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Mid-Tenn Homes

-- November 22 - December 5, 2017

3A

Winterize to safeguard

your home from harsh weather

A

utumn is a beautiful time of year marked by wel-

coming cooler temperatures and the natural beauty

of leaves changing colors. Autumn also has a tendency

to fly by, as if the powerful weather of winter simply

cannot wait to make its presence felt.

With such a seemingly short time between the end of

summer and the dawn of winter, homeowners know they

don’t have too many weekends in between to prepare

their homes for the potentially harsh months ahead. But

such preparation, often referred to as “winterizing,” can

make a home more comfortable when the mercury dips

below freezing, while saving homeowners substantial

amounts of money along the way.

* Clean the gutters. Leaves falling in fall can be a

beautiful sight to behold, but many of those leaves are

likely finding their way into your gutters, where they

can lodge and cause a host of problems down the road.

If the leaves and additional debris, such as twigs and

dirt, that pile up in your gutters are not cleared out be-

fore the first winter storm, the results can be costly and

even catastrophic.

Winter rain and snowfall needs a place to go upon

hitting your roof, and gutters facilitate the travel of such

precipitation from your roof into street-level drainage

systems. If gutters are backed up with leaves and other

debris, then ice dams may form, forcing water to seep

in through the roof. That damage can be costly and can

even cause the roof to collapse inward in areas with

heavy snowfall. Clean gutters throughout the fall, espe-

cially if your property has many trees, and be sure to

check gutters one last time before the arrival of winter.

* Tend to your attic. Homeowners who have attics

in their homes might want to add some extra insulation

up there, especially those who recall feeling cold inside

their homes last winter, which is often a telltale sign of

improper insulation in a home. A good rule of thumb

when determining if your attic needs more insulation

is to look for the ceiling joists. If you can see the joists,

then you need more insulation.

* Address leaky windows and doors. Sometimes at-

tic insulation is not the culprit when it comes to a cold

home. Oftentimes, leaky windows and doors are the

real bad guys in a drafty home. Fall is a great time to

inspect for leaky windows and doors, as the wind out-

side can serve as your partner. When the wind outside

is blowing, take a tour of your home’s windows and

doorways, standing next to them to determine if there

any holes or leaks that are letting outdoor air inside.

If you notice any leaks beneath exterior doors, install

some door sweeps to keep outdoor air where it belongs.

Leaks around windows can be snuffed out with caulk or

weather stripping.

* Test the furnace. Homeowners typically do not

devote much thought to their furnaces in spring, sum-

mer and fall. But with winter on the horizon, fall is the

time to test the furnace to make sure it’s ready for the

months ahead. Expect a somewhat foul yet brief odor

to appear when starting the furnace. That odor should

dissipate shortly, but if it does not go away, then your

furnace is likely in need of repair. But even if the smell

does not stick around, you might want to have the fur-

nace cleaned by a professional anyway. Such cleanings

ensure the furnace works efficiently throughout the

winter.

* Clean the garage. You might not mind parking in

the driveway during the warmer months of the year, but

why subject your vehicles to harsh winter weather if you

don’t have to? Clean the garage in the fall so you have

an indoor parking spot throughout the winter season.

Protecting your car from the elements can add years to

its life and also saves you the trouble of digging your car

out of the snow.

Fall is a time of year for homeowners to spend a

weekend or two preparing their homes for the often

harsh weather that awaits when winter arrives.

M

any things in a kitchen contribute to

giving this popular room its person-

ality. Appliances and choice of cabinets go

a long way toward crafting that look, but

perhaps nothing denes a kitchen more

than a homeowner's choice of countertops.

Countertops are where the action takes

place in a kitchen. It's where meals are

prepared and where hungry houseguests

or curious kids watch the family chef whip

up the night's meal. The options with re-

gard to countertop surfaces are numerous,

and the following are just a few of the more

popular options homeowners planning to

replace their existing surfaces might want

to consider.

Laminate

Laminate countertops are popular and

affordable. Made of sheeting glued to ply-

wood or particleboard substrate, laminate

countertops are water-resistant but not

very heat-resistant, so homeowners will

want to place any hots pans, pots or bak-

ing sheets on trivets to maintain the lami-

nate. Many homeowners prefer laminate

countertops because they are available in

so many colors, meaning they can match

any homeowner's preferences, no matter

how colorful those preferences are. Cut-

ting on laminate countertops is not rec-

ommended, but such surfaces are easy to

clean and maintain.

Quartz

Quartz is among the most durable

countertop surfaces available, as it is re-

sistant to bacteria, heat, stains, and water.

Though quartz is not available in as many

shades as laminate, it is similarly easy

to clean. Also like laminate countertops,

quartz surfaces tend to have easily visible

seams, which may irk homeowners who

nd such minor imperfections an eyesore.

Quartz countertops can be expensive de-

pending on the amount of surface area a

kitchen has, so budget-conscious home-

owners with especially large kitchens may

nd quartz countertops bust their budgets.

Granite

The natural beauty of granite is what

draws many homeowners to install this

popular surface material in their kitch-

ens. Thanks to their unique shading and

tone, granite countertops are never the

same from one home to the next, and

granite complements many different

cabinet colors. Granite also is resistant to

heat, scarring and, when sealed properly,

stains. Granite is naturally porous, so if it

is not sealed properly, it can harbor bac-

teria. Some granite countertops must be

sealed annually, while some pretreated

countertops can go as long as 15 years

without a need for resealing. Unlike oth-

er countertop surface materials, granite,

which is among the most expensive coun-

tertop materials, does not come in a vast

array of colors, so homeowners should

expect to choose from just 20 or so color

options.

Recycled glass

Homeowners who want to give their

kitchens a modern and eco-friendly feel

may want to consider recycled glass coun-

tertops. Recycled glass countertops, the

majority of which are now produced with

80 to 90 percent post-consumer glass, are

made of pieces of glass that are held to-

gether with cement binders. Some might

be concerned that countertops made of

recycled glass are not very strong, but the

cement binders are very hard, making the

countertops durable, strong and unlikely

to chip or crack. Recycled glass counter-

tops come in various colors and are resis-

tant to both heat and stains. Installation

of recycled glass countertops can be tricky,

as improper installation can lead to stress

points that make the glass susceptible to

cracking. As a result, the installation of

recycled glass countertops is best left to

professionals with experience on such

projects. Recycled glass countertops can

be quite expensive as well.

A homeowner's choice of countertop

surface material can go a long way toward

dening the personality of his or her kitch-

en, so homeowners should consider their

options before making a nal decision.

Countertop options abound

Stay safe with supplemental heating

W

hen the weather begins

to grow cold, individuals

turn to supplemental forms of

heat for a variety of reasons.

The rising cost of home owner-

ship as well as escalating fuel

prices often set people on a

search for the least expensive

and most efficient ways to keep

comfortable during the cold

weather season. Space heat-

ers, wood-burning stoves and

fireplaces are among the more

common and popular supple-

mental heating sources.

The same heating sources

that can be cost-effective and

safe when used correctly can

become hazardous when safety

guidelines are not followed.

The National Fire Prevention

Association states that in 2010

heating equipment was in-

volved in an estimated 57,100

reported home structure fires

in the United States alone, re-

sulting in 490 deaths, 1,540 in-

juries and $1.1 billion in direct

property damage. These fires

accounted for 16 percent of all

reported home fires.

In an effort to prevent prop-

erty damage or loss of life,

homeowners should follow the

safety guidelines that come with

a supplemental heating device.

Also, simple steps can prevent

fire and injury.

* Test smoke alarms month-

ly to ensure they are in proper

working order. Should a mal-

function of a heating appliance

occur or a fire start, a smoke

alarm could be your first indi-

cator of a problem.

* Keep anything that can

burn at least 3 feet away from

any heating equipment, includ-

ing a furnace, a wood stove,

portable space heaters, or a

fireplace.

* Consider the use of a gate

or another obstruction to keep

children and pets several feet

away from a space heater or an-

other appliance that can easily

be knocked over.

* Never use fuel-burning ap-

pliances without proper room

venting to the outdoors to pre-

vent carbon monoxide poison-

ing. Fuel includes everything

from wood to gas to oil.

* Only use the fuel recom-

mended by the product manu-

facturer.

* When making a fire in a

stove or fireplace, never use

flammable liquids to start or

accelerate the fire.

* A wood-, pellet- or coal-

burning stove should be burned

very hot at least twice a day for

about 30 minutes to reduce the

creosote buildup in the chimney

or flue.

* Chimneys should be pro-

fessionally cleaned at the be-

ginning of each use season to

ensure there is nothing lodged

within that can catch fire.

* Do not use an oven to

heat the home while it is in the

“on”position. You can leave the

oven door open after cooking is

finished so that residual heat

can enter the kitchen, provided

pets and children are kept away.

* Electric space heaters

should be kept away from walls,

curtains and furniture. Many

now feature tip-over safety fea-

tures that will turn the unit off

should it be tipped over. How-

ever, it is always adviseable to

use a space heater on a level,

sturdy surface that is away from

foot traffic in the room.

* All supplemental heating

sources should be turned off or

extinguished before leaving the

house or going to bed.

* Carbon monoxide detec-

tors should be installed in every

level of the home. Install the

detectors close to all bedrooms.

Carbon monoxide is a colorless,

odorless gas that cannot be de-

tected easily. It quickly robs the

body of oxygen and can be fatal

when present in high amounts.

* Any stationery space heat-

ing equipment or HVAC system

should be installed by profes-

sionals and inspected so that

it adheres with local building

codes. This is to ensure your

safety as a homeowner.

* Use safety screens in front

of fireplaces to prevent sparks

from escaping.

* Make sure the damper is

open every time you light a fire.

* Do not move a heater while

it is hot or fill it with fuel at this

time, except when adding wood

to a stove.

* Cinders and ashes should

be cleaned routinely from

stoves and fireplaces and stored

away from the home in a heat-

safe container until cool.

* Never position an electric

heater next to a water source.

* Extension cords should

not be used unless absolutely

necessary. The cords should be

heavy duty and meet the draw

of the heating unit. Also, they

should be run so they don’t

present a tripping hazard, but

also so the cords themselves do

not create a combustion hazard.

* Children should not be

allowed to touch or play near

any heating appliances. Do not

leave children or pets unattend-

ed in a room with a fire or space

heater going.

Before investing in a heating

unit, homeowners should con-

sider adding more insulation to

homes or caulking drafty win-

dows and doors as a method to

warming a home.

Whether out of necessity

or just to provide an added

measure of warmth to a home,

many people use supplemental

heating appliances frequently

during the winter. Emphasizing

safety when using such devices

can prevent many of the fire

hazards associated with these

devices.