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Title: Home, Safe Home... Top 10 Things Every Homeowner Should Know, continued

image of hard hat and levelDonald Brand, P.E., Building Engineer
Baltimore County Department of Permits, Approvals and Inspections


6.  LOCATE GAS SHUT-OFF VALVES ON GAS APPLIANCES.  The gas company adds a distinctive smell to gas so it can be detected immediately when there is a gas leak.  If you detect a distinctive garlic or sulfur like smell, open a window and leave the dwelling immediately leaving the door open as you leave to help ventilate the space. Telephone 911 and your gas supplier to report the gas leak from outside the building or from your neighbor’s house. Do not re-enter your dwelling until Fire Department personnel say it is safe to return.

7.  ROUTINELY INSPECT PLUMBING AND FIXTURES.  Make sure the shut-off valves on toilets and sinks turn easily and are not rusted shut.  If they are corroded, replace them.  If a faucet is leaking, replace the washer and remember to take the faucet, washer or stem along to the hardware store to insure the replacement part matches the original.  Also, know how to find your water main shut off valve.  If in doubt, contact a Master Plumber licensed in Baltimore County to fix the leak.  Leaks not only waste water, they encourage the growth of mold, mildew, wood decay fungus (causes structural damage) and support insect populations such as ants and termites.

8.  ROOFS SHOULD BE CHECKED YEARLY. A leaky roof is one problem that cannot be ignored. Once the water enters into a structure the damage begins.  An interior investigation of the attic space will reveal past or present leak sources such as rusted nails or stains around the roofing nails that penetrate the roof deck.   Also, in extreme conditions, black mold would indicate a potential venting problem. If your roof is more than 12 years old, get it professionally inspected. Avoid climbing on roofs as shingles can break and, if the pitch is too steep, a fall could be deadly.

9.  KEEP GUTTERS FREE FLOWING:  Costly repairs result from water backing up in gutters and seeping into roofs and walls and rotting the wood components.  Also, keep leaves and other debris out of window wells and areaways to prevent water from overflowing into your home.

10.  FIND A WALL STUD WHEN HANGING HEAVY ITEMS ON YOUR WALLS:  When you need to hang something heavy like a flat-screen TV on your wall, you have to make sure to drill into a stud so that it has enough support.  The easiest way to find a stud is to use an electronic stud finder. As you pass the device along your wall, it detects density differences. When an electronic stud finder hits a more dense area, it notifies you by beeping or lighting up.
There are also magnetic stud finders that detect any screws or nails that were used to attach the wall to the stud. But if you don't have an electronic or magnetic stud finder, you can still figure out where studs are pretty easily. One option is to scan the wall for electrical outlets, light switches or where a nail runs through the molding. These are all usually attached to a stud, so if you find one stud that way, you can measure off 16 or 24 inches (40.6 or 61 centimeters) in either direction to find the next stud, since that's the standard spacing for studs. Where there's no stud, you'll hear a more hollow sound. If you make a mistake and drill in the wrong place, you can stick a bent piece of stiff wire in the hole and feel around to locate a nearby stud.


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