It used to take only a few days to ready a home for sale, but today’s savvy sellers know they need to stage it to sell. But no matter how important a first impression is, it’s the soundness of the structure that usually makes or breaks the deal.
Enjoy the last glories of summer sun, as news has surfaced that the Farmer’s Almanac is predicting a bitterly cold and stormy winter. Even this early, there are steps you can take to protect your home from the ravages of winter.
1. Have your home tested for mold and other toxins.
If you suffered any leaks or flooding, MAKE SURE the mold and toxins are gone before you close the door on this season. If moisture or mold lurks behind your walls or under floorboards, you can count on a full-blown mold infestation by next spring. Have your home tested now by a certified microbial inspector. He will let you know if your home is safe to close for the winter.
2. Prepare your home’s exterior.
Turn off water to outside faucets and drain hoses before storing them. Take all furniture and outdoor recreational equipment indoors so that it does not fly away if there are strong winds. You should also shut the fireplace flues and dampers to avoid anything unwanted coming down the chimney. If you have storm shutters, make sure they are closed and secured. Finally, make sure your gutters are clean and downspouts are angled away from your home to avoid flooding and ice dams later on.
3. Turn off the main water supply.
Pipes can freeze and burst during winter if they are filled with water and the heat is off. So, turn off the main water supply and open all faucets and drain them. If your home is located in a very cold region, you may even want to drain the toilets and water heater. For more information on how to winterize a toilet, click here. Many experts suggest adding RV or boat antifreeze to the toilet and sink. To see how to drain a water heater, click here.
4. Set the thermostat.
It may seem incongruous to turn on the heat as it is still warm outside, but in a few months when the temperature drops below freezing, a heated house, even at 50 degrees, will prevent your pipes from freezing and keep your home dry through the winter. Most experts recommend keeping the thermostat between 50° F and 58°. The heat won’t kick in until the indoor temperature drops below the thermostat’s temperature setting. But, if you are concerned, you can subscribe to an Internet-based system with equipment that monitors the inside air temperature and alerts you to freezing temperatures.
5. Clean out the refrigerator and freezer.
Some people choose to empty them completely, and turn off the unit for the season. If you do this, be sure to prop the doors open to prevent mold growth inside. If you decide to leave the fridge on, do not leave anything in it that may spoil if the power goes out. This can be especially dangerous if you leave food in the freezer and lose power for an extended period of time. When the power goes back on, the food will refreeze, and you won’t know that it had defrosted and probably rotted.
6. Set up a system for snow removal.
If your home is in the Northeast, it’s a sure bet that you’ll see snow. The only question is, how much? Make provisions now for a snow removal company or friend to remove snow once it reaches a certain height. This will help to prevent ice dams on the roof and leaks in the basement, which can cause mold to grow within 24-48 hours. If you want to be extra cautious, you may want to have someone stop by periodically to make sure nothing is awry.
If you have any questions, please feel free to call us at (800) 392-6468. We’ll be happy to answer your questions or set up an appointment to test your home for mold or any other toxin.
RTK’s very own Robert Weitz was recently interviewed by Connecticut for Sale. He shares great advice on Protecting Your Home From Silent Killers, including mold, lead, asbestos, and radon. CLICK HERE to read the article.
CBS TV’s Dr. Max Gomez: Hurricane Sandy Could Still Harm Your Health
Almost ten months after Sandy the effects of the storm are still being felt in surprising ways. As CBS 2′s Dr. Max Gomez reported, post-hurricane health hazards could be lurking in your home. Mold stole the headlines, but not many people considered the aftermath of disturbing lead paint, asbestos, and other dangerous toxins.
RTK Environmental Group helps uncover the hidden dangers after the storm.
By taking a few preventative steps on home maintenance, you can save big money in the end. Robert offers some “Weitz Advice” on ABC in Baltimore. For more information on how we can help you, please call us at (800) 392-6468.
Every fall in the northeast, a breathtaking landscape is heightened by fiery red, yellow, and orange leaves, accented with deep purples and rich greens. But, as the leaves fall and wind up in a downspout or gutter, the chances of mold growth on damp and rotting leaves, and future ice dams that could cause flooding become great.
Here are some tips from RTK Environmental about what you can do to prevent both:
1. Dispose of leaves in an area away from the house if you prefer not to gather them in refuse bags. As organic debris rots, mold growth can follow.
2. Keep gutters free of leaves. If you don’t, they may become heavy and pull away from your house causing leaks. Leaks often lead to mold growth.
3. To keep water from pooling at the house’s foundation, keep downspouts clear and positioned away from the house. Pools of water can seep into the foundation, causing an environment in which mold thrives.
4. If you see evidence of mold or mildew:
a) power wash the gutters;
b) scrub the area with a mixture of 4 parts water, 1 part bleach, making sure the mixture is sufficiently diluted so as not to harm children, pets, or nearby vegetation;
c) use a long brush to get inside downspouts.
d) rinse gutters thoroughly with a hose.
5. If you think your gutters may have caused a leak or mold issue, have your home tested by a professional to avoid future problems and potential health risks.
Before you shut the door to your summer home next week, be sure to take the necessary steps to winterize it so that you don’t open the door next spring to a moldy mess.
1. Get the outside ready. Turn off the water to outside faucets and drain hoses before storing them. You should also close the fireplace flues and dampers to avoid anything unwanted coming down the chimney. Finally, make sure your gutters are clean and downspouts are angled away from your home.
2. Turn off the main water supply. Pipes can freeze and burst during the winter if they are filled with water and the heat is off. So, turn off the main water supply and open all faucets and drain them of water. If you are in a very cold area, you may even want to drain the toilets and water heater. For more information on how to winterize a toilet, click here. To see how to drain a water heater, click here.
3. Set the thermostat. It may seem incongruous to turn on the heat as it is still warm outside, but in a few months when the temperature drops below freezing, a warm house will prevent your pipes from freezing and keep your home dry through the winter. Most experts recommend keeping the thermostat between 55° F and 58° F.
4. Clean out the refrigerator and freezer. Some people choose to empty them completely, and turn off the unit for the season. If you do this, be sure to prop the doors open to prevent mold growth inside. If you decide to leave the fridge on, do not leave anything in it that may spoil if the power goes out. This can be especially dangerous if you leave food in the freezer and lose power for an extended period of time. When the power goes back on, the food will refreeze, and you won’t know that it was defrosted and probably rotted.
5. Clean, clean, clean – and we mean everything! Remove all trash, clean the towels and linens, vacuum, and scrub. It may seem like a burden to clean before you leave, but those little crumbs in the carpet can attract critters and a little bit of mildew in the shower now turn out to be a whole lot of mold later. Make sure your towels and linens are completely dry before you store them.
If you want to be extra cautious, you may want to have a friend or neighbor stop in periodically throughout the season to make sure nothing is awry. Follow these steps and you’ll know that you won’t open the doors to an environmental disaster next season!
In our last post, we discussed steps homeowners should take when hiring a contractor to remodel their pre-1978 built home. But what if you are doing the work yourself, even a simple painting job in an older home?
Don’t risk your family’s health. Have your home tested for lead by an environmental testing company. You need to know if you’ll be disturbing old layers of lead paint so you can take appropriate steps to keep your family safe.
If remnants of lead paint are found, follow these precautions:
Evacute vulnerable family members. While you are working, be sure children younger than seven, pregnant women and pets leave for the day. Even a speck of lead dust can cause irreversible damage to them. They can return to the house after the work has stopped and the area is thoroughly cleaned.
Contain the area. Close the doors leading to the work area. Then use 4-6 mil plastic sheeting and painter’s tape to seal off the area, even over the doors. Seal all duct work in the area with the plastic sheeting and painter’s tape. Your goal is to prevent lead dust from contaminating the rest of your house.
Dress for success. Look for a mask or respirator with a N95 rating or higher, which filters out very fine particles. And be sure you wear it for the entire time you are working and cleaning. Also, buy a Tyvek suit to protect your clothes. If the work takes more than a day, leave the Tyvek suit in the contained area. And be sure to cover your feet with booties, which also should never leave the contained area. Once you remove the Tyvek suit and the booties, head to your washing machine, strip, and wash your clothes.
Avoid sanding. Lead dust accounts for most of the 250,000 pediatric lead poisoning cases a year. Sanding releases fine lead dust particles, which fly through your air, infiltrating your house. Unfortunately, they stay in the air for a long time. Therefore, sand as little as possible.
Time to clean. First, sweep up as much of the dust and debris as you can and put it into a plastic bag, which you then seal with painter’s tape. Use a HEPA vacuum to remove any remaining lead dust particles. Then use warm water and clean rags to wash all surfaces. Every exposed surface must be cleaned well.
When the work is done, have another lead test performed by a professional testing company. Click here for more information or to schedule a lead test.