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Carbon Monoxide – Choosing Protection

How to Choose a Carbon Monoxide Alarm

Because a safe home is the only option, we offer plenty of choices.

Now that you know a little more about the dangers of carbon monoxide, the next logical question is “what can I do to protect my home?”  Of course, before you go choosing your alarms, it helps to familiarize yourself with technology, features and other factors.

Things to look for in an alarm

We recommend choosing CO alarms that have the most accurate sensing technology available. CO alarms are designed to alert you when carbon monoxide levels have begun to accumulate over a period of time, and will sound before most people would experience any CO poisoning symptoms. The more accurate the alarm, the greater chance you and your family have of responding appropriately to the problem.

Below are key factors to look for when purchasing a CO alarm:
Electrochemical sensor: Alarms with electrochemical sensors are more stable during humidity and temperature changes and resist reacting to common household chemicals that may cause false readings. Kidde’s CO alarms include Nighthawk technology, which has been proven to be the world’s most accurate CO sensing technology based on claims by major manufacturers.
End-of-life warning: This feature alerts consumers when it’s time to replace the alarm. Kidde is the only major manufacturer who tests its CO alarms for long-term reliability, and whose alarms have a built-in end-of-life feature.
UL or CSA Listed: CO alarms should meet the strict third-party standards set by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or Canadian Standards Association (CSA). A UL Listed or CSA Listed label should be printed on the product’s packaging. Kidde is the only major manufacturer whose CO alarms currently meet the strict standards set forth by both UL and CSA.

 

Also, be sure to consider these major features:

Accuracy: Look for a statement on the package about the alarm’s accuracy level. If the CO alarm is UL Listed, then the accuracy statement will have been certified by UL, too.
Battery-Operated: Consumers who live in areas prone to power outages or who own a gas-powered generator should consider a battery-powered CO alarm with a backlit digital display. Battery-powered units offer 24-hour-a-day CO monitoring when power is interrupted. The backlit digital display allows the user to view the CO level in the dark. The alarm can also be placed on a shelf or wall or moved from room to room.
Digital Display: A digital display screen clearly shows the level of CO detected in the home, and updates the reading every 15 seconds.
Peak-Level Memory: This feature records the highest level of CO present. Knowing the CO level in the home can help emergency personnel determine treatment.
Plug-in with Battery Backup: Easy to plug into any electrical socket, these alarms include a 9V battery for protection during short-term power outages.
Voice Warning: This feature clearly announces the threat present in the home, in addition to emitting the traditional alarm beep. It is often a feature of combination smoke/CO alarms.

Placement and Maintenance

So you’ve selected the right solutions for your home. Now comes the important part: knowing where to place them and how to properly maintain them.

Install at least one CO alarm on every floor and in sleeping areas.
Make sure CO alarms are at least 15 feet away from cooking or heating appliances to prevent false alarms.
Don’t cover or obstruct the unit. Test the CO alarm monthly.
Replace CO alarms every 7 to 10 years (depending on your model) to benefit from the latest technology upgrades.

 

Adapted from Kidde.com Visit www.Kidde.com for more great tips and a full line of fire protection products.

Side Note: Radon Gas & Waterproofing

Radon Gas is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that comes from radium deposits in the earth’s crust.  If present in the soil under your home, it can get sucked into your house via the basement or crawl space.

DON’T PANIC!  It’s fairly common and easy to get rid of.

Some people that know “a little”, think that basement waterproofing systems and radon mitigation systems are incompatible.  While it is true that gaps, cracks and hols in the basement floor and walls need to be sealed as part of the strategy to get rid of Radon, this can be done without compromising the waterproofing system.

 

Excerpts from Dry Basement Science – What to Have Done and Why by Lawrence Janesky

Energy Savings

The Your Energy Savings program offers four ways for you to learn about the energy management opportunities in your home. Each energy audit will help you identify easy to install measures to help reduce your energy use and control your energy costs.

Depending on which audit option you choose, you can qualify for a rebate of up to $150, plus take advantage of additional incentives on individual improvements that can total up to $1,350.

Call HIP today to schedule your Energy Audit to find ways to put money back in your pocket instead of paying high energy costs.  Interested in finding out how these programs can help you?  Visit the links below for more details.

 DTE Logo    yesLogo4    MSHDA

Could There be Radon in MY HOME?

The truth is, any home could have a radon problem, whether it’s in an area with a high radon potential or an area with a low radon potential, or whether it’s old or new, energy-efficient or drafty, built on a slab or built over a basement or crawlspace.  Because it’s a tasteless, odorless, colorless gas, there are no physical signs that will alert you to the presence of radon in a home.  (It doesn’t smell bad, there is no discoloration of the foundation, there are no visible traces of the gas, etc.)  And, there are no warning symptoms to let you know you’re being exposed.  (It doesn’t cause headaches, nausea, fatigue, skin rashes, etc.)  The only way to know whether your home has a problem–or whether you are at risk–is to test! 

EPA worked with the U.S. Geological Survey and the state radon programs to develop a “map of zones” to help identify areas of the U.S. with the potential for elevated indoor radon levels.  Counties were ranked into one of three categories (Zone 1, Zone 2, or Zone 3, with “1” being higher potential and “3” being lower potential) based on indoor radon measurements (i.e., data from the 1987-88 residential radon survey), geology, aerial radioactivity, soil permeability, and foundation type.  Click here to see the EPA Map of Radon Zones – Michigan or click here to see the U.S. Map of Radon Zones.

This Map of Zones was developed to assist national, state, and local organizations in targeting their resources for outreach and education, as well as to assist building code officials in deciding whether radon-resistant features should be incorporated into new construction.  These maps are NOT intended to be used to determine if a home in a given zone should be tested for radon.  Homes with elevated levels of radon have been found in all three zones.  All homes should be tested regardless of geographic location.

While your neighbor’s test results may provide some indication of the potential for a problem in your home, radon levels can vary significantly from lot to lot and home to home.  Don’t rely on your neighbor’s test results to determine your risk.  Test your own home and be certain!

 

10 Tips to Speed Up Your Inspection

Ten Tips to Speed Up Your Home Inspection

Speed up your home sale by preparing your home ahead of time using the following tips. Your home inspection will go smoother, with fewer concerns to delay closing.

  1. Confirm that that the water, electrical and gas services are turned on (including pilot lights).
  2. Make sure your pets won’t hinder your home inspection. Ideally, they should be removed from the premises or secured outside. Tell your agent about any pets at home.
  3. Replace burned-out light bulbs to avoid a “light is inoperable” report that may suggest an electrical problem.
  4. Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and replace dead batteries.
  5. Clean or replace dirty HVAC air filters. They should fit securely.
  6. Remove stored items, debris and wood from the foundation. These may be cited as “conducive conditions” for termites.
  7. Remove items blocking access to HVAC equipment, electrical service panels, the water heater, attic and crawlspace.
  8. Unlock any locked areas that your home inspector must access, such as the attic door or hatch, the electrical service panel, the door to the basement, and any exterior gates.
  9. Trim tree limbs so that they’re at least 10 feet away from the roof.  Trim any shrubs that are too close to the house and can hides pests or hold moisture against the exterior.
  10. Repair or replace any broken or missing items, such as doorknobs, locks or latches, windowpanes or screens, gutters or downspouts, or chimney caps.

Checking these areas before your home inspection is a simple investment in selling your property.


From Ten Tips to Speed Up Your Home Inspection – InterNACHI

Radon Risks

The Risk of Living With Radon

Scientists are more certain about radon risks than from most other cancer-causing substances.

Radon gas decays into radioactive particles that can get trapped in your lungs when you breathe. As they break down further, these particles release small bursts of energy. This can damage lung tissue and lead to lung cancer over the course of your lifetime. Not everyone exposed to elevated levels of radon will develop lung cancer. And the amount of time between exposure and the onset of the disease may be many years.

Like other environmental pollutants, there is some uncertainty about the magnitude of radon health risks. However, we know more about radon risks than risks from most other cancer-causing substances. This is because estimates of radon risks are based on studies of cancer in humans.

Smoking combined with radon is an especially serious health risk. Stop smoking and lower your radon level to reduce your lung cancer risk.

Children have been reported to have greater risk than adults of certain types of cancer from radiation, but there are currently no conclusive data on whether children are at greater risk than adults from radon.

Your chances of getting lung cancer from radon depend mostly on:

  • How much radon is in your home
  • The amount of time you spend in your home
  • Whether you are a smoker or have ever smoked

Radon Risk If You Smoke

Radon Level

If 1,000 people who smoked were exposed to this level over a lifetime*…

The risk of cancer from radon exposure compares to**…

WHAT TO DO: Stop smoking and…

20 pCi/L

About 260 people could get lung cancer 250 times the risk of drowning Fix your home

10 pCi/L

About 150 people could get lung cancer

200 times the risk of dying in a home fire

Fix your home

8 pCi/L

About 120 people could get lung cancer

30 times the risk of dying in a fall

Fix your home

4 pCi/L

About 62 people could get lung cancer

5 times the risk of dying in a car crash

Fix your home

2 pCi/L About 32 people could get lung cancer 6 times the risk of dying from poison

Consider fixing between

 2 pCi/L and 4 pCi/L

1.3 pCi/L

About 20 people could get lung cancer

(Average indoor radon level) (Reducing radon levels below 2 pCi/L is difficult.)
0.4 pCi/L

About 3 people could get lung cancer

(Average outdoor radon level)

Note:   If you are a former smoker, your risk may be lower. * Lifetime risk of lung cancer deaths from EPA Assessment of Risks from Radon in Homes (EPA 402-R-03-003). ** Comparison data calculated using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 1999-2001 National Center for Injury Prevention and Control Reports.

Radon Risk If You’ve Never Smoked

Radon Level

If 1,000 people who NEVER smoked were exposed to this level over a lifetime*…

The risk of cancer from radon exposure compares to**…

WHAT TO DO:

20 pCi/L

About 36 people could get lung cancer

35 times the risk of drowning

Fix your home

10 pCi/L

About 18 people could get lung cancer

20 times the risk of dying in a home fire

Fix your home

8 pCi/L

About 15 people could get lung cancer

4 times the risk of dying in a fall

Fix your home

4 pCi/L

About 7 people could get lung cancer

5 times the risk of dying in a car crash

Fix your home

2 pCi/L

About 4 people could get lung cancer

6 times the risk of dying from poison

Consider fixing between 2 and 4 pCi/L

1.3 pCi/L

About 2 people could get lung cancer

(Average indoor radon level)

(Reducing radon levels below 2 pCi/L is difficult.)

0.4 pCi/L

(Average outdoor radon level)

Note:   If you are a former smoker, your risk may be higher. * Lifetime risk of lung   cancer deaths from EPA Assessment of Risks from Radon in Homes (EPA   402-R-03-003). ** Comparison data calculated using the Centers for Disease   Control and Prevention’s 1999-2001 National Center for Injury Prevention and   Control Reports.

 

It’s never too late to reduce your risk of lung cancer.

Don’t wait to test and fix a radon problem.

If you are a smoker, stop smoking.

Radon – Myths and Facts

Radon Myths

MYTH: Scientists aren’t sure radon really is a problem.

FACT: Although some scientists dispute the precise number of deaths due to radon, all the major health organizations (like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Lung Association and the American Medical Association) agree with estimates that radon causes thousands of preventable lung cancer deaths every year. This is especially true among smokers, since the risk to smokers is much greater than to non-smokers.

MYTH: Radon testing is difficult, time consuming and expensive.

FACT: Radon testing is easy. You can test your home yourself or hire a qualified radon test company. Either approach takes only a small amount of time and effort.  Home Inspection Professionals provides Radon testing services and complete reporting and only takes a few minutes to set the testing system which is retreived by one of our professionals in approximately 48 hours.  Results are provided within 24 hours of test completion.

MYTH: Homes with radon problems can’t be fixed.

FACT: There are simple solutions to radon problems in homes. Hundreds of thousands of homeowners have already fixed radon problems in their homes. Most homes can be fixed for about the same cost as other common home repairs; check with one or more qualified mitigators.

MYTH: Radon affects only certain kinds of homes.

FACT: House construction can affect radon levels. However, radon can be a problem in homes of all types: old homes, new homes, drafty homes, insulated homes, homes with basements, homes without basements. Local geology, construction materials, and how the home was built are among the factors that can affect radon levels in homes.

MYTH: Radon is only a problem in certain parts of the country.

FACT: High radon levels have been found in every state. Radon problems do vary from area to area, but the only way to know your radon level is to test.

MYTH: A neighbor’s test result is a good indication of whether your home has a problem.

FACT: It’s not. Radon levels can vary greatly from home to home. The only way to know if your home has a radon problem is to test it.

MYTH: Everyone should test their water for radon.

FACT: Although radon gets into some homes through water, it is important to first test the air in the home for radon. If your water comes from a public water supply that uses ground water, call your water supplier. If high radon levels are found and the home has a private well, Home Inspection Professionals can also provide testing for your water supply.

MYTH: It’s difficult to sell homes where radon problems have been discovered.

FACT: Where radon problems have been fixed, home sales have not been blocked or frustrated. The added protection is some times a good selling point.

MYTH: I’ve lived in my home for so long, it doesn’t make sense to take action now.

FACT: You will reduce your risk of lung cancer when you reduce radon levels, even if you’ve lived with a radon problem for a long time.

MYTH: Short-term tests can’t be used for making a decision about whether to fix your home.

FACT: A short-term test, followed by a second short-term test can be used to decide whether to fix your home. However, the closer the average of your two short-term tests is to 4 pCi/L, the less certain you can be about whether your year-round average is above or below that level. Keep in mind that radon levels below 4 pCi/L still pose some risk. Radon levels can be reduced in most homes to 2 pCi/L or below.

* If the radon test is part of a real estate transaction, the result of two short-term tests can be used in deciding whether to mitigate. For more information, see EPA’s “Home Buyer’s and Seller’s Guide to Radon“.

Need more information or assistance?  Visit http://www.epa.gov/radon/states/michigan.html for more resources and contacts.

Radon Facts

Radon is a cancer-causing, radioactive gas.

You can’t see radon. And you can’t smell it or taste it. But it may be a problem in your home.

Radon is estimated to cause many thousands of deaths each year. That’s because when you breathe air containing radon, you can get lung cancer. In fact, the Surgeon General has warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States today. Only smoking causes more lung cancer deaths. If you smoke and your home has high radon levels, your risk of lung cancer is especially high.

Radon can be found all over the U.S.

Radon comes from the natural (radioactive) breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water and gets into the air you breathe. Radon can be found all over the U.S. It can get into any type of building — homes, offices, and schools — and result in a high indoor radon level. But you and your family are most likely to get your greatest exposure at home, where you spend most of your time.

You should test for radon.

Testing is the only way to know if you and your family are at risk from radon. EPA and the Surgeon General recommend testing all homes below the third floor for radon. EPA also recommends testing in schools.

Testing is inexpensive and easy — it should only take a few minutes of your time. Millions of Americans have already tested their homes for radon (see Radon Testing).

You can fix a radon problem.

Radon reduction systems work and they are not too costly. Some radon reduction systems can reduce radon levels in your home by up to 99%. Even very high levels can be reduced to acceptable levels.

New homes can be built with radon-resistant features.

Radon-resistant construction techniques can be effective in preventing radon entry. When installed properly and completely, these simple and inexpensive techniques can help reduce indoor radon levels in homes. In addition, installing them at the time of construction makes it easier and less expensive to reduce radon levels further if these passive techniques don’t reduce radon levels to below 4 pCi/L. Every new home should be tested after occupancy, even if it was built radon-resistant. If radon levels are still in excess of 4 pCi/L, the passive system should be activated by having a qualified mitigator install a vent fan. For more explanation of radon resistant construction techniques, refer to EPA publication, Building Radon Out: A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Build Radon-Resistant Homes (PDF) (84 pp., 5.5 M).

Radon – The Uninvited Ghost Lurking in Your Home

What is Radon?  Radon comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water.  The release of this radioactive gas enters the air you breathe, causing a potential health risk to you and your family.  Radon gas can be found in just about anywhere. It can get into any type of building – homes, offices, and schools – and build up to high levels.

What should I know about Radon?  It is a cancer causing radioactive gas. You cannot see radon and you cannot smell it or taste it, but it may be a problem in your home. This is because when you breathe air-containing radon, you increase your risk of getting lung cancer. In fact, the Surgeon General has warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer.

Should I test for Radon?  Yes; testing is the only way to find out about your home’s radon level. The EPA and the Surgeon General recommend testing of all homes below the third floor for radon.

Can I fix a Radon problem?  Yes; if you find that you have high radon levels, there are ways to fix a radon problem. Even very high levels can be reduced to acceptable levels.

Should I be concerned with Radon when I’m in the process of buying a home?  Yes; the EPA recommends that you obtain the radon level in the home you are considering buying. An EPA publication “The Home Buyer’s and Seller’s Guide” is available through most State Health Departments or Regional EPA offices listed in your local phone book. EPA also recommends that you use a certified or state licensed radon tester to perform the test. If elevated levels are found it is recommended that these levels be reduced. In most cases, a professional can accomplish this at reasonable cost or homeowner installed mitigation system that adheres to the EPA’s approved methods for reduction of radon in a residential structure.

What are the Risk Factors associated with Radon?  The EPA, Surgeon General and The Center for Disease Control, have all agreed that continued exposure to Radon gas can cause lung cancer.  In fact, their position on the matter is that all homes should be tested for radon gas exposure, and all homes testing over 4 pCi/L should be fixed.

How Does Radon Enter the Home?  Typically the air pressure inside your home is lower than the pressure in the soil around your home’s foundation.  Due to this difference, your house acts like a vacuum, drawing radon gas in through foundation cracks and other openings of your home.  Radon may also be present in well water and can be released into the air in your home when water is used for showering and other household uses.

Potential Radon Home Entry Points:

  • Cavities inside walls
  • Cracks in solid floors
  • Construction joints
  • Cracks in walls
  • Water supply
  • Gaps in suspended floors
  • Gaps around service pipes

If, at any time, you are concerned about your home and would like a Radon Inspection done by Home Inspection Professionals, please contact us anytime at 1-800-HIP-3200 or click here to Request an Inspection via the web.