Tip of the Week: Fire Extinguishers

With Fireplaces warming and Christmas lights burning, now is a great time to inspect your fire extinguisher(s). This inspection doesn’t require much: simply ensure that the extinguisher is within easy reach (not being blocked by any object), check and make sure the gauge shows adequate pressure and that it has no visible signs of wear and tear. A very important check is making sure you have the Correct Fire Extinguisher for the potential fire you may encounter. For example, a kitchen fire extinguisher should be a Type B because it is designed to put out liquid type fires. Below is a guide for what type of Fire Extinguisher you should use on different types of fires.

Fire extinguishers with a Class A rating are effective against fires involving paper, wood, textiles, and plastics. The primary chemical used to fight these fires is monoammonium phosphate, because of its ability to smother fires in these types of materials.

Fire extinguishers with a Class B rating are effective against flammable liquid fires. These can be fires where cooking liquids, oil, gasoline, kerosene, or paint have become ignited. Two commonly used chemicals are effective in fighting these types of fires. Monoammonium phosphate effectively smothers the fire, while sodium bicarbonate induces a chemical reaction which extinguishes the fire.

Fire extinguishers with a Class C rating are suitable for fires in “live” electrical equipment. Both monoammonium phosphate and sodium bicarbonate are commonly used to fight this type of fire because of their nonconductive properties.

Tip of the Week: Monthly Home Maintenance

Inspect, and possibly change your HVAC filters. Experts recommend changing your filters monthly, but that’s not always necessary. For smaller families without pets or allergies, you may be okay changing the filters every 2 to 3 months. A good rule of thumb is if the filter is dirty, change it, otherwise leave it and inspect it again next month.

Clean the kitchen sink disposal. There are a several ways to do this, but the handiest and best all-around solution seems to be vinegar ice cubes. Put some vinegar in an ice cube tray and let it freeze. Then, run the ice cubes through the disposal. It freshens the disposal, but as a bonus, ice will also sharpen the blades.

Clean your range hood filters. If you’ve never thought of doing this, you’re in for a real “treat” when you get that filter off the hood to clean it for the first time. One suggestion for cleaning your filters is to simply use a degreaser from an auto parts store mixed with hot water. Apply the diluted degreaser to the filter and let sit for a few minutes, and then rinse and let dry.

Tip of the Week: Tree Pruning

Now is a good time to take a quick stroll around your home and prune those long tree branches that are protruding over your roof and or close to your home. These branches can break from the weight of heavy snow and ice buildup, which could potentially cause significant damage to your home. Just a few hours of preventative maintenance with a pruner now could save you thousands of dollars in damages later this winter.

Tip of the Week: Inspecting Your Fireplace

With cooler nights most people want to cozy up in front of a fireplace to stay warm. However, before you light your fireplace for the first time you should take a few moments to check your fireplace for any potential safety hazards. This inspection can be done by the homeowner. All you need is a flashlight. First, check the firebox (this is where the logs are burned) for cracked or missing bricks and/or mortar. Secondly, shine the flashlight upwards from within the firebox and check the damper. Go ahead and open and close the damper a few times to ensure proper function. Thirdly, with the damper open, look up into the flue to make sure it is free of any bird’s nest, small twigs, leaves or any other obstacles including checking for excessive creosote buildup. The flue should be clean and you should be able to see daylight at the top of the chimney. During your inspection, if you identify any issues or have any concerns contact a professional fireplace service provider so they can evaluate and repair as needed.

Tip of the Week: Inspecting Your Gutters

Gutters that are clear of debris helps efficiently channel water away from your roof and home. However, If your gutters become clogged, especially in colder months, they're more likely to freeze, causing additional blockages. Obstructed gutters can allow melting ice and snow to seep back into your roof, or flood your home's foundation, causing damage. It is recommended to take some time before Winter and clear out your gutters or work with a trusted professional to have your gutters cleaned. Also, check your downspout leaders and make sure they extend at least 5 feet away from your home to prevent ponding around your foundation.