduce the risk of damage to your homes, and maybe become more energy efficient.

Dryers: If you have to run the dryer a second or even third time to get clothes fully dry, your dryer vents may need cleaning. While most homeowners clean their lint traps between every load, dryer vents must also be cleaned regularly. It is recommended that dryer vents be cleaned every 1-2 years, depending on the frequency of dryer use and the distance from the back of the dryer to where the vent exits the home. Lint buildup in vents increases the risk of fire and reduces the efficiency of the dryer.

It’s a fact: Thirteen thousand fires start in laundry rooms in the U.S. each year, causing 10 deaths and $97 million in property damage. One-third of these fires arise from lint buildup.
Besides reducing the risk of fire, clean vents allow for efficient drying. Savings estimates range from $.50 to $3.00 a load, depending on the size of the load, the energy efficiency of your dryer and the severity of obstruction in your vents. Reduced wear on the dryer will also extend its life.

Washing machines: Most washing machines come with a set of black rubber hoses for hot and cold water. These hoses are under constant pressure and will eventually fail.

It’s a fact: Washing machine-related failures are a leading source of home water damage losses, costing an average of $5,308 per incident. Water supply hoses account for most failures. Most manufacturers recommend replacing hoses every 3-5 years.

At the first sign of cracking or dry rot, replace your hoses. Replacement hoses re-enforced with steel or nylon braiding are available and reasonably priced to further protect your home. When you leave home for vacation or extended travel, shut off the washing machine water supply to protect against rupture and flooding.

For those people who can’t remember the last time their dryer vents were cleaned and have never inspected their washing machine hoses, Mr. Handyman recommends immediate action. If you are unable or do not desire to take-on these projects yourself, Mr. Handyman is fully prepared to handle these and any other home repair and maintenance tasks that require attention while we’re in your home. If you have home improvement projects you are considering now or for the future, Mr. Handyman would also be happy to discuss these with you and offer you a free estimate while in your home. This makes Mr. Handyman your best value.

Don't Let the Bed Bugs Bite!

Bed bugs. I used to laugh and joke about them as a kid but I never had any experience with them, nor had any of my family or friends knowingly had them.

They are real, they are a nuisance, they DO BITE, and they are a bugger to get rid of.

Most folks will revert to the professionals, an exterminator or try to DIY with some chemicals from one of the big-box stores. I have another solution that is very effective and very safe. The ONLY precaution is breathing of the dust when applying. It is Diatomaceous Earth, or DE. It can be purchased at any local health food store and is fairly inexpensive. There is no chemical smell and it is an all-natural "green" product.

Wear a dust mask and apply a ring around your bedposts, in any wall or floor cracks near your bed and dust along the decorative piping at the edges of your mattress. The DE will cut these little critters each time they crawl through the fine powder and they will eventually dry-up and die. You can put it down as a precautionary measure as well.

If you have visitors for the upcoming holidays I would dust all areas where they could unknowingly bring these awful critters into your home. There are huge outbreaks in the Manhattan, Chicago, Denver and Detroit areas as well as others.

If you travel and stay in a hotel I would take some precautions to ensure you do not pick up a hitchhiker. Inspect the bed you will lay your head down on. Keep your suitcase on the countertops or table tops and vacuum it when you return. I would put out the DE just to be safe.

Bed bugs are not known to carry diseases but they can leave you with some itchy welts and a lot of headaches. It is best to pre-treat with the safe DE and hopefully they never come for a visit.