Return to the Blog Home Page

Preparing Your Home For an Extended Vacation – Don’t Forget These Tips!

Thursday, February 28th, 2019

The best reason for preparing your home before a long vacation is so you won’t spend valuable vacation time worrying about what’s happening back home. A vacation should be a relaxing escape from the routine concerns of daily life. Don’t ruin the occasion by fretting over events that might be occurring in your absence because you didn’t make proper preparations before you left. Many possible scenarios can be entirely prevented—or at least made very unlikely—by taking these simple steps before you leave.

  • Turn off the main water valve. A ruptured pipe is a bad event anytime. If it happens while you’re away for an extended period, it means catastrophic water damage. Check the location of your main water shutoff valve now and test it to verify that it turns freely. If it’s stubborn, don’t force it: call a plumber.
  • Program your thermostat. Most digital thermostats have a “Vacation” option that maintains the house at a consistent temperature, 24/7. In most cases, 55 to 60 degrees is recommended for an unoccupied house to avoid damage and reduce heating costs.
  • Set the water heater. Most gas-fired water heaters today also have a “Vacation” setting that keeps the water at a reduced temperature—usually around 50 degrees.
  • Put lights on a timer. Maintain a lived-in look to discourage potential trespassers. Set lights in different parts of the house on a timer and use the “Random” setting so lights aren’t turning on and off at the same time every day.
  • Maintain the lawn. If you’ll be gone long enough that grass grows noticeably in your absence, have the lawn cut while you’re away. Overgrown lawns announce that the house is vacant and attract burglars.
  • Leave contact info and a spare key. Give a trusted neighbor or nearby relative information about where you can be reached in case of an emergency. Also, consider leaving a key in the event access is required to the house for any reason.
  • Clean out the refrigerator. Any perishables that will spoil during the time frame you’re away should be discarded now, before you leave.

A Decluttered Home Is More Prepared for Emergencies

Thursday, February 21st, 2019

Excessive clutter inside a home is not simply a housekeeping issue, it’s also a major disadvantage in certain emergency scenarios. Everyone knows how surplus “stuff” tends to accumulate over a period of time.  Though it’s almost always a routine annoyance, during a household crisis, clutter can make a bad situation far worse. Here are a few examples of how clutter complicates emergencies and makes recovery and repair more difficult:

Fire Hazards

When a house is disarrayed and over-filled with stored items, adding fire to the picture is the setting for potential disaster. Clutter often blocks normal routes of escape through doors, windows or other rooms. It may also conceal a fire in its early stages, delaying the call for help and increasing the potential for injury or death. First responders to the fire may find it difficult to access parts of the home to rescue residents as well as get water where it is needed to extinguish flames.

Water Damage

A plumbing emergency such as a ruptured pipe may be hidden by boxes or stacks of possessions in a cluttered home. Water damage may therefore be far advanced by the time occupants realize there’s a problem and the origin of the water may be hard to track down. Stored items may themselves become saturated, heavy and unstable, greatly complicating the extraction of water from the house for water damage remediation crews.

Mold Growth

Clutter can also be a point of origin for toxic mold growth, which can pose a long-term health threat. Mold can be difficult to pinpoint and identify in interior disarray. It feeds on organic material including cardboard and paper, then releases airborne spores that spread throughout the house. The lack of proper air circulation in a cluttered room stacked with possessions also supports the growth of mold that thrives in a musty, stale environment.

Physical Hazards

Items arranged haphazardly in the house can make trip and fall injuries more likely, particularly when attempting to quickly evacuate a house during an emergency. Also stacks of heavy items may be unstable and collapse.

Minimizing Water Damage After a Flood

Thursday, October 15th, 2015

minimize water damage after floodDealing with water damage after a flood is a matter for qualified professionals. While DIY methods may handle a limited water spill such as a brief plumbing leak, inundation by flood waters almost always requires more comprehensive remediation by a water damage expert—not only to address critical immediate problems but also to mitigate long-term consequences like the growth of toxic mold. As a homeowner, however, certain preliminary steps for dealing with water damage can help minimize the damage and expedite the recovery process when the pros arrive.

  • Make sure the house is safe to enter. A flooded home is a danger zone due to hazards from electrocution and the possible collapse of walls and the ceiling. Don’t go into the house until a qualified electrician has cut off electricity at the meter. Once inside, don’t remain in any rooms where the walls or ceiling are sagging due to water absorption.
  • Remove as much water as possible. Special water removal pumps are available at rental centers. However, if you don’t have electrical power you’ll have to leave heavy-duty water extraction to the pros who will arrive with generators. You can, however, bail out deep water with buckets, then push water out the door with a floor squeegee, and finally sop up the remainder with towels. Be sure to take care to protect yourself from direct contact with potentially contaminate floodwaters by donning gloves and boots.
  • Get movable saturated materials out of the house, ASAP. Pull up soaked carpeting (and padding underneath) and move it outdoors. Take water-logged objects like mattresses outside, too.
  • Dry the environment. Extreme humidity typically trapped inside a house after a flood can cause almost as much damage as the original water inundation. Open as many doors and windows as you can and get air moving. If you have electrical power, turn on the air conditioner to take advantage of the dehumidifying function. Special fans that move a high volume of air to dry interiors are available at rental centers.

For qualified service dealing with water damage in your home, contact the professionals at Rytech, Inc.

Protect Your Home From an Impending Hurricane With These Preparation Tips

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

hurricane safetyTropical storms and hurricanes have one advantage over most natural disasters: at least some advance notice for hurricane home preparation. Hurricane watches are now issued by the National Hurricane Center at least 48 hours prior to a potential storm. Hurricane warnings are issued 36 hours before predicted landfall. While this advance notice leaves time for last minute preparations, the best hurricane home preparation actually begins long before hurricane season.
(more…)