5 Hidden Fire Hazards in Your Home

Home is where most of us truly feel safe, but have you thought about just how safe your home actually is? While almost all of us think about the obvious hazards and have basic safeguards in place for them, many fires result from threats that the owners had not even considered.

Here are five hidden fire hazards in your home.

  1. Dryer Vent

Most people clean out the lint trap on the clothes dryer after every load. Unfortunately, that is not the only place that lint accumulates…and you can’t see or easily reach it.

As your clothes dry, lint that does not end up in the trap collects in the duct work and dryer vent hose. This reduces the unit’s efficiency and means more electricity to properly complete the task. However, the real concern is that lint is quite flammable and near sources of heat inside the machine. Thus, the more lint that builds up, the greater the risk.

Have a professional clean out the duct work and dryer vent hose annually. If possible, go with an aluminum hose rather than plastic, as the latter can also be a fire risk.

  1. Unattended Cooking

When people hear of kitchen fires, they probably think of cluttered and greasy food preparation areas in restaurants on the verge of being closed by the health department. In reality, even the cleanest, most well-organized kitchen in the world can be a fire hazard if left unattended during cooking.

Do not ever leave cooking alone for more than a very short period of time. Pots can overflow and spill their red-hot contents on the countertop or floor, food can burn and ignite objects nearby, and children or animals can move things close to active burners. Try to do your stovetop cooking at a time when distractions are minimal or non-existent.

  1. Retro Appliances

Many people enjoy shopping for old appliances at antique malls and garage sales. In an age when so many products are plastic and uniform in appearance, vintage things seem to have so much more character and visual appeal. Unfortunately, because they come from an earlier age, these machines do not represent the safety standards that we expect from products made nowadays.

Old appliances can easily overheat and start fires, thanks to old, frayed wiring. Have these re-wired to modern standards or use them only as unplugged conversation pieces.

  1. Hidden Electrical Cords

Speaking of frayed wires, we all know not to overload electrical outlets, but have you thought about electrical cords that are not in plain sight? Some homes use extension cords that are hidden under carpeting and constantly stepped on, leading them to fray and become dangerous. Also, some cords become looped or tangled, which eventually leads to the same problem.

It is a good idea to inspect your electrical wiring annually. Frayed wires can lead to fires start behind walls and dramatically spread before detection.

  1. Overheated Electronics

Many people like to have gaming systems and computers but don’t necessarily like the clutter that can go along with them. There is a danger to having such electronics hidden away in entertainment centres or closets: overheating and possible fire.

Arrange your electronics so that they have ample ventilation, and be sure to clean them periodically to remove dust, which can lead to clogging and overheating.

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The Importance of Air Duct Cleaning

Did you know a single duct cleaning removes an average of six pounds of dust per home? The air inside your home is full of tiny particles like dust, pollen, and pet dander. When your furnace or air conditioner draws air, it also pulls in airborne particles.  Over time, these contaminants can build up inside the ducts, reducing air flow and re-circulating throughout your living space.

Like furnaces and air conditioners, air ducts require proper cleaning and maintenance to perform at their best. Keeping ducts free of dust and debris can also help reduce your energy bill and improve air quality in your home.

What is Air Duct Cleaning?

Air duct cleaning is the process of clearing debris from air ducts, registers, grilles, and other components of a forced air system.

Since the ducts are hidden behind walls and above ceilings, the only way to effectively clean them is with a high-powered, truck-mounted vacuum and compression system. No other method guarantees a complete clean.

We recommend more frequent duct cleaning if you have indoor pets, or are sensitive to indoor air quality. You should also have your ducts cleaned if you have recently renovated your home, as this will increase the amount of dust in your forced air system.

Importance of Air Duct Cleaning

  • Maintain Good Air Quality. The air passing through the ducts is the same air your family breathes each day. Left unchecked, ducts can harbour allergens like pollen and pet dander, which can re-enter your living space through the supply registers. Though these particles aren’t necessarily a health hazard, they can pose problems for people who have asthma, allergies, or other respiratory issues. Having your air ducts cleaned will help improve air quality and keep your air free of airborne particles.
  • Boost energy efficiency. Dust and debris restricts the flow of air to and from the components of your HVAC system. When the ducts are clogged, your furnace or air conditioner has to consume more energy to do its job. Keeping ducts clear will ensure your units can perform at peak efficiency.
  • Protect heating and cooling equipment. A dirty ventilation system can lead to clogged air conditioner coils, contaminated blower wheels, and other issues that result in costly repairs. Making duct cleaning a part of your maintenance routine will extend the life of your HVAC system.

Choosing a Duct Cleaning Company

Duct cleaning is not an easy job. Doing it right takes specialized equipment in the hands of a skilled technician. When choosing a duct cleaning company, always check to ensure they use a truck-mounted vacuum and compression system, are certified by the National Air Duct Association (NADCA), and have established a positive reputation backed by real customer reviews. Be cautious when it comes to telemarketers and door-to-door salespeople offering discount duct cleaning services.

AtlasCare entered the duct cleaning business back in 2010 because our clients were tired of dealing with inferior services from unscrupulous companies. Since then, we’ve completed over 5,000 duct cleanings to NADCA standards and to our clients’ complete satisfaction. We take time to seal the vents, cover the air conditioner coil, and shield your walls and baseboards from vacuum hose impact. And, as always, we roll out the AtlasCare red carpet to keep your floors as clean as they were when we knocked on the door.

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6 Home Upgrades with the Best Returns

There are two main reasons people invest in home upgrades: to increase their enjoyment and quality of life, and to add resale value to the home. The home upgrades with the best returns are those that retain their value and provide a high return on investment, while also increasing your comfort and satisfaction. These 6 upgrades will help you get the most out of your budget.

New Windows

Replacing old windows will immediately boost curb appeal and save money on heating and cooling over time. Windows can account for as much as 30% of a home’s energy loss, mainly due to heat escaping through worn-out weatherproofing. Outdated windows also have less UV protection, which contributes to rising indoor temperature in the summer. New windows with proper sealing and low-E film will help reduce your heating and cooling bill.

Kitchen Upgrades

Of all the rooms in your home, the kitchen is likely to have the biggest impact on potential buyers. It also carries one of the highest remodeling bills. Regardless, kitchen upgrades generally have a high return on investment both in large and small-scale projects.

If you intend to put your house on the market in the near future, it’s worth updating to a contemporary design with quality finishes and fixtures. Budget-friendly upgrades, like new cabinet hardware and countertops, can have a big impact. However, even the most cutting-edge kitchen will look outdated in 10 to 15 years, so be aware that the investment will depreciate over time.

Interior or Exterior Paint

It’s amazing what a coat of paint can do. Giving your walls a makeover can transform the look of a room. To make the most of this investment, choose subtle paint colours with a wide appeal rather than the trendy tones of the time. Neutral colours help potential home buyers envision their existing furniture and décor in the house.

Bathroom Upgrades

Bathrooms are second only to kitchens if you want maximize your return, and the modest square footage of most bathrooms makes them far more affordable to upgrade. Simple changes, like a new faucet, sink, or toilet, can greatly improve the room’s appeal. Replacing broken or outdated tilework is essential in creating a fresh, clean look.

New Roof

The roof is one of the most visible parts of the home. A ramshackle roof can greatly decrease a home’s curb appeal, as buyers know they’ll have to shoulder the cost of a replacement. Adding a new roof will make the house more appealing on the market and protect homeowners from costs associated with leaks. Steel roofs are a particularly good investment here in Canada, since they are more weather-resistant and require less maintenance than asphalt roof tiles.

New Furnace

Space heating accounts for 63% of energy use in the average Canadian home. Trading an old unit for a new, energy-efficiency furnace can increase the value of your home and decrease monthly energy costs. A new furnace is one of the home upgrades with the best returns, and with proper maintenance, a top-performance furnace will deliver comfort for 25 years or longer.