Chimney Cap

A cracked cap allows water to penetrate the chimney causing premature deterioration and in northern climates, freeze/thaw damage.

Chimney Cap

The purpose of a chimney cap is to prevent water from penetrating the top of a masonry chimney. The chimney cap should not be confused with the rain caps which sometimes cover the tops of chimney flues to prevent rain water from running down the inside of the chimney. A chimney cap is usually constructed of concrete; however, some are stone or metal. A good quality cap normally overhangs the sides of the chimney at least one inch to provide some protection for the chimney from water dripping off the cap.

In many cases, a proper cap is not provided. Bricklayers often put a thin coat of mortar over the top of the chimney (exclusive of the flues, of course). With time, this thin layer of mortar cracks and eventually becomes loose. Examine your chimney cap using binoculars. If you see cracks or deterioration have it evaluated and/or repaired.

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Carbon Monoxide

Is Your Garage Making You Sick?

3e8c445f-8d0f-4e18-a089-099cbdb9e40d_300In response to the frigid temperatures, many of us warm up our vehicles before leaving the garage. But for homes with attached garages, this practice can result in our garages making us sick. Even at low concentrations, carbon monoxide (CO) can cause headaches, nausea, dizziness and fatigue. At higher levels, CO can be lethal. When you start your car in the garage even with the garage door open, CO can move from the garage into the living space of your house.
Additionally, your vehicle emits a multitude of contaminants for several hours after it has been driven for a time and then turned off. This is especially important when driving a warmed vehicle into the garage, turning it off, and closing the garage door.
Be aware that while we’re talking about the impact of cars/trucks on indoor air quality, there are additional contaminants like stored gasoline and equipment that uses gasoline like snow blowers, lawn mowers as well as paints and pesticides that can cause problems.

How Do These Pollutants Get into the House?

Contaminants enter the house through cracks and holes in the common wall between the garage and living space; through such things as inadequate weather-stripping around doors. But to enter the house there must be a pressure differential between the house and garage. Especially in colder weather, the house pressure is lower in the house than the garage. Thus, air and contaminants move from an area of high pressure, the garage, into an area of low pressure, the house.

The Solution
The most important solution is to limit operation of vehicles in the garage as much as possible. Pull the vehicle out of the garage when warming it up. Additionally:
• Limit air infiltration by having adequate air-seals between the common walls and ceilings.
• Install proper weather-stripping on all entrances.
• Store all gasoline and chemicals in approved containers.
• Install mechanical equipment that limit negative pressure in the house (e.g. sealed combustion furnace & water heaters, replace exhaust fans with air-to-air heat exchangers).


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Fire Safety

fireWorking Together for Home Fire Safety

More than 3,400 Americans die each year in fires and approximately 17,500 are injured. An overwhelming number of fires occur in the home. There are time-tested ways to prevent and survive a fire. It’s not a question of luck. It’s a matter of planning ahead.

Every Home Should Have at Least One Working Smoke Alarm

Buy a smoke alarm at any hardware or discount store. It’s inexpensive protection for you and your family. Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home. A working smoke alarm can double your chances of survival. Test it monthly, keep it free of dust and replace the battery at least once a year. Smoke alarms themselves should be replaced after ten years of service, or as recommended by the manufacturer.

Prevent Electrical Fires

Never overload circuits or extension cords. Do not place cords and wires under rugs, over nails or in high traffic areas. Immediately shut off and unplug appliances that sputter, spark or emit an unusual smell. Have them professionally repaired or replaced.

Use Appliances Wisely

When using appliances follow the manufacturer’s safety precautions. Overheating, unusual smells, shorts and sparks are all warning signs that appliances need to be shut off, then replaced or repaired. Unplug appliances when not in use. Use safety caps to cover all unused outlets, especially if there are small children in the home.

Alternate Heaters

  • Portable heaters need their space. Keep anything combustible at least three feet away.
  • Keep fire in the fireplace. Use fire screens and have your chimney cleaned annually. The creosote buildup can ignite a chimney fire that could easily spread.
  • Kerosene heaters should be used only where approved by authorities. Never use gasoline or camp-stove fuel. Refuel outside and only after the heater has cooled.

Affordable Home Fire Safety Sprinklers

When home fire sprinklers are used with working smoke alarms, your chances of surviving a fire are greatly increased. Sprinklers are affordable – they can increase property value and lower insurance rates.

Plan Your Escape

Practice an escape plan from every room in the house. Caution everyone to stay low to the floor when escaping from fire and never to open doors that are hot. Select a location where everyone can meet after escaping the house. Get out then call for help.

Caring for Children

Children under five are naturally curious about fire. Many play with matches and lighters. Take the mystery out of fire play by teaching your children that fire is a tool, not a toy.

Caring for Older People

Every year over 1,000 senior citizens die in fires. Many of these fire deaths could have been prevented. Seniors are especially vulnerable because many live alone and can’t respond quickly.

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