Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome
Central Oregon, like most rural areas have an abundance of wildlife–including rodents such as the deer mice. Many people don’t know that, though cute the deer mice is a main carrier of the Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS). This is a life-threatening disease that is spread by:
- Inhaling airborne particles of urine, droppings, and saliva from infected rodents spreads
- Handling infected rodents, their nests, or droppings and then touching the mouth, nose, or eyes.
- Shortness of breath
- Stomach pain
Some house problems are obvious from the get-go—for instance, you know you’re in trouble when raw sewage starts backing up in your basement shower. Other problems, however, are not as apparent. They creep up on you, silently wreaking havoc in your home while you remain blissfully unaware. The best time to address any problem is while it’s still small, so the longer a house problem stays hidden, the more likely you are to end up with costly repair bills. Keep your eye out for these 10 easy-to-overlook signs that could signal a big problem up ahead if you don’t act quickly.
Tiny Holes in Drywall or Wood
They may look innocent enough, but these little spots signal a long battle ahead. Even if they’re just a grouping of small dots on the wall, each no more than 1/8 inch in diameter, they’re anything but innocent. In fact, they’re probably flying termite exit holes, and they could be a sign of an active termite infestation. Flying termites chew exit holes through drywall to allow young termites to escape, then other termites fill the holes with a plaster-like substance made of wood fiber and their own feces. If you find termite exit holes, call the exterminator—pronto.
Dry Mud Tubes on the Foundation
Another sign that termites are munching away at your walls is the discovery of small, dry mud tubes on the foundation, running from the ground to the siding. Termites are subterranean critters, and they prefer to remain covered as they travel back and forth from their nest in the soil to their “restaurant” in your house. To conceal their comings and goings, they build small tunnels (about 1/4 inch wide). They can build these mud tubes on the outside of your foundation or on the inside, so if you have a crawl space, shine a bright flashlight in the crevice and check for tubes once or twice a year.
The Door Won’t Close
If you have a door that used to close easily but now sticks or won’t close at all, it’s a sign that something has shifted in the structure of your home. One possible cause could be expansive clay soil that swells when it becomes saturated and puts pressure on the foundation, causing it to shift. Or, it could be the result of normal settling. Either way, when a door will no longer close, an inspection is in order. A reputable contractor can pinpoint the problem and advise you on steps you can take to protect your home.
The Floor Is Sloping
Unless you drop a marble and it rolls to one side of the floor, or you spill a glass of water and the liquid runs to the same spot, you might easily miss a slight slope in your floor. When a formerly level floor develops a slant, it could be a sign that one or more of the joists that support the floor have rotted or broken, causing the floor to settle in that area. A structural engineer should take a look at your home’s structural support system and determine a method for repairing it, which could involve replacing one or more of the floor’s structural members.
No matter where you live—house, apartment, dorm room, mobile home—one factor remains constant: There never seem to be enough power outlets. This may explain the popularity of multi-outlet power strips, which provide additional outlets and also let you control…
Refrigerators and Freezers1/11Large appliances like refrigerators require a lot of power and frequently cycle on and off, which can easily overload a power strip. These devices should be plugged directly into a wall outlet dedicated solely to powering the appliance. If you try to plug additional appliances into the same outlet, you risk tripping the circuit.
Microwaves2/11The microwave is a miracle of modern food preparation, thawing, cooking, and reheating food in a fraction of the time it takes a conventional oven. But all that marvelous activity requires more energy than a power strip can provide. Like a conventional electric oven, the microwave should have its own dedicated power outlet.
Coffee Makers3/11You may not think that your morning cup of joe requires that much energy to brew, but most coffee makers need quite bit of amperage to turn those roasted beans into a hot beverage. Plug your coffee maker directly into the outlet or you run the risk of waking up to a half-brewed pot of coffee.
Toasters4/11If you’ve ever peered into a toaster to remove a particularly stubborn piece of broken crust, you know that the inside is basically a bunch of wires that heat up to red-hot temperatures to toast the bread. The current draw that those wires require can easily cause a power strip to overheat. This same issue affects toaster ovens, electric skillets, and waffle irons as well.
Slow Cookers and Hot Plates5/11You might think you’re one clever cook when you plug your slow cooker into a power strip to free up outlet space for other countertop appliances, but you’d be wrong. These cooking appliances require more juice over a longer period of time than a power strip can handle. And because the appeal of a slow cooker is that it can operate without supervision, you definitely want to make sure it is safely plugged into a wall outlet to minimize any hazardous outcomes.
Hair-Care Appliances6/11It takes a tremendous amount of electricity to power your hair dryers, curling wands, and flat irons. In fact, to prevent the circuit breaker from tripping, any hairdressing accessory that operates with heat should be plugged directly into a wall outlet—preferably a GFCI outlet to avoid the danger of accidental water exposure, a common bathroom hazard.
Portable Heaters and Air Conditioners7/11Portable heaters and air conditioners are designed to cycle on and off, and they draw a large amount of current when they switch on. This activity can overload a power strip and either trip the circuit breaker or cause dangerous overheating. For that reason, these appliances should always be plugged into a dedicated outlet.
Sump Pumps8/11A sump pump is often the last defense for a dry basement in the event of flooding. Because most power strips are not designed to be used in damp or wet conditions, they’re unsuitable for use with a sump pump. Instead, plug a sump pump into a GFCI outlet, preferably one installed some height above the floor in case flooding ever does occur.
Air Compressors9/11Portable air compressors are handy household helpers for the ambitious DIYer, but they draw a huge amount of energy on start-up. Rather than overloading a power strip, stick to a heavy-duty, properly rated extension cord to get the maximum use and benefit from your air tools.
Another Power Strip10/11Power strips are not meant to be used in conjunction with one another. In fact, plugging multiple power strips together, which is known as “daisy-chaining,” is the quickest way to overload your electrical system—and it’s also dangerous and violates most fire safety codes. For the same reason, avoid the use of extension cords with power strips. If you find yourself short of outlets, try unplugging one device before you plug another one in—or cut the cord and find power-free alternatives to your household appliances. If you have more questions about some of the items posted here, feel free to call Spectrum at 541-385-0752
Technology’s Effect on Homeowners InsuranceThe IoT is changing how insurance carriers interact with policyholders, and some are starting to provide relevant insurance incentives. Here are a few ways technology could affect home insurance over the next few years:
- Streamline the process of submitting a claim. For example, if a burglar triggers a home security alarm and your registered devices disappear off of your Wi-Fi network, insurers could begin the claims process for those items before you even know they’ve been stolen.
- Lessen risk with early warnings. There are smart detectors for practically everything these days — including mold. Smart air purifiers like Rabbit Air and Air Mega can help prevent bigger issues by detecting a mold problem before it gets out of hand.
- Decrease the number of claims. By alerting homeowners to accidents and emergencies in real time, smart home devices could help reduce the number of claims filed — which could lead to lower insurance premiums overall for the homeowner.
- Allow for more personalized coverage. Technology could also help insurers underwrite risks more accurately using the data your devices collect.
- Security systems: Self-monitored and professionally monitored alarm systems each have their pros and cons. Regardless of which you choose, your home and valuables will be safer with an active security system (and you may even get a discount on your home insurance for having one).
- Smart water leak detectors: These gadgets attach to your water heater and pipes and alert you of any leaks, whether you’re home or not.
- Smart deadbolts: Use these to prevent home invasions and theft, as well as enjoy peace mind knowing whether or not you locked your door just by checking your smartphone.
- Smart smoke and carbon monoxide detectors: These devices can help prevent property damage and keep your family even safer than traditional models.
- Smart doorbells: This smart home tech helps you control hazards, and some devices even allow you to talk to the person at your door from your smartphone.
Balancing Vulnerabilities and Peace of MindIt’s important to remember that while technology can help you run a safer home, it’s not something to entirely rely on. Electricity outages due to power surges or storms can disrupt connections and cause missed alerts. Then there’s the question of cyber-security. Taking proactive steps to ensure your connection’s security is recommended for smart devices. But when installed, and monitored properly, smart devices have the potential to make life simpler and safer in the long run. And by helping to minimize risk and lessen the severity of certain disasters, they could also wind up saving homeowners money on insurance.
Choose Mildew-Resistant Paint
After you enjoy a steamy shower, your bathroom walls absorb the lingering moisture, which can spur the growth mold or mildew. Choose a paint that resists mildew, or one that has a mildew-resistant additive mixed into it, to give your walls an extra measure of protection.
Keep It Well Ventilated
Mildew thrives in damp places, which makes the notoriously wet bathroom a prime breeding ground. To eliminate excess moisture, turn on the exhaust fan while you’re showering and let it run for 30 minutes after you shut off the water. This ensures that the walls and ceilings will dry properly. If you have a window in the bathroom, open it a crack to air out the room as well.
Let In Light
Mildew loves darkness, so homeowners should think twice before shutting off the bathroom lights directly after showering. Leave curtains open whenever possible or even put the lights on a timer to ward off the pesky fungus.
Mop Up Water
Nip mildew in the bud by getting rid of excess water as soon as possible. After a bath or shower, grab the squeegee to take care of drips on the tub or tiles, and mop up puddles with a towel.
You may be great about cleaning up the obvious pools of water by the sink and shower, but don’t forget to deal with smaller drips as well. Take care of leaks under the sink or by the toilet as soon as you notice them. Putting off repairs lets more moisture into the room and can over time turn a small mildew problem into an even bigger headache.
Seal Grout Lines
Constantly exposed to water and porous to boot, grout is extremely hospitable to mildew. Scrub your grout every few weeks to keep mildew at bay, and reseal it annually to help it stand up to water.
Clean Items Around the Shower
It’s not enough to just mop the floor and scrub the tiles. You also need to pay attention to items that are kept around the shower. Clean underneath shampoo bottles, regularly toss the shower curtain and hand towels into the wash, and replace your loofah often. Mildew loves to hide in these neglected places.
Keep It Clean
The best way to prevent mildew is to clean your bathroom regularly. If you don’t clean often enough, you’re encouraging mildew to grow and creating more work for yourself down the road.
Leading Causes of FireOver the past several decades, deaths from home structure fires in the United States have steadily gone down – from 5,200 in 1980 to 2,646 in 2015, according to Injury Facts 2017®. But even one death from a preventable fire is too many. While fire doesn’t discriminate by age, it is the third leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 14. In 2015, 232 children in this age group died from fire and smoke inhalation. Cooking equipment is the leading cause of home structure fires and fire injuries, followed by heating equipment, according to NFPA. Other causes include smoking, electrical problems, children playing with fire and candles.
What You Can DoNSC provides the following tips to keep your home safe from fire:
- Install both types of smoke alarms (ionization and photoelectric) and carbon monoxide alarms; change the batteries at least once a year in these devices
- Plan – and practice – an escape route and agree on a meeting place outside of your home; be prepared to assist young children, family members with special needs and pets
- Know two ways out of every room in the home
- Learn how to use your fire extinguisher
- If your clothes catch on fire, stop, drop and roll
- When evacuating, if door handles are hot, pick an alternate route
- Leave your house and call for help; do not go back to help someone else