When searching for a contractor, I always urge potential customers to check various sources instead of relying on one website. Besides looking through the usual, Google, Yelp, Angie’s List, etc., I also suggest Googling a company’s owner to see if there’s anything you can find on them, but also not being afraid of using the second and third pages on search engines to see things that might have been intentionally buried. What you also have to consider when reading reviews, is how tightly some reviews are posted after bad ones. For instance, some companies may have four or five good reviews which were posted months ago and then recently got a set of two or three bad reviews. Within days they’ll have a couple of new good reviews which sound a lot alike trying to push the bad reviews down the chain a bit. Another tactic is a little more extreme, but some companies have had five to eight reviews compiled in the last several years and a couple of them may be bad. Then out of no where, they’ll have twenty, thirty and even up sixty new reviews all within the last three months explaining how great the company is while all sounding pretty much the same. They’ll use the same sentences like, “He always wore booties in my house,” or “they fixed the problem within two hours.” Sure if you provide a service that’s specific some of your reviews will have similar compliments, but when you read ten reviews that all sound alike, and all are constructed within three sentences and use exclamations in the same fashion, then you know there may be a problem. As I always remind everyone, hiring a contractor is a part time partnership and you’re allowing someone in your home and into your lives for a brief time, so you’re due diligence is what separates that from being a good or bad experience.
For most, the kitchen is the heart of the home, especially during the holidays. From testing family recipes to decorating cakes and cookies, everyone enjoys being part of the preparations. So keeping fire safety top of mind in the kitchen during this joyous but hectic time is important, especially when there’s a lot of activity and people at home. As you start preparing your holiday schedule and organizing that large family feast, remember, by following a few simple safety tips you can enjoy time with your loved ones and keep yourself and your family safer from fire.
Thanksgiving By The Numbers
- Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas Day and Christmas Eve.
- In 2014, nearly four times as many home cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving as on a typical day.
- In 2014, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 1,730 home cooking fires on Thanksgiving, the peak day for such fires.
- Unattended cooking was by far the leading contributing factor in cooking fires and fire deaths.
- Cooking equipment was involved in almost half (48%) of all reported home fires and civilian and tied with heating equipment for the second leading cause of home fire deaths.
- Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking on the stovetop so you can keep an eye on the food.
- Stay in the home when cooking your turkey and check on it frequently.
- Keep children away from the stove. The stove will be hot and kids should stay 3 feet away.
- Make sure kids stay away from hot food and liquids. The steam or splash from vegetables, gravy or coffee could cause serious burns.
- Keep the floor clear so you don’t trip over kids, toys, pocketbooks or bags.
- Keep knives out of the reach of children.
- Be sure electric cords from an electric knife, coffee maker, plate warmer or mixer are not dangling off the counter within easy reach of a child.
- Keep matches and utility lighters out of the reach of children — up high in a locked cabinet.
- Never leave children alone in room with a lit candle.
- Make sure your smoke alarms are working. Test them by pushing the test button.
It’s hard to beat the speed of deep-frying a turkey—or the irresistible flavor and juiciness that result. But turkey fryers have the potential to cause fire and serious injury, which is why organizations like Underwriters Laboratories and the National Fire Protection Association advise against using them. If you plan to deep-fry your holiday bird, be sure you know how to safely use the fryer, and take these precautions to protect yourself, your guests and your home:
- Keep outdoor fryers off decks, out of garages and a safe distance away from trees and other structures.
- Make sure the turkey is thawed and dry before cooking. Ice or water that mixes into the hot oil can cause flare-ups.
- Watch the weather. Never operate a fryer outdoors in the rain or snow.
- Place the fryer on a level surface, and avoid moving it once it’s in use.
- Leave 2 feet between the tank and the burner when using a propane-powered fryer.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid overfilling. Oil can ignite when it makes contact with the burner.
- Choose a smaller turkey for frying. A bird that’s 8 to 10 pounds is best; pass on turkeys over 12 pounds.
- Never leave fryers unattended.
- Purchase a fryer with temperature controls, and watch the oil temperature carefully. Cooking oil that is heated beyond its smoke point can catch fire. If you notice the oil is smoking, turn the fryer off.
- Turn off the burner before lowering the turkey into the oil. Once the turkey is submerged, turn the burner on.
- Wear goggles to shield your eyes, use oven mitts to protect your hands and arms and keep a grease-rated fire extinguisher close by.
- Skip the stuffing when frying turkey, and avoid water-based marinades.
- Keep children and pets away from the fryer at all times.
- Once finished, carefully remove the pot from the burner, place it on a level surface and cover to let the oil cool overnight before disposing.
- Opt for an oil-less fryer. This uses infrared heat, rather than oil, to cook the turkey.
When bidding joist or attic work, home owners can get varying prices from a few thousand to sometimes over ten thousand. But why are some prices very low? Beyond material cost which attributes to a lot of price discrepancies, most companies have inexperienced laborers and outright horrible work ethics, which leads to jobs being done wrong. Their cheaper prices basically translate to cheap work, and this can be a huge problem when dealing with mold remediation. Aside from cross contamination and a slew of other issues, some jobs may cost you double if not triple to redo after a company’s work has failed. Pictured below is a crawl space where a remediation contractor claimed to properly remove and encapsulate the mold covered surfaces. Within a few months, the mold was back, and we were called to fix it right. When hiring a mold remediation contractor you have to remember you really do get what you pay for.
Too many times issues in our homes are overlooked and perceived as minor. But even minor issues left to dwell and fester over time can become major problems. Recently we had dealt with a water loss in a kitchen which originated under the sink. The customer decided to put towels down to catch the water instead of contacting a plumber. Now this may seem like one in a million, but things like this and many other examples of not dealing with home repairs occur more often than not. The leak finally caused the cabinet to rot, but mold grew not only on the cabinet, but behind the wall and onto the two cabinets next to the sink base. Additionally, the leak caused severe damage to the flooring and the basement joists, all of which were beyond remediation, and needed complete replacement. This small leak, turned into a job that cost these home owners eleven thousand dollars. Thats’s because they needed to pay for mold remediation, cabinet and flooring replacement, joist replacement, drywall and tiling work to be redone and a considerable amount of painting. Even if you’re issue seems small, don’t let it grow into a major problem by saying, “I’ll deal with it tomorrow.”
The first two pictures below show wet and blackened wood. If you look closely towards the bottom of the shot, running parallel with the center piece of framing, is the cracked stack pipe. For this job, not only was the plaster removed, but as you can see in the last picture, the wood slats also had to be removed to expose the pipe and to clean the surfaces.