Show Notes: Keep Your Home Safe and Dry – On the House

Show Notes: Keep Your Home Safe and Dry

By on November 8, 2015

Want to keep your home safe and dry? Learn how to conquer the drip, spot the leaks and learn all about the newest water detection devices and gadgets that might save your home from going down in a storm.

Thank you to our guests: Ed Adkins and Keith Fyhr with Centipede Tools, LLC 

for more information on their products go to:


How To Get A Zero Interest Home Remodeling Loan

 The most popular way to finance smaller projects is cash:  either pulling cash from savings or frog-leaping from one no-interest credit card offer to another.

But one secret–and exciting–type of affordable home remodeling loan doesn’t come through the Federal government or private lenders.

It comes from that agency normally associated with transit, property taxes, licensing, roads, and courts:  your local county government. Best of all, some of these loans come completely interest-free.

What Are These Programs?

Names differ from county to county, but they often go under the name of Home Improvement Program (“HIP”), home repair/improvement assistance, or some variation thereof.

Under these programs, you take out a loan for home improvement purposes, and counties agree to subsidize your loan.

How Much Money You Can Save

A substantial amount.  The amount you save is so much that, if you qualify, it’s definitely worth the red-tape involved in applying.

In one common scenario, a county might subsidize 3% of your loan’s interest rate.  In another scenario, the loan might even be 0%.

 Why Counties Do This

Counties have a mandate to serve their residents, especially low-income families.

On the larger scale, counties are interested in maintaining the value of housing stock.  When housing stock declines, overall quality of life declines.  Finally, providing these loans drives the economic machine by helping to create projects that create jobs.

How Do You Apply?

Begin the process by applying through your county.  The county may direct you to a local lender, at which point this may become a regular home equity loan or HELOC subsidized by the county.

How Much Can You Borrow?

A typical borrowing cap is around $25,000 to $50,000.  It is rare to find HIP loans in the six-figures.

Limitations and Requirements

None of this comes for free, though.  Typical “catches” include:

  • Your annual gross income must be below a certain limit.  One typical amount (King County, Washington) is $64,400 for a family of four.
  • Your house must be valued below a certain limit.
  • You must let the program administrator monitor the project.
  • All county taxes must be paid in full.
  • You cannot use the money to pay off other loans, even if those loans are house-related.
  • You cannot use the loan money to pay for projects begun before the time that the HIP loan is approved.
  • You must complete the project within a certain time period, such as one year.

Things You Cannot Use the Money For

Typically you are barred from financing luxury projects, such as swimming pools, satellite dishes, hot tubs, decks, etc.

Some counties put limits on the types of appliances you can purchase with the loan, allowing only permanent ones (a furnace vs. a refrigerator, for example).  Sometimes “luxury” is even stretched to include kitchen remodeling, fences, and garage construction.

Also, these loans are for rehabilitating structures, not purchasing new property or financing construction.  Note, though, that some counties do have similar programs for helping homeowners purchase properties.

Where to Find These Programs

It is not guaranteed that your county will have this program.  Some do; most don’t.  Start with your local county’s website.  From there, it may be under the social services, housing, or community development departments.  If searching within the county, use the words “housing improvement,” “HIP,” or “repair assistance.”


 How To Be A Drip Detective – Avoid Winter Leaks

 Don’t be fooled into thinking a minor leak is a minor problem. Even the smallest leaks can turn into costly water bills and result in major damage.

Turn Off the Water and See What Happens

Turn off the main water valve and then check the water meter outside your home. Is it still moving? If so, water is flowing somewhere and it’s time to investigate.

Look at Your Water Bill

A sudden or large fluctuation in your water bill for unknown reasons could be a tip off to one or more water leaks. Even if you don’t see obvious evidence of water damage, a bigger water bill probably means water is leaking somewhere.

Use Water Detection Devices

Water detection gadgets and devices can detect water leaks or failures of appliances such as washing machines, dishwashers, water heaters and sump pumps.

  • Most water sensors are inexpensive and battery-powered with an alarm that sounds when water is detected. They’re easy to install yourself.
  • More sophisticated devices can automatically shut off water to an appliance or even to your entire house. Plumbers and electricians are usually needed to install this type of sensor.

Check Appliances for Leaks

Appliances are where most water leaks begin. You could prevent thousands of dollars in damage by doing a simple inspection once a year. It only takes about 10 minutes.

  1. Inspect your washer, dishwasher and other water-related appliances for worn or damaged hoses at least once a year.
  2. Replace any suspect hoses before they become a major water damage problem.

Check All Around the House

Just because there is no plumbing in a room doesn’t mean there is no chance for water to find its way in. Water gets in from damaged roofs, seeps in through wet foundations, and can appear where you least expect it – especially following a storm. Learn how to check your home for storm damage to help prevent water leaks.

Understand Where Water Damage Begins

Leaks and burst hoses and pipes are the leading cause of water damage in the home. The most common reasons for leaks and bursts are:

  • Wear and tear over time
  • Water pressure that is set too high, putting stress on household plumbing


Water Detection Gadgets And Devices

 There are a number of gadgets and devices available that can help reduce the chance of water damage in your home.

Some gadgets lessen the likelihood of a water problem from developing to begin with. Other gadgets quickly alert you to a problem which can help to lessen its severity. This is not an exhaustive list of what’s available but just a few ideas to get you started.

Talk to your plumber, local plumbing supply, hardware or home improvement store for information about these systems and other tips.


Reinforced Hoses for Washing Machines and Dishwashers

 A washing machine does not have to be in operation to leak or have a hose burst. Most of the worst washer-related home damage happens when hoses break. It’s important to regularly inspect both the hot and cold water supply hoses for kinks, cracks, blisters or bulging and to replace them when they show any signs of wear.

For both washing machines and dishwashers, consider using hoses that are reinforced with stainless steel braiding or mesh, rather than the rubber or plastic hoses that come from the manufacturer. The reinforced hoses only cost a few dollars more. It’s a small price to pay for more peace of mind.

Hoses, whether rubber or reinforced, won’t last indefinitely and should be replaced every few years.

Before changing hoses:

  • Unplug the machine’s power cord or turn off the electrical breaker
  • Make sure water to the appliance is turned off.
  • After changing hoses:
  • Check to make sure all connections are tight and dry.
  • Turn the power and water back on.
  • Pressure Testing Gauge

 One of the major causes of leaks and burst pipes in a home is stress and strain from water pressure that is set too high. When this is the case, hoses, pipes and water lines can crack under pressure and create leaks or gushes that could cause thousands of dollars in damage.

At most hardware or home improvement stores you can find a simple and inexpensive device called a water pressure gauge. Simply attach it to an outdoor faucet, and then turn the faucet on full force. The gauge will give a reading of your home’s water pressure. If it is above the recommended psi, it will need to be reset by installing a pressure reducing valve, also available at hardware, plumbing supply or home improvement stores. Measuring your home water pressure and installing a pressure reducing valve is a quick do-it-yourself project that can add years of life to your home plumbing.

Water Detectors

 Most water sensors are inexpensive. Battery-powered sensors can be placed on sump pumps. Floor sensors can be placed near plumbing or appliances that may leak. You don’t need any tools, and installation is often simple.

Check batteries and power sources regularly, just as you do for smoke detectors.

Water Shut-off Valves and Sensor/Shut-off Devices

 Water shut-off valves are available as manual, automatic or a combination of both.


Holiday Lighting Safety

 With the arrival of the holiday season many people are decorating their homes inside and out with electrical lights and accessories to celebrate the season. As with any electrical lighting or accessories, it’s important to ensure that they are installed correctly to avoid electrical shock and fires.

The following are a few tips to avoid some of the most common electrical hazards during the holidays.

  • Don’t string too many lights together. Check light strings to see how many strings can be safely connected end to end. As a rule of thumb, don’t string together more than three midgets (push-in bulbs); strings with screw-in bulbs (C7s and C9s) should have a maximum of 50 bulbs total.
  • Inspect electrical accessories before installation – Before stringing lights, inspect for cracked sockets, frayed, loose or bare wires or loose connections. Unplug light strings before replacing bulbs or fuses.
  • Always turn off electric decorations before leaving home or going to bed, and be sure all smoke detectors are in working order.
  • Don’t use high wattage bulbs in low-wattage ornaments
  • Avoid overloading extension cords.
  • Never run extension cords through water, even those labeled for outdoor use.
  • Replace damaged ornament parts with matching parts. Bulbs with too-high wattage are a fire hazard.


Winter Safety Tips

 Statistics show that sales of electrical products increase during the month of November and December. This increase in electrical product purchases, combined with the advent of colder weather in many parts of the country, increases the likelihood of electrical fires, electrocutions and injuries.

More home fires occur during the winter months than during any other part of the year. Heating equipment is the second leading cause of home fires in the United States.

Space Heater Safety – More than 65,000 home fires are attributed to space heaters. Learn how to use one safely.

Heating Pads and Electric Blankets Safety – Heating pads and electric blankets cause almost 500 fires each year.

Carbon Monoxide Safety – The winter months hold the highest risk for CO poisoning deaths. Every year over 200 people die from CO poisoning. Learn how to stay safe.


Thanksgiving Gadgets

KitchenPad™ Timer

By Touch Village Inc.



Take back control of meal time with the all new KitchenPad™ Timer. This visual kitchen timer that can be used to manage multiple cook times for your stove-top and oven. The convenient timer displays give you all the critical timer info at-a-glance. Never lose track of a dish you are preparing ever again!

  • Stunning, simple and elegant design with easy to use controls! Set, start & pause timers with ease.

  • Set up to 9 timers at once (5 stove-top and 4 oven timers)

  • Timer displays tell you what’s on the stove or in the oven, how much time left and the temperature or heat setting. Stove-top timers have heat settings from low to high, and with oven timers you can choose from fahrenheit, celsius, and by popular demand gas mark.

  • Audio alerts with local & push notifications when timers complete even if the app is running in the background. Select from our list of 15 alert sounds and remember to put your volume up!

  • Ability to save your favorite timers! Easily recall them later when making your favorite dishes.

ThermoHAWK 420 Touchless Infrared Thermometer

 ThermoHAWK 420 touchless infrared thermometer allows you to instantly and accurately check surface temperatures at the touch of a button. Unique small bullet shape allows for easy carrying in a pocket, purse, or toolbox. With applications from testing surface temperatures in the kitchen to the workshop, the uses of this incredible device are almost unlimited.


 Getting Ready For Winter

First and foremost, consider the possibility of leaks at all five walls that are the exterior of your home (front, back, sides, and roof).

Use a hose to check the seals at shingles, windows, doors and other openings. The heat of summer will dry out caulked joints, causing hairline openings that will let in the elements.

Shingles have a tendency to dry out and crack, and may need selective replacement. Winter water will find any roof problems you don’t. When checking roof areas, always run water from above. Use caution here: it is possible to force water under shingles with a hose, giving you the impression of a leak where one may not actually exist.

While the hose is out, use it to winterize your gutters and downspouts– clean them.

Overflowing gutters and blocked downspouts resulting from debris buildup defeat the purpose of their existence. Winter rainwater going directly from roof to ground will fall too close to your foundation, and may cause damage that could mean economic disaster. Wet sub areas precipitate foundation shift, resulting in creaking, cracking, and mildewing. Once assured that gutters and downspouts are leak-free and running clear, the next step will be to insure that water carried to ground level is transported at least three feet away from the perimeter of your house (a short piece of drain pipe will do here). For best results, it is recommended that roof water be carried to a location as close to a community storm drain as possible.

Season changes provide a good schedule for cleaning or changing the filters in your central heating and/or cooling system.

Clean filters maximize system efficiency and minimize operating costs. Best of all, the best filters money can buy are very inexpensive and take only a minute or two to install (four seasons, four filter changes).

Another wonderful money-saving method of keeping precious heated air in and unwanted cold air out is to purchase and install plate gaskets for electrical switches and plugs.

Best results are achieved by concentrating on exterior walls, but this is so inexpensive and simple a task that the extra precaution of doing interior walls as well makes a lot of sense. The California Energy Code gives a high rating to this procedure.

When you keep water out and warm air in, your winter will be more comfortable and, chances are, the following summer will be more repair- -free than ever before.

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