Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Right at Home Inspections and Solutions!

Take a look at this InterNACHI article on Holiday safety. And then , give me a call for all of your inspection needs. 

Holiday Home Safety Tips
The winter holidays are a time for celebration, and that means more cooking, home decorating, entertaining, and an increased risk of fire and accidents. InterNACHI recommends that you follow these guidelines to help make your holiday season safer and more enjoyable.

Holiday Lighting
Use caution with holiday decorations and, whenever possible, choose those made with flame-resistant, flame-retardant and non-combustible materials.
Keep candles away from decorations and other combustible materials, and do not use candles to decorate Christmas trees.
Carefully inspect new and previously used light strings, and replace damaged items before plugging lights in. If you have any questions about electrical safety, ask an InterNACHI inspector during your next scheduled inspection. Do not overload extension cords.
Don't mount lights in any way that can damage the cord's wire insulation.  To hold lights in place, string them through hooks or insulated staples--don't use nails or tacks. Never pull or tug lights to remove them.
Keep children and pets away from light strings and electrical decorations.
Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching a branch could be electrocuted.
Before using lights outdoors, check labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use.  
Make sure all the bulbs work and that there are no frayed wires, broken sockets or loose connections.
Plug all outdoor electric decorations into circuits with ground-fault circuit interrupters to avoid potential shocks.
Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house. The lights could short out and start a fire.
Use only non-combustible and flame-resistant materials to trim a tree. Choose tinsel and artificial icicles of plastic and non-leaded metals.
Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Always use non-flammable holders, and place candles where they will not be knocked down.
In homes with small children, take special care to avoid decorations that are sharp and breakable, and keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children.
Avoid trimmings that resemble candy and food that may tempt a young child to put them in his mouth.
Holiday Entertaining
Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the U.S.  When cooking for holiday visitors, remember to keep an eye on the range.
Provide plenty of large, deep ashtrays, and check them frequently. Cigarette butts can smolder in the trash and cause a fire, so completely douse cigarette butts with water before discarding.
Keep matches and lighters up high, out of sight and reach of children (preferably in a locked cabinet).
Test your smoke alarms, and let guests know what your fire escape plan is.

When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label "fire-resistant."
When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree is green, needles are hard to pull from branches, and when bent between your fingers, needles do not break.
When setting up a tree at home, place it away from fireplaces, radiators and portable heaters. Place the tree out of the way of traffic and do not block doorways.
Cut a few inches off the trunk of your tree to expose the fresh wood. This allows for better water absorption and will help to keep your tree from drying out and becoming a fire hazard.
Be sure to keep the stand filled with water, because heated rooms can dry live trees out rapidly.
Make sure the base is steady so the tree won't tip over easily.

Before lighting any fire, remove all greens, boughs, papers and other decorations from fireplace area. Check to see that the flue is open.
Use care with "fire salts," which produce colored flames when thrown on wood fires. They contain heavy metals that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting if eaten.
Do not burn wrapping papers in the fireplace. A flash fire may result as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely.

Toys and Ornaments
Purchase appropriate toys for the appropriate age. Some toys designed for older children might be dangerous for younger children.
Electric toys should be UL/FM approved.
Toys with sharp points, sharp edges, strings, cords, and parts small enough to be swallowed should not be given to small children.
Place older ornaments and decorations that might be painted with lead paint out of the reach of small children and pets. 
Children and Pets 
Poinsettias are known to be poisonous to humans and animals, so keep them well out of reach, or avoid having them.
Keep decorations at least 6 inches above the child’s reach.
Avoid using tinsel. It can fall on the floor and a curious child or pet may eat it. This can cause anything from mild distress to death.
Keep any ribbons on gifts and tree ornaments shorter than 7 inches. A child could wrap a longer strand of ribbon around their neck and choke.
Avoid mittens with strings for children. The string can get tangled around the child’s neck and cause them to choke. It is easier to replace a mitten than a child.
Watch children and pets around space heaters or the fireplace. Do not leave a child or pet unattended.
Store scissors and any sharp objects that you use to wrap presents out of your child’s reach.
Inspect wrapped gifts for small decorations, such as candy canes, gingerbread men, and mistletoe berries, all of which are choking hazards.
Use your home burglar alarm system.
If you plan to travel for the holidays, don’t discuss your plans with strangers. 
Have a trusted friend or neighbor to keep an eye on your home.


Sunday, September 11, 2016

Recently during an inspection, I was asked why I spend a great deal of time looking in the attached garage. I stated that typically we put 2 cars in the garage (approx $55,000 value). We store many outdoor items and kids toys in the garage (approx $2,500 value). And some of us just plain hang out in the garage. Whether its working on those cars, doing some repairs to an item, or maybe entertaining in the summer when it is raining outside. I would consider the garage just as important and the house itself.

Check out this InterNACHI article on garage inspections. When you are done, give me a call for your next inspection. 708-473-5116.

A Garage Inspection

by Kenton Shepard
Above:  garage exterior
This is the exterior of a townhome I was asked to inspect. During the inspection, I ran into a neighbor who told me that the roof of another garage, identical to the one pictured above two buildings down, had collapsed the previous winter under a snow load.
So, I decided to keep my eyes wide open as I went through the garage.
Above:  trusses and truss connections
Some defects you have to search for, and some are pretty obvious. These first two defects were obvious from the doorway:
  • improper alterations; and
  • improper bearing points.
Trusses cannot be altered in any way without the approval of a structural engineer. When you see plywood gussets added at truss connections like these triangular gussets, then an alteration of some sort has obviously been made and you have to recommend evaluation by a structural engineer.  So, that condition went into the report
Trusses are designed to bear loads at very specific points. Typical roof trusses should not touch any interior walls and should bear only on the exterior walls. The two trusses at the left of the above photo are bearing on an offset portion of the garage wall.
A portion of the structural roof load was being transferred to the bottom chords of the trusses at a point at which they were not designed to support a load.
Above:  the connection
Then I walked over and looked more closely at the connections where the trusses attached to the wall and found these problems:
  • inadequate metal connector (hanger);
  • inadequate fasteners (deck screws); and
  • improper fastener installation (through drywall). 
These trusses would have best been supported by bearing directly on wall framing. The next best solution would be an engineer-designed ledger or engineer-specified hardware. And that may have been how they were originally built, but by the time I inspected them, 24-foot roof trusses were supported by joist hangers designed to support 2x4 joists. The hangers were fastened with four gold deck screws each.
Gold deck screws are designed to resist withdrawal. Fasteners for metal connecters such as joist hangers are designed to resist shear.
Withdrawal force is like the force which would be generated if you grabbed the head of a fastener with pliers and tried to pull it straight out.
Shear force is what’s used if you take a pair of heavy-duty wire cutters and cut the fastener. Fasteners designed to resist withdrawal, such as deck screws, are weak in shear resistance.
So, there were drastically undersized metal connectors fastened by badly under-strength fasteners.
To make matters worse, the screws were fastened through drywall, which doesn’t support the shaft of the screw and degrades the connection even further.
Above:  gangnail integrity destroyed
And, once I looked really closely, I found more truss alterations. The gangnail had been pried loose and the spikes which form the actual mechanical connection were destroyed. In their place were a couple of bent-over nails. This condition represented a terrific loss of strength and this roof, too, was a candidate for catastrophic structural failure.
In summary, look carefully at connections for problems which may lead to structural issues, as some are more urgent than others.  Be sure to call these out in your report.  Also, all electrical receptacles in garages must be GFCI-protected, without exception.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Can someone turn off the oven please!?!?!?!?!

WOW!!!!! This past week has seen some very Tropical weather. I am certain that most of you are CRANKING up that air conditioner. I am with you on that!!

Before doing so, check out this article by InterNACHI's Nick Gromicko about air conditioners.

Central Air-Conditioning System Inspection

by Nick Gromicko
A building's central air-conditioning system must be periodically inspected and maintained in order to function properly. While an annual inspection performed by a trained professional is recommended, homeowners can do a lot of the work themselves by following the tips offered in this guide.Exterior Condenser Unit
Clean the Exterior Condenser Unit and Components
The exterior condenser unit is the large box located on the side of the building that is designed to push heat from the inside of the building to the outdoors. Inside of the box are coils of pipe that are surrounded by thousands of thin metal "fins" that allow the coils more surface area to exchange heat. Follow these tips when cleaning the exterior condenser unit and its inner components -- after turning off power to the unit!
  • Remove any leaves, spider webs and other debris from the unit's exterior. Trim foliage back several feet from the unit to ensure proper air flow.
  • Remove the cover grille to clean any debris from the unit's interior. A garden hose can be helpful for this task.
  • Straighten any bent fins with a tool called a fin comb.
  • Add lubricating oil to the motor. Check your owner’s manual for specific instructions.
  • Clean the evaporator coil and condenser coil at least once a year.  When they collect dirt, they may not function properly.
Inspect the Condensate Drain Line
Condensate drain lines collect condensed water and drain it away from the unit.  They are located on the side of the inside fan unit. Sometimes there are two drain lines—a primary drain line that’s built into the unit, and a secondary drain line that can drain if the first line becomes blocked. Homeowners can inspect the drain line by using the following tips, which take very little time and require no specialized tools:
  • Inspect the drain line for obstructions, such as algae and debris. If the line becomes blocked, water will back up into the drain pan and overflow, potentially causing a safety hazard or water damage to your home.
  • Make sure the hoses are secured and fit properly.
Clean the Air Filter
The air filter slides out for easy replacement
Air filters remove pollen, dust and other particles that would otherwise circulate indoors. Most filters are typically rectangular in shape and about 20 inches by 16 inches, and about 1 inch thick. They slide into the main ductwork near the inside fan unit. The filter should be periodically washed or replaced, depending on the manufacturer’s instructions. A dirty air filter will not only degrade indoor air quality, but it will also strain the motor to work harder to move air through it, increasing energy costs and reducing energy efficiency. The filter should be replaced monthly during heavy use during the cooling seasons. You may need to change the filter more often if the air conditioner is in constant use, if building occupants have respiratory problems,if  you have pets with fur, or if dusty conditions are present. 
Cover the Exterior Unit
When the cooling season is over, you should cover the exterior condenser unit in preparation for winter. If it isn’t being used, why expose it to the elements? This measure will prevent ice, leaves and dirt from entering the unit, which can harm components and require additional maintenance in the spring. A cover can be purchased, or you can make one yourself by taping together plastic trash bags. Be sure to turn the unit off before covering it.
Close the Air-Distribution Registers
Air-distribution registers are duct openings in ceilings, walls and floors where cold air enters the room. They should be closed after the cooling season ends in order to keep warm air from back-flowing out of the room during the warming season. Pests and dust will also be unable to enter the ducts during the winter if the registers are closed. These vents typically can be opened or closed with an adjacent lever or wheel.  Remember to open the registers in the spring before the cooling season starts.  Also, make sure they are not blocked by drapes, carpeting or furniture.
In addition, homeowners should practice the following strategies in order to keep their central air conditioning systems running properly:
  • Have the air-conditioning system inspected by a professional each year before the start of the cooling season.
  • Reduce stress on the air conditioning system by enhancing your home’s energy efficiency. Switch from incandescent lights to compact fluorescents, for instance, which produce less heat.
In summary, any homeowner can perform periodic inspections and maintenance to their home's central air-conditioning system.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Tis the Season for Foreclosures

Over the past few years inspecting, I have noticed that late winter and early spring has me inspecting many foreclosed homes. Most are fine, but some have been real winners! If it is a foreclosed home or a currently lived in home, I inspect the same- with my clients BEST interest at the forefront. Some people may be wondering what buying a foreclosed home takes compared to a regular purchase. I suggest possibly consulting your current RE agent to guide you along the way. This next article written by Nick Gromicko at InterNACHI will give you the basics on how to approach this. 

As always, check out my website at: www, for all of your inspection needs.

Buying a Foreclosure

by Nick Gromicko 
Purchasing foreclosed homes in desirable areas at below-market values can be a sound investment strategy. Appreciation on their original prices may be tax-free.  Buying foreclosed rental properties can provide positive cash flow, as well as valuable tax deductions. On the other hand, buying a foreclosure involves homework, patience, and a certain amount of luck. For those wishing to get a bargain house through the foreclosure process, it’s best to learn the basics.Foreclosed homes are often sold at auction
Four Ways to Buy a Foreclosed Home
  • presale is when the prospective buyer negotiates with the current owner before the house is foreclosed upon. Presale discounts can be considerable, but communicating and reasoning with the owner isn’t always easy; they might have legal problems, lost their phone service or electricity, or greet you with suspicion, having already been hounded and threatened by creditors. And after time and energy have been invested, the deal can fall through if the owner comes up with the money to repay their debt, or for any number of unexpected reasons. With persistence, however, the seasoned real estate investor can profit from presales. To find out about presales, you can try one of the following avenues:
    • Ask your local county court how to search new notices of default.
    • Find out if the County Recorder has data available online.
    • Look in the "legal notices" section of the newspaper for properties that are coming up for sale at public auction. Take note of the address, the property owner’s name, the tax ID, and whatever other information is contained in the ad.
  • A foreclosed home may be sold at a public auction, in which buyers can expect a discount of 10% to 25% of market value. Interested bidders are generally required to show proof of financing, and must have a minimum cash deposit before they are qualified to bid. It might be impossible to gain entry to inspect the interior, too, which makes this type of purchase risky. The local building department may have permit records that can clue you in to the building’s layout and appearance.
  • real estate-owned (REO) sale is a transaction where a foreclosed house is purchased directly from the bank. These properties typically wound up in the bank’s portfolio after failing to sell at auction. REO investments are relatively safe, as there are no tenants to evict or hidden liens and, unlike properties sold at public auction, buyers can usually receive a mortgage to pay for them. And purchasers might even get an unused house; the slow economy has left many builders at the end of their construction-loan periods without finding buyers for the homes, in which case the bank will foreclose on the brand new homes. Unfortunately, REOs are usually offered at near-market prices to recoup the costs of property taxes, maintenance and legal fees. To find REOs, try the following:
    • Check lenders’ websites, as they may have a list of their REOs, along with contact information for the appropriate real estate agent.
    • Call lenders and ask to speak to someone who handles their foreclosures.
    • Check newspapers.
  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development has tens of thousands of HUD homes whose previous owners defaulted on federally issued loans. After a period during which local governments gain exclusive buying privileges, they become available to individual buyers who pledge to live in the property. After another 10 days, investors may bid on the property. It’s difficult to make a profit on these houses, as HUD releases them at near-market values.
Tips for Foreclosure Purchases
  • Invest time in research and preparation. Those new to the field should spend some time learning the variables of foreclosure investing before making any purchases.
  • Budget carefully to prepare for the unexpected. The house may require unforeseen repairs, such as a leaky roof or unstable deck. The price tag of the home itself is often just the first of a series of fees. What if you planned on rental cash flow to cover the mortgage, but you can’t find a tenant?
  • Avoid buying a foreclosure sight-unseen. Try to see the house yourself before buying it, or hire someone to evaluate at it in your absence. Distant investors are buying up properties unseen in bulk, and they’re often unpleasantly surprised at how much they’ve been misled.
  • Evaluate the neighborhood. If the foreclosure is rife with problems, but it’s in a desirable area with high property resale values, it may still be worth it to make a low offer. An area with several foreclosures or a high crime rate can undermine an otherwise good deal, however.
  • Consider how long the house has been vacant. Building damage – and the costs required to make the house livable - generally increases with the time that has lapsed since the last tenant vacated. Pests are a particular issue in houses that have been empty for a long time, and plumbing defects and leaks increase in likelihood in such homes, as well.
  • Examine the landscaping. Left unchecked, trees can send their roots into the foundation, and vines can creep into the windows.
  • Has the house been professionally inspected by an InterNACHI inspector? Foreclosures can be notorious for damage suffered at the hands of past tenants, through both inadvertent and intentional vandalism and theft.

In summary, there are a number of ways to go about buying a foreclosed home, and buyers should exercise patience, persistence and careful planning before buying foreclosed properties.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

It's cold out there.

Oh boy it's cold outside!!!

The temps sure have dropped here in the Chicago area the past day. Who doesn't like to stay warm after a long day at work by taking a soak in the Jacuzzi or hot tub? If you do, please take a few moments to read this article.

Anti-Scald Valves

by Nick Gromicko
Anti-scald valves, also known as tempering valves and mixing valves, mix cold water in with outgoing hot water so that the hot water that leaves a fixture is not hot enough to scald a person.Anti-scald valves are used to regulate water temperature in buildings
Facts and Figures
  • Scalds account for 20% of all burns.
  • More than 2,000 American children are scalded each year, mostly in the bathroom and kitchen.
  • Scalding and other types of burns require costly and expensive hospital stays, often involving skin grafts and plastic surgery.
  • Scalding may lead to additional injuries, such as falls and heart attacks, especially among the elderly.
  • Water that is 160ยบ F can cause scalding in 0.5 seconds.
Unwanted temperature fluctuations are an annoyance and a safety hazard. When a toilet is flushed, for instance, cold water flows into the toilet’s tank and lowers the pressure in the cold-water pipes. If someone is taking a shower, they will suddenly feel the water become hotter as less cold water is available to the shower valve. By the same principle, the shower water will become colder when someone in the house uses the hot-water faucet. This condition is exacerbated by plumbing that’s clogged, narrow, or installed in showers equipped with low-flow or multiple showerheads. A sudden burst of hot water can cause serious burns, particularly in young children, who have thinner skin than adults. Also, a startling thermal shock – hot or cold – may cause a person to fall in the shower as he or she scrambles on the slippery surface to adjust the water temperature. The elderly and physically challenged are at particular risk.
Anti-scald valves mitigate this danger by maintaining water temperature at a safe level, even as pressures fluctuate in water supply lines. They look similar to ordinary shower and tub valves and are equipped with a special diaphragm or piston mechanism that immediately balances the pressure of the hot- and cold-water inputs, limiting one or the other to keep the temperature within a range of several degrees. As a side effect, the use of an anti-scald valve increases the amount of available hot water, as it is drawn more slowly from the water heater. Inspectors and homeowners may want to check with the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) to see if these safety measures are required in new construction in their area.
Installation of anti-scald valves is typically simple and inexpensive. Most models are installed in the hot-water line and require a cold-water feed. They also require a swing check valve on the cold-water feed line to prevent hot water from entering the cold-water system. They may be installed at the water heater to safeguard the plumbing for the whole building, or only at specific fixtures.
The actual temperature of the water that comes out of the fixture may be somewhat different than the target temperature set on the anti-scald valve. Such irregularities may be due to long, uninsulated plumbing lines or defects in the valve itself. Users may fine-tune the valve with a rotating mechanism that will allow the water to become hotter or colder, depending on which way it’s turned. Homeowners may contact an InterNACHI inspector or a qualified plumber if they have further questions or concerns.
In summary, anti-scald valves are used to reduce water temperature fluctuations that may otherwise inconvenience or harm unsuspecting building occupants.

But my Home Inspector didn't.....................................

But my Home Inspector didn't...............

Have you had a home inspection and later read the report only to find that the home inspector did not check over what you thought they were going to look at? Maybe some items include: Sewer Lines, Mold, Radon, Permits for additions, structural load, and HVAC capacity and efficiency to name a few.

Lets start with this: 
Did the inspector prepare and have you sign a "Pre Inspection Agreement" or PIA? In this "contract" it should have spelled out what what they were and were not going to inspect. In Illinois and most states, there is a statute in which it defines what the inspector shall inspect, if receiving compensation. In Illinois that SOP can be found here. If an inspector cannot inspect an item, they should have explained why in the report. Most non-inspected items are for lack of access or weather and safety.

Does the inspector have the training and qualifications for additional items to be assessed. This could be mold, radon, asbestos and many more. Some of these items also carry an additional liability for the inspector as well. 

If you had an inspection on a house that obviously had an addition put onto it, did the inspector check for permits being issued for said addition? Many inspectors do not do this service as it could take weeks, in some jurisdictions, to find out the results. This can needlessly hold up the process of selling the house. In most instances, the seller will readily provide that information. Remember this: if you go to sell that house that had an addition put on and permits were NOT issued and there is a deficiency, you are ultimately responsible to bringing up deficient items into code.

Speaking of "code". Home Inspections are this: a non-destructive evaluation of the house and its systems. Although inspections are performed to do this through "common construction codes", this does not mean they are necessarily "code compliant". Authority having jurisdiction, or AHJ, is simply stating that each county, township, town, city, village will each have their own building codes the follow. Many will be similar, but some may be more stringent than others. For example: if the waste plumbing is determined to be ok having PVC in one town, the other town may still require cast iron waste plumbing. That is not a defective issue then in one inspection.

To sum up: do your due diligence. Ask the inspector what they will inspect. Make sure they give the PIA and have time to review it. When in doubt, ask. A truly trustworthy inspector will anser your questions. If they do not have an answer, they will find the answer for you. 

Until next time

Check out my website at:

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Tis the Season.....

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all.

Take a few moments to read the following article regarding electrical safety presented by InterNACHI, and keep it in mind when putting up your outside decorations.

Electrical Safety

Electricity is an essential part of our lives. However, it has the potential to cause great harm. Electrical systems will function almost indefinitely, if properly installed and not overloaded or physically abused. Electrical fires in our homes claim the lives of 485 Americans each year and injure 2,305 more. Some of these fires are caused by electrical system failures and appliance defects, but many more are caused by the misuse and poor maintenance of electrical appliances, incorrectly installed wiring, and overloaded circuits and extension cords.  
Some safety tips to remember:
  • Never use anything but the proper fuse to protect a circuit.
  • Find and correct overloaded circuits. 
  • Never place extension cords under rugs. 
  • Outlets near water should be GFCI-type outlets. 
  • Don't allow trees near power lines to be climbed. 
  • Keep ladders, kites, equipment and anything else away from overhead power lines. 
Electrical Panels
Electricity enters the home through a control panel and a main switch where one can shut off all the power in an emergency. These panels are usually located in the basement. Control panels use either fuses or circuit breakers. Install the correct fuses for the panel. Never use a higher-numbered fuse or a metallic item, such as a penny. If fuses are used and there is a stoppage in power, look for the broken metal strip in the top of a blown fuse. Replace the fuse with a new one marked with the correct amperage. Reset circuit breakers from "off" to "on." Be sure to investigate why the fuse or circuit blew. Possible causes include frayed wires, overloaded outlets, or defective appliances. Never overload a circuit with high-wattage appliances. Check the wattage on appliance labels. If there is frayed insulation or a broken wire, a dangerous short circuit may result and cause a fire. If power stoppages continue or if a frayed or broken wire is found, contact an electrician.
Outlets and Extension Cords

Make sure all electrical receptacles or outlets are three-hole, grounded outlets. If there is water in the area, there should be a GFCI or ground-fault circuit interrupter outlet. All outdoor outlets should be GFCIs. There should be ample electrical capacity to run equipment without tripping circuit breakers or blowing fuses. Minimize extension cord use. Never place them under rugs. Use extension cords sparingly and check them periodically. Use the proper electrical cord for the job, and put safety plugs in unused outlets.

Electrical Appliances

Appliances need to be treated with respect and care. They need room to breathe. Avoid enclosing them in a cabinet without proper openings, and do not store papers around them. Level appliances so they do not tip. Washers and dryers should be checked often. Their movement can put undue stress on electrical connections. If any appliance or device gives off a tingling shock, turn it off, unplug it, and have a qualified person correct the problem. Shocks can be fatal. Never insert metal objects into appliances without unplugging them. Check appliances periodically to spot worn or cracked insulation, loose terminals, corroded wires, defective parts and any other components that might not work correctly. Replace these appliances or have them repaired by a person qualified to do so.
Electrical Heating Equipment

Portable electrical heating equipment may be used in the home as a supplement to the home heating system. Caution must be taken when using these heating supplements. Keep them away from combustibles, and make sure they cannot be tipped over. Keep electrical heating equipment in good working condition. Do not use them in bathrooms because of the risk of contact with water and electrocution. Many people use electric blankets in their homes. They will work well if they are kept in good condition. Look for cracks and breaks in the wiring, plugs and connectors. Look for charred spots on both sides. Many things can cause electric blankets to overheat. They include other bedding placed on top of them, pets sleeping on top of them, and putting things on top of the blanket when it is in use. Folding the blankets can also bend the coils and cause overheating.

Electricity is important to the workings of the home, but can be dangerous, especially to children. Electrical safety needs to be taught to children early on. Safety plugs should be inserted in unused outlets when toddlers are in the home. Make sure all outlets in the home have face plates. Teach children not to put things into electrical outlets and not to chew on electrical cords. Keep electrical wiring boxes locked. Do not allow children to come in contact with power lines outside. Never allow them to climb trees near power lines, utility poles or high tension towers.
Electricity and Water

A body can act like a lightning rod and carry the current to the ground. People are good conductors of electricity, particularly when standing in water or on a damp floor. Never use any electrical appliance in the tub or shower. Never touch an electric cord or appliance with wet hands. Do not use electrical appliances in damp areas or while standing on damp floors. In areas where water is present, use outlets with GFCIs. Shocks can be fatal.
Animal Hazards

Mice and other rodents can chew on electrical wires and damage them. If rodents are suspected or known to be in the home, be aware of the damage they may cause, and take measures to get rid of them.
Outside Hazards

There are several electrical hazards outside the home. Be aware of overhead and underground power lines. People have been electrocuted when an object they are moving has come in contact with the overhead power lines. Keep ladders, antennae, kites and poles away from power lines leading to the house and other buildings. Do not plant trees, shrubs or bushes under power lines or near underground power lines. Never build a swimming pool or other structure under the power line leading to your house. Before digging, learn the location of underground power lines.

Do not climb power poles or transmission towers. Never let anyone shoot or throw stones at insulators. If you have an animal trapped in a tree or on the roof near electric lines, phone your utility company. Do not take a chance of electrocuting yourself. Be aware of weather conditions when installing and working with electrical appliances. Never use electrical power tools or appliances with rain overhead or water underfoot. Use only outdoor lights, fixtures and extension cords. Plug into outlets with a GFCI. Downed power lines are extremely dangerous. If you see a downed power line, call the electric company, and warn others to stay away. If a power line hits your car while you are in it, stay inside unless the car catches fire. If the car catches fire, jump clear without touching metal and the ground at the same time.
  • Routinely check your electrical appliances and wiring.
  • Hire an InterNACHI inspector. InterNACHI inspectors must pass rigorous safety training and are knowledgeable in the ways to reduce the likelihood of electrocution.
  • Frayed wires can cause fires. Replace all worn, old and damaged appliance cords immediately.
  • Use electrical extension cords wisely and don't overload them.
  • Keep electrical appliances away from wet floors and counters; pay special care to electrical appliances in the bathroom and kitchen.
  • Don't allow children to play with or around electrical appliances, such as space heaters, irons and hair dryers.
  • Keep clothes, curtains and other potentially combustible items at least 3 feet from all heaters.
  • If an appliance has a three-prong plug, use it only in a three-slot outlet. Never force it to fit into a two-slot outlet or extension cord.
  • Never overload extension cords or wall sockets. Immediately shut off, then professionally replace, light switches that are hot to the touch, as well as lights that flicker. Use safety closures to childproof electrical outlets.
  • Check your electrical tools regularly for signs of wear. If the cords are frayed or cracked, replace them. Replace any tool if it causes even small electrical shocks, overheats, shorts out or gives off smoke or sparks.
In summary, household electrocution can be prevented by following the tips offered in this guide and by hiring an InterNACHI inspector.