April 2018: Spring Tips for the Home

Ask The Inspector

Understanding Your Home’s Phantom Load

What if we told you your home is full of phantoms? Your home’s phantom load, or the amount of energy that appliances consume when they’re turned off, can be scary for your electric bill. Luckily, you can cut back phantom usage with this quick guide. Learn More

3 Tips for Child Safety at Home

While home is often the safest place to be, your house could pose unseen threats to your family. Here are some ways you can prevent accidents around your home and have a healthier, happier household. Learn More

Expert Advice

Flipping Houses 101

If you’ve already mastered homeownership, you may be looking for your next investment. Here’s how to know if flipping houses is right for you, as well as the best types of fixer-upper homes to look out for. Learn More

Why Does My House Smell?

Sometimes previous owners can leave things behind. And sometimes, those things aren’t tangible items, like plates and furniture – they’re smells. Before you walk away from your dream home, use these tips to pinpoint the source of odors and be on your way to breathing easy. Learn More

Snapshots From The Field

Every day on the job, our inspectors come across safety hazards that you and your family should know about. Here’s one that’s far more common that you might think, and fortunately there’s an easy fix.

A clogged dryer vent is one of your home’s most dangerous fire hazards. Each year, more than 2,900 house fires originate in clogged dryer vents. While we cover the topic a lot, this photo from just a few weeks ago proves that it never hurts to keep spreading the word!

Remember, when it comes to your dryer vent, it doesn’t end with cleaning the lint trap (though that’s definitely part of it). You’ll also need to periodically clean the vent itself. Here’s how to go about cleaning if your vent is less than three feet long and leads outside:

  1. Empty the lint screen like you normally would after a load of laundry.
  2. Unplug the dryer, then move it away from the wall to access the vent.
  3. You’ll notice a tube leading from the back of your dryer to a hole in the wall—this is the vent, and the tubing will have to be detached from the back of the dryer in order to clean it. It’s generally attached to your dryer with a set of four screws, which can be removed with a normal flat or Philips head screwdriver.
  4. Using the nozzle attachment on your vacuum cleaner, vacuum as much lint as you can, as far as you can down the tube and into the vent.
  5. Hook everything back up.
  6. Going outside, locate the escape vent and make sure it’s also clear of visible debris. Once the vent is clear, run the dryer and make sure hot air is flowing freely to the outside.
  7. You’re done!

If your vent is long and doesn’t vent directly outside, just give a call your nearest professional.

Maintenance Matters

How to Remove Scratches from Wood Floors

We all know that replacing hardwood floors can be time-consuming and expensive. Before you start looking for a contractor, try this simple technique for fixing scratches, pet damage and more. Learn More

Your 7-Item Checklist for an Efficient Air Conditioner

Whether you run your A/C year-round or you’re gearing up for warmer temperatures, you can perform this easy checkup on your system to make sure that it’s running as smoothly as possible. Learn More

How to Clean a Clogged Showerhead in 6 Easy Steps

There’s nothing more annoying than a clogged showerhead. If your water pressure has been feeling weak lately, try this simple, chemical-free trick for unclogging a blocked showerhead. Learn More

Dos and Don’ts for Pet Stains in Carpet

If you’ve ever been frustrated that a pet stain hasn’t fully disappeared no matter how hard you scrub, this article is for you. We’ll tell you everything you need to know to get your carpets looking fresh and new again. Learn More

Monthly Trivia Question

How much electricity (in U.S. dollars) do modern appliances on low power mode waste each year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency?

A. $1Million
B. $5 Million
C. $4 Billion
D. Over a Trillion

Be the first to answer correctly and win a $10 Starbucks’s gift card. Submit your answer to find out if you’ve won.

3 Tips for Child Safety at Home

While home is often the safest place to be, your house could pose unseen threats to your child’s safety. Here are some of the ways you can maintain child safety standards and prevent serious accidents before they occur.

General Safety Tips

It’s essential that everything that could be potentially harmful is locked away for your child’s safety. Childproof latches are easily available to keep little hands away from dangerous tools, sharp edges, and appliances. Outlets will need fault circuit interrupters, which protect against electrocution when something electrical gets wet. Installing non-slip strips in bathtubs, showers, and underneath rugs is also a way to keep little ones from slipping unintentionally. If you are unsure if your home is hiding hard-to-spot dangers, feel free to contact National Property Inspections. Our inspectors have the expertise and experience you need to make an informed decision for the safety of your home.

In the Bedroom

If not prepared properly,cribs can pose some of the most serious safety risks for your child. Cribs that were built before 2012, for example, have been found to be life threatening because of their drop-side feature. If you want to re-use your childhood crib for traditions’ sake, you can modify it by permanently attaching the drop side to its end posts. This will eliminate any risk of the side suddenly dropping out of place and putting your child in danger. Once your child is able to push up in its crib, remove all bumpers, pillows, toys, and hanging objects for your child’s safety, as these can serve as tools to assist in an infant’s escape and a fall from their crib.

In the Bathroom

Be sure to turn the water heater below 120 Degrees so it’s impossible for bath water to get too hot. Scalding water can cause third degree burns in seconds on delicate skin. You’ll also want to lock all potentially dangerous instruments like razor blades, nail scissors, hair dryers, curling irons, and electric razors in a cabinet that is not easily accessed by children. Medications, cosmetics, cleaning solutions, mouthwash, perfumes, hair dyes, hair sprays, nail polishes, and removers should be stored in a locked cabinet with child-proof caps on them (when possible) as an extra precaution. Always close the toilet seat and consider installing a toilet-lid lock to keep things secure when not in use.

In the Kitchen

The kitchen can be a fantastic place for families to bond over cookie making and long talks, but to keep little ones safe, you’ll need to follow these tips:

  • Turn any pot handles towards the back of the stove, using only the back burners whenever possible. Sometimes merely keeping things out of reach can go a long way.
  • Position any chairs and step stools away from the stove top to prevent any curious diners from trying to sample anything above a hot burner.
  • Be sure to place the garbage can behind a cabinet with a childproof lock on it and keep all corded appliances unplugged when not in use.
  • Although sandwich bags are a commonly used kitchen accessory, be sure to keep these away from curious hands as well because of the dangers plastic can pose to child safety.
  • Finally, does your child’s highchair have a safety belt or strap that goes between the legs? This prevents wobbly babies from taking an unwanted tumble.

If you are at all worried about the safety of your home, call us at 563-359-6749. We can help with any questions as to the functionality of appliances, check for safety, and give you the peace of mind to bring baby home.

The Best Electrical Outlet Type for Your Needs

Varying in category, voltage, and function, different electrical outlet types are each designed for a specific purpose. Different countries may have varying national standards, but the central goal is always the same: connecting you to your devices swiftly and easily.

Surge Protection Outlets for Clean Electricity

For reliable power you need to start with clean electricity, but what does that mean? Clean electricity is free of “noise,” (aka interference) that can be caused by nearby power lines or electrical substations. A noisy electrical supply is prone to surges, which is why one of the best ways to protect your home’s expensive electrical equipment is with a surge protector. Surge protection is also necessary in professional settings such as emergency power supplies or life-support systems for hospitals. If you don’t like the look of a surge protection power strip, you can buy in-wall surge protection outlets, too.

Polarized and Grounded Outlets Prevent User Error

Certain outlet types are designed only for specific connectors to improve safety. Polarized plugs and outlets are now the standard for all common household appliances. With polarized plugs, you’ll notice that one blade is slightly larger than the other. This ensures that you can only plug your appliance in one way, the right way, aligned with your home’s wiring system. Grounded plugs, usually found on larger appliances like ovens, refrigerators and televisions, have three prongs.

Use GFCI Outlets In Case of Water

Ever wonder why some outlets have reset buttons on them? This is a special type of receptacle called a GFCI, or ground-fault circuit interrupter. Required in kitchens, bathrooms, and other exposed or damp areas, that tiny “reset” button can protect from serious shock when the right amount of electricity and water meet. Acting like an ultra-sensitive circuit breaker, this face detects the amount of incoming and outgoing current, and if they are not even, shuts itself down. Therefore, if you are having trouble with one or more outlets in the kitchen, bathroom, or laundry area, simply locate the GFCI switch and try a reset, which will restart any circuits it has been connected to. If you are having trouble locating the GFCI switch, National Property Inspections is always here to lend a helping hand.

Childproof Outlets Protect Your Little Ones

If you have a young family, child proof outlets are now more accessible than ever. While they appear identical to standard outlets, they are anything but. A spring-loaded cover plate protects the outlet holes, which prevents the insertion of household objects when unequal pressure is applied to the receptacle’s contact points. So essentially, unless you are an adult trying to plug something in, the outlet won’t budge. With nearly 2,400 children (that’s seven per day!) in emergency rooms due to electrical shocks per year, this is a fantastic way to keep your little ones out of harm’s way.

If you are having trouble locating the GFI switch or are wondering if it is time for an upgrade, National Property Inspections is here to help.