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Home safety tips from a home inspector

Home Inspector with Advance Look Building Inspections and Environmental Testing

While on an inspection last week I found an improperly connected furance vent in the attic. This reminded me that safety issues in a home are not always obvious. On another recent inspection, a stair handrail was stapled on and pulling loose. There are many different things that can be safety issues in a home. Most of them are relatively easy to find if you know where to look. These recent occurences brought safety issues to the front of my mind. Here are a few reminders and tips to keep your family safe in your home.

  • Battery operated smoke detectors have a life span of about 7 years. Replace them often and remeber to change the batteries twice a year.
  • Carbon Monoxide detectors also have a lifespan of 5-7 years. These life-saving devices are frequently overlooked and we recommend every home that uses energy besides electricity have several Carbon Monoxide detectors.
  • Have regular family fire drills to ensure your children know at least 2 safe exits from the home.
  • Keep stairways free of toys and clutter. These can pose some very dangerous trip hazards.
  • If you have children, make sure important phone numbers such as 911 and the Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) are easily accessible and convenient.
  • If you have a finished basement, make sure that the mechanical room has sufficient combustion air. Current code requires there be 50 cubic feet of make-up air for every 1000 BTU's of appliance. For example if you have an 80,000 BTU furnace and a 40,000 BTU water heater, there could be 120,000 BTUs of operating at the same time. This would require 6,000 cubic feet of make-up air. That would require a mechanical room of 30x25 with an 8 foot ceiling. If your mechanical room is not the proper size, venting can be added. Contact your local utility provider or a qualified service professional to learn more. Without this make-up air, your appliances will not have proper combustion, creating a possible Carbon Monoxide issue.

These are a few of the many issues that could pose safety threats to your family. I recommend doing some research and making sure home is a safe home.

Here are a few links to get you started:

Home Safety Council

Consumer.gov - a very cool site that gives consumers free information from the federal government

Household Safety Checklist - Home safety for children