Is your Clothes Dryer a fire hazard?

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Dryers & washing machines

Dryers and washing machines were involved in one out of every 23 home structure fires reported to U.S. fire departments in 2003-2006.

Facts and figures

  • Between 2010-14, an estimated 15,900 reported U.S. non-confined or confined home structure fires involving clothes dryers or washing machines resulted in 13 civilian deaths, 440 civilian injuries and $238 million in direct property damage.
  • Clothes dryers accounted for 92% of the fires
  • The leading cause of home clothes dryer and washer fires was failure to clean (29%), followed by unclassified mechanical failure or malfunction (24%). Thirteen percent were caused by some type of electrical failure or short circuit.

Source: NFPA: https://www.nfpa.org/-/media/Files/News-and-Research/Fire-statistics-and-reports/Fact-sheets/WasherDryerFactSheet.pdf

Have your dryer installed and serviced by a professional.
Do not operate the dryer without a lint filter.
Rigid or flexible metal venting material should be used to sustain proper air flow and drying time.

energy saving tips – clothes dryer

No Cost / Low Cost

  • Install an outdoor clothes line. Heat from the sun and the flow of air will dry your clothes. An indoor clothes rack may take longer to dry, but it is an energy efficient alternative to the clothes dryer.
  • Dry full loads whenever possible but don’t overload the machine.
  • Clean the lint trap after every load. A clogged lint trap can increase energy use up to 30 per cent and may be a fire hazard.
  • Try to start your second load of drying as soon as the first is finished. That way, the dryer will still be warm – and you will save energy.
  • Make sure your clothes are wrung out well before putting them in the dryer.
  • Separate your loads into heavy, medium and lightweight items – lighter loads will take less drying time than a mixture of items.
  • Don’t leave clothes in the dryer too long. Over-drying not only uses more electricity but also increases shrinkage and wrinkles. Clothes should dry in 40 minutes to one hour.
  • Use your dryer’s “cool down” cycle – usually the “permanent-press” setting. No heat is supplied in the last few minutes, but drying continues as cool air is blown through tumbling clothes.
  • Keep your dryer’s outside exhaust clean. A clogged exhaust lengthens drying time and increases energy use.

source: Fortis

energy saving tips – clothes washer

No Cost / Low Cost

  • Wash your clothes in cold or warm water. A whopping 85 to 90 per cent of energy used by washing machines is for heating the water. Hot water also shrinks and fades your clothes, wearing them out more quickly.
  • Run full loads whenever possible but don’t overload the machine.
  • Always use cold water for the RINSE cycle. Using warm or hot water for the RINSE cycle will not get your clothes any cleaner.

Save Even More

  • Invest a little more for an ENERGY STAR® qualified clothes washer. They use 35 to 50 per cent less water and 50 per cent less energy per load than the average clothes washer

Electrical Safety in the Home… Don’t get fried!

U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 51,800 reported home structure fires involving electrical failure or malfunction in 2007. These fires resulted in 451 civilian deaths, 1,641 civilian injuries and $1.2 billion in direct property damage.

Facts & Figures

  • Forty-one percent of home electrical failure fires involved electrical distribution or lighting equipment in 2003-2007.
  • In 2003-2007, 53% of electrical failure home fires involved other known type of equipment. The leading other known type of equipment involved in home electrical failure fires are range, washer or dryer, and fans.
  • U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 25,200 reported U.S. non-confined home structure fires involving electrical distribution or lighting equipment in 2007. These fires resulted in 270 civilian fire deaths, 1,050 civilian fire injuries, and $663 million in direct property damage.
  • Some type of electrical failure or malfunction was cited as factor contributing to ignition for 72% of electrical distribution or lighting equipment home structure fires.

Source: NFPA’s “Home Electrical Fires ,” by John R. Hall, Jr., May 2010

Also see: Fact sheet on home electrical fires. (PDF, 59 KB)

NFPA does not test, label or approve any products.
Updated 5/10

The Importance of Bathroom and Kitchen Fans

The Importance of Bathroom and Kitchen Fans

Bathroom fans are an important part of your home’s ventilation system. They remove odours from your house, which improves indoor air quality. They also remove moisture, which decreases the level of humidity in your house. High humidity can damage building materials and can cause mold growth. Mold may affect your family’s health. Continue reading

Combine Colours Like a Design Expert

A little bit of basic colour theory, a colour wheel and something called the
60-30-10 rule will have you combining colours like an interior design pro.

  • By Douglas Trattner

As a residential interior designer, Michelle Pollak, president of The Lollipop Tree, an interior design firm in Charleston, S.C., makes her living by combining colours to achieve a desired mood or effect. By following the traditional rules of color theory, she can produce kitchens and bathrooms that jump with energy or soothe the senses. Colour theory tells us what hues give us that warm and cozy feel and which ones foster a cool, peaceful serenity.

“But before you can successfully apply colour theory to interior design, you have to understand how it works,” Michelle says.

Theory in Practice
When coming up with a room’s colour palette, Michelle takes three important things into consideration: her clients’ personal preferences, their lifestyle (how they intend to use the space) and the room’s physical structure (lighting and architectural details). With this information, she then can determine which colours and colour scheme will best match her clients’ objectives.

“There are just some colour schemes that work better than others,” Michelle says. “Like if I walk into a country farmhouse kitchen, I automatically think of a monochromatic or analogous colour scheme of creamy pale yellows or deep rich reds.” Conversely, a kitchen in a contemporary or modern house might be best served by bold, bright colours used in a complementary or triadic colour scheme.

If her clients are looking to achieve a feeling of peace and tranquility, Michelle immediately considers a monochromatic or analogous colour palette. “Think about the colour scheme of a Hawaiian island and how restful it makes you feel,” she says. “The lush green hills, the blue ocean water and the pale blue sky — that is a classic analogous colour scheme.” Bathrooms and spa rooms are ideal places to take colour cues from nature, she adds.

To introduce a little bit more spark into a contemporary design pattern, Michelle moves to a complementary or triadic colour scheme. “With each step up from monochromatic to analogous to complementary to triadic, you add a little more energy and a little more interest.”

Michelle cautions against injecting too much of a bright color in any room. “It is extremely important to balance colors with a lot of energy, because what might seem fun and exciting can become exhausting over time,” she warns. This is where the beauty of a complementary colour scheme really shines. Because the colours are opposite each other on the colour wheel, these colour combinations always balance a warm hue with a cool hue.

Formula for Success
As an interior designer who specializes in what she calls “integrative lifestyle design,” DeAnna Radaj, ASID, uses feng shui and colour to achieve harmony and balance in one’s home environment.

Colour is a powerful influence on our daily lives, explains DeAnna, owner of Bante Design in Milwaukee, Wis. By understanding the psychology of colour, which identifies the psychological effects individual colors have on our minds and bodies, we can design rooms that foster health, well-being and prosperity.

DeAnna divides rooms into active spaces and passive spaces. Kitchens fall into the active category, while bathrooms tend to fall into the passive group. Because warm colours like orange and red represent energy and tension, they are best suited for active rooms like the kitchen. Alternatively, cool colors like blues and greens have a soothing and calming effect, making them ideal for passive rooms like the bedroom and bathroom.

“The kitchen is considered a fire room and the bathroom is a water room,” says DeAnna. But that doesn’t mean she recommends painting every wall in your
kitchen red or every square inch of your bathroom blue. As in life, balance is key. “Too much of one colour can create a numbing, exhausting affect on you and your family,” notes DeAnna.

DeAnna suggests following a color principal commonly referred to as the “60-30-10 rule.” For example, 60 percent of a bathroom or kitchen, typically the walls, should be one colour of a colour scheme. The colour of the cabinetry and/or furniture accounts for the 30-percent figure. And accents and accessories such as plants, artwork and linens make up the remaining 10 percent.

And taking a lesson straight from the feng shui playbook, DeAnna strongly advises against painting your kitchen a vivid orange. “In feng shui terms, orange increases one’s appetite,” she says. “So unless you want to get fat, stay away from orange.”

RESOURCES

DeAnna Radaj, ASID
Bante Design

Michelle Pollak, ASID
The Lollipop Tree

Doug Sanderson
Associate Professor of Art Kent State University

How to clean your Blinds

No matter what kind of blinds you have—wooden, fabric and vertical are the three basic types—these tips will make their cleaning and maintenance easy:

1. Vacuum blinds often with the brush attachment. Vacuum across the slats,
not up and down.

2. Use a lamb’s-wool duster, again working across the slats and starting at
the top. Do not use plastic dusters.

3. When dusting or vacuuming vertical blinds, brush downward only, as the
slats often become unhooked if you brush upward.

4. Use a rubber sponge, also known as a dry sponge (found at hardware and
paint stores), to remove dust and residue from both fabric and vinyl blinds.
Simply wipe the dry sponge firmly across the blinds.

5. For spot cleaning, spray an all-purpose cleaner onto a clean dry cloth and
wipe the soiled area of the blind. Never spray the cleaner directly onto the
blind.

6. You can wet wooden blinds when cleaning, but don’t soak them. Clean them
in place instead of removing them as you would for other types of blinds.

7. If fabric blinds become very dirty, take them to a dry cleaner.

8. Do not try cleaning blinds by spraying them with a car-wash hose, dunking
them in the tub or one slat at a time.

9. To clean metal and vinyl blinds, follow this method: Take the blinds
outside to your patio or driveway and lay them on a small rug or piece of
carpet. Put a few drops of dishwashing soap in a bucket of water. Wet a
car-washing brush and brush the blinds from side to side, and then turn them
over and brush the other side. Rinse the blinds gently with a garden hose while
tilting them so that the water runs off. To prevent water spots from forming,
quickly run your finger down the slats a couple of times to remove excess water.
When done, drape the blinds over a fence or a couch to dry.

Source: www.HGTV.com

A Green Kitchen Is a Happy Kitchen

If you love to cook then you know that your kitchen can sometimes take on a life of its own. Some kitchens are warm and inviting. Others are cluttered and can seem to suck the life right out of a person. If you want your kitchen to be more inviting than it is, the answer might be to create a green kitchen.
Creating a green kitchen doesn’t mean painting the walls green. It means making your kitchen eco-friendly. It’s amazing how much better you will feel about cooking in your kitchen when you know that you are saving time, energy and money. Protecting the planet and your own finances will allow you to infuse your kitchen and each dish you cook with more love and flavor. Continue reading

10 Things you must know about home security

A Crime of Opportunity

Break-ins are a crime of opportunity, where entry is gained due to carelessness of homeowners. Follow these ten essentials and you will all but eliminate the chance of unlawful entry.

1. Lock all your doors 24/7*

Most unlawful entry is through doorways. And about 50% of those are through doors left unlocked. An unlocked lock is not a lock!

  • 51% of break-ins occur during daylight.
  • 49% occur after dark.
  • 8,600 break-ins a day. 1 every 13 seconds.

2. Deadbolt all exterior entrances.

Most burglaries are the result of forcible entry.* Every exterior entryway into your home needs a deadbolt with a full 1″ throwbolt.

  • Treat the door from the garage to inside the house as an exterior door.
  • Exterior doors should be solid, 1-3/4″ hardwood or fibreglass, with secure frames.

3. Intruders fear the spotlight.

An intruder’s greatest fear is being seen. Don’t give them a place to hide.

  • Good exterior lighting around your perimeter creates a psychological barrier.
  • Consider motion activated light fixtures.
  • All porches and other entrances should be lit with at least 40-watt bulbs.
  • Trim the overgrown bushes, tree limbs, or landscaping to the height of porches or windows.

4. Glass can shatter your security.

  • Locks less than an arm’s length away from glass panels and sidelights require glass brick, grates or grilles.
  • A sliding glass door is lifted into position when installed – and easily lifted out if you’re not careful. Adjust screw in the door track to limit clearance. Add a wooden dowel or broom handle too. Ensure children can remove easily in the event of a fire.
  • Retrofit ground floor windows with locking hardware.

5. “While you’re on vacation, I’ll just let myself in.”

Maintain the appearance of occupancy at all times.

  • Use automatic timers to turn on different lights at different times.
  • Have a trusted neighbor pick up your mail and newspapers. And, occasionally use your garbage cans.
  • During the winter, arrange to have snow shoveled.
  • Most break-ins occur between 10am and 3pm. Put a radio on a timer. Turn the ringer on the telephone down.

6. Start a neighborhood watch.

Neighbors watching out for each other is the most effective method of crime prevention. Host a Neighborhood Watch get-started meeting for your block, and invite a police department representative to assist with planning, education, training and prevention techniques.

7. Remember that key you thought you put under the mat?

  • Never hide keys under a mat, or taped above a door jamb: Burglars know these places.
  • Leave a key with a trusted neighbor.
  • Don’t place identification tags on your key or key rings.

8. Help the police help you.

  • House numbers should be at least 4″ – 6″ high, reflective and visible from the street.
  • Numbers should be illuminated at night.
  • Report strangers running through private yards or alley ways or anyone looking into windows of houses or parked cars.
  • Call the police. Don’t worry about false alarms. Better to be safe than sorry.
  • Call 911 if an emergency threatens human life or property. If not an emergency call your local police department directly.

9. Burglars prefer cash.

Burglars want cash or items easily fenced for cash; small electronic equipment, computers, cameras, jewelry, hand guns. Don’t make it easy…

  • Empty stereo and television boxes in the alley is a strong temptation to “inquire within”.
  • Hide your valuables or keep them under lock and key.
  • Engrave your valuables with “THIS PROPERTY STOLEN FROM …” and include your driver’s license number. Marked property is difficult to fence and easier to recover.

10. Gone in 60 seconds.

Research by The National Crime Prevention Institute shows that burglars generally will work no longer than 60 seconds to obtain entry.

Weiser exterior locks offer a number of features tested and proven to resist kick-ins, saw attacks, picking attempts, wrench-offs and prying.

* FBI Statistics: Uniform Crime Reporting Program ADDITIONAL SOURCES: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Statistics: National Crime Victimization Study; Alaska State Troopers; Bellevue, WA Police Dept; Newport Beach, CA Police Dept; Simon Hakim, Temple University; National Crime Prevention Institute.

Put your best face forward when selling your home

We all know that selling a home is difficult in a competitive market.  How do you make yours stand out in the crowd?  Well consider it like a job interview.  First impressions are important, and these days many buyers get their first impression from the listing photos on your Realtor’s  website.  Most importantly, make sure the front exterior photo is captivating.  You may learn a thing or two about how a buyer may view your home by taking a few pictures.  Here are some simple points to consider:

  • Make sure the yard is tidy and free of landscaping structures (hide the Gnomes)
  • Wash the siding, driveway and windows
  • If the driveway has stains, try to remove them
  • Ensure that the lawn is green and trimmed (a good idea for the duration of the listing)
  • All exterior bulbs work ( sometimes photos at dusk can be dramatic)
  • Pull back drapes or window coverings that can be viewed in the photo
  • Move any furniture inside the home that can be seen through the windows that looks out-of-place

Often we notice little things on our show homes that need changing that can make a big difference.  For instance, perhaps an accent that was chosen does not look quite right.  in the pictures below, see if you can identify what we did to improve the appearance of our show home. (hint: there are 5 differences)

NEW photo

OLD photo