Asbestos and Your Home

As a homeowner, is asbestos something you should worry about? It first became popular as insulation in the early 1940s and was used in residential properties through the mid-1970s. Builders loved it because of its fibrous strength and resistance to heat. In homes

built before 1975, asbestos was commonly used in thermal insulation and around basement boilers and pipes. It can also be found in other home materials such as:

  • Vinyl floor tiles and the backing on vinyl sheet flooring
  • Roofing and siding shingles
  • Textured paint and patching compounds
  • Walls and floors around wood-burning stoves

For you as a homeowner, asbestos is dangerous when the fibers are released into the air. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, exposure to asbestos fibers can increase your risk of developing lung disease. This risk can actually increase if you’re a smoker.

Asbestos fibers are typically disrupted and released into the air when, for example, you decide to take on a large home construction project such as renovating or remodeling. However, normal wear or damage, such as tears or water damage, may also cause asbestos fibers to be released.

If you have concerns or suspect the presence of asbestos, it’s always best to call a trained, accredited asbestos professional to assess the situation and correct it if needed. Better safe than sorry!

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Five Areas of Your Home that May Need Cleaning

Floors, furniture, bathrooms, and countertops are all standard areas of your home that grab your attention every week as part of your basic cleaning routine. Whether you have a cleaning company or do it yourself, there are probably some other areas of your home that are often forgotten. What am I talking about? Well, when was the last time you cleaned these five areas?

1. Washing machine: Typically, you can clean your washing machine in one cycle by pouring a mixture of white vinegar and baking soda into your washer, and running it on the hottest cycle.

2. Under appliances: Cleaning is a must behind appliances like your refrigerator or under the stove. These small spaces can collect loads of dust, dirt, grime, and even food.

3. Trash cans: Thoroughly scrub your kitchen or bathroom trash can, rinse it out, and spray with disinfectant.

4. Mattresses: A vacuum can easily get rid of dirt, dead skin cells, crumbs, and other things that accumulate unseen on the mattress surface.

5. Dishwasher: Even this appliance requires cleaning. Dishwashers get clogged with food debris, soap scum, and hard water deposits. Start by cleaning out the filter of the dishwasher; then toss a cup of white vinegar into the bottom when it’s empty and run the normal cycle.

Though these areas typically don’t need attention every week, you should add them to your cleaning routine if they’re not on the list already.

Spotlight: Windows

As a homeowner, you can’t get away from maintenance projects and, just like other parts of a house, your windows are no exception. Without yearly attention and maintenance, window problems can easily occur.

Windows, screens, and sills need cleaning at least yearly. However, proper maintenance goes beyond this step. First examine your windows from the exterior. Is the trim intact? Is the caulking peeling or missing? Then move into the house. Do the windows function properly? Are there rips in your screens? Are the panes and glass intact? If you answer “no” to any of these questions, you need to do something. It may be as simple as adding caulking, or it may call for the attention of a professional.

You should also check your windows for water damage, especially after heavy

precipitation. The damage you can see is only one side of the story―damage inside the walls is the other side of the story and requires evaluation by a professional. Remember, moisture is one of the key ingredients for the formation of mold and mildew.

Properly functioning windows maintain the energy efficiency of your home and keep heating and cooling costs low. They also keep allergens and critters out!

If you’re interested in learning more about windows, check out our video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v69tMKQYyuY&feature=youtu.be

Saving energy and money this winter

Increasing energy efficiency is absolutely good for the environment but it also can be good for your wallet! Here are several tips for reducing energy consumption while maintaining comfortable temperatures in your home this winter. The end result also can lead to extra money in your pockets!

· Open the curtains of your south-facing windows to let the sunlight heat your home naturally.

· Turn your thermostat down 10 degrees before you go to bed.

· Seal air leaks around pipes.

· Keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is burning.

· Caulk around windows.

· Change your furnace filters regularly.

· Run your ceiling fan in reverse to bring the heat back down to floor level.

· Add insulation to your attic.

· Move furniture so it doesn’t block your vents.

· Wear extra layers of clothing.

Fire prevention tips

According to the National Fire Protection Association, from 2012 to the present, approximately 360,000 fires occurred each year. Here are some basic tips to help you keep your family and home safe from fire.

· Check the electrical cords throughout your home for signs of fraying.

· Never leave pots or pans unattended on your stove.

· Clean out the dryer vent regularly.

· Clean out the lint filter after each load you put in the dryer.

· Don’t place a space heater near furniture, curtains, or other objects that could easily catch fire.

· Have your chimney inspected annually.

· Store containers of cooking oil away from the stove.

· Place matches and lighters out of reach of children.

· Always blow out candles when leaving home.

The following items should be installed in all homes:

· Carbon monoxide detectors—carbon monoxide is odorless, colorless, and very combustible

· Fire extinguishers

· Smoke alarms/detectors

Taking these precautions will keep you and your family safe!

Why Donofrio & Associates

From the minute you decide to buy a home and all through the various trials of homeownership, no matter what they are, Donofrio & Associates has you covered! We’re a family-owned, full-service home inspection company based in Ashburn, Virginia. Serving our clients since 2001, we specialize in residential and commercial inspections. We also offer:

· In-depth expertise in new construction inspections

· Radon testing

· Air quality mold screenings

· Lead-based paint testing

· And much more!

Beginning the moment you make an appointment, our team of transaction coordinators stands ready to assist you. To make things easier, we provide online scheduling options so you can quickly and easily lock in the exact times and days you need us. Our licensed and knowledgeable inspectors come prepared with the latest technology and generate reports with photos immediately after the inspection―and they’re available seven days a week. Another unique advantage that sets us apart is our in-house structural engineer. This service comes into play when we identify a structural issue during the home inspection. Without any additional charge, our structural engineer goes in and assesses your situation as soon as possible.

We also offer many complementary warranty programs to our clients.  These extended warranties provide you with peace of mind after our home inspection.

Beyond the home inspection process, we offer several continuing education classes for agents and firms across the region. We also produce agent and client quarterly newsletters as well as weekly blog posts packed with useful tips and information.

Donofrio & Associates may be just the home inspection company you need! Find out more―visit our website at donofrioinspections.com or call us at 703.771.8374.

Wood-burning fireplaces

Wood-burning fireplaces can save you money by supplementing your main heating source. Also, that warm, cozy glow can’t be beat on a cold wintry night! Before you light it up, though, make sure it’s operating safely.

It’s a good idea to make sure smoke can travel through your chimney efficiently. Check connections to your chimney system to make sure the joints are still sealed tightly and venting systems aren’t clogged. One key to making sure your wood-burning fireplace is operating at peak efficiency is to make an effort to dispose of the ashes consistently. To make this easier, keep an ash bucket next to your fireplace. For optimal burning, use dried or “seasoned” firewood. Seasoned wood has a moisture content of less than 20 percent. Firewood that isn’t seasoned properly:

· Can be hard to light and just as hard to keep burning

· Can cause tars and creosote to line the inside areas of your fireplace and blacken the glass windows

· Can produce a lot of blue-gray smoke

Seasoned wood has another important benefit—when wood is properly cut, dried, and stacked, mold has less opportunity to grow on it.

Having a professional clean your chimney and conduct maintenance on an annual basis will give you peace of mind and keep you safe.

Six questions to ask when looking for the right home inspector

Unless you’re buying or selling a home, you probably don’t know of a home inspector or inspection company, but things will quickly change once you find a house you want to purchase! Your real estate agent will likely be the person who first mentions a name or company to you. Though references are helpful and a great place to start, you should be diligent, ask questions, and be comfortable with the company you hire. You can easily narrow your search by asking some key questions. Here are the top six questions worth asking:

1. Are you licensed?

2. What is involved in a home inspection?

3. How long has your company been in business?

4. Do you include a written report?

5. What equipment will you use during the inspection?

6. What sets you apart from other home inspectors?

Two organizations that provide certifications are the National Association of Home Inspectors and the American Society of Home Inspectors; visit their websites for inspectors in your area. Though the price of the inspection is important, it shouldn’t be the determining factor. Looking at the big picture, the cost of a home inspection is low relative to the price of the home you’re having inspected. Remember, you often get what you pay for!

Six signs your furnace is on the fritz

For many of us, the winter season is a time for snow, sledding, hot cocoa, holiday celebrations, and warm fires, but colder temperatures also bring about the frequent use of your furnace. On average, the lifespan of a furnace is approximately 15 years. Unfortunately, it could be less if you don’t conduct maintenance regularly. How do you know if your furnace is on the fritz? Here are the top six signs you should look for:

1. Strange noises when the system is running

2. Burner flame is not blue, but yellow; a yellow flame could indicate carbon monoxide

3. Uneven temperatures in rooms due to air not being distributed properly

4. Higher than normal energy bills

5. Frequent repairs

6. Cold air blowing when the furnace is on

The most obvious reason you should not delay scheduling repairs? Your monthly bills will grow higher than normal. Also, remember that the longer your furnace runs while having issues, the faster it will age and need to be replaced. Finally, an inefficient furnace has the potential to become dangerous due to carbon monoxide leaks, as noted above.

An easy way to bypass these problems is to have your furnace checked by an expert each spring and fall. Yearly service checks will keep your furnace running smoothly for years to come!

Winter home maintenance projects

Seasonal projects around your home should continue into the winter months. Though it’s important to clean your fireplace and maintain your heating system, your focus during the winter months should be on the exterior of your home. Before winter weather sets in, think about the following projects:

· Remove debris from gutters—water can back up, causing leaks, ice dams, or damage to your roof and siding.

· Store your hoses and turn off the outside water.

· Apply caulking and weather stripping around doors and windows.

· Drain your sprinkler system.

· Seal cracks and leaks in the foundations and walls.

· Clean, cover, and store outdoor furniture.

· Inspect and upgrade attic insulation.

· Buy a roof rake.

· Protect your entryway floor.

Once winter weather begins:

· Carefully remove snow and ice from your roof and gutters.

· Remove snow as quickly as possible after storms from your deck, driveway, and sidewalks.

Finally, it’s always smart to stock up on water, batteries, flashlights, and other supplies ahead of time.

Tackling these projects will keep those winter blues away!