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When any of our clients who have just purchased a home move in, one of the first things we tell them to do is to check their smoke alarms.

 

Far too many homes have the alarms overlooked and pushed to the wayside, and according to the National Fire Protection Association, nearly two-thirds of home fire deaths are caused by broken smoke alarms or the absence of them altogether.

 

Regular maintenance of the smoke alarms in your home is vital, and is easier than most expect.

 

First, you’ll want to be sure that each level of your home and each bedroom has an alarm present. Then, walk around to each one and press the “Test” button. If you hear a beep, everything is in working order. If not, it may need a battery or entire alarm replacement altogether. You’ll want to do these tests monthly.

 

If swapping out the battery doesn’t do the trick, we have a step-by-step on how to replace the entire hard-wired alarm (even if you aren’t an electrician):

 

  1. Make sure the power in the given room is shut off. We cannot stress the importance of this enough as live wires are highly dangerous.
  2. Remove the alarm from the ceiling and have the new one at the ready. There will be a top piece and a base that can be removed with a screwdriver or drill. Many smoke alarms come with a series of wires that you can match up to the existing wiring in the ceiling and plug right in with ease.
  3. Once the wire is connected, install the new base plate piece with either a screwdriver or drill. On the back of the alarm itself, there will be a place to jot down the date so you know when it was last replaced. Then, plug the other end of the wire into your alarm and connect it to the base with a slight twist until it locks into place.

 

A few more helpful tips for the smoke alarms in your home…

 

  • Purchase ones that are backed up by battery in case of a power outage
  • Dual smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are a great two-in-one option to keep your home safe
  • Keep a chart somewhere in your home that you can write down each time your alarms are tested and whether or not you had to replace the battery or alarm itself 
  • Replace batteries twice a year just to be safe, daylight savings is a good reminder to do so
  • Involve all members of your household with proper maintenance of alarms

 

In the video below, watch Jon demonstrate the replacement of a hard-wired smoke alarm so you can implement the steps in your own home’s detectors.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uvuVD_8BHcI&t=35s

A fire extinguisher is something found in just about every home (or at least, they should be).

 

But how many of us actually know how to properly use one should the situation arise?

 

Without the knowledge of proper use, a fire extinguisher is practically useless.

 

The first thing you need to know is there are three components that make up a fire: a fuel source, oxygen, and a heat source.

 

Removing just one of these pieces will put a stop to the fire, and that is where your extinguisher comes into play.

 

When operating a traditional fire extinguisher, remember the acronym P.A.S.S.

 

PPull the pin.

AAim at the base of the fire.

S Squeeze the handle.

SSweep back and forth, until the fire is out.

 

Placement of the extinguishers in your home is vital as well. You want to make sure you keep them in the following potential hazard areas of your home for ease of access:

 

  • Kitchen – this is where the majority of home fires start. Keep an extinguisher handy, but away from any sources of heat, like under your sink.
  • Laundry room – your dryer is another big hazard.
  • Garage – Chemicals, vehicles, and other machinery are all known for starting fires.
  • Outdoors – Fire pits and grills, though outside of the home, can easily spread to structures.

 

Watch the video below for a helpful visual demonstration by Jon of a few different types of extinguishers.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3r3Vc75tD4

One of the top causes of house fires are dryer vents that are clogged from years of neglect.

 

With all of the lint and debris stuck in your clothes dryer, it creates the perfect conditions for a fire to catch and spread quickly throughout the home.

 

The easy-to-remove filter that we often scrape clean after each load of laundry is just the surface of the lint that is inside your machine and throughout the ventilation system.

 

To be safe, we have to get inside the works and make sure we get it all out. 

 

Cleaning your dryer vent at least once a year can put your mind at ease that there is one less potential fire hazard lingering in the hidden parts of your home.

 

But how does one go about getting inside the dryer and clearing it’s vents?

 

Jon has created a video that you can watch below that goes over all of the necessary tools and a complete demonstration on cleaning out your dryer vent.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BtngOUo1PAg

 

Some ventilation systems, however, are not as easy to access as the one in the video above. In these cases, you will want to hire a professional duct cleaner to handle the job. A small expense to pay for the assured safety of your home and family.