Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Update on Toxic Chinese Drywall

The CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) has come out with a statement today regarding the current status on the investigation into reports of 'toxic chinese drywall'.

The following is an excerpt from the report issued today:

Executive Summary of November 23, 2009 Release

Released today is additional information from the investigation of problem drywall including the results from three preliminary scientific reports: a fifty-one home indoor air study; an electrical component corrosion study; and a fire safety component corrosion study. Most significantly, the fifty-one home report released today finds a strong association between the problem drywall, the hydrogen sulfide levels in homes with that drywall, and corrosion in those homes. The two preliminary component corrosion studies support this finding. The fifty-one home study also provides some basic tools necessary for development of processes to identify and remediate affected homes, and advances the Interagency Task Force’s investigation to a new phase focused on these objectives.

For more detailed information please go to this site http://www.cpsc.gov/info/drywall/index.html

Some specifics from the report that may be of interest to you:

States Reporting Problems:

The majority of the reports to the CPSC have come from consumers residing in the State of Florida while others have come from consumers in Alabama, Arizona, California, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

Consumers largely report that their homes were built in 2006 to 2007, when an unprecedented increase in new construction occurred in part due to the hurricanes of 2004 and 2005.

Common features of the reports submitted to the CPSC from homes believed to contain problem drywall have been:
  • Consumers have reported a "rotten egg" smell within their homes.
  • Consumers have reported health concerns such as irritated and itchy eyes and skin, difficulty in breathing, persistent cough, bloody noses, runny noses, recurrent headaches, sinus infection, and asthma attacks.
  • Consumers have reported blackened and corroded metal components in their homes and the frequent replacement of components in air conditioning unit.

Read and download a copy of the press release or get much more detailed information at the CSPC website specifically set up to address this issue.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Life Expectancy and Replacement Costs

This article is intended to provide a homeowner with some general information about the typical life expectancy and estimated replacement costs for the major systems and components in your home.
The information regarding life expectancy was taken from a study completed in 2007 by the National Association of Home Builders. The detailed report can be downloaded at: http://www.nahb.org/page.aspx/generic/sectionID=152 . The study indicated that the figures are average findings that took into account quality of product and installation, level of maintenance, weather, intensity of use and changes in taste and technology.

The information regarding replacement costs was taken from "Residential Construction and Remodeling Estimates" compiled by Pillar to Post

The following items address the components and systems I am most frequently asked about during home inspections. If any of the component or systems in your home are nearing the typical life expectancy listed below I recommend you start budgeting to replace the item. This information gives you a guideline for budgeting purposes.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Christmas Gift Ideas for Your Handywoman or Man :)

This is a somewhat random list of products that you might find interesting. I haven't personally used all of these yet but a few are definitely being considered for my Christmas List :)

Ryobi (sold exclusively at Home Depot) has come out with a line of cordless "household" tools that are powered by a single 4-volt rechargeable battery. Some items include: Rugged digital camera, cell phone charge, LED flashlight, headphones and more. Visit www.ryobitools.com/tek4 All this stuff is rugged and can be used outside or in a workshop.

Handmade custom vinyl wall decals. It looks like you have a hand painted mural on your walls. For those of us a bit 'artistically challenged" http://www.etsy.com/shop/leenthegraphicsqueen

1 year subscription to The Family Handyman magazine. This is on I can personally recommend! It is published by Readers Digest and has some great tips, advice and recommendations along with some fun stories in the "Great Goofs" column in every issue. http://www.rd.com/family-handyman/

Power Hammer by Craftsman. This one gets mixed reviews on-line but I think it's worth a try if you have issues that don't allow you to swing a hammer like you used to. At least you'll get a full refund from Craftsman if you don't like the product. If you buy one, let me know what you think.
Auto Hammer Link

I'll be posting again on some great stocking stuffers for the Handyman or Handywoman in your life.
Merry Christmas!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Holiday Light Recycling Program - Ace Hardware

Between November 23rd and February 10th Ace Hardware - Alameda Station will be recycling incandescent light strings when you purchase replacement L.E.D. strings. You can receive $3 off the regular retail price of L.E.D. strings when you bring-in your old strings for recycling (limit 3 discounts per customer). Ace Hardware is partnering with Lights For Life, a non-profit organization that recycles the used lights and sells the copper components to raise money for children with cancer. Last year, Lights For Life collected nearly three tons of lights.

Ace Hardware has a wide selection of beautiful, energy-efficient holiday L.E.D. lighting options in-stock today. RED HOT BUYS this month include:

50 light M5 string (9116346) $7.99
60 light C6 string (9115312) $9.99

Bring your old light strings in for recycling and have their helpful associates help you upgrade to L.E.D.s today!

Ace Alameda Station
417 South Broadway,
Denver, Colorado 80209

Monday, November 2, 2009

Holiday Lighting Safety Tips

Most of these recommendations are common sense, please be safe and enjoy your Holidays!

General Safety Tips
  1. Choose lights that have been tested and approved by a reputable testing laboratory such as UL. Approval will be indicated on the packaging.

  2. Holiday lights are NOT intended for permanent installation or use.
    Consider using the new LED lights which are cooler burning, use 90% less electricity and last up to 100,000 hours. Recycle your old lights through Ace Hardware’s holiday light recycling program.

  3. Inspect all of your lights for the following: damaged or frayed wires, cracked or broken sockets, damaged or broken plugs or any loose connections. Recycle any old or damaged lights at your local Ace Hardware Store. Never replace the plug on a string of holiday lights. The plugs contain special safety devices which are not available in replacement plugs from the hardware store.

  4. Be careful on ladders. For a reminder of important ladder safety tips, please read my previous post on ladder safety.
  5. Do not overload your electrical circuits. An overloaded circuit will cause the breaker to trip. If you experience nuisance tripping of breakers because of an overloaded circuit, DO NOT replace the existing breaker with one of higher amperage. The limitation on electrical circuits is a result of the wire size not the amperage of the breaker.

  6. When you leave or go to bed at night, turn off your lights.

Outdoor Lighting

  1. Use lights that are designated for outdoor use. The packaging will indicate whether the lights can be used indoors, outdoors, or both.

  2. Plug outdoor lights into a GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) protected circuit. If one is not available, or if you are unsure if the circuit is GFCI protected, then consider using a portable GFCI protected power cord.

  3. Use extension cords properly. Outdoor cords can be used inside or outside. Do not overload extension cords - they can get hot enough to burn.
  4. Stay away from power lines or feeder lines (these go from the pole to the house).
    Secure outside holiday lights with insulated holders (never use tacks or nails) or run strings of lights through hooks.

Indoor Lighting

  1. Never put lights on metal trees. It is not only a shock hazard but can cause a fire, too.

  2. Use mini-lights or LED lights especially on live trees. Both types of lights do not get as hot as the larger traditional lights.
  3. Verify the manufacturers instructions regarding the maximum number of strings that can be connected continuously (usually 3 is the maximum).

  4. Do not mount or place lights near gas or electric heaters, fireplaces, candles or other similar sources of heat.